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These past 24 hours has been the most painful, trying, and agonising time in my life.

Not many people go through their day having realisation after sickening realisation. The realisation that my dreams are down the drain. The realisation that the milk is spilt. The realisation that I don't really have any true friends in real life. The realisation that I have been doing things wrong. And many more.

It's painful and agonising. My chest feels like it's on fire right now despite the fact that I'm sitting in an air-conditioned room right now while the weather outside has cooled off after a bout of thunderstorm.

I talked to my sister and her boyfriend over several matters this afternoon through the phone while I was out cycling (trying to think my mind through via exercise). I asked my sister if she could introduce some of her friends to me to get me started, seeing as how I don't have any friends in real life and that I need to be shown the way. She shot back by saying that I'm just expecting people to spoon-feed me for all of the things in my life.

In a way she was right. The fact that I'm so used to being guided throughout my life could have only meant disaster in the end.

I requested her to do this, though, because I really, really didn't know where and how to begin. All of my previous friending attempts have either gone horribly wrong, epically failed, or failed to last. I won't go into details other than to state that one of my "friends" turned into my sworn enemy.

She also chastised me for trying to know people from junior colleges, especially from those two I mentioned in my last post; she thought I wanted to be one of them when I know I can't.

That wasn't my point. I know I can never ever be part of them.

My point wasn't to try and pretend to be part of them. My point was to be able to hang out with people like them.

I realised today that many of my attempts have went wrong in the past partly because of how I was, and partly because I was mixing with the wrong people. I realised that I was never meant to have been together with any of the people I tried to socialise with in the past, but was meant to be with the people that could had been a part of my social circle had my dreams had never been shattered into pieces.

I realised I was destined for higher skies than where I kept myself to.

In a way, I admit, I'm trying to pick up as many pieces of my shattered dreams as possible here. By mixing with them (among other things, such as completing by 'O' and 'A' Levels privately and moving onto my other dreams - to become an artist and graphics designer), I can try to live my dream as best as I can.

Call it a compensatory tactic. It's akin to trying to contain the milk spill and cleaning up the mess left behind.

If I can't experience what has been denied to me, at least let me be around the people who had. Let me be around the people that could had been part of my social circle. Let me know what it's like to be around with them.

It may sound silly, and you can call me stubborn, but apart from this I really don't know how else I can go about containing and cleaning up this mess.

My sister's boyfriend then implied to me that I can't just simply try to borrow someone else's social circle. He suggested that I try and get out there and find out what exactly I want. He told me that, if I had real difficulty stepping out, I should try internet social networking sites like Facebook or Friendster (which I usually shun) and try to find friends on such sites.

I relented. He was right. As much as I hate Facebook, I guess this might be the only way forward for me, in addition to broadening my circle here on LiveJournal.

As I was heading home, a lot of things were going through my mind. I was thinking and questioning about every little aspect of my life, from the mundane to the bizarre - from what I should do next, to whether I should continue hating SMRT (those who know me well online, and read some of my previous posts will know what that is about), to trying to be honest and frank with myself. I quickly realised that all of this - every little thing in there - is going to take some time to go through, and I have planned to write all of them down on paper over the next few days.

This, plus the fact that I have gone through quite a lot mentally in the past 24 hours (at least), makes me feel really tired, and I feel like taking some downtime to contemplate things. I will also need some time to carefully think about the kind of people I want to meet, prepare myself to explain to them the truth, prepare myself mentally for possible rejections, and most importantly of all, think carefully about my future, and what exactly do I really need and want.

It may take a day or two, it may take a week, a month, or several months. I don't know how long it might take.

What I know is that I have been through something today - and been through a tough time in my life - that could had taken me down, but yet I endured through it, somehow. As they often say, what doesn't kill you will only make you stronger, and I know that this is one of those experiences that could have killed me, but that I survived. And when I finally come through all of this, I know I will only emerge stronger, more resilient to what life has to throw at me next.

It's like the phoenix, rising renewed out of the ashes.

Eventually, I hope, I can come back here in the future and remember that today, 13th day of June, year 2009 A.D., is the day that I finally got past the ghosts of my past and moved on to a brighter, shining future.

