The Blue and Gold

Issue 5 MICA (P) 200/03/2009 Because You Need to Know. March 2009

A Singapore Management University Students’ Association Publication

The GSR debate
Interview with the new SMUSA Exco
New Section: CCA Pages!

Good cause for protest? Or just policy-making gone wrong?

SMU Students’ Association’s take on the big and small issues
Breeming with content generated by SMU RUN TEAM, SMU AQUATHON PAW, SMUKI, and SMU ISE


This issue of The Blue and Gold is proudly sponsored by:

Credits: Managing Director Michael Ng Wai Ting Editor-in-Chief Ephraim Loy Suan Je Communications Secretary,SMUSA Valmond Teng Editors: School Events Bharath Ranganathan Viewpoint Suren Rastogi Higher Learning Truong Thi Ngoc Anh Worldscope Esther Yeo Shu Xian Talisa Kaur Dhaliwal Digital Pranav Backliwal Travel Truong Thi Ngoc Anh Campus Arts Pang Hui Qing Graphic Design Faith Hu Jingyi Illustrator Kanika Malik Part of:

It has been a whirlwind journey. And what’s more, a flurry of arts events in SMU over the last month as we slogged to bring this issue from screen to print. In fact, I’ve had my own share of arty-farty stuff too. Having spent the last few weeks of the past year flying my friends’ kites. Not in a literal sense though. It was an artwork on “freedom of expression” which was exhibited at the visual art exhibition in conjunction with the sixth SMU Arts Festival. I also fell in love with the inaugural SMU <3 Film Festival. I swear I saw a nice “heart” embedded in the title. Wished the romance could have lasted a little longer. Catching Honk! The Musical made me wonder realise why the story was synonymous with SMU. Therein lies the difference. It was a nice way to wrap up the festivities with a classic story. And then I hopped over next door from the Victoria Theatre to the Victoria Concert Hall for a treat most pleasing to the ears. Fit for a queen, if I could draw some similarities, this concert presented by Symphonia. But just as all the arty stuff was going on, serious things take place too. A new SMUSA Exco had stepped up to serve the SMU community. An exclusive interview with the new team on topics close to our hearts awaits as you flip the pages. Simple things like the issue of GSRs gets thrown into the spotlight - a lack of student consultation perhaps? On the world stage, a new US President sworn in, a Gaza strip conflict and a recession as deep as the Great Depression. Tough and exciting times hit us. How do we deal with such challenges? Ephraim Loy Editor-in-Chief

Printer KHL Printing Co Pte Ltd

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18•      Flashpoint: Gaza Strip 4•      Letters from the students Excerpts of views from the ground on issues that matter 6•      Unbranded Column* The Wikipedia in your Head: Impossibly large and incredibly crash-proof

CCA Pages

20•      Fueling Your Run by SMU Runteam  22•      Triathlon 101 by SMU AQUATHLON 24•      Paradise on Earth by SMU PAW 26•      “Dari Kita Untuk Kita” by SMUKI 28•      Social Entreprenuership is a Complex  and Ferocious Animal to Tame by SMU ISE

School Events

8•      The GSR debate Good cause for protest? Or just policy-making gone wrong? 10•      Interview with the new SA Exco SMU Students’ Association’s take on the big and small issues

Campus Arts
30•      Honk! Honkin’ Splendid

Higher Learning

12•      Interview with Edmund’s A interview session with our very own entrepreneur

32•      Apostrophe: The Poetry Slam Show 33•      LAMHE (Moment) - ICS Dance Performance 34•      SMU Film Fest Inaugural three-day film festival in SMU kicks off


16•      Chinanomics It is one thing to learn about China from textbooks. It is another thing to learn about China from living here. A running column on life in Shanghai. 17•      All the World’s a Stage

Catch us online!
The Blue and Gold • Issue 4 • Page 3

Letters from the students
Excerpts of views from the ground on issues that matter
Is there sufficient interaction between local and International students? SUMEDHA JALOTE “When the idea of my going outside India for college first came up, I was less than enthusiastic. At that time, my parents were suggesting the US, not Singapore. I’ve lived in the US for a year, and though I really liked that year, I didn’t want to study there for four years. I didn’t want to live so far away from home, among unfamiliar people. I was scared. Then, after a lot of research, I started thinking about it. I talked to my family and my friends. What are the rights of a SMU student? ELVIN ONG “In a state system, citizens have rights accorded to them by the constitution, which is the law of the land. Similarly, in any business transaction, we know that parties to a contract have specific rights subject to certain limitations. When disputes arise, rights between parties come into conflict, and it is up to the court to weigh the arguments and to provide a resolution. Human rights, consumer rights, animal rights, property rights, worker rights – the debate for all of them seem endless. But university student rights? Silent. Not even a pin drop. The question simply just popped right into my head after I noticed that the “rights of students” appeared both in SMUSA’s vision and mission Many of my friends told me all the good things that I would get from education abroad. But one of my friends said that he thought it was a bad idea to go abroad so young. He said that I wasn’t mature enough to take full advantage of the experiences that studying in such a diverse place such as the US could give me. He thought that I’d get scared and end up trying to make friends only with other Indians to stay within my comfort zone. It seemed very unlikely to me that I would be part of only an “Indian gang” in college. And then, my parents and I thought about Singapore, I applied, got admitted, and, comforted by its proximity to home, decided to study here. But my friend turned out to be partially right. I’ve been in Singapore for six months now, but all my friends are Indians. I’ve worked with many Singaporeans and with international students from other countries too, but made friends only with Indians. I don’t know why exactly this has happened: the locals that I’ve worked with have been very friendly, and I’ve liked most of them. But the link would always end with the end of the project....”

in the annual report provided during SMUSA’s AGM. I thought that it was a logical question to ask, since if you proclaim to want to uphold or advocate something, you should know what you are upholding or advocating. You must know. Apparently, you don’t. We don’t. It cannot be just some airy-fairy, imaginative notion that SMUSA reaches for conveniently to justify their actions, inactions or arguments when confronting controversial issues between students and the school administration. Such an approach is weak, reflects badly on our student leaders and does not help support the various causes of the student population. There must be something concrete and defensible, to provide for a foundation of the relationships between all the stakeholders in the university system. Students need to know where they can stand, or cannot stand, so that they

can take up positions on issues and participate effectively and meaningfully in school. Lest there are some cynics among you who question the purpose for clarifying the rights of students in SMU, perhaps a few examples might enlighten the issue. Suppose that the school administration wishes to implement a school-wide policy, say hypothetically, that all students cannot eat donuts in school. The new policy has been formulated by administrative office managers, approved by the respective director and an email is sent out to the whole school, informing students about the new policy change. An uproar ensues. As much as donut-loving students may complain, do they have the right to participate and influence eating policymaking procedures and decisions?...”

Want to see more? Read the full version online!  Log on to 
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Aesthetics & Convenience
With advancements in technology, Lasik procedures are getting safer and cheaper attributing to why they are so common nowadays. However, most people are under the impression that the main reason for Lasik surgery is to be “spec-free” and have that aesthetically-pleasing look. However the benefits of Lasik are much more than aesthetics and convenience. lenses with unwashed fingers. There are also cases of pingueculaes and pterygiums which can lead to frequent red eyes. Hard contact lens users are also prone to developing ptosis or droopy eyelids.

Upon doing the proverbial math the earlier one opts for refractive surgery, the more one benefits from Lasik. Viewed from an economic perspective, after four years one could be looking at actually saving money. Having recently undergone the procedure myself, if you have not even checked out your suitability for the procedure, I would like to suggest that you consider doing so during your break as it is truly an amazing feeling to have your natural vison back. Andrew Huang

Economic Benefits

Medical Benefits

By removing the need to wear contact lenses, the risks of a number of various eye disorders associated with contact lens wear are eliminated. These include allergic conjunctivitis, corneal ulcers, and eye infections from handling

By opting for Lasik, one can save recurring expenses from contact lenses an d spectacles. Replacing your spectacles every one and a half to two years can set you back around $180-$800. Combined with the $300-$340 yearly cost of contact lenses & cleaning solutions, for those who use both, that’s up to $390-$790 of recurring expenses a year!


Unbranded Column*
Pretty much all of these (memory) problems with forgetting have to do with problems of retrieval, not complete loss of the original memory link...You have not lost it permanently and you know it will show up. But for now, for the life of you, you have no idea where it might be lurking.

The Wikipedia in your Head: Impossibly large and incredibly crash-proof

S. Ramaswami Practice Associate Professor of Marketing You may have learnt in consumer behaviour or in psychology that the human memory is capable of absorbing and retaining a vast amount of information. Almost everything you knew well at some point in time (e.g. names of school classmates, all the members of the table of elements, various world capitals) is engraved in your memory forever. Or until you suffer some physical brain damage through a blow to the head, or by playing too many video games. Ok, that last part was a joke. But, really, your memory is limitless and permanent, at least until you get senile and the brain cells begin deteriorating. And yet, you all know how tough it can be to remember everything you need to during an exam. Or how sometimes, you remember the correct answer moments after handing in an exam. How can that be? If your memory is virtually

limitless and virtually permanent, then why do you have such difficulty remembering names of people you used to know well, or the specific technical terms of concepts you covered in class just weeks ago? Mental Mess Pretty much all of these kinds of problems with forgetting have to do with problems of retrieval, not complete loss of the original memory link. Imagine you have a very cluttered home. You know your passport has not left your home. And that it is in a very safe place where you have kept it for that precise moment when you might decide to leave on that impulsive Bangkok holiday. It is there, somewhere, but you have no idea where it is. And the only way you can search, is sequentially, looking through every cubic inch of space – in drawers, in cupboards, in folders, inside shoes, pant pockets, old cereal boxes, nestled among books, etc. That can take a very long time, and sometimes despite

that exhaustive search and despite your eyes even physically passing over the passport a few times, you simply cannot find it. You have not lost it permanently and you know it will show up. But for now, for the life of you, you have no idea where it might be lurking. The human memory is much like that for the unorganized among us. It is just a vast jumble of information unconnected and in scattered bits and pieces. For those trivia quiz winners, for the expert, for those exam acers, their memory is not necessarily bigger in capacity; it is just much better organized. There is a place for everything, and everything is in its place. But you can be like that too, with a little bit of preparation. Often, I find that when I teach a concept or theory or method in week 2 of the term, and ask some probing questions of my students right after that, they are able to answer brilliantly well. And

