Wednesday, January 30, 2013

The Intelligent Transport Systems Centre


Have you ever wonder how 5 million people travel in Singapore? With just about 723km2 of land, it is no secret that transportation plays a very important part in ensuring everyone commutes with relatively ease and safety.


The Intelligent Transport Systems Centre (ITSC) is a 24/7 facility that manages all 161km of expressways and 2150 signalized intersections in Singapore. ITSC also plays an important role in controlling traffic flow during big events held in Singapore, like the Singapore F1 event.

I got a chance to visit the heart of all Intelligent Transport Systems (ITS) managed by LTA. The ITS Centre operates 24 hours a day throughout the year, monitoring and managing traffic flow, as well as maintaining our ITS infrastructure.

Currently, the ITS Centre operated the Expressway Monitoring and Advisory System (EMAS), the Green Link Determining (GLIDE) System for traffic lights, Junction Electronics Eyes (J-Eyes), and Central Expressway (CTE) Tunnel’s Plant Monitoring and Control System (PMCS). Other smaller systems include the Electronic Regulatory Signs (ERS) system.


At the forefront of the daily operations, the Operations Section uses these systems to monitor traffic as well as manage ad-hoc incidents and pre-planned events on our roads. The scope of operations includes the 8 open expressways, the CTE tunnels and about 1900 signalised traffic junctions. This Operations Section keeps traffic smooth-flowing by responding to incidents promptly, informing motorists of real-time traffic situations, and adjusting traffic signals to meet varying demands of traffic conditions. They also attend to reports of faulty equipment detected through the various ITS.

Equally important is the Maintenance Section which is responsible for the maintenance of the various ITS, computers and site equipment. They attend to faulty equipment and ensure that they are repaired promptly. This team strives to achieve minimal downtime of our traffic systems to provide road users with a safe and smooth journey.

Below are 2 photos of how the Operations Section looked like.



It’s really like watching the movies, the screens are constantly updated with different views of the traffic situations in various places. And the 8 staff on duty were vigilantly communicating with one another and directing any incident that is happening on the roads. Well we were there visiting, we can actually see the usual traffic jams along PIE/CTE during the peak hours (due to an accident on the expressway) and how efficiently the staff communicate with the various teams to send in the recovery crews to ensure the smoothness of the traffic flow.


Expressway Monitoring and Advisory System (EMAS)
EMAS is an intelligent incident management tool that manages traffic along our expressways and the CTE tunnels. The EMAS comprises 3 sub-systems:
a. Detection Camera System that collects real-time traffic data
b. Surveillance Camera System that provides visual verification of incidents
c. Information and Dissemination System that updates motorists on traffic situation


Benefits of EMAS
- provides quick response to motorists who need help along expressways
- minimises congestion that may arise from incidents through the quick deployment of recovery crew and the display of messages to the public to avoid incident locations
- enhances safety on expressways
- allows motorists to make informed decisions / choose alternative routes


Green Link Determining System (GLIDE)
GLIDE controls all traffic and pedestrian signals and manages traffic along the arterial roads.

How does GLIDE work?
Detector loops in the form of thin metal wires are laid below the road surfaces at traffic junctions. Each time a vehicle moves over the detector loops, it causes a change in their magnetic fields. The change activates a response at a receiver in the local controller and the command is send to adjust the timing of traffic signals automatically so as to optimise traffic flow at the junctions.


Benefits of GLIDE
allocates green time for motorists and pedestrians based on real-time demand
- provides “green wave” link between adjacent junctions to minimise the number of stops by vehicles
- allows traffic signal faults to be rectified quickly


Junction Electronic Eyes (J-Eyes)
J-Eyes are surveillance cameras mounted on special mounting posts, street lamp posts and buildings to capture video images of traffic flow at major junctions and transmit them to the ITS Centre for viewing on monitor screens.

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Benefits of J-Eyes
- act as remote eyes for operations staff to spot and rectify causes of traffic congestion
- deter illegal parking and loading or unloading along major roads


Electronic Regulatory Signs (ERS)
ERS are light emitting diode (LED) traffic signs, which are switched on only at specific time periods to convey time-specific traffic instructions to road users.


