Why we should allow SME’s to fight it out and die naturally if we want higher wages and productivity
February 28, 2013
How wise is it for govt to give SME’s hand out’s? Did I just say ‘hand out’s?’ Yes, as that’s exactly what it is – when tax payers money is used to try to revivify businesses, then in my book it’s a hand out? It’s important in this sharing to get used to idea of calling a spade a spade.
The only reason why I feel to need to underscore this point is because if you just rely on the apparatus of mass assimilation to connect the dots it appears as if the primary beneficiaries of this 40% pay out scheme are native workers who earn less than 4K. Nothing can be further from the truth – this is a hand out specifically to SME’s. As the SME towkay’s remain the final arbiters of whether the native worker gets to benefit from this scheme. This has always got to be borne in mind by the perceptive reader.
Why do I have a problem when the state hand’s out money to SME’s? Firstly, what custodians of power are doing inadvertently is to keep many zombie SME’s in business, when they have no business to do business in Singapore in the first place.
Why is this so worrying? Because when state hands out’s are used to artificially prop up businesses – then what this will do is interfere with the natural process of winnowing the boys from the men. They are interfering with the natural process by which winners emerge and losers die off. I think it’s important here to first buy into a truism that has been contorted by the propagandist press i.e we need to somehow help the SME’s. As since they employ natives. If they die off then this will negatively affect our economy. Nothing could be further from the truth.
Anecdotal evidence suggest that it is perfectly normal and even healthy for firms to be allowed to die off naturally – that’s really the most robust way for businesses to perpetuate their enterprises in a sustainable way. If you look at the composition of the companies in the fortune 500. What you will find is these firms are constantly in a state of flux. Every year companies such as Lehman Brothers, Kodak, Polaroid et al either lose their position and get edged out by new incumbents or by more aggressive counterparts like Goldman Sachs that simply take up the slack left by companies that die off naturally – that if you didn’t know is how businesses should revivify their enterprises and inure them them with a higher level of competitive resilience.
The only reason why I feel the need to mention this point is because of late business federations, associations and even ministers keep on harping that if SME’s are not helped, then their eventual demise will affect the economy negatively as this would result in less natives being hired. This simplistic picture misleads on a few counts.
As one of the main reasons why most SME’s continue to languish at the bottom of the value chain when they should be migrating upwards towards value added quadrant is because there are already too many of them. The case is especially acute in Singapore as commercial and industrial space will always command a premium. And since fixed cost i.e rental and salaries account for the bulk of businesses – that simply means, there is no way in which they can ever go down IF there is no natural means to edge out the losers.
The only way for fixed cost, especially rental to go down is not through legislation, but by simply creating competitive conditions where zombie firms who are not able or unwilling to shift gears to streamline their business process to the labor crunch are allowed to die off naturally. This would in turn allow well managed firms to seize whatever gains and opportunities created by this natural cycle of demise to increase their market share to grow their enterprises to critical mass – in this manner fixed cost such as rental for industrial and commercial space will go through a process of free market rationalization and since these progressive SME’s are taking up the slack wages for natives can only go up naturally.
My point is there is no need to artificially keep businesses alive. As what the government is inadvertently doing is throwing a spanner in the works by interfering with the natural process in which well managed firms will edge out less competitive firms.
Neither is it such a bad thing when these losers leave Singapore either to chase cost leadership in other countries where labor may be cheaper. It’s even arguable that this Darwinian process of winnowing the losers from the winners is closer to salvation than perdition as we so often read in the mind numbing press – as this ensures quality and not quantity of SME’s- besides at some point in the life cycle of every firm. They will ultimately need to consider the strategic imperative to leverage on either economy of scale or cheaper labor to move up the value chain. Neither does this necessarily translate into a loss for the nation either – it simply means these firms are simply outsourcing their non value added dehumanizng labor intensive and space sucking operations elsewhere whilst their value added strategic business units sharpen on their core competencies to remain world class.
This is the only reliable way to create perfect conditions where PMET natives can be osmotically integrated into the business process of SME’s. What the government should be doing is not handing out cash like Santa Claus and instead ask themselves strategic questions like what conditions must be obtained to ensure our SME’s can shed their kampung hero mentality and go out and compete in the blue water of international trade and commerce.
In summary, in the zeal of the government of help SME’s. What they may have done is to entrench mediocrity rather than laying a bedrock for the pursuit of excellence by allowing well managed firms to gravitate upwards and to seize opportunities that would have been created by natural demise of firms who simply don’t have the verve and imagination to prosper. That can only militate against all prospects of creating conditions where wages for natives and productivity can migrate upwards.
Wither Singapore lah!
“Gentlemen, do you notice that every SME boss is coming out and saying that this 40% salary top up is the best thing since sliced bread. What do you expect? Tell me, if you say to Count Dracula, that if you can drink ten pints of blood, then the national blood bank will give you four pints on the house served with a paper umbrella – what do you think, the Count will say?
Of course he will say whopeeeee it is a win-win lah! That is why he is called the Count. He has a very funny way of accounting.
But to the man who knows how to run an enterprise. This has to be a set back in every sense of the word.
Let me tell you all why gentlemen. As this top up penalizes the businessman who is wise, savvy and intelligent enough to plan ahead.
As by giving out this 40% salary top up – what the government is saying to these SME’s who have neither the verve or imagination to prosper without the opiate of cheap labor is this,
“Now that u have all fucked it all up and are all addicted to opium. We are going to give you more money so that you can now continue your addiction, albeit by using native workers.”
So tell me how sustainable is this blueprint. How intelligent is it. To me it lacks the requisite quality of sustainability – as the vital process of renewal has already been sabotaged- as I am businessman, I will always be thinking what happens after the third year? Three years is a very short time – do not be enamored or seduced by the elegance of this formula gentlemen. The real litmus test is what happens after the third year?
No one? Just a while ago all of you were saying this is an inclusive a revolutionary budget – now no one is prepared to stand up and defend it? Are you telling me now no one even knows what will happen at the end of three years?
The question that remains on the table is simply this gentlemen: will the native worker be back in square one again at the end of three years? Will this be a glorified form of snake and ladders? Is this a real solution or merely a panacea?
To me Gentlemem, there remains only one reliable way to ensure that salaries of natives can grow sustainably. And that is by allowing well managed firms to edge out lousy firms naturally. As when badly managed firms go under – they free up valuable real estate. Rentals will go down naturally. Their demise itself creates opportunities for expansion for those who are still left standing. Those firms can seize the market share of those losers. They can expand. They can grow to critical mass and reap the benefits of economy of scale.
This is true for not only firms manufacturing furniture in Boon Lay. But it applies equally to plantations as well. If my competitors cannot die. Or are not allowed to die. Then can anyone here please tell me how can I enlarge my business footprint? I cannot!
Gentlemen this idea is indestructible, that is how robust it is and it is the bedrock of the capitalist system. And I might add also the bed rock on which the idea of real meritocracy is premised on. And not the bullshit ‘the one that got away’ bullshit version that is so often forwarded by the custodians of power. Now this people are turning it on it’s head!
If the government and their hanger on’s say that if SME’s die then the economy will be negatively affected and that is not fair. Then I say, where has fairness ever featured in the political theory of the PAP? When a man is sick and he runs his medisave dry – do you see shorty Khaw rushing breathlessly and saying to everyone, aiyoh, we need to help him….it is not fair. No! The government folds it arms and says, we cannot create a moral hazard. We cannot undo our Asian values of self reliance blah blah. So why are they bending heads over heels now to help the SME’s?
Do you think the government has suddenly knocked it’s head and discovered a heart?
Do not be naive! The only reason why the government is prepared to extend welfare to SME’s is they stand the most to benefit from both rental and tax revenue. Don’t believe go and find out who is the biggest landlord for industrial and commercial space. Go!
That is my call a spade a spade opinion of how I see the internal workings of a vampire state. It is cold and calculated and deliberate!
That is fine. But let me ask you a question. What is the goal then – is it to keep the coffers of the governments filled or is it to create a sustainable means to ensure that natives can gainfully work towards a higher quality of life?
If the goal is higher quality of life – then those SME’s who cannot thrive in an environment of cheap labor should be allowed to die off naturally. They have to perish. If they are artificially kept alive. Then tell me how can well managed firms grow to critical mass? This is why natives will never consider working for SME’s as they know only too well when they join such an outfit – they will go nowhere.
