Time to introspect, people!

It should have been a perfect day with leisure visits to travel agencies to secure a trip for my incoming short getaway. The day was marred with some woman (40 or 50 something? Definitely not in her thirties) trying to hijack the personnel who was serving me.

See, the travel agency staff was in the middle of explaining to me about the itinery when the other woman interrupted her & threw a question.

Me interrupted, I glared at her. The tension escalated. The woman was too thick skin to realize it. The staff politely told her to wait as she was with the costumer.

The explanation ensued.

For a time being.

The thick-skinned woman barked her questions again. To exacerbate the situation, the staff chose to answer the woman's inquiries. I was freezed by anger. I fought the urge to stand up & shouted at her how ridiculous it is that her generation laments about the inconsiderate behaviour of the youngsters whereas she herself demonstrating the same flaw. Yes, I was disturbed by the reader' letter to the Sunday Times today.

At the same time, I was irritated by the staff who slighted me with her entertaining the other's questions. I decided to punish her first. As the thick-skinned woman asked her many questions, so did I. Simultaneously. Our questions overloaded the staff & inevitably confused her. As she smiled in doubt, I turned to the thick-skinned woman & asked her whether she left her manner at home.

I wish I could ask that with a smile. A sarcastic smile filled with pity that she's such a poor creature.

But I couldn't. I asked that question with an anger. I followed that question with yet another rhetorical question whether she knew how impolite it was to hijack the conversation. And whether she's deaf that she couldn't hear the staff earlier told her to wait.

She left in anger muttering some Chinese words (sore loser!). I was left fuming (I couldn't understand the Chinese words!).

Seriously, how it is that the youngsters are expected to be well behaved if the adults themselves are behaving badly too?!


Finally managed to borrow the graphic novel from Bishan Community Library. However, up to date only 21 copies have been bought by NLB. (Compare that to 48 copies of V for Vendetta, another graphic novel that also inspired a print-to-screen adaption.) So please, NLB do buy more of the book or please shorten the lending duration from 3 weeks to, say, 1 week.

Anyway. Back to the comic. Written & illustrated by Frank Miller, it is about the the Battle of Thermopylae where Spartan King Leonidas led his 300 soldiers against the invading army of Persia unleashed by King Xerxes--the army was said to be so huge in numbers that it "drank rivers dry". Man, King Xerxes must have had a headache in planning the logistic.

Needless to say about the outcome.

I like the simplistic artwork. Silhouettes are used effectively as if to portray the grim situation that the Spartans faced. A gentle note of caution, though, 300 depicts quite an amount of graphic violence (what do you expect from a war?) that will not make the comic appropriate for children.

fluffy marble

another fluffy cat in the neighbourhood? bet someone is breeding them... grrr

a neighbour found this cute kitty in a badly matted state but has cleaned her up and passed on to us to toilet train and look for an adopter. she is kind of timid at the moment, but adapting. very sweet face.

interested parties, please drop us a line.

(update: marble has been adopted!)

it was a stroke of luck. it did seem our 'for adoption' list is getting depressingly longer, but we have been told that ghim moh kitty facing eviction has found an adopter!

the benefits of pineapple juice

Leafty is constipated of late. and wouldn't you believe it, this is an amazing home remedy for rabbits - 5 ml of pineapple juice every hour as recommended by Lea and Pookah. odd but strangely effective.

Bak Bak gives our bunny a little love.

Will the lease ever gets topped up?

The Tiong Bahru Pre-War section was sold to the existing tenants around 1967 and the properties here were transacted like “PRIVATE” properties.

In 2003, it was awarded “CONSERVATION” status as these buildings have historical significance in Singapore’s history.

At the moment, the lease remaining is about 59 years and many buyers, particularly the younger ones, are affected by the CPF withdrawal limits. These rules were implemented by the Government to ensure that her citizens are able to live in the property till they are 80 years old.

The intention of our Government is primarily GOOD but these 2 events may have created a unintended barrier that prevents the place from achieving its true value.

While I am pro-conservation, I also recognized that the “Conservation Status” has effectively cut off the resident’s hope of obtaining a windfall through a collective sale exercise. There is no way they can get a developer to “reset” the lease to 99 years through a redevelopment proposal as the “conservation status” prevents that option.

So while other aging leasehold properties could negate the dwindling remaining lease through redevelopment, this place offers no such hope at the moment.

Maybe this could be the reason why many buildings that were built in the 70s are fast disappearing. The obvious and easiest way out to protect the owner’s assets is to tear it down and give it a new lease of life….not to mention a handsome profit as well. Not many will be so noble to let the lease run down and see their hard earn savings go down the drain.

Let’s explore the various possible scenarios that this place may have for the flat owners

Scenario One: No TOP UP lease
Nothing happens. Life goes on as normal. The Government is not obliged to top up the lease for these flat owners. All investment carries risk and all owners knew about the rules and regulation prior to purchasing these flats. They can still live in the flat for another 50 over years before the Government takes it back.

