Congratulations to our hero Joseph Schooling for winning a Gold medal 

Today is a great day for Singapore. Singaporeans from all walks of life rejoice in our only Gold medal won by a local true blue Singaporean in the 2016 Rio Olympic Games. Schooling’s historic performance breaking the 100m Butterfly record in the Olympic Games has done us proud. This came after 56 years. It’s the only Gold medal where we are proud of. Images of Schooling’s fantastic feat kept playing on the television and social media. No one can escape the euphoria surrounding that momentous event. It was a Schooling day indeed!

Every leap year; once in 4 years, the Olympic Games lasting 2 weeks are held in a different country. It is the most watched event on planet earth with billions glued to the box or keeping track via newspapers, radio and Internet. Even the World Cup did not garner such an immense interest. It is the time where nations pit against each other in the sporting arena for glory and honor witnessed by billions across the globe. It is also the time where glory is scored and history is made. The sweet victory of the winners and the despair of the vanquished are clearly displayed on their faces as the drama unfolds before our eyes. It is the only single most important international event that cuts across all barriers of race, color, creed or boundaries where talented young men and women from all nations compete ruthlessly for fame and immortality. As it is, so many surprises and unexpected hiccups already happened in the games.

Tiny Singapore; a little red dot with slightly 5 over million people sprung a surprise when Joseph Schooling clinched the Gold medal in the 100m butterfly swimming event. His win has brought all Singaporeans together. We are all united in our support for him. In the social media; irrespective of your political affiliations all express support and admiration for him. Sports can really unite a nation as this historic win has clearly demonstrated. His win has rallied us together as a nation.

This morning, when I responded to a call at MacRitchie Reservoir picking up a group of Englishmen to a condominium at Kim Keat Close just behind the Hawker Centre, they were excited about our local boy having beaten the legendary American swimmer. They were happy for Singapore. The so many pax I picked up today were so proud of our only Gold medal win in the Olympic Games.

When I mentioned to a local Chinese that we had won a few silver medals since 1960, he was not pleased at all. According to him, there were only 2 medals i.e. In 1960 when Tan Howe Liang won the Silver medal in weight lighting and now the swimming Gold medal. He said in Mandarin, “拿别人的屁股做脸皮” not proud at all. He was referring to those table tennis players. I’m not going to elaborate further. I’ll just say that this time round it’s different cuz we could feel the pride in us when our boy sang Majulah Singapura when our flag was raised up high witnessed by billions around the world. They must be wondering where is this tiny little red dot that broke all previous 100m Butterfly records. We could feel the butterflies flying in our tummy indeed!

Creative netizens were quick to capitalize on Schooling’s name and his historic win. Below are some of the interesting creative messages.

We know that the Olympic Games is the pinnacle of sports. Once you hit it there, the rest is history. Henceforth, our local boy Joseph Schooling will be sweeping all the Butterfly swimming medals in all other games i.e. Asian Games, SEA Games, ASEAN Games, International Meet etc. He will be Singapore’s gold mine in all these future sporting events. He’s only 21 yrs old. He’s got many more years to win for us many more gold medals. At such young age hitting instant stardom will come with a price. Hopefully, he could handle all the subsequent fallouts and remain steadfast in his swimming career to bring more glory for our country. Let’s pray that he’ll not be overwhelmed by this great success. It seems that at every Olympic Games, only Tan Howe Liang is mentioned. Now, we got another name to remember. Whatever rewards he’ll get, he really deserves it. He has done his National Service for Singapore by making history in that event.

Lohcifer has this to say;

“I hope his accent won’t get more phony still. (I’ve lived and worked in the States longer than Joseph Schooling but I haven’t got a phony accent.) Girls – especially gold diggers – will fall at his feet. Banks and insurance agents will want part of his price money. Endorsement deals will come his way. The government and thick-skinned politicians like that shameless Lee Bee Wah will and have already claim credit. There will be a mad scramble as kiasu parents sign their kids up for swimming lessons. Some Singaporeans will behave as if they contributed to his success. Neighboring countries will make sarcastic remarks, as always. Perhaps one day he will replace that Ng Ser Miang and really add value. Political office may also be a possibility (just like the legendary footballer Pele?)”

