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You cannot have missed the article in many of the leading newspapers today. The headlines scream "Singapore Named Healthiest Country".
 
So is it another accolade for Singapore - a country well known for engineering many firsts in the world?

I should think so. 

But read on and you will realise that there still remains a large group of people who are skeptical of the survey findings. They find it incredulous that Singapore is ranked even before Western countries such as Italy, Australia and Switzerland. 

Our leaders used to benchmark our standard of living against Switzerland and for a very long time, we envisioned ourselves to be the Switzerland of the East. Has that time come when we have surpassed and leapfrogged over our model?

If you ask me, there has indeed been a great improvement in the mindsets of the people. With the mushrooming of more mega-sports facilities and park connectors, the government is doing its utmost best to inculcate a nation of healthy people. And this message seems to have been adopted by the masses. A quick check at the public sports council gyms shows that it's always packed after office hours, not forgetting the public badminton halls are quite hard to book too (unless you book them in advance).

As a regular speaker on health, wellness and fitness topics, I too have found a steady increase in the number of enquiries from corporations, companies, government organisations, businesses and schools for such topics. More worklife balance committee groups are being formed in the corporate worlds to oversee the overall wellbeing of the employees.

As different research findings employ different yardsticks and methodology, the results for each survey will differ. For the current survey done by Bloomberg, Singapore is the world's healthiest country.

Let's not quibble over the results. If others say we are good, let's give ourselves a pat on the back. And then we will all work harder to maintain this accolade the next year.

Cheers Singapore for having been named the healthiest country!

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TODAY Newspaper, 17 Aug 2012
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It may appear that I have an unenviable task at hand as the immediate futures of some young people are entrusted to me. But lest you get stressed on my behalf, stop.

Lofty expectations there will always be but let’s put those aside for today’s etiquette and grooming training for the MINDEF scholars. Awarded the SAF Overseas Scholarship, the scholars are scheduled to be going either to the US or UK for their varsity studies before returning to serve a five-year bond. But before they fly to their host country, they are in class today to learn about the cultural differences, language barriers and equip themselves with new skills such as dining etiquette and social graces. 

Specially designed with the scholars in mind, I am honoured to be their coach. 

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Going overseas to study is a dream come true for many people. What more a scholarship. I’m sure all of us agree that the scholars represent not only themselves, but also the organization and country they come from. Therefore, being able to project the right impression when the occasion calls for it and dine with finesse is largely expected.

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Dining etiquette is not something alien to most of us. The Westerners eat from plates, we Asians too eat from plates and bowls. Both items are round in nature. The only difference perhaps lies in the placement of the cutlery – as there is a significant difference between the continental style and American style.

Though it looks confusing initially, familiarity should rein once everyone knows the right way of handling the cutlery.

Why is so much emphasis placed on food? I guess it is because food is a very safe and neutral topic to talk about…as compared to taboo topics such as religion, sex, culture and of course money issues which I advised the participants to steer clear of. Plus all of us have to fill our tummies with nutrition.

When we dine, we normally have a good wine to accompany go with it. So whether your choice is red wine or white wine, you have to choose wisely according to the type of food you are eating.

Being able to act refined and yet sound intelligent by communicating effectively is by no means an easy task. But given the exuberance and camaraderie demonstrated in class today, I’m sure the MINDEF scholars will rise to the occasion each and every time.

Here’s wishing them all the best in their undergraduate studies!

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