June 30, 2004

An open letter to Osama bin Laden :

Dear Mr bin Laden,

I don't expect you to listen nor heed my plea. Neither do I believe that you will be stopped unless through death. And that is why I believe you will not prevail in the end. Simply put, your doctrine of death puts the entire human race at risk of extinction and there will come a day when people will wisen up and realise that you are nothing but a religious zealot whom has little regard for the sanctity of human life.

The first thing I would like to do is to ask you a few questions. For starters, Mr bin Laden, what are your aims and motives for all these insurgencies and bombings you have been carrying out? From what analysts and your subordinates have said so far, Al Qaeda intends to create a pan-Islamic state stretching from the Middle East all the way to the Indonesian archipelago and the Philippines. What good would this do you? Do you not realise that in those areas which you have earmarked there are a significantly larger number population of non-Muslims? Do you not begin to fathom the consequences which could arise from your dabbling in the religious spectrums of Asia? Do you TRULY believe that all the Indians, Chinese and Eurasians in these areas would just lie down and submit to the might of Muslim militancy? If you do, then you are a far more naive leader than I have imagined. These Christians, Hindus and Buddhists will not lie down and let you trample all over them. They will suscribe to a belief that 'the enemy of my enemy is my friend' and will unite to crush your militant brand of Islam.

Then of course there are your own moderate Muslims. People who do not believe in the destruction caused by firebrand Islam and are preaching Islam as a doctrine of peace. People who do still believe in the preservation of human life. How will you win them over? By persecuting them as an alien race of Muslims? By attempting to assimilate them into your sect through persuasion and bribery? I think not. These people form the majority of the Muslim community and will not allow you to tarnish the reputation of Islam through your acts of skull-duggery. They will cooperate with the authorities to banish your followers and ensure the line of Al Qaeda is forever buried. You are most foolish to be setting such high aims for yourself. Aims which you will never be able to fulfill.

But of course, you're starting in the kingdom of Saudi Arabia, aren't you? You believe that by toppling the world's richest kingdom and seizing the oil deposits you will one day control an amount of wealth more vast than your greatest enemy, The United States. You believe that a day will come when your fellow Arab brothers will join you in repelling the 'Great Satan' from your Arabian peninsula. You fervently cry out for a resistance against these American infidels when in truth, it is you who is the infidel. You undermine progress and advancement. You break hearts and spirit. You damage any affection and sympathy these common Arabs might have once possessed for you. And what of your so-called infidels? All they have done is to restore order, bring about democracy and provide training and aid for your Arab brothers. Granted, they may have had less noble intentions towards Iraq, and yet, despite everything that you have brought charges against them for, the bare cold truth is that they have brought progress to Iraq and the Arab world. What do you preach? Women being persecuted and treated as second class? Men having no access to technology as it is deemed 'evil'? Be serious. What you have done is cast your Arab brothers back into the stone age and turned away the advances of the future which have been placed at your doorstep.

What do you desire? Immediate American withdrawal? Do you not realise that the effects of that would be catastrophic? Countries would become unstable in an instant. Oil rigs would go unmanned and tonnes of oil would be left spurting to waste. Most jobs which rely on American military presence would be deemed obsolete and even more Arab youth will be left on the streets, brooding and resenting. Is an Islamic state really that utopic? If so, kindly point me to a religious theocracy which is thriving in today's world. Democracy may have its own flaws and yet, it has proven to be one of the most effective forms of government around. So tell me, where does this proof of your superiority come from? From God? I think not.

God would never condone your destroying of innocent lives which you later mask as forgivable under jihad. God would never want you to commit murder and treason all in the name of Islam. God would not agree to suicide as a justifiable means of attaining sainthood. No. It is you Mr bin Laden who have deceived these people and cheated them of life. You, who have nothing to live for but destruction and fear. You who thrives on people's insecurities and discontent. You misguided and resentful man. You are responsible for the deaths of tens of thousands. Do you really think you will go to Heaven for this? I spit at you.

