Friday, February 4, 2011

Two CNY Stories

A friend wanted to borrow a digicam for the Chinese New Year holidays to help decide upgrading from his point-and-shoot to an ultra-zoom or pro-sumer DSLR. Always careful with our hard earned money, we never opt for the latest and greatest. Met on morn of CNY eve for the handover.

While trading thoughts about sensor size and crop factors at the HDB kopi-tiam where coffee at 90 cents is significantly cheaper than Starbucks', a family was quietly settling down at the next table. Styrofoam boxes of packet lunches were produced from the ubiquitous red polyethylene bags and distributed. Another member, apparently working at one of the food stalls, brought forth a small plate of roast duck, hardly enough for the 6 seated, plus the contributor. It was too early in the day, but we realized it was their CNY reunion dinner.

Suddenly, the DSLR in our hands looked obscenely out of place. The 62mm UV filter serving as lens protector costs more than their feast. We wished the floor under our feet would open up and swallow us in. It is very unpleasant to come face to face with the extremity of the Gini coefficient.

On the festive day itself, we observed the strict CNY tradition of trekking to family and relatives' homes. For many this is the once in a year mandatory meeting of the clan, when demanding work schedule is no excuse for not getting together. There's the usual updating of marital status of the ladies, and the fecundity of the just married. The banter is in dialect, so grandpa and grandma can listen in approvingly.

That's when we learnt a distant aunt has 3 sons in the university, one reading his masters. She had toiled 10 years as a cleaner, followed by 25 years as a food court help, her husband drove long hours as a delivery hand. That's not all. Their eldest daughter graduated last year and is working as an accountant. It must have been an uphill task to support their education costs, and the kids must have done their part studying equally hard to qualify for pocket money, bursaries or scholarships. Ang pows may be exchanged, but it's never polite to discuss money openly on this auspicious day. This couple of humble means, in spite of the discrimination and stigma of the Graduate Mom policy, achieved more for the nation's call for babies than selfish society elites.

Nah, we don't need filthy rich foreigners to populate our country, our own born and bred can do just fine. What we do need is a revamp of the group think that is vitiating the future of our nation.


  1. As a Singaporean, I really hope that we can vote out the PAP and change society for the better. Enough is enough.

  2. lee kuan yew has forgotten that he is not the product of graduates; that many leaders and successful pple today are not the offspring of graduates. all this blows apart his silly theories on eugenics, which, despite the hard truths he sees to the contrary, he persists in pursuing. talk about blinkered, inflexible and stubborn.

    at the end, it all boils down to encouragement -not the dragon amy chua's harrassment - of hard work, interest in one's child, patience, discipline, some dreaming, balance. a very large portion of zeal and determination from the kids is called for. sometimes, some outside help is required. good luck and having a mentor can make a huge difference. as can proper guidance and seizing opportunities. it is a basic recipe for success. no university degree is needed.

  3. old man is not blinkered, stubborn or inflexible. he is just doing the utmost to perpetuate his own selfish interests, the that's the bitter truth.

  4. The Hard Truth is that Singaporeans have had believed in Lee Kuan Yew until lately. If fault has to be apportion, the masses are more guilty of indiscrimination. To deny the fact is no different from Lee Kuan Yew insisting he is right in everything he thinks and does.
    Are Singaporeans ready to wake up?

  5. Most of the local impoverished underclass and lower working class are not even seen or heard. But the fact that they are kept out of common visibility and consciousness does not mean that they do not exist. However, the more fortunate classes of the populace often forget about this simple fact of life, & often make callous remarks that are hurtful and insensitive to those less fortunate than themselves.

    It is solace to know that despite difficult circumstances, there are some who do try very hard to provide better chances for their children. It is not so much of a solace to also know that such almost-success stories tend to belong to the minority. Poverty, hopelessness, poor health & social immobility are just some of the many-headed monsters of a vicious cycle that revisit the afflicted classes generation after generation. In the absence of affirmative action & kind helping hands, many talents simply remain undiscovered & eventually perish under circumstances that do not allow them to live up to their potential.

    When the State & the worshippers of State Ideology are contemptuous & unwilling, try to reach out to those (including total strangers) who do need your helping hand. A single hand is probably insufficient, but many hands along the way do make a big difference between a useful livable life & a unfulfilled despairing death of a fellow human.

  6. The Singaporean Sheep & its Behaviour.
    Many years of observation, by people who have worked with Singaporean sheep under a wide range of conditions, have concluded that Singaporean sheep illustrate certain actions and reactions which are very predictable, and can be used to the Mentor's advantage in all aspects of sheep management.
    Those who incorporate aspects of sheep behaviour into management of their flock will see positive results in the ease of moving groups, willingness of sheep to enter and be processed, and fewer stress indicators in the Sheep and its handler's.
    Say no more!

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