Of Love and Respect for an Honourable Leader

Screen Shot 2016-08-23 at 0.15.53

Photo credit: The Washington Post


A nation almost fell into a crisis on 21 August 2016.

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong (LHL) was giving the National Day Rally on the podium when he suddenly fell to his right; his face was visibly paler with beads of sweat on his left forehead before he had taken ill. My first thought was, “Was it a stroke?”

The camera quickly cut to the audience; however, the director probably did not anticipate the reaction of the audience to be very telling that something bad was happening to my Prime Minister. A young, Indian girl in her school uniform sat up, covered her mouth with her hand to express shock and fear.

Then the National Day Rally was suspended; for 80 long minutes. That must have been the longest dinner buffet ever served at a public service event. 

When the PM recovered, his wit and humour were still very much intact and the incident proved useful for him to illustrate the importance of succession planning.

As PM LHL continued on delivering the important speech to set the nation’s forecast and vision for the following year, my tired and jaded heart plumped up with pride.

PM Lee has proven that he is indeed, the right man for this job then, and now. I am grateful for a Prime Minister who puts the nation above self. Yes, there are issues and policies that I do not agree with; but that’s a different story.

Have you seen how other leaders are hurting their own people and land?


I must have been 19 or 20. I was a member of the Young People Action Party (YPAP). I dragged my bestest friend, J to ZOUK, a club that was popular in the early 2000s because PM Lee  and his cabinet will be engaging with the YPAP at the club.

I had brought along a TIME magazine where PM Lee was on the cover. I was such a groupie; choosing to sit at the outer bar area so that I could get a chance to have PM Lee autograph on the magazine cover. He did with a tinge of hesitation and awkwardness; but not without his handsome bodyguards giving me the dirty look before they surrounded him to create a barrier between PM Lee and me…as if my black pen (from a random hotel) would become a weapon.


I have loved my PM since then. The kind of love that is part-gratitude, part-respect.

I also recognise that he probably has other talents and interests which he had to give up to be in this position of immense stress and responsibilities. Forgive me as I continue to share my alternative perspective and unhappiness on what could have been.

My courage and expectations come from Mr LKY, Mr Goh Chok Tong and you, PM Lee, because you have made it possible for me to be confident and knowledgable.

Thank you, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Long for taking care of Singapore and our needs, protecting and guiding Singapore into a better spot.

Please rest up well, Mr Lee. I hope you get some well-deserved break soon.


Of Suffering and Pain

“To live is to suffer, to survive is to find some meaning in the suffering.” ― Friedrich Nietzsche

Shadow, North Bawlyn, Victoris

“I think I’ll start a new life, I will start over where no one knows my name.” (Boston by Augustana) 

Have you ever fought against a crushing pain and problem all your life; only to have no solution against this pain? All the good fights you have won have amounted to nothing and the defeating moments are only made much worst when the perpetrator gets away scot-free while you continue to support and provide the people who truly matters.

In C. S. Lewis’s The Problem of Pain, Lewis spoke of “mental pain being less dramatic than physical pain, but it is more common and also more hard to bear. The frequent attempt to conceal mental pain increases the burden.”

This pain – it doesn’t go away.

This pain – it drills into me, sucks out the life and energy out of me.

This pain eats away at the core of my resilient core; leaving me empty and numb.

But I have to go on because this pain makes me even more determined to thrive better. To change what must be changed. It keeps reminding me that no matter how meaningless a pain (some people are great pains too) can be, it is pertinent to protect the family unit.

Because there is no way out but to continue charging forward, I will absorb this pain and burden; I will continue to work on protecting what matters most to me, over the material.

There is really nothing that matters more than what holds up this heart…the ties that bind.

And protect the house, I must.


Of Escapism and Growing pains

I could remember 11 August 2011 very well.

I climbed up six flights of stairs; with the smell of cigarettes and alcohol hanging in the air. I knocked on the blue wooden door, waiting in anticipation to start my new job after completing my studies in Melbourne, Australia.

The door did not open. I waited.

I was full of hope; believing that the Universe had heard my wishes.  I spent the last few days of the 2o11 Australian winter thinking about what and where I want to work; and as luck would have it; i did end up having what i wanted.

The door finally opened. A grouchy lady opened the door and asked if I was making a courier service. I said that I was reporting for my first day of work. She then turned around and shouted to the back of the office, “DID ANYONE HIRE A NEW PERSON?”

So it has been five, long years. 11 August 2016 was like any other day except that this phrase from Night Flight kept appearing in my mind, floating in and out as I make my way around the world:

“We do not pray for immortality, but only not to see our acts and all things stripped suddenly of all their meaning; for then the utter emptiness of everything reveals itself.”
― Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

That utter emptiness floods me; carrying me into a mode of flight and escapism.
But even that unfortunate emptiness is part of me, my belonging and my burden.


