Reflections on my termination

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It’s exactly one full year since I stopped writing on my blog. I blogged from 20 Oct 2011 to 20 Oct 2012. Many of my friends and followers urge me to continue writing. I did not realize that I have so many friends and followers out there. Much has happened since then. Most importantly on a personal level, I have lost my job. I am now unemployed.

After 18 long years of driving trains, I’m now told that I was not fit or competent to drive trains. I was terminated from my job end of last month. It’s now more than 3 weeks since I stopped reporting to work. In such a big organization, I was even deemed unfit for any other job. I was compensated with one month salary after I was told to leave.

For almost 18 years, I live, sleep and breath within the train system. I worked almost every day including off days unless I was on courses or on leave. I can’t even recall when was the last time I reported sick. I work with all kinds of odd hours with bizarre reporting timings and rotating shifts with rotating off days. Almost everyday, I had to remember my train timings, places (depots, stations and different platforms etc) to take the trains and worry about my train schedules. If I miss taking the train, the handing over driver will need to continue driving the train. With few misses within a short time-span, it’s out you go. That is one example of many where I was always pre-occupied with trains – even in my sleep; over the last 18 years. I had to force myself to sleep if I were to wake up at 4am the next morning to prepare for work sleep or no sleep! The train must be launched from the depot! No one will understand what I’m trying to say here except the 400 over train drivers in the system whose job is to move millions of passengers regardless of rain or shine, flooding or ponding, lightning or thunder!

Even though I no longer work in my previous company, I still can’t go into the details of my termination and other work related issues here. You know they are big powerful organization and I am just a nobody. Shakespeare is correct when he says,

“As flies to wanton boys;
Are we to the gods.
They kill us for their sport.”

I’m just like a small fly where they can just kill me for their sport! I really can’t afford those legal tussles in court. We must bear in mind that this is Singapore. We are unlike those first world developed countries.

Actually they are not wrong in terminating my service if they feel that I am not up to their expectations. Just like if I were to get another better job offer, I could also give one month notice or pay back one month of salary if I were to leave immediately. In my case, it is they asking me to leave with one month extra salary. On the surface, there is nothing wrong with it. No one can fault them. But then as in the Chinese saying, “我这鞍前马后的,没有功劳也有苦劳呀。” (After all my loyal service I at least deserve some recognition for my efforts.) But then like I said earlier, this is Singapore. We are unlike those first world advanced countries.

My friend “Dark Knight”, a regular visitor to India who has friends and relatives in that huge developing third world country told me that they treat their workers much better. In the railway industry there, it is usually the son taking over the father’s job when the latter retires. They always try to re-deploy their workers if they no longer able to perform in the designated job due to whatever reasons. If the worker dies on the job, they would try to find a suitable job for the widow or son just to ensure that the family could survive with a source of income. Their salary may be much lower than us, but they do take care of their workers well in that sense. Here it is different. Everything boils down to bottom-line and costs. It’s too profit driven even for a mass public transport operator. So I say again, this is Singapore. We are different from them even as we compare ourselves with a poor 3rd world developing country like India.

My FT Indian friend Manish had this to say, “… India maybe 3rd world country but it seems that Singapore is poorer than India in all respects now. If they can’t take care of a person who served 18 yrs loyally, then it’s curtain down for them where human values are concerned. You take care my friend.” PS: Reproduced with permission.

Throughout the 18 years in my previous company, there were at least 3 job offers along the way. My friend Yam who ever worked with me (he was my field Sgt in CID) never gave up until the 3rd and last time about 2 years ago when he encouraged me to try as CSO in a big organization with nearly $3.6K. I told him that I could earn much more than that. He was aghast. He did not know that my gross salary could go up to more than $6k a month. That is what I meant by working round the clock without any rest to earn that much. Money doesn’t fall from the sky like they say.

Enough of my rantings about my previous employer. It really serves no purpose to talk bad about them. Sometimes, people take it as “damaging their reputation and image” when I was merely stating the facts. In fact, I must thank them and be grateful to them for giving me 18 years of employment when I left the Police Force as an Investigation Officer on my own accord due to the extreme stress, never ending court cases and investigation papers. I was then so glad that I found my dreamt job operating trains until end of last month. I am a realist and I accept that it is better to move on. What else can I do?

