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10/31/2011

When the plundering and looting are over

500 years of plundering and looting are over for the Western nations. Europe and America enjoyed 500 years of prosperity built on slave trades, conquests and looting in the form of war reparations from defeated countries. They robbed the African and Asian states of land and resources as well as enriching themselves from the slave trades.

These excesses were the foundation for the centuries of prosperity, renaissance and cultural refinement and the good life in Europe and America, transforming peasants, bandits and pirates, to gentries and aristocrats. The wealth of plundering has nearly been exhausted and the ingenuities and progress in science and technology alone could not sustain the same level of richness and affluence in both continents. They did not think nor expect that the wealth could go off so fast. They continued to indulge in a lifestyle they were accustomed to from spending future money and borrowing.

Unfortunately it is game over. Without real production and productivity, without generating enough to cover the over consumption, the rich lifestyle is just not sustainable. Now they are in debt, some knee deep, some up to their neck.

And who did Europe turn to for more freebies and financial handouts? The very victims of their conquests and plundering, the emerging countries of Asia particularly China, the country they turned into the Sick Man of Asia. They bankrupted China, robbed away its dignity, pride and confidence as a nation, as a people, to live a better life with equal rights like all human beans.

The Chinese people are angry. China is still a poor developing country. Why should they used their hard earned savings, through toiling in factories and eating less, and getting by with less material comfort, to help the plunderers who consumed more of what they had and wanting to continue the good life? The plunderers had already had a good time on their expenses by robbing their country of its wealth, and dignity, it is time that they had a taste of living a humbler lifestyle, and not badmouthing China and the Chinese as crude and poor peasants with no refinement in manners and social behaviours, and imposing all kinds of trade discriminations.

Let’s see how refine and well manner they will be without the money and power. Let the world see how the bandits and pirates return to their days of plundering and rampage of other weaker nations. Would that be the new reality, a replay of history as what it was in the days of conquest and colonialism?

The truth and lies of home ownership

There are some bloggers who are here to spread half truths and misinformation about the state of home ownership situation and I feel obliged to state their position against what is the real truth.

Some Singaporeans are still unhappy with the housing issue and to these bloggers it is really the fault of the Singaporeans. They accused the unhappy Singaporeans for unreasonable expectations and told them to live within their means, ie, Singaporeans should buy the flats according to what they could afford. So got money buy bigger flats, no money buy smaller flats. No one is forcing Singaporeans to buy bigger properties!

They chided the Singaporeans for being unappreciative of their blessed situation, that they are lucky to be able to own a flat, big or small, as if without the govt they would not even have a roof over their heads. And that Singaporeans should be contented with a 3rm or 4 rm flat given the limited land we have.

One even said that it was better to buy a 4 rm flat instead of a car as if the choice is an either or situation. He would not want to know what causes high COEs and traffic congestions. Any school boy would be able to tell him why. If the population is not allowed to grow to such a size, there will be enough land for houses and cars.

Another truth is that what the govt is doing to solve the housing problems is the best and no one can do better, so be grateful. Who has the monopoly of wisdom and solutions? And housing is still affordable. Of course, even if a 3 rm flat is to cost $1m, it is still affordable. Just stretch it to 99 year repayment for the loan. And why not, COE is 10 years, so car loan can be stretched to 10 years. How many still believe in this affordable myth?

The affordable definition for housing is akin to forcing Singaporeans to live dangerously. Once a flat is bought based on two incomes for 30 years, pray that the two income will be there for the next 30 years. Loss of one income means loss of the flat, no longer affordable. Is this how the people are encouraged to live by, commit themselves to the neck for 30 years?

Whether the above are truths or misinformation everyone can decide for themselves. Allow me here to list out some of the hard truths, and of course if anyone thinks that what I wrote are misinformation or half truths, feel free to disagree with me.

The first truth, we have enough land to meet the demands of all our citizens for housing, provided we don’t recklessly increase the population to a point of beyond our control. Look at what Boon Wan is building. If there is not enough land, then the bringing in of more foreigners is very dangerous. We could still build and build to sell the foreigners. We have enough land for our citizens.

There is no shortage of supply for public housing. The shortage is temporary and due to bad decision and planning not to build. Everyone can have his choice of flats, and even if the richer Singaporeans were to buy smaller flats, given the restriction on speculation and owning private properties, no citizen is depriving another citizen from the chance of owning a flat, IF there is a willingness to build. There will even be enough flats for singles, broken up families etc etc.

The govt dictates how many flats to be built, when and where.

The govt dictates the price to sell, which is now blamed on market forces.

The govt dictates who can buy and who cannot buy.

The govt also dictates who can buy what and cannot buy what type of flats. Those with higher incomes are FORCED to buy bigger flats or buy more expensive flats from the private developers. Not true?

Because of the above, the people are not allowed to buy flats within their means, or buy smaller flats relative to their income. Heard of income ceilings and what are they for?

If the govt is controlling and dictating everything related to housing supply, who is the cause of the housing problem?

Did I tell lies or misinformation? You be the judge. Let those who have eyes see. But for those who refuse to see, let it be.

10/30/2011

The i phenomenon

My generation is not that computer savvy to follow the latest trends in technology. What I discovered is that anything that is worth buying and carrying to show off starts with i. I am getting to be familiar with iphone, ipad, icloud, i computing, but not really know what they can do for me. The latest iphone from Apple has created such a sensation that I was told of overnight queues on the day of its launch.

My 70 plus friend is carrying one and fiddling with it amorously whenever in our presence, in the restaurant or on the bar counter. He has that smug look on his face every time he gives it a tender loving stroke. He proudly proclaimed that we need to keep up with technology and an iphone is a good start. I am still using my black and white Motorola which I don’t remember the name of the model. It still allows me to make a call or do a sms. And that is all I used it for.

The iphone craze is most prevalent in the train. Many are practically glued to the little gitzmos in their hands and making all kinds of funny noises. Sometimes out of curiosity I would steal a side glance to find out what the excitement was. Most often than not they were having funs with little colour orbs flowing and bursting along the way. I thought it was exciting and wanting to get one but only to be put off by the price of it.

I read it in the Sunday Times that the latest accessory to be seen with is iAM. Many celebrities in China, Hongkong and Taiwan are showing off with them. Michele Yeoh has or had one. Teresa Teng too had one and so did Maggie Cheong. Karen Mok, Gigi Leung and Coco Lee did not want to miss out and have recently got their own iAM. This latest contraption to be seen with in the arms of these celebs is actually called iAngmoh. The best and most expensive model is owned by Wendy Deng. And she has rechristianed it to iMurdoch.

Oh, sorry guys, such accessories are only for the ladies. The Singapore equivalent which is gaining in popularity is iDuck an Asean model.

10/29/2011

Has anything really changed under Boon Wan?

The latest cry of resale prices of HDB flat still soaring and that supply is shrinking, or demand is rising, tells of a picture that nothing has changed. Whatever that have changed were merely cosmetic or stop gap measures. The fundamental position of the govt on housing has remained intact.

From providing cheap and good housing, today it is housing for profit, and maximum profit if possible. Housing is also an instrument for speculation, for fictitious wealth creation when the gains are quickly swallowed by higher cost of living and inflation, and for fattening the state coffer.

Under normal circumstances there is nothing wrong with such policies and economic enterprise. Housing becomes an economic good for trading, for people to make money and lose money, for the govt to generate revenue to feed the high salary of the system. Housing is a cash cow that must keep on churning out cash that is badly needed in the system, like all other sources of revenue. When the expenditure is so high, it must be matched by an equally high income.

Unless there is a structural change, the huge growing population and the reliance on housing as a major source of govt revenue, nothing will change in the property market. Like the Stop At Two policy, the No Casino policy, the restriction on foreigners buying landed properties, $90 NS allowance, etc, they were good and relevant at one time but no longer relevant today.

Housing, as a speculative economic good, needs to be reviewed in view of the changing socio economic and infrastructural limitations of the country. The govt needs to house the people well and cheaply. The runaway cost of living, the high cost of housing, cannot go on and on without breaking the social fabric of our society.

Would there be any fundamental changes to how housing is to serve the people’s need, to provide the people with good homes that are really affordable, to give the people a better quality of life? To continue squeezing the limited finances of the people for 30 years, to empty their wallets when the money could be used for many other more important things in life, and for retirement, is harming the welfare and well being of the people in the long run.

Would the govt relook at housing as a basic core item for the people’s good, without killing them in the process, without compromising the quality of their lifestyle? Would govt see housing as an essential item, not for speculation, and its responsibility to ensure that there is an abundance of housing to keep the price down at least in public housing, where every citizen who wants a flat will have his flat minus the pain and anguish?

Would all the silly terms and conditions be removed once and for all? Singles, married, unmarried, broken family, big income, small income, all will be eligible and can afford housing at their own discretion by virtue of being a citizen of the country? The issue is supply, in building enough to meet the needs of the citizens, with wise policies, and managing the demands from the reckless influx of foreigners and a population that is too big for the people’s good.

Let the pain and anxiety of acquiring a home be removed and no longer be a daily frustration in the life of the average citizen. When housing is no longer a bugging emotional and financial issue, the people can move on to indulge in other pursuits of living, to live an excellent life. Removing housing from the equation of life’s struggle will be a major positive change in the life of all Singaporeans. It will save a lot of time and financial resources for a better quality of life.

10/28/2011

Shanghai property prices falling 27 Oct 11

SHANGHAI: Hundreds of angry home buyers launched a series of protests in China's commercial hub of Shanghai this week, as owners decried falling prices for their properties, state media said on Thursday.

Hit by weak demand and lack of funding, developers have slashed prices for some new projects in the city by more than 20 percent, the China Business News said, causing an outcry among those who bought at higher levels.

In the latest incident, some 200 home owners on Wednesday besieged the sales office for a project of leading developer Greenland Group, demanding refunds, the Shanghai Daily said.

"We require a refund because the loss we are suffering now is too great for us to afford," the paper quoted a protestor as saying.

