On the Capitoline Hill

May 25, 2007 at 4:43 pm | Posted in Just writing | Leave a comment

“Senator Barca, now that you’re retiring, what advice do you have for us younger Citizens?” A reporter from the Sentinel Post inquired.

“Son. There is little I have to impart to you young go-getters. I am an old man from a different generation,” came the reply.

Senator Barca had served the Republic for as long as anyone could remember. Having come from the finest pedigree the Republic had to offer, his career was laid out from the start. Yet little did anyone know what an impact this man would have on the growth, history and future of the Republic.

“Would you say that your time here at the Senate has been a success?” Shot the reporter from the Daily Gazette.

“Success? My friend it depends what success is. For some of my fellow Citizens, it is the amount of money they have stashed away in the banks. For others the size of their Villas or their sedans. Me? I tend to define success as the ability to go to sleep at night knowing that what I did today was right. I am a man of simple expectations. I am successful because I can retire without regrets,” Senator Barca waxed on.

As a young tribune with the 4th Legion, Senator Barca had successfully out down the rebellion led by some leading families who had hope to seize power. Unlike most other tribunals who served time in the legions so as to advance their careers, Barca worked hard for his men. His commanding officer, Legatus Legionis Parvian, once mentioned that his young tribune would shake the very core of the Republic. Having instituted a pension for the men of the 4th, affordable housing for their families, proper education for themselves and their children, and ensuring that injured and handicapped members of the 4th were well cared for after their discharge. Barca’s efforts earned the 4th the nickname “Barca’s Lucky Boys,” which it still proudly displays on all its official letterheads.

“What do you think is your greatest accomplishment, Senator?” Came the question from the back.

“Being able to retire knowing no one is waiting around the corner to stab me,” joked Barca.

Barca’s career was paved with much accomplishment. He successfully ended the Moravii dictatorship that had usurped its powers. He had improved the living conditions of the lower classes. Having served as Consul twice, he had turned down the post of Consul-for-life when offered to him by the people. He served as Dictator numerous times, but each time after the threat had passed, he stepped down immediately and returned power to the Senate. A lesser man would have seized power, but not Barca. The young Republic needed proper role models on how to rule itself, and Barca ensured that the institutions set up did not atrophy from lack of use.

“What will you do after this? Can you really walk away from all this power and privilege? All the perks and wealth?” Came a pointed question from the Sun Herald reporter.

“Yes. I can. That’s the short answer. I look forward to spending time with the grandkids at my estate. I also look forward to tending my vines. They have been neglected these many years,” Barca answered looking wistfully at his estate over the hill.

“Well gentlemen, if you do not mind, I have a retirement to enjoy and a whole lifetime’s worth of living to do in a decade or two.” Senator Barca walked out of the Senate Halls to the setting sun and the cheers of the people lining the streets from the Capitoline to his villa. It indeed is rare to have a man taste ultimate power and walk away just as contended as when he first walked in.

2025: A fictional tale (part 2)

April 11, 2007 at 3:55 pm | Posted in Just writing | Leave a comment

Note: this is a long story so going to break it up into two parts. This is part two.

A History of the Orchid Revolution by Modernburrow (written in 2050)

Pg 209 – 2025 CE

From June 29, 2025 Philip Kung is Dictator, and institutes a flurry of reforms in an attempt to save the Republic. The period comes to be known as the 100 Days Reform.  Within three months of his election as Dictator, Kung manages to pass many reforms to the institutions of the Republic.

Election Reforms

Election Fees are fixed to the average monthly wage of the previous year. Also the voting age is lowered to 18.

The Elections Commission is establish as an independent body which is comprised of 15 members. 6 are appointed by the President, 1 by the Chief Justice, 8 by the Senate (more on that later). Boundaries are to be redrawn every 10 years after the Census or Household survey. Each seat is to represent a roughly equal amount of electors. With the maximum number of  First -past-the-post seats in parliament capped at the total number of electors divided by 25,000.

Uber Constituencies (UC) are capped at 4 MP maximum, and 3 MP GRC are to comprise of 75% of all UC. UC are also not be comprise more than 60% of the total number of First-Past-the-Post seats.

Proportional Representation seats are introduced as well. The number of such seats are set at 30% of the total number of first-past-the-post seats. Candidates are selected from party lists submitted by the parties at the time of nominations. Also those on party lists cannot run for first-past-the -post seats. Electors choose on their ballots which first-past-the-post candidate they support and which party they support. The top party gains 35% of the Proportional Representation seats, while the party that comes in second gets 30%, and the party that comes in third gets 20%, with the remaining 15% divide equally amongst the remaining parties that got more than 5% of the electoral vote. If there are less than 4 parties then there will be no Proportional Representation seats during that seating of parliament.