My good friend Sgt Lee says, “One door is closed, hopefully another door will open.” He could say that cuz he’s armed with a string of diplomas, certificates and courses such as taxi license, tunneling supervision course, Safety Officer, Tourist Resort diploma, Foot massage diploma etc.. Everybody is waiting to take away your lunch if you are not careful. This is Singapore and no one owes us a living here.

I was working most of the time. Whenever my friends called me or messaged me, I would tell them I’m at work. I even had a template ready to reply them. One of them goes like this, “I’m now working. Even though you have shark fins or abalone, I also can’t join you. My sincere apology. Will meet you other day!” One of my friends used to say “your other day will never come!”

Once they came to know that I was terminated, calls and invitations started coming in. For more than 3 weeks, almost everyday especially evenings, I would get invitations from my friends to join them in EM, Kovan, Yishun, Ang Mo Kio and even Pasir Ris Dr 6 coffeeshops! They know there is now no excuse to turn them down. When I tried to pay, they always declined especially Wilson who frequently asks me to go lunch with him. Last Friday, Dark Knight brought me to JB. We spent the whole day there roaming JB where he introduced me to his regular car workshops, best roti prata, fish head curry, foot massage etc. It’s a luxury I rarely indulged!

After 18 years in the company, there are many colleagues expressing shock and concern at my sudden departure. Another dark knight Joseph called me few times to offer me a security job in his brother’s company. Some called to offer suggestions and advice on my unemployed status. Many talked about me at work in my absence. Generally they miss me around. Dr Dos was quite upset from what I heard even though he never spoke to me. We are so closed that we understood each other. No need to talk physically. We communicated telepathically.

Now that I got so much time on my hands, I get myself organized. I did lots of housekeeping in my own house. I have finished half a dozen of novels. The two Ian Hamilton’s Iva Lee novels Lohcifer gave me months ago, I finished within a week. I’ve even visited those places usually I would like to go but could not due to lack of time when I was totally committed and devoted to my work.

At least I am still fit and alive. Throughout my 18 yr career in my previous company, I have seen at least 5 of my colleagues dropped dead due to heart attacks, accidents, cancer or other causes. The past few weeks have given me much reflection and thoughts about work and living as my finishing line draws nearer. I didn’t have much time to ponder all those issues. There was no time to stand and stare! Now I do. If I was not terminated, I could have ended up like one of them dropped dead madly chasing the last few dollars and pushing tolerance to the limits with little rest and no work-life balance.

It’s only less than one month since I left my previous job. I plan to take another month break or maybe start working again next year. It’s going to be the longest vacation I ever take! Thank you all for your good words and concern. I am so overwhelmed by all of you – I can’t name them all; that I had to break my silence to go public about my current status.

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About Gintai_昇泰

I'm a Chinese Singaporean living in the Eastern part of Singapore. I tweet on current affairs & inspirational quotes. I blog on issues or events if they interest me. I write for pleasure. I also write mainly for my family and friends. At least they know I'm still alive and well. It's a free country. No one is forcing you to read if you don't like what I write. I'm entitled to my own opinions. Having said that, there are still retards, morons and losers out there hiding behind anonymity hurling all kinds of insults and wicked remarks on my blog. I guess we'll just have to live with these cowardly mangy dogs found in any society. Sigh!
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92 Responses to Reflections on my termination

  1. seven says:

    welcome to the growing club of retrenched spore workers.
    it is the lot esp of older sporean workers, even while we
    are lectured on having to keep on working.
    it is disgusting tt they gave you just one month’s pay!! esp
    since they whine about not having enough pple to enter
    your line. is there no recourse to MOM on this?

    PLSE enjoy your break. you will find yrself recharged.
    and you will need to be, before you plunge back into the
    hurly burly, as the job market here Sucks, BIG time.
    explore the life u forewent for work.

    keep your mind open to all possibilities. try things you
    have vaguely wanted to try. u never know how things
    could work out! consider your abilities. meanwhile, all
    the V Best and I hope that we can now read u again.

  2. Cowpeh says:

    Gintai, thank you for driving me to work, to school when I was young, and back home late in the night. Your hard work has brought happiness and joy to many Singaporeans and even foreigners. Keep going, keep blogging, we won’t forget you.

