Africa

December 6, 2013

I spent the whole evening cracking my head trying to balance an impossible excel spreadsheet for my next land acquisition.

Despite my best efforts. I am still unable to square the accounts.

I can only draw one theoretical assumption from all this. It seems the price of land has shot up so high, it is no longer financially viable to farm commercially any longer in Asia.

Farming in Asia, it seems is set to become a multi millionaires hobby like wine growing.

We must all go to Africa.

Africa is the only continent in the world where arable land is still cheap, plentiful and suitable for plantation.

The only drawback I can see about planting in Africa is, it is often still perceived as a lawless place where everyone seems to carry guns.

But I do not think that is a bad thing. Not at all, especially when one considers that also means competition is largely theoretical, non-existent and you will probably be safer in Africa than probably Singapore.

Yes, the future is definitely in Africa.

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“If I have contempt for one aspect of human failing, it is when a man succumbs to his imaginary fears. When one considers how much through the ages has gone to waste on the account of fear, and fear alone. It is a tragedy that I do not believe can be cataloged without doing considerable violence to the history of humanity.

That is why I reserve my greatest contempt for power crazy and unimaginative people, who seem to like nothing better than to put a policeman in the heads of every thinking person.

I reckon the best thing you could do if you are really serious about improving your lot is to take a leaf out of Nelson Mandela’s philosophy of life and grab hold of this policeman in your head, hold him down, slit his throat and watch his life seep slowly out of him.

After that you will be free. Only a free mind can do great things – that is why through the ages, dictators and tyrants have a morbid fear of men who have managed to kill this policeman in their heads.

That is the same reason, why good and noble role models like Nelson Mandela will continue to live on long after their deaths. As for dictators and tyrants, who I wonder even cares to remember them at all….wonder no more why they all seem to do very little except pen books that make great door stops.”

It has been two weeks since the unfortunate passing of Jia Jia. My female 9 month old puppy who single handedly killed a King Cobra, but was mortally bitten.

Jia Jia’s passing has cast a long dark shadow on my lead dog, Richie. When one spends as much time as I do, cut off from The rest of civilisation with only dogs as company. It soon dawns on one, they are not just mindless animals – dogs like us crave for roughly the same things, a sense of belonging, purpose and above all, the opportunity to love and be loved in return.

A week ago, Richie was so saddened he dug up the resting place of Jia Jia – I do not know what was going through his mind. Maybe he blames himself. After all Richie and Jia Jia were lovers. In the days that followed, Richie would often sit beside the resting place of his dearly departed often foregoing his meals.

Recently, I bought a new bitch roughly the same age as Jia Jia to chase away Richie’s melancholy – it wasn’t easy. As most dog breeders seldom sell one year old puppies. But with a bit of luck and influence from the super wide network of the gaming community. I managed to secure a real beauty with long slender legs and a lithe frame like a greyhound – a thoroughbred from Bavaria, Germany. Her name is Rita – and from the looks of it, Richie is head over heels in love again.

I don’t ever want my dogs to feel sad. It breaks my heart to see Richie skipping his meals and loafing around like a sourpuss. Watching both of them romping around the grounds now. I feel a deep spirited sense of accomplishment that although I cannot bring back Jia Jia – at least I can chase away the blues for Richie.

I am especially fond of Richie. As he was one of four of the first litter of dogs that I brought along when I first ventured into plantations.

People often say money cannot buy happiness – that may well be true of picky humans. But not so for dogs it seems. From the way Rita and Richie seem to be getting along – I don’t for one moment doubt….life may still be cruel….but at least suffering is optional.

If only it was so simple for humans…..if only.

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The process of getting to know each other in the dog world is a complicated affair – fortunately Richie is the quitessential alpha male dog. If he was born a man. He would probably be a cigar chomping CEO of a multinational or a industrialist. There is nothing remotely metrosexual about him, he’s all man and musk. So I left the breaking in of Rita to him – this is often a traumatic process, when a new dame is paired with a sire. As the politics of doghood can be a rough and tumble affair. Nonetheless, Richie seems to well able to strike the perfect balance between serious and playful, hard and soft, authoritative and forgiving etc.

Rita now wears Jia Jia’s collar. Richie my lead dog knows instinctively this means she is Jia Jia’s replacement and he will play a key role in showing her the ropes along with body guarding her on the first day at work. My dogs are hardly causal pets, they perform nut and bolt duties like fence inspection, patrolling along with guarding me day and night. The routine is embedded in their psyche.

My hope is Jia Jia’s (the world most courageous dog who once singlehandedly killed a King Cobra twice her size) spirit will somehow permeate Rita.

I woke up early in the morning to watch both Richie and Rita performing their first work detail of the day – fence inspection. The objective in this exercise is to detect any anomalies in the first level of security, the parameter fencing. I could tell that Richie was very patient and loving to Rita. Often he would pause, if she felt hesitant. At other times when she strayed off the path, he would gently nudge her back to the safety – though the fence inspection took three times longer than usual – they performed well as a team considering it’s their first assignment.

