Thursday, July 31, 2008

Self Appointed Journalist!


Photo taken of someone with a bright idea of snoozing under the protection of an umbrella near the Dhoby Ghaut MRT. His trousers with white and black checkcs imply that he is a chef or cook working in a restaurant nearby.

Just after I completed my 'O' levels and Secretarial training with a shorthand speed of 100 wpm and a typing speed of 60 wpm (on a manual typewriter), I tried to apply for a job in the Eastern Sun, now, a defunct newspaper in Penang. In those days, personal recommendation was as crucial as one's qualification. It was papa's friend who recommended me to the Editor. However, unfortunately the editor, the late Mr. Chia, was not impressed with me, and I was not given the job.

Realising that there was a public forum in the Eastern Sun, I participated in the contest, and for my ten attempts at different topics, I clinched 8 first prizes and 1 second prize. Shortly after that, I left for Canada for my tertiary education. Mr. Chia did an editorial write-up about how pleased and proud he was of the standard of English prevailing in Malaysia at that time. He had written that someone asked whether the first prize winner was a middle aged lady! He replied that the writer had just completed secondary school! (Sometimes, the devil in me wondered if Mr. Chia ever regretted for not taking me in as a junior reporter!)

Sometimes I day dream about being a reporter, and how I would be the first to be at the scene of a fatal accident or a gory suicide.! How I would be at the airport to write about some celebrities. Dream! Dream! Dream! Now, armed with a digital camera which I carry with me everywhere I go, I try to snap interesting pictures. Why sleep and dream? It is better for me to be awake and make my dream a reality!

Hence, I was thrilled when my photo was selected to be published in the New Paper. "Does the New Paper pay you?" asked Charles, my practical colleague.

"I don't know. It doesn't matter to me.....not everything must be translated into $ and Cents. Some things are done out of passion eg. helping with language evaluation at toastmasters' clubs, etc.

My heart went out to the poor chef in deep slumber. It was amazing how soundly he slept despite the noise of heavy traffic at Orchard Road. He is certainly innovative and creative. I am glad that my ex-staff in Rialto could rest in the restaurant during the afternoon break instead of having to resort to sleeping outdoors. Restaurant work is tiring and demanding, and a short afternoon nap will provide refreshment and energy for work at dinner time.

Gan Chau
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Wednesday, July 30, 2008

In Memory of Kamlette, Kambobo, Kam Xiao Bai

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My beloved dogs: (From left to right) Kambobo, Kam Xiao Bai and Kamlette

In his book of Ecclesiastes, (Chap. 3 verses 1 to 8) King Solomon had written that there is a time for everything. How wise of him.!

I am always eternally grateful that I have had the opportunity to have 3 pet dogs in my life, albeit at a later part of my life when I was 35! It all started when my ACS boys rescued 6 puppies from the mangrove swamp while on a geographical expedition. I was persuaded by my students to adopt Kamlette as my pet. Even at the age of 16 and a half ( 115 and a half in dog years) when I put Kamlette to sleep because of kidney problems, Kamlette was still looking good with beautiful eyes and fur.

Kamlette did not have body odour like pugs and dogs with folded skin. In fact, as my friend, Carrie had commented, one could detect a fragrant odour of baby powder. The vet, Dr. Oh, also confirmed her unusual body odour. I guess the Creator knew He had blessed me with an unusually sensitive nose! Although Kamlette was a mongrel, she looked more like a pedigree......a golden retriever. We could detect strands of golden furs on her body! She was an extremely affectionate dog. I guess my smooth and shining facial complexion must be thanks to her constant licks of love!

Whenever I sent someone off to the airport, I would take Kamlette for a drive....her favourite! She would stick her head out of the window. Once she must have stuck her head out too much for the police officer on a bike, overtook me and turned around, gesturing with his hand for my dog to withdraw her head from the window. Anxiously, I told Kamlette to put her head in and to my surprise, she moved to the front seat and gave me some licks on the face! When I told my friends about the incident, one of them, James, said, "Your dog is trying to tell you not to worry lah; only $70 fine!"

Kambobo was my second dog. I bought him out of compassion for his owners who had to downgrade from a landed property to a rental HDB flat. Bobo was an elegant rough collie. He was a gentle giant, always letting Kamlette have her first share of everything. Unlike Kamlette, Bobo would prefer to sit down quietly whenever he went for a car ride.

Kam Xiao Bai was a Chow Chow given to me by his owner. Many people had offered to buy Xiao Bai from her, but she reckoned I would love her dog as much as she did. Whenever I walked my two dogs, I would pop by to look at Xiao Bai. I often told my friends that Xiao Bai is a d-o-g given by G-O-D!

I could go on and on about my 3 lovely dogs; will probably write a book about them later on. For now, I should not bore my readers except to say that I am glad I had gone through a season of having 3 pets in my life. Keeping dogs is a lifetime of commitment. I am glad that I had given my love and care to my pets and derived much joy and knowledge. The wonderful memories of my pets would be forever etched in my brain cells. My regular vet, Dr. Oh asked me once why my three dogs must be called Kam. "Of course, they are My dogs...therefore, surname must be KAM lah". Dr. Oh raised her eyebrows in mock exasperation of perhaps, crazy dog lovers like me.! I guess vets, though they love animals, are more down to earth people than those who merely love dogs.

Now I am contented not to keep dogs as pets because it is physically demanding. I am contented to help my neighbour, Irin, walk her dogs and sometimes volunteer to dogsit Chelsea for Shahnaz when the family go on holidays. Whenever I see dogs on the streets, I would pat them and get to know their names.

A time and season for everything. I am glad I have enjoyed keeping 3 big dogs while my legs were still running strong. Looking after my three dogs also meant digging into encyclopedias and internet articles to read more about animals. The great experience has left me ....ahem..... as a little walking encyclopedia of dogs!

Gan Chau

Monday, July 28, 2008

Why is everyone googling this article?

When I wrote my article on "If I were a Millionaire", little did I expect that this article will be heavily googled. This topic had been written as a school essay topic, and when I wrote this article, I truly did not expect anyone to be really interested in it.

I even received a favourable comment from a reader who rated it as one of the best articles she has read on the subject of "If I were a millionaire".

Hence I am reprinting this article for those who have missed it.

"Sunday, July 15, 2007


If I were a essay topic that was often given when I was a student in Secondary School.

Now 4 decades later, I am still not a millionaire, but now I think I would like to be one so that I can dish out help to the poor and needy. If I were a millionaire
I would reach out to the family of 12 who cramp themselves in a small HDB flat. I would clothe and house the men who slept on the streets of World Class Singapore. I would go the extra mile to set up an emergency request centre, so that desperate people in need of help like Huang Na's mother could be accommodated. Her daughter would not be left to fend for herself while the mother returned to China for a short trip. I would dream of all the great works of benevolence .....

How many millionaires are like me, dreaming of all the great charitable works they would perform when they had the money.? Yet, why are there people still sleeping on the streets, and tons of people on welfare, receiving $290 a month for their monthly needs? More and more Singaporeans are joining the millionaires' row as announced by the Straits Times. Yet when these people achieve their dreams, why are some still as unhappy and dissatisfied as ever? What caused the late Howard Hughs to say, "If only I could turn the clock back, I was happiest as a shoe-shine boy!"?

Talk is cheap. When I really become a millionaire, would I still be as generous as I am now, even though my giving is little, like the widow's mite? For some strange reasons, the more we have, the harder it is to part with our money! We want to save more and more, and to accumulate more and more. Probably this is the reason why Jack Neo came up with the movie, "Money, no enough."

