Support Site for The Unemployed & Underemployed
Saturday April 19th 2014

IT specialist breadwinner earned more than $10,000/month now jobless and feeling lost

Since returning from Sydney, I have been meeting up with  jobless readers at my office but none impresses  me so much as Bruce, a 40-something sole breadwinner  who spoke articulately and is full of confidence in his skills and work experience.

Retrenched less than three months ago from a banking job as a IT specialist, Bruce gave up  a more than $10,000/month salary against his will and is back on the drawing board now looking for work.

Bruce’s situation is made more acute as he is the sole breadwinner and his wife is a homemaker all this while. He has two teenage sons and they  are still dependent on him – at least for the next 5 to 7 years.

He is defnitely worried about his $3000/month mortgage repayment and will make the decision to sell his prized condo when the situation gets into dire straits and downgrades into a HDB resale flat.

Bruce has willingly agreed to answer our questionaire on his job search experience.

Transitioning: First of all, thanks Bruce for allowing us to interview you online and can you provide us with some background information on yourself?

Bruce: Hi, I am a late-40s IT executive who has had over 20 years of experience. Began my career as a programmer in the IC Manufacturing industry.

Thereafter, I moved to a Software house providing services to deploy and upgrade applications to our Banking clients. With that experience, I was then headhunted to join the banks.

I have been working in Banking IT since then (over 15 years), providing Treasury support and then moved on to Systems Administration, managing support teams.

Transitioning: What was your last occupation and you have told me that you were unemployed for a few months, can you tell us about your job search experience and also more about this?

Bruce: My last role was that of a Project Manager to deploy IT infrastructure in APAC. However, due to a department re-structure, my role was made redundant.

Since then, I have been looking for opportunities both in and out of the banking and finance industry.

Some of the challenges I faced are because being so long in banking and finance, the headhunters are  more willing to look within the same industry. For the other industries that did reply (which were very few) they mentioned that having industrial experience was key. So, it looks like switching industries mid-career is next to impossible.

Worse were the Internet applications (job sites). Of the hundreds that you send out, I had a < 1% response. Even if they do, they were for more junior roles.

Transitioning: You have told me that you are currently jobless for more than three months, what did you do in order to survive? Did you also approach the CDC for assistance?

Bruce: It has not been three months yet, but yes, I did approached the CDC for assistance. They were very helpful when you were there. However, after that, there was no follow up. No calls, no emails, nothing! Feels like a “black hole”.

To survive, we depended on our savings and cutting back on unnecessary expenses. In short, it was a changed lifestyle.

Transitioning:Did you attend any interviews during the past few months and why do you think you are unsuccessful so far?

Bruce: I had 2 interviews, but it seem that they were secured through contacts/personal referrals. The headhunters seem to be drawing a blank. Worse still, Internet applications didn’t get any response.

It seems that there is either a lack of jobs for mid to senior level IT execs/managers or it is just within banking and finance.

Transitioning: Tell us abit more about what you have learnt from your jobless experience and how it has impacted your family.

Bruce: A lifestyle change is imminent, so reduce cost. There are some fixed cost that are necessary, so cut your clothes according to your cloth!

Transitioning: What do you think you could have done to shorten the unemployment period?

Bruce: I don’t know! I have not been there yet!

But I can say, stay positive, be prepared to take the drastic measures (that you have discussed with your family.

Transitioning: Do you think that Singapore is now a more difficult place to make a living?

Bruce: I think cost in Singapore has gone up faster than salary.

So cost of rentals has gone up too. Thus, businesses in Singapore have a high running cost that will be a deterrent to many would-be entrepreneurs.

A person being a sole-breadwinner may not want to take that risk too as that would mean eating into the savings and forgoing that savings for the children’s education – which has not gone down either!

Transitioning: What do you think the government can do to alleviate the current employment situation?

Bruce: With the influx of foreigners in the Singapore market, there are many roles with could have been prioritized for Singaporeans and I do hope that policies will be put in place to protect the locals.

Transitioning: Many people have blame foreigners for competing jobs with us, what is your view on this?

Bruce: As mentioned in Q8, there should be some priorities for the locals. I do believe that there are many jobs, IT or non-IT that some locals don’t want to do. These jobs can be opened to the foreigners. Even jobs that the locals do not have relevant skills, these should also be opened to foreigners, however skill/knowledge transfer should take place to build these knowledge and skills locally (if not already being done).

