The Big Day of your PSLE results

The Big Day of your PSLE results

Dear Ian,

You have finally move on and upwards, from Primary School to Secondary.

In our life here in Singapore, it is a big deal, the private education industry is a large one and it ‘preys’ mostly on the parents’ insecurities and aspirations for their children to get good grades. Of course, hopefully that leads to a better future, riches and wealth. It is all done in the best intention, albeit the intense stress and pressure.

DSC_0004

You did well for your PSLE. “Well” as a matter of context, as you are not one of the 25 students who scored above the magic ‘250’. In fact you’re not even close, but you set a target and you achieved that. Which is more important than being one of the smartest lots in your school.

In fact, you did even better than your dad, who failed his maths, score “A” for English and Science, and a “C” I think, for my Chinese. You have a better score, I went to a normal stream and you are going to the express.

 

What’s the big deal?

Personally I am not a big believer in the PSLE score, My bottom line is either you pass or fail, you pass, how well? Well enough for express stream, okay, fine. Good for the normal stream? That’s fine as well. Life goes on, the sun will still rise and set.

But of course, that’s just your dad ranting, it is a big deal. Children went home crying, because they were 5 points shy from their target. There were some who thought they could get like 240, but end up with an odd-210. There are those who did well in prelims, only to falter in the actual exams. Well, there are some outlier even, they failed, and have to retake.

DSC_0005

All the credit goes to your mother

Really, she did all the work, your dad really didn’t cared much about your academic grades. She was thrilled that you made your mark, and achieved what you said you set out to achieve.

She helped you, drives you, work with you, bear all the pain and angst of your studies. When you did badly, she was affected the most, and when you did well, she’s the happiest. She worked the hardest and rightfully deserves to shed those tears of joy today.

After PSLE

So right now, after this first big hurdle in your life, your life will have to go on. You can reward, and cheer and after all the jubilation, you will have to hunker down and work hard, once again, as Secondary School education is another new environment that puts you to the challenge.

You friends in Horizon Primary, will become your old friends. You will make new friends in your new environment, and your might be pleasantly surprised that some of your Horizon friends might end up in the same Secondary School as you, and that friendship will continue; or it might not.

Some of your old ‘nemesis’ in Horizon, will no longer be relevant, once everyone moves to their respective secondary School. Those quarrels and grudges in your primary school, will cease in relevance. Suddenly with so much to look forward to in your new environment, you’ll lose track of what happened in the Primary school. You’ll have so much new things to do, learn and friends to make, there is no time to relish on nostalgic past. Stay present and look into the future.

Your future

Your future will be a heck a lot different from mine, and it will be a very asymmetrically challenging future, no one will be sure about anything in. So now that your Primary School education has come to an end, charge ahead and learn new things in your Secondary School.

Your dad is excited about your prospective new environment, and it heartens me to see you gain independence in character and confidence in personality.

Advertisements

Martial Arts for Kids

Martial arts is not for kiddos, I am not a big believer in teaching kids martial arts.

Being in Aikido for such a long time, I do get friends with kids asking me if this and his art is suitable for his/her children. If Aikido is recommended. To which I only ask one question.

“Does your daughter/son wants it?”

More often than not, the parents don’t know if their kids wants to do martial arts or not. They as parents observed that their kids are kind of active, so it might be a good outlet for them to learn a punch, roll, or two, and learning martial arts is good for ‘self defence’. Learning martial arts is always a ‘good thing’.

So unless your children specifically wants to take martial arts, and shows, at a very young age, some talent and affinity for martial arts, don’t waste time and money on a martial arts school, just because your children is active. Well most kids are active, and there are other activities for active kids to participate in instead of marital arts. The motivation must come from the child to learn a martial arts, and not driven (pun intended) by the parents to go to a martial arts school.

Outcome driven approach

Martial arts is a learning journey, and there is very little reward getting into one. It is not like you will get a certificate at the end of it and ‘graduate’. Martial arts is a serious journey that needs a lot of commitment and time. If you are not sure your children is able to walk this journey that will last their life time, don’t commit wasted time. Martial arts for kids is not a very rewarding journey, there is no definite outcome. Even as an adult, it is difficult for me sometimes to understand this journey I am in, since there is little outcome to say that you have ‘learned’ something in martial arts, which is sufficient to satisfy an outcome driven style of parenting. In short, you give a lot to martial arts, and often you don’t get a lot back.