I can see the light at the end of the tunnel, and it beckons me to go to it. What awaits there is my future, the rest of my dreams that have not been shattered, waiting for me to eventually realise it. And I simply can't wait to be in that light.

Bye for now. I will be back.

-----

"Pain is temporary. It may last a minute, or an hour, or a day, or a year, but eventually it will subside and something else will take its place. If I quit, however, it lasts forever." - Lance Armstrong

"You want to know how I did it? This is how I did it Anton. I never saved anything for the swim back." - Vincent Freeman (Ethan Hawke), from the movie «Gattaca»

I think I have never mentioned here before (and I usually don't express personal aspects of my life in my blog, but I think I need to say this out or I will keep myself awake tonight crying) but there was a time - several years ago - when I dreamed of entering a Junior College (J.C.); that dream soon became more specific: I want a place in either National Junior College (N.J.C.) or Hwa Chong Junior College (now Hwa Chong Institution, or H.C.I.).

That dream, I now know, is never going to be realised ever in my lifetime.

Let's backtrack a bit here. Cue early 2000's: I'm doing my secondary education in what I now regard as one of the most (if not the most) evil secondary school in Singapore - it's located in the far north of Singapore, and shares it's name with something else that is well known internationally. While I have also myself to blame for the kind of behaviour I showed while in there, that evil school's administration (let's call them the Devils) did nothing to investigate or try to understand why I was behaving in such a manner then.

I was a target of systematic bullying by the thugs in the school, and also the victim of a systematic purge and destruction of my life, my dreams, and extreme bias against me from the Devils.

Rather than punishing the thugs, I often felt that I was the target of punishment from the Devils; rather than seeing the bullying problem, they saw me as the problem, that thorn in their behind, that nasty itch they can't reach on their backs.

The "punishment" the Devils meted out, however, weren't your usual run-of-the-mill cane on the ass. No, no, no, it was something else more systematic that allowed them to cause more grief and pain than a few strokes of the cane, yet allowed them to stay clear of being screamed at by the Ministry of Education for using "inappropriate discipline methods".

They simply denied me of my freedom to choose my path in life. And whatever I wished or wanted to do, they made ultimately-sure that the exact opposite will happen to me.

Firstly, they denied me of all activities outside of the school curriculum. In Singaporean schools, there's something called Co-Curricular Activities (C.C.A. for short) that are extra activities for students to take up, in addition to the usual study curriculum. Most schools require that their students take up at least one C.C.A., but my school and the Devils within went out of their way to ensure that each, every, and all C.C.A.s that were available were denied to me.

Secondly, they went out of their way to ensure that I get minimum education and minimum (if at all) freedom to choose the subject combination I wished to take in secondary 3. Here in Singapore, when you reach secondary 3 you get to choose a combination of subjects you wish to take for the next two years, and that often can determine where you go later in life. In my case, I was denied of virtually each and every subject that I wished to take - all the sciences subjects, arts, design and technology, even mother tongue (I'm Chinese, by the way) and Additional Mathematics.

I was only allowed to take the bare minimum: English, Elementary Mathematics (even the name here sounds like an insult to what I know I'm capable of in mathematics), and Combined Humanities. And that was it.

Ridiculous? Not to those Devils apparently.

Then, finally, when I reached secondary 4, the final pieces of their unholy plan went into place.

In secondary school in Singapore, classes are divided into two, three or four streams (depending on how you count them): the Special/Express stream, in which you complete your secondary education in four years by taking the Cambridge 'O' Level examinations at the end of it, the Normal (Academic) and the Normal (Technical) streams, in which you take Cambridge 'N' Level examinations at the end of the fourth year and optionally go on to the fifth year preparing for the 'O' Levels.

For me, I started out in the Express stream. When I reached secondary 4, they conveniently moved me down into the Normal (Academic) stream.

Combined with the limited subject combination I'm taking, deliberately limited time that I can spend in school, being barred from attending classes normally, the kind of attitude all but one of the teachers who were assigned to teaching me were having (it was like telling them to wade through a metre-deep pool of a fetid mixture of faeces and raw sewage pumped out from an industrial city in China), and SARS (yes, SARS - you can now start guessing when exactly this happened), even a polytechnic education seemed impossible to be had for me, let alone a place in J.C.

