Meet Desmond Tan Kok Tat. The Malaysian expat born in the year of the dog who’s married to a Dragon.
Desmond, what Chinese Zodiac sign are you?
I was born in the year of the Dog (1958).
Do you follow the Chinese horoscopes religiously or not at all?
Actually I do not follow it at all, because if you are born in the year of the Dog, you shouldn’t marry someone who is born in the year of the Dragon. My wife Yen Ting however, was born in the year of the Dragon!
What do you know about the upcoming Year of the Dragon?
The year of the Dragon is the most popular Chinese Horoscope and from what I’ve gathered, more babies are born in the year of the Dragon.
Do you speak Mandarin?
I don’t really speak Mandarin. Basically I speak English and for dialects, I can speak a fair amount of Hokkien, Cantonese and Teo Chew.
Where in Malaysia are you from and what’s it like there? Does it suffer from traffic congestion like Jakarta does?
I was born in Seremban, small town that barely has any traffic jams or traffic congestion. But I have been away for the last 30 years and only go back for Chinese New Year as my parents live there. Life was kind of slow back then where we do not have the X box or the Playstation 3 and no computers. All we needed was a ball and a piece of flat ground and we can have a game of football or catch some fish by the river.
How long has Jakarta been your home? Do you love or hate it or sit on the fence?
I’ve been in Jakarta for the last nine years and I have enjoyed my stayed here. Occasionally I do miss going out with some old friends (back in KL). However over here I spend more time with my family, so it is only work and family time. I do manage to sneak out for a couple of hours for a good SPA and an occasional game of golf though.
How will you be celebrating Chinese New Year this year?
As usual together with my family we will fly back to KL and back to Seremban for the CNY Friday evening 20th Jan. We will have my traditional game of golf a day before CNY. On the 1st day will be the usual visits to Uncles and Aunties and on the 2nd day we will visit friends and other relatives, and as usual a game of majong with my brothers and aunties.
Does the whole family get involved in Chinese New Year celebrations, including your two high school kids?
All will be involved, as for us parents we will be distributing ang pows whereas our kids will be collecting as many ang pows as possible. CNY is also a time for all our family to get together and catch up on events and update on the latest gossip.
How much do you normally put in each ‘Ang Pow’ envelope to your children, nieces and nephews?
Standard practice is RM10 per ang pow, which has been agreed by all my brothers so that there will not be any unequal distribution.
Do you and your wife miss receiving Ang Pow? Is it a burden on the purse strings this time every year now?
Ang Pows to children are not damaging, only the ones that we give to our parents and aunties (old folks) will be expensive. Anyway it’s only a once a year affair.
I hear you love to read. What’s the latest book or magazine you’ve read (Playboy included)?
I have read the series on The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (three books) and I target to read two books a month minimum as I have a large collection on books mostly on sales and motivation.
You work for Generali – can you give us a bit of background on your job and the company you work for?
I have been in the Insurance Industry for the last 22 years and am mostly involve in agency development and training. I was with AIA, Prudential, Great Eastern and ACE before joining Generali. I help to set up the training department, recruiting the right trainers and preparing training modules. At times I am also involved in helping to recruit agents and managers for the company.