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9/30/2011

Must Chinese Sporeans support China’s rise?

This is the heading of an article by William Choong, a senior writer of ST and published in today’s ST. The gist of his article is that he got screwed by other Chinese for questioning the rise of China and China’s assertiveness as an emerging power. Some even questioned his roots, whether he is a Chinese or perhaps an ang moh or something else.

He claimed that as a journalist, and a Singaporean, it would be foolish to let his race shaped his assessment of global trends. He even quoted LKY’s defence of American presence in the region to balance the rise of China’s military power.

I agree that one should not allow one’s racial origin to colour one’s objectivity. And one should be thinking of one’s national interest and take a position on that ground. But it is altogether a silly thing to take a position without knowing why, without knowing that one is not being objective but trying to impress others as being objective.

The very title of his article is biased and not objective. It is not a matter of supporting China’s rise but a matter of supporting right against wrong, against injustice and inequality. Is China’s rise leading to China bullying the weaker nations, committing aggression and invasion against weak nations, or is China’s rise just a natural and neutral phenomenon of the growing economic and military prowess of a nation? What is wrong if a nation, any nation, becomes strong and powerful? Even with China’s new stature, little silly Asean nations have been arresting Chinese fishermen and threatening to go to war with China. What would it be if China is still a weakling nation? Would that be better?

Likewise, the silly statement that we need the US to balance the rise of China is as good as wisdom from a joker. Why is it that no one ever asked for a stronger country to balance the military might of the US all these years? Why isn’t China’s rise seen as a balance against the US presence and world domination? I am sure the Arab and Muslim world would beg for a stronger country, be it China or anyone else, to stop the oppressive and hegemonic American presence in the Middle East.

Or is it because the American world domination for too long has got stuck in his head, that this is the only normal? Any new power challenging this normal is unacceptable?

I half agree with LKY’s statement that it is Singapore’s national interest that there should be a balance of power in the Pacific. Now what kind of balance of power is he talking about? A mighty America unchallenged and can do what it wants against any nation, conducting espionage and military war games at other nation’s front yard, conducting aerial spying missions against weaker nations at will? Conducting regime change? Or a more balance of power between the Americans and the Chinese when both side would not dare to push the other around at will, like I can slam you and you cannot slam me back?

It is not an issue of supporting or not supporting China’s rise just because one is a Chinese. It is silly to just question and try to discredit China like the West because the West is doing it and saying the same thing. What the West is saying and doing is for their own interests.

Whatever, a Chinese is a bloody Chinese by any name, a Singaporean or an American Chinese, or if you call yourself Ah Choong or William. When China was a beggar of nations, any Chinese will be known as a useless Chink wherever he went, and be spitted upon, even physically abused, not only by the Westerners, but also by the colonized Asians. Pai Hua was common in Southeast Asia. Today, it is not so easy anymore, because there is a strong China. It would be nice if William Choong could be able to ask his grandpa or great grandpa what it was like to be a Chinese when China was the sick man of Asia.

Today, any bloody Chinese of whatever nationality takes it as a natural right that he is somehow seen as nearly equal, and treated slightly better by the Westerners, for granted. Just imagine how he will be treated if China is still the sick man of Asia? Will the Westerners take a bloody Singaporean Chinese with a name like William Choong seriously? Or will they be laughing their guts out at the thought of him and his great articles in questioning China’s intention as a new military power behind his inscrutable face?

Mind you, for many decades, the Chinese all looked alike to the Westerners, no personality, no character, no talent, poor, good only to be cooks and laundry men and inscrutable, with little slit eyes. Yes, they all looked alike, can't distinguish one from another. Sounds familiar?

The rise of China and its progress in all fields have made the Westerners to look at Chinese as a people, from a new angle. William Choong should thank the bloody Commie Chinese for the added respect and standing he is getting from the Westerners and the former colonized people of the world. The Indonesians and Malaysians would not be so ready to pai hua. The Aussies would not bang into him in the streets that often.

There is no need to support the rise of China just because you are Chinese. But you get some additional intangible benefits from it indirectly. Maybe I am wrong. The Westerners will respect me more and see me up if China is still a weak pariah state with its people living in poverty, without ideas and talents. Or maybe I should question China like the West and they will respect me more for seeing the world in their coloured lens, like a Westerner?

Forgetting the asshole

Today I try, or pretend, to be an elite and think or reason like an elite. This is an important exercise as the elite are the thinkers, agenda setters and decision makers, and will decide the type of life we will lead. And presumably the elite are smart asses and will not think silly or act silly, or short change the people.

A plate of chicken rice is now $10 in some places. And if the price is not controlled or brought down, it will keep spiraling as every seller will think that this is the new normal. All they need to do is to shout that the price is affordable and soon the people will believe so. So the asshole who started the $10 chicken rice is going to reap all the profits he desired and get away with it. Is there a problem with rising prices of chicken rice?

An elite may suggest, since the price is $10 or 3 times the normal price, it will be cheaper and reasonable to divide it up and eat it in three meals. That will make the chicken rice cheaper won’t it?

Another may suggest, reduce the quantity into half and sell it at $5. Or for small eaters, reduce the quantity to a third and sell it at $3. See, the price of chicken rice is now affordable, like before.

There could be more brilliant and cleverer suggestions from the elite thinkers. And they will keep on doing it, cracking their brilliant minds to solve the high chicken price problem.

And none will want to ask, or to know, how the chicken price got to become $10 in the first place, and whether it is justifiable. They have totally forgotten about the asshole that started it. They have accepted the new normal, that a plate of chicken rice should be $10.

Where is Khaw Boon Wan? Has he resolved the high HDB price problem?

Designing a bank run!

The most feared situation in any financial system is a run on the banks. Banks are exceptionally sensitive and careful in taking in big deposits for fear of such an incident. Big money is good, everyone wants to have a bite of the cherry. But knowing banks, and the danger of big money, they will take all precautions to spread the risk. They will not put themselves in such a precarious situation to facilitate a run on the bank. No banks, however big or rock solid, can withstand a run, as they generally lend out more than they have. There is always not enough cash to feed a run.

The govt and banking authority will not allow such a situation to develop. Allowing it is criminal negligence, as it will lead to the collapse of a country’s financial system and the country itself.

The beauty of it all is that while the govt and banking authority are guarding the front door with triple layers of barb wires, they have left the back door wide open without knowing it, and thinking that all is safe.

Greed is good, but greed is also dangerous. The world is flooded with liquidity. And liquidity can flow anywhere anytime with the high speed and high tech communication and information system. Big funds, private and sovereign funds, are caretakers of big money which they can wield and move around with the flick of a few fingers.

When the funds flow in concert, it is worst than a tsunami. When the cash flows in, everyone opens his arms widely to welcome them. The danger of the cash going out at double quick time can wipe out everything along the way.

Big funds, high speed machines, deregulations, allow money to move in and out of a stock market at will. Many stock markets have experienced the destructiveness of funds moving in and out, sometimes for a few hours or a few days. The full impact of the funds clearing their holdings in concert and getting out of a stock market is as good as a run on the banks. All they need to do is a big sell down.

Not possible? The way the stockmarkets are gearing themselves for the big funds to play havoc to their stocks is extremely idiotic. They have done everything possible to allow it to happen. No need to ask me how. It is only waiting to happen. Even the temporary trading halt on limit down can only be for a moment. When the dam is broken, the trading halt cannot save the destruction. It will be too little too late.

There is no need to run on the banks. Just run on the stockmarket is equally destructive and damaging. The big funds with their big cash hoards and high speed machine are ready to do what they are capable of. It is only a matter of when. Are there enough safeguards to prevent it from happening, or allowing it to happen up to a certain level, that is just as serious in consequences?

Below is a REUTER article dated 29 Aug 2011

Beat high-frequency trading machines by not playing their game
The days of you trying to make a buck actively trading in the stock market are over.

Individuals don’t stand a chance anymore because they are largely competing against rational machines often guided by herd-like irrational forces. The robots can rule in the blink of an eye….

I knew it was over for human traders when I heard that high-frequency trading firms were hooking up their data lines directly to exchange computers to gain an extra hundredth of a second in execution time.
High-speed programs are designed to move millions of shares in a fraction of a second to take advantage of small movements in securities prices….

There’s no way to beat the machines, unless of course, you have a faster machine, better programs or the ability to predict the future. Your odds are better in Vegas, which never had great odds for a palooka pulling a one-armed bandit….

Some 60 percent of the volume of the New York Stock Exchange is attributed to high-speed trading, maybe more.

Although many market observers blamed machine traders for a flash crash last year, regulators have done little to slow down these speed demons....

That’s why will see even more flash crashes and huge price swings called “mini-flash crashes.”…

Don’t even try to time the purchase of your stocks, because Washington will do nothing to protect you against huge market swings.

Wall Street is spreading plenty of money around in lobbying efforts to make sure that their trading desks don’t get regulated in any meaningful way. Sated with financial services industry contributions, House Republicans have already spent most of the year trying to kill Dodd-Frank financial reforms, so high-speed trading isn’t even near the top of their agenda.

So my advice couldn’t be more succinct. The best way to beat the machines is pretty simple: Don’t even play them. Game over.

9/29/2011

$500,000 a week’s pay!

Being paid $400k or $500k a week just to play football is common in the British football league or the European league. That is a cool $2m a month or $24m a year, excluding bonuses. Where else can one find such a well paying job and so dignified, with fans screaming everywhere just to see them?

