When I use the term avoidance strategy. Most people may assume I just mean procrastinating or not having the determination to face a difficult situation head on to resolve it, but in the art of war, avoidance means something very different.

As one reality of conflict management that is seldom mentioned is not every case of conflict can be happily resolved.

The root causes of some conflicts are simply too complicated and usually they come enmeshed with so many motivating factors that are all intricately linked in an elaborate spider’s web that often they are simply beyond one’s scope of understanding or even control to resolve. In such cases it is best not to get involve in things that you don’t understand…otherwise you will make the situation worse than what it already is….do not move! YOU ARE IN A MINEFIELD! Do nothing least of all force the outcome with good intentions. Instead avoid it and if possible retreat to a safe distance and observe.

Understanding what you can and cannot do under a given set of circumstances is never a weakness….it is a finely honed strength….a form of wisdom.

Engage only when you see signs that lead you to conclude that a happy end is in sight or that you can make the situation better. Be mindful of the terrain, prevailing sentiments and disposition of your adversary….never move forward is the terms of engagement are not in your favour.

Avoid it!

Avoid it if you are uncertain or unsure of your own capabilities or the final outcome.

Knowing when to engage your adversary and when to avoid him and his allies is key to getting best results. This is not always easy to differentiate….but with practise it becomes easier.

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‘In business it doesn’t pay to be an open book. Don’t allow yourself to be too accessible. Otherwise your enemies will be able discern your temperament by having plenty of opportunities to test your limits. Learn to keep a low profile by being a man of very few words. This way you will keep everyone guessing….and they can never be truly confident or sure about you. Never cultivate the habit of indulging in idle conversations or gossip with people who always seem to have a surplus of time. This will be your undoing.

Instead always keep a dignified distance and strive to be comfortable in your own skin by being alone.

Never avoid being alone. Wherever you have the opportunity to do something by yourself…do it. Be it dinning, sight seeing or watching a matinee all by yourself. Do not be self conscious. As your ease and comfort in being able to be happy all by yourself without using others to distract you from feeling lonely – is the ultimate form of maturity – as it will steel you in so many areas to discipline the mind and true you to the cause of your mission.

City folk do not know of this discipline. That is why they are perpetually having conversations with people they hardly know on their smartphones or always asking their friends whether they would like to hang out together. But in the frontier without this discipline to function alone…it is impossible to be sustainably steadfast and steady. You will suffer a nervous breakdown and go mad! It is 100% certainly. Or worse still end up doing stupid things that you will eventually cause regret or lead you to great embarrassment.

This is the defining difference between the superior and inferior man.

The inferior man will always seek validation and approval from others in the external world….even strangers. That is his Dao. That is because there is a big vacuum inside him and since he has been woefully derelict in the task of filling worthy and interesting things in his inner being to engage and stimulate him that can only explain why he has no other choice but to go around like a vampire and draw out from others the essential raw material to shore up his self worth and even identity along with all known meaning to fill up his bankrupt life.

Such men because they are fearful of being alone can only fall prey to three things in life, hucksters and charlatans and flatterers…they will fritter their fortune on gold diggers, con men and merchants of false hopes. That is their destiny of downfall.

The superior man on the otherhand is first and foremost a mind warrior who is characterised by impeccable cerebral fitness that can only produce clarity of thoughts and actions. His mind is like a razor sharp Samurai sword. Such a man will always prefer to draw strength and conviction from only deep within – his default position is to always seek his own company and be alone.

He does not avoid it…infact this is what he prefers.

The company of others are truly optional to such a mind. As for the vapiness of the external world it will always be chimeric….as it not real.

How can it be real if one’s happiness is predicated on the opinion of strangers that one hardly knows….this is a form of nonsense that can only lead the mind astray.

Many of you will find that as you rise in the business world….it will be very lonely at the top….and this is very natural…never feel sad. Instead see it with a mature spirit.

Embrace loneliness. Do not fear it. Never avoid it. As it is only in this domain where angels fear to thread that a man will truly find himself…it is the natural home of the superior man….to be alone….always….to be marooned in his own mind….as only he can see his goal…and it is futile to share it with others…as they can’t never ever understand it’s importance or even appreciate the sacrifices that need to made to secure success….to be always be misunderstood…hated…derided even….great things cannot come from a weak, indisciplined and frivolous mind.

What I have to say cannot be pleasant I imagine…but it is what it is…the truth and nothing but the truth and the sooner you come to terms with it the more inclined you are to discard your childish ways and be the man of consequence that you were always meant to be…these are the things your parents should have told you. But they did not.’

In business never ever take the ‘NO’ position so forcefully that you end up painting yourself to one miserable corner.

This is because your adversary will in most likelihood be well prepared to counter that position.

Bear in mind they have probably rehearsed all the possible outcomes thousands of times in their head. May have even discussed at length all the various permutations along with how best to respond….should you commit yourself to a firm NO. All you are doing is impersonating a fortress that has to face off against countless seige machines….you will be drawn into a long and protracted campaign of attrition. You will not be able to win decisively simply because the other side has invested more in preparation, thinking and planning. All you can really do if you take a firm ‘NO’ position is open yourself to attack from all possible angles…you will lose.

Instead lure your adversary into believing that their designs are unfolding according to plan…..say ‘YES’…..never allow them to believe that they are encountering any form of resistance…..this will cause them to be complacent and lazy and most importantly they will not see the need for a plan B.

This will buy you surprise. Without surprise on your side it is impossible to win decisively….this is jugular. You must never forget this cardinal rule of war.

Then at the last minute without warning do the unexpected….turn suddenly and unexpectedly from soft to hard….shift your position from yes to no in one blink.

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‘Not long ago. A group of elders asked me whether I would consider making a donation to the village school. One of them went on to recount at considerable length that since I was a highly educated man surely I of all men would appreciate the importance of the act of giving to a good cause. I responded with a firm yes and went on to commend them all for forwarding such a capital idea – that is certainly a noble idea that could only be my privilege to support. I even looked the rest in the eyes with tears welling as if moved by some great indescrible moral force of duty and told them all in a trembling voice as clear as bell….they can all be assured of my support and proceeded to write out a sum for the up coming fund raising school dinner with utmost enthuism. Before I took leave another asked whether I would mind sharing a table. I told this man….I don’t see any issues. I went on to add…its after all for a noble cause. I even made a special request for red garoupa to be served on the third course on my table I shared them all that I plan for my wife and children to join me as they would be visiting around that time….I even made it a point to stress that I would appreciate it if it would not be to troublesome to serve it steamed with ginger and fermented black bean paste. As that is how I prefer my fish. I then thanked them all for their kindness and consideration for extending me an invitation.

But I will never go. On that day I will phone up on the eleventh hour and make up some excuse as I always do….you see it is very simple. I sense a trap.’

On MRT breakdowns

August 19, 2017

In my humble opinion…if you fail. By all means try again and perhaps even again and it could be said again just for the sake of the road. But if after all that one still ends up going around in ever diminishing circles – then it is conceivable that instead of making progress. One is simply reinforcing failure and the best thing to do would be to work with professionals who may have a proven history of managing trains successfully.

There is no shame in my humble opinion to say I have done my best, but yet I cannot seem to make it right and consider working with professionals who know how to run trains. The Japanese for instance have elevated the art of train management to a theoretical science where it could be said they even live, eat and shit trains. So maybe Mr Khawn should consider inviting them to take up equity in MRT.

Like I said, there is no shame in saying I have done my very best, but I still can’t nail it. There is however great shame in telling everyone that the trains are good to go, but no one believes it…as they know otherwise.

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‘In my understanding of the known world there is absolutely no shame in saying I cannot do this or that and I must learn from those who can do it well. For me it is very simple – if I cannot do it….then I cannot do it. It is zero or one. Very simple. There is no room for ego, pride or even such a thing as face.

That is why when I deal with people. Usually I will take off my sunglasses and tell them what I expect. After that I will offer them a sweet. And in the course of doing so I will tell them – by the way, failure is not an option….if you fail me this and that will happen to you. After that they gulp and I thank them for their understanding and consideration and they are promptly dismissed.

