By Terence Kek
The Straits Times featured TWC2’s Discover Singapore project in its edition of 29 December 2013. Their photographer Desmond Foo followed the group on our zoo outing the day before to capture some pictures. Click the thumbnail at right for Straits Times’ feature story.
Publicity in the Straits Times is a bonus; the day itself was great fun.
Since the project launch in May 2013, we have avoided all places of interest that require admission fees. TWC2 doesn’t have the budget resources to pay admission fees.
However, during the past outings, the men mentioned that they would like to visit Singapore Zoo, so Discover Singapore decided to fulfill their wish as a Christmas present for them. We had to work hard to find a solution of the cost problem, but Lady Luck smiled on us eventually. Through our contacts, we managed to find a kind-hearted member of the zoo staff who had been keeping her staff entitlement for the last seven months! She heard about our little plan and decided to donate to us her staff discount coupons, which allowed us to purchase up to forty tickets at 50% discount! Hooray!
We chartered a bus for the trip, and on the journey there, we distributed to each man each a yellow sling bag (sponsored by telco M1), a bottle of drinking water, and two custard buns (sponsored by Gardenia). There were 39 from TWC2’s register of injured and salary-unpaid workers, led by with volunteers Terence Kek, Irene Ong and Eugene Neo. Guests from Bangladesh Moinul (who is here in Singapore to continue medical treatment) and his wife also came along.
At the zoo entrance, we were tempted by a Tiger beer promoter to sample the latest Tiger Radler beer (Tiger beer with lemon twist). Desmond shot some photos of us half-jokingly reaching out to take the little cups filled with beer samplers… we thought better of it and asked him not to use these photos for the Sunday Times article. After the riot on 8 December 2013, blamed on drunken foreign workers, such images will be misinterpreted. Desmond understood and deleted all the beer photos.
Many of the men were visiting Singapore Zoo for the first time. For one of them however, it was a ‘return visit’ of sorts. Hussein Abdul, 40,whose left hand middle finger was broken in an industrial accident, had worked in the zoo’s canteen back in 1989! He was very happy to be able to come back as a visitor this time. Back then his one-hour lunch break was not enough time to have a meal and see the animals.
Around noon, we were ‘forced’ to find shelter at the Polar Bear amphitheatre and to have an early lunch when it suddenly began to rain. At the amphitheatre, I overheard some tourists commenting that our packed lunch looked good; one of them then turned to ask our men where they bought this delicious meal from.
As it turned out, the rain ‘break’ was heaven-sent, for while our group was enjoying our Spice Village nasi lemak lunch, we were treated to a Polar bear appearance. The bears’ feeding time coincided with our ‘feeding’ time.
We watched 3 different performances at the zoo; in particular, we enjoyed “The Elephant of Asia” and “Splash Safari” performances. Some men had close encounters with the wild by posing with the snakes after the performance.
This outing is a roaring success with many of the men bringing back little memories of Singapore Zoo. 23-year-old new dad Saiful said excitedly “I cannot wait to show my (one year old) daughter photos of the zebra.”