There were only Suhas and Titus for the induction. But it was enough for us to feel the impact. Jean commented that she had been rejuvenated by the energies of these two young members. Taichi was transported to the time when he was inducted. It’s useful to remind ourselves from time to time why we joined Toastmasters.

Strangely, I don’t recall a single thing about my induction. If I ever had one. As you have seen, I documented the highlights of Toastmasters chapter meetings. However, I had not blogged about the time I was inducted. I might have been left out at a time when several of us joined together.

Celebratory mood set the tone of the meeting today after we gave Jun a mini birthday celebration. He had not intended to attend. After he said he would give it a miss, I told him we had wanted to celebrate his birthday. He decided to come in the end.

Why did I remember Jun’s birthday? Last year, there was a birthday wish for Jun in our WhatsApp chat group. Then I knew that Jun wasn’t born in June, but January.

He turns 38 tomorrow.

Little did we know that there was another birthday member among us. It’s Tricia. During the break, she let on that hers is on 17th January. Happy belated birthday, Tricia.

Besides Jun’s birthday celebration, the induction ceremony was conducted by Lynn. She did a good job by prefacing the induction with a meaningful tale. It’s about three men working on the same task but each had a different vision of what each was doing. We are all Toastmasters but how we make out of our journey depends on us.

Titus delivered his Ice Breaker project. This Taurus has a wealth of talent – he sketches, he bakes and he knows IT. A very humble young man who stands up to greet everyone walking into the room. Very impressive. As a fellow Taurus, I could see a shade of myself in him – reserved and uptight.

Suhas did his Ice Breaker as well and he was very candid about his shortcomings, including smiling even when he was scolded. But he said it depends on how you see the attribute as it could be a shortcoming to one but a strength to others.

Tricia had put off her prepared speech for the longest time. But she decided that no more procrastination and went ahead despite the lack of preparation. She told me that she wouldn’t have done the project today if not for me and also because her evaluator was Distinguished Toastmaster Pradeep.

That’s not the first time a member said she did something if not for me. Jean had told me that she would have resigned from Vice-President Education if not for me as my passion had moved her.

That reminds me of the news maker I interviewed recently and the “Walking Capital” he brought up during the interview. Walking Capital is the freedom to leave a job and not be restrained by finances or feel beholden to anyone.

Oops, I digressed.

It wasn’t Edwin’s first time as Table Topics master.  But he put some thoughts into it by scaling his topics in ascending order of difficulty. It worked in encouraging active participation.

Joyce is the most effective language evaluator any Toastmaster club could probably have. She highlighted some of our mistakes in pronunciation:

  1. “object”, “contest”, “project” have the stress in the beginning when these words are used as nouns.
  2. “opportunity” has its stress in the third syllabus.

Taichi was sharp. He pointed out that Pradeep managed to end his evaluation two seconds before the time limit. This manifested Pradeep’s skill.

And we shall use the title “Toastmaster” in addressing one another out of respect.

All in all, we had a decent meeting.


Titus and Suhas are now officially members of our club. Welcome aboard.


Birthday Boy



New Blood

Here’s my opening speech to tie in with the induction.

Good afternoon.

We’re conducting the induction for Suhas and Titus today.

Most of us joined Toastmasters for similar reasons. Let’s hear from Suhas and Titus their reasons. This is so that they would be clear why they are here, and refresh our memories as well as to why we are here.

Philosopher Lao Tzu had this famous saying “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step”.

Suhas and Titus, congratulations on embarking on this journey, and welcome on board.

We’re delighted to be your partners in your Toastmasters learning journey, and you as ours as well.

At Toastmasters, we learn by doing, giving speeches and fulfilling leadership roles. We learn through peer evaluation.  We learn under the mentorship of experienced members who encourage, guide and support us.

While we offer support and companionship in your journey, ultimately you’re the one to decide how this journey would turn out.

Public speaking isn’t limited to twice a month of toastmasters chapter meetings or confined to this room.

Therefore, I would encourage you to read books on crafting speeches and public speaking, watch YouTube, and attend workshops and contests to hone your skill and enrich your experience.

As in all endeavours, the important ingredients are hard work and right attitude.

Now I’d like to touch on the values of Toastmasters.

Pradeep, since you mentioned it at one of the meetings, they’ve been etched on my mind.

The values of Toastmasters are aptly encapsulated in the acronym RISE – Respect, Integrity, Service and Excellence.

Of these, I’d like to highlight Service. What’s service?

How do you think our meetings come about?

We are all busy but members take turns to take up appointments so that meetings are run successfully to enable us to practise public speaking.

Last evening, Steven said he had been busy at work and hadn’t drafted the script for his role as Toastmaster of the Day. But he would do it after work. Like him, executive committee members and appointment holders put in the time and effort for the meetings.

Every one of us, as a stakeholder in this journey, has a part to play.

So, I hope you would jump at the opportunity to serve at the next meeting and every meeting. Volunteer yourselves.

Thank you.



7th January 2017

Opening speech as President

Good Afternoon, Toastmasters and guests. We’re into 2017, what plans have you got for the new year, and for your Toastmaster learning journey? 

A way of planning is using what you’ve achieved last year as a blueprint, and build on it in the year ahead.

