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Who wrote this?

Found this today among the papers I was shredding. Hand written by me. Must have copied it from somewhere but Googling yielded no results….

The greatest pleasure of life is love
The greatest treasure contentment
The greatest possession health
The greatest ease is sleep
The greatest medicine is a true friend
And the greatest power is to have them all

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Doing it my way?

Like Petunia Lee, I found and still find it difficult to add to the tributes and sharings that since Monday have come into my consciousness like a tsunami via various Internet media, the print platforms, TV and radio.

It’s not that I don’t honour and respect Mr Lee Kuan Yew, my country’s first Prime Minster who released us from the yoke of colonialism, whether British or Malaysian.

I do. From the bottom of my heart.

But whatever tributes I have to make have already been made by more significant voices and in more meaningful ways.

On Monday morning, I went to the temple in Waterloo Street to remember Mr Lee in a way that’s meaningful to me.

On the journey, I made it a point to give way to drivers who wanted to change lanes or exit from side roads, despite it being my right of way every time. It’s not something I do willingly on normal days.

I gave way as a conscious small effort to thank Mr Lee for having led Singapore for so long and so successfully. For my benefit and my family’s.

But perhaps that’s the wrong thing to do? Dedicate road courtesy to the giant who has just left us? Like some consider it wrong of the MP who dedicated his work out to Mr Lee’s memory. Ditto the bakery chain for creating a bun to sell in his memory even when the proceeds are going to charity?

I wonder why it is more appropriate to queue for hours to pay respect to his remains or write condolence notes and send flowers?

Sure, those are the conventional routes to express respect and sorrow.

Still,let’s not diss all other well-meaning but less orhodox things done out of the pure desire to remember the father of independent Singapore.

K!

Coward & snob

… that’s what I am.

This is the conclusion I came to after I reflected sadly in recent days over how I let a high society dame swipe $50 from me in the name of charity when all I wanted was buy a book for $20.

Why didn’t I say “no” when I handed her a $50 note, fully expecting to receive my change, but she said, “Lucia” ever so sweetly and insincerely, “you want to donate the balance to the scholarship fund?”

I actually had no such intention or inclination but I was so taken aback at her audacity that I was at a loss for words momentarily. Then I said “OK” somewhat weakly and unenthusiastically. She, the brazen fund raiser, said a brief “thanks” and was already “charming” the next sucker before I could even gather my wits together to demand a carrier bag for the $20 book for which I had paid a reluctant extra $30.

Now contrast this with the firm folded palms “salem” and “no, thank you” I always dish out to volunteers at the Tan Tock Seng Hospital who invariably gather at the start or end of the hospital’s main escalators trying to sell stuff to raise money for needy patients.

Why can I say no to needy patients when I could allow myself to be intimidated to part with $30 ($50-$20 for the book)?

I can only put that down to cowardice. I was instinctively afraid to offend the high society dame. I was afraid to say “no” and make her lose face since there were many people around. And possibly I was also afraid that the people milling around would consider me mean or couldn’t spare the extra money.

Yup, like it or not, I want acceptance even from people I don’t particularly care about or strangers that I don’t even know.

Then why was I so brave to turn down fund solicitors at TTSH?

Guess I go to the hospital on such a regular basis that I have already grown callouses on my heart. I am less afraid of the volunteers thinking me mean since droves on either side of me also say no or just ignore them. At least I acknowledge their request — even if I don’t give in.

And worst of all, I probably value the opinions of the volunteers less than I do the fellow guests at the book launch, even though the majority were as unknown to me as I to them. But socially I most likely placed them subliminally above the hospital fund raisers.

Which makes me a snob of the worst kind. And a coward to boot!

Since I have for some time decided not to donate to organised charity — a decision taken long before the NKF and Renci sagas among others but strengthened in the wake of the scandals — I should have been as firm with the society dame as I am with knick knack fund raisers.

But I wasn’t.

So I resolve to do better the next time a well heeled tai-tai tries to intimidate me into parting with my money, or at least more than I want to!

Prepare yourselves, GE is nearer than you think?

OK, I’m no political pundit. Nor an academic in political science who should be better able to read the political tea leaves than your average auntie. I also don’t move in the circles of great thinkers and insiders in Singapore’s elite political sphere..

But to parody the Wet Wet Wet song, I feel it in my fingers, I feel it in my toes. GE’s all around me, and so the feeling grows; it’s written in the wind; it’s everywhere I go..

.. that the next General Election for Singapore, IMHO, is a lot nearer than all the august big brains — Eugene Tan, Bertha Henson, Kit Wei Ching, Song Seng Wun to name a few — in our midst have been predicting.

“The bet is that it will be late next year or early 2016 to take advantage of the SG50 hype,” said Bertha, while Song thought the PAP would prefer to concentrate on the SG50 festivities for most of 2015.

Then they say there are the contentious and likely amendments to the Broadcasting Act and Town Council Act to get out of the way be4 the next poll.

Ditto the thoughts of some acquaintances of mine who appear to run with the in-politics crowd.

