Saturday, December 31, 2011

Full of Crap – But Encouraging Non the Less

This has been something of a funny little year. If I were to look back and analyse my decade in Singapore, I could say that it was largely dissapointing and filled with crap. Yet, despite of all of that, it was also a year filled with optimism and as this year comes to an end, I find myself writing my yearly summery with a sense that I might have at least one more decent year in me to do something interesting.

Much to those worry of those who love me most, I have come to except that I am meant to life in a world of uncertainty and turmoil. In a funny way, the world is moving to suite people like me. In the Middle East there was the Arab Spring, which saw huge people-power demonstrations brining down long standing autocrates like Ben-Ali in Tunisia, Hosni Mubarak in Egypt and Qaddafi in Libya. These were men who had an 'iron-grip' on power for decades thanks through a combination of ruthlessness with domestic opponents and convincing outside powers (Westen ones) that it was in their interest to keep them in power. However, when their people.....simple ordinary people, had enough – these rullers had no choice but to flee.

In a curious way, what happened in the Middle East was a catalyst for things to happen elsewhere. In the Western world, people had enough of being screwed by powerful elites and occupied Wall Street. Even Singapore wasn't spared. We had two-elections and suddenly our normally politically apathetic public discovered our love to our country at the ballot box.

Something amazing happened on this little island that usually accepts being browbeaten as a necessary fact of life. The people forced the government to listen. The Ruling Party lost an unprecdented six-seats in the General Election and its prefered candidate barely squeaked home in the Presidential election despite every concievable advantage. The much maligned Singapore electorate showed an incredible amount of wisdom by returning a government with a good track record but at the same time giving legitimacy to the one opposition party that had the hunger and know-how to form an alternative government – the Workers Party. Opposition politics in Singapore has moved from being about disgruntled ego-maniacs to being about an intelligent alternative.

All these changes might not necessarily be better from the point of material gain. However, its a wonder from the point of view of the human spirit. For me, I discovered that my only hobby has become my only asset. This blog has doubled in size and I've had people tell me that I've managed to strike a chord with them.

I still haven't figured out how to make blogging pay and I'm not the only one. My fellow intelligent bloggers tell me that they haven't either. However, we will continue to do what we do – which is to put across different views from the mainstream and to get people thinking.

Gone are the days when Singapore could survive as a robotics factory for the Western World. We on this little island need to think and debate. We need to find our own solutions instead of relying on the government to be the almighty and all knowing guide. I do what I do in the full knowledge that I may risk offending someone but I pray that even when I offend, I am able to provoke a thought. I take the view that as a patriotic Singaporean it is my obligation to put forth my views about what it is good and what is not good about this nation from this nation.

On the professional/personal front things moved in interesting directions. For once I had to live without a monthly retainer. Having to worry about my next meal was rough....Thankfully, I have Huong back in my life and I am starting to appreciate what my Dad once said about having a woman with ambition in your life. Thanks to Huong I am now helping Vietnamese in Singapore learn English. It's not making me rich but it pays bills.

In a way, you could say that whatever “teaching” I've been doing has been starting to pay off. My first and final professional strikes of the year came courtesy of Mr Glenn Lim, Director of 20Twenty Pr. I met Glenn for a brief period in 2005 when I worked at BANG PR. He was my intern and when he returned to BANG after I left, we continued our friendship. I will not hessitate to keep stressing that he has become a far better PR consultant than me. He has proven that small one-man-agencies can win in both online and off line PR. He blessed me with work on New Zealand Natural and with the Family Business Network. I look forward to more collaborations with him.

I also need to thank Ms Kavita Balakrishnan and her brother Venkat for their friendship. I met Kavita two years ago when she worked for one of my business partners. It was she who ensured that I had the warmth of friendship on my birthday and at Christmas.

In a funny way, I also bless this year for blessing someone else. Joyce, the love of my life has just got herself a job paying a decent salary. I thank God for giving her a chance to do what she needs to do – to look after Yooga.

Life had a few promises. I was approached by a headhunter online trying to recruite me for Accenture. I also had the good fortune to work on a project with former Malaysian Deputy Prime Minister Tun Mussa Hitam. Unfortunately, the relationship with Edleman Malaysia proved to be based on something other than mutual respect – a fact that I was to discover five months after the job was done.

As always, I am greatful to Mr PN Balji, former Editor-in-Chief of the Today Newspaper. It was thanks to Balji that I managed to work on one of the most interesting projects I've worked on.

However, I am more greatful for his introduction to a man who has given me hope for Singapore – Mr Philip Wong. Mr Wong has dedicated his life to inventions and at the time of writing he may have something that could change the way the human race does things.

Through my work with Mr Wong, I have had the privillege of meeting Ms Elaina Olivia Chong, the CEO of Real Kaiten. Ms Chong, a leading member of the ruling party's youth wing has has founded a company that sees opportunity in a part of the world that nobody looks at. She sees profit in making sure that people have a chance to live properly.

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