I am happy Richie is happy with Rita – very happy.

hyiu

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“Today I met a batty woman who came up to me and told me that I should repent. I told this strange woman who stood before my giant 4×4 Toyota, she was trespassing and told her to move aside or I will have to drive over her.

Again she told me to repent. This time proclaiming in a loud booming voice, ‘renounce your heathen ways!’ I told her, if she could supply me one good reason, I will take off all my clothes and prostrate myself before her God – right there and then. When this woman heard this, she gasped and some of her friends proceeded to faint.

This woman went on to tell me that God had blessed me bountifully. She went on to recount, since I am doing so well, her God must have certainly placed his hand on me and I should at least show my gratitude by making a point to attend church every Sunday and to make a donation.

I told her plainly – I shall do no such thing. As my apparent success has nothing whatsoever with any form of divine intervention of any kind – to the best of my knowledge my apparent good fortune is due primarily to my dedication and hard work to continouosly improve my craft as a planter.

She called me a proud and arrogant man who deserved to be called the devil……somewhere in her rant she even asked, ‘are you going to turn me into a frog?’ I told her that would not be necessary, as she already looks like a toad and wished her a very good day and drove right off. Somewhere between two palms, I remembered a stanza from Dante’s inferno,

“I rather rule in hell than be ruled in heaven….”

How very true.

When you read the propagandist nation destroying press. This latest move by the custodians of power to ‘control’ the Internet – is frequently juxtaposed along two main themes, government versus blogger.

But ask yourself a simple question. Who else may disagree with the latest moves.

When you see it all. In this new, all encompassing perspective, then you will understand why all these ill conceived policies directed towards the Internet can only militate against the custodians of power.

As the on going melee is not about blogger versus government. As it remains and will probably always be: every thinking person versus the government.

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“In the not to distant future (hopefully lah). There will be a not so new chapter of the Singapore story, entitled prosaically “The day they were all booted out!” (could possibly even be adapted as a musical).

In this chapter prefidious faced history students are frequently asked, “when did it unravel?”

To which they will all say – “When they tried to stop thinking people from speaking their minds in the Internet….when they tried to intimidate them…..when they tried to control everything like they do in the real world….

To be perfectly honest with you, I am not too concerned of the latest moves by the ruling party to exert greater ‘control’ over the Internet.

After all, while no one disagrees that it’s seemingly possible to ‘control’ the Internet through regulatory laws – but how does one actually go about controlling the individual from thinking and expressing the things they do?

How does one even go about stopping whole masses of people from peering into darkened interiors, speculating, postulating, connecting the dots and even drawing opinions concerning their objects of interest?

How is that possible?

Besides what the custodians of power seem to be forgetting is the genie is already truly out of the bottle and prancing around – and what they are really trying to do is put up more physical walls to make it difficult for people to express themselves.

But we all know when the cost of speaking up becomes too costly – then what will invariably happen is that, the narrative will simply migrate underground.

And when that happens, on the surface it may all look and sound very good – as you don’t see anyone slagging off the government any longer. But what it actually means is they are talking about them elsewhere….that’s all it really means.

So nothing will ever change….if anything after this whole exercise to control the Internet…..don’t be surprised if the government of the day just comes across as a fumbling giant that is so confused that no reasonable thinking man will ever believe they are the purveyors of the good life any longer.

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“The public is like a woman. You cannot force a woman to love you. You may consider chaining or locking her up. But I don’t believe that is a very good idea.

Recently a fat man confronted me in the Bak Kut Teh shop. He claimed that I was trying to fool around with his wife. I asked him politely in what way am I trying to fuck his wife. He said, I was starring at her – I told him that is not possible as I wear my sunglasses day and night – that’s when he suggested, I should only come to eat between the hours of 8 and 9 in the morning – he went on to say this was the best solution. As he will try not to bring his wife when I am there.

But what this fool doesn’t realize is his wife still packs food for me – as it’s generally well known in the community that I eat a lot.

So one day when he was tailing his wife and she ended up in my plantation with a thermos of soup – this fat man wanted to fight with me.

I told this fat man plainly, he was no match for me. But since he insisted, I gave him a good kick in the stomach shortly after the fight began. Thereafter he began wailing like a old woman and recounting to me how a fortune teller once told him his life will be so sad – I told him calmly, the root of his problem is that he is trying too hard to control his wife and this is why she is rebelling against him. I told him plainly this whole idea of trying to put a policeman into his wife’s head will never work. As women by nature have their own mind and they will always do their own thing despite what others may tell them – this I went on to add is wisdom. I went on to tell this fatty that if he continued embarrassing me in public, I will have no choice but to take his wife away from him, fuck her and upload it in YouTube. I went on to tell him in a serious tone that if that ever happened, he would be a laughing stock – alternatively, he could buy my latest e-book – how to succeed in life like a Mossad agent which incidentally comes with a free mug (Mandarin translated version) – take my advice and act on it and in that way I guaranteed him that his wife will never look at any man again except him.

