For advertisement

Sample

12/31/2011

Fallen myths and discredited policies

When the concept of super talents in politics was first proclaimed in an edict, the people quietly accepted it as there was nothing to dispute the fact that the country has been very well managed, from the Third World to the First World. Albeit a little flaws here and there, overall the country was in the pink of health and the people were rich and happy.

With this edict out of the way, it was easy to put meat onto this claim. The country needed the best talents to keep it going from prosperity to prosperity. And the best talents needed to be paid the best. The best talents would not want to sacrifice their careers and money making opportunities to serve the country and people if they were to be under paid. It made sense. So they went piling on the plate.

Till sometime last year, this year is not over yet, there were strong indications of more pay hikes for the political leaders. Something like how much you want, $3m, $5m or $10m? No one knows exactly how much the politicians were taking home except the basic pay.

The year 2011 proved to be a turning point of sort, a watershed in many ways. Hot on the heels of the Mas Selamat Escape in 2008, a series of bloops continued to fall on the faces of ministers in charge. Transportation, floods, Youth Olympics, Housing, cost of living, foreign talents and unemployments of local PMETs, all added to become a big pool of grievances.

The ground shift was felt in the May General Election. George Yeo was shaken even before the voters went to cast their votes. Hsien Loong made a quick public apology in his election speech. And the ruling party lost a GRC, an unsinkable contraptions that was not meant to sink, but sank it did, taking with it two ministers and a couple of top talents in the govt. It was only one GRC, but the psychological and emotional impact of this event was like saying more to come.

The appearance of Chen Show Mao, a truly super talent with international standing and a super income to boot, stood for the opposition and willing to accept a paltry $13,000 as an MP allowance. Small relative to what he could get but huge in many ways to what many MPs could get relative to their incomes. He could earn many times more. This act alone shattered the myth that super talents would only be enticed by money to serve the country and people.

Against this backdrop, the ruling party added to their wound with more questionable and doubtful super talents in their teams and hilarious accounts flooded the media. It was like the strike of a thunderbolt. The super talent myth was gone. There was disbelief as well as affirmation that it was all a myth.

With the fallen myth and the discredited policies that affected the lives of citizens adversely, the super salaries of politicians became a big issue. Suddenly it was seen as unjustifiable, grossly overpaid, leading to Hsien Loong calling for a Salary Review Committee to relook into the whole formula of out of this world salary for the ministers. And the first comment from Gerard Ee, who was tasked to do the review, was that the ‘final answer must include a substantial discount on comparable salaries in the private sector.’ A discount or a substantial salary cut is what the people are expecting. No body in his right mind would think that paying the ministers so much is right. And no ministers were in the right mind to stand up to defend their salaries as deserving and appropriate.

The report by the Committee has been submitted to Hsien Loong and all eyes and ears are waiting eagerly to see what the Committee has recommended. The year 2011 marks the end of the super talent concept and salaries in politics.

Temasek cutting losses

KARACHI:
Fed up with mounting losses at its only major investment in Pakistan, the Singapore-based Temasek Holdings is selling off its stake in NIB Bank and is reportedly in talks with the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China, sources told The Express Tribune.

Senior management officials at NIB Bank were so tight-lipped about the transaction that, not only did they refuse to discuss the matter, but they even refused to go on the record as having said that they have no comment. Neither the ICBC not Temasek Holdings were available for comment, despite repeated attempts to contact them by The Express Tribune….

Temasek certainly has reason to be unhappy. The Singaporean state-owned institutional investor has ploughed about $540 million into NIB Bank and has thus far seen the bank make close to $400 million in losses. At the close of trading on Wednesday, NIB Bank had a total market capitalisation of approximately $154 million, which values Temasek’s 74% holding (through its subsidiary Bugis Investments) at $114 million….


The above are the starting paragraph of an article titled, ‘Cut your losses: Temasek may be selling off NIB to China Bank’ by Farooq Tirmizi in The Express Tribune.

