May 31, 2014
Some people. Not all. But there’s certainly no denying ‘some’ people should never be trusted to manage large sums of money. As they lack wisdom and can easily be swayed by the many temptations that wealth brings with it. Instead of them managing money. Money is likely to go right up to their head faster than alcohol and usually it exerts such a strong influence over them, it turns their lives upside down and when they’re in this delusional gyre – they will just blow their largesse on women, horses and meaningless distractions…till they end up with nothing.
‘The story of the trials and tribulations of Odysseus is a theme that has always resonated with me – I do identify with the epic travails of the main protagonist…or maybe it’s just my conceited way of amplifying the challenges I regularly have to face as a farmer.
But I do make it a point to keep a copy by my camp bed table whenever I am out in the field….as very often whenever things don’t go my way or I encounter roadblocks…I find that it’s a source of comfort as it can always be relied on to put many of my problems in the right scale and context.
Many people would probably say the classics is boring and the stuff of toffee nosed privileged boarding school upbringing. I disagree, as when one strips the Iliad right down to it’s chassis…it’s really just another pulp fiction action cum adventure comic book – the prototypal Starwars minus the CGI. Nonetheless, the sort where the pace and the action just never let up’s and keeps the reader riveted.
There are a few notable action scenes in the Iliad. The face off with the mythical club weilding Cyclops. Thereafter the deadly brush with a troupe of Sirens which the main protagonist just manages to escape from…and how can one forget the close shave of Scylla and Charybdis. But the scene that sent shivers down my spine isn’t any of this – not even the action finale where where Odysseus returns to find his house overrun by parvenu suitors who had taken up camp in his household to bully his wife Penelope into marriage to which he responds no less by wasting all of them Al Pacino ‘scarface’ style.
The scene that terrifies me most is when Odysseus finds himself trapped on an placid paradise island by the nymph Calypso. Calypso’s secret weapon comes in the form of seduction, not brute force. The goddess sex appeal kept Odysseus and his men literally in a narcotic stupor where they lived a life of dissipation as their resolve to continue their journey home slowly corroded away.
To me this is Homer’s way of saying beware of good thing…as too much of it can really be as good as poison….very recently I won an air conditioner in a beer raffle in the village kopitiam. I took a long look at this contraption of La Dolce Vita and all I could see was Calypso….in one of her many forms…in this case she lurked somewhere in a Japanese inverter controlled one and half horse power air conditioner….I remember saying to myself…how nice it is to be able to sleep without pesky mosquitoes and creepy crawlies…but as soon as that thought took hold the terrifying image of a spend Odysseus and his listless men lying around shook me out of my reveries. So I donated it to the nearby Kun Yin temple for one of their new libraries.
As since I have to regularly sleep in the field. How can I continue to do so when my body and mind is so accustomed to a restful sleep only in the artificially created ambient of twenty four degrees Celsius! Or maybe I just don’t trust myself enough. Yes, perhaps I don’t trust myself….that may well be something that I rather choose to hide from the world….but my gut feel tells me…sometimes it’s best to mistrust oneself slightly and if possible to even say to oneself from time to time…. maybe this ‘good’ thing may not be so good for me after all. To me there is no shame in a man admitting to himself that he may have a weakness in character and preferring not to open Pandora’s box….it is wisdom….the wisdom the Iliad imparts to the perceptive reader. ‘
Politics is simply a means to an end. That’s the long and short of it. Anyone who tells you it’s more than this is probably trying to make a mountain out of an anthill.
Hence the litmus test of whether the political process is constructive, neutral or destructive can never be really answered by Parliamentarians – trying to do this is not so different from asking Dracula whether he believes he has the right stuff to be the CEO of the National Blood Bank (You know why he’s called the count right. Bc even when he runs into the red…he will cook the books to come out smelling like blue roses.)
Whether a political process is constructive or destructive can only be answered by the ordinary man in the street – and it would hinge on the following: has his lot has improved in the last five years? How confident is he about the future? Does he plan to raise a family?
If the answer is yes. Then even if the political process is widely termed as ‘destructive,’ it has to be ‘constructive.’ As since the political process makes it possible for real benefits to percolate right down to Ah Kau, Muthu and Ahmad….to improve their lives, that’s really when politics come full circle and delivers.
But if the answer is No! And the average man in the street complains no end that it’s increasingly difficult to turn the wheel of life despite putting in eight hours of his best and he still finds it hard, if not impossible to make ends met and all that life seems to him from now onwards is an ever decreasing circle and he and wifey don’t even have the confidence to start a family as since they can’t even take care of themselves….what’s the point bringing in another life into this planet…just to nourish human suffering…then what bloody use is it, even if the political process in that regime is rated as constructive?
In which case constructive politics might as well just mean destructive….very simple.
May 28, 2014
To live meaningfully. We humans need to have faith in the meaning of words. But what happens when words cease to carry with them real meaning any longer? For instance, if nation ‘building’ press means that a newspaper can have card blanche to embellish, exaggerate, selectively report or chose not to do so along with outright deceive, bend the truth and mislead the general reading public – then to me, it can only be rightly termed the nation destroying and not building press.
Similarly, if constructive politics means ‘do not criticise too much…do not rock the boat…and do not make me look bad all the time!’ Then its really as good as drinking herbicide to get a fairer complexion….Dowanlah!
And if ‘talent,’ used in the context of foreign workers means someone who is prepared to accept a lower pay to do a job that a native cannot possibly accept as he has higher financial commitments by virtue of living in the worlds most expensive city – then where might the ‘talent’ reside in this foreign talent? In which case might as well just say, someone who is prepared to accept a lower salary and skip the whole talent argument.
I wonder wouldn’t it far better to just call a spade a spade by using the right words or sentences to describe a thing for what it really is. As opposed to trying to use the politically correct words to call a circle a square…the color black…white or hell…heaven.
