February 28, 2007

Reminiscences - school subjects

I think you seldom hear people praise maths.

Maths is a lovely subject.

It was my favourite subject in school.

In pre-u the maths was more interesting. I enjoyed drawing graphs with beautiful curves from trigonometric equations (the types with sin x, cos x…..). I also liked to solve problems in applied maths (things like calculating velocities and resolving forces). And I find calculus, a important branch of pure maths, fascinating too.

As for the subjects I disliked …..

In lower sec it was History, in upper sec it was Literature (didn’t take History) and in pre-u it was Chemistry, especially Organic Chemistry.

These subjects have something in common – they require you to memorize a lot of facts.

What about English?

I treated it as an important subject. I put in good effort but there was little love or enthusiasm. My view is that if you write simple sentences with few grammatical errors you will get a credit. I got interested in English only when I was in sec 4.

Here is a funny ad video for China Mobile:

中國移動通信 China Mobile "溝通100 - 阿姨"

February 26, 2007


Nowadays in schools there are maths camp, maths exhibition, maths treasure hunt (where you have to do some calculations, deduction or induction with the clues you get) and innovative maths teaching. These games and innovation could arouse pupils’ interest in maths, but to sustain their interest is not so easy. After the fun part the major part is still practice and solving problems.

When I was in school there were none of these things. Yet I was very interested in Mathematics. This interest was self-motivated; nothing to do with the teaching methods or whether the maths teachers were good or not good, handsome or not handsome.

You see a chinese opera actress gliding in small quick steps across the stage and flipping her sleeves effortlessly. Just some simple moves and just a few lines. But the movements are all very graceful and the singing beautiful.

As the chinese saying goes “on stage 3 minutes, off stage 10 years hard effort”. It takes passion, perseverance and discipline; otherwise she would not have succeeded. Others would have given up after a few months.

For local chinese opera artistes, I think it is also self-motivated interest. Besides all the qualities I mentioned above, they also need determination and a lot positive thinking because there will be frustrations, setbacks and disappointments along the way.

Here is a rousing music by the 6 Roses to cheer you up:

賽馬 Horse racing

February 24, 2007

Opera @ CTC Chinese Opera Teahouse

Found these two short videos. I think it is an excerpt about General Di Qing trying to get the princess drunk. The sheng is Frances Wong and the dan is Joanna Seetoh.

CO video channels

Hello, cantonese opera fans,

If you like 龍劍笙, 梅雪詩, 任劍輝, 白雪仙 you can visit Melaniemlcheung's channel. Most of her opera videos are on these 4 artistes and some artistes in the 60s like 林家聲.

There are also many cantonese opera videos at Tudou. Just do a search for 粵劇. Three users have uploaded quite a number of cantonese opera videos, one of the channels is dedicated to
龍劍笙, 梅雪詩.

February 23, 2007

Unfriendly acts

I was thinking of writing about our neighbours’ unreasonable accusations and unfriendly acts like using sand to put pressure on us or blaming us for their floods. But this would require searching for facts, looking through the back news….better leave it to the journalists.

I don’t believe in trying to please or appease another country. Cooperate with them, help them if possible such as when they have disasters like floods and earthquakes but don’t expect any favour or even gratitude. Just help like you would help anyone in difficulties.

I think some politicians don’t believe in a win-win deal. As long as the other side loses they don’t mind even if they lose more.

February 18, 2007


My friend Victor made this comment in one of the posts:

Frannxis, what's the "If I support Empty Paras" thing doing in your post?

I was quite puzzled and didn't know what he was referring to until I visited my blog in a friend's computer today. Then I saw this 'if !supportEmptyParas' or something like that after almost every paragraph. My computer does not have this problem.

I don't know how it came about.

So, friends, if that comes up in your screen just ignore it.



February 17, 2007

Capitalist head, Socialist heart

This headline in the papers made me recall my GP (General Paper) lessons at Pre-U. Occasionally, we discussed about things like communism and democracy. I think most of us students had only superficial knowledge of these. America was capitalism, China was communism and Singapore, democratic socialism.

I remember writing an essay, something about Nationalism. My scanty knowledge of nationalism was from a few articles I read in newspapers and magazines. But I wrote as if I knew a lot. Come to think of it, I was really a toad in a well.

But one thing, even in those days I was aware that race, religion and language are sensitive topics. Later I also understand why Malay is our National Language. I studied some Malay out of necessity but have forgotten more than 90% already because of un-use.

Last year, a newspaper in Denmark published some cartoons on Prophet Mohammad. There were protests by Muslims in many countries. I read some blog comments. A few Singaporeans have this view - After 40 years of independence, we are more mature now, so we can discuss racial and religious issues rationally. We should be allowed to debate them freely.

I find it hard to agree with this view.

