How to Cheat at Soccer

How to Cheat at Soccer

Dear Boys,

This was an interesting story since your dad is not a ‘ball’ guy, and has little or no interest whatsoever in anything ballsy. This happened back in 2006 when I was with the bank.

For cohesion, banks usually will have ‘Recreational Clubs’ to organize activities for the staffs to have fun and bond over non-work related activities. So there was this ‘7-a-side’ soccer tournament and my friends in the department wanted to join. The rule was to form a team of 10, 7 playing, 3 reserves. The guys got a team of 9, and chided me to join as the tenth guy, I was thinking, well, I’m gonna chip in a name to make up the numbers, and probably sit out the whole thing; just a warm body on the bench. No sweat right? I honestly do not plan to see any action, soccer’s not my thing.

The other part was, I mistakenly thought this was Futsal, which is played in a very small area, and with that in mind, I don’t think I’d be expecting a lot of running, even if I played. No sweat.

I Actually Played Soccer!

The tournament was held at St Wilfred Soccer field, which was actually a full size soccer pitch, with a nice artificial turf. The other teams from the bank came much better prepared, they even have their own jerseys, which we found out why, at the end of the tournament.

Despite of just being a bench warmer, I ended up having to play, because some of my friends needed to catch their wind and asked for a time out. So I played, and played terribly, since it was my first time, playing ‘competitively’, my opponents was certainly much, much better. While I tried the best I could, I was completely out-dribbled and out classed by my opponents. On top of that, running around chasing the ball in a full size soccer pitch really takes the wind out of you, and I almost died out there, the fitness necessary to play soccer was really no joke, and the professionals have to do it for a full 90 minute.

Aikido to the Rescue (or not!)

Not knowing how to be a soccer player. I turn to the other physical activity I knew and was very good at: Aikido. The only good as an Aikidoka, was I can take contact sports and give as good as I get, but this is not martial arts, it’s soccer,. My brain was processing, ‘ball’ or ‘guy’. ball’ or ‘guy’ and my instinct was to attack the guy, not the ball, so I charged and dived the only way I knew (the artificial turf was such a luxury to dive in!), and of course my opponent, easily run circles around your dad, the clumsy soccer noob. Obviously I also don’t have the technical skills to dribble nor pass the ball to my team-mates properly, and likely end up more of a liability than part of a team.

It was all for the sake of fun and we all did enjoyed ourselves. We didn’t do shabby either, and managed to score some goals and climbed the small leader board.

4th place and the Commotion

Eventually we ended up 4th place, and was not bad, not last at the very least. While everyone gathered at the rest point, to have the medals presented, we heard a commotion. Apparently the runner up team complained to the judges.

The Champions cheated.

The winning team had more than 10 players, and the reason why they wore jerseys, was so that they can switch out their players and people can’t really tell the difference between the players, wearing the same jersey. We played against them, and we didn’t notice any change in their players. Maybe my friends did, but I sure as hell didn’t. Well, the other teams found out and protested the fraud.

They got disqualified, weren’t too happy about it, and even kick up a temper. They say a lot of their friends wanted to join and the 10 person limit meant that some of them would not be able to play, which was why they swop jersey so that their friends can have a change to play, which would also meant fielding fresh players as well. What an excuse!

Being in the 4th place, we got pushed up and became the 2nd runner-ups, thanks to the turn of events in our favor!

The 7 Wonders.

Your Dad- The Debt Collector

Your Dad- The Debt Collector

Dear Boys,

One of the many jobs your dad did was a Debt Collector, not the ‘Ah Long’ type, but the legal type, I started off this line of work with Standard Chartered Bank, that was here I met your mum. (That’s a story for another time) Back then such line of work was called ‘Customer Assistance’ and other times it is called ‘Credit Management’. Colloquially, we are known as Credit Control, Debt Collections, Collections or even ‘Accounts Receivables’.

Your dad’s desk, 2008

Lessons Learned

I spent almost 10 years there, from 1999-2009, and looking back, it was these years that I reflect back and learned a lot of lessons, in handling people, more about myself as a person, and also the unintended long tail of consequences. The more salient points first.

