CHC- Your Dad’s Opinion

chc_nov_20_resized.jpg

Dear boys,

One of the longest court case in recent times is the CHC case. To sum it up in a nutshell, 6 senior leaders of City Harvest Church was hauled to court for misusing church fund for as much as $50 Million. They were found guilty, and has been sentence to jail. Part of the scandal was Khong Hee’s wife, a superstar wannabe, Sun ‘The Geisha’ Ho. I used to confuse her with Stephanie Sun, who is the real deal, who really can sing one, and don’t need to prance around in undies to get attention. Sorry Steph, I know its insulting to get mistaken for that cheap Sun.

Anyway, while the case ebb and flow with legal technicalities complex enough to ground even the best legal eagle, your dad is not here to tell you boys about the virtues about the case, I want to tell you boys the virtues of Religion, from my perspective.

Your dad has been to CHC

Yes, I was there once when they still had their session in this old ‘Hollywood’ Cinema, in Joo Chiat area. I was invited by a friend, when I was still serving my National Service. And Yes, it was held like a rock concert, everyone was highly energetic, ecstatic, and enthusiastic. All the right ingredients for fanaticism. With emotions running so high, they basically bypass your logic and rationale. You cannot think reasonably, you want to feel the high, and you will give whatever you have, to feel the love of God. You want to come back to this place to get the high again, and you’ll pay, and any amount of money is well worth it, in fact, for God, you forgot about money. So while I left that place generally quite pumped up by the copious does of positivism, and good feeling, it didn’t stick with me. Perhaps, I was poor then, and money was more important to me than any God. To be honest, back then I wasn’t sure if there is really such a thing call ‘God’, I wasn’t sure then, I’m nowhere near as sure now!

Spirituality and Religion

I have never considered myself a religious person, spiritual, yes, religious, no. My opinion? Religions are generally shams, no apologies there; why am I so skewed? Well, religion is never about religion, truth to be told, it is always about people, the gathering of people, and when you have a group of people, coming together, you’ll have to deal with 2 inevitable, Money and Politics. When you gather enough people, you will need to feed them, organize them, and all these activities need money and leadership, and politics is part and parcel of leadership.

Spirituality on the other hand is you, your existence, and your relationship with the immediate and not-so-immediate surrounding. Highly spiritual people can understand and relate to God, and you don’t have to have a religion, or be religious to know god.

Let’s be realistic, what do you need to know God? Time, not money.

What do you need to pray? Time, not money.

Religion, attachment to money, and politics, is in fact an impediment to anyone’s journey to get closer to the divine.

So how did money get involved, to such a large and dirty state?

It again, goes back to the gathering of people, when enough people gathered together to want to know a specific type of god, they will build a structure to host these ‘Gods’, Temples, Churches, Mosques, and these buildings need to be maintained, and it cannot be maintained for free. So you need money to pay people to come and fix things in these buildings. When things breaks down, you want to buy replacements, and heck, since you are getting replacements, might as well get the bestest ones, how can the house of god be subject to sub-par, second hand stuffs? So there we go, the spiral goes up and up, and you’ll end up with mega churches, adorned with air-con comforts, rock star stage, lightning and sound system that would have made Bon Jovi proud. Money, more money is need to maintain these places, and how do you get more money? Get more people to join! And the loop goes on. Make hype, stir emotions, build publicity, so that more people will come, this sham is even better than the best MLM sorcery! You cannot go wrong selling faith!

Tithing

I think this is the basis of how a good deed gone really bad. When you have a building to maintain, everyone must chip in, put in some money to support the upkeep of the building, that’s all. I don’t think money, spare money should be spent, making a specific Sun Ho dress so little and have everyone else use their body parts to touch Sun Ho’s exposed body parts in a  thinly vile attempt to cover these body parts and keep her warm. Tithing is important as a form of personal sacrifice and giving for good faith (pun intended) and to make a stupid, tasteless video like China Wine is absolutely horrendous bad faith!Screen Shot 2013-07-19 at 6.50.56 PM.png

If there is spare money from tithing, then it can be put to other uses, but of course, there are other ideas once you have lots of spare cash, we can all get creative! We can all get corrupted!

Its just greed.

17884403_1379427352114554_1058376516089083997_n

To know God, any god is simple, just search within yourself, and if you have to, pray. Sorry, I don’t have an academic approach to praying. No one has, praying is something unique to us, and special to us, If you believe in God, a prayer is your own personal intimate conversation with god. You don’t need money, nor give people money to know god. And you don’t need anyone to help you pray, you pray, for yourself, and if you love someone deep enough, you’ll pray for that other person, really, it is just that simple.

