In Pictures: The Festival of Lights at Little India, Singapore

Little India, Singapore, Festival of Lights 2017

A significant festival in the Indian culture, Deepavali or Diwali is known as the Festival of Lights. Derived from the Sanskrit word, Deepavali, which means “a row of lights”, the festival is celebrated by the Hindu, Sikh and Jain communities across the world to mark the triumph of light over darkness and good over evil. Did you know that Deepavali falls on different days each year, usually either in October or November, and is decided upon by the Lunar Hindu Calender?

Every year ahead of Deepavali, the beautiful enclave of Singapore’s Little India comes alive with the colourful arches of lights and the wondrous treasure trove of the annual Deepavali Festival Village.

We checked out the buzzing bazaar and the busy streets of Little India to bring you the colourful sights of this beautiful Festival of Lights. Enjoy!



bring me a higher low.

This article is contributed by an uninspired, uninfluenced, and uber unnoyed netizen who understands she is ranting about a #firstworldphenomenon.

As a Marketing professional, part of my job is to try and keep my job.

It used to be so much easier, back in the day, when there was just that few traditional local channels to bet our advertising budget on.

Got a product for the English-speaking young urban professionals? okay, we’ll buy a print ad in the papers, a string of radio commercials on morning drive time, and a FPFC ad on some trendy publications. Oh, you wanna get the Chinese-speaking housewives? No problem, Thursday coupon ad-space for you it is. You’re peddling cosmetics? How’s about a billboard on Orchard Road, with a building-wrap of your fully photoshopped testimonial campaign fronted by the hottest TV artiste media darling currently on the 9pm show.

Today, we’re slicing up that advertising budget pie and having to squeeze it – by the chunks and the crumbs – into a smorgasbord of audience channels – each with its own complex set of data, returns and accountabilities. Sorting out digital channels alone has taken us a decade – a decade full of disruptions mind you – not to mention matching talents to brands, and managing celeb endorsements which is a whole other kettle of fish.


INFLUENCER is defined as: (n) a person or group that has the ability to influence the behaviour or opinions of others: The influencer is the individual whose effect on the purchase decision is in some way significant or authoritative.

In the summer of 2015, (I’m pegging it to the success of DW – a defining moment in influencer marketing), it was like media added a new train station, but forgot to invite us to the launch. Clients started asking Marketing depts for their “IG strat”, demanding that their products be featured on the social media feeds of “influential members of society”.

Guided – I’m afraid – only by gut-feel, rigged data, poor research, and a sense of desperation, brands seem to be throwing money and/or products into a numbers game, proud of themselves for having out-sourced, piecemeal, their content strategy, and hiding under the safety blanket that in any case, it’s only a small spend for a fan shout-out vs a big spend for an ambassador.

Hey brands, I got news for you. Aligning yourselves with the wrong influencers can really hurt your brand equity! 


You can imagine my horror (and amusement kekeke) when some of these social ticking bombs started to go off. Come, let’s all be reminded of the Faves Asia fail. and the one where a blogger asked for free haircut, got denied, threatened the salon, then claimed she got hacked? and (I’m surprised no one has mentioned this) the recent strong of shitty v-log endorsements of this cosmetic brand that starts with R and rhymes with immel?


We all have that pool of “uncool” acquaintances/relatives that we keep around (mostly because we have to) and we don’t like to admit it, but whatever they buy / say / do, we make a secret point to buy / say / do the opposite. I call them the unfluencers.

Apply this life-skill when selecting influencers pls.

Instead of being distracted by shiny stats, like number of followers, and number of likes, I implore you to implore your marketing person / agency to scratch a little harder and dig a little deeper. There are even tools that can help you weed out spammier accounts so you don’t fall for aesthetics.


Sounds a little dramatic, but I wish there was a FLUENCER POLICE VIGILANTE BODY, who would help us call out #uninfluencer s.


to be continued

5 Things We Could Really Use Answers To

The whos, whats, whys and hows. 

There have been a lot going on these past few weeks. We’ve seen local gems unearthed and seen bright youths of our nation go to university to learn twisted versions of sexual education. These are things going on about our tiny island that we could use some answers to.

  • Nathan Hartano
    Let’s get things off with a question on the lips (or in the minds) of the fairer gender in Singapore. Who is this Nathan Hartano and where did he come from?If you haven’t already heard from the women folk in Singapore, be it your mother, sister, girlfriend, wife, colleague, Teh-o aunty or the Nasi Padang Makcik then let me enlighten you. The story goes like this, he’s a Singaporean that auditioned for Chinese reality programme Sing! China.