I appeal to your better sense of judgement to end this conflict which you began years ago. End it before they find you because I assure you, it will not be pleasant if they do. And how about this for food for thought? When you are alone, snuggled up in a cave in the mountains, do remember the cries and wails of the children whom you made orphans. They cry out to you, haunt you and plague your dreamscape. Just as you plagued theirs. Forever.

A Concerned Global Citizen

Traveller fell apart at 3:28 AM

June 27, 2004

Smashing....absolutely superb weekend. It started off with a trip to Pasir Ris chalets on Saturday with Stephanie and her family and even though I wasn't enthusiastic at first, my lethargy soon turned into excitement when her Uncle Roy played Stephanie and myself in pool. Now, I'm a very competitive person and once I delve into something, I would most likely want to come out as some sort of a winner but unfortunately in this aspect, I was found lacking. Uncle Roy gave me the thrashing of my life. Hell, even Stephanie beat me! I'm going to have to train doubly hard if I want any form of vengeance but that is going to have to come later.

After leaving Pasir Ris, we made a trip down to visit Dad for the final time before I leave. I've got to say, I terribly miss Dad. Even after placing the single white chrysanthemum next to his column and squatting down to say goodbye, I felt a pang of sadness. Stephanie wanted to know how Dad was like and as I described him, she told me that she felt as if she missed him as well despite having not met him before. That's my Dad for you. He's just charismatic in his own special way and by his funeral turnout, you could judge what kind of a man he had been.

We proceeded to catch an extremely well-written movie next, in the form of "Windstruck". Now for those of you who have not caught it and are skeptical because it's Korean and not from Hollywood, get past those inhibitions. The movie is filled with funny moments, sad tragedy and twists. Even some of the twists I could not have expected and these twists are so well woven into the fabric of the storyline that you get a huge surprise when you finally think about it and examine the entire tapestry. At one point in the show, I felt tears welling up in my eyes and that says something because I almost never cry in shows. After the show, I stayed over at Stephanie's place and it was in a way, bittersweet. We enjoyed each other's company but I'm sure in the back of our heads was "6th July". Sigh.

Met up with Patrick, Jack, Jiehan, Xianli and Chris this morning for K-Box. I think in some ways I've grown past that hatred I used to possess for all things Chinese. Nowadays, I find myself listening to Chinese songs and having new-found abilities for reading "fan ti" words. That's amazing because I used to be a 50-something Chinese student. It was great hanging out with them and talking about life after NS because I think a way, we all were forced to be people we were not in camp. It was good to finally meet up with them without the politics in camp, work worries and whatnot that used to hold us back a little during meetups. No-holds barred, spontaneous, fun. It was just refreshing. And Patrick topped it off when he commented that "the shit is all behind us now". That struck a chord with me and I smiled to myself because it was really all over and the sun seems to shine brighter than ever now.

Then the highlight of today. My testimonial soccer match before I depart for Australia. ACS vs Buddies. It was like a dream come true! I scored two goals and the team won 5-2. But that wasn't what pleased me. It was the fact that so many people were willing to come down for the testimonial match and then I realised, maybe I'm not so alone after all.

All these different sets of friends wished me goodbye in the best possible way I could have dreamt of and I just want to thank each and every one of them. But it only makes things harder doesn't it? It's going to be hard on the day I leave. Hard not to shed a tear.

Traveller fell apart at 10:43 PM

June 25, 2004

What a spectacle. What an atmosphere. What a match.

Portugal 2 England 2 (Portugal win 6-5 on penalties)

I haven't been staying up till 2:45am to catch the recent matches on cable but I'm glad I made an exception for this one. It was breathtaking, thrilling and exciting to say the least. England took the lead through a marvellous finish by Michael Owen who incidentally, finally ended his goal drought but it was this man who broke English hearts right at the death.

Helder Postiga! What a cross from Simao, what a cheeky header, what shrewd substitutions by Scolari.

Extra-time was no let-down either what with a cracker of a goal coming from Manuel Rui Costa before Frank Lampard seemed to have given England something to cheer about.

