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Gadgets Local Review Singapore

This New App Helps Bring Back Memories for Elderly with Dementia

Editor’s note: this article was first published on 3 October 2020 and has been updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness.

Sometimes, it’s hard to hold onto memories as the years go by, with items evolving to look nothing like how they used to look. Televisions of yesteryear consisted of large bulky boxes and grainy images; now, as the mantra goes, the thinner and the higher-definition, the better. We used to rely on laserdiscs, large iridescent discs that contain just one movie; today, a click of a button reveals a treasure trove of unlimited shows available via streaming platforms.

Indeed, how times have changed. Unfortunately, the onset of dementia may rob some of our elderly of some of these precious memories. However, who’s to say that we can’t help them unlock and recall some of them?

Take a trip down memory lane

Launched by Singapore’s National Heritage Board (NHB), National Museums Liverpool, and the British Council, the ‘House of Memories’ app offers multimedia features and images that bring everyday items from the past to life. Initially launched back in 2014 in the United Kingdom, this app was first adapted for use in the United States, before making its foray into Asia.

The app was first created by Carol Rogers, the Director of Engagement at National Museums Liverpool. In 2011, her dementia-stricken mother was having trouble remembering items and occasions. Rogers then resorted to painstakingly pasting multiple post-it notes on photographs, in a bid to remind her mother about important occasions and dates. After seeing how this helped her mother, she realised that marrying the power of objects and personal life history could indeed prove to be a turning point in helping people who live with dementia. 

She then went on to collaborate with the NHB and British Council Singapore to further develop the app. Building on success in other countries, this app has proven to be incredibly useful — life-changing, even! — for caregivers in interacting with elderly dementia patients. In a nutshell, the app offers a precious blast to the past, a digitised version.

How does it work?

National Heritage Board

Described as a ‘digital scrapbook’ of sorts, the app showcases items from the 1930s to 1990s. A local version of the app includes 100 items from Singapore’s National Collection, as well as 11 objects from the Alzheimer’s Disease Association. These objects were specially curated by NHB and the Agency for Integrated Care (AIC) during organised community consultation sessions with over 40 seniors from NTUC Health.

‘Museum Memories’

The app has two modes to play around with. The first is ‘Museum Memories’, which boasts a diverse library of multimedia content such as images, videos, as well as sound recordings of objects from the past. 

Functioning somewhat like a trivia game, each object offers a hint that prompts the individual to recall a memory associated with the object and share anecdotes on that particular memory. Seniors are encouraged to vocalise their thoughts and start a conversation with their caregivers, which helps to stimulate their mind in the process.

The objects are categorised into six key themes: ‘Lifestyle’, ‘Food and Drink’, ‘Household Items’, ‘Jobs’, ‘Growing Up’, as well as ‘Festivals and Special Occasions’. Expect to see relatable items such as a photograph of the first HDB flats in Toa Payoh, which would probably bring back poignant memories of many seniors’ first homes after the kampungs; or the Setron television set, which was the first black-and-white television set that was locally manufactured in 1964.

‘My Memories’

The second mode is called ‘My Memories’, which allows users to contribute by taking and uploading photographs. These photographs can be of significant everyday objects, special occasions, or even pictures of people whom they hold close to heart. These images will be stored in a personal archive of sorts for easy use and retrieval, allowing users to create their own heritage resource.

The app also comes with visual- and hearing-impaired options. Designed with seniors in mind, the user-friendly interface channels simplicity with clean layouts, large icons, and voiceovers. The app’s content is currently being presented in English; however, there are plans to progressively translate the content into Malay, Mandarin, and Tamil next year.

What more is being done?

Ranked 16th out of 30 cities in a Global Dementia Innovation Readiness Index, Singapore has indeed made laudable progress in providing adequate support for those living with dementia. The city scored high in areas such as community support, strategy, and commitment; however, we still have much to improve when it comes to early detection and diagnosis.

With more funding being channelled towards long-term care, including for dementia, there’s no doubt that Singapore will definitely make further headway in time to come!

Museum-led training sessions

Together with the launch of the app in Singapore, NHB together with National Museums Liverpool and AIC, will conduct various museum-led dementia awareness training sessions. These sessions are targeted at families and caregivers of elderly living with dementia, as well as health and social care professionals.

These sessions will teach them how to use the app and the importance of using memories to further enrich the lives of those living with dementia and the people taking care of them. Also functioning as an all-in-one resource, the app contains information on dementia in Singapore, recommended caregiving practices, suggestions for activities, and relevant contacts should anyone require additional help.

