Uniquely Singapore

The first time I saw this on a wall in downtown Singapore, I ignored it. I thought it was an advertisement (as it resembles our tourism campaign logo). Then I did a double-take when I read the line at the bottom of the poster.

It is rather a brilliant piece from a creative standpoint.

I showed it to a few people and they agreed with the artist’s sentiments. And I admit I used to as well.  But I don’t anymore and if you stick around, perhaps you’ll find out why my view has changed.

Although I love the ingenuity of the poster above, I much prefer the positive post-it messages of someone in Singapore who leaves them around town anonymously. He has been posting one message every day for over 500 days.

Upper East Coast Road, Singapore

What do the walls around you say? What messages can you take home and live out and which do you prefer to leave on the walls?

More inspiring messages at:


Learn about the mystery message-writer at:


PS: I’m not promoting graffiti, only discussing the messages that surround us.

Marjorie, the Peaceful Warrior


Marjorie and I, several years ago

Marjorie was a pioneer of animal welfare in Singapore. She was one of the founders of the local SPCA, an advisory director with the World Society for the Protection of Animals and Secretary of the International Primate Protection League. And she was one of my role-models.

I met Marjorie in 1992 when I was just starting out on my journey to reduce animal suffering.

She worked for animals independently, using her own funds.

She had a deep impact on my life and I am writing a letter to her today, 18 August 2010, after returning from her funeral.


Dear Marjorie,

Thank you for so many things but especially for teaching me some precious life lessons. You taught me –

The Power of One – One person can make a tremendous difference. You did. You spoke up on animal use in industries such as farming, entertainment and experimentation long before most people did in Singapore. You made me feel less lonely. Walking up Changi Village to your home was like a trek to a quiet sanctuary where I felt there was someone else who cared about the issues I did.

The Power of the Written Word – You wrote great letters to The Straits Times Forum page and to government agencies speaking up for animals. I enjoyed us reading each others’ letters. You taught me to always use the written word carefully and research something accurately before writing it.

The Power of Peaceful Engagement – You built bridges. You were respected even by people you lobbied. You spoke well of public servants who cared about animals and the constraints they also faced. You did not demonise people who could not do what we wanted them to. I had more anger than you in those days and it has taken me longer to realise the power of love in advocacy work.

How Ego-less One Can Be – You worked quietly behind the scenes, never caring about recognition.

What Real Commitment Looks Like – We live in a fast-paced world where we lose patience when it takes just a little longer to even download something from the Internet. You knew that it takes commitment and patience to really make a lasting difference. You were committed to animals for over 50 years.

Most of this you did by just being who you were. You were a peaceful warrior.

My dear Marjorie, I am so glad I told you all I wanted to say to you about how I felt about you and the impact you had on my life when you were still alive.

You have left when I am starting my own new special journey in Singapore. I ask for your blessings for I am about to embark on something that is also going to take a lifetime. Please bless me with the strength to live out the patience, commitment, truth, justice and peace you stood for.

During one of my last visits, you whispered, “Remember me”. You needn’t have said that. Legends are never forgotten.




Although I felt sad when Marjorie died, I felt peace that I had appreciated her when she was live and that I had visited her periodically even when she could not speak much anymore. 

One thing I did for Marjorie which she appreciated was introduce her to talking books, available from the Singapore Association for the Visually Handicapped. She started losing her sight some years ago and these books brought her the intellectual stimulation she needed. If you know someone who is also losing their sight, you might find help at SAVH (http://www.savh.org.sg/).

Who has had an impact on your life? Would you like to write them a letter of appreciation and read it to them in person? Would love to hear from those who try this out as well as from those who have reservations about it.