To make matters worse, they deliberately signed me up for 'N' Level Mother Tongue examinations (stating that "they must do this"), and then barred me from taking the exam on that day.

My fate was sealed.

I ended up in what is often (and I must say, accurately) thought of as the garbage dump of the Singaporean educational system: an Institute of Technical Education (I.T.E.,), or more accurately, It's The End. I didn't last long in there - I, a person destined for higher skies, was never meant to fit into the rowdy environment that was the I.T.E. In addition, I was confused, angry, frustrated, and felt horrendously insulted, not to mention the bullying that continued. I dropped out only a few months after being in that garbage dump.

It was the start of at least 4 years of the most confused, frustrated time in my life.

I had no direction. I didn't know what to do. I had no idea what to do next. All my life, things have been generally predictable, and I have always thought my future will also follow the path I thought I could see so clearly. Yet, in four short years this path, which I though was going to guide me right up to my adult life, vanished right under my feet, taken away by the Devils.

I felt like a train that just derailed, but somehow managed to keep it's momentum going. And what kept it going was time.

Time waits for no-one, of course. I needed to get back on track. But how? Even I have no idea how to get myself back on track.

I started neglecting life. I surfed the internet aimlessly, walked the streets aimlessly. My life was aimless. How can you have an aim when your aim has been robbed from you?

National Service (military conscription) came and went. It made my life even worse, the details which I do not wish to put here. At least though, it did open my eyes. At the end of it, I finally saw the situation I was in. I realised that I needed to get out of all of this. But where do I start?

I thought I could start by gaining back a part of what I lost. I applied to sit for the 'O' Level Examinations as a private candidate, and tried to pick the subject combination I wanted. But - again - virtually all of my favourite subjects are out of the question: I couldn't take any of the sciences subjects if I'm not attending a private school that dives into the practical side of the subject. Arts was out too, for a reason I can't recall now. I was forced to take and make do with the subjects that I could take.

I thought my life could be back on track. It was not to be.

Taking the 'O' Levels privately was a whole lot different from taking it in a public school. There is no structure, no external guidance, virtually no-one you could ask for help. There's only the internet to look to, a comparatively cold and unfeeling thing compared to being able to ask for help from real, live humans. I flunked two out of the five subjects I took, and scraped through another one.

However, that's not the worst of it. The worst of it, I realised, is that no matter what I could do, even if I scored straight "A"s on my exams, there will still be something missing from it: the experience of being able to enjoy school life.

Recall that I was denied from co-curricular activities when I was in school. On top of that, practically each and every non-study-related activity - sports carnivals, school-organised camps, etc. - were all denied to me. All the fun, the essence of school life, I never was able to experience them.

I try often not to think about any of these. I try to put on a mask and go about my life as usual. But - when I step outdoors, reminders that something's not quite there in me are everywhere. School-going people, in their school uniforms or  t-shirts, either going or coming back from school for both study and non-study activities - often with their close friends - are everywhere: on the streets, in shopping malls, on buses, and on trains (the recently-opened stretch of the Circle Line is especially chock full of them). Everywhere I turn, it seems, there's one of these people, who seem happy and enjoying their life. And here I am, lonely, never having experienced something like this, and never will.

And it doesn't end in real life. Just to give one example, there's one community right here on LiveJournal - apollofaculty - that chronicles their non-study activities they had and the fun they are enjoying (and these guys are from Hwa Chong Institution no less). There's more out there on the internet - YouTube, flickr, etc. - if you go look for it, there are all there. And on local TV, there's this programme airing on MediaCorp Channel 5 called "The School Nationals". It's not too hard to see what it's about, and why I often avoid watching that.

Of course I can't stop these guys from doing what they are doing. I can't stop them from enjoying these activities, I can't stop them from wearing those shirts, I can't stop them from being happy about it, I can't stop them from talking and laughing about their experiences, I can't stop them from uploading their experiences onto the intertubes, and I can't stop the local TV station to broadcast an entire programme about a part of it. It will be unfair to them, as it was unfair for my school to deny all of those to me. But, whenever I see them, try as I might I can't ignore the nagging feeling in my chest - even the sight of that big bold blue link up there is enough. Whenever I see them, whenever I think about them, I often feel as if a rock has been dumped on my chest, while feeling as if there's something hollow in me. Enough of them, and sometimes I want to break down, go nuts, and cry - and I have already did that at least once (twice or thrice if you count an unrelated matter).