This project is introduced as part of the Silver Hubs initiative, which was launched at the Malay Heritage Centre, Indian Heritage Centre, and the Sun Yat Sen Nanyang Memorial Hall. This includes age-friendly activities such as ‘Heritage Trunks’ and ‘Conversation Starter Kits’ to help stimulate interaction between the elderly and those around them; or guided ‘Reminiscence Walks’ around various heritage districts in Singapore. 

The ‘House of Memories’ app can be downloaded for free from the official website, or via the App Store or Google Play Store.

Dementia-friendly homes

The Lien Foundation, a Singapore Charity Foundation, has also collaborated with Lekker Architects, as well as Lanzavecchia + Wai Design Studio to create Hack Care, an IKEA-esque catalogue containing D.I.Y tips and tricks to create dementia-friendly homes.

Hack Care contains 240 pages, comprising a comprehensive compilation of hacks, personal anecdotes, as well as online instruction manuals. This catalogue is aimed at helping those with dementia and their caregivers create a friendly and cohesive home that’s cohesive for all, no matter their condition.

Credit: Lanzavecchia + Wai

Creative solutions to circumvent unspoken stigma

A tongue-in-cheek play on the colloquial term ‘heck care’, the catalogue aims to circumvent the unspoken stigma associated with dementia, and show that one can care better for those suffering from dementia – with the help of simple D.I.Y. hacks, or creative solutions.

Aptly put by Lee Poh Wah, the CEO of Lien Foundation, “Living with dementia is daunting and our everyday home environments do not always anticipate or meet the unique needs of people battling cognitive and physical frailty. These challenges can be mitigated with good design that is functional, inspirational and accessible, and shaped by the shared experiences of caregivers who have been on a similar journey.”

Functional tips in catalogue

The book is aligned along 10 guiding principles, such as letting persons with dementia play an active role; encouraging decision-making; affirming their sense of self; having simple conveniences within easy reach; not forgetting the simple pleasures; simplifying the environment; and more. Aside from these functional tips, the book also contains stories and anecdotes from professional caregivers who have helped those living with dementia.

Five hundred copies of the catalogue will be given out for free; if you’re interested in procuring a hard copy, do submit a request via the Hack Care website, where soft copies can also be downloaded at no cost.

 

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Categories
Local Reel Singapore

New Digital Arts Festival Looks Into Power Dynamics that Shape Our Society

Catch Power Play, a brand new digital arts festival that debuts on Friday, 23 October. Over 40 international and local artists will feature their work on the power dynamics that shape our society. Their art will be shared through exhibits, workshops, live performances, and film screenings. View it at: PowerPlay.sg

 

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Categories
Local News Singapore

Singaporeans in Favour of Automation & Environmental Protection Despite Job Losses

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According to a survey conducted by the Pew Research Center from October 2019 to March 2020, 61% of Singaporeans polled in favour of automation and 72% in favour of environmental protection and artificial intelligence (AI).

Yet, while the median across 20 publics (spanning from Europe and North America to the Asia-Pacific) of those in favour of automation was only 48% — an inversion of the Singaporean public opinion — the median (71%) for environmental protection was very much in line (much less for AI, whose median was 53%) with the view of the vast majority of Singaporeans.

Technology is the future of our economy

At a panel discussion for the inauguration of Nanyang Technological University’s (NTU) Deep Deep Learning Week, Dr Vivian Balakrishnan, the current Minister for Foreign Affairs, told university students that they “are the dynamos that will drive our transformation and push the boundaries of how we can leverage technology to transform our economy and make a real difference”.

He also drew attention to fields such as data analytics, machine learning, and AI.

Talent shortage

However, as rosy as tech jobs may appear as a viable career prospect, only 2,800 information and communications students graduate yearly, leaving 17,200 vacancies wide open.

This has led to a shortage of tech graduates as notable banks like OCBC and DBS ramp up on their recruitment of tech professionals to more than compensate for Grab’s mid-year retrenchment of technologists.

Singapore’s transition to a hub for emerging technologies will create 60,000 new jobs in the next three years.

Mid-career individuals encouraged to take up tech jobs

Under the Smart Nation Initiative helmed by Dr Vivian Balakrishnan, the Singapore government aims to encourage mid-career individuals to take up attachments, temporary assignments, and traineeships in the tech sector through subsidies.

Furthermore, banks have also stepped in to retrain pre-existing staff to work tech and digital-focused jobs. For example, Standard Chartered announced in June its plan to improve its SkillsFuture@SC programme so as to upskill its workers over the next three years.

