Saturday, February 7, 2009

Our Environment, Oil and Economy

Al Gore, an environment activist, came up with an education documentary 3 years back - An Inconvenient Truth. He still highlights global warming as the most pressing issue the world faced then. All along, he has championed that we should do something to reduce (it is simply impossible to counter it) the damage done to (our originally Green) Earth. He explains the importance of reducing the demand for fossil fuel and the imperative to research on alternative energy and renewable energy. In recent years, companies realized the harm done to our environment and started practising Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR). Green consumers favored their efforts and became their regular customers. This is notably seen in auto-makers. The production of more hybrid cars, the increasing number of research they carried out to produce more fuel efficient cars and etc. In Singapore, our government and related companies i.e NEA make effort to reduce our ecological footprint. For example, the 10% challenge, The Green Plan and etc. Mediacorp, has tapped on television, an important platform to produce a show, "Go Green", where it showcases how items are creatively restructured as a new product.

However, ever since the global crisis has surfaced, the price of oil has started to plummet. This directly affects the research and investment in alternative and renewable energy. One might ponder, what has price of oil gotta do with alternative and renewable energy? In fact, there is a direct link. The prime motivation for most businessmen to explore and invest in alternative energy was profits. With the price of oil rising, there is a need to find cheaper and cleaner energy. Unfortunately, as the price of oil starts to fall (due to reduction in demand as the economy is bad) since the global recession, alternative and renewable energy are less profitable and attractive. Consumers may cut back their spending on organic and green products which may be more expensive. If consumers cannot even keep their jobs, they wouldnt be bothered to care about the environment.

From my perspective, environmental issues MUST be tackled at nationwide scale. It isn't something which a tiny group of individuals can solve. It requires a massive scale of actions taken by national level. It is a group and collective effort. Unfortunately(hopefully I am wrong), environmental issue is not a top worry for politicians in developing and less developed nations (and even in developed nations). Instead they challenge that developed countries should be responsible for it as they can afford whereas less developed and developing countries do not the financial means to cope with it. So does this mean struggle for alternative and renewable energy? Perhaps, developed countries like USA do have to set an example for developing and less developed countries to follow.

In the mean time, while politicians set their directions and regulations, how can we as individuals and as the most intellectual living creature living on Mother Earth do our part to slow down the destruction?

  • Switch to Environmentally Friendly-Goods (which also include energy efficient products) e.g Certified Organic food, energy efficient lightbulbs and etc.

  • Invest in renewable energy

  • Borrow instead of purchasing (if possible)

  • Save Energy (which would definitely help you save money)

Be a Green Consumer from today :)

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Foreign Sport Talent (PST) scheme

Singapore Table Tennis Team has finally lifted Singapore's medal curse in the 2008 Olympics. Many Singaporeans have cheered and praised the table tennis team for its success in the Olympics and more importantly, attained a medal since 1960. However, there is also a group of citizens who questions the route to our Silver medal. Not that it is won through underhand means but rather the players where they are born and trained in (apart from Li Jia Wei who came to Singapore at a young age).

Feng Tian Wei, the heroine of the team, was granted citizenship barely two years after she came to Singapore. The purpose? Undoubtedly, the purpose was to ensure she could represent Singapore in the 2008 Olympics and she did with glory. Wang Yue Gu's case was more or less the same but she came for a longer time before she became a Singapore Citizen.

I believe there would be debate on the internet, be it locally or overseas, highlighting that our table tennis is made up of only foreign talent. It is disappointing to see that none of our local players manage to represent Singapore in the prestigious Olympic Games. Perhaps FST is the devil in this situation (The root of the problem could be commercialization & funding). Why? Every single foreign talent brought in could be tantamount to the removal of a local talent from the team. From a long term perspective, STTA would have to continue its tradition/culture of bringing more foreign talent to replace Feng Tian Wei in the near future in order to continue its results in the table tennis world. Who knows? Hopefully we would see a local paddler in 2012.

Frankly, I am a supporter as well as an enemy of Foreign Sports Talent Scheme (FST).

