30 December 2007

My Son, Tate

Woohooo! First, I must thank wifey for having to carry our new born son, Tate for the last nine months. He's a healthy, not-so-little guy weighing slightly more than 3.7kg at birth!


Not any less lovable than our first child (Trixie), Tate's coming to this world brings a special significance to my family. If you've read my previous post, my father passed away late last year. What most of you do not know is that, exactly 3 weeks after my father's death, my brother joined him. No one knows what made my brother take his own life but apparently he was suffering from depression, something which we suspected but didn't know it was that serious. It was a very, very difficult period for my family. So when wifey and I came to know that Tate is akan datang, I wasted no time to spread the good news to my mum and the rest of the family. BTW, Tate's arrival was not planned... at least not by us, so I'd thought there must be someone out there watching over us and present this gift to us.

OK, so much for the sombre part. Let's move forward to the more positive outlook in life... Wifey and I felt that his name should start with a letter T like his sister, Trixie. Did a search for meaningful boys names starting with the letter T and my oh my, the names are limited. Eventually we filtered down to two - Tate and Theodore. Personally, I preferred Theodore which originates from Greek meaning "God's gift". Wifey preferred Tate which is of English origin meaning "Cheerful". Each of these names have different variations like Tait, Taitte, Tayte for Tate and Ted, Theo, Theodorus for Theodore. Eventually, I relented and agreed on Tate. Theodore may be a bit of a tongue twister for our non-native English speaking families. Besides that, the name Tate is more related to Trixie which means "Bringer of joy".

During gestation, Tate is unlike his sister who is more placid. Right from the end of the 1st trimester, his movement can be felt and he moved alot through the rest of the pregnancy. I wonder if he aspires to be a gymnast. Besides that, wifey felt contractions very often too. When wifey was carrying Trixie, the only time she felt ONE contraction (and a relatively mild one) was when she was waiting in the delivery ward for the hospital staff to prepare the operations theatre. With Tate, it was a totally different matter. I just hope we can educate Tate to be as well behaved as his sister.

Also, Tate grows fast. Last weekend when we were shopping, people gave obvious about their stares when they look at wifey. One even remarked, "Wow! So big!" 3 days back when wifey went for her medical appointment, Tate's estimated weight was 3.4kg!

Last morning, when the amniotic fluid started to flow out (one of the signs that the baby is about to come out), we grabbed the bag and hailed a cab. The driver is a nice chap and told us that he'll go slow for a smooth and safe ride to the hospital. Wifey said something that made him promptly floored the accelerator, beat a red light and almost did a drift. I had to harmonize the speed correcting that he need not go THAT fast and added that we didn't want him to be booked by the traffic police. He laughed it off saying it's alright. If TP did notice, he would explain the situation and we might get a free escort to open the traffic ahead for us. We reached the hospital safely anyway.

Everything went through smoothly and Tate is delivered after a C-Section and this time, I am not suffering from shingles and managed to be in the ops theatre with wifey and Tate the moment he is born. Tomorrow will be another day where we'll have to jia you cos there'll be many years ahead of us.



For those of you who do not know what's a C-Section (Cesarean Section), follow this link to watch the video clip of how babies can be born. (Warning: It can be gory and upsetting to some)

29 December 2007

And You Think Only Blondes Are Stupid?

I was reading Mr Brown's blog when I came across this. Couldn't help laughing, especially the reactions from the boy. Then I went into Youtube and did a search by typing "stupid"... guess what I found there. I am really surprised by the answers given by the Americans.

18 December 2007

My Dear Daughter

Not too long ago, someone in CNA forum guessed that I must have a very well behave daughter. Well, I must admit she is and I certainly hope she can continue to be so.

Over the last 4 years, I hardly see my daughter. The reason is that wifey and I are weekend parents. That means, we'll fetch our daughter home over the weekend and comes Sunday night, we'll have to "deposit" her with my mother-in-law. Also, we make it a point to visit her (and my mother-in-law) at least once a week during the weekday. Do I really have a choice to do otherwise? We certainly hope that we can see her everyday and have her calling out to us, "Papa! Mommy! You're home! See what I draw!". However, we can't... both of us have to work. Can we fetch her home on a daily basis? Maybe... but I think travelling for 45mins on either direction between my M.I.L. everyday will be taxing on us and our daughter... not to mention traveling from my M.I.L's place to/from my workplace. Why don't I buy a car? Yeah, right... might as well suggest one of us quit our job. Or better still, go buy toto and pray that I'll strike the first prize. $500K will do - I do not expect to win the rolled up millions although I do not mind :P

To cut the long story short, wifey took a couple of "long weekend" leave recently such that the "weekend resort home" become "weekend cum Monday resort home". Instead of the usual practice of returning her (my daughter, not my wife) to my MIL on Sunday, we go there on Monday so that we can have more time with her (my daughter, not my MIL) and hear that "Papa! You're home! See what I draw!"... aaaaaah...bliss!

She can really be chatty if she wanted to and will take the initiative to play with us with her usual "SURPRISE!" She will attempt to hide...by covering her eyes and then shout surprise while removing her hands to look at you :=) (I think I'll need to teach her the story of 掩耳盗铃). Anyway, it is always fun playing with her.

Also, the honest truth is, she rarely makes me angry... frustrated perhaps but not angry. However, on a recent occasion, she got on the nerves of wifey. Now, try to understand that wifey is very, very pregnant now so she tends to be a bit more sensitive. So on that particular day, wifey was teaching Trix to spell "The" and "This". After several rounds of coaching and repetition, Trix still spell "This" like this "Theis". Wifey lost her temper and hit our daughter's hand with a cane! Ouch! To be exact... a candy cane :P ... (not so ouch). Tears welled up in our daughter's eyes and only then did that irresponsible papa who hides in the study room blogging, came out to the living room and save the day :p.

I could see from her eyes that the tears rolled not because of the pain from the candy cane (it's really a very small one) but more like somehow, she felt she has disappointed us or made us feel unhappy. That made me look at my daughter in a very different perspective and I really think she is quite capable of sensing when someone's emotion is really not quite right. In other words, she is quite understanding. On top of that, she isn't those who wails and screams nor shout (touch wood) - she just cry, trying hard to hold back her tears and look at you with pleading eyes and that look totally melts my heart... like this one, taken a couple of years ago...With that look, we continued to coach her for another hour or so with as much patient as we can muster. Finally, at the end of the day, when I asked her to spell "This", she wrote "T h i s" and then I asked her to spell "The", she wrote "T h e"... woohoo! So I tried again and asked her to spell "This", she wrote "T h e i s"... ... ... ... perhaps, she's not ready for "This" yet.

Maybe, I'll a different approach next time and teach her "This" and "That" instead of "This" and "The". But whatever the case may be, we still love you, Trixie!

12 December 2007

Taxi Fare Increase

Taxi fare is set to increase... again.

According to ComfortDelgro's press release (here), the "fare changes" (just say fare hike, la!) is meant to address issues including,

1) Addressing commuters' concern in the difficulty of getting a cab in the city in evening
2) Simplifying taxi fares for the convenience of commuters
3) Encouraging call bookings to better match the supply and demand


On the first issue - Little cab in city in evening
(just make the cab bigger, lor...sorry, can't help it there :p)

The solution is to increase city area surcharge from $1 to $3! Simple wat! Even an orang utan can understand. No cab in city area, increase surcharge so cab drivers will go into city area! Simple, right? Pay them well and they will come. Not enough talents? Pay them more, lor!

Hmmm, I wonder will this deter commuters from taking cab in the city area in the first place! Also, where's the boundary of city area? Maybe I better go find out so next time, I'll just step out of the city area and then lament no cab in non-city area. But then again, perhaps not or they'll increase the surcharge for non-city area.

I also wonder how would cab drivers really react to it. Will they still go into hiding so that they can not only get the city area surcharge, they'll earn the call booking as well! Afterall, ComfortDelgro has shown them that maximising profits is still more important.

The second solution (City ERP rebates) to the first issue (no cab in city in evening), I think is a good move. It does not deter passengers and it encourages drivers. Unless you believe ComfortDelgro will go bankrupt paying ERB rebates... nah, not possible.


Second issue - simplifying fares

The first solutions is to revise back to the days where Late Night Surcharge is 50% of the metered fare between midnight and 0559hrs. Great! I hated the idea of progressive increments starting from 2330hrs at 10% anyway. Aunties and Uncles will find it easier to calculate afterall.

