Eye the City 2011: Review of Year in Pictures On the Last Day of 2011

Come to think of it, I got involved in Eye the City (ETC) from 2006 after I joined 2011 edition is really somewhat of a miracle because the organizing committee has decided to call it quits after the 2010 edition. When Martin Liew with a bunch of ETC ardent supporters decided to do a scaled down edition, I think is a good way to make it more manageable and thus a bit more prestigious as it is by invitation.  So when I got invited, it is really hard to say no.  the Young NTUC 20/20 photography group. 5 years just passed by so fast it is unbelievable.   ETC, is a photography community project that was started by someone who has the passion to archive pictures of Singapore on the last day of the year.  It was not an easy undertaking as that someone (i heard is a female) really put in the effort to get it started and it survived for the better part of the first decade of the 21st century.  So what ETC does, as mentioned, is to allow photographers from all walks of life, from snap shooters, to photojournalists to professionals to be involved in a nation wide project to capture the scenes of the city on the last day of the year. Of course there can be pictures to showcase what has happened during the year as a reminder of what has transpired.

I guess it was this little bit of nostalgia, a bit of community kinship that motivated me to do ETC again although being invited do have that perk in ego too.  But doing ETC even when doing it alone is not an easy task. For the uninitiated, it involves  a lot of planning including finding subjects by doing some reflection of the year gone by, how to capture the images, planning logistics and execution.  Even though I have the honour to be in the ETC projects for so many years, including a year being a moderator and participating in the judging, it was still not an easy task.

Well I bite the bullet, got a plan to cover a few places and ask SPIN members if they want to join me. I guess it was a good outing because unlike the other outings, this is has to be done in black and white. Doing black and white in the age of colour photography is to some a bit backward and yet refreshing at the same time.  I think being in awe of Ansel Adams has something to do with my love with black and white.

Below are some of my works from that day. There were some places I wish I could go but couldn’t due to security at site or lack of time.  Hope you will enjoy the pictures.

2011: The Year When Malayan Railway Returns the Land To Singapore.

The announcement to return the railway land back to Singapore was done sometime in 2009. That was when I have officially started SPIN in a big way.  At that time, there was Senja Cashew CC, Pasir Ris Elias CC and SPIN going to the railway at Tanjung Pagar for a shoot, followed by a visit to Universal Studios when it was first started too. 2011 is the year when the land was officially handed back in the middle of the year and plans are afoot to make the land in and around the old tracks to be the green corridors for the residents in the area. Good idea and it was also a good thing to keep some of the infrastructure intact to educate the young about the role the railway has played in the economic history of Singapore.  What I have shot, is the aftermath of the withdrawal of KTM from Singapore.

This is the Bukit Timah Station. On the left is the token pole. The tokens are to help station masters to know if there’s a train in the railway system to avoid collisions.  As you can see, the railway tracks are completely demolished leaving a lush green field that stretches towards Clementi.

Track Control Levers. This is activated for the train to change tracks.

The plastic chair and the Track. After more than a hundred years in service, the railway track earns a well deserved rest. The chair being symbolic of a resting posture.

After The Track Has Gone…the land on which the track was laid is now for recreational use….

…but danger lurks! LOL. As you can see, the tracks is still around to show where it was originally at. Behind me was the Bukit Timah Railway Bridge spanning across Bukit Timah Road. There’s another one that is at Clementi near Sunset way spanning across Pandan River. Quite a majestic sight as well.

2011: The Year Punggol Waterfront was Opened for Business

The very fact that I stayed in Punggol would got me excited.  I guess the rest of Singaporeans who wants to buy a home is very excited as well until the real estate cooling measure is yet again being tightened further. The water way or water front or long kang was announced way back in 2005 by the government to oohs and ahhs during PM Lee Hsien Loong’s address to the Nation during the National Day rally.  There were no reasons being stated but I harbour the thought that the drop in popular vote in the elections that year has prompted the government to do something after the Punggol 21 estate was announced by then PM Goh Chok Tong way back in the 1990s. Aptly name Punggol 21+ (to some the plus means more GST charges to finance the project)it was to boost some much needed PR image improvement after the government failed to realise the original Punggol 21 plan no thanks to the Financial Crisis in 1998 with the Thai Bhat being devalued, the dot.com burst and then the 2003 SARS epidemic.

I am glad that my decision to buy a flat in Punggol was rewarded handsomely thanks to God’s gift of wisdom. At that time, there are a lot of people questioning my decision, stating that Punggol was a foreign land, where birds won’t lay eggs (鳥不生蛋) or in other words, a desolate place.  The lack of amenities was really horrible. The early Punggol residents has to survive on one bus service and to travel to Sengkang for their daily necessities. And it was very far as compared to Yishun and far from my parents’ place in Clementi.  But I hanged on to one fact: Punggol 21 is a promise by the PAP government. It can’t fail if PAP wants to be in power.

