Chicken Soup for the Singaporean Soul


I’ve been to a lot of talks but this one yesterday with the Young NTUC topped it all.


An honest speaker that lets you have it whether you like it or not, Edwin tells you life as he sees it, with all the grace of a void deck ah-beng.

No, his English is not fantastic. But that was no handicap for this celebrity chef.

With strong conviction and weak grammar, he tells you the brutal truth – that the only way to success is to get off your ass and clock in the hours. That success is not for softies. More than merely “cultivating a hunger”, he told a story of a young man who wanted a life beyond the $200+ he made a month, a young man who wanted his wife and daughters to live better.

When quizzed about his family, he quotes, “…Nowadays people got a lot of opportunities, during my time I had my first kid during my early 20s. For me don’t have so many opportunities. I struggle a lot, when I take my salary by about 19th or 20th my family got to eat canned food until the end of the month. That kind of hunger force me to work extra hard to bring bread and butter back home.”



Here was a person who started off with life with much less than we had. Less education, less funding, but one thing he did not have less of; was tenacity. He recollected how he worked odd jobs (even as a trishaw rider), scrimped and saved thorough the years and pooled together some money together with friends to start a small cafe at Mohd Sultan.

And then you start to compare this man’s background with yours. Half the people in the room were degree holders, some with Masters. But all with an earning potential that is only a fraction of what he commands. If money making was your benchmark in life, then yes… you would probably not be his match. But Edwin also has a thing to say about the goals in life.

“We needs to have a vision, once you have an objective, you just bite on it and go for it. You don’t sway here, sway there. This is very important. I believe the wealth is not what is inside your pocket, the wealth is what’s inside your heart. I think everyone can be very very successful.”


Wah lau. When someone says this type of thing, its hard to disagree. Eh NTUC, want to consider him as a potential spokesperson to champion labour issues or not?

Although this chap hasn’t been through much education (or “neh-study a lot”, in his words), he wasn’t too quick to diss off the importance of education and qualifications.

“It’s my fault that i never study. I cannot have that kind of mentality to say that studies is not important”, says Edwin when quizzed on the relevance of paper qualifications. He sends his daughters to university and encourages them to attain as high a qualification as they can…with a caveat: do not dismiss the significance of social savviness also, the ability to smart the streets.

I hope the people at Young NTUC releases the video soon. Normally watching a 2-hour long video is really boring, but I strongly urge you to take some time to watch this in its entirety if you can (I’ll provide an update on my Facebook and Twitter feeds when this is ready so watch out for it!)

Before I end off here, I’ll leave you with another one of his quotes that I would remember for a long time.

“What do you love? You have to do the things that you love. Not the opportunities. Opportunities comes and goes. It is about love. Not about opportunities.”

I think this little nugget of wisdom could be a powerful bearing for life; relationships, careers… anything that requires a major decision really.


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