The Attended And Unattended In Changi Airport

Security not taken seriously enough at Changi Airport, Letters on the Web News & Top Stories – The Straits Times

That’s interesting. Ape’s encounter was a totally different experience. In total, 7 security related officers turned up in different shades and forms to attend to an unattended bag. The bag must be begging for attention.

Not too long ago, ape happened to be in Changi Airport, happened to come across an unattended bag laying innocently on the floor in front of the lift lobby. Ape scanned around. The area was pretty deserted. That part of the airport was mostly offices. Members of the public don’t go there other than attend to some official office business. No one was in sight then. Well, ape took out his phone amd called the Airport Police and reported it. How did ape know what number to call? Being a paranoid, ape is one who likes to read escape routes, identify the nearest exit points or fire extinguishers and emergency contact numbers. It was in plain sight if one cares to look up from the smartphones and check out the surroundings.

The officer who received the call informed ape that he would dispatch some officers and requested ape to stay until his colleagues arrive. Ape wasn’t in any hurry and the bag seemed so so lonely so ape waited. Before long, someone with a trolley type luggage, commonly used by flight crews, stepped out of the lift and spotted the bag. He was the owner. Apparently, he placed that ‘abandoned’ bag on top of his luggage and it must have fallen off unnoticed when he was rushing for the lift earlier. Ape thought he heard the abandoned bag crying for joy since the owner came back for him. Or it could be ape’s imagination. Anyway, Owner agreed to stay with ape until the police arrived to explain the situation.

It was a good 10 minutes when the first pair arrived in plainclothes. They didn’t identify themselves and the first thing said from one of them was “Where is the bag? Is this the bag?” with one hand holding the phone to his ear and the other hand pointing at the bag. He seemed to be receiving some last minute instructions over the phone but ape can’t be sure. All ape heard was his intermittent replies in the form of “Mm… ah… or…” When he’s finally done on the phone, he looked up at both of us and identified one as the Caller, yours truly, and the Owner. The Plainclothes took down our particulars, enquire for some additional information. Instructed the Owner’s partner to step aside  (aside meant a distance that’s perhaps somewhere from 3 to 5 metres away from the bag, ape estimated) while the 4 of us (Called, Owner, Plainclothes x 2) were within a meter from the bag.

Ape reckoned it was about 15mins from the time the call was made when the next wave of security officers arrived. A trio. They were from Certis Cisco as can be seen from their uniforms and one of them can be identified as a Screener from the grey shirt commonly sighted at the screening points doing their stuff in the airport. The screener was holding a bag. She took out a pair of gloves from it and when given the signal from the Plainclothes, she proceeded to do her stuff. She set her bag on the floor and took out a wet tissue and started cleaning the abandoned bag or that’s what ape thought at first – so nice of her. Then she put the tissue into her bag and gestured to the Plainclothes. That’s when ape realised she’s swabbing for something with that piece of tissue paper. Perhaps there’s a chihuahua in the bag that could sniff traces of prohibited items like drugs or bombs? It must be! The bag couldn’t hold any larger dog. However, ape heard the Plainclothes mumbled “sabre” or something like that. Sabre? Sabre toothed tiger? Ape thought that animal extinct long ago. Anyway, Plainclothes went back to his phone and typed more notes while the screener removed her gloves, placed them back inside and zipped up her bag before returning to her always-ready standing position. Ape was watching everyone. Owner had his arms folded, looking at the floor beside his bag. Screener standing in senang diri position, arms behind her bag but her eyes were attentive. The two Plainclothes and the other two uniformed were… just hanging around. Owner partner standing at the not so far end was chatting with someone. As if sensing the moment was kind of awkward, Plainclothes with phone spoke to us and said we had to wait for “resources”. Ape wondered what “resources”. Perhaps some snacks and refreshments? Or maybe some fierce, heavily armed SWAT team to burst out of the lift with assault rifle, smoke granede or some shit like that?

It must be at least 20 minutes since ape made his call. 2 more uniformed officers arrived in a slow, leisurely stroll. Kind of resembling prison wardens patrolling the cells without the baton rolling across the jail bars. The senior of the final duo (Ape can see his crab with more bars then the other on his uniform) identified the lost-but-found bag, the Caller and the Owner, took stock of the situation and told ape he could leave. Well, ape left. Ape’s almost late for an appointment with the local favourite – Singapore Chilly Crab. Good thing ape don’t carry any bags else he might absentmindly left his bag behind in the rush to meet his appointment. 

