Thursday, February 01, 2007

You Can’t Be An Officer If You Don’t Drink

My blogo-friend, Frannxis has written a very short and yet meaning post in his blog. I fully agree with Frannxis’ outlook. As it had only a couple of paragraphs, I think he will not mind if I just reproduce the entire article here for the convenience of my readers.

“Last week one new post65 MP said it was cool to be square. He was commenting on the PAP trying to be hip in order to connect with the younger generation. No need, he said, people support the PAP for what it is – serious and square.

In our relationship with friends, I feel you don’t have to put on an act if you don’t like or enjoy it. Your friends should accept you as yourself.

My friends sometimes say I am not sporting or not sociable when I refuse to join them do certain things. Never mind what they say.”

Frannxis’ article reminds me about something one wise commander in the SAF said to us newly commissioned 2nd lieutenants in the officers’ mess of Gillman Camp back in 1977. He boldly declared that you cannot be an officer if you don’t drink (liquor).

Well I have news for you sir. I survived all the way until age 50 as an officer; albeit only a humble two-pip platoon commander. In fact, when I ROD’ed in 1978, my CO in 30 SCE tried to persuade me to sign on, saying the Combat Engineers needed more graduate officers. I was really proud to be acknowledged as ‘one of the better officers’ because I always knew that I didn’t have much leadership qualities in the conventional sense. Thank you, Captain Wilson Tay, for your kind words.

In the business world too, it is not uncommon to meet people who think that you must conform to stereotypes to survive. For example, you must have heard well-meaning people say that if you want to succeed in doing business in China, you must know how to ‘yen-jiu’ (烟 酒); i.e. smoke, drink and embrace other vices. I don’t have any personal experience to refute these people, but I am pretty sure they are as wrong as the wise officer in Gillman Camp.

Be prepared, though, to be called names; as I was once. One Malaysian client called me ‘member of the soya bean brigade’ because I declined his offer of beer. Irony is; he was a Muslim.


Victor said...

So you have been called names before. Then should be used to it already mah. Oops, sorry. :)

Anonymous said...

Finacially troubled businessmen still have to drive expensive cars, people attending important (VIP) functions still have to dress in their best, cosmetic surgeons earn top-money, good packaging can sell, policians need to kiss babies... and so on - all these are realities of a modern society (even old ones). My friend (steeped in Chinese culture) once told me: "Lam, do you know that it is very important to say nice things so that when people hear they feel 'suang' ", meaning shiok in Malay or pleasant to hear. In other words, what Shakespeare says is still absolutely correct: "the world is a stage..."

Anonymous said...

Sometimes people dare to call you names becos they regard you as friend.

Pkchukiss said...

Yeah, whenever I am with my close friends, we don't call each other by our normal names. It always is "Mr Birdie" or something else.

Unknown said...

It seems like this issue of stereotypes seem to be quite prominent in the few blogs that I have followed recently. I guess old habits die hard and people just have to pigeon-hole others as a way of making sense of the world.

Personally, I feel that what's more important is delivery rather than packaging. Unfortunately in this world, perception sometimes becomes reality.

Have a look at blinkymummy's post on civil servants:

Chris Sim said...

Of course, coming from "old men" like Frannxis and Chun See and Victor, conformity is a dirty word. But it's usually the youngsters who conform and bow down to peer pressure. For what? Fear of being ostracised, fear of rejection, and fear of being alone. These are all very real. And you'll be surprised to learn that many of our kids do conform to what's expected of them in their circle of friends, one way or another. Of course, we educate our kids by saying, "if your friends are really true friends, they would accept the way you are." But such advice usually doesn't hold much water to the kids. What they one is acceptance, and be "one of the guys". And to be accepted, you conform. Simple. That's the cold hard fact facing our kids.

Of course, old men like us can choose not to conform now lah... who cares?

Anonymous said...

When our children talk back to us, we threaten them this and that, but when big boss (holding our delicate porcelein rice-bowls) accuse us unfairly (no room for lengthy explanation), what shall we do? Well, maybe, eh, a few brave souls may dare to talk or argue back. These are realities of life.