Sunday, December 31, 2017

My 2017

I haven’t written anything for many weeks. This is mostly because I’ve been rather overwhelmed by the volume of work I’ve had have to handle.

This past year, it’s been almost like “all work, nothing else.”

After science textbook translation work, I had a surprise phone call in early February from a client company that had been quiet for a few years. At this moment, this project of a new production line became my project too, and it’s still going on and expected to last at least a few more months.

In June, I had a meeting with a representative of a Japanese insurance company that was setting up its business in Singapore. And this project materialized in August with an agreement signed and, as I believe, I started working on the first file in the following month. For the first many weeks, I was dealing with Dr. Huebner, father of insurance education, and his works, mainly “Life Insurance” and “The Economics of Life Insurance.” I also encountered trouble about the 2000 speech by Csaba Sziklai, “The Power of Advocacy.” I eventually had to obtain the original speech CD, in which even the MC of the event couldn’t pronounce his name correctly. Huebner and Sziklai required me to do much research. About this project, I still have two files to finish.

And there were a few jobs to which I had to say “No” because of these commitments.

Overall, 2017 has been a year of work, allowing me to recover some money which I lost because of that idiot.

And this year made me realize how little people remember me as well as how little I remember them.

About books, the only new book I read was “The Lost Crusade: America in Vietnam” by Chester L. Cooper. Others were those I had read once or many times before, like books authored by Kondo Koichi, Kaiko Takeshi, Fredrik Logevall (Embers of War: The Fall of an Empire) and David Halberstam (The Best and the Brightest), all about the 1st/2nd Vietnam (Indochina) Wars.

Now my wish is to visit Saigon again (and Hanoi) late January or early February because it will be the 50th anniversary of the Tet Offensive.
Where are you, Lessie? I'm looking for you. Shame on you.

Thursday, September 14, 2017

"The Fall of An Empire" to "The Lost Cruside" and "The Best and Brightest"

A no work day. I continued to read "The Lost Crusade: America in Vietnam" by Chester Copper, published in 1970. Mentioned in "Embers of War: The Fall of An Empire and the Making of America's Vietnam" by Frederik Logeval, the book is another fountain of knowledge about the war. Now, LBJ announced his decision not to seek another term. Cooper tells me there were secret French (with Henry Kissinger as a principal actor)/Polish/Romanian channels for talks between the US and North Vietnam, all of which failed. Depending on the work volume I may have tomorrow, I should be able to finish this book and take up, after so many years, "The Best and Brightest (1972)" by David Halberstam.
Where are you, Lessie? I'm looking for you. Shame on you.

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Lies and Fabrications of Korean Claims

In 1939, the Japanese Government adopted a policy to "allow" its CITIZENS of Korean origin to change their names. And many adopted names which sounded more Japanese voluntarily, without questioning the policy. It was simply more convenient for them to have "Japanese" names. (See "Under the Black Umbrella: Voices from Colonial Korea" by Hildi Kang) Later, this policy started being denounced by many as they claim it was intended to destroy/erase/eliminate the Korean culture.
Now, we see so many Asians, including Koreans and, of course, Singaporeans, who, for their daily lives and business transactions, adopted "Western" names which are inseparably linked to Christianity, when many of them are not Christian.
The logic is the same. Those Koreans adopted Japanese names not because they were forced to but because doing so was convenient.
In the same vein, some say Japan tried to kill the Korean language. "In fact, from 1930 on, Koreans could vote in hangul (Korean script). Equally interesting, Koreans had the right to run for office in the Lower House in the 1930s and 1940s." (See "The Japanese Colonial Legacy in Korea 1910-1945: A New Perspective" by George Akita and Brandon Palmer) Though the Governor General of Korea "was constantly strapped for cash and operated with an ever-increasing debt,... [a] curious budgetary item was 48,000 yen for encouragement for the Korean language" out of the 1940 budget of 564,657,000 yen (id.).

