Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Forgetting Your Purpose

Originally, transport companies were privatized to make them more efficient. I remember when I was in school, I was taught that privatization was done because profit makes it an easy way for infrastructure services like power, water and transport to be motivated enough to streamline their offerings and push the companies to function better.

However, there is one assumption.

That the gah-men maintains control on these companies and they do not forget their purpose.

However, when these companies focus too hard on the bottomline, and forget what they were originally set up to do, we have a problem that looks strikingly like what we have now.

Actually, I don't even blame the transport companies. They are just the most recent ones to get flak for system-wide amnesia.

Telcos done it. Singtel, according to a lot of my friends have become so incredibly unresponsive, and complacent that in many places in Singapore, the reception and 3G internet speeds are pathetic. It's even scarier when you consider that Singtel is the one that maintains all the repeater stations in Singapore. The customer service in Singtel, has cause some to consider them Stink-tel.

They forget that they do not answer to the shareholders. They answer to the people of Singapore, whose taxes was used to create the company in the first place.

Comfort Delgro FINALLY realizes that they are having a problem retaining their taxi drivers and getting them to drive on rainy days. But they don't think that the reason for that, is because the draconian rules they impose or the ridiculous fare structures they insist on implementing.

They forget that they are at core a company that caters to the infrastructure of Singapore.

Politicians forget. That the reason why Singaporeans are so yielding is because when the nation of Singapore was formed, we submitted because of a social contract. One that is not explicitly written, but holds true nonetheless. That we give up the power to do exactly what we like, when we like, and in return the powers that be do what's the best for US, to the best of their ability. For that, we are a democracy run like a monarchy (I'd say dictatorship, but it's not passed from father to son).

Now, it's about being somebody, rather than doing something. No, you cannot fake "giving a damn". Eventually, you'll ALWAYS be found out. So much the faster when you stick your foot in your mouth on a regular basis.

NTUC has forgotten that it is the check and balance when it comes to representing the people that cannot be represented. For the little guy. It's forgotten because it's more profitable to run supermarkets, and it's been too long since it's been called to do anything related to its name, the National Trade Union Cooperative.

So, it just mouth the words that were given to it, and it's pretty much become a toothless tiger. When the Ministry of Manpower does nothing but facilitate business, the police enforce written law, without understanding the spirit of it, the National Wage Council (yes, there is such a thing) advice is so much smoke, who do the little people turn to when there is wrongdoing? Nobody.

The press has forgotten for a long time. There has not been independent reporting in this country for a long, long time. Words get twisted out of context, irrelevant news get blown out of proportion, and things that are of concern are sidelined.

Nowadays, Facebook's timeline give me a better view of the world than the Straits Times, and that's a sad, sad fact indeed.

Watchdog bodies have forgotten that their job is to ensure state run enterprises remember their purpose. A monopoly or an oligopoly is allowed because it is suppose to be more efficient under real world circumstances. But seriously, what is the fine of $100,000 when the daily takings of a transport company is in the millions? Not even a slap on the wrist. When watchdog bodies have no teeth, and their bark is worse than their bite, who remembers them?

Transport companies forgot that they are suppose to manage and maintain infrastructural efficiency in Singapore so we, the citizens and residents of Singapore can do our busy bee impression and work for Singapore, Incorporated. When transport prices keep going up, and there is absolutely no apparent increase in efficacy, we ask, exactly what are the transport companies doing? Are they suppose to manage the infrastructure, which is paid for by the taxes of the people in the first place, or are they suppose to just manage the profit? What's the company doing with the profits anyway, if not to reinvest into making Singapore's transport network that much better?

Now, transport companies raise prices, which the PTC almost automatically agrees to, and we, the citizens of Singapore, not only paid to create the infrastructure, also pays to maintain and upgrade it. Where does the  profits go to? Lord only knows, but I thought I saw this on an episode of Hustle once.

Has the authorities related to housing and development forgotten? I think so. When prices of flats are through the roof, that the idea of having a place to stay is so far out of your mind if you're under 40 years old right now, one must wonder, what is the purpose of flats that are constructed with the money of the people, and then sold back to them at a MASSIVE profit again? Perhaps it is to show the world bank that Singapore has the most number of millionaires in the world, and most of these millionaires are rich because of a lease. No, not ownership. A lease. Yes, people who live in HDB flats, HDB is still your landlord, just because it doesn't say so on paper doesn't make it any different.

We, the people, have forgotten. Haven't we? Governments should fear the people, not the other way around. We have forgotten we can do something about this. We believe the press when it said that the President is a ceremonial role, and not the most powerful person in the land because he is the one that holds the veto vote in any parliamentary decision. We forget that the one that holds the purse strings very often holds the power to force government ministries to remember and act for the good of the people. We forget that the President holds the power to change key gahmen figures, and they are appointed by his approval, yes, including the Prime Minister.

The President of Singapore is suppose to represent the people, and when the people forget, apparently, so does the one that represents them.

The powers of the Singapore President, as it is written on Wikipedia, includes appointing the Prime Minister without consultation with ANYONE. 

