My book Two Baby Hands will also be on sale at Kinokuniya (Takashimaya), Select Books (Tanglin Shopping Centre) and Books Actually (Ang Siang Hill). You can also order it online from the publisher directly -there are no extra charges for delivery within Singapore.
One of the poems I read at the event was an old one entitled Changi Airport. But reading the Sunday Times today, it strikes me that the poem seems to have become rather topical again. One thousand and thirty-six people will receive extra training in how to clean toilets - all because Changi Airport slipped to 3rd place in the latest global rankings. What a fascinating country we are.
Changi Airport isn't dirty. The toilets are fine. Changi Airport lost to Incheon and Hong Kong International Airport, because these two other airports are also very, very good. In terms of actual points scored in the survey, all three airports were also very, very close - Skytrax itself said in a statement that any one of them might have finished first.
June 21, 2009
FALL IN RANKINGS
Changi cleans up its act
Retraining for cleaners part of concerted effort to spruce up image and keep the flag
By Mavis Toh
All 1,036 cleaners at Changi Airport will soon be sent for retraining.
That is one action plan being taken by the Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore (CAAS) in response to Changi's slip to third place in a global airport ranking exercise.
In the survey of 190 airports by British-based consultancy Skytrax, Changi scored its lowest ranking in eight years - behind Seoul's Incheon International and Hong Kong International Airport. It ranked second last year.
It scored highly - among 8,640,552 travellers from nearly 100 countries surveyed - in areas like leisure amenities, duty-free shopping and airport dining. But it lost out in categories like washroom cleanliness and security processing.
In an interview with The Sunday Times last week, the CAAS said it has identified two problem spots where toilet cleanliness may have fallen short.
Toilets at the 28-year-old Terminal 1, the 'grand old dame', are old. When some are being upgraded, more pressure is put on the remaining toilets.
Mr Foo Sek Min, senior director of Airport Management Group, said: 'We know that sometimes the standards there can't even match those of toilets at new malls because they're old.'
Terminal 1 is being upgraded. About 15 per cent of the work is done and the process is slated to be completed in 2011.
At Terminal 3, which was opened last year, three sets of toilets in the public area are also 'highly utilised' on Fridays and Saturdays. This could be another reason for the lower cleanliness score.
Mr Foo said CAAS will also enhance the monitoring of toilet cleanliness via technology. Full implementation will take six to eight months.
But you know the mentality of Singapore corporate management (where face is concerned, it's frankly not that different from the SAF's). Since Changi Airport had lost, even by a very little bit, therefore something - and someone, somewhere - needs to be blamed for the defeat.
This time the blame goes to the airport toilets. And also to the management person in charge of the toilets - you can be sure about that. Whoever he is, he can say bye bye to his bonus.
Anyway, below is my old poem Changi Airport. Seen in the context of the Skytrax airport survey, maybe the moral of the story is ..... please don't make a mountain out of a molehill. If the airport is safe, clean, modern, efficient and comfortable, that's enough.
Truly, no traveller is going to come back to Singapore more often, just because you upgrade the brand of the hand soap in the toilets ... or use a hi-tech machine to count the number of germs in each toilet bowl ... or provide 5-ply toilet paper for extra-delicate buttock skin.
It is a huge clean box
with clear glass panels,
directions for its visitors
and tidy compartments
to contain the swellings
of a little nation’s pride.
How much can one love
an efficient process?
We are here only because
we are going elsewhere
we are pleased that
our luggage rarely gets lost
we like the purple orchids
and marine fish
and we would stay to watch
the whole world here,
if only it was not always
merely passing though.