Child Care in Brunei

In one of the deliberation during the 10th LegCo session, an interesting topic on Child Care was raised. I am 100% supportive of establishing child care centres especially to help those with small children. My only concern is on the execution and sustainability of such facility.

Prior to launching such project, it is important that we fully understand and in sync with the problem issue that compelled us to choose to establish child care centres in the first place. From there, it is also necessary to analyse whether the implementation of such a project can be done with ease or otherwise based on current conditions. If existing condition is not conducive, what supplementary/ new change is needed?

Specific questions (examples) that you can ask in evaluating the soundness of this project are as follows:

  1. Problem Statement: What are the problems faced by parents/ guardians with children? How will the child centre solve the problem faced?
  2. Demographics: What is the targeted age of client for the child centre? What is the targeted household income group?
  3. Effectiveness: What are the services to be rendered by the centre? Is it affordable? What is the added value?
  4. Efficiency: How can we ensure that the centres remain in business as long as possible? What are the resources needed?
  5. Administrative Feasibility: What are the existing process to support the establishment/ operation of the child centre? Who are the manpower? competencies? infrastructure or location? Safety? Government interventions to assist?
  6. Political Feasibility: Who are the stakeholders? Who will support this idea? Who will be against it? Who will be neutral (unaffected) by it?
  7. Legal: Is there any legal provisions pertaining to private child care service? protection for the child being cared for?

These questions are samples illustrating a simple approach that is usually used when analysing policies. If such practice is also applied in the case of the child care centres, I am certain that risks can be minimised and the centres will flourish with ease.

Challenges in Keeping the Corporate Website Current

Corporate website is one of the platforms that Public Relations practitioners opt for when socialising relevant and updated information about an organisation and on the services that it provides. In catering to the urgent needs of netizen, it is essential that information displayed on the corporate website is always updated and current. But how easy is it to keep the corporate website updated?

In my experience, it is easier said than done. First, the responsibility to update information on a corporate website does not lie solely with the Public Relations staff. It is a shared responsibility that requires input from relevant personnel within the organisations. Second, access to upload new data or information onto the corporate website is not open to everyone. Only selective people are given access to the website. Third, accessibility of the corporate website from outside the walls of the organisation is not always possible. Reason being, internal server is much preferred as a precaution against any hackers. Hence, updating in a timely manner may take slightly longer with that kind of restriction in place.

These three challenges are not exlusive. There are other variables that can pose a challenge in sustaining a current and updated corporate website. With that said, the three issues highlighted are probably the most common challenges faced by most government organisations locally. The ideal solution to these would be: (1) Every HOD/units/departments assumes full responsibility in updating their respective detail on the corporate website; (2) Every units/ departments are installed with trained I.T. personnel to assist in putting respective departmental updates online; and (3) corporate website needs to be accessible within and outside of the organisation.

To implement the suggested solutions, there need to be a changed mindset on the shared responsibility, re-training or re-allocation of personnel, and assessment on server and network capability. All of these would only mean one thing, more money need to be spent. But the organisation stands to lose even more money if the challenges are nor addressed urgently.

PR and New Media

The advent of New Media technologies has changed the world for good. Gone are the days when we are kept in the dark about important issues that involve the lives of those we know and the world that we live in. At the click of a button, an abundance of information is accessible. Globalisation has really revealed itself through what New Media is capable of providing for those seeking it.

In the public relations field, the potential of the new media is not left unchecked. The only problem is there are still people in this field who failed to fully understand and optimise its potential.

At my own organisation, the new media, particularly the corporate website plays an important role in reaching out to people nation wide and beyond. It’s an open and accessible source for anything and everything about my organisation. And to ensure people get the right information in a timely manner, my team are working tediously and proactively to update the website.

Of course there are few hurdles we have to confront in the process. Providing information is one part of the process. But getting the relevant information is another totally different process and a very challenging on. The usual excuse that we get when requesting the related information, “oh we’ll try to get it to you as soon as we can, we are so busy at the moment”… “the information is classified, we will have to get clearance from the big bosses”.. “isn’t that your job?”…

But whatever the excuse, all of it only lead to one thing… more delays!

The keys to overcoming all these obstacles and excuses are: we have to be persistent and consistent, cover all channels of communication, consult with the highest authority for endorsement and support, and keep on trying.

So if any of you have other ideas on how to optimise the utilisation of new media, do drop me a comment or two.

I Wear a Survival Mask

Are you a different person at work and at home? Why do some people project different personalities when at work and when at home?

I am such a person. At work, I’m more tolerant, mentoring and inclusive (very social). At home I’m impatient, authoritative and exclusive (prefer being alone). So why do I do this you may ask. It’s part of survival.

I believe that not everyone can accept the “real” me. I noticed, even at present, people are easily offended by what I say even when what I say is the truth. It’s true that some people prefer “truth” to be sugar coated, but I am not a pastry master. So when I perceive that the other person may not be able to fully accept what I would have to say, then I would just refrain from saying anything. But I will find some other ways, to convey the message more effectively and hopefully amicably received.

Hence, this is where the survival mask sets in. For different individual, different survival masks will be in place. My survival masks merely entail controlling my outburst, selection of words to say, facial expression, tone of voice, and communication style. When I wear my survival masks, I remind myself of the ultimate mission, which is to ensure deliverables. At the work place, my objective is to ensure all my work is done on time and with quality. Since my work involves dealing with people, imagine how many survival masks I have to wear.

Please do not misunderstand and perceive the survival masks as an excuse to be fake or superficial. I am merely stating that the survival masks is necessary when dealing with people from all walks of life, for the primary purpose of effectively addressing each other’s needs and expectations. Different individual wishes to be treated differently, this is what I have learnt. Therefore, we need to be sensitive to such needs and behave in ways that will generate positive response from others.

So the next time when you’re surrounded by people, make a covert assessment on your own personal behaviour. Assess how your behaviour changes when dealing with different people. You may just discover something interesting about your personal tendencies.

Introducing Innovation and Creativity at Work

How many of us really understand the meaning of innovation? The niche in new management today is to bring in greater innovation and creativity to the workplace. Based on my own work setting, I do hear the word innovation being uttered at different occasions but I am not seeing it in its physical form. There seems to be a confusion between innovation and improvements. I am seeing new infrastructure being build, new service schemes introduced, and new contracts being signed. But these are merely routines and probably cosmetic improvements to existing requirements.

I have yet to see and experience a totally new working culture and mindset. My understanding on innovation and creativity is doing things differently from existing practices. Innovation is about doing something new, and continuing or improving status quo.

I guess injecting innovation in the public sector is almost similar to driving towards a mountain of boulder. There are too many “resistance” to innovation, despite the desire to institutionalise innovation. The need for innovation seems to be mere lip-service. When it comes to implementation, numerous “excuses” surfaces to justify the impossibility of innovation at this present moment.

A word of advise to those who find themselves in similar situations, the resistance to innovation is actually yourself. The next time you preach about innovation, you need to also relay your commitment to support innovation. Innovation is synonymous with something new and untried. So when the time comes to innovate, don’t be afraid of the uncertainties. If we have conducted thorough analysis on innovative projects, insyallah, the risk would have been minimised.

So do not fear innovation, but rather embrace it and live it.

Confrontations at the Workplace

When two people disagree on an issue, the ensuing behaviour would be to either confront each other or just leave it. Personally, I detest confrontations, especially the type of confrontations where the other party is adamant to merely let off some steam and not to actually resolve the problem in question.

I have had few experiences with confrontations. There was this one time, during my younger years, when one of the office senior staff confronted me about a ‘rumour’ which I was accused of spreading. I remember sitting down with the person on a long sofa and I could see she was ready to eat my head off. Sensing her potential violent outburst, I merely sat there calmly and attentively. I allowed her to speak her mind. When she was done, I merely said “I’m sorry. It was never my intention to hurt anyone. I wasn’t even aware that I was hurting anyone when I repeated that piece of information which was conveyed to me by your fellow staff. So I apologise for making you feel this way.” The lady was momentarily made speechless by response. I could see that she was trying to somehow find some words to counter what I just did. After a few seconds lapse, she said, “well, you should not have done it.” After she said that, I said “I’m truly sorry and I hope you will accept my apologies”. The lady calmed down after that.

The lesson learnt from this situation is that during confrontation, just say few meaningful words. If you did wrong, admit it and never justify it. This will prevent the other person from letting off more steam than necessary. Of course, every confrontation experience will differ. The reactions/ response of the people involved will depend on the scale of the “problem” that caused such confrontation. But what I believe to be effective during confrontation is to keep yourself and your mind calm. Do not succumb to the heat (temper) of the moment and make matters worst. One person has to at least be sane and rational during a confrontation.

 

 

Investing in People

I’m a great believer on people being the driver of all change. But in most great plans for change, people seem to be forgotten and are placed at the seats on the furthest end. And when change is not achieved as planned, too much focus is given toward improving the process rather than on the people that the plan relies on to succeed.

Dealing with people, in whatever context, is a very tricky and challenging undertaking. People  encompasses various individuals with differing views, perspectives, and expectations. The uniqueness of the individuals are further shaped by their upbringings, background, education, culture and experience. So when it comes to trying to bring all these different individuals and to place their confidence and belief into one sole ‘purpose’, they may not always succumb easily to such notion. And if we wish to see any progress, these individuals must be in full understanding on what is at stake.

