Saturday, June 30, 2007

Global Warming - Let's Play a Part

"I love to cover myself with thick comforters and turn on the aircon at 16 degrees",
said my friend, Jessie, almost gleefully. I looked at her with sadness in my eyes.

"Jessie, do you realise the world is getting warmer and warmer? Turning on the aircon is bad enough; but turning to its coldest and then covering yourself with a thick comforter is even worse!"

Jessie looked at me with her eyes wide open. She was surprised by my vehemence. It was hard for me to hide my frustration at the ignorance of some people. "Could you not just set the aircon to turn off after two hours and keep a fan running. This way, your bedroom would be kept cool till morning. You could just use a thin blanket to cover yourself," I suggested. This way, you help save the world as well as save some money for yourself.

I am glad Jessie is one of those teachable characaters around town. It is so sad that so many of us take things for granted. We are careless with leaving lights and electrical fans on without bothering to switch them off when not in use, etc. Now I try to turn on the fan instead of the air conditioner every night as it is more economical. I already enjoy the aircon in the office; too much exposure will dry up my skin. Morever, it costs about 30 cents per hour for an aircon to run but only 30 cents per day if we use the fan.

During the Feast of the Hungry Ghosts, my heart burns with pain when I see people burning incense in the open, as sometimes patches of lovely green grasses also get burnt. There is nothing we can do because this is a religious practice of the Buddhists and Taoists. With due respect to the Buddhists and Taoists, I wonder if there is another method of conveying the incence papers in another way without burning, maybe via the electronic way. Since we have virtual toys, can we have virtual incense papers which we can send via email?

If cars and vehicles could be reduced on the road, we will have less air pollution. Perhaps we should try to car pool instead of driving our own cars. Sometimes, when people queue up at taxi stands, they could ask one another if they could taxi-pool; ie. those heading for the same estate could share a cab. This way, there will be less pollution, and commuters could also get to save some money. People in the same neighbourhood could also get to know one another.

We could all try to recycle our unwanted stuff. I am glad that the 800 Superwaste Management Pte. Ltd. has been set up to collect unwanted things bi-monthly. Cleaning up is such a joy for me now as I can put my newspapers, magazines, old electrical objects, porcelain cups and plastic containers in special bags provided by the company. We need to recycle and reuse to help save the world.

If every one of us throughout the world can play a part, we can overcome the acute problem of global warming. It's a beautiful world that God has created. Let us all help to preserve and help make the world a better place for everyone.

Friday, June 29, 2007

Ode To an English Prof.

Gosh! How time flies! As I was cleaning and packing up in preparation for my house moving in 4 weeks' time, I came across an old poem which I wrote in one of my English Literature classes in the University of Alberta.

Professor B. Mitchell would probably be in her mid seventies now. Although I have lost touch with her, I believe she would still be in the pink of health. A catholic nun, who exudes such serenity, composure and kindness will certainly live a long life. I have never seen Professor Mitchell stressed or agitated.

I remember I found myself one day in her home, sent by the cleaning company I was working for, Cindrella Maid Services. Noticing my awkwardness, Professor Mitchell, made me feel very much at home. She was hospitable and insisted that I had lunch with her - a simple tuna sandwich with Caesar salad which she made, with a lemon meringue thrown in for dessert. Canadians often have dessert with their meals, and this is how I picked up my sweet tooth!

Horror upon horrors! I accidentally broke her crystal vase while trying to clean it. Somehow it had slipped from my hands! I was so soo ooooooooo embarrassed. Professor Mitchell was so kind and forgiving. She kept reassuring me it was alright... not really an expensive vase, but I insisted on reporting the breakage to my boss, and asked that Professor Mitchell be compensated by the Insurance Company.

There are many wonderful lecturers during my University days. But Professor Mitchell remained in my memory because I had wondered how such a lovely, gentle and talented lady could be single and be a nun. She would have made some lucky man a wonderful wife and mother. However, I guess God always has all the best single ladies in His ministry and service.

One day, I wrote a poem and dedicated it to Professor Beverly Mitchell. Here I reproduce it for my readers.


I bleed when I write,
Yet must put up with the fight...
Staying up all night,
Writing what I feel is right,
Though I may not be in the right,
Or always win the fight,
My predicatment in sight,
Despite all my hairs turning white,
Feelings soar like a kite
Emotion both heavy and light,
But harder still to put it in black and white.

Writing is such a pain,
Yet keeps me from becoming insane,
Before my courage starts to wane,
Persevere even when slain,
In order to learn and gain.

Thanks to your remarkable teaching,
It enlightens my reading and writing,
Helps me find literature more alluring,
In the final process of discovering,
That the above pain is worth enduring.!

Choo Choo Kam

PS. This poem is dedicated to Profesor B. Mitchell
in appreciation of her helping the "budding poet"
(ahem!) fall more deeply in love with English

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Pandan Thai Delight in Kuching



Note the lovely carvings of vegetables for the garnishing

Savouring the dlicious food

Cosy outdoor dining for who who dislike aiconditioning

My sister's friend, Mdm Chung, brought us for a dinner treat at Pandn Thai Delight, located at Rimbunan Hijau Plaza in Kuching.

It has a cosy and warm ambience that oozes with charming Thai hospitality. The owner, Kwanlar Chung, herself hails from Thailand, and supervises the kitchen.

We had claypot tung hoon crab, mango salad, chicken in pandan leaves, fish in Thai sauce, pineapple rice and tom yam soup. For desserts we had Thai jendol and coconut delicacies.

As you can see from the happy faces of the diners above, the food must have been oh.... so yummy!

Do drop by the restaurant for a visit whenever you are in Kuching.
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Yours Truly, Uniquely Singapore (11)

Today is one of those days that I have to hop from one destination to another. Hence, I had to take quite a few taxis. I boarded a taxi at Toa Payoh to Kim Keat where I had to show a client three shop houses. The taxi driver was one of the grumpiest I had ever met.

He whined about the taxes he had to pay; road tax, gst, etc. I reminded him that Singapore is ruled by human beings, not gods, and hence we cannot expect a perfect nation. Even the most well meaning of people will sometimes divert a little and begin to think that they deserve more rewards in the form of incremental salaries.

I told him about my latest visit to Kuching where my friends complained that it is hard for developers to develop the town, because corruption is so rampant in the country.

Each time I visit another country I would come back, more appreciative of Singapore. I am one of those happy and easily contented individuals. I live within my means and am comfortable in my small little HDB flat. I enjoy the convenience that public transport offers me and do not begrduge those who drive luxurious cars. To each his own.

Frankly, Singapore is the diamond of my heart. I hope that we will continue to all play a part in helping to polish this lovely little diamond, so that she will continue to sparkle and shine in this part of the world.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Latest Trend in Properties - A Future Price?!!

It is amazing how some owners are happy with the hot property market but are still not satisfied with the prices that their properties are currently fetching. "What if the price goes up some more?" many say to themselves. Hence, the next best thing they do is to ask for a future price for their properties.! Therefore properties are often sold above valuation, and in some cases way above valuation or what I call a "future price". This is examplified by the purchaser who paid $150,000.00 above the valuation of the 5 room Housing Development Board flat in Tiong Bahru.

Many want to sell now but are still not satisfied with the already high price; they want to sell at a projected price. We often remind our clients that no one knows what the morrow may bring. We have forgotten how Sars took us unawares; we have forgotten September 11th terrorist attack in the United Sates; we have forgotten how the tsunami took away lives on 26th December - the bleakest boxing day!

One of my colleagues complain that her clients keep jacking up the purchase price. When she has achieved the price they want, they will increase the price by another thirty thousand and this continued from $1 million to $1.8 million! Another jacked his price from $2 million to $3 million!

