Chia Ti Lik’s Blog

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Learning about Life – the mistakes of dealing with mistakes

A friend of mine had asked me why i had become so reflective recently. I merely told him that it was a stage that i was going through.

Time and again it would be proper for all of us to take serious stock of what’s before us and evaluate for ourselves what we wish to do with our lives. Whether or not we are heading in the right direction. How we are dealing with the issues that arise before us.

Is it not natural to do so? For someone might have been thinking that he has been heading in the right direction only to find out that it is becoming clear that things are not turning out right. This is worse if one realises that he had been heading in the wrong direction and the cause of the situation was because of some mistakes made in the past which has only been understood recently.

As it natural for humans to err. It matters not how mistakes are made but the attitude one takes to the mistakes upon becoming aware. Often than not, repentance is greeted with love and welcome and instead recalcitrance begets an opposite response. However, that is not always true. Sometimes recalcitrance is rewarded and but realisation and repentance are used to nail the point home of past mistakes. Mistakes once realised and admitted becomes a point that used against you over and over again. It sort of reminds me of how the PAP tries to use the same mistake to assassinate an opponent’s character.

Very often, the longer a mistake takes to be discovered, the greater pain and regret a wrongdoer feels. Even though the victim would in fact have suffered greatly because of the prolonged wrong, he or she is the not only one suffering from the wrongdoing. The pain the wrongdoer feels is because of the regret for the damage done due to the delayed realisation and discovery which had allowed something to fester within the victim.

In response to another’s mistake, one can be righteous, self-righteous and overrighteous in the light of their righteousness. However, as it is, none of us are saints and would forever remain truly blameless. Even if we are, it will only be a matter of time before a mistake is made on our part. That is the time when the roles are reversed and ideally the forgiver’s actions beget forgiveness and the forgiven assume the role and take the step to forgive.

But there are times when a situation is such where even though a wrongdoer is waiting for forgiveness and the touchiness of the victim takes her towards conclusions and accusations which at times are hurting but not in all ways justified. Does one then choose to press the point? to show that it is possible for everyone to err? To raise the level of understanding of oneself and the other.

Beyond a certain limit of attempting to elucidate the issues and sort things out which often leads to choppy waters. There will come a time where one has to decide unload the weapons, to call off the expedition, sound the bosun and lower the colours. Let the wrong pass. Let the accusation go unrebutted. This i have come to understand to be a severe test of character.

In this life, i have always had a strong issue with being wrongly accused. That experience now led me onto this path.

The path of law, engagement with the law, and steps in opposition to the law will reach full blown. But these are the visible engagements of fighting injustice.

For the less visible engagements relating to justice, it is also murkier and far more difficult to distinguish who’s right and who’s wrong, what’s right and what’s wrong, how right and how wrong, and why right and why wrong.

Perhaps the time has come for me to understand how to let go. To learn to cease defending every issue, to stop fighting every cause, to learn how to let the incoming wrongs go pass.

It is truly correct to say that “To err is human, but to forgive is divine.” The very act of forgiving calls upon our divine qualities becomes even more difficult when one perceives that forgiveness may not be that forthcoming from others. But does it then stop one from trying to learn how to forgive others, when others have yet to forgive him?

I re-learnt one lesson which i had used to teach some other close friends the wisdom of dealing with life and relationships. Something which i had strangely forgotten given and despite of the advancement of years with the enrichment of experience. That is, when push comes to shove and when it all comes to pass, the murky waters of the criss-crossing intersections of rights and wrongs and the matrix of cause and effect on the situation at hand, there would only be one way to get out of the rut.

Practice the forgiveness first.

For to be able to forgive others, you would in essence be forgiving yourself. For that will remove the anger, pain and hurt that is gnawing at you and may untwine the complex issues which have locked things in the state and release you from the anger and the fear that comes your own wrong as well as another’s wrong.

What’s important is to learn the lessons from the mistakes of life and to move on forward. Clinging on to the past in the mind will inevitably lead to clinging on to the past in life. Clinging to a mistake will lead to even more mistakes being made.

One mistake many often make is becoming aware of someone else’s mistake and losing sight of their own. Not allowing the forgiveness the chance to grow. That itself would be the greatest mistake of all.


December 20, 2008 Posted by | Life | Leave a comment

What are you doing on New Year’s Eve? – Message from the Singapore Democratic Party

Subject: What are you doing on New Year’s Eve?

Dear all,

Every year on the eve of the New Year, we do a countdown with MediaCorp on Orchard Road and sing Auld Lang Syne with the President or the PAP Ministers. And every year nothing changes. Can the celebration be anymore meaningless?

This year, for the first time in Singapore’s history, an opposition party is organising a New Year’s Eve gathering. It’ll be at the Speakers’ Corner. While we want this to be a time of celebration, we also want it to be a moment of reflection of what went on this year and what’s in store the next.

