Friday, March 28, 2008

Singapore 2-0 Lebanon

And so Raddy's Lions get points on the board with a comfortable 2-0 home win over Lebanon, though it should've been more. Such profligacy in front of goal will be ruthless punished by the Uzbeks and Saudis and Indra and company really need to buck up.
So early on in the campaign, and it's already make or break for the Lions. After an expected 2-0 loss to Saudi Arabia in Riyadh, Singapore must win its games against Lebanon to have any hope of progressing, home and away. We must then scrap for points against the higher-ranked Saudi Arabia and Uzbekistan at Kallang and hope for an upset somewhere in Beirut. If anyone can do it, Raddy Avramovic can.


Thursday, March 27, 2008

Singapore 0-0 Australia

Non-Mandarin speakers lose out in job market

I refer to Nur Rashidah's letter "Non-Mandarin speakers lose out in job market?" in The New Paper on 26 Mar 2008.

I think it is important to distinguish between preference and necessity, and blind equality and common business sense. I believe that most companies that stipulate prospective interviewees to be proficient in Mandarin are doing it out of necessity and are exercising their business sense. Although English is taught as first language in schools, it is also common that many Singaporeans are more proficient in their mother tongue. Given that there are over 70% Chinese in Singapore, it is fair to assume that a fairly large number of these companies' customers or clients are more comfortable in speaking Mandarin. It would be remiss of them to ignore that telling statistic and not ensure that most of their staff are proficient in their customers' lingua franca.

It is true that this requirement does not "benefit" non-Mandarin-speaking job-seekers, and they probably are losing out. It may also be "unfair" to them, but until Singapore truly manages to make English its first language in reality rather than ideology, I'm afraid this is likely to perpetuate.

Sweden 0-1 Brazil

Alexandre Pato scores with a sublime chip to give Brazil a 1-0 win over Sweden.

Journalist joins pro football team for a week

This has always been a dream - to measure yourself against the best in football and see where you really stand. Well, Jen Chang of got that chance with Charleston Battery, a team in a division below the American MLS, and realised three things:
1. It's hard to call for the ball from a teammate when you have no idea what his name is.
2. It's hard to shake loose and even find space from pro defenders, especially in confined spaces.
3. Pro players keep the ball very well. It's almost a waste of time to try to grab it from them.

All true, and he makes more candid and self-depreciating observations here.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Have-Your Mascara-No

Javier Mascherano and Liverpool are livid at what they see as being made a scapegoat for Ashley Cole's referee-baiting over last weekend. In truth though, the Argentine hardman got everything he deserved, and maybe more is in store for him.

Since he got referee Steve Bennett's first booking, he was constantly taunting Bennett for the rest of his short time on the pitch, whether it was a United or Liverpool foul. His limited command of the English language was apparently limited to vulgarities and he got his unpleasant mug in Bennett's face every chance he got.

You could tell Bennett was exercising great patience, and his dissent over Fernando Torres' booking, however civilised, was the last straw.

Really, after being booked and knowing the emphasis on respecting referees, he should know better. He didn't and really has only himself to blame. How Xabi Alonso must wish he had put more effort into restraining him from stalking Bennett.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Just now

This must be one of the most misused phrases in the English language. Singaporeans have taken to mean something that happened in the past, but it actually means something happening presently. "I was about to take the dog for a walk just now. But it's started to rain." What Singaporeans mean is "just then".

Friday, March 21, 2008

French lesson

Jars of Clay's Much Afraid

Empty again
Sunken down so far
So scared to fall
I might not get up again

So I lay at your feet
All my brokenness
I carry all of my burdens to you

All of these things
I've held up in vain
No reason nor rhyme
Just the scars that remain
Of all of these things
I'm so much afraid
Scared out of my mind
By the demons I've made
Sweet Jesus, you never ever let me go
Oh, sweet Jesus, never ever let me go

So happy to love
Yet so far to go
You lead me on to where I've never been before


Camilio Villegas - Spider-man of golf

Monday, March 17, 2008


Letter published in The New Paper, 17 Mar 2008, p26
Some furore in The New Paper over how netizens were only to keen to say that they would not donate money to a Chinese national suffering from leukemia simply because he wasn't Singaporean. The crux of the article was the discrepancy between Singaporeans' opinion on an online poll and in a face-to-face (F2F) poll.