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again been scattered into the deep recesses of the brain. other, with no way of retrieving anything useful. Instead, you have a wonderful virtual portable Wikipedia of your own creation. And then every bit of business news, stock market information, articles from various media, conversations with friends, is that much easier to file away and hence remember. And that is the true value that you are offering to a company that is looking to hire for the knowledge economy. Not just a lot of bits and pieces of data which were once learnt with just enough lasting power to ace that end term exam. But knowledge that is organized and available for life. Organization is the key to efficient retrieval. Of that passport in that big jumble of your room. And of vital information in that Wikipedia you are capable of creating for yourself in your brain. * The main objective of this column is to convey an independent faculty perspective on academic matters that seem of great importance to SMU students – on grades, class participation, group projects, examinations, grade reviews, etc. The author does not claim to represent the official SMU view. Comments, critiques, ideas for future columns, questions are welcome – email me at

Every new bit of information should not just be shoved in on top of everything else but connected to other bits of information that are already gathered. And the time do that organizing is not once a term, and not just in week 14.

that gives me such great confidence in my own teaching ability. Yet, in week 6 or 7, when I expect them to demonstrate that understanding in some application in a project, say the design of a project questionnaire, or in some quiz question, the same students do it like they have never attended class at all. And like they are trying to construct the answer from first principles as a lay but smart non-student. And these are not slackers; these are students who are very bright and very hardworking, and who have been attending class regularly and are able to answer questions at will while the material is being taught. So what’s wrong here? And what can they do to make sure that the learning is more permanent? Just having a lot of information stored in memory is surely not good enough if you are not able to retrieve it at will when you want to. Organizing the information mess The trick to this is to organize your memory. Just like you might organize your desk or cupboard or shelves, or laptop hard drives. Every new bit of information should not just be shoved in on top of everything else but connected to other bits of information that are already gathered. And the time do that organizing is not once a term, and not just in week 14. If you did that, then, minutes after the exam is over (or unfortunately for some, minutes before the exam is over), whatever semblance of organization was there would have

Reading Information The time to organize is at the start, when the information goes in - when you read, and when you listen for the first time. You need to read and listen with an active, questioning, organizing mind – which is constantly confronting the new information within some broad organizational framework already created and which can be continually refined. Even when you read a text, don’t just jump into the assigned chapter and try to read every line from the first to the last, trying to memorize as much as you can. Instead, start with the contents page where the chapter’s layout is described. The chapter has sections and headings, sub-headings and sub-sub-headings. And the chapter itself is part of a section of the textbook and course that has some conceptual link to other chapters and portions of the book. And that layout of the chapters is usually described in the introductory chapter. So even if chapter 1 is not included in the quiz, or exam, read it anyway, because it will often have an organizational framework for the entire book. So now, when you read a line of text, it is not a free floating bit of information. Instead, it is part of an organized framework, serving a specific role and connected to specific other parts of the initially developed framework. Expanding your knowledge framework That framework is your mental filing cabinet – with each concept connected to other concepts already learnt before. Sometimes, you might be learning deeper meanings for older concepts you learnt in an earlier course, or even in JC. Sometimes, you might be learning connections to other concepts you know of or have had different connections for in a different course. Sometimes, you might be expanding the framework by adding more boxes and arrows around it. In any case, every new bit of information is being considered, contrasted, chewed and stored in a place where you can retrieve it from later. And you could do that throughout the 35-45 courses you take at SMU, connecting learning in marketing about brand equity, to learning in finance about valuation, connecting learning in economics about macro economic effects of taxation, to learning in strategy about reacting to macro economic trends, and so on. Then, by the end of these four years, you don’t have some 10,000 bits of information piled rudely on top of each

And that is the true value that you are offering to a company that is looking to hire for the knowledge economy. Not just a lot of bits and pieces of data which were once learnt with just enough lasting power to ace that end term exam. But knowledge that is organized and available for life.

The Blue and Gold • Issue 4 • Page 7

School Events
The GSR debate
Good cause for protest? Or just policy-making gone wrong? “Dividing GSRs into seats,” said one student, “is amazingly 

OWEN TAN The announcement by the Office of Facilities Management (OFM) by email to students on January 5 sparked great debate about how decisions for students were made in campus. OFM had announced new rules for the booking of Group Study Rooms (GSRs): that up to three separate persons can book “seats” in the rooms, replacing the one-person booking system. This meant that the usage of a GSR is now given up to three different groups. Vice President, SMU Students’ Association (SMUSA), Daren Li explained: “OFM has received much flak on this issue. However, regardless of their oversight in informing the student population....their underlying intention was a noble one. All they wanted to solve was the problem of students hogging and underutilizing GSRs irresponsibly. We should not forget the other pro-student initiatives that they have come up with, the most recent one being installation of tables and benches at the LKCSB for more study space.“ While OFM’s intentions were to allow for more students to be able to book these facilities, especially during the later part of the term, most of the students were frustrated with the way

the decision was implemented and would have preferred if OFM had sought prior opinions. This prompted the SMUSA President Rachel Kok, to respond on the same day. “As fellow students,” she said, “we too understand the inconvenience and frustration that you all are experiencing now.” She also promised to hold talks with OFM to resolve this matter. The Facebook protest The GSR debate reached a high when students took to Facebookto protest against the new policy. At the time of writing, the group already had 1,216 members. Comments about the new policy by students in the group were mostly negative. “Dividing GSRs into seats,” said one student, “is amazingly ridiculous.” Others criticized the

lack of consulting with the students prior to the implementation of the policy. “Now,” another student said, “let’s see if our voices are actually heard.” While the group was indeed active in discussion, most of the remarks were complaints – a discussion board in the same group set up for concrete suggestions on improving GSR booking had only 10 posts, while the Wall posts where most of the discussions were held had 205. Compromise On January 7, Rachel responded with another email informing students that SMUSA and OFM were undergoing internal talks, in the hope

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School Events
to “glean insight from the perspectives of the different stakeholders”. Recounting the experience, she revealed: “Quite a number of us from the Students’ Association Council (SAC) went down to find out what was the rationale behind the policy change and to share about the potential inconveniences and repercussions from a student’s perspective. Some of these include privacy issues, effective reduction of hours and so on.” Offices to just go ahead and [introduce policies]. The compromise would then be their original desired point.” While the GSR debate has somewhat cooled after a hectic first week, it remains to be seen if the new booking system is a bitter, but effective remedy for the students. More important is the question of whether future policies might be implemented in a similar fashion in the future. Beyond the GSR issue When asked about the “unhealthy precedent” where students are left out of the decision-making process al-together until the decision is already made, Rachel explained that the “issue indeed came as a surprise.” But looking beyond what has happened, she acknowledged that in the decision process, some stakeholders might have be overlooked unintentionally by Offices in the school. She is quick to add that the issue had prompted concrete actions from the SA ExCo and an important realization. “I don’t rule out the possibility that there might be a similar occurrence in the future, considering there are more than 20 offices in SMU, but the SA ExCo is still in the midst of establishing stronger relationships and we hope that such instances are minimized.” She also said that she saw this as an excellent opportunity to institutionalize communication channels between the SAC and the offices. And by doing so, greater benefits will be reaped. “I believe that us being the bridge for the students would give way to greater participative and consultative decision making, which would effectively increase the overall benefit to the school and students,” she said. Whether the new rules will effectively reduce the congestion of GSR booking, however, can only be determined at the end of the term.

“I believe that (SMUSA) being the bridge for the students would give way to greater

participative and consultative decision making, which would

effectively in-crease the overall benefit to the school and students,” -SMUSA President Rachel Kok

Finally, a compromise was reached. On January 8 at 12.20pm, SMUSA sent an email informing students of a change in the GSR booking system: •Two students are now required to book a GSR (one to book, and another to confirm); •Hours will be deducted from both persons’ given quota. “SMUSA is here to listen,” she said in an email. “As the SA [Executive Committee] embarks on our new term, we earnestly hope that you will help us help you.” Students respond Some students are satisfied with the compromise. Said one: “The Students’ Association has done a good enough job for now.” Another student, however, felt that this set an “unhealthy precedent”. He said: “It now makes more sense for the various

The Blue and Gold • Issue 4 • Page 9

School Events

Interview with the new SA Exco
SMU Students’ Association’s take on the big and small issues


“...the question shouldn’t be so much what SMU can do to help the students become different, it’s about what the students can do to gain back that difference, and to give themselves that edge.” Tan Yin Yin Student Initiatives Secretary

Just like any election, the swearing-in ceremony is just the beginning. And for the SMUSA case there is no exception. Many would commend those who step up. And they must have believed something could be done. But in some instances like the SMU difference debate, the jury is still out. For Welfare Secretary Delphine Hu, the school identity is one that is daunting. “I would say that even universities with long histories are still unable to establish this sense of connectivity amongst their students. Probably this is largely due to the structure of universities, where students have no structured timetables to follow and every semester is a different one altogether. Moreover, we are a rather new university to work with, building a strong school culture would take a long way and we can only take one step at a time.