However, the second solution doesn't seem to have anything to do with simplifying fare. Instead of charging $2 surchage for peak hours, they charge a 35% of the metered fare (and call it premium?!?!?). If you tell an ape, "Uncle, peak hour, hor! I need to charge $2 extra!", the response will either be, "OK lor... what to do?" or "Walao! Tai lang pang her! Bo pian la, kia la kia la! (meaning: It's daylight robbery! What to do? I can only suck thumb, just go!)"

But if the driver goes, "Uncle, peak hour, hor, need to charge 35% more!" one might response in the manner shown above or "How much is that going to be? I no study noe no maths like tat one leh. Midnight I can still count simply, meter plus jit pua (half) of meter, 35% is how?"

The only thing in the second solution that touches on simplifying fare is the use of automated computing for the calculation... with detailed breakdown of receipts! Woohoo! Erm... can they not do that also using flat $2 surcharge?

Also, the solution is focusing just on Late Night Surcharge and Peak Period Surcharge. However, if you look at the whole concept of cab fare, do you think it is simple?
Flag Down Fare (with it own formula)
Peak Hour Surcharge (on different dates and time)
City Area Surcharge
Late Night Surcharge (meter plus jit pua, ya?)
Airport / Terminal Surcharge (I've no idea how much now)
Call Booking Fee
ERP Fee (please check with LTA)
Honestly, sometimes when a foreigner asked me how much it cost to take a cab... I just tell him, pay whatever the meter says... although I'm not sure how many of these surcharges are computed into the meter.


The third issue - Encouraging call booking

Here's another good solution... although I'm not sure the $0.50 less is borned by the driver or ComfortDelgro). Simple. Straight to the point. I wonder how effective will it be. Personally, $0.50 makes little difference when I consider other factors such as availability of and need for a cab.

There is one point that crept into the press release yet seemed out of place. It between the 2nd and 3rd solutions and did not explain what issue(s) it is supposed to address - Flag Down Fare Increase. I'll leave you to figure that out.

Whatever the case may be... I'm beginning to be more conscious of which cab (base on the operator) to take and will not hesitate give certain cabs a miss. So I urge the other cab companies to reconsider if they should always follow suit whenever one company increase... or should I say make adjustment, to the fare.

11 December 2007

A Year Ago...A Death In The Family

Christmas is round the corner and I suppose many of you are preparing for the holiday season, if you have not done so. This post is nothing about being jolly or bringing good tidings. In fact, it's the opposite. So if you do not wish spoil your jolly good feelings... give this post a miss, please, I insist.

I will not hesitate to write talk about life, neither would I shy away from death. After all, have you met anyone who has never lived or will never die?

On this day a year ago (base on Chinese Lunar Calendar), my father passed away. There are certain rites to be performed, according to the Chinese practice, after one year. So, this morning, I headed to my mum's place. As the monk who assisted in the rites started the all to familiar chant, emotions started to well up and got stuck at my throat. I guess one can only move on but never able to "get over it".

It was a sad moment for my family when my father passed away. It was also a sort of relief - in the sense a relief for my dad and family because he was suffering for some weeks prior to his passing. My father suffered from pneumonia and a mild stroke which got him admitted into the hospital. The pneumonia eventually led to one of his lungs collapse. He struggled for a month or so and eventually passed away peacefully in the hospital. His wife, eldest son and youngest brother were beside him when he left. The eldest son, my brother was particularly depressed and that left me to take care of the funeral arrangements. My father was eventually cremated in Bright Hill Temple and his urn placed there. One thing we didn't realised was that his death had affected my brother more than anyone else.

My father was a conservative man and by that I mean he was the type who believes that man must be the head of the family and as long as he provides for the family 3 meals a day, roof over their heads and children gets educated, he has done his job. He would never have been nominated for the "Best Father of The Year Award".

Nevertheless, he was a good man. He would never impose his views or opinions on another. He would frequently offer alternative perspectives such as making you think about the fisherman who offers bait to fish or the patriarch who drove his prodigal son out of the family. Whenever something appears to be wrong, he would make you think about the righteousness in it or when something appears to be right, he would let you consider what could be the (wrong) hidden agenda. From his perspectives, there are no absolute wrongs or rights. However, that does not mean he was without opinions. He did have them. Just that he did not impose his opinions on others.

It's been a year now and life has to move on.

30 November 2007

Don't Ya Love Flowers?

Did I mention that I tried developing the green thumb? No, I'm not turning into the Incredible Hulk... the Incredible Sulk, maybe but certainly not the Hulk.


I tried planting my own flowers. Had wanted to do that years ago but my neighbour beats me to it. Now, his "lease" expired.. oh rather he gave up. So now, the sun facing corridor is made available and it's my turn now.

Here's the results of our efforts. Nice?

I'm actually quite fond of flowers. So in most overseas trips, I would snap pictures of flowers whenever the opportunity arises. I also realised that flowers are the most beautiful in their natural form... and not in a bouquet. Here's some of them that I took in my previous trip to Hokkaido. I promised someone out there that I would show these pictures to her... long long ago, sorry there. It really took me a long time to show these picures :p

I'll leave you to admire these flowers now. BTW, sorry for the bad layout... just can't get this blog to cooperate...

27 November 2007

The Importance of Responsible Media

I was in a course relating to safety management. In one of the case studies, we looked at the Uberlingen Mid Air Collision involving Bashkirian Airline and DHL aircrafts. Everyone, all 71 of them (45 were school children), on both of these aircrafts died.

I will not discuss the details of the findings from the investigations and certainly not point at who is to be blamed for this tragedy. You can perhaps find a lot more details from the internet. However, I would like to draw your attention to the role media or rather the consequences when media reports irresponsibly.

What happened immediately after the mid air collision was that the media went in to cover the news. Some media, without establishing the facts, reported irresponsibly that the fault lies on the air traffic controller. Such kinds of media thrives on "spicing" up the events to win readership afterall. That eventually became a contributing factor to the air traffic controller being murdered by another man who lost his entire family (wife and 2 children) in that accident.

Media has a very important role when reporting cases like these. If they are not sensitive to the emotions and reactions of their readers/viewers, they could easily invoke another tragedy to happen. In this particular case, not only was the media (the irresponsible ones) insensitive, they made bias judgement even before the official investigation team concluded their findings and recommendations for improvements on safety.

A similar case happened closer at home during the 1950s(?) when the media was not sensitive to the local and religious sentiments which resulted in the Mariah Hertogh Riots.

From these two incidents, it led me to think that media must not only be objective, media has to be sensitive to the reaction of their readers. This also serves as a reminder to me that I too, have to exercise some control over what I write because what I write can be viewed by anyone. You'll never know who actually reads your blog.

18 November 2007

Do The Right Thing

Heard about this from a friend and found it the net.

"An elderly man was trying to find a place to sit and observe the Olympic Games, as he went to each section. All the other Greeks laughed as he tried to make his way through. Some ignored him. Upon entering the Spartan section all the Spartans stood and offered the elderly man their seats. Suddenly the entire stadium applauded. All the Greeks knew what was the right thing to do, but the Spartans were the only ones who did it." (here)

During my Sec 1 days, a thought struck me. It seems to me that Singaporeans are sucker for rules and authority. Everything that we do (or should not do) must come with some form of written rule from the relevant authority. Now, I'm not saying obeying rules are bad. Rules are necessary to ensure things run smoothly, in the broadest sense. However, what I found strange was that some people regard the absence of rules meant endorsement of anything else that the rules did not cover, or the presence of rules meant endorsement of every privileges that may come with it... regardless of what common sense or moral values tell them. It's like saying,

"Oh...there's no regulations that says I must give up my seats to the elderlies so why must I do that?" or

"Oh, as a pedestrain I have the right of way at the zebra crossings. Motorists must keep a lookout for me and give way to me. I can take my own sweet time."

This thought came to me at a time when I observed a bunch of kids making a ruckus at the void deck. An elderly man, who was not related to these kids (except they're of the same race), told them sternly that their behavior was unruly and unbecoming. The kids quietened and left for the playground eventually, restoring peace to the neighbourhood. Initially I thought to myself that the elder had no authority nor responsibilities over the kids. What if those kids turned around and challenged him "Who do you think you are?!" Would it not be better if he informed the parents of the kids or the police or Town Council to let THEM handle those unruly kids? Afterall, these people can exercise some form of authority over these kids but not the elderly. However, comonsense and cultural values also tells me that elderlies are to be respected. Moreover, he did the socially correct thing and that was to tell those kids to respect the neighbours. He didn't need a warren card or a letter of authority issued by a Minister or Commissioner of Police to do that. He did what is socially and morally right of an elder... to educate the children.