In the online poll, 80% of respondents said they WOULDN'T donate. In the F2F one, 90% said they WOULD. This is a swing of opinion that is unfathomable. Psychologists say that this is a result of something they call social desirability - interviewees give answers they think the interviewer wants to hear, so as to be accepted by him/her. Even if this was true, this is virtually a 180-degree turnaround!

I don't think by any measure that netizens are more honest - on the contrary, I think the World Wide Web's anonymity has conceived a very vocal minority emboldened by a false sense of bravado to respond to all issues cynically, so as to gain the approval of their peers. It's apparently a popular thing to be anti-establishment, so we hear. Press these people in a F2F interview, and you'll hear a different story.

I conclude that in a poll of opinion, the medium is very important. While anonymity has been proven to be important to honesty in an interview, the rather flippant nature of the netizens' response suggests that online polls and forums aren't the way to go either. Netizens (I hate that word) can easily hide behind fictitious nicknames and avatars and post whatever they want, which is what has happened here. Are they more truthful? No.

I believe the answer lies somewhere in between - an anonymous phone interview perhaps? That's one for the researchers to think about.
Source: The New Paper, 14 Mar 2008, p10

Dead Sea mud

Was walking in Raffles City when I got stopped with the familiar eczema question. "Here we go again," I thought. Happened to be this non-Asian guy, and we were waiting for Angela to choose jelly bean flavours, so why not?

Turned out he was selling mud from the Dead Sea, supposedly packed with minerals. I tried it on my wrist and must say I could feel the sulphur opening up my pores and everything, and perhaps absorbing the toxins and whatnot.

I was very impressed with his (he was a Jew named Ziv) unimposing attitude. We Singaporeans have much to learn. As he put it, when he tried to sell something, some Singaporeans tried to sell him something too!

Anyhow, it's a discounted $60 for 750ml of it. Expensive for mud, surely, but I was close to giving it a shot. But on Ziv's advice, I'm gonna do some research first. =]

You can find out more, like I did, at

Global warming? What global warming?

While Singapore is in the throes of global warming and rising sea levels, it is perhaps ironic that we have experienced one of our coldest days and months since 1934. 13 Mar 2008 (Thu) was one of the coldest days on record - 21.8C - but I couldn't even remember it. We have record rainfall this month of March, when it is usually preposterously hot, as well as a record low mean temperature of about 25C. What gives? But I'm not complaining - I LOVE THE DRIZZLES!

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Mas Selamat Kasturi's escape

Prison Break has its MS (Michael Scofield). Now Singapore has our very own MS: Mas Selamat. By now, you should have heard that Mas Selamat bin Kasturi, the former leader of Jemaah Islamiyah's (JI) Singapore branch, has escaped. While that is worrying enough, the way he escaped is even more worrying.

Firstly, this guy limps real slow. Apparently, he escaped from the not-so-high-security Whitley Road Detention Centre when he was being brought to the toilet. As Angela attests, having gone there on a learning journey recently, there are guards, high fences, cameras and other security features. Are you telling me he gave the guard the slip, hobbled to the gate in prisoner garb and ran away into the forest with no guards in hot pursuit? And that during the time he escaped at 1605hrs, no one raised the alarm?

Something tells me it must be an inside job. How do you explain the relative ease with which he escaped? It's Prison Break on a B-grade scale. According to Minster for Home Affairs Wong Kan Seng, an investigation is underway. An explanation is due. I believe heads will roll.

I was also quite perturbed by a guy interviewed at Tanah Merah Ferry Terminal for his views on the affair. "I don't feel anything much. Just disappointed, that's all." Oh, I see. Why exactly do you feel disappointed? Did you personally contribute something to his security which explains your disappointment in the lapse? Such apathy.

Thursday, March 13, 2008


We know who they are, but how do you pronounce it? A former police officer volunteered goo-ka, but that sounded terribly rude. says gur-ka, which sounds more plausible. Little Miss Whoops (Jasmine) suggests asking the Gurkhas themselves. Can you see her walking up to the guards at the Istana? Oh no...

