Chia Ti Lik’s Blog

Just another WordPress.com weblog

The costs of maintaining an old bike – Blackie’s back into the Pet’s clinic – 3rd time in 3 weeks

When a bike has been badly maintained by its previous owner, the faults will show after awhile.

When a dog has been abused by its previous owner, it tends to be suspcious of good intentions and will only warm up after a long time. This was the case with Lorry my white dog but as it is I have decided to write about the black dog in this post. I will focus and do so.

Since the last episode, I have been taking my black dog out for spins on weekdays. This running around, reveals flaws and problems which are isolated and then corrected as and when they occur. To give encouragement to other riders facing temperamental bikes, I relate my following experience.  Within hours of correcting the carburettor fault, another appeared – the fuel gauge and rpm meter stopped working.

I did a quick ebay check and found replacements going for US$199/- excluding shipping. This would have meant another servicing in excess of S$300/-. This time round I hesitated to order the replacements and decided to let the mechanic look at it first.

Subsequent to the initial unsuccessful $190/- servicing, there was the effective S$450/- servicing [carburettor slide]. Another servicing of S$300/- within such a short period of time is just not making sense.

I crossed my fingers and got the old mechanic to examine the black dog based on my latest list of complaints. The verdict was as follows:

Aftermarket suspension brackets had to be removed. Headlight serviced. Chain to be adjusted. Wiring of light switches to be checked. Wiring of rpm meter and fuel gauge to be checked.

Thankfully, all that was completed effectively within 1 hour and the Total Cost of this exercise – S$8/-.

This was last week.

This morning, i finally discovered that there might be something wrong with blackie’s clutch plate. This might explain why it ran around somewhat like an old dog – alot of noise but not really getting anywhere. This time round, it is likely to be major work to be done and a premature oil change. When you got to do it, you have to do it.

The only complaint I have is that I hardly clocked 1500km on this oil change and my engine oil which is supposed to last 5000km.

I will also need to traverse 24km to limp back to the mechanic’s shop from my office. I hope to leapfrog the peak hour traffic and I hope the clutch plate will last the distance.

My friend had joked often that since i treated this bike as a pet, i better take good care of it failing which it might have to go to the Pet Cemetery. Indeed the black dog might have made it to the cemetery. But as the old movie goes, pets buried in the pet cemetery do come back alive – but in a different way. 🙂 🙂

With the servicing/repair costs hitting S$548/- and rising, with another major servicing to be done this evening, one might wonder what is the value of experience of getting an old bike on the cheap and restoring it to working condition?

To me, when that is done with loving care and at the same time discovering support and friendship – priceless. 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂

P.S. As it is there is already a new page that many may not have noticed. It appears as Pages From My Political Past. There is an urge in me to put this in a separate page to be titled – Tales of the Black Dog. Friends and Fans – let me know your views via the comments. 🙂

December 29, 2009 Posted by | Life | Leave a comment

All I want for Christmas…. and the New Year :)

“All i want for christmas is my two front teeth, my two front teeth, my two front teeth…”

What do i want for Christmas? 🙂

What i want for christmas is actually not my two front teeth. Unlike the way the song goes, I actually have my two front teeth perfectly formed and intact and I am perfectly able to say “merry christmas” to anyone… including the PAP. 🙂

However, I won’t know if some of them decide that they cannot take my picketing any longer and decide to send someone out to knock out my two front teeth or maybe run me down on the road. Then perhaps, when that happens, you will catch me singing the christmas song or playing the harp 🙂

To cut matters short, all i want for Christmas is actually closely linked to the 24 hour cooling off period which was touted by Lee Hsien Loong only recently.

And No. I am not asking for some 24 hour or 48 hour cooling period or what. What i want for Christmas is not actually for myself, it is actually for the PAP. If you wish to understand, please read on.

The announcement of the proposed 24 hour cooling off period by Lee Hsien Loong confirms a long series of PAP actions which prove beyond doubt the balllessness of their leadership … as well as their candidates … as well as their party members.