Razer Fintech and Facebook roping in young local talent

Razer Fintech hosted a 48-hour hackathon from 15 to 17 May 2020 to invite local tertiary students and young professionals to utilise the fintech industry’s latest technologies and solutions in order to solve financial challenges like insufficient insurance coverage, adapting to cashless and digital solutions, and problems in accessing grants.

NTU’s Centre for Professional and Continuing Education also collaborated with Facebook to train local engineering undergraduates and postgraduates to take on data centre specialist roles at data centre operations here in Singapore and overseas.

Automation will create new jobs at the expense of current ones

There could be some underlying fear with regard to automation which would explain why a lower percentage of Singaporeans polled in favour of automation compared to that of AI.

This is because there is a fundamental difference between AI and automation.

AI is concerned with technologies and processes that sufficiently mimic how humans make decisions, react to new information and understand language, while automation simply involves the use of programmable robots to replace low-skilled workers, essentially freeing them up for more complex processes. However, machine learning, which is a subset of AI, can be applied to robots to enable them to learn from data, identify patterns and recommend decisions without human involvement — but this is not necessarily the case for automation.

Locally, automation has already begun replacing chefs and financial planners while also creating new jobs like prospecting and lead generation by merely assisting in work operations rather than replacing them entirely.

COVID-19 speeding up automation

With automation, companies can streamline low-skilled jobs so that workers can focus on upskilling and eventually take on higher-paying ones. This is being done at Soverus, a local security solutions provider.

Yet, COVID-19 has also sped up the implementation of automation within our service industry as companies try to bypass the high labour cost and labour shortages here, leading to the inevitable displacement of low-skilled workers.

With this in mind, just how effective will the Smart Nation Initiative and banks’ upskilling programmes be in ensuring a smooth transition of displaced workers to tech jobs?

Environmental sustainability is a viable sector

Amidst the massive job losses incurred due to the pandemic, the sustainability sector will continue to grow to include professionals such as climate scientists, engineers, and food scientists.

Minister for Sustainability and the Environment, Grace Fu, claimed that 55,000 new and upgraded jobs are expected to be created within the next 10 years, with 4,000 already foreseen to be added to our local economy within the next year.

She said, “People always say if you have economic competitiveness, you can’t have environmental considerations. I’d like to challenge that, I think it’s less of a trade-off. It makes more sense now for us to [consider both objectives together].”

Environmental tax could lead to job losses if imposed on struggling companies

On 5 October 2020, Dr Jamus Lim posed a Parliamentary Question to Minister for Transport, Ong Ye Kung, asking him if the Ministry had considered imposing per-flight environmental tax on SIA’s proposed ‘flights to nowhere’.

Ong responded in parliament by saying that the environmental tax (and other considerations brought up by Lim) could be “done” if there were no pandemic right now.

He also argued that imposing an environmental tax on SIA was not sensible as there would be too few passengers to pass on the cost to.

He finished his answer by emphasising that the environmental tax would only worsen SIA’s current predicament.

This came after the SIA had announced on 10 September that it would be axing around 2,400 staff based in Singapore and in overseas stations.

Environmental protection and economic viability need not clash

After the parliamentary debate, Jamus Lim took to Facebook to clarify why he had raised the issue of environmental tax.

 

In the post, he asserted that “thinking about how we can be good stewards of” the environment “need not come at the expense of jobs or profit”, thus echoing Ms. Fu’s earlier comment.

He also added that the government’s decision “not to withdraw carbon taxes” amidst the pandemic was “an implicit admission that we should always bear in mind environmental tradeoffs in any discussion of policy”.

In parliament, he had squared off against Ong, arguing that an environmental tax on SIA’s ‘flights to nowhere’ would not “impose an immediate concern on the economic viability” of the airline if it “is able to pass on the cost” to its passengers.

 

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Categories
Asia Local Review Singapore Style

Breast Cancer Awareness Month: 5 Brands Making Moves & How You Can Get Involved

In the midst of a global pandemic, it’s easy to neglect other parts of our physical health that still need our attention. This October, we celebrate Breast Cancer Awareness month not just in Singapore, but with the rest of the world.

In Singapore, breast cancer remains the most common cancer and the leading cause of cancer deaths among women in Singapore. With that, many companies have taken the initiative in raising awareness on this issue in their own special way. 

Show your support

Beyond wearing pink, there’s more that you could do to show your support for Breast Cancer Awareness month. From barre studios, lingerie brands, and perfume companies, here are 5 brands that are doing their part to support the cause and ways you can get involved beyond making a purchase. 

Beautiful on the Inside and Out — Perk by Kate

In collaboration with Estee Lauder, local lingerie brand Perk by Kate has launched an exclusive collection that features an exquisite range of bralettes and loungewear in honour of Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Included in this collection is the Harper Full Cup Padded Bralette in blush, that was purposefully designed with breast cancer survivors in mind. The bralette provides coverage for those who have undergone a mastectomy, empowering them to feel beautiful both on the inside and out. 

