Sunday, March 28, 2010

BBQ Gathering @ Changi

The two persons who worked hard for this bbq gathering with my TMIS course mates were Afni and Sai, I am happy playing the supporting cast. Days before completion of our course in Feb this year, it was Afni who initiated the bbq gathering for us all. The original venue was supposed to be at Downtown East but the chalets were fully booked. With Alan's help, we managed to confirm a chalet at Changi on 20 March.

All 24 of us chipped in S$30 each except for one party spoiler and the consolidated sum should give us a sumptuous bbq makanan. In our planning, we (Afni, Sai & I) decided that everyone of us should 'win an award' for best in their category which will then be announced on the day of the gathering. Who are the judges then? Ahem, the three of us lor...and we started to crack our heads to identify the category best fit to each individual. What would be the award? Again, budget was a constraint as the food and accommodation took a big chunk from there. We finally settled for a nice photo frame with a nice class photo inserted in. The name of the individual who is named best in his or her category will be nicely, right?

Actually, the hardest part for us during the planning stage was to roll out 24 categories (for 24 of us in the class), it was more tedious than doing our assessments...hehehe. After a hard decision (I now know who hard the judges in American or Singapore Idol have to name their finalists), we reached our verdict...phew!

Allow me to present, Mr 'Ah Beng' award, Ms 'Ah Lian' award, Ms 'Colourful' award, Mr 'Debater' award, Ms 'Mina' award, Mr 'Handsome Sotong' award, Ms 'Pretty Sotong' award (one could have guessed 'Handsome & Pretty Sotong' should be a couple, alas it was not to be), Ms 'Hysterical' award and the list goes on. I landed a 'Disturbia' award for always disturing the class, not bad I should say. However, the one award I like best is 'Mao Mao' (毛毛) award which went to someone who did not attend the bbq, unfortunately. Least one would have assumed he is quite a hairy chap but the exact is the opposite I'm afraid to say. Nonetheless, the awards were part of the fun at the gathering, to create laughter that liven up the atmosphere and we did.

I enjoyed the gathering though most of us did not spend a night at the chalet, only Afni, Sai & few others did. One last parting note, this bbq gathering would not have been possible without Afni & Sai and I would like to thank them for the great job done. Those who paid but did not turn up, you did miss the fun and with or without your present, we simply had our fun. Looking forward to another gathering some months down.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

The Expats Will Rule Singapore

Article Written By Adam Khoo

I have a prediction. My prediction is that in a couple of years, the expatriates (from China, India, US etc...) will rule Singapore. They will increasingly take on more leadership roles of CEOs, directors, heads of organizations, award winners etc... If you observe closely, it is already happening now.

Last year's top PSLE (Primary School Leaving Exam) student is a China national. Most of the deans list students and first class honours students in the local universities are foreigners and more and more CEOs, even that of go vernment link corporations are expats. The top players in our national teams are expats.

As a Singaporean, I am not complaining. I think that in a meritocratic society like Singapore, it is only fair that the very best get rewarded, no matter their race, religion or nationality. Like Lee Kwan Yew said, I rather have these talented and driven people be on our team contributing to our nation than against us from their home country. The question I have been asking is, 'why are the expats beating the crap out of Singaporeans?'

What I noticed is that these expats have a very important quality that many Singaporeans (especially the new Y generation lack). It is a quality that our grandfathers and great-grandfathers (who came from distant lands) had that turned Singapore from a fishing village to the third richest country in the world (according to GDP per capita). Unfortunately, I fear this quality is soon disappearing from the new generation of Singaporeans.

This quality is the HUNGER FOR SUCCESS and the FIGHTING SPIRIT!!!

Expats who come here today have the same tremendous HUNGER for success that our grandfathers had. They are willing to sacrifice, work hard and pay the price to succeed. They also believe that no one owes them a living and they have to work hard for themselves. They also bring with them the humility and willingness to learn.

Take the case of Qui Biqing, the girl from Qifa Primary school who topped the whole of Singapore in last year's PSLE with a score of 290. When she came to Singapore 3 years ago from China, she could hardly speak a word of English and didn't even understand what a thermometer was. Although she was 10 years old, MOE recommended she start at Primary 2 because of her lack of English proficiency. After appealing, she managed to start in Primary 3. While most Singaporeans have a head start of learning English at pre-school at the age of 3-4 years old, she only started at age 10.. Despite this handicap, she had the drive to read continuously and practice her speaking and writing skills, eventually scoring an A-star in English!

This hunger and drive can also be seen in the workforce. I hate to say this but in a way, I sometimes think expats create more value than locals.