I’m going to hell, see you there!

So boys, while I am skeptical about religion, you are free to choose whichever religion you want, as long as these endeavors are religiously realistic. Please stay away from people who are too fanatical or fervent. Be careful when these religious folks start saying things like, “If you don’t join us, you will go to hell!” F**k ’em, your dad has a one way ticket to hell, and when I see these shallow, greedy bastards there, they’ll get a personal tutelage from me on what hell really is.

Links:

http://mothership.sg/2017/04/chc-put-up-an-11-qn-faq-on-the-still-guilty-outcome-heres-our-verdict-on-it/

http://www.straitstimes.com/singapore/courts-crime/legal-costs-may-run-up-to-record-15m-for-criminal-trial

http://www.businesstimes.com.sg/in-depth/city-harvest-trial

Advertisements

New form of Aikidokas

Not too long ago, I chatted up an Aikidoka, when I was on my way to NUS for my Aikido class. I sat down with this chap and once we started talking, I ended up late for my class, very late.

The gist of the conversation bothers me, and makes me wonder, again, the state and quality of the Aikido practitioners in Singapore.

Instructor in one school, Student in another

We started the chat, talking about the weather, stuffs about Aikido of course. I didn’t know this chap so well, and thought he was working in some corporate office, like me, and takes Aikido lessons in the evening.

We talked about the respective Aikido school, and I learned that he actually teaches Aikido in a school that is specifically tailored for children, it is related to one of the Aikido school in Singapore.

He lamented that because of the large size of the school, there are multiple instructors holding classes, and because the head instructor is the head instructor, there is limited opportunity to train with the head instructor, in depth, in person. So those different instructors have different interpretations, dependent on the understanding of the instructors. So he ended up getting a variety of style. This is quite common, since owing to the large size of the school. No matter how much quality one can put into the instructors, it will always get watered down, as the numbers gets bigger. It’s elementary, really.

Regular Army, Rangers and Delta Force

In military terms, you have the regular Army, then you get the Rangers, which is better trained than the regular Army, then you have the Delta Force, which is the creme de la creme of the Army. A regular Army unit? Corps size, which is perhaps 50,000 men. A Ranger unit? It is about 3,500 men, and Delta Force? even smaller, maybe 1,000 or less?

The point is, when you want something to have quality, you cannot have quantity, an vice versa. Martial arts is subject to the same equation. You want good quality practitioners? Have a smaller class, a smaller group. The larger the class, the worse the quality.

Of course, you need a bigger class, if you are aiming to make it profitable. You need economies of scale, so that you can be sustainable, so that you can make money, and keep going. This is the perpetual enemy of any Aikido school, any martial arts school, any business. You need constant, repeating customers to make money, and the larger the better!

Back to this chap I met…

So he is effectively a paid, full time instructor. And the simpleton in me, expects him to learn from his sensei.

Instead, he told me, as a matter of fact, he is going to another smaller, Aikido school to learn. A school that is not affiliated to the one he teaches in.

Sorry, this blew my mind.

This chap has no reservations in loyalty. Well, who am I to demand that he has? He is a paying student, a consumer in the broadest sense. Nevermind that he is a paid instructor of another Aikido school. I don’t know how to wrap my logic around such matter.

Perhaps it is not about loyalty, it is about being drawn towards quality. Perhaps, as an instructor, he is compelled to deliver the best Aikido curriculum to his students, and the current curriculum in his Aikido school isn’t measuring up, so he has to use his own money to go and learn from another school, so that he can bring back what he learned from another school to teach his students. It is like a Mercedes driving instructor, going to BMW to learn how to drive better, and use what he learned in BMW to teach Mercedes students how to drive better. I don’t know how that sounds like, but for marital arts this just sound weird.

Stick with one school

Although I used the word ‘loyalty’ here, I don’t think, I train with Harry sensei for the longest time, because I am ‘loyal’ to him. Neither am I disloyal, in any sense. When I train long enough with Harry sensei, his understanding becomes my knowledge, and through a thorough understanding of his movement, I learn my own unique style. This process is deep and takes years. Of course, you can throw in the fact that I am ‘lucky’ to have direct, and intimate access to a 7th Dan Aikido shihan, I can build my knowledge on a dedicated, single sensei platform.

Honestly, I don’t have a good answer out of this. I think is all boils down to your own path and what you want out of it. I cannot see myself training in one place and teaching in another, there is just something not coherent in that method of thought.

Anyway, here’s a list of Aikido schools in Singapore. I don’t know if the list is a complete one, as the community is still fragmenting. By the way, they are not listed in any order, its completely random.

