Monday, 30 April 2012

Oscar Wilde The Controversial Playwright

                     Oscar Fingal O'Flahertie Wills Wilde (1854-1900)

The famed 19th Century Anglo-Irish writer Oscar Wilde, had been widely known as a poetic, talented, yet tragic playwright who was renowed for his poignancy and candour in his literary creations.

         Oscar Wilde and his male lover Lord Alfred "Bosie" Douglas

I was introduced into the world of Oscar Wilde at a young age simply because the writer targeted the teenage readers who were attaining puberty age, by addressing their adolescent problems, worries, and inhibitions, head on whilst describing his own experience when he first fell in love in his plays and poems. I must make it clear that I read most of his books in the translated Chinese text as Wilde was immensely popular and fabulous in the Chinese readers’ preferred list for the past one hundred over years. They even gave him a classic Chinese moniker: 王尔德 Wang Er De.  His two articles written in prose少年维特的烦恼 and 少年十五二十时 beguiled the growing age Chinese readers in particular.

Oscar Wilde (1854-1900) was a brilliant, scholarly savant at Oxford for his research studies on Classics of Aesthetics. To earn his upkeep after his medical doctor father’s death in 1876, (His mother was a novelist and a poet too) the prolific playwright wrote numerous stunning articles and plays right after his graduation. In 1882 he began his maiden tour to the US and Canada for a year’s lecture on Classics. It was supposed to be a 50-lecture tour over 4 months; but extended to 140 due to his popularity and fame. Oscar Wilde married Constance Lloyd two years later and together they had two sons, Cyril and Vyvyan. Four years younger than Oscar, Constance was proficient at few European languages, had an independent mind and was well-read.

          Oscar Wilde's tomb at Paris's Cimetiere-Pere-Lachaise graveyard

Soon Oscar found himself in deep trouble when his homosexual relationship with Alfred “Bosie” Douglas was made known to the public. His adverse reputation went further widespread when The Marquis of Queensberry, the father of Bosie accused him of being an immoral gay. Oscar Wide was subsequently arrested for gross indecency and was sentenced to two years of hard labour. His wife Constance left for Switzerland and Italy with his two children and changed her family name to “Holland”. Upon leaving the jail house Oscar had a short lived re-union with his homosexual lover Bosie Douglas but soon after they parted company. Oscar then left for his wondering final  years in Europe, mainly around Paris. His last distinguished work was “The Ballade of Reading Gaol”, in which he described the agony when he was incarcerated in prison.

Oscar Wilde's coloured statue at Merrion Square, Dublin, Ireland.    

By then most of his friends and contemporaries had deserted him for his notoriety, only Bertrand Russell stood above the crowd to defend him. Oscar Wilde died of meningitis in the year 1900 in a small, cheap, run down hotel room in Paris. He was buried at one of Paris’s public graveyard; a human sized statue of the Sphinx at the side of his tomb marked its prominence.


Some of Oscar Wilde’s works had been classified as immorally erotic during his inopportune time of Victorian era. They were incongruous to the society then. His sexual preference was deemed as heretic and unacceptable. He was also known as a narcissist.  Oscar Wilde was only vindicated when the British nation recognized his gusto and contribution in modern English literature by erecting his statue at Adelaide Street, a short distance from the busy Trafalgar Square, London. The statue was aptly named:  A conversation with Oscar Wilde. His famous quote was inscribed  there too: We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars.  With homosexuality widely accepted and practiced at this modern times, and no more a taboo, Oscar Wilde had now become a heroic icon amongst his revolutionary, sexual preferential followers.

 The Statue here at Adelaide Street, London is named "A Conversation with Oscar Wilde"

Alan CY Kok

Some of Oscar Wilde’s published works:
The Happy Prince
A Woman of No Importance
The Importance of Being Earnest
The Picture of Dorian Gray
The Ballade of Reading Gaol

His famous Quotes:

Men become old, but they never become good.

Nowadays married men live like bachelors, and
all the bachelors live like married men.

