The Tempinis diaries

May 23, 2009

New University in Singapore

Filed under: education, singapore — Tags: , — toru @ 3:41 am

Singapore is set to open a new university. The preliminary ground work seems pretty impressive.


MIT tie-up to kick-start 4th uni
By Amresh Gunasingham

‘Traditionally in Singapore, we have established universities that start off with undergraduate studies, before moving on to postgraduate studies and then research,’ Dr Tan explained. — ST PHOTO: CHEW SENG KIM

A US$100 million (S$146 million) international design centre is in the works to kick-start Singapore’s fourth university.
A tie-up with the the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), the centre would meld architecture, engineering and information systems to come up with, say, a must-have electronic gadget, or the best transport system for a fast-expanding Singapore.

The idea is to have research efforts firmly rooted before taking in students, said National Research Foundation chairman Tony Tan. Announcing the ambitious new proposal on Friday, he said that if all goes well, the centre could be up and running next year, a year before the university is even ready.

This would turn the current approach to university education on its head.

‘Traditionally in Singapore, we have established universities that start off with undergraduate studies, before moving on to postgraduate studies and then research,’ Dr Tan explained.

‘Under the proposed model, we will establish a research centre with a sound research base first before taking in graduate students and undergraduate students.’

Research universities around the world were no longer just education institutions, but were making their mark as key driving forces of economic growth, he added.

‘They are places where new knowledge is created by faculty members and students which facilitates the transformation of this knowledge into new industries and commercially viable enterprises.’

At MIT, for example, researchers and students have founded enterprises that produce output equivalent to the gross domestic product (GDP) of the 17th largest economy in world. ‘This is significantly larger than our GDP…and underscores the importance for universities to be able to produce original research,’ he said.

Dr Tan, speaking during a visit to the Centre for Quantum Technology (CQT) at the National University of Singapore, said the design centre would add to the diversity of the tertiary education landscape here, and expects it to be well received by students and parents.

June 17, 2008

Foreign Students: Raising the Bar

Filed under: education, singapore, studying in Singapore — Tags: , , — toru @ 1:59 pm

Singapore’s Nanyang Technological University (“NTU”) recently won an Asian debating contest. The interesting thing is that the debaters from the winning NTU team were all Indian nationals. While there is the perennial debate raging in Singapore about the necessity of foreign talent in Singapore and how they marginalize the locals, the undeniable fact is that these foreign students in Singaporean universities do, in general, raise the bar and competition for local students.


They’re Asia’s best debaters

Loh Chee Kong
WITH three teams in the semi-finals this year, there was no better chance for a Singapore university to be crowned Asia’s king of varsity debate after an eight-year hiatus.

And so it proved, with a classic David versus Goliath battle no less: The team from Nanyang Technological University — comprising relatively inexperienced debaters — stunned seven-time regional champions, the Philippines’ Ateneo de Manila University, in the 4th Asian Universities Debating Championship (AUDC) two weeks ago.

Squad captain Madhav Janakiraman, 20, who was part of the three-member team in the finals, said: “We were quite nervous. We knew we were the underdogs. But we prepared very strategically, trying to assess what the other team’s weaknesses were and how to take them on.”


June 13, 2008

A Recent Restatement of Singapore’s Education Policy

Filed under: education, singapore — Tags: , , , — toru @ 3:18 pm

The new Education Minister, Ng Eng Hen, set out Singapore’s education policy in a speech recently. His full speech can be found here. I have excerpted the parts on Universities below. In a nutshell, it seems that Singapore’s plan is diversification of institutions, research collaboration with reputable foreign universities and developing extensive global exchange programmes for local undergraduate students. All very sound and sensible moves.

The Malaysian Education Ministry and Vice Chancellors of universities in Malaysia should study some of these initiatives carefully with a view to emulating them.



27We have three publicly funded local universities: the National University of Singapore (NUS), the Nanyang Technological University (NTU) and the Singapore Management University (SMU). NUS and NTU have established themselves as world-class research universities, ranked amongst the top 100 universities in the world by the Times Higher Education Supplement World University Rankings in 2007. SMU, though young, has quickly established a reputation for producing high-quality graduates who are confident, street-smart and articulate.

28To add value to their students, our universities must maintain high standards of admission and performance. They must also act as strategic engines for Singapore’s long term economic advancement. Thus, our universities have developed programmes to nurture and groom top talents.

