Friday, July 31, 2009

Excuse Me....Are You a Property Agent ? (8)

"Let's go over to the Great World City to take a look at your photos", suggested Angie, the private banker of my potential purchaser. My client had wanted to find a buyer to take over his purchase before the exercise of option the following day! Viewing was difficult because the tenant was on a business trip. Earlier I had shown the buyer a unit on the same stack so that he would have an idea of the layout and facing. I had taken photos of the actual unit but had forgotten to put back the battery in the camera after recharging.

I thought Angie wanted to take me to a Kodak Camera shop where I could print out the photos with the memory card. Instead we went to Best Denki Digital where she told the amicable salesman she wanted to test a camera by putting in the card. After seeing the photos of the property, Angie and her client walked away. I ran after her, and asked if she had wanted to buy the camera and that was why she asked to test it. Angie raised her eyebrows as if exasperated with my naiveness. She told me she would give me her client's confirmation of the purchase the following morning.

I went back to Denki Digital and asked the salesman about the camera. "Who's that lady and the old man?" asked the salesman.

"He's an Indonesian investor who is keen to buy my client's condominium and the lady is his private banker," I replied.

"I think you're more successful than the private banker," Dennis, the salesman volunteered.

When he saw me raising my eyebrows, Dennis continued, "I knew the banker only wanted to use my camera on the pretext of buying. I still gave good the end I had a sale. The banker uses people; but you bless others." I told Dennis that maybe he was right as I am one of my company's top producers. I had been wanting to buy a camera for a client as a gift to thank him for his support.

"There...there I told you so!" said Dennis triumphantly.

I asked Dennis if he would like to join my company as a property agent. "I only have primary school education," he said. However I told him that one of our top agents, Nicole Lim, also did not have very high education. My boss, Dr. Dennis Wee had also studied up to Secondary Two, but is today a very successful man. "Perseverance and passion - secret of success in anything you. do."

Dear readers, I am sharing with you the above anecdote to encourage you. We must always realise that someone is watching us and that there are others who are smarter and more street-wise than us. Above all, there is One up there who is always looking out for us, and it is from Him that all blessings flow. Indeed life is easier when we do not manipulate and connive. It is easier to bask in the grace and blessings of the One who holds the four corners of the world together!

Gan Chau

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Excuse Me, Are You A Property Agent? (7)

I find it unbelievable that some property agents would go to the extent of carrying out duties which are best done by maids, chauffeurs, and butlers.

Good service to me as an agent means giving my clients sound and proper advice where their properties are concerned. Good service also means being punctual, prepared and organised. An agent must be professional in his knowledge of current market conditions which will enable him to help his clients to make the most of their investments. Of course, if I do drive, I would not mind occasionally to pick up my clients but I would never become their "full time chauffeur".

A co-broking rental agent shared with me that he drove his clients to view some 65 rental units before they finally settled down. Another agent told me that he showed his clients some 128 Housing Board flats, but sadly, at the end, they bought a unit directly from the Housing Development Board! They did not even give him a single cent as a token of appreciation!

I could not comprehend why the above agents would have such great stamina and patience. Usually, by the second or third showing, I would have a very good idea of my clients' preference and requirements. Perhaps it is time that agents start to charge $20 to $30 per viewing. When people have to pay, they will be more decisive and not take their agents for a ride. Who does not want to view 60 to 130 properties when he is being driven around without charge by his agent?

Recently a colleague phoned me in the morning and asked if her Indonesian clients could view my client's condominium at 11.30a.m. As it was a Tuesday, I was somewhat reluctant, as I needed to practise my violin before lessons in the afternoon. Morever, this was a last minute request. However, I obliged her and rushed down in a taxi, only to receive her call that her clients had decided to buy a newer and bigger condominium. Little did I expect an even more senior colleague to waste my time for if her clients had a budget of over $2 million, then why waste time to view a smaller and older unit of over $1 million?

Another agent told me that soon after viewing, he would have to rush his clients to the bank. The clients could not even spare another 5 to 10 minutes to view the facilities as they had an appointment at Mount Elizabeth Hospital, after putting in a cheque at the bank!! This agent had earlier told me that his clients were very genuine buyers and would surely make an offer!!! I gave this agent another chance to bring his clients, and this time he brought six Indonesian buyers; yet not one made an offer. Suddenly I thought the agent looked more like a tour guide than property agent! At the end, I sold the unit directly to two Singaporeans whose banker commented that the unit is indeed a good buy! Now the banker is asking me for help to purchase a unit for his mother!

It is imperative that agents should not only work hard, but smart as well. They should learn to be discerning and instead of just rushing their clients to view a hundred and one properties, they should be able to qualify their clients. Otherwise, they are wasting a lot of golden time and energy.

I do mind to cobroke with agents if they can give good offers as my clients' interest must always come first. However, most of the time, I ended up closing deals with direct clients. I am sure that many agents must have heard these sentences, "My client is very, very keen to view your unit." However, at the end of the viewing, their clients do not make any offer and you don't hear from the agent either.!

