Then let them scramble and fall over themselves to take that crummy lunch lah. After all what are they really taking away? If all that, that lunch seems to hold out is the exorbitant cost of deteriorating health, broken relationships and perpetual grief. Coming to think of it, I’ll even help them load their truck with as much toxic lunches they want can providing their drive as far as they can from me – that is what intelligent folk will do.

Life can’t be so simple where to make a man run faster all that needs to be done is set his pants on fire. I don’t disagree that may have once worked. But these days people will just say dowan lah. We will go somewhere else for our lunches. Keep your fucked up lunch lah.

After all I only live once – and I don’t ask for very much except maybe a quiet life where I can be left alone to do my own thing – so why should I let people dig their spurs into me on the account of some fuzzy goal that I don’t really care to be part of?

I want you to understand this. My life is the living expression that I can do without your toxic lunch. I. We. Choose to go the other way and do that other thing – to live life under our own terms.

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“When work becomes so pervasive that it dominates one’s life completely squeezing out all other aspects of what life has to offer – then a grim dystopian future scape can only emerge – one where people will have no time for other diversions except maybe work, work and more work. In short life is reduced to a black hole where work becomes the beginning and end. And when this happens – something wonderful and beautiful must surely die.

As when the sum of life becomes nothing more than an endless litany – then surely one would have to ask the philosophical question: what is the purpose of life?

That is why I don’t really believe leaders really understand what they are really committing themselves too when they begin to tear down the whole idea of work life balance or choose to denigrate that idea to a point where anyone who chooses to go the other way is someone who suffers from some character flaw.

To me work is simply a means to an end. Nothing more or less. As I want to live life under my own terms. That I imagine is why I started my own enterprise. As I got really sick and tired of people trying to fit me into a mould. I so wanted a life where I could live my life without the usual distractions that I usually encountered in the work place – freedom from deadlines, freedom from politics, freedom from fear of losing one’s job, the freedom from judgement, freedom to experiment etc etc.

These days when I decide to sit in my rattan chair and do absolutely nothing in my plantation – no one ever dares to call me lazy, they just say, the boss is planning his next move. I work when I want to work and some days I just sit around in my underwear before a computer planning how to conquer virtual worlds to mine minerals to earn more e-money that people are only too eager to spend real money to exchange for to play a game. At times I am dead serious. At other times, I am just plain frivolous to the point of being petulant.

My point is my desire to live my life under my own terms is bigger than what I can hope to aspire to be in this lifetime – if anything it’s an indestructible idea that is and will be increasingly shared by many. Especially those who have seen how the rest of the world live, work and play. I hate to say this, but the genie is out of the bottle – so there is really no going back – so how far do you think you’re going to go with this pariah dog idea of putting spurs into into the hide of others just so they can stretch themselves the extra mile on the account of some bull shit goal that no one cares to even understand – look around you. Look carefully. Not through your crappy snoop lens, but really look with that all seeing eyes – how many people are like me? What drives them to do the things they do?

You don’t know do you? All you really have is numbers and a couple of sites that don’t seem to gel together. Beyond that it’s just a black hole.

That’s good.

Understand this! If anyone is dumb enough to dig their rusty spurs into me. All I’ll do is throw them off and sit on them.

Take your crummy lunch and go fuck off – we will go the other way, do that other thing. There is no going back. Above all we will all live life according to our terms.”

It’s hardly a matter of choice. If you don’t know this. You would probably never ever know why. But if you know. You know. Then it would hardly require any elaboration: why I say, it’s hardly a matter of choice. Don’t try to talk your way around it – it’s an armor plated case –  the perfect circular argument, that is.

In my planned second edition of the e-best seller ‘how to succeed in life like a Mossad secret agent.’ I will definitely include a chapter on how to play perfect golf in two months – I may even consider throwing a dinky golf towel to go with every purchase –  the definition of golf as I see it –  is no different from how to split fire wood consistenty – that is to say, if one wants to split fire wood efficiently, then it’s necessary to bring the edge down consistently on the same spot with just the right amount of kinetic energy.

This capability can easily be transposed to the bull shit game of golf to enable you to hit straight and long shot. Everything else is a side dish including….. form…it seems – the goal in golf is to ONLY hit straight and long shots. 

The politics of golf like all old and ritualized games takes it’s cue from ballet and dressage – and this suggest form is ONLY non negotiable if the golfers plays horrendous golf.

But true to all bull shit classical games where rituals and orthodoxy commands a disproportionate currency on their adherents – IF one able to pull off straight and long shots – then it seems – he is magically excused from having to keep to the corseted necessity of FORM. 

In which case that perculiarity or quirk is somehow explained away as arcanum in very much the same way how every golfing pundit seems to be able to explain why Tiger Woods never needs to hold his gaze at the ball (a golden rule of golf) – since his swing requires him to slide his hips earlier than other golfers to achieve those long and straight shots.

In short the politics of golf even provisions plenty of leeway for unorthodox swings providing one is able to consistently pull off straight and long deadly accurate shots – in which case, it may even be a status symbol, if a golfer is able to pull off highly accurate placement shots using an unconventional swing – as many golfers seem to be able to explain away this quirk as a function of how that player has not only mastered the traditional way how to grip, swing along with pull off a reasonably orthodox shot – but they will also invariably assume that he has accumulated enough secret knowledge on the game to allow him to synthesize his own style very much in the way professionals often customize and tweak their gear along with swinging techniques to get that remarkably best shot –  this is especially true for my case, since my golfing form is not only unorthodox, but it breaks every single rule of how one should go about playing good golf – but since I am able to consistently get the ball to land exactly where I want it to land on the fairway and the green without too much fuss, everyone assumes that my perculiar swing has nothing to do with not having been professionally coached. Rather they all assume (without a single exception) that it’s an accreation of having played the game for so long that I even seem to have developed my own unique style.

Gentlemen, this is how conceited the game called golf is. And this should not come as a surprise either. As that is how bull shit games often explain away anomalies – it takes it’s cue from Frank Sinatra’s score – “I did it my way.” That is to say, PROVIDING you are good at the game, the game has even provisioned an exclusion clause that is able to explain away how and probably why you swing the way you do – they can do all this along with assuming that I have been a member of the country club since a baby and have probably teed off in St.Andrews – as since I play the game with a quaint thirty year old set of irons that you can buy in ebay for less than $100 – they all assume that I am an extraordinarily low handicapper who doesn’t need the advantage of either technology or modern forging iron heads to get the extra distance – they all assume that the reason why this guy plays with a thirty year old set of clubs is because if he had the benefit of high tech space age graphite and exotic materials at his disposal – he would probably embarrass the rest of golfers with his panache and elan – so they all think that I am a jolly good fellow

My point gentlemen is the ilk of men who regularly play golf can confect all these myths and legends by regularly assuming what is there when there is infact nothing –  along with filling in the blanks with more false assumptions –  that may also explain why golf is the world’s most pretensious and overated game….having said that it’s also a necessary game that every businessmen should learn to play well.

The truest expression of – If you can’t beat them. You might as well join them.”  

(I developed this slow drive coupled with lightning speed hip and wrist turns which I often use in Kendo to help get the rest of my tribe into the country club. Now that I have got in. The goal is to get the rest of my tribe in / this is a remarkably simple technique that only uses two rules at most / notice how the wrist and hips suddenly accelerates on impact with the ball. Unlike traditional golfing techniques – I don’t use the main assembly of the body to drive the ball by coming down, rather it’s a whip effect like a how I would effect a slice with a Samurai blade – this method produces (1) a very consistent variable power train (2) remarkably straight,distanced and pin point accurate placement shots for positioning the ball on the green – I will share this techniques I have developed with all of you in the second edition of my e-book, “how to succeed in Golf like a Mossad secret agent.” I will also share golf club infiltration and intelligence gathering techniques along with how to eat, park, drink, socialize, kit up for golf without getting cancer of wallet and wasting time – techniques like how to network, get close to movers and shakers, dress and talk like an old man, how to leverage on uncle and auntie power to succeed in business as well. )

 

What’s the mystery. Sorry lah, no Da Vinci code there. Not to me at least. Coming to think of it – it would probably take me half a second to plumb for work life balance. Rather than to buy into the heart attack cum high blood pressure inducing lifestyle of work, work and only work. For what?

After all work is merely a means to an end. Surely the vapid goal to be more competitive (Cui bono?) can’t possibly take precedence over the raison why we have been put on this planet in this timeline- surely the goal has to be:

Every man must aspire to live life under his own terms.

If that is not the goal – then what is the goal of life itself? Is to nourish human suffering? Or to serve as mere tools to further the grand designs of others.

My point is it pays to press the pause button and stand back and ask ourselves what do we really want out of life? How much of ourselves are we prepared to put into the whole idea of work? At what point do we start to hold back?

Ants can’t do this. They don’t have the presence of mind to make those sort of calculations. That’s why they have no choice but to settle for just the daily grind of existence. Fortunately we humans can – and even choose to consciously slow down and go vote to live instead of just exist.

Surely there is more to life than just chasing abstract metrics like GDP. It’s a no brainer.

Like I said, there is no mystery to it…it’s as clear as day. The choice to live that is. And anyone who tells you different. Just hasn’t lived before and that’s the truth and nothing but the truth.

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“I agree completely with mini Lee. If possible, we should all read and experience life as broadly as possible. That’s why you should make it a point to visit really successfully communities like Munich, Paris and New York and see first hand how people over there live, work and play.

Why don’t you go to Munich and see for yourself whether the shops are open on Sundays and public holidays. Please go and take a first hand look for yourself – or for that matter visit France during the school holidays and see for yourself how Parisians spend quality time with their families.

I think if you take the trouble to do just that – then you will probably come to the realization, one reason why these communities are able to sustain their vibrancy, élan and panache from generation to generation is simply because the people have got their priorities right – and once you have the fundamentals right – right living can only follow along with all the goodies – that’s to say life becomes truly enjoyable where work is merely a means to an end. And it should never be confused as an end by itself.

Having said that, I happen to believe very strongly, leaders will always play a key role in articulating this whole idea of work life balance. You could even say they are jugular as they are very much figures of authority – so how they work, live and play really sets the cadence of work, life and play for the rest of us.

Now if you are unlucky to work with a fucked up leader who doesn’t have the wisdom, effectiveness and discipline to wrap his work up by five and head straight for home. Then how do you expect others to do the same? By what manner of means do you even give others the permission to do the same?

Do you see what I mean by setting good examples. To me, a leaders measure of his commitment to work life balance is evidenced through his own life – if a leader says one thing and does another, then these leaders have simply not fully internalized the essence of the whole idea of work life balance – they may say they want work life balance, but since they are so disorganized, sloppy and cinchai in the way they work, they never seem to rest when it’s time to rest or even play when it’s time to play – their life is just one perpetual grind. And if you are unfortunate enough to be led by such a good for nothing leader, then my advice to you is to load up on your personal insurance and don’t forget to take garlic pills daily. Because grief is definitely heading your way. I call these these highly fucked up people toxic leaders – as what they say and what they do just doesn’t gel at all – and they make the worst role models – wonder no more why so many people don’t take them seriously. As for the real and not bull shit high performers – they will never work for those sort of leaders. Never.