From that moment on, whenever I notice something not so right, I asked myself if that particular situation require the relevant "authorities" (including parents, teachers etc) to step in and make some rules. I was a "young adult" or "old child" (depends on how you look at it) and should start to take on more responsibilities. Instead of "Teacher! Teacher! He took my rubber!" or "Mommy, mommy, he called me a monkey!", I started to approach my classmate directly and say "If you need to borrow my eraser, you could have asked and I'll be more than willing to lend it to you" or "Mind you, I am not a monkey. I am an ape, Orang Utan. To be scientifically correct, I am a Pongo Pygmaeus."

But of course, if I was up against gangsters who are out to wallop me... I would still run to teacher and yell, "Teacher! Teacher! Ang Kong Beng want to wallop me!" and the teacher would go "Mata, mata! Got Ah Beng want to beat my student!" There are times when the relevant authorities have to step in. Don't try to be a hero when you do not have laser eyes and wear your red underwear outside like Superman.

If you know you are doing something right and not harming anybody (including yourself), do you really need some figure of authority to support you and make some rules? All the time? In every situations?

I end this post with a short clip (here). The stand up comedian is Peter Russell... the way he said "Do The Right Thing" is hilarious.

15 November 2007

This Used To Be My Playground

We used to play here. It was near the block where my gandma stayed. All landscape that you see in the picture are gone now. This was our "kampung". On any festive occassion, all the relatives would gather at my grandparents' place. The adults would play socialise over mahjong, coffee or talk about whatever topics adults talked about. The children would gather downstairs and play. Once in a while, an uncle would showoff his camera and snapped pictures of us. I suppose this was taken during the Chinese New Year period or we wouldn't have dressed so nicely.


Notice the drain on the left? My cousin and I would arm ourselves with slippers or sticks when night falls. We would scout the drain for cockroaches and *smack*... NEA would have been proud of us :p

Also, note the phone booth and the phone inside. That phone was the second generation. I can still recall the first generation is a green phone with dialling disc... yes disc and not pad. The type where you need to dial the numbers one at a time... to let the disc roll back before you can dialthe next.

If I do recall clearly, we were the only children that roam this place frequently. There were a couple of households with less than a handful of children staying in that block but none of them managed to gather as many children (or grandchildren) as my grandparents. Games we used to play include Catching, Tua Beh Long (Big Road), Zero Point, Hop Scotch and a lot more. The eldest chap in the picture is my brother...the eldest grandson. He was the one who came out with most of the games. A very innovative person who improvised games and tools with used items.

We had so much fun and now we've all grown up and most of us are parents ourselves.

07 November 2007

I Must Remind Myself

Sorry folks... it's been a terrible day. Skip this if you don't want to feel miserable. I don't want to talk about this anymore after post so comments off. I just want to let it out of my chest and enjoy my holiday.

I must remind myself to keep my mouth shut... the only time when I should open my mouth is to say "I'm sorry, it's my fault, I'm to be blamed"

I must remind myself not to give opinion... except when my opinion is to fully support my boss' opinion

I must remind myself not to offer explanations... I can never have explanations, only excuses

I must remind myself to eat my humble pie... sorry, I don't even deserve a humble pie

I must remind myself of my place and position in the corporate ladder... that is the bottom where all shit flows

I must remind myself I have nothing to offer except my labour... until a scapegoat is needed

05 November 2007

Day and Night

Day and Night are as natural as Sun and Moon

While dawn signals the start of day and end of night
Dusk announces the beginning of night and end of day

Some enjoy the warmth from the sun
Other appreciates the tranquility of the moon

In day, we see the forever changing clouds
At night, we visualize the permanent constellations

Day shows us the colours of the mountains and flowers
Night gives us the sounds of waves and crickets

Day and Night are as natural as Sun and Moon
Why should we welcome one with open arms and shun the other

29 October 2007

No Sex Please...On SIA's A380

After reading this article, I can't help musing about all the possibilities and questions SIA may need to fend off...

"Eh! Why I cannot have sex har? Double bed there and privacy maintained right?"

"Erm, sorry sir, Singapore is still a conservative society that values the conventional family unit AND place for sex. Sex at 30000 feet above the air is 'unconservative'. SIA, being Singapore's national air carrier would like to followsuit. Thus, I regret to inform you that the rules are still no sex in the A380"

"But we're doing it in private, right? Not that we'll keep banging against the door or what!?! So why ban it? You won't really know if we're doing it in the first place!"

"What you REALLY do in private, we don't really want to know. Our aircrew will not intrude into your privacy."

"So is it can or cannot? Your rules say cannot and then you don't really want to enforce?"

"It is better to accept the untidiness and ambiguity. We shall see how this matter evolve eventually."

"Ok lar...anything you say lar. Anyway, I'm booking a ticket for myself and my partner. You have my details here in my passport. My partner's name is John Smith..."

"... ... ... ..."

(All names and conversational exchanges are purely fictional)

Personal Ethics On Blogging

Something happened recently that force me to reflect on some ethical issues about this blog.

My Sec 1 niece, B, managed to hunt me down and found my blog. It is natural that it will only be matter of time when all the other nieces and nephews and even my own children will come to read my blog... provided this blog did not bore her to death first. In other words, what is written here is no longer the views and opinions of a stranger but that of someone she knows.

Of course mature adults who read my blog can differentiate between "sensibilities" and "silly nonsense"... although there might be some adults who still can't do it. Of course, there are children who can't form the distinction but at least they can still go to their mommies and daddies to ask... and I hope they do - "Pa! There's this orang utan who can blog and say something I don't quite understand, please explain!"

"Oh...this fella is full of nonsense! My child, don't believe a single word he says!"

It is a different matter when my niece,who knows me in person (or at least the kind of person I project to her) reads my blog. What if all along she look towards me as that serious-no-nonsense-unable-too-lie role model (I doubt she regards me as such but just what if) She may regard everything I say here as the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth! And this will worry me a lot! I would imagine she mimic some of the expletives I use here, got a scolding from her mommy and with tears rolling down her cheeks, she defended "But Uncle Ape says that also what! To the whole world!" Gosh! Am I in serious trouble! Before I go any further, let me address some family issues...

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
To my niece, B (and niece R, nephew D, D, J... the whole lot of you!) whatever impression I cast on you in person, know that it will depend a lot on your age. There are things about me that I will never show you or talk to you... at least not while you're still young. However, do note that what I write in this blog goes out to all sorts of people. My assumptions are that most of these readers are adults and know when I'm joking, making sense, silly, sprouting nonsense etc and children who reads my blog are under parental guidance. So, if you do come across something that I write here, things where Ah Ma or Po Po will say "Aiyoh! This is so evil!", please don't be confused as to who is right or wrong... just ask me in person. I will most likely tell you Ah Ma or Po Po is correct.

Know this also, whatever impression you may have about me, know that whatever I say here CAN be wrong, silly or full of nonsense.
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Back to everyone...hmmm... I forgot what I want to say :p Or ya, about blogging. There are many things I would normally not say directly to any person in particular but in blogging, where the audience covers a lot more people, there is a slight different in that issues are no longer "personal" but more open.

For example, we take the case of a certain school teacher who announces his sexuality in his blog. Would he have said the exact same things in class to his male students? I doubt so. His "walking out of the closet" was addressed to people in general and the message I receive was "Do not hide your full potential just because you are not entirely normal".

Or taking an example from my own experience, there are certain friends who might feel very strongly about his religion. I may have my own believes and reservations about his religion but knowing how he would react, I will never discuss my views on his religion with him. However, that doesn't mean that I will not talk about his religion with anyone else.

... ... ...

I lost myself again... what was I trying to say? (another sign of old age?)... ya, ok. My point is, when you read a blog, please don't take it too personally... unless of course the blogger names you, shames you and made you look silly in front of the whole world.

26 October 2007

Memory Snapshots of Early Childhood

I better get started about my life story before Ras starts throwing Char Kway Teow or Chai Tau Kuay at me...whatever that means :p

Have you ever wondered how much do you remember about your early childhood? And how early or what is the first memory? At 4 years old? At 3 or 2 or even 1? I can only remember vividly of events in kindergarten 1, i.e. 5 years old onwards. I can also recall quite a number of events that happened when I was 4. Anything before that? I can only think of 3 "snapshots". I had no idea what they meant until my family and relatives filled me in when I'm older.