Ape reflected over the whole episode while crunching the shells of the crab. Of the 7 Wonders  (Ape wondered about the 7 officers), ape thought the Screener must be the most professional. Her pace was neither leisurely nor rushing. The first moment ape spotted her, her eyes were checking out the situation, roving from person to person before setting down on the bag. She did what she did as if she had been doing what she did the whole of her lifetime, systematically with precision. It was more interesting watching her than Military Police throwing their rifles around during Drill Performance at National Day Parade. When she had nothing to do, she would stand attentively on the ready for whatever came next. Ape wouldn’t be surprised if there was a nuclear fallout or zombie apolocalypse and she would know exactly what to do. At least that’s what ape thought reflecting on her posture and demeanour. She must be the most well trained, experienced and senior among the lot because she seemed to be the oldest or perhaps only second to the last to arrive with crab-and-many-bars.

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Replaced by Machines?

The world’s first artificially intelligent lawyer was just hired at a law firm – Business Insider

Worry not the day when machines replaced humans but the day when machines fail and humans know not what to do.

Cars helped humans travel across distance faster. Type writers helped humans write a report faster. With computers and word processing software, not only writing is faster, grammar mistakes, spelling errors are picked up easily, formatting and corrections are done with just a few mouse clicks. Ape is just bringing up some of the simplest examples of how machines have aided humans.

Now, machines not just aid humans to process tasks faster, intelligence are built into machines to analyse information and flag out anomalies or run through an whole lot of data to pick out specific information. What most people would call human errors will be eliminated when machines replaces humans, wouldn’t it? Ape will share a leaf from the sacred text The Kin Jio Leaf.

According to The Kin Jio Leaf Volume MCCXY, Chapter XI, Leaflet V….

There was a department of about 20 staffers on shift rotation, working 24/7 everyday. Their job was simple. Information and reports would come in from everywhere. They would key in the data and the Processor would reformat and reorganise the information to be addressed to specific recipients before the staffers would redistribute it out. Came that fateful day when the Processor was upgraded and “automated” to receive information directly from the senders, process those information and sends it out to the recipients. Staffers no longer need to receive the information, key it in and do the sending. It’s all “automated”… so to speak. The staffers almost got “right-sized” aka retrenched. Almost because information from senders do not always come in a standard format that was recognisable by the upgraded Automated Processor. Such problematic information will be transferred to a “Human Fix It” folder where the staffers would read the information, adjust it before pushing it back to the Automated Processor. The staffers got to retain their jobs but the thought of “right sizing” still floated in the minds of management – perhaps 20 Staffers could be reduced to 10? Luck was one their side again when the Automated Processor failed. In spite of the fact that there’s a Backup Automated Processor, that too failed to work because of a common software bug. The whole operation was grinded to a halt. The oldest of the staffers recalled fondly how they used to work with just fax machines. The fax machines from senders and to recipients were available then. Most of the staffers were also trained on how to analyse the data the manual way. Thus, they quickly contacted all senders and told them to send via fax. When the information was processed, they would contact the recipients to receive their reports via fax too. The process was slower than what the Processor could do but nevertheless, the job was done.

The bug was eventually removed. Not only the Automated Processor was fixed, it was given an enhancement to be Enhanced Automated Processor (EAP). It had several layers of redundancies and fail safe mechanisms. It could also process most of the nonstandard information and standardised it. The EAP ran for a few years without any hiccups. The staffers got the nice pink letters that contain the statement “The management thank you for your contributions over the years and wish you best in all your future endeavours.” Only a handful of young and lower paid staffers were denied the pink letters because the EAP couldn’t solve all nonstandard information – the “Human Fix It” folder was still there. Over time, even those staffers that remained were eventually replaced by newer and lower paid newbies who were trained and only trained to standardise nonstandard information. By then, no one had any idea what those machines that look like printers yet not printers were sitting in that corner collecting dust. Thus, the fax machines were also removed and ungraciously thrown into the dump. The fax machines did have their pink letters though but the heading read “Depreciated Assets To Be Scrapped” without any words of appreciation.

