Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Escapes of Selamat Kestari

The JI detainee is reported to have run away by making a reason to go to toilet. Well, if the toilet is in MRT, that's kind of understandable. But then again, even MRT's toilet is covered up like isolation cell. The fact is that the toilet he went to is in Detention Centre! It's strange, really. Even while doing our exams in university in Singapore, going to toilet involves having an invigilator following you up to the toilet door and peeking back and forth inside the toilet to ensure that we are not doing anything strange. I wonder what's the reason that detainee like a the terrorist is not given the same 'nice' and 'careful' treatment. Maybe to them, terrorist can't run away from Singapore and students are hence, softly, perceived as more dangerous than terrorist? What a strange happening....

Or perhaps has the country grown so safe that the guards in the Detention Centre's gate are not trained to recognize those people inside the Detention Centre? After all, a Detention Centre should be gated and surveillance should be around (I think normal Detention Centre should at least have these things). For a LIMP man to manage to run away without officers checking why he took ages in toilet and not detecting his leaving the Detention Centre is rather appalling to reasonable man.

The fact that the high ups told the public not to consider the reasons for his escape is even stranger. I thought such a happening warrants a complete investigation to ensure at least risk assessment is performed on the Centre. Funny.


The Netherlands is a good place for museum. I visited Rijkmuseum and Van Gogh in Amsterdam on Saturday. Well, both are nice. Sadly though the Rijkmuseum is largely under renovation when I went in so I didn't manage to see much. There is one or two Van Gogh's, 1 Monet, and 1 Rembrandt. That's it. The museum's brochure is rather misleading because the entire section with > 5 paintings where one of it is those painting are actually listed with the famous painter name! I was expecting to see the entire section lined up with Rembrandt, or Van Gogh, or Monet's paintings only to end up with 1. What a disappointment. Well, on average, the paintings in the museum are quite complete in depicting the painting style from 1600-1800s. The details of the drawing by Rembrandt and his peers never stop to amaze me. They managed to draw up even the intricate laces that people of that era wore!

The Rijkmuseum was rather quiet when I visited. It was 9.15 AM anyway while it opened at 9.00 AM. Hehehe.. The museum really depicts the proud of Netherlands' golden age aka the colonization era. There is this huge painting by Rembrandt, "The Night Watch" which took him 1 year to finish. Extreme details and what a hand! No more words, just visit there and you'll know what I mean ;-)

I must warn you though if you want to visit Van Gogh's museum. You better get there at the time the door opened! I was there from 10.30 AM and the place is rather packed. Despite holding 200 paintings of Van Gogh and his letters and drawings, there were at least 3-5 people seeing each painting! My gosh... it's really too much touristy for my liking. The collection shows the ingeniousity of Van Gogh though. The progression and his experimental work is visible through his bright strokes, experiments with pointillism, sharp drawings, and colour improvisation. Perhaps he might have died because of overworking himself. After all, he finished more than 1,800 works in 10 years. In average, around 1 drawings per 2.5 days! I find that his brother is extremely kind though because he supported him throughout the 10 years of painting effort while Van Gogh didn't seem to manage to sell a single piece of his drawings. Theo Van Gogh even died few months after Vincent killed himself. :-( They are buried side by side by the way.

A fabulous museum experience. :-)


Finally back on the warm side of the earth.

A bit of review from my stay in Holland:

1. 6 nights in Bilderberg Park Hotel Rotterdam, stayed in Single Room.
It was small. Very small actually. Super single bed with one 14" tv. Weird toilet where the direction of the hole is the opposite of the normal one. Below average breakfast that cost €21.50! The breakfast only serves scrambled egg, veal sausage, stir fry champignon, and bread and bread and bread. The best part of the breakfast is the fresh orange juice and bottled Knorr juice. That's it :)

2. 1 night in Renaissance Hotel, Amsterdam,a hotel managed by J.W. Marriott. Stayed a night in King size bed room.
There is a huge LCD tv in the room. I guess around 32". Not very sure. But the distance between the table and the bed is only enough for one person to walk through! The toilet is slightly better than the Bilderberg Park Hotel. Well, the hotel is about €40 more expensive than Bilderberg. Both Bilderberg and Renaissance is quite close to shopping area though. Renaissance Hotel is less than 10 minutes walk from Amsterdam Centraal, the train station. The breakfast is quite a disappointment as well.