Money Management

People called it ‘financial literacy’, passive income and all that fancy name, for me it is plain simple, your output must not be more than your input, you cannot spend more than you earn. Of course if you are in business and investing, this sounds like an act of financial cowardice, but hey, this simple principle has ensured that no one is suing your dad for debts, or your dad is so swamped with bills he has not more money to spend on the family.

Photo by Monstera from Pexels

True Story

True story, I was working with a bank and through our system, I picked up an account, and looked at the profile: Young guy, just joined the military, his credit limit- $6,000, which he has maxed out couple of months back and he is now overdue in paying his credit cards. It’s a brand new account by the way. He also have a ‘Line of Credit’ account, which is similar to a credit card except you don’t have a credit card, maxed out at $6,000 as well.

That makes his total debt with my bank $12,000.

Back then we can call our counterparts in other banks to do something of a ‘card check’, this quid pro quo industry practice back then helps us manage our debtors, exchange information to help us get a more holistic picture about how deep our debtor’s debt is, actually. This guy?

Other than my bank, he also owed, like maybe 4 to five other banks.

Which means his total debt known is about… $60,000?

For a young guy who just stepped into the working world as a SAF regular.

Let’s work the sums back, usually banks will grant you a credit limit of 2x your income. If he had the $6,000, it mean that his income is about $3,000. How much we say he owed all the banks?

Good. Luck. To. Him.

Photo by Monstera from Pexels

Garnishee order (of sorts)

You boys might not heard of such a thing, but the bank is legally allowed to take the money you have in your savings/ current account to pay off your debts. This happened to one guy who was so unlucky to have this happened to him on his payday.

He owed the bank credit card debts which he didn’t pay and the account was cancelled. Once that happens, the bank will want the full payment from you. For his case, his savings/ current account was with the same bank, where he puts his salary in. Since there was money in there, we took everything and use it to pay off his credit cards, which was still not enough to clear everything.

We wipe out everything in his savings account, and it was still not enough to clear his credit card debts.

He called in that morning, because he tried to use his savings ATM card to pay for his daughter’s medical bill, and it was decline. Of course.

There was nothing we can do as it is standard procedures, like so many debtors I’ve come across, he had tonnes of excuse, but it was sheer bad luck that we cancelled his account and took all his money at the moment he got the salary. Now he has to find other ways to tide over the month till his next pay check.

For Garnishee Order, it is actually quite technical, first the bank or creditor has to find out your payday, and execute this order, on or near your payday, of which the court can seize your salary and use it to pay the banks. and the next pay check, the banks have to do it all over again.

Next time, I’ll tell you boys some more stories about things that has happened in the banks.

Photo by Alice Pasqual on Unsplash

No Gain=No Pain

No Gain=No Pain

The old adage of ‘No Pain, No Gain’ centres a lot on our masochistic nature to push ourselves above and beyond. This sheer bravado is dangerous as it teases the ego to carry out whatever the pain threshold, just to get a little gain. And reinforces the concept that pain is good, as much as gain is.

The thing is what can we gain out of pain, really? What have we got to prove? We are tougher? We are tougher than the other guy?

We all have our breaking point, all of us, we will break at our given level. So sometimes, we can go beyond the pain, to gain, but what we really potentially can gain is irreparable damage.

So what we gain instead is pain, long term suffering.

Aikido, as with most spiritual endeavours, is about abandonment. The relinquishing of our hold that binds us to our suffering. Hence, the opposite is true, what we gain in value, causes us no pain.

Photo by Andres Ayrton from Pexels

Think of the fats we gain, and our attempts to go to the gym to work it out and get that perfect abs. In order for us to ‘gain’ that six-pack; we ‘pain’ ourselves with 1000 sit ups, brain washing ourselves with every rep, ‘No pain, no gain!’ Who are we kidding?

We need to put the cart in front, and be mindful of what we gain, we will still gain something and we cannot help it. And those that we have gain, causes us pain, we have to shed them, before these gains turn into real pain.

So had we prevent our mouths from gaining access to that delicious donut, we will have saved our entire body the pain of losing it later.

Photo by Tim Samuel from Pexels

So the more mindful we are about what we gain, the better we get at reducing our pain.