29Take for example, NTU’s C N Yang Scholars Programme. This is an undergraduate programme designed for top science and engineering students. C N Yang Scholars are assigned faculty mentors who guide their entire academic programme. The programme provides a strong and broad foundation in the basics of science and mathematics, and empowers students to delve deeper into any discipline in science, technology, engineering and mathematics, and to develop an interest in forefront research.

30There is also the University Scholars Programme (USP) in NUS. Graduates from this programme participate in interdisciplinary modules on a range of topics, from Human Relations and Ethics, and the Environment. Part of the programme involves student interaction with top universities around the world, such as Waseda University in Japan.


May 4, 2008

A Lazy Sunday with Mrs. T

Filed under: life, singapore — Tags: , , — toru @ 1:39 pm

Quite an enjoyable low stress and lazy Sunday with Mrs. T. Went shopping with Mrs. T at Vivo City. Had coffee and thick peanut butter toast at Toast Box (yum!). Went to the Mark and Spencer sale but didn’t manage to buy anything. Bought clothes from Topshop and Bossini. And then a late lunch at Food Republic.

Mrs. T and I noticed that it was not crowded as usual at Vivo City. It suits us just fine but I think it’s a sign that the recession is well and truly here. People not shopping with a vengeance (which is rare in Singapore).

Did my usual Turbulence Training and had a seafood hor fun at the Cze Char restaurant.

Happy days.

April 26, 2008

Chua Lee Hoong and her Infinite Wisdom

Filed under: singapore — Tags: , — toru @ 2:08 pm

Chua Lee Hoong wrote today in ST: “But the Mas Selamat escape? What loss has there been, except that of face – mostly?”

Gee – I thought that this was a terrorist who wanted to hijack a plane and crash it into Changi airport. What loss indeed?

April 20, 2008

Review of Liu San Ge at Bukit Timah Plaza

Filed under: food — Tags: , , — toru @ 11:09 am

Liu San Ge is one of my favourite noodles place in the Bukit Timah vicinity. It serves simple Taiwanese food and is great for a simple lunch or dinner. Mrs. T and I like to eat at this place because we can do our grocery shopping at Bukit Timah Plaza at NTUC Finest after that.

We always order the same things when we go there. Mrs. T will have the ja chiang mian and I will have the tan zhai mian (pork mince and noodle soup). And we will have two plates of dumplings – one fried and one steamed. Usually, I will have a cup of soya as well. The shop owner and his waitresses are quite warm and friendly. I am not so good with the other Taiwanese food served there like their fish cake, mi jiang etc. One day, I will muster enough courage to try the oyster vermicelli.

Overall, highly recommended for a hearty meal at a good price.

April 6, 2008

Review of Teochew Cuisine Restaurant

Filed under: food — Tags: , , , — toru @ 12:34 pm

Went to Teochew Cuisine Restaurant at Bukit Batok with Mrs. T which is located in an unassuming HDB Block (Block 132) at Bukit Batok West Avenue 6. We weren’t very hungry and so we ordered three small dishes – duck breast with taupok, nai pai (baby bok choy) with dried scallops and fish soup. We were quite surprised that all dishes were above average. The duck was really good. And best of all the seasoning of the food in this place is very light and subtle – just like how Teochew food should be. The bill came up to S$ 29. The chef and service staff are from China. I found the waitresses to be attentive and friendly. And their dipping sauces are quite unusual and delicious.

We were too full to have orh nee (the yam dessert). But this is a restaurant we will definitely come back to. I will probably return with friends so that we can order more. I have my eye on the cold dish and the crabs.

Review of Cafe Fahrenheit at Eng Kong

Filed under: food — Tags: , , — toru @ 12:33 pm

It seems that restaurants are popping up in all the most ulu parts of Singapore. Lunch was at Cafe Fahrenheit at Eng Kong. Mrs. T really liked the location of the cafe and said she would definitely be back. We ordered a bruschetta and eggs benedict to share. The bruschetta was above average and I liked the tangy pasta salad that went with it. The eggs benedict did not fare so well. While the poached egg, sauce and spinach was quite delicious (Anthony Bourdain would say pornographic – the way the yolk oozed out), the English muffin below spoilt the dish for me. I thought English muffins were supposed to be tasteless, like bread. At least that’s the kind of English muffins I had in England. Their English muffin tasted like – a muffin. The sweetness at the bottom of the savoury dish just totally threw me and spoilt the dish for me. Guess I wont be ordering that when I next come here.

