Monday, September 25, 2006

Memories of S2006 IMF/World Bank Stint

Warning - Long post ahead! Haha...

And just so I could document this for good and release some storage space in my O2 sd card. Anyways here are some pictures I took during IMF 13 - 20 September 2006. I think I was truly fatigue after IMF that I had to request an extension date for a presentation on a project due 22 September.

The exit up to City Hall. Each morning the walk to fortress Suntec reminded me how much I didn't miss the morning throngs of City Hall, Raffles Place or Tanjong Pagar. Next - My survival kit. By the 2nd day I wisened up and abandoned the cumbersome bags issued to all liaison officers. I brought along a black diary loaded with only the essential stuff such as my delegation programme, a DLO memoir that contains all important numbers and certain SOPs, 1 brochure on interesting places of Singapore, and invitation admin matters. That did the trick. Goodbye Suntec pass. I'm done with you.

No fervent demonstrations, only the occasional protests put up by the government-approved civil society organisations. This one - of a man, bound up and hooded, writhing on the floor. Notice the designated area. I couldn't help feeling that it's all mere sidenotes of IMF Singapore 2006 successfully downgrading these passionate people into performance artists. Next - With some colleagues. This is one of the favourite meeting places where we lounge ourselves to death waiting while our respective governors went on with their businesses attending plenary sessions, breakfast and lunch meetings and G7, G30 et al. I had a frustrating time with the suits they gave. Late delivery, and minus the alteration I requested weeks prior to the IMF. Major cockup la the vendor... the dates were looming and because I couldn't bear the thought of waiting for the right thing to happen at their end, I decided to send the jacket for alteration at Queesway Shopping Centre instead. Good thing the S2006 committee decided to reimburse that cost!

The Esplanade carnival that showcased cultural performances and food galore. This was Kampung Glam section of the esplanade. I remember eating out of small cups Mee Rebus that was too mild for my liking. I guess the organisers toned down the spice factor for the delegates and I'm not surprised that they liked it. But that was before I tasted the satay and temporarily 'lost' one of my delegates because the satay was good and free flow. No kidding - the Esplanade bayfront that night was super crowded. A dikir-barat performances. That's the area where I chanced upon Cultural Medallion recipient Mdm Som Said and introduced her to my delegate.

A section of Kampung Glam featuring teenagers playing some Malay musical instruments. A vibrant Indian rice & flour decoration. Love it! I wonder if my Indian neighbour observe such significance. Maybe life in the HDB heartlands aren't just accommodating enough. Then again I seldom see her daughter in saris.

A Peranakan fashion show. Quaint stuff! Before that we were at the Eurasian section of the Esplanade. I saw Vernetta Lopez and Eunice Olsen manning the place. The former was draped in this long black gown and was totally on-the-ball, entertaining delegates who passed by. She managed to persuade my delegate to try some devil's curry. He did. And as we walked on a few metres along the carnival he had to stop for some green tea. His face was rather flushed. Haha! The fireworks after the Diaspora theater program. Picture courtesy of Alan.

Besides bringing the delegates to Mustafa Centre, Asian Civilisation Museum, Muthu's Curry, Al Baladi, Soffra, Chinatown, Little India, Mount Faber, Sim Lim Square, Arab Street, I still got a bit of time cramming in a Sentosa itinerary for one of the delegates. This happened when the Head of Delegation had gone for his Istana dinner invitation and I'm left with his right-hand man. I took these pictures at the Underwater World, Sentosa. That's him snapping a picture. We came in late for the last 8.30pm group tour and as a result the facility was closed. What a near disaster that was! Had it not been for the empowered and pro-active staff working the night shift on that 18th of September I would have had a very unhappy delegate with me. Thank you folks!

A passage of the Underwater world. This is one huge fish - bigger [gesture] than with my arms outstretched, I think. Haha.. Maybe it's time for that diving trip again.

I remember taking this picture in the CD shop opposite St Andrew's cathedral. Time was a luxury and when I had some, I just filled it with some mindless window shopping. It was a toss up between Beyonce and Nelly for me as I spent an awfully good 30mins listening and skimming each tracks. Those breaks in-between while waiting for the next event can be dreary if you happen to be alone. Sometimes you're lucky to meet someone you hardly knew - in this regard I even met a fellow blogger. Hah! Next - I think this was taken during one of the lunch breaks of many briefing sessions, not to mention days of protocol training we had leading to the IMF. Those were dreary at times but it was great as I made a host of friends and network from the other stat boards and ministries. Alan, Ian and Fid.

An IMF souvenir cap, my survival kit organiser and iced-mocha at Terminal 2 - and the 1 hour wait after flight takeoff for the official stand-down. Next - The 1.30am morning ride in the BMW back to Ritz-Carlton. This was after sending off my delegates for the 11.30pm flight to Muscat, Oman transit Dubai. I can't believe I didn't have any pics of the much touted luxurious BMW series. Well anyways, throughout the ECP journey I was trying to pin down the exact feeling and I thought it was one of deep satisfaction and relief for a wonderful experience. Well, at least the governor was kind enough to say that I did an excellent job throughout despite a few demanding situations he put me in. We said our goodbyes at the departure lounge area, but not before they gave me their contact number and address in Oman. That's too cool!

