Some time back ago. A group of landowners approach me to ask whether I am willing to help them resolve a dispute with an aggrieved landowner. During the meeting one of them suggested that this fellow should be taught a lesson to which many others nodded in agreement. When my suggestion was asked, I merely quipped, yes….in which case you need a hired gun and I am certainly not that sort of man who can offer those services.

I went on to add….if he breaks under the immense pressure….I guess you could all get him to see your version of the truth. Then again if he doesn’t break and by some remarkable feat manages to hold it by the horns and come up on top ….all it that would really do is harden his resolve and he will come after all of you like the battleship Bismarck….his chances of a decisive win is slim…but he will create so much carnage in his wake……all of you will wished you didn’t go down that road.

That was when an elderly landowner turned to me and asked. What do you propose…..to which I replied,

‘None of you need to apologise to him….that is too much…he will get big headed…but you should all at least acknowledge your roles in this affair.

At that point a man stood up and slammed the table and berate me.

After he had finished. A very long pause ensued. And I continued.

As I was saying. You should all acknowledge your respective roles in this affair and tell this man that what once transpired will never happen again.

Will that work? Someone asked.

I went on to add if it doesn’t then go to him and tell it to him a second time….it will never happen again. His grievances have been fully acknowledged.

What after that? Another asked. Only for yet another to ask, what if that is not enough.

Then I will go and see this man and tell him plainly that all attempts to resolve this impasse has been exhausted if he does not stand down….we will all drop the atomic bomb on his head.

But before that you must all acknowledge your respective roles in this affair and take the responsibility.

—————————————————————————

‘I am not a great fan of using the hammer to solve problems. It’s a crude and primitive tool that should only be used when diplomacy has failed. Take the case of Amos Yee – he has now been granted asylum. Yes, he’s still in jail due to bureaucracy. But eventually the system will spit him out as a free spirit and this time round he’s by all accounts a de facto American citizen.

Now if decides to blog all things American which I hope he will dedicate all of himself too – then it’s fine.

But should he continue producing what he produced when he was back in Singapore – then what can the MHA in Singapore do?

Do they have the power to block his material from featuring in YouTube?

I don’t know. Maybe they will block his material with filters – that’s certainly possible just as it’s possible to get around that road block without too much difficulty.

But let’s say the same material that Amos used to generate is produced, then what can be done…..nothing. Except maybe to tell everyone to just ignore him and hope that he languishes in obscurity.

The irony is this exactly what should have been done if they hammer was not used in this first place….Amos Yee would probably be a nobody today and no one would even want to read or hear what he has to write or say about his various objects of interest. So at the end of the day, what was actually accomplished? What’s the pay out? Did it justify the means to the end?

That I shall to entirely to you – the perceptive reader to conclude.

Only it is my belief – the public consciousness can no longer be bubble wrapped against hate, vitriol and divisiveness. Governments may have been able to accomplish this goal keeping role once upon a time. But at the current pace at which technology is evolving – it is altering even set pieces which were once considered timeless and universal such as politics and power and perceptions….at some point, the filters would have to be rolled back to the final gatekeeper that is the man who hears or reads the incendiary message or article.

In the final analysis – that would be the most reliable place to invest in a filter to winnow real from fake news, hate speech from what’s well argued etc etc.

Suddenly the idea of governments running here and there and putting out fires frantically seems very old just like perhaps candles, sail boats and ivory dentures….it’s neither sustainable. Nor smart. Or even wise.

The perverse outcome of the Amos Yee saga may actually be very instructive to how we craft new ways to manage conflict in an age that is so riven by lies, disinformation and hyperbole. This is especially cogent in a society like Singapore that has relied exclusively on very old methods to manage conflict that has hardly changed at all since the colonial days. It’s conceivable the Amos Yee saga will provide the necessary impetus to roll back the onus of belief and responsibility for how one responds to whatever can rub people the wrong way to the recipient rather than the instigator.

I don’t mean to sound cavalier or even callous….but in that respect that’s not such a bad thing. After all in a world that is increasingly amplified by a cacophony of lies, hatred, divisive speech that even threatens to squeeze out completely the real narrative. In a world where twitter vignettes have some how supplanted the value of whole disquisitions. In a world where no one these days can even bear out patiently a well argued case without fidgeting restlessly after two minutes since the digital age has essentially rewired our minds to only resemble the attention span of a house fly….surely the only sustainable way forward is to shift the onus to the individual.’

