Saturday, April 30, 2005

Live from Kuching

The title should actually read "Half-Awake and Well-Fed from Kuching.

A warm hello (and I do mean warm) from the Land of the Cats - also known in myspeak as "The Land Where In-Laws Overfeed" and "The Land Where I Get To Oversleep". Thanks to the blessings of the Ingterneck , I'm now writing this from a cafe where locals rip off foreigners (that's me) for exhoribitant rates on the computer.

They charge by the hour - so like a typical kiasu Singaporean, I don't feel that I've gotten enough mileage until AFTER I spend the full hour on the computer and email alone just doesn't cut it!

God bless the exchange rate, for it alloweth me to abuse the ringgit.

I can never get over the fact that the stuff's so cheap here. And fresh (get your minds out of the gutter). This afternoon I had the freshest corn I ever tasted. Last night and this afternoon, we ate homemade popiah for lunch. Once I get home to a computer where I can actually upload photo's I'll blog on what a Real Man's Popiah is.

That's it for today's instalment. Tomorrow I will write on why local food's...local.

Friday, April 29, 2005

Into The Wind

I had a funny post. It's been sitting on my dashboard for the longest time. I just don't have the heart to complete it.

You see, today's my last day of full-time employment, for the forseeable future. I will be back, to and fro, and I know I will see them again. You don't get rid of a lawyer that easily.

Yet somehow, things are slowly changing. This is another link to Singapore I've destroyed to get to San Francisco. It's painful. Two days ago I found out one of my colleagues and best friends in my company is pregnant. She's the first of my female friends that I would have had an oppurtunity to see carry a baby to term - except that now I must leave, and I won't be back until the baby's born.

Friends don't grow apart? I beg to differ. When you have a continent and time zone differences, when you start having fewer and fewer shared experiences, you slowly drift. They will have gone on with their own lives, as will you. Their kids will grow up not knowing that, sometime in the past, you shared laughter over lunchtime kopi with their parents.

I'll miss them terribly.

Wednesday, April 27, 2005

When You Blog, the World Blogs With You

Being one of the unintentional perpetrators of the recent lynch-mob style postings on Steve McDermott's blog, I found myself in the unenviable situation of watching a mob tear apart an inflammatory post. I honestly did not know which was worse.

Hence, it was with some relief that I read Cowboy Caleb's wonderful article about the Singapore Blogosphere. The post is an important and timely reminder to Singapore Bloggers.

In particular, I feel for one of the Cowboy's thoughts:

"Our blogs are being taken seriously now. Our blogs are being watched. Bloggers, thy name is Legion. They would cast us out if they could because we cannot be contro[l]led. We can make or break a person, business or idea if we choose to do so. And most of the time we are doing this, even if we’re not aware of what we’re doing."

Further, Shion, a commentator on the Cowboy's post, wrote:

"The nature of the internet , and the beauty of it, is the ANARCHY."

Darned tootin'. I'll go out on a limb and say that the "free-speech" nature of blogging is especially appealing to Singaporeans, as is the "no-holds-barred" nature of the Internet. Blogging is a powerful tool, and indeed, Singaporean bloggers do have the freedom to blog in the manner they choose.

I write this post, however, as an appeal to the good sense of Singaporeans.

Recent events have reminded me of the preferred justice system in an anarchic environment - the lynch mob. Let's face it. CZ got lynch-mobbed. So did McDermott. I can't say they were entirely faultless, but some of the responses I've seen to their postings were really disproportionate to what they deserved. I saw racist comments directed at McDermott - far worse than what CZ wrote and got lynched for. I understand that there's a strong knee-jerk reaction to a particularly inflammatory post. I know because I felt that same knee-jerk reaction when attempting to frame a response to McDermott.

But that's the whole point about having enlightened free choice right? That we don't have to do unto others as they have done to us.

Cowboy Caleb is right. The world is indeed watching our actions, and what we post. However, the world is also watching our reactions, and how graciously we bloggers treat the ungracious.

We can be a gang. Or we can be a gentlemen's club.

It's our choice.

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Tuesday, April 26, 2005

Almost Infamous Part IV

One day, a couple of years ago, I tuned my television to Channel News Asia for the first time. There, with some astonishment, I saw someone I never expected to see again.

Eh, relac with the "foxy" jokes can?

I met her in passing 10 years ago at Pre-U Seminar. She was a presenter for TPJC, and I was a presenter for ACJC. We had been allocated to the same discussion group. For reasons that were largely my own fault, I was a presenter in name only. So I listened to presentations. A lot.

I think I must have developed a bit of an infamous reputation during that Pre-U seminar. Because I was free from the pressure of having to present the school in the best possible light, I could ponder and ask questions. I also had the inclination to do so, being pissed at myself for being backbenched.

So I asked questions. I asked a lot of them. I asked very difficult questions that I knew had no easy answer. I did it because I could. I didn't care what the answers were - I just wanted to ask them to watch other people squirm.

As you can see, I was a pretty horrible teenager.

Then there was Cheryl. Cheryl was one of those incredibly sunny people that somehow had a worse reputation than they deserved. She hung around a friend of mine, Wally T, a lot. By extension I ended up hanging around Cheryl a lot. Wally T was one of those people that everyone couldn't find fault with, so he didn't mind the fact that I was a prick and that Cheryl had an undeserved rep. Heck, we even had an impromptu Rick Price karaoke session at the Istana gardens to entertain ourselves while we were waiting for the then-President to grace us with his presence. I sang Rick Price. My falsetto was a lot stronger then.