As for the wise leader he knows intuitively that to get the best out of his team – he needs to mindful that the goal in life is to make possible the idea that a worker can live his life according to his own terms – so he never pushes his men to exhaustion. Or do stupid things like expect them to stay beyond office hours. Besides it’s bad for moral and what you are really doing in the long term is sowing the seeds for the wrong type of work culture to support high performance – hence, this whole idea of putting spurs into people is really a very primitive way to solicit high performance – I don’t doubt, in the short term, you may get stellar results. But since its fundamentally unsustainable – it’s not only a lousy strategy. But if you happen to have people who stay in those sort of corrosive working climate, they probably dont have much a choice – in which case, they are hardly high performers.Besides if the pace of work is so fast that it doesn’t respect what’s valuable and important to the average worker or becomes so pervasive that it even takes away opportunities for workers to believe in the idea – work is merely a means to an end – then at some point work will simply be a chore instead of something edifying and stimulating – keep the pace up and at some point so many will simply get so disillusioned that they may even be turned off completely by the whole idea of work.

That’s why when leaders tell me – they work 16 hours a day. I know these are fucked up people who will probably go nowhere in life except perhaps in big and large circles. But when I see a leader who seems to be playing golf all the time and spending his free time taking his kids fly fishing – then I know, I am dealing with someone who has got his act (life) right down to a science – such a man is not a man to be taken lightly. And you would do well to cultivate his company. As there is so much to learn from him.

Think about. Like I always said, there is no mystery here… da Vinci code either. Its just plain common sense. As always, I give you the facts. You decide for yourself.”

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Actually this is quite a embarassing question that men usually ask of me (usually they tell me not to tell anyone, so I wouldn’t reveal any names, except perhaps to mention, this is a problem that Harphoon seems to suffer from).

For some inexplicable reason. The problem is especially acute in our fraternity. However I am happy to report the Interspacing Mercantile Guild has just conducted a one year research program into the causal factors for this phenomenon along with recommending ways and means to cure this problem with the proper selection of hairstyle, wardrobe etc etc – the good news is they have reached the unanimous conclusion looking girlish can be reversed etc etc.

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“If you happen to look like a girl that can be very disconcerting along with distracting in business.

As whether you like it or not – first impressions matter. One way to cure this affliction is to go down to Cash Converter and buy clothes usually worn by uncles who have passed on – remember my impersonation techniques in the best seller, “How to succeed in life like a Mossad secret agent.” – the goal is to leverage on the power of unclehood – this is what you have to do, sport a old fashion hairstyle. Like so.

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Do not try to dye your hair white – as my Indian barber tells me, if you do that, your hair follicles will die and you might end up bald as a billiard ball. Something to do with the corrosive effects of the bleaching agent. Besides its not effective, as the new hair that grows back will be black.

One way to accomplish an older look on the go –  is to use shoe white (you know the type that kids use to paint their shoes), after gelling your hair, dip the comb into this whitener and brush it a few times really fast – don’t over do it, or you will look like a flock of pigeons just bombed the shit out of you or bits will fall off when you talk to people and they will avoid you as they think you suffer from chronic dandruf.

Try to wear square glasses. As research shows that men who wear square glasses are usually perceived to be more mature and serious. That’s why undertakers and lawyers usually wear square glasses.

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Grow a moustache and goatee if possible that should add another 5 to 10 years.

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Dont make funny faces in public.

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Smoke a pipe.

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Drive a traditional businessman’s car. Do not go and modify it. Tolong or you will go right back to square one!

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Wear only traditional accesories. Please do not wear a Samsung smart watch, tolong!

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Try not to move, figid or mix around with younger people during social events. I find it helps to think about whether someone is going to sue the shit out of you for your last blog entry.Try to start sentences with the words, “young people these days……” whenever you are having with a tete de tete with mature and serious company.

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Consider taking up hobbies that only old and mature folk play such as golf. Watch this video. As I got alot of tips on how to come across as a more mature person to succeed in business. Remember the secret agent blends in to accomplish his mission.

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Providing better jobs and diverse opportunities to meet Singaporeans’ aspirations are the ultimate objectives of economic growth. Even as we remain open to foreign manpower to complement our local workforce, all firms must make an effort to consider Singaporeans fairly. ‘Hiring-own-kind’ and other discriminatory practices that unfairly exclude Singaporeans run against our fundamental values of fairness and meritocracy.”

No one in Singapore disagrees with that fellow. But how reasonable is it to expect conditions to improve to create a level playing field for the native looking to land a decent job in Singapore when there seems to be absolutely no solid commitment on the part of government to back up words with black letter law. 

Since these latest MOM initiatives lack that ONE vital element to make possible the issuance of punitive measures in a legal form on errant firms who practice empire building hiring policies – it’s fair to say this gives the aggrieved party hardly all scope for legal recourse or for that matter judicial review – so what do you really have at the end of the day? Maybe you should all go and ask that fellow?

As for me, I don’t really understand what’s the point of this whole exercise (if someone can explain to me like a baby how this is supposed to work, please write to me or better still phone me), if it is not back up with punitive measures – the best way to describe these sort of innitiatives that seem to suffer from a total lack of resolve is to perhaps to simply ask, ‘HEY! WHERE IS THE BEEF?” 

As always,  I give you the facts you go figure it out. Pleazzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzze don’t label me as cynical. If you want to do that supply me a cogent counter argument. As there is more where that came from. You all have no idea how much I am holding back!

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“When you create a system where there are absolutely no punitive measures to signal either seriousness of resolve or intent – then people WILL game the system. This is the first rule of gaming, we all know as the foundation discipline. The latest MOM roll out is no different, its a boh geh (toothless) tiger, positively gummy. 

Besides these are just employment guidelines – and guidlelines should NEVER be confused with black letter law –  they will always fall short of the rigor of black letter law. And make no mistake what is required is firm affirmative action, not panaceas dressed up as effective solutions.

So at the end of the day what MOM is really doing in my considered opinion is appealing to hiring firms to be “fair.” Now the way I see it, you would get far better results, by just handing out free mouse pads printed with Desiderata verses or better still get MOM to engage Deepak Choprak as in house consultant help them banish empire building in the work place – look folks, I don’t understand what is the objective of this exercise? How is this even going to be enforced in a way that solicits discipline?

This in my considered opinion is not the way intelligent and serious folk go about resolving what is obviously a very serious and intractable problem.

I think what we may all need to do instead of shouting out “whopeee!” is to press the pause button and ask ourselves, why are these guidelines necessary now? Think about it! They weren’t necessary before, so why did MOM suddenly feel the need to act now?

Something has shifted. Something must gone bump in the night.

So let us go through all the possible permutations. It is my considered opinion the reason why this is NOW necessary is because the custodians of power have detected an anomaly in their prehistoric radar i.e so many professional sectors in Singapore have been hollowed out of natives to such an extent where they no longer form the core any longer – that’s just another way of saying the intellectual raw material needed to sustain these vocational disciplines in Singapore by Singaporeans have been eroded to such an extent whereby foreigners now make up the core! Let me explain to you what happens when you lose that strategic beach head. They now call the tune. They now play the drum by which we all march! They have become the movers and shakers.

Now if you want to understand why this such a mother of a problem – and you happen to have only two cells of imagination like myself – then it pays to see the problem metaphorically or graphically – in my mind’s eye, it’s really not so different from one of those environmental horror stories we read about from time to time –  where someone who emigrates decides to take along a pot of colorful weeds from the old country to dress up their bonnet for Sunday church or brighten up the porch – suddenly, this innocous weed finds it’s way into the local ecology, begins to proliferate like some alien invader and proceeds to strangle out the local fauna till a tipping point is reached – when the local ecology is transformed to such an extent where the equilibrium goes out of synch and it can no longer replenish it’self. Then it begins to die out leading to an inexorable extinction event – it is conceivable this is the nature of problem we are dealing with in Singapore.

Do you fucks now understand how serious this is?

My point gentlemen is BEFORE you can even attempt to understand whether the solution will be effective. You need to first understand the nature of the problem. This is key. This is strategic.

This will allow you to scale the threats and opportunities to make an informed decision as to whether the latest roll out by MOM will be effective. In my opinion it is like trying to bring down a three metric ton wild elephant with a pea shooter. It’s not going to come around.

Am I exaggerating the problem? I don’t know. Am I right? I don’t know either. I have been wrong many times. All I know is, IF the catalyst for MOM action has anything to do with the erosion of the core that makes possible the very idea of perpetuating professional disiciplines in the Singaporean way – then it’s a very big problem – as losing the core is the equivalent of losing the strategic capability to steer a vocation or professional discipline according to your terms – that’s to say, if you want banking for that matter any vocation under the sun to have a Singaporean DNA just like how the Swiss are able to create impeccable time pieces which are markly different in their superiority to other watches produced by other nations – then what is needed is the intellectual reservoir necessary to create something like the Swiss Certificate of Chronometric Precision. Or to take another example, how the French have been able to differentiate themselves from new world wine through their uniquely French Appellation d’Origine Contrôlée – my point is these are core competencies which are all embeded in the national psyche.

To accomplish this what is needed is to nurture a critical mass of native intellectuals to be in power to perpetuate those disciplines under Singapore’s terms. Not to leave it all to the vagaries of the free market to somehow fashion this thing called competitive advantage – . Bingo! Did you feel the earth shake? Now you understand why neither Geneva or Bordeaux seems particularly interested in trying to squeeze 6.5 million people into a telephone booth – their custodians of power have a coherent strategy how to nurture the local talent to create a world class brand – ours appear to be clueless and have instead opted for steroid fueled growth through happy go lucky immigration in the hope that something spectacular will emerge. It will not.

The logic is not so different from our own game – where we create a hegemony or oligrachy to control the ebb and flow of e-commerce in the virtual – so if you happen to be an American or German, you can never usurp power from us – as we will make sure we have enough votes to control the destiny of the game, just like the Hasidic Jews who have managed to successfully monopolize the global diamond trade. Or the Mawari’s in India who have somehow managed to monopolize the clove trade from East Indian all the way to the Eastern tip of Africa in Zanzibar – the key to control is to have your kaki lang (own tribe) at the apex of the pyramid.

In the case of Singapore, it’s conceivable the custodians of power opened the doors so wide and worst of all they did not have a coherent strategy in place to nurture a critical mass of native intelligentsia to perpetuate many of these vocations and industries under Singapore’s terms. I suspect many people don’t realize how fragile a social ecology can be. It doesn’t matter whether it’s a vocation, sports or even the week end warrior line dancing social club that meets every Sunday under a bridge – when a critical mass of natives are not groomed and given the opportunities to hold on to the reins of power and the whole idea of meritocracy is gives way to free and unmitigated flow of skills or labor then what can only happen is, the means to perpetuate that vocation, sport or hobby under that countries terms will fall into foreign hands – that is why today, you find that certain vocations and sports which were previously helmed by locals have given way to what I can only refer to a ghettoism – as when too many natives are squeezed out, then the whole master and apprentice symbiotic relationship that makes possible the idea of perpetuating a vocation and handing over the baton fritters away. What you end up with instead is a social Chernobly.  

Just imagine if the Germans or French Guilds in our game control the Interspacing Mineral Rights, then where will we all be? We will be all be peddling virtual tissue paper in some space station and since no one ever falls sick in the virtual, we all be reduced to a pushing trolley cum bag man tribe – now you all understand why I have to regularly give speeches in the virtual along with start wars. You should all thank me for saving your bacon instead of regularly calling me hurtful names like Adolf Hitler and Stalin. My point Gentlemen is I do whatever that is necessary to ensure the survivality of our tribe by making sure power only remains with us and no one else! If they are smart. We milk them dry! But we never ever sell the shop! But I digress.

Understand this! Gentlemen this is a very serious problem. And the fact that it has been neglected for the last ten or more years can only prompt many to ask why was such a serious problem given such perfunctionary treatment – not only has it been given scant attention by the apparatus of mass assimilation that seems to do very little 24/7 except forward the sugary homily illusion – all is well in paradise – till today we don’t even have a means to scale the magnitude of the problem to even ask basic questions like,  how many native PMET’s have been discriminated or for that matter how many have been denied the whole idea of the level playing field in fields of employment or even what is the long term implications of what I can only describe in polite terms of “lackdaisal” immigration policies.

