I will spare you all the specifics. The long and short is as follows. The Singapore MHA got it’s teeth royally kicked in by the US judicial process granting Amos asylum. Now their chops are all scattered on the floor like tic tac…..it must be painful.

At one level of understanding. It could be said the PAP had it coming – their unmitigated heavy handedness in dealing with dissenting voices in the blogging community has earned them very few friends in blogoland. So many bloggers in Singapore have been bankrupted, harried with defamation suits, thrown in jail or just chased right out…it’s very difficult to seek oneness with those in power who seem so callous, intolerant and thin skinned.

On the otherhand Amos was certainly not an easy case to handle – he certainly pushed the boundaries of what’s acceptable to the very hilt and some may even say, he went way too far and deserved what he eventually got….plenty of jail time.

As for the me I happen to believe this case could be handled with greater wisdom by officialdom.

For one they could have just ignored him and let him languish in obscurity for perpetuity. But instead they decided to plumb for a dogmatic by the book approach that ultimately made them look inept, stupid and ill prepared to prosper in the digital age.

There’s certainly room for plenty of improvements along with deep reflection on whether just robotically resorting to the hammer all the time to deal with people who may harbor different beliefs and opinions…even if they are caustic is a sustainable approach.

May well be touted as the Singapore way. But even the custodians of power would do well to abide by social and ethical norms if they want to be well received by the international community.

But again it bears repeating only because master Amos was indeed a very difficult case and to be honest this is perhaps the best outcome for all concerned.

Had he stayed on. Amos would just end going in and out of jail like McDonald’s drive in…..I don’t see any good there – this way hopefully, he would be able to find his line in life and lead a wise existence and grow old without dying a premature death.

Despite Amos potty mouth. I am reminded statutorily he is still a minor. And I do subscribe to the belief minors should be treated with a guiding hand rather than with force of arms.

I do wish him and his family the best of luck….I hope this is the end….or maybe it’s just the beginning.

Who really knows.

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‘There are many things going for Amos. For one is still a young. And with young people it’s almost impossible for one to be hard and not give them a second chance.

For some curious reason Amos also speaks with pleasant sounding Bostonian accent that will certainly go down well in the US. As for his world view currently, it can as best be described as delusional, unhinged and just downright divisive. There’s nothing there that really marks him out as a child prodigy or genius in the making contrary to what some people may think about him.

Now that Amos is in the US for presumably the long haul. He will eventually (it will take some time to sink in) realise that it’s very far from the homily and sugary place that he imagined it to be when he was hacking away happily in Singapore. As the US is hardly like anything resembling the make belief world of Hollywood – it’s a very real place with very stark realities that in all probability is likely to generate very real consequences depending on how one chooses to live, work and play.

In the final analysis. Amos Yee cannot run away from the reality of earning his keep. Not if he wants to live a purpose driven life that is – in short he needs to dedicate himself to the study of a craft or skill that will enable people to vote for him with their wallets.

That’s problematic as while he’s certainly a novelty in Singapore. But in the US, as even open minded (so open minded it seems his brains are spilling out) Alvin Tan rudely discovered – he’s just another Joe…just another run of the mill grunt that probably attracts as much attention as a fire hydrant on a very wet day. Nothing really stands out – as that’s essentially the economy of demand and supply of weirdness in the US. If you think you’re far out in Singapore. Once you go to the US and marinate long enough – you will very soon discover an awful moment of epiphany where one may exclaim – OMG! There are actually so many people like me over here! My individuality is being threatened!

I guess that compelling sense of reality must have dawned on even the likes of Alvin who once reckoned he was far out….it must be awfully difficult to get over the ego high to realise one is just downright ordinary and possibly boring in a colourful country like the US.

When that realisation sinks in. Then the nuts and bolts aspects of how to get by as best one can can only kick in and sharpen considerably – after all what is one supposed to do after banging at the drums and no one even bothers to look your way?

I reckon that when really mundane stuff acquires a heightened terror. Daily stuff – like how to pay the landlord on time, hold down a nine to five job, stock up on groceries on a weekend, keep warm during winter. Car maintenance. And just having enough to live.

Let’s not even begin to discuss complex life strategies like putting a down payment on a Honda jet before one hits 35. That’s an advance game plan that requires aptitude, strategy and cool headedness that these characters don’t have in my very humble opinion….not yet at least.

I am merely talking about the basic a,b and c here in strictly lower case. You can’t fool me as I worked my way thru university in first world countries – I know how the system is hardwired from within besides just appearances. There’s going to be discrimination and plenty of it. Competition is tough, even if you happen to believe you’re born with the ability to shock and awe.

So at the end of the day. No matter how one chooses to run away from that timeless and universal equation of life that all of mankind is tied too in one shape or form – there’s no running away from gainfully earning one’s keep.

And in that respect the US is hardly the land of the free as it is most definitely the land of the fee – as to be poor in the US is simply to be without rights. It’s very far removed from the egalitarian society as it’s so often depicted in TV. It’s a very harsh place where the divisions between the have’s and have not’s have always been and continue to be as it’s starkest and most revealing. A cruel and unforgiving place even.

That’s why I tell brotherhood people who go over there. Cultivate a dead serious attitude. Study the terrain in this new land carefully. Know it like the lines on the palm of your hands like a hunter knows his trails and kill zones. As that will enable you to clarify your goals precisely and work purposefully towards a realistic way point.

Don’t waste your time goofing around. All these are just time sucking distractions that will hold you back. As that just buys you cancer of the wallet, lost opportunities and shattered dreams. If you want to let off steam – there’s online porn and DYing has been proven to improve your imagination and creativity. Avoid mixing around with imaginary friends, losers and people who just talk all day and do nothing. They’re form of fungus. Just avoid them. Hello, good bye.

Above all dream only in the day time when your eyes are fully wide open.

As that in my opinion is the most dangerous category of men on this planet – men who dream in the ark light of the full blast of the day light are like vampires in reverse. Only these category of men can put their dreams into action. Those men who only dream with their eyes closed when they’re snoozing…just dream.

But men who dream with their eyes wide open can work towards landing that luxury penthouse in Manhattan overlooking Central Park. They can get that 70 acre weekend retreat ranch in Montana complete with helipad and stone finished jacuzzi with twelve nozzles. Above all they get to custom color scheme their very own Honda jet that incidentally comes with Garmin touch screen instrumentation (just in case you all think this is a gimmick, it’s all mil spec, I checked up) I will further add steering is by wire control complete with ILS and auto detect glide slope landing, just like a B-737 commercial jetliner. Don’t believe me go to AINtv to check it all out…please go.

I encourage you all to hypnotize yourself every morning and night for at least twenty minutes.

Just go thru the entire sequence of the dreamscape. Feel the premium aniline leather on your skin as you strap yourself in. The reassuring hum of the engines spooling steadily as you initiate start up sequence….taxi to take off by electronic steer by wire. No need to throttle the manifold intake like a stupid propeller Cessna. After ground clearance. You don’t have to even manually set the trim or flaps – it’s all done by the proprietary Honda flight management…it’s automatic….all fail safe. V1, you’re barreling down full ahead. Rotate. Feel the leather pressing against your flesh as the G’s ratchet up – your airspeed is just right, you Stretch her legs by ripping the throttles to gain altitude. No vibration. As the engines are located not on the fuselage but on the aft wings….only the Honda jet has this unique feature – you’re soaring. It’s smooth as silk. The ground beneath you disappears and the ambient for the glass cockpit display even adjust automatically against glare. No need to do stupid things like crouch really low or do yoga at 15,000 ft just to read the dials.