It also doesn’t take a genius to figure this out. NS (or reservist duties), this seems more of a disadvantage to the locals. Why would a firm hire a local when he can get a PR, with a same/lower package and work more days in a year?

Transitioning: Lastly, what’s your advice for those who are still jobless and feeling down?

Bruce: Discuss the plans with the family; they should all buy-in to help reduce cost.

Keep your close friends close and if you have someone to help you through the journey, that’s better!

Continue to build your networks, and upgrade your skills.

Thanks and end of interview.

Editor’s Note: We have extended our career coaching service to the reader.

Reader Feedback

40 Responses to “IT specialist breadwinner earned more than $10,000/month now jobless and feeling lost”

  1. auto says:

    $3000 mortgage? why does he buy into such expensive housing?

  2. john168 says:

    you can always venture overseas to find works. im sure there are jobs in Qatar, Dubai and many other places.

  3. chillax says:

    i think 3k mortgage is reasonable. anything more than 10k would be expensive

  4. J Y says:

    Is it possible to rent out a room in your condo? Or even rent out the whole condo and live with your parents? I have heard of people renting out their HDB flat and moved in with their parents.

    Selling the condo/ flat should be a last resort. Downgrading to a resale flat may not be the best option. The profit may not last long especially now when living costs are rising.

    I know of someone selling the flat to rent a room, but money is running out fast. It is not wise to monetise your only shelter.

  5. Charles says:

    If you are good, just get a decent job overseas. If you cant get one there, ask yourself the question if you have been worth your pay.

  6. jj@39 says:

    It is easier to find job overseas than finding job locally?

  7. Lim Ah Kow says:

    In today’s world of ever shrinking economic cycles, it is no longer sufficient to live within one’s means. We now need to live under our means so that we will have a buffer for when the bad times hit us. So, if we are earning $10k, we should live the lifestyle of someone who earns $6k or even $5k.

    • jj@39 says:

      i agreed with your point.
      If earn $10k & spend $9k or all $10k. You can’t save much or can’t save anything. That is consider not good.

      • David says:

        jj@39, I understand that we can’t save much or anything if we earn $10k & spend $9k or all $10k which is consider not good.

        However this is how it work in Singapore.

        If you are a spendthrift especially when you are unemployed with little or no saving, government bodies like CDC will help you by providing financial assistance to aid you.

        However if you are unemployed but thrifty with some saving, you are not qualify for financial assistance scheme from government bodies like CDC to aid you & you are on your own even you have a family with children to support who are all Singapore Citizens.

        So this is how much Singapore Government can do to encourage and motivated Adult Singapore Citizens to give birth to more baby to have more Singapore Citizens in Singapore in near future.

        Thumb down for Singapore Government & Parliament because they really needs to reflect & think seriously if they are really encouraging and motivating Adult Singapore Citizens to give birth to more baby to have more Singapore Citizens in Singapore by action & not empty talk!

        • jj@39 says:

          Don’t count on cdc for providing financial assistance.

        • Tan Ah Kow says:

          If you have savings, why would you need to depend on CDC? The whole idea of living under your means is so that you have adequate savings buffer to tide you through a rough patch WITHOUT having to rely on anybody.

          • David says:

            This is my saving & does not come FOC or easy money.

            The most important issue is the infant care cost $1000+ per child & it will only last less then 3 months for my 2 children.

            It is always easy to withdrawal my children from care centre but always hard to put them back & have to wait in waiting list.

            My question will be who will look after them when my wife & I have found a job if they are still on waiting list?

            Apart from that I did not even talk about foods, bills & etc for the whole family which mean my children may even last less then 1 or 2 months in care centre.

            That is the reason why it is time to look for MP, CDC & etc.

            Must my wife & I have 0 saving before we can ask for help?

            The financial assistance application take time (weeks/months) to approve & in the mean time my whole family eat what?

            F the Government & Parliament for not calculate the time factor for financial assistance scheme to support the unemployed family of Singapore Citizen!

          • jj@39 says:

            Please define adequate savings.

            If i have $10K in my bank account but i am jobless for 3mths, am i eligible to go seek help from cdc & MP? Don’t tell me that i need to have zero money in my bank account or jobless for more than a year only then i can go seek help from cdc & MP?