Anyway, I surfed around and saw that they seemed to do very good desserts. I will probably come back here for the strawberry dessert.

April 1, 2008

How Malaysia has failed its gifted children

Filed under: education, malaysia, singapore — Tags: , , , , — toru @ 12:19 pm

This is a follow up post on Sufiah Yusof. It must be really difficult being a child genius. Growing up from your awkward phase is already hard enough – imagine being put in a class where everyone is much older than you. Also, all that expectations heaped on a child can’t be healthy. Besides Sufiah Yusof, the other Malaysian genius, Chiang Ti-Ming, also had an extremely difficult time coping with the pressure. There is also a newspaper story on Ti Ming below.

Perhaps, for these kids the answer is not to put them with older kids or in a university. A more safe and nurturing environment may be to place them with other gifted kids. In the article below written in 1997, Lim Kit Siang talked about how Malaysia has failed its gifted children. I contrast this with the story below on NUS High School written in 2006. What Lim Kit Siang proposed then is now a reality in Singapore in the form of NUS High School. One can’t help but feel gratified and inspired by reading the stories of these talented young children. Hopefully, students like Carmen Cheh from Perak will grow up to be happy and well-adjusted adults. If only Sufiah and Ti-Ming had such schools where they live. Perhaps, they wouldn’t have suffered as much.


Sunday August 13, 2006
School for aspiring Einsteins and Hawkings

Singapore Straits Times education correspondent SANDRA DAVIE visited NUS High School of Maths and Science to try and keep up with the young Einsteins, and came away impressed.
IT IS a lesson on contraceptive methods for a group of 15-year-olds. At any other secondary school, a topic like this would have brought on blushes and giggles.

Not at the National University of Singapore High School of Mathematics and Science (NUS High). The 14 boys and 10 girls in a class taught by a young biology PhD graduate are more interested in the science of contraception.

After Dr Seah Wee Khee, 27, shows them a condom, the intra-uterine device and diaphragm, they launch into spirited sparring.

Year Four students (from left) Zhai Wei Chao, Zhao Ye, Lei Lei and Tan Li, hanging out at the Astronomy Club’s observatory which sits atop the roof of the 12-storey hostel. – ST/ANN pic


March 30, 2008

Review of Sweet Salty Spicy

Mrs. T and I went shopping for shoes and nuts today at Bugis. After my usual coffee at Hup Cheong and bean curd with gingko nuts at Bukit Timah Food Centre, we went to Bugis to hunt for a pair of black shoes from Charles and Keith for Mrs. T. We got what Mrs. T wanted and then went hunting for nuts at the famous Fu Lu Shou Complex. The place was on top of a hawker centre near OG. It reminded me of Hong Kong. Anyway, the place sold lots of dried goods and also nuts. It wasn’t very hygienic – but the prices were good and certainly cheaper than NTUC. I will probably toast the nuts in the oven before I eat them. I bought lots of walnuts, cashews, peanuts and almonds. Hopefully, my stash will last me at least 3 months.


I decided to go to Bukit Timah Nature Reserve this evening with Mrs. T. Took an off the main road trek (Catchment Path) to Summit Hut. Didn’t manage to take the Dairy Farm Loop though. Anyway, it was getting dark and the I didn’t fancy being stuck at night in a secondary jungle. All in all it was a pretty good trek.


Mrs. T and I went to Sweet Salty Spicy at Rail Mall for dinner. The restaurant was very stylish from the outside. Nice beautiful mural of orchids on the walls, black slate floor, wooden tables and a lot of glass like a posh Italian deli. We ordered the sharing platter, pad thai and green mango salad. Unfortunately, the food did not match the very nice ambience. The pad thai was so salty it made my hair stand – it’s a mistake to put in salty chunky dried shrimps (hae bi) and sweet chai por in the pad thai. The sharing platter was also not too great – the soft shell crab was passable, the crispy crackers with chicken curry were not very nice (crackers weren’t as crispy as the ones in Patara and the chicken curry dip was too salty) and the pomelo on betel nut was all wrong (the blend of saltiness, chilli, sweetness and spice was not done well). The mango salad was also pretty weird. It had salmon flakes and was not sour, sweet or hot enough. We paid close to 60 bucks for two. Mrs. T said we would never come back again. I bet the chef is not Thai. No self respecting Thais will serve food like that. Maybe I have been too spoiled by the wonderful Thai food at Thai Noodle House at Coronation or the Thai Cze Char place at Beauty World Hawker Centre.

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