Credibility

 There is a recent growth in Aikido practitioners marketing their skills as teachers here in Singapore.

Well, as a potential student, one perennial issue is, the qualification. Certainly when a reader read my blog, the reader is also looking for certain qualities that suggests I know what I am writing about. What about an Aikidoka selling his/her ability to teach?

I don’t know, I don’t have the slightest idea on how to set up a dojo or becoming an Aikido Teacher. Perhaps that statement alone will not qualify me to make these comments, but hey, this is my blog, I will comment what I feel it is right to comment.

Basically, in Singapore, until recently, there are only a few Aikikai-style senseis in Singapore who has been teaching for a long time, namely, my sensei, Harry Ng, of Shoshin Aikido, Freddy Khong sensei, of Singapore Aikido Federation, Philip Lee sensei, of Shinjukai, and George Chang sensei, of Ueshiba Aikido. These senseis has been the mainstay of the Aikido fraternity in Singapore. And most of them were students of the late Teddy Lee, and Teddy Lee himself was a student of Nagazono sensei. Nagazono can be credited for planting the seed of Aikido in Singapore. Well that is how the lineage should be, accordingly to my memory.

Hence, if I was given a choice and opportunity to start Aikido, I would credit my linage and teachings to Harry sensei, and from Harry sensei to Teddy Lee sensei and Teddy Lee to Nagazono sensei. Which would in effect make me the 4th generation sensei, in accordance to this lineage.

However, there are some Aikido teachers here, who also share the same teachers as I do, and through these teachers, attained their high ranking, decided for their own reasons, branch out and start their own school. In their website, they not only did not pay homage to their sensei, instead they orientate themselves to another high ranking shihan as their ‘technical adviser’. Some even decided to lurk in the murky depths of the past to align themselves as distant relatives to certain dead sensei. Of course there is no way to dispute nor verify that casually, but why go that extent to gain credibility?

We practice a traditional martial arts, and these arts have a culture of lineage, typically, or at least personally for me, I do not ‘sensei-hop’ and Harry sensei has been my sensei, the only sensei. He is not perfect, and I am not his favourite student. But the skills I got, I got it from him, and I cannot ignore that fact. I can kind of guess why these new Aikido teachers ignore acknowledging their sensei, perhaps it is due to some differences or disagreements, which is probably the very first reason why they decided to open their own school and be their own Aikido boss. If that is the reason for doing so, then it is the excessive works of the ego. I told myself, I would only open a dojo, with my sensei’s blessing, there is no other way to do so. We simply cannot go about opening a dojo and not give credit when credit’s due, this is against the spirit of Aikido as a martial arts.

It is also a general rule of life, we cannot ‘disown’ our parents, our spouse, just because of some differences. It simply cannot work this way. When we sever ourselves from our source, we will only be creating more problem for us, because the students we groom, will in due time, ‘disown’ the teachers, the same way the teacher, disowned the teacher who taught the teacher. In fact, this perpetuation has already started.

First published : May 8, 2013

Economics of life 101

Dear Boys,

We have had this house for a while. There are things that comes and go, and we are quite pragmatic about what can lasts and what doesn’t, so that we spend our money prudently. There are some of the items we buy and my opinion on them.

Fans

fan 1  VS  fan

There is no need to get a cool looking Dyson Bladeless fan, which easily cost S$500 to S$1,500. Sure it is a cool (pun intended) looking piece of technology. But hey it comes with a 2 year warranty, like most fans, what does that mean? Will it break down 2 years plus 1 day? You guess is as good as mine. The normal fan next to it? Costs perhaps at best S$150, warranty? 2 years for most. When, not if, either one of them breaks down, which one will you ache over? A $500 fan or a $150 fan? I can buy 3 normal fan and cool 3 rooms compare to a Dyson Bladeless fan, to me that works better than plonking down big bucks for the sake of asthetics. No matter how good the Dyson fan is, I only need it to blow air, that’s all

Watches

casio VS  wacthes

Unless if you are into investment, I’d get a watch for day to day use, a Casio will do. Expensive watches are expensive to maintain as well, every time you send one in for servicing, it’ll cost a couple of thousands.

The late Mr Lee Kuan Yew also wears a Casio for his day to day. He got a Rolex, which was a gift.

And yes, watches, do break down, and unlike time, it does not lasts forever.

It’s a lifestyle thing, of course, there are many merits one will sell you for getting a S$20,000 watch to slap on your wrist. But after than telling time, what else can you do with it? Kill bad guys by shooting laser?

