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Thread: Perm sec got dressing down.

  1. #1

    Smile Perm sec got dressing down.

    a perm sec went to a french cooking course in france over a 5 weeks period with his family. the basic course costs at least $15,000 per pax. his whole page article written by himself was published in straits times recently.

    He got a 'dressing down' by head of civil service. reason for publishing his 'lavish lifestyle' when our econ times are bad. in other words, being insensitive.

  2. #2

    Default Re: Perm sec got dressing down.

    and one time at band camp.
    Objection !!!

  3. #3
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    Default Re: Perm sec got dressing down.

    Quote Originally Posted by reachme2003 View Post
    He got a 'dressing down' by head of civil service. reason for publishing his 'lavish lifestyle' when our econ times are bad. in other words, being insensitive.
    Insensitive towards whom? Overpaid politicians whose even more lavish lifestyle may get questioned?

    (And if they advocate a humble lifestyle, why do they require an obsecenly high pay?)

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    Default Re: Perm sec got dressing down.

    maybe just 1 2 switch career? or 2nd income from F&B?
    have u seen the "light" yet?

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    Default Re: Perm sec got dressing down.

    There are many ways to look at this situation.

    From the point of view of a company, if an employee can go on a vacation continuously for 5 weeks, it means that he can be replaced.

    This is in the context of a South East Asian working environment.

    In Europe, high fliers can be granted a sabbatical of up to 1 year.

    Anyone who has worked before in this region would have the commonsense not to take 5 weeks of leave at one shot.

    He was really asking for it, especially at a time when private companies are retrenching staff.

    I do agree that he deserves the dressing down but not because he was insensitive but rather because of his lack of workplace commonsense.
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  6. #6
    vince123123
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    Default Re: Perm sec got dressing down.

    Where's the article published?

    Quote Originally Posted by reachme2003 View Post
    a perm sec went to a french cooking course in france over a 5 weeks period with his family. the basic course costs at least $15,000 per pax. his whole page article written by himself was published in straits times recently.

    He got a 'dressing down' by head of civil service. reason for publishing his 'lavish lifestyle' when our econ times are bad. in other words, being insensitive.

  7. #7

    Default Re: Perm sec got dressing down.

    Quote Originally Posted by LittleWolf View Post
    Insensitive towards whom? Overpaid politicians whose even more lavish lifestyle may get questioned?

    (And if they advocate a humble lifestyle, why do they require an obsecenly high pay?)
    The issue was the fact that he wrote the article for straits times. they didn't fault him for doing it , but flaunting it by writing an article on how much money is spent wasn't in good taste.

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    Default Re: Perm sec got dressing down.

    Quote Originally Posted by vince123123 View Post
    Where's the article published?
    found a Yahoo article.

    http://sg.news.yahoo.com/cna/2009011...l-231650b.html

    have u seen the "light" yet?

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    Default Re: Perm sec got dressing down.

    Interesting. Cos I was wondering:
    - How did he accumulate 5 weeks of leave? My best guess, this chap has not been taking leave for almost a year to be able to accumulate more than 37/38 days of leave.
    - If the amount stated for the family of 3, SGD$46,500 (or so) that would be approximately SGD$15,500 per head. Probably we haven't counted in airfares, accommodation for 37/38 days in France, Course Fees, Transport Fees, Daily Food, maybe that leaves a little for shopping.
    - What's the exchange rate for Euro? 2 to 1? Yah~ Somewhere there.
    - The article seemed to describe how our guy in question here talking about his experiences, sharing about his trip, what he learnt~ Not so much on the monetary cost (none in fact on the cost)
    - Lastly, who had been to France can please share how much did u spend on that trip F&E for all expenses, including airfare, food, transport and accommodation?
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    Default Re: Perm sec got dressing down.

    Sharing the article that's published in The Straits Times: http://www.straitstimes.com/Life%252..._322256_1.html
    Life! - Life Travel
    Cooking up the holiday spirit
    Tan Yong Soon

    For a holiday with a difference, a civil servant learns to cook at the famous Le Cordon Bleu in Paris with his family

    With a mischievous twinkle in her eyes, the young Indonesian woman asked me: ‘So, are you having fun?’

    It was end November, in the second week of my basic culinary course at Le Cordon Bleu Paris, the famous cooking school. During a short break between classes, I told her I was there with my wife and son for the fun of it. We were not preparing for careers as chefs or planning to open a restaurant. But my body language showed signs of fatigue and weariness, not those of someone who was having fun.

    I decided to attend the culinary course in June last year. My 20-year-old son Yanqiang had discussed with my wife Cher Ling, a senior investment counsellor at a bank, what he wanted to do between early November, when he would finish National Service, and August this year, when he would begin his studies at Brown University in the United States. He wanted to spend the time meaningfully.