The problem is when people who cannot do it insist they can do a good job. And since all too often their insistence is premised on their own deluded estimation of their over inflated ego and pride….all they seem to end up doing is fashioning their own God of delusions which they past off to others as reality that no one can believe in.

Such people are too emotional in my opinion – as they cannot seem to see the error of their thinking. Worst of all they lie to themselves. As a consequence they can only cause many sleepless nights and much inconvenience.’

Mind games

August 18, 2017

News has spread in the grapevine that I successfully completed my replanting in record time. I can control many things but I cannot control people from thinking and talking…those who worked on the replanting must have recounted their version of how it was all done to my business rivals…..he can calculate right down to last grain of sand….he knows exactly how long it would take to dig a trench right down to the minute give or take a few seconds….he has done this before….he’s too experienced….done it not once but many times….no one who has ever pulled this off before would have the balls to do the things he did.

The cat is finally out of the bag. For years I have played the fool and masked my strengths under the guise of just being a lucky fool. Now my business rivals know they are dealing with a professional….a seasoned battle hardened soldier. As only the most accomplished and experienced planter could have have pulled it off. I can no longer use the excuse of luck any longer, I no longer have the power of invisibility. I am now out in the open like the battleship Bismarck. Soon they will form up and hunt me down.

I may have overplayed my hand….but what else could I have done differently. I have enough resources to run wild for another six months, I will attack them full frontal. Yes….I will do that. As that is what they least expect…I will grab more land to the east this time.

I once saw a monkey in a park hold on to a helm of a skirt of a frightened woman who eventually got so distraught she threw the entire packet of peanuts only for the monkey to release it…..Everyone laughed. But not me, as I knew this monkey was an adept practioner in the art of war.

I shall use the same strategy and hit hard. Then I will pretend to cry and take out my good morning oversize hanky and blow my nose and convince everyone in the peace talks that I am a victim of the cruelty of the business world….I will sue for peace.

This is what I will do.

Q: There are some who believe that China is punishing Singapore for being a staunch supporter of the US. That is why they are investing in ports and railways to create alternative trade routes that will bypass Singapore. Then there are others who simply believe it would be naive to assume that China would not invest in infrastructural nodes elsewhere besides Singapore
to further open new trade routes to secure it’s logistic supply of energy. Which one is true?

A: In my opinion as a farmer who only consults his pet parrot on world affairs (cut off)

Q: I have asked a serious question and I and assume the readership would appreciate immensely if you can do us the courtesy of responding in kind.

A: I do apologise. Please let me start again. To say OBOR is huge doesn’t quite capture the sheer immensity of the scale and complexity of the undertaking – it’s like calling the Grand Canyon a giant sink hole.

China in my opinion is not only attempting to construct new trade routes through the Maritime Silk Route and the Silk Road Economic Belt. But it is also a new model of doing things and this is something that I feel is not really discussed and should be. Only because the means to the end this time is equally radical. Radical not only in the methodology, but also how it will be financed as well. Let me share with you I believe this is so important – for the very first time we are witnessing very big infrastructural projects being financed wholly by the $100 billion Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, the $40 billion Silk Road fund which requires the internationalisation of the renminbi and the harmonisation of various free trade agreements and also intellectual property rights between China and those countries that they are investing in.

So if look at what is happening on the brick on mortar side – there is considerable adjustments to intellectual laws pertaining to patents and copyrights. What the Chinese are doing in effect is to establish their own system of governance when it comes to financial instruments to even intellectual rights.

This is important because one aspect of the TPP and how it aspires to put China in a straight jacket is to nit pick on what it can and cannot do when it comes to intellectual property – so in effect this is a means for the Chinese to sideline those constraints.

Besides hundreds of billions of dollars in Chinese funds that are invested abroad. What we are also witnessing is another dimension of Chinese power. Namely its financing prowess and the ability to manage long term loan risk in investments and it is this undiscussed aspect that is key to extending Chinese power across the region.

To do all this requires core competencies not only in just pouring concrete but also how to manage financial risk on a long term basis.

What you need to understand is many of these mega infrastructural projects have traditionally being funded by the world bank, Asian Development Bank and in some cases the IMF. So what we see here is a very significant shift in how things being done along with a very radical shift in both strategy and philosophy as to how loans on country to country basis is structured.

I think when you see OBOR in this light. Then what it actually is, is not simply an attempt to out do Singapore with just providing better port of refitment services. But it is conceivable that the Chinese are also replicate the entire complimentary sets of accoutrements to provide a comprehensive one stop port service ranging from underwriting risk to financial instruments. And I think that is something that should rightly worry the planners in Singapore.

If they worried and keep on insisting that the China and Singapore relationship is hunky dory. Then I say to them – who the hell are you kidding? You think you’re talking to kindergarden kids?

Q: Why is this controlling aspect in managing the financing so important to China?

A: I think it would have to be very important since the AIIB is so new. They need to demonstrate not only the core competencies to be able to manage risk like maybe the World Bank or Asian Development Bank. But there are also issues concerning credibility and credit worthiness.

What you need to understand is outfits like the ADB, world bank and IMF have been around for a very long time. Governments are very familiar in dealing with these institutions. The same cannot be said about AIIB and their counterparts.

Besides what you need to appreciate is when ports and railways are built, this is really just the tip of the iceberg. There is a vast range of accoutrements that need to compliment these mega projects such as power generation, water treatment plants, energy transmission networks, highways, property development, dams, warehousing etc etc.

China already has very mature industries that can compliment many of these mega infrastructural projects – so don’t for one moment think that all they’re doing in dredging deep water harbours and laying down tracks. It’s much more than that – so what we are witnessing from the Chinese angle is the opening of new business apertures for many Chinese firms. And this is not a new economic blueprint. Not at all – that is what the Chinese have been doing in Africa since 1984. If for instance you visit Djibouti in Etiophia. You will not only see a blue water port and a railway. You will also see many Chinese banks, power generation, roads, water treatment plants and plenty of Chinese made heavy machinery and even cars and household appliance made in China – so when we speak about the economic sphere of OBOR, it is really a much bigger construct than anything that the Wall Street Journal talks about. I feel it is this aspect of trade of commerce that will eventually dominate the infrastructural sphere.

Q: Why is China so intrested in ports regionally? Why not make full use of Singapore to fulfill their energy needs?

A: At one level of understanding. We can certainly say ports are extremely important in this pursuit of regional domination. That is why if China decides to let’s say invest in port facilities in Malaysia it is definitely not a personal thing against Singapore. After all China has been making great efforts to develop and control ports in virtually ever theatre in Austrasia – Sri Lanka’s Hambantota Port and Pakistan’s Gwadar Port are both China funded much to the consternation of India. So is the port in Djibouti, Africa. Within Bangladesh a Chinese “special economic zone” and port are being developed in Anwara, Chittagong. In Myanmar, China has invested in a deep-sea port on Maday Island at Kyaukphyu, to facilitate a $2.5 billion pipeline transporting oil and gas to China’s Yunnan province.

In other parts of South-East Asia, China is also seeking to dominate ports as well as shipping between ports, with Laem Chabang in Thailand, Sihanoukville in Cambodia, Batam in Indonesia and Northern Sumatra. Most recently a “port alliance” has been announced between 10 Chinese ports and five Malaysian ports. The “sister port” tie ups with Kuantan, Melaka, Kedah and Port Klang in Malaysia.

Australia is also part of this maritime blueprint – The Darwin deal will provide Chinese shipping access to the Indian Ocean and the South Pacific, as well as to Indonesia and PNG.

But the question still remains why not use what is already available? That is to say why don’t the Chinese feel inclined to leverage on the current port facilities in Singapore to fulfil their current and future energy needs. You can’t say it’s because of a bottle neck or the port authorities in Singapore have no more capacity. Because they do.

I think one reason why China considers it necessary to diversify their supply chain is simply because Singapore is perceived as a reliable ally of the US.

To me it is a very simple and straightforward calculation – how do you expect the Chinese to trust Singapore when they are hosting aircraft carriers with atomics and even allowing them to launch spy missions from their airbases. That is stupid. No strategist is his right mind is going to trust Singapore. So I don’t blame the Chinese, what they are undertaking is very logical.

