Monday, 2 May 2011

SSO Concert: Poets of Poland / Review

POETS OF POLAND / Singapore Symphony Orchestra
Esplanade Concert Hall / Friday (19 April 2011)

An edited version of this review was published in The Straits Times on 2 May 2011 with the title "Poets thrashed by shcoolboys".

One of the greatest impediments to Singapore having a world-class concert life has been a less than world-class audience, with its members still mired in Third World mentality and misbehaviour. Nowhere was this better illustrated than at SSO’s latest concert, where a shameful lack of consideration and outright rudeness threatened to dominate the music.

General restlessness, incessant murmuring, un-muffled coughs and clearing of throats, followed by ripples of audible mirth, and dropping of heavy noise-making objects on the floor were the order of the evening. All these emanated from the Third Circle where a circus of schoolboys held court, the cacophony of which wafted down to the stalls and stage.

It did not help that the opening work was Finnish composer Magnus Lindberg’s Parada (composer left), which besides being unfamiliar was a slow progression of simmering dissonance to undisguised violence. Waving a red flag to a bull, the worst was yet to be when it came to Chopin’s Second Piano Concerto.

There was scarcely a minute where its familiar strains were not interrupted by some interjection from way above. The orchestra seemed to respond by playing louder as counter- irritation, and Irish pianist Barry Douglas’s big-boned rather than intimate playing mirrored that train of thought. Then came inappropriate and loud applause after the end of the first movement.

Hold on, the work’s not ended yet! The orchestra was kept waiting before it could continue. Only after conductor Lan Shui’s icy stare with extreme consternation did the noise abate, and both orchestra and pianist soldiered on. While the second movement’s Larghetto revelled in lyricism and dramatic phrases, the finale sounded ragged. The memory of an otherwise enjoyable performance had been ruined.

The perpetrators of this mayhem came from a so-called elite school, Anglo Chinese School (Independent), which was involved in a riot at a rugby finals match not so long ago. More than just concert etiquette classes are in order.

Thankfully the extreme decibel factor in the second half came wholly from the stage. Bold and brazen, the orchestra tore into Witold Lutoslawski’s Concerto For Orchestra (composer left), with its angry and snarling ostinatos, like people possessed. Transforming simple folktunes and motifs into monumental edifices, the music just built inexorably upon its energy and momentum. All the instrumental groups shined, not least the brass whose final chorale came through the storm with blazing authority.

Despite ending on a fiery note of redemption, one can already see the byline, “Poets of Poland thrashed by Spoilt Sons of Singapore”.


Chang Tou Liang said...

De Goh Keng Swee, founder of the Singapore Symphony Orchestra and old boy of Anglo Chinese School, must be turning in his grave now.

By the way, Barry Douglas performed a very loud and emphatic Prelude (from Pour le piano) by Debussy as his sole encore.

Jason said...

...not just Dr Goh KS, but also Bernard Tan and Goh Yew Lin, who are ACS old boys and linked with the SSO.

However, can the Rafflesian blogger prove beyond all reasonable doubt to exclusive veracity that the noise makers in the concert were solely Anglo-Chinese School (Independent) boys?

If not, it might be best for the good doctor to leave such PAPsmear tactics back in the clinic!

Chang Tou Liang said...

Wow, you ACSians must be so, soo, sooo proud of your alma mater now. Just wished your fellow classmates had been more mindful of your school's reputation before taking the trouble of coming to Esplanade to thrash the concert.

These are no PAP smear tactics, just the plain truth. Live with it. You can still make your school proud by being a little more humble,admit the truth, and behave like more mature people.

Do expect Benson Puah, another worthy ACSian, to teach you young people about RESPECT pretty soon.

Auspicium melioris aevi!

Jose said...

Frankly, you were wrong. It wasn't just the ACS boys who were causing all of the disturbances. It was also partly due to the other international school students too. Furthermore, I find it very childish for someone of your maturity to mock the school motto.

Not that you are completely wrong either. It is true that they were noisy disturbed the concert-goers, but your retaliation was also uncalled for. It is alright to have your opinion, but one should not mock them as it just shows you are no better.

I implore you, kind sir, to think before writing such things. Also, you should be sure of what you are writing and take care to not mock others. Who knows? What you say might come back to haunt you.

Jason said...

You still have not proven the veracity of your comments. Please don't dodge the question like the Men-in-White. How do you know beyond any reasonable doubt who made noise?

We now have two other commentators who claim there were other noise makers at the concert.

Hazique said...

Yup. I agree. As an ACSian, I feel deeply angry at the way people think about our school. Our school is a top school but that does not mean public should criticize and tarnish our reputation. What if Rafflesians does the same thing? Please think through and see whether you guys are right in mocking us like that.

Jose said...

You realize this kind of thing only happens to 'top schools' and never to 'neighborhood schools'. I mean this with no disrespect to those schools.

Phone Myat said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Albert Lin said...

A school, and education, isn't judged by academic results alone. If you think being an "elitist" school entitles its students to behave like complete morons in public, then perhaps you need to do some soul-searching yourself.

