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Big 40

I just bought a new mechanical keyboard for my computer and so I decided to pop by my blog to write something.  Wow,  haven't wrote anything for more than a year.  hahaha

I just turn 40 in August this year.  Which means my NS liability is finally over.  Didn't managed to get the final milestone but at least I can proudly say I had served my country.  It's quite surreal actually.  Most of the guys I know cleared their NS in their early 30s or even for the worst cast scenario, around 38.  Just 2 years short from the cut off point.  If not, they were just totally exempted from this whole spectacle.   A bit of mixed feeling on my last day to report to camp.  Exhilarated initially when I signed off for the very last time (the RP was staring at my laughing face when I returned my T-Pass, thinking I'm mad) but felt a bit sad too when I was taking the train home.   

I have been staying most of my time in Maesai since my last update.  Basically spending money from my stock dividends and so far I could say it's still quite comfortable.  Have to be really careful on buying things but over here, expenses are getting more expensive over here too.   I guess the everywhere is the same too.

My next adventure will be trying to get a PR in Thailand so I don't really need to go through the Visa runs every 3 months. I might document this over here if it helps but so far,  I just went to BKK to ask around and it's a bit complicated.  Will share once I have more time.  Now back to painting and building more plastic models.  :)  

We lost something today.

Disclaimer:
In no way this is to be treated as an academic historical paper or the absolute truth.   It's just an opinion piece I penned one last time for my own leisure and of course, for our leader Lee Kuan Yew.  There will some good and nasty things  I will write about him so extreme LKY's worshipers (those who ignored his past deeds and want to whitewash him) and haters, please go away.  We are not on the same channel.  And for the rest,  I believe you already have your own opinions on the old man but I hope you can read on.  Click on some of the links I shared and form your own new opinions on the man.    This posts will have some video links and also some historical facts that I know.  Most of them are pulled from the Internet so it might not be correct as I need something to reference upon on, If readers do spot a mistake,  please just drop me a comment and I will correct them.

History is important to me.   It's a form of  way to identify myself as a Singaporean Chinese.  I enjoy reading Ancient Chinese history to lean more about my roots but I especially love reading Singapore's history as I am a true born 3rd generation Singaporean.  I also love his-story as I am fascinated with people.   People with powers that shape future generations to come.

Lee Kuan Yew is one such character.

I actually started to write about him again while he was critically ill in bed but I decided to stop when I saw the euphoria of some of his haters online.  And indeed, those who adore him started to condemn those who are happy about his inevitable demise.   People then started taking sides and posting irrational thoughts, provoking each others.  Some called for unity.  Some called for respect.  Some ask others to go fuck themselves   I'm of course, indifferent about the whole death issue as all men will die some day.  But all these hate and love on one single person? Then followed by the mourning and the long queue to pay a last visit to an empty shell.   Don't you want to know why leh? I want to know and I think I know. :P

People likes to simplify things.  I tends to complicate them.  So for this piece.  I will just list out the good and bad things that people say about him that I agree with.

The good
1) He's charismatic, good looking and definitely an intellectual who posses some wisdom to guide our country. Just look around us now.  Singapore as a country is successful and rich.  There's no denying it that he helped to shape it into this.  Of course he had help from others like Goh Keng Swee and Dr Albert Winsemius.  But at least for those haters who say he's a dictator, he did listened to their suggestion and implemented them.   And for those worshipers who are still reading or clueless.  No.  Singapore is not a "fishing" village when he took over.
2) He's a tough and strong willed leader who can bring the best out of people.  "People, especially the ministers and senior government officials working under him literally fears him"  one of his critics and ex ISD detainee Francis Seow said. Such fears normally will push oneself to excel.  It's not the best way but I agree it's one of the ways to do it.
3) He's not corrupt.  He's frugal in his expenses.  I had heard rumours that he enjoyed expensive whiskey or wine but I think that's fine.  All man have some sins.   Same old shirt and briefcase for years..... I sincerely love the windbreaker he always wears to parliament sittings.  This frugality also extended to his family members.  I think Tin Pei Ling will faint if she is part of the family.   Also not to forget he's not in this for the money.  The CIA bribe scandal is also another good indication.
4) He's a loving, devoting father and husband.  Although last time no instagram but there are enough pictures in his memoir and on the Internet to proof that :P   I especially feel the love in this and this video on youtube.
5) He's hardworking and put Singapore 1st.   Countless accounts of civil servants says he work hard everyday and when he speaks, is mostly about Singapore.  There's no denying that.
6) He's a master orator.  Period.  ND rally  and election speeches was so much more interesting during his era.
7) He's gentle, kind and approachable.   Some of  you might go HAR!!???  But sad to say this is genuine.  I once had a very brief encounter with him.  My friend and I went to Marina Barrage to shoot but we got ourselves right in the middle of a PAP convention .  So we retreated and took a long walk towards the Marina Bay MRT station.  Along the road, we saw the whole road empty with traffic.  A limo stopped just beside the road and there he is, the old man was in the car heading towards the convention.  I made eye contact with him, he smiled at me 1st  and I smiled and waved back.  He actually waved back and the car drove off.  No high horse or attitude or a fake smile.  A very genuine and sincere one I would say.  There are, of course other countless people who have the chance to talk to him and find him the same way.  I will explain why this is such a big contrast to what others says of him. This love of the people is like a Lord or a King loving his subjects.  He is concern with our livelihood as he felt responsible for our well beings.  Not exactly bad but I would not say it's exactly good too as his world view is that people are born with a difference.  Some are more "elite" then others.

