Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Gambling or INVESTMENT ??

I used to have a staff who worked for me in the restaurant I operated. I asked her why when it came to communicating with customers about the menu, she would remain quiet. However, she would suffer from verbal diarrhoea when it came to complaining about her youngest sister for taking so long to return her the $170K loan. Once a few of my friends came and to my surprise, she complained to them as well even though they had just met her for the first time.

We were later quite annoyed to find out that she had only put up the $170K in the bank as a fixed deposit so that her sister could take an overdraft for which she paid about 8% interest. In the meanwhile my staff would get about 1 to 2% interest from the bank for her fixed deposit.!

One day, we were overjoyed when we heard that the sister struck $160K in the 4D lottery. To our shock, my staff disdainfully labelled her sister as a gambling Christian! Her sister's buying of 4D is called gambling, whereas her dabbling with shares, forex and commodities is called INVESTMENT.

We rejoiced with the sister for her winning. Although she had her financial problems, she was always generous to buy litle snacks for us whenever she came to the restaurant. Although she had so many personal and business problems, she was always smiling and cheerful.

Now we understand why Jesus reminded us to remove the speck in our eyes before we see the speck in others. In the handling of the immoral woman, He reminded us to be slow to anger and to judge, and to be compassionate and forgiving.

Gambling or investment? What is your interpretation or definition?


Monday, October 30, 2006

Papa's Blessed Generations

It was understandable that papa was most anxious for me, his youngest daughter. He was worried that by the time I could enter university, he would not be around for me.
By the time mom had me, she was already in her mid forties.

Being the youngest had both its pros and cons. It makes you grow up quickly for you learn a lot from your older siblings. You can constantly pump them with endless questions. However, you mature so fast mentally that you find your classmates somewhat too childish for your liking. Hence, in school, I often had one or two good friends, preferring to spend most of my time reading to playing. Being the youngest, you also always end up getting special treats and favours. No wonder people say that the youngest in the family usually ends up well rounded or well upholstered.

Ironically it was because of my parents that I did not want to go to university. I had just completed my Secretarial Course, and was about to look for a job. Papa passed away suddenly. I remember mom lamenting that papa had always helped people get jobs, but now that his youngest daughter needed one, he was not around. In those days, employers hardly advertised for staff.... word of mouth recommendation seemed to be the order of the day. I told mom not to worry. I applied for the post of a typist in a legal firm and got the job at a starting salary of $120/- a month. I worked extremely hard, pounding away on the manual typewriter at a speed of about 70 words per minute. Staff took advantage of my quick typing speed to throw in their own work for me to type. I never complained. In fact I enjoyed myself, reading petitions, agreements, etc. My boss also made me take dictation in Pitman's shorthand. I was always eager to learn and due to constant typing, my speed increased to 85 words per minute. My papa had always taught us that if we had to do anything, we should do it well. I was soon promoted to be secretary after three months.

When both my parents passed away, I was pleasantly surprised when my boss' father, the benevolent Lim Cheng Ean, offered me a bursary to study in Canada.!! Papa was right.... God indeed has blessed the "durian" of his eyes. Though he was not around for me, I received the chance to study in Canada!

Someone has said that a good man's generation will be blessed .... indeed up to three generations!

Gan Chau

Sunday, October 29, 2006

My Parents' "Most Blessed Mistake"!

After having had six children, my parents thought six would be enough. However, six years later, I came into the world!! My parents considered me their mistake, but papa considered me his "most blessed mistake"! You see, I am the "durian" of his eyes! In Britain, they would call it "apple."

No wonder when I went out with my parents, people would often wonder who I was, and when told I am the youngest, many would comment "Oh! So cute!" Once, mother was annoyed with me, and told me half in anger and half in jest, that I was picked up from the rubbish dump. Naive as I was, I believed her.! Papa hugged me and assured me that I am his most precious daughter and God's gift to him and mama. How comforting to a child!

That was my papa. Though educated in Chinese, and steeped in Chinese Literature and History, he was quite westernised in his approach. The older generation of Chinese fathers are usually not vocal or demonstrative in their affection for their children. They would work hard and provide well for their families and many of my friends told me that they had never heard words of affection from their fathers.
Without a shadow of doubt, these fathers love their children in their hearts, but they often hide their affection beneath a wall of stern expression!