Everything is just exactly like the big four engine jets. Or rather it feels that way.

My point is this. Once you get all these things – then you can fuck around as much as you want. You can even paint the town red. No one would bat an eyelid.

But I can assure all of you by that time – you wouldn’t want to do anything of those things. It’s all behind you. That was another life lived. Now you’re soaring in your brand new Honda jet. That incidentally is optimised for only single pilot under FAA PPL rating.

I mean if you have a girl sitting in the cabin. You could like flip the auto pilot. And go back and play with the box, Xbox that is, as Honda designed the cabin just like one of those Super deluxe limos. Or maybe check on your inbox and other boxes. Check out AINtv…even comes with a tastefully designed lavatory. Not like those Cessna’s where you have to piss and shit into a plastic bag. Everything is just exactly like a big commercial jet.

You see I want you all to have this beautiful images to reinforce your goals and to true them always….all these things can be accomplished in America. Many people have done it. Why not you?

Homer Tan did it, so did Prof Chandra aka Moriatry….it’s all there for the taking. They’re invited me. I told them, I will go there…I will sit in your jet…we would fly it interstate….and I would take pictures and post it right here!

You see these epic losers all got it backwards. Always sort out the basics first in life. Always! I mean if you’ve got to worry about stuff like whether you rather skip the chips to get that ice cream dessert when you pop down to KFC…then the entire notion of freedom doesn’t make sense. I mean if you tires are botak (bald) and you have to eat canned corn beef for two straight weeks just to buy they threads. There’s something terribly wrong with the picture…Don’t ever talk to me about rights and freedom of this and that. It’s just going to be a very depressing conversation.

That’s why out tribe is at the very top of the food chain. While they make do with superglue and duct tape just to get by in life.

Life is indeed cruel……is it not?

You know what? I have never been a great fan of throwing out just facts and figures to either push a point home or to get buy in from those around me. Never.

I am not saying bar and pie charts along with percentiles are not useful. Sure they are…to a certain point.

But the main thrust of any ‘hard sell’ should always be structured as an emotional appeal. Weaving one’s message creatively into a story recruits not only the imagination of those one is appealing too…….frequently experience informs me, it even has the extraordinary power to transform the audience into characters in the story.

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‘Many people have asked me what I really think about the recent water hikes recently back home. Actually to be honest – I happen to agree with it. Now if you press me why? I would probably never say it’s strategic.

Why? Because that’s a cold and metallic word that doesn’t really mean much to most people and doing so would probably go down as well as a stone in a dark well with no bottom.

It doesn’t have soul…there’s no sympatico.

To say water is strategic is not so different from saying to make durable jet engines one needs chromium. Or maybe to grow succulent fruit one needs potasssium and possibly boron….it’s awfully cold and the corners are terribly sharp when one uses such words to get a point across.

I much prefer to shift the discussion to the story of how I once discovered a ruined temple in Bukit Timah. When I was back in Singapore. I used to venture into the jungle with my bicycle during the weekends all by myself. I happen to know that place like the back of my hand and I am not making this up…..sumpah!

There is actually a forgotten temple ruin in McRitchie reservoir!

You see the story goes right back to the tumultuous year in 1942 when the Japanese steamrolled across the whole of Asia. At that time Singapore was like the equivalent of Gibraltar that was why it was bristling with monster canons that could fire shells the size of a Cherry QQ.

Now the seige of Singapore officially lasted just seven days. But if you ask me – when was the real date when the Japanese wrapped it all up like a sweet Bento lunch box. It was probably around noon on the 12th February 1942. As that was the moment when a jap soldier climbed the tallest Chingay tree that ever grew in Singapore and hoisted up a Japanese flag.

That super duper tall majestic Chingay tree is no longer there. The Japs eventually cut her down to build their mythical jungle temple and a wooden bridge. But in the old Bukit Timah maps used by Surveyors and planters – it was a very prominent marker that planters frequently used as a fixed point as it could be seen for miles and miles. During those days no haze lah.

So when everyone saw the Japanese sun blazing high on this solitary tree sticking out high up from Bukit Timah. They all knew it was truly over. Finito….kaput..habis…pochi (in Tamil it means Matilah)….game over!

In Raffles hotel the bartender rang the last bell – all the Ang moh broke out in Auld Lang Syne. Those who were smarter scampered to buy the last tickets from the Imperial airways that had a flying boat service just on the Quay of a present day Fullerton that used to be a post office.

Everyone knew that fortress Singapore which was previously considered impregnable. As it had the most modern array of monster artillery ever assembled in one place was well and truly lost.

As that Japanese flag on that tall Chingay tree meant the Japanese had full control of the water supply over Singapore as they had overrun both McRitchie and Pierce reservoir….all they had to do to win was to threaten to cut off the water supply to the city.

From that moment onwards all the calculations of war…how many artillery pieces who have. Where are they positioned. Along with number of battalions, reserves, tanks, squadrons of planes, tonnage of warships didn’t matter one ounce…the final outcome was decided solely on water….and very little else.

I am not kidding you all. I am not. There’s actually a forgotten ruined Japanese temple in Bukit Timah….someday when I return back home. I’ll even show you all where it is…..they can’t stop me. I know the jungle like the back of my hand. I even know at least ten ways to get in unseen and unheard like special forces – we will take the long route that no knows, it’s called the tiger trail. The one where I can show you part of an engine of ww2 plane half buried into the side of a hill. We trek at night. Travel in single file to hide our numbers. Use only light sticks and rely on the moon and stars or maybe the bright lights of the distant Malls to fix our position. On day break we will arrive whip up some curry sardines and roti – it’s a very mysterious and eriee place just like maybe how Singapore ghost stories gives one the creeps….but it’s all real…a real story that is.’

Oudh

March 25, 2017

London Terror attacks

March 24, 2017

A Mother who walked on the bridge to pick up her kids after school was ploughed down. So was an American who was celebrating his 25th anniversary with his wife taking in the sights and sounds of London. A policeman was stabbed to death and the human carnage of those who were maimed and injured in this senseless attack is just very sad.

Sad because Islam really does not need this. Sad because many stupid people out there will I imagine draw the wrong conclusion Islam is a violent and malevolent force that needs to be tranquilized like a feral and wild animal.

Sad as I happen to know for an indelible fact based on my far and wide interactions with so many Muslims thru out the world. Most are just very even keeled folk who aspire to roughly the same wants as you and me. Sad as very few have actually chilled out with Muslims on a Sunday afternoon nursing embers of perfume wood and just having a great time…do I need to hold back. Never. As we are all cool and the atmosphere is just exactly the way one wishes it to be.

Sad as I happen to speak Arabic fluently along with at least three French creole dialects that allows me to mix seamlessly with those deep in the folds of the Arabic world who I can only testify first hand to be people who love and venerate peace above all else….who are elementally not so different from us.

Sad as I can take you gently by the hand and show you the majesty and beauty of the Islamic world that will simply blow your brains to a million pieces…things that even Muslims in Singapore don’t know about in the hidden niches of that floating world.

Above all sad for all the shy, reserved and quiet Muslims who have to live under the spell of misconception that theirs is a violent and senseless way of life that deserves only the force of arms.