Posted on June 13, 2012

Your Father’s 39th Birthday

Your Father’s 39th Birthday

Dear Boys,

This 39th birthday I truly understand the meaning of family. It is simply because I felt a sense of abandonment from my mom and brother. I heard from my mother’s sister, my aunt, that my mother and elder brother has moved, she invited her sister to her house for some kind of house warming but she didn’t inform me. Given the kind of relationship I have with my brother, I can understand why she didn’t invite me, at the very least, tell me where they’ve moved to.

That is quite a psychological reality check for me, I guess I should have seen it coming, things hadn’t been the warmest between me and my brother and mother, but I still would think of them as family. The signs are there when I visited them one Chinese New Year and me at the gate, roused my brother from his slumber, only to hear him said, ‘Brother? I don’t have a brother.’ That was when I greeted him and asked him where is mum, and I’m his brother!

So now they’ve move, and without an address the cut is complete, and absolute. Perhaps is better this way, boys, I don’t know, things are always happening in future tense that leave us with little preparation in the present. The reality is that, I felt the loneliness in a deep and profound way.

So this birthday, it was a very small family affair, just your mum, and the 2 of you, there’s really no one else left who will remember my birthday, not to mention the mere celebrating the day. When I die, if anytime sooner, my wife will have her parents and little brother to remember her birth and celebrate with her, she has the both of you, that kind of birthday song, would sound a little louder.

For me, this 39th birthday for me, looking at the 3 of you, singing the song, made me really, really wish, and I want to hold true to that wish, ‘I wish that the 3 of you, sitting before me, will be by my side for as long as I live

Posted February 23, 2015

How we spent our Deepavali-Istana Visit

How we spent our Deepavali-Istana Visit

Dear Boys,

I decided to give your mum a ‘me time’ for the hardwork she put in helping you, Ian with your exams. So I took you boys out so that your mum can go for her nail message, compliments of Auntie Chai Ping.

Where can we go, 3 male members of the Lim family? The Istana was hosting an open house and it is free entry for Singaporeans, so why not? We packed up and headed out, looking forward to spending some time at the official residence of our President. After all, it is free entry and its been a long time since I’ve step foot in the Istana for a visit.

We reached the place and found it to be raining a little, and got heavier as we approached the Main Building. the compound is really a nice place to visit, with the sprawling greenery, and magnificent lawn. Once we passed the tight security, the first sight that draws us towards was the Swan pond.

Swan Pond. Admiring the Swan

The both of you were fascinated with the single white swan there and snapped pictures like it was the last living White Swan on earth. Thankfully the turf on the Istana ground is quite well maintained, despite of the rain, and wet grounds didn’t translate into a muddy quagmire, despite of the heavy trampling by the large crowds.

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As we walked up and towards the slight gradient, the both of you chatted that this was where they saw on television the funeral procession of Mr Lee Kuan Yew, and wondered where is the Sri Temasek.

The Sri Temasek

The premises was out of bounds and we can only stop to appreciate the diminutive building, where so much of our country’s history has happened there. While we watch, our minds played the mental image of Mr Lee’s cortege rolled out from the place, in a wet day no different from the day we visited Istana.

The Main Building

We had to seek refuge there along with many ‘un-umbrella’ folks, as the sky decided to open up on us. We learned from a Scout there, that we can actually buy a ticket to go into Istana for a house tour. With nothing better to do, I decided to leave the 2 of you with the Scout and headed out in the downpour to get the tickets. There is no photo taking allowed inside so we have to keep our pictures in our head.

The interior is a grand place, which is of course, as we have to host our nation’s guests there. There is an air of importance as well as decorum, you can’t help but feel the importance of such a place to us ordinary Singaporeans. it is important that we host our country’s guests in the highest pristine so that we get the respect and voice in the global community.

The Gun Terrace

This is certainly the highlight for the both of you as you boys take turns to take pictures of it, walk around it and explore this World War 2 relic.

The Military Guardroom

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We did a few fun shots there with a few ornamental mini cannons, your little brother, as usual, is such a pain when it comes to making him look at the camera and do a decent pose!

Our signature childhood photo

This is the kind of photograph where we can look back, decades from now and relish the memories. I am sure many of us and our parents out there has a photo like that taken with a soldier standing at attention. This will certainly be a journey I hope the 2 of you can cherish and remember fondly.

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Posted November 19, 2015

Meeting my MATADOR (Army Story)

300px-MATADOR_Stand

Dear Boys,

Let me tell you an Army story.