If this goes on for any longer, then words will cease to have meaning and when that happens then all there’s left is hopelessness….But I sure some may disagree and even call that faith.
‘Words need to be constantly nourished with consistent deeds and thoughts for them to retain their intrinsic meaning – they are not so different from plants…they need to be regularly watered and tended… if words don’t receive the proper nourishment – then they will die and eventually they will even give way to very different meanings.
The word ‘gay’ for example used to denote a happy and care free state of mind. Today if someone calls a man gay. It means he likes to fuck other mens backside. Even the word ‘homosexual’ today is considered politically incorrect. As since it comes across as too clinical, it suggest homosexuality is some character flaw like perpetual masturbation. So gay is the socially acceptable parlance these days – what we are witnessing here is the death of a word along with whole disquisitions of schools of thought.
There is nothing complicated about this. Words along with the meaning they carry can die. You don’t need a Phd in linguistics to understand how a word can die very much like a tree shriveling up till it’s nothing more than a lifeless stump. You just need to sit down and think about it.
For example, if someone says they love you and that person seems so faraway spiritually and emotionally that he or she and you might as well be the two furtherest points in the whole universe – then how is it possible for this idea of love to exist in this relationship? Even if you only have one call to make in this world, but all you get is a machine talking back, no time and please don’t call, I’ve call you – then how is the whole idea of love supposed to grow?
And even if there used to be love in that relationship, that love will still die if it’s neglected. It will die! Because love is like a potted plant on a window sill, if it is not nourished with care, affection and feeling, then it can only give way to ambivalence and die…it really very simple. Nothing complicated there.
By the same token when leaders say one thing and they do and believe in the opposite – then it’s really only a matter of time before the serious men of this world will treat them like used car salesmen and when that end point is reached, it would hardly matter if they have something meaningful to say….their words become meaningless……the same goes for a relationship with a man and woman – it doesn’t matter what vows they once took or even the trials and tribulations they once went thru together or how bonded they were once upon a time as two human beings – if that bond is not nourished….it will die and all these wonderful things will just be washed away leaving two strangers.
That is why I believe it’s vitally important for a man to learn this at a young age if he’s genuinely serious about wanting keep the things he loves in his life. Otherwise he will find that he will end up losing many things as he goes thru the journey of life – and when you look at the lives of some people, that is how their entire life looks like, it is a series of broken relationships….one after another…..they never ever stay long enough to get thru the first base….it’s easy come and easy go!
Only understand this! Some things in life will always be precious. And if you lose it. You have to live with the idea that you may never discover that thing back again. It’s gone, like losing your legs in an amputation…it’s gone.
That’s why for me. I treat words seriously. If I say, something. I mean it. Otherwise I dont say it.
As I have discovered this is the only way for a man to dedicate himself to serious enterprises and to gain the arcanum to be regarded as a serious man. Otherwise he will find whenever he opens his mouth, no one bothers to listen to him and you cannot blame them…as who in their right mind takes an inconsequential seriously, words are really just words to this lightweight, very much like grunts an animal would make for whatever reason…’
How should I put this across? Let’s imagine I create perfect conditions for others to speculate and fill in the blanks galore on a subject. Let us even say, I create a vacuum of information that makes it possible for charlatans, hucksters and comedians to step right in and say anything they want on this subject – as since the narrative is hardly clear and remains as unambiguous as clam chowder and comes encrusted with so many darkened interiors and lacunaes and it’s really a hall of mirrors where even the most outlandish theory can just as well stand and even hold water.
Whose fault is it really if someone decides to say something that is so incredulous that it may even garner a cachet of adherents who may well treat it as the truth and nothing but the truth?
Really who is to blame?
‘The subject of CPF these days is not so different from the tormenting mystery of MH370. It’s straight out of the X files. As there are so many vantages to see this subject from and it’s so incredibly multi layered with so many levels of mind bending complexity that it’s really horses for courses.
At the end of the day one can even derive at ANY conclusion and it can just as well stand quite well – but the question one would do well to ask at this juncture is – how did an apparent straight forward subject become such a black hole of endless speculation and conjecture?
Why does endless speculation and conjecture persist despite the official line? What accounts for the sense of dissonance, askance and disbelief? Is this feeling of not being able to get a handle on the matter justified?
In my opinion it may have something to do with the inexplicable ambivalence of the custodian of powers to supply a convincing answer. Every time the subject comes up, it’s either elided, dealt with in a piece meal fashion or simply whisked away.
To me the question is not whether Mini Lee is justified to do what he did. That is his prerogative. The pertinent question on the table remains: did he manage to allay much of the public concerns and anxieties associated with how the CPF is managed by threatening to sue the shit out of Roy?
Because if he is under the misconception threatening to sue can somehow beacon out the murk – then what he would need to contend with is the theoretical possibility. All he has really accomplished from all this great diffusion of energy is to deepen this CPF mystery and drive the entire narrative underground and since there exist so many contradictions and empty spaces in the narrative….rumors can only proliferate with vigor.
Let me give you a simple illustration of what I mean. When I first showed up in the kampung many years ago to turn the wheel of life. There was this chicken breeder in the village who didn’t like me very much – now, when people don’t like me. I never take it personally. As experience informs me, in life, that’s how it is at times. Contrary to popular belief, you don’t need to rub someone the wrong way for them to take pot shots at you. Some people just have an axe to grind, if it’s not me, it could just as well be you…they’re just generally angry and unhappy with life and they need to take out it out on someone.
But this fellow went too far. He would go around the village and spread vile rumors that I am a homosexual. That’s because no one has seen my wife before and since I live alone on a secluded hill deep in my lands. This rumor took hold and in all honesty I was partly to blame as I create perfect conditions for this sort of rumors to spread throughout the grapevine.
