How to see your ‘problem’ as a problem

July 12, 2016

Last week while driving along the kampung roads. I saw a sign, ‘LAND FOR SALE,’ – I happen to know of this couple…I don’t know them personally…..they moved here about two years or so ago – the husband is a Singaporean PR…but he was retrenched or something and so they decided to cultivate orchids for the home market…they hail from Buangkok…I think.

I was wearing my No.1 assassin creed no nonsense planter’s bushjacket complete with briar pipe….as soon as I stepped out from my landcruiser – I did not even introduce myself…instead I asked in an authoritative voice of a landowner – ‘what is the price?’ The man mumbled something….I raised my voice brusquely, ‘speak up man!’ He blurted out a figure….soon his better half came out to join him.

After that I proceeded to survey the land as if thinking aloud….’yes…yes…she is a beauty…..close to the river even….this one can certainly spread her legs wide! Thereafter I boomed out, ‘The matter is settled then…I agree to the price.’ I then proceeded to rattle off a list of things that he should bring along to the lawyers office at 9 sharp the next morning…the title deeds, bank account, ID etc….somewhere in the rush…the man murmured again, ‘you mean to say you see potential in this land?’

I removed my sun glasses and glared at him menacingly….as if he was wasting my time. Thereafter I told the man and his wife, ‘that is a question for me to answer….now are you serious about selling this land!….I hope you are not wasting my time!’

From the corner of my eye. I could tell the woman was pensive and guarded…I can tell, the slight curl at the corner of her lips gave her hesitant nature away – this led me to only one conclusion…the idea to throw in the towel must have come from the husband.

At this point the man began to recount how his business had floundered as in his own words – the weather has been conspiring against us….it’s impossible to grow anything under this heat…I took another step towards him. This time I was so close that he could make out the scar above my right eye, flared my nostrils and made grinding sounds with my teeth…and told him, I am not interested in your sob stories….I just want to know whether you is serious about selling your land….are we clear?

The couple shifted uncomfortably….then the man blurted out something….we have heard about you…you are the man who lives on the hill…the one who once waged war against ten landowners and won…what do you want with this piece of cursed land for?

Before I could answer the woman stepped forward and said, ‘please give us time to think about it….She suggested dinner.

During dinner, I adopted a much more congenial and affable demeanor – it proceeded guardedly at first…then when it warmth up…the couple told me – life has been very difficult for them as the weather is not cooperating.

I told them….that is life….you have good times and the bad…the blessing comes with the curse. But one thing is for sure the bad times cannot last forever…I went on share with this couple they are newbies….I on the other hand am a lau chaui (battle hardened)….so this is very normal. I even suggested to this couple that since the wife’s side comes from a family who trades in the pasar in Bedok….I can even make arrangements for her to gather durians.

I joked, ‘back in the home front, they’re paying ten bucks extra for a kilo of durian…here in the trenches we get it for nothing.’

That was when the woman smiled and soon the man did the same…I had a feeling then they would not sell the land.

That’s a pity….as she is a beauty…you see this is what happens when one is foolish enough to mix emotion with business.


‘Newbies who come from Singapore to turn the wheel of life are like glass….they’re very fragile…..very crumbly…..when things don’t go their way – it’s as if the world has come to an end….to some degree I can understand.

But really what is a problem? If one breaks it down…it is just simply something that needs a bit of patience, time and sorting out…so one must ALWAYS cultivate the discipline to see a problem in the right scale and perspective – if the Kidon, the state execution arm of Israel, CIA and MI 5 is looking high and low for you with FLIR satellites and the pineapple eye of NSA spyware….that is a problem.

If you are like Kong Hee and looking squarely at ten straight years behind bars….that is a problem.

If you have third stage brain cancer…that is a problem.

If you have to go to bed every night wondering whether men with no necks will rappel down helicopters and double tap with full metal jacketed rounds armed with semi auto’s….that is a problem!

Anything else is not a problem…it is just a set back…a hiccup…a kink…not something to be feared. Rather it is something that simply requires time, patience and understanding….begin by looking at it.

Look at it!

The deeper and longer you look at your so called problems, the smaller they will become….it is not that the problem has magically disappeared….it is simply because you are beginning to understand it’s nature…it’s intricacies….it’s complications like when you open the back of a watch and see how so many different things work together…you have begun to put a sense of scale to it in relation to what is happening in your life….you are even considering making adjustments how to make this ‘problem’ grow smaller. Go on looking at it and soon they will start disappearing completely by assuming a REAL scale and perspective. Suddenly within the kernel of that which you once perceived to be a problem…you will discover opportunity.

The only problem that you have when you are face to face with a problem – is NEVER the problem – rather it is HOW you see the problem….it is as simple as that!’


Many years ago when I didn’t have a house…

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