Just like how Rome was not built in a day, the culture in SMU cannot be established in a day,” she says. Along that line is the debate on SMU students losing their difference. Student Initiatives Secretary Yin Yin feels that the onus lies on the individual and not the school. She explains: “I think the question shouldn’t be so much what SMU can do to help the students become different, it’s about what the students can do to gain back that difference, and to give themselves that edge. The reason why SMU students are losing their difference is a lot to do with complacency. We take for granted that by merely being in SMU we have that difference, but that’s not true. We forget that, just as how our seniors fought and strived to give themselves that

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School Events
difference, likewise that’s what we ought to do, and that’s how we will get our difference back.” Couple that with industry rumors that “SMU graduates are all fluff and no stuff ”, Communications Secretary Valmond Teng has this to say: “I think that awareness is the first step to change. While whether or not such rumors are true, the fact that they are around is already detrimental to SMU’s reputation. Since we now know that this is the impression that SMU graduates are getting, actions must be taken to reverse such a mindset, and the only way to do that would be to deliver the goods as well as we say we can. SMU’s curriculum is extensive and substantial enough to lend our degrees enough credence in the world; it is now up to us students to back it up with our actions.” Putting the SMU difference aside, the more pressing issue is to secure a job in these tough times. Delphine suggests that a pro-active approach may help. One has to be more proactive in securing a future and not to take for granted that a job will always be there waiting for us to accept it. That has to be earned. Another is to rely on networking opportunities rather than blame the school. Because there is only so much the school can do. Yin Yin says: “I honestly don’t think it is their responsibility (the school). It is our jobs and our future that we need to fight for. It’s wonderful that the school is doing all they can to help us, but the ball is entirely in our court. We’re not here to be spoon-fed. The sad thing is that, even with all the help they are extending (such as the network sessions and the talks) a lot of students don’t even take the initiative to attend them.” Still, there are other issues such as space constraints that tug the heartstrings of the individuals of SMUSA. “We are trying hard to find ways to maximize the utility of the resources that we currently have. However, the fact still remains that we have limited resources to work with. The councils in the other two local universities, surprisingly, also face this problem.” “As much as we would like to provide more space for students, there is no one direct solution to this school CBds to ensure that SMU’s quality of education remains unrivalled.”

“Many a times we may have concentrated a little more on the “support” aspects of their education, ...We will definitely have to seek assistance from the various school CBds to ensure that SMU’s quality of education remains unrivalled.” Daren Li Zhao Xian Vice-President

But the undenied strain that runs through the thoughts of the 9th SMUSA ExCo seems to build on the phrase “ask not what SMUSA can do for you but do what you can for yourself ”. Valmond says that SMU students should “Seize the Day” no matter how cliché it sounds. “It challenges everyone to live everyday fully and without regrets, and I hope that SMU students will cherish their time spent here, striving together for our common goals and dreams,” he adds. As for the President herself, Rachel Kok wants students to “make full use of their SMU experience”. “I personally feel strongly about this, because through many experiences, it has indeed dawned upon me in a very personal way that life is really what you make out of it. Therefore, to our fellow students, if you see an aspect of student life that you think can/should be changed, do take a proactive step to do something about it, and SMUSA is always here to help. Studying is important, but it’s also important never to forget to take a rest, stop and smell the roses around you, because while you’re busy burying your head in the books all day long, you’ll never know what you are missing out on,” she quips. The purpose and what SMUSA hopes to achieve will keep its members going. We just hope that those are in line with ours.

problem. We cannot just add an extension to our building and that’s it – the space is created. It’s not that easy, and I hope that students will understand that we’re trying our very best at our end.” “Sometimes people think that the easiest way to solving this problem is to reduce to the intake, however they do not see that if we do not increase the intake, we cannot expand, and if we cannot expand, we will still be stuck with not enough spaces. We need the finance, and the only way of not increasing fees is to increase intake, or increase loan of spaces out to external vendors. Either way, we’ll still be stuck with the issue of a lack of space. Sometimes the seemingly most direct solution to a problem may not be so direct after all. There are always two sides to the coin, and we must always try to balance the pros and the cons to every issue that we face, work it out one step at a time,” explains Delphine. Big issues like space aside, SMUSA can and strives to create a better quality of education for students. Daren Li, SMUSA Vice President, acknowledges this: “Part of our duty is to oversee a student’s overall well-being, and that includes their education. Many a times we may have concentrated a little more on the “support” aspects of their education, for example more study space, more facilities with LCD screens for presentation rehearsals. We will definitely have to seek assistance from the various

Catch the full interview on our newsblog @ http://theblueandgold.

The Blue and Gold • Issue 4 • Page 11

Higher Learning
Interview with Edmund’s
A interview session with our very own entrepreneur
TRUONG THI NGOC ANH Can you shortly introduce yourself and Divine?  I’m entered SMU in 2001 and graduated in 2005 and went into the baking business directly. Edmund’s is my choice to be different from my counter parts in their career path. What is the mission and vision of Divine? The vision and mission is to be able to provide innovative and simple treats for everyone. We could all use a little sweetener in our everyday life… What  makes  Divine  different  from  other bakery shops? The difference is in our ever improving and changing menu. Each semester, we take feedback to bring in things that students want to eat and we’ll also remove those that they didn’t like. This variety rather than (the element of ) being predictable. The cakes that you are selling have been produced since you first started your business. Could you tell us how did you learn to bake? Much of the learning was self taught and (through the) exchange with friends who were into baking as well. Books can definitely teach you a lot about baking but nothing beats the hands-on experience and the burning of tons of cakes in the process. What  does  Divine  need  to  improve  to  sustain its business? Being in a tertiary institute, there are long periods of holidays so there is a need to expand and diversify. We expand to achieve economies of scale and diversify into catering for events. Our cakes

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Higher Learning
and pastries are taken one step further to allow for better and bigger market exposure. You  are  now  both  a  bakery  owner  and  a  financial  service  consultant.  Why  do  you choose to manage both instead of focusing on only one? I would say that I variety in life too. Being situated at the café or related business would just make it dull for me. The last thing I want is to lose myself in the routine in everyday life. And since I have pockets of free time because the café is semi-auto pilot, why not make my time more useful? There can be lots of synergy between the two jobs. How do you deal with challenges in managing both businesses? Just through planning the week well ahead so you know what’s coming. Time management is the key for handling challenges. I think it is also important to keep a cool mind when facing the stress from work. What do you do to keep a work-life balance? A heavy week can be dreadful but I would make a point to take the weekends off and plan two long holidays in a year to get a way from the hectic life here. Having said that, I think I still don’t spend enough time on the business because I can be quite laid back at times. This can be quite contradictory at times but that is the joy of running your own business, because you get to decide what you want to do and when to do it. What is your advice for SMU students who want to run their own business after graduation? Setting up your own business isn’t as simple as it seems. A lot of blood and sweat goes behind the scenes that people normally don’t see. But the fruits of labour, when harvested, are definitely worth it. All the best and pursue your dreams. Like I was told once, it is not that things are difficult which makes us fear to try but it is the fear of trying that makes it difficult.

The Blue and Gold • Issue 4 • Page 13

Bringing it all together

Philip Seah, Chief Executive Officer, Prudential Assurance Company Singapore Pte Ltd., shares on his family-centered corporate culture

1) Hi Phil, could you introduce yourself to our readers? Hello. I am Philip Seah. As the Chief Executive Officer of Prudential Singapore, it is my overall responsibility to ensure that the trust people have placed in us - as customers, shareholders, staff, agency force and business partners, continues to be well-placed and protected. Today, Prudential Singapore has over half a million policy holders, over 3,500 financial consultants, three bancassurance partners and approximately 500 employees. In addition, we also have a network of hundreds of business partners 2) What is your vision for your company? What are the core values of Prudential? Prudential Singapore has been the market leader in the life insurance industry for three consecutive years. The vision for Prudential Singapore is to be Asia’s Number One in providing financial solutions. We aim to be the most successful life insurance company - in sales, but as importantly, to be the life insurance company of choice in the hearts and minds of our customers; to be the employer of choice and continue to attract and retain the best talent, and in creating shareholder value. 3) How important do you think cohesion within the organisation is to Prudential? At Prudential, we have a unique culture that is embodied in the “Mind and Spirit of Prudential”. We are Results-focused in everything we do and are proud of being number one in new sales for 4 consecutive years . Secondly,We work and think as a Family, rallying around to support each other – in work, celebration or crisis . Thirdly, we are Passionate in every aspect of work and play. We believe that “everything that is worth doing, is worth doing well”. The culture of a company is crucial and the true

mettle of our people shows especially in times of crisis. As early as April last year, we felt the pressure on the business, first with changes in regulations that affected a significant part of the business, then the financial meltdown which started in September. As a company, we rallied strongly and as our results have shown, we have come through 2008 very well, considering the state of the economy. 4) What are the company’s policies to encourage this set of values? It starts with the management. Within the leadership team in the company, we work consciously to build trust amongst the team – we have open and healthy debates on issues while remaining committed to group decisions and we hold each other accountable for actions and results. We cascade the same set of mindset, attitudes and behaviours throughout the organisation and use both formal and informal platforms to continually over-communicate the same message down the line. We have, for example, numerous occasions in the year when the whole company gets together – at Employee, Executives and Agency Leaders Forums, at the two key agency force events – Flying Start and Final Sprint, and with the office employees, at Steering Prudential Ahead. The last event for employees is a companywide forum held twice a year. At these different platforms, we reiterate the same message and “One Force, One Prudential” has been our rallying cheer for many years. 5) Could you elaborate more about Steering Prudential Ahead(SPA)? Steering Prudential Ahead or SPA are times when we share the company’s key initiatives with our staff. These sessions are held at the beginning and in the third quarter of the year. They are important platforms to ensure clarity on the company’s goals as we provide the direction on where we are heading and what we are focusing on in the months ahead. The beginning of the year is the right time to share our targets and KPIs for the year, as well as the

“We work and think as a Family, rallying around to support each other – in work, celebration or crisis . ..we are Passionate in every aspect of work and play. We believe that “everything that is worth doing, is worth doing well”. “

various initiatives that we will be embarking on, be it product launches, customer initiatives or agency strategies. The second meeting is to take stock of the situation – where we are in terms of meeting our targets and the initiatives and “sprint” for the last quarter of the year to achieve our targets. 6) What are some of the events that the company organises to reinforce these values? We conduct employee engagement programs and employee communication sessions - SPA being one of them - on a regular basis. As mentioned earlier, these sessions are business-related and resultsoriented.