These past few days, I have been thinking, is it possible - in any way - for me to get these experiences back, to fill a hollow part of myself? I started planning: as you may or may not know, my aspiration was to become a graphics designer and artist, and the two routes I was considering were either straight into a private arts school, or through a J.C., and then going on to a university or arts school later on. I was leaning towards the latter for obvious reasons - it could be able to provide me the experiences I am missing. However, a phone call to the Ministry of Education revealed that I am too old for J.C.

Boom. Bombshell.

It was when I know that, in this life, I will never, ever be able to fill that hollow void in my life.

And that brings us back to the beginning of this blog entry, and why I felt I needed to write this. When I realised the horrendous truth, somehow something in me told me to write it out on my blog. Something in me told me that I needed to let everyone know that situations like mine exists, that such things happened, that there is such unfairness happening in this world.

In a way this is also one of my many lame attempts to try and get the rock off my chest and the void filled, but I don't know how it can ever be gone. I feel lonely, grief, despair, helplessness, and frustration.

God, I wish there was a time machine so I could go back in time and fix all of these. I really do.

Just to let anyone concerned out there know, I'm indeed seeking psychiatric help for all of these, but there's only so much they can do.

I just don't know what else I could do.

Still Alive.

Yes, I'm not dead yet. It's just that I have too many things going on in my life right now that has taken up all my time and energy.

I will definitely find some time to update this blog sometime in the future, when I have the time and energy again.

(The following entry was originally published as a reply to a The Online Citizen article, Obama’s win: Lessons for local politicians. The reply has been cleaned up and edited for presentation as a blog entry here.)

While browsing through the list of articles published at the Singaporean socio-political web site The Online Citizen, I came across this article that compared the state of U.S. politics with Singapore's, titled Obama’s win: Lessons for local politicians. In it, the author wrote about how the candidates in the U.S. elections, Barack Obama and John McCain, were, despite their intensive campaigns, able to retain their courtesy and grace towards each other throughout and at the end of the race to the White House, while Singaporean politicians seem to be much rather otherwise most of the time.

The author made it as if the U.S. Presidential campaign was mostly free of personal attacks, but if one is to do some casual investigation, the truth could be rather otherwise. At the very least, both candidate's supporters were personally attacking each other through many channels; Barack Obama had to set up a web site, FightTheSmears.com, to fend off the attacks against him, his family, and his personal history, while the politically-neutral web site FactCheck.org listed many instances where both candidates made out mistruths regarding each other; on some occasions these bordered on the line of personal attacks. Fox News, a notoriously conservative news network often derided for their content and extreme bias (under the guise of their motto, “The only network for fair and balanced news”), made countless assaults and quoted whole mistruths about Barack Obama; examples included alleging that he studied in a Muslim madrasah when he was growing up in Indonesia (wholly disproved), and sensationalising the fact that he was an ex-cigarette smoker, in their effort to discredit Barack Obama (allegations of similar bias against John McCain by Fox News seems strangely absent). And finally, if one is to do a search regarding U.S. politics on web sites like Sourcewatch.org, one could realise that U.S. politics is an extremely dirty practice that is rather full of personal agendas.

Still, it was definitely quite pleasantly surprising that both candidates could reach out to each other graciously at the end of such an ugly and bruising battle for the U.S. presidency; some of the most amazing things that happened were when McCain asked his own supporters to stop the booing when he congratulated Obama’s win, and when the latter promised to reach out not only to his own supporters but also to those that voted for his opponent. While they may have been just putting up a show, it does indeed demonstrate that they are willing to show compromise and graciousness to each other - at least in public - despite what they both went through.