Very few millionaires are like Warren Buffet who lives in an old house, drives himself around without body guards and whose favourite pastime is to munch on pop corns and watch television after work! He does not care for branded items nor socialising with high society. If I become a millionaire, would I end up like Warren Buffet or like the late Nina Wang?

Mm... now I think I am happy to be where I am .... living a simple life, striking a balance between work and play, and doing my little part, to help make life a little better for those in need. I am contented to have time to smell the flowers; hear the birds sing and find joy in simple things. For I come into the world with nothing; and with nothing I will go back to dust.

Posted by The Oriental Express at 7:20 PM

A Durian Treat


One of our Divisional Directors, Raymond Quah, opening up the durains.

Durians of different flavours!

As a child, I was turned off whenever I saw my family members enjoying durians. The pungency of the smell was just too much for my sensitive nose. Sometimes I would even plug pieces of tissue papers into my nostrils so that the smell could be minimised. By the time I took the O level examinations, I never had a taste of the durian.

One early morning, just after midnight, I was rudely awakened by my siblings. They had bought some durians and it was supposed to be a supper treat. Still in my somewhat sleepy state, I suddenly felt someone shoving some durians into my mouth.
I was forced to taste the fruit and to my surprise, the taste was very much better than the smell! Since then, I learnt to take durians, though in small portions. Mom and second sis love the durian the most.

I was pleasantly surprised when our Director, Mr. Chris Koh, came round the office and asked some of us to join him for durians. As the airconditioned office would be permeated with the lingering smell, the durians were eaten on the car park on the sixth floor of Park Mall.

I learnt that almost every year, Mr. Chris Koh would generously treat the staff to durians. I was lucky to be in the office that day. As agents, our time is our own, and we are free to manage our own time.

It is easy to put on weight in our company, because ever so often, there would be treats from different colleagues. However, more important than the food would be the great camaraderie amongst staff and colleagues, something which I treasure very much. This is why whenever someone from another real estate company attempts to recruit some of my colleagues and I, we would politely decline as we are very happy in Dennis Wee Group.


Saturday, July 26, 2008

There's Power in Names!

It has been a very long time. Yet I still remember this joke I had read when I was in Secondary School.

Interviewer: What's your name?

Potential employee: Watt

Interviewer: What's your name?

Potential employee: Watt

Interviewer: (getting somewhat impatient) Yes, what's your name?

Potential employee: Watt

Interviewer: Do you have hearing problems? WHAT'S YOUR NAME?

Potential employee: WATT. Michael Watt

Words, and only words I know. Names are the most condensed of words, for within a name there is so much meaning and power. Yet, people could be so careless with their choice of names for their loved ones. I remember a story narrated by a pastor over the pulpit one Sunday morning.

"My sister once adopted a little boy for she was filled with compassion for the lean, little boy. Her contractor had also brought along his son who had to help him lug some of the heavy materials.

"Ah Too, come here....why you so slow and stupid one ah?" roared the impatient father.

Then turning to my sister he said, "This son of mine is hopeless. He will be the death of me."

"Don't you send him to school?" queried my sister.

"What for. His brain is thick like a brick. He can't remember anything...even simple instructions."

"Can I adopt him? I will send him to school and see what I can do for him," said my sister. The contractor stared at her in disbelief.

When my sister brought Ah Too home, she started talking to him to find out more about him. She found out that Ah Too hated school, because his classmates were making fun of him. "Fat Piggy! Tua Pooi Too!" they would jeer at him.

My sister told Ah Too that she would change his name to Peter. Peter means "Rock", and like the faithful and tough disciple of Jesus, Ah Too with his new name of Peter would also be tough and formidable like a rock. Ah Too liked his new name and soon began to move around with greater confidence. Today, he is a successful accountant in a multi-national company."

Amazing how parents who took 9 months to bring forth a child into the world would only take minutes to decide a name for the child. I did not know whether I was amused or shocked when I came across this article in the news.

Thu Jul 24, 5:41 AM ET

WELLINGTON, New Zealand - A family court judge in New Zealand has had enough with parents giving their children bizarre names here, and did something about it.


Just ask Talula Does The Hula From Hawaii. He had her renamed.

Judge Rob Murfitt made the 9-year-old girl a ward of the court so that her name could be changed, he said in a ruling made public Thursday. The girl was involved in a custody battle, he said.

The new name was not made public to protect the girl's privacy.

"The court is profoundly concerned about the very poor judgment which this child's parents have shown in choosing this name," he wrote. "It makes a fool of the child and sets her up with a social disability and handicap, unnecessarily."

The girl had been so embarrassed at the name that she had never told her closest friends what it was. She told people to call her "K" instead, the girl's lawyer, Colleen MacLeod, told the court.

In his ruling, Murfitt cited a list of the unfortunate names.

Registration officials blocked some names, including Fish and Chips, Yeah Detroit, Keenan Got Lucy and Sex Fruit, he said. But others were allowed, including Number 16 Bus Shelter "and tragically, Violence," he said.

New Zealand law does not allow names that would cause offense to a reasonable person, among other conditions, said Brian Clarke, the registrar general of Births, Deaths and Marriages.

Clarke said officials usually talked to parents who proposed unusual names to convince them about the potential for embarrassment."

I wonder if the above could be worse than the name given to a girl in Malaysia. My eldest sister shared with me this true incident.

When a young lady was caught shoplifting, the police officer asked her for her name.
With head bent, she mumbled her name. Being unable to hear, the officer again asked for her name. The young lady bent her head and tried to restrain her tears. Later she asked for a piece of paper and wrote, "Cheebai". (Hokkien dialect for vagina). Though somewhat taken aback by the unusual name, the officer decided that she should do something for the poor lady. She asked the court to change her name.

The young lady shared that when her mother gave birth to her, there was much suffering and pain. In her anger with the tough birth, her mother decided to name the baby "Cheebai" as a stark remembrance of her agony at childbirth.

Can you imagine the embarrassment and humiliation this child had gone through all those years? I wonder why not one of the teachers had taken the trouble to do something to alter her name?

On the front page of the New Paper, readers could see Mark Lee, the actor, beaming with pride with his new born daughter. He had chosen a name which was rejected by his wife and relatives. He wanted to call his daughter, "Love Lee".

Can you imagine a potential scenario in future?

"What's your name?"

"Love Lee."

"Yes, what's your name?"

"Love Lee."

"You mean it's a lovely idea. Great. What's your name then?"

"Love Lee."

My dear parents. Please, please be creative and select lovely and meaningful names for your off springs. There's power in the spoken words, and as a man is named, so will he be!

Gan Chau

Friday, July 25, 2008

If I Were a Man ......

Just as I thought I had finally acclimatized myself to the warm weather here after a quarter of a century, the truth just dawned upon me! Ever so often I have strange stares from commuters in the train, especially when I could not get my handkerchief on time to wipe off the rivulets of perspiration on my face! I would be all warm and flustered; my rosy cheeks gleaming and glowing with all the moisture that would make brand names like Elizabeth Arden and SK II redundant!

Just the other day, a lady commuter stared at me and after a while she asked, "What cosmetics do you use for your face?

"Oh! Saliva. Just let the dog lick your face, and it will surely be smooth and shining!", I said, with a straight face. I could see another two passengers trying to cup their mouth as they tried to stifle their laughter.