He paid 17,000 yuan ($2,678) per square metre last year and claimed the developer had cut the price by around 30 percent to boost sales.

In a another incident, 30 home owners stormed the sales office of a project of Hong Kong-listed China Overseas Land & Investment Ltd on Wednesday, the Global Times said, repeating a similar protest from over the weekend.

In at least one case, protests have turned violent. Home owners smashed a glass door over the weekend at a sales office of Hong Kong-listed Longfor Properties Co Ltd for another project in a Shanghai suburb….

The above should be a warning to those who mindlessly went ahead to buy properties at ridiculous prices. When it comes tumbling down, don’t kpkb.

May 6 a good day

According to Boon Wan, May 6 was a good day when good people would be elected to Parliament. I believe all 87 of them who were elected by the people are good people. So Low Thia Khiang and his Gang of 5 must also be good people. And if one is to include Yaw Shin Leong and the 2 NCMP from the Workers Party there were 8. This gets even more interesting, 1 lady and 7 guys, like ‘ba xian guo hai’, or the Eight Immortals crossing the sea.

Sure they will be causing waves when they have to face the Super 7 or the Fantastic 5. Not forgetting Zorro and ESM in Parliament. Comic books can be written based on such titles, like Hongkong and their 4 Heavenly Kings.

Don’t be surprised with such headlines in the MSM, ‘The 8 Immortals cross swords with the Fantastic 5.’

Cronyism in the US

Nicholas Kristof of The New York Times wrote an interesting article about Occupy Wall Street Movement and corruption in the heart of capitalism, Wall Street and Washington. The article is in mypaper today. During the Asian financial crisis, the finger was pointed at Asian crony capitalism as the main cause of the crisis. Today the cause of the American financial crisis is exactly a result of American crony capitalism.

What is so unfair in the American system is that it allowed the cronies to more than their fair share of reward in the American financial system. As a result, it’s human for them to grab as much as they could. This is unlike Asian culture where there is propriety and no one will grab as much as they can just because the system allows them to. To make matter worst, the cronies privatized the profits and socialize the risk to the public or American citizens. And when they failed miserably, billions of taxpayers’ money were used to bail them out. But the moment they rigged up profits they started to pay themselves crazy again, without having to repay the public debt.

That is how brilliant the American system is. Fortunately the Asian countries knew of the rot in the American system and are not imitating them. The Americans like to point the finger at Asians for being corrupt when they were the most corrupt in the world. The only thing that is saving them is that they control the western media and the media would not write about them.

We don’t have problems with too big to fail institutions. And we do not need to make our tax payers bail out the big losses during the world financial crisis. And our big fund managers are doing so well that they deserved to be paid handsomely since no public funds were used to bail them out.

There is no such thing as privatizing profits and socializing risks here. We are safe. Our money, our reserves are safe. And we may even consider bailing out the Europeans if they come knocking at our door.
PS. Please feel free to disagree with me if you think I am writing nonsense. Writing nonsense is an art and also my forte.

10/27/2011

Asian anxiety

I was reading an article by Michael Auslin in the Today paper on the cut of US military budget and how it will impact the security of Asian countries. It portrayed a concern that there will be more wars in
Asia if the American military presence is reduced. The author did not question that since the end of WW2, who was responsible for all the wars in Asia? Did anyone tell him it was the Americans that started all the wars? So, if America was the fire starter, would there be more wars or lesser wars with their reduced presence? They are still fighting in the Middle East and Afghanistan and instigating the two Koreans to fight another war with their intimidating military exercises in the Korean seas. They are also trying their luck for a war between China and Taiwan.

The author took the standard western view that everyone’s interests will be threatened with the rise China and its growing military power. It rightly said that ‘Beijing is trying to shape a favourable balance of power in the region by preventing smaller nations from allying with each other or creating effective partnerships with larger powers like the US.’ What the writer conveniently ignored is the unfavourable balance of power against China in its own economic zone, that China was bullied, humiliated, and robbed of it territories by foreign powers because of its weakness in military power. What the writer did not say is that the US and the smaller countries have been encroaching into China’s territorial and economic rights in the surrounding seas. What he did not say were the numerous incidents of intimidation by the US and the smaller powers against China, including Japan, the Phillipines, Vietnam and now India.

What is so wrong about a strong China having a balance of power in its favour? What is so right about a balance of power in favour of the US?
Freedom of passage of the seas has never been compromised. The writer claimed a few incidents of China harassing other military ships but would not say how often the Chinese fishing boats were harassed and arrested by the smaller countries with the backing of the US.

Now that China is strong, it shall not continue to take bitter medicine from the US and the smaller littoral states. It is only natural and right for it to reclaim its territories that were robbed from her by gunpoint. And should these be the flashpoints for future wars, is it the fault of China or the fault of aggressors violating China’s territorial integrity and occupying Chinese land?

Should China remain docile and allow the US to dominate over her, dictate terms on her by bullying tactics, and allow the smaller countries to claim its land?

What is the source of Asian anxiety? The unfavourable balance that saw China being cowed, being bullied, with its islands being claimed by smaller countries giving way, and with China staking its rightful claims for their return? The wrongs of the last century against China would have to be righted, the excesses against China, the lands and islands taken away from her would have to be returned. Those countries that seized China’s land would have to act honourably to return what they took from China. Otherwise the tension and anxiety will be there. No country would allow their territories to be taken away from them at gunpoint.

Would Japan, Russia, India return their occupied land to China, and would the small Asean states stop their wild and baseless claims on Chinese islands and remove their own anxieties?

This is what the writer also said, ‘Not unlike Europe in the late 19th century, nations large and small are seeking to enmesh themselves in webs of protective relationships that in turn feed the insecurity of others. The result is the worsening of the risk cycle…’ Who is trying to enmesh the smaller countries in Asia with protective relationships and feeding on the insecurity of others all these years?

Stretching Cheryl Lee’s plea

Cheryl’s main contention is that mother should spend more time with their children. This is only natural, and nature makes it that way. The mother bears to baby and cares for the baby. In the process, there is that bond between mother and child, a natural instinct, that will keep them as mother and child for life. The added advantages are many, psychological and social, and the imparting of knowledge, values and human kindness. And there is this thing called mother’s love. I know, some claims that limited quality time can replace all the time a mother can provide for the child. Good if one believes in it.

Our society has been structured to become one that is more like an empty nest. The catchphrase of three generation families, or family is the core unit of our society, is only as good as farting, meant to be spoken but not taken seriously.

Our children are meant to fend for themselves like in the 50s and 60s. In those days poverty was compounded by ignorance and there were many children running around while their parents had to earn a living. But it was not that bad as it is today. Many mothers still stayed at home to look after the brood of children.

The society today is one that demands both parents to be working. Those ignoramuses who still argued that it is a matter of choice, that the govt did not force anyone to work or to buy HDB flats they cannot afford, please go and jump into the longkangs. The system has been designed to empty the incomes of the workers. HDB flats are prices to be affordable by two incomes for 30 years. Or like Patriot said, if you have $300, you must have the freedom to spend it in one meal or in 20 or 30 meals. This is not true. You are dictated by the govt on how that money is to be spent through their housing policies and mean testing in hospitals.

But that would not be too bad if the Ah Kongs and Ah Mahs could stay home to look after the children. After all we are encouraging a three tiered family under one roof. That is not to be. Ah Kong and Ah Mah now must work to earn their own pocket money, to have some dignity, to live life to the fullest, by cleaning tables and washing plates. Do the oldies have the energy to spend time loving their grandchildren after a hard day’s work?

The poor child will be left at home, alone or with the maids, through their growing up years. Don’t blame them if they grow up and become queer or devoid of human values and kindness. They are not brought up in a proper home despite the affluence in material well beings. They have their all the toys, computers, iphones and ipads but no mother or grandparents to be with them.

Is it a matter of choice? Please, don’t deceive yourself. It is how the society is being structured. It is the new value, the new normal, an empty nest is ok. Both parents and grandparents are expected to work till dead. Where got time for the precious children? Who says the children are precious? They are meant to be digits for the workforce. Our country need more children not because we love them, but we need them to ensure economic growth.

See the light?

10/26/2011

Happy Deepavali to everyone

Today is the festival of light and I am trying to see some light by browsing through the net. Yes there is light everywhere in a bright sunny morning. But I assure you, not many can see the light and still muddle around in darkness.

In one of the comments in my blog I saw some light. One said that our graduates are the new middle class, living in HDB flats that are beautifully furnished and very comfortable, maybe contented as well. This in a way is wisdom, contentment. Just be happy with what you have, make the best of what you have, and one can be as happy if not happier than those who have millions but worrying when the next million will come.

If Singaporeans can be easily contented with the good life of a HDB flat, there will be abundance everywhere. But there will be those who would want to own private properties, not one but many, and will never be contented. And there will also be those who earn millions, and scheming to get more millions. Some may think they are crazy or foolish. Some may say greed is good and that is how they get richer and richer.

In between these two extremes there are the average Singaporeans who just get on with life, day by day, sometimes happy sometimes not.

Looking at another angle about contentment is that it is the sign of regression. When people are too easily contented and are comfortable with the little they have, the drive to be better may suffer. Then someone may want to stick a spur on their backs to get them moving, for more achievements and more progress.

The part that I find uncomfortable is how people willingly accept their station in life when it could be much better. There was a time when even a secondary school graduate or drop out could aspire to own 5rm HDB flats, not that they were successful businessmen or entrepreneurs, but just skilled workers or taxi drivers. And if they were graduates, they could aspire and end up living in private properties.

Shall I rejoice when the graduates of today are contented to live in 4rm flats after investing hundreds of thousands for their education? Is this a good thing? Would anyone want to ask why this is the fate of our graduates, when they could live a better quality of life in the material sense? Have they surrendered and accepted that this is the best they could be in life as a graduate? Don’t they want the stars, don’t they want to live in private properties? Or they know that these things are beyond them.