What are these 3 snapshots? The first is me looking over my shoulder at the corridor of my grandma's flat. My older brother was standing there, waving, pointing and shouting at me.

The second snapshot is one where I see the door of the private clinic below my grandma's flat opened and it seemed that someone was carrying me into the clinic.

The third is more like a 2 part short video clip. Part 1 - Grandma told me to stay and wait while she entered a bank. I turned around immediately to examine the fishes swimming in the water-landscape pond. Part 2 - I observed that the water line is right in front of me...and one of my slippers is floating right in front of me at eye level. A man was reaching out to grab my hand.

So what really happened? It's not difficult to guess the third scenario. Grandma and I went to the bank. Bank was crowded with a long queue (so are banks now) so I was told to wait outside. Right outside this bank was a small, simple, artificial landscape with a small little waterfall and a small little pond with small little fishes. And this small little ape was very excited about the small little fishes, inched out to took a closer look and fell into the pond :p

I remembered the bank was UOB because I visited that place many times after that as I grow older. And everytime I passed that place since that incident, I kept wondering why they have filled up the pond with cement? I missed those small little fishes.


What about the 2nd snapshot - clinic door? One of my uncles carried me into the clinic. Why? I fainted. Why? He caned me. Why? I wasn't paying attention when he was trying to coach me on some simple word recognition. I was to learn later that the doctor and my mum wanted to report him to the police but didn't do so eventually. FYI, that uncle of mine is not a child abuser. He was young then. I must have pissed him off terribly. I do not harbour any bad feelings about him, even after I came to be aware of what happened. I know he is truly sorry for what he did because all these years since then, I can sense that he is particularly nice to me amongst all his nieces and nephews. Maybe it was that particular incident that made me smarter (academically only) among my siblings and cousins :p

The first snapshot. Even without anyone telling me as I reflected on the first snapshot when I was older, I could tell that I was either in the carpark infront of my grandma's flat, at the bus stop or on the road. How old was I? What was I doing there? What was my brother shouting about?

Here's what my brother told me. He came out of my grandma's flat on the 3rd storey and stood at the corridor, looking across the road and into the school and the market opposite the flat. He saw a toddler, barely able to walk, making his way across the road! Hmmm...this child looks familiar, in fact, he looks like :O ?!?!?!?! So you know why he was shouting, pointing and waving. No one knew how I managed to sneak out of the house, walk down the stairs from the 3rd storey, past the coffeeshop directly below grandma's flat, cross the single lane carpark, crossed the bus stop (I must cross the bus stop because there was a drain between the carpark and the road and the bus stop was the only access to the road) and arrived in the middle of the road...undetected by anyone! Singaporeans really bochap?

Here goes the exciting part. At that moment, a public bus was coming my way (service 240 or 246?) The driver saw me, jammed on his brakes and brought the bus to a nasty stop. At about the same time, my brother managed to alert some of the adults (my uncles and grandma?) and they dashed towards the road only to find me...of course not dead la! Died how to write story here? They found me under the bus, safe and sound.

Many years after that, my father told me the road used to be served by Service 246. Because of that incident, SBS pantang (superstitious) and shifted 246 to run on another road. Service 240 replaced the route taken by 246. In anycase, if the uncle who drove that bus is reading this, please accept my sincere apologies...I was young and rash and have never intended to cause you any distress.

25 October 2007

It's Better To Accept The Legal Untidiness And The Ambiguity

HELP! HELP! Can someone explain to me what is PM Lee trying to say? Can someone tell me that I have read wrongly or misunderstood his statement?

Our current Prime Minister, who's father has always maintained that the integrity of the Government and the Singapore Law must never be undermined, said that it is better to accept the legal untidiness and the ambiguity with regards to Section 377A! (see here, here, here and here). He further went on to say that since it (I suppose he meant S377A) works, don't disturb it.

WA LAU!


Have you heard of this saying? "If it ain't broken, don't fix it!" I have been told countless times that such thinking is backward, old school of thought, reactive etc. I have been told countless times that we should actively seek areas for improvement, take some risks if necessary, don't sit and wait for the machine to fail before you act on it.

More About S377A and Gays

Sorry folks, I thought I want to stop ranting about this issue but the last parliament session made me want to cow peh some more. When I read the parliament speeches, it become obvious where the "poles" build their foundation.

Repeal 377A approaches it from "Clarity in Law Making".
Retain 377A approaches the topic from "Moral"

For sometime now, I have been looking at this issue on one side of the fence-the Repeal 377A side. I stand on the Repeal 377A side to listen to what BOTH sides have to say. The information I obtained from Repeal is loud and clear - Strength 5! The information I received from Retain 377A was like unreadable and noisy - Strength 1. There were too much clutter and interference for me to make out any sound reasonings.

So for the past few days, I move myself into the Retain 377A camp with the hope that the clutter and noise can be reduced so that I can obtained a less attenuated information from the Retain 377A camp.. True enough, I managed to filter out all the noise and found something intelligible there. Allow me to share my understanding here.

It is obvious to me that NMP Thio does not discriminate gays - she is merely objecting to the act of MSM (male to male sex). To put it simply in the way I understood (and I hope you understand too) is that it is fine if you acknowledge that you (male) are sexually attracted to another male. You can run around shouting "I am a gay! I am sexually attracted to another male!" and the police will not arrest you for that under S377A, although I think the police can arrest you for committing public nuisance under S268.

However, according to S377A, it is a crime if you (male) engage in sexual activity with another man. This means that gays are not criminals as long as they do not have sex with another male. To put it another way, a very direct and blunt way is this - if you (male) cannot have sex with a woman, don't have sex. :( Gays are not criminals as long as they remain celibate.

Still standing in the camp of Retain 377A, I turn my receiver back to the Repeal 377A side and I pick out this message "I do not choose to be a gay! I am like that! I was not influenced or made like that in any way!" I believe and acknowledge that these guys do not have a choice on their sexual preference. However I do believe that they have a choice on whether they want to have sex.

Another piece of intelligible information I obtained from NMP Thio is that S377A covers a heterosexual male experimenting with male sodomy. How I understood her reasoning is this. If a guy, a young teenage guy perhaps, probably still unsure about himself and his sexual preference, believe that the best way to proof his sexual preference it is to try it :O, probably S377A is the only defence he has before he says "Damn! Tak shiok and hurts like hell! I think I still prefer woman"

If I were to draw a two column table and place Retain 377A on one side and Repeal 377A on the other and list down the reasons for each column, "to deter males from experimenting with male sodomy" will be the only reason I can think of under Retain 377A.

So where do I stand now? Sidetrack abit first :P

Through my working life, I have been given opportunities to draft Standard Operating Procedures (SOP), Technical Orders or processes and procedures. To me, all such "guides" have to be clear, concise and easily understood. For every single statement, I always ask myself "can this be done?" and "does this serve any purpose?". When it comes to more serious "guides" such as Technical Orders, I take extra effort to eliminate ambiguities. Technical Orders are technical procedures that MUST be followed. Non-conformance to such orders would invite some form of reprisal. In other words, someone will get into trouble if he misunderstood what I wrote.

I look at the Penal Code and still feel that S377A has to be changed. It clearly include consensual sex between 2 male in private and yet gahmen says law enforcers will not bother them. Hello! People up there? If you want to keep it, do it and tell all gays to remain celibate. If you do not intend to arrest 2 males engaging in consensual sex in private, change the damn S377A such that a very specific case is excluded. Take a stand, a firm and clear stand because we are talking about the Penal Code. It is not just about making the Repeal 377A or Retain 377A camp happy, it is also about making the law enforcers happy, happy to know that exactly what has to and need not be enforced.

Please take sometime to read the parliament speeches by NCMP Sylvia Lim, NMP Siew Kum Hong, NMP Thio Li-Ann and MP Hri Kumar. I read their speeches from The Online Citizen but I'm sure you can find it elsewhere including Singapore Parliament Webiste.

For the sake of protecting the integrity of the Penal Code - Singapore's law, please amend S377A instead of simply retaining or repealing it.

22 October 2007

Introduction - Evolution of Kin Jio Leaf

It's time for evolution. If you notice, the Singapore Short Stories series has stopped. Until I get more creative again, I guess know it's time to move on and evolve The Kin Jio Leaf.