Finally, it came down to penalties and I've said it before and I'll say it again. No one deserves to go out of a tournament on penalties. It's far too cruel, far too decisive and definitely much too dampening. But of course, someone had to win and it was definitely a test of nerve. Sitting back in my chair, I could almost feel the tension running through each penalty taker's head as he prepared to deliver the goods to an expectant crowd. How DO they manage to keep their cool in such a fiery situation? Only God knows. The penalties were tied at 5-5 when Portuguese goalkeeper Ricardo saved Darius Vassell's weak spotkick and stepped up to slam the ball past his counterpart David James to send Portugal into raptures and onto the semi-finals.

Thank you England and Portugal for giving the neutral observers a true spectacle of a soccer match.

Traveller fell apart at 2:35 PM

June 24, 2004

There are times when you get stuck between a rock and a hard place. That's how it is in life. You often end up in situations which you least want yourself to be in. Perhaps 'tis the nature of the universe, where everything that can go wrong will go wrong and mankind will forever find themselves stuck in quicksand aptly named dilemma.

Fate. Does Fate have a hand in the going-ons in our world? Does Fate actually exist? Or does God manipulate Fate and then rename it "Divine Intervention"? When Fate steps in and takes control, it is often hard to deny its existence. When God steps in and takes control, we OFTEN deny His existence. Dates, anniversaries, twists of fate, everything seems to fall in place and yet, the jigsaw has been left untouched for years. What prohibits advancement? What prevents our constant struggle from taking fruit? I would like to know. Seriously. I would damn well like to know. When two pieces of the jigsaw puzzle seem to fit nicely next to each other somehow the wind comes and blows them apart. Oh woe. Woe.

What is woe? Mankind often defines it as suffering that is beyond demonstrable anguish or grief. It is the suffering which silences you and yet cuts your heart in two. It is the pain we experience when we fail at the final hurdle, lose a game or worse....fall out of love. Throughout history, it has been known that many outrageous and deemed impossible acts have been accomplished through the power of love. Love.

Is it really so powerful? It's enough to make a grown man cry. It's power is such that wars and lawsuits are fought over it. So perhaps it is. And yet, we will never experience the true power of it unless we experience it first hand. What a sham. What irony. What cruelty.

I apologize if my writing seems a little abstract. Too many things are running through my mind at this point in time and I am typing as they come.

Traveller fell apart at 3:11 AM

June 18, 2004

Your True Nature by llScorpiusll
The quality that most appeals to you:Spiritual Advancement
In a survival situation, you:Cleverly trick your attacker
Your hidden talent is:Spiritual wisdom
Your gift is:Vast knowledge
In groups, you:Don't fit in
Your best quality is:Your protectiveness
Your weakness is:Your overbearing nature
Created with the ORIGINAL MemeGen!

Strange how accurate these online tests can be sometimes.

Traveller fell apart at 7:34 PM

June 15, 2004

Ok, reading the Life! section of the Straits Times today really ticked me off. Apparently, there were a bunch of students who were allowed to go for a concert and only succeeded in making a complete fool of themselves and a mockery of the image of Singaporeans. No, seriously I've had enough. Far too long have I stood by and watched Singaporeans giving foreigners such a dreary and disgusting image of ourselves. I do not feel proud to be Singaporean at all and this is perhaps the reason why. Let me give you a few examples in which Singaporeans make themselves look really stupid.

When getting off and on MRT trains, there is often a huge crowd that gathers at the main boarding points. I constantly find myself in situations where I am pushed from behind just because of some old 'auntie' who is adamant that she get on board this particular train. It's as if the train is leaving some disaster area and to fail to catch it means certain death. In a way, it's amusing because I don't mind sitting back and getting onto the next train but in a way, it irks me because I have seen tourists from other countries being pushed around and I wonder, what do they tell their friends and family back home? That Singapore consists of a bunch of uncouth, uncourteous individuals who only care about themselves and no one else? I think of this and I honestly feel disheartened.

Have you ever stood at the crossing between the East-West MRT line and the North-South MRT line? Well, if you haven't, you should set aside half an hour to sit between these two train lines and watch the Daily Olympics being conducted everyday. Isn't the Olympics in a few months time in Greece? No. For Singaporeans, we are so 'health conscious' that despite our busy schedules, we still find time to work out at the MRT stations. I find myself smiling and constantly sniggering to myself when I see some old 'ah-soh' with a thousand and one shopping bags dashing across from one train to the other. It's as if she found some untapped strength to dash across the platform with about 5kg worth of clothes and accessories pulling her down. But seriously, why the rush?