Carlos Tevez is one of the fortunate super football talents to be paid this kind of salary in Manchester City. This is the sister club to Manchester United that will probably reappear anytime for a listing in our stock exchange. And Manchester United, being a better club, with betterer talents, is likely to pay their star players much more, or not worst than Carlos Tevez’s $500k a week pay.

When Manchester United finally got to be listed here, Singaporeans will have the privilege to be associated with this great football club, and also the privilege to be their paymaster, paying each of the star footballer millions every month. Singaporeans should be happy to do that, as paying huge obscene salary is a normal practice here. They are used to it. It will cost them an additional plate of char kway teow at most.

The most important thing is that they are happy paying. It is value for money, every cent of it. Now, why are the parents craving for their children to be in the best school and to get a degree when they could have fun kicking a ball and not being stressed up in our hot house schools, and getting paid several times more than our President?

The more scary and horrifying part of Halloween Horror

I am in the mood to tell a story that happened many eons ago. Singapore was a young and dynamic state, with an equally young and robust PM. It was an era when mistakes were not tolerated, not even a misplaced comma or a full stop. It could ruin the career of a civil servant for not minding his comma or full stop. Yeah, can be quite unforgiving. But that was the standard of the day.

The PM went golfing on a Sunday morning in Tanah Merah. He drove his tee shot into the centre of the fairway. The sound of a plane roared as it approached for landing. The PM looked up, trying to take a look at the spectacular sight of a Boeing 707 with wheels hanging down. Oops, no luck, view blocked by the casuarina trees. ‘The trees are a bit too high. Otherwise the view would be excellent.’ Said the PM as he went on for his second shot.

The next Sunday he was at the same hole and drove the same ball into the fairway. There was a gust of wind and the ball swerved into OB. A bit annoyed, he looked up. ‘Where are the trees?’ Apparently someone took his comment very seriously, and the trees were cut to waist height, contributing to a more gusty course.

It was an old story and no one will ascertain if it is a true story. The morale of the story is that people at high places should be careful with their words. People react irrationally, taken every word, comma and full stop very seriously too. Some may even over react, for good or bad reasons, for their rice bowl, fear, or to angkat, to please the lord.

And many people suffered as a result. Resources, time, energy and even money were spent that needed not be. How many workers were involved in cutting down the trees? How much was paid to the contractor. The saddest part, the trees suffered a tragic fate all because of an innocent statement. But who cares for the trees anyway?

In the Halloween Horror case, the victims are the poor students, full of enthusiasm, doing their best to score an A for their projects. It would go into their CVs as a shining star when the time comes for sending out job application letters. It probably came to nought. How many people were involved and supported the project and the students, guiding and encouraging them in this endeavour? The lecturers, the principal, the staff of WRS, their friends and relatives, the customers who were willing to pay for the show, never see anything wrong with the event. They were all rebuffed.

How many people’s negative comments were needed to cancel such a project?

What can be worst, not happening yet, and I hope not, will be an asshole to fail the students. The reasoning, the students should know that WRS is a family oriented organization, for wholesome family activities. Choosing something like Halloween Horror and holding it as a WRS event is simply poor understanding, planning and foresight. The students failed to think through the project carefully and thus ended with an abandoned project.

I am just speculating. But knowing the ethos of the day, scoring points, trying to read the minds of those that matters, and taking a stand to please the ‘boss’, angkat angkat a bit, and you can have hell for the students. And don’t expect the devil to protect the students as god is more powderful.

Has the Halloween Horror story seen its final chapter?

More land needed for private developers

Those who think that the private developers are worried that their properties will not be sold or property prices will fall will be disappointed. Boon Wan would have to release more land for the private property developers to build more private properties for sale. While the locals are complaining about outrageous property prices, the millionaires in China, India, Indonesia and overseas are finding the properties here a bargain.

And it was reported China alone has at least one million millionaires and all wanting to invest in properties. The property developers are laying down the red carpet to invite these new rich to buy properties here. And the take up rate is very high. All the big developers like Far East and Capitaland are in China luring the investors with perks, free air tickets and seafood dinners, all to buy properties here.

If the one million Chinese millionaires were to buy one unit each, that will be one million units short. To be more realistic, if ten per cent of the millionaires were to buy, that is already a cool 100k units. Nothing left and not enough to go round. Then the Indians, Indonesians and Westerners, we need to reclaim more land and islands to build properties.

Alternatively Singaporeans can start to sell out their million dollar properties and move off to JB, Batam and Bintang. One thing for sure, property prices will keep going up. Singapore is going to experience another bigger property boom, and there will be prosperity all round. The more properties one owns, the richer one will become.

Happy days are back again! The long queues in new launches will be back. Banks will be able to offer more attractive mortgages packages. The craze will be on and property speculators will be laughing all the way to the banks.

9/28/2011

False CVs on the rise in Asia

By Dolly Chia
MORE job applicants are lying about their employment history, with those in the IT as well as banking and financial services among the biggest culprits.

According to First Advantage, a provider of employment screening solutions, the proportion of employees misrepresenting their qualifications on their resume in Asia-Pacific rose to 4.4 per cent this year from 3.2 per cent last year....Reported in a local media.

What do the 4.4 percentage points mean? It means that if we have 100,000 Employment Pass holders, 4,400 of them have false CVs. If the number is 300,000, probably the size of our EP, just my guesstimate, the number of false CVs working and living with us is a staggering 13,200. And it could be much more as many are still undetected.

What is unacceptable, not that they are laughing at our stupidity, is that these jobs could have gone to our pressure cooking products of our world best education system. Unfortunately they have been replaced by fakes.

The problem is serious and the govt needs to set up a body to investigate the CVs of all foreign talents coming in. We don’t want to have CEOs who attended a 2 week course in Harvard to claim to be a Harvard alumni. We don’t want a fake to be ordering our local talents around and being paid more for doing it. We don’t want a fake to be managing our local talents and depriving them of that job. We don’t want fakes to take our naivity and innocence for granted.

First world talents duped by third world non talents! Can you beat it?

Two party system, who decides?

After the last GE, the prospect for a two party or multi party political system appears to be brighter. The invincibility of the ruling party had taken a sharp knock and is not like what it was before. It is looking very fragile and breakable. What it means is that more alternative parties could gain a foot hold in the future Parliament. The electorate are getting very uncomfortable with the political system and are showing signs of adventurism, that alternative parties could be the solution to the shit hole that many are stuck in and claimed to be the best there is.

What is telling is that the electorate should never ever flirt with the temptation of alternative parties. The ruling party will decide if the political system will evolve into a two party or multi party system. The message is distinctly clear that the outcome of what the political system will evolve is not for the people to decide.

So, how would the ruling party decide if there should be a multi party system? Simple, the new WP members in Parliament will be watched very carefully. How they perform will decide the fate of the future political system. Simply, they need to play ball with the ruling party, to win its confidence, that they are not out to destroy the party or the country.

Does it make sense? I think the message is that they must not ask funny questions that make the ruling party and the leaders look funny. Better still, try to make them look good, make them feel comfortable, then maybe more alternative party MPs will be able to get into Parliament. And they may even be invited to be grassroots advisors. If the WP’s MPs did not play ball and are contemptuous, and persist in asking embarrassing questions, then the fate of a multi party system will be sealed, be gone forever.

If this is the case, that the future of a multi party system is decided by the ruling party and not the electorate, then my advice to the WP MPs is to play ball, be nice. Then maybe in 2016, more alternative MPs will be allowed into Parliament.

9/27/2011

Poll on the Elected Presidency

The rice is cooked, we have a new Elected President in the Istana. And he is still getting his millions as salary. All the controversies raised during the election for the new EP were somehow forgotten, as usual. The heat is gone. This is very typical of Singaporeans when the pain is not enough. They only kpkb for the moment and then resigned to the fait accompli.

We just conducted a poll and 40% of the respondents wanted the EP to be abolished. Another 40% didn’t mind having the office of the Presidency but wanted a ceremonial one that does not come with the outrageous multi million dollar salary.

This is the feedback of the people who bothered to take a stand. Would the govt take this feedback seriously and cancel the EP office, replace it with a ceremonial one? The sample size of the poll may be small, but I think it is quite representative of the views of the population. The govt may want to conduct a bigger poll to get a confirmation that this is what the people want and not what the govt wants for the Presidency.

This is feedback too.

The safest Singapore bank

I would put UOB as the safest Singapore bank for one simple reason. It is managed by the real owner. You can’t imagine the real owner selling away its family jewel. It is possible only if a prodigal son appears on the scene. Not likely at the moment.

The risk of UOB going the way of Barings or UBS is much lesser. There is ownership. In the case of banks managed by professional managers, you would not know when they will strike a deal or did a Nick Leeson and the bank will be gone.

In today’s world, where integrity and trustworthiness can be bought by money, it is always the price to pay. The old virtues of righteousness, honesty, loyalty and yes, integrity and trustworthiness, are good to have ideals. Not meant to be taken seriously by those who are too smart. When they are too smart, the only interest is their own pockets.

In every commercial deal someone will be taking a cut. The bigger the deal the more attractive will be the cut. The Chairman or directors would also be in the game for the cut. When the new ethos is every man for himself, all institutions and organizations managed by clever professional managers are at risk.

When countries can be sold, what is so special about banks or sovereign funds when they are managed not by the true owners but by professional managers who owe no loyalty to the organization except to themselves? Most of the big international banks and MNCs are now in the hands of professional managers with the minority shareholders not knowing what is happening and still very trusting of the management.

What is so special about Singapore and Singapore govt owned organizations when they are managed by professional managers who owe no loyalty to the country? Who is there to guard against professional theft or adventurism when UBS too can do nothing about it?