Ken Lee - Bulgarian Idol

Any comment is not enough. This is definitely the video of the year.

Port Dickson recce

Was that the most tiring recce ever? Yes.
Off to Port Dickson for a day trip to recce the Church Retreat site. Watch here for updates.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

BBC: Penang abandons pro-Malay policy

The Malaysian state of Penang says it will no longer follow a controversial central government policy favouring ethnic Malays above other citizens.

Penang is one of five states now controlled by the opposition, after elections on Saturday saw big losses for the governing coalition.

Malaysia has had a policy of favouring ethnic Malays in jobs and education for almost four decades.

The large Chinese and Indian minorities have become increasingly angry.

Correspondents say it was largely this anger that led to the dramatic election results over the weekend.

Equal opportunities

Lim Guan Eng was sworn into office as head of state in Penang, after his Democratic Action Party (DAP) won a convincing election victory.

As soon as he was appointed, he immediately targeted the central government's long-standing New Economic Policy favouring ethnic Malays.

"We want to run the state government administration free from the New Economic Policy that only breeds cronyism, corruption and systematic inefficiency," he told reporters.

"This is also a government that believes in equal opportunity and social economic justice. We are here to build a dynamic Penang for all," he said.

The policy was started in the early 1970s, to increase opportunities for the often poverty-stricken ethnic Malays - giving them preference in jobs, university seats and access to services.

But many Malaysians - even some Malays - say that it has only benefited an elite few.

Election upheaval

The country's large Chinese and Indian minorities - who make up more than a third of the population - have become increasingly critical of what they regard as blatant racial discrimination.

Ethnic Indians held a large protest rally in November which attracted more than 80,000 people.

Mr Abdullah's National Front coalition suffered its worst election result in five decades in Saturday's elections.

It won more than half of all seats in parliament, but still suffered unprecedented losses.

An alliance of opposition parties won seats in the states of Penang, Kedah, Perak and Selangor, and the Pan-Malaysian Islamic Party (PAS) retained control of Kelantan, leaving the governing coalition in control of just eight states.

The Simpsons Theme on classical guitar

Letters to the press

1. Who's gonna unlock the bomb shelter doors in time of an emergency?
2. Why can't we connect the Hougang Ave 7 park connector to Upp Serangoon Rd? After all, park connectors are supposed to connect!
3. Why no performance bonus for Dip Ed-ers? Where's the incentive to go for distinctions?
4. If it's too dangerous for pedestrians for cyclists to be on the pavement, and too dangerous for cyclists to be on the roads, where on earth do we go? We'd prefer the road anytime if it was made safer; the pedestrians really slow you down when they walk ba-long-long.
5. Fines as punishment for everything, from train disruptions to spitting to late payments.

Real-life The Simpsons

Zack Kim plays The Simpsons Theme

Simon's Cat in Cat-Man-Do

Simon's Cat in Let Me In!

Monday, March 10, 2008

Take, send, bring, fetch

What's the difference?
Take: here to there and accompanied by the agent e.g. take my child to school
Send: here to there without accompaniment e.g. send an e-mail
Bring: there to here e.g. bring the books to me
Fetch: here to there and back again e.g. Fetch, Joey! (throws stick)

Connie from Britain's Got Talent sings Somewhere Over the Rainbow

I was literally dumbstruck watching her sing. She truly has the voice of an angel. Those two absent front teeth really sold it for me. =]

Mind reader
Can you figure out how they do this? It's really simple if you think about it - quite an insult to the intelligence.

The perfect storm he did not see coming by Abdullah Osman, Today Online

NO MATTER which way you look at it, the Malaysian election was a referendum on Mr Abdullah Ahmad Badawi's leadership and the Prime Minister lost badly. Not only did Indian and Chinese voters rebuff the leader of the ruling Barisan Nasional (BN) coalition, but the fall of Kedah, Perak and Selangor to the opposition is emphatic proof that MrAbdullah's love affair with the Malay heartland is over.

Hurt by a combination of bread-and-butter issues and a poor choice of candidates, Mr Abdullah has come to represent everything negative about the ruling coalition — indecisive and tolerant of excesses.