As a manager in my own unit at work, I’ve come across numerous challenges when dealing with people. But the most visible challenge is in trying to convince people to fully support and remain loyal to the ‘mission’ that you have conjured for the organisation. Ensuring these people continue to be ‘driven’ by what is to come can be quite tedious. And this is the peak of the process in which most managers just let up. They (managers) become overwhelmed by the commitment and dedication required to maintain this spirited mindset among the crew.

Another very crucial factor that some managers tend to be complacent about is the fact that people need to constantly undergo trainings to make sure they have the skill and knowledge to carry out this important transformation plan. If we expect people to bring forth change by merely utilising the old-school and outdated skills they have, then progress will be minimal.

So when it comes to dealing with people, it take a lot of investing in terms of time and dedication as well as understanding. Therefore, when it comes to people I have a personal rule that I abide by:

  1. Involve the crew in the planning for change.
  2. Be open and accept criticism constructively and professionally.
  3. Empower the crew to take responsibility of the plan for change.
  4. Equip the crew with the information, knowledge and skill to drive the change.
  5. Provide open channels of communication for feed backs and inputs on the execution of change.
  6. Be clear with job distribution and milestones to be achieved.
  7. Work as a team!

This is my own rules.. do u have your own set of rules on dealing with people?

Introducing a Baking Mom

I have been meaning to share with my readers the talent of a dear friend, Ms. Lina Pang. She is a working mom and she loves to bake. She does take orders for her pastries and bakeries, just give me a holler if anyone is interested and I’ll be more than happy to connect you with her. Below are some of her wonderful works which she made for my youngest son.

Chicken Pie

Chicken Pie

Cupcakes (with no colouring)

Cupcakes (with no colouring)

 

Pizza Hut’s Salad Bar

Just sharing my recent visit to Pizza Hut. They have free unlimited salad bar with purchase of a large pizza or pasta dish. The salad bar was relatively small but sufficient to assuage your green cravings.

The salad plate.. very small plate..

The salad plate.. very small plate..

And of course, my primary meal was not the salad plate. I am a pasta person and naturally I just had to order the classic lasagne bolognaise. It was truly filling.

Classic Lasagne Bolognaise

Classic Lasagne Bolognaise

Dinner at Empire

To mark the conclusion of a regional uniformed meeting, I had the privilege of being invited to a grand dinner at the Theatre, Empire Hotel and Country Club. The dinner menu included the following:

Appetizer: Mango Salad.. it was super spicy that I had to stop eating it and gulp down loads of water.

Appetizer: Mango Salad.. it was super spicy that I had to stop eating it and gulp down loads of water.

Main Course Option 1: Roasted Cod. I liked this dish as the fish was very tender and no fishy   smell.

Main Course Option 1: Roasted Cod. I liked this dish as the fish was very tender and no fishy smell.

Main Course Option 2: Beef Steak. My colleague had this. The cauliflower looked bigger than the steak!

Main Course Option 2: Beef Steak. My colleague had this. The cauliflower looked bigger than the steak!

Dessert: layered cake, chocolate mousse cake, and rock melon pudding with sago. Quite sweet for my taste bud.

Dessert: layered cake, chocolate mousse cake, and rock melon pudding with sago. Quite sweet for my taste bud.

Workers are humans too

Striking a balance between work and life has always been a challenge for most people. But in a uniform organisation, the general expectation is for you, as the uniform bearer, to relinguish all non-work-related commitments, in the name of fulfilling the responsibilities and commitment of the uniform. Seriously, this sounds non-human and only possible for androids or robots to execute religiously and in absolute compliance.

Unfortunately, the workforce still constitute of humans, and not robots. And believe it or not, this mindset has been institutionalised from the birth of uniform organisation. But does this make it the ideal way to manage the workers, regardless of whether they wear uniform or not?

Being an idealist, I believe people, in whatever work setting, need to be treated as humans. As a leader, one must be able to align the expectations of the organization with the employee’s personal expectation. There is neither shortcut nor compromise in this. This is a necessity, in order for the performance of the organisation and the employees to mutually improve and remain sustainable in the long-run.

Communication is another necessity. It is better to speak and listen to people around you, rather than merely making assumptions blindly. Make sure you speak wisely and listen attentively. People can sense insincerity by a mile. So communicate with empathy and professionalism.

So if you’re a leader, it is worthwhile to invest your effort in these two areas. Try it, and you will understand what I mean.

29th National Day 2013

Every year I would join in the National Day Parade, and this year was no exception. The ambience on that day was high spirited and filled with pride. Here are few photos of that memorable day.

Frist Day rehearsal in the City Centre, Bandar Seri Begawan

Frist Day rehearsal in the City Centre, Bandar Seri Begawan

Ready for a pose even while marching!

Ready for a pose even while marching!

New tops for another full rehearsal at the City Centre, Bandar Seri Begawan

New tops for another full rehearsal at the City Centre, Bandar Seri Begawan

Counting our marching steps.. on the actual day of celebration

Counting our marching steps.. on the actual day of celebration

About to pass the Royal Dias.. Feeling anxious but patriotic..

About to pass the Royal Dias.. Feeling anxious but patriotic..

And it's a wrap!

And it’s a wrap!

Difference between HR, Human Capital and Talent Management

Can you briefly explain the difference between (1) Human Resource (2) Human Capital (3) Talent Management?

Here are my explanations:

(1) Human Resource is the physical being.

(2) Human capital is the investment made on the physical being in order to be equipped with relevant and useable armours (competencies). What I am saying here is that people need to be trained and later put in positions or given tasks to enable them to apply those skills.

(3) Talent management is about positioning your pool of talented personnel in positions that will ensure optimal performance and benefit for the organisation. A common slogan for this is “putting the right people, at the right place, at the right time”.

Another question: what is the difference between (1) HRD and (2) HRM?

Here are my explanations:
(1) Human Resource Development (HRD) is about intelligence/ knowledge/ skills/ competency acquisition and application.

(2) Human Resource Management (HRM) looks at the bigger picture on HR requirements  (covering recruitment, positioning, development, evolution, retention etc.) but with clear objectives and measurable indicators.

People are not machines

Being in a position where I have staff to look after can be a daunting experience. As we know it, different people will have different levels of needs, expectations and perceptions. With that said, it is impossible to make ‘everyone’ happy with whatever decision that I make pertaining to my staff.

When I was a junior officer (a newbie), I was so eager to have everyone to like me and support my ideas at work. When I get the feeling that someone is not happy with me or what I have done (work related), I would get frustrated and somehow it also escalate into a grudge (and I am the type who can hold grudges for a very long time).

Thinking back on those younger years, I realised how I could have better handled myself and ths situation I was in. Being young, I was on a mission to prove my self worth and declare to the world that “hey, I am a lady and I am smart”. And working in a male dominated organisation, that self worth declaration journey was a very challenging one. It was challenging not because of the diverse personalities that I have to work with or type of projects I had to do, but it was challenging because it was so hard for me to accept any criticism from anyone.

Now, being a senior, it is still hard for me to accept criticism. But I am able to receive it and turn it into a lesson for improvement. The same applies when dealing with difficult staff. Previously, I would just hold a long term grudge against that ‘disloyal’ and ‘ungrateful’ staff and make sure I avoid any chances of ever speaking to that person. But now, being older and wiser (I hope) I would just listen to the circulating rumours of individuals discontent and make sure that I am not easily provoked by it. This does not mean that I am ignoring it completely, it means I will handle it accordingly and objectively.

As we all know, office politics is a norm in any organisation. One way of looking at office politics is when there is a collusion of needs, expectations and perceptions. When handle office politics, it is always best to not focus too much on the ‘noise’ being made. As I said before, we need to remain objective.

My style is to assess the situation based on the impact of office politics on productivity or performance. If there is empirical evidence that productivity or performance is falling due to office politics, then action must be taken. In this instance, I would have to review current mamagement style whether it is conducive or destructive. But in this case, my focus will be on the humanistic aspect as I highly believe that it is the people who gives personalities to the process and it is the people who produce results, good or bad.

At the end of the day, we have to remind ourselves to treat people as people and not as machine. By doing this, I learnt that resistance and non performance can be minimalised.

Job Satisfaction

After conducting interview appraisals on my staff, it is interesting to note that “job satisfaction” for an individual is not always defined extrinsically. Some are just as happy and satisfied with the intrinsic value the job provides for them. Even the idea of getting a promotion is not as important as just being in a job they feel “happy” in.

Of course the general feeling among the staff is that, to fulfill their satisfaction in their existing job, they wish for job security (permanent and defined posts) and clear career progression. On the side of it, they are still happy with their job simply because of the working environment, especially the people they work with. This particular sentiment is generally shared by all the staff, whether they’re the veterans or even the newbies.

The way I see it, satisfaction is a feeling independent from being happy. But the similarity is, there are selective criteria that either makes us satisfied or happy. In the case of job satisfaction, from a personal view, I am NOT satisfied in my current job, BUT I am happy being in this job. My satisfaction is more focused on the lack of career progression for my post and minimal attention given in optimising on my newly acquired skills. My happiness, on the other hand, is more focused on the people I work with. Although they are not 100% (but hey who is?!), but I work well with them and them with me. I must admit, not all of the people I work with are amicable to work with, but the few who are, they are the ones worth staying put for. So the existing team dynamics allows me to flourish, professionally and personally. And I believe this to be a rarity, and be treated a privilege. Hence, this is, among other things as well, why I am HAPPY in my current job. And because of this also, why I am willing to put up with the lack of career progression in my existing job. Instead, I optimise on my ‘career non-progression’ to improve on my leadership, managerial and teamwork skills as well as experiment on my innovations. And I can do all this because my work environment and my position in my current job allows me to do so. And I believe it is benefiting both my unit and staff.