Property viewing is more than just bringing your clients to view properties. Agents must be knowledgeable, excited and passionate about their products. Above all, they must be able to understand a buyer's financial position and needs and not just coerce someone to buy or sell just because of commission earnings!

Indeed property selling is one of the toughtest but if an agent exercises discretion, initiative, and application of common sense and deduction, then his work will be less mentally, emotionally and physically taxing!

Gan Chau

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Excuse Me, Are You A Property Agent? (6)

"I've just returned from overseas, and I've been eyeing Pacific Mansion for a while. If you have anyone wanting to sell Pacific Mansion at $1,000 per sq. ft. or less, call me and I'll give you a cheque," someone said on the other end of the phone.

It is extremely annoying when you receive calls from unrealistic buyers such as the purchaser above. He sounded somewhat arrogant about his having been abroad. What has being abroad to do with getting a property at his desired price.?

I was in the thick of a discussion with a client on a property in River Valley, and although annoyed, I tried to be patient as I explained to him that a unit in Pacific Mansion had just been transacted at $1.5M.

"There's no such transaction....the URA showed only transactions at $1.2M.", he declared, and sounded somewhat rude with his raised voice. I reiterated that I was the agent who transacted the last unit at $1.5M.

"I don't care what price it is last transacted at. I want to buy only at $1.2M. Please call me if you have any such unit,".

"If I do have such units, Sir, I would not call you, but I would call my good friends or favourite clients," I could not resist answering, and hung up.

I was wondering if indeed the buyer had been eyeing Pacific Mansion, then why did he not buy the property when it was much cheaper at $900 psf? Why was he bulldozing his way into getting the price he wanted, when the market has already increased to almost $1,130psf?

When buyers are not realistic in their offers, they will continue to miss the boats.
And when they analyse till they get paralysed with fear and confusion, they will miss the ocean liners!

In the poignant words of a friend, Shari, "Papa had been house-hunting for years....and by the time he passed away, we were still living in a rented apartment."

Gan Chau

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

A Cat named Choo Choo



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You and I know of the famous "Hello Kitty!". Hence, I was pleasantly surprised, when my ex-student, Carrie, gave me a little present - a lovely notebook with a Cat called Choo Choo!

"Thanks, Mui (Carrie's Chinese name). I love it but it's so expensive.....$9.80 for a note book!", I exclaimed. Of course, Carrie has remembered that as a teacher, I have often advised my students to be frugal, for a penny saved is a penny earned. Nevertheless, I was touched by Carrie's gesture and thoughtfulness when she said, "I bought the book because of the name on it." Wow! The drawings of the cat are quite attractive.!

Yes, such luxuries are things that I treasure. I have never forgotten my past. I remember how thrilled I was when I first started to read and write. For someone with extremely "itchy" fingers, I enjoyed writing. Knowing how papa had to struggle to make ends meet, I would find ways and means to save money. I remember how I often enjoyed squatting down and spending lots of time, practising my cursive writing on the sand in the compound of our attap house. For some reasons, the sand was lightly colored, probably because the sea was not too far away from our home. Eldest brother told me that the sand used to be even whiter, but through pollution, had darkened somewhat.

I loved it even more when it rained because after the rain, the sand would be even smoother and more compact, making it easier to write. I guess this ability to write nicely with a stick on the sand had helped me to write with ease on the blackboard when I became a teacher later on. It was also this constant practice that many people compliment me for my unique and lovely handwriting. I remember my ex-professor from the University of Alberta, Dr. Parker-Jarvais, had commented that my handwriting reminded him of Chinese calligraphy!

As I have a tendency to lose things, I should keep this special note book at home and use it for a special purpose.

Thanks a million, Carrie!

Gan Chau

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Much Ado About Toby.....


It's my birthday.....but I still have to eat my own doggy food.....not fair, not fair!

My yummy looking birthday cake! At caregiver gave me a little of it.

With my doting caregivers before I fly to Dubai

We find it hard to resist Toby's soulful looking eyes.

It is now the third week of my looking after Toby. She is now more at home and in fact, is getting more courageous. Where once, she disliked being carried, she now basks in the comfort of being carried up like a little baby. She even snuggles and is quite "manja" - Malay word meaning "putting on an obvious show of affection and dependency."

Toby is very intelligent. When I change into casual clothes from my pyjamas, she knows it is time for her walk. When I change into more formal clothes, she somehow senses I am going out and hence, she will lie down quietly with her soulful eyes looking at me as if asking, "When are you coming back.?" You see, Toby dislikes being left alone...even for a few minutes. This is obvious when she follows me everywhere, and will even wait outside the door of the bathroom when I am having a shower! It is so therapeutic to see her little tail waving furiously as she dances around with joy whenever I come back from work. A canine's welcome is so warm and spontaneoous!