Nothing beats the real owner sitting in management and watching his own money carefully. The day UOB goes the way of being run by professional managers, without the owners in control, I will withdraw my view that it is the safest bank.

Milestones of Communism

In 1978, Deng Xiao Ping visited Singapore and started an economic reform in the vein of capitalism. White cat black cat never mind as long as it catches mice. 1978 possibly marked the end of Communism except in name in China. In 1981, Deng Xiao Ping also ordered the closure of the Malayan Revolutionary Radio broadcasting to Malaysia and Singapore.

Govt to govt relationship between Singapore and China was on the mend and improving by leaps and bounds. Communism was as good as dead as an alternative govt or for exporting revolution by the 1980s when Gorbache’s glasnost and petroiska led to the break up of the Soviet Union.

This is not true in Singapore as a small group of young men and women were plotting a Marxist revolution by infiltrating into the Catholic Church. Obviously they could not be gaining any support from China as Deng Xiao Ping would not allow it or his relationship with LKY would be over. Could this Marxist Group be supported by the Russians or the Communist Party of Malaya(CPM)? With Gorbachev in charge, Russia was in a different kind of revolution, opening up to the West. The CPM was dormant since the silencing of its radio broadcast. In 1989 they signed a peace accord with Malaysia and officially ended their fight for Communism and a Malayan state.

The Marxist Group in Singapore was arrested in 1987 under Operation Spectrum for plotting to overturn the govt by force. Their existence was proof that there must be another revolutionary organization supporting the Marxist movement. They could not be supported by China or Russia or the CPM. Unfortunately, after Operation Spectrum there was no further news of the organization that was behind this Marxist Group for armed revolution in Singapore. It must have gone into hiding. As long as they are not flushed out, the danger is still there.

The 16 arrested could not be a meaningful force to take down the govt on their own or by a revolution. Not by any imagination. They didn’t look that able against an efficient ruling govt and a well equipped armed force. My theory is that they were not supported by the Communist giants but a more powerful force. Who and where is this force that is behind them? They are called Marxists, not Communists, for Communism’s platform of violent overthrow of govts was long a spent force. By the late 1980s, who cared about Communism? Perhaps the origin of this force could be from the dark side.

9/26/2011

The Halloween Horror that would not go away

One week after the cancellation, and the horror is still haunting everyone. The Halloween Horror is turning out to be the horror of all horror stories. Isabella Loh could have not asked for more. She is made of the same kind of steel like all Singaporean leaders, dare to make the difference, to make tough decisions that are good for the people. Halloween is bad for family values and comes at a bad time when the country is promoting wholesome family and more children. Can’t imagine the harm it will cause to children by the devils that Halloween is all about. Really frightening.

This really takes too long to happen. Commercialism and playing with the devil, both rolling into one in the Halloween Horror. It must be stopped, sooner or later. It is simply bad influence. Hurrah, finally someone has the conviction and gumption to put an end to this twin terror.

Now that the ball has started rolling, let’s look at all the events and festivities that are associated with the devil, commercialised, and unwholesome. While one is now canned, let’s canned all of them once and for all. Now where to start? The two casinos! Wait a minute, they are not casinos in the first place, and they are family oriented resorts, with many wholesome activities for the families. Just leave them alone. And there is nothing devilish in them.

What about those devil worshipping commercialised events and festivals? There must be plenty of them. Uh huh, don’t you dare! Let’s start with something safer and more manageable. No more horror movies. That should be easy. Is Harry Porter and his adventures horror movies or devil related? Difficult to say I think. What about MediaCorp programmes, there must be some that are devil related or about the devil, I am sure.

A sheepish smile

That is all I can afford when I read about big burly Caucasians beating up local girls. One girl was slammed against the bus door for talking too loudly, in the opinion of the Caucasian and annoying him. Another woman got her windscreen smashed for honking at another Caucasian man who cut into her path abruptly.

What to do? It happened. Reminds me of colonial Singapore or South Africa. The sheepish Singaporeans deserve every bit of it for worshipping foreign gods. Even the Chinese hawkers have no qualms or reservation to beat up Singaporeans in broad daylight.

Singaporeans have their jobs taken over by foreigners for their own good. Without the foreigners, they will all go hungry and their women will become maids. Better count their blessings and don’t make too much of an issue when foreigners throw them a few punches or knock the daylight out of them.

Got money, go and pay for a lawyer and take the offender to court. If no money, just shut up, or like me, smile sheepishly. It could be worst.
In the olden days, they came with their warships and killed the men, took the women and the country as theirs.

I just need to be extra careful in the presence of foreigners.

Entrepreneur flair or hare brain scheme?

Actually these two terms are two sides of a coin. When an entrepreneur succeeds, he is praised to the sky because his hare brain scheme becomes a success story. When an ambitious plan fails, it will earn the infamous status as a hare brain scheme.

A potential entrepreneur puts his resources, money and reputation at risk. He could become a winner and earns recognition, or a failure with people laughing at his hare brain attempt when it fails. It is fair game really.

Singapore’s ambitious plan to turn itself into the biggest financial centre in Asia could go either way. If it succeeds, the mastermind will gain immediate recognition as the brain behind the success. If it fails, people will be laughing at the hare brain scheme for sure.

Sometimes there is an in-between, when a plan is cleverly conceived on paper and could really succeed. But it could fail because of some other reasons, maybe poor execution or factors beyond its control. Sometimes it could be saboed, intentionally or unintentionally by others with their own hare brain schemes that destroy the main plan. There will be some that are hare brains from the word go as the assumptions are just unworkable.

Is the financial dream an ambitious and workable plan or just another hare brain scheme? The key to the success of Singapore as a financial centre lies in the creation of a sophisticated and highly capitalized stock market with a wide range of products and good quality stocks. This is not all. It cannot be as simple as that. The infrastructure, the hardware and software are easy to buy with the money. The managers too can be bought with a price. There must also be capital, provided by the big funds, and investors, big and small. And the brokerages to lubricate the system and execute the trades. Some thought there is no need for brokerages, just machines trading against machines and online tradings will do. Some even think that there is no need for small investors or traders. Just bring in the big guns with their war chests to fight among themselves and it will be flying to the moon. The big funds are not that stupid. They will play the game if they can find advantages, especially those enshrined within the system, like eating up the helpless small investors.

The horse is sick. The ambitious plan seems to be grinding to a halt. Now, what have gone wrong? Big money was spent in talents and machines, and big boys with their big guns were blazing. For a system to work, all the parts must function accordingly. The system is as strong as its weakest link.
The weakest link, in my view, is the small traders and investors. These seemingly irrelevant elements in the whole system, dispensable to the big empty heads, are just like the planktons that feed the giant whales. Without the planktons, the whales will perish. Without the little guys as cannot fodders, the big boys will go hungry.

Who and what contribute to the demise of the little useless guys? One major flaw is to make the little guys do battle with high speed machines and sophisticated computers and their algos. A mismatch, and the small guys simply got wipe out. They don’t stand a chance. There goes an important small part of the system.

The banks too think so, that the little guys are not important. They are only interested in their high net worth clients, not for trading in the stock market, but for their wealth management schemes, to invest big money in ‘sophisticated’ products and notes. And to retain these clients, they are prepared to sacrifice the small guys, lower the commission in the name of free competition. Again, the small guys paying higher commission would not stand a chance.

In order to feed the fodder to the big boys, the small guys were encouraged to play with new instruments that they have hardly any clue about while the big guys were the experts in such games. The small guys were eaten up for sure. They lack the financial muscles and the sophisticated team of staff to manipulate the range of trading instruments to their advantage.

A weak link in the whole system is all that is needed to break the system. It stops cranking without the little guys feeding the system and the pockets of the big guys. The lowest element in a food chain still needs to be fatten to sustain the whole system and those at the top of the food chain. Ignoring or despising the arse hole is proving to be a big mistake.

This ambitious plan is turning to look more like another hare brain scheme with many other hare brain schemes sticking to it to drag it down. Where are the cannon fodders? Everyone seems so happy that the planktons are wiped out. Every hare brain seems so happy that commission can be lowered further with no consideration that commission is all that feeds the broking houses and their staff to keep the system going. No commission means no broking houses.

How long can the system hold with the shit building up and nowhere to go? Nature is built on a system where every part has its part to play and feeds on one another. It is a symbiotic relationship, a cycle. It cannot be one way, where one party or a small group benefits at the expense of the other. Human beans, being at the top of the food chain, is constantly being devoured by the smallest and most insignificant bacteria to keep the system in check and going. This fundamental principle of Nature cannot be ignored by hare brain schemes.

9/25/2011

Gambling Divisions in banks

Kweku Adoboli may not have gambled away UBS but is currently the most famous bank employees after Nick Leeson and Jerome Kerviel of Societe Generale’s fame. The latter lost US7b while Leeson in a way gambled away a bank. Some may dispute calling them bank employees as they are employed by a different division of the banks, involved in gambling. Oops, they don’t call it gambling, but trading and traders.

The banks have evolved over the last few decades into the biggest gamblers of all time. They set up big divisions, run independently, as an investment arm of the banks. They could also be full investment banks as stand alone operations. Hiding behind banking terminologies like asset management, wealth management, private banking, or whatever, their key function is gambling with clients money.

They placed bets in all kind of things, including arts, wines, and anything that is collectible and has a value. Adoboli, Kerviel and Leeson were just traders, and the closest to pure gambling. A Korean banker was reported to have jumped off his window when his bank was under investigation for trading violations. It is a worldwide phenomenon. Whatever nice terms they used, it boils down basically to gambling with high stakes, and getting riskier.