His biggest mistake: He did not read the signs. He underestimated the gathering of a perfect storm.

Already, the daggers are out and, true to form, the first to take a stab was his predecessor Mahathir Mohamad. Urging Mr Abdullah to resign, Dr Mahathir said: 'He has destroyed Umno, destroyed the BN. He should accept 100 per cent responsibility. I am sorry but I apparently made the wrong choice.'

Quite clearly, given the election results, it will be difficult for Mr Abdullah to stay on as presi-dent of the United Malays National Organisation (Umno) or as Prime Minister of Malaysia for very much longer.

In all likelihood, there will be a period of consolidation, during which he will appoint the Cabinet, repair the severely-damaged Gerakan and Malaysian Indian Congress (MIC), restore a sense of calm to the ruling coalition and country before handing over the reins to his deputy Najib Tun Razak.

As Malaysians survey the debris from the poll, surprise and fear have come together in a heady mix.

Surprise that the all-conquering BN machinery could not secure its customary two-third majority in Parliament. Surprise that the most industrialised state, Selangor, will be governed by the opposition.

But also, there is a fear. Will there be a period of heightened tension, perhaps even riots? Will foreign investors shy away? Will the country's politics become so divisive that nothing will get done?

The answers: No. No. No.

If there is one clear winner, it is Malaysia.

For too long, the country has been going down the road of ethnic polarisation, corruption, racial dominance and religious intolerance. That is why the Chinese and Indians have felt like second-class citizens, and resented the likes of Mr Hishamuddin Hussein and Mr Khairy Jamaluddin, whose kris-wielding acts at the Umno assembly were used to the hilt by the opposition.

For the middle-class, the likes of Umno stalwart Zakaria Deros, who managed to build a palatial home without any approvals, have come to represent the unacceptable face of Malaysian politics.

Perhaps now, with a strong opposition that seems committed to a multi-racial and multi-religious Malaysia, there will be less of a tendency to only see policies through the lenses of one race.

Perhaps, now Malaysian politics will be re-calibrated back on the road to moderation. This election will change Malaysia forever, and as it is dissected and critiqued, here are several early predictions:

A two-party system may be emerging

It is early days yet but Malaysia could be witnessing the start of a two-party system. When Malaysians voted for Democratic Action Party (DAP), or Parti Islam SeMalaysia (PAS), or Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) candidates, they believed that they were voting for an alternative to BN.

Whether this two-party system comes to fruition will depend on DAP-PAS-PKR running their states well and not fighting over the spoils of victory. Still, the Malaysian voter has never had it better.

Voting may no longer follow racial lines

For a long time, the Indian and Chinese voter has not supported PAS, fearing its Islamic agenda. Not anymore. Chinese and Indians voted for PAS candidates across the country, including in urban seats.

For Indians, the rationale was simple: their years of supporting Umno, MIC or MCA candidates had not yielded major benefits for the community, so they were willing to give any opposition the chance.

Meamwhile, the Chinese believe that Umno has become more fundamentalist than PAS in some respects. From a marketing point of view, there is little to separate Umno from PAS these days.

Similarly some had feared that this election might have a polarising effect, with Indians and Chinese on one side, and the Malays supporting the ruling coalition on the other. This has not happened.

Instead, voters from across all races supported change.

This was the perfect storm when issues that have been percolating for two years came to a head.

For the Indians, it was the demolition of temples, marginalisation, cases of Hindus converting to Islam, and the manner in which Hindraf leaders were treated by the government. For the Chinese, it was crime, an erosion of language and cultural rights, nationalism and fear of the revival of the Malay agenda. For the Malays, inflation, crime and the excesses of Umno politicians unsettled them.

These groups were, in fact, united in their belief that Mr Abdullah had fallen far short of the targets he had promised. Yes, the economy grew by 6.3 per cent, but the gains were not felt on the ground.

Voters expect to be heard

When Mr Abdullah announced his line-up, there was an air of resignation even among his supporters. They had been pushing him to drop many old faces and discredited names and to create an aura of renewal around the BN. He dithered, reluctant to unsettle the ground. Many ended up crushed.

