Today after my medical appointment driving home, I had an incident with a driver on the road. Shall not share too many details to allow the necessary process to take place, and at the same time, I am also not a fan of sharing videos online to shame others, although I think that thought did come to mind and it might be necessary if I am unable to seek recourse through proper channels. I hope I don’t have to come to that, and I am also confident that I don’t have to. Posting videos online to me should be the last resort when you have exhausted all other means. In fact, most of the time, I would not want to do something like that.
Yet, these days, there are many sites that sprung up leveraging on this new culture. I think it comes with its own pros and cons.
Anyway, after this period of working from home, I decided that the internet is too slow and upgraded it. I have heard recently that the weather is very warm at night. So how are these two things related? Answer: It affects the poor more.
Some families may not be able to afford what they need with this new working from home arrangement. And they may not have air conditioning at home. Every shift in society impacts them much more than the rich who has a buffer. I hope that Singaporeans can remember that we have a lot of people that we can help within our own backyard as well, as we look overseas to contribute towards humanitarian efforts. I am not saying that going overseas to volunteer is a bad thing. But it should not be done as a trendy thing. It doesn’t make sense to me when we are the best person to help underprivileged locals, knowing the culture and support system in place and the first place we look to is overseas. Although I think it is also true that our poorest cannot really be compared to the poorest of other poor countries, and hence may be more in need of help.
So what do you prefer? Serving in local communities or overseas? Why?
I got a little shocked at the date today. It is already 11 August, few more days to my birthday. And this whole year just went past like that. Honestly, while I wish for it to faster end, it would also mean that I would have lesser time to prepare for my studies.
Today has been a really busy day. This is appraisal time of the year and honestly, there isn’t really much to talk about since it has been quiet this year. And as usual, I face the same problem at appraisal. Let me elaborate.
Sometimes, or rather many times, I was asked how did I make an impact. However, the impact that I have made are often made known to me via private conversations. Most people wouldn’t publicly affirm you, perhaps it is an Asian thing. I do understand that there must be concrete evidence for me to put something up for appraisal, but to divulge private conversations between me and others seems to be a little weird. Just imagine my colleague may have come to me and affirmed me that I have made an impact with my latest project during our conversation. The next thing you know, he/she is being approached by my boss and asked: So Ben told me that you said that his initiative has made a great impact on you. Is that right?
Or imagine being asked for an example of how you demonstrated your ability to influence and inspire others and you mention that you are often asked to give advice. The only problem is that it is a private conversation and the person seeking your advice may not want others to know.
Now, wouldn’t that seem a little weird to quote this, although it is a valid example?
Another reason why I hate appraisal is that it makes me feel like I am interviewing for an events planner job.
Well, I am just ranting. At the end of the day, I know that there are limitations as to how we conduct appraisals. Sometimes, it may even seem to be going through motion. Like I have said before and I say it again, an appraisal can bring you closer to an organisation, it can also drive you further away. And it doesn’t even matter if you are appraised well or not. I would feel rather absurd if I am being praised for things that are entirely false. And I would think that those people don’t really know me as a person, even if the feedback is a positive one.
I would like to conclude this post positively, just in case anyone thought that the one I had was a disaster today, I have to make it clear that it was not. In fact, I have been through worse. Today was fine. So what’s one thing that I really like about appraisals? It is the opportunity to know how well you are doing. I think feedback is very important and I always welcome them. I may not accept them after consideration, but I will always listen to them.
Just like how one of my juniors told me: You always ask for feedback but you seem so defensive! I try not to be. But you really cannot expect me to simply change my mind instantly just because you shared something with me. I argue, so as to see if your view is strong enough to withstand an attack before I adopt it. It is a necessary test of strength to any idea. So don’t take it personally. =)
Today, I met my former OC from Apache again. We had a chat, and it was nice talking to him in another capacity. I told him that I still remember what he taught me and I am grateful for it. Then I told him that he had actually done me some bad because of the standard that he set, it actually made me disappointed when I entered OCS. I shared with him that I did not complete the course and I shared with him why. He told me that sometimes, it is actually the trainer, which I agree. But all these are in the past, and although it is still regretful that I did not complete the course, I think it has made me a better person. At least now I understand things a lot better. Again, how to be a wise old man if you haven’t been young and foolish?
I do not want to share too much about our conversation to protect his privacy and mine. But I just want to share that it is a wise decision for both of us to have bought insurance for our child, although to be honest, I don’t know if mine can be claimed. Sometimes, I wonder why would something happen to a good person like him. And sometimes, I wonder if there is really God. And if there is, then why would all these happen?
But I cannot blame anyone, even God. Because I myself have said that if I have to choose between character and health, I would choose the character. Although at some point in time now I do question my choice. Then again, it is really not up to us to choose. Some people can have bad character and poor health at the same time. This is life. Some are born with HIV, no fault of their own, but still, they take whatever cards they are dealt with and they make the best out of it.
Anyway, recently I have been looking out for Nursing courses so that I can help to manage the health of my daughter. However, the only part-time course that I can find is at a degree level, which is a little overkill for me. Also, although I think auscultation is a good skill to learn, there aren’t any courses on this as well. Wondering if I should write to MOH to suggest that they set up some courses on this as this will also help National Security and Resilence.
Today while discussing Kaelyn’s insurance with my wife, an interesting question came to mind: Does the payout of the child’s insurance belongs to the parents or the child if there is a payout due to a health condition and the child is still alive?
Assuming it belongs to the child, so there is nothing wrong if I use it to benefit the child, right? But as a parent, I am responsible for her basic needs. This is stipulated by law. Hence, does it make sense for me to use her insurance payout to provide for her basic necessities? Because by doing so, I am essentially pushing my responsibilities to her when I am supposed to be responsible for it.
How about I don’t spend this money, be it on her or on myself. But instead, I keep the money for her. I decided to keep this money into a bank account which generates a good amount of interest. But the good amount of interest offered is only because of me being a customer. It is not an interest rate that is offered to anyone else. Does the interest then belongs to me or does it belongs to the child? Or should I pay the child a market rate interest?
And if we were to say that the money belong to the parents, since without the parents who bought the insurance in the first place, there wouldn’t be a payout. I am sure many would agree that there seem to be some moral issue if the parent were to spend all the money away and be left with nothing for the child.
Of course, you might think that it is not necessarily to think about this since parents usually have the best interest for their child at heart. But what if this time round, it is a legal guardian? By Singapore law, minors who received an inheritance will not get the money until they reach a certain age. Before that, the money is being held in trust by the state. The state will invest the money on behalf of the child and the interest belongs to the child. However, they take a small percentage of the profits as a fee. The guardians can request for withdrawal of the money so as to provide for the child. However, there are certain grey areas about this, and I am sure in movies we have seen extreme examples being illustrated. Say, for example, the child has a mobility issue. And the guardian using this as a reason requested for withdrawal of money to buy a car, so as to send the child to school. It would make sense, since from a mathematical point of view, it is cheaper for the child to be sent using a car instead of relying on taxis, assuming multiple trips are needed in a day. However, the guardian may in fact use this as a reason because he/she wants to use the car, and not so because the child needs the car.
Some time back, another moral question also came to mind: Would you use the kidney of your child for another one who is sick? Would that be morally right?
There are some who thinks that it is not for you to decide for the child. However, on the other hand, if a child does not want to sacrifice for his sibling despite the family ties, then does it mean that as a parent, you can also apply the same rule and neglect whatever family ties hence neglecting the child who refused? Or perhaps one can also think about it this way: A parent’s resource should be shared equally among all his children. Hence, since one is given two faulty kidneys and you have another two healthy ones on another child, they should share it, right?
Anyway, these are just hypothetical questions. No decisions are to be made, so not to worry. I am just trying to push it to the extreme so as to dissect the topic of moral and ethics. I remember taking a course on Moral Philosophy in NTU some time back. No, it doesn’t help. Such topics are still as complex as ever. What are your thoughts?
Today, I actually met my OC from Apache who took us in 2010. It was 10 years ago and I still have a deep impression of him. He told the nurse that it is either he has treated me well or very badly, that’s why I can still remember him. In fact, it is neither. He did not treat me exceptionally well nor did he treat me exceptionally badly. In fact, from what I heard from my Platoon Sergeant, he is why I did not get Company Best and got Platoon Best instead, as he mentioned that I was too quiet. In fact, if that is the reason why I did not get it, I am happy so, because I didn’t want to wayang in front of the commanders. Unfortunately, I did not make it through OCS and the Company Best, I heard, signed on as a Regular. Another reason why I am happy that he got it instead of me as he has contributed more to the service in a sense. All in all, I have a lot of respect for this man and until today, I can remember his words and teachings. Back then he was just a Lieutenant, as compared to Captains from other company. But it did not make me respect him any lesser.
Today I also went back to NTU to attend a class. The semester is starting soon. And honestly, it has been some time since I was worried about my academics. Any failed module will now mean that I will not graduate, as I have raised the max candidature.
At the end of the day, I met this young gentleman from China. He shared with me his story where he assaulted someone back in his country and was jailed for two years. We had a good chat and at the end of the trip, he tipped me almost half of his entire fare. It was a nice gesture, and I gave him my name card to keep in touch. Singapore in recent years has been going through a wave of nationalistic inclination. This is definitely moderate as compared to many other countries. However, I still think that there must be a balance in protecting the interest of Singaporeans which must take priority, but at the same time, I think we should welcome and assimilate those who come from other countries as well, especially when they have good character. I am not saying this just because he tipped me. But I believe that there are some foreigners who are not born here and yet, contributing no less than a typical local. And after all, we are also once immigrants ourselves.