Whatever it is, he has done us proud. We share in his victory as Singaporeans. He has thru’ his success united us as Singaporeans especially at that priceless moment when he sang our National Anthem with our flag raised up high at the Olympic Games. We wish him well and hope that he will bring us further glory.

The sense of pride as Singaporeans was equally felt when the most powerful nation on earth recently hosted a lavish state dinner for our PM. When PM sang Majulah Singapura at the White House we know we have come this far as a nation and our rightful place on earth. Our existence is assured and we will prevail forever earning our living as a tiny nation.

Hidup lah Singapura! 

Majulah Singapura!

Update 
For the first time in Singapore’s history, the Prime Minister will move a motion in Parliament to recognize a sportsperson for outstanding results at the Olympic Games. On Monday’s Parliament sitting, Joseph Schooling will be thus honored for his historic performance, breaking the Olympic Games butterfly swimming record, and giving Singapore it’s first-ever Olympic gold. 

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Reflections of a taxi hirer

​I’ve just completed 2 full years as a taxi hirer. On 5 Aug 2014, I took out my i40 taxi from Hyundai Komoco. Prior to that, I was a relief driver for about 8 months after I got my taxi vocational license on 15 Jan 2014. It’s now the appropriate time to press the pause button and reflect on my trials and tribulations I’ve gone through before I become a full fledged taxi driver. I’m now more confident and steady on my chosen profession. I’m definitely no way better compared to those veteran taxi drivers who are much more skillful than me. But I’m sure I’ll get there soon.

My taxi is already 2 yrs old. It has clocked more than 350,000 km to date. The wear and tear is getting quite obvious with scratches and dents here and there. On average I clock about 200 km per day. Since I drive everyday on the day shift, I have so far clocked more than 150,000 km. As such, I’ve managed to tame my “iron horse” to my whims and fancy at this juncture even though still not able to blend into nirvana state where the soul of the machine and myself merged into one entity. I’ll get there in due course.

In my previous job, for 18 yrs I was driving trains on the East/West line. Almost everyday, I was in the train driving cab aging as the train also ages. I’m now looking fit and better than before with enough sleep without those crazy rotating shifts and bizarre reporting hours in my previous life. At least, I have no TB to worry about! That’s according to some of my ex-colleagues who happened to bounce onto me. The trains on the other hand are getting more sick and unfit now.

When I started driving my taxi nearly 3 yrs ago, I was a nervous wreck and a hopeless lame duck with zero knowledge on prominent land marks with no road sense even though I got my driving license in Mar 1984 at FTB (Force Transport Branch at 4th Ave Bukit Timah). Yup, I was a trained police driver performing team policing – driving police patrol cars all over the island attending to cases. I’d ever mentioned, to pass the full time Taxi Vocational course conducted by Taxi Academy is only the beginning at the foothills. Now LTA has decided to shorten the Taxi Vocational License course and also remove some of the modules! Is it not clearly logic defying? Do these policy makers ever drive full-time as a taxi driver before they craft policy with far reaching consequences impacting taxi drivers and the general public using our taxi service?

Like a fish suddenly thrown out of the pond when I was unceremoniously booted out from my previous job after 18 long yrs, I had to struggle and make a decent new living in order to survive in this most expensive city in the world. I had no choice but to quickly learn the basic skills to adapt and survive in a another trade in an entirely different world – a sea infested with sharks where they are out to get you if you are not alert or careful. 3 sets of rules – Road Traffic Act, LTA Taxi Rules & Regulations and also Company’s Rules & Regulations are ever ready to whack you. Tons of cameras on every corner of the roads are also aiming at your backside.

To spend your greater part of your waking hours eking out an honest living on our roads could be a challenge. Just turn on the radio and you will hear of accidents here and there causing traffic jams. It’s a daily affair especially on weekday morning rush hours. I’ve witnessed so many aftermath crashes on our public roads. Yup, knock 3 times NOT on the ceiling but on someone’s bum, you are out of the game! I’ve not elaborated on nasty ugly customers who are always out to get you for any little inconceivable excuses.

