Sunday, October 18, 2009

Rich Enough to be Frugal, Blessed Enough to Suffer.

In her Sunday Times article of 18 Oct 2009, "No bed of roses for me, thank you", Lee Wei Ling wrote: "I was brought up to be frugal. As children, my brothers and I were chastised if we did not turn off the taps completely, or left lights or air-conditoners on when there was no need for them to be. My parents decided not to live at Sri Temasek, the prime minister's official residence, because they didn't want their children to be waited by butlers and servants."

"There is certain benefit to be derived from a certain degree of deprivation and even suffering. Many of the things we like in excess are bad for us - for example, fatty meat, chocolates and alcohol. Over and above denying ourselves such pleasure, outright suffering is not always bad, and in moderation, is good in character training. I have been through a fair amount of suffering in my life, mainly because of my health. If I had been given a choice to be spared the experience, I would have actually chosen to go through it because suffering taught me lessons no teacher or book can ever teach me. As ancients of various traditions know, tribulations worketh character."

Prior to this, I read "A Letter to Lee Wei Ling" by Patriot [Link] who brought up some interesting points regarding an earlier article written by Lee Wei Ling.

From the two articles, I perceive that Lee Wei Ling is a filial daughter who can make do without the luxuries that is her birthright. It amazes me that given a choice, being a fitness and health enthusiast, she would choose to suffer sickness than to be healthy. I simply cannot see the benefit of such suffering and deprivation of good health. All I know is: that which did not kill me continue to strengthen me to tell it like it is.

Having personally gone through the trauma of a heart attack and ventricular fibrillation (which I do not wish upon anyone), I must admit that it is a blessing that I survived. However, if given a choice, I'd rather not have it. Unless I'm a sadist and a masochist, the shock and pain I brought upon myself and those who love me is reason enough not to suffer a heart attack or any other serious illness.

Not having the pedigree of famiLee, if the heart attack did not kill me, the medical and hospital cost might! Having the riches and wherewithal to overcome serious and costly challenges, one can have the luxury to write about sickness and suffering and be grateful for it. However, to the little guy or the average Joe, the cost of such suffering can literally kill!

There is a great difference in frugality practiced by the rich and frugality practiced by the poor. The poor can't choose. The rich can. The rich can talk and write about it while the poor may be too embarrass by it. I know an acquaintance who owns and drives a very expensive car. He took a MRT ride one day and said that the train ride was fantastic. He could not see why people are complaining about public transportation. This bloke is lucky to have the choice. He took the MRT joy ride during off-peak hour and did not experience the sardine-packed ride of of the little guys. While average Joe's are being squeezed and breathing from others' armpits, this acquaintance of mine is in his luxurious Lexus with music, GPS and what-have-you on his way to and from the bank where he worked. The only choice the little guy has is BMW -Bus, MRT or Walk.

If only everybody can choose to be frugal by choice rather than circumstances, would this world be a better place? Heal The World?

Yes, Let's cut down on "sports cars, extravagant banquets, expensive wines, designer clothes, shoes and handbags - all these things are wasteful." Let's use such excesses to "upgrade kindergartens" to"help young children". We can also help reduce the Gini Index in Singapore and not bitchiBala about the poor having meals at hawker centre, foodcourt or restaurant. While we are at it, we can do much more if budget for defense and mintsters' salaries can be readjusted and channeled to the deserving.

Meanwhile, my thoughts are with Dollah Kassim. "Please get up soon and play again, my Gelek King!"



At October 19, 2009 at 9:29 AM , Anonymous sgcynic said...

Yes, Let us all (those who can) choose to be CBF (cheaper, better, faster) to help Singapore excel. Ministers must take the lead.

At October 19, 2009 at 10:19 AM , Anonymous Alan Wong said...

After having reaching her current status without ever experiencing much difficulty in life, it is so easy for her to write and say what she wants to say now.