Did they know that those things were quite attainable in yesteryears to the non graduates? How did our society be managed to such a state that people’s expectation has to go down, and be contented to have less, and think it is the norm? Tomorrow they will expect graduates to be counter salespersons, to drive taxis and to live in 3rm flats and take public transport to work. It is still quality living, but why like that?

Anyone see the light?

10/25/2011

The affordability plea

A stay at home mum, Cheryl Lee, wrote to the ST forum pleading to the govt to make housing more affordable. She is a graduate, a professional but is being forced to stay at home to look after children and work part time. She lamented the days when as a fresh graduate her starting salary was only $800. Though the salary of graduates has quadrupled, housing prices have gone up by at least 10 times. A 5 rm flat then was $35k but $450k today. Are we really better off?

To her this is not affordable. To the govt it is, very affordable. It depends on what is meant by affordable. We know, it shifted from one income and a 15 year mortgage to two incomes and 30 years of mortgage. Funny, why is this kind of arithmetic seen as being clever and even brilliant? And people in high places can tell the people straight in their faces that they are not lying, that it is affordable!

And this Cheryl Lee is making a plea, to make housing affordable in terms of one income so that mother can stay home and look after their precious children, and not leave them at the mercy of strangers that may be deranged or have very poor childcare skills, or even bad attitude or values.

The children are the most valuable gift of life, the blessings that no amount of money can trade for. (Bullshit. What children, only softies and losers are sentimental about children). But this gift of life is being neglected, put at risk, because of our enslavement to money and material goods. We are willing to sacrifice the bringing up of our children, good parental care and bonding, for money. Actually no. It is the first world and most envious social economic system that we have created, minus happiness and human warmth, that we believe is the best for us. This is the best system in the world, all glitters, all money and nothing else. This is what life and living is all about.

The plea by this stay at home mum that values her time and relationship with her children will go to the wilderness. She will be very lucky if they did not extend the mortgage to two generations or four incomes to service. To return to the days of one income and 15 years is a never, even if it is a one income for 30 years. That is our meaning of progress and world class standard of living. And it is good.

Did we compromise anything that is really valuable to life and living? No, money is everything. Material well being is everything. Children and their welfare are only lip service. Don’t believe in them. If we don’t have more head counts, we can buy them, import them, to feed our labour force. That is what children are meant for.

And the parents should continue to be in the workforce, to raise the GDP. That is the only thing that counts. And be prepared to work till one drops dead. That is our meaning of a well lived life, minus the irritating stuff of bringing up children. Keeping pets could be better option. But no, we still need children for our workforce.

Opposition to put forward constructive suggestions

‘The Govt has put forward its views, and the idea of a a debate must be that the Opposition puts forward constructive suggestions on how the Govt’s agenda and policies and programmes can be improved. K Shanmugam
Shanmugam was reported in yesterday’s Today paper to acknowledge opposition’s ‘role in finding improvements to govt policies and programmes.’ He also added that all good ideas must be accepted, that all MPs are people’s representatives and representing the people’s views and aspirations.

There was a robust debate in the Parliament’s first sitting. Has any view or suggestion been accepted by the govt? Were they constructive? Or were they not? Given the way they were summarily attacked and dismissed by the ruling party MPs and ministers, it looks like the opposition still has a lot of work to do, to come out with constructive suggestions. So far it seems that they have failed.

And though Shanmugam in the same breath claimed that the PAP did not have a monopoly of wisdom, the fact that nothing from the opposition were seen as constructive suggestions or worthy of wisdom, does it not imply that the monopoly of wisdom is still with the PAP? Yes, they don’t have the monopoly of wisdom, but the opposition has none. Every statement from the opposition will be attacked or rubbished.

Wow, I am going to flatter myself for the way I am arguing against myself. Everything I say is wrong and is also right.

10/24/2011

The storm over Sun Yat Sen

There are two camps taking sides for and against the Sun Yat Sen Museum. Those in favour could see the relevance of this revolutionary and his brief sojourn in the island. It was a time in our history when most of the residents were non citizens but migrants here only to earn a living and would probably return to their motherland. The Chinese were Chinese from China, Indians were Indians from India. The colonial masters would not grant them citizenship so easily as they owned the island. They would not be so silly to give citizenship to foreigners. They could come and work, but no citizenship. Citizenship is a valuable status and not to be given away freely. Only govt that do not think citizenship is of any great significance will give away citizenship freely. They did not understand that such an act is like giving the country away, to the new citizens.

The history of Sun Yat Sen tells us that citizenship is important and should not be treated foolishly as an economic good. The Chinese and Indians of those days fought for their countries because they were citizens of those countries. They identified and belonged to their motherland.

History has since taken a turn and many are now citizens of this island and no longer think of China and India as their motherland. Maybe we are revisiting this old phenomenon with new citizens thinking like the old Chinese and old Indians, and are still attached to their motherland. It would take several generations to change this mindset.

For those who were against the museum, they are also the descendants of the past, who now think that the past, especially foreigners, should not have too much of a place in our history. They forget that many of those in Bukit Brown were non citizens, some even with official titles from their motherland. Then again, they should deserve some honour and recognition.

We have a very short history and very few heroes and fables. We need to create more. We can’t just live on Hang Tuah alone. We need more histories of our past, more folk heroes to tell their stories to our young. Our past, our predecessors, should form part of our rich heritage. Maybe they were not in too eminent a position to be recognised. They could be the forefathers of our Kennedy’s and our Carnegies, our Tans and our Lees.

If Indonesians can feel proud of Obama just because he was there as a child, now a President of the US, there is no reason why we should treat the presence of Sun Yat Sen with lesser importance. He was here not as a nobody child but then already a revolutionary leader. Histories are made of these. Every little bits to form the tapestry of our history. We need to treasure our history, our past.

Without our past, we will all be silly Singaporeans, without roots, like duck weeds floating in the sea, thinking everything and everyone was great except our own kind and our own history.

Notable quote by Shanmugam

Govt has to acknowledge that segments of the population have been left behind. K. Shanmugam

This is the most profound statement that has come out from a minister for a long time. Why is this so important? It says that there are segments of the population that have been left behind. It also says that the govt is not acknowledging this fact. See how frightening things have become. People have been left behind, the govt knows, but refused or not going to admit it. Or maybe the govt really does not know, only Shanmugam knows. Which is which?

This is very similar to the claims that housing was not a problem and housing is affordable. That housing is a very serious problem that demands Boon Wan to work extra hard, and HDB to ram up building of HDB flats are remedies taken urgently to solve the housing problem. By why were people given the impression that there was no housing problem?

Then the affordable claim. Really, that housing is affordable, or people just have no choice but to buy and to work for it for the next 30 years? Would any minister wish to stand up and say it honestly that it is not affordable? Or would it just be like housing, was never a problem and just live with it?

I would like to ask again. Is it true that there are people who are left behind? And why is it that the govt must acknowledge that there are people who are left behind? What is all this about? Got problem pretends no problem or did not know there is a problem, or know got problem but did not want to admit there is a problem? Either way, this is a very serious situation to prompt Shanmugam to say such a thing. I think he tak boleh tahan oredy.

Beware of a welfare state

Greece was the role model for Europe’s crisis of a welfare state gone wrong. And Greece is not the only welfare state in Europe. Many are and still looking after their people through public welfare and assistance. And they have done it for many years. Canada and the US also have their own variations of a welfare state.

A welfare state is costly to the country and public. It has to be carefully managed. And many of these countries have managed their welfare system pretty well. Singapore has defended its policy of welfare by the people, of the people and from the people’s own pocket for many years. Finally we have a Greece to prove that we are right in not having a welfare state.

But are those countries that are still practising welfarism finish or near finish? One swallow does not make a summer. For the fall of Greece, there are many that are successful and still doing ok.

What is important is how much to collect and how much to give. Giving $500 to $600 a month to the down and outs will not empty our state coffers so easily. If our reserves can afford to lose tens or hundreds of billions and still can afford to lose more, a little welfarism is not going to harm the reserves. No, no one is asking to kill the golden goose or for a drum stick, just some eggs.

Definitely if the welfare comes in the millions for each recipient it is going to be very dangerous. As more and more people continue to receive million or multi million dollar state welfare, then that is a different kind of welfarism that cannot be condoned. Do we practise state welfarism of any kind here?

10/23/2011

Of farting or alternative solution

Farting is a very easy and effortless thing to do. Everyone can do it and it does not cost anything. Looking for alternative solution to a national problem is a different matter altogether. A ministry may come out with a policy or decision to solve a problem, like the ERP. I am very sure the policy or decision does not come out like farting. It must have gone through many thinking heads, many discussions and reviews before the minister finally put his signature on it.

How many super talents would have been involved in the making of a policy or a solution? How many man hours would be needed to work on it. And the minister is not working for free either. The cost of a policy or decision is quite substantial. A consultant that is engaged to solve a problem too will charge his price based on the number of hours put in, the expertise needed and all other necessary costs involved.

Good solutions are costly, not like free fart. Anyone who asked for a free solution while he is getting paid to come out with a solution is going to get nothing more, nothing less, except farting. Why should anyone offer free solution to another who is paid handsomely to do the job but not doing it, and put in great effort, man hours and expenses for a serious alternative solution? Unless of course the person is farting, which does not require much effort and of not much value.

Anyone got any suggestions?

10/22/2011

Missed opportunity in Parliament

As the final curtain fell in Parliament’s first session, the big guns of the two camps took their final stand. PAP drew its best from its most eloquent and flowery speaker, Swee Say, to do his final take on the opposition’s position.

The final issue came down to be the CBF workers versus the CBF ministers, the former stands for cheaper, better and faster versus the latter version of costlier, betterer and fasterer ministers. While Swee Say coined the infamous CBF term for the Singapore workers, nothing of the like was reflected in the minister’s pay, which keeps going higher and higher. This has led to the public’s perception that the ministers were not as sacrificing as they claimed to be, but more self serving and looking only after their own gaji rather than the people.

This, according to Swee Say, was shocking. He rebutted the accusation, that ministers were working their guts out for the interests of the people, all the time thinking for the people’s welfare. If this is true, then the public must have grossly mistaken. If this is not true, then it is very frightening. Whatever, Swee Say said he was lost for words, in another word dumbfounded.

