Just a little sick of the old look. Time for a Change!
Just a little sick of the old look. Time for a Change!
Oh well, I have received complaints from my fans that the last few articles were too serious. They were looking forward to reading lighthearted and happy ones, but instead they faced morbid and pessismistic thoughts. Life is already hard enough, so why make it worse? Ok ok, I will write happy little muses from now on. First, they complained that the articles were too short, then, they complained that they were too sad. What next?! I wonder.
China is the biggest and most popular ground for investment, right now. In all the foreign companies, little committees have been specially set up, to look into the working culture and the value of investment in the country. However, whether it is feasible or not, companies from all over the world clamour for a piece of the pie. There is a fierce competition going on, on which company has the most number of subsidiaries and has stepped onto the Chinese soil first.
Short interview with a foreigner from a prominent MNC spearheading the operations in China :
AhWei : Good morning! I am reporter Ah Wei calling from the Daily Blab. I have read from the newspapers that your company is transfering key personnels from parts of Asia to your newly established office in Shanghai. Is this true?
Mr. X : Yes, you are very right. We are building up the headquarters, which will overlook all the operations in the China. Our key managers have already moved up to this office and all our functional units will be consolidated here.
AhWei : If it is convenient, can you give me a brief note on the reason of this relocation?
Mr. X : Well, right now, China has the biggest domestic market and its labour cost is one of the cheapest in the world. Besides this, our competitors have already established their Asia office there. We plan to move the labour intensive operations from other parts of Asia and consolidate them in one country. Since everyone is there, we have to be there in time for a slice of the pie.
AhWei : Mr. X, have you ever considered the possiblity that this pie may not be as ideal as everyone thinks it is?
Mr. X: I understand what you mean, but even if the pie is not ideal, we need to be there to monitor the market, in any case. A bad slice is better than no pie at all.
AhWei: China is currently benefiting from the huge amount of investment poured in by the foreign investors. The Chinese are intelligent people and their technology has increased by leaps and bounds within the last few years. Are you not afraid that once your techonology is transferred to China, the Chinese would improved it and claim it as their own?
Mr. X: There is always a danger that they will do that and I am 90% sure about that. But these are the little sacrifices that you have to make to penetrate its market. They are the biggest domestic market in the world and is edged on getting larger everyday as the spending power of the people increases.
AhWei : Some of the companies commented that China’s technology is still far behind Europe and USA. What is your opinion on this comment?
Mr. X: I think these foreigners are underestimating the Chinese. I have just returned from Shanghai. A few years ago, there were only a few high rise buildings around and now, there are skyscrapers everywhere. Many local companies have been set up, with links to the research institutes all over China. Not only that, the Chinese government is actively funding these institutes. 5 years ago, their technology was 15 years behind the western countries‘. But now, they have caught up with an alarming speed and it is only 5 years behind us right now. At the rate it is going and the investment injected by the government and the investors, they pose a very big threat to the foreign companies and other Asian countries. Therefore I would like to urge my fellow countrymen not to underestimate them. I think that is all I have to comment about growth of China.
AhWei: That was a great interview. Thank you very much for taking time off your work and sharing your insight with us.
With the growth of China, many companies have shifted their Asia regional headquarters from countries lke Singapore to Hong Kong or Shanghai. The local people in the offices only draw one-third the amount of what their Singaporean counterpart earns. Not only that, they understand their own local market very well.
The South East Asian countries which were riding on the wave of the electronics industry are now trailing behind the wake of China, after the crash of the Asian market in 1997. The largest country in SE Asia is Indonesia. Although the labour cost there is way lower than in China, the political unstablity frightens investors away. All the SE Asia countries depend on this giant to wake up and cease its internal turmoils. However, looking at this country, everything does not look very promising. Within a span of 2 years, 3 presidents have stepped up and down the Parliament. The present one has a difficult task to pacify the dissatisfied people, fight off the opposition parties, which jumped at every possible opportunity to dethrone her, restore law and order in her country.
