Death Penalty is government sanctioned punishment by death.

Yep, death. Terminal. No chance for redemption or reformation.

The crime is judged heinous enough to be deserving of nothing less than death for the person that committed, or allegedly committed, the criminal act.

Jesus was subjected to capital punishment.

Thankfully, He defeated even that.

Hosea 13:14 (KJV)

I will ransom them from the power of the grave; I will redeem them from death: O death, I will be thy plagues; O grave, I will be thy destruction: repentance shall be hid from mine eyes.

(Picture taken at Singapore Art Museum, March 2013)


What a distinct privilege. Seriously.

I had the honour of being invited to a pre-opening dinner at Lollapalooza (check out links here and here).

Full Disclosure: One of the main partners is a friend.

Now that I got that disclosure out of the way, I can speak freely.

He’s a fabulous guy. Honestly. Ask those who know him. (His wife is even better but this is not about her).

His first restaurant in Singapore is Lolla, which has global accolades. BBC ranked it as one of the top ten eateries globally. That’s pretty cool.

When he invited us to a pre-opening dinner at Lollapalooza, we were like, “What? Of course! What an honour!”

The décor has some of the DNA of Lolla – same but different is the best way to describe the place. Think Lolla made over by snazzy jazz chef musicians. Something like that.

Oh, incidentally, Lollapalooza prints a new menu daily based on the best produce available. Chefs are briefed on the ingredients obtained. This may not sound earth-shattering but their daily procurement is far from ordinary and definitely not what you get on a regular basis. You’ll understand when you see what we ate and when you visit Lollapalooza. The chefs play with flavours and textures to demonstrate the fullest expression of each ingredient while making each dish complete.

We ate (not all pictured) flatbread with mushroom conserva, cherry tomato salad, crispy potato terrine, dog cockle tartare, radicchio with crispy pig’s ears, suckling pig in milk, corned veal tongue and for dessert, quince galette.

Their signature dish is the braised tuna eye with salsa verde but we only found out later and we were too full to order any more food. That’s cool. It gives me a reason to visit again.

The food is extraordinary. The service is brilliant. I also learned that most staff (apart from one person ) has been with the company since day one. That speaks volumes.

We enjoyed the evening. A LOT!

Thanks HT!

Selected pics from the evening:

Radicchio with crispy pig’s ear

Flatbread with mushroom conserva

Corned veal tongue

Suckling pig braised in milk (mid-section)

Quince galette

A newsreader from CtiTV News in Taipei finds out as she is reading a breaking news item, in real-time, that her friend and colleague has died. She admirably maintains her professionalism but this is gut-wrenching to watch.

(Watch on Youtube and turn on captions for subtitles).

This is heartbreaking. I’m not a father but I’m sure most fathers that I know will do the same. Still, it’s heartbreaking. The girl will survive but without her natural parents.

I pray that she has good guardians to shepherd her through life.

Original Article:

TOKYO: A father froze to death while sheltering his nine-year-old daughter from severe weekend blizzards that swept northern Japan, two years after her mother died, reports said Monday.

Mikio Okada died as he tried to protect his only child Natsune against winds of up to 109 kilometres per hour, as temperatures plunged to minus 6 Celsius.

Okada was one of at least nine people killed in a spate of snow-related incidents as blizzards swept across Hokkaido island, police said Monday.

The latest confirmed victim was Kuniko Jingi, 76, who was found lying on the street late Saturday. As with many others, she appeared to have perished after leaving her stranded car, a local police officer said.

Okada’s body was uncovered by rescuers looking for the pair after relatives raised the alarm. Natsune was wearing her father’s jacket and was wrapped in his arms, newspapers and broadcasters said.

The pair had last been heard from at 4pm on Saturday, after fisherman Okada picked his daughter up from a school where she was being looked after while he was at work.

Okada called his relatives to say his truck had become stranded in the driving snow, which was several metres deep in places. He told them he and Natsune would walk the remaining kilometre, the Yomiuri Shimbun said.

The two were found just 300 metres from the truck at 7am on Sunday.

Okada was hunched over his daughter, cradling her in his arms and apparently using his body and a warehouse wall to provide shelter, the Yomiuri said.

He had taken his jacket off to give to the child, a broadcaster said.

Rescuers said she was weeping weakly in his arms, the paper said.

The young girl was taken to hospital where she was found to have no serious injuries. Her father was officially pronounced dead by doctors at the same institution near their home at Yubetsu on Hokkaido.

The Yomiuri said Natsune’s mother had died two years earlier from an unspecified illness.

The paper quoted neighbours as saying Okada had been a doting father who would often delay the start of his working day to enjoy breakfast with his daughter.

His death came as families all over Japan celebrated Girls’ Day, a festival in which they gather at home and decorate houses with dolls.