Of course, 2008 cannot pass without remembering the passing away of a friend and loyal servant of this nation, the late Joshua Benjamin Jeyaretnam (JBJ). In the final minutes of the year, it would be appropriate to remember him and everything he has done for Singapore. More importantly, let us stand by his legacy and help make it grow. Speakers will pay tribute to the man and we will organise an “open-mic” for those who wish to remember him.

There will also New Year’s Wish Board where folks will be able to write and post their wishes and resolutions for 2009. We’ll sing freedom songs as well as songs of tribute to JBJ. We’ll do a countdown ourselves to 2009 and usher in the New Year our way. We’re also planning to do a candlelight display with the help of everyone present.

Party members and Friends of SDP will be serving a simple dinner of hot dogs and chips.

There’ll be plenty to do that evening and we hope that you will bring your family and friends to be with people who truly care about this nation and its future. Let us make this a truly memorable and meaningful evening.

So join us at Hong Lim Park start at 6 pm on 31 Dec 2008 all the way into the 2009. Tell everyone!

We’ll be announcing more details in the coming days.

Gandhi Ambalam
Singapore Democratic Party

December 17, 2008 Posted by | Politics | Leave a comment

Just Can’t Understand – JCU (James Cook University)

John Tan was a kangaroo shirter. He had worn a kangaroo shirt to Court on 26th and 27th May 2008.

Understandably the Honourable Attorney General took him, Rizal and Shafi’ie to task over the same.

However, a new player came into the picture. James Cook University.

The university took it upon itself to suspend John because he was involved in a court case.

The court case in question was that of the application for committal for contempt by the Attorney General.

The Just Cannot be Understood JCU chose to get itself involved.

Thereafter JCU came under fire even from its own homeland in Australia where freedom of speech and expression.

JCU’s Dr Dale Anderson was arguably in a very difficult situation when i visited him. At least this was what i found out.

I had approached JCU’s administration on 21st November 2008 to present a petition of signatures. i did so with Carl, Siok Chin, Vincent, Choon Hiong, Seelan, Kaixiong, and others.

Dr. Dale Anderson had reacted very badly to what he thought to be one of us taking a photo of him. He then quickly beat a retreat and claimed that he did not want to have anything to do with us.

The staff if JCU then asked me and the rest to leave. as we were about to leave, the staff of JCU then called us to say that Dr. Dale Anderson would now see only two of us and receive the petition in the audience.

Siok Chin and myself were chosen as representatives.

Siok Chin and I then met Dr. Dale Anderson in the presence of Manager James Tan. Dr. Anderson could not be understood. He accused me of lying to him. He accused me of being unethical. He was very much red-faced in the process. When he mentioned the word ethics, Siok Chin decided to engage him in a conversation. Dr. Dale Anderson got even more upset, he started raising his voice. He then snatched over the petition which we have been previously trying to get us to accept and he then got his manager to send us to the door.

We left then walking away from the administration building and to the entrance of the campus. Dr. Dale Anderson and James Tan followed. Some in the group ended up speaking to the pair. As to what eventually transpired, I do hope that it was sincere and cordial.

From that moment in time, JCU no longer meant merely James Cook University, to me it meant Just Can’t Understand. Just like the way Dr. Dale Anderson Just Couldn’t Understand that we were there to express support for John Tan and ask for his reinstatement and no other intent.

December 7, 2008 Posted by | Politics | Leave a comment

The lessons of air combat – Learnt finally

How often in life does one get a revelation?

Being ushered into the month of December which comes just after my birthday, brings me into contemplation for the new year ahead.

As it has been the case for the past few years, December usually is accompanied by a bout of flu and more, a time of forced rest. Of having to lie in bed a little more, and let go of the pressing matters which seem to never end.

I had a realisation of sorts. Something brewing for some time but which never came to boiling point. Now that it has come, i was struck by the commonality of it all. The same common pattern of behaviour that has governed my life.

In Astrology, they say that when we are born, or rather reborn, our souls returned back to earth passing through the space of stars. The stars’ positions map out our little idiosyncracies and then fixes our lessons destined to be learnt in the current life through a pattern of situations and reactions. These life lessons take place throughout our lives – they never stop until we learn them.

In fact, we might not even have completed our lessons well enough when we die. If the lessons were not learnt we come back to relearn the same lessons again, in a different time and place, in a different manner but with the necessary refinements to the syllabus to suit the day and age.

Throughout many of the past lives i probably had. I am convinced that i might have been a true blue fighter pilot at least once and obviously shot down due to a mistake and got “killed in action” or “missing in action”.

Since a very young age, i had been fascinated by planes. Especially military fighter planes. I stayed near Changi Airbase when i was a kid. My dad had taken a wrong turn once in trying to get us to the beach. The wrong turn brought me to the fence that was at a corner of an airbase – just meters from fighter aircraft.

I must have been 2 or 3 years old or even younger then but the feeling was as if i had come home. The kind of back-to-base feeling of familiarity.

The love for fighter aircraft was ignited after that. It became an obsession. The be all and end all.

I used to rush into open ground to catch a view of any fighter plane that was going to pass over. I became so adept at doing that could recognise even the growl of some of the different planes.