Similarly, he was urged to drop MIC chief Samy Vellu but felt he could not desert a friend in this time of need. Mr Vellu was also defeated. Mr Abdullah clearly misread the ground. Malaysians wanted change, and when he could not offer them that, the voters took matters into their own hands.

Anwar Ibrahim is back

Say what you like, but Mr Anwar Ibrahim is back in the fray, this time as a real player. Despite efforts by the media to demonise him, his stinging attacks on the government for corruption, his championing of issues close to the hearts of non-Malays and his charisma have made him a key figure in the election.

His party, Keadilan, won 29 seats in Parliament, indicating that an electorate looking for a strong leader has forgiven his shortcomings.

For the country, the next few months will be challenging. How the BN negotiates its reduced majority in Parliament and deals with a resurgent opposition will hold the key to the nation's political stability. In the longer term, its ability to respond to the aspirations of all Malaysians and make the necessary changes will determine just what Election 2008 really means: An aberration, a defining moment for a less race-based approach to politics, or a sign of worse things to come.

Why do donuts have holes?

The question as to why doughnuts have holes has been raised by dozens of bakers over the years, but most agree that the answer to this sticky question lies in the fact that the interior of these fried cakes would not cook fully without a hole in the center. In short, the consistency of a doughnut lacking a hole would be, quite simply, doughy.

Another riveting theory as to the origin of the bulls eye in the doughnut holds that a sea captain named Hanson Gregory, while manning his post one stormy night, found it impossible both to steer his vessel and to eat his fried cake. Out of sheer frustration, and probably out of hunger, he impaled his cake over one of the spokes of the ship's wheel, thereby creating a finger hold with which to grip the cake. Quite pleased with his ingenuity, Mr. Gregory ordered the galley's cook to fry the cakes in that manner henceforth.

Whatever the reason for the hole in the doughnut, this fried cake, with or without a hole, has been incorporated into the diets of people throughout the world for centuries. In fact, archaeologists found petrified fried cakes with holes amongst the artifacts of a primitive Indian tribe.

Many credit Dutch settlers to America with introducing the non-holed olykoeks, or "oily cakes," to this continent, and with their subsequent popularity.

There is no disputing the fact that the fried cake became the rage in New York and in New England, and that before long, it became the specialty of coffee shops. Fried cakes came into their own in 1673, when a self-made New York marketing guru, Anna Joralemon, made their purchase at the market possible.

To this day, doughnuts, in any shape or form, remain married in our minds to coffee and police officers, and are here to stay.

Seeking God

Met up with Zikai and had another long but productive discussion on myriad issues. Here are a few things that struck me:

Firstly, my healing has a higher chance of coming if I'm constantly seeking and pursuing God and being in His will. A no-brainer, but surely one of the most difficult things to discipline myself to do. It is all the more important if I'm to be responsible to those under me and if I expect them to seek God likewise.

Secondly, doing things for God is not the same as allowing God to do things through you. I find myself very busy nowadays and anticipate that I'll only get busier. I need to ensure that my busyness, however important for the church, does not get in the way of the things that God has in store for me.

Next, a little cud to chew on.
1. If we are baptised in the Holy Spirit, where are the signs and wonders God promised?
2. Why are we not experiencing God's powerful presence daily, when He is unchanging?
3. Why are there so many people leaving the presence of God untouched and unchanged?
4. Where sinners used to chase after Jesus, why are sinners finding church Pharisical and shying away from it?

Finally, two books I'd like to find the time to read:
Kim Clemens' Call Me Crazy but I'm Hearing God
Tommy Tenney's God Chasers

Jesus heals

Experienced God's miraculous healing power personally on Sunday in a powerful way.

I was practising for service on the bass when I realised that I was beginning to get a terrible headache. Strangely enough, it seemed to affect only the right side of my head and I could feel my skull bones aching. There seemed to be a pressure not dissimilar to that of sinusitis. It was more acute when I ran my tongue along my teeth. The moment my tongue crossed the front incisors from the left to the right, I could no longer sense my tongue touching my teeth.