During your father’s Reservist, he has fired a MATADOR (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/MATADOR). This is an Light Anti-Tank Weapon (LAW), that is in used with the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) Our unit was given some organic weapons training, the NSmen were given a few choices: M-16/SAR21, Ultimax 100/SAW, GPMG, or the MATADOR. It was a once in a lifetime opportunity, so I chose MATADOR.

I mean, who in this world actually get a chance to fire a real anti-tank rocket? It was a chance too good to pass up!

Of course there was a familiarization lessons to go through. We handled the dummy version, understand the immediate action (IA) drill in case the weapon malfunction. This mainly have to do with the weapon not firing and we have to leave the weapon, more gently than you put a sleeping baby down! Any jerk could set off the malfunction weapon and blow everybody up with the most unintended consequences! The reality is that it can be nerve wrecking to know if that high explosive thing you put on your shoulder failed to go off.

Anyway, we went through some technical handling and we made it to the MATADOR range, which was actually an open area where we get to shoot at some metal targets simulating vehicles. Since a single live MATADOR cost more than S$10,000, the army has to make sure we are familiar with it. So we were given to sub-munition rounds to get ourselves familiar with whole drill of handling the MATADOR. There were 2 rounds of sub-munitions for us to shoot at the targets. So when we squeeze the trigger, a small projectile will be sent flying towards the target. Piece of cake.

When it came to the real thing, all of us got somber and serious. We were told that the MATADOR packed a nasty back blast, and true enough the amount of back blast was phenomenal. Anyone standing 5 meters behind it will be severely injured by the back blast. No joke, it threw a blast a good 10 meters or more.

Matador

Because it was an expensive round to fire, everyone only have one chance. and due to some military mess up, I was the last shooter for the entire cohort.

It was an exciting moment as I hefted the real thing onto my right shoulder and as I peered through the simple sights, I took aim at the big vehicle shaped metal sheet, about 250m ahead, well within the MATADOR’s maximum 500m range.

So I repeated the commands and grasp the pistol grip and flicked the safety off. The moment of truth.

Nothing prepared me for what was going to happen.

BOOM!

I squeezed the trigger and was totally taken by surprise the amount of recoil of the weapon packed. And the amount of smoke! I totally lost sight of the target momentarily.

When the smoke cleared, I couldn’t hear what the trainer was trying to tell me, I pulled my earplugs off while I exited the little mold of earth making up the firing point, everyone at the training shed was on their feet cheering!

I thought they were cheering since I was the last firing, so I lifted the empty, and light MATADOR casing in bravado. It was later when I reached the training shed that I realise what my buddies were cheering about.

As I didn’t prepare for the recoil, the warhead was jerked upwards when it left the MATADOR. Hence with an upward trajectory, the warhead totally missed the target and instead flew for its maximum 500 meters and landed beyond the range parameters!

It probably blew up some tree and killed some ants. What a way to waste a $10,000 weapon!

Link: https://www.facebook.com/watch/?v=10154083797606063

The “Bastard” Story

The “Bastard” Story

Dear Ian,

You have been acquainted to the word ‘Bastard”. No thanks to some kid in your school.

Well, this might be something we forget years from now, but it is one of those things that we would like to pen down.

You came home yesterday and asked your mum, “What is the meaning of Bastard?” Your mum, shocked to even hear you mention the word, told you in a reactive rebuke, it is of course, a ‘bad’ word. And she asked you if you’ve used it. And you obviously said ‘no’.

Photo by RODNAE Productions from Pexels
Photo by RODNAE Productions from Pexels

What we learned from you was that someone in school used the ‘B’ word on you during your basketball training, and it was, in your account, perhaps the senior boys, in Primary 4, 5 or 6. who scolded you and added the ‘B’ word.

On top of that, there is this kid who smacked you head with Colin’s from behind. And someone threw a ball at your face. Those rough and tough stuffs you can rough it out, tough it out.

The twist of the story came this morning, when Colin’s mum got a call from school from the teacher to tell her about what happened. Long story short. The teacher mentioned that you used the word ‘bastard’ in school. and Colin also said you did.

Your mum knew now, you used it, but you learned it from someone, and the teacher only caught you using it, but she is not aware that you learned it from someone else in the basketball lesson.

