Archive for March, 2007

An afternoon (okay, an hour) at the museum

An afternoon (okay, an hour) in the museumEvery time I go to the Singapore Art Museum, I’m amazed at how quiet it is. Quiet relative to the traffic storming down Bras Basah Road just some metres away. Quiet compared to most public spaces in Singapore, especially on the weekend.

I guess quiet is a good thing, because it means that museum visitors don’t have to contend with children running wild or cell phones going off every few minutes. Plenty of hushed space in which to contemplate art — or to just zone out for a bit.

I was at the museum to see the Chen Wen Hsi Centennial Exhibition. I grew up seeing a lot of Chen’s paintings because my dad was a big fan, and my parents would drag my brother and I (yeah, I wasn’t so keen on art then) to Chen’s shop in Tanglin Shopping Centre where they would examine his latest work and make an offer on whatever caught their eye.

This exhibition brings together a real spectrum of Chen’s work, from the very realistic portraits and landscapes of his early work, to the distinctive Chinese finger-paintings of gibbons and sparrows, to more abstract explorations. It’s a great primer for anyone who isn’t already familiar with Chen’s work, or for those who might be curious about how Singapore artists synthesise Eastern and Western styles. I still like the Chinese-style paintings that I remember from my childhood, but the abstract pieces are captivating in their own way too.

The exhibition is on till 8 April (as usual, I procrastinated and waited till it was almost over before I went to see it). Admission to the museum is just $5 — a real bargain for the quality of this and other exhibitions that are going on at the moment.

An anti-smoking nightmare

I recently wrote about the new anti-smoking ads that were about to be unleashed in Singapore. They made an impact all right: the airing of the TV ad prompted so many complaints from parents about its graphic nature that the Health Promotion Board has promised to air it only after 8 pm (not that I know any school-going children who go to bed by 8 pm).

What constitutes “graphic” in these parents’ books? An advertisement showing a woman suffering from oral cancer, with a diseased tongue, teeth and lips. I haven’t seen the complete TV ad yet, but catching a glimpse of the end of it a couple of nights ago was enough to give me the creeps. I’m not sure that it would necessarily make me quit smoking, if I were a smoker, but I can appreciate why it gave at least one nine-year-old child nightmares (as dutifully reported by Channel NewsAsia).

At the same time, it may not be the image alone that gave the kids something to scream about. By today’s horror-movie standards, the depiction of the cancer victim’s par for the course. But perhaps seeing such an image in the middle of prime-time programming was sufficiently jarring to spook a kid or two. Enough to stop them from experimenting with cigarettes when they get older? We’ll see.

A glimpse of life here

I figure since I might not be as opinionated as others, I might as well just put stuff that showcases what’s life like over here in this really sunny and currently humid island country. Presenting the snapshots…


So here we have the cat at lies asleep on chairs at the Cheese Prata place near NUS. Asleep.


This is quite cool. The new double decker buses have accessibility enhancements for the disabled. I think this is the button that extends the ramp.


Toyota not-so-Crowned.


One of the few M3s in Singapore.


Another one of them!

The Lamborghini Murcielago Convertible

Another nice car.

And that’s it for now. Until next time. Enjoy some sights of Singapore.

Should a Christian play dungeons and dragons in Singapore?

Strangely enough, while I was looking up “Dungeons and Dragons” over Google, I found out that a site with the title of “Should a Christian play Dungeons and Dragons” was made unavaliable by the MDA. The same happened with another site named “Dark Dungeons”. I wonder what’s up with that. The funny thing is that the Dungeons and Dragons game line is readily avaliable over here in Borders and certain comic stores. Why then the avoidance to allow sites that talk about it with regards to religion? I’m quite sure that won’t prevent various groups from voicing their own concern about the hobby too.

Trying to gross us out some more

Singapore's Cigarette Box Campaign
Image by Adam Chamness

Every year, the government launches a “new” anti-smoking campaign. Ever year, it tries to gross us out (smokers and non-smokers alike) with ever more graphic images of The Bad Things Smoking Does To Your Body. We’re still living with images of people with throat cancer and rotting teeth on our cigarette packaging, but from what Channel NewsAsia reported last night, the latest campaign will be even more “hard-hitting” and feature graphic TV ads with cancer sufferers.

I’m not surprised that the anti-smoking campaign is sticking with the scare tactic, since to approach it any differently would appear to soften their approach. But does it work with the 12 per cent or so of Singaporeans who smoke? The percentage has gone down by only 3 per cent over the past 6 years (according to the statistics cited in the CNA report).

Anecdotally, I’d say that all my friends who smoke don’t even notice the graphic images on the cigarette packaging anymore. If it’s remarked upon, it’s only to make a dark joke about how one should start collecting the full set — hardly what the anti-smoking campaign intended. Which is the thing about using graphic images for any purpose: after a certain point, the eye simply becomes inured to the image, no matter how initially revolting it was, and then doesn’t “see” it anymore. Plus at a certain point, they’ve simply crossed the line and could be considered as simply bad taste.

Let’s see how much the new TV ad campaign antes up the gross-out quotient then.

New Metblog in our neighbourhood

The Kuala Lumpur Metblog is open for business! It’s great to have another Metblog in our corner of Southeast Asia, all the better to share tips for breakfast, an obsession with rankings and grumbling about road closures for parades.

One thing that’s distinctly different about the KL Metblog vs. the Singapore one — they’ve already started taking potshots at their politicians. More power to them! Plus now I know which site I’m turning to the next time I need the hottest tips on good places to shop and party up north.

Students welcome


Starbucks welcomes all you students to study on their premises while Macdonald’s chases you away.

Singapore not No. 1 (subway system)


Alright, I’m done making fun of the local media’s predilection for crowing loudly every time Singapore makes it as No. 1 on some dubious list like the world’s best toilets or something.

So Virgin Vacations recently ran a list of what they think are the world’s Top 11 underground transit systems (don’t ask me why the list arbitrarily ends at 11 instead of a round number like 10 — maybe there was a tie in ranking one of them). Singapore’s noticeably absent from the list, and I say noticeably because the list otherwise seems to include the greatest hits of Asia: Tokyo, Seoul, Beijing and Hong Kong.

An MRT train goes on and on ... The exclusion of Singapore seems even odder because the Virgin list seems to prize all the qualities that Singapore’s MRT system has: timeliness, efficiency, safety, cleanliness, electronic signs telling you how much longer you have to wait till the next train, modest train fares, painless ticketing systems, reasonably comfortable train carriages.

Ah, but there’s something else they like: good architecture and design.

lab pond?

lab pond?

Originally uploaded by Liangcai.

I took this while trying to navigate my way around the University Science faculty. The countless labs with doors labelled with biohazard signs, the confounding corridors, I would surely die if this were some zombie movie. Anyhow, I spotted this strange ‘pond’ right outside one of the lab areas. Mind you, it was on the 3rd floor or something, a really odd place to have a pond like that. It even had terrapins swimming in it. Hmm. I wonder if they use them for expeiments or something.

Having a bit of fun on your birthday

Birthdays are one of those things. Some people love it, others try to avoid reminding themselves that they are one step nearer to their graves. Well I’m glad to say that there are people out there who bother making others’ birthdays a great experience. Just got back from Fish and Co near Douby Gaut, and all together I saw the staff celebrating birthdays for two customers with lots of noise and great gusto. A big kudos to them for making someone’s day very special tonight.

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