Papa was unique.... a man in a million. When he came back from school on his motor bike, he would holler out to me, "Where is my precious daughter? There, you are!" He would then hug me and stretch out his hand with his palm closed. "Guess, what is in papa's hand?" "Play or eat one, papa?" I would ask in excitement. "Play"

"Is it an eraser? A little toy? A marble? A small rubber ball? A hair clip?" Papa shook his head, and opened up his palm. It was the smallest dictionary in the world.... a two inch by one inch dictionary! I just loved the little book. Papa enjoyed surprising his children. Even though we were not rich, we were extremely happy and contented.

Mama always lamented that she could not understand the need for her daughters to receive so much education. After all they would end up getting married and be housewives one day. But papa was of a different mind. He reasoned that it would be just as important for girls to be well educated, so that in the event, if their husbands turn out to be irresponsible fathers, they could help to provide for their families.

I could never forget the words of wisdom that papa shared when I grew up and could understand what he said. I was in Secondary One.

"My precious child. Papa loves you and worries about you the most...for you are so much younger than your siblings. You are most like me in character, for you are generous and overly soft hearted. However, one day, God chided me and reminded me that if I, an ordinary man and father, could love his children so much, how much more would He, as the Heavenly Father and creator of everything in this world. If He could take care of the wild flowers and the birds of the air, would He not take care of everything! I repented and began to commit all my children to God's wonderful hands. I will do my best as an earthly father, but the great Heavenly Father could do so much more for my chidlren. Papa will give you and your siblings the best love a father can give.... I give you all the best education I can afford, but papa will not be able to leave you all with properties and lots of money for inheritance. You will all grow up to be confident adults and God will bless my children richly."

Yes, Papa did not leave us much with material things. When he passed away, he only had $5,000/-. But he had left his children with a great legacy of love by his fine examples of concern and compassion, hospitality and charity. From the huge turn out at his funeral wake and procession, he had touched lives from all walks - from the poorest to the richest and from the illiterates to highly educated. Big burly gangsters from our village and ex-criminals came to his wake, weeping unabashedly.
Papa was as comfortable with hooligans as he was with high ranking government officials!

I would encourage all parents to emulate my papa. Sometimes parents love their children to the extent that they idolise their offsprings without even realising it. If you, as ordinary parents, could give good things to your children, how much more would God the Heavenly Father who loves each and every of His creation.

Papa was absolutely right! God indeed has not only blessed papa's children, but He has blessed them abundantly.

Gan Chau

Saturday, October 28, 2006

My Beloved Cousin

Eldest sister called me from Kuala Lumpur and told me that my cousin, Suan, has requested that I stay at her lovely her home when I make a trip to Kuala Lumpur the following week. I was tickled pink when Suan asked if I am still as plump as ever! I guess, the youngest in most families usually end up the roundest as they are always pampered by their relatives with chocolates, snacks, goodies, etc.

Gosh! It has almost been 35 years since I have not met my beloved cousin. I recall
Suan with affection. She is the daughter of my uncle. Uncle is my papa's second elder brother. Suan had been staying with my family and had been belping my mom with household chores, etc. She was also the one who accompanied me to school on a rickshaw when I was in Primary One. I was extremely talkative and inquisitve and would ply Suan with endless questions along the way to school. "Why are bougainvilleas always blooming whereas other flowers are lesser in abundance? Why must I drink and bathe with clean water, when fishes are swimming in dirty ponds?"
"Aiyoh.... I have headache already.... you ask so many questions!" my cousin would complain.

I have lived in Penang for 23 years. I have travelled to 160 cities in 37 countries.. yet I have been to Kuala Lumpur only twice! Eldest Sis persuaded me to stay a couple of days more after my nephew's convocation. Mm..... I might just do that .....I realy look foward to seeing my beloved cousin and family. I am really happy for her that her children are all doing well and taking good care of her.

Gan Chau

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Filial Piety

I used to let my students read interesting poems or articles from other sources other than their textbooks. Filial Piety by Tan Jwee Song is quite an interesting poem which I hope you will find entertaining yet thought provoking.


The old man was dead
And they must fast array
for it's duty to display
their filial piety.
No time to waste,
children, wife, sons, all
quickly donned the ready black cloth
and were taught to cry.

The hall was dressed with condolences
the coffin was heaped with sympathy
The joss papers were burnt with gusto
accompanied by a wailing symphony.

Many gestured their last respects
Many sobbed their sad regrets
Many mourned their heartfelt loss
with cards, mahjong and dice-tossed.