But if you go to other global cities you will find that the best brains will usually opt to join start up’s instead of opting to work for dinosaur firms like Temasek. Do you know why? Because they know intuitively that they are buying into a good thing cheap. It’s not so different from buying shares of Apple when those guys were just tinkering in garages and trying to make stuff work with superglue and duct tape. There is a lot of excitement there.
Why gentlemen? What accounts for this disparity in attitudes?
Let me put it this way. Let us say there are three commercial farms in Punggol. Each of them has been given concessions of 5 hectares.
Firm A has streamlined their operations to do with dramatically less cheap labor by investing in automation and scientific farming. The others are still relying on truck loads of Bangladeshi’s and can’t plant for nuts.
Now with this salary top up. How can Firm A now expand his business – he cannot. As firm B and C can now do exactly the same this time with native workers. The 40% top up makes this possible. That simply means they will never go out of business even if they are inefficient or for that matter even have two brain cells – that also means, Firm A will always be stuck with only 5 hectares. He cannot expand! What the fuck can u do with 5 hectares!
But if they are allowed to die off naturally. Then Firm A now has 15 hectares. In Singapore that is big. Now you can wear a bushjacket. It is now able to leverage on the economies of scale. It can now hire agronomist, researchers and perhaps even begin to hire more native PMET’s as it is now setting it’s sights globally. It can now spread it wings and even diversify regionally and internationally to go beyond the constraints of just 15 hectares. It is no longer a 5 hectare kampung hero.
Now tell me gentlemen, since we are all betting men in this forum, except that half man who started this thread: which firm do you think stands the highest chance of paying out a higher salary to the native worker after the end of 3 years and beyond?
I rest my case gentlemen.
Gentlemen I think what we need to do here is be more circumspect whenever we hear people saying that we should not allow firms to die. Or that this will affect our economy. Or even if they wax lyrical about how enlightened the government is.
As it could well be, when badly managed firms are allowed to die off naturally, then. And only then can the real winners emerge.
This gentlemen, I suspect to be true of firms as well as political parties as well.
Thank you Gentlemen.”
February 28, 2013
]Nothing for the middle class this budget. Nevermind. Never expected much from those useless buggers any way.
Do take the trouble to try this excellent recipe for Sunday breakfast. Better still, wake up before wifey and the kids and surprise them. Trust me….I cook…I cook everyday and this is a great recipe. I mean it – it’s truly excellent!
Besides now that it’s virtually impossible for the middle class to own a car. What else is there to do on a Sunday morning…gone are the days when I would wake up really early and buff the car. Poof! One stroke of the pen and it’s gone with the wind! All I can say is, it’s a great kick off to a higher quality of life! Thanks for nothing again eight ball!
Folks that is the end of the story and road.
“Look here Gentlemen. We should all be celebrating. At least we all still have our trusted horses where we are squatting! I cannot tell you how important it is for everyman to own a car. A car is not just a machine. Only women think that way. To me it is inconceivable to live without my horse. Life will literally cease to have meaning without my landcruiser. I am not kidding. In life you will find there is a holy trilogy for all farmers – land, horse and woman. If any of this is missing then the man is incomplete. Life will be incomplete.
Now this is just not trivia talk. This is man’s talk. You know when I was a young man I drove all the way from Calais through Russia to the Orient. I bought a clapped up Landrover for just £750. And it was an intensely spiritual experience – the idea of a man making his way through the vastness of a crumbling USSR just by himself with his trusted machine. This is really a story that is as old as time itself. The idea of freedom. The idea that you are not beholden to anyone and that you can just pick up and go. Even today when I drive on plantation roads. That same spirit of freedom is something that brings me an intense joy. At times when the conditions are just right – it’s not unusual for me to just lie indolently on the hood and just watch the birds as the sun sets.
I think if you’re young if you’re lucky enough to go abroad for your further studies. You should consider working a few years in either the US or EU after you’re done with school. Take my advice. Get yourself a roadster. It doesn’t have to brand new – third or fourth hand is good to go. Do it up. Get your hands really dirty. Just drive. Start at one point and keep going east, that kind of thing – feel the wind against your face. Feel the power as you split her in half on the straights – then you will know what I mean when I say to you that, it’s really a man thing. And if you do this long enough, then you would know why a real man is really passionate about his four wheel horse.
All that is now gone….poof!….gone. A whole generation now is going to grow up and never ever experience the thrill and excitement of fellowshipping with their machine – they will never ever know what I am talking about when the read this. It would be something that they can never relate to at an intensely spiritual level.
I think that is very sad.”
February 27, 2013
Every week. Once a day, for the last 5 years. I will wake up at 4.45 am and hit the extensive network of plantation roads and touch base with as many smallholders, harvesters and kampung folk as possible.
This is the equivalent of my version of Kissinger’s diplomatic theory called “realism”. I find that this is the most effective way for me to keep abreast of the prevailing ground sentiments along with enlarging my sphere of influence to build a solid relationship with the community.
Most of the time I just listen to their complaints, gripes and rants. If I can use my influence to help. I will do so. If not, I will take the trouble to follow up to find someone either within or outside the community to make it easier for those in my community to turn the wheel of life. Either way the goal is to make sure those who I touch base with always know that – the man who lives on the hill is a brother, friend, father and counsellari.
I have found that there is really no short cuts to winning the battle of the hearts and minds. One simply has to be diligent, attentive and incredibly patient to sow the seeds of good will. This requires balance and a certain acumen in being able to judge people along with manage the risk - stretch yourself too far and you will come across as a NATO (No Action Talk Only) - play it safe. And people will just treat you like a cheap car salesman.
The tension in the rapport needs to be just right to come across as a man who can effectively palliate their fears, calm their anxieties and bring relief.
One day when the time is right. I will use this reserve of good will to good effect. I move against my enemies. They have been complacent. And have neglected the ground. When that day comes, they wouldn’t even know what hit them. It will be like Pearl Harbor.
Business is war!
“I never judge things by numbers. How many people do you think walked into a bookshop, bought and read from cover to cover ‘Paradise Lost’ when it was published? A hundred? Two?Three?
My point is providing there’s only one reader – the book is already working its way through the system – it’s like a seed that is planted. And it can only grow and grow and grow – and if the message is honest, true and good – then that tree can only bear fruit one day and be taken far and wide by the birds to grow more trees – that to me is how a school of thought and state of mind flourishes. This is a very agricultural way of seeing the world.
But I wish to stress to all of you that this is true of the lone blogger who is black listed and doesn’t get aggregated or even the man who writes with only his sister and cat logging in to read the sum of his thoughts – to me it has never ever been a numbers game. As it remains the case of the man who soldiers on despite great hardships and odds that may even discourage so many.
So when people tell me only 3,000 people or 2,000 or perhaps even 1,000 people turned up in Hong Lim Park – then I say that’s enough - as what you always need to bear in mind is even IF there is ONLY one person who is prepared to stand up and be counted – then although what you really see is only one individual standing in rain - I say look carefully again – look at how many people are behind him. Only a fool will think this man is alone – as if you take the trouble to peer deeper into this picture - he carries the hopes, aspirations and dreams of so many who wanted to be there but couldn’t for reasons known only to themselves.
So if you were one of those who turned up in Hong Lim Park on that soggy and rainy day. Allow me please to take off my hat, bow respectfully, embrace and kiss you as a brother - as what you have done is carry so many of our frevent hopes, aspirations and dreams for a better tomorrow for our children, loved ones and close circle of friends who are still in Singapore - and for those of us who turn the wheel of life abroad. You have no possible idea how important that was to every single man…how could you possibly know….that there were so many hopes, dreams and aspirations that you carried with you…so very many that I do not think it can be a small thing at all. Not at all. How could you ever know….Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.
I feel, I need to do this – as I am a person who values the idea of community.”
February 26, 2013
Well to cut a long story short. The SME’s got helluva lot. Incidentally these are also the super rich who go to radio talk shows and tell everyone, it’s impossible to hire a dishwasher for 3K. So now to wean them off the opium of cheap labor. They are getting backdoor subsidies.
If you want to read further on what I really think about this crack brained scheme to reward firms that shouldn’t be in business in the first place. Do take the trouble scroll down to read the comments in this excellent post by gentrified citizen: http://jentrifiedcitizen.wordpress.com/2013/02/26/government-pays-employers-to-pay-employees-more/
(I can’t link it as I am camping out in the field using a satcom and it doesn’t have hyperlink features, so u have to copy and paste to search for it)
As for the poor, the usual run of the mill trinkets albeit with improvements with one noticeable change – the influx of blue collar foreign workers will be curbed.