If there are any property agents amongst my readers from other parts of the world, I will appreciate your enlightenment - does such a phenomenum also take place in your country or is it only happening in Singapore?

Monday, June 25, 2007

Singapore - A Nation of Johnny and Lucy Walkers!

The bus stops in Singapore are often beautifully designed. Even the seats are comfortable and tilted at an angle, so that commuters can face the oncoming buses and watch out for the buses they wish to board.

However, it is interesting to note that the distance between two bus stops is often quite far away. I suppose the Land Transport Authority has positioned the bus stops this way, as the distance for buses to cover is quite long. If bus stops are placed too close together, the numerous stops will cause more delay.

Hence, we have become a nation of Johnny and Lucy Walkers! The doctor at the Alexandra Hospital gave me a pedometer and told me that each day, I must try and cover at least 10,000 steps. Every day, I easily cover some 15,000 to 20,000 steps!!

I am glad I do not drive now. Destination walking has compelled me to become a Lucy walker too! I am glad to note that even those who drive now take to the gym and work out a few times a week.

So, everybody, let's walk greater health and vitality!

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Shall We Dance?


A Spontaneous Indian Dance at Damai Beach

Sister Lee Lee complained I had taken so many of her snapshots. She wanted to take a photo of me by the coconut tree at Damai Beach. Instead of posing stiffly, I decided to do an Indian dance. The Indians are usually fond of dancing by the coconut trees although nowadays their dances are more modern with intricate steps. Their dances exude great energy and agility.

Shall we dance?
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The 100% Discount Store


The shop with its catchy signboard in Kenyalang Park, Kuching

Eldest sister wanted to buy some buttons for the frock she had sewn for her friend's daughter. We went to Kenyalang Park, and waited for her in the car while she went to the tailoring shop.

I saw a shop with an interesting name, "100% Discount Stpre". Of course, technically, if it is 100% discount, it implies that all the items in the store must be free. Of course they are not.

It reminds me of another restaurant in Singapore called, "No Sighnboard" restaurant.
The above also reminds me of a story of how a shopkeeper found his shop sandwiched between two high rise buildings. People ketp patronising the modern high rise buildings and avoided his shop which stuck like a sore thumb. He decided to change the name of his shop to "Main Entrance". His business prospered after that.

In my earlier articles, I had mentioned the importance of names. Hence it is imperative that we chose the right names that befit our personalities.
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Dennis Wee Realty - One happy family


Celebrating the birthday of Sally and Sophia

We meet every Tuesday morning for breakfast and to discuss the latest trends and problems on properties.

Every Tuesday morning we have our NUC meetings at Park Mall. NUC stands for networking, updating and case-studies. Our Director who is also the right hand man of Dr. Dennis Wee, will lead the meetings. We will usually have breakfast which is provided by our generous Director, and once a month, we will have potluck breakfast together. Sometimes we will have invited guests like lawyers and bankers to come and give presentations.

At the NUC, we will discuss the various issues on the property market and network together. The meetings are usually lively and interesting because in our midst we have our company comedienne, Mary, who always makes us laugh.

Once a month, we will also celebrate the birthday of all those born in the same month. I enjoy working at Dennis Wee Group because of the friendly and warm atmosphere. If anyone wishes to join us as a real estate agent, do feel free to drop me a line.
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Saturday, June 23, 2007

Yours Truly, Uniquely Singapore (10)

Incredible things have happened for the past one year in Singapore, and the most incredible is the way prices have rocketed in the property market in the little dot on the world map.

Around December 2006, my client had called me quite excitedly that she was offered $1.9 million for her 1,905 sq. ft. Grange Heights apartment and asked for my advice. I told her it should be around $2.3 million. Later I marketed the unit for her at $2.28 million. I had earlier advised her not to sell since Jones Lang La Salle had targeted it for enbloc at $2.72 million. Since she was going to rent a unit near her daughter's potential primary school at Bukit Timah, she might just as well rent her unit at Grange Heights till enbloc. Today, the enbloc price has been revised to about $4.5 to $5 million just after 6 months!

A client had asked me to sell his semi detached house at Springleaf. I told him that the asking price of $1.5 million was a little too far off from the market price and it would be better if we wait for a few months' time. Six months later, I called him and an exclusive was signed to market the unit at $1.6 million. Two days later, when we arranged for an open house, he told me that now he wants a nett of $1.9 million!!

Another client had agreed on the price of $2 million for his five storey leasehold unit at Hong Kong Street with a balance of 44 years. Yet, when the price of $2 million was offered, he changed his mind and asked for $3 million!! The building is extremely old, and one has to climb 119 steps to the fifth floor!! The ground floor is rented to a sea cucumber wholesaler. When I came out of the unit, my clothes stank of sea cucumber! Whoever buys over the unit will have to pay another million to top up the lease to 99 years!

The most incredible was of course the sale of a five room flat at Tiong Bahru area! The buyer paid $150,000/- above valuation! Flushed with cash from enbloc sales, the purchaser did not bother as $720,000/- would appear "cheap" in comparison to private units of the same size. Now that a benchmark has been set, other owners of 5 room HDB flats are also expecting around the same price!

It will be too boring if I were to list the number of clients with "business acumen" who suddenly want sky-high and unrealistic prices for their properties. Yet, some of these clients were desperately trying to market their unit at even below valuation when the market was quiet!!

I remember, last year, I kept persuading some of my clients to pick up some good properties but many were hesitant. It is strange that when the market is quiet, few want to buy; when the market is hot, many want to jump into the bandwagon! Is it the herd instinct? Can we attribute this partially to the failure of our educational system? No, I am not an economist; neither am I politically inclined, but I always want to learn from everyone around me. I still remember one of my pastor's sermons which he preached on the pulpit some twenty years ago. "When the market is high; let go of your stock investments when you have made some profits; when the market is low, buy for you do not know how much lower the stocks can get."

I remember when I first started teaching English and Literature in River Valley High School, I made the principal and heads of departments "nervous" with my style of unconventional teaching. I hated rote learning. I wanted my students to understand; not to memorise notes and facts. I believe that when we understand something, the memory stays not just for the examination but for life. It will also help us to become more analytical instead of just accepting the opinions of others. It was also important for the students to find the lessons meaningful and practical. Recently, the government has been trying to inculcate entreprenuership and creativity. I am glad I had already done that in my ten years of teaching. My superiors relented after they saw the good results obtained by the students in their "O" levels.

Of course, when some less informed people from other parts of the world read of how the property prices in Singapore have sky rocketed, they might think that Singaporeans are very rich. The fact remains that only the rich are able to jump in and ride with the market; flipping and making millions almost overnight; while the poor just look with on with worry - will their children ever be able to afford a roof over their heads? Now 3 room HDB flats are going for over $200,000/-. Those who are renting apartments will have less to take home as rents have also increased tremendously.

Scary, the way home owners simply "shout" their prices!! Even scarier are kiasu buyers who simply jump in and pay for them! Many have been burnt in the previous downturn of the property market. It is amazing that people forget their lessons so quickly. When will this frenzy end? Sigh :-(

Gan Chau

Friday, June 22, 2007

Yours Truly, Uniquely Singapore (9)

My completion date for the purchase of my HDB flat has been brought to an earlier date on 25th June. I am extremely pleased because I feel "paiseh" embarrassed about putting my piano at the Piano Master International for so long. Although the staff is accommodating, I must not take advantage of people's kindness. After all, my piano costs only $100/- and yet has taken up space in the shop for the past 2 months since I could not take delivery until I move into the new flat. I must make it a point to help promote business for the Piano Company.