The Karate Kid hype

More often than not, martial arts is about doing the same thing over and over again, and it will be boring for kids, some kids are not up to it, as it is not novelty. Martial arts is not a cool thing to do, and parents should not be watching too much Karate Kid thinking that their kids can be one. Those who romanticizes The Karate Kid movie, they need to watch the first part where the protagonist got beaten up. Get your kids beaten up first, then you’ll see if there is any ounce of martial artist in the child.

And, no, learning martial arts does not prevent your child from being bullied. Sorry to break that piece of news. There are so many kids who learned martial arts, and still gets bullied. Learning martial arts does not automatically instills that kind of confidence in children, it is a sales pitch. Confidence comes from overcoming a difficult situation, despite of being afraid. You do not need to go to a martial arts school to learn grit, confidence.

Kids do not understand martial arts

Are children able to learn the philosophy behind martial arts? Will they understand Aiki(合気)? Can they understand what is Bunkai (分解)? What is the spirit of Kumite(組手)? What is Budo(武道)?

They also do not understand that in martial arts, you are expected to get hurt, being hurt and getting injured is part of the hard gritty journey of being a martial artist. If parents send their kids to martial arts school, not expecting them to get hurt, well, then they better find a more staid activity.

Teaching

In Singapore, the martial arts culture is well, not so ‘martial’. We do not have a strong martial arts identity, and many of us, takes it like it is a part-time, interest group level commitment. That said, not many teachers out there, teaches martial arts for the spirit of the martial arts. While this comments might seem scathing, we need to search deep in our psyche, if we are really attempt to embody martial arts as a way of life, a way of living.

While I have 2 kids, I don’t teach them ‘martial arts’ I teach them fighting, and they need to learn the basic punches, kicks, and take downs, of course the tactical reality of being beaten up, and the ability to beat back. If there is any ‘Budo’ (武道) it will be in the spirit I want them to embody, if they ever gets into a fight, never back down, and be the last person standing, we will talk more about that later.

Martial arts for kids= child-care centre

The true reality is, martial arts for kids in Singapore, is more like another avenue for parents to throw money into kids’ ‘enrichment’ courses, and of course help them get away from their children. It is a perfect excuse/ reasons for parents to bring their children to a martial arts class, for an hour or two, while the parents themselves trot off to have some ‘me’ time. At the end of the day, the children do not learn much martial arts, because they are simply just wearing a gi, prancing and jumping around, with no clue as to why they are doing what they are doing.

Too serious about it

Well, pardon me if this seem too serious; as martial arts is a serious matter to me. I don’t harbour hopes that my children will be able to pick up martial arts like I did, just simply sending them to an Aikido school, or me teaching them Aikido. If they are keen, I will always be there for them to show them the way, if they are not, it is like bringing the proverbial horse to the water, and you know the rest.

 

Life changing events-end of PSLE

Collage_Fotor.jpg

Dear Wayne

Your big brother’s Primary School Leaving Examination(PSLE) is over, that means that he will be going over to a new environment, a secondary school.

You will no longer have a big brother in your school.

While we can reminiscence over the ‘good ‘ol days’ a few years from now, the immediate impact is you both will be lonelier in school. But that is life, we all have our own paths to walk.

As your dad, walking you both to school, I will miss the banter as well, some of the nonsense stuffs you both had, while walking to school. Now it will be just me and you. Your brother will have to go to school on his own, he will learn to become a big boy soon.

I will certain miss the crisp morning walking that 8 minutes, holding your hands, and sometimes you both will quarrel a quick quarrel, and I have to explain why and mediate. Bonds are made during times like these and while your big brother no longer walks with you to school, the bond building cannot stop.

As for school, I think you will feel it that somehow, there is no more ‘kor kor’ in school, where you can go to if you need help. Your big brother sometimes finds you during recess so that he can munch a meal with you. you both have each other when your friends decides to be otherwise.

While it had been only 2 years for the both of you to bond as school mates- I hope it has been memorable. School is a whole new ecosystem with its own fun and peril, your big brother paves the way going into your primary school first, then you, he helped you fend off the bigger boys trying to push their weight around you. He has been there for you when you needed help, or company. Now you have to be on your own.

While I have often preached that you can’t count on friends much, in the new school term, you have to learn to socialise more.  Take the new year positively and challenge yourself to be independent, while there is no more kor kor in school, you still have friend’s whom have been with you for the past 2 years, it is time to deepen your relationship with them so that you can have an opportunity to build new bonds.

I hope you don’t feel lonely, and look at 2018 with new stride and a spring in your step. While your big brother moves into a new environment, he has left you in an environment where you can grow and make new friends confidently.

