Sunday, 19 October 2014

A Hearing on Sept 11

During the September holiday, and incidentally, a September 11, I went to the State Court for a City Harvest Church Trial hearing.

I have 'liked' the Facebook page of CHC Confessions and read that anyone could attend the hearing. And some of them posted what the court, but not the mainstream papers, revealed on the page. I thought it could be good to be there in person and experience for myself if it was true that Pastor Kong and the other 5 accused were as what the Facebookers made them out to be.

It was the school holiday. I woke up bright and early and left the house at 9am.

It was the first time I attended a court hearing as a bystander. I walked through the scanning device at the court entrance and got in Court 1 at 10am. 

Outside Court 1, I saw Suraj, the long-time follower and trusted man of Pastor Kong, and another petite, bespectacled man who stared at me as I made my way to the Court.

As I walked into Court 1, a female Indian security guard asked me for a court ticket. I said I didn't have one. I had read on the papers that the court would open the seats to members of the public if they were not taken up by 10am, so I thought I didn't need a ticket.

She directed me to the security guard counter to get a ticket before admitting me into Court 1 again.

The 5 accused were sitting in a separate section from the members of the public, a row or two behind the lawyers and their assistants. 

Pastor Kong was in the witness stand, giving his testimony and answering questions posted by his lawyer, Edwin Tong.

While I could hear Pastor Kong clearly, as he was side-facing us, I had problems hearing Edwin Tong who was back-facing us. His voice was soft and somewhat muffled.

I was terrible at trying to comprehend what was going on.

I had imagined that Edwin Tong, being Pastor Kong's lawyer, would seek to defend Pastor Kong aggressively and show evidence to discredit the Prosecutors' claim of Criminal Breach of Trust (CBT) upon the 6 accused, but all he did was to refer to the different figures on the minutes and statements and asked Pastor Kong what they were for. Most of the time, Pastor Kong replied that they were donations to the construction of Chinese schools in China.

Then Pastor Kong spoke.

He maintained that as a senior pastor, he had some level of influence over the church, the Crossover Project and the Xtron directors, but he did not have total control over the church or the Xtron directors.

To the collaboration with Wyclef Jean, he had this to say,"I love my wife, and I love the vision that God has given to our church, but I cannot agree to a proposition, in good conscience, that will cause CHC to be in a precarious financial situation, to lose money."

In explaining why the church did not continue to work with Wyclef, he maintained that,"Although the prospect of collaborating with Wyclef was tempting, I could not agree to the budget." Besides the upfront payment of USD30mil, Wyclef and Justin Hertz were asking for a 50-50 profit split. He felt that the request was 'beyond reasonableness'.

Halfway through the hearing, my fifth sister whatsapped me to task me with the mission of collecting my father's lab test report from the cardiologist's clinic, so I had to leave after the morning session of the court hearing ended.

Subsequently, I read from the Chinese evening papers that Pastor Kong teared in mentioning how the adults and children in his son's school had taunted his son by asking,"Has your dad gone to jail yet?"

The poor child is probably in P3 this year and he has to suffer the stress even adults can't handle.

I saw a humbled, and somewhat resigned, Pastor Kong that day, but I maintain that he loves his wife the way he did when he first married her, if not more. I don't know of any other man who dares to proclaim his love for his wife in a court, especially when the case has nothing to do with his marriage.

Based on what I saw and heard that day, I feel that Pastor Kong already know what is to come.

The Feedback to Ta-Q Bin that Never Got Sent

I had bought some party favours from a forummer in preparation for Baby's 6th birthday party celebration at school.

Unfortunately, my purchase exceeded 2kg and the forummer had arranged for courier service to deliver the parcel to my doorstep.

I said 'unfortunately' because I absolutely hate to deal with registered mail or courier companies.

Besides DHL who had arrived on time, I haven't come across a decent courier company who doesn't frustrate me. I work, and the range of time the courier company say would deliver the parcels is often very wide, like a 3 to 5 hours stretch. Sometimes they arrive early, and leave before the stipulated delivery time; at other times, they arrive late, and leave - whether anyone is in the house. And the one that really riles me up is the kind that presses the faulty doorbell that does not ring and leaves when no one responds, without even lifting their gold-plated knuckle to knock on my door!

