Sunday, May 20, 2012

What To Do In HK - An Expat-Tempore List

A friend asked E@L to suggest some things for a buddy to do while he was in Hong Kong. E@L has no idea how long, if not forever, his buddy would be there.

This prompted a quick thought and an even quicker burst of the automatic writing that E@L used to think he used to be infamous for... Gods of Blog Spontaneity be damned, there has been quite a bit of editing from the original e-mail, for obsfucational clarificational purposes in the vain hope of making it more understandable/coherent.

This means that while there are still plenty of errors, distortions, misrepresentations, exaggerations and arguably hypocritical opinions and comments in this list - not to mention geographical fuck-up - E@L holds these truths be evidence of his experiences there.

E@L apologizes in advance to local experts and tourist-guides for making the wrong call on so many things, but this is how he remembers it... Many of the local bloggers would scoff at and deride E@L for this superficial list, but as they don't follow him anyway, eh, who really cares?


Hey friend, person of ill-repute,

An embarrassingly incomplete list of gwailo/tourist things to do in Hong Kong for your buddy - not in any order. Choose any four.

The Peak - make sure it is clear weather (i.e. winter) or forget it. This time of year, dodgy. Take the funicular tram up. It is steep, about 45deg. Goes past my old place. If you want to have a baby, Matilda Hospital up here has the best views of anywhere on the island.

Walking/Jogging Path - Bowen Rd path on Midlevels (where I used to live - merely coincidence that my first two recommendations are for nearby). There is a 4km track level path straight across the hills above Wanchai to Causeway Bay. Goes past the enormous mansion of Feng Shui master guy who earned (cough!) billions from "eccentric heiress" (batshit crazy rich bitch) Nina Wang by a) telling her where she should put his water spout to best effect, and b) forging her will. Great story there, someone should write a novel. About 0.5km along, climb up to look at Lover's Rock. Rock, yeah, right, bit of mis-spelling there. But first, look down over the fence to see if the heroin addict guy who tends the rock still lives there. Keep an eye out for some little statues and joss sticks every now and then along the path. Forest gods, IKYN. The jogging path around The Peak is also nice (when the weather is clear!!!)

ICC building - The 100th floor viewing platform on the big fucking building over Kowloon MRT (118 stories!) Same weather warning. When it is clear you can see the other big fucking building (IFC2) quite well from here. My buddy Spike, former Wanchai Vortex (tm) surfer and now camera geek, has taken some great nighttime pictures of HK, btw.

South African Food (wtf?) - The Stoep on Cheung Sha beach Lantau island is something of a hazing ritual for tourists / new recruits. The lamb shanks, what can I say? There might be time for this after checking out the Big Buddha. Ditto warnings with the weather.

Hong Kong fishing village restaurants - There are plenty, all equally toxic exotic. Lamma island or Cheung Chau island. The Lamma one needs you to walk a bit (or you can if you want... not 100% on this?). Get the scallops with garlic - sorry I mean garlic with scallops. Also razor clams. (And WTF are those giant penis things?) Haven't had cholera there for years now. Nah, seriously, great food. You're more likely to get ill eating in your hotel.

Junk Trip - absolutely a must - you get seasick easily? This is the ride for you! They're all good. Take a bunch of buddies of course, these are communal affairs, plus it's affordable if you share.

Swimming - Are you crazy? Head out to Tai Long Wan beach way out past Sai Kung (take the junk trip!) if you want to avoid the majority of the shipping lane effluent.

Crap "Local" Food - Lan Kwai Fong's Rat Alley is famous for its... rats. Seriously. Unbelievably bad, yet popular, like most blockbuster movies. A favorite for back-packers and poorly paid F.I.L.T.H.

Sai Kung - well worth a visit while you're at it, as you can take a long hike to Tai Long Wan as well, if you are feeling suicidal in this heat. Or jump across to play golf on Kau Sai Chau - bring plenty of balls, it can swallow three per hole, easy. (This is not a metaphor, or do I mean not a double entrendre?)

