Thursday, July 29, 2010

The Lovely Bones

Picked up a cold and sore throat so am confined to home for a day's rest.

Not that I mind - have been feeling a little 'worn-out' from work lately. Not sure if it's the work itself, or that I'm feeling a little lost in terms directions. Cant really see where I'm headed in the medium/long term, as it is. Good thing my half-yearly performance appraisal's coming up next week. Should be able to clear up some doubts with my manager.

Anyway, since I'm home and feeling a little dazed (from the medication, mostly) but mostly bored, I've picked up a DVD which I've had for a while, but just did not get to watch it. The movie's called "The Lovely Bones". Sounds a little weird, for anyone to label bones as being 'lovely', I thought...

Still, the show (about 2 hours long) turned out to be... interesting, to say the least. It follows the ghost/spirit of a 14 year-old girl, who was murdered by her neighbour, who turns out to be a serial killer (who has killed mostly young and teenage girls). There wasnt any grisly scenes, they didnt even show exactly how Susie Salmon - that's the protagonist's name - was murdered. But from glimpses and flashbacks, you get to see that she must've been slashed by a switch-blade and her corpse thrown into a antique-looking safebox.

Mostly the show follows how the family deals with the lost, and it is heart-breaking to see how Susie's dad transform into a broken man, and her mum eventually leaving the family in search of her own healing/salvation. From a parent's perspective, it must be the greatest grief to witness/experience your own child(ren)'s passing. In chinese, the phrase 白发人送黑发人describes this tragic experience...

The movie, being directed by Peter Jackson (famous director of the Lord of the Rings trilogy) contained some magnificant scenes, mostly of supernatural and unearthly scenaries and brilliant colours. I particularly loved a scene where Susie witnessed some large, floating bottles (containing model ships) crashing against the rocky shores. This happens in her world - which was explained to be somewhere in-between Earth and Heaven - whereas in the real world, Susie's dad was smashing those bottles in despair and anguish. Somehow, that scene struck me as particularly moving, for some reason.

In the end, of course, the family healed and moved on; the bad guy was killed in a accident; and Susie supposedly 'ascent' to heaven. But I guess that's not the point of the movie, is it? =P

Wednesday, July 21, 2010


Today I was talking with some of my co-workers about a parent's love for his child as being the only real "unconditional love".

Love comes in so many forms (for the sake of simplicity, I will not include the types of "love" between man and a non-human being/object of affection) :

1) Love between life partners
2) Love between friends
3) Love between siblings
4) Love between parent(s) and their child(ren)

Each of these types of love involves strong emotions but are fundamentally very different. But in my opinion, only the love between a parent and child can be something that is totally, absolutely and truly unconditional.

A parent may hope for a great many things from his child - some parents want their children to be first in class, to be intelligent, while others expect their child to follow in their own footsteps in becoming an entreprenuer, a business, etc. - but no matter what else or more a parent may like his child to be(come), he does not expect anything 'in return' for the selfless devotion of time, energy and emotions that he pours into the love for his offspring.
It is something that simply is.

It is also true and perhaps a little surprising that the love a child feels for his parent(s) may not actually be anywhere as "noble" and "unconditional" as the love his parent have for him. Children kind of 'expect' their parents to love them. And as a young child, he expects protection, care and attention from his parents. When he gets older, he expects financial support but also demands personal "freedom" (in terms of personal time and space) from his parents.

Not really a 'fair' deal, one may think... But I guess that's the way we live. Interestingly, one of my ex-colleague penned in her Facebook comment one time "Love pours downwards" - ie. we seem to love our children more than we love our parents.

But must that always be the case? Well, we may not be able to 'measure' and compare how MUCH we love our children versus that we feel for our parents, but that should not stop us from loving them all - just for being there for us and filling our hearts at various points in our lives, and in different ways.

This short video is one of my personal favorites.... always brings a tear to my eyes... (ops! must be smoke getting in my eyes. =P)

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Better consumer protection laws needed

I sent this letter to ST Forum, but they may/may not publish it. So I'm "publishing" it on my very own 'forum' =)

Many of my overseas friends have commented that Singapore is a great place to shop. Indeed with the recent spate of mall openings, as well as a concerted effort being directly at improving the service standards in shops and restaurants, Singapore is taking a huge stride towards competing with the ever-popular shopping destinations such as Hong Kong and Thailand.

However, it is disturbing that the local consumer laws are still weak, compared to many of the region's counterparts. We often hear of businesses not honouring their contracts with customers, failing to provide even a basic level of customer service, and some unscrupulous business owners deciding to wind up their businesses when they've collected a significant sum of money from their clientele, leaving the latter high and dry.
It doesn't help that the local consumer Watchdog - CASE - often seem powerless to take these unethical business owners to task.

My recent experience with a local business highlights this problem.

After purchasing a table-top water feature from a shop in IMM (Fukai Environmental Pte Ltd), I discovered the pump/motor did not work upon reaching my home. On the same day of the purchase, I returned to the shop and requested for an exchange for the defective product, but was turned down flatly. Claiming they were only a distributor, I was asked instead to bring the product to its office, located in Woodlands Instrustrial park. And this had to be done on a weekday, within the office hours.
With no other option, I have to arrange for a day's leave from work to visit the Woodlands office, only to be told I'd have to leave the unit there for inspection. They can only return it after "3 to 5 days".

After a week and not getting any response from the company, I decided to call the company and was then informed that the water-feature I'd bought was without a warranty. This was indicated as a single line of hand-scribbled text on the receipt. This was certainly not informed to me at the point of purchase and I had been gullible not to check the receipt carefully at that time.
This wasn't all. The company even had the cheek to ask me for payment and this was for "checking the product", even if I should decide not to repair it!

My advice to all - before making the purchase, ask if the shop has an exchange policy and if it doesnt, then at least ensure they provide a warranty for their goods (especially electrical/electronics products).

Wednesday, July 14, 2010


有个同事明天将要离开公司,到澳洲去修读房地产学位。起初,大家都非常意外-怎么一个主修金融系的大学生,好好地在一家还算不错的银行打工了三年后,怎么会突然萌生去意,就这样收拾行李离开新加坡,说走就走? 何况他是去修读一门似乎与他毫无关联的科目。




加油啊,Mr. Pure! =P

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Training in Mandarin

I conducted a training in Mandarin today. It was the second time since I've joined NT that I've had to do a WebEx training using my "mother tongue".

It wasnt that bad an experience, to be honest - given that they attendees (a group of asset managers from China) didn't even see fit to ask a single question - it was just that I felt a little 'strange' trying to string together seemingly simple sentences, and getting tongue-tied all the while. It was so darn hard not to lapse into English at times!

Fortunately, I managed to pull through the session. Thanks to my prepared Powerpoint slides and pre-training preparation (hey, I actually have to surf the internet looking for translations and/or ways to describe certain financial terms. It was pretty... ).

Sigh... it is true that if you dont practice using a language for some time, you tend to lose touch with it. For me, speaking conversational Mandarin comes quite naturally. In fact, we speak Mandarin at home so often, that beastie has taken to using it much more frequently than he uses English.
It's just that to use Chinese as a medium for business communication - that is really something entirely different.

I'm just glad I am still able to do it, albeit a little "rustily". =)