I made this image with the haiku I wrote, which I am using for my blog, Facebook page and other social media platforms, this week of mourning for Lee Kuan Yew.
Use it if you like.
Here are some Lee Kuan Yew stories I read which I thought were very moving and interesting:
1. Henry A. Kissinger: The world will miss Lee Kuan Yew: http://mrbrwn.co/1FSUsg7
2. NYT: Lee Kuan Yew, Founding Father and First Premier of Singapore, Dies at 91: http://nyti.ms/1HlpyeF
3. Lee Kuan Yew’s Red Box, as shared by Education Minister Heng Swee Keat: http://mrbrwn.co/1Ov8jNo
4. Singapore's Lee Kuan Yew: The Leader Who Lasted by James Fallows of The Atlantic: http://mrbrwn.co/1DSxGWi
"In the late 1950s, the CIA were worried about what they saw as the PAP's close ties with pro-communist elements. They even approached the British Special Branch about it but the SB told the CIA not to worry (the British knew Lee better than the Americans). The CIA, naturally, decided to take matters into their own hands, and mounted their own covert op to infiltrate Singapore's intelligence apparatus. This was discovered in 1960.
The local CIA station chief then apparently tried to bribe Lee to hush up the matter, offering him US$3.3 million. Lee refused and counter-proposed US$33 million in aid to Singapore. Eventually, Dean Rusk, Kennedy's Secretary of State, who had inherited the mess, wrote Lee a formal letter of apology in 1961 for the affair.
But when Lee recounted the story a few years later, the CIA issued one of its automatic denials. Lee was enraged - not only had the CIA tried to bribe him like some tin-pot third world dictator, now they were calling him a liar. He produced the letter and threatened to broadcast tape recordings of the incident.
The CIA hastily retracted its denial.
Lee said, "The Americans should know the character of the men they are dealing with in Singapore and not get themselves further dragged into calumny. They are not dealing with Ngo Dinh Diem or Syngman Rhee. You do not buy and sell this Government."
I went to the pavement by Parliament House to write a card for him at the tribute station on Monday. Took a few photos. I will share more of them in a later post but this one caught my eye.
Now fourteen, my Faith
No more a child, young lady
Always my baby
-Lee Kin Mun
I tried to find out what fourteen-year-olds girls wanted. I read that fourteen-year-olds want to be liked and want to be a part of a group.
Then I looked at my autistic firstborn and thought, scratch that. Let's work on teaching her how to blow out her candles first.
After I wrote the haiku for her birthday, I remembered that I needed to buy more adult diapers for her, because we were running low.
Yesterday, Faith sat in the living room, playing with her Winnie the Pooh toy. She hit the keys of her favorite toy phone, creating almost a rap by making Winnie the Pooh speak each number, "6-7-6-7-6, 6-5-4-3-2-1…"
Once in a while, she would pause, and let Winnie the Pooh say the number and play the accompanying nursery rhyme tune associated with the number.
She hit the zero, and Here We Go Round The Mulberry Bush came on. And then I heard her hum the tune.
I got excited and amused. And when the tune came on again, I sang along:
"Here we go round the mulberry bush
The mulberry bush, the mulberry bush
Here we go round the mulberry bush
So early in the morning!"
She looked up at me, her eyes curious. She pressed the zero again. The song came out. I smiled at her. Then she pressed the zero once more, and looked at me intently again. But this time she said, "Wuh wuh wuh."
"What do you want, girl? You want Papa to sing?"
She made eye contact again and said, "Wuh wuh wuh." She pressed the zero for me.
"Here we go round the mulberry bush…" I began.
She did it a few more times. And even tried it with another song. Pressing the nine button produced Polly Put The Kettle On.
"Wuh wuh wuh," she requested.
So I sang Polly Put The Kettle On, happy to be her Papa Karaoke Machine.
This marked the first time in fourteen years that Faith has ever asked me to do something by asking verbally. Not dragging my finger to something. Not pulling me to the object. Not handing me a bottle of ketchup or a box of chocolates. Just eye contact and a verbalized request.
I would have sung all night for her.
Ok kids. Pop quiz. There is a parang slashing happening in your school. Do you:
A) Run the hell away
B) Run the hell away and call the cops
C) Stay and watch
D) Stay and watch and video it
E) Relak one corner and provide a running commentary
This is the video of the ITE College West slashing incident.
It was our 18th wedding anniversary. Or as we like to call it in our family, Sunday.
We had a most romantic day celebrating our 18 years of marital bliss.
Breakfast was a romantic affair of me grabbing a quick beehoon alone downstairs at the coffee shop while Joy was tasked with buying prata for my wife, as the wife got Faith and the rest of the kids ready for Sunday service.
Then lunch was another romantic meal at the Block 105 Market & Food Centre, the highlight of which was I managed to get my wife her favourite nasi lemak without too much queuing, while she fed Faith with chicken rice that Isaac queued up for (children after 10 years of age are excellent for food buying duties).
Then the wife had the romantic duty of doing the laundry plus keeping an eye on Faith, while I took Isaac with me to the office because I had work to complete. Joy had maths tuition so we had one less kid in the house, for an hour or so, which was a very welcome and romantic feeling.