These give all sorts of reasons why GE won’t be before SG is done with its SG50 celebrations, as more goodies have to be distributed first be4 the ballot papers are handed out 🙄

Still, the consensus of the knowledgeable is that the polls will be called a good year before the government’s use by date of January 2017. Their forecasts grow granular around the months of September to December 2015, or at latest January 2016.

I beg to differ, not least because of what Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said at the PAP’s 6oth birthday last Sunday.

He said the next general election will be a “deadly serious” fight between the PAP and the opposition and that “every seat, every GRC, every SMC will be contested. Every seat, every contest will be a national contest, not a local one. Every seat is a general election, not a by-election.”

Wasn’t PM stating the obvious? When had the PAP ever gone into a GE without making it a “deadly serious” fight with the Opposition? When had it not contested “every seat, every GRC, every SMC”? When had it ever treated a national election as anything but a national contest and a general election, not a by-election.”

If it isn’t a GE rally speech, I don’t know what is.

To me it was clear as a bell that the Sec-Gen of the PAP was signalling to the party faithful that GE isn’t months but possibly only weeks away and so better be battle-ready.

As for the feel good effect of SG50 softening even the most hardened of the Singaporean hearts that are against the PAP, I feel PM had better take a cue from what happened to Churchill after he won the war. The epitome of British leadership lost the election immediately afterwards.

Instead if  PM chooses to go to the people before SG50 celebs take off, what better way could there be for the PAP to celebrate 50 years of nationhood than for the PAP to collect yet another resounding victory at the polls.

I hope I am right as I can’t see PM and most of his cabinet ministers continuing to rush around for another year as they have been doing this year at myriad functions that seek to thank this, that and the other besides the Pioneer Generation!

If nothing else, some of them will collapse from exhaustion while others because of their packed please-the-people schedules will have no choice but to let their portfolio run on auto pilot.

Not a good state or slate to go into election battle surely?

So shall I bet my Pioneer Generation Card against your SICC card that the January 19 2015 sitting for this Parliament will be its last 😆

Want to pay also don’t want to accept!

This was what I encountered on Friday, Nov 28, when I went to pay my M1 and Starhub bills at Bugis Junction. And it wasn’t the first time either.

What got me wholly cheesed off was that I had gone to BJ specifically to pay those bills so other errands that I wanted to run at the same mall were secondary considerations.

I went to M1 first and like recent visits, was told to use the self service machine to make payment.

Oh all praise to M1’s attempt at efficiency but I prefer the smiley faced sister who used to attend to me. Because in reality, the self service machine wasn’t that efficient.

Here’s why.

I have two mobile lines. One for my phone; the other for a mobile broadband.

I have no trouble remembering my mobile phone number. Since I have had it for more than a decade. Also because I have to give the number to new contacts every so often.

So I succeeded in paying that bill at the self service machine albeit after a bit of trial and error.

But when it came to the mobile broadband bill, I was stymied.

I couldn’t remember the mobile broadband’s number. I didn’t bring my bill — to be truthful I never bring any of my bills as they somehow manage to vanish between their arrival and when I want to pay them, due to the usual grace period given between a bill’s arrival and its due date.

When the smiley human cashier at M1 was in operation, she just called up both bills on her computer screen after I gave my hand phone or IC number. No sweat. And I paid the two bills. Again no sweat.

Not so on Nov 28.

I tried to pay the broadband bill by using the same self-service machine. No dice. Just my identity card number won’t do. I MUST key in the line number.

Whoever did the programming for M1 must be real dumb.

Why can’t a customer’s IC number access all accounts under that particular customer?

I can understand the need to double confirm for a refund– to make life difficult for refund seekers, if nothing else! And perhaps delay the refund that way.

But why make life difficult for a customer wanting to pay up and add to M1’s cashflow?

Anyway, a human “customer” guide appeared at my side. Said sorry, no couldn’t help me find out what my mobile broadband number is. Sorry, no, no.

Miraculously he punched a few keys on another machine and gave me a slip of paper where I had to wait one (yes, ONE) hour to see someone to locate that elusive mobile broadband number.

Never mind that at least two customer officers sitting in front of their computers were just staring at their screens. No customer in front of them.

My human customer guide helpfully pointed out that as his colleagues were already serving 8030 and my Q number was 8035, I had to wait just four customers.

I didn’t rebut — tho I was tempted to– that there were four sets of other numbers in the Q that didn’t start with “80” and under M1 Q-system who knows whether we were in the same Q for all numbers or there were other Qs for different sets of numbers.

And to expect me to wait at least ONE hour to settle a $27 bill, they must be kidding. 🙄

I left and headed to Starhub next door to pay my cable TV bill.

The experience wasn’t much better in so far as the run around I got but I managed to pay my bill within 6 or 7 minutes.

This was despite having gone to the cashier to pay, I was then directed to the info counter to have my bill printed out, as I didn’t have the copy mailed to me.

At Starhub’s Plaza Singapura outlet, one could pay even without a bill. Just give the cashier your IC number.

Donch know why Starhub can’t standardise its bill payment procedures. That would save a lot of its customers’ time! And possibly cut down on its staff numbers!