Red Pepper Omelette and Cinnamon Bun

My ultimate favourite breakfast is omelette. But the difference with mine is I like to use red pepper (capsicum) and cheese with my omelette. And the way to cook it is the same like other omelette, I think. If you’re not used to cooking, well allow me to give a brief lesson. Get a frying pan, put on the heat on medium, pour in two tablespoon of olive oil and leave it to warm up a bit. The put in the red pepper to be sauteed. But make sure it is not sauteed until too soggy. Then pour in the beaten egg (about 2 large eggs) and let it cook. Just before it’s completely cook (50%)  put the cheese slices on top. And then fold the cooking omelette in half, making sure not to rip it apart as you do it. And leave it on the pan for another minute of two, and then it’s ready to be served.

You can serve the omelette with any buns or bread you like. I prefer mine cinnamon🙂 and fresh fruits on the side.

Crispy Fish Fillet on pasta

I love experimenting with my cooking, and luckily they always turn out pretty edible! For this dish, there are three separate phases:  (1) fry the fish fillet – 8mins+ (2) boil the pasta – 8mins+ (3) make the sauce – 8mins+.

Before frying the fish fillet, I rubbed fresh lemon on the surface just to take away the ‘fishy’ smell. Then I massage the black pepper onto the surface. I let it settle for a few minutes, where while waiting I work on boiling the pasta. I put the frying pan on medium heat and pun in a tablespoon on salted butter and a table spoon on olive oil, I pun in the fillet to fry, along with fresh curry leaves. I use the curry leaves because it always makes my cooking smell good and yummy! Remember to flip the fillet once it start to brown. Once both sides of the fillet have browned, take it out of the pan and put it to the side to cool.

Now for the sauce. The residue from the frying pan, I recycle that because all the flavour is there! So I keep the heat at medium, sauteed the fresh garlic, shallot and onion, followed by cut-up button mushroom (any mushroom would be fine too) and green peas. After about 3mins, I put in a slice of craft cheese, just to make the sauce slightly starchy. If it’s too starchy, I would cheat by pouring in a tablespoon (or two) of fresh orange/ lime juice🙂

Once done, I scoop my hot drained pasta into the bowl, put the fish fillet on top, and pour the sauce over the entire dish. Viola!! And the mean is ready🙂 You can also put other garnish to make the dish look beautiful.

Handling Difficult Employees

Being second in command is not a glamorous position to be in. Depending on the first in command,  a deputy is usually expected to pick up all the unfinished work and take out the trash. My most challenging experience is dealing with difficult employees. I hold strong to my belief that people deserve a second chance. But I never thought that I would waver from that belief just because of one employee.

This employee is a very bright employee. But his downfall is the lack of self discipline. As a senior executive, I am responsible to address all shortcomings that impact productivity. But enforcing such responsibility carries so many pros and cons. I have been adviced my colleagues and peers to just fire the employee. Others advised to transfer the employee elsewhere and let the next senior executive handle. I am tempted to follow the advices given, but somehow I feel as if I’m chickening out by taking a short cut to the address the problem.

Despite my better judgement, I decided to continue monitoring the troubling employee. If his behaviour illustrate no positive changes, then I will talk with him one-on-one and give him an ultimatum. If he still fails to change, I will submit his name for disciplinary action, signed by the HOD. If this fails, I will come back and share with you on the proceeding solution or steps.

Misconceptions about PR

PR, acronym for Public Relations, is an area that people in Brunei vaguely have a clear understanding on. In the government, there is the perception that PR is the job of the PR Officers, and nobody else. Whether the perception is just a guise to relinquish   oneself from PR tasks (considered as additional burden to existing ‘core’ tasks) or just genuine ignorance, it is a matter that requires immediate clarification.

In better understanding PR, we have to look at the definition of PR, the objective of PR and the associated activities. In its simplest term, PR is about image promotion. It is essential not to confuse PR with marketing or advertising, as there are all different from one another in numerous ways. Unlike marketing and advertising, PR is relatively free to implement (aside from the costs of manpower to implement it and other related overheads costs). In the public sector, PR objective is usually to promote the image of the organisation concerned. And the activities selected under the PR plan will fundamentally serve to frame and prime the image desired by that particular organisation.

Among the common PR activities implemented in the public sector include roadshows, exhibition, conferences, seminars, visits, and many more. Specific organisations (that have allocated special budget for PR matters) may also expand their activities to include the dissemination of publications, sales of promotional merchandises, and others. Additionally, in today’s digital era, those technology-savvy organisations will optimise on online platforms such as websites, blogs, portals, social media, etc.

So looking at the definition, objectives and activities mentioned, who are the doers of PR? The answer is, everyone!!!

With that misconception cleared (hopefully!), the next time there’s a meeting on PR related matters, do give PR Officers a break and embrace the fact that PR is everyone’s responsibility.

28th Independence Day Celebration

It was a beautiful sunny day today, a day filled with rejoice and pride. Patriotic Bruneians, and curious tourists, gathered at the City Centre, Bandar Seri Begawan, to witness the annual nation-wide celebration of Brunei’s National Day. I was one participant for the march past representing my Ministry today along with my peers and colleagues.

Every year the routine would be to wake up around 5am, and be ready to go before 6am. It is a known fact that traffic will start slow down by 6:30am, and it will take at least an hour to reach anywhere in the City Centre. This year, I woke up at 4:30am. I put on the beige/ peach colour baju kurung uniform with the matching scarf. At 5:15am, I awaken my sleepy husband, who is also attending the auspicious event today. By 5:45am I was ready to go. Warmed up the car and departed to pick up my little sister, who was also participating in the march past, representing her school.

We reached the skirts of the City Centre by around 6:25am, and already the place was bustling with activities and cars filling up the roads into the centre of the event. Luckily for us, my husband and I were invited guests to the event, so we were supplied with a car pass into the nearest parking spot at the event. We parked the car at the parking compound of the Syariah Court, meet up with my work colleague, Siti, and we proceeded to one of the cafe for our early breakfast. As expected everywhere was packed with people, but we managed to get outside seats at the DeRoyalle Cafe and had our breakfast there. For breakfast I ordered a set of scrambled eggs, toasts, chicken sausage and baked beans + coffee + orang juice (BND$5.90). While having breakfast, I was approached several times by familiar faces, (peers, friends, colleagues) who were also roaming the City Centre and looking forward to the morning ceremony.

When His Majesty arrives at the Royal Dias located at the centre of the Taman SOAS, I could hear the national anthem echoing across the City Centre. This signaled the start of today’s ceremony. Our marching delegation took our position, and the head, who was the Permanent Secretary (AF), was also poised and ready for the march. The weather was permissible, very sunny indeed. As our delegation marched along the path towards Taman SOAS, I could see swarms of people on both sides of our marching line. People from all walks of life were gathered around us, taking photos of this momentous ceremony. The surrounding was filled with joy and excitement.

As our marching line passed by the Royal Dias, I could see His Majesty and members of the Royal Family observing the march past intently.

The march past didn’t take long, and I was glad that our delegation did pretty well in our performance. For that, our HOD congratulated everyone on the job well done.

Today’s event ended around 1030am. Even after the event ended, I could see onlookers and participants still scattered around the City Centre.

Visit to Singapore Parliament

Today my school has made arrangements for our batch to visit Singapore parliament. Quite an educational session. We actually went in where the parliament chamber was. But too bad there were anything going on in the chamber. So it was basically visit an empty building.

The most interesting piece of information that I gathered was that there was an area called the ‘Strangers’ Gallery’ where anyone who are not the MP can go in and view the Parliament Session. The only condition is you have to dress smartly.

Market Exchange

As a note to myself, I want to explore more simplistic ways of explaining economic.

Base on my personal understanding, microeconomics is about how people behave and respond to their surrounding while trying to ensure that their welfare/ interest are kept at forefront of all considerations. On the other hand, economics also looks at how the behaviour and response of these individuals on other players within the economy.

Let’s see if I can explain this better…

Individual – will make choices base on which will give them the greatest satisfaction, limited by what they can really afford (income).

Firms – the other entity who are willing to produce what the individual desires, in return for profits.

When there two meet, then they have a ‘market exchange’… something like a barter but for monetary gain on the part of the firm.

Anyone wish to improve this explanation for me?

Back to Econs

Sitting in an economics class is something that I haven’t done in such long time. If memory served me right, I have never been that enthusiastic about the discipline. My economics lectures were partly to blame for this. We all know economics is not an exciting subject, and with lectures who add to that dullness can really traumatise someone like me.

However, today it was quite a pleasant surprise. I enjoyed the economics class very much. Although it was just an introduction on the discipline, yet I found myself quite focus on what the Professor was saying the whole time. Somehow, in a quite bizarre way, this one session has rekindled my love for economics. A shocker indeed.

