Our shared stories

Dear Boys,

You dad’s friend, Uncle Adrian has been very kind to feature this blog on his posts. You see he was making a list of Dad Bloggers in Singapore and you dad happened to be one of them.

I know what this blog is for, you boys can read it when you are much older (perhaps sooner than later!). Getting attention is the last thing on my list, yes, it is still on my list. You can find out more about Dad bloggers from his post http://adriantan.com.sg/the-ultimate-list-of-daddy-bloggers-in-singapore/

Just out of curiosity, I went to see what the other Dad Bloggers are about, by far, hands down, without going into details, the rest of the guys beat this blog hands down. They have better graphics, pictures, more colours, more interesting stories too!

I also saw that a number of them put very nice family photos, kiddos and all. I blog with none of the both of your being pictorially exposed. I write about you both, I tell stories about the both of you, but I want none of your pictures in my posts. Well, at least not your most current pictures.


Perhaps it was a protective nature for me, as your dad, you boys are entitled your privacy, you both are young now, and wouldn’t know if it is the best thing for your pictures to be in the internet, and attract attention and consequences that we least expected.

Well, maybe I’m being a little paranoid, what could happen? At best, good vibes, people recognizes the both of you, and you boys attract and enjoyed a decent following. Or otherwise! The bottom line is as your dad, I cannot assume that in pasting your picture all over the net, is in your best interest. You boys deserve your privacy, and perhaps when you are old enough to decide, you can decide if you want all these attention, until then I as your dad, will decide that you boys will have the privacy to grow at your own pace.

Sparing the rod

Source from Google

Source from Google

Dear boys,

I’ve spared the rod, a few months back, did I spoil the child?

Frankly, I don’t think so, to begin with, looking back, it was not the wisest thing to do, caning you boys for the mistakes you both made, and of course the mischief you boys do.

The use of the rod has long outlived its purpose, and the reason I continued to use it is that I hadn’t found another method to replace it. Admittedly, it is somewhat like an addiction. And since it worked so well before, it will continue to work well now and into the future,when in reality it has long outlived its usefulness.

To be honest, your dad then was too immature to handle the 2 of you. It was a dark learning process for all of us. When I wield the cane, the rage compliments the pain it dispense, unfortunately you both bear much of the brunt. And now looking back, much of the caning was quite unnecessary, uncalled for. I just didn’t have enough patience wisdom and good in between my ears to handle your misdeeds appropriately.

Everything that should happen the way it should happen, on hindsight, that is where regret resides. But I justified it shallowly by saying, my parents cane me and I turned out alright! I fell victim to the ‘spare the rod, and spoil the child!’ Argument, and defended using the rod, since i was part of its indoctrination, so I’d indoctrinate my kiddos the same why, it didn’t hurt me that much, and it sure as hell will not hurt my kiddos more that it hurt me, but the truth is, it hurts me having to resort to caning.

There is a better way than this.

Using the cane, honestly limits me. Limits my options to educate and teach you decently. In defense of using the rod, every problem becomes a nail because the only tool I got was a hammer. Any misbehavior will almost always result in the cane being deployed. And I justified it with shallow reasons every time, while that little voice in me tells me otherwise. ‘There is a better way than this.

There is indeed a better way to do this, but it requires a lot more patience, love, understanding, time and more patience, love, understanding and time. I have to find ways to educate the both of you on what was done wrong, what needs to be done right, and how the punishment needs to be met. There is a lot more reasoning involved, and while I do lose my temper due to the insolence of you both, I screamed and threatened, but never spanked again.

So did the earlier days of spanking helped made the both of you the way you are today? I do think so, as I’d like to see things in a positive perspective, no matter how dark it was before. I just feel that the spanking was a little too much, too overdue.

The beauty of you boys are your innocence, right now as we walked forward, and putting those caning days further and further in the past, I can see that you both are just as sensible and mischievous as before, I honestly do not expect the both of you to forget those emotionally heavy and intense days of being caned. I hope I hadn’t cane you both so badly to become emotionally scarred by the experience. And from the looks of it, no, you boys remembered the caning but no in a horrified ways. For that I’m thankful that both of you are resilient in such manner.

When you boys have kiddos of your own, I hope I’ll still be around to tell you how unnecessary it is to cane them. I hope I’ll live long enough not to protect them from your caning, but to protect you from your children’s mischief. And when you have to punish them for their misdeeds, let’s do it together, in a much more mature and novel way, sans the cane.

Leaving a Legacy


Dear Boys,

Joel’s Ah gong did one heck of a job with his garden. He took an empty piece of land and turned it into a little oasis that everyone can enjoy.