So, I had yet another frustrating experience with Ta-Q Bin last week.

I had read of the fantastic luggage delivery service by Ta-Q Bin in Japan when a mother-blogger went to Tokyo and Niko so the least I had expected of Ta-Q Bin was on-time delivery.

It was meant to reach me on a Friday between 12pm to 5pm. See what I mean by wide time range?

I stayed home just to wait for the darn delivery. And the courier man never turned up.

It turned out that the delivery reached my place at 9.30pm but the man never did the delivery!

And we were all home by then!

So, I went onto Ta-Q Bin's website and penned a feedback. Interestingly, it could not be sent.

The message:

String or binary data would be truncated. The statement has been terminated.

kept appearing.

So, my feedback to Ta-Q Bin is posted here:

The parcel was supposed to reach me between 12pm and 5pm on 10 October. We spent the whole Friday waiting for the parcel that never came. My husband was home since 6.30pm and never once was the delivery made.

The next day, I noted that the parcel's status was 'delivering', so we waited again from 12pm, thinking that you would keep to the requested timing. At the same time, I tried calling in to check what time the parcel would come in. Disappointingly, I could never get through your line. If I ever did, I was put on hold for ever.

When I finally got through at 4.30pm, I was told the driver might reach my place before 8pm, but he would try to get to me 'as soon as possible'. So we waited again. We waited our Friday and Saturday away just like that. I called again at 7pm. Apparently, the driver did not try to get to my place 'as soon as possible'. I had tried to be a very patient customer but making customers wait for more than 10 hours is unacceptable.

You are not the first courier company I have worked with but you are definitely the most irresponsible courier company I have ever come across. I will try my best not to work with anyone who uses your service again.

It was stressful waiting for Ta-Q Bin. You don't know if the driver would go away without delivering your parcel again.

When I called at 7pm, I shouted at the lady over the phone asking,"Are you delivering my parcel or not?!!"

The parcel finally made its grand entrance at 7.30pm.

Thursday, 9 October 2014

Discharged, Finally!

My father was admitted to the hospital on a Monday, the day right after my last post.

The operation was a success. My father would be able to consume food through his mouth within 10 days.

However, I was starting to worry that I might not have enough money in the bank for the stay when the doctor continued to keep my father in the hospital after 8 days.

As if in an answer to my prayer, I was having lunch when the hospital called and informed me that my father could go home yesterday.

I was thrilled.

So at 4.30pm, I was there to pick my father up. And I prayed repeatedly for a bill well within my means.

I was grateful that the bill really was within the doctor's estimation.

Today, my father had threadfin porridge, and he managed to down the fish too. It was an achievement as he could not even swallow a teochew porridge rice grain a day before, the first time he ate solid food since 3 months ago!

Saved for the pain from the huge, fresh cut on his stomach, my father is happy that he is returning to normality and will be able to enjoy food the way he used to.

Months of anguish and pain. I hope they are things of the past, real soon.

Sunday, 28 September 2014

My Father is Not their Priority

Alas, I was in denial when I said my siblings had stopped shouting and screaming at me over my father's matter.

Yesterday when I was at my parents' place, my third sister adopted a very hostile tone with me as she 'talked' to me.

I had gone to my parents' place to speak to my father. I was worried about the operation. I wanted to be sure that he feels the way I feel about the 'need' for the surgery.

I asked him,"Are you scared?"

He replied,"Even if I am scared, I still have to do it, right?"

I mused,"Actually, if you don't do it, you will still live. You won't risk dying on the operating table."

He said with undoubted certainty,"If I have to live with a feeding tube like this, I'd rather die!"

So we are on the same page.

I went on to tell my father he should let his friend who had visited him during his first stay at the hospital know about his stay for the second operation.

When my third sister heard that, she immediately 'said',"NO! You MUST NOT let your friend know! After the operation, you will have an oxygen tube inside your mouth. You will have different tubes all over your body, remember?!! You CANNOT ask your friend to visit you DURING the operation. You CANNOT talk right after the operation!"

Duh. Who will ask their friend to visit them right after the operation?

Little did I know that was just a prelude to the impending scolding.

As I was sitting in the living room, my third sister 'asked' me what I would do if there were complications, meaning 'where (which hospital) are you going to put him if there are complications?'

