Farewell My Dear Papa

I know that old man posted on Lim Tean FB very well. Let me give some life history of that old man. He was born in 1938 in Johore. He was the youngest in a family of 3 brothers and sister. His eldest brother passed away more than 20 years ago. When the Japanese occupation ended in 1945, he was barely 7 years old. His father died during the Japanese occupation due to an infection on his leg leading to severe gangrene and a slow painful death. There was hardly any food to eat, not to mention medical treatment. If the same were to happen today, the doctor simply had to amputate his leg and he would have survived to old age! I was told that his father was buried without a coffin and had nothing to offer on his grave except some tapioca plucked from the wild.

Out of desperation, the old man’s young mother fled to Singapore on foot with all the 4 children. There was no transport system then. It was just after World War II with the defeated Japanese army retreating and the British returning to Singapore. Like so many desperate families, they simply crossed over the Woodlands causeway on foot and found themselves settled somewhere off Lorong 17 Geylang Rd – the present day Sims Ave HDB estate. In those days, the whole of Geylang district was kumpung and squatters. As a matter of fact, my birth certificate from KK Hospital stated that I was born at Lor 3 Geylang Road. Yes, we were living on top of the Malay cemetery then at Lor 3 Geylang Rd.

How to survive in the darkest period of our history? They resorted to selling home made ice cream. The whole family was involved in the production of ice cream. Some of you may have seen those long squarish ice cream tubes with durian, red bean, vanilla milk flavours chopped to small pieces with sticks poking on them as holders. This old man in the picture did not like doing business especially the ice cream trade. All the daily takings from the sale of ice cream on their bicycles or motor-cycle were collected by their mother. She was the matriarch of the family when subsequently the brothers got married and had children. The old man – youngest of them stole some money from his mother to learn driving. He was a quick and fast learner to get his complete set of license. When his mother found out his intention to leave the family ice cream business to drive lorry using the stolen money for the driving lessons, he got a good beating. Later on in life, the old man proved to be the most filial son amongst all.

☝️Home made ice cream

The old man then started his driving career from small vehicle to huge trailer working nearly every day without break except on CNY or important occasions or when his 40 foot trailer broke down. He would leave home before sunrise and return after sunset. Day in, day out from his early 20s till the age of 65 when LTA seized all his driving classes except his class 3. He started a family on his own without any formal education – he only self-taught few hundred Chinese characters. He brought up 3 children (all boys) single handedly handling the huge monster trailer. He also bought 2 flats directly from HDB.

He bought a 3-room flat in 1980 at Blk 614 Bedok Reservoir Rd for only $21,000. The same flat is still there. It’s already more than 40 yrs old yet it could fetch in today’s market at more than $250,000! He sold it 14 yrs later in 1994 at $110,000 when he upgraded to a 114 sq m 4-room A model flat in Pasir Ris at only $101,000. At that time, one could profit entirely from the sale of flats. He kept some in the bank whilst spending some on renovations for his new 4-room flat and his 2nd son’s Executive flat in Tampines. Both flats bought from HDB at the same time.

Through hard work, grit and sheer tenacity and living a simple life of thrift, he accumulated much savings. He was never a businessman nor a gambler of stocks or properties. Even after LTA seized all his driving licenses, he continued to work as a cleaner until last Sep 2021 when he fell seriously ill. He never took any MC nor leave at all. All his leave sold to the company. As such, his only hobby and happiness is to work and make himself useful. So when he fell ill about 4 years ago, he decided to retire for good. He declared that he’s not going to work anymore due to poor health. He was 80 then.

Due to the quality subsidized health care at Changi Hospital where he was warded for 2 weeks, he was given a clean bill of health. So he stayed at home doing nothing but eat, sleep and eat and sleep! Any other activities to him is a waste of time. He refused to leave the house. He would cook instant noddles for himself if no cooking is done. This carried on from 2018 Aug till sometime 2019 Mar. He then decided to go back to work again cuz he felt that he’s getting senile by not doing anything other than sleeping at home. So he landed on the above job as seen on Lim Tean FB.

