Sunday, August 28, 2005


Today was my day shift. Bloody hell, I had been working for 7 days in a row already. Tired..

Anyway, today's partner was Aaron. Hes from the Fuchow province in China. He is only 23 years old and hes been working in Singapore for 2 years already. I spent the whole morning talking to him since I got not much things today to clear. Hes a very talkative chap, can really talk for hours. In fact, I found out a lot about the culture in China from him. Some of the stuff that he told me were actually quite insightful.

In his hometown, the young people there lead more slow and relax life. Most of them don work or study at the same time. Before coming to Singapore, his daily routine was to sleep until noon each day, worked as a salesman in a female boutique for like 5 hours and then went out and play. The most common pastime of young people there is to go cybercafes to surf and chat online, looking for friends or mates online. He used to spend the whole day in cybercafes. The rates there are very cheap, about 50cents per hour, in RMB. Cybercafes are a big thing in China, there can be like 3 such cyberbars, as what they call it there, in a small street. Each bar can hold 30-40 people. And sometimes they offer extra services like buying supper for the customers if they want to, since the competition is very stiff.

In China, the most important thing to remember when doing business is relationships with the correct people or a more popular term to call it in Chinese would be "guan xi". The reason why Suzhou industrial park was a flop was cos Singaporeans are too straightforward. We are too naive and are too used to following rules and laws. In China, the number one rule when doing business would be bribery. And it must be to the correct party. Singaporeans however are so used to doing everything by the book that we forgot that people in China are use to bending the rules. That is the reason why Singaporeans find it very hard to strike it out big there. In fact, according to Aaron, opportunitites are abound in China. As long as you have something unique to offer there, you will be able to make money. Because of the huge population there, as long as 1% of the population take notice of your products or services, you can make some profits there already. However, you must be able to bend the rules and follow their way of doing business. In other words, you must be prepared to bribe. Especially to authorities. Singaporeans are just too naive and so most of them failed in this aspect. In the end, whatever business ideas, however creative will also fail.

In each provinces of China, as long as you speak in a different accents, you will be treated as tourist or foreigners. And this make you a very good target to be bullied. There were many times when Aaron visted other provinces and even though hes a Chinese national, he was conned and bullied many times by the locals there. Imagine what will happen if you are not from China and is visiting there as a tourist. He cautioned me to be extra careful when visiting China because even the police there are corrupted. He said since these crooks have the guts to carry out their acts, this means that they are "protected" and have the right connections in the right place. One must be extra careful because even the authorities will not help you. Having money however would of course smoothen matters a great deal.

And I just found out that the agents earned a lot when they bring these foreign workers into Singapore to work. Aaron actually paid S$14k to his agent. Woah! Thats a lot of money to them! These agents are such blood suckers..

Then as the day passed, I was feeling so sick of the office that I actually felt nauseous and giddy. So David brought me out for dinner. Then I went to learn driving from him! Cool! Now I know how to do reverse parking!

The funny thing is that even though it was getting dark, David seemed reluctant to let me go home. He kept driving around in circles, talking to me. I guessed he was probably lonely and want to chat with me. At one point, he even asked me to go out and have a drink with him.. Woah..

So after driving around in circles in the yard for like 45 mins, he finally sent me back to the office. I was too tired to go out anyway, I still gotta work tomorrow.

Sometimes, all they really want is just a listening ear. They left their friends and familes behind when they came to work here and have no one to talk to. Besides, listening to them is quite refreshing cos their ideas and backgrounds are so different from what I encounter everyday. Actually, if time allows, I might just ask them out for dinner someday. They are really nice people, though a little vulgar sometimes.

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