Stanley Market - the most amazing part of this trip is the ride on the No 6X bus. Take the top deck and sit at the very front. Your worst roller coaster ride will seem dull after this. Some things are OK in the market, but a market is a market is a market. Buy books, if you must, at the Dymocks [if it is still there] that I was going to set up before I came to Singapore.

Portugese Food (wtf?) - ferry to Macau, tell the taxi driver "Fernandos" - it's on the arse end of the other island, Coloane, past the Venetian. You'll get just as good if not better chicken and potatoes in town but, hey, you're a gwailo, a tourist, you have no common sense.

Chinese Noodles, etc... - the first place you come to anywhere is bound to be brilliant. OK try the Honolulu Coffee Shop in Stanley St near Lan Kwai Fong. Recommended by insert name of common friend. Unlike many of the eateries in this great former British colony [founded by and for heartless drug-runners] they have an English menu.

Dim Sum - man I love this Cantonese junk food. Noisy and very noisy are your choices for restaurants. Everybody likes the ancient, sullen aunties and their steaming trollies at the City Hall in Central, where the Star Ferry and Queens pier used to be... (gone, sad.) Get there before 10 or you're screwed. Not the best, but hey, you're a tourist! [Most locally patronized yum cha places are upstairs in mold-scarred buildings that certainly don't look like restaurants from the outside. They are gate-kept at the bottom of the stairs by harsh women who speak into tiny microphones and never tell you anything. No, no English, what were you thinking! Even your Cantonese friends are scared of these women.]

Spa/Massage Parlour - the only legit spa/massage place that I know the expats go to is Sunny Paradise, in Lockhart Rd conveniently. At least that is where it used to be. Get a pork bun or two. This is not a metaphor.

Hiking - weather permitting, must walk the Dragon's Back on HK island. It's not a hard climb - steps all the way, great views (what did I say about weather?) and bring water, it's frackin' hot this time of year. Finish at Shek O and eat and drink (you'll need a San Mig or fifteen - bottle only, never can) at the Thai/Chinese restaurant there on the left of the carpark as you enter, an excellent gwailo tradition best upheld in the partaking.

Sleazy Fat Old Men - No visit to Asia is complete without checking out the sex-tourism - oh that's right, these are local expats, not tourists. Ah, Wanchai... (eyes go dreamy...) Want to see some feeeelthy old expats leering at local (Philippines is nearby, right?) girls? Try the Old China Hand on Lockhart Rd, there or the new Queen Victoria Pub a few bars up. However, while these are "normal" bars, yet somehow the genuine girly/stripper, feel-my-tits if you buy-me-drink bars, or the meet-market clubs at Laguna and Fenwicks along this strip seem somehow less sleazy than these two places. [Say hello to Bruce and E@L while you are there... Sleazy is fine if you are drunk, and who isn't drunk in Wanchai?] If you pass the girly bars early in the evening, you will see (and smell) mamasan burning Monopoly money and joss-sticks in an orison for a good night.

Legit Wanchai - right next to the girly bars and sleazy old men joints are some nice bars and restaurants. Do not eat at the American Chinese Restaurant - it's another gwailo tradition to mock it. Good rock music at Amazonia. Free mike night at The Wanch. Dance on the bar at Carnegies. Have a whisey at The Stag. Have a 3am 4am kebab at Ebeneezers.

3rd Gen Entertainment - in the hills above the tourist crowd in LKF on pissing up on Friday night, you will find Wyndham St, now the Friday night piss-up place for Execs and bankers-wankers. Don't expect Cantonese to be spoken here. Eat somewhere near Staunton St, up The Escalator (note the capitals) to SOHO (south of Hollywood Rd). Around here [E@L is too old to have ever found out where, exactly] locally born but still expat (3rd Gen) brats hang at bars, or so I believe. Walk all the way down to Jaspa's Restaurant, don't eat there FFS, and turn right. There are some tiny makeshift bars here, not far at all away from the great unwashed tourists. Don't expect English.

"Real" Hong Kong - anywhere, just not near Wanchai, LKF, Central or TST.