To stop the disguises and the deception, banks should simply set up gambling divisions and head straight to the casinos. It will be faster, cleaner and less trickery. Just place money on the table and it is either win or lose. The only problem is that they are not allowed to take advantage of the game by using high speed computers. The casinos are not stupid. There are some regulations in the gambling industry that do not allow unfair practices or cheating. And high speed computers and programme tradings will definitely be banned from the casinos.

The banks still have a huge advantage in having a big war chest. They only need to steam roll with their money in games that have better odds, like black or red in the roulette table. No need to acquire special skills about reading people’s faces in poker or black jack. Oh, poker is also a game that big money has a huge advantage and the banks can definitely give it a try.

In the game of roulette, the bank’s gamblers, I mean traders, can simply put his bets in red or black. He could simply double his bets on, say red, until red turns up. It is a sure win strategy given the near unlimited funds at the banks disposal. Red must come after a few rounds, or a few tens of round. Just keep doubling until it comes. No need expensive and sophisticated high speed computers or elaborated graphs, charts and systems. Yes, just place the bets on red or black and doubling until the next win.

Maybe calling it a gambling division will upset the morally righteous and correct people. Give it another fanciful name and just go and place the bets. At worst it is losing the bank. The CEO only needs to step down. The severance pay is quite good too. This is how advanced and sophisticated the banks have become.

9/24/2011

Freedom fight of the oldies

It is about time that the oldies stand up to fight for their financial liberation and independence from all the rules and regulations that are against their interests. Qualifications, the oldies exclude all the yodas that are being paid million dollar pensions or have several chairmanships or directorships hanging on their feeble necks.

In many mature and developed countries, the oldies will be entitled to privileges in view of their age and a little compassion or acknowledgement of their past contributions to the country. Many are enjoying their golden years, doing the things they want, spending their life savings to amuse themselves. For the fortunate, their children or grandchildren will be showering them with loving tender care and financial freedom. For the less fortunate, the state will assume the responsibility to see that they are housed, clothed and fed without worrying for the next meal, nothing extravagant.

What is the state of welfare for our aged here? The state keeps an arms length away, or betterer, a pole apart. The aged must look after themselves and provide for themselves. Don’t expect charity from the state. And to ensure that the oldies would not be a liability to the state that boasts of having hundreds of billions in the reserve, there are many regulations that will tie the hands and legs of the oldies in the name of protecting them and their money to last till eternity.

How sad that after slogging for a life time, they could not really lay their hands on their own hard earned savings, but instead, the audacious state took control of the money only to dispense to them in drips and drapes, at its pleasure. And the oldies are completely helpless. And the best part, under the current regulations, many will depart from this world, with plenty of money left for eternity. Yes, they will leave behind money that they could not spend. What an efficient and gracious system!

Then the part about force savings imposed on the oldies. Bloody hell, these oldies could be 6 feet in the ground the next moment, and the laws dictated that they must save for tomorrow or a rainy day that may never come. I am referring to oldies that are still working and have to contribute to CPF and Medisave.

Why is the state treating the oldies this way? To protect them of course. You cannot argue against such a noble excuse. And for them to work, to have their own money in their CPF Retirement and Medisave accounts will bring them financial independence and dignity, not being a liability to anyone, family or state. I bow to such brilliant arguments.

But I protest. I say, keep your noble and clever arguments to yourselves. I want freedom to manage my own life, my own finances, to amuse myself with my own money. Can or not? As oldies, what is there to save for tomorrow? We are living by the days and everyday is a celebration. The oldies must stand up to such nonsense and take control of their own lives and finances. They have lived their lives, made all the mistakes they wanted, and there are just so little time left to make a few more before game over. It is the last few luxuries left in life. Freedom from regulations and the chains that little boys and girls put around them, and telling them that they are unable to look after themselves, especially their money.

The saddest thing is that the oldies are no longer able to fight for their own liberation from authority and oppression. They are just like the helpless inmates of nursing homes, at the mercy of their caregivers.

Where is my money? I just want to have a good weekend. Just because god says oldies may live till 90, it does not mean that god can have the oldies money as well.

9/23/2011

High salary is the root of all evil

Why are banks going down under so quickly? Greed, in the form of high salaries and high bonuses. Paying the top management a ransom is easy, but finding the money to pay is not. The money must come from somewhere. What business in banking can generate that kind of income to sustain the big pay checks and the big bonuses? Gambling and high risk pursuits, trading and selling dangerous products, encouraging clients to gamble and take risk.

The banks have no choice. Every monkey wants to be paid in golden peanuts. The good old days of slow and steady growth, with decent pay cheques are seen as backward and unprogressive, unproductive. The banks are only doing well if they can perform better than the market. That means if one bank or more banks are doing better or betterer, the market indicators will go up. And banks that failed to keep up are seen as failures. Even insurance and pension funds are in high risk financial instruments.

So, if the shareholders want good results, they need to pay golden monkeys to produce the gold. Really? In most cases the shareholders, mostly minorities, did not have any say. It is left to the top management and their self serving logic, circular logic, which all ended up in paying themselves crazy, at the expense of the small shareholders.

In a way, our little island is also caught in the same mousetrap. The high salaries are unsustainable. The money must come from somewhere, not just a few plates of char kway teow. It is more serious than that. The whole machinery needs to be lubricated with expensive oils. That is why high economic growth numbers are indispensable. That is why high population growth is indispensable. Who really benefitted from this high growth formula?

The little guys are constantly trying to make ends meet, told to tighten belts, while the big guys are crying salary not enough. The $200 pay increase will quickly evaporate by the rising cost of everything. The big guys know, and that is why they are asking for more millions. There is no real absolute gain or improvement for the lower income group. Only the small elite group and the super rich are seeing real growth in income and quality of life with million dollar bonuses and tens of thousands in increments. The cost of living cannot touch them. Their real income accelerates at rocket speed against inflation. Inflation only eats up the income of the average and lower wage earners.

High salaries are not sustainable and will add to a lot of costs to the system, including social and the intangibles. I know that some will disagree and will vouch that high salaries should be the way to go, like we have plenty of land to build more houses and facilities for an unending influx of foreigners, 10m, 20m, no problem at all. The secrets to our success are high salaries and high population growth.

No one will look further down the road to see the disasters that can be wrecked by these two gambits.

OSA, ISA - The guardians of national interests

The recent calls for more transparency on the two sovereign funds and reports on their performance have elicited an official reply from the MOF. It is now official that GIC and Temasek would not report their numbers as disclosure would put the nation’s interests at risk. Thus divulging such information will come under the OSA, the Official Secrets Act. Maybe there can just report just the profit or loss without stating how this is related to the total assets. At least it will give the people a glimpse or feel of whether the two funds are making money or losing money. If not they will just have to look at other ways to guess if the funds are doing well. A convenient indicator is the CPF savings and whether more schemes will be schemed to delay or push back the withdrawal dates.

We are a small country and very vulnerable. Not only should GIC and Temasek be protected under the OSA, DBS, ST Eng and a few other big GLCs should also come under this umbrella. We just cannot afford to expose too much or else our security would be compromised.

The other important pillar of our national security is the ISA. Just because Malaysia is lifting this skirt, it does not mean that we should also do so. We are small and very vulnerable, especially with terrorism becoming a big threat. We should take this very seriously and not to compromise the happy situation we are having at the moment.

I would recommend that all the digital maps in the internet be removed and anyone in possession of them be monitored carefully. These are highly sensitive and strategic information that should not be easily made available. Also, the schedules of SIA and SMRT must also be made available on a need to know basis. Terrorists will be most happy to have maps and schedules to plan their operations.

Now what else should be protected and covered under the OSA and ISA? Some of you may not realized, taking photos of sensitive and security institutions and their infrastructure is not allowed, including embassy layouts.

Don’t pray pray with our national security. The OSA and ISA are the silent guardians of our national security and survival. Ok, please feel free to disagree with me. This is just my current view. I will change my view if there is convincing feedback to do so. I may even cancel this article.

9/22/2011

The Internet Balancing Act

This is the most appropriate statement about the state of affairs in Cyber World. It is all a balancing act by the internet service providers, software designers and producers, software companies and the internet terrorist brigades and their voracious and destructive viruses. They compliment each other’s existence and usefulness, scratching each other’s back and making a pile for themselves. The victims are all the internet users, the institutions that depended on the internet to do their businesses, and the policing forces that are always playing catch up with them.

The software and systems providers need the vicious virus developers to keep the losers continuously upgrading their systems and keeping the industry happy and rich. While they think that this is a good symbiotic relationship to fleece on the innocent users, it will one day grow to such a mammoth proportion that will crash the whole system.

Internet virus developers, including spammers and hackers are dangerous and destructive to the viability of the internet as a convenient business tools. Until the authorities and the software developers, system providers are serious in removing this plague, they will have a life of their own, conveniently accepted by the software developers and system providers, to create problems and generate more businesses.

My redbeanforum.com has been subjected to daily attacks of pornography and nonsensical spammings, nothing different from the attacks on MBS or Resort World, or other govt or commercial institutions. I have made it a read only blog to stop the attack.

I am very pleased with Bloggers for being able to fend off most of the spammings and pornographic attacks and keeping mysingaporenews.blogspot.com relatively free from them. Unlike other blogging or internet platform, Blogger is superior in this sense. Many of you did not see the spamming and have taken this for granted. But I am receiving daily feedbacks on the number of attacks in my email.