8) How do you compensate and reward your employees while not making it over-competitive? Everyone is an individual while being part of a larger team. As a global company, we have clear policies where remuneration and benefits are concerned. Everyone has KPIs that they work towards and some of these KPIs would include the success of how well a team performs. As such this encourages individuals to support one another and others in the teams they work with. Personal interest aside, the family spirit in Prudential is very strong and everyone is encouraged to help one another. It’s not something that you can institute with monetary rewards – it is a value that each person has to embrace to make it work. Naturally, we are very careful in our selection of candidates who join the company; and will not compromise in selecting people who will embrace our results focused family culture and respect teamwork. 9) Does the company carry a ethical code of conduct? And how are these enforced in the company? Yes we certainly have an ethical code of conduct. This is imparted during Orientation program with new employees, and a refresher is conducted with existing employees every year. 10) Could you share some of your work experience in the field to our readers? I have been in this company for over 30 years and my interest and passion for the business has not waned; I continue to enjoy the challenges the industry and the job pose. I put in approximately 10 – 12 hours a day at work, Mondays to Fridays. Given the magnitude of the business, I am on call “24 hours” and while I have a capable team of managers, I believe in a hands-on approach and when duty calls, I will attend to matters at hand personally. Having said this, I do observe that weekends are my family time. My wife Christine and I have four children; my daughter is working, two of my sons have just finished NS and my youngest son is fourteen and schooling. My “Happy Hour” is when I return home after work and have dinner at home with my family. It relaxes and re-energises me. My weekend with Christine and my family is very important in balancing my life. I am also very fortunate that the industry has numerous incentive programs with opportunities to travel and my family travels with me whenever possible!

About Prudential Assurance Company Singapore (Pte) Ltd Prudential Singapore is a top life insurance company in Singapore and is a wholly owned subsidiary of UKbased Prudential plc. As a market leader in investment-linked plans, Prudential Singapore Prudential Singapore has over S$5.2 billion funds under management as at 31 December 2008. With almost 80 years of history in Singapore, the company services half a million policy holders with over a million policies with a team of approximate 3,500 financial consultants and more than 500 employees. Prudential Singapore is the first life insurer in Singapore named Asia’s Life Insurance Company of the Year in 2000. Most recently, Prudential won the Gold Award in Reader’s Digest Trusted Brands 2008.

“We aim to be the most successful life insurance company - in sales, but as importantly, to be the life insurance company of choice in the hearts and minds of our customers; to be the employer of choice and continue to attract and retain the best talent, and in creating shareholder value.”
On the “Family” front, we also ensure that there are enough opportunities for our staff to ‘let their hair down’. Our social calendar includes the annual dinner and dance which is a highlight of the year and staff put up song and dance items. The Heads of Department also put up an item by themselves. As keen proponents of healthy living, (especially important given the industry we are in,) we have several sports interests groups, where staff participate in marathons, and other sporting activities which they are passionate about. We also have a unique practice – Birthday Leave, where our staff is given a day off on their special day. 7) How much flexibility does the company allow staff to achieve their desired work-life balance? We prefer to term it work-life balancing…. It’s more about balancing the demands of work and family life. We all have family and personal commitments and we encourage our staff not to neglect these. On the other hand, we also stress that in years such as the present, the company may need you to put in more work, and we ask for the family to be understanding and supportive. As part of this ‘balance’, we also allow flexi time , for those who may need to start/end their work day later on a regular basis for pertinent reasons.

It is one thing to learn about China from textbooks. It is another thing to learn about China from living here. A running column on life in Shanghai.
ESTHER YEO Shanghai, Land of Dreams. The first thing I heard when I walked onto the streets of Shanghai was a loud gargling sound followed by a “PUI!” I sucked in a deep breath and walked on, not wanting to look at the source of the offending noise and smiled tensely. Oh yes, welcome to China. For all its shortcomings, smells, and offensive sounds, there is a certain energy in Shanghai. Wandering around the streets in Nanjing lu, it is difficult to pinpoint exactly what the energy is, but I soon found out my answer when I went for my foot massage. The masseur was a young man who hailed from Shanxi. He was very polite, and a little quiet, but started to talk more when he found out I was from Singapore. He started to ask animated questions about the little country I had ‘escaped’ from and grew even more excited. “Singapore! Ah, I want to go there someday.” “It’s not very interesting. Smaller than Shanghai.” “But it’s a good place to earn money.” “Yeah, maybe…” “Do you think I can find a partner there?” When he left the room, I finally realised an aspect of the energy present in Shanghai. For the many migrants from the countryside and rural areas of China, Shanghai was a land of opportunity to improve their lives and also a stepping stone to even better places in future- The Land of Dreams. Shanghai 101 As mentioned earlier, Shanghai is home to many migrant workers from the rural areas- a melting pot of China. However, even though everyone is Chinese or 龙的传人 (descendents from the Seems like Chinese are not entirely equal among themselves. Tackling Shanghai, Singapore style. In the one week I have been here on Shanghai soil, there have been a lot of things to look at, if you are ready to keep your eyes wide open. Little niche areas which serve as excellent shopping spots, coffee stops , eating joints are littered throughout the entire city, ready to be explored by the adventurous. It would do no justice to hang out at the popular areas- there is just so much more to Shanghai. Of course the city comes with its rough edges. Do not be perturbed by the smells of the sewers nearby in the underground train stations, or the pushing or shoving during peak periods in the MRTs. You may curse and swear at the guy who runs forward to snatch your cab or repulsed by the common sight of spitting everywhere. Rather, make use of the Singaporean spirit of kiasuism and tackle Shanghai the Singapore way. Shove your way through the crowd with a very “Please  walk  on  the  left  and  stand  on  loud ‘让开!’ , and stand at the entrance of the the right, ride the escaltor in a civilized  glass door, even though the sign says to give way manner” to alighting passengers. Keep running ahead of the guy who runs ahead of you and see who tires out first. Chances are, he will and you get first dibs at dragon as Chinese like to call themselves), it seems the cab. Or you could always shove him aside when not everyone think this way. he reaches the cab and jump inside. We took a cab once and the driver started talking to us, commending us on our fluent Mandarin (well, we sounded much better than the American students on exchange) and asking where we were from. Without any prompting, he proudly told us he was Shanghainese, and stuck his chin up as he said that. The guys snickered as they recounted how it was easy to tell which girls were Shanghainese- the ones who held their heads up high with noses in the air. Sounds strangely familiar, is it not? Whatever it is, the first impressions of Shanghai have left me with wanting more. I can hardly wait.

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All the World’s a Stage
ESTHER YEO William Shakespeare wrote, “All the world’s a stage, and all the men and women merely players;” in ‘As You Like It’. One of the most widely quoted phrase seems too apt, for the current global financial and economic climate. In just two years since the subprime crisis started, the key players in the economic global stage have changed- Some have been removed, some have stayed but with diminished roles, some with larger bits. Euro. Japan is trying hard to fight against the black hole of deflation which sank the country almost a decade ago. And suddenly, it seemed as though the curtains were brought down on the key players. The Second Act- Sovereign Wealth Funds, China and Middle East When banks started announcing their troubled financials, sovereign wealth funds went shopping. These funds included Singapore’s very own Temasek Holdings and GIC, the Chinese’s China Investment Corp (CIC), the Middle East’s Abu Dhabi Investment Authority went around bailing out troubled banks which included UBS, Merrill Lynch and the like. Suddenly, newspapers were flooded with commentaries on the safety of allowing such funds which were flushed with country reserves to buy significant stakes in banks, particularly the US ones. Many argued that such funds should be regulated as countries controlling these funds could leverage on such buy-outs to extract favours from US. Some argued for these funds by criticizing the lax controls on the US financial industry, which led to such drastic actions, and ultimately saying that beggars could not be choosers. More importantly, the troubling question was whether China and the Middle East were using such funds to further their political interests abroad. Already, the influence of emerging powerhouses of China and the Middle East had been pervasive, with China growing to be the world’s factory and the Middle East controlling much of the world’s oil. Many wondered if such a situation would threaten the US’s position both economically and politically. The flurry of activities soon died down however, when the side effects of the crisis hit close to home. The Chinese government announced a huge trillion Yuan stimulus package to save the economy which was hit hard by declining US consumer demand. Singapore had to dip into its reserves to fund a billion dollar stimulus package aimed at helping Singaporeans and companies tide through the difficult times. The Middle East floundered to rescue Dubai which was on the brink of a national debt crisis and had to cope with a sudden slump in demand of oil as recession started to hit energy-

Obama deserves his solo act, for the very fact that he defied national convention to be the first African-American US President and taking over an economy that was in shambles. 
hungry consumers who suddenly woke up to the idea that conservation of oil helped the wallet a lot. And just as suddenly as the SWFs came on stage, they just as quickly exited the stage. The Third Act- Barack Obama Obama deserves his solo act, for the very fact that he defied national convention to be the first African-American US President and taking over an economy that was in shambles. Hopes are high for this man, who is being watched closely by the world. His act is not just about himself but also about bringing together on stage with him the key players of the global economic stage. First, he has to prevent a greek tragedy from happening, by restoring confidence in the US. Second, he has to choose carefully the players to work with and manage the delicate strings of each relationship. Most notably, he will have to manage China carefully, the biggest buyer of US debt and one of the growing economic forces. It will be an uneasy dance on stage with China, together with longtime partners Europe and Japan, but the show has to go on. Final Act The financial crisis has proven that no country is an unshakeable economic powerhouse, and that truly, every country is just but a player. Just as easy it is to be thrust into the limelight, it is just as easy to fall from grace. Who is left on the stage is as good as anybody’s guess now.

“Already, the influence of emerging powerhouses of China and the Middle East had been pervasive, with China growing to be the

world’s factory and the Middle East controlling much of the world’s oil. 

Many wondered if such a situation would threaten the US’s position both economically and politically.”