Then came that fateful day the EAP failed. …
Unfortunately, the subsequent pages in The Kin Jio Leaf were too badly deteriorated for the text to be legible. Damn the Enhanced Reproduction Processor (ERP) that is suppose to scan the sacred text for signs of deterioration and reprint a copy before the text become illegible. Please excuse ape now as he needs to recall the pink letter sent to the librarian.

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Injustice…

Two Monkeys Were Paid Unequally

Some of you might have seen this clip or read about this experiment. It was supposed to establish if monkeys have a sense of (in)justice.

Ape is not fond of monkeys. Nevertheless, they remain a distant cousin of the apes. Ape can almost hear the monkey shouting “Take that you bitch!” Have to give it to this monkey for the courage to stand up to injustice.

The sad truth is, it is still in the cage.

How many of us are like the monkey? Stuck in the cage of poverty, dungeon of illiteracy, abyss of ignorance or shackle of responsibilities ? Every day, doing mundane, meaningless tasks and getting paid or treated unfairly? And all we could do was like what the monkey did? The only one positive thing ape noticed from the monkey was that it didn’t take it out on its fellow monkey. How many of us took it out on our fellow colleagues, friends and even family member who may be people who are in the very same predicament and in no way able to control the rewards that was given?

Was the researcher, the one who dishes out the reward, the devil? She could very well be one who was also in a cage. Conduct the experiment or she won’t get paid to repay her study or housing loans, feed her children, care for her aged parents, pay for her medical bills, receive her degree or whatever.

Who’s the devil now? Where’s the devil?

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Elected Presidency

The commission tasked to review and make proposal to Singapore’s Elected Presidency (EP) has completed their works. Next is for the PAP government to consider the extent of changes before tabling it in parliament. It’s not wrong to say that whatever put forth to parliament is going to be passed because the ruling party PAP occupies 83 out of the 89 MP seats, even though last GE PAP got an overall vote share of slightly less than 70%. Ape digress.

One of the key reasons cited for the review of EP is the representation from minority races. From a pure statistics point of view, Ape do think it is important to level the field so that a candidate from the minority race will not be slighted due to his/her ethnicity.

According to Wikipedia, the ethnic groups are distributed such that Chinese holds a huge majority (less than PAP’s dominance in parliament though). Ape assumes the eligible voters are distributed more or less in the same manner. Assuming voters do vote along racial lines, a Malay candidate not only has to win the votes of all the Indians and Others, he/she will also need to get more than 1/3 of the Chinese’ votes.

Votes aside, given the stringent eligibility criteria, what are the probabilities of a candidate from the minority groups to step forward to run for election? Since EP was put in place, the first 2 candidates to run for election were Chinese. Subsequently, the next 2 Presidential Election was a walkover since there’s no other contenders besides the late S R Nathan, a minority race. When he has served 2 full terms uncontested, Presidential Election 2011 sees 4 candidates. All Chinese and all happened to be carrying the surname of Tan! What are the odds? If statistics has its way, there should be at least 1 eligible Chinese contesting in 2005 and 2009.  In short, Ape is talking cock looking at the EP statistically.

Also, are Singaporean voters that ignorant and vote based on racial lines? CNA did a survey and apparently, the results show Singaporeans do have a preference towards candidates of their own race.  However, let’s not forget, surveys can be biased. If given a choice of cha kuay teow and mee goreng, surely Ape has a preference but is this the only consideration? Price, quality, location etc can be factors Ape considers as well.  Similarly, when voting for a President, the qualifications, ideals, public behavior and speaking skills, demeanour etc will all come into consideration. The candidate’s ethnicity will be the least of Ape’s concern.

Ape don’t know who got the idea but somehow, it seems important that Singapore has to have a fair representation of presidents coming from different races. So much so that if a particular race has candidates stepping forward and eventually become the President, for the last 5 presidential terms, candidates from that race will be denied running for Presidency unless no candidates from the other races step forward. This proposal contradict the other proposal of tightening the qualification criteria. On one hand, the PAP government is saying because the President has custodial authority over the past reserves, therefore the eligibility criteria has to be increased. The best person who knows how to manage money should be President. On the other hand, because the President hold ceremonial responsibilities, therefore we should have fair representation of Presidents from different racial background. What if come that fateful day when a candidate is well liked by most Singaporeans, have all the qualifications and qualities to be President, yet being denied because his/her predecessors are all of the same race for the last 5 terms. Change the Constitution again?