So after some coaching – eventually this fat man’s wife became more loving to him. As time went by, his wife stopped her bad habit of wandering off whenever he was not around – these days whenever I see him and his wife in the Bak Kut Teh store – he always invites me to sit with them – it seems these days he considers me a kindred spirit who has managed to save his crumbling doom and gloom marriage.

I think in life, if you want to win someone’s love and respect – then it doesn’t pay to behave like an unreasonable tyrant. It makes far more to earn the love and respect of your better half….and if possible to right many of your ways that prevents her from loving you fully…. to me is the only reliable way to love and to be loved in return…only very stupid and delusional people believe there are short cuts….but to the best of knowledge this is the only enduring way….now you know why whenever I see people diffusing all their energy just to be loved and respected…..I feel so sad for them….I really do.

They might as well go and plough the sea.”

In the Gong Fu martial arts of Hon Kuen – there is a chapter known as the vermillion curtain – ‘Pak Sau Heng Kah,’ each quatrain consist of a seven movements further divided into another twelve or thirteen movements – to learn this chapter the ancient weapon of silent death must first be mastered….the bow….and arrow.

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“No two arrows are ever the same. They are like people when you look at them fleetingly on a train platform, they’re all the same like wallpaper.

It takes a while to realise this. You probably have to practise quite a lot on the same quiver of arrows to get to know how each of them flies – in a sense arrows are very much like people.

As although they like probably all of us started life the same, through time, some of them have gone slightly crooked as a result of hitting something really hard, lost their balance or are simply so worn down they can’t even fly straight any longer even if they wanted to.

But that doesn’t mean that it’s time to get a brand new dozen of arrows – as even with a quiver of old arrows each with it’s peculiarity, each unique to call it’s own – has a character, that should not be feared, but rather understood and appreciated.

By knowing how each arrow takes flight and cuts through the wind…to find the mark. Knowing so intimately one is even able to imagine it’s flight in the mind’s eye…slowly….carefully like a serpent in the air.

To know is to understand the power of a thing – only then is possible to bring out the best in this thing that the rest of the world sees as meaningless – a slightly crooked arrow for instance has a habit of veering either to the right or left, can very easily be made to fire like a curve ball – where by pulling and twisting the string ever slightly in the cocked position and releasing with only the fingers, such an arrow can even swing around a tree and hit a target hiding behind it – even a blunt headed arrow in many cases can be more effective to bringing down large prey when compared to a sharp spear tip, especially if it can find a wafer thin bony section on the head, such as the temple bone to deliver a shocking blow.

Every arrow flies differently – each has its strenght and weaknesses, quirks – every arrow is so special and purposeful in it’s form and function to serve the accomplished martial artist who is only concerned about developing his mind, body and spirit – above all every arrow is a guru and they all add up to offer the bow hunter limitless possibilities of wisdom.

This is the highest acme of archery to meditate on the flight of a single arrow…..to even use this idea as a metaphor to see the world….and to only strive to be at one with this thing before you…..to go so deep into it’s Dao and understand it from the inside out.”

To the best of my knowledge, there exist only one reliable way to fight lies.

And that is by forwarding the truth.

If the custodians of power resort to arm twisting methods instead of common sense to win – then I do not see how it is possible for them to preserve either their prestige or legitimacy in the eyes of thinking folk – that medieval method of reasoning may have worked in the age of sail, candles and ivory dentures. But I do not for one believe it is in synch with current times – as even farmers like me who would squat and look on from afar at this great diffusion of energy would wonder to themselves,

‘What kinda insecure pariah dog court is this? If it cannot even rebut a crumbly allegation from a blogger in a civilised and congenial way without resorting to the mad cap idea of using an atomic bomb to control pest – why do they even need to muzzle people from expressing what is in their minds? Why are they so fearful of public scrutiny? Above all how does this entire exercise measure up to the aphorism, justice need not only be done, it must be seen to be done….this is what the wise will always ask.”

Only very stupid people I reckon will stop others from speculating, postulating and drawing all sort of conclusions concerning their objects of interest. Such people do not deserve any respect at all, they deserve a pair of supersonic flying shoes.

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“Recently a group of businessmen tried to cheat me by trying to peddle off land that was good for nothing as prime farming land.

Now of course I am very angry. I am sure if you were me, you too would be very angry as well – consider the effrontery, temerity and lack of respect.

It will not be an exaggeration if I told you all – I feel like slapping each and everyone of them.