It is easy for us to say “put Singaporeans first”, but this is not a simple matter to tackle. Sometimes, we may have to adopt strategies which may seem unfair to Singaporeans but has an overall net gain in indirect ways. But of course, the devil is in the details and everyone has their own argument on which is best. But ultimately, as citizens ourselves, we need to be rational and wise, so as to not be easily swayed by populistic policies.
COVID has taken out a significant portion of our reserves. And I think we ought to replenish it when things get better. By being prudent and thrifty, this is the only way that we can ensure our survival. It doesn’t matter if we are talking about corporates or governmental organisations. Money wasted is money wasted, regardless of whose money it is. I hope that we can be united in bringing this country back to where it was before Covid struck, and to an even greater height.
Today I had a good chat with my mentor, which explains why the daily post is so late. I spoke to him about many issues. I think he came and talk to me because he is worried about me knowing what has happened recently. I also spoke to him about interviews, and how I was torn between being honest and not putting myself in a position where I decrease the chance of me getting what I want. Whatever he spoke to me have given me a fresh perspective and to be honest, it is not easy for someone to give me a fresh perspective on things these days, because I would have covered that already. I am not trying to sound arrogant but I think quite comprehensively. The fact that he is able to make me look at things from another angle proves that he is a superior thinker in some aspect and I am grateful to have met a mentor like him. In actual fact, I recently realised that I have known him for 19 years.
Tomorrow, I have to go back to NTU to attend a class. It seems like there is quite a lot of things on my plate. I am tired, but I like the tiredness. The only thing I am worried about is that I might not be giving my wife enough support because I am going all over the place.
At this point in time, I really don’t know what to think about my daughter’s case. There isn’t really much we can do, except to play our role well and be there as much as possible for her. It is unfortunate, but what can we do? What I am grateful for, is that many people reached out. My colleagues have offered to start fundraising for her but I think at this point in time, I want to take up as much as I can before I even start seeking help. It is what I should do as her parent. It is heartwarming when one of them told me to “not be like a participant and pitch my tent alone”, which is what we always tell participant when we bring them out for an expedition. Indeed, sometimes, it is hard to determine when we should seek help and when we should be independent.
One thing that I hope though, is that her insurance claim will be successful. I told the social worker when I was discussing this today, that I will really sue them if they try to be funny because this is not just about the money, it is an important factor which determines if my daughter will get the treatment that she needs in the future and it is an assurance that she will be able to have a good quality of life which will help compensate for the less than ideal condition that she is dealt with. Through this experience, I also gained some realisations, namely that there are certain things which I have to take personal responsibility for instead of relying on external factors. It also reaffirms the fact that coverage is important, but instead of just buying random coverage, that a suitable plan and strategy should be derived.
It is unfortunate that circumstances and life have dealt me these cards. But I remain the poker player. And it is up to me to turn things around and make the best out of the situation. In fact, there are others who are in a worse situation than me and I am definitely far from the worst. Hence if these people can survive, with the terms that they were given, I am sure Kaelyn stands a good chance. But chances being chances, I am also prepared for the worst that could happen. After all, if we talk about chances, chances are that she wouldn’t even get this illness in the first place.
I just hope that Kaelyn will grow up to be strong, cherish her life, and make good use of whatever that she was given. And it is a reminder for myself as well, that every breath is a gift.
Today is a tiring today. I came to the hospital after work wanting to help out my wife but ended up sleeping at the hospital for a bit. To be honest, she is likely to be more tired than I am, but she always tells me that she is fine.
One of the social workers came and talk to us today, she is from the Children Cancer Foundation. She asked if we need financial help. To be honest, I don’t really know how to answer her. I have no idea how much the treatment is going to cost, and furthermore, there is really a very wide range of conditions of how one can survive and it is really dependent on the individual. For example, to afford the lifestyle that is desired, one can be working 18 hours a day. And this could be extreme suffering for one but pretty normal for another. You can also survive on a $2 meal every day if you want to, and for some, it is pretty alright but not so okay for others. So how do I determine if I need financial assistance? But of course, if based on our income level, we are eligible for additional help, I would be more than happy to receive them since it would translate to a better quality of life for Kaelyn and our family. But if we are not, then we will try to manage as much as we can. After all, I don’t really want to take money from others as our first choice.
One possible loophole of such financial assistance is also the possibility of someone abusing any financial grant given to them. Giving cold hard cash means you are unable to determine how someone would spend the money. I wouldn’t be surprised that some parents might use the money on something else rather than on their children if they happen to be irresponsible ones. Hence, it is important for us to think a little deeper into these issues.
That said, I am really grateful that these organisations are reaching out and I think if one day I am very successful, I may want to set up a foundation as well. To me, the government should form an overarching framework, and the community will help to fill in these cracks so that everyone is taken care off.
Today, I also went through an interview for something that I am considering committing myself for. It is for something that is quite important hence the level of scrutiny is very high. And somehow, after every intensive interview that I have gone through before, I always feel a sense of frustration and perplexion. Why do I say this? It is because I always have to choose between putting myself in a good light as compared to being honest. And when I choose to be honest, I felt stupid and frustrated because it seems like I am doing myself in.
Let me give you an example. For instance, people like to ask me what is the biggest challenge that I have faced so far and I usually quote two examples. One is me dropping out of OCS, and the other is probably the doubt that was cast on me back then by others when I was not doing well. Being upfront with my experiences doesn’t really put me in a good light. For example, the whole OCS incident is still something that I feel very strongly about even 10 years down the road and I still stand by the decision that I have made because I am simply not ready for it back then. I didn’t think that I would make a good Officer even if I have stayed because I would have been doing it for the sake of doing. But, how many people can really understand the mentality behind it and what kind of situation I was in?
And it is also like you asking someone what is his worst experience and in his head, it was that he was actually a victim of a sex crime for example. To say something else would have meant that he is lying. To share with you his traumatic experience and have it dissected on the table would be painful. And to not share it but state that there is something else but it is too sensitive would induce people to think that you have something to hide.
That being said, I was completely honest during the interview and I leave it to the best decision of those in power. How many of our lives are perfect? And how many of us are completely truthful in interviews? Somehow, I feel that because many people do not share the actual facts of their lives, now any slight deviation from the “norm” would seem to be abnormal. And if we were to be upfront with our lives, then perhaps whatever that is normal now is really just a false front.
In social media, this is what we often see as well. So many people posting only the good side of their lives and it is causing the general population to feel that they are worst off, although it might not be true.
I want to involve myself in certain things, but at the same time, I also want to be honest and let them know what kind of person I am. I can only trust that they make the right decision. You cannot ask for a wise person but expecting that this person be error free. The only reason why I have a deeper perspective into things is simply because I have screwed up and tried new things. Hopefully our society will learn to judge someone more on the present than the past.
Today I was making an application for a course and one of the question asked was what are the two significant challenges I have faced in life. To be honest, I am not sure where to start counting, as these challenges have been struck me one after the after. Just take the recent episode for example, I was just about to get a little comfortable and Kaelyn’s illness came smacking into my face. But it is also through this episode that I realised that there is actually a lot of social safety net in place, be it from the hospital, the government or NGOs.
I was pleasantly surprised that the Children Cancer Foundation has delivered a bag of toys, toiletries and other essentials to us. It was a nice gesture, and I am sure if Kaelyn is old enough to know, she would appreciate it too. I believe part of the contribution came from Qualcomm Foundation, the CSR arm of an American tech company, again a nice gesture.
Without further ado, let’s jump into what I have written:
One significant challenge that I have faced was during NS. I was a high performer and was posted to OCS. However, halfway through, I started to have doubts about what I am doing and why I am doing it. I believe that as an Officer to be, we should be clear about our motivation and why we serve. However, at that time, I was unable to understand all these. I did not want to become an Officer because of personal pride. I highlighted this and was taken out of course. I started to doubt myself and my ability after I left command school. I was depressed and was at a total loss at what I am going to do for the rest of my NS. I got posted from place to place and eventually went back to OCS as an administrative staff. With the guidance of my commanders, I gained a deeper understanding of the meaning of service. Eventually, I left NS with conduct and performance rated “Outstanding”.
Another personal challenge that I have faced was halfway through University. My results weren’t ideal as Computer Engineering isn’t my forte, but it was the only offer I received post-graduation from Polytechnic hence I took it up. Halfway through, seeing that my academics isn’t going anywhere, I decided to take a leave of absence to start a social enterprise. However, due to increased public scrutiny on an anticipated government fund, we were unable to obtain the funding we seek. Eventually, after spending all my money, I returned to University for a second attempt. Now, I have to juggle between work and studies which make it even tougher. Subsequently, I left University again, hoping to work and save up. Being offered a job in one of the top four law firms in Singapore boosted my hope a little, but it was not long-lasting. My lack of experience in the working world may have rubbed some people the wrong way, and eventually, I left the company. At the same time, I was in a stable relationship with a girl I met at University. However, due to my series of failures, I did not gain the approval of her father, even as I have begun as a delinquent and worked my way to University. Eventually, time is the best testimony and I married my wife.
Well, for those who know me, these stories have been repeated so many times that I am getting sick of it. But it remains deeply seated in memory because for sure, it wasn’t really as brief as two paragraphs; I left out a lot of details. To me, it remains a period of my life which I look back and think about, simply because it has hit me so badly. But it also defines who I am today.