Oh! How I wish I were a man in Singapore, for I could go around topless with a bald head. I would be helping to save the earth, needing so few garments....the silkworms would be spared from having to weave more silk; cotton could continue to grow in abundance, etc. Why must ladies sport long hair to create that Barbie-doll look-a-like in this hot, humid weather? Why must some ladies wear scarves for the sake of looking attractive? If you were a man, you could sit with your legs apart for more ventilation. You would not appear to be crude or impolite.... but macho!

Having just watched the TV serial on Channel U, "The Perfect Cut" I wonder why most of the patients are women who need breast implants, botox injection, double eyelid surgery, etc. etc. Beauty is more than skin deep, and why can't ladies be just accepted for their inner beauty and strength?

My professor, Dr. Clive S. has just sent me an article which I thought is quite humorous. I hope my readers will enjoy it too. Hopefully, at the end of this article, my readers would empathise with my thoughts, "If I were a man...."

Hang on a second.....I should thank God for being what I am and enjoy everything that life has to offer, humidity or no humidity. Most importantly, to look at everything positively, and be grateful and contented. While I detest going out in this humid weather, nevertheless I enjoy working at home in lose, baggy clothings. Which job can allow you to wear pyjamas and work in the comfort of your home? As someone said, "I complain I have no shoes, until I saw someone with no feet."



* If Laura, Kate and Sarah go out for lunch, they will call each other
Laura, Kate and Sarah.
* If Mike, Dave and John go out, they will affectionately refer to
each other as Fat Boy, Godzilla and Four-eyes.


* When the bill arrives, Mike, Dave and John will each throw in $20,
even though it's only for $32.50. None of them will have anything smaller
and none will actually admit they want change back.
* When the girls get their bill, out come the pocket calculators.


* A man will pay $2 for a $1 item he needs.
* A woman will pay $1 for a $2 item that she doesn't need but it's on


* A man has six items in his bathroom: toothbrush and toothpaste,
shaving cream, razor, a bar of soap, and a towel .
* The average number of items in the typical woman's bathroom is 337.
A man would not be able to identify more than 20 of these items.


* A woman has the last word in any argument.
* Anything a man says after that is the beginning of a new argument.


* A woman worries about the future until she gets a husband.
* A man never worries about the future until he gets a wife.


* A successful man is one who makes more money than his wife can
* A successful woman is one who can find such a man.


* A woman marries a man expecting he will change, but he doesn't.
* A man marries a woman expecting that she won't change, but she does.


* A woman will dress up to go shopping, water the plants, empty the
trash, answer the phone, read a book, and get the mail.
* A man will dress up for weddings and funerals.


* Men wake up as good-looking as they went to bed.
* Women somehow deteriorate during the night.


* Ah, children. A woman knows all about her children. She knows about
dentist appointments and romances, best friends, favorite foods, secret
fears and hopes and dreams.
* A man is vaguely aware of some short people living in the house.

A married man should forget his mistakes. There's no use in two people
remembering the same thing!

SO, send this to the women who have a sense of humor and who can handle it
... and to the men who will enjoy reading it.

Dennis Wee Group Toastmasters' Club


The installation of the new exco. From left to right:
Yours truly as Vice President (Education) (2), Lily Liew as Vice President (Membership), Peter Tay as Secretary, Michael Chu as Treasurer, Alfred Teo as Sergeant-At-Arms, and Walter Lee as President.

Peter, ever ready to serve as Secretary of the club

Ng Cher Khim, Champion speaker in the District 80 Humorous Speech Contest, 2006

Michael Chu, best prepared speech winner at the chapter meeting. Michael has improved tremendously since his maiden speech at the last chapter meeting! Well done!

I am excited about this new term. Walter Lee has been elected president of the club, and we hope the club will once again be a President's Distinguished Club at the end of the term.

Running a club is like running a company. The success of the club is dependent on the cooperation of everyone concerned.

During our recent installation of club officers, , Zafar from Whampoa Toastmasters' Club graciously helped to instal the new exco. We also had Ng Cher Khim sharing with us some tips on humour. The members were really inspired to be able to watch a video clip of his prize winning speech at the District 80 Humorous Speech and Evaluation Contests in Hong Kong.

Bernard Gan from Queenstown Toastmasters' Club was dynamic and his loud, booming voice was sufficient to keep everyone wide awake. His sense of humour also enhanced the laughter of the members.

We had a guest speaker, Heru from the Cairnhill Toastmasters' Club. There was much laughter during the Table Topics Session led by Zafar, and speakers touched on the latest happenings that had taken place in Singapore. Peter Tay won the best speaker in the Table Topics Session while Ng Cher Khim was the best evaluator for his evaluation of Heru's Advanced Project 1.

Joanne Lai from NUS Toastmasters' Club gave much enlightenment in her languaage evaluation. As usual, with every meeting, I would always learn something new.

Join a toastmasters' club nearest to you! Anyone?

Gan Chau

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Thursday, July 24, 2008

Standing in the Heat!


The Group of Entreprenuers called "Jaguar".

Their glowing competitors just next door!

Counting the day's collection!

"We're rich!" cried Jimmy Cheng.

Our company, Dennis Wee Group, is indeed a fun company. The company conducts "Standing in the Heat" program for new recruits. The last two days would be the most challenging and exciting. The class would be required to set up stores. Creativity and entrepreneurship would be needed, and the group with the most sales collection would be the winner.

Agents who are not in the class would be given money to patronise the stores. It was interesting to see how negotiations were being carried out, as everyone started to haggle over the price.

How I envy the new recruits. When I first started real estate work, I joined a small real estate company which did not provide much training. Later another company, Aim Pte. Ltd. invited me join them. It was attractive offer for the company would only deduct $30 from every commission cheque received. However, agents were expected to work on their own. It was a trial and error learning. We either swam or sunk. Fortunately for me, I managed to swim through the ocean of hardship, heartaches and hope. It was due to God's blessings coupled with my determination and diligence that I managed to sell.

If I had known of the wonderful training given by Dr. Dennis Wee and his team, I would have chosen to join and receive proper training. Nevertheless, I am also grateful to go through the school of hard knocks, because the lessons learnt would be forever etched in my memory!

I would encouage those who wish to become agents to join our company. You will never realise your potential until you try! I believe that many of us have hidden potential, waiting to be discovered.

Gan Chau

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Sweet Hospitality


What an international setting with guests from all over the world.

The lovely Singam family

When I was studying in Canada as a foreign student, I was often invited to the homes of Canadian families. Every week, some foreign students and I would be "booked" by the church members or our professors to have meals in their homes. I enjoyed such great hospitality.

Since I came to Singapore in 1983, I had to make adjustments. Probably, life here is so much more hectic, and Singaporeans are not in the habit of inviting their guests home for dinner. When they entertain, most families would dine out. Hence it is always very special for me when people invite me to their homes. Even the simplest of meals would taste so wonderful, because they are cooked with love.

I always enjoy visiting Pastor Singam's home. Their four room flat in Yishun is cosy and reminds me of a warm home with some Western ambiance. The Victorian chairs that were given to them by a friend enhance the simple elegance of their lovely home. Pastor Singam's wife, Serene, is Chinese. Hence their children are very good looking.

Serene is a very good cook. It is amazing how the lovely couple still find time to entertain guests despite their busy schedules. Pastor Singam makes good coffee.

The family love music, and I enjoy playing the piano while everyone sings. Inviting guests home is so much more entertaining than dining at the restaurant.