No wonder her owner, Gayatri, has warned me about Toby's overweight for she is indeed a connoiseur of good food. And she prefers food meant for her two legged friends.! Thinking that she might be like a British snob like my previous pet dog, Bobo, who would curl his nose when you put a durian near his face, I was amused when Toby just gulped the durian in my hand and smacked her lips! She loves durians! Mangoes, langsat, rambutans and all types of fruits are also her favourite, but I must be careful not to give her too much. We have nicknamed her "Moothi, Moothi" - in Hindi, meaning, "Fat, Fat". Once I called out "Moothi, Moothi" and Toby responded!

At times I toy with the idea of adopting Toby, but I am fearful that if Toby stays with me, she will be most likely to put on weight. My heart is too soft to resist her soulful looking eyes that plead, "Come on, let me try a little of what you are eating! Must be yummy!"

When my neighbour's dogs, Bobby and Bibi first came a-visiting, Tobby would not even venture near the door! Now, she dashes to the door and barks her loudest, declaring her territory! When she passes by my neighbour's flat, she would go right to the door to bark! Wow! What a different show of bravery!

I try to stay at home as much as possible as I know Tobby loves company. Every morning I pray for God's protection of her. It is a heavy responsibility looking after a dog. As a dog lover, I can emphatise with a dog owner's intense love for his dog. Amazing how a dog can change one's lifestyle. In fact I have turned down many dinner and party invitations so that I could spend more time with Toby.

I will miss Toby terribly when she flies off to join her owner in Dubai. My tenants, Jasmin and Avinesh have also grown quite fond of her. Amazing how fast a dog can connect to his caregivers. A dog loves unconditionally, does not complain, is faithful and grateful, and is's best friend!
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Monday, July 20, 2009

Please Choose Your Own Title .....


Despite Gurmit's gesture and message, commuters often rush in like it's the last train!!! This is especially obvious during peak periods. Commuters are more "gracious" during non peak periods when the trains are less crowded. The proverbial cheese to be shared by too many mice?

I do not how to put a title to this article. Shall I put it as "It pays to have a loud voice!" or "The Bee-see body?" or "A purpose behind every setback!" I guess I will let my readers choose.

When I first started teaching in River Valley High School which was then located at River Valley behind the Morningside condominium, Yong An Park was being built. Everyday teachers had to compete with the loud piling noise, as our classrooms were just next to the site!

After the piling work ceased, to my surprise, I found that my voice had become thunderous through months of competition!! Though it made me appear less feminine with my loud, booming voice, nevertheless my loud voice has become very useful. Especially when I am alighting the mrt.! It made me annoyed that commuters would rush in when others are trying to get out. It is senseless to rush in for they should first wait for passengers to come out. How can we continue to put in coins in an already overloaded piggy bank.? Until the coins are removed, can new savings be put in. Plain common sense. But then my pastor had once mentioned in a sermon two decades ago, that sometimes common sense is not very common! This lack of common sense makes it more appalling in a developed little nation like ours! There was once when I could not take it anymore and blurted out loud and clear, "Let us come out first!" Hence, in future, if you hear a loud, booming voice, then you will know that I am around!! Sigh! I hate publicity but how do you drive home the message.? Even poor Gurmit is not getting very far with all his pleading and rapping.

In a crowded bus, the poor driver often had to remind passengers to move to the rear of the bus. Yet some preferred to be rooted to their favourite spot, even if it means hindering the movement of passengers in the bus. I had learnt to say, "Please move to the back" in the four main languages in Singapore as well as in Hokkien and Cantonese. It is not easy to have to do what I am doing but I am grateful that due to the training at toastmasters' clubs, now I have more courage and confidence to speak up whenever I have to.

Our little island is now getting more and more crowded with people. Until people learn to be considerate, travelling in public transport can be a nightmare! Let us help to make life a little better by being courteous, thoughtful, alert and having the initiative to do what needs to be done just to make the world a little better place to live in.

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Saturday, July 18, 2009

Try Harder, Gurmit !!


Despite Gurmit's plead, some commuters still cannot read or interpret the signs.

The young man in deep slumber, oblivious to the mother with child in her hands.

Another not so sleepy commuter, preferring to remain glued to his seat.
 Poor Gurmit! Despite his interesting rap, some commuters cannot hear or understand!

I was taking the train to Changi Airport to meet my eldest sister, Lee Lee who was arriving from Kuching. I boarded the train at City Hall. It was extremely crowded, being peak period after office hours. I noticed a lady carrying a cute, little girl. Usually, when someones does not get up for those in need, I would pat the sleepy person on the shoulder and alert him/her to vacate his/her seat for someone who need to sit down.

However, since my journey to the airport would take about thirty minutes, I thought I would observe the behaviour of commuters. The young man seated on the priority seat slept throughout the journey.....from City Hall to Bedok. As the mrt became a little less crowded, the lady carrying the little girl decided to walk to the opposite doorway and she must be feeling exhausted because she put the little girl down. However, the plump little girl did not like it and preferred to be carried. Anyone could see the lady massaging her aching arms. However, Mother's love conquered all tiredness and she lifted the little girl again. A fierce looking man remained seated on the priority seat. I wanted to take a photo but his fierce looks made me somewhat scared, so I quickly smiled at the little girl and said, "Hi, sweetie, give aunty a smile! You have a pretty, cute little girl"! I quickly snapped a photo!

