I am taking a small break in format from the usual longish column. This may become an irregular series, simply suggesting or pointing out 10 things which can help make life better.

Here goes.

These are simple 10 things we can just do which do not need a national conversation or dialogue.

  • Have more dialect speaking frontline staff – including nurses, Fairprice cashiers and bank tellers

We have been at it for decades. Dialects are part of what we are. We should not dettolise them as if they are germs which must be totally wiped.

  • Ask banks to place ATMS at more accessible places

Don’t tuck them in some remote corners of a huge shopping mall

  • Bring back more pasar malam

They liven up neighbourhoods. RCs should also take part.

  • Place city taxi stands at more – as well as more convenient – places

Just so that passengers do not have to walk through half the city to be picked up

  • Remind bus drivers to lower their vehicles to align with the levels of disembarkation points

Singapore’s population is ageing

  • Instruct bus captains to change gears more often for smoother and less jerky rides

Before someone takes a knock or fall and his or her family sue the bus company

  • Regulate the air cons in buses during rainy days; they tend to be at freezing point

Make it a standing instruction

  • Have supermarkets sell not only heavy family size packages of products but also easier-to-carry individual bottles or cans

Not much to ask

  • Have seniors-only checking out lanes in supermarkets

Especially during peak hours and days

  • Don’t force CPF members asking for latest statements to capture them on the smartphones, hardcopies are needed for certain agencies or reasons

CPF serves members – and not the other way round

Queen Elizabeth II and Mikhail Gorbachev: Two giants at historic turning point

We are witnessing a remarkable turning point in history – the almost simultaneous passing of two giant personalities who presided over the dissolution of the two largest empires the world had ever seen. The last Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev’s death on 30 August was followed quickly by that of Queen Elizabeth II of Britain on 8 September.

As I wrote last week, Singaporeans and ASEAN owed a lot to Gorbachev who oversaw the collapse of the already imploding third biggest empire in history (after the British and Mongol empires). With that, Vietnam which was being hitherto backed in its expansionist adventures by Moscow chose to join the ASEAN family in much more productive activities.

Queen Elizabeth’s death reminded us that Singapore has also been lucky because of what she represented and also why by a twist of fate, we would not have been part of the universe which has benefited this island and its people. There would have been no British colony, no concern about the passing of the queen, no being part of the Commonwealth of Nations and taking part in the Commonwealth Games.

Had Stamford Raffles chosen the Karimun islands instead of Singapore, we would probably be an ex-Dutch colony speaking Dutch and not joining the larger part of the world and 55 British colonies across the continents mourning her death. But we are a former British colony and are fortunate to be plugged into a world which speaks English as a default language for business and other purposes.

Singapore has been part of this world which has been and is rich in its offerings.

Tan Bah Bah, consulting editor of TheIndependent.Sg, is a former senior leader writer with The Straits Times. He was also managing editor of a magazine publishing company.