Author: Chin Wee

Preview: How Sharper Than a Serpent’s Tooth: A King Lear Parody

Reading Time: 3 minutes

By Lee Chin Wee (14A01B)

What do Raffles alumni do in their free time after graduation?

Aside from two years of compulsory National Service for the guys, we end up getting involved in all sorts of activities: from studying till 2 am in the university library to fretting about getting the right internships so that Future You can pay rent and feed himself, post-JC life is just so fun.

When I’m not scraping together a living or curating my Instagram feed, I’m rehearsing for an independent production. It’s no Hamilton or Book of Mormon, but it promises to be great fun – it’s titled “How Sharper than a Serpent’s Tooth”, and is an irreverent parody of the Shakespearean classic, King Lear.

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Why There’s No Such Thing As “Not Feminist Enough”

Reading Time: 6 minutes

This article was written in response to an opinion-editorial by one of our members, which we published last week. You can read it here.

Cover photograph reproduced courtesy of the Huffington Post


By Michelle Lee (14A01B)

I’ll preface this opinion piece by saying that yes, I am a fervent feminist. I am that girl who spends her free time writing rebuttals to sexist RJ Confessions, who can’t watch a movie without asking herself whether it passes the Bechdel Test, who has interned with AWARE in the past. In short, the kind of ardent advocate for women’s rights who might be caricatured as being a bra-burning, man-hating, humorless lesbian.

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Goodbye 7-11, Hello Chill@RI

Reading Time: 3 minutes

By Lu Xin Yi (14S06B), Sushma Pai (14S03R) and Jayne Chan (14S03D)

Ever walked past the space 7-11 used to occupy and wondered what would be coming next? Well, most of you would have noticed the telltale sign board “Chill@RI”.


Chill@RI will be opening its new outlet on May 2 2014. Rapid renovation works and store cleaning are currently occurring at the space which used to house 7-11, to prepare for the new Chill@RI outlet. This new shop not only shares the same name as the minimart over at the Hong Leong Swimming Pool/RI boarding complex, but is also managed by the same couple, Aaron and Joanna. Aaron and Joanna have had plenty of experience serving RI (Year 1-4) students at the minimart but with the new shop at the heart of the Year 5-6 campus, they hope that they can reach out to the Year 5-6 students more. Interestingly, Aaron and Joanna also run a convenience store and a cafe at Hwa Chong Institution!

The sudden disappearance of 7-11 caused quite some buzz among students. When we interviewed Mr. Kevin Wong from Estate house, he shared with us 3 main reasons why 7-11 chose not to renew their lease. One was that their contract with the school ended last December. Coupled with “poor business” and a lack of manpower, the franchise finally decided to leave the school. Prior to 7-11’s departure, a SUBWAY outlet also withdrew from RI in 2012 due to similar reasons, leading to the school calling for an open tender – we even published an advertisement in the newspapers. Eventually, the panel selected Aaron and Joanna and granted them the license to open a store here.

Now, on to the much anticipated food items to be served in Chill@RI. Most of the foodstuff will be similar in price as well as range as the ones sold at RIB. There will be waffles and pastries to cater to those with a sweet tooth, ‘Healthier Choice’ products for the more health-conscious, and even shampoo and other toiletries for the boarders. The store will also stock items from the popular bakery Delifrance, such as cakes, donuts and muffins, all at a discounted price!

Aunty Joanna flipping through Delifrance pastry menu.
Aunty Joanna flipping through Delifrance pastry menu.

However, due to limited space and restrictions imposed by food licenses, the new minimart will not be able to serve made-on-the-spot waffles that have been a hit at Chill@RIB. Nevertheless, pre-made waffles and pastries will be served, along with other trademark minimart food items.

Quite a number of students are looking forward to the new store. “Finally I don’t have to walk all the way to the RI boarding side!” remarked Mahina Azeem of 14S03R. Indeed, opening the store at the Year 5-6 side has made the shop more accessible for Year 5-6 students who frequent the minimart.  Since the shop only closes around 7pm on weekdays some students have also mentioned that they can get themselves something to eat in the evening after the canteen closes.

The number of days to the opening of the store is not far away. As remedial lessons, competition periods and late night trainings ramp up, this convenience would surely come in useful. So start looking forward to Chill@RI Year 5-6 branch!