Poor Gurmit! You have to try harder! Some Singaporeans cannot read or interpret pictures! Your lovely rap has also fallen on deaf ears!

Incredible! I have taken public transport in many parts of the world. There are hardly signs to remind people to give up their seats, but commuters are natural enough to just stand up to offer their seats.

As National Day is approaching, let us remember to always stand up for Singapore! In our daily activities, let us also sacrifice a little of our human comfort, and stand up for commuters with great need .....expectant mothers, the elderly and the handicapped. Let us also continue to stand up for what we believe is the truth. And as the old favourite hymn goes, "Stand up, stand up for Jesus!"

Gan Chau

Friday, July 17, 2009

Excuse Me, Are You a Property Agent? (5)

I had sold a lovely two room apartment unit at a popular condominium in River Valley vicinity.

The client, a young executive, had bought the unit at a reasonably good price of $1.17 million. She had even offered to rent the unit for 3 months. At first I thought she was from overseas and probably had to move from her current rental place. Later I found out that she was living with her parents. Hence I asked her why she needed to rent the unit and to my surprise, she said, "I want to do some renovation before I move in".

I reminded the client who had sold the unit that there were a few things in the premises - a fridge, two-in-one washing machine/dryer and a portable standing mirror. He asked me if the condition of the electrical gadgets were still good and I suggested he should go and take a look.

To our horror, we found that the whole unit was in a mess as almost everything was hacked - the toilet bowls, sinks, wardrobes, kitchen cabinets, etc. My client was upset because the tenant had gone ahead with the renovation without first seeking his written approval. Thinking that probably the contractor had made a mistake, because my client had told me she was just going to do a minor renovation, I phoned my client and she said, "Ya,'s only a minor renovation!"

To redo the whole unit up even though it is only 900 sq. ft. would probably cost her at least $80 to $100K. My heart ached on seeing the huge amount of wastage! The unit had been renovated once before, and the apartment was still in very good condition with beautiful wall tiles, wardrobes and cabinets. Even the toilet sinks were very unique and beautiful. I thought of the poor forest of trees when I saw the wooden mess of broken wardrobes and cabinets. The rich have no qualms about discarding and wasting.....but tell some of them to help the needy a takes many breaths of effort! Of course we do have some rich people who are very generous and I am sure they know who they are.

This incident also made me think of some of the peculiarities of the people who "have." A friend's mother would rather leave her flat vacant all these two decades rather than to earn some rental income....simply because she does not like others to "touch her belongings." Her filial daughter recently bought over her unit from her, and her condition is that the flat must not be rented out. The unit can command about $1,600 to $1,800 a month. I told my friend that even if the mother does not need the money, it is not good stewardship to waste what has been given to us. We are responsible for what we have in our possessions - to always make good use and not to waste.

Another filthy rich lady proudly declared that she would always leave her properties vacant because she hates paying commission to agents. My jaws nearly dropped when I heard that. I have always thought that my understanding of mathematics is incorrigibly poor; but here is someone who probably has a distorted understanding of economics and mathematics! Moreover, if apartments are left vacant for too long, they degenerate faster, and worse, may soon be inhabited by "spirits".

Sigh! I guess meeting people from all walks of life everyday, and with all types of peculiarities and idiosyncrasies - that is what makes my life as an agent so colorful! My work is also turning me into ahem.....a little I often like to reflect over what I see and hear.

Gan Chau

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Much Ado About Mangoes


A fat, juicy mango that weighs 1.23kg.

Wow! Is that a mango in my garden?

Mangoes - most people love mangoes!
Mangoes from Taiwan are as sweet and juicy as they are big!
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One of my favourite fruits is the mango. Wow! The Creator of this lovely universe must be a master chef! I believe this unique fruit with its universal taste is a favourite with people from many nations.

I chanced upon this huge mango from Taiwan at my favourite fruit juice stall. At first I thought it was a papaya! The size is almost as big as a papaya and I was pleasantly surprised when Ivy told me it was a mango! She had cut the fruit into four big pieces with each piece going for $2.50. I always order my dong dong juice and am a regular customer. To my pleasant surprise, Ivy cut a piece of the mango and asked me to try. Wow! So sweet.

On my way back, I came across huge mangoes at my favourite fruit stall. "One costs $5.00; buy two it will be $9.50". I raised my eyebrows and the fruit vendor said, "Ok lah. You want, I give you special....$9.00". Since my best friend, Amu, is visiting me at dinner time, I thought I'd be a little extravagant and bought the two mangoes. Wow! Amu, including my two tenants loved the mango!

Someone had given me so many imitation fruits and vegetables. They look so real. I decided to hang a mango on my plant and I became very happy just looking at it. Who cares about make belief as long as it makes us happy. ? Remember my article on the mirror that makes a fat person look slimmer than he really is?