The middle class? Nothing. Infact now the prospects of car ownership has just become a forlorn dream. As for job prospects, if u r in the middle class- there are no curbs on foreign professionals – happy go lucky immigration policies in this job category remain firmly in place with no apparent changes.
IF YOU CAN SPOT ANY CHANGES TO MODULATE THE INFLUX OF FOREIGN PMET’s IN THIS BUDGET. PLEASE LET ME KNOW! I CAN’T SPOT IT. CORRECTION: I SEE NO RESTRICTIONS ON REGULATING THE INFLUX OF FOREIGN PROFESSIONALS! NONE WHATSOEVER!
That simply means, if u r middle class. You are likely to see no let up on the cut throat competition for professional jobs. You might also consider kissing good bye all hopes of hedging your job against run away cost living as well. As an unmitigated immigration of PMET’s can only exert a downward force on salaries furthering hollowing out earning capacity. Maybe it is time to ask yourself – while u r reading this. Maybe it’s time to ask yourself, why did u even bother with university?
I wonder what’s the underlying wisdom of the restricting blue collar foreign workers. And not following through to do the same for foreign professionals? Will we get any further clarification? Don’t hold your breathe, as both the govt and the apparatus of mass assimilation have never ever seen the need to differentiate between foreign blue collar workers and professionals. No prizes for what accounts for this persistent omission. Maybe they think we are all stupid and don’t have an eye for detail? Or maybe they just like to insult our intelligence by lumping all foreigner job seekers under one generic heading.
It’s fair to conclude the middle class have really got absolutely nothing out from this budget unlike the super rich and poor. This should prompt us all to ask why? Did the median income of native middle class professionals go up last year? Nope. Infact if one adjust for real inflation (which for some incomprehensible reason eight ministry computes by eliding the run away cost of cars and property) – there has been no discernable benefits to the middle class. It seems this segment of our society have lost out once again. Or could I be wrong? Unlikely lah!
To me it’s a great travesty of justice and logic when the middle class are somehow lumped with the rich and famous like those millionaire ministers.
Am I surprised? Not really. In truth, I never expected much from this good for nothing outfit. Coming to think of it. I am even getting used to it.
However, I am sure in the days to come – the propagandist press will try its best to herald this as yet another happy budget where even the already marginalized middle classes should have something to cheer about.
But I known better. There is nothing to be happy, if you’re in the middle. You are truly squeezed again!
“You mean, you want me to give you a studied and educated response on whether I think this budget fulfills the aspirations of the middle class? Sure I think that I can do that without too much difficulty….fuck all! Yes Gentlemen….fuck all sums it up perfectly!”
Recently in the catacombs of the temple of reason in Primus Aldentes Prime – captured by the Tiberius class star cruiser KDD Bukit Timah.
February 25, 2013
“At the time I promised Dotty that I’ll stay in Singapore forever. It had very little to do with honesty. And more to do with prescribing a cure to her melancholy. You see Dotty had premonitions – I know this sounds crazy.
But she believes that I am half bird. Maybe it was the aching way in which I looked up at them when they piroutted and danced in the air. Or perhaps it was the yearning in my eyes when I looked jealously how they would stir restlessly before taking off for their marathon flights across the Straits.
Whatever it was. I made a promise to Dotty that I would never just take off like a bird – but no sooner had I had made such a commitment, I found myself stricken with regret. It was a sudden, involuntary response, a jolting attack like knowing that it was probably a promise that I could never keep.
And since I wanted no part of those things that required staying such as sinking roots. I must have sabotaged all hopes of remaining in Singapore for good. From that point on, in fact, I did nothing to improve my lot, refused even to lift a finger to sweeten this whole idea of staying in one place. God knows why I behaved liked that. I invented countless reasons at the time, but in the end it probably boiled down to the despair of knowing deep inside – that I could never keep my promise to Dotty.
In the face of impossibility, I felt that drastic action of some sort was necessary. If only to establish the point that I can never keep my promise to Dotty. Not because I didn’t have to resolve to keep my promise. Rather conditions existed then that made it impossible for me to stay in Singapore – imaginary reasons…outlandish reasons….ridicolous reasons…. the water tasted funny…there was something sinister in the air….someone was deliberately putting mind bending drugs into my morning coffee…Starbucks in Singapore was a covert organization funded by the CIA.
There was this period when I would always find fault with Dotty and the whole idea of how she had made me miserable for exacting such an unreasonable promise from me – and all the while, she bore the brunt of my petulant unreasonableness stoically…bravely…magniminously…and even understandingly. She fucking put up with my unreasonableness in a way that I can never imagine any other woman doing – maybe it was the idealism of a matured woman who simply knew that I was just trying to fashion to an excuse…any excuse to weasel my way out of the promise – and she simply didn’t want to give me any excuse to break my promise. Not even if it meant. Whenever we were together. I always gave her grief.
I really don’t believe anyone knows how childish and petulant I can be. Or even how ruinous I can be to the whole idea of felicity, happiness and hope when I put my mind to the whole idea of killing a good thing. That was really the point when I decided that the thing I should do was nothing: my action would consist of a militant refusal to be happy whenever we were together. This was self destruction raised to the level of an exquisite paradox – and elegant theory where I would keep on reminding Dotty that I am not happy as she had been unreasonable for exacting such a demanding promise from me. I would turn my life into a giant J’refuse.
And soon the image of that dark though gradually lured me in, seduced me with the simplicity of its design. I would do nothing to support the idea that I could stay in Singapore. I told Dotty that I needed to earn more money – she said, it was unnecessary. As her grandfather had left her a largese – and she often said, “money is the least of our problems..there is no need for you to go off prancing in the jungle pretending to be a farmer!”
I can’t begin to tell you how frustrating it was for me to speak to Dotty during the last few weeks before I left Singapore. Having a conversation with her then was like playing catch the ball with someone who could even catch a really bad throw. And every time I tossed her a curved ball – she would just catch it effortlessly and toss the ball back directly at me again, making it almost impossible for me to miss the catch. I really don’t think anyone knows how frustrating it was for me – and at that point I remembered saying to myself that all that I wished for right now was to sprout wings and fly away.
Eventually that was what I did – I left one night. I never even said good bye. I just slipped away one morning like that character in that movie – Benjamin Button.
Dotty never stopped me. She probably knew deep inside her heart, this day would come. I was after all the world’s most irresponsible man.”
February 24, 2013
I don’t think I’ll ever met another woman like Missy Dotty again. You see it’s really very simple why I can say this with such high degree of certainty – as whenever I am with Missy Dotty. She is the only woman in the whole wide world that I never need to apologize for the strange way I regularly see the world. I don’t feel the need to be a apologoest, to hide my affliction – my strangeness…awkwardness…and what I can only describe as peculiarity.
As in all honesty, I have never ever met a woman whose only preoccupation in life seems to be only to see the world through my eyes.
I cannot begin to describe to you how incredibly edifying that is to me - it’s a bit like coming across someone and saying to yourself, “OMG, I am not alone after all! There are people like me!” In truth, its never easy for me to experience this sense of oneness, fellowship and telepathy with others. As I have always known deep inside, I see the world slightly different from all other men.
I cannot begin to describe to you, how truly happy we were whenever we were together just sitting for hours on top of some skyscraper amid row after row of ducts, vents and pipes just watching the care free flight of birds. It was as if both us had somehow resigned ourselves to live this strange sort of existence where we were both just consumed by the weird idea of spending as much daylight hours watching aimlessly the care free flight of birds. We were both strangely alive to the world around us, yet not fully immersed in it, still feeling our way in this strange unfolding world, not unhappy, nor happy, but nonetheless slowly changed by the subtle forces of the images dancing in our heads all the time.
If you didn’t know better. You would have probably thought we were crazy back then. Both of us – crazy as bats. And no one would ever guessed. They all thought we were successful, well-adjusted mature professionals holding down responsible jobs. It’s strange even now when I think about it – how people looked up to us, when deep down we were both just so incredibly peculiar.
At that time, I had a habit of breaking illegally into rooftops of skyscrapers in Raffles Place. Most time I would climb up like a spy to the top and call her to join me when I had managed to open the door. At other times we would impersonate tradesmen by dressing up in dirty overalls and carry ladders, buckets and a dirty bag and go through the hassle of conning our way all the way up to the rooftop.
That’s why when Missy Dotty married Dan the dentist. I felt that I had lost not only a friend. But a confidant , kindred spirit and soulmate as well. I felt that lost acutely. And I reacted to that vacuum by holding on stronger to those memories – I believed, as long as those images of me and her replayed in my head like some projector and were still before my eyes, it would be as if I had somehow resurrected her from the depths of oblivion, as if I had been momentarily brought back her back to life by just the simple act of remembering.
