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Japan’s undersea quake is a little reminder to us to smell the flowers :)

News has it that a massive 8.9 undersea earthquake hit off northeastern Japan triggering a tsunami which hit the coastline causing widespread destruction.
People should realise the fragility of life from such events. The need to pull together. The need to be grateful. The need to bring good and help to each other and also to the other beings on this planet. Especially the people who are in the position to do so. And a little reminder to all of us common folk to take time out to smell the flowers. 🙂

For those whose time left on this world is little … though the end is nigh …. its still not to late to repent 🙂 🙂 🙂

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March 11, 2011 Posted by | Life, Politics | Leave a comment

Amidst the pandemonium and electoral horsetrading, this is a rushed tribute to SNSD – because 9th March is Kim TaeYeon’s Birthday

I am slacking to comment on politics because amidst the many fast changing circumstances post release of the electoral boundaries, I find myself wanting to write more about my interests than anything else.

Amidst tons of work and lots of stress, bliss came in the form of SNSD’s 1st Asia Tour Album. I had ordered it online the moment I got wind of its release. It came in the mail in the usual pretty pink colours of Girls’ Generation. Since then it has been permanently playing in my last remaining Naim CD player.

Of my recent obsessions, SNSD tops the list.  I had also wanted to write about the SNSD phenomenon for some time already. Now the reason why I rather write about 9 prancing girls more than current events is because there are lessons to be learnt from SNSD a.k.a. So Nyuh Shi Dae a.k.a. Girls’ Generation which comprises of 9 distinct members. As usual, this tribute starts with listing their names, they are: TaeYeon, Jessica, Tiffany, SeoHyun, Sunny, Yuri, HyoYeon, SooYoung and Yoona.

We seldom truly find celebrities who have the cut, talent, looks to do the things they do. Though for the case of SNSD, a large part of it is probably the combined result of talent, grooming and many years of hard training put into their act but then again how many with the potential have that kind of determination, grit, and faith to last that long?

I will track the girls’ time spent in training in another upcoming post but as it is, post debut, these girls currently rule the the asian entertainment scene. They will in time to come no doubt rule the global scene, bearing in mind that they are after almost 4 years in stardom after all still very young. This itself is very much an achievement on its own.

By simple comparison, even at our ages, many of us do not know what we want. Let alone at their age, the girls are already doing what they want and they are doing it excellently. Their success did not come overnight, for they had all taken a decision and a stand and started on a path many years before. Each of them had all trained for 4 – 7 painful years before debuting. In essence, at a very young age, they each knew what they wanted. Therefore, to put this tribute in its proper context, let us take a look at their ages (with compliments to Wikipedia):

Member List
Stage Name Birth Name Date of Birth and Age
Romanized Hangul Romanized Hangul
Taeyeon 태연 Kim Tae-Yeon 김태연 March 9, 1989 (1989-03-09) (age 21)
Jessica 제시카 Jessica Jung
Jung Soo-Yeon
정수연 April 18, 1989 (1989-04-18) (age 21)
Sunny 써니 Lee Soon-Kyu 이순규 May 15, 1989 (1989-05-15) (age 21)
Tiffany 티파니 Stephanie Hwang
Hwang Mi-Young
황미영 August 1, 1989 (1989-08-01) (age 21)
Hyoyeon 효연 Kim Hyo-Yeon 김효연 September 22, 1989 (1989-09-22) (age 21)
Yuri 유리 Kwon Yu-Ri 권유리 December 5, 1989 (1989-12-05) (age 21)
Sooyoung 수영 Choi Soo-Young 최수영 February 10, 1990 (1990-02-10) (age 21)
Yoona 윤아 Im Yoon-A 임윤아 May 30, 1990 (1990-05-30) (age 20)
Seohyun 서현 Seo Joo-Hyun 서주현 June 28, 1991 (1991-06-28) (age 19)

Since getting the Korean Search Portal Daum to create a screensaver in their honour, their latest accolade was for Intel obtaining their endorsement for Intel’s latest core processor. Their Visual Dreams [Intel Collaboration Song] is a smash hit. One should see their MV and live performances on the fancams. Even more recently, French fashion house Dior have also jumped onto the bandwagon to seek their endorsement.

The success of these 9 girls are due to more than just pretty faces. They represent direction, youthful drive, commitment to excellence, unity in diversity, amongst others. They also represent a society which has become conducive for people to reach for their dreams at a young age. Such that those with potential seek out the paths they are best suited, corporations are willing to invest in grooming talent for the future, commercial set ups which are enlightened and determined enough to produce excellence and success by putting the very best in the front and putting all the support and resources behind them.

In this day and age, where many things are depressing, thank goodness we have SNSD to brighten up the world. 🙂

They are the best examples of the exact opposite of a society reduced to living without drive, prevented from dreaming, living a life mired in fear, hypocrisy and mediocrity. 🙂 🙂

On this day, we have to give thanks to:

1. SM Entertainment for talent scouting and investing in the girls’ training. 🙂

2. Daum, Intel and Dior for these particular sponsorships. 🙂

3. The girls themselves for deciding to do what they want and embarking on it, then doing it happily and doing it well. 🙂

4. The Sones for the excellent Fancams – recording and editing. 🙂

5. Finally, God for SNSD. 🙂

This post was rushed out today because tomorrow the 9th of March is dorky kid leader Kim Tae Yeon’s birthday. She is the eldest of the 9 girls and she is currently … surprise, surprise … only 21. She will be the 1st of the girls to turn 22 tomorrow.

This blog proudly joins all the Sones in wishing “A very Happy 22nd Birthday to SNSD Leader Kim TaeYeon. May God’s blessings stay with you. May TaeYeon and SNSD have many more happy performances to come!”

And in the characteristic usual parting shot…. Chigumen… So Nyuh Shi Dae! [Right Now, it’s Girls’ Generation!] 🙂 🙂 🙂

March 8, 2011 Posted by | Life, So Nyuh Shi Dae - Girls' Generation | Leave a comment

The cost [cause] and effect of taking up positions :)

Previously, I gave up all my extremely exotic and capable Krell amplifiers, Onkyo and Sony CD players in my switch to Naim Electronics. I chose Naim because it made music and its designs suited my lifestyle. I declared Naim to be the world’s finest and I dived headlong into Naimophilia.

I have a 700-CD collection which I thought I would listen to till i grow old and with that I allowed my Naim obsession to get out of hand – ending up with a stable of 3 Naim CD Players, a myriad of Naim amplifiers, 2 pairs [at one stage i had 4 pairs] of Naim speakers amongst others. 🙂

Then something happened recently which led me to conclude that my dream system of Active Six-Pack Naim Nap135s into DBLs would never materialise, I then was forced to decide what to do with an electronic crossover and 6 amplifiers and other surplus equipment of varying value and purposes lying idle and gathering dust.

As the elections were drawing nearer, I toyed with the idea of selling my surplus and idle equipment for spare cash. I started first with my Naim CD Players. They were chosen to go first because I knew that they were sought after and were likely to find quick buyers. Indeed, the buyers came and went very quickly before i realised, i had committed to sell all my 3 players. I had kept my CD players without expecting to sell them. however, strangely when I had committed to sell them, I began to think of selling almost everything else.