Good sons did good deeds;
they performed the ceremony
according to their needs.
Their old man's death was too deep for tears
so they list ritual with minds precise and clear.

Uncles should offer roasted pigs
aunties should come with big baked cakes
sisters should wail their very best
and the husbands must buy the paper chests.

They buried him at a shaded spot
for future comort they thought.
They bore his soul back home
in a much cumbersome pot.

The episode was over,
his face hung mockingly on the altar;
only his two lonely candle flames remained
to weep his years of pain.

The above poem, though written with humour and satire, is quite painful to digest.
It reminds me of a recent wake which I witnessed in my block. I have just moved to this block since January of this year, and while taking my dog for a walk, have got to know some of the nieghbours.

There was this sweet and kind-looking elderly lady with her maid. Her maid would often accompany her for her morning and evening walks. Once I talked to her and asked if she lived alone and she told me she lived on her own after her husband's death about ten years ago. Her 5 children had all married with their own families and living in different parts of Singapore. Apparently they are doing very well, holding high posts, and have entrusted their mother to the care of a maid. Sometimes, I could not help but detect a look of sadness and an aura of loneliness in the elderly lady. Sometimes I found her chatting with the elderly ladies in the neighbourhood. Not once, had I ever seen her with any of her children or grandchildren. I work from home, and often enjoy reading or doing my work at the table in the void deck of the block.

Suddenly, one evening, as I came back from shopping in Johore Bahru, I realised there was a wake and was surprised when I met the maid. She told me the elderly lady suddenly had a heart attack and passed away that morning.

I was even more surprised when I found that the wake was lavishly decorated with lots of paraphernalia, with elaborate altars, and rows and rows of blankets decorated the walls of the block while there were tons of standing wreaths. There was much fanfare as every evening, there would be ceremonies performed by the monks. Dramatic and loud wailings could also be heard. One mourner had a particularly loud voice as she asked why the deceased chose to depart so early, leaving her and her children helpless and confused.!! Some visitors were playing mahjong while the caterers busily served food to the guests who seemed to stream in endlessly.

On the fourth day, the chanting of the monks continued till almost midnight. I wonder if the "filial" children had forgotten the rule that any form of loud music for whatever occasion, must terminate at 11.00 p.m. so that it will not cause disturbance to residents who go to bed early.

On the fifth day, many people turned up at the wake for the funeral procession. There was a group of musicians in smartly starched white uniforms who played some music with their shining brass instruments.

Suddenly I remember the above poem, and shake my head with sadness. Perhaps the children had truly loved their parents, but were too busy with their own careers and families to demonstrate that love. Perhaps the elderly lady was too independent, and preferred her independence and solitude. Perhaps.... perhaps....perhaps...
Gan Chau

Selamat Hari Raya Adil Fitri

Today is Hari Raya, the celebration by Muslims in Singapore and throughout the world.

It makes me think of the Malays in Jelutong Village, Penang where I spent the first 23 years of my life. I am the youngest and unexpected child of my parents. When I was born, many of my grandparents' Malay friends would drop by and comment, "Oh! Chuchu sangat comel" (Oh, your grandchild is so winsome!) Hence, my parents decided to call me Choo Choo since my two older sisters are called Lee Lee and Ean Ean. When I went to school, I was the butt of my classmates' jokes, because my name signifies so many things. It sounds like chuchu, the Malay word for grandchild, and my classmates would often remind me that they were my grandparents!! They would also sometimes call me Choo Choo Train!

The Malays are often very artistic and creative. They are good at arts and crafts and take pride and pleasure in doing up their houses. I love their houses which are built on stilts. The Malay kampong exudes a certain charm. Now when I go back to Penang, I would love to stroll in the kampong before the houses are razed to the ground to make way for development.

The Malay ladies wear kebayas which enhance their shapely figures. The kebaya is well known because it is worn by our SIA air hostesses as well as those from MAS. (Malaysian Airline System). Like the Chinese cheong sum, the kebaya brings out the contours of a lady's figure. Hence, one must not be too rounded so as to look good in this outfit.

I am now getting ready to visit my Malay friends who are living in Woodlands, so as to wish them joy and blessings as well as to tuck in all the nice food and delicacies!