If something inside is broken, I just feel the need to put it back together again with my own two hands – that’s just my way of coping. My way of making things right. I realize it’s a weird way. A way that I feel that only one or two people in this whole wide world can really only understand.
A way that I know deep inside my heart…Lily can only understand and no one else. In this sense, there are so many similarities between Lily and Dotty. That is why despite all the trouble….a part of me doesn’t want her to ever leave. In that sense, I don’t think it’s one way. No. Not at all. As in truth, it’s very much a two way street. I want to be honest. I want to be true. Otherwise this journal would mean very little.
February 23, 2013
A long time ago before I decided to marry a decent girl and settle down in Singapore to lead a normal and unassuming life. I turned the wheel of life in Uganda as a Cocoa farmer. I was happy while it lasted. But it ended tragically. I never told anyone about it. Not even my wife.
Only Missy Dotty knows about this missing chapter of my life. One day she ferreted a photo of me standing beside a European nun in National Geographic.
Even now after so many years, it is not unusual for me to dream of Africa from time to time.
In my dreams of Africa, I am always wearing flared breeches, knee high polished riding boots and my Khaki open neck shirt - as I stand and look on from a hill at my plantation that is consumed in a fiery inferno. There is nothing I can do to stop the carnage. All I can do is watch helplessly as the militia close in.
It’s always been an angry dream where I always wake up with my fist clenched and covered in cold sweat. Only this time, I was not angry at all – there was no fire, militia, tanks, pillars of black smoke or even the faint smell of cordite.
Only Lily skipping happily in tall golden reeds to the sound of chirping birds and children laughing. What manner of sorcery is this? How is this possible?
Is this my dream? Or could it be, I am in her dream? Is that possible?
February 22, 2013
It’s as if she’s in some museum. Not any museum. But one that has managed to successfully summarized the sum of all my life works along with so many failures and she just looks on.
I guess it must have showed in my face as she placed her hand on mind reassuringly and smiled affectionately.
February 22, 2013
News that Singapore has plunged to 149th from 135th in the World Press Index 2013 merely confirms what I have always believed about the way news is wordsmithed.
Well done Mr Fernandez & Co!
I guess you could use it to decide whether you should buy car A or B. Or to decide to whether firm A’s offer is better than B’s, if you’re buying an endownment plan.
Having said that, that’s really as far as I am prepared to use a trade off. And one reason for my reluctance to take it further beyond that point is simply because it elides so much that it can only produce errors, if it’s applied to people.
It’s definitely not something that I would consider using to decide the optimum population to have in the year 2030. And it’s definitely not something that I will premise my decision on – as a trade off is really just a tool like a spade or power drill – it’s got no soul. So only a bloody fool will try to fashion a trade off as something akin to a justification or rationale.
If the imperative is to decide on the welfare of the masses. Then I would probably use a principled approach. As that’s the only way I know how to palliate many of the fears that will come from the whole process of trying to sell change.
I happen to believe very strongly that is one main reason why the PAP is getting so much flak – they simply don’t understand the limits of a trade off.
Maybe all politicians should spend some time in a plantation. Maybe if they do so, they will begin to see the error of their ways. Maybe then they will understand the word sympatico.
“The surest way to go belly up in commercial farming is to take the attitude – the best trade off wins the day. How do I know this? Simple the last person who owned the parcel of land that both you and me are sitting on – did exactly just that. He ran his plantation with the sole goal to make as much money as possible.
In the short term. I don’t deny, he surged ahead. But in the long term. He simply found himself buying into a whole lot of grief. And soon he started slipping into the red. Till he had no choice but to throw in the towel.
I wanted to know why this man failed. This case study was strategic to me. Because when you take over a failed business. Somewhere at the back of your mind. You never want to commit the same mistake that the last guy made. So that was really my motivation to find out more about the sequence of events that led to his failure.
The more I began to investigate. The more I discovered that his one biggest failure was his inability to develop a rapport with the local community. This fellow just did his own thing in a skyscraper faraway issuing out orders to his plantation manager who carried it out like an automaton. To cut a long story short. He alienated the local community to such an extent where it became almost impossible to maintain the requisite discipline to run an enterprise effectively. Theft was rampant. He did not get the cooperation he needed from the local community. Since his policy was the tender out his harvesting, pruning and landscaping to the lowest bidder – most of the work were given to faceless Bangladeshi workers. He brought so many in that it began to displace many harvesters in the local community. Their wages even nosed dived. Even their way of life was affected as many of these Bangladeshi workers started to hit on the local girls.
At the end his influence diminished to such a point where it became impossible for him and the local community to co-exist any longer. So he threw in the towel.
Now this case study prompted me to ask myself – do I need a philosophy to succeed in business? Because if I had to list only one reason why this fellow failed, it all boiled down to his mindless attitude of chasing profit at every turn and opportunity. He chased it to such a ridiculous end because all he had in his tool box was his trade off machine.
So I want you to understand when I say I needed a philosophy. This is not trivial pursuits or something resembling poetry. There’s a very serious intent here. One that is even jugular, if I am not to repeat many of he mistakes this fellow once committed.
I came to the conclusion I needed one. To paraphrase I couldn’t just run my business doctrinally or even in such narrow terms where I prioritize profit at every turn and opportunity. There had to be a balance between the quantitative and qualitative. The hard and soft. There even has to be room to even accommodate contradictions. So nothing is ever written in stone. They’re is plenty of room for give and take. If I give this year. I can reap back the next year in kind or something – that sort of arrangement.
At the end I settled on a philosophy that I called the way of the farmer. And this concept really had only had a few simple leitmotifs – the idea that we are all in this together for the better or worse. That was the rough outline, it was nothing fanciful. It was just very basic, simple and straight forward.
So whenever possible I will always try to benefit the local community first. Even if the price is slightly higher. For example my harvesters, pickers, farm hands and lorry drivers are all natives from the local community. They cost slightly higher than the Indonesian foreign harvesters. And at first this may not make any business sense at all. But I don’t have problems with theft. Since the harvesters are paid by tonnage. That means I get the whole community to police my lands for free. If anyone steals from me, they don’t just deny me the fruits of my labor. They also throw sand into the rice bowl of those who turn the wheel of life on my land as well.
I don’t deal with faceless workers. Unlike the previous owner who ran this plantation. Everyone who turns the wheel of life in my plantation. I know their wife, children and relatives. This is very important as it allows me network and extend my sphere of influence.
When I started this. I did not say a lot. I was just really focused on being consistent. As I had enemies then who were spreading rumors about me.
Now what I did not expect was this. After a period of about two years. It was a slow gradual process. So slow that if you ask when the shift occurred. I wouldn’t even be able tell you. But very slowly, I realized the local community elders would invite me to join them in their weekly meetings. With the Chinese merchants, landowners and petty traders I would met them for tea on a Wednesday morning to discuss local issues. With the Muslims after their Friday prayers we will sit beneath the shade of a tree on floor mats and do the same. With the Indians we will go to one corner during temple festivals and talk about serious things. Very slowly I realized that I could no longer just do my own thing.
It was as if I had suddenly found myself in a position where both my destiny as a planter and the community were suddenly one of the same reality.
Many people say that I am wasting my time. But I know they are wrong. You see my enemies. They don’t exist any more. All their lands now belong to me.”
February 20, 2013
No one in this planet does it better then the Koreans when it comes to pumping out tear jerkers – they are the indisputable Toyota motors of love stories; and when I first started writing love stories; they were simply inspirational in every way possible – from plot, cadence, speed and texture – I copied these masters unabashly, now you know why the brotherhood press love stories division is so prolific – some may balk at all this; and say most of these yarns are nothing more than superficial rehashed Mills & Boons reads – I disagree; the plot may seem trite only because you’re distanced by your prejudice and ignorance – but once you immerse yourself in them and get beneath the triteness and invest your heart and soul in them; they’re astonishingly beautiful, sensitive and heart warming in every sense – many years ago before the internet age began; I lost someone who was very dear to me to lymphatic cancer – she left suddenly and it left me with this incredible hole in my heart which I can only describe as an eternal abyss – at first, I tried to bring her back to life in the virtual; I scoured the world for the best animators, best mathematicians, best illustrators; money was no object; I even once stormed a replica of Taj Mahal with 100 Sardokhan elite troops to create paradise for her - despite their very best efforts no matter how real they fashioned her; they were never able to capture her essence; – her spirit always remained elusive and afar; and that hole in my heart was never ever filled – it was only when I sat down and began to write love stories and started churning them out like a cookie factory; that I began to understand for the very first time in my life – how pain and joy are in fact one of the same reality; and the rest is really grist to the mill; as I had to immerse myself into my characters and experience what they really felt – and with that came a deep spirited understanding of love and courage.