The above is just a summary of the old man’s life. I believe it’s the typical life style of that pioneer generation where he came from – a simple life that finds enjoyment and happiness working until he can no longer contribute to society.

1/1/1938 to 16/1/2022

Was he a destitute?

The answer is obviously no. He may not be a millionaire, but he did not owe people money. Unlike Lim Tean, he was never sued in court for failing to pay any loan. He’s a law abiding citizen earning an honest living doing what he liked without disturbing others. He was independent and never begged for handouts from the government.

Did he need the government to take care of him?

He knew that he had benefited immensely from this government. He made some fortune from the sale of his 1st HDB flat. Now he’s living in a fully paid 4-room flat worth more than $450,000. He brought up 3 sons single handedly without any handouts from the government. 2 of his 3 sons are graduates. When his 2nd son migrated to Canada 10 years ago, he supported him by giving $60,000 hard cash. His other son got scholarships all the way from polytechnic to university in UK earning himself a PhD. The latter is quite outstanding in the marine industry.

The old man had lived a long and fruitful life. People of his generation know what is good governance and a better life for himself and his children. Did he need Lim Tean to tell him what sort of life to lead? No matter how much Lim Tean and his ink may say, this old man would simply give his vote to the current government. Fact is he had been doing that on every GE. Was he not thankful to this government when all his children are doing well? He didn’t have to worry his next meal, plenty of savings in his bank account. On that note when he was very ill in Aug 2018, together with his 2 sons, he entrusted $60,000 to the eldest son for funeral expenses thinking that his days were numbered. He kept another $20,000 telling us that he would spend less than $1,000 for his personal expenses to last him for another 2 years! He would be grateful if he could go on living for another few more years.

By now, some of you may have guessed my relationship to this old man. Yup, this old man is my natural father.

To Lim Tean I say this to him. Pls do not use my father’s picture without his explicit permission to post on your facebook and score political points. I’m not against you taking pop shots against this government but pls don’t stoop so low and demean yourself by infringing on my illiterate father’s right to privacy. Who are you to show my father’s face to the whole world and posed this question, “Is this the life Singaporeans deserve in old age? Or do we deserve better?”

I say to Lim Tean again. Did you interview and talk to my father why he’s earning an honest living collecting dirty plates in a coffee shop despite his advanced age? When Speaker of Parliament Tan CJ commented that old people like to work because they like to exercise, you all mock him. My father was one of them he’s referring to.

Sometime in Sep last year, he fell ill again. He was not able to walk steadily and was breathless. He had no choice but to stop working for good. When he stopped working, his supervisor personally came to visit him with the balance of his salary and NTUC voucher. Every now and then his working colleagues and supervisor would call him to check on his condition.

Sensing that his days are numbered, I brought him to CPF to make his nomination. He was able to withdraw all his CPF money of about $36,000 except his Medisave of about $49,000 which he nominated my mother as beneficiary. During the last few months, he was in and out of Changi and Singapore general hospitals.

On that fateful day – 16 Jan 2022 @3.30 pm, he had a fall when he went out to buy something. I had warned him in the morning not to move around and be more careful when I came back from night shift. I had to steady him few times when he was wobbling around in the house. I told him if he had a fall, he would be bed ridden and it’s going to be a big problem. He just smiled.

When CGH called me around 5.15pm to come down urgently regarding my father whilst I was sleeping after night shift, I knew it’s going to be serious. When I reached CGH, the doctor broke the news to me that my father had passed away @5.09 pm. It was so sudden and shocking that I was in a daze. I did not expect him to go so suddenly. I kept telling myself if only he had not left the house or I did not sleep, he would not have gone. It saddens me that I did not do much more for him when he was still around. Whenever I bought some food for him, he would eat very little or not at all preferring his white plain porridge with salted vegetables or olive vegetables. In the end, I just bought him Chinese newspapers so that he could read to while his time. He refused to listen to the radio or TV when I switched on for him. He just wanted to lie down and enjoy the quietness reminiscing his younger days etc. He’s always so quiet and did not talk much. I sensed his depression for not able to work. Someone ever said the day you stop working you’ll die sooner?

