Why do we need to make a living when we are not living? – Joseph Hong


Random thoughts – career

“It’s not me who is practical. It’s the world that is practical”. My aunt said that to me, in response to my plan to quit my job in Singapore to join the London office and to start all over again. Anyhow, my supervisor and the admin manager in Ernst & Young Singapore just ignored my request to join Ernst & Young London. And I didn’t pursue it. So, I was with Ernst & Young Singapore for 3 years.

Number 1 life/career changing direction incident:
I was talking to my dad. He learnt that I am in Temasek polytechnic studying hospitality management. For some reason, he kinda freaked out. And told me that I should change gear and go to junior college instead. Also, he insisted that I call an “auntie” (in Singapore, you call women who are in their 30s to 50s “aunties”). I called and got a somewhat trashing from a woman that I do not know that I should quit the polytechnic course and return to junior college. After that scathing call, I laid on my bed for hours and thought about my future. I thought about what I want to be – a teacher. And yes, a junior college education rather than polytechnic education will lead me there. I quit Temasek Polytechnic after one semester and enrolled in St. Andrew Junior College. The rest is history.

Number 2 life/career changing direction incident (potentially):
I called my mum several days ago. She had asked my sister to pass on the message 1.5 weeks ago. She was kinda furious, asking me why did it take me such a long time to call her? Anyway, she asked when I’m returning to Singapore. To which I replied “I have no idea”. She then said that she consulted a medium / fortune teller / ? who said that my career destiny is bad. I was born on a day where things do not borne well for my career for the rest of my life. My sister’s is much better, more stable. Mum wants me to return to Singapore for a ritual to improve my career luck. To which I replied “No. I do not believe in such things as I am a Christian”. Mum also mentioned that my career is prone to going up and down. As in, I will do well, then return to a lower position, do well, then return to a lower position, etc. She said which parent would want to worry about their kids’ career and their ability to live a comfortable life in their graves?

The last part resonates with me. In fact, I read a book which talks about your destiny based on a poker card which is based on your date of birth. The description of the poker card which was assigned to me commented strongly on my career. As in, 1/4 of the 2 pages are allocated to talking about my career. It said that I have strong tendencies to change from job to job because I am like a kid in a candy store, fascinated by all the candies in the store (this is very true. I have fantasised of being a doctor, chiropractor, a surgeon, a tax lawyer, owner of my own accounting firm, trader, investor, tax accountant, internal audit director, psychologist, counselor, tai chi master, swimming instructor, school principal, piano teacher, music therapist, and more and more). The best approach for me is to choose one regardless of my fascination with everything, and work hard at the chosen one. The careers that I tend to do well usually involve travel and creativity. I had consciously chosen to remain in audit based on the above.

So, to give up the Australian PR if I get an audit manager position overseas?

Update from paradise – Apr 25 2011 (published May 14, 2011)

I worked crazy hours over the Easter holiday. LOL. Went to the beach on Friday morning to afternoon to fly kite. Had a great chat with a South African colleague. His wife offered me hotdogs. Very nice and polite. Ended off at Swizzle Inn for a late lunch/early dinner.

Had a nap till 8pm. Went to work till 12.30am. Then watched a comedy at home on my laptop till 2am. Slept for 2 hours. Was woken up by Marc’s 2 sisters who were talking in the kitchen. Alistair, my housemate, came into my room to borrow my helmet. i was already awaken by then. Am a light sleeper. couldn’t get back to sleep after that. went to office to work for 30mins. Felt sleepy. Slept under my desk!! 🙂 We always joke about curling under our desk and sleeping under it. I just had to try it! woke up at 8.30am. Worked till 1.30pm. Went home for a nap. Worked from 6pm to 1am. slept. Worked from 8.30am to 3.30pm. Took a break. Didn’t really work after that…

Another day has past (published on March 28, 2007)


Suddenly, an accounting career sounds and appears very interesting. Maybe I developed a temporary hatred for accounting during the one month at Keppel. It must be the filing room that I have spent 3.5 weeks in that gave birth to my frustration and hatred for auditing. And it didn’t help that I kept having the impression that Richard thinks highly of Angeline and that I am considered inferior. Yes, maybe I am inferior, because I tend to work slowly and add “carelessness” to the picture, it equals to inferior work done by Kah Fai.