But what am I supposed to do? Do I behave like a Hong Kong gangster and threaten to kill everyone just because I believe they disrespected me. In this case even if I want to do that, it is not possible. As many of these businessmen are much bigger than me.

So all I can really do to show my displeasure is my refraining to fellowship with these businessmen for tea – that is all it takes for my displeasure to sink right in – trust me, eventually the message will percolate and spread in the grapevine – eventually everyone would all realise the devil is not happy. Eventually they would all come to realise that I am a man who is prepared to forgive (although that is an outright lie lah, I never forgive!) the indiscretion of others.

Above all when I do this, no one ever can say, I am a ruthless man who likes to pick fights, destroy my enemies and raid their lands – when I first started farming, I had to be cruel and even heartless to crush my enemies. That is the politics of farming. But now I cannot do this any longer – I need to be mindful of managing public perception – as public opinion may turn against me if I am too cavalier.

This way is best – as others will say, the devil just wanted to turn the wheel of life amongst us. Besides it’s not his fault, that he is stuck here. It’s not as if he disturbs anyone. But these fools wanted to cheat him. Even then he is so forgiving that he does not curse their lands or their generations – all he does is to keep to himself…he must be so saddened.

I think sometimes, it may not be such a good thing to take yourself too seriously. Or to be so drunk on the idea of self importance to even believe for one moment the whole world revolves around you. It’s best to come down to earth and just remember that no one gives two shits about how much land you have! All they really care about is whether you treat them well and fairly – that’s all there is to it.

Only mentally unstable and delusional people who have no idea how to manage conflict in the terrain of the hearts and minds will jump up and down whenever others transgress them. They must really believe the sun shines through their asshole!”

We all want to live right. We all know that right living produces the happiest and healthiest way to live. We don’t ever want to stray too faraway from right living – that’s why we make sure we go to right schools and if we don’t, we try our best to brush up on the lot life has dealt us – above all we want to live right…but…..

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“I don’t have a problem going up to strangers and talking to them if I happen to find them interesting. No. I’ve never had that problem. Not at all.

Other people may have a problem with that idea, but never me.

Recently when I was in the old quarter of Beach Street in Penang. I came across this woman who was composing pictures using an old film loaded Leica rangefinder.

I could tell she had an eye for composition, angles, proportion, scale and light. I could tell she was comfortable working with film and regularly shot only with fixed lenses.

So I found her very interesting – as its rare these days to come across people who still shoot in film. This may not be a big thing to people who grew up in the digital age, but since I did most of my growing up in the occasional only digital and mostly in rubber band, duct tape analog age – shooting in film is really quite another language that I don’t believe can be adequately explained to those who have never used a film camera before – it’s really another world within a world. A world of understanding the nuances of light and how it reacts to chemicals. How the different hues of colors can be caressed to life in only a dark room with a deft hand – above all, there used to be a time when a roll of 35mm only yeilded 36 shots.

And the idea that you really only have 36 opportunities to take a great shot – I think is a very powerful metaphor that imposes a sort of discipline to the whole idea of photography that today doesn’t exist at all. There’s mystery, art and whole idea of arcanum – today, if you want to take a picture at night, all you have to do is select an icon of the night scene on the camera and a microprocessor would probably produce a terrible shot – but in the age of chemical photography, it all has to calculated by hand.

It’s a slow and old world. Where the photographer is always struggling to find the best angle for the composition, light and color to produce just the picture he already has in his head.

I think if you can read to this point. Then you would understand why I ended spending the rest of the day and evening with this fascinating woman who I had just chanced upon.

We really have a lot in common. But I also believe to get to that point. Then you really need to make the effort to connect – and when you strive for that sort of commonality with anyone then I think they see the world slightly different from the way, they have always seen it.

And that is not a bad thing – not at all. The idea of reaching out, searching for and always being mindful of meeting that someone who may provoke you to think about life in a different way.

To always search for that nugget of wisdom to be able to live right by your and your terms alone and no one elses….to be able to set aside your pretensions, ego, lust etc etc to believe in the idea – when a man works diligently to find himself through others and NEVER himself – he will be less selfish, more forgiving and above all humanely grounded….when you see life from that sort of perspective, then I think living right is rocket science.

As it requires you to do so many things that you’re not really comfortabke with…..but I dont think that is a bad thing. Not at all….it just means you stretching that much further into the field of possibilities.”

Dog & Man

November 29, 2013

Don’t ever try this on a dog that you didn’t raise from a puppy. Especially if it’s a Doberman.

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“I don’t blame people for trying to cheat me. I just think there are stupid to have underestimate me. I can farm better than anyone in this world.

I have chlorophyl running through my veins. I am made of the earth. Everything about my being is to be found in a clump of dirt.

And they want to cheat me? To add insult to injury, they wanted to do this with a half baked plan. They probably thought I would fall for it – like in the cartoons when the baddie saws the floorboards underneath the good guy and he falls right thru and everybody laughs – so they wanted to humiliate me.