    Cowpehcowbu.wordpress.com

  3. Welcome back my friend. That was a sad story that depicts a situation that many Singaporeans will face as our candle burns out. I wish you all the best in their later endeavors.

  4. Pingback: Blogger Gintai_昇泰 terminated from his job? - www.hardwarezone.com.sg

  5. Anonymous says:

    It is not only happen to you …

    Many workers faced such … I have seen too many of such happened in my environment …

    The reason Employers can get away scot-free due to that Singapore does not have human rights for protecting workers …

  6. yuene says:

    Gintai,

    Take it as a god-given and well-deserved break! I’ll be very honest with you, working so hard is pretty pointless in an environment like this; as my ex-husband succinctly pointed out, we are highly expendable, and if we died on the job, there would be 1minute of “oh, sorry to hear that”, before someone asks, “so have we put out the advert to replace him?”

    And yes, do get back to blogging. I miss reading your posts🙂

  7. Bryan Ti says:

    The original blog post by Gintai is titled “Reflections on My Termination”.

    But TRS hideously re-titled it as “Reflections After Being Fired from SMRT as a Train Driver For Blogging”.

    Does Gintai think that TRS’s title for the article reflects what he wants to say?

  8. My dearest Friend,
    I can`t express how sad I am after reading your termination report. It was only yesterday when we both where sitting at this special saturday-morning-hidespot and our on-going warm conversation was accompagnied by a heavy rain fall. We have spoken about this and that, about your world and my world, always in a common sense although we are from totally different cultures. But friendship does not know any nationality, we are all humans. Since I was rewarded with your friendship a couple of years ago – initialized by the highly esteemed singaporean mentor of both of us- I appreciate sharing your thoughts about humanity, social life, companionship and your deep expertise of human acquaintances. I can imagine how you feel, but as such a strong and unique character you are, you will arise from this current situation with even more strength.

    I read your last report very carefully, on and on again. Although your personal and mental circumstances may not be the best at present, you don`t accuse your employer nor don`t you write any harsh words in your diary. This is really admirable and the evidence for your honesty. Dear Alan, I`m really proud of being your friend. See you next Saturday.
    Uncle Bodo

    • Uncle Bodo,
      Thank you for your kind words. I’m touched by your warm words. I promise you I’ll visit Munich, Germany one day. It’s convenient now that there’s a direct flight there. Pls inform Uncle Heinz to visit my blog.

  9. yewfai says:

    Thank you for everything for the past 18 years. It is very likely that I would have been on one of your trains all this time. Take heart that all things will work out. They always do over the course of time. 此处不留爷, 自有留爷处.🙂

  10. Chris Chow says:

    What did you vote for? If you did NOT vote for this current situation, you have my empathy as a fellow Singaporean. If you did, I am sorry for you.

  11. mik says:

    sorry to hear about your retrenchment. it seems illogical that they would let go of you when they are bringing in more trains to the fleet which means more drivers will be needed. hope that your connections get you a good job, but in the meanwhile, enjoy your rest and meetups with your old friends!

  12. DK says:

    Sorry to hear that. I’m surprised that SMRT didn’t transfer you to other departments. Even if you are unfit to drive, surely there will be other jobs within the company that is suitable for you. Sigh.

    All the best. Wishing you good health.

  13. voiddecker says:

    Can’t keep a good man down and this may just be your opportunity to a new door opening. All the best!

  14. Adam Latip says:

    Bro thank you for driving us, all these long years.

  15. Michael Ozaki says:

    !8 years, is very long time, how to get another 18 years of experience, in all kind of jobs? With experience you can apply.. . No 2 to 5 year, you cannot get the Job. That is call job fair or job is fair.. You past employer or the HR should go to……. Mathematic. What is the meaning of Life in prison?

