KOPIKIA Hokkien for "coffee boy", meaning the waiter at a kopi tiam, dressed in the archetypal singlet (or t-shirt advertising either Guinness Stout or Tiger Beer), shorts, slippers and ABC waistpouch. Often used by Singaporean parents as a warning."You don't study hard, you sure become kopi kia one!" adapted from Coxford Singlish Dictionary

Friday, July 21, 2006

1 year is just the beginning.
5 years later and it is not the end.

1 year is where I find me.
5 years will I lose me?

1 year where I lost you.
5 years will I find you(again)?

1 year is how long its been.
5 years is perhaps more appropriate?

1 year was too fast.
5 years will it be low?

1 year is how long it has been.
5 years will I still be waiting?

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

All he could hear were the brisk "claking" of his leather shoes, reverberating in the corridor. The lights are out. His family is asleep, as usual. Shuffling through his keys, he finds the right one and opens the metal door. He is home. A quick shower later, he goes to bed. The night is late, tomorrow is another day. All thoughts are fleeting, because he is fast asleep.

He wakes up in the morning. Brushes his teeth, shaves, dresses and styles his hair. Shuffling thorugh his keys, he finds the right one and opens the metal door. He rushes out of the door. Bye Dad. Mum is still asleep. The morning is late and many people are on the way. All he could hear were the brisk "clacking" of his leather shoes, reverberating in the corridor. Was he home?

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Currently reading Richard Layard's "Happiness". An economist's take on happiness, done through the lenses of economics with reference to philosophy and psychology. Nothing suits my taste for empiricism more.

Check out this interview. Toy for Christmas 2006, things like this may completely change the entire industry. Finally, a console that focuses on the way a game plays rather than the way a game looks.

Saturday, May 13, 2006


Sent to me by a good friend of mine. Decided to put down my email reply below in case anyone is interested in kopikia's political views.

First off, this 17 yr old's writing puts me into eternal shame. That is closely followed by his worldliness and precocious sense of morality.

Just some thoughts about this and response to your earlier email. What he mentioned is not new to me. During the time of my masters, one thing that struck me was the pragmatism of our govt. At that time, it was the MFA, but now as i am in the civil service myself, pragmatism is indeed a trademark.

Pragmatism vs idealism is the age old debate. I would guess that like me, you too faced similar struggles trying to decide on a stand. I still remember when i did my intro to international relations class. The only thing that it really taught me was that i am a realist at heart. Foreign policy IS truly about the convergence of interest. Examples of such abound. Hence, i'd take his comments about Singapore's pragmatism or ruthlessness with a pinch of salt.

In a way, we can see it as the tragedy of the commons. If every nation out there were to stick to the universal ideals, the world would indeed be a much better place. But reality is such that he who exercises his ideals will be the first to be seen and treated as the sucker. The collective set up is such that everyone ends up protecting their own interest. Singapore is no exception, and if anything, our vulnerability only amplifies the need to be pragmatic. I can agree what he says about the long term implications of our selfishness vis-a-vis our neighbours, but I am sceptical if such goodwill will indeed be reciprocated.

Put it this way. Human systems and institutions are forged upon certainty and predicatability. Just as the entire traffic system is built upon the fundamental tenet that everyone stops at red, the attractiveness of acting on interest is that it is predictable. One can safely assume that the other parties will act in the same way, just as one can safely assume that that other car will stop at the red to let one pass. Ideals on the other hand, are too nebulous and varied to yield any sustainibilty.

Having said all this, I agree with the author's comments about this pragmatism being exercised on our own nation buidling efforts. People are one people not because they happen to reside on the piece of land. A nation is built both upon physical land and within the hearts of its people. The government has done an exemplary job on the former and apparently, the reason that got us there - calculative and precise pragmatism, is compromising efforts on buidling the latter.

And this reminds me of a thought i had while watching the election results. Just before the election results were out, i was contemplating going down to a potong pasir or hougang coffee shop. I can only regret that i did not make the effort to do it. According to my friend who was there, when Chiam was announced the winner, the entire potong pasir was in a rapturous uproar. In his words, it was as if Potong Pasir won the World Cup. Having heard this, i cannot help feeling quietly envious. My estate, Bishan, is a great place to live in. But, it will always remain an estate - it is a place where i happen stay in. Relocate me somewhere else and give me the same physical facilities, i would not have noticed the difference. But i am sure when potong pasir residents move out, it will be different. When Chiam won, it was as if Potong Pasir won. There was the common cause that united. There was the common "adversary" (quotes because I really think it is improper to label the PAP as an adversary). Another good example was the christmas 2 years ago. I wasn't there but based on my other friend, Hougang had its own festive lights and decoration, a strong contrast to the PAP wards around. Fortunately, hearts can be won this way. Unfortunately, hearts can be won this way.

The question that the current administration has been tackling, and will still be tackling, is how to win the hearts of the people. Feeding us, they have done a spectacular job. But affairs of the heart are always more complex. While many may despise the Progress Package to be a blatant bribe, i suspect many are happy and have willingly voted in favor of more progress packages to come.