On this, do you remember how many projects you did last year?

If you dont remember, you might want to refer to the spreadsheet Jean painstaking drew up, for us to track our progress.

I once read about how a toastmaster did one project every month. You decide on the subject in the first week, research the second, draft your speech in the third, and practise and deliver it in the fourth.

And how many projects do you plan to do this year? If you need a little push, let us know, Jean and I are ready to give you that nudge.

Sometimes work gets busy and we don’t have the luxury of time. If you aren’t able to deliver a prepared speech, how about taking on table topics? Better still, volunteer for appointments too. Best if you would be part of the executive committee for the term beginning in July. Let us know if you would like to serve the members and at the same time add a valuable experience to your résumé.

Furthermore, you might want to try your hands at contests to challenge yourselves. Our contest will be held on second Saturday in March, you can now start working on it.  

If you have any ideas for meetings, please let us know. We’ll see how we can incorporate them in future meetings.

We hope you have a fruitful 2017, and a happy learning journey at Kampong Ubi. 

Uniquely Singapore

7th January 2017

I did project 8 on 7th January. Though this was almost two months after project 7, I couldn’t decide on the subject till very late in the day – or year – when I forced myself to do it by the time the clock struck 12 on New Year’s eve.

Here’s the speech.

Good Afternoon, Toastmasters and guests.

What is this? [★slide] Which of you have NEVER seen a thumbdrive before? I suppose most of you would have used one before.

Next, what is this? [★slide]

It’s a plastic stool with a name called Unica. Its commonly found in local coffeeshops. [★slide]

Last object. [★slide]

This is a toy figure called Stikfas. [★slide]

What do these – [★slide] the ThumbDrive, the Unica plastic stool and the Stikfas – have in common?

They are all Singapore’s innovations.

These are three designs among many other iconic, popular and pivotal ones engineered by Singaporeans or Singapore firms in the past 50 years, and have shaped the industry.

Today, let’s look at these three uniquely Singapire designs – ThumbDrive, the Unica Plastic Stool and the Stikfas.

The ThumbDrive™ [★prop], small and light, yet able to store vast amounts of information, the capabilities of the ThumbDrive belie its tiny size.

It disrupted the way digital data is stored and transferred.

The ThumbDrive, a thumb-sized universal serial bus (USB in short) data storage device [★slide], was developed by Singapore company, Trek 2000 International Limited.

The ThumbDrive device took the computer world by storm. Only about the size of a human thumb, it can be plugged directly into any universal serial bus (“USB”) of a personal computer.

This ThumbDrive provides convenient plug-and-play capabilities. It can be connected directly to a computer via the computer’s USB port without the need for cables. [★slide]

It does not require a battery and derives its power through the USB connection. To the computer user, it functions like another hard disk drive as it allows him to drag-and-drop, read, create or delete digital files as easily as if he were using a computer hard drive.

Thumbs up for the ThumbDrive.[★slide]

By the way, anyone of you young enough to know, what data storage device did the thumbdrive replace?

That’s right, the floppy disk [★prop]. Some of you might not have seen a floppy disk before.

Another iconic design is the durable and lightweight Unica Plastic Stool.[★slide]

Go to any coffeeshop in Singapore, and you’re likely to sit on one of those red plastic stools. Who knew that the ubiquitous stool is a Singapore design?

The Unica Plastic Stool was designed in the 1990s by industrial design consultant Mr Chew Moh-Jin.

A minimal and straight forward design that was purely created to solve a problem – to be stackable and save space. And it had to look robust, as plastic had an unfortunate reputation for not being stable enough to sit on.

Every feature had been carefully thought through; the simple construct of the stool allowed it to be stacked up on other stools. The hole in the middle was also added for a purpose. [PAUSE] No, it’s not to air your bum.

The hole is there so that it could be chained together with other stools to secure them.[★slide]

Even the thickness of the plastic had been calculated to support the weight of the user and yet minimised the cost of production.


For those who do not know what Stikfas is [★slide], it’s an 8 cm model assembly figure that has interchangeable joints to provide freedom in creation. The design principle behind a STIKFAS is that all of the joints are ball/socket, and offer exceptional poseability, interchangeability, and articulation.

Local company, Stikfas, was credited for revolutionising the global industry with its figurines’ ability to pose ‘life-like’.

Huge market players like Lego and the world’s third largest toy maker Hasbro approached Stikfas, to understand the design behind its action figures.

Hasbro – the American multinational manufacturer of toys and board games including Monopoly even made an offer to acquire Stikfas. However, its owner refused the large sum that was offered as he and his team had invested not just money but themselves into the Stikfas, and wanted to keep the company truly Singaporean.

Would you have imagined The Thumbdrive, the Unica plastic stool and the Stikfas figures are Singapore designs?

While the thumbdrive, the unica plastic stool and the stikfas might not be as famous as Lee Kuan Yew, they are nonetheless iconic, popular and pivotal in their own right.

Look around you and you would find many ubiquitous products that are designed by Singaporeans or Singapore companies.

If you are keen to find out about other Singapore designs, you might want to visit the 50 Years of Singapore Design exhibition.

Thank you.