I was instructed to pay the balance purchase price before the final appointment. I asked around and some of my colleagues told me I could just pay by cheque. When I went to pay the balance of the purchase price, the HDB officer told me that I must pay by cash or cashier's order. I argued with her that a cheque is just as good. After all, it will be more than a week before completion. The cheque should have been cleared by then! To my surprise her reply, "This is the way we have been doing all along. This is the instructions from the HDB!"

I hate the idea of queueing up at the bank to purchase a Cashier's order. If only, HDB has improved its system, imagine how much time and money HDB will help to save for the people! One cashier order costs $5.00 and every day there are so many transactions! Not counting the long queue that one can find in banks.... the time saved could be used for better activities!

Strangely in a country which is supposed to be so efficient, I am afraid HDB has not improved much in the way it does the paper work. I am glad I hardly deal with HDB properties as I handle mostly private residential and commercial sales for my clients. Once we have secured a sale, the legal work is all done by the lawyers.

I shared with a colleague about the officer who reminded my vendor that her deceased brother no longer could buy a flat direct from the government, and this instruction was repeated by the agent! My colleague told me that the same thing happened to her client who was the administrator of her sister's estate. The HDB officer also told her that her deceased sister could no longer buy another flat direct from the HDB since she had already done it twice. Gosh! Are we producing a nation of rote learners and rote doers? Do government officers just regurgitate what they have been instructed without analysing what they are doing or saying?

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Sarawak Cultural Village


The lovely bedroom of a newly wedded couple

The house of the Melanaus

The creative dancers on stage

The natives of Sarawak are fun loving and resourceful

My eldest sister decided to take me to the Sarawak Cultural Village as I have never been to one despite being in Sarawak many times. It was about 45 minutes drive from town. The village is quite close to Damai Beach, and we took the opportunity to visit the well known beach.

It costs MR60 for a foreigner and MR25 for a local. Sis and her husband waited for me at the restaurant while I went inside the village. I was given a passport, and at each exhibit, I would get a chop.

A very interesting tour of the different types of houses we would find in Sarawak.
The highlight of the tour was a concert of one hour put up by the various native groups. There was much dancing and music. One of the men blew a blow pipe which burst the ballons which were hung high up in the ceilings. He later called up one of the audience - a petite lady to try out his blowpipe. The pipe flew out but oh! ever so gently and the crowd laughed. The man brought down the baloon and asked the lady to blow again. Although the blowpipe touched the balloon, it did not burst and the crowd laughed. He later gave the lady a pipe and asked her to burst the baloon. The crowded roared with laughter. It had looked so easy when the native blew his blowpipe. Only then did the crowd realise that handling the blowpipe is not an easy task.

I enjoyed myself very much and wish all the people in Kuching all the best.
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Giving Slimming Saloons a Run for their $$$!


The charming nurses on duty at the Weight Managment Clinic in Alexandra Hospital.

Eating breakfast in the midst of greenery. Alexandra Hospital is well known for its beautiful and well landscaped gardens.

The dietician, Yvonne Ban, giving tips on healthy eating.

A free shuttle service to take visitors to the Queeenstown MRT Station.

I trudged to Alexandra Hospital, feeling a little curious! The staff at the Weight Management Clinic had sent me two sms to remind me of my appointment with them at 8.00a.m. on 20th June 2007. How efficient!

I was greeted by charming nurses who asked me to fill in tons of forms. I was told that the wieght program consists of 4 doctor's consultation, 4 sessions of deitetics counselling, 4 execrise sessions and 3 behavioural therapy appointments which will all be completed in 4 months. The total charges are $445.71 with the government subsidising at $217.71, thus leaving $228/-. As I am a regular blood donor, I get another $50 discount, leaving me with a nett payment of $178/-.

The clinic is very thorough. I was asked to fast the night before so that I could be given a blood test. The nurse took my height and weight. I was asked to remove my shoes and socks and I told the nurse she must also "pump out air from my body" as I laugh a lot and have become fat from laughing. The nurse smiled and said I brightened up her day! The doctor on duty, Dr. Chua Han Boon, was not feeling well, and still came to work! He is meticulous and explained the program in greater detail. He challenged me to lose more than the minimum of targeted weight of 8 kgs in 4 months. I was told that I would have to submit one whole day of urine collection as the clinic wants to test my hormones. I was thrilled to learn that if the hormones are not balanced, it would also contribute to weight gain! I was asked to take the free breakfast of coffee and buns after the blood test. How thoughtful of the clinic! I was given an ECG and X-ray to make sure that my heart and lungs are strong before the clinic embarks me on an exercise program.

The deitician, Yvonne Ban, explained to me the necessity to take certain foods in limited quantities as they are detrimental to the health. There was even a cooking demonstration to show patients how to cook delicious yet heathy food.

I was given a pedometer which I had to clip on to my clothes. The little machine will note down every step I take. The ideal is at least 10,000 steps a day. I was thrilled at the end of the evening - the reading showed 15,208 steps! I started the pedometer at 12 noon. Hence, with the amount of walking I do everyday, 10,000 steps a day should not be a problem. Mmm...must be the hormones that are the main culprit for my obeisity! Let us hope so... but the fact remains that I must be determined from now onwards to do something about my weight and to lead a healthy lifstyle.

I am writing this article because I am sure there are many who do not know about the Weight Management Clinic at Alexandra Hospital. Perhaps many of you are like me. I dislike signing up with those beauty saloons which charge exorbitant fees for their weight loss programs. It is ironical that one has to spend so much money to lose weight when half the world is dying of hunger!

My siblings and colleagues are very concerned about my weight, and now with so many people on the know, I am even more determined to shed off the unhealthy kilos! From time to time, I will keep my readers posted, and hopefully at the end of the 4 months program, I will post a before and after picture of my weight loss. :-)

Cheers to healthy living!

Gan Chau
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Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Best Public Housing in the World!




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The above photos show the newly upgraded flats and landscaping at Toa Payoh

This will be the last month that I will be staying in the beautifully upgraded estate of Toa Payoh. The government had added an extra room and provided lifts on every floor. For the past 2 years, I have enjoyed walking Chelsea, taking in the lovely scenery and greenery. Often, I would release Chelsea so that she could give vent to her tremendous energy of running all over the estate. Even the cleaner was amazed by her intelligence and obedience. All I needed to do was to clap my hands and she would come running back to me.

Kudos to the government for having set up one of the best housing systems in the world. Perhaps many Singaporeans would take the Housing Development Board flats for granted. I came from a poor family. We were raised in Jelutong Village in Penang. Attap and wooden houses were built at random. Toilets too were set up in the fashion of what Americans will term as "outhouses". Recently I came across the video "Evil Toilets in China" in Harro, and I recalled sadly that the toilets in the villages in Penang four decades ago were also quite similar. There was no flushing system, and night soil carriers had to carry the buckets for disposal. My heart goes to these poor labourers - what a terrible job. I'd rather labour ten hours in the hot sun as a construction worker than to be a night soil carrier for one minute!

Recently, in Kuching, I asked a friend why Kuching develops so slowly. It was my umpteenth visit, and there has not been much development. My friend told me that developers are frustrated because there is so much corruption. Whenever a developer tries to build a high rise building or condominium, the authorities would make things very difficult, by demanding more "rewards" in the form of cash or ownership of the first two floors of the apartments! Sigh! I just cannot understand why people are not contented with what they have. After all, we cannot carry a single cent or possession to the next world! Worse, we have to answer to the Almighty Creator for our deeds on earth!

Next month I will be moving to my flat in Little India. There is not so much greenery there but I have noticed a nice plot of field where I will probably walk Chelsea. I want the convenience of living in the city, so that I can walk to my office. However, I heard that the government will spruce up Little India next year. Optimist that I am, I guess, I will be on the lookout for interesting things to see on my way to work. Little India is after all, quite a colorful place!