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Feeling Certainly Happy but Also Having Mixed Feeling

Last night, I came back home rather late after work and dinner and beer, and found an MOM email, notifying me of their approval (another 12 months) of my EP renewal application
Feeling certainly happy but also  having mixed feeling.
If I'm not mistaken, I was given 24, 36 and 36 months for my first three EP applications, and the last one of last year, only 12 months. The 12-month renewal shocked me greatly, but another 12 months this time around I'm accepting much more calmly.
The only difference between this application and the previous one and two appeals for it is the montly salary which I increased by more than 50%. It makes me wonder if this government is aware of the resentment their attitude may be creating among the types if foreigners they used to welcome and now try not to accept into this country. They seemed to have segmented foreigners into several categories and in my case I may belong to the one which they least welcome. I'm not eligible for applying an "S Pass" as the company is so tiny and it has no quota for it. I wish it could because it would be so much easier.

Saturday, August 19, 2017

Additional Documents Submitted

Tonight (18th), I submitted the additional documents requested by MOM. I also gave them those testimonials I had got from clients though the ministry may just ignore them, along with the recent invoices and letters of intent NOT from local companies, which they didn't request me to provide.
I could have submitted the documents a day earlier if the SingPost man had come to the door to pass me a contract sent by registered mail, which certainly should be included among the documents. (I went to SingPost's Upp Thomson branch in the neighborhood to collect it and spent more than an hour to scan and convert each one of the pages today.)
My largest concern is that my company has not paid any income tax before. as shown in the corporate tax assessments submitted. But this is because of the big loss made by the predecessor IT company year after year. My own company lost money only in one financial year in its existence.
Now, I think I did all I could do and am even relaxed somehow, having sent all those pages of the documents to MOM.
If the decision by the ministry is still negative despite all of these efforts of mine, I'll really have to get ready to pack up and leave. In any case, I don't think I have much love toward this country.

Friday, August 11, 2017

Very Unhealthy State of Mind

Yesterday, I found an email from the ministry requesting me to submit additional documents. But I had no strength to log into its website to see what documents they were requesting until this afternoon. They are requesting, not surprisingly, financial documents, personal and corporate. A good sign in a sense because it shows there is still possibility. But I'm feeling really exhausted with this. This is like my business being controlled by the ministry. I need help from my accountant to prepare some of the requested documents. She didn't reply my message today. Perhaps she is on holiday... Time is running out.
I've being feeling this way almost constantly for the past two years since my Ultra C attempt, which ended up in spectacular failure. This extremely anxious feeling with shallow breathing and the heart wildly beating. Getting drunk seems the only way to ease it. H E L P.

Thursday, August 03, 2017

Another, Perhaps Final, Attempt to Keep My Company Alive

Yesterday, I received yet another reply from the ministry advising me to apply for a visa renewal, not to make another appeal to the rejected application. This afternoon, with my fingers shaking and sweaty, I typed all necessary information and the ministry's website accepted my renewal application with a pay increase of more than 50%.
I almost feel humiliated as I've been saying "Please" so many times. This country used to welcome capable foreigners with its meritocracy. Now, it seems welcomed now are wealthy foreigners.
In any case, I can only wait for the result once again.

Monday, July 31, 2017

No Strength Today to Move It Forward or Witness Its Death

This morning, I received a reply from the ministry. It was just a message to ask me for more information. I admit that my inquiry was hastily written IN SHOCK and didn't contain much information. I surely thought of responding to the message with more details. But I had no strength to log in to the ministry's website and find the shocking messages.
Tomorrow, I really should experience the shock again and send more information to the ministry, desperately hoping they will re-consider their decision
The only things I managed to do were to go the bank to deposit a cheque for a refund from the insurance company and read more pages of "Viet Nam Senki." And to get drunk.

