I was very talkative and involved in sports when I was younger. I was in the school soccer team, always playing badminton with my friends at recess and always running around. I’ve always been somewhat of an extrovert, never a quiet kid who sits in the corner.
The simplicity you have at 12, when you are with your friends and before girls come into the picture and complicate everything, the simple purity of life where you play football and talk rubbish with your buddies. That’s what I remember.
The Pyramid Game was a phenomenon simply because it was in that golden era which I call “BC”—Before Cable. There were only three or four free-to-air channels so everybody watched them. There was a lot less noise and interference at that time so people from those years like James Lye and Diana Ser are still well known; Moses Lim is always Moses Lim. I still get people talking to me about it now.
Nowadays there’re just so many other options in terms of entertainment. In the 90s, the Internet was hardly as penetrative as it is now; the same for video games. Things have changed, it’ll never come again.
For me, show business was never something I’d always wanted to do. It was interesting, it was fun; it let me experience a lot of things and meet a lot of interesting people, but ultimately I wanted to do something else. I wanted to teach.
When you go out into the real world, it’s tough. When I first left MediaCorp to come to TP I had to photocopy my own things and do my own filing. People don’t care who you are. Once upon a time you were that guy on TV but here, you’re just another lecturer who must pull his own weight.
I’m very thankful to have the opportunity to teach at a polytechnic because polys play a tremendously important part in the education landscape; they teach what’s relevant, they teach a skill set, they teach what you need to function in the actual industries.
To see your graduates out there working in the media, all professional young men and women, you feel this tremendous pride. That’s the pay-off of the job.
I still work on selected events. Not merely as a host because I give my input and my ideas to clients—almost like an event consultant. It allows me to know what’s going on in the industry and to build a network of contacts who can collaborate with my students. It’s good to keep your skills sharp.
I’m not a fan of molecular gastronomy, I like my food hearty and solid. Often it’s a case of the “Emperor’s New Clothes”. People are scared to seem shallow and ignorant so they don’t give their honest opinions. Some of it is good and some of it isn’t; that’s it! The best char kway teow or nasi briyani can be as good, if not better. You talk about cappuccino foam with slivers of sea urchin. Really? Can I have my steak please?
Being a dad is my proudest achievement; it’s been a great journey. It’s easy to biologically create a child but to be a father is a complex, holistic role that’s about responsibility, unconditional love, setting good examples and really taking care of someone.
I think it would be great to be a grandparent—at an appropriate time of course!
My simple philosophy is: “Get it done.” It’s not Machiavellian but if stuff needs to get done, get it done.