I said,"Huh? I can't watch him die, right?"

She said,"He said he wants to go back to Malaysia to die there if there are complications."

My father nodded his head.

Well, that settles it, doesn't it, if it comes to that? So why ask?

Then came the bottomline,"We DON'T HAVE money!" (reads: Don't ask us for money to treat the complications.)

I didn't think of asking them for money if anything happens, anyway!

She started harping on the complications, complications, complications.

I kept quiet. The doctor had mentioned that risks for complications would be low ie. 2 or 3% compared to the last surgery.

But I knew she was not in a state to listen. So I didn't say anything.

Then came the real thing.


I was shocked,"I didn't ask you to drive him or us to the hospital! I will take him there myself!"


My father was upset. It was clear to him that my third sister was vehemently opposing to him going for the operation.

He spoke up,"I am for the surgery. You should not keep talking about negative things. What complications? Doctor already said it's very safe."


I couldn't talk to her at all.

I could have explained to her that for the first operation, I was the one who asked the surgeon, in everybody's presence (excluding my father),"One of the reasons for not wanting to go through the operation is the great fear that he might die on the operating table. Can you give us a number on what the survival rate for the operation is?"

The doctor replied,"95%. We are not worried about the operation. We are more worried about the post-operation. He is a high-risk patient. High-risk because of his age. We are worried that his body may not be strong enough to fight the infection after the operation as there would be a large area of infection due to his condition."

Apparently, my siblings had only heard what they wanted to hear:

Our father had a 95% rate of survival from the condition!

If they had listened attentively, and googled for my father's condition, they would have known that survival rate for my father's condition was low. Very low in fact. Many die within 24 hours of nil treatment due to infection.

If not for the fact that he was in the private hospital, under the care of the competent surgeon, he would have died.

But I couldn't tell my third sister all this.

She was not in the state of mind to listen to me. She just wanted to shove "WE DON'T HAVE MONEY TO PAY FOR THE OPERATION!" down my throat.

I told her I didn't have the intention of asking them to pay.

She continued to harp on her complications,"Did you read the fine prints? Do you know that the hospital can transfer him to restructured hospitals if you can't pay?"

To which I replied,"By then, it wouldn't have been vital already. The operation would have been done."

"If you don't have money to pay, YOU CAN GO BANKRUPT!"

I said,"Bankrupt, bankrupt then."

She appeared agitated by my nonchalant response.

She said,"The 5th sister has guessed correctly. You just want to leave us out of the matter and do it your way."

Well, why don't you hazard a guess why I have to do this?

She 'explained' to my father that after I pay for this operation, I wouldn't have the money to pay for the first operation - and it has not been paid.

The thing that really hurts is this: my siblings were talking behind my back, when I am ready to fork out the money for the second operation alone to let my father go through the operation as soon as possible, purely out of love for my father.

It was also clear to me that my siblings had this 'plan' in mind: to let me settle the bulk of the bill for the first operation while the rest of them split up and pay the remaining sum.

As the devil's advocate, William thinks that they are so angry with me is because they feel that I have 'spoiled' their plan. They were hoping that by saying,"I don't have money." they either do not have to pay or pay less for the bill. And they were shocked to find out that I wanted to play the same game by claiming that I don't have money after paying for the 2nd operation.

Yes. I won't have enough to pay for the first operation after paying for the second, but I have never harboured the thought of claiming "I don't have money" even if I don't have. I would return to working full-time. I would try to think of ways to bring in more money to pay off the bill.

Everything can wait. My broken bedroom door without a knob can wait. My full-height shoe cabinet can wait. My bomb shelter feature wall can wait. Coco's education fund can wait (even though I know it can't). But my father can't wait.

I left in a huff. I could not stay in the house a second longer. My father was asking my third sister to stop. She would not.

In my utmost anger, I hurled a vulgarity phrase at her before I left.

Not the best testimony for God. But I have had it up to here.

They are so blinded by the lack of money or the reluctance to part with their money that their judgment is blinded, and accuse my father being blinded by his desire to have the second operation.

They are so anxious to keep their money to themselves that they are not willing to share how much they have in savings even when I told them openly that I have $40k, thinking that it would set their mind at ease to share since I have taken the first step in sharing.