The First Act - Established Players The key players are the often commonly cited United States, United Kingdom, Europe and Japan. These countries were viewed as the main forces driving the global economy, with changes in their domestic economy sending global markets in a frenzy. Things changed drastically in 2008. The announcement of the collapse of Lehman Brothers drove home the reality of the subprime crisis. Here was a crisis that threatened to destroy the US economy singlehandedly with the numerous side effects it brought. Europe saw Iceland declaring itself bankrupt with the threat of many Eastern countries following suit. UK saw its pound fall to such a level that it is almost on par with the

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Flashpoint: Gaza Strip
TALISA KAUR DHALIWAL No two countries can better epitomize the concept of ‘arch enemy’ except Israel and Palestine. History has witnessed how sworn enemies wage countless of bloody battles against each other. However, time manages to somehow heal these deep gashes and wounds by allowing reconciliation to take place. India and Pakistan, though still not the best of friends today, have demonstrated this. So have China and Japan, Cambodia and Thailand, North and South Korean, and America and Russia. Somehow, it fails miserably in the ‘Holy land’. The three-week war in 2008 waged by Israel in the Gaza strip is a blatant indicator of the eminent wrath still burning in the hearts of both Hamas and Israel. It confirms once more of the want of each to eradicate the other. History of violence The recent war in Gaza did not grip anyone by surprise. After all Israel and Palestine has shared decades of long and bitter animosity marked by wars such as the 1947 War of Independence, the Six day war in 1967 and the Yom Kippur war in 1973. The war in December 2008 was merely an addition to the list, which the UN and America have tried quite unsuccessfully to shorten. Background to the 2008/2009 conflict The Gaza conflict or Massacre, as it is known in the Arab world, was sparked when Israel launched a military campaign, codenamed ‘Operation Cast Lead’, in response to the rockets which Hamas had fired into Israeli soil. Branded as a terrorist organization, Hamas assumed political power in Gaza after emerging victorious in the 2006 Palestinian legislative elections. Following this, in July 2007, Israel blockaded all routes to Gaza. As Egypt sensed a heightening of conflict, they took on the role of mediator and brokered a ceasefire which included a six-month ‘Tahdia’ (Arabic word) or ‘lull’ between Hamas and Israel. However, neither of the sides respected the terms of the ceasefire and what ensued was a titfor-tat game straining the relation further. When the ceasefire expired on the December 19 last year, Hamas chose not to renew it as it blamed Israel for not opening the border. Soon after, rockets and


The Gaza conflict or Massacre, as it is known in the Arab world, was sparked when Israel launched a military campaign, codenamed ‘Operation Cast Lead’, in response to the rockets which Hamas had fired into Israeli soil.

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Human Rights Council of targeting Palestinian civilians as well. Israel has been and will continue to be held responsible for a long line of things caused by its attack on Gaza. However, the international community should consider if their harsh stance towards Israel is entirely justified. When the Rwanda crisis broke out, the Hutus went around massacring innocent Tutsis based on a flimsy justification of ethnic differences. Israel however, went into Gaza with a proper and strong justification. Their primary intention was to eradicate only Hamas as the latter was threatening Israel by its rocket launches. It is no wonder that Israel won the strong support from the Bush administration as well. If civilians were killed in the process, it was something which could be avoided after all Hamas had put their very own people’s lives in jeopardy by hiding in civilian populated areas. The sad and bitter truth of war is that death and destruction always occurs no matter how hard it is prevented. Perhaps, instead of blaming Israel entirely for being merciless, the international community should understand this one fact of war and understand the position which Hamas had put Israel into when they used their very own Palestinians as shields. BBC reports suggest that it will take around three to five years for Gaza to be rebuilt. However bearing in mind the fragile and highly volatile relationship Israel shares with its Palestinian neighbor, no final conclusion can be reached on the fate of Gaza. For peace to flourish in the Israel and Palestine, war should be prevented at all costs. The war fought in Gaza brought nothing short of misery and turmoil. Judging from the geographical proximity of Israel and Gaza, both Israel and Hamas should accept that residing in peace is the best option as no one can escape the other. Countries like America and Egypt as well as organizations like the UN are ready to broker peace talks between the two. All it needs is for the enemies to cast their differences aside, discard the long-term faith they had in war and choose peace.

Israel and Palestine has shared decades of long and bitter animosity  marked  by  wars  such  as  the  1947  War  of  Independence,  the  Six  day  war  in  1967  and  the  Yom  Kippur war in 1973. The war in December 2008 was merely an addition to the list, which the UN and America have tried quite unsuccessfully to shorten.
mortars were launched into Israel and within a few days Israeli prime minister declared war on Hamas. The blame game One of the main aims of the Israelis was to wipe out Hamas entirely from Gaza. However, in the midst of this, many innocent Palestinian civilians were killed in the attack and the humanitarian crisis in Gaza is dire. This is the central debate surrounding the Israeli offensive today. In fact, it was in the heat of this debate where Turkish Prime Minister Edrogan walked out of the Doha round of talks early this year in 2009. Most of the world would be quick to have Israel shoulder the blame for the staggering death toll and destruction caused in Gaza. However, as the saying goes, “It takes two hands to clap”. Therefore Israel alone is not alone guilty of this humanitarian crisis. Hamas should not escape scot free from this blame game. A responsible government? Of the several duties a government has to fulfill in times of war, protection of its civilians ranks as paramount. It is the foremost duty of the government to ensure the safety of its people and not put them in the line of fire like what Hamas did. Besides Israel’s claim that Hamas confuses its combatants with civilians, additional proof has surfaced on BBC of how Hamas fired rockets from within populated civilian areas. Hamas was found to be hiding in hospitals and mosques and cells were noticed to be firing from neighborhoods in Gaza City, Jabalya, Khan Younis and Rafah. This flagrantly violates international laws. Amnesty International for instance accused Palestinian combatants of using Palestinian civilians as human shield. Which government, for the sake of their own safety, puts their own people in the line of fire during war? Only a very irresponsible government would do that. It appears probable that Hamas prioritizes killing the Israelis over protecting their own people. Recently UN aid agencies had to halt supplies as Hamas had seized the aid deliveries at gunpoint from a distribution centre in Gaza. Although sources have no definite answer as to how Hamas had used the supplies they looted, it is clear that Hamas acted very irresponsibly in this case too. The calculated risk they took of raiding the deliveries caused Palestinian civilians their source of sustenance for a short period. Any thoughtless action of a government will always cause harm to its civilians. Thus, the responsibility of the death of 1,314 Palestinians should be borne by Hamas as well. A fact of war and Israel’s position Israel’s popularity has plummeted in the international scene since the conflict began. Besides having to bear the brunt of the blame for the 1,314 dead and 5,300 wounded, BBC reported how the Israeli operation left “two-thirds of Gaza’s 1.5 million residents without power, a third without running water and medical facilities overwhelmed and lacking basic supplies”. Amnesty International blamed Israel’s military of breaching the 1980 Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons when it used white phosphorus in the conflict. In fact Israel has been accused by the United Nations

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Fueling Your Run

...eating the right foods at the right time will aid in fuelling your workouts and will restore your body back to the optimum level after that strenuous run.

JOYCE KOOR Why do you eat what you eat? Other than the rumbling sensation in your tummy, feelings of boredom that never fail to ‘miraculously’ arise when you flip open your BGS textbook or for a very simple fact that the Old Chang Kee curry puff just smells so good, we eat to answer the psychological and physical calls of our body. However, how much do you know about what’s going in for your body? A basic reason often overlooked is that food gives us the energy needed for us to perform at our peak. This is especially so for runners. Whether you are an amateur runner who aims to complete a five kilometer race without stopping or an elite runner who pounds the ground more than four times a week, eating the right foods at the right time will aid in fuelling your workouts and will restore your body back to the optimum level after that strenuous run. There is no fixed runner’s diet. Our mothers and health-education lessons in primary school are right; they have often said this phrase tirelessly, “Just a healthy diet that is high in carbohydrates, low in fat and sufficient in protein!” A friend recently said to me that he had the unfortunate experience of running with an uncomfortable tummy, no thanks to his food choice made during lunch; a huge bowl of chicken rice, paired with a copious amount of ‘shiok’ garlicchilli sauce. Sure, there are carbohydrates in the rice, but had he chosen whole grain foods like oats, brown rice or whole-wheat pasta over the white processed goods,

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and a dish with less saturated fat, he would not have felt the urge to run to the toilet. Remember, not all fats are bad. Fat provides flavour and energy, but just remember to have fatty foods like red meat, full-cream milk and cheese in moderation. You would want to pick unsaturated fats, such as those in avocados, olive oil, salmon with its omega-3 benefits and a pat of peanut butter. These fats actually reduce your blood cholesterol. And contrary to belief, peanut butter is actually great food for runners. The protein and fibre in peanut butter, if paired with multi-grain bread, can keep you satisfied without weighing you down. Just resist the temptation reach for that Subway peanut butter cookie. Another great form of protein is eggs and low-fat yogurt. For the former, the amino acids will help with muscle repair and recovery. Whether you like them boiled, scrambled, poached or fried, eggs are an easy way to add protein to your diet. Low-fat yogurt offers calcium, which is beneficial for bone and teeth health. Frequent runners who are also at a higher risk of stress fractures if they are not careful, and having a healthy intake of calcium is crucial for runners to prevent bone density loss. In addition, do remember to throw in your fruits and vegetables too. Those are packed with anti-oxidants, vitamins and minerals, which are vital in preventing cardiovascular diseases. Some runners’ favorite include bananas and sweet potatoes to fuel up before a run. There is a host of information available on the web and from books that provide creative ways to include more greens and color to your plate. Before you lace up your shoes for a run, it is important to note that you feel neither stuffed nor starved. Having a full meal within two hours before a run will lead to cramping, while running on an empty stomach usually cause feelings of giddiness. Snack on something that is high in carbohydrates and low in fat, fibre and protein. Some examples of food for a run that is going to last more than half an hour include a bowl of cereal with a cup of milk, a cup of yogurt with fruit or a handful of crackers with peanut butter. Avoid rich or very fatty foods as they may cause digestion problems. It is also advisable to stay away from gas-forming foods

New Section: CCA Pages

How your club can contribute! For long distance runners who cover a mileage of more than 10km each time, the two days before your run should be high-carb days.
· It’s got to be informative - keep recruitment/event publicity articles to a bare minimum. · Here’s an easy way to think about the article - If you had a magazine, what would you write in it? · Do provide photographs and your CCA logos in your article. · The word limit is 1000 words.
like beans and cabbages a day before you embark on a long run. After your workout, do replenish energy by consuming carbohydrates and some protein as a post-run snack. Research have shown that the muscles are most receptive to restoring glycogen within the first 30 minutes after exercise and heals the damage done to your skeletal muscles. For long distance runners who cover a mileage of more than 10km each time, the two days before your run should be high-carb days. In order to prevent unnecessary weight gain, remember not to increase your total calories, but just the percentage of carbohydrates in your diet. It does not give you a license to indulge in three huge plates of pasta for in one sitting! Remember to drink plenty of water and nonalcoholic fluids as well as getting enough rest before your run. Do use the information here as a set of general guidelines. Eating is one of the sublime pleasures in life, so don’t get too caught up with the specifics until you no longer taste your food and find yourself grazing like a rabbit. Last of all, for a refreshed mind and a healthy body, do take a couple of hours a week to engage in a short run with some friends. It would be a great time of distressing and catching up with one another (perhaps in more ways than one)!