Then came the day that Cheryl's group had to present. I didn't ask a single question that day. It wasn't because I had a crush on her or anything. The target of my affections that year was someone else that will be consigned to the depths of my memory.

See, I figured that if I was that much of a prick and Cheryl hung out with me anyway, she didn't need anyone to make her life more difficult.Wally T was strangely approving of my unusual silence.

Cheryl, not sure if you remember me at all, but this one's for you.

Monday, April 25, 2005

Suspects are Guilty...Otherwise They Wouldn't Be Suspects!

Having read the recent controversy over the Shanmugram Muguretsu, I feel compelled to add my 0.02. Especially after I've seen an excellent series of articles by Gilbert Koh, here, here and here.

Let me now state that I've got the utmost respect for Gilbert Koh. If nothing else, his articles show a depth of experience as a trial lawyer I -definitely- don't have, and explain a complex area of law extremely well. He justifies the status quo position extremely well. I agree with many of the things that Gilbert isolation.

(You can see a "BUT" coming don't you?)

My apologies in advance if I offend. This post is not written to whack Gilbert's articles good good, nor to offend. This post is to point out the flaw in the operation of presumptions in Singapore.

Presumption of Death

I'm a moderate conservative. In principle, I support a country's right to impose the death sentence. I'm also all for tough crime-control legislative models, and consequently, I've no problems with Singapore using presumptions to establish guilt in hard-to-detect situations.

What I do have a problem with is the fundamental fact that presumptions are a convenience. And this particular convenience kills.

Let me explain. Under Singapore law, there is what's called a double presumption. The law presumes that when drugs found in a person's possession, the person knows the exact nature of what in his possession. The law further presumes that a person possessing drugs beyond a certain quantity (dependent on the type of drug) is presumed to be trafficking the drug.

Let's take Gilbert's second example, to wit:

"Suppose I am caught with a large suitcase of illegal drugs. One kilogram of heroin, three plastic bags of cannabis and 1,000 Ecstasy pills. And one million dollars hidden in a secret suitcase compartment."

Now, think about what happens if I just -happen- to be found holding this, cos it looks really similar to my bag and I just hauled it off the luggage belt by mistake.

Gilbert goes on further to say:

"You see, there is a remote possibility that I am not a trafficker. Perhaps I only bought the drugs for my own personal consumption, not for trafficking. I bought them in bulk and intended to consume them myself over a long time. As for the million dollars, it was all my own money, earned from my amazing luck in the stock market. Yes, I like to carry all my money in my suitcase. Of course it would be a good idea to hide it in a secret compartment!"

That's absolutely right. Except that the "This isn't my luggage" excuse is going to sound lame - even if it is the absolute truth. What happens then?

Singapore - Home of the Hard-Core

There's another presumption that I find disturbing under Singapore law. There's a provision under the Criminal Procedure Code that allows the police to take a statement from you after you've been charged. This statement has powerful legal effect - there's a presumption of adverse inference if the accused subsequently clams up or contradicts his earlier statement.

There are justifications for this - the police must be allowed to take the strongest evidence possible, and very often, this will be found in what the accused did/did not say in his initial statement, before he has a chance to fabricate an alibi.

What I find disturbing is the fact that this statement is not released to the accused's lawyers until the eve of the trial and that a lawyer is not allowed to be present during the taking of this statement. The police and prosecution essentially has its way with the accused before the defence even has a chance to breathe.

My greatest difficulty here is the erosion of the only effective legal defence against said statement - that the statement was obtained out of coercion. Case law has held that forcing the accused to sit on an ice block while blasting him with air conditioning is not coercion. It's also not coercion to deprive accused of food and drink for 9 hours.

I'm fairly sure that after this sort of treatment I'd have admitted to anything, even to things I didn't do. Especially if I wasn't advised on the consequences of my admission.


My point here is not to show that presumptions are per se bad. My point is that certain presumptions drafted under Singapore law are drafted or interpreted in a kiasu way. It captures more than what is necessary. It erodes safeguards to allow the convenience greater operation than is originally intended. Can we really afford to take shortcuts like this?

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Sunday, April 24, 2005

Some Things Aren't To Be Shared

I've had a long talk with my wife this afternoon. It concerns our two beloved stuffed toys, Fluffy and Junior.

My wife loves them a lot, so much so that she wanted to write about their "antics" (kindly provided by yours truly) on a blog of their own.

I wasn't comfortable with this. To me, the antics were for her and her only. My special gift to her. The little secret we could both share. My wife didn't understand this at first - but she does now. For this reason, she's shutting down the blog.

My apologies for inconvenience caused

Celebrity Geeks II

In my recent D&D post, shortphat K commented:

Vin Diesel a D&D geek!?!?! thing you know. Brad Pitt or some shit will be a legend of zelda fan

I didn't find any Legend of Zelda fans.


I did find a hardcore Unreal Tournament player. You'll never guess who.

Eh! Not easy to find Asia Carrera picture with clothes on okay?!

How's that for investigative journalism?

Moving On

I've discovered today that there's no getting around some biases. That includes me. I'm so biased against people making use of me that the minute I even -think- that's happening to me, I give them the royal f-o.

