The day a blogger made two ministars look as if they dunno how to run a country

April 29, 2014

Well, that at least is how it comes across to me and those who make up my tiny community.

I am sorry…I am a farmer…I have made a solemn oath to call a spade a spade.

Now lets dive in! Blogger Ravi Philemon has reached out to both sides of the divide in the controversy over the holding of an Independence Day celebratory event at Ngee Ann City on 8 June. If you want to read more, go to The Online Citizen and check out Andrew Loh’s essay entitled “A Singaporean shows the way, when leaders fail.” As it’s very unlikely that Pravda or any of the Potemkin sites in blogoland such as Singaporedaily will ever showcase it.

My feel is Ravi & Co is definitely approaching this impasse in a mature and sensible manner – quiet diplomacy is key. As even if he is not given an opportunity to facilitate some resolution to this impasse, at least he has given the custodians of power some valuable insights as to how to effectively resolve this complicated matter.

Nope! This is definitely not a ‘pure and simple’ matter as some immature bloggers and politicians would like to believe, that’s like calling the Grand Canyon a big sinkhole or Lake Toba a giant puddle – it’s awfully complicated and even comes encrusted with all sorts of emotional baggages and it definitely needs a whole lot of patience, imagination and understanding to come up tops! So it’s not pure and simple lah!

What this impasse absolutely doesn’t need is for petulant folk to shout and call those who they have neither the brains or inclination to understand nasty and hurtful names – if they want to do that, they should be man enough to go start their own enterprises and see whether they can manage change in that ‘pure and simple’ way. Go on. I dare you lah!

Otherwise leave it to the professionals…..better still… sit down before you all fall down like bowling pins lah.


‘This is not the Intifada! So there is absolutely no justification to come down so hard on people. To me, you have to be a bloody fool to roll out the tanks and fix bayonets without first exhausting diplomacy as a means of resolving this impasse.

As all you’re dealing with here are anxious folk who may feel encroached and threatened – and that to me is a perfectly normal reaction – that’s part and parcel of managing change. In my book, if you want to be an agent of change, then the whole idea of managing conflict comes with the territory. If you think it’s pure and simple then to me you have scaled it all wrong. Your risk assessment will never correspond with what’s happening on the ground. It’s unreal!

Even in my case as a lowest of the low in the capacity of a seemingly ‘simple’ farmer – I have to manage change. Let me give you an example. El Nino is coming. And this time round, all the weather scientist are in agreement, its going to be a monster!

So what I have had to do is to throw away the farming Bible and implement a round of experimental farming techniques relating to manuring and managing a plantation that has never been seen around these parts before – it’s a 180 degree turn! It’s back breaking work….and at times, its not unusual for the farmhands to grumble behind by my back and to even call me names. It’s even normal for them to ask of me, why is our work so difficult this season? Why are we doing six times the work we used to do? Why can’t we do it like the way our forefathers did it…it was far easier then? Why are you torturing us farmer?

Sometimes I feel marooned in my own skull. As it’s difficult if not impossible to try to explain something to village folk which they have never experienced before – to these simple people, the seasons are fixed like stars pinned steadfast to the heavens – January to March, they will all till the land. April to March when the rains come, they will sow the seeds and June to August, they will harvest and come september when the monsoon rains come again… whole cycle of life repeats itself again…it’s being this way for mellinia.

Only this time with a monster El Nino looming somewhere like a restless man eating tiger….things will be very different I reckon. I have seen this all before in Africa. I’ve stood on a hill and watched mother nature curl it’s fingers in the way a tiger brandishes it’s claws…watched it turn the land into a dustbowl under a godless sky…watched it for so long till no one even bothers to ask any longer when the rains will come…as no one can remember. So I know what it takes to make it thru to the other side – but it will always be difficult, complicated and at times even frustrating. As I need to get people to buy in to my plan.

….I reckon it takes wisdom to manage change.’

What would be abnormal in my assessment is, if we all did not see this sort of reaction. As even in the ranks of the silent majority there are many who are not fully comfortable with that idea. Don’t believe me, then go and poll it….I dare you lah! So I don’t understand what can possibly be accomplished by name calling and attempting to simplify this whole matter under the guise of ‘pure and simple.’ Tell me which part of it is ‘simple?’ I want to know, bc even as a farmer I find it very difficult and at times even exasperating…as I know what needs to be done, but all around me, all I seem to have is people who believe that the party will go on forever….so please share with me specifically, which part of it is ‘pure’ and even ‘simple.’

IMHO there is nothing ‘simple’ about managing change. It will always be challenging….hard…and difficult. As the goal is to get those who may not share your aspirations on board – you have to win them over. Or at least try your best to do so lah!

So how can that be simple? Sure, you can take Stalin’s attitude and give them ultimatums like either you’re with or against me! Only understand this, should you do that, many will dig their heels in and what will you end up with? As for me, I don’t nearly have that sort of latitude to do that – I just need to KEEP on explaining to them what NEEDS to be done and WHY….and I do this again and again and again. There is no end. That is why it is so complicated and not simple…and since many the issues involves culture, heritage, share values and even race, there is nothing ‘pure’ about – it will always be messy.

So to me it always pays to work towards a Mao and Nixon moment – it is only once you able to work towards this point that you can turn them around so that they can stand with rather than against you.

Otherwise what is the point – as even when you manage to accomplish your goal…you will be standing there all by yourself – there will be no one beside you…and when that happens. You have no one to blame but yourself…as you believed it to be pure and simple when it could only be hard and difficult as it has and will always be – managing change that is.

As for me I hope that I can make it thru this monster el Nino.’

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