This was because Naim equipment uses proprietary connectors and cables and I took positions when I acquired them. Things were markedly different when i decided to sell off my front end which was akin to cutting off the rose at the bud or taking one wheel out of a 2 wheel cart. Though I could have substituted a replacement, the situation would not have been ideal.

I then realised that when things are so intimately connected, any decision made would have a certain domino effect. As I take make changes with my equipment front end, the limitations of a new combination forces further consequential changes and I am forced to relinquishing of equipment and find a new position and balance. The positions and steps which i took earlier led me to have to take the current positions now. 🙂 Alot poorer in fact.

Interestingly, inasmuch as I thought I would have loved to hold on to my beloved equipment, I felt a certain liberation from being relieved of their ownership and possession. This itself also proves that taking positions itself is not a bad thing. 🙂 even though sometimes I may sound as if I am coerced to do so and losing money in the process  –  it is actually part of growth. 🙂

When we take a position in politics, it means that we take a stand. Doing so connotes the idea that you wish to communicate a message. This must not be confused with the idea of being principled [which is also good] with regards to one’s position, which stems more from having an ideological standpoint.

In short, taking a position is taking a stand as a matter of choice at a certain point of time irregardless of circumstances, conditions and beliefs.

Taking positions allows others to know my stand and whom I am supportive of. 🙂

There are two schools of thought here.

Some believe that fence-sitting in life and politics may be the way to go – of being here and also being there, of not being here and also not being there.

Some others believe that standpoints and positions cannot be compromised and therefore simply they choose to make their stand.

To the first group, the second group may seem opinionated but the latter’s position is clear and good because at least it helps others know where they stand.

The only drawback of taking positions will be that it forces your opponents to react, and from the reaction of your opponents, there would be consequences (which is neither good or bad) flowing from the position that one is taking.

Position taking also has a place in military jargon. Taking positions mean assuming tactical, strategic, logistical or geographical and even political positions. The concept of taking a position militarily connotes determination and will. Since young, I have always been drawn and inspired by the displays of military determination [as opposed to military strength] to take/hold a position the images conjured by the call to “dig in” and “fix bayonets” or “charge”. The steely determination conveyed by such jargon perfectly epitomises the concept of taking up positions.

Back to my own life, another reason for the disappearance of fixation on equipment is due to SNSD. For the benefit of the readers who did not follow my earlier posts, SNSD is the acronym for So Nyuh Shi Dae / Girls’ Generation. In my view, they are the best girl band to have ever walked the face of this earth. SNSD is also made up of nine members: TaeYeon, Jessica, Tiffany, SeoHyun, HyoYeon, Yuri, Sunny, SooYoung and Yoona.

My SNSD obsession started when i seriously simplified my life recently. Inherent in simplification is actually letting go. Letting go of many things allowed me to better appreciate life and things in life for what they are.

For the first time in many many years, SNSD allowed me to take my attention away from the details of the reproduction. I stopped wondering whether the kickdrum sounded real and whether the trumpet sounded natural. I simply found myself sitting down to enjoy the music.

It was also around this time that I also took another stand. I managed to conclude that the equipment should help you enjoy and not detract you from the music.

This occurred around the time of my birthday. It was also coincidental that during this time, tensions on the Korean Peninsula were raised. With the sinking of the corvette Cheonan still fresh in people’s minds, North Korean artillery shelled YeonPyeong Island in yet another unprovoked attack. South Korean artillery returned fire in an exchange that would likely go down in history to be the 3rd battle of YeonPyeong. [Anyone can Wiki the 1st and 2nd Battles of YeonPyeong]

From various reports, both military and civilians in South Korea seem united in their determination to have their government show a firmer response to the North. Retired / Veteran special forces personnel demonstrated asking for firmer action. The ROK’s generals have also expressed support for firm action. Public sentiment seems to be supportive of war with the North if required. It is clear that the South Korean people want their government to take a firm stand against North Korea.

South Korea was forced to take a stand in 1950. The Americans sided them and even went to war. I recall watching one movie depicting the lives of pilots in a USAF fighter Wing serving in Korea flying F-86 Sabres battling Soviet / North Korean Mig-15s over the skies of Korea in a tale of courage and sacrifice.

This time round, though the United States deployed CVN-73 USS George Washington for joint military drills with the South Korea, it remains to be seen whether the USA with all its internal problems would take a firm position in the possible impending Korean conflict or did it merely rattle its sabre.

South Korea, after completing the joint exercises with US, continued with its own military exercises and deployments to the front line. South Korean President Lee Myung Bak has warned of serious consequences for the North Koreans and that reunification is near. This hints of South Korea’s intention to go the war alone if need be.

Pundits differ on whether or not an all out war will break out on the Korean Peninsula. My evaluation is that an all out war started by the North is unlikely. I would even go to say that an all out war is unlikely but if it occurs would be started by the South [by massive retaliation for further provocations] and this would only happen when certain indications appear.

Firstly, North Korea’s intent in the unprovoked shelling is obviously intended to raise tensions and rhetoric aimed at propping up a collapsing regime in the run up to the Father to Son succession.

Secondly, North Korea does not have the ability to mount a full scale invasion across the DMZ. North Korea does not have potent air power. Unless a surprise attack is made via succesful tunneling under the demilitarized zone, North Korean infantry crossing the DMZ will be cut down like grass before a grass-cutter’s blade and if they do get to the South Korean side of the DMZ they have to face and overcome elite South Korean Border Guards, each a black belter in Taekwondo.

Thirdly, South Korea is peace loving and tends towards restraint and would certainly not be the one to fire the first shot.

Therefore, the scenario likely cause for war would be when the North, sensing the South’s reluctance to foot the heavy cost of human lives of an all out war, might choose to push its luck with further provocations. An all out war will only come when the South decides to punish the North in retaliation for such further provocations.

However, South Korea will not go to war as yet because certain elements which indicate galvanising of national resolve to fight are not apparent yet. This is because despite all the rhetoric there has not yet been any clear call for war.

To me, the clear sign for imminent war would be when SNSD’s concerts are cancelled [for no apparent reason whatsover as opposed to reasons like Tiffany’s ligament injury or Taiwan’s spat with Korea over the Taekwondo refereeing] and SNSD begins to make appearances in ROK’s military bases to cheer and encourage their servicemen.  🙂 If and when that happens, Kim Jong Il will have reason to be afraid, be very afraid. 🙂 🙂

In the event a Korean conflict breaks out. My stand is firmly for South Korea, ROK.

In my view, the South Koreans deserve a pat on the back and support for punching well above their weight as a nation, be it in sports, economically, technologically, socially, politically and culturally they have excelled against many other countries in stark contrast with the North simply on the very reason that theirs is a society that thrives because it is a democracy. AND Democracy did not come to South Koreans simply served on a platter, they as a society and a nation paid a price for it [An example was the Kwangju Uprising – wiki this].

Inasmuch as democracy should be sought despite the costs involved, democracy when achieved must be defended at all costs.

In fact, if I had any say, I would even despatch our F-15s to South Korea to see action if need be. Interestingly, this is also a politically correct position since our current ruling party is friendly with the North Koreans and I am in the opposition so I have to be friendly with the South. 🙂

Taking up clear positions is in line with being transparent and on top of being true to yourself. I will take positions when the situation calls for it irrespective of the costs and consequences of doing so as the satisfaction, growth and lessons learnt will in any event be priceless.