They are so selfish towards my father that they would insist that the restructured hospital is better when clearly, the doctor at the restructured hospital does not have the relevant experience at my father's case and my father would be his guinea pig if he ever goes there.

They are so blinded by their unwillingness to pay for the bill that they insisted on delaying the treatment. They claimed that my father was not ready for the second operation when three doctors had already given the green light for my father to go under the knife, after questioning and checking, on top of running tests on him to make sure he was fit enough for the second surgery.

They insisted that my father should have the physique as any other 70-year-olds before he could go for the operation. I questioned that possibility,"Have you gone on a diet before? He doesn't consume meat or rice. For an adult, how can a milk diet suffice? How can milk alone provide enough fats or nutrition for an adult body?"

They said they haven't gone on a diet before, but milk is sufficient for an adult body.

This is how blinded they have become.

I asked William if I could have done it better, to avoid having the scenarios of my sisters shouting and screaming at me. Was it because I refused to discuss with them when they called for a discussion?

They held a discussion at my parents' place after my father was deemed fit, by the doctors, to go for the next operation.

They asked me to attend it at 3pm. I told them I was not free as Coco's exams were near.

At 5pm, my mother called. She asked me if I would be attending it. They seemed to be waiting for me.

I said no.

I asked my sister what they were going to discuss since it was straight forward: Father wants the operation at the private hospital, and he wants that surgeon who did his first operation.

She refused to divulge more but asked me to simply turn up.

My father told me the next day that they had pressured him to go to the restructured hospital and also, delay his treatment till the first bill's review was over.

I told him no. He may die if he goes to the restructured hospital because the doctor is not confident and he has never done this before.

William said that they are angry with me because I did not go for the 'discussion'. And the 'discussion' was not meant to be a discussion. It was meant to be a session where they pressure me to agree with their decision of delaying my father's treatment and going for the restructured hospital after the delay.

"Don't even think about you changing their mind at the 'discussion'. It was meant to change yours."

I was still hopeful,"Could I have prevented all the shouting and screaming from happening by coping it better?"

"No. They have different priorities. As long as their priority is not your father, there is nothing to discuss. They will not agree with you."

My confidante colleague asked if it could be because my siblings thought that I was eyeing my father's wealth and had ulterior motives behind my 'rush' for the surgery.

I replied,"My father has no wealth."

I have read a story about a guy whose wife was suffering from a terminal illness.

He spent all he had just to search for a hope.

His colleagues were talking behind his back,"He should not have given everything just to treat his wife. He is so stupid. He should let her be."

The guy wrote that they were saying the things they did because they did not have a family member suffering from such an illness. If they did, they would also give all they had to treat their loved ones.

And I had always thought this would be our stand.

Now I know, those colleagues that the guy had would not do what the guy did even if their loved ones were dying.

My father is not suffering from a terminal illness. He could be normal again and live for at least another 20 years after the second operation. He wants to go for the operation.

It is simple to me. I will give all I have to treat my father. It is a 90% success rate and complication risks are 2 to 3%. Why shouldn't I? If any of his children is suffering like this, my father would not hesitate to let us go for the second operation either, even if it means incurring a great debt.

I may be jumping to conclusions, but my gripe is: my siblings want me to absorb the bulk of the costs despite knowing that Coco's varsity education would be at stake when I take out my savings. For all their talk of love for Coco, they don't have any qualms of it happening. For all their talk of how close-knitted a family we are, they are determined to keep their money theirs and make me spend mine.

There are 6 or 7 of us. If we split the bill up, it is bearable. Each person bears the load of less than $20k. For me alone to bear the bulk, it's a heavy load on me. My elder sister said this,"Those who have money, fork it out. " The spirit behind it was to encourage everybody to pool the monetary resources together, but it seems to me they have taken it to mean that 'I don't have money' is a convenient excuse to bill themselves out of the need to pay.

Saturday, 27 September 2014

A Mixture of Prayer and Worry

I had a big fight with my siblings.

All six of them wanted my father to delay his surgery or go to a restructured hospital for his treatment - because of the high costs involved at the private hospital. They kept insisting that my father was not ready for the surgery. My father sank into a state of helplessness and hopelessness again. I was sad to see him like that.

