Thanks, But No Thanks

Invitation

Invited some people to a soirée recently – gave everybody advance notice – but was surprised at how rude some Singaporeans have become.

One replied to say “Whatever free time I have I spend on my son.”

“My Sundays belong to my wife,” responded another.

Another said “I have an event to plan.”

Yet another asked “What time will it end? I may come after my visit to my in-laws.”

No “thank you”s and no apologies.

A few didn’t even bother to RSVP.

Don’t get me wrong; the majority of those who accepted did so with grace – “Thanks so much for the invitation, it’s my pleasure to attend” and they came bearing gifts.

The majority of those who couldn’t make it were equally kind – “Thanks so much for the invitation, I would love to be there, unfortunately I have a prior engagement and regret that I am unable to come. Please have a great time, I will be with you all in spirit” or words to that effect. One couple even sent a lovely bouquet of flowers.

What caused this deterioration in good graces?

Could it be because people who are familiar with you take liberty in being discourteous, ie, they don’t see a need to be polite with you anymore?

Could it be because of smartphones and instant messaging, people, used to being sparing with words, dispense with courtesy altogether?

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O Cha Cha Cha O Cha Cha Cha

I hear nothing, I see nothing, I know nothing.

I hear nothing, I see nothing, I know nothing.

It doesn’t take much to lighten up my mood.

I just have to look at news from neighboring countries – in Malaysia, a big gorilla with a fake British accent is now top dog but his misdemeanors are so transparent it is laughable, in Indonesia, clowns continue to rule the roost but it is Thailand that had me roaring on the floor the other morning.

Two 8-year-old girls have been charged under a draconian Thai junta law for tearing down voter lists for an upcoming referendum, as that Neanderthal Prayut Chan-o-cha goes to increasingly bizarre lengths to muzzle dissent.

The junta led by this mongrel attack dog is determined to see a charter it drafted pass in the August 7th poll and has outlawed critical discussion of the document with a 10-year prison sentence.

Campaigning of any kind is also banned and authorities have already arrested or warned scores of people for handing out critical leaflets or wearing “Vote No” T-shirts.

The 8-year-olds fell foul of the law after confessing this week to tearing down voter lists outside a school in northern Thailand because they liked the paper’s pink color.

Can you beat that?

Prayut Chan-o-cha is better off as a security guard.

Let me explain – most security guards (wannabe cops) I have encountered are utterly inflexible and stick by the books without exercising what little brain cells they have.

To allow someone with that level of IQ to become prime minister of Thailand is a suicidal move by the Thais.

Sure, rules are there for a reason but dogmatic and blind adherence to rules is sheer stupidity.

Let’s say there is a law forbidding people to work on public holidays but if your child drops into a well, on such a day, does it mean you are not allowed to go rescue him?

Maybe only parents will understand this.

As for the likes of Chan-o-cha, I don’t know.

If those two innocent school girls are his granddaughters would he arrest them?

Probably.

He looks like the type who would throw his own mother under the bus.

Yeah, sure, lock me up; the lèse-majesté law is for insult to monarchs, not to buffoons.

Singapore ministers should take care not to outdo some of their counterparts in the neighboring countries.

This can be tricky because when you are doing what you are doing, you often can’t tell how ridiculous you really are behaving. This is more so when you harbor the perception that you have the support of the majority or are surrounded by bootlickers whose sole purpose of their existence is to suck up to you.

It often takes bystanders outside the furor to observe what an idiot you have become with your actions and words.

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Amateur Hour

Silenced

Unbeknownst to many, the question that’s always at the back of people’s minds when they interact with you is “Are you worthy of my liking and respect?”

Some people say “I don’t need anyone to like me, just respect me.”

Some, on the other hand, think that it’s more important to be liked. After all, “conventional wisdom” is that if you like someone, you would gladly do things for them.

Both are wrong.

Liking and respect go together.

How do you like someone without respecting him?

How do you respect someone without liking him?

I for one, cannot.

Many are confused about this whole issue so they either behave in a manner that they think will gain them respect or in a manner that will guarantee that people will like them, that is, be the nice guy, say only things people want to hear.

Having lived and worked internationally for decades, I have met all kinds of people; plus my professional training enables me to size people up very accurately – I am right 99.99% of the time.

One other thing: a person’s position does not automatically bestow respect on him. Respect has to be earned and it is earned by how you conduct yourself.

So watch your steps. Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Prayut Chan-o-cha both suppress freedom of speech – neither are being liked or respected. They are feared.

But those who strike fear will crumble in the face of the pros – truth be told, I have on numerous occasions seen grown men many years older than me cower and literally break down in tears in front of me when they tried to play politics with me and were crushed by me instead.

