Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Seniors Are Also Depression-prone

I’m not really surprised that Singaporeans are depression-prone. 

But what is worrying is the fact that depression among seniors is on the rise in the city-state. 

One in five senior persons in Singapore aged 75 and above show signs of depression, according to the Singapore Longitudinal Ageing Study in 2012 by the National University of Singapore’s Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine. 

And with it, we also see the rise in suicides. 

Older adults aged 50 and above are a worry for suicide risk in Singapore, the Samaritans of Singapore had said in a July 31, 2017 news release. 

This age-group accounted for 46 percent of suicides in 2016, with 197 deaths – a 19 percent increase from 166 in 2015. 

(For 2016, the total number of reported suicides in Singapore was 429 cases, an increase of 20 from a year earlier). 

In 2014, 126 seniors aged 60 and above committed suicide – that was an alarming increase of almost 60 percent from 79 cases in 2000.

The warning signs of suicide in the depressed elderly include unrelenting low mood; anxiety and psychic pain; loss of interest; and sleep problems, among others. 

For the past five years, around 30 to 33 percent of calls received on the SOS 24-hour hotline were from callers in the 50-and-above age group, SOS said. 

Stressors cited by these callers include employment issues, financial worries, family relationships, mental health, physical and psychological impairment and chronic health problems. 

Males in their fifties are especially vulnerable, as they "experience significant life changes" and transitions, such as retrenchment, financial issues and retirement. Unlike females who tend to be more receptive in seeking help, males are more likely to shun this behaviour, said SOS. 

Struggles both genders face in the later years include the loss of family and friends, debilitating physical health problems and a loss of independence. 

As a result of feeling overwhelmed by such life situations, many experience "a sort of tunnel vision and believing suicide is the only way out", according to SOS. 

From the identified stressors, financial worries should be the least of their problems because Singapore’s elderly poor can qualify for State assistance to meet their material needs – from heavy medical subsidies and food vouchers, to long-term financial assistance, and even rental waivers for those on ‘Public Assistance’. 

The biggie problem for many of them – especially those who are unable to work and homebound due to disability, failing health or mental illness – is social isolation. 

The situation can only get worse. The NUS’ Singapore Longitudinal Ageing Study in 2004 found that seniors living alone were twice as likely as their peers to develop depressive symptoms. 

And their numbers are rising. The Department of Statistics estimates that 83,000 elderly persons will be living alone by 2030, compared with the 47,000 seniors aged 65 and above in 2016. 

Because of the stigma against mental illness especially, many of the elderly folks in Singapore are “forgotten by society” with people going out of the way to avoid them. 

And let’s not forget the other age groups. Suicides among those aged 20 to 29 are a real concern too, highlighted SOS. 

In 2016, seventy-seven young adults took their own lives. This works out to more than six deaths per month, the highest number of deaths among all other age groups. 

Stressors cited include studies or work, unemployment, financial worries, family life, struggles with social interactions and feelings of loneliness. 

Life is tough, more so in a pressure cooker environment like Singapore – therefore, all the more reason for Singaporeans to learn to be depression survivors.

BTW, I'm sure Malaysian seniors are depression-prone too.

The Clean-up: Unfinished Business

The clean-up is far from finished. Not by a long shot. 

I won't be reporting these 'exits' anymore because it is ongoing. No matter how long you sweep or how much you scrub or how diligent you mop – there is still a lot of muck around.  Corruption runs deep in the government.

A special thank you to Najib Razak (right) for bringing in all that filth! Malaysia is corrupt because of you! 

It's not just 1MDB and not just him only! The virulent virus of corruption has infected many others too. 

Malaysian society has become cancerous. 

A wee sample of the surreptitious shenanigans that have only now been exposed and laid bare for all to see: 

On June 26, a 59-year-old company managing director and a 30-year-old lawyer were detained by the MACC – in connection with a RM1 billion project to install solar panels in 369 schools in rural Sarawak. According to Sarawak Report, Najib had allegedly instructed the Education Ministry in January last year to appoint Jepak Holdings Sdn Bhd to undertake the venture even though the politically-connected company does not have any track record. 

On June 27, MACC detained the CEO of Putrajaya Holdings in connection to an ongoing housing project worth RM300 million. 

On the same day too, MACC raided the office of a contractor who undertook landscaping work at Seri Perdana and the premises of government agencies in Putrajaya. He is being investigated for making false claims amounting to RM80 million. Sources said the company that was awarded the contract between 2016 and last year did not carry out the job or did slipshod work at the sites. It was also found that the company was unqualified to undertake the said project as they did not even have a nursery for plants meant for the landscaping work. And investigators learnt that the company had an insufficient workforce to do the job but made claims for an undisclosed number of workers beyond what they had in their employment. 

