August 31, 2012
8 and a half years ago somewhere in Jerusalaem, Israel.
The stranger definitely looked foreign. But he was fluent in Arabic. He spoke with a Lebanese accent. Besides he had crisp one hundred dollar American bills. Kamel scanned the stranger one more time. His wife nudged him. “OK, but it will cost you.” The stranger began to count off the notes with a rasping sound. “Why do you want to go there? There is nothing there except pipelines.” The stranger smiled.
Three hours later they were standing on a rock promontory in Isawiyah, North East of Jerusalem overlooking the no man’s in Mount Scopus. The man traced the faint water pipes that crisscrossed the desert. He took pictures.
“We need to get closer.” He said to this Arab guide. “No. Any closer and they will start shooting. This is a restricted area. We shouldn’t even be here.” The stranger smiled and drew on his cigarette as he begun to cut the wire fence with Leatherman pliers. The Arab had a feeling this was no ordinary tourist.
The following day, the watchman of the Hebrew University opened the front doors of the Department of Agriculture as he had did everyday for the last twenty years – there was nothing unusual except for the peculiar way the key turned on the barrel lock that day. It felt loose. But since it lasted only a split second, the curator thought it had something to do with frosty weather – it was after all winter in Jerusalem. Sometime around mid-day, a high security Chubb filling cabinet housing experimental vane pump designs for jet fighter aircraft designs was found unlocked. Since nothing had been removed and all the blue prints were still in their allotted trays in chronological order – the head of department simply closed the filling cabinet and locked it again.
It had happened before. Researchers were after all a careless and forgetful lot. They have no sense of security. Nothing to worry about. Everything seems to be inorder.
4 year ago somewhere in Geneva.
The 88 year old Swiss machinist. Craftsman as he liked to be called. Had a habit of visiting his dearly departed wife every alternate Sunday in La Coulouvreniere. Parked along a street parallel to the cemetery a dark BMW motorcycle pulled up along Rue de stand. The man was in leathers. He was always in leathers thought the Swiss machinist. “Is it ready?” The stranger asked while removing his riding gloves. “Yes.”
“Good, I will get my bankers to transfer the money as soon as I test it out myself.”
The Swiss machinist ran a free lance machine shop at the edge of the kidney shaped lake in Bois de la Batie. He had moved into this high tech experimental hub that was recently set up by the Swiss ministry of trade and Industry – that evening, the oriental began to assemble the prototype vane pumps on the shop bench. The Swiss machinist liked to watch the oriental at work. There was a precision to this man that he recognized and even admired secretly – his single mindedness. His attention to detail. The studied manner in which he placed all his tools in single file on the table in sequence before starting work. The way he mulled over the blueprints which were scrawled in Hebrew and ticked off each assembly. Attention to detail was something that the Swiss machinist found lacking these days in youths. And for the whole hour as he watched the man assemble the vane pump he seemed comforted by the idea that they was at least still a few men left who truly appreciate the quality and commitment of his work. He even found it so edifying that he offered the oriental a glass of home made Chartreuse. Something that he had never done before. That evening after the Oriental had started the pumps and put them through their paces and downed the aniseed liquor in a single gulp. The machinist knew his client was satisfied. Before the oriental sped off on his motorcycle. He handed him a brown envelop with the words, “make sure nothing exist. I was not here. This conversation never took place.” The Swiss machinist nodded his silent approval. He was after all accustomed to such arrangements. That evening after closing his shop and the machinist walked back towards his two room apartment along Ave de Sainte Clotilde. As he crossed the stone bridge. He looked out at the black mysterious waters of Rhone – and dropped a folder with a paper weight into the ebony dark moonless waters – it swirled momentarily and slipped into the oblivion of darkness.
Present Day somewhere in the Shan state.
Three days drive North East of Naypyidaw. In the Shan state, sits a sleepy village of Ta-Kaw. For the whole of last year a network of subterranean tunnels had been dug along the Iri- Shan usually under the cover of darkness – from time to time, villagers would catch site of the stranger who seemed to wear dark glasses. He was usually accompanied by the generals.
Last year pipelines were laid all the way to the East stretching all the way to the Laos border in Keng Tung and beyond – it was hard to tell where this pipeline began and ended as they seemed to snake across the jungle, ravines and hills. One day when the man paid his respects to the tribes of the Shan, he was overheard saying to the elders, “with these new water pumps the river will now come to us. We can farm here now even in the mountains…..tell me when was the last time you saw anything grow in the terraces and slopes?” With these words even some of the elders who had seen the passing of more seasons than they cared to remember muttered, “It was so long ago. But I am sure no one remembers when the river ran uphill.” The stranger smiled.
August 30, 2012
There are things I do not want to ever forget: the first time I rushed out bare foot and felt the tingling sensation of Spring snow between by toes, the terrible beauty of the Bearing Straits as I sailed solo in my plastic boat as I nursed the smallness of my courage.
I can never forget drinking cellared wine for the very first time. I remember wishing, I had a neck as long as a giraffe to savor every drop. Her name was Anna. I loved her. She took a big gulp kissed me and it flowed clear and sweat. I remember her free flowing chestnut hair as the sun flamed them to a golden hue. It seemed as if that one moment could last forever. I remember holding time in one look, one curl of the lips one kiss. I remember not only in sight but through my senses – smells, texture, colors, hues. I remember .
I will not forget the day I searched for the creator. I looked for him in desolate trails, mountain ranges and foreboding seas. Yet all I found was a cinder of utter loneliness. A profundis. A desolation that marks me even today. Like a man who searches in vain for his lost love. Knowing that he will never ever find her. As she never once existed except in the figment of his imagination. I remember the before, during and after of my fall from grace. I remember.
I will not forget how I struggled to break free from the chains of a salaried man. How the serious men came to me one evening and whispered to me. “It’s time for the sleeper to awake.” How I protested. I am not ready. There is so much yet to learn. Yet they all looked at me never ever saying a single word. And I knew the finality of it all.
I will not forget how I once summoned all my courage put one foot in front of the other with nothing except hope to find my fortune in a foreign land.
To work the land and feel the honesty of my muscles as they struggled to keep up. To fashion my mind, body and soul as an indestructible thing – that could just keep on going and going and going like a machine. I remember one day when things got better and I turned the wheel of life on it’s sweet spot that very day I suddenly stopped and looked up as a solitary farmer at the dying sun as it bleed light. I’ve never seen a sky so beautiful like that before – it was like a metaphor of how it feels when a businessman knows that he has gone through the tightest turns and now the road is finally smoothing out for him – from this point onwards, it can only get better and better – like flecks of gold dust curled around Currellean clouds. They looked ablazed. Like burning ships afar set against a paraffin blue sea. I remember. I stood there transfixed. Then it came to me slowly. I remember saying to myself, “Yes.” One season bowing out and as another arrived. I witnessed this chapter in time. I saw it all as the man of all seasons.
I will not forget. I cannot. I must never ever forget. The serious men? They were right. They are always right. I remember these things. I shall not forget them.
I came across this is in Redbean’s blog: sayang-sayang.html Do check out his blog. As it’s one of the most humorous and insightful blogs currently in the Singapore social political scene.
Came across this hilarious comment from a commentator in the thread concerning the FUCK word.
It’s timely as recently a member of WP has been supposedly hauled up by the police since the folk in SBS have been suffering from mass fainting spells to his open letter of complaint that is liberally sprinkled with the F word.
What is my take? Well if I had to be prim and proper and sip instead of slurp my soup. I’ll probably just say. These people are seriously out of touch and there is definitely room for improvement. However in the language of farmer call a spade a spade, it just a bloody fucking waste of tax payers money lah and a crappy way to deal with customer complaints!
Instead of focussing on the content and substance of the complaint and disregarding the colorful language. Most of these whiter than white bureaucrats have decided to deflect the issue now to the appropriateness of language and parlance used. Guess what? The oldest trick in the book. Kill the complaint by fixing the complainant? So now SBS is in the speak good English business cum moral policing business????? Wonder no more why most commuters aren’t happy with their service and their perpetual price hikes that don’t seem to deliver any increased value to commuters. Some things just don’t require any elaboration at all, especially if it’s undertaken by really incredibly dumb dumb people.
If this is how the national conversation is going to go – trust me – we are all, well and truly fucked!
Don’t be so prudish lah. The word “fuck” is the most versatile word in the English language.
Perhaps one of the most interesting words in the English language today, is the word fuck. Out of all the English words that begin with the letter ‘f’ …fuck is the only word referred to as ‘the f word… It’s the one magical word. Just by its sound can describe pain, pleasure, hate and love. Fuck, as most words in the English language is derived from German …the word fuieken, which means to strike.
In English, fuck falls into many grammatical categories:
As a transitive verb for instance.. John fucked Shirley.
As an intransitive verb… Shirley fucks.
Its meaning is not always sexual, it can be used as…
An adjective such as… John’s doing all the fucking work.
As part of an adverb… Shirley talks too fucking much.
As an adverb enhancing an adjective… Shirley is fucking beautiful.
As a noun… I don’t give a fuck.
As part of a word… absofuckinglutely -or- infuckingcredible.
And as almost every word in a sentence… Fuck the fucking fuckers.
As you must realize, there aren’t too many words with the versatility of fuck…such as these examples describing situations such as:
Fraud: I got fucked at the used car lot.
Dismay: ahhh fuck it.
Trouble: I guess I’m really fucked now.
Aggression: Don’t fuck with me buddy.
Difficulty: I don’t understand this fucking question.
Inquiry: Who the fuck was that?
Dissatisfaction: I don’t like what the fuck is going on here.
Incompetence: He’s a fuck-off.
Dismissal: Why don’t you go outside and play hide and go fuck yourself…
I’m sure you can think of many more examples.
With all these multi-purpose applications, how can anyone be offended when you use the word. We say use this unique, flexible word more often in your daily speech.
It will identify the quality of your character immediately.
Say it loudly and proudly: FUCK YOU!
When I first came to these parts to turn the wheel of life many years ago – I had a hard time establishing myself. Let us just say there were vested interest who wanted nothing except to see me fail. And many of them simply weren’t happy with me. Fortunately there was a tiny community of Singaporeans who took a shine to me. They heard about the problems I faced. And set me up with the right people, pointed me towards the right direction and from time to time whenever they saw danger coming my way – they would all combine forces and make sure that no harm came my way.
It’s all too easy to believe that I made the transition from city slicker to farmer all by myself. Maybe that’s the version I prefer to believe in. I know that’s the version I like to tell others – as it probably slakes my ego. A comforting balm to soothe my inferiority complex. But in all honesty without this tiny community of Singaporeans to the East. I would probably be rotting somewhere in the ground and giving myself to the land as fertilizer. That’s the solemn truth. My point is we all need a lift from time to time – no man is ever an island. Not even one who believes he can wing it all by himself.
These days I have established myself in the community. I am not the greenhorn newbie farmer any longer. I am now a lau chaui. Seen it and done it enough times to do it blindfolded. Can even walk right into a room and every man knows it. Have a well established network. All I just need to do is pick up the phone and it’s done.
There is a chap who just came over from Singapore last year. He is about a hundred miles to the North. In spatial terms in these parts we are virtually neighbors. He’s green, really green. So green that I just can’t help wondering to myself whether he can even pull through successfully to make it through this harvest.