When I started driving taxi nearly 3 yrs ago, there were not many careless road users. Now, we have to look out for electric bicycles zipping around the main roads and side roads on top of the usual walking zombies with headsets plugged into their ears.

Recently, there is another menace – the Pokemon craze that is happening right now! Just this evening, I fetched 2 crazy Frenchmen from Changi Village to a pub on Joo Chiat Rd playing Pokemon in my taxi.They were so excited about catching Pokemon and giving me instructions to slow down or go faster, making sudden turns etc! They even asked what’s my Pokemon score. I said no Pokemon for me cuz I’m driving. It’s dangerous and irresponsible. I’ll lose my license if any serious accident were to happen! What a crazy world? Now you know what I meant when I said sharks infested cesspool I was thrown into to fend for myself? Sometimes I miss that comfortable little pond.

For more than 2 yrs, I’ve more or less overcome some of those job hazards coming out stronger and wiser. Just to illustrate, I did not even know where Elias Green is even though I’ve lived at Elias Road for more than 25 yrs! I was always confused with Pasir Ris Street 51, 52 and 53 even though it’s in my neighborhood. I remember the first time when I fetched one aunty to RWS casino she had to direct me. I told her I know it’s in Sentosa but not sure how to get there. She laughed at me uncontrollably like a wicked witch! Really langgar! It was also an adventure getting into Jurong Island. Getting into the extreme Tuas South Basin area is also a maze when it took me a while to get out!

I was determined to perform well in my new job. It’s either make or break. I told myself that I’ll need to get my geography right. Every day after work, I will go through the street directory and maps to get a clearer picture. In my bedroom, there is a detailed CBD map and another larger highways map pinned on the wall. (From Mighty Minds). I need to know all the CBD gantries in order to put a city surcharge if I pick up pax inside. Also to avoid the CBD surcharge if I were to send pax just outside the restricted zone. There are only 10 expressways and yet I need to master all the exits and entrances in order to get my pax to their destination using the fastest route. These are some of the basic skills a professional taxi driver will need to master.

I just did a cursory sketch of the challenges facing a taxi hirer. Of course, there is more to it. Handling pax especially those cocky ones also need some skill. If you are not careful, you will invite a complt. We do not want to be called up by LTA or company to answer to unnecessary complaints wasting precious down time. Time is money to a taxi driver.

I’ve briefly spoken on the job descriptions as a full time taxi hirer. There’s much more I wish to say. Maybe, I’ll touch on the competition facing the taxi industry other time. Or I may even touch on the idiosyncrasies of my night relief drivers etc. That will be another blog another time. Suffice to say here that it’s not easy being a taxi hirer. Like any other professions, there are issues and problems beneath the seemingly calm exterior. In short, there is no perfect job devoid of its inherent imperfections. Different strokes for different folks!

Click here to read related article. 

One year after my termination. 

Another related article here. 

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Some observations on Dr Chee By election in Bukit Batok

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Thank you for giving me the opportunity!

By now, every one knows about the Bukit Batok SMC story. The PM has declared that a By-Election will be held soon. No sooner had the incumbent MP stepped down, our energetic Dr Chee and his party have already hit the campaign trail walking the ground in Bukit Batok canvassing for votes. All the other opposition parties have so far stayed away from the SMC gracefully bowing out to allow Dr Chee a free hand.

The public has been waiting with abated breath until recently when the PAP suddenly announced that their candidate for the Bukit Batok SMC is one Murali Pillai. Up till now, we could expect a straight one to one contest for the coveted SMC. Why did the PAP choose a minority to stand in the SMC? Most of us have not heard of M Pillai before the official announcement. It’s quite surprising and that has sent many observers to speculate on its implications.