However, war mongering and belligerence aside, despite the positions I have communicated, I would venture to suggest a more intelligent way to break up North Korea.

North Korea despite its reclusion, has its cracks and weaknesses. A recent report revealed that North Korea has imprisoned more than a thousand of its own people for possessing or imitating South Korean pop culture.

South Korean pop culture is the fruit of a free society which is a by-product of a true democracy.

The actions of the Kim Jong Il regime in imprisoning their people for admiring the South betray their fears that South Korean pop culture is indeed an undesireable influence and a threat to their continued hold on power.

To break the Kim Jong Il regime from within, you need to bring democracy to North Korea.

To bring democracy to North Korea, you need to bring a thirst for democracy to the North Koreans.

To bring a thirst for democracy to North Koreans, the best weapon to do so is not with bullets and shells.

What the South needs to deliver to the North is to show to the North Koreans that their political and economic set up and their ruling party will never be able to facilitate or produce i.e. a culture worth being proud of.

If i were Lee Myung Bak, I would make the following orders for the counterstrike:

1. Request American assistance in the form of adequate Patriot Missile Defence Systems to be deployed;

2. Request American assistance in the form of a Tomahawk cruise missile strike package to be deployed;

3. Take out North Korean long range artillery, air power, air defences, nuclear facilities and sites in conjunction with several rounds of precision air strikes by Tomahawks, Stealth fighters and bombers;

4. Air drop Korean Pop culture [especially SNSD] vcds all over North Korea.

5. Beef up defences all around but Broadcast Korean Pop culture [especially SNSD] songs over to the North Korean border guards at the demilitarised zone. 🙂 🙂

How the North Koreans will react to the invasion by South Korean pop culture is anybody’s guess but what I am certain is that the delivery of a glimpse of what a free society may bring will precipitate very quickly the cause and effect of the actions of a regime that has closed off a society for decades with their warped ideas.

Seeding North Korea on such a scale would cost millions of dollars or billions of won. This, however, pales in comparison with the cost of human lives and infrastructure damage should an all out war occur. Therefore, the cost [cause] and effect of such a move will definitely be promising. 🙂 🙂

December 12, 2010 Posted by | audiophilia, Life, Politics, So Nyuh Shi Dae - Girls' Generation | Leave a comment

Socialist Front’s 1st Press Conference

The following is my maiden address as Secretary General, Socialist Front to the press on 29th October 2010 at 107 Rowell Road, Post Museum.

Ladies & Gentlemen, thank you for attending this morning. I am the Secretary-General of the Socialist Front. I will first address this conference on the objects and ideology of the party and our Chairman Mr. Ng Teck Siong will touch on the issues which are pertinent in the coming election, our treasurer Mr. Mansor Rahman will also say a few words.

The administration of Singapore is bound by its Constitution. The Parliament is part of government and owes its existence to the Constitution, it therefore has no authority to unilaterally disregard the Constitution or amend it without a referendum.

Article 4 of the Constitution states that the Constitution is the Supreme Law of the Republic of Singapore. Any laws passed by parliament which is contrary with the Constitution shall be null and void.

The Judiciary if it wants to be seen as independent must ensure that the Constitution is obeyed and upheld and it cannot adopt an attitude of nil supervision or non-interference with executive action or hide behind the argument of parliamentary supremacy in the powers of legislation.

When Singaporeans elect a party to majority in Parliament, it does not mean that they have relinquished all their rights to the ruling party. The supreme authority of running this country remains with Singaporeans. No one single person or entity should be allowed to control legislative and executive powers failing which further influence on the Judicial branch will be inevitable and the supposed guarantees of freedom and democracy will no longer exist.

Singaporeans must therefore resist any attempt to concentrate power with one party. Abuse of power will be likely if this is not prevented. Power must be divided to be checked so that citizens can be protected against abuse. This logic is also irrefutable.

Singapore has a long history of one party rule. The ruling party measures progress by economic prosperity. Singaporeans have to decide for themselves if their lives have changed for the better or worse over this period. Singapore’s economic development even if true must improve the lives of its citizens for it to have any real meaning to Singaporeans. The government must better the lives, further the aspirations and guarantee the freedom and well-being of Singaporeans.

Economic factors cannot be the only consideration of a government administering Singapore. We are a nation not a corporation. As a nation we cannot be obsessed with economic growth and expansion and neglect political and social progress otherwise problems will arise.

The current economic policies propagate indirect state control of the economy for profit and depresses the people’s wages and increases their cost of living. Singapore’s income gap has widened over the years and left unchecked will create an unstable society.

Every Singaporean will understand that with obligations of citizenship come rights of citizenship. Every Singaporean holding public office must understand that as there is recognition and reward for such office, there exists a duty to carry out your responsibilities, an obligation to serve the people and a calling for personal sacrifice owed to Singaporeans at large.

Singaporeans cannot be expected to contribute and sacrifice unilaterally, to bear the burden of citizenship and to have no slice of the rewards of a country well run. This is unfair and unreasonable – an administration continuing to ignore the rights of the people can only do more harm to itself than it thinks.

This is where the ruling party has brought us. Singaporeans will have to decide where they wish to go.

Objectives of the Socialist Front

  1. to further the fundamental rights and liberties of Singaporeans;
  2. to contest the Parliamentary Elections and establish a socialist government for the benefit of Singaporeans;
  3. to encourage ownership and active participation of Singaporeans in the affairs and politics of the country;
  4. to make Singapore a home for all Singaporeans based on the socialism model;
  5. to do all ancillary and related acts which espouse and promote the aforesaid objectives.

The Socialist Ideology

Socialism believes in setting economic and political policies for the good of the common people.

Socialism believes in the principle of “From each according to his ability, to each according to his contribution”.

Socialism believes in providing equal opportunities to all citizens to allow them to maximize their fullest potential. Socialism will further and not restrict the freedom and dreams of the common people.

A socialist government will put the basic welfare of Singapore citizens first before everything else.

A socialist government will take control of key industries within Singapore’s economy by nationalizing and running such industries and essential services for the benefit of the Singaporean people. The key industries and essential services that will be nationalized will include: defence and security, food and agriculture, utilities, transportation, hospitalization and medical services, education, land use and housing.

A socialist government shall strive to raise the quality of life of the average Singaporean.

A socialist government will restrain the unbridled greed of capitalism and prevent monopolization of industries by any party, individual or corporation for profit and ensure sustainable growth of the country.

A socialist government will regulate the economy and the essential industries by legislation and allow true competition to surface to control prices and excessive profiteering.

A socialist government will cut all unnecessary expenditure and wastage and remove all inefficient and unnecessary tax structures and regimes that impede economic growth.

A socialist government will restore the security of government officials and the civil service in line with the ideals of public service.

A socialist government will uplift all levels of society by making basic essentials available to all at affordable prices thereby reducing fear, materialism and greed amongst all and liberate the people to pursue their dreams.

A socialist government will free the Singaporean people to build charitable, social, religious, communal, and political power structures that develop leadership at all levels and sectors and deepen and strengthen the Singaporean Society.

A socialist government will liberate and empower Singaporeans to institutionalize democracy so that Singapore remains forever sovereign and free.

This is our promise to the people of Singapore.