Yesterday, I visited him and his wife and three kids – he told me that he’s planning to pack it up and return home.
I asked why, he said, “It’s tougher here than I expected. I just can’t turn a profit.”
I just said,
“Why don’t we talk about this over dinner before you do something that you might regret latter. I am sure we can find a way to fix the problem.”
You see we all can’t just take, take and take. Otherwise it just doesn’t come around. Sometimes we just need to give some back some of what we once took and square off the accounts for the good times that came our way.
And in that way it all just comes full circle.
“No one ever just wings it all alone. That only really happens in the movies. In the real world everyone needs a bit of help. If you don’t need help today. You probably need it somewhere down the line. You may need someone to vouch for you. To point you in the right direction – so that you don’t bang your head or end up like a pin ball and get bounced all over the place. Everyone needs a bit of help. Even the man who thinks that he can pull it off, all by himself needs help from time to time.
The funny thing is when you are on the receiving end. You never ever think of giving back. Never. As you’re probably so immersed in your own thoughts and problems that you’re really just focused on fire fighting most of the time. But as you make it out through the other side or it spits you out like a seed – you will probably begin to have more time to reflect on your life and achievements.
From time to time, you may even allow your friends to buy into the fairytale that you are a self made man. After a while you may even get high on the bullshit that you tell others about yourself – till of course one fine day when you stumble across someone who reminds you of yourself. You see this greenhorn knocking into walls. You shake your head. You see him taking on people who are so big and powerful and you just know he’s writing his death warrant. He is cutting all the wrong moves. You see it so clearly that you even know exactly what he’s going through emotionally. The first season will break him. That is good. As it is always good for every farmer to know that life is cruel – so you allow him to fail.
The second season you know will probably cream him. You have been there before on the razor’s edge. You know that place when ever minutes cuts like a knife. Worst of all, you know this green horn has absolutely no idea what he’s even up against. He doesn’t even know how to fight his way out to the other side. You know that if you don’t help him to see through the second harvest successfully, it will just break him and his whole family in half. And that’s no bloody good.
So what you do is smooth the way for him the best you can. You do it discreetly and quietly not because you’re a decent human being. Or even a good person. But because when you look at this greenhorn you can’t bear the idea that you were exactly like him once upon a time – you know exactly what he’s going through as you have been there. You probably said to yourself then – “If only I had someone who has seen this and done it…then it wouldn’t have to be so difficult and dicey.” Above all when you begin to roll up your sleeves and take this blurfuck sotong under your wing. You will begin to slowly understand one of the greatest mysteries of the serious men – why those men who hardly knew me once upon a time helped me in the way they did so many years ago?
My point is you never ever get to answer that one question unless you make it a commitment to get this poor sod on up on his feet and fix his rickety machine so that the wheel of life turns like a well oiled propeller – and then it hits you, just when you least expect it. You finally realize deep inside the marrow of your bones why those people who you hardly knew once upon a time helped you.
As that is really the only way for a man who was once on the receiving end to close the wheel of life and make peace with himself. To square off the accounts, so to speak.
And that is really what life is all about. Anyone who tells you different just hasn’t closed this wheel of life before.
Do you now see that it’s hardly a matter of choice. Or even having anything to do with decency or caring for your fellow men and all that happy nonsense – it’s really always been only about you and the whole idea of knowing that everyone needs a bit of help from time to time. Especially you. Even when it seems you need it the least.
Live it right the first time. And life will be beautiful.”
August 29, 2012
Mini Lee said recently in the National Day Rally, he is worried that the image of Singapore will be tarnished internationally by xenophobia and hate speech. He is presumably appealing to our sense of collective identity.
But anyone with two brain cells to spare will probably be able to testify without too much difficulty, that Singaporeans are probably the most giving and tolerant people on the face of this planet. In the past, Singaporeans have always openly welcome foreigners. Unlike other countries where foreigners are frequently singled out for villification and ridicule – in other countries, even developed countries they were even beaten up and even discriminated – but what happens when the population is suddenly put on steriods without any prior consultation with the electorate? What happens when it is rammed up till the cultural DNA of the natives are threatened?
Tell me, why don’t you go to Munich, Bangalore, Milan or any other global city in the world and conduct your own research as to whether the natives over there will even allow their policymakers to do the things that PAP politicians did when they signed off on their happy-go-lucky master plan to ram up the population ten years ago?
To be perfectly frank with all of you. I cannot think of ANY other global city in any part of the world where the population is willing to accept this terrible price of chasing GDP growth at every turn and opportunity.
If some of you think that I am talking rot – then please go and ask your friends who live elsewhere in other global cities – Go! Do yourself a favor and please go and solicit their feedback: “what do you think will happen, if your government rams up the population by 40% of foreigners and they compete for jobs, housing, cars, schooling and opportunities with natves?”
Go on I dare you all.
If ANYONE can even supply me one example of a global city where the native population is even prepared to accept what the PAP has done in Singapore.
I Darkness will undertake to give up social political blogging for good – I am not kidding, I will just pack it all up and go back to either writing sappy love stories or churning oil palm related videos. I sumpah!
This is a serious not a bull shit offer. I am dead serious - I am not asking for ten examples, just ONE will do. I think when we all see the problem of run away immigration in this renewed perspective and scale - then it’s really petulant of Mini Lee to even suggest that Singaporeans and residents have not been patient enough. IMHO, they have been too patient and forgiving to the point of surrendering their elemental rights. Maybe Mini Lee should first accept responsibility for the actions of the PAP. Instead of trying to use heart tugging sugary narratives designed by spin doctors to elide the cogent and promote only the feel good factor. Come, come, come surely even he didn’t expect everyone to fall for it – did he? After all we are supposed to have a conversation aren’t we? And if we cannot even agree on what was rightly or wrongly done in the past – then how are we even supposed to work towards common ground to stand united to face the emerging challenges of the times – in my book, one simply has to ask, what sort of bullshit conversation would that be?
Wonder no more why no one seems to be very interested to talk to him or his sidekick the Media Literacy Council.
As farmers would often say, you will simply have to reap what you once sowed. What is my motivation? Well its very simple really. I only have one life – only come by through this timeline once – and I am simply calling a spade a spade. Nothing more or less. No sugary narratives, no heart tugging mini series stories, no violin repetoire. No salt or sugar. Just the naked truth as I see it.
No I don’t think the image of Singaporeans has been tarnished at all. If anything the perverse effect of all this may well be a renewed respect for those who are willing to stand up and simply speak the truth.
P.S: don’t say I never gave you an opportunity to fix me up right and proper. Here it is. If you are man enough that is. (what do you say Mr Liao, how do you like the tone now in this blog?)
August 28, 2012
Meritocracy is a bit like sugar. In controlled doses, it can unite flavors and bring out the very best in a thing. Doesn’t matter what it is, could well be cakes, dishes or even people. But where Meritocracy takes a wrong turn is when it’s piled so thick and heavy that it becomes the ONLY measure that EVERYONE defines personal and organizational success – when that happens that bound to blot out the field of possibilities leaving perhaps only ONE metric or measure of success that everyone aims for.
When that happens Meritocracy morphs into something less desirable. As what this corrosive logic imposes on our thinking is a binary way of seeing the world. Where we are all either successful or failures, switched on or off, team players or free spirits, with the system or against it, scholar or cookie cutter.
Unfortunately the real world doesn’t work that way at all. Life isn’t divided into neat pigeon holes of black and white. It’s not binary as it remains a polyglot of greys. And it is usually in these grey areas that we find ourselves and bring out a good thing.
A student, author, inventor or just a run of the mill cookie cutter like a policeman, lawyer, accountant or technician for instance may experience failure. That failure may even set him back a few year while his peers zoom ahead. Forcing him to improvise to try to overcome his setbacks. As a result he learns a life skill that others who never taken a fall gets to ever learn – a valuable life lesson - later on, he builds on those skills, layering them and that allows him to branch out leaving all his competitors behind.
In this simple example what we are able to see is that set backs in life play a preponderant role in character development and whole art of craving competitive advantage.
Conversely when things are going smoothly and according to plan. There isn’t actually much room for personal growth. Neither does on feel the need to depart from the tried and tested yellow brick road. Given enough time, those who have only known this corseted method of succeeding will find themselves fossilizing till they have so little to offer themselves and others that they become virtually irrelevant.
“During my averagely miserable university days. You could say I hated the world. I mean there I was trying my level best to get myself an education and on top of all that I have to hold down two shift jobs. But when I looked around me. Most students just had to study. To do one thing. I had so many things to do. So when you grow up in that sort of setting, there is bound to be alot of resentment and I guess that same attitude carries through into adulthood.
But when I think back. There are benefits to being different. For one you get really good at being different. And in many cases that difference allows you see the world slightly differently. The really funny thing about being the guy who is always peering in from the outside is you get very comfortable with the whole idea of standing all alone in the cold. You even get really used to the whole idea of believing that you’re less than a man. At that stage there is no pride yet. Only shame. As you don’t have the luxury of looking back yet. You don’t really know whether you can graduate.
It’s as if they were born into this life. But you are different. You’re an outsider. You don’t belong here. The rich students all give you that look. So do their girlfriends. You end up with only the two metric tons internal beauties. The only reason why you fuck them is because you dont have time to go to lectures. But you know these are precisely the girls who take perfect notes - there was this time just after I graduated and everyone was returning home to start looking for a job.
I took my beat up Triumph motorbike and rode it all the way to France. There was no grand design. I didn’t even plan it. One day, it just seemed like a good idea to take along my passport and ride all the way to Dover. After France I decided to go to Italy and from there branched into Poland and then Germany. Just around that time, the Berlin wall had just been torn down - there was no immigration or anything. There were just loads of people going around as if something historical had happened. There was no internet then. News moved mainly by print and TV. So I said to myself, it would be nice to see the GDR, I rode my bike into Berlin through a gap in the wall, slept mainly under bridges, worked odd jobs for petrol and food to make my way further eastwards.
Then one day, I stood before the Russian steepes – it was a solitary moment just before dawn. A paraffin dawn with speckled hues like opal. Many things were flooding through my mind. The aching beauty. It’s deafening silence. The cruelty. It was as if I was for the very first time looking at my own life through a phantom mirror. I didn’t really know what laid ahead, but the scene before exuded a delightful mystery that seemed to work a spell around me. Mystery was furiously at work.
I was drawn like a helpless moth to this tongue of lighted death. I didn’t even know how long it would take for me to ride through this sea of infinity. Not that it mattered. Didn’t even have the faintest grasp of what I had set myself to do. All I knew was I had a full tank of gas and the border guards weren’t particularly interested to ask for papers – as by then even the Soviet Union had began to crumble and discipline that once held an empire was spiralling to mass alcoholism. So I just opened the throttle wide open and tore right through Russia.
Russia changed my outlook in life in more ways than I can possibly imagine. As it took me roughly 6 months and 21 days and 3 hours and 58 secs to tranverse this large swathe of landmass through a combination of motorbike, bicycle, train and believe it or not even a sledge complete with huskies – there was this time when I was bombing down full speed across the Ukraine on my bike. I saw a couple of brigands armed with AK-47′s on horseback - when they saw me, they scampered off. As they probably thought I was out to rob them. And all I really wanted was directions to the nearest gas station. The only reason why I mentioned this was because by this time – I didn’t really look human any longer. My hair had grown very long. And I was wearing this triangular pelt hat that must have looked really strange and odd. And to cap it off I had this old rifle that I used to live off the steepes that I exchanged for my shoelaces. Believe it or not. My Nikon FM2 bought me a sledge with 7 huskies. My Casio Watch a weeks stay in a castle for a week when I took a fall in Minsk. And this you are not going to believe. My Levis Jeans bought me a car. A lada with a roofrack.