It’s so sad…..that one can even cry.

—————————————————————————-

‘If you are in Cairo or Marakezh for just one day….and should fate and destiny intersect and should I walk right into your life and say, come with me…your life would change.

It would certainly change completely.

As I would take you to places that you have never imagined existed before…places where the doors of paradise would open and revelations of dreams can be lived. Places that are far yet distanced by only the power of the imagination to be anyone you want to be. A devirish dancing lost in time or in the smokey caverns of darkened interiors where ancient woods are burnt where a solitary tongue of smoke arises like a dancing serpent and when it hits you…you exclaim, wow!…only to sink ever deeper and deeper into layers of sensory delights of a many thousands pleasures. Places, sights, sounds and smells that can only remind you of the beauty of what it is to live…to be alive…all these can be found and much more only in the world of the Moslem.

But when this image is clouded over with terror and violence …..then no one would see the beauty and majesty of what I speak of.

How can they?

Why should they?

And somewhere there lies the greatest tragedy of our age.’

If some kind soul can find out where the lady resides. It would be my pleasure to present her some wild flowers and a carton of sardines when I next go back to Singapore.

Wood art

March 22, 2017

During my last visit to the city. I lunched with a brilliant agronomist who confided to me – no one seems to be very interested in engaging his services. I listened impassively to his lengthy recount of missed opportunities along with shattered dreams…..then when he asked. Why is it so effortless for you?

I simply quipped. No one does it better than the Koreans. Thereafter I shared with the man who can’t seem to sell anything this YouTube video.

After that. I turned to this man and asked, do you understand what I am trying to convey to you?

He did not get it…..

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‘We don’t live in a fair world. Frequently the best products and services don’t even regularly get votes from wallets. Yes, I know – they should. But the fact is they don’t!

That’s because the vast majority of humans are very far from just cold and calculating metallic machines. Infact they’re all without exception romantics and even slightly emotional to pass of as down right quirky.

Always remember a man who walks into a DIY store on a Sunday to buy a drill, isn’t just there with the solitary intent of making a hole in the wall. He is very much a part of a narrative. A story where he may even see himself living in a dream place somewhere in his mind, where he can display on a wall of shelves all the things that brings him happiness and an intense feeling of being close to the things and objects that he identifies with. It’s an intensely edifying experience for one to be part of such an exciting story.

So if you happen to a marketing promoter of drills don’t ever sell him how good the drill is rather weave yourself as one of those characters in his story.

In the same way when a planter walks into a conference room filled with anxious men – he is not simply there to supply the prescriptive cure than may nail their problem in one hit!

I know life should work that way…but it doesn’t.

Rather the story has begun the very moment he walks in. The effortless way in which he strolls in with a quiet air of confidence. The faint aroma of ancient wood that speaks of speckled timber deep in the emerald green of the jungle in moss covered rounded river stones complete with even the sweet sound of running water. The congenial way he tarries and pushes to get his point across or to get buy in from those on the table speaks of range and breadth of experience in navigating skillfully thru complexity. A deep scar that speaks the length of once having lived a hard life on the razor’s edge. His impeccable old world charm in the way he regards ladies again speaks of faraway worldly ways and so on and so forth.

There is nothing fake or contrived or even manufactured about all this….it is awfully real and that is really how it is when it comes to managing yourself and others in the real world.

Anyway who tells you different just doesn’t know how every person lives his or her life thru a narrative called a story.

Like I said, it is very much an unfolding story is it not – a story that may perhaps even include all the lietmotifs of passion, energy, dreams, pleasures, excitement, seeing the world slightly differently from the way one has always seen it and much more.

When we understand what really accounts for human wants and desires only then is it possible to insert oneself in between that happy sliver between yearning and the fulfillment of that desire – then it is very easy to be part of that larger narrative. Rather than to stand awkwardly beside it. Not really knowing the part one is expected to play to render the story more interesting and exciting so as to mesmerise and enthral the audience.

With this realisation. Suddenly the world is not just reduced to a series of functioning nuts and bolts. Rather there are darkened interiors and even shadows to this story where there might even exist the Hollywood promise of redemption along with trite ending one lives happily forever thereafter….it may not be real. But maybe it is not meant to be. As for one to be part of a story in earnest. One would do well to play the part impeccably.

I have learnt so many wonderful things from the magical Koreans. For one. Never just sell functional things like nuts and bolts. No matter how good it is. Never just do that – as there is really so much mileage one can get from that approach. Instead observe and listen carefully to what sort of narrative you have walked into – do not interrupt the flow. Don’t even judge it. Simply observe and appreciate the nuances of the story that you find yourself in.

By just doing that alone you will know intuitively what is expect from you. It will come very naturally.’

A year back ago. I initiated peace talks with my business rivals. It was a very humiliating experience. As they did not treat me well. Before I sat down with them for dinner – I put a very bitter jambu seed in my mouth. It was there to remind me. Life is cruel. And a man would do well to remember this – as in life there are times when an unpleasant business has to be seen thru right to its logical end no matter how much it rubs him the wrong way.

That’s life….so see it thru stoically with a calm and unruffled disposition ..one must.

During the meeting I conceded to virtually every single one of their terms and conditions.

I did not complain. Neither did I make a scene. I saw it thru from beginning to end like a Classical Chinese gentleman.

After the dinner. I shook hands with everyone on the table and promised to faithfully keep to all the agreed covenants. I even made it a point to assure everyone that I bear no grudges and they all have my solemn word that from this point onwards I will do my upmost sincerest to be a team player.

I did all this in the name of peace in our time. I did all this because all diplomatic efforts had failed and the only option that existed was a protracted intercine trade war where no one could ever hope to win….even if they managed to win. All they would inherit is the empire of the bones…that at least was my calculation.

It is very sad many of those who were on the table that fateful day did not have either the maturity or wisdom to realise we were all barelling full speed and head long into a protracted war of attrition that would have bankrupted and possibly ruined everyone on that table and caused untold misery to countless villagers.

The onus to put an end to this torrid affair, therefore fell squarely on the shoulders of the youngest landowner who sat on the table that evening….me.

During our dinner a child wandered into the private room – I held him up and turned to the elders and said to them all. I want him to grow up to believe in fairness. I so want him to believe in the idea when a man dedicates himself to hard labor, honesty and righteous ways…then the doors of heaven will fling suddenly open and he will reap his rightful due. Even should the world be crooked. This child must believe otherwise. Even if it is a great lie. We would do well to hide this awful truth from him.

Many bowed their heads in shame that evening. As these are very heavy and wise words that have the power to cut thru false appearances to only reveal the terrible truth.

Above all I did all these things and much more. As I had known only war all my life. And I wanted nothing more than to run away from that maddening vicious cycle that smoked my mind no end.

If there is any redemption to all this – I gave as well as I rolled with the punches. As even when my business rivals outnumbered me ten to one and all I had was a meagre biscuit tin of a war chest. I took them on. On virtually every single business run in. Not only did I hit them so hard with the element of surprise to inflict lasting damage with superior strategy and cerebral fitness. But I even made it so costly to compel them to devote so much men and material just to keep me within the confines of a box which could otherwise have been devoted to be more productive ends – regrettably thru the years.

I have extracted such a heavy price on those who once foolishly tried to stop me from expanding my business that today I known to all as a ruthless and heartless businessman.