This evening although having not slept a wink since the torrential storm that blew in suddenly from the east that night – I joined the elders of the village for evening tea.

You see it’s really very simple. Everyone now thinks that I know those clowns were trying to funnel me into the con of the century – but since I don’t bring up the matter. Everyone thinks I am never ever going to let this one go.

They know. I can tell from the nervous glances they all give me. I can even smell their fear. Sense their fleeting trepidation…yes it was all there….I know what they’re all thinking,

‘That bastard will never let it past. He will try to get even.’

I think trust is so important to relationships….don’t you.”

Long night chasing shadows

November 29, 2013

It’s been a very long drawn out night with hardly a moment to rest. It seems like it’s going to be an even longer day by the looks of how no one seems to know to what to do or even who is really in charge.

Some days are what I term epic fuck days – you know, the sort of day when every conceivable thing that can possibly go wrong will just jump unexpectedly at you like a demented Jack in the box.

During such moments – its best to remain very calm. To even allow all the chaos to go right right though you like X ray and to just watch it all go right by. To let it all go….to allow it to slip right out of your hands while you just smile.

Trying to sell me a lemon?

November 29, 2013

Do I come across as an inexperienced farmer. Do I perhaps even manage to convey the idea that I don’t know the difference between a shovel and a hockey stick.

So it came as a great shock to me very recently when a couple of cheap pirates tried to flog off a piece of land that in my opinion was good for just a landfill as prime land.

I wonder could these people harbor suicidal tendencies. Maybe they are bored of living and wish to go to the other side? Or maybe they are just really inexperienced confidence tricksters who have absolutely no idea how to set up a heist?

But what doesn’t make any sense to me is, even if they are new to the art of cheating people – surely they would pick an easier mark besides me. After all could it be, I come across as a push over?

Coming to think of it can I ask a simple question – do I look like someone that you can just pull a fast one on and get away cleanly?

I don’t understand. I want to understand. But I can’t seem to this time. As for this people, I really don’t know whether to laugh at them or just take off my shoes and throw it at them.

Midnight Storm

November 28, 2013

The weather can be very difficult to predict this time of the year – today I spent hours tracing the skies for signs that the weather is changing.

I could tell from a heavy column of clouds moving in the from the east, strong winds were blowing from the South China Sea. I could even taste a hint of mackerel in the air – by nightfall the gulls began to gather at the hill tops and suddenly the wind begin to hollow out – it was a strange sensation like probably pulling the plug in the sink and watching the water spiral all away with a whoosh.

That was how it is – thereafter a tomb like silence that seeps into everything like a thick fog and freezes it like a photograph. I could taste the metallic taste of nitrogen at the back of my tongue. Te air was sharp and felt like needles.

And very slowly it began to fill in again and this time the rains came.

I swear, I could taste mackerel in the rain.

The custodians of power will certainly win this battle, of that I am absolutely sure. But whether they will win the war is not so certain.

Yes, there is a difference between a battle and war. A battle has a start and end date – they’re short. And in a war there can be many battles. And it’s not unusual for one side to win all the battles and still lose the war.

A war is long…in certain cases so long that it may even seep into the groundwater of the collective consciousness – permeating the attitudes and world view of a whole generation.

Above all while the battle is really about the power of the state against the individual – the war is a much larger construct, but what gives it the agency of power is that it is not waged in the courts between lawyers. Rather it is all happening in a domain that’s very private, in the hearts and minds of netizens.

I have a feeling this is set to go viral…

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“No amount of Internet regulation will stop people from speaking their minds. After all, I only live once….so I say and write what I want and it’s really as simple as that. Other people may see it differently –

Will netizens be cowered? Will this latest move send a chill down the digital spine of the Internet? Will the Singapore social political scene be like down town Pyongyang on national day?

I don’t know. I am not Nostradamus, just a simple farmer. But if I had to plumb it – I’ll probably say No! That’s to say none of these moves to muzzle free speech and individualism will have any effect – least of all a plethora of laws designed in my personal opinion as a very efficacious and cost effective way to put a policeman in the mind of every netizens.

You see it is very simple – most people have already undertaken the mental migration to the Internet way of seeing the world – which is contrary to many of the state inspired propaganda that keeps perpetuating the idea blogging is an anti social indolent habit that only afflicts mad people.

When all it really is, is the idea of drilling deeper, peering into darkened interiors, interrogating the system…to me when someone writes and another reads – even on a parchment such as a blog, it cannot be a just a simple thing.

As without the writer or reader realizing it – the moment there is such a relationship, then I think you will always continue to see the world slightly differently from the perfidious faced rah rah brigade.

