All posts filed under: People

One of the many little things in my father's remarkable life

My Father And The Melbourne Olympics

I’ve told this story many times before, but as the Olympic Games get under way in Rio, I remember again my father’s stint sixty years ago at the Melbourne Olympics: In another age altogether, my father scored a temp job at the Melbourne Olympics as a general clerk/intern assisting the accounts department. The Games then were a small affair, unlike the massive logistical behemoth it is now. It would’ve been remarkable enough to be able to tell your kids and grandkids that you once worked at the XVIth Olympiad, but Pa being Pa, had to inadvertently go one further. There was this boxer from the Japanese team. There was no translator. So they picked the nearest Japanese-looking person to help. No matter that Pa’s knowledge of Japanese was confined to mostly pidgin from the Occupation a little over a decade earlier. The boxer mentioned something about ‘cutting’ something, and kept gesticulating with his hands, pointing at his waist. He sounded desperate too. Pa put the bits of Japanese words he understood and two and two …

The Public Service Paperweight Award

Some time in the early 90’s my father was given a public service award for his contributions to education. It came as a surprise to all of us, since he never mentioned anything about it, and the only times we saw him getting close to education was when he signed our school report cards. He explained that over the years, he had been donating money to a Chinese school affiliated with one of the Hainanese clans in Singapore. He also said it wasn’t a big deal, but I’m sure it was – because no ordinary donor would have been shortlisted for a public service award. When he received the invitation to the ceremony, he showed it to me and asked me if he should attend. I said, “Why not? You deserve it”. He went, came home, and I asked him how it was. He said, “Nothing lah. So long the whole thing”. I asked him to show me the award or certificate he must have received, and he said, “Don’t have lah. They only give …