There is no reason why the scourge of spamming and virus attacks cannot be eradicated. The culprits are the software developers and system providers who are in a way accomplices to this menace and allowing them to continue to spread the disease. If the authorities can come down hard on them, with their combined resources, every one of them will be arrested. There is no where to hide and no where to run, if the authorities and the industry mean business to wipe out this pain for good.

Until then, it will be a balancing act. Yes, we need the National Cyber Security Centre to combat such crimes.

The horse is sick

It was a strong and healthy horse. The owner saw the great potential in this animal. He had great plans for the horse to run in all the great derbies across the world, Singapore, Hongkong, Dubai, American, Australian, English etc, to be a champion among the best of race horses.

The best international trainer and manager were hired to groom this horse. World class vets, dieticians, the best diet, drugs and stimulants were injected into the horse. A well planned training regime and the best computer programmes to monitor its progress. The best and finest of everything money can buy were bought for the horse.

For a while things looked promising. The horse was lean and trim, looking more like a race horse. The bets were good and winnings started to roll in. International syndicates were brought in to raise the bets. Big dreams and big time gambling and big egos were fanned.

Then everything started to go wrong. And the horse fell sick, very ill. The punters lost everything and lost interests as well as their capital. The international syndicates also started to lose interests as the winnings got smaller. Their investments were big and they expected big returns. But with all the punters packing their bags after losing everything they had, there was nothing left for the pickings.

What went wrong? Actually it was too obvious. Everyone knew what went wrong except the owner. Even the international manager and trainer knew what was wrong from the start. But they were paid well and tried their best, but not telling the owner. Or maybe they too believed that they could do wonders to the horse.

It was never a thoroughbred to start with. It was a strong and sturdy work horse, a farm horse. It would work hard in the farm and be very productive in its own way and at its own pace. It could never race with the best in the world. It could not take the drugs and the regimes of a race horse.

The name of the horse is SGX.

In the last few sessions, the trading volume has dropped to a level never seen before. It was scary. The investors are fleeing or have gone hiding. They could not win in a system that favours the big players and their machines. Small innocent men are no match against machines. They lost and lost and lost. So were the remisiers trying to trade against the high speed computers.

The next victim would be the brokerage. Their overheads are high. Management, staff, rentals, hardwares, all cost money. The miserable trading volumes would not be able to support their overheads. Retrenchment and downsizing are imminent.

The big players and the machines will find it no longer lucrative to be in the market when there is a dearth of investors. They can’t justify their presence without the comparable income and winnings from the market. They will quit for greener pastures.

The listed companies will find it meaningless to see their shares become penny stocks, practically worthless and unable to raise funds from the market. There is no point paying the listing fee to be in a cheap stock market. It is a matter of time before they start to delist from the exchange as well.

New IPOs will have problems finding takers. The valuation will be low and not worth listing. Even if they are successful in listing, the shares would soon become penny stocks.

The other big losers will be the two great sovereign funds. The values in their blue chip holdings too will go dwindle like any other stocks.

Can the sick horse be nursed back to health? The toll for indiscretion and megalomanic dreams are high. The infrastructure and supporting base of small investors are badly hurt and near to ruins. The industry is at a point of self destruct.

Whither the SGX? Who is killing this workhorse?

9/21/2011

Is Halloween a wholesome family affair?

My little knowledge of this western cultural event is that it is a family affair where the parents would dress up their little love ones and walk with them, to knock on their neighbours’ doors for a little treat and fun. It is a wholesome family activity really. Or is it not? Maybe our expats here could help to enlighten the ignorant world citizens that claimed to be well travelled and well read of this festivity that it is not anti family.

My memory of the Seventh Moon Celebration also says that it was/is a family affair. The parents would be buying all the goodies and preparing them as offerings to the good brothers for blessing. No one was to say anything bad. Hmmm, respecting the good brothers. All would be in the best of behavior in greeting and praying to them, and offering them the goodies. What’s wrong with diplomacy with the spirits or even devils?

And at the end of it, there would be a feast. Many in those days did not eat chicken or meat regularly. In such a festival, meat, chicken and fish would be on the table. It was a hearty meal for all that did not come often. If this is not a family affair, what is?

The Chinese cultural and religious practices are all embracing and all inclusive. Gods, deities, spirits, devils etc are all welcome to live in peace and harmony with human beans. Gods, deities, spirits, devils can also give blessing and protection to the mortals. When they are kind, they can give 4 D numbers too. There is no constant battle between the gods and the devils. They are all part and parcel of life, in this world and in the other worlds.

Unbelieveable! The physical and spiritual worlds are very colourful and can co exist. And this can only be more colourful with international and foreign devils in our midst. As a cosmopolitan city of the world, we cannot afford to be narrow minded to be religiously correct and puritans.

When scoundrels are in charge

Nations or empires rise and fall throughout history. They all went through the same stages of change in their political ethos regardless of whatever political system.

When an empire or a nation is in the ascent, the leaders will be honourable and work for the betterment of country and people. The same leaders could become dishonourable and cheat, and run the country for their own personal benefits when the empire or nation is in decline. When nations are on the rise, there will be righteousness, rule of law, able leadership and a few good men.

A good example of a nation on the rise is China. Just ignore the political craps coming out from the West and look at how that country is being managed, growing in leaps and bounds, and will soon overtake America, driven by its own talents and political leadership. It was blessed with admirable and selfless men like Deng Xiao Ping, Jiang Ze Min, Zhu Rong Ji, and now Hu Jin Tao and Wen Jia Bao plus a few very able second echelon leaders.

These men are not without faults. But they are driven with a cause. The country is also not without faults, with corruption and abuses of authority in many places. But the rule of law is upheld and will deal with the violators. The violators are the scoundrels and the law is against them. The scoundrels know that they are doing wrong and will have to face justice and the rule of law.

When a nation is in decline, like the US, there will still be the rule of law. But scoundrels are everywhere. And the scoundrels do not think that they are doing wrong and that they have to account for themselves under the rule of law. They hijack and apply the rule of law to their benefits. The rule of law is for the scoundrels. When such a situation is reached, the descent from glory is imminent and unavoidable. For the scoundrels are in charge and the rule of law will not stop them, or cannot stop them from their wrong doings. The scoundrels are on the right side of the rule of law and interpret the rule of the law to their advantage.

See the difference in the case of a nation in ascent? There the scoundrels know that their actions are wrong. In the case of a nation in decline, the scoundrels do not think they are doing any wrong, and their conscience is clear, or they just pretend to be so.

Every society has its own share of scoundrels. But scoundrels are normally put in the right places on legal grounds, ethical and moral grounds. When legal, ethical and moral grounds are blurred and scoundrels can scale over them, no longer obstructions to their actions, when there is no guilt, no wrongs and no conscience pricks, the end is near.

The UBS Circus in town

The loss by the trader Kweku Adoboli, has ballooned to $2.9b. GIC is demanding that UBS takes firm action to deal with the problem. The CEO, Oswald Gruebel is asking the board of directors for permission to restructure the banks investment arm. This is like after Mas Selamat had escaped and everyone responsible was calling for corrective actions when the actions should have been taken before it happened.

In the case of banking frauds from rogue traders, it is not something new. It happened and happened and happened. Why are banks paying millions and millions for assholes to run them and allow such a simple crime to be repeated over and over again? It beats me.

The root of the problem runs deeper in the whole financial industry. It is all grounded on greed, to make quick billions to pay themselves. The banks were once an icon of stability and security, rock solid. Banks were conservative, managing wealth. Now banks want actions too, to make quick billions, to pay big bonuses. So engaging in gambling is just another means to achieve such an objective. No, they don’t gamble, they invest in risky products, invented risky products, trade in risky products.

We have seen Barings Bank at ground zero, and a few more strong and solid American financial institutions on the ground too. No one is taking heed. When banks and financial institutions are all gambling in risky products, it is only a matter of time when they go under. This will include DBS, UOB and OCBC, if they are not careful. It will include GIC, Temasek and the SGX. With our SWFs placing their big chips everywhere in such a risky time, a financial collapse could wipe off everything.

The financial institutions and industry have gone far too deep into the abyss of gambling. They don’t even see the difference. It is like drug addicts or the drunkards, without knowing what is happening to them. Only the people watching from outside the fishbowl can see clearly what is happening.

Gambling, taking high risk, conflict of interests, are now part and parcel of the financial industry. More will fail, and fall real hard, if the real problem is not treated. The greed to be big, to be a world player, comes at a big cost, while the ego gets bigger. All cautions were thrown out of the window. Selling of toxic products is fair game, creating an unfair system is fair game, conflict of interests, trading against clients, against small investors is fair game. Making small innocent investors to gamble in useless derivatives is fair game. Paying hundreds of millions of debt of badly run companies, like Manchester United, is fair game.

The road down is very slippery. When will the banks be stopped from risky trading and gambling? When will the financial system be overhauled and toxic products be stopped?

9/20/2011

Taking feedback seriously

Wildlife Reserves Singapore is taking feedback very seriously and cancelled a multi million dollar event with 1,000 tickets sold and only less than a fortnight to go. I think this is a progressive spirit to adopt given that Singaporeans are now more outspoken and more willing to give feedback. And sure, feedback must not only be taken seriously but follow up actions must be taken to mean business.

Kudos to the CEO for taking immediate action to cancel the event after negative feedback from the public. I am sure she must have acted on strong feedback, definitely more than the 1,000 ticket holders who wanted to attend the event. I don’t think she would have done so if there were 999 or 99 negative comments to overrule the pleasure seeking 1,000.