I don’t think it’s realistic to believe in the idea that it’s possible to hammer our key boards back to the age when life was just like that in Singapore – as a corollary of globalization means that culture, values or what you really want to do on a lazy Sunday afternoon need not even be rooted in the idea of country, its now like the air we breathe…it’s everywhere for the taking.

So what’s the point of trying to cage the mind? I don’t think that idea will work.”

To win in politics is not easy in Singapore. Not if you happen to be the opposition.

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“I have absolutely no illusions whatsoever as to the sort of people who may be required to boot out those cheap pirates, none whatsoever.

That I suspect is the defining difference between me and everyone in this forum.

And I don’t imagine anyone who presupposes that oppositional politics can be easy in Singapore can afford be weak. Do you? How’s that for a reality check? Did the earth shake for all of you?

Do you really all imagine I give a two shits about her life or for that matter what she’s going through – what if I tell you there are already many people in Singapore who are already going through much worse that what she’s been through.

Sorry to smash all your happy illusions – but what I see here is someone who is just wholly inept, ill equipped and has absolutely no inkling what it requires to get the job done. None whatsoever – to put it another way, we are dealing with an amateur. Who has absolutely no business dabbling in politics, let’s just leave the brass tacks of statecraft to one side.

Not at all. As to win these people may have to accept the theoretical possibility that they may be destroyed in the process. That to me is a reliable assumption judging from the historical precedent of oppositional politics in Singapore – that incidentally should not be confused with my opinion. Rather that is a statement of fact.

That is why I strongly believe the motivation to conform, tow the line and march to the beat is so pervasive in Singapore that it’s even conceivable there may not be many who see any mileage in aligning themselves with the opposition – as when you consider the oligarchy that they were going up against, then I don’t think, the task can be taken lightly.

And that simply means the only people who have the fortitude, sagacity and determination who can put a decent innings in oppositional politics in Singapore can only be those who can take a punch, roll with it, suck it all up and get up again….and to get up again for what you may ask?

Well the mini skirt answer is to take another punch…and another…yet another…and to do it over and over again…..with absolutely no prospects that they may even be making progress or furthering their political agenda – when one considers the opposition in the Singaporean context, they really have to be the caliber of the elites. Not the bullshit paper mâché variety that is always marketed by the custodians of power – those sissy for your information will die, suffer a nervous breakdown, if they had to endure one tenth of what an opposition politician usually needs to bear – as I said, I have absolutely no illusions whatsoever as to the type of personality it takes to kick out those cheap pirates.

None whatsoever, so please excuse me if I just say to you all – I really have no time for her sappy cry me a river stories.

I think in life, if one is serious about the enterprise of getting it right the first time – then, it never pays to get a sheep to do a foxes job. All you’re really doing, should you decide to invest in that idea, is setting yourself up for a big let down.

And another thing, ain’t no one going to throw flaming balls on fire on me – don’t be ridiculous, everyone knows that farmer’s have an elemental right to call a spade a spade…yes life is cruel. And the sooner all of you sissified folk get to terms with this awful reality, the better it will be for everyone.”

“Satisfied people don’t have time to go onto the Internet. Unhappy people often go there,”

Well, well what do we have here – anyone who blogs now automatically suffers from a character defect?

Let us just leave it there – coming to think of it, there’s a tinge of common sense to what he has to say, then again if he was doing such a good job – then why is everyone so dissatisfied?

Perhaps the solution is not to try to heal the symptom, but rather he should address the root causes accounting for the widespread dissatisfaction on and off line.

Hope

November 23, 2013

Hope. Hope that tomorrow will always bring good tidings, serenity and wholesomeness. Hope that we can all live in peace with our fellow men and even hope that if we lack the patience to do so…we will always endeavor to do the right thing.

Hope. To me it is not just a word. A word is something you just use to describe a thing within the boundaries of it’s dictionary meaning…within the prescribed limits of what it will always be and never what it can be. But hope is different from all these other vapid words.

If I had to choose only one word to bring with me to a place where I fear most to thread but have too – hope will be that word.

As to hope is to believe in the idea that – we may get it right this time round and all our sufferings will be worth it – hope is so important.

Yet often it sits there in the shelve….unseen when it’s right before us.

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“When tough business men say, we make our own luck.” What they really mean is, “I am hopefull.” But since really macho businessmen have a hang up about their ego – they much prefer the manly verb, “make.” Instead of sissy “hope.”

But believe it or not – that in my opinion is what all successful people can do very well. They do it consistently. They do it even when all others throw in the towel.

They are always hopeful.

That is why hope to me is not just an ordinary word – I reckon it has to be like Ohm or maybe Halleluyah. Possibly even abracadabra.

As the reason why I say hope is not an ordinary word is because when you think real hard about it – hope is something that small man is not supposed to have. Hope is only for the movers and shakers, the guy who got that scholarship and the girl as well. Nope. Hope is rarer than beluga caviar in regatta and land tennis season to the cookie cutter, to the man who thinks and perhaps even knows, it’s the only job he can do.