The most glaring fact is that M Pillai is an unknown minority to the the general public. The only thing we know about him is that he stood at Aljunied GRC and lost to WP. I feel that if M Pillai could get elected into Parliament on his own merits via Bukit Batok SMC, then the concept of GRC becomes irrelevant. When GRC was first introduced on 1 June 1988, it was “primarily implemented to enshrine minority representation in Parliament.” Obviously, if M Pillai being a minority could get elected into Parliament on his own in the SMC, then it clearly demolishes the logic of GRC.

When the GRC concept was hotly debated before it became law, our founding PM repeatedly said that people usually vote along racial lines no matter how capable the candidate is. Unless, that minority candidate is someone of the highest stature eg David Marshall ( former Chief Minister ) or JBJ, most of the voters would prefer to vote along racial line. Fact is that there are no racial clusters in Singapore with racial quota imposed on public housing, the tendency is for the majority to vote their own preferred race of the candidate irrespective of whichever party. If such a trend continues, our Parliament may end up without any minority representation. Hence, the GRC was introduced to counter such a trend in our multi-racial society. The GRC is to ensure that minority MPs get into Parliament where at least one of the GRC members must be from the minority. The Americans took more than 200 yrs before they could accept a minority President. We have not reached there yet. That’s another reason why the govt is reviewing our PE to ensure that minority will have equal chance.

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If it is a recognized fact that voters will vote along racial preference, then is it not a foregone conclusion that Dr Chee being Chinese from the majority race will get into Parliament in this By-Election? Why then would the PAP allow Dr Chee to have a better chance of winning the coveted seat? Some speculate that it’s actually a giveaway.

The WP having more than 25 years of experience since they first won the Hougang SMC is still having problems running Aljunied GRC, will Dr Chee and his party able to run the town council efficiently? Not forgetting that the incumbents enjoy economies of scale in running the town councils. The PAP has been emphasizing this point to the voters in Bukit Batok. Vote for the opposition your estate may end up as ghetto and not run as efficiently as before when it was under PAP management.

Now back to the speculation that it’s a giveaway to the opposition. It’s a gamble where the PAP is trying to show to the whole Singapore that by voting in Dr Chee and his party to Parliament and if they could not run the town council well, the residents will suffer. By the next GE in another 4 to 5 yrs’ time, the incumbent party will ensue another big mandate from the electorate – a repeat of the last GE where nearly 70% gave them the mandate to rule. Co-incidentally the last GE, they also made a big fuss about the WP’s incompetence in managing their town council!

In the days to come, there will be interesting exchanges from both sides. The cut and thrust, the sound and fury in the heat of the campaign trail from both camps will certainly create much excitement. It seems that our ever cool and gentlemanly DPM is the key strategist and in-charge for the incumbent party. Whichever way the votes swing, let’s hope that the newly elected MP will serve the residents well. It also acts as a barometer to gauge the performance and popularity of the incumbent party since they swept almost all the seats except WP stronghold with much higher percentage than before. Let’s hope this By-Election is conducted in a fair and amicable manner. Remember the whole world – not just Singaporeans is watching this interesting contest with equal interest.

Will the voters in Bukit Batok SMC take the gamble and take the chance by sending Dr Chee to Parliament even though he doesn’t have the full machinery behind him? That’s the question in everyone’s mind.

Related article.

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Confusion over the new liquor law

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From the lowest to the highest food chain everyone enjoys a beer

Late last night I gone down to Elias Mall 24 hr-supermarket to do some errant. As usual, EM brethren were congregating at the coffeeshop. I thought I would just drop by to say hello. I do not usually join them in the night unless there’s an event cuz I need to wake up early the next morning to work.

When I sat down, I sensed something amiss. The usual EM kakis looked glum and gloomy. No beer bottles on the table. It’s unusual to see a clean table. No laughter or jokes. Uncannily quiet with a forlorn mood all round!

Someone passed away?

Answer is No.

When I asked them why were they not drinking as usual? All at once, just like the GPMG (General purpose machine gun), they started firing their response to my innocent question.

