Friday, August 31, 2012

GNIE: Surprise holiday assignment

At around 10pm on Thursday, I received a text message from IT:
"Hey guys! Have you checked ur email? We have assignment and it's a bonus that will be added directly to our grade! Please pass to our classmates!"
Apparently our next semester's lecturer sent an email to all students on Wednesday at 9:50pm to spring a surprise holiday assignment upon us due at 9am (the start of our first lesson) on the first day of semester 3. There is no penalty if we did not do the assignment, but we may get a maximum of 2 bonus points (to be added to our final grade) if we do it correctly.

I am happy that IT added "Please pass to our classmates!" in his text message. Previously, IT would have either just did his own share or told a few of the Filipinos close to him. [Note: I count as a "Filipino".] IT is hardworking and smart. IMHO, he would have survived (and even do well) independently anyway. The fact that IT now looks beyond himself and his in-group shows that he has progressed to turning the wheel of teamwork proactively. He understands the win-win* benefits of teamwork and friendly-competition. [*Note: IT is one of the 4 selected to do Practicum in a Surgery unit.]

I emailed everyone in my sub-group (including WA who is now "adopted" by us) about the surprise assignment. Hopefully everyone gets round to doing the quick-and-simple assignment and earns some bonus points.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

GNIE: Tips to get into Kwantlen's GNIE

I saw that a visitor had Googled (from Canada) for "tips to get into gnie program kwantlen" and landed on my "IEN preparing to apply to CRNBC" blog post. I do not know which stage of the process you are at.

Just FYI, if you have already received the CRNBC SEC assessment result informing you that you need to do a nursing re-entry program, then the following reply to Marie on my other blog post "GNIE: Pre-course expenses" may be more relevant to you.

But first a DECLARATION and DISCLAIMER: The following is my personal opinion. I am not an Admissions Officer or in any way qualified to give "student advice" and thus any content from me shall be construed as a sharing of personal opinion, not advice. 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.


[Here are the comments extracted from my earlier blog post. Selected sections bolded by me for highlight.]

Marie commented on Tuesday, August 21, 2012 4:18:00 PM:
Very informative site here. How long did you wait before you got into Kwantlen University? I heard there is a long waiting list to be accepted to the GNEA program.
Winking Doll replied on Saturday, August 25, 2012 8:15:00 PM:
Hi Marie, 
Firstly, congratulations if you've obtained the SEC result to do a 1 year re-entry program. Having passed through 2 of 3 GNIE semesters, I am happy to share that I find the GNIE program a very useful and helpful step-by-step integration into the B.C. healthcare system. 
FYI, I applied for GNIE on 01-Jul-2011, I received the confirmation for the Summer-2012 (i.e. May-2012) GNIE intake on 12-Jul-2011. Yes, that's 10 months before the actual course date. My group was lucky in that the B.C. government decided to sponsor an additional cohort and we brought forward our enrolment to Spring-2012 (Jan-2012). 
As far as I understand, for each cohort, there are often more than 200 applications received for the limited 30 to 35 places. Thus it is a good idea to ask the Kwantlen Admissions Officer (in Langley since the Nursing School has moved to there) for the details required for the application, prepare in advance and logon to apply AT EXACTLY 12 MID-NIGHT on the application opening date. Within 15 minutes, all the seats were taken up for my cohort -- that is all 35 of us were either on previous intake's wait-list or had stayed up that night to "bid" online for our GNIE seat. 
That is how competitive it is. Some of my classmates even passed their information to their spouses/friends and had several simultaneous application attempts to ensure that they get their application completed at the earliest possible time [i.e. depending on which friend completed typing in the details and submitting the online registration fees fastest]. I am not recommending that you do that, just wanted to show you how COMPETITIVE it is. 
I heard that in the rare instances if/when the computer system should fail (i.e. for some reason the online application for GNIE was not available on the specified application date OR the [Kwantlen] computer system crashed), your best bet is to get your friends to continue trying online (on your behalf), while you camp overnight outside any Kwantlen campus to be amongst the earliest in the Admissions Office queue when it opens. If there really was a computer flaw and there isn't any valid online application received, they will accept applicants on a first-come first-serve basis. E.g. The 1st 4 GNIE applicants in the [Admissions Office] line from each campus location get the seats. Yes, this is not a joke. It had happened before. Think of it this way, suffer "camping" one night and you get your place confirmed. 
Please be proactive about your application for the GNIE program. I have heard from my classmates that there are people who did not bother to stay awake to submit their applications at 12 midnight and year-after-year they are still "waiting" to get a place. Good luck! 
Cheers, WD.

So to the anonymous visitor who Googled for "tips to get into gnie program kwantlen": I hope the above is helpful. Good luck on your nursing journey in Canada!

Dîner en couleurs [Dinner in colours]

Here's an update on the dinner gathering at my place. Privately, I call it (tongue-in-cheek) "dîner en couleurs" [dinner in colours]. No posh table, chairs and dressing-up for us. I did not even have enough proper cutlery, so we improvised 2 large cups as "individual-use" bowls. In fact, the 2 guys squatted on plastic stools as you can see in the photo below. But we all enjoyed the food and the company.

Before my friends came, I emailed them the menu in English and Mandarin -- my contribution to our French-Mandarin language exchange programme. I stated that [most of] the dishes would be Cantonese peasant food, stuff that I ate as a child in Singapore.

Shortly after we started eating around the coffee (dining) table
Dishes clock-wise from top-left: Braised peanuts, Cantonese congee, stir-fry cabbage with mock "fish cake", mixed-pepper chilli-oil cashew nuts, rendang mock "beef", stir-fry potatoes with mock "meat" (gluten) and shitake mushrooms, Chinese donuts a.k.a. "you zhar gueh" [油炸鬼 or 炸油条]

Dishes clock-wise from bottom-left: "steamed" (microwaved) double-eggs (fresh chicken eggs and salted eggs), stir-fry cabbage with mock "fish cake", mixed-pepper chilli-oil cashew nuts, rendang mock "beef", stir-fry potatoes with mock "meat" (gluten) and shitake mushrooms

What is left of the soya bean milk. The tau huay is all eaten up by me liao (already)!