Actually he could lead by example as leaders instead of politicians, and for telling the workers to be CBF, ministers too can be CBF with the same meaning, cheaper, better and faster. For that to be believeable, he could announced that ministers would take a 50% pay cut to show to the people that they were really not self serving, working for self interest, but working for the people.

That kind of statement would be as good as giving Low Thia Khiang a tight slap for bringing the public’s negative perception into Parliament, and will straight away be proven wrong.

Well, Parliament will be in recess and it must be the biggest opportunity missed by Swee Say to score a winning goal for the PAP. And no matter how shock or dumbfounded he claimed to be, the accusation still stands and he did nothing to dispute it. The public’s perception of self serving ministers is still hanging there, waiting to be proven wrong, and to be taken down.

I am equally dumbfounded.

10/21/2011

Is MSM controlled by the govt?

"Do you believe that the mainstream media is controlled, and is that why you're putting forward the proposal for these acts," asked Tanjong Pagar MP Indranee Rajah.

Indranee was asking Pritam Singh if he believes that the MSM is under the control of the govt. I think it is a fair question. Shanmugam also wanted to know and asked Pritam to answer, yes or no. Unfortunately Pritam was kind of half in and half out.

I think it is important that everyone should answer this question with a yes and no, including Indranee and Shanmugam.

I will take the first step by answering No. Just feel free to disagree with me. This is not a right or wrong answer. Just what you think. But if one’s answer is No, no further question. If one answers Yes, please explain.

Old habits die hard

Hsien Loong has made several encouraging motherhood statements about how his govt is going forward, to be more listening, more flexible, more caring, and more inclusive. Putting all these together we can expect a more gracious govt, less purgnacious, more accommodating, more listening and a better rapport with the people. The govt wants to get closer to the people, to be more human like than god like, to admit mistakes and go forward together, no one being left out or discriminated by govt policies.

So would there be less policing of the critics of govt policies, a really lighter touch, less bickering in parliament for the sake of bickering, like you say it hor, I say you said this, be brave to admit it lah, then see what will happen? See, I challenge him and he lost. I clever right?

Would the civil servants and govt officers be less politically sensitive in the conduct of their daily affairs, and get on with the more serious stuff of the affairs of the state, regardless of political hue? Or would politicians still behave like little boys and girls trying to score political points at the slightest opportunity instead of using the Parliament as a platform to discuss and improve governance of the people and country?

Watching the clips on what was happening in Parliament, and reading what was being reported, I cannot see anything has changed for the better.

The killing of a dictator

I have mixed feelings over the killing of Muammar Gaddafi. He is the second Arab dictator to be killed by foreign forces. In the case of Saddam Hussein, it was a false excuse of possession of WMD that George Bush used to kill him. By the way, possession of WMD is not a crime under international law. The US possesses the most WMD. It was the added charge that it threatened the US security. This was the logic the evil Empire used to invade another country. And the world looked on helplessly.

Now Gaddafi is also killed by Nato bombing. And the UN only sanctioned Nato to prevent Gaddafi from using his air force to strike the resistance. The UN never authorize the killing of Gaddafi or for Nato to have a free hand in hitting anything it wants. Yes weakness is sexy and inviting, to be raped and killed.

In the killing of both dictators, are they justified? Should the killers be brought to face war crimes?

There is no doubt that both were cruel dictators that abused their powers and killed many of their own people. No doubt that many of their people hated the two dictators who ruled by the sword. Now they have both met their due justice, lived by the sword, killed by the sword.

The case for invasion of Iraq was totally an American design and if put to trial would have found America guilty in all counts, for invading a faraway country under false excuses and nonsensical reasoning that Iraq is a threat to America. But the evil Empire is calling the shot of the day and can get away with anything.

The killing of Gaddafi is equally unjustified by Nato and indefensible. It is another naked foreign aggression against a weaker country.

On the other hand, without the foreign aggression and intervention, the two dictators would continue to rule and rubbish their own people. The question is whether the Libyans and Iraqis were willing to be ruled by these dictators. Then again, some would and some would not. Who then should decide whether they should rule their own people? Should foreign powers be allowed to unilaterally decide the fate of other nations, to the extent of invasion and killing their unpopular and cruel dictators?

I thought the call should be with the Libyans and the Iraqis. They should decide the fate of their own people and country. But they could not do a thing without foreign assistance. So you have two evil dictators that could not be removed by their own people. And foreign powers decided that they should go in and do the killing.

I have mixed feelings as there are goodness and evil in all the actions and combatants.

10/20/2011

Weakness is sexy and inviting

The whole world was raped by the western powers for several centuries. Many were colonized and ruled by the barrel of the gun. China too was raped by the western powers, including Japan. It was almost colonized like the rest of Asia and Africa. And Japan bluntly told China that it was her fault for being weak. It invited aggression upon itself.

Today China is the second most powerful country, militarily and economically. But it is still being bullied by small little countries. It deserved to be bullied because it appears to be weak. It may be a super power, but it fears to use its power. So the littoral countries like Vietnam and the Phillipines always take potshots at China. Many of its fishing boats and fishermen were arrested by these two countries.

Yesterday a Phillipines naval craft rammed into another Chinese fishing boat towing several other smaller boats. And the Phillipines Govt conveniently claimed that it was an accident. So what is China going to do about it? If China continues its weak foreign policies it will only attract these pests to irritate her more often.

Pests need a swapper to swap them off. China must demand an apology and full compensation from the Phillipines. If it fails to do so, the Phillipines will conveniently have more accidents ramming Chinese fishing boats. And it will encourage Vietnam and other little countries to be adventurous. Even Sinkies will think it is okay to slam China.

Now India is going to send its aircraft carrier into the South China Sea to protect its oil drilling adventure in islands that the Chinese claimed to be theirs. The weak front that the Chinese is putting up is inviting more trouble from weak states. It cannot go on adopting this policy. It must stand up and kick asses. That is the only language that pesky states will understand. And only then will they stay clear of irritating China.

There is no other way. A weak foreign policy will only invite more trouble for China. China must learn from its past weakness and must not appear weak to small countries. Like it or not, whether China kick asses or not, the western world is going to brand it as a bully. It might as well live with it and whack the daylight out of these little pests that think they can shit on China’s head.

A good idea from Warren Buffett

Applicable to all countries....



Warren Buffett, in a recent interview with CNBC, offers one of the best quotes about the debt ceiling:
"I could end the deficit in 5 minutes," he told CNBC. "You just pass a law that says that anytime there is a deficit of more than 3% of GDP, all sitting members of Congress are ineligible for re-election".

The 26th amendment (granting the right to vote for 18 year-olds) took only 3 months & 8 days to be ratified! Why? Simple! The people demanded it. That was in 1971 - before computers, e-mail, cell phones, etc.

Of the 27 amendments to the Constitution, seven (7) took one (1) year or less to become the law of the land - all because of public pressure. Warren Buffet is asking each addressee to forward this email to a minimum of twenty people on their address list; in turn ask each of those to do likewise.

In three days, most people in The United States of America will have the message. This is one idea that really should be passed around.

_*Congressional Reform Act of 2011*_

1. No Tenure / No Pension.

A Congressman/woman collects a salary while in office and receives no pay when they're out of office.

2. Congress (past, present & future) participates in Social Security.

All funds in the Congressional retirement fund move to the Social Security system immediately. All future funds flow into the Social Security system, and Congress participates with the American people. It may not be used for any other purpose.

3. Congress can purchase their own retirement plan, just as all Americans do.

4. Congress will no longer vote themselves a pay raise. Congressional pay will rise by the lower of CPI or 3%.

5. Congress loses their current health care system and participates in the same health care system as the American people.

6. Congress must equally abide by all laws they impose on the American people.

7. All contracts with past and present Congressmen/women are void effective 1/1/12. The American people did not make this contract with Congressmen/women.

Congressmen/women made all these contracts for themselves. Serving in Congress is an honor, not a career. The Founding Fathers envisioned citizen legislators, so ours should serve their term(s), then go home and back to work.

If each person contacts a minimum of twenty people then it will only take three days for most people (in the U.S.) to receive the message. Don't you think it's time?

THIS IS HOW YOU FIX CONGRESS!

If you agree with the above, pass it on. If not, just delete.
You are one of my 20+ - Please keep it going, and thanks.

The worrisome things said by opposition MPs

The opposition MPs are trying to make an impact in Parliament by making recommendations on what could and should be done. The intention is good, but the approach is flawed from the word go. How could they think that they can teach the ruling party how to do their job? How could they think that they are more talented than the super talents and have better solutions? How could the super talents accept their suggestions? Would it make them look bad if they do? See the problem?

And the reactions and replies by the ruling party MPs are quite expected. No need to guess. Every suggestion will be met by opposition or cold water. The more they try to suggest, the more the suggestions will be thrown out. For instance Yaw Shin Leong was asking the govt to place Singaporeans first against foreign talents in employment opportunities.

What he could have done and get a better result is to propose that foreign talents should be treated better than Singaporeans. Propose that more trainings and funds be allocated to train foreign workers and foreign talents. Then let them attack his suggestion by calling him silly and tell him that the govt will not do things to favour foreign talents and workers. And instead they will proudly pronounce that the govt will allocate more funds and resources to put Singaporeans first.

It is all about strategizing to achieve the same objectives. Appear to be pushing right but really wanting to go left. When the reaction from the other side is expected and predictable, then they should just play the game according to how it is being played.

To try to teach the super talents and tell the super talents how to do their jobs is a wrong way to go.

Why need to help first timers?

Why the need to help first timers buy a HDB flat? Why the need to help newly weds to buy their first flat? What is the problem? Why is housing such a complex problem?

When the big fire flattened Bukit Ho Swee, it was a serious problem. Thousands of families were homeless. That was compounded by the thousands living in cubicles, squatters, attap and zinc huts across the whole island. It was a huge problem. But it was solved quite easily. And the only thing that the govt needed to do was to build and build and build until everyone had his flat. Nothing complicated at all. Big problem simple solution.