“When we find a purpose that is bigger than ourselves, we become more powerful in our ability to create.” – Jack Delosa

Five years is a long time. I should snap out of those growing pains. (I have, really.)

It’s time for me to find that purpose.

Today, I shall begin working for a different outcome

I am more resilient than i give myself credit for.

Looking back at all the occasions where I have to step up to do more or deal with a crisis, I counted many times where even at the end of a tunnel, I have not given up.

Resilience comes with resourcefulness, perhaps. I am always full of ideas and while not all are great ideas; some of them do provide a better alternative.

Nothing could get me down when I am on a mission.
I fight for the forgotten. I speak up against the Powers-to-be because I know I can make a difference. I am not afraid to be an outcast because I know who my friends are.

I am willing to be the sacrifice if I could speak up for the rest who can’t or are afraid to.

I will not explain myself to those who judge through their lens of bias-ness, self-righteousness. There is nothing to explain when the other party does not want to listen.

I am good at reading people. My sensitivity is often hidden because I prefer honesty to covering up the truth.

And you… You told me I need to be more proactive. And I know what goes on in your petty little mind.

My proactiveness does not come in the form of chasing down answers nor banging on the door. My proactiveness is seen and felt through my conversations and time spent with my stakeholders. My relationships with my stakeholders outlive projects and products.

My understanding of the social construct within this unique, shared sphere is deep and wide. I am proud of the answers I hold because they were learnt through a tough time of self-discovery.

So yes, I have decided that I must focus my time and energy for positive outcomes. I deserve better because I have so much to offer and give.

Thank you for showing me how it is like to be marginalised. I have never been treated this way and i know, I will never forget this feeling. It will help me be a better humanitarian; colleague, friend and manager.

Thank you for giving me the opportunity to reflect on my development gaps – I am eternally grateful to be able to learn how to better improve myself.

I wish you well.

I will always be living better and happier because i deserve it.





An Open letter to Mr Patrick L Smith

When I was younger, I wanted to be an investigative journalist. I want to expose people who didn’t do their jobs well. Why was I obsessed with exposing these people of their misdeeds?

When I was nine, I argued with a Form teacher, a Mrs Paul. She made me stand in front of the class, facing the blackboard. The reason for my argument? I was reading a book with these lines, “…when he was sleeping underneath a tree, a spirit came up to him and tore off his genitals.” [a story by Catherine Lim). Mrs Paul insisted that I was reading pornography. Sheesh.

When I was 10, my Form teacher (a Madam P) slapped a classmate (a girl by the name of Shankri) on the face because Shankri was speaking to me. I was the one who was favoured and had perhaps, caused Shankri to be hit. Bad teachers and examples I’ve had.

Today, I am reminded that journalists hold a very important role in societies. Well, at least in societies where people are generally educated and have an interest in the true well-being of their countries and communities.


My country’s founding father, Mr Lee Kuan Yew passed away on 23 March 2015. It was a loss that affected even the most stoic and critical Singaporeans I know. It was indeed a watershed moment for Singapore. Perhaps, it is Election year. Whatever it may be, the late Mr Lee’s contributions to Singapore begun from 1959. There is a Chinese term, “没有功劳也有苦劳” / Even if there were no rewards, there were efforts made.”
Today, I came across an article on The Salon, Lee Kuan Yew is finally dead — and America’s elites are eulogizing a tyrant and psychological monster. I wish no journalists will ever take Patrick L Smith as a role model because his article carries nothing but his bitter tales when he was living in Singapore which couldn’t be more wrong. Smith’s words were made of sweeping general statements which are unfounded, false and misleading.

Half-truths are the worst because it feeds the weak minds with poison while pretending to be an antidote.


An Open Letter to Mr Patrick L Smith:

Your words, Mr Smith, show how misinformed and out of touch you have been since you’ve stepped foot into Singapore. Whoever you hung out with when you were in Singapore, i am sorry that you had such a bad time in Singapore. Yes, the career didnt work out. After all, one’s credibility and reputation as a journo is everything, isn’t it? The FEER was interesting only for its narrow perspective (never seen such bad journalism ever) and let’s be truthful,  it wasn’t quite as honourable as you made it out to be. Your words do not value-add to making your readers any more well-informed but are laced with your pompous point of view as if you have had any experience running a nation without any resources nor support. Seeing many readers commenting on how well your article is written makes me worried about their sense of judgement and the future of their children’s/companies’/countries’ well-being and future.

As a Singaporean, I will urge you to not try to interfere with how we Singaporeans judge our politicians and founding leader. You did NOT know why the Late Mr Lee was hard on the Barisan Socialis. Please don’t speak as if you were in Singapore during the tough times we had when the Malaysian Federation deal fell through. Tough choices had to be made then.