            I believe many of us still remember a case 6-7 years ago of a man commited suicide by jumping onto the mrt track & killed by the train. He left behind a wife & 2 children. He had seeked help from various govt depts but all refused to provide finance assistance to him. They said he didn’t qualified for the finance assistance & asked him to seek help from his siblings. He was drove to his end & took his own life.

            After learning his story from the news, many donated money & food to his wife & children. I think the wife received a total of $500k. Suddenly, PAP MPs also visited the family & even offered to help them managed the money. The wife rejected their idea. I believe the wife also suffered from cancer but unsure whether is she still alive till today.

            Many locals & foreigners have commited suicides by jumping onto the mrt track & killed by trains. But many aren’t reported in the news.

            We select a govt to help us solve problems & see to our needs. And not the other way round.

  8. JOHSON-AUSTRALIA says:

    Hey, you may want to try to applying for an IT in Australia as you are well qualified. In Australia, I do believe IT, Engineering (Mining) and Healthcare jobs are in demand. Great attitude and all the best!

    • jj@39 says:

      According to the Australia Minister for Resources and Energy & all the finance reports showed Australia mining industry is declining due to less demands.

  9. Kao Peh Kao Bu says:

    Johson, if you are living in Australia, then you are obviously not in tune with the local economic climate. IT and finance jobs are going down the gurgler at the moment.

    Read this:

    http://www.news.com.au/business/worklife/brace-for-a-white-collar-recession-experts-warn/story-e6frfm9r-1226486009556

  10. logic gal says:

    Perhaps you can consider taking a more junior position that has a lower salary at $5K to $6K but would sitll be able to help you manage your loan as well as support your family for the time being. Then look to progress within the company or keep an eye ot for other jobs.

    Dont give up hope! You can also job hunt online via JobsDB, Jobs Central, Monster or get help from e2i (Employment and Employability Institute. All the best!

    • jj@39 says:

      If it’s so easy to find a $5k-6k job, he would had got one by now.

      Bruce has already applied for jobs thru jobsites but to no avail. Getting help from e2i, cdc, caliberlink, cdac is like trying your luck.

  11. Johson-australia says:

    To David: you do not need to have 0 savings before you can look for CDC. If you do have savings and do not qualify for financial assistance then you should start to look for a job. There are a lot of people with no savings who need help more than you. This money is meant for people who really need it and not those who got money but don’t want to spend it. Shame on you! Just because that they do not meet your timing doesn’t mean they are not good. They help a lot of poor people too so stop complaining lor.

    • David says:

      Johson-australia: Look here! We are all educated & we are looking for jobs everyday since the day we are unemployed which I do not needs any one to teach us to look for job as first priority.

      It has been months for me & years for my wife that we cannot find any jobs that match our experience and qualifications while our saving is low which is the reason why we have no choice but to lower our head & seek MP help.

      In few more months to go, my family will become one of them who have 0 saving if my wife & I remain unemployed so I am not shameful.

      In fact, I should not be shameful because I do not abuse the system like other people. I have hear of unemployed people who do not want to work but has a lot of cash on hand & no money in the bank which government is supporting them by financial assistance scheme.

      Apart from the unemployed, retires or injury/sick people, I cannot think of why there should be a lot of people with no savings who need help more than me when my family fall under unemployed?

      If there are really a lot of people who needs help, what is the government going to do to help the poor when they report unemployed (include retires & injury/sick people) rate is very low?

      During parliament sitting & debate, Singapore ministries & MPs can discuss about their salary for so many days but why not how they can contribute to Singapore especially the poor & unemployed Singaporean? Do they even consider to donate partial of their salary to the poor & unemployed Singaporean without using the reserve fund for raining days which can help a lot to this group of needy Singaporean?

      Talk is cheap, easy & FOC but in reality the emoticons & hardship to survive with little saving for prolong unemployed status is hard.

      So please spare a thought on us first become shooting us like a worthless shit & put shame on us without knowing what is going on with our life!

  12. jj@39 says:

    Sg govt is rich; sg ruling party PAP is rich. They only interested in spending on biz investment, stockmarket, infrastruction, military defence or make huge donations to other countries. All these helped PAP to gain fame & riches.