Whenever I hear my foreign guests praising Singapore, especially her housing system, I feel, oh, so ooo oooooo proud!

Birds' Nests for the Poor!



Sister Lee Lee's garden of flowering plants


"Birds' Nests for the Poor"

My eldest sister Lee Lee is very knowledgeable about herbs. In the garden of her corner terrace house in Kuching, she grows many types of fruit trees namely papaya, banana, mango and longan trees. She also grows beautiful bouganvillas and other types of flowering plants. Of course, the one that catches my attention most are her herbal plants.

The herbal plant that I am going to mention in this blog is known as the "birds' nests for the poor." On the leaves, we can spot a Chinese character with the word "ren" or man. This herb is good for the body from head to toe. It is especially good for the lungs. One smoker started drinking "ren" tea continuously for a month. Later when he visited his doctor for a check up, the doctor asked him if he had reduced his cigarette smoking because the lung had been removed of impurities!

I asked sister the word for the tea in English but sister does not know. Does any of my readers know the medicinal name of the herbs? You can recognise the leaves, because on each leaf, you can see the word "ren" as if it is written by a brush! Best of all, it is very easy to grow the herbs. We just have to plant back the stalks and hey presto, they bloom everywehre! The herbs can be boiled together with leaves, flowers and stalks, and keep us in good health if drunk at least three times a week.

Whatever it is, I thank God for His wonderful creation of herbal plants and roots for us to consume. Even cats and dogs know how to look for herbs when they are not well. My pet dogs loved to nibble on some grass and plants when I took them for walks. When I saw them doing so, I knew they were not quite well. Kamlette, my golden retriever, would throw out after nibbling at the herbs. Not once, had I ever to bring my dogs to the vet except for their yearly booster jabs.

Amazing plants! Wonderful herbs!
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Monday, June 18, 2007

Strong, Steady and Cute! The Volkswagon!


My sisters' Volkswagon - as old as my second nephew, Daniel!

Each time I visit eldest sister Lee Lee in Kuching, I would think of our scrapping system in Singapore. I am not knowledgeable about cars. I had to confess that I used to think cars could only last ten years since most people scrap their cars after a decade.! However, my sister's faithful old Volkswagon has proven that a car can be used even after 38 years! The engine is still good, and the metal works still beautifully intact. During all those countless visits to Kuching, I had never seen the Volkswagaon broken down when I was a passenger.

Sis bought the cute vehicle just after my second nephew, Daniel was born on 24th December 1969. It is interesting that one day, I received some comments in my blog from a stranger in America, claiming that he was there when my sister bought the Volkswagon with the number KA8944! Later I found out that he was Ed Wong, the son of sister's best friend, Alice, in Kuching.

Sometimes I wonder if the system of scrapping cars after ten years is a good idea. Are these cars really scrapped for their metals for it is such a waste of resources when the world is gradually being depleted of iron, steel, sand and wood.
It is not such a bad idea if these cars are resold to people in Malaysia or Indonesia where roads are wide enough should cars get broken down. As I have said, I am not an expert on cars. I had never worked with the Land Transport Authority and hence do not really understand their rationale for scrapping cars after ten years.

So readers, I present to you..... the cute and faithful Volkswagon. Sis had mentioned she would like to sell the car if she could get a fairly good price for it. Any takers?

Gan Chau
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Sunday, June 17, 2007

A Great Club to Join - Economical and Beneficial


Prize winning ribbons for best speaker, best table topics and best evaluator.
Area U 1 and 3 prizes for Humorous Speech and International Contests.

It is almost a year since I signed up as a member with Dennis Wee Group Toastmasters' Club on 24th July 2006 with the encouragement of Aveline Tan, my manager. I guess if I had not joined Dennis Wee Group as a real estate agent, I might still be unaware of toastmasters'activities.

I have learnt so much from our own club and from various clubs in Singapore. Thanks to my passionate and encouraging Vice President for Education, Vanessa Yong, I was inspired to be diligent and focused on my goals of completing my speech and leadership projects so that I could be a distinguised toastmaster. Sometimes when people asked me why I managed to complete my projects so quickly, I would always reply, "If I had more youth and more time, my procrastination would not be a crime!"

How I wish I had learnt about toastmasters' club when I was younger.! The art of public speaking is such an interesting and unique experience. It is never easy to speak on stage. In fact public speaking is the No. 1 fear in the United Kingdom. The fear of death ranks as No. 7! I guess, this would also apply to every country in the world. Yet, this fear can be overcome through constant practice and training. And what better way to do it than to participate in toastmasters' activities.

My two older sisters, Lee Lee and Ean Ean, are natural speakers. As wives of church pastors, they have made an impact when they deliver sermons and testimonies. Being the youngest, I am the quietest and most shy amongst my dynamic siblings. Although I have won so many prizes for my speeches, I always have to make an effort. Given the choice, I would prefer writing to speaking. I remember my boss, Dr. Dennis Wee, congratulating me when he heard I had won the top prize for the Humorous Speech Contest. "Can speak well, eh....but you always appear so quiet in the office", he said.

Frankly, I would say that toastmasters' activities have helped me to become a better real estate agent. I never dream that I could be one of the top agents in my company! After joining our Club, I became more aware of the way I present myself before my clients in terms of body language and articulation.

I want to take this opportunity to thank our President, Lionel Ng and the exco members for having done a very good job although this is the first year of our club's existence. We have become a Distinguised President's Club. I also want to thank all the dynamic leaders - Lawrence Quek, Gea Ban Peng, Poh Kim Siong, Michael Wee, Patricia Lum, Khong Chooi Peng, Goh Wei Koon, Edward Ma, Clara Chang, Albert Lim, Patrick Chang, Richard Sng, Kan Kin Fung, Yong Ee Chuan, and many others for their committment towards toastmasters' activities. Indeed their fine examples have inspired me to become even more motivated and focused.

Gan Chau
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Saturday, June 16, 2007

Wishing All Fathers a Happy Fathers' Day

Whenever people compliment me for being compassionate and generous, I will give the credit to papa. It was he who had taught all his five children by his fine examples of love, kindness and charity to others.

People often ask me why I am always so cheerful and happy. Again, my thanks to papa who had always been optimistic and full of gratitude. Papa always believed that truth will always prevail; hence there is no necessity for any of us to have to be overly defensive. He also taught us that there is no pride in success; no shame in failure, so long as we have tried our best. Life is not about falling down; it's about picking ourselves up each time we fall. I had witnessed how papa would smile even though he had tons of problems. He always believed that there would always be a solution to every problem. If every thing failed, there would always be divine intervention! A simple man of great faith. It was this faith that enabled papa to give away his last dollar to someone who asked him for help.He always believed that when we lend our umbrella to someone in dire need God will bless us with a bigger umbrella when we are in need.

Though steeped in Chinese literature, papa was quite modern in his approach towards the upbringing of his children. Whilst ma ma was not in favour of giving my sisters and I too much education, papa thought otherwise for he believed that the hands that rock the cradle rule the world. Hence, it is very important for ladies to be well educated so that they could be good helpmates to their spouses.

Papa was quite demonstrative in his affection. Each time he came back from work, he would holler, "Where's my bao bei? (precious one). Hence is it any wonder that I should grow up, confident and courageous in the knowledge that I am so well-loved by my wonderful father. I am glad that now, fathers are beginning to realise the importance of bonding with their children, and not to be afraid of hugging their kids so as to show their love. The first five years of a child's development is very crucial.

Indeed if I am what I am today, I want to give all credit to papa. Each fathers' day, I would always give thanks to god for having given me the most wonderful father on earth. Here is Choo wishing all fathers a Happy and Blessed Fathers' Day.!