The symbol of the Socialist Front – The Single Five-pointed Red Star

The meaning of the Five-Pointed Star

Each of the five points on the star refers to the ideals of:

  1. democracy
  2. equality
  3. peace
  4. progress
  5. justice

 The meaning of the colour red

 The colour red symbolizes the socialist ideology or socialism.

The meaning of the Single Star

The single-minded objective of the party to achieve the above through national unity

The meaning of the White Background

Purity, transparency, accountability, integrity, honesty, the rule of law

October 30, 2010 Posted by | Politics | Leave a comment

Honey, Chocolate, Cooky, Goobne Chicken, A-Solution

Honey, Chocolate, Cooky, Goobne Chicken, Naeng Myun, A – Solution?

I was getting too fat and so i put myself on diet. As i watched the calories, my thoughts wandered to fried chicken, chocolate, honey and cooky and naeng myun [cold korean buckwheat noodles]. As the diet was slow to take effect, i began to question whether I was depriving myself for nothing and whether the diet was A-Solution?

In life, we choose what we eat, who we befriend, the goals we seek, what path we set for ourselves. As always, consequences arise from the decisions that we make. The effects flowing therefrom neither immediately obvious nor necessarily good or bad but they are certainly there.

If I choose to have huge steak for dinner, i run the risk of clogging my arteries. If i choose to indulge myself with fried chicken, I run the risk of a bout of heatiness. If i choose to deny myself, i feel the pangs of hunger and lack. If i endure the hunger, i might get slimmer. I choose a fancy sportbike as transport, can i complain of sore back and wrists on a daily basis?

If i choose to cling on so tightly, my pain of loss will be so much more unbearable. 🙂 If i choose a less trodden and difficult path, it is inevitable that the journey will be lonely 🙂 but destination will be no less sweet :).

In short, our actions and decisions will also set off a reaction, however minute, to set the stage that eventually will come. And when we meet the stage that we set for ourselves, we should know where it came from.

Talking about stages, the stage was set by Sones for So Nyuh Shi Dae recently on 23rd October 2010.

23rd October 2010 was So Nyuh Shi Day – the day when So Nyuh Shi Dae (SNSD) [Girls’ Generation] came to Singapore.

The newspaper reports on 25th October 2010 were all aplomb with acknowledgement that the loudest cheers and applause went to So Nyuh Shi Dae. The reporters, however, might not have perceived the reasons for SNSD’s popularity correctly. Some wrote that the loud cheers were due to the short and dark blue sailorette outfit which emphasised the long slim legs and high heels. According to one, SNSD’s songs were of secondary importance and the girls even went off key.

This to me was not an accurate description of what had happened. My vicarious experience of the concert obtained from observing youtube uploads and conversations with eyewitnesses corroborate my belief that the girls performed impeccably and that overzealous fans who could not stop cheering completely drowned out Seo Hyun and Jessica’s voices when they tried to address the crowd.

Why that kind of popularity and adulation for 9 Korean Girls singing merely 4 songs in a foreign land? How can some 9 dancing girls become so popular?

To me, SNSD is the symbolic example of how a conducive environment and culture + potential + talent + hard training + proper planning = outstanding results. The SNSD story is in short inspirational.

The night of 23rd October 2010 saw me languishing at home when SNSD was at the Expo Singapore Hall 2 less than 3km away. I did not have any right to complain. I had chosen to not camp out overnight for a concert ticket and deservingly i had to be excluded. There was no chance i can get my SNSD poster or album autographed. As i had no cause for complaint as the plight was my own choosing, A – Solution was for me to indulge myself with Honey, Chocolate, Cooky, Chicken, Naeng Myun.

The good thing to come out of the indulgence is the inspiration for yet another blog posting

Contrary to what some might expect, Honey, Chocolate, Cooky, Chicken, and Naeng Myun referred to here are not food. These are in fact the titles / sponsors of SNSD songs.

Honey (a.k.a Perfect For You) is an early SNSD song released in 2007.
Chocolate Love is an SNSD song sponsored by Samsung and used to promote Samsung mobile phones.
Cooky is an SNSD song and a cover of Hey Mickey sponsored by LG and is used to promote LG Cyon phones.
Goobne Chicken is a Korean restaurant chain serving fried chix and had adopted SNSD as its mascot or should i say SNSD adopted Goobne Chicken as its restaurant. Either way it seems to some people that Goobne Chicken = SNSD.
Naeng Myun i think is a song sponsored by some noodle brand delivered extremely well by SNSD Jessica and Park Myung Soo.

A-Solution is a brand of cosmetics with endorsed by SNSD Taeyeon.

This is by far my 3rd tribute to SNSD and an upcoming blog post likely titled the “So Nyuh Shi Dae Phenomena” is in the works. If this goes on, i just might get inspired enough to write poetry once again. 🙂

October 27, 2010 Posted by | Life, So Nyuh Shi Dae - Girls' Generation | Leave a comment

What does 7 nights in Teochew Town do to a man?

As the saying goes in one peculiar song: “One night in Bangkok makes a hard man humble.”

Question: Now what does seven nights in Swatow, China do to an average Teochew Singaporean?

Answer: It changes his view of China.

That was what happened to me.

Swatow is the key county and city in the teochew area [Chaoshan district] of Guangzhou Province, People’s Republic of China. It is also where thearea’s only small airport is located.To get to Swatow, I had to take a flight to GuangZhou Baiyun Airport and a domestic transit flight to Swatow Airport.

The first thing i noticed about Swatow airport is that it is small. It is also not only small, it also shares the runways with a small People’s Liberation Air Force airbase. The military planes i saw were clearly fighter aircraft with camouflage markings and there were also hardened and camouflaged bunkers for the planes.

Before i accepted a client/friend’s invitation to visit Swatow China, i had thought that Swatow was some idyllic village with an emphasis on either cycling, simple agriculture and fishfarming or fishing. I had thought so because i myself grew up in a Kampong in Changi, Singapore and a bicycle shop in Joo Chiat, i had found out that my ideas of where my ancestors came from were very much influenced by the imagination fuelled by childhood memories.

Before i left for China, another friend warned me that China was mighty busy busy and that there would be people everywhere and that the place would be very crowded, i would be more tired out by the jostling with the crowded than i was jostling with the crowd in Singapore.

However, when i reached Chaoshan [ChaoZhou plus Shantou(Swatow) and others], what struck me was that Swatow is not actually crowded. Each of the counties might have a population much bigger than Singapore’s but it is certainly not as crowded as Singapore.

Chaoshan has a road traffic system that is nothing short of unnerving for the obedient Singaporean. Over here there are no traffic rules it seems, when you approach a junction, everyone just starts turning or going the way they want, nobody acutally stops. The key is that you just have to not go too fast and everythingwould sort itself out by way of your reflexes and control and the other road users’ reflexes and control.

The bulk of ChaoShan’s vehicle population is a curious mishmesh of old Suzuki bikes and Honda scooters and copies of the same, most are well-worn and dusty but there is certainly no doubt that they serve theirmasters and their purposes well. The riders do not wear any helmets. They very often carry more than two persons per bike. I have seen toddlers in sandwiched between their riding parent and the handlebar. I have seen bikes carry up to 3 adults or 5 children at one go.

There are also numerous modified vehicles adapted for further transportaton, and bulk freight use. Large numbers of bikes and scooters and modified bikes and tractors. You have to see the contraptions to appreciate the ingenuinity of the people who modified them.