When you are travelling all alone for months on end. And sometimes you don’t even come across a soul for weeks. There was this time when I travelled nearly a whole month in the Steepes wihtout seeing anyone. It was just one long eternal litany. I just kept going. By the end of it everything I owned was either held together by superglue or duct tape. Even my tires were stuffed with straw as the tube had long sinced disintegrated. As for the engine it was running on a mixture of proof vodka and whatever I could get my hands on to just keep on moving. Finally I switched to a donkey – I bet you have all never seen green colored smoke coming out from an exhaust of a motorcycle before?
Anyway to cut a long story short – I was not afraid any longer. Fear no longer had any dominion over me. It as if I crossed a mythical line into another dimension of consciousness. One that intensely spiritual.
Till today I cannot quite describe this state of consciousness.
The curious thing was when I returned home – everything looked really small to me. I can’t really describe this oppresive sensation of being boxed in. Except to say that I found it so suffocating that I kept applying for jobs in foreign lands where the interviewer would ask me really strange questions like, “how would you react if someone pointed a gun at you?” My first real job was to build a dam in Mindanao. I was the youngest Country Manager. Not that they really had a choice. The last French engineer was shot in the head by the Moro Liberation Front or whoever. Now during that time, I didn’t think very much about it – it was just a very different job that paid out 3 times plus danger money. And I was a different guy. I didn’t mind people pointing guns at me from time to time. That happened plenty of times in Russia. So I took it. I saw alot of things, more than the average Joe. And I don’t even want to speak about it today.
To cut a long story short. One day many years later when I was much older though I can’t be sure whether I was wiser. I found myself staring at the vast expanse of the jungle – this time I had set my mind to be a farmer – and at that moment, it all came back to me – the time when I stood there surveying the vast expanse of the Russian steepes.
And once again fear had no dominion over me. I just went ahead and did my own thing. When I reflect on this. There are so many things that can be said. But I don’t think it’s something that I want to write about just yet. You see I haven’t really figured it all out yet. Don’t really even know how my life took the twist and turns it did. But if I had to pin point one reason – it has to go back to the moment of my youth, when I came to accept the idea, the notion even that I could never ever fit in like the others, no matter how hard I tried - I was different.
Only this time when I branched out into the business world. I was completely comfortable in my own skin. So comfortable that you could even say, I knew that it had finally come full circle.
That’s why when you are young – it’s best not to care too much about what others think about you. Or to even do something a stupid as to try to live your life for others. Just try to work with the idea to be perfectly comfortable in your own skin.
And this simply means just be yourself. Don’t try to be someone that everyone expects you to be – the model girlfren who can always been counted to give a one hour bj. Or model boy friend who is driving the best car in the block. But everyday eat Maggi mee. Just be yourself lah. Don’t even need to try to earn the acceptance of others by selling your individuality. Take exceptional pride in the views that you hold. You know them like the lines in the palm of your hands. You are different. Just understand that you better know how to defend them, if those views are strong. Don’t compare yourself to others. If at a certain point in time. You are lower or higher. At least the effort you put it to keep pushing on with your chin up endures. Effort maketh character. There is always something to be gained from just being there.
Even if you are a simple man and you are thinking night and day. How can I make life for myself and family better when I see no way out. You have already progressed. You are different from the rest of the men. As most men don’t think about these things – you are different like me. You know the only thing that is certain in the future is that it will be uncertain.
It is ONLY when you understand that you are different that everything just fits together very nicely and effortlessly. You see the way I see it. You were not meant to be just a faceless glob in the generic crowd. You are an individual. Don’t worry what they say isn’t really true – as the world is really large enough to accomodate every sort of man, including the man who sees himself as different from all other men. Besides you’re only passing through here once. If I write this and you read this. Think about it, it only happens in this timeline. Thereafter or before it’s really another timeline. And let me tell you something else – we are all different each and everyone of us. Even those who don’t see themselves as different are different.
Because when you think really hard about it – there is only ONE of you. No one else is like you. You are different!”
August 28, 2012
Having a National Conversation is well and fine. If carried out properly. It clarifies roles and goals. Beacons out the murk and even provides one with a deep spirited sense of shared destiny. We can all work towards the goal.
But where a National Conversation takes a wrong turn IMHO is when the narrative becomes encrusted with elements of nationalism and patriotism. A bit of it is well and fine. But trovelling the narrative with loads of sugary feel good happy fairytales simply takes us away from the jugular, urgent and significant. It distracts us and worse of all throws out countless red herrings that can only lead us astray - just as I have learnt never to stock my fridge with carbby delights, if I want to remain lean and firm. It’s best for us to leave out sugary feel good patriotic narratives from this national conversation IF we really want results instead of platitudes and empty words.
I wonder could this be one reason why we all keep on having the same conversation about the same set pieces year after year without any prospects of resolution? Something to consider.
My point is simply this. When a conversation is enmeshed with sugary narratives of patriotism and nationalism what usually happens is instead of hard hitting solutions – what we will invariably end up with is going around in circles. I suspect this may have something to do with any school of thought or state of mind that is premised on nationalism and patriotism. As all too often nationalism has nothing whatsoever to do with winnowing the truth from lies. On the contrary nationalism ALLOWS facts to be regularly embellished, exaggerated, mythologized and in certain cases even sanctions open fabrications in the fuzzy name of the common good – this IMHO can only militate against all prospects of discussing many of the emerging challenges that confront the nation in a hard nosed business like manner.
If the goal is to have a deep spirited honest conversation to remake Singapore into a better place to live, work and play. Then we may just have to set aside the homily sugary narratives that we recently saw in the PM’s national day rally speech. I know it all sounds good and probably happy – some may even believe its edifying and motivating. But there is really so much mileage one can get out of leveraging on superficial hype and spin and the apparatus of the nation destroying press.
I much prefer to keep to the hard facts and leave out the good for nothing sugary stuff.
“If I ask you to go next door and kill your neighbor. You will probably call me a psychopath. And you will probably be dead right. But if I tell you that you need to fight and defend our way of life and you need to do this terrible deed in the name of King and Country – then I am a patriot.
So from this simple example, we can see how powerful it is to weave the idea of nationalism into a narrative. We can also see how nationalism and patriotism can supply the vital ingredient that allows us to make the perceptive shift to even be righteous and feel right about doing a despicable thing.
The same holds true for our native versus FT blues. Mini Lee says he is worried that the image of Singapore will be tarnished internationally. He is appealing to our sense of collective identity. But anyone with two brain cells to spare will probably be able to testify, that Singaporeans have always been very tolerant of immigrants to the point of being indifferent – but what happens when the population is put on steriods without any prior consultation with the public. What happens when it is rammed up till the cultural DNA is threatened. Why don’t you go to Munich and Milan and see whether the natives there will allow any policymaker to do one tenth of the things there that they regularly do in Singapore. To be perfectly frank with all of you. I cannot think of any other global city who is willing to accept this sort of happy-go-lucky path of chasing GDP growth. If you don’t believe me then please go and ask your friends who live elsewhere in other global cities – go and ask them – I dare you all. If you can supply me even so much as one example of a global city that has managed to allow 40% of foreigners to come in and compete for jobs, housing and the right to own a car. I Darkness will undertake to give up social political blogging for good – I am not kidding, I will go back to writing sappy love stories.
So these are problems that are very serious and it’s important to take note that it has it roots in lousy policies drafted by lousy policymakers to serve a lousy agenda. And I don’t believe it pays to just brush these concerns casually aside with one eyed dragon fairytales. That is not the way serious men go about the business of solving problems – all you’re really doing there is covering up a major problem with platitudes and empty words – and trust me, somewhere down the line. All the bad faith, frustration and anger will simply have to go somewhere.
I think from this example. We can draw a few key points: namely, nationalism has nothing whatsoever to do with keeping to the truth – in the way one reviews information objectively in a scholarly manner. Instead what it proposes to do is to lull us all into a false sense of security by harping on past glories and myths. In other words nationalism is a tool to control how we process and regularly make sense of events along with possibly shaping the views we hold about ourselves and the world. As run away nationalism and patriotism elides facts and contorts them to suit the means to achieve the end. That is essentially how I see it. So for me, whenever I see anyone resorting to such second car salesmanship techniques – I just tune out automatically. As you all know me, I have zero tolerance to any thing that is designed to do very little else except to insult my intelligence. I don’t ever want to be part of it – and all too often this attitude or philosophy is often mistaken as recalcitrant or belligerence or just plain uncooperativeness. I really can’t figure out why that should be so. As to be perfectly honest with you – all I am really doing here is exercising my thinking faculties as a human being to simply call a spade a spade. Nothing more or less.
I will be perfectly honest with all of you. I don’t have time for sugary feel good narratives - infact I happen to consider them as the highest form of poison. As how this poison works is not so different from cyanide – it goes straight for the vitals and disables them. In the same way when a man uses sugary narratives that is laced with nationalism and patriotism, all he is really doing is trying to pull a fast one – and that I am afraid simply cuts no ice whatsoever.
In farming parlance, we just call it what it is….garbage. I think if we really want to have a conversation to solve many of the problems facing natives in the age of globalization – we simply shouldn’t cultivate the bad habit of calling a spade anything other than a spade. It pays to be honest, genuine and sincere. Otherwise what is likely to happen is AFTER this great national effort at self introspection – it will just be business as usual. As I said, there are serious social problems to be solved. And I really dont see how its even possible to solve intractable problems such as income inequality or the gradual economic erosion of our middle class with just fairytales laced with heart tugging music. That is no bloody good. And a good place to start is to recognize nationalism and patriotism for what it is, whenever it features in any narrative. It’s simply a card blanche to lie, confect, embellish, exaggerate, mythologize and legitimize inaction, laziness and unimaginativeness. That’s all it really is, in my book at least.
That’s why I’ve got no time for it. Not even a half a minute. I hope this goes some way to explain why I am not being disrespectful, subversive or even anti social. All I really want to do is to have a genuinely honest and forthright conversation – but it seems this may yet be the hardest thing to do.”
August 27, 2012
Today my enemies, the three oil mill barons came to pay me a visit. They brought along sweet meat cakes and rare pur er tea – this suggested this was a social visit. So I received them in my new bungalow in the plantation in my bush jacket and pipe. (I have found it strategic in many cases to project an older image.)
There is a 1/72 scaled model of an oil palm processing mill in the foyer. The three barons studied it as they entered the high ceiling house. Behind them younger men streamed forward and even crouched as they strained to make out the finer details of this model plant – “is that a flux condenser?”one of the younger men exclaimed excitedly -
“Yes that is most perceptive of you, it is.” As I feigned impatience with the words,
“This way Gentlemen, coffee and tea awaits.”
Another asked, “but where would you get cool waters around here to run it?” He went on to add, “the nearest source is 100 miles away to the East and there are no roads.”
I replied, “Yes, you are right, there is no possible way to operate this mill, it’s really too high tech, it seems. But it’s a good diversion for me during the long evenings.” I feigned a laugh and again tried to lead the entourage to the drawing room.
