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The WEATHER on MONDAY (3 Jun 2002): Showers with thunder in the afternoon mainly over northern, eastern and western Singapore.     WEATHER OUTLOOK:  TUESDAY & WEDNESDAY: Late morning and early afternoon showers with thunder are expected.    WATER TIDES (this month)  High tide 3.45am  2.4m   6.13pm  2.1m    SUN Sunrise  6.57am    Sunset 7.09pm   MOON  Moonrise  1.13am   Moonset   1.31pm   PSI: 37 (good)   TEMPERATURE: 26-33 degrees Celsius (The weather is updated daily before 8am Singapore time) For more information, call Meteorological Service Singapore Tel: (65) 542 7788.

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Monday with the Editor: Such a thing as a free lunch?


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Mdm Kang's Kitchen Chilli Crab

  Hi everyone

  "There's no such thing as a free lunch," I told a saleslady who came knocking at my door late last evening.

  But she was adamant that that was what she was offering - a free security alarm system for my flat. And all I needed to do was stick her company's sticker on the front gate to advertise the alarm system for her company.

  But she never got into my flat to tell more - I didn't let her in. It must indeed sound strange to many of you why I should flatly refuse a free gift. After all, an alarm system does come in handy. Actually, hindsight was behind my decision.

  A few years ago, I received a paging. Upon calling the number, I was asked, "What's your pager number?". Then I was patched through to a lady who upon coming to the line congratulated me immediately. She said that I had won return air tickets for two to Bali, Indonesia. 

  I asked, "Is there any catch?" She said, "You just need to come down to our company in Shenton Way to collect the tickets. There'll be a buffet provided." I still wasn't quite sure, so I said, "Do I need to do anything to get the tickets?" And she replied, "You just have to come down, that's all."

  I think my greed must have overwhelmed me. Being cautious by training (I was a bank officer after all), I learnt not to take things at face value. But, here I was, so mesmerised by the thought of flying FREE to Bali - that exotic land - that my years of training to be cautious were thrown to the winds.

  Luckily, my wife was more down to earth. When I told her the good news, she said rather bluntly, "There's no such thing as a free lunch." That day, I had such an argument with her over this matter that we didn't talk to each other for two days. She ended the argument, saying, "If you want to collect the tickets, go ahead. But I am not going to make a fool of myself. You are usually so careful, and yet you are taken in."

  The day for collecting the free tickets came. I was very eager to get down to Shenton Way - Hey! it's Shenton Way, a prime address, so the whole thing shouldn't be a con job after all. But, when evening came, I decided to take heed of my wife's advice. I did not make the trip.

  Sometime later, I came across some reports in The Straits Times. There were complaints from people who, like me, were invited to collect free air tickets. They complained that when they reached the place, they were told to sit through some hours of presentation about time-share schemes for resort-type rooms. They were told that they could only claim the prizes upon signing up for the scheme.

  Such hard-sell tactics were common those years. I was reminded just two weeks back that time did not make a difference when I received a call on my handphone (it's not a pager this time; pagers are almost obsolete nowadays). The telephone operator asked me for my handphone number before putting me through to a lady - hey! now that modus operandi did look familiar to me - who told me I had won a prize.

  I managed a silent laugh and interrupted her, saying, "You want to tell me I have won a prize right?" When she confirmed this, I thanked her and said, "Goodbye."

  Now, back to the story about the free security alarm, it was on hindsight that I did not let the lady in. She left, aghast that I had turned down a FREE offer. Her parting remarks were: "Good luck to you.", which I took to mean "Hope your flat doesn't get burgled." When I asked her to clarify what she meant, she retorted, "I meant, all the best to you."

  I didn't take things further. In my mind, I was trying to figure out what company would pay their staff to come to people's homes on a Sunday to give out a free security system, complete with installation. Mind you, that's many dollars to be spent for each household; multiply that by, say a hundred households, the amount comes into tens of thousands of dollars.

  It's economy-downturn time, for goodness' sake. Nobody spends such time and money giving away expensive things! I never found out whether she was sincere in giving that free lunch; just like I never found out - personally - whether the company which offered me two free return air tickets to Bali was sincere about the whole thing.

  I think it's best not to find out such things, don't you? Do have a nice Monday.

More Reading: Really no such thing as a free lunch

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Web site hosting service now available!

NEW WEBSITES  is an online travel service launched on 30 May 2002. Travellers who use it can slice an average of 20 per cent, and up to 30 per cent, off regular air ticket and hotel prices. But customers cannot pick a specific airline or hotel as this will be selected by Priceline from its pool of partners - 25 airlines and more than 8,000 hotels around the world., has brief details of men and women on the market for a spouse. There is no limit to how many people they can choose, but the other party must consent before they meet. The web site is run by the Social Development Unit's Choice Match dating service.

Click New Websites for the rest of the list.

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Current Issues Affecting Our Community

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A Remaking of Rules on Censorship: Minister David LIM's interview with The Straits Times 13 May 2002

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Food Stalls Suspended From Business

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BANKmates: Get a Personal Assistant to do your errands in Singapore.

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Public Holidays NATIONAL DAY is the next public holiday. It falls on 9 Aug 2002.

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3 June 2002

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