Tuesday, 28 March 2023

A free round trip ticket to Hong Kong


In March 2023, I participated in Cathay Pacific’s World of Winners campaign and was lucky to win a round-trip ticket from Singapore to Hong Kong. However, my journey in this campaign was not without its challenges and I learned some valuable lessons along the way

Briefly, my winning episode was filled with a rollercoaster of emotions, the revelation of my shortcoming, and great help from some wonderful people from Cathay Pacific Singapore.

I signed up for the campaign online hours before the start time and clutched a good queue number of 10,150 out of the 12,500 allocated.

When the winners were announced on March 20, I was ecstatic when I saw my name and email in the winner list.

After two days of waiting. I was downcasted as I did not receive any email from the airline informing me to collect my winning ticket but I reassured myself to be patient and continued waiting.

Deep down in my heart, I knew I was not into a scam.

Despite checking my inbox and spam folder daily, I didn’t receive any news from the airline for five days after March 20.

When my attempt to email Cathay Pacific H.K. failed, I decided to call Cathay Pacific Singapore on 26/3/2023, a Sunday morning when most Singaporean were still in bed.

Surprisingly, a sweet lady who sounds like a Filipino (forgot her name) took my call, and attended to my concerns attentively.

During the conversation with her, she brought to my attention that I had written my e-mail incorrectly at the time of registration for the campaign.

Instead of including an "l" in "@gmail.com, I had mistakenly written "@gmai.com (omitting "l").

Unfortunately, due to my condition of glaucoma which has led to the blindness of my right eye, I failed to detect the mistake when I first glanced at the winner's list.

Although my eye condition provides a good excuse for my oversight, I must take full responsibility for my carelessness. Ultimately, it was my own laziness that cause this mistake. 

Luckily, the sweet lady assured me that she would amend my incorrect email address instantly. 

I was quite happy knowing my grave carelessness and mistake would be corrected.

But the feeling of redemption and short-lived euphoria didn't totally satisfy my gut feeling.

I want to be absolutely certain that my email address is amended and I'll get my free ticket eventually.

A short later, I entered Cathay Pacific Singapore's website Chat Box in WhatsApp to follow up on my earlier conversation with the sweet lady.

A living Ms. Mina (not a virtual assistant) came online to chat and wrote:

"Hi, Sir James Lim. Thank you for choosing Cathay Pacific. My name is Mina. I am seeing here that you are in need of assistance with an email to your ticket. I am more than happy to assist with it"

In a short span of about 10 minutes of pleasant chatting with her, she finally said:

"I have sent the email to our relevant team in HK, Sir James. Please wait for their response within 24 - 48 hours. However, I cannot guarantee that they will approve of this one but one thing is for sure, I have raised your concerns with them"

Frankly, in my many years of interacting with local sales staff, I have never experienced such a courteous, helpful, and professional salesperson like Ms. Mina".

Now, true to her assurance and assistance, I received an email in less than 48 hours from accommodating Cathay Pacific H.K. confirming that I had officially won the free ticket and inviting me to redeem it by April 19.

Sadly, some winners lamented that their joy of winning the free ticket was short-lived after finding out they still have to pay close to $200 in taxes because the airline only covers the fare, and worst of all, these people commented that it may be more worthwhile to fly with another airline.

The fact is all participants in this campaign were informed in advance that they have to bear all taxes and surcharges on their own.

I wonder why there are such ungrateful and cheap-skate people who demand a foot when given an inch.

A normal return economy ticket on Cathay Pacific to H.K. for travel in April 2023 costs about S$650.00. Therefore, there is still a “saving” of S$450 after tax and surcharges. Why still unhappy?

I’ll redeem my prize soon and plan to take the bullet train from H.K. to Shanghai and Guangzhou. The only thing that concerns me is traveling alone in a foreign country, particularly at my ripe age.

From this episode, I learned I’m rather careless in my typing and had to double-check whatever I write in the future. Additionally, I learned to never surrender when faced with negative responses and take things for granted.

More importantly, I learned there are still many kind-hearted and helpful people like Ms. Mina around us.

P/S. I'm happy to share my prices with friends who are willing to be my travel companion to H.K. and China.



Saturday, 25 March 2023

A Short Trip to Raub, Pahang (Malaysia)


A collection of memories

Recently, I had the pleasure of accompanying a group of five elderly friends on a trip to visit their "Temple Master" in Bentong/Raub, located in Pahang, Malaysia. The seven-seater SUV we traveled in provided us a comfortable journey of seven hours, with breathtaking views of mountainous ranges, lush jungles, and smooth roads along the KL-Kuantan highway.
Upon arriving at the small village where the temple was located, I was struck by the nostalgic feeling it evoked, reminding me of my own childhood village in Bukit Panjang during the 1960s.
Although it was the end of the durian season, we were fortunate enough to indulge in Raub's famous "Mao Shan Wang" durian, which the Temple Master had worked hard to procure. The delectable fruit was a true delight in rich, intense and bitter-sweet taste that arouse all our senses.
Our short trip of 1N/2D was an enjoyable one, filled with warm memories and new experiences. The trip not only provided us with an opportunity to spend time with each other and explore the countryside, but it also allowed us to reconnect with our roots and appreciate the simple pleasures of life. Overall, it was a refreshing break from a dull retirement life and a reminder that sometimes, it's the small things that bring us the most joy.