Like I mentioned earlier (here) I will move on to talk more about growing up in this tiny red dot call Singapore. If you are looking for a very critical and acute analysis, well, sorry to disappoint you. I'm a simple person talking about mundane affairs and most often, issues where the gahmen will have very little interest.

19 October 2007

Of Penal Code - Section 377A And Gays

Much has been said about Section 377A of the Penal Code, with strong support and rebuttal, from those who are for or against, the repealing of S377A.

You can probably guess how I view this matter (and probably which side of the fence I'm leaning towards) by following the links in the right bar I have in this blog. And I'm sure SingapuraDailyMakan did not mention anything about S377A...let me check...ya, nothing mentioned about s377A.

I do not wish to repeat the argument and views that can be found in the news papers or internet. However, I would like to share with you my personal experience when discussing this issue with my friends.

Anecdotal evidence, i.e. coffeeshop / teabreak chats with my friends, revealed that Singaporeans are still conservative in general. Most took the stand of "I'm not gay, I don't know any gay so it doesn't bother me AND it is better to leave S377A the way it is" In other words, they echoed the explanation given by PM Lee (here). I consider these people "neutral" towards S377A and gays.

There is also a few of my friends (3 actually) who do not sit on the fence. It is very easy to understand the position they take. The two who think S377A should be repealed are gays... at least I know for certain one of them is. The one who insists that S377A should stay, sad to say, has a misguided view about gays. By misguided, I mean he claims that gays are pedophiles, gays want to befriend you for the sole reason of engaging "act of gross indecency" with you, gays are like vampires - they've got "bitten" so now they want to spread the "gay virus" to you etc.

So what's my personal views about gays and S377A? I intend to share my views on these issues separately - 1) my personal views about gays, and 2) my personal views about s377A.

Prior to all these buzz on s377A and gays, I do not know any gays and has very little knowledge about what a gay is. My impression was that being gay is a choice and a heterosexual can be influenced to become a gay if he always mix around with ku-niangs (feminine males) or narcissist body builders or some "bad childhood". In other words, I thought a homosexual can be corrected. In any case, my stand was (and still is) very clear - be a gay all you want, just don't influence me or my family or people dear to me, to be one. You have your sexual preference, I have mine. Let's agree to not impose our sexual preference onto each other.

Now, having read more from the internet, I realised gays are as such not by choice nor influence...they simply are like that (Yawning Bread has 20 Questions that could perhaps share some light for those of you who have not set your perceptions in stone about gays). Of course one could argue that gays claim themselves to be born like that and not by choice or influence, just to serve their own cause. I'll leave it to you to decide for yourselves.


What's my view about Section 377A? Let us have a look at it first:-
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"Any male person who, in public or private, commits, or abets the commission of, or procures or attempts to procure the commission by any male person of, any act of gross indecency with another male person, shall be punished with imprisonment for a term which may extend to 2 years."
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If the decision is rest solely for me to decide, I will not repeal it. Instead, I will amend it to be like this:-
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S377A - Any male person who, in public or private, abets the commission of, or procures or attempts to procure the commission by any male person of, any act of gross indecency with another male person, shall be punished with imprisonment for a term which may extend to 2 years. (Note that "commits, or" has been deleted)

AND

S377B - Any male person who, in public, commits any act of gross indecency with another male person, shall be punished with imprisonment for a term which may extend to 2 years. (Note that "or private" and ", or abets the commission of, or procures or attempts to procure the commission by any male person of," has been deleted)
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I'm not trained in legal matters and have absolutely no idea how the statements would sound legally. I assume that by amending S377A as such, a male should not encourage another male to engage in homosexual activities through persuasion or monetary rewards. And by adding S377B as such, I assume that it means-do what you want in private and out of the sight of public.

But of course I am in no position to amend the Penal Code and certainly no one can amend the Penal Code without considering the impact it has on the general public.

So, as of the current state of affairs, where do I stand with regards to the S377A? Did I sign the Online Petition? Did I sign the Parliament Petition? Well, I signed the online petition...after much thoughts. I was reluctant initially because it was to repeal S377A. The entire S377A will be removed if the petition is successful. I don't think that is a good idea. To be honest with you, like gays who choose to be honest with their sexual preference... on S377A, I stand on the same side with PM Lee, with particular consideration to the last statement he made...

"As of today, my judgement is: the society is comfortable with our position. Leave the clause (alone). What people do in private is their own business; in public, certain norms apply." (here again, bold inserted by me, that is the "bold" not the words in bold :p)

11 October 2007

Little Things To Keep Marriage Alive

Been married for 7 years...do I get the 7 years itch? Well, the politically and sound answer would be - no. The truth is...still no. How do couples keep their marriage alive? Well, I dunno how other couples do it...but here's how we do it - do things we enjoy together! (wa lau! so cliche) :p

Ok, ok, I know it is difficult, especially when both of us have to work and after work, we're dead tired. A bit fortunate for us is that we're weekend parents but still, there's a fair bit of domestic affairs we have to take care of. So, on a day to day basis, we devote a bit of time to have fun - like play on-line games. Here's a picture of us. We were actually travelling from Victoria Island to Orbis, on a giant bird. I'm a magician/cleric, can heal you know. Wifey is a warrior/spearwoman...see that fierce looking spear she carries? Dun pray pray...
We enjoyed this game cos there's no blood and gore (wimps!) which means when our children are older, we can play with them also. Besides that, the monsters that we're supposed to kill aren't fierce and evil looking and it's kinda cute when they got hit...tears actually came out of their eyes...awwww.
The game is fairly simple to play and there's loads of fun there. Most importantly, it's not strenuous physically or mentally playing this game. So it's definitely an activity we can both enjoy doing together after a hard days work.

Gotta go now...wifey's waiting for me to start some fun...

10 October 2007

Plan Before You Buy

I was reading the 10 Oct issue of my paper (Wo bao) where my paper reporter Christine Li conducted an exclusive interview with National Development Minister Mah Bow Tan with regards to residential properties, mainly HDB.

(tried to find the article in the internet so that you can read in full details but couldn't...the closest i got to was this)

The reporter posted 6 questions to the Minister. The first question was this (if you trust my translation skills),

"Will public housing (HDB flats) become very expensive? Are the younger people be able to afford them?"

The Minister's response was,

"In the latest sale of Coral Spring, a 4 room flat cost between $188,000 and $252,000. Taking $250,000 as reference, assuming the buyer paid 10% deposit, the remaining 90% (i.e. $225,000) on a concessionary loan rate of 2.6% interest with HDB for 30 years, the monthly installment will be $900 which can be paid using CPF Ordinary Account (OA). In general, the OA is 23% of monthly income. If a couple has a total household income of $4000, their OA should have $920 a month. Thus, there is no need to fork up any additional cash to furnish the loan. As to the initial $25,000, the couple's OA would be enough if they worked for about 2 years.... ...they do not need to fork out additional cash... ...70% of HDB applicants do not need to fork out additional cash..."

There are 5 other questions that talk about the $8,000 limit, not enough HDB flats, smaller HDB flats and competition with private residential developers.

I just want to focus on the first question here. Should anyone jump to the conclusion that they are ready to purchase a HDB flat base on the scenario given by the Minister...don't. Please spare a few moment to consider a bit more. The scenario provided by the Minister is not flawed... as long as everything turns out smoothly as planned.

Consider the following, assuming you and your spouse are earning a total of $4,000 since 2 years ago. You would not have any problems purchasing a $250,000 flat, right? At least, you don't have to pay the 10% deposit (or do you call it downpayment?) with cash since your OA should have enough.

Ask yourself this - will you (both) continue to draw the same pay, no more, no less, for the next 30 years? Assuming the answer is yes...how much will you have to meet the CPF minimum sum? Most likely your pay may change over 30 years and more likely it will increase..but what if it doesn't? Or suay suay one of you loose the job and remained unemployed for months or even years? Can anyone guarantee the worse case scenario will not happen?

Ask yourself also this, what if the concessionary loan rate changes, say downwards? Everyone happy :) but what if it changes upwards? Do you have enough savings/cash to top it up? Can anyone guarantee the worse case scenario will not happpen?

Finally ask yourself this - what if the 23% contribution to OA changes...downwards? Do you think when such a case happens you will be able to take the difference in cash? How do you cope with your loan now? Can anyone guarantee the worse case scenario will not happpen?

And the final bit of his answer...70% do not need to fork out additional cash. Are all of them able to meet the minimum sum later? What about the remaining 30%? Did they commit to a huge loan, lost their job or suffered pay cut later such that they need to top up with cash? Perhaps they wanted to have more in their CPF OA to meet the minimum sum?