Deadline 1: Book your slot along with a line or two stating what you are covering with us by May 2009 Deadline 2: Send in your article, pictures ,and logos by June 2009 Design: It is fine if you guys don’t have any designers. Just send the word document and the pictures each separately (please don’t paste the pictures into the word document, it takes away a lot of details.) If you want to do your own design, do let us know and preview in advance, there are some restrictions on fonts, size and resolution. This is open to any student bodies, and not only to clubs as the name seems to imply. Itching to write? Send us your article to today!

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Triathlon 101
SMU Aquathlon (swim + run) was first conceived around a small table cluttered with cups from SMU’s favorite (or otherwise) tea shop in 2007. The general idea was to provide a home for multi-sport athletes in SMU where everyone could share and learn from follow club members, and to introduce to the school population this seemingly insane sport that we affectionately refer to as a lifestyle sport. Why do we call it a lifestyle sport? The reason is simple. This sport does not discriminate anyone and is open to all who wishes to. Age, weight, height, gender and even disability are definitely not an issue when it comes to doing a biathlon or triathlon. Racing in the IVP just days after forming the club, the SMURTS nonetheless managed to come in 2nd, beating traditional powerhouses NTU and TP. It was a sweet, sweet ending to the hectic journey that the few of us had embarked upon. The SMURTS now look forward to retaining or even improving on their IVP standing this year in less than a month’s time. Will we make it? We can’t be too sure, but definitely every SMURT at the start line of this year’s IVP will be enduring and giving his/her all every step of the way. And that is the most basic essence of a lifestyle sport: sheer grit. A triathlon consists of three disciplines, swim, cycling and running over various distances. Distances Sprint Full Ironman Swim 750m Cycle 20km Run 5km Olympic Ironman 70.3 1.5km 40km 10km 1.9km 90km 21km 3.8km 180km 42km

I believe some of you reading this article at this point would be shaking your head, thinking “Siao (Crazy) ah! Are they trying to ask for an early death or what?” Well, it is precisely the satisfaction of completing something which many would simply shrug off as undoable that spurs many multi-sport athletes on today. It was also this exact reason that

motivated those few around that table in 2007 to form an official club, rather than just keep it at an informal level. I’m not going to say that starting a club was easy, especially due to the fact that Aquathlon would be stepping into the boundaries of the Sharks and the Run Team. After months of convincing the various parties, the green light was given for our club. SMURTS is an abbreviation for SMU Turtles, amphibious and steady. With the right amount of training and determination, anyone will be able to complete an aquathlon or triathlon. Swim This is the first segment of a triathlon and it is one segment that is different from many other sports. Most of the time, swims are done in the sea, or what we call open water.

Swimming is a sport that is very technique based. Open water swims (yes you are swimming in the sea!) require an additional set of skills such as sighting (popping out of the water to locate the buoy for directions) and drafting (swim behind someone so that you conserve energy). Having a good swim start marks the beginning of a good race and like the famous saying goes “You can’t win a triathlon in the swim, but you can definitely lose it.” Bike After exiting the water, you head to the designated transition area where your bike, running shoes and everything else will be. Usually, triathletes will use either road bikes or triathlon bikes for this segment. There are

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significant differences between the two and don’t be shy to seek opinion and advice on these when you want to get your first bike. You will not be allow to draft (stay close to a cyclist in front of you and save energy) and try to keep left unless overtaking (sounds like Basic Theory Test?). Likewise, there are a lot of cycling techniques that you can pick up as you cycle with a group. Run Being the last discipline left, the finishing line is within grasp! (Well, not literally, but thinking of it like this helps. Trust me.) You will dismount your bike at the line before pushing it back to transition area to park it. That’s when you will get ready for the next leg. A lot of people run. What’s the difference in a

multi-sport race? It has been proven that running after cycling involves a different set of muscles; you feel the most strain here mainly because you have already slogged your guts out in the previous two disciplines Pace yourself out and tell yourself to run (at least jog!) all the way. Finally, you will make it to the finish line and be able to join the ranks of many who have already done so. Remember to smile all the way… Savour the finish. Completing a race is, simply put, sweet. Join our club and enjoy racing today; in the SMU Aquathlon Team, everyone is a winner!

I believe some of you reading this article at this point would be shaking your head, thinking “Siao (Crazy) ah! Are they trying to ask for an early death or what?” Well, it is precisely the satisfaction of completing something which many would simply shrug off as undoable that spurs many multi-sport athletes on today.

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Paradise on Earth
(only Animals allowed)

The animal-lovers on the trip with us described the place as kampong-like, and for many of us, it was the first time that we saw so many animals roaming around freely.

On December 7 last year, People for Animal Welfare (PAW) made its way down to Noah’s Ark, a friendly private animal shelter in Johor Bahru, Malaysia. The animal-lovers on the trip with us described the place as kampong-like, and for many of us, it was the first time that we saw so many animals roaming around freely. Indeed, this is not a usual sight to be found in the concrete jungles of Singapore! Sounds of “awwww... so cute” were commonplace throughout the trip as we joyfully played and

enjoyed the company of the 700 dogs, 400 cats and six horses in the animal sanctuary. And, as I glanced around Noah’s Ark and took in the sights around me, Berlinda Carlisle’s song“Heaven is a place on earth” came to my mind… “Ooh, baby, do you know what that’s worth? Ooh heaven is a place on earth They say in heaven love comes first We’ll make heaven a place on earth Ooh heaven is a place on earth” For the well-fed animals staying here, roaming around on this safe and wide area does indeed

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Raymund’s passion for stray animals inspired the humble beginnings of Noah’s Ark.  It was also this passion that drove him to practice dog grooming to bring in extra funds, while seeing to the day-to-day running of the animal farm at the same time.
make Noah’s Ark seem like heaven on a place on earth. From the three-legged dogs which survived hit-and-run accidents to the race horse that almost got put down due to injuries, these animals have shown us that there is definitely love in this world and the power of a strong will to live. This is all thanks to the wonderful and dedicated team of animal lovers here. Founded by Raymund Wee, Noah’s Ark first started off as an animal shelter in Jalan Kayu, In June 2000, it was moved from Singapore to its current location in Pekan Nanas, Johor Bahru. Raymund’s passion for stray animals inspired the humble beginnings of Noah’s Ark. It was also this passion that drove him to practice dog grooming to bring in extra funds, while seeing to the day-to-day running of the animal farm at the same time. Indeed, Raymund’s noble efforts are admirable, pushing the benchmark for animal welfare activists. Another remarkable achievement was in setting up Noah’s Ark CARES (Companion Animals Rescue & Education). Set up in June 2005, this non-profit organization aims to reduce the strays in Singapore through active sterilization, micro chipping, licensing, and to support the 1,000 animals on the sanctuary. Through this initiative, some of the 13,000 abandoned animals put to sleep each year can find heaven in a place on earth- Noah’s Ark Animal Sanctuary. Inspired, Boon Sun, one of the participants on the trip said this, “This visit has made me want to do more for the animals and so, I am looking forward to PAW’s next CIP trip – where we will be building shelters for Noah’s Ark.” I believe he speaks for many of us. Every initiative, even something as small as a one-dollar donation could go some way into making heaven a place on earth for the many deserving animals out there.