It’s even conceivable the problem has now escalated from acute to perhaps even systematic – in which case the latest measures would be akin to trying to cure terminal cancer with a Panadol. Good luck lah! That is all I have to say – that is all those clowns deserve. I rather watch that girl in Youtube swing any day…I believe, I can learn more from her than those bunch of losers. The way I see it, we have lost the ball – and let me tell you this, once you lose it, it’s game over. Don’t think for one moment, its so easy to reconstitute all the social attributions and social networks necessary to sustain a vocation – it isn’t and once you lose such a thing, it’s a very sad thing. As it gone and its best to just accept your lot. This is why stupid people should never dabble with things they don’t understand.”

Politicians should never mix politics and religion. As no matter how one combines these two schools of thoughts together, they can only produce poison – it is really only a matter of whether it is slow acting or kill you in seven paces poison. That is all there is to it.

If a politician wants to juggle hand grenades or mix religion with politics. He should seriously consider resigning from public office. Or better still start his own enterprise – then he can do anything he wants including run naked with a bra over his head in the Padang.

Just my two cents.

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“If you want to succeed in business – stay away from all discussions concerning religion and politics – as no matter what position you decide to take, even if it happens to be a neutral position, it will always be controversial.

Do not do stupid things either like give closed door speeches in the school of Rajaratnam – as this will only cause many to ask very pointed questions that you cannot answer without incriminating yourself.

My point is at this level of the game – there is very little room for mistakes of this nature –  if you don’t even understand how the game is played at this level, then in my opinion, you have no business whatsoever playing it – you should do yourself and everyone a favor and sit down before you fall flat on your face and make a bloody fool yourself. Or better still go quietly. Disappear. As when a man over steps that line – then you cannot blame the serious men of this world to question his judgement. Neither can you fault them for wondering whether this character can exercise self control and rein in his impulses whatever that might be. Its only natural for these people to raise these questions. After all, they know how the game is played.

Anyways, enough of the serious stuff, this is a nice swing that you should all check out.”

Moon cakes are usually exchanged between friends this time of the year – but that is not always the case. Especially when these cakes are cut up and different pieces from other cakes are arranged and served in a mish mashed fashion. When moon cakes are served in this perculiar manner – it can really only mean one thing in the language of the old country.

When I saw this. I smiled and turned to these men and reassured each and everyone of them that from now onwards they can count on my full cooperation. I could tell they all looked relieved. As I did a very good job of convincing them. 

I lied…of course. I kow tow to no man! No one tells me what land I can and cannot buy!

I am so happy for this sudden and unexpected turn of events – it can only mean my enemies are hurting, nervous and probably desperate – it also means, I have finally found their weak point. From now onwards I have to keep punching this point again, again and again. If I keep up the pressure then the whole rotten door will probably come crashing down. Either that or a gun man will just appear. That’s fine with me. I’ve come this far, why not go the full distance. That’s the only way to deal with bent people make it so hot for them that they jump right out of the window or do something so incredibly and intractably stupid – like give me moon cakes…

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-Quiet Night Thoughts Li Bai (701-762)

1 床前明月光
2 疑是地上霜
3 舉頭望明(山)月
4 低頭思故鄉

Tonite the moon shines bright;
It looks like frost formed during the night. 
I am content to gaze at the mountain moon;
Bowing, I am suddenly seized by a longing for home…it seems so faraway.

Log 21-9-13 Saturday Golf

September 21, 2013

I am not a member of the country club. Not yet. But that has never stopped me from gate crashing. Besides no one ever stops a man with a bush jacket in these parts – or for that matter thinks that he’s not a member. It’s far off, inconceivable even that any man would go to such lengths and run that sort of risk. But I need too, I need a run on the course at least once to superglue it in my brain to perform well in the coming tournament.

No one except maybe a very elegant lady understands how it must be when a man pits himself against the system – she stood there looking out like a solitary tongue of light in a sea of darkness – I saw her from afar – it was the way she looked at me me after I had polished off the last of the 19 holes before those fatties hit the fairway – she had been staring at me from the expansive balcony since I turned the corner on the 17th hole – when I saw her, I tipped my hat, but I could tell from the look she gave me, she knew….she merely smiled and nodded her head approvingly – I needed that. Needed it so much that I probably realize then and there I needed it so much – someone, anyone to simply understand or appear too – how it is to want in, when all the world seems interested to do is try to shut me out from a good thing. It doesn’t take a lot to make me charge on and storm the hill – a little goes a long way with me. A smile. A kind gesture…that is all I need to steel myself for what is to come. I just need one person to believe in me – I doesn’t even need it to be real. I can just as well fill the rest up with my imagination – even a perfect imitation would do just as well and probably go the full distance. I am happy she stood there. So happy that when I walked up the steps – I paused momentarily and looked at her – the plantation lady as if she was the only woman who ever existed and I was the mythical lover, content to look upon her for eternity – when she turned her face. I closed in, looked at her and kissed her hand. She blushed.

I am reminded not everyone is bad here. There are some good people. I must keep that in mind always.

I reckon I can count on her to keep mum…I wonder how many others know of my secret designs. Or maybe they have always known all along? That could explain many things. You see I don’t think, I would have got this far without someone smoothing the way all along….I’ve always suspected there is an invisible hand helping me…but why? Who? When she looked up. I asked myself, is it her?

But I cannot allow myself to think these delightful distractions now. I only have two days before the tournament of the Planters Cup opens. I must prepare myself for war.

I need to keep it together, tight…focussed…and very precise to get the job done like a professional. It will be considerably harder now to squeeze through the eye of the needle. It seems my enemies they have got wind of my plans and professionals have been called in.

Must love to cook. She may not be very beautiful, but if she can cook you should seriously consider marrying her – love will come later. Granted it may not be a very glamorous or exciting sort of relationship in the very beginning. But if you give herself (the woman who loves to cook) the time and opportunity to work her magic wok on you long enough – I can almost guarantee you she will the be the only woman you ever want to love and want to grow old with. Above all her value can only appreciate upwards with time and pay off dividends handsomely once you decide to start a family.

From today onwards, I do not want to get ten to fifteen e-mails every day from men who complain they cannot find women – the only reason why so many of you are not married is because you are all searching for the wrong qualities in a woman in probably the wrong places.

You should all sign up for cooking and baking classes instead of getting drunk every evening in Zouk. I have said this again and again.

Why can’t all of you keep life simple? I don’t understand. I really don’t.

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“Every year without fail, my enemies send very beautiful women to try to seduce me to engineer my downfall. Every year they end up getting nailed. As not only do they fail miserably, but I even manage to turn these leggy sirens into double agents to spy for me along with streaming them disinformation that throw a spanner into their strategy to undo me.

Let me share with you, how it all begins and ends. First these sex bombs flash me a smile. Usually this is done during the last leg of one of those rowdy cowboy town dinners where everyone is supposed to Yam Seng as if hard liquor is Ribena – since I have perfected the art of drinking Chinese tea disguised as neat brandy – I usually only pretend to be drunk – when these women see that I am ‘high’ and assume I am most vulnerable – that’s when the move in and start to snuggle up to me and suggest we go somewhere for some home entertainment – that’s really the cue for me to ask – where? My place is usually the answer. Whereupon I jump up and down in happiness like a spinning top and shout out ‘whopeee! You are going to cook something wonderful for me!” That’s when they all give me that ‘excuse meeeee!” suprise blank look. At other times they get flustered and start to stammer as if this isn’t in the game plan and that’s not how the script is supposed to read – usually, they say something like “No! I mean, I going to give you a good time” and start to lean forward to reveal their fun bags or touch me. I tell them, “Yes! That’s what I mean, you’re going to cook something to warm the cockles of my heart!” They say “No! Not that sort of good time.” By then their confidence has gone down a few notches and that’s when I deliver the coup de grace – usually I do this by giving them a blank look of utter disappointment as if my world has come to and end along with making teeth sucking sounds while muttering “You don’t know how to cook do you?” That’s when they look at me pleadingly. I allow a moment of silence of seep in and suddenly they all burst into tears and tell me this is all very stressful lah. They don’t want to do this any more. They just want to go home – that’s when I take them somewhere nice and comfort along with use my DIY Mossad secret agent techniques (Please bear in mind, my highly popular ‘How to succeed in life like a Mossad secret agent will be republished again very soon – this time, it comes with a free mug) usually to a friends restaurant and cook them a nice meal while they spill all the beans.

This happens every year like clockwork. Exactly in the order of sequence I just described without hardly a trace of variation.

If my enemies had any cow sense at all. If they had bothered with the idea of good intelligence gathering at the inception along with character profiling and scaling threats and opportunities and not simply plumb for an off the shelf strategy – they would realize that my Achilles heel is not sex, but makan – as by nature, I am a very homely person – if they sent a woman who can cook to try to whril her way into my stomach and work her way from there into to my brain, I would probably be defenseless – but fortunately they only send women who only know how to bat their eyelids, flash their fun bags and spread their legs wide open – I am so sorry, but that’s simply no good – they’re just using the wrong tool to get the job done.

As to me there is no mystery to the black forest. No allure even to the whole idea of the illicit thrill. I am not saying I am a celibate, but in the grande scale of life’s priorities, since I am always hungry, food just happens to be more important to me than sex – besides I can’t be rolling around in bed 24/7 without my quota of caloric intake. I will die – but I need to eat six to seven times a day – as my doctors inform me my metabolic rate is exceptionally high and just go maintain my optimum weight range, I need to eat intelligently – that means I can’t be dressing up, driving, looking for parking, waiting in restaurants just to fill my tank up – that’s a really the world’s most inefficient way to fuel myself. I wouldn’t be able to get anything done, if my life is that inefficient. As not only is it time consuming, it’s also one sure fire way to get cancer of the wallet and since I am an excellent cook myself – I don’t ever get the same level of satisfaction I do from food that’s cooked outside. As usually they skimp on the good stuff and just peddle off junk food as the real McCoy, so I will probably end up dying from high cholesterol or MSG overdose – so that sort of lifestyle will only irritate me no end along with make me a very bad tempered person – now you understand why, to me sex will always be second to food. I imagine this is true for most men – most may not even consciously know this. But if you take the trouble to log down how much time the average male waste to look for food – then you would probably understand why food to me is a priority.

I think a lot of men and women don’t quite realize the strategic importance of food and how it plays such a preponderant role in modulating the law of attraction – if women know how fundamentally simple a man is, they would all probably spend their time and money on cook books and kitchen utensils instead of silver hairbrushes, lingerie and overpriced jars of moistuirizing cream where the only active ingredient just happens to be water. As the adage, a way to a man’s heart is through his stomach is very robust to be true in virtually every single case – conversely, if a man sat down and reflected deeply about sex and food – he too would probably realize after his stomach starts to rumble nothing is as beautiful as a woman who can whip a man a nourishing bowl of soup and warm the cockles of his heart – that I imagine is why the condemned never ask for the last fuck, rather they much prefer the last supper – after that it seems everything is possible, including such impossibilities as walking up to the hang man and giving him a high five before they past on to the other side.

This is the reason why you find so many handsome and successful men married to ugly women – and that could possibly explain why so many humpbacks seem have absolutely no problem in attracting beautiful women – as the secret recipe to sustaining and nourishing a long term relationship is not kamasutra as it remains makansutra.

