[About this blog] Inspired by local soccer player Mike Lim during my rookie reporter days at Singapore Polytechnic, I set up this blog in August 2002. I feel that blogging is a novel platform to document interesting facets of my life and my thoughts on certain issues. [Email blogger] ephraim@singnet.com.sg

Saturday, February 25, 2006

[Foreign diplomacy]
If you read today's Straits Times, you would have known that many grassroots leaders would be going to Kota Tinggi today.

We were known as the Singapore Delegation.

Or course, as Minister George Yeo was with us on the journey, we had outriders and police cars creating road blocks for the entourage to pass the streets of Johor. And lining the streets of the kampong were the residents who waved while we passed in the buses. Outside the residence of Malaysia's Foreign Minister roads were blocked so that guests could alight.

Every time the sirens were heard, someone important arrived. Joining the celebrations was also the Chief Minister of Johor, who arrived in a cool jet black mercedes.

It was my first time attending a Malay wedding (having lived in multi-racial Singapore for over 23 years) so I didn't know what to expect. It was a little culture shock. And it seems that Malays would always pray before they do anything - before lunch, before a speech - or is it meditation from the holy book?

I actually witnessed a surprising thing at Datuk Syed Hamid's house. Logs of different shapes and sizes were at the backyard. And then, I realised that they actually used firewood to cook! And he has a cool Volkswagon spacewagon - with a super personalised number plate too.

His house also has a sprawling garden. And they their grassroots leaders were present too. At an address, the Datuk made special mention of the food that was specially prepared by his grassroots leaders.

Even though Minister had to attend to state matters - the funeral service of the late S. Jayaratnam - we had tight security all the way. You can imagine double the number for Minister's car when he came back to join us after the funeral.

And when Datuk joined us on a visit to Crocodile World at Teluk Sengat, the entourage just got bigger and bigger and bigger. Crocodiles have huge mouths too, I digress. We also managed to get up close with a 100-year-old crocodile.

The fun ended at Johor Lama, where Channel NewsAsia's Johnson Choo did his piece-to-camera with all of us in the background. Joining us was the family of the Datuk as well as his grassroots leaders.

I just can't wait till we reciprocate their efforts and invite them to our sunny isle Singapore.


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