Women are meant to be loved, not to be understood.

The public has an insatiable curiosity to know everything,
except what’s worth knowing.

One should always be in love, that’s the reason one
should never marry.

But this is the best:

Young men want to be faithful and are not,
old men want to be faithless and cannot.

Monday, 23 April 2012

The Ignorant Branch Manager

A vibrantly energised looking sales team in a modern day corporation to face the ever challenging market

Sales Executive Aaron Sham rushed to his heavy machinery office an elated and excited man. He was rather exhilarated as he had successfully secured an order for 6 units of commercial trucks from an industrial client; it was an unyielding effort and toil as he had worked so hard now that it bore fruit finally. Knocking on the glass window of the branch manager’s office, he rushed in and placed the agreement to purchase order on his manager’s desk. Jimmy Tai, the 54 plus year old branch manager raised his head slowly from the newspaper he was browsing, said nonchalantly: “What’s up, Sham?”

Sometimes manager at the helm needs to be kicked at the ass so as to remind him the paradigm  of change

The young sales executive was in an immense spirit to tell his manager how difficult it was for him to wrestle the order of half a dozen trucks from other competitor brand names. Telling his senior that everything was in order as the pricing and discount pattern given was all accorded to company’s stringent guidelines; besides the company had the ready stocks of trucks to deliver. “Let me go through the documents and I’ll let you know regarding the vehicles’ allocation.” The branch manger answered coyly.

In the late afternoon before Aaron left the office for home, Jimmy Tai the sluggish and slow moving manager told him the bad news: “We can’t proceed with the order you collected. There will be no delivery unless the customer pays upfront before the vehicles’ registration.” A stunned Aaron Sham’s response was inexplicable as he turned pale on his facial expression. Still he managed to say what he wanted to tell; “but Boss, The customer is an internationally well-known corporation, specialized in sports goods. Their turnover is well above multi-billion every year. I have attached their company’s memorandum and article together with the agreement to purchase documents. Their brand name is Wilson Sporting Goods. I am sure payments will be ready within two weeks after the delivery date.” “Forget about the order, go look for new clients.” Jimmy Tai was adamant with his authority to overrule. “I have heard of Wilson Parking, not Wilson Sporting Goods. Unless you have the collection of the full purchase amount, otherwise I deem the order is your futile effort, null and void!” It seemed that recalcitrant Jimmy Tai was out to torment his sales staff.

 A sales consultant tried diligently to gain a sales over the phone

The next day Aaron Sham called the senior finance director of Wilson Sporting Goods Inc. Mr. Balan Maniam to tell him the bad news.

 “Well, your company refused to accept our good intention to have a business deal, there are scores of truck dealers out there very eager to sell to us. But don’t forget, the purchase order was issued and signed by me,  and your side wanted to back out unilaterally. We’ll proceed to sue your famous company for a hefty sum……” Obviously Mr Balan Maniam was not bemused.

"But Mr. Balan, you couldn't sue us as no money was paid when I collected the P.O. from you."

"Were you just born yesterday?" An angry Balan refuted and continued to say. "The terms and clauses are all stated in detail in the P.O. It is clearly stated there that payments will be ready within 30 days after delivery. By asking us to pay upfront before delivery is insinuating that we are a bad paymaster, and that equal a slander and an insult! Your company will hear from our solicitor pretty soon!"

A helpless Aaron was almost lost of words; but he came up with an amiable solution to save the sales. He gave Balan the direct line number of his senior general manager Mr. Teo Seng Leong. In the afternoon the two corporate big guns exchanged greetings and an agreement was reached over the phone. Teo SL promised to have the 6 trucks delivered to Wilson Sporting Goods Inc within a week, and Balan promptly agreed to have the cheque signed within a week after the delivery. Teo told Balan: “I got pissed off with that stubborn old mule Tai who’d never played any kind of sports to the point that he’d never heard of Wilson Sporting! He'd not kept up with time. For me, I played squash, tennis and golf. I am an avid customer of Wilson!” Soon after two of them were chatting like old buddies, with promise of meeting at the city’s premier golf club for a round of game.