Because alongside this port centric agenda – there is also the string of pearls strategy that suggest these are simply to lay the ground for China’s geopolitical agenda to project into the Indian Ocean and set up a zone of denial similar to the SCS.

There is I believe some credence to this postulation because the Chinese Navy is definitely becoming more muscular and assertative in that theatre.

Q: What precisely do you mean by muscular. Can you be more specific.

A: You can subscribe to Jane’s Defence Weekly or Proceedings. To find out more. But by all intelligent accounts the Chinese would need a carrier doctrine. Beyond that I don’t wish to comment further as I only speak when I have reliable intelligence to draw sound and accurate conclusions.

Q: How will all these other ports and railways impact Singapore?

A: I think there will be an impact. But you got to understand. Trade routes whether they are maritime or land based are essentially based on economics and that is really another way of saying the customer is king. China may well be a super power but it cannot dictate to the rest of the world how they should best transport goods or even which port it can call on and not – businesses will use whatever ports they see fit and we are not just talking about bunkering facilities. It really goes much deeper to a level of sophistication that I don’t believe the lay man even quite appreciates such as financing, insuring, underwriting, risk management, off shore facilities etc etc. There is an entire pheltora of services besides shipping that goes to make up the whole port experience and Singapore is at the very top of the game.

So when people tell me just because China is investing heavily in Malaysia or planning to develop Carey Island that spells doom and gloom for Singapore. These people don’t know what they are talking about. Because the volume of trade will grow. And PSA is not going to remain the same. They will respond to all these regional emerging threats.

Having said that volume is certainly important. Because when the volume thins out then it would have a knock on effect on all these other complimentary services. They will degrade and that certainly work against competitiveness.

I think it’s too early to tell what would happen now as many of these mega projects have 10 to 15 year gestation periods and it’s very hard to predict accurately what it may all be like in the foreseeable future.

For all you know PSA may even buy equity into these regional ports.

Q: What do you see as the friction points in the Chinese drive to realise the dream of OBOR in their aggressive investments in port and rail regionally?

A: Most countries welcome direct foreign investments. Having said that it’s not merely a case of economic pluses and minuses. There is also historicism and of course politics. And this is one area that I feel China is very blasé. I don’t exactly know how they go about calculating country risk or even whether they have a risk mitigation strategy. But they should given that many of the countries they are investing in on one hand welcome FDI’s but at the same time they do harbour reservations simply because when a foreign power takes such a substantial equity in the running of a business then it can be perceived as a form of economic imperialism and a threat to even sovereignty and if we stretch that notion further it can even encroach into sectarian and race lines.

Like I said historicism certainly plays a preponderant role and it would be foolhardy to assume that China will just be able to have their way all the time without ever having to manage the local sentiments in those countries that they have invested so heavily in.

I see many friction points. Many and some of them I am a afraid will only sharpen as these investments come on line. Only because they can be politicised and weaponized for political mileage.

Q: Would you like to elaborate further on those friction points.

A: No comment.

(1) DO NOT BE EMOTIONAL OR SENTIMENTAL

War is not so different from a game of chess. A skillful adversary will always attack the chess player rather than the chess pieces. As if he can unsettle his opponent mentally, spiritually and physically…then everything will begin to unravel – his opponent will likely become emotional and make a rash move that will set into motion a sequence of attack moves by the strategist.

Never be emotional. All forms of emotions that have the power to take you away from the center of the intellectual sphere must be regarded as a form of poison.

Whenever you find yourself getting emotional – stop immideately what you are doing and return back to your safe or neutral zone. Set aside the matter and do not think about it till you have calmed down.

If you do not have patience or discipline to remain calm and have a tendency to get emotional under fire. Then it is best if you remove yourself completely from the stressful setting and don’t get involved in conflicts as I can guarantee you – you will lose all the time!

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‘Some years back ago. A cartel was created by a group of landowners to control the selling price and avaliability of land. The way it worked was like this, the choicest land always came to the cartel first and since they could exercise control over the market…they could also control the supply and demand as well and this allowed them to modulate the price. This also guaranteed that the members who made up this cartel could always buy the choicest land low whilst everyone else had to pay premium for what they decided to throw out.

The first thing I did was to compile a detailed history of the head of the cartel. Soon an image appeared. He was man who accustomed to having his way. From what I could tell he derived all his self worth from the external world where often he would seek out the adulation of others….even when they were not genuine.

Face was everything to this man and much more….I would use this human failing to deadly effect.

One day a parcel of land came into the market by way of an open auction. Two weeks before I had spread false rumours that I mean to buy this land at any price. I even told everyone that the cartel didn’t have the means to outbid me. When the head of the cartel heard this, he was enraged, he became emotional and even issued out threats like, ‘who does he think he is!’

On the date of the auction the head of the cartel was accompanied by his two metric internal beauty daughter. When he presented her to everyone…most paid him complimented concerning her fine complexion….which is code for what else is there lah. I on the otherhand kissed the fatties hand and whispered to the father….you definitely need a big dowry for get her out of the house…I tell you what. You stand down and let me win this auction and I may just consider being your Son-in-law.

The man was so enraged. Steam jetted out from his ears like a locomotive and he looked like a hand grenade that was just about to explode – when the auction started I bid right up to the hilt till only two bidders remained…I and him. It was like playing poker with no pairs and upping the bid at every round…but I kept to the discipline of the strategy and when the price for that useless piece of land had reached a point where I knew it was well beyond the market price….I bowed out.

I would do this to the cartel on a least three other occasions. Each time making fun of unmentionable body parts of the head of the cartel’s loved ones to unsettle him and make his lose his emotional balance.

Every time targeting only parcels of land to the North East where I everyone expect me to expand…I had even built a road at great expanse leading to the North East to convince my enemies that was where I really wanted to invest in. Countless false rumors and even disinformation had been planted to complete the deception that there was where I believed the great hope laid. I even led everyone to believe a pretty Guardian cashier who had been impregnated out of wedlock was my secret lover by visiting her every weekend and even looking at houses to buy to the North East. Filled up a bottle of Johnny Walker with Jia Jia Liang Teh and went around pretending to be drunk singing vulgar Hokkien songs about the man of constant sorrow who couldn’t quite get his act together to even buy one acre of land to the North East.

When all this reached the ears of the head of the evil cartel…this merely fuelled his resolve to buy up all parcels of land that came to the market to the North East…he meant to destroy by denying me what I yearned for most.

Nothing was spared to make the deception as real as possible. I spent a lot of money, time and effort on making it as real as possible.

In truth I had no such plans to ever invest in the North East. I have always considered all lands located there dead zones. Unworthy of even cultivating anything resembling food produce.

It was all an elaborately staged trap. Designed specifically to draw the cartel away from my intended target and to draw them into a debilitating war of attrition like Stalingrad to weaken their ranks and to degrade their financial capability to such a point where they could never hope to blunt my attack when it came.

Three years after that when everyone had had their fill of laughing at me for being the epic fool who went to gun fight with the cartel with cutlery…and after having to endure countless humiliations that would have made any man angry….my real intentions suddenly surfaced.

I would grab land to the West….one after another other in quick successions….it was ligtning war bang, bang, bang all in rapid successions conducted in total surprise.

The cartel didn’t even have time to organize anything resembling a defense or counter strike to the West. As all their preparations to blunt such a move was only designed to annul such plans to the North West…it was devastating.

By that time the cartel had exhausted all their resources…they used up all their precious bullets…they simply didn’t have the resources to manuever…there was very little in the way of resistance…it was a massacre.

All of this was possible only because the leader of the cartel couldn’t keep an even keel and became emotional.

Study and research this aspect of the art of war well.’

The two surviving puppies

August 17, 2017

It fills me with a profound sense of sadness whenever I see Shadow and Jaswan. As all I seem to be able to do is see the others who didn’t make it. Once every ten years in the dog world. A sort of plague kills the young….it was so sudden.

I decided to call the other surviving puppy Jaswan. As I really believed he would be the only survivor – just one = Jaswan.

Both Jaswan and Shadow seem to have immunity against this vicious dog plague.

Both seem very active and happy and are always playing at the back of the plantation lodgings where it’s cool all day.