Of cos, some visitors to this site wonder why I don’t pay the M1 and Starhub bills by Giro, via AXA machines or 7-11 shops. Answer is simple. I want to pay by credit card and earn points. Nothing wrong with that!

Anyway, I find the service of these two telcos sucks big time. Especially when I’ve paid M1 at least $20K in bills — and probably more — over the years. For Starhub, it’s probably a few thousand $ since we only converted to cable about 12 years ago when the management committee of my condo unilaterally removed the antennae at the roof top that allowed access to Mediacorp stations.

Now if Singapore’s productivity tzars are interested to find out more about why the nation’s productivity efforts have yielded virtually nought despite taglines and big bucks spent, they need no more than put the way M1 and Singtel run their bill collection systems under a microscope.

Come to think of it, when a company is inefficient and not productive it affects not only themselves but those who use their services. So there’s productivity lost on the receiving end too. And that cost should be deducted against the productivity figures, no? 😆

So young and so kind!

Three wonderful encounters on Saturday Nov 1 (due to it being All Saints’ Day?) left me hopeful that SG’s future has a good chance of remaining or even bettering today’s generally kind nation.

First, I was at the Kwan Im Hood Cho Temple in Waterloo Street to do my usual thing. After a few minutes inside the temple, I left and saw, as I made way towards Fortune Centre, a few young kids offering a lunch box to a tissue seller. They had some persuading to do!

The kids couldn’t be more than 12, possibly younger. But they were earnest in harassing the tissue uncle to accept their food. And it wasn’t a once-off gesture. The same kids repeated it with another tissue seller.

I am not sure if it’s a “movement” involving more children or just those three I saw. Whatever it is, I am happy to witness the kind acts, unlike the usual donation drive vultures — usually young adults — who ask for money for this or that needy cause, in SG or elsewhere, quite oblivious to the very needy right next to or in front of them.

Earlier on, before I entered the temple, I was touched and humbled to see a father showing his little boy how to pay for the tissue paper they bought from a wheel chair bound woman seller. He held the kid’s small hands which were holding a $2 note and together father and son offered their cash with overt sincerity and respect.

I wish more parents would be so hands-on in teaching their offspring the right way to do a kind deed.

The third kind gesture by a young kid had me at the receiving end.

After the temple and a few other errands I went to VivoCity in search of Pat’s Oven which sells exactly the sort of nuts I like to eat.

While there, I decided to do some shopping at Cold Storage.

Bad idea as my car was parked on the 2nd level and the supermarket was in the basement!

Added to that bad move was another one of choosing to use a basket instead of a trolley which saw me joining a slow moving Q humping a heavy basket that I had to be put down and then lift up as one more customer ahead of me paid for his/her purchases. And I inched up the Q.

I was just two customers away from the cashier when the kid — he looked no more than 16!! and I am at an age when anyone under 32 is a kiddo! — immediately ahead of me in the Q turned and said: “I carry up your basket for you after I pay?” (meaning he would help me put my basket on the belt for the cashier to tally).

“Yes, please,” I replied. Surprised and pleased. Especially when earlier I had snarled at him and his mates who though not buying anything were fooling around their friend.

“Eh, got eggs in my basket — if one of you fall, who will pay for the broken eggs, ah?”

His mates muttered apologies and disappeared.

His subsequent offer in the context of what went on before is therefore doubly kind.

Oh yes, his name is Jonathan! :D!

Why ever not, Mr Khaw?

I refer to the enhanced Lease Buy Back Scheme for HDB owners that our dear Minister for National Development Khaw Boon Wan just announced in Parliament. So much flexibility… Yet one sticking point remains. I refer to the oral answer MND gave in reply to an MP’s question which to wit (and to woo?) asked: “For the Enhanced Lease Buyback Scheme, whether HDB will consider relaxing restrictions on (i) the sale and subletting of the flat; and (ii) the minimum occupation period.”

The answer is: The Lease Buyback Scheme (LBS) provides seniors who wish to continue staying in their home, an option to monetise their flat for additional retirement income. If they have spare bedrooms, they can also sublet them after taking up the LBS. Those who wish to move out and sell or sublet their whole flat can already do so without the LBS. We do not have plans to relax the minimum occupation period which is applied to the purchase of all HDB flats.”

I refer to the words I’ve put in bold. They miss the point entirely. If I were a senior with the good fortune to own an HDB flat and wish to monetise a part of the value via the LBS and further monetise the asset by letting out the whole flat, why can’t I? And say, if I were an HDB owning senior who also enjoys the privilege of owning a private property — a bonus accorded only to HDB owners — I will have the option of living in my private apartment, won’t I? So why can’t I rent out the whole of my HDB flat while taking a bite of the new LBS cherry? Even if I don’t own a private pad but want to rent out the whole of my HDB flat while I sleep in the common corridor or void deck, why cant I? I am only maximising the underlying value of my HDB asset without parting with it!! I shouldn’t be deprived of this option. In fact, I think I should be given a pinggat that I have found a way to hold on to my HDB cake and eat it, while watching my cash hoard grow 🙄