"Antiques" - walk along Hollywood Rd under the escalator and order antiques to your exact specifications. Interestingly, some of these places do sell genuine antiques. Those antique porcelain horses which look like they have been sprayed with mud, are really brand-new plaster horses that have been sprayed with mud. If they have these in the windows, move on.

The Dark Side - (Tsim Sha Tsui - TST) - high tea at The Peninsula (book now). Dinner of brilliant Indian somewhere in Chunking Mansions on Nathan Rd. Do not buy cameras in this area though (head back to Stanley St in LKF). After dinner drinks at the Wooloomooloo bar at The One on Nathan/Granville/Carnavon Rd, just up a bit. Awesome views at night (weather permitting), but closes at midnight. Spend lots.

More Beaches - Past Repulse Bay (get off the 6A or 260 bus on the way back from Stanley and walk or taxi the 2km down to South Bay Beach. Gay friendly, which means all the homophobic obnoxious gwailos steer clear - you're comfortable with your sexuality, yeah? Drink four million Coronas under the faded umbrellas in the restaurant above the change rooms - just grab the beers from the fridge yourself or you'll die of thirst. Make sure you shower if you go swimming. The water in the beach is relatively OK (shudder, for HK) but the shower is nice place to make new friends.

That is all - too much already, yeah? Geez, I miss Hong Kong.




Saturday, May 19, 2012


Promise to write something soon. In Bangkok, had enough of "ping pong" and "open bottle" shows, and with a respite from the hectic Singapore social life, there may be plenty of opportunity to pen a piece or two. If this gastro would ease up. (French Bistro on Soi 11.)

But then again I promised to turn the Bruce parts into an ebook (done fuck all.)

Also I promised to lose more weight (stable at about 117kgs).

I put this on my FB page, from the NYT (there would be nothing to blog about without the NYT, as they say). For those three of you not also on my FB, this is funny in case you weren't aware. 5555, as we type in Thailand. But it flies into the wind of tragedy as well.


Monday, May 07, 2012


The term koro is presumed to derive from the word 'kura' which means turtle in the Malay language (see below), they say. Turtleneck sweaters, Turtleneck penis...

Oh my god, that woman has stolen my penis! Oh my god, that swine fever injection is causing my penis to retract back in to my body and rumour has it that such a disturbing symptom will kill me!

The Great Singapore Penis Panic! Saw a small (ha ha) book about this in Kinokuniya yesterday, nearly bought it but, you know, I was concerned that the cashier girls might look at me in a strange and knowing way.

In 1967, hundreds of men in Singapore were rushing to hospital clutching their wedding tackle, holding it firmly, as you do, with pegs and weights to prevent death from disappearing dong. There was a rumor circulated by a local paper the the meat from a vaccinated pig was causing this unusual complaint.

It was penis panic! It was cock consternation all across the nation! It was schlong schlorting! It was wang worry! It was attribute anxiety! It was horn hysteria! It was missing member! It was prick perturbation! It was dick dismay. It was wiener [pronounced 'veener'] vanishing. It was… etc, etc…


Mass hysteria? Mass panic? Yes. OK, maybe.

The social psychology of 'epidemic' koro.

Bartholomew RE.


Flinders University of South Australia.


The few isolated reports of individual koro exhibit a symptomatology indicative of major psychiatric conditions (ie. psychosis or affective disorder), and appear unrelated to collective episodes which involve social, cultural, cognitive and physiological factors in the diffusion of koro-related beliefs. Yet, koro 'epidemics' continue to be viewed as exemplifying mass psychopathology or irrationality. An examination of the similarities between koro 'outbreaks' and a sub-category of behaviour which has been loosely labeled as 'mass hysteria', suggests an alternative, non-psychopathological explanation. In reclassifying 'epidemic' koro as a collective misperception rather than a culture-bound syndrome, it is argued that koro is a rational attempt at problem-solving which involves conformity dynamics, perceptual fallibility and the local acceptance of koro-associated folk realities, which are capable of explaining such episodes as normal within any given population.