    This guy auditioned for a spot only hoping to walk away with a “Cool Story” to tell. He kinda messed it all up there and walked away with Jay Chou in tow as his mentor. Obviously from his name itself, you can tell that he’s got Indonesian roots. He’s a local boy true and true though, and despite having won quite a number of competitions locally, we’ve never heard or seen him in any mainstream platforms.

    Could this be a pendulum in what’s to come for aspiring singers in Singapore? Should we all be attending local singing competitions and begin rubbing shoulders with potential stars? – Actually that idea not bad.

  • SMRT, so you public, government or private? Who’s fixing what though?
    So we’ve all heard by now that SMRT are soon to be privatised as Temasek Holdings up the ante to purchase SMRT and their assets. Temasek Holdings have tabled a bid of $1.18 billion to acquire the recent bane of public transport. Shareholders of SMRT aren’t too happy apparently, because $1.18 billion is a lot of money and they need to know how much pie each and everyone of them should get (also known as dividends). Also because this pie came as a surprise, nobody told these shareholders there would be any pie after dinner.

    But what does this all mean for the public? For the people that actually ride the train? Well you can prepare for absolutely nothing in the short-term. There won’t be instant change to the infrastructure but there are works in the pipeline! These works will not include any cuts to the current fare. However it could spell an overhaul to the framework with privatisation.

    SMRT going private will mean that the company will now be a listed entity and will have to comply with listing regulations. It will also mean that SMRT won’t have to keep a constant eye on providing profit for their shareholders in the short-term.

    What that means is that you will see an improvement in efficiency which for the past few years have been all we as citizens that commute via the railway have been crying for. No more breakdowns, announcements and adventure walks through the train tracks, just a train that functions better than it’s currently doing. It also means your fare per trip is likely to increase. Hey you win some you lose some, at least one ride doesn’t cost 4 euros (I’m looking at you Finland).


  • Are NUS camps the Tinder of real life?
    If you’ve watched Van Wilder, Harold and Kumar, or any film about life in University, you won’t be wrong to assume that Universities are where “it’s” at. With “it” being testosterone filled young adults with too much freedom and a ridiculous sense of enthusiasm about the future (their future). It isn’t exactly where you go to get an education, after all we’ve all heard of the Gates, Jobs and Zuckerbergs of the world. Has University turned into a place you go to learn that all the morals your parents and teachers have thought you are unwanted and old fashioned?

    So for the second year running, there have been complaints from students and parents about the overly sexualised activities that take place during NUS orientation camps. “One was asked whose bodily fluids she would like to drink, while another watched her peers re-enact an incestuous rape scene.” – That was the headline for a Straits Times article. Think about that, they were forced to role-play an incestuous scene. I’ve always assumed that educating our youth about the dilution of genetics through inbreeding would be covered by the parents of these said youth, and wouldn’t be included in any extra curricular curriculum (Guess I was wrong).

    These youth were taken into a room and asked a series of questions, among them, questions such as “Who’s the sluttiest” and “Which male bodily fluid would you drink”. That sounds pretty much like a hazing for a fraternity or sorority. What ever happened to good old trust falls and bonfires?


  • Pokemon GO – the game hasn’t even been released in Singapore yet the hype has gone off the charts.
    The general public has swung both ways with this one. The chatter in both yay or nay tribes have been vibrant and buzzing. We’ve seen an Australian man lose his job after going full Char-retard with not being able to play the game in Singapore. There’ve also been countless stories of kids and adults getting injured or trespassing in their bid to catch ‘em all. And it’s these stories that have fuelled the nay tribe with copious amounts of security concerns rivalling that of a real and imminent threat that goes by the name of ISIS.

    Pokemon GO has pretty much taken over the planet despite far more pressing matters to deal with such as hunger, poverty, terrorist attacks, Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton. It’s been increasingly fearful and ridiculous how a single game to catch monsters in an augmented reality has stolen the show. It’s also worrying how much air-time has been given to the entire game and a bid to monitor players in Singapore.

    Yes, security concerns are a pressing issue in this day and age, but it is just a game. It’s not difficult to understand that we can’t have “Pokemon Masters” climbing into the Istana to catch a Caterpie or load up on poke balls. However there are ways to remove sensitive areas from the game in it’s entirety. Policing this entire fracas would only see more policemen wearing shorts and riding bicycles ushering groups of children and adults with faces glued to their phones from one poke stop to the next. And we all know we’ve seen enough of those shorts-wearing, bicycle-riding police officers.