I asked the high-EQ Coco if I could be in the wrong. If not, how could six of them were unanimous in wanting my father to go to the restructured hospital or delay his surgery?

Coco felt that if she were them, she would think that I was being selfish. 'You made the decision. The choice (of the hospital) is yours. Yet you want us to pay for it!'

Hmm ... that makes sense.

But William said,"How can wanting  to spend more on your father for a treatment be selfish? You mean you like spending more? They are the selfish ones. They want to save money at the expense of your father's life."

I confided in a close colleague and she said,"Because it's my father, if he wants the private hospital, I will pay for it. If we don't trust the doctor or the hospital, it will make us anxious or uncertain, and it will affect us mentally and physically."

I decided to liaise in secret with the private hospital. I arranged for the surgery to be booked on Monday. Fortunately or unfortunately, the clinic called me when I was unavailable, and it called my sister to inform her about the details of the surgery, and my siblings were in the know.

Most of them came to 'accept' it, or at least, they stopped shouting and screaming at me or pressuring my father to go their way.

My elder sister drove us to the hospital for the pre-admission today.

The actual admission will be done on Monday.

I was happy at first, after the admission was confirmed.

Then, in the evening, as I walked home with Baby from her ballet class, fear suddenly gripped me.

Will anything happen to my father during the surgery?

Will there be any complication that prolongs the stay in the hospital, like the last time?

Will I lose my father?

I tried thinking for an answer in vain.

The only answer is prayer.

Please pray for my father for a smooth and successful surgery, and a speedy recovery to normality.

Sunday, 21 September 2014

Good News :)

My father was discharged from the hospital after a 43-day tumultuous stay.

He couldn't wait to get out of that place, and I totally understood it.

I already felt like it was an eternity when I stayed at the hospital for 3 days! The treatment for my excessive bleeding after a caesarian was utterly painful. You get broken sleep every 4 hours - for medication or blood-pressure taking. You get worried about whether there would be more complications that require more painful treatment. And in my father's case, he had to worry about the hospital bill that jumped by thousands every night.

He got ready to leave at 11am and made a big fuss when the nurse came around just before he left to feed him through his tube. He refused to stay any longer. But it was all good in the end.

That happened nearly 3 months ago.

He has been home, with milk fed through a tube that goes into his stomach.

It has been miserable for a man who loves food.

Although the doctor mentioned that my father could have another surgery done within one to three months to get his remaining oesophagus reconnected to his stomach so that he could consume food through mouth normally again, my elder sister insisted that the doctor was giving us false hope. She said that the internet says that patients with perforated oesophagus normally do the reconnection within six months to one year.

It was bleak for me, at least. And I think my father suspected it to be the case too. We just stopped talking about the reconnection so that he didn't feel so bad about it.

My mother stopped cooking. Everybody abstained from eating in his presence. We even tried not to mention 'eat', 'food', 'hungry', 'lunch' and other food-related words when he was in earshot.

Last Thursday, when my fifth sister took my father for a review at a restructured hospital and enquired about the possibility of the reconnection surgery, the doctor was positive that my father was ready for it. However, he said that he had no experience with my father's case ie. having a two-part surgery for a perforated oesophagus. He had only done surgeries that remove and reconnect the oesophagus in one sitting. He also insisted on doing a scope to measure the length of the remaining oesophagus, which my father absolutely resisted. The breaking point for my father was: the doctor stated that there was a possibility of the reconnected oesophagus leaking or disconnecting, and if that happened, my father would have to survive on milk that feeds through his nose, for life!

The next day, we took him to the surgeon who operated on him to remove a large part of his oesophagus. We checked with him if my father was fit enough to have the remaining oesophagus reconnected to his stomach. And he said yes, after some checking and questioning. He needed to check with the cardiologist if the heart is strong enough for the second operation though.

We had tentatively booked the surgery some time next week.

I am excited about it. My father will be able to eat again!

This surgery will set us back by yet another $30k - $40k.

My sisters, as usual, hope that he goes to the restructured hospital to save costs, but I am glad that my father insists on going private. I don't know how we are going to pay the bill. As it is, we haven't settled the last bill yet. Even the surgeon urged us to go to the restructured hospital to save costs. But I know  this doctor is the only one we can entrust our father's life with.