This reaction to the reviewer's views reflects everything that's wrong with our society today. Instead of imploring students who were making a mickey out of their school-name, you attack the people who were offended by the behavior. We, especially the younger ones, can only learn by accepting criticism. Unfortunately nowadays people only want to have nice words and smoke blown up their behinds. I had students from the school attending the concert, and they confirmed much of the post.

Mind you, ACS is my alma mater too, and I had a few giggles from reading the review because it just confirmed my opinion of ACS students. Does the school produce good academic results? Definitely. Does that grant them immunity from criticism about their rowdy and selfish behavior? Absolutely not.

The students involved did most of the smearing of the name of the school, the reviewer only confirmed what most of us already know.

JINGLI said...

Hello Dr Chang,
Your comment on the poor ettique of audience here in classical concerts really strike a chord with me. I could see where you're coming from. Somehow there s always a small minority of people who will cough, shift their things about or forget to switch their mobile phones off in a concert hall. And very strangely the phenomenon of one isolated cough leading to collective coughs all over always occur. These group of people, though small in numbers, are usually successful in spoiling the concert.

This time you did the right thing in naming the culprits. Yes i'm sure the noise was not solely contributed by ACS boys but other members of the audience as well (like what Jose said) but this does not erase the fact that ACS boys did contribute the noise.

These young men should do a self-reflection before illogical accusations like "PAP smear tactics".

Alex said...

Dear blogger,

Its clear from the comments that:

1. there were other schools present; and

2. there were disturbances.

However, it is not clear (and it is disputed) that ACS boys were the ONLY cause of the disturbances.

In your blog post, your accusations are firmly directed only at one school and that was ACS. Your blog post suggests that ACS was the only school causing disturbance and should have behaved better.

If the ACS boys did cause any disturbance, then they should be apologetic.

However, for different reasons, I think an apology from you is also due.

Your observations and comments in your blog post were biased. You had also jumped to conclusions about the source of the disturbance.

Furthermore, you had also turned the issue away from the boys' behaviour at the concert and turned it into a general attack against the school and its reputation.

These sort of comments are unwarranted and not justified by the circumstances.

Ultimately, teenagers will behave like teenagers even if they should not. I think that you have allowed your anger to get ahead of you and your better judgment.

I do not wish to generalise and comment on whether your outburst reflects on your alma mater. It would be unfair both to you and your school for me to do so. I do not wish to be the pot calling the kettle black.

What remains is that your comments were biased and were an attack on ACS and its reputation.

While an apology is due to you for the disturbances, I believe that similarly an apology from you is due to ACS and its "Old Boys" for your comments.

Mitch said...

I apologize for criticizing your post, but with all due respect, I feel that your choice of diction in these posts reflect very strongly your prejudiced standpoint on this matter. No doubt these young gentlemen have created some form of disruption and inconvenience, but they are in their growing years.

I feel that as an adult your comments are uncalled for and the use of your derogatory comments upon the school's motto and entire student population simply to draw public attention to this small matter is appalling of a renowned blogger such as yourself. Please exercise discretion in the criticism of these students.

ACS(I) is a school well renowned for bringing up fine gentlemen. I do not believe that this one event is significant enough to generate such heated criticism.

Derek said...

To the above, I believe that "PAPsmear" was a pun directed at the reviewer's profession, linked with what our ruling party has been allegedly doing this GE.

as jason said, unless the reviewer can establish factually that the noise makers were indeed entirely students from the school, he should not be so quick to make such strong accusations.

Albert, whilst you have made good points, there is too a very valid proposition made by the more balanced commenters above: whilst the students may indeed be at fault, the reviewer has a duty to be responsible in the comments and words he uses.

The reviewer also has to get his facts right. As far as all respectable media sources go, of which stomp is not one of them, there was no riot at any rugby finals match, and there is no reason to link noisy students at a concert in the Esplanade Concert Hall to a fight on a rugby pitch. Perhaps some classes in responsible journalism are in order?

Derek said...

additionally, will the reviewer please provide justification of that photoshopped version of the school's crest? does it add to and reinforce that the students made noise at a concert? or is the reviewer now being rude and disrespectful towards an institution? Perhaps Benson Puah, indeed a very worthy ACSian should stand up for his alma mater here and have a few words with the reviewer for this very childish action.

Albert Lin said...


Difference is, the students "allegedly" involved were committing said acts while in uniform, the doctor wasn't donning his Raffles attire.

If ACSians do indeed have such a strong sense of school pride, why is it an overwhelming majority of them can't even wear their uniform properly? Either the shirts are untucked, or tie is loose. I've even seen them smoking in their school uniform.

The school does not "produce" fine gentlemen I'm afraid to say, it's just a coincidence that these men received their academic education there.

Albert Lin said...

and the argument that "teenagers will be teenagers" is a weak one

the day we stop creating readily-made excuses for bad behavior is the day our society can move ahead.

crimson said...

@Albert Lin.