Expats are willing to work long hours, go the extra mile, are fiercely loyal to you and don't complain so much. They also come a lot more qualified and do not ask the moon for the remuneration. Recently, I placed an ad for a marketing executive. Out of 100+ resumes, more than 60% came from expats. While locals fresh grads are asking for $2,500+ per month, I have expats with masters degrees from good universities willing to get less than $2,000! They know that if they can come in and learn and work hard, they will eventually climb up and earn alot more. They are willing to invest in themselves, pay the price for future rewards. Sometimes I wonder how some of the locals are going to compete with this.

Of course, this is just a generalization. There ARE definitely some Singaporeans who create lots of value and show fighting spirit.

Unfortunately, I have found that more and more young Singaporeans lack this hunger for success. Instead, they like to complain, blame circumstances and wait for others to push them. Some hold on to the attitude that the world owes them a living. I shake my head when I see local kids nowadays complain that they don't have the latest handphones, branded clothes and games. While I acknowledge that the kids of today are much smarter and well informed than I was at their age (my 4 year old daughter can use my Macbook computer and my iphone), I find that they lack the resilience and tenacity they need to survive in the new economy. Some kids nowadays tend to give up easily once they find that things get tough and demand instant gratification. When they have to work first to get rewards later, many tend to lack the patience to follow through.

So, how did this happen? Why is our nation of hardworking, hungry fighters slowly becoming a nation of complaining softies? I think the problem is that life in Singapore has been too good and comfortable. Kids today have never seen hunger, poverty, war and disasters. What makes it worse is that parents nowadays give kids everything they want and over protect them from hardship and failure. Parents often ask me why their kids lack the motivation to study and excel. My answer to them is because they already have everything! Giving someone everything they want is the best way to kill their motivation. What reason is there for them to fight to become the best when they are already given the best from their parents without having to earn it?

It reminds me of the cartoon movie MADAGASCAR where Alex the Lion and his animal friends were born and raised in the Central Park Zoo. They were well taken care of and provided with processed food and an artificial jungle. When they escaped to Africa , they found that they could barely survive in the wild with the other animals because they had lots their instincts to fight and hunt for food. They could only dance and sing.

I see the same thing in the hundreds of seminars and training programmes I conduct. I see increasing more and more expats attending my Wealth Academy and Patterns of Excellence programme in Singapore. Not surprisingly, they are always the first to grab the microphone to answer and ask questions.

While many of the locals come in late and sit at the back. The expats (especially those from India and China ) always sit at the front, take notes ferociously and stay back way after the programme is over to ask questions. I feel ashamed sometimes when I ask for volunteers to ask questions, and the Singaporeans keep quiet, while the foreigners fight for the opportunity.

For my "I Am Gifted!' programme for students, I have the privilege to travel & conduct it in seven countries ( Singapore , Indonesia , Hong Kong , China , Malaysia etc...) and see students from all over. Is there a big difference in their attitude and behaviour? You bet!

Again, I feel really sad that in Singapore , most students who come are usually forced by their parents to come and improve themselves, Some parents even bribe them with computer games and new handphones to attend.

During the course, some adopt the 'I know everything' attitude and lack the interest to succeed until I kick their butts. It is so different when I go to Malaysia , Indonesia and once in India . The kids there ask their parents to send them to my programme They clap and cheer enthusiastically when the teachers enter the room and participate so willingly when lessons are on. I still scratch my head and wonder what happened to my fellow Singaporeans to this day.

So mark my words, unless the new generation of Singaporeans wake up and get out of their happy over protected bubble and start fighting for their future, the expats (like our great grandfathers) will soon be the rulers of the country. At the rate at which talented and hungry expats are climbing up, our future prime minister may be an Indian or China PR or may even be an Ang Moh!

Sunday, March 14, 2010

16km NE Run 2010

This morning NE run in Pasir Ris was my third run for the year after Jan's Urbanathlon run and Feb's Zoo run.

Got up this morning at 5.45am, left the house by 6am and by my reckoning, I should make it before the flag-off at 6.45am but my 'guesstimation' went off-mark somewhat. Looking for parking space proved to be a challenge, given those who were driving came about the same time too and finally found one in a nearby housing estate.

By the time I reached the start line, 16km runners were flagged off and quickly, I did some warming up before joining the rest. When I glanced up, I saw I was more than 2 minutes away from gun-time.

This run was to start-off & finish at Pasir Ris Park and the entire duration of 16km covering some part of Tampines town and into Temasek Polytechnic compound being the 8km turnaround mark.

The challenging part was not the run, never mind the 16km distance but overcoming the overhead bridges. There were 3 or maybe 4 overhead bridges along the way that all runners must cross over and since it was a turnabout circuit (mid way point at Temasek Polytechnic), everyone had to cross twice. Very frankly, I did enjoy the crossing part, a chance to test my uphill endurance and it was not that demanding either. But many runners were seen struggling going up the stairs and some simply ignored the overhead bridge, they just dashed across to the opposite side of the road. Alas, no marshals to stop them either.