Someday my animators will get it right and she will smile the way I remembered her – till then while the story goes on – somewhere in amid the tears and laughter, there will always be a place called paradise and she will never be far away from me.
Happy Birthday Sarah,
Darkness forever – I’ve see you in my dreams.
“The planters life is a very macho way of life. What you need to understand is this attitude is very climatic to the plantation industry. The idea of the alpha male man. The rugged individual. The man called Shane. All these qualities are still venerated and given their dues only in the planters world.
In the planters world cute yellow beetle Volkswagens, skin obsessed metrosexuals and men who fear the elements. They don’t exist. There are no grey zones in this world. Men are men. Women are women. Fainting like dueling is still very fashionable. Ceilings in plantation houses are still built 15 foot high exactly like in the days of the white raj. There are strict protocols governing conduct, behavioral norms and along with social conventions – if I visit you and the sun goes down, it’s given that you would stay the night. If you’re a gentlemen. You would hand me your revolver to lock in a safe.
It is a elegant world. A world that still has it’s quaint quirks like a nervous tic – technology is still frowned on. Air conditioners give way to Al Fresco. Women are never seen SMSing. They still gossip in tea parties. They still wear hats with Doris Day flared skirts.
Men on the other hand all wear only bush jackets and smoke a pipe. Play billiards and still have the privilege of enjoying men’s only reading rooms where women are strictly forbidden to enter – naturally we do so many things there except read, that I prefer not to divulge to save myself from an unnatural death. Men still sit on long benches like schoolboys shoulder to shoulder and chow traditional steak and kidney pie for lunch and fish on Fridays – they do so in a wood paneled hall with stern looking planters of lore depicted in oils bearing down on them – a hermetically sealed world that even the digital co-axial wire has yet to whirl it’s way into. An old world.
It is an elegant world. But it’s also a hard and brutal and relentless world. A world that if a man is not careful to treat like dynamite that had passed it’s expiry date can just blow him up.
I’ve seen many men who have become monsters in this world. Men who are so ruthless that they are even prepared to do anything to win, no matter what the cost.
And the more I marinade myself in this world. The more I find myself changing like a man who one day discovers a rash only to gradually see it spreading all over his body with each passing day. I feel as if sometimes many humanity is like feeble body before a hail of arrows. I try to hold on, but its so hard….I let go…I tell myself…only for this time. But I find myself going there again and again.
This is the part gentlemen they didn’t teach you in Harvard Business school. The very idea that by just living, breathing and shitting as a businessman, it can subtlety change your outlook in life. It can make you such a hard man. Such an asshole even to those who love you and you should never treat like shit.
So this idea of writing love stories for me like my lone violin concertos in the dead of night are really my only means to nourish the softer side of my nature. It’s my only way to ensuring that the good side of me doesn’t die in this hard, macho and muscled world.
People say it’s a waste of time. But I never see it that way. I’ve led expeditions deep into the jungle. I’ve seen how men can turn into animals after they get used to wearing the same underwear day after day even if that’s the only thing they wear – I’ve seen whole tracts of lands being sliced up like meat and thrown to vultures in the conference room where I hold my tongue as I fear to speak my mind. I know how it is to feel so small and insignificant like an ant before plantation owners who seem to own a continent of land.
I think the only drawback to my musicality and bad habit of writing sappy love stories is that it makes me stand out in the planters world like a distressed fish. Maybe that is why I seem to attract so much problems from rich plantation mistresses.
I can just tell sometimes by the mischief in their eyes when they look at me.
Do you think it’s my bush jacket? Should I get a baggier one? I really think that’s the only draw back. Other than that, I think every man should really take the whole idea of nourishing and feeding his softer side seriously – like going to the gym or brushing your teeth. As I happen to believe that if you’re really serious about making the world a better place than you found it. Then that goodness has to first come from deep down inside you. only then can it work it’s way outwards to light up the whole world. I really don’t see any other way how it can be done! That’s just the way I see it. So to me it’s never just a waste of time. Never!”
I call a spade a spade. That’s just how it comes across to me – I have to admit it’s a pretty effective way to engineer consent. Only I don’t agree with this great over simplifications as it smacks of McCarthyism.
Besides if we use this shitty yardstick as means of gauging whether a person harbors a morbid fear and irrational dislike of foreigners. Then I am probably xenophobic as well, so is Lucky Tan, Yawning bread along with every single blogger, person and every political outfit that doesn’t agree with the White Paper. Perhaps even 99.9% of natives are xenophobic as well.
Now how much sense does that make? I think when we frame the issue of xenophobia in this context. You can all see how it can be used as a tool to muffle free thought and to corset free speech. That is really my point.
How convenient. No guesses whose kosher and not xenophobic. Yes, a very intelligent way to make a case….very smart indeed.
There is only one problem, it simply can’t take off. As its full of shit. And that’s the truth and nothing but the truth.
Now you know why Gilbert Goh wrote what he wrote. How coincidental.
February 19, 2013
The mood was very tense in the conference room. Seated across the table before me like a row of canons were the oil mill barons. As usual, they have offered me lousy terms. From time to time, I make threats that if I don’t get the price that I am looking for then I’ll simply go elsewhere.
But they don’t seem be afraid this time. Maybe they’re calling my bluff this year? I start to shift uneasily in my chair. Suddenly the panels in the oak lined room begin to close in. My throat begins to feel stiff.
One of the oil mill barons sniggers, “who are you going to sell it to?” Another adds in, “the nearest other oil mill is 250 miles to the West!”
My mind races through the options. I don’t have any pairs. It’s poker. And they just upped the stakes. I try weasel myself out and suggest that we relook at the price six months from now. One of the oil barons slams the table, he tells me the offer is only valid for this meeting and should I walk right out of the door, then the next offer could be lower. The others nod their heads gleefully.
At that very moment the mighty mistress of Tanah Merah estate strolls in regally. Everyone stands up – she holds out a cigarette expectantly and one of the oil barons rushes to offer her a light – she tells the oil mill barons casually, that she’s considering allowing my lorries to past through her extensive network of plantation roads - she goes on to drum it in that she may consider bankrolling another oil mill in these parts since they seem to making so much money out of simply processing oil palm bunches. They try to reason with her. One of them even appeals to the memory of Lily’s dearly departed father.
But she is adamant….she is unmovable like a mountain….as the largest plantation owner in the region, she has the final word on the matter.
The rest of the oil barons suddenly capitulate, except one. A chubby man who has always considered me an upstart. He tells Lily in a tone of familiarity that she shouldn’t be taken in by my delectable charm. The mighty mistress of Tanah Merah estate glares back at him with a “how dare you speak to me…” expression and reminds him who he’s talking too – he melts away like an ice cube on a steamy hot road. Lily leans over the table and looks at the figure they have offered me. She balks and says to them mockingly, “he might as well sell them to me. At that price even if I buy it here and sell it to the mills in the West, I can still make a profit!”
She amends the figure. The fat chubby oil baron offers his pen nervously. The other oil barons shift uncomfortably but they say nothing this time. All the while they look at me with dagger eyes. They must need her business more than they need mine. They can’t afford to anger the mighty mistress of Tanah Merah estate to the West. Not even the wise in these parts. It’s just plain suicide.
This year I am safe it seems….I have managed to get a good price for my oil bunches. But what about next year? Will they call my bluff next year? I struggle somewhere in my head to find a place where I can gather all of myself back again – you see I really didn’t expect Lily to come in like Joan of Arc and save the day. As I know only too well, it’s impossible for my lorries to make the journey to the West during the rainy season….it’s simply impossible….God knows I have tried…. I have to find a way.
Somewhere amid these thoughts smoking in my head, I see Lily standing majestically in the center of it all. Soon that all too familiar sinking feeling begins to invade me. I can feel their tendrils whirling into my flesh. A feeling where I can’t help but believe that I have been somehow appropriated – emasculated even. Only a real man can feel this wave of shame like a hot blast of air – I felt like a kept man then – I could tell from the quiet look of satisfaction from the expression of the men seated opposite me that they too were relishing this moment. And with these thoughts, I am once again reminded again how weak and powerless I am before these mother fucking oil barons! And how I am forced once again to hide like some child behind a skirt of another powerful plantation mistress to save myself from been bullied – suddenly at that moment, I felt so very small before all these giants.