Things got so bad that the village homo. A Tamil lorry driver who calls himself or herself ‘Devi’ even paid me a visit in a sari one night. Can you imagine. A homo with a beer belly and handle bar moustache complete with stubble asking me out for a date. Even my Doberman guard dogs when they saw this went huh! WTF! They were so shocked. They couldn’t shit for a whole week!
So I knew something drastic had to be done. I had to set the record right! One day when the chicken breeder went out of town. I paid a visit to his MILF wife and teen daughter in my tightest trousers – I brought them a big lap cheong (chinese salami) amongst other things that usually brings a big smile to girls and we spend the best part of the evening exploring different ways of home entertainment since they didn’t have cable TV.
When the character assassin came back and discovered that I had raided the chicken coop. He went down to the kopitiam and called me a skirt chasing philanderer who all the girls in the village would do well to guard their chastity against.
Naturally one of the farmers asked, ‘which one is he now…a homosexual or a skirt chaser.’ That was the end of him lah. His credibility plummeted right down to zero!
That gentlemen this is why I will always rue the passing of the age of dueling – it is can be no coincidence that polite and civilized society more or less disappeared just around the time when dueling fell into disrepute. Someone should really consider reviving dueling as a means of conflict resolution – as I believe very strongly it will certainly improve manners immeasurably along with hold a man responsible for his words and actions – as it is these days, it’s a free for all, one it seems is free to say and do anything like a urinating animal.’
May 22, 2014
My bird house is very successful. In just a short span of time. Less than a year and a half. I have been able to attract a respectable number of birds which busy themselves building nest which I harvest and sell.
Normally this will not be a problem.
But when one considers my bird house is the only one in the whole precinct that has been able to attract birds in such a short period of time, while the rest in my neighborhood continue to languish. As they all seem to be able to be only able to attract owls and bats…and no birds. Then it is a problem.
As unlike palm oil where I can very easily downplay my stellar harvest by being modest to manage perception and emotions. In the case of my bird house it’s all too clear for all to see and draw their conclusions – all they have to do is squat along the main road and watch the number of swiftlets flying in and out my bird house and being kampung folk they will eventually ask – how is it possible that a man who once hailed from a city can do better than us! We have been doing this all our lives! This is our home ground. He is an outsider! How is this possible!
Given enough time. Some may even speculate….given enough open bottles of tiger beer in the village kopitiam some may even choose to speculate: what sort of magic might the Devil be using…yes, magic will always be a very big part of kampung life. As over here, no one can possibly believe life simply turns on the caprice of fate and fortune. This has nothing to do with the pursuit of the truth. As if there is any truth here it is simply this – most people are simply too uncomfortable with the reality that success or failure may turn on the vagaries of fortune. To the vast majority of kampung folk whenever misfortune befalls them….it is always attributable to the work of malevolent spirits…mystery is furiously at work undermining their wealth and opportunities.
Soon I expect many who cannot tahan their jealousy will begin to sabotage me. They may poison my water supply. Call me paranoid. But I have long made plans to counter such moves by building my own water reservoir – once these holding tanks are filled. I will have enough water to last me a full year!
But that is not the end of it – as when these ignorant fucks poison my water and they see that my birds do not seem to be affected. Again they will chant, ‘see the Devil has can even turn poison into sweet waters…this is proof that the Devil is in our midst.’ Thereafter the kampung legend of the Devil will just right on like a B grade Bollywood movie.
The story of my life lah!
‘When one is doing well. One must always be mindful that others may not be as lucky as you to share this good fortune. So it is always important for one not to flaunt one’s wealth and if possible even downplay one’s success with lashings of modesty.
This is especially important in the kampung. As no where else in the whole wide world is the divide between the have’s and have’s not at it’s starkest. Some people may say since these divisions of class are such an entrenched feature of plantation life – it would hardly matter at all.
But when one considers in a digitally connected world where even simple kampung folk have access to that great window of the world – the internet. Then the dangers associated with divisions of the class can only be heightened and sharpened considerably – as one of the cruelest aspects of living in a globalized world is while much can be said about the ease at which information is imported and exported – it is also closer to perdition than salvation – as while everyone these days has access to the information highway and can see how the rich and well off live, work and play…the paradox of a globalized world does not offer any gainful means for the poor to practically actualize their dreams. As when we ask ourselves – why are the poor…poor? It is simply because they simply have nothing to offer which people are willing to vote with their wallets – this is the cruelest aspects of the globalization calculus that it is akin to creating a fish bowl society where in one world – you have people who seem to have everything that money can buy and on the other spectrum. All you have is a whole lot of people who are simply looking in from the outside while they make do the best they can.
This is why in my opinion never before in the history of mankind has it been a matter of such great urgency for the rich and influential to craft a code of conduct as to how they should live their lifes and go about their daily business – either that or just by the mere act of living and breathing the rich and influential run the risk of inflicting misery on the underclass – whatever the final shape and form of this new code of conduct might be – I have no doubt that it would have to include a sort of veneration for the simple way of life, the sort of no nonsense existence that is scrubbed clean of all glints of opulence, affectation and ostentatious display of wealth. One that definitely requires one to eschew from the allure of the material world.
I do not imagine this to be easy at all. Let me share with you all why. Not very long ago I had to travel out station. I spent a night sleeping in an air conditioned room in a soft spring mattress – I must say it was indeed a delightful experience – intact, the most satisfying sleep I had ever experienced for so long a time. As when one compares this to the harsh realities of field living, it’s really heavenly…the problem is when I returned back to the field, I found my camp bed impossibly narrow and unyielding…as for sleep…it didn’t come so easily to me…and that perhaps sums up how it is so easy for a man to be seduced by the good life – it is a solvent of the soul…a narcotic like opium….and it is poison!’