There’s much more I could say about him. Suffice to say that he led a dignified and full life working till the last days of his life which he had chosen on his own accord to live such a life. Farewell my dear beloved Papa. May you go to the netherworld in peace.

☝️My son with my Papa
☝️CNY at home
☝️My last outing with him 2 mths ago
☝️Great job by FairPrice Casket
☝️Final journey away from home
PS: I would like to thank FairPrice Casket especially Zhang Mingliang and his team for doing a great job. They are efficient and highly professional. 

I would also like to thank all my relatives, colleagues, friends and neighbours for their condolences, donations, wreaths and kind words. Thank you 🙏

Read related article here. https://gintai.wordpress.com/2012/07/10/mos-tan-cj-singapore-ederly-do-not-want-assistance/


Some updates from my cousin Kwee Meng after reading my blog post. He’s the 1st born of my father’s eldest brother.

Quote “As far as I could remember as a little boy, you (referring to me) came to stay a few days as a baby in this non-addressed house, somewhere at the place where it is now across Pipit Road and opposite Block 54, Pipit Road. This house did not have an address and had a small pavement (which was wide enough for tricycles only) that led to a wider link which is Lorong 27, Geylang Road. The family used to borrow a shop address at Lorong 27, Geyland Road for corresponding. The above was the place of abode in Singapore for our grandmother, our fathers, another uncle and an auntie after leaving Johore Bahru. (Family of 5 including my father). Initially, it was a small attap house built on this piece of land and later on after the family had made some money, it was upgraded to a new and bigger zinc-roof house. It was slightly re-located and re-positioned for better Feng Shui.

By the way when I was born, I stayed in that little attap house without electricity or piped water supply. My mother used to fetch water from the public standpipe at Lorong 27, Geylang Road. Later on, the time when your mother married your father, an additional public standpipe was installed nearer to the home. The whole family were very happy. By this time the family also arranged and paid a “electricity provider” to install a “four-feet” fluorescent lamp at the living room. The electricity that provided for lamp was from 6 PM to 12 AM. Only Chinese New Year the electricity provided was from 6 PM till next morning but I could not remember for how many days it was lighted during this CNY festival. Most probably until the fifteenth day of the Chinese New Year. By the way the fee for providing the electricity to light a 4-feet fluorescent lamp was five dollars per month and three dollars per month for a 2-feet fluorescent lamp.” Unquote

☝️The exact location shld be somewhere around Lor 27 Geylang Rd not Lor 17 Geylang Rd
☝️Location when they first came over to Sg from JB
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The 3 stages in life

I’m about to embark on my 3rd stage in life. Whether I could complete this last stage only time will tell. Many don’t cuz our average life span is only 78 yrs. Some could not even make it to the 3rd stage.

W Shakespeare says there are 7 stages (ages) in a person’s life. I would rather break it into 3 stages with 30 years in each stage based on the assumption that he lives a full life without any terminal illness or fatal accident that cuts short his longevity. As I see it, natural life span of a person should be 90 years. Divide this 90 into 3 parts will give you 30 years at each stage.

I ever told my son before that the first stage will decide his next 2 stages in life. This is the crucial part of a person’s life where he sets his foundation for the rest of his life. Many parents realize this. That’s why they force their children to excel in school with massive investments on tuition and other activities to ensure their children excel in the system at the expense of their innocent childhood and other meaningful activities such as helping out in housework, charity work etc.