Pictures taken using the O2. I hardly used my own phone as we were issued with the Nokia E-70. I thought I'd post these as well, what the heck! Taking a well-deserved break at the Osim chair and lounging it at common meeting area.

Sunday, September 24, 2006


Once again, you're about to go through another Ramadan and appreciate the morning that you had lived long enough to begin another pre-dawn meal. When I was a young boy Ramadan was only a ritual I observed after being trained to do so.

There wasn't much internalisation going on in those days except for the fact that you were ingrained to be 'berdosa besar' or a big sinner if you skipped your fast. I knew it was supposed to mean more than merely abstaining from food and water, but its deeper and elegant significance didn't mean much when you were young. I was a real good boy back then, but there were times even I had 'cheated' by drinking tap water in primary school and appeared all quiet and calm upon reaching home.

Times were different back then and I'm not a changeling anymore.

Here's a thought -- I reminisce and speak freely of my shortcomings and my flaws. I love the little child that I was and I'm still learning from that child; till I'll have no ego to injure myself.

Monday, September 11, 2006


Last Friday my workplace successfully relocated to a temporary office in Toa Payoh. I was supposed to be the rep overseeing our department's relocation but I had to be at Suntec for a series of IMF briefings on the same day. Hence I had no choice but to ask my colleague to cover for me. That sucked as I hate to inconvenient people. INTJs all over the world hate to do this and being a control freak virgo, that made it more unbecoming.

Some of my colleagues who are involved in the IMF took the time to return to the office after lunch time for some photo-memories opportunity. The whole building will be torn down and in about 2 years time a new spanking building / HUB shall be in place. I'm not so attached to the physicality of the building to warrant a photo-op, I guess as a new officer who had joined April last year I see much impermanence everywhere in that place to imbue sentimental reasons. For me it's the company of people that you keep and the various artifacts and memorabilia which resurfaced during the housekeeping that tell a great story.

And today there was yet another final briefing, which I totally forgot to inform the office until about 10am when a colleague called me up to inquire if I was coming in. I felt rather lame. I think I'm giving INTJs a bad name. Plus I thought I was not helping matters when I did not carry my old phone or divert its number to the Nokia E-70 which the S2006 had issued us.

Security at Suntec is tight as you can expect good old Singapore preempts everything in order for the events to go clockwork. Stepping into Suntec, I was awashed at the sight of so many security people miling about the place. Is this all necessary? I thought.

Already the roads leading to Suntec and Esplanade were blocked, plus you won't be expecting any road demonstration, because all elements the government considers as irksome and a threat to security did not get any permit or had been banned from entering the country. My mind wandered to the movie Aeon Flux. It was far too sanitised, though I can understand the national interest in protecting public property and lives far outweighs any criticism. In the meantime I had to get use to seeing all the policemen, army personnel, security in plainclothes, and gurkhas carrying big long sachels stationed at each meeting rooms and sensitive areas. No Charlize Theron in sight.

There was a final briefing, a quick check on our mode of communication and its server load, a group chat and consolidation with our supervisors, lunch, a tour of Suntec and recce to respective hotels. All systems go. The jacket I sent for alteration better turn out good.

An ex-colleague and his wife 'blanja' M and I dinner last Saturday. Terimakasih eh... Some quality time with M followed naturally. Hehe.. She just finished 9 straight days of work. Yeah, one of those crazy rosters in the name of resource management. Poor luv. I could feel the stress she's been going through, then again what do I know?

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

What I Do

I've never walked so much in a single afternoon, and I can safely say the same for the majority of us who went for the familiarising session on the various key places at Changi Airport Terminal 1 and 2 and the VIP lounge. Preparation and briefings for the S2006 IMF/World Bank Group have been intense.

The main role of the Delegation Liaison Officer [DLO] is to attend to and cater to the needs of the VIP that he/she is assigned to. It commences at the point of arrival until the point of departure. Just make everything seemless and adhere to the SOPs. Lol! That's my understanding.

Is it just me? Or do the other officers from other ministries and stat boards feel the same as I do? I find my involvement in the S2006 a good diversion from my present work. Haha.. And some of you bloggers have been asking what I do for a living and I responded - Organisational Development [OD] stuff. To be more specific, the unit I'm in is in the business of strengthening the organisation via OD frameworks such as ISO, People's Developer, SQC, Business Improvement, Ideas & Innovation, Service Excellence and etc. We put in a hollistic approach of systems, people, policies, culture and add a dash of living, learning and caring strategic objectives in the things we do. Hehe..

Needless to say I shan't mention where I work because it'd be too complicated with all that blogging ethics and sensitivities civil servants like myself have to observe la katakan. Kalau tidak mampos aku nanti.

The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini is a devastating and painfully honest and tender story that I've read in recent months. It reminded me of the same internal silence and inspired reaction when I finished reading Life of Pi by Yann Martel. Sheesh... Wonderful stuff!

Folks, go grab a good fiction and uplift your spirits!

1 book down, 2 to go.