Benefits of ERS
- brighter and clearer than static traffic signs
- ensure better compliance from motorists


Parking Guidance System (PGS)
PGS promotes a more efficient use of existing parking facilities and reduces the amount of circulating traffic searching for available parking facilities in the vicinity.



During the session, there were a few questions/feedbacks thrown out, and even though I do not drive that often nowadays, it was still a very interesting session to listen.

Q1: Why can’t we use countdown timer for traffic lights? Like those we see in JB or US.
Q2: What are the rescue plans for emergency situations in the tunnels? Eg. if there is a fire in the tunnels, how can the trapped motorists escape?
Q3: Can we number our expressways like those in the US? North 90, South 65, etc..
Q4: Can we change the EMAS message, “Heavy vehicle drive on *extreme left lane”? (*denotes addition word)


Seriously, when I was invited to attend this session by Dice Studio, I was a bit reluctant cos I do not own a car now. But I was pleasantly surprise to have went for the event and got to understand a bit more how the entire transportation system works in a small country like Singapore.
Quoting someone, “From now on, I will think thrice when I am on the road, cos there are so many “eyes” watching.”

For more information on ITSC, you can check it out on their website. Alternatively, you can also know more on their Facebook page.

Monday, January 28, 2013

3 Ways To Be A Horrible Dad

If your aim is to be a horrible dad, read on.. If not, read on as well to know what you should not do..

Here are 3 ways to be a horrible dad

1. The Horrible Dad ALWAYS Works Late
The boss is looking to promote a new manager in the department, so working late is just going to be the right move to show him you are more than committed and able for the promotion. A promotion means more income and that would translate into better life for the family. Isn’t that good?
After work is happy hour. Which is more fun? Feeding your children at home or going out with your colleagues for a nice meal and wine at the newly open restaurant? Anyway the kids will have to sleep early cos tomorrow there school. Why bother to go home and just spend 30mins with them?

2. The Horrible Dad DISLIKES Reading To His Child
Reading needs time and patience. Why read to her when she has to one day learn how to read for herself?
Dads are suppose to be action figures, reading is for mothers. It would be more fun to go out and play football or cycle with the kids than reading.
Moreover, the children’s books are so childish, who cares about what the Bananas are wearing as pyjamas?


3. The Horrible Dad NEVER Spends One-On-One Time With His Child
One-on-one time should be reserve for oneself. With your iPhone, with your new BMW, with your latest gadgets. Kids just need to have new toys to entertain them. Time = Spending money to buy new things.
You would rather spend the time watching your drama series or going out with kakis for coffee.



Before you start to think I am such a horrible dad, let me defend for myself. I have to admit occasionally I do fall into one of the 3 mentioned “horrible dad” actions. So the important thing is to constantly remind ourselves not to miss out on the important details of our kids’ life. No matter how old our children are now, they will always be looking at us as parents, as their support and their encourager.

Make a decision – do not be a Horrible Dad.

But  just for the fun of it, if you have other ideas on “How to be a horrible dad”, please feel free to share =)

Friday, January 25, 2013

Marriage & Parenthood Package 2013

So the new and enhanced package is out! Click here to read the article.

Basically the package is designed to help us fulfil our family aspirations by addressing our needs from marriage, to becoming parents, and raising children.


Benefits for family with 2 children. That’s me!