That's it, I'm moving on.

Saturday, April 23, 2005

Saying Goodbye

Maturity is the process of looking at your past without the filter of nostalgia.

Last evening, I returned to my alma mater to have a sneak peek of their upcoming production, Camelot. I have a friend who's now teaching there. She was my junior in ACJC drama. She's now a teacher-in-charge. My old, greatly-loved Drama teacher-in-charge is still there, but with more white hair.

Things are a lot different now, after ten years and two renovations. The drama room where I spent many an hour rehearsing for Arthur Miller plays now looks like a dance studio. There's no more carpet to tear facial skin when we got too rough.

I looked at the cast. They are good. Boy are they good. Back when we were doing our first musical, we worked off the "two-out-of-three" principle. Meaning, if you could two out of the three of sing, dance or act, you're good enough for a lead role. Now, these actors and actresses can sing, dance and act. They are lovely too. All of them. Postively glowing with the radiance of youth. Arthur was charismatic enough to hold the entire stage by himself. I could hear, see, feel the strength of Guinevere's characterisation. 18 year olds are not supposed to be that talented.

It's not fair.

Yet, for a moment when I watched them rehearse, I felt drawn back to a time when I, too, was struggling with lifts, stretching out a cramp or starting from sratch yet again because someone missed a cue. I miss the days when the only tough decision I had to make was to whether to skip class.

Who'd have known, 10 years later, that I had to decide to skip Singapore altogether?

Eyes were on me when I went into that rehearsal. Not that many eyes - I was just one of many alumni that have walked in and out of rehearsals. I know they were wondering what in dickens I was doing there. Kids, I'm saying my goodbyes. I don't know you, but you are the successors of a legacy we worked very hard to build. And watching you at that rehearsal, I'm glad it's you. This place has no place for me now. I understand that now.

I promised to have dinner with my drama friend and my teacher-in-charge. As usual, rehersals ran late and there was another ticketing crisis. As I walked out, I hesitated, then walked out. I couldn't look back. If I looked back I would never leave.

I mouthed my silent goodbyes to the place that contained so many happy memories. Goodbye ACJC. I will miss you.

Postscript: I'm going to watch Camelot. It's shit-hot, if what I see at the rehersals is any indicator. Performance is 25 - 28 May, 8 p.m at the Centre of Performing Arts, ACS Barker. Tickets priced at Tickets: $50, $100 and $200. If anyone wants tickets, email me at khaycelim-at-hotmail-dot-com.

Friday, April 22, 2005

Everything I Needed to Know, I Learnt From D&D

Some further thoughts sparked off by Mc Dermott's post on infantilism and blogging. Since I promised a while back to blog about my gaming life, here it is.

I started playing Dungeons and Dragons since I was 7. I've spent two decades playing various Role-Playing Games (not that sort you perv!). I have played superheroes, barbarians, secret agents, post-apocalyptic survivors, wizards, martial artists and cowboys. I've dressed up like a vampire. I've developed a range of character voices, from cutesy to bloodcurdling.

I honestly maintain that the best part of me was taught to me from playing Role-Playing Games.

Be Yourself

When a person takes on a role, he's both creating and enacting a fictional character - but the moments of greatness in playing a character are always moments drawn from the self. Always. One cannot fake courage one does not have.

In "escaping" to a fantasy world, you gets to discover the depths of yourself. You'd be suprised with what you can find.

Endure. In Enduring Grow Strong.

One aspect of role-playing games I particularly like is the resolution of conflict. Degrees of success are resolved through the rolling of dice. Over 20 years, I've had some awesome rolls, I've had some awful rolls.

On days where things just do not go well for you, do what you can to survive. If you just give up because you've had a bad day, you will never have a second chance. So long as you survive you always have a chance to smack the BBEG ("Big Bad Evil Guy") silly.

One In A Million

Likewise, the nature of chance, in games and in real life, is that it's often fickle. Instead of bitching about it, take some chances. You never know. Whatever you're facing may not be as badass as you think it is. Or you may be more badass than you think you are. Or even better.

You might just be lucky.

Dragons Can Be Killed

This quote from GK Chesterton says it all.

"Fairy tales do not tell children the dragons exist. Children already
know dragons exist. Fairy tales tell children the dragons can be killed".


You Can Play D&D...And Still Be Cool!

Betcha didn't know Vin Diesel is a D&D geek!


...Makeup so thick it stops bullets.

- Apocalyptic Wen

"Me! Pick Me!"

Mc Dermott wrote in this blog posting that the Singapore blogosphere was infantile (as defined in wikipedia). In contrast, Mc Dermott cited Wannabe Lawyer and Singapore Commentator as mature blogs - presumably as blogging styles that he prefers over "infantile concerns or pulling silly faces".

I'd like to write this article to address two points that come to my mind after reading Mc Dermott's posting. These are points that Mc Dermott may or may not have implied - his posting isn't long enough and I'd be presumptious to presume too much. However, in stating his preference for a certain style when dealing with weighty issues, one might imply that he does not prefer toungue-in-cheek humour. Fair enough. I just ask that my readers consider these two points.

"The Name of the Rose" Argument


In Umberto Eco's novel "The Name of the Rose" (which I didn't read, I just watched the movie), Sean Connery was on the trail of a murderer with a terrible secret. The secret was a treatise authored by Aristotle on the value of humour.