    When comes to providing finance assistance to its citizens. they always hesitated or set high barriers for one to be qualify. But comes to paying high salaries to their own associates, no problems at all.

    I started talking these CDC, CDAC officers since 2000. I am disappointed with them. They are defence lawyers & lackeys for PAP. Those reports & footage or pictures showed in the news, magazines or newspapers are those successful cases who received finance assistance, being used for public relationship.

    If one has attended courses or job fairs in e2i/ntuc lhub at redhill long enough. He/she will surely hear stories from those who seek help from cdc but got rejected due to various reasons. Many dislike CDC & PAP.

    Why should we vote for a govt or party that can’t help us solve our problems & create so many mistakes in administration?

    • David says:

      PM, MPs & ministers confirm that there is a needs to bring in more foreigner to bring up population & solve the elderly problems.

      However foreigner have eyes to see how Singapore government treat their citizen and understand the reality of low salary with high living cost.

      That is the reason why after so many years of mass intake of foreigners in Singapore but only a very small amount of foreigners give birth to allow their children have safe environment & good education (main stream).

      Another reason why a lot of foreigner to remain as EP/PR status instead of PR/SC status just to used Singapore as a stepping stone to earn money and go back to their country or other countries.

      So I always don’t buy their story of ‘there is a needs to bring in more foreigner to bring up population & solve the elderly problems’ because Singaporean is always at losing end.

      Why? Because foreigners who are cheated to come to Singapore can always go back home but where can we go when Singapore become a bad to worst place to stay?

  13. David says:

    To add on from jj@39 says at October 5, 2012 at 7:14 pm:

    I agree with you. My wife is a PAP supporter however after receiving only lip service but not any real help, my wife have given up on PAP.

    Must I commit suicide by jumping onto the mrt track & killed by the train like the man’s case which is about 6-7 years ago in order to get help from Singapore Government for my wife & 2 children?

    Even foreigners who committed suicide in Singapore, their family will get help from Singapore Government, so what is so special or even any use of being a Singapore Citizen?

    It only become a burden to me for 2 years as NSF & 10 ICTs (10 years) as NSman.

    • Johson-australia says:

      Have you tried looking for a lower paying job? If you can’t get one which meets your qualifications and experience, you can always take a lower paying job in the interim. Have you approached the family service centre and CDC you are under to speak to them yet? You mentioned that it cost $1000 plus per child means $2000/mth just for child care, would it be more logical to get a maid? Taking into consideration what you claim, be good if you see a FSC counselor to do some budgetting as you estimated monthly expenses seem very high.

    • jj@39 says:

      i also used to like PAP & LKY during primary & secondary schooldays. Why? Bcoz i got ‘brainwashed’ by the textbooks, teachings & newspapers provided to us students. We believed that w/o PAP & LKY, there will be no future for S’pore.

      After joining the SAF, then i started to hear something about the white horse namelist. The sons, grandsons & relatives of the richs & powerful figures in S’pore were on that list. They will be given special treatments. It was during my army days then i started to have doubts on PAP’s doings.

      The white horse namelist later turned out to be true after it was make known in the parliament house a few years back.

  14. David says:

    Johson-australia, I have give myself some time frame & if I still remain unemployed, I will lower my salary. Currently, I am looking at my last drawn salary.

    My wife & I have approached the family service centre/CDC/etc & have speak to them about my problem. How ever there is really nothing they can help us expect lip service & blindly apply for financial assistance scheme which my saving is the factor of rejection. Their advice is to come again when our saving is lower but to how much lower they say that they cannot enclose the amount.

    I do consider maid but just that my wife to not trust maid & we have limited space because we are living in HDB 3-rooms flat. Our care centre are PCF which is under MP/PAP & which the MPs claim affordable & they are ‘not for profit’ organzation. Even find private nanny also needs to queue so no choice but to remain at PCF.

    So now what we can do on our hand is to find job or saving near to 0 before seeking their help again. What a ‘Happy’ citizenship my family had in Singapore!

  15. Anon says:

    In S’pore it’s you die your business. This philosophy has been made true and even worse now with PAP policies.

    Now in S’pore, if you’re jobless and over 35+, very difficult to get re-hired for same job role and same pay. Companies and HR here will think why you’re jobless at the prime of your working life. They will automatically suspect that you’re lousy or something wrong with you.