I’m 59, age has its edge. That plus experience and intelligence.

Go figure.

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California Dreaming

She's not the only one sleeping.

She’s not the only one sleeping.

California Fitness is not so fit after all.

In Hong Kong, employees of California Fitness said they are owed about US$1.3 million in salaries and customers may have pre-paid about US$130 million in fees.

Arrests have been made there.

As in Hong Kong, the abrupt closure of all its gyms in Singapore recently is yet another oft-repeated story of a business biting the dust after collecting advance payment from gullible customers.

The only difference is that here in Singapore, we don’t seem to see any intervention by the authorities or consumer watch dogs.

It’s as if they have been sleeping.

There is no excuse for the lack of preemptive action especially when we have seen more than our fair share of such cases – gyms, spa, yoga studios have sold packages and then suddenly close, leaving customers in dire straits with little chance of recovering their money.

The market has been rife with information about the troubles brewing within California Fitness, yet nothing was done to protect consumers.

Surely the powers that be know that consumers will be baying for blood when California Fitness goes down!

But was anything done to protect consumers?

The media carry reports of customers signing expensive long-term packages just days before the chain collapsed.

Singaporeans are suckers for packages.

Now we suffer for that.

Two factors drive this phenomenon:

(1) Greed – too many of us are enamored with discounts, so when crafty marketers promise to throw in a couple of “free” sessions, we bite. We willingly pay in advance for services not yet rendered. Why? To enjoy the discount. Even when we know that bailing out halfway involves paying a penalty, we sign up merrily. “Got discount mah!”

(2) Marketers exploit our greed and our gullibility. But they themselves aren’t all that smart too. Just because a chain is large doesn’t mean it is being managed by astute business people. Which retard can’t open a large network of stores when there is a huge infusion of funds? Remember many familiar names, big chains that used to dot our landscape – where are they now? There is such a thing called “burn rate” and when your outgo is more than your income, your upkeep will be your downfall eventually. You may have deep pockets but nobody can lose money forever.

Of course, now that the chain has gone kaput, everyone has something to say about it. There is no lack of instant experts. (Yours truly included.)

But one view I came across makes a lot of sense – the opinion of Dr Leng Ho Keat, Assistant Professor of Physical Education and Sports Science at the National Institute of Education. In talking to the media about why chains like California Fitness collapse, he cited the selling of lifetime memberships as a foolhardy move by gyms.

“If you’re selling a lifetime membership to a 20-year-old, he can exercise there for free for the next 60 years of his life,” he said. “So you need to be very prudent and calculate how much it costs to offer such packages.”

When businesses fail to recognize this, they may use up the money thinking it is profit and this could result in cash flow issues in the future, he added.

“So it’s not about not getting enough customers, but not managing their cash flow properly.”

Well said indeed.

That’s why he’s a professor and I’m just a noise maker.

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From Hero to Zero

Meet our former CEO.

Meet our former CEO.

An organization I am familiar with was suffering from 24 consecutive quarters of negative earnings.

The inevitable had to happen.

Even superior performers who had been with the firm for decades were laid off in a bid to minimize operating costs.

But a very small group of execs remained unscathed.

These were protected members of the CEO’s inner sanctum.

When the CEO first assumed leadership, he pulled along two of his buddies from his previous company.

The three of them, The Unholy Trinity, became the troika of power.

The mafia that could do no wrong.

They ran the company as they saw fit.

Even the deputy CEO was ousted.

In fact, anyone that outshone any member of The Unholy Trinity was put down.

Worse, this insidious group pandered to their sycophants, protecting and shielding them.

Lots of talented resources were suppressed so that The Unholy Trinity could gain eminence.

All these at the expense of the organization and the constituents it was meant to serve.

The organization continued to be weakened until a coup was mounted and the mutiny resulted in the disposal of The Unholy Trinity.

One sees many similar parallels in history –  from Lenin and Stalin to Saddam and Gaddafi, despots were eventually disposed.

There are lessons for us all here.

First, people are not blind. It is said that “when you are in it, you don’t see it” but people can see your shenanigans.

Second, everyone has a boss – The Unholy Trinity met their downfall when disgruntled employees and shareholders petitioned head office. Those at headquarters are usually protective of the local leaders they have appointed, but when the disgruntlement reached epic levels, headquarters had no choice but to act. The axe fell. So while the mafia insiders were getting their knobs polished, their downfall was being meticulously planned. Yup, their victims were not sitting on their hands, they were plotting the mafia’s total annihilation, step by step.

Third, you may enjoy being at the top, but it’s a law of nature and a matter of time before you will be brought low and humbled, if not humiliated. Like they say, “every dog has its day” and you will get your comeuppance, eventually.