  16. Pingback: [Blog] Blogger terminated from his SMRT job - www.hardwarezone.com.sg

  17. Ali Baba,15th thief says:

    Dear Gintai,
    Occasionally, I do read your blog, but to read about your termination after 18 years you gave to an organisation and to be given another month salary with the termination, I am lost for words with what you have written above. If I am right you mentioned that, “this is Singapore” 4 times. This is not the Singapore our parents and we grew up to be. Something is wrong here, something is very wrong with this country. What makes a country great, it leaders or it citizens? It become useless and for some helpless to look into the future when one built one’s “home” half way and given a “chop” that you are no longer useful to the organization. I can see you can accept this with “this is Singapore”. No! No! No! Is this the Singapore we want our Singaporeans and their children to be same like you when they grow up and work, to be given similar termination just like you and their future disrupted? I read of late, there were many parents encouraging their kids to emigrate, why should this be? This is our country and we have the birth right to stay instead of seeking else where to start a new life. Leaders in other countries are removed in a democratic way when the citizens see that their interest are not look into. If we want to stay and make this is Singapore, a better place for all Singaporeans to call this home, then every single citizens must decide whether the leaders should stay or to change new leaders democratically. For one person to go away into the unknown is like certain death, but for all to stay and have a vision for the future, build and share for all, one and all would stand a better change of survival. I can only hope all citizens will unite and decide what they want for Singapore and for the future generations of Singaporeans.
    Let me conclude, I hope you will take time this time round to smell the flowers at the wet market or at a florist shop, or take a walk and feel in the sand at Pasir Ris beach and continue to give your thoughts through your blog, Gintai. Good luck!

  18. ive never read your blog and this was my first time. I’m sure you would find another job soon. This is a depressing post. Please keep writing…..let us know when you get back into the working world. Till then, keep eating and enjoying life!

  19. Anonymous says:

    Dear Gintai,

    Do you have an email?

    I would like to contact you.

    I have entered my email in this reply.

    If you can see it, please email me.

    Best regards,
    Sean

  20. Davin says:

    It really blows that they kicked you out. Have you considered applying for a similar overseas job and moving out of Singapore?

    Despite the recent shenanigans surrounding the MRT system, the MRT has a pretty good reputation around the world and you could try applying for a similar job in Australia or elsewhere. If Singapore doesn’t want to value you, you have the right to take your skills elsewhere, where people value you.

  21. Ex Singaporean says:

    If you feel you deserved to be retrenched, then you do. Why? You obviously have not worked yourself to death and at the cheapest cost possible to the company! If you feel you deserve better then you should have stood up for yourself. Why encourage other people to slob and work themselves to death? Is it worth it to make someone else richer?

  22. Anonymous says:

    Respect to you

  23. Dear Gintai,
    Losing one’s job after 18 years can be quite traumatic especially under unreasonable circumstances. But you don’t fret. That’s admirable. Maybe you would like to consider ferrying people around to different places behind four wheels instead of countless wheels on fixed routes. Contact me, anytime! James Lim…taxi driver…cabby 65.

  24. Sam says:

    18 years service. Terminated reason “unfit”. Retrenchment benefit 1 month.
    Where is Minister TCJ & his MOM or Minister LSS & his NTUC?
    Shameless, SMRT.
    More shameless, PAP Govt.
    Furthermore, taxpayers still paying some old horses PAP members with monthly pension.
    These leeches only need to serve 2 terms (10 years), entitled pension for life.

    • Funny, when Gintai is taking it in his stride, why are you the one whining?

      • M Tye says:

        He did not explicitly “badmouth” his employer but there are enough implied meanings, innuendos, and veiled accusations for anyone with brains to decipher. These behavioral traits probably got him fired in the first place. A smart person can read what is not written.
        This man is playing with fire and walking on ice.

  25. Barrie ONT says:

    Hey Gintai, good to see you blogging after so long. But sad to see such a big company does not have the sense to appreciate long serving employees. Take care and wishing you all the best.

  26. Hak Lim says:

    G’day Gintai, are u a member of any union? If yes, what have the union got to say or done for you?

  27. My point too. Are you not unionised?

  28. Ravi Chandar says:

    Hi bro, miss you very much at work. It’s been a pleasure working with you. Thank you for the cooperation and hard work you have put in the past years.You were there when I needed you the most and have gone out of your way to get things running. Maybe this is happening to you because there’s another great openig waiting for you. Pls keep in touch and wish you all the best.

    • Nandri! You are the best CMT! You are always understanding towards those TCS working under you. It’s a fact.

      • Anonymous says:

        Gintai, I don’t know you, but from your writing and comments, I see a very down to earth, humble person, not to forget a real Singaporean who speaks all kinds of language, and in this instance, Nandri to your colleague.