                              A new truck waiting to be delivered

One week after the commercial trucks were delivered, general manager Teo invited Balan Maniam of Wilson Sporting Goods, and few of his staff to have a lunch at his HQ building’s penthouse restaurant. Aaron Sham and his lackluster, slow-loris like branch manager Jimmy Tai were told to be present too. At the lunch table Balan and Teo were seen talking to each other emphatically like they regretted for not met earlier. A lethargic Jimmy Tai sat quietly munching his lunch, pondering about what to say, if he ever were spoken to. He decided to play dumb all along to save his face and to avoid further embarrassment.

         Trucks lining up, awaiting order to go for long distance delivery

The next day Jimmy Tai’s branch was billed for $700, being the cost of hosting the lunch, as a token to apologize to Wilson Sporting Goods Inc, under the order of the GM, Mr. Teo SL. Apart from this he also got an earful from the GM for being arrogant and ignorant, haughty and non-negotiable, a complete disregard for public relation in an business entity. He was given a verbal bashing by GM Teo who stopped short of presenting him a letter of reprimand, as Teo knew well the older man was due for retirement. On his 55th birthday, Jimmy Tai had a sending off meeting at the head office where he bid Teo the GM goodbye. Tai was there to collect his gratuity cheque too. His application for an extension of 2 years was rejected flatly by the GM earlier.  Teo tapped his pen repeatedly on his desk, making disturbing noises, he said to himself: "Ha, his Tai chap wanted another two years at the helm of his branch, fat hope!" Teo was displeased with Jimmy Tai’s boasting that he was the senior GM with Wearne Brothers Co Ltd., another motoring company, before he joined their concern, more than 10 years ago. In actual fact, he was out of touch with the actual market situation. Teo SL continued with his deep thought, “Heck, if he had been a senior GM, then how would he accept a job here as a branch manager, and where would I stand? This hopeless, incorrigible liar!”

                       A meaningful lunch to bid a colleague farewell

A true story  with  the names of characters changed .
Alan CY Kok

Tuesday, 10 April 2012

Johor Premium Outlets

As one slide to a halt to exit at the Skudai toll, the passengers and drivers will have noticed a tall and large billboard at the left hand side of the highway some half a kilometer before the toll house. Its name: Johor Premium Outlets attracts glances that one will wonder how to get there. Well, find your way to Senai Town (Do not go to the direction of Senai Airport) while exiting from Kulaijaya toll if you were to drive from the North. If you begin your journey from South, drive along the old road northwards, passing by Scudai, thence Senai. Leaving Senai town at KM32.2, then enter at the left hand side to Highway E3, and exit shortly just after a few kilometers at 302A where the traffic directional board indicates Johor Premium Outlets at Indahpura, in the district of Kulaijaya.

Johor Premium Outlet sits strategically at the sprawling, undulating low hills of Genting Plantation Bhd. (Formerly known as Asiatic Development Bhd.); the landsize is 44 acres of Oil Palm plantation land, with 3000 parking bays to its name. It is an adventurous and ambitious project jointly owned by the Plantation Company and Simon Property of the US. The joint owners are thus aptly named: Simon-Genting Ltd, which holds the operation of the centre with its subsidiary Genting-Simon Sdn Bhd. A hotel and theme park are in the pipeline nearby but no dateline is set for its construction and operation yet. The centre of Johor Premium Outlet was officially opened on December 2011. It was one of the jump start initiative project for the Johor state government’s holistic Iskandar Projects. Since inception, the Johor Premium Outlets had attracted visitors, both local and foreign, by the thousands everyday, looking for great bargains in buying premium branded apparels and other merchandise. The center offers 25% to 65% savings on selected designer outlets as well as on buck buying. In certain branded stores, customers save up to 70% when buying 3 pairs of pants at one purchase.