Then someone screamed that there was a huge stock of unsold flats. And some statisticians started banging the computers and claimed that so many billions of dollars were stuck because of unsold flats. So it was a big problem. Really? Or was it a big mistake?
It was a big mistake alright, but not because of over building. When one joker was panicking that so much money were tied down and furiously trying to get rid of the unsold flats, another joker was happily bringing plane loads of new migrants into the country. And they all needed housing. Obviously the two jokers were not on talking terms and it ended up in a hilarious situation when all the unsold flats were gone in no time, and now a bigger shortage problem.

And this shortage seems so complex that even our super talents could not resolve it and needed many years to hope of unwinding the mess. Could anyone believe that the housing problem today is worst than in the Bukit Ho Swee days?

The problem is so complex, very true. It is like travelling to town from Yishun. It was quite a straight forward thing. People used to walk or cycle to get to town, or to take a bus. Today it is a very complex problem. They need to computate which is the shortest route, the fastest route, the cheapest route. They have to check the number of ERPs, their operating hours and how much each will cost. They need to weigh whether it is better to take a bus or a train, or drive. They need to time when to leave the house, how late to stay in the office.

Why is life so complicated and so complex? Still didn’t get it? Just add more rules and regulations, add more obstacles and fees to get from point A to point B. And bring in more people into the island to keep the GDP growing. Then we have a very serious and complex problem that needs very talented super talents to try to unwind the mess. And because the problem is so messy, so complicated, you need to pay the super talents higher salaries to work on them.

In the times of Bukit Ho Swee, working class couple getting married only need to rent a room. Today, there are a thousand and one regulations and conditions before they can buy a HDB flat. And they are expected to wait for 3 or 4 years for a flat. And some can buy, some cannot buy, some dunno can or cannot buy. It sure is a very complex issue. It is like creating a maze and then help the people to navigate through it and claim credit. Why don’t they just remove the maze? KNN.

10/19/2011

Are opposition parties enemies of the state?

This issue has cropped up with Chen Show Mao telling the ruling govt that they are just providing an alternative voice, maybe a govt in waiting, and not the enemy of the state. For decades, the political opposition has been tacitly seen or projected as enemies of the state with many ended up in jail or humiliated. In earlier days there were the communist inspired doctrine of armed revolution to topple legitimate govt and practicing the art of statecraft is a matter of life and death. Has anything changed? Are the opposition parties still being seen as enemies of the state?

Who are looking at opposition parties as enemies of the state or enemies of the people? Is such a label valid and deserving? Political parties naturally see each other as opponents in the political contest for the right to govern a country. The mature western polities have accepted and are willing to live with multi parties and no longer see each other as enemies. In third world polities, the immaturity and ruthlessness of their political leaders will conveniently put opposition party members behind bars as enemies of the parties but dressed up as enemies of the people and the state. And they have full control of all the govt machinery, including civil servants, the military and the police to be their hatchet men, to do the dirty works for them. The motivations of their civil servants, the military, police and grassroots organizations are varied. What is fearful and frightening is that these people refused to think, refused to differentiate between right and wrong, or for self interests, willingly do harm to fellow citizens simply because the ruling govt made them to do it.

The unthinking civil servants and uniformed officers could unintentionally or intentionally become accomplices in oppressing the people, the opposition parties, as if they are the enemies of the state. In the course of political development and the maturing of statehood, civil servants and uniformed officers tend to distance themselves from becoming cronies of unscrupulous political leaders and refuse to have innocent blood tainting their hands. The war crime trial in Phnom Penh against Khmer Rouge leaders is a living example of how civil servants went about killing fellow citizens without questioning their conscience.

The maturity of statehood, of arriving at the first world of civilized nations can be measured by such developments. Civil servants and uniformed officers must develop an independent mindset, and not be compromised into oppressing citizens on grounds of political differences. It is also unbecoming for govts to compromise civil servants and uniformed officers by expecting them to conduct political inquisition or persecution of the people.

In mature polities, such things are now passé. Civil servants and uniformed officers are well educated, sophisticated and know their rights and duties as public officers of the state and not officers of a ruling party. They are public servants paid by public money to serve the people and the state, not to serve any political party. When such a state is arrived, statehood has reached manhood.

And political parties, including dissenting and diversed views and voices will be accommodated as part and parcel of, or family, of the polity. The new term for such a development is inclusiveness. They are not enemies of the state but patriots wanting to make the country a better place for all. The western states are quite comfortable at this level of their political development.

Are we in the same happy state of affair? Can we claim that we are a mature polity where politics and affairs of the state are quite distinct to everyone?

The myths of high speed trading

The current fear of high speed trading in the stock market is a repeat of the May 6 crash of 2010 that wiped out US$1 trillion in 30 minutes in New York. And there is genuine fear that there will be many repeats of the flash crash simply because high speed trading is primarily a machine based system. It is garbage in and garbage out. Human error or programme error will just trip the system and go quickly out of control.

The false sense of relief is that these were accidental errors, not by design or intention. Then there are also deliberate errors by rogue traders or funds trying to take advantage of the system. And there are the hackers who would want a share of the fun and the money by entering the system either for monetary benefits or to cause turmoil and a collapse of the system.

These are big issues that can ruin the stock market and cause big losses to investors and rightfully should warrant more serious attention. There are other worries that the administrators and regulators conveniently try to ignore, the interests of the genuine investors, the men in main street, who are investing their savings, the pension funds etc. Their interests need to be protected as well, not just the big funds and high frequency traders(HFT).

The supporters of high speed trading, the system developers, the big funds, HFTs and the regulators, have all been singing the same chorus so far. High speed trading has many benefits, or the benefits outweigh the cons. High speed trading increases liquidity, reduces trading cost, high volatility and high efficiency which are good. Bids can be very small and stocks becoming very liquid, which will facilitate entry and exit from the market.

Not much was really said of the cons and the ills of high speed trading. Not that there were none. They were either not spoken or swept under the carpet, just like all the derivatives and toxic notes and bonds. Everyone benefitting from high speed trading is crying ‘Hallelujah!’ It is a flawless system, it is godsend, something made in heaven for the stock market industry. It is unavoidable, like the tide coming in. Really? Is the spread of drugs unavoidable and states should give in to the drug lords?

Can it really be that wonderful, all goodness and no evil? All the goodness is actually a myth. The small teeny weeny bids, the high speed, high volatility, and lower cost, and high efficiency, only benefits the HFTs. The small investors, the men in main streets, are all losers for they cannot take advantage of any of these great stuffs. High speed trading is their Waterloo. All the great stuffs are actually working against them.

They have higher trading costs versus the funds and HFTs who trade practically at no cost, except for minimal clearing fees, and could make profits from one or two bids against the average traders that need 5 or 10 bids just to get even. The smaller bids are actually designed in this way to favour the funds and HFTs, yes, and against the small investors. They would not say so. Just do the arithmetic of a small trade and the disadvantage is glaring.

The act of allowing high speed computers to plug into the stock market system is itself a violation of stock market regulations. For it allows the HFTs to have access to real time information of buy and sell, and for their algos to work and decide what, when and how much to buy/sell with a clear win advantage. How can that be allowed? They could arbitrage with such information, not much different from insider trading, they could be front running, all because of electronic access to the system which other small traders did not have.

High speed trading will lead to a distortion of the real values of stocks. They have no interest in the fundamentals of a company or its price. They are only concern with quick profit by exploiting time and minimal changes of one or two bids. Their long term interest is likely to be 1 sec or lesser. They are happy if a stock moves up by one or two bids or vice versa. A stock market dominated by high speed trading may end up suppressing the values of good stocks and the outcome could be more delisting as there is no longer any incentive to list a stock in the market. When companies see no values in a stock exchange, the demise of the exchange is only a matter of time.

The stock market regulators have a duty to provide a level playing field for all. It is a key condition embedded in their constitution and rules and regulations. And they are violating this very fundamental rule, giving the HFTs an unfair and absolute advantage over small investors.

Who is to regulate the regulators to stop them from breaking their own rules and regulations? It is fairly acceptable for big funds to hire the best talents and use the best computers and algos to analyse their positions and trading. But they must not be allowed to plug into the stockmarket system to take advantage of their superior technology that is not available to the small investors. It is shocking that regulators allowed them to do so and not seeing any wrong about such an act. Let them play with their own high speed and sophisticated hardware and software, in the privacy of their own establishments, but NOT plugged into the stock market system.

Allowing this to happen is nothing but FOUL. It is a grave violation of stock market practices and rules and regulations, against fair play, inequitable, and even criminal.

High speed trading, high speed traders and algos are not angels playing with their golden harps. They are more like devils and demons with their wicked contraptions cheating the innocents. The small investors have been suffering huge losses, hundreds of times more than the Lehman crisis. Does anyone even bother to ask or to want to protect the small investors? Would anyone be pricked by their conscience to try to protect the small guys? No, it is a stupid thing to do. Be on the winning side. Look after the big business and big boys and make sure they can make more money from the losers.

There are agencies existing with the primary objective of protecting small investors? Are they doing anything about it? The brokerages and remisiers too have a responsibility to protect the small investors, to ensure that the playing is level and fair to all parties. The small investors are their customers. With no customers there would not be any business to do anyway.

The failure of the American and European regulators to provide a fair playing field, to allow corporate greed to cannibalise from the average workers, is the main reason for Occupy Wall Street Movement. The Movement will continue to spread until irresponsible greed and corporate corruption are arrested, and good governance be restored in the right places. Moral righteousness has gone to sleep.

10/18/2011

Pride in service

The Japanese are exemplary in pride in service or anything that they do. They will sweep the streets around their homes to keep it spotlessly clean. As an artisan or worker, they take great pride in their work and services. The British used to, or still have their high end butlers, impeccably dressed and well mannered, controlled and a bit snobbish, but providing an excellent service to their paymasters.