I always ask myself the question: “Am I really suited for accounting work?” given that I consistently did better in non-accounting modules when I was in university? Given that I tend to forget about things and am not very careful? Can I be detailed oriented and yet less than careful?

An accounting career is appealing to me now, because I see the potential in it. The potential to be in demand and to be able to work in different countries. I definitely need the $ and I have a great desire to be working and living overseas. So, it seems like accounting is the place to be.

Supper with Angel (published on March 27, 2007)

Last Friday, I popped the question to my colleague, “want to go for a drink later?”. After some waiting on her part and “I should have known. Never trust guys on being on time,” we loiter on boat quay before settling down at Indochine. Oh boy, I paid S$58 for a plate of deep fried seseme seeded chicken, squids, fish and some leaves (mint and lettuce). It was actually meant for four persons, which I thought is an overstatement. Surely a person can finish the whole dish on his own. Oh yes, the price also included a bottle of sparkling water from Italy. It tasted exactly like “Ba Hua grass snake drink”, which you can purchase a 200ml bottle at less than a dollar at major supermarkets. A bottle, of perhaps 1 litre, costs S$10 at Indochine, exclusive of surcharges.

The ambience was excellent though, although I wished we could have stayed longer – they were already preparing to close just before we left. Although conversation between Angel and I were not flourishing, esta bien. Porque it’s the company that counts, isn’t it?

An conversation with Ashley (published on March 22, 2007)

I went to Ashley, wanting her to approve my taxi and overtime meal allowance claims. I waited behind her, seeing that she’s perusing this page with words and figures arranged neatly. She waited a while, turned her head towards my direction, acknowledged my presence with an “oui”, the syllabus with a descending tone.

After explaining the purpose of my visit, she set about examining my expense sheet, then I asked a question which resulted in an outpouring from her. I asked “Why are you working so hard everyday, even on weekends? You should rest.” She looked at me and said “I have something to talk to you. Sit down.” And sit down, I did.

“What has inventory turnover to do with ARPs for cash?” “I nearly fainted when I saw your ARPs for cash.” Well said, and I agree with her words. Originally, I had wanted to remove the point about inventory turnover in my AWP. But when Richard prompted me, “why do you want to remove it? It’s fine”. I couldn’t muster a convincing valid reason to remove it. If only “My instincts say that it’s wrong” is acceptable as a reason.

I am touched by Ashley. For the next 10-15 minutes, she gave me a quick lesson on ARPs for cash, trade creditors and P&L (I asked her questions regarding the latter 2 accounts). And patiently she explained to me. I am delighted with her explanation and patience.

“Julia told me you are … (here, she shakes her head somewhat like an Indian?).” “Why are you so forgetful?” Well, I am naturally forgetful. I am born this way. She made a valid point, “If you really make this (which refers to being in audit) your career, you will naturally be focused.” Well said, I don’t deny it. But, the thing is, I don’t naturally remember numbers like Auntie Julia.

Anyhow, I am grateful to Ashley for being patient to me. If she had shouted at me, I wouldn’t give her a dime and I would harbour deep hatred towards her. But, she was patient to me. I am willing to work harder for her. Joseph, is audit a job or a career for you? Or none of the above?

Feverish Today (published on March 16, 2007)

I felt a deep sense of shame when Richard commented that “This is not the way to do ARPs”. Shame, shame, shame. I felt instantly stupid. How can I be so stupid as not to be able to do ARPs properly and correctly? Which is to say: I am stupid. Fuck.

Had a delightful conversation with the taxi driver just now. She is 41 years old and single. Driving is her moonlighting job. She works in an office in the morning. Presumbly, she has to maintain two jobs to keep up with her loan repayments for her three-room HDB flat unit. She had wanted to rent a one-room flat unit from the government. However, the latter in the name of promotion of the social family unit denied her an accommodation which fits her financial condition. She finished JC year one, after which she attended NAFA, graduated with certification in general fine arts. Working in the commercial sector stresses her excessively, causing her to have migraine. She describes herself as “a rotten salty fish that is unable to flip itself over” in mandarin. It’s supposed to mean that her situation is irreversible. I tried to encourage her, reminding her that pursuing your dreams is no easy task but I want to see her face on the newspapers one day, being known as a cartoonist. She laughed and smiled throughout our conversation. I am happy that I have brought her some temporal happiness and that she’s willing to share her life story with me. I am privileged to share in her problems and struggles. God bless her and that she gets to know you (I saw a Buddhist emblem in her taxi).