I want to be very clear about this. As you only live once and in life a man can either devote himself to pursuing the vapid and worthless seemingly dressed up as the must have or he can set his eyes on the mundane that can only grow more valuable with the chastening passage of time – when a man learns to see women through this enlightened lens, then every woman who loves to cook can only be transformed into a ravishing beauty. It does not matter whether she is fat or even has hair on her legs – if she loves to cook – that simply means, 99% of your problems in life is sorted out. Do you all now understand why the ancients say, beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

As the wise can see what is valuable and beautiful. As for the fool, he will simply have to learn how to learn to dial for home deliver pizza or stand in line while his stomach rumbles away. Go and marry a woman who loves to cook – and please do not come and complain to me that you cannot find a good woman to marry. This is the one millionth time I’ve had to write and say this – last year, I even told the others to set up a vetting bureau in the virtual to help all of you find suitable gals, but no, some of you called me names like Adolf Hitler and Stalin etc etc etc, now it seems the only type of squeezes all of you seem to get are those super high maintenance pretensious cannot cook for shit bitches! – you all deserve them lah! It’s official. I give up on all of you!”

As far back as ten years ago – I predicted that a day will come when ordinary folk will be able to produce and deliver content that is as good, if not better than what the MSM can hatch out – I need to contact these people. I need to talk to them to find out how they are organized and whether they would like to collaborate with us.

Recently many people asked me – what I thought about LKY’s innings as a leader. I told them all, it’s very difficult while he’s still alive to derive at an accurate assessment – I went to add in my considered opinion, there are too many people currently weighing in who know only too well which side of the bread is buttered – hence that could be one reason why they’re rhapsodizing the sum total of his contributions to Singapore – hence whatever we may see and hear now is really only an approximation of the truth. But let us be clear it’s hardly a historically accurate account. As so much of the narrative has been given the white wash treatment.

I went on to tell these people quite plainly, we do not live in an information democracy in Singapore. And this is a fact. Neither is the mere fact that Singapore at this time line outwardly successful proof either that it was all due to sagacity, foresight and wisdom of ONE man alone – as who is to say Singapore would not have evolved into a rounder and better society, especially in the area of producing more mavericks and business titans along with critical thinkers.

Besides so much of the Singapore narrative has been bracketed due to the apparatus of propaganda and there exist so many other unheard, unpublished and untold accounts of those who may have sacrifice just as much as LKY, if not more to make Singapore what it is today – the fact that these narratives are not recount hardly discounts the preponderant role they played in shaping the Singapore today.

Hence I much prefer to defer giving an answer for at least 15 to 20 years after his death and possibly even longer.

When I mentioned this, many were taken aback and asked why I needed to wait so long to form an opinion – I laughed and went on to add maybe it’s because my opinion counts for very little. They did not laugh. And that was when I must have realized, I am in hot soup compelling me to elaborate the rationale for my stance.

I told all of them if the goal is to derive at an account of one man’s contribution to a nation – then it pays to be rigourous about how that historical account was derived at and who does it actually serve. As history especially the variety that is wordsmithed by officialdom is seldom objective and very often it’s closer to fiction, since it elides so many other counter narratives – and if the goal is to get a historically accurate appraisal of LKY’s innings – it would reasonably have to take at least 15 to 20 years (possibly even longer if another Lee is in power). As in my considered opinion that’s roughly the period of time, it takes for the naked truth to bubble it’s way up to the surface of the Singapore collective consciousness – meanwhile we may all have to put up with the toe curling rhapsodies of the likes of Bertha Henson’s Breakfast Network and the nation destroying press perpetual selective reportage, embellishments, exaggerations and what I can only describe in polite terms as the machinery of mass assimilation.

I am so sorry, but that’s just the way I see it – as in my opinion, one has to be really stupid to just buy into a historical depiction of a person without ever asking yourself Cui bono? I mean, you literally have to be five chili dumb to do just that without interrogating whether there might be other narratives out there which are still unheard, unpublished and unread.

So chill out and cool your heels – besides the clock hasn’t even started. So what’s the rush? After all if the man is as good as slice bread, I am sure all seeing eye of history will judge him kindly.

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“History is rarely objective and it’s really just a tool to engineer consent – what you consider to be a historical account is really just function of how much information you have access too and which vantage you have been led too by a tour guide to see it all from – now I want to clear about this.

As the idea that history is synonymous with the truth and nothing but the truth is a myth!

As nothing is sacred when the goal to win in politics and hold on to the reins of power – and history is often seen as a strategic tool to serve the state or to further their hidden agenda – even something as mind boggling Byzantine big like WW 2 can be massaged to depict history to favor a select few nations while eliding and the contribution of other nations. So if that sort of industrial scale white washing can go right by – what’s to stop it from mythologizing the role of one man – I give you the facts. You go and decide for yourself.

For example many people in the West still believe that Hitler was defeated solely by the Americans and British and the Soviets just played a side dish role. This I am sure may have something to do with how Hollywood seems to depict how evil was crushed by the forces of good through sappy movies like Saving Private Ryan – not there is nothing wrong with those sort of movies, but lets not confuse it for an accurate depiction of what actually transpired as nothing can be further from the truth.

As today if you travel through the countryside in Germany, especially in Bavaria. You will find that when you wander around these quaint village churches and examine the scroll of the fallen – you will notice, so many German’s boys died in Russia. The ratio to me is about 1,000 to 1 – that’s really just another way of saying, the Russians and not the Americans or the British defeated Hitler.

My point is, it usually takes time for the truth to emerge. Just like how we all know today that there’s nothing really exceptional about the Kennedy’s. They don’t have a super helix that makes them better than other humans – unless of course you consider being able to attract deadly bullets, being a great closet womanizer as some great skill.

The same holds true for virtually every public figure who has in the last century being depicted in a mythologically haloed light – so let us all be patient and wait for those other narratives that may be too afraid to speak out or have been crushed by the weight of time and lie in the murky depths of time like some Rosetta stone – let us all even be wise about it and not go overboard lest we are swept by the mindless euphoria – as one thing to me always be inexorable – the truth and nothing but the equilizing truth will always make it out….of that I can more or less guarantee you all this. So let us all be patient and not jump up and down like spinning tops, least we all make bloody fools of ourselves.

If history has anything to teach us at all – it’s simply this – it usually takes alot time for people to step forward and speak up – I happen to believe, if the goal is to recognize those who once made Singapore what it is today. We would do well to also hear their version of history – that is really my point.”

If you regularly keep the company of wishy washy people – then as time goes by, you will also end up as a wishy washy person and probably end up going nowhere.

But if you take just a bit of trouble and choose your friends carefully – then you find as time goes by people will begin to take you very seriously and even entrust you to do very big things and you will rise.

As good friends will always teach you how to live, work, play and even die in the correct way. Bad friends on the other hand will just waste your time and lead you to live a life of dissipation.

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“When I first turned the wheel of life as a farmer. I faced many difficulties. In my first year, I was harassed, cheated and even regarded by many as an inconsequential person. My life was very difficult and no one was remotely interested in what to I had to say or was doing.

One day I started to raise my head and look beyond my tiny veggie patch – I began to notice there were some men who never seem to face the same difficulties as me. They were seldom harassed, no one stole or even tried to cheat them and everyone seem to regard them highly enough to prick up their ears whenever they spoke.

I began to wonder why? That was when I decided to find out more about these men – I noticed they were all very simple men. Some of them may not have had much education, but they were nonetheless men who one would well to have in their good books. As these were very serious men.

So I began to spend time with these men. I would go to the kopitiam at day break and take my seat to the East. As this is where all things begin. When these men spoke I would be expected to keep silent and just pour tea for all of them – I did not speak much as my Hokkien was not very cheem, so I only listened most of the time and from there I slowly learnt about how I should behave to keep the harmony between heaven and earth.

Eventually I dressed, walked, talked and even began to see the world through the eyes of these men – I cannot recall precisely how this process of change came about. I can only tell you that one day it occurred to me that I was no longer sitting on the chair that faced east, pouring tea or keeping quiet any longer.

I remember that day very clearly. As the proprietor of the kopitiam had recently hung a large mirror on the wall next to the table where I usually sit with my friends for breakfast – that was when I noticed him. I did not recognize this stranger at first. Perhaps it was his sunglasses that he always seem to wear and hardly took off. Or maybe it was the brusque manner in which he carried himself in his bush jacket or just the quiet and calm manner in which he looked on impassively at the world as it unfurled that morning – it’s very hard to say.

Who was this man I wondered to myself? That was when a younger man wearing a baseball cap who sat on the chair facing east clink my cup with the spout of the teapot as he refilled my cup – this must have awakened me from my reverie and I realized there and then, those men have all passed on and only this hard man is left.

I often wonder to myself during these moments of deep reflection how fleeting life is and how time seems to past me by changing everything in one blink of an eye.”

Is to come to terms with the idea that something good has come to an end. To mourn it’s passing. Dry your tears. Suck it all in, in one deep breathe. And cobble together whatever courage there’s still left to move on with life –  while setting aside anger, bitterness and resentment with each step. Never once looking back.

So easy to write these words down. To even see it form into nice lines. And to even believe it’s possible. But…the hardest thing for a man to do and seek oneness with

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“There is one aspect of my character that will always scared the shit out of me. The idea that I will one day come face to face with the man who gave the order to poison my trees when I first ventured into farming.

You see let me share the facts of life plainly with you why this scares me. Allow me to even confide to you why even though this episode transpired so many years ago, it still retains the very power to disturb.

As when I see this man again. I believe there is a real possibility I will not even talk very much. There is even a very distinct possibility, I will just draw out my parang and hold him as tight as I can by his collar, look him deeply in the eyes and proceed to hack him – to do this again and again and again and again till he is reduced to pulp and I am covered head to toe in blood.

This remains a real possibility to my mind. Whatever comes thereafter let it come with the fury of ten galloping horses – I will bear it and face it like a man.

I realize that people may say, possibilities dont make for probabilities. But to me, it is very real. And that by itself must have the power to disturb.

In my calm moments I know that it’s wrong. Or should be, at least. It seems I even have the presence of mind to believe that doing what I’ve played out in my mind a thousand times will probablyl accomplish nothing and probably make my lot worse.

But the fact that I can even hold on to such macabre thoughts with a measure of deliberate clarity, resolve and singularity of purpose disturbs me. Above all it’s a very powerful reminder I still need to work very hard on this idea of polishing my character.

As the gold standard of how I must and should respond if I desire to lead a purpose driven life is to be able to look at this man who once did all this to me and to have no anger, resentment and bitterness in my heart – to even be able to smile and pity and embrace him as a brother. And to be honest and genuine about it.

I think when some people call me a monster as they regularly do – I don’t believe they realize how genuinely sincere I am to improve myself from deep within – when I say, I want to be good. I don’t believe most people know how much I want it or even what lengths I am prepared to commit myself to be part of goodness – but I know you believe me. Or rather I have to believe you’re still holding on to that idea – as in all honesty, I wouldn’t be able to write the things I regularly do with so much conviction, if I didn’t set aside some quiet time everyday and make the effort to think them through carefully –  to even search my own heart from time to time for the answers to so many of my vexing questions.

I don’t even know the word that describes this process. But for lack of a better word, let us just say, this one aspect of how a man goes about squaring his primal nature with what he aspires to be, has to be something intrinsically human – it has to something that even separates us definitionally or axiomatically from animals –  as I know ants can’t do this.