So what is in store for me? Or for those of us who already have kids in pre-school or primary school?
Let me give you a summary:

HDB Flats (Effective Jan 2013)
1. first timer, married couple, with a Singapore Citizen child below 16, given priority allocation
2. first timer, married couple, with a Singapore Citizen child below 16, able to rent affordable flat while waiting for new flat

Baby Bonus (Effective 26 Aug 2012)
1. baby born on or after 26 Aug 2012, baby bonus cash gift increased from $4000 to $6000 (for 1st and 2nd child)
2. baby born on or after 26 Aug 2012, baby bonus cash gift increased from $6000 to $8000 (for 3rd and 4th child)
3. cash gift will be given out faster, 3 instalments over 12 months instead of 4 instalments over 18 months (50% at birth, 25% when child is 6 months old, 25% when child is 12 months old)
* if your child is less than 5 months old now, you are the lucky ones. if not, just read and be envious of others.*

 Medisave Grant (Effective 26 Aug 2012)
1. CPF Medisave Account will be created for all Singapore Citizen newborns on or after 26 Aug 2012
2. a total of $3000 will be credited into their Medisave Account in 2 payments (50% at registration of birth, 50% in the subsequent year if the child continues to be enrolled in MediShield or a Medisave-approved Integrated Shield Plan)
*again, if your child is less than 5 months old now, you are blessed. if not, maybe plan for another child?*

Child Care Leave (Effective May 2013)
1. working parents with at least one Singapore Citizen child aged between 7-12 years, entitled to 2 days Government paid child care leave, per parent per year
2. if you have 2 kids like me (one aged between 7-12 years and the other aged between 0-6 years), you will only be entitled to maximum 6 days Government paid child care leave, per parent per year
*no extra child care leave if you were thinking of getting 6+2=8 like in my case, dream on.*

Paternity Leave (Effective May 2013)
1. working fathers of Singapore Citizen children born on or after 1 May 2013 will be entitled to 1 WEEK of Government paid paternity leave (to be taken within 16 weeks after the child is born)
2. working fathers of Singapore Citizen children born on or after 1 May 2013 may also share 1 WEEK of the 16 weeks of maternity leave (subject to the mother’s approval)
*so husbands/fathers, be nice to your wife.*

For more detailed information, you can visit

What do I get out of this latest enhanced marriage & parenthood package?

A BIG FAT ZERO! Unless I knocked my head and in a state of concussion, decided to try for a 3rd child.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Tuition for Joey?

Alright, the burning question I have been asking myself recently is, when should we start to send Joey for tuition? Is it a necessary part of formal education now in Singapore?

Most of my friends’ children do attend at least one or two tuition sessions. Some may even engage tuition for all the subjects for their kids. I used to think they are just purely “kiasu” parents, but I have come to realise that it’s not what we desire that determines the outcome. The education system determines for us that tuition seems to be part of what the kids need to have.

When should we start to look for a tutor? How to choose the right tutor? Private tuition or group tuition?

Here are some guidelines I found out from some fellow friends and parenting websites:

Choice of Tutors
1. Student Tutors – these are those who are still in school, Polytechnic or JC students. Experience is not their advantage but price is. Normally their charges are between $15-$25/hr.

2. NIE Trainees – these group of tutors are highly sought after, cos they have relatively more experience that the student tutors and their charges are not too high as compared to the next 2 levels. Their in-depth understanding of the current MOE’s format of examinations enables them to ask for charges between $20-$40/hr.

3. Full-time Tutors – they are the group that make their living out of this business. Most of them have many years of tuition experience, hence their charges are also higher, in the range of $20-$80/hr. Most of the full-time tutors specializes in certain subject.

4. Teachers & Ex-Teachers – without a shadow of doubt, this group is the most experienced and have the most relevant information on the current MOE standards and requirement for your kids. And becos of that, they demand the highest charges between $30-$150/hr. Most of the tutors are so reliable that they almost can guarantee an ‘A’ for your child.

What next?
Once we have decided on the type of tutor we need, next is to find them. Which brings us to, where to find the tutors?

1. Obviously the easiest way is to search online. There are so many tuition agencies available online, I think I need a tutor to guide me here. Engaging a tuition agency gives us the ‘no-hassle’ experience, you just need to submit an application form online and viola, within 24 hours someone will call you with matches of tutors of different shapes and sizes (venue and prices).

2. Another way is by friends’ recommendation. Usually this is the safest bet (if your friends are reliable). However, the problem is we have to be flexible enough to work around their schedules if they are good.