Ah! Wait a minute! Perhaps it is not a bad idea after all to try and achieve reality. Mm.....I will defintely try to lose some weight, and hopefully there will come a day, when I can live in a small house with a small garden. Then I will be able to grow trees that bear fruits like mangoes, sour sop, papayas and guavas. Jane Tan, my client had expressed her surprise at my love for gardening, and suggested that in the near future, we should buy a small house with a garden of herbs and fruit trees. Then we can retire and enjoy gardening till we go six feet under!


Monday, July 13, 2009

Bougainvilleas! Bougainvilleas! Bougainvilleas!




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I notice these shrubs of bougainvilleas blooming at the open space near the Little India mrt station. I have wanted to take photographs of these lovely flowers, but each time I did not have my camera with me. Hence, this evening when I returned from the concert by the Singapore National Youth Orchestra with my tenant, Jasmin, I noticed the shrubs of bougainvilleas again. Since I had a camera in my bag, Jasmin helped me to photograph some of these plants. He is a much better photgrapher than me anytime. I was surprised that Jasmin did not use any flashlight...yet the flowers turned out clear and sharp.

As it is too warm and humid, it is difficult to grow many types of flowers. However, I notice that bougainvilleas thrive and bloom beautifully and abundantly in our country. This is probably why you can find bougainvilleas planted in many public places, parks, garden, and even on the planters at overhead bridges.

I just love the bright purple and pink bougainvilleas. It is amazing that the above shrubs of bougainvilleas have more flowers than leaves!

"As I walk slowly out of the mrt station,
I saw a host of brilliant bougainvilleas!"

What is this life, if full of care.
We must always find time to stand and stare!

Dear William Wordsworth, we don't have daffodils in our country; but we have plenty of bougainvilleas! Praise God for all His handiworks of awesome flowers, big and small.


Saturday, July 11, 2009

The Sweetest Revenge Is ...

I have loved reading since I was able to recognise words. I guess this habit has stayed with me till now, so that whenever I am in the bus or mrt, I would read interesting quotes on the screen or on mobile television. One of the phrases that caught my attention recently was, "The sweetest revenge is forgiveness". Wow! What a profound statement!

As the bus was plying along the busy streets of the city area, I reflected over the statement. Most people would be so angry with their enemies that they would want to think of the most horrendous acts of retaliation they could conjure! Yet forgiveness is the sweetest revenge! Why?

When we are seething with fury and hatred, we are the ones to suffer. I recalled an incident that would be forever etched in my memory. I still remember the scene so vividly even though this incident has taken place some 4 decades ago! I visited my best friend, Saraswati who was also my classmate. Saraswati was a lovely Indian girl who could speak fluent Hokkien and was probably even more Chinese than some Chinese themselves. She preferred Chinese food to Indian food, and disliked wearing saris which she found too cumbersome and warm. Just as I was enjoying my chit chat with Saraswati, she suddenly screamed, "Run, Choo, she's coming for you!" I saw a dishevelled woman running towards me with a big chopper in her hand!

Instinctively, my heart beat very fast and I dashed into the washroom and slammed the door. I felt sick with fear as I could hear lots of commotion in the house. I heard Saraswati's brother telling the woman to behave herself and that I was not her enemy. About a few minutes later, Saraswati called me. Peace and quiet returned just as quickly.

"Am so sorry, Choo. That neighbour of mine is mad, and she lives just across our house. She must have been staring at you and she dislikes young girls who laugh and giggle, because they remind her of the sister she hates! Her sister married her boyfriend, and she gradually lost her sanity because of years of deep seated hatred."

I told Saraswati that just a few days ago, I had found the same lady standing under the tree near Saraswati's house. As I was unlocking my bicycle, I had tried to ask her if she was aware that an accident had occurred on the main road. "Don't know lah", she yelled and I fled with my bicycle! I had intended to ask Saraswati about the lady but did not get the opportunity to do so. After that incident, my parents no longer allowed me to visit Saraswati at her home.

If only the lady had forgiven her sister and moved on with her life. When we are told to forgive everyone before the sun sets, it is so that we can sleep peacefully and be refreshed and renewed with vigour and hope as the sun rises the following morning. Anger and hatred will only weigh us down. The burden is just too heavy to carry for any great length of time. Diseases and sicknesses will set in.

I remember Pastor Derek Hong had once shared in his sermon about a lady who had lost one leg through gangrene. Pastor Derek urged her to forgive her sister who had also married her boyfriend. She remained single and bitter, and to Pastor's surprise, she declared, "I'd rather lose another leg than to forgive the bitch!" Two years later, she had to amputate her remaining leg!! She'd rather hate than forgive and be healed. Someone has also aptly put in when he said, "While seeking revenge, dig two graves - one for yourself."

Hence, let go of your anger and unforgiveness. Initially it might not be easy as we are only human beings, but with divine help, everything is possible. As is written in Philippians's Chapter 4 Verse 13, the apostle Paul said, "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me." Let us all continue to savour the sweetness of forgiveness.