No amount of money I can ever donate in my life time will ever wash away that hard and implacable image that has taken hold in the minds of those who know of my humble rise.

That was why I wanted peace. I wanted it so bad even if it came with a heavy price to pride and self esteem. Above all I wanted peace as I realised from that day onwards I had decided to stand alone…to always be like a solitary island in shark infested waters.

Where I am here and they are there and in between there is nothing but a broad and deep barren waste land known as no man’s land.

Whose right or wrong? Not important….was I justified to have once done this or that? Or perhaps might they have been justified to do what they once did? Again not important…as that is all water under the bridge….it is no more.

All that exist now is the blank page of a brand new chapter.

Recently some of my business rivals have sent me seasonal gifts along with greetings…..I for my part have done the same.

It is a very small step. But even the journey of one thousand miles must begin with one small step….I am hopeful.

One day I will return back to the table and take my rightful place.

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‘A few years back ago when someone asked what life advice I should give the likes of Alvin Tan. I replied. Don’t be ridiculous. He has his own mind and he will do whatever he likes. But when this person implored me to give my two cents worth – I only had this to say. Now that he is in America. I hope he never looks back….not even for once. Not even for memory sake. I hope he will have the courage to keep walking forward and never to look back. Let us not talk about complicated things like making something out of his life. Or whether he can put a down payment on a Honda jet before he hits 35….no point lah. Worse still let us not discuss who is right or wrong etc etc….it is after all water under the bridge…spilled milk….just go live your life in peace.

Now I hear that Amos Yee has done a runner as well – so my advice is the same. Don’t look back. Keep your eyes ahead. Keep walking. And my hope is these tortured souls find what they really yearn for in life.

Please understand. There is no malice in my heart. None whatsoever. Only understanding for a thing – I am not like the mindless mob. If they want to hate and nurse the embers of finding differences rather than seeking out common ground…then go right on!

But for me it is very clear. Once you’ve decided to pull the lever and the escape pod unhinges from the mothership and blast off at the speed of light. It’s conceivable when you look out of the porthole that image will get smaller and smaller till at some point it will disappear completely from view….in the life of every person there certainly exist a domain known as the point of no return.

Once that line has been crossed. It’s over. It’s no more and all that exist is the brand new dreamscape along with crushing reality of the present and future.

I went on tell this person. But if these people continue to cling on to the memories of the past or worst still they continue to live in the past fighting shadows instead of dedicating all of themselves to bettering their lot in the present and future. Then what is likely to happen is they will end up living in a delusional world where it can said nothing is truly real.

That would truly be a monumental waste of a life.

This is hardly new ground. Many men have gone to such a place – the point of no return that is. It may not be as spectacular and drama mama like what these people have pulled off. But nonetheless….it is roughly the same thing. A man who falls out of love. He too finds himself grappling with the demons of the past. But after a while. Even he has to pick himself up and move on the best he can. He may well be damaged goods…but move right on he must. Similarly a man who experiences set backs in his business and is forced to close shop. That too is a sort of point of no return as well. And he too has to somehow cobble together whatever remnants of pride and courage and sagacity to either start all over again or stay where he is as he confronts the awful reality of his unfulfilled dreams….but again move right on he must.

In every single case it never ever pays to look back. No good can ever come from mulling about what was said and done…whose right or wrong or even whether they’re closer to the truth or you or they are. All these things are pointless when one has already crossed the point of no return – only the omnipresent reality of today and perhaps tomorrow, next week or the month after this and the continuum of the chastening passage of time really matters.

I do not know who Melissa Chen is, but she would do well to give good advise to master Amos to forget Singapore and just go right on. After all there are so many injustices in America and the rest of world. Go pick one and be passionate about it – everything from cute and defenseless seals getting clubbed just for their pelts to GMO food where melons are larger than basket balls. Choose one and go lah!

But don’t ever look back.

For better of for worst.

Like the analogy of the escape pod it will lance thru the atmosphere of a brand new world. Maybe it’s off the chart. Maybe it’s populated and civilised. Then again maybe it’s deserted and you are the only life form there – but even then. As bleak as that may be….it is a new beginning. So make the best of it.

But never look back…never. I wish them all the best of luck.’

It is going to be an exceptionally hard and bitter year for plantations. I fear the lean years may drag on possibly to the next and beyond. Hard not only because the weather is conspiring against the planter. It is virtually impossible to predict the weather these days. Yesterday we had three different weather fronts. All of which could well have been a season in its own right.

Even my friends the birds and plants are very confused.

There is also the social economic dimension of a slowing Chinese economy that will certainly reduce consumption of agri produce. Couple to that, the Americans may switch from oil palm to soya to keep the ultra right US farming lobbyist happy. To further darken the already bleak picture. The ringgit seems to be wavering – it seems to lack the necessary steadiness required for accurate and precise financial planning and I fear it may drop further in the near future. Of course the politicians will continue to insist they will shore up the ringgit – but in my assessment, it would be futile.

Back home things are equally bleak as well. Global trade is beginning to thin out at an alarming rate. This can only have an adverse effect on manufacturing output, shipping volumes and oil revenues. All these factors are likely to have a domino effect on jobs as businesses continue to chase profits in an ever diminishing market of scarcity.

The world I fear may well be heading into a very long global recession the likes of which mankind has never witnessed before.

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‘Cultivate the art of living simply. Keep your wants small. Strive daily for them to be smaller still. Moderate your desires. Where possible have none. Never spend money trying to impress people who you hardly know or care for. Above all learn to be comfortable with the idea of being your own man and woman.

Just be yourself and above all strive to be comfortable with that idea. Set aside the politics and power of the world. If so and so rubs you the wrong way – let it go….if so and so is doing better…be happy for him. Don’t get entangled with other people’s life and their mental baggages. Just strive to lead a simple and uncluttered life where’s it’s possible to see everything in life standing out clearly like a row of white picket fence.

Why is this atttiude so important? Because in life it’s never ever a case of HOW much you earn as it will always be the very practical business of how small and frugal your needs actually are.

A good rule of thumb is the wealthier a man gets…the simpler his life should be. The less his wants. Ideally he should occupy his life with less rather than more – getting by with less is the highest acme of confidence, spiritual maturity and intelligence in a man. It is a very attractive form.

Keep it simple. Keep it that way even when all others seem to go the other way.’

During my last visit to the city. I picked up a friend early in the morning from his house. He’s a brilliant chartered accountant who is responsible for number crunching the financials of my proposal to a prospective customer in the plantation industry.

My friend was attired in a casual shirt with a shiny lizard skin imprinted tie. He was wearing really tight jeans like trousers capped off by a blinding pair of electric blue shoes.

After reviewing all this. I asked in a very stern and no nonsense business like tone – why are you sabotaging me? Do you happen to bear a grudge against me? I promise. I never did anything untoward to your mummy or Sister. Do you know what our goal is? Do you even know what we are trying to accomplish before noon today? Do you even appreciate the seriousness of the people who we are going to meet up with?

He answered. Yes….we going to see planters to sell them the idea of bumping up the yield.

Then I asked – why then, do you dress in a way that disrespects the credo of the planter and the institutions he venerates and belongs too? What makes you so special that you see yourself as having the right to do all these disrespectful things to ten generations of history, tradition and heritage?

He did not understand. That at least was my conclusion.

