Arc Children’s Centre

We were very happy to support Arc Children’s Centre during the run of Hossan-Ah: Celebrating 20 Leong Years.

If you didn’t manage to catch the show, Arc Children’s Centre provides a safe environment for children suffering from terminal illnesses and who cannot attend regular school or activities like other healthy kids.

They have a 2000sf place in Balestier where these kids are provided with activities and education. The children’s families are also provided with support – especially if they’re from non-English/Mandarin speaking  backgrounds.

Do check them out and learn more about what they do. And if you’re able to in any capacity, help them out.

#20LeongYears Later

Twenty years ago, when I was just starting my uni studies in Sydney, Hossan wrote me an aerogramme to tell me he had taken the leap and joined The Necessary Stage full time as an admin. assistant and actor for the princely wage of $400 per month. He said he wasn’t sure if he was doing the right thing. I said he was, ‘cos that made him my first actor friend – I was so proud!

We used to write aerogrammes to each other and address each other like the geeks we used to be (and still are). (I’ll take the box of letters out of storage one day and post some pics here – He called himself “Hossan Battlestar Galactica Leong” and I was “Benjamin Buck Rogers Lee” in one letter.)

This week, we celebrate Hossan’s 20th anniversary in show business, and I wrote him an aerogramme:

Dearest Hossan,

I don’t remember if I replied to your that aerogramme or not, so here’s a reply anyway.

Time flies when you’re having fun, and I must have had so much fun in the last twenty years watching you work. It feels just like yesterday when you first started.

It’s been the greatest privilege getting to work with you for the last few years – I mean, how many of us get to work and collaborate with their best friends for so long?!

It makes me proud to know you and watch you reach greater heights with every stage of your working life. I remember you being so full of doubt about your own abilities and thinking how silly you were to think so little of yourself.

You, my friend, are so freakishly talented that you “spoil market” – and I know everyone would agree that it’s so easy to fashion a joke, a song or a dance routine for you to perform. Bugger, no one can un-see the amazing pole routine you did last year. One term comes to mind when describing your many, many talents. You are a “multi-storey complex”.

I know many people will join me in thanking you for staying in the business for so long, and for being Singapore’s favourite son. You have always been an inspiration to me, and more importantly, a friend who knows when to be “nongsern” and when to kick butt.

Congratulations. I love you very much, mate.

No, Seriously, I Want To Learn How To Invest In Shares

Before I got married, I never thought of concepts like “saving for a rainy day”, “investing in the future” or the biologically appealing “growing a nest egg”.

I had always been living day to day without much care. A lot had to do with my being in a rather comfortable environment, with relatively well to do parents and living in a landed house.

“Aiyah, no need to worry about the future one lah, that fler”, was one of the comments I overheard from my schoolmates, which I later found was describing my circumstances.

Everything was under control, and under the control of my parents – to the point where I neglected to think of any future-proofing whatsoever.

Things change, and they can change quickly. I’m married and have a kid, and I now realise I am so lucky to have not just two jobs, but that they’re what I enjoy doing, and that both can feed myself and my family comfortably.

When my mother passed away and my father became incapacitated, I was finally aware of how much I hadn’t done, and how our financial situation wasn’t as rosy as we always thought – our ignorance partly due to my parents always wanting to shield my siblings and I from any sort of perceived hardship.

You know how it is that financial advisors and insurance salesmen can hear you mutter “oh crap I have to do something about my life savings” from like two km away? I bought a slew of products, and my knowledge of financial investment is still hovering around zero.

I’m averse to trading in shares not only because of my rather sparse knowledge (I only know you should buy low sell high, but I don’t know when or why things are low or high), but also from my sole experience with a stock broker my late mother was a client of.

This particular gentleman is as Old Skool as a broker would be able to get. He still speaks as though this electronic scripless share trading (which Singapore adopted in 1987) only happened yesterday, and that it isn’t necessarily a good thing.

First up, he wouldn’t respond to my emails when I tried contacting him as an administrator of my late mother’s estate. And then when I phoned him to instruct him to sell the shares, he gave me a long lecture in Cantonese about it not being the right time to sell because the market was down.

We had nearly 30 different shares in the estate account, and he rattled through each one over the phone, expecting me to remember every counter, every price and every proposed selling price and quantity, while I listened on my hands-free speaker while I drove.

I said ok to everything he proposed – and he asked me to fax a confirmed instruction to sell, and sounded horrified that a modern young man like me didn’t have a fax machine at home. He said something that sounded like: “Har? Yao mou gao chor ah? Deem gai lei mou fess mishin gare?”

He executed my eventual instructions, and I never had to deal with him again. I know not every broker is like that, I just happened to hit the jackpot.

But as we know, having a savings plan isn’t going to cut it, and I’ve been revisiting investment options lately.

The bottom line is, I need to find my bottom line (because kids’ school and holidays not cheap you know?) – and while there are several options available, the Singapore Exchange (SGX) has this thing called the SGX Academy, and I’m gonna try to start educating myself – and see how long it takes before my eyes glaze over.

The Academy offers courses for people interested in learning about investing in shares – with levels of difficulty tacked next to the descriptions so you don’t go and sign up for a Warren Buffet Level Of Difficulty course.

I’m tempted to get my feet wet again in the stock market too. Apparently it’s not as difficult as it seems, and fess mishins are not compulsory either.

I think if I signed up for a Beginner’s Level investment course, they might have to create a new level called “Dumb As A Miyagi (For People Who Are Damn Jia Lat).”

We’ll see. I’ll keep you posted on my progress.