We humans fortunately can. And we should endeavor to continue to do so in earnest – we must work hard at being humane and never take that idea for granted that humanity is somehow automatically part of the human condition. Never. As it’s not – under a given set of conditions – you have no possible idea how easy it is for a man or for matter any man to suddenly transform into a wild animal – none of you have any idea how fragile the notion of civilization really is or even how easily it can crumble – most people I imagine back in Singapore would probably assume that they’re incapable of turning into feral wild animals, that they’re even somehow above it all – but that’s only because they are so lucky or haven’t been put into a situation that brings out the very worst in them – anyone can turn into an animal. You, I, he, her, them they all can. They just don’t know how easy it is to suddenly find yourself in that desolate place. They may think they know themselves. but I know they don’t. I can tell when I look deep in their eyes, they haven’t been to that heart of darkness…..they don’t even know that realm exist in some hidden corridor somewhere in their mind. They don’t know. I wished, I didn’t know this, but I know only too well…”

I may have very strong views against what I consider to be the world’s most useless game – golf. But in the company of golfers you would hardly ever register my contempt for the game.

On the contrary, whenever I find myself marinating in the company of golfers – it is not uncommon for me to speak about about golf in terms of endearment – that is because when one finds oneself in the company of people who believe the world’s most useless game is the most meaningful game – then they have successfully fashioned something from nothing – a sacred belief – and if enough people believe a useless and worthless thing is a matter of profound importance to their daily life – then they have successfully fashioned a god and one would do well to respect their beliefs, customs and traditions.

As tradition reassures, palliates fears, soothes nerves and even banishes anxieties and can even cure fainting spells – so please do not rock the boat.

If you want to be successful in business – just respect the tradition of others even if you believe they don’t add up to a hill of beans and if you do only just that, you will find that you will be able to turn the wheel of life grief free.

Not very long ago there was this chap who hails from Bukit Batok who ran into a spot of trouble – he runs a small enterprise to the North dealing in pumps for the agriculture market – this fellow was quite distraught when he came to see me – he sought my advice as to whether he should spend over $90,000 building an electrified fence around his warehouse or spending half that sum to purchase my breed of killer of Doberman guard dogs. Apparently his warehouse has been sacked by thieves.

Instead I told him to buy two boxes of moon cakes and suspend his plans to turn his warehouse into Fort Knox. I went on to tell this blur sotong this is not the way a wiseman goes about spending his hard earned money – that they’re easier ways to resolve this problem – he did not understand – when I visited this blur sotong – I told him to hop into my land cruiser and drove to the kopitiam. After playing two hands of mahjong with the elders. I intimidated to them that I have a problem – when one of the elders asked me, what was the nature of the problem. I placed my tea cup on a pair of chopsticks – they looked at each other and the one of them exclaimed, “that is a real problem.” And that was when I nudged this blur sotong to present the two boxes of moon cakes to them – one of the elders took the box on the left and presented it before the altar of the god of war, Kwang Kong. The other we all ate – mid way I took the duck yolk portion stood up and offered it to the God of war – when the elders saw this, their leader said, ” That is not necessary!” I insisted and this time I told them all in a very stern voice, “but it is, it seems.” One of the elders got up and exclaimed, “we did not know!”

The younger men seated outside stirred. I knew a sign had been given. I poured tea for all of them again, this time it was left to right. So very slowly I did this that it must have stirred the faint memory of the eldest of the elders, who turned to his colleagues and express, “they say the legendary swordsman Kwai Lung has relinquished the way of the sword and has retired to a monastery.” I placed a single chopstick upon the urn of Kwan Kong and clapped three times – when I finished, I turned by cup and slammed it face down on the table and smiled – they all drank and did the same. After that one of the elders brought me by the sleeves and whispered to me in cantonese, tonite the moon will be red, do you think the ships will anchor? – I replied, if that is the case, we must light lanterns, as my clansmen are far from their wifes and children. I went to tell these old men in whispering tones, we have all not seen our wifes and children for so long. One of them began to weep quite openly and lamented, “heaven is so cruel. There are not enough seats on the boat for the return trip.” That was when I took the second box of moon cakes and prepared it to be served to the elders, this time, I sang them a sad forgotten song all the while weeping as they too wept alongside me. A few of them tapped the bowls to keep me in tune while the womenfolk were hurried asked to leave the kopitiam. Red sorghum wine was poured into teacups, a roasted pork was served and fire crackers were prepared and lanterns were lit to greet the approaching night.

“Heaven is heartless,
I miss my wife and children,
There is not enough room in the boat,
This year I shall not return home to them,
Maybe next year if heaven smiles on me,
If not next year, then perhaps in my next life I will be reunited with them – heaven is heartless.”

Three times.

After that the rest nodded their heads in silence and the eldest of the elders, sang a song – I could tell he had forgotten the words, as his colleagues were prompting him,

“Heaven smiles, do not feel despair for you have no space on the boat to take you home to your wifes and children this year,
Heaven smiles, I will treat your clansmen as my own, tell your men their waters are free to flow with ours and our women will comfort them and banish their sorrow…heaven smiles.”

Three times.

Through it all my friend from Bukit Batok could only manage a blank stupid expression – after that we all played another round of mahjong, laughed and joked and before taking leave one of the elders whispered to me, “tell me, you are young, where did you learn the language of the old country?”*

I merely smiled. The following day all the stolen pumps were returned back to the blur sotong – he was so surprised that he called me. I told him it was not necessary to spend money on extra security, I went to tell him every year at exactly the same date before the south westerly monsoon winds changes around this time, he must remember to present moon cakes to all the elders – he asked me how can he can repay the debt. I told him to write a cheque to pathlight school for the autistic. He said he would do so. He did not understand. I did not care to explain.

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Running across the street from the Apple Computer outlet to the Burger King fast food joint in Piccadilly Circus just off Old Crompton Street was an invisible line – this was the East Gate to Chinatown London. The gate which all in the underworld knew only as the “Pak Mein Mun.” – “8 faced gate.”

Though such a gate never once existed except in the realm of the imagination – the man who stood there that day in the dark Italian suit, slicked back hair and dark glasses could see this gate clearly in his mind’s eye – he knew it was there, invisible to all except him and those who walked the underworld. The man paused as he approached the invisible gate. In his mind’s eye, he could make out the line that separated this world from that other world that he had once walked so many years ago in the moment of his youth.

That day as the man paused before what seemed to be like an invisible line on the pavement just outside the China town London. He seemed almost to stand out like a solitary unmoving figure amid an ocean of men – those who passed by him were purposeful, either walking briskly or pausing before the many shop fronts to window shop. But for the lean man dressed in the dark Italian suit. He was perfectly still. So still that he looked almost like a solitary lotus on a calm lake – so still that he even radiated a familiarity the stirred the interest of the proprietor of the Kam Far (Golden flower) restaurant across the road – who was inexplicably drawn to the sight of this strange lone figure – he had seen this same man before. But it cannot be. It cannot! He blurted out. The man was slightly older now; but he was the same man the restauranteur reckoned – his mix of hardness and implacability came through in the way he narrowed his eyes; even in the very manner in which he who stood his ground abreast before this invisible gate that only gangsters could see – and very slowly and gradually, it dawned on the restauranter that this was the same man who had once carried the bag for the venerable four houses -

“The benefactor who used to carry the money for the four houses had returned to China town!” The restauranteur murmured to himself as his voice began to tremble uncontrollably.

That same afternoon as the sun crossed over to cast an eerie twilight over the lone figure standing before the gate that did not exist except in the man’s eye – the restauranteur steadied his nerves with a double shot of brandy. He was after the gate keeper of the Pak Mein Mun – the East Gate to China town. And so like his father and father before him; the third generation restauranteur keeper of the key to the PaK Mein Mun walked out into the pavement and bowed solemnly to the lone figure and said,

“You must be thirsty and hungry, please allow me to offer you some refreshments.”

The stranger did not speak. Neither did he look at the restauranteur. As he realized this was only the first quatrain of many to follow before the custom of seeking passage through this invisible gate was possible. 

That evening as the stranger sat in a discreet table hidden by a screen from the crowd with the rest of the elders all dressed in dark sombre suits in China town – tea was ceremoniously served.

One of the elders mentioned that the fish was unusually fresh this season and he should try some – soon a fish was served with a single chopstick inserted through the gills – the restauranteur who had served the fish was trembling so violently that he even stained the white linen table cloth – much to the irritation of the elders who waved him away.

Whereupon the elders looked on silently, stoically and sternly at the man seated in the seat facing the East – as this was an ancient custom which the laws of heaven and earth had dictated had to be played out with as much care as a Chinese opera – this was after all a part of their lives as it was a part of them – a language written in an alphabet that only those who had once walked the underworld knew how to read.

That evening as the stranger removed the chopstick from the fish and snapped it in half and placed it down gently by his side of the table. All the elders of China town turned to each other with a look of familiarity that suggested that words were truly unnecessary. As by now it was evident to all that the man who was wearing the dark Italian suit sporting dark glasses was none other than the benefactor who once carried the money for the venerable houses.

That same evening – a lion dance troupe assembled at the same spot where the man had paused and waited earlier in the day. Those who were oblivious of this ancient custom probably regarded it as just another cultural event staged to promote China town as a tourist hub – but that day as the man who sat in the chair facing East sipped tea with the elders. He knew that permission had been granted for him to enter the underworld once again. When the last of the firecrackers rented out leaving only a lingering silence – one of the elders leaned forward and in a grave voice whispered to the stranger,

“Do not be offended benefactor. No disrespect was intended. Through the years there had been rumors that you have passed on. We had to be sure that it was you benefactor. Now tell us please. As you have traveled so far through an ocean of time to come back here – tell us how can the venerable four houses be of assistance to the honorable benefactor?”

The man did not reply immediately. He realized that ritual was missing a vital piece. He knew that it was incomplete. He could make out the stout body guards who stood some distance away from the elders – he knew that they were all armed. And so he leaned back in his chair and sighed. And after what can only be considered as an eternity – one of the elders walked to the nearby altar of Kwang Kong lit three joss sticks and handed it to the man.

This was what the man was waiting for – this was why he had remain still and silent all this time. The ritual now only had one more quartrain before it all ended. 

And this was when the man spoke for the very first time, “I am not a monk. I am a swordsman.”

With these words the man could see that the rest of the elders had begun to really relax. Only a while ago they had just been pretending he reckoned. Some had even begun to smile openly now and even smoke their cigarettes. The scene had after played out to the very end in exactly the way that it was meant to be played out for generations – with hardly the slightest deviation, except for that long and unexpected pause which the man realized was designed to trap an imposter.The man realized had he even deviated even so much as one millimeter from this ancient custom of seeking permission to enter the pak mein mun – he would never be able to walk out of the restaurant alive – they would have certainly killed him there and then. This the man knew only too well was how politics was conducted in the underworld.

By now even the bodyguards had begun to loosen up as their eyes moved indolently to the leggy waitresses instead of peering menacingly at the stranger in the dark Italian suit. And when the man saw all this, he stood up, bowed to the elders and walked to the altar of Kwan Kong with joss sticks – that day as the ex-gangster, farmer and mortal enemy of Mr Big Bully knelt before the stern crimson face of the bearded God of War – he realized that he was simply an actor where the stage manager of life and destiny who choreographed ever turn and twist of his life ruled – and what can an actor really do? Except maybe utter the lines that he had been given – and so like those who once left only to return again – the farmer whose only wish in life was to plant row after row of oil palm realized that he had finally crossed into the underworld. Only this time, he had crossed the line of no return – the die was cast.”

Every business man reaches a point, when he realizes he needs to reinvent himself – if he wants to go further and higher. That glass ceiling can take many shapes and form – it could be trying to get into an inner circle where movers and shakers regularly hang out or getting invited for tea luncheons where the choicest cuts are regularly splayed out – whatever form and shape that glass ceiling may take, one thing is certain – those at the very top of the food chain will always try their very best to keep out those who try to break in – this they usually do by ritualizing their cult of exclusivity with elaborate customs and traditions that are designed specifically to make it difficult, if not impossible for someone like me to join their ranks.