In the climax of the movie, the murderer reveals his motivation for the murder. He wished for the treatise to remain concealed, as it undermines the foundation for religious obedience - authority.

My take is that a toungue-in-cheek approach to weighty Singaporean concerns is a lot more effective than a serious, weighty approach. It's all about approach. Using a serious, weighty approach virtually requires one takes on authority head on. In Singapore, that's a losing proposition. One will be sued, ignored and discredited, not necessarily in that order. Where's the effectiveness in that? Martyrdom? Even that doesn't work in Singapore.

Using humour, however, forces the authority to make a difficult choice - to either look foolish taking on the jester, to ignore the jester's message and grit their teeth at the grain of truth in the jests, or to laugh and be subverted.

Note: I'm not advancing an argument that effectiveness is a conscious consideration in choice of style. What we are seeing in the Singaporean Blogosphere may very well be Darwinian - the most effective bloggers occupying what is, in Singapore's blogosphere, the stablest ecological niche.

The "People vs Larry Flynt" Argument


Another famous movie quote, from the movie, "The People vs Larry Flynt".

"If you're going to treat me like a baby, I'm going to start acting like one." - Larry Flynt

This quote sums up a lot that's wrong with Singapore government policy. Some of the policies are -so- boneheaded and idiotic that the only response is to laugh or poke fun at the sheer absurdity of it all. The sheer all-pervasiveness of this bone-headedness drowns out concern for weighty issues - or Singapore bloggers just poke fun at it because it's so -easy-. Logical conclusion: refer to "The Name of the Rose" argument.


I believe that the Singapore blogosphere is a natural outgrowth of the socio-economic conditions in Singapore. I understand Mc Dermott's preference for a certain style, and even respect it. I know where my preferences lie.

Rock on, Singapore Bloggers!

Postscript: BigF**k's really well-written article here. Proof that first in time does not always prevail.

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Thursday, April 21, 2005

Almost Infamous III

Back to our regularly scheduled program - meaning I get to boast again about Singapore celebrities.

I first met Julie Wee when I returned to judge a number of debate competitions. Julie was one of the CHIJ debaters that went on to become one of ACJC's debate team members. I had only known her in passing at that time. It wasn't until a few years later, when we met again in a production of "Dead Poet's Society", that I really got to talk to her. She's an articulate, well brought-up lady, and good-looking to boot.

Proof that life is unfair.

Julie's got her own quirks though. She's an avowed vegetarian, and she's pretty vocal about her beliefs. The cynics among us will note that she's a debater, which is synonymous with being vocal about everything.

So one day, while we spent yet another late night rehearsing for "Dead Poets Society", Julie, Glen and I settled down for dinner. Since it was mass "tar-pau" (takeout), it was your standard meat-vegetables-rice in styrofoam boxes. Which Julie promptly started to pick at. Being an avowed carnivore, I proceeded to ask her about the meat.

The conversation between us went something like this.

Me: So what's the deal with the meat?

Julie: Oh I'm vegetarian.

Me: Don't mind me asking, but why are you vegetarian? I know a couple and I like to find out why.

Julie: Yeah, lots of people ask me that. It's a couple of reasons really. The first is that I think it's cruel.

[Long discussion ensues]

Julie: Actually, it's also because I don't like the taste of meat.

Me: But your boyfriend eats meat.

Julie: Right. Cos it's his choice.

[Long Pause]

Me: So...if you kiss your boyfriend...

Julie: WHOA! What's with the third degree here?!

Blog Justice

Okay, will whoever who stole Linda's phone -please- just own up and return the phone? Before the lynch mob forms? Please?

Employment Raw

Disclaimer: This article contains a discussion of a legal nature. Please do not take this article as legal advice - it's not meant to be.

The ever-vigilant Acidflask noted a first in Singapore Blog history - retracted statements about a workplace superior. On his blog, Acidflask poses interesting questions on the line between "freedom of expression and professional reticence". All very good questions. Unfortunately....

Acidflask, privacy a non-issue in Singapore. Here, an employee's right to privacy simply doesn't exist in any meaningful form. Micro$oft's stand on this topic is not uncommon by far.

I know companies in which bosses read their employee's email (legal in Singapore). It's also common HR practice in Singapore to have an employer ask for the release of results from a health screening. (again, no legal prohibition). Either of these practices would be proscribed or outright prohibited in some jurisdictions.

Privacy just isn't respected in Singapore. Granted, there are many laws that protect privacy of individuals indirectly, but there is no generally recognised right of privacy in Singapore. The indirect nature of the protection of privacy leads occasionally to absurd results.

Take employers snooping on employee's email inboxes for example. The law protects employers, but not employees. Employees cannot read their employer's emails without getting smacked silly by the Singapore justice system. This particular peversity of the law lies in the application of the Computer Misuse Act (Cap 50A). The Computer Misuse Act only prosecutes "unauthorised" access of computers. Without going into the nuts and bolts of the Computer Misuse Act, it is sufficient to say that a person who has the authority to control access to a computer, arguably, commits no offence under the Computer Misuse Act. It doesn't take a genius to see how this inequality can be exploited by unethical employers.