Perhaps this is it. Perhaps the Government has drilled into our mindset the need for speed and efficiency in the workplace so much, this spills over into our daily lives. Whether it means pushing the guy next to you to get onto the bus or cutting the queue to get something on offer, it doesn't matter whether someone else got there first. All that matters is you. Selfish thought. That's how Singapore has thrived in a hostile neighbourhood. Don't scoff at me and say I'm wrong because I know I'm not. And it's because of this mentality that has been cultivated that Singaporeans are unable to stop and smell the roses. To appreciate the finer things in life. To enjoy an Arts recital or a musical performance. And that is why, to the question asked whether Singaporeans are ready for the Arts culture I reply a resounding 'no'.

Because as long as we continue to let our lives be ruled by cynicism and selfish emotions, we will never be able to truly appreciate anything else.

P.S. Happy Birthday Ben! And thanks for the treat yesterday!

Traveller fell apart at 1:59 PM

June 12, 2004

As I stand on the threshold of freedom, I look back on the long, arduous journey and the many obstacles I've had to overcome to be at this point in time. 11th June 2004. I never thought I'd finally survive and grope my way through the darkness to this day. But so I have. Finally. After two and a half years of long waiting, I have done what my oppressors have asked of me and finally been released. It is like having served a jail term and getting released, only this time the mental scars aren't those of social rejection but merely psychological trauma. Being in the army hasn't been easy and although it hasn't been a particularly enjoyable experience, there are some people I would like to say a big 'thank you' to for making my stay in the Singapore Armed Forces that little more bearable.

1. 3SG(NS) Alwyn Tan

Being stranded on an offshore island like Tekong was never going to be easy and more so for someone who's not accustomed to living outside his home. Alwyn was one of my section commanders and despite the trend then of the Sergeants pulling ranks and coming down hard on us recruits, Alwyn showed us that the punishment did have a meaning and the torture did have a purpose to it. Hell, he even did some of the push-ups that he ordered us to complete. And for all the times he covered up for me when I did something wrong even when it meant he could get into trouble, I am truly grateful. Thank you Alwyn and if I ever do see you along the street, rest assured I will afford you the warmest greeting I can muster. You set the foundation for my transition in the Army.

2. LTA Ben Tan

My 2IC in Seletar East Ammo Depot. One of the most accomodating and friendly officers I've encountered to date. Funny thing was that our first meeting was a 'staring incident' and he did not initially have a good impression of me. However, when I did show him that I could complete the tasks assigned to me and generally fulfill my duties well, he did change his opinion of me and strived to help me in whatever way he could. I still remember the time when I was ordered to do area cleaning by a Second-Sergeant and Ben stepped in to tell that Sergeant that I was exempted from the area cleaning because I was completing a task for him. Haha. Damn, I was sniggering like crazy but had to pull a straight face. Even after I left SEAD, he still bothered to ask me how I was and find out whether I needed help whenever I called back. Really a good friend and definitely earned my respect as an officer.

3. LCP(NS) Bernard Chan

My colleague in SEAD and my mentor in the Army. Bernard was initially a tough task master and often reprimanded me for not remembering my work well enough. Although his methods were harsh, to be fair to him, they were extremely effective. Besides getting me acquainted with my work, Bernard also managed to protect me from my evil upperstudy Dinesh who constantly threw every piece of shit my way. Bernard often stepped in and held Dinesh back when Dinesh got out of line. The memories of him and me sharing a joke while working overtime are aplenty and I will definitely hold Bernard dear as one of the buddies I made in NS.