May 20, 2014
Not long after she was born. I called her Ping Piang. As you don’t really need to look very hard for her. All that you need to do is follow your ears. As since Ping Piang likes to play with the many stainless steel dogs bowls – she’s always to be found where Ping Piang noises are made.
Last night at three. Ping Piang was found in a pool of blood just outside the gates. From the looks of it, she fought with three monitor lizards. Killed two, but the odds were stacked against her…the last one must have killed her – this morning at 5.20 am Ping Piang succumbed to her injuries and died.
Ping Piang was six months, two weeks and three days old. I will miss her terribly….as the house now is so quiet. I never knew noise could sound so beautiful…Ping Piang. I buried her with her favorite toy…a rattler.
When one of my dogs die in this way. It always makes me very sad. As I live smack in the middle of nowhere deep in a jungle where my nearest neighbors are miles away…..my dogs, they are much more than just casual pets…we are a family.
Travel well Ping Piang
May 19, 2014
I’ve never read a single essay this blogger has written – sumpah! Can’t even pronounce his name. Don’t even where or how to curl my tongue to make the words into a sound. Don’t even know anyone who knows how to do it either. But now this blogger is famous. So famous that tomorrow morning the only village Bak Kut Teh shop will be packed with so many people who will be going thru what Mr unpronounceable name wrote in his blog concerning their CPF monies.
From now onwards. I will definitely be reading what this blogger writes! I suspect many who previously did not know of his existence would probably do the same as well – he even manages to make MrBrown look like a has been.
May 18, 2014
Farmers by nature like to give things a gender. It’s a way of getting a handle on things I reckon.
A tractor for example is always referred to in the masculine, unless of course it has oversized headlights, then it’s natural for everyone to give it a feminine tag. Cows are always referred too in the feminine even when they happen to be males, unless of course they have a habit of wandering around all by themselves. As for the sea, she is always a woman. As since the moon affects her and so when she kicks up a storm from time to time – no one really curses her, as that’s really her nature. She is a capricious. It could be said, in the known universe of the farmer, there is no such thing as a metrosexual or homosexual, that is a concept that cannot possibly exist…as things either fall into male or female and that’s it – the rains that usually come in mid March and last till April is always referred to as ‘she’ and ‘her.’ As the since March monsoon is comparatively milder when compared to it’s other fiercer male counterpart, the Oct Monsoon….it’s almost natural for all to refer to these rains as ‘she’ or ‘her.’
During these times just when the rains begin to wane and bow out to another season – it’s not uncommon for me to feel melancholy. I am fond of the rains in Mid March as unlike the Oct monsoon that has a habit of slipping away like a thief in the night without even so much of a goodbye – the April rains usually end with a characteristic siaow Charbor bang! It’s as if she wants everyone to know, she going off – and so just before the rains come to abrupt end….there is usually a couple of days of heavy deluge and plenty of thunderstorm…then true to the form of a prima donna par excellence…the curtain will come right down.
Farewell my concubine….see you again next year.
‘Ships, like and I imagine vases, generally symbolise femininity because they are all vessels. I guess that could be why a woman’s essence is referred to as a box or drawers – they’re all supposed to contain stuff like the notion of the womb, supposedly that’s a woman’s defining characteristic, the strength lies in their ability to contain….to even provide an immersive experience where one is transported and cocooned in an alternate reality..it is this aspect of womanhood that is most powerful and definitely most attractive to a man.
But you have to understand all this is occurring at a subliminal and primal level where most men are not even conscious of it – but be in no doubt, mystery is furiously at work. That is why my enemies regularly deploy women as spies to undermine me – and that is why I must be conscious of this chapter of the art of war – as since all men are really only fixated on projecting the flipside of the vessel and only seem to be really only interested in earnestly assuming jutting form of the phallus which are traditionally embodied in spires, mountains, pyramids, towers, skyscrapers and gravity defying structures – they all lack the essential ability to contain – that to me is a form of weakness – as hardness to a certain point can only be brittle – so to me, a man even one who comes across as macho, decisive and manly is the direct opposite of a container or vessel – he is intrisincally weak and really just like King Kong. Do you know what did in that monkey – a woman! A peacock with bright and showy feathers, who struts around with his chest pouting out that in essence is what the art of manliness is all about – I am not saying that’s not important for a man – it is, and it’s certainly especially pertinent in an age when the boundaries of gender and sexuality is increasingly blurred – only to me, this whole idea of manliness, if it’s not complimented with softness and even feminine attributes can really only amount to a showy personification of power, it is not real power – it is simply the seamless illusion of power. As real power is something that can completely overwhelm all your senses and even immerse you in a total experience…and only a vessel…womb…container can accomplish this…that is why women will always be stronger than men in so many ways. As while we men like nothing better than to nurse the belief, they are inferior creatures, women can very well do without a man…the same however cannot be said about men. Having said that, it doesn’t discount the fact, we have certainly managed to convince the world and ourselves that it’s possible for men to do without women. Do you see how conceited the thinking man is – he is really his worst enemy….that is why to me….it is so important for men to cultivate daily softness and to even cultivate an interest in womanly things like flower arrangement, music, poetry etc etc. I think a man who does not take all these things seriously can very easily end up being a sort of jungle man…a King Kong of sorts…and to be that is to be weak….very weak.’
May 17, 2014
I’ve done what needs to be done to prepare for El Nino. Now all there is to do….. is to wait….to wait patiently…to wait quietly…and to wait calmly….to wait and savor the moment just before the great battle begins…to wait calmly for the first shot to rent out…to wait quietly even when the first cries of mama rings out….to wait for what must and will come…..El Nino….my nemesis…that which will split me in half like firewood…all there is to do now…is to wait…to wait for what must come to past.
“I must not fear.
Fear is the mind-killer.
Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration.
I will face my fear.
I will permit it to pass over me and through me.
And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path.
