Saturday, August 27, 2005

Our Courts Not Supporting the PM

Our PM wants to do more for old people and improve the level of customer service in Spore. But judging from today's reports on the Took Leng How/Huang Na murder trial, the courts are not very supportive leh.

Firstly, those poor retirees had to queue for hours to get into the courtroom only to find that there were not enough seats. And then those in the gallery could not even see the star, sorry, I mean the accused. Worse of all, the verdict took only 3 minutes to deliver. Even the accused's family were not cooperative - no hysterical sobbing or fainting.

Understandbly, those poor old folks were so disappointed. No wonder one woman complained to the reporters. One chap even vented his frustrations on Took's wife.

Saturday, August 20, 2005


Last weekend, I saw Part 2 of the documentary, Hiroshima on Channel News Asia. There was a tragic scene that particularly saddened me. There was this woman survivor who watched helplessly as her young daughter, trapped under some beams begged her not to leave her as the flames engulfed her. All the time she was wailing desperately to her daughter to forgive her because she did not have the courage to die together with her.

I am reminded of an essay my GP teacher asked us to write on the topic, “War has never achieved anything, and never will. Do you agree?” That was more than 30 years ago. I cannot remember what I wrote then, but if I had to write that essay again, I am quite sure what my answer will be.

“But man at war with man hears not
The love song that they sing.
Oh hush the noise, ye men of strife,
And hear the angels sing”
- Sarah Harrison, The Flowers of the Field

“And as he sat on upon the mount of Olives, the disciples came unto him privately, saying, Tell us, when shall these things be? and what shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world?

And Jesus answered and said unto them ….. And ye shall hear of wars and rumours of wars: see that ye be not troubled: for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet. For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be famines and pestilences, and earthquakes in divers places. All these are the beginning of sorrows.”
- Matthew 24: 3 - 8

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Interesting Encounters With Rude Cashiers

Recently there were some articles in Today lamenting the low standard of customer service in Singapore. Actually, I find that the level of courtesy amongst the heartland retail shops and hawker stalls has improved considerably these past couple of years. This is probably due to the tough business environment and intense competition. Nevertheless, it is still quite common to encounter rude sales staff. Here are a couple of interesting encounters.

Encounter no. 1: Cake Shop at Bishan North Block 282

(Sorry this happened a few months ago, and so I cannot recall the exact figures)

I selected $5.60 worth of buns and paid the cashier $7; one $5 and one $2 bill. She then returned me $2.40 mostly in coins. As I turned away and counted the change, I turned back to point out her mistake. But to be doubly sure, I re-counted and then asked her how much was my purchase.

She replied impatiently: “Total is $5.60. You gave $7 and so I return you $2.40 lor ." .…. (pause) .. "Oh sorry, I keep thinking it is $8”, she added as she sheepishly she took a $1 coin from my palm.

Encounter no. 2: Food Court at Yung Ho Road (opp NTUC Lifestyle Centre)

The Cantonese have saying; “sin king loy yi, hou king yan”; meaning to judge a person by the way he or she dresses. This was often used to describe the discriminatory service meted out by rude Hong Kong sales people (in the bad old days that is – heard that they have much improved in recent years).

Recently I encountered discrimination of a slightly different sort. I was on my way to Jurong with 2 colleagues to meet a client, and was dressed relatively formal in long sleeves shirt and tie. As we were early, we decided to stop for coffee. I went up to the cashier to place my order. “2 coffees and 1 tea please”. But she was busy taking stock of cigarettes and totally ignored me. I was undecided whether or not to repeat my order. Maybe she already heard my order and she might scold me for being impatient and disturbing her. Or maybe she did not hear? Fortunately, her colleague came along and attended to me. Just then, along came a young man dressed in factory clothes and placed a similar order. Guess what .. our rude cashier girl immediately responded to him is such a friendly tone.

I never knew that you can be discriminated against for dressing smart.

On the other hand, it may have nothing to do with attire at all. Maybe it is a case for middle-aged uncle vs young Ah Beng – the choice is clear right? Anyway, it is still discrimination.

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Extension of Smoking Ban

The government has announced the decision to extend the smoking ban to coffee shops. Although I am a non-smoker, I am against this measure.

1) It will affect the business of coffee shops. Business these days is already so tough for the poor chaps.

2) It is rather unfair to the smokers. If smoking is so bad then you should ban it outright. If you choose not to ban it, then you should at least let these guys (who are already paying so much taxes) to have some places to enjoy their fixes.

3) Coffee shops are supposed to set aside the open-air areas for the smokers. In our hot climate, that is in fact the best place. Whenever, I eat out with my family to at coffee shops, we like to sit there.