I could sense a little sarcasm and sneering by the author that Temasek is making such a huge loss. But smug not, for Farooq did not know how big is Temasek’s portfolio and this loss is just a pittance compared to all the big gains it is making elsewhere. I bet in the next annual report Temasek will announced another scintillating result with profits in hundreds of millions, after minus this small loss. For every loss of a few hundred millions, it will be covered by gains of many hundred millions. That is how good the track record of Temasek.

Our reserves are in good hands with the best money can buy managing them.

12/30/2011

Hormuz the next flash point

This will be the big one. No peace in the Middle East with the Empire threatening to impose sanctions on Iran to cripple its economy. The Japanese attacked Pearl Harbour when the West and the US tried to strangle its economic development and curtailing its access to oil and natural resources. Iran is not going to stand still and allow the Americans to hurt its economy. It is threatening to close the Straits of Hormuz if the US applied sanctions against her.

The US has sent its aircraft carrier John C Stennis to the Hormuz. US Chief of Staff, Gen Martin Dempsey has revealed that they are planning to attack Iran once the White House gives the clearance. Israel is opening talking about a preventive strike against Iran’s nuclear facilities.

It is Iran’s fault to force the peace loving Empire and Israel to want to attack it. Blame it on the Iranians. A new coalition of peace loving countries will be gathered to attack the hostile and unfriendly Iran. God bless the peace loving countries. Iran must be destroyed and there will be peace on earth. Iran is only the third country to be attacked by the peaceful countries and the peace loving Empire. One by one they will be attacked by the hordes of hyenas dressed like angels.

Next to be attacked by the peace loving countries and Empire will likely be Pakistan, North Korea and China. All these are aggressive warlike countries planning to attack countries of peace loving people. So the peace loving countries and Empires must strike at all these war mongering countries to maintain peace.

The logic of peace loving countries that daft peace loving people of the world are expected to believe and swear by it. Only peace loving countries will provoke and attack other countries in the name of peace and start wars. With America around, the world can be guaranteed to have wars every day, in the name of peace.

Tough to get retail investors into stock market

Where have all the retail investors gone? Why is it that so few are interested in the stock markets? Despite all the efforts to woo them, systems and designs tweaked for their benefits, the best stock market in the world, the fastest high speed computers to hand millions of trades in a few seconds, where are the traders? Is it that Singaporeans are allergic to trading stocks?

No body knows why, or no one wants to see what is really wrong with the market? Everyone playing the 4 proverbial monkeys, see nothing, hear nothing, say nothing and do nothing. It is sad that there are so many super talents, including foreign talents, but no one knows or wants to know the truth. And yet, everyone in the industry knows what went wrong. What a farce!

And they all appear to be in a state of shock! Why ah? Why Singaporeans did not want to dabble in stocks? Stock market got no pulling power? We do not have this, we do not have that, we need more marketing to lure the suckers to buy snake oils!

Just flash back the memory to 1993, everyone, housewives, students, hawkers in the market, were all in the market, dabbling in stocks. Everyone was talking nothing but stocks. PhDs and highly qualified professionals were giving up their jobs to be in the market. And we have stocks, plenty of stocks from two markets to trade with. No need big foreign funds, no need high speed computers, no algos, and the stock markets were roaring.

The stockbrokers were smiling, the remisiers were hard pressed for time to breathe, the employees were in glee with 12 months bonuses. Property booms because there was so much liquidity and many people became rich. There was buzz, big buzz instead of big bust.

Today, with high speed computers, big foreign funds, plenty of them, algos, big trading volumes, but you could hear a pin drop inside a broking house. The industry is dying. The broking houses will go into the red if things did not turn around. The remisiers will become taxi drivers or housing agents if these are still available. Anything will be better than to become a remisier. The staff in the brokerages will see retrenchment coming.

A lucratic industry turning to a ghost town. 10,000 people will soon lose their jobs. What is happening? No one knows. All the people supposed to know did not know. Can you believe it? Then who should know? God knows.

The proper perspective of history

Many people tend to write about social political developments in Southeast Asia as if these countries were there from time immemorial. The truth is that many of these countries we see today and took for granted were never countries in the normal sense. Many were colonies or disorganized states of a different nature, and some have not even reached statehood in whatever counts.