Gan Chau

An Interesting Blog

I came across an interesting article in Kosong Cafe, by a Malaysian blogger. I reproduced his article to share with my readers. Readers can also log in his blog for more interesting and insightful ideas.

Wednesday, October 31 2007

Escalating prices are almost hitting the ceiling.

We are facing the inevitable price increases across the board as a result of record price increases in crude oil and other commodities because of the fast expanding economies of China and India.

We were advised by Najib not so long ago to change our lifestyle. His recent trumpeting in Paris at the launch of our new submarines seem to suggest it applies to us only. There are also his pet project in Brickendonbury and other 'brain-wash the students' events in UK which suggest our country has deep pockets when it comes to BN causes.

Pak Lah just said we have the money to send more astronauts. Soon after, we read about a school getting donations from the private sector because of urgent needs. Then, we found our policemen do not have enough bullet-proof vests.

Khairy told off PPP's Kayveas to walk before attempting to run when the latter asked for more seats or more correctly asked for what they were entitled to when the party joined BN. Coming from someone who aims to be PM before 40... who is more like running before he can crawl?
Posted by KoSong Cafe at 8:29 AM 0 comments Links to this post
Saving is a sin, Spending is a virtue

An interesting Article from India...Saving is sin, and spending is virtue... Provoking your thoughts.

Japanese save a lot. They do not spend much. Also Japan exports far more than it imports. Has an annual trade surplus of over 100 billions. Yet Japanese economy is considered weak, even collapsing.

Americans spend, save little. Also US imports more than it exports. Has an annual trade deficit of over $400 billion. Yet, the American economy is considered strong and trusted to get stronger.

But where from do Americans get money to spend?

They borrow from Japan, China and even India. Virtually others save for the US to spend. Global savings are mostly invested in US, in dollars.

India itself keeps its foreign currency assets of over $50 billions in US securities. China has sunk over $160 billion in US securities. Japan's stakes in US securities is in trillions.


The US has taken over $5 trillion from the world. So, as the world saves for the US, Americans spend freely. Today, to keep the US consumption going, that is for the US economy to work, other countries have to remit $180 billion every quarter, which is $2 billion a day, to the US!

A Chinese economist asked a neat question. Who has invested more, US in China, or China in US? The US has invested in China less than half of what China has invested in US.

The same is the case with India. We have invested in US over $50 billion. But the US has invested less than $20 billion in India.

Why the world is after US?

The secret lies in the American spending, that they hardly save. In fact they use their credit cards to spend their future income. That the US spends is what makes it attractive to export to the US. So US imports more than what it exports year after year.

The result:

The world is dependent on US consumption for its growth. By its deepening culture of consumption, the US has habituated the world to feed on US consumption. But as the US needs money to finance its consumption, the world provides the money.

It's like a shopkeeper providing the money to a customer so that the customer keeps buying from the shop. If the customer will not buy, the shop won't have business, unless the shopkeeper funds him. The US is like the lucky customer. And the world is like the helpless shopkeeper financier.

Who is America's biggest shopkeeper financier? Japan of course. Yet it's Japan, which is regarded as weak. Modern economists complain that Japanese do not spend, so they do not grow. To force the Japanese to spend, the Japanese government exerted itself, reduced the savings rates, even charged the savers.

Even then the Japanese did not spend (habits don't change, even with taxes, do they?). Their traditional postal savings alone is over $1.2 trillions, about three times the Indian GDP. Thus, savings, far from being the strength of Japan, has become its pain.

Hence, what is the lesson?

That is, a nation cannot grow unless the people spend, not save. Not just spend, but borrow and spend.

Dr. Jagdish Bhagwati, the famous Indian-born economist in the US, told Manmohan Singh that Indians wastefully save. Ask them to spend, on imported cars and, seriously, even on cosmetics! This will put India on a growth curve. This is one of the reason for MNC's coming down to India, seeing the consumer spending.

'Saving is sin, and spending is virtue.'

But before you follow this neo economics, get some fools to save so that you can borrow from them and spend!!!


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The Cheeky Fruit Vendor


Oops! There's a snake amongst the mangosteens!

The cheeky fruit vendor, as camera-shy as he is cheeky!

Succulent mangoes from Taiwan. They are as big as papayas!
The snake is camouflaged! Some customers were shocked and screamed!
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One of my favourite food centres is the Pek Kio Food Centre. Many good food stalls can be found there. Some are even featured by Gurmit Singh on television programs.
My favourite fruit drinks stall is also there. Each time I go to the Centre, I will surely order a glass of the fresh and tasty kedong dong juice.

The vegetables and fruits are also quite competitively priced. One of my favourite fruit stalls is in a section of a corner shop unit. I like to patronise the stall because the fruits are fresh and cheap.