My Super Duper Sis


Eldest sis Lee Lee at the China/Malaysia Friendship Park

Sis imitating Admiral Zheng Ho in the background

Sis with her husband, Rev. Stephen Wong at Damai Beach

Sis preparing her healthy home cooked food

After 7 days in Kuching, I am back. I have learnt so much from my knowledgeable and versatile eldest sister, Lee Lee. I enjoyed listening to her as she explained about the various herbs she had planted. I laughed as she narrated jokes and funny incidents. If she had been a toastmaster, she would probably have swept all the best speaker prizes.

My eldest sister is very concerned about my 88.8kgs and everyday, she would cook healthy and delicious meals for me. She kept reminding me to reduce my weight and to be watchful over what I consume. I have promised her that when I visit her again in 6 months time, I would have lost at least 15 to 20 kgs.

My diet begins today. For the love of my sister and all those who are concerned about me, I would try my utmost to shed the unwanted pounds.

Oh Lord! Please help!
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Saturday, June 09, 2007

An Oasis in the Desert

I am flying off to Kuching Sarawak this evening and will be away for a week. Hence I will be computer-less. Looking for an internet cafe in Kuching is like looking for an oasis in the desert.

Eldest sister has a phobia for things electronic, and now she has indicated she will learn how to operate the computer. She is also a terrific writer and it would be so much easier if she could use the computer for her writing. Also, she can correspond with me and my other siblings via email. What an uphill task for me to persuade all my older siblings to learn how to email. Edlest brother and second sister find the mobile phones confusing! Four of my nephews and nieces are in the computer business... they too have been striving hard to persuade their parents to overcome their phobia.

So until then, my dear readers, if you do not hear from me within the next one week, you will know that I am fine.....except computer-less!

Gan Chau

Friday, June 08, 2007

Singapore is a Jenny Wu Durian

I recently read an article, "So Is Life Rosy Or Not" by Mr. Wang. It makes me immediately think of red, rosy apples that always look so pretty and succulent. Fruits are my favourite. I always tell my friends I must have been a bat in my previous life, the way I go around eating fruits... all types of fruits.

Is Singapore a rosy apple? I think Singapore is more like a durian... a Jenny Wu Durian to be more precise. In case readers do not know why the durian is labelled "Jenny Wu" I will elucidate.

One of my friend's father, Uncle Lim, used to have a plantation in Penang and he was famous for his coveted durians which he called, "Jenny Wu". Jenny Wu was once a famous actress cum singer and it is obvious why the name is so appropriate. The durians only have five compartments and in each compartment, there will be only one small seed wrapped by succulent, delicious, fleshy durian. The Sultan T durians cannot hold a candle to Uncle Lim's durians! Malaysians would travel far and wide to get Jenny Wu durians and pay a hefty price for them ....about MR35 to MR50 each.

Although durians are such delicious fruits, there are people who do not take to them. They would complain about the thorns and pungent smell of the fruits. Likewise, there are also Singaporeans who will still complain and whine about the very soil they are standing on. Singapore is too hectic; too "fine" a city; cost of living is too high and government is too strict, business is too competitive, etc. etc. These people are focusing a little too much on the thorns of the durians.

Many people will tell you that good durians are harder to manipulate at when trying to extract the flesh. Sometimes our hands will get pricked by the thorns. However, when we succeed, hey presto....we are rewarded with the flesh of the durians that look so inviting.

As a hopeless optimist and an easily contented person, I look at the five compartments of Jenny Wu Durian with positiveness.


Cleanliness as they say, is godliness. Just about every Peter, John and Paul in America knows of the cleanliness of Singapore. So does every Mr. Lim, Mr. Chen and Mr. Wong in Asia envy us of our clean and green city. Nothing is perfect....we are not naturally clean....we attempt to be clean...hence do pardon us for still some dirty places of HDB void decks, some public toilets, etc.

I am glad I can zip around Singapore easily by buses, taxis and trains. I remember my sister and I had to wait some two hours for the bus when I visited her in Australia a few years back. Finally we had to hitch a ride, and some kind soul picked us up in his car.! My work as an agent here is made so much easier as I do not own a car.


"Low Crime Does Not Mean No Crime" is often reminded to us by the Police Force. In every country there are always some black sheep. However, it is comforting to know that I can walk my dogs at 3a.m. and the chances of being attacked by a robber are quite slim. It is also nice to know that I can wear some gold jewellery without having to turn around to see if anyone is following me.

Our laws pertaining to crime and punishment are well known. My eldest sister shared with me that they immediately met with some thugs the moment they arrived at their host's abode in Perth. The police officers told them that they were so exasperated with the rising crime rate because of the leniency towards offenders!

Frankly, if I were to live in America or Australia, I would not want to be a property agent. I would go for safer options of working as a secretary in an office.


There has been much discontentment over the recent ministerial hike in pay as well as bonuses and pay rise for civil servants. At least, things are transparently done.
We know how much they are being paid. It could be more risky if officials become corrupt. We do not know how deep they will dig into the coffers!


I am scared of unemployment. It is a terrible disease that can eat into the sanity of a worried father and husband. I still remember how long it took me to get that simple typist position when I first started work in Penang. Six months of unemployment was sheer agony. Here, we have more jobs than we can fill, and can share our blessings with our neighbours. Let us not look upon foreign talents as a threat, but as a bonus. When we have diverse people from all over the world, Singapore becomes a melting pot. It makes our country more exciting and colorful. We can all learn from one another.


To me freedom to choose our religion is very important. So is freedom to marry any one we fancy. I do not mind if the government is strict and stringent over drink driving, shop lifters, molesters, rapists, drug pushers, etc.

As I have said many times before, I am not politically inclined. I am a simple real estate agent who likes to laugh a lot. I am just giving my two cents worth of opinion and since I like fruits so much, I think of Singapore as a durian, a Jenny Wu Durian, to be precise. Let us not focus so much on the thorns; let us focus more on the juicy, fleshy durians inside.

Though we may live in a highly stressed society, we may choose to lessen our stress by prioritising our time and achievements. Happiness is always within is not so dependent on external circumstances alone.

If life is a thorny durian.... it is not so bad after all. :-)

Gan Chau

Not Fat, But Iron!

I shared with some of my colleagues the incident at the Polyclinic and the result shown on the weighing machine - 88.8 kgs!

"But you don't even have a double chin, Choo...must be something wrong with the weighing machine lah," volunteered Louise, my colleague.

"The machine could not be inaccurate. Everywhere I weighed.... the result was about the same....fat means fat lah," I declared stoically.

"How can you be heavier than me? I'm so much taller than you and I'm not even skinny", Dickson, my co-broking agent friend from Orange Tee continued, scratching his head in puzzlement.

"Mm... must be iron inside.... you're an iron lady! Had just shared with my group how come you can be a top agent when you don't even drive. Some of my team members drive and yet are not productive in sales", Dickson continued.

"How nice....Am I an iron lady? Think my bones must be full of that greyish matter...what do you call that?"

"Bone marrow...maybe you're right. My sister is about your size and she only weighs about 69 kgs", volunteered Sally.

Mm... if this were true...and I were to donate my bone marrow.... that might bring my weight down.

Sigh..... back to reality. After my trip to Sarawak, I have to visit the Weight Management Clinic at Alexandra Hospital and hopefully, a miracle can take place.
Mm... maybe I should have auditioned for the role of "The 200 Pound Beauty!" :-)


Oh Lord, give me the serenity
to accept the iron and bone marrow,
to stoically reduce my weight tomorrow.

If it were real fat; let me get set,
To eat less, run more,
Take less oil, sweet and fat.

If all the above still don't work,
give me the simple faith,
to trust that you'll give me enzymes,
to burn the stubborn fat and grime,
so that I'll be more trim and fit,
A healthier Choo without excess meat!