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“Dari Kita Untuk Kita”
Indonesia is endowed with richness in cultural diversity, as every one of the 18,000 islands has its own customs and artistic history. This results in hundreds of different forms of sophisticated traditions with each having their own uniqueness. The country itself is home to around 300 culturally different ethnic groups. Their cultures have been shaped by long interaction over the centuries with Arabic, Chinese, Malay, and European sources. Adding to the complexities, a multitude of religions have blended together, enriching the culture even more. Contemporary Indonesian culture has recently emerged as a synthesis of both modern pop-culture and traditional culture. With the traditional culture still retained, Indonesian culture is evolving without losing the unique Indonesian distinctiveness itself. This cultural mix is expressed in the various Indonesian art-forms, ranging from music to cuisine. Music Indonesia is home to hundreds of forms of music. The assortment itself is very diverse, ranging from kroncong to contemporary rock. One of the most popular forms of Indonesian music is undoubtedly dangdut. First surfaced in the 1970s, it is mostly used to accompany communal dances. Its popularity raises even more when it is widely used in political campaigns. Even though it becomes less popular now, traditional music is one of the mainstream genres of music. Traditional music differs by regions to regions. In Central Java, gamelan is the prevalent traditional music, which is played with an ensemble of tuned percussion instruments. While in West Timor, its traditional music, Sasando, is played using an instrument made from lontar palm. Contemporary music is also diverse as it embraces rock, house, hip hop and other genres. Some contemporary musicians incorporate elements of

these non-traditional genres into traditional music to come out with some new ‘fusion’ genres. Tourism Indonesia is more than just a tropical country with the sandy beaches where the sun shines everyday so tourists can easily get themselves tanned. With a vast archipelago of more than 17,000 islands, 300 different ethnic groups and 250 distinct languages, one can expect a lot of tourist attractions in Indonesia. For the beach-lovers and surfers who are looking for white-sanded beach, they can go to the famous Kuta Beach, Bali. Those who have a desire to explore the underwater utopia with its exotic fishes can take one or two dives at Bunaken. Indonesia is also famous for its great multitude of floras and faunas. Interested tourists can visit the national parks in Indonesia, such as Komodo National Park which hosts the Komodo Dragon, which is the largest living species of lizard. Lastly, with the cultural richness, tourists can visit one of the many cultural sites in Indonesia. Some of the most popular sites are Yogyakarta, the centre

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them. For example, Indonesian Chinese dishes such as buns and noodles are adapted to the Indonesian culture itself and Western cuisine can be served with rice instead of fries. Indonesia is also abundant with tropical fruits. Some fruits that are indigenous to Indonesia are mangosteen and rambutan. One typical dish made from these tropical fruits is rujak, which is an assortment of sliced fruits with sweet and spicy-hot rujak dressing. A slice of Indonesia at SMU With more than 150 active members (and still growing!), SMU Komunitas Indonesia (SMUKI) is the closest student cultural club you’ll every get to Indonesia in SMU. The club prides itself in being one of the active contributors to the vibrant student life in SMU. Ever since its inception, SMUKI has embarked on a journey to raise the awareness of the Indonesian culture through showcases of our diverse traditional dances, music and costumes. We have been invited to participate in various events within or outside SMU. SMUKI also has its own annual music production, better known as GAYA (Gelar Budaya or Cultural Exhibition). Apart from promoting the Indonesian culture, SMUKI also thrives to foster relationship between Singapore and Indonesia. As such, the club extends its membership to both Indonesians and non-Indonesians alike. Moreover, the club annually holds Indonesian language crash courses for SMU students, an introductory course to Bahasa Indonesia. SMUKI has also been entrusted by SMU Undergraduate Admission Office to organize SMU Campus Talk, an effort by SMU in attracting more Indonesian students to come to SMU. For the club’s efforts and contribution to university life in academic year 2007/2008, SMUKI was awarded the “Most Outstanding CCA” award presented to us by SMU Students’ Association. What are you waiting for? Plan your next vacation destination now to indonesia. Or just soak in the Indonesian culture by joing SMUKI.

of of classical Javanese fine art and culture, and Toraja, where traditional funeral rituals can still be observed. Cuisine Extraordinarily unique. With its richness in diversity, unique ingredients, and significant influences from Chinese, Indian and Western culture, Indonesian cuisine is truly a mélange of cuisine that would probably amaze every food gourmets. Most popular of these cuisines is undoubtedly sate. Sate is a dish consisting of chunks or slices of grilled dice-sized meat on wooden skewers, served with various spicy seasoning. Also popular in Singapore and Malaysia, it originated in Java, Madura, and Sumatra with the influence from Arabian kebab. Tempe is another popular example of Indonesian cuisine. It is made by naturally fermenting the

soybeans. Compared to its counterpart tofu, tempe has a higher content of nutrients. Indonesians usually cook tempe by frying it first before eating it or using it as an ingredient for other dishes. Padang restaurants can be found in many parts of Indonesia. In these restaurants, they serve the cuisine of the Minangkabau people, which is served in many small dishes. Diners can select which dishes they want to eat and they will be charged accordingly. Most of the dishes served in Padang restaurants are spicy, such as rendang. Most Indonesian dishes are usually eaten with sambal to add spicy flavors. Some people also add bawang goreng, which is fried small red onions, to some dishes, giving them a unique crispy taste. Non-Indonesian cuisine, such as Chinese, Indian and Western cuisine, has adapted with the Indonesians’ tastes and become popular among

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Social Entreprenuership is a Complex  and Ferocious Animal to Tame
“Social Entrepreneurship is a Complex and Ferocious Animal to Tame” For the past few years, social enterprises have been sprouting like mushrooms around the world. Why are so many people jumping onto this bandwagon? Is it really the next big thing? Starting a social enterprise may sound easy and appealing. However, it is not as simple as it seems. A social enterprise is like a ferocious animal to be tamed, with many complexities with require a high level of mastery. Think about it, setting up a factory hiring the physically disabled to produce clothes - what are the factors that need to be taken into consideration? Firstly, these people are physically disabled, which means that they cannot work for long hours. Secondly, they require special training. Thirdly, it is difficult for these people to master the skills and produce goods of fine quality. All these factors add up to low productivity and higher costs incurred. With strong competitors from China and Vietnam where labour and materials are inexpensive and abundant, it makes it even more difficult for such manufacturing-based social enterprises to break into the market. With the odds against them, social enterprises need to work twice as hard in order to be competitive. Some people believe that customers are willing to pay more for products that supports a social cause. However, should social enterprises market themselves based on that? Should quality and cost be compensated by evoking pity among customers? In reality, many social enterprises fail simply because their products are not comparable with their competitors and they rely too much on customers’ sympathy. Products produced by social enterprises should at least be of similar standard as that of their competitors. Moreover, products should not be marketed based on their cause, but instead based on the value they bring to customers. Having a social cause behind it should not be the mitigating factor

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CCA Pages Products produced by social enterprises should at least be of similar standard as that of their competitors. Moreover, products should not be marketed based on their cause, but instead based on the value they bring to customers
affecting their marketing strategy. Unfortunately, many social enterprises fail to see that. An illustration in our SMU community would be one faced by SMU Initiatives for Social Enterprise (SMU-ISE). SMU-ISE is a club that aims to be the regional leading innovator in the arena of social entrepreneurship and thereby create opportunities, as well as to value add both our ISE members and society. They too face similar problems as mentioned above. One such project is Project Lil’ Mustard Seed (LMS). It is a social enterprise that sells baby clothing produced by poor Nepalese women. These baby clothing are exported for sale in Singapore. SMUISE manages the business and markets the product in the local market. They face problems such as high costs and low productivity as their beneficiary comprises of single mothers who at times have to take care of their children and hence are unable to work. This makes it difficult to compete with other clothing manufacturers who are able to produce clothing at a cheaper price and faster rate. In order to remain competitive, SMU-ISE helped build up the LMS brand by coming up with different range of clothing every 3 months, each with a story behind it. This story illustrates the personality of the girl who wears their clothing and portrays different styles depending on the range of clothing. This is to cater to the changing consumer demands and to keep up with trends. LMS now sells the story of a product to customers, instead of merely marketing it based on pity. Recently, they have diversified the production into laptop sleeves to cater to students and trendy working professionals. SMU-ISE saw this as a new business opportunity and went to Nepal to oversee the production of laptop cases which will be launched in schools soon. It was not easy coming up with solutions to overcome these problems. It is critical to recognize and acknowledge the short comings of a business before proceeding to overcome them. Changes do not just happen overnight, it requires both strategic planning and hard work to enjoy the fruits of the labour. Setting up a social enterprise is really not as simple as it seems and requires more than just hard work. However, at the end of the day, when you receive a smile or a thank you from your beneficiary and realise how you have changed lives with a good business idea, it makes all the effort worthwhile.

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OWEN TAN Two ducks, Drake ( Jeremy Wang) and Ida (brilliantly performed by Ann Lek) worry about their “fifth egg” being bigger than the rest. Their fears are confirmed when the other eggs hatch to ducklings that quack and the duckling from that fifth egg only “honks”. The duckling that “honks” – christened “Ugly” (portrayed by Joshua Jonathan Lim) quickly becomes unpopular among his peers, because he looks, behaves, and quacks “differently”. In the meantime, the Cat (a stellar portrayal of a suit-wearing feline by Aaron Goh) takes interest in Ugly, whom due to his relative size becomes potential to be cat food. Ugly’s disappearance, however, triggers a farm-wide search for Ida’s missing child. Ugly does not realize that he is about to commence on an adventure that will bring him within seconds from being eaten; meeting wild geese, a bullfrog (a special, and hilarious performance by Margaret Chan), and the love of his life; but most importantly, discovering who he really is, and his transformation from Ugly into a swan. That in essence sums up the story of Honk! – The Musical, the closing gala performance for the SMU Arts Festival this year. The musical’s success was played to the tune of two sell-out crowds at Victoria Theatre on January 23 and 24. Adapted from the classic fairytale, The Ugly Duckling, the audience was treated to a heartwarming tale of finding one’s identity – and accepting others’ differences. Great performances There is no doubt that an immensely talented cast was chosen for Honk! – Joshua Jonathan Lim is a

Honkin’ Splendid

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PHOTOS: OSL, EPHRAIM LOY perfect fit for the role of Ugly, while Aaron Goh holds his own as Cat, especially with the wicked Play with Your Foodscene which left the audience in stitches. Credit must also be given to Natalie Balakrishnan, who plays multiple roles in the musical – as Henrietta, a friend of Ida’s; then as Queenie, the pet cat who gets infatuated with Cat; and as Penny, who becomes Ugly’s love interest. Praise must also go to Ann Lek, who wowed the audience with her solo, Every Tear a Mother Cries. ‘Great stage presence’ Audiences mostly had praise for Honk!. Paul, an SMU alumnus who graduated in 2005, said, “I don’t see them as student performers. They had great stage presence.” He thought, however, that more funding might have made the production even better. “Given a bigger budget,” he said, “it will be hard to tell the difference (between a professional musical and a school-produced one).” Some members of the audience, however, felt that the budget was already sufficient. Chen Zhihao, who has experience in theatre CCA StageIt, observed that “quite a significant sum of money” put into the musical from the lightings and props that were used. ‘Very proud’ Sebastian Tan, the critically-acclaimed actor best known for his role in Broadway Beng!, made his directorial debut in impressive fashion, with established actors Chua Enlai and Lim Yu Beng in the audience giving a rousing applause at the finale. Speaking to The Blue and Gold after the musical, director Sebastian Tan said that the performance was “great” and he was “so proud of [the entire cast and production team”. He also hoped to have more opportunities to work with SMU in the future.