My entourage and I were there in the morning on Good Friday i.e. April the 6th, 2012, and throngs of Singapore-registered cars had already occupied more than half of the parking bays by 11am. Anxious travelers made impromptu stops here at the centre before continuing their journey north or south bound. The food court at Johor Premium Outlets serves a variety of delicacies, notably the ever popular Japanese, Korean and even Taiwanese dishes. International beverage outlets StarBucks Coffee, The coffee Bean & Tea Leaf, and popular ice-cream vendor Baskin-Robbins are adamant to make their presence felt right away when the centre of Johor Premium Outlets opened late last year. 

I saw score of Japanese alighted from a tour coach at one of the main facades; they were known to be keen followers of branded designer fashions. A Causeway Link bus pulled up shortly after, dropping off a bus load of local passengers at the centre. They could be visitors as well as the staff or personnel working here; I guessed so. A smiling policeman greeted me when I strolled into the Police Base to enquire about the where about of the Information Counter. MayBank and CIMB were quick to set up their branches here; ATM machines definitely provide convenience to customers in time of need when it matters most. The Johor Premium Outlets operate from 10am to 10pm daily. The layout of the various outlets and mall designs are fahioned after those Simon Property outlets in the US. For visitors who have been to USA, it seems all so familiar as one steps foot into Johor Premium Outlets.


Now the big names will certainly awe the eager will be customers in this one stop centre; there are currently 80 international chic and hic, trend-setter brand names here at Johor Premium Outlets: Adidas, Armani, Burberry, Canali, CK Calvin Klein, DKNY, Esprit, Gap, G2000, Guess, Lacoste, Levi, Michael Kors, Nike, Padini, Polo Ralph Lauren, Puma, Salvatore Ferragamo, Timberland, Versace, Zegna and many more. For shoes and apparels, they have Charles & Keith, Clarks, and Vincci, as well as Bonia, Carlo Rino, Coach, Braun Buffel, Fossil and Samsonite of course. What about Watches and Jewelers? Oh yes, they have City Chain, Evita Peroni, Swiss Watch Gallery, and our own Malaysia’s chief Jeweler and Goldsmith outlet Tomei in place. Other enchanting attractions are the Fidani Chocolate, Royal Selangor Pewter centre and The Body Shop outlets etc.


So the next time when you go driving southward, or northward if you are Johor based in Peninsula Malaysia, do make an effort to drop by the Johor Premium Outlets for a tour and visit. Perhaps you will end up enjoying a sumptuous meal there after some worthy purchases. Here the ambience is just totally relaxing, no haste and hurry like in the big metropolitan shopping malls.  I am sure you will be having a great time!

Alan CY Kok

Sunday, 1 April 2012

Best friends

 Jogging by the beach front. No one could disturb me, I've got my doggie with me.
                          What's ya waiting and whining about? Leftover?
                                  Who could skip higher?
  Take that! See how my Kungfu feline leg delivering the effective kick!

                   Easy, easy man! When you do the cornering, let me know.
           Hey man, You're not supposed to have more poker dots than I do!
Now this is getting out of hand. City Hall enforcement unit won't be happy to see this.
Hands up on the wall! Hey you, I didn't say "Paws up, you've got it?"
Mountain hiker Ching had got company from two cuddling puppies as he took a breather at a stop-over.
This red fox mistook the beagle as one guiding angel; what if the hunting hound turned his back?

My! It's a Dog-Deer!
                            Ah, good company. But he keeps on sleeping.
                           Size does matter. So what, I ain't afraid of you!
                            Heck, kitten is immune to dog's bad breath.
                 You can see happiness written on their expression. 
I don't mean to entertain you on pole dancing. I just couldn't free myself from these bamboo shoots.
Dear Lord, please let Jaime my dog be with me as always, Amen!
              Puppies siesta-Don't push, there's enough room for everyone.

Meet our neighbour's cute little girl.
                                         Now am I seeing things?
                                  Shall we begin the doggie walk now?
                        Gee, what humans're doing in the woods?
Your guess is as good as mine!
                                           Who cares?

Pictures obtained from e-mails received through the net.
Alan CY Kok