Personally, when I do have the money to afford a really expensive watch, I’d get a Rolex. Why? In my time, you’ll hear about watch sales. But you will never hear about a Rolex sales. Thing that has value, do not need to go on sale for the sake of selling.

Wedding Rings

wedding rings

The one your mum and I have, is a simple Platinum band, which costs S$700 a pair. None of us have diamonds on them. I didn’t get your mum any engagement rings. She didn’t get carats from me. We like it this way, because while the ring is symbolic, it must symbolizes the meaning of the relationship, simple, pure and lasting. If your wife wants a rock, think again, while I wouldn’t your choice is ‘bad‘, you just have to make choices you can afford.

Shoes

We will go through many, many pairs in our lifetime. And all shoes wear out, if it is a S$10 pair or a S$600 pair. And when you put them on your feet, they mostly look the same. You can hardly tell an expensive pair of Oxford shoes from a average pair unless you have really sharp eyes.

Again the deal here is wear and tear. For shoes, I won’t go for the cheapest, I’ll go for one that is mid price, with a good brand, which I have heard of. I will not buy basement price shoes, because it matter what we put on our feet. Bad shoes can cause discomfort, or worse injuries.

For running, sports shoes, I’d choose mid price one, heck, I’d get lower price range. My rationale is, if I can run, I’d be running with any decent jogging shoes, and I’m no athlete, so I do not need high end performance jogging shoes, these costs more but do the same thing for me. I will not spend more than S$150 for a pair of running shoes. As long as they are comfortable, I can run in them, its good to go.

Pens

pens.JPG

Pens are another money wasters, while I have a fetish for pens, your mother will agree to that! I’m not a big fan of expensive pens. Pens are small and you’ll lose them. And ink will run out, and people buy expensive pens for the same reason they buy expensive watches, it is a matter of image, style and for the rare few, too much money they don’t know where to spend on. If you are a great writer, any ordinary pen will be suffice to convey your ideas, if you are rubbish, even a S$600 Mont Blanc will end up writing nonsense.

So no, I will not spend more than S$20 bucks on a good pen, most of the time, a plastic, ball point pen not more than S$2 is enough to make me happy. Anything more, you’d be better off writing with your blood.

Computers

computers

My mantra is to spend as little as possible on computers. I bought a Lenovo laptop which eventually became a white elephant. When I traded it in for charity, all I got back was a S$30 voucher. So no matter how expensive your gadget is, once it is sold, to you, and you trying to sell it off, will turn that $1,000 thing your bought into dirt cheap $100 preowned, preloved secondhand goods.

Bags

LV.JPG

No I didn’t get your mum any expensive S$2,000 bags, such as the famed Louis Vuitton. She didn’t want me to spend too much money of these kind of things. Her current bag is a Cath Kidson brand I bought on sale, I think it didn’t cost me more than S$200. It is a hardy bag, which is stylish, it does the job and you cannot ask for anything more.

While I write about this, if there is any bag brand I’d splurge, it would be an LV. Again, this boils down to the same ‘Rolex phenomenon’, you will never see an LV sale anywhere. They are a good brand, with a value and do not need to stoop to a level of ‘Sale’ to sell their bags.

Electronic vs Electrical

There are many items we use that relies on electricity. And nowadays, there are many more electronic stuffs than electrical. And electronic stuff typically do not have a long lifespan. There are modern myths and urban legends that hints towards manufacturers making thing that has a short lifespan, so that we can consumers can get trapped in that buying spree, so as to stimulate profits and the economy.

There is some truth to that as my Asus Zenfone 5 went kaput shortly after its 12 month warranty expires. Well, that is one of the many, I guess, but there are also electronic items that lasts and lasts, so the truth is really out there.

Nothing lasts forever

When we buy something, there is a certain high to owning new things, so while that is a great feeling, even some bragging rights to it, after a while it will feel like the same old thing. Everything settles down after a while and all items, not matter how expensive, will break down, so while you are prepared to spend top dollar for a material, will you still be thinking about it when it breaks down, and when you have to throw it away?

We are not stingy on things, but we tend to place value on the things we buy, and these values are more than monetary costs, which is ironic, since people mostly put a lot of money into things, therefore these things becomes ‘valuable’. We tend to differ, we value things, not matter how ‘cheap’ or ‘expensive’ they are, and when the needs calls for it, we will not hesitate to spend to get the best product money can buy, but when you think on the side of pragmatism, you seldom have to do that, most reasonably priced stuffs are quite lasting and does the job decently well.

 

The Big Island Theme Park we call Home

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Dear Boys,

We have been to a few theme parks, The Universal Studios SingaporeLegoland Malaysia, Disneyland Hong Kong, just to name a few, so you know what a theme park is all about.