Parliamentary Reforms

Parliament is converted into a bicameral legislature with the People’s Assembly (PA) forming the lower house and retaining all the powers of the previous unicameral Parliament. The Prime Minister and his cabinet will be selected from the PA. PA committees are to be filled with MPs from both sides of the house proportionate to their numbers (with a minimum of 1 Opposition MP). If there is only one party, then a Senator will take the place of the Opposition MP. A compulsory retirement age of 72 is imposed on all MPs.

Creation of the Senate (Upper House). Senators are capped at the total number of the electorate divided by 100,000, with the minimum set at 20. All members of the Senate are appointed for a term of 5 years, with the term limit set at 3 terms. The minimum age is set at 35 for being appointed as senator. A Senator must be a Citizen of good standing who has performed a significant service for the community, or has made important contributions to the country, or represents a distinct interest group. Also all Senators cannot have party affiliations past or present. Certain organizations are guaranteed seats. The National Religious Council (which all officially recognized religions must join) gets 2 seats. The National Volunteer Council gets 1 Senator. The trade unions get 1 Senator. The National Welfare Organization gets 1 seat. The National Chamber of Commerce gets 1 Senator. The Women’s Action Group gets 1 seat. The Environmental Lobby gets 1 seat. The Medical Society gets 1 seat and the Legal Council gets 1 seat. Each minority group over 5% of the population is awarded 1 Senator. All these seats are appointed by the President. The remaining Senators are appointed by a Selections Committee. The Selections Committee is comprised of 9 members, of which 4 are selected by the President, 2 by the previous government, 1 by the Chief Justice and 2 are the ex-chairman and secretary of the previous Selections Committee.

The Senate is granted the power to veto a bill that is passed by the PA, and force the PA to make amendments to the bill before resubmission. A bill can only be vetoed twice, on the third passing of the bill by the PA, it is sent to the President. The PA can override a Senate veto if the bill is passed by a “two thirds +1″ vote on the bill. The Senate has no power to amend bills, it is a straight up-down vote on each bill that is presented before it by the PA. It can, however, suggest amendments to be made by the PA. The Senate is given special powers with relation to the annual governmental budget. While they may not amend the budget, they are allowed to veto the budget indefinitely (the override can still be used). If the new fiscal year starts and the budget has yet to pass, then an emergency supplemental budget kicks on based on last year’s budget with an inflation adjustment. The emergency budget expires when a new budget is passed.

Legal Reforms

The Internal Peace and Security Act (IPSA) goes through major overhauls. Under the reforms, a person can no longer be detained indefinitely without trial under IPSA. Instead he can be held without trial for one month, after which the Home Minister may seek an extension of one month from the IPSA tribunal made up of 1 Senator and 2 Supreme Court Justices. After that a further two weeks extension must be sought from the Senate Committee of Legal Affairs. So a person can be detained under IPSA for a total of 10 weeks, after which a case must be brought against him, or he must be released. Also the initial IPSA warrant must be signed by the Home Minister, President and President of the Senate. The Secret Police is also disbanded. Instead all future cases under IPSA will be handled by the counter-terrorism bureau within the Police Force.

All print publications are not longer required to renew their licenses annually. Instead they are given either 3 year licenses or 2 year licenses, which is determined by the Information Minister. Also Broadcast stations are given 4 year or 2 year licenses.

A Freedom of Information Act is implemented. Any non-classified information must be released upon request. Any information classified as Restricted has a one year waiting period, while those classed as Classified have a 2 month waiting period. Secret documents have a ten year waiting period, Top Secret documents have a 30 year waiting period. Super Top Secret documents have a 50 year waiting period. Furthermore all classification must follow the standardized rules on classifications. Any misuse of the classification system will lead to a review of the document by the FIA review committee which is appointed by the President.

These are just a smattering of the reforms conducted by Kung during his time as Dictator. After the 100 Days Reform, Kung set about preparing for fresh parliamentary elections, which he set at January 30, 2026.  Also Presidential elections were set on the same date. Despite entreaties from many quarters for Kung to run as President or to form a party to contest the election, he stated that he was done after these elections, and leaves the future of the Republic to other capable hands. Upon the election of a new PA, Senate and President, Kung stepped down as Dictator, and returned to his hobby of blogging and his old job as a agricultural science researcher. It was later revealed by the Treasury Minister in the 2026 Budget Debates that while as Dictator, Kung drew a salary of $6000/ month, far less than his $8000/month he was making as a Lead Researcher.