Family Finance Manager

money

Dear Boys,

Call me gullible, but I learned from my friend Steven to let The Wife handle the finance. Back then I was just dating your mum, and very early during the relationship, I handed my bank account pass book to my then girlfriend, one evening at her parents’ place. She was surprised, I think pleasantly, it probably demonstrated to her that I am serious about the two of us getting together for the long haul.

Wife =  Finance Manager

_20170127_124831

Steve let his wife, Kat handles all the money stuff. He said as long as there is $$$ in his wallet, he is okay. All his earnings, he hand to his wife, who does the numbers. From a very early age, I have never question that logic and took it wholeheartedly.

Perhaps it is because I don’t really have a template for family finances. I never understood how my parents does their finances, as my dad was a businessman and my mum, The Housewife. I suspect that my dad does everything, and to be honest, he is not the best person to handle money.

So when I see that Steve’s approach seem to keep him wealthy, in this case monetary sense, so it simply occur to me that perhaps letting the wife does the money is a really good idea.

Money = Trust

The logic for me back then, dating your mum, was also simple. I wasn’t earning that much, and she can see that she is really dating a poor bloke. There are 2 rationale;

  1. She will either see my pathetic bank account and leave for a richer boy.
  2. She will take all my money and leave for a richer boy

She didn’t, in fact trusting her with my finances serves as one of the bedrock for our relationship.

Your money = my money 

Back in those days where we were DINKies (Dual Income No Kids), there were never issues over who has who’s money, she gets her paycheck, I get mine, we all put it into a joint account and see all of our monies there.

We do not keep separate accounts as everything is put into one. I think it is a matter of the proverbial wife-husband joke “Your money is my money, my money is my money.”

But she has never put a limit on my spending, she has at times where finances were a little tight, told me to stinge, but this husband has never found himself short of cash.

Before I met your mum

My finances was basically hand to mouth, period. I have bills to pay, as well as school fees. So whatever I get, it will be used up pretty quickly. So it was certainly a good thing for me to hand my money over to your mum, as she has a better sense of things and that help me and of course the family, a lot.

The Guardian

Handling money is not something I would like to do, I can do I, but it is better to let the better person handle it; your mum.

Right now, as we are on a single income policy, I just focus on working to bring in the money, she focus on keeping and using the money I bring in.

There were some time in our past, where during my career transition, money was a bit short, and there was a deficit. I wasn’t earning enough to make ends meet. And over time, it eats into our savings and she kept all these from me. Part of our savings was a substantial severance package from her previous work, and most of that money, (her money to be specific) she put into the family. She kept all that from me, so that I don’t get stressed up and worried over the finances. I only learned about that recently, and I am forever indebted to her for keeping the family first. Using her money for the family.

Different Strokes for Different Folks

I’m not too sure how you boys will handle your family finances when you start your own family. There are many models out there. There is really no science to it. The most important thing to remember is that in a marriage, it is the ‘marriage first’, not longer Husband and/or Wife, and certainly not a case of my money/ your money.

Even if you have a spouse who earns more than you, don’t let your ego get in the way, in a marriage, it is a team thing, and always let the best person handle the task, if it happens to be you handling the finance the first order of the day is to make sure the family has some savings, make an ‘Us account’, be fully transparent. Try not to hide secret funds, from each other, unless you are saving some money to buy her a nice surprise.

 

 

Aikido can save your life

Dear Boys,

Your dad’s Aikido skills wasn’t meant for fighting, like what Harry sensei said recently, how often are we expected to get into a fight and actually use our skills?

And by the way, martial arts, is not fighting and fighting is certainly not martial arts.

So what is it good for?

Life saver scene one.

This happen when I was still quite new into Aikido, because I can remember it happened during my younger years riding mountain bikes. Back then I was still staying at Woodlands, and too poor to buy a helmet, and yet I want to go mountain biking.

picture taken off google, this is the exact Marin I had, same colour even!

I’m not sure what was the occasion, but it I was riding my Marin Bobcat Trail, and I was daring myself to ride as close to the pillars around the Woodlands MRT area. So as I pass each pillar, I try to go closer and closer, and true enough, I struck the second last pillar.

My right handle bar went too close to the pillar, and knock into it, knocking me off my bike.

Obviously I fell and thanks to my Aikido, I did a backward roll and got up immediately. There wasn’t any thought process made, it was instinctive and the body just took over. I rolled and got up, unscathed. I picked up the bike hopped on it and continue riding.