        Wish you all the best, and SMRT’s gonna wish they’ve not fired you at the first place. I’m sure a lot of people will share your story and this will go viral. I see fire fighting for the Social media team of SMRT….

        Once again, good luck!

  29. My friend, sorry to hear about your termination. We hardly correspond since you stopped blogging. I don’t understand. You’re still way too young to be medically unfit so I’m totally confused why you’re being terminated.
    In any case, I wish you all the best in your future endeavours. Do give me a buzz should you wanna meet up with this ape again, ya?

    • Ape,
      You are an old fren indeed. Every yr we are subject to compulsory medical checkup. I’m fit as a fiddle. No question about that. We’ll drink again one day. Cheers!

  30. Congrats on starting a new phase in your life, wishing you all the best, enjoy your well deserved vacation!

  31. patriot says:

    18 years of dedicated service and loyalty simplymeans nothing in Sin.
    The Reason is that employers could easily replace anyone for the job at a much lower pay to do the job, now that foreigner can be hired.

    Any surprise if many foreigners are waiting to take over your job at half or one third less pay then You?

    Singaporeans have to bear in mind that the bottomline is the Main and or the Only Concern of any company or organization today.
    Loyalty and dedication to work in Singapore are worth nothing nowadays.

    Anyway, no use brooding over spilt milk; take a good rest and be prepared to slog again. Keep yourself fit and healthy to face great challenges ahead.

    patriot

  32. Gintai, I salute you for taking this in your stride. And not badmouthing your previous employer shows that you are a real gentleman. Salute!!!

    Whatever the reason for your termination, I believe both sides will have their reasons. But it is good to hear you are not begrudging them.

  33. lonelyreload says:

    Sorry to hear this, take care~

    Regards, http://www.lonelyreload.com

  34. Pingback: SMRT Terminates Services Of Its Most Prolific Blogging Train Driver

  35. Look on the bright side. Now you can blog all you want. 天无绝人之路. With so many friends and sympathisers around, I’m sure you’ll find a way out.

    • Toothfully,
      You are correct in a sense. But I must not work in GLC or Stat Board. If I drive taxi like James then no problem. Remember this is Singapore. We are unique. We are not like those advanced countries. No other country in the world has Internet laws or rules except Sg. That’s s fact. Do you see my point.

      • Of course I see your point. One of the options you consider should include getting out of Singapore. Even taxi drivers require a vocational licence issued by LTA.

  36. SG Girl says:

    18 years of loyalty, 1 month compensation. 人生有几个十八年?

    Rest well, stay fit (physically and emotionally) and move on.

  37. Anonymous says:

    This is the kind of working environment the PINKIES is expecting we Singaporeans to endure. The ruling party whom we have entrusted our future care more for their cronies than the people that voted them into government.

  38. Hi Alan

    Also, I am surprised that you are only given a peanut compensation for terminating your 18 year long service.  You said it’s one month right?

    In HK, for any organisation, let alone MTR in HK, for your kind of category of staff, if the corporation fire you, you will be compensated with one month for each year of service you are employed, thus for your case, it’s 18 month salary, and it’s NON TAXABLE, because this is your termination compensation.

    Furthermore, they got to make sure that they DONT HIRE A REPLACEMENT WITHIN A YEAR, to replace your position, because if they do, you will have a strong ground to sue them for UNFAIR DISMISSAL.

    Regards
    Agnes

  39. Lee WW says:

    Dear Sir,

    I admired you a lot when I first saw your blog (not sure when) but notice that you have stop writing (blogging) suddenly (sometime end last year). I know must be some pressure from the top when they read your blog which is not in their favour.

    As this has happened to you and I know how you feels if such situation falls onto (I was once out of job for almost 5years) then out of desperation, I took up taxi licence and drove for 1 and half year until beginning 2012, I got a job again.

    I am glad that you are positive and take it as a long vacation after 18 years of working. Look at the bright side, as such termination may be good that no ones know. I trust after your break, you will be landed in something better.

    Keep writing and most of the reader enjoy reading what you write!

    Good luck and god bless!!