I’m looking forward for more of such pleasant experiences. I have selected two modules that focus purely on economics and I hope the Prof. for the other module will be as capable in unleashing my passion for the subject.

Friday the 13th

For some people Friday the 13th is not a favourite day. Base on some superstition, it is a day filled with bad lucks. But if you look at movies, it’s a day of great horror.

I don’t personally know or understanding where that superstition came from, but from my own culture, Friday, regardless of the date, is the head of all days and it is deemed as the most blessed day.

It’s funny how different cultures deem Friday the 13th in quite opposite context.

So to my readers, what is your perspective on Friday the 13th?

Defining the word

Since going back to school, I notice that there are always some favourite jargons or words that people like to refer to. In studying about public policy, the words that frequently pop up are like economics, politics, globalisation, management, leadership and many more.

The easiet way of finding the definition of each of these words would be to just to use a dictionary. But dictionaries have a way of making things so abstract, so for those of us who are not familiar on the context where such word might exist or fully utilised, understanding it could be an issue.

For me, I like to keep things simple. Simple allows me to remember and understand things quickly and easily. Simplicity also make that piece of information memorable, so I will less likely to forget about it.

Here I want to share my own intrepretation on the few words or jargons that I’ve just mentioned:

Economics, I simply define as how people behave with their money and how our decision have an impact on our ‘neighbours’.

Politics, is about people’s behaviour with other people and how our own interest prevails at the end.

Globalisation, is merely having the technologies to take advantage of opportunities in other parts of the world.

Management, is about doing things differently from what you’re used to and considering the various variables and impact of your action.

Leadership, is basically about being the ‘human’ and better you in the presence of yourself and others :)

So to all my readers out there, do u agree or disagree with my definition?

Moving Around Singapore

Being mobile in Singapore demands lots of $$$. But there are ways to cut down on the cost. Simply by either walking or using the bus :p

Now to make things even more convenient, you have to get yourself and Ez-Link card. You can top it up at any 7-Eleven, MRT stations or any POSB/DBS atm machines. The Ez-Link card serve as an alternative for money for usage on any busses or MRT. It’s totally hassle free and you don’t have to worry about having enough change to pay for your transport fares. The fare fees are charged by distance.

Another useful tip, get yourself the Mighty Minds books on Bus Guide & Bus Stop Directory as well as the Street Directory. You can plan ahead your movement by referring to these two publications. It lists all the bus no. and bus stop locations as well as the relevant maps to go with it.

Hope you will be able to travel in Singapore with greater confidence now🙂

Maybank

If your bank is Maybank, these are the locations in Singapore:

MAYBANK ATMs BRANCHES IN SINGAPORE

2 Battery Road
Maybank Tower
Singapore 049907
Block 210 #01-699
New Upper Changi Road
Singapore 460210
114/116 Upper Bukit Timah Road
Singapore 588172
400 Balestier Road
#01-13 Balestier Plaza
Singapore 329802
62 Changi Road
#01-01
Singapore 419713
Block 303 Choa Chu Kang Avenue 4
#01-723
Singapore 680303
101 Upper Cross Street
#01-22 People’s Park Centre
Singapore 058357
Block 87 Marine Parade Central
#01-502
Singapore 440087
247 Holland Avenue
Singapore 278979
304 Orchard Road
Lucky Plaza Basement 1
Singapore 238863
707 East Coast Road
Singapore 459063
2 Jurong East Street 21
#01-C12
IMM Building
SIngapore 609601
(Near Burger King)
420 North Bridge Road
#01-36/02-36 North Bridge Shopping Centre
Singapore 188727
Block 139 Tampines Street 11
#01-44/46/48
Singapore 521139
Block 131 Jurong East Street 13
#01-249
Singapore 600131
68 Orchard Road
#B2-K3, Plaza Singapura
Singapore 238839
(Near North-East Line MRT Station entrance at Basement 2)
20 , Tampines Central 1
Singapore 529538
(Near Cheers Convenience Store)
63 Jurong West Central 3
Jurong Point Shopping Centre
#B1-01/02
Singapore 64
16 Raffles Quay
#01-04 Hong Leong Building
Singapore 048581
Block 710A Ang Mo Kio Avenue 8
#01-2627
Singapore 561710
1 Queensway
#01-56 Queensway Shopping Centre
Singapore 149053
200 Jalan Sultan
#01-02 Textile Centre
Singapore 199018
Block 480 Toa Payoh Lorong 6
#01-11 HDB Hub
Singapore 310480
26 Sentosa Gateway
B1 Forum
Singapore 098138
996 Upper Serangoon Road
Singapore 534736
Block 888 Woodlands Drive 50
#02-731 888 Plaza
Singapore 730888
930 Yishun Avenue 2
#01-18/19 Northpoint
Singapore 769098

We Are The Champions!

I made it back!! And I survived Outward Bound Singapore (OBS) at Pulau Ubin with all my new found friends🙂

Honestly I was quite apprehensive about going to OBS because of all the stories I’ve heard. Not bad stories, just things that indicated taking me completely out of my comfort zone. What are these things you may ask.. for one thing OBS basically means going back to basic. This meant, sleeping on bunker beds with no curtains on the windows, no hot showers, toilet sharing, scheduled meals and scheduled activities (non-stop!!). To summerise all of this, we were told to expect the unexpected!

I certainly do not like the idea of being shocked with something so very unexpected. I prefer to have clarity on everything. But the moment I set foot on OBS, clarity the one thing they deprived us. And this really tested everyone’s patience and innovation in handling what was given.

Our trip to OBS was planned for two days, 30-31 Jul (Fri-Sat). We departed from College Green on two huge busses around 8am. We reached Punggol Jetty nearly 9am because the morning traffic was quite heavy. Then we got on a boat to go to OBS, this took about 10 minutes.

My first impression of OBS was that it looked pretty decent. Surprisingly OBS had concrete (as in bricks :p ) infrastructure. We also saw some tall wooden structures that were probably used for climbing challenges. On our arrival, we were ushered to go to the Main Hall for our briefings. There we were divided into 4 big groups. There were 60 of us, so each team had around 15-16 members.

“We are the Champions” was my group. In this group there were 6 ladies and 10 guys, whose nationals included Bhutan (Tashi), Brunei (Me), China (Emily), India (Anup, Shirish, and Vinod), Japan (Daisuke), Maldives (Alim), Pakistan (Ishaq), Philippines (Harvey), Singapore (Darryl, Elaine, Ming), Sri Lanka (Charuni) and USA (Jon, and Mauricio).

Prior to all these we were tasked to come up with a set of rules for the team and we came up with: Direction, Strategise, Communication and Team Spirit.

The days’ event basically focused on challenging our leadership tools and understanding. The activities included the Plank-Blocks Motion, “Blind” Square Forming, Dark Tunnel Expedition and Rock Climbing.

The platform activity was totally chaotic. We were all asked to get on this platform and once everyone were onboard, we were to move the blocks and planks to help us move forward to the finishing line. The rules were we have to be connected physically at all times; the planks cannot touch the floor or it will be removed; anybody touching the bare ground will be blind folded and returned to the team, adding to the challenge. The funny thing about this exercise was that, we had to hold on to everyone. It was like giving a gigantic bear hug! But in that moment, it was the only way we could  do to keep everyone off the ground! We performed quite badly because we were so disoriented by the idea of having to work in such confined spaces, with very little chance of manouvering the planks and blocks below our feet. But somehow we did it, eventhough we finished last among the other teams.

For me the biggest challenge was the tunnel exercise. I didn’t go in because I have fears of  small spaces and pitch-dark places. So knowing my limitation, I sat it out. My friend Elaine also share this fear and she too sat it out. My other most challenging exercise was the rock climbing event. Being voluptuous, I have always lacked the confidence to climb the rock wall for fear of not being able to lift my self up. I have small feet and the arm/ finger strength are not adequate. But with the encouragement from my friends, I relented. Initially, I targeted to just climb to the red line (3m high).. but somehow, I managed to climb myself up to 7m high!! I only had 3m left to climb, but because of the pressure on the tip of my feet and my laborious breathing rhythm, I conceded and asked to be let down. Despite “chickening out” when I could have finished to the top of the wall, I did pretty good. I finally climbed the rock wall.. and I wasn’t afraid of the height🙂

I’m the one in red shirt🙂

On the second and final day, we were given the ultimate challenge that involved Alpine Rescue and Kayaking and on the sideline Nature Sighting and Check Points. We were given 4 hours and among the equipments we had to carry and use were: instruction papers, map of Pulau Ubin, compass, individual whistle, climbing harness and helmets, life jacket, sets of clothes for dry and wet activities, 1/2 liter of water, poncho and a backpack. We had a lot to carry. But we were all so gracious and kind with one another that everyone carried the heavy loads collectively and contributively.

For me, the final challenge was the most testing. It tested me physically more than mentally. The distance was far, the activities very strenuous… but somehow, I finished till the end without fainting our of exhaustion!! Although my friends told me I look so pale and tired, but deep down inside I’m glad I was able to finish the challenge with my team.