After clearing the smog, which was created by the combination of the unusually dry spell and the clearing of land using fire, the country has pledged to solve this problem if it ever happened again. The smog is hazardous to the health of the people and it not only affects Indonesia, but also the neighbouring countries. Tourism was badly affected, billions of dollars was spent trying to get rid of it and on the medical services. People collapsed from respiratory problems and the tourism industry simply fell apart. However, with this freak weather across the world (USA is having the worst drought of all times and Europe and Asia are experiencing life threatening floods.), this smog problem arises again. Today, the government of Indonesia issued an apology to its neighbours, for the environmental issue that it was unable to solve. Reasons cited were :
1. Lack of funds
2. Lack of manpower
3. Lack of education for the small farmers.
4. Oppositions from the farmers and many other problems.
According to the experts, this smog will be as terrible as the one in 1997 and countries are expected to spend a comparable amount of money to solve this problem. Tell me, if the government is unable to even combat the smog and its source, how is it going to attract the investors to settle in the country again? This is not only Indonesia‘s own problem, but the headache of the region, for while the Indonesians are indulging in their inefficient firefighting, China is pulling the investments and market away from SE Asia. With the upward trek of China, the 5 tigers, so called tigers, of SE Asia will find that it is a tremendous efforts to rule the region again, or probably never.
Although it will make the ethnic Chinese people (e.g. my father) proud that China will rule the world one day, but it also means that business is getting scarcer in Singapore by that time. The foreign companies will shift their offices and investments to China, people will be retrenched, jobs will be scarce. Is it worth to exchange that for pride? Besides being an ethnic Chinese in Singapore, does not entail special provisions in business making in China, so what is the whole lot of point?
Plagarising a part of the title of a morbid painting shown in the Alte Pinocothek in Munich, I, thus, call this little essay so.
The entire name of the painting is “Der Hoellesturz der Verdammt!”, literally meaning, the fall to hell of the damned. Painted against a dark background with a red undertone, it depicted a scene from hell. Gruesome creatures, with horns on their backs and heads, sank their sharp teeth into the flesh of the fat succlent flesh of the struggling humans. They used to be the rich and powerful in the human world, but now, they were subjected to horrors that they could never have imagined. As to whether it was for eternity or not, I am not too sure, due to a shallow understanding of the religion.
Upon seeing this painting, memories of stories and photographs of the Nazi concentration camp, that I had visited that morning, flashed across my mind. To the prisoners in the camp, the tortures and ordeals seemed like eternity. In fact, death in itself was a form of release for them, for the living hell, which they were in. What gives a human meaning and hope in life, is a goal. However, they could not see the light at the end of the dark, neverending tunnel and their lives before this dreary reality were just dreams.
“You do not have human rights, are worthless and dirty. You are a pile of shit and will be treated as one!“ — one of the nazi officers (*SS) at the Dachau concentration camp. There, humans were treated as animals. In the camps, the SS were the law there. Every single prisoner’s fate was laid solely in their hands. The tales of the mindless killings, the sadistic punishments drove horror and disbelief into every modern visitor’s heart. Horror stories, one after another, were recounted. It was hard to believe that all these actually existed in the 20th century.
The formation of the Nazi Germany seemed too dramatic to me. The political party, National Socialist German Worker’s Party (NSDAP) wielded the power and the prominent politicians from opposing parties strangely disappeared or died under unexplained circumstances. Every single channel of the media was controlled and used as a tool for propaganda spreading. The amazing thing was every citizen at that time, believed strongly in the policies of the government and fought with their sweat and blood in the war. Any antigovernment element was thrown into concentration camps, overnight, without a trial. Effectively, the Nazis had absolute control of the country.
On the walls, photographs showed the condition of the camp after its liberation by the American troops. One particular photograph caught my eye and would be engraved in my memory forever. Piles and piles of human corpses were lying on top of each other haphazardly. The images of opened eyes, unseeing and unfeeling, limbs sprawled in unnatural positions, tattered and rotting clothes on the decomposed bodies, white faces, thin and scrawny bodies starved to the point of death, replayed themselves over and over again in my mind. According to the description, they found 4 such rooms in the camp, corpses stacked together like firewood.