Gan Chau

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Cheers to More Good Health!

I had not been feeling well of late and attributed it to the extremely hot weather and the bug that had been going around. Since I am going to Kuching this Saturday, I thought I would make a trip to the polyclinic to have a check up. As a regular blood donor, I have free medical benefits.

I chose to go in the late afternoon so that I could proceed to the AIA Building at Alexandra Road for my toastmasters' meeting. It was a Dr. Ng Chung Sien who saw me. He is an affable, pleasant looking doctor who tries to cheer his patients up by being humorous. I asked the doc if my dizziness could be due to some new development eg. diabetes, etc. He smiled and said more likely it could be due to the hydrochlorothiazide tables. However it would be better if I reduce some weight.

"So hard to lose weight doc.... more like genetic factor for me," I volunteered.

"By the way what work do you do?" asked Dr. Ng.

"Real estate".

"Now market is good. When market is good, everyone's weight goes up. When market is down, people's weight also go down. Maybe you can try liposuction," suggested Dr.Ng.

"Yucks... scared of surgery ... am not afraid of death...but it's important how I die. Don't mind dying in the mission fields...but due to liposuction? Don't want to become famous in this way lah," I smiled sheepishly. I assured Dr. Ng that whether market is down or up, I have always been overweight. Hence my nickname, Pooi Choo.

"Then I'll refer you to the weight management clinic at Alexandra Hospital.'

"That's a better idea. So they will have to take a before and after photo?"

Dr. Ng smiled. "Not like us it is weight loss for good health....not like those already slim ladies at Expressions who want to lose weight to look even slimmer for beauty".

"Ok. Sounds like a good idea so long as treatment is still free for me as a blood donor. I hate to spend money to lose weight when half the world is starving for want of food."

"Let me take your weight as I have to give you a referral letter."

I stepped onto the weighing machine.

"Wow! What a nice number. 88.8kg. See I told're prosperous!"

I laughed. What a coincidence.! Few believe my weight....for I am always 10 kg heavier than my appearance.

I gave the doctor my name card. I told him to read my blog if he has time and that I may blog about our visit. I told him that he is one of the most friendly doctors as most physicians at polyclinics are serious and distant, with a look that seems to say, "Don't ask too many questions... I'm very busy."

I smsed Vanessa Yong, my good friend and colleague. She replied, "I'm half of you, Choo. I'm 44.4kg! Hee Hee." I had once jokingly suggested to Vanessa that I would love it if some surgery could be done to remove my excess flesh and implant them onto her. This way, we can both share the weight together!

At the AIA Toastmasters' Club, one of the speakers, Tan May Yan, who works with Singhealth, talked about the Government's plan for means testing. Now the hospitals are struggling with insufficient beds for Class C and B wards, because more people want to enjoy the greater subsidies that come with these two classes of wards. What a coincidence.

As I took the bus back after the toastmasters' meeting, I reviewed the day's happenings. Mm.... it is best for me to do something about my weight so that I do not have to worry about Class A, B or C. This is why the government is now advocating us to take greater care of our health by encouraging us to ask for less oil and salt when we patronise our favourite food stalls. Mm...I will also make an effort to cook more at home when I move to Chander Road. This time I will have less excuse not to cook as the Tekka Market is next to my apartment.!

Cheers to a more healthy lifestyle! Health is wealth!

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

A Happy Choice for the Happy Individual

Voxpopuli@Malaysiakini had written that it is not wise to mix religion with politics. I wholeheartedly agree. It is pointless to force someone to become a
Christian, Musliam, Hindu or Buddhist. To each his own. I can profess to be a
Buddhist, but if deep in my heart, I do not really believe in the teachings of
Buddhism, what is the point?

I cannot understand why the Malaysian government is so stringent on the case of Lina Joy. It reminds me of the time when I was a teacher. My students were very strong in Chinese, and many of them did not like to write or speak in English. I could not force them to love the subjects I was teaching - English and Literature. However, I could try to make my lessons so interesting that the students could begin to enjoy and appreciate the beauty of the language and the works of great English writers and poets. Once their interest was aroused, I had won half the battle. It was with great joy and satisfaction when the majority of the students scored distinctions in their 'O' levels for the subjects they once had detested!

I would earn my children's respect if I were to allow them to choose who
they wished to marry. There would be more joy, meaning and harmony in the family
if my children could stay married longer to the spouses they had fallen in love

Similarly, a government of any nation, would be better off, if it allows its people to choose their own religions. After all, it is easier to rule a nation of people who are happy and contented with their own choice of beliefs. More importantly, that these religions would help to inculcate better traits in the people who profess to practise them. Let a Buddhist be a good Buddhist. Let a Muslim be a good Muslim. Let a Christian be a good Christian. Let a Hindu be a good Hindu. An individual is strong when he is of great character. He helps to build a good family which in turn helps to create a strong nation.

Being Under Satan's Yoke?

When I told some friends that I am taking a week's break to visit eldest sister this coming Saturday in Kuching, Sarawak, one friend, said, "Choo, property is so hot can take a holiday when the property is quiet!"

"I want to spend time with my beloved sis and teach her how to do email. I am glad she has finally agreed to overcome her phobia for things electronic and now wants to learn so that we can write to each other," I replied. It had taken me so oo ooooo long to finally persuade my siblings to learn how to use the computer. They have not learnt how to sms! Each time I have to sms to their children instead! I also want to visit some friends who are getting on in years. I hate attending funerals, if you know what I mean. I would prefer to give bouquets to people when they are alive; not when they are six feet under.

I remember the first time I started my teaching job in Singapore, I saved my money so that I could take sister with me to Australia and New Zealand as she had never visited these countries. It was my way to thank her for being such a wonderful sister. We never know what the morrow brings. I wanted to fulfill my heart's desire to take sister on a holiday with the earliest possible savings.

All of us have 24 hours a day. When we say to someone that we have no time, it actually means we do not have the priority for the activity. If eldest brother had not prioritised his time to teach his youngest daughter, Kam Ning, today Singapore would not have a world class violinist on stage.

I hope the following article sent by my friend, Ya Chen, from Melbourne will help us to rethink our priorities.

SATAN'S MEETING: (Read even if you're busy)

Satan called a worldwide convention of demons.
In his opening address he said,
! "We can't keep Christians from going to church."
"We can't keep them from reading their Bibles and knowing the truth."
"We can't even keep them from forming an intimate relationship with
their saviour."
"Once they gain that connection with Jesus, our power over them is

"So let them go to their churches; let them have their covered dish
dinners, BUT steal their time, so they don't have time to develop a
relationship with Jesus Christ.."
"This is what I want you to do," said the devil:
"Distract them from gaining hold of their Saviour and maintaining that
vital connection throughout their day!"
"How shall we do this?" his demons shouted.
"Keep them busy in the non-essentials of life and invent innumerable
schemes to occupy their minds," he answered.
"Tempt them to spend, spend, spend, and borrow, borrow, borrow."
"Persuade the wives to go to work for long h! ours and the husbands to
6-7 days each week, 10-12 hours a day, so they can afford their empty
"Keep them from spending time with their children."
"As their families fragment, soon, their homes will offer no escape from
the pressures of work!"
"Over-stimulate their minds so that they cannot hear that still, small
"Entice them to play the radio or cassette player whenever they drive."
To keep the TV, VCR, CDs and their PCs going constantly in their home
and see to it that every store and restaurant in the world plays
non-biblical music constantly."
"This will jam their minds and break that union with Christ."
"Fill the coffee tables with magazines and newspapers."
"Pound their minds with the news 24 hours a day."
"Invade their driving moments with billboards."
"Flood their mailboxes with junk mail, mail order catalogs, sweepstakes,
and every kind of newsletter and promotional offering free products,
services and false hopes.."
"Keep skinny, beautiful models on the magazines and TV so their husbands
will believe that! outward beauty is what's important, and they'll
become dissatisfied with their wives. "
"Keep the wives too tired to love their husbands at night."
"Give them headaches too! "
"If they don't give their husbands the love they need, they will begin
to look elsewhere."
"That will fragment their families quickly!"
"Give them Santa Claus to distract them from teaching their children the
real meaning of Christmas."
"Give them an Easter bunny so they won't talk about his resurrection and
power over sin and death."
"Even in their recreation, let them be excessive."
"Have them return from their recreation exhausted."
"Keep them too busy to go out in nature and reflect on God's creation.
Send them to amusement parks, sporting events, plays, concerts, and
movies instead."