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The Next Prime Minister

Recently, there’s been a lot of talks about who’ll likely be the next Prime Minister. There’s even a non-official survey to chose from a number of PAP members of parliament. Result of the survey showed Tharman Shanmugaratnam, current Deputy Prime Minister, as the overwhelming preferred choice.

Ape is simply baffled by all these talks. Suggestive in these talks is that, (1) there will be a change of PM before the next election or (2) PAP will win and continue to be the ruling party at the next General Election and (3) citizens have a say in the appointment of the Prime Minister.

Going by the looks of things and how PAP rebound strongly from GE2011 to GE2015, how PAP has been the incumbent all these years and we’ve yet to see anyone or any party who is ready to take over governmentship, it’s not surprising that PAP will win the next election. The question remains at how many seats will they secure. It is also unlikely that we’ll see a change in PM before the next GE. Lee Hsien Loong might have momentarily collapsed during this year’s National Day Rally but subsequent medical checks gave him a clean bill of health. What’s really presumptuous is that citizens have a say in who we think should be the next PM.

According to Article 24 of Singapore’s Constitution, it is the President to appoint a member of parliament from amongst the members of parliament who in his judgement commands the confident from the majority of the members of parliament. President don’t have to consult CPA. President don’t have to seek anyone’s opinion. President, as far as the law provides for, only need to exercise his judgement. So if you so wish or prefers a particular person to be the next PM, make sure you vote for a President who can make a sound judgement in the coming Presidential Election due next year.

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Foreign Sports Talent Scheme

Ape is never into sports. Be it playing, training for, betting or merely watching. However, it’s hard to ignore Singapore’s first Olympic Gold medallist Joseph Schooling. Well done Joseph! Be very thankful you have supportive parents who have faith in you to go against all odds.  Not that other parents are less supportive or trusting. While the nation beam with pride over Joseph’s achievement (to the extent some shamelessly tried to take credit or steal the limelight), there’s also much talk about local vs foreign sports talents. The latter took Ape to read about the Foreign Sports Talent Scheme (FSTS). Ape of course has heard and read about foreign sports talents like… what’s her name? 

Anyway, Ape has no issues with foreign born sports talent  (or any foreign born talent for that matter) to be trained, sponsored, representing, and eventually naturalised to be Singaporean, by using tax payers money. However, Ape is against any policies that seems to exclusively help foreign talents. It seems that FSTS is meant for foreigners. Can’t it simply be Sports Talent Scheme? Ape is not suggesting resources be thrown in to everyone and anyone who aspire to be a sports talent. Ape suppose there are some criteria to qualify for this scheme and why locals cannot be subject to the same criteria and those who met such criteria benefit from the scheme?

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What’s In An NMP?

If you have not read about it, Administration of Justice (Protection) Bill has been passed. Ape is not going to discuss the merits or demerits of this bill but rather the unexpected turn of decision made by 3 NMPs. The 3 NMPs initially supported a group of petitioners to stand against the passing of this bill, only to make an about turn at the last instance when this bill was debated in parliament. Not only they withdrew the petition  (did they consult the petitioners?), they also voted in favour of the bill.

Regardless whether one supports the bill or not, the fact that they took up the role on behalf of those petitioners means it is no longer a collective decision of the threesome but one of the group of over two hundred petitioners. Ape would assume that prior to taking the petition to parliament, they should have thought thoroughly before doing so. If there were doubts and reservations, the ethical approach should be one to decline and let the petitioners look for someone who can support them all the way.

Ape is reminded of one ex NMP, Siew Kum Hong or more fondly remembered as Botak Siew who stood up to repeal S377A of the Penal Code. He did have reservations initially and S377A (a law that makes homosexual act a crime in Singapore, even with consenting adults in their own privacy) has nothing to do with him since he is not a gay. In fact, he revealed in parliament that he was slightly homophobic. However, he took the effort to understand what the issues were all about and when he decided to take it up to parliament, he went all the way to debate in details and comprehensively on why he thinks S377A should be repealed. We know what’s the outcome (S377A still stands in our law) but Ape thinks Botak Siew has earned the respect and trust of many people in that episode.

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