The closest that Singaporeans can come to this class of service is the taxi drivers. But not every taxi drivers, but those limousine drivers, with their long sleeves and ties. They are providing a service quite similar to the butlers, well mannered, well dressed, polite and willing to serve. I think that will be my next job.

There is another qualification for this group of professional taxi service. Most of them are likely to be ex PMETs and even with tertiary qualifications. They are unemployable under the current job market condition, and have no choice but to make a decent living in the best way they could. And they still have pride, and pride in what they could offer.
Don’t compare them with the ordinary uneducated and uncouth taxi drivers that would run you down if you are not careful. And they would share with you their stale tobacco smell with their cigarette butts left in a tin inside the cab.

Pride in service is not easy to develop among the lesser educated. But we will get there when more graduates start to drive taxis. And as a profession, they would not mind fetching the foreign talents everywhere, including the ladies to Geylang, to Orchard Road or Botanic Garden. This will help in our process towards a more graceful society.

Would there be real change in govt policies?

The first session of Parliament is showing some promise that the ruling party has finally got the message, that the people are pissed off with the arrogant attitude and past policies. Many are now questioning why now when things had already gone badly wrong in the past. The younger MPs are saying that they need to listen, really listen, seriously listen, and engage the people about their unhappiness and their aspirations. I think they are speaking from their hearts. The years of blanket policies and parroting party positions they did not agree may be changing. Cheng Bock is telling them to be themselves, to speak up for the people, not for the party.

While talk is easy, just like blogging, what is real is the substance. Could there be real change? While on one hand there were talks about changing with the time, the moribund mindset of the old quickly appeared. Believe me, some of them still did not know what is going on. They are still deeply embedded in old mindset and old ways of doing things, and would not question if those ways were right in the first place.

The empty your wallet policy must go. Oh dear, none of them will understand what this policy is all about. They did not know there is such a policy in the first place. They must be scratching their heads now, first time hearing this. One even suggested that 3 room resale flats must be reserved only for the lower income group. See how thick it can be? The 3 rm flats are no longer cheap. And the problem, where is the problem? Do they know what is the problem, what is the cause of high demand for flats? It is the empty thy wallet policy. Affordability is the govt’s pet catchphrase.
Why is it a sin for people who have a little more savings, or earning a bit more but to want to buy smaller flats? Why can’t people be allowed to save for their old age or other needs? Why must people be forced to buy bigger and bigger flats or private properties? This is sick thinking. And it is sicker that many Singaporeans did not even know that they are being forced to buy bigger flats or more expensive properties they do don’t need, do not want, or cannot afford because of other commitments and priorities. Some still quipping happily that no one is forcing the people to buy flats they cannot afford! Heard of daft Sinkies?

Public housing policy must change to meet the needs of the people, not the needs and demand of the govt. And the govt got the cheek to complain that the people have very little savings for retirement? How so? Don’t need to search, it is the affordability policy, the empty thy wallet policy.

And this policy is also practiced in hospitalization. The very mean testing procedure is meant to empty thy wallet. Why must people be forced to use more expensive wards and pay for bigger hospital bills?

Oh, the supply of C class wards is limited. So is the supply of smaller flats. Come on, stop the bull. The supply is not enough because the govt does not want to provide more C class wards or smaller flats. Is it that difficult to provide more C class wards or build more smaller flats when every flat is going to empty the wallets of the people?

Will there be real change? Unless the basic assumptions and thinking are changed, there can be no real change. How about flushing the brains with a water hose? And they may harass the people again by the use of authority. And all will be back to square one. Talk is cheap. The people are trying to engage the govt for real change that will be good for them and the country. Will the govt be willing to change for the good of the people and not using its own parameters and prescriptions? More bulls coming?

10/17/2011

Dispute in South China Sea

Indian and Vietnam have signed an agreement to prospect for oil in the disputed South China Sea. China has warned India not to fish in trouble water, especially China’s trouble water. India is now expanding its presence out of the Indian Ocean into the South China Sea. It has also sent its warship into the area as a show of force. And India and Vietnam are staying firm. Looks like Asians are all eager for war after years of peace. Good show India/Vietnam.

India and Vietnam make a perfect partner to take on China in a potential military conflict. Both have been defeated by China and taught a painful lesson in their border adventures into China. And both would like the opportunity to avenge their embarrassing defeats by the Chinese soldiers.

India is an up and coming superpower. It has an aircraft carrier, or maybe two. China has none except for a newly refurbished carrier for training purposes. India should be militarily superior to the Chinese in aircraft carrier alone. It has a truly blue water fleet and can project its power to the South China Sea. It can also depend on Vietnam for air cover. On balance, the combination of India and Vietnam looks superior to the Chinese Navy.

The Chinese Navy has never fought any battle against any country since the humiliating defeat by the British and later by Japan. This will be a good chance for India and Vietnam to show the Chinese a thing or two in naval warfare. They might have lost a land war, but a naval conflict is looking good for them.

India should bravely send its aircraft carrier to the South China Sea and test the resolve of the Chinese. And if they can prove that they are more superior to the Chinese, in combination with Vietnam, they stand to take over all the islands in South China Sea from China. And with the oil fields in the sea, India could be in control of a rich strategic resource and also deprive China of it. It is a good gamble for India. Nehru’s forward looking policy can be continued in an eastward looking policy. It will be a great opportunity for India to emerge as a bigger power than China.

Come on India, go for it. Come on Vietnam, you can do it.

PS. Just a reminder. The PLA can still cross the border should India/Vietnam engage in a naval battle with China. If both think they can fight China at sea, it does not mean that China cannot open another front on land. I must say it will be really interesting.

Cheng Bock’s next move

As an experienced fighter in Parliament, and being a veteran in PAP, Cheng Bock knows how the system works, how PAP works. He is the man to watch what is happening in Parliament. He will know what is real and what is unreal, and if there is any wayang, he too will know.

He is now telling the PAP MPs to stand up and speak for what they truly feel and want for the people. But there is a limit to this when the Whip is enforced. So how? Can the MPs go against the Whip?

So very likely the MPs can only speak out violently if the Whip is lifted. And when they do, Cheng Bock will be watching to see who is speaking out of their conscience or just doing it for show.

Then what if Cheng Bock knows the real McCoy versus the MediaCorp variety? Is he going to call them up for a lecture? Or is he going to write them a nasty letter to tell not to bluff? Or is Cheng Bock going to build up a new base for the next GE, hand picking those that he thinks will be of like minds, as an alternative party?

While Cheng Bock is watching, everyone else will also be watching.

No show at Raffles Place

Everyone seems to be disappointed at the no show for Occupy Raffles Place on Saturday. Some conveniently put the blame on the police for warning people not to participate or risk breaking the law for illegal assembly. Should it be a surprise at all? I knew from the very moment when the call of Occupy Raffles Place came out that there will be no such protest. And there is no need for me to bring my camera to cover the event. And I save $2 on mrt fare too.

Corporate greed and corruption is indeed a very serious problem in Europe and America. Everyone in the financial centres and those in govts are just as corrupt and greedy. That is why the Americans and Europeans are angry. And that is why their economies are facing the worst financial crisis today. They are expecting a revolution to cleanse the corporate world and their govts of greed.

Take a look at paradise. Take a deep breath and look again. Everything is just fine. Where got financial crisis? The economy is booming and everyone is so happy making millions and buying properties and cars even if they are the most expensive items in the world. When the economy is so well managed, when there is no corporate greed or corruption, there is obviously no need to Occupy Raffles Place. So Raffles Place was like a cemetery on Saturday, not even a devil dared to be there.

Our corporations are run by the most honest and highly moral people money can buy. They may be a bit expensive to be bought, but they are definitely honest and would not be affected by the corporate greed and corruption in corporate America and Europe. They earn their millions fairly and squarely, and honestly. They are worth every cent they are being paid.

So why should people be disturbed by the no show for Occupy Raffles Place? This is uniquely Singapore, the only paradise on earth that is not tainted by corporate greed and corruption. The protestors can go and occupy anywhere else, but it will be meaningless to Occupy Raffles Place. It is the only sensible thing to do.

10/16/2011

I will die if I retire

More and more people are claiming that they will die if they retire. Some were very rich and some were very poor. For the very poor, I know they will surely die for many reasons. For the very rich I know they will not die for many reasons.

Sunday is always a good time to talk cock and sing song. I have never been doing this for quite some time. So this morning I shall indulge in some talk cock amusement. As I was saying earlier, the poor losers will surely die if they retire. Many just got not more than $200 in their wallets to last them a week. Many may not have the money to pay for the medical bills. Many will have family commitments, children in school, dependents that need them to foot the bill. If they retire, their dependents will kill them or they will kill themselves out of embarrassment if they cannot fulfil their family responsibilities.

But why should the super rich and very clever people talk about dying if they retire? I am very sure no one has ever died because of retirement. I am also very sure that the academics and medical experts would not have any conclusive proof that people can die because they got retired.

So what’s the beef? My intuition is that they would not die at all. Just go and place a big bet with them, whether it is 1 year, 3 year or 5year after retirement, that they will live on. I think it is more like dying, dying that the million dollar paycheck is gone, dying that all the big titles is gone, dying that the glamour and power and the cronies fawning on them too will be gone. Psychologically these are the more real reasons for people who fear retirement.

The rich and clever people are so rich and so clever that they have so many wonderful ways to amuse themselves if they do get retired or lose their jobs. They could let their imagination runs wild with their talents and money, and have a wild wild time if they so retire. So what I think is another reason for them to say that they will die is that they are born just to work. They have no ability or unable to comprehend that there is a wonderful life waiting for them to indulge in should they retire. It must be a mental block. Surely if you tell them to work without a gaji they will quickly disappear before you could complete your sentence. I have yet to see any of these clever people work for free after retirement. I think they will not accept any appointments as chairman or director, or even the presidency if there is no money to take.

There is plenty of evidence that only the losers will work for free. Many will volunteer their time in social services, helping other losers, and even make great suggestions on how to make this country a better place, for free. The clever ones would ask how much if they have to lift a little finger for anything.