The bad
1) He's a bully, a gangster and power crazy.  Especially to his political opponents or those with influences and opposes him. I think I can list a very long list of names.  But some notables are  during Operation Coldstore in 63 and 66. People like Chia Thye Poh (32) , Said Zahari (17), Lim Hock Siew(17),  Dr Poh Soo Kai (19) and others.  I named the 1st four because they were imprisoned without trial for the longest period of time.  The brackets beside the name is not the age but the years spent in detention.  The links are video interviews that was made but please don't treat them as the absolute truth.  But it serves a good understanding on who LKY targets and how his opponents felt about him.  Then in 1987.  Operation Spectrum sees another wave of arrests.   This could be the main gist of his flaw.  He also stayed too long in power.  From Senior Minister to Minister Mentor!  What a title!  The rest of the founding fathers have already retire from politics or not involved in cabinet meetings.  But he stayed on till 2011!
2) He's ruthless and authoritative. Even Mr Dhanabalan who said it that he was ruthless to all who would undermine his authority.  It's not easy to work for such a boss.
3) He's cunning,calculative and not trustworthy.  In the declassified British documents  The late Tunku Abdul Rahman and Lord Selkirk does not have good words for him.
4) He practices nepotism.  Giving various high senior government position to his own people.  This is not surprising as he needs to consolidate his power and control.
5) He's greedy and a hoarder of money.  This seems to be contradictory to point that he's not corrupt.  But being frugal and not accepting bribes does not mean he's not greedy.  There are people who likes to see money in their bank grows indefinitely for no apparent reason.  He may not spend it but he just loves to hoard it.  How he acquires the money will be another room to debate for but the fact is that he acknowledges that ministers needs to be paid according to the highest income group shows he enjoys being wealthy.
6) He's egocentric, living in his own grandiose.  I think the books, the state funeral of his wife and allowing all those ass lickers surrounding him is a good indication that he likes to hear people say great things about him.
7) He's a coward.  Yup.  He's scared.  Scared of all the bad things that might happen if he loses power and all.  His public persona is always a strong and fearless man but I believe underneath he is damn scared of those whom he finds are his equals. This is quite easy to spot as when faced with challenges to his authority.  He uses backstabbing and underhanded methods to solve them rather than with the rule of law. Eg. like the ISA. and lawsuits .  J. B. Jeyaretnam, Dr Chee and Mr Tang Liang Hong.   He's also highly suspicious on people who would undermine his rule.

7 good points and 7 bad.

There are more like he's a racist towards our Malay brothers and sisters but I think he had no choice in that.  He needs the Chinese voter base to consolidate his power.  I sincerely don't think he is racist but I do apologise to my fellow Malay Singaporeans for the biased treatment under his rule.   Those who knows me well knows I hate hypocrites and he's seems not.  He did said in his books that he don't believe in western style democracy and so he didn't deny its all just a cover up.  I'm still struggling with these 2 points so I left them out.

I believe majority of my fellow Singaporeans on both end of the spectrum agrees with my assessment and some of them in the middle ground like me still find it sad to see him go and have an unknown urge to pay him a last respect.  It's perfectly normal and make sense because he did indeed became a part of our heritage.  Majority of the Singaporeans did not even know our own Singapore history well.  Which is to me quite sad and why I wrote this post.    Most of our heritage are torn down for the sake of "progress".   The only person we knew well together and closely tied to our history is Lee Kuan Yew himself.  One of  the founding father of modern Singapore.  Whenever we go overseas, we'll be surprised to hear our foreign friends knew about a person called LKY.   From young, we're educated sub-consciously that he is the embodiment of Singapore.  Just look at the euphoria and joy every time when the old man shows up for NDP!   So whenever one of our heritage or national identity are destroyed, we felt something is lost.  And for the supporters and haters, we did lost something today.

So would I pay my last respect to him in person and mourn.  Not really.  I find that a lot of the current problems we face in Singapore is actually the legacy of the old man himself.  Due to his authoritarian style of rule. Majority of the Singaporeans became too dependent on the government and thus,  lost the ability to think critically and paints everything in just plain black or white/ true or false argument.

I also don't believe in wearing black or mourning together is a way to send him off.  It creeps me off actually.   I don't think he will like it either as he clearly stated he did not want to be worshiped after he's dead. He don't want to be embalmed and put in a display case like Chairman Mao.  Instead,  I'm actually glad he's finally out of the picture so we can reorganise ourselves as fellow Singaporeans and move on.  This is so pragmatic Lee Kuan Yew style isn't it? :)

RIP LKY.

The Full Carl Sagan Series 1-9 HD

If you haven't heard of Carl Sagan then at least watch this series.  Please don't give excuses like "no time".  Just watch it like your latest soap opera drama or movie.  It's an eye-opener.  


