Thursday, January 10, 2008

Tinny Tinny Notes

It's officially the second week on the New Year and I somehow seem to have spent the better part of the week running about to a few places here and there and yet, I don't feel like I've achieved very much.

Week started with getting Dr Benjamin Mow, an oncologist from West Medical Group onto the radio to chat about cancer. Interesting to deal with another medical topic other than the eyes and the good doctor was....a good doctor. I think it was PN Balji who tought me to tell clients that they should think of three key messages and reffer all their answers to these messages. It's simple but exceedingly effective. Clients who have followed this advice have come out of interviews looking good. At the end of the day, I think people need to go into interviews and be exactly who they are and not try and become artificial personas.

Spoke with Han Li. She plans to come back to Singapore after Chinese New Year. Should be fun to have her back in town. Actually, it also gives me a bit of time to plan a trip to Vietnam. I spoke to Thui last night and as always, it was exceedingly happy moment. She's growing up fast and I promissed that I would make it a point to go up and see her in her natural environment. She actually said - "I Miss You." Mummy was in the background giving her a bit of coaching but its nice to hear the small tyke tell you that she misses you.

Anyway, I think this could be a year to get a bit of travel around the region. It's funny, I've traveled quite a bit to places around Europe and in the USA. I remember Lee taking Tara and I on a train ride accross America. I remember Mum and Thomas renting a car and driving us accross from Germany all the way to Italy. But I barely know Asia outside the Singaporean version of Asia. I've never actually been outside the British Colonial sphere on influence. Admitedly the Empire covered a quarter of the world (The Sun Never Sets on the British Empire the Brits used to boast - That's because God does not trust the Brits in the dark, retorted the colonised), and staying within the old British sphere covers pretty much most of the world. But the world extends beyond the English speaking version of it.

Thailand was interesting. Thailand is the only society in South East Asia never to colonised by the Western powers. Unlike Singapore, Malaysia and Indonesia, which were created by the colonials, the Thais had an existing civilisation. Unlike India's princely states, the Thais were a united nation. More importantly, unlike China, the Thai's opened up to trade with the Western world. As a result, you got a society that stayed pretty true to ancient roots and yet managed to modernise at a pace that suits their culture. Thailand has had its ups and downs. It's had corrupt politicians. Violence in the South. Thuggish military men. And yet, when you take all of that into consideration - Thai society has held together remarkably well, in large part thanks to the King, by far and away the best leader in South East Asia, if not the world.

Vietnam should be another interesting experience. In part, Han Li and Thui are the reason for going. But I think there's more than just my personal affairs to the place. The Vietnamese are people who fought some of South East Asia's most brutal wars. Sure, Communism screwed up the Vietnamese economy by quite a few decades. But these people who went through some brutal years are busy getting on with life. You read of Americans and the angst they have over the Vietnam War. The Vietnamese by contrast don't seem to be prisoners of their past. Americans like other investors are welcome to build a good future with them.

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