I think the differences in representation are evident in your own statements. The coughing and waterbottle dropping were "allegedly" carried out by students in ACS school uniform in circle 2, which apparently can be identified from the stall level despite the presence of other students there.

The defacing of a school logo and disrespectful diction by Dr Chang have been carried out on a public forum, with his name attached to it. There is quite some difference here.

As for smoking in uniform... well, I wouldn't call that an ACS-exclusive phenomenon. Whoever took over the old RJ ghim moh campus can clearly see the ciggie butt marks all over the far end of the old spex gal and behind the TSes.

Jason said...

Well said by Derek!
In addition, perhaps the reviewer could also explain how he would reconcile his comments here with his comments in his review.

Albert: every school will have its own good and bad sheep, it is unfortunate that you did not have a good experience in school, but others did.

Colin said...

You know, ACSians do not wear their school uniform to any concert. Just saying.

Chang Tou Liang said...

Thanks go to ALL for the lively discourse, and the chance to jump to the defence of your school.

During the interval at the concert, I made enquiries with the SSO as to the extraordinary events and sounds, and was told that tickets in the Third Circle had been bulk-booked by ACS(I). I personally went up to check, and indeed there were many, many students and their personal effects strewn all over the floor, but none were in identifiable school uniforms. Some were also been spoken to by an usher. I asked another usher where the students were from, and the original answer was ACS. I asked her to check again, and she confirmed it to be ACS(I). There may have been other students and I supposed they should have been asked to reveal their identities as well. Anyway, if they were in school uniforms, the would not have behaved the way they did.

By the tone of your responses, it just confirms the impression I have of ACSians - arrogant, self-indulgent and without humility or the ability to reflect. Maybe that's why others have a field day about you. I have many good friends who are ACSians, but they have all grown up and become sons of a better age.

Chang Tou Liang said...

OK, I concede to having had some mischief by adding a question mark to the motto "The best is yet to be". If you have been offended, then I apologise. If it becomes a matter for ACSians (and others for that matter) to reflect on and to seek to better themselves, than it serves its function. We should always aim to be better. (And that also includes the Men in White!)

crimson said...

actually, i went to RJC.

relative to any average school, perhaps those comments about ACS might be justified. but ACSians might have to cede that "the best is yet to be" to Rafflesians, at least for the following terms:



"without humility"

"or the ability to reflect."

Jason said...

Thank you for your clarification.

Likewise Dr Chang, your failure to address many of the concerns about the tone and words that you used in your review, as well as your childish photoshopped pictures have led many of us to confirm that Rafflesians are arrogant, self-indulgent and without humility or the ability to reflect even when they're adults.

Maybe thats why others have a field day about you too:

Joshua said...

Dr Chang, If i asked you to attend a Justin Bieber concert and say, made you scream to a certain volume and when you failed to do that, mocked you and your school on the national newspaper, would that have been fair.
Because that is what you are doing to those teenagers.
Would you have liked Justin Bieber's music?Probably not. Would you have tried? probably, But would it have been wholly possible to do so? maybe not. This is probably of the situation of those teenagers.
It is perfectly human to start occupying your self with something else when you are bored with another thing.Maybe those teenagers did not fully understand concert etiquette.Maybe they where too bored to do so.
And come on, cut them some slack, they have lots to learn.

A proud said...

Dear Sir,

This is my humble opinion. Being a rafflesian myself, your comments on ACSI has indeed appaled me. I do feel a little ashamed too. This era teenagers like me have not been many concerts or none at all. Thus we are not aware of proper concert etiquette. For the sneezeing and coughing i myself would have covered my mouth and would not have muffled it.Also other members of the audience might have also faced this problem. From the comments i am aware there were other international schools. So they might have contriuted to the noise in the concert hall and not solely ACSI boys. Even though this could be reasoned, you had dragged in the school and created a opinion that the entire school was like this. One concert is not enough to determine this. During my competitions with ACSI i had a good impression of them. They were united and did not easily give up. There also had goodsportsman ship. If raffles had gone for a concert, and the same thing happened and was reported like this, both you and i would be upset as RI is your alma mater. We would have defended RI like the ACSI alumni did. What enraged me even further was what you did to the ACS crest. This is highly disrespectful and this is NOT what they teach in RI.

A appology to ACSI is definately needed in this case

Juan A Cervantes said...

Dear Dr;

I would be gratified to air my humble evaluation of your emotional post.

I would like to clarify: the sneezes and bout of chain-coughing were muffled to the fullest of the "perpetrators"'s abilities. And they were just teens, not knowing how to stifle a paroxsymic sternulation adequately. Please understand this.

Furthermore, the murmuring and unbridled confabulation among the audience was, as I saw being present in that concert myself, was singularly engendered by the American students juxtaposing the ACSIans.

Lastly, the unwanted clapping was from the older gentlemen in the very front row of the auditorium. I could discern this clearly from my vantage point on the balcony seats. The ACSIans have been listening to classical, romantic, Rick Astley and baroque music during Music lessons in school and are unequivocally able to ascertain when a piece is over or when it is a pause for dramatic effect.