Saturday, 23 July 2022

A Happy Day in my Life.


As parents, nothing makes us prouder than seeing our filial children achieve remarkable things in their life, such as obtaining post-graduate qualifications as working adults.

Today is Aaron Lim's convocation day at N.T.U.

On this day, I told Aaron:

"Congratulations, my dearest Son on receiving a Master's of Science degree (MSc) from Nanyang Technological University (N.T.U), in Asset and Wealth Management, which happens to be an essential component of your present job description.

Your achievements have pleasantly surprised and pleased your mother and me.

Honestly, to be able to quietly accomplish your academic goals despite your laid-back personality, raising a young family, and working a stressful day job are admirable feats beyond words and our wildest expectations. Well done, man!

In addition, I appreciate your discreet method of study and unassuming character.

Not many people know you were in pursuit of a post-graduate master’s degree until now.

They say "actions and results speak louder than words!".

Indeed, I believe you’ll be an inspirational father to your children.

Today, I formally apologize for my past doubts about your abilities and resourcefulness.

Previously, I felt you lacked seriousness and motivation because you have always enjoyed fooling around since you were a child.

In my eyes, you were a mischievous, cheeky, handsome boy with no interest in studies or high aspirations.

Today, you proved me wrong,

You are now a successful and responsible family man with a set of right priorities that urge well for a bright future. (Don’t screw up)

Therefore, I obliterate my former erroneous assumptions about you.

More importantly, I’m not impious and thanks God for keeping me alive today, at the age of 75, so that I can participate in and enjoy the priceless and proudest moments of my life on your convocation day.

I couldn’t wish for more but with your capricious traits, we might have another pleasant surprise. Only God knows.

Again, Congratulations, my handsome son on your graduation.

I wish you and your lovely family the best of luck in the future!

Best wishes!

Monday, 30 May 2022

Cigarette Smoking vs Vaping.


I have been smoking a pack of 20 cigarettes a day for the past 50 years and at the present price of cigarettes, I spent about $350 a month, all because of an addictive habit.

When I took up this lethal smoking habit as a teenager in the late sixties, my parents, male siblings, and aunties were all smokers too. My dad died of lung cancer at 60 and my mother died of heart disease at 80 due mainly to smoking. Most of my siblings are still smokers. 

I know I'll die a premature death of lung cancer or heart disease if I continue my deadly habit.

Stopping smoking is a doddle thing but it's easier said than done. 

Most health experts would say that all it requires is the decision that you really want to quit. 

Yes, I agree wholeheartedly.

So, I must stop smoking immediately, you would say.

Honestly, I tried to snub it out thrice in the last 50 years, and each time it lasted for 3 years...a long period by any measure. But somehow, for various unexplainable reasons and solely myself to blame, I smoke again till today. sighs.

In reality, I don't have the luxury of many more three years to try quitting smoking.

In the early days of the seventies, help to quit smoking were few but today helps are readily available in many means and from various agencies. 

Ultimately to snub it out for good or not, boils down to me making a choice. 

Having been told that quitting will be awful, many smokers are inclined to give up.....the "giving-up".

I did try and failed three times as I said earlier.

I believe nothing is better than to stop smoking instantly but from the experience of my past, I want to take a small step first.

Perhaps, I should try vaping.

I learned that The Royal College of Physicians of the UK says E-cigarettes are likely to bring benefits to public health and should be widely promoted to smokers to help them quit tobacco,

In a report likely to further fuel a debate over electronic cigarettes, the influential British doctor's group stressed that tobacco smoking is both addictive and lethal, and concluded that e-cigarettes are "much safer than smoking".

E-cigarettes are not a gateway to smoking, the RCP said, and do not lead to the normalization of the habit - two issues often cited by critics who fear the devices can lure children and young people into smoking habits.

"None of these products has to date attracted significant use among adult never-smokers, or demonstrated evidence of significant gateway progression into smoking among young people," the RCP's 200-page report said.

E-cigarettes, which heat nicotine-laced liquid into vapor, have rapidly grown into a global market for "vaping" products that were estimated at around US$7 billion in 2015.

Tobacco smoking kills half of all smokers, plus at least another 600,000 people a year as non-smokers via second-hand smoke. 

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), this makes it the world's biggest preventable killer, with a predicted death toll of a billion by the end of the century.

Many public health experts think e-cigarettes, or vapes, which do not contain tobacco, are a lower-risk alternative to smoking, but some questions remain about their long-term safety.

Unlike tobacco, nicotine does not cause cancer, or heart and lung diseases.

Electronic cigarette vapor does not contain smoke, which is why vaping is much less harmful.

The ideal situation is for people not to smoke, to begin with, but when someone is hooked on smoking, smokers should be encouraged to use nicotine "delivered in a cleaner form than in deadly cigarettes".

This is what tobacco harm reduction is - it reduces the harm from tobacco while recognizing that some people will still use nicotine in other safer forms."

I believe switching to vaping is a positive and sensible life choice for me. 

Sadly, this Government banned vaping in Singapore.

You can read the reasons written by a Senior Parliamentary Secretary of various government ministries here (click)

Now, do you trust this ex-MP who lost his seat recently in Sengkang GRC and is an ordinary businessman and lawyer or a world-renowned medical establishment and specialist doctor?

I rather bet on the latter.

