Kinder surprises

This is Stuttgart Palace Square, a nice place for a walkabout. It is in the heart of Stuttgart with a central column flanked by historic buildings and garden.

This is Stuttgart Palace Square, a nice place for a walkabout. It is in the heart of Stuttgart with a central column flanked by historic buildings and garden.

I THOUGHT it was the worst trip abroad I had ever made. I felt miserable on the morning I was about to leave for home.

But on my way to Frankfurt airport by train, I was seated opposite a fine young gentleman. The handsome junger Mann took out a box of Kinder chocolate and asked if I would love a piece.

I smiled and declined with thanks – as I am not a chocolate person. But I got curious when he smiled as he unwrapped each piece of the chocolate.

So I asked: “What is written on the wrappers that amuses you?

“My girlfriend wrote a message on each of the chocolate. She is wishing me good luck in Berlin,” he replied.

I was touched – first, by the surprises of the young lovers and secondly, by the fact that he did not mind letting me take one of the love messages.

I didn’t ask his name. He is the kinder surprise.

Oh yes, didn’t the elderly-looking German whom I met at the supermarket offer to buy me a bunch of flowers as I stood there, admiring those nice blooms?

In his limited English and with hand signs, he said: “You pick one, I pay.”

I thanked him and declined. He expressed joy that he managed to get his message across.

And didn’t I enjoy the Beer Festival at the Octoberfest?

As I sat at Frankfurt airport, I took comfort that not all Germans are rude, cold and arrogant after all. I should not have so concluded based on just one or two cases. There are strange people and unusual things happening everywhere, not only in Germany!

Before I left home earlier in the week, there was this newly-minted Datuk who lodged a police report that he was cheated of RM604,000 in pursuit of his titular dream.

I asked the Federal Police Commercial Crime Investigation Department (CCID) director Datuk Acryl Sani Abdullah “what is there to complain – he wouldn’t have been a Datuk if he didn’t pay the contribution?

Acryl replied: “Actually, the title conferred on the complainant is genuine. The procedures all followed. But these people had conned him into making a contribution to a royal foundation. So when he counter-checked with the royal household, no such contribution was ever received.”

At my request, the former CP of Sarawak said: “We hope to get the mastermind charged in court. The police would like to remind the public to be always wary when approached with any proposal by anyone, especially when it involves money transaction.

“Do not hesitate to check and double-check the authenticity of the person or the agency he or she  represents.

“Always check the telephone numbers with the agency’s credible website. Any claim purporting investment with big returns or promises of obtaining land, titles, etc with ease are always laced with deceit. Never fall easily to sweet talk.

“And most importantly, a government agency will never ask or receive payment of any kind, be it for service rendered, fees, penalties, etc, by means of crediting money into personal account and after office hours.”

Sounds like good advice. But in the first place, aren’t honorifics given to only deserving persons who have made meaningful contributions to the country or humanity?

Is this called a “bribe” or a “corrupt”act as some would have it?

In the case of the Datuk in question, what do the other awardees think about his conferment? Will his fellow Datuks feel after all he has “actually” done, shouldn’t his “contribution” be given the kind of recognition and honour due to all recipients of the same award?

The catch here is, of course, the extraordinary circumstance involved. After all, if a donation of half a million can let you enjoy the plums of an honorific title – datukship in this instance – why go to all trouble to earn one that is truly deserving when there is a shortcut available?

Stranger still is when a local company, manufacturing bottled drinking water, was alleged to have been producing a batch of products not conforming to the specified chloroform parameters and it threatened to sue the leaker(s) of the confident information.

“We only found out yesterday (Wednesday) that the letter had been leaked out and circulated on the social media, which has affected both our company’s reputation and sales. We are puzzled as to how such confidential information could have been leaked out.

“While our side is carrying out our own investigation, we have been made to understand the Ministry of Health (MOH) too is investigating the matter. We are in the process of taking legal action as our investigation is still on-going,” a company spokesperson said.

Yes, it’s, indeed, a serious matter that a government letter has been leaked out but the reasonable response on the part of the company was taking the necessary action to address the safety issues of its bottled water for public consumption.

I heard this song – Our Values Are Under Attack – in a cab. Part of lyrics echo my thoughts:

 

Well I’m looking at the World now

And it’s going insane

Thinking ‘bout checking out

Can’t do it again

But I know just who I am

How strong I can be

And I know I’m the only one

Who can help us be free

 

Our Values are under attack

And the bad guys get the benefits

Rest of us pay their way

Patriots are under attack

Just for having their say

Well, I’m riding down freedom road

Agents on my tail

You wave a flag on Christmas Day

They’ll throw you in jail!

 

This country’s yours and mine

It’s the home of brave and free

It’s the place for you and me.

 

The song actually ended with hope:

 

It’s Only a Matter of Time

’Till we get things back on track.

 

Indeed, it is only a matter of time that things will get on track. We may not understand why things happen the way they do. But hold on!

As the Lord declares: “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways. As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.”

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