This is the second consecutive Father’s Day we’ve been abroad with family, and I think it’s a good way to spend it. We’re gonna make this a tradition.
To all Dads — Happy Father’s Day — it’s a day to be thankful for family, and for the time you get to spend with them. A big shout out to every man who’s traded in a fast car for an MPV, a coupe for a wagon, and spent way more than you’ve dreamed of on a stroller.
I’ve been an employer for several years now, and when I first started, it was easy to look for advice from other “bosses”. Whether that advice was good or not is another matter.
What’s been evident is the difference in attitudes between the younger generation of employers and the older. Last year when one of my current employees reached his first anniversary of working at my company (and survived), I thanked him and apologized that things weren’t quite as rosy as I would have liked them to be, and that I read the National Wages Council’s recommendation for that year, but I could only afford to pay him an increment slightly higher than what the annual rate of inflation was.
Expecting him to be disappointed, I was a little shocked that he said I was the first employer he’d worked for to even consider things such as inflation, or even to have spoken about the National Wages Council.
Who are the shadowy people of the NWC, you may well ask? They’re from the trade unions, the Ministry of Manpower, and employers. And every year since 1972, they’ve been giving guidelines to whether and how to implement wage increases.
And there’s the rub — they’re just guidelines. And whether or not the workers of the nation get a pay increase or not is dependent on the paymaster — and a lot has also to do with whether the company’s employers are unionized, because just looking at last year’s NWC recommendations — 80% of of unionized companies followed the recommended increase, and only 30% of non-unionized companies did. What’s more, only 25% of Singapore workers are in the union.
Yet for some reason, people complain about how the NTUC isn’t doing anything to help increase the wages of workers. Hallo? How to help if you’re not in a union?
In any case, employers were surveyed last year, and some of those that didn’t implement the wage increases obviously had issues with company growth, cash flow or a giam ganna boss.
My fellow employers, there are ways to help your situation. Out of the minimum $60 wage increase recommendation for workers earning up to $1,000, the gahmen’s Wage Credit Scheme can subsidize $24. That’s 40% leh!
I remember speaking with a man in his 60s a few years ago, who was doing ok with his business (not making a loss), and he was complaining about the NWC and how they keep recommending increases. I was struck by his summary: “Every year ask us to increase pay, where to find the money? My backside ah?”
With a few years’ employer’s experience in my pocket, if I had spoken to him today, I’d have said, “Abu den? You have a responsibility to your staff as well as your profit margin, and the money would indeed have to come from your backside, not your staff’s”.
The way things stand at the moment, the challenge is in getting employers to shift their attitudes a little and come on board to actively promote their workers’ welfare. The Singapore National Employers’ Federation (SNEF) is a union of bosses that I think I might also sign up for — there are quite a few things they offer that I and my staff could use.
My current staff would be happy to know I’m joining a union to get help to improve their welfare (which they say is currently pretty darn good — cos we have this thing called “boss buy lunch day” once a month where we pick an expensive restaurant for a two hour lunch and eat and discuss work — I get the best insights into how my clients are handled, and my staff get a great lunch).
We have an arrangement at home with Kai where if he’s been really good he gets to exercise an option of half an hour of (apple) tv time in place of a bedtime storybook and a 5 minute chat about his day, but only if it isn’t already past bedtime (8pm).
Two nights ago, he opted for tv time, watched his rationed half hour of a kid’s programme about words, then started to bargain for another episode and/or/and a storybook and/or/and chat. Cajoling, wheedling, needling and most importantly, whining to get his way, even though he knows the chances of him getting it are slim. Unless of course Mama and Papa are so tired from their day as to give in.
So I carry him to bed and he struggles, still whining, and slides off to his bookshelves, grabs a book and returns to the bed in the dark and slaps the book on my stomach and whines that he wantstorytimenotstraighttobed.
I look at the cover of the book and ask him whether he’s sure he wants me to read that particular book, because it’s called “Monsters Eat Whiny Children”.
The look of quiet frustration, confusion and creeping fear is something I will cherish for awhile. Not often our four year old snooks himself like that.