The final decision to unfriend my 20 daily cigarettes felt like the flicking of a switch.

Instead of reminding myself continually about the breaks, I was missing----I simply shut down all thoughts of them and when the craving for nicotine comes, I vape a puff or two. 

But the challenges are by no means insurmountable and those cessation aid (e-liquefier) are not what you really need. 

Sadly, nicotine-laced liquids in e-cigarettes are not currently regulated in a number of countries. 

It is for these reasons among others that many healthcare providers do not recommend e-cigarettes as a safe alternative, although many researchers believe that e-cigarettes are likely to be better than combustible cigarettes. 

The difference between smoking and vaping is that smoking delivers nicotine by burning tobacco which can cause smoking-related diseases while vaping delivers nicotine by heating liquid in a much less harmful way.

Now, vaping is not harmless but it is much less harmful than smoking. This is NOT a misconception as advocated by this "G", period. 

In its most comprehensive review yet of vaping harms published in April this year, The Australian National University for Epidemiology and Population Health found that there was conclusive evidence that e-cigarettes caused poisoning, injuries, burns, and immediate toxicity through inhalation, including seizures but No mention at all about deadly cancer and heart diseases. 

Needless to say, the healthiest option is NOT to vape or smoke. 

Don't vape if you don't smoke. Only vape to quit smoking.

I have not smoked a stick of cigarettes for the past 12 days since I tried vaping. 

I'll let the debate and controversy between cigarette smoking and vaping continue endlessly. 

Meanwhile, I hope to end my relationship with vaping too in a month or so and become a non-smoker.

Wish me luck!!

Tuesday, 22 February 2022

I Was Almost Scammed.


Notices are everywhere warning the public of the dangers of falling victim to witty scammers but sometimes, these warnings fall on deaf ears, like mine. 

Let me share with you how I was recently almost scammed. 

One afternoon, I received a FB Messenger text from a close relative – “Mrs X” (daughter-in-law of my wife's sister), with a photo of herself and hubby. 

She was my long-time FB friend and a trustworthy person. 

In her message, Mrs. X asked for my phone number. 

As we had never spoken on a phone before, I was not surprised that she asked for my phone. Unquestionably, I gave her my number. 

She texted to say she wanted to give me a gift voucher if I participate in a special campaign in LAZADA's 10th anniversary. 

She then forwarded me an impressive and credible template of LAZADA’s 10-year anniversary campaign with a 6 digits code prominently displayed. 

She asked for the code and I happily send it to her without a second thought. 

Instantaneously, she texted that I had won $940 and was happy for me. 

“Really? How could I get hold of the S940?”, I replied as I was stunned and overjoyed. 

“Yes really, I’m serious.  You won $940. Please send me your credit or debit card details so that I can transfer the money to you instantly”, she responded. 

By nature, I’m not a finicky nor smart person. 

But somehow by the grace of God, I got a bit suspicious and surprised as to how I could easily get $940 in this manner. 

“Money so easy to earn meh? I asked myself. 

Instinctively, I texted her to call me. 

“I’m in the money transfer phase right now. I’ll call you after I transfer your money.

Don’t worry this information remains confidential.”, she replied. 

Then, a prescient warning struck my mind that I was about to be victimized in a scam. 

I was annoyed and furious. 

“No. You call me now or I can’t give you my card details”. I insisted. 

“Ok, wait”, she answered.

“Please send me your card detail now without further delay or I can’t transfer your money”, she continued. 

“Fuck-Off”. I replied angrily as I knew at that moment she was a scammer. 

Silent followed. 

Instantly, I logged off from Facebook and that was the end of our Messenger correspondence. 

An hour later, a Facebook administrator sent me an email to inform me that my FB account had been hacked and it will be disabled until further notice. 

Nowadays, scammers use sophisticated ploys, ingenious and devious ways to get you to divulge your personal details and part with your money. 

Last year alone, close to 24,000 scam cases are reported in Singapore.

Millions are lost to scammers involving internet online love, e-commerce, lucky draws, impersonation, investments, job and loan scams. 

From this episode, I learned that scammers are extremely crafty and in a moment of indiscretion, I could have been a scam victim. 

This time around, I was lucky. 

Tuesday, 1 February 2022

My Fond Memories - Cycling


Recently, I bought a 20” folder bike from my brother’s shop at cost price and have been cycling leisurely around Bukit Panjang Estate, my birthplace.

Initially, I cycle only on footpaths and mostly to have my breakfast at nearby coffee shops, hawker centers, and food courts. 

Hopefully, after a few more months of cycling, I could venture to other interesting places around my birthplace.

At 75, my stamina and legs are naturally weak from years of sedentary living and working behind a desk for most of my working life and cooped behind the steering of a taxi for the last 10 years. As a lazy bone by nature, I seldom exercise.

When cycling, I can’t complete a minor slope and had to push my bike at every slope. Usually, I’m out of breath after 10 minutes of pedaling.

Nowadays, memories of my halcyon days seem to surface more frequently and vividly than things that happened yesterday.

I can remember my first bike, first fight, and first smoke 60 years ago but I can’t remember what I bought at the supermarket nor what movies I watched on Netflix yesterday.

In this post, I would like to embed some of my fond childhood memories as fun reading for my next generation and you before probable dementia caught up with me.