This is the end of it. I hoped you enjoyed it. I also hope that this piece of fiction is realistic enough for most of you. Please note that this does not represent any particular country as speculated by the comments in Part 1. There is no such country in existence in this world. This country exists purely in my mind, because I have a vivid imagination. 

2025: A fictional tale (part 1)

April 11, 2007 at 2:31 am | Posted in Just writing | 3 Comments

Note: this is a long story so going to break it up into two parts 

A History of the Orchid Revolution by Modernburrow (written in 2050)

Pg 206 – 2025 CE

Philip Kung is declared dictator by the people. The collapse of the government by spontaneous street riots which is now known as the Orchid Revolution comes as a surprise to the old guard elite and their supporters. The details are as follows -

April 14, 2025 – The government decided to raise salaries of government ministers while refusing to increase help to the ever growing poor.

April 17, 2025 – A tame debate is carried out in parliament over the raising of salaries. Government MPs tow the party line. All opposition MPs (10 out of 83) walk out of the debates when it is revealed that there would be no vote on the issue.  Salaries are increased.

April 18, 2025 – A blog goes viral, with blogger Philip Kung arguing that enough is enough. The post is entirely satirical and it calls for many radical changes to the current institutions of the Republic. Including the creation of a bicameral legislature, opening up of the press and major reforms to the Internal Peace and Security Act (IPSA).

April 20, 2025 – The Secret Police pick up Philip Kung and attempt to make him recant his post. Kung refuses and is kept in White Road Detention Center. News of Kung’s detainment spreads throughout the internet. Some bloggers protest by holding flash mobs throughout the island holding placards with “Free Philip Kung” written on them. Kung’s post begins to appear on pamphlets printed by Local Thomas Paine (later identified as Chia Kok Meng, a university student).

April 21, 2025 – Riot police are called out to put a stop to anymore protests. Signs begin showing up throughout the island overnight, asking for the release of Philip Kung. Graffiti is found sprayed all over Government Hall demanding for change. Prime Minister appears on television justifying pay increase and asking for calm.

April 22, 2025 – Tensions are high throughout the day. First casualty of the revolution is university student Steven Koh who is severely beaten by riot police and is taken to the National Hospital (He remains in comma for 5 months before passing on). Outrage spreads like wildfire throughout the island, with blog posts screaming for justice and coffeeshop talk asking if the government is overreacting.

April 23, 2025 – Pamphlet by Island Cincinnatus asks if slavery is worth the price of stability, echoing Patrick Henry’s famous speech “Give me Liberty or give me death.” It is posted on every public surface faster than the police can take it down. Small sit-in protests begin to crop up throughout the island.

April 24, 2025 – More protesters are beaten up by the police. This brings out more people onto the streets. Moderates begin to question the heavy handedness of the government in dealing with this issue. Some riot police are beaten back by protesters.

April 25, 2005 – (More detailed descriptions)

0915 – A group of about 8000 protesters storm Greenwood police station and manage to seize its armory. Policemen are held hostage within the station. Investigation done later show that the protesters were let in by some sympathizers amongst the policemen in the station. Home Minister calls out the SWAT team to deal with the situation. Greenwood PS becomes the focal point of the protesters as protesters gather outside the station to prevent the SWAT team from entering.

1020 – Attempts to negotiate with the protesters inside the station fail and the go ahead is given to take back the PS with lethal force. Including shooting through the crowd. By then a crowd of more than 10000 (including the initial 8000) had gathered outside. First attempt succeeds in breaking into the station, but SWAT team is unable to clear the crowd. Riot police is sent in. More casualties occur.

1115 – News of the Greenwood Massacre spread by SMS and cellphone. More protesters take to the street. Opposition parties organize massive rallies to protest the Massacre. They call for an inquest and the resignation of the Home Minister. Police force is stretched thin trying to control the various groups of protesters that seem to be moving towards different places. Military is activated to help out.

1200 – News comes in that 80% of reserves have refused to show up for duty, because they were involved in the demonstrations, sympathized with the protesters or did not want to fire upon fellow citizens. Another 10% of reserves mutiny after receiving arms and some officers are kidnapped.  Active National Service forces also mutiny or desert. The military is largely incapacitated.