I respect the fact that the Singapore Gah-men is trying very hard implement best practices without eroding their traditionally pro-employer stand. The results, however, usually come out half-arsed - if they come out at all. According to this report data protection legislation has been under review for 14 years (the report says 12 years, but it was published in 2003). I have serious doubts that this will ever be enacted into legislation.

Hence, Acidflask, you give very good advice. When blogging, assume that anyone can read it and regulate accordingly.

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Flogging Dead Horses

In grand tradition of this blog's rehasing of old news, I'm pleased to report that is up and running. Check it out. It's tres chic. Brings a tear to my eye, it does.

Got Gilat Banner all!

Kudos to the Singapore Blog Mafia (Mr Brown, Mr Miyagi, Adri, and Xiaxue) for giving us poor orphaned blogs a home. :D

Postscript: I just realised what a douche-bag I've been. Just to clarify I am the one flogging the dead horse here by reporting Tomorrow as being up and running. Tomorrow does not flog any horses, dead or alive. Or at least, I don't think it does.

Post-Postscript: No horses have been harmed in the production of this blog post.

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Wednesday, April 20, 2005

"That's 'Social Escort' to You!"

First, we have news that the Singapore Gah-Men is going ahead with the casino. Then, we have to deal with the fact that it's now two casinos, not one.

Now, we have to deal with a "Gah-Men" that's not honest enough to call a spade a spade. "Integrated Resort" indeed. Hmmph.

Perhaps it should read "Integrated Resort Royale"?

On the same vein, prostitutes are really "Ejaculation Service Assistants". The services provided are "Faux Reproduction Engineering" And when all is said and done, once he/she is forced to make ends meet, he/she isn't cast in a porno flick. Oh no.

He/she stars in an "Artistic Film".

My primary contention here is this. We're apparently mature enough to have a casino in Singapore but not mature enough to have the words with ugly connotations discussed in public. If we are mature enough, make the facts available to us. Show us the consultation papers. Show us the statistics. Show us the proof that 35,000 jobs will be created, and that these jobs go to Singaporeans.

Money where my mouth is? Definitely.

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Fear Factor Boot Camp

For those of you catching Fear Factor on 18 April, you'd have caught Allan Wu slugging down 21 shots of a vile maggot/rotten fish eyes/I-blanked-out blend. You might recognise him. He's a TCS 8 star, and one of very few effectively billingual stars TCS has.

For his final stunt, our dear Mr Wu got to surf on a platform swung around by a helicopter.

Steady Boh?!

Eh not bad man. Looks like all that training with Fann Wong and Christopher Lee in NKF Charity Shows came in handy. Pity he didn't win the US$50,000.

Public Service Annoucement

Apocalyptic Wen has a job interview. It may turn into a job offer. A permanent one. One he likes.

Please refrain from taking planes and holidays for the next month or so. Don't say I didn't warn you.

God help us all.

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Zen and the Art of Blogging

"toysrevil", a commentator on Cowboy Caleb's post on the errant, allegedly-racist PSC scholar wrote briefly on the ideology of blogging.

He/she wrote:

"but the irony being, we bloggers (dare i claim association to that? :p) understand the “idealogy of blogging” (or i’d like to think so) - but say the average reader who doesn’t give two-hoots about blogging might think differently and mayhaps perverse said thoughts and content to their own contention? im not saying “them or us”, but in the end, a snitch/whistlebower is either oblivious to it all or just out for blood. IMHO"

No, toysrevil, I don't dare claim association to being a blogger either. If I get traffic spikes it is only because I stand on the shoulders of giants. Or powerhouses. Whatever.

However, I think I know where you are coming from, toysrevil. I believe I know where Cheng Zan is coming from too. I only started this blog fairly recently. My old blog was primarily a venting-ground for thoughts that needed to see light of day - no matter the cost. Like Cheng Zan, I thought no one would read it.

Boy was I wrong.

I didn't get into trouble because of it - not in the same way and extent Cheng Zan did. But I did piss people off. I learnt from that incident that the minute you put something online, you must be prepared for the consequences. At it's heart, I don't see a blog as any different a medium of communication than, say, an email or a conversation. In fact, I consider blogging to be less private than a conversation or an email. An article I read likened posting words on the Internet to casting ashes into an ocean: you may control the source, but you'll never know where it will end up.

On the Internet, anonymity is a double-edged sword. Would you trust the honour of someone anonymous to protect the secrecy of your innermost thoughts? I didn't think so. It doesn't matter if you're posting anonymously - someone will know who you are. You may not know who that someone is.

In short: blog, have fun, vent, but be prepared to be responsible for everything you write.


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"Want a date? Play World of Warcraft!"

It's official. World of Warcraft is the new crack cocaine. Moms would snatch prrrreeeeecciioooouusss hours from baby-tending to play World of Warcraft.

Now what?! A matchmaking service?!

From the official World of Warcraft webpage:

World of Warcraft: The 21st Century Alternative Online Matchmaking Service - Nebu on 4/18/05

Can't seem to find someone who shares your interests? Tired of striking out at clubs? Why not try finding your perfect match in World of Warcraft, as this couple did in the Korean version of the game? Having originally met in the Korean open beta test, "Good At Diablo" (the Groom) and "Ix" (the Bride) continued their adventures together in Azeroth after the commercial launch in Korea, playing in the guild "Frienz." While at an offline guild party, they decided to begin dating and soon fell in love, which led to both an online marriage and a real-world marriage as well. Congrats from Blizzard!