Apparently, last Friday (4/3/16) around 11pm, 2 uniform police officers came to “threaten” our EM brethren not to consume beer at the coffeeshop. 2 uniform police officers in their twenties – one of them is a female officer holding the rank of “naked” Sergeant (meaning 3 stripes without the Majulah Singapura crest on top of the 3 stripes. Lowest of the Staff Sgt and Senior Staff Sgt ranks), had threatened to summon them for drinking beer after 10.30pm. No explanation, no warning. Just ordered them to stop drinking and put away all the beer bottles at the coffeeshop premises or they would be summoned under the new alcohol law forbidding drinking after 10.30pm at a public place.

Of course, those EM kakis knew about the latest alcohol law which forbids drinking alcohol at a public place. As law abiding citizens they obediently complied. Only now that they were complaining about the unreasonableness of the new liquor law. Questions were put to me by them such as what if they placed their last beer order at the counter before the 10.30 pm cut-off time? They knew that I was a police officer before. So they GPMGed me with such questions.

I told them to relax lah. Even after 10.30pm, they could still drink in the coffeeshop premises until 7am! It’s only that the coffeeshop counter cannot sell beer or any liquor after 10.30pm as specified under the law. Still they refused to believe what I told them. They said that the 2 police officers specifically ordered them to stop drinking beer around 11pm last Friday at the same coffeeshop.

Out of desperation, I goggled the new liquor law and showed them on my mobile phone. Straightaway, they requested that I WhatsApp to them a screen shot so that they could show it to the police officers in case they were “threatened” with summon again. I told them no need lah. Just tell them to go ahead and issue summon. Let them make themselves the laughing stock for not knowing the law as professional law enforcers!

As this point, Douglas aged 70 yrs; a retired pensioned police officer all his life remarked that nowadays these young police officers are highly educated with high pay and ranks but know “nuts!” In his own words, even the little India mini-riot also couldn’t handle properly, went scattering around hiding inside the ambulance timidly as shown on YouTube for the whole world to see! They only know how to come to Elias Mall coffeeshop to “act tough” and “bully” law abiding citizens drinking beer peacefully without causing any nuisance or trouble at all. Those were the words from a veteran officer of the law who has seen much “terror” in those early days.

I believe most of us are not against the new liquor law. Actually it’s a good law with well intention. Let me elaborate.  I still recall in the late 80s and early 90s when I was attached to SOC, we had to take turns to standby almost every evening near to Golden Mile complex especially on weekends and payday! There were this category of foreign workers (the number has since reduced much with another category taking over them) consuming cheap hard liquor such as “Tiga Bintang” or “Wu Jia Pi” gathered in groups inside Golden Mile complex carpark and around the common areas.  Often, intoxicated with alcohol – late in the evening when alcohol in the blood stream reached optimum level with chattering hitting high decibels, they would gang clash resulting in bottles flying about resulting in bodily injuries and even deaths! That’s when we came in to control the situation. That category of foreign workers were tough hard laborers with a penchant for hard liquor and violence. Normal police officers were outnumbered and couldn’t handle them. Only specially trained SOC officers could do the job. Those were the days when there was no alcohol restrictions law or liquor control.

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The above explains why the new liquor law was passed in parliament after much deliberations. It is to target drunk hooligans for the havoc they wreck whilst under the influence of excessive alcohol. It is also another useful tool for the police to act before the situation gets out of control. As such, I feel that it’s a good law with good intention. It was widely debated in parliament before it was eventually passed into law.

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Minister's thinking on the new liquor law when it's hotly debated in parliament

The minister also explained that if you were to sit at one corner by yourself after 10.30pm enjoying a can of beer, the police will not go after you! Link But did the officers on the ground get the message? Did they know the intent and purpose of such a law? Or like the 2 young police officers’ – holding the “naked” Sgt rank, manner of using the new liquor law terrorizing innocent law abiding citizens in the neighborhood coffeeshop acceptable? Were they humane or people-centric when they treated EM brethren in such high handed manner? As it is, the police image has taken a hard beating recently in the light of it’s handling of the 14 yr old offender until the Minister had to make a parliamentary statement. Do we need such officers to go around throwing their weight without knowing their power limits and what the law is all about before they carry out their duty?