Pub Med


Ah, love you Google: found a good review of the prick problem at If you don't want to follow the link here is the text:


[commence plagiarism]

May 27 2006
The Great Koro Epidemic of 1967

Posted by budak

In the year 1967, Singapore was gripped by the fear of shrinking organs, an incident that has enterred the casebooks of psychiatric medical history. (Warning: risque content!)
While trawling the net for entirely innocent factoids, I came across this footnote of local history known as The Great Koro Epidemic of 1967.

Koro is a mental condition in which men become obsessed with their penis (err…. doesn’t this happen all the time?), believing it to be afflicted by shrinkage with the ultimate result of retraction into the body. Some sources cite a role in Chinese metaphysical beliefs, where abnormal sexual acts (visiting prostitutes, masturbation or nocturnal emissions) disturb the yin-yang balance, leading to a loss of the yang (or male) force with accompanying consequences on key organs.

Apparently, countless Singapore men were afflicted with a raging delusion that their penises were shrinking and retracting into the body, a fate which causes mass panic and mortal anxiety. This phenomenon, known as Koro, arose following press reports of Koro cases due to the consumption of pork from a pig that had been inoculated against swine fever. Needless to say, pork sellers had a bad year. The coy headline of the Straits Times on 5 Nov 1967 (A Strange Malady Hits Singapore Men) gave little indication of the true girth of the problem.

Professor Kua Ee Heok of the Department of Psychological Medicine, National University of Singapore, in his monograph, Transcultural Psychiatry, has this to say of Koro:

“Koro refers to a syndrome, which has for its central theme a fear of death due to the person’s conviction that his penis is shrinking into the abdomen. The panic-stricken man often clutches on to his penis with bewildered spouse and relatives assisting. The term koro is thought to derive from the Malay word kura which means “tortoise” – the symbolic meaning is that the penile retraction is compared with the retraction of the head of the tortoise into its shell. The syndrome in traditional Chinese medicine is known as suo-yang, which literally means shrinkage of the male sexual organ. In women it may take the form of retraction of the vulval labia or nipple.

Koro is often viewed as a form of panic disorder with the symptom-complex of fear of penile retraction and impending death, palpitations, sweating, breathlessness and paraesthesia. The factors, which contribute to the occurrence of koro, include beliefs and attitudes pertaining to sexuality. A common Chinese belief is that the loss of semen weakens the body, and loss of yang occurs with masturbation and nocturnal emission. The loss of semen through sexual excesses is thought in traditional Chinese belief to lead to fatal ill-health. Personality traits associated with koro have been described as nervous temperament, suggestibility, sensitivity and immaturity.”

Dr. Kua also cites a report in the Singapore Medical Journal (1963, 4, 119-121) in which Dr. Gwee AL, describes a Koro case involving a male Chinese aged 34, seen on 24 March 1956.

“He was at a cinema show when he felt the need to micturate. He went out to the latrine in the foyer and, as he was easing himself, he felt a sudden loss of feeling in the genital region, and straightaway, the thought occurred to him that he was going to get penile retraction. Sure enough, he soon noticed that he penis was getting shorter. Intensely alarmed, he held on to his penis with his right hand and shouted for help, which however was not forthcoming as the latrine was deserted during the show. He felt cold in the limbs, and was weak all over, and his legs gave way under him. So he sat down on the floor, all this time holding on to his penis. About half an hour later, the attack abated.”

Dr. Gwee also authored a later study (in the Singapore Medical Journal 1969, 10, 234-242) about the 1967 epidemic, which affected over 500 persons. From this report, Kua notes the following sociological background to the outbreak: “ …before the outbreak of the epidemic, there was concern about chickens being injected with oestrogen to increase their growth. Some men were afraid that the oestrogen in the chicken would cause gynaecomastia and avoided chicken meat. At about the same time, there was a rumour that contaminated pork was being sold on the market and that diseased pigs were being inoculated against swine fever. This triggered off the epidemic and a possible explanation of the outbreak is that the inoculation of the pigs was seen to be similar to the injection of chickens with oestrogen.”