3. One viable way I read on a website, is to allow the online tuition agencies to find the matches for your child. But instead of allowing the agency to interview the tutors on your behalf, do the interview yourself. Because this will allow you as a parent to determine what your child need from the tutor. And here are the points to take note of (I’m not the expert, I just rip this off from the web, but I’m learning too)
a. qualifications of the tutors – check their past academic achievements or proof of teaching experiences
b. personal qualities – get to know the tutor a bit more than their teaching experiences, like what kind of CCA or hobbies are they into? Do they have any special talents or abilities? Do they have younger siblings/children in school?
c. teaching styles – learn a bit more on the tutor’s teaching style. Do they prefer to use the reward style or the more serious and discipline style? Access which style is more suitable for your child.
d. schedules and rates – negotiate if the price is over your budget.

Having said all, I am determined (if I can) not to engage a tutor for Joey as long as I can. Tuition is good but so early in her schooling stage, I feel if I can delay that extra stress factor, I will do so. Furthermore, there are no examinations in P1. Let her enjoy bah!

Monday, January 21, 2013

We Are Young (no more)

岁月不饶人 – Stepping into year 2013 marks the last year for me as a 30s. Someone recently asked me how do I feel approaching 40. Seriously, I have not put much thought into this topic. Not that I am avoiding it, but really age is just a figure once you have crossed 30.

Psychologically reaching 40 is just a milestone to measure my accomplishments. What have I done and what will I be embarking on in the next one year. This is not the scary part, what is is the physical aspect of turning 40.

Since when did I pump air into the spare tyre round my waist? Since when did that nagging pain applied for Permanent Residence on my knee? Since when did waking up at 530am is a norm?

Just the other day while having dinner with Kless, we saw a group of JC students besides us. At most they are only 18/19 years old, which means I am twice their age. Suddenly I feel old.

Alright, I won’t end negative.
The positive about reaching 40:

I have my own family to go home to. This is one thing I won’t exchange for anything. And being a youth won’t give me that chance to enjoy fatherhood as much as I do now.

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True friends who would accept you no matter what. We are at a stage in life whereby friends are no longer just about popularity. We are friends because we enjoy each others’ strengths and weaknesses. “Buddies” has a new level of meaning at this stage.

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Hopefully your Monday is not getting “blue-r” after reading this post. Maybe its the weather when I write this post, I blame the rain.

Friday, January 18, 2013

3 Weeks Later

It has been 3 weeks since Day 1, when both Joey and Jayne started in their new schools respectively.

Joey with a cheeky look in her P1 uniform.


1st week was totally stressful for Joey, going into a brand new environment, and the place is so huge. Not like some of our friends, Joey’s primary school does not allow us to step into the school compound at all. Only a P4 student will bring Joey in and show her the way to the assembly hall, canteen and classroom.

So basically, Joey was left pretty much alone in her new school from Day 1. Not working in our favour was the delay in school bus arriving time, and other scenarios, Joey reported sick on the 3rd day of school. She called us from the school general office (one of her favourite places now), and reported that she was not feeling well. Stomach ache and felt like vomiting. All it turned out to be was stress. The feeling of being lost in a new place, not knowing exactly the time to report for assembly, no friends yet, our precious Joey had quite an uneventful first week. But thankfully from the 2nd week onwards, the bus timing was more stable, Joey made a few new friends, she is slowly starting to enjoy school life.

Next up was the issue of money. We started off with $2 pocket money, she spent $1 on green tea and $0.60 on porridge. We nearly fainted. Cut pocket money to $1.20. She bought watermelon for $0.60, borrowed $0.20 to a friend, then ended up borrowing $0.60 from teacher to buy her green tea again. Fainted, woke up and fainted again! last resort, we cut the pocket money to $0.70, let her bring food for recess time. Yesterday night she came back, gave us a big wide smile and told us she didn’t buy green tea (Thank you Jesus!), but she bought a packet of tissue paper that smelt like green tea (Jasmine). OMG!!! Why?!?

More lessons needed to be a better steward of money.



Jayne looking cute in her N2 uniform.