I am not sure if my description is good enough for you to imagine that scene, but you will have to be there to experience the waves of disgust and sadness sweeping over you. Although I have read about the horrors of the wars, but I could never have imagined the feelings it stirred when I saw them with my own eyes. Perhaps, I have lived in too sheltered a world and these are a lifetime away from me.
It is unimaginable for me to believe that people who lived just a few decades before me were manipulated to the extent of committing crimes without consciences and qualms? George Orwell’s animal farm does not only hold the truth for the Russian politics, but a reality for all times. Human beings remain true to their nature from the day they have been created. This brings me back to the context of Singapore. We are ruled by a one party government. So far, generally, it is doing very well for the country, the right kind of investments (Well, most of the time!) and the ideal type of policies. As it is doing very well, the opposition parties are seldom supported. Coincidentally, all the anti government individuals were ousted from the country, or they might have to spend the best parts of their lives on an island. Of course, the media stand on their own, therefore how is it possible for them to be controlled by the government, bearing in mind that one belongs to the national television corporation and the other the national newspaper. What a lot of competition…. It scares me sometimes to think, how perfect my country is, or is it really so perfect? Have I already been brainwashed by propaganda? This I can never be sure…. But like every normal person out there, I believe in my close to perfect world.
*SS – SchutzStaffel (Protection Squad)
~~~ My One Cent Worth of Thoughts!! ~~~
“I like talking to a brick wall, I find it is the only thing that never contradicts me.” – Oscar Wilde
I have stumbled across a website housing the famous quotations of Ah Oz. I shall refrain from mentioning his chauvinistic ones on women. I guess he did not like criticism much, since the brick wall was the only thing he could communicate with.
As for me, well, yes, I talk to brick walls too. However, it is all for a totally different reason. In the roomy big rooms, there is no one, but me. As soon as I step through the door, I switch on all the lights and turn on the television or laptop for some background noises. Probably, I am someone who cannot live in silence or isolation.
On some of the days, which are non-working periods for me, not a single word passes through my mouth. Sometimes, I even forget that I have a voice. The telephone rings, after 3 days of keeping mum, I manage to squeak a little “Hello”. Very often, I cannot remember what my very own sweet voice sound like. How tragic!
Friends will be surprised to hear this, for they think that I am one of the most talkative people in the world. With no company to converse with, I am starting to talk to the walls in my apartment. Much as I want it to hold a proper conversation with me, it never talks back, contradicts or even compliments. Why would any sane person do that? This probably came out of boredom and isolation.
Once I am done talking to all the walls in the rooms, I will start with the characters in the television. I guess they make better conversationalists than Bricky. Therefore you see, living alone is not exactly a bed of roses (Forgive my cliché!). However, it might be a good thing for me, because I am saving up my voice to plague everyone when I get back to Singapore. Ho ho ho!
The Tu Xin Cult
There are many different kinds of religion in the world – Buddhism, Christianity, Catholism, Islam, Hindu etc. However, none of these believers are more devout than the ones from the Tu Xin Cult. This cult is so ultrapowerful, that some of their disciples do not even realise that they are part of it and at times, fervently deny any connections with it.
Some of the symptoms include :
1. Take 1 hour to wake up (calculated from the minute the alarm clock rings) Take note : waking up meaning the opening of the eyes.
2. Take 1 hour to walk from the living room to the main door (usually the distance is less than 50m)‘
3. Take 1 hour to get to the car from the nearby shop. (incurring a fine because of it.)
4. Leaving a place 5 hours later than planned. (The Tu Xins usually have some unfinished last minute stuff or last minute change of plans.)
E.g. Planned time to leave the house 8am. Actual event : slept til 10am. Tried to get out of the house at 11am. Found that the front door was locked by the neighbours staying in the house. The self locking door back to the apartment was locked as well. Stuck at the stairway for 2 hours, before some good soul unlocked the front door for them. How come I have never had such excitement in my life? Sigh.
There are more of these, but I cannot recall them right now . However, worry not, as I will update the list as I go along.