    Cooking was always one of the activities he considered. He had been interested in patisserie, mostly in eating, but also baking occasionally.

    We found out that Le Cordon Bleu Paris runs intensive courses in culinary and patisserie from mid-November to December. These are the regular three-month classes they run but compressed into five weeks, with no loss in content.

    To my surprise and theirs, I told them I would sign up for the course with them. (Taking five weeks’ leave from work is not as difficult as one thinks. Most times, when you are at the top, you think you are indispensable. But if you are a good leader who has built up a good team, it is possible to go away for five weeks or even longer.)

    It would be quality family time for the three of us. My daughter Yanying, 23, would join us in Paris in our last week, since she could not take such long leave because she had just started working.

    My hobby is not cooking. I do not even use the oven in my kitchen. My cooking skills are limited to simple Chinese dishes, such as stir-frying vegetables and steaming fish, which I learnt as a student in England and have hardly practised since. And while I do enjoy French cuisine and wine, my favourite food is local hawker fare.

    But signing up for the intensive course would get me out of my comfort zone. Little did I know how uncomfortable it would make me. This was not a lesson where you attend a demonstration, practise a little and then sample the food with some wine.


    Sore body, cuts and burns
    The basic culinary course comprises 30 demonstration lessons, each followed by a practical. Each lesson lasts three hours. Including theory lessons and a visit to the market, it means every day there are three lessons - two demonstration and one practical, or two practical and one demo. It means 8.30am to 6.30pm almost every day, with an hour for lunch.

    At the end of my first week, my body was sore, not counting the burns and occasional cuts on my hand.

    Mentally, it was also challenging. The restaurant kitchen is a very stressful place.

    On the first day, a Dutch classmate told me he had read in the British papers that in July last year, a Chinese man attending Cordon Bleu London held up his class with a knife when he failed his basic culinary course.

    He had used up his savings to enrol in the course and was greatly distressed that he could not graduate, and his career as a chef had been put in jeopardy.

    Sceptical, I decided to Google the incident. Instead, I found a Daily Telegraph report from June last year about a trainee of French Algerian descent who had threatened to kill himself with a kitchen knife after learning he had failed the test in the intermediate course at Cordon Bleu and was denied a second chance.

    So this was not going to be a piece of cake.

    The French are very serious about their cuisine, to the extent of reportedly wanting it listed by Unesco as part of the world’s cultural heritage.

    The chefs at Cordon Bleu, which has been teaching French cooking skills in Paris since 1895, are excellent. They teach by personally cooking the dishes and explaining the finer points as they do so. At the end of each lesson, the food is presented to the class. Students quickly photograph the dish, before it is apportioned out to them to sample.

    One student asked an instructor what he could expect to do after graduating, or what return should he expect from the investment in the school fees, which are not cheap.

    Brutally honest, the chef said that even graduates who had gained the diploma (that is, passed the basic, intermediate and superior courses) would have to start from the lowest rung in a restaurant kitchen and work their way up.

    How far and fast they go will be up to their performance and dedication, and whether they are lucky to have a good chef to mentor them.


    Hectic and strict
    Who would enrol in such a course? The intensive course is not too popular as it is extremely hectic and does not allow you time to enjoy Paris.

    An American architect in his 50s had signed on for the full diploma: basic, intermediate and superior, and will be in the school until June this year. He cooks in his spare time and wants to cook professionally for clients.

    A 45-year-old Dutch chemist wanted a break to think about his mid-career options. A Spanish medical doctor wanted to hone her cooking skills. There were also others who aspired to become chefs.

    The school was very strict about attendance and punctuality. You cannot be late for class for more than 15 minutes, whatever the reason, or you will be marked absent. If you miss the demo, you will not be allowed to do the practical. Miss more than six lessons and you are out of the course - the fees are not refundable.

    And there would be no chewing of gum in the classroom and kitchen, and no smoking within the building.


    Brutal stress of Michelin stars
    All practical lessons are assessed. These make up 45 per cent of the final score. A written test towards the end of the course accounts for another 10 per cent and the final practical exam rounds up the remaining 45 per cent. The top five students of each course are announced at a graduation ceremony.

    After the first 11 practical sessions, we were each given an assessment sheet, which listed our individual marks on various aspects, such as techniques (how we trussed the chicken, how we cut the vegetables), organisation (Were we methodical? Was our table top clean or messy?) and of course, the taste and presentation of the dish.

    It also listed the grades of every student in the course. I was right at the bottom. My wife was second and the Spanish doctor was first in our section of eight students. The American architect from the other section topped the whole class.