Shooting to Win: Of Guns and Grit

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Raffles Press would like to express our appreciation to Shooting, for giving us the opportunity to experience a day in the life of a competitive shooter. If you would like to have your CCA featured on our student newspaper, do drop us an email at

By Radiya Jamari (14A03B)

Tucked away in a quiet corner of the school campus, adjacent to the basketball court, lies the shooting range. I, along with a few friends, was recently given the opportunity to experience the training that our school’s shooters have to go through every week. Perhaps some of us have preconceived notions about the sport, and may question the physical intensity of the shooters’ training. Stand, aim, fire – what can be so difficult about standing still and using only a finger to pull the trigger, right? I assure you that there is more to shooting than meets the (bulls)eye.

Shooting is no child's play.
Shooting is no child’s play.

Shooting is categorised into two events: the air pistol and the air rifle. Both are fired, using pellets, from a distance of ten metres. The air pistol has to be controlled using only one hand, in a standing position perpendicular to the target. For better balance and stability, my air pistol mentor instructed me to put my free hand in my pocket. I asked her for a demonstration on how to hold and fire the air pistol – and it looked easy enough. So I got into position, composed myself, aligned my pistol to the target, and fired a shot. It missed the target. Looks can be deceiving: while my mentor had a good grip and control of the pistol because she had been trained, I, on the other hand, had great difficulty stabilising my hand. Being the inexperienced shooter and naturally clumsy person I was, my hands were trembling quite a fair bit due to the weight of the pistol. I believe many of us may underestimate the physical endurance and stamina it takes to simply stay put and control our actions. In a sense, shooting is a sport that is unique from others because it does not involve the same motor skills; however, it requires the same amount of physical strength and exertion, and even greater hand-eye coordination.

I ended up having to sit down and hold the pistol with both hands first, before eventually having the confidence and stability to stand and fire single-handedly. Next, I moved on to the air rifle. Naturally, due to its size and weight, it is handled using both hands. The standing position was trickier to get used to: feet apart, the base of the rifle resting on my left knuckle, and my left elbow resting on my hip, such that my left forearm, hip, and left leg would form a vertical frame to support the rifle. Sounds tough? In the Olympics, the male competitors have to fire 60 shots within 105 minutes; for females, 40 shots have to be fired within 75 minutes. I could barely maintain my position for two minutes.

Yet what struck me was how my air rifle mentor stressed the importance of relaxing myself and gaining composure before taking a shot (he even taught me a few breathing exercises). While physical strength was also necessary to carry and support the air rifle, what was even more essential was the mental strength it took to maintain that position, and to concentrate instead on the aim and accuracy of the shot. I believe this was the first time that I had taken part in a sport where I was not gasping for breath, but I was instead learning to control my breath to gain stability, composure, and focus.

Like any other sport, shooting also involves a risk of injury. Shooters wear specialised clothing and gear to improve stability and prevent chronic back injuries.
Like any other sport, shooting also involves a risk of injury. Shooters wear specialised clothing and gear to improve stability and prevent chronic back injuries.

Beyond the muscular strength and almost superhuman balance needed to be a shooter, what really struck me were the psychological demands of the sport. It was truly a game of marginal fractions and slim percentages – as much as I celebrated every successful shot, I grew to appreciate the unerringly mechanical precision required of competitive shooters.  While we are often confronted by tragic stories of mass shootings that seem to take place far too frequently, I think many of us forget that what matters is ultimately the will of the person behind the trigger. In the hands of a trained athlete, elegance comes from the barrel of a gun.

Exitus acta probat: Explaining No Shoes Day

Reading Time: 5 minutes
This letter was written by the Heartware 2014 Organizing Team in response to an opinion-editorial piece contributed by one of our readers. You can read the original piece (Acta Non Verba: One Day Without Shoes) here.
Kenya shoes

No Shoes Day is just around the corner (Thursday, 17 April).  An annual initiative by the Raffles Community Advocates, this event aims to raise awareness about the issue of poverty in developing nations. The act of taking off one’s shoes for a day has become a key feature of CA’s advocacy efforts, and will hopefully become a lasting tradition. However, we are aware that concerns have been raised about the usefulness of the project, and would like to take this opportunity to answer any questions or doubts that you may have.

A key concern raised in the recently posted article is that the influx of donated foreign-made shoes will destroy local cottage industries, causing local shoemakers to lose their jobs, resulting in the local community becoming over-dependent on foreign shoes. Based on our own research as well as discussions with our partner organization, the Tana River Life Foundation (TRLF), we are glad to share that the upcoming shoe donation drive will not threaten the livelihood of local communities.