* Tu = Taking your own sweet time, dragging your legs.
Xin = Shen, god.
Tu Xin = Slow poke
~~~ My One Cent Worth of Thoughts!! ~~~
Z, just what are you? Some people call you Zee and some Zet. But, I prefer to call you the Zee Monster.
Are you punishing me for not spending enough time with you for the last few weeks? I just cannot resist your reproachful look. Even my cute Tom Cruise lookalike colleague pales beside your presence, for I just have to leave him for mere seconds, just to be by your side.
Frankly, I think being with you is an awful waste of time, and yet I simply cannot live without you. Aye, how weak my resolution is. But, i beg you, please give me some space, some time to myself. I will come to you when I am ready.
MEANWHILE, LEAVE ME ALONE!!!! YOU MONSTER!!! I WILL NOT GIVE YOU THE SATISFACTION OF WATCHING MY BOSS SACK ME FOR SLEEPING DURING WORKING HOURS!!! SO THERE!!!
Picture this scenario :
A pair of cuffs, clasped tightly across his wrists. The cuffs and the chain were brown with rust and stiff with age. The metal rings clinged noisily as he stretched for the computer station. The station stayed just beyond the tips of his fingers, the distance restricted by the chains around the pole. A man in brown robe sat calmly opposite him, The whip cracked and snapped on his arms, at the first touch of the keyboard., Then the chains were shortened, increasing the distance between him and the computer. All around him, other little boys were playing Counterstrike and other network games on the LAN servers. He looked longingly at the people around, as music and dialogues blasted through the speakers. He wept in his hands.
Food and water were brought to him regularly. But, one week later, he was found lying on the floor, still and motionless. BORED TO DEATH!!
Sigh! I see myself in him. I have a great broadband network, a fast computer, and all my work have been finished. But, I can only sit and stare crosseyed at my laptop. BORED TO DEATH.
I have come to realised something about fast food, besides the fact, that they provide us with extra unwanted calories and cholestral. They reflect the standard of living of a country, far better than the economists!
Forget about reading sheets and sheets of reports on a country. Just trot down to a McDonald’s outlet and stare hard at the figures on the menus.
Prices (in S$) (Based on the cheapest menu, not taking into account, the Happy Meals. Therefore, please do not email me for comparisions on those. Thank you!)
Switzerland……….$14 (Believe it or not, this is the cheapest meal in Swiss.)
USA………………..$8.50 (Probably because of the internationl debt this country has chalked up. And afterall, it is only patriotic to price the meals in your homeland cheaper.)
Germany………….$8 (This is the cheapest meal you can get in Germany. I rather save the money and poison myself with my own cooking!!)
Not only that, Macs‘ meal reflect the affluence of a place, down to the microscopic view!!
With reference to Singapore :
Changi Airport……………………….$6.50 (Our worldclass airport)
Orchard Road……………………….$6.00 (The street that never sleeps)
Bedok & other neighbourhoods….$5.00 (Where the normal people live)
Therefore, discard your newspapers and financial magazines, just make your way to the nearest Macs outlet.
Disclaimer : I have not received a single cent from McDonald’s (though I wish I will!!) and am certainly not their marketing manager. Although, I admit that they have one of the best marketing campaigns in the world! Argh! There I go again!
~~~ My One Cent Worth of Thoughts! ~~~
Hey gals and boys! I a…m…. BaCk iN AcTiOn!!!
My holidays are finally over and I am back in good o’le Germany. I am very sorry for the long wait, perk up your spirits and get ready for more crappy tales and corny stories. Well, this is the good news, now for the bad ones.
The company has just slapped us with a memo, prohibiting the usage of the internet for the use of personal recreation during office hours. Oh well, I will just have to either sleep a little less and crawl to the office earlier, or type the articles on the word document and post them onto the blog with lighting speed (Awww!! How cliche!).
However, despair not, I will risk my arms, legs and my mundane job to keep everyone (hopefully) entertained!
~~~ My One Cent Worth of Thoughts!! ~~~
P.S. I hate this Germand keyboard. Everything is in the wrong position!! Grrr….!!!