Standing there, the three oil barons made the number OOO. They were all sweating. Transfixed by this model. Like rabbits quivering before a cobra. Each in his own thoughts. Each contemplating the inevitable.
I drew on my pipe and savored the moment. And after what can only be described as a very long time – when they looked at me and I at them with the eyes of a hunter who was once hunted. Each of them realized, the finality of the moment – it was game over.
“I grow palm trees that produce fruit. But I am not getting a good price for my fruit as the oil barons have a monopoly on the market. I need to negotiate from a position of power – I need a reliable way to show that they are optional, dispensable even – there are oil mills to the East. They will give me a better price.
Unfortunately there are no roads to the East.
During the dry season. I cycled through hundreds of plantation roads from West to East. I surveyed in total 130 miles. Networked along the way. Built relationships. Got agreements from the various landowners for my lorries to pass through their lands. This journey is possible. Not only that, we will deny my enemies the fruit bunches in the lands we transverse through as well. They are agreeable. We only need to make this journey ONCE to bring the oil barons to the negotiating table.
Four days ago. A convoy of lorries loaded with fresh fruit bunches made this treacherous journey with pathfinders armed by my new set of maps – it took them two days. But they arrived safely. Now my enemies are not stupid – they will be wondering where has all the fruits the Devil and his associates harvested gone too? They know it didn’t go to them this month – so where did it go too?
Build a 1/72 scale model of an oil mill. Make sure you include a long water line marked in red. I want this model in my the foyer of my new bungalow in the plantation. This will lead my enemies to think that this plant will be build near the sea in the East. Make enquiries to buy a parcel of land in the East. Do it quietly. Again when they hear of this. They will put two and two together.
When the oil barons hear of this. They know that their days are numbered. The will not fight as they would have realized by now it will be a war of attrition. Even if they win, it will bankrupt them. They will negotiate instead for peace.
This is how politics is conducted in business – there are never any true enemies or friends only merchants of convenience play this game.
We only get one chance at this. If we fuck it up, its well and truly game over. We don’t have any money to build this super modern oil mill next to the sea. All we have is a few loose change in the biscuit tin. Even the trips we make across the plantations is not sustainable as the cost out weight the pay outs – all we can really do is create the illusion that we pose a clear and present threat to the business model of these oil barons.
When they come to the table to negotiate. We must go for the jugular. If we ask for less they will grow suspicious. We need want equity in the mills – tell them we will pay a fair and square price for a controlling share. In return we will guarantee that we will shelf our plans to build an oil mill to the East – to put it another way. Those who we cannot defeat. We embrace as brother. Either that or total war.
Business is war. Any businessman who tells you otherwise probably isn’t in business any longer.”
Yesterday I was invited to spend a delightful evening in a nearby plantation that is owned by my good friend Dr Pang. Only a very small private group was invited. All of us r in plantations or in related industries. All of us stay in the East Coast of Singapore. All us never miss an opportunity to fellowship - most of them are much older and far more successful than poor house me. I guess they have been at it much longer – and that’s why I never ever miss an opportunity to connect with them whenever I am invited. Besides the Pang’s can always be trusted to serve up top class Kim Joo Guan Bak Kuah along with Mrs Pang rendition of Joo Chiat Laksa. Wouldn’t miss it for the world!
Though I didn’t ask specifically. I had expected that the Pang’s had invited the guest to watch the PM’s National Day speech on satellite TV. Mrs Pang had after all asked me to bring along a flag. When I told her I didn’t have one. She simply exclaimed, “that simply wouldn’t do young man…” And promptly insisted that I should at least have the decency to appear wearing a red and white montage. She was terribly insistent and mentioned “this would set the mood just nicely for the evening.”
When I pulled into the drive way of the estate Bungalow at 6.30. Mrs Pang grabbed me by the arm and ushered me into the open area where a BBQ was just about beginning. Then at around quarter past seven, Mr Pang gestured to the rest of the guest, “shall we.” So we all took our seats before the TV.
To be honest with all of you. I don’t ever watch TV. Don’t even follow sports or for that matter the news. Haven’t even owned a TV for nearly 15 years now. Much prefer the BBC droning in the background with Big Ben banging away to mark time. That’s just me. But since everyone was in such a jolly mood, I just thought it would be a good idea to play along and join the rah-rah brigade for a change.
At exactly half past seven, we were just in time, they had just kicked off….the game was just beginning. I don’t normally watch football…but even I have to say, yesterday’s game was perhaps the best football I’ve ever watched in my life. I just can’t believe how much technology has changed through the years - it was a DVD of Mr son’s interschool football match shot on a handycam.
And I have to say it was rivetting right to the very end - you wouldn’t normally expect this from a kiddies league – but that was how it panned on that evening. At the end of it all Mr and Mrs Pang suggested that we should do it all over again next year. I simply flashed her a smile that said, “Why not?”
Just another ordinary way to while away Sunday. A good wholesome bull shit free Sunday. If only all Sundays are like this. This time of the year. If only…..
P.S: You might also want to catch up on this excellent essay: conversation-what-we-need-is-national.html?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed:+ASingaporeanInAustralia+(A+Singaporean+In+Australia)
“I am very careful with my brain. I consider it a temple of sorts. Though I admit sometimes it can look like a compost heap. So usually I have zero tolerance for people who either try to brainwash me or insult my intelligence. I want to be very clear about this from the onset so that we don’t have any misunderstandings. Otherwise many of you will say that I am simply on another rant again.
You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to figure out that in the not so distant future the capacity to produce, transport and store food will be the new economy – one day, the ability to drive a tractor will be cooler than running around in a Ferrari – now you know why, stock brokers have moved their invested portfolio from the Citibanks, General Motors and Boeing Aeroplane group to the Archer Daniels Midlands and United Foods et al – a shift has occurred. This is no accident. That is why I have decided to go into agriculture. Food security will eventually move from the back waters to the very important quadrant because I for see it playing a preponderant role in moderating social stresses in a declining economy, where wages will remain stagnant while basic necessities continues to escalate.
We are living in a topsy turvy age.
This is the age of strife where cyclically inflected food prices will simply be the lead-in to a crisis of the social system, because for years no one has bothered with food security, now for the very first time, since the French revolution, we are beginning to see food concerns transcending strictly economic issues. Food scarcity these days can even provoke major transformation regime changes more efficiently than tomahawks guided missiles or stealth bombers – 10 years ago, this was unimaginable. This idea may seem unreal today to those who have not ventured into the deep interior of the jungle – against this new reality, we are not alone. We have come across 3 to 4 mainland Chinese expeditions during our travails – why do you think they are prancing around in the jungle? They are looking for land to plant oil palm.
I will be honest with you. We are no match. They have better equipment. Their men are hardier and most importantly, they seem to realize that failure is not an option. As for the Brotherhood, even our hardiest are finding it tough in the jungle. I do not blame them as even I find it very difficult – half of them have either dysentery or imaginary ailments - the other half is either pretending or spending their time trying to cook up believable excuses to get their asses back to comfy Singapore- I understand as this is hard country, it is tough here – but that is why we must persevere and see through this matter to its logical end. It is clear to me the guilds consider this a crazy project, but when I go to Munich, I will present a paper to the Confederation and my hope is wisdom will prevail.
What we badly need is a new breed of technocrats who know how to farm and function effectively in the this type of hostile environment. This is why I consider it a great mistake when Philip Yeo once proclaimed to the whole world, “Singapore has no agriculture!” And he proceeded to dismantle all the set pieces that once made up the cornerstone of agronomy. He was wrong! And the people who signed off on his cracked brained idea were a bunch of idiots. Antwerp may not have any diamond mines but that is where they are tabled! The Swiss do not have a single sprig of cocoa plant, but they produce the tastiest chocolates. There are no cows in Milan but they have best tanneries for leathers – so when you say there is no agriculture in Singapore, you have effectively wiped out our strategic capability to ensure food security regionally – no one studies agronomy, no one wants to go into the jungle, no one wants the sun on their back – now I hear maids are carrying the backpack of soldiers, next thing that will happen is they will also be carrying their armalites.
This demonstrates only imagination’s weakness, not the unreality of the challenges in store for us, as the biggest unknown in contemplating the future of capitalism is the tolerance of the world’s population for the havoc that food shortages will inflict on their lives. For the moment, many in power are still under the delusion the vast majority of humans are able to react constructively in the face of rising food prices, little do they realize, something as benign as scarcity of food may even lead to a breakdown of normal patterns of social life. Neither should we take cold comfort by placing our hope in mankind’s sagacity i.e his ability at improvising solutions to immediate problems of physical and emotional survival, it is aptly clear to me 21st-century man has lost the skill to confront the economics of lack – only yesterday even my men were fighting over a bar of chocolates and they have become so petty that everyone seems to hide food to save his own hide – this explains why youths are throwing Molotov cocktails in Athens, striking civil servants in Johannesburg, and most spectacularly the Egyptian and Libyan uprising demonstrate clearly people these days will not put up with rising food prices any longer, to better their conditions of life in the concrete ways they have no qualms whatsoever in voting with their slippers and taking their grievances to the public square.
While at present there may still be stupid people awaiting the promised return of prosperity via zombie banks – we should now break the rules of an economic system that was once based on the old calculus, that itself implies a radically new mode of generating wealth. This is why we have to learn how to plant. If we have this technology, it will not be so different from how the brotherhood has been able to consolidate it’s power in the Imperium and Confederation despite our numerical inferiority and the lack of the hinterland through out remarkable ability to fold space – no tribe, except ours have mastered this black art. And so we control the politics of space. Without the power to transverse the infinity of space, a community might as well be marooned in an island like Robinson Crusoe. Similarly if we can learn to plant and cultivate crops in a scientific manner here, instead of relying on their mumbo jumbo hit and miss techniques – we can also transplant our knowledge to Africa, South America and beyond. This remains my fervent hope, as I write to all of you in this God forsaken place.”
Transcript of a broadcast from the FC boys (the renegade force of Darkness) / intercepted by the mineral cruiser KDD Xanadu @ Primus time: 09274011
August 26, 2012
There is nothing that I like to do more than to shut out the world and retreat into the confines of my plantation. And do my own thing. But life does not work this way in these parts. As a farmer with vast tracts of land. Just by living, breathing and shitting. I am already marinated in the affairs of the local community – my lorries ply the trade routes, my workers finger across the countryside and all this shapes the outlook, relationships and politics along with the intrigues of what it means to be part of a community.
I make it a point to regularly reach out to various interest groups in the local community – to listen to their many gripes. So that I can solve them before they threaten my economic interest. To better understand the source of their anxieties and concerns and to explain to them what my plans are. So that there is never any gap that allows my enemies to spread disinformation and poison the relationship between farmer and villager. Above all I work to harness the power of the community to solve problems. This is a long, ardous and frequently misunderstood journey.
Many in the community were at first suspicious of me when I first came here to turn the wheel of life. They called me the Devil. But I am happy that my overeach program is finally breaking down the iron curtain of mistrust, askance and suspicion. And now I can walk into any quarter of the community as the farmer, brother, friend, benefactor and counsellari to the elders.
This idea of harnessing the power of the community involves a deep understanding of how things work from the “inside out” - how to nourish a community in the way one cares for a tree -how to bring out the best. The sweetest. The clearest – and to manage conflict so that the differences and gaps don’t ever grow so large and wide that they threaten to divide us all. If this happens, then we lose the game. When the community is in turmoil. And brother turns against brother. No one wins. We all lose. (Mr Liao are you paying attention?)