Today, Kaelyn seemed exceptionally moody and it is hard to calm her down. Now as a parent, I know how hard it is to calm down a child as much as you want to. A baby can only cry, there are no other ways to communicate her displeasure. Furthermore, she does not understand why we are doing what we are doing. While some people understand, there are people who do not. But it is okay, we are all learning anyway. It just breaks my heart to see her suffering like this. But to look at the bright side, she probably won’t remember any of this.
Today I also overheard another young child crying to the father that he is scared. He is also undergoing treatment at the hospital. I got a little teary as I hear what he say.
As my day concludes, it got a little better. Had a meal with my wife at KFC. If you ask me, please save your money and don’t spend it on the latest flossy chicken. I drove this middle age Malay lady back as it was along my way home. She was really polite and greeted me goodbye as she left the vehicle, addressing me as Sir and telling me to have a good day. I think it really shows her good upbringing as a person. There are some who board my vehicle acting like they are superior just because they paid a few dollars to take the ride. But I think it is still within my professionalism to do what I should do, hence I greet them politely, try to make sure that they are safe and comfortable, then I move on after they alight. But there are times which I have to make a stand, as much as I don’t want to. And one of it is to put on their seat belts. It is more than their safety, it is about mine. Putting on seat belts at the rear prevent you from crushing the person in front. The weight thrown forward is the weight of a baby elephant at 30 miles per hour. No, I am not kidding.
Anyway, I think it is good that some organisations are relaxing the rules on having additional income from other activities that are outside work. It is a bold move, one that may result in public backlash especially if the company is big and have business with the masses. Some of those who are conservative may find it unacceptable. While others may be against it because they are in the same industry and wants lesser competition.
First of all, so long our work performance is not affected, I think what we do outside of work is really our personal affairs. It is a different case if there is a conflict of interest or if it puts the organisation in a bad light. Furthermore, when your employees have the freedom to engage in other activities, it increases their exposure. This can be brought back to benefit the organisation. Of course, we do not want a case where employees are overly distracted with whatever they are doing outside. But if you are too restrictive, you end up deterring people from joining you. In fact, one may choose to join an organisation with slightly lesser pay but does not restrict outside activity as much, as compared to one with slightly higher pay but places a lot of restriction. In the end, the organisation is worse off, as you lose talents due to your restrictions. Having a secondary income also makes one feels more secure and independent. Many of us do not earn above the average wage in Singapore. Why deter people from moving up when they put in extra hard work to do so?
For myself, I drive occasionally to make use of my car. It does not make sense that I am paying so much for a vehicle and have it sitting in a parking lot. Driving also allows me to connect with people. It allows me to stay close to the ground and interact with people with all walks of life. When I go on long trips, it helps me to save petrol as well. The extra income also helps me to cater to the needs of my family expenses. There are just so many benefits to it. On my end, I make sure that I stay within the stipulated guidelines and avoid flouting any rules.
It is very easy to find out about me and what I am doing via the internet. Hence one of my biggest worries is that someone might file a complaint against me for whatever reason, be it for the comments that I make online or for telling them to buckle up. Although whatever that I am doing is within guidelines, sometimes, depending on how firm your organisation is, they may be forced to take action to protect their own image by sacrificing you. There are many instances of these things happening before, of people trying to attack those whom they do not agree with via other means, such as by writing to their employers. Sometimes, the organisation chooses to stand behind the individual. Sometimes, they have to sacrifice them.
One way that I can mitigate this is perhaps to be low profile and try to hide. But why should I hide when I am not doing anything wrong? My name card is made of plastic and you can see through it. The reason why I chose this is because I am like my card – transparent. I only hope that our population will one day, move beyond such methods of retaliation and organisation be mature and firm enough to stand up for their employees when they must. And I hope that one day, people will be open to the idea of one holding multiple jobs. I believe that this will make our economy more robust, allows creativity and cross-industry innovation. For those who are against the idea, by all means, stay the same. This also allows us to have two breeds of professionals, laterally and vertically developed and inclined. What do you think?
Just wrote a lengthy compliment letter to the hospital. However, to protect the privacy of my daughter, I shall not post the letter here. Just grateful to the team for their work so far and thought it is important for me to highlight this. Although there are some areas which I felt can be improved, I think throughout any comprehensive treatment, it is bound to be so. Just hope that they will continue to strive for even higher standards and not be complacent. We are talking about a human’s life here =)
Anyway, Kaelyn finally got out of ICU! However, she has to remain in the hospital for treatment still and the next few weeks will be important for her as her immunity will be low. In fact, I have been considering if I should bring over an air filter for her. However, I have recently discovered that some air filter that ionises air produces ozone, which is harmful to the human body. I am quite sure in normal circumstances, it will be alright. However, for hospitals where there are other patients who might be sensitive to various conditions, I am not quite sure. There isn’t any information found online in regard to the particular model of air filter that I have as well. I have emailed Novita and pending their response. I will update here as well.
I find that it is important to highlight the specifications of the products that you make. Until now, I also cannot seem to find the weight of the stock rims of Mistubishi Attrage as well and hence I cannot make a good decision on whether to replace that particular part. I heard from one seller that it is about 6kg. But I cannot confirm that this is true. Perhaps the only way to find out is to take it out and weigh it.
Recently, I have also been looking into investments. I find that the interest rate that we are getting from the bank is basically ripping us off. If you were to keep it in your bank, over the years, the money is going to get lesser and lesser. However, there aren’t really many ways to generate a passive income unless you have loads of cash sitting around. As usual, the trade-offs are liquidity and risk involved. Meanwhile, if you have a business then it will be generating income for you even if you are sleeping, but it does come with its risk as well.
That said, at this stage, I am really not quite interested in business. I used to be thinking that I will never join the public service and all I wanted is to run my own business since it has the highest degree of freedom. Since the last time I ran my own business, I realised that in the business world, there is always pressure to cut corners so as to increase your bottom line. I didn’t want to be facing these problems every now and then. Right now, I just want to serve and to give my best. However, eventually one day I might return back to business. Not for now though, especially when my daughter is sick and I really cannot undertake more risk.
I think the current COVID situation is a good reminder to Singaporeans that the economy is as important as social welfare. There was increasing voice back then to increase social welfare. This has put pressure on the government to spend more. However, we need to bear in mind that social spending can only be made possible if we have the economy to support it in the first place. The new few years is going to be very tough for us because we have took out quite a bit from our reserves. I urge all Singaporeans to help put the economy back on track by putting their best feet forward at work, regardless of what sector they are in. Do a part as a citizen to help the country manage resources more effectively. Highlight if you see something is wrong. Do not waste our resources by doing stupid things, such as making useless police reports, making false reports, littering, wasting public resources, creating problems in the community, etc.
There might also be an increase in crime rate due to higher economical pressure. Hence, keep an eye on your close ones and help to steer them away from trouble. I hope that we can unite during this tough time as a country. This is the challenge for our generation. The previous ones have been through wars and we came out of it. Hopefully, this will blow over soon.
Sorry if I sounded like I am preaching, but I believe that a country can only be well managed if both the people and the leaders work together. I don’t think I am in a position to influence the leaders, hence I can only preach to the ground.
Today, someone vacated one of the four rooms of the Ronald Macdonald House and hence, we are able to use the room while our baby is in Intensive Care. As a parent of a young child hospitalised, I cannot emphasize how helpful this is for us. Although Singapore is not a big place, having this room allows us to react if there is any emergency. It also allows us to spend more time with our baby. Having someone in the hospital is a tiring affair. You have to travel daily and it just takes the toll out on the caregivers. With the room, I am able to “change shift” with my wife more often so that my baby will not be left alone for an extended period of time in an unfamiliar environment.
Without further ado, here are some pictures. I sought permission before I took them.
Wow, it is August already. Hopefully, my girl will be out of the hospital by my birthday. Two of my childhood friends have sent a hamper wishing that she get well soon. I think it is a very nice gesture. At the same time, many of my friends, colleagues and family have shown their support and concern. Really appreciate these gestures. I know a lot of people, I don’t have many close friends, but I am happy that those who are around me remains very close to heart. I just hope that as a friend, I have also done enough for those who are around me.
Anyway, following the recent GE, I saw some of the educational institutions so eager to reconnect with their alumni who have made it as a politician. Somehow, in their publication and post, they are also trying to associate themselves with people who have made it big. One question in my head would be wondering if they ever consider that some of the criminals convicted are also from their school? Do we judge a school based on the top graduates or the bottom ones? Or do we judge based on the number of successful graduates as compared to the not so successful ones? We need to know that some of these schools, based on their preselection criteria, the fact that these people are able to admit into the schools in the first place would have meant that they are already gifted in some ways. Hence, is there any credit at all that they eventually become successful?
I will be very interested if there is one educational institute that can admit people who are ordinary, or even doing badly in life, and turn them around into successful people. One organisation that came to mind isn’t actually a school, but the Singapore Prison Service. Even now and then, we hear news that convicts did well in their exams, scoring results that are beyond some people who are leading a more carefree life. Perhaps some may say that since they are incarcerated, they have better focus. I am also unaware of what’s the pre-incarcerated state of these top graduates. However, I feel that credit must still be given.
What is the point of suddenly associating yourself with your alumni when they became successful when you perhaps have not supported them ever since they graduated? Or perhaps even when they are in school.
From a practical viewpoint, we have a limited amount of resources, but we have so many students. So do we choose only those whom we think are destined for success? There seem to be two schools of thoughts about this. But I simply remember that if none of my teachers has made an effort to shape me, just because I was at the bottom of the class, perhaps I would have ended up on the wrong track.