PM Lee Hsien Loong in asking for 24 hours of cooling off has finally topped off each PAP party member with a headgear confirming political impotence – the unmistaken identity of political eunuchs.

Why do i say so? Read on 🙂

Way back in the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s, the PAP used the Internal Security Act to carry out detentions without trial on political threats and opponents.

Since the 70’s, we have also seen the dismantling of the free press and institutions of democracy which include independent trade unions and enabling the bulk of everything that has the ability to mobilise the masses on issues and interests to come under centralised governmental control which basically translates into ruling party control.

Thus today, we have PAP ministers brazenly involved in trade unions in key positions and yet all other union members are disallowed involvement in opposition political parties. If they have any balls, will they be so unfair? 🙂

In the 70’s, the PAP pissed in its pants when university students got a little bit more vocal. Tan Wah Piow is convicted of a crime which he tells me that he did not commit. Tan Wah Piow then leaves the country for UK. I met Tan Wah Piow in UK in late 2008, I saw no conspiracist but merely an amiable and harmless old man who misses Singapore. He was persecuted for this student activism in university and was compelled to flee Singapore and take up solicitors’ work in London. Now he remains away from Singapore with greying hair and and longing to return to Singapore. The little respect I had for the PAP and its leadership sank further into the depths.

From the 1970s right up till 2000s, the PAP used defamation lawsuits on so many people whom i know: Seow Khee Leng, Joshua Benjamin Jeyaretnam, Tang Liang Hong (i have not met yet), Chee Soon Juan, Chee Siok Chin, the rest of SDP’s CEC.

In the 80’s, they also resorted to shameless namecalling used on Jufrie Mahmood communal politics, Tang Liang Hong Chinese Chauvinist, Francis Seow womaniser etc etc.

The 80’s also witnessed the PAP couch taboo words like partisan politics and dissuade people from being partisan. Why then bother to be called the PAP if you are not partisan? Why then villify others when you yourself belong to a political party – and a shameless and ballless one at that?

Yet such leeway was never evenly accorded when non-partisan people like Catherine Lim speak up and criticise gently. The PAP in its usual low grade style of politics by the then PM Goh Chok Tong challenged Catherine Lim to join opposition politics or shut up on criticising the PAP.

Now, it remains to be seen whether PM Goh chose to do so on his own accord or he was compelled to do so. This we can only know when there is another exercise of openness to come from the MIW in time to come.

In 2001, to plumb greater depths of shame, the PAP bastardised the English Language by making the leap to call Dr Chee Soon Juan’s verbal interrogation of Goh Chok Tong as “confrontational”.

Now now, we must understand that wayback in 1967, the word “Confrontation” [Konfrontasi] was used to describe the episode of hostile paratrooping of Indonesian Commandos into Malaysia and Singapore to cause mayhem by the way of armed insurgency, sabotage bombings and hostage taking. The 1st & 2nd Battalion Singapore Infantry Regiment had to engage in actual combat with the Indonesian Commandos in the Jungles of Malaya alongside with British, Australian, Malaysian troops and Gurkhas in that episode called “The Confrontation”.

Less than three cycles of the Lunar Almanac and 34 years later, the PAP ball shrinkage was such that by 2001,  a few questions of “where is the money?” becomes “confrontational” and unacceptable. This entire exercise demonstrates how Pitiful And Pathetic the PAP can go.

I am sure our slain warriors from the Singapore Infantry Regiment will curse the PAP from their graves when they realise that the PAP as a ruling party has gone from equating verbal questioning to lethal bullets and shells.

In 2000 – 2001, James Gomez founded Think Centre with some other activists and the PAP promptly Gazetted the organisation as a political organisation.

In one of my lesser confrontational moments in 2007 :), I also I attempted to form The Active Citizen [a society founded on principles echoing the speech of Lee Hsien Loong on forming a more active citizenry taking ownership of our country] instead of a political party.

