Restoring public confidence the planters way

March 2, 2016

There was a time not so very long ago when men were really men – by this I mean they take great pride in the idea of dignity of labor to such an extent they would like the British say,

‘never let the side down.’

In those days to keep the harmony between heaven, earth and man in perfect balance – a gentlemen could always be counted to do the honorable thing.

May all seem slightly quaint and silly these days, when men would calmly give up their seats in lifeboats for women and children when the ship is listing. Or that captains of ships would much prefer to remain on the bridge and go down with the ship and their officers did the same stoically…and even when all is lost and death stared them straight in the face, a gentlemen could ALWAYS be counted to do the right thing. Officers penned a farewell letter to their one and only love and handed over their pocket watch and wedding band to those who didn’t need to go over the top with a bitter sweet smile. When the time came bayonets were affixed. They might perhaps steady their nerves by passing a pocket flask around and everyone would take a swig…but when the whistle sounded – the gentlemen could always be counted to be the first to take his foot off the fire steps and the rest of the common men would follow suit.

That was what cemented society together….the gentlemen could always be counted to do the right thing….you could always count on him NEVER to let the side down…to come thru thick and thin.

In the planters world. If a scandal ever broke out or something went terribly wrong and public confidence hangs tethering on the cliff’s edge.

The planter would receive a telegram from the serious men of this world informing him that he had been promoted and that he needn’t worry about his wife or children as they will be well provisioned for BUT… would always end cryptically with the words…we hope to see you in happier times.

Thereafter the gentlemen planter would get his affairs in order..wills, debts, bury his pornographic material etc etc. But since he is a gentlemen. He would have the courtesy to go about his daily business in the plantation as per normal….but on the fourteen day one hour before the stroke of midnight – the gentlemen planter could always be counted to put on a well pressed bush jacket and he even had the courtesy to put a towel over his head so as to spare his housekeeper the mess and after a moment of deep reflection – this man would take out his service revolver and that would be that.

Thereafter life will go back to the way it used to be….harmony would flow back into chaos….public confidence would be restored and life would go right on as if nothing had ever happened.

In the age of the gentlemen…there was very little fuss…very little quibbling…things were very clear!

And in this curious manner of social personal conduct particular only to that class of men known as the gentlemen. Though one could say all manner of things concerning this man as to what he should or should not have done. At least he had done the honorable thingy – no one could ever say, he let the side down!

But these days in the age of the great negotiator where everything under the sun can be talked around in big, medium and small circles ad infinitum…..and the only prevailing social code of conduct that trumps all seems to be… It’s every man for himself dummy!….there is no longer any incentive to be a gentlemen….so like the dinosaur, he perished lah.

après moir, le deluge.


‘When I write regularly about the art of manliness…there are many people who would say, what’s this cuckoo bird talking about? Look he’s got dirt underneath his nails! For Godsake he’s just a farmer! As for his lands. It’s just a bloody veggie patch! So what is he going on and on about!

I don’t mind telling you all this – they make fun of me. They think it’s just a big joke. But I never take it personally.

As these people don’t really know how difficult it is to keep one’s humanity in a harsh place like where I live and work…they think the whole wide world is like Singapore and all differences lies only in the details….so I never get hot under the collar.

But I can assure you life is not like that – not at all.

As if you don’t bother buttressing your beliefs out here…the jungle will get into you and transform you into a very hard and ruthless man who is slightly one percentile point better than maybe a feral animal.

That is what the jungle can do to a man without even him realizing it…spend enough time here and it will whirl it’s way into your head like one of those worms you read about in Africa. I have seen all this, but despite many of the hardships I have had to bear all by myself….I always remind myself I am first and foremost a human being…and the highest expression of that ideal that I know of just happens to be in that form I know as the gentlemen.

I’ve seen the gentlemen give nine tenths of his returns from the land to his wife only to make do with so very little that the ends barely meet. He does it cheerily. So as not to worry those in the home front. He does not complain.

I’ve seen the gentlemen cut a sliver of meat the size of fifty cent coin into quarters and given each piece to four men as they keep complaining there is no food – as the expedition in the jungle has taken a wrong turn and he much prefers to go hungry.

So my point is to remain human one must gainfully work towards that ideal of being a gentlemen and NEVER take that idea for granted…as for the riffraff. He can never do all these things I just mentioned. He only thinks he can. But when push comes to shove, his grip on humanity will loosen. Thereafter the jungle is brutal – it will just swallow him up in one bite…whoop! He’s gone! Thereafter he will be transformed into a feral subhuman just slightly higher than a baboon!

So when I write about the art of manliness it is hardly a joking matter – because Singapore is after all a sort jungle…a concrete jungle filled with all sorts of strange animals as well. You will encounter all sorts of people – many will try to cheat you…others will try to pull the wool over your eyes and then there are those who are never what they appear to be….I am very sensitive to these things, because whenever I visit the city. I can only be acutely aware of the slightest physical, spiritual and mental contradictions that exist all around me. The air conditioned ambient makes me feel as if I am breathing in sharp needles. I can even tell you plus or minus 5 percentile points what’s the relative humidity…I am strangely conscious of how my feet seems to always walk only on flat surfaces that I am rarely accustomed too. I can even register the slightest perfidy in a man’s voice, a mere look that betrays his intention – since death lurks everywhere in the jungle that’s just a survival skill one develops like how the blind can make out ten dollar bills from fifties by just running their finger thru a familiar imprint. I am wary of callous people in the city – who say one thing, yet do quite another without realizing that I can see right thru their insecurity and ego like glass.

As I have to anticipate what can happen even before it occurs in the jungle all the time….you see I am half beast and man….you would hardly know it if you came across me in the city. No! You wouldn’t… hard as you may try to seek out that wild streak in me – all you would really see before you is a well mannered, convivial and affable gentlemen….only don’t believe for one moment as mundane and forgettable as that image may be, that never once came about without considerable daily effort on my part!

By this I mean I strive daily to think and only do the right things…to be good, thoughtful, kind, just and where possible to provide relief – I do try very hard. And fortunately most of the time…I succeed. At other times I fall short probably because I didn’t try hard enough or got distracted I guess, but the important thing is I have to keep at it and that’s how I see the whole idea of humanity – it’s not like something one plonks on a shelf and it just stays there….that may well be the case back at the home front in Singapore, but out here in the wilderness…it’s something that you always have to hold on very tightly too…so tight that at times it may even turn your knuckles white and drain whatever strength you have….but that’s how it goes here….otherwise whoosh! It’s gone!

I think if more people sat down quietly and reflected on how I see the whole idea of humanity in the wilderness – I don’t think they would laugh at me….it’s just way too serious..I reckon.’

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