Sunday 26 August 2018

Fourth time's the charm: Safra Bay Run & Army Half Marathon didn't kick my ass for once

Why I expected to do badly at this morning's Army Half Marathon:

One, I always do badly in the Army Half Marathon. In 2013, 2016 and last year.

Two, my left leg has been hurting since March so I couldn't train as hard as I would've liked and so I'm even less fit than before.

Three, I'm growing old. I turned 52 this year and injuries are taking longer to heal if they ever do.

Four, I barely got any sleep last night before the 4.30am flag-off. (I was in the second wave, which was flagged off about 15 minutes later.) I felt surprisingly better than I expected at the start of the race. My left leg didn't bother me as much as I feared.

Five, there was a bottleneck after the 5km mark, which killed any momentum I had, causing a delay of at least 5 minutes. Many runners and I had to cut through some bushes, which scratched my legs. Somebody really screwed up here.

Six, after 9km, I stopped to get a drink a few times, which made me feel bloated, so I had to take time to walk it off after each hydration point. I think I drank too much 100Plus.

Seven, I had to stop and queue for the public toilet at East Coast Park to take a leak. That was another 5-minute delay. By the way, this was my first race where the organisers put up signs to show you where the public toilets were, which was helpful, I gotta say.

But despite all the negatives, at the 15km mark, I was still feeling pretty okay. For every previous half marathon, this was the point where I just wanted to die. For the first time, it didn't happen.

It helped that unlike previous years, there were no demoralising U-turns in the latter part of the route. I hate U-turns.

I had enough energy left to try and sprint to the finish line in the last kilometre. The key word is "try".

A little Journey for the remainder of the journey.

In the end, I achieved my second best time for the Army Half Marathon

If not for the bottleneck and toilet break, it could've been my best time.

Hopefully, I can maintain this form for the Bintan half marathon next month.

UPDATE: Running the half at the International Bintan Marathon

Monday 20 August 2018

Is SAF using NDP guard-of-honour chiobu Gorgina Choo for recruitment? Yes, but...

At least it wasn’t a schoolboy giving you the finger.

That was the big controversy of last year’s National Day Parade. This year, the controversy doesn’t have to be blurred out.

It all started during President Halimah Yacob’s inspection of the guard of honour. Perhaps it was fitting that being our first woman president at her first NDP as head of state, Madam Halimah stopped for a few words with a female member of the Republic of Singapore Air Force (RSAF) contingent, Military Expert 1 Gorgina Choo.

Yes, Gorgina, not Georgina. The “e” probably melted off in the heat. Warner Bros should apologise.

By the next day, links to her social media accounts were posted in the HardwareZone online forum along with selfies from her Instagram.

Comments include “She has a very nice ass”, “Heading to CMPB on Monday to sign on RSAF liao” and “Figure really quite faps”.

The next day, the Alvinology website posted an article called “Who is Gorgina Choo? The chiobu guard of honour President Halimah Yacob spoke to at NDP 2018”, which included a poll: “Who is Singapore’s top chiobu in uniform?”

Then last Wednesday, another website called Rice Media posted an article criticising the focus on the looks of ME1 Choo and other military women by Alvinology, SAF and others.

Unfortunately, the article was misleadingly headlined “Does the SAF only hire attractive women?” which was not the article’s point at all.

This apparently created enough online chatter about the “objectification of women in uniform” that The Straits Times asked the Ministry of Defence (Mindef) about it.

Mindef said it regularly features its servicemen and servicewomen across various platforms and channels. These pictorials may include glamorous shots of them in their civilian attire, taken with the approval of those featured.

“This is standard commercial practice used by many organisations to highlight individuals in their multifaceted roles and attributes and in no way dilutes their contributions in the SAF,” added Mindef.

The question is, why does Mindef seem to highlight only servicewomen who are chiobu?

The answer is – it doesn’t.

Just last week, Mindef on its social media platforms featured SAFVC Volunteer 2 Chi Meina, a mother of two who volunteers as a Command, Control, Communications and Computers expert with RSAF, and SV2 Arlene Pang, who joined the navy as a bridge watchkeeper despite her father telling her: “Sailing is not for girls.”

Why aren’t they getting more attention? Could it be because they are not chio enough?

Is it Mindef’s fault that the buayas in HardwareZone only pick on those they consider to be chiobu, ignoring the non-chiobu?

Maybe that’s how Rice Media got the impression that SAF “regularly parades these attractive young women in front of thirsty male citizens in order to get them to sign on with the army”.

If this were true, all Singaporean men should give Mindef the finger for treating us like such shallow lechers, even though we are. #MenToo

Sure, more than one buaya in HardwareZone joked about joining the air force after seeing ME1 Choo, but did any of them actually follow through?

Thanks to national service, most of us are forced to enlist anyway, whether we want to or not, unlike those women who paid to join the 2D1N “boot camp” next month to “experience the day-to-day routines of our national servicemen”.

They are likely part of the demographic that Mindef is targeting with its video about ME1 Choo where she gave advice to women thinking about joining SAF and not advice to guys on how to date her.

“If boys can do it, girls can do it too,” she said.

So you see, SAF is really parading these attractive young women to get women to sign up, not men.

Because god knows SAF already has us by the, uh... let’s say “HardwareZone”.

Whether Singaporean women should give Mindef the finger is up to them.

Just don’t do it at NDP.

- Published in The New Paper, 20 August 2018

Dear Mr Ong,

You have an interesting write up. I am disturbed by the use of “chiobu” in a national paper.

The choice of the name chiobu which has been misused in Singapore as a hot babe and buxom woman. In the older generation (I belong to now), it means more than that.