However, to delay approval of the society, the Registry of Societies delayed their replies, relevant officers went on leave etc. When finally cornered into giving us an answer, the Registry began to put up unwarranted restrictions on the constitution of the society – many which are unheard of. There were placed pre-conditions of registry approval before a proposed amendment of our constitution can be put forth for consideration by our members.

What do you make out of such actions?

Would the following example make things clearer?

In 2003 or so after the SARS crisis, in response to growing public awareness of the incompetence of the PAP cabinet, the leadership shaking in its pants coins the term “collegial leadership” and in doing so, threw out of the window the concept of minsterial responsibility. In its place was this attitude of “you want to come for one of us, you be prepared to face the rest of us” . 🙂

Now since when have we witnessed such steadfast comradeship in arms by members of the cabinet? Standing shoulder to shoulder to display the stoic picture of unity and cohesiveness. Admirable is it not? 🙂

Admirable it was. 🙂 The only problem was that it reminded me of the dumb wilderbeasts in their attempt to stave off the lionnesses’ attack in the Serengeti [check out National Geographic HD channel for a good set piece display] when faced with wilderbeasts standing shoulder to shoulder, the lions cease their attack, the wilderbeasts think that the lions have given up. Night falls. Same set piece is played out. This time in the dark. The lions win. Lions – 1, Wilderbeasts – 0.

Its no wonder that wilderbeasts are also known as “clowns of the savannah”. 🙂

But are our ministers to be compared to dumb wilderbeasts? 🙂 But it was not i who compared them in this manner. It was the ministers themselves when they agreed to such a term of collegial leadership – they put the cap on their own heads.

A minister is expected to carry out his Ministerial duties and take his ministerial responsibility with the pride and courage expected as a man. It remains to be seen whether any one of them has the balls to do so. Because as it seems we already have overdue minsters in cabinet who ought to have resigned long ago.

Lim Hng Khiang for the SARS fiasco.

Teo Chee Hean, defence minister to take responsibility for SAF Ossifers sleeping on the watch of RSS Courageous / dunking drowning of 2SG Hu EnHuai.

Wong Kan Seng for our Mas Selamat Kastari escapade. The SPF/ISD failed to nab him. The Indonesians nabbed him and passed him over to Singapore. Singapore’s SPF/Gurkha Contingent/ISD jointly failed to keep him in Whitley Detention Centre. Whilst our SPF/GC/ISD strut their stuff like headless chickens on Singapore soil, MSK flees to Johor. The Johorean police nabs MSK and with wisdom, they refrain from returning him to Singapore. Wong Kan Seng did a great job in running our SPF/GC/ISD.

Lim Swee Say should have resigned for …. well… i hate to say it again … for crying like baby on nomination day on GE2006. Crying babies should be confined to PAP Community Foundation Kindergartens. They should not be allowed to run around at the nomination centres on nomination day. 🙂

Rear Admiral Lui Tuck Yew for not being able to take the heat of political criticisms, when even his subordindate Seng Han Thong has taken his baptism of fire in his stride. A Rear-Admiral who cannot face harsh speech and threatens citizens so, can we trust him to face bullets and shells from the enemy? I guess not. 🙂

In early 2009, facing with growing public awareness of a mismanaged country and mismanged national wealth, the PAP pleads with the people that they should not crave for an opposition too badly by pretending to promise that there will be a diversity of voices in parliament. In offering the “diversity” of voices, the PAP refers to 9 NMPs e.g. Viswa Sadisavan types who cower at MM’s enlightening corrections. NCMPs  e.g. Sylvia Lim and Steve Chia types.

It is pitiful that out of 75 men, they can only find 3 more who are willing to face the fire in SMCs. I can almost imagine the internal PAP meetings to decide who faces the single seat fire to degenerate to fistfights and tussles. I can almost imagine the chosen ones dragged kicking, screaming and crying towards being fielded in a SMC. I cannot forget the tears of Seetoh and Eric Low when then lost, they were together with Lim Swee Say’s tears a spectacle to remember 🙂

With PAP candidates behaving like this in public and the Minister in the Prime Minister’s office behaving like this in public in the Nomination Centre on Nomination Day, God knows what kind of bawling happens behind closed doors. 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂

How did Singapore end up with a ruling party that expects our citizens to take up arms to face enemies in combat for a god-forsaken foreigner-ridden island but yet be so ballless about facing fellow citizens in an election?