Growing up in a village as a kid in the fifties, my simple joys were catching fish and spiders, swimming in muddy longkang (drains), flying kites, playing marbles, kasing (spinning tops), and cycling.

My most unforgettable childhood memories are my cycling experience and exploits.

My father worked as a bicycle repairer in his uncle’s bicycle shop along the busy Bukit Panjang road towards Woodlands, near the police station.

He never quit his only job till his uncle’s passing and his son transformed the bicycle shop into a stationery shop.

My dad was then rendered jobless.

Fortunately, my astute grandmother secured a hut, the size of a parking lot, from her close friend in “Ya Sua Bei” (Bukit Panjang Village) and converted it to a “shop” for my father's bicycle business.  

With this tiny shop, my dad was able to feed his large family of ten kids by providing bicycle repair services. No new bicycle was sold there.

Today, my younger brother owns a subsidized HDB bicycle shop in Bukit Batok from this tiny hut under the Government resettlement scheme in the late seventies.

In the fifties, owning a bicycle was a luxury and most bicycles were the “work-horse” (above photo) type used for transportation of goods and travel. None were the sporting or pleasure type like the BMX or Brompton bikes of today.

My dad’s shop was the only bicycle shop in the village and he had an absolute monopoly in his trade.

On their way to work in the morning, villagers would place their faulty bicycles at the shop for repair and return in the evening to collect them. At times, repaired bicycles were uncollected for days

These uncollected bicycles provided me the opportunity to utilize them for my pleasure in cycling, as owning one was beyond my means as a kid.

After school, I would sneak into the shop and ride off in one without my dad's knowledge.

When he came to know of my mischievous activities, he would fatherly warn me to ride safely and return the bike by evening. He was a wonderful and loving dad.

Nobody taught me how to ride a bike.

I was never scared of injuries from falling and my cycling ability somehow came intuitively.

At 10 years old, most bicycles were taller than me.

I could not place my buttock on the seat as my legs were too short to reach the pedals.  

To cycle, I had to place my body through the bicycle frame and pedaled, with hands-on the handle above my head. I was like a monkey riding a big bicycle in a circus show.

I had countless falls, bruises, and injuries when I started cycling in this manner but I never gave up.

With constant practice at cycling within the vicinity of my daddy shop, my confidence and cycling skills improved remarkably within a short time.

Bukit Panjang Village in the fifties was largely forested with a few vegetable and fruit farms, fish ponds, attap dwellings, a stone quarry, and many shallow streams. 

Most villagers live in clusters of attap or zine roofed houses around the trunk road leading to the city. 

With confidence in my riding skill, I would ride deep into the forested village with mostly rough terrains of bumpy potholes, gravel, stone, jagged paths, and narrow wooden bridges crossing shallow streams.  

I could explore and cycle to any place in the village I desire and that sensation of freedom made me feel like I was an eagle soaring through the sky at will. Those were the happiest moments of my life.

That was when I fell in love with cycling and it rewarded me with amazing memories of my childhood days.

I remember riding into a fruit farm to pluck low-lying rambutans and falling into a shallow stream when the dilapidated wooden bridge gave way. I survived the fall without fatal injuries.

I had ferocious dogs barking and chasing me when I cycled past a villager's attap house unannounced and the owner screaming at me to get lost. In one incident, I was bitten at a leg and the bite marks of four holes remain visible till today.

However, one of my most unforgettable incidents was riding downhill and suddenly ridding over an enormously large python crossing my narrow path.

I almost fell from my bike on impact but managed to maintain my balance and rode off safely. If I had fallen and fainted, the merciless large python could have been strangled me to death. Amen!

When I entered secondary school at 13, I think my dad gave me a customer’s discarded bike. But, honestly, I can’t remember how I came to own a bike.

By then I was taller and could ride comfortably with my butt on the seat and legs at the pedals.

On most days, I cycle to school at Bukit Panjang High School with a schoolmate as my passenger. 

We took turns to either be a rider or a pillion rider. 

Like me, he is now retired and was an editor (only job) of Shin Min Daily News.

With one bike, I remember cycling with him from Bukit Panjang to Haw Par Villa (Tiger Balm Garden) at Pasir Panjang and taking many photos with the thousands of statues and dioramas.

On another occasion, we cycled to Mount Emily Swimming Pool at Upper Wilkie Road before it closed in 1982. It was one of only four or five public swimming pools in Singapore.

One of the craziest things we did with my bike was used it like F1 racing motor-bike. 

When the first Singapore Grand Prix for motorbike race was held in 1962 at Thomson Road, we imagined we were motorbike racers too.

The old Bkt Panjang Community Center's basketball court at Lorong Malai became our racing circuit.

We blithely took turns to use one bike and raced against each other in ten rounds within the basketball courts. Whoever clocks the fastest time was the winner with no prizes, just pure excitement, and thrills.

We broke the bike, injured our elbows, and returned home with lots of bruises and scolding.

We were adventurous, young, strong with lots of leg power and stamina but having to do well in school took us away from cycling more often than we like.

In my youth, cycling became less frequent and eventually became a non-activity when I started working.

Today, with vivid memories of my childhood cycling experience, I started leisure cycling again.

I want to enjoy the open air, sun on my face, and wind in my hair plus the sound and smell of the great outdoors while I still can.

And Today happens to be the 1st day of the Chinese Lunar New Year of the Tiger (2022).