Today, I want to talk about the recent issue I had with Bukit Batok Driving Center. I think whatever that they have done is not fair to consumers. On their end, they can unilaterally change our TP dates due to COVID. However, when we are subjected to the same law unable to take our TP test, they are unwilling to waive the cost, despite that the vehicle is not used.
I originally booked my 2A Motorcycle test on 16 April 2020. However, it was cancelled due to the circuit breaker. BBDC unilaterally changed the date to 26 June 2020 without confirmation on my end. After I have obtained my leave, they then unilaterally cancelled it again despite that cost was incurred on my end. However, seeing that this is an exceptional period, I did not pursue the matter.
The test was later allocated on 15 July 2020 Wednesday, this time around with confirmation on my end. However, I was issued a stay home order on Sunday, 12 July 2020. I informed BBDC immediately. However, BBDC refused to refund the vehicle booking fee despite that Traffic Police is able to grant an exception due to the COVID measures. This is not an ordinary MC but a law mandating that I stay at home.
On Tuesday 14 of July, I communicated via phone call to BBDC informing them that my swab test has turned out negative and the doctor has shortened my MC. As such, I am able to proceed with the test. However, BBDC mentioned that they will not be accepting my request to proceed with the test since I have originally mentioned I am on MC, despite that the MC has been shortened.
In view of the situation above, BBDC ought to refund me fully all cost associated with the TP Test, including administrative charges, since they have refused my test on their end despite that I am no longer mandated by law to stay at home. Yet, they are refusing to.
Moving forward, I think whatever lessons that I will take in the future will no longer be with this organisation due to how they conduct their business. This is the COVID period and there are many changes which individuals and businesses have to cope with. Despite that they expect understanding from consumers, they are not willing to play by the same standards. Truly disappointing considering that Singaporeans should be united during this period.
Last but not least, their actions also induces people to not seek medical treatment when they are unwell for fear of financial cost involved when they have been scheduled for TP. I will get appropriate agencies to look into this.
Oh my god, it is already the end of July. School is starting soon and there is so much that’s not done yet. Anyway, let’s keep today’s post simple. Just want to share the Ronald MacDonald House at NUH. I think it is a great initiative 🙂
I Translated this myself, not a professional and I did it one pass. So please forgive me if there is any mistake.
Special report on Tuesdays
This is a weekly TV series on channel 8
Titled: Stone Island, Back and Before
Wu have been living here for the past 40 years. Today, his life is still related to mining. Although his children are living on the main island, he don’t mind staying on the island.
His family have moved away for 12 years. But every April and July (Chinese calendar) when the island conducts religious ceremonials, they always come back to pray, for the safety of their families and to reconnect with the people here.
Ah wang family always depended on fishing. he have never thought of changing his profession. 39 years, he have never left the island.
86 years old Huang seldom leave house these days. Although the couple live a private and quiet life, they know very well about what is happening around the neighbourhood. Because since they migrated from overseas southwards, this is where they have settled down.
Chinese wording on the left in translation of cantonese spoken by interviewee: The couple came at 1905, September
We live by rubber tapping. The rubber tabbing ground here is called south wind park. At that time, we work for this company to tap rubber.We woke up at 2am, and work from 3am to 8am in the morning. finishing work at 9. we work everyday and was in charge of 2 areas, alternating between the nearer one and the futher one every day. When it rains, the latex is diluted by the rain, and diluted our hopes at the same time, hence we don’t earn a single cent when that happens.
Rubber tapping during the 50s, due to the korean war, flourished. on the 60s, the price crashed and one park alone cannot sustain one’s living anymore. Huang couple have no choice but to change their profession. today, Huang qi still lives at the same area. but what used to be where the workers socialise now becomes an empty and forsaken place. the only thing that is worth waiting for now is perhaps the shows conducted to thank the deities.
Teochew language is the main language used on the island. hence teochew shows became the default performance used to thank the deities. regardless of dialect on this island, even the malay brothers and sisters, will raise money to invite the deity (Tua Pek Kong) to watch the performance. this deity, is unique to the Singapore and Malaysia peninsular, have appeared since chinese immigrants stepped onto this island and is worshipped in numerous households.
Tua Pek Kong was originally worshipped in a small temple near the jetty. To understand more about the history of this island though this temple, singapore’s officials came twice to examine the two plague placed around the temple, and took a sample of the writings on the stone plagues. this plague was erected at GuangXu 33rd Year (Reign of GuangXu Emperor), which is 1908, which is already 82 years today. According to the writings on it, the people who donated money to rebuild this temple consist of over 100 families. From this, we can see that since the start of the century, there are many Chinese who are already living on this island. the other plaque wrote that, before 1921, the villagers contributed money to build this temple. as for when exactly did the island start to have inhabitants, it remains a mystery.
Ubin is situation on the north east of our country, about 1.5 nautical miles away only, requiring 15 minutes by ferry. it is the second biggest island that we have, and one of the two island with people living on it. as the island has a lot of granite, malay called it Pulau Ubin, which means Rock Island or Stone Island. And due to this reason, post discovery 17 years, it has attracted the attention of our colonial masters. 1836, colonial masters transferred the indians convicts on death row to this island to mine the granite. Until 1867, when these convicts are repatriated back to India, the mining was took over by the chinese workers. From then on, more Chinese came to this island and even started their families and settled here.
Much like Jie Ye Gui family’s father, Jie Long who came early from China, spent the rest of the next few decades mining on this island. He was also buried here after death. Although his father have passed on for many years, the scenes from his father’s mining remains accurate in the memory.
Ah long, is the hole done? (Dialect) Almost done!
Have you had a good meal today?
Yes, had a good meal. The last time I almost fainted as I did not have a proper meal. Didn’t even have the strength to ignite the dynamite properly, almost blew myself to death.
Wu, who have joined the mining business much later than his father, also cannot forget those days in the past.
Wu Mu Yao Dialogue: Very tough those days, rain and shine. sometimes we get cut from the rocks and started bleeding. but we have to make a living so we don’t have a choice. everyone had to work hard. initially, i was a clerk in Singapore. one month I earn below a hundred dollars. Need to feed my wife and children, and it is not enough to sustain. so i came here to work. initially i earn about 6 dollars a day doing office work, then it increased to around 10 dollars a day. we can sustain our living hence we moved our entire family here. in the past, if you don’t work, there is no money. it is like that. the most you are afraid about is machine breaking down and getting sick, as either of which will result in no income. in the past, there are about 100 over workers, via manual work and not via machine mining. there isn’t an established market or sales channel. once the financing party closes the mining site, there is no income for the workers. when the union held a meeting with the bosses, I was made a representative to neogoiate. I suggested a wage cut in order for both parties to sustain. when the times are better, then we increase the price for the granite.
During the 60s, the miners, due to economical reasons, have self initiated a pay cut. During 80s, the mining sites closed one after the other. the people involved in this trade diminished. right now, there are only two slightly significant companies mining on this island. one is situation at the northeast area of the island called Resource Harvesting Board, and the one at the west called Yi Hua Mining Company
The mining operations have changed much as compared to the past. in the past, regardless of detonating the rocks, cracking of the rocks or transportation, it is all via manual labour. today, most of these work are done via machinery. hence, the labourers are much reduced. Take this mining site for example, in the past, there were about 200 to 300 employees, today they only require 50 individuals. and yet, the output is 10 times more as compared to the past.
Mining granite is not only the most economically important activity on the island, it has also contributed to the development on mainland Singapore. Yi Hua Mining site, every month ships about 70 to 80 thousand tones of granites back to the main island, to cater to reclamation, building or construction of roads.
Right now, there are only 200 people mining on the island. most of them travel by the boat with a small fraction living on the island. on top of that, there are many young natives from the island travelling to mainland Singapore to look for jobs and settle there. as for why the new generations who grew up from ubin, chose to leave this island, perhaps can be investigated from Yang He Hua’s example.
(12.44) He Hua grew up on this island, studied on the island. once completed his primary school, he worked at a kelong to catch fishes. then he returned back to become a mechanic on the island.
He Hua Dialogue – I like working on the island. because i grew up here. because here is near to home and it is convenient. once married, I stay on this island on monday, wednesday and friday. i have a family so no choice. i have a few friends around my age. once they are married, they all scattered across different places, all went other places. he work alone, sometimes watches tv and goes fishing on the island.
Dialogue – Haven’t end work? No, about 7.30
There hasn’t been electricity supply on Ubin. but in recent years, with the improvement of the living standard of the inhabitants, those who are more able financially, bought their own generator. hence, after night fall, the island is still illuminated by lights and tv can still be watched. recently, it also become a place for youngsters to hang out, especially after Tekong became a military reserved island. every weekend, there will be batches of youngsters looking for new thrills here.
here, they can tent and experience the outdoor and even spend a few days in the only resort Green Life Resort providing accommodation, to experience the laid back life here.
Ubin life also have one speciality. It has no portable water. the water you see flowing out from the tap actually comes from a well. during 1981, due to the hot weather, all the wells dried up. in the end, we shipped water from the main island. over a century, this method of living via underground water have not changed.
Dialogue 15.52 – I have stayed here for decades. I have gotten used to it. if there is electrify and water, that willl be better. but that is not possible, because people are getting lesser.
during the inconvenience, the rustic lifestyle have attracted city dwellers to come here to tent and picnic. to these who have gotten used to city life, ubin provided them a chance to return back to nature.