I would like to conclude it requesting you to be more mindful of how you phrase your erratic phillipics in future. If possible, I request you remove the offensive areas of the post into erewhon. I feel your emotional outburst was steltiloquent prolix and immature in nature. I am sure you have offended many ACSians by defacin the school crest and the motto twice.

i am not here said...

I'm not going to write a lengthy essay here, but based on what a friend of mine from ACS(I) who had been present at the concert said, they had indeed been briefed before hand about concert etiquette.
A couple ACS boys blatantly defied the rules, which led to the ruckus, although it must be said that a large proportion of them were rather well-behaved, for most of the concert.
The ACS boy I spoke to had himself admitted that it was a certain joker in ACS, who had purposely and knowingly began clapping simply because he had thought that it would have been funny, which caused other ACS boys to follow suit. They themselves had been briefed specifically on this matter.
Although I am not to certain whether they had been told about muffling their coughs etc. based on what I know, I'm fairly certain they knew what they were doing and the implications.
I am not trying to attack ACS, and I've to add that indeed, there was a rather considerable amount of pupils who were well-behaved and had attempted to stop the others. I am simply trying to provide some first-hand accounts on what had happened, as I do not agree with what certain people above me have posted.

FYI: I'm both a Rafflesian and an ACSian

Anonymous said...

I think the only things I have against this post is that the school crest was photoshopped; I've nothing against questioning the motto, but defacing the crest was totally inappropriate (but has already been apologised for); and that the photo of the rugby brawl was from 2010; apparently the ruggers were quite well behaved this year, so I find this link as good as... no link.

As a previous ACSian MEP student who's went to such concerts for 4 years with such people... let's just say more than half of us would've carried paper bags with us to hide our faces when appropriate. A great number of us would agree with the disagreement about the students' behaviour, but well... let's just say that it's complicated. The previous comment gives you a glimpse of the matter...

(Before commenting on this comment, do read the post and the comments above it very carefully. Much that has to be said has been said.)

Lin said...

Sir, as a student that went to the concert, I can clearly tell you what ACTUALLY happened. Firstly, we are really sorry for the "cough" and the "bottle-dropping" sound. But those were all accidents.
Secondly, for the clapping part, we were merely following the audiences. If sir, you , insist that we clapped for such a long time , please pardon our ignorance. We can't compare to sir, who is used to listening to concerto and symphonics. But the main point here is, we FOLLOWED the audience. Are you infering that the audience were ignorant as well?
Well, no matter what, the last point is the most important one. As a RAFFLESIAN, ( you ) , have RI been teaching you how to insult other people's motto? Well, i believe that you would'nt want "auspicium melioris aevi" a.k.a "an omen of a better age " ( to be tarnished as well, would you? Please reflect on what you wrote. As a reporter of The Straits Time newspaper, what you did was a disgracea alright? Stop being childish.
Yours sincerely.

Chang Tou Liang said...

Congratulations, people.

Give yourselves a pat on the back. As of today, "Poets of Poland" has become the most read article of PianoMania ever in its short history. Its also the article with the most comments by a long chalk. Thank go to Facebook and Twitter for aiding this cause. Nothing beats controversy and debate!

See you all at the next concert.

brendonyik said...

The first comment made by u Dr Chang is a propaganda, trying to influence what ppl think but that's mostly bias. True enough, those students were slightly misbehaved but it was not entirely their fault was it, u think they would have bothered to remember when to clap??!! Somewhat noisy teens are expected at such a concert, why would they cough or sneeze on purpose, that's simply weird?? This so called concert was not entirely ruined, but u make it sound as if it is the end of the world...

Glenn Lee said...

I agree with you that we, ACSians, were abit noisy, but you also exaggerated abit too much don't you think? I can assure if you brought RI or Hwa Chong or any other secondary school, most students would not be able to appreciate the music. You seriously think that people who sneeze and cough on purpose just to interrupt the concert? I doubt so.

Albert Lin said...

"Them being teenagers" is a silly excuse...I have 8 yr old students who know how to behave at concerts.

picking on how the author "defaced" your school crest does not defer the fact that the behavior of the students was embarassing.

I've yet to see any student accept responsibility without pointing fingers at all directions.

probably caused by the fact that your teachers and VP have been caressing your egos with lines of "it's not totally your fault."

not totally your fault that you couldn't read the timing of the work on your programme booklet, not totally your fault that you do not understand "Food and Drinks are prohibited", not your fault that you think it's ok to disrupt the enjoyment of 1000 other people in the hall.

learn to behave in public for once.

Matthias Oh said...