I am was so angry, relieved, happy, sad and confused that the only thing I wanted to do then was to disappear.
February 19, 2013
I have a feeling Gilbert Goh will be giving a speech in the Rajaratnam school not very long from now.
“The Internet brigade likes to believe that no one can read their plans and designs. What they don’t realize is even before they decide to do something like this. We already know about it.
No I do not believe Gilbert Goh is so stupid as to disregard the importance of coming across as politically correct! Frankly, I do not believe anyone who is organizing an event of this size and importance can possibly hold to the idea that they can even come across as xenophobic or bigoted without at least alienating the mainstream crowd.
That is why I believe very strongly Gilbert’s puppet masters deliberately instructed him to sabotage this event by writing an offensive xenophobic post.
I want to be clear here. This is not the first time Gilbert’s handlers have deployed the SAME strategy. Frankly, I think they should change it to make it more interesting for us. Besides it’s no fun playing a game when you can read the person ten miles away!
The goal in this case is very specific and clear to me. This is not something that is random or sporadic. It was a cold premeditated, calculated and deliberate act on the part of Gilbert’s handlers to create a very negative impression of the organizers of this white paper protest. The goal was to discredit, character assassinate and neutralize the capacity to influence and persuade. To even perhaps create suitable conditions where those who may have participated in this event may even be ‘rightly’ labelled as destructive, anti social and part of the lunatic fringe. This I believe was the rough outline of their mission.
But I glad to say they failed with flying colors. Two days before the HLP white paper protest. We had already begun to warn many in the internet secretly about Gilbert’s plan. We interdicted quietly.
So his plans really came out to nought. As for Gilbert’s handlers I think they still can’t figure out why it didn’t go to plan – all they know is when Gilbert came out with his xenophobic post, the whole of the Internet came down on him like a ton of bricks!
I am sure if you (the perceptive reader) spend your time connecting the dots. You too will realize who stands to benefit most out of this idea of labeling the white paper protectors as just a bunch of deranged and xenophobic mob. Firstly, level headed, intelligent and reasonable people will begin to dissociated themselves from the protestors of the white paper. They will want nothing to do with such an unhinged movement – I believe very strongly that was Gilbert’s goal, to create that negative impression – that was why his handlers got him to organize it and to even set fire to it. This is not the first time that Gilbert has come up with these sort of initiatives – a couple of years back ago, he also came out with a anti cyber bullying site which we boycotted.
Let us just say I know more than I would like to divulge for the time being. So I feel its best to stop here. Maybe what the Internet brigade should really do is find out, who is the one who keeps leaking out intelligence to us. My feel is simple, never get a sheep to do a foxes job…never. It never ends well.”
February 18, 2013
“I get asked this question wherever I go. Yesterday I attended a small gathering arranged by a group of Singaporean planters to celebrate the closing days of CNY. And again I was asked this question.
But before we dive into considering this question. I believe it is important to take stock of certain realities.
Firstly, it is not easy to answer this question. Not with a propagandist press that seems to be only interested in forwarding their political master’s mind bending rhetoric whilst ignoring wholesale significant social events such as the recent protest in HLP. So in my view it’s important to first appreciate that you will probably NEVER get a full and detailed analysis from the likes of the MSM as to whether things will get better, worse or remain the same if you happen to be in the middle class in Singapore.
The only reason why I felt the need to mention the biaseness of the MSM is to underscore the scarcity of the truth in our age. We are truly living in an age when nothing can be trusted any longer. Believe nothing merely because you have been told it. Treat everything as suspect no matter where it comes from. Even what I am about to share with all of you should be given this treatment – only after rigorous examination and analysis should you consider it as the truth.
I will call a spade a spade. I do not believe the government of the day will change their dubious policy of growing the population by putting it on steroids to chase the allure of growth. The main reason why I do not believe they will ever change is because we are essentially dealing with a political hegemony who really only know ONE way how to grow the economy.
It’s like a one trick pony. Or a monkey who only knows how to pick coconuts. Or maybe a tradesman that if you open up his tool box all you will see is a hammer and nothing else – wonder no more why everything in the world looks like nails to them.
I think when you see it from this perspective then it becomes very clear why the government has decided to proceed with this idea of ramping up the population despite the general mood of dissatisfaction – if we are dealing with a world class outfit who knows three or four ways to grow an economy intelligently like the South Korean. German or even Indonesian planners – then there might be scope to explore other alternative ways. But that is not the general impression that comes across to me – all I see are politicians who simply do not have the requisite imagination to prosper in this age of globalization other than to grow the economy through the opium of cheap labor and hollowing out the middle class.
Now if you happen to be a professional and middle class in Singapore. Then you really need to ask yourself what has happened in the last 10 years in your industry. For example has salaries gone up correspondingly with the rising cost of living? Do you find that your salary is getting smaller and smaller? What about your quality of life? Can you afford to own a car?
Only you can really answer those question yourself.
And the reason why these questions hold the skeleton key to your original question is simply because what the White Paper proposes to implement today is not something new, innovative or even brave – don’t let any politician pull the wool over your eyes by telling you this is some super duper new improved strategy to grow the economy. It isn’t. Like I said, it’s a one pony trick, the same monkey act, the hammer in the tool box – as this is the SAME growth strategy that has been used for the last ten years deliver GDP growth in Singapore.
So from that performance benchmark who don’t need to impersonate Nostradamus and try to beacon out the distant future to the even ask yourself how will my life get better by 2030. All you have to do as a family man is undertake a simple analysis and ask yourself has the quality of my life and my family improved or gone down from the year 2003 to 2013?
Now if the answer is – the quality of my life has gone down significantly. Then HOW can it possibly get better from 2013 to 2030?
For things to get better the growth strategy needs to go through a overhaul – but like I said, since they are using essentially the same strategy to grow the economy – how can it possibly get better?
This if you all must know is how I made my decision. Like I said, I call a spade a spade. I believe, I have every right to my point of view. I only live once.”
“About five years ago when I first observed that turning the wheel of life in Singapore will increasingly get harder for the middle class family men. I posted some of my thoughts in YouTube. At that time, the only people who believed me were predominantly gamers. That was what I have always believed.
Through the years. I realized that these messages that I once wrote, stuffed in a bottle and threw out into the wilderness of the digital sea must have been read and acted upon by more than just the inner circle of the gaming community.
Yesterday, when I attended a small CNY gathering of Singaporeans. There was a group who had driven all the way from Muar Johor. This is like a 11 hour journey by car. When they saw me. One of them asked sheepishly “you must be Darkness 2007.” I said yes and one by one they shook my hand and some even began to sob quite openly. It was a very emotional moment that I had not mentally prepared myself for – I realized then these people had come all the way here just to thank me personally. As they too had once listened and acted on some of my cracked brained predictions. I should have felt happy. But I did not feel happy at all. Instead I was swept away by a curious mix of sadness and regret. As I knew deep in my heart I could have done much more. Much, much more. You see I had no possible idea that I could be so right. I had no idea that life for the family man in Singapore could have been so crushing .And at the time when I made the call to go out and search for the land of milk and honey to make a better future for our kids – even I myself wasn’t very sure whether things could get this bad for the average middle class family man in Singapore. It’s not my fault that I didn’t warn more….I tell you all it’s not my fault….I tell you all, I can’t be blamed for this. I didn’t know! I had no idea!
If I knew things were so bad. I would have spoken out louder then. I would have even taken off my shoe and banged the table so hard that everyone would prick up their ears. I would have made more YouTube videos. I would have written more. I am so sorry, I failed so many people. I am so very sorry. Please forgive me.
This was what I felt in my heart then, when I shook the hands of those men who had travelled so far just to see me.”
February 17, 2013
A simple social experiment on a lazy Sunday afternoon: How many of you believe that only 1,000 or so people turned up in Hong Lim Park?
Allow me to dive in by calling a spade a spade – if a newspaper doesn’t even report the news. Then thinking folk will eventually ask where should they get their news from? This is both understandable and natural.
Now you know why the Internet is such a big headache for the custodians of power.
And if “journalist” in ST don’t even see the wisdom of conducting themselves professionally according to the norms of their trade.
Then it is really only a matter of time before thinking folk will demand to know – WHO does the “journalist” in ST really serve and what might their goal really be?