It was also noted that the epidemic “subsided rapidly after reassurance and explanation from the doctors through television, radio and newspaper.”

Chris Buckle of the University of Ottawa, highlights the Singapore Koro Epidemic in his study entitled: A Conceptual History of Koro.

“In July 1967, all swine in the country were inoculated with an anti-swine fever vaccine. It was an event that brought much public concern and considerable media attention.

On October 29, 1967, rumors began to circulate that the consumption of this inoculated pork was causing men’s genitalia to retract. It is unknown how, why or where in Singapore the rumors began. However, there is some evidence that the kosher Malays were blamed for the event, an accusation in line with the background of racial tension that plagued Singapore in the nineteen sixties. While this idea was not described in the government controlled Chinese or English language media, personal accounts do give it credence.

On October 30th a small Chinese language paper reported that “people developed koro after eating the meat of pigs inoculated with anti-swine fever vaccine”. A few days later, the same paper reported that an inoculated pig had died from penile retraction.”

Within the week, public hospitals were seeing hundreds of koro patients, and Buckle notes that no statistics exist for the presumably high number of individuals who were treated by family or traditional Chinese physicians. It was reported that “men resorted to clamps, pegs, and even weights to ensure that their tackle remained in its rightful place.”

Reflecting perhaps the high degree of public trust in state bodies in those good old days, koro cases increase exponentially following a statement by the then-Ministry of Primary Production (now AVA) that “emphatically denied rumors of pork contamination.” Buckle writes that as a result, “an alarmed Ministry of National Development issued an immediate statement claiming that ‘no one in Singapore need worry over the safety of pork from pigs slaughtered at the government abattoir where every carcass is carefully examined and stamped as fit for human consumption before they are released to the market’”.

The outbreak subsided after press statements by the Singapore Medical Association that “koro is a culturally determined form of emotional ill-health affecting primarily the Chinese…the present incidence of koro is essentially due to fear and rumors which have no foundation”. Meanwhile, advertisements for Australian pork began to appear in the papers. The Chinese-language Nanyang also reported that a man in the ministry of production had apologised for comments about the link between the swine vaccine and koro. The final nail on koro’s coffin came with the televised statement of the Deputy Director of Medical Services, Dr. Lim Guan Ho, who stressed that koro “is only a disease of the mind and the victim requires no medical treatment at all.”

I wonder if any readers of sufficient seniority might have recollections (not necessarily of personal encounters with koro though) of this incident??



Many Japanese and Korean men look down, search, and then shrug. They're used to it.


Friday, May 04, 2012


His Personalised Employment Pass lasted for 5 years. It gave E@L, well, 5 years of hassle-free residence in The Little Red Dot (TLRD {aka: DWTDP}). It was not Permanent Residence (PR) but, hey, no need to pay 15% of his salary into a lame-arse, opaque investment, Gov't superannuation scheme, viz: the Community Provident Fund (CPF). But he does pay about $50 more for a game of golf (GOG) than a PR would.

No, with this PEP E@L could stay in TLRD for an extra six months after any termination of employment (as if they'd let him go!) in order to seek an equivalent fat package from one of the other big players in the field (not including Philips, burned his bridges there). Otherwise it would be only a month before a visa run would be required, and an apartment in Surat Thani secured.

OK, it's cool, E@L is in a BigCompany(tm) these days, his preferred employer swallowed yet again Jonah-like into the belly of some fresh corporate beast. And that size company means an efficient human resources (HR) department that will sort it all out, right? *wobbles hand*~~~ish...

Ah, no-no-no! An eight storey building, all one company, right? Right? Wrong. Each division is a separate entity with its own HR. Only 45 people in our sub-company. One lady doing it all. Sigh. Corporations these days, what can you do?

Yet E@L's PEP was on the cusp of expiring. He had until Friday.