On July 05, a former state Public Works Department director was sentenced to a total of 22-and-a-half years’ jail and fined RM36 million by the Sessions Court on 18 counts of corruption and money laundering, involving more than RM5.4 million.

The above is only the tip of the iceberg of avaricious corruption. There are very many more such cases! 

Didn’t Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad say he inherited a government riddled with corruption?

Monday, July 30, 2018

TIme to Take Mental Health Seriously

It is timely that Deputy Prime Minister Wan Azizah Wan Ismail (right) recognizes that mental health must not be taken lightly.

Illnesses such as depression affect large swathes of the population, she acknowledges. 

On Saturday, she had referred to the Health Ministry's 2017 survey that found 18,336 of the 273,203 individuals – representing 6.7% – who visited health and community clinics to be at varying stages of depression. 

(I won’t give the breakdown on the numbers said to be suffering from mild to moderate to acute depression as reported in Malay Mail Online on July 28, 2018 because the numbers don’t add up). 

It’s a worldwide phenomenon and that's why she cited figures from the World Health Organization's record of over 800,000 reported suicide cases worldwide each year. I’m assuming she highlighted this statistic because she wanted to establish a correlation between depression and suicide. 

She had also noted that experts have said 40 percent of Malaysians are expected to suffer from mental health issues within their lifetime. 

Telling us is not enough. 

We need to extend help. We need to reach out. We need to provide a lifeline.

Fish Tanks

AFP pix 

AFP pix

Fish tanks! That’s right – Lebanon dumped ten armoured vehicles into the Mediterranean on Saturday. 

Conservationists offloaded the disused army tanks (and other vehicles) 3km (1.8 miles) off the coast of Sidon in the hope of creating a new haven for marine life. 

The idea is for algae, coral and bacteria to flourish with the aim of attracting egg-laying fish. 

This push to build an artificial reef is in response to damage caused by over-fishing and rising temperatures. 

"This will be a paradise for divers and a place where we can develop underwater life", Kamel Kozbar, of Friends of the Coast of Sidon, the group spearheading the project, told news agency AFP. 

He hoped seaweed will soon cover the tanks, a gift from the army, realizing their vision of an "underwater park". 

Scientists have been using vehicles, especially vans and buses to boost sea life in the region since 2012, when Dr Michel Chalhoub from Beirut, Lebanon secured funding to restore beauty to the coast of Tripoli in Libya. 

But this was not just an environmental project – the army tanks had been purposefully positioned to have their tank guns pointed towards their southern neighbour, Israel. 

According to Kozbar, it was done "out of solidarity for the Palestinian people". 

Yay-y-y!!! Low Wee Wern (right) emerged as the Tasmanian Open 2018 Champion on Sunday – when she beat Australia’s Rachael Grinham 11-6, 11-7, 12-10 in 33 minutes. 

Well-fought, well-deserved, well done – congratulations!

Sunday, July 29, 2018

Forget About English, It's Manglish Now

I don't know if my fellow Malaysians realize it – but we no longer speak English! 

The way we speak has evolved so much – we now just speak Malaysian. Most times anyway. 

We know it as Manglish. Sure, it’s authentic because it is Malaysian. 

A fusion of English combined with many other languages/dialects that had gone through the same Malaysian-made blender! 

And if you are honest about it, Manglish has a certain level of charming cuteness – that only Malaysians can appreciate lah! 

Check out this English versus Manglish video clip:

Malaysian English is …different!

LOL, we are Malaysians, after all! 

Yesterday, I featured some of Heidi Koh’s still-life paintings. 

I managed to locate three more of her works that are also Peranakan-themed.

These are exceptionally exquisite because they are not just a riot of rich colors – but they also possess this lacquer-feel of kaleidoscopic vibrancy. 

Peranakan ladies (n.d) 

Tayang (June 2011) 

The Making of Molek (n.d) 

I simply adore her works!

Yesterday, Liverpool gave a solid performance against a poor Manchester United side at Ann Arbor in Michigan, USA. 

Meaning the Reds won 4-1 and it’s a great way to sign off the tour of America. 

The goalscorers from our side were Sadio Mane (28, penalty), Daniel Sturridge (64), Sheyi Ojo (73, penalty) and Xherdan Shaqiri (82). 

Next up for the Reds is the meeting with Napoli, next Saturday in Dublin, Ireland.

Buggy Heroes

Webpage: http://www.cicadamania.com/cicadas/cicadas-of-japan/

Cicadas are very popular in Japan, and they find their way into pop culture (anime, live action kids shows like Ultraman). 

The above photo features a cicada toy, when spun, makes a sound, some cicada clicker toys, a plush Oncotympana, a Seminingen (bad guy from Ultraman), and Yotsuba a green-haired girl who has caught a cicada.