I am still reeling from the wonderful testimony that Pastor Singam recently shared about his accident in Indonesia. Just as he was handing over an object to someone over the fence, the platform on which he stood gave way, causing his right arm to be pierced through by an iron bar which narrowly missed a main artery. Pastor Singam pulled out the bar, and clasped onto the wound as if to prevent the blood from oozing out. He was rushed to the nearest hospital which as a 3 hour drive. Along the way, the vehicle slowed down because of a funeral procession, and Pastor Singam heard the devil whispering, "You will be the next!" He prayed against the spirit and claimed God's healing and protection. The doctor put in a gauze and sewed up the wound.! The following day, Pastor's arm began to swell badly and he had to cut short his travel to take a flight back to Singapore. His doctor in Singapore was shocked by all that had taken place. Miraculously, Pastor Singam's arm was healed and if not for God's protection and blessings, he might have become a one armed swordsman!

I am inspired by the life and testimonies of Pastor Singam, a warrior for God. He works by faith and often goes on mission trips to Indonesia, Philippines and Vietnam. Often, he would hike up for hours to reach villages to share the Gospel. At times, the villagers and him would take the boat via rivers infested with crocodiles! May God bless Pastor Singam and family.

Gan Chau

Stress Management

My friend from Kuching, Sarawak, Lynn Lee, sent me this interesting article which I would like to share with readers.

A lecturer, when explaining stress management to an audience, raised a glass of water and asked,
'how heavy is this glass of water? '
called out ranged from 8oz. to 20oz.

The lecturer replied,

'The absolute weight doesn't matter.

It depends on how long you try to hold it.

'If I hold it for a minute, that's not a problem.

If I hold it for an hour,

I'll have an ache in my right arm.

If I hold it for a day,

you'll have to call an ambulance.

'In each case, it's the same weight,

but the longer I hold it, the heavier it becomes. '

He continued,

'And that's the way it is with stress management.

If we carry our burdens all the time,

sooner or later,

as the burden becomes increasingly heavy,

we won't be able to carry on. '

'As with the glass of water,

you have to put it down for a while and rest before holding

it again.

When we're refreshed, we can carry on with the burden. '

'So, before you return home tonight,

put the burden of work down.

Don't carry it home.

You can pick it up tomorrow.

Whatever burdens you're carrying now,

let them down for a moment if you can. '

'Relax; pick them up later after you've rested.

Life is short.

Enjoy it!

And then he shared some ways of dealing with the burdens of life:

* Accept that some days you're the pigeon, and some days you're the statue.

* Always keep your words soft and sweet, just in case you have to eat them.

* Always read stuff that will make you look good if you die in the middle of it.

* Drive carefully. It's not only cars that can be recalled by their Maker.

* If you can't be kind, at least have the decency to be vague.

* If you lend someone $20 and never see that person again, it was probably worth it.

* It may be that your sole purpose in life is simply to serve as a warning to others.

* Never buy a car you can't push.

* Never put both feet in your mouth at the same time, because then you won't have a leg to stand on.

* Nobody cares if you can't dance well. Just get up and dance.

* Since it's the early worm that gets eaten by the bird, sleep late.

* The second mouse gets the cheese.

* When every thing's coming your way, you're in the wrong lane.

* Birthdays are good for you. The more you have, the longer you live.

* You may be only one person in the world, but you may also be the world to one person.

* Some mistakes are too much fun to only make once

* We could learn a lot from crayons. Some are sharp, some are pretty and some are dull, Some have weird names , and all are different colors, but they all have to live in the same box.

' A truly happy person is one who can enjoy the scenery on a detour.

Have an awesome day and know that someone has thought about you today. . . . . . . .

I just did!

Gan Chau

Sunday, July 20, 2008

The Beauty of Nature


The lovely roses in a beautiful floral display in Fullerton Hotel

God's "awesome painting" of the sunset, as seen from the window of my apartment

The clear, blue skies above the lovely Batu Feringghi Beach in Penang

The soothing greenery around Alexandra Hospital in Singapore

Throughout my life, I am seldom grieved or depressed. I can count those few times when sadness got the better of me. During such moments of sadness,I would lose my appetite and be crippled both mentally and physically. I could not function actively as usual. During such moments, I would look at the flowers or at nature. The innate beauty of nature would lift my spirit and my troubled and negative feelings would gradually fade away.

I love the setting of the sun, especially after a hard day's work. As the sun gradually goes to sleep, it is like making that one final attempt at a grand finale in a concert! Suddenly the sky becomes ablaze with hues of gold and yellow! As the applause dies down, so does the performer as she bows graciously and goes backstage. Hence, when one sees a capitavating sunset, one must be quick with the camera!

I still remember the gorgeous sunset that I saw almost every evening during my one month stay in Maui, one of the popular Hawaiin islands. My friend had brought me to Maui and I went along to help babysit her little son, Normi. I was having acute problem with my right ear, and the specialist had recommended that I rest in a warmer place. Hence, when Nicky invited me to Maui, I took the opportunity.

The picture of the glorious sunset was recently taken when I came back from the office at about 6.34p.m. Considering my lack of photographic skills, I am quite pleased with the lovely photo.

As I look at the sunset, I am reminded to be at peace with everyone. If I were angry with anyone or vice versa, all ill feelings must go down with the sunset, and like the rising of the sun and the going down, let the Lord's name be praised! Hence, we can always look forward to the equally beautiful sunrise the next morning!

Gan Chau

Saturday, July 19, 2008

My Heroine and Inspiration

"Everything has its wonders, even darkness and silence, and I learn, whatever state I may be in, therein to be content."

Profound words from a great lady who was born blind and deaf. For many of us who are born with sight and hearing, we may even fail to see the golden splendour of autumn or to hear the wonderful chirping of the birds.

Only recently, I have been pondering over the question, "If I have to choose to be blind or deaf, what would I choose?" I also posed the question to many of my friends. Some were somewhat taken aback, because they had never really pondered over the question. Seeing and hearing everyday is as perfunctory as having lunch at the stipulated hour.

"No, I would not want to lose any", said Alex adamantly.

"It really depends on whether the person is more visual or more aural...." suggested Jean.

"Ah, you've not quite answered my have to make a choice, my dear,"
I coaxed.

"I guess, if I were deaf, it would also imply that I would be dumb.....a double whammy! Phew....I think I would prefer to have my eyes," concluded Jean.

As for me, I love flowers, animals and nature. But then I love music too. Good music can move me to tears.

"Oh! Dear God. Please keep my ears and eyes intact. If I had to lose any of them, please give me the same courage and contentment as Hellen Keller had".

Gan Chau

Friday, July 18, 2008

Visit to the URA Centre


My wonderful colleagues at Dennis Wee Group

One of the awesome exhibits in the URA Centre

Every Tuesday morning, we have our NUC meeting at our head office at Park Mall. NUC stands for networking, updating and case studies. Agents would meet to discuss the latest in market trends. We learn from each other. The NUC is led by Dr. Dennis Wee's capable director, Mr. Chris Koh. The first Tuesday of the month will be a potluck breakfast. Many of my colleagues are great cooks and we have such a warm time of fellowship and sharing of food. At most times, our generous Mr. Chris Koh would buy breakfast for everyone, including the administrative staff. Sometimes someone would volunteer to cook for the whole meeting or give everyone a treat.

Sometimes we would visit site offices of new projects. At one time, we decided to visit the URA Centre to see and learn about the latest development and changes that have taken place. URA means Urban Renewal Authorities, and it located at Maxwell Road.