Wishing all my Muslim readers "Selamat Hari Raya Adil Fitri". :-)

Gan Chau

Monday, October 23, 2006

Our Wonderful Government

Once I was marketing a five room HDB flat at Telok Blangah Heights. It was a beautifully renovated apartment, with a great view of the greenery from the ten panels of windows in the flat! An Indian couple with a young child liked the flat very much, but to their disappointment, they were not eligible because of ethnic restriction. For the benefit of my overseas readers, the Housing Development Board has imposed the ruling of racial quota for each block of flat. This is to ensure that in any particular block of flat, there is a good mix of Chinese, Indians, Malays and other ethnic orgins. My Chinese clients were disappointed that they could sell their flat to all other races except Indians. Initially I was disappointed too. Which agent wouldn't like to be able to sell a property to the first interested buyer who was willing to offer a good price?

However, on reflection, I am beginning to admire the wisdom of our government in Singapore. Realising that in order for racial harmony to prevail, the HDB has come up with this enthnic ruling. Although it can be quite cumbersome, nevertheless, it is for the good of the nation. I grew up in Malaysia and at the age of 12, saw my first racial riot! Suddenly, the Principal allowed us to be dismissed early from school. Many of us were very innocent, happy that we could go home early... especially me... for it meant I could go to my favourite pond to catch fish. I can still remember my father's annoyance at not finding me in school. He had come specially to fetch me home on his motorbike. His fatherly instinct knew I must have gone fishing again!

That evening, we had a curfew and there were subsequent curfews the following two weeks. Many of us could not forget the racial riot of 1965, where there was much fighting between the Chinese and Malays, and many were killed.

Recently I was in Kuching for a short vacation. My eldest sister lamented that it is now not as safe in Kuching as it was a decade ago. She marvelled at the apparent strictness in our country against crime, and felt that Malaysia should do likewise so as to deter people from committing crimes in the country. When I was in Kuching, my sister would not allow me to carry my handbag as snatch thieves were rampant!

I enjoy the peace of mind I have when moving around in Singapore. Being busy, sometimes I even walk my dog at 12 midnight or at 3.00a.m.! Even when coming back late from work or functions, I feel quite safe. Of course, I am reminded that low crime does not mean no crime....I must always be alert, especially to any would be terrrorist! It is heartening to note that since the September 11 happenings, our government has stepped up security at our ports, airport, immigration checkpoints, MRT stations and major public buildings. Hence, everybody! Let us all do our part to be alert at all times, and not just depend on the army or police force to keep law and order.

May God continue to bless our nation.!

Gan Chau

Sunday, October 22, 2006

The Ice Cream Vendor

My buddy, James Dunlap, from the University of Alberta, recently visited me with his daughter, Chloe. After lunch, I took them sightseeing in Chinatown. Chloe saw some trishaws, and suggested taking a ride, but I felt it would not be very safe as the
traffic was quite heavy. I suggested taking a boat ride instead, as it would be safer and it would also enable them to see more buildings and feel the breeze.

As the boarding jetty was quite near Fullerton Hotel, we decided to use the washrooms in the hotel. When we came out of the hotel, I saw an ice-cream vendor, and thought it would be nice for Chloe to try our locally made ice-cream and to eat it ala Singapore style..... holding the ice-cream by the ice-cream biscuits on both sides of the ice-cream and licking the cool cream. However, I was surprised when the ice-cream vendor wanted to charge us $2/- for a piece of ice-cream. I told him I usually paid $1/- for a piece.... and he shook his head in protest..... claiming that it was a big piece and hence cost $2/-. When he took out the ice-cream, I saw that it was like the normal ones I had purchased from the ice-cream vendor near my office at Park Mall. I decided not to buy the ice-cream from him and to my shock, he became angry and banged the wooden cutting board and the cover of his ice box.

I wonder at the ice-cream vendor's dishonesty. Did he think we were tourists and hence wanted to fleece us.? How many tourists had he fleeced already? Or did he think we were wealthy Singaporeans who could patronise a six star hotel and hence would not mind paying $1/- more for the ice-cream.? Or did he take security in the knowledge that even if the tourists eventually realised they had been fleeced, they would not bother to complain as it was only a dollar more?

In contrast, I think of the cheerful ice-cream vendor near my office. He is an elderly man, and you can detect an aura of pride and contentment on his weather-beaten face. Perhaps I should ask the young ice-cream vendor to get some training from the elderly vendor.

Every year, the Tourist Promotion Board tries hard to promote and increase the number of tourists in our country. It is people in the likes of the young ice-cream vendor who would tarnish the reputation of Singapore.....as a nation of diligent, honest and law-abiding citizens.