I have eaten a plate of dumplings for RMB5 [In Singapore something like that would have cost SGD5/-], A soup for RMB6. I am also being pampered by my client in being brought to various restaurants and treated to all sorts of teochew delights. I have been personally responsible for the deaths of several fish, frogs and fowl which were slaughtered simply because I agreed to step inside some restaurant.

The people are friendly, hospitable and unselfish and simple folk who go about their daily chores. No one harasses or accosts you on the street simply because you are not a local. One of my bosses’ employees took me out for breakfast on a scooter yes without helmets. at the roadside stalls, parking is free, the police do not bother about where you park. There are no traffic wardens. I get the impression that people are generally poor. Average worker takes home about RMB1000 per month or less but that is enough to cover their living expenses. Though the impression is that the place is thoroughly 3rd world and the people are generally poor, they do not seem to be unhappy,  in need or destitute unlike some people in Singapore. I saw not a single beggar or homeless person in my trip here so far.

I am brought out on many day trips about the various counties and i made a trip to a part of Tenghai which could have been my ancestral hometown if identified correctly. Therefore other than getting fat from all the good food in Chaoshan, I also receive daily lessons on the use of Chanshan language or teochew dialect. I have learnt several things which i can bring home.

ChaoShan is a huge district many times of Singapore. People can buy a new scooter for several thousand RMB. Choose from the list of availablelicence plate numbers without any extra cost. The people do not seem to be taxed much or the place seem overcrowded and everything seems to work.

The title of this post is actually incorrect. I slotted to spend 8 nights in Chaoshan. So far its just the 5th night, and i am getting impressed.

October 8, 2010 Posted by | Life | Leave a comment

The perpetual human dilemma of having dual roles, double standards and cluttered motives… :)

The reason for my long absence is that I have been fighting tooth and nail to keep up with the work that has been piling up on my table. As I write this I can’t help but be reminded about this  joke about the successful lawyer who owns expensive watches but has little time as compared to the simple man owns no watches but has lots of time.

Now why is it that I have neither expensive watches nor the time???? 🙂

On a separate front, I have also been fighting and losing repeated Battles of the Bulge. My heavy workload mandated I get my morale and energy fixes. Therefore I brought war against the chix, devoured them time and time again. Herbal Chix, Fried Chix, BBQ Chix. After each battle, interestingly, the waistline gets a little thicker and the pants tighter.

At this point, I can’t help being reminded of another joke where someone approaches a grave and finds engraved on the tombstone “Here lies a lawyer and a good man.” The joke goes on to have the man question how did they ever put two people into one grave. The connotation often understood is that a lawyer cannot be a good man.

This I would beg to differ, though I think the question is valid, the actual reasons are different.

My explanation – Most lawyers are fat or sooner or later will get fat. With one dead and fat lawyer inside a grave it is simply just impossible to fit in another man. 🙂

There is of course a whole other set of  jokes about the people who will never make it to heaven: The politicians and the lawyers. Now what happens when you are both a lawyer and a politician…. ???? Where does that leave me?

Even though I am a lawyer, a budding politician and a moderately fat man, I have for all intents and purposes, always tried to be a good man.  Though sometimes I fail…. intentionally…  I almost always mean no harm… the tongue-in-cheek twist though, I must admit, has almost always been intentional. 🙂

A childhood friend’s dad recently passed on. I was saddened by the passing as it brought the fact of human fraility and mortality home once again. However, life just has to go on. Much time has flown by and I am already 36. Has anyone kept track of how much time each of us might have left on this earth?

Like it or not, we have to face whatever is thrown at us. How much better would it be for us to strive to face adversities cheerfully and also enjoy the process. For in death, there is nothing more to feel, nothing more to worry, nothing more to face, and nothing more to fear.

How much better then would it be for us to bring happiness, laughter and cheer to all who are around you and maybe beyond and when doing so press home a point that needs to be pressed. To me at least, that would be, in the words of the MasterCard advertisement, – “priceless”.

With that in mind, I deliberated on my attempts to be a good man (by my own admittedly flawed standards) whether i should continually pass unkind remarks towards members of the ruling party a.k.a PAP.

I counted 4 opportunities recently: Yacoob Ibrahim – Environment Minister (flooding), Vivian BalaKrishnan – MCYS (YOG Budget Overrun), Khaw Boon Wan Health (Means-Testing) who just underwent heart bypass surgery and my favourite minister …. ahem… Zorro Lim …. or should i say Lim Swee Say (Minister w/o portfolio and in the Prime Minister’s Office).

[To digress abit into public education] Now the problem that lies herein is this:

When people volunteer for, seek election to and thereafter hold public office, they are no longer their own man. They owe a duty to the public at large when they carry out their duties. They ought to expect to be FRIED when they don’t carry out their duties AND when they do carry out their duties they should expect criticisms from the public. (It does not mean that if you choose to put on some zorro suit and give out roses, the public owes it to you to give you roses in return) They should instead expect to receive brickbats and take it in their stride. [Haven’t you heard that life is not a bed of roses? In any event, even roses have thorns :)]

People in public office should therefore expect to be treated more robustly and not expect to be handled with kid gloves, for you are after all supposedly the best that we have 🙂 … or should i say the best the world has ever had…. the brightest and the most promising… the most reliable and of course …ahem…. the most selfless [how come i hear giggles?].

So therefore each of you ought to take the heat that comes with public office which sometimes may include some references to heat, pressure, the action and process of producing heat –  which we call in chemistry as – combustion .

This is also why phrases like “the baptism of fire” are coined even though John the Baptist had actually baptised using water….

You should also never hide or cower behind rules or allow subordinates and ball-carriers to create the impression that you are cowering in fear. Such behaviour does not exactly gel with your claims that you enjoy the support of the populace and that you yourself sincerely believe that you are doing good for the country. 🙂

And so I reasoned to myself that Lim is after all trying very hard to gain some acceptance. [Now i rather you catch me dead before i would even put on a Zorro suit, cape and all and giving roses to ladies.] And that what he did was something which i cannot, will not and dare not do, I would hence hold my peace. If there is anything to be done, the Prime Minister himself ought to award his minister in his Prime Minister’s Office a medal – for courage. 🙂

Khaw is unfortunately not in good health. My code [rules of combat in the Taekwondo arena] does not allow me to strike a fallen opponent even though you may be in competition and you have him in range and in sight.

And so I held back on my comments on Khaw Boon Wan and my favourite minister Lim Swee Say. I managed to restrain myself. I relinquished the opportunity to taste that priceless feeling, that feeling on cloud nine, that top of the world sensation.

This was so despite the fact that I had to pay S$1,400 in fines recently for what was levied against me and another for being part of an assembly of probably 20 persons who had gathered to celebrate National Day 2008 in Toa Payoh Central.

I accepted my lot and came to terms with being S$1,400 poorer. To keep spare cash handy, I made a painful decision to sell my blood red VFR800fi interceptor.

At about the same time, news had it that So Nyuh Shi Dae (SNSD) was coming to Singapore for some K-Pop Night Concert with 5 other Korean bands. I had hoped that this money would now come in handy.

But guess what happened, even before i could do anything nearly 2000 fans had turned out to queue for the limited tickets the night before. [I repeat the night before] The size of the crowd scared the shit out of the authorities and the organisers that the ticket selling date had to be cancelled and queue numbers were issued to the people who turned up to disperse them. The crowd must have been amazing.