Scenario Two: The lease gets topped up
The lease gets topped up to 99 years again but residents are required to pay “market” rate to top up the lease. For those who are not gainfully employed or retired, the Government may allow them pay when they sell the property. They will be charged “interest” on that original “top up lease” amount.

With the lease topped up, the entire place will certainly experience a surge in prices as the buyer’s market widen and many more yuppies could afford to buy into this area.

However, this scenario has its problem as well. If the entire Singapore property market heads south after the “top up” exercise, “Negative equity” owners may have problem coming up with the “top up” money plus interest. But I am confident that our Government will be able a produce a good solution for everyone here.

Another factor to consider is that our Government CANNOT and WILL NOT be reckless in allowing the place to be topped up to 99 years without doing a thorough audit on the buildings. They must be very sure that these buildings can stand for another 100 years before allowing the topped up exercise.

The challenge here is to get all owners to co-operate and put up with the inconvenience of the building audit. After the audit, the rectification and repair exercise will definitely follow right after that. This is the part which will ruffle many feathers here as those with unauthorized renovations within their flat will probably be the most uncooperative ones.

But I guess this will be the bitter pill the residents here have to swallow before they get to enjoy the FRUIT.

Whatever the outcome may be, my sincere hope is for this place to prosper continuously and Tiong Bahru Estate can become yet another showcase to prove that “conservation” status does not always means being “shortchanged”.

Mastering Ritual/ Ceremony/ Performance

This post has been long overdue. I apologize, but I felt I had to take time to think about some of the things that were happening in art locally. For the first time in a long time you could hear people talking about an art event. The event was the opening of the new space at Institute of Jamaica (IOJ) as marked by the show Mastering Slavery. The show occurs in parts with one segment at The National Gallery and another at The Museums Division at IOJ and their newly renovated temporary exhibition space at the bottom of East Street. The opening event began with a lecture at IOJ and then guests were led around to the new spaces to see the work of local artists who had made a work to loosely commemorate the abolition of the Slave Trade. The whole event has been heard in whispers and is mostly remembered for the performance of a work by Christoper Irons. Irons an artist generally known for his shock factor did a performance and installation which has been called everything from animal sacrifice to kumina ceremony to performance art.

Irons was dressed as what I felt was a kind of shaman or mystic man in the manner reminiscent of Kapo or Joseph Beuys. Irons set up the space using drawings on the wall of the rustic ex-furniture factory, chicken pan grills, chicken carcasses, welded iron and programmes from his grandmothers funeral among other bits. The morning of the exhibition something like 13 chickens Irons raises himself, were led into the space and presented with a bakery style cake. The cake was of some age as I remember it from his work in the JCDC Festival. The chickens seemed to sense something in their present future as they all herded together and sat nestled and still until the performance. I left after that but I have heard many interpretations and explanations of the performance. If you were there and wish to describe your experience please post a comment.

The piece follows on another performance with the sacrifice of chickens done in Trinidad. To see a video of this performance on YouTube please visit this link:http://youtube.com/watch?v=u-zO9w91myc

I have to ask these questions however, if performance art happens abroad, should it happen here. Is it hypocrisy or censorship to allow some kinds of performance and not others? Does the killing of animals go over in Jamaica as art? Is there difficulty in absorbing a work that speaks about ritual without being reverent?
On the other hand I want to mention Khepera Oluyia Hatsheptwa’s work now on show at Mutual Gallery, which interestingly reminded me a lot of Christopher Irons’ work. The work is an installation in the middle of the gallery called ‘AmenRa’ and though evoking the human presence and culture of ritual and ceremony from our heritage uses objects. What do you think of the two works compared side by side as addressing ritual and ceremony?

Over at the National Gallery shortly after was one of the best openings I have been to in a while. The performances from Amina Blackwood-Meeks, Jesse Ripole Dancers and the Rasta Nation were really engaging.

The show had a large enough crowd and showed diversity of work from Renee Cox’s re-interpreted Last Supper to Marvin Bartley’s digital imagery to Charles Campbell’s really poetic paintings and Christopher Clare’s images. It is a very pleasing show which is almost overwhelming in its offerings and hope that you take the opportunity to experience it.

Keith Morrison, curator of the upcoming Curator’s Eye III at the National Gallery, today announced his exhibition theme. Coincidentally or not so much, it is ‘Ceremony, Ritual, Celebration ’. He invites all interested arts practitioners to think about and submit proposals for work to him in January when he next visits the island. Collaboration and cross-disciplinary work is encouraged. The idea is that the show has performance, multimedia, sculpture, paintings etc. that is ongoing and occurring at different times in during the exhibition. It is a very exciting time for art and artists so remember no to miss out.

The late 80's Tiong Bahru Market

Allow me walk you down memory lane today.

This was how the Tiong Bahru Market used to look like the the late 1980s.

It was crowded, messy and stuffy but it was GREAT!

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