This process of nourishing the community involves deep spirited listening and deep commitment to building relationship at a deep spirited level that goes beyond simply hype and spin. As no one will be convinced that I am a man who can be trusted and relied on, if I fail to conduct myself as a serious man.
Simple things like keeping one’s word. Giving a man a fair and square deal. Being there whenever the community expects you to be there. Listening and following up. All these things may seem small. But they all add up to nourish the community.
There are so many things that I need to do as a landowner to secure my interest. To perhaps even secure the interest of many others who have been kind to me in Singapore. One day perhaps they may need someone to teach them how to clear land and farm. But let us leave that aside – I have much more pressing concerns – powerful quarters are not happy that I have made so much progress in such a short period of time. They continue to make my life difficult by spreading rumors and denying me vital opportunities and resources. But on every occasion I have used the community to subdue them. Next year, I will have to take the war to their doorstep. I will need everyone in the community to be firmly on my side.
I did not wish for this state of affairs. War came knocking on my door. I have every right to defend myself. And this simply means taking the offensive.
In this sense the power of the community is everything and much more. Without the community I am simply a man in a shark infested island. With the community, there is an opportunity for me to work towards the next level of my life to join the ranks of the serious men.
Darkness 2012 Measured Response Mode
“Do not think you can just buy vast tracts of land and turn the wheel of life like the lord of the manor. This idea is delusional. Your lands are not even yours in the true sense of the word – it may touch the interest of others. Even influence the ebb and flow of events. The rivers that run through your lands may even finger to other stakeholders thereby linking their destinies to what you may choose to do or not do – do not even think you can do something as simple as cut a tree in your own land down. Just because you happen to be a land owner. Someone’s father, brother or son could have been buried there. Someone may pray to this tree and even offer alms to it everyday. It may not be important to you. But to them it represents a touchstone and something that is hard to explain with words - it is much more than just a tree. So please learn to respect people. Learn their ways. Weave their hopes and aspirations into your work and to love them in the way the Liaison Officer of the Brotherhood ventures to the furthest edge of the known universe – this strange fellow with his odd looking hat and perculiar looking uniform has been sent to ever corner of the known universe. Through these diplomats we were able to build a very strong gaming fraternity with just a handful of men. Our elders called this weapon community power – these diplomats would usually land on a trading planet in a beat up spaceship – at first, everyone will think he is a story teller – as he speaks to them of a new order as he presents his papers and credentials to the elders of these distant tribes. Some may even want to lynch him as no one has ever heard of this super power he represents. They will not believe that he is the representative of a super power in the virtual. You need to understand there were no laws back then.
So just imagine this chap is talking about a new inter galactic order As they are all probably wondering, if they are such a super power why can’t they even afford a spankier spaceship? But someone how this chap manages to get the entire community to build the radar dish. Which I am they built reluctantly and grudgingly. As they do not wish to offend this super power that is maybe 100 light years away no matter how improbable that story may seem -from time to time, the Liaison will transmit messages through this dish that points to the brightest star in the Blibao Azimuth System. On other occasions he will warn the villagers of approaching wars, famine along with fixing their faulty codes – he is the magistrate, handyman, trader, sundry shop merchant, banker, lawyer, pest controller, Oprah Winfrey and Kofi Adnan of this tiny community in the furtherest reaches of the known universe. But bear in mind these were hubs that we deemed strategic to secure the Saffron route from the Ismusth to Prime. As time goes by some of the tribes may even consider him a fibber – as while he speaks of the day when the great fleet will come to their planet in so many numbers to even blot out the sun – nothing ever comes. From time to time, the Liaison will have to make all kinds of elaborate excuse why the great fleet is never ever seen in these parts. But by then, no one even considers him a stranger any longer. He is now one of them.
Even in our game there has been so many cases where one man bearing accredited seals from the Legation and Confederation has successfully turned back whole armies – he has stood there alone holding up his seals while the community hides and have said to countless marauders and invaders alike, these lands have been claimed by the Brotherhood. Most of the time, these brigands leave, fearing that this mad man with the odd hat may well be telling the truth. They have after all come across similarly crazy chaps in other planets. They too fear the great fleet will come to this planet if our laws and conventions are violated.
But the fleet never ever comes you see. As in the early days of the game, we never had such a fleet. We had to create the illusion that there was a 100,000 super duper fleet that could wipe out even an entire galaxy. So this idea never once existed except in the imagination of this lone Templar knight who was been sent to the furthest outer reaches of the known universe – with no prospects of ever returning home. We only had ion drives during the early days in the game. In this simple way, we were able to keep the peace in the vast regions of our 492 colonies.
From this example we can learn so many lessons – if a man gets his priorities right with the hopes aspirations of the community – conducts himself with dignity, respect and honor CONSISTENLY - the elders can only say to him….come and join us for our morning breakfast on Wednesday….we want to know what you think about this and that. Go! Listen. Listen again. Nod your head often. Be respectful yet firm. And speak only the truth wisely at the right time and company. Above all act in the name of the community. Weave your goals into that community. See the community as the mother tree that bears sweet and nourishing fruit.
Brotherhood is a seed my friends that can grow this tree. It is an indestructible idea that has survived for 3,000 years in the gaming dimension. This is not a word that you can understand if you are just sitting in a room all by yourself hermetically sealed from the community. Not a word that you can even understand if you’re just issuing out orders from an ivory tower. This seed needs to be planted in the community. Put that word in the community. Tend to it consistently. And you will see in a very short time. This philosophy will work it’s magic through the daily lifes of people. Do this dilligently. Do it often. And soon you will find that the community will love you.
And one day when there is opportunity to own more land. The villagers will say, “give it to that Singaporean. He is not like the others who only know how to make empty promises and take, take and take. He is a man who knows our ways – he is one of us and we can grow with him.” When you do this well, you will make the life of the brother who comes AFTER much easier. This is so very important. As the middle class has been systematically destroyed in Singapore by what I can only describe as short term policies that only serve the vest interest of a few and never the many – and this can only mean in the foreseeable future many more Singaporeans will have no choice but to vote with their slippers to turn the wheel of life abroad. Some may go into banking, lawyering. Others may want to do business. Perhaps even grow things. They would need such a man to make the right introductions to point out to show them the ropes.
Like those fabled Liaison Officers posted to the far outer reaches of our colonies 2,500 years ago - the man who no one ever sees as a stranger. But one who is cut from the same cloth as the community he serves – many people think there is nothing to be learnt from gaming. They think it’s just an indolent habit like perpetual masturbation. They are simply dead wrong at best. Lazy at worst. But these things I have seen, lived and transplanted successfully into the real world. I thank you all for showing me the way to cultivate my learning to aspire to ranks of the serious men one day.”
August 25, 2012
They came to me during the night. Orpuk has a way of climbing over the high wire fence without stirring the dogs. He is the only man I know who can do this. Many here don’t consider Orpuk and his kind humans – they call them, the Orang Bunyan.
But to me Orpuk has always been flesh and bone. When he visits. He just squats there beside my bedroom window. Never says a word. Not even hello. Never even makes a sound. He just squats there with his shadow. Together the make the alphabet L. When I realize he is there, he breaks out in a smile and hands me a bunch of leafs from the great mother of trees deep in the jungle. I put one beneath my tongue. It stays there as my second tongue.
This will give me strength, thoughts will acquire speed and my arrow will find the mark.
I get into my “kip.” Its just a string underwear made out of hide with a flap of leather to cover my dick. When I enter the courtyard the rest of the braves appear from the twilight. The tall one approaches me, he spits on each side of my cheek and smears beetroot paste creating a menacing V shaped mask – the rest seem satisfied. They let out a shriek and the pack is off.
I take my position behind Orpuk and his son, Noon. We run in single file. Each man armed with a spear and bow and a fist full of poisoned tipped arrows. From time to time, the pack will stop suddenly and Orpuk will stand erect and sniff the air – then we are off again. No one ever says a word. Like birds flying in formation. Everyone seems to instinctive know their role.
Someone hisses. The pack begins to fan out in a tight crescent shape. We’re walking through tall reeds. I can feel the tips stinging me, they’re sharp as needles. Their edges cutting like a razor. I push the pain out of my mind. I can hear them. hear them breathing even. The boars must be near. So very near.
Orpuk mimics a cry of an owl. The braves throw down their spears and bow and take out their daggers. One of them rushes towards a boar in a clearing and wrestles him down. The others do the same and the rest lunge forward to finish them off. A swirl of light as the blades catch the half moonlight – like ebony waters. I thought. I shake of the thought and try to join as best I can, but its so fast. One blink. Maybe two. At most. by the time I get there – they’re all dead.
Orpuk flashes a smile at me as he begins to skin the hogs. He’s done it so many times, he doesn’t even need to look at his hands. It’s as if his hands have a mind of their own. Soon we are off again – each man hauling a leaf wrapped slab of meat tied with reed roots. We are in single file again running alongside the riverbank towards the half moon.
I can’t carry it and run at the same time. Orpuk signals the braves to free me of the load – I can just about keep up.
Soon the tribe arrives. The rest of the tribe have been expecting them – The shaman had foretold their arrival. He hands Orpuk a vessel fashioned from coconut halves flavored with star aniseed – its a white liquid that taste like liqourice and stale 100 plus. I take two gulps. Orpuk puts three more leafs now in my mouth – I chew slowly and soon one of the braves begin to go beat his chest with a flapping action. The rest start of follow. They all jump up and down. As high as they can three times – then they run as close as they can to the fire and dance around it. Like a moth, being licked by a savage tongue of light. Each when they can no longer bear the pain – they break away with a deep “uuuuuuuumhhh!” The women thrust their breast out with each break out. Another brave dances to the fire. Another breaks out. And through the night it repeated again.
Everything seems almost to be slaved to this hypnotic ryhthm of the night – the younger girls in the tribe beat bamboo staves together, they add nuance to the rhythm of the night – they stand in the shadows. They can never come near the fire. It’s forbidden.
I see. But I see beyond. Time and shapes seem fluid. I feel as if I am slowly immersing myself into a thick resonance like amber moving like a snail – it seems as if the rhythm comes from deep within. I feel this throbbing in my solar plexus. The Shaman comes over. He’s chanting into my ears. The throbbing now hurts. I begin to cough violence. The braves seize my arms and legs. Another leaf beneath my tongue. The whole jungle is swriling. Soon they chant A-mak, A-mak, A-mak.
You may all not believe this. But this is where I am supposed to transform myself into a gaint albino monitor lizard.
All I remember was moving to the sound of this hypnotic ryhthm as it coursed through my being; the flicker of the light; the heat of the flames as they curled around my naked body. The sharp shadows cast in relief against a flickering flame, a smile from a girl, another leaf under my tongue. The smell of sweat mixed with honeyed yam juice.
And all through this layered thickness of primal consciousness. That resounding wall of sound that seemed to grow louder and louder as I danced around the flames.
A-mak, A-mak, A-mak, A-mak.
I wake up somewhere in the Western terraces of my plantation. I am caked in mud. There is blood running down by knee caps. I remember nothing. Not even my name. And then it comes to me very slowly. Its a brand new day.
I don’t think Zouk will ever be the same again.