Food lovingly prepared is usually food enjoyed. I spent 4 hours the night before braising the peanuts over a "low" fire as I do not have an automatic slow-cooker. I spent another 2 hours earlier that day to cook the congee until each rice grain was broken. [My landlord and my "next-room" housemate can attest to my long hours spent hogging the stove.] In the end, I did not have enough time to steam the eggs, so it was microwaved instead.

The verdict: "delicious!" was the feedback. As you can tell from the photo above, more than half of the large pot of congee (almost full pot at the beginning) disappeared into our stomachs shortly after the meal began. [As usual, I forgot to take a photo right at the start of the meal.] When dessert came round, each of us only had stomach-space left for a small serving of tau huay [豆花] (soya bean curd) in tau huay zhui [豆花水] (soya bean milk). But as usual, we gobbled the dessert down before I remember to take a photo. [In fact, I only remembered to take a photo just now (2 days later), but I had (already) finished eating the remaining tau huay liao!] Yes, I had cooked way too much for 4!

As per EM's suggestion, I have frozen some leftovers for our next French-Mandarin class at my French friends' home. AA and EM will have a freezer soon. When they do, EM plans to make Chinese dumplings. I will probably share my mother's "wanton" [云吞] recipe with her.


Btw, I received a surprise birthday gift from AA and EM that evening. A very lovely and useful pair of hiking boots!
Note: This is on top of the impromptu birthday cake they baked for me at their place on my birthday, some days ago. It was impromptu because I did not tell them in advance that it was my birthday.
My new hiking boots

USA Kids Size 6 boots

Because of my small feet (22cm), it is difficult to buy shoes here in Canada. [Click here for a photo of my foot measurement.] Once I ended up buying a pair of black size 6 1/2 (adult-size) just-below-knee length boots because:
  • I totally love its design;
  • I wanted a pair of boots with slight heels; 
  • It was on sale at a good discount; and
  • I could not find anything else nice, that fits my feet, and is within my budget.
I ended up wearing 2 pairs of socks underneath to fit into the boots. Well, I am ok with that, given that the just-below-knee length boots are meant for the cooler/cold climate.

Back to my birthday boots. I am going to wear them during my vacation trip to Banff National Park (Alberta) with PN, EM, ZS and JX this long weekend. [Note: Monday 03-Sep-2012 is Labour Day in Canada.] It will be my first trip outside of B.C. since arriving here almost 2 years ago.

Isn't it glorious to have awesome friends? [Click here and here for some of my adventures with them.]


Sunday, August 26, 2012

Goodbye, Mr SMS!

I had a series of emails back and forth with SMS recently. I think it is safe for me to say that I am finally ready to say, "Goodbye, Mr SMS!" without anger or regret.

Just to share with my readers who were into following my "A Love Story" series. Here is the concluding episode of the side-story (Mr SMS) within "A Love Story".


From: [SMS]
To: [WD]
Sent: Monday, July 16, 2012 2:32 AM
Subject: I hope you are well

Hi [WD],

I hope this mail will find you well.
A lot of thing are happening around but a short message to you after this long silence was important to me.
Take care and I hope to hear from you soon.


From: [WD]

To: [SMS]
Sent: Monday, July 23, 2012 4:02 PM
Subject: Re: I hope you are well

Hi [SMS], We are not young people with lots of time to waste in life anymore. If you can come straight to the point, I will try to give you a straight answer as much as possible. Why are you contacting me? What is it that you want?


From: [SMS]
To: [WD] 
Sent: [Some day in August, 2012]
Subject: Happy Birthday to you :-)

Hi [WD],

Happy Birthday to you with all my best wiches.

Take care and I hope we'll see each other soon.


From: [WD]
To: [SMS] 
Sent: [Some day in August, 2012]
Subject: Re: Happy Birthday to you :-)

Dear [SMS],

Thank you for remembering my birthday. It is my sincere wish not to meet you ever again. In fact, it is best that you do not contact me at all. I hope you will grant me this birthday wish. Some things in the past are best left as vague memories. I am sorry. I would rather enjoy solitude than be miserable in love.

I wish you all the best for your future happiness. I know you will understand that I am trying very hard to move on and to rebuild for myself a simple and happy life here in Canada.

Best Regards,


Thereafter I received a spam email from his account. My guess is that his email had probably been hacked given that there were a few other addressees to that spam mail. SMS never sent me an email with other recipients -- it was as if our whole relationship is under-wraps [见不得光], which it is not and should not be.

So I forwarded the spam mail to his account with the email header encoding enclosed, so that he can make a report to his email administrator.


From: [WD]
To: [SMS] 
Sent: Tuesday, August 21, 2012 2:32 PM
Subject: Re: Email hacked?

Hi [SMS], Just FYI. I think your email has been hacked and used for spamming.
[Snipped: Full header and original spam email attached.]


From: [SMS]
To: [WD] 
Sent: Tuesday, August 21, 2012 3:08 PM
Subject: RE: Email hacked?

Hi [WD],
Thank you for the information. Yes, I have seen the problem and already changed the password. I'm not sure how it could happen but at least now it should not happen again. :-).

I have tried to forget you but I have not been able to. You meen more to me than just a mail or a kiss or a hug. I like your humor and understand your anger which hurts - and it should - sorry that I hurted you - I would love to repair the errors I've made in the past.

Take care [WD] and with a tender hug,


When I received the above reply from SMS, my heart weeped -- the same sort of sorrow that SMS once displaced with love and care from my heart. After 10+ years of moving beyond a platonic relationship, SMS still cannot bring himself to say that he loves me. After 10+ years of "on-and-off" relationship, he still defines our relationship by "othering" instead of declaring what he wants to happen between us and what he hopes for in our relationship -- declarations that men who eventually marry their partners make. I am sorry. IMHO, such emotional evasion methods (e.g. "othering" a relationship) are often used by liars/cheaters in relationships because when they want to exit the relationship, they would cite that "I never promised you ..." or "I never said that we are ..." or "I never claimed to ..." -- excuses that SMS himself had used before. Thus, I decided not to reply SMS or entertain his pleads. 

So, "Goodbye, Mr SMS!" I bear you no grudge. I have cried my heart dry over you, as such I no longer wish to handle any relationship drama from you. I do not regret our relationship for it had good times and I have since learned from the bad times. Been there, done that, checked. Time to move on!

