Monday, 30 July 2012

Misconceptions about PR

I always get quite upset when people say that PRs (Permanent Residents), or rather, PRs' privileges, are indistinguishable from a citizen's.

The only reason they are indistinguishable is really because the citizens who say so are simply too lazy to find out what the differences are, and have been living under a rock for too long.

To be honest, I have been a PR for so long that I am not too sure what my privileges are. I only know what I am not entitled to, cannot do or have:

1) PRs MUST serve NS (National Service)

I know that for sure because my brother was called up to do his. At some point, I happened to know that it is the 'second-generation' PRs who need to serve NS. My father is the 'first-generation' PR, so he was exempted from serving NS. In any case, NS was probably not made compulsory for anyone during my father's time.

2) PRs do not have voting rights

We don't vote during the General Elections simply because we are not citizens.

3) PRs do not have priority during P1 registration

At least in the 1980s, PRs were treated as foreigners. All 6 of us went to different primary schools because the schools ran out of places at the last phase and my father had to search far and wide for schools so that we could get an education. Our uniforms and textbooks were different. None of us could hand anything down to our siblings.

4) PRs do not get GST rebates or any form of monetary rebates

While the citizens taste the sweetness of getting monetary rebates of different forms from the government, PRs get nothing.

5) PRs can't buy a new flat

PRs can only buy resale flats, unless they marry a citizen. And flats are the reasons why two of my siblings have already switched to being citizens, and my brother would probably be the third in line to do so for the sake of a cheaper, government-subsidised flat.

6) PRs pay private patient charges when they give birth

I know that because I visited my mother at Koo's Clinic when she gave birth to my brother. My father said it was because they would be treated as private patients at KK Hospital anyway.

For something nearer to modern days, my sister gave birth 11 years ago and she didn't go KK for the same reason.

7) PRs have to renew their PRship every five years

Yeah, it is not a one-time thing. We renew our PRship every five years, subject to approval. In short, we need to prove our worth to retain our PRship. And believe me when I say I only realised that after my poor 'A' level results. Suddenly, it dawned upon me that my PRship was at stake. I only quite felt secure after I became a teacher.

8) Last but not all, PRs ARE NOT citizens

Surprisingly, quite a few people I spoke to on different occasions told me that I am, or considered as, Singaporean, because 'PR means Singaporean'. I felt like giving them a spank on the head, but I always suppressed that urge and patiently explained to them that the term 'PR' means 'Permanent Resident' and it means I am still a Malaysian by citizenship. And Singapore and Malaysia do not allow dual citizenship, so I am not a Singaporean.

The list is not exhaustive. I am sure there are grounds I have not covered, but I hope I have addressed at least a few common misconceptions about PRs.

It is my wish that Singaporeans get themselves educated on the PRs' (nil) entitlements and whatnot and stop saying that PRs enjoy all the benefits as citizens do but 'don't have to serve NS'. It only tells me how ignorant they are.

Innocence at its Best

I was on the bus, on the way to school, with Baby some time last week.

Out of the blue, she asked me in her natural, unpretentious and loud voice:


I was shocked. I had taken her on a buy-bra trip but that happened months ago.

I was sure I heard wrongly, or she pronounced her words wrongly.

I pretended not to hear her and kept quiet.

To my greater shock, she repeated her question with greater boldness:


Oh my goodness! I quickly answered, sheepishly, softly:

To wear lah ...

To my triple shock, she asked:


I almost died:

Yes lah ... Shhh ... Shhh ...

My classic baby:


Tuesday, 24 July 2012

Nice Pies & Awful (Iced) Coffees

 We headed out to Rochester Mall at Buona Vista for some pies and coffee last Sunday, for dinner to be exact.
 We reached there at about 8.30pm. Just opposite One Rochester with cheers of 'yuuuuummm ... seng ...!'

Desolate yet cosy, with very few patrons having their night-tea, or dinner, like us.
 A neat gadget. You place order at the counter and take this back to your table. When your order is ready, it lights up in red and you proceed to the counter to get your food.
 Mushroom soup. I'm a big fan of mushroom soups, but in this case, I prefer Jack's Place's.
Lamb shank pie. It comes in kid's, and normal, size.

The meat was broken up into tiny pieces to make the pie very eatable. The crust was so feathery it tore readily as you sink your fork in.

Lamb shank taste was unmistakeable. Soft and warm.

But Coco and I found it hard to eat the whole pie. Coco stopped at half of it while I forced the last one-third down my stomach. Not because it's awful, but for some reason, we felt very full.
 Chicken and mushroom pie. William had this and he commented that lamb shank pie was better.
 Judging from the content, I did not doubt his word.

It's a small cafe, with more seats in the open facing a zen fountain. But very cosy and relaxing atmosphere there. A kid-size pie cost $5.45 while a normal-size one cost about $9.95. Oh, forget about their iced coffees. They are literally 'ice' + 'milk coffee'! I'll take Starbucks and Coffeebean for their ice-blended anytime! 
Rochester Mall
35 Rochester Drive
#01-02, Singapore 138639
Tel: (65) 65700080

Opening hours:
Daily: 9am to 11pm

Monday, 23 July 2012

The Hi-5 Smile

It was the June holiday.

We chanced upon Hi-5's performance at United Square. She was so anxious about Hi-5 'going home' if I did not take a picture for her with them.

I scrutinised the conditions required:

Spend at least $30 in one receipt at United Square
Bring your own camera
One print from the house photographer cost $20

Despite her anxiety, I got her to return for the photo-taking a week later, the last day of their performance.

She dressed her Sunday best, flashed her megawatt smile, and mighty pleased that she sat on Lauren's lap.