I agree that with globalisation, talents are everywhere and we need to tap on these sports talents to deliver results for us (due to our limited pool of talents). Furthermore, these sports talents would certainly raise the standards which we are currently at or maybe to increase the awareness/popularity of the respective sports.

Unfortunately, there are situations where associations rely heavily on FST and in the process, consciously ending the dreams of local talent. Worse, when the purpose of FST, which is supposedly to deliver results or/and enhance the standard of the sports failed to achieve these objectives. Basically, the usage of FST should be capped at a quota. Sports associations should know the limit and stop once the threshold has reached (SSC should monitor the requirement and allocation of FST for individual associations).

Unfortunately, the usage of FST creates imbalances and inequality in the sports scene. For instance, in the table tennis world, there are many Chinese players representing countries such as Singapore, Croatia and etc. These countries manage to buy, 'nurture' and most importantly naturalize these foreign talents into its citizens. Isn't the act of buying talent unfair to countries which couldnt attract and afford foreign talent quality training and high salary? Does winning international medals in this way honourable?

At the same time, we shouldn't write off with FST. Li Jia Wei, Tao Li, Ronald Susilo, Zhang Guirong and Daniel Bennett have shown us how we have benefited in the sports arena from FST. Nonetheless, we have to recognize that FST is a short term antidote for lack of talents in SG. Ultimately, we would have to learn from our counterparts e.g. Jamaica, Denmark and etc to actively search, develop and nurture talents from our own pool of resources. Of course, we cant win medals in every single sports but there are some sports which Singaporeans are more 'talented' in (due to our environment and biological reasons). If we really have to adopt the FST scheme, we should carefully weigh the potential gains from the investment in FST against the possible downsides of FST scheme just like what scholarship board does (and I hope SG Govt and SSC have been doing that).

Monday, February 2, 2009

Global Economic Crisis and Govt's approach

The government has introduced a novel and unprecedented approach - Resilience Package. Many supported the way our Government has taken steps to counter or rather reduce the damage done to our society economically. The Resilience Package totalling $20.5 Billion consists 5 elements -career for Singaporeans, encourage bank lending, improving business competitiveness, assisting families and last but not least to develop a better home for the future. It is indeed a bold but imperative move by the Government to reduce the aftermath of a Global Recession.

In fact, Singapore is not the only country to implement unprecedented measures to assist her people during the gobal financial crisis. USA, for instance, rolled out its US$700 bn rescue plan while China unveiled its $586 bn stimulus package.
In light of the global financial crisis, would it encourage protectionist measures? Or would the global crisis be resolved through partnership and co-operation among the nations? Hopefully, it would encourage countries to work hand in hand in times of hardship. Perhaps, this global recession would highlight the importance of global cooperation. Who knows?

For more information on Resilience Package, visit

Sunday, February 1, 2009

National Table Tennis Joola League 2008

By request of Chuan,

The Joola League 2008 has commenced from 12 Dec - 28 Dec 2008 for round 1. The results are as followed:

1)Safra Red
4)Ntu Hall 6 Alumni
5)Shing Wah
6)Safra White

It was a rather tight round for powerhouses Sunsports and Safra Red. They are tied at the same position as they have the same number of points. Stay tuned for the final results. For Div 2 results, kindly visit

Monday, January 5, 2009

Table Tennis Saga In Singapore

Kudos to Singapore Table Tennis Team. They have finally fulfilled our thirst for a medal in the Olympics since Tan Howe Liang's medal in 1960. Unfortunately, Er Lee Bee Wah, President of Singapore Table Tennis Association, was criticized by many oblivous singaporeans. Was coach Liu Guo Dong the main factor in our silver medal? Or is it the team work of the paddlers?
From my perspective, if coach Liu is the reason, why didnt China National Team take him? Could another coach make a different? I believe that if Ex-national paddler, Ms Jing Jun Hong had taken charge of the team, the team would have received a medal also. In fact, the players played a more important role than a coach. Hence, why did Er Lee Bee Wah try to dismiss coach Liu? The reason is still unknown to all. For those who know the answer, please enlighten me and vindicate President of STTA.