Each purchase made from the Perk by Kate x The Estee Lauder Companies Breast Cancer Awareness Collection will come with a complimentary beauty kit courtesy of The Estee Lauder Companies worth at least $100. On top of that, a portion of the proceeds of the collection will also be donated to Singapore General Hospital. 

All Things Pink — Superga

How about showing your love and support with some brand new kicks? For the entire month of October, Superga will be donating 20% of the proceeds made from every purchase of pink sneakers to Singapore General Hospital in support of breast cancer research.

Yes, we mean any pair of pink sneakers — including their latest collection in collaboration vintage-inspired fashion brand, Loveshackfancy.  

Pretty in Pink — PAZZION

Homegrown shoe retailer Pazzion has also gone pretty in pink by launching their limited-edition Pink Stardust Foldable Flats, which will only be available for the month of October at all PAZZION outlets nationwide and their website.

30% of the nett sales made from these dainty pair of flats will go to the Breast Cancer Foundation to fund their member activities. Making a bold statement while supporting a great cause all at the same time — what’s not to love? 

A Scent For a Cause — Jo Malone

British perfume brand Jo Malone has been crafting signature scents for years. But when it’s a scent for a cause, it becomes so much more meaningful. The London Peony & Blush Suede Cologne by Jo Malone flaunts lush notes of peony and rose, with subtle and refreshing undertones of jasmine and juicy red apple.

For every purchase of this cologne, Jo Malone will donate S$25 from the retail price of this product to the Breast Cancer Research Foundation from 1 October to 31 December 2020 in support of The Estée Lauder Companies’ Breast Cancer Campaign. 

Let’s Get Physical — WeBarre

View this post on Instagram

Get your sweat on for a good cause! We have teamed up with The Estée Lauder Companies for a donation-based virtual workout. Led by co-founder Anabel Chew, both The Estée Lauder Companies and WeBarre hope to raise more awareness about breast cancer, and educate on the deeper meaning behind the pink ribbon. Participants who sign up with a donation of minimum $50 will get to participate in an exhilarating 60-minute WeBarre Signature Multi-level Virtual class and receive a complimentary Estée Lauder Companies' Beauty Kit (worth at least S$200) which includes: – Full-sized @esteelauder_sg Lauder Advanced Night Repair Intense Reset Concentrate (worth $140) – Full-sized Bobbi Brown Crushed Liquid Lip in assorted shade (worth $41) – Deluxe-sized @origins.sg Mega-Mushroom Relief & Resilience Fortifying Emulsion 30ml (worth $19) – Deluxe-sized @cliniquesg Moisture Surge 72-Hour Auto-Replenishing Hydrator 15ml (worth $24) UPDATE: For those who missed out on this morning's release, 50 more tickets will be available at 8pm tonight – set your alarms! Get set, GO! Donation and signup link in bio. #timetoendbreastcancer #unitedinhopesg

A post shared by WeBarre (@webarre) on

Singapore’s leading boutique barre studio, WeBarre will be hosting a donation-based virtual class this Saturday, on 24 October 2020 that is open to anyone and everyone.

For every participant who donates a minimum of S$50, they will receive a complimentary beauty kit from Estee Lauder worth at least $100. 

Beyond Awareness Month

Besides purchasing items for a good cause, there are other ways to raise awareness and be an advocate for breast cancer as an individual. 

Go pink

Pink became the colour for Breast Cancer Awareness Month back in 1991 by activist and breast cancer survivor Charlotte Haley, who was trying to raise awareness about the lack of federal funding for cancer prevention. By wearing pink, not only are you making a statement but you are also showing your solidarity in the fight against breast cancer.

Donate directly to the National Cancer Centre

Pandemic or not, the National Cancer Centre (NCC) is still on the move to raise awareness for Breast Cancer this month and all year long. Having been around since 1999, the NCC has grown to become ‘one of the most comprehensive cancer centres of excellence in the region’. By making a donation, you are helping them make more survivors by funding treatments and even ongoing research.

Get the conversation going

Breast cancer awareness should be championed every single day; even beyond breast cancer awareness month. Take the time to educate yourself about breast health, and share that information with your friends and family. There is no shame in talking about your health. Let’s start a conversation and join the movement in the fight against breast cancer together! 

 

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Categories
Athletics Local Singapore Sports

Marathoner Soh Rui Yong Faces Disciplinary Charges by Outgoing SA Committee

Editor’s note: this article was first published on 28 September 2020 and has been updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness.