After the last Presidential Election, it is obvious that many people are unhappy with the obscene salary that is paid to this office. Nothing got to do with Tony Tan or Nathan. Nothing to do with the office either. It is just that the office is seen as doing too little to justify that kind of ridiculous, out of this world, obscene, nonsensical, insensitive, unjustifiable, unspeakable, shameless… joking pay. This is just my view and I am sure that there are people out there who think that the office is deserving of every cent that is provided for, and the pay is very reasonable for the huge responsibilities of the office. I just want to differ.

Would this office be disbanded, cancelled, just like the Halloween Night event if there is enough negative feedback calling for its dissolution? And how many negative votes will be needed to disband this office?
I am putting up another poll here to ask the people if they think this office of the President should be disbanded or replace with simply a ceremonial one with an honorarium of not more than $250k annually. And I hope everyone here can get their friends to vote this time to give the poll more credence. I don’t think we will get a few hundred thousand votes, but a big enough negative votes should be a good indicator, perhaps, for the main media or govt organization to do a serious poll, maybe even a referendum, whether to scrap this office at all.

Are the people pissed off with such a waste of public money, so many millions, for this office?

Feedback from the lunatic fringe is also feedback.

GIC’s total portfolio value back to pre crisis levels

Responding to a letter calling for more disclosure for the UBS investment, Jennifer Lewis, Head, Corporate Affairs and Communications, GIC, wrote a reply in the Today paper and also reported in the ST. She said that GIC’s time frame for investment is 20 years. Anyway, all the fears of losing money are unfounded as the total portfolio value of GIC is back to pre crisis levels. No need 20 years to make back the losses.

What this means is that all the losses incurred in UBS and the purchase of American and European banks, and all and sundry investments, have been recovered. At that time it was reported that the total losses were in the region of tens of billions.

Given the assurance from Jennifer Lewis, Singaporeans can now sleep in peace that the super talents in the organization have done their job well and made back all the losses. How much were the losses, and how much were recovered, how were they recovered were not explained. But this is acceptable as such information is probably covered under the Official Secrets Acts or a trade secret that may undermined our security and survival, like not having enough babies.

What perhaps the public may be comforted is for GIC to list out a few of the big gains from its investments that saw the recovering of tens of billions of dollars lost during the financial crisis. It would be very convincing if GIC could just name 5 investments with each making at least $10b profits to assuage the public’s fear of money down the drain. It would be a great public relations exercise to communicate with the people, to explain and inform the people that their money in GIC is safe. Oops, it is not their money as the GIC did not borrow money from the people but from the govt.

Anyway, please tell the people how some of the big losses were recovered and the people will have no reasons to be suspicious of what is happening. Quell the rumour mongers and raise the credibility of the organization, I think, is a good thing to do. It will absolve Tony Tan from all the perceived negative impressions of his watch while in GIC, that there is no more losses, and free Tony to do his unifying job as the Elected President.

9/19/2011

The only real reason for having more babies

No, it is not about the pleasure of bringing up children, about families and love for children. It is not even about old age security or filial piety where children would look after their ageing parents.

Some mentioned that with low TFR, the young will have to shoulder the burden of looking after their parents. And if there are not enough children, they need to bring in more foreigners. How does that help our young to lessen their burden to look after their parents? Would the foreigners take over to look after them? The logic and reasoning leave me flabbergasted.

You want economic growth or you want stagnation? What a powerful argument! Without more head counts, the economy will slow down, so will the quality of life. The Japanese and many developed countries have been experiencing zero birth rate for decades and the quality of life is getting better, or no worst. Who is kidding who? Are the numbers of headcount the only way to boost productivity and the economy, and a better life?

The truth is out. The reason for more babies is to be cogs to the economy, to keep the economy going. I am saddened that parents are sweet talked into having more babies all because of economic numbers. Holy shit, what is life becoming? Are the future generations being here only to ensure that the economic numbers look good?

Does anyone care if they have a better quality of life, a good living condition, enough space to play, and not having to work till they drop dead?

'The sooner nations reject Ponzi demography and make the needed gradual transition from ever-increasing population growth to population stabilization, the better the prospects for all of humanity and other life on this planet.' Read Joseph Chamie's article, Is population Growth a Ponzi Scheme? in www.theglobalist.com/

How not to repeat investment mistakes

Fund managers with a lot of cash are eager to make a killing to show off their talents, plus earning big bonuses. The fact that they are paid a huge salary also makes doing nothing unacceptable. They must show that they can make a difference to justify their indecent pays. Sometimes, some investment professionals ran out of ideas and would even forget the mistakes of yesteryears. To want to prove their worth, cautions are thrown to the winds. Take risk, go for quick results, quick fixes, no matter how silly and hazardous the investment is, never mind, just hope for the best. After all, it is other people’s money. At worst, quit, take the severance bonuses and go for a rich and bountiful retirement. And if lucky, people will say how smart he is, money well spent, every cent of it.

If fund managers or finance professionals are not in a rush, there are many lessons that they could learn from, and avoid repeating disasters. Many who came before them have laid the walkways with their fiascos to warn the eager beavers not to do the same. Briefly, one of the things that one must not invest in is kindergartens. Never put big money in childish stuff. Big money must be invested in real solid businesses. Investing in brick and mortar is quite sound. Investing in blue chip banks too is a foolproof investment strategy. But never invest in companies that are losing money, including banks, no matter how great their reputations are or were.

Some fund managers are crazy about the Manchester United IPO. It looks like some jokers never learn anything at all, even mammoth failures that are too recent to be forgotten. In the first place, football clubs are nothing but another gambling outfit in a different name. If that is not bad enough, football clubs that are in debt of a few hundred millions must have raised a red flag. Those who are clamouring to invest in such clubs must either be genius or mad, like those who bought into Citibank and all the European banks. No fools would want to put their money in a gambling outfit that is losing money.

If anyone thinks that gambling is a good investment portfolio to have, there are plenty of casinos that are making millions annually, and even closing both eyes, putting money in money making casinos will be a million times saner than to put money in a football club deeply in debt.

And there are two casinos that are making great money at the doorstep. Why not put money into them if kindergarten is bad, if banks that are losing money are also bad? Why so adamant about a football club that is in debt of a few hundred millions? Why put money in a business that one has no clue about and has absolutely no control whatsoever? Why not MBS or Genting, when their businesses are more transparent and under close supervision and regulatory control?

It beats me. Maybe because Peter Lim attempted to buy a football club, and he being the man with the Midas touch, following him cannot be wrong. I will never ask any client to put money in a losing concern, and not a losing concern that is a football club. How could a losing money football club be a good bet when a losing money and reputable bank is high risk?

Are Singaporeans being made to bail out Manchester United? How and when will the club be able to earn that kind of money to pay back to the investors? If the club is capable of mismanaging to such a debt, could it do better? Who is responsible to ensure that Singapore investors are not pushed into another shit hole.

Unbelieveable! Who says it is difficult to find nitwits?

9/18/2011

Rogue trader lost $2.48 billion

I thought Nick Leeson would be the last rogue trader and all big institutions would have learnt that lesson and all kinds of controls would have been put in place. We are seeing more rogue traders appearing as if no one knows how to prevent such excesses.

This guy in UBS could have walked away smiling if he had done them openly and pass the loss to the bank. Many big institutions have lost billions or hundreds of billions without losing any sleep or anyone being made accountable. It is a game that more than meets the eyes.

In this modern world of high finance, deregulation and minority shareholders all sleeping or unable to do anything, it is so easy to rob a bank or sell off a bank with a ‘rogue’ trader. Some silly big investors even willing to put money in institutions without have any management rights or representation, so trusting, innocent and na├»ve, believing that the management are all honourable people that will not rob the institutions to line their own pockets.

I got this strange feeling that we are reading Alice in Wonderland, where little innocent children were running around with bags of cash and passing them around like a game of monopoly. But then again I am just too unsophisticated and untrusting of strangers and always think that I can be cheated by decent and respectable men in ties and suits and a string of degrees from the Ivy League universities.

Of course I am wrong. The world is full of honest people. And they get more honest in high places when they are paid their rightful dues. All those rogue traders simply happened by a slip of management supervision. That’s all.

9/17/2011

Referendum to sell Singapore

At the rate it is going, in 30 or 50 years time, the original Singaporeans will be a minority in the city state. Either they failed to reproduce or they migrated. We used to be 2m. Now we are nearly 4m with new citizens taking up almost 50% of the population. The number of new citizens will only go up with our addiction for more head counts.

What this means is that whatever the 2m original citizens inherited and owned of this island, they now own half, including half of the reserves. The new citizens are taking half of the original Singaporeans’ share of the country’s wealth, and half of the reserves too.

If the foreigners are allowed to keep pouring into the country, say they formed 80% of the population, it will mean that the original Singaporeans will be left with 20% share of the nation’s wealth. And this does not take into account the land and properties that were sold to the rich foreigners.

The bottom line is that Singaporeans will eventually own less of this island. Yes the foreigners will also be citizens and have the right to a share of the island. This is not unlike a family inheritance. All the children will have an equal share of the family wealth. Then the god sons and god daughters, the adopted children, the children of mistresses, all came and taking an equal share of the wealth. Would that be a desirable and acceptable outcome?

While there is still time, and the wealth and assets are still there, and since they will be distributed to new citizens eventually, with the main beneficiary being the eldest son profiting in the process, would it be better to divide the family wealth equally before it is gone?