It was a great visit. Many of us left, feeling that we had spent a worthwhile time. It makes me more appreciative of what the authorities have done to ensure that our city is well organised. As Singapore is a small island, we have to maximise all the available land we can utilise. I always feel proud when my friends from overseas comment how well planned Singapore is. I am looking forward to taking the new MRT line to Bukit Timah when it is completed. I remember telling my second brother Kee Seng that I am happy to call Singapore home as I can zip around everywhere with great convenience. I would no longer feel comfortable living in my hometown, Penang, as I would always have to depend on someone to drive me around.

Even when my friends in Singapore volunteer to give me a ride in their cars, I often turn them down, especially when it is not convenient. Unless, they pass by my destination would I accept their kind offer. Public transport in Singapore is so efficient and convenient. As a real estate agent who does not drive, I often arrive earlier than my clients. Papa had trained his children to be punctual. My punctuality is enhanced because of the excellent infra structure in Singapore! I love my "BMW No. 11". :-)

Gan Chau

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Tuesday, July 15, 2008

A Page From Tomorrow

Sometimes I like to look at the "Referral" in my Sitemeter to see who has been reading my blog. I was surprised when someone had found my blog through my comments posted in I had responded on the issue of a teacher calling a student "idiot". If my readers have the time and would like to know what are the latest issues concerning Singapore, they can log in at the above website or at It is fun to exchange viewpoints with other fellow readers.

September 05, 2006
Damned If You Teach, Damned If You Don't
» teaching
singaporeteach said:

The teacher can be totally destroyed. I am not talking about his career or performance bonus. His belief system would be shaken. He would go through an overhaul of his belief system which he has been brought up in. In his mind, teachers could be almighty in the class. Now, he has to take it that teachers are in vulnerable positions.

Recommended by cowboycaleb: "
In today's The New Paper, a teacher came into spotlight for writing the word "idiot" against a student's wrong answer. Of course as a parent, the child's mother kicked a fuss. She has the right. She complained to the principal. The principal has counselled the teacher. The teacher has apologised to the child and wanted to apologise to the parent. A session was arranged to let both parties meet up. However, the mother was too busy to turn up. The case has been referred to MOE by the mother. Obviously, the mother has raised the issue to the press too.
What would be the outcome/s?"


Submitted by cowboycaleb on September 05//12:54pm and published by jseng, joy :: add new comment | 898 reads | trackback

Comments 17
during my young days... any bad comment from teacher/s shall nvr be known to my parent... else i will get another canning from my parent...
now ... kids parent storm to school to ask for apology... changing society...

what teacher need is not higher pay... but some professionals to help them to deal with the emotion of school kids and their they can concentrate on their teaching....
every "problematic" kid must be examine by professional children psychologist and handled professionally... and not left it to the poor teacher ... who are ill-equipped to deal with them....

250 millions $$ gone to waste again... and not tackling the root of the issues..

Posted by Anonymous Monkey* on 5 September, 2006 - 1:26pm

teaching has always been a one-directional job. giving and giving all the while, not getting anything in return. want to be a responsible disciplinarian, get scolded by parents for going overboard; bo chup alittle, and the school will get you removed. all boils down to the students' and parents' lack of communication and knowledge of a teacher's daily work.


Posted by Lance* on 5 September, 2006 - 6:22pm

I'd say let those protective parents sacrifice their own time and put in the much needed efforts to discipline their precious darlings. See if they can do a better job. Let them also declare that they have never lost their cool and spoken anything abusive to anyone before listening to their whining.

Posted by Anonymous** on 5 September, 2006 - 8:21pm

MOE almost always sides with the parents, so parents reciprocate by complaining. It's a fantastic system!

Posted by melvinyeo* on 5 September, 2006 - 9:11pm

It's not a matter of taking sides. It's a matter of everyone being on the same side, which isn't the case.

That is the loophole that many recalcitrant and pampered brats have exploited.

Posted by Anonymous** on 5 September, 2006 - 11:23pm

I dont think there is a need to get personal with the offensive word 'idiot' in the first place. If the teacher has problem with the student, talk directly and not going for personal attacks. And as for the mother, she herself gets personal too.

In the end, the first problem dont get solved but in turn brings up another one.

It is a challenging job to be a teacher, it requires all parties to get the job done... to educate the kids. The parents will need to play a bigger role working together with the teachers and not expecting the teacher to do their jobs.

Posted by paddytan on 5 September, 2006 - 9:23pm

Words... words.... we use words so carelessly. We scold people with words like "idiot, go and die, you're mad, etc." without realising that words are powerful for they affect listeners and recipients emotionally and spiritually. Some people think an idiot is a stupid person. An idiot is actually a feeble minded person having a mental age not exceeding three years and requiring complete custodial care.

Please do not misunderstand me. I am neutral.... but as a person who is fond of languages, it is very important for all of us to be watchful of our speech at all times. It is very hurting to call a child an idiot just because he is naughty or makes mistakes.
We should use positive words to encourage one another. Instead of telling a child he is fat and clumsy, why not say, if he could exercise more and cut down on fast food, he would look as trim and as strong as his daddy. As a man thinks, so will he be.

I was extremely poor in mathematics and I had never passed my Maths tests throughout Sec. One to Three. In Sec. Four, my maths teacher was the most excellent.... extremely patient and someone who explained with compassion and clarity. "There, see, you could solve the equation!", she would encourage. Due to this teacher, I managed to pass my mathematics papers for the first time!!

Parents who are quick to point a finger should also watch out for the four fingers pointing back at them. Sad to say, some parents are so busy earning $$$, they leave everything to the teachers and the school.

As Paddy Tan had rightly said, "It requires all parties to get the job done... to educate the kids."

Albert Einstein said, "It is essential that the student acquires an understanding of and a feeling for values. He must acquire a vivid sense of the beautiful and the morally good. Otherwise he, with specialized knowledge, more closely resembles a well-trained dog than a harmoniously developed person."

John F. Kennedy effectively summarised it when he said, "Our progress as a nation can be no swifter than our progress in education".

Posted by Ganchau on 5 September, 2006 - 10:30pm

That's the root of the problem. I do not think that our society and educational system encourages all parties to work together for the good of the students. It is more likely for stakeholders to push the responsibilities to each other while guarding their own interests.

Parents expect the school to bring up their children while they pursue their careers. School management expect teachers to yield tangible results to bring honor to the school. Teachers pressure themselves to "perform" in order to be promoted. As a result, some lost sight of why they were there in the first place. Who really cares about the students?

Of course, it does not apply across the board. There are good parents, teachers and school leaders. But the problem is serious enough to warrant attention. As long as that problem is not solved, I doubt we will have any long-term solution. Higher salaries and perks alone will not solve the problem either. In fact, it may worsen the situation.

Ganchau, what you have described is the utopia I wish we were living in.

Posted by Anonymous** on 5 September, 2006 - 11:16pm

Dear Anonymous, I had once asked papa whether there was really an utopia on earth. My late father replied, "Child, an utopia can only be created in your head. Happiness is all in your mind. You can choose to be happy and contented with simple things in life. If you depend on others... the government, teachers, friends, etc. to make you happy.... susah lah! A Nepali sleeping on the mud floor of his little house could be happier than a millionaire sleeping on the mattress of his mansion."

When I first started teaching English and Literature in a top school, some students and even my HOD were unhappy with my teaching and marking style!! I told myself I would never teach in the traditional way! English and Literature for life.... not just for passing the O levels. After one and a half years, my first batch of O level students produced good results.... only then did my HOD relent. English for thinking creatively; English for problem solving. As a man thinks, so will he be. So often people like to say, "I am only joking lah!" Yet, out of the mouth, speaks forth what is in the heart.