I looked high and low but i found not one single man from the 75 persons before me. Perhaps the appointment of Lim Hwee Hua to Minister status is a timely one because  the itself act is both an admission of women into cabinet as well as an admission that there are women in cabinet. 🙂 🙂

Looking back into history, I am sure that if Qin Shi Huang were to foresee the state of affairs, he would have instituted Red and Beige as regal colours and dressed his eunuchs in white. 🙂

When i first entered politics in 2004, I did express in the Young PAP forums that the PAP should not like they used to say in the army, behave like a guniang, don’t be a crybaby and be willing to fight one to one and man to man. However, the PAP candidates [Ministers included] are unwilling to do so and so huddle together in GRCs. In so doing, i also aptly named the GRCs as Guniang Representation Constituencies.

If the PAP wishes to dispute that their ministers are not Guniang, they should field all their ministers in single seats – all 31 of them. So that they can face willing opposition candidates and I for sure know that there will be no shortage of opponents for them 🙂

Perhaps in this day and age, instead of asking for cooling off period and what nots, the only right thing for the PAP-controlled Parliament to do is to legislate against crying in both in and around Nomination Centres on Nomination Day and correspondingly on Polling Centres and Counting Centres on Polling day itself.

In doing so, they could also very well take this opportunity to make things clear in the Bill for Amendment. This time round let there be no dispute, no ambiguity and no need to trouble the Attorney General to come up with some creative interpretation on the applicability of the exclusion zone of a radius of 200m outside the Nomination Centre to exclude the part which lies within the Nomination Centre itself. 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂

Thus on this 24th of December 2009, what do i wish for christmas?

This post was originally titled as “24 hour cooling off – the epitome of Balllessness”.

Due to the fact that this post was only released on today which is Christmas Eve. I renamed this article as “All i want for christmas”. 🙂

And finally… my Christmas wish is?  🙂

I wish that Santa would give the PAP a pair of balls. The kind that gets hung up on Christmas trees. 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂

December 28, 2009 Posted by | Politics | 1 Comment

I found my black dog :) and I shall call it blackie

Stumbling out of a series of ongoing personal cases, which seem to have no conclusion and which never seem to end, I was not a person to surrender and give up easily. I pushed on with life. An attempt to be a half-baked investor in a friend’s startup business turned me, as a matter of ad hoc expediency, into a stand-in bike delivery boy.

I found myself doing door to door delivery for this friend’s food start up business. This ordeal lasted a whole ten days and about a hundred deliveries i guess. It basically brought me to my knees. My body surrendered and I came down with flu (heh heh what’s new? :)) and after two weeks of being put out of action, I had to end my involvement and I arrived at some conclusions myself about many things.

The going on the roads over the ten days was so tough, my 3 year old Bajaj Pulsar just gave up and stalled on me on one night. The cause was overheating. I had run almost 160km that day. 4.5 continuous hours on the road. My arms hurt, my butt hurt and my ego wounded. The bike had failed me. I just sat down on the kerb by the road and faced my own thoughts.

Has anyone ever tasted what is it like to be a despatch rider at 36 years of age as a matter of choice? Similar to the kind McDonalds use to send food with a huge thermal bag on bike right to your doorstep. Was it something that i could not take or bring myself to do? I seriously had to answer that myself.

Running around East Coast GRC making food deliveries was something that no electorate would expect of their previous opposition candidate :).

Running around with my Bajaj and later my Shadow, i was always had a little fear about being recognised. One close friend and supporter had reservations when i told her what i was doing. She had remarked “Don’t you think that it is a little unbefitting your status? Somemore, it would look bad that the PAP gets wind of it and takes it up in the next General Election to slime you of being a deliveryboy.”