The theme of theme parks is to make money by attracting visitors, there are many attractions in it to make the visitors goes in awe and makes them want to come back again. Theme parks need to continuously upgrade their attractions to make sure visitors are not bored with the same old thing.

There are 2 distinct groups of people in these parks. The visitors, and the staffs working there. Occasionally, we will get visitors wanting to actually join the theme park as staff, and occasionally we do get staffs, who use the theme park like a visitor.

This is not too far from the reality of life we are living right now

staff signStaff only

In every Theme park, there is a ‘staff only’ door, where, obviously if you don’t work in the theme park, you don’t get to go in.

What’s behind the door?

Well, that is where the ‘hard truths’ of the reality comes in, every theme park comes to life because there are many workers, working to make the rides safe, clean the streets, wash the loos, there are also the marketing folks who design attractions, sell them so that tourists will flock to the rides.

Many, many things are happening behind the door and none of the tourists nor visitors gets to see, should see, nor want to see. This is where the employees stays and be themselves behind the scenes, This is where the staff can let down and talk about life. The employees of the theme park isn’t always going about chatty, and pretending to be magical and all that. They have real lives, and once they walk through that ‘Employees Only’ door, they can drop their image of a happy trooper, and head back to real life.

Singaporeans= Theme park Employees

I can’t be more blunt than that, I feel a sense of hollow in our society, the blank stares are everywhere. Singapore, as a land exists as a hub, a trading port for people, goods, to come and go, that’s all. We have the best Airports and Sea-Ports for a reason, it is a place where ships, brings goods, come and go. Nobody ever really stayed really. It is a way-point for transactions, and in the midst of that transaction, we make money.

Money which we use for other transactions. We use money to make more hubs, so that more visitors will come. As long as we, as a hub stays relevant, and current, people will come, we will make money, just like Disney land. As long as money is the centre of our social fabric, we will remain shallow, and our whole lives, go from deal to deal, without actually getting anything meaningful out of staying here. We live in the constant hype of the high, created by the rides and theme park attractions.

When we end our work, we leave the office, we step through our metaphorical ‘Staff-only’ door, disrobe our banker hat, doctor mask, sales person costume, and go back to real life, we go back to our screaming kids, ailing parents, rising taxes, claustrophobic train rides, and of course, our 5 inch world.

The next day, is simply another Groundhog Day. Live, Die, Repeat.

groundhog day

The Government=Theme Park Management

People gripe at the government all the time. The government is always in a damn-it-if-you-do/ damn-it-if-you-don’t duality. But honestly, the government are mostly interested in the theme park, and how to keep it running. There will always be complains from employees now and then, but as long as the employees gets paid, everyone would just bear with it.

I’m not anti-government, just so you know. Why should I? The government don’t care about me and my opinions, because the government is never personal, they are always big picture; they have to, they need to keep the entire theme park running, if the theme park closes, due to mismanagement, all the employees from top to bottom loses. The tourists? They will just go to the next theme park!

Can Singapore be less of a Theme Park?

Honestly I don’t think so. As long as Singapore remains a hub, we will always have people come and go, and those who are here, the citizens, will always face short-term socio-economic cycles. We will never have a longevity of an heritage, people will never feel that they have a part of Singapore they really have and hold, and called their own. As with all theme parks, change is the only constant, attractions will need revamp. Those specific rides we love will go away, and we will be left with only fickle memories, which will die when we die. Even those who are dead, will be dug up and their places, replaced with something new, and swanky.

Lines between employees and visitors become blurred when the employees are often caught up by the fun and hype of the theme park, and join in as visitors, and play on the rides, get all high and excited, have all the fun. While there is nothing wrong with that, it comes with a price (yes money again) When the employees play visitors, who is playing employees? This leaves the theme park short handed, and the management has to resort to other means to fill the manpower shortage. That created another set of problems that warrants a new post by itself.

Here’s the rub

Well, boys, if you think working in this theme park is bad, don’t. At least the employees here gets a decent education, healthcare is taken care of. Nobody steals from the staff canteen. Most of your colleagues, gets together well. The management are genuine and listen to the gripes of the people and have the heart of the theme park in everything they do. It’s not an easy job running the theme park, and keeping everyone’s morale up. They are not perfect, but they are trying.

The rub is this, at least when you walk through that door, you see a theme park. In many other place, you get slums, you get landfills, you get polluted drains. We have a theme park going, so let’s try to make the best of it.

We live in the constant hype of the high, created by the rides and theme park attractions.