    Best regards,

    Lee

  40. Elsie says:

    Hi Gintai, this is the first visit and surely not my last. I’m really sorry to read your plight. Take it as a blessing in disguise. Like you said, if you didn’t leave, your ‘dedication’ to work could have caused you serious health problems. I left SGP to pursue a masters in Melbourne and eventually settled there. I do come home at least twice a year to deliver intensive workshops. i used to think, perhaps I should return home and give back to my society. Sadly, it recent years, I’ve become unsure. ALL my relatives and friends have said “don’t even think about it”…I must admit SGP is no longer what I was used to. I feel like a stranger each time I come back. My friends told me your case is not uncommon. Pardon my French but I think management that do this are a bunch of f88kwits! Whatever it is, Gintai, I hope and wish you all the very best on what the future holds of you.

  41. Scope says:

    Small matter. I was once teaching… but after me been me, I also got terminated without even explanation (there won’t be like any anyway).

    No matter… situation is changing as how I have seen it.

    Today they terminate you…
    …tomorrow you terminate them. LOL~

    What is more important… what is your real goal in life.

    Before this, you may be seeing unemployed in a funny lens. You may working for 18 or 180 yrs in a mundane cycle.

    What matters most is… what has this termination waken you? LOL~

    To tell you a small secret… I joined civil service knowing very well I’d be soon terminated. You’d read in my memoir why.

    Good luck.

  42. FQ says:

    Dear Gintai,

    Your past is behind you and your future is still in front of you, always.
    When your weary wears off soon, you’ll be up on your feet once again and another chapter of your life has begun with better outlook I’m very sure will happens..!

    So why worry.

  43. Anonymous says:

    Dear Alan,

    Just take it as a forced change in career for the better. Human beings are typically adverse to changes so we will not want to change. Maybe you deserve a job that need not requires you to wake up at 4am? Or a job that gives you quality of time? Or even health problems in the long run, we wouldn’t know isn’t it? The list goes on. If you think positive, then positive things will come to you. Remember, if it doesn’t kill you it makes your stronger.

  44. Kim Liang says:

    Hi Gintai. you are such an interesting character. really like to know you someday.
    all the best to you during this difficult time, maybe not so bad for you – I hope so.
    I was unemployed for 1,5 years during 2008 crisis, man that was tough.

    take care bro

  45. Anonymous says:

    I think people SHOULD NOT unnecessarily POLITICIZE this matter. Gintai’s previous company is a private sector corporation. He may not be happy with the termination (who would?) but given time, he will be fine. Yes, we are just human beings and it is natural to be upset. I think people who don’t know the in-depth situation should refrain from finger pointing or worst still, politicize matter.

    • Shadow says:

      And then we begin to think, why the masses always end up wanting to point the finger to the incumbent government? Do we entirely blame them for that science of the mind?
      Overall, it’s a blog and everyone is free to pen their thoughts on the subject. Let’s not get too critical aite.

    • george says:

      With due respect. The onus is on the SMRT to explain to the public. On the face of it, it smacks of victimisation becasue he blogs and the new military-types in charged are damned afraid of their secrets being leaked by an employee who blogs!!!

  46. Leo Teo says:

    Hi,
    Sorry to hear about this. But as one door shuts, another opens.
    My best wishes for your future endeavours, and please keep writing.

    Btw, the BBC did a 3-part series on the hill railways of India and I thought they were magnificent.
    They show what you have described here: that the Indian Railways know how to get the small things right and thus earn the unstinting dedication, and passion, of their staff.

    Here are the links.


    Enjoy watching these, as you some spare leisure time now.

  47. Clear eyed says:

    Dear Gintai

    Sorry to learn that you’ve lost your job. You’re a real gentleman, more honourable than the people running the organisation to which you have dedicated 18 years of your life. Hope that the door to better things will open for you after your much-deserved rest. All the best and regards.

  48. Take care and best wishes.

  49. agongkia says:

    天无绝人之路,I wish you all the best and success.

  50. Remy says:

    Gintai,
    One good year of yours since you stop blogging, you write again. 18 good years since you started driving, million of people have you made them smile. One good month since you left the job, you have more time flipping over your things which you have overlooked because of your busy life style, finding back what you might miss. Next more of your good years for you to slow down your pace and look out for many friends and things that you have miss out for the past 18 years. Next more of the your good years for you to find meaning of life within our strinking Singaporean community and blog more to share and enlighten more younger Singaporean with your wisdom.

    Welcome back, looking forward to your next entry.

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