Now that the durians, rambutans and mangosteens are in season, I often like to buy up to three kilos of the fruits. The other evening, just as I was choosing some mangosteens, I suddenly spotted a black snake and its body was kind of in motion. Then I realised that the cheeky fruit vendor had purposely put the black snake amongst the equally dark mangosteens. Some customers, like me, had not seen the snake, and screamed with all their might the moment they saw the snake! The fruit vendor seemed awfully delighted and pleased with his trick.

I asked him to pose for a photogragh and he was awfully shy! Such a contrast to his somewhat flamboyant personality. When I chose the right number of mangosteens to make a kilo, he remarked at my accuracy and suggested I should go and buy numbers. I told him I am not in the habit of buying numbers.

I do not mind the fruit vendor's cheekiness. I guess it could be quite boring and mundane for him to be just standing behind the fruits, and if it made him happy to play a trick or two, it is alright for me. However, I did warn him to be careful, especially not to play such tricks on his more elderly customers who may have weak hearts, and their fright might trigger a heart attack.

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Sister's Home Grown Lemons!


Lovely, huge lemons grown by Sister Lee Lee

What a round, fat lemon!

Look, how thin is the skin of the lemons!

Oozing with so much lemon juice! No need for a blender. Just a fork and a spoon are sufficient to get the juice from the fruit.

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"Choo, do you like lemons?", asked eldest sister on the phone.

"Sure, I like lemons, especially ice lemon tea or lemon barley drink.

"Ok, will bring them! I grow them and this year the harvest is bountiful. My lemons are so big!"

"Huh! You can grow lemons in your garden in Kuching?" I was pleasantly surprised.

However, greater surprise awaited me when sister came to my home. She produced a bagful of lemons and gave me some of them. Wow! What gigantic sizes! They could be mistaken to be green Thai oranges! I shared some of the lemons with my neighbours, Irin and Helen, as well as my violin teacher, Mr. Yan.

My clever and versatile sister has really green fingers. Whatever she grows, thrives and blooms! She also brought me the "ren" herbs - birdnests for the poor. I had already prepared a big styrofoam box of soil, ready to replant the stems of the herbs after consuming the leaves. I now have a box of young ren plants. Whey they mature, I will be able to harvest them and replant the stems again. Hope to grow more so that I can also give some away to people who appreciate herbal drinks.

Due to the multi goodness of "ren" herbs named because of the look-alike Chinese character in the middle of the leaves, I will want to focus more on the growth of this herb. Although bird nests is nice, I feel somewhat strange consuming the vomit of some birds.....moreover bird nests is so costly. I will stick to the consumption of leafy "bird nests for the poor". I feel so rich drinking this herb because it reminds me of the goodness of the Creator who has made so many wonderful herbs, vegetables and fruits for us to consume!

Monday, July 06, 2009

What a Clever Little Schnauzer !

Hoe Hoe barking furiously the moment we entered the master bedroom!

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When my colleague, Dickson and I went to an apartment for viewing, we were greeted by a dog's bark.

"Yes! Great! There's a dog in this home!", I said excitedly.

A cute, grayish white Schnauzer greeted us with his owner.
"Hoe Hoe! Quiet, Hoe Hoe!" admonished the amicable owner.

After a while, the handsome Schnauzer settled down and was very friendly. He kept putting his paws on my lap, as if to welcome us into his home. Clean and well-groomed, it was obvious that his owner and family dote on him. It was interesting that when we were at the living and dining room, Hoe Hoe did not bark at all. He was happily trying to get our attention and loved it when he was patted.

I tried to speak in Hokkien dialect to the dog. "Ah Hoe ah! Lu jin kuai." Then I spoke to the dog in English. "Hoe Hoe! You're a good dog", and the little Schnauzer wagged his tail as if in approval! I like Schnauzers! Somehow they remind me of male characters that we see on stage when a Chinese opera is on, with their pronounced whiskers and beard, intense looking eyes and somewhat accentuated ears!

It was interesting that the moment we stepped into the bedrooms, Hoe Hoe barked continuously. The owner explained to us that he did not like any guest to step into the bedrooms.! For some reason the clever dog knew that guests should be limited only to the living, dining and kitchen areas.! Stepping into the bedrooms of his owners is like an invasion of their privacy! What a clever little dog!

Now my readers know why I enjoy my real estate work so much. Apart from appreciating and admiring the architectural and interior designs of homes, I also get to meet many lovely and wonderful four legged creatures like dogs, cats, hamsters, rabbits as well as colorful fishes swimming in beautiful tanks.!

Indeed the life of a real estate agent is really colorful! Even when the sky is filled with clouds, let us always see the bright and cheerful colours beneath the clouds!

Gan Chau

Sunday, July 05, 2009

Why Sunflowers Bloom So Elegantly!


One of my favourite flowers is the sunflower! Apart from enjoying sunflower seeds as a healthy snack, I also love the big, round, flower that reminds me of the blazing sun!

It is also the favourite flower of my friend, Aik Hoon, a dynamic and successful lady who excels in multi level marketing in Aviva Health Products. In fact, she calls herself Sunflower Chan. Aik Hoon attributes that the reason why the sunflower looks so elegant and almost regal......why, it is always looking towards the Son (sun)!