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Apostrophe: The Poetry Slam Show
raucous laughs, even engaging in naughty banter with the poet herself. With each bard allowed just one poem for each round, the pool of contenders was swiftlywhittled down from twelve, to six, and then to four. The studio was fraught with tension as the final, fantastic four slammed out poem after poem. Each appeared inimitable, but a winner had to be picked. As the contestants formed a line-up and the audience waited with bated breath, the judges made their final decisions and the scores were tallied. Winner of Apostrophe Finally, with dramatic music pounding theatrically in the background, Bhavya Khanna was announced the winner of the night. Consistently delivering candid poetry on hot topics such as surviving joblessness, SMU and the economics of life, Bhavya stole hearts with his guileless eyes and natural, open demeanor. When interviewed on his style of writing in first person, and about himself, he joked easily that his inspiration was probably bred by a narcissistic nature. This proclamation was however debunked by a quick laugh as he carries on, “No, it’s all just for fun really,” explaining that it was just easiest to write about a topic he knew best. Still, it takes certain talent to bring form to words and more so, to enliven them in performance. As part of the Arts Festival, Apostrophe sought, and found, an incredible band of writers who were able to showcase their genius on a stage. As fellow Apostrophe viewer Kelvyn aptly raved, “Passion can definitely be seen in SMU’s blooming arts culture!” Indeed, this marks a wondrous 2009 for our school of burgeoning young talents.

TERRI-ANNE TEO As part of 2009’s Arts Festival, Literati threw a poetry slam on January 23. This was in joint cooperation with Word Forward, a leading literary community in Singapore. The judges for that night included Word Forward’s Chris Mooney-Singh, SMU’s resident librarian Ruth Pagell, MOE officer Lim Siew Yea and renowned Singaporean writer, poet and playwright Ng Yi-Sheng. A Poetry Slam For the uninformed, a poetry slam is a poetry competition where original works are not just recited, but performed in an interactive manner. This unique characteristic invokes involvement in the crowd, creating a lively and rowdy atmosphere not unlike that of a party scene on a Saturday night. Apostrophe Apostrophe was of no exception. The event kicked off with energetic performances by a group from CHIJ St Nicholas Girls’ School, ‘The Word Must Rock’ from Chris Mooney-Singh, replete with finger-clicking and feet-drumming, and high altitude acts by Ng Yi-Sheng. The presence of a Channel NewsAsia team injected even more hype

as the crowd cheered and posed gamely for the cameras. By the time the competition commenced, the participants and audience were raring to go. Based on the theme of Time, twelve wordsmiths from far and widebattled through three rounds of elimination, judged on a scale of one to ten. The group of contestants consisted of both students and non-students of SMU, including a National Serviceman, a published author and other unique personalities. This diversity was distinct in the medley of poems that spanned across various ethnic backgrounds, sports interests and lifestyles. The crowd was carried to great heights of passion, as love poems filled the room. It mellowed, when joblessness, war and terrorism darkened the mood. Sexy humour did the trick and flipped the switch, as the audience and judges greeted racy poems deliciously torrid with illicit tension, with exuberant fanfare and

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LAMHE (Moment) - ICS Dance Performance

TALISA KAUR DHALIWAL The clamoring and the whistling were getting louder every minute. It was a sign that the crowd was enjoying. ‘Lamhe’ was the title of the dance segment put up by the Indian Cultural Society, on January 19, in conjunction with the Arts Festival which was celebrated so vibrantly in SMU. This performance was a prelude to the Kathakali performance which was staged by the Bhaskar Academy of Fine Arts. Lamhe was a unique blend of the traditional and contemporary Indian dance in a backdrop of a highly popular Hindi song from 1958- Ek Pardesi Mera Dil Legaya (A foreigner stole my heart). Though the theme of the song is that of love, the purpose of the dance was not to portray this perspective. When asked about the significance of the dance, Charu Srivastava, current president of the Indian Cultural Society, commented that “It showcases the evolution of Indian dance over the years”. For this reason, the item was split into the traditional

and contemporary segments to portray the changes in music, movements and costumes after 50 years. The costumes and the music were the major differences between the two segments. The dance opened with a trio of girls clad in the traditional Indian costume called the Lehenga. This was accompanied by the original and traditional version of the song. Transiting to to the second half was a performance by a different trio clad in chic black halter neck tops and sleek black three-quarter pants. The music changed to a remixed version elements of rap and hip-hop elements. These differences made it more identifiable with the generation of today. The audience made up SMU students, working adults as well as young children accompanied by their teachers. The item was well received judging from the audiences’ response. According to Charu, probably the way the two styles differentiated itself and blended together for the finale, impressed them. It is ironic that the dance was choreographed, rehearsed and perfected all within one week. Accolades should be given to Charu who

choreographed and brought us participants together. While dance has always remained one of the main highlights of the Indian cultural scene, the ICS has explored the area of theatre as well. The drama production entitled Karna the eternal warrior has awed the audience with its display of talent in the genre of drama.

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Inaugural three-day film festival in SMU kicks off

SMU Film Fest


“The festival was a collaborative effort where the audience would be able to ask questions and find answers with regard to the direction of the films,” explained Cai Yu.

EPHRAIM LOY Getting the SMU <3 Film Festival started for the first time this year was not only a challenge for the organizing committee. It was also a frightening experience. It was the first time Lam Cai Yu, the main producer, was interacting with the medium of film. Speaking to The Blue and Gold she said: “I felt like a fish out of water and was struggling to learn the ropes,” as she recounted the process. Lucky for Cai Yu, she had obtained valuable advice from former Singapore International Film Festival Director Philip Cheah, who was the adviser for the SMU <3 Film Festival. The inaugural event was born as a result of the organizing committee’s brainstorming efforts on what to include for this year’s SMU Arts Festival. Apart from the screening of short films, it included dialogue sessions on two out of three screening days. These sessions, however, were impromptu

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decisions which were initially contemplated but were only finalized after directors had expressed interest in having them. “Watching a film is passive – you decide if you like it or not. But the objective was to create an interactive platform. The festival was also a collaborative effort where the audience would be able to ask questions and find answers with regard to the direction of the films,” explained Cai Yu. Apart from a dialogue held during the closing where producer Ng Sian Ngoh and filmmaker He Shu Ming shared their thoughts on the film industry in Singapore, there was also a session with one of Singapore’s up-and-coming directors, Boo Junfeng. At the dialogue, the concept of Junfeng’s 16-minute short film Keluar Baris was shared. Shot over three days, it was an autobiography and take on his army experience. Junfeng’s style of film follows strongly after Taiwan’s Hou Hsiao Hsien. It is the element of working with a non-professional cast that he emulates which is evident in Keluar Baris. The film also features second-year business student Daryl Pan who was also present at the dialogue session. On how he scored the role, Daryl said that it was through a teaching stint in which he had met Alfian Sa’at, a friend of Junfeng’s. “It was lucky to be able to work with a good director. Before the film was shot, he had met up with me to add in elements of my own character into the film as well. This was possible as the script was not written and fixed,” explained Daryl. Other than speaking about his films, the director also shared about various ways to obtain funding for films and touched on the topic of film censorship in Singapore. One advice he had for budding filmmakers is to “tell stories you are familiar with”. “I believe one does need to be in touch with himself/ herself to be able to tell a story convincingly. It is especially hard for young filmmakers because there is only so much life experience we can tap into sometimes. So if you want your sincerity to come through in your works, then it would be good to start with ideas and stories that you truly understand,” he said. This year’s inaugural festival also featured Kelvin Tong’s Love Story for the opening, Anna and Anna for the closing night including another two of Junfeng’s films Katong Fugue and Stranger. On why three of his films were chosen for the festival, Cai Yu shared her thoughts on the curatorial process. She said: “It was through submissions and recommendations. One of our members had alerted us to Junfeng’s work and when we looked at the films on his website we felt many had fit in with the overarching theme of this year’s SMU Arts Festival – Re: Present.” The interpretation of the theme was thought out in the representation of relationships such as those of a mother and a son, friends, family tensions as well as relationships with places and religion. Junfeng told The Blue and Gold that it was an honour to be able to participate in the festival. He added: “Many of these works may have travelled to places around the world, but I believe it is always special when they are made accessible in Singapore. I hope the festival has inspired an even greater interest in Singapore films.” Organised by the Office of Student Life (OSL), the three-day festival had a crowd of almost 300 people. This included both working professionals and students from various universities, polytechnics and art schools according to Jeanine Lim, Manager, Arts. The event went well on the whole except for a glitch on the opening night that caused a 15-minute break in one of the films. Explained Jeanine: “The technical problem was caused by the malfunctioning of the DVD player that was used.” The event was described as unfortunate. Cai Yu explained that the team had made several checks to ensure that the equipment to be used for the screening was functioning well. When contacted, OSL said they would improve the event next year by finding better venues and use better equipment. Plans are also underway to have a longer festival held on certain days over two weeks. The organisers also plan to incorporate more short films into the programme, particularly more short films from the various tertiary institutions. A documentarymaking competition targeting tertiary students is in the pipeline. Filmmaker Loo Zihan feels that this would encourage more people to make films. He notes that film festivals are avenues for works to be screened and seen. “An effort to increase activity which encourages people to create and make films is always beneficial,” he added. Daryl, on the other hand, feels that the festival is a good platform to cultivate interest in films although he adds that the quality of films that would be screened and the publicity efforts are also aspects to consider for next year. Final-year economics student Don Tan who was present for two out of three screenings said that it was an eventful experience: “I loved the idea of having a film fest. The dialogue session was impressive and the films were enjoyable.” But he felt that the event lacked a professional touch which could be improved with more effort. And that would be what next year’s organizers could look into.

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