In Singapore, sadly, there’s a very public show of hate going on in between the political rivals here; the enemity between Chee Soon Juan and the Lee family (Lee Kuan Yew and Lee Hsien Loong, in particular) is probably one of the more infamously-known. Much of the reason why I cannot bring myself to support any local politician, be it governing or opposition, is due to all this animosity and immaturity displayed by both the politicians and their supporters, where personal attacks are hurled around freely like tomatoes during a food fight.

It has often been alleged that the long-governing People's Action Party (PAP), under the leadership of Lee Kuan Yew formerly and Lee Hsien Loong currently, had hurled many a personal attack and threats against the opposition and especially against Chee Soon Juan, one of the more prominent opposition figures in Singapore. For example, the state-controlled press here has actually gone as far as to call Chee Soon Juan "psychotic". However, the opposition, and quite especially Chee Soon Juan himself, from what I personally observe, is not completely clean from this either. Yes, Chee Soon Juan has been on the receiving end of one too many personal attacks in the name of politics, but does he think he is any better himself? Looking at the dialogue he and the Lees had with each other in a court of law (during a defamation suit brought against the Chees by the Lees) not too long ago, I found both sides to be equally pathetic, having been reduced to trading insults at each other in a court. While Chee Soon Juan often decry the kind of treatment he is receiving from the establishment, he himself is being hypocritical when he uses the same tactics against his opponents.

And on the internet, is not uncommon for Singaporeans to openly express their personal hatred at the Lees and the PAP in general; there's quite a number of people who are hoping that Lee Kuan Yew will pass on quickly, probably one of the dirtiest tactic in the playbook of politics. Personally, I don’t like Lee Kuan Yew myself, but what good is being done when one curses him to his death?

Another thing I have often noticed on Singaporean internet communities is this: if one is to voice an opinion that seems even remotely aligned to the establishment’s opinions (like what I may be doing here), what almost always immediately happens next is that that particular person will be attacked by countless other anti-establishment supporters as “a PAP bootlicker” and shunned. While I have seen similar incidents do occur in political discussions in the U.S., it is usually a much more balanced affair; in Singapore, it seems like such people are a pitiful minority against a large online populace of blindly anti-establishment types, who often forcibly snub out any such people whose opinions and thoughts may not click with their own’s.

In my opinion, personally attacking someone and shunning him/her is probably one of the most undemocratic and un-free speech like action someone could do; ironic, because it can be quite easily assumed that these people are trying to push for more democracy and freedom in Singapore. In a society where free speech morals are practised, differing opinions could be instead respected and intelligently engaged with and debated against instead.

Indeed, Singapore still has a long way to go in becoming a real democracy. If there’s anyone who is seriously committed to such a goal, then he/she should first start with basic political courtersy - that, as ugly and dirty the politics may become, at the end of the day everyone, including your opponents, has to be treated with basic courtersy and graciousness, and that your plan be as inclusive to everyone - including the opponents - as possible. This is the only way for us to move forward, otherwise Singapore will be forever struck at where they are right now.
Not many things in this world can reduce an educated, polite gentleman into a spitting, rowdy snob. While I don't claim myself to be of the former calibre - I'm not that shameless - I am very actively working towards that goal, and self-control often stops me from falling into a person of the latter calibre.

Today, I discovered one of those things that can reduce such gentlemen (or at least gentlemen like myself) into such snobs.

Let me give some background. Buses and metro (MRT) lines here are operated by either one of two operators, SBS Transit or SMRT. Both, in my honest opinion, feed us garbage in place of service quite often; SMRT though has been feeding much more garbage, beginning from much earlier times. SBS Transit's service quality has begun decomposing into garbage only recently, but they still have a distance to go before they can break even with SMRT for the race to the bottom.

Now, here's what happened today. Quickly: to prepare for my 'O' level exams, I went down to the Central Lending Library to borrow some books; afterwards, I headed to the Cold Storage supermarket located in the Orchard area to do some grocery shopping (have not been able to do so prior due to the fact I have been studying for my exams) before heading home.