Singapore National Day dinner

When I read LIFT's blog post "Est-ce que le tauhuay n'est pas assez atas?" about the PR disaster by Dîner En Blanc Singapore Organising Committee, I felt compelled to share about my recent Singapore National Day dinner celebration with some friends.

I invited my usual group of close friends to celebrate Singapore's National Day with me by dining at a Singaporean restaurant. GX, HW (the PRCs) and PN (Singaporean) could not make it. ZS's wife (JX) is still in Alberta. So it was ZS, AA, EM and myself -- the Hollyburn mountain hike gang. Firstly, a breakdown of the nationalities.
  • ZS is a PRC who had worked for some years in Singapore.
  • AA and EM are both French from France (i.e. not Quebecois).
  • I am a born-and-bred Singaporean.
Prata-man Restaurant, Richmond, B.C., Canada
Yummy Hainanese Chicken Rice

I spotted a Singaporean restaurant in Richmond (Prata-man Restaurant at Garden City Road, at Capstan Way, Richmond) and decided to try-out the place. Here's what we ordered.
  • Combo-set for 2 with Barley Drink, Mee Goreng, Satay, Hainanese Chicken Rice, etc - for AA and EM.
  • Tauhu Telur to share.
  • Lotong - mainly for me. AA and EM tried the soup.
  • Bak Ku Tea - for Zhang Si who shared his soup with AA and EM.
We all enjoyed the food. As usual, the servings are huge Canadian-sized portions -- too big for us. Like me, ZS has tasted authentic Singaporean food before and agreed with me that what we had was only an approximation of the delicious Singaporean food, but still something-approximate is better then nothing when one is away from Singapore. IMHO, only the Hainanese Chicken Rice was worthy of the authentic Singapore hawker centre standards. [Note: I did not eat the chicken, but I did try a bit of the rice and chilli for taste-testing.] I am probably biased, but Canadian food pales in comparison with Singaporean food. Even an average to so-so approximation of Singaporean food (which, IMHO, is how I would score Prata-man's food) scored 86% Likes (out of 90 votes) and 4 out of 5 stars (for the food). I plan to check-out other "recommended" Singaporean and/or Malaysian restaurants in future. Right now, the only place in B.C. that I know for sure I can eat authentic Singaporean food is at Uncle Wing's (where I had dined once).

AA and EM really enjoyed the food. You can tell that from the photo below -- we were half-finished before we even remembered to take a photo for the memories! So, no, at least the 2 French that I hang out with love Singaporean food. In fact, AA and EM doggie-bagged the leftovers so that we can continue to enjoy the "good food" for dinner at their place, where we had planned to meet up the following night. [Btw, I had shared with them nasi lemak, curry and laksa on previous occasions and they love those too, albeit with toned down chilli-hotness.]

We forgot to take a photo before we started eating

We plan to visit Singapore together in a few years' time, so that I can show them the many truly awesome authentic Singaporean food. They are so looking forward to the trip -- because enjoying good food (whatever the origin) is a big part of the French culture.

p.s. I was wondering what to get for dessert when they come over to my place for dinner and French-Mandarin language-exchange lesson next week. Now I've got an idea, tau huay it shall be!

Filipino party and Coquitlam river

The Filipinos in my GNIE sub-group decided to have a BBQ/party and invited me along. I am officially their "adopted Filipino". Cool! We also adopted a Filipino from the other sub-group as he fits better with my sub-group than with his own sub-group, given his easy-going attitude (see "neutral party in Group A" in my earlier blog entry).
At Practicum, we learnt from a Filipino RN there who was our senior from the GNEA program (predecessor of the GNIE program) that their class had a Polish who was "adopted" by the Filipinos in their sub-group too.
AA and I were sad that LP has left our sub-group for she was the "social glue" of the Filipino sub-group. With LP gone, I resolved to make more effort to befriend DL and JC. [Click here and here for my past experience with them.] Afterall, despite some of my negative experience with them, I recognize that their behaviour was more driven by insecurity than anything else. From private feedback (i.e. individuals telling/complaining to me his/her experience with them), I recognize that their behaviour was not personally directed at me. E.g. Even their fellow Filipinos suffered backstabbing from them. It is just who they are at this current point. 
In case you are wondering why I would increase my effort to befriend DL and JC despite their history of backstabbing, even of "their own kind". Here are some wise words borrowed from Dotseng, "This is how politics is conducted in business – there are never any true enemies or friends only merchants of convenience play this game."
Anyway, we had a really nice afternoon, with jovial people bringing food to the potluck. There was lots of yummy food. IJ baked some creamed potatoes (2 special bacon-free pieces for me) and roasted a pig's head for the first time. And I can tell from the colour and texture (by touch) that he did the pig's head excellently. [Albeit I did not eat the pig's head because I am vegetarian.] JC and DL prepared a lovely salad, with shrimp paste similar to Thai salad. [I ate a bit of that to "give face". Thankfully, I'm not so strictly vegetarian.] The desserts prepared by Mrs IT (egg custard flan) and Mrs WA (cassava flan) were excellent. I brought along perogi. Other food include beef spaghetti, Crispy Creme donuts, KFC nuggets (especially popular with the children), spring rolls (non-vegetarian), yam fries, and various items (including ice-cream sandwich) from IJ's well-stock fridge. IJ was a really great host -- stuffing us with so much food and drinks (soda, beer, wine, etc), and keeping us away from doing the dishes!

Coquitlam River

After we have gorged ourselves silly with food, we decided to take a walk down to Coquitlam river nearby. The summer air was warm, trees were shady, the river water was cool and clear, so clear that you can see each pebble on the riverbed. IJ warned us to watch out for bears as he had seen them before at the park. We did not meet any bear but JC incredibly caught a bird with her bare hands! As the bird flew and hopped by the group, various persons made failed attempts at catching it. Only JC was persistent enough to keep trying and finally caught the bird. She was so gentle with it -- stroking the initially-frightened and struggling bird, until it calmed down and started looking around as if nothing happened while it nestled in JC's hand. Once JC opened her hand to release the bird, it flew away to a nearby tree and looked at us from high-grounds. The children had an awesome time playing in the water and throwing pebbles/rocks into the river. IJ said that he would invite us back to watch the salmons run upstream when the salmon spawning season arrives. We are all looking forward to it.