Eventually I had to go lie down. The team came to pray for me and after that I went to lie down again. As I was lying there, my parents told me that it wasn't really nice to be lying there but I couldn't appreciate that thought at the moment. Then Zikai came and said it was OK if I couldn't play, and that I had to decide in three minutes. I mumbled something in reply and just lay there.

Not a minute later, I just felt the ache and numbness just melt away from the right side of my face. It felt as if someone had just pulled it off. I got up right away and felt as right as rain.

I went on to play for the service and gave a testimony later. I'd never experience God's healing so vividly and immediately before. I believe that if God can heal me of this, then eczema is within his job scope as well. But only if I seek him, which brings me to my second post.

20,000 hits!

Not too long ago we celebrated 10,000 hits - now we've doubled it! Thanks and keep reading!

Saturday, March 08, 2008

Foong Kee wanton mee

The search for the excellent yet elusive wantan mee continues. Apparently, many people rate this one called Foong Kee at 6 Keong Saik Rd, just off Outram Park. Jasmine and I wanna try it next Friday! Fei Fei wat your heart out!

Friday, March 07, 2008

The South African petri dish: The sexist culture thrives

Sexism is well and truly alive in the world. If you want to find the hotbed of it, look no further than the sunny climes of South Africa, previously home to apartheid and now the breeding ground of worryingly sexist behaviour.

Apparently, South African women have had enough, with hundreds of them marching through Johannesburg with signs declaring "We Love Our Miniskirts!". The spark that lit the tinder was an incident at a taxi stand where a young woman was unceremonially disrobed by taxi drivers and hawkers, apparently for showing too much skin. They went on to touch her private parts, taunting her while pouring alcohol on her head. The alcohol, of course, is another problem for another article that probably fuelled this disparate reaction.

What's even more shocking than this is the prevailing apathy and narrow-minded view that the high incidence of rape in South Africa (50,000 reported annually, with some activists claiming as many as 1,000,000) is the fault of women who express themselves over-zealously through fashion. That is to say, mini-skirts.

One such idiot is taxi driver Thulani Nhlapho, 21. "If you are wearing a mini-skirt, you give the impression you want to be raped. You respect yourself when you wear a longer skirt. We respect women who respect themselves."

Going by his flawed reasoning, men in running shorts and little else better watch out or they are really asking for it.

Another such Neanderthal is car guard Edwin Ndlovu, 29. "We laugh because they are naked. As a person, you have to control your feelings. It is difficult when women are naked. That's how some men end up raping women."

I really hope he isn't speaking from experience, because it really is a poor excuse. Maybe jewellers should stop displaying their wares because robbers can't control their feelings? Made-up excuses aside, he really needs to check the dictionary to distinguish between underdressed and naked.

I am shocked that such blatant sexism still exists in the 21st century, but there you go. If there's one country that needs sex education, South Africa should be right at the head of the queue.
Source: The New Paper, 6 Mar 2008, p. 22

Thursday, March 06, 2008

Folding the best paper airplane

Doing an activity on origami so I thought the children should learn how to make the best paper airplane ever. The first one here was featured in the Times:

This next one was looks so weird, I don't know where to begin. You can find it here:

This one is called the Dragon. Who knows why.

Torres double hat-trick

Just look at El Nino's snap half-volley of Dirk Kuyt's deflected cross: they don't teach this at finishing school - you can't. You either have it or you don't. Ruud van Nistelrooy had it, as did Romario, Ian Rush, Ian Wright and few others. And now, Fernando Torres picks up the mantle with two consecutive Premier League hat-tricks, making him only the fourth player to do so.

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

National Environment Agency: Let's clean up!

This must be the lamest TV ad out there now, and I see it all the time on TV Mobile. Four young hosts whom I really don't care about strut about in front of a green screen. The graphics are good but the acting is really worse than, say, Triple Nine, though that'd be insulting to James Lye & Co.

One of the guys has a ridiculous side-parting not seen since the days of the Donald Trump combover. He has the gall to say, "If I can do it, so can you!", it being keeping the environment clean. He even had the thumb pointing to himself and the snap of the wrist to point a finger to the viewer. Like, seriously, do I care who you are? This is a celebrity endorsement without the celebrity. NEA really does need to make better use of taxpayers' money by getting bigger bang for their advertising buck.