1210 – Gurkha mercenaries are activated, but they do not know exactly where to go, and are progress is hindered by skirmishes with mutinous soldiers and policmen. Home Minister decides that Gurkhas to be deployed at Presidential Palace as a defensive force to protect the President and Prime Minister. A state of Emergency is declared by the President. All public transport stops operating, a media blackout is imposed and all telecommunications (internet and phone) are shut down.

1230 – White Road Detention Center is raided and all prisoner are freed. Philip Kung becomes the rallying point for all protesters. More and more disaffected citizens rally to him. Protesters march towards Government Hall.

1425 – Parliament and Government Hall put up little resistance and are taken by the protesters. A revolutionary council is set up, but the protests continue without much direction from the council. Protest leaders and opposition parties realize that the movement is far beyond their control, especially with most forms of communication no longer in use. Runners are used to spread information and to control the protests.

1735 – State Media Company (SMC) is taken over by protesters and broadcasts are made by tv and radio to direct the protests to certain areas.

1810 – Electricity is cut nationwide. This ends broadcasts and send the island into darkness.

2040 – Power is restored after a bloody battle between Gurkha troops and rebels.

2255 – Half the island is in smoke. Rebel leaders manage to control the various mobs and tenuous peace is restored to the island. Government forces have retreated to the City area around the Presidential Palace. Water still remains in government hand, but power and media are in rebel hands. Attempts to take the National Telecommunication Corporation (Natel) and Sunspur phone networks have so far been repulsed, but pro-government forces are basically under siege.

2315 – Philp Kung makes a broadcast asking for the resignation of the government and requesting that the President order the end of the Emergency and for all forces including the Gurkha to stand down. No reply is forthcoming from the government quarters. An uneasy truce settles upon the night.

April 26, 2025:

0500 – Government delegation meets with Rebels. Government demands for a full surrender of the Rebels. Amnesty is offered to all who partook in the civil unrest except for the leaders. The offer is flatly declined.

0550 – Government forces attempt to push out from their area. Rebel forces are beaten back, but continued assault is untenable owing to the lack of numbers on the side of the government.

0615 – Radical Rebel forces break into several former MPs’ homes and shoot them and their families in cold blood. The Health Minister’s parents are also similarly executed. Rebel leaders and the Government condemn the shootings, but Radical Rebels announce that they would continue their witch hunt unless the G0vernment resigns immediately and hand over all their personal wealth to the state treasury.

0745 – Generals officially surrender remaining troops to the Rebel leaders after several of them and their families were shot dead by Radicals. More soldiers and policemen desert the Government side. Several Police commanders and their men also desert to the Rebels. Government forces are forced to pull back due to decreasing numbers.

0915 – Rebel leaders order for a massive push against the Government line especially near the Presidential Palace. Attack in unsuccessful but high casualties hurt the Government more.

0935 – President’s extended family is kidnapped by Rebels. The move is tactical. Rebel leaders hope that this would keep them safe from the Radicals and also force the President to break from Government. Also other Government families and rounded up and placed under the Rebels so as to prevent further killings.

1120 – Gunfire within the Presidential Palace can be heard. Forces loyal to the President attempt to break the President out of the Presidential Palace, while pro-Party forces attempt to keep him there. Rebel leaders order another assault on the Palace to take advantage of the chaos within. The President manages to escape to Rebel lines.

1245 – President dissolves Parliament and the government. The state of Emergency is declared over and all forces are ordered to stand down. Pro-Party forces refuse to heed the Presidential order and continue to hold the Presidential Palace.

1315 – Pro-Party forces now declared outlaws and Rebels are granted amnesty. Military and Police are ordered to mobilize and to take back the Presidential Palace. Rebel leaders are appointed field officers of their various ragtag groups, and the groups are given official status as Temporary Militias. The air force and navy begin to patrol near Pro-Party lines so as to prevent any escape.

1430 – Radicals defile the graves of Party founders and their ancestors. Bank accounts of various Party members are robbed by Radicals, who then proceed to deposit the money in the Central Bank.

1530 – Philip Kung is appointed caretaker Prime Minister by the President and appeals for all to stay calm and let the institutions of the Republic handle the current crisis.  He promises Party members clemency if they end the fighting now.

1705 – Some Party members surrender. This severely reduces the fighting force of the Party. Radical forces catch other Party members attempting to escape and shoot them on the spot. Radical leaders claim that they had powers of military tribunals and conducted summary trials. Moderates begin to move their militias to take out Radical militias.