I often tell myself not to feel sad and put on a happy face whenever I see both Jaswan and Shadow. But it is easier said than done….you see I raised them when their mother abandoned them and in the course of that period when I saw them grow up. It’s only natural for me to love them…some things just cut very deep right down to the bone. That is the way it is.

But I must really try to be happy…after all…all is not lost.

It is definitely very different from anything I have known. I imagine there are high, medium and mass produced budget futons. If I have to hazard a guess I am sleeping on a top end futon. I can’t be sure. But judging from the density and the number of plys – it can’t be cheap to produce at all.

The futon is very supportive. But not in a springy sort of way like a spring mattress – there is no bounce at all and if I have to compare it with anything I have slept on previously, it closely resembles sleeping on a memory foam mattress, where the futon will assume the shape and contours of the body.

Since a futon is constructed out of multiple plys of cotton, it is breathable and very cool.

As for the quality of the sleep. I am still not sure. I guess like anything new that comes into my life. I will have to give it time. Either that or my body would have to adapt to this new way of sleeping.

But either way for the moment – I don’t see anything negative about sleeping on a futon. So far I only see positives.

We’re all familiar with the boom and bust cycle. When it booms, everything goes thru the roof and this is followed by an epic nose dive where everything ends up crashing and burning.

However what most people are not familiar with is how all too often they approach work with the same destructive philosophy…that’s to say they work at an explosive pace that is simply unsustainable only to end up impersonating satay sticks frequently pushing the work envelop till they threaten to burnt out.

They then go on expensive holidays hoping to rejuvenate their loss energy and to recover whatever depleted enthuism they have exhausted like a rocket only to discover when they get back to work….the same destructive cycle kicks right in again…boom and bust work style.

At the end they get nowhere near Mr fifty something Chuando who can easily pass off as Sumiko Tan’s teen kido. Worst of all they end up feeling beaten up full of wrinkles and grey hair.

Surely this has to be a form of insanity.

——————————————————————————

‘Many people ask me how I cope with the stress of work life. When I tell them I take regular holidays. They look at me with an expression of disbelief. As it is well known to all – I have not taken a holiday in the last eight years.

Truth is I do take plenty of breaks that all add up to something much more therapeutic and rejuvenating as maybe an expensive holiday abroad….for example whenever I find that work is starting to overwhelm me like a tsunami. I just switch off all my phones and drive to a park to sit on a bench watch grass grow and munch on homemade sandwiches and drink cold apple juice from a thermos. Or maybe I will just take a nap under a tree. I keep a foldable military bed in my car wherever I go and it’s not unusual for me to take a nap whenever work threatens to get too overwhelming. At other times I just read for hours.

I guess what I am trying to convey here is an attitude to approach work in a very deliberate manner to keep it sustainable and not destructive. To even strive to see work – as something that doesn’t necessarily have to do with burning so much energy within a short period of time like a rocket that burns baby burn so furiously…you don’t even leave enough fuel for the return trip. To always pace oneself and be mindful of holding back always – above all to always be within the rhythm of nature.

Nature is very wise. She doesn’t do stupid things like try to eat chicken rice from a styrofoam box, SMS and walk at the same time…if she did that she would probably end up pear shaped.

Everything in nature is done one at a time slowly, purposefully and most importantly with a rhythm that is respectful to her limits for sufficient rest to enable her to wake up and do whatever she needs to do the following day…that’s how trees grow so big…they never go against the grain…they don’t do stupid things like multitask….if the going gets too tough they just switch right off or flip the hibernation switch and hang a sign on the shop window and take a long break from whatever is going on….that’s nature’s way.

She has great respect for herself to treat herself well above all other things.

Nature has a lot of wisdom when it comes to the right philosophy to work that mankind can learn from and enrich their lives.

Above all nature knows only too well speed will always be secondary to direction.’

Sleeping on a futon

August 16, 2017

Lately I have been complaining of not getting a restful sleep in my plantation dwelling. Shortly thereafter a futon magically arrived on my doorstep. There is no note. I don’t even know who it’s from. Could well be from the Japanese Union of Farmers or even someone who likes the way I paint shoes….as I have a very big following in Japan for some curious reason.

I already have a mattress, but it’s a coconut husk mattress that is wafer thin and hard as concrete. A few years ago. I bought a memory foam mattress to put on top of it to cut the hardness. It worked, but it was hot like sleeping in a rubber tire. Now I have the futon on top of these two layers….I have never owned a futon before.

But it is certainly very comfortable and remarkably cool despite only sleeping with a household fan. It is very heavy and substantial and lately I have surfing the internet to get up speed on how to care for a futon.

I would certainly recommend this to anyone who likes to sleep on the floor…it’s very cool and comfortable and supportive….thank you.

SINGAPORE — A branch of Yamaha music school at Plaza Singapura turned down a student with autism, with the instructor purportedly saying his wife supported his decision not to teach the boy.

The parent of the child gave his account of the unhappy episode in a Facebook post on Monday (Aug 14), but said that the family is not taking any action against the school on the matter. Yamaha Music has since apologised to them for what the instructor did.

The incident happened last Friday when the child, 12-year-old Alex Lim, turned up for his second lesson to play the flute. There was a “shock” cancellation 75 minutes before the session was due to start, the boy’s father Ivan Lim said.

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‘When you are autistic. You must learn to be both hard and soft at the same time. By soft I mean you must never be quick to anger when people don’t treat you with respect or even feel the need to extend to you the courtesies….by soft I mean you should always try to understand that not everyone in this world reads broadly. Some do not have the benefit of a good education. Or they simply didn’t have parents who encouraged them to read widely. So they are trapped in ignorance and if you are autistic or have to raise an autistic child…you should be soft.

But you must also cultivate hardness as well. Because if you dont then the world will shape you into whatever it feels it has the right to shape you into. By hard I mean that you must make it very clear to those who choose to either disrespect or treat you badly…there is an intrinsic penalty to their actions.

I gathered this when I was very young. The boys and parents in the street refused to allow me to play in the neighborhood yard. They all said – there was something very wrong with me and maybe they were fearful of catching it. In those days the thougtware concerning autism was still backyard and known only to a very few. So whenever I went there. The bigger boys would beat me up.

But I always went back.

I went back every single time and on every single occasion blows would rain down on me…it was relentless. Till one day either their fist hurt so much or they just all realised things would never change….they all gave up on me and eventually they left me alone on my park bench.

Even now when I think back….maybe it was not worth it….maybe I should have just disappeared.

But that painful encounter imparted something very valuable to me – I realised from a very young age – pain is not something to be feared…it can be controlled with understanding and once one gains mastery over pain. One can even make it so small like a mosquito bite that it’s nothing.

This lesson would have a profound effect on shaping the rest of my life. When I first started farming. I had to cross the land of a rich landowner before I could get to my veggie plot. Every time I did so he would ask of me in a condescending tone – what is the nature of your business here!

I worked very hard, led a frugal life and saved every penny. One day fortune smile on me and I bought a larger plot of land and today whenever I come across this same landowner who now has to pass my land to get to his – I would ask of this same landowner in the same imperial tone,

‘what is the nature of your business here!’

I do this to him every single time I see him without fail….many people say I am a very ruthless and hard man. But I don’t see it that way. Not at all. As if I do not do this again and again and again….then one day it will happen to someone who is maybe not as strong as I am.

I think when one is young. One is also impressionable and although the world isn’t a fair place – it should still be fair in so far as you can believe in it enough to work hard, be honest and have faith in a better tomorrow. But for all that to happen strong people need to step in and make it all right.’

Good Vibrations

August 16, 2017

I don’t think one has to necessarily strive to understand the mysteries of the world or the universe to be happy.

All one really needs to know is everything has a positive or negative rhythm and vibration that moves it either forward or backwards — This vibration is in everything that is alive.

Take a look at a tree….it’s not just growing like a pile of dirty clothes. Everything is infused with purpose, it’s moving towards sunlight…searching for the means to life to thrive. Look at a baby, it’s not just breathing in and out like a wound up machine – it’s emitting a certain rhythm and vibration….one of pure innocence. A woman who is sitting still is also doing the same and so is man: Like a lotus, this vibration prompts it to open, close, bloom or retreat. Such is also the story of the sun and moon, earth and universe and me and you….we are all part of this continuous cycle of energy.