Everyone gathered back at OBS around 1330hrs. We were sweaty, exhausted and totally drained. But that wasn’t the end of it. Once back at OBS, we had to rush for our lunch, freshening up and gather back again to reflect on challenge. The closing of our OBS exercise was the revealing of the winner for the final challenge. My team suspected that we lost because we didn’t finish all of the required activities, there was just not enough time to do everything. But as the OBS facilitator revealed the score, “We are the Champions” was true to our name. We are indeed the CHAMPIONS!! We scored 280 points. We were shocked, ecstatic and confused all at once!! We were all jumping and greeting our other winning friends, still not believing that we could actually win! It was such a super feeling🙂

In the two days that I’ve been at OBS, I’ve observed a few things (that people should be prepared for) such as:

  • There were loads of Mosquitoes!!! So remember to bring mosquito patches and repellent.
  • There were meals 4 times a day. This was really exhausting.
  • The dorms consist of bunker beds (very thin mattress, one pillow and think blank), light, fan (absolutely no air-conditioning), common toilets and showers (with no heater). It was really back to basics! and the bunker beds were very dusty.
  • All the activities at OBS were challenging both physically and mentally. So it’s real when they say ‘expect the unexpected’!
  • Bring enough clothes and shoes!! Minimum 4 sets of clothes and enough plastic bags for our laundry afterwards.
  • Don’t forget your toiletries and snacks!!
  • Because of the unpredictable weather, bring your ponchos, caps/hats and sunblock, and water bottle!
  • You need 3 pairs of footwear: track shoes, wet shoes and sandals/ slippers.
  • For the girls, bring your hair-dryers and crunches!!

As a reflection on the OBS programmes, they’re very sneaky and good at what they do. They’re really there to mess up your sanity but yet keep you safe from anything dangerous. The facilitators knew what to do to cause havoc among the team members. But so far, our team always seem to come out of it as a team. This was the most important product.

The few crucial lessons that I learnt while at OBS were:

  • In any decision making, we have to always remember 3 things: People, Process and Product. There is no one way of doing this. It must all be considered.
  • As a leader, always allow yourself a local and strategic views on situation. Don’t just stay in the box. Go out and see the bigger picture as well.
  • Don’t just listen to the majority. Make it a point to listen to EVERYONE and consider all of the feedback constructively and earnestly.
  • There will always be ambiguity. So expect the unexpected and adapt! Don’t be rigid, be flexible! Don’t ponder, just move forward!

I truly enjoyed myself at OBS. Although it was strenuous, both mentally and physically, it was however quite an enlightening experience. I will never forget this.

Thank you OBS! Thank you LKY SPP🙂

Outdoor Experience

One of the class module requires the course participants to go to the Outward Bound Singapore (OBS). This time to Pulau Ubin. I’m off to that Island today. I don’t know what to expect but I heard the 2-day event is aimed at polishing up the participants leadership skill.

Honestly, I’m both apprehensive and excited. But I will know how I really feel once I’m at the Island.

I will get back to y’all on the experience.

Wish me luck!!

Education “3RGS”

At the beginning of the week, we had a welcoming session by the Dean of our school. And during that session he remindef of the 3R, 3G and 3S…

3R..

Right Time..

Right Place..

Right School..

The 3R to me is about being in the opportune time to pursue the one luxury that we all want in life.. education.

3G..

Good Governance..

Globalisation..

Geo-Political..

The 3G is basically looking at the world at large and how people/ countries behave in settings that opens up to even greater diversification and complexities.

3S

Study hard..

Socialise hard..

Sentimentalise..

The 3S is about our own personality. How we participate, respond and understand both ourself and other people.

 

Settling in..

To put it into one word… everything is so I.T!!! That is exactly my impression of Singapore. I have the pleasure of arriving here last week for my further studies and it has been a roller coaster ride from the moment I set my foot in this land.

What I didn’t enjoy so much was the grueling and tiresome task of looking for my own dwelling. For this I was assisted by a very nice agent, William. He totally went all out to make sure that I got the residence of my choice. Although my first choice had some last minute complication, but that event was probably a blessing in disguise. The replacement place that my agent showed me was even better!! and it was at the same premise. So that worked out to everyone’s expectation.

There are several lessons that I would like to share with my readers on my experience during the first transition of settle in as a student in Singapore. The lessons are:

  1. Prior to flying off to Singapore, make sure you have all your medical examination reports and a copy of the In-Principle Approval (IPA) letter issued by Immigration and Custom Authority (ICA).. this is crucial to show during arrival at the Singapore immigration check.
  2. Make sure you have also set up an appointment on line with ICA to acquire the Student Pass. You need to got to the Lavender MRT station and the ICA building is just on the left side of the station. Go to the 4th floor. Don’t forget to bring along the IPA letter and other crucial documents on your academic enrollment.
  3. When finding a place of your own, be prepared to pay a booking deposit (equivalent to one month’s rental of the premise) and a security deposit (also equivalent to one month’s rental of the premise to be rented) as well as agent’s fee (equivalent to half or one month’s rental of the premise to be rented). That’s a whole lot of money!! This may total to between S$8k – S$10k.
  4. Prior to securing the residence, you need to sort out the documents. First, you have to fill in and sign a Letter of Intent enclosed with the booking deposit just to indicate your interest to rent the premise. The letter will then be signed by the landlord if he agrees. Once agreement is reached, a tenancy agreement will be issued and will need to be signed by both the tenant and landlord as well as respective witnesses and attached with the security deposit. The tenancy agreement once duly signed will need to be stamped to make it legally binding (this cost about S$165).
  5. Next you have to sort out your utilities. You can ask the agent to sort it out for you. This is what I did🙂
  6. When renting a place, make sure you are aware of all the dos and don’ts. Do ask question about maintenance aspect of the residence, especially on what is covered by the tenancy agreement and what the tenant is expected to care for.

I hope this information will come in handy🙂

New Undertaking

I’m in singapore! Today is the start of ‘school’ for me and I have loads of things to do as a new student. It’s quite unnerving to be doing something so familiar yet so new. It has been such a long time since I last experience something like this. But luckily I’m expecting peers of my own age group and work experience in the same course.

I hope this will indeed be a truly fulfilling and substantive experience!

Valentine

Synopsis:

A quirk of fate has made Sylvester Gilbraith the heir of his swornenemy, the earl of Stoneridge. But there’s a catch: to claim hisinheritance he has to marry one of the earl’s four granddaughters. Themagically handsome nobleman has no choice but to comply with the termsof the will, yet when he descends on Stoneridge Manor prepared to charmhis way into a fortune, he finds that the lady who intrigues him mosthas no intention of becoming his bride. Maddeningly beautiful andutterly impossible, Theodora Belmont refuses to admit to the chemistrybetween them, even when she’s passionately locked in his embrace. Yetsoon the day will come when the raven-haired vixen will give anything tobe Slyvester’s bride – and risk everything to defend his honor…and hislife.

My Review:

It’s an absolutely funny and interesting love story between two hot headed couples who took such a long time to fully realise that their stubborness will get them nowhere. I doubt if Sylvester nor Theo will ever realise this, but somehow it still works out for them. The Belmont ladies are quite the fun and down to earth type of family, but most importantly they always stand up for their love ones. Sylvester, on the other hand, is not used to conditions and sentiments such as ‘familyhood’ or even ‘partnership’. But overtime, he has no choice but to just succumb to it, by the attics and outrageous conduct of his wife Lady Theo.

I absolutely enjoyed the book. It was like a ‘cat and mouse’ love story. There’s always bits on war betrayals, act of cowardice and expose. I grade it 8/10. A must read novel!!

19th May Events in History

On the day that I was born, numerous events had taken place over the years around the world…

1976 – Gold ownership legalized in Australia
1976 – Liverpool wins 5th UEFA Cup at Bridge
1976 – Senate establishes permanent Select Committee on Intelligence
1976 – USSR performs nuclear test at Eastern Kazakh/Semipalitinsk USSR
1977 – “Smokey & the Bandit,” premieres
1979 – “In The Navy” by Village People hits #3
1979 – 105th Preakness: Ron Franklin aboard Spectacular Bid wins in 1:54.2
1979 – Guitarist Eric Clapton marries Patti Boyd
1980 – “Blackstone” opens at Majestic Theater NYC for 104 performances
1980 – Ringo & Barbara Bach are involved in a car crash
1981 – Pirate Jim Bibby gives up a leadoff single to Brave Terry Harper, then retires next 27 batters
1982 – IFK Göteborg wins 11th UEFA Cup at Göteborg
1982 – Sophia Loren jailed in Naples for tax evasion
1983 – NASA launches Intelsat V satellite, no. 506
1983 – Weird Al Yankovic gives live performance at Wax Museum in Wash DC
1984 – “King Of Suede” by Weird Al Yankovic hits #62
1984 – 110th Preakness: Angel Cordero Jr aboard Gate Dancer wins in 1:53.6
1984 – STS 41-D vehicle moves to launch pad
1984 – Stanley Cup: Edmonton Oilers beat NY Islanders, 4 games to 1
1984 – Pat LaFontaine scores 2 goals within 22 sec in an NHL playoff game
1985 – Nancy Lopez wins LPGA Chrysler-Plymouth Golf Classic
1986 – Anti-apartheid activist HClane Pastoors sentenced to 10 yrs in S Afr
1987 – 1st American Comedy Award
1988 – Red Sox retire Bobby Doerr’s #1
1988 – Carlos Lehder Rivas, of Colombia’s Medellin drug cartel, is convicted in Florida for smuggling more than 3 tons of cocaine into US
1989 – Dow Jones Avg passes 2,500 mark for 1st time, closes at 2,501.1
1989 – Sue Ellen (Linda Gray) last appearance on Dallas
1990 – 116th Preakness: Pat Day aboard Summer Squall wins in 1:53.6
1990 – General Elvis, TV Drama last airs on ABC
1991 – “Buddy – The Buddy Holly Story” closes at Shubert NYC after 225 perfs
1991 – Pat Bradley wins LPGA Centel Golf Classic
1991 – Sandra Palmer wins LPGA Centel Senior Golf Challenge
1991 – Willy T Ribbs becomes 1st black driver to make Indianapolis 500
1992 – 27th Amendment ratified, prohibits Congress from raising its salary
1992 – Amy Fisher shoots Mary Jo Buttafuoco in Massapequa LI
1992 – Englishman Dave Gauder, 224 lbs, pulls 196 ton jumbo jet, 3 inches
1992 – Ric Flair wins NWA wrestling title
1992 – VP Dan Quayle sites Murphy Brown as a poor example of family values
1993 – Boeing 727 crashes into mountain at Medellin Colombia, kills 132
1993 – Dow Jones closes above 3,500 for 1st time (3,500.03)
1993 – Juventus wins 22th UEFA Cup at Torino
1994 – Final Episode of LA Law after 8 year run
1994 – Omar Sharif suffers a mild heart attack
1994 – Tennis star Jennifer Capriati (18), checks into a drug rehab center
1995 – Emmy 22nd Daytime Award presentation – Susan Lucci loses for 15th time
1995 – World’s youngest doctor, Balamurali Ambati, 17, graduates Mount Sinai
1996 – STS 77 (Endeavour 11), launches into orbit
2009 – Sri Lanka announces victory in its 27 year war against the terrorist organisation,
Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam.
2161 – Syzygy: 8 of 9 planets aligned on same side of sun

