Archive for April, 2008

Pardon me, I’m in the mood for Queen today.


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Me and Sherms went for the Crowbar Seminar yesterday, and it was really quite inspiring to be listening to leaders in the creative industry talk about what they were passionate about, and encourage the younger generation (ie. us) to explore the advertising world. Although I’m more interested in doing copy than design, I was really inspired by Chris Lee from Asylum and Roy Poh from Beautiful (formerly from Kinetic). Although both of them are Creative Directors, Chris was really funny and Roy seemed to resemble a quiet, shy teenager. In all the presenters – from those in the design field, to maestros of photography and film, and gurus of advertising – the passion and understanding of humanity was obvious, and immensely appealing.

For those interested in the Crowbar Awards 2008, find out how you can beat Billy Lee (above), the precocious 6-year old advertising genius who I personally want to beat up.

The Crowbar Awards, organised by the 4As, gives students throughout the Asian region the opportunity to showcase their work – whether it be film, photography, design, advertising or interactive – and is judged by leaders in the creative field. Closing date for entries is 9th May 2008.

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For those of you wondering about the photos and haikus I’ve been putting up, well, it was my lazy attempt to show you how me and Jacqueline’s exhibition looked like. The exhibition has come and gone, but I really look back on it with a smile, it was truly one of the few things where I could show people what I was about. And if you’re interested, you can see the full exhibition here.

These few days I’ve been absent from the online world, well mainly I’ve been catching up on my sleep and enjoying my newfound freedom. But as often is the case with freedom that is newfound, you find yourself with a lot of time and nothing to do.

And so I’m trying to find an internship at the moment (PR, corp comm or advertising), something that will last me till end August, before I head of to Vienna for my exchange. Which is one of the highlights of my year, if not my entire life.

Now excuse me while I write more cover letters…

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(Inspired by Mark and Daryl’s posts)

Once upon a time, when the giants NTU and NUS ruled the Singaporean university scene, a little known kid called SMU appeared from nowhere, and said,


NTU and NUS turned their noses up and ignored the newcomer, and it was easy for them to do so, because everyone else wasn’t paying any attention to little SMU either, so young and inexperienced as he was.

But SMU was undeterred. He felt that the old system needed to be changed: lecture halls filled with hundreds of students fervently copying notes as fast as the professor could utter them, lack of interaction between students and professors, a lacklustre environment where most students felt nameless, faceless, soul-less…

So he called for an era of change.

“No more crowded lecture halls, but small class sizes where students get to interact with professors!”

“We interview each and every applicant to see if he can fit into the culture, because grades aren’t everything!”

“We don’t want to reward mere memorisation of facts, let’s include group projects and class participation!”

“SMU. Because we’re different!”

It was indeed, at the time, revolutionary. It was a wonderful message indeed.

Unfortunately, not everyone was ready for such a message. Society wasn’t ready for such a message.

Thus, most people viewed those who went to SMU as rejects of NUS and NTU, or worse, mavericks who were taking a silly risk.

But the mavericks, they didn’t care what society thought. They knew that they had something special, and in fact they held a particular pride in bucking the trend, a veritable “screw you” to the naysayers.

Skip ahead a couple of years, and the world suddenly changed. Suddenly graduates from SMU looked real impressive. They were smart, they were confident, they were great communicators and most important of all, they were hired. They were indeed different.

Now, public opinion is truly a funny thing. Suddenly, the little nobody SMU became the young upstart everyone was talking about, and NUS and NTU started feeling hot under their collars a little bit. Soon, they too were talking about being “multi-disciplinary”, “broad-based” and “interactive”.

And when applications for universities opened once again, SMU found itself inundated with applications, and by the best and the brightest, no less.

Soon enough, as these things do, things started to change.

The grade criteria for entry into the different schools suddenly became way higher than ever, and took more precedence.

Class participation became a dirty word, and everybody knew (and hated) that guy who “talked for the sake of talking”.

Competition between students became the norm. Everybody tried to top each other in everything, and the dreaded “bell curve” made things even worse.

The library became a second home to most students, “break week” was a misnomer, and going to school onĀ  a Sunday became the norm.

And the school suddenly became way.too.crowded.

Suddenly, “being different” started looking like exactly the same.


To answer the question I posted in the title of this post, yes, I do believe SMU has become a victim of its own success. There was a time I was truly proud of being from SMU. These days…not so much. Sure it’s a business school, but the level at which the rat race has crept into university life is truly something a lot of us find hard to believe. Some say it’s because of the city campus, some say it’s the marketing, some just say… hard luck, that’s the way the cookie crumbles.

Call me idealistic, but I think SMU had something special in the beginning, and somewhere along the way, it lost the plot somewhat. I think I’ve been luckier than some in that I got to do something I truly believe in, something beyond getting the perfect grades, and I truly hope that everybody gets to experience this in some form or another. Life is not all about that perfect presentation, that A+ that you spent all your time in the library for, or that ungraded presentation that for some reason became yet another game of one-upmanship.

Don’t get me wrong, I know some of the most talented and intelligent individuals in this school, but most of us agree that things just aren’t the same anymore.

SMU, revisit your ideals once more. Then ask yourself, am I shortchanging those that believed in me from the start? If the answer is yes, then let’s change the situation. It isn’t too late.

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waiting, in stasis

as others take historic flight

pursuing their dreams

photos by Jacqueline.

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inner consciousness

lights up and dims as body moves

from this square, to that

photos by Jacqueline

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morning interrupted

I wonder if we are moving

forwards, or backwards

photos taken by Jacqueline.

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