Singaporeans used to use the familiar dates of 1819 as the founding of Singapore and 1959 when we were given self rule, but still a colony of the British Empire, not an independent country. Then came 1963 and 1965, when we became part of Malaysia and then truly independent as a nation. And there was the blip in 1941 to 1945 when we were conquered and became part of the Japanese Empire.

What was the state of Singapore in 1819? Was it a state, a country, with local govt, with a head of state, or was it a natural territory that was still evolving? There was the Johore Sultanate, with a Temengong and village chiefs. It was then probably called Temasek, or was it called something else? It did or did not have a name until Raffles landed and claimed this land as part of the British Empire and ceded it from the Johore Sultanate? It was so easy then. And he named the island Singapore or Singapura. The people, not citizens, became British subjects, owned by England. I don’t think they called themselves Singaporeans or British or Malayans. There was no Malaya as a single entity or country then.

Sounds quite funny really. There were the sultans who owned parts of the peninsula separately but no country that we know of today. They were regrouped by the British as Federated and non Federated states. There was no Malaya to talk about till 1946. A Federation of Malaya came about only in 1948 as a British colony. It only became an independent state in 1957. As a country, Malaya was even younger than me.

Singapore only gained self ruled in 1959, but still a British colony, not a country. Only in 1963 were we given the honour of calling ourselves Malaysians, citizens of a country. This short lived affair lasted for two years before we gained our independence as Singapore. Then could we call ourselves Singaporeans. Were there Singaporeans before 1965, Singaporeans of an independent country?

Until 1963, the people were a mixed of migrants with different nationalities and at best could called themselves British subjects. They didn’t have a country to pledge loyalty to but to raise the Union Jack and sing ‘God save the King/Queen’. Oh, in the period under Japanese Occupation, they were actually Japanese subjects, Japanese conquered people. And every racial group was on their own to look after themselves. You want schools for your children, go and build yourself. Raise your own fund, the govt of the day did not care who you were or your needs as a people.

No one bothered about integration or welcoming them. No one bothered what was happening to another racial group. Neither would the British be bothered. To them, all the residents were their subjects and each might hold different loyalties to wherever they came from.

And all the changes happened about 50 years ago. Could Singapore go and join the rest of the newly minted countries to claim the islands in South China Sea? We were just migrants, then British, then Japanese, British again, then Malaysian and now Singaporeans.

Now we talk about rights as citizens, equal under the law. We demand to be treated equally. We can get angry if feel discriminated. Before all these today, what rights could we talk about then? Everyone was on their own, to make the best of the day.

What’s next? American or International citizens?

12/29/2011

Can Singaporeans be so cruel?

Members of a family who repeatedly tortured a 10-year-old relative over two years and left him permanently disfigured were yesterday sentenced to jail.

The boy - who started living with his grandaunt and her family when he was four, after his mother went to prison - was beaten repeatedly, burned and had his fingers cut. …
The court heard the boy was hit last year on his mouth with a hammer, causing a tooth to fall off and his mouth to bleed.
This was after his grandaunt found out he had finished some fried rice meant for the family.

A few months after the incident, the boy was again abused for allegedly stealing food and playing with the knobs of the gas stove.
His grandaunt asked her three daughters to restrain the boy while she splashed hot cooking oil on his face and body. She also cut his fingers with a pair of scissors, and pressed a hot iron and ladle on him….

The boy now suffers from facial deformities, including a distorted lip margin and a flattened nasal bridge.
The above extracts were taken from the ST.

Singapore a safe haven for money

The developers are worried that the recent property curbs may dampen the property market and lead to a recession. I think they are unduly worried and the fear is misplaced. Singapore is the choice estate for the rich to park their money, good or bad money, as long as they can get them in. The attractiveness of Singapore is a stable and good govt and a system of rule of law. Once the money is in and legally accepted, the money is safe.

With so much money floating around the world and seeking a safe place to hide or park, where else but Singapore. For this reason, more money will keep flowing in as other places are turning bad. Switzerland has lost its attractiveness when its privacy status is being challenged, and with foreign govts being able to pry open private accounts. The Arabs are also starting to realize their stupidity for putting money in Europe and the US when the Americans could seize them at will. And the US dollar is no longer a safe hedge for the future.