JC with a bird in her hand, 
definitely worth more than 2 in the bush!
Note: Struggling bird (L or top), Calm bird (R or bottom)

After the walk, we returned to IJ's home and resumed feasting. DL took out a karaoke set with tons of pre-recorded song. According to JC, every Filipino household has such a set because all Filipinos love to sing. In fact, everyone in the group (including 2 of the children) took turns to sing, except for the 2 Mrs and IJ. IJ declined to sing, he said that he couldn't sing well. It was a running joke that whenever I sang, either solo or as a duet, the system kept giving high scores -- that the karaoke system was perhaps "made in China" and therefore "racist". I agreed with the joke because frankly I was off-key, missed timings and missed words, etc, but the others sang well (especially JC).

At one point in the evening, IJ's mom who lives in the storey above dropped by. I am glad that she welcomed us and did not mind the ruckus we were creating in our merry-making. 

Time flies when one is having fun. Before long, IT bade goodbye as it was bedtime for his 4 month-old baby girl. [We joked that her nickname is "Semester 2" as she was born at the start of this GNIE semester.] We all left together as it was already past 9pm!

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Singapore National Day Haiku

I read online that some people wrote poetry and/or haiku for the Singapore National Day. It's a bit late, nevertheless here is my belated contribution. It is a haiku, since 新加坡 ("Singapore" in Mandarin Chinese) being 3-worded lends itself to Haiku lines.


Since Chinese poems have a tendency to switch meaning depending on the punctuations, I shall re-write the above with punctuations to illustrate my actual intent.


English translation:
The new and old sing in unison,
"Increase the people's happiness and prosperity, progress in justice and equality.
Through ups-and-downs, we march united."

Since there are so many new citizens and residents of Singapore, I truly hope that the haiku will come true for Singapore. That the newcomers and those born-and-bred Singaporeans will sing in unison. That they will ask for the country's wealth to be shared widely amongst the people (not just concentrated amongst the "elites") to increase the happiness and prosperity of its citizens; and to improve the justice and equality -- it must be seen to be done. [Click here, here and here for some examples.] When happiness, prosperity, progress, justice and equality are present, the people will march united through good and bad times.


If you read my comment on Gintai's blog entry dated 16/08/2012 at 08:58, you would realize that it is a feat that I can (still) read and write in Mandarin, what more to write haiku in Mandarin, given my pathetic Chinese standard during JC (junior college).

My first "professional" attempt at Mandarin poetry was back in 2002. I wrote a poem for a Chinese New Year (CNY) greeting using our bank's name and allusions to Singapore, and then I roped in my PRC colleague to edit it. Thereafter, we added an English translation of the CNY poem. We showed it to our bank's Asia-Pacific marketing department. They were so impressed with our work that they sponsored the creation of an animated e-card of the poem for the bank's email publicity (i.e. outsource work managed by my department). Not bad for teamwork between local Singaporeans and foreign talents, eh?

GNIE: End of 2nd semester

Last Sunday, my sub-group had our last day of Practicum. Thereafter, we celebrated the end of our GNIE 2nd semester at a restaurant together with our Clinical Instructor. We were really happy to complete the 2nd semester successfully, as we had heard from our seniors that it is the toughest and where students are most likely to fail. Indeed, we had lost 2 of our classmates during this semester's Surgery clinical experience.

Our Practicum CI is really helpful in planning forward for our nursing careers in Canada. She even added comments in our Evaluation Forms that she felt would help us clinch RN jobs in future. From my classmates' feedback, she individualized her handling of each student in recognition of his/her strengths, weaknesses, learning needs and approach. We are truly lucky to have her.

That said, various classmates have also privately feedback to me of various "kia-su" (overly-competitive) and/or culturally-insensitive behaviours amongst us. What would be considered "kia-su" and/or culturally insensitive? 2 examples below.
  • Hoarding the "easy" patients at every shift. There is no rule to prevent one from arriving early and picking the "choicest easy patients" for oneself. However, please be kind to your fellow classmates and share the workload evenly. Remember teamwork is crucial in nursing. If your team performs well as a group, you are all winners. E.g. 3 of the 4 students selected for Practicum at a Surgery unit -- and we were told they assign the best clinical students to the Surgery unit -- were from my previous clinical group. IMHO, I think it was because we had worked closely together as a group to support and cover each other that we did well as a group. I am very thankful to my clinical group members for their support and trust in my leadership.* [See below for more on leadership.]
  • Talking amongst nurses from your country-of-origin using your own language instead of English in a professional setting. Note: Even if the nurses at the unit insists on using non-English with you, you can still reply in English. E.g. AP did just that to the Filipino nurses at her unit talking to her in Tagalog. In that way, she fulfilled the GNIE Evaluation criteria of "Use of English".
I hope that future GNIE students reading my blog would make an effort to be team-oriented and remember to speak in English while playing the role of a GNIE student.


Something minor happened on the last day of clinical which confirmed (to me) that my classmates rely on me to set the path for our group.

Our CI decided to end our last day of clinical early since she was satisfied that all of us had met the requirements. My classmates gathered at the cafeteria with the CI. Unfortunately IT and I were delayed by about 45min as something cropped up at our unit. After several missed calls and unanswered text messages from my classmates, the CI sent one of them, X, to get us out of the unit. While the 3 of us were walking to the cafeteria, I asked my classmate X if they have called the restaurant to bring forward our dinner reservation. She replied that the CI had asked the class about the plan and the class replied that they did not know and wanted to wait for me. I was surprised, so I asked, "Isn't HJ (who made the restaurant reservation) there?" X replied, "Yes, but the class wanted you to decide."

I was both surprised and laughing inside. I do not see myself as a leader. IMHO, I am a reluctant, accidental "leader" who stepped up to the plate when the need arose.

Wednesday, August 08, 2012

Eyes wide open on National Day

As mentioned in my previous blog post, I am still keeping my eyes wide open to observe more about Singapore and my host country (Canada) over the next few years.

The Canadian system is far from perfect. Nevertheless, in general, it does not hide its ugliness. IMHO, by acknowledging the existence of problems/imperfections, they have already taken the first step to solving it (and/or managing its impact).

The Singapore system? Well you can read some of the Singapore bloggers posts (click here, here and here) for examples of the 治标不治本 ["solving the symptoms but not resolving the underlying issue"] approach taken by the PAP dominated government.