Where the fear has gone there will be nothing….only I will remain”
From the Litany of the Purple Bible of the Brotherhood.
El Nino does not necessary mean the end of the good times. Not at all.
Will the temperature rise dramatically? Yes of course, it will be hotter I expect. We might even get only half the rainfall for the rest of 2014 and for the whole of 2015. Will yield drop? Of course….but El Nino is certainly not an unknown quantity. Not at all!
The world has witnessed this weather phenomenon before…and there already exist many proven ways to augment the shortage of rain along with rise in temperature to still deliver a respectable yield. Added to this the general drop in palm oil yield through out the Indonesian and Malaysia archipelago will see the price of crude palm rising as much as 25% to possibly 50% of it’s current value – the global demand for palm oil is after all insatiable.
So as you can see there is plenty of opportunity even amid the prevailing mood of doom and gloom. As the adage goes, when the shit hits the fan….this may be bad for most people except perhaps those who sell cleaning products and mops.
It’s best to get into the cleaning business I reckon….
‘To me when governments decide to opt for a terminally indifferent attitude towards the plight of their citizens – then it cannot be so different from falling out of love…and to my mind, that cannot be so different from a relationship that suddenly finds itself evacuated of all love and affection.
You will know when there is no longer any love as the other side doesn’t even bother to pick up your calls. They’re always busy. You can even call one million times, but all you will get is a robot voice on the other side along with feel frustrated and angry…as it is not so different from shouting at a wall and expecting a reply – that is because the other side just doesn’t care enough to love you any longer….their priorities have changed…they have made a decision – you are now expandable, like a piece of used tissue paper and they have probably made a decision to end the relationship by commiting themselves not to care any longer.. that is the long and short of it. In the beginning – you may ask yourself – what happened? What did I do wrong? Could I have done anything differently?
But at some point even the most optimistic man must face reality and say to himself – it is…what it is….and simply move on. This takes courage, fortitude and character. Either that or this man could elect to stay where he is and just curl up and die. Unfortunately many men do this – they beat themselves up by wallowing in self pity and soon they take to the bottle and since all they seem to be able to do is to adopt a militant refusal to accept the situation for what it is and move on…many just die tiny slices of death everyday till all of life seeps right out of them leaving perhaps only a hollow shell of a man. This is how a man can unravel into nothingness and it can happen to even the very best of us!
My point is – IT DOES NOT HAVE TO BE LIKE THIS! There is another way!
But should you decide to move on with the whole business of life – then you should be hopeful….hopeful that you will find someone who really cares enough about you to pick up your calls….hopeful that you may even be able to discover someone out there who loves you as much as you love them….hopeful that it will all work out right and be even better than how it turned out the last time….and that is really what life is all about.
One set back…one storm….one fall doesn’t have to mean the end of everything – not at all – I don’t doubt, at first it may look and even feel like a crisis….but as you sit back and watch it long enough with a cool head. You will see it for what it is….opportunity!….the metaphor is really like the looming El Nino, it may look mucho scary and it may even mean many people will be driven out of business….but when one sits down and look at this whole business with a cool head, then opportunity will surface like gold dust when muddied water has settled….as plenty of people will get rich from El Nino.. don’t tell me that can’t happen, because if crude palm oil is trading at $700 per ton due to acute scarcity of crops brought forth by freak weather, then it doesn’t take a genius to figure out, the man who can still deliver the crops when others can’t stands to conquer El Derado….to me it’s just like going to the Ukraine now to start an enterprise when every travel advisory recommends you not to do so – as while it may appear dangerous, there will always be plenty of opportunities in a crisis….as when everything is up in the air, then you can just as well make it all up as you go along – to me a crisis is never the end! It’s just the beginning…. like what has happened to Cherian George. He may not know this right now. But five or ten years from now, he’s going to return home to Singapore and wonder to himself why all that the people who once cast him into the wilderness can only seem to come up with is a hilarious video where everyone is impersonating R2D2.
Do you realize, I don’t even do this…cannot afford too…and my videos only go out to just less than a handful of key people. So just because a couple of brain damaged idiots say, ‘Jia You!’ Doesn’t alter the reality, these folk will just be where they are today, tomorrow and probably in the next ten or twenty years…good luck to them lah! is all I have to say! That is why when you face a crisis, NEVER allow it to overwhelm you! Don’t be afraid…as sometimes the things that you cannot change will end up changing you…that’s the take away from all this – that is why you have to be hopeful and learn to walk away without ever once looking back at the pains and disappointments of your past life….better still forget it…that chapter is over and done with…it’s history.
Like I have always said, you cannot but feel pain at times when things don’t go the way you planned it to go…that’s given…even for me…but suffering will always optional….always…because you are hopeful!’
I have done everything that needs to be done. I am dead tired as I have spent the last two weeks in the field and now all I just want to do is put my head on a dry pillow and dream about fat larks in sweet repose.
That’s all I want to do.
“………..La vida se metió por medio —dos años en el ejército, trabajo, matrimonio, responsabilidades familiares, necesidad de ganar cada vez más dinero, toda esa cagada que nos deja empantanados cuando no tenemos los cojones de luchar por lo que queremos—, pero nunca perdí el interés por los libros.”
May 14, 2014
Once upon a time there lived the world’s most insecure and petty landowner. This arrogant chap liked to boast to whoever cared to listen that he ran the best plantation in the whole district. Whenever anyone challenged or disputed his claim, the arrogant landowner would get his lackeys to fix them nice and prer by driving them out of town.
Soon the arrogant landowner was surrounded only by yes men who were only interested in lining their pockets – these parvenus were more than happy to feed the arrogant landowner only happy lies and they even went as far as to embellish the facts and figures to make the plantation look like the best managed plantation in the world.
