Love Nest

New age new age. The man is flogging deco now. Weddings, funerals, proposals, dumpings. You name it. We'll sort it out. All for a price of course.

Click HERE.

Barberboard Confessional

I had a hair cut today. It was a normal routine. Once a month haircut which totally went against my astute principles. Principle being that you shouldn't fix what's not broke. Something the people at work try their best to smash against the brick wall daily spewing crap like "How could we have done this better", but that's a story for a thesis and not a post. Everytime I go for a haircut, a part of me dies. Be it the hidden lice only I can find [or imagine] or that last follicle screaming bloody murder.

Today, I had my hair cut by the quietest of the 3 who ply their trade at the shop. My usual dude was busy trying to figure out what the balding guy meant by "cut short". Stopping short of donning magnifying glasses, he busied himself with all the tools of his trade. He even had time for a neck rub, all in the vain bid to convince the customer his hair was not only short, it was close to negligent and thank you for the 8 bucks [yes sirree, it still costs 8 here. but people I know still feel the need to lie that they're students to lower it down to 6 dungas]

My usual dude always makes me feel like it was the Reverend Paul Mitchell [reverend cos some regard the art work as a religion]. He had this demeanor. This artist like way of moving about. Sliding on the balls of his feet. Whoosh-ing air outa the way. His blades were Ginsu knives. Thing is, he never ever said anything or did anything to make it obvious that he was apparently some artistik genius marooned in a fluorescent tube lighted HDB shophouse. But it was something. It was the atmosphere. The aura if you will.

Today, the dude who cut me spoke "no Engrish". So I had to show him how "duan" I needed my fringe to be. Unknown to me and most of the people I'm surrounded by day to day, this important component of any hair cut apparently dangled down to the lips. I did feel something smacking me on the nose during my runs this week, but I deferred it to God's presence in notifying me I had a fat nose and something needed to be done about it. [apparently, simply NOT facing straight on in photos wasn't going to cut the trick]

A few strokes and snips later, I realized I knew this guy who was butchering barbering my hair. It was me. At first he started with a poise that was usual of anyone attacking a new mop of untended pasture brought to their attention. Soon, I noticed that his comb-ended strokes began to take on a rhythm of monotony. How monotony had a rhythm, you only have to imagine. It was going on this way for a coupla minutes [thankfully he was at the top of my head which doesn't matter to the overall fash hag mag look].

Then suddenly he stopped short and caught himself like my angel fish realizing that brown speck was the fighting fish's excrement and not food flakes. He took charge of the situation. He pondered a split second as to why he had allowed himself to be lulled into this "same shit different head" dream/nightmare. He grabbed hold of himself. Looked again at the objective, the tools he needed to achieve it and went for it out of instinct. He repaired his earlier mis-managed but "not wrong" cuts. He decided to put his personal signature on it.

The instant I saw what was playing out like a dark drama at The SubStation, I knew this was not a guy who sweat the small stuff. [to all engrish xxxperts: does sweat have a past tense?]. I knew he was going to give me the best cut I ever had in record time. He didn't need to bandy about and exhibit haute couture style. He knew what he had to do. And he would just go ahead and do it. Some times along the way, he'd fall into this chasm. This abyss that makes him conform to what everyone was doing. That monotony. But he was gonna break out of it. Sooner or later. Be it when it pricked him enough that he had to get the tattooist to stop. Or when he heard a polyphonic SMS tone that shocked him so hard, he nearly slit his customer's throat [yours truly].

"Whenever there is a hard job to be done I assign it to a lazy man; he is sure to find an easy way of doing it.” - Walter Chrysler

A demain.

Pay Donald Tsang

HONG KONG - FACED with public uproar over the high salaries of new political appointees, the Hong Kong government says competitive pay is necessary to nurture political talent.

In an effort to attract 'capable and enthusiastic candidates', Chief Executive Donald Tsang last month announced the creation of 17 government posts - eight deputy ministers and nine political assistants.

What Mr Tsang did not expect was the public furore which was to follow.

He has been criticized for providing vague job descriptions for the new appointees. The only thing he has made clear is that they will help to improve accountability and efficiency.

The government has also found itself caught in a public row over the new appointees' 'fat pay packets'.

After initially refusing to disclose salaries, citing their right to privacy, Mr Tsang last week gave in to public pressure and revealed the salaries being paid, but not who gets what.

The monthly pay for the deputy ministers is between HK$208,680 (S$36,400) and HK$223,585.

The political assistants' pay is between HK$134,150 and HK$163,960 a month.

Liberal Party chief James Tien was one of many who questioned whether some of the new appointees offered value for money.

The youngest appointee, Mr Paul Chan, 28, who has been appointed political assistant to the Health Secretary, has drawn the most attention.

His new salary, at no less than HK$134,150, is a sharp rise from his previous monthly pay package as a research assistant and part-time lecturer, estimated to be in the range of HK$20,000 to HK$30,000.

'In the civil service, it is not unusual for someone aged about 30 to have reached the rank of senior administrative officer,' the director of the Chief Executive's Office, Mr Norman Chan, told the South China Morning Post.

Mr Tsang says the public service has to offer competitive salaries in order to attract new talent.

Some political experts agree, saying that Hong Kong's ageing legislature - 24 out of 60 lawmakers are over 60 years old - needs new political talent to stay relevant.

Former senior government officials have also weighed in.

The government 'got off on the wrong foot' when it initially refused to disclose the salaries, said former treasury secretary John Chan, according to media reports.

'Even listed companies have to disclose the remuneration packages of management.'

In another embarrassment for the administration, some of the new appointees have come under fire for holding dual citizenship.

Under Hong Kong law, foreigners can 'serve as public servants... at all levels', save in a few specified posts.

Faced with public outrage for being 'unpatriotic', five deputy ministers who held dual citizenship gave up their foreign passports.

Former civil service minister Joseph Wong said the controversy was a dose of political reality for the new appointees.

'What is lawful may not be right politically. Politics is politics. It's never a privacy or a legal issue,' he said.

In a column in the South China Morning Post, Mr Wong wrote: 'Yours is a political job. And political sensitivity and ability are what you have to demonstrate to win respect, inside and outside the government.'

A comparison of the monthly salaries of some current officials and those of new appointees:

* Chief Executive Donald Tsang: HK$334,758 (S$58,400)
* Financial Secretary John Tsang: HK$298,333
* Legislative Council president Rita Fan: HK$130,526
* New deputy ministers: HK$208,680 to HK$223,585
* New political assistants, including Paul Chan: HK$134,150 to HK$163,960

This article was first published in The Straits Times on June 7, 2008.

A long time coming, this reprint, but where have we seen this all before? But no present day government has ever pulled off having a dud post called "Minister without Portfolio" with dud full ministerial pay. Still observe how far off the HK post-raised salaries are in comparison to our esteemed and royal-blood-coursing-through-veins politicians.

As I asked an astute cabbie once: "Lim Boon Heng chor simi lan?". His reply: "Chor bo lan lor!". Nuff said.