Inconsistency giving the FA a bad name by Jon Carter, ESPNSoccernet

If the past few weeks are anything to go by, the definition of 'violent conduct' in the English dictionary needs updating.

With a host of unpunished tackles flying in that would be deemed dangerous on a rugby pitch and red-cards being given out for the slightest indiscretion, the Football Association's four-man Regulatory Commission seem intent on creating more problems than they solve.

Frank Lampard gets his marching orders, but he won't face a ban...

... while Jeremie Aliadiere gets a red card against Liverpool for raising his hands.

Accused of running one rule for 'rich' and another for the 'poor', the panel have hardly helped their case with the decision to rescind Frank Lampard's straight red card for a push on West Ham's Luis Boa Morte, yet choosing to give Middlesbrough's Jeremie Aliadiere an extra game's ban for a light slap on Javier Mascherano a week earlier.

While the Chelsea midfielder did not strike his opponent in the face (as previously thought by the referee's assistant), his attempts to kick out at Boa Morte, who should have been similarly dealt with for his part in the proceedings, smacked of something we have seen all season - petulance - and the FA need to address the consistency in which they deal with such actions.

Lampard's behaviour, while not in the spirit of the game, was certainly not 'violent', or worthy of a three-match suspension; but then neither was Aliadiere's and both were clearly seen by the referee, who could only go by the letter of the law.

Middlesbrough accused the FA of a 'travesty of justice' after they were told that their appeal had been 'frivolous' and were forced to accept a additional one game ban for their player for supposedly wasting the FA's time. With this affront still fresh in their minds, it is understandable to see why they are angry when the situation seems so different for teams like Chelsea and Liverpool.

The fact that Mascherano was let off without even a yellow card while Aliadiere is forced to sit on the sidelines for four games may have incensed the Boro board; but news of Lampard's reprieve will only increase their sense of injustice.

The FA's decision to treat a similar incident differently is not just worrying for the state of the game, but an insult to the entire procedure and this kind of inconsistency has happened across the leagues all season.

On the same day as Newcastle's Joey Barton was let off for cuffing Villa striker Shaun Maloney round the head due to 'inconclusive' video evidence, Hartlepool defender Sam Collins' dismissal at Southend United in February was rejected as 'frivolous' and the player incurred an extra game suspension, despite being harshly adjudged to have used an elbow.

To punish a club for trying to aid their player appears odd and now the appeals process for any red-card has to be given serious consideration by clubs who run the risk of angering the FA and increasing the length of the ban.

To add to the level of inconsistency perpetuated by the FA's panel there have been terrible tackles, missed by the officials, which have gone unpunished all season and should have merited retrospective action.

While Lampard's 'violent conduct' against West Ham at the weekend got all the attention, Claude Makelele somehow managed to get away with a over-the-ball stamp on Julian Faubert, who was lucky to avoid serious injury. Makelele was not even booked and there have been numerous incidents which have not been deemed worthy of investigating.

Under FIFA guidelines, retrospective disciplinary action can only been taken if an incident was not seen by the referee or if there has been a clear error in judgement. Quite what constitutes a 'clear error' remains up for debate, but surely if the referee had seen it properly then he would have acted.

Understandably the FA do not want to be seen to contradict the men in charge, but these kinds of incidents will keep occurring if nothing is done. Referees are human after all and the whole point of the video panel is to provide back-up for an official when he makes a mistake.

The trouble is that the FA are so blinded by maintaining their good name that they are willing to gloss over incidents that make them (or their officials) look bad.

With a host of incidents occurring already this season which the FA have failed to take any action over, including tackles by Michael Essien, Craig Gardner, Dirk Kuyt, El Hadji Diouf and Emmanuel Eboue; the most recent example comes in the form of Reading's Stephen Hunt (himself no stranger to controversy).

A meeting of Lee Carsley's studs with Hunt's shin at the start of February provoked an angry reaction from the Reading man, and yet the powers that be deemed the tackle unworthy of a second look, despite that fact that it was totally missed by referee Mark Halsey.