In reality the plantation was a mess – the farmhands were close to rebelling due to gross neglect. Moral was low and cynicism had taken hold of the community – and since many of the capable men who knew how to farm had been forced to leave the district, only the foolish were in charge and they ran the plantation to the ground.
One day a farmer who had once been driven out of the district for daring to speak out against the foolish ways of the arrogant landowner returned back to the kampung. At first he ran a small plantation, but since this man was forced to cross the infinity of the great seas and had planted in all sorts of crops, he brought with him uncommon wisdom that could only lead him to prosper and grow from strength to strength. And with the passing of every season as the arrogant landowner lost more money, support, influence and lands – the wise farmers influence grew and his estate enlarged, till one day the arrogant landowner simply disappeared like a piece of shit left to sun….poof!
‘There is a mythical line that all serious men know of…it is an unspoken rule…the question is whether you know of it or not…that is all…and it is the principle of fair play and sportsmanship…that is to say if you want to fix a man, then give him the benefit of a level playing field. As even should you fix him right and proper in this way, your peers will never think less of you. They may not necessarily agree with you or share your position. But as men who subscribe to this code, they will simply say, you did what you had to do and you did it in a right way.
But if you can do is scurry around like some cheap pirate and start cutting holes with a saw beneath your opponents and resorting to cloak and dagger methods like some vindictive woman or some cartoon character, then even should you manage to fix him nice and proper. You will find that the serious men of this world will simply say you are a light weight and they will never be seen with you or those who are allied to you – you will be an outcast – they will send you to Coventry – you will be an effrontery – as you are a bad role model and a dishonourable man…an inferior man….a half man…..nothing more than a cheap pirate who will probably never amount to much in life….not in the fraternity of the serious men at least.
If your father, mother, pastor or role model in life did not teach you this. You know this now from me. I’ll be honest. I’ve had to frequently fix people, that’s part and parcel of business in the plantation life. I wish it were otherwise, but it is what it is – but even then, I drawn the line on scurrying around like a cheap rat to cut a man down to size. As even if you manage to win that way, you would have already lost it all. He has won by default! As your methods are unsound!’
The on going preparations for the monster El Nino can only be described as back breaking work. The sort of work where one sweats blood as it can only be hard and difficult.
This season. I’ve had to push the men eight to ten times harder than usual. Time is not on our side. I don’t suppose I am a very popular chap these days. Most of the farmhands fall silent whenever they see me coming their way. They rarely smile or even bother to make small talk. They resent me. As they see me as someone who is unreasonable, hard and implacable.
I understand. But the work has to go on….and the discipline must hold.
Living conditions in the field this time of the year can only be describe as testing – in the day, the sun is scorching. At night, it rains and all the beddings are damp, if not wet. Fortunately, dysentery and water borne diseases, the bane of field life has not hit our camp.
Moral is low. But the discipline must hold…..
In the evenings after meals when the men sit around the fire. I would usually make ir a point to spend a short time chatting with them. Though I am sure they much prefer if I just left them alone I reckon. During this soft time, I would ask about their wives and children. Many would take out photos from their wallets and we would talk about what the future holds for their kiddies…during these rare moments….it’s as if we all seem to share so many things in common that it could be said, we all stand in one straight line and as long as the moment last…we are all reminded that there is so much that still needs to be done and we are running out of time….soon El Nino will come.
We must prepare for war!
‘Recently Singapore’s one and only ‘intellectual’ wrote again about dying for the country (don’t know why lah, but he seems of late to be fixated on getting people to die for King and country for some inexplicable reason. I just hope we are not going to war over chilli crab).
That ‘intellectual’ mentioned one way to get people to be more motivated to die for the country was to created sacred sites worthy to die for…like Times Square in New York, (though what American would die for that stretch of neon)..which to us would be probably be East Coast park, Orchard, Botanical gardens etc. But in my mind I can’t help but feel it’s quite ludicrous for anyone to die for a place. Especially in Singapore where the urban landscape is changing so fast that nothing can be termed sacred any longer. After all everything is based on $ and it’s really just another global city. So to me the idea of anyone dying for stainless steel and glass is just a very vapid idea. So for me, if I have to baby someone with that sort of infantile attitude in a platoon – I wouldn’t have the slightest problem shooting him in the leg and sending him home on a sick pass. As experience informs me, people who are prepared to die for silly causes usually get themselves and others killed unnecessarily. They’re a liability. Soldiering is after all serious business. You cannot have people with fairytales in their head.
Having said that if I had to die for a cause. Then it will probably be for the sake of someone who I love intensely. For example, if I am going to do battle and have to operate deep behind enemy lines and keep myself motivated even in hellish conditions to accomplish a mission.
I would much prefer to have a healthy mix of bachelors and family men with me rather than a bunch of confuse people who would die for some water vomiting merlion lah. If I only have that to work with, I will probably throw down my semi auto, take off my uniform and go back to my kampung to grow corn or something…if people stop and ask me why I am not fighting at the front. I will just tell them, this war is lost lah – as for me, it’s very hard if impossible to commit to something if there is no love.
But if I have just a couple of family men with me in this hypothetical platoon – then I know deep in the marrow of my bones as a commander that I have the basic raw material to work on the idea of building commitment and it’s very likely we will take that hill, plant that flag, take out that machine gun post or blow out that tank column. It will not matter how difficult or dangerous it is, it will just be done lah. No one will grumble. Not a single man. I can almost guarantee victory.
Because when you have a couple of family men in a platoon – then you know these people are not going to fight for stupid reasons like medals, a block of real estate or because they’ve been hypnotised by some cheap speech from some politician who is hunkered somewhere in the Swiss alps.
If men are going to fight on and on and on for something that requires copious amounts of stamina, discipline and commitment – what is needed is something that is the equivalent of nuclear fuel and the only thing that comes close to that construct is the idea of family…as when you have to go up against fighting men who fight for those who they cherish and love and who are willing to do anything to keep them safe…then good luck to you lah!