Dear Mr Chang
I am from ACSI. I have to agree with you that ACSI people are very arrogant and very snobbish. They need some humility. I don’t like ACSI people, too, however, I am utterly not pleased. I think that every school needs their own rightful respect as they are unique in their own ways. Every school has it’s own good and bad. I think we are not the only school there and only some of us made some noise. I saw many of my friends kept very quiet during the concert. In the article the tone you used gave me the impression that we all did something wrong and it’ totally our fault. I did not talk at all and I enjoyed the music. I think ACSI people are proud and arrogant, but, not all of us. NOT ALL OF US. We know how to behave, except for some. I am not rich, my parents don’t drive, and I live in a HDB flat. I don’t like to look down at anybody as I think that everyone has the potential to excel in their own ways, besides academics. After reading the article, you made me feel that we did something wrong and tarnished the school. It’s only some of us. Not all. There are other schools there, too. All the teachers put in a lot of effort to teach us. Both education and moral. I learn that to be better and smarter, we have to be humble. I think acsi also has a good moral education, something that I did not know until I entered the school. I felt very guilty, after reading the article, and you made me feel as if I had chosen the wrong school and I don’t deserve the credits. I felt as if I wasted all my efforts for my PSLE and got into a so-called elite school. I am utterly depressed. People will never look at ACSI the same way again. Soon, lesser parents will want their son to come here. What has became of an so-called elite school and outstanding school in Singapore? ~In tears~

Matthias Oh said...

I hope you guys will not be offended, but I hope the message has hit home :)

Tony said...

Dear Mr Albert Lin:

For the record, I am not a student, and I am not an ACSian. I am a regular concert goer, and I watched your Rimsky-Korsakov concerto performance a couple of years ago.

1. Fact: Students have accepted that making noise during a concert is not proper behaviour. They took offence at the seemingly disproportionate and unjustified ADDITIONAL criticism of their school, coupled with the fact that there were OTHER students around who made noise (Albert, for that matter you should ask some of your musician friends who were at the concert, who sat near the students. Their accounts match some of the comments above.) the questionable defacing of their school's crest and extremely tenuous link to rioting. There is only one piece of music where riots should be mentioned in the review and this is not it.

Would you not call this mature thinking? Do we not want them to become a first world electorate when they grow up?

2. Fact: There is no rule that "Food and Drinks are prohibited" in the Esplanade.

Perhaps there might be an unwritten, customary, and traditional one that EATING and DRINKING in the hall is not allowed.

If Drinks were prohibited in the Esplanade, we should then see huge bins which allow people to throw their water bottles outside the concert hall like the ones before the baggage scanning machines in the Airport Departure Halls.

Additional note: no one has accused the kids of eating or drinking in the hall.

3. Fact: The timing of the work in the programme booklet does not show the individual timings of each movement.

If you are picking on them for that, you might want to see what Stephen Hough, a FANTASTIC pianist, has to say about that!!!
and Alex Ross, the author of "The Rest is Noise":
Maybe the SSO should then indicate the timings of each movement, so the audience would know that they should clap at the end of each movement, and not during a General Pause.

Albert: Sorry that the Rimsky-Korsakov piano concerto only had one movement! I would have clapped very loudly after each movement to show my appreciation for the work and your pianistic artistry!

4. (Fact?) The Hall was reportedly more than half empty that day. Assuming there were 300 students there, they disrupted an estimated 300 other concertgoers's experience.

As an adult and a concert pianist, learn to make SENSIBLE comments for once. Learn from Stephen Hough.

P.S. To the kids, enough has been said in the comments above, go follow the General Elections! It is much more exciting than this! Your school's name has been upheld

Tony said...

Addition to point 3: if you are picking on them for applauding between movements...

Albert Lin said...


You make some valid arguments, but to say that noise should be acceptable because something Stephen Hough says is silly. While the artist might find it ok, as audience it's a level of respect you accord to other audience and also the performer. I played in a recital, where for the whole duration students were zipping and unzipping their bags, programme booklets were falling onto the ground, and whisperings were heard. Mind you, most of them were seated within 20 feet of me. And it resulted in one of my worst ever performances but thankfully the reviewer was kind and didn't pan me for it.

Now let's turn the tables. If the performer is totally unprepared for a concert, goes onstage and disrespect the audience by insulting their intelligence, would it be right?

It's a sad fact, but true fact, that many visiting artists have had a bad impression of Singaporean audiences because of the noise level and clapping. Is it fair that they lump all singaporeans together when there are probably many foreigners in the hall too? No, but they're in singapore, what're they to think?

Albert Lin said...

btw the rimsky-korsakov was a 3-movement work, just played attacca

Chang Tou Liang said...

I've just deleted the vulgar and irrelevent posts, but will defend your right to say your piece if you do so in a civilised manner.

"The The Best Is Yet To Be?" statement remains as a reminder for one and all to reflect and think about becoming better upholders of your school's name and image. If you can't accept that, so be it. You cannot be helped. (If Rafflesians had misbehaved, a question mark would also apply to "Auspicium melioris aevi.")

In the meantime, do continue to help this post "Poets of Poland" hit the 1000 pageview mark!

Matthias Oh said...