Kudos to all the SNSD fans for turning up in strength in full support. Kudos to SM Entertainment for training the girls so well in what they do. Kudos to the girls themselves for being as they are: TaeYeon, Jessica, Tiffany, SeoHyun, Sunny, SooYoung, Yuri, HyoYeon and last but not least Yoona. 🙂

They [SNSD] afterall gave my fellow Singaporeans a reason to assemble 🙂 and assemble they did 🙂

I have to shamefully admit that i wasn’t present at this assembly. 🙂

But no one should expect me to be there because I am, after all, the Secretary-General of the newly formed Socialist Front. I cannot be caught oogling at a bunch of girls who have just barely reached adulthood. Like they say, what’s done in private, people can’t see and don’t care, but what’s done in public is in full public view. Furthermore, the last thing I need now is to be summoned as Secretary-General of the Socialist Front before a Disciplinary Committee of the Socialist Front. 🙂

Besides, my presence could have endangered others 🙂 thank goodness, my fellow SNSD fans were untouched, none of them were prosecuted for being part of an assembly which obviously did not have a permit… or maybe i should say tactfully… that a permit was not required. [Even as i am typing this, I found myself nodding in agreement :)]

Therefore, it is clear that in this situation, even if i, Chia Ti Lik, had held the reins of government, i would also say “For SNSD…. if it is SNSD…. a permit is not required.” Even if that would amount to an admission that there were double standards in place 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂

Some friend pointed out that i crack corny jokes which are hopelessly out of place when I am stressed. That might be true. But if my intent is to entertain the readers of this blog with something humourous, lighthearted yet uplifting and with educational value – that would uplift my soul. The feeling would be [as described hereinabove] – priceless.

After a 3 month hiatus from blogging, I could have given in to my compulsions turned this entire post into an all out critique on the competency of the PAP but i did not. In fact, I consciously gave this post a softer touch.

Now trust me, i have been holding back…. on our dismal showing on the YOG, on the quality of food in the YOG, on the YOG budget overrun, the means-testing retribution, on the repeated floodings in Downtown Singapore, Zorro Suit etc.

But let me forewarn all, should anything untoward happen (traffic jam, poor crowd control, flooding, blackout of whatever) that would derail the K-Pop Night Concert for fellow SNSD fans, and if i am able to point a finger at any member of the cabinet that can be held responsible, then i would not hold back my brickbats anymore. 🙂

So here i am, interceptor-less, tired, hungry, bogged down by personal actions, hands full with obligations owed to clients, not having the time, energy or gall to support my favourite girl band in person but I am playing part-time comedian to others on my blog.

It did occur to me – Whether any of all this brings me closer to heaven or further away from hell or what? 🙂

I was rewarded very quickly. Last night i had a dream. 🙂

I dreamt that I was surrounded and fawned upon by 9 girls. The girls were so pretty, they even looked like SNSD. 🙂 🙂 🙂

September 9, 2010 Posted by | Life, Politics, So Nyuh Shi Dae - Girls' Generation | Leave a comment

Gee Gee Gee Gee….. Baby Baby, Baby Baby

Once in a while, something new comes and bowls you over, changes your perspective, makes you inquisitive, makes you display the innocent enthusiasm of a child, and Oh! you just can’t get enough. It just happened again three weeks ago.

When i was small, i had my fair share of likes and wants. Cadbury Milky Bar Chocolate was one, I Love the way it stuck to my fingers.  The other i recall had a Honeycomb under the chocolate layer. I also liked music as a child. I remembered dad had a telefunken stereo and turntable system in the old home. Ironically, I am not muscially talented at or even possessing of any aptitude. In fact i have none and this enables me to better appreciate those who can and admire their talents and abilities.

In secondary school, the UK Top 20 and the American Top 40 Charts held my attention. I was a lucky kid, my parents bought me a Baby Baby Aiwa hifi stack system. The set had an optional CD player which of course i searched out and purchased it. I became the envy of my classmates. Gee.. they thought i was really well off but I merely spent my pocket money in a very focused manner. 🙂

In university, i missed hearing mandarin from all my friends, my mandarin was weak but I ended up listening to mandarin pop – the mandarin music industry is prolific and thats when my CD collection grew. When i started work, my taste changed to jazz and bossa nova. The prices of CDs slipped Ooh La-La! due to widespread acceptance and use leading to lower costs of production to S$20 and then S$18 and so on thereafter as new technologies like DVD-A, SACD came into the market.

In the early 2000s, MP3 began to displace the 16bit data CD, and the Apple’s ipod phenomena / mania coupled with no time to follow the radio, no time to browse CD shops caused my CD collection stagnate. In a moment of weakness, I turned to the dark side and succumbed to the lure of the ipod. After finally uploading my 600 cds into itunes, i was content not to look any further as somehow my taste morphed. Pop music no longer appealed to me.

A friend brought me to Nana a year and a half ago, a Thai disco where i heard a cover of the Wonder Girls’ Nobody. Blurly and innocently, I had thought it was some Thai song. Soon after that i realised that it was a Korean girl band. Nice co-ordinated dancing and nice moves. I thought… it was time that Korean pop has arrived. Yeah Tell me about it … even Singtel has gotten them to be part of their advertisement campaign. 🙂

3 weeks back, I was shown an internet youtube clip of So Nyuh Shi Dae – Girls’ Generation or SNSD for short. Music Video after music video, live performance after life performance, I was Soshified.

Getting Soshified was new. Getting Koreanised was nothing new. I spent 13 years in the Korean martial art of Taekwondo. I started at the late age of 16. I had previously thought the greatest Korean culture exported was Taekwondo. For a moment i thought it was ice-skating sensation Yuna Kim, now i think its SNSD.

I never expected to be awed by 9 prancing girls aging from 19 to 21 but clearly these 9 are not ordinary girls. They each have their own talents for dancing, singing and flirting with the camera [simultaneously].

TaeYeon is cute and adorable and can really sing. Slim and sexy Yoona can dance very well and is extremely captivating on film. Jessica sings with soul and reckless abandon. Tiffany has lovely puppy dog eyes which call out to you. SooYoung moves with …. well you should see her in action to know…

And so i decided pay tribute to the best girl band ever to have walked on the face of this earth. Over the last few weeks, I had planned to write this blogpost despite my hectic schedule but music producer Yoo Young Jin beat me to it with a lovely song paying tribute to SNSD.

The best part of the song is the chorus which goes something like this ….  TaeYeon, Jessica, Tiffany, SeoHyun…

I realised that my plasma TV is an LG, its Korean.

On some mornings, i have also noticed that the instant noodles appearing on the table are Korean in origin.

Of late, I have begun to taste the finer nuances of Korean Cuisine, Sangyetang at the Korean restaurant near my office seems not so bland afterall with each try.

I am also now thinking of trying some Korean fried chix.

Amongst the vocalists SeoHyun, Tiffany, Jessica and TaeYeon, I enjoy TaeYeon’s singing most followed by Jessica but in this age of global warming, having a music video on the plasma HD and Naim system on non-stop repeat for hours on a sunday afternoon is not quite right.

Like an average Singaporean, I do enjoy a good drama serial now and then and Yoona’s performances are extremely engaging but two weeks of consecutive late nights of watching Yoona and getting up late was also getting too much.

