Got invited to the Straits Times forum writers’ dialogue, an yearly event, last night.
This year, they changed the registration to the other end of the auditorium building. So as I entered, I saw people eating buffet dinner and mingling with each other. Later on, I know why. It is because they pushed forward the dinner session this year, as opposed to previous years. So the group photo session during dinner time was gone. Hope it got resumed again next year. :-p
So I went to the other end for registration. Got my name tag and 2 free alive museum tickets. And also a goody bag as we left. 🙂
During dinner, I met Ms Ada Chan, a woman who sometimes replied to my forum letters. She is a nice young woman, very approachable. And we talked and hit off with each other well. She is a piano teacher. She said that she was invited to be featured in Writer of the Week last year, but then she declined after a discussion with her family.
Then the pioneer generation man next to me asked me weird question. Then we went inside to sit down. And when he learnt that I was not working, he was kind of pissed off, and started to informally scold me. But everybody got their own concerns and issues, so I did not explain to him much, just told him that it is health issues which the dr told me to stop working for now. Then he started to talk about we were born with bad enzymes. Then luckily, the event started. I did not really like this guy.
Oh, and it was another semi-retired guy who upon seeing my name tag, said that ah, he read a lot of my letters.
This year, we got longer question and answer session. I put my hand up for long. But as I was asking my question, the pioneer generation man sitting next to me was laughing. He probably thinks that my question was somehow childish. But at least it got answered.
Then there were other interesting suggestions during the session this year, ranging from people asking if Straits Times can expand their Forum pages to 3 to 4 pages, whether can have a paper just solely for Forum, whether can do on a weekly basis summary of news for young kids aged 6 and 7. Is the person serious? At this young age, can already know how to read newspapers?
Then got this old man who upon standing up, said umm, that is the problem of aging, as he forgot his question already.
This young man who said he has been writing since 1999, kept on asking why his reserved seating post is in their online version, rather than or print; and isn’t it contradictory to the Youth Forum similar article which is in print. Well, the Forum editor answered the guy, but he just won’t let him off the hook. Actually, he should just give a simple answer that it is because Youth Forum is always in print, full stop.
Then the session ended at 9 pm. But we were allowed to go up to the front, to ask questions to the Forum editor. Just like me, another man was puzzled why said his letter got considered for publication, but never make it to the newspaper or online. Then the forum editor said that it is because sometimes our issue has been answered subsequently.
And I managed to snap a photo with the Straits Times and forum editor.
And left the event at 9:30 p.m.
And yes, they did some statistics the day before: the mostly write in age group is from 40 to 59, the youngest writer is 11 years old; they got 120 letters each day, only got 10 to 15 published, basically about 10%; and of those who write, 70% are male and 30% are female, and they hope to see more females writing in this year.
A retired man suggested that the forum editor should do a counting of how many letters got replied by the government, in response to people who write in to the civil sector. And even volunteered that he can go to help the counting. What a great idea. Perhaps the man has got himself a new job.
And oh their most popular ranking was not based on the number of shares, twitters on top or like at the bottom, as it can be manipulated; rather it is based on how many letters the editor received in that day. So this kind of gives me some comfort.
Overall, the event ended on a good note. And I hope to be there again next year.