At the office, I spent my Sunday working while Isaac did the English assessment book that the wife assigned him to do. Then he read a little from his book "The One and Only Ivan", that his younger sister had already completed reading some days ago. He also got to play with some of the toys in my office. This father and son briefly discussed the merits of the Suzuki Swift Bumblebee from the Takara Tomy Transformers: Alternity series of toys.
After two hours at the office with my son, I locked up the office and took him to Funan Mall, where I needed to buy some DDR3 1066 RAM for the used 2009 27-inch iMac I bought for the wife to replace her aging 2006 20-inch iMac.
That 2006 iMac was still working, but I thought she deserved something that could handle HD YouTube videos, that had a bigger screen, and a speaker that didn't go pffffft when there was just a whiff of bass.
Memory is really expensive these days, $75 for one piece of 4GB. I bought a pair (wincing at the $150 bill) so I could bump the memory in the "new" iMac from 4GB to 12GB. The wife would never know the difference but I would.
I picked up the RAM and the basic wired keyboard the wife asked for and as a treat, I let Isaac browse the toy stores at the fifth level of Funan Mall. "See only," I said to my son, "Not buy ah."
He complained a little about it but was content to look at the toys on display.
Then my Mom called and said she needed a ride home from her mahjong session, and I called my wife to let her know I would be picking Mom home then we could all have dinner together when I drove back. My wife romantically managed an "OK", the kind of distracted "OK" that came from having to deal with laundry, still-wet school shoes, and a bottle of ketchup broken by Faith. My autistic firstborn likes ketchup too much, and knows where we keep it in the kitchen.
We then took the kids and my Mom out for a romantic dinner at the kopitiam. We usually have dinner at my wife's parents' place on a Sunday but my in-laws were at some RC dinner so no 夜市人生 to watch and tweet about this time.
Halfway through the romantic family dinner, Faith spilled grape soda on herself, and we had to clean her up. The wife gave a loud "Tsk!"
And then Isaac complained a little about the lack of fries in his Fish and Chips (but ate all of it anyway). As usual, Joy could not finish her meal (it was spaghetti with Irish meatballs), and got a mild chiding from my mom about it.
"Look at you," Mom said, "So skinny and short! You are still wearing your school uniform from Primary One! In Primary Four! How are you going to grow taller without eating enough?"
"Hey, I am not a midget, ok?" Joy replied.
"Hahahahaha!" my Mom laughed heartily.
Mom went for her Sunday Qigong session and we went home after dinner. The wife started preparing the kids' school uniforms because the next day was Monday. Then I watched an older episode of local animated series, Heartland Hubby, with the kids because they are my biggest fans (I voice one of the characters, the arch enemy of the hero).
We tucked the kids into bed, then the wife said she can't seem to find her ezlink card, so I offered to change out of my pajamas, and go downstairs to look for it in the car.
While at the car, I decided to make a late night grocery run to Sheng Siong. I picked up the cereal that Joy likes, plus some toilet rolls, and a 2-litre bottle of Meiji fresh milk (because the one currently in the fridge was already past the due date. How did I know? My stomach told me a few days ago).
I know, very romantic things to buy, right? I also picked up a little something extra for the wife.
When I got home, the wife was already done with the remaining housework and was watching Luke kiss Lorelai at the gazebo in Gilmore Girls.
"I couldn't find your ezlink card in the car, dear. But I did buy some groceries. And your favourite ice-cream."
"Oooh, Magnum!" she said, and got one for herself and one for me, and we continued watch Gilmore Girls together.
Then, just as we finished our TV show and ice-creams, Faith came out of her bedroom.
"She wet herself and her bed, aiyoh," the wife said, with a tired sigh.
"You clean her up and change her pajamas, I will clean her bed and change the bedsheets, and soak the stained sheets in the kitchen toilet," I said.
It was almost midnight, a few minutes before the end of our wedding anniversary.
"That wasn't the most romantic wedding anniversary day hor?" she laughed.
"Who said?" I reply, and gave her a quick peck.
We lay in bed, staring at the ceiling lit by our bedside lamp, the room aglow with faint yellow light.
The wife turned to me and said, "There is a young lizard on the ceiling."
"It won't kachao you lah."
"But what if trips and falls on me? Like wahoohoohoooooo!"
"Don't be silly. Hanging upside down is what lizards do all day."
Then we both laughed.
Married for eighteen years, together for twenty six. This is what it comes down to. Juggling three kids, changing the adult diaper of our fourteen-year-old, and talking about a lizard on the ceiling at night.
Wouldn't trade it for anything in the world.
Chappie was lovely. I have now forgiven Blomkamp for Elysium after this. I've never felt this much for a robot.
It was closer to District 9's spirit and the movie impressed with its heart. The action and CG was great when it happened but you don't watch this for robots blowing stuff up alone.
Hugh Jackman was a tad two-dimensional as the villain in this piece, and Dev Patel was a little limp as Deon, Chappie's "Maker". But Sharlto Copley captured Chappie's movements so convincingly ,and Ninja and Yo-Landi Visser stole the show.