Handcrafted field Boots

March 30, 2017

About three years back ago. When a group of Japanese shoemakers visited me – one of them asked, whether I would like a bespoke pair of dress shoes. I told them half jokingly, they would be wasted as they really wouldn’t get much mileage. I would much prefer serious work boots that can past off as dress shoes.

Over lunch I started to sketch out the rough outlines of what I believed would be the ideal leather work boot that can even masquerade as a pair of formal dress shoes – the color has to be dark brown. As I never ever wear black for formal shoes – the leather should be full grain single scalp shoulder hide for the toe box and vamp construction extending along two thirds of the length of the shoe right to the shank….very unusual and rarely ever done for a boot.

As I deliberately wanted the clean lines to create a passable dress shoe design. There should be with no visible stitching to facilitate waterproofing except maybe for the welting.

I shared with my friends. One of the problems I frequently encounter is the hassle of having to change from dress to work boots during field inspections.

With this design since the lines of the boot is relatively clean and uncluttered….it could very well just get away looking like a rather chunky pair of dress shoes maybe like Dr Martens – if I let the helm of my trousers cover the lacing.

Only unlike Dr Martens that’s really only good for nothing except ambling around Malls and flat city pavements…these are very serious work boots.

All the stitching should be at least doubled and in certain regions such as the rear erectors even tripled for extra lateral stiffness, durability and waterproofing just like my Tricker’s and the shape of the heel erectors should be dramatically cut in, sloped in such a way where the heel sits snug and is always cradled to prevent heel slip and unnecessary movement – this is jugular in good work boots.

The leather on the rear erectors should be thick saddle grade for maximum stiffness and support for long treks….the lacing and tongue shaft should be slender, super soft, baby lamb skin and constructed without any bulging supplementary lining in the lithe likeness of a neck of a giraffe or woman’s dress boots so that when I let the helm of my trousers drop over them…they don’t catch and everyone notices I am wearing field boots.

Threading should be unusually configured in alpinist fashion with a dress heel appearance – but the threads should have a strong functional emphasis on downhill descents in wet hiking or rocky conditions.

After finishing, I looked at them all expectantly. Some sighed. Others shook their heads as if expressing – it cannot be done…too many design contradictions. Others who were inclined to remain polite remarked, they had no such experience in handcrafting such unorthodox work cum dress boots.

The matter was forgotten…..

Recently I received a package from Japan. Inside was a pair of very handsome dark brown boots – not even so much as a note….a mysterious pair of boots from an anonymous shoe maker.

Judging from the expectional level of detailing, last shape and choice of leathers definitely handcrafted by someone who has a remarkable set of skills in fashioning and constructing formal dress shoes….pretty good first attempt at cross dressing a boot.

Fits like a glove.

Just like James Bond.

Ghost from the past

March 30, 2017

Oh….her name is Maricar Reyes. She’s a philipino actress….that at least is what my Google queen told me. Now all I have to figure out is how did she get into my computer.

When I was younger I used to believe to make the world a better place one has to always stand up and shout one’s message loud and clear like a bell for all to hear…..as I grow older and experience more of nature. I am no longer so sure that was the best way.

It is not easy for one to come to terms with the reality one may be misguided…I think humility and servanthood to the truth.

Through the years I have gathered many truisms from just being in the seclusion of nature. Thru this period of what I can only describe as deep introspection of myself and my sorroundings. I have observed nothing in nature shouts or is so eager to get across that it cannot be left to the next day, week or even approach of the next season…..but strangely the message some how always gets thru.

It is really quite effortless and frequently so subtle and deceptively slow that one does not even register the shift – moss gathering on a stone. An irridescent patina of darkness on a brick wall. Rust gathering on steel. Creepers proliferating the taking over the landscape.

Nature’s way of effecting change always starts deep within the nucleas of all living beings…..These days, I believe the best way to make the world a better place is to change from within and to allow that pure light to emerge from the inside out to the wider and broader world.

———————————————————————————————

‘The only freedom that is worth clinging too jealously is the one that you know deep down in the marrow of your bones and not the variety that others talk about – consider this what sort of freedom might we be talking about if you don’t even have the freedom to arrange your thoughts cooly with a calm temperament and always find yourself getting hot and agitated whenever you are pushed to a corner. No that is not freedom. That is only the illusion of freedom. If anything it is simply a demonstration of the degree to which you are enslaved to your past hurts, prejudices and falsehoods.

