Wednesday, January 23, 2008

A Moment of Hope

The year 2008 has not been a terribly good year for the financial markets. Nearly everyday you turn on the TV and you hear about how stock markets around the world are collapsing and economies are going down the tube.

But there was a piece of good news today in the Middle Eastern Newspapers. Palestinans who had been impressioned in the Gazza strip finally broke through the fenses and flooded into Egypt where they managed to buy supplies and got the essentials that they needed to survive.

The people of the Gazza strip made one fatal error. They actually believed that the world was seriously interested in having "Democracy," and promptly behaved as voters in other parts of the world do - they voted for a group that had a record of honest governance and got rid of a lot that had a track record of corruption and thievery. Unfortunately, the Western World didn't like the honest people because they had big hairy beards, prayed regularly and reffused to aknowledge the existence of a group of people who believed in "Civilised Torture."

And there you have it. Palestine was placed under siege because it's peolpe voted in a group of people with a record for being honest but had beards and didn't believe that the Palestinians were supposed to lie in the shit hole and allow the other people with beards to kick the crap out of them for sport.

The rest of the world actually realised there was something wrong with this. But the Americans felt that the only way to treat the beardy people the Palestians liked was to kick the shit out of the Palesinians by imposing a siege on them. As far as the Americans were concerned, the world was a nasty place that didn't understand that the beardy people with skull caps had suffered so much in their history, it was essential for them to kick the shit out of the Palestinans just for the fun of it. Even when the Saudi's thought they could get a compromise, the Americans felt they were being mean to the people with beards and skull caps and promptly made sure the Saudi efforts collapsed.

And there you have it. The Beardy people the Palestinians liked took control of the Gaza strip and the Americans were appauld. The Palestians were supposed to lie down and let the other beardy people kick the shit out of them and enjoy it - the fact that they had the gall to fight back was a sign of - well the Palestinians not knowing their place and so they had to let the other beardy people kick the crap out of them some more.

But today, for a few moments of sanity.......the people of Gaza broke free and people around them allowed them to do it. There's hope in life after all.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Transformations

Met one of my oldest friends for lunch yesterday. Karen and I have known each other for 29-years, which is pretty darn scarry because...well, its a sign that both of us are getting on in life.

Anyway, she's made a dramatic career switch. She's given up working as a lawyer and has gone into the area of early childhood development. She's working and taking a diploma part time and by the end of two-years, she will be ready to set up her own school. She admits that it was big drop in her income. As a lawyer she was earning in access of four grand a month - she know earns under a grand. However, what she's lost in income, she's gained in quality of life. She has time to spend with Tilly, her adoreable 13-year old and unlike the time when she was working in the legal sector, she has time to smile.

I'm really happy for her and I think its wonderful that she's taken the curageous step to make a career switch when she was from a fairly high paying income. I don't know.....I guess most of us get so caught up trying to make a living, we slave for the almighty dollar and in the end we neglect the things that matter to us.

For me, I do like what I'm doing. I comfort myself with the fact that the late night rush jobs I've been working on have lead to the fact that next month, assuming people pay accordingly will be very, very good - probably the best I've had without Saudi Royal visits or GE payments to keep me in the style I'm accustomed to.

But am I, and others like me, missing out on the important things in life? I mean, I've always wanted to run away to a deserted island, pick up a girl or two and write books about utterly nothing on value other than self-interest. But at the back of my mind.....I'm limited by the fact that I've got to try and make enough bucks to keep body and soul together.

Long live those with the courage to live their dreams.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Tinny Tinny Notes

It's officially the second week on the New Year and I somehow seem to have spent the better part of the week running about to a few places here and there and yet, I don't feel like I've achieved very much.

Week started with getting Dr Benjamin Mow, an oncologist from West Medical Group onto the radio to chat about cancer. Interesting to deal with another medical topic other than the eyes and the good doctor was....a good doctor. I think it was PN Balji who tought me to tell clients that they should think of three key messages and reffer all their answers to these messages. It's simple but exceedingly effective. Clients who have followed this advice have come out of interviews looking good. At the end of the day, I think people need to go into interviews and be exactly who they are and not try and become artificial personas.

Spoke with Han Li. She plans to come back to Singapore after Chinese New Year. Should be fun to have her back in town. Actually, it also gives me a bit of time to plan a trip to Vietnam. I spoke to Thui last night and as always, it was exceedingly happy moment. She's growing up fast and I promissed that I would make it a point to go up and see her in her natural environment. She actually said - "I Miss You." Mummy was in the background giving her a bit of coaching but its nice to hear the small tyke tell you that she misses you.

Anyway, I think this could be a year to get a bit of travel around the region. It's funny, I've traveled quite a bit to places around Europe and in the USA. I remember Lee taking Tara and I on a train ride accross America. I remember Mum and Thomas renting a car and driving us accross from Germany all the way to Italy. But I barely know Asia outside the Singaporean version of Asia. I've never actually been outside the British Colonial sphere on influence. Admitedly the Empire covered a quarter of the world (The Sun Never Sets on the British Empire the Brits used to boast - That's because God does not trust the Brits in the dark, retorted the colonised), and staying within the old British sphere covers pretty much most of the world. But the world extends beyond the English speaking version of it.

Thailand was interesting. Thailand is the only society in South East Asia never to colonised by the Western powers. Unlike Singapore, Malaysia and Indonesia, which were created by the colonials, the Thais had an existing civilisation. Unlike India's princely states, the Thais were a united nation. More importantly, unlike China, the Thai's opened up to trade with the Western world. As a result, you got a society that stayed pretty true to ancient roots and yet managed to modernise at a pace that suits their culture. Thailand has had its ups and downs. It's had corrupt politicians. Violence in the South. Thuggish military men. And yet, when you take all of that into consideration - Thai society has held together remarkably well, in large part thanks to the King, by far and away the best leader in South East Asia, if not the world.

Vietnam should be another interesting experience. In part, Han Li and Thui are the reason for going. But I think there's more than just my personal affairs to the place. The Vietnamese are people who fought some of South East Asia's most brutal wars. Sure, Communism screwed up the Vietnamese economy by quite a few decades. But these people who went through some brutal years are busy getting on with life. You read of Americans and the angst they have over the Vietnam War. The Vietnamese by contrast don't seem to be prisoners of their past. Americans like other investors are welcome to build a good future with them.