Gan Chau

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Happy Deepavali

Vanessa in the centre, flanked by the first and second runner-up.

Today is Deepavali, the Festival of Lights, celebrated by Hindus throughout the world. I understand that the Indians who are Christians do not celebrate Deepavali.

Last evening, we had the Toastmasters' International Celebration at the Grassroots Club at Yio Chu Kang. About 350 toastmasters turned up for the evening of fun, good food and dancing. There was an Elvis Wannabe Contest where participants had to dance Elvis style to the rock-and-roll played by the DJ. We coerced our member, Louiis Tan, to go up and dance. He came in first, winning a bottle of red wine as his prize. Louiis generously shared his wine with the rest of us at his table. Our lovely and attractive Vice President for Education, Vanessa Yong, came in first for the best dressed lady. She looked really stunning in her gold braided kebaya. I hope I am not being too opinionated when I say that Vanessa looked even more beautiful than our Miss Singapore, Miss Carol Cheong, in her outlandish evening gown!!! We were above the moon, with two of our members sweeping the first two prizes. Vanessa traded her prize of a lovely rice cooker with the prize, a bottle of Baccardi won by Tim, a British working at Walton Landbanking. Vanessa wanted to share the bottle of Baccardi with everyone of her colleagues.

I was somewhat disappointed to see that the great majority of the members left early and did not stay on to dance like all our club members did. Hence it was heartening to note that Mr. Gea Ban Peng and a few key personnel stayed on to dance till almost closing time! After all, isn't life all about making use of opportunities presented before us? At Dennis Wee Realty, we all try to emulate our great boss, Mr. Wee. We work hard and play just as hard! In playing hard, we actually refresh ourselves for the following two days of endless viewing of properties!!

This is Choo, wishing all her Indian friends, "Schub Diwali. Bhagwan apkah bala Kareh". Happy Deepavali. God bless you! (Hindi) and "Depavali Varthugal. Kadavur unaii arsi vadipar. Happy Deepavali. God bless you! (Tamil).

Friday, October 13, 2006

Please Give me Bouquets......

One evening my staff, Judy, at Rialto told me she was going to a wake after work at the restaurant. I usually dropped her off at her home afer work. I asked her where the wake was and who had died. She told me it was the wake of a loan shark, and the wake was just nearby. Intriqued, I decided to go with Judy because I had never been to a wake of a loanshark. I wanted to observe the happenings.

It was interesting to note during the two hours I was at the wake that not a negative word was said of the deceased. In fact, only praises were heaped on him.... how kind he was to certain people; how he sometimes even cancelled the debts of some desolate creditors and how good a boss he was to his staff. His children claimed that he was a good husband and father as well.

Readers may ask why I write about such morbid stuff so early in the morning. My ears started ringing again. It had been ringing the past two weeks and I was happy when the ringing stopped. Alas for only one day. Hence when the ringing started again this morning, I wondered if my ears were cancerous. My ENT specialist, Mr. Thomas Sim, had found nothing wrong with the outer ears, and suspected the problem to be in the inner ears. My imgaination started to run wild. Indeed if I were do die of cancer at half a century, I would still thank God for letting me surivive 5 decades on earth.! For us who are Christians, death has no sting.

I am sure at my wake, the same would happen for me as it did for the deceased loanshark. People would only heap bouquets on me. How nice if we could do this everyday of our life. Instead of criticising and back-stabbing another person, why not look for good things to say about the person. A nasty person like a loanshark would also have some good points. We take life and things for granted. This is probably why my pastor, Derek Hong, said that it is good to sometimes go to a wake for we will be confronted with the reality and issues of death. Frankly I hate to go to wakes. I would prefer to be nice to a person while he is still alive and be a blessing to him as much as I can.

Hence, my dear acquaintances, friends and relatives, please give me bouqets when I am still alive..... please don't give me flower or verbal bouquets when I am in the coffin for I will not be able to hear or appreciate you....


Wednesday, October 11, 2006

A Precious Second Chance

Gosh! It was frightening! How could I have procrastinated so much.! After winning the Champion Award for my humorous speech, I had not even rehearsed or practised my speech again for the next contest where I had to compete with all the champions. Many of these champions are veterans and teachers of public speaking, English and phonetics! In contrast, I have been a member with my toastmasters' club for only 3 months.I was also torn between nursing my sickly pet dog to health and the speech contest. My dog had been lost for 3 days and I finally found it trapped in my luggage bag!! It was dehydrated and famished!