  • AHTC – What’s actually going on?
    Finally we move to our dear opposition leaders – Workers Party. This saga has gone from AHPTC to AHTC, that’s how long this has dragged on for. We’ve seen the Workers Party try to drag themselves out of the mud ever since they still had Punggol under their charge. Losing Punggol could even be tied back to the saga in itself.

    The Workers Party have given Incumbents PAP ammunition to fire. KPMG, auditors of the ongoing saga have published their findings and identified problems that Minister Shanmugan made comments on. In his comments, the minister said, AHTC’s lapses were found by their auditors to be not isolated, but rather “pervasive” and “systemic”. In relation to the finding that AHTC used shortcuts to process millions of dollars in payments to related parties and “dummy” vendor codes used for payments.

    Have the Workers Party really been playing their Aljunied residents? Minister Shanmugan believes that they have. Mr Singh of the Workers Party believes otherwise. He responded that “In fact, AHTC had specifically requested KPMG to publish the 70 additional lapses it identified in the course of its engagement since April 2016, even though KPMG had not intended to detail them in its report. The remedial measures AHTC has undertaken since the 70 additional lapses were identified are also highlighted in the July report.”

    That hasn’t stopped the public, especially Workers Party supporters getting in on this. Many believe that the Workers Party have absolutely nothing to hide despite the saga dragging on and even displaying detrimental effects to their campaign bids. All in all it is one thing to support your party, but it looks like some supporters have taken their disinterest in the PAP a little too much. Displaying the exact same ardent support and mentality that they’ve labeled PAP supporters of doing.

    It’s one thing to support your party and their ideals, but sometimes when something goes wrong, you can admit there’s been a lapse and look to fix it. If not later you lose more acronyms while this saga drags on.



The Curious Case of


The Short Story: Remember the BB By-Elections? There were Cooling-Off Day breaches which casted the spotlight on some people, and some socio-political sites, namely: The Independent Singapore.

The Sub-Plot: It was supposed to be a twosome; a PAP vs SDP kinda scenario, but allofasuddenoutofnowhere, WP came to play.

The Plot-Twist: with his smarts, WP’s Leon Perera gets away with it.


Screen Shot 2016-06-10 at 4.20.33 PM
I don’t know what the question is, but my answer is “nope”

The Curious Case: Workers’ Party’s Leon Perera said he is not involved in the management and operations of socio-political site. Mr Perera, who is on the WP’s top decision-making central executive committee, also said that he is not a member of the website’s board of directors. He is, however, a minority shareholder whose role, he said, is limited to “providing occasional advice on long-term business strategy, not on editorial decisions or content”. Source.

His statement comes a day after People’s Action Party’s Tan Wu Meng said this:

Screen Shot 2016-06-10 at 4.22.12 PM

noting Mr Perera’s links to The Independent Singapore “was not declared in WP’s statement”. “Given this, WP should be aware that it could be seen as having an interest in the outcome of the investigation, and that every effort should be made by WP to avoid the impression that WP is trying to interfere with the investigation,” he said.

The Facts: Mr Perera is a shareholder of Protegesoft company, which owns The Independent Singapore. He is one of six shareholders in the company, and owns 2 million of the company’s 8.51 million shares, according to official records. He is also listed as a member of the website’s advisory board.

Er, What is Cooling-Off Day? And what did do?:

Cooling Off Day definition:

Screen Shot 2016-06-10 at 4.33.19 PM

The Elections Department said The Independent Singapore continued to post such material even after receiving a specific reminder from the Assistant Returning Officer not to do so. “Given the blatant disregard of the (rules) in the Bukit Batok by-election, the Assistant Returning Officer decided to make police reports so that the police could investigate,” the ELD said in a joint statement with the police.

Other People Who Also “Kenna”: Besides The Independent Singapore, blogger Roy Ngerng and former political detainee Teo Soh Lung are also being investigated as both also made posts on Cooling-Off Day.

For more of such stories, follow us on Facebook and Instagram


SMART nation, not-so-SMART civil service

In case you haven’t heard, all public servants will be disconnected from the internet from May next year.


Here’s what we think:

Walao their job already so hard, now the guys on top are trying to make it harder?

The Government has the aim to move to a SMART nation by digitizing using technology to make everyday tasks simpler. As a country we may have taken a step forward, as a public service, they have taken a step back to further disconnect themselves from the internet.

This move signals mistrust between decision makers (who might be granted exemption anyway) and the rest of the lowly public servants.