And one imaginative high school student from Osaka, Japan who uses the handle ride_hero on Twitter makes buggy heroes. 

Buggy as in insects. He made action figures out of them. And crabs too. 

They look like really devilishly cool superheroes – and one of his favorite mediums appears to be that of cicadas. 

Twitter photos

To be more specific, they are actually leftover cicada husks – so no insects were actually harmed in making those action figures. 

Since it is summer in Japan, cicadas are plentiful in summer. As they age, they shed their shells and carapaces, leaving the environment with a lot of leftover cicada husks lying around.

Cicada shells. Pix by Kevin Ambrose

Twitter user @ride_hero thought of a better use for them and voila, action figures straight out of the Kamen Rider anime. Some are even accurate depictions of more expensive plastic action figures.

He not only named his creations but also furnished compelling backstories for them, as @ride_hero stated: “He invaded the earth and survives as the fittest of the bug world.” 

The text also states that the creature is weak to fire, much like its cicada ancestors.

Cicada shells are versatile. Check out Japanese geek media celeb Shoko Nakagawa who enhances her hairdo with cicada shells: 

Twitter pic

The Tasmanian Squash Open (July 27-29) in Devonport, Australia got under way on Friday – and seven of the eight seeds advanced to Saturday’s quarter-finals. 

The only seed to fall on the opening day was Japanese second seed Satomi Watanabe – Malaysia’s Low Wee Wern (right) defeated her 11-6, 11-9, 7-11, 11-7 in 40 minutes. 

Then on Saturday, Low beat fellow Malaysian, Lai Wen Li 12-10, 11-7, 11-6, followed by another three-set win over eight seeded Hana Ramadan to make it to the finals – which will feature ex-World #1 Rachael Grinham and ex-World #5 Low Wee Wern! 

All the best, Low – you can do it!

Saturday, July 28, 2018

Villages Named After Genitalia

Nobody could keep a straight face in Ghana's parliament when MP John Frimpong Osei listed the names of some villages in his constituency that included bizarre references to genitals. 

Names in the Twi* dialect like "Vagina is Wise" left lawmakers in fits of giggles. 

The MP was asking when these areas would get access to electricity. 

"Providing them with electricity may interfere with nocturnal activities", joked Energy Minister Boakye Agyarko. 

Still, he followed it up, in earnest, by saying that a survey would be conducted into how the villages in Abirem constituency in Eastern Region could be connected to the national grid. 

[Note: Almost 80% of Ghana's population has access to electricity, which is almost double the average rate across Africa, according to the World Bank's 2016 report]. 

Anyway, this video clip from Thursday shows Frimpong Osei mentioning Etwe nim Nyansa, Kote ye Aboa and Shua ye Morbor:

These are the English translations for the Twi names: Etwe nim Nyansa is "Vagina is Wise"; Kote ye Aboa is "Penis is a Fool" and Shua ye Morbor is "Testicles are Sad". 

Many Ghanaians have not even heard of the villages until they were named in parliament – and they have been left wondering about the origins of the said names. 

The BBC's Thomas Naadi in the capital, Accra, says such names are normally given by the first settlers in those communities and are drawn from the life experiences of those individuals. 

Latest United Nations estimates suggest that Ghana has a population of nearly 29.5 million as at July 2018 (Source: http://www.worldometers.info/world-population/ghana-population/). 

Twi* is widely-spoken, other than English of course, with 7 million speakers (23.7%) in Ghana. 

Another source I came across claims that it is understood by more than 90% of Ghana's population.

[*The Akan languages are part of the Kwa branch of the Niger-Congo language family. And there are about 52 million speakers of Akan languages (2014 estimates) in eastern Ivory Coast, south-central Ghana, and central Togo. Note that there are numerous dialects of Akan, including Twi, Fante, Bono, Wasa, Nzema, Baule and Anyi, with a high level of mutual intelligibility between them].

Opening a Durian

LOL, Marianna Pascal shows us how to open a durian! 

She said it was her very first time! I believe her!
I stumbled upon a series of Heidi Koh’s Peranakan still-life paintings:

The Visit, oil on canvas, 20" x 24" (2011)

The Visit II, oil on canvas, 20" x 28" (2011)

The Choice, oil on canvas, 28" x 20" (2011)

Cuci Mulot, watercolor on paper, 30cm x 40cm (2012)

Cuci Mulot II, watercolor on paper, 30cm x 40cm (2012)

Cuci Mulot III, watercolor on paper, 30cm x 40cm (2012)

In Favor of the Moon, oil on canvas, 28" x 20" (2012)

Seri, oil on linen, 18" x 24" (2013)

They evoke of memories past!