Anything to Get Attention

CertThere are scammers who tell you that you are listed in some Who’s Who directories – which they will sell to you for an exorbitant fee. The vainglorious keen to see their names in print will happily fork out the money. They don’t seem to realize that they are contributing to the retirement funds of the scammers.

To cash in on people’s desire to be “recognized” there are also swindlers who create so-called “industry awards” – for a fat fee, you may be honored with some titles like “Industrialist of the Year” or “Most Innovative Asian Businessperson of the Decade” or what have you. The charlatans behind these awards are no better than those shady characters who will sell you fake degrees and diplomas. Awards are presented at black-tie events complete with VIPs as guests-of-honor and lavish dinners. (Some members of parliament, apparently, have been suckered into showing up as guests-of-honor at some similar type events.) Of course awardees will get a gigantic certificate – or two (duplicates available at extra charge of course, framing not included) – to hang on the wall as well as other trinkets for showing off. Their companies may also be honored as “Top Ten Brands in Asia Pacific” or some such nonsensical crap.

Unless you are utterly shameless, or have no qualms paying big bucks for such meaningless honors, bear in mind that the following are the ONLY awards backed by the Singapore government:

  • SINGAPORE QUALITY CLASS
  • SINGAPORE QUALITY AWARD
  • SINGAPORE 100
  • SINGAPORE SME 100
  • SINGAPORE INTERNATIONAL 100
  • BUSINESSMAN OF THE YEAR
  • THE ENTERPRISE AWARD
  • ENTERPRENEUR OF THE YEAR

The following – among several others – are NOT backed by government bodies:

  • SINGAPORE OUTSTANDING ENTERPRISE
  • PROMISING SME 500
  • SME OF THE YEAR
  • SINGAPORE EXCELLENCE AWARD
  • SINGAPORE TRUSTED QUALITY BRAND
  • SINGAPORE BUSINESS QUALITY AWARD
  • SINGAPORE ENTREPRENEURS’ AWARD
  • SINGAPORE PRESTIGE ENTERPRISE AWARD

There’s nothing to stop anyone from handling out awards, nevermind the fact that those jokers issuing the awards have zero credentials whatsover to grant them. I’m not taking about their credibility here, that without question is nonexistent. I’m talking about illiterates issuing citations to PhD holders, know what I mean? Well, it’s a case of willing seller, willing buyer, right? You pay, get your “awards” and those tricksters who sell you these fake accolades get rich. That’s how it works. The wheels of capitalism continues to grind.

But to be honest, this whole business is pathetic, really. Very pathetic indeed.

Most of the awards not backed by the government are simply not worth the papers they are printed on. They are as real as Pakalu Papito.

And if you believe that Pakalu Papito is real, what can I say? I can only pity you and shake my botak head.

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Whisky from Fukushima

FukushimaSasanokawa, maker of Cherry Whisky, is actually a significant name in the development of whisky culture in Japan. It is an old sake and shochu house, dating back to 1765, that started making whisky in 1946, and in the process, building themselves into quite a force in the postwar whisky market in northeast Japan, prominent enough to rival Nikka or Suntory in the region.

The Sasanokawa distillery is based in Koriyama City, Fukushima Prefecture, which is inland from the main tsunami-hit areas and about 40 miles from the stricken Fukushima Number 1 nuclear plant. Nevertheless, it did suffer significantly including damage to a storage tank, warehouses, a chimney, plumbing and stocks.

The XXV brand was launched in the 1980s by Yamazakura, a company belonging to Sasanokawa.

Whisky fans wanting to do their bit for quake and nuclear accident-hit Fukushima prefecture could do worse than invest in a bottle or two of this excellent whisky.

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Eating with Gloves

GlovesRecently, the wife organized a durian party and some of the ladies whipped out gloves such as those shown in the photo above to handle their durians.

Well, to each his own, but some food are best eaten sans gloves – plus, you may get the smell off your hands, but don’t you know that when you eat durians, every pore of your body – plus your breath and your farts – are going to emit the smell anyway?

Obviously I’m new to this. Nowadays I see such gloves popping up everywhere. Just saw a couple of idiots eating chicken wings with said gloves. What happened to “finger licking good”?

As for me, nothing comes between me and my food.

Keep those stupid gloves away from me!

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Fallen on Deaf Ears

Paid to do nothing?

Paid to do nothing?

Have you ever tried emailing a minister or a perm sec?