I recently met an ex-student whom I could not quite recognize for she has grown into a beautiful young lady. She shared with me how her father became a bankrupt; how she struggled with college. The family, despite the crisis, bonded even more closely together. She shared how she wanted to give up, but remembering David, in "I am David" a book she studied in Sec. 2 Literature, gave her courage. She also remembered some of the stories I shared with them. The world is a stage, and she realised, that as an actress, she must play her part, and play it well. It is up to her to create her own "utopia".

Ok. I better stop here before readers find me too "loh soh" - long-winded lah. :-)

Posted by Ganchau on 6 September, 2006 - 8:04am

I am sure we all have a personal utopia in our own minds. But we are not alone in this world. One man's utopia maybe another man's junkyard. And when each stakeholder in the education system sees only his/her own utopia, it's difficult to work for the common good.

The utopia I am referring to is a common shared vision where everyone is willing to sacrifice a part of his own utopia and contribute to a larger community for the sake of its beneficiaries.

Tell me, is that possible?

Posted by Anonymous** on 6 September, 2006 - 3:21pm

Its possible under a monarchy where one man's utopia is imposed upon the population. But I suspect that few of us really want that day to come anytime soon
`We must encourage those who earn less than $200 per month and cannot afford to nurture and educate many children never to have more than two`

Posted by visceral on 7 September, 2006 - 4:28pm

How is it that a parent can scold the child "idiot" but not the teacher?

Posted by lelearn* on 7 September, 2006 - 2:55am

Believe me, some students even scold their parents in the presence of the teacher.

Posted by Anonymous** on 7 September, 2006 - 3:04pm

Not all parents scold their child with the word "idiot". The parents in question obviously didn't. Which is probably why they were so indignant.

Anyone cares to respond to the "Utopia" that Annonymous has in mind? I guess it is not possible or communism would have thrived; parents and children would not fight; siblings would not quibble over inheritance; colleagues would not play politics in the office; nation would not war against nation and Jesus would not have to die on the Cross, etc. etc.

Hence, I am contented with the "Utopia" in my little mind. "God, give me the grace and peace to accept the things I cannot change; and courage to change the things I can". :-)

Posted by Ganchau on 7 September, 2006 - 11:47am

Perhaps that's why it's called utopia.

Posted by Anonymous** on 7 September, 2006 - 3:12pm

I don't agree with what the teacher has done but he has already swallowed his pride and apologized. I think the parent is unforgiving and going too far unless it has been established that the child had been unduly victimised.

Posted by Anonymous** on 7 September, 2006 - 3:23pm

You have spoken it well.
After reading your few comments, I am impressed by your broad-minded views and the insights you have. I can also see that you are indeed a language person and you are powerful in words too.
As for me, I'm a Mathematics person. I like maths and never fail my maths before.
Whereas my English was only having average grades.
Therefore, I only teach Maths and Science.
Similarly, I don't believe in using insulting words either purposely or out of anger or frustration. I believe everyone can do well in their school work. I believe as long as you are willing to work hard, things will turn out fine.
At the same time, the student will need lots of encouragement and support from the adults around him/her and not criticism or belittling.

Posted by wisdom* on 19 November, 2006 - 1:52am

The Erhu Busker


Every time I go to my office, I would see an elderly gentleman busking with his erhu. He usually parks his paraphernalia along the patch of grass by the passageway between the Dhoby Ghaut MRT Station and Park Mall.

I love the erhu. The first time, I strained my ears to hear the tune that he was playing. To my surprise, I realised that the song was mostly out of tune. The erhu is an instrument that often fills listeners with poignancy. It is jarring to the ears when it is out of tune.

Despite that I would put in some coins when I pass by the busker. One day, I decided to greet him and to find out his name. He told me his surname is Liu. Ever since he lost his job, he had found it difficult to find a new job. Hence, his idea of busking. I requested Mr. Liu to play a popular Hokkien tune, "Bang Soon Hong". I sang along with him, in a subtle way to guide him. One of my colleagues passed by, and mischievously asked me if I were busking. Later I sang some more songs by the late Teresa Teng.

Gradually, Mr. Liu improved. For someone who has taught himself to play by ear, Mr. Liu is talented. He only needs a little guidance and encouragement. I am happy for him that now he can play his erhu with more feelings and enjoyment.

Gan Chau

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Eternal Road Payments


ERP gantries are becoming as common as trees in Singapore!


What is the man on the bicycle thinking? "Hee hee, am enjoying my freedom on two wheels!"

"What is ERP?" asked James Dunlap, my university buddy from Canada, who is now practising law in Hong Kong. Since the time he asked me the question, many more ERP gantries have been erected all over the island.!

We are really an "instant" country. From instant noodles, to instant marriage, and now to instant ERP which has a few nicknames - Every Road Pays, Eagle-eyed Road Payments, or I think quite appropriately, Eternal Road Payments, just to name a few. With the increase in petrol and now in ERP charges, many drivers have started to leave their cars to bask in the comfort of their homes or paid car park lots. Hence it is not surprising that the MRT and buses have become jam packed overnight. Now it has given me even more motivation to lose weight, so that commuters will not be intimidated by my bulk, and I can squeeze into the train.!

My friends and colleagues now compliment me for my foresight. I have always wanted to live in the city so as to cut down on travelling time as well as expenses. Hence a flat that is within my budget would be one that is located in Little India, which is just one MRT stop away from my office at Park Mall in Dhoby Ghaut. During the evenings, if I happen to be in the office, I would prefer to walk back than to take the bus or train. It is easier for me to breathe in the open air than to suffocate in a congested bus or train.! Since most of the units that I am marketing are quite close to where I live, I often walk to my clients' properties. Now walking a distance for about 45 minutes is quite a common habit for me.

As I was walking by the ERP gantry located at the junction of Orchard Road and Handy Road, I smiled. My "BMW 11" fears no increase in charges! I wonder how drivers feel as they go through the ERP gantries.? If I were to drive a car, I would feel as if I were going through a guillotine! Each time my cash card clicks, I would feel as if my head has been decapitated!

How I wish the authorities would be a little more patient. Warn motorists of a potential further increase. Hence those who are planning to buy cars may reconsider doing so. The authorities should have got ready their bigger fleet of buses and increase the length of the trains so that more people could be picked up on every trip.

Eldest sister Lee Lee laughed when I told her about my BMW. She said with an unmistakable cheer in her voice, 'Choo, your petrol is the oil in the body. No wonder you have lost 10 kgs. Good for you! Keep driving!

Gan Chau

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Monday, July 14, 2008

Great Architectural Design


Lovely Lotus Flower in Bloom in the Legend

Bright purple bougainvilleas - my favourite colour

The pool for socialising - one of the three pools in the condo

A tree with bright blooming flowers near the pool

My clients, Peter Lim and his family decided to upgrade to a condominium nearby. Hence they asked me to help market their private apartment at J.C. Court which is located at Joo Chiat Place. One evening, Peter's wife, Jin Lu, decided to show me the condominium which they are moving into.

The Legend is painted in a subdued yellowish brown, with dark brown for some parts, giving it a cosy ambience. I was surprised that there are 3 swimming pools in the condomium with slightly over 100 units. The architects have cleverly made full use of the space. The lap pool is located between two blocks. It is a full lap but the width is wide enough for two to three swimmers at any one time. The social pool is for those who want to relax and chit chat even as they enjoy the cool water. Hence there are a few jacuzzis near the social pool. The Bar-B-Q pits and poolside party area are also by the social pool. There is a special pool for children. Jin and I walked around the condominium and were surprised to find lovely flowers in full bloom. There is even an open air badminton court near the Club House. The Balinese design of the condo gives it a homely ambience. I told my client that I like her choice very much.

