Archive for the 'sociopolitics' Category

‘mental block’ against singapore food impossible to overcome

Snippet of a really interesting interview Bharati Jagdish conducted with chef Violet Oon in last year:

Jagdish: But in Singapore, how can this mental block about Singapore food be removed?

Oon: I think the only way it can move forward, honestly, is acknowledging that people are quite happy to pay for it in hotels. I go to Straits Kitchen, I’m quite happy to pay S$65 for this buffet.

Jagdish: Yes, but that’s so unfair to the poor guy who is cooking it in a hawker center in Bedok.

Oon: Yes, but there’s no other way. There’s such a mental block, I don’t think we can overcome it. You see, we brought these top restaurants around the world to Singapore and young people here start restaurants and they have what they call omakase menus. And they’re not even famous but it’s S$120 per person for a six-course meal and people are very happily paying it. The food cost is minimal, but you’re not paying for the food, but for the environment and you’re paying for the talent. You’re paying for that person’s talent in doing it.

My point is that if people are not happily paying more for hawker food, the hawker culture is definitely going to die, unless others like me take it and put it in their restaurants. At least I can charge more for it than the hawker can.

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we have a culinary prejudice

Snippet of an interview Bharati Jagdish conducted with author and food blogger Leslie Tay in 2015:

Bharati: Ultimately though, those of us who can afford it just need to learn to pay more for food, don’t we? How do you think people can learn to accept this?

Tay: First of all, we have to realise that we have a culinary prejudice against our food. Why are you so happy paying S$15 for a bowl of ramen, and you complain when the bowl of bak chor mee goes up by another S$0.50 to S$4.50? [Emphasis mine.] The other day, I wrote about the bak chor mee that’s being sold by a Japanese man. And everybody was so wowed – “Japanese man!”

Bharati: His daughter makes it?

Tay: Yeah, his daughter. They were selling it for S$5, and people are paying for it, but we have this funny prejudice against our own food. When it comes to chicken rice, it has to be S$3, S$3.50. It’s not like in Japan, you have sushi off the belt for S$2. You can have sushi at the top end sushi restaurant for S$40 a piece, right? And a meal can cost S$300, or it can cost S$3.

gentrification?

One can’t help but agree with what hotelier Loh Lik Peng said in an interview with Bharati Jagdish:

Loh: The reality is that the vast majority of Singaporeans are not willing to pay more than S$2-S$3 for their mee pok, not willing to pay more than S$1.20 for their kopi-o. So these people are being pushed out. People will happily pay S$4 for their cappuccino. So the guys setting up their cappuccino stores are going to make much more money than the guys who do the traditional kopitiams.

Bharati: You’re saying this is consumers’ fault?

Loh: Absolutely! Absolutely. It’s the fault of Singaporeans. When people complain that the traditional trade is being pushed out, they must realise it’s also because they are not willing to pay the right price for these traditional goods. [Emphasis mine – recall my post on mooncakes.] They want to pay the price their parents paid, or the prices they paid in their childhood. Those prices are not relevant in today’s Singapore, so these businesses get pushed out to their margins, or get pushed to the government-subsidised hawker centres, because people are not realistic about the prices people should really charge to make a decent living in modern Singapore. That’s the reality.

resurrection

Finally got round to sorting out two thick files’ worth of GP stuff as part of Operation Clean Room. Found this piece of foolscap with the following quote written on it. Can’t remember why I even copied it down – perhaps I found it evocative enough……

It has been three months since an underwater convulsion off the coast of Sumatra spawned a series of huge waves that washed up on the shores of the Indian Ocean. On official counts, nearly 300,000 people died in the tragedy or are still missing. For the survivors, the pain will never disappear. Now, however, after what surely must be the greatest outpouring of compassion the world has ever seen, a semblance of normality is setting in. Schools, food stalls – and yes, auto-parts shops – are reopening; mosques, temples and churches are welcoming the faithful to prayer; and children are again playing in streets that not long ago were grimly silent.

from ‘Resurrection’ by Simon Elegant, Time, 4 April 2005

it’s perfectly fine to use the s-word

An enlightened view indeed! (Though the most ironic thing is that the paper itself censors the vulgarity in question!)

It’s perfectly fine to use the S-word
By Andy Chen

It is an inelegant word, but when used as an exclamation, it is to me neither rude nor an expletive

The teacher of one of my two daughters called me recently, to tell me my child had said a “bad” word in school.

Instantly, my mind went “Uh-oh”, although it was a lot less innocuous than that, so I could understand where or whom my daughter might have inadvertently picked up her vocabulary from.