16.33 Dialogue – this is the first time i have spend time in a rubber plantation, carrying a heavy bag. together with my buddies trekking. it is also my first time staying overnight in a rubber plantation. what is refreshing to me is that I have picked up a humongous durian under a durian tree and we had it together with my friends. the only issue is that there is no public toilets here. i believe that if the government can build some public toilets, it would attract many students to come here and camp.
17.04 dialogue – this place has a lot of association and feels of a village, attracting a lot of people to camp here. i hope that the government can maintain the rustic feel, so that people can come here and experience life different from the cities.
the arrival of the youths, brought to the island the long missing laughters. five years ago, the islanders started hearing every morning student reciting from their books. during then, Jie was the teacher of Min Jiang primary school. he taught geography and math. eventually, spent 27 years in this place, having graduated from the same school as well. he cannot forget the bits and pieces from the past.
Post war, 1944, on the island, this is a private chinese medium school, Min Jiang Primary, I studied here. back then they don’t have a place and it was situation on a theatre stage, and the students are all overage. There was more boys than girls. it was post war and life was hard. their children only had a few years of education and they stopped. until his time, there was only two students left and the school made arrangement for them to finish their primary 6 so that they can proceed to secondary school. during the time, their principal brought them to Zhong Zheng Secondary School to register. That year when he graduated, the principal asked him to return to teach. because he had grew up on the island, everyone knew him. Hence in regard to teaching, the people trusted him. the parents will never blame them for whatsoever reason, and they in turn took their children as his own. sometimes, their family are poor, so their children will go to the beach to capture some prawns and crabs and sell to their teachers. in order to please the kids, the teachers also purchase from the kids. 1959 to 1985, about 27 years, as the inhabitant reduces in numbers, the students also correspondingly reduced from 300 to 400 to below a couple dozens. Hence classes had to be stopped.
as the chinese school and malay school closes around the 80s, the students have to go Changi, Tampines and Bedok to have classes. as the children have to take a boat to and fro, resulting in inconveniene, many families started to apply for housing on main island and moved out. hence, the people got even lesser. according to latest figures, about 166 families on the island, only about 600 people. chinese has about 2/3 and stayed near the jetty.
21.42 whoever that wants to get out of ubin have to go through this marketplace called “Jie Chang”. this became a gathering place for the people. every morning, there will be people having tea and casual chats, seemingly to be an essential activity. Wu is one of them who comes every day. he is retired, but he don’t like to be doing nothing, hence, he took up the role to collect gunpowder for the mining stations. he felt satisfied with his life.
during 32, he moved here. over the decades, the raised 5 children. 4 of them are highly educated.
22.46 Dialogue – My kids are all grown up and working elsewhere. some got married and bought their house elsewhere. it is more convenient for them to be working elsewhere. i am used to it here. the air is good and quiet. every week, I will reunite with my family. They will all come to my flat, my grandchildren and all.
*conversations in dialect which i don’t really understand*
wanting both the joy of the family being together and the serenity of living on the island, he found a balance between having these two mutually exclusive choices.
Wang have depending on the sea for his livelihood all his life. even at a age of 70, he still wakes up at 3 to 4 to fish for a living. they have 8 children. some married and some moved away. now, only him staying with his wife. the departure of his kids did not change his affection for ubin.
dialogue at 25.05: to move to singapore is tough. getting around is difficult. we depend on the sea for our living. if we go to mainland, life is going to be difficult. life here is more pleasurable. if possible, I want to live here forever. unless i am unhealthy, else i wouldn’t want to stay with my children. but first, they must be willing. else why would we want to go?
that said, it is not just old and distant things on the islands. during this two years, orchid parks have been opened up on the island. however, due to the tough work, the turnover rate has been high. however, using this to attract people to settle here is not sufficient to get people to move here.
Another new trade here is prawn rearing. from 200 meters from shore, depth of 10 meters, water is drawn from the sea to rear prawn. this high tech method requires high capital. right now, one foreign company have invested in this. rearing prawns sometimes needs divers to observe the prawns. this is not labour intensive, hence, it is not feasible to attract youngsters to stay here, it is not practical.
recently there has been an increasing number of floating fish rearing decks around the island. right now there are about 30. but those working there does not live on the island. they are not affectionally connected to the island.
Ubin has accompanied singapore over 140 years. over the century, it has its fair share of crest and troughs. yet the recent development doesn’t seem likely to attract people to come here and stay anymore. however, the rustic environment and peaceful place have made those who are here, willing to stay and spend their old age.
recent years, the rustic and simple environment have attracted many youths to come here for adventure. government have planned for this to be an adventure based location, allocation 24 million dollars to build Outward Bound Singapore to be a holistic adventure training centre, to provide youths with numerous outdoor activities, and to provide them a chance to experience a rustic experience. hence, we can see that in foreseeable future, this is going to be a heaven for people to escape from the city life.
Today, baby Kaelyn just had a major operation. It was successful. Thankful to the medical team who made this happen. Now, she is recuperating still.
In regard to the visiting policy, the Assistant Direction have written to me. I think I have made my point and I shall let them make the call. Right now, I will want to focus on taking care of Kaelyn. Perhaps our society has not recognised the father as an equal caretaker as a mother, which is unfortunate. Maybe we need a men’s right group as well.
Anyway, one wonderful thing that I have discovered today is that Ronald Macdonald House actually has a place where parents can rest at the hospital. Back then, I always round up my meals to the nearest dollar to donate to this charity, but I am not sure what exactly they do. Today, when I see it for myself, I am pretty impressed. In fact, I made a pledge with my wife to always round up to the dollar whenever we eat. I will share some pictures tomorrow.
Today, the hospital reached out to make some concession regarding my visit. Basically, they extended the hours that I can visit by 4 hours. Although this is still far from what I thought would be a good arrangement, I appreciate that they at least did something. The nurses at the ward also made a sign for us to hang on the curtain to inform the people outside whenever we are nursing the baby.
I find that it is important that, when you are unable to accede to customer request, you at least do something to better the situation. In the situation where you are really unable to do anything, at the very least, appear concerned. It is upsetting when sometimes, you make a request and you get a cold reply rejecting you and that’s it. In whatever line we are, we need to put ourselves in the shoes of customers. No doubt it may be easier to simply follow protocol, but there is a reason why we have a human doing the job and not a robot, as there are many situations that demands ground judgment.
On a company level, it is also important to ensure that our policy makes sense. You have an unreasonable policy and you expect ground officers to enforce it, you are just pushing all the responsibility to the ground staff. Hence, in this case, I did not debate with the ground officers as I know that they are also in a difficult situation.
Tomorrow, baby Kaelyn is going to go through a major operation. Just hope that everything will be fine. I did not share too much in detail of what she is going through as I want to protect her privacy. I may not have a need for much privacy, but I don’t know whether she will have such a need in future.
One thing that I have realised today is that many domains of knowledge are actually closely related. Take for example, when you want to take out an organ, the whole procedure is almost similar to mechanical engineering or civil engineering. Is that an evidence that there is indeed a common intelligence factor G? I think it supports that perhaps a baseline of G is required. But I still believe that there are differences between one’s inclination towards certain field.
Although I do not agree with people using social media as a way to resolve matters, I can surely understand why some of them chose that route. I have written to a few entities in regard to me not being allowed to visit my daughter apart from the usual visiting hours and it has been bouncing from one entity to another. If we are talking about an adult patient, I would understand. But we are talking about an infant who has a lot more needs than an adult. Furthermore, not being present also means that I am unable to provide emotional support for my wife and will not be able to participant in impromptu discussions when the doctor decided to pop by.
Still, I am trying my best to get this matter resolve amicably. It is regrettable that I have to spend time on such matters when we are already so occupied with my daughter.
How can we have a blanket rule for all patients when there is a varied level of needs? Perhaps when things were still very unstable, I would understand why. But perhaps it is a good time to relook at some of these policies. I don’t mean to add on to the workload during this crisis, but I am trying to prevent any potential tragedy from happening. After all, I did have a close friend who jumped off a building with her infant child and the incident have impacted me.
Not going to write much today but just share something that caught my eye. There was a man who was charged for taking hand sanitisers from the lift. Although it is wrong, I am not really surprised. But he actually not only too them but emptied them on the floor.
No matter how much hatred you have, I think this is really deplorable.
The world has so many thought experiments to challenge our basic morals and perspective. For example, one may ask his or her spouse, if I were to drop into the sea and I do not know how to swim, along with your mother who also do not know how to swim, who would you save first? I seldom engage in these thought experiments, since I already have enough real-world problems to worry about. But inevitably, sometimes, life forces us to make a choice similar to such complex thought experiment.
Recently, I have been researching on Kaelyn’s medical condition. And I came across this article about child organ donor. This is a complex issue because you cannot expect the child to be able to make a decision for him/herself at a tender age. I don’t even think that I was mature enough to understand a lot of things until I was almost 30 years old.
Say for example in the case of kidneys, if you have a kid with a malfunctioning kidney and on the other hand, you have another with a suitable kidney. Of course, as parents, I am sure we would have considered giving ours. But assuming that we are unable to due to compatibility issue and the only choice is to donate the healthy sibling kidney to the sick one. How would you decide?
In US, courts based the ruling on the potential psychological benefit of the donor, and they approve such donations. But this concept itself is flawed.
I find that this topic also relates to state governance. On one hand, the government is supposed to take care of all its citizens. On the other hand, there are inherent discrepancies between the citizens. By increasing welfare for the underprivileged one, we inevitably have to make the more well off individual worst off. The better one may ask: Why should I be suffering? Just like the healthy sibling may ask why should he/she be made to suffer by having to donate his/her kidney when they are healthy?