I go to sleep with my ipod playing the songs in the SNSD album folder, often enjoying Taeyeon’s singing the most. Yet strangely, I sometimes wake up with TaeYeon’s plaintive rendition of ” Can you hear me? ” playing in my mind.

I have never been the least interested in languages but i found myself trying to decipher the meaning of each Korean word mouthed by TaeYeon in the recording of her performance.

No, I do not admit to being smitten by Kim TaeYeon. And i do not have the urge or the energy to stalk her like some Singapore fans did when they spotted her recently at the Singapore Flyer but bothering to shop for a harddisk which will be primarily used to hold SNSD music videos, recordings of live performances, korean computer game and korean fried chicken advertisements, Taeyeon’s performances in SNSD or solo does in fact sound somewhat immature…. 🙂

I don’t know what to make out of all this but i think that perfection on this earth might in fact exist after all. 🙂

June 15, 2010 Posted by | Life, So Nyuh Shi Dae - Girls' Generation | Leave a comment

Jack Neo’s latest tribute to the PAP should be a comedy – How to train your minister :)

In the recent saga of primary school chinese examination weightage, it is amusing to note the about turn by the administration on one of its gaffes on its chinese language policy.

The Education Ministry has traditionally been one of the most problematic ministries within this Government. Over the years, not only has the inadequacies of our education system have been shown up by our children’s lack of gall, creativity and competitiveness, the sheer fact that on one hand we are touted that our local universities are world class and on the other hand our ruling elite send its young to foreign universities and our administrative service sends our scholars similarly to foreign universities is damning evidence of the fact that in the aspect of education, we are definitely and continually being shortchanged.

Singaporeans being shortchanged aside, the recent controversial remarks by the Bargain Hen, if not for the uproar from the Chinese community, might have turned into a possible change in Chinese Language education policy, if they went unchallenged.

I call Ng Eng Hen the Bargain Hen because way back just after the 2001 elections,  I, witnessed with aghast, a Channel News Asia news report footage of the then Ng Eng Hen facing off and answering questions from supposed grassroot leaders and members of the audience in a talk. During the talk, questions had been raised about the fact that the ministers’ salaries in tiny Singapore being the highest in the entire known world.

I say known world because, whilst unlikely, there is still a possiblity that an alien race, unknown to us, might have similar policies that pays its ministers just as much or even more – even though they might be as arrogant and incompetent as they are. 🙂

The Bargain Hen’s reply from the panel was with gusto and arrogance and,  as far and as accurately as i can recall, goes as follows:-

“Let me tell you, [index finger pointing] what you are paying for the quality of your ministers is a bargain because, i need only work half as hard and i can make five times as much outside [with hand gestures].”

Someone with love for this country needs to access the Channel News Asia archives to pull out that famous footage to verify the exact words for the Bargain Hen’s sake and also my humble self, put it up on YouTube so that Singaporeans can appreciate why i would dearly call Ng Eng Hen – the Bargain Hen.

In this episode, our Prime Minister was forced to come out to face the Chinese press and community to backtrack on what the Bargain Hen had said. In doing so, our Prime Minister displayed more smoothness and tact. He reaffirmed his cabinet’s committment to the Chinese Language as much as he would want you to believe and also identified a few more ways to change how the Chinese Language should be taught.

Note the cabinet’s position change from “change in examination weightage” to “change in teaching methodology”. Yet another change. 🙂

Honestly, I do wonder whether the cabinet’s need for constant change is a philosophical need on their part? [which i do not see being manifest in their political beliefs and system] or is it just plain and simple – The Cabinet is experimenting with our children’s education and correspondingly our children’s future?

In short, the fact that streaming policies change every other year;

The fact that there was already a recent change in the Chinese Language Pedacogy in 2005;

The fact that highly paid Bargain Hen’s suggested change is now shown to be ill-thought;

is proof that PAP ministers often act by shooting in the dark and not really knowing what to do with our country. 🙂

Whilst I wholeheartedly agree with PM Lee Hsien Loong about the need for the institution of 6 levels of proficiency, my view that the 6 levels of proficiency should be instituted not so much for the teaching of Chinese Language but for ensuring competent political leadership – To sieve out those who can make it and those who cannot.

These are my suggested Levels of Proficiency for ministers

Elementary Level

1. To be able to be calm and collected enough not to burst out crying on nomination day / polling day.
2. To possess the humility of public service – please admit that your salary is amongst the world’s highest and in the same breath don’t go around claiming that what the country is paying for you is a bargain.
3. To be smart enough to play smokescreen and divert attention by changing the topic of discussion.

Intermediate Level

4. Be humble enough to see your own errors and admit the same – in this case your own arrogance and greed.
5. Be able to talk sense in parliament and do good for the country when it comes to national policies.
6. To be able and willing to further democracy for the good of a nation despite the obvious threat to your own well being.

[An example of how the lack of practice of democratic principles affects this nation – Ng Eng Hen is in Bishan ToaPayoh GRC – This GRC has been uncontested since GE2001, the Bargain Hen together with his team leader our esteemed Wong Kan Seng strolled into Parliament on two occasions 2001 and 2006. Wong Kan Seng’s performance is sad to say nothing better than dismal :). I need not say more]

In this day and age of untold hardship and uncertainty faced by the born and bred Singaporean with the backdrop of uncertain national well-being given the manner in which our National Reserves are being managed, some respite needs to be given to our people to loosen them up abit.

I think the latest movie Jack Neo should come up with in his next release would be the movie… How to train your minister. 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂

May 13, 2010 Posted by | Politics | 1 Comment

Finally… I think …. i found the surefooted path to wealth… :)

In as much as the day could actually conspire to give me an experience and a confirmation of the path which i am on, today i am truly grateful for what has been an eye-opener for me this morning – at my office.

I had stumbled out of bed again this morning to yet another workday feeling sleepy – who doesn’t. As i dragged myself through the teethbrushing and bath and off to work, I was greeted by that awfully guilt-ridden feeling of seeing another unused motorbike parked in the garage.

Oh yes, i have not updated everyone as yet. I sold off Blackie recently.

After selling off Blackie, i came across a Honda VFR800fi Interceptor.

Despite the VFR800’s numerous merits, I have to admit that the decision of choosing the bike and the decision to buy it was nothing short of whimsical and frivolous.

Now honestly speaking, who can resist a 800cc bike with fuel injection coloured flaming RED and being called the “INTERCEPTOR”?

Now in boy-speak [the jargon of men who fail to grow up despite accumulating age], the term “Fighter”, “Interceptor” evokes warm feelings of endearment. That’s what the name of the VFR800fi did to me…. at the moment i first knew her name, i felt weak at the knees, a little dizzy in the head, my heart palpitated, my palms turned clammy… my breathing became difficult.

And so the flaming red interceptor ended up in the garage…. laid up [no licence yet you see] … washed and waxed… and covered under trapaulin… saturday mornings are warming up sessions. My old mother would complain about the exhaust. The children in the house would all jump up in anticipation and watch with rapt attention.

However, more often than not, i would feel guilty about the unused INTERCEPTOR. This was because a solid piece of engineering was reduced to being a display piece.

My mum asked me to give up biking and get a car. She had said to me that even my younger brother had a car – 2nd year into his job.

I told her flatly that i could not afford it. To me energy spent working to earn money should be better spent than on enriching the bloody government.