The end result, our children wear thick glasses, exam smart not street smart with zero EQ and selfish with one track mind of scoring well in exams. The child is taught from young to score as many ace as possible with the rest of his needs taken care of. Even his own school bag is carried by the maid or parents.

The second stage in life from age 30 to 60 is his best years when he starts to work, set up a family and career. That’s the time when he will experience the real world. He’ll go thru life and accumulate much experience in his work place and in life. His tribulations and success at this stage are prelude to his last stage in life.

By the time he enters the last stage of his life, he is already 60 yrs old, he would have known much about living in the real world. He’s now wise and world weary. Many, having fallen along the way due to sickness or some freak accident will miss out this stage of life. Some may even limp or wheelchair to this last stage. Even if you have reached this last stage in life, even many more will not be able to complete the full 30 years since our life expectancy is only 78 years. No amount of wealth or tears would set you back in time. My parents have passed 78 but their health is failing and the end is near.

Even before the time they hit the last stage, many of my friends are already “medicine-men.” They need to take pills to sustain themselves. Many are having the 3 common health issues – high blood pressure, high cholesterol or sugar in blood with some even having gout or arthritis etc.

It is not uncommon to see some of my friends taking 4 to 8 pills per day to control these health irritants. Without these pills to sustain them, they may even expire earlier. My parents are given tons of pills whenever they go for their regular medical check-ups. But then they are reaching the finishing line soon. But for those not yet finishing stage 2 in life and are still actively working are more worrisome.

Fortunately, I am not on any medication. I can’t even recall when was the last time I took a panadol. I always refuse to take any medication fearing any side effects. But I could sense that I may have to be a “medicine-man” soon as I march towards the last stage. That’s life beyond our control. But according to my good fren Wilson, we could slow down this process if we exercise regularly and watch our diet. He’s still as fit as a fiddle even though he has entered his 3rd stage.

Actually, it’s not the number of years a person lives that counts. It’s the quality of years having lived. What is the point of living till 100 years if there are no accomplishments or legacy once you are gone?

Nearly 40 yrs ago in 1982 I wrote an article on China when she was so poor and backwards having just opened up their economy. Click the link here to read. Within my life time, China is now a super power overtaking every country on earth. We are beyond comparison with China’s might. Now that’s what I meant by great accomplishments within a short life-time.

On a personal level, hopefully I shall leave a legacy on my 10 year old blog and also tons of memories behind and I pray that I could successfully complete the last stage before I finally reach the finishing line and prepare to, in the words of Lord Alfred Tennyson “cross the bar!” So help me God!

Crossing the Bar

Sunset and evening star,
And one clear call for me!
And may there be no moaning of the bar,
When I put out to sea,

But such a tide as moving seems asleep,
Too full for sound and foam,
When that which drew from out the boundless deep
Turns again home.

Twilight and evening bell,
And after that the dark!
And may there be no sadness of farewell,
When I embark;

For tho' from out our bourne of Time and Place
The flood may bear me far,
I hope to see my Pilot face to face
When I have crost the bar.

All the world's a stage,     
And all the men and women merely players:
They have their exits and their entrances;
And one man in his time plays many parts,
His acts being seven ages.
At first the infant,
Mewling and puking in the nurse's arms.
And then the whining school-boy, with his satchel
And shining morning face, creeping like snail
Unwillingly to school.
And then the lover,
Sighing like furnace, with a woeful ballad
Made to his mistress' eyebrow.
Then a soldier,
Full of strange oaths and bearded like the pard,
Jealous in honour, sudden and quick in quarrel,
Seeking the bubble reputation
Even in the cannon's mouth.
And then the justice,
In fair round belly with good capon lined,
With eyes severe and beard of formal cut,
Full of wise saws and modern instances;
And so he plays his part.
The sixth age shifts
Into the lean and slipper'd pantaloon,
With spectacles on nose and pouch on side,
His youthful hose, well saved, a world too wide
For his shrunk shank; and his big manly voice,
Turning again toward childish treble, pipes
And whistles in his sound.
Last scene of all,
That ends this strange eventful history,
Is second childishness and mere oblivion,
Sans teeth, sans eyes, sans taste, sans everything.