Perhaps this is why in an ancient Chinese literature, it spoke that if you want to govern a state, you start with your own family. And if you want to govern your own family, you start with yourself. This further convinces me that it takes a certain level of maturity, life stage and exposure for one to be a political leader or even a leader of any sorts. Say your staff wants to take childcare leave, if you are not mandated by law, how would you feel if you are not a parent yourself as compared to someone who has a kid at home also?
Perhaps there are some individuals who are able to be mature and good thinkers without having to experience many things themselves, but I believe that they remain the exception and not the rule. Perhaps they may embrace certain values due to social norm and because of certain values that they as an individual possesses and believe in, but I believe that it will be hard for them to really understand and feel it. Hence, while we shouldn’t write off immediately a young individual who wants to be a leader, we should be scrutinising his/her ability to make a mature, well thought out policies and decisions.
Lastly, this is why I think it is important for a diverse group of people to represent the population in whatever management group.
Another long day today. I was rejected for the makeshift bed for my wife during the day and I was told that beds are only allowed at night. I then asked for a resting place and was told there is none. Then the conversation ended. First, I am not allowed to stay over to assist my wife, and now, when I am here, they do not allow my wife to rest. I didn’t really want to start a debate or to put the frontline officer in a spot since she is following a policy, hence I wrote in.
Perhaps there are some people who feel that I seem to be that kind who likes to send in complaint letters. But I believe that the compliment letters that I have sent in the past are comparable to the negative ones. To me, I would feel happy that customers write in. It means that you still have a chance to redeem yourself.
I used to work as a frontline officer in a call centre and those years have shaped my perspective about customer service. Hence, it is not the case of me not knowing what it is like to be on the receiving end. I believe that it is important to give feedback. And I am taking my personal time to do something that perhaps won’t even benefit me.
I believe that companies should do their due diligence in sending their staff for training before allowing them to work in the frontline. There are some companies which do not give adequate training and support, then blame their staff when a complaint is sent in. And sometimes, the ROI although may seem to be obscured, can manifest itself in a surprising way. My recent interaction with Amex customer service have impressed me so much that it made me relook at what their credit card is offering, and that leads to a discovery that it may pay me better than my main credit card. Guess which bank’s card I am using as my main card now?
I have also remained an M1 customer for the past god knows how many years and have moved on from having one mobile line under my name, to now 5, excluding the internet. It is not that they have the best reception, nor is it because they are the most competitive in terms of pricing. But because they are able to give me what I want time and time again.
Sometimes, I may choose to make an example out of someone. Usually, I’ll let things slide. It is tiring to be in a dispute. But sometimes, the disrespect and disregard are too overwhelming. And sometimes, when I share these things publicly, it catches people’s attention. One of them is my father in law who always felt that I am overly harsh. It is not difficult to understand his perspective since he runs a business. But sometimes, when we choose to voice out about certain things, it is to protect the next consumer.
Writing this at the hospital. Right now, there isn’t much what we can do except to wait for results and then taking it one step at a time. Honestly, baby Kaelyn is such a darling and it really aches my heart to see her in this stage. But I guess this is life.
Just now, the nurse came and ask me to leave as it is after the visit hours again. As a father, it is just really sad that I am unable to support my wife at this time.
Going through this ordeal makes me think about bigger societal problems. It is already so difficult for us, being educated, employed and having relatively good family support. Colleagues at work are quite understanding and we have good employers supporting us. I cannot imagine how difficult it is for others who are underprivileged.
I think generally, we have a good system, even as it is not perfect. As members of the society, we should help to look out for these people and pointing them the right direction, giving them some support if we can as well. And as citizens, we should not take advantage of social welfare because this come at a cost of others who may need it more. I was worried about finances and someone told me that I can try to seek government support. Being in a subsidised ward is already extremely helpful since the cost is of a very big difference. On top of that, the Medishield Life is also a relief because it requires no additional underwriting and is available to everyone once born. Hence, the first thing that came to mind if I were to require financial means to sustain her treatment is to sell my assets, not to take the easy way out by putting the burden on society and government. Kaelyn is a Singaporean daughter, a very precious one to me and I believe to the nation as well. Every child in this country is precious and should be precious. And I have faith that she will be well taken care of.
I do not know how much healthcare should cost. But what I know is that as long as it is reasonably within our means and not something that only the rich can afford, I think Singapore has already done a good job. Of course, on our hand, we cannot expect to have first-class service, private ward and hotel-like service while not paying for any of it. Everything comes at a cost. So long it is quality healthcare, even if I have to live at a lower standard of living to get her the treatment that she needs, I am willing to.
This episode also reinforced to me the importance of getting a good education. Even if today I am a rich man, if I was not educated well, I can only leave all these decisions to the professionals and unable to partake in any of the considerations and decision making process at all. It is also important that we get a good education and have a good education system because knowledge allows us to make a difference to lives. This is priceless.
Also, having talents who are nurtured in Singapore will increase the tendency of them contributing back to the country with their knowledge and expertise. This is perhaps one of the fringe benefits of having foreign scholars to study here in Singapore. It goes without saying that nurturing local talents is more important.
Hence, as parents, I think it is important for us to encourage our children to not simply pursue lucrative trades, but if they show inclination in a certain field, even if such fields are not as lucrative, that they pursue it as well. For example, one may be a rich trader running a homegrown family business. It is, of course, easier for the offspring to assist in the family business. However, if they show inclination in other fields, such as medication, engineering, law or even arts, a decision should be made holistically, not just from a monetary perspective. If Joseph Schooling’s parents did not have that faith and simply wanted their son to pursue a stable and lucrative career, Singapore would not have produced an Olympic champion. Who would have thought…
The last thing that I perhaps want to talk about today is about the recent corruption case for the LTA staff. It is highly disappointing and I think we should do something to drive in once again that Singapore does not tolerate any form of corruption. This is our image, our pride and our differentiating factor in the whole of this region. If you were to shade the map based on colour coded corruption levels, you will find that Singapore will stand out like an amongst the sea of corruption in this region. When you accept bribes, you taint all of us with your personal greed. It is simply unacceptable. You have failed us, and you have failed the Singapore brand.
Just reached home from the hospital. It has been a long day. Unfortunately, I am still not able to stay over with my wife to take care of the baby despite my request. However, I do appreciate that they have made some concessions. Nonetheless, I think this remains an issue to be looked into.
Today, I am just thinking about how fragile and even unfair life sometimes can be. But still, I am looking at the bright side and I think that whatever that I have received is already much better than many others. So I will just count my blessings and take it one step at a time. I really think that my wife is extremely resilient and dedicated to her duties as a mother. Being a parent made me realised a lot of things, and my heart goes out to all single parents because it is just so many things to handle (although there are parents who don’t really care too).
It is an unfortunate turn of event, but I am already in one of the best places to guarantee her odds of quality life in the world. What else can I ask for? Financial wise, I think we will just manage it as we go along.
Initially, I wanted to talk about Singapore and COVID today, but honestly, I am too tired and occupied with what’s happening with my baby girl for now. If today, I am a political leader, then perhaps even when my family is crumbling down and I have my mind elsewhere, I will still have to focus on my job, because it is not just my family, but hundreds and thousands of families under my care. Hence, I think it is really not easy to be a good political leader. Or rather, a leader of any sort. Unless of course, you choose to be a lousy one.
The last thing that I want to talk about is teamwork. Today at the hospital, I had this realisation. Doctors are very smart individuals. Yet, none of them is able to run the whole show. Just the case of my daughter alone, I have seen so many specialists, each brilliant in their own right. On top of that, you need the nurses, the janitors, the administration staff. All these people work together rather seamlessly to deliver a good service. Will you have a good health care system without the janitors? Probably not. The infection rate itself will jam up the whole system. It made me realised something about teamwork, and I should seek to be more collaborative and build synergy in my work.
I have always been a rather solo guy. In fact, my favourite quote in the past was “Eagles don’t flock.” However, during polytechnic, I have gained some realisation about being too solo. Today’s realisation hammered it down even further. If doctors, with the amount of brilliance that they have, have to work in teams, then who am I to think that I can be an individual and get things done?
That being said, it will probably take a long time for me to change. I feel bad when asking others for help and sometimes, I find it a hassle to trouble someone else unless I have to. I usually find it more efficient to get things down myself. But I think there will definitely be times which the complexity of issues are beyond my reach. Perhaps this will force me to collaborate more.
I think every one of us is still learning. Some of us grasp the idea of socialising easily. Some of us understand teamwork easily. Some of us understand morals easily. And some understand leadership easily. But many times, when we meet someone who is nasty, selfish, or just offends us in a certain way, we forget that perhaps this person is still learning as well. They perhaps just don’t grasp certain concepts as easily as how we did.
Will not be writing much today as something unexpected happened. My daughter is once again warded in the hospital and I have just arrived home. Only my wife is allowed to be with her at the hospital and it makes me both sad and worried that my wife has to handle this alone especially when this is not the first blow to us as parents.
Just came back from a swim. I think it is time to get back in shape since I have rested for quite some time due to a muscle strain. Anyway, I think now during the COVID situation, we should really consider extending the operating hours of gyms and swimming pool. It is impossible to get a slot to workout at the gym at all. In fact, I really wonder why is there a need for some gyms to close at all, such as those at condominiums since they are unsupervised anyway. In fact, even public gyms should have extended working hours since the manpower required is quite low, and this can also be a strategy to increase the employment rate. I always felt that we should maximise the infrastructure that we have since we are land scarce.