Still, PAP is only the past and current government of Singapore. PAP is NOT Singapore. Singapore is made up of its potpourri of native citizens, descendants of earlier immigrants-turned-citizens, its new immigrants-turned-citizens, its overseas citizens and not forgetting the 1+ million guests (foreign workers/residents).

Speaking as an overseas citizen, I believe the following Singapore song reflects the tune in many of our hearts.

I Still Love You

I have Singapore-citizen friends insinuating [click here for an example] that I am trying to hurt Singaporeans or even destroy Singapore in my criticisms of the effects of PAP-driven policies. Another Singapore-citizen friend (not illustrated in my blog as yet) even went so far as to suggest that I am in cahoots with some foreign parties/countries so that they would benefit from the issues that I bring up. I am sorry to disappoint her -- I have no hidden agenda; I am just sharing my thoughts as an ordinary Singapore citizen. IMHO, I doubt there would be any country in the world that is so obsessed with a "little red dot" as to throw money into an internet brigade to launch a "Singapore Spring". The only internet brigade, which I am aware of, that deals with Singapore issues is the one launched by PAP.

I have also received criticisms that claim that I "kow-beh kow-bu" [i.e. whine and whine] because I have unrealistic expectations and am clueless of the difficulties of running a country. I admit, I have zero experience in running any country [playing Sim-City or Risk does not count, heheh]. But then, IMHO, I am not unrealistic. If I had wanted a perfect country, a perfect system and a perfect government, I would not have chosen to immigrate to Canada. I tried to find out as much as possible -- the good, the bad and and the ugly -- about Canada before coming over. E.g. Some may not know it, but there used to be a website (created by disgruntled immigrants) that informed potential Canadian immigrants of the perils awaiting them. Thus, I don't think it is fair to accuse me of being unrealistic. Afterall, I have observed the underbelly of Metro Vancouver. E.g. I have been to East Hastings (where the homeless, the prostitutes and the druggies hang-out). I have also been to Commercial Drive (where the arty-farty, the "crazy", the poor, and the beggars hang-out).

In short, it does not matter what anyone wish/choose to believe is my true intention for wanting to share my thoughts. All that matters now, at this very moment, is that I would like to wish every Singapore citizen -- regardless of his/her race, language or religion -- life in a resilient democracy, the experience of justice and equality, and the achievement of happiness, prosperity and progress in his/her life. And for the guests (foreign workers/residents), I hope your sojourn in Singapore is fruitful.

Happy Singapore National Day!


For my thoughts on previous National Days, click as follow: 2011, 2010, and 2009.

Monday, August 06, 2012

A nobody speaks

I noticed that my blog received a flush of visitors referred from asingaporeanson's blog entry "Wayang Papaya". Asingaporeanson had generously lumped me with the big names of Singapore's blogosphere like Mr Brown, Lucky Tan, Yawning Bread, et al. He even considered me one of the many "highly educated professionals in the medical field".

Eeerrmm, I thought I had better clarify before anyone gets any grand ideas about who I am.



[Winking Doll's reply on asingaporeanson's blog entry dated 7 August 2012 08:29]

Hi asingaporeanson,

> "Winkingdoll? Toothfully yours? Lohandbehold? The last 3 being highly educated professionals in the medical field."

No lah, you've overestimated me [您过奖了]. I am just a nobody. An ordinary Singaporean who switched career to become a nurse.

To borrow some words from the infamous Wee Shu Min...

I am one of those "old ppl (ie, 40 and above) [who] fear for their jobs". My fear was (and is still) so great that it drove me to emigrate.

I came from "the sadder class", "the neighborhood poor". I know well enough to accept "my lot in life" that I should be grateful to have 3 meals/day (not restaurant nor food-court nor hawker-centre ones), a roof over my head, clothes on my back, and "affordable" healthcare that hopefully does not mis-diagnose me again!

Yet, given the trends in PAP-driven policies since the millennium, I felt that even my simple retirement plan (in Singapore) for 3 basic meals/day, a roof over my head, simple clothes, "affordable" healthcare is at risk.

While I have never written to the Straits Times Forum, my recent simple feedback on a minister's Facebook page was quietly removed. No, I did not use any cuss words nor call anyone names. Between my feedback and its removal was a (rather ugly) behind-the-scene Facebook discussion on an ex-schoolmate's Facebook wall, which aimed to connect alumni from the same school brand (of which the minister was from). Perhaps my simple feedback was written off as "incensed diatribe"?

I accept that perhaps I am "not good enough" for Singapore, so "life [in Singapore] will kick you [me] in the balls". Oh yes, I have no balls to face being kicked, that's why I left. I did not "go be friggin communist", but I did "go be friggin centralist" (i.e. Canadian politics is pretty much middle-of-the-road). That said, I am still observing, still watching with my eyes-wide-open before I make my final decision in a few years time.

As things stand now, in Singapore, I would be considered by an "elite, one of the sinners who will inherit the country and run his [my] stock to the gutter" as "one of many wretched, undermotivated, overassuming leeches in our country". In Canada, despite my current preference "to be unemployed" and previous part-time job "as a sales assistant", I and my stock are never considered "losers". You see, it is NOT the same everywhere, this “far too survival of fittest” society exists mainly in 3rd-world countries, USA and Singapore. USA has crashed. Will Singapore be next?

To repeat my main point, Asingaporeanson, you've overestimated me [您过奖了]. I am just a nobody.

Best Regards, WD.


I'm nobody! Who are you?
Are you nobody, too?
Then there's a pair of us — don't tell!
They'd banish us, you know.

How dreary to be somebody!
How public, like a frog
To tell your name the livelong day
To an admiring bog!

- By Emily Dickinson (1830-1886)

Saturday, August 04, 2012

Importing PRCs and Olympic medals

I left some comments on LIFT's blog and the "Musings from Aotearoa" blog with regards to Singapore's strategy of importing foreigners and thereby winning Olympic medals through them. I thought I would gather my comments here for easy future reference.

I declare that I am not particularly interested in sports. I watch it occasionally to admire the grace and beauty of the human form, the team-spirit and the spirit of endeavour that competitive sports brings out. I comment on this matter as an ordinary Singapore citizen, who is now a resident in a host country (Canada) and having met other (ex-)PRCs in both Singapore and that host country (Canada). I believe my views on this matter are typical of a regular Singapore citizen.

