2 May 2016

Performance Series: Punggol Waterway-Coney Island: 1 down, 4 to go

This would be my first race since I returned from North Korea.

Running the 10k in the Pyongyang marathon was such a singular experience that any race that comes after seems pointless.

I had signed up for the five-race Performance Series because the multi-race concept sounded cool. I also like the idea of running somewhere besides the usual Marina Bay area.

The first race, held yesterday on May Day, was at Punggol Waterway Park and Coney Island, both of which I had never been before.

The starting line was opposite the interesting-looking Safra Punggol building.

Flag-off for the 10km first wave was at 7.30am, which was a little late, especially for the hotter-than-usual weather we're having lately.

I was in the second wave, which was flagged off more than 20 minutes later.

My wife, who was running the 5km race, said her 8am flag-off was delayed more than 15 minutes because of the VIP, Dr Janil Puthucheary, the MP for Pasir Ris-Punggol GRC.

She wasn't happy about that. She blogged about it here.

The route was a bit narrow in the beginning, but fortunately, there wasn't much bottleneck.

Approaching the bridge to Coney Island:

Crossing the bridge:

The West Entrance to the island:

On the island, it was just 2km plus of straight sandy trail and rather boring. I didn't see any cow.

Crossing the bridge off the island:

Another, slightly more interesting, trail:

Another bridge:

The Safra building! Which means the end is near.

According to my numerous running apps, I had run more than 10km. So the route was longer than advertised.

After the finish line, there was a major bottleneck at the stairs.

I just ran 10km in the heat and now I have to queue for the stairs in the heat? This sucked.

Getting my finisher medal, T-shirt and bottle of Lucozade:

Another thing that sucked was that I couldn't find any water at the event site. There was a sign that said WATER POINT, but nothing was set up at the tent.

And there was a long queue at the Lucozade tent.

So all I had to drink after the race was just one bottle of Lucozade, which left an unpleasant aftertaste.

I hope the next race in the series, at Jurong Lake (my old neck of the woods), will be better, especially the post-race experience.

I never thought anyone would say this, but I miss North Korea.

1 May 2016

In defence of non-candidate Shirwin Eu: He could've been our Donald Trump

Haters gonna hate.

No one took Mr Donald Trump seriously at first too.

But now people around the globe are preparing for the apocalypse (and I don’t mean X-Men: Apocalypse) as the US billionaire looks set to be the Republican Party nominee for the most powerful office in the world.

But I wouldn’t worry too much about Mr Trump actually being elected President of the United States.

The former star of The Apprentice TV show is about as likely to beat Mrs Hillary Clinton as a football team that barely escaped relegation last season is to win the English Premier League.

What? Leicester City? Oh.

Maybe I better start building that bomb shelter.

So if Leicester and Mr Trump can make it, why not Mr Shirwin Eu (#SureWinYou)?

Like Leicester, Mr Eu is an underdog. Like Mr Trump last year when he first announced his intention to run for president, Mr Eu is considered a political joke.

So much so that his wife had to go on Facebook to explain why she didn't stop him from becoming a “laughing stock”.

Hey, through sickness and health and two abortive attempts to run for election, right?

It’s deja vu all over again.

On Wednesday, Mr Eu failed in his bid to be an independent candidate in the May 7 Bukit Batok by-election.

He didn’t have the $13,500 election deposit, possibly because he spent too much money on hats to wear to the nomination centre.

The Uber driver also didn’t have the required signatures to support his nomination.

This is similar to what happened in his previous attempt to run for office in Bukit Panjang in the General Election last year.

Mr Eu had the signatures then, but according to his Facebook post, “my wife told me all my existing signatures are invalid”.

He told The New Paper: “I didn’t read the election handbook.”

The signatures he got were not from Bukit Panjang residents. As he explained on Facebook: “My friendship too limited in west, no friends in bp smc.”

To salvage his nomination, Mr Eu posted on Facebook:
“To only bukit panjang smc voters, I will be reimbursing your transport/meal allowance tomorrow at $50 (neg) if you are willing to sign for me (limited to first 10 signatures) and be present at nomination centre tmrw.”
But his offer was not taken up and Dr Teo Ho Pin is now the Member of Parliament for Bukit Panjang SMC.

Unfortunately for Mr Eu again, Bukit Batok is also in the west, where his “friendship” is “too limited”.

If only instead of Mr David Ong, it was, say, Mr Lim Biow Chuan, the MP of Mountbatten SMC, who had resigned over a “personal indiscretion”.

Then the by-election would be held in the east, where one assumes Mr Eu has at least 10 friends.

Last week, he didn’t even bother making the $50 offer.

Instead, he showed up at the nomination centre hoping that “someone would be willing to help me in the paperwork process”.

“If not,” he said, “then maybe I should just appeal to the Elections Department for such a waiver.”

Someone on Twitter posted: “Whatever this Shirwin Eu is drinking, I would like to have a cup of it too. #confidenceiskey”

Another tweeted: “Shirwin Eu might be the biggest troll to have ever graced Singapore.”

In the end, the Election Department said Mr Eu left without filing any nomination papers.

Frustrated by the requirements, he said: “The rule of this game should be abolished, if sincerely we want a true democratic society that individuals are able to express themselves.”

His would-be rivals, Mr Murali Pillai of the People’s Action Party and Dr Chee Soon Juan of the Singapore Democratic Party, must have heaved a collective sigh of relief that they didn’t have to face such a formidable opponent as Mr Eu.

What makes him such a formidable opponent?

As Mr Eu said himself: “I would like to think I’m a more attractive candidate… maybe because I’m young and honest.”

He’s not wrong. At 32, he is much younger than both Mr Murali, 48, and Dr Chee, 53.

And Mr Eu is so honest that when he was asked why he wanted to take part in the by-election, he said: “I like to be elected. I like to enjoy the fame and wealth of this job prospect.”

Can you imagine any politician saying that?

And this honesty is another thing he has in common with Mr Trump.

As someone on Facebook wrote:
“Donald Trump and Shirwin Eu have shown that we’re all so tired of our politicians and leaders always lying to us that we readily like political candidates that are honest, even if the thing they’re being honest about is that they’re absolute morons.”
But look at where Mr Trump is now. This “absolute moron” could be the next leader of the free world.

Luckily for him, he didn’t have to run for election in Bukit Batok.

Like Mr Eu, Mr Trump probably doesn’t have many friends there too.

Although he could probably come up with the $13,500.

Hate the game, man. Don't hate the playa.

- Published in The New Paper, 1 May 2016

EARLIER: Wanna be a candidate? Fill up the form correctly & speak Hokkien

26 April 2016

I took the MRT train in North Korea and it didn't break down

In light of another major MRT breakdown in Singapore, I figure now is the perfect time to share my experience of taking the Metro in North Korea just over two weeks ago.

This was in the middle of a Saturday afternoon the day before the Pyongyang marathon.

It was arranged for us to take the train as a group, so we didn't get to experience how the ticketing system works.

Outside a Metro station:

Inside the station with my sister looking at the turnstiles:

Taking the longest escalator ride (4 minutes) down to the deepest underground rail system in the world:

The train platforms are quite grandly decorated.

Newspapers for the communists, I mean, commuters to read.

A video taken by my sister of a train arriving:

Unlike in Singapore, there are no safety barriers on the platform. It looked like the passengers have to pull open the train doors themselves.

On the train:

One thing I noticed about the train was that some of the windows can be opened and were, which made the ride even noisier.

Leaving the station:

Another video taken by my sister riding the escalator up and out of the station:


I went to North Korea & asked for the Kim Jong Un haircut (and lived)

I went to North Korea & took lots of selfies


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