4) I noticed that many smokers have the nasty habit of flicking their ashes onto the floor and then discarding the butt (again on the floor) and stepping on it. I have even seen well-dressed young ladies do that. Now if these people are forced to take their smoking to the void decks, wouldn’t that add to the littering problem – which NEA is already finding it tough to contain.

5) Last but not least, I think this is another one of those laws that simply cannot enforced; (like the “flush after use or you get fined” law). In any case, as one of our ministers pointed out in parliament last year during the 'great casino debate', Singaporeans are matured enough to decide what is right and wrong. So they don't need more regulations to tell them what they should and should not do.

Sunday, August 07, 2005

Vintage Mahathir

The man one Western leader labelled, ‘The Loose Cannon’ is at it again. Recently, he was very much in the news, taking up cudgels against his former subordinates in a performance one local daily described as “vintage Mahathir”. This is in spite of his having declared earlier, "I have already made it very clear that when I leave, I leave completely."

I am a big fan of the man. He is brilliant, outspoken and completely fearless - every-ready to take on anyone with his unique brand of sharp, witty, blunt and sometimes crude remarks.

A quick search of CNN and BBC threw up some gems.

On Himself

"I am perhaps the only dictator who has to stand for elections before dictating." – October 1998

On Singapore

“There are many ways to skin a cat”.

"We will supply filtered water to Singapore until doomsday," - February 2003

On Singapore Roads: “In Singapore, there are roads but when shifting into fourth gear, you fall into the sea because it is not big. … The problem of Singapore is like Perlis. In Perlis when you shift into fourth gear, you are already in Thailand. Change direction, and in fourth gear you are in Kedah. So it is like Singapore. It is only 18 miles from Keppel Harbour to the Causeway. Not even time to change into fourth gear. You buy a Ferrari you can't change into fourth gear, there is no use. So we want to give them the opportunity to change into fourth gear on our roads.”

On his love for Singaporeans: “Actually, we know that Singaporeans live in a small country. Every week, tak tahan to live in the small country, an independent country, but small, so they need to breathe and we have a big area in Johor and Malaysia for them to breathe.

Come over, we welcome them and love them. Singapore is very clean, with beautiful buildings, everything is nice. But four million people live on the island, it is not nice. Langkawi is the same size as Singapore, but Langkawi has 70,000, Singapore has four million. So we like them to come.We love you. On Valentine's Day, we love you. Please come. Please come.

I am just jesting. When you meet Singaporeans, tell them: Don't take the Malaysian PM seriously. He likes to talk like that. He doesn't mean it, he has a good heart.”

On Australia

“This country stands out like a sore thumb trying to impose its European values in Asia as if it is the good old days when people can shoot aborigines without caring about human rights.” - December 2002

“Australia has made known to the world that it wants to be the deputy sheriff of this region. It's very difficult to get along with deputy sheriffs.” - October 2003

“At the moment Australia is particularly unsafe for Muslims, because they are likely to have their houses raided. … I've seen pictures of doors being broken, which I don't think is essential.” - November 2002

On Europeans

"They are very clever, brave and have an insatiable curiosity. Unfortunately they are also very greedy and like to take forcibly the territories and rights of other people."

On Jews

“Jews rule the world by proxy”. - Oct 2003

"The reaction of the world shows they (Jews) control the world,"

"Israel is a small country. There are not many Jews in the world,"
"But they are so arrogant that they defy the whole world. Even if the United Nations say no, they go ahead. Why? Because they have the backing of all these people,"

On the Asian financial crisis

"We may suspect that they, the Jews, have an agenda, but we do not want to accuse. And incidentally, we are Muslims, and the Jews are not happy to see the Muslims progress." - October 1997

"All these countries have spent 40 years trying to build up their economy and a moron like (U.S. financier and currency trader George) Soros comes along with a lot of money. Currency trading is unnecessary, unproductive and totally immoral."

"What they wish to see, is that our country experiences misfortunes," – June 2001

"Exploit us, but exploit us fairly." - October 2003

"Like the World Bank and the IMF (International Monetary Fund), the WTO is now being made into yet another instrument to enrich the rich and impoverish the poor,"

On Bush

"It was the biggest lie. If he'd rebuked me I'm quite sure I would have rebuked him also. ….If you can tell a lie about the existence of weapons of mass destruction and go to war because of it, I'm not surprised if he is prepared to lie about what he said to me."

On gay British MPs

"The British people accept homosexual ministers but if they ever come here bringing their boyfriend along, we will throw them out." - November 2001

On Anwar

"You cannot go around sodomising people,"

Latest: From TODAY, 18/8/2005