Quite simply, the FA panel should be capable of resolving these incidents retrospectively with the application of common sense. In addition, they should also be able to reduce a three-match ban to just one-match for players who are found guilty of petulance or improper conduct, as in the case of Lampard and Aliadiere.

A rule, retrospective or otherwise, that would deal with the occurrence of a red-card which does not constitute 'violent conduct' is sorely needed. Other examples have sprung up recently, with Willam Gallas' petulant kick on Nani in Arsenal's FA Cup defeat to Manchester United a classic case, yet situations like this are continually ignored by the FA because they don't want to undermine their officials.

Ultimately, if the FA's review panel are ever going to gain credibility in a footballing world which is getting increasingly harder to police, the decisions they make have to be consistent. Too often there are precedents which are not followed and the smaller teams are left feeling that they are treated differently to the cash cows.

The theory is that with the application of some common sense then it shouldn't represent too much of an undertaking to improve their decisions. However if the FA continue to put their own image before the good of the game, then don't hold your breath.

Means testing

This letter was published in The New Paper on 5 Mar 2008, p24.
I was not sure previously what means testing meant, but I must comment that Mr Khaw Boon Wan's method of assessing the amount of subsidy a patient receives for Class B2 & C wards is a breath of fresh air. He has done away with the rigid system used so widely in our Government and introduced what can only be described as a fairer and more flexible system. Instead of one inflexible income ceiling, there are now as many as 16 different stages spanning $2000 in average monthly income, each with a difference in subsidy of only 1%. If everyone was to follow suit, we may never see the words 'falling in the gap' any more in The New Paper's human-interest sob stories.

For example, for the C Class wards, a family earning $3200 and below gets an 80% subsidy. Previously, it would not be uncommon for someone to earn, say, $3300/month and fall in the gap completely, getting no subsidy at all. This practice forced people to desperate measures like asking their employers to pay them less just to meet the income requirements. As we speak, come couples applying to buy new flats are caught in this conundrum, earning just above $8000 and qualifying only for resale flats. With this new means testing system, it is hoped that such borderline cases will be dealt with greater mathematical sympathy and flexibility. The more exhaustive the range, the fewer unfortunate borderline cases there will be.

Now if only the other ministries could follow MOH's lead and correct their inflexible systems to better cater to the needs of Singaporeans. Knowing our Government, they'll probably adopt a prudent wait-and-see attitude. May I stick my neck out and say they should start developing them immediately: Mr Khaw's means testing looks every bit a winner.
Reference: The New Paper, 4 Mar 2008, p10-11

Monday, March 03, 2008

Love is..

"Love is feeling like you have known her for a lifetime, yet wanting to spend a lifetime with her." - Aaron Wong

Saturday, March 01, 2008

Can your hair ever be too smooth?

DHL ad

Why wedding dresses are white

Son asked his mother the following question:
"Mom, why are wedding dresses white?" The mother looks at her son and replies, "Son, this shows your friends and relatives that your bride is pure."
The son thanks his Mom and goes off to double-check this with his father.
"Dad, why are wedding dresses white?"
The father looks at his son in surprise and says, "Son, all household appliances come in white."
Before I get hammered for this, I did some research, and this is what I found:
White did not become a popular option until 1840, after the marriage of Queen Victoria to Albert of Saxe-Coburg. Victoria had worn a white gown for the event so as to incorporate some lace she owned. The official wedding portrait photograph was widely published, and many other brides opted for a similar dress in honor of the Queen's choice. The tradition continues today in the form of a white wedding, though prior to the Victorian era a bride was married in any color except black (the color of mourning) or red (which was connected with prostitutes). Later, many people assumed that the color white was intended to symbolize virginity, though this had not been the original intention. (It was the color blue that was connected to purity.) Today, the white dress is understood merely as the most traditional and popular choice for weddings, not necessarily a statement of virginity.

So there you go. Both the father and mother were not quite correct, but not quite wrong either. =]

Men, men, men

According to The New Paper, 51% of Singaporean men would carry their girl's handbag. Sissies.

80% of men would pay for the date. Well, if women want equality they'll need to pay for it.

91% of men would send the girl home. I assume they have a car?