W Shakespeare
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One lie in parliament changed everything!

When an elected member goes to Parliament to tell a lie, could she be trusted again?

☝️The truth is at stake!

Parliament is the highest legislature in a country. It is here where laws are proposed and debated. Once it’s passed into law, everyone will have to abide by the law. The government enforce the laws and the courts interpret the laws passed by parliament. That’s our basic understanding.

Back to the question – If an elected member lied in parliament, she has lost all credibility. The liar cannot be trusted any more. Why then take her evidence seriously when she claimed that she was asked to take the lie “to her grave?”

A complaint was made against the lying member and she was forced to resign half way through the proceedings. Why not round it up and move on to other matters of national importance? Why devote so much resources and air time over a disgraced member when our survival is at stake?

The latest Coronavirus mutation ie Omicron is causing so much havoc all over the world putting a brake on our eager efforts to open up our borders and economy yet we are still stuck on this little insignificant case that doesn’t seem to resonate well with the misery of the masses.

Frankly, most of us are more concerned about our livelihood and future rather than this circus 🤡going on and never ending even after the disgraced member has resigned. Many are wondering where all this is leading to? Link

☝️The winner takes all

Under the glaring scrutiny of the camera, the verdict is clear. Camera doesn’t lie. Perhaps the only winner out of all these is the Leader of the Opposition. May God bless Singapore.

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My dining experience at Joji’s Diner

☝️Receipt dated 12/12/21. I take feedback appreciated seriously 😐

This is what we ordered for 2 adults and 2 kids. Even though I knew this is too much for the family but being a foodie, I wanted to taste as many items as possible.

☝️American style dining experience

My younger son who is 7 yrs had got a Principal Award so I told him there is a surprise treat for him. He has gone on me. We both enjoyed our food. Needless to say the food was amazing. And that’s an understatement. Words fail me.

I asked my elder son who is 13 yrs and a very choosy eater how much rating he will give out of 10? I asked him after we had finished the food and sat in the car. He said it was 11/10! And he qualified his statement to say that this expression meant it was too good!

I also asked my younger son the same question who had thoroughly enjoyed his chicken waffle. And he said it’s the best and then said he rank it 1000/10. I said that’s no ranking and then he said it’s sooo good that I can’t rank it.

So that’s the genuine feedback. My wife and I both loved it. My wife is the pickiest eater and she generally doesn’t eat most of the things but she enjoyed her burger because our kids enjoyed it.

Next I would like to share my two personal observations. I don’t mince my words even with frens.

First – The Menu, which is the introduction to the restaurant, is atrocious.

☝️Unimpressive menu

Sorry to use this word but any other word would not justify what I felt as a marketing man. There is no photo of the food item on the menu. This is the basics of marketing when setting up a restaurant because EYE is first sense we use when we eat food.

A well-known adage among chefs and the first thing taught in Culinary Academy is, “You eat with your eyes first.”

Yes, I understand that youngsters look at smart phone for menu and they can go to Instagram to look at pictures. That’s what I did evenutally and reluctantly because I didn’t even want to use my phone on the table and wanted to just absorb the things around.

Believe me, still the mobile phone access can’t replace the sense of seeing the picture of the dish on the menu. Maybe not all the pictures but at least some good quality pictures on the menu or even digital menu with scan code on the table would have done the trick.

Second – There is not much option for vegetarians. Yes, I know it’s an American Menu of 60ies etc but an intelligent chef will add a Vegetarian American dish.

There is Veg Rosti which is very welcome and there is Mushroom Burger which was very tasty. But I know of many vegetarians who don’t eat mushrooms.

Going forward you will see lots of people turning vegetarians including ang mohs or you may add a Healthy Option under which you can add American Salad and many such things.

