Category Archives: Singapore

Subhas Anandan, “The Best I Could”

The Best I Could The Best I Could by Subhas Anandan

My review


rating: 3 of 5 stars
It’s clear that Subhas Anandan wants to be seen as someone who values family ties, friendships and loyalty above all. What may surprise some people are his fairly conservative views: he has strong words for drug abusers and strongly disapproves of gambling.

Most of all he believes in the Singapore justice system. Although he would be the first to point out the system’s shortcomings, he genuinely believes that it works most of the time.

Even so, readers may be unnerved by some of his insights. For example he points out that contrary to popular assumption, an acquittal does not mean that the accused is innocent, merely that his guilt was not proved beyond reasonable doubt.

Insofar as it’s possible to derive insights into a person’s character from his writing, Subhas emerges as a very private man with strong sense of loyalty, fairness and compassion. For a perceptive reader, the gaps in his narrative will provide tantalising hints to Subhas’s network of contacts and to how he actually sees the world.

But even the most dull will notice some unusual editorial choices. For example, Subhas’s description of his prison experiences are abruptly cut short and the book jumps to the section describing some of his cases, leaving the reader wanting him to finish this fascinating part of his life. Later he voluntarily includes a facsimile of a letter from one of his clients, currently detained indefinitely at the President’s pleasure. In view of his comments on the case, it seems clear that Subhas is trying to win sympathy for the boy.

His writing is concise and the tone scrupulously objective. Those looking for more lurid material (given Subhas’s career) will probably be disappointed. However the content is far from boring, and Subhas’s dry humour flashes occasionally.

View all my reviews.

Fountain Pens in S’pore FAQ

Have been thinking about compiling all the scattered bits of info about fountain pens in Singapore, and finally set up a page on WordPress. You can also see it as a tab on top of this page. Feel free to take a look, comment and so on 🙂

It’s still very much a work-in-progress. Will put in the links gradually. There’s an RSS feed for the page so you can be updated easily just by subscribing.

The failings of a elite university education

This essay crystallizes some of the deep misgivings about my education and, well, life up to this point.

The Disadvantages of an Elite Education

An excerpt:

This is not to say that students from elite colleges never pursue a riskier or less lucrative course after graduation, but even when they do, they tend to give up more quickly than others […] Why should this be? Because students from elite schools expect success, and expect it now. They have, by definition, never experienced anything else, and their sense of self has been built around their ability to succeed. The idea of not being successful terrifies them, disorients them, defeats them. They’ve been driven their whole lives by a fear of failure—often, in the first instance, by their parents’ fear of failure.

(Incidentally, I did get a Phi Beta Kappa, but it hasn’t done much good for me, halfway across the world. All I get are exhortations to buy their merchandise :/ )

Now imagine a whole country that worships academic achievement as the main yardstick for personal success. Behind that are the best of intentions — from parents, government officers, and politicians — and we all know where those lead to.

Another fine productivity sink: Battle Stations

Battle Stations is a Facebook MMORPG that you add as an app. Developed by local start-up Tyler Projects, who also have a few other interesting games.

(I did try to sign up for Mobile Weapon once, but was turned off by the need for registration.)

Addicting. Get an airship, arm it, and blow stuff out of the sky 🙂 Oh, and explore too.

Back to dollars and cents. They’re currently earning most of their revenue from online ads, as expected:

Since October, Tyler Projects, the company he set up with two friends, has been raking in US$3,000 (S$4,300) a month from just one programme on Facebook.

The money is coming in from advertisers who have been placing movie trailers in the Battle Stations application that the trio created in two months.

The mini online strategy game allows users to build battleships, which they can use to fight others.

It has already attracted some 36,000 users – and it is these users who are helping to attract advertisers.

For every 1,000 pageviews, advertisers pay anything from US$5 to US$50.

(from an ST article, Dec 8 2007:

But if they had a micropayments system here they could get much, much more.

Why isn’t there one in Singapore?

Interestingly enough, their current art was outsourced to a company in China.

No larrikins here

The Australian has a polite but unfocused article that starts with how the Esplanade has apparently defied detractors, but jerks halfway into a simple compare-and-contrast exercise about two Singapore Arts Festival events.

I thought this para was ironic:

Last Thursday’s official opening was a stately event. Singapore president S.R. Nathan attended. So, too, several government ministers, arts bureaucrats and local arts patrons. No sign of the artists and the larrikin energy they bring to such events, but the mood was upbeat as people filed into the theatre for the Asian premiere of a music and dance piece from Slovenia, titled The Architecture of Silence.