Write of passage

Swineherd and sounder (PHOTO: Teh Wen Hui)
Swineherd and sounder (PHOTO: Teh Wen Hui)

It’s been a while since I’ve made the journey to the memory of young adulthood.

I think about what it was like to be 21. I remember Pooters; parties; Perth; Peer Pressure; the Panopticon. I’m reminded of the feeling of invincibility and immortality; I distinctly recall speaking and writing about it, to someone, somewhere.

I think about whether I’d like to be 21 again. Reliving the growing pains while coming of age holds little appeal. But were they really matters of great importance – or mere minutiae? If I had known then what I now know, perhaps I would’ve treated those mountains for the molehills they were.

Therein lies the paradox of growing up. When it comes to the yearning for a golden age, departure is both the impetus and a necessary condition. It is only through crossing the Rubicon of youth that we can land on the shores of reminiscence and epiphany.

In order for us to arrive, then, we must first leave.

What happens to the fines collected by the CCCS?

Competition and Consumer Commission of Singapore

Close to a month ago, I noticed these two stories about the Competition and Consumer Commission of Singapore (CCCS) published in The Straits Times on consecutive days:

From these two stories alone, the CCCS stands to collect some $39 million worth of fines from the firms mentioned.

And that’s after subtracting the whistle-blower’s reward mentioned in the chicken cartel story!

I sent an e-mail message to the two journalists whose bylines were on those stories asking them if it might be possible to do a story on the following:

  • On average, how much does the CCCS collect, in fines, each year?
  • What happens to the fines collected by the CCCS?

I thought it’d be in the public interest to understand how – and how much – monies collected by the CCCS are eventually returned to Singaporean consumers.

Unfortunately, I haven’t seen any follow-up stories on those two questions yet, on any media platform.

I thought I’d share my curiosity with everyone else, in case some other media outlet might be able to provide some answers to my questions.


Representation is always difficult, and nowhere more so than on maps.

In constructing a map for a project, I spent – what I initially thought was – an inordinate amount of time on it. But I realised otherwise upon producing the final copy.

What I learnt about what took me so long was the exact thing holding me back from completing the task: Wanting to be perfect. I wanted to be as exact as possible so as to do justice to the geography.

At some point, it dawned on me that for the purpose of what I wanted to achieve, accuracy was still important – but faithfulness was not.

All I needed was an approximate model for people to get from Point A to Point B. Here, I had to strike a balance between what I wanted ideally and what people really needed.

If map-making is a metaphor for sharing one’s wisdom about finding one’s way in the world, then this route stands out: art, like life, entails having to be comfortable with making choices and accepting sacrifices.

Nevertheless, these trade-offs cannot be made unthinkingly; for example, there will be situations in which accuracy and faithfulness are equally important, and approximations will not suffice.

Also, while there is much value in putting in the hours to learn the intricacies and nuances of any craft, sometimes, it’s always better – and quicker – if you have a guide to show you the way.

I hope this map guides your path in the same way it will guide mine.