Tuesday, May 22, 2012

The Graduate Hawker


Phd (Food Engineering), BSc(Foodfare), Dip in Hawking...


The last bastion of free enterprise and creativity is now under Government control. It is fine to regulate hygiene and health issues in relation to food centres but to require certification for hawkers is uncalled for. 

"Workforce Development Agency (WDA) to set up hawker training centre and to built a pipeline of skilled hawkers". It's really stretched on imaginations to expect our hawkers to hold a Diploma in Hawking or Degree in FoodFare or some form of Certificates! Its an academic oversell!

In early days, hawker stalls and stalls in school canteens were given to financial hardship cases to help them eke out a decent living. Most of them have little or no education. I know many famous eateries and hawkers who take pride in their skills and food knowledge that no amount of formal education can harness. 

Such approach is not unlike an agency creating jobs to self-preserve their relevance and usefulness.

Food preparation and making involves some degrees of risk and skills. The argument that disadvantaged people and/or persons with disabilities can find jobs in hawking or hawker centres simply ignores the risk factors like boiling broth, hot water, fire, sharp objects, quick response and limited working space. 

I do not expect the Authorities to change their mind with this letter but I am hopeful that the Government will leave some areas to entrepreneurship and creativity alone. It's best that the Government do what it does best, that is, to govern with broad guidelines, compassion and meeting the crying needs of the people. 

There are many things that our Government has done well and I pray they will continue to do so. But, there are also pockets of issues that should be left alone to evolve.  

Not everyone can study nor achieve some level of certification but there is definitely many exemplary examples of uneducated and less educated people who made it and punching well above the headlines.

Surely we cannot be a nation of scholars without farmers; we will all be famished. A tertiary graduate may become a hawker (his intelligence, passion and willingness to learn) but its almost impossible for a hawker (he is a skilled 'craftsman', crafting meals) to become a graduate. 

I remembered the person and/or company who created his 'meals on wheels concept'. He was fairly successful. But, after he shared his idea with the Authority and the Agency tweaked and deployed a fairly similar concept, it did not last many years. 

I am concerned that we have given education and academic pursuit too much, almost exclusive, weightage.  


Published in the Straits Times 22/05/12



THE plan by the Workforce Development Agency (WDA) to set up a hawker training centre to 'build a pipeline of skilled hawkers' should be reconsidered ('Centre to train future hawkers'; last Friday).
It is a stretch of the imagination to expect hawkers to study for a diploma in hawking or a degree in food fare. If anything, the idea smacks of a bureaucratic oversell.
We should remember that hawker and school canteen stalls started as an informal trade for people who had to earn a living or were facing financial hardship. Most hawkers had little or no education. Those who turned their stalls into foodie haunts had little or no formal education, but that mattered not a jot as they taught themselves the requisite skills and crafted the recipes that made their food famous.
Hawkers are more jazz artists than operatic soloists.
The approach that the WDA is contemplating tries to encourage a creative trade through the rigid confines of bureaucracy: form an agency to create jobs that are self-fulfilling but may have little impact or relevance to the way hawker fare is crafted and enjoyed.
Food preparation involves risk and skills. The argument that disadvantaged people and the disabled can find jobs in
hawking or hawker centres ignores the physical risks of boiling broth and water, fire, sharp objects, swift reflexes and tight working spaces.
The Government should leave well alone some aspects of entrepreneurship and creativity.
It should do what it does best, which is to govern with broad guidelines and lots of patience and understanding.
Not all who excel in what they do best should study or be certified for their skills.
Philip Kwek





Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Down Days Are Invasive

Some days are simply dull, invasive, uninteresting and down ...