Shortly thereafter. I told him sternly to get out of my car. I took his file and went into the meeting room without him.

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‘If you happen to be a Malaysian turning the wheel of life in Singapore. Then you are automatically part of a great diaspora and history that has and is still going on for the last 100 years and beyond…it’s a very long and illustrious history of collaboration based on mutual trust and respect.

This you would do well to keep in mind every morning when you awake even before both your feet touch the floor.

So if you happen to be a high flying economics professor in NTU or even a lowly prison guard NEVER disrespect the natives of your surrogate country.

Never! Because without the good graces of the natives – you would NEVER be able to put food on the table for your family!

This compact you must respect to honor those who came before and will come after you. Remember this is very brotherhood…remember you didn’t just walk over the hill naked. You’re part of history, tradition and heritage.

For the better part of one hundred years Malaysians have worked alongside natives in Singapore and lived in peace, harmony and felicity.

It is a very beautiful relationship like satay and peanut sauce….don’t spoil it!

So remember NEVER be callous and free spirited with your thoughts, actions and words when dealing with natives – if you cannot tahan…then set aside your reckless and indifferent ways for 24 hours. Go for a walk in East Coast park. Distract yourself by playing Pokemon Go.

Then revisit the matter when you’re cooler.

Otherwise your rashness and indifference will end up rubbing the natives the wrong way and it’s only natural for them to get hot under the collar – like the nutty professor in NTU who started talking so much rubbish such as forwarding the crack brained idea – it is better to raise the price of water by 100% – when the nutty professor was challenged with facts, logic and figures in the internet…at first he put up a weak defense and when the otherside responded robustly with force of will and it looked as if his entire logic would crumble to dust like a house of cards. The kacang puteh professor promptly put his tail between his legs and scooted back into his air con cave never to be seen or heard of again…till of course next time when he presumably jumps right out of his mad cap box again…..don’t you think that’s very immature and foolish coming from a ‘leader?’ – but what did he really accomplish for all his efforts? Did he enhance the prestige of NTU? Did he lend further credence to the PAP’s policy of increasing the price of tap water? Might he even have swayed public opinion on to accept these price hikes?

I will leave that to the perceptive reader to answer. Meanwhile do check out this site to familiarise yourself with the debate concerning price hikes for tap water in Singapore.

https://trulysingapore.wordpress.com/2017/03/10/reply-to-a-final-rejoinder-on-justifications-for-water-price-increase/

Only if I was the PAP public relations officer I would probably send that nut case a fruit cake with a polite card, ‘Thank you for your insightful comments. Moving forward. We will appreciate it if in future you send your comments in first for our perusal before releasing it for public consumption…do enjoy the menglembu ground nuts.’

As despite his best efforts. All he really did was demonstrate how insensitive he is to the plight of so many natives, who may not be as fortunate as him. To put it another way he brought out the very worse in natives and worst of all imprinted a negative image in their minds about all Malaysians.

Do you see how ONLY one rotten apples can spoil all the other apples in the cart?

It’s the same with some of the trailer trash variety white man working in Singapore. He goes around screwing all the loose native girls. He makes it a public fish bowl affair and does his thing full frontal in Boat Quay. All it does is rub the natives the wrong way. Result: they don’t like him. They want him to go home!

Same goes for those high flying Indians from India. They come to Singapore and they talk down to natives in the banking industry. Frequently they promote their own kind citing all sorts of dubious reasons ranging from lack of talent to invoking business necessity. All at the expense of the natives. Again no one likes them. All they want is for him to go home.

But by and large Malaysians have always been welcomed by Singaporeans. As they are sensitive, considerate and above all respectful of the customs of natives and their ways. That is why there are so many happy relationships and marriages between Malaysians and Singaporeans.

Perhaps one way to instill communal and group discipline is to revive the planters no nonsense social convention of ‘not letting the side down.’ In the planters world this discipline is rigorously enforced – whenever a scandal erupts and threatens to bring disrepute to the industry such as the tainted Brazilian beef scandals.

The dearly unfortunate or unfortunates who are responsible for the fuck up would usually be promptly promoted and sent a fruit hamper with the cryptic words,

‘Hoping to see you in happier times. Don’t worry your family will be well taken care of. Rest assured. P.S We expect you to do the right thing. Bye bye’

When the dearly unfortunate planter receives such a message usually he would be given 14 days to set his personal affairs in order – settling outstanding debts, dinner with the family and friends, deleting porn sites from his hard drive, burning incriminating photos…. that sort of thing. Then after the expiry of the grace period one night when all that resounds is the sweet repose of sleep in the house….a single shot from the revolver rings out. At that very moment order, structure and harmony is happily restored again.

Life proceeds happily as if nothing ever happened.

Of course when I put forward such ideas everyone says, ‘look he’s back to his evil ways again…like Hitler and Stalin and Idi Amin et al.

But what to do?

Either that or remain grateful. Keep a very Low profile. Don’t be too opinionated. Above all. Always give respect to people and institutions….if you cannot even do that. Keep quiet and stay at home and watch descendants of the sun over and over again..either way that is better than making natives hot under the collar.’

Fashionados

March 19, 2017

United Arrows is a very influential trendsetter for global men’s fashion – in Pitti Uomo it is an absolutely must touch base with asset for one to really get to know what’s really happening in the men’s fashion scene not only in the AP region but also in Europe and the US as well.

As not only is their network very extensive. But so is their sphere of influence in setting both the instructional and directional trajectory of where men’s fashion should go.

To me, United Arrows is a very perculiar outfit….even for a Japanese brand – on one hand it’s very bureaucratic, hierarchical and even top down.

For example every year without fail – they send me two shirts and it’s been happening for yonks…this is very characteristic of traditional established Japanese firms like Toyota or maybe Panasonic.

On the otherhand, United Arrows is still able remain very creatively fluid and holistic in virtually every aspect of both men and women’s fashion simply because it subscribes to a very old philosophy that puts a disproportionate weight on personality driven leadership.

There are I believe many valuable lessons to be gleaned from this.

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‘There’s nothing much to be said about my core line of business which is plantations – it’s very traditional and perhaps even steeped in conservationism…which is really just a polite way of saying it’s in a sort of permafrost semi stasis state where work can at best be described in terms of a happy litany.

But even then it’s conceivable, for one to really excel in this field and it may be argued as well, any other vocation or even object of interest one devotes oneself too….I think it’s absolutely necessary to have a philosophy as to where one sees oneself alongside the enterprise and the broader question of the industry at large.

So there you have it the small and big picture…maybe what I am trying to describe here is a bit fuzzy. Do bear with me…

For example when I reflect back on my hobby of painting shoes – it didn’t really make much progress in the beginning. Not meaningful one’s at least, where others would seriously considering voting with their wallets…till maybe when I began to flesh out some semblance of how and what I really wanted my work to convey….paradoxically not to others. But specifically to myself.

I mindful that may come across as terribly selfish, self centered and narcasstic. But that really my point – one has to be a bit selfish when it comes to crafting a philosophy. Possessive even.

To cut a long story short. I had begun to flesh out the rough outline of a philosophy which appealed to me. That allowed me to infuse my work with deep and thoughtful experiences which all belong to me and not the world concerning what and how I really wanted to create.

I wouldn’t go as far as to say I no longer cared about what others were doing. Or even how they may be dressing their shoes. But suddenly….all that business of looking out side myself just dropped away and the only thing that remained was what I was trying to accomplish along the with the motivation behind….the artisanal life is very lonely.