I think I have enough of talking cock for today. If Bill Gates will to say that he can eat and fart at the same time, like it is a damn big deal, many clever people will sure want to make the same claim all because Bill made the claim.

10/15/2011

Empty your wallet

The financial health of the young working class Singaporeans starts when they enrolled into tertiary education. For the more fortunate there is the PM scholarship, or papa mama scholarship to fall back on. The bills for their education will be picked up by papa and mama. For the less fortunate, they will have to take an education loan or to slog it out with some part time jobs to get by.

On completion of their first degree education, presumably they have taken an education loan, it is time to pay back. The PM scholarship recipients may also think of repaying their papa and mama. This will take out some of their exposable incomes which could have gone to their savings.

How long does it take for the young to save $100k or $200k for their deposits for their first flat? 5 to 8 years will be quite a reasonable time to save that first $100k/$200k for a tertiary educated young couple. And this sum will be clean off from their savings the moment they make that big decision, to get married and buy that property, public or private.

And for the next 30 years, the bulk of their savings will go to that property with little savings left. They would be quite lucky if they have enough money to meet the minimum sum requirements in the CPF and the Medisave. During this time, the family will be growing, with babies, and the need to pay for that precious car that a growing family needs at an average of $100k or $300k for 3 cars in 30 years. Come to think of it, the car is more expensive than a flat. A $400k will be useful for 99 years or costs $40k every 10 years, assuming there is zero value at 99 years. A cheap working man’s car is going to cost $100k every 10 year.

How much savings will a young couple starting out life today in 30 years time? By the time they hit the CPF withdrawal age, they will be lucky if there is some extra above the two minimum sum schemes to take out some money to spend. And this is only possible if there is no major health problem and admission to hospital which would likely empty everything in the Medisave and still not enough, and needing cash top ups. Hopefully there will be some cash savings available, not forgetting the PM scholarships they have to provide for their children.

What happens, for the fortunate few, everything will be just enough, everything just affordable, and the wallet nicely empty by the time they have to call it a day.

10/14/2011

Occupy Raffles Place

The Occupy Wall Street Movement is spreading across America and has reached Europe and Asia as well. We have Occupy London and now Korea, Malaysia, the Phillipines, Thailand on 15 Oct. Some Singaporeans are also talking about joining the Movement with Occupy Raffles Place this Saturday at 2.00pm. A facebook entry has been set up but meeting with lukewarm response. The police too have also taken to warn any would be demonstrators that it is illegal to do so except maybe Occupy HongLim.

The Movement started in New York where the protestors calling themselves the 99% are denouncing the greed in the finance industry, particularly the bankers and the Stock Exchange. They are saying that the huge income gap is unacceptable and the greed in Wall Street must be stopped.

How would this take shape here where the huge income gap is sung like a song, that it is perfectly a normal state of affair? From the look of it, it is going to be a non event. The people are happy with the big income gap and the greed all over as many are beneficiaries to the prosperity in every corner of the island. Everyone is feeling richer by the minutes while the income gap keeps widening. It is a good thing by the way.

Maybe they should change the tag into Celebrate Raffles Place. The turn out could be better and the festive mood may put the police more at ease.

Yes, yes. Not Occupy Raffles Place. Celebrate Raffles Place by the 99% of which many are millionaires also. They can also shout, Corporate Greed Is Good.

Sell Treasuries, Buy Corporates

October 12th, 2011
By David Goldman
In a new Macrostrategy report, we recommend selling Treasuries and buying lower-rated corporates
.

The above extract from David Goldman is quite interesting. With a little twist, it can be turned into a strategy for SWFs. Sell core assets and buy fire sales assets. This means that one should sell all core assets, land, landed properties, and blue chip companies, for very good prices as they are really valued assets. With the money, go out to the world and buy lelong(junk) assets or lower rated corporate assets at fire sale prices. By selling a smaller number of core assets or blue chip assets, one can buy thousands of failed corporate assets and turn them around. Then can make billions and billions of profits.

I think it is a terrifying strategy, a brilliant strategy. Between a genius and an idiot, is only a fine line. I call it terrifying because if successful, the profits can be enormous. But failure rate is so high that it is terrifying. Only the fools or genius will ever think of applying such a strategy. It is like throwing good money after bad money. But if it is OPM, other people’s money, it is worth a gamble. After all one can lose everything, without losing one’s own pants. But if successful, one can claim all the credits and demand a pot of gold.

10/13/2011

Govt decided to sell less landed properties to PRs

Shanmugam said he would be surprised if approvals for sale of landed properties to PRs will be more than 50% of last year. The criteria for approval will be more stringent. About 230 applications were received yearly and about 60% or 140 were approved. So likely the number of approvals will still be around 100 a year.

According to the MD of RealStar Premier Group, the company sold an average of 10 to 20 landed properties a month to PRs. Using an average of 15 per month, RealStar alone would have sold 180 such properties a year. And RealStar is only one of the hundreds of real estate companies.

Assuming that RealStar is the biggest real estate company, and there are only 100 real estate companies here and each sells only 10 such properties a year, the total landed properties sold will be more than 1000 units. I think my assumptions and extrapolation are grossly flawed.

The total number of applications over the last 3 years averaged only 230. How can there be so many sales? Beats me. Nowadays my arithmetic is pretty bad. Blame it on my arithmetic sir.

I appreciate Melissa Tan’s ingenuity in her article on this subject today.

The best fighting soldiers

The British attacked China with a few wooden boats armed with cannons and won. A legion of 20,000 men from Europe calling themselves representatives of the League of Nation, ransacked the Summer Palace and burnt it to the ground. The Qing Empire was in shambles and China, together with all Chinese, bowed their heads in shame. It led to nearly 150 years of humiliation by the world. Even Chinese became ashamed of being Chinese or anything Chinese. They lost all self respect and confidence as a people, and nearly lost their country.

In the 150 years of shame, the Chinese diaspora started to settle all over the world as coolies, labourers and the luckier ones as cooks and laundrymen and farmers. There was no self respecting Chinaman to speak off. They were bullied, discriminated and abused, even killed everywhere they went. Many got killed in Indonesia and Malaysia, the Phillipines, Australia, Africa and the USA, for just being Chinese.

The thousand years of civilization was reduced to dust, nothing worthy to talk about. And in times of adversities, many Chinese stooped to work with their enemies, became traitors of their country and people, for the simple selfish reason of survival. In China, in Southeast Asia, the Chinese betrayed Chinese and helped the Japanese to kill many more Chinese. They became a hopeless race that were only good to be kicked around. No wonder many Chinese today still despise their Chineseness and anything Chinese.

There were many mean and shameful Chinese all over the world. For every such despicable Chinese, there were many that would rise and willing to fight and sacrifice their lives for their motherland. The revolutionaries that overthrew the decadent Qing Dynasty were Chinese, not that different from the shameless Chinese elsewhere. Hundreds of thousands died in the course of rebuilding their lost and broken country, in the name of martyrdom, patriotism and nation before self. Yes, there were many more patriotic Chinese out there, in the past and today.

The greatness of the Chinese people was lost in an era of shame and poverty. All that was written about the Chinese outside China were a helpless and hopeless people, good for nothing, shameful in everything. No one has any good impression of the inscrutable Chinese, no class, no personality and no money.

1911 was the formation of the Republic of China. 1949 Mao Tse Tung took over an impoverished China torn to pieces by warfare and foreign aggression and lootings. For once, a new China was emerging, a new united China standing up on its feet to face a brave new world. No one took them seriously, a communist country that was bankrupt in everyway, with no industry, except the will of a defeated and broken people.

1950, exactly a year after People’s Republic of China was formed, China entered the Korean War. The ferocious and hungry North Koreans were a force to be reckoned with. They drove the South Koreans nearly into the sea in Pusan. They could have reunited the Koreas into a united country. Then the world’s biggest military power intervened with the landing at Inchon, cutting the North Korean forces into two. The mighty Americans, with superiority in all arms, air force, navy and army, were too powerful for the North Korean foot soldiers. With little air cover and heavy weapons or tanks, the North Koreans were beaten back to the north. General MacArthur was victorious and continued in pursuit, crossing the 38th parallel and driving the North Korean soldiers across the Yalu River into Chinese territory. He paused and threatened to cross into China. The poor Communist China was in a dilemma. They had hardly stood on their feet, with not much military hardware except a bunch of peasant soldiers and small arms to face the might of the USA. The only thing they could depend on was the will of their fighting men, the same fighting men that fought the great Japanese Army who were supported by fighter bombers from the air and tanks and big artilleries on the ground, and a naval fleet that destroyed the American Pacific Fleet in Pearl Harbour.

The Chinese soldiers fought the Japanese in many battles with small arms, rifles, machine guns, pistols, hand grenades, many obsolete, and broad knives. They could not defeat the Japanese, but neither the Japanese could defeat them, amidst heavy casualties on the Chinese side. The Chinese soldiers never say die, but die they did, in hundreds of thousands. These were the faceless, fearless and patriotic soldiers that would give their lives for their country. They have their unspoken heroes. For every turncoat Chinese, there were thousands and thousands of patriotic Chinese willing to die for their motherland.

Now another battle was looming with the victor of the Second World War at their doorstep. All the latest military hardware was available to MacArthur and his highly trained and equipped forces. The Chinese did not even have an arms factory then. No war machines and highly dependent on the Soviet Union for every bullet and rifle it needed. It was an odd that no military commander would be pleased with. They were simply outgunned, out classed and could easily be out manoeuvred by the highly mobile and modern American forces at their front yard.

To make matter worst, General MacArthur was no decent school teacher. He was a military brat. And with all the superior arms and forces in his charge, he was eager to push into China to thrash the commies and the gooks. Victory was at his calling. It was a military mismatch.
His other half on the Chinese side was General Peng Te Huai, a war veteran of the Long March, who was conversant with fighting a conventional cum guerilla warfare with only foot soldiers. No air power, no air cover. No big guns, no tanks or big artillery pieces. He could only fight a basic infantry battle on the ground, with soldiers running all over the place. In today’s parlance, MacArthur must be telling himself that it was a piece of cake, a cake walk to glory. Defeating the poorly equipped peasant soldiers was like playing war games.