Most importantly, the part of Africa the shoes are being sent to does not have a significant shoe-making industry. The shoes are going to the Tana River County, specifically the village of Isdowe. This village relies almost exclusively on agriculture, with the majority of villagers being farmers – it does not have a local cottage industry to make shoes. When villagers do buy shoes, the shoes are likely to come from larger manufacturing businesses located in larger cities in Kenya such as Mombasa and Nairobi. These manufacturing businesses, being much larger, are less threatened by donations of shoes. In particular, the limited number of shoes we donate every year (a few hundred) will not cripple local industries. Rather, the real problem is with large multi-national corporations, such as TOMS, which routinely and unscrupulously dump enormous numbers of shoes, along with a massive influx of cheap Chinese imports. This larger problem of Chinese imports will only be solved through economic policy, such as by the imposition of higher tariffs, or with World Trade Organization agreements. The number of shoes, as well as the breakdown of local industries, needs to be taken into context in examining this project; in particular, one needs to balance whether the shoes donated will do more harm or good. As elaborated upon below, the small number of shoes donated through the TRLF do significantly benefit local villagers.

Rather than simply introducing a free handout that encourages a dependency on foreign imports, the shoes serve to encourage entrepreneurship and create business in the local industry. The Mitumba project serves more as a microfinance scheme, providing capital for local entrepreneurs as well as providing the training and business skills they need to succeed. This is because, instead of just handing out the shoes, the shoes are sold to local villagers who pay $0.50 for each pair of shoes. They then receive entrepreneurship training, learning how to sell and market the shoes. The villagers, who then sell the shoes at $2.50 per pair, can then go on to use these skills to run businesses in the future. Without entrepreneurial skills, many local businesses in fact fail due to poor management. The TRLF views this as a way to help villagers in a sustainable way that respects their dignity and self-sufficiency. The payment for the shoes is treated much like a bank loan, which must be paid back; indeed, all beneficiaries last year had excellent credit discipline with no bad debts, and they submitted receipts to prove that the supplementary income was used to send their children to school. The 56 beneficiaries of the project were in fact women whose main profession is farming – without the skills provided them to run a business on the side, they would not have had enough additional money for education.

Moreover, the shoe donations to TRLF benefit the local community there in many long-term ways, going beyond the immediate donation of shoes. The Tana River Life Foundation has many other projects to benefit the local community, of which this project is only one. Out of the shoes donated, the shoes which are broken, old, or cannot be used, are first sold to the garang guni or sold in jumble sales in Singapore. Last year, sales made to the garang guni made S$1457, and the jumble sales raised S$5569. TRLF in fact places much more focus on this money raised as opposed to providing the villagers with shoes. Rather than this money simply being a handout, the Foundation invests this money in the local infrastructure, building schools, providing mobile libraries and improving classrooms, and rebuilding farms that were destroyed in floods. An example of how they improve local education would be by setting up the Delta Mustard Seed Academy, which educates 115 children of the Tana Delta river tribes. The entrepreneurship scheme is not only extended to the women who sell the shoes; training is also given to local youths to set up and run small businesses, learning trades such as mobile phone repairing. As the author of “Acta non verba” rightly pointed out, the correct way to help poor economies is through the introduction of capital, training, and infrastructure, which creates jobs and an independent economy. Most importantly, it gives the villagers dignity, and a way to break out of the cycle themselves.

No Shoes Day can indeed be seen as “slacktivism”, as it is true that taking off one’s shoes may just be a “feel good” gesture, that does not directly benefit the Kenyan locals. However, we hope that through this publicity gesture, we will generate greater meaningful debate about helping developing countries, and the ways in which one can help. Those participating can contribute by explaining the project and donating shoes. Hopefully, the participants will find it meaningful enough to be inspired to find more direct ways to help.

“What have I been taking for granted? What do I have to share?”

We hope that everyone who participates in No Shoes Day and in Heartware 2014 can better appreciate the little things we have around us.

We appreciate alternative viewpoints on this project, as well as on the wider event of Heartware 2014. Thank you for generating debate and giving us a chance to explain No Shoes Day, and we look forward to more discussion on the concerns raised. Excita acta probat: we hope that the outcomes of our work will speak for us.

For more information about the Mitumba Project please proceed to the following link:

Mr Gabriel Teo the founder of Tana River Life Foundation will be coming down to RI on Wednesday, 16th April 2014 (tomorrow) to give a talk about the foundation and what projects they are currently embarking on. Accompanying him will be three Kenyan youths. Please drop by LT6 (Block J)  from 2.30-3.30pm if you are free!