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The new liquor law is clear yet police officers on the ground are confused and not sure

In the meantime, our EM frens’ dejected mood turned for the better after hearing me out! Some of them started circulating screenshot of the new liquor law stating that they could drink after 10.30 pm at coffeeshop premises just in case if the 2 officers were to turn up again! Link

Posted in Langgar | 4 Comments

Happy CNY 2016 – Year of the Monkey

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Greeting from Wilson.

Today is the 15th day of the 1st lunar month. It is also the last day of CNY celebrations. After today, no more distribution of red packets or lion dances. Chinese usually celebrate CNY for 15 days on the first lunar month. CNY celebrations are now officially over. It’s back to business as usual. In mainland China, the madness of going back to the cities from the villages is now reversed. Before CNY, it was mass migration of millions from cities to the villages to celebrate CNY with folks back home. It will never happen here cuz we are such a tiny country without any hinterland. We do not have vast countryside with villages. Maybe in our case, some Chinese up north making their way back here to start work after CNY. 

月儿几时圆?
提灯问青天!
元宵十五夜;
家家庆丰年!
给您全家拜晚年!
家好运好人也好!
幸福美满更团圆!
祝您元宵节快乐!

Today is also my good friend Lohcifer’s birthday. I would like to wish him all the best. May all his wishes come true. I’ve known him since 2008 for about 8 years. I must say that our friendship has matured and blossomed notwithstanding our differences at times. I hope we could remain as friends forever with me leaving before him so that I won’t miss him. I would rather he misses me! Link

Others celebrated CNY but I kept working. My night relief took 6 days off by paying half of the taxi rental to celebrate CNY. I had to drive longer hours to cover the balance taxi rental. I did not mind at all cuz there was huge demand for taxi especially on the first 2 days of CNY. I was glad to play a small part – like all other transport workers to keep moving people around our island state during the long Chinese New Year weekend holidays. 

I started driving today around 7am till about 11am when I decided to take my meal break. I’d just dropped off a pax at airport from Ridley Park. Suddenly, I remembered my favorite Indian Banana Leaf Curry rice at Carpmael Rd. Every year, I would go there to present a red packet to the stall holder. Since today is the last day of CNY, I wasted no time by driving empty cab from the airport to the place.

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When I reached the stall at the coffeeshop, every thing seemed normal but I did sense something was amiss. I did not notice the “daughter” of the original first generation stall holder and her helpers. There were 3 Indian men whom did not look like locals. I asked where is sister? He replied in halting English that “sister no more”! My heart jumped a little. “What you meant by no more?” “Oh, she retired already. She sold the stall to my boss already!” The smiling Indian man as if he had just achieved a successful coup d’etat asked me what is my order? I then briefed him on my favorite masala chicken, daal, chicken curry, 2 veggies and an extra hard boiled chilli egg. I then proceeded to order my drink and washed my hands thoroughly cuz I usually eat with my right hand. Before that, I presented him a red packet and told him to give it to sister. He quickly usurped it into his shirt pocket with an even broader grin!

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My Indian banana leaf curry rice aka "pukul mati" lunch

When I came back for the pukul mati i.e. Indian curry rice on banana leaf, he charged me $8.00. It cost much more than the usual $6.00 I paid for. If sister were still there, she would have thrown in extra fried fish or chilli ikan billis. Not in this case. The cooking standard has gone down. Service not that good anymore. No more personal touch. Usually the daughter would greet me warmly with some exchanges. Not anymore!

Sadly, the stall holder has sold off the business lock, stock and barrel to another Indian operator. The name of the stall will be changed in due course. I’ve been patronizing this particular stall since 1990 when I was an investigator at Bedok Police station from the original first generation stall owner till the daughter taking over and shifting 3 places around the vicinity. More than 25 years have lapsed and the family running the said stall have finally called it a day. Nothing lasts forever!