Another news item – A brief ceremony to remember victims of the Japanese Occupation - peace is precious. (Singapore fell to the Japanese in 15 February 1942.) Peace and independence are linked to defense.

Some people feel that Asean countries are friendly and we have no imminent danger of being attacked, so Singapore does not need to maintain a strong armed force or to spend so much on defense.

This is another view I don’t agree with.

These two things (policies on religion and defense) you cannot try out first and if something unpleasant happens, then revert to original position.

February 12, 2007


A journalist wrote in a commentary that the ban on the sale of sand might not be a bad thing altogether. Who knows, we could come up with new sand just as we produced new water.

We also got new land – reclaimed land.

Exciting news – Singapore gearing up for a population of 6.5 millions in 20 years. Plans for housing, recreation and transport will be drawn up. Since we do not produce enough babies, I suppose the majority of the new people will come from other countries. They become our ‘new citizens’.

February 11, 2007

Foreign students

Foreign students did well in the O-level. This is not surprising. They have been in our schools for a long time and generally they are very serious in their studies.

Around the mid 90s, there was already quite a strong presence of foreign students in a few secondary schools I knew of. Many of these students were from China and Indonesia, some from Malaysia, Thailand and HK and a few from Taiwan and Cambodia.

Many entered the school direct into sec 1 or 2 (not through PSLE) but they had to take an entrance exams conducted by the school. It usually consisted of an English paper, a maths paper and maybe a science paper. They paid full-rate school fees and I think they had to donate a sum to the school if admitted.

The China students were generally weak in English but good in Mathematics. But usually many managed to get a comfortable credit in English after 3 or 4 years with sheer determination and perseverance. But there were also a few who had to be retained or transferred to another stream because they failed English.

Naturally Singapore parents are worried that foreign students would compete with their children not only in schools but also compete for places in institutions of higher learning, for scholarships and later for jobs.

February 10, 2007

How to describe......

In today’s papers there was a report about HDTV (high-definition tv). Someone said ‘it is very hard to describe how good a picture looks’. He was referring to the image of HDTV which is more realistic and very much sharper. Those who have used it will not want to switch back to their regular tv. (I don’t have a HDTV set, so I don’t know how good the picture is.)

I remember reading this in a book - A person who has never eaten a mango will not know how a mango tastes like no matter how good your description is. You tell him it is sweet. “Sweet, I know…” this person may think he knows the taste of mangoes already.

But the sweetness of a mango is not the same as the sweetness of an orange or of any other fruit. There are as many types of sweetness as there as many types of fruits.

What about feelings?

I often hear this phrase in HK drama serials when a person tries to console another person – ‘I understand how you feel’.

She is sad or angry but you won’t know the exact feeling or the degree of sadness. Even if you have a similar experience, due to the difference in character your feeling is not quite the same.

Does a man know the feeling or pain in giving birth? He thinks he understands the feeling or he can imagine the pain but will he ever know.

There are things we think we understand or know but actually we do not.

By the same reasoning, we may not understand our friends, so it is better to be more tolerant and not to judge too quickly.

Thank you for reading this wuliao ramblings.

February 09, 2007

A different mindset

During childhood, occasionally my father took my sister and me to dinner with two of his good friends. Sometimes they also brought their kids along. After the meal, the three men would quickly fish out their wallets or money and offered to pay the bill.

(In those days a lot of people, especially blue-collar workers, did not carry wallets because apart from the IC, most of them had no other cards. So they just put the money in their pockets.)

No, they were not rich, or pretending or trying to show off. It was their mindset. To them, it showed that they were financially okay and others in the restaurant would also not ‘look down’ on them. Not doing so could make their friends think that they were in some financial difficulties. The offer-to-pay was good enough, not necessary must pay. Looking at it from another angle, it could be that they did not want to lose face.

I believe, subtly they took turns to pay. Because they knew the others also thought the same way. But as I said everyone would still do the offer-to-pay part and if he happened to nearest to the waitress and the waitress collected his money, never mind also. This is not the same as pretending. Pretending means you have no intention to pay.

At that time I also did not understand.

I don’t think people think this way now. But, I think it is a good thing to be able to give others a treat.

February 03, 2007


Let us distract our people from the problems we created.
Our disposed PM met their DPM, let us cook up some story.

Got floods in our country.
Because they reclaim land.

They are going to build the IRs.
Don’t sell them sand.

If we were a poor country or if our racial mix is more even, (say 45% Chinese, 40% Malay, 15% Indians & Others) I think our neighbours, particularly the two nearest, would not target us that frequently and the animosities not that strong.

I believe one reason is envy. They are envious of our good fortune. Not just our economic growth but other things like stability. I remember someone said ‘It is not what we do, it is what we are that matters’. I think even if we try to please or appease them, it doesn’t help much. Unless we don’t progress…..