This is why to me, the most important thing is for a nation to continue to have babies. To me this is strategic – for lack of a better word to describe military prepareness – the baby birth rate is inversely proportional to the fighting spirit of a nation – and it’s never just military hardware, training or expenditure.
Because if all you have to work on is a platoon filled with people who don’t even care for babies, then it simply means, you’re fighting next to people who haven’t really invested that much of themselves in the idea of hope in a better tomorrow and if you don’t have that one strategic asset – then in my book, you’re defeated even before the first shot is fired. You don’t stand a chance in hell to win.
People who don’t know this should never go to war….as war will always be a very serious enterprise for only men who have no time to entertain sugary illusions. As I said, it is a terrible business.’
Weather scientist are by nature an ultra conservative lot. The direct opposite of shoot from the hip sorts. Just the kind of cover your ass folk who like to lash their reports with – ‘providing’ ‘as long as’ ‘assuming’. So when they begin using hyperbolic terms to describe what they see as “unprecedented” “a biggie” and “monster.” You just know that the shit is going to hit the fan lah – its really as simple as that. To me at least.
As even if one discounts the usual round of exaggerations associated with long range weather prediction – it’s fair to say, El Nino is a done deal.
The question is not whether it will hit any longer as it remains the hard nose case of – when will it hit…..where…. how hard….. and for what length of time?
Even by the most conservative estimates. All the experts agree, El Nino this time round is expected to be an epic event. One that may even be hotter and more intense than even the record-shattering 1997-98 El Nino. What this means for me as a farmer is I am staring down the business end of a meat grinder.
Or maybe not….I’ve done what needs doing….gone thru what I should have done a thousand and ones times and there’s nothing else to do.
Now all that remains is to wait for the El Nino that bastard child to come… And of course to hang on tight for the ride of a lifetime. The way I see it, it’s going to be lose lose either way one decides to splice it. The question is whether one loses big or small that is all….I see both salvation and perdition from all this. As many landowners will go down under and for all one knows, this may be a good time to pick up on prime land on fire sale prices. Then again the carnage could well be so devastating that it could well set me back a few years.
It’s hard to say what the future holds. Sometimes in life, the best that a man can hope for is to roll as best he can with the punches.
Bring it on lah!
‘Farming to me has always been an allegory of life. A metaphor even. Just as not everyday can ever be a sunny day. Some days are what I can only refer too as epic fuck days – you know the sort where you know, your boss is out to sack you and the future is as clear as mud. We have all been there. In that place where every passing moment cuts like a knife….nursing whatever little courage we have against something that is so menacing and big…wondering whether we can get thru to the other side safely or that it will just spit us out.
Losing your job, health problems, floundering relationships…they’re all storms to me…and when a man walks into a swirling storm with only a crumbly hope and prayer…he will have to bear all the stings and shards that this storm hurls at him…he might feel as if, he’s breathing in needles….and his flesh is fried to a cinder…..he may even wonder whether this is worth it…or that maybe it’s best to just stop and stay in one place.
But if he keeps putting one feet in front of another and by some miracle he makes it out of this metaphorical storm – then it could be said the things that he cannot change would have changed him. As he would be a very different man from the one who walked into that storm…
That’s really how I see life – as a series of storms…one where a man walks into one….only to step out of it and for a while, there may even be a long peace…only for him to gather his courage and prepare to walk into yet another storm again….’
May 7, 2014
“We can’t tell our competition to go away. They want to eat our lunch, we know that. They want to eat our dinner, we suspect that. We can’t stop them from wanting, but we can make sure we can hold our own, and we can eat our own lunch….we can provide you the resources and the means to stay one step ahead of the competition, and we will have a Singapore system which we can work together to build, to maximise your potential, maximise your contributions.”
‘No one denies change is necessary to stay competitive. That’s given. No one denies this! Not even those who are critical of the government can run too far from this steamroller reality! Not the opposition or even the tea lady in your office who is not too happy about how instant 3 in 1 coffee seems to be rendering her obselete. So whenever officials couch the whole argument in terms of only reducing the entire argument for change in – change or stay the same – I feel they are very disengenous to do so. As the vast majority of people have already accepted that change is inevitable and part and parcel of living in a globalized world.
The issue of contention as I see it goes like this – how does one go about managing change intelligently to maximize on opportunities in a threat riven world?
Before we begin. One needs to be always mindful that there are two faces of seeding change to be more competitive. Now politicians and management experts like to elide this section. They much prefer to gloss over it with platitudes and not discuss it and let me share with you why.
As there are two ways to change to be more competitive – one side is what I refer too as good and wholesome competition – the sort that provisions enough room for incremental improvements very much in the way one learns to run a full 50 kilometer marathon by just starting off with 5, then working slowly to 10 and 15…till one is finally comfortable and confident with taking the whole elephant of 30 in one bite. That’s what I call good and healthy competition. Well managed. Professionally executed and the stuff of excellent stewardship. As the whole endevaour is well thought out and premised on realistic expectations that’s achievable and gets everyone on board.
The other is destructive change to be more competiive. This is when the pace of change is simply unhinged from reality and is set so furious and fast that it can only cause many to drop off the treadmill thru no fault of their own – as since unrealistic targets are set within such a compressed period – it can really only produce failures on an industrial scale – this sort of change will always be lousy. As it can really only produce stress, grief, low moral and even threaten the idea of well being that makes the whole idea of higher productivity sustainable. Sure in the first few years you may well have stellar growth. But since all this comes at the cost of more and more people falling off the thread mill – it simply means at the end of the day. You’re left with a significant cachet of PMET’s who are simply marginalized and sidelined.