4. LCP(NS) Jeevan

Despite his queer outlook on life and often incomprehensible behaviour, I managed to accept Jeevan as a really good mentor as well. He showed me the ropes on politics in camp and surviving the backstabbers and bastards so well. I termed him affectionately as "JV" as did everyone in camp and one thing JV taught me about was the 'siege mentality'. He told me that everyone outside the walls of our CQ Store was against us and warned me to be careful about whatever I said or did that would induce jealousy or discontent. From then on I tread silently and carefully and gradually won over many of my previous enemies in camp. JV is without a doubt, one of the most intelligent and cunning people I have ever met. Well, not to mention that he's gay. And proud of it. Haha.

5. CPL(NS) Jonathan Foo

I remember Jonathan as one of the first people I met in camp. My initial impressions of him were an uptight and no-nonsense person but that quickly changed as I got to know him better through the months. Jonathan proved to be a really good friend that I could always count on despite being backstabbed and fucked so many times through my stay in 1st Transport. We would always huddle in his signal store discussing various gossips and politics in camp and discussing next modes of action. It was like our little battle strategy room and I really saw that Jonathan cares for those he accepts as friends. He has never let me down when I needed any help and yeah Jon, still rather sorry about you taking my place in the Change Of Command Parade. I seriously did not expect Ernie to react in that way. A really bosom friend and one I will continue to stay in contact with even after army.

6. CPL Muhammad Fadhil

Fadhil, Jonathan, Robin and me formed a nucleus of a bunch of friends who constantly looked out for one another in 1st Transport. Fadhil was the first person I learnt from in our branch and the first person I really formed a friendship with in 1st Transport after moving over from SEAD. He came across to me as a rather intelligent and yet religious individual whom I found hard to fault. We had our Friday 'saboh' sessions where we would call our friends and pose as different individuals hoping to get a laugh at their ridiculous reactions. It was real good fun and in a sense, I felt Fadhil and me were the only guys in our branch who got along really well. Will miss this guy after I'm gone but I sincerely wish him the best in his future endeavours. And yes Fadhil, if I find out you're lying to me and you got into NUS, you are going to get it from me. Whole day drama and drama, not sick of it?

7. CPL(NS) Patrick Wee

Without Patrick, I wouldn't have seen how truly cynical this world is. Patrick brought a refreshing change to the daily optimism that people constantly shower on their mundane lives. He astounded me when he shared with me many interesting insights he shared on life and how he managed to solve problems rather easily although perhaps not too tactfully. However, under his wing, I managed to get through most of our problems unscathed and unpunished. The many 'Special Ops' we did together and the times we had to cover our asses unethically. He was a really good mentor and efficient worker.

Well, I guess I'd be lying if I said that everyday of my NS life was miserable but the truth is, without these 7 people in it, I don't think I'd have pulled through so relatively unscathed. Once again, I thank you people and I hope that our paths will cross once again in the years to come. Till then, ORD loh!

Traveller fell apart at 2:01 AM

June 08, 2004

Only now does the prospect of me leaving for Australia hit me in full blast. When I opened my email inbox today, I found that I received an email from Monash University. They advised me to schedule my arrival for the 7th of July because the University orientation was going to start on the 8th. And so fate would have it, I am going to have to leave on the 6th of July at 8:50pm. To all those who had planned to come down on the 12th, I am so sorry but I won't hold it against you if any of you can't make it.

I cancelled my SingTel line today for reasons best left undisclosed. If any of you want to know the story behind my cancellation, do feel free to message me online or call me and I'd be delighted to share that story with you. Just not here, where prying eyes can see and judge. The main crux of my announcement would be that I have switched to a StarHub prepaid plan and have a spankin' new number. Don't bother asking me for that number because if I intended for you to have it, you'd have received an SMS today revealing my new number. Don't get me wrong, I'm not being anti-social or reclusive. It's just that this new StarHub plan has no incoming free calls and if the whole world had my number, I'd be running to the ATM to top up my card pretty often. All in all, perhaps this cancellation is a good thing. After all, I am leaving soon and will only be back during the holidays at most. Having this new prepaid plan allows me to pay as I use instead of paying a monthly flat fee for a line which I only use for one third of the year. Even better is that the change in number will allow me to totally escape any idiotic calls from camp which I may receive EVEN AFTER MY ORD DATE. Yes, don't laugh. Things like that really do happen and it is not funny. Simply put, I have served my time and don't expect to be disturbed when I am carrying on with life. So no, I am most certainly unhappy to hear a stupid NSF/Regular on the line asking me about things which I did ages ago.