All reasons for not staying in Punggol are valid but was quickly solved by the introduction of the North East Line and then the Light Rail Transit.  The time from Punggol to Orchard road is just a mere 40min from door to Dhoby Ghaut MRT exit. The neighbourhood shopping centre was opened, and then the small supermarket just at the foot of my apartment got unto the right track and business is booming.   Punggol has a small recreational centre off Sungei (River) Serangoon with a bar/restaurant, a Sushi bar, Chinese Restaurants, Prawn fishing, Futsal centre and of course, Popeye’s chicken.  Then the golfing range is opened too along with the Wetlands. The whole things caps off with the Punggol Waterway.

My flat is now worth twice its original cost (good to me, but what of my kids? How much would they have to pay for their flats?)

Still Punggol Waterway is a good move by the PAP government to inject some positive buzz to an area otherwise would have more angry voices against the government in the land of astronomical high values of real estate (HK and China is worse actually if we take into account the salary they are earning).

As the Bible says, be thankful and live in thanksgiving.

The Wall where the history of the area is presented to the public.

The small waterfall where the water cascades down from the roof of the corridor into the waterway.

Walkways along the Waterway. Getting closer to the water.

On the left will be the new Condominium cum Bus depot cum Shopping centre. And I wonder why it is called the Water Town. Sounds really cheesy. Wonder how is the take up rate.

Punggol Arc Bridge With Sunset

2011: 100th Anniversary of the Chinese Revolution

100 years ago, it was the work of one Dr Sun Yat Sen that transforms the Chinese population from one that is sleeping to the economic power house it is today. Without him, perhaps the Chinese people on the whole will still be apolitical and China may still be ruled by an Emperor and perhaps will be as poor as the worst third world country. It just take one spark from one person to change the destiny of the whole race.

Universal Love. In some ways somewhat like Agape Love or unconditional love. It is this love, that a Christian such as Dr Sun would understand readily. It is this love that started the revolution. The love for the people based on equality, well being and justice.  The Love that leads to Christmas and Good Friday. It is good to let the young know that there are bigger things other than the iPhone.

2011: The Rise of the Opposition?

2011 is also the year when the Worker’s Party gained a larger foot hold in the Northeastern part of Singapore through winning the GRC seat of Aljunied and retained the Hougang seat despite Mr Low Thia Kiang having to relinquish the Hougang seat to a younger colleague so he can contest a GRC. I guess that says it all about GRC system because Aljunied is not even remotely near to Hougang and George Yeo, a minister I respect a lot who has debunked the hapless Dr Chee Soon Juan during a health cost enquiry, lost the parliamentary seat because of the GRC system. If the election is similar to western democracies, where the local population vote for one representative for parliament, this sad state of affairs wouldn’t have happened. We would not have lost a very capable foreign minister.

I guess the GRC is really a double edged sword for the government. It just shows that if the MPs of the area is not up to the mark, the Minister in helm of the GRC will not win the elections too.  And there are many incidents where the MPs are not earning the respect of the common people and part of the reason I attribute to the GRC system where they are in some ways protected. A direct election would have seen them go very quickly.

As they say, one has to earn the respect and cannot demand it from others. The GRC system is not helping the MPs to earn the respect of the common people because the GRC force the local residents to look at who is in charge of the GRC and not who is running the local community.  If getting a mandate from the people is another way to describe the act of earning respect from the people, then single seat constituencies has to be in the majority by the next election.

Still the opposition has a long way to go. Partly due to the lack of succession strategy. A case in point is the lost of Potong Pasir to the PAP by Mr Chiam See Tong. Mr Chiam is someone I respect as well having to be the most credible opposition MP Singapore has seen since independence.  He was let down by his poor judgement in character and a lack of successor.  But that’s what Single seat constituency can do. It can force a renewal faster than any system the PAP or opposition can muster. Is it a good thing? Perhaps not if it happens too much.

The Old…

…Making way for the new.

Social Commentary Pictures

The Maid Who Carries The Army Bag Controversy: This is the year when a young man undergoing Military Training is so weak that he can’t carry his own back pack on the way back home and has passed the bag to the maid instead. It is really embarrassing. There are many things that one has to carry in life and the army back pack is the lightest of them all. Are Singaporean boys that weak?  National service has a very good reason to stay, with or without the approval of over protective parents who, in one case, claimed that a hair cut by the school’s authority is ‘traumatic’.

The Year of Angry Birds. Yes angry bird has been around for a long time in iPhone. I guess it got more popular when the game is ported over to the Android platform in 2009. As the adoption of smartphones increase, the popularity of the game has increased as well so much so there are also angry pigs game (a rip off). But it goes to show, smartphones are here to stay and Android being a platform is showing a lot of signs doing better.  One of the best signs is the number of legal wranglings it has started over the sale of Samsung phones and tablets.  It is a tacit acknowledgement that they are losing market share and losing it fast.  Not good when Steve Jobs pass on last year as well.  With Ice Cream Sandwich coming this year and then the Samsung Note with its huge screen got into the consciousness of the consumer market, the green robot will be doing better this year.

The old has passed and the new year is here. If Red Bird can be on Red Packets for this Chinese New Year, then anything can happen. It will be a year of positive possibilities. It will be a year of unceasing fruitfulness.

Have a blessed year ahead guys!


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