Nick Singh stood at a traffic junction for 30 minutes to record all manner of jaywalking and dangerous behaviour and distilled it into this short video. He might have missed out on instances of people texting/facebooking/tweeting while crossing the road. Still, Pedestrian safety is everyone’s responsibility, including the pedestrian.
On a work trip to Shanghai last Friday, I sat in my cab and marvelled at the gleaming towers, giant billboards and the frenetic pace of the people in the business districts of the giant city.
Then my cab driver asked me something which I assumed to be permission for him to excuse himself because he needed to find a toilet urgently. I also assumed that he had spotted a public lavatory somewhere close to the junction where he had stopped the taxi.
That public toilet turned out to be a bush on the edge of a small park next to the road.
There have been other rude reminders that I was in China, but this one still shocked me enough for me to fumble and drop my phone while I tried to sneak a photo.
On foot later, there was the usual array of people spitting on the sidewalk before crossing the road, people not fearing for their lives by riding a motorcycle while holding an umbrella and people not caring about other people’s health by smoking in a taxi queue and at the top of the subways’ escalators. I stood in the rain just to avoid smokers blowing smoke at me.
Maybe it’s because I go there without my family, but I’m always glad to leave Shanghai for home, and can’t wait to get on the plane. At the airport, the feeling becomes stronger because no matter how modern the terminal looks, the ground staff are unsystematic — causing chaotic queues at boarding (Krisflyer Gold one line, PPS, first, business and Star Alliance Gold, one line, so it ends up with Economy passengers having the shortest line).
Hossan and I both agree that there’s nothing like coming home, and it begins when you board a Singapore Airlines plane. I don’t care if the stewardess asks if I’d like the “G-ken with Podaydo” after she announces that the “sit beowt sigh has bin tendorf”. The service is fantastic and I think, in the last couple of years, even improved to the extent that I’d say it’s the first airline I’d consider flying anywhere, as soon as I figure out what’s wrong with their website.
To every son and daughter’s mother, a happy Mother’s Day. You’ve made your children what they are, whether or not you’ve intended to.
To Naomi — on behalf of Kai and myself, thank you for being everything he needs.
To Naomi’s Mom, thank you for being family.
And I remember my mother today, for making us panic every Mother’s Day not knowing what to plan for lunch and what gifts to get, forgetting that you only ever wanted us to be at our best in everything we did. I remember you would back us to the hilt if we did our best, defending us as only a mother would.
Motherhood is all love. It’s a good day to show we appreciate that by sharing the love around.
Read this first, then come back to this post.
Yes, you can die from dengue. But mostly, people don’t exhibit serious symptoms, and are often not ill enough to be hospitalized.
It’s been the same with this outbreak, and I’ve found that as a result, people are being a bit blase about the current epidemic despite the media blitz by the NEA.
Some people wait till they get a rash before going to the doctor. Here’s news for you: If you have dengue, and a rash appears, your platelets are likely to be crashing and you might need a blood transfusion.
Our experience with Kai at 8 weeks old shows how you can never be too careful. He didn’t have a fever, didn’t cry more than usual, and the only reason we took him to the pediatrician was because our confinement nanny said she hadn’t seen anything like the freckles he was sporting.
I remember being frustrated at the NEA for not being able to inspect the vacant apartments in our block because the owners had been uncontactable. That is apparently being changed, and officers are now able to break into homes to search for and destroy mosquito breeding grounds.
After Kai had dengue, I had immediately contacted the NEA to ask them to inspect our condo and our neighbours — with one particularly suspicious house turning up empty even though they had a disused swimming pool which was looking all green and slimy.
The officers had responded by inspecting our apartment regularly. I was indignant at first, until I was told that many complainants to the NEA were actually inadvertently breeding mosquitoes themselves — my mother included. She had complained about the excessive numbers of mosquitoes in her garden, and the NEA came and found aedes larvae in her flowerpots.
Even something as innocuous as a plastic tarp covering a motorcycle collects enough rainwater to breed mosquitoes — and a person has in fact been fined for doing so.
There have been over 6,000 cases of people contracting dengue this year so far. If it goes on at this rate, don’t be surprised if there are fatalities. The thing is, we can prevent this from happening by pitching in to get rid of mosquito breeding grounds.
So please, just do the five step mozzie wipeout check in your home. If not daily, then weekly.