Don’t do that….yes I know what you’re doing now even as you begin to chew my sentences with your eyes. You’re building walls. They’re like lego bricks. You’re trying to create a barrier between me and you…a bubble space so that you don’t feel pinched by what I have to share worth you.

Tell me how much freedom does a mind that is so easily pinched really have?

You don’t believe it pinches. OK sex….see it pinches right. You stiffened momentarily. Crossed your legs even. Blinked, yes you did….and we talk about freedom?

Don’t you believe that’s a paradox?

So you believe you are right and all others are wrong – so what does that make you…a free person? But how can you really be free when so much of what makes up your belief is simply an accretion of enslavement to your past hurts and resentments and prejudices?

See how it always comes back to you!

See how the answer is always within and not outside in the external world.

Coming to think of it how is it possible to even have an intelligent discussion concerning whether you are really free when so much of who you continue to be is really just made up of beliefs cobbled from someone else’s life, beliefs and experience?

So do you see now how true freedom can only begin in one’s mind.

It is not merely a cliche. It is indestructible idea – throw a man in jail, but if his mind is free. The bars disappear. Character demolish him lies and half truths, but he is still whole and complete. As he is very much part of the truth. Destroy and rubbish his works, but you can never destroy the freedom he enjoys from his beliefs…as he is truly free.’

Because once you open your heart and mind to hatred….it is as good as opening the doors to hell. And when you do just that, unbeknown to you. You have allowed Amos Yee to transform YOU into another hateful version of himself.

Wish him the best of luck in his new found home. Wish those around him well….if you cannot do this. Then you should just keep a dignified silence.

This is what a grounded, mature and superior person would do.

——————————————————————————————————————

‘Did he escape NS? Of course he did! But please try to see it from my point of view – if you’re coming to age like my sons and have to serve in the uniform services. How would you feel if Amos Yee was beside you armed with a GPMG and a live belt feed in the jungle somewhere in Pulau Tekong? Or let’s say you make the Ranger grade and you’re just about to jump out from a transport and someone tells you Amos Yee packed your chute. Think very carefully.

Now I’ll be very frank with all of you – If let’s say one of my sons turned to me when I visit him in the new BT recruit base, papa Amos Yee is in my Brigade. Do you all want to know what I’ll do – I will smile supremely and say in a calm fatherly tone, that is very intresting please try to get along. After that I will quietly put a big ‘for sale’ sign outside the gate of my veggie patch, give all my dogs away, slowly take down my framed picture of a Honda jet look at it one final time, sigh and say, ‘never mind, in the next life we will be reunited.’ Trek to my bat cave in the jungle, enter the seven digit auto self destruct code and return back home to sign on.

Is that what all of you want to see happen?

Don’t ask me how I will get in lah – that is none of your business. You all know I have my way lah. All you need to know is I will get into that platoon – I will use the weirding ways.

Is that what you all want to see? You all know how hard I’ve worked to get where I am today. I haven’t had a holiday in six years! I work seven days a week. Haven’t even gone back home during that time….as I wanted to set a good example. Now Uncle is forced to go back and sign on for a bone crunching Ranger course…yes I may look young, but believe me I am truly vintage goods and I have do all that just because a few immature fucks in this forum are not happy Amos pulled off the great escape of the century.

You know I thought we all friends? Friends don’t ever sabo one another. They don’t!

Do you see how when one buys into hatred then you are likely to make lousy decisions and worst of all come across as a fool?

This is what happened to MHA – they got themselves into a cat fight with the immigration judge who probably thinks that Singapore is a province in China – and that is only to be expected. Neither is the judge familiar with the historicism and complexity of managing race, religion and sectarian conflict in Singapore either. So essentially you’re dealing with someone with very limited knowledge concerning a subject.

Hence the best thing would be to simply state, ‘we strongly disagree with the basis (ratio decidendi) of your decision making process. Moving forward. Let us agree to disagree. We wish Amos Yee felicity, prosperity and good health. Thank you. Bye Bye.’

You see this is how sane and savvy folk manage themselves and others when it comes to conflict….the problem gets smaller, it never gets bigger – instead those brainiacs got themselves into a sand box cat fight by going off the tangent and giving the judge a brief history of book burning in Singapore along with Grandfather stories and now everyone in the Western Hemisphere thinks the MHA is staffed by dyslexic children. Result – Singapore looks very bad.