Fill Me In

National marathoner Soh Rui Yong received a letter detailing disciplinary charges against him by the outgoing management committee of Singapore Athletics (SA). The letter, dated 25 September, was also the same day a new committee headed by Lien Choong Luen was elected to power.

Charges over interviews and social media

The outgoing committee led by former president Tang Weng Fei has accused Soh of six counts of breaching the code of conduct over media interviews and social media posts.

The letter provided information of one count for “failing to obtain SA’s written permission prior to providing interview(s) and/or appearance(s) and/or interaction(s) with the media”.

The other five charges were for social media posts by Soh. SA accused Soh of “[acting] in a manner which was likely to affect adversely the reputation of SA, and/or in a manner likely to bring the sport into disrepute, and/or failed to exhibit good sportsmanship by respecting officials from Singapore.”

Continued spats between Soh and Tang

This is not the first time Tang’s team has been on the end of a feud with the two-time SEA Games gold medallist. They are also currently embroiled in legal proceedings over Soh’s comments regarding his non-selection for last year’s SEA Games.

Soh has been vocal over his disappointment in Tang’s team and how they have handled issues regarding his purported breaches of the code. He has sought clarification of the matter numerous times without getting a clear answer from the outgoing committee.

New committee to review charges

The new committee had only just learnt about the legal proceedings over the weekend, according to reports by The Straits Times. Lien said that they will be taking time to review these issues.

“As the new MC, it is our responsibility to implement and take it forward but only after we have independently reviewed the grounds for the [disciplinary charges],” he said.

Update: A truce is called

Soh Rui Yong has withdrawn and discontinued his lawsuits against Singapore Athletics (SA), in a truce between the two.

SA posted a statement last Friday, 16 October that the SEA Games marathon champion has agreed to end their high-profile legal dispute.

Hours later, SA executive director Malik Aljunied, who was also involved in the lawsuits with Soh, then announced his departure from the association.

The truce comes shortly after SA voted in a new management team led by Lien Choong Luen at the association’s annual general meeting last month. Lien had told media that the new management committee (MC) would have to review these issues.

SA also said that they are committed to supporting Soh again, that he might compete for Singapore once more.

 

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Categories
Local News Singapore

Compromised: Singapore as a Receptive Talent Hub

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With a surge of tech giants like Tencent and TikTok choosing to set up shop in Singapore, it’s no surprise that Singapore’s economical and company policies have been very welcoming of foreign companies. But for the most part, Singaporeans don’t seem to mind nearly as much with companies as they do on a more granular level, where skilled foreign talents are concerned.

Companies urged to hire more locals

And with COVID-19 running companies high and dry, forcing them to fire their employees, the Singaporean government has publicly urged companies to hire more locals. Earlier this year in August, the government announced another billion-dollar round of subsidies and incentives that would help promote local hiring. In September, it also placed 400 firms on the Fair Consideration Framework (FCF) watchlist for hiring a higher share of PMETs, with many firms reportedly never exiting the watchlist. As a consequence, these firms have held back on work pass applications as HR practices are strengthened upon.

Pair this with the Facebook comments sections of most Today, CNA or Straits Times articles about foreign PMETs and it’s safe to assume that foreign professionals may not feel as welcome here as many think they do.

news_employmentsurvey_3
CNA/Facebook

It looks like Singapore’s reputation for being open to talent has been compromised for now, or at least, is at risk.

Studies say we love foreign PMETs. Which studies?

The government’s feedback unit REACH recently conducted a survey with a sample size of 2,100 randomly selected Singaporeans aged above 15, via telephone. They also conducted an online poll with 1,050 Singaporeans within the same age range. All participants were selected at random, and the surveys were conducted between 11 to 21 August 2020 — still in the heat of a job market laden with COVID-19.

Following the survey, REACH released a statement saying that its poll indicated that “Singaporeans do not feel strongly negative about foreigners in Singapore”.

49% of respondents said that they were neutral with regard to foreigners in the country. A low percentage of 14% of Singaporeans were either negative, or very negative about foreigners in Singapore. Meanwhile, 35% of survey participants said that they felt positively or very positively about foreigners in Singapore.

Only 14% of Singaporeans feel negatively about foreigners

So, where negative comments are concerned, could it be that only 14% of Singaporeans are hoarding Facebook comments’ sections with negative sentiments and that they’ve actively shaped a general perception of Singaporeans disliking foreigners? It’s also worth noting that a majority of people who felt negatively about foreigners were unemployed at the time of the survey.

news_employmentsurvey_1
CNA/Facebook

The relevance of this survey outside of a wavering job market would be questionable outside of COVID-19 times, but these times will also likely shape and dictate our job market for some time to come.