Life saver scene two.

Yamaha-RZ_125LC-1986.jpg
I rode a bike like this in my younger days the plate as Y7339X!

This was a little more serious, than the first, as I was on my motorcycle. I remembered riding down down Stamford Road one evening and the right lane, for whatever reason, was clear, I wasn’t travelling fast, as it was city riding, there is no way to go fast.

So one car, seeing that the right lane is free, decided to turn, perhaps he checked his blind spot or he didn’t, he hit me, from the left.

Things happened so fast, all I did when I saw was to beep my feeble horn, and it was already too late. Since the impact came from the left, I was thrown to the right. I did a roll, not one of those forward Aikido rolls, it was a sausage roll, and I got up.

The driver, a Japanese man got out, he was stunned, shocked beyond words. His face was drained white, hands shaking, speechless. Instead of him asking me, I asked him: “Are you alright?” Twice.

The lady in the car, was more composed. Seeing that there is nothing with me, except for my broken clutch handle, there was really no need for any police to be involve, I was unscathed (so I thought) I took a S$50 (can’t remembered if I asked for it or he gave to me) so that I can repair the little damage he did to my bike.

We parted ways, he drove off. I had a hard time operating my bike as the clutch handle was broken, but I could still manage.

Applied aikido

So every time I go to class, I am qualified to say that the best technique in Aikido to learn is rolling. Learn to roll properly, and protect the most important jewel of the human anatomy, the head, not that head but the one that sits between your shoulders!

Regardless of Race, Language or Religion

Dear boys,

We are going to have an unprecedented Presidential Election this year, and without going into too much details on the politics, we will have only Malay candidates for presidency.

Why it matters to us as Singaporeans

It never mattered to me in the past who becomes President, since the level is so far detached from where I stand. Now that I am older, and I’ve seen how the President discharges the duty to represent Singapore, I realised that who we pick, is important.

This is more significant, as in the last President Election, we have 4 Tans and all but one, comes with their own level of stupidity. It is ridiculous to have anyone else but Mr Tony Tan as our president.

The ‘reserved’ election

So when this time around, the government has decided that the election will only be open to the Malays; as it has been a long time since we have a Malay as the President of Singapore. The last Malay president was also Singapore’s first President, Yusof Ishak. More than 50 years ago!

Without going into too much details, I wasn’t comfortable with this concept, I mean, if our Head of State has to be democratically elected, why must it be only reserved for one specific race?

It is not about being racist here, the topic might become to sensitive when we don’t think through carefully. I was toying with ‘meritocracy’, and this usually means “may the best person get the seat, irrespective of race, language or religion.” This is in line with our pledge, and I thought what the government did, contravene the Singapore Pledge we say and hold so dear.

I was wrong

I voice this out with my friends and they argued the realities of the ‘reserved President Election’. It is a necessary evil, and despite of being ‘undemocratic’ in appearance, it is most equitable in practice.

We need to understand, boys, that Singapore, while being touted as a multi-racial society, living in peace and harmony, is not always like this and will not continue to be like this, if we are not careful in making our executive decision, today.

Yes, we are multi-racial, BUT, the population is predominantly Chinese. It will always be the case in any society; there will be a major group, and other minor sub group(s). While we want to practice democracy, and meritocracy; statistics is against those who are in the minor group. It is the same, when we compare our talent pool to that of China, we have a population of 6 million, at best, they have 1.3 BILLION, who will have more genius? No prize for guessing the right answer!

So statistically, we have to acknowledge that it might probably be a long time coming before we have a  Malay, or Indian Presidential candidate who will come forward and put in his/her best foot to become a President of Singapore. It is a big hat to wear and it must not only be given to those who have a statistical advantage.

That said, being race specific for this presidential election is important. The role of our President, must be above all, one that unites the country. That goes beyond meritocracy as a mere lip service. Every race has to have a chance to become a President, and since the past few Presidents has been non-Malays, this time around, we need to make sure someone from our Malay community, gets a chance. This is being fair, in our Singapore context.

Regardless of Race, Language or Religion

Like many, I hijacked this phrase from our Singapore pledge, and argued that this reserved election is not ‘right”. Actually it is, in its true spirit, acted in the best interest of the Singapore, regardless of race, language and religion.

How shall I argue this?