90/10 Principles

I received this lovely email from one of colleagues and it was about the “90/10 Principles” by  Stephen Covey. I loved the deduction from this principle.. and when I enjoyed something, I just have to share it with all my blog readers..

Discover the 90/10 Principle.

It will change your life (at least the way you react to situations).

What is this principle? 10% of life is made up of what happens to you. 90% of life is decided by how you react.

What does this mean? We really have no control over 10% of what happens to us.

We cannot stop the car from breaking down. The plane will be late arriving, which throws our whole schedule off. A driver may cut us off in traffic.

We have no control over this 10%. The other 90% is different. You determine the other 90%.

How? ……….By your reaction.

You cannot control a red light. but you can control your reaction. Don’t let people fool you; YOU can control how you react.

Let’s use an example.

You are eating breakfast with your family. Your daughter knocks over a cup of coffee onto your business shirt. You have no control over what just happened.

What happens next will be determined by how you react.

You curse.

You harshly scold your daughter for knocking the cup over. She breaks down in tears. After scolding her, you turn to your spouse and criticize her for placing the cup too close to the edge of the table. A short verbal battle follows. You storm upstairs and change your shirt. Back downstairs, you find your daughter has been too busy crying to finish breakfast and get ready for school. She misses the bus.

Your spouse must leave immediately for work. You rush to the car and drive your daughter to school. Because you are late, you drive 40 miles an hour in a 30 mph speed limit.

After a 15-minute delay and throwing $60 traffic fine away, you arrive at school. Your daughter runs into the building without saying goodbye. After arriving at the office 20 minutes late, you find you forgot your briefcase. Your day has started terrible. As it continues, it seems to get worse and worse. You look forward to coming home.

When you arrive home, you find small wedge in your relationship with your spouse and daughter.

Why? …. Because of how you reacted in the morning.

Why did you have a bad day?

A) Did the coffee cause it?

B) Did your daughter cause it?

C) Did the policeman cause it?

D) Did you cause it?

The answer is “D”.

You had no control over what happened with the coffee. How you reacted in those 5 seconds is what caused your bad day.

Here is what could have and should have happened.

Coffee splashes over you. Your daughter is about to cry. You gently say, “Its ok honey, you just need to be more careful next time”. Grabbing a towel you rush upstairs. After grabbing a new shirt and your briefcase, you come back down in time to look through the window and see your child getting on the bus. She turns and waves. You arrive 5 minutes early and cheerfully greet the staff. Your boss comments on how good the day you are having.

Notice the difference?

Two different scenarios. Both started the same. Both ended different.

Why?

Because of how you REACTED.

You really do not have any control over 10% of what happens. The other 90% was determined by your reaction.

Here are some ways to apply the 90/10 principle. If someone says something negative about you, don’t be a sponge. Let the attack roll off like water on glass. You don’t have to let the negative comment affect you!

React properly and it will not ruin your day. A wrong reaction could result in losing a friend, being fired, getting stressed out etc.

How do you react if someone cuts you off in traffic? Do you lose your temper? Pound on the steering wheel? A friend of mine had the steering wheel fall off) Do you curse? Does your blood pressure skyrocket? Do you try and bump them?

WHO CARES if you arrive ten seconds later at work? Why let the cars ruin your drive?

Remember the 90/10 principle, and do not worry about it.

You are told you lost your job.

Why lose sleep and get irritated? It will work out. Use your worrying energy and time into finding another job.

The plane is late; it is going to mangle your schedule for the day. Why take outpour frustration on the flight attendant? She has no control over what is going on.

Use your time to study, get to know the other passenger. Why get stressed out? It will just make things worse.

Now you know the 90-10 principle. Apply it and you will be amazed at the results. You will lose nothing if you try it. The 90-10 principle is incredible. Very few know and apply this principle.

The result?

Millions of people are suffering from undeserved stress, trials, problems and heartache. We all must understand and apply the 90/10 principle.

It CAN change your life!!!

Enjoy….

Inferiority

“Nobody can make you feel inferior without your permission.” Eleanor Roosevelt.

I totally agree with this quote. It’s so frustrating to see some people easily succumb to feelings of inferiority. What’s worst is if it was caused by what someone told you or make you believe it to be. In this case, self esteem or self confidence can either help shield or expose you to such feelings.

I remember when I was much younger, I never had much confidence in myself, probably because I was a shy person, especially in the company of adults. I always felt really small around these big and tall adults. And over the years, the feeling of “smallness” or inferiority somehow got stuck inside of me, making me uncomfortable at times. But luckily, that feeling slowly diminishes as time goes by. Probably due to my environment changing drastically, exposing me to events that compel me to release myself from that feeling of inferiority.

As we mature, hopefully for most of us, we begin to see things in a different light. For me, I underwent and still undergo numerous changing and self-realisation phases, where I take the time to constantly re-think my views and perceptions on things. I must admit, when trying to change myself for the better, it has always and still is a challenging  journey. But the important thing is, we have to really want it, in order to really realise the change.

At this juncture of my life, I can say that I’ve overcomed my previous feeling of inferiority and replace it with greater self-confidence. What continues to drive my confidence is knowing what I’m capable of doing.and the comparative advantage that I have over others. You may see other people being super capable in what they’re doing and others who seem so intelligent and successful, but at the end of the day, we can be like  or even much better than those people  Capabilities and success come in may forms. In my case, I honestly believe I have an exceptional capability that nobody else have. We’re all different, therefore we’re all capable of doing different things very well. But  behind the differences, we all have something to offer to others, doesn’t matter whether it’s something small or large.

My advise to those who putting so much effort holding onto feelings of inferiority, please reverse that energy and put in the effort to nourish and generate a new and more invigorating feeling of self-confidence. Just remember, nobody has the right to make you feel inferior without your permission. It’s time to take back that permission and invest in a more worthwhile cause.

Women, the Best Manager.

It’s an undeniable fact that women make better managers than men do.

Probably this statement may come off as feminist, but I’m merely stating what has been proven from the days of our great, great ancestors.

Women started off as playing a more domesticated role in the olden days. Yes, the men were always the ones going out to get food and livelihood for the family. But it’s always the women who produce something out of the food and livelihood gathered. Men may bring in fowl, beef and flour home. But it’s the women who then turn those items into something like bbq chicken, beef stew and bread – all with its various condiments and side dishes.

In the contemporary world, although men have been seen to dominate the working sector previously, women nowadays are becoming more and more capable as well as competent to compete with their male counterparts. Women have over the centuries has elevated in status from mere domestic housewife to professions such as government officers, teachers/ lecturers, entrepreneurs, engineers, lawyers and many more. And it has been widely acknowledge that women are more thorough and organised then men are. I’m not sure whether the men will agree, but this is what I’ve heard, not just because I’m a woman myself🙂

Women’s competency as managers is not something new. It has flourished over time. Women started off as manager of their own home and family and nowadays (still executing their domestic responsibilities) have also gained a respected status as managers at the work place.

I salute what women globally have achieved for themselves over the years. Keep up the great work! Girl Power!!

Women-In-Business

Democratic Management

I was reading a book on public administration a few days back, and I came across an interesting view on the topic. The book stated that the public sector has been cultured to do things just because the top authority tells them to do it. And they will not do things beyond the instruction given. So the so called public servants were merely like puppets with the strings symbolising the directives and procedures given to them to conduct the necessary action.

To an extent, those statement still applies in today’s world. Some of the people in the public sector seem to be more comfortable to just stay within the above definition. And for the few of the people, this can form a kind of resistance, especially if the organisation aspires to evolve into something more dynamic.