The move was aimed to curb the leakage of info and introducing viruses to the system by clicking on questionable links and attachments. Just FYI, since May, there has been a block on all external email or web chat websites for all public servants. Isn’t that sufficient to curb the leakage of info? If the rest of the sites serve as info gathering instead of info sharing, why cut them off?

Intentions to keep leaks minimal are good, but the overkill move to disconnect public servants from the internet is simply a sign of mistrust.

Anyway, how do public servants then connect to the ground by disconnecting themselves from the internet?

Eh TRE, Sorry no cure!

TR Emeritus has once again stepped on toes.

TRE: irresponsible reporting sounds horn

TRE: apologises
CHT: says “sorry no cure”


Here’s our take on what alternative news sites should do:

  1. Give opinions, or unreported facts. Not their version of ‘facts’. Facts are facts. Lies do not make alternative news; lies make fictitious news. Alternative news sites are welcome to give their take on things, or any censored facts, if any. But spreading lies should not be the aim of alternative news sites. Any news site, mainstream or alternative, should aim to inform the public. Not to deceive the public.
  2. Verify facts.People write in to the site once it gets famous enough, and they have news to share via the site. Sure, but it is also the responsibility of the alternative news site to verify whatever they publish. It isn’t about censorship, but responsibility to their readers to provide factual news. Once again, inform, not deceive.
  3. Set people thinking, not deliberately sow discord.Sure, some alternative news sites were set up to support the opposition and keep the Government in check. But spreading lies about the Government and the ruling party is not keeping the Government in check; it is simply mud-slinging. Alternatives are about giving an alternate view on the matter, not the view on a completely fictitious matter. It’s easy to use discord to get eyeballs, and sell ads on the site. It brings in good money, but it’s highly unethical. Should an alternative news site sacrifice credibility and ethics for money?

Woman scolds cleaner with disability, Grassroots leader?

First off, no.

It has been clarified, the woman is not a Grassroots leader.

Secondly, just because she appears at events and takes pictures with her MPs does not make her a grassroots leader. Events are held for residents, not for grassroots leaders. Unknown to some trolls on the internet, residents  who are not grassroots leaders do actually attend these events.

It isn’t uncommon for residents to take pictures with the MP either.

By the way, wearing an event t-shirt isn’t a sign either. These shirts are meant for all participants and usually come with the event ticket. Anyone can buy them off the counter. PA Counter staff don’t scrutinize the resident or judge them of character before they sell them tickets.

What she did was wrong, it is right that we condemn her actions. But for opportunist anti-establishment, don’t use it as a way to make everything PAP’s fault.

She isn’t a grassroots leader, and she doesn’t represent PAP.

Perhaps this isn’t just a post for this incident, but all future incidents, when people decide to be the vigilante and jump to conclusions that someone is a grassroots leader.

The Black dot on Pink dot

Pink dot is back again for it’s 9th year, this Saturday.

Banner from Pink Dot’s Facebook Page

Here are some of our thoughts, suitable for those wearing pink or white or really any other color (we don’t discriminate) tomorrow.

Pink dot what one might call the protest for the ability to love freely. We agree with the cause. Because as a maturing society, we should be more accepting of people of diverse orientations, cultures, beliefs – everything.

We support everyone’s liberty to love as we deem fit, and not be criminalised for it. At some point in time, everyone must have experienced the process of self discovery and the insecurity of it all. Now, pause and think how it is like for those with a different sexual orientation from the norm.

We could say that it is not a debate about gay rights, but more one of the individual’s moral liberty. It is not a debate about whether gay sex is right or wrong. It is a debate about the freedom to engage in it privately without being prosecuted.

However, what are the consequences if Singapore actually does repeal the law? The following is our hypothesis:

1. Society polarises

We cannot deny that on this issue, there is a divide in society. There are 2 sides, if I may generalize – the liberals and conservatives. Chances are there are significant numbers on both sides. Every time we have a debate on this issue, people tend to stand on 2 sides of the house and there is hardly room for a middle ground on this issue. Just look at what happened with the Pink dot vs Wear White movement.

2. Gays would be singled out

If the repeal succeeds, the conservatives will rage. This may lead to the singling out of gay individuals and condemning their actions, thus possibly hurting them even more. As it is, there has been much criticism towards homosexuality. If the repeal is successful, those against the repeal might take their unhappiness out on those who are not heterosexual.

3. Push for gay marriage will follow

As previously mentioned, the current debate is on the freedom to love. Legalization of gay marriage is a separate topic altogether. It is then a question of whether society is willing to legitimatise and accept the idea of homosexuality. Once again, society will be divided on the issue. Where does society intend to draw the line? And furthermore, who is to decide who should draw the line?