A man working at night under the solitary wan of just an incandescent light bulb driven solely by his philosophy.

That attitude eventually became The Central theme of my work.

I didn’t realise it at that time. I am a bit slow with these things. Only because I was always looking at this and that and saying to myself, that’s nice….maybe I will go there and do that thing. And for a very long time with that sort of vapidness that clings to one’s work it’s not unusual for no one to take much interest in my work. Or even bear out patiently what I may have to say concerning why I continue to do the things I do.

But the very moment I began to stand alongside the clarity of the philosophy and drew nourishment from it – which was mine in the sense that it was a journey of self discovery thru my work and not just something that I’ve managed to cobble together like some patch work blanket from the rest of the world – to create very naturally painted shoes that seemed almost to capture the tone of aged leather along with it’s many fascinating layers of depth, chatoyancy and richness which could only come from the chastening passage of time…..the moment I drew inspiration from a moss covered rock in nature. The way the last dying light clings to a leaf with a bronzed melancholy. The slightly crooked tilt of an old work shed that I once came across during my morning walks. Suddenly. I found that people took a keen interest in my work.

Suddenly that sphere which was my work was infused with uncanny clarity that enabled me to see things that others can never see – that was really what allowed me to distinguish myself from other shoe artist. Suddenly people started to say – if you want that…then only he can deliver the goods…he specialised in that area.

Suddenly the whole universe that was work was no longer just something that it used to be where I would say to myself this or that is nice and I would just follow it. Instead I had begun to develop my very own style that defined me as an artisan in my own right….I will go my own way and do my own thing.

I guess what I am trying to say is one can really only make real and meaningful progress in ones work when one discovers the importance of having a philosophy.

What’s your philosophy?

Precious Oudh

March 18, 2017

Pound for pound it’s more expensive than gold. Highly prized, very rare and sought after by all from Morocco to Gulf states.

Oudh oil flows out from the Agarwood tree only twice a year for very brief periods. Frequently lasting no more than two weeks at a time usually at just before the approach of the moonson. Most Oudh trees no longer exist. They are only to be found very deep in the jungle. The trek it’self is highly hazardous and can take any where between a week to two.

Usually I go with tribesmen. We trek mainly at night and navigate by the stars like their ancestors before them, always keeping track of the moon as it arcs across the inky skies to keep time. In the day we hunt and sleep mostly. As jungle trekking is strenuous and fraught with all sorts of dangers – but this year for some reason my friends from the blue mountains seem to be late. Usually when they appear about this time of the year. They hide for days in my lands observing me carefully.

The tribesmen all have the power of invisibility – they can walk unseen and silently in the wild. Even my Doberman’s cannot sense their presence as they all heavily musked.

Maybe they are already here…but there are always signs of their presence.

To the tribesman the human form can never be trusted. As in their dream world – all humans are simply malevolent spirits.

They all wait patiently for my spirit form…the real me to emerge from the trickery of the skin of the human – to the tribesman, I am Ah-Mak. The giant albino white lizard.

When I sense they are watching I would strip naked and get on all fours and impersonate the swaggering walk of a monitor lizard frequently sticking out my tongue to taste the air.

When my jungle friends see this ritual dance….they know it is really me and not an evil spirit – they would all chant Ah-Mak…Ah-Mak…Ah-Mak rhymically like the beat of a drum – as they emerge one by one to transform into their real dream realm forms. We would all dance together. Some will be eagles, others will be hogs and there is even a frog who hops around and croaks from time to time. A brave would paint spirit paint on the naked body of Ah-Mak to protect him from malevolent spirits. Armed with only a flint knife and a pelt to cover my manhood we head into the depths of the emerald jungle like the wind in search of the ambrosia of the Gods.

Consider these three case studies…

Why is the PAP having such a tough time trying to convince Singaporeans that the prices of tap water needs to be raised?

The simple answers is because they spent 70% of their time trying to justify the cost of why tap water needs to go up. While only 30% of the effort is directed to educating users why they need to be stakeholders instead of just being consumers. To further rub the public the wrong way – they throw in ‘insult my brain’ commentaries from an academic derelict who just happens to be a nutty professor in NTU.

Now many parents (including myself) in Singapore are seriously having second thoughts about sending their kids to NTU. As they don’t ever want their children to end up being a stupid caricature like the nutty Prof…very hard to cari makan (ekk of a living) if they talk gibberish that only seems to make sane people roll their eyes and slap their foreheads – dowan lah!

Let move on….

Some years back ago. The board of directors of an estate that wasn’t performing well asked me to endorse a plan to boost yield by using round after round of very strong fertilizers. I told them politely, if you all opt for this strategy of pumping steroids to boost yield. You would certainly be able to experience high yields for the first two years. Thereafter the yield can only deteriorate as the method is not sustainable ecologically and what you’re really do is just cannabilizing the land of nutrients.

The CEO asked me. Aren’t you interested in making money? I replied yes…then he pressed his point home. We are the customer. You should satisfy and delight us. To which I replied, as a customer you certainly have the right to insist on satisfaction for services rendered…that is your elemental right, but what you’re asking of me is to sanction Hara Kiri on an industrial scale by poisoning every acre of your land till nothing will ever grow there…that I cannot do. Not at least without imperiling my own reputation. As what you’re asking me to do is sign off on a flawed strategy like perhaps endorsing the Titanic. Thereafter I referred them to the nutty professor who I said would be happiest to say anything including confecting fairytales to support their cracked pot strategy and promptly bid them all farewell along with ever call me….I will call you.

Another illustration.

From time to time when it comes to my hobby of painting shoes – I do get the odd request. On one particular occasion. A customer asked of me to patina a pair of super expensive bespoke loafers. I sent back the shoes untouched with a polite note – I am so sorry but I am not in a position to fulfill your request due to a backlog of orders.

Later on my shoe agent who handles the marketing aspect of my shoe dressing business phoned me up and recounted how this particular customer had berated him and even referred to me as an arrogant fuck who didn’t have the courtesy to render satisfactory service to a valued customer such as himself. When my agent asked of me why I had refused in such adamant terms to carry out the work. I simply recounted to him – I am a respecter of craftsmen and the philosophy and institutions to which we all belong too.

I went on to explain my agent. The loafer was constructed by a renowned Japanese shoemaker who I happen to know personally. They are a husband and wife team based in Osaka and since I take a keen interest in their philosophy of aesthetics. I even know this is the last thing they would ever want any of their customers to commit to one of their shoes.

When my agent asked pleadingly – he’s a very wealthy and influential man who gives us regular orders….can’t you at least make an exception and keep him happy….it’s after all his shoe. He paid for it. To which I replied, the shoe may well be his legal property. But when it comes to such a work of art. He is merely the custodian – and since the customer is requesting me to defile or mutilate a work of art from a shoemaker who I happen to respect and admire.

In the long run word will go around. The market is after all minuscule. And soon all our orders will dry out as other shoemakers in Japan will be so horrified that we are part of this sacrilege….I went to stress to my agent. It’s best if you recommend this customer to one those Italian shoe artist. Since they are solely focussed on the profit motive and very little else they will be happiest to undertake his work.


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‘It really doesn’t matter what you’re selling. Once you’re in sales. You’re automatically neck deep in the business of education.