Our lone HR lady had faxed the paperwork to the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) three weeks ago. We all figured it was going through the internal machinery; chuffa-luffeling through those pipes behind the walls; turning under the power of springs and cogs; sucked up by singing vacuums; whirring dizzily through the typewriters; faxes and teletext machines, concentrated on by bespectacled men in suits in Dickensian offices; with cowering amanuenses scribbling down the wisdom of great men's opinions on the suitability of foreign talent (FT) these days; photocopied here and there; stamped by officials with their square Chinese name stamps and their round Chinese company stamps; initialed by execs; digitalisised [sic] and whisked as fast as electrons into databases and random access memories (RAM) (And then, one day, I got in!); glowing on tri-colored crystal displays; duly filed and uploaded; dutifully backed-up; emailed and copied to all; archived; printed; stored; checked and sorted; all done and approved.

Just waiting for the call.



On Wednesday, still no news. E@L was at the ANZAC dawn service (no, shamefully, he was fast asleep) and hence late for work. The HR lady and E@L's office manager (OM) had been checking online for his application's progress through the MOM and thought it rather ... strange ... disconcerting ... that there was no record of E@L's application at the MOM's on-line, check your status, don't bother us we're busy, information site.

"We can't get in, to check the progress. There is no record of your application having been filed," they (HR lady and OM) told him as he placed his kopi (upsize, still warm, carried all the way from Tampines Central Mall) on his office desk. He stood erect, his fists on the desk in front of him, looking sternly over his still-slightly fogged (aircon -> 100% humidity -> air-con) sunglasses. He tried to look like a bigwig who was going to say something serious. HR lady was fidgety. She was apologetic and looking awkward. Perhaps she was worried than E@L would be upset. Mmmm, thought E@L, and HR lady waited, turning her head slightly side to side, (she's not from the sub-continent), dancing from foot to foot...

"Mmmm", said E@L. "Without that employment pass (EP) I'm grounded, work-wise, right?" She nodded. Thinks: OK, that's it, down tools, work finished, no visa, no more slaving over a hot tablet playing Words With Friends in the office. He'd have to do that all that tuff stuff by the pool at E@LGHQ instead.

"Whatever," shrugged E@L. It sounded a good deal to him, as he repacked his man-bag with Samsung 7.7 Tab (new toy, not really happy, font-size too small), his Kindle, reading glasses and a fifth of bourbon. "Let me know."

"Ah, no, you can still work, at least until Friday. I am sure we can get a 30 day extension. But you will have to go online to cancel your current PEP." That might, she said, sort out the some issues, like with overstaying his visa. But he needed a SingPass.

A what?

He needed to register and obtain a password (forgotten it already) that will allow him to access the government's many sites that are interactive, where official things can be, um, interacted with. Like cancelling PEPs for example. He took an hour off and wandered to the CPF building where he could check in with a little old lady (LOL) at the SingPass desk to obtain this on-line avatar. FIN (no idea) number of his PEP, passport sighted and a new password (he has so many different passwords - not, he has two and no idea which this one is) was on its way. She looked up, smiled, and said he could now log-in and bring down the structure of the entire electronic edifice of Singapore should he so desire. Or just cancel his PEP.

Back to the office and puts fresh kopi, upsize, on the desk. Log-ins. Follow instructions, as printed out by HR lady.

"There is no record of an application for a replacement EP. Please enter a valid reason for PEP cancellation," said the computer screen. Valid reasons? E@L has not finished his contract of employment and leaving the country. He has not lost his PEP. He is not pregnant. WTF?

Mmm. Back to paragraph one.

What to do? If nothing came through by Friday, E@L would become an "overstayer" and essentially a criminal in the eyes of Singapore's notoriously forgiving uncompromising judiciary. The fine? The cane? The noose? Even worse, his BigCompany(tm) could get fined, and they don't want that says HR lady. And E@L would have a black mark on his passport for sure. Overstaying is not an option. Must get an extension or do that visa run on Friday.

Travel-wise, (for work) even with an extension, temporarily, he is screwed. He'd have to hand over the current (expired) PEP at outmigration and come back in on the white entry form for a maximum of 3 months of doing nothing - on a tourist visa - as no work is allowed (unless you are run by a snake-head in orchard Towers or Geylang). Work-wise, maybe some gardening coming up.