Dickwads come and dickwads go, one day you’re cock of the walk, the next you’re a feather duster.

The plebeians of the world have all the time in the world to wait you out and see you bite the dust.

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How a Taxi Driver Made My Day

Mr Goh with his erhu.

Mr Goh with his erhu.

Last Friday I took a SMRT cab (number SHF 24E, driven by a Mr Goh) from JCube to Ngee Ann City in what turned out to be a most joyous experience.

Mr Goh was playing erhu music on his sound system and commented on the beauty of the music. “Can you visualize the birds flying around – this is what this piece is depicting,” he pointed out and then proceeded to explain the complexity of the piece and how difficult it is to master that tune.

He then played another CD for me and with Mr Goh’s explanation, this time I could almost “see” horses prancing around, going through their various gaits – trotting, cantering and galloping, etc.

What was very cheery about the whole experience was Mr Goh’s very friendly demeanor and his overwhelming and infectious passion for this two-string Chinese fiddle, which is a most difficult musical instrument to play, let alone master.

I learned that he is a sprightly and exuberant 56-year-old who took up the erhu five years ago so that he would have something to do during those long waits for passengers. He saw a man from China playing the erhu somewhere in Woodlands and paid the stranger to teach him. Mr Goh bought his own erhu from an antique shop, and buys cheap CDs (“three for only $10!”)  from Rochor to listen for inspiration. He practices everyday.

Mr Goh is such a refreshing change from the usual cabbies I meet, most of whom are grouchy sourpusses obsessed with criticizing the government. He was also very optimistic and positive, unlike many other drivers who only know how to lament about how bad times are. Mr Goh played a rather challenging piece on his sound system for me to listen and told me to focus on one difficult part and he said “In five years, I shall be able to play something like this.”

What an uplifting experience!

When the cab came to a stop, my day got better because I was further rewarded when Mr Goh took the erhu resting by his side and played a short rendition for me to appreciate.

I left the cab feeling heartened and inspired by this extraordinarily heartwarming experience and wished Mr Goh well.

Mr Goh, may you live long and prosper!

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Short Man Syndrome

Short people, especially men, tend to overcompensate for their height, or lack thereof, by behaving in obnoxious, attention-seeking manners. They smoke big cigars, brag about the size of their dicks, or boast about their sexual conquests.

This phenomenon is often referred to as The Napoleon Complex because it is thought that Napoleon Bonaparte was a short man, though historians now tell us that Napoleon was actually taller than the average French man of his day, but as he was always seen surrounded by his Imperial Guards who were of above average height, Napoleon always seemed to appear to be a short fellow.

The Napoleon Complex is also a term used to denote those persons who have little or no standing or importance within a social or business group but who strut about falsely exhibiting advanced levels of authority in spite of the lack of real authority. Over-zealous security guards are good examples of that. They are often referred to as “rent-a-cops” or wannabe cops.

I have a good buddy who’s a shorty, but though vertically challenged, he exhibits none of the loathsome characteristics of The Napoleon Complex. When I am with him, I see beyond the physical. As a matter of fact, in my eyes, he is a giant among men – extremely bright, considerate and sensitive, unlike many of those blinking, tantrum-throwing dickless midgets in my life who irritate me to no end. These retards ought to get a life and grow up.

Oops!

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I Have Woken Up

Free-loadersToday I woke up and declared to myself:

For far too many times, I have been taken to the cleaners by the parasites in my life.

Schnorrer’s ride on my gravy train will come to an end as of today.

Yes, Mooch aka Sponger may soon find me as scarce as hair on the body of someone inflicted with Alopecia Universalis.

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Sleepy Head

ComatoseI can never understand how some people can walk into an eatery, plonk themselves in a 4-seat sofa setup, doesn’t even buy a drink and just go to sleep.

This young man pictured above did precisely that – this photo was taken at about 2pm at Burger King, Jem, Jurong, last Thursday.

It was still “peak hour” at restaurants during that time, the place was packed to capacity and other customers could not sit because he occupied the whole area.

What in the world is wrong with some people?

Someone should wake that idiot up and ask him if he would allow non customers to walk in, hoard seats and have a nap if that was his restaurant.

But it’s pointless I guess. People like him are unlikely to end up as restaurateurs.

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Mother of All Gifts!

Cabinent

Charles Brown of Tabac 101, Singapore, had this wooden pipe display cabinet custom-built and shipped to me from the USA.

It is supposed to be a gift for my 60th birthday, which isn’t until February next year, insha’Allah.

What a humongously pleasant surprise indeed!

It’s a beautiful display case large enough for 56 tobacco pipes and will definitely occupy pride of place in my humble abode.

Thanks, Charlie!

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