Once one understands this movement, then it is easy to understand why it’s always a blessing when one can be in the company of very positive and good vibrations.

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‘Whenever possible I try my best to avoid people with negative vibrations. Usually I just make it impossible for them to ever get close to me. This I do by following a few simple rules, whenever I see such people I run as fast away from them as I can. I don’t even bother to make happy excuses or for that matter try to even come across as polite….I just take right off like one of those military jets on full after burner mode….poof! I am gone.

To me the most important thing is to keep my good vibrations humming and purring throughout the day as long as I can…it’s like keeping a top spinning. One must keep it steady and not allow anything to stop it from doing what it’s doing…otherwise it will wobble and it will be no good.

With good vibrations. I can do anything. Nothing is impossible. Thoughts acquire speed. Human interactions are smooth and soft. And everyone is excited and optimistic. As they are sorrounded by positive energy that can only nourish their souls and uplift their spirits.’

Q: How seriously do you see the conflict between the US and North Korea to the rest of Asia?

A: I have been asked this question many times. And my answer has not changed. I do not see the conflict between the US and North Korea as serious in so far as its going to lead to war in Asia for one simple reason. North Korea cannot possibly win. Neither does it have the sustained capability for war either.

Q: If what you say is true then why does North Korea keep threatening to launch rockets at Guam, Japan and even America?

A: You must understand the North Koreans live in their own reality. And although the total immersiveness of that idea may be very difficult for most people to grasp outside North Korea – it doesn’t diminish the fact, that is the only reality they know. And in that reality, the possibility of war with the US is a very real and present. Even today many western tourist to North Korea are surprised to hear how everything from dirty toilets to power cuts are regularly attributed to US armed aggression.

This idea of North Korea versus the US is so encrusted with the national narrative that it even predates Kim Jon Un and his father and even grandfather. One can perhaps ask who exactly does this narrative serve and for what purpose and it could be said it supplies much of the legitimacy and even authority for dynastic rule under the Kim’s. As since the country is always framed precariously at the verge of war it allows the regime a means to explain away many things that don’t seem to work in North Korea which it’s own citizens would have probably attributed to maladministration had it not been for the fictitious war with America.

Q: So to you all this North Korean threats are really just bluffing. But if so why do so many other countries take their threats seriously.

A: Because the North Koreans have quite a well run rocket program. They are also capable of weaponizing their atomics. They have all the elements to make a threat very real.

Q: Why doesn’t China do more to rein in North Korea?

A: Why should they? It pays out more for China if North Korea is a psycho state. Because the Americans have to rely on the Chinese as an intermediary to influence events. So to me everything that North Korea is currently doing stems directly from some tacit agreement with Beijing. I think it’s important to take note. Even today despite North Koreas confrontational stance, China has stoically refused to impose, serious crippling economic restrictions on the North, despite its recent missile test off the coast of Japan.

Q: So you think the Chinese are in cahoots with the North Koreans. But what would the Chinese and most importantly North Koreans get out of this partnership.

A: The Chinese have traditionally used North Korea as a means of distracting the Western powers from more important issues in the Pacific theatre. Notice today no one ever talks about the Chinese militarization of the Paracels. No one even talks about how the Chinese Navy is planning to set up a zone of denial similar to the SCS in the Indian Ocean. Or even how the Pakistanis and Chinese are working furiously in Kashmir to outflank the Indians. You know why because every now and then that fatty in North Korea will launch an intercontinental missile and after that he will go hahahahahaha and tell the world that the US is next. So it’s very difficult to focus on the cogent and not to be distracted by all this nonsense.

Q: Why have the North Koreans opted to take such a belligerent and non cooperative atttide towards the US when it comes to their nuclear and ballistic program.

A: I don’t think you can blame the North Koreans for being non cooperative. They may well be living in their own reality. But they also have CNN and Fox News. The elites do at least. And they have seen first hand how the Iraqi’s and Libyan’s once cooperated with the UN to deweaponize only to end up being overrun. The US doesn’t seem to have a happy history where any regime who chooses to cooperate with them ends up for the better – so you can’t blame the North Koreans for drawing faith in the power of the intercontinental ballistic missile and atomic weapons to better their lot.

In their calculation. It makes far more sense to be a belligerent and even pariah state than to cooperate with the US.

Q: So in your assessment. The Trump administration strategy, of garnering the support of the international community, to apply diplomatic and economic pressure on North Korea to achieve the complete, verifiable and irreversible denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula and a dismantling of the regime’s ballistic-missile program will fail. Trump claims he is replacing the failed policy of “strategic patience,” which expedited the North Korean threat, with a new policy of strategic accountability. How does that fair with the past strategy?

A: I don’t know what these people are talking about when they go around using terms like strategic accountability – to me that is another way of saying, they don’t want North Korea to have a ballistic or atomic weapons in their inventory. But let us speak frankly what does North Korea produce that can be embargoed.

Their only trading partner is China. Who buys coal, fish and textiles. Apart from that there is really nothing else to slap an embargo on. In Africa the biggest revenue generator of North Korea is making effigies and statues for dictators who want to immortalise themselves. So all this talk of economic sanctions is nonsensical.

As for North Korea giving up their rockets and atomics. I don’t see that ever happening. Besides we are not talking about a regime that has a surplus of atomics that would allow them to hit every major western capital in the world. They don’t have that lattitude of waging war. Infact by all intelligent accounts their military doctrine still requires them to invade South Korea in the event of an all out war. And that scorch earth strategy has not changed since 1953. There is a very sound rationale why that Cold War strategy has not changed. North Korea doesn’t have an Air Force. It has no Navy to speak of. But it has plenty of land based capabilities.

So that doctrine isn’t borne out of military expediency. Rather it’s an accretion of acute constraints in its 1960’s armed forces.

I think when we speak about North Korea being a threat. There is a need to inject a sense of scale and perspective into the discussion.

From my assessment. North Korea will never be the first to strike. Only because if they do so. They know only too well. They’re as good as finished.

Q: How do you see the Singapore and US alliance?

A: I think that is a very rhetorical question so whatever answer I choose to give has to be equally broad and rhetorical as well. Maybe you should try to structure your questions specifically?

Q: How do you see the Singapore and US alliance under the Trump administration. Is it likely to work for or against the interest of Singapore?

A: We still don’t know. Or rather I should say I don’t know. The advent the age of Trump can only be described as transformational. Not only for the US, but for the reliable allies of the US as well.

There has been many thoughtful speculations concerning what Trump really wants to do when it comes to US foreign policy. Some say he wants the US to take less global equity as the world’s policeman. Others say he just wants to do more with less aboard and focus mainly fixing perennial problems such as unemployment and healthcare on the home front. Then there are more serious assertations that he means to cast aside the entire post–Cold War order. To others, he seems to be annulling everything that America has been working to try to achieve since 1945. But no matter how these commentators may see Trump – they can all agree without too much trouble. No one really knows for sure what the outlook of US foreign policy is any longer.

It is this aspect of uncertainty that is most unsettling to the US and Singapore alliance.

Q: Why do you choose to see it as unsettling?

A: Look here you don’t need a PhD in foreign relations to understand that if you rub shoulders with psychos….then it’s only a matter of time before you will also end up losing moral authority along with international credibility.

Trump the man. The president stands for many things that are paradoxically quite unamerican. Trump came to power on a populist ticket. He offered the voters a downscaled version from the burdens of global leadership to something that focused on domestic problems. He even rewrote the book on foreign policy by forwarding a theory on realpolitik, where he posits – the real problem with US foreign policy was not merely its costly foreign commitment. It was the result of something far more sinister and malevolent: the villainy of friends and foes, and the lack of moral fiber of US leaders. The intellectual hubris of the US chattering classes – the bane of “political correctness” that made it impossible to use the right words to call a spade a spade. Allies and trading partners that hoodwinked the US no end. Waves of foreigners that were robbing decent Americans from jobs. Environmental laws, regulations and treaties that hobbled US industrial might etc etc etc.

