Fresh beginnings, new adventures

My eldest son, Terry, got married in KL last month.

Needless to say, I was one proud Dad! Unfortunately, due to circumstances that had unfolded here in Singapore, I could not be there with him to celebrate this momentous occasion. I can’t deny that I was disappointed, but with the situation being what it was, I connected with Terry, my daughter-in-law, our family members, our close friends, loved ones and relatives through a specially-made video and numerous phone calls on their special day.

It seemed like only yesterday that Terry was just a mischievous, bright-eyed tot, always ready for new adventures.

Now, Terry is embarking on a whole new adventure – as that a loving husband to his wife, Ai Leen. And very soon (I hope), as that of a father to his own little bundles of joy.

The exchange of rings and vows, the walk down the aisle and a new life together – this is just the beginning of a new journey for Terry and Ai Leen. I’m sure it will be a long and rewarding road ahead for them – one filled with its own share of joy, laughter, and happiness – and together with that, its share of ups and downs.

This is very much how I see the road that lies ahead for Dongshan. I know that we will have our ups and downs, our ins and our outs – which company doesn’t? But I believe that we will always be able to take away something from these experiences and, together with support from our shareholders, succeed and grow Dongshan into a great company.

Once again, words from the poem “If: A Father’s Advice to his Son” by Kipling comes to mind:

If you can dream – and not make dreams your master;
If you can think – and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same

I’m confident we’ll overcome all obstacles and challenges, as we set the wheels in motion for Dongshan. Many exciting developments have been taking place. There are game-changing opportunities that will shape the course of Dongshan’s future. I’m very excited about these developments. Bear with us, we’ll soon be sharing them with you.

In the meanwhile, here’s to fresh starts and new adventures!

Here’s to Better Winds

So the Ragged Goat is gone, here comes the mischievous Fire Monkey! May I take this opportunity to wish all our stakeholders better winds ahead.

I would also like to thank the Dongshan directors and several shareholders who called to express support and encouragement during the last two weeks. Needless to say, it has been an interesting (to say the least!) few weeks. Many new lessons were learnt, some old adages reminded.

Amongst them: be super careful even in off-the-cuff quips to the press. There were things that I said which to me were harmless remarks to innocuous questions, but these off-the-cuff quips were blown out of proportion and published in news reports in a different context which unfortunately and unfairly reflected negatively on me.

I have learned long ago the pointlessness of fighting the waves when forces are against you; that it is strong finishing at the end of a long marathon that counts. All one needs and indeed hopes for is a level playing field, full transparency from all sides, and that there are no side agendas or sensationalism that would overshadow fair play.

But my own plight pales in comparison to sadder and more poignant stories.

For one, the Benjamin Lim episode is truly tragic, coming just before the New Year. I read with great sadness Mr Lim Senior’s open letter, and I can empathise with the numerous letters of support. I am glad that several alternative online news sources have provided transparent coverage of the incident. There are always two sides to the story and it is good that the public gets a balanced and complete picture of news events.

One cannot even begin to imagine the pain the family must be going through. We on the side lines can only wish the family all courage and strength to weather this cruel chapter, and hope for fair play and decency to prevail.

The new spring, the Lunar New Year season is perhaps the best time to reflect on life issues – on what matters, what does not, and to separate the transient from the lasting blessings of life.

The lines from Kipling’s poem IF comes to mind:

If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two imposters just the same …

Setbacks and challenges are part of life.

Together with all your support, let us resolve to devote meaningful time and the resources of Dongshan to do good, to bring cheer to the underprivileged and the underdogs once we make some decent profits.

I reiterate my confidence that 2016 will see a positive turnaround for Dongshan. We have reset and rebooted over the last six months and come what may, we shall ride the winds well.

Once again, best wishes for better winds, better fires for 2016!

2016 – Great year ahead; it’s the finishing that counts!

China is finally collapsing, emerging economies are in turmoil, a world crisis is imminent! The first week of 2016 has been gleeful heaven for the naysayers, the doomsday sinologists who have been predicting the collapse of China as early as 1994.

The sages say, a broken clock is right twice a day…

The marathon victor paces himself, allows the critics on the sidewalk their moments of smug smirks, disregards the sprinters and knows in his wisdom that it is the finishing that counts.

China will have its deliberate soft landing as she fights to balance sustainable growth with socio-political objectives. The painful gyrations will continue and come to a more settled equilibrium by latest 2H 2016 as China resets and reboots; and 2016 will end on a more positive note than all the experts will have us believe.

When I first went to China in 1990, it was still a world dominated by bicycles, Mao jackets and the FEC (special overpriced currency for foreigners). Yet I was struck by the sheer hardworking culture of both the young and old. Most were doing two jobs, or were taking English lessons at night. Shops were few, but they opened till midnight or as long as there were customers. The savings rate was probably the highest in the world, and probably still is. Education was rated highly, and young people struggled and fought for University places.

Willingness to work hard, mattress money, focus on self-improvement and great education.

Can such a country collapse?

These attributes, and a courageous leadership daring to make tough decisions, endure short term pains for eventual vindication, will always ensure they emerge victorious come what may.

May Dongshan and all we hold dear be blessed with such spirit.

Happy, Healthy and Helluva Year ahead in 2016

Here’s wishing everyone a Happy, Healthy and Helluva Year ahead in 2016! Wanted to share a hilarious link to a video:  about how my 2015 went… Let’s move on, let’s not be afraid to rock the boat, continue to make waves, and make our dreams come alive in 2016!!!

Goodbye 2015!

A truly volatile year: $37 oil, crashing currencies, FIFA burns, PM Najib is still PM and Yoda returns with a Billion $ bang. For most of us, it’s been tough especially on cashflow and sustenance issues. But heck! We (and the world) survived and the year is over!

Another new year beckons, new hopes, new dreams. I dare say the challenging times will continue for another 6 months to a year but 2H 2016 should see substantial improvements. For those who have used 2015 wisely to clean house, re set and re boot, 2016 should be great.

I like to think we have been wise, quietly patiently.

For me personally, I have gone through at least 4 cycles of massive ups and downs in the last 30 years. One lesson endures: use bad times/years to hunker down, bite the bullet and work like hell to re set and recover instead of wallowing in self pity and/or blaming the world.

Tough times never last, tough people do – so they say.

For Dongshan and all the long suffering shareholders, I am confident the re set has begun and the recovery will happen in 2016. Our dialogue on 9 November was an exciting exchange of ideas. I feel priviledged to share many of your hopes (and fears) and in setting clear goals for the company. Rest assured, I will continue to talk to you, and to walk with you in our journey ahead! Our bridges are burnt! No excuses, no alibis… just get it done.

And so it shall be.

May the force be with you and me in 2016, and the years to come.