Firstly, IMHO, there is no glory in Singapore importing PRCs and thereby indirectly "buying" the Olympic wins. Glory for the individual sports(wo)man who trained hard for that Olympic medal for sure; but nope, no glory for a country that puts winning medals above developing the spirit of sportsmanship in its citizens.
Addendum on 06-Aug-2012: An analogy for those who who argue that born-and-bred Singaporeans will never have the talent, temerity or “吃苦” ability ["bear with hardship"] to win an Olympic medal. Imagine that you are an extremely-rich middle-aged parent who gave birth to an average child who at best scored B's in all his/her exams, but you want so much to win a Nobel Prize in your family's name, within your lifetime. Would you go to the best research universities in the world to adopt any promising researcher, dangling a $1 million carrot to win a Nobel prize in your family's name? Or would it make more sense to re-evaluate your desire to "win a Nobel prize in your family's name, within your lifetime" at any cost? There is no "right" or "wrong" answer, just a question of where your values lie.
Secondly, to share my observation of how some (ex-)PRCs views their allegiance, despite claiming citizenship from their host countries. [See my comment on the "Musings from Aotearoa" blog below.] IMHO, this may become an important national issue in Singapore in the long run, given Singapore's hyper-drive in welcoming immigrants from PRC. There is no point in telling the born-and-bred Singapore citizens ad-nausem to welcome these new citizens into our arms, because no matter how welcoming we are, (from my observation and generalization) for a significant group of these ex-PRC new-Singapore-citizens, their allegiance still lies with their birth country. Freudian slips don't lie. [Click here and here for examples of from (ex-)members of the ex-PRCs, new-Singapore-citizens Singapore Olympics female table tennis team.]


[Extract of my comments on LIFT's blog entry "Q&A: Who do you support at the Olympics?"]

Winking Doll wrote on 28 July 2012 05:19:
[... snipped earlier part of comment...] As for supporting which country's team, I am not particularly nationalistic, just enjoy watching the performances. That said, I felt excited watching the Canada and the Singapore contingents marching out. However, to be honest, when the commenter talked about how all eyes will be on the Singapore table-tennis team which won Silver at the last Olympics, all I could think of was that wasn't Singapore that won -- at best, Singapore spent a lot of money buying an Olympic medal -- it was China's "B team" that won. Not that I am against foreign talent. E.g. If Olympian Ronald Susilo were to win, I would consider that a Singapore win. I don't know how to explain it, but I feel that Ronald has integrated into the Singapore society and become one of us, but his ex-wife Li Jiawei (and I suspect her other ex-PRC/now-Singapore-citizen team-mates) are merely mercenary Olympians "selling their medals" to the highest bidding country. Sorry, I know it is not fair of me to prejudge others whom I do not know personally, but that's how I honestly feel.
Winking Doll wrote on 29 July 2012 02:49 in reply to LIFT's question about where do I draw the line on foreign involvement in Singapore sports.
Let's draw a hypothetical analogy with academic/research performance. Imagine that the Singapore government sets up a million-dollar reward for any Singapore-citizen who wins a Nobel prize. 
Example 1: Imagine that a Singapore-citizen student, who grew up in Singapore, goes to an Ivy-league or Oxbridge university to do research with the best minds in the world. Within a few years, he/she wins a Nobel prize and the Singapore government's reward as a result. (Ok, I know that is stretching the possibility, but please bear with it for the sake of the illustration.) In my mind, he/she is a Singapore-citizen who achieved greatness -- through a combination of excellent foreign guidance and his own efforts. 
Example 2: Imagine that a Swedish-citizen accepts a scholarship from the Singapore government to go to an Ivy-league or Oxbridge university to do research with the best minds in the world. But as a condition of the scholarship, the Swedish must surrender his/her Swedish-citizenship for a Singaporean one. The Swedish agreed to become a Singapore citizen, but made no attempt to integrate into the Singapore society. Within a few years, he/she wins a Nobel prize and the Singapore government's reward as a result. When interviewed by the Swedish media, he/she says [in Swedish], "自己是个斯德哥爾摩人, 又是瑞典人。 我希望能在自己的本土, 自己的地盘上, 能够取得一枚諾貝爾獎牌 。" ["I am a Stockholm native, also a Swedish. I hope that I can in my own country, on my home turf, win a Nobel prize."] Can he/she be considered a Singapore-citizen who achieved greatness? Technically speaking "yes", since he/she holds the Singapore passport now. But would the regular Singapore citizens consider him/her a fellow Singapore citizen, especially after what he/she said to the Swedish media? 
See the url below for what Li Jiawei told China's media back in 2008. A Freudian slip, perhaps? 
So in conclusion, I don't care if the Olympian was originally born outside of Singapore and/or if he/she trained overseas and/or if he/she had foreign coaches. I think if the Olympian managed to somehow integrate into the Singapore society and identifies himself/herself as a Singapore-citizen publicly (over-and-above that of his country of origin), then yes, I will support him/her to compete for Singapore. 
Another example for reference, LIFT. If Singapore hosts an Olympic games and UK paid for your full-time training so that you would represent UK for gymnastics in the Singapore Olympics. Would you tell the Singapore media that you are a Singaporean and want to win a medal on your home grounds? How would the Brits feel if you did that?
Winking Doll wrote on 30 July 2012 04:02 in reply to LIFT's comment on Singaporean's outrage at "PRC" flag-bearer.
Haha, I was expecting that the Singaporeans would be outraged that the flag bearer is a PRC, given the strong anti-PRC sentiments in Singapore right now. However, I would like to suggest a different (rather Canadian) way of looking at the flag bearer selection. 
Carrying a flag well is a strenuous task. If there is no wind, a good flag bearer would wave that pole to create some breeze to display the flag. If there is wind, the flag bearer would have to carry the pole against the resistance of the flag lapping in the breeze. Either way, carrying a flag requires much strength and uses up much energy. Therefore in Canada, the flag bearer role is seen as a "dirty job" -- for which only the Olympian deemed "sacrificable" would be "arrowed" to do. 
Cheers, WD.