When no one cares about ownership or inheritance, when the prodigal sons are selling everything they could sell for their own benefits, for their own good, the rest of the children better insist on a splitting up of the family inheritance fast.

If, hypothetically, the whole island can be sold off as a going concern, like a business, and every citizen gets an equal share of the sales proceed, with new citizens getting a pro rated smaller share, it could be a nice way out. Assuming each citizen can have a share of $3m, at 3m population, the going price is $9 trillion only. Make it $10 trillion with the extra $1 trillion to be share by the new citizens, with a formula for sharing based on their tenure as a citizen. This should make everyone happy. (The actual sales price can be worked out after a full valuation of what the islands and all the assets are worth. It may not take 50 man years to do that.) The final price could be double if there are competitive bids to buy this enterprise by the superpowers.

There are many advantages to such a proposition. Firstly, the country is looking more like a hotel anyway and citizenship or no citizenship is not going to mean anything any more. In fact citizenship is too burdensome, and full of responsibilities and unfairness. Secondly, Singaporeans are calling themselves international citizens and wanted to be international citizens anyway. Thirdly, the world is opening its arms to welcome rich migrants. With the windfall, a family of 4 could be richer by $12m, plus whatever they owned, and they can go anywhere and be welcomed as rich expats. Is that not what everybody wants, money and a good life, instant gratification? Or they can still choose to stay put, as residents here, without being a citizen and with no NS obligation to irritate them. Nice right?

The new owner can run this enterprise whichever way they pleased. They can retain the services of all the civil servants and GLC employees, including the cabinet, to run it as before. Or they can change whoever they want. They can bring in all the talented foreigners, rich, skilled, or whatever, increase the population to any number, let the prices of properties ballooned, and there will be no citizens to feel aggrieved. It is a private enterprise, a hotel, a real business concern.
In the meantime, the rich Singaporeans, with loads of money in their bank accounts, can choose to go anywhere and live happily ever after with their shares of the inheritance.

How about it, a referendum to sell off the country, lock, stock and barrel, for money? No more emotional attachments and kpkb about foreigners, about govt, about prices, about politics, just become rich and happy, as citizens of the world. What option is there anyway? The country is being given away on a silver platter to all the new citizens and is trumpeted as the next good thing to happen. As sure as the sun will rise! It will be gone.

Of course this sounds fictional. But with the entrepreneurial spirit of Uniquely Singapore, could there be a possibility that it could happen?

9/16/2011

A revolution in Malaysia

First he took a major step to sweep aside all the historical baggage and irrational emotional misgivings to sign a deal with Singapore to exchange the railway land with comparable parcels of land. This brought a lot of ire from the old guards who criticized him for being a softie.

Then he talked about treating all the racial groups more equally to the displeasure of his UMNO radicals. Some even accusing him of selling out the interests of the Malays.

His minister also made an affront to conventional wisdom by wanting to limit the sales of properties to stop speculations and a spiraling of property prices.

Now he did the unthinkable, by abolishing the controversial Internal Security Acts that had outlived its usefulness and being abused by politicians to threaten, harrass and arrest political enemies.

The Malaysian PM Najib Razak is turning himself into a revolutionary of a kind that is beyond imagination. Who would ever imagine this aristocratic son of a conservative and ultra Malaysia Prime Minister taking such bold steps to change the ethos of the political culture of his country.

The changes that have started to roll under Najib will have wide ranging ramifications to the modernization of Malaysia and pull Malaysia from the doldrums of selfish and parochial politicking that is getting the country no where.

Malaysia is undergoing a revolution under Najib Razak. Would he go one step further by returning the banks and conglomerates they seized from the Malaysian Chinese and let the original owners run them back to health? Or would he be happy to let the bumiputras run them to the ground? The Malaysian economy has been stagnated for the last few decades when it could have flown off to the sky. The remaking of Malaysia cannot be done alone by the bumiputras and the bumiputra policies. Malaysia needs real businessmen and entrepreneurs to attain 2 digit GDP growth and to compete in the international markets.

The political revolution must follow with economic and social revolution.

Help for big time gamblers

The National Council for Problem Gambling is coming out to help the big time gamblers. The Singapore govt is offering Indonesia help to put out fires by fire starters. And today we have a front page news that a trader of UBS lost $2.48b for betting and hedging on behalf of the bank.

The world is getting to be a stranger and stranger place by the days. What is the point of trying to help fire starters to put up fires? The problem is not with the fire but the fire starters.

The other question is, who are the big time gamblers? The guy who blown away his life savings of $200k or the guy who betted and lost $2.48b? Or is it the guy who sits at the top of a huge bank worth trillions of dollars and authorizing the bank and its army of gamblers to gamble on behalf of the bank? Or is it the politician that put out his soldiers to wars hoping to reap financial rewards at the end of the game? Or is it the politicians that spend and spend without a care of when they are going to pay back, or be able to pay back the money they have spent?

We have just seen how America nearly toppled over. We are seeing Europe on the brink of a financial disaster. Who are the gamblers that are gambling with the nation’s wealth?

Definitely not the politicians? Neither were the bankers and fund managers gamblers. They are legitimate investors, fund managers, taking calculated risks with other people’s money. There is no reason to call them gamblers, while they gamble away other people’s money, the bank’s assets, the nation’s reserves.

The world today is really run by gamblers of all kinds. Everyone is putting his bets for a quick profit for his own pockets but declaring that they are investing for other people’s benefits. Some even claimed to be investing for the long term. When bankers and politicians are looking for quick profits instead of making steady profits and returns by taking small and measured steps, the world can be easily toppled without the need to have casinos. Every stock exchange is now a casino. Every country is also a casino.

9/15/2011

Malaysian Govt considering limiting home purchases

‘The Malaysian government may impose a one-house-per-individual restriction, according to Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob, Minister of Domestic Trade Cooperatives and Consumerism.

He said that any individual who wants to acquire a second home must sell his /her first house and that the government is studying the possibility of approving only 10 percent rental increases for houses once a contract expires.’


Ahh, the immediate reaction from the smart sinkies is that this must be the stupidest thing to do. They have so much land and the only thing that needs to be done is to build and build and build, like what Singapore is doing. Just increase the supply and there will be no problem at all. Oops, I think to build and increase supply to prevent a housing bubble is only discovered by the smart sinkies recently.

Now, what is the issue? Malaysia has plenty of land, more than adequate to build a house for every citizen. And they are worried of the housing problem. In our little piece of rock when we are not careful and slipped, we may fall into the sea, and we are building and building and selling and selling as if land is unlimited. I think the Malaysians should come over and learn from our geniuses here. They can keep pulling out houses from a small hat like rabbits. It is simply magical.

Personally I am not sneering at the Malaysians. There is some wisdom to the crazy city folks thinking of selling everything when there is profit to be made. The housing game is going out of control, particularly when land is so limited. Everyone needs a home in the first place. And to turn homes into casino chips to be gambled on the casino table is reckless and irresponsible beyond words.

Not only Malaysia is worried about the housing gambling game. Australia and many other bigger countries are concerned about the wanton selling of land and properties to foreigners for speculation, which some called affectionately as investment.

There is a Chinese saying, die also dunno how to write. Housing and property investment are taking on a new shape and no longer the same any more. We may have something to learn from the Malaysians after all.

Two legs good, one leg best – Redbean

We have the best political system in the world. We are not bragging, the results are out there for all to see. In a short span of 46 years, we have created a first world city state with affluence as a way of life. Everyone is rich in his own way. Poverty is an exception. Practically every child is well fed, housed and in school.

All these we have to thank our one party political system. We can get it so far because of a one party dominant political system. If we have a two party system or multi party political system, we will be in a quagmire like many third world countries. But we persevered in a non communist, non dictatorial, non autocratic one party democratic system. And it works.

And this one party system must go on. Anyone talking about a two party or multi party system is talking about ruining the good things and the good life here. The alternative parties have made advances in the last GE. And it is likely to gain more seats in future GEs. But can they really help and make our country better? Will they be competitive and yet cooperative with the ruling party? Will they be asking embarrassing questions that they should not be asking to make the ruling party look bad in the eyes of the people?

Definitely not. There are too many things that happened over the last few decades that need answers. The people are fed up and wanted to know what is happening, the truths that have yet to be told. Just by asking these questions would put the opposition MPs in a bad light, that they are destructive, trying to score political points. And when the questions get to a stage of being more than just an irritation, would the ruling party say that it is part of the political process, that all the questions were belated and should have been asked long ago and the answers given? Or would the ruling party ride the high horse of rough shod over the opposition party MPs and harden its position?

The latter is likely to be the case. A two party system just cannot work, at least until the carpet is lifted, the cupboard of skeletons aired before things can settle down to a new normal. Only then can a multi party system go ahead in a truly democratic way.

This looks unlikely and a one party system is still the only way, the best way to go forward. But a one party system must not be of another political hue. It must be the same ruling party. A one party system that can work is a one party belonging to the same ruling party, not just any one party. Two parties are good, one party best.

9/14/2011

China helping the ingrates!

The US and its European partners have been challenging and questioning China's sincerity as a responsible superpower. Bloomberg has just reported that China will be extending a helping hand to Italy, Spain, Greece and Portugal and also investment bank Morgan Stanley to overcome their financial crises. China was also instrumental in helping the US tied over their own financial crisis in 2008. And who caused all the crises?

The question is whether these ingrates would turnaround to bite China after they have been nursed to health by China's financial assistance. While the US is running around farting, and only offer words, the Chinese are going to unload its cash hoards to these crippled nations.

So, who is really the irresponsible one?