“There are a million ways to die in the jungle. Your buddy could just be next to you on a river bank. You go for a piss. And he’s gone. It happens all the time. No one knows why. No even the experts. People get lost all the time in the jungle. They walk around in circles. They die just short of the road by a few meters. Again no one knows why.
Bear in mind I am a man of science. I don’t believe in hocus pocus. But if you spend enough time in the jungle – you will begin to see things that no one ever sees or hears before. And some of those things you can never ever explain.
You can try but most people will think you are just plain crazy. Or you are just trying to grab attention to feed your ego or inferiority complex. That is how modern man sees these things. That is also the reason why they always seem to die in the jungle. All the time.
I just cannot explain. I don’t even have the words to help me explain. But I will say this. The jungle is not a dead thing. Its alive. Not at one level. But at different levels of consciousness. Time for example is very malleable in the jungle. Things can look deceptively benign one minute and it can all change in a flash.
Sometimes its good to give respect. When you cross a stream drop a few rice grains. That way the water spirits will grant you safe passage. When you piss on a tree make sure there are no incense sticks there. Otherwise your dick is going to shrivel up and drop off. I am just kidding. I want to stop here now. Brush my teeth and go to sleep. Tomorrow is a new day.”
August 25, 2012
It’s like the proverbial curse of the mummies lah. It happens at least once a year. Without fail! Usually when I least expect it. My car catches on fire. It happens so often in Singapore that I even know the drill whenever the SCDF uncle pulls up next to the smoker. Today as I was driving my four wheeler in the estate - couldn’t be going faster than 10 miles per hour. I sumpah, as it’s plantation laterite roads and it happened again. The cabin started smoking. Even my dog jumped right out of the window. So much for man’s best friend lah.
Some things never ever seem to change, it seems.
Darkness 2012 Measured Response Mode
This was the last time it happened back home in Singapore, captured by my onboard security cam.
“How the hell do you have a national conversation when everyone in the room is either a yes man or a prop that is designed to engineer consent? Yes, I used the word “engineer” deliberately. As that is exactly how I see it. Let me put it another way to you in the unassuming language of a farmer, it’s a high choreographed con job! There is no other way to describe it. Not intelligently and accurately at least.
Understand this! If they are really genuine about having a real national conversation. Then bloggers should not even feature at all in this national dialogue. After all I am just an arm chair pontificator. An amatuer. A tinkerer. A monkey with a keyboard. I am man enough to say and accept this label. Because that is exactly how it is. And so is everyone else in blogoland in the social political scene. If they tell you otherwise they are simply delusional and probably living in castles somewhere in the clouds with an imaginary harem. I am not saying bloggers can’t from time to time come up with really insightful essays. I am not suggesting we don’t have the capacity to beacon out the murk or peer into darkened interiors. We do.
Only we aren’t so different from chimps who seem to be able to do really human like stuff. I know chimps are smart. Hey, they were the first species to be blasted into space. Bet you didn’t know that.
But tell me, do you see NASA hirring any chimps to design the next spaceship to Mars? Do you see lockheed Martin interviewing Orang Utans in Borneo for the position of jet propulsion director? So let’s get real here. They are just there for the ride. The same holds true for bloggers, we are really just there for the ride as well. Technology may have empowered us to wordsmith and publish our thoughts and opinions. YouTube may even be able to put a zing to our essays - but let us all be honest here, it’s not so different from a kid throwing daily reads from a tricycle. That’s all it is – nothing more or less.
Statecraft however is a 5 chili serious business - it should be left to professionals – specifically politicians namely the de facto shadow government which is the opposition.
If the PM is really genuine about having a national conversation. He should go and debate his master plan with the opposition shadow government. That just happens to be the gold standard of winnowing good ideas.
Why do you think you regularly see Western politicians going up on stage to face off with their counterparts?
Like I said, that’s the gold standard. The real McCoy. Go up on stage with no TelePrompTer, no heart tugging videos, no vanilla colored backdrops, no complicit press, no perfidious faced audiences. And just sell a better tomorrow to most Singaporens and residents by forwarding a better blueprint than what the shadow government can come up with – better still run circles around them – make them all look stupid. If you can carry the ground and win fair and square.
As a gentlemen and sportman. I say you take the day - you’re da man. You have my word. I will follow you through thick and thin.
But as it is, it’s just one giant David Copperfield show involving smoke and mirrors. Hey who are you trying to fool here man? Least of all the serious men of this world. I am not saying no one is going to shout out hip hip hurray at the end of the show. Sure there are always plenty of gullible and stupid people around. Like me. Who keep on burning up their gear box and tyranny.
Only I think, if you really want everyone on board the train to make Singapore a better place to live, work and play – then I really can’t see how that can be done by insulting the intelligence of the serious men. Coming to think of it, they wouldn’t even bother to make time to indulge in such frivolous nonsense. No time means no time at all.
You know I happen to know three Singaporeans around my area. They are all into plantations in a big way. They make me look like a pocket battleship. Do you want to know what these people are saying? Maybe I will post their comments in Youtube. (What do you think Mr Liao?)
I think in life. Everyman should know when to pick up and put down a thing – the cantonese refer to this as lor tak hei, fong tak lok – that simply means you need to know your strengths and weaknesses along with cultivating the wisdom to know when and what to do – the art of doing the right and honorable thing – to step aside so that the best man can walk right up to the plate and get the job done. Otherwise there is always a danger that all you will really do is come across to the serious men of this world as nothing more than a performing monkey trained to pick coconuts. Sure everybody will consider you a jolly good fellow – but you’re really just like Sambo in Thackeray sense. And when that happens, it’s really game over. As you are really in “measure response,” no man’s land, the grey area, no light or day - and we all know that’s simply no bloody good at all except maybe just supplying comic relief like a dancing bear to entertain the crowds.
And when that happens, that simply means your power to influence the serious men of this world will just go right down to ground zero – you may still get the crowd to cheer for you. But without the serious men on your side. That’s no good. No bloody good at all – as sometimes to really get things done – you need to be able to go up to these men and say, all our boats need to sail in the same direction! If I can’t do that from time to time. I’ll be out of business in less than thirty days. What more of running a country?
Think. Use your mentality. Understand the gravitas of what I am trying so hard to convey here.
If you cannot do that, you can even have like that dumbo midget Xiaxue 30,000 hits a day. But I say so what man! History has always proven time and again, it ‘s never ever a numbers game alone - its never how many people you can influence, but the quality that really opens up the field of possibilities.
I think knowing this is jugular. Now you know why we have to shift gears to measured response mode. As now we really have nothing to lose any longer. The gloves are finally off. Thanks to Mr Liao.”
This goes out especially to my new friend Mr Liao who recently hinted to me that he and his colleagues wished to have a cup of coffee with me. But when I extended him an open invitation. Along with even suggesting that he call me over the phone. Mr Liao promptly did a U turn and scampered away. Now ordinarily, I would just forget this whole matter and treat it as a normal abberation of blogging.
But I really cannot abide a man who makes a veiled threat and doesn’t even have the guli’s to see it through to the very end.
So Mr Liao let me share with you some of the problems I face every day in my plantation so that maybe you can understand how utterly childlike you are to have done what you did. Perhaps even you and your colleagues will soon come to the realization coffee is the last thing in my list of fears. Trust me Mr Liao you have no possible idea how cruel life can be outside Singapore. No idea whatsoever what sort of man is required to thrive in such a hostile environment.
Tell me. How did you scale it so wrong Mr Liao? How many bloggers have you done this too Mr Liao? How many have just decided to throw in the towel? Why calibrate a threat in such a way whereby it misses the mark completely? Surely you’re not going to tell me that the Internet Brigade has a habit of bringing a fork to a gun fight! bUT what truly baffles me Mr Liao is WHY neither you or your colleagues even feel the need to see it right through to the very end? To at least even make good on a threat. What were you really doing Mr Liao? Coming to think of it, was this even an authorized act?
Perhaps the video I have made will put it all into perspective Mr Liao. The cruelty of life. Perhaps even you will eventually reach the understanding that when a man goes beyond a certain point, then fear will simply cease to have any dominion over him.
Mr Liao level 2 of the game that I have designed for you will begin very soon. Please do not disappoint me this time.
That will be all for now Mr Liao.
Darkness 2012 Meaured responsed mode
August 24, 2012
Measured Response has been declared at precisely 12.00 last night SG time by the Imperium under Article 9 of the Irrullian Protocal. That will be all. The rest of you know what to do.
“Mr Liao. There comes a point in every man’s life, when he realizes that we all live in a world of consequences. Matters little whether that man is a beggar or even a king Mr Liao. You could even say Mr Liao. This realization is the great equilizer of life – the Arcanum, the leveller, the humbler, the one that simply cannot be denied. To put it another way Mr Liao, we are all ultimately responsible for what we choose to do, say, think and act.
Your homework today is to research what exactly does “measured response” mean in the brotherhood sense. That will be all for now Mr Liao.”
August 23, 2012
The Brotherhood Secret to having whole Singapore road to yourself as a cyclist.
Begin your ride at 5.00 in the morning. Not come to the location at 5.00. But at precisely 5.00, the team launches off. Let me explain to all of you why this is the gold standard of safety as a cyclist.
From 5.00 onwards to 6.00. All the drivers on the roads are professionals. No blind auntie’s in a SUV’s. So your chances of getting knocked down is virtually zero. From 6.00 to 7.00 it begins to thicken. This is where the skipper needs to plan his route in such a way whereby the pack will not end up in a bottleneck. He needs to forward plan.
From 7.00 to 7.30. The ride should be ending. At 7.45 (latest), it should end.
“Getting everyone to sign a manifesto is the only way to root the SAFETY FIRST culture in a bicycle team. Let me share with you all why. Most men turn into boys when they are cycling in a group. What many people fail to understand is when a group of men come together – they are really partaking in an ancient ritual of brotherhood that goes all the way back to the days when men sat around a fire as a shaman recounted the story of the origins of mankind – it is very tribal. And the instinct that powers this natural desire to be part of a tribe comes naturally to every man.
Just two days trek away from my plantation if I walk Westwards – there is a tribe. I know the chieftain there. Even hunted with the braves. You know what? Even they have a manifesto.
There are do’s and don’ts that’s really what a manifesto really is – and if you are skippering a bicycle team. You need to understand that no everyone is equal in the team. You may for example get a CEO who forgot to bring along his helmet. The safety officer in your bike team could just be a factory technician. So he says to the CEO,”I am sorry, no ride for you today!” CEO goes berserk. Marshall appears and backs the safety officer up. No use CEO is still insisting that he has the right to ride with the pack. Skipper appears and ask CEO what is article so and so of the manifesto?
CEO knows its game over. He knows there is no way, he can go against tribal law that he has put his blood on – that is how powerful a manifesto can be.
You see one of the saddest things in all this is. I do not disagree completely with Yaacob that we need may need a bloggers code of conduct. Because let us be perfectly honest. Even in gaming we have a manifesto. We have the Irullian Protocal. That is like the Geneva Conventions and the rules that govern interstellar conventions. Same goes for climbers. Even they have a manifesto.
My only gripe with Yaacob is he was sly about it. He never for instance once mentioned the MLC, till the eleventh hour. It just came in from nowhere.
That is the saddest part. As to be perfectly honest with you. We bloggers really need a manifesto now.