There were easily more than 2,000 runners but the narrow jogging track along Tampines Park Connector simply squeezed everyone together which made running & overtaking almost impossible. I decided to run on the grass patch instead of joining the pack on the narrow jogging track.

We then had to pass through a suspension bridge at some point and with so many runners dashing across, it swayed quite badly. I was hoping the cable won't snap and didn't. Wonder whether the organisers did really check on the reliablity of the suspension bridge and also, the narrow jogging track along the Tampines Park Connector, given the high turnout of runners for this event...? Personally, I don't think the chosen route was conducive and safe enough for so many runners making a dash at the same time.

In event like this, one can always get inspiration to draw strength on. First, I saw a man running on one good leg only and he was then taking a breather. Much later, I passed a young man running without one arm. Gave him some encouragement and he acknowledged duly - such gregarious fella. These two gentlemen can easily put many able-bodied runners like us to shame...their grit & determination to complete the 16km course earned my highest salutation for them.

My pace throughout was steady, I didn't attempt to speed up. At some point, I found myself pacing another runner and both of us kept to the same pace for a good 3 km till I surged past him in the last 1 km to the finish. At the finish, this gentleman thanked me for pacing him; eh...nice to get such compliment though.

It was a casual run for me, I didn't push hard but I am pleasantly pleased to have clocked under 1 hr 28 mins. My own target was to finish under 1hr 30 mins and well, I went under that. My next run is the 21km Adidas Sundown in May and in my last 21km run in 2009, I clocked over 2 hours. This time around, I intend to go under 2 hours and it seems to me 'nothing is impossible' now, I just have to work harder.

Sunday, March 07, 2010

Shame On You, Former Romanian Envoy To Singapore

The court proceeding against Silviu Ionescu, former Romanian envoy to Singapore is still ongoing and while our legal system does not pre-judge a person as guilty until final judgment is made but I can't help sentencing him 'guilty & very guilty a zillion times over'.

The behaviour of this Romanian diplomat in the fatal car accident late last year who was supposed to carry the good name of his country in his discharge of his diplomatic duty in Singapore has dealt a big blow to his country international image. Shame on you, Silviu will live a life of regret forever.

More than 50 witnesses have been lined up to give their own account in court, all fired up by this arrogant diplomat's blatant denial that he was the person behind the wheel on that fateful morning who, instead accused the Singapore government for setting him up. In his desperate attempt, he was trying to inject some political sentiments to his advantage but only fools & traitors like Gopalan Nair (a notorius dissident of Singapore) will come to his 'rescue' to satisfy their own personal agenda/vendetta. You chose to be absent, cooping up in your own country citing health as the chief reason. All 5 million people in Singapore except for one Gopalan Nair are extremely disgusted with you as this fatal road accident is so widely covered here. You had enjoyed diplomatic immunity, took full advantage of it and now, talking big in your own country. You feared you will be too sick to take the journey to fight the case here but really, I hope you will die from your own guilt before you can even set foot here. A party animal like you who downed alcohol like water, enjoying the good life as a diplomat but behaved like a hardened criminal knowing jolly well, you are protected by this crappy diplomatic immunity bestowed upon you. Your blatant disregard for other people's lives, killing one and injuring two others on that fateful morning after a wild party should have condemned you to gallows and yet, this diplomatic immunity craps just saved you by your skin. If your claim that you are too sick now is indeed true, I hope you, the fat pig...will die in your homeland before the court verdict is reached.

Monday, March 01, 2010

A Friend In Need Is A Friend Indeed

Friends, be they old friends or just-got-to-know friends I used to know plenty but only a handful of true friends I do appreciate and treasure much nowadays. Suffice to say, friendship is not measured based on one's wealth or social status. In my opinion, this kind of friendship is best classified as 'drink & feast friends' (酒肉朋友) who will swarm around you like bees when you have plenty cash to flush but nowhere to be seen when you are down on your luck.

True friends stand behind distressed friends who need help of sorts and help needs not have to be in the form of financial help, a listening ear from a concerned friend is all that matters most.

I know this special old friend of mine has been saddled with personal problems for a long while and I dearly wish to offer my help in whatever way, a listening ear even though I may not be able to help much in resolving her personal issues. I feel sad that I cannot be there for her when she is really feeling down of late and for reasons known to her only, she is not confiding to me as much as I would like to hear her out. our long friendship not close enough for her to share her problems or at the very least, a listening ear from me? I just want her to know, behind her stand some of her true friends who are concerned of her well being and I certainly hope to be one of her true friends in time of her need.

I am in a dilemma too, I do not know how to help when she does not share her problems with me and I do not want to be seen barging in without her consent, only to invite her irks. Damn if I do, damn if I don't - that sums up my feeling.

Nonetheless, I hope she will not buckle under any undue pressure but to tackle any issue that comes her strong and persevere till the end, my dear friend.