In this respect the marketing manifesto misleads – the customer is always right.

Fact is the customer is NOT always right. Sometimes he can be so wrong that you simply need to save him from driving off a cliff.

Consider this if you’re a planter and you engage the consultancy services of John Deere – what you’re ineffect buying into is one hundred and fifty years of experiental knowledge and commercial farming equipment wisdom. So if as the customer you’re foolish enough to put the cart before the horse….they will probably politely show you the door, present you with a complimentary key chain and wish you better luck with another vendor.

That’s how professionals conduct business – they will never fulfill your request IF what you propose doesn’t make a molecule of common sense. To put it another way, if you want to destroy yourself and jeopardise your reputation – they rather not be part of that process.

Same thing. If you walk into Huntsman & Sons in Saville Row and start requesting that the lapel of the suit should be incorporated this and that way. As you believe based on your third rate amateur knowledge that you have managed to cobble from surfing the internet – then the shop floor staff may perhaps recommend that you to opt for this or that design, material or cutting style. But should you as the customer insist. Then what will invariably happen is the master cutter will emerge from the back room and inform you very politely in a tone of regrettable disappointment – they cannot possibly fulfil your order right now as they’re back logged and you may have to wait four to five years for your dream suit. They will never say no to you. As the English are very polite. But in the parlance of Saville Row it’s as good as, ‘fuck off! Please go somewhere else.’

Again this is what professionals regularly do – they never allow the customer to just pull them by the nose and go wherever they want to go. They have integrity and they sincerely want to be true to their calling…it’s only natural for all craftsmen to aspire to this gold standard.

Only when you deal with lowly charlatans and crooks masquerading as professionals who claim to possess specialised knowledge will they agree to everything all in the name of delighting the customer or the customer is always right. As since this category of people are lowly. They don’t have anything resembling a reputation to lose in the first place. And since they have neither real or expceptional skills to command above average market rates. They simply don’t have the luxury to turn down business. Hence ‘no’ is a very hard to impossible word to use.

Don’t misunderstand me. The customer is NOT wrong all the time. Based on my experience. They can be right sometime. Only when they one sees them taking a bad or hazardous turn that will only end up in grief and unfulfillment of yearnings – it’s only right to step in assertively and politely to offer him a credible alternative.

Not doing so. May well buy short term customer satisfaction. But in the Long term it can only come back and bite you really hard – as the dissatisfied customer will definitely blame you for not forewarning him….he’s after all the customer. And as the marketing manifesto puts it….the customer is always right!’

Some time back ago. I was having a drink with a friend who kept lamenting no matter how hard he tries to keep his customer base, they never seem to be able stay with him for the long haul.

When my friend turned to me and asked, can you see anything wrong that I am doing?

I simply answered – you try too darn hard to make money.

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‘You don’t need to be a Mensa member to figure out – if the customer can only see you as a walking and talking cash register. Then there’s really so far you can go and no more.

End of story.

I’ve be frank – that’s the most common mistake in sales.

I much prefer my customers to see me as someone whose enthusiastic about adding value to their business. I am not saying money is not important. Sure it is. But what is the rush?

In many cases especially when it comes to new customers. I even volunteer the total solution for absolutely free and when they ask sheepishly – how much will it cost me? Most of the time, I just quipped – Let’s nail the problem first….after all I am new to you. How do you know that I am trustworthy. I will pop over tomorrow and we will take a closer look at your estate together.

Always avoid talking about money. Even if the customer wants too. Don’t ever go there! Or the magic spell would be broken. Keep pushing that subject aside and if possible keep on reassuring the customer, that’s a non issue – doing just that demonstrates that you’re not a walking and talking cash register. You’re a very serious man who understands priorities. Above all it demonstrates to the customer you’re a believer that trust needs to earned.

This is especially true in the plantation business as whatever solutions takes years to show results.

When I first started offering consultancy services to estates. Many of my competitors happen to think I have a hole in the head – in the grapevine of the planters world I am even renowned as the great fool who works for free! Some even label me disparagingly as a man who doesn’t respect his time enough – that’s why that austistic idiot works for free!

But that doesn’t bother me. They don’t know the recipe for my secret sauce – as what many of my competitors don’t realise is in nine out ten cases – I do get a return call. I seldom ever have go through the hassle of getting switched out by dissatisfied customers. Infact most of them stay with me for the long haul and most of the time they come back for more and much more. I don’t ever have to do stupid things like shout at the top of my voice to promote what’s between my two years.

Sure in the course of my business dealings I do certainly come across my fair share of free loaders and crooks who try to make use of me for free. Usually if I find they don’t seem to reciprocate my sincere efforts – then once they reach a certain cut off point – I will just refuse to pick up their calls.

End of story.

Fortunately these category on people only make up a very small minority.

As for most well adjusted and socially functional people. Usually they’re too embarrassed to take anything for free. They may be prepared to do it once or maybe twice, but no self respecting planter worth his salt will ever do it all the time – it seems to rub up against their conscience or maybe it just smacks of being unfair or something and most of the time. They do genuinely make an effort to reciprocate my sincere efforts in kind.

That’s really when it all comes full circle.

Understand this! When you have proven yourself against the very best in your industry. Usually no one is going to be dumb enough to mess with you by disrespecting or short changing you. Because you can pulverize them and reduce their sum total to zero. Knowledge is power. Capacity to prosecute on knowledge to deliver is ten times more powerful!

Planters world is very brutal. Low yield = fucked up, all talk only. No action. High sustainable yield = good to go!

End of story.

This is economics 101 – as in this world they are never going to be enough of professionals who really know their stuff and who can nail the problem squarely to ever spread around.

Doesn’t matter what profession you’re in – it’s basic economics of laws of demand and supply of intellectual capital and skills.

So don’t be afraid to work for free.

Try it out yourself if you don’t believe me! Next time you come across a customer whose facing a problem – do it for absolutely free and perform to the nines and tens. Don’t expect anything back and just watch what happens thereafter.

I can almost guarantee you it’s the best investment you will ever make.’

The other half of my income stream comes from offering consultancy services to plantations that are not doing well. Usually my standard procedure is to camp out field to first seek to undersrand what problems the customer is facing. Most of my competitors NEVER ever do this – they much prefer the customer to recount the problem to them. One reason why they prefer this approach is because firstly, they don’t have to commit any expenses or time to the project.

That if you subscribe to the common sense school of thought seems logical enough – after all, why would one even under write the risk of spending one’s own money BEFORE one is awarded the consultancy project?

I am very different. I have to be since I am autistic. I tend to rub people the wrong way even when that’s the last thing I really want to do – so it’s not unusual for me to dump in a small fortune to first seek to understand the problem the prospect is facing.

I find this approach gives me a competitive advantage. As while most of my competitors seem to only spend time in the conference room asking what problems the customer is facing while their juniors take notes. In my case I walk right in attired in my No.1 bush jacket and begin the meeting with the opening sentence – you’re all in deep shit! In the cloistered world of the planter it is permissible to use such strong language that is usually frowned upon by all other vocations….but planters are a different breed of men.

Thereafter everyone will sit at the razor edge of their seats. As I begin to rattle off ten bullet points in rapid succession. By the time I get to number five….someone exclaims, how do you know all these things? (There’s always one…always lah). That’s the cue for me to smile wryly like a fox and hand over a file as thick of a telephone book to the planter who sits at the end of the table. I move deliberately so that he can make out me out clearly – the man glances at my worn Rolex submariner, he darts at my shoes and nods approvingly to his counterparts – they’re all field wear Tricker’s and it speaks of a frontier man whose done his homework and there and then the decision is made.