The restructured hospital doctor mentioned that to survive a perforated oesophagus is very rare. To survive an operation from a perforated oesophagus is yet rarer. And to survive a second operation from a perforated oesophagus is the rarest! He probably never saw it (I assume this myself - the way he put it!). So how can my father go to him?

Please continue to keep my father and our medical bill that is under review in your prayer. I find that prayer had been a source of comfort and solace to my father when he was in the hospital. And it has been powerful. For so many times when situations were life-threatening, we prayed, and my father became well. For a high-risk patient, coupled with old-age complications and weaker-than-average heart and lungs due to heavy smoking, it was nothing short of a miracle that my father's life-threatening conditions became better or well over and over again.

I overheard my fifth sister telling my father that he should follow her to church after he was well and he nodded his head. For a proud man who proclaimed that he was his own god, I can't help but sometimes wonder if this incident is something that God 'allows' to happen to bring my father to Him? I can't imagine my father opening his heart to God in an otherwise strong and healthy physique.

Please pray for us.

Monday, 15 September 2014

A Date with Mother at Chihuly Lounge

My mother had mentioned that she had poor appetite. 

I called Chiluny Lounge to reserve a table for 2 adults and 1 child for an Afternoon Tea and we were there the next day.

I read that the Lounge serves 8 courses for Tea, and the mini dishes looked delectable on every blog and website.

First course: passion fruit drink with crackers and their special XO chilli sauce

The crackers were nothing out of the ordinary. I am no fan of passion fruit, but the drink was not repulsive to me. It was light and thirst-quenching.

Second course: Beef Wellington

We enjoyed it. Tender meat with a thin layer of crust wrapped around it. Although there seemed to be a hint of wasabi, it didn't hinder me from enjoying it at all.

Then I am lost here. Some said that this three-tier rack consists of 2 courses, but unless it actually consists of 3 courses, I can't seem to locate 8 courses in all!

But never mind how many courses are there in this rack. It looked so pretty I must have a picture with it.

High class hotels have high class waiters.

He must be the first waiter to take a sharp picture using my DSLR, and without a flash at that! 
A closer look at the 3 tiers:

First tier - plain scones and scones with raisins, with the hotel's special buttery cream

I like the scones here better than the ones at The Regent. These are soft on the outside as well as the inside, and the buttery cream is a cross between clotted cream and butter. Love it!

Second tier - cucumber sandwich, smoked chicken sandwich and salmon sandwich

I failed to catch what the waiter said for the second one from the left but it could be chicken mayonnaise sandwich.

Third tier - desserts (raspberry macarons, cheesecakes, passion fruit tarts and chocolates)

 Sixth course: Berries (strawberry, blueberry and raspberry) with cream

Seven course: raspberry sorbet ice-cream

I am not a sorbet person. It is just too sour for me.

Eighth course: kuehs and chocolates

The waitress pushed the cart to us and we made our choices

Baby didn't like the insides of the chocolates

We thought these green orchids in test tubes hanging from the ceiling display were really pretty and creative!

The ambience at Ritz Carlton Hotel was peaceful and classy. There were normal table-and-chair seats as well as lounge seats which we were led to. The lounge was flooded with natural light that came in from the floor-to-ceiling glass windows.

The servers were a mixture of foreign talents consisting of 1 caucasian, some filipinos and at least one other nationality that I could not tell. She looked Chinese, but didn't engage us in Mandarin when I was explaining what she said to my mother. All in all, the servers were polite and attentive although I could be overly sensitive to the 'are you sure you belong here?' vibe emitted from the male caucasian server.

The available beverages: ice teas and hot coffees

I am alien to ang moh teas. The only coffees I know are the frappucinos from Coffee Bean but I didn't want to have coffee for fear of being too filling. I had to rely on the waiter's recommendation - Earl Grey.

Each person can have a pot of tea throughout the afternoon. I asked for one pot first in case Earl Grey was not our cup of tea, but it turned out to be acceptable to us, so we opted for Earl Grey again for the second pot.

The afternoon tea cost $49++ per set. It used to have child's price for the tea but it seems to have been done away. However, the nice waiter allowed me to share my set with Baby. I would not take it as a common practice though.

Overall, we enjoyed the afternoon tea at Chihuly Lounge.