Infact many of you who have steam coming out of your ears should be thankful that Amos has decided to jump ship – you should all be so happy for me and grateful that some of you who are wallowing in hate right should even consider organizing a Facebook page to collect winter clothing and donate it to Amos Yee’s surrogate Mother in America, Melissa Chen.

You should write to her and pat her on the back for a job well done along with complimenting her that she would make an excellent astronaut for NASA next manned mission to Mars. Some more better if she can take Amos with her go to Pluto and beyond the solar system lah.’

Not very long ago I was driving with a perpetually complaining friend. When our journey began he complained about how this and that person was back stabbing by spreading negative rumours about his enterprise. Then his negativity turned to how the economy was getting from bad to worse and how it’s so difficult these days to just eek out a living…thru it all I kept quiet.

As to be really frank I just wanted to reach our destination safely without detouring to the morgue.

Then suddenly my complaining Friend turned to me and asked, what do you think?

I simply told him. You have to learn to be kind and gentle to yourself. You know it’s a dry day. Ideal conditions for a long drive and we don’t pass here often…look it’s beautiful country…wondrous even this time of the year.

Just empty your mind and take it all in. Be kind and gentle to yourself.

Thereafter my friend settled down. The tightly knotted furrow he wore at the beginning of the day began to loosen. He set the incline of his seat back and just sank back and in a while…..he was back to his old self. A calm and kindred soul who I used to know and love as my everymore companion thru thick and thin….a true Friend.

————————————————————————–

‘There’s a lot of negativity out there in the world. Hey don’t ask me where it all came from and even why – understand this. There simply is….and what you need to bear in mind is simply this. Whenever some one gossips behind your back or backstabs you with lies or half truths. All they’re doing is casting a magic spell on you.

Now you need to understand this as its jugular!

How that spell acquires the agency of power over your existence depends entirely on whether you choose to ignore it completely or pick it up and make it into a big deal – should you foolishly decide to commit yourself to the latter then at that very moment of inception you have transformed that evil spell into something that has the capacity to take control over your life!

Unbeknown to even you. You have entered an agreement to fulfill a prophecy!

That’s essentially how an evil spell works…it first requires buy in to activate it!

Yes! It’s all in the palm of your hands….you did it all man! Don’t look at me! I’ve got no art or part in this. Can’t you see I have both hands on my playstation. None whatsoever. You put one and one together to make it into two.

You did it!

The way I see it we all have bad habits that just needs constant pruning from our lives. Sometimes if we don’t prune diligently and let it all take it’s natural course it can grow so big and overwhelm us completely causing a lot of grief.

We are our own worst enemy. Often we cling to our own set of beliefs to fashion ever more inventive ways to explain why we aren’t as successful as the next guy because…we fucked up our PLSE…landed up in a Neighbourhood school Yada yada yada yada and so on and so forth. Hence we subconsciously reinforce our failure and beat the shit out of ourselves, to put it another way, we weave evil spells against ourselves every other day that “we’re not good enough” and “it’s our fault”. We can’t ever make the grade as there’s no level playing field etc etc etc.

It is only when we fully appreciate this vicious cycle of self flagellation are we able to see the wisdom of setting aside evil spells and instead weave positive spells with white magic to live a purpose driven life.

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 who granted Amos asylum. The 13 page judgement can only be politely described as damming…highly embarrassing….impossible to live down. Now the MHA have all their chops scattered on the floor like tic tacs…..Just watching all this is very painful.

At one level of understanding. It could be said the PAP had it coming – their unsavoury history of unmitigated heavy handedness in dealing with dissenting voices with 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.

However it’s worthwhile stressing, master Amos was certainly not an easy case to handle – he certainly did push 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.

That part I will leave entirely to the perceptive reader to asses and form their own judgement.

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

For one they could have ignored him and just let Amos languish in obscurity for perpetuity in the vast infinity of blogoland. But instead they decided to plumb for a dogmatic by the book approach that ultimately made them look inept, stupid and ill prepared with an old hat ‘nail that sticks out will be hammered down’ mindset to prosper in the digital age.

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

That I fully appreciate may well be touted as the ‘we know what we are doing…you are wrong…we are always right’ Singapore way. But even the custodians of power would do well not to brush this incident off casually. As since no man or country can hardly be an island to itself these days and has to abide or pretend to do so by adhering to collecitve social and ethical norms if they want to be well received by the international community….it’s definitely a topic that warrants further introspection to improve how race, religious and sectarian conflict can be best managed in the future in blogoland.