Brilliant and fun stuff.
[Photo by Dominic Leong]
Two MRT breakdowns in one day, one at morning peak hour and another at evening peak hour. That has to be a record. So, inspired by a tweet by @sarahcoldheart, I started the hashtag #SMRTmovies. It trended within two hours.
1. @mrbrown: The Fault in Our Tracks #SMRTmovies (props to @sarahcoldheart)
2. @mrbrown: Rush Hour #SMRTmovies
3. @mrbrown: Tai Chi Hero #SMRTmovies
4. @mrbrown: Stoppable #SMRTmovies
5. @3rdeye_blind: The Enemy of The State #SMRTmovies
6. @marcnair: Tekan #SMRTmovies
7. @qamuri: How To Train Your Patience #SMRTmovies
8. @direcow: Down in 60 seconds #SMRTmovies
9. @why_vo: When Harry Met Sally Very Very Late #SMRTmovies
10. @why_vo: Crappie #SMRTmovies
11. @joleeqh: The (Not So) SMRT Express. #SMRTmovies
12. @sarahcoldheart: Frozen. #smrtmovies
13. @mrbrown: Rail Steal #SMRTmovies
14. @mrbrown: Trainstopping #SMRTmovies
15. @Pandawithacam: Fury. #SMRTmovies
16. @JJChai: Start Trek #SMRTmovies
17. @mrbrown: About Time #SMRTmovies
18. @marcnair: The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey #SMRTmovies
19. @marcnair: Gate Expectations #SMRTmovies
20. @brianlian: No Train for All Men #SMRTmovies
21. @ycmok1081: The Stuck and the Furious #SMRTmovies
22. @jookuang: 那些年，我们一起追的地铁 #SMRTmovies
23. @jookuang: 跑吧孩子 #SMRTmovies
24. @brianlian: No Need For Speed #SMRTmovies
25. @mrbrown: Dawn of the Planet of the Late #SMRTmovies
26. @lupcheong: West Side Sorry #SMRTmovies
27. @lupcheong: 28 Days Later #SMRTmovies
28. @lupcheong: The Day The Earth Stood Still #SMRTmovies
29. @dennycheong: Failure to Launch #SMRTmovies
30. @TiongChye: Premium Crush #SMRTmovies
31. @ThatBakaBrendan: Real Still #SMRTmovies
32. @mrbrown: Twilight: Breaking Down #SMRTmovies
33. @mrbrown: Unforgiven #SMRTmovies
34. @mrbrown: Once Upon a Time in Jurong West #SMRTmovies
35. @mrbrown: Let Me In #SMRTmovies
36. @mrbrown: A Walk to Remember #SMRTmovies
37. @mrbrown: The Usual Suspects #SMRTmovies
38. @mrbrown: Menace II Society #SMRTmovies
39. @pharaon: Planes, Bus Bridging Services and Automobiles #SMRTmovies
40. @nomoreemostory: Total Refund #SMRTmovies
41. @mrbrown: Fifty Shades of Boon Lay #SMRTmovies
Every year, my family gathers for the Reunion Dinner on the eve of Chinese New Year. It is a rowdy affair, filled with food, drink and laughter.
Ma cooks up a storm each time, and we all tuck in. Back in the old days, it was just my immediate family: Pa, Ma, my two younger brothers and me. But the participants grew as we siblings got married and had children.
These days, it is not just my brood and my brother's kids at these dinners. Even family friends, cousins and aunts are here. We didn't have Pa with us for the last three years but Ma felt we should have even more loved ones in the home for this dinner, and so the party grew to as many as 19 people.
It got so big in numbers that we had to buy two folding tables from Giant, so that we could seat everyone.
My second brother usually cooks some of the dishes too, because he is a great cook. And also, it helps take some of the load off my mother, who is already 73 years old. But Ma loves to cook for us, so she still does a fair bit of the cooking. It's in her DNA, I think. She has been making meals for us since we were born, while juggling work as a teacher.
I cherish these Reunion Dinners. I like eating at home with all my loved ones, and home-cooked meals. My children too, are used to this scene because they are at my mom's every weeknight for dinner (we live a few blocks away from my mother).
I am not sure how we would even execute a Reunion Dinner without her hands-on involvement. She has run this show and this household for so long.
Ma is what you would call the Pioneer Generation. When I think of her though, I don't think of the term Pioneer Generation. I just think of her as Ma.
It is nice, of course, to appreciate that generation for their contribution to nation-building and all that. But really, my late father and Ma impacted us in a more intimate way, providing for us and bringing us up.
They were there through all our ups and downs; when we struggled in school, when we failed an exam, when we grappled with work and business, when we got attached, when we went through breakups, when we got married, when we had children of our own, when we had a special child, when we lost a child.
Through it all, our parents were there, a pillar of strength and support. Their contribution to us is beyond nation-building. They are the very foundation of our lives.
This Pioneer Generation video below reminded me of our own family, as we gather for our Reunion Dinners.
Does it remind you of yours?