I would like to recommend Vegetarian Burger made of Potato Patties. I realised Joji already making Potato Bites and it’s not much different. Potato Patties are damn tasty you know.

Overall experience at Joji’s Diner was enjoyable. I’ll definitely come back again despite waiting for about 15 mins before getting a table.

Written by Manish dated 12/12/21

PS: I’ve known Manish for more than 12 years. He’s originally from Punjab, India. He’s happily settled in Singapore with 2 young kids growing up in our local school. He’s more Singaporean than some of us having lived here for more than 18 years. There is a family photo of him here

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Driving a 20 foot Toyota Coaster mini bus

☝️20 foot white monster 👺

On 15 Sep 21, I joined a transport company to drive 20-foot mini bus. After 3 months, I’m still enjoying the job. I’ve driven trains and taxi before. Now I’m driving a 3rd generation Toyota Coaster sending workers back home and fetching them to work. Each mode of public transport has its own merits. But I find driving mini bus more of a challenge. Driving taxi is the easiest as it is similar to driving a normal car. Whereas trains are on auto mode most of the time with fixed routes and stations.

Since I stopped driving taxi in Jan 2017, I’ve not driven a car for more than 4 years not to mention a 20 foot mini bus. I was quite worried and unsure how to handle the mini bus when I joined this transport company. The basic requirements are Class 4 driving license and vocational license with at least 3 years of driving experience. I got my Class 4 in 1995 and I passed my vocational license for taxi and bus in 2014. Any vehicle above 2.5 ton need Class 4 driving license. The mini bus I’m driving is above 3.5 ton with 20 seating capacity. It is a 3rd generation Toyota Coaster with 5 speed manual gear. Link

I was fortunate that President Wee and Alan Taxi are always around to guide me since they are also working for the same company. For the 1st month I was busy sending and fetching mini buses to workshop for repair and maintenance. I also sent them for yearly inspection. There are more than 20 mini buses to maintain such as regular servicing, changing of tires and light bulbs etc.

I still remember when I first took the wheel of the mini bus. I was clumsy and so fearful of the “white monster”! AT gave me many tips on how to handle in his own words, this “white monster”. President Wee gave me nearly one week of personal coaching on how to tame this 15 year old big bone shaker! Yup all our mini buses are more than 10 years old with manual gear. New ones are equipped with auto and smooth quiet engine. Mine is noisy, rough and tough to engage the gear. Whenever it goes over bumps and uneven road surfaces, my old bone shaker will shake uncontrollably.

I not only fetch and send workers from home to work and vice versa, I also need to fetch and send pax to hotels at times. President Wee brought me to some problematic hotels in town to familiarize me since some of the hotels’ entrances are quite tricky. Unlike taxi where you could make an U turn easily if you miss the entrance or the minor road leading to the hotel, 20 footer mini bus need to make a big round as it’s not easy to make U turn on dual carriageway. Mini bus could only make U turn on a 3-lane road, not on a 2-lane road due to its length size.

After handling the white monster for more than a month, I got a knack of it and could now handle it with confidence. I’m now on permanent night shift sending workers back home and fetching them to work in the early morning hours. I prefer night shift as it’s much cooler, less traffic on the road and easier to maneuver around especially within HDB car parks when I pick up workers from their HDB blocks.

On 15 Dec 21, it will be 3 months of driving mini bus. I’m much more confident and sure of handling this “white monster” as I continue to clock more and more mileage driving mini bus all over the island. Whenever I sit on the cockpit of the mini bus, I’ll have a bird’s eye view of the road as it’s much higher than a taxi. I could also travel freely on bus lane during peak hours to cut the queue which is a privilege reserved for buses on our public roads. It’s much more satisfying than driving taxi since my mini bus could fetch 20 pax at one go! Hopefully I’ll continue to enjoy driving mini bus for the next few years until I decide on my next job.

☝️Toyota Coaster 3rd Generation
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