What a relief to find out that the above was only ......a bad dream!

I was so oo ooo ooooo relieved and started rehearsing my speech right away! 8 more days to go and I was thankful for the second chance!! Even if I do not win the contest, so long as I have sincerely practised hard I will be contented. I will do my best and leave God to do the rest.

I am thinking of my friend, Kelly, who was recently fined $2,000/- and banned from driving for 18 months. He just had a litre of Tiger Beer, and was going to park his van when a policeman asked him to take a breath test. He sadly phoned me to say that he would not be able to do his renovation works as without his van, he would not be able to transport his tools and materials. I am sure Kelly would be grateful for a second chance. For now, he had to work for a company until he gets his permit to drive reinstated.

Or think of that young doctor who has just started his medical career and is now behind bars. I am sure he would be grateful for a second chance not to have anything to do with drugs or gays.

I am sure that the IT professional from India, who was caught shoplifting would be grateful if he could have a second chance. His lawyer explained his depression and confusion of mind caused by the constant quarrels between his wife and mother.
He is a brilliant manager, drawing about S8,000 to S12,000 a month. Would his employer give him a second chance? Would his friends and relatives give him a second chance or would they sneer at him and label him a thief for life?

Or think of that lady who was jailed for one month and fined $10,000/- for maid abuse. Instead of seeking professional help for her depression and stress, she took it out on her poor Indonesian maid. Perhaps only another lady in her shoes struggling with the demands of a career and motherhood would be able to understand her plight. If only, she could turn the clock back and seek proper counselling and help.!

In the book of John Chap.8 vs, 1 - 11, the people brought a woman caught in the act of adultery before Jesus. They said, "In the Law, Moses commanded us to stone such women. Now what do you say?" They were using this question to trap Jesus. But Jesus bent down and started to write on the ground with his finger. When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, "If anyone of you is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone at her". Again he stood down and wrote on the ground.

At this, those who heard began to go away one at a time, the older ones first, until only Jesus was left, with the woman still standing there. Jesus straighteend up and asked her, "Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?"

"No one , sir", she said.

"Then neither do I condemn you," Jesus declared. "Go now and leave your life of sin".

You can imagine the great relief this woman must have felt to be given a second chance. Especially from the perfect lamb of God, Himself!!

Hence, let us learn from this and not judge others. Let us first take out the speck of dirt in our own eyes first. Let us have a generous heart of overlooking the wrongs of others just as God has been generous to love us, imperfect as we are. Everyday, before the sun sets or before we go to bed, let our hearts be free of anger, frustration and unforgiveness, so that we can wake up the following day, refreshed, re-strengthened and recharged with new hope and courage to face another day.

When I first became a Christian, I could not understand why God wanted me to forgive others and even to love my enemies! When we do not like someone, we feel like boxing that person on the ears instead of loving him! Oh! What a tall order from God! And how humanly impossible! In Phil. 4:13, Paul the Apostle said, "I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength. It is also interesting to note that medical research has established that when a person who is constantly angry or bears unforgiveness in his heart, he is more prone to have tumour in his body!!

Hence when the Creator asked us to forgive and be slow to anger, it is for our own good. We are doing ourselves a favour.... not our enemies. I won't feel any worse if you hate me..... you are the one in pain for you are seething with anger, hurt and frustration.

Once I was very angry with a friend and found it hard to forgive her. At a gala dinner in Kuala Lumpur, I found myself seated next to a vet who works for the Ipoh Turf Club. I asked him which animals he loves the best. "Dogs...Let's say if you lock up your pet dog and deprive it for food and water for 3 days for example. When you open the door, your dog will wag its tail, relieved and happy to see you. It will not think, "How dare you forget to feed me... I will bite you." Dogs are very forgiving and faithful." On hearing this, I was very touched and fought hard to keep my tears from oozing out. I was so ashamed of myself for being so unforgiving towards my friend. How could I let a dog be more forgiving and faithful than me.? After all, I am God's highest form of creation. Immediately I had a break through. I was able to forgive my friend and to love her once again just as I had done in the past. God knows my love for dogs and had to speak to me through the vet!

Oh! The sweetness of a second chance!

Gan Chau

Saturday, October 07, 2006

Amazing Creation

Just to share with readers my speech "Amazing Creation" (9th project) which will be delivered at Walton's Toastmasters' Club, this coming Tuesday on the 10th of October.