PR lady and OM were on the phone all day (well, three or four calls) and kept getting no help at all from the MOM Help Center. Eventually someone twigged that the PEP work visa renewals are done manually - there was none of the above-spoofed electronic complexity. Further investigations showed that the file was sitting in someone's in-tray. Had been for weeks. And today was that person's day off. IKYN.


E@L was on the web almost instantly seeking a solution to this devastating dilemma. It was a terrible situation, the world was falling down around his ears, and all other senses and body-parts related to his head. OMG! E@L was in a frantic panic!

He had to make an urgent decision! Book a flight for Phuket or Hua Hin? Maybe Koh Samui. Bali? Cebu? How could he decide at short notice? Either that or skip to the Malaysian border at the causeway, hand in his PEP card, as mentioned, play a GOG (so much cheaper than as a non-PR in Singapore), fill in a white tourist form, as mentioned, and all would cool. Except work.


Eventually, early Thursday, HR lady got through to the hyper-efficient doofus at the MOM (in this country which is a paragon and bench-mark of efficiency world-wide) who had overlooked the urgency of E@L's PEP application. He, for only a man could fuck things up as grandly and as casually as this, banged a few contact points on his keyboard and the required information was officially in progress.

This meant E@L could go in to MOM (in person) on Friday and pick up the Temporary 30 Day Extension for both his work visa and something for the immigration people.

(Sigh. E@L had been planning to work from "home" on Friday. He had organized with some friends to head to Marina Bay Gold Club (MBGC) for an expensive GOG first thing in the morning! Cancelled now!)

OM went with him. Appointment was in the afternoon. He could have played the GOG after all!

Look at all fancy chairs for the staff, said OM. E@L thought they looked like Aerons, certainly something Hermann Millerish. OM tells E@L that the enormous amount of money (from PR and citzens' CPF no doubt) spent last year on seats for bums was quite controversial at the time. They are Hermann Millers. E@L paid more for a non-Miller. Damn.

Temporary visa notes handed over quite quickly by another LOL, no smile this time, but E@L wondered if those comfy chairs were not part of the problem. He knows that lazing back on them is immensely, emotionally soothing (he had lazed, emotionally soothed, amazed, on Aeron chairs in the Philips office in Hong Kong all those years ago). Had Mr Paperwork-In-In-tray been asleep? Maybe, like E@L, he was internally retired.


Notification of approval of his work pass came through this Thursday, 6 days after the PEP period ended, a month after the application was submitted. The PEP was, as E@L mentioned in para one, a 5 year pass. It turns out that this can only be given once. It has to be replaced (if the application is accepted) by a conventional EP.

This time E@L was only granted a 1 year EP? WTF? He will have to go through this again in 12 months. It's almost like Singapore doesn't want E@L to stay!


Perhaps he should apply for PR to avoid this threatened annual thing?

While one of E@L's buddies, who is essentially a pauper, was denied, several of E@L's better paid buddies have been granted PR easily. A few years ago this was. They walked into PR-hood as if MOM was giving away quasi-citizenship with MacDonald's Happy Meals at that time.

But he it is getting harder and harder to obtain PR these days, despite the Gahmen's own recommendations that more and more FT and PR are required up for a declining population (or to make more kids?). And not unsurprisingly there continues to be quite a controversy (nicely understated by mrbrown) about dilution of the Singaporean population and its (Chinese?) identity.

(This is not a Singapore-only debate. World-wide, easing of immigration laws thanks to the need of corporations [those who truly run the world, not governments] in globalization campaigns for easy flow of workers, has led to increasing conflicts, calls for isolationism and a sometimes vicious backlash against those who support immigration. These attitudes are prevalent in Australia too [a nation of genocidal immigrants], where refugees on leaky boats are hassled and turned back, and where Pauline Hanson gets elected to State Parliament?)

Anyway, EP or PR, it gets complicated.


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