1745 – Remaining Party forces surrender. The former Prime Minister is arrested by Moderate forces and held at the White Road Detention Center under heavy guard to prevent a Radical assassination.

1755 – President and Philip Kung order the disbandment of the militias and request that everyone return home. Surprisingly almost all militias disband, including Radical ones. Police and Military forces manage to round up the remaining militias that did not disband.

1920 – Peace is restored throughout the Island.

April 27, 2025 – Crowd appears before Government Hall and demands that Philip Kung be appointed Dictator.  Kung declines, but crowd insists and gets more agitated. Eventually Kung agrees to allow a referendum on the issue.

April 28, 2025 – Referendum is to be held on June 28, 2025. Kung hopes that with that much time, opposition to the idea would gather and the motion would be defeated. Also the Party is outlawed by the caretaker Home Minister.

May 5, 2025 – Philip Kung announces that if the referendum fails Parliamentary elections will be held on July 1, 2025. Also the fate of Party members will be left to the new government. In the meantime they will be held under the IPSA. All reforms will occur once the new government is installed. Also a general amnesty is granted to all rebels, including the Radicals, so they will not be punished for the murders.

June 28, 2025 -  Philip Kung is elected Dictator by a large majority. 90% of the electorate showed up to vote, of which 72.8% of them voted “yes,” 18.9% voted “no,” and 8.3% cast spoilt ballots. The President resigns and hands over all constitutional powers to Kung.

The reforms of the Orchid Revolution will be handled in part 2. Thank you for reading this long long fictional post. I had fun writing it. Hope it sounds somewhat believable to you.   

I’ll be home for Christmas…

December 3, 2006 at 11:27 am | Posted in Records of a Tiny Village | Leave a comment

I’ll be home for Christmas
You can count on me
Please have snow and mistletoe
And presents on the tree

Christmas eve will find me
Where the love light gleams
I’ll be home for Christmas
If only in my dreams

Christmas eve will find me
Where the love light gleams
I’ll be home for Christmas
If only in my dreams

If only in my dreams…

En Chang looked out of his office window to the bustling streets of the city as the radio on his table played on. It has been 5 years since he left the village for this job in the city. The job paid well, and the benefits were good. The civil war raged on, but the city was firmly in Republican hands. His participation in the Revolutionary Youth Party in college had helped him land this administive job. “We always have need for good young revolutionaries,” was what his superior said.

5 years since he had left the village. He could not go back. The village lay deep behind Imperial lines. There was no way for a member of the Republican government to safely make it past the frontlines. En Chang had been able to keep up with events at home thanks to Ah Eng who had graduated from St Bart’s and moved home to start a village newspaper. How Ah Eng managed to do it with Imperial blessings is a wonder, but who knows. They were old neighbours and En Chang, being older and “wiser,” used to take Ah Eng on adventures, like fishing or scouting out the girls at the next village (because everyone new the girls at the next village were prettier). So every now and then Ah Eng would smuggle a copy to En Chang.

This year though, there was a chance that En Chang could go home to see his parents and siblings. The Republican 5th Western Army had routed the 7th Imperial Legion. This meant that Coral City had fallen to the Republicans, and that put the village behind Republican lines. For once he could go home and catch up with Ah Ko and that crazy nut-loving Jun. It may be a little awkward though… En Chang was a staunch Republican, and he knew that most folks in the village didn’t care or were nominally pro-Imperial. He suspected Ah Eng would harbour Republican sympathies having studied at St Bart’s but he wasn’t so sure about his other friends. He knew Chun Ming had gone off to serve in the Imperial Army and was now a Captain at the Western Frontier. Perhaps Chun Ming could be convinced to swtich sides. God knows the Republican cause could use experienced warriors like Chun Ming. Fighting half-hearted Imperial troops was nothing compared to fighting savage nomads.

“Translator Lin, I have bad news for you,” En Chang’s superior spoke out loudly as he entered the room and took his coat off. “Eh? My leave is not approved?” En Chang asked a little down hearted. “Yeah. Absolutely and totally rejected,” his supervisor replied. “Oh… Well that is extremely upsetting. I had hoped to go home Supervisor Zhang…” En Chang replied now totally dejected. “Ha. Ha. Silly boy, with bad news I come bearing a Christmas present,” his supervisor half laughed, half spoke. “You’ve been promoted. Political Commissar Lin. That has a nice ring to it. Plus a military rank of Major to match. Ha. Ha. I dare say you now outrank me. Seems the Army boys out at Coral need some good old fashioned book thumping Republicanism. And the slackers upstairs decided you were the sucker, ahem, revolutionary for it. So you can go home often, plus you do not need to report to Coral until the second week of January. Go home and get packed. I don’t want to see you in here tomorrow, you political running dog,” En Chang’s supervisor boomed over the radio jovially. Everyone in the room rose to congratulate his promotion to political commissar.