Nespresso and mycoffeestar combo


 I like drinking espresso coffee but I just dislike the mess of making one.  A good press is also expensive and difficult to maintain if I don't drink enough.  I had thoughts of getting a single serve Nespresso capsule machine while in Singapore but as I am currently staying in a 山龟 (rural) area in Thailand, it will be difficult for me to get the capsules readily if I ran out.

Yes, there are online shipping options but because Thailand taxes heavily on import coffee, it's crazy to even think of getting them overseas and shipped into the country without being slapped by a heavy penalty.

Another thing that puts me off is the amount of waste it generates.  Yes they do recycle their capsules in Singapore but not here in Thailand.

Those reasons above put me off of getting a machine until I discovered this refillable capsule from mycoffeestar.  It's expensive but actually worth it in the long run.  I get to choose locally produced Thai coffee which are pretty good.  Especially those Arabica beans grown in the North.   It's less wasteful and not so much of a hassle then a real coffee press machine.  The small Nespresso machine does not leave a big footprint in my kitchen so it's a win win.

Making a cup with a refillable capsule is not that difficult.  The only attention you need to be specific is the grind size of your coffee and you're set to go.  Grind it fine but not too fine .  My experience is about similar grind size like drip coffee.

Of course, I still drink Nespresso capsules once in a blue moon or if I want a quick coffee fix or I want to splurge myself.  But for my current morning routine.  I can easily whipped up a double shot latte with this combo.  And speaking of double shot,  I bought one more set from coffeestar recently to make my double shots even easier.  :P    

I am still shooting.

My cameras are still with me and I still shoot but I am even more selective on the photos I wish to share on the Net.  Not so much of privacy concerns but one of the reason is because of the sheer volume of photos on the Net.  Selfies, groupies,  food photos and even my wife is starting to dump photos into her facebook account.  I know its a free space to share but can at least edit a bit anot?  I see people dump over 200 photos of their travel photos with tons that are just out of focus and underexposed.   I know it has been like that ever since facebook has an easier way to upload photos in batches but it's even more serious nowadays and I got a little bit fatigued in looking at a picture on my monitor.  Which leads to the 2nd reason why I stop posting to facebook
.

My bloody printer.  :P   Ever since I got myself a serious photo printer,  I printed most of my recent works on my Canon Pro 100 and they are just simply different .  A physical piece of paper with my picture on it is 100x better then the same picture viewed on a computer monitor.

Ask those who prints their photos seriously and they will give you the same conclusion.  If you really want to appreciate your own piece of work as a photographer then just print it out,  print it large (at least 8x10), print it with a proper printer or lab, and you will know and understand why a printed photo is so awesome. :)




My 3 month hiatus is over.



I have not disappeared or died in Thailand yet.  :P  I have not been writing anything because I just gave myself a self imposed 3 month hiatus from complaining and personal reason.   It's surprisingly not that tough as I have not been writing a lot ever since I quit my job.  There are tons of crazy things happened in both Singapore and Thailand during these 3 months that I wish I could write and blog them down for future reference but I was able to choose not to do it.

I even tried to impose myself to have limited access to facebook and twitter.  This  restricted access to the Net is not really working as I still frequent facebook on my phone to check on latest trends and news almost everyday while I waited at the school to pick up my kids.

So for the pass 3 months,  I  re-read some books, watched the latest Dr Who (which is pretty awesome), visited some tea and strawberry farms (see pic above),  became a coffee addict by getting a Nespresso machine and manual coffee grinder,  learnt to fly a small drone (Syma X5c), watched some old Chinese lectures on our ancient Chinese philosopher, self taught myself on rainbow loom charms, signed up with Ello and still waiting for their bloody reply and invite, and completed some home DIY projects.

I think I did more then the list but I guess you kinda guess I am enjoying myself over here in L.O.S.

Hiatus is over and I will try to write more but I guess nobody bothers to read blogs nowadays.  Tweets and Facebook status updates are more trendy.

Public Transport in Singapore?

Decided to write a post after all the media hoo haa on this incident in ST.

Rugby: ACS(I) to charter five MRT trains for C Division rugby final at National Stadium 
They are people out for blood for this incident.  Their arguments are mainly the MRT rail is actually a public transport and why should public utilities be allowed to charter private events.  Some silly defenders will say they are chartered buses what.  How come got difference meh?  Big difference.   How so?  If we charter a bus, the road that the bus is driving on still belongs to the public and other cars and buses could still drive on the same road.  Rails?  Not possible in Singapore right?  This is because we only have single-way tracks and not multi tracks like other countries.    So in short, this incident kinds of like ACS "chopp"  a dedicated public road to National Stadium and not allowing other vehicles to use it at the same time.  So that's why LTA have the right to be pissed.

But this opens to another observations I see on social media.  Singaporeans still sincerely believes we have "public" transport.  Sorry to say its all incorporated and privatised during Goh Chok Tong era.  SMRT in 2000,  SBS in 1997.  So is our Electricity, Water and postal service.

So please don't be naive and think that these companies will serve in the best interest of the public. Their bottom line is to make more profits for the shareholders.