When Kenny G sang the song, "What a wonderful world", it summarizes the topic I am sharing with you today, "Amazing Creation!" Good day Mr. President, fellow toastmasters and guests.

Can I see a show of hands how many of you love nature? How many of you love animals? How many of you love Animal Planet, National Geographic and Discovery Channels? How many of you believe that the world that has been so beautifully created is indeed a wonderful world.?

Among all the animals I love dogs the most. I am not a theologian, but I would like to think that perhaps God loves dogs the most, because d - o - g is G - O -D spelt backwards. Interestingly too, dogs have characteristics that are quite similar to their creator! Regardless of how their owners look, they think their owners are the best in the world, and they are even willing to die for their owners. Dogs love unconditionally. Dogs are the most faithful of animals.

Once I was seated to a vet at a gala dinner in Kuala Lumpur. I asked him what animals he liked the most and he replied, "Dogs.... they are so forgiving. Assuming you lock up your pet for 3 days and deprive it of food and water, when you open the door, your dog will wag its tail happily to greet you. It would not think, like some human beings might, "How dare you lock me up! I am going to bite you." After I heard that I was determined to be always better than my pets, for I am a human being, the highest form of creation. If my dogs are faithful, I want to be even more faithful than them. If they are forgiving, I want to be even more forgiving than them.

Now I am going to show you some pictures of my 3 pet dogs..... Kamlette, Kambobo and Kam Xiaobai. Kamlette was the first pet I ever had. One day my ACS boys brought back 6 puppies they had rescued from the vicinity of a mangrove swamp. They persuaded me to adopt one puppy. At that time, I could not even tell a female dog from a male dog and called the puppy "King" thinking it was a male dog. My colleague later confirmed it was a female so I changed her name to "Queen". One day, my ACS boys told me they had 2 names for me to choose between Kamster and Kamlet. Kamster sounded like Gangster and I decided to choose Kamlet which sounded more like Hamlet.
And since she was a female I spelt it as "Kamlette" as in Charlotte. Today, I am, ahem, quite an expert on dogs.... show me any dog and I can tell you the breed.

I bought Kambobo from a client to help them out financially. However, the Housing Development Board found out I had two big dogs and hence I had to move or give away one dog. I could not bear to give away either dog so I sold my flat and rented a terrace house at Watten Estate. Kam Xiao Bai was given by a neighbour who hardly knew me but she saw how I took such good care of my dogs. Perhaps god knew that since I love panda bears, He gave me a dog that loooked like a panda bear! (Show pictures of panda bears on the screen.)

Next I am going to show you a picture of a fascinating creature called the seacumber. As it does not move fast, the Creator has to specially equip it for survival. When the sea cucumber is attacked, it would spin a certain kind of silk like substance but if the enemy were to pursue the creature it would do something to protect itself. What do you think the seacumber would do.? If anyone can give me the right answer, I will give him a little prize......

The seacucumber would eject all its internal organs which it hoped to provide as a morsel of food for the enemy. Meanwhile it can live for 9 days without its internal organs!! On around the 10th day, a new set of organs will grow again!

Wow! What amazing creation! How wonderful if it could happen to us human beings. If we have a bad kidney.....eject it out... prut, it will come out and we can grow a new kidney again. All the surgeons will go out of business.! Ha! Ha!

However God reminded me that I am the highest and most precious of his Creation. You and I are uniquely made. There can only be one Vanessas Yong and one Walter Lee. Your thumb prints are yours and yours alone.

Whenever Jesus was sharing his parables, He often used nature to illustrate his points. He asked us to consider the ravens which do not sow or reap. They have no storeroom or barn, yet God feeds them. He also asked us to consider the lilies. they do not labour or spin, yet not even King Solomon in all his splendour was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field which are here today and gone tomorrow, how much more will He take care of you and me. Very often little sparrows would fly into in my apartment. I noticed that none of these sparrows looked undernourished. In fact they all looked nicely rounded!

Almost every evening, I make it a point to watch one program on Animal Planet. It is humbling to see the magnificence of creation and somehow watching the program gives me joy and renewed strength. If I had felt anger or unforgiveness towards anybody, all the negative vibes would leave me, as I realise how small and imperfect that I am.... yet the Creator considers me as His highest form of creation!

Hence ladies and gentlemen. Please enjoy all that you are and have been given. When we sing, "What a wonderful world!" let joy and courage fill our hearts and begin each day with renewed hope and strength.