“During this difficult period, Singaporeans are understandably anxious over job security and career opportunities. The Government remains committed to helping Singaporeans keep their jobs or find new ones. Nevertheless, it is heartening to know that many Singaporeans understand the need for Singapore to remain open to global talent,” said Mr. Tan Kiat How, REACH Chairman and Minister of State in the Prime Minister’s Office and the Ministry of National Development.

Where times of emergency are concerned, it’s in the best interests of general sentiment for the government to protect Singaporean’s livelihoods first and foremost. If anything, COVID-19 proves a timely opportunity for a redistribution of jobs in Singapore, which some would argue has been a long time coming.

REACH Feedback Unit

Many have also proposed that the results of this survey could be biased, having come from a government body. As with all surveys, consideration must be given for respondents, who are likely to vary their answers out of concern for their perception in the eyes of surveyors. While survey respondents were contacted at random, no part of REACH’s release has indicators of the survey being conducted anonymously.

Meanwhile, all foreigners can do is watch

Many expatriates have suggested that Singaporeans might need to be more critical of job safety and competitiveness across the world.

In a report from Straits Times, Markus (placeholder name), a German professional who has been working in Singapore for eight years, said, “Here, when people complain about foreigners, they complain that they cannot get the highly paid jobs they want.”

“In Germany, when people complain about foreigners, they are complaining about crime — there are foreigners who are criminals”, he said.

Another foreigner quoted in the same report said, “We actually got rejected for PR, so I think realistically we can’t be here long term, and it makes it difficult when we put our children in schools, or when we plan our careers. We have a little bit of instability (that) Singaporeans would never have.”

Another foreigner, an expatriate running an offshore company who wanted to be known as Francis, has taken a neutral but questioning stance toward recent changes. He said that “even though I’m potentially on the receiving end — I respect the fact that Singapore has a hard line, and that they have to look after their own people first.”

However, he added, “I also think it’s more politically motivated than trying to solve problems.”

Calling for a more humane approach

Foreigners in Singapore need to live their lives on the edge. Associate Professor Leong Chan-Hoong of the Singapore University of Social Sciences has called for a more “humane” approach to work-pass processing for foreigners.

“For example, you can give a slightly longer visa. So after being laid off, instead of the usual two weeks or one month, they can extend to two months or even three months, so that you can help them ease into deciding if they can afford to stay in Singapore as a non-employed non-resident or choose to go back,” he said.

Cabinet Ministers and Lee Hsien Loong urge caution

In parliament last month, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong urged Singaporeans against giving “the wrong impression that we are now closing up and no longer welcoming foreigners”.

Cabinet ministers have followed suit, pointing out that Singapore must not be averse to maintaining a cosmopolitan society. Member of Parliament for Tanjong Pagar GRC Joan Pereira discomfort from Singaporeans about foreigners is “alarming”.

She vocalised that Singapore needs to maintain its economic competitiveness and structural social fabric while working with international workers and firms.

“All of us must understand that a Singapore that closes its doors to the outside world is bad for us,” she said, and she has a pretty good point.

 

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Categories
Culture Featured Lifestyle Local Singapore

NTU CCA is the Latest Arts Space to be Displaced by COVID-19

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After seven years in the industry, the NTU Centre for Contemporary Art Singapore (NTU CCA) will be ceasing operations at the Gillman Barracks art complex. From March 2021, it will be closing its exhibitions and residency programmes at its physical venue, joining a string of independent arts organisations that have been displaced as a result of the pandemic.

Tell me more

According to ArtReview, CCA has cited the reason for the decision as part of a period of transition and transformation for the post COVID-19 recovery.

While the organisation will not be closing completely – it will still be retaining its Public Resource Centre and administrative and research facilities at Gillman Barracks – the displacement has been described by many arts publications as a “major blow to Singapore’s arts and cultural communities”.

History of the space

Opened in October 2013, it is the brainchild of Nanyang Technological University (NTU) and the Economic Development Board – the national research centre for contemporary art. German-born founding director Ute Meta Bauer heads the small, full-time team of 14, curating exhibits that bring forth innovative and experiential forms of art that highlight the social-political spheres and other fields of knowledge.

With a collection of experimental practices, NTU CCA is a prominent centre for critical discourse in Southeast Asia and beyond. Amid the cluster of art galleries in the Gillman Barracks, it has served as a safe haven for many a millennial artist and enthusiast, eager to explore their learnings of contemporary art in Singapore and the region.