The developers should have no fear as foreign money are aplenty and will keep coming in as long as the door is open. In fact they should prepare for a flood of foreign funds into the island. The price of private high end properties should never be an issue as the reason for the money to be here is safety. And there are plenty of these monies wanting to come in.

Stop crying wolf. They could hold their prices or even expect the demand to increase. How much more land can this piece of rock sell to foreigners? And the prices are guaranteed to go up and up. The best hedge against inflation, and very safe.

Super high speed train for paradise

The ageing SMRT train system is looking like a goner. Instead of high speed it has to operate on slower speed. And instead of a smooth free ride, getting train disruptions and delays are going to be a daily affair. So what else needs to be done to improve the system of mass rapid transportation? I am including the words ‘mass’ and ‘rapid’ in case people think it is meant to be otherwise.

First step, send the international head hunter agencies to go on a world wide hunt for a true blue foreign talent to helm the organization. Local talents definitely won’t do, good at scoring As only in examinations. Regional talents, well, proven still not good enough.

Once such a true blue foreign talent comes on board, even 30 years is ok, tell him we want the best MRT and let him go to work. Soon we will have the world’s best super high speed train running from Tuas to Changi, only these two stops. At 500kph, it would take only 5 min for the journey. There is no possibility of more stops if the train is to hit the top speed. It would be a super fast journey, no jams, like taking a river bus from Clark Quay to Marina Barrage.

When the system is in place, commuters can take the snail train to Tuas or Changi to get to their destinations super fast. This will definitely help alleviate the jams in the city as commuters will all be travelling outwards to Tuas and Changi.

Why would they want to go to Tuas and Changi is not the problem as long as the train is super fast. And we have another claim to make, the fastest public transport system in the world. Never mind if it is empty. The train computer can generate images on the windows to give the impression that the trains are full, full of activities.

Never mind if it costs billions of dollars. It is other people’s money. And can get reporters to write about how good the super high speed train is, all the good stuff. It is all about the future, proactive, planning ahead for higher demands, looks very good too.

If, after blowing the trumpet for a while and the truth is that the super high speed train is not doing what it should be, well, it was a good wet dream. The foreign talent can say good bye and collect his fat severance pay to live forever, happily ever after. As for the white elephant, still can show the world we have the fastest super high speed train running, all paid for by the people.

12/28/2011

Pakistan another powder keg

Pakistan is poised for a big explosion, a military coup. The Army Chief came out to deny that a coup was in the making. What is worrisome is the discovery of a note from a Pakistani leader asking the US to intervene to prevent a coup from happening. What a recipe for disaster! Now, who sent that note out for help? Or was there really a Pakistani leader that sent out such a note inviting a foreign power to move in to his country? Is that a sign that a certain foreign power are planning to meddle with Pakistan’s internal affair?

There were also talks of coup in China and in North Korea. Where would the support for such coups to come from? There have been frequent rumours in the media that these leaders are weak and the dissident groups are waiting to oust them out, and a coup is the perfect weapon.

No coup has happened in China or in North Korea since the end of WW2. Coups happened quite frequently in Arab land, in the Philippines, in South Korea, in South Vietnam, in Thailand, in Indonesia, but not even in North Vietnam. They are considered unstable govts but never had coups. Only stable countries have had coups.

Pakistan got to be very careful as the coup makers are working overtime for a coup, maybe with outside help.

The illegal casinos

Casinos started in a small way, and all illegal. They gambled with match sticks, cards, dice, beans, and some even have their manual roulette tables. Things changed when the sophisticated mafias started to engage engineers and technology experts to create new and more interesting games. For their huge investments to be profitable, they must find willing casino operators to use their machines.

They went to entice the casino operators with high turnovers, high gambling activities and with a sure win formula. They will pay the casino operators a fee and the casino operators will have to accommodate them with how the rules of the games should be played. Some casino operators even bent the rules for the big mafia boys.

And the mafias brought in their expensive and highly computerized machines into the casinos. They explained that the machines would do all the works, and all kinds of gamblers can play the machines. The operators only need to provide coins, $1, 50c, 20c, 10c, 5c and even 1c. The smaller bets were good, would attract many more small gamblers. And the operators obliged without question asked. The operators could just go to sleep and collect their dues.

