Saturday, July 30, 2011

Nursing teacher's $250,000 gift to ITE

Jul 30, 2011

Nursing teacher's $250,000 gift to ITE

Former employee's bequest will be used to help top students

'She wanted to do more for nursing, and she always felt strongly for ITE students, many of whom come from low-income families. She wanted to make their journey easier.'
Ms Gui Siew Boon, on why her sister made the bequest. MsGwee Mui Boon (above) pledged $250,000 to ITE before she died, to help deserving students

Ms Gui, in her 60s, with her sister's former students Marcus Chia, 24, and Carolyn Choo, 23, at a training room in ITE. Ms Gwee's bequest of $250,000 is the largest that ITE has received from a current or former staff member, and will be used to create awards for top nursing students. -- ST PHOTO: NURIA LING

MS GWEE Mui Boon worked as a nurse for nearly 40 years, and also taught student nurses as an instructor at the former School of Nursing and a nursing course manager at the Institute of Technical Education (ITE).
In her last days, as she battled ovarian cancer, she wanted to do even more for the profession she loved so deeply.
As her final act of commitment to nursing, she bequeathed $250,000 of her life savings to ITE in her will. It will be used to set up awards for top nursing students.
Ms Gwee, who was single, died in April last year at the age of 58.
Last Saturday, her elder sister Gui Siew Boon presented ITE chief executive Bruce Poh with a cheque in a ceremony at ITE College East in Simei. Starting next year, two of its top nursing students every year will each receive $500 in cash and a medal.
Ms Gwee's bequest is the largest that the institute has received from a current or former staff member.
Ms Gui, who is in her early 60s, told The Straits Times that her sister's gift to ITE had surprised their family.
'She wanted to do more for nursing, and she always felt strongly for ITE students, many of whom come from low-income families. She wanted to make their journey easier,' said the retired senior executive.
Ms Gui said her sister discovered she had cancer in 2002, but she loved her job and was determined to work even while undergoing treatment.
She finally had to retire in 2008 as her health was deteriorating.
Before joining ITE, she was principal of the School of Nursing then run by the Ministry of Health. She also worked as a nurse at various hospitals.
Ms Gui said her sister set her heart on becoming a nurse after she was admitted to hospital with diphtheria, an upper respiratory tract disease. Then a teenager, she was cared for at the hospital by a kind-hearted nurse.
Ms Gui said her sister took up teaching after excelling at a midwifery course and being selected by her tutor to be a clinical instructor. She also went to Wales and Scotland for courses in nursing education.
Madam Mary Low, 64, a senior nursing lecturer at ITE who had known Ms Gwee for about 30 years, said: 'She was very thrifty and would not spend extra money on clothes or shoes, but she was so generous when it came to helping her students - that was the kind of person she was. She was always thinking about others.'
One of five children, Ms Gwee was raised by her mother, who worked as a washerwoman. Her father died when she was young.
Ms Gui said: 'We were brought up not to spend money unnecessarily. But I knew my sister felt strongly for her students - she would use her own money to pay for their meals when she knew they had no money.
'It was my sister's wish for the award to inspire and motivate nursing students, so they would continue their quest for further education and contribute conscientiously to their chosen profession.'


Saturday, July 23, 2011

'I've no God - and am proud of it'



Jul 23, 2011

'I've no God - and am proud of it'

Humanist Society grows as more who don't believe in a God seek like-minded people

Common belief in a human-centred life

HUMANISM can be a tricky idea to pin down because there are many types of humanists whose life philosophies may seem at odds with one another.

Most are atheists or agnostics, and are known as secular humanists. Others have a faith, and are called religious humanists.

What they have in common is that they believe in a 'human-centred' life.

This is a philosophy that humanists say affirms human beings as having the right and responsibility to give meaning and shape their own lives - without turning to the supernatural.

It promotes an ethical life based on reason, tolerance and compassion. It also says that all knowledge must be derived from evidence and reason.

This is why they have no single fixed opinion of religious people, said Mr Paul Tobin, president of the Humanist Society.

'People are complex and not defined by their religion alone,' he said. 'And also, religious people are not a monolithic group - we understand that.'


'The questions I had about the world, about life and death - I found my answers in science, not religion.'

Land surveyor Loh Kwek Leong, 58


'I've been waiting for this, to find like-minded people.'

Communications manager
Winston Chong, 36


'I suppose if I had a religion, it would be the 'religion of humanity', based on confidence in the indomitability of the human spirit. I would rather have faith, than a faith.'

Author Catherine Lim

Humanist Society president Paul Tobin (left, seated) with his children Elizabeth, three, and William, four, and wife Jacqueline, at a gathering of humanists on Thursday evening at the Singapore Botanic Gardens. -- ST PHOTO: DESMOND WEE

A GROWING number of people here who do not believe in a God have banded together, determined to be unapologetic about being non-religious.

Registered as the Humanist Society (Singapore) last October, their ranks have since expanded from 10 to 100 registered, fee-paying members.

Their backgrounds are as diverse as their reasons for not professing a faith, but they are united by their belief that morality comes from humanity itself.

Calling themselves 'secular humanists', they are also united in their rejection of a theistic or supernatural explanation of reality, and their embracing of scientific inquiry.

Today is a red-letter day: The society presents its inaugural Humanist of the Year award to author Catherine Lim.

Another recent milestone was the society's application to join the International Humanist and Ethical Union, a European body of humanist societies around the world.

The humanists here include artists, government officials, students and entrepreneurs. The youngest member is 19 and the oldest, 65.

Most describe themselves as atheists or agnostics, though some eschew labels. Others are adamantly definitive. Take Nanyang Technological University student Eugene Tay, 24, who declares: 'I'm an atheist-agnostic secular humanist.'