As when the pace of change is so hellish that it produces more negatives then good – then surely you cannot blame thinking folk for questioning, “hey! Is this worth it?” After all, even Grace Fu has no hesitation in questioning the idea, if she cannot turn in a decent living based on X amount of renumeration a year, then she may have to reconsider a job in politics. So why should the man in the street be so different from Grace Fu?
So coming back to the fundamental issue: if the vast majority of people seem to only get high blood pressure, sleepless nights and heart attacks every time they go to NTUC to see how little their dollar can stretch despite working their butts off – then can anyone here please tell me, how reasonable is it to blame them for questioning the whole idea of change? I don’t believe for one moment these people are subversive or trying to run down Singapore – they are just questioning the trade off’s along with the rationale of how the policy of change is undertaken to create a more competitive workforce where everyone can be part of.
However IF the pace of change is well managed and respectful of the strengths and weaknesses of both people their communities – IF change even comes in a considerate way that pays homage to the whole idea of dignity of labor along with provisioning for many a means where they can gainfully actualize their dreams – then, it is possible to grow from strength to strength in a way that is both enjoyable and rewarding – in this way people can only support the whole idea of change whole heartedly – as they can see the magic working in the lives of their loved ones and their circle of friends – when change is well managed and respectful of people’s needs and aspirations, it can be something that is truly edifying, nourishing and even a source of great happiness.
But to insist that change can only come by prioritizing growth even if it means we all have to settle for a lower quality of life. Or that the good life can only come, if all of us buy into the idea of ramping up the population to 6.5 million – then I think, if you keep talking like that, all you will do is make a bloody fool out of yourself. As not everyone is so gullible or naive to believe that sort of simplistic reasoning.
Let me share with you all why – while no one denies to grow an economy critical mass is needed. But you will NEVER ever find it spoken or written anywhere that the definition of critical mass is either 1, 2, 5, 5.5 or even 6.5 million people.
As when you take the trouble to look around, the world’s most progressive societies have succeeded with much smaller populations. Stuttgart with a population of about 0.6 million is home to Mercedes – they also have the same problem of having to manage an increasingly elderly workforce. But do you see them bringing in Russians? Munich has only a population of about 1.2 million and is home to BMW – again do you see the German PM mooting the idea of bringing in workers to fill that intellectual deficit, Smaland-Sweden with a population of about 0.7 million is home to Ikea and Zurich with a population of about 0.4 million is the financial capital of Continental Europe. Ditto. And the list goes right on…..
So let us put a bullet into the myth – that is so often propogated by the propagandist press and officialdom that to grow the economy one needs to ramp up the population – as anecdotal evidence clearly proves this is not only false, but to insist time and again that is true is both dishonest and disengenous.
As many countries, not only Germany but I might add Switzerland, Sweden, the Netherlands, Denmark, Finland, South Korea and Taiwan have also blossomed but with mostly indigenous talents. Do you see any of them trying to squeeze as many foreigners into a telephone booth?
As usual, I give you the facts – you go decide for yourself….as for me, its clear as day. Like I said, there is competition…and there is competition…so if you happen to be a PMET who has suddenly found yourself in the sidewalk watching the world go right by while you wonder to yourself whether it was due to some lack that put you where you are….I am simply here to tell you….you are not to blame…it could just as well have been me…it was a massacre….you are not to blame….and that’s really all I have no say….nothing more.
I will however share this. As far as five years ago. I knew deep down in the marrow of my bones it would all come down to this. But I was not sure. There was a lingering doubt. So I shared this with only my bicycle teammates. My annotated version of the dystopian future. We all got on our bikes and left before the meat grinder got us. If I have any regrets, it was that I did not shout out my message louder. Instead we all just rode off in the night like a submarine slipping silently out of the harbor in the cover of darkness. Even today when some of my colleagues ask of me why I did not speak up then….I would often keep silent….if there is any hope of redemption from all this…allow me to say….there is not a day that goes by when I say to myself – we could have brought out more and that is really another way of saying. I failed and so I must live with this feeling of terminal regret….but like I said, I was not sure….I was just not sure.’
May 6, 2014
He was quoted by Zee News India as saying that “Singaporeans, new arrivals, people who are on permanent residence here, people who are on employment pass here, (are) all participating in one big Singapore family … So that we feel that this is a place which is special, which belongs to all of us and where we all celebrate one another’s festivals and happy events together.”
I don’t understand what his goal is any longer…if it is to foster unity and cohesiveness, then he seems to have a strange way of going about it. Really. I simply, I don’t understand him any longer…don’t care too either.
‘There are certain things that a man can do and there are certain things that he simply cannot and should not do.
This is for lack of a better word is the summation of what life is all about and the principle is as old as the hills…the wisdom to know what is right from wrong, what’s proper and simply out of line…ants cannot do this. But humans can, that is why we are at the top of the food chain – for example, should a man take another wife. He should still love, respect and honor his first wife.
He cannot treat her like a stranger and allow her to beg in the streets just because he is enamoured with his new wife – after all, his first wife was the woman who stood by him thru thick and thin when all he had was his two guli’s and very little else. She may not have been perfect, but nonetheless she was once the pillar in his life and the love of his life – should this man just decide to forget this, then what does it say about him along with his values?
Perhaps his second wife should reconsider, if such a man can be so ungrateful to the woman who once made him the man that he is – then how secure is she really in this man’s love?
Perhaps when this man has grown tired and bored of her and takes to a third or fourth wife, her fate will not be so different from the sad story of the first wife – in which case, why even devote oneself to a man who simply doesn’t understand that in this world – there are certain things that a man can do and there are certain things that he simply cannot and should NEVER do!
I have a feeling no planter will ever talk to such a fellow lah…this man could claim the right of lineage to the highest of the high, but in the fraternity of those who belong to the serious men…he is just a very inferior person who simply doesn’t value his roots or for that matter understand how he should behave and this has to be very dangerous…..such a man will always be a liability to those who choose to call him friend.’