Sunday, February 27, 2011

Revolutions, some random/rambling thoughts

First Tunisia, then Egypt and now Libya is at the brink as I write. People power.

Gaddaffi sees himself as a revolutionary leader, not a president, and so cannot resign, as the people demanded.

Revolutionary leaders ought to be respected for their vision, for their fortitude and for their ability to bring about revolution and surviving. When we look at the east Asian countries, not excluding Singapore, we see historians having rather nice things to say of leaders who took us out of colonial rule, hailing these as "fathers" of the nation.

Problem is such leaders, after being comfortably in unopposed power (dictatorship?) for years often forget that whilst the nation might owe them a lot, the nation does not owe them EVERYTHING.

The rot sets in when such leaders begin to see and appropriate their nation's wealth as their own. They start enriching themselves, and their families, blurring the line between what belongs to the nation and what belongs to the individual. Worse, they bring in laws to institutionalize such blatant corruption.

The people will acquiesce, usually for as long as they are happy and reasonably well-fed plus a little bit of room to give them a sense or myth of well-being.

But then the day comes when "enough is enough" and the revolt begins.

So the likes of Gaddaffi have better take note.

Friday, February 11, 2011

New Hope

Yesterday was a difficult day. At my CAB session I had a young man who refused to leave my room because he had no money.

What was I supposed to do? I am only a volunteer here. I have done all that I could to help him, as the last person he saw did, but if he did not help himself to resolve the situation he was in, what could we do?

Do we let him keep coming back and beg for emergency money?

Then you realize that at the coalface of this "Big Society" answers are not always easy.

Today was a much better day. On the day that we read of 50% of five-year-old boys are falling behind, I had six (SIX!) new mothers at our Toddler Group.

Many are first-time mothers. It was especially interesting (encouraging, even) to see two mothers using the "time-out" for misbehaving two-year-olds. There is hope.

I also noted to a childminder that one of her charges was really good at looking after himself (took off his coat, hung it up on another child's pushchair). It appears that he was not like that when he first came to her.

Nobody taught him how to do things that children his age should be able to do. Now he shows that he could start looking after himself.

Made me think, again, that perhaps some children are better off being taken care of by such experienced childminders who give them structure, discipline and self-esteem whilst the mother works to earn her keep.

The alternative could be a child at home 24/7 with a mum who's watching TV, smoking and/or on the phone constantly while the child is left to TV, computer and junk food.

Ah, just some thought based on my observations.

Thursday, February 03, 2011

Chinese: whispers, new year, me

Yesterday I was listening to Today in the morning and someone used the term "chinese whispers" (re: how suspect treated in Bristol murder) and I felt very uncomfortable. Affronted. Why "Chinese"?

Should I make a complaint to BBC and campaign for a ban on the use of "Chinese whispers" with its negative connotation? (Just kidding.)

It's the new Chinese lunar year today and I am quite excited (but tired). I am salivating at the pictures posted by friends on FB.

The eve of Chinese New Year is when families gather for the Reunion Dinner. I remember having to wait for hours for sister to come back from her nursing shift and/or father from his new year's eve haircut.

Then we tuck in. Ah! I enjoy most the thrill of putting on my new pyjamas. Mum could not always afford to buy me new clothes -- going-out clothes -- but she would always used to buy me pyjamas (they were very cheap). So I give my son new pyjamas, too.

Except that his cost a bit more. Few people do the traditional open-front pyjamas and he won't wear anything else.

I couldn't take part in any of the festivities this year. But I was thrilled when my family phoned on Saturday. They were having a pre-New Year's eve reunion and I spoke and saw everyone present via video link.

I've also been making pineapple tarts. It is tedious making these tarts.

Why do I make these tarts?

Because it affirms my Chineseness, and in particular my Singapore Chineseness. It's not something you could buy at Chinese supermarkets run by Hong Kong Chinese.

And because my son tells me, "You're not Chinese."

So once a year I have to reinforce the message that mum is Chinese, Singaporean Chinese, and we have traditions. He likes most the custom of giving hong bao, cash put in decorated red envelopes.

I'm tired because I'd just spent a long morning at CAB where I've been trained to do gateway interviews to help all those who come through the doors. I meet all sorts of interesting (and sometimes frustrating) individuals.

Working at home is great. Up to a point. I need to go out and meet real people, people from all walks of life sometimes.

Xin nian kuai le! Wan shi ru yi!

(Happy New Year! May all your wishes come true!)