It is a profound and deep thought process. We have this Malay-only Election precisely for the fact that we are deeply embedded in this ethos. We cannot let the Presidency becomes dictated by only one race. We need to look at the presidency as a position to give all race a fair chance of representation and voice. If we look at the now, of course, this election appears to run against the grain of our pledge. If we look at the future, in a longitudinal sense, we are walking the talk, of being a multi-racial society, and my boys, nation building is not just about talking, it is about a very, very long walk.

So as a member of the dominant race here in Singapore, it is easy for me to promote meritocracy, without taking into consideration the hopes and aspirations of our Malay, Indian and Eurasian countrymen, they have been waiting in line patiently for their turn to be represented, and when the system works against them, due to a statistical disadvantage,  we need to tweak the system, so that we can be fair to everyone, that is the true spirit of our Singapore Pledge.

Shared Presidency

So let’s not look at it like it is only reserved for the Malays, granted that for what ever freak results, that we end up not having a Chinese president, for the next 50 years, the presidential election will then be reserved, for the Chinese. Well, I don’t think I’d be around to see that happens, so remember this writing, long after I am gone. Everything in Singapore is not an entitlement, especially those of State property and position, while there is meritocracy in the way the government works, the policy has to consider a criteria of ‘internal equity’, for Singapore to prosper. Therefore, think of our presidency as a ‘Shared Presidency’, no one race will dominate that position forever, every race will get a share in taking that seat, and become the President of Singapore, a figure all Singaporeans look up to and endear.

Links:

http://www.channelnewsasia.com/news/singapore/pe-2017-three-potential-candidates-what-happens-next-9102626

http://www.straitstimes.com/politics/giving-back-to-society-seasoned-business-owner-no-stranger-to-failure

http://www.todayonline.com/singapore/nomination-day-presidential-election-sept-13-polls-be-held-10-days-later

Hanging out with Friends

Hanging out with Friends

DSC_0343

Dear Boys,

I have a chance of taking a break recently and used that time to meet up with my friends. In Singapore we are usually so busy with work, we seldom have time to do a decent catch up, the best we can do was a quick meet up over lunch and everyone has to run back to work.

So when there is an opportunity as such, I grabbed the chance and called these friends up for a chit chat.

Some have really tight schedule so I didn’t managed to meet everyone on my list, but some things cannot be forced, I’m still a good believer in fate, and until a better time, I will have to put a rain check on a couple of them.

My friends, are a mixed bunch, but that is what makes life interesting, we need to good dose of diversity in the people we meet, and learn from. Some are from my Aikido practice, some from my banking, and others from my recruitment work, and there are some, I can’t really ‘compartmentalize’ properly.

DSC_0386

Anyway, having a good mix helps me break away from my mindset. The dangerous thing about a mindset, is that you don’t know what you don’t know; catching up with these friends gives me a different perspective, and challenge my current thinking. Many of them have since moved on and joined other industry and gained some other life experience. In such exchange, we learn a little about each other, catch up with our lives, and also renew a friendship, making it stronger.

Eating at different places

DSC_0358

These friends brought me to different place to dine, and I ate some stuff I don’t usually eat. I learned that there is a yummy vegan joint called nomVnom at Central, Clark Quay, all thanks to Edna. She is a cheery, spirited young lady who is making a name for herself in a very challenging industry. While she is the youngest friend I met, I thoroughly enjoyed the meeting and we talked a lot about other things, other than Aikido.

IMG-20170713-WA0001

Some of my friends brought me to very nice Japanese food, Yew Wah brought me to eat at Hifumi, selling very affordable Japanese food. I ate ramen at Santouka with Cherie and Karen. These are places I usually won’t go to, if I am out alone, or with you boys. It’s just not our usual go-to places.

DSC_0360

Catching up is good

Nowadays, people think of a catch up as a status over Social Media, It is not just about sending each other a text message or two, which we are all so inclined to do. We can all just pick up our friends’ number from the phone list and call. These people are friends, and they will also cherish a catch up. There are many trials and tribunals in life and they are best tackled when they are shared.

DSC_0465

Please call them

Don’t sit around waiting for friends to call you. Don’t wait to link up with people. Life is scarce and time even more scarce. In our fragile life, we need to call people and tell them we are around and we care for them. Don’t hold back, show people you love them for who they are and let them know they have a friend here.

In the past, I have this persona of waiting for people to call me. It is simply an ego-play, and no one win from such a “high-crass act”. Always reach out to people first, and if you do matter to them, they will make time for you. Then such people are best to catch up with again and again. They will enrich your life, and you, in turn, enrich theirs. In this exchange, everyone becomes a better person, and we become more connected than just a Facebook friend.

DSC_0378