More importantly, he has build something to be left as a legacy. All of us will leave something behind when we die, the question is the what we leave behind. As your parents the biggest legacy I have and will continue when I die is the both of you, this is the most direct form of legacy. You will continue my genes, my stories and carry on my history. you will tell you children(if you plan to have children) about my stories, and your children(if your children plan to have children) will tell their children about my stories and yours. Legacies usually goes from word of mouth to word of mouth.

Sometimes having a legacy means that you leave your work undone, for people to continue. Work can be large or small. Mr Lee Kuan Yew left us the entire country as his legacy for us to continue, that is a monumental task!. For Joel’s Grandpa, his garden will be his legacy.

The pond.. where little fishes swims

It is a beautiful piece of work, and it is all him, he got the land from his Resident’s Committee, did the planting, and segregation, there is a little pond, some chilies plants, there is a small corner for cactus and it is all well spaced out. It is a simple piece of joy to walk in it and it will be a spot for everyone to enjoy! He is still working on it and every little plant and flower has been touched by his green hands.

Of course, he couldn’t have done it alone. But if he hadn’t started something, then other people can’t follow. His garden draws fellow gardeners there, to help him, and also to work and make the garden nicer.


And gardening is a never-ending job, if you do it well, it can go on and on. There are constant challenges, in making sure the plants are watered, pests, kept at bay. When the plants bear fruits, you can distribute it to the community. when plants whiter and die, you grow new ones. and when Joel’s Grandpa dies, his garden will continue and someone has to take over the task. To keep up the good work. and when people look at how magnificent the garden is, they will remember the person who first bring about its fruition.

We will also remember him, because he has given us place that we can enjoy.

In the year 2065

Dear boys,

Our Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong  talked about the next 50 years of Singapore lately. And I sat that afternoon at the Esplanade Outdoor Theatre having my packed lunch, and I wondered how much will remain 50 years from now.

Singapore as a country that is constantly changing. The Singapore in the 90s will be very different from the Singapore, now, and it will be different again 10 years from now. We, as a country is the best example of the evolutionary principle. We got strong, remain strong through constant self imposed change. Long before things need to be replaced, we’ve already replaced them.

My Lunch at Esplanade Open Theater Anyway, while I sat down to have my lunch, I looked at the Esplanade Bridge, it was build in 1997. That means the bridge is 18 years old. And will it still stands 50 years from now? Will the building, One Raffles Place still stands? Will the CBD still looks like the CBD 50 years down the road?

I will be 89 then, your mum 87, Ian will be 60? And Wayne, a ripe young, 57! So many things will happen that has yet to happen.

During my time, my generation of Singaporeans grow up listening to rather staid stories about how we were founded by Sir Stamford Raffles, and the fable of how a prince lost his way in a storm and saw a Lion (there was never a record of that magnificent beast in Singapore!) and named our island ‘Singapura’, we also hear a lot of our pioneering generations’ struggles, racial riots, world war 2, and other stories that will probably become tales and fables 50 years from now.

More importantly, boys, tell stories of your own, there will be many more challenges ahead, many more social events, there might be another world war, there might be other calamities, there may be other social political unrest, revolutions,  and other events, these are stories that will make up your life. Tell these stories to your kiddos, tell them like how I tell you, because our heritage will be passed on from mouth to mouth, stories we tell our kids are the stories of our nation.

Writing carefully, writing slowly

"this is about writing, and writing carefully"

Dear boys,

I hope you pick up your dad’s interest in writing. Long before there is such convenience as iPads, and other forms of ‘writing’, it is a pen and paper world, for your dad, it still is, no this is not about penmanship, this is about writing, and writing carefully.

This is important because when we say something, wrong, we can quickly say another thing to correct the error, and in a conversation, which is usually fluid, and interactive, micro corrections and errors are made all the time, perceptions and opinions tested, exchanged and argued. White lies and jokes and shared, which is the staple of an open, casual, cordial banter.

Where as for words, written, is another story altogether. When written down, what a person say can last a long time, and used over and over again, for different context and for different agenda. Sometimes the original reason for what was written, is no longer applicable, the written phrase has long outlived its purpose, it will still be used for other context and conversation.

I’m not so concerned with what is written ‘right’, I’m more concerned with what is written wrongly, it can be costly, it can come back and bite you in the near future.

I think I picked up this habit of writing carefully when I was working in the banking side. Inter-department feud happens all the time and emails are basically e-missiles you send to your fellow colleagues from the offending department to defend your stand. So you have to write your emails carefully and word it in such a manner that you don’t get the blame, and your butt is covered.

Sometimes is can be a complain case from customers and the relevant department would want to find out what went wrong, more often than not, they could be trying to find an un-noticing victim to shift the blame to. Well, that’s some of the realities of your dad’ s work. It is a chair-borne commando’s life.