    If you’re jobless for over 6 months, companies will also think there is some problem with you that you’re trying to hide — attitude problem, character defect, ex-prisoner, fired from previous jobs, etc etc. And they won’t want to hire you.

    Unless you have strong network of good friends who are in senior positions to help you get new jobs commensurate with your qualifications and experience.

    Otherwise majority of Sinkies who are in the above 2 categories are in a shit-hole. The only kinds of jobs available are those temp/contract jobs, or those low-level jobs such as security guards, retail assistants, waiters, kitchen staff, cleaners. Even for many of these jobs, companies also can be picky and have their unwritten requirements e.g. below 35, or female only, or must speak/write mandarin. And after jumping all the hurdles, the pay is only $6-$7 an hour — cannot afford to sustain a family if both husband/wife are stuck in such jobs.

    Is there such a situation in countries like Australia or UK or US or Canada, where even if you are willing to work, companies will at most only offer you menial jobs at SGD6-SGD7 an hour, with no benefits, and hourly-rated?? Even if you do dirty menial jobs in some of these other countries, you will get paid enough to support your family.

    And despite the credit crisis, in these other countries financial assistance is readily available to their citizens who are caught in a rut or fall thru the cracks. In S’pore you need to be almost homeless or a beggar before you can qualify for a miserly $10/day assistance, and that is also limited to max 3 months.

  16. Giving Up says:

    Give up on PAP of today, they are there just for themselves and for the $$$$$$$

  17. Colin says:

    Dear all,

    I have been out of job too for the last one month, but this round it is DIFFERENT, it is not the first time and I am more EXPERIENCED. I think in life, we have to learn from our past experiences. Here are the things I will share.

    1. Cast out as many resumes out as possible. Yes, the thought “why not” and “I might be lucky” is useful. There is a saying from a Saint that a country need food, military and hope. If you can only choose one, it must be HOPE. A person without hope will take his/her life. So just send, 100-200. In this article this girl went for 120 audition. All you need is just ONE. TAKE EVERY INTERVIEW as a CHANCE to learn. Have a LEARNING mindset. What can you learn? About the different aspects of business, what you do not know etc. then find out, learn.

    http://www.inspirationist.co.uk/2012/you-can%E2%80%99t-sell-something-you-don%E2%80%99t-believe-in/

    2. Start your own business (at the same time, while searching)
    For those who are IT/business inclined. Start your own mini business. During my darkest hour, I search “How can I help the poor” and I found Moringa Oleifera and now I am in my third business. http://moringa.sg

    Yes, there are uncertainty, but never loose faith in yourself, as long as you have ONE breath, you have a chance. If I succeed, I can even create jobs for other people, even better share and HELP others become independent and successful too. Good luck.

  18. Moon says:

    I till worst than you! I in pains! “Hibernate Myself!” Earth the Same! Humans destroyed everything!
    http://moonlifeonearth.blogspot.sg/2012/10/hibernate-myself.html

  19. max says:

    In IT world, skill is very important. So long you have fundamental skill, it is hard to displace you. But your last role is IT Project Manager in a Bank. Meaning that you don’t do much but rely and manage your vendors to do stuff. Meaning, lost of skills.

    And you have been in the bank for 15 years. Sense of complacency.

    So, end of the days, your good years of many months bonus is gone. And the lost of skills will prohibit your choice of next job.

    What you need is to capitalized of what is left of your skill and move on.

  20. Moon says:

    You might lost job cos animals promote rumors! Insulted others sick! No true Love… Qing 情!

    Do U know why few talking? No more one Singapore! Slaughtered by ‘Muslim Community’ in Facebook! Help keep everybody quiet! Dedicated to
    ‘Crazy Reporter Parrot’ Did Sin Again With Its Dogs!
    http://moonlifeonearth.blogspot.sg/2012/10/crazy-reporter-parrot-did-sin-again.html

  21. sal says:

    For a start, u need to have two type of cv , one junior position n the other senior position. No bosses one to employ an over qualified person to report to them…survival

  22. Robert says:

    I think age will be the greatest deterrent in getting a job especially if one is above 40 years old. I know of a few people who are also retrenched in their 40s and one of them took 10 years to find a job(with the help of a friend).

    Prior to his retrenchment in 2003, this person(currently 50 years old) was holding a very senior position in the hospitality industry in Singapore earning $20K per month. Now he is working as a delivery man earning only $1.5K per month.