I also recall that my reward for doing well in school was being brought to the nov/dec book fairs to choose one or two illustrated books on combat aircraft which i would read over and over again over the holidays and whenever i had the spare time.

The desire to become a fighter pilot naturally arose. Though it was not pleasant all the time. I remember being ill once with a very high fever. I had woke up with a strange but surreal and vivid dream. I was very shaken and terrified. The dream put me in the cockpit of an aircraft, and i was desperately trying to evade an enemy missile that was homing up my tailpipe.

As you will expect, even now “Dogfights” on the History Channel HD brings my adrenaline to a rush and amazes me.

Life had its way of thwarting dreams. I grew up to be severely myopic. Probably from staring at the fighter planes in the books too closely. Nearing a thousand degrees for each eye, i was close to being blind. In fact i could not read beyond maybe 10cm from my eyes. Everything else beyond that distance fell into a mushy nebulous blur.

In those days, there was no surgery to correct short-sightedness. Surgery to correct myopia would take many more years to appear. I also had a fear of heights. Strange.

The dreams of becoming a pilot were shattered. Let alone a fighter pilot. [These days, kids with myopia have a second chance to become a pilot due to the availability of lasik to correct the defect.]

I ended up becoming a lawyer. I forgot the vision of the chase in the cockpit.

In the years that followed from childhood, there have been hurdles and trials and tribulations. Having survived them, i came to view that i have surmounted them successfully and wisely.

I did have my fair share of errors. Being left to play alone when young, I would focus and concentrate on a certain task. Ignoring almost everything else. This became a habit. Not willing to do many things simultaneously. Life however, forced me to do so.

The problem with my focus and concentration is that my vision becomes narrow and I start losing my peripheral vision. This was also the problem that I faced with myopia. My glasses were thick, so they had to be small to reduce the overall thickness and weight of the concave lens. As a result, i lost peripheral vision.

Losing peripheral vision made me clumsy. I have had my fair share of crashing into bookshelves and whatever that had my height, was unfortunate enough to be beside me, and when my mind was elsewhere.

I went for lasik almost two years back and the lasik surgery corrected all of that.

I had thought “Now my peripheral vision has finally been returned to me”.

Or was it? 🙂

I recall during my biking and driving lessons, I often failed to check the blind spot. Failing to check blind spots was a dangerous affair and it could very well have resulted in death on the road. I managed to correct this bad habit after a few close shaves after obtaining my licence.

I had recently found out that blind spots do not occur just on the road. They occur in real life.

When one is obsessed or fixated by something, one would not see danger approaching from the corners and edges of field of vision. What’s more if it is a blind spot.

In a dogfight, unless the pilot bothers to consciously take his eyes off the target at times to look the sides as well as his “six”, whatever danger that is not in the field of vision has the potential to do untold damage.

In a pair of warplanes, that would be a wingleader and a wingman. I have always been attracted to such a concept of responsibilities. That the wingman’s job is to ensure that the wingleader stays safe, that his “six” is clear of enemy fighters as he proceeds to hunt down the enemy.

Naturally, of course there are other tactics used in air combat, which include placing sets of planes miles apart one after another so that each set is in position to watch the “six” of the earlier set. This concept, however, sets out the very basic relationship between a wingleader and a wingman. An analogy most appropriate as many of us live with the benefit of the support of a partner.

In my life, I would be extremely irritated by people telling me “hey you missed this out”, “hey you missed that out” especially if it came from someone close. My reasoning was: If it was so obvious to you, you could have stepped in to cover my blind spot instead of letting me err then tell me thereafter when the mistake has been made and damage done.

This mentality was that of an arrogant wingleader, focused on doing the job but consistently dependent on his wingman to protect him from HIS errors. Errors in not checking the rear view mirrors. Not checking the blind spots. Not watching his “six” [rear].

The wingman may be in position to watch the wingleader’s six but inevitably he had to watch his own “six” as well as the wingman would not have a wingman.

At age 35, i recently realised that i was having my life lessons repeated. I was repeating them because i wasn’t learning from my experiences.

On my part, the intense desire to realise an objective singlemindedly is part of my character. Throwing all other considerations behind in doing so was also part of the deal. I realised that i tended to rely on people who are beside me to warn me of danger. And even when they warned, I might not be actually listening. 😦

This is where lies the problem. When you finally realise on hindsight what you should have never done which causes the most regret and pain. Because by the time you realise, the damage has been done.

It was clear in this life, i am getting shot at from my blind spot, my “six” countless times. This time round though the mistakes were made and discovered in one life [i.e. not fatal] they are no less painful.

I do not know how many times I have failed to check my blind spots in this life or other past lives.

I might have paid dearly and fatally repeatedly for not checking my blind spots.

I might have been given this life to re-learn the lesson in a less fatal setting.

As such, I would endeavour to learn the lesson as best i can.

I acknowledge that it is my responsibility to check my “six”.

Nevertheless I hope that if my wingman would continue to be patient and warn me.

The probability of getting hurt from avoidable mistakes would then be far less.

December 4, 2008 Posted by | Life | Leave a comment