Outside the snow fell heavily. Carol singers could be heard in the background…

I’ll be home for Christmas
You can count on me
Please have snow and mistletoe
And presents on the tree

Christmas eve will find me
Where the love light gleams
I’ll be home for Christmas
If only in my dreams

Christmas eve will find me
Where the love light gleams
I’ll be home for Christmas
If only in my dreams

If only in my dreams…

Unsettled Accounts

July 29, 2006 at 9:24 pm | Posted in Records of a Tiny Village | 8 Comments

Ah Ko stared out his window seemingly lost in his thoughts. I called out his name once more, attempting to shake him from his thoughts.

"Hmmmm…"

"Ah Ko what were you thinking of?"

"My younger days. Days of youthful vigour and folly. And of a lost love."

"You're not that old Ah Ko. You're only three years older than me. You love to exaggerate."

We laughed. We were not that old. I had just turned 27 and he was 30. Hardly the old men Ah Ko made us out to be. I knew of the lost love he mentioned. He was ribbing me. Ah Ko was happily married to Jing Lian with three wonderful kids, Guo Ming, Guo Cheng and Siu Feng.

I had just come back from the city for a visit. A visit to my old village. I was decided to stop by for a visit enroute to my new posting in the Western Frontier. Ah Ko was my first playmate and also an older brother of sorts. We had explored many places in our youth. My wanderlust never stopped and I drifted off to the city and eventually abroad. Ah Ko, on the other hand, settled down, married a wonderful wife and started a family.

The lost love Ah Ko mentioned was of my lost love. Not his… He and Jing Lian were in love since we all were children. Nothing would have stopped that marriage, not even their traditional parents. It was a good match anyway. No misgivings from either of their families. 

My lost love… Hui Min… I suppose that was one of the reasons that drove me to leave the confines of my childhood memories and wander the country. We were childhood friends and teenage lovers. Hui Min and I. We were the perfect couple in everyone's eyes. She was younger than me. My sister's best friend. We often hung out under the almond trees, playing silly childhood games. Ah Ko, Jing Lian, Hui Min, my sister and I. I am sure there were more, but my memory of those days are ever more distant.

I was young. I made many mistakes, and one made Hui Min leave me. Actually she did not leave me. I left her. I left her heartbroken when I told her to leave. We had miscommunicated. I had overreacted. The next thing we knew was her tearfully running out of the house with my sister, and I was on the first boat to the city. I had chosen to leave. Away from the village which I felt now held bad memories. I had left in a huff of anger, and now I return ten years later, hoping to make things right again.

"I'm guessing you'll be wanting to see her again," Ah Ko queried.

"Yes. That was one of the things on my to do list."

"Come now. We all know you came back for her."

"I suppose I'm that transparent. I have always been that way, haven't I? Thick and obvious. I was hoping age would have tempered that."

Ah Ko laughed. We laughed. Hui Min and I still wrote to each other, and when I came home to see the parents, we met up. Still there was a tension between us. I had numerous lovers, and she too had moved on. It was only when I had moved to the capital that I came to realise that I had let something so good go. I had resolved to get a posting near home and ask her for another chance.

I also knew that Hui Min had a lover. A German who had come to the village in search of a place to build a factory. He had been recalled to Germany, but I knew they still wrote each other. Yet here I was, an interloper. Attempting to steal her away from her lover.

How would she react to me? I do not know. I know each time we met, there was still a tension and also an intimacy between us. She was my first love and I was hers. That's one thing that we could never erase. We both knew still had feelings for each other. This time I had come back to apologise, even though I knew it was too little too late. I had to do this and I had to beg her for another chance. If I had known then what I now knew, I would have stayed. Too late for regrets, but not too late to get it right. Not too late to try again.

Who knows how this will end? I leave it to providence. It was providence that led her to me, and it was providence that kept us in touch throughout all these years. I could never forget her no matter how hard I tried, and just when I thought I was over her, she would send me that letter or show up. Heaven was not about to let me give her up and it is time for me to be pro-active. 

It is now or never… 

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