You said, “Singapore’s tragedy is that its people allowed one man to humiliate them as deeply within themselves as Lee did. This is the hole they may have a chance to climb out of now. We will have to see.”

Truth be told, I am proud to be a Singaporean. There was never a hole of humiliation. We were protected and given the tools to succeed on any world’s stage. We, Singaporeans, do very well what we decided we can be good at.

Perhaps, Humiliation was what you went through – using mistruths and disinformation in order to sensationalise whatever publication you were with then. Singaporeans have never been more proud to have a founding leader and father in Lee Kuan Yew. Yes, we do have our issues with our Government (but bad food isn’t one of them as one commentator mentioned. Poor fella. I wondered what he ate!) but we will manage our domestic issues, thank you very much. We don’t need any foreign journalists trying to tell us what is right or should have been. We are thankful for the “no-life” (as what another commentator claimed Singapore is. To each his own, i will say) because who would want drama and guns in our lives? That is the reason why we build Changi Airport and have one of the world’s  best airlines in the world so that we get to travel in style to see what the world has to offer.

We don’t have to prove how we live our lives by Western / Caucasian standards. These standards mean nothing to us, Singaporeans.

The saddest thing about your article? You had a paragraph about how Mr Lee Kuan Yew reminds you of someone who “beats his charges with a bag of oranges so the organs are ruined but the bruises do not show” – how unoriginal. I’ve seen that line somewhere in an article about Tiananmen in 1999. Your stories were untruthful and meant to paint a negative image of Mr Lee. His bodyguards and drivers (I happen to know one of them) and they spoke of a man who was strong, disciplined and fair.

We will climb out of any troubles Singapore may face in the future because we are Singaporeans made resilience by Mr Lee Kuan Yew’s fiery brand of passion, strength and commitment in times of needs.

Please don’t quote theoretical ideologies as if they were indeed, best practices business cases. Show me a country which have had a perfect leader first, then tell me what your solutions may be for the problems you claim Singapore have?

Lastly, quoting Amos Yee and egging him on just tells me how your blinkers have not been removed from when you were in Singapore.

Mr Lee Kuan Yew may be seen as a “tyrant and psychological monster” to you but he was only acting towards people who are equally tyrannical and psychologically-unbalanced with their points of views. Humans react to what they are treated with, fair point?

Please, mind your own business and let us Singaporeans grieve.

Yours Sincerely,


What Is Your Price?

“What is more humiliating than finding the object of your love unworthy?”
Jeanette Winterson, The Passion

When I started travelling by myself, I love getting lost in museums. Museums carry with them… history and stories other than art.  I can’t claim to know art but what I do know is, if I like a piece of art, it holds a value to me.

What I value, I will not bargain for a discount. Asking for a discount from a piece of creative work (not just art per se) is tantamount to saying,  “I think you are good but nope, you’re not worth me paying the price you think your work is worth.”

What makes such behaviour irksome and insulting is to know the professional, marked-to-market benchmarks and still expecting an artist, a fellow professional to bend over backwards just because one thinks the world of his own opinions and has-been experiences?

When I was a casual database editor in Melbourne, I was paid A$20.86 hourly. My job was to edit content for educational institutions and craft relevant keywords for SEO. I could hit 200 entries or more per hour while my fellow colleagues managed between 8 to 30 per hour. In the end, I was the only resource required to run the online system because I was able to offer the best outcome for the price the company felt was fair.

Today, this ideal of fairness is lost on indecisive decision makers who only hear their own voices. They saw the speck in the other person’s eye but not the log in their own.

Another lesson learnt.

Daily Gratitude Practice


Today, I am thankful for:

– Having a mirror in unpleasant and unprofessional people to guide me as to how I should NEVER be, be it with colleagues or external business partners, whether they are more junior or otherwise

– having the courage to speak my mind and be truthful to people without the fear of repercussions. I will never be truly free if I have to hide my feelings even though i know that the truth is always painful to hear.

– recognising that apologies have to be sincere and meaningful. An apology is not a defensive tool. I am thankful to be aware of the differences and will honour my apology as what it is meant to be.

– being aware of my limitations so that I know how I can best improve myself. My lacks and failures serve to only make me more aware that there is much to learn and acquire in life other than bags and shoes!

– my mother’s constant presence in my life. She is so precious and I want to be able to give her an even better life.

Also, I am very grateful for my thick-skinned and strongheaded mentality…it has provided me with much buffer against the ugly behaviour I am subjected to… it is also useful to my resourcefulness in finding solutions.

What an amazing day to learn how to be a better person, one day at a time.