So, yeah, I'm a WoW addict as well. And I'm -this- close to level 40. Needless to say, I'm a wee bit impatient to level.

Haaaalf-baaaaar Exxxeee-Peee! I want my prrrreeeeecciioooouusss....

Monday, April 18, 2005


The Sunday Times ran an article on Chua Cheng Zhan, a PSC scholar, allegedly posting racist remarks on his blog. I say "allegedly" because I've not seen the posts to evaluate the content for myself. All I have is second hand news from the Straits Times and prominent Singapore bloggers like the Cowboy himself. Nevertheless, I do not believe the real issue being about racism.

It's about hating Singapore government scholars. Think. If he wasn't a PSC scholar would this have even become an issue?

Eh, don't pray pray. Buka Gah-men Act all!

There's an ugly side of human nature that wants to believe that the "cream of the crop", our government scholars, are really a bunch of undeserving little turds squandering public money. This belief can arise for any number of reasons: percieved discrimination between the "haves" and the "have-nots", stereotyping your average all A's, 3.8 GPA student etc. We want to see these guys taken down a notch.

Food for thought: It's this precise part of human nature that sells tabloids and gossip columns.

The government policy on scholars and scholarships perpetuates this mindset. It's not enough that scholarships are given out. In order to maximise the utility of money spent, scholars must serve out a bond with the government. But everyone -knows- that they are scholars, so the system must be seen to work. The scholars get fast-tracked, because the system MUST work. Because they get fast-tracked, they become political leaders in short order. But hang on, political leaders must have moral fiber to be leaders, right? So scholarship money in Singapore isn't just about promoting scholarship, it's also about a perception of being "holier-than-thou". Because this is Singapore, you can't just get by being clean. You'll have to be squeaky clean. No deviance can be tolerated.

My take is this. Scholarship money should not be about squeaky cleanliness, because it should not be about political leadership. It should be about developing scholars, who add our collective knowledge and scholarship, and contribute to society, and no more. I'd much prefer to see a scholar work his way to the top in our civil service, on same footing as a kid who paid his own way through Northwestern through savings, loans and/or a part-time job. I'd wager good money on the latter being a better political leader than the former though.

There is good news though. Guess what Cheng Zan? You've now got a chance that no other scholar has - a chance to show us what you're made of. Show us you deserve to be the leader PSC makes you out to be. This is a test you can't study for, but you've been preparing for this all your life.

Do us proud.

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Noble Sacrifice

On April 7 2003, Dr Ong Hok Su became the first doctor-casualty in Singapore fighting the SARS epidemic.

I do not claim to be overly familiar with Hok Su. He was one of those bright stars in the graduating year of 1992 in ACS, out of reach, but lighting a path for those who followed. I remember him as one of the few people in ACS of my year treating me nicely and never having a harsh word for me.

God knows my graduating year in ACS needed more people like him. I'm sorry I never got to know you better, Hok Su. You'd be missed.

Sunday, April 17, 2005

Geek Groaners or "I Got There First, Moron!"

Okay, there's no denying it. I'm a geek. I've played D&D and other assorted table-top Role-Playing Games for over 20 years of my life, and I read fantasy novels avidly. This includes Lord of the Rings. I finished the trilogy for the first time when I was 14.

Growing up a geek in the 80's and 90's is a tough thing. We didn't have Bill Gates to prove how overwhelmingly rich geeks can get, and no Peter Jackson to show plebians what us geeks had already seen in our mind's eye for the longest time. Hence, I ask your indulgence for my protectiveness over the Lord of the Rings movie trilogy.

It's with this in mind that I bring to you a small list of things actually overheard in Singapore cinemas. Readers, please feel free to contribute more.

No 3

"Wah! You mean Legolas going to be King?"

Heard this from an Ah Lian after the end of "Two Towers", when the end of the credits showed.

Here's a hint. Who's in the centre of the poster?

No 2

"Eh, this movie =sure= got sequel one!"

Heard this from an Ah Beng at the end of "Fellowship of the Ring".

No shit, Sherlock!

No 1

"Eh, you mean the [Lord of the Rings] book come out so fast after the movie har!"

Heard this in MRT - his friend was clutching a copy of the trilogy.

Die. Just....die.

Saturday, April 16, 2005

The Singapore Condition

I am leaving in a few months time to relocate to San Francisco for 5 years. Not one person has told me it's a bad idea. Not one. What is it about Singapore that Singaporeans detest so much?

I had a conversation with Slinky over MSN today. For those who don't know, Slinky and I go waaaay back, and we both ended up in Law School. I am her senior by a year or three, depending on how far back you go. Slinky and I discussed how it never seemed like a bad idea to leave the legal profession in Singapore. We did not discuss why. It was one of those things that was -so- obvious that we did not need to talk about. Throughout the conversation, we talked about peers who've left the industry altogether, and how happy we were for them.

What is it about Singapore that drives so many young bright graduates to do things they don't want to do? Colin Goh - the Maestro himself - had written eloquently about this many years before about the Singapore Plan. In summary, the way Singapore functions is that they take success stories, break them apart and study them to formulate a Plan. This Plan then gets implemented across the board.