I feel happy for my clients for they will be able to enjoy the facilities in their new home. Their two sons, Joel and Jaren can have more opportunites to improve their swimming in the lap pool.

It is interesting to note that most people tend to move around within their own vicinity. Those who live in the East will move around the East, while those who are used to the West, will also tend to buy properties nearby.

May God bless Peter and his lovely family. Money can always buy us a house, but not a home.

Gan Chau

Saturday, July 12, 2008

My 766th Article!

It takes discipline to write. One can always give excuses of not having the time, or having a mental block. Yet, as I have often told my students in the past, all we need to do is to sit down, and out will gradually flow our creative juices! It works! Try it!

I am beginning to enjoy some Channel 8 and U programmes. Of late, I notice that the quality of the plot in the serials has improved. The acting of some of the veteran actors and actresses has become more natural. I also realise that Media Corps try to produce serials that are relevant to life in Singapore, eg. La Femme and The Perfect Cut. La Femme highlights on the family and social relationship between friends and colleagues. Viewers will learn more about plastic surgery in The Perfect Cut.

My tenants, Ashok and Jasmin, are now also beginning to enjoy the programs. They read the English subtitles as their mother tongue is Hindi. I told Jasmin yesterday evening that I hope one day, I will learn how to write scripts for television production.

Of late, I have been presenting 15 minute speeches on selected topics to share with toastmasters' clubs. This afternoon, I will be at Hongkah North Toastmasters' Club to share on "The Art of Communication". Our weekly Saturday morning speechcraft will resume on the 28th of this month and I am really looking forward to it.

Hence it is difficult for me to comprehend how some people could say that life is boring in Singapore. There is always something for everyone to do. It is not so much of where we live, but how we make the most of our situation.

Gan Chau

Sunday, July 06, 2008

Cute, Lovable Pandas!

My ex-lecturer at the Institute of Education, Dr. Clive S., an animal lover, have sent me pictures of the cute giant pandas. They are so well taken that I would like to share with my readers. Don't the pandas look winsome?

I have always longed to hug a panda bear. It is for this reason that in October, 2007, I had actually applied to teach English in Chengdu for a year. I might volunteer to help in the Panda Reserve. However, I thought I might delay my trip for a little while as there were many unfinished tasks in Singapore. I was extremely worried when I heard about the recent earthquake in Chengdu. It was heroic of the staff to risk their lives to save the panda cubs. Each cub weighs about 20kg!

It is interesting that pandas look so cute. They look like gentlemen in white shirts and black coats with dark sun glasses! Our creator is so awesome and creative. Whenever I look at the lovely pictures of these pandas, I will smile and it makes me happy. What a beautiful world we live in.! Let us all play a part in helping to conserve the earth so that none of the lovely creatures will ever become extinct.!

Gan Chau

Saturday, July 05, 2008

Our Foreign Talents


From left to right: Jasmin Patel, Anu Gupta, Avinesh Gupta and Ashok Kumar

I had come to Singapore on vacation after graduation from the University of Alberta. Brother Kee Yong was then living in Singapore, and I wanted to spend some time with him and family. At the same time, I had applied for a managerial post in a cleaning company. However at that time, Canada had quite a high unemployment, and the Canadian Authorities wanted me to wait for 6 months....unless no one took up the position, I could have the job. My employer, Mrs. Anne Cooper was confident I would get the job as it was difficult for her to find someone who who could speak English, French, Mandarin and Hokkien. She had a few Chinese and Vietnamese cleaners working for her.

Being the restless type, I found it boring not to be gainfully employed. Hence I decided to teach in the Regional English Language Centre, and also applied to join the then Institute of Education. Since then I have been "stuck" in Singapore for the past 25 years! As a civil servant, I was granted Singapore Citizenship when I started teaching in my first year. I enjoyed teaching and was quite creative and innovative in my teaching techniques. Due to chronic problems with my throat, I decided to quit teaching and try something different - restaurant work and real estate. Hence, once upon a time, I could also be considered "a foreign talent".

Today, more and more foreign talents are coming into Singapore and making great contributions to our little nation. I am glad to have met many of them in a more personal way, when some of them became my tenants. All these 26 years, I have never occupied a whole flat. I enjoying renting out the remaining rooms to tenants, and when the rooms were not occupied, to open my doors to visiting missionaries and pastors. I believe that it is good stewardship for us to make the most of all that we have been blessed with.

Recently I decided to rent out a room on a short term basis, so that I could have more options in changing plans. A computer company rented the room for their staff, Ashok Kumar. Since then, his good friend, Jasmin Patel, has joined him temporarily before they move again, this time, taking a whole flat as Ashok's family will be joining him. Their colleague, Avinesh has also recently joined the company. As my tenants want Avinesh and his wife to live near them, they are now renting a room from my neighbour, Irin. Ashok is a graduate in Physics, while Jasmin's strength is in Mathematics. It is amazing how they have equipped themselves with tremendous computer knowledge, all self-taught.!

As a property agent, I work at my own pace. There are times when I could be extremely busy and there are times when I could be quite relaxed. Hence I have almost forgotten about the long hours involved, even in office work. My tenants would leave at about 8.30 a.m. and often arrive home 12 to 13 hours later. Sometimes they would continue their work at home!!!

Ashok made an interesting comment which I thought was quite profound. He said that the reason why Singapore is so progressive and prosperous today - it is all thanks to the country's adoption of foreign talents.! I remember that one of my students' father had commented that the Malaysians in Singapore are the cream of Malaysia's crop!

Having enjoyed great Canadian hospitality when I was a student in Alberta, I now want to extend my hospitality to my tenants. I want them to feel at home in my flat as well as in my country of adoption! :-) I would also encourage all those who have never opened their doors to foreigners. It is amazing how much we can learn from one another. My tenants help me with the computer and also teach me some Hindi. I share with them about toastmasters' activities and whatever little I know. When I interact with others, my world becomes less small and I do not waste time worrying about trivial things. Indeed, life becomes more colorful when we look out for others.

Gan Chau

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Friday, July 04, 2008

The Lovely Flowers in Fullerton Hotel


A magnificent arrangement of flowers greet you as you enter the lobby of Fullerton Hotel.

Gorgeous, fresh and lovely roses from Holland.

Orchids, abundantly grown in ahem! Singapore!

Lovely red flowers with a tinge of orange! Am afraid I don't know the name
of the flowers.

My guests, Ashok Shaw, Jasmin Patel, Avinesh Gupta and his wife, Anu admired the majestic Fullerton Hotel as our boat cruised along the river. Hence I asked them if they would like to see the interior of the luxurious hotel as well.

"Can?" asked Jasmin, somewhat surprised, his eyes sparkling with excitement.

"Sure". This must have been the umpteenth time I have been to Fullerton Hotel. This is probably why I enjoy my work so much as a property agent, because I love things aesthetic, and I enjoy the various architectural designs of buildings.

As our weather is very warm, it is quite difficult for us to grow certain flowers like roses, tulips, etc. Hence it is always such a joy to look at gorgeous floral arrangements in hotels and offices. I taught myself how to do floral arrangements by observing the flowers on display. Most of these flowers would be imported from all over the world.

Fullerton Hotel is one of the more hospitable hotels. By that I mean the hotel does not bar people from entering the hotel even if they are not patrons. I am sure they have their own security system, but by being guests-friendly, the hotel is putting itself in very favourable light - what better advertising can one get than from the mouths of visitors?