Now, here's the thing: to head home to Sembawang from Orchard, I usually avoid taking the MRT as much as possible to avoid the nasty crowds on it (which is nearing Japanese levels), either altogether or for most of the stretch from Orchard to Sembawang. To avoid it completely, I can take either route 167, or hop onto route 162 and transfer to route 980 - the latter bringing me slightly closer to my home than route 167. To avoid the MRT line partially, I can take route 143 to Toa Payoh, or route 128, which operates during rush hours, to Yio Chu Kang. I initially wanted to take route 162, but seeing a crowded bus put me off - I decided to try route 128 eventually. I do know the MRT line is crowded even at Yio Chu Kang, but the last time I saw that, it was earlier in the evening, and I thought the crowds should have cleared by close to 8 PM.

Big mistake.

First ominous sign: why is the next train a rush-hour shortworking trip to Yishun, one stop away from my stop in Sembawang? And why is it 5 minutes away?

When this train came, the crowd on board was even worse than what I have seen happen in earlier evening hours; as I mentioned earlier, it's nearing Japanese standards. Why, if there is such a big crowd, do we have a 5 minute headway?

Obviously, I did not board this train; the train that could get to my stop in Sembawang was an additional 3 minutes away, making for a total of an 8-minute wait.

OK, this was the first thing that pissed me. But I kept in the line.

I assumed that the next train may not be as crowded, since a 3-minute headway behind might not make the load that bad, even accounting for commuters who decided to pass-up the Yishun train for the next one, right? Right?

Wrong.

The crowd levels were about the same as the previous train; with commuters standing right by the edges of the door, and all carriages full of people standing everywhere.

That was the second ominous sign, and I was deciding whether to pass-up this train too before I made a dash for the door. I cannot wait for the next train, as it was yet another Yishun-train which was 5 minutes away.

So, on board the train. It was full of people, people crowding around everywhere. Obviously, seats here are about as readily available as water in the Death Valley. And did I mention that I was carrying a bag of groceries that weighted more than 2 KG, including two very breakable jars of pasta sauce? Library books were also inside - if anything nasty happened to spill the contents of those jars and ruin the books, I'm in deep trouble with the National Library Board.

On the train, with much thanks to the crowd there was nothing for me to grab on initially, except for the air-conditioning vents. It was only after I managed to shuffle myself inward that I could grab hold of a pole that, for some reason, has been made slimy by sweaty hands that probably were not washed after toilet trips or eating oily food. The third ominous sign.

Finally, at Yishun, someone who was seated alighted, and I finally got hold of a seat to rest my legs and groceries for one more stop before I walk home. Things seemed to be somewhat better, but the train - even at Yishun - was still very much crowded. But - at least I got a seat, so things should be starting to get better, right?

Murphy's Law strikes.

Just as the train was approaching Sembawang, I made a very clear "excuse me, I'm alighting at this station" (I was seated opposite to where the doors will be opening) to get people to stop forming an impenetrable crowd around the door. But, no one seemed to bother. So, as the train was pulling in, I stood up, and made clear my message again, while putting my handphone in my pocket in one hand, and with a bag of groceries in the other. In reply to my verbal request, someone just shot back something along the lines of  "need to wait for the doors to open first".

Then, I do not know whether the train's electronic system is broken, or whether the train driver was messing around, but at this point, the train managed to jerk so hard that I lost my balance and fell onto a crowd of people. Note that I have my hands full here, so grabbing onto the poles were virtually impossible.

Mind you: straight track, slowing down train entering station. You don't expect hard jerks or abrupt brakes here unless bad things are happening on the tracks, which is not the case here.

It was there then when things went off the track for me. I had enough of this disgusting train trip.

I wonder, how many of the people crowding around the doors were actually intending to alight at Sembawang? Why do I almost always find that the crowd to be slightly less thick towards the middle of the train cars, but impenetrable around the doors?

(People do crowd around the train doors even if they are not alighting - on another separate train trip (which was less crowded), I was walking towards the door, queuing behind this obese person who blocked off half of the doorway thanks to his body frame - get a diet, please - thinking he was alighting at the next stop. But, when the doors opened, he just stayed put there with a blank expression (I looked back at him after I got off), and I had to move around his obese body to get off. For God's sake, if you are not alighting, stay away from the doors - especially if you are fat enough to block off half of the doorway. We don't need this kind of obstruction here.)

Ironically, there were posters all over the train car telling passengers not to crowd around the door. Selective seeing, I guess.