Sunday, July 30, 2017

The Ministry of Fear

This fear of having to leave here is probably at its highest with me having found yesterday that the ministry would accept no more appeal. I am absolutely happy to leave this country if I have a clear idea as to where I can/should go next. And though I have some emotional attachment to this place, it is rather shallow now, given the kind of treatment I've received from the ministry.
As soon as I found their rejection to accept another appeal from me, I sent an email to them asking them to give me just another chance. But how many more times am I willing to say, "Please"?
In the meantime, my feeling toward Sai Gon is growing, again. Tonight, I found a photo of "Q Cafe" uploaded by someone, a traveler. I frequented Q Cafe during my stay in the city for dinner and drink in 2008. I may plan to visit the city once again though I though there would be no more trip there last October.
I even re-read a Kaiko Takeshi book about the Vietnam War ("Sai Gon no Jujika") and re-started another by him ("Viet Nam Senki").
I would love to visit (even stay at) some of the places which Graham Greene, Kondo Koichi and Kaiko Takeshi mention in their works. (I know what Pham Ngu Lao has become.)The

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Work in Senai/Yishun and No MOM Reply

Work in Senai (20 and 21) and Yishun (24 and 25).
This work which I got involved in last February has been going up and down like a roller coaster. One step up and two down. Then this has also been a good experience to me, witnessing how a project of setting up a new production line can be like.
Yesterday's afternoon meeting, lasting from 14:30 to 19:00, was especially tense with the discussion being tough and even rough. It seems nobody was happy at the end of it.

No reply from MOM to my second appeal.
My mind can be very disrupted because of another episode of this kind but I can also be calm when I feel that I've probably done enough in this country and, if I really have to leave, I should be prepared for the final negative outcome. Then, I must say I'd like to leave here only with me the only person who decide to do so. It should not be because I am forced to do so by someone who should have no say in my business.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Can Anybody Solve This EP Mystery?

A mystery about EP: the minimum monthly wage qualified to apply for an EP is S$3,600, which is not very high. Then, I saw a comment posted on the web by someone with a monthly salary of S$7,000 whose application had been rejected. How many EP holders are still out there with S$3,600. What kind of jobs do they have?

Last Night at Sara's

Last night, I went to Sara's just to bring some junk food I had bought in Japan, and a few minutes after I sat down at the counter, a young man, an "Australian from Singapore" who "loves" Japan, started talking to me. I found him speaking in not the Australian accent, but he had more like an American one. Definitely not in the Singaporean accent. which I HATE. I found out long time ago that most Singaporeans would not mingle with people who don't speak their (ha! funny) way. They seem to be insisting that it's still English (or some kind of it, ha!). Is this because their inferiority complex? This international city-state is international only on the surface. Nice talk with the young man last night. I appreciate his love for my country. He also says, "Silly" when I mentioned my visa problem. I agreed.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Singapore's MOM Intent On Closing Down My Business? (2)

Given what I went through last year, I knew this was coming. From the moment I received the notice that told me of the successful appeal last August to this day, I've been living in fear with no good idea about any way to keep both my company and myself alive. And work kept coming in. After two years of rather "quiet' business, the sales volume is going to increase by 90% or even more for this FY, compared with the last. Keeping myself busy has been a distraction from the fear.
Yes, the company can survive as it now has my good Singaporean friend as a director. But where should I go? I can imagine returning to and living in my own country can be tough, even daunting. I would age quickly and get smaller and smaller there. The environment of "all Japan" would kill me.
I've been having this feeling of delight, strange it may be to others, being in the minority or being a foreigner.
Looking at Japan from outside, it seems to me very closed and exclusive at personal level. It seems like so, definitely because of my experience of having worked with people from many different countries with myself being a foreigner. I can say with confidence I love my home country. But it would be another story if I have to live there. The Japan I find on short business trips is so lovely.
Right now, my thought channel is very much clogged preventing me even trying to think clearly. The only thing I know is I must kick myself, not standing still, come up with a workable idea and act quick With this clogged mind, I don't know how I can.