I did what I had to do. Follow instructions, keep quiet during the concert, clap at appropriate times (I just follow the audience as Im unsure), and sit up straight. I did everything my teacher told me to do. However, it's those snob people in my school that spoiled the school's reputation. I did what I could do. But it is up to everyone to do their part. I did the most as a part of an upholder of my school. I did not say that I could not agree to that and I ''cannot be helped''. I have to agree with the "The Best is Yet to Be?" thing, but p.s, it does not imply to me as I did what is instructed. I tried my very best to be a good upholder of my school, even though there are people that did not. I always tell myself: If you are in the public, you represent the school. Show the public what your school has taught you to be. That is what my parents told me. I think this is what the other snob acsi people should learn. I may not like my school, but don't tarnish their reputation. Frankly, I have to agree that acsi people are like that, and that's stereotypic. People have an impression of acsi being rich and snob, although, not all of them. I tried my best to be humble, throughout my life. I always look up to people who are better than me, and help the weaker ones. I thank my parents for teaching me that. To be honest, the acsi sec 1s are not very mature, but, I think that learning is something that has to be developed without hurry. I think they will be better upholders of the school when they are in sec 2 or 3. The people who disrupted the concert that are frm acsi, I think they have to learn to be more publicity-conscious. I am not surprised, though. But most of all, I did my part. I can't control the other people, I wished I could. It's up to them to behave. However, I think that with years of moral education and care, I think when they graduate, they will definitely improve in their character. I learn many good things like- to give thank to God in our everyday lives, pray to God if we are in trouble, and many others. I think these will help the ACSians, to strive for better quality in both their academics and character building.

Chang Tou Liang said...

Matthias, thank you for your honest and introspective post. I think many of your schoolmates and other young people can learn from your example. That is the true meaning of "The Best Is Yet To Be" and what our forefathers hope to impart to us.

Matthias Oh said...

Thank you for that compliment. I hope we can help by doing what is right and affecting the people around you (positively), instead of lecturing them

~~WithMeForever~~ said...

I believe that what's done is already done, and instead of harping on something, we should forget and forgive, afterall, isn't it human to have an opinion?

Albert Lin said...


don't let your fellow students get you down. I was once in your shoes, discriminated against because I was neither rich nor from a Christian family. And by teachers no less.

Use it as a good example of how NOT to treat your fellow human beings.

ACSian said...

@Matthias Oh
Some way to handle school spirit buddy. You may not be 'very arrogant and very snobbish' and 'don’t like ACSI people, too', but I believe that it is precisely because you are merely wearing a white uniform and a tie. Why did you even bother entering ACS, then?

Did you believe that you may be able to change the whole school by yourself and your 'humbleness', but I can only see the following:

1) You are trying to seem appealing to others to improve self-reputation

2) You are prejudiced in your views on ACS. Have not the years that you have spent with your fellow classmates and friends enough to see through external beliefs and social conditioning? I apologise if you are indeed a social outcast and is attempting to gain recognition through this.

3) You take pride in being ' not rich, my parents don’t drive, and I live in a HDB flat'. Would you seriously wish for the whole Singapore to be in stricken poverty? What has your parent's driving got to do with you not liking ACS? And the fact that you even have a HDB flat to live in is a blessing within itself. There are people in Singapore who don't have a home. And ACSians regularly donate to charities to help them.

4) You seem to be just trying to defend yourself and your close friends, while selling out your fellow schoolmates. I believe that ACS is a school of moral values that teach brotherly love and respect. All I see in you is self-serving instinct. ACS has gotten into trouble with the press many times before, and through it all we have either stood up or taken the blame together. Until you.

5) You agree with 'The Best is Yet to Be?' as if it were an insult. I would like to remind you that the motto does not represent ACS as an elite school that is perfect, but rather that we have to keep improving ourselves. Please remember the whole point of the motto. The best is indeed yet to be, which is why we strive to become even better.

I conclude by saying that you should search your values and think carefully if you truly belong to the ACSian family. I admit that it is wrong to misbehave during a concert, and I am not against people insulting the school as we have indeed done something wrong, but simply seeing a member of the school turn against it just to save his own skin is inconceivable.

Matthias Oh said...

To ACSian
Firstly, I apologise whatever that you think I had done wrong, and I will explain later. Let's start.

I know I may sound very "full of myself", and very proud, well, in fact, not. What I want to say about the parents don't drive and HDB flat thing is not to boast bout my poverty but to show that not everyone in acs is rich. Btw I entered acs is because I want to study IB. My dad says IB is good for future use.

I know I sounded proud, but what I want to say that is my most honest opinion of acs and what I want to do. I agree with you that the "Best is yet to Be" is a reminder to keep improving. However, I have no intention to insult the school. I agree that with the question mark at the back, is to keep the ACSians reminded that they are representing the school. This is what I think. I have no intentions of selling out my schoolmates, but just want to state my most honest opinion. I am indeed extremely apologetic but I have to say this that in this case I did not really agree with the ACSians. I admired the fact that ACSians have a strong school spirit, however, I have a different point of view from them. I have no intentions of defending myself, but all I really want is to show my opinion. I have to agree that I see ACSians having great teamwork and I give credit to them, however, sorry but somehow think differently to them. I am not being proud to have a HDB flat or parents not driving. I want to state that being an ACSian, I felt different as most of my friends stay in condominiums and parents do drive. I am sorry you may disagree with me on this.