They certainly aren’t playing their role of supplying accurate and timely news to the general reading public who just want the news and nothing but the unadulterated news. So one more time please……. Cui Bono?
“If you read the ST regularly. You may very well end up nowhere in life. As lies, exaggerations, mythologies and hidden agendas do nothing whatsoever to render clear the fog of living. All they can do is confuse, confound and bewilder.
Living is after all a very serious business. Do you all agree gentlemen?
It doesn’t matter whether you are a graduate or just a diploma holder. We all need to plan. Rich or poor. Or even resourceful or just lack initiative like myself. But again we all need to plan.
If you plan your life around only lies and feel good nanobites then what can only happen is that you will take a wrong turn. Your wife and children will suffer. Because you were bovine, derelict and lacked the wisdom to rid lies from your life.
Remember the sum total of a man is not where he graduated from or how high up he is in the public or private sector or even whether he is considered the one who got away or a no hoper.
The defining difference between an effective person and someone who keeps going around in circles just lies in how they regularly make sense of the world.
So if you did not dedicate your life to drive out the merchant of lies in your life. You are really not so different from a soldier who finds his rifle jamming during an unexpected fire fight. You never bothered to clean it! So don’t blame the PAP. Don’t even blame Warren Fernandez. They didn’t do anything to you. You did it all to yourself! You threw a spanner into your own wheel of life!
That gentlemen if you must know is why wise people never believe completely what they read in the ST. They usually take it with a warehouse full of salt. Better still if you can avoid reading it completely. I assure you. If you can stop reading completely for one whole year. You find that you will suddenly see the world much clearer. Things will suddenly begin to make sense to you. And you will be better prepared mentally to craft really effective strategies to feed that grand plan to improve your lot.
This is only logical. As since you see the world for what it is and not what others want you to believe in – no one can manipulate you for their own designs. Since you have taken the trouble, yourself to ferret out the truth and to incorporate into your personal Plan B to improve the lot of your family. You can only succeed. As when the truth is with you. Even if you happen to fail – the apple will not fall too far from the tree.
But if you are a family man who casually believes that you can just flip the morning newspaper while you munch on your wantan mee, roti prata and Nasi Lemak. And you even believe all these lies, disinformation and biased reportage can never accumulate like bad cholesterol to clog up your brain and even railroad you subconsciously to do, think and say things which would never come out from your own brain if you are really a free man.
Then I think come 2030, when your boss just turns to you and say, “well I think we may have to let you go. As we don’t believe you are competitive any longer blah blah blah.”
Then who is to be blamed when you end up as just another 40 something PMET driving a taxi or guarding a condo? Who is to blame brother? Can anyone in this 1,000 men forum supply me an answer?
No one here? Just a while ago all of you were shouting at the top of your voice! Now no one wants to step forward?
Gentlemen do you now see why the brain is the most important organ in the human body and must always be protected. Always be ring fenced with the wonder weapon of the truth seeking mind – the mind that will go where no mind dares to go – gentlemen, please do not take this too hard…you see it is very simple really…..just as we do not regularly consume rat poison or weed killer so as to keep our body in tip top shape. Why then should you be destroying your brain and warping your world view by reading one of the world’s most useless newspapers?
I think it is fair to say. At the end of the day, we are all masters of our own destiny. I think it is fairer to say all of us should at least bear some responsibility for the well being of our family instead of pointing the finger elsewhere at either the government or the MSM.
As those things we can never change. But why don’t you change those things that can be changed such as that space in between your ears?”
February 16, 2013
This is not about whether the White Paper makes sense or not. It is much more basic and fundamental – we all need to simply calm down. If we are not calm. Then at some point the divisions will simply be greater than the sum of what once united us and we will be weakened.
Brother will turn against Brother. Already I have seen this transpire in the virtual world. Yesterday I logged in to our game. I disguised myself as a beggar and watched two groups of border guards in Sigma 10 trade insults over their loud speakers.
‘Is it 6.9? What about 5.9? What is the optimum TRF? Is it 1.7 or 2.1? What will happen to the family man? Will he still be able to afford to own a MPV? What about his job? Will he face increased competition from foreigners? Will his salary go up or will it stay the same or even regress?’
Understand this. There is very little you can do to change these policies to put the population on steroids just to chase growth. The custodians of power have already made up their minds.
However there is something that you can do to improve the lot of your family. Especially if you happen to be middle class, professional and a family man.
You can plan for the future in a way that gainfully makes sense and not simply diffuse your energy like some meteorite giving all of itself to the atmosphere in one fiery burst – only to explode and disappear forever.
If you’re angry and your mind is smoking. Its very unlikely that you can plan your next move effectively. You just need to calm yourself down BEFORE you can plan what next to do.
You need to work on your Plan B. You don’t have much time.
I realize in life when we set expectations for others to fulfill our dreams and aspirations. Even if we believe these are rightful expectations. Then all we are really doing is setting ourselves up for the fall.
Its best not to expect anything at all and to just dedicate ourselves to bettering our lot with our own brains and hands. Better still if one is able to make that mental leap to regard the whole idea of government as optional. Or something that just needs to work around. Rather than to change a system that I believe cannot be changed – it makes for more sense to me to use that time, energy and focus to fashioning a Noah’s Ark for his loved ones and circle of close friends to ride out the tsunami of humans that will land in our shore.
Maybe we all need to develop the same spirit of bettering our lives. We need to learn from the FT’s who decide to vote with their slippers against their lousy governments by going elsewhere. We need to cultivate that same attitude of adventurism and rugged individualism to seek out greener pastures and a better tomorrow for our children.
We after all live in a globalized world. If others can come to Singapore. Why can we not go work in New Zealand, Australia, Germany, Shanghai, Jakarta, Kuala Lumpur, Tokyo etc etc.
I know this may come across as defeatist. But that is how it really is – if life deals you a crummy hand. Then deal with it. Work it through. Get a good plan B.
Its best not to fuck around any longer as if you have all the time in the world and start getting dead serious about working on your Plan B to better the lot of your family.
Do ONLY that and everything else will take care of itself. Mark my words. You do not have much time.
“When you know a thing for what it is. Then you will not diffuse your energy wantonly. Do you see a man talking to a wall? No. Why because it will always be a monologue no matter how you choose to splice it.
So tell me. If you are a lawyer, accountant, engineer. Or a professional man in any field of vocation. What do you think will happen when wave after wave of lawyers, accountants, engineers and professional land on our shores?
You don’t know do you. Now if you just rely on the propagandist ST to beacon out the murk. Then you are a bloody fool. As to them it is just an ‘emotional hump.’ Now let me tell you what I think about this metaphor – it is not so different from describing the Grand Canyon as a big sinkhole. Or lake Toba as a giant puddle.
To the thinking family who knows a thing for what it is. He will realize all this talk about whether we will have enough space to accommodate 6.9 million people is maybe only 5% of the problem. That is not a big deal. As supply can be computed to fulfill demand.
The 95% of the problem is what will happen to your job?
Do you understand now why all of you in this forum, including that fucked up penguin needs to wake up from your Rip Van Winkle slumber. You need to start connecting the dots – you need to discard the side dishes and just zoom in for the drum stick – you and only you alone need to start planning right now! Because if you don’t who the fuck is going to plan for you.
Let me call a spade a spade. Your dimension of your personal space in the year 2030. Will not be based on some calculations by some cross eyed scholar planner. It will be based on your earning capacity i.e money. The probability of you being able to afford to own a car in 2030 will not be based even on whether the government of the day is equitable. Again it is predicate on your earning capacity.
Do you all understand.
Conversely if your earning capacity goes down. Or your profession gets hollowed out by happy-go-luck immigration policies, then I can almost guarantee you space, mobility and idea of freedom will be stressed. As never forget Singapore is the land of the fee. And only the rich can be trully free.
So the solution is to earn more money. You know I am sure you all know Raymond right? He used to be a middle management banker. One day his employer handed him a Dear John letter. He was no longer considered competitive. But Raymond was not stupid. He reads the internet. He questions everything right down to its core. So when the shit hit the fan – he used his retrenchment and savings to venture into an enterprise abroad.
It wasnt easy for Raymond in the beginning. He plied to the North right up to the rice belts in Kedah and down south to Muar to sell his software and consultancy services to prawn and fishery farmers.
Today the standard of living for his family back home in Singapore is not affected – they kept the status quo.
Raymond needs to do this because his second son is autistic. They need to send him for special classes to treat him.
Do you all now see. Failure is not an option. Not for Raymond.