My point is THINK - Don't take everything on face value. PLAN ahead, such that you won't need to suffer later.

09 October 2007

Silly Short Stories - Kena Slapped?

During the Year 2003 National Day Rally, the then PM Goh mentioned about a story involving a certain Minister slapping a fellow Minister. PM Goh said "I must be suffering from amnesia. I just cannot remember this incident!" Well, I don't think he is suffering from amnesia because the incident didn't happen...
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According to the records in The Kin Jio Leaf, the ministers gathered for their regular afternoon meetings. Now, normally in the meeting the coffee boy called Koh Pee Buoy would prepare the drinks (be it coffee, kopi, teh, teh susu etc) for all of them. On that particular day, Pee Buoy was on medical leave.

"What! For the last 30 years he has never reported sick!"

"What's going to happen to my Kopi Oh?"

"and my Teh Susu?"

"I will not be able to think without my Earl Grey..."

Everyone started to panic...well almost everyone except the wisest among them all.
"Gentlemen, the world will laugh at us if we cannot get things done just because we're going to miss our afternoon tea... just get another fella"

And so, they proceeded with their meeting while someone went to get someone to make prepare the drinks. That someone's someone was Poon Lar Par. After being told what the ministers normally like to drink, he went to prepare and serve them. At this point, there was a heated argument over a certain policy where a certain young minister argued with 2 older ministers. Well, arguments in meetings are normal but Poon Lar Par was a bit buay song because he always thought that old people must be respected...how can the young upstart talk back to the elderlies like that? Boh tua boh suay! After serving all the ministers, Lar Par left for the canteen for his own tea break. He met his colleague who's also his trusted childhood friend, Soh Tong and started to tell! "Wah you know har...that young minister! How can he? He think he work so long and can talk back like that!" Lar Par ranted.

"Young minister? Long? Who?" Soh Tong asked.

"Ya la! Who he think he is? He long, people longer! Kena lan!"

"Who? Did you mean Loong or Hu? And who is Lan?"

"Aiyoh! Are you listening or not...that young chap talk back like that. His father never teach ah? Should be slapped man!"

"Who slapped who?!?!..."

"Ya la! The way he talk har, it's like a slap in the old men's face you know...eh, I gotta go, I think the meeting is over. I have to clear up...if not Pee Buoy come back tomorrow I sure kena slap by him"

That night, Soh Tong went out with his neighbour, Poh Sim Boon, to the nearby kopitiam for some kopi and smoke. Well, their wife don't allow them to smoke in the house so they went to the kopitiam to smoke lor...moreover kopitiam got Tiger Show mah...Ya la, Aunty Show who serves Tiger beer.

"So,Tong, how's it like working in the midst of all these big people?"

"Like that lor, I do my work, they do theirs"

"Any juicy stories, huh? Must have la! Heard anything or not..eh I heard they wanna ban smoking in kopitiam, really ah?"

"Huh? Wat? I wasn't listening...I was thinking about wat my friend told me this afternoon"

"What what! Say leh!"

"Well, Lar Par told me something about someone kena slap"

"Who? Who kena slap? By who? What? Where? When? Why? How?"

"I dunno...he said something about a young minister slap old minister..dunno wat long and who and lan...aiyah! I dunno la, don't tell har...wait I kena sack"

"I know already! The young minister must be Loong, who slapped Dhanabalan who sided with R. Hu!"

"How you know?"

"Who else got name containing Loong, Lan or Hu!"

"Oi! I never say that hor. No la, no la...I also dunno what happened! Dun anyhow say hor, som par, som par!"

"Donch worry, I WILL NEVER TELL ONE, I, POH SIM BOON, swear that if I anyhow tell, I'll never get to see my CPF!"
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Well, so you see, that was how the rumours got started...to quote the words from PM Goh's speech - "
Now you know how creative Singaporeans are!"

04 October 2007

Some Interesting Links

Got the following from Flo (Thanks, Flo). It's for those who lives through and remembers the 60s. Most of it relating to America, and some were international news... sit back and enjoy the music, if not the visuals

http://moreoldfortyfives.com/TakeMeBackToTheSixties.htm



This other made me laugh non-stop. Actually, there's more, like Samurai and Moscow. I first saw it in Mr Brown's blog. Those who put in the subtitles must be damn eng or very creative!

My loony bun is fine Benny Lava

02 October 2007

Happy Birthday, Trixie!

Today's my 4 years old daughter's birthday. So I've decided to dedicate today's blog to her....

Mommy and papa had not planned to be parents...we did not want to have any children initially. Not that we wanted more time and enjoyment for ourselves. Just that, firstly, we're not those going all mushy over children. We don't go "oooh...isn't she cute...coo-chee-coo-chee-cooo" or "oorrrr, look at this handsome young boy, give me a big big hug...oorrr, you'll grow up to be a fine young man". No, we're not like that but that doesn't mean we hate kids. Considering the ever rising living cost in Singapore and the fact that we don't go head-over-heels over children, we questioned ourselves if we can be reasonably good parents (I'm not even thinking about GREAT, just reasonably good). We thought about this question before we got married. We thought about this question after we got married. However, we did not come to a conclusion until about a year before our dear daughter is born. It may surprise you but our conclusion was not to have any children...but we did...because, like I said, rising cost of living made condoms and birth control pills expensive :p so...

When wifey got signs that she might be pregnant (if you dun know what the signs are, it means you're still a minor...run along, go suck on a chupa chups or do what kids normally do...), we went to the gynae for confirmation. We were apprehensive and kept asking ourselves what if? skarly? how then? but all the uncertainties left my mind the moment I saw the tiny beating heart on the screen of the ultrasound machine... I beamed with a broad smile, brighter than the sunflower, bubbling with joy that I almost want to burst. IT'S A LIFE! I shouted in my heart like Dr Frankenstein when he awaken his Frankenstein .

Before anyone gets any funny ideas about Trixie, here's a picture of her and she's no Frankenstein. Orrrh...isn't she cute...coo-chee-coo-chee-cooo...I was sold that very moment to my daughter. The what if? skarly? how then? were still hanging over mommy's head. I had to stand up straight and give her all the assurance that even if the sky drop, I'll shoulder it. Well, with those kind of assurance, we cast all doubts away and focus on bringing a great life into this world (Come to think of it now, I think wifey has no doubts that she too was sold the moment she saw the ultrasound image but I think she pretended to be uncertain so that she'll get an edge over me :p)

Like all first time parents, we were all excited over the first pregnancy. We read any books we could find, we asked any relatives and friends on all that needs to be known, we consulted the gynae and even sought some spiritual guidance. It was particular challenging to both of us because we were doing part time courses (remember? we decided not to have and thus went to upgrade ourselves? or rather, I was oreadi doing my part time degree, wifey took on more courses). We had to juggle time between workplace, school and clinic. In a way, it was fortunate that I was doing my final year for my degree and one of the subjects was biology...naturally, I was very attentive on topics about pregnancy.

Everytime we visit the gynae, we asked about the progress of the fetal development "Doc, er, is the baby healthy? good? normal? everything ok?"... and everytime, the doc would reply "huh? you want to know the sex ah? girl la...oh?! Ok la, healthy lor, good lor, normal la" Well, we dun mind knowing the gender and we dun mind if we have a boy or a girl...most importantly, she's healthy and happy. As we're nearing to her delivery date, everything seemed to move a lot faster... we had to get a cot, milk bottles, strollers, steamers, baby clothes, powder, shampoo, bath foam, bath tub, diapers,blankets etc on top of juggling between work, school and clinic. The one most important task though, is getting the name. It has to sound nice, in all forms of dialect, looks nice, means nice...and eventually, we settled with Trixie which means Bringer of Joy... (in case you are wondering, you live up to your name, Trix!)

My wife completed her part time studies before the due date but papa had to carry on with assignments and prepare for exams during the expected delivery date. Unfortunately I was down with shingles about a week before delivery date :( Shingles meant that I won't be able to enter the delivery room and I won't be able to carry my Trixie when she is born :( Trixie's expected due date was 1st Oct and doc advised that if by the 5th she's not ready to be out yet, we may have to go for a C-Section or induce labour-Trixie was getting too big for wifey to handled afterall. That very night after we consulted doc, wifey and I went to catch a night movie, Infernal Affairs Part 3, I think. Returned home, bathed and sleep, as usual. It was about 2a.m. when wifey woke me up and told me her bag burst :o !!! So, we called our doctor and took a cab to the hospital. It wasn't until 3 am when the delivery room was prepared. Since I was not allowed to enter the delivery room (shingles, remember?), wifey decided to go for C-Section. She was worried about not being able to go through natural birth without me by her side...what if the pain was more than she can bear and she need to hit/bite/slap someone? She can't possibly do those on the medical team, right? She can only do that on her husband, right? She can't do that if I'm not there, right?