To me being thrifty on transport is a wise thing to do. In Singapore where people are preoccupied with the over-inflated prices of 4-wheelers and the status of being a car owner, having a car is almost like getting a sure ticket to money drain. Unless of course you earn alot of money like our good for nothing cabinet ministers, having a car would almost definitely hurt your pocket like most Singapore mortals would be hurting.

However, interestingly at times, my perverted self would deliberately challenge the evasive inferiority complex hiding behind my committment to a 2-wheeler. I have deliberately hinted to a girl that i cannot afford a car and she has to content herself to being on a 2-wheeler [if she chooses to be with me] until she is married to me and has my child – then perhaps i would get a car for her. 🙂

At times, i would also wonder to myself, if this perverted attitude of mine had contributed to my lack of success with love and whether or not i was deliberately doing myself in. 🙂 🙂 🙂

Then this morning, one experience amongst so many in all of my hectic mornings, changed everything.

As said earlier, i had woken up and dragged myself to work. I was a little late.  My appointments were back to back. One delay meant delay for all the rest. Including the court appearances. So i was getting edgy.

One new client had called me up the night before. He needed something to be urgently done. So I squeezed him into the slot just before my first scheduled appointment of the day.

He was late. The meeting then ran into overtime. My other client was waiting in Court. I was getting edgy.. very very edgy. Another client called asking for directions – saying he was on the way to come meet my secretary, patiently i gave him directions over the phone. My secretary then told me she was running off to the Land Registry. As my mind was engaged, it did not strike me at first, and i did nothing to stop her from leaving.

Finally the client left, with another slot to meet me in the afternoon. I rushed down to my bike with my files and my jacket. As i was making my way down to my bike. An old uncle was pushing his run down Yamaha RXK to the same parking area. I envied his RXK – he just saved 65 cents on a coupon – something which my huge shadow 400 no longer allows me to.

Big bikes cannot squeeze into the little lanes for illegal parking, so recourse must be had to legal parking in designated lots – which comes at a price – 65 cents.

After packing everything into the bike box, as i was about to ride off, i realised that i had left my helmet in the office. And so I rushed up again.

Upstairs, I saw a man waiting outside my office. It turned out to be the client who had called up for directions earlier. He had brought his documents. Now at this point of time, no one was in office, i had to unlock the office for him. I invited him in and told him to take a seat and then went about trying to sms my other client waiting patiently for me in court.

Now since my conveyancing secretary was not around, I had to stay in office. I could not chase a client out of the office, neither could i let anyone remain in my office without my staff around – so i was stuck.

I decided to engage the man in a conversation, as i always try to do with our clients. It is always interesting as they as clients always remember the lawyer, but the lawyer will find it difficult to remember his clients. This is because we have hundreds or maybe thousands of clients who maybe give us work once every few years.

The first thing i realised was that he was in his fifties and chinese educated. After about 5 minutes, I realised that it was not necessary for him to wait for my secretary – he could just pass the documents to me! And so he did. He passed me the title deeds to a property which he recently sold – we were acting for him in the sale.

It turned out to be an enbloc sale and the price of the property was S$1.95 million. He thanked me before he left and i thanked him in return. I gave him my card in the midst of our conversation as I realised that we had never met before.

After he left, I was jumping for joy! Not because of the fact that it was a S$1.95 million property transaction – the legal fee these days is a pittance – thanks to our warped legal system and thanks to having no one protect us from the short-sighted and destructive price-cutting within the profession.

I was actually jumping for joy because i can finally tend to my poor client patiently waiting for me in court!

I grabbed my helmet and made a dash only to slow down when i saw that the client who had just left was waiting at the lift lobby for the lift.

Admittedly and embarrassedly, i slowed my pace. Well, what’s a client to think of a lawyer who is on a bike because he cannot afford a car?

Of course, i have my reasons and my explanations but knowing that i had a long day ahead of  endless back to back meetings and court appearances, i decided against having to explain tiringly and unnecessarily again to the usual client who might very well just find it ridiculous that his lawyer is on a bike and not a car like most other accomplished people.

So shamefully, I let him go in the lift before i entered the lift lobby to take the next lift.

When i reached my bike parking area. I noticed the old Yamaha RXK ridden by the old uncle was just moving off.

I realised with a little shock that the rider was the client i had just met with the $1.95 million dollar property and it was the same uncle whom i had seen pushing the RXK bike into parking position earlier.

This time round, i was rushing a little bit more. I wanted to catch up with him. I wanted to ask him why of all things he was riding an old RXK.

My 242kg shadow needed to be reversed in direction manually before it could be ridden. It felt like an eternity.

As i finally rode off i saw that he had reached the end of the lane before he turned into the main road. Interestingly, from a distance i saw that he had stopped his bike and taken off his helmet.

I rode up beside him and stopped.

I turned to him and smiled at him, “Mr. XXX!” [Apologies to all, due to client confidentiality i have to conceal the name]

He smiled broadly at me “Mr. Chia you are on a bike as well!” It turned out that he had seen me in his rear view mirror and he had decided to stop. I wondered how he recognised me – then I realised that he could have seen the helmet on my office sofa during our conversation.

“Well … its convenient ….  cheap and fun” I said now without the slightest tinge of embarrassment. 🙂

He smiled kindly at me, “Never thought of buying a car?”

There was a pregnant silence. We looked at each other half-knowingly and incredulously and we both laughed.

I said, “Cars are too expensive in Singapore, i still can’t afford one.”

He smiled knowingly at me. He should know better. Given his actual financial strength. Nothing more need to be said. We then waved each other goodbye. I headed off to court and thereafter to complete all my other appointments.

The morning’s encounter stayed in my mind throughout my entire day. So much so that i had break my dry spell and write about it.

The beautiful thing is the thrift and humility i saw in this uncle. The fact that he could give us the title deeds meant that his S$1.95 million dollar property was obviously fully paid. Furthermore, the property was not the only asset in his possession. It was very likely that there were other properties – at the very least one more.

I therefore had proof that at least one multimillionaire in Singapore who goes around on a bike more than 20 years old and costing less than s$800/-. Amazing humility and contentment.

As it is with all educational experiences and stories, what then is the moral of this experience?

I thought very hard and i came up with the following:

1. Owning a car does not mean you are rich. Being rich does not mean you must own a car. 🙂

2. Some bikers are poor, but some bikers are rich. Never judge a book by its cover or rather never judge a biker by his bike. 🙂 🙂

3. Never ever prejudge an old uncle on a dingy Yamaha RXK, you will never know the financial substance behind those two old wheels. 🙂

4. The surefooted path to riches is humility and thrift amongst other virtues. 🙂

5. To be rich, you must own a condominium and it must be fully paid and then thereafter be sold on an enbloc basis, preferably through a lawyer who is on a bike. 🙂 🙂

6. To be rich, you must buy an old Yamaha RXK and ride it like the classic old uncle. 🙂 🙂 🙂

I have to admit that amongst all the above morals. No. 6 seems to be the one that makes the most sense to me. 🙂

Now my mum always hoped that i would one day be rich and make good.  🙂 Given this morning’s revelation, i think i will try to fulfill her wishes for once. 🙂 🙂

Now ….. where was that advertisement i saw recently about a 22 year old Yamaha RXK for sale? 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂

May 4, 2010 Posted by | Life | Leave a comment