So soothed the way for Raymond. At the time he started turning the wheel of life – I had already established myself in the community as a man of consequence.
When he faced problems I was there. All types of problems, both of this world and the world that is the underworld that is never mentioned in polite circles. I was there.
Recently I met up with Raymond. And he asked me why did I go all the way to oil the wheel of life for him.
I told him that when I first came to these parts to turn the wheel of life. Although I could already speak Malay. I was still very green. And probably very wet around the ears. My first year was not so different from a man who walks and bangs over furniture in a dark room – and in that confusion and darkness. I met a plantation owner to the South one day. He stands in tanah merah like me. His son is in my cycling team. So there was a connection and he lubricated my wheel of life and the rest is history.
I guess gentlemen what I am trying to say here is – we really need to understand this is what it means to have a Singaporean core. I believe one day deep in my heart – one day if the Singaporean oore survives. It will not be so different from the Internationale Jewish idea where we may even find enclaves of Singaporeans in every possible continent. I believe that this core will be a repository of everything that is still good about Singapore. Being on the level, fair and square, keeping to your word, respecting the law etc.
Do you all understand Gentlemen? Do you all understand why this is so important that it is not strategic.”
to sell his which incidentally I consider to be a right of passage for any self respecting man – as man is a hunter and so the car is th
Excerpt of a conversation somewhere in the border region in Ortazan with a group of border guards in the planet Sigma Jasta 10 / relayed by the deep space scientific star cruiser KDD Warsaw – The Brotherhood Press 2013.
February 14, 2013
I know it is hard for most people to believe in this idea. As it’s so simple – but I believe nothing else can change this world for the better, except perhaps love.
Love has the power to cut right through the fog and seek out what really matters most. It reveals by rendering true what has always been there all this time. If a person is nasty. the chances are he or she wasn’t loved properly and it left a big scar on their heart – that’s how I see it when it comes to Lily.
February 12, 2013
Everything I am told has limits. Push a car too hard and the gear box might just give out. the same goes for words. I can’t describe how or even why Lily reacted the way she did. I just can’t. Not with the limitation of words at least.
Looking at her after I had just returned from hunting a piglet hog – I watched as she walked out and first laid eyes on the emerald lagoon in where X marks the spot.
She was just wearing my shirt and nothing else. For a moment she looked like a bewildered woman. Perhaps she was asking herself, “where am I?” – “where is this place that you have spirited me too?” Looking on at a spell bound Lily as she spun and twirled on deck half gasping and breathless. I did consider maybe all the girls in the world were divided into two classes: one category included all the girls in the world except Lily, and they had all the usual human feelings and were in every sense girls who have never been pushed to their limits. While the other class – Lily – who had always believed she had seen and savoured all that life could possibly offer now realized – she had reached her limit.
Perhaps now she realized, she had seen so very little of life and experienced even less of it. What after all could have accounted for the strange manner in which Lily behaved?
Yes…All she had was perhaps the illusion that she had lived all that life had to offer. Yes…that has to be it – what else can account for Lily’s complete haplessness – with this realization the finality of the idea must have permeated her soul that if she could be wrong about life – what else could she be wrong about? It wasn’t really so much the unspeakable beauty of X that really did Lily in. No that wasn’t it. It was the idea that someone would be prepared to allow another to enter into the inner sanctum of his soul so willingly, so freely.
Sure X marks the spot is breath takingly beautiful. But as I looked on at the woman who seemed to be taking in the sights and sounds like some hungry being who was just content to fill her empty heart. Perhaps it had more to do with Lily’s unshakeable belief giving way to a new awareness -Lily after all prided herself with the uncommon ability to read a man – that day when I had taken her for a spin in her new Lamborghini she had deliberately arranged it to remind that I was a man with a past.
Now that same air of assurance, superiority and élan that had always clung to her like some vapor had all but diminished – leaving a woman who was simply not even sure of the world any longer.
I wondered to myself as I stood there on deck watching Lily. If Lily could believe she could be wrong about life. Perhaps she could also entertain the belief, she’s wrong about me as well.
If you really need to know what drives women like Lily to deliberately seek men like me out to toy with in the way a cat plays mockingly with a helpless mouse. Its because men like me have always hurt her – that’s why when she sees me in a bush jacket trying to live the planter’s life – Lily believes I am living a sham life. In all fairness, she’s probably right. As there is very little that is real about me in the planter’s way of life – but that’s business.
I wanted to tell Lily there and then that I am not the man who once hurt her. I may carry myself like him or even have the same air about me. But I am not that man.
I am not even angry that she ruined my CNY plans with my family. I am just a man who wanted to share with her something pure and innocent. Something that is part of this world, yet stands aloof from it – like a cloud city or a floating world. Above all I wanted to tell Lily that all I want to do in life is to lead my life; to hurt no one, except maybe me should I screw it all up.
But I didn’t have to tell her all these things – soon Lily settled into a sort of calmness or resignation. I wasn’t clear to me what it was – only the look she flashed me before she slipped out of my shirt and dived into the emerald lagoon – suggested, she understood all these and much more.
Now I have to make a killer brunch.
1. 5 pepper corns crushed.
2. one whole tea cup of honey.
3. 3 table spoon of extra olive virgin oil
4. A bunch of curry leaf – just buy two bunches from ntuc fair price.
5. 4 table spoon of chili sauce
6. 500 grammes of pork sirloin (better still wild boar)
7. One cup of Hennessy cognac to flame
8. Shitake Mushrooms
9. English mustard
10. Palm cooking oil 4 table spoon (never use soybean oil, it makes you stupid. Choose palm oil all the time!)
11. One spoonful of full cream butter.
- Swirl palm oil into a shallow pan. Crush peppercorns (not too fine). Fry till flavor comes out. At half of curry leaves and fry till flagrant. Cut sirloin into two halves about 250 grammes each. Salt if required. Served flamed with Cognac.
- Shitake Mushroom sauce.
Heat up one spoonful of butter in a shallow frying pan. Add curry leaves. Once fragrant add 200 grammes of Shitake (I use the ones I find in X). Make sure the mushrooms are dry and not dripping with water. Paper towel them if necessary. Or they will come out soggy. Add a dash of cognac. Add more butter to thicken the sauce. takes about 45 minutes to thicken. Once fire is off. Stirr in one teaspoon of English mustard to give it a zing. Serve hot.
- Serve with baby carrots and sweet potatoes. If you cant get sweet potatoes. Go for Japanese potatoes.
1. Crush pepper corn and
February 11, 2013
X marks the spot is a pristine white sand deserted island smack in the middle of nowhere. Not just any island but one that doesn’t even exist on a map – and like all things that radiate uncommon beauty its ring fenced with hull splitting shoals.
Most sailors prefer to keep away from X. It’s way too dangerous to even try to moor here. They say the currents are way too strong. That’s because they don’t have the key to the front door – there’s only way into X, through a shallow reef that cuts through the bristling defence og this island that leads into a fresh water lagoon. There’s hardly a ripple – it’s paradise. There’s even a cave where I’ve fashioned into a hide out that looks out that tiny lagoon.
Now I just need to wait for the sun to come up to make the approach. I drop anchor and wait. Besides I can’t do all this alone. I need the my friends the swiflets to show me the way. Imagine a donut with a hole right in the middle – that’s where the lagoon is X. There it’s a tropical paradise with even a mini waterfall that drops 50 feet. Somewhere along the limestone walls is a natural cut out that’s roughly the size of a singles HDB.
You could even be nested there and not realize that you’re less than five minutes away from the sea – there’s only one way through the gates of paradise – through a hole that only appears during low tide – when the moment the swiflets fly out – I know its time to close in.
I light another cigarette and wait.
By now the skies are slowly turning paraffin inky blue. There’s still some time before day break. There’s just enough light now to make out the unspeakable beauty of where X marks the spot.
I am reminded, men like me always a need a place like this. Call it what you like, immaturity, premonitions of doom and gloom – it’s just place that I thought, I would need some day. Other than that, it’s just my private island – as no one knows there’s a lagoon in middle of where X marks the spot.
A place where if things go terribly wrong – I can simply hop on my plastic boat and sail here – I even have the finest case of Pinot in that cave cum condo. And of course a violin.
Somewhere in between these thoughts. I suddenly caught sight of the swiflets streaming out from the cut out in the limestone – it was still just before dawn – but I had to move fast, switching to diesel – I began to make haste before rose.
It was smooth as silk with hardly a ripple when I dropped anchor in the jade lagoon.
Now all I have to do is make breakfast and wait for Lily to wake up.