[Extract of my comments on the "Musings from Aotearoa" blog entry "Olympics Fever"]

Winking Doll wrote on 04-Aug-2012:
Yeah, I agree with you. My Canadian-citizen (ex-PRC citizen house-mate) was so excited about China’s medals compared to Canada’s medals. I teased him, “你都以经是加拿大人了,怎麽还把自己当是中国人?出卖加拿大。” ["You're already a Canadian, why do you think of yourself as a PRC? (You're) Selling out Canada."] 
His concept was that all “yellow-skin people are PRCs” [黄皮膚 = 中国人]! Big joke!
[Edit: He also theorized about why China won so many medals.]
Then he said, “新加坡也有嬴浆的机会阿!大家都看好那乒乓队!” [Singapore also have a chance to win medals. Everyone have high expectations of the (Singapore female) ping-pong team (which comprises of PRCs fast-forwarded into newly-minted Singapore citizens).] 
I replied, “她们跟你一样,头脑老是把自己当是中国人。嬴了也不光采!” [They (the Singapore female table tennis team members) are just like you, keep thinking in their heads that they are PRCs. There is no glory (for Singapore) even if they win!"] 
So there you go, I have met a significant number of PRCs who have this concept of “yellow-skin people are PRCs” [黄皮膚 = 中国人]. There is no way they will integrate and/or change allegiance to their host country. At least some are honest about their allegiance and tell me frankly that they will only choose to remain as PRs. There are those who “want to have their cake and eat it too” like my housemate above, whose allegiance clearly remains with PRC, even if they have acquired their host country’s citizenship (and surrendered their PRC citizenship because of PRC’s laws). This group is the scariest, because they even expect people like myself to think like them (when my only connection to China — and it is the historical pre-Communist China, not even PRC as it exists today — is my 4 late grandparents). That is, these PRCs expect me to share their concept of “yellow-skin people are PRCs” [黄皮膚 = 中国人]. Sorry, mate! My fellow Singapore citizens of other skin colour are closer to my heart than you strangers. 
Cheers, WD.
[Click here for another peek into the mindset of this ex-PRC now-Canadian-citizen house mate.]


Interestingly (ex-)PRCs aren't the only ones who (IMHO) seem to have difficulty distinguishing ethnicity from nationality. From my observation, Filipinos are another group with the same difficulty. I wonder why.


There are dates, suitors, etc; men who are merely passer-bys in one's love life. Given my flaky memory, I am not sure if I remember all of them. It occurred to me that in writing the "A love story" series, I have mentioned 3 men that were involved in significant milestones of my love life.

TL - My first romantic kiss, my first steady boyfriend
AL - The first man that I went "au naturel" with, my first heart-wrenching love affair
SMS (click here, here and here) - My first sex (awesome!), the first ex-boyfriend with whom I refuse to keep in contact

To all these unforgettable men, and to all the wonderful people (men/women) out there who leave sweet memories for their (ex-)loved ones, here's a song dedication.

Unforgettable by Nat King Cole

A love story - Part 12

I was a perfectionist as a child. Whenever I came across a "Once upon a time..." story that did not end with the "and they all lived happily ever after" ending, I would reject the ending of the story and, in my mind, spin an alternate Disney-style ending.

One such show was the popular Oshin [おしん or 阿信] Japanese TV series broadcasted in the mid-1980's. In the final episode, Oshin's former boyfriend verbalized that he wondered about their paths if they had been married. Oshin replied,
"I feel that this way is the best. Because we are able to be alive at the same age, that we can continue to remain as best friends. ... (Of) Those with whom one can reminiscent about the past together, only you're left."
Oshin [Final episode]
Oshin shared her view on an old-flame relationship at 11:29.

When I first watched this TV finale as a teen, I could not understand why they chose such an "awful" ending (in my opinion at that time). Here was an elderly couple, who obviously still cared deeply for each other. There was nothing in the way of social convention stopping them from re-uniting as husband-and-wife, so why didn't they?

It was only after my love story with AL and perhaps with the passing years, that I have gained a bit of wisdom to appreciate the original ending.


Part 12 - 老友 [Old friends]

(A) Farewell lunch

Sometime in the mid or late-2000's, AL ended his secondment to Singapore and returned to Hong Kong. Before he left, we met up to have a farewell lunch together. Once again, he lamented about his life with 6Snoopys. He complained that even his parents were telling him off, “老婆是你自己选咯!” [i.e. "You chose your own wife!"] Then he said (in Cantonese), "You know what? She said that if we ever were to divorce, the daughter is mine and everything else goes to her!"

AL was expecting me to chorus to his tune, but I did not. Instead I told him (in Cantonese), "Right from the start she had told you that she did not want any children. You knew it. You were the one who insisted on having children. Despite all her objections, she gave you what you wanted. What more can you ask for?"

AL was taken aback by my retort. He paused. Then we switched topic and continue to chat as per our "old chum" days. That was the last time we met-up.

(B) Facebook friend request

In 2010, months before I left Singapore for Canada, I set-up a Facebook account to facilitate keeping in contact with friends and updating everyone of my status. As part of the initial Facebook set-up, I "exported" my email contacts to Facebook for the automated invitations to my friends to add me to their FB Friends lists.

I received a rather odd FB message from AL in response to my FB friend request. He wrote, "I am now a happily married man." Nothing else before, and nothing else after that cryptic statement. I smiled, knowing what he probably had thought of my FB friend request. Thus, I ignored his cryptic reply. Anyway, AL added me to his FB friend list.

(C) Happy Birthday!

AL's birthday had just passed last month. I sent him a private FB message with a simple greeting, "Happy Birthday!"

I used a private FB message because I am not sure if he would like others to know that I still remember his birthday. [Note: I can recall his birthday mainly because it is close to mine and both our birthdays share a mathematical feature.]

He replied, "Thanks ! Good to hear old friend blessing!"

I then replied, "哈哈,老友!:-D" ["Haha, old friend! :-D"]

I think AL understands what I mean. We are old friends [老友] in several ways. We are both getting on in years, having arrived at middle-age. [Note: AL is only a few years older than me.] We used to lament that we were aging, even back in our 30's. We had known each other for almost two decades now. Through this period, we have seen each other through our mutual good/bad/ugly sides, yet we are still friends.