To put it all in the right scale and perspective. It would be hard pressed to think of an American political figure who has ever put forward such a bleak dystopian view of the world.

But Trump’s real failing in my opinion was not only did he not offer anything in a way of a coherent prescriptive cure for many of the things he saw wrong with the US and the world. Instead, he glossed over many of his inadequacies with kick-ass rhetoric that seem to go down very well with the US voters.

But let’s be perfectly honest you can’t input jingoism or feel good kick ass rhetoric into statecraft or the complications of balance of power in international politics.

Those are very real challenges that demand real well thought out solutions.

In trying to translate his election run rhetoric into reality ironically Trump has unified people who disagree about many elements of U.S. foreign policy and who recognize the many shortcomings of the so-called liberal international order against him. Scholars, the thinking classes, environmentalist feel outraged by Trump.

In summary if you’re going to rub shoulders with Trump, you’re going to go down with him. Because from the looks of it – he’s definitely going to go right down like timber.

Q: What do you think Singapore should do in the light of this uncertainty.

A: I think the perception needs to be managed in such a way where Singapore is still a reliable ally of the US. But at the same time, she should not be so close to the US as to come across as a second fiddle or a poodle.

Q: Some people have said it is simplistic to think China will not continue to invest in neighbouring countries had Singapore not taken such an aggressive stance on the South China seas against China’s. What is your take?

A: I don’t agree with their assessment. I highly recommend them to read broadly. At one level of understanding it is certainly true to say China is investing in neighbouring countries especially in infrastructure projects such as ports and railways to streamline its supply chain for energy. That no one can argue against. But you must understand a large part of that motivation to build alternative energy routes has to do with the fear that they are not able to trust Singapore entirely. I don’t for one moment believe it all boils down to the geographical realities that the strait of malacca can be easily blockaded militarily. As much as the fears and anxieties generated by how closely Singapore is allied to the US.

I could very well be wrong. And if I am wrong. I do hope someone can correct me with facts and something resembling an intelligent rebuttal. That is not much to ask.

But my feel is if Singapore had been less antagonistic to China on the SCS. There exist many ways for Singapore to assist China in fulfilling its energy needs via the current port facilities.

What you need to understand is there will always exist certain constraints in land based modes of transportation such as roads and rail. At one level you can say they are very vulnerable to choke points. Secondly, to transport the same tonnage as a modern container vessel, it would take a railway carriage that stretches 70 kilometres. So while you can say rail is more efficient. It is not logistically effective nor is it as reliable as sea routes.

I mean there is a very good reason why the British empire did not see the wisdom of investing in roads like the Romans and instead steadily leveraged on their superiority of their navy and mercantile fleet as means of exercising command and control over their empire.

So I think this preoccupation with rail and roads as a means of supplanting sea routes is slightly misleading as it doesn’t really talk about actual tonnage or for that matter even factor in risk along with conflict management.

Q: Where do you see the US proceeding when it comes specifically to foreign policy from this point?

A: In the early days when Trump came to power. I was not overtly concerned. After all I had ever reason to believe even someone who didn’t have the political lineage such as Trump would eventually yield to the sheer weight of reason and intellectualism. And this was inpart due to the impressive selection of what I can only describe as very thoughtful cabinet secretaries, Generals and advisors. James Mattis as the Pentagon head, ex Exxon CEO Rex Tillerson to be secretary of state, McMaster as national-security adviser.

These are not farmers like me who don’t even know how many alphabets there are. Is it 24 or 26. I am just kidding.

They are all very serious people who have a consistent history of managing affairs at a very high level.

But as the Trump administration dragged on – I could not seem to make out the voices of good sense carrying the day. Neither did anything approaching a coherent foreign strategy emerge either. All I seem to be able to make out is senseless twitter nanobites and that has to be disturbing.

Q: What do you think was the one single thing the US did under the newly minted Trump administration that marked out it out as unreliable and a liability to many of their traditional allies.

A: Without a doubt it has to be the shocking US pull out from the Paris agreement. I cannot for the life of me think of a clearer illustration that demonstrates how irresponsible and unhinged from reality the current administration is from reality. This is a very dramatic departure from the Obama position — where the world’s largest economy and second-largest emitter — played a key role in shaping the 2015 climate deal. Trump’s decision to withdraw has not only alienated him from many hard working scientist and intellectuals who are serious about the climate. But it has also put the US in a very untenable position with many other G20 countries. Specifically Germany that seems to have taken the lead on reversing climate degradation. If you look closely at the recent G20 proceedings. Even the Saudi’s who are all but blasé about climate change much preferred to be allied with the rest of the G20 ethos on saving people and planet. They had the cow sense to distance themselves from the incomprehensible US position.

Q: You seem to believe very strongly in the environmental cause. But if I am not mistaken Mr Trump is under the impression many of the climate issues are actually hobbling US economic growth.

A: Well Mr Trump and his climate advisors are dead wrong. First of all climate change is very real. You people at the homefront back in 23 degrees Celsius perpetual air con state Singapore don’t know how real it is. To you the climate will always be an abstraction. But I am a farmer. I make my living off the land. So I am in the trenches. And I can assure you with FAO statistics that it is getting harder and harder these days to farm commercially because of climate change.

You know recently I spent a lot of my own private money to clear land without resorting to open burning. Now I didn’t do it primarily to save people and planet. I did it as thru the years I have been conducting my own privately funded research in sustainable farming methods and I can prove in the long run my methods will not only nutrify the land, but it will also mitigate against diseases that arises from monoculture but my primary motivation was because I believe it is possible to farm responsibly and sustainably without having to poison the air and still make a very decent profit.

I think when we think about services and products in general. It would be foolhardy for any corporation these days to manufacture stuff that is not environmentally friendly. If you look at everything in the last ten years in the market. Everything from jet planes to automobiles. It’s been driven primary by the green revolution.

If the US wants to go the other way and do that other thing. They certainly can. Only they will end up walking alone. And trust me only a fool would walk with an outlier.

I’ve been to the site at least six times since work was completed a couple of days ago. On my first occasion when I stood there all alone….I gave myself a pat for a job well done! On the second occasion when I had difficulty sleeping I drove there at three in the morning and on that very occasion I wished there was another me to give myself a pat. And on the third occasion…I wished there was three of me to give myself a pat. So on and so forth.

I know where all this is likely to go next….if I don’t check myself. I am going to start mythologizing how I pulled off a miracle. May even throw in a seat on your pants knife fight story as well to spice things up and of course where would we all be without that trite Hollywood ending that even promises redemption only to end happily thereafter.

Truth is if I really had to make an effort to be truthful….a large part of the success story had to do with luck!

I am sorry, I know that is what many of you were not expecting. But it is what it is. Really!

I know this would probably mean such an important milestone in my life will probably never be a page turner….but at least it would serve to keep my head small and both my feet firmly planted on the good earth.

Sorry for the spoiler!

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‘Next time when you think you have every right to laugh at some poor sod that didn’t make it to the other side safely and even earn the right to say, ‘phew!’

Think again. As maybe he didn’t have the good fortune that came your way to make it all come together.

This is a story about accidental encounters that all added up to finally end well…..I want so much to claim the right to say skill played a preponderant role. But in all honesty this recount has to be accurate as it serves as a farmer log.

Fidelity. Accuracy and factual accounts is key if the log is to serve for future farmers who may come after me.

I started my replanting project on the 15th of June 2017. The contractor wasn’t my first choice. I had to go with him despite knowing this was his first time doing such work only because my first choice had copped out due to another project that had overrun.

On the day I broke ground. It rained cats and dogs. Which is the worst possible omen for a replant. As one always wishes for dry weather. But the rain did help considerably to soften the soil which allowed the trees to be uprooted completely. I subsequently found out the contractor I had engaged despite lacking the experience was someone who was very eager and most enthuistic to learn more about the plantation trade. So he took orders religiously and even regarded me as a sort of guru and that went a long way to ensure quality and discipline which would have otherwise been difficult to enforce with amateurs.

After he had finished felling and chipping and extracting all the roots. My first choice contractor phoned me up and told me he was free….but there was one condition. He could only be on site on the 26th July.