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Jayne’s story was much different. From 0-2 years old, she only attended the playground in our office. Then for the entire year in 2012, she stayed at home with my mother. So for her to go to a full day Childcare Centre this year is a big change. She has to leave house early at 8am and can only reach home around 7pm daily. That is a long time for her to endure.

The first day was the worst, she cried the moment she entered the school and refused to let us go. Ended up we were there for almost 3 hours before we can finally sneaked away. The 2nd morning what we feared most happened, Jayne did not even want to wear her school uniform. We had to half force it and half dragged her out of bed, feed her and send her to school.

Every morning since the beginning, whenever we leave her at the school door, she will cry and hugged us so tightly we nearly faint. But once the teacher brings her in, the crying will stop and the day goes on as usual. Now it’s already the 3rd week, and the sequence has been the same. I just pray that one day (hopefully asap), she will not cry anymore and just walk into the centre willingly and with a smile.

My little princess’s smile is so pretty and cute!

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Part of growing up is to learn to be independent. This is a growing process for both the children and parents. We need to learn to let go at the right time and let God.

I love both my girls!


Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Incanto - A Magical Spectacular

I can’t remember when I stepped into a theatre for a show. So when Kless has the chance to do a media preview of Incanto @ Festive Grand Theatre, I raised both hands and legs in excitement!


This is a magical spectacular where reality and make-believe intertwine. The Master Magician, Joe Labero is a 3-time Merlin Award winning magician and this time round, he is bringing his arsenal of mind-blowing illusions to the stage, punctuated with a provocative mix of gravity-defying acrobatics, soaring vocals and dynamic dance moves.

Part of the media experience was to bring us to the backstage and see how some of the 50 over artistes prepare themselves for the show. This is the first time I am invited to a backstage experience, 100% interesting!


First up were the acrobats from China, they came and met us with a few stunning moves. Too bad the lightings were not good to have clearer shots.



As we went behind the stage, we can see up close to the props and sets, only one word – magnificent!


This is the “hamster-like” cage where the acrobats (4 of them) did their gravity-defying stuns. A few moments during the show, we were all blown away by the acrobatics done on this huge setting.


Thought that this blurred out photo sort of described my feelings during this particular segment.


Next up was the dancing studio. All the dancers for the show were there doing their stretching and practicing. I even joined them for a simple finale practice. Fun!


I think some of the dancers must just be in their teens. So blessed to be able to participate in such a grand performance at such young age.


They were so nice to perform the finale dance for us.


The final stop in the backstage tour was the makeup room.


We got a chance to try on some of the costumes and take a few photos.


Kless chose some a dragon head sleeve costume with a matching yellow skirt. Fierce!

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While others had a chance to get a face painting.


More make ups and props..






Found a piece of the design sketch on the table.


After the backstage tour, we were more than excited to go into the theatre and watch the show. Our complimentary tickets, we got the Cat 2 seats, woohoo!


Sorry no photos allowed during the show, so if you want to know the details, book a ticket and experience it for yourself. Just a piece of advise, some of the magic scenes may not be suitable for younger kids and there are some pyrotechnics and loud sounds too.

Book now at:
Festive Grand Ticketing Centre
6577 8888

8pm (Mon, Thu & Fri)
4pm & 8pm (Sat & Sun)

S$148, S$98, S$88, S$78, S$48

Monday, January 14, 2013

Princess Cut & Sleeping Beauty Cut

I am grateful that unlike my friends, I don’t have to spend $20+ to bring my girls for a haircut at the kids’ hair salon. They have their personal hairstylist right at home! They can choose the different cuts they want and best of all, it’s FREE.

Introducing Joey’s “Sleeping Beauty Cut”. According to her, the haircut experience was so comfortable, she feels like sleeping. Joey chooses to just trim the back and not her fringe, 真爱美.

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Or if you wish, you can choose Jayne’s style, the “Princess Cut”. Makes you look like a princess after it =)

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Anyone interested? Friendship charge, $10 per cut.. Hahahaa…