But again it bears repeating only because it was cogent, real and very central to everything done and said – master Amos antics 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 happy outcome there – this way hopefully, he would hopefully be able to find his line in life and lead a wiser existence and grow old without dying a premature death in what seemingly appears to be greener pastures.

Despite Amos potty mouth. I am reminded statutorily he is still technically a minor. And since I do subscribe to the belief minors should be treated with a guiding hand rather than with force of arms like adults. Again there was certainly room for improvements.

I do wish him and his family the best of luck….I hope this is the end and we can all pack our bags and go home….or maybe it’s just the beginning.

Who really knows…..it’s after all Amos Yee.

————————————————————————————————————–

‘There are many things going for Amos. For one he’s very young. And with young people who are green around the gills, it’s almost impossible for one to be hard and not give them a second chance.

For some curious reason Amos also speaks with a 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 contrary to what some people believe – unless you’re able to convince me courting infanticide or ball eye is some remarkable life skill that requires extraordinary métier.

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 nor any wild man can possibly 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 mundane business of dedicating himself to the study of a craft or skill that will enable people to vote for him with their wallets.

I see this as the only way for long term sustainable personal emancipation and true liberty.

That’s problematic as while he’s certainly a novelty in Singapore that attracts a lot of eyeballs. The same social and cultural conditions do not nearly exist in the US. As even par excellence open minded attention seekers such as (so open minded it seems his brains are spilling out) Alvin Tan rudely eventually discovered – he’s just another ordinary Joe in the US…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 about him in his new found land – as that’s essentially the economy of demand and supply of weirdness and novelty 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 be hit by an awful moment of epiphany where one may even exclaim – OMG! There are actually so many people like me over here! My individuality is being threatened!

I am just like everyone else!

I guess that compelling sense of awareness that one isn’t so different after all from the rest of all humanity must have dawned once dawned on even the likes of Alvin who once reckoned he was so far out romping on the deep end…….it must be awfully difficult to get over the ego rush to suddenly realise one is just downright ordinary and possibly even boring to be unforgettable in such a colourful and culturally diverse country like the US.

When that awful realisation eventually sinks in. Then the nuts and bolts 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’s when really mundane stuff acquires a heightened terror. Daily mundane stuff – like how to pay the landlord on time, hold down a nine to five job, stock up on groceries on a weekend, keeping warm during winter. Car maintenance. And just having enough to live without feeling hungry and depressed.

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 life game plan that requires aptitude, strategy and cool headedness that these characters don’t nearly have in my very humble opinion….not yet at least.

I am merely talking about the basic a,b and c’s here in strictly lower case. You can’t fool me as I’ve worked my way thru university in first world countries – I know how the system is hardwired from within besides just taking faith in appearances and what everyone whose never ever gone down that road claims it is. There’s going to be discrimination and plenty of it for an Asian. 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 certainly the land of the fee – that’s the first lesson of reality: as to be poor in the US is simply to be without rights in any shape or form. 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 will 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 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 strongly encourage you all write in to Honda jet in North Carolina to request for further information on their excellent range of products and if possible hypnotize yourself every morning and night for at least twenty minutes as you peruse thru their brochure.

Every brochure comes with an open invitation to try out their simulator in North Carolina. Many of us have gone there….so many doesn’t matter whether you’re just a cookie cutter in Silicon Valley or mining phosphates in S.America.

As I have so structured it to be part of your must die die visit in the lost art of manliness.

Many have been blown away!

Just go thru the entire sequence of the dreamscape. I will walk you thru. 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 (fastest start up. No need for core temp to stabilise or feather the choke and air mix with a WW2 era lever like a Cessna or Beachcraft…taxi to take off by electronic steer by wire. No need to throttle the manifold intake and chug down like tractor like a lumbering 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. Notice no vibration. Not even so much as a whimper. As the engines are located not on the fuselage but on the aft wings….only the Honda jet has this unique feature – soon 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 with their WIFI internet sat connectivity (that comes optional with the DD204 package). Check out AINtv…it’s all there…even comes with a tastefully designed lavatory. Not like those Cessna’s where you have to learn 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.

—————————————————————————

‘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…..

—————————————————————————-


‘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.

————————————————————————–

‘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.

———————————————————–

‘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.

————————————————————-


‘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.