I also came across a book on Participative Management which among other things highlighted how democratic management is the way to go nowadays. Democracy in this sense is about empowering people and allowing them to take rein and be accountable for their actions. The superiors in this instance will not be surrendering their authority but instead delegating the task and sharing the responsibility with those in the organisation.

I love this idea of democratic management. Although I haven’t really finished reading the article, I’m keen more than ever to further explore this concept. So if any of you know specific books I should be reading on this, please do tell me.

Public Affairs vs Public Diplomacy

In reference to the book ‘The Public Diplomacy Reader’ by J.Michael Waller.

I haven’t finish reading the book, but the first few pages have given me very refreshing insights on the definition of Public Diplomacy given by various influetial figures/ quotations.

But for the sake of discussion, is there really a difference between public affairs and public diplomacy?

Initially, I thought there was not much difference between the two. To a certain extent, I was correct. But on the bigger picture, there were more than meets the eye.

Public affairs, or public relations (PR) as we are more familiar with here in Brunei, is primarily about informing on what we do. Our activities and any other relevant events. As a PR practitioner myself, I do this by taking advantage of the local media, internet facilities and face-to-face interactions. All for the puropse of sharing information about what my organisation does.

Public diplomacy (PD) is a new word for many of us. From what I’ve read (briefly) it is similar to public affairs, but its purpose is not merely to inform. Public diplomacy is conducted to inform AND influence a targeted audience.

Public Diplomacy is usually conducted abroad. It is a favourite exercise of the US, e.g. during deployment in afghanistan. PD is used to ensure understading among the local people on the policy and peaceful intent of a mission. They do this through the media, and communication with the local people.

Personally, PD would be similarly effective exercise for our own PR practitioner, especially in furthering the aspiration and vision of the government. Prior to employing PD, prior criterias have to be fulfilled. There need to be clear guidelines and policy on what we’re trying to project to the people, understanding the impact of selected activities, and consistent through the monitor of progress. It’s about strategic communication.

PD would indeed be an interesting topic for discussion. And if any of you have anything to say about it, please do share with us. I’m craving for your views on this.

Behave Confidently, To Be Confident.

I know it sounds like a mind-twister but that is exactly what we have to do if we ever want to be confident in whatever we do. So how can we behave confidently? Well, there are five procedures to follow:

front seat

1. Be a Front Seater

The next time you have a function to attend, make sure you seat yourself as close as possible to the front. Confident people should not hide at the back seats. They should be at the front.

eye contact

2. Eye-Contact.

Make sure you establish eye contact when speaking to someone. This alert others that you’re sure of yourself. If you avoid eye contact, it will just signal shyness.

walk fast

3. Walk Fast.

Walking fast and head high up illustrate someone with a mission and confident. If you slouch and lag behind, it will be deemed as lack of self-esteem and purpose.

Speak-Up

4. Speak Up.

Speaking up is another trait of someone with great confidence. If you speak with a soft voice, that is hardly seen as confidence in the making. So speak up!

smile wide

5. Smile Wide!

Above all smile wide. It is only after a wide smile, will you have the strength and confidence to face anything that comes your way.

Make sure you practice all these procedures on a daily basis. And I promise you, confidence with become a visible part of you.

8hrs Sleep is Essential!

Good sleep habits are essential to a strong immune system. A good night’s sleep might also be the best way to prevent colds and flu.

Researchers from Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh exposed people to a cold virus (rhinovirus) and found that those who slept 8 hours a night were 300 percent less likely to catch colds than those who slept less than 7 hours, or restless sleepers.

Other studies found that inadequate sleep promotes weight gain, heart attach, high blood pressure, stroke and diabetes. (Archives Internal Medicine, 169:62-67, 2009)

This was indeed quite a shocker for me, someone who has always been told that those above 20+ of age only need 6hrs of sleep. Luckily I came across the article in For Women! Fitness Rx magazine.

So for those of you out there, make sure u punch in 8hrs of sleep per day. It’s not only good for you immune system, but it will also help to alleviate those bags under your eyes!

sleep

Know who you are to know what you can achieve.

whoru

A recent seminar brought to my attention the concept of Personal Brand. It is an element that adds value to the brand or reputation of an organisation, derived from the person running the show or business. Usually it is associated with the leader of an organisation.

I’ve always believed that in the mission of sustaining solid and credible reputation, it has to start from the people themselves. Beginning from the leaders and cascaded to the supporting staff on the ground.

Now, the most difficult task is the HOW.

How do we establish and solidify our own personal brand in order to augment or boost the good name of our organisation? What exactly do we need to do?

Base on my observation, a well respected and sustainable personal brand largely depends on the personality and attitude  of the leader. Personally, for a person to leave a positive mark or aura, they have to behave in a way that is acceptable by others. Like the saying “treat people how you wish to be treated yourself.” This is a useful quote to use in reminding us how we should conduct ourselves in the presence of others.

I’ve noticed in my few years of employment with staff working under me, they are happier and more productive when I acknowledge their hard work and empathise with any shortcoming they may face, be in at work or even outside of work.

Sometimes, when so engrossed with work overloads, leaders tend to forget that workers are still human. Eveything and anything they do can easily be affected by certain variables that goes on in their respective lives. Just because a worker under-perform doesn’t mean he or she is lazy or incapable. There could be other reasons, beyond work, that caused the worker to slack, probably unintentionally.

Therefore, it is essential that leaders and workers alike treat each other in a more human manner. We all have issues and problems, but in making a difference we can tackle whatever challenges we encounter together.

I’ve always found that “working like a family” does wonder for productivity. Working and caring may sounds sappy, but it is how we can ensure leaders and workers work side by side in a more friendly and motivated environment. Just look at how children perform better when parents reward they good efforts through encouring words, hugs, or even star stickers! The idea is ensure good efforts or work are warranted with appropriate recognition and motivation.

Another crucial criteria in emanating positive and credible personal brand is how well a leader perform in bringing about change within an organisation. This includes they leadership qualities, intra- and interpersonal skills, visions forward, values and charisma. These qualities are indeed a package for an ideal leader, not many have it, but few do.

It is important that characteristics such as these are nurtured continously. It is part of the delicate process of uncovering respected and effective leaders.

There are many more ways we can use to establish our own personal brand. But one thing for sure, it takes a lot of effort and strong dedication. And that in itself is the greatest challenge that you can face in this particular mission. Again, the outcome will depend on how you, as a leader, is able to exude and act upon your best qualities and at the same time to optimise resources around you. It would indeed be an interesting journey. And I, for one, am enjoying the ride so far! So why don’t you give it a try too!

Empowerment is just an illusion.

Empowerment-Zone

A lot of people make attempts to relate to empowerment without really understanding what it truly means. One way of looking at empowerment is that it is a multi-dimensional social process that helps people gain control over their own lives. It is a process that fosters power in people for use in their own lives, their communities and in their society, by acting on issues they define as important. Additionally, empowerment is the process of increasing the capacity of individuals or groups to make choices and to transform those choices into desired actions and outcomes

In a nutshell, empowerment is not what other people can give to you. It is about you making your own choices and  by your own ways on how you wish to live your life. Now that is true empowerment.

Putting aside the definition of the word, is it really possible that one can truly and realistically feel empowered? Or is it just make-believe? An illusion that seems to give us an excuse for not being the best that we can be? How can one really be empowered?

Empowerment, empowered, empowering or to empower are all words meaning, in my own definition, to have a power to do something. Power here is an entity that is more internal rather than external. Internal meaning, it is what a person feels inside, something that is quite synonymous to confidence, wits, visionary and belief all at once. When looking at that way, it is quite an amazing word. Too amazing to comprehend for an ordinary being to even aspire for. But yet, not impossible.

Earlier in the month, I attended a forum that touched on the role of women today and how the word empowerment was constantly referred to women’s changing role. Personally, even before the forum I couldn’t really get a grasp on how I can truly be empowered. I certainly don’t feel empowered. This is probably my lack of understanding of being empowered.

Today, quite suddenly and unexpectedly, it just hit me. Empowerment lies with my own self. It is how I face the world, goodtimes and badtimes, and still manage to stand tall and pursue after what I believe in. The influence of being empowered cannot be diminished by people or surrounding that act as resistance to it. The influence and power still lies and always will and always has been with the individual being empowered.

With that new revelation, I experience a new outlook on things around me. I’ve been feeling quite out of sort with my surrounding, feeling that I was just incapacitated to do anything at all. But somehow, my mind seems to have re-focused itself and I feel a sense of calmness.

I guess my problem is that I always try too hard to change my surrounding. Every single waking moments, I feel I just need to do something to change the world. I know my limitations. And it is within that recognised limitations that I can still make a difference. But for the last few weeks, things just got harder and new insights revealed that seem to act as hindering blocks to my quest to save the world, or save what is closest to my surrounding that is.

Anyhow, I’m totally at peace with myself. I just forgot that changing the world will take time, and I have to expect resistance to it, eventhough those resistance initially claimed to be my alliance in my quest. I just have to keep my own thoughts and vision intact. If I begin to falter, then all is lost.

So to all of you out there, if you happen to fall into that brief moment of forgetting what you aspire to do. Please just take a breather, relax yourself, and try to refocus again on what matters most. Life is a roller-coaster, it has its ups and downs. So just sit back when you get to the down part, and rejoyce when you get to the up part. But most importantly, just don’t lose yourself in the journey.