BTW, for those of you who do not know what's a C-section (Caesarean Section), it's delivery via surgical incision on the abdomen and uterus to bring the baby out. BTW, I've watched a video clip somewhere in the internet where they video record the entire process and another that shows natural delivery :| both have the same effect of making me loose appetite and skip meals. For this reason, I did not put the link here...go search the internet yourself.

All I could do was to sit in the waiting room and...wait...hello?!?! Waiting Room! Well, indeed I waited...and waited...and waited... "Mr Ape, you can go in now!" the mi-si (nurse) informed me.
"Baby's out? Where?"
"No, you can go into the temporary ward, while we prepare the operating theatre. Go talk to your wife"
"... ... ..."

It has not even started yet and I had waited for just 10 minutes. So I went to talk to wifey and did what men would do in such situation - behave like a duck, that is, appear calm on the surface but paddle like hell. The temporary ward (I think there's a more proper description but I can't recall) is where all very-soon-mothers-to-be wait for the most appropriate time to be shipped into the delivery room and start that "push! push! puuuuush!" routine. In the case of wifey, wait for the operating theatre to be prepared for the C-section.

Finally, when everything had been prepared, I was made to go into the waiting room again and waited. I think it was about half an hour later, mi-si came to me and told me I can see my daughter. After being assured of the health of both mother and child, I proceeded inside to introduce myself to our daughter. Trixie's a beauty and my only regret was that I could not carry her (shingles, shingles! damn!). If it wasn't for the shingles, I would have held her up and kissed her. Surprisingly, I didn't hear her cries. She was just staring back at me, perhaps trying to figure out who's this guy. I spoke to her softly, introducing myself, explained the theory of evolution, the philosophy of Socrates, history of China... (don't tell me you believe all these).

Mi-si returned by the time I just completed the History of Kin Jio Leaf. She took some measurement such as head circumference but was faced with stiff resistance from Trixie. Trix actually managed to grasp the measuring tape and engage in a tug-of-war with the mi-si...spirited eh? When she lost to mi-si, she cried, a very sounding cry but only for a short while. That was the first time I hear her voice.

Shortly after, Trix was sent to the nursery while wifey to the ward where I met her there. She's tired, certainly. So was I. Good thing was, there was a couch beside her bed so I rested there till about 6 a.m. when I was chased out by another mi-si. Kissed my wife and went home to prepare for the new life!

28 September 2007

Musings - Do We Have Soul?

"...We have lost sight of the joy and excitement of public service, helping our fellow men. The joy and excitement of seeking and understanding of the joy of the miracle of the living the duty and the grandeur. We have lost taste for heroic action in the service of our people...." (see here)

I was reading the blog by DPYadav. He posted the interview he had with David Marshall. You can find out more by following the link.

I haven't got down to reading everything, yet. I came across this paragraph and another before that - questioning our soul. I have always felt that living in Singapore is Good but somehow, I also feel that something is missing. The missing link keeps nagging at me and forbidding me from rating Singapore as Great. At times, it even seems to suggest that I need to rate Singapore as Average. I can't find fault with Singapore yet I don't feel any particularly strong attachment to this country. Why is that so? So what is this missing link?

27 September 2007

Mid Autumn Festival

Mid Autumn Festival has just passed us this year. It's celebrated by Chinese on the 15th of the 8th month of the Lunar Calendar...the day when the moon is supposedly the roundest and brightest. Many people (Chinese included) who are not so into the Chinese culture may thought that this festival is called Mooncake or Lantern Festival. This is because we eat mooncakes and carry lanterns on this day.


Some relate the Mid Autumn Festival to a particular event in the Chinese History when rebels rose to topple the corrupt emperor. They pass secret messages hidden in mooncakes. So much for my knowledge of Chinese history :p However, the significance of Mid Autumn Festival is actually to have family union, sharing it with people you love - you know, round moon, round table, equality, gatherings, togetherness...

Well, on that day, had dinner with family and as usual, led some children downstairs to carry lanterns and play sparkles....and something hilarious happened... Ok, I admit that there's nothing particularly funny about this picture. What happened was my nieces (the one in pink stripes and the other in blue) were posing for the phototaking. I was preparing the lantern for my daughter. Wifey was the photographer. At the count of 3, at the precise moment when the picture was snapped, I happened to extend the lantern and covered on of the beauties.

Celebrating Mid Autumn Festival can be fun...and dangerous. Most people (adults especially, and certainly police and fireman) would have been happy by just walking around with lanterns. The children and teenagers would be more creative - they'll start lighting candles in a row, set off sparklers, throw it into the air, let it hang on trees etc ... potential killer litter or arson. Over the years, I've seen lanterns burn, tress burn, clothes burn etc because the kids lack adult supervision when playing with fire.

Do have fun, but don't let celebrations turn into tragedy. OK, this is what it should have been...

25 September 2007

Singapore Short stories - The Chengal Tree

Sometime back in Aug 2002, Habitatnews, in response to URA's invitation to the Rustic Coast Draft Concept Plan, discovered a Hopea Sangal tree in Changi. It was the tree that was believed to have given Changi it's name. The Hopea Sangal tree was believed to be extinct, so naturally, it gained a lot of excitement within the botanical community. I suppose historians were equally excited since this tree was related to the naming of Changi. Unfortunatly, it was felled by a property developer on 20 Nov 2002. Subsequently, the developer was fined and ordered to pay to the state for illegally falling the tree. Prior to the discovery of Hopea Sangal, some other types of trees were also thought to have given the name to Changi. One in particular was known as The Changi Tree and was believed to the intricately tied to the fate of Singapore during World War 2.
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According to the Kin Jio Leaf, in 1942, with the threat of WW2 coming to Singapore, the British army believed that the Japanese army would use it as a marker for artillery fire at the military buildings around the Chengal Tree. (Apparently, they depended on the Monkeys for the intelligence gathering). So they decided to take down the tree, with explosives. (Wa lau! Explosives is to be used on the enemy not on trees! Don't they know what's a chainsaw, obviously, another stupid suggestion by the Monkeys Evil or Very Mad ).

We, the orangutans, objected to this move because we know that the Japanese were using GPS oreadi (Yes, Ground Peanuts System, you just sprinkle some peanuts on the ground and the artillery shells will find its way there) so they don't need the Chengal Tree as marker. More importantly, the Chengal Tree had deep roots in Singapore and it's life was intrinsically tied to that of Singapore.

Well, the British didn't believe and went ahead to take the tree down...and eventually, Singapore had fallen into the hands of the Japs. Good thing was, we managed to save a seed and planted it in Changi. It took years before we can even see the seedling sprout - it's a special tree afterall Razz and so the years passed by. The Japs surrendered, the British balik kampong, Singapore merged with Malaya, Singapore got kicked out of Malaysia and Singapore gained independence...at the same time when the seedling grew to a young tree and need not depend on our tender loving care and can survive on its own. (Makes me feel like a proud parent watching his child grown to be a man Crying or Very sad ). However, like I mentioned, since the Changi Tree is intrinsically tied to the fate of Singapore, how did Singapore flourished in a leap while the tree grew slowly?

Well, although we planted that one special seed, there were also several not-so-special seeds from the Changi Tree. By itself, those seeds would not flourish (not enough special power, ya?). So, we place them all into a single spot and let them compete naturally. If there'll be one that manages to outgrow the others, by itself, proving survival of the fittest, it will be stronger and largi more powderful than the one special seed that received our tender loving care.

Somehow, the Monkeys got wind of it and wanted to disrupt our plans. They went to psycho the gahmen and ensure that those seeds would never grow. They made an elaborate proposal to the gahmen to build an airport around there. Well, airport has many aircrafts and tall structures are not allowed except certain predefined place. That got us worried, very worried indeed. Fortunately, the Khirsah then was very smart - if the monkeys can sway the gahmen, so can we. Eventaully, he managed to convince the gahmen to build a Singapore icon, the Changi Tower, right at the spot where we planted the seeds. As luck would have it, the seeds grew into saplings, the roots tied to the foundation of the Changi Tower and grew along with it. (Some magic happen there la, don't ask me why the Changi Tower don't have leaves and branches la, it's magic ok?)