Once I brought a group of members from the Penang Hiding Place to a luxurious hotel because I wanted to show them the beautiful architecture, especially the money plants cascading down from every level! As we were about to enter the glass lifts, a security guard stopped us and did not allow my guests to go up! I was somewhat annoyed! Just because these ex-drug addicts had tattoos on their bodies and look somewhat rugged?
I had brought my family and other guests up without any problem before. It makes me irritated when people are being judged by their looks. I asked the security guard if he had seen the movie where the men who robbed the diamonds on display at a hotel were elegantly clad in coats and ties? The guard looked somewhat taken aback. You bet - since then I never patronise that hotel again!

When we came home, I showed my guests the old photos of Singapore taken in the 1960's on my computer. They were surprised that Fullerton Hotel was once used as an old Post Office. After renovation, the hotel has been transformed to a grand and elegant Old Lady!

I am glad that most hotels in Singapore are as guests-friendly as Fullerton. However, do not be fooled by the relaxed atmosphere. For would-be terrorists, know that pairs of eyes are looking at you through cameras everywhere! Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to Singapore, the pearl of the Orient!

Gan Chau

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Thursday, July 03, 2008

I don't understand Economics!

At this time when everything seems to be going up in prices, it warms my heart to know that many food vendors are keeping their prices down. We read in the papers of the many hawker centres where customers can still have a good meal for less than $3.00. At the Tekka Temporary Market, I was pleasantly surprised when I found that a plate of fragrant nasi lemak with a generous serving of long beans with dried prawn chillies and brinjals costs only $1.50! A plate of delicious fried Hokkien mee costs only $3.00 while a plate of rice with two types of vegetables and one meat dish costs only $2.80. Mind you, these hawkers also have to pay price increases in petrol, rice, rental, etc.

Hence the question that comes to mind is that if the humble food vendors can maintain their prices, why can't bigger corporations with monopolies like the SBS, SMRT, Public Utilities Board, etc. do likewise? While people can choose not to have their meals at hawker centres, they cannot choose to walk for miles in the hot, blazing sun or to work in abject darkness. With the increase in petrol, many are opting to give up their cars and taking public transport. Have you not noticed how packed the buses and trains are throughout the whole day? During peak hours, passengers are packed like sardines in a can! Hence, in terms of head count, the two transport companies definitely make money. Therefore, it is almost indecent for public transport companies to increase their fares without first enhancing their services!!!

If prices of properties come down because of the less than positive sentiments, then shouldn't the prices of other things come down proportionately? Yet, why is the government increasing ERP charges with the rationale that it will reduce traffic congestion if eternal road payments are made? If so many people are already ousted out of their comfortable seats in the cars or on motorcycles, how can this measure not be redundant.? For die-hard motorists, they cannot do without their own cars or motorbikes. Many of these are so dependent on their vehicles that they sometimes tend to be somewhat lazy....and you can bet that initially after feeling the pinch of increased ERP charges, they will get used to the pinch and go through the arches again! How then can traffic congestion be ever reduced?

After having failed so many times, why didn't the respective authorities do something different? Instead of perpetually increasing ERP charges (which seems like the easiest way out) something innovative or creative could have been introduced. Perhaps an idea to modify the lifestyle of residents? I have noticed that people in other countries are more prone to walking. Perhaps you could say that the people who live in colder countries tend to walk more because it is difficult to walk with this high humidity. Then how about Malaysians, Thais, and Indonesians, just to name a few.? Don't they have almost the same climatic condition as ours? Instead of running on tread mills in the gym that lead you to nowhere, why don't people try destination walking? It is more meaningful, practical and economical. My tenant from Australia used to take taxis everywhere he went, because he could not stand the idea of taking a five minute walk from the MRT station to his office.

While it is good to save for a rainy day, our authorities have forgotten that we are not completely in control of our destiny! Man proposes; god disposes.! Have you not heard of the proverbial analogy of the man who saved and saved and became a millionaire.? Before he could even start to enjoy the fruits of his labour, he died suddenly. It is difficult for us to fathom the pride of the authorities in wanting to save billions, when many of our older folks are left struggling as cleaners, karang guni collectors, and generally surviving on $290/- a month. Time is not on their side, and many will not be able to have chance to enjoy life a little. Many an average income career man has a fairly huge amount in his CPF but he could be cash poor, and could not afford a roof over his head especially when properties are sold with cash over valuation.

Some credit should be given to the CPF scheme which has compelled savings, but I wish that more flexibility could be given during difficult times. Our immediate neighbour, Malaysia, may not be the most exemplary of nations, yet we could emulate some of their examples, for as Emerson had said, "Every man I meet is my superior in some way; in that I learn of him". Their ministers had taken some salary cut during tough times. Our civil servants have lucrative pay. A little cut will not subject them to suffering as compared to the poor who are already struggling with increased costs all round. It is not only the elderly and poor who may not live to enjoy the nation's wealth. It is somewhat disturbing to see some of our healthy youngsters collapse and die suddenly. A friend of mine used to be extremely frugal. Now he has resigned himself to the realisation that life is short; he will continue to save a little, but would not hesitate to pamper himself with some of life's luxuries. After all, from dust he is created, and to dust he returns.

Frankly, sometimes I wonder what people will do with one to two million dollars of income per year.? Will anyone emulate the examples of billionaire Warren Buffet who seems to enjoy making tons of money and giving tons away, while maintaining a simple life style. Instead of building himself a castle, this unique billionaire is contented with living in a house which he has been living in for the past few decades. Happiness and contentment to him means munching popcorns before the television in the evenings.

By the way, if the above does not make much sense to you, do not worry. It does not make much sense to me either. For as I have always said, I never understand politics, and being weak in mathematics, I find economics almost incomprehensible too. Thank God that I was spared from doing A levels where economics was then a compulsory subject. I entered university as a mature student which was better for me, for by age 23, I had already gone through the school of some hard knocks.

Hence, somehow.....I know I will survive ...and remain sane and happy. Sha ren yiu sha fu. (Direct translation of Mandarin phrase - stupid people have stupid luck). (A more dignified translation of the same phrase - the meek always get the most blessings)!

Gan Chau

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

A Lovely Rendezvous!


Dinner at Annalakshmi Vegetarian Restaurant at Chinatown Point


A pitcuresque night scene of the Central Business District


A feast for the eyes - lovely night scenes greet you as you cruise along the river.


The lovely kois in the pool of Fullerton Hotel

I decided to give my tenants Ashok and Jasmin a treat. Their friends, Avinesh and his wife, Anu, have also just arrived from India. Avinesh is a colleague from Mumbai who has been posted to work in their head office of Soundbuzz in Singapore. I also took the opportunity to invite my best friend, Amu, to join us for dinner as well as to meet my guests.

After a lovely dinner at Annalakshmi Vegetarian Restaurant, I decided to take them to Boat Quay, and since they were not too tired, to take a boat cruise along the river. As it was almost 10.00 p.m. we were the only passengers. The new boat now has an extra extension of open air seating. I was happy to see my guests, shooting photos of the lovely scenes around them. It was only a 30 minute cruise, but it left my Indian friends lovely memories of their rendezvous. I have never been good with the camera. Ashok and Jasmin are good photographers! Wow! Look at the lovely photos!

Although it must have been the umpteenth time that I have been on the river cruise, I always feel happy to enjoy the breeze and lovely lights. Morever, at night, the weather is less warm. I guess it is always the company that we are with that enhances our joy and happiness.

Gan Chau