Through the years, on every CNY I would present a red packet to the old lady of the stall. She would keep all the red packets collected over the years and showed them to me and others whenever I visited them around CNY. The spirit of “give and take” persisted on with the daughter always giving me extras in return for the few dollars in the red packet. I used to tell them the red packet is meant for luck. I wish her food business would flourish with more customers. They are honest local Indians who believe in returning in kind. The “推” and “拿” moves in tandem to give life its meaning with complete fulfillment. For without the “推” and “拿”, it loses the joy of living. Our Malay friends would connote it as “tarek” and “hulur”. Yup, in life we tarek and we hulur. It’s a 2-way process that synergies our warm relationships and bond us together as humans. As I was trying hard to finish my pukul mati under this new ownership of the same particular stall, I realize there was none! I do not think I will ever go there any more. 

After frequenting the said stall for more than 25 yrs, it has finally come to an end. I could only wish that the daughter would remain fit and healthy enjoying her retirement. Hopefully I could meet her some day and personally wish her well.

Link

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2 days before CNY, on 6/2/16 (Sat), we had a big reunion dinner at EM coffeeshop. 2 tables with more than 30 of us having the biggest feast of the year to usher in the CNY – Year of the Golden Monkey. Each of us paid $50 to Alan Taxi whom organized the said dinner. It was a great success with so much drinks (sponsored by members) and food. We even had BBQ of fresh seafood by the side of the coffeeshop. One of our members who is an Executive Chef in a 6-star hotel sponsored us with tons of abalone, huge fresh prawns, Peking roasted duck, scallops etc. It was truly a gathering to be remembered for a long time.

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On the 1st day of CNY, early in the morning before I even woke up from my slumber, Datuk Freddie as usual delivered 9 pieces of rabbit fish aka CNY fish to my flat. The figure 9 connotes “longevity” or “everlasting” in Chinese. Fish which is a must for CNY symbolizes “extra” or “abundance”. My good friend has brought everlasting abundance to my humble abode by hand delivering 9 pieces of fresh rabbit fish. This time round, he attached a red packet to the packet of fish. This is the 7th consecutive year he has done so! I hope Datuk Freddie will dutifully carry on this yearly tradition bringing joy and happiness to all his relatives and friends. Myself and Lohcifer are amongst the beneficiaries. Thank you Freddie for all the fishes throughout the 7 years you have personally hand delivered to me in your luxury sedan. Link

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The 9 pieces of CNY fish from Freddie

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Freshly steamed Teochew style

Last year, it was about $60 per kg which he bought from the Senoko wholesaler fish market. This time, it cost only about $10 to $15 per kg. Perhaps, it’s a reflection of the bad times ahead or maybe more fish in supply? Let’s pray for the best in the year of the monkey.

As usual, I gave a red packet with 2 mandarin oranges to my night relief drivers for luck when they took over my shift. I’ve driven 2 CNYs on this taxi. Hopefully I could drive for another few more CNYs before I call it a day!

On the 6th day of CNY i.e. 13/2/16, our taxi course mates gathered at the usual Kallang HC for our annual gathering to catch up. Sadly only 8 of us turned up with the rest not in town or occupied with other events. Some of them have already given up taxi and moved on to other jobs. Amongst other things, we discussed about taxi vocational license about to expire by Jan 2017. By end of this year, it’s time for another medical checkup, taxi refresher course and paying up whatever we owe to CPF medical account before we are allowed to renew in order to earn a decent living plying the streets in our taxi. Link

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Only 8 of us out of the original 40 trainees in our TVL class turned up!

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About 2 hours later, we took a group picture for remembrance. Like all Singaporeans crazy over the huge Toto jackpot prize, we decided to cough out $10 each to pool our share. Uncle Lai was the in charge. Last Friday, the results came out and we won only $40. We unanimously agreed to continue with the group Toto share and let it roll over to the next draw! Only 2 persons won the 13 million grand Toto prize. One of our EM members disclosed to us that his friend’s friend aged only 39 years is one of the 2 lucky winners. The God of Fortune favored him over all the others to make him an overnight multi-millionaire!

As for me and the rest of us, life goes on. I’ll still drive taxi as usual and keep a look-out for those monkeys hiding in the bush. Better be careful and watch out or we will suffer when our hard earned takings for the day are all donated to them!  

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