But when one takes a long and hard look at what they claim to be special, exclusive and even highly prized – all it really is, is something that’s so mundane and common that there is nothing really special about it. It’s after all just smoke and mirrors dressed up as a thing everyone should aspire to play, that’s all it is. And to win one simply needs to learn and understand how the game is played at this level.

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“My enemies have a funny way of trying to box me up. Whenever I try to break into their exclusive inner social circle – they put up all sorts of ridicolous barricades to keep me out.

Now it seems even my money is not good enough –  they’ve made it impossible for me by putting me on a ten year waiting list just to join a country club. If that’s not bad enough, they’ve even arranged it so that I get black balled every time my name is mentioned – to add insult to injury everyone after me somehow manages to get in line before me – of course, everyone is too polite to use the word ‘unsuitable.’ But there are enough hints of cosy insiderism to suggest that they mean to keep me out indefinitely.

That would be well and fine if I could continue turning the wheel of life cutting deals as I regularly do in some jungel clearing or haggling over land prices in some cow boy town kopitiam over guiness stout and wild boar curry – but I have grown out from that small time game and I want a bigger slice of the action.

Yes my enemies know it only too well – I am a dangerous man. They mean to shut me out from their rarified polite world – a world where they know only too well that if I find myself prowling its only a matter of time before their way of life will be flushed down the chute as I will begin to undermine them from within and network to spread my net of influence and grow bigger. 

But unknown to them, there’s a loop hole in their iron clad design to keep me out – you see, a country club or for that matter any country club can really only continue to exist as a country club if that silly game they all consider the most beautiful game in the world is played well.

Sure, deals are still struck in the pavillion with probably the obligatory wink of the eye, nudge etc etc etc. But if no one can play the game well – then the whole lie just breaks right down.

But how does one go about learning how to play golf when one can’t even get into a country club? When you think about it, it’s a classical racket isn’t it – one that reminiscent of those jobs where you need to join a union to get into that job, but since you first need to get into that vocation to get a union card – how the fuck do you actually go about getting your hands on a union card or even land yourself that job? See what I mean by the perfect glass ceiling. I’ve noticed rich people like to bend the rules so that it always favors them by making sure once they get into a good thing – they set about keeping everyone else who they believe whose less worthy than them from getting in – fuck them lah!

Fortunately, I am able to use my DIY Mossad secret agent techniques (How to succeed in business like a Mossad secret agent) to get to know enough ground hands and caddies to regularly brush up on my golf – I’ve been secretly training for six months – mostly during the unearthly hours which require me to wake up at 4.45 am.

As for my personal assesment of the sum total of their fuck game. Let me just say this. There is absolutely nothing hard nor difficult about golf, it’s a myth – the only reason why golf appears incredibly difficult is because everyone who plays it is either so old all their joints have to held together with superglue, suffers from type 2 diabetes or so fat that they need to go around in obesity inducing buggies – truth of the matter is for someone whose super fit and has excellent hand and eye coordination who cut his teeth in that other extreme sports quadrant where angels and flabby folk fear to tread – golf the game, has to be by every practical definition – an absolutely zero physical skill sport that requires as much elan and panache as probably urinating – it’s a very natural game where you just need to keep to a few basic rules – hit the small squarely on the sweet spot and just follow right thru – learnt it all through the internet – there is nothing to it really – no mystery or Da Vinci code there, so I have absolutely no idea what the fuss is all about – it’s remarkable when you think about how rich folk regularly go about mythologizing their game as they wax lyrical no end about the ultimate game that to me has as much depth as splitting firewood!

I can’t for the life of me think of a more time wasting and comatose inducing game where a man hits a white ball and keeps following it only to hit it time and again – if golf wasn’t a game, people who regularly do that in the blistering heat would be shot with a tranquilizer gun and thrown into a mental institution – but since only rich and powerful people play golf, even madness it seems is somehow sane. 

Once I finish off polishing the loose ends of my game to a level where I can drive a ball with a seven iron beyond 170 meters (I am around 160) , that’s the point when I will try to join this fuck club via the back door, as an independent candidate – someone who gets in by sheer playing skill alone by qualifying to play for the Planter’s cup – if I even come in within the seventh placing (which shouldn’t be a problem at all. As my secret army of groundhands and caddies who I promised a pay rise if I ever get in and get elected into the committee have all arranged to sabotage the rest of the players. These fuckers all have no idea how snakey I can get!), technically, as everyone whose in the league is probably only there because they can afford to while their time in the fairway – no one can black ball me! – I just stroll right in through the service entrance and the first thing I am going to do is kick the shit out of that glass ceiling! As for my enemies, all they can do is watch in horror…They wouldn’t even know what hit them – as I have planned it all like a commando mission – failure is not an option – I will break thru!”

The most reliable way to succeed in business is not to sort out the problem who is going to bank roll your plan to El Derado. Or even how water tight is your spit fire excel spread sheet – don’t get me wrong, having those aces in your back pocket definitely comes in handy. But if I had to underscore only ONE strategic precondition for personal and organizational success, it would definitely be the underated habit to leverage on the power of networking and significant conversations.

I use the word ‘habit.” As by nature I am an introvert and someone whose very comfortable with the idea of being alone – so the idea of socializing has always been something that I see as a necessary chore (that could very well explain why I wasn’t a big hit with the girls in my averagely miserable campus days) – hence to associate it with the word ‘habit” reminds me that it’s a skill that doesn’t come naturally to me and needs to be developed just like probably developing the muscle memory to fire off six arrows in less than 15 seconds flat and to hit the bullseye every time.

The case for getting serious about networking is compelling if the goal is succeed in business. As no man is truly an island. We are all without a single exception relying and depending on others for our well being even if we think we aren’t.

Beside man is a social animal – he was designed by mother nature to fellowship with other human beings. Otherwise why did providence design our faces to have 43 muscles to express every hemisphere of our thoughts and emotions? Why didn’t mother nature just fashion us with a frozen smile like a dolphin or give us the vacant look of a crocodile?

If we were meant to be loners and marooned in our own skulls like solitary creatures. Why did mother nature bless us such an impressive range of vocal cords? Why not just give us the single stanza like a solitary owl in the meadows or the expressionless hiss of a cobra

Even the human hand is designed to socialize thru touch as it can sense temperature, texture, shape and gradations.

When we stand back and take a long look at how we are created. Gradually, we will all come to the realization form follows function. Then we will know it’s natural for us to seek out others who are like us thereby connecting ourselves gainfully to the whole idea of how to live a purpose driven life.

When we are blind to the obvious, then it’s very easy for us to take pride in the false belief – we don’t need anyone, that we can even do everything including move mountains by ourself.

How wrong we are.

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“One day I am going to write a book about the Singapore blogosphere.  Now this is not going to be your run of the mill IPS or cherian George comatose inducing, “why did I decide to be an academic instead of a real journalist.” This will be a blockbuster. It will definitely out sell those sappy love stories I write. 

Somewhere in this book. There has to be a chapter prosaically entitled, “PAP’s ten lost years in Absurdistan.”

That if you must know is my annotated version of what transpired. Or at least how I see it.

For ten long years PAP did not know how to communicate with netizens – they had absolutely no idea what to do –  except sticking to tried and tested yellow brick road they have always ambled along since independence lah. That’s why when you look at their return on investment and energy in how successfully they have been in establishing a beach head presence in the net – it’s a pretty lousy innings –  that is sadly what happens when a hegemony, institution or even a firm doesn’t have a good feel of a thing. That thing which they can’t get a handle on – can only confound them and stress the system to breaking point – from time to time, we see really stupid things like the recent gloss on the broadcast act to fine and put people in jail etc etc etc – that to me is really a symptom of a system that’s reached its designed limits.

Now around the ninth year. And this was sometime back again during the days of the intelligent Singaporean, it dawned on all of us, the PAP had absolutely no idea how to respond intelligently to this emerging social political blogosphere – that’s really a polite way of saying, they couldn’t discover the imagination to prosper online –  so what they probably did was, collated data and statistics.

But all this must have only added to the fog of war instead of beaconing out the murk. It may have even lulled them into a false sense of security that what they were really dealing with here was an inconsequential collection of shrills from the wilderness – like two drunks in an alley fighting over who won the football world series in 1965.

I think that emboldened them to reinforce failure. As statistics so often skewer the picture to such an extent that you can draw all sorts of conclusions to fit whatever theory you have to supply a convincing explanation – that I believe was why the PAP believed they could punch a hole through the wall of noise in blogosphere and still get their message across using their old hat methods – they couldn’t of course. But its doubtful that they even know that.

What disturbs even today is what we are witnessing here is a complete breakdown of the response system in officialdom – not only was there no sense of urgency to understand this thing called the social political blogosphere beyond data collection and very rudimentary analysis – such as character profiling (oh this we know as well lah) – again all this only served to reinforce the PAP’s belief – everything is under control.

But what stupefies is HOW these series of failures to scale the problem accurately and to respond to them effectively was virtually non existent in PAP’s game plan. Some of us were terribly alarmed by all this – and let me share with you why: you see it is very dangerous to play a game, when the other side doesn’t know how to play the game – when the rules of engagement are foggy, it is very problematic – that I think was the point when we realized, it was best to pull the plug from the intelligent Singaporean.

Most people did not know this, but the exit from the Intelligent Singaporean was a well choreographed curtain call.

After that we decided to have a botique presence only in the Singaporean social political blogoland – we made a deliberate effort not to participate actively. We watched as our stat counters dwindled away – hoping that maybe the government would get their act together and project online to fill in the void –  but nothing happened. The PAP for some reason couldn’t find the requisite imagination to reinvent themselves to prosper in the digital age.

Now to me this was a once in a life time opportunity that was squandered.

I think many years from now when our kids have all grow up and when we all finally realize teeth are not supposed to last beyond 60. Many of us will read this chapter called the ten lost years of PAP and laugh out loud – in the way we probably laugh at people who think that lobotomies and radioactive whitening cream was as good as mothers milk. Because the real irony was the PAP did not really have to go through the grief of 10 years of mumbling along with falling over themselves on how best they should deal with the emerging social political blog scene.

All they really had to do when there was a vacuum in blogoland when we left the scene was to project online and set the rules of the game there and then. This is what we all expected them to do – this is what intelligent folk would do, seize the initiative, storm the high ground, run up a mountain when the weather just clears enough to see the summit!

But they did nothing! Why did they do nothing? Well my theory is there wasn’t even a super duper internet brigade or even a group of people who were even tasked to seek out those sort of opportunities online – you see, we all wrongly made the assumption that there had to be such a brigade. I remember this really clearly – we were all sitting beneath a tree in Changi Village after a really hard ride and all us were discussing the various permutations of how this pull out is going to be exploited by them – but guess what, no one could forsee that there was no such task force! Now can you imagine how ridicolous this is given that the internet is such a wonder weapon in the whole game of politics and power! It literally beggars the imagination today when you think about it – my theory is they probably had such a team, but most of them were probably just playing Soduku online or chatting with suspected to terrorist who were out to blow themselves up in the kitchen.

My point is if the PAP had projected then and there and they came in at that point in time- one one master stroke, they could have established the rules of engagement where perhaps face to face interaction would have featured as only means of communication. I mean this whole idea of online anonymity is really a overated bogeyman in my view – as when some decides to remain anonymous, its never really a permanent state as it is probably just a phase in their life, like when teenagers were turtle necks as they’re probably experimenting with love bitting – so this whole idea of the PAP making a mountain of the molehill of online anonymity was really in opinion a great diffusion of energy that all added up to a big nothing!

