"You must have a rich father to be able to study veterinary medicine in Scotland?" the project officer of similar age to mine, said. 30 years ago, one British pound was 8 Singapore dollars and those who studied overseas were from wealthy families.
"No," I said. "I was fortunate that the British Government gave the Colombo Plan Scholarship to enable me to study veterinary medicine in Glasgow University, Scotland. Now, Singapore has become a developed country and is in a position to offer ASEAN scholarships to students so that they can go home to help their country people."
I met him and his boss (a younger man in the family business) yesterday Nov 22, 2010 as my friend Khin Khin, asked me to be present to help her in her discussions about export Myanmar sand to Singapore. The Singapore English, thinking and culture of business is clearer to me than to her and so I was useful to her. The JTC would be tendering to buy sand on Dec 3, 2010 and Khin Khin was anxious to close a deal as an agent. If successful in getting 5 million cubic tonnes of sand for 18 months, she could get a commission of some $200,000/cubic tonne or some large figures. It sure beats spaying a dog for $200.00 as I will need to spay every dog in Singapore, probably.
Personally, I am not interested in this wheeling and dealing as it waste a lot of time. But I do attend some of Khin Khin's meetings and I do meet interesting characters for my stories. At the meeting, I will write notes for Khin Khin as she listens and learns the tricks of the commodity agency trade. For the past two years, she has not closed a deal. Well, I better stick to veterinary medicine.
After the meeting, the project officer invited us to have some coffee. Khin Khin had to go and I stayed behind to socialise with him and his boss. This boss is a young man and I said: "You must be driving a Lamborghini or a Ferrari," I had the impression that he was the type who would be doing it since his business must be successful. Supplying sand to the JTC is big business and if he can think of doing it, he must have the financial backup as there are financial performance bonds and penalties. He said that the freight cost of importing the sand from Myanmar to Singapore would cost more than the sales price of sand, which if rejected by the JTC would cost him a lot of money. That meant that he has the sufficient funds to undertake this venture.
"No, no," the young man said. "I drive a BMW."
The project officer said: "He would be buying a Lamborghini soon."
I was impressed.
"Well, I put in a bid when the LTA auctions the car," the young man said. "The LTA (Land Transport Authority) caught its senior manager milking it millions of dollars and is trying to recover some monies back by selling this senior manager's Lamborghini soon."
As a car depreciates in value, the LTA can't wait till the end of the court case to sell this car. This young man may be lucky to get a Lamborghini at below market price!