As I stayed alone in my flat with no visitors, I either hopped onto my bike or write this story.

I chose the latter.

Wishing All My Chinese readers, “Kong Hee Fatt Choy”. Cheers!!

Friday, 8 October 2021

An Old Man and Covid 19.


If you have been a reader here for a long time (and I thank you for it) you may notice that my posts have become less frequent, almost rare.

That was because at some point after glaucoma blinded my right eye, back pain became my regular companion, dripping urine soil my under pant and forgetting why I entered the kitchen, I realized that age has caught with me and I need to prioritize my remaining time on earth.

That’s easy to say, prioritize but what are my priorities (if any) at this old age? Am I the kind of person who has the grit to achieve what I plan to do or traipse my life aimlessly?.  I think the latter is more likely as lack of motivation is one of my foible...

In Singapore, life expectancy is. about 84 years old.  I’m 75 and theoretically I have 9 years left to bid the last farewell.

Somehow, lately I felt the sense of life finality creeping deeper into my sense of reality especially with the recent passing of my two old friends, aged 75 and 79. 

It’s tough to describe that complex emotional feeling but I know the last leg of my journey is sooner rather than later with the current highly infectious Delta variant in the air everywhere. I am in the group of elderly people who is more vulnerable to the pandemic.

Today (9thOct), 11 more seniors, aged between 56 to 90, have died from complication linked to Covid-19., taking Singapore’s coronavirus death toll to 154. The average age of the dead is 78 and are mainly seniors who had various underlying medical condition. That’s what the Government media says but ordinary folks will never know the true cause of their death.

The media also tersely reminds us not to be alarmed with the current high infection rate of over 3,500 cases and 10 over death a day. They reiterate that death of seniors is an inevitable occurrence. Elderly are going to die one way or the other, sooner or later, a collateral damage, nothing more.

I know human is mortal and death is an eventuality.

I am slowly learning to embrace it but the current Health Ministry's mixed messages are as in double bind. Confusing regulations like restricting my freedom of social interactions, safe distancing, home quarantine and in particular, banning me from having my beer at my favorite coffee shop with my six regular kakis (max. 2 at a table) are what frustrates me. Why five overseas VIP can dine together at a table in a restaurant but not locals?.   

Whatever little "socializing freedom" I have is now gone as I have to confine myself inside my flat as much as possible to avoid getting myself and others infected. Its for your own good they say especially if you are elderly..

The first time I appreciate and value freedom was when I was remanded for a week in a Johore prison for alleged immigration offenses(un-chopped passport). The loss of freedom in a prison was intolerable and an awakening. I was at the mercy of the Malaysian authorities and freedom was uncertain.

Strangely, I felt the current Covid-19 restrictions inflicts the same loss of freedom on me like I was in that Johore prison 15 years ago. 

In comparison, what was my life like before Covid-19, two years ago and now,..in the midst of a serious pandemic?

Before Covid 19, travelling to regional countries was my first love, followed by socializing with old friends like chatting and having meals cum beer in coffee shops.

I remember on October 2019, I planned to visit “The Death Railway” in Thailand with a sixty years old friend who has a girlfriend living near the railway line. It was then that we read of the raging Covid 19 virus in China, causing border lockdowns and death in the thousands there.

Initially, like our PM, we casually dismissed the virus as a seasonal flu. Remember the “Wear Mask Only If You’re Unwell”.

We proceeded with purchase of our air-tickets but eventually got a refund three months later when air travel was banned within a week after our ticket purchase.

Another affinity of mine before Covid19, was drinking beer and exchanging banality in coffeeshop on weekends with old friends. It gives me a reason to stay alive.

Usually, before we got tipsy, we talk about travelling, eating, horse racing, football, kampong days, driving, children and grandchildren, rising cost of living and Covid-19 but never on politics and religion. These two topics are taboo as we are former urchins in modern Singapore.

However, sometimes a bomb or gem is dropped. 

A retard would raise his beer glass and solemnly swear at his mother’s grave that he loves PAP as he just got his $9,000 payout as a taxi driver. 

The table would fall silent for a minute in antipathy and then a smart Alex would pique the group and start to talks about why our crowded MRT trains and buses has no safe distancing enforcement. 

An enjoyable debate on the topic would erupt with most of us cursing PAP’s inept handling of the pandemic.

In retrospect, living the past two years in Singapore with a severe pandemic somewhat changed my perspective of life.

I am no longer anxious or fearful of what lies ahead. My responsibilities to place food on the table and a roof over my family are taken care through a fully paid HDB mortgage, CPF Life, saving and my adult children support.

My wants are plenty but my needs are few.

My friends are becoming fewer and I embrace solitude.

Stressed, senile or depressed for staying more at home alone ?. No, not for me. 

I prefer airy cool home than hot humid weather outside.

I had enough of "running" all over Singapore as a cabby for the last decade. 

Home is relaxing. Netflix, football streaming, browsing Facebook and other social media platforms takes up most of my wakening hours.

Siesta is mandatory and beer drinking is an occasional bonus

Exercising is something I must do but I kept procrastinating.

Cooking and gardening are my new hobbies.

I sleep whenever I am bored or sleepy and by the Grace of God, I have no problem sleeping easily at night.

Sadly, I wake up periodically in the middle of the night to urinate due to enlarged prostate, a normal old age ailment. 