To set the records straight, your mum went to the teacher after class and clarified the matter. Not in your defense but to make sure that the facts are set right. You used the word, which you should aptly be punished. But you didn’t bring the word into the class, someone did, and you were caught using it. That doesn’t make you less ‘wrong’ but it matters that the teacher sees the situation from another angle.

So the point is this, Ian, you have to let us know what is going on in school, even if you are punished for some reason, or you did something wrong, please let us know. Because you could have been contextually right in the wrong content and vice versa.

Had we not set the records straight, you would have been branded the boy who brought the ‘bastard’ to school. We do not want such stereotypes on you, not like this.

Posted January 28, 2014

Your Parent’s 10th Wedding Anniversary

Your Parent’s 10th Wedding Anniversary

Dear Boys,

December 14th is a significant date for your parents for it is the day your parents got married. This year is our 10th year together, and indeed is has been quite a 3650 days!

I’ve booked a room with M hotel, the hotel in which we got married back in 2003. The room was a deluxe with a King size bed, I thought it could fit the 4 of us sleeping and it did! Well, we have to snuggle width of the bed.

It was a nice roomy room. And on top of the room, it was packaged with a one way paid trip into Sentosa. I told your mum it will be a “best of both worlds’. One was we can spend time in the hotel where we had our wedding dinner in, the other was Sentosa, where I proposed to your mother.

We ‘booked’ a London cab, since none of you boys has ever taken one. Unfortunately, the hotel wasn’t able to get us one through the phone booking, as all the cabs are taken. Luckily for us, the hotel called back moments later and informed us that there was one London cab just down at the lobby having dropped of a passenger. What luck! We rushed down for the cab and it was an unforgettable ride!

We headed to Palawan beach, for the rope bridge where your dad proposed to your mum. The weather wasn’t in our favour this time as it started pouring which caused us to make a dash across the bridge and headed to one of the 2 towers at the Southernmost Point of Continental Asia.

We soon found out that the rain was a blessing in disguise as it turned out that there was young couple on top of the tower, preparing their proposal! Well, the boyfriend got some friends to help him, and they tied some balloons around the wooden handrails, and the bride-to-be was supposed to pop the balloons to get the message. We chatted up with them and they loved Wayne so much that they get him to bring a balloon to the bride-to-be and pose with her as well.

We didn’t stay to find out the success of that proposal, as we have our own agenda to run, your mum and I, posed at the spot on the bridge, where I put the ring into her finger. It is still as memorable as if it was only yesterday.

We head back to the hotel and you boys had such a splash in the bath tub. We used up all the light sticks I bought and when the lights was turned off, the bath tub emits a funky glow of green, red, blue and yellow. It was such a splash! Well, that has to come to an end when I see your 弟弟 shivering from the cold water!

While you boys were in the bathtub, Shakir, the hotel’s duty manager came up with our Anniversary Cake! It was a delicious Tiramisu cake, made to perfection. It was fluffy, light and sweet. It was so good we polished off the 1 kg cake that night. The 哥哥 who is not a cake lover, predictably couldn’t stomach his share which is to our delight! Your mum and I totally relish the cake.

We went down to the ballroom on the second floor where your parents walked down the isle. There was another couple getting married, doing the very thing we did 10 years ago, so we didn’t wanna crash their party. We took some discreet photos, and it must have look odd, thinking of it now, since we were at the wedding reception area, the parents in bermudas and slippers and the kids in their PJs!

We ended the day with all four of us squeezing into the King size bed and woke up early for another day of fun before we pack up.

Too bad, M hotel is a ‘business hotel’, because the swimming pool is not kid friendly. the shallowest part is 0.9 m and the deepest 2m, too deep for 弟弟to have fun, so we end up hoarding the Jacuzzi, both of them alternating between them.

We ended our day checking out and it was a day of great fun and memories.

Posted December 17, 2013

My First Job

My First Job

Dear Boys,

Your dad has a checkered past, not in a sleazy way but he left school when he was 15 years old because he wanted to learn Japanese language to become a tour guide and travel the world. Look at what the world has become of him!

All this means that I must have my parent’s support to leave school, and have money to go and learn Japanese language and then become a tour guide. There wasn’t much thought put into this and my parents wasn’t the best in parenting, so the gave in and I left school to study Japanese.