One piece of news that I noticed today is the one regarding the dental student who strangled his ex-girlfriend. I do not want to comment on the case since I am not a legal professional but I just wonder how many people actually know that:”
According to court documents, the victim’s stepfather punched and slapped Yin multiple times on his face, and used a cigarette butt to burn his face, near his right eye in the course of the confrontation.
Additionally, a large number of people, including 49 out of his 54 dentistry batchmates, gave testimonies of his character, leading the judge to conclude that his actions on the day of the offence were out of character.” – Mothership
I wonder if there is any punishment for the stepfather who took the matter into his own hands. Again, I do not want to comment on the case since I am pretty sure that there will be new development considering that many politicians and public have spoken up on this already.
Recently, SMU has also tied in with some other agencies to provide training for mid-career professionals who are switching field. I think it is a good move because despite that it is a bad time to be switching jobs, there will be people who due to different reasons, having a need to do so. That said, I do have my reservations on SMU considering that they require second upper honours for a graduate to take up their Juris Doctor programme. I find that this is an outdated, excessively simplistic and overly focused on one’s academic achievement; it’s 2020 by the way. This means that one is filtered without looking in further into individual merits. I find it surprising since SMU, when it first started, pride itself on interviewing every single candidate for their UG programme. Nonetheless, perhaps there are reasons why they chose to adopt this approach which I do not know about.
Personally, there are different views on intelligence. One is the intelligence factor of G. The other is that there are other dimensions of intelligence. I personally think that we are inclined towards a different form of intelligence, but I have to disclaim that I have not read intensively on this topic. What do you think? Do you think that intelligence is a singular factor meaning that one who is smart enough to be a mathematician should be smart enough to be a politician? Or do you think we are meant for different things?
So yesterday, I have forgotten to write my daily post. Hence I am writing this now during lunchtime.
One thing that I have realised is that unlike when I was young where I am pretty open about whatever that happened, I tend to censor a little on my personal matters. Perhaps I am okay with leading a very open life, but my partner may not. Hence I have to be considerate to her.
Anyway, these days, a lot of things can be faked. There are people who post about fake travels or whatsoever so as to boast or attract readers. Even degrees can be fake. What an irony considering that we have such advancement of technology.
It is already July. Covid-19 have consumed almost the entire year. But there are some good things that happened as a result of that as well. For example, my father who works almost 365 spent more time at home. He was able to be with his grandchild during a stage where she is fast growing which would be unlikely during normal times. I myself have been working at home for a portion of the time, hence I also get to spend more time at home. For quite some time, I have been hearing some Singaporeans saying that they are overworked. I hope that some of us can appreciate it better when there is work now, although I know it is really a balance.
I have shared this before, but somehow, the empty retail mall hinted how Singapore could be like if our economy isn’t doing well. I know that there are people who feel fiercely about the population matter in Singapore as they feel that we are overcrowded. However, I feel that sheer numbers aren’t really a good measure. If the infrastructure is well managed, so what if we are more densely populated?
In fact, if given a choice, I will try to run this country 24/7. I will promote staggering work hours for a start. I understand that there are merits for having a somewhat common operating hour – you allow social bonding to occur, it is easier to get things done since you know that you will be able to reach someone if you call at certain hours. However, this also means that our transportation is crammed at certain hours and our restaurants are always either too packed or too empty.
To increase our national income, I will link up with countries with different time zones with us. Sports facilities should have extended hours as well, at least for a few centralised locations. I think there are merits in having a “city that never sleeps”. This could have us overcome our limitation on land space and make full use of our resources.
Of course, there are issues to manage as well. The first one is noise pollution. People’s health might be affected as well, but do note that there are some who function better in the night. Maintenance work schedule also has to be managed, since some maintenance work are possible simply because there is closing time.
This has been an idea which I have been thinking about for a long time. What do you think about it?
So today I went to Marina Barrage with my kid and wife. I remember back then when I was still a teenager (somewhat). I went there for the first time and I lit up a cigarette. Then comes this security guard who told me that this is government property and I should not be smoking here. I retorted where isn’t government property? Everywhere is a government property right? Reluctantly, I extinguished my cigarette. So that was who I was.
And today, if a video footage of me back then speaking like this surfaced, perhaps some might even say that I am unworthy of working as an educator. Thankfully, I have successfully quit smoking for 6 years. At least now I can just focus on taming my own character. =p
One major issue that we have for this generation is that their past can never be forgotten. Due to improvement in technology, it has become so cheap to record everything. One silly act done many years ago might have its repercussion many years later. In the west, there are laws enacted on an individual’s rights to be forgotten. And I think perhaps it is time that we look into this as well. Oh, and if I am in charge, I will probably look into ways of having more protection for individuals against revenge porn. I think it is just cruel and despicable, and the impact on affected individual can be long-lasting.
Some time back, I was reflecting upon the fact that we are so lucky to be living in a democracy. Indeed, I also agree that if you have a capable and benevolent leader, it is much more convenient to have absolute power. But we cannot guarantee that, and we cannot ensure that he/she will never change. Hence, the system that we currently have seems to be the best practical choice. Imagine if you are living in a country without the voting system, there is no way to have checks and balances; you simply have to trust the people up there to do their job. Yet, in many modern democracies, the country isn’t doing very well either. Corruption is rampant, injustice happens now and then as well.
Sometimes, politics feels like a game only playable by those who are rich and powerful. In an election, the amount of money you have to promote yourself is important. After the election, your personal resources to get things done also matter. It seems like for the common people who wish to contribute, it is simply out of reach. Then again, perhaps this is a test of the fortitude of the individual.
For the past election, I have looked at some candidates and I wonder how do they even call themselves a politician with that kind of calibre. But the fact that they are putting themselves out there, having the courage to stand up is already commendable.
As an aspiring youth (yes, still one according to NYC’s definition), I have always considered joining politics. I believe that I am able to present good perspective and solution to problems that we face. I come from a very unique background. I have also been told that I seem very suitable to be working in this area. Of course, there are limitations. First, my background can be an issue of controversy and secondly, I am not exactly an elite. And even if I were to consider this as a career, what options do I really have? I can’t seem to find an opposition party that I agree with. And even if I wanted to join the PAP, they probably wouldn’t want me anyway. Standing as an independent? I am probably going to contribute my deposit to the nation-building fund. Most importantly, my current career choice already forbids me from getting involved in politics in the first place.
Having experienced all three different sector – entrepreneurial, private sector and public sector, I am really more inclined to be with the public sector. The reason is that when you are working in the public sector, you are empowered to the right thing. In the private sector, sometimes in order to survive in the business world, you have to make decisions to choose between doing the utmost right thing and your bottom line. I don’t even want to talk about running your own business. Hence, because I really want to serve, I joined the public sector. It does have its perks but there are trade-offs as well. And if you were to ask me years ago, I will never consider joining the public sector because my impression of it is that it is very restrictive.
Anyway, not sure how to end the post today so let’s just enjoy the pictures I took today. (Please note that it is an offence to steal these pictures without permission even if you credit the photographer)
Today I realised something. Sometimes, taking the most rational choice might not make you happy, even when it is the most correct path to take. For example, you may want to study philosophy, but it is a path which you know doesn’t make sense and you chose engineering instead. Reasoning is easy because it is more tangible than happiness. A lot of times we forget to take into consideration happiness and end up being miserable, because we took the most rational path.
Today, I saw a lot of post about the Founder’s Bak Kuh Teh again. So basically, if you haven’t heard the news, which will really surprise me since statistically speaking, it is actually much easier to see that piece of news instead of hearing it from me; the second-generation owner of the multi-chain soup store shared a Facebook post to ask people to support his business as he is at risk of closing down due to Covid19. Unfortunately, during the interview, he was wearing an expensive watch and there were some rumours about his lavish lifestyle; people started attacking him instead. Initially, my reaction was that if you do not want to support, then just don’t go there. Why is there a need to attack him? But on second thoughts, perhaps these people wanted to warn others so that they can make an informed decision.
This, however, sparked off some thoughts about the internet. Sometimes, the culture on the internet is so ugly that I wonder what we can do about it. It seems like there is this group of people who have done nothing spectacular with their lives but yet find themselves in a position to criticise others without any restraint at all. I am not entirely nice online either; if you give it to me, I will give it to you. But I really have nothing against anyone personally.
As shared before, I have been writing since I was 15. During these years, I have been threatened, intimidated with messages and even had my blog projected and mocked in class before. I vividly remember about a man who criticised me for my political view, then years later started preaching online about being nice. I thought it was fun to agree with him and include the screenshots of his attacks. It wasn’t even about the arguments that I was making, just basically scolding me. Likewise, I am psychologically prepared that one day, perhaps I will have a taste of my own medicine.
I find it amusing that people try to intimidate me by sending me messages in the middle of the night asking for a face to face meeting even in 2020. For one, it is a serious lack of background research. Furthermore, do they really think that I will be intimidated when I save them the trouble by listing my number online? I am not being cocky, but I think if you are trying to intimidate me just because you couldn’t win an argument is childish. And I wonder what someone like that will do to others who are more easily bullied. I really kinda hate bullies and I try to make a statement that I hope will stick. Legally of course.