I enjoy simple pleasures of life like smelling the fragrant of blooming flowers in my corridor garden and playing games with my grandchildren.

Generally, I am contented and happy with whatever little I have.

On reflection of my working life as a taxi driver in Singapore for the last 10 years, I think I have been on many roads that are never travelled by most drivers.

I notice the landscape of Singapore has changed dramatically in the last decade.

She looks different by each passing day as new roads are paved and widen, large forested areas are cleared for new housing estates and condominiums, new MRT stations and business hubs are built.  She is undoubtedly becoming a concrete city soon.

If I drive a cab today, I will probably miss my routes. Some locations look strange as familiar landmarks are gone.

Old folks depend on familiarity to get around comfortably and seldom like to venture into unknown areas.

I come from a family selling bicycles and I love cycling since young. But at my present age, cycling can be dangerous although I am a skillful rider and has the energy to paddle the wheels for short distances.

Cycling on our busy Singapore’s roads and sharing with other motorists is like living in a jungle with ferocious animals. They could maul and kill you if you slake in your attention as they are stronger and merciless.

Sadly, walking on our narrow sidewalks is like cycling on the busy roads. Danger is everywhere.

Alas, living my twilight years in the world most expensive city state of Singapore, with few open space, packed MTR trains and buses, and an authoritarian regime with rigid controls and draconian laws, gets me thinking every day of wanting to fly out like a bird in a cage

I dream of living in an wooden house with electricity and clean water along a sandy beach in a Malaysian, Thailand or Philippine village. The cool sea breeze would invigorates me.

This weekend 4D lottery is my only hope to make my dream comes true.

Saturday, 24 July 2021

Reflections on my Present and Departed Friends.

 A dozen of my childhood friends had departed this world in the last decade.

I cherish the time we spent together and will never forget their unforgettable quotes.

In this post, I would like to share with you the antecedent of their departure and my fond memories of each one of them. But first, let me indulged on one of my best friends who is still alive today but is inching toward the end of his tunnel because of terrifying cancer. 

I’ve known this friend "A" since we were 12 in secondary 1 (1961) of the same school. He is the guy who sold live chickens and ducks in the old Bukit Panjang Market in the sixties.

Today, both 75, we are still in touch on a regular basis, mostly on WhatsApp. He checks on me to make sure I’m still alive, that I did not die in my sleep the night before. I check on him too to give him my moral support and fix meeting dates to visit him in his house. 

 “A” is a marine engineer. By nature of his vocational training, he is analytical, rational and cautious in all his dealings and health. 

In his youthful working years, he sailed round the world on commercial ships as a marine engineer and eventually landed in various engineering sales jobs on land. 

 After 30 years, he’s now the boss of his own marine products trading company, with annual revenue in millions.

Rightfully, he should start to relax and enjoy his life after years of toll, particularly when his Imperial College son is running the show.

Sadly, life is unpredictable and fate can be cruel. But he has the grit to overcome adversity.

(P.S. My dearest friend "A" passed away peacefully on 24th Sept 2021(one month after this post). He said he was proud of what were written about him in this post.

This morning (28th.Sept.2021), I sent off my good childhood friend, Goh Boh Leng (A) on his final journey to a better place. 
On reaching home, I received a message from the son of my ex-taxi buddy, Johnny (Link : Why are you still driver at 73 ) that his father passed away peacefully today. 
He was not a Covid case but was warded in ICU for about 10 day for observation after complaining of severe chill and fever. 
Subsequently, he was downgraded to a normal ward in last one week. He called me one week ago to ask me to buy for him 4D. He sounded fine and  I reminded him to call me when he returned home. 
I never received his call. 
My friends are becoming lesser now. Rest-In-Peace My Departed Friends, Amen.)

I’ve another childhood friend “B” of 70+ age, in almost the same predicament as “A”. 

 “B” was a normal pioneer generation guy with a Senior Cambridge Certificate in the late sixties. 

 Jobs were hard to find in those days. Most cohorts join either the police, army, nurse or civil service. 

Tall, well-build and handsome, “B” joined the army after secondary school and within a few years, rose to the rank of an enviable Captain. 

He’s a calm, honest and lady’s man with no temper. 

His only indulgence then was mahjong games with friends and smoking. 

At the peak of his army career, another close friend of ours, invited him to join his expanding marine and shipbuilding company as his right-hand man. 

The company prospered within two decades, so did “B”. 

“B” became a multi-millionaire after the company was listed in the main board and subsequently sold to an Arab conglomerate for billions. 

Deservedly, “B” retired and prepared for a life of relaxation. 

Sadly again, fate is cruel on my friend “B”. 

Within a few years into his retirement and out of the blue, he was afflicted with muscular dysfunctional diseases. 

He is now wheel-chaired, almost blinded and needs a maid to help him perform his personal hygiene. 


Each time when I think of my good friends, “A” and “B”, my heart bleeds in sadness. 

Thursday, 25 June 2020

Singapore Government Under PAP after LKY's hand

In looking through my journal recently, I came across a summary of a passenger's rhetoric on Singapore Government under PAP.

Here is one story in my journal that stands out from the rest.

January 31, 2019 -- I picked up a sixty-something Chinese man in Jurong and drove him to the airport, a thirty-minute ride, at 4 a.m. 