Ah! Silly me. We have a problem don’t we Gentlemen. Now that we have to deal with Mr Liao. Everything might as well be up in the air. I am suddenly not so sure now whether Yacoob had such a good idea.”
August 23, 2012
I received a copy of this book written by Dr Chee Soon Juan from one of my regular readers. Thank you Amanda.
I had many preconceived notions abt Dr Chee. Most I believe has been drummed into my head by the nation destroying press.
But as I read the book. Very slowly. One chapter a time. I realized that whatever has been said about Dr Chee can at best be summarized as malicious and evil. I realized that one reason why I’ve always held certain assumptions about Dr Chee is not because these thoughts were conceived somewhere in my mind. Rather that idea was placed there by others who simply wanted to me to process information in a particular way.
In this respect reading this book has taught me more about myself – the first lesson being: to truly understand a thing. One may perhaps learn to UNLEARN so many things that has managed to encrust themselves in our thinking.
“Mr Liao have you ever asked yourself. What will your superiors have to say when they ask of you, ‘why did the Brotherhood Press swing suddenly to that other side?” How will you even begin to answer them Mr Liao? After all we have remained neutral for over 10 years.
Come, come Mr Liao, surely you don’t expect them to just believe that I got out of bed one morning and decided to jump into the deep end? Have you ever considered how many in the PAP actually read my blog?
So tell me Mr Liao. HOW in hell are you going to even begin supplying a convincing explanation to your superiors how the account SUDDENLY turned pear shaped overnight?
Mr Liao you are probably asking yourself now: why is Darkness picking on me? After all what I did was just something so innocent. Benign even. Precisely Mr Liao. That is why it will be so terribly difficult to explain. Impossible even to recount to your bosses how it all went so awfully wrong.
Do you see the irony Mr Liao?
Mr Liao you had better pack your bags for a very long trip. You should bring along your teddy bear as well. As I have a feeling your next posting will be somewhere very faraway from Singapore. In a desolate domain perhaps -where the days seem to stretch endlessly – each unfolding new day a repetition of yesterday. The only witness to the chastening passage of time is the diminishing size of your tube of toothpaste. In this place every passing minute cuts like a knife Mr Liao. Somewhere in the Northpole maybe. Perhaps even the Singapore weather bureau in the Artic, if benevolence shines on you.
And in this place the only net you will be managing is a second hand Cash Converter fishing net full of holes. Finding chow will keep you gainfully occupied Mr Liao. As polar bears can be especially feral to humans.
And why would that be the case Mr Liao? Because you wouldn’t be able to supply a convincing explanation to your superiors how it all went so pear shaped. It’s just impossible Mr Liao.
This will be LEVEL 1 of our private game Mr Liao. Your mission at this level of the game is to convince your superiors that you are completely blameless for this state of affairs. Difficulty level is 5. Cerebral fitness: 5. Thereafter there will be level 2,3,4,5 and so on and so forth. At each level the difficulty and stakes will go up correspondingly. That will be all for now Mr Liao.
Remember, I did not start this. I am a man of peace Mr Liao. But what is even a man of peace supposed to do when war comes knocking on his door? To put it another way Mr Liao how can I possibly convey to you the error of your methods? Do you see the post about how to cycle safely in Singapore and still be able to go back to wifey and the kids below - well that essay will disappear at midnight tonite. It will cease to exist Mr Liao. Inaddition to this, we will NOT cooperate to share any knowledge on riding safely. Unless you play the game Mr Liao. As that was really my original goal Mr Liao to really improve things in Singapore. But as you can see for yourself, this is what invariably happens when a blog assumes the shape of a pear. Surely you can’t blame me for assuming the role of villain. Where would a game be without the diabolical villain?
Mr Liao at every level of the game IF I perceive that you have chosen to ignore this game that I have so lovingly created JUST FOR YOU – it will be accompanied by a penalty. A sharp and rude shock. Like electric shock therapy. In this case, the penalty is non cooperation i.e our bicycle team will just disappear Mr Liao. Poof! As I said, I expect a reply by midnight from you to my original question: what is the goal Mr Liao?
Since you are new to gaming Mr Liao, let walk you through the list of options.
Your first challenge in this game is as follows: How do you diffuse this situation?
(a) Do you ignore this blog entry hoping that no one else sees and reports it to your superiors?
(b) Do you escalate it to a higher level to cover your arse just in case it all goes out of control?
(c) Or do you take the initiative to try to keep the situation under control yourself thereby dispensing with the need to either inform your superiors or run the risk of it been red flagged?
As you can see Mr Liao. I have designed a delightful game just for you. One of a kind Mr Liao. Opting for (a) may buy you some time Mr Liao. But what IF it gets so big that it blows up like a hand grenade some where down the future. Or maybe you prefer to explain to your superiors how you created this mess, it which case, you will probably opt for (b). But bear in mind, your superiors may ask of you. Why were you so reckless and happy-go-lucky? In which case you might consider option (c) which would require you to reply to my original question Mr Liao – what is the goal? The penalty there is the after supplying an answer another question will be issued. The stakes rise along with the penalties.
If you get it right Mr Liao. You have my word. I will work very hard to make sure Singapore has the safest cycling culture. We know how to do this. Others don’t. If you get it wrong. It all disappears at midnight. Poof! And tomorrow we will play another game of sudden death.
That will be all for now Mr Liao. Let the games begin.”
August 22, 2012
“My greatest concern about this whole idea of the cycling community demanding a dedicated lane is simply this: what will the broader Singaporean community think and say about this Rolls Royce cum Shah of Iran demand?
I don’t really think many of you who are demanding for a dedicated cycling lane have fully considered the wider ramifications of what you’re really asking for.
Let me put it another way – what do you believe MOST average Singaporeans will think when they see us all having a dedicated lane all to ourselves – that we will all probably only use during the weekend? How will this go down with the average Singaporean? Will this rub them the wrong way?
Understand this! Whether we all choose to admit it or not – cycling is hardly just a casual recreational sport in Singapore. How can it be just an average entry sport, when a Shimano XTR set up goes for over 3K? Let’s not even go into discussions about Italian hand made limited edition carbon fiber frames. I am not even going to go there. As my calculator will probably start smoking.
Bear in mind, I am not saying cycling in Singapore is a rich man sport per se. Only in Singapore that just happens to be the general perception. And that’s key here! If Ah Kau, Muthu or Ahmad in Singapore is gainfully turning the wheel of life happily – then it’s really no issue for the cycling fraternity to be demanding even gold plated and diamond encrusted lanes to ride on. Whether you get it or not is another issue lah.
But just open your eyes and look around you. Most Singaporeans are hurting badly. Mini Lee says no one will be left behind. Guess what I got news for all you? No one fucking believes him! Especially me. You can all quote me in Togoparts. Go ahead! Be my guest. I only live once. So that’s my call a spade a spade take on how bad things are. My point is there are already enough divisions working to separate us all further, the income gap, the gap between have’s and have’s not – and this dedicate lane thingy really just adds to that divide. A divide that has grown so wide these days. That none of us can even be sure any longer whether the things that continue to unite us can even remain as strong as those things that threaten to divide us all further – so as you can see this is just not a casual request for more real estate on the roads. It’s really much more complicated than it looks. There is a power, class and lifestyle dimension at play here - and we all just need to be mature enough to appreciate the broader picture. Otherwise we will end up haemorraghing EQ and credibility like the PAP who never ever seem to see the error of their ways, when they splurge out on Rolls Royce Brompton’s, designer office furniture and sky high salaries that no one in the private sector will even consider paying out without at least thinking twice or thrice.
In a nutshell the leadership in the cycling community needs to take a broader sweep of the prevailing sentiment to appreciate these subtle nuances IF we are to all going to get along. The last thing we need now is to forward the real or imagined lie that Singapore is ONLY for the rich. We need to be mindful that even a well intentioned demand like this can and will create more divisions, be it class, money, status etc. These Gentlemen are things that I feel very uncomfortable about If this dedicated lane is in Munich or Amsterdam where most cyclist from all walks of life can gainfully make us it of it – that’s fine with me. But we all know this is not what some quarters are demanding.
You see my friends. Times are bleak. And it’s probably going to get worse before it gets better. Many Singaporeans have already lost their jobs due to happy go luck immigration policies. Especially the middle class in Singapore. They are squeezed. Those who are lucky to still have jobs are not out of the woods either. They worry incessantly about keeping their jobs – and from the looks of it, the grief is likely to be heightened and sharpened when Singapore goes deeper into yet another recession.
So how much sense does it make to suggest that the cycling community should have dedicated cycling lane right now? How politically correct is it to even demand for a dedicated cycling lane against that sort of mood of doom and gloom? Tell me is that sort of demand even in synch with the prevailing sentiments of the times?
I hope you all now understand why this subject of dedicated cycling lanes is never ever personal with me. It’s strictly business. I am sorry, if I came across strong. Only let us all understand this. ALL our boats need to sail in the same direction. This demand must now be made to disappear.”
A conversation somewhere in the corridors of the Temple of Reason in Primus Aldentes Prime – The Brotherhood Press 2012.
“I am harvesting right now. But this is what I will do when get a hour or so in the evenings. I will sit down and write down a short cycling survival guide entitled: how to cycle and still come back to see wifey and the kids in Singapore. I don’t expect it to be very long. But I am quite confident this will go some way to solve what seems to be an intractable problem.”
August 21, 2012
Everyone who follows my blog probably knows that I have been an avid cyclist for yonks. Even happen to skipper one of the most disciplined bicycle teams back home in Singapore (zero accident! Not even so much as one!). So most of you would probably expect me to weigh in, in favor a provisioning dedicated lanes for cyclist. Sorry, no such luck.
First of all let me just share with all of you as an insider some of my views concerning bicycle fatalities on Singapore roads - while some may be attributed to negligent motorist. Many based on my personal experience are undoubtedly caused by cyclist who have absolutely no idea of road safety awareness – and what I can only describe as a general laziness and bochapness to prioritize a safety first culture in cycling - and the reason is very simple most bicycle clubs in Singapore are really led by people who simply have no appreciation of managing risk on two wheels - from what I am able to make out, except for a handful of bicycle teams in Singapore. Most bicycle teams are generally ambivalent about safety. Till off course somebody gets flattened like Prata. Then the great huholala begins.
This bochapness towards rooting a SAFETY CULTURE is to prevalent in Singapore. Most bicycle teams believe it or not, don’t even bother to carry a first aid kit with them. Or for that even see the need to nominate a medic, safety officer or scouts who should ride ahead of the pack to ensure the convoy is ALWAYS visible and safe. And now they want a dedicated bike lane!
I am sorry. I just don’t see the flow of logic here. As IMHO most cycling teams just haven’t really don’t enough to prioritize safety. The way I see it, they should stop deflecting the blame to roads, bollards, cats, housewifes who have no business driving SUV’s and work to get their house in order FIRST! Then and ONLY then, should they talk about dedicated lanes for cyclist.
As it is, it’s premature to even have a serious discussion on whether the cycling community will benefit from a dedicate lane.
Now, if this doesn’t go down well. Just roll on the carpet with the punches. I promise to be nice to all of you tomorrow in my next blog entry.
As what I am really doing here is simply calling a spade a spade.