“He reserved a cake for his only daughter and was looking forward to celebrating Dolls’ Festival together,” a neighbour told the Yomiuri.



My second RIP post in a row. The legends of my youth are no longer young, now that I am 48. Hal David may not have been known to many but he was supremely talented, penning songs for the likes of The Beatles, Frank Sinatra and Dionne Warwick. He was a kingmaker, not a king. Son of a Jewish deli-owner, he died of complications from a stroke at 91. He had a great innings.

Together with long time collaborator, Burt Bacharach, they penned classics such as “Raindrops Keep Fallin’ On My Head”, “I Say A Little Prayer”, “What’s New Pussycat?” and “Do You Know the Way to San Jose?”

Burt Bacharach himself said, “David’s lyrics for A House Is Not A Home and Alfie were ‘as good as you can get’.”

Alfie is one of my favourites. I’m including the link here. I respect him for the simplicity of his language but the depth of emotion and meaning those few words elicited. Exactly what I strive for in my own writing.

This is a man with a sensitive spirit and a delicateness of touch with language. He uses simple words combined to present insights, truths and possibilities that caresses and questions the soul.

If he were a chef, I’d make him a Michelin 3-star.

Alfie, sung by Joss Stone:

Read the article on TODAYonline. 

Progress. I know opinions are divided but IMHO it’s progress.

“For drug trafficking cases, the Government has proposed to make the death penalty for drug trafficking no longer mandatory but to be imposed at the discretion of the courts, if two conditions are met, said Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean in Parliament today.
First, the trafficker must have only played the role of courier, and must not have been involved in any other activity related to the supply or distribution of drugs. Second, discretion will only apply if – having satisfied this first requirement – either the trafficker has cooperated with the Central Narcotics Bureau in a substantive way, or he has a mental disability which substantially impairs his appreciation of the gravity of the act.”

May be good news for Yong Vui Kong. And he may have Van Tuong Nguyen and others to thank.

I’m a firm believer of justice. But I’m also a firm believer of second chances.

Image Source: The Straits Times

This week I saw a part of MM LKY that I only had fleeting glimpses of in the past.

His persona and achievements are larger than life and it is so very easy for me to see him as Lee Kuan Yew and not a human being – a man of flesh, blood and emotions – just like me.

I saw a few images of him this week that shook me to reality and made me realise that he is no different from me. In humanity, that is. I’m not for a moment suggesting that I’m as accomplished as he is – no, by no means! But what I saw was that he is just as human as I am.

Some of the images I saw and read struck me to the core. For example, when he brought his hands to his lips and planted a kiss onto the forehead of his wife’s body lying in the casket – not once, but twice. Humanity.

So often, he seemed and was portrayed as a harsh, hard man. And perhaps, he was at one point. We all were angry, idealistic young men at one point (I speak for the men). I know I was. I am much softer and reflective now than I was when I was younger.

Then there was this picture of LKY’s grandson Yipeng with his hands on LKY’s shoulder. To see a grandson comfortable enough to do this, and in public, speaks a lot. Humanity.

In his eulogy, he spoke about kissing his wife on the cheek when she was recovering from her stroke. I never visualised LKY as a man who would tenderly kiss anyone’s cheek, even his wife’s. Humanity.

To be honest, I’m not so grieved by Madam Kwa Geok Choo’s passing as I am for Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew. We all have to go. As brutal as it may sound, it is the truth. I’m going, LKY is going, you’re going and his wife has left.  It is what it is.

LKY and his wife were clearly soul mates. And this is not mere platitude. Only the harshest of human beings could not see how much they meant to each other. In the Christian sense, they were “one flesh”. Part of that flesh has departed. How hard it must be for LKY, the man. Not the PM, not the SM, not the MM but LKY the man. Flesh and bones, just like me. The person whom he loved, who was a part of him, now is no longer in the flesh. It’s tough.

So really, my sincere condolences.

My observations over the past week have cast a new light on his achievements for me. Yes, at some points during the building of the nation, he seemed tough, uncompromising and even unfair. For a period, I even thought he did it out of ego. But now, seeing his humanity, I believe he did what he did out of the love for Singapore and Singaporeans.  During the course of which, he may have offended some. This is natural for a man feisty and focused as he was. But I don’t question his motives.

I think of a father bringing up a son to the best of his ability. A father will defend his son’s honour come hell or high water. Now, I believe LKY did what he did in the way he did because he loved the country and its people.

In reality, up to this week, I never saw LKY as a person. I saw him as an icon, the Prime Minister, the architect of modern Singapore. This week, I saw him as a person – just like you and I. No difference.

I feel privileged to have gotten a glimpse of another side of Lee Kuan Yew and his family. In their desire to be private, I never saw their humanity.

Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew, my sincere gratitude and my heartfelt condolences.

Danesh Daryanani