Nope hope is not for the ordinary man, the cookie cutter or the bottom feeder. We are all supposed to suck it in – so hope is really only the preserve of the elite, like a rare reserve Pinot Noire from the cellars of Chateau Lafitte, the freshest Norwegian smoked salmon, truffles, the texture of silk.

And that is exactly why we must all be hopeful – as when a man discovers that somewhere in his life, the word hope can be fashioned even from really crummy circumstances – then I think he would have matured.

As life will always be cruel. Even if you have nothing. It is cruel. And when you have everything you can ever want with the power of money, then you would realize – you require mega doses of hope – impossible hope, hope that is born from hopelessness – that sort of tungsten carbide hope, the variety that you know will never break.

And why do we all do this, to even hope when there is no reason to hope? When you answer that question – then you will realize the story of hope and how that’s really where you discover courage – you now see how one word can even give birth to another. Only in hope can courage come out.

Today is a day of wisdom.”

Vincent versus Bertha

November 23, 2013

“That Bertha Henson, a reporter so thoroughly cut in the SPH mold as to write articles indistinguishable from a government press release, has carried her unsolicited musings into the blogosphere is forgivable, particularly given Warren Fernandez pipped her at the post for the top job. And her limited SPH-midwifed journalistic ability is also forgivable given her narrow worldview. But that her blog should host an equally – if not more (difficult as that might be to imagine) – uninformed expat to comment on an issue he clearly has no knowledge of or insight into is a new low, even for the Breakfast Network. Shame on you Breakfast Network: this is not journalism, this is polemic. Of a tediously unintelligent kind.”

I second that! Well spotted Vincent. Though I much prefer straight forward propaganda to polite polemic. And yes…..agree absolutely, it is of a tedious unintelligent kind. Most definitely.

Darkness 2013

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“Recently, I read somewhere Quick Gun Shanmugam is planning to roll out new laws to straighten the laws on harassment online – I agree completely with him – people who regularly cause hurt to thinking folk should be punished!”

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Somewhere in Northern Uganda many years ago….

The Chinaman cocoa planter of Gabundi estate looked from a hill in the distance as the Akholi tanks rolled into his plantation. He stood there on the same spot through out the afternoon, evening and even through the dead of night right to dawn.

There he stood on the hill watching it all…his farm razed, distant gun shots renting to the shrills of the fallen. Even his tall Matabali 40 something wired framed bodyguard, who had the unusual habit of carrying a karfu spear and a Kahasilli bow, instead of the de riguer AK47 – even he lowered his eyes along with the many braves who watched the carnage from a hidden thicket in the a distance.

They all lowered their eyes – when the saw spired wooden church the Shahidi has built for the Bavarian nun, Eva Mayer – the Chinaman Cocoa planter of Gabundi estate was good with his hands, he could hammer a steel girdle into a ruler. He could weld and so one day….he decided to built a Bavarian church for his one and only love – Eva Meyer.

Yet the Chinaman Cocoa Planter who stood that night peering into night never lowered his eyes.

He just looked on as the fires raged on through the night. From time to time, he would light a cigarillo or pop another Mentos into his restless mouth – he just looked on through and beyond the place he was in and beyond it, to another realm….another place….faraway from this place called hell….to a place that could only be called hope.

Many years latter a wooden legged Sudanese who had a habit of lounging in one of the many tea houses in the emigre quarter of Cairo. A man who claimed to be one of heroes of the Ascension wars would be heard murmuring in whispers. As that is how the Adamako tribe who once served the Shahidi would speak of chieftain – even a dead one – with his right hand over his mouth and in hushed whispers….the emigre that became his tribe would one day say when they sip their pipping hot Sudanese cardamon flavored tea,

‘He watched on through the night…..as they burnt down everything in his plantation…..he even looked hopeful….I wonder why? Did he perhaps see paradise like a man who stands behind and veil just before it was parted…

He looked hopeful. So very hopeful.”

To lose a thing. To see it slip right out from your hand. To discover how utterly powerless you are to stop it from slipping…falling..further and further away, till it’s a faint murmur.

If the word pain had a face, gender and shape, she would I imagine be dressed in material that all adds up to the phrase, ‘to lose a thing.’ Not a very nice woman I would imagine – the sort who likes to blow smoke at your face when you’ll still have that silly look that it’s all gone – you have lost a thing which you once coveted, taken for granted – it could be big or small losses – the passing of a loved one, could be that lump that’s bothering you lately, getting retrenched, losing your self respect as a family man who everyone thought could always be counted rain or shine to bring in the bacon. Unrequited love….lost…can take so many shapes and forms.

You can feel a slice of you dying…shriveling…like an ice shaving in the full blast of the sun.

But you know it has to go right on – life that is.