Statistically, the proportion of people here with no religion has climbed steadily in the last 30 years - from 13 per cent in 1980 to 17 per cent last year.

Since non-believers have no church, temple or mosque to go to, they have carved out their space online.

The founding members of the Humanist Society came together in 2008, through, a social networking website.

The online group they formed has more than 500 members.

Since it was set up, the society has cast itself as the voice for the non-religious here. Its president Paul Tobin, 46, wrote to The Straits Times' Forum page last December, in response to a report that suggested that non-religious young people were prone to violence and cynicism. In his letter, he rejected the claim and concluded: 'One does not need to have a religion to lead a good, happy and meaningful life.'

He told The Straits Times: 'That was a watershed moment. After that letter, our numbers shot up. I feel now that we have a say in what goes on in Singapore.'

Land surveyor Loh Kwek Leong, 58, who learnt of the society through this newspaper last year, said he grew up in a typical Chinese household - one that was 'a bit Taoist, a bit Buddhist, a lot superstitious'.

As an adult, he found putting his faith in science better. He said: 'The questions I had about the world, about life and death - I found my answers in science, not religion.'

The group pulls together because of a shared sense of being alone in a society where four in five people profess to believe in a Supreme Being.

Communications manager Winston Chong, 36, who said he has philosophical debates with his parents, who are religious, said: 'It's about time we had a group for ourselves. I've been waiting for this, to find like-minded people.'

As a recipient of the society's award, Dr Lim joins a list of internationally honoured humanists, including astronomer Carl Sagan and evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins.

Asked for her take on religion, she replied via e-mail: 'I suppose if I had a religion, it would be the 'religion of humanity', based on confidence in the indomitability of the human spirit. I would rather have faith, than a faith.'

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Catering to the elderly, and not just the young

Home > Money > Story

Jul 18, 2011


Catering to the elderly, and not just the young

Firms should invest in marketing to seniors too as the population ages

WAY back when I wanted to buy a laptop for myself, I decided to buy an Apple model. Much of that decision was based on the fact that the Apple computer was far more ergonomic and easier to manoeuvre than other brands.

Then, when my mother got one after she saw mine, she was surprised at the ease with which she could navigate Apple's user interface. When she'd get confused by a problem, she'd just surf onto Google and find out what she needed.

Her church friends - and of course, us children - thought she was extremely savvy and decided to nickname her 'iPat' before iPads even came out.

Product marketing, as opposed to niche marketing, is precisely the approach companies should take, says Mr Kim Walker. The 56-year-old chief executive of the Silver Group has held various positions in Asia-Pacific marketing and media companies.

It occurred to him one day that companies that invest in too 'niche' a market are, by definition, cutting themselves out of that larger majority market.

What made him sit up and take notice was the World Population Ageing report issued by the United Nations. It had said: 'Population ageing is unprecedented, without parallel in human history.'

As a marketing consultant, it was a statement that had him flummoxed. If it were true, shouldn't companies be widening their catchment net to include the older baby boomers, and not just concentrate on Generation Y?

So he's been studying marketing and its effects on baby boomers - quite the opposite from the approach of most marketers, who invest a lot in reaching out to Generation Y though viral marketing.

However, a small number of companies have no difficulty appealing to the elderly, and direct their efforts at reaching the young instead.

For example, Brand's Essence of Chicken recently launched an advertising campaign geared towards engaging youth. Its brand, admits Ms Geetha Balakrishna, the general manager of Cerebos Pacific, which owns the brand, tends to be skewed towards older folk.

After getting submissions for a 30-second television commercial, it finally decided on a campaign that tested people's mental alertness. Apart from the usual posters at bus stops or in retail spaces, the outreach effort set out to engage the younger generation - including the setting up of a Facebook page that allows users to play a game to test their mental alertness. It also got the help of 60 local bloggers to take its whole campaign to the digital space.

Said Ms Balakrishna: 'Through these efforts, we hope the next generation grows up with us the way their parents have.'

According to Mr Walker, however, segmenting customers into demographics might not be the best method.

He explained: 'Investing in shares of companies that boast 'age-friendly' business lines may be a once-in-a-lifetime chance to make money from this booming opportunity.'

According to his research, the number of people in Asia above 60 years of age is expected to be 1.2 billion by 2050. They will control 80 per cent of personal financial assets and more than 50 per cent of discretionary spending power. In fact, they will be responsible for more than half of all consumer spending, and it is said they will amass an estimated wealth of $11 trillion in the Asia-Pacific alone.

Bringing home the concept of 'age-friendly' businesses to Singapore, he identified Osim. Said Mr Walker: 'Its massage chairs were naturally geared to the more mature crowd, but it has gone out of its way to project its 'ageless' culture. Anyone can use its chairs.'

SMRT Corp is another 'age-friendly' company. He pointed out that some train stations have benches with arms at the side to help the elderly stand or sit easily.

'It's these little things that make the customer experience friendly for older customers.'

The reason it is important to be 'age-friendly', Mr Walker said, is that the baby boomers of today are going to be around for quite a while. Ignoring this universal phenomenon would be a big mistake on the part of companies, as the current members of Generation X get older, while Generation Y numbers start to fall.

'This is so important, not just in Asia but across the globe. Currently, in the United States, for example, there are more people under 65 than people under 20. The problem is very few companies are aware of this,' he said.

Returning to Apple as an 'age-friendly' company, he said the clarity of its website, the clean design of its stores and advertising that focuses on the product, and not a person, all goes towards an 'age-friendly' environment.

Going through his wishlist, he added: 'All it needs is a few older sales people and maybe some chairs for the older people to rest.'