"Keep them busy, busy, busy!"
"And when they meet for spiritual fellowship, involve them in gossip and
small talk so that they leave with troubled consciences."
"Crowd their lives with so many good causes they have no time to seek
power from Jesus."
"Soon they will be working in their own strength, sacrificing their
health and family for the good of the cause."
"It will work!"
"It will work!"
It was quite a plan!
The demons went eagerly to their assignments causing Christians
everywhere to get busier and more rushed, going here and there.
Having little time for their God or their families.
Having no time to tell others about the power of Jesus to change lives.

I guess the question is, has the devil been successful in his schemes?

You be the judge!!!!!
Does "BUSY" mean: B-eing U-nder S-atan's Y-oke?
Please pass this on, if you aren't too BUSY!
I don't think I know 10 people who would admit they love Jesus.
Do You Love Him?

Another Scam.....this time from Malaysia! wrote: CHIN LEONG AND ASSOCIATES
TEL: +60 12 2442893
I am Chin Leong,an attorney at law.A deceased client of mine,that shares the same last name as yours, who here in after shall be referred to as my client, died as the result of a heart-related condition on the 11 November 2001. His heart condition was due to the death of all the members of his family in the Gulf Air Flight Crashes in Persian Gulf Near Bahrain Aired August 23, 2000 - 2:50 p.m. ET as reported on:

I have contacted you to assist in distributing the money left behind by my client before it is confiscated or declared unserviceable by the bank where this deposit valued at Seventee million five hundrend dollars( US$17.5 million dollars) is lodged. This bank has issued me a notice to contact the next of kin, or the account will be confiscated.

My proposition to you is to seek your consent to present you as the next-of-kin and beneficiary of my named client, since you have the same last name, so that the proceeds of this account can be paid to you. Then we can share the amount on a mutually agreed-upon percentage. All legal documents to back up your claim as my client's next-of-kin will be provided.All I require is your honest cooperation to enable us see this transaction through.

This will be executed under a legitimate arrangement that will protect you from many breach of the law. If this business proposi tion offends your moral values,do accept my apology. I must use this opportunity to implore you to exercise the utmost indulgence to keep this matter extraordinary confidential, whatever your decision, while I await your prompt response.Please contact me at once to indicate your interest. I will like you to acknowledge the receipt of this e-mail as soon as possible via my private EMAIL:( and treat with absolute confidentiality and sincerity.I look forward to your quick reply.
Best regards,
Chin Leong
Attorney at Law


This is the second time that I have received a second email from Barrister Chin Leong. Although the content is different, it is playing along the same line.

The above letter is even more ridiculous! First, Brarrister Chin Leong claimed that his client had the same surname as me! I wonder why he never did his research properly. The "Kam" surname is very rare both in Malaysia and Singapore. If you look into the Street Directories, You will have pages upon pages of "Ong, Lim, Tan, Wong, Lee, Ang, Chan, Chin" etc. just to name a few. Although I have not yet seen the Street Directories in Thailand and Indonesia, I would presume it is the same.

Secondly, Barrister Chin Leong claimed that his client's relatives had all crashed in the airplane. What a boring story with the usual plot that you have heard from other Africans with great titles of "Dr., C.E.O., Sir," etc. who also claimed that their associates had also perished in air crashes! Gosh, if planes crash so often, I'd rather stay landed on good, Singapore soil.!

It annoys me even more that Chin Leong has an address in Kuala Lumpur, which actually makes him look more credible than the Africans. Even though I have a niece in Kuala Lumpur, I will not waste her time to verify the address! My reply to Chin Leong is as follows :-

Dear Barrister Chin Leong,

Sorry, I may be a Kam, but I am in NO WAY related to your client. We may fool the world, but we CANNOT fool God who knows our every cell and fibre!! God hates dishonesty, greed and covetousness....$$$ that is obtained in the wrong way will perish one way or another. Do not lay your treasures on earth but in heaven.

You are a barrister..... please use your brains to help others; not harm them. What is done in the dark will one day be exposed in the light. Sorry, your $$$$$ does not make my world go round; it only makes my world more flat and chaotic.!

Gan Chau

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Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Let Me Do It

I came across a poem when I was in secondary school. The poem has affected very much the way I led my life thus far. It is something like this:-

Life is a long journey,
And we are all, but travellers
on this long road of life;
Anything that I can do;
Any kindness that I can show,
Let me do it there and then...
for I may not pass this way again.

I am glad that because of my student from River Valley High School, Chua Choon Mui, I started to donate blood some 21 years ago. Choon Mui's mom needed surgery and would require quite a lot of blood. Like a heroine I trudged to the blood bank, only to be told that I disqualified as my haemoglobin was too low.! Pride before the fall! However, after taking some tablets, I managed to donate and had been donating until four years ago, when I had to stop because of hypertension. I am glad I gave blood when I could and had given some 78 times. The Blood Bank has kindly given me 10 years of medical benefits. I do not have to pay for consultation and medication when I visit the polyclinics.

I am also glad that I managed to take time off during the school holidays to help in our church missionary programs in Nepal, Japan, China, Australia, Indonesia, Thailand and Malaysia. I was then fitter and could climb the mountains in Nepal and the Great Wall of China and walk for miles in the countries we visited. Now, due to my constant back aches, it would be quite a task to scale a hill, let alone a mountain.!

So often, we tell oursleves when we finish this and that, we will start to do something. When we have finshed our tertiary, we will volunteer in the orphanage. When our children get married, we will involve ourselves in some homes for the aged. etc. etc. I wish to give God the prime of my life; not my twilight years when I am starting to have constant backaches and headaches! We could always combine some short term mission work when we are working. I am thrilled when I see some youngsters just taking a year or two off from work to volunteer in Myammar, Thailand, Indonesia, etc. I am confident they will improve all round when they come back - physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually. It is in giving that we receive.

I am glad that I gave myself the opportunity to start a restaurant and to convince myself that I had the courage to do it. Best of all, to know that I could become a self-taught chef! Now I have the pleasure of cooking to entertain friends and colleagues!

As a child, I loved to teach. The moment I learnt to read, I started to form a little class with my neighbours' children as my students. Hence it was not surprising that I opted to teach after my tertiary! It was only when I lost my voice and quit teaching that I discovered my potential in real estate sales.!

When my brother discovered his daughter's musical talent, he personally coached her despite his busy schedules. Now Ning is an accomplished concert violinist; if brother had been too busy with his own career, Ning would probably be a chef today. At an interview, she had told the interviewer that if she were not a violinist, she would have loved to follow the footsteps of Jamie Oliver, the accomplished chef.

I cried when I read the news about the little 6 year old girl, Anna Lim, who was recently drowned in Sentosa Hotel pool. It was even more poignant as she had asked her father to teach her how to swim, but the father never found the time to do so. I can identify with the father's feelings. How many of us have regretted not doing something which we should have done, because we kept procrastinating. If only, if only, if only ...........