The apartment immediately below mine has been undergoing renovation for over a month and although the unbearably loud floor hacking was long over, very annoying high-decibel noises continue to emanate from the unit almost on a daily basis. Neighbors with young babies are disturbed and convalescent elderlies are not able to rest.

Then the renovation permit was renewed and extended for another month.

So it’s been two months now of sheer auditorical torture. Eardrum-bursting hell since May.

Attempts to seek clarification from the fat cats in government as to how many times the authorities will renew or extend a renovation permit have received zero reply thus far. Surely such permits cannot be renewed and extended indefinitely?

All that talk about a responsive, caring civil service is just talk only, isn’t it?

Anyone knows how to elicit a reply from a minister? All I’ve gotten are template-replies and cut-and-paste excuses from lackeys sidestepping the real issue. A renovation contractor I bumped into told me that renovation of the unit in question may last up to a year. I need to know so I can plan my next course of action. But I’m not getting answers.

Ok ok, so I’m just an ordinary tax-paying nobody. Maybe “responsive” and “caring” apply exclusively to government ministers and civil serpents themselves only. I am sure they have no problem taking care of themselves, that much I know.

Argh, never mind.

Anyway, election is coming right?

Fantastic.

I – and the people I influence – know exactly what to do.

It’s time we make some idiots justify their existence!

The phrase “gaji buta” comes to mind as I write this.

Posted in Unforgiven | Comments Off on Fallen on Deaf Ears

Repose en Paix

SunsetWednesday was one of those horrendous days when life dealt me a sucker punch right into my solar plexus. I was shocked to learn of the sudden passing of a cherished friend – a very decent human being and a most delightful company – and it was a very very sad day indeed.

Posted in The Departed | Comments Off on Repose en Paix

No Problem? Don’t Mention It

NoProblemoIn the olden days, when my elders were thanked, they would respond by saying “Oh, don’t mention it” or “My pleasure” or “Don’t worry about it.”

Some would even say “Glad I could help” or “Happy to help.”

Later, I grew up in a world when people would say “You’re welcome” when someone say “thanks” to them. In fact, when we were in school, we were taught to respond that way.

Nowadays whenever I say “thank you” to people, the response I often get is “No problem.”

To my ear, “no problem” doesn’t sound like the right way to respond to an expression of thanks.

That’s because I think “no problem” is a more appropriate way for someone to respond to a person who has caused you a problem. Let’s say you are waiting for a friend but he shows up late and he says “I’m so sorry I kept you waiting” but the problem he has caused by being late is not really a problem, so you respond by saying “Hey, no problem at all.”

By minimizing the wrong done – by saying that it was no problem – you are acknowledging the apology and expressing forgiveness at the same time.

I am no linguistic expert but I believe “no problem” can also be used in another context. For example when someone says to you “Thanks for lending me that JP Donleavy book and so sorry it took me almost a year before returning it to you” and you respond by saying “No problem” it is your way of saying “It’s actually a problem but I forgive you.”

The use of “no problem” however is not the only change in our verbal culture – I now notice the increasingly common use of a phrase that has its origin in Australia, the phrase “No worries.”

“Thanks for helping me out with that one, sorry it took so much of your time.”

“Hey, no worries, mate.”

One interesting aspect of being in Singapore is that one picks up all kinds of influences.

Not all good though – just look at the superficial accents on TV. Some local talking heads try to speak like Americans, some like the British. Nothing wrong trying to imitate – that’s their problem – but often there’s no consistency in the accent adopted. Sometimes you can hear two different accents from the same mouth and that’s fucking grating for viewers like the rest of us.

Posted in The Good, the Bad & the Ugly | Comments Off on No Problem? Don’t Mention It

Bad Taste

NoClassShe is said to be Singapore’s prettiest undertaker, so her wedding photos were shot with a casket. In one picture, she and her husband were lying inside a coffin. Some people – including the photographer and the marital couple’s friends and some geomancers (translation: charlatans)  – think it’s cool but I consider it bad taste. It has nothing to do with death being a taboo subject or anything like that. In my opinion, one moronic act like this renders her the ugliest bride in Singapore.

We may have progressed materially but far too many of us lack finesse.

Other examples of recently-encountered inappropriate behavior:

When you are my guest, and you complain and scold the wait staff of the restaurant to which I have invited you.

When you show up late for your appointment with me.

When you show up at my party empty-handed.

When you ignore my WhatsApp messages or SMS or emails. (Once a reasonable amount of time has lapsed, you will be removed from my address book and be regarded as a persona non grata.)