The Chinese could not accept the Americans occupying North Korea and it was a do or die situation. The American war machine had crossed the 38th parallel against the warning of Zhou En Lai. They decided to intervene and take on the Americans. They ambushed the American division after division and sent them scurrying south of the 38th parallel. They exchanged the lives of their soldiers for American bullets. The Chinese soldiers fell like dominoes, but they kept charging. The Americans fired until their gun barrels melted by the heat of non stop continuous firing. The waves and waves of fearless peasant soldiers were too much for the Americans and they fled. They were driven south by the poorly equipped peasant soldiers with rifles and small arms and no air cover. The Americans were forced to retreat 500 km from the Yalu River back to where they started south of the 38th parallel. A stalemate and truce was called till today at the same position now known as the DMZ.

The Chinese soldiers battled the seasoned and well equipped first class American soldiers to a stalemate after chasing them out of North Korea. Their ability to send in 700,000 foot soldiers all the way from China deep into Korea without being detected was legendary. The soldiers travelled on foot and bicycles, and only by night. Their swift mobility and stealth allowed them to ambush Americans soldiers of division strength, not companies or battalions. MacArthur was caught sleeping until the PLA, then called People’s Voluntary Army, PVA, pounced onto them. He thought they were still in China. It also spoke highly of their intelligence gathering, without air recon, they could pin point all the American forces and took them out at will.

The Korean War was the first major military victory of the peasant soldiers of modern China. The war was fought at a time when Communist China was at its weakest while America was at its peak of military power, coming out as the main victor of the Second World War. And of course the Americans claimed they had won. That would be the American and western version of the story of victory over Chinese peasant soldiers. They will repeatedly tell the world and their allies that they pushed back the Chinese to the 38th parallel. They would not tell anyone that they were pushed down from the Yalu River to below the 38th parallel by the peasant soldiers. Neither will they tell the world that the Chinese troops were ordered to hold their positions at the 38th parallel which was and still is the demarcation line between the two Koreas. It was an internationally agreed line and sanctioned by the UN. It was the line that MacArthur was told not to breach. He did and get delirious only to be knocked back to sanity by the peasant soldiers of the PLA.

This war was also significant in the military sense as it was conventional warfare fought with guerilla tactics on the side of the Chinese. It was two huge armed forces of many divisions fighting in the battle field. Yes, designations of armies versus armies. Every arm and department of a combined armed force in battle was tested. Just to illustrate the scale of the war, the US 8th Army was attacked on 3 fronts, the US 7th Infantry Division with 30,000 men were encircled and had to fight their way out and suffered 15,000 casualties. Then the Marines were attacked by six Chinese PVA divisions and forced to retreat.

The Sino India Border War was another conventional battle but of a much smaller scale, brigade or division strength. In 1962, a staunchly nationalistic Nehru was the Prime Minister of a revived independent India. After 100 years of British colonial rule and inheriting British military training and arms, and a British map claiming Chinese territories as Indian’s, Nehru saw India as a new power in the region. In the north was the poor communist state of China. Adventurism and ambition came to his head. He had no respect for the peasant soldiers of a poor commie country. He had in his arsenal, some of the best and most modern firearms from the British. The peasant soldiers were inconsequential, hungry and not well fed or well trained. His dreams of grandeur led to designs on more Chinese land for India. He was not contented with the Chinese territories that McMahon drew into the British map as part of India. He wanted more.

Indian soldiers were sent to the border and started to attack the Chinese border guards. He was successful initially as the element of surprise in a military battle was with him. He planned the attacks and was well prepared for it, with his brigades and logistics. Indian soldiers entered Chinese territories and claimed victories over the Chinese for several weeks. Nehru was jubilant. The whole of India was jubilant. They were beating the commie Chinese soldiers. Soon India would be bigger with more Chinese land conquered and a respected big regional power.

Nehru took no heed to the warnings from Beijing. He kept on his attacks. In the meantime the Chinese were bringing in reinforcement and planning their counter attacks to rid the invaders. The easy victories got into Nehru’s head. He under estimated the fighting abilities of the peasant soldiers. When the Chinese launched the counter offensive, they were swift and deadly. Indian forces were cut off and destroyed. The rest just fled and fled, leaving behind their weapons and everything to the Chinese. There was no will to fight. The Chinese peasant soldiers drove all the way to the outskirt of New Delhi without resistance. It was like a hot knife cutting through butter.

The Chinese soldiers could easily march into New Delhi. But they unilateral declared a halt to their advances and withdrew. The Chinese could have taken back all the territories seized by the British there and then. But they told the Indian Govt that they would not take back their territories by military means. They would negotiate for their return by diplomacy. Then they returned all the military weapons captured, left behind by the fleeing Indian soldiers. The POWs were also returned, after being treated for their wounds and fed. They were not subjected to any torture or interrogations for military intelligence, except for their names and units. The Chinese treated them like friendly forces injured in a joint war game. No hostility or abuses.

The war tally, nearly 5000 Indian soldiers killed, 4000 captured and nearly 2000 wounded. On the Chinese side, 700 were killed and nearly 2000 wounded. None were taken as POWs.

All the Indian POWs and captured weapons were returned to the Indian govt without extracting any terms or conditions. It was Chinese diplomacy at its best. The Indians and the world were shocked by the event and started wild speculations trying to explain the Chinese conduct of the whole engagement. Of course they claimed that the Chinese were the provocators and the cause of the border war, and were taught a lesson by the Indians. And that the Chinese were driven out of India.

The Sino Indian Border War was the second military victory against a foreign power chalked up by the peasant foot soldiers of modern China, the PLA. It was a bitter lesson that the Indians learnt and that kept them away from more mischief in the Sino Indian border all these years. Lately there are signs that they have forgotten this lesson and are itching to test the peasant soldiers once again.

After proving their fighting capabilities, the world still looked down on the peasant soldiers. They were not very well equipped, not very well uniformed, not refined, just like peasants, unlike the sparkling tailored uniforms of the West, and those of the Indians. But they have proven twice to be a mean fighting machine.

Then came 1979. After their victory against the most powerful nation in the world, the Vietnamese thought they were invincible. They repaid gratitude to China for supporting them for 30 years against the Americans with several border incursions into China. The Vietnamese were once a part of the Qing Empire but ceded to the French when the Qing lost a war with them. There were good reasons to want to be tough and ungrateful to their former ally. Like the Sino Indian border incursions, the Vietnamese were victorious in their surprise attacks and did not take the Chinese warning seriously. They had defeated the mighty Americans and what was a poor commie peasant army? They must have believed that they could lick the Chinese army like the way they kicked the Americans out of Vietnam.

The Vietnam War was not conventional warfare. It was guerilla warfare, a war of attrition. The Vietnamese outlasted the Americans. There were some battles but of much smaller scales. The American troops did not meet force to force with the Vietnamese. During the dying days, the Americans were just pulling out and the Vietnamese moving in.

The biggest conventional battle fought in Vietnam was Dien Bien Phu in 1954. There the Viet Minh fought the French in a main battle field and won convincingly.

When the Chinese launched their counter attacks in 1979, it was a repeat of the Sino Indian border exercise. They came with a cane and whipped the behinds of the Vietnamese and sent them running back to Hanoi. Yes, it was conventional warfare. They defeated the Vietnamese soldiers in the battle field. The Chinese peasant army could march into Hanoi if they wanted to. But to show their non aggressive intent, they stopped and withdrew like before. The Chinese not only wanted to teach the Vietnamese a lesson not to be ungrateful, and also not to think too highly of themselves, it was also a message to the world that it harboured no territorial designs on its neighbours.

The Americans fought every war and kept their soldiers behind, in Europe, in Japan, in South Korea, unfortunately they were driven out of Vietnam. The Americans are also in the Middle East, Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and now Libya.

But the world and some silly Asians, including some Chinese, chose not to believe the Chinese peaceful rise. The Chinese had fought in Korea, India and Vietnam, because the enemies came to them, and then withdrew after defeating the enemies. If these were not enough to show their non expansionist and not aggressive policies, what else would the world want before they will acknowledge that China is a peaceful country?

Of course the Western media put the blame on China in all three wars, as the aggressor and also the loser. The Chinese lost to the Americans in Korea, driven out by India, and were taught a lesson by the Vietnamese. The fact is that the arrogant Vietnamese have since become a very peaceful neighbor. No more adverturism. So is India.

What the three wars said, or did not say, is that the Chinese peasant soldiers had fought three wars, against the Americans and supplemented by its Allies under the guise of UN, which meant that the PLA fought the combined forces of at least 15 countries, then the Indians and the mighty Vietnamese that defeated the mightier Americans, and came out victorious. In the war against the Americans and its Allies, the odds in terms of technology and hardware were stacked against the Chinese, and still they came out on top.

The Chinese people should be proud of the way their peasant soldiers conducted themselves in battle. They were not pushovers. And today, with the full compliments of an air force, navy and army and supporting arms, equipped with the best weapons and communication systems, they now have their own armed industries and are self reliance in weapons production, the peasant soldiers are more than the peasant soldiers of the past. The PLA is now well equipped, well fed, well armed and well uniformed and can take on any military power anywhere, any time. This is the new Chinese peasant soldier, a soldier of the 21th Century with a record of 3 victories against enemies that were better equipped, with better weapons and superior firepower, and with better credentials. What US marines? They will eat them for breakfast. Don’t trifle with the PLA. They can fight conventional war as well.

Video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XgfFpojG4GM&feature=topics The crushing moment - part one.

PS. This article is written to commemorate the new China’s 60 years of struggle to reconstruct a country, to rebuild a nation, to redeem the pride and dignity of a people, to bring economic prosperity to its people, to restore faith and confidence in its people, to be a respected nation and an equal among all nations. As a Singaporean of Chinese origin, I wish them well.