Why don't Lee Wei Ling tell her father and brother to cut down on their excessive salaries and allowances that they draw from the Govt's coffers so that some poor and old folks out there can have a much better welfare allowance instead of still having to scavenge the rubbish bins for discarded cardboard or drink cans ? Or even maybe start with herself, considering that she doesn't need her present kind of remuneration to live the frugal life that she so very much wanted ?

To begin with, one does not need those kind of indecent salaries to live a "comfortable enough" life in Singapore. For someone who is already in such a privileged position and yet crying that she yearns for a much disadvantaged life, to me, is no better than a mere hypocrite.

At October 19, 2009 at 11:44 AM , Anonymous famiLee undertaker said...

I like your views Fish, the rich buggers have a choice and therefore can talk alot of cock, and they can take the cue from our bloody pathetic and hypocritical millionaire ministers.

Without a doubt, Wei Ling is a filial daughter and sister, and I wonder if she is aware of the bigger picture, which is about Spore and its people and not about her famiLee and army of stooges.

At October 19, 2009 at 1:28 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Lee wei ling must join SPH, she is becoming a regular columnist.

At October 19, 2009 at 7:36 PM , Anonymous coffinartist said...

apparently,the other lees don't share her philosophical musing from her highy exalted vantage point otherwise, we won't have that many millionaires today - i suspect she is probably a millionaire in her own right.

yes, it is kind of hypocritical to enjoy niche successes and then talk about "frugality" or "giving back to society".

why am i skeptical?

most of the time, the concept of "giving back to society" often means greater rewards in return or...very profitable incentives to "star performers".

well,society is not founded on "star performers".

the problem with our kind of society is we have placed too much emphasis(worshiped them) on "star performers" that we have generally alienated those, many, who do not want to be led or inspired by "star agendas"!

with this strand of thinking(propagated mostly by government controlled media), we are far from achieving a truly inclusive society and without full support from everyone, we will end up wearing MASK to work - a total and MISERABLE failure in nation building!

At October 19, 2009 at 9:55 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

I read in Today, we now need a degree to help unfortunate people.

At October 19, 2009 at 10:08 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

soon, i will need to be conferred a degree to support my parents and love ones.

At October 21, 2009 at 3:28 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...


Soon younger Singaporeans will all be conferred 'decrees' to support their aging parents. Not mandatory yet for now, I think.

At October 21, 2009 at 5:20 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

"There is a great difference in frugality practiced by the rich and frugality practiced by the poor. The poor can't choose. The rich can."

You are so right, Mr Fish. If I have million dollars, I can bragg a lot about frugality. As a poor unemploy graduate in my forties, my alternatives is to buy Toto every week and hope to strike a jackpot to get me out of poverty.

It is so much easy for Lee Wei Ling to talk about it. She is clueless about the poverty experience by many once middle-class singaporean caused by and refuse to admit by you know who.

As a Alan Wong above, says "Why don't Lee Wei Ling tell her father and brother to cut down on their excessive salaries and allowances..."

I wonder why she is so active in writting articles for the shitty times? Is she trying to create different image of her family?

At October 22, 2009 at 8:10 PM , Anonymous truth hurts said...

Yes Mr.Fish, the rich can afford to be frugal...downgrade from Mercedes AMG to Mercedes C or S class, Lexus 430 to GS 300, 12 holiday trips a year to 11, dining on expensive abalone, sashimi, wine, etc daily to alternate days.

I agree with Alan Wong and other posters Wei Ling is a hypocrite and her motive in writing publicly is a form of damage control for her famiLee. What a lousy pretence on Wei Ling's part that her despotic father, spineless brother and shameless sister-in-law has done no wrong to ordinary citizens.

At August 5, 2012 at 1:36 PM , Anonymous gdy2shoez said...

Lee Wei Ling's at it again in today's Sunday Times, banging on about how frugal she is. Thanks for this posting this! (though it's 3 years old)

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At January 11, 2013 at 7:18 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yes, Let us all (those who can) choose to be CBF (cheaper, better, faster) to help Singapore excel. Ministers must take the lead.  

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