The reality of Singapore is that we're a dot on the world too big for it's own ego. We're so bent on chasing Number 1 that we forget the cost to our most valueable resource - our people. In implementing the Singapore Plan, we forget to Dream, and people can only live so long without a Dream.

Let's take the study of law. 20 years ago you couldn't find a more stable profession. Everyone wants their child to be a lawyer. It became the default choice for people with good literary skills, because being a writer, artist, actor or singer was considered too "risky". Too many people wanted to be lawyers, so the government stepped in, restricted intake and everything's hunky-dory right?

Nope, now Singapore's short of lawyers, and the establishment doesn't have a clue where to begin grooming new blood without a major loss of face. Sadly enough, the limited measures taken, like allowing more foreign grads to practice in Singapore, isn't enough. People are still leaving the profession in droves. It's become almost fashionable to abandon practice, then law altogether. The reason? Not enough people wanted to do law in the first place. They've always treated it as just an easy way out. They substituted their Dream for the Plan. It can only last for so long before something starts to give.

Slinky told me about her dream. I can't repeat it here, but it's a good one. I said to her to go for it. I told her mine. I'd love to design, develop, market and eventually sell my own home-brew computer game involving martial arts. I've done a bit of work between my friends developing home-brew systems already. As of now it's still a home-brew system for table-top role playing. But one can dream right?

Wu the Lotus Blossom, from Bioware's game Jade Empire

I know I cannot Dream here. Like many others before me, I realise that Creativity cannot be found in a Plan. So I have to leave. The call of Creativity waits for no one. Being a creator means that no one is ahead in your chosen area - which means that there is no standard to measure you by. That makes you an abomination in the eyes of Singapore. It's not intentional. It's just part of the Plan. Being part of the Plan means following. The two are mutually exclusive.

I need to leave the familiar comfort of home behind. I can live knowing that I tried and failed. I cannot live knowing that I never tried because I was too comfortable.

Like many others before me, I appreciate the irony of assimilation - that if I forge my own path and return, Singapore cannot wait to turn my success into part of the Singapore Plan. I understand why Singaporeans would be so resentful. Why wouldn't they? The Plan has already made them sacrifice so much to pursue their Dreams. Why shouldn't they feel resentful when the Plan then suddenly lauds them and pays homage to them? Where was the Plan when they struggled?

What is it about Singapore that forces a person to choose between his Dreams and his home?

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Friday, April 15, 2005

Un-Reality TV

It's been some years back since the first instalment of "Eye for a Guy" was launched. Me, being old school mates with Ng Wai Chung, was naturally suprised to see him as a contestant. You remember him right? The guy that won every single competition there was?

The -reason- I was curious was because I thought that he was dating someone. Wai Chung confirmed that in his interview with the New Paper . I broached him and his sister about the topic some time after. Their response wasn't suprising. Apparently, the New Paper -didn't- cover the fact that Wai Chung had actually told Rachel that he was seeing someone. And know what? Rachel didn't care. Because it was all scripted anyway.

In fact, "Eye for a Guy" is no different from other "reality" series. But please, it was apparently so frigging obvious that many other Netizens guessed as much - without prompting (evidenced here and here)

So when looking at the screen shots for the new season of "Eye for a Guy 2", just keep in mind you're actually watching a soap opera, not a reality tv show.

At least the chiobu is better looking this time.


I have left my old law firm about a year plus ago and they -still- haven't taken the page down?

Looks like IRAS has some competition!

Almost Infamous Part II

Stella Ng
Originally uploaded by khayce.
In grand tradition of posting chio-bu on a blog, this next post will be to a lady who I had the pleasure of working with some years back before she became famous. This is Huang Xiangyi, but I know her better as Stella Ng.

I met Stella in 1997 in the ACJC auditions for Grease - The Musical. She auditioned for the part of Sandy, but she didn't get it, though I always thought that she looked the part. Reason cited - singing voice was too light.

Stella has since gone on to a spectacular singing career. Guess we were the ones light on sense huh?

One day, I'll try to dig up an old picture of Stella in a cheerleader uniform and a "Chun-Li" hairdo.

One funny story about Stella though. One day at a particularly grueling dance rehersal, we finally stopped for the day, and prompting plonked ourselves on the dance floor awaiting instructions. Raj, our dance instructor (who I will post about in the future - he's a minor celebrity in his own right) started sniggering. Loudly.

When pressed for a reason why he was sniggering, he responded "You all shouldn't just sit down on the floor after rehersal you know. Otherwise your backside will spread like prata."

We promptly heard a shriek from somewhere in the center of the room. Guess who was the only person standing up?

Almost Infamous Part I

I doubt my life story would be complete without examining closely the people that have walked into my life. A number of them can be classified as local celebrities, or even self-admitted has-beens. Here's one of them: Edward Yong. His blog can be found here.

Edward is a friend near and dear to me. I've known him many years through various ACJC Drama activities, and for all our incompatible interests, we've always managed to stay close friends. He's a living reminder that what we have in common is more important than what we is different about us.

Edward's greatest claim to fame, however, is the now-obscure movie "Army Daze", where Edward starred in the lead protagonist role, Malcolm Png. I've made enough smart remarks about him not having to act much in that role and he's always found it hard to disagree.

Here's a picture of Edward being interviewed with some of his "Army Daze" buddies. Edward is on the extreme right with the "toot" black plastic frames.