My parents not driving indeed has nothing to do with not liking acs. All I want to say in this statement is that not all acsians are rich. However, being rich is not the main problem. I think you can be rich, however, if you have a kind and humble heart, money does not matter. Yes, I have seen many ACSians showing the good way of being an ACSian, but I have seen many ACSians behaving badly outside school presmises. Sorry you may also disagree with me in this.

I did not take pride in these having a HDB flat and parent not driving, but my main point is to show that many people thinks that acs is a school for rich people, that's why I want to state that not everyone in the school is rich. I seriously have no intentions of showing off anything. I know you may think that I am being very humble and wants to show off, but I did not want to change the whole school by my humbleness. I think being an ACSian, we can show to the other people that we ACSians can behave well too! I wish I could stand together for the cause of acs, but I have a different view from my classmates. Sincere apology.

In conclusion, I did not want to show off my humbleness, having no intention to and surprised that you see it that way, well, I can;t blame you. Overall, speak out. It's ok to voice out opinions. People have opinions too. Don't feel uneasy. (I am not trying to show off my humbleness here, srsly)

To be honest with you, I felt really sad. I felt that I had seriously disgraced the school. I felt bad. I am sorry acs, I have a different view from you. I felt miserable, starting to feel that I don;t deserve the seat in this school. Thank you for your reprimanding, I felt utterly guilty that I thrashed the name of acs. Once again, sorry. I am crying now, hope you don;t mind. Thanks. My heart swelled, I really felt very sad. If you feel like expressing anything, go ahead. Voice out yourself. Be confident :) BE A TRUE ACSIAN!!!

Once again, sorry. I don;t want to show off any of my humbleness, if you think so when you read my apologies. I just want to say sorry from my painful heart :)
Goodluck to you ahead

Matthias Oh said...

I encourage to all ACSians that I am indeed impressed by your school spirit. (Not showing off any of my humbleness, srsly)

Matthias Oh said...

Sorry! Me myselt is an ACSian too :)

Chang Tou Liang said...

Matthias, pay no attention to these so-called ACSians who are too afraid to identify themselves and yet try to flame a fellow student. They are of no relevance to people who seek to improve themselves. Your school should be proud of you for reaching to be better, and I know that you will succeed in life, no matter what your family background may be.

As for the "ACSian", I shall retain his or her post just to illustrate how low some people can get. By attacking someone from his own family, "ACSian" is beneath contempt and will never up to the school motto of "The Best Is Yet To Be".

Chang Tou Liang said...

Many of my close friends (and some relatives) are ACSians, and they are good, honourable people whom I am proud to be associated with. They also came from an age where there was no differentiation between ACS(I), ACS(Barker), ACS(Int) or ACJC, just good plain old ACS, where "The Best Is Yet To Be". They lived up to that motto. I am not sure whether these values are still being espoused. Matthias Oh represents the best of these values. As for the others, I leave you to your own delusions.

brendonyik said...

Dr Chang, fancy insulting us for being under the school motto??!! U should reflect on attacking us without provocation?? We went to the concert with high hopes and joy but just bcos u think that we were 'very noisy', u wrote an article insulting us? I repeat, we did not provoke u but u provoked us?! Is this human or inhuman??? Not only for Dr Chang, but everyone whom reads this,**b4 it might get deleted** Matthias, gd job, u have shown me that your father and mother has taught u true values of walking with the Lord:)

Thomas Henderson said...

Dear Dr. Chang,

You are indeed right. Matthias is a courageous young boy who wants to stand up for his schoolmates and voices his opinions clearly. Some ACS students are indeed arrogant and snobbish.

However, I do not agree that the above post by ACSian was aimed at flaming a fellow student, but instead also voicing out his opinion. It would be ironical to flame a student when what he says is brotherly love.

All the points of what ACSian said was true. Firstly, defacing the crest and motto IS WRONG, not matter what some ACSians think. There would always be a minority that would differ from others in opinions. However, there are definitely other ways to encourage students in the school rather than altering the school motto! I must admit that Matthias is indeed an extremely bright and brave boy, but given his age, he does not understand the severity of defacing a motto.

From your speeches, you have been urging Matthias to continue voicing out his opinions, someone who just joined ACS(I) for less than half a year. I'm not saying his prejudices are wrong - but he has a lot to learn and grasp in the school. In doing so, you have reduced yourself, an accomplished adult with a great profession, to that of one trying to argue and urge schoolkids to fight amongst one another.

Chang Tou Liang said...

Nobody is encouraging schoolboys to fight one another. The posts just illustrate the different values that exist within students of the same school. Both Matthias and the unnamed ACSian are capable of standing up for themselves. But I know WHO I will vote for if either stood for election.

As I had stated earlier, if the question mark on "The Best Is Yet To Be" had offended some of you, then do accept my apology. I cannot help you if you cannot.

Matthias Oh said...

Thank you Mr Chang.