As no one can really stay anonymous online – it’s at best an illusion. Beside, at some point in the life cycle of every blogger, he’s bound to step out into the light – I mean, I hung out with farmers anonymously in the Internet long before I was actually farming . As whenever they saw the Singapore flag beside my moniker I was sick and tired of everyone in forum asking, “how many big is your field?” But when I finally decided to visit their plantations and won a tractor as the best farmer in my virtual farming Olympics – I had to step out and reveal my hump back self. 

My point is, there is only so far you can go in the Internet to foster anything meaningful, if you want to keep your mask on. Even those who elect to remain anonymous online realize the limits of having a meaningful discussion under those conditions. They know it only too well for very obvious reasons.

But let’s go off on a tangent here and ask ourselves: how do you defeat online anonymity? Do you treat it like a character flaw like perpetual masturbation in the way the PAP did towards anonymous voices that regularly criticized them in blogosphere?

Now if you do that, then in my book, you’re not giving the conversation a chance. Perhaps a wiser thing to do is to start by respecting the idea of privacy and personhood and to create enough trust to even pitch the idea “Hi, I want to be your friend.” I think Facebook did certainly ease PAP’s labored transition into the digital realm – it’s a very congenial platform that brought a lot of netizens face to face with each other for the very first time. And when that idea took off, many of us were quite relieved. As I said in the very beginning, it’s very dangerous when the otherside doesn’t know the rules of engagement – but even then,  I don’t believe the PAP had to wait for Facebook to knock on their door before responding to the challenges of the social political scene – they could have responded much earlier – and I really don’t believe the decision makers fully appreciate what the cost of that omission might have have been or even what it will extract from them today and in the foreseeable future – as what we are really witnessing is a hegemony falling back 4 or maybe 6 years behind the game. Now the cost for Singapore, has been monumental no matter how you decide to cut it.

The only reason why it doesn’t seem expensive to them is probably because their planners are so accustomed to seeing a gain or loss in terms of measurable metrics such as GDP and GNP. But when you consider the cost of how slow the PAP were at getting up to spend with managing the new media; and how that has led them haemoraghe good will, confidence, trust along with other invisibles that may not be trackable and reductible into a tabula data.

Then it is easy to understand why this will come back to bite the PAP – as Internet years are very much like space years, one year is an eternity, one year on earth is just 365 year, but in space time that period of time could well be 59 years or life time depending on how close or far you are from a black hole. So Internet years should be seen in those terms to truly appreciate what PAP lost in those ten years in Absurdistan.

The take away from this lesson is even if the PAP didn’t know how to project into the digital realm – they could have gone off line and just picked up the phone and said, “I am throwing a BBQ, do you want to come?” They could have done this through a friendly liaison officer like when we project into distant and faraway galaxies in our own game – where we create a congenial –  I get to know you and you get to know me better platform where there is a big sign outside that says, “put your plasma guns here!” – and through that platform PAP – I think PAP could have made meaningful connections.

I think many years from now, another generation of Singaporeans will have to do a better job of how to grab opportunities from this ‘ lost ten years of PAP in Absurdistan in our nations history.’ The take away lessons will be powerful and instructive – as what it proposes is the idea, doing something is better than doing absolutely nothing, except reinforcing failure – and even if they revert back to pre-internet old fashioned face to face interaction, that would still be progress.

I happen to be a great believer in networking – sit down for a meal if possible, don’t make it official. You don’t even have to talk about politics, it could cars, football or whether it might be a good idea to turn the AYE into a giant canal – talking is so important – either that or we are just stuck on first gear playing police and thief. I sue the shit out of you et al – surely, there must be more to this! I mean this doesn’t even make sense – as when you take all the narratives in blogoland and square them off – all we are doing is working towards a better tomorrow in Singapore. Yet why is there so much grief and strife? Regrettably these thought provoking questions could only have transpired in a face to face conversation. A conversation that never took place for ten years. Now another conversation seems to be going on in earnest. But it’s hardly a conversation at all is it. And that has to be sad, as I can’t help asking them – do you want to waste another ten years?

To me a conversation is always a plus no matter how you decide to see it. Whether there are any measurables to be gained from having a conversation is not important – the most important thing is connecting first. The rest will come after that. Of that I am very sure. But you’ve to be the one making the effort to connect first. As no matter what you say – there’s always a chance that the otherside will see the world slightly differently after that conversation – to me it’s a opportunity that only a fool would pass up!”

Understand this gentlemen! They will NEVER teach you this in Harvard Business School. Never!

The short cut to success that is.

I will speak plainly – if you’re really serious about succeeding as a businessman – you better set aside your prejudice for women and if possible cultivate the skills how to make them like you.

You see to me, it’s simple economics – women have alot of say in how business is conducted these days. Especially beautiful women. As when they married an eighty year old oil palm tycoon – they were probably in their early twenties. And since all of these spell binding beautiful women inherited vast estates when their husbands kicked the bucket – today they are the indisputable kingmakers in the plantation world. So the adage, it’s a man’s world misleads.

Another reason why it makes perfect sense to leverage on girl power is simply because in a woman’s world – it is possible for water to defy gravity and flow uphill –  for instance, women can favor a man for wholly trivial and non economic reasons. A man however will only favor another man, if you’re in the same league as him or can supply something that he needs. My point is men tend to be strategic and transactional. While women are driven by their hormones and the different phases of the moon – a woman can even decide to back you right up to the hilt for really stupid reasons like, she just likes your voice or the way you walk and compliment her hair etc etc etc.

That simply means as a business man your return on your energy is significant higher when directed to a woman when compared to a man – you dont even need to be rational or prepare a business case or for that matter go through the hassle of hatching ten bullet points why she should stick her neck out for you. She just needs to like you – that’s the only KPI you need to fulfill. Conversely for a man you have to literally turn lead to gold, crack your brain till steam comes out of your ears along with jump through endless hoops just to get that sort of gearing – and most of the time, it’s as efficient as throwing out canon balls to propel a boat forward – with a woman all you have to do is carry her shopping when she goes to the mall or wait for her while she fixes her hair and that’s really enough to convince her that you’re a decent bloke whose worth backing.

That’s one reason why if you want a grief free pasage to success in the business world – you better learn to be comfortable with ultra rich and beautiful women. You will find that a woman is much more dependable than a man in the long run – as since they are all emotional and irrational beings, they can even be relied on to fix anyone who tries to kill you in the business world EVEN if you happen to be in the wrong – they will stand by you through thick and thin.

CAVEAT: Just make sure you don’t mislead her and keep your dick superglued to your underwear. otherwise you will wish you never ever went into business. As nothing in this world is as dangerous as a angry and powerful woman – she can do anything including commit murder. I kid you not!

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“When I first turned the wheel of life as farmer – my enemies would often spread vile rumors to undermine my good standing. They did this to make life unbearable for me so that I would throw in the towel and leave. It hardly requires any elaboration – tell a lie again and again. And some point it will just morph into a verson of the truth.

As a consequence many people became convinced that the Devil lived on the hill – so entrenched was this suggestion that I was not of this world and belonged to that other world – that it was no uncommon for people to run away from me whenever they saw me. Blame me if their cow keeled over and died. And to even shun me quite openly.

Even after I had destroyed my enemies and established myself as a landowner – this rumor persisted.

One day out of the blue –  I received an anonymous invitation from a secret admirer for a tea luncheon in a very large estate. I remembered going to second hand shop that specialized in selling the possession of dead people and bought a bush jacket for $9.99 – the owner suggested that if I bought another. He would even consider throwing in a pair of leather shoes – they were heavy shoes the variety that gentlemen planters would wear in plantations – the sort that are so indestructible, if you didn’t have a hammer around the house and needed to bang in a couple of nails. I am sure it would probably get the job done with admirable ease.  

To cut a long story short – eventually after much self convincing or hypnosis that networking would be mother’s milk along with endless vacilitation and coming to terms with my tattered self esteem – I managed to amble my way to this party. 

As soon as I entered the hall, I could tell from the expression of everyone that they were very surprised to see me. Especially my enemies. As this was the first time that they had seen me inside their inner social circle.

Naturally, they made sure that no one spoke to me. They even made is clear I wasn’t welcomed. But I am not the sort who ever makes it easy for other people to make my life miserable.

Even then, a man can only take so much beating without going down for the count – and somewhere after by third or fourth bourbon – I started questioning, “what am I trying to prove?” That was when I found myself wandering around this large plantation mansion all by myself while the rest of the guest were in the lawn – in the library, I discovered a handsome violin on the sill – till this day, I don’t know what possessed me to suddenly pick up this instrument and just play it – I played a miniature by Debussy and while it lasted all my worldly problems melted away like lemon drops.

When I finished my heart was completely at peace. That was when I heard a woman’s gentle voice,

“You are not the monster they say you are.”

I turned around and looked at her and smiled. It was my secret admirer and suddenly I knew everything would be fine from now onwards. I just knew. You see I have been fighting for so long like an animal that I didn’t know how empty I had been till I was filled…and I so needed to hear those kind words – it was as if a flower unfurled somewhere in the sparse desolation of my heart and suffused the whole world suddenly with color – I will never forget that one act of kindness. Never.

I think the moral of the story is, you don’t need the whole world to believe in you – you don’t even need your sweetheart, wife, family or anyone who is supposed to love and care for you to believe in you either. Because some times that how life is – they just don’t believe in what you’re doing. And you can’t blame them – as they think the whole world is like Singapore, so they probably don’t even know what you’re going through.

I realize they are supposed to encourage and nourish you and all that, but sometimes, they’re so caught up with their own daily problems that they just don’t have the time to care. My point is whether they believe in you is really optional.

As to make a real difference, all you really need is one person to believe in you…even a perfect stranger is good to go…and that’s really enough to make all the difference in this world.”

When I first started to turn the wheel of life as a farmer. I was just a simpleton who was happiest minding my own business –  planting row after row of palms – one day I saw an immaculately dressed rich landowner in a creme bush jacket standing beside a shiny black Mercedes looking down at me from high above. He was on a hill – I took off my baseball cap and waved at him – he merely looked on impassively. I remembered his features, they were granite hard and he had an aloofness about him that was characteristic of all landowners – as if he was fashioned from stone – that very night, gangsters knocked on my small little hut. I was told, if I wanted to live, I should consider selling my tiny veggie patch to him and return back to Singapore. So I fought them all and eventually his lands became mine.

After that, that motherfucker cobbled together a motley crew of landowners to fight me. And I fought them all tooth and nail. I gave back as good as I sucked it all up.

Eventually all their lands became mine. And another came. I fought them as well. I have been fighting so long that I cannot even remember not fighting. 

One day when I was sitting down in kopitiam minding my own business munching on kaya bread and kopi O kauh – a group of businessmen sat down on my table. They poured me tea and called me taipan – that was when I realize there was no one else to fight in this valley.

Recently, I cast my eyes across another valley – as I need more land. That was when I saw him from a promontory – he looked like just a simpleton who was happiest minding his own business – planting row after row of palms in his veggie patch. When he saw me, he took off his baseball cap and smiled innocently. The man had just finished wiring his chicken coop. It was a beautiful smile and if I had to hazard a guess, this must be his first run at a season. They all have that wide eyed look of optimism when they’re new. I remembered muttering to myself – As I looked down from high above. I could tell this man had absolutely no idea that an invader was standing right before him or even the slightest inkling why I had come all the way here.

At that very moment, a storm of memories swept across the desolate plains of my consciousness…and I remembered who I am and whence I came from …that was when I looked down and said to myself, “Yes….I understand now….I understand completely”….the circle is now complete…I have come full circle.

I finally understand…I understand completely..the horror…the horror.

I get stronger. I can feel it – a dark primal force coursing through my veins. Everything is suddenly rendered sharper. The world suddenly stands out like cut crystals. Even breathing hurts. As the air feels like needles and thoughts acquire speed.