So right now, where I stand, the land where I was born and raised, is one that I live in. Not because of any great love for the land, because it has forgotten itself, but because it is expedient, and because I hold on desperately to  hope, that one day, it might remember.

Monday, November 05, 2012

Love Is Like A BBQ...

No, seriously. I've been giving it some thought now, and you know, I'm seeing a lot of similarity.

The Beginning - The Fire

The start of any relationship is often the most exciting. The fire burns incredibly bright, the couple can't get enough of each other, and seem stuck together like glue. They shout to the world that they're in LOVE, and since once is never enough, they do it over and over again.

The beginning the any good BBQ fire, you know, is fire. Burning high and bright, this is the visually the most exciting part of the whole evening. Not particularly useful when it comes to cooking, but it sure looks damn good.

Keep the fire at this level, and you realize that your charcoal burns out quickly, your food gets charred, and you'll end up hungry. Starting to see a similarity?

The Middle - The Heat

Anybody who has stood next to a BBQ pit will tell you that when the fire dies down, and the coals are red hot, that's when the pit is ready for the good stuff. Just because the fire is gone, don't mean the heat is. In fact, if anything, the grill is now even hotter than before.

This heat cooks everything, and a with a little patience, you can get incredible results. Perfectly done steak, vegetables slightly charred on the outside, but sweet and juicy on the inside, even clams and stingray, if you have aluminium foil.

Oh you get the occasional spurt of fire, especially if the grease drips off and into the flame, but hey, it just serves to add flavour and colour.

Keeping the grill hot at this point is not difficult. Conscientiously adding some charcoal now and then, and a few quick strokes of the fan, you can keep the grill going the entire night.

When it comes to the relationship between two people, well, the similarity is quite obvious isn't it? After the initial adrenaline rush, and mind-blowing excitement, the relationship matures to a slow, but intense burn.

Two people start finding out more about each other, intimacy deepens (no, not just the sex. Get your mind out of the gutter!), and they accept each other for who they really are, and in the words of my dear beloved sister, they would even start to grow together.

Sure there are flare-ups and arguments on occasion, but it just serves to spice up the relationship, and yes, do NOT get complacent. Be grateful, enjoy, keep the fire stoked and it will last a long time.

The End - Walking Away

At the end of the BBQ, we usually just let the fire burn down. Sure you can quench the coals, but that often leaves a bigger mess. When the charcoal is neglected, it dies. Slowly, the fuel burns to ash, and without anything new being added, it fades off, becomes a memory, and dispersed by the wind.

When two people stop working on the relationship, and leave it be, the relationship begins to cool off and fade. After some time, without a little care and concern, complacency kills the relationship and the end is nigh.

I do not think that there is ever, the ONE, at least not for me. Just like there is no one perfect BBQ. There is however, times where it comes pretty close, and sometimes, even after the meal ends, the tastes and the memories remain.

Still, that just makes for an even better meal next time, yes?

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Women Are To Be Loved...

Not understood. This is my new mantra. Oscar Wilde is a smart man.

Boys, certain things work. Don't ask why. Just know that they do, and use it. Kinda like driving a car from Point A to Point B. You don't have to figure out the physics and chemistry that go into making the engine, like Nike says, Just Do It.

1. Chocolates almost always work. Have an emergency stash of her favourites around at all times.
2. She will shop. Always. Bring a Book.
3. She. Comes. First. The only exceptions are when she says so. This is non-negotiable.
4. When she rants, listen. Offer sayang before you offer solutions.
5. Make her look good on the dance floor, and every man will look at her. Every woman, would look at YOU.

Once I find out other things, I'll put it up.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Want Racial Harmony, Build Hawker Centres

There has been a lot of talk about race and stuff recently with all the frigging debacles around. I have only one thing to say.

If I was the CEO of NTUC, I'd have fired her too. Not for racist sentiments. Oh no. I'd fire her, because she just proven that her IQ is comparable to her shoe size, and for being a complete fuckwit. I don't know and don't care what your inclinations are, but to put it up on Facebook? Find me a soft wall so I can hit my head gently against it.

But let's consider the bigger picture. Racism in Singapore. Are we going to be like the States? And we become so incredibly sensitive about race, and make such a big deal about avoiding it? Is there no better model?

One already exists. Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you, the Singapore Hawker Centre.

I have, in times past, told many of my overseas friends that the hawker centre is the sign of a truly integrated society where regardless of race, language or religion, good food is good food, and everybody drinks Tiger.

I mean seriously. If I, a Chinese boy, decides to buy nasi lemak, does anyone bat an eyelid? No. If my Malay friends decides to get some vegetarian zi-char, nobody cares except, "nice or not?" and seriously, EVERYONE EATS PRATA! And all of this happens under one roof!

The Chinese stalls are next to Indian stalls, which is next to the sarabat stall, and nobody says ANYTHING for the longest time! Why are we being all sensitive now? We are colourblind when it comes to food, why should it be different for anything else in the world?

And honestly, Malay, Chinese, Indian, who cares? When it comes to food, good is good. When it comes to people, same thing. Simple, no?