Thursday, 5 July 2012

The Card that Saves the Day

A colleague-friend was sharing with me that she made little cards for her 8-year-old daughter to encourage and praise her for the effort she put into her studies.

I told her,"I also praise her verbally what!"

She replied,"It's not the same. My daughter made me a card after she saw the card I made for her."

I told her I would give it a try.

Interestingly, what I had thought would never come into use again presented itself handy after many years.

I used to be an avid card-maker when I first went to church, so I was a constant buyer of papers at Popular and other bookshops.

But I had not made a card for years. The last ones I made must have been about 7 or 8 years ago - for a class of about 40 students for their personalised Children's Day name-bookmarks. Don't ask me how I managed to do it. I am now amazed at how patient I used to be when I chance upon the cross-stitches and art stuff that I used to do.

So I pulled out the good old papers which have not yellowed even after all these years and made a card for her. Behind was a message of praise and encouragement, telling her how much improvements she has made for the respective items: Chinese composition, Chinese Oral etc.

I placed it on her study table, hoping that she would see it the first thing in the morning.

But she had chosen to sleep on the sofa that very night and she was running a temperature by the time she woke up.

I asked: Did you go to your bedroom at all?

Coco: Huh? No. I slept here last night.

Me: ... Oh ...

I tried to get her to wake up to do some work, but she gave excuses ie. not feeling well, sleepy.

A while later ...

Me: Did you go to your study table?

Coco: Yes.

Me: ... Did you see anything SPECIAL?

Coco: Oh, I didn't go to my study table.

Upon hearing the word 'SPECIAL', she went into her room.

When she came out, she looked at me and these words came out of her mouth:

I am going to do my work.

I was ... WOW!

What's more impressive was: she finished the Maths paper 40 minutes earlier, and according to William, she had 90 marks for it!

Prior to this, she had always scored in the range of 60s - 70s.

I suppose caning and scolding does not work for every child.

I will try to be a better mummy from now on.

Tuesday, 3 July 2012

Torn between

I have been following the facebook page of Pastor Kong and threads in these forums: asiaonekiasuparents and hardwarezone.

The more I read the responses to Pastor Kong's tweetered messages and the threads in the forums, the sadder I feel.

I agree that the CAD has a 100% track record in nailing people they charge.

To a large extent, I have to agree with the many observations and criticisms on the threads and his facebook page.

A blogger posted a story about Truth in our heart.

Perhaps it's true that truth will be revealed with time, no matter how much support you have or have not.

For this matter, God knows the truth. And Pastor Kong knows the truth. It is in his heart.

Rev. A. R. Bernard said that there are two sides to a story.

Pastor Kong said that he looked forward to the day when he could tell his side of the story in court.

And it came to my mind something a friend told me when I was just a gullible 19.

We were both at a stage when we were lost in life - didn't fare well in our studies, didn't know what to do, where to go after getting our half-past-six results. He was 26 and had been working in a library but knew that could not be his final destination.

We were discussing about career options and he told me that he did consider a career as a prison officer, citing being well paid as the main reason.

But, he heard from his friend who was a prison officer, that they needed to take criminals who were sentenced to death to the gallow.

The night before the prisoners were brought to the gallow, they would suddenly be very afraid, and plead with the friend,"Please help me! Please tell the judge that I am innocent! I am really innocent! I really didn't commit the crime!"

Naive as I was, I asked,"Oh, did your friend help them?"

My friend answered,"No, because every one of them would say the same thing, that they are innocent. They are just afraid of dying."

Perhaps these criminals have their side of the stories too.

Then it brought to my mind a Hong Kong drama serial which used to air on Sunday mornings.

The male protagonist killed his friend and he felt that he had done the right thing.

In court, when he was cross-examined by the lawyer and subsequently convicted, he shouted,"No! The crux isn't whether I killed him or not! The crux is whether I was right to kill him!"

The judge immediately silenced the court, and proclaimed,"The crux IS whether the accused killed the victim!"

Yes. The crux is whether you committed the crime, not why you did it.

I hope Pastor Kong, in all his wisdom, is not blinded from the fundamental fact that it is whether he did it matters.

I remember how Pastor Kong would tell the congregation,"God has blessed Singapore with an upright government."

Yet, he is now prosecuted by the very judicial system he deemed upright and just.

There can only be one side that is right, and I am very afraid to admit, that side isn't Pastor Kong's.

On one hand, I wish Pastor Kong could own up and admit that he too is a mere man, imperfect and fallible.

On the other, I wish what he has claimed so far is all just and fair, that his integrity is not compromised despite all allegations.

I feel so torn between both sides. I feel heart-broken that this man whom I believe wholeheartedly despite not seeing eye-to-eye with his methods to achieve his vision is being held like a criminal, and in many people's eyes, he is already a criminal because of the CAD's 100% track record.

I feel heart-broken that all incriminating evidence is pointing to him.

I feel heart-broken that I have to accept that Pastor Kong did make a serious mistake, perfect as he was a man in my eyes.

I feel heart-broken that my beloved friends who graciously gave me their friendships when I was desperate for one are on the verge of being forced to accept that their trusted pastors are not as above-reproach as they have been all these years.

I feel heart-broken that my dear friends continue to believe that Pastor Kong did not err when evidence is there. But yet I know, how could they not believe him? They have been with him for just about 20 years!

The fact is: Pastor Kong is only a man.

He was a man after God's heart. Nobody could deny that he was.

But he is also fallible. He is just a man, almost perfect as he was.

I wish I could post something about it on my facebook, yet I couldn't. I don't want to hurt my CHC friends whom I have held dearly in my heart even though we haven't met in years.

I don't want them to think that I have taken the position of an outsider now that things have gone south.

I can only read the links and photos that show support to the pastors my CHC friends share and read the snide remarks made by non-CHC friends on the quiet.