Do you find that some days everything seems incorrect
The trains are down, the buses are late, the flowers fade and the favourite laksa tastes bland
That the body is weak and the bones are aching
There seem so much to do yet you cannot pen anything worth reading nor meaningful

When every phone calls go unanswered or engaged
When the cellphone seems to to be spoilt and without incoming sms  
Where have all the urgent calls gone to
The vast network seems to have terminated your number

I am tired and sick
Down with severe running nose and aches

It's not just downtime, it's a complete knock out 


I hate to be sick
I hate it more when the biorhythms is low; a deadly combination
There are so much that I wanted to say but no one to listen
It's tired being a winner, a champion and a 'never say die' mentor

Tomorrow will be better
When I have fully recovered
I shall conquer new frontiers
I needed to move far ahead so that when I am down, I am still many paces ahead

My dream, my rainbow and my future
Are waiting to unfold
I shall be the butterfly amongst the flowers; sharing my beauty and my colours


Sunday, May 13, 2012

Changes Or Indifferences

While change is the only constant, many things did not change; it only gets bigger...

JPMorgan loss US$2bn in hedging, an instrument that was suppose to insulate, or hedge, against losses. Capitalism or laizze faire without care, responsibility and prudence, sprinkled with greed, is the perfect route to financial armageddon.

Rank Group, owner of Mecca Bingo, is the biggest casino operator in UK, It owns Gala Coral and Grosvenor Casinos, with a total of 58 casinos. Rank is owned by Malaysia's GuoCo Group; the rise of Asian touch in the West.

To prioritise your posts on FB, FB is testing a 'pay to post' scheme whereby your posts is made more visible if you pay; FB is laughing all the way to the bank.

If nudisism or naturalism has a champ, nobody can beat the Germans; a country where nudity is not about sex - its attitude.

A Dutch scientist experimented and engineered the avian flu virus and make it deadlier and easily spread through air; the experiment is funded by US Government. The World, aka human race, is nearer complete destruction with or without nukes. Why fund medical gamesmanship instead of channelling the funds to cancer research or other life threatening diseases?

When we change for the better, our well-being and living are a little further from absolute suffering.

Is there a basis for the disquietness, unhappiness, discontent and challenges that Singaporeans are experiencing lately or were these fanned by anti-establishment movements? Or is this called 'political awakening'?
Generally, as in most countries in the world, citizens are apolitical. They go about their daily lives and living in a clockwork, peaceful and routine manner. The catalyst of the/an awakening, if any, is almost always economics.

In 2009, the elderly suicide rate per 100,000 for men was 28.7 & women 19. It takes more than bravery and silliness to commit suicide and preventive measures must be taken; it must not be seen as an easy way out to ease dependency.

Changes or indifferences? 

The World is getting smaller and more explosive. The majority who, if suffers in silence, are the tsunamic force that will change the world; not that they love anarchy but they need to survive - and to carry on their daily, peaceful routine.

The rich cannot lives in a sea of poor!

Change cannot be acutely sudden; its like anger ... a letter before Danger. You can ignore the pleas for change and the screams of pain. But, it will never be the same again when change finally comes, not by choice but by circumstances.

When the Earth rocks, the Ocean swings ... and live will never be the same again! Dinosaurs can attest to this.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

I Was Once A Foreigner


From the rough Southern China coastal town, I boarded a junk for my journey into the future
An unknown future 我的明天 filled with uncertainty, danger and opportunity 危机
A three months journey into the unknown except destination was some distant land in the Southern shore下南洋

I left my motherland, a poor pauper
But, not leaving was never a choice; its between famine, poverty and the deep blue sea
I may starved and drown; I may find new shores - that's enough motivation for me to board the broken junk to journey into the unknown with hopes shining brighter than the summer sun

The journey was harsh, food was scarce and water rare
If there was a chance to die, this was it! But, the intention was to survive not to die
Dying or 'to die' 生死由天 was not in the dictionary; we escaped from the clutch of death to prosper not to perish大难不死必有后福

南洋 the southern seas was a sea of hope

I toiled and toiled; it was sweat and tears
Every cents saved was remitted to my home town to feed the dearest at home
Distance and loneliness did not break my spirit; its not about survival, its about prosperity

Nobody will risk their life just to survive; for that you need not leave home

Swiftly prosperity sweeps in and a new era begins
There is always hope if you survive; waiting to die is more trying than finding the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow
Nobody can be any smarter nor wiser to believe the World will end because it just won't

Don't, and never, give up

I was once a foreigner in the newfoundland
Today, I am the Kapitan, the indigenous, the founder ... in my own dreamland

I make my bed and lie on it; You have a choice