And why was the train jerking so much while entering the station? Were the computer systems that were controlling the trains becoming wonky? Or was the train driver doing this intentionally? For fun? Did it matter to him that people like me could be on board? Could it matter if a heavily-pregnant lady fell down and something nasty happened to her womb? Or an old lady with brittle bones falling down and breaking her back?

Did I mention the two breakable jars of pasta in my bag of groceries, and the library books?

It didn't matter to me then; I was pissed off, and I'm pissed off royally, and virtually no-one (except maybe for people who personally know me) and nothing can piss me off that much. I was angry. I was cussing, I was cursing at everything. I had enough, and enough was enough. I spat at the train after I managed to squeeze my way out. It didn't matter to me then that my behaviour there could come across as a snob to other people, or that I could suffer the negative effects of having idiots with negative brain mass and negative intelligence quotient stomp me; I needed to vent it out somewhere, or my heart will go boom.

Mind you, I'm usually hold my cool and try to be as polite and gentlemanly with things, but all of these is just overboard.

All right, first up: the people. When will they ever learn that crowding around train doors, talking back and being rude, and pushing and shoving, will get you nowhere? I admitted I shoved a bit during the trip, but I did so to allow the person who was vacating her seat to get off by creating a path for her - since none of you people wanted to give way, I had to push and shove for her - I did not want her to shove just so she can get off the train.

Next: SMRT. Yeah, more train runs promised. Put it in the media, get the local news bulletins to run it. Why am I still seeing 5-minute headways? Why did I have to wait 8 minutes for my train? Why all of these during evening rush hours? Why do we have to pay more for longer waiting times for trains that are more crowded? And just how outdated are their definition of rush hours? I have seen badly-crowded trains as late as 9 or even 10 PM on weekdays, which they conveniently define as "evening non-peak hours" (i.e. not rush hours), and use this as a convenient excuse for trains with headways that run into as much as 10 minutes, with an average of probably 7 to 8 minutes, judging from what I have seen, heard, and experienced; are any of them still in touch with reality? Or are they all just blinded to make more profits by stuffing more people into less trains that arrive less frequently? Monkeys could possibly do a better job at running the company than those people.

I have heard that Hong Kong's metro lines (the excellent MTR) have a headway as low as 2 minutes, and mind you - that's non-rush hours. Scaled to Singapore's terms, I could have expect them to give us a 4 to 5 minute headway; instead, I hear of such headways only during rush hours, when one expects headways of 1 to 2 minutes during those rush hours judging by the load of our trains. And no, it's not the hours defined by SMRT, which are more outdated than the notion that our planet is at the centre of the Universe.

And as for the train's jerking: if this was the result of a wonky computer system, then let me ask: is maintenance being scrimped on such important things as to cause such things to happen? And if it's the train driver, has he ever been drilled about proper train driving methods? It doesn't take an idiot to figure out that you should try not to make a train jerk too much or standing passengers could lose their balance and fall - has this basic of basics ever been taught to them?

The people, the company: this is all just a very vile mix here that I'm truly disgusted at. On one had, you have people who don't seem to understand manners on the trains; on the other, you have a company run by profit-greedy corporate monsters who have back-burned public welfare, safety, and service in exchange for more money for themselves to keep. It is quite well known that the president of SMRT, Saw Phaik Hwa, despite running a public transit company, prefers to move around in her luxury sports car rather than seeing for herself how awful the public transit system she's responsible for is. Ironic, when the government is trying to get people to swear off cars and get onto public transport - no wonder we are getting more four-wheeled, inefficient, petrol-guzzling air polluters on our roads.

I have seriously no idea why the Copenhagen Metro and the Hong Kong MTR, both of which look like excellent metro systems to me (the latter verified by both Singaporeans and Hong Kongers themselves, as well as my own mother, who visited Hong Kong before), could lose a global excellent service award to a company like SMRT. What were the judges thinking?

I'm going to avoid SMRT's MRT lines whenever possible from now on; this is all too disgusting for me to stomach any longer. I do really wonder how people who ride the MRT lines SMRT operates (North-South and East-West) tolerate this kind of nonsense near-daily - I could have been committed to a mental asylum by now.