To all commenting here, esp the ACSians here, Im sort of "anti-acs", but my main purpose telling this is to make sure you guys don;t get the wrong idea of me. I know Im being shameful to acs to say this, srsly sorry and apologetic, but I just have to admit this. However, do not get affected by this. I repeat: do not get affected by this. I don't want you guys to get angry over this. Continue thinking that acsi is a good institution! That's good! To be honest I really thank my teachers for chasing homework, scolding me, etc just so that I can do well for my exams. I hope you ACSians will do well for your exams. Continue to stay happy! You guys did a great job in defending the school. I really hope you guys won't get affected by my statement. Frankly acsi really taught me good values. Acsi is a good institution, indeed :)
To all ACSians, as Im an ACSian, I want to encourage you guys (not because of showing of my humbleness):

Firstly, you guys have team spirit.

I hope you guys will do well in your exams as you guys are ACSians, to earn a seat here proves that you guys can do it.

I hope you guys (including myself) will continue to be a good ACSian and respect one another.

I wish you guys the best to your exams and be a true acsian. Continue to enjoy everyday of school! Education is a gift from God.

I am talking here not to show off anything, nor to boast about my humbleness, I just want to thank you ACSians and encourage you guys. I think you guys need some encouragement :) Good luck to your future! Afterall, THE BEST IS YET TO BE! Improve, and strive for the better. Show what we ACSians can do!

I hope there will be encouraging comments from now on, we can discuss about things, however, I don't want anybody to be pissed by this. I hope we can all encourage each other and have a better conversation. I hope to see no arguments :) We can always approach in a better way :) Overcome the evil with good.

All the things above has nothing to do with me boasting anything. I don't want to boeast about my humbleness, I don't want to be well-liked. Thank you. I srsly want to encourage you guys from my heart. Don't get affected by what I said in the beginning :)Good luck and all the way Gentlemen!

Chang Tou Liang said...

That's the spirit, Matthias. We can all be better people (including yours truly). Your humility has humbled me, and there is hope yet in all of us.

Matthias Oh said...

Sorry I forgot to add, thanks for contributing to Mr Chang's desire to help this post "Poets of Poland" hit the 1000 pageview mark! Let's have a better place :)

Thomas Henderson said...

Dear Dr. Chang,

I am well aware that this is the case. However, please consider Matthias' age and what he says. Judging by his time in the school alone, it is simply not enough to conclude some remarks of the school.

When you urged him to continue his opinions and not consider what others think, I can see that you are persuading him to continue on his statements.

He is not wrong to do so, but not so right either. Both ACSian and Matthias are students in the school, and because Matthias concluded that ACS(I) students are snobbish and arrogant, you have sided with him and have accused ACSian of flaming a fellow student.

I'm not trying to point fingers at who is right and who is wrong. However, as a third party, it seems pretty obvious to me that you have sought shelter from others' comments by a remark from another ACS student.

And @Matthias,

You do not have to apologize for what you said. I can see that as a young student you have what it takes trying to maintain peace by expressing your opinions. However, please exert extra discretion and caution in the future when concluding a prejudiced remark, especially when the subject here deals with this very topic.

@ ACSian,

I respect your reminder to another fellow student about values from the school. Please just be mindful about Matthias' age and not be too hard on him. He is, after all, a Secondary 1 student.

That's all I have to say as the a public member.

Chang Tou Liang said...

I'm going to bed now. So you guys keep on posting, and I'll read them in the morning. Only constructive posts will be retained. Do refrain from profane or intemperate language.

You probably might like to catch tomorrow's Life! section in The Straits Times. I believe several ACSians have written to the the Mailbag (ST only publishes the balanced and constructive ones).

Sleep well, and don't forget (those above 21 years old) to vote for the "Men in White". They're also into apologies too.

Chang Tou Liang said...

Thanks, Thomas Henderson, for being a peacemaker.

Matthias Oh said...

Dear Thomas,
Thank you. Yes, I admit Im a bit too young. I may change in future. I think most of the acsi people are snobbish, however, I have seen some good ones, they are really negotiable. I am aware of the acs tradition, I admit this: I don't really prefer the acs tradition, however, I compliment acsi for being such a great nurturing institution. Thank for that's all I will say I shall sleep now. Btw Mr Chang are you going to review in the papers again? Thanks

Chang Tou Liang said...

Matthias, The Straits Times is just doing a follow-up article on concert etiquette based on last week's review. I think it will be a balanced one. We'll all be part of Singapore music history now.

Matthias Oh said...

Are they going to do another follow-up? Sorry I don't work for the strait times

Chang Tou Liang said...

We've had enough lively debate for the day. Thank you for the lively comments, many of which are worth thinking about. Let this no longer be about a debate about schools and their merits. All schools endeavour to teach their students to be better people, and many succeed in doing so.

I've put the comments column on hold for the time being, because some anonymous and obviously cowardly fool called Crimson (a former ACSian AND Rafflesian with obviously the worst traits of BOTH institutions) cannot stop going on his so-called "crusade" to demonise me by posting his drivel.
His is the kind of "free speech" that won't persuade me in the least, but there have been others who have been civil, and they I have to thank.

See you all at the next concert!