What is SG50? Well, it represents the little red dot that we’ve come to know as home. The logo celebrates the Singaporean spirit – signifying that our dreams are not limited by the physical size of our island nation.
Five Stones is a classic popular old school game in 1970s and 80s. Five stones can be played by two or more players. The objective of the game is to score as many points as possible by competing the steps. Each player has to throw a bag into the air, and then quickly grab another bag on the ground before catching the first one on its way down. The game continues as the player repeats the action by grabbing two bags on the ground, and so on. To score a point, a player has to complete a number of steps (usually 8 steps). The difficulty in executing the steps increases progressively.
At around the age of 18, all male Singaporeans go through a period of military training called National Service (NS). National Service was introduced in 1967, to provide defence for Singapore and to foster cohesiveness among male Singaporeans. The two-year stint offers an ideal opportunity for our young men to build strength of character, grow in maturity and develop leadership skills. Spending time training with fellow citizens also forges strong ties among Singaporeans from diverse backgrounds and ethnicities, as they are bound by a common experience, national pride and a greater cause. For many of them, this rite of passage also builds lifelong friendships.
The Mass Rapid Transit
The Mass Rapid Transit, or MRT, is a rapid transit system forming the major component of the railway system in Singapore, spanning the entire city-state. The initial section of the MRT, between Yio Chu Kang and Toa Payoh, opened in 7 November 1987, making it the second-oldest metro system in Southeast Asia, after Manila’s LRT System. The network has since grown rapidly in accordance with Singapore’s aim of developing a comprehensive rail network as the backbone of the public transport system in Singapore, with an average daily ridership of 2.899 million in 2014, approximately 77% of the bus network’s 3.751 million in the same period.
The MRT network encompasses 152.9 kilometres (95.0 mi) of route, with 113 stations in operation, on standard gauge. The lines are built by the Land Transport Authority, a statutory board of the Government of Singapore, which allocates operating concessions to the profit-based corporations, SMRT Corporation and SBS Transit. These operators also run bus and taxi services, thus facilitating full integration of public transport services. The MRT is complemented by a small number of regional Light Rail Transit (LRT) networks in Bukit Panjang, Sengkang and Punggol that link MRT stations with HDB public housing estates. Services operate from about 5:30 am and usually end before 1 a.m. daily with trains arriving approximately every 1 to 2 minutes during rush hours and at least every 6 minutes or less at all other times. Services operate all night during festive periods such as Chinese New Year, Deepavali and Hari Raya Puasa.
Singapore Public Housing
Public housing in Singapore is managed by the Housing and Development Board (HDB). The majority of the residential housing developments in Singapore are publicly governed and developed. As of 2013, 80% of the resident population live in such accommodation. These flats are located in housing estates, which are self-contained satellite towns with schools, supermarkets, clinics, hawker centres, and sports and recreational facilities.
There are a large variety of flat types and layouts which cater to various housing budgets. HDB flats were built primarily to provide affordable housing for the poor and their purchase can be financially aided by the Central Provident Fund. Due to changing demands, there were more up-market public housing developments in recent years.
There are many bird corners in Singapore, such as Ang Mo Kio Avenue 10, Serangoon North Avenue 1 and Bukit Purmei, but probably none is as old as the one at Tiong Bahru.
Bird Singing Competition
Formerly known as Tiong Bahru Bird Arena, the bird corner was situated at one end of the demolished Block 53. It has been around for more than 50 years since the sixties, and was once a favourite gathering place for countless bird lovers from all around Singapore, and even from Malaysia and Thailand. When the old blocks were torn down in 2007 to build the current Link Hotel, the bird corner was preserved and renovated.
In the past, hundreds of bird-lovers would gather here on weekend mornings, admiring each others’ prized pets in their nicely decorated cages, chatting and sipping coffee at Ting Heng Kopitiam just beside the bird corner. In fact, the bird corner was a brilliant idea of the former owner of the kopitiam, who started it to attract more businesses.
Tiong Bahru bird corner even gained global fame in the late eighties when a Dutch reporter Guus van Bladel wrote about it, attracting attention from other reporters in United States, Holland and Japan. It prompted Dutch airline KLM to sponsor hooks, number tags and even bird-singing competitions.
Currently, the bird corner boasts more than 320 hooks with number tags, but no bird cages are found, not to mention the song birds. Despite spending $200,000 by the hotel in the renovation, the corner failed to regain its former glory. Gone were the enthusiastic owners with their songbirds such as jambu, sharma and mata puteh. Today, the corner is quiet and deserted, unnoticed even by the passers-by.
Let’s hope the half-a-century-old bird corner will be filled with the chirping and songs of birds again.