He told me he worked for many years as an accountant in various MNC and was leaving Singapore for good. He was joining his son in New Zealand and planned to work part-time or retire there.   

"Why are you leaving Singapore for good?," I asked him.

"I love Singapore, my birthplace but I hate PAP....The f***k.*@%"x! party". 

I was shocked beyond words and almost fell off my driving seat.

Before I could interrupt him in his sudden and long rhetoric that lasted the whole trip, he fished out his cellphone and asked me for my phone number. He wished to Whatsapp me a summary of his loathing of PAP and I obliged out of courtesy.

I kept his interesting abomination of PAP till today and would like to share it with you now in the spirit of an imminent Singapore general election.


50 reasons why I hate PAP. 

1. PAP is not pro-worker. If anything, it is pro-GIC, pro-Temasek and pro-billionaires. PAP rigged the economy to favor the rich, powerful, and well-connected, thereby widening the income inequality gap between rich and poor Singaporeans. Our country is rich but for a minority privileged few. Imagine, the bottom 10% worker income is about $7/hr, the average worker about $25/hr, and the top 10% worker is $300/hr.  

2. The CPF Ordinary and Special accounts accumulated a total of S$272.8 billion but only S$6.4 billion or only 2% could be withdrawn for retirement purposes. On the other hand, 98% is taken by the PAP to invest in GIC, and accessible by Temasek Holdings.

3. The Medisave accumulated a total of S$102 billion, but only S$1.1 billion, or only 1% could be withdrawn for direct medical expenses.

Again, most of the rest of the 99% is invested in the GIC, and accessible by Temasek Holdings.

4. The MediShield Life, accumulated a total of S$8.3 billion, but only S$1.0 billion or only 12% were paid out in claims.

Again, GIC invests most of the rest of the balance, which is also accessible by Temasek Holdings.

 Only the Singapore government keeps such high surplus.

 5. 60% of a HDB flat price goes to land costs–land which the PAP owns and profits from.

Again, the land money goes to GIC, and Temasek Holdings.

Singapore is rich but most Singaporean are poor because most of the money is used to empower and enrich the GIC, and Temasek Holdings in their investment activities. How much of their investment gains is utilized to help poor Singaporeans?

6. With no minimum wage policy, there is negative real wage growth over the last 15 years. For political reason, PAP prefers to pay wage subsidies disguised PAP's assistances instead of implementing a minimum wage scheme.

7. PAP had failed miserably in trying to solve the low productivity of the Singapore economy that still depends on cheap foreign labor. 

8. PAP's many dismay social policies are the main cause of Singapore's Low Birth Rate, albeit started by LKY’s Stop @ 2 policy.

9. The sharp rise in the costs of living, housing, education, healthcare, and transport making Singapore the most expensive city to live in. GST to be raised to 9% between 2021 -2025.

10. (7), (8) and (9) resulted in a lower standard of living for Singaporeans. You can forget about GCT's Swiss Standard of Living and his FIFA World Cup goal. All BS! Post note: Lau Goh, now retired to enjoy his Swiss Standard of Living.

11. PAP initially kept secret its pro-foreign businesses and labor policies because it knew it was screwing Singaporeans. Out of 3.8 million workforces in Singapore, 1.5 million (40%) are foreigners. 

12. The CECA 2005 trade agreement with India allows unlimited inflow of cheap professionals with dubious qualifications and experiences to easily work in Singapore, thereby inevitably depressing wages and stole jobs of local professionals (PMET) and forcing many of them to become Grab/Taxi drivers. In return, India allows only GLC (Govt. Linked Companies) to invest in big projects there with no benefits to local Singaporeans.

13. Foreigners taking jobs away from Singaporeans when these foreigners are willing to accept wages as low as $500/month with housing, transport, and food provided. Can a Singaporean family survive at this wage or even $1000/month with HDB mortgages, food, transport, utilities, children's education, and health care expenses?.

14. Foreign students taking away places in local schools and universities that could have gone to Singaporeans.

15. Do you know that all SAP and autonomous schools are required by MOE to recruit a certain number of China students as scholars each year? These China scholars' school fees and lodging are fully paid for by PAP and they do not have to serve any bonds. 70% of these Government scholars break their bond, wasting taxpayers' money.

16. PAP broke a promise to payout CPF on retirement at 55. With no CPF money in hand at retirement, elderly folks have to clean tables, collect cardboard and sweep roads (not for exercise or boredom) to survive in this most expensive city-state in the world.

17. PAP does not want to tell Singaporeans the actual cost of building HDB flats and selling land to its own citizens at market rates. HDB is, therefore, selling over-priced HDB flats (prices doubled over the last 5 years) and profiteering at the expense of Singaporeans.

18. GCT created a property bubble as part of its Asset Enhancement Scheme. In reality, after 99 yrs HDB flats have zero value CPF accounts depleted after paying for HDB flat.

19. Only in Singapore, people have to sell or downgrade their homes to retire or else work into the seventies of their life or death.

20. PAP is dishonest with the Electoral Boundaries Review Committee. This committee is composed of civil servants and supposed to be independent but its under the control of the PM. Its not surprising that constituencies which saw close contests were merged or erased in the subsequent election.

21. PAP shamelessly encourages blatant double-standard routinely in policy enforcement like discriminately against low wage migrant workers compared to foreign talents and expatriates. Adding to my pax's rant in hindsight, I think PAP's MP broke C.B. rules go scotch free with no punishment while an old uncle fined $300 for a similar offense.