The result is more than what we had intended-not only do all the not-so-special seeds managed to grow, they grew to be much taller and faster than what they could have been. And so, Singapore's growth sprinted like the Changi Tower or Tree...whichever way you want to call it.

18 September 2007

Singapore Short Stories - Japanese Occupation

In World War II, Japan invaded China in 1937 to bolster it’s meager stock of natural resources and extend it’s colonial realm, to ease it’s population pressure. Subsequently, the Empire of Japan advanced into Southeast Asia and eventually attacked Singapore (a major British military base in SE Asia) in 7 Feb 1942.
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According to The Kin Jio Leaf, the real motive behind the Japanese Imperial Army’s invasion was to find the elusive Banana Leaf Fan (芭蕉扇) owned by Princess Iron Fan (铁扇公主).
The Banana Leaf Fan, which originated from China was somehow delivered to Japan and was use to repel the Mongol invasion of Japan during 1274-1281. Storms (Divine Wind) were created using the Banana Leaf Fan to repel the Mongol’s navy.

Many years later, the Banana Leaf Fan was lost and the Japanese thought that it must have returned to China. Thus they invaded China to search for it. They found Panda and His Diaper Bears and their sacred text The Bamboo Shoots where it indicated that further south, there is a clan called Khirsah and His Hairy Apes who owns The Kin Jio Leaf. Thinking that The Kin Jio Leaf is the Banana Leaf Fan, the Japanese Imperial Army diverted south and attacked Singapore. It was due to this reason, The Kin Jio Leaf faced a shortage of banana leaves yet again. It was also during this trying period, the Khirsah then had to retreat further into the forest with his fellow orang utans and in the process, lost quite a few leaflets from The Kin Jio Leaf.

The Imperial Japanese Army had to keep this particular mission as top secret so as not to let anyone know their vulnerability. However, they also need to remind their soldiers of their primary objective thus they printed currencies with motifs of banana tree. These notes became more commonly know as banana money. The print of banana money was without serial money and uncontrolled which resulted in high inflation and severe depreciation of it’s value.

For 3 years and 8 months, the Japanese army searched frantically for The Kin Jio Leaf and hoping that it would provide some clues to locate the Banana Leaf Fan. Their secret police, Kempeitai, questioned and tortured the locals for the location of Khirsah and His Hairy Apes but no one knew. Needless to say, those who knew the real objective were executed. The Khirsah then had wanted to step out of the forest to prevent further lost of lives but he knew the Japs wanted to locate the Banana Leaf Fan but the Kin Jio Leaf do not have that information. He had contemplated sabo-ing the monkeys and tell the Japanese that the monkey's sacred text, The Coconut Husks, would have the record but like they say…Tree Fell Monkey Scram (树倒猢狲散)… all the monkeys had disappeared also. So, surrendering themselves would not help in any way but exterminate the Khirsah clan. The banana trees were not spared though…the Japs cut down every banana tree they can find, Pontianak or no Pontianak, they came, they sawed and they eat bananas.

When the Allies counter attacks became more intensive, the Japs had no choice but to create their own Divine Wind (Kamikaze) without the Banana Leaf Fan by making their pilots go on suicidal mission…with little success. Eventually, the Japanese surrendered on 15 Aug 1945.

Even now, no one knows where is the Banana Leaf Fan.…

13 September 2007

Mr Bombastic

Introduce Mr Bombastic...isn't he kind of cool? Sent to me by Frog Prince...thanks Froggie. I was told his afro can keep bags and bags of peanuts...my favourite. Alas, that's not an orang utan but a monkey...snow monkey, I think...I'm not too close to the monkey clans.
I hope everyone remembers...orang utans are not monkeys...orang utans belong to the Great Apes...like gorillas and chimpanzees :p

Singlish...Uniquely Singaporean

Saw tis girl helping out at the coffee stall and totally clueless at the way we ordered our drinks. She's an FT from China, can speak very good mandarin and fairly good in english but simply cannot understand what we ordered...I was queuing behind 3 people who happened to be an Indian, Malay and local Chinese...

"Teh susu, please...not so thick"

"Teh tarik satu, kopi kosong satu"

the order from the Indian and Malay was still quite simple and direct. It became challenging when the Chinese place his order,

"Kopi si puay, yat pui dai pui, tak kiew sua, teh kosong gao"

A language (or slang for those who prefers it that way) that we use so commonly and taken for granted can be totally alien to the uniniated. Allow me to dissect the orders placed.

The most common hot beverages we have in a typical kopitiam (coffeeshop) are coffee and tea. In Singlish, these are known as kopi and teh respectively. Even a simple "teh" can sound a bit different if spoken by a Chinese or a Malay or Indian. Now, let's take it a bit further... we can have coffee/tea with milk or without milk. Normally, if you ask for kopi/teh, you'll be served with coffee/tea with milk. If you don't want milk, you should say kopi/teh Oh... I'm not exactly certain but I guess Oh comes from hokkien Or which means black. Now, let's come back to the Indian's order "Teh susu, please...not so thick!" Susu is a Malay word for milk. The Indian could have just asked for Teh but he added susu as confirmation that he wanted tea with milk. The addition of susu is more often used by non-Chinese or ang mor educated Chinese (I'll tell you more about the usage of "ang mor" or "ang moh" in another posting).

Now, let's explore the order placed by the Malay - "Teh tarik satu, kopi kosong satu". Remember? Teh is tea...with milk, right? So what is tarik? It is a malay word for "pull". I don't know who invented teh tarik but I got the impression that it originated from Indian-Muslim sarabat stall). It is tea (with milk) with lots of foam on its surface like...cuppacino. The foam is created by pouring the tea to and fro the cup and the mug several times, thus creating the frothy top. The process of pouring requires the "pourer" to increase the distance between cup and mug, giving an impression that he is "stretching" or pulling the tea. (Good thing that the stall owners do not adopt the method from cuppacino or we might see him placing a straw into your tea and starts blowing bubbles into it :P ) Back to the topic, the Malay also mentioned satu which means one. So what she actually ordered was one tea-with-milk-with-frothy-top. Now, she also ordered kopi kosong satu. By now, you should know what is kopi and satu but what the heck is kosong? Kosong is a malay word for zero or none (correct me if I'm wrong, my friends). What she meant was she wanted black coffee without sugar...

Kopi
is coffee with milk and sugar, Kopi Oh is black coffee with sugar and Kopi kosong is black coffee without milk and sugar.

Now, the real challenge came from the Chinese because his statement consists of malay, hokkien and cantonese...and some kopitiam code. It's not that he was trying to be difficult but that's how Singlish is spoken sometimes, especially when you're involved in a conversation with people from different races and backgrounds. Now, let's dissect it piece by piece...

"Kopi si puay..."
kopi
- a malay word for coffee
si
- hokkien for the number four. One, two, three, four - jit, neng, sa, si (hold on a second here, hokkien and teochew has many similarities yet there could be several variations of saying the same thing such as for the number one, it can be jit or yeo, or yoh...)
puay - hokkien for cup

"yat pui dai pui..."
yat pui -
is one cup in cantonese.... and dai pui is "big cup" (yes, we have regular size coffee and large size coffee like any fastfood restaurants. This time round, he had switched to cantonese because his cantonese friend had requested for a bigger cup of coffee...with milk. That distraction cause to to temporary switch to cantonese mode)

"tak kiew sua..." -
Basically this is in hokkien (although I dun know the origin of sua, perhaps comes from jit lang jit puah, kum jeng beh suay) and this is one of the many coffeeshop "codes". Tak kiew in hokkien means "kick ball". It originates from the beverage Milo because of it's TV advertisement showing footballers drinking milo! (Do you recall? "It's marvelous what milo can do for you!) and sua indicates that he wanted two cups.

"teh kosong gao
" I hope you haven't forgotten what is teh kosong? So what is "gao"? A hokkien term that means "thick"...no sugar, no milk but thick tea...like espresso, only it's tea.

Phew...I'm a bit lost myself. There's a lot more to Singlish and I've only touched on the tip of the ice-berge. At least, I hope you'll not fret should you need to get your morning cup of coffee at our local coffeeshop..."Aunty! Kopi Oh jit phuay!"

P/S Teh tarik, cappuccino and kopiccino are all different drinks....ever tried "dinosauar"?