Singapore's MOM Intent on Closing Down My Business?

As I had fully expected, my appeal was rejected by MOM. I have yet to check to see if a second appeal is allowed.
Is MOM really forcing me to close down my company and leave the country? If so, I must wonder whatever right this ministry has to shut down a private and 100% Singaporean company. The ministry should be aware that refusing to renew my EP application would lead to a forced demise of my tiny company.
This is not only about the company. It is also about my own career and, yes, life. MOM doesn't seem to care about these. But what could I expect of a government ministry?
The rules have been tightened further and further. I understand their intention is to protect jobs/wages of the citizens. But am I stealing anybody's job? Then, I ask how many Singaporeans are working as a translator/interpreter, especially of the Japanese language. How many Singaporean are wishing to be one, in the first place? If any, how many of them are capable of handling the language?
I would be happy if I could find a Singaporean who could manage the work as good as or better than I do. But where is the person?
Rather, I believe I am helping the country create job opportunities for them as I've translated financial documents of Japanese companies required to set up local entities, which would inevitably hire local staff. And some of my clients come to me because my company is located in this country. Closing down my business here also means a breach of trust for my clients, who have consistently chosen me as their preferred translator/interpreter.
Then, this may be really the definite end of so many things. Serious consequences could ensue
I think small business should be encouraged. Apparently, MOM has a different view..

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Job in Tuas South and Tokyo + Musashi-Kokubunji

For five days (3rd-7th), I worked in a place which I would 
call the end of Singapore (Tuas South). Tough commuting. 
Back to this place after five years. Happy to see the 
machine again. Things went okay for the job. 
I took the SQ638 midnight flight and arrived at Narita at 
around 8AM on Monday for a 3-day interpretation job in 
I had decided to go to Musashi-Kokubunji on the first day 
as I knew I would have plenty of free time.
I checked in the Sengakuji hotel first and started my trip 
to Nishi-Kokubunji.
Quite easy to go to Nishi-Kokubunji, but it was really 
tough to find the temple where Tatsumi-sensei is.
I began walking from the station, not very sure which way 
to go to the temple. I dropped by a small bank branch to 
ask the way. They misheard me. They needed some time to 
find the way, looking at many pages of the large area map, 
and gave me the way to the Kokubunji Hospital (!).
They spent some more time to find the Musashi-Kokubunji 
park, where the temple should reside.
Having Reached at the park (two parks, really), I found 
that it was vast and I would have to walk quite a distance 
to the temple. But I had only a rough idea about which way 
to go. After walking through the first park, I found the 
management office of the whole park, by this time drenched 
with sweat, and asked about the temple. They only showed me 
the map and didn’t know which way I should take. I 
continued to walk, trying to find the temple. Out of the 
second park (it was a small hill), I finally came to the 
Kokubunji Temple. Still not sure about the way to the grave 
of Tatsumi-sensei, I rang the bell of the temple. I was 
ushered to his grave.
Then, work. There were tough moments as I’d expected. But, 
I received commendation of “awesome,” “you are fantastic,” 
and “you did a wonderful job.” I appreciate every support 
I got for this job in Tokyo.
Shame on you, Maria Lessie Flores.

Wednesday, July 05, 2017

Video of Comfort Women Discovered

それから、「comfort women」を日本が使った
euphemism」だと言いたいのか?Prostitutes or
sex slaves?

Thursday, June 29, 2017


The second half of June was like crazy. S$3,000 work confirmed
on 14th and delivered on 26th. Whole-day interpretation on 20-
22th in Johor and 23rd in Singapore worth more than S$2,400.
S$1,700 work confirmed on 15th and delivered on 29th. S$1,248
work confirmed and delivered on 29th.
My lawyer is apparently or obviously neglecting his duty to serve
Maria Lessie, how are you doing? Isn’t is tough for you to keep
hiding? How’s your mother doing?