Back on the original topic, I have met people who wore expensive watches and doesn’t tip. On the other hand, there are some who lives on a few hundred dollars a month but they tip. It really makes me ponder who is the richer one. There is nothing wrong with the former. I am just intrigued by the mentality of the latter and how can I be someone like that. I am a very stingy person. I don’t come from a rich family, and even if you consider them rich, they don’t provide me much financial support. Even my university fees are paid pretty much on my own. I am always amazed by those people who can lead a very simple life, giving a lot more than they receive, never finding the need to dress or buy branded goods. I am trying to be at that stage but unfortunately, I am not there yet. Maybe one day when I have results to prove for myself, I don’t have to do that I suppose? Yet celebrities even as they are famous, load up a lot on luxury goods as well. I wonder what’s their mentality then.
Anyway, recently I bought a Rolex. It is nothing extraordinary, just a Datejust. A part of me bought it because if you were to divide the cost of the watch over its useful lifespan, it probably cost less than my Apple watch. More importantly, I just want to get a nice watch because I am 30. Many of my friends are already wearing one, and I just feel kinda left out. Perhaps a part of me also hopes that when I go out and meet people, I am able to converse somewhat on an equal standing. I don’t need them to be impressed, I just need to be taken as an equal.
And to think of it, it is actually quite pathetic. Why do I need a watch to be taken seriously? But unfortunately in this world, sometimes, it is how it is. People look at you, how you dress and they already labelled you. Of course, I wish that they will be able to see my intellect, my contributions, my skills and whatsoever. But not everyone will give you that chance. And for some who overdo it, it grosses me out. I remember riding to a petrol kiosk in a motorcycle and the attendant didn’t even say hi. Another I went there in a flashy car and he was suddenly so attentive. Maybe he was just in a bad mood that day? Haha…
Thinking of which, perhaps it is just like my tattoos. In normal days, you can’t see it and I wouldn’t want to show it. But in circumstances which I have to flash it just to be taken seriously, I know it is there for me. It is like my Rolex. In most circumstances, I wouldn’t even want people to notice it. But sometimes, it might just help to shut materialistic people up. Did I mention that I painted it black just to be less conspicuous? But it turned out too ugly so I restored it eventually. I am thinking of trying something else to turn it black. =)
This is why I hate that PDVL sticker on my car. I converted my vehicle as I drive from time to time so as to increase my income, make good use of the vehicle I have bought, meet new people and have a fall back in case one day I lose my job. But that sticker automatically makes people assume that it is a rented vehicle. Some of them are nice, but some will treat you as if you are a lower class of human being the moment they see you driving a vehicle with that label. In fact, the “lower class” the person is, the more I treat them with courtesy. Many of them actually have a lot of wisdom and real-world experiences that you can learn from. But of course, there are also empty heads amongst them as well which really explains why they are unable to develop further. I really try not to judge and leave people alone unless they try to mess with me.
I must say that I am aware that my current mindset is less than ideal. I still feel the need to prove myself using these material goods and I am working towards a better mindset. I don’t really think that I am materialistic. Many times, it is actually because we have to deal with materialistic people. I don’t really care if someone is rich or not; I’ll treat you the same. And I don’t peg success to wealth either. Someone who is doing volunteer work and earns little actually earns my respect more than a highly successful business owner.
During a time when someone was doubtful about my financial standing, I felt that driving my mum’s convertible down is the best way I can assure him indirectly. I was upfront; I mentioned it wasn’t my car. But I was trying to impress upon that even if I don’t own this car, I guess it is to show that have some form of support if I really need it, although to be honest, I really don’t expect any help from my family. And at this age, I really don’t want to still be relying on my parents either. But I guess it helps somewhat I suppose.
That said, I tend to hold reservations for such matters. I know some who stays in a landed property but rented, driving luxury cars but rented too. Expensive watches? Second hand or fake. High end office spaces? Co-shared. There are so many ways we can fake looking rich these days. And there are some who are really well to do but look ordinary. So don’t be too quick to judge.
Will I be judged as a Minister if I wear a Rolex? Even our Prime Minister wears a Seiko. Singaporeans seem to detest those who are rich. If you were to commit an offence driving a BMW as compared to a Toyota, the reaction you get on the internet will probably be magnified. Is it a crime to be rich? Apparently so according to “trial by internet”. I hold a different opinion. I often shared that if a rich man come and tell you that a Rolex is cheap, don’t be offended. He is just speaking his mind. Insensitive perhaps but nothing malicious, unless proven otherwise of course.
I do understand why sometimes Singaporeans get upset with the rich. Especially when the person is a foreigner. You are here living in your homeland and you get talked down to by a foreigner? It just doesn’t feel right. There is a Chinese saying that if you enter a household, you have to bend your head low else you will hit the ceiling. It is to illustrate that you should be humble in a foreign land, and I agree with that as well. You can’t just go to someone’s house and be arrogant.
Yet, there has been cases of rich foreigners boasting about their wealth, belittling the locals and these video footages went viral. Sometimes, I don’t even understand what is there to boast about. I remember this case of this man who boasted to a security guard that he bought this apartment for 1.5 million. Immediately, the first thought in my mind is “What a bargain!”. You mean I can boast like this with just a 1.5 million apartment? No, I am not richer than him. But some HDBs already cost 1 million. I find it absolutely amusing. It might be just a one-off thing, and I am quite sure he learnt his lesson.
One way that I view these people, including myself at times, is that people who have a very strong self-confidence really don’t have a need to boast. More often than not, I’ll just play along. Does it really hurt to make someone feel a little better about himself? I remember a friend who have a serious case of inferior complex. He once complimented me for the car that I drove (yeap, the same convertible that doesn’t belong to me). I acknowledge his words but made it clear that I was just borrowing it. A short while later it came. “Oh, so your one doesn’t come with autoboot retract ah…” I smiled and said, “ya, don’t have.” He walked away feeling better about himself and I didn’t lose anything either.
If there is one thing that I hate, that is to involve children in politics. I once saw a picture where parents dress their kids up with attire promoting a certain political party and today, I saw another post where children are once again influenced by their parents to incline towards a certain party.
Children are children. They are not tools for us to forward our political agenda. That being said, as I write this article, I also question if I involve my child in politics? Perhaps this is a line which I need to tread carefully as well.
Moving forward, I will try to write an article every day. I think it is a good habit to keep as it helps me to keep my writing skills sharp (even though I am writing a lot these days during work as well). I also think it makes my reader knows that there is something to look forward to each day at my blog.
I have been writing since I was very young. I started blogging since I was 15 and back then, I really don’t practice much of a self-censor. I still have a copy of my blog but I have taken it offline. It is too cringeworthy. I hope this does not qualify as “sanitising one’s past” as termed by one of a recent prominent figure.
Recently, I have also unfollowed quite a number of Facebook pages. I am getting tired of the low quality, speculative and inflammatory posting. It seems to attract a lot of people, but it is not right in my opinion. I think I would rather be uninformed than misinformed, quoting Mark Twain.
These days, people seldom read long articles anymore. Our attention span (and patience) seems to decrease as technology improves. Sooner or later, perhaps we have to deliver lectures in 5 minutes “hacks” video and textbooks might go out of fashion. I still believe that rigorous topics require extensive reading. And reading long articles helps to train one’s stamina, much like a long run.
Due to my current occupation, it is legislated that I do not portray the impression that I am supporting any political party. I must also not suggest alternative policies. Previously, I adopted a neutral approach, as much as possible. But I realised that I was unable to really be neutral, hence I stopped commenting at all.
Really had an overdose of politics matters for the whole election matters. Probably should rest my mind and focus on other things for the time being. What about you? Are you sick of all these like me too?
As an educator, we must never lose the humility to say sorry when we are wrong and remember that we are not always right. And we should constantly scrutinize what we think we know so that we can be more correct.
Because to be an educator means that we believe in the malleability of humans, the ability for one to change from wrong to becoming right, from knowing nothing to knowing something, from being unsophisticated to being refined.
Hence, we should display this belief not only in how we deal with our students, but how we deal with ourselves, our colleagues, and the world around us.
So I have closed both accounts. Reason being that I realised that I cannot really be neutral when it comes to commenting on political matters. I tend to self-censor when it comes to certain parties and I don’t think it is fair of me to do so, especially when my current position requires me to take a neutral stand. Hence, I have closed both accounts and will refrain from commenting on political matters. At least that will be my stand for now.
As much as I encourage people to be politically aware, I have came to realised that political matters are very divisive. It forces people to take a stand and it splits people up into groups. Not a very good thing to discuss when you are trying to build a relationship. From what I know, even the best politician have someone who hates him/her. Every action taken, be it the right one or wrong, there is criticism.
Recently, I have also heard a comment about people sanitizing their past. While I do agree that it raises some eyebrows should one tries to hide their past, sometimes, I wonder if one should leave a long trail of themselves on the internet. In the past, most of the things that we say or do will not be brought up again unless it is of such significance that someone actually record them down at that point in time. However, the internet has provided a convenient way for all these to be recorded. And things can then be brought up later, in a different context, to be held against you. On top of that, it can be used against you when you no longer reflect the same level of maturity that you first had when you wrote certain things.
Is it fair that right now, there is a movement across some countries, where they remove statues of famous people for what they have said or did in the past when our values as a community have shifted? Would we have done any better if we are born during that time?
Hence, throughout the years, I have always been going through cycles of refreshing my social media account and my website, because I no longer remember what I write and hence may not even be holding the same view today. Of course, when we assess someone, we would want to see consistency. But we often forget that people do grow. And I think the best consistency that I can offer for those who want to judge me, is to ask those who have known me for a long time.