Notable Quotes by Zaqy Mohamad

‘Mr Zaqy Mohamad, MP for Chua Chu Kang GRC and member of the PAP New Media Sub-Committee, said he's also seeing more Singaporeans "frustrated" by what they deem as "misinformation" online.’

I think the safest place for readers who want to read only the truth instead of misinformation will be the main media. These are official and professional news media whose articles are written by professionals who took great pride and integrity in their work and would double and triple check their work for accuracy and truth before publishing them.

All thinking people who are hungry for the truth and cannot figure out what is truth, untruth, misinformation, propaganda, half truths etc should just read the main media for their own safety. And for the unthinking, where else is the safest place to read the truth without having to think?

PS. Now that I am telling the official truth, I hope my blog will be classified as safe for reading and those who want to read only the truth and not misinformation will come visiting: )

Property prices to drop by 10%

The writing is on the wall. With the cooling measures in place, and the ramping up of supply, property sales are going down. So is my hope for my $1m HDB flat. The developers are worried. Some are calling Boon Wan to free up all the cooling measures to allow property prices to go up again.
The frenzy of the last few years, the high profits of the developers and speculators may now see some earning lesser than before. This is no good.

We must not violate the principles and virtues of running businesses for profits. The cooling measures are bad in preventing smart people from making a rip off from the property market. The developers will be discouraged to bid higher prices for land and may not want to develop more properties. Our GDP will suffer. Foreigners with their container loads of cash will not be pouring their money here and all of us will be poorer.

I support the developer’s call for the removing of all the artificial measures to curb property prices. The market forces must be allowed to dictate the prices of properties. And knowing how limited our land is, property prices can only go up in a free market system. The speculators and investors know the number game. All Singaporeans will be enormously rich if the land is free for sale.

Before the property market is let loose again, I have one caveat. The profits from the sale of all properties must be equally share by the Singaporeans. And a census be taken immediately and the profits will only go to Singaporeans who have been Singaporeans for at least 10 years. New Singaporeans shall not reap the profit of this selling Singapore exercise.
When this is done, there is no more need to curb property prices or any prices. Let the market do the talking. And no need to restrain influx of foreigners. The more they come the better it is as they will contribute to the higher demand. My HDB flat may not be $1m. It could be $2m or more.

When all the land has been sold, a tally should be conducted and all the profits share by the Singaporeans. And they can have the choice of staying here or migrating to bigger countries where land is aplenty. Singaporeans will have choices from the profits of a free economy and the freest country in the world. Everything is market price. Everyone has choices, to stay or to go, after collecting their windfall.

No need for any emotional attachment to this island. It can go to the highest bidder, as long as the money is spread to all Singaporeans. We can grow the population to 20m or 30m. It could be the most sophisticated and most modern city state. No need to restrict car ownership too. Just pay when one drives at a rate determined by the market and congestion on the road.

Singapore will be a truly vibrant, prosperous and international city of the world.

9/13/2011

The People’s Association in 2016

Hypothetically, Year 2016 sees a new political party forming the govt. This can be any party other than the PAP. What would be the role of the PA? Would the PA turn around and appoint all the grassroots advisors from the new ruling party? Would it start to ban PAP MPs or PAP defeated MPs from becoming advisors to its grassroots organization like CCC, CCMC and RC and its organized activities?

Does it have any choice given the recent public statement of its role in supporting the ruling political party? One thing for sure, many of its staff will be axed and new leadership will be brought in to ensure that the PA does what it is designed to do, to support the ruling political party that is now the govt, and to remain apolitical.

How about Chee Soon Juan being appointed as CEO of PA? That will be exciting material.

So much dignity at stake

The Ministerial Salary Review Committee is still hustling together to hammer out a fair salary for the ministers and the President. It must be fair to incumbents and fair in the eyes of the people. What the Committee must not forget is that their recommendations would affect the dignity of our ministers and President when they get to meet their foreign counterparts. And the last thing they want to do is to diminish their dignity.

There is also another important consideration that they must not take it lightly. Our ministerial salary is a world record that is unbeatable by any country. Please make sure that this record is not broken or compromise.
One way to go about it is to declare everything up front, be it $5m or $10m. The recommendation must not be something like $1m plus one or more variable components that cannot be disclosed and protected under the Official Secrecy Act. This will rob us of the world record and also undermine the dignity of our ministers and President.

I hope the Committee knows what is good for Singapore, the ministers and the President and also the people. They must protect the dignity of the ministers and President at all costs, and also our world record of the at least 30 top paying politicians in the world.

9/12/2011

Seriously, are opposition MPs a part of the govt?

Parliament is the legislative arm of the govt. Parliament is made of elected representatives of the people from all political parties to discuss national issues and make laws for the country. So, is Parliament a part of the govt? I don’t think anyone will say no. But some may insist that only part of the Parliament forms the govt. The opposition camp is not part of the govt?

Seriously, honestly, administratively, legally, are opposition MPs a part of the govt? We have an obtuse system that the opposition MPs are a small minority and can be easily ignored and dismissed of as not part of the Parliament, or part of the govt. If the representation of both camps is about equal, would anyone dare say that the opposition camps are not part of Parliament, and not part of the govt?

Every MP, no matter which party, sits in Parliament, and has equal rights to speak and vote for a bill. They are also paid by the country’s coffer too. Why are the opposition MPs seen as not part of the govt? Oh the majority party forms the govt so they are the govt, and the minority does not form the govt and thus not the govt nor part of the govt. They are just a part of Parliament which is not the govt of the country, which is part of the legislature, which has the power to make laws, but not the govt.

Very confusing arguments huh?

Free spaces, free parkings

I was in Johore over the weekend, meandering through small little towns with big detached houses and sprawling gardens. The Malaysians are growing, developing, quietly and at its own pace, with a lot of space for living, and with a cost of living that is not running away. One does not need $3m or $5m dollar salary to live well. This is the quality of life that we cannot afford any more. And one can drive the car anywhere and park freely, anywhere, without having to pay a bomb. There is growth, but no frantic cries of being too slow.

Today the ST is screaming that we need more spaces for public parks. They are now so popular that they are no longer tranquil getaways from the hustle and bustle of a city. The parks are now amusement parks in a way. Families with children are everywhere having a picnic. The noises are as loud as a fish market. Even in far off Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserves, the birds and the monitor lizards were not spare from the noise of human chatters.

We need more land for parks, for sanity. We have road congestion, hospital squeeze and squeezes of all kinds. The squeeze is heading into the parks.
But no worry. We will need another 900,000 people to fill the roads and the parks. We need them for economic growth. Our TFR is falling and we need to keep the rate up. We need to fill up the parks as well to see growth. We need to find an equilibrium in the TFR and the size of our population.

I think we did quite well when we were 1.5m, when we were 2m. Now we are 3.7m and another 1.5m foreigners, and we are saying not enough. We need to grow and we need more people.

There are only two such insane countries in the world that are pushing for population increase. India wants to be the world’s most populous country, more than the 1.3m Chinese. That is a superpower ambition. What are we chasing, the world’s most densely populated piece of rock?

The 2.1% TFR is like LSD. We will need it at 5m, we will need it at 10m, we will also need it when we are 20m. No free parking for cars, no free entrance to public parks. There may be kiosks dispensing fresh air like canned drinks at $10 a can. ERP may be set up for pedestrians with a fee to pay on busy walkways. Is that the progress we are striving for?

By then Singapore will be owned and populated by new citizens. Is that what we want? Is that progress?

PS. The German and Jap politicians were not paid the out of this world salary. And they could maintain their quality of life, with economic growth despite having near zero population growth. Our supertalents can only see growth by growing the population. Without population growth, there will be no growth.

9/11/2011

What is a translator?

This innocuous term is best described or seen as a profession to help two parties of different worlds communicate and understand each other. When world leaders met, they have translators sitting between them to translate the messages expressed in a foreign tongue to be comprehensible by both parties. We have translators between those who can hear and speak with those who can’t. We have tangkees to translate the messages of the spirits to the human beans. We even have horse whisperers who speak to the horses.

I met this grand old man, in his eighties, who told me that he was a translator in his youth. He was a Malaysian then. He worked for the British colonial govt in a division called the Special Branch. In those days, Communism was a hot issue and Communists were fighting a war of liberation from the British Occupation.

In his expressive mood, to share a bit of his mysterious past, a bit of his past glory, he told his stories to eager listeners. He was quite a bit shot among the local employees of the British though he was just a small pawn in the colonial master’s bigger game plan.

He was anything but a translator. He was a key figure in helping the British to round up the Communists in the community. He conducted raids, arrested suspects, interrogated and beating them up to extract confessions. He did not say how many died because of him. I suspect there were blood in his hands.

He was a local Chinese in a small Malaysian town. And those arrested and beaten up were mostly local Chinese. Did he feel that he had betrayed his community? The question did not disturb him. As a non politicised youth, whose intellect had not been activated with politics, with the rights and wrongs of political ideologies and colonialism, to him, he was just an employee doing his job and getting paid for it.

Yes, he was arresting the people in his hometown, some he knew well, but never had his conscience prick him. He has never seen his translator job as a betrayal of his own people. The British were very successful in creating a small group of local elite who grew, prospered through association with them. Some were flown to London to be knighted. The local elite were proud to be mingling with their colonial masters.

In his twilight years, there is still this little pride in his eyes when he spoke fondly of his days in the Special Branch. I bet he must have kept a few photos of himself in full British uniform, and with his little revolver in his belt. No one ever call him a traitor. He led a good life, very rich in his own ways.

A translator is a translator is a translator.