Gan Chau


The people in Kuching are very warm and hospitable. I hope readers will not disagree with me when I conclude that in general, most people from smaller towns and cities tend to be more hospitable than those living in busy, bustling cities like Singapore, New York, etc. It can be quite embarrassing for Singaporeans to visit Kuching or other smaller cities and enjoy the great hospitality extended by these people. Yet when these people visit Singapore, somehow, Singaporeans are so caught up with work and busy-ness, that they have little time to extend hospitality.!!

When I was a student at the University of Alberta, I was made very much at home by the warm hospitality of the Canadians. Every week, after church, we would be invited to the various homes of church members for lunch. During Christmas, they would ensure we were not left alone during this warm, festive season. It was very easy for me to adjust to life in Canada, for my parents were very hospital people too. Though Canada is physically cold, yet we feel warm by the hospitality of the Canadians. I remember once asking my French professor who invited me to her lovely home for lunch. "How do you cope, Madam, to do so many things.? You are head of the Romance Language Dept.; you have to help Professor Monod in his voluntary work at the Swiss Council, etc. and you still make time to cook such a lovely lunch for me." I remember her reply, "Oh Shoo Shoo (Choo Choo - Ch is pronounced as Sh in French) If I have guests, people are more important than things. The house and the dust can rest for a little while," the charming, elderly lady said, with a disdainful look on the floor.

Since living in Singapore for the past 23 years, I have observed that many Singaporeans always put convenience as top priority. I remember when I was teaching part time at the Regional English Language Centre. After each course ended, we would have a gathering. One or two of my students would be so inspired to show hospitality that they would invite the whole class for a farewell gathering. At one gathering, the host had catered food for 22 students in the class. Yet only 8 turned up! The rest conveniently opted out at the last minute. I could still remember the disheartened mood of the student host and his mother, who kept asking, "Any more coming?" I tried to enliven the mood, but it was an uphill task. In the end we had to packet the remaining food home. Hence whenever I promised somone I would turn up at an event, by hook or by crook, I must fulfill my promise. Since a promise had been made, it would be my top priority to fulfil the promise.

Sadly, twenty years later, this is happening again. Now, when I invite 40 guests to my home for dinner, I would only cater food for 32 people. Somehow, a handful of people would just conveniently not turn up. !!

Hospitality was a very important issue to the Jews during the time of the Lord Jesus. Hence when the host found out that the wine had run dry, there was panic.
We heard about the first miracle that Jesus performed.... turning the water into wine.

I think of the Nepalis and the Thais whom we visited during our mission trips. Although the people were poor, they would kill their chicken and their ducks for us. Their big hearts and their smiles warmed our hearts.

I also know of people living in big cities who are warm and hospitable. Some of my friends in Melbourne,Kuala Lumpur, Sydney, New York, Edmonton, Vancouver, Toronto, and Hong Kong, are very hospitable. Let us emulate the likes of these hospitable people .... for indeed it is a blessing to be hospitable.!! Let us walk the talk!

Friday, October 06, 2006

Kuching Revisited

When I arrived at my nephew's house in Kuching, I was disappointed to find out that his computer was not in usable condition. I had hopes of teaching my eldest sis how to email. As my sister's house is in the suburbs, it was not easy to look for an internet cafe. Hence, for eight days I had not been able to check my mails or write in my blog. Gosh! I had once been so terrified of learning the computer; now I miss it!! Frankly, without the computer, I would not have been able to write so easily and speedily.

Kuching has changed a lot since my last visit some ten years ago!! There are now many new buildings, roads, highways, etc. People in Kuching now have more spending power. I notice that there are now more restaurants and eating places which are doing well. Perhaps, with so many uncertainties and disasters now plaguing the world, the youngsters now want the most out of it, and believe in getting enjoyment. Even the older generation who used to scrimp and save, now are freer in their spending. I took the opportunity to visit a Toastmasters' Club. It was interesting to note that most of the members spoke Mandarin with a distinctive Foochow accent!

As Sarawak is situated nearer to Indonesia, the haze was quite bad. I used to look out of the bedroom windows every morning, and one morning, I realised that the thick haze had obscured my vision of one tall building located behind the houses in the vicinity! I was wondering if I could even fly back to Johore!

Fortunately I was able to fly and am now back to my usual routine of hectic living in good, old Singapore. Home always seems so much sweeter after you have been away for a week!

Gan Chau