Anger.. What’s the point?

Emotion is a very complex matter. And different people handle it in a completely different way. Anger is the most hazardous emotion of all. It not only has the potential to hurt oneself but also others whom we’re angry at, both physically and mentally.

For me the feeling of anger is more visible when we’re at that younger age. Youth seems to have excess of everything, energy, creativity, innovation, strength and even emotions. So in regards to emotions, when youth experience a particular feeling, it is usually in the most extreme way.

Anger is the most dangerous emotion to be feeling in extreme. When on gets angry, you experience an adrenaline rush throughout the whole body, which will consequently produce not so good outcome. We get blood rush to our face and head, our hands and legs become so light as if ready to punch, kick or pounce on the person we’re angry at or just a nearby scapegoat, then our minds become dishevelled with violent thoughts!! I’m sure everyone have experienced this. During the moment of feeling anger, yes it does feel good. But it’s the outcome which we usually end up regretting.

anger

For me, during my younger years, especially when I started working, I noticed that I got angry a lot and quite frequent. Mainly angry about how other people don’t do what they’re supposed to do or angry about other people incapability to think the way I think. Well, these are some of the example of course. But the ultimate launching pad for my angry emotion is when people behave in double-standard manner!! urrrgggghhhh.. that can really set me off, still!

Whatever the issues are, there will always be something we don’t approve of and one that might cause us to be angry. But after thinking about it, and with a little bit of maturing going on, sometimes I just don’t think it’s worth it to even get angry about. Especially when anger cause your blood pressure to shoot up and may cause your heart to over pump blood and stop functioning!! hmmmm…

Once again, it’s never a good or beneficial idea to get angry when things just don’t turn out the way you want it to. And it’s wrong to expect things to be perfect all the time. It’s like Murphy’s Law, where if thing can go wrong, it will go wrong. Probably, for some it would be too much to ask to just look at things on the lighter and happier side. Honestly, what do you truly gain by being angry all the time at everyone?? Nothing much really, except you will end up having the person you’re angry at feeling uncomfortable and probably hating your guts for it and also causing your own health to deteriorate from over-excitement.

So the next time you feel angry at something or someone, try to rethink your reaction. What will you gain from getting angry?? Nothing at all. So cheer up and just go with the flow. People tend to respond better and be more sincere to a happier person than to an angry person. So just remember to put on your smiling face the next time you go out and meet people. Do smile and laugh more, as it’s the medicine for a healthier heart!

smile

Leadership is about giving back the power

Recently I saw a video about this guy “Bob” sharing his experience as a leader and his definition of leadership. I was deeply intrigued by what he shared and I think it is something that I need to share with everyone who reads my blog.

This guys simply said that you’re either a leader or your not. It is not something you can force someone to have. And whether you’re a bad or great leader is defined by how you manage your ‘power’.

He said, being a leader is about giving power back. Many leaders experience failure in their leadership simply because they retain the power for themselves. Power is deemed an important commodity for a leader, and for some, to let it go, would be compromising their leadership position– hence there is ego involved in this context. Alternatively, very few leaders would agree that being a leader means they have to give back power to the people so that the impact will be significant and holistic– in this instance, the leaders would be illustrating humility.

My personal understanding on this concept of ‘giving back power’ basically means empowering those under your care in order to enable their optimal performance and confidence in executing their tasks. I am a high believer of this theory. I believe people need to be empowered, like a child needs motivation whenever they do a task well. Empowerment means being given trust, which in turns raises sense of responsibility and accountability to do well and achieve the targeted goal. Empowerment is also a path towards self-fulfilment or actualisation. Empowerment acts as a stimulus for putting in the extra effort and energy into a task with the objective of achieving above average performance.

So for those leaders out there, please consider this notion of “giving back power”or empowerment. As a leader, you don’t have to do everything yourself. You can empower people and share the burdens and glories.

 

2015

With every new year, most people would take the time to reflect and create “new years resolutions” as an important milestone or targeted achievement for that year.

I fall into that category of people.. Well at least many years ago.

The present me, just don’t bother with making resolutions but rather be focused on the things I have done and whether I should continue to do those things or direct my energy elsewhere.

I do think about the future and inagine how I wish it to be.. But more importantly, I am more concerned with the present and reflect on the ‘right’ way to approach each task accordingly.

Overall, I have so much to look forward to in the new year especially seeing my kids grow, learn and eventually achieve their own successes in their lives.

I pray the present and the future will continue to be filled with bliss, prosperity, continous good health, peace and harmony for everyone. Amen…

Happy 2015!!

Private Clinics in Brunei

With a toddler and child to look after, it is important to always have handy the contacts and details if all private clinic.. (as I am not keen to wait in queue for hours at the public clinic, not with a sick child at least).

So here to share with everyone (and as a reference for myself as well) are details of some of the clinics I usually visit during those emergency moments:

1. Klinik TK Chhan (Kiarong branch)
Tel: 2422142

Open:
Mon – Sat: 0900-1130hrs / 1400-1630hrs
Night Clinic (Mon-Fri): 1900-2030hrs
Sunday/ Public Holiday: closed

2. Klinik Dr Amir (Serusop branch)
Tel: 2336801

Open:
Mon – Sat: 0815-1200hrs / 1400-1700hrs
Fri: 1430-1700hrs
Sunday: 0830-1100hrs
Night Clinic (Mon-Sun): 1900-2100hrs
Public Holiday: closed

3. Lee Clinic & Dispensary
(Kiulap branch)
Tel: 2228338 / 2238338

Mon – Fri: 0800-1200hrs / 1330-16300hrs/ 1830-2100hrs
Sat: 0800-1200hrs / 1330-1630hrs
Sunday: 0830-1130hrs

(Gadong branch)
Tel: 2428428/ 2438438

Mon – Sat: 0800-1430hrs / 1830-2100hrs
Sunday: 0830-1130hrs

4. Yong Clinic & Dispensary
(Serusop branch)
Tel: 2338657

Mon – Fri: 0800-1200hrs / 1400-2100hrs
Sat: 0800-1200hrs / 1400-1700hrs
Sunday: 0900-1200hrs
Public Holiday: closed

Below are the contact detail of the other medical facilities (public and private) in Brunei:

A. HOSPITALS

1. RIPAS Hospital (Raja Isteri Pengiran Anak Saleha Hospital)
Bandar Seri Begawan
Tel: +673.224.2424
Emergency: 991 / +673.238.0402

2. PIHM Hospital (Pengiran Isteri Hajah Mariam Hospital)
Jalan Labu, Mukim Bangar, Temburong
Tel: +673.522.1526
Emergency: +673.522.1255

3. Tutong Hospital
Jalan Sungai Basong, Pekan Tutong
Tel: +673.422.1010
Emergency: +673.422.1355

4. SSB Hospital (Suri Seri Begawan Hospital)
Jalan Bunga Raya, Kuala Belait
Tel: +673.333.5331
Emergency: +673.333.2555

B. MEDICAL CENTRE/CLINICS

1. Gleneagles JPMC Sdn Bhd
Jerudong Park, BSB BG3122
Tel: +673.261.1883 / +673.888.0111
Fax: +673.261.1886
Email: gj@gleneaglesjpmc.com.bn
Office Hours: 24hrs

2. Hart Medical Clinic
4, 1st Floor, Wisma Setia, Jalan Pemancha, BSB BS8811
A-2, Ground Floor, Mentiri Complex, Jalan Kota Batu, BSB BS1929
Tel: +673.222.5531 / +673.279.3800
Fax: +673.279.3900
Email: drharis@brunet.bn
Office Hours: Mon – Sat, 8:00 – 11:45 at Bandar Branch, 16:00 – 21:00 at Mentiri Branch, after hours by appointment only
Dr. Haris HUSEIN (M.B., B.S. 1990, PGC AvMed. 2005)

3. Jerudong Park Medical Centre
Jerudong Park, BSB BG3122
Tel: +673.261.1433
Fax: +673.261.2461
Emergency: +673.261.2612 / +673.717.2172
Email: marketing@jpmc.com.bn
Office Hours: 24hrs

4. Kuin Mee Clinic
72, 1st Floor, Jalan Roberts, BSB BS8711
Tel: +673.224.3546
Fax: +673.223.5490
Email: kuinmeeclinic@gmail.com
Office Hours: Mon – Sat, 8:30 – 12:00 & 14:00 – 18:00, Sun, 9:00 – 11:30, certain Public Holidays, 9:00 – 12:00 & 14:00 – 17:00
Dr. Joshuanika JAAFAR (M.B ChB (UK) 1999, Msc PHC 2007, MRCGP [INT])

5. Sing Clinic
1, Bangunan PIF, Spg. 27, Jalan Gadong, BSB BE4119
14, Block B, Kompleks Al-Barakah, Kg. Sengkurong B, BSB BG1321
Tel: +673.245.7161
Fax: +673.245.7161
Email: borneo01@brunet.bn
Office Hours: 24hrs at Bandar Branch, 08:00 – 21:00 at Sengkurong Branch
Dr. Wan Bazli WAN SEMANI (M.B., B.S. 1999, Msc 2010)
Dr. FOONG Chan Keong (M.B., B.S., MCGPS, Diploma OFSTD/AIDS)

*Please note that most private clinics will be closed at certain public holidays.