My answer to that was “Firstly, I cannot let three or more other friends’ venture fail simply because they did not have anyone to help them cover the vacuum, Secondly, i do not know when the next GE was. Thirdly, I might not be a candidate in the coming GE. Fourthly, people might not recognise me at all.” 🙂

Secretly, i was actually a pervert. Not the Tiger Woods kind though. But I actually wondered if indeed people would recognise me, in fact i relished the thought of being seen in that light. Perhaps to elaborate, being in the service line was nothing new to me. And no I was never a Singapore Airlines Flight Steward, though my ex-wife was a Singapore Airlines Flight Stewardess. I was actually a Bellhop at the Laguna National Golf & Country Club at the Club’s front desk sometime from 1996 till 1998 during the school holidays.

Getting unpleasant remarks for lateness in service and feeling the tempers of dissatisfied customers was nothing new to me. However, this was a little different when i became a lawyer. I realised that i seriously had no qualms about telling clients off if something they did or said did not agree with me. Rightfully so. This is because when you are dealing with the law, the application of rights, the question of morals and ethics was something that cannot be compromised.

That, however, was not the only reason. There was a thing called EGO that was lurking in the background. As a lawyer, you are accorded status. you are accorded respect. You have the right of audience before the Courts. This did something to many lawyers in Singapore. Not only was ego inflated, the sense of right and wrong was sometimes also blurred when pride gets in the way.

I had wanted the exercise of doing home deliveries to see if people recognised me. I think a couple of them did. I remembered making one extremely late delivery to Haig Road on one of the chaotic nights. The customers were rather peeved and irritated. In fact they had called to cancel the order jast as i reached the place. They had a party and some of their guests had left.

Imagine standing at the door, facing the gaze of disapproval from the many guests in the huge huge house. Dripping wet on your raincoat on the outside. Reekingly wet with sweat under your raincoat on the inside. The client had no reason to pay or oblige me. In fact was thinking to myself that i should just beat a quick retreat from the embarassing situation i had gotten myself into. Things changed very quickly though. Perhaps, it was the colour of my skin, my tone and surprisingly grammatically correct English that surprised them. Perhaps i was not the usual despatch rider. Perhaps i was recognised but the sweet thing was, the lady reached for her purse to gave me payment and accepted the delivery. Due to a breakage in the packaging, i gave her a discount.

Heading back to base, the bike stalled. I left it on the roadside and sat on the pavement waiting for it to cool down. Buses and cars whizzed past. The bike had failed me. and though it was pleasant to have been treated differently on one of the deliveries, i decided against risking another bike stalling that might delay some future delivery.

I managed to find someone interested in my bike. It was a swap situation, i was to swap my 3 year old Bajaj Pulsar for a 13-year old Yamaha XJR400R. I had to top up the other party abit and also i had to spend money to get the bike repaired. There was something not too right with its carburettor. The bike sounded like it was about to die and it spewed black smoke. The kind that would send the Inspection Officers under LTA into convulsions and fits. It was not fit to be on the road.

So in the midst of tending to my cases, i had to take some energy to find a friendly mechanic who would spend time to isolate the problem plaguing the famed bike. It spewed smoke whenever the throttle was turned up. When the first mechanic opened it up, darkened spark plugs came into view and he clucked his tongue “tsk tsk tsk tsk”.  The bike was then hospitalised for a week. At the end of the first week, the bike was discharged but the problem was not solved.

I was quoted S$800 for a complete carburettor replacement. Even then the parts were not available in Singapore.

A friend helped to make some enquiries with his mechanic and the word came was for me to send the bike there for a checkup. Now i had always wanted to avoid this mechanic. He was an old man. I did not avoid him because he was old. I avoided him because in one of my earlier bikescapades, i had come down with a pratricularly problematic but lovely bike. I got the bike cheap but as the repairs were chalking up, my friend had insisted that i go to his mechanic friend because he was sure that it would save me money.

However, when i reached there the first thing what my friend did was to extoll my political exploits – my contest in the last elections, my status as a lawyer [and interestingly I was on a cheap bike] and my penchant for repeatedly finding half-wrecked bikes to fix.