“Hello, don’t go around disrespecting me! Now if you do that. Then why don’t you send your best rider to Bukit Timah. Wait underneath the big tree just off Brinjai Road. We go two rounds through woodcutter full speed. Me and your golden boy. Only understand this! I’ll whip the shit out of him. After that you become my water boy. Look here! All of you have your heads buried in the hairy arse of Togoparts. Wake up and smell the bitumen boys!
Then maybe you can tell me whether I am talking through my seat post about cycling road safety. The way I see it, most of you are just really interested in bombing out full speed. As for safety its really just a giant abstraction. We all know that. So don’t try to sell me this as if I just walked into the shop for the very first time in my life. Hey, you are talking to a lau chaiu here. You’re talking to dead serious bad ass professionals here! And that’s not all. I haven’t finished yet.
Like I said, there are many issues that needs to be worked out by the cycling fraternity in Singapore. The way I see it. 50% of the riders on the road. Have absolutely no business to be there in the first place. They don’t an apprentice system for someone to show them the ropes. As for the really capable riders. I happen to believe many of them have ego issues. And they’re really just setting a terrible example for new blood who enter this sport. All they really seem to want to do is show off how big and bullet proof their guli’s are. No wonder the body count is so fucking high on the road in Singapore. I blame the team leader for this. Yes, you heard me, he should be sent to a firing squad! Sure there are times when we can all agree an accident can be traced to some blind auntie driving a SUV. But in most cases, it boils down to simple human error. In other words, sloppy discipline and a failure to manage risk effectively along with perhaps lousy leadership.
I am sorry if this stings. I so sorry, if it even goes down like a ton of bricks. But that’s really my personal take on the issue. And you’ve got to bear in mind. I speak for the love of the sport of cycling. But I think we really need to be honest about how fucked up things really are inhouse wise. I mean why can’t cycling in Singapore be like climbing. We all rarely ever get to put anyone in the body bag when it comes to climbing. Why? Because the SAFETY FIRST culture is so dominant in the sport. Everyone knows what they are supposed to do. And its double and triple checked! If someone dies then the blame falls squarely on the leader. There is really no scope for negotiations. So tell me why is cycling so different? Why should it be a special case? With even a special lane to go with it?
Like I said, I blame the skipper. Coming to think of it, Where is the fucking leader?????? Bring him here! If you don’t like it, then you can shout as much as you want. And call me all sort of unmentionable things. Only bear in mind, I didn’t step off a banana boat. Neither am I just another arm chair pontificator – seen it all, even got the T shirt to prove it. Want me to take a drop off at 20 meters…sorry, that’s not high enough for me…fish for 40 maybe …no sweat. And that’s exactly how I am going to call it. Poor discipline. Bad leadership and a failure to prioritize safety.
These deficits need to be worked on. And I don’t think it pays to outsource it to government. As whatever they do gets politicised. So the last thing I want to see is the sport of cycling getting associated with the PAP.
Now if someone of you think that I am talking rot here – then none of you in my opinion deserve to even ride a bicycle on the road. You should all be on tricycles in a fairground. So take some responsibility here lah - don’t be silly and childish.
As this is a problem. And if some of you don’t get right down to the brass tacks of getting the team members to take safety seriously. Or even see the need to enforce discipline. Or even see the wisdom of what I am saying here. Then you can even have the whole road all to yourself. But that ain’t going to change a bloody fucking thing. As people will still get mowed down like daisies. As no one seems very interested to take responsibility for this perpetual fuck up! Like I said, the Singaporean cycling fraternity really needs to get their house into ship shape first. Then and ONLY then do you ask for a dedicate lane. You have my word. I will support that proposition. We will support it. But as it is. It just doesn’t make one molecule of sense – and my fear is, if we support this, many people, including cyclist are simply going to think, we are all either stupid or brain dead! Either way, we will just come across as people who make noise and talk absolutely no sense at all!
Like I said, I am sorry if I came across as a plank in the beginning. But you people have to learn abit of respect here. After all. All I am doing here is calling a spade a spade. I sumpah!”
August 20, 2012
Is it just me. Or do some of you get the sinking feeling that all this talk about slaying sacred cows is just a grand exercise in public appeasement. The reason why I say this is because this isn’t new as much as old dressed up as new. We all been here before circa 2001. And in between there has been numerous claims by the government that they’re going to do the same.
But what’s the sum total of this great national narrative of self discovery? Well in my book judging for past historical events, it has to be a great diffusion of energy? Ask yourself one simple Simon question: where those sacred cows put to the knife the last time? Nope. These days I am not even sure they’re cows. Since these cows seem to be closer to cats – as they probably all have 9 lives and a couple more to spare.
And to call a spade a spade. This is a classic case of slipshod public administration – it just boils down to a mixture of laziness, lack of imagination and a failure to see a thing through to it’s logical end. That’s fine if the effort is directed to changing the furniture in the living room – but where tax payers monies is used. Perhaps what the government should do this time to prevent a repeat of the shambolic past is to list down exactly what are the key issues which fall under the moniker of “sacred cows?” Is it the ISA? Ministerial pay? the GRC system, the broken CEO system, our baby blues.
I don’t think it’s too much to ask for a brief outline of an agenda as to what we all supposed to debate and discuss – otherwise what’s likely to happen is best summed up the fabled words,
“same shit, different day.”
This time. My frevent hope is Gahmen should at least see the wisdom of coming out with a hit list first. As to what they consider to “sacred cows” issues. Least they be accused of trying to pull a fast one on an assuming public?
Take my advice. If this is not promptly done – just like our baby blues or any other subject that takes its cue from Haley’s comet. This great introspective narrative of slaughtering our “sacred cows” will just be a comatose inducing rerun of return of the living dead. Only this time instead of zombies. Ten years down the line. They will all be mooooooooooooooooooing us to test our patience again.
Be wise. Be responsible. Come up with a list.
“Please don’t get me wrong. I am not against ministers getting paid millions. In fact I happen to believe SOME ministers currently in and previously in service happen to be severely underpaid – what I am against is the idea of failing to deliver value for money in the form of high performance.
You take the case of George Yeo. He got bumped off. Now what’s the intrinsic cost to the nation? What if I said to you it runs into billions. As for the invisible cost such as opportunity cost, good will and networking – you can multiply that figure a couple of times to reach the upper heights.
What’s the assumption for my calculations? First his skills are not easily purchasable. Secondly you don’t sharpen those sort of core competencies within a short period of time. Neither is it teachable. You either have it or you don’t. Besides a man needs X number of years in the right international circle to be sufficiently polished and come across as a serious man to be able to hold an engaging conversation. I mean at that level you’re really talking about building relationships with very serious people. So part of it requires discipline in the form of continuous personal improvement. You have to read broadly, think globally and cultivate not the PAP’s version of factory mill scholars. But its really the modern Chinese Western idea of the scholar. I mean if you’re talking to a English MP who is either educated in Eton or Harrow. And you think that Cervantes is a fuck shop somewhere across the Moulin Rouge in Paris – yeah sure, they will invite you for dinners. But no one is going to be very interested to talk to you. Your opinions count for squat. And you influence goes right down to zero. But bear in mind. You’re taking the whole country down the chute with that sort of faux pas. What I am trying to say is politicians come by the dime per dozen, but a statesman is really another top drawer act in its own class. If he cannot even juggle the convivial with the brass tacks deftly, then his capacity to manage himself and others is zero. Bear in mind, you are just nothing talking about George Yeo, the man. As a foreign minister he is the de facto name and face of Singapore. Not the PM. PM is really only a figure head. He doesn’t deal with the bureaucrats on a to g to g-level. So the way I see it, if you lose such a man, its really a catastrophic disaster for Singapore.
Conversely, if you get a useless fellow, a parvenu, a dim wit…take your pick lah… masquerading as “the one who got away.” Then you’re not going to get high performance. And don’t think it just stops there. It doesn’t. As mistakes usually take time to fully pan out. Like our baby blues can be traced back to 2 is enough. The same goes for the onion story of our trains – the more you peel, the more you cry.
But just think back. Let’s say you and I can step into a time machine and go back to 1970. We are in the cabinet. Maybe as flies on the wall. The cabinet is talking about mass sterilization etc. Most in the cabinet agree. What if we change history. What if at that tipping when the cabinet is hung. There was a minister who said, “listen we can’t play God here. I know what the economist are saying. But what IF those number crunchers are wrong somewhere down the line?” How much is that minister worth? Can you even put a value on it? It goes beyond money, I think.
Or consider this, let’s say if we could all be flies on the wall in the cabinet, 10 years ago when they were all talking or sleeping when the PM was planning to put the population on steroids. Again the house is 50/50. PM pitched his case well. GDP goes up he says. We become the richest country in the world. What IF at that moment, there was a minister who stood up and asked, “What will this do to our people? Will they be able to turn the wheel of life better then? Can we focus on how we can manage this change so it doesn’t come as a culture shock to our people? What will happen to our way of life? Can we please manage that. Will natives and foreigners be stressed? Let’s identify those stress points and shore them up. What will happen if we get only the richest, brightest and smartest to live and play here like Monte Carlo. Can we do something to prevent the gap from growing too wide? Can we even make sure there is a clear line of sight for EVERY singaporean to aspire to a better tomorrow? Can we at least do the job our people elected us to do PM?”
Now how much is the worth of that minister? Priceless.
The main problem in Singapore.
There aren’t enough of them.
As you can see. Money per se has always been a red herring. What’s key is value for money. Or the lack of it. And that really is the main contention.
Now please understand this. I didn’t come to this forum to give anyone here grief. I am not trying to be offensive.I have no axe to grind. I am just calling it the way I see it. To put it another way, I just calling a spade a spade. As the farmer I am.”
Check this pariah dog essay out #comment-74243. I can tolerate many things in life. But I draw the line when others try to insult my intelligence in such a brazen manner without even bothering to be factually accurate. I draw the line deeper and bolder when others make light of the plight of so many who have suffer and con’t to suffer as the result of the happy-go-lucky policies that has sharpened and heightened the anxiety and stress of living these days in Singapore. Especially the ravaged middle classes.
This has to be a very short post. For one simple reason. As it doesn’t take alot to punch a hole right through this lame piece trying to masquerade as a hunky dory snap shot of life in Singapore. It just right through like paper. No need for even a second hit. Or even disquisitions. And goes straight down for the count!
I mean it’s really simple to deconstruct the ”logic” forwarded by the author here. Think about it. If it doesn’t take alot of $ to enjoy a high quality of life in Singapore. Then how can one even supply an convincing explanation: why ministers and super scale civil servants keep on insisting they need to be paid millions for “serving” the nation?
Think about it. How much bloody common sense does this make?
As always. I give you the facts. You decide for yourself.
“Mr Liao. You have 72 hours. BTW this is only 3 chilis. You saw what I did with the baby essay – it only took me 20 minutes – there is plenty more where that came from.
Mr Liao what is the lesson that I am trying to impart to you and your team here? What is the arcanum? What is the Tao? I want you think about this Mr Liao. At first you find yourself resisting this question. But it will grow on you Mr Liao. Please don’t fight it. Go with the flow. Think about what I have said. Deeply. Profoundly. And compelling Mr Liao. Do try to have a enjoyable weekend. You will need it for the coming week ahead. Remember, its never ever personal with me, it’s always strictly business.
You see in life. You may think you can start something. But what if others decide when you should end it? What if it even ends at all Mr Liao?
One more time please Mr Liao. What is the goal Mr Liao? ”