    My son was ranked in the middle of his patisserie course.
    Last edited by jsbn; 19th January 2009 at 10:59 PM.
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    Default Re: Perm sec got dressing down.

    Continuation............

    We were encouraged to eat the food that we cooked and we did, taking it home to have, usually, with a baguette and a bottle of red wine at the one-bedroom serviced apartment we stayed in. Baguettes and wine are cheap in France. A baguette costs less than 1 euro (S$2) and a decent bottle of wine less than 10 euros.

    We also enjoyed the desserts baked by our son.

    Occasionally, we would buy simple Chinese takeaways on the way home. A simple combination of plain rice, vegetable and meat for the three of us would cost about 20 euros, three to four times more expensive than what our hawker centres offer.

    On weekends, we went out to restaurants to sample the fare. After all, we were in Paris to learn about food.

    Le Cinq at the Four Seasons Hotel George V used to be a three-Michelin star place, but lost its third star in 2007. When it did not regain the lost star last year, a new chef was installed.

    The food here was very good. Even better was the impeccable service. When the waiter brought us bread and poured olive oil in our saucers, I remarked casually to him that I thought that butter would be served in French restaurants with the bread, instead of olive oil. Smiling, he said, ‘No, monsieur’ but returned with not one but two plates of butter - one salted, the other with seaweed. The delightful service continued throughout the entire lunch.

    Our Japanese classmate said she was often puzzled why French restaurant service was far better than Japan’s when French service in general lagged behind Japan’s - she said she could recharge her mobile phone at most shopping centres in Japan when the battery was low, but she could not do so in Paris.

    I can think of one reason: the Michelin guide and the intense, sometimes brutal, competition that the public ranking engenders. One chef handed back his stars rather than have to live with the stress. And a few years ago, a chef committed suicide when rumours circulated that he was about to lose his stars.

    There was not much time to visit museums during this trip to Paris, but I managed a visit to the Musee D’Orsay, a perennial favourite of mine.

    My son, with his greater energy and because his patisserie course had only 20 lessons, visited many museums and sights in Paris.

    When the practical exam approached, we were given a list of 10 dishes among the 30 we learnt - we could be tested on any one of them. On the day itself, it came down to two dishes and we drew lots on which dish we each had to prepare within 2? hours. An external panel of judges assessed us.

    The school announced that failures would be notified immediately after the exam, presumably so that they need not turn up at the graduation ceremony.

    The Spanish doctor emerged top, my wife second. The American architect was third and to my greatest surprise, and I suspect everyone else’s, I came in fifth.

    The patisserie results followed. My son came in second in his class of 34.


    Exciting blend of old and new
    My brief Paris experience reinforces what some scholars have described as the dual nature of the French, accommodating both tradition and change.

    Tradition is a strength which is treasured in France. The Cordon Bleu harks back to 1895, even though it was bought over by the Cointreau family in 1988.

    One restaurant traced its history to 1784, more than 200 years ago.

    The last time I came to Paris with my family six years ago, the restaurants were filled with smoke.

    Since January last year, every restaurant has been smoke-free, by law. Well, most restaurants, anyway.

    At a small Corsican restaurant we went to after class, the owner was very friendly, the food delicious and cheap, but we would not want to go back because of the smoke. The recalcitrant owner smoked as heavily as the few customers inside.

    Yes, the French still smoke heavily. There are tabac (French for tobacco) shops everywhere, and nearly every adult in the street smokes.

    Yet tradition does not prevent change. New ideas and energy are injected all the time. Paris is a beautiful city because of its conservation of old buildings and tradition and yet new buildings and new ideas sprout throughout the city.

    I.M. Pei’s Pyramid at the Louvre is an outstanding example but there are many. France continues to excite because it blends the new and the old.

    The writer is the permanent secretary of the Ministry of Environment and Water Resources.
    Last edited by jsbn; 19th January 2009 at 10:59 PM.
    "Wonders of the Human Mind. Unfathomable to the highest degree."

  12. #12

    Default Re: Perm sec got dressing down.

    Quote Originally Posted by jsbn View Post
    Interesting. Cos I was wondering:
    - How did he accumulate 5 weeks of leave? My best guess, this chap has not been taking leave for almost a year to be able to accumulate more than 37/38 days of leave.
    Isn't it the case that 25 days' leave = 5 weeks as weekend days aren't counted? While i was studying and was given 22 days' annual leave, I could manage to take one month's leave each year, especially if I planned it around a holiday season with few public holidays. (I hope this wouldn't count as bragging and I won't get a dressing down.) Or am I missing something here?