    Another of my relative was also retrenched at the age of 40 years old and he couldn’t find any jobs in Singapore for a few years. He has since left Singapore and is now working in India.

    For a jobless PMETs in their 40s, even if he lowers his salary expectations and apply for a junior executive job, managers in their early 30s might not want to hire him. The hiring manager knows that the applicant is just desperate for the job and that’s why he lower his salary to compete with the youngsters and he would leave the moment he has a better job.

    Some employers may have the impression that old people are stubborn and are not as teachable as the younger ones and that’s why they prefer to give the junior positions to the younger applicant.

    Hence, it is crucial for PMETs in their 40s to think of ways to safeguard their jobs or have a Plan B should they lose their current job.

  23. [...] Editor’s Note: Bruce also did an online interview with us two months ago IT specialist breadwinner earned more than $10,000/month now jobless and feeling lost. [...]

  24. [...] Editor’s Note: Bruce also did an online interview with us two months ago IT specialist breadwinner earned more than $ 10,000/month now jobless and feeling lost. [...]

  25. nate says:

    The PR turn citizen who never serve NS should never be a MP. Cuz when they become MP they will not empathise what Singaporean who serve the nation go through in their employment search. Discriminated for jobs and promotion etc.

  26. [...] position. Can you help him? I hope if there are HR managers in this forum, please help. IT specialist breadwinner earned more than $10,000/month now jobless and feeling lost|Support Site f… var addthis_config = [...]

  27. Yee Choon Keong says:

    After reading so many un sucessful life story. I decide to tell mine. In 2010, my company l closed, and I was jobless. At 42 , I could not find a job. I have a 1st class honor degree from UK university, a master from Nus. A diploma from sp in engineering. Before that I was in the Top 10% cohort of the PSLE and selected to special SLP school. I was in engineering for 20 yrs, spanning from electronic troubleshooting to board, system, IC design. Applied for 50 jobs through the papers, friends referrals and linkedin, but none of them works. In that 12 months, I went for 3 interviews, asking for $5000 but none is successful. In the meantime, I became a property agent, freelance software engineer, electronics device tester. Income from the 3 jobs was not consistent, but it gave me a taste of standing on your own. Breaking from the 9 to 5 working model that we are so use to. I realised, 1. we cannot rely on others to give us a job, we have to create a value in ourself. After working for so many years, the knowledge your have is a valuable asset. You need to believe and realised that what you are now is already an achievement. 2.Do not be afraid to solve problems that you do not know, the reason a person comes to you for advice or help is because he knows you can do it and he trusted you. You only need to be better than the person that needs your help, you do not need to be the best. Both my part time contract jobs was created that way. I. E. my software job was recommended by a friend. This company bought a bunch of machines at dirty cheap price but needs to modified the electronics board and re develop the software to make it run. I was approached, without information i.e. schematics and software code. In my working days, I would just reject it because it is too risky. When you are jobless, anything goes, I have to trace out the circuit board to find all the related signals and identify the relationship, then with the requirements from the customer coded it into the software. The software was new, this is the first time i am writting it for the machine. The machine runs from the main and turn on electrical relay that control compressor, fan and pumps. Dangerous if you don’t know what you are doing. At the end, i got paid sgd 6000 for 3 weeks work and the machine works.
    The electronics device testing job happens when I was approached with a problem to test authenticity of electronics devices. Local trader buys electronics devices from china and a lot of the devices are dubious and fake, there was no one testing it in Singapore. There is no references on testing for authenticity of electronics devices, using my experience in reading datasheet, developing circuits, understanding of the internals of IC and testing. I developed a test method to test the devices at very low cost i.e. < $20 per device with accuracy of 95%. This test method lasted till now, almost 3 years.
    In 2011, I joined astar, semi government, this lasted for 2 years on contract. I was grateful for the 2 years because it give me time to evaluated the electronics device test method. I was supporting testing for 2 companies with a full time job. The method works and I help a small trader to quadruple the sales . The company invited to join them. Today, i am with the small trader that use this method to test electronics device.
    From my experience, I concluded 1. You need working friends that can recommend you jobs, part time contract jobs are fine. 2. At 40+, 15 years of experience is more than enough to champion the field you are in, trust yourself, you can do it.

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