Continue reading ‘it’s perfectly fine to use the s-word’

a flavour of Singapore identity is lost without muah chee

Identity is a funny thing, which is why this article struck a chord in me…… And it also made me crave muah chee, which I haven’t had for eons.

 

 

A flavour of Singapore identity is lost without muah chee
By Han Fook Kwang

The simple snack may not make big bucks but its value is built on factors like craftsmanship and tradition

Muah Chee is an unlikely subject when talking about the Singapore identity. But there is a connection which I will come to later.

It is a simple snack made of glutinous rice covered with ground peanut which doesn’t stir up the same passionate debate among local foodies as char kway teow or chilli crab.

Continue reading ‘a flavour of Singapore identity is lost without muah chee’

re-employment a zero-sum game?

Re-employment a zero-sum game?
While it is laudable that we extend the re-employment age of older workers, we need to consider its impact on those entering the job market and those who have a young family to support or who have recently been retrenched (“The new age of re-employment”; Jan 13).

The Singapore labour market is finite in size. Every place an elderly worker continues to occupy in a company is one place less for younger folk seeking a job.

At the middle and higher hierarchy of the management, there is a need for fresh leaders to move up. Mandatory retention of older folk limits the mobility of fresh talents and, eventually, harms everybody in the company and, by extension, the economy as a whole.

While the Government has a social responsibility to provide meaningful occupation for those above 60, it has an equally heavy responsibility, if not heavier, to ensure that our young are not left out in the cold.

Our talent pool is small; we need to secure the brightest and provide upward mobility for the deserving.

The young, when gainfully employed, can look after the old (an Asian value), but the reverse is not socially acceptable or practical.

Lim Soon Heng

Straits Times Forum page, 14 January 2017

you learn something new every day

And that’s an Oriental riff!

impromptu holiday

On Wednesday, my boss V declared that if Trump won, we’d get the following Monday off. And he did, so we did! Holiday for me today!!! :D

hoisted by their own petard

I just read that the Democratic National Committee and Hillary Clinton’s campaign conspired to promote Donald Trump as the presidential nominee of the Republican Party (here and here), as they thought he wouldn’t stand a chance against her. The mainstream media proceeded to give Trump so much free airtime that it undoubtedly benefited him, propelling him straight to the White House. Talk about backfiring big time! Hopefully all of the Democrats are still slapping themselves silly at this moment.

This whole drama reminds me of the Harry Potter series. The antagonist, Lord Voldemort, learns of a prophecy which predicted that ‘the one with the power to vanquish the Dark Lord will be born as the seventh month dies‘. Two baby boys fit the description: Neville Longbottom and Harry Potter. Voldemort chooses to seek out out the latter first, thereby igniting an epic saga of events that eventually results in his destruction by Potter’s hand.

d-day again

Results scheduled to be out at noon tomorrow!

d-day

It’s already 8 November in this part of the world, and in just a few hours, Americans will be going to be polls soon! Of course I am #teamtrump!

many happy returns for lost and found

Was clearing more stuff just now, as part of Operation Clean Room, when I found a Straits Times reprint of the following article (dated 10 December 1999)……

Many Happy Returns for Lost and Found
Culture: Tokyo center relies on honor, public shame to help owners get items back.
By Mark Magnier

TOKYO — This is where it all ends up, everything from bowling balls and crooked dentures to purses, cell phones and umbrellas. Welcome to the Tokyo Metropolitan Lost and Found, a veritable monument to the misplaced, the abandoned, the rejected.

Drop something in a public restroom or in a subway corridor in Tokyo and there’s a good chance you’ll get it back, here in one of the most honest nations on Earth, even if you don’t necessarily want it. And like so much else in Japan, the lost-and-found system is traditional, very well organized and rigorously maintained.

Continue reading ‘many happy returns for lost and found’

it’s gonna be yuuuge

Just ten more days to the election of the most powerful person in the world!

indonesians’ lasting love for instant noodles

This article gave me a craving for instant noodles! :P (Last ate them more than a year ago!)

Indonesians’ lasting love for instant noodles
By Arlina Arshad

Indonesians’ fascination with the packaged food makes it big business in the archipelago

JAKARTA • A sarong-clad man stands on a clifftop and sings with gusto the opening lines of a famous Indonesian instant noodle TV commercial.

“From Sabang to Merauke…,” he croons, referring to two well-known cities at either end of the archipelago. “Flavour choices may differ, but we are single-hearted on taste.”

Continue reading ‘indonesians’ lasting love for instant noodles’


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