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    Default Re: Perm sec got dressing down.

    Quote Originally Posted by simranjits View Post
    The issue was the fact that he wrote the article for straits times. they didn't fault him for doing it , but flaunting it by writing an article on how much money is spent wasn't in good taste.
    So the issue seems to be that this guy didn't secretly stash up his pay in swiss bank accounts, but rather actually spent it openly for something completely legit. To use this against him seems incredibly hypocritical to me.

    If the civil service doesn't want the leadership/"elite" to spend their money as they see fit, they shouldn't pay them so much money. First and foremost, those high-ups who blame him should lead by example and reduce their own pay to a level that is commensurate with a not-insensitive lifestyle. Why pay so much money if one isn't allowed to spend it anyway?

    Much more likely is that some higher ups got miffed because now their outlandish pays may receive public attention.

    Nevermind that I see a lot of people buying zhng'd cars here at a price level that easily exceeds this cooking class, not to mention all the yuppies and rich brats speeding around, showing off their Ferraris and Lamborghinis in residential areas. IMHO, cooking is a much more civilized and cultured activity, and if this is the man's passion and he can fulfil his dream, he is to be congratulated.

  14. #14

    Default Re: Perm sec got dressing down.

    So funny....
    What is wrong when people spent their money in the ways they want to?
    Why Teo Chee Hian dress him down?

    I borrowed $400k from bank to spent on a rented bird cage from HDB, why he don't dress me down?

    Silly people...

  15. #15

    Default Re: Perm sec got dressing down.

    Strange the hoo hah..... I mean he spend it on a cooking course and as our leaders always say. "pay top money for top talent". hence means he must be a top talent and if he is paid top dollar then let him spend it...
    Last edited by aeskywan; 20th January 2009 at 12:01 AM.

  16. #16
    vince123123
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    Default Re: Perm sec got dressing down.

    Well the dressing down is probably a knee jerk reaction to the negative comments from the blogosphere; so no with the knee jerk, comes more negative comments.

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    Default Re: Perm sec got dressing down.

    Quote Originally Posted by LittleWolf View Post
    So the issue seems to be that this guy didn't secretly stash up his pay in swiss bank accounts, but rather actually spent it openly for something completely legit. To use this against him seems incredibly hypocritical to me.

    If the civil service doesn't want the leadership/"elite" to spend their money as they see fit, they shouldn't pay them so much money. First and foremost, those high-ups who blame him should lead by example and reduce their own pay to a level that is commensurate with a not-insensitive lifestyle. Why pay so much money if one isn't allowed to spend it anyway?

    Much more likely is that some higher ups got miffed because now their outlandish pays may receive public attention.

    Nevermind that I see a lot of people buying zhng'd cars here at a price level that easily exceeds this cooking class, not to mention all the yuppies and rich brats speeding around, showing off their Ferraris and Lamborghinis in residential areas. IMHO, cooking is a much more civilized and cultured activity, and if this is the man's passion and he can fulfil his dream, he is to be congratulated.
    More like a knee jerk reaction.

    Nowhere in the article did I see a princely sum of $46,500 being mentioned and frankly speaking, I only got to know about the amount AFTER someone on the internet (my gawd) probably did a search (from I dunno where) and posted up the amount.

    Other comments I think I'll juz keep it in for the moment. But its strange to note that in good times, everyone starts spending money makes a big deal and fuss about it and starts trumpeting how much they'd spent. For those who did not get the chance to spend their money during good times decided to do it during times are not so good or other times and everyone starts saying the chap who spent his own moola earned with his own 2-hands is being 'showy', 'swanky' and 'not humble' about it.
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  18. #18

    Default Re: Perm sec got dressing down.

    Actually nothing wrong. Its his money, up to him how we wants to spent it.

    Just that the article is posted at the wrong period.

    He wants to throw his money into the sea, also his business.

  19. #19

    Default Re: Perm sec got dressing down.

    You guys should check out the queue outside LV everyday...I work in Taka and everyday the amount of shoppers make me wonder if we are really in a recession.

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    Default Re: Perm sec got dressing down.

    Quote Originally Posted by aeskywan View Post
    You guys should check out the queue outside LV everyday...I work in Taka and everyday the amount of shoppers make me wonder if we are really in a recession.
    The irony of it all.

    Everyone says, "Recession! Save money! Spend less!" or the worse, "No money! Money no enough!"
    Unfortunately, raw data on consumer spending and tax and earnings returns filed by shops and luxury goods stores don't lie (unless one is saying that those shops 'cook the books' to a ridiculous extent).

    Which one is more believable?
    "Wonders of the Human Mind. Unfathomable to the highest degree."

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