As for my body, it’s like dragon skin – it feels strange to my touch, as if my muscles are shrink wrapped really tight and every cell in my body is screaming to pop right out.

But beneath this strange sensation of having successfully made it through the other side without hardly a scratch – there’s a very dark undercurrent that over shadows everything else. I can’t pin point it just yet. But I know I’ve lost something – I can even feel that loss – something died in me – maybe it’s another slice of goodness peeling off and suddenly dropping loose.

I tried searching for it, but it’s too late – it went down into dark waters and now all there’s left is a swirl.

The change is so imperceptible small, it’s hardly noticeable. I know humans cannot sense it, but dogs can I reckon. A faint vapor of evil. Then again people who don’t know how to wage war should not be dabbling in Warcraft. Besides they should know, no one can hear you scream deep in a oil palm plantation.

Today when I return home. My dogs were all still and silent. Usually they would all be as excitable as spinning tops whenever I appear – but there they were looking on from afar….as if transfixed by something alien. It was as if they did not recognize me momentarily.

What are they afraid of? Can’t they see, it’s their master. Or maybe they see something else…..whatever it is… It cannot be a very pleasant sight.

I feel very sad that I am slowly losing whatever little good left there is still in me. Words can never describe the depths of my sorrow….never.

————————————————————-

“When people say it’s lonely at the top. They don’t mean it literally, as in no one wants to be with them. That’s not the sort of loneliness they’re referring too. Don’t ask me how I know – I just know. To me the feeling is closer to a profound sense of abandonment bordering on estrangement. A dispora of sorts where one even cultivates a sneering look at the world – it’s a state of mind that most people don’t ever need to develop. As to be quite honest, when you’re down at the bottom – there’s nothing much too lose or even defend.

But at the top. Everyone is an enemy. You see a car parked outside your home – it means, they’re out to kill you. If someone is nice to you – they want a piece of you – that atttiude can only come from having seen too much and thinking about things that ordinary folk don’t ever need to mull or lose sleep over – things that you can’t even share with your closest loved one’s. As you don’t want their world to ever change for the worse. You see your kids and you say to yourself, “let them keep their innocence” – it’s a vampire thing…you’ve crossed a line somewhere in your head and now you see the world different from everyone else – you find yourself going through questions like….is he trying to cheat me?….are they conspiring my downfall?…. Like windmills in your mind spinning in the night when only the sweet sound of sleep resonates. But you’re wide awake. You and your paranoia – at times you just wish, you could dig a hole in some place that’s not even in the map and whisper all the things bouncing in your head and stuff it up with a clump of dirt. You believe that may make you feel better. But it doesn’t. As the things that you know, no one can ever understand. How can they? They don’t even know what you’re talking about – to them the world is simple, but to you it’s like opening the back of a watch, it’s fucking complicated – other people might read about it in a novel – seen it in a movie. But they’re none the wiser for it. But you know. You’re like one of those battle hardened grenadiers whose seen it all. And if you shared with them what you did – they will probably think you are some monster…so you keep it bottled up and carry this time bomb around with you….hoping that it doesnt explode and make a mess…now you see why, these people at the very top are not so different from someone shipwrecked in a solitary shark infested island – they may have all the money in the world, but it’s all meaningless, just decimals that all add up to whole lot of nothing. As they are so incredibly alone that no one can ever understand. Absolutely no one like Will Smith in that movie, I am Legend – that at least is what I think they really mean, when they say – it’s lonely at the top.”

This is a true story…

There once lived a very egoistic and foolish landowner who believed – to get the highest performance out of his workers – they would have to be constantly spurred on with whips and scorpions.

This foolish landowner would often set impossible task for his farmhands – he would often  be heard recounting, “light a fire underneath a man’s backside and he will learn how to jump and run!” – for instance, if it took ten men to dig a ditch. He would insist that it could be done with only five. He even suggested it was possible for his harvesters to work in the rain. Despite the high rate of men falling sick. This greedy and foolish landowner got his way.

In the beginning it seemed, his beliefs were proven true – as in the first year not only did his estate manage to turn a handsome profit, but yield also increased.

On another valley across the river, there was another landowner who did not seem very interested about profit, productivity or for that yield. In fact many other landowners considered him a peculiar chap – as he was often seen living like a labourer and was often out in the field instead of the golf club – this man would often prioritize the welfare of his workers. At times, he would often forgo higher productivity just to keep the well being and moral of workers in top form. As this man believed in the simplistic idea: a happy worker is a productive worker.

It was not uncommon for this man to spend so much time in the field that even his workers wondered to themselves – why does this wealthy landowner live in a tent full of holes and eat gruel when he can enjoy life in his big mansion on the hill – when his workers worked, this man would often be seen working beside them rain or shine.

But unknown to many, even those closest to him, this man had a plan. He would often increase the workload of his workers without them realizing it – always leading from the front – this he did in steady increments which they hardly ever noticed. And since these alterations were so subtle, often his workers did not register any hardship, discomfort or sickness at all. In this way, he was able to steer them to higher productivity without them even realizing it.

In the first year, this farmer did not manage to produce stellar yields. In fact he lost money and many even consider him a bumbling fool who had no business dabbling in plantation. But as time went by everyone began to notice his yield growing exponentially. Not only that, his men could even work under the harshest conditions. As for his lorries, they could carry the heaviest loads in plantation road during the rainy season. Something which was once considered impossible. Soon his productivity even outstripped the productivity of the foolish farmer. Above all everyone wanted to work for his farmer and his sphere of influence grew to a point where whenever he spoke, others will prick up their ears.

As for the foolish farmer. Each preceding year his yield dropped lower and lower. As all his good workers had either moved to the village across the river or had grown so demoralized and disillusioned by his relentless obsession of growing at every cost and opportunity, that even they could no longer be counted on to see this grand design through. 

One day, the yield of the foolish farmer dropped so low that he found it impossible to keep up with his monthly repayments to the bank. Eventually he was forced to sell his lands to the wise farmer across the river. He was last seen taking to bottle to drown his sorrows. Rumor has it from time to time, the foolish farmer would be heard recounting to anyone who might me interested to hear his lament,

“I was cheated by the devil. He stole my lands. Beware of him, he wears a baseball cap and talks to himself.”

————————————————————–

“The Ancients wrote, ‘Lead a family in the way you would fry a small fish.’ This to me has always been very instructive in business. What they meant to say is be very careful that you don’t overdo a thing – as when it comes to some things that r important such as family, business and country, when a thing is over done, usually it cannot be undone and you may have to eat it even if taste like army boots.

Recently, LKY suggested, the low baby birth rates has nothing to do with his ill conceived “two is enough” policies. But the fact, he even feels the need to rebut this after nearly 40 years – I think speaks volumes ( I will leave it to you, the perceptive reader to figure out whether he is related or a reincarnation of Nostradamus).

My point is once lousy policies seep into the ground water of society. Frequently, they stay within that substrate of consciousness for generations – and that is especially true when it comes to governing a family or country – it’s not like playing a video game, where if you fuck it up. All you have to do is press the reset button and play again.

Sometimes when you fuck it up – you will have to live with that social fall out like Chernobyl. You may not even have another opportunity to try again. At times that screw up can be so monumental that its even irreversible!

And this underscores the need to manage change intelligently – as change is often necessary to stay competitive. That’s given. No one denies this! Not even those who are critical of the government denies this! Not the opposition or even the tea lady in your office who is not happy about how 3 in 1 coffee seems to be rendering her obselete. So whenever officials couch the whole argument in terms of only reducing the entire argument for change in – change or stay the same – I feel they are very disengenous to do so. As the vast majority of people have already accepted that change is inevitable.

The issue of contention as I see it is – how does one go about managing change? One needs to be always mindful that there are two faces of change – one side is wholesome and the other is destructive change – just as there is healthy and unhealthy competition. Or even good or bad cholesterol. 

When the pace of change is unreasonably fast and unrealistic targets are set – this can only produce stress, grief, low moral and even threaten the idea of well being that makes the whole idea of higher productivity sustainable. Sure in the first few years you will have stellar growth. But as more and more people fall off the thread mill – that’s bound to corrode moral.

As when the pace of change is so hellish that it produces more negatives then good – then surely you cannot blame thinking folk for questioning, “whether it is worth it?” After all, even Grace Fu has no hesitation in questioning the idea, if she cannot turn in a decent living based on X amount of renumeration a year, then she may have to reconsider a job in politics. So why should the man in the street be so different from Grace Fu?

So coming back to the fundamental issue: if the vast majority of people seem to only get high blood pressure, sleepless nights and heart attacks every time they go to NTUC to see how little their dollar can go – then can anyone here please tell me, how reasonable is it to blame them for questioning the whole idea of change? I don’t believe for one moment these people are subversive or trying to run down Singapore – they are just questioning the trade off’s.

However IF the pace of change is well managed and respectful of the strengths and weaknesses of both people their communities – IF change even comes in a considerate way that pays homage to the whole idea of dignity of labor along with provisioning for many a means where they can gainfully actualize their dreams – then, it is possible to grow from strength to strength in a way that is both enjoyable and rewarding – in this way people can only support the whole idea of change whole heartedly – as they can see the magic working in the lives of their loved ones and their circle of friends – when change is well managed and respectful of people’s needs and aspirations, it can be something that is truly edifying, nourishing and even a source of great happiness.

But to insist that change can only come by prioritizing growth even if it means we all have to settle for a lower quality of life. Or that the good life can only come, if all of us buy into the idea of ramping up the population to 6.5 million – then I think, if you keep talking like that, all you will do is make a bloody fool out of yourself. As not everyone is so gullible or naive to believe that sort of simplistic reasoning.

Let me share with you all why – while  no one denies to grow an economy critical mass is needed. But you will NEVER ever find it spoken or written anywhere that the definition of critical mass is either 1, 2, 5, 5.5 or even 6.5 million people.

As when you take the trouble to look around, the world’s most progressive societies have succeeded with much smaller populations. Stuttgart with a population of about 0.6 million is home to Mercedes – they also have the same problem of having to manage an increasingly elderly workforce. But do you see them bringing in Russians? Munich has only a population of about 1.2 million and is home to BMW – again do you see the German PM mooting the idea of bringing in workers to fill that intellectual deficit, Smaland-Sweden with a population of about 0.7 million is home to Ikea and Zurich with a population of about 0.4 million is the financial capital of Continental Europe.

So let us put a bullet into the myth – that is so often propogated by the propagandist press and officialdom that to grow the economy one needs to ramp up the population –  as anecdotal evidence clearly proves this is not only false, but to insist time and again that is true is both dishonest and disengenous.

As many countries, not only Germany but I might add Switzerland, Sweden, the Netherlands, Denmark, Finland, South Korea and Taiwan have also blossomed but with mostly indigenous talents. Do you see any of them trying to squeeze as many foreigners into a telephone booth?

As usual, I give you the facts – you go decide for yourself. 

If you want your business to grow from strength to strength – be mindful that HOW you set about changing a thing – it can either make or break you. And once an important thing is broken, it can at times be like a cracked humpty dumpy….all the king’s men cannot fix it back again. Not even money can solve that problem. You just have to learn to live with a broken thing. You will have to accept it. And worse of all, when you want to change….no one will follow you. Life is very cruel and brutal.

That is why I believe from time to time, it’s  best for leaders to shaddap and just reflect deeply what it really means when a large and intelligent segment of the population say, they prefer a slower pace of life to steroid fueled growth.

I suspect if these ‘leaders’ bothered with the thinking, they will all definitely come to the finality of the realization, “OMG! We may have gone too far!” And that may not be such a bad thing after all. Well that at least is one man’s opinion – my opinion that is.”

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