I let the first guy go. And decided to wait it out. That was just around the time when the weather started to change and it was hot as hell every day for the next twenty three straight days without even a drop of rain.

I cannot begin to explain the importance of this freak occurrence as it means the cellulose material from the felled trees will shrink as much as 70% as the sun desiccates it – this shrinkage would be critical in disposing the material without the need to provision extra trenches….I calculated four would be enough combined with the boundary line. I wish I could say it was spot on! But it was actually an epic mistake…I had omitted to compensate for the moisture in the cellulose material…it had been set to zero…I would have needed at least three more trenches….five would be better. But since the felled material had shrunk so much due to the prolonged and unexpected drought….four was very good to go.

Only because the weather went my way….it compensated for my epic error in calculation….I must have been tired to have made such a simple error of computation.

When my first choice contractor broke ground on the 27th July. We had two weeks of clear and sunny weather. Work progressed smoothly and I when it was completed on 9th August…the rains started again…it’s been raining every single day since then.

I tied off just in the nick of time.

I think the moral of the story is one simply needs to look at it honestly…it takes considerable effort to be honest with oneself…..recently a farmer came to me and expressed in a tone approaching a mix of lamentation and admiration…it is true what they say about you…you are truly the world’s greatest farmer….I wish I had your foresight, cool headedness and acumen to tie off my replant on time.

The consequence of his delay is devastating. As he has to wait for whole entire year before he can replant his seedlings….he has missed the boat!

I told this man, ‘I was just very lucky…it had nothing do with being a world’s greatest farmer….one day it will all work out…this delay may not be such a bad thing.’

That is the truth…there is no great planter of lore. I just made it all up in my head….Heng lah!’

If a personal or professional relationship keeps subtracting all the time. Then there is absolutely no point to strive for peace. Under those corrosive circumstances it is best to settle for detente or a controlled Cold War.

This way you will be in a better negotiating position.

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‘If a group of people keep trying to take advantage of you. Then the suggested response should really be quite logical. Cut them off. Make it difficult for them to gainfully approach you. Better still make it impossible for them to ever approach you.

But if you buy blindly into the idea of peace without ever once considering what advantage you might stand to get out of it.

Or worse still blindly agree to enter into a peaceful truce just for the sake of being peaceful.

Then not only are you giving bullies the right to continue bullying you. But since you don’t seem to be able to convey the resolve of your displeasure or disagreement as to what they once tried to do to you. You can only come across as a pushover.*

And if that happens, not only will you not be in an advantageous position to make it difficult for crooks to approach you. Neither is it possible for you to adopt the strategy of someone who is unapproachable without coming across as anti social. Worst of all you might even lose your elemental right and independence to say ‘No!’

A man who cannot say ‘no’ will soon find himself in a corner.’

* In business you must always strive to be firm. This simply means you must be able to convey in clear and unambiguous terms to the other side what you are prepared to accept and what you simply have zero tolerance for.

If you cannot do this. Then it is better that you don’t go into business and remain as a salaried man forever. Because you will end up being a charitable organization instead of a successful enterprise owner.

I once entered into an agreement with a landowner to buy a plot of land. Subsequently I found out from his personal secretary who just happens to be my spy for a price of a bunch of plastic flowers – this crook was planning to jack up the price and pocket the difference….so I kicked up and big fuss and everyone who heard about it said, ‘look at him…he is the world’s greatest trouble maker!’

Not only did I deliberately make the matter big. I even held back my cooperation by deliberately being belligerent, insulting and sarcastic on every single occasion when I came across this crook. When this crook once offered me the peace pipe. I rejected it. And till today we are sworn enemies.

So today everyone knows for a radius of five hundred kilometres – when you do business with the man who lives on the hill….you better side aside your snakey ways.

Because he will take it personally.

Always look for the made in USA label to ensure exceptional build quality and premium hard wearing leather.

Matterhorn ‘Ranger’ 1949

Danner Fort Lewis beside Matterhorn Ranger 1949. Leather upper lay out and last design is virtually identical.

Inside of the boot should be Gore tex lined for waterproofing. 200 g thinsulate is just right for the tropics. Anything above that is unsuitable.

Field boots need not be shiny. But they should be worn correctly and well cared for. Make sure the laces are taut to support the ankle and to stop your toes from swimming around. Laces should all be taut and neatly tucked away to one corner to avoid snagging and tripping.

My soles are nearly there…..maybe another 100 miles left.

(1) KNOW YOUR KIT!

There is a big difference between hiking, mountain and hunting boots. A mountain boot is very rigid and provides plenty of ankle support and has plenty of D rings and tie off points to anchor your foot – it’s good when you have to lug loads in excess of 50 kg up a steep incline. A hiking boot is less rigid around the ankles and provides less support for load carrying capacity.

I find the best compromise is the hunting or field boot. As it is light. Provides moderate ankle support and very stable.

Hunting boots are the best for field work as they marry all the good aspects of both mountain and hiking boots.

(2) QUALITY CONTROL

Men who work on their feet twelve hours straight, day in and day out in harsh terrain never just put on a pair of boots on account of a boot review they saw on YouTube. Don’t be stupid.

To these category of frontier men. Boots are not just boots. They are very serious walking machines that have to perform under the most demanding conditions. The ultimate benchmark for boots is FORSCOM APPROVED. That means the boot has been put thru it’s paces by the US Army procurement agency – it has been tested to 1,001 field performance criterias to ensure stupid things don’t ever occur like the whole outer sole peeling off suddenly to your boot coming apart for no apparent reason.

Not many boots are FORSCOM APPROVED as the testing and proofing is rigorous.

If possible wear only FORSCOM APPROVED boots as they are the gold standard.

The silver standard is ASTM. I do not recommend this. As fit and quality varies so much that it’s hard to generalise.

The only downside about FORSCOM APPROVED boots is that they are all very expensive.

(3) HAVE TWO OF EVERYTHING…THREE IS EVEN BETTER.

The golden rule when it comes to boots goes like this. Never wear a damp boot. That means if you’re out in the field on Monday and it rains and you come back with soaked boots. Don’t wear that same boot out on Tuesday. Let it dry out. Stuff newspaper into it. Undo the laces. Put it before a fan. Wear the second boot out on Tuesday work day.

If it doesn’t rain and you come back with bone dry boots. You can wear them again the following day.

I don’t believe in rotating boots just for the sake of rotating them. It is not uncommon for me to wear the same boot day in and out PROVIDING I come back dry….but I never ever wear a damp or soggy boot out. Doing so is the fastest way to destroy your boots from the inside out. As it stretches the leather out of shape and soon both the stitching and welt will give right out.

I have two pairs of work boots. Both are FORSCOM APPROVED. The first is a Danner Fort Lewis and the other is a Matterhorn. Both are manufactured in the US. Both have identical cuts and specs.

(4) ALWAYS GO FOR MADE IN USA

Made in USA is the best when it comes to boots. Only because for some unknown reason the US seem to have a monopoly on the best quality leather. I don’t know why…but it is what it is.

(5) LEARN TO CARE FOR YOUR KIT

Get away from the planet and people destroying culture of buy and throw. You should only need to buy work boots once in your life! As all high quality boots are all recraftable. That means when the sole thins out – you can slap on a new sole and it’s good to go for a year or two again. And this is done again and again.

Learn to care for your boot. They don’t have to shiny all the time like parade boots. But the leather should not be neglected till it dries out and threatens to crack.

Field boots should only be dressed with dubbin and never with shoe wax such as Kiwi shoe polish.

There is no need to treat the whole boot. Just dub the areas where the leather crunches on the vamp and use an old toothbrush to make sure the entire welt line is always dubbed.

How you choose to care for your boots is a reflection of how seriously committed you are to keeping yourself injury free, it is this attention to detail to the very small things that will always make a big difference in life….when a real frontier man sets eyes on you. The first thing he will do is take a long hard look at your boots…that’s your resume right there!…your CV along with a relable indicator whether you’re someone who he wants to hang out with – the tauntness of your laces…the way you tie off expertly with a surgeons knot and even take the trouble to tuck it in neatly to one corner to avoid snagging will buy you nods of approval, it will convey your seriousness as someone who takes exceptional pride in the small but important things in life.