When you openly praise the food in other restaurants while stuffing your face in the restaurant I’ve invited you to.

When you assume that I will be paying for your meals just because we hang out together often.

When you talk on your phone or use your phone for messaging during a movie.

When you refuse to assume responsibility for the failures of your department and look for subordinates to blame.

When you forget Matthew 21:12 and  boast of selling gold candleholders and religious accoutrements so that people can worship God in a lavish manner. Have you also forgotten Mark 12:22?

When you preach about blessings but won’t part with one penny to help the disadvantaged.

When you say one thing and do another.

When you dispense unsolicited advice.

When you lecture me about the harmfulness of certain food yet gorge on those very food right in front of my face.

When you make comments about how I look. (If I want your opinion, I will ask you.)

When all you ever talk about is your past sexual conquests.

When you don’t understand the meaning of “gratefulness.”

When you don’t know how to say “thank you” when I give you business.

When you behave as if I am an interruption in your life when I buy from you.

When you ask me for advice when you have already made up your mind.

When you take advantage of our largesse, yet make fun of our government and our people.

When you are really just a retard taking up my oxygen and wasting space.

Know that you are still alive only because murder is a crime.

Posted in Unforgiven | Comments Off on Bad Taste

Mr Lui Should Resign, and so Should the SMRT CEO

LuiTuckYew

Lui Tuck Yew

July 7th. Yet another SMRT breakdown – the worst so far, and possibly the worst public transport disruption Singapore has experienced. Power fault affected trains along the North-South and East-West lines at 7:15pm resulting in system-wide disruption. An estimated 250,000 commuters were inconvenienced. It was peak hour and during this month of Ramadan, Muslims were rushing home to break fast with their families. Partial service was restored at 9:20pm, albeit at slower speed, on the East-West Line from Pasir Ris to Joo Koon. Service at North-South Line resumed only at 10.35pm, at a slower speed as well. And the following morning trains were running at reduced speed.

Some argue that Singaporeans are pampered, that train breakdowns occur rather frequently overseas.

So? This is Singapore, you know. This is not London or Sydney.

The taxes we pay go to pay top dollars for the best and the brightest, and our expectations are high. They are not unrealistic. After all, we have been told time and again, that SMRT is doing its best to improve its train system.

I therefore call on the Minister of Transport, Lui Tuck Yew, to do the honorable thing.

It’s all about accountability.

Heads must roll.

SMRT CEO Desmond Kuek ought to resign too.

Desmond Kuek

Desmond Kuek

Just hours before the disruption – on the very same day – at the company’s AGM, the ex-general was bragging about how much train services have improved on his watch.

Frankly, I don’t think he knows his ass from his elbow.

Of course, he later apologized for the breakdown.

But a meaningless and contrition-free apology does not right the wrongs. It is useless saying “sorry” a million times when disruptions occur over and over again. Words are cheap.

Also, please don’t brag about your staff working overnight to make the trains move again. That’s your frigging job (for which you are being paid more than two million bucks a year.)

If it’s broken, fix it!

Which part of that don’t you understand?

Posted in Unforgiven | Comments Off on Mr Lui Should Resign, and so Should the SMRT CEO

Korean Bamboo Salt Toothpaste

JukyeomIn the last few years, we see a proliferation of products infused with salt – there is salt in ice-cream, salt in chocolates, salt in cupcakes and salt in god knows what. Ever since I spent a year working in Korea decades ago, I’ve become accustomed to Korean bamboo salt toothpaste.

Bamboo salt or “jukyeom” is very much a part of Korean folk remedy. Bamboo filled with salt from the Western Sea Coast of the Korean peninsula, is sealed with mud and baked, using pine wood at high temperature for as many as nine times. The belief is that the salt thus treated has medicinal properties.

Since my stint in Korea, I’ve been using the Korean bamboo salt toothpaste. When I run out of my supply, a good standby is the Salz Hypertonic salt toothpaste, available from nearby Thailand, but nothing beats the Korean bamboo salt toothpaste, the original!

Posted in Places in the Heart | Comments Off on Korean Bamboo Salt Toothpaste

Aspire to Inspire before Expire

If this is how you look

PeterLim

and you have nothing but money, it’s understandable why you would pay to acquire Ronaldo’s image rights!

CristianoRonaldo

Posted in The Good, the Bad & the Ugly | Comments Off on Aspire to Inspire before Expire