Tuesday, October 09, 2012

Ambiguous Question

I have a problem with the "Have you had casual sex in the last 6 months?" question on the blood donation card. I am ALWAYS serious about sex.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

The Job Of A Trainer

Is to see things for what they are, and people for who they are. Then have the belief that they can be better. And THEN hopefully the tools for the job.

Monday, March 05, 2012

The Inscurity Blanket

Insecurity. So prevalent, it is almost a pre-requisite for being human. We all have a little of it, and the way it influences ou actions and thoughts often impacts how we live our lives and treat the people around us.

Recently I noticed that we like to wrap this insecurity about us. Like the oppsite of Linus' security blanket, or the direct opposite of rose tinted glasses. And strangely enough, just like the opposite of rose tinted glasses, we often turn this view inwards.

Why is insecurity so comforting that we would rather wrap ourselves up in it than shed it aside and see things for what they really are? Why does a strong man want to think of himself weak? Or a beautiful woman ugly, a rich person poor, or a powerful one, impotent?

I have it as well. My little shred of an insecurity blanket. I was asked in two days, by two different people why it is that I'm lounging. And maybe, just maybe I'm slacking because I have tried to aim for the stars at one time, fell badly, and now instead of standing at the precipice, ready to take another plunge, I am scared to even approach the edge, and am just comfortable where it's safe.

Perhaps it is the idea of with great power comes great responsibility. That if we acknowledge ourselves to be capable, we then become duty bound to exercise our gifts. And in that exercise, we have to acknowledge that we might possibly have a responsibility to ethics.

I have always held Marianne Williamson's quote from "A Return to Love" close to my heart, and I realize now that it might not be a poem for all of us, even though it was written that way. It is for the people who are finally willing to shed their insecurity blankets and live it up. For the ones who are kicking ass and taking names.

I am reminded again, that before we become, it must first be real inside our heads. Once it is real inside, reality will catch up. That, is the simplest, and the hardest lesson of all.

From Marianne Williamson's "A Return To Love"

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us.
We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you.
We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It's not just in some of us; it's in everyone.
And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Being Christian

Folks that know me now often find it hard to believe I'm Christian. A good number think it hard to believe I actually have a heart. Or a brain. But we'll leave those discussions for another day.

Right now, it's just certain realizations about my ideas on Christianity that I had over the years. It might be sacrilegious to some. But fuck it. These are my views and I'm sticking by them.

1. There are only two commandments in the New Testament. Three if you count the Great Commission. To love the Lord your God with all your heart, mind and soul, and to love your neighbour as yourself. Everything else is just good advice.

2. It's a personal relationship between God and me. It's not your business, really. If you tell me I shouldn't be doing this or should be doing that, I ask, "Your opinion or God's?" We can agree to disagree on a lot of things. It's not personal. I am not going to go bitch to God and go, "Don't let him into Heaven just cos he's doing this and that". I'd appreciate you to do the same. Even if you do, I'm going to smile politely, nod, and let you finish then I'll tell you I don't answer to you.

3.  God is not your personal bitch. You can ask for a lot of things. But in the end, the masochistic, hard headed streak in all of us means that a lot of lessons need to be hammered in. And depending on the thickness of our skulls, the size of the hammer varies. We learn our best lessons when they are delivered through the pain in our lives.

4.  That said, there are infinite blessings out there for you if only you are willing to believe that God is more than happy to give you everything you want, including contentment and happiness. But also understand with great blessings come great responsibility. Learn to be thankful.

5. "I'm a Christian, Unless You're Gay"  echoes something that I've been telling my friends for years now. One time, there was a sermon I heard in church. It's about love. And how love is not romantic like the kinds you find in romance novels. It's dirty, grimy, stinky. It gets you hurt. It takes a ton of work. It is frustrating and painful. It's not pretty or glamorous. That's what real love is like. And anybody who's been a caregiver, parent or a friend in need knows this. Jesus was among the outcast, the lepers, the crippled, the worn out and the ones that sinned. If you don't use that as your example, then exactly who ARE you using?

6. No I can't make sense of speaking in tongue. But I'm not gonna diss you if you do. If you ask me, we'll engage in a discussion. You worship your own way. I do it mine. Whatever is acceptable, it's not either of our call, is it? God saw fit to only judge at the end of days. What gives you the right to do otherwise?

7. Being a Christian is simple, not easy. Kinda like lifting a car engine. Let's not complicate matters and make it more difficult than it already is, yeah?

8. No, it does not answer all the questions in the world. At least for me, just the important ones. The rest are just "fiddly bits". If we differ on faith, that's your decision. We can have a discussion on differences. But in the end, I realize that I'm never gonna convince you to convert, neither are you going to do that to me.

9. The Great Commission is to spread the word. Not ram it down people's throats. Conversion is not your job. Don't make it yours.

10. I believe in Creation, even if I am still trying to figure out the timeline. Yes, evolution is ALSO based on faith.

There... here are my 10 realizations through the years. In the words of Craig Ferguson, "I look forward to your emails."