Mom asked me to make a list of things I will be bringing over in my luggage and for me, that request felt so strange. It's hard to believe I have barely four weeks left in Singapore and soon I will be leaving familiar shores for unfamiliar territory. I know I've been harping on this point for the past month but how can I help it when it feels as if a bullet train is hitting me square in the jaw.

Can someone tell me why all these Marvel spin-offs are inspiring music artistes to make great songs? Spiderman had "Hero" from Chad Kroeger. Daredevil had "Bring Me Back To Life" among the many great songs on its soundtrack. And today, I heard a new song from the upcoming movie "The Punisher" titled "Broken". It's a strange trend really, and I will be following this one closely.

On a slightly happier note, Pam will be returning from Sydney in a couple of days time and soon it will be time to catch up with her at our Boon Tong Kee hangout together with the guys. That's a good thing, right? So tell me, how come the storm clouds are gathering?

"Cause I'm broken, when I'm lonesome. I don't feel right when you're gone away."

Traveller fell apart at 4:20 AM

June 02, 2004

Friends are friends forever. That was the song playing while on the way home with Eugene and Terry in Ben's car. It was an appropriate song for an appropriate moment. We had just spent the entire night hanging out and having fun, basically just basking in each other's company. Mac, James and Kelvin joined us as well and we had a good time playing Rise Of Nations. Which brings me to my point. Over the years, I've had many friends from the various institutions I've been part of ; Pei Hwa Primary School, ACS(Independent), Pioneer Junior College and the SAF. None of the friendships formed during these times endured for a good part of my life. But in Ben, Terry, Mark and Eugene, I've had friends I can safely say have been with me both through thick and thin. Although Kelvin, James and Mac came much later in my life, they have definitely been welcome additions. And it's sad really, to be knowing that I'd be unable to enjoy their company in a month's time. These thoughts, coupled with my reluctance to leave both Stephanie and my family, have been plaguing me in recent months. But after hearing this song playing in Ben's car last night, perhaps it was an implicit message that I need not worry about losing these friendships because "a lifetime's not too long to live as friends".

Michael W. Smith - Friends Are Friends Forever

Packing up the dreams God planted
In the fertile soil of you
Can't believe the hopes he's granted
Means a chapter in your life is through
But we'll keep you close as always
It won���t even seem you've gone
'cause our hearts in big and small ways
Will keep the love that keeps us strong

And friends are friends forever
If the Lord's the Lord of them
And a friend will not say never
'cause the welcome will not end
Though it's hard to let you go
In the Father's hands we know
That a lifetime's not too long to live as friends.

With the faith and love God's given
Springing from the hope we know
We will pray the joy you'll live in
Is the strength that now you show

But we'll keep you close as always
It won't even seem you've gone
'cause our hearts in big and small ways
Will keep the love that keeps us strong


Traveller fell apart at 3:50 PM

June 01, 2004

Sometimes songs say things that words cannot. Perhaps this is one of those moments.

Neve - Skyfall

I had a dream I fell behind a hidden wall
Began to see a world through new eyes
I can't wake up I don't really want to figure out
What it means to rush right through this life

Upside-down on a ceiling floor
I don't think I'll be coming back for more
Running blind into what I see
Not afraid to set it free
That's just the way it should be

When will the sky fall beneath us?
Will we make sense of it all?
I'm going through things in my mind
We just hide behind
And I'm not the only one

I took a turn and got stuck inside
This played out scheme

A revolution underneath your blue sky
I'm underground so come around and upside down
We will try
To look beyond ourselves so we both can survive

Flashback dropping in a state of bliss
Hooked up wishing but it doesn't really exist
I won't die in a dream that's dead
I'd rather take in the head
That's just the way it should be


Well I don't know

Upside down on a ceiling floor
I know that I'll be coming back for more
I filter out through a faded screen
A Universe so obscene
Tell me now when it's time to cut free
We'd better start living better take another leap.

Traveller fell apart at 4:17 PM

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