Over the years, its residency programme has enabled both local and international artists to immerse fully in their pursuit of the arts, and nurtured talents like Charles Lim, Lee Wen, and Sam Durant.

Its contribution to the art scene

Because of its internationally minded roster of exhibitions, workshops, screenings, and performances, the NTU CCA is thus one of the few spaces in Singapore known for its global purview on contemporary art.

Solo exhibitions of the likes of Amar Kanwar, Joan Jonas, and Yang Fudong have graced its walls, elevating the local art scene with the work of leading international artists for the first time. Its final exhibition will be on the films of Vietnamese-American academic-filmmaker Trinh T. Minh-ha, running from 17 October to 28 February.

Beyond being an establishment housing exhibits, NTU CCA served to encourage dialogue between local and international artists, allowing artists to compare placements in the world and interconnect with others driven by the same passion. It also opened doors for artists in Singapore – in an interview with The Straits Times, Robert Zhao, former artist-in-residence said that he met a lot of curators and had a lot of exhibition opportunities overseas because the centre spotlighted his work.

Events of significance held there over the years

Aside from being the organiser of the Singapore Art Book Fair, the centre has hosted the NTU Ideas Fest – a public summit with the most eminent of artists, researchers, and community leaders in 2016/17 and now, 2020. The platform encouraged the bridging of artistic practices and academic research from the ground up, to that of the community at large.

This year, the event was guest-curated by IdeasCity, New Museum, New York, building on the premise that art and culture are essential to the future vitality of cities. The initiative provided a forum where practitioners and policymakers could exchange ideas, identify challenges, and propose solutions – especially relevant in a country where the government has been criticised for demonstrating wavering commitment towards the arts.

The future of the art space

Like many businesses, the NTU CCA intends to diversify its locations and go digital, creating an online archive that will better document and promote its programmes and initiatives long-term. As Yvonne Tham, CEO of Esplanade has said in an interview with CNBC, post-pandemic music and theatre performances will likely have to veer towards a hybrid model, where live and digital performance complement each other to be unlimited by time and space.

It’s a feasible solution to counter the shortfall of funding that has affected many Singapore arts groups like the CCA following the pandemic. In efforts to continue trying to bring the community together, the NTU CCA plans to host more virtual events that will showcase the work of local and international artists and arts organisations, as well as grow its educational link and focus on art research with NTU.

 

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Categories
Culture Lifestyle Local

Inspiring Home Bakers & Chefs Who Cashed In On Their Hobbies During COVID

Happy is the man who can make a living with his hobby

It’s the dream of many to be able to do what they enjoy for a living. Waking up everyday, excited to actually want to go to work and actually enjoy weekdays. This year it’s been incredibly tough to enjoy work, with the entire global economy screeching to half and many industries becoming a victim of COVID too.

And yet there are still some people who managed to get in touch with their entrepreneurial side. There’s actually no better time than now to try and turn your hobby into something more than a side gig. Switching careers or trying something new wouldn’t be as tough, with many people looking for career changes or even alternative sources of income.

Turning to baking and cooking

When it comes to homegrown businesses, most would turn to baking and cooking. During COVID, home bakeries started to flourish as everyone start buying sweet treats as personal indulgences or to surprise a friend.

Here are some inspiring home bakers who took the leap during these troubled times to pursue their hobbies. And it worked!

Bake Share Eat

Started by an ex pre-school teacher who was encouraged to return to Singapore in the midst of her further studies. Bake Share Eat grew a huge loyal fanbase that even boasts influencer Naomi Neo. Mariko, who runs the business from her own kitchen, was encouraged by her husband to start selling her bakes, who provides her support by helping stir the pot and delivering her bakes while balancing his own full time job.

Documenting her baking adventures on Instagram, every single pastry goes through extensive trial and error to ensure only the most indulgent bakes make it into their customers tummies. Dig into crunchy monster cookies filled with gooey insides, hulk brownies, and brown buttered madeleines, all packed into surprise bake boxes.

Umami Boy

Chng spent the past six years at restaurants such as Meta, Kimme, the now-defunct Wild Rocket and, most recently, Roketto Izakaya. Even though he was cooking for a living, he wanted to start his own thing to be able to create dishes he loved. Deciding to pick condiments as one of the foods he is passionate about, he started Umami Boy. Dedicated to umami flavors, the Umami XO Sauce is made from seafood ingredients like dried shrimps, dried scallops and Japanese whitebait, pairing well with both Chinese and Western cuisines.

Chng has also paired up with other chefs for pop-ups selling packages of his condiments with dishes like carrot cake and Lap Mei glutinous rice. For aspiring home chefs, Umami Boy’s Instagram page also has recipe recommendations and the occasional XO sauce carrot cake food porn.

