DPM Tharman: Ride waves of change to stay ahead

Singaporeans must be prepared to ride wave after wave of change to stay ahead, Deputy Prime Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam said yesterday.

Each wave will disrupt and displace jobs, but people can make up by being part of the new opportunities created, he added.

This will involve significant changes in education and culture. Singaporeans must have diverse experiences when young, which will help them develop the soft skills needed to embrace change.

People should embrace the mindset that they must keep growing throughout life, Mr Tharman said.

The young should also be encouraged to have more free play, which gives birth to "a sense of dare and ambition", to foster entrepreneurs.

Singapore has an advantage.

"We are starting from a position where we don't have big problems. We... have a legacy of a strong education system," he said. "More diverse experiences, growing through life, and more free play when young is not going to wreck the system. We can only improve."

The dialogue at Bukit Batok Community Club with residents aged between 17 and 35 was organised by the People's Association Youth Executive Committees in Jurong GRC, Yuhua and Bukit Batok.

Participants discussed issues that Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong had raised at last month's National Day Rally with all five Jurong GRC MPs and Bukit Batok MP Murali Pillai.

They had questions on the impact of disruptive technology on jobs, ways to encourage entrepreneurship, and changes to the elected presidency, in particular the provision to have minority presidents from time to time as the office symbolises Singapore's multiracialism.

Bus driver who lost eye in attack: 'I'll never forgive him'

PERMANENT DAMAGE: (Left) Mr Chen Ming showing the scars around his left, prosthetic eye. (Below) An X-ray scan of his face after the attack.
PERMANENT DAMAGE: An X-ray scan of his face after the attack.

Through no fault of his, he lost the use of his left eye and his livelihood of 20 years.

On Aug 19, 2014, private bus driver Chen Ming was waiting at a school to pick up some students for a sports event when a man knocked on the window of his chartered vehicle.

When he alighted from his bus, the man struck his left eye with a pair of pliers.

The blow completely ruptured Mr Chen's left eyeball and doctors had to remove it. The loss of vision in his left eye caused him to lose his job as a bus driver.

Last Wednesday (Sept 21), the attacker, Tan Poh Huat, 61, a coffee shop owner, was jailed 33 months for the attack.

For Mr Chen, now 53, the pain may have subsided, but the unprovoked attack left him jobless, with an uncertain future, including a marriage on the rocks.

"Forgive him? Definitely not. If I had hit him (with my bus), I would have been okay to pay him back," he told The New Paper in Mandarin at his lawyer's office last Thursday (Sept 22).

"But I didn't do anything to him and he did this to me. I'll never forgive him."

Mr Chen, a Singapore permanent resident who came here from Fujian, China, about 30 years ago, said he had been driving to Bukit Merah Secondary School that day when he spotted Tan repairing his coffee shop signboard on a grass patch next to a kerb near the school.

He remembered slowing down and taking extra care when driving into the school compound, where he parked his bus to wait for the students.

While he was on his mobile phone, an irate Tan suddenly appeared beside his vehicle and knocked on his window with a pair of pliers.

"He said I had almost driven into him and knocked into him. I know I hadn't, so I ignored him.

"But he continued banging on the window and I was afraid he would smash it. So I got out," Mr Chen said.


Tan again accused Mr Chen of reckless driving.

Mr Chen calmly denied it a second time, but Tan turned violent and hit Mr Chen's left eye with the pliers before leaving the scene.

"I immediately couldn't see with my left eye. There wasn't any pain at first. I tried to go after him, but I couldn't keep up.

"It was only a while later that it started hurting and I realised I was bleeding badly. The blood flowed non-stop," he said.

Mr Chen staggered to the school's general office and a teacher called the police.

"All I remember was the pain. I was in so much pain I couldn't even talk to the police officers when they asked me what happened," he said.

An ambulance arrived, but Mr Chen said he passed out from the pain on the way to the hospital.

By the time he regained consciousness, doctors had already operated on his eye.

Then came the bad news.

"Doctors said the surgery couldn't save my eye and they had to remove it. It was too badly ruptured.

"I was in grief. I was the sole breadwinner and I relied on my sight to work to feed my family," he said.

On Sept 18, 2014, he underwent a second operation to remove his left eyeball and he was later fitted with a prosthetic eye, which costs between $2,000 and $2,500 and has to be replaced every two to three years.

"I remember being in hospital for more than a month in total. I didn't cry myself to sleep, but lying alone on the hospital bed, thinking about my future, made me sad," Mr Chen said.

He was sacked from the bus company, which he said in his victim impact statement had paid him about $4,500 a month, due to the loss of vision in his left eye.

A spokesman for the company confirmed this with TNP, but added that it had "no choice as (Mr Chen) was unfit to drive".

Mr Chen said he does not bear a grudge against his former employer, although he has been unable to nail down a new job.

"I tried a job collecting bowls at a coffee shop, but was told to go home after breaking too many bowls as I have trouble gauging distances and balancing," he said.

His wife, who is in her 40s, had to work as a dishwasher, earning between $800 and $870 a month.

"She's been nagging and scolding me every day about our situation. She's also said she's terrified of my prosthetic eye," he said.

They live in a three-room flat in Eunos with their 13-year-old daughter, who will be taking her PSLEthis year.

"Thankfully, my daughter has been very understanding," he said.

He said he now spends his days at home as he is too afraid to go out.

In his victim impact statement, he said his family had been relying on his savings over the past two years and had already depleted almost $40,000 of his savings.

He told TNP: "I'm scared I will get into another accident. I have trouble even walking in a straight line. I'm even more afraid to spend money."

Mr Chen said he respected the court's decision in sentencing Tan, but added that he plans to take civil action to get back what he lost.

His lawyer, Mr Raphael Louis of Ray Louis Law, said they would be seeking damages of about $800,000 for Mr Chen's loss of current and future earnings, past and future medical expenses, and for the pain and injuries he suffered.

Said Mr Chen: "I lost half my world. I just hope to be able to get back some form of justice."

Tags: Court, Crime and blind

MBS valet captain, 69, in hospital after being hit by taxi

A 69-year-old valet captain from MBS is in hospital after he was hit by a taxi.
A 69-year-old valet captain from MBS is in hospital after he was hit by a taxi.

A Marina Bay Sands (MBS) valet captain was hit by a taxi on Saturday afternoon (Sept 24).

In a video sent to citizen journalism website Stomp, the 69-year-old man is seen walking on a driveway as the red Trans-Cab taxi approaches.

He tries to evade it, but it sends him flying before it hits a pillar.



Both he and the 52-year-old taxi driver were taken to Singapore General Hospital, the police and the Singapore Civil Defence Force said.

An MBS spokesman said the man had been on duty at the time, adding: “He is being treated in hospital. We are rendering assistance to him and his family... and are helping the authorities in their investigations.”

The Straits Times reported that the police and the SCDF received calls at around 1.30pm about the incident.

When contacted by ST about the accident, Trans-Cab said it was investigating.

Taking good care of hair

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Van Basten gets 
Fifa role

Marco van Basten.
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Water a weapon of war in Syrian city

BOMBED: People inspecting a hole filled with water in a damaged site after airstrikes on the rebel-held Tariq al-Bab neighbourhood of Aleppo on Friday.
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'Fifa statutes not set in stone'

Various parties can propose revisions, but need to get support from voting members

“Now we have the perfect platform for armchair critics to come out and speak up on what they think will be good for our football.” — Ex-Woodlands Wellington general manager R Vengadasalam (above), who is managing a team of candidates, on the delay in the constitutional amendments
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Tags: Football and Singapore