3. 1 night NH Airport Hotel, Amsterdam Schiphol. Stayed in a double bed room.
This is the best hotel I've stayed in Holland! Well, only 8 nights though :P Anyway, I was placed in a women style room. The room is even slightly bigger than Renaissance Hotel! And in the internet, it's listed only as 3-star. Perhaps it's because of the 19" or 21" LCD tv. *shrug* The toilet is as good as Renaissance Hotel and yet smells fresher! There is a specially packed toiletries aimed for women traveller on the bed when I came in. Shower gel, Shampoo, moisturizer and few more items are in 2 sets. There are 2 more sets in the toilet! There are also Vogue, Elle, and Style magazine in the room! Wow, that makes it the best hotel I've stayed. The value is great. I spent "only" €73.50! Lots less than the other 2. The discouraging part is that the hotel is only near too airport. Hehehe... far away from shopping area. And o yeah, I can tell you for sure that the dinner is rather sucks. I ordered tomato soup and seafood parella (not sure if I spell it correctly). The tomato soup is superb but the rice is fishy!

Well, that concludes my bed time in Holland.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Rotterdam - pt 1

First day in The Netherlands. It's very cold by my standard. I am wearing a sweater on top of my street clothes. On top of the sweater, I wear a coat. I still feel the cold! Luckily I have a scarf. However, the gloves lent by my friend is still to big and hence, my fingers are feeling the cold since I don't wear gloves. My ears are also feeling like the meats stored in freezer.

Today, I brave myself to walk a bit from the hotel I stayed in. I realize that stuffs here are extremely expensive. A chinese take away food, beef teriyaki with nasi (rice) cost 6.50 Euro! Admittedly, the ingredients are extra of those that will be provided in Singapore. I had a cheaper version of Chinese food by buying a miso chicken from Wok to Go. It costed my 4.50 Euro, that's more than 9 Singapore dollars! Luckily, the fried rice acccompanying the chicken is extremely better than the Singapore version.

I am not sure what's wrong with the typical SIngapore fried rice, that is the fried rice with frozen vegetables. The version of fried rice in Singapore tends to absorb oil and it exudes certain unappetizing smell. Luckily, the version from Rotterdam is not pathetic, in fact it's fluffy and taste good.

Anyway, those are the food I dare to buy since I am totally against buying KFC, McDonald, or Burger King in such situation. Hahaha...

And I am already sleepy at 6 PM Rotterdam time. :S It's 1 AM in Singapore anyway. I am not sure what to do hahaha...

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Income in Singapore

Singapore newspaper likes to publish articles that talks about statistics released by government.

I myself am rather fed up with statistics reporting because I know personally how statistics can be easily "played" to produce figure to your liking.

Outliers for example is always easily cleaned out since they are said not to "represent" the populations. Simply said, the extremist are not to any statistician's liking. They don't care that the people called "outlier" may actually constitute the "hate group" which may bring down the statistics (e.g. people who proclaim that product A is sucks and may some times carry the truth) or the "love group" which may help to shore up the validity of the statistics (e.g. people who love the product so much that they spend bulk of their income to consume or promote it). There is of course chance for cleaning one side of the outlier to skew the result. Who will audit the result anyway?

Second of all, I realize what's always missing in the newspaper's statistics value is standard deviation or even the range. Saying that average is X makes no strong argument if the standard deviation is huge or constitute as big as the X. If average income is S$6,830 but the range of the sample is S$100 - S$100,000, do you really want to believe at the average value? Will average of S$6,830 when 70% of the population is at the range of S$100 - $ 6,000 destroy the trust of the statistics? Make your own judgement. That's simply why range or standard deviation is rarely stated. It simply reveals too much of the truth.

Thirdly, statistics value rarely tells you whether it's a normal distribution or a skewed distribution. After all, if the second point above happens, the statistics skew is actually skewing to the left. What does it tell you if the bulk population is actually far poorer than the average value?

Lastly, surveyors can always choose who they want to be in the statistics sample. Who will prevent them from choosing the high end income group for sampling? Will the reader know it? Nah, the surveyors and the statisticians are as safe as Singapore.

Sunday, February 3, 2008

Economy is booming and yet

The government of Singapore keeps saying that economy is looking good, unemployment rate is going down, and people's income is rising.

If it is true that the economy is looking good, I wonder why I see more old people "selling tissues", why there are more buskers around "performing art" for money, and why more old people is going around collecting tins and cartons?

Even if there are many aids around, but if there are no workers in the ground to approach those in needs, the aids are going nowhere and the poors do not have their needs fulfiled.

Yesterday night when I was in the MRT, I saw an old lady carrying a really big plastic bag containing lots of tins. I overheard her conversation with another curious old soul. Apparently, that super big plastic bag of probable size of 80 cm x 40 cm x 100 cm is carrying less than 2 kg of empty tins. The price of 1 tin is a mere S$1.80!!!! Imagine, she might have go around several MRTs to collect that amount of tins (could be at least 80-100 tins) and it earns her less than S$3.60. The time she spent and the cost she need to take the MRT do not seem to enable her to feed herself.

Now, where's the aid where it's needed?

I so wish one day that I'd be able to come out with an employment scheme for the poor and old so that they can earn to feed themselves well. The employment should not need to provide me with any profit.