Or so I thought.

Along the way, my ‘businessman’ dad, hinted to me: “What happens if he is no longer able to support me?”

That was a sign that I need to find my own work, make my own money, and without a trace of resentment or angst, I looked around and I’m not sure how it happened but someone I knew (or most likely my parents) recommended a job for me to work as a sales staff in Changi Airport.

1991- Changi Airport Terminal 2

With my colleague Josephine.

Working in the airport has a very special vibe to it, back then there was only 2 terminals, in fact, only one, since terminal 2 wasn’t officially opened yet, and the airport community was very small. I never forget the Airport Policeman’s name, Rudy, who said that I was probably the youngest person to ever work in the Departure hall, when I was at the Airport Police Station processing my Airport Security pass.

me tinkering with cameras

Sound Electric Centre

My employer was Sound Electric Centre (last I check ACRA, the company is still around! Incorporated 13 March 1975!), they have shops in Terminal 2 as well as Terminal 1, selling all sorts of audio, video, camera, electronic games, CD players, binoculars, you name it. They also used to have a shop in Far East Plaza down in Orchard Road, and in their hey days, they were quite reputable.

with Jun Jie, not sure what we were laughing about.

So I worked in Terminal 2 selling cameras and photographic equipment to customers, as a retail staff. This also started my life-long love for photography, albeit an expensive hobby to really keep up with. It wasn’t backbreaking work, but it taught me a lot about managing people, and how the working life is. There’s a lot of stories of our colleagues getting into physical scuffles over some childish antics (both got fired), theft of a large scale, love affair, legit and illicit and of course many life lessons along the way.

Selling camera also meant that there was a bit of technicalities involved, customers wants to know certain features and you will need to explain it to them, both as novice to even professionals. I learned how to handle Single Lens Reflex (SLRs) cameras, brands such as Nikon, Canon, defunct Rollei, Chinon, Minox, Yashica, expensive stuffs like Leica, Contax and other brands.

I also learned some sales tricks to boost our sales, such as selling camera cases when it actually came free with the camera, and selling additional batteries, or mark up film prices when we gave discounts on the camera.

Celebrities

Working in the restricted area of the Airport means that when the superstars came to town, we are the ones who have the first cut in seeing them, and welcoming them to Singapore, I remembered the whole place was so swoon over Alan Tam, Aaron Kwok when they came. I wasn’t a big fan of theirs but I heard they were swamped by Airport staff first before they were swamped by their fans in the general public area in the Arrival Hall.

Jon Bon Jovi

This guy, I remembered vividly serving him, I think it was an early weekend morning, and there wasn’t a crowd, and I read in the news they were in town for a 2 night exclusive concert, in and out just over the weekend. So I was just starting shop, and this Ang Moh with a wild shock of hair came in, and looked at some camera, I recognized him, but I served him as a customer, somehow not fazed or impressed by his presence.

He was very low-key, very human. The choice of camera was the bestest, most expensive one. He was one down to earth, pragmatic superstar. He was looking for a simple point-and-shoot, so I recommend him an Olympus Mju 2, one of the low range, dummy camera. He looked at it, liked it and bought it, whipping out his platinum Amex Charge card. Of course there was no question his card purchase would get approved. He didn’t want the box so I packed the camera up, thrown in a free roll of film and off he go.

He will always remain one of my fav celebrity whom I can say I’ve rubbed shoulders with and he has never made anyone felt a need to serve him in his superstar status. Just an awesome plain and simple human being.

The Queen came

I was there, too when Queen Elizabeth II came to Singapore, I think it was back in 1992/93. Back then, we knew that Changi Airport is one of the places in Singapore that is never closed. But they closed it for the Queen.

Security was really tight, but we still opened our shop as usual, I didn’t get a close glance at her, just a back view from about 25 m away. While they didn’t close the airport for the whole day, they did it enough for her to tour the place and soon it was back in business.

Changi Terminal 2 today

Due to Covid19, the Singapore Government took the opportunity to close Terminal 2 for a whole sale renovations. It was quite a nostalgic sight and feeling for me to walk the deserted grounds, the usually bright and welcoming Airport Hall, now dark cavernous and empty.

I’m sure by the time COVID 19 becomes a distant memory, Changi Airport Terminal 2 will be up and running even better than before.