As ironic as it sounds by not repealing the section in the penal code, we are indirectly protecting them from potential singling out by the other side of society that disagrees with the repeal.

And for what purpose actually? Are gays now being stoned to death? Do they face severe opposition? Would they be better off with 377A repealed, or kept status quo? We’re not trying to diminish the stigma they face in society, but little has been done to threaten their existence. We hope this will change, but is this the way to go?

Maybe in the future when a larger part society is willing to accept it, we should repeal the section. It’s probably not a question of will we or will we not repeal it, but more of when is the right time to repeal the section.

We would not want to prematurely shift society and end up with 2 polar sides of society.

Is it really all that pink after all? Maybe it’s time to take off the rose tinted glasses and have a closer look at the issue.



Terrorism threats from foreign workers

Four radicalized Bangladeshi nationals pleaded guilty today to helping to finance terror attacks in Bangladesh, while another is contesting the charges against him.

When the news first broke, we saw Singaporeans raise concerns about having foreign workers here given the new risk they might possess. Some made mean and stereotypical jokes about how now all the Filipino maids are dumping their Bangladeshi boyfriends as a preemptive measure.

There were individuals who expressed sentiments like cutting off foreign worker intake to ensure that Singapore stays terror free.

In every society, there is a possibility of individuals or groups being radicalized with local or foreign agendas. With the internet and availability of radical propaganda, everyone is a target, everyone is a potential radicalized individual. That being said, we are not trying to perpetuate fear and suspicion, but the realization that everyone is vulnerable and that we should not approach our foreign friends or colleagues with suspicion that they might be radicalized individuals.

Most foreign workers come here to make an honest wage to feed their families at home, in hope for a better life. They do not come here to plot terrorist attacks back home, they work hard to ensure their families have food on the table and a roof over their heads. In many cases, they are more than considerate to Singaporeans, almost to a fault.

The above post is only one of many examples.

To paint all of them with the same brush and say that Singapore is terror free without their existence would be naive and very much mistaken.

Singapore Democratic Party (SDP) member Muhammad Shamin Mohamed Sidek 29, and Muhammad Harith Jailani, 18, were detained in August last year. Investigations showed that they had harboured the intention to make their way to Syria to join the terrorist group Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) and engage in violence there, MHA said.

Who said only foreigners can be radicalized?

Tl;dr: Stay vigilant, don’t stereotype, don’t be paranoid. It may only be a matter of time when a terrorist attack happens, not if it happens.

SOSD: Saving Street Dogs, one at a time

In recent years, the public has become more aware and more compassionate towards stray dogs. Previously, when there were complaints, AVA would be notified to take action, which meant the culling of these animals. Now, the public has the option of informing animal activists, who lend a helping hand, feeding and adopting strays, so as to preserve the sanctity of life.


One of them is Dr Siew Tuck Wah, President of SOSD. Short for Save our Street Dogs, SOSD started off as an informal group of stray feeders. Under his leadership, in four years, it now has 400 volunteers working in teams that take care of everything from kennels, transport, fundraising to social media. They work with the aim of improving the lives of stray dogs by going on dog rescue missions, taking strays or abandoned dogs to their shelter at Pasir Ris Farmway 2, and rehabilitating them with the goal of finding them a home.

#ForSingapore talks to Dr Siew about the work he does for SOSD, the challenges of working in animal welfare in Singapore and how Singaporeans can be kinder to animals and people around them.

How did you get started with SOSD?

S: There was this bite incident at Punggol, and I thought, “Poor thing, all the dogs are going to die” as they were going to be culled by AVA. Then, another thought – it’s hard to say, people will think you’re crazy – “Call Channel NewsAsia and tell them your point of view.” I called, then rescued the dogs. From there, people knew me and in 2012, SOSD members wanted me to join as their President.

At that time SOSD was very informal. There were less than 10 members, all stray feeders. When I joined, I rented a canal so we had our first shelter which could house 4 dogs. I paid, a few hundred dollars every month. I registered the group. We started using social media to expand our reach. In Jan 2013, we moved here (Pasir Ris Farmway 2) cos the woman ran away and we took over the shelter. We set up our volunteer programme, which now has 200 volunteers walking dogs. SOSD now has 400 volunteers, and is biggest programme in animal welfare in Singapore now. Then we started our outreach arm in 2014. We do a lot of outreach now, we do a lot of talks at primary schools, secondary schools, tertiary level and we go to old folks homes every week to bring therapy dogs there.

Are you doing this full-time?

Continue reading “SOSD: Saving Street Dogs, one at a time”