What's not so well-known is that I, too, had a role in "Army Daze".

Call it serendipity, luck, fate, or happenstance - I was on my BMT recourse when the Army Daze shoot was being done. Army Daze approached 7 BTS for some extras - requesting that they'd preferably not be extremely "xin chiao". This means...BMT recourse guys get "volunteered".

It wasn't so bad really. We looked more "gilat" than we actually were - a bunch of "sick chickens" that couldn't even make the first cut of BMT. We helped film a PT scene, bayonet fighting and route march (stuffing pillows in our full pack to make it look filled).

Imagine my suprise when I saw Edward at the shoot. Needless to say, I was pleasantly suprised. Edward, bless his soul, took it upon himself to sneak the extras some treats, and so did the rest of the cast. Sheik Haikal offered me a cigarette, which I didn't take since I didn't smoke, but it was a gesture appreciated nonetheless.

Ed and I went on to do some truly fun productions. But that's a story for another day.

Ed, this one's to you.

Thursday, April 14, 2005

When you have no pets/kids

Junior and Fluffy
Originally uploaded by khayce.
Meet Junior and Fluffy. Junior's the cute bear on the right. Fluffy's the rabbit with the pacifier on the left. These are two of my favourite stuffed toys. They are my wife's favourites too.

I give some of my stuffed toys voices and personalities. Fluffy and Junior, in particular, have well-developed personalities. Junior's an ultra-smart 4 year old that can't pronouce words longer than four syllables. Fluffy's a baby with a 6-word vocabulary, and uses the 6 words in any way that pleases him, regardless of context.

I'd like a Golden Retriever, but these stuffed toys are adorable, and have gotten me through many a foul mood.


The Gah-men should fricking stop these ridiculous government policies about E-Everything. Especially when the "E" in "E-Filing" stands for "error".

Mr Brown and Vanessa Tan have both recently written articles on income tax. I thought I'd share my own indirect experiences with I-ARE-A-ASS.

I've filed my taxes way ahead of time like a good docile Singapore citizen - and after tremendous nagging from my wife. My wife, the model of a good public servant (they don't pay her enough to be civil) actually started -attempting- to file taxes two weeks before I did, and has not managed to file her taxes till today. Every time she inputs her Singpass, it kicks her back to the home page.

What makes matters worse - she's a government servant, so she's supposed to be on this "special" scheme where her income is automatically reported to I-ARE-A-ASS. I've inferred that it is "Special" in the same way the "Special Olympics" are "special". So now she's in limbo about whether to file her taxes or not. And no one, not one customer service person, can give her a confirmation whether she has to file her taxes.

Needless to say, it's worked wonders on marital bliss.

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

Racist Humour

Apocalyptic Mo sent me this weblink. The site contains a 45 minute show from Russell Peters. No one is safe from him. No one. Chinese, White Guys, Indians (the guy's Indian), Jamaicans, African-American, you name it, he taunts it.

Check it out!

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

Apocalyptic Friends

I have apocalyptic friends.

These are ordinary guys, often fairly well-educated and have a tendency towards slacker-dom. However, some of them just seem to be blessed/cursed by sheer happenstance.

Case Study 1

Meet Mo. Mo is a sweet fellow, a talented artist and guitar player. He's also a bit of a techie and takes his games very seriously, and other matters in life not so seriously. He's also got a serious gift for being "suay chui" (unlucky mouth).

Mo related to us an incident when he was watching the late Princess Diana's funeral. Irritated by the constant media buzz surrounding the funeral of Princess Diana (to which one of my other friends quipped was "as dead as a Dodi"), he uttered the immortal words...

"Come on lar! It's only Princess Diana. It's not like Mother Theresa passed away!"

Guess what happens a week later?

Case Study 2

Meet Wen. Wen's a Masters in Economics who returned from Australia a couple of months back. He's the slackest of a bunch of -really- slack friends, and is extremely good natured about it.

Wen's also got a bit of happenstance going for him - he causes disasters by accepting job offers.

Wen related to us a story of his last visit to New York. He had a few hours to kill before heading to the airport home, and he was deliberating out loud with his cab driver whether to visit the Twin Towers.

Wen, being the slacker he is, went "Ah, it's not like they are going anywhere" and left for the airport.

A week later, he accepts a job offer. On the 10th of September 2001.

He accepts a second job some time later. The date of the temp job offer? 22nd December 2004. 1 week later, the tsunami hits.

He's been officially banned in our group from taking job offers when any of us are flying. He figures, at this rate, people would eventually pay him not to ever accept a job offer. I'm inclined to agree, but I'd hate to encourage his slackness.

Postscript: Apocalyptic Wen wants me to communicate his ransom note to the world at large, except he's too lazy to write it himself, and I don't particularly like someone else (other than me) holding the world ransom. Any volunteers?

The Story Tells Itself

If life were narrative, what would mine read like?

Three days ago, I sent an email contribution to Mr Miyagi, on his website "Days Were The Those", documenting interesting army stories. It was an old memory that had haunted me for some time, involving my narrow brush with death.

In his email back, Mr Miyagi made a very thoughtful statement. "Let the story tell itself." Boy did the story tell itself - it got brown-ed and miyagi-ed over the weekend.

It got me thinking. This story obviously reached out to people who read it. If my life is a story, what story would my life tell?

This is my story.