Doctor you have the contract…now please tell us what we must do to wage war against evil.

The end.

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‘Business to me is war! Those who are trained in the art of war will know what I mean by this – that is to say to first understand a thing for what it is. One would do well to invest all of one selves into that thing – do not be afraid of giving all of yourself to this thing…as when you do so. You will gain insight.

Insight is what makes you special – it is the language of honesty and cuts right into the heart of the matter. When a man speaks with insight his words can only be heavy and weighty and the serious men of this world will sit at the edge of their seats and prick their ears.

Do not be lazy. Always strive to me one with the problem. Above all do not be afraid to give – the Christians I imagine have it right. Give and you shall receive.

Research and study this Dao. As it applies to all things in life’

This is seriously delicious. I like to eat canned sardines whenever I camp out in the wild.

I would like to thank the lady Chef and pay my respects to thank her personally when I next return back home to Singapore with a box of sardines.

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‘I never take anything for granted. Not even when it comes for absolutely free. As I know someone took the effort to make it all happen. If they just sat on their backsides and did nothing except twiddle thier thumbs. Nothing would ever happen and I would none the wiser for it.’

When I first started painting shoes as a lowly apprentice in Paris many years ago. It was merely just a means to get by. To pay for tuition, accommodation and pocket money. During those early days. I thought the most important thing was to be innately gifted with talent.

I would often marvel at the masters of my craft. The remarkable ease in which they would pick up a brush and proceed to work on an expensive bespoke pair of shoes. They showed no signs of nervousness and this was very much reflected in the assertiveness of their brush strokes.

Now that I have managed to acquire the same level of confidence and métier in my shoe painting craft.

I think now — the young man who dedicates himself to a craft would do well to nurture a healthy skepticism about the quality of his work. He would do well to try and to try and to try until it comes out right.

Then he must put this ‘right’ thing on a stool and look at it at different lighting conditions day in and day out till it finally he realises…..it’s not quite right yet.

That is to say the craftsman must train himself to be ruthlessly honest in how he sees his craft – to even throw away anything that is false no matter how much he might love that thing and to start all over again.

Cultivating such an attitude can only develop insight into one’s craft – the burning curiosity to always experiment, to push beyond what one already knows, to mull, and to muse why it is that other shoe artist can do what I am still struggling to do. And if you have just that sort of attitude alone, then I don’t think inborn talent makes much difference to the final outcome.

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‘When it comes to my hobby of painting shoes – it’s always a source of embarrassment for me. As whenever many of my loyal customers (some go back as far as twenty years!) set eyes on my finished work. They all go, Wow!

For some strange and inexplicable reason I never seem to be able to share their joy. It’s always a bitter sweet experience for me – one where I am inclined to remain impassive and silent as if I am estranged from the very thought my work could possibly be anything resembling a work of art.

Many mistake this for humility or quiet confidence. But the real reason and I’ve never confided this to anyone before – is because only I and I alone can see the flaws in my own work. They seem to always stand out as stark reminders that I am not quite there yet.

What my clients have to say concerning the quality of my work is usually a matter of profound indifference to me….as only I and I alone know each stage of the process along with the inescapable truth….it could really be better….if only I did this or that.

In a certain sense this is the lot of the craftsman – usually he’s marooned in his own skull and it’s almost impossible to share his travails with those who seem to only consider his work as a rare object of desire.

Perhaps what I am trying to convey here is an attitude – to really excel one has to be the fiercest critique of one’s work.

Only then can one really make meaningful progress. Never be satisfied….to harbor such an attitude is to experience a thousands deaths.

Some years back ago an old Friend asked me to talk to an aspiring shoe artist. The master was of the opinion his apprentice had potential, but for reason he seemed stuck in the mud – no sooner had I been introduced to the young man. The conversation turn to the topic of how is it that I was able to cultivate such a prestigious list of clients who all without a single exception don’t seem too bothered to engage my services only under the highly unusual terms – I retain the right to full and complete creative discreation.

The young man asked – what is so special about your work that you even have the temerity to insist on such terms?

To which I replied. My work is a thinking thing…it is not dead.

The apprentice asked. What do you mean. To which I replied quite harshly – you are nothing more than a monkey trained to pick coconuts. Naturally he got all hot under the collar. And that was when I pressed home the point by picking up a brush and painting one of shoes in the time it took to empty my bladder – thereafter I threw at him and left but not before I had planted a seed in his head – when was the last time you mulled over what you’re doing?

Thereafter the master (who happens to be a very good friend) of the apprentice confided to me – you have broken the poor boy’s spirit. He doesn’t seem to have the confidence to hold the brush any longer.

To which I told him – no…his work is now a thinking thing that is why it is so difficult for him to hold the brush now…it’s not merely a means to an end. Rather now that notion I have planted in his brain will begin to torment him like a delightful mystery and turn him inside out.

True enough not long thereafter the youth’s work began to acquire a confidence and élan.

You see it’s very simple really – his work had been transformed from a dead thing to a thinking thing that is now breathing with life….it is curious….never satisfied and above always going where no mind dares to go!’

Simplifying life

March 12, 2017

My neighbor wants a buy a new four by four. All day he seems to be just browsing thru brochures of new cars. From time to time he would pop over and ask, is this better than that? What do you think?

I told him only. Do whatever makes you happy.

Later on in the day. He popped over and asked again. Why don’t you buy a new car?

I told him. But it is new. I service it regularly and if you look under the bonnet – it’s maintained like a military jet plane. Every component that needs replacing is regularly changed. But yes, it definitely needs a new coat of paint and there are so many dents it seems to come across as beaten up….but what do I care. It gets the job done.

So why do I want the hassle of buying a new car? After all the nature of our work is rough, dirty and most of time it’s just the man and his land….what is there to show off about? Do you think the monkeys or the hogs really care you’re driving a new car.

Use your mentality. What are you trying to prove?

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‘In life it is not how much you have. Rather it will always be the case of how little your wants really are along with how diligently you care for the things that you already own.

Having said all that it must be very difficult for the average Singaporean to buy into this philosophy. As the moment one steps out into the world, one is almost constantly carpet bombed by countless sights and sounds all of which seem to scream out, ‘Buy me and you can be me!’

To sharpen ever more the sense of yearning and desire to consume more than is necessary – it doesn’t help when those around us seem to do very little else except spend money on stuff to impress people who hardly ever care about what they wear or own.

This I imagine is the paradox of modern society – it is unnatural to want less. It is even peculiar and odd for one to get by with less. And it is certainly sacrilegious to be a person who is simply content to live simple life.

When we ask ourselves how modern man has painted himself into one miserable corner.

It is simply because society has managed to successfully brainwashed him that to own the newest, latest and the best is the clearest expression of what it means to live to a purpose driven life. A corollary of that corrosive logic presupposes anyone who does the direct opposite is simply a loser or someone whose not even participating in the great game of life.

It is only when we are able to deconstruct this lie somewhere in our scripted minds that we are able to see the world as it is and not what others say it is.

Once a man becomes with one of the truth. All forms of illusions disappear along with desires and in its place there is simply understanding for a thing.’