This sort of secret arcanum is like freemasonry…being a secret member of the illuminati or the magic circle…if you know. You’re inside the circle..if not, no one will ever tell you! This is very serious knowledge.

Keep it tight…do not be sloppy…nothing in this world can be accomplished without iron discipline.

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‘It is not the big things in this world that makes you big! It is the very small and forgettable little things that no one ever sees except you. If you cannot keep these small things tight, orderly and well arranged…then do not ever talk about doing big things……that is not possible.

So pay close attention to the very small things in life…keep them all tight, orderly and immaculate…there is after all a god in the small.’

Today an emissary from a group of powerful landowners approached me. It seems they may be seeking for an peaceful resolution to the on going Cold War between me and them.

It seems now I have grown so big….I can no longer be ignored or pushed to one side like a ragged doll and forgotten.

I came directly to the point and asked of this emissary, ‘what is the point of peace when I get so little out of it? Surely we cannot be just pursuing peace for the sake of peace? If the idea of peace is to have any value then it must surely pay out more than the prospects of war. I went on to add, ‘maybe I should take my chances in the high seas like the battleship Bismarck…maybe I will get lucky and even manage to sink a couple of them.

The emissary finally grew most exasperated and asked,

‘Yes…you can certainly do all that and judging from your past history…you will certainly sink a couple. That I have no doubt. Only understand this!’ That was when the emissary turned to me with what I can only describe as a hard tone approaching seriousness only to say, ‘but never forget you will go down.’ Then as if realising he may have pushed to hard, the emissary relented and asked in a tone of absolute supplication….’what do you really want?’

I merely replied, ‘I wish for peace that pays out more than war….if I can assure of just that you have my word that I will do everything in my power to strive for peace.’

That was when I pretended to cry and even hit my head forcefully and started ranting……I did not want to be like this! I had to be hard as they all ganged up on me…all I ever wanted was peaceful coexistence…but they kept attacking me. Soon I had to defend myself. I am a victim of circumstances.’

I should really be nominated for an Oscar award for the way I put up a show.

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‘The real reason why these evil landowners want peace has nothing whatsoever to do with the love of peace. Rather it is because they stand to face off against an external enemy. Another group of landowners from the East who are slowly and surely muscling into their traditional zone of control. They need me on their side to simply make up the numbers….they can’t afford to fight a war at two fronts.

I have no beef against those landowners from the East. So I will reach out to them and even offer my assistance. But this must be done secretly. At the same time I will pretend to sue for peace with these evil landowners. I will drag the process and use it to buy time. Meanwhile I will try to get concessions from both camps in exchange for my support. At the same time I will relay fictitious information to boths groups especially to those from the East and supply them with vital intelligence on where best to lay their plans.

I will instigate an intercinal trade war between both camps.

These two groups can go and kill each other for all I care….whoever emerges as the winner will be so weakened by this prolonged war of attrition.

I am more than willing to take them on and I will win!

All warfare is based on deception.’

Nature absolutely abhors the idea growing the same crop again and again on the same plot of land. To her understanding. Nothing can be more unnatural…nothing. Absolutely nothing can match the effrontery of trying to do just that…..and she will do everything in her power to kill every single tree the second time round.

Only the most accomplished planter can pull off this feat – to grow the same crop on the same plot of land. To succeed he would do well to understand the art of persuasion.

I will grow banana’s for two years and two months when the oil palm seedlings are still young….I am good with bananas. That will convince her that I have no intentions of being in her bad books. During this period my oil palm seedlings will be too small for her to throw a tantrum….the process is more of an art and science.

Above all it is an art of love that only the mythical lover can pull off with consumatte grace, ease and élan.

Yes that is what I will do….I will grow 🍌 to do so would not be enough to convince her of my intent…nature is after all most possessive and above all suspicious of any would be suitor. I would have to fashion myself as a saviour faire ‘que passe contigio tio? playboy…to put it another way.

I would have to be none other than the mythical lover and not a planter…only he can rush up her skirt when her back is turned momentarily…only he can succeed in the second replant.

The land is after all like a woman….all she needs is to be loved and respected and after that…if I am lucky…she may just decide to look the other way.

So I shall be him and he me….the mythical lover of lore.

——————————————————————————

‘One day, I simply appeared after her afternoon lectures in King’s college in my expensive Italian suit and slicked back hair. When her eyes caught mine in the crowd, she looked for a moment like someone who felt something stir inside her.

She wasn’t sure what it was, but the impression it had on her was profound. Jeannie Yu was like a moth being drawn to the naked flame of a candle. Every moment would draw her deeper and deeper into the depths of my fiery eyes – heightening her awareness, she was not simply any woman, but the only woman a man such as myself was content to look upon for the rest of all eternity.

In a while, her eyes came to rest on mine and she became quite still, like a lotus on a calm pond. The slight quivering of her lips as they began to part like the moist petals of a lotus after the rains – her eyes watery reflecting fascination and fear like a ripple in moonlit waters gave the impression of woman who was falling uncontrollably in love.

Yet I continued starring oblivious of even time, space or even the English boy at her side who must have said something like “are you coming?” Even then she hardly heard or even cared to look his way.

In a while, this English boy disappeared with the rest of the crowd, leaving only both of us standing by the steps and four body guards standing some distance away. Yet even then, I did not speak and just at the moment when she came to her senses and would be expected to turn away or say something like, “why do you look at me in this way, do you not know it is rude”. Her hands fidgeted with her necklace nervously and just when her eyes tore away and she felt the first wave of embarrassment brushing her flushed red cheeks for having allowed herself to behave in this matter before a stranger.

I moved in with the spirit of a man who was about to pluck a fruit just when it had reached it’s sweetest moment – Jeannie Yu never had a chance, it was love at first sight.’

Phase 1 involves felling all the trees, chipping them, uprooting and sanitizing each hole (1,250) to remove infected roots and material, trenching the boundary line with five feet wide and six foot deep drains, surveying internal trenching, levelling the land and disposing the material in an orderly way that leaves the site clean for work in Phase 2.

We are two and a half weeks ahead of schedule. Within budget….I am very tired.

I have done the very best I can. There is absolutely nothing that I can think of for this moment that I would have done differently…to my understanding it’s as close to perfection as I have always imagined it to be. I have incorporated many innovative features that I developed myself to mitigate against diseases along with nutrifying the land. It should work. Now it’s all in the hands of the trees.

I should be happy but the sudden demise of the pups the day before has cast a gloomy spell on what should have been cause for celebration. The moment it finished a big rain came…..I had planned to go to McDonald’s in the city to celebrate and order myself a combo meal with extra chips and wash it down with a cellared bottle of wine.

But I am just not in the mood. Now I just want a hot shower, scrub the dirt off underneath my nails, cook something heart warming, read a little and put my head on a clean white pillow and sleep and dream about happy moments without ever bothering about what time I should wake up.

That’s all I really want to do…it’s done.

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‘The sheer scale of the undertaking would make you poop in your pants! Yes it would. Trust me! It’s so big a geography that you wouldn’t even know where to begin wrapping your head around….but how do you eat an elephant…cut it up into tiny pieces. Yes….look at it. Don’t be afraid. Really look at it for hours on end…day in and out….that’s what I usually do when I am up before a mammoth undertaking. I look at it….I look at it even when most men have rolled their eyes scream out loud it’s impossible and thrown their clipboards and stormed right out of the door. I look at it….and soon the sum of all your fears will begin to assume the rightful scale and proportion. Soon what was once filled with terror is magically rendered so small like a mouse.

Yet I look on….all the while jotting down the various details of what I see…like this is where I will begin…that is a foothold that I will use to get me up there and so on and so forth.

At some point somewhere in what I can only describe as a meditative experience that is when I just know it’s doable.

That’s really how scaddy cats like me go about taking on a very big thing…..we cut it into little pieces and chow it down….anyone can do it, if only they can bear out patiently looking on when all others have long since thrown in the towel and stomped off at a once big and scary thing.

You see it’s after all relative…size that is…and that’s just another way of saying it’s all in your head.’