As when each of us experience a lost no matter how big and small, it’s still a loss. And every sort of loss has it’s own texture, hue and lingering bitter sweet sadness.

The profound sorrow that comes from losing the love of someone who you love with all your heart. The bitter sweet pang that one feels from getting retrenched or past over for a promotion.

Loss has so many shapes and forms…it’s an entire geography of pain……a hemisphere ranging from the very sharp kill you dead with a heart attack! to the languor when a pang of regret swells slowly in you as the storm of memories you rather not conjure are suddenly stirred……loss has endless shapes and forms.

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“Most people in Singapore know this by heart, ‘once bitten, twice shy.’ No where else in this whole wide world, has the sandbox idiom, ‘once bitten, twice shy.’taken to such elevated helium heights except Singapore – where it really doesn’t matter whether you are Holland V Viriginia or Sengkang Sally. Doesn’t even matter whether you’re a corporate high flyer or a Ah Beng working in a car accessory shop.

Like I said at the very beginning most people in Singapore know it by heart – once bitten twice shy.

To me, this sums up the whole power and politics when we deal with loss. We are afraid. As the past cannot possibly inspire us to hope for the best.

So we hold back, keep quiet, stay very still and avoid all eye contact. The longer we do this, the more we begin to turn inwards and instead of trusting our hopes – we begin to deposit our faith in the ballot boxes of our fears.

It is really this lens of seeing the world that we all really find ourselves trying to make sense of the world – as when we are hopeful and not afraid – despite the many set backs and losses we may have all experienced. Then we will not allow our bad experiences of the past to color the outcome for the present or future.

This way we can give it our best.

I am sorry, this isn’t an entry for half way houses – there is no commitment without pain. This is the way I see it, walk through door with even one parts per million of your past and how it continues to haunt you and the chances are, it will all go wrong. As that is what fear can do, even in sand grain particles – fear.

Fear that it would turn out like the last time or since I could ever remember the way it usually turned out.

At some point I guess its natural for every thinking man to ask – why is life so cruel – why does it have to be heart wrenching. But as soon as I am assaulted by such doubts, I almost remind myself intuitively how the good times can also be purchased with commitment – crossing line. A line where you know the person who decided to go the long haul is the right person – you just know.

You make a commitment. As without commitment, how is possible to give it your all. So you need to commit with love – and to love is to always be hurt. The blessing comes with the curse.

As happiness without loss can never be happiness.

No! We humans aren’t old leather. Living doesn’t get easier with age. Life doesn’t get more supple with regular use – it’s always a risk. A risk even when you decide to say yes or no, maybe, perhaps…..or just do nothing.

Life is always a risk….you could find a person or even a puppy raise it up, see it bloom into adulthood and maturing. And in a flash it could all be gone.

But what do you do? Do you say to yourself – because it is so painful, I will never commit or love again?

In which case without love how can you bring out the best in anything.

I reckon it far better to risk it all – to make commitment to a person or endeavor and to see right to the very end. As although somewhere along this journey called life where the yes or no may oscillate endlessly… Perpetually….I would much prefer to go for the full experience than the half way house measure….”

It is a routine all my bodyguard dogs know by heart – when the master lays down on his camp bed for his afternoon siesta beneath the shade of a palm.

My orders are to protect him.

That was exactly what Jia Jia did when she spotted a full grown King Cobra slithering through the first parameter fence – somewhere in this newbie bodyguard Doberman brain, she decided not to alert the experience dogs – a breed that is accustomed to lounge indolently while I sleep.

You have spotter dogs like Jia Jia and the attack dogs who don’t use their radar ears as much as their muscular brawn – killing machines. Who would know exactly how to kill a cobra like a mongoose – every so slowly and suddenly with a strike three fingers from the head.

That at least was what Jia Jia was supposed to do – to just raise the alarm. Instead she decided to take a full grown cobra. And by the time she had killed it – it seem like we all there just looking a Jia Jia as she held the dead snake like a trophy.

I felt proud. As my dogs are not just dogs. It is very difficult to describe to city folk the closeness a farmer shares with his dogs. In the movie “I am Legend,” starring Will Smith – it’s just a movie to all of you. But to man like me who often feels he’s like the only man on this planet all the time – as that is what commercial farming imposed on the man – the very idea that his spatial perception along with scale can all together be pushed to a point where it’s not unusual for this one man to spend the entire day walking around his plantation and not seeing a single person.

A solitary tongue of light. Desolation. The idea of a man who is just walking……but with his dog.

I will stop here. As it suddenly occured to me none of you can possibly understand how close I am to my dogs.

They are my friends like the birds and trees. Kindred spirits cut from the same cloth.

That is why it was so terribly sad for me to realise Jia Jia had been bitten – and from the looks of it, it was full bite.
I realise then it was over.

Travel well my friend….travel.

Life is cruel!

Darkness 2013

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