So the gist of it is, I sometimes will drop whatever I’m doing to write an email, taking up to the entire morning, word them carefully, cover all grounds, all possible arguments, loop holes are covered. At the same time shifting the problem back, making sure that my department gets out of any potential melee relatively unscathed. There are things in the email conversations that are not consistent and that is where your dad zoom in bite that poor bloke and pin him/her to the fault. It is a bureaucratic minefield and while you lay your mines and others lay theirs, the last thing you want is to be killed by your own mines!

It perhaps trained me to think and write, in a responsible manner, a readable manner, avoiding blind side bias, and sometimes plain sighted ones! Things that I’m not so sure about, I’ll try to avoid putting them in word, things that I have a certain authority in, I’ll still have my disclaimer, simply because you can never know enough to know everything. And everyone’s perspective and experience is unique and different, so we can never be so sure.

In a conversation, that’s pretty much fine, in a friendly banter, our mutually unique experiences rubs off one another, be very careful, writing things down, it may seem innocent now, but may turn out to hurt other very much later.

Remember, what is written is recorded, you may write a secret dirty little journal that you think may never see the light of day, and think that others may never know about, can be leaked. When it does, you better be prepared for the consequences!

this is about writing, and writing carefully.

Wayne’s weird question

Dear Wayne,

One evening for dinner, you asked us “Why is kor kor first and I’m second?”

Wow, the question seems so ‘duh’ yet we are kind of stumped as to finding the right answer.

You see life isn’t really about queuing up, it is more like it happened first, that’s why it is first! Time is linear, yet somewhat random. If you happen to come first, which in reality you never will, you will be the kor kor and you will be subjected to a different set of experiences compare to your time now as a di di.

Perhaps to put this in perspective, you didn’t come second, you came at your own time, your elder brother came at his own time as well. There is a timing which will take time to happen, in a sweeping statement, life’s like that!


The job decision that saved my life. A true story.

by Greg Savage on June 30, 2015 in Recruitment

In February 1942, Lieutenant Ron Savage, my father, of the British Royal Artillery, was captured by the Japanese Army as a result of the disastrous defeat and surrender of the British forces in Singapore.

Thereafter began three years of the most horrendous privation, torture and brutality in Changi POW Camp, from which only a tiny fraction of his friends and fellow soldiers ever emerged alive.

But this blog is not about that dark period of human history. It’s about how a hiring decision lead to my existence on this earth.

Ron was badly injured in the Fall of Singapore, his leg hanging by a thread. So he was shipped off to hospital at first. That sounds all right, but he was sent to the British Military Hospital, Singapore, where on 14th February 1942, the 18th division of the Japanese imperial Army rushed into the wards and operating theatres and bayoneted a total of 250 patients and staff members. Luckily for Ron, before they could repeat their brutalities in his ward, an officer ordered them to assemble in the Hospital grounds, but not before a group of soldiers had taunted and tortured him by pulling on his traction ropes.

But he survived and spend 6 month recovering on a stretcher in a Changi hut, with injured mates on either side. Roy Cross to the left. Tubby Allen to the right.

And what to do in this hell-hole but to fantasise about what they would do when the war was over?

Ron Savage 1946 (on left)

Roy was of the view that Africa was the future. His father had a business in South Africa, and he suggested Ron join him after the war for a new life in sunny southern climes. Tubby believed in Asia, particularly Malaya, where he saw a post-war rubber boom. He wanted Ron to join him in Perak and start a rubber plantation.

They talked and talked. But, Ron revealed to me later, that they never really believed they would outlive Changi, so it was a distraction more than anything.

Incredibly, all three survived the War.

Ron returned to London, where his East End neighborhood had been flattened, the country was in ruins and under rationing, and the future looked bleak.

While considering his options, a telegram arrived from Roy Cross. “Come to Johannesburg. Job waiting.” A week later Tubby was in touch “Got job in Malaya. Spot here for you. Come at once.

Ron knew Europe was not for him. He was as proud an Englishman that ever walked this earth, and had literally given blood for the cause, but it was time for a new life.

But he had two firm job offers. What to do?

Remember no Internet those days. No ‘research’. Just gut feel and go!

He talked to parents and friends, and decided he would go to the pub for one last think. Blitz bombing had devastated the area around Forest Gate where he grew up, so he caught a bus into the West End of London.

He was joined by a few mates, and the conversation raged. South Africa or Malaya? Which job should he take?

In the end it was agreed. A coin toss! At the pub! Decision to be made there and then.

And indeed when the coin came down heads, South Africa, Ron left the pub, went home and began to pack.

And I am glad he did. Because the next year he met my Mum in Johannesburg, and moved to Cape Town where my three siblings and I were born, and grew up.

Thanks Ron. A great Dad who took a job on a coin toss, and changed his life. And never, ever looked back.

Today 30th June is Ron’s Birthday. Had he not long-since passed away, he would have been 97 years old, today.

RIP Dad.

Reposted with kind permission from Mr Greg Savage.

You can catch more of his posts at: http://gregsavage.com.au