22. A Singapore student is fined $400 for using an unmarked power outlet in MRT station but PAP grassroots leaders get free public parking coupons.

23. No conflict of interest when the Auditor General audit her husband's Defend Ministry while he is a Senior Minister of State there.

24. Adverse accounting rating for PA (People Association) financial reports and yet its CEO is slated to stand for G.E. as a new PAP candidate. Where is the credibility of this PAP person?.

25. PAP ministers control and politicized POFMA.  The power should be taken from the Ministers and civil servants and given to an independent group. POFMA can be abused to silent critics.

26. PAP divides Singaporean for its own political agenda. We have no say in many things they did like the walk-over President. Only the PAP decides and it didn't care as they are prepared to pay a political price. Rightly so as 70% endorsed them.

27. PAP's population White Paper is flawed in many aspects. Its primary purpose is to boost GDP to enrich themselves as Ministers salaries are pegged to GDP and also to provides more gambling chips for GIC and Temasek. 

28. Many PAP MP abused their political positions to earns extra millions from directorships fee. The MP who has the most directorships in 2004 were Bukit Timah MP Wang Kai Yuen and Tampines GRC MP Ong Kian Min, each with 10 directorships. Most PAP MPs say no to cap on directorships. Why?.

29. To stay in power, PAP controls all trade unions, newspapers, radio, TV, People Association, Election Dept, and Presidency like in a dictatorship regime.

30. Frequent breakdowns of MRT and commuters suffered helplessly while a paper army general enjoys his million pay with no repercussions.

31. Failed privatization of public transport requiring billions in bailout and re-nationalization from Govt.

32. Public transport makes tens of millions each year, has frequent breakdowns, and gets $2b bailout from Government yet fares are raised.

33. PAP is out of touch with reality (Nasi Padang: $2.50 and Bandung: $0.50). PAP is an elitist party...for the rich and well connected. Vastly different from LKY's era ministers who really cares for the poor and Singapore. PAP has lost its way.

34. Rampant corruption in the Civil Service – FAS, SCDF, MFA, NCB, MDA, NParks, CPIB but PAP swiped all accusations under the carpets.

35. Lack of foresight. In today's context, Covid19 virus in foreign workers' dormitories is unexpected.

36. Big dormitories owners and operators are mainly PAP's lackeys. They make millions annually with horrendous over-crowded living quarters and when they flouted rules governing their businesses, MOM closed their eyes. COVID 19 opened their cans of worms.

37. P.A. (People Association) is a powerful tool of the PAP. It should be de-politicized as she is used to favour defeated PAP candidates over elected opposition MP.

38. PM's wife's salary is a State Secret.

39. Instead of answering questions on CPF, our PM prefers to sue a commoner for defamation. He also sued another commoner who simply shared a Facebook post without comment albeit that embarrassing post was about his family affair and its originator was his sister. 

40. Minister Edwin Tong's annual salary of $1.3 is not enough to feed his family and GCT agreed that Ministers are not paid enough. The latter claimed that any person who earns less than half a million annually is mediocre.

41. PAP MP guilty of overcharging client, no investigation nor reprimand.

42. Medishield Life: No subsidy for asset-rich, cash-poor Singaporeans.

43. No transparency. Nobody knows how much is in our National Reserve, how much losses in GIC & Temasek, GEO salary, etc...

44. Amend Constitution to deprive TCB of contesting, resulting in a walk-over President in a democratic country. Where is the legitimacy? Only a dictator could amend the constitution as he likes.

45. Abuse power to avoid demolishing 32 Oxley Road's house for political reasons and use parliament with 90% own party members to defend own self.

46. Own self check Own self. Own self Pay Own self. Legal corruption.

47. Employ all sorts of dirty tricks to fix the Opposition in all G.E. like gerrymandering electoral boundaries and dissolving constituencies if Opposition nearly won like Joo Chiat SMC in 2011 G.E. The dirtiest trick is abusing GRC to coattail untested, flawed and rejected candidates into parliament, some of whom became ministers. Isn't this a devilish diversion from the original purpose of GRC to entrench minority representation in parliament?

48. Cleverly using citizens' money in Singapore's Reserve to give generous cash handouts in a pre-determined G.E. to buy votes but deceived the uninitiated that the handouts are PAP's sincere efforts to help them tie over the pandemic. 

49. Give easy citizenship to foreigners to ensure 100% PAP's Parliament with this guaranteed New Citizens' votes. NS men still dying while FTs new citizens do not do NS.

50. Finally, PAP employs fear tactics to stay in power for decades. 

They say without PAP, Singapore will collapse :

you'll lose your job, the value of your flat will drop, your sister and daughter will become a maid in other countries, your estate will become a slum, will sue you till your pant drops, label you a traitor, if you're a loving critic like Alfian Sa'at.


A question that puzzles my whole life is "Why 65% - 70% of Singaporeans are still voting PAP, elections after elections? Why?

I'm a loyal Singaporean in my twilight years. I love Singapore but never voted for PAP except when LKY was in charge in the eighties. I do not trust the 4G, period.

I think we need more opposition members in parliament to bring PAP to accountability for their many failures and get them to show transparency in their dealings. Absolute power corrupts ultimate.