How many of us regret not having the time to make that trip home to see our loved ones.? How many regret not spending more time with our children.? I remember a friend whose son was jailed, saying to me, "If only I could turn the clock back, I would rather earn less and spend more time with my son....the fault is also mine."

Let us follow our heart.... if we need to do something let us just do it there and then.

Gan Chau

Monday, June 04, 2007

Terima Kasih, Malaysiakini

Thanks to the book written by Dr. Kua Kia Soong. If not, I would not have written about my reflections on the May 13th riots when I was still in Primary Six. I did not know the article would be featured in Malaysiakini, as I did not then know of the existence of this web! Thanks to my article, two of my classmates and childhood friends contacted me.! What a great joy to be able to be in contact after three and a half decades! Each time I went back to Penang and Kuala Lumpur, I was hoping I'd end up meeting some of my old friends on the streets!

Friends to me are precious. I find myself thinking a lot of my primary and secondary school mates, teachers, neighbours, etc. I often wonder how they are doing, and if some of the elderly ones are still alive and kicking!

The recent spate of falling trees and branches killing some Singaporeans and Permanent Residents made me think of the Lim family in my Jelutong Kampong (village).
One day, as Mrs. Lim was coming back from work, she was instantly killed by a coconut tree which fell on her. From that time onwards, I never like to go out on a rainy and stormy day as the memory of the scene still haunts me till today. I hope Mrs. Lim's children are doing well now.

Thanks once again, Malaysiakini. Keep up your good work!

Gan Chau

Sunday, June 03, 2007

A Healthy Way to Club!


It's fun, fun, fun at every toastmasters' gathering!


Mr. Poh Kim Siong with the leaders from District 80 and some area governors from Div. U.

You have probably guessed correctly. I am not referring to golf clubs, night clubs or town clubs but toastmasters clubs!

I only discovered about toastmasters' activities when I joined Dennis Wee Group as a property agent. I realised that even though I had been a teacher for ten years, yet there is still so much to learn about delivering our best when on stage! How I wish I had discovered toastmasters' clubs earlier. Then I might have presented my speeches and sermons more effectively. Although my ACS boys and colleagues enjoyed my sharing during the daily school devotion, I feel I could have done a better job, had I participated in a toastmasters' club. Once, one of my ACS boys commented, "Madam, we enjoy your sharing. From the heart." Youngsters are intuitive. You cannot pull wool over their eyes.

I have enjoyed myself so much and found that I have benifitted greatly by being a toastmaster. I have become wittier and more refined in my speech. It has also made me more conscious of my body language, vocal variety and eye contact with my audience. I have also become a more dynamic and spontanous person. Toastmasters programs also train us to be leaders. Hence I want to encourage all my readers to participate and join a toastmasters' club in your area and country.

At our recent Achievers' Day, I was happy to meet Pauline, a fellow toastmaster from Sydney, Australia. She is now a Distinguished Toastmaster and has been a member for the past 10 years. It is encouraging to see her so enthusiastic! What a charming lady!

Another outstanding youngster is Barry Tan, a medical student, who has already completed his advanced Gold project and served as the Area Governor for Division U2. It is not easy to juggle his studies, toastmasters' activities and blog writing; yet Barry has managed to cope! I mentioned to him once that he should give a talk on time management to secondary school and junior college kids. I believe indirectly toastmasters' activities have helped Barry to be even more stringent on his time management. At least, they have helped me, because even though I managed to complete 25 speech projects in 5 months of joining our Toastmasters' Club, I was still able to come in 47th position in our Company's Top 100 award for 2006. I hope to improve my ranking for 2007.

Wan sui, wan sui Toastmasters Clubs. May Toastmasters' Clubs survive and continue in strength for the next 1,000 years! :-)

Gan Chau

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Who wants to commit suicide?

I received an interesting sms from my colleague, Vincent Owyong, yesterday.

Vincent: Choo, I won't be going to the office today. Am going to Pandan Valley to
help rescue some fish.

Choo: From the canal, pond or river?

Vincent: From the tank. My friend's fish. Want to commit suicide already.

Choo: (Puzzled). Who wants to commit suicide? Your friend or the fish.?

Vincent: My friend's luohan on heat. Jumped out of the tank and onto the balcony.
The tank too small. lol.

Choo: Ignorant owner putting big fish in small tank. Tell your friend to change
tank or I'll put him in a child's tub! Only then he will know how his luohan feels to be kept in a tiny tank.

Vincent: Ya lor. Told him to steam the luohan with ginger and garlic.!

Choo: People only keep luohan for good luck. By steaming his fish, he'll be
steaming his luck away.

Vincent: Wonder why people put big fish in small tank?

Choo: Their fish grow faster than they anticipated. Then too lazy to change
tank. Seen too many of such cases already.

Vincent is also an animal lover. He likes to keep different types of fish in his aquariums. I like fish too but dare not catch them with my hands. Hence I prefer to admire the beautiful hues of colorful fish in tanks. Generally, I prefer
furry animals like dogs and cats.

I cannot tolerate to see dogs being caged or tied up to a leash in the house the whole day long. Once, there was an owner living in Watten Estate. Each
time I walked past his house, his poor dog would be leashed up. The maid told me that the owner did not like his dog to poo everywhere. Hence, the dog was chained up. He did not understand that dogs generally do not like to dirty their own place of abode.

If dog owners do not know how to toilet train or train their dogs in any other way of obedience, etc. then it is best they do not let animals suffer by keeping them.
The memory of the sad looking dog haunted me, until I had to report to the SPCA to coerce them to teach the owner how to understand his pet. I always believe that there are no lousy dogs; only lousy owners. The onus is on homo sapiens to train their four legged pets which the Creator has so beautifully made to be man's best friends.

I guess my love for animals has turned me into gradually becoming a vegetarian. But then plants are also living things. How nice if we could just survive on hot air!!!

Saturday, June 02, 2007

Yours Truly, Uniquely Singapore (8)


Communters in Singapore don't seem to stand in one straight row on escalators.

It must have been a long, long time since escalators have been used in Singapore.
Yet, strangely, until today, commuters do not seem to know how to stand on the left, so that those who are in a hurry can walk down on the right as the escalator keeps moving. It can be both frustrating as well as dangerous if someone in a hurry happens to shove down one person and like a pack of cards, the ones standing in front will also fall!

Worst are the courting couples. They have eyes only for each other, insensitive and oblivious to their surroundings. Very often they will stand side by side and keep on yacking and yacking.

For those of who who have travelled to Europe and America, you would have noticed how people would stand on the left of the escalator, so that others in a hurry could walk down or up on the right.

The Authorities should look into this and see what can be done. Must people be fined before they take heed of the necessity to stand on the left of a moving escalator? No wonder, people say that Singapore is a very fine country! Indeed, a very fine country.

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Friday, June 01, 2007

The Green, Green Grass


The tranquility of Springleaf Estate

The river looks calm, but still water runs deep!

The green, green grass of home.

The lovely home of the Koh Family

I was asked to market my clients' lovely semi detached house at Springleaf Drive, and I must admit it was my first time in this area.

It was quite a long drive from the city and I felt as if we were heading for Johore Bahru. Had a pleasant surprise when I found that the estate is really beautiful, with lots of greenery. There is a river nearby and I could see some anglers trying their luck to catch some fish. It is amazing how green Singapore is. There are still pockets of greenery all over Singapore. Kudos to the government for making Singapore such a lovely island with beautiful greenery.

The Koh family's house is really spacious and beautiful. It is amazing that it is so well kept. I pray that the right buyer will turn up to take over the house. Most important is that the new buyer will love the home as the Koh Family do. They have to sell the house because Mr. & Mrs. Koh are getting on in years and need to move to a smaller apartment.

I hope that everyone in this country will continue to play a part in helping to keep Singapore clean and green.
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