I remembered the old mechanic smile at me kindly and decline to charge me anything after that. Acting on my complaints, he adjusted the brake and clutch lines on my SR125, tested the engine and refused to charge me.

Now everyone wants to save money, but i was not used to taking advantage of people at all. I avoided the shop after that because I felt strange.

My friend dragged me back when he found out about my expensive adventure in a sick and smoking Yamaha XJR400R. I hesitated. I said i was not comfortable about people not charging me. I feel i would be making them prone to abuse by others if i were to condone the behaviour. As it turned out, i found out from my friend that this was really a friend friend thing not to charge because he had previously tutored the mechanic’s son for free for a number of years.

Therefore, the bike was brought there and left there. After the same parts were dismantled, the problem was finally isolated. In the carburettor, 3 out of 4 diaphragms were torn. The mechanic called the agent Hong Leong and was told that the parts were not available in the whole of Singapore. Thankfully my friend did not give up. He called up all the parts suppliers of Hong Leong. We found at one shop only 3 pieces of the diaphragm. These parts, plastic, metal and rubber bonded together to look like a mushroom cost a whopping $83 per piece before GST. Seeing the coincidence of the universe, that i had 3 diaphragms torn and needed replacement for 3, the entire Singapore had only 3 left. This was a sign that the parts were meant for me. This was also a sign that the bike was meant for me. I paid the shop and troubled my friend to bring it to the mechanic.

The parts were replaced in a day and on Friday i received a call that the bike was ready for collection. The repairs were done at a cost of S$100/-. Amazing! This was certainly better than the earlier mechanic who had to charge me S$190 for his efforts but had failed to rectify the problem.

Since Saturday morning, i have been taking the Yamaha XJR400 through the paces all over Singapore. Running my errands, clearing my mind. One thing i noticed however was that the Yamaha engine growls. It growls like a dog waiting to attack. Not sounding exactly fierce or ferocious as how one would describe an R1 or Hayabusa but somewhat meek and nice in a way. Like a timid dog pretending to be fierce before it feints an attack. Furthermore, it was also painted over in black in areas where it should not be black.

It reminded me so much of my beloved black dog – Blackie.

In short, that was how i scraped through another month of hell bungling with court proceedings, activism, my issues, emotions and problems (internal and external).

One might wonder why i someone like me, not perfect but very much flawed and human would have the luxury of troubling people to run my errands at times. People who openly express support and encouragement for the crazy things i do. People who would come all the way to my office to counsel me when i am too passive to seek help even though i needed it. He and another would be always listening and waiting to give advice on the side.

Friends who have repeatedly stated that they no qualms about volunteering to help me again when the next elections come. Friends who would drag their other friends and who would apply pressure on others to help me. The same friends whom i have not been diligent with in keeping up with. I have made mistakes but with them there is no judgment – only understanding. I myself wonder why as well.

The only possible answer can be found from another friend’s description of me “mistake prone, dogmatic, flawed reasoning, strange thinking, prone to firey tempers, impulsive, reckless, at times suicidal, but downright honest and genuine, someone who enjoys taking on bullies, someone who would not turn his back on a friend”. Which may be the very reason why my friends never turn their backs on me.

In the streets, avenues and expressways playing between Pasir Ris to Tanjong Rhu, I found a part of myself. I found  a deeper understanding of the dynamics surrounding friendship. I found a bike which i liked and which was destined for me and reminded me of my black dog that I have decided to call it Blackie.

This time round, on top of my renewed Honda Shadow 400,  i will keep this aged and growling Yamaha XJR400R. The 2 of them will keep me company on my journeys – they are so aptly named as my shadow and my black dog.

My critics and people who hate me will be proven wrong these days. When asked who is Chia Ti Lik, the answer used to be that I was concerned with only “I, me and myself” 🙂

These days the answer has morphed into “I, my Shadow and my Black Dog” 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂

December 14, 2009 Posted by | Life | Leave a comment