During this time, COVID opened up his eyes to the endless possibilities of F&B, even through e-commerce. His next goal is to establish his physical presence through a permanent retail space.

Flourworks

Spending more time at home during circuit breaker led SMU undergrad Maribelle Su to launch her own bake sales to share her love for baking with others. Driven to create new recipes and exciting pastries, Maribelle started devoting more time to experimenting with flavor combinations.

Her popular creations include a glazed earl grey loaf, thick chewy cookies with peanut butter fudge, and cinnamon smores midnight brownies.

Taking a step back, she realized that “starting a business in such an uncertain time isn’t impossible”, having learnt that taking risks and pressure from competition actually drove her to work harder and innovate better.

As school starts opening up and circuit breaker restrictions being slowly lifted, Maribelle still keeps to weekend bake sales to keep her hobby turned side gig income going.

Dearborn

Christopher Kang started Dearborn as a supper club before COVID shut them down. With him and his wife out of a job, the F&B industry was faltering at an alarming speed. Desperate, he decided to sell granola as a last resort and was surprised by the overwhelming response.

Every week, Christopher whips up a new batch of granola, which can come packed with fresh fruits like mango, coconut, and orange. Occasionally chocolate and nuts make it into the mix too. Once, he sold out in 2 minutes!

In a short few months, Christopher moved from his house to a production kitchen in town. If something so simple as granola can be so popular, he might just be the next granola magnate waiting to be noticed by investors.

 

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Asia Local News Singapore South Korea Thailand

Footage from Private Homes Leaked and Sold in Local IP Camera Hack

What Happened

Local IP cameras have been hacked, with footage being posted and sold online. A dedicated group uploaded the private videos on pornographic sites for viewing, with people are paying S$203 for lifetime access to such clips in a Discord group. 

The videos range from being under a minute long to over 20 minutes, and it features couples, breastfeeding mothers, and even children. The unknowing victims were filmed on their home IP cameras which got hacked by a dedicated group of people with intent to sell the footage.

Videos being sold online

Upon closer inspection of the videos, it was discovered that the people behind the blatant privacy infringement are doing it as an easy way to earn money. A group, featuring over a thousand members worldwide, shares hacked IP camera videos. The group can be found on social messaging platform Discord and charges a subscription fee of US$150 (S$203) for lifetime access to the videos. 

The victims in these videos hail from different countries, including Thailand, South Korea, and Canada. The group provides a free sample, sized at 700MB for interested buyers. The examples include around 4,000 videos and pictures from hacked footage. 

A large portion of the clips was obtained from IP cameras in Singapore. The group claims to have access to more than 50,000 hacked cameras that members can access. VIP members are even taught to “explore, watch live, and even record” the hacked cameras, through tutorials and personalised sessions. 

Videos were of victims in private situations

Most of the videos featured victims in compromising positions, such as using the toilet or undressing. Faces of the victims could be seen in different settings, compromising their identity and privacy. 

In a video dated March 2020, a teenage girl is seen in a white t-shirt and her underwear, surrounded by school books. An O-level 10-Year-Series book seen among the stack, indicating that the girl is underaged. Many of the videos are tagged as being from Singapore, with many videos featuring the instantly recognisable layout of a typical HDB flat. 

The footage seems to be from Internet Protocol (IP) camera, commonly found in homes in Singapore for security reasons. The cameras also act as a way for individuals to remotely monitor their children, elderly family members, domestic workers, and pets. Sadly, the very intention of wanting a more secure environment has been undercut by the hacking of these cameras. 

How to protect yourself 

Hacking into such IP cameras can often be as simple as logging onto the devices with the predetermined password provided by the manufacturer. Hence, it is incredibly important to change the camera password. The usernames could have been obtained by retrieving the log from unsecured servers. In this digital age, where everything is readily available online, it is essential to stay vigilant and ensure that your online activity is secure. 

A fuss-free way of preventing hacking is to have a stronger password. Simple passwords are prone to be cracked, with IP cameras being at risk due to their connection with cloud services or exposure to the internet. Taking precautions to secure your IP camera is recommended. Users are advised to purchase an IP camera from a trusted brand that offers reliable security features. Be advised to change your password and update the software for the IP camera regularly. 

 

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Categories
Local Reel Singapore

Omotesando Koffee Review

After hearing our subeditor rave about her Omakase experience in Japan and “the best tasting coffee” she ever had, the THG team visited the coffee joint’s Singapore chain to check out the hype.

Here’s our review of Omotesando Koffee!

Address: 6A Shenton Way #04-01, The Work Project, Downtown Gallery, Singapore 068815

 

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