There is something wonderful about having someone whose friendship withstands the test of time, and who can accept oneself as one is -- scars, scabs and all. Cheers to "Auld Lang Syne"!


This concludes the "A love story" series. I shall leave you with a lovely song that pretty much wraps up my experience as shared.

The Glory of Love
[Original sound track from the movie "Guess who's coming to dinner"]

Friday, August 03, 2012

A love story - Part 11

The Chinese, and I read somewhere, men in general, have a tendency to either idolize or demonize women. That is, women are seen as either
The 1994 Stanley Kwan movie “紅玫瑰白玫瑰” Red Rose White Rose (click here for a link to a China download website) illustrates this angel-or-devil classification very well.
"There are 2 women in Zhen Bao's life. One he calls "White Rose" - his chaste wife. The other, "Red Rose" - is his passionate mistress."
"He is a decent, respectable man who draws a clear distinction between a lady and a whore."
I received one serious marriage proposal in my life to date. As you will tell later, I felt compelled to turn down that marriage proposal for it would cast me into the 紅玫瑰 (Red Rose) role for which 我跳进黄河也洗不清 ["I cannot wash myself/my-reputation clean even if I jump into the Yellow River"].


Part 11 - The proposal

As mentioned in Parts 9 and 10, I broke up with AL once again after my trip to France and SMS won me over to begin a relationship with him. For a couple of years, AL and I were back to normal platonic friends. I cannot recall if we hung out (sorry, my memory system is pretty flaky). I think at most we had a couple of meals together chatting over life as we used to.

At that point, I felt that I had lost out on a once-in-a-lifetime chance to be with the "the one for life" with AL. The strange coincidences (click here and here) that led SMS to dance into my life at various points made me wonder if I was given a second chance at this game of "the one for life".
Slowly over time, I learned in my relationship with SMS that he was not willing to wait for about 4 years -- until I get my own home in Singapore -- before I join him in France. On my side, I was not willing to compromise my need for something to fall back on should the relationship fail. After all, as SMS revealed over time, he was only willing to offer lodgings in exchange for having a live-in girlfriend. I would have to make my own way to his part of France (not bustling Paris, but the Côte d'Azur region) and find my own source of income. Marriage was not on the cards -- not at all. From his perspective, he had already had one marriage which ended in divorce and an affair that burned him badly, he was not interested in offering a stable relationship arrangement. Thus, if I choose to go ahead with SMS, I definitely want and need a safety net of my own to fall back on. To top it off, I wanted to be independently wealthy, so that SMS's wealthy family cannot accuse me of being a gold-digger in the relationship.
To put a long story short, I decided to enter MLM full-time, driven by greed and a desperate wish to build a financial safety net quickly so as to pursue this rare second chance at love. I ignored the signs of potential trouble -- e.g. that the MLM that I joined did not have a mathematically sustainable reward system, the products were priced way beyond (10 times or more) its competitors, heavy sales psychology and group/peer pressure were employed throughout -- from making a sales to training sessions for "motivating" the independent representatives. Still I pursued that MLM blindly.
Note: With hindsight, I am not proud of myself for my actions/behaviour. That said, IMHO, not all direct sales systems are bad. E.g. I support my younger sister in her part-time pursuit at another well-established direct-sales company.
As part of the MLM sales process, we were required to list and approach every single person I know. Of course, given my rapport with AL, he was eventually roped in. I knew very well that he joined not because of the products, not because of the "training system", not because of the social network that MLM offered -- I knew very well that he joined to "buy" time with me. He consistently looked at me with those forlorn puppy love eyes which I pretended not to understand. Finally, after he attended the MLM's "life changing" weekend motivational camp, he said the following to me after sending me home to my doorstep.

"If I divorce my wife, 
      will you marry me?"

When I heard it, I was angry.
For one, whether AL divorced his wife (6Snoopys) or otherwise, it has nothing to do with me. Whatever happens between them is strictly their problem between 2 mentally capable adults. 
Secondly, I felt that AL should clear his problems with his wife (6Snoopys) before even thinking about engaging with another relationship. It was as if he had not learned anything about the pain caused by our love triangle -- with AL, 6Snoopys, and I. 
Thirdly, his conditional proposal gave me the sense that AL
(a) is afraid to be alone in life; and/or
(b) refused to be responsible and accountable for his potential divorce. It is like if anyone asked, AL can easily reply that his mistress (a.k.a. me -- the "Red Rose") insisted that he divorced his wife (a.k.a. 6Snoopys -- the "White Rose"), and he would come out of the mess still smelling like roses -- a.k.a. a "decent, respectable man". 
Fourthly, I felt insulted that AL, who knew clearly that I had embarked on another romantic relationship, would expect me to drop all other suitor(s) to wait-in-line for his availability.
And finally, even if AL did eventually become available, what made him think that our past together entitled him a short-cut to my hand-in-marriage? No way. While we were still friends, we have both changed over the years, we are no longer the same 2 persons who fell deeply and madly in love with each other almost a decade ago.
So no prize for guessing my answer. In the manners of a typical lady, I just replied, "No" -- no further explanation given.


Do I ever regret turning down a marriage proposal with a man that I had loved over so many years? Sometimes I wonder about the "what if's" but I don't dwell upon it.

In AL's case, I have learned over the years, from my relationship with him and from his sharing about his relationship with 6Snoopys, that his marriage relationship is precisely what he had created subconsciously. From my observation, AL is like the typical "responsible" Asian man who takes care of everything for his spouse and family. I would bet that 6Snoopys was attracted to him during their university days because of this "reliability"[可靠] about him. Over the years, as AL makes more and more of the big and small decisions in the couple's life, his partner will grow to become more and more dependent on him for every aspect of life [i.e. become a 小女人, i.e. a dependent woman]. As a result, the very dependency that AL eventually resented was actually groomed by him. It did not matter if AL's partner was 6Snoopys or myself, the result would still be the same -- a husband who subconsciously created a dependent wife (小女人), and he subsequently turn around to resent her dependence on him.

I never told AL about this observation of mine -- I did not have the heart to hurt him further. I never really regretted my decision as such. In fact, I consider it a blessing that my love life with AL was strewn with challenges. That experience forced me to learn the good/bad/ugly about myself, about the nature of romantic love, and to grow wiser over the years.


Story to be continued... in subsequent parts.