Hence, when we look towards the hills from where our help comes from, we will be able to enjoy doing things with greater ease and lesser strife! Like the sunflower, we will not only bloom in a world of stress and strife, but we will also bloom gracefully and elegantly, because we get the most of the light and blessings of the Son!

Gan Chau
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Friday, July 03, 2009

When the Phone Rings ...

Frankly, I do not quite like to use the telephone for the simple reason that I am not sure whether my call is convenient for the recipient.

I grew up where there was no phone even in the home. To make phone calls, I had to go to a public phone booth or the friendly grocery shop where I would pay ten cents for one call.

I learnt two harsh lessons where phone calls are concerned. I remember once I had to call a friend to wake her up so as to ensure that she would be punctual. We were supposed to do some quick revision together before an exam at the University of Alberta.

"Can I speak to Carmen please?, said I, at 5 o'clock in the early morning.

"Why the hell do you call so early?" roared a voice, and to my shock, the phone was slammed down with great vehemence.

A few minutes later, Carmen called me, almost whispering, "Sorry, Choo, that was my dad. Heard him barking at you.....he must have had a bad time at the hospital. You see, papa is an anaesthetist, a very stressful job."

Till today, I freeze whenever someone tells me to call him early in the morning!

On another occasion, I called my buddy, Tony, to check some notes with him. It was 2a.m. but it was usual for us, Malaysian students, to study into the wee hours of the morning.

"Who the hell is Tony!" roared the voice at the other end.

I quickly put the phone down, my heartbeat going faster than normal. Gosh! I must have dialed the wrong number and have woken up a very sleepy man.

Now that I am in Singapore, I note that property agents are fond of making calls between 600p.m. to 8.00p.m. which I think is an unearthly time! Some people are driving on their way home, and some parents are hugging their kids at home or having dinner with family and guests. I understand that most telemarketers would come in to work part time for a couple of hours and they check in after their full time work. While it is convenient for them, it is certainly not convenient for potential clients. If we hope to get the favour of these clients to market their homes, isn't it most vital to catch them at a more conducive time, say, after dinner between 8.30p.m. to 9.30p.m.?

Frankly I dislike using mobile phones. I have to use my right ear and I am told it is not good, but my left ear seems to be somewhat hard of hearing. My Korean friend, Siew Yin, once told me she could not stand phones, and wondered at the life of an agent when she heard my phone ringing almost endlessly. What to do? Bo pian....can't be helped. The phone rings sometimes when I enter the washroom, when I am showering or when I am practising my violin or when I am in a toastmasters' meeting. It cries for attention almost the whole day long. Perhaps when I become a CEO like Warren Buffet, I can afford not to carry a hand phone and just remind my staff, "Rule No. 1. Take care of share holders' money. Rule No. 2. Remember Rule No. 1".

Until that day arrives, let me smile and speak in my sweetest voice and most polite of phone manners. For if the phone never rings.....a property agent also goes bankrupt!

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

My Little Four-Legged Guest




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Shahnaz had messaged me as to whether I could help dog-sit for someone who is leaving for Dubai for five weeks. I obliged and the lady, Gayatri, called me to confirm the details. She told me her little pug is called Toby, a female dog with a masculine name. Since Toby was the name given by the first owner, she retained the name. "I'm going to send her for some grooming," said Gayatri.

"Grooming? But pugs have short fur.?" I asked, surprised.

"Yes, but I'd like her to be cool, easier for her upkeep," said Gayatri.
Toby is really cute and I'm sure you will love her."

When I first saw Toby I wanted to laugh. True enough, she's really cute, and as Gayatri had described, somewhat overweight. Gayatri had put her on a diet and Toby had shed 1 kg. but at 7kg. she still looks adorably rounded! With her little tail curled at the back and her rotundness, she reminds me of a little pig!

Toby is not so affectionate like Chelsea. She is more independant and does not like to be carried, although she hates being alone. She is all tensed up when I carry her and is ever so eager to be let down on the floor. Although somewhat aloof, yet she likes to sit close to me or to my tenants if I were not in.

At night, she sleeps on her cushioned bed and boy does she snore ever so loudly! Fortunately I sleep soundly and hence am not bothered by Toby's snoring.

She loves to go for walks, but Gayatri has cautioned me not to make her over-exhausted. I have to be careful not to let Toby put on any more weight. Although Toby enjoys her doggy food, she is ever alert and hopeful when I have my meals. She would sit with her eyes glued onto me, hoping I might give her some of my food.

My friends are surprised I would have time to dog-sit. I guess when we love something, we will always make time for it. It is such a great therapy for me to walk Toby two or three times a day. She has character or what I would describe as
good "doganality". My own coining of word for a dog with personality!

I hope Toby would soon accept Bobby, my neighbour's shi tzu, so that she would have some doggy companionship as well.

Dogs make my world go round!

Gan Chau