Our love-hate relationship with Bali continued this trip, with our ideal idyllic villa getaway shared with our friends celebrating their anniversary turning into a three day battle with mosquitoes (and the holey mosquito net) before we retreated to a multi-storey hotel with fewer bugs.
Constant traffic jams on single-laned roads plied by mercenary cabbies whose reflex upon seeing us with kids in tow was to charge a prix fixe R50,000 (about $6) made for unpleasant afternoons. But watching the three children in our entourage charge at waves on Seminyak’s grey sanded beaches were the highlights along with some great food at some of the most beautiful beach club restaurants in the world. Coffee places in nooks of shops are also the norm along this stretch of south Bali, and you’d want to abandon the hotel breakfasts for a great espresso fueled brekkie.
Australian style. Great breakfasts with bread and pastries from Monsieur Spoon — whose owner broke fast with us and told us he made the best croissants in Asia. I have invited him to set up shop in Singapore. You can thank me when that happens.
GROCER & GRIND
Go for GG’s Breakfast Burrito. Only cos you’re on holiday and you can have a burrito for breakfast
Great coffee, but the food so so. My entrecôte and frites was so underdone they refunded me.
Best Indonesian fare ever. Puts Sanur and every other Indonesian outlet you’ve ever had in Singapore to shame.
Great seafood — try the fish pan grilled Indonesian style. And the marinated sardines are great too.
NAUGHTY NURI’S WARUNG
The Seminyak branch is slightly more comfortable than the Ubud original. The ribs and bebek goreng are still great, as are the killer martinis. Order one and the waiter does a dance.
POTATO HEAD BEACH CLUB
The place to be for Bali sunsets. Drinks are so so, but there’s a mean snack platter. Beautiful people gather here to watch the sunset and each other.
MOZAIC BEACH CLUB
Randall’s cousin chum siong with one of the chefs to make an exception and allow our kids to dine with us (for this, we are eternally grateful). Fantastic food with a great ambience.
COCOON BEACH CLUB
Another place we decided to go to after Melody thought it’d be great after the kids got to muck around at the beach — which was crazy crowded because it was Sunday (every Balinese boy and dog are on the beach playing football on Sunday). The appetizers were great but the mains, while still good, were a little underwhelming.
Our party gave this place a star just for the decor/architecture — I have never seen a restaurant like this. The kelas atas Indonesian fare was simply fabulous, and you won’t go wrong ordering everything on the menu — just bring more friends to eat with. Probably the only people to complain would be the staff, because the kitchen is inexplicably upstairs while all of the tables bar three are downstairs. You’d have to ace your shuttle run to work here.
Our tips for enjoying Bali: Eat at the above places, bring lots of bug repellent, sunscreen, and always tell the taxi driver, “meter please”.
I’m a bit excited about this blog being highlighted (at around the 28-minute mark of the video) at an NTUC May Day Rally. Never in a million years would I have thunk it. Seriously. My friends are making fun of me.
If you’re at all interested in the rest of the rally — do watch the clip. It may just help you understand a bit more about industrial relations in Singapore, or at the very least, give you a more informed reason to protest against the current state of affairs.
Don’t worry, this video can pause as and when you like, and allow you to come back and continue watching at your convenience. Don’t just simply rely on the usual news outlet soundbites.
We’re in Bali to celebrate with friends (wedding/wedding anniversary). It’s nice to get away, though unfortunately, bits of Bali are so built up, and traffic snarls every hour of the day and night that it takes a bit off the tranquility that it’s supposed to promise.
Plus, it is very, very hard to watch one’s diet here.
- How Did You Spend Father’s Day?
- Being A Good Boss Man
- There’s A Book For Dealing With Whiny Kids
- Pedestrian Safety
- Shanghai Is Still In China (And Singapore Airlines Is A Great Way To Fly)
- Happy Mother’s Day
- Please Take Dengue Seriously
- Seminyak Highlights
- This Blog Has Been Rallied
- Ownself Declare Long Weekend
- Want Your Union To Have A Greater Say? Join Them
- My Father And The Gangster Fella Lee Kuan Yew
- Everyone Is Responsible For Fighting Dengue
- A #HealthyRivalry For The Ages
- Cheaper Better Faster
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