Last month, I took a few days off to spend time with my kid, on internship, in Shanghai. I also took the opportunity to reconnect with my China friend, Martin. He took us to visit a tea farmer, Mr Yang at Dongshan, Suzhou China. It’s a 2.5 hrs drive. Along the way, I benefited from Martin’s tutorial. He made his money trading industrial equipment and subsequently sold his business to a public-listed company. We first met 13 years back in the UK. His command of English is 5 and my command of Mandarin is 3 and we got on handsomely!
Lesson 1: Stand tall so you can look far. Better still, seek out giants who will allow you to stand on their shoulders.
Lesson 2: Give back to society when ever you can. Don’t wait until you think you have accumulated enough. Pay forward and anytime is a good time.
Lesson 3: Always maintain an inquisitive mind. That way, you are a learner for life. You may have recalled that the sage Yoda in Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back admonishes Luke Skywalker to ‘unlearn what you have learned’ during a moment of despair.
From Lesson 2, I revisited the 1st HPA Charity Ride last year. I consulted several friends and they recommend to organize the 2nd Charity Ride. It will make a difference, small as it may be, in these difficult times to those in need. So stay tuned…your participation and donation will be called upon shortly.
Incredible tales in extraordinary times
I like to relate a few tales in these extraordinary times. A group of us had dinner with a government minister. I asked him what’s his most interesting episode is in these turbulent times. Apparently, a professional manager wrote seeking help for a new job. He was retrenched. After 2 months of qualification and skill matching, there was indeed a match but it comes with having to work on Saturdays.
The manager declined the offer stating that he is training for a marathon race. He further added that he does not do shift work. How’s that for completeness!
On a regular basis, I recruit interns from various Polytechnics and Universities. To increase diversity, I decided to take on students from the 3rd university. We were offered a male student. My staff briefed him on 1st day, informed him purpose of internship and our expectations. He started telling my staff that he has other commitments (in university, etc) on specific days during internship period. Without any feedback whatsoever (I did not even get to meet him), he approach my HR staff 2 hours later to walk out. We have had interns for years and this is the first time we experience a walk out even before we started.
I was intrigued and asked for his background. Apparently, he hails from Suzhou, China; the very place I visited recently. This guy’s GPA score is 3.9 out of 4, on the Dean List and on a merit scholarship. The Suzhou Industrial Park took 15 years to be deemed successful and this young man has no patience for 2 months!
This final tale tells us how the financial crisis brings about self-interest. I wrote to the US Alumni, West Coast with the following: “In our EXCO meeting a week ago, we were talking about collaborating more closely with other alumnus. For example, we could explore work attachment (children of ex-HP staff), hosting ex-HP visitors, etc.”.
I received this reply: “On the ideas for cooperation… There is very high sensitivity about US jobs moving offshore — many of the US members trained their replacements from Singapore, India, China… as the last things they did before being laid off”.
I thought it was rather presumptuous to assume people flow is only from East to West! Meanwhile, in what appears to be a populist move (ST 18May 09), President Obama hopes to increase tax revenue by US$210 bil over 10 years and eliminate any incentive for US firms to export jobs. If approved by Congress, any tax advantages in low-tax jurisdiction will be wiped out.
Back to the minister. I asked for the most bizarre episode he has encountered thus far. He related: A man complained that his wife ran away with another man and requested the minister’s intervention. When asked what he would like for him to do. With a straight face, the complainant said. Write to the other man to return my wife. So you think it’s easy to be Garmen (government).
Now that dust on AWARE is settled and MOE came out on sexuality education, I wish to revisit this matter. In my column, I refrain from politics, race and religion and I don’t do fiction. The rest is fair game.
My boy, a chip off the old block, in 2005 thought it cool to volunteer for the task below.
After discussion, I agreed to his request. Condom was subsequently returned, intact. Apparently, the lesson was not taught! So a cohort of boys graduated, not taught the basics. I hope in adulthood, they don’t land up putting this thingy over a broom stick! (as was documented years ago when sex education was improperly taught to villagers in a 3rd world country).
Why was the lesson cancelled? That’s another intriguing question…tell you when the time is right.
a) Please take note that our Annual Dinner shall be on 6 Nov 09 Friday night. Lock it in! This year we have limited no of tables. So don’t forget to book early.
b) Members of HPA do have privilege. Recently, HP has agreed to extend some discount to us on their consumer products. Pricing should be better than normal retail. Such monthly announcements, if any, shall be posted on www.shpa.org.sg
c) HP is holding its 2009 Family Day on Saturday, 15 August 2009 from 8 am to 1 pm at the West Coast Park this year. You and family are invited. $20 for adults and $12 for those under 12 years of age.
Welcome On Board HPA May09
HPA-Chin Hon Cheng