To frame the situation in another way, the govt has been running itself so well that it can afford to give out progress packages. It can be seen as a more direct way of reminding people the good work it has done. People will always find it hard to appreiciate the comfortable and cheap public transport, the security to be out at night, the equal educational opportunities for everyone. The progress package is but a timely reminder.

I apologize if at this point, i am merely babbling and regurgitating cliched statements. In a way, it shows the cul-de-sac that i have run into. I too crave for a more pluralistic society. But at the same time, i like the current stability and efficiency. To me, the first thing a good government must do is to create an environment in which its people's efforts and enterprise are duly rewarded. Pragmatism and its better sounding cousin, meritocracy has ensured that. The next step of having a civil society -- i look forward to that too. Looking at the way things are going, it is forthcoming. We need only be patient and continue to stay vigilant and inquiring. The fruits of the govt's education policy will be evident soon as the voters become more discerning. Hopefully, by then, we have new leaders amongst our midst who understand the need to buidl the nation on land and in the hearts of the people.

On a side note, i thank you for your cautionary advice on Gomez. I just read an article the other day which raised the example of Philippines -- that Arroyo's recent vote rigging debacle only weakened the electoral system and directly attacked the roots of democratic ideal in the country. I shudder at the thought of what if the electoral office didn't have that cctv video.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006


The sceptre of CFA beckons. I have yet to start and the panic button has been pressed. Please don't let me fail this.

Found a great people watching spot. Nothing complements mind-numbing study sessions than having lots of interesting characters around to admire.

Acceptance is the key to moving on. Perhaps I am reaching the time of life where one has to slowly accept reality - like the fact that running is increasingly harsh on my physique (or lack thereof).

Kindness if what I seek. And kindness is what I have found. But should there be more?

Weddings are incredible at stirring the sappy mood. One sappy slide show was all it took to arouse all the memories, which promptly toggled all self-defence mechanisms. The cynic scoffs, the rational rebukes, the ego suppresses, the diplomat smiles. The emotional is beaten into submission, back to the little, cold compartment.

Now I worry. Maybe I may one day become a cynical, emotionally jaded and suppressed individual, where rationality sets in to embrace reality all too well. I do not want to get to that extreme.

It seems that everyone plays this little game with reality every now and then. It seems to be a human tendency to try to cheat the system, only to realize that reality is a mean master. It never forgives and it will always catch up.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

More stories of the X

X Files Chapter 1
My subconscious has acquired the fine art of implied irony. So I slept with a full stomach one night. Given my peculiar system, I know I would have a nightmare. I dreamt that I had patched back with the X. Days were good, as they were before. In the dream, my current and present existence would be a nightmare. Interestingly, it was just a dream. I will have to come back to reality. And I did, which made the whole incident a nightmare. Very clever, my sub-consciousness.

X Files Chapter 2
On the day which would have been the 10th year anniversary (it reads too long already), I had a dinner with a fellow friend, after which she brought me to a "surprise" place for drinks. Turned out that it was some nice pub on Mt Faber. I took in the view at night, overseeing Sentosa bridge and the World Trade Center (of what used to be. I still recognize it in its previous form). It was THE view.

And then the irony dawned upon me. 10 years ago, on the very same day, the X and I were on that same bridge, where the all too cliched romantic sunset sealed the relationship. It was such a memorable day that we decided to coin it the start of the wonderful relationship. To think that I will be reminiscing it exactly 10 years later, when it has ended. The interesting thing is, my friend didn't know that it was the 10th year. Neither did she know that the entire relationship was born on Sentosa bridge. I didn't know where we were going. And I had never been onto Mt Faber. And even if I knew all these, I would not have predicted what I would see when on top of Mt Faber. Neither would I have predicted that 10-year-ago Celine Dion song playing at the moment of realization. Someone upstairs has a twisted sense of humor. But I did laugh. It WAS funny after all. Haha.

Do not ask me about the friend bring me up to Mt Faber for drinks. That is an entirely different story to be told at a more expeditous time.

X Files 3
So I missed the chance to see the X because I forgot about a primary school friend's wedding yesterday. All the better since I didn't feel particularly inclined to see the X. Apparently, I was still shaken by the sheer mention of X in the sms message i received from our mutual friend. This is an intriguing state of affairs considering that I am at the stage where it is all plastic - it is truly over, i.e. even given a chance, the X and I will not get back together or so I say now). Puzzled and annoyed at my own response of being shaken, I finally figured the reason this morning on the way to work -- I wish that the X will be happy, but not too happy. Nothing better than a dichotomy to disturb the placidity.

X files 4
So i decided. The relationship didn't fail. The relationship ended. I still thank the X for not leaving the room for regret. It was great. And when good times end, we move on.

To the X: You're Beautful

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Another sleepless night. It is all beginning to feel futile. This may never end. Perhaps there is a limit to how much one can deceive oneself. But still I say, it was the best 9 years of my life. Give me a choice to go back in time and I would have still chose the same road, hopefully wiser. But life is never about living in yesterday, and it never will. Dreams, memories and sleepless nights - they all pay homage to what was once true, what is still true. But pray let me move on. I want to be able to sleep again.