Growing up in a Hokkien speaking family with my late educated uncle (whose age could be my grandfather) and father from Xiamen, the word goes in the direction of offensive and degrading of women. It is known to be an unrefined expression and does not befit the image of The New Paper which is read by foreigners from Taiwan and Hokkien Province in Singapore. A check with one of them, she agreed me that “chiobu” is anything but flattering to woman and has been misused in Singapore.

Just a comment from an traditional Singaporean auntie.

EARLIER: NDP 2017: We have a new national bird

Thursday 16 August 2018

Remember that time ministers actually got a pay cut? It will probably never happen again

Thanks to recent comments by a former Prime Minister who shall remain unnamed, ministers' pay has been a hot topic for two weeks now with longer legs than I expected.

But what I find missing in the discussion is any mention that ministers did get a pay cut once.

Remember? It was just six years ago.

Here's a reminder:

It was big news.

After decades of people bitching that our ministers are paid way too much (like they're doing now... again), the Government actually caved to public pressure and agreed to cut the ministers' salaries.

And this was in 2012, one year after the 2011 General Election and three years before the 2015 General Election. So you can't even call it a PAP election ploy.

I thought people would give the Government some credit for that, but the reaction to the ministerial pay cut was a big meh.

As in "So? They're still paid too much."

As The New Paper reported:
Don’t cut, they whack.

Slash the pay of political appointment holders and they still let fly.

Twitterverse was abuzz with the hashtag #ministerpaycut shortly after noon yesterday.

“Too little.”

“Not enough.”

These were the words used by some to describe the pay cuts for political appointment holders – ranging from 15-53 per cent – recommended by the eight-man committee set up by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong last May to review political salaries.

Some critics pointed out that despite a 36 per cent pay cut, PM Lee will still earn more than the leaders of Hong Kong, Australia and the US combined.

Under the committee’s recommendations, PM Lee would receive an annual salary of $2.2 million.

The combined salaries of the leaders of Hong Kong, Australia and the US is close to $1.9 million.

The Speaker of Parliament, a post now held by Punggol East SMC Member of Parliament Michael Palmer, saw the deepest cut, of 53 per cent, while the Prime Minister and other Cabinet ministers had cuts of 31 per cent to 39 per cent. PM Lee is likely to face a pay cut of 36 per cent from his 2010 pay of $3.07m.

PM Lee said in a letter addressed to Mr Ee that the Government intends to accept the committee’s recommendations.

Reactions came thick and fast. Will the top talent still step up to serve with the pay cut? Why not cut more?

It's a no-win situation.

What’s the point then?

And now the whole ministerial pay thing has blown up again and no one has even mentioned the 2012 pay cut.

If I were the Government, I would just let the issue blow over (and it will) because as history has shown, giving in to a pay cut won't appease anyone. The haters are still gonna hate.

Been there, done that.

The ministers already gave themselves a pay cut once and no one appreciated it. Now that they've learnt their lesson, I doubt they'll ever do it again.

At least they get to keep their money.

It has been suggested that the ministerial pay cut was a consequence of PAP's poor showing in the 2011 General Election (where PAP lost a GRC for the first time).

This makes sense. Stung by the swing against the PAP, the ruling party sought to win back voters and the pay cut was its way of telling the electorate: "We hear what you're saying. We can change."

The PAP would do much better in the next election in 2015, but I don't think anyone thinks the pay cut was a factor.

Saturday 11 August 2018

Return of the rendang burger death match: McDonald's versus Burger King

It's back!

The last time I wrote about the rendang burger death match was five years ago when McDonald's pulled off an upset victory after Burger King scored an own goal by adding mayonnaise to the burger it originated.

This year, thanks to National Day, the death match is back as McDonald's has brought back its rendang burger at the same time as BK.

But this year, McDonald's takes its rendang burger to the next level by using angus beef, adding a fried egg and charging more for it while BK sticks to the classic and wisely leaves off the mayo.

I tried them both so that you don't have to.

And the winner of the rendang burger death match 2018 is... the classic.

The King is back. Long live the King!

There's a reason the BK rendang burger was once named one of Travel+Leisure magazine’s global top five burgers.

On the other hand, McDonald's overstuffed Rendang Sedap Angus Beef Burger is just too try-hard. I also found it too salty.

Crispiness is not a factor.

EARLIER: Never mind the Minions, here’s the rendang burger death match

Thursday 9 August 2018

Majulah Walk & Run for National Day

A run where I could just walk to the starting line from home.

The Majulah Walk & Run this National Day morning started from the Choa Chu Kang Stadium and ended at Gain City Megastore @ Sungei Kadut.

I joined the 8km run

Even my New Balance shoes were patriotic.

Minister Lawrence Wong flagged off the 8km run at 8am.

I bumped into my ex-secondary school classmate, Chin Hau (again!), at the stadium. Don't know why even though he moved out of Yew Tee more than 10 years ago, he still volunteers at the community sports club.

Crossing the road to Pang Sua Canal, my regular training route.

Water, anyone?

Just strolling along the Rail Corridor with a flag on his head like nobody’s business.

It was good weather for a run. No rain and not too hot.

There used to be an outdoor brothel that operated at night in this area which I jogged by a couple of times.

Heading into Sungei Kadut.

Back to the canal again.

Turning into Sungei Kadut again.

Here was where the 8km runners and the 3km walkers merged, causing a bottleneck.

Then it was an open road to the end.

The Gain City Megastore. I don't understand the van either.

There appeared to be two finish lines,

France won the World Coke, I mean, Cup.

I would feel sorry for anyone who had to massage my feet.

Really long queue for the Milo van.

And of course, the obligatory selfie with the ambulance.

Happy National Day!