As long as the mafias kept paying the operators their dues, the operators did not care and did not want to know what the mafias were doing. The machines were rigged to maximize profits. The odds in favour of the mafia machines could be as high as 90% or 99%. And they kept cleaning up the gamblers, big or small. They happily scooped up everything quietly. The operators also happily collected their fees and shared their big dividends among themselves.

The casinos were still illegal, of course. No responsible govt was going to let such casinos to operate freely to rip off the innocent and ignorant gamblers. But the mafias had big plans. It all started in America. They wanted to operate casinos legally and started to buy up the law makers. The law makers might be greedy, the govt could made do with more revenue. But there must be laws, responsibilities, to manage the mafias and prevent them from sending every gambler to the cleaners.

Other than a hefty gambling tax, the responsible govt imposed many conditions and rules for the casinos to operate legally and within limits. The odds must be controlled, no more 90% or 99% wins. The gamblers must have a fair chance of making some wins as well. Basically the mafias were not allowed to cheat the small gamblers in an unfair game. They might be allowed to bring in their sophisticated machines, but the responsible govt would want to know how the machines work and how to monitor them to prevent excesses and rampant cheating.

The govt was also smart enough to set up a regulatory body to monitor, supervise and regulate the casinos and the mafias and their machines. Of course the casino operators would want to regulate themselves. But no stupid govt would allow that to happen. They could not let the operators regulate themselves and work hand in glove with the mafias and their machines to cheat the gamblers. To allow the casino operators to regulate themselves was like asking the fox to guard the hen house. To close an eye and not wanting to know how the machines work and how much advantage they had to manipulate their winnings was criminal. It was a dereliction of responsibility to the innocent and ignorant gamblers who were citizens to be protected by the govt.

The responsible govt won. They allowed the casinos to operate under strict regulations, controlled and supervision. The odds in their machines were controlled and dictated by the govt. And everything was in order, with checks and balance and a fair and equitable system for both the casino operators, the mafias and the gamblers. Only such a system is sustainable.

Only an irresponsible govt would allow casinos to operate freely and in cahoot with the mafias, and to allow the mafias a free hand to do whatever they want, even rigging their high speed computerized machines to cheat the gamblers. No where in the world would this be allowed to happen. No where. Unless the govt is also in cahoot with the casino operators and the mafias.

Seng Han Thong’s affair continues

This episode does not seem to want to fade away. And the developments make the issue more confusing with some red faces in some quarters. Luckily SMRT was safe as there were records to prove what the PR executive said.

Seng Han Thong had apologized and nobody is demanding an explanation, which means apologies accepted but no need to explain further. This should have been the closure. Then Shanmugam came out to explain why Seng Han Thong is not a racist. This was followed by Hri Kumar saying more or less the same and that some blog sites have misquoted him or did not report the case fairly.

What then is the position of Halimah Yacob who was obviously not happy with the statement in the beginning? So, after all the explanations, hopefully she is now happy that it was all a wild goose chase and there was nothing to it. And there is a happy closure. All is a big misunderstanding due to poor command of English and misquoting.

Let’s move on.

Ah Long rules the land

Reading from the media and the unceasing pressure put on residents by Ah Longs and his guerilla painters and fire starters, it is obvious that Ah Longs have won the war. They are getting more outrageous and destructive in their attacks on innocent flat dwellers. Their coercive methods include taunting and terrorizing the whole neighbourhood and residents are living in fear.

Shall I congratulate the Ah Longs for their nasty and lawless acts? Why are the Ah Longs so indefeatable, so creative and deceptive in their harassment of residents? They seem to be more superior in their tactics and no one is able to terminate them.

One possible option is for residents to pay for hire guns to go after them and take them down like the wild wild west when the law was incapable of dealing with the hoodlums. It would provide jobs for the jobless as bounty hunters.

Is it really so difficult to remove these terrorists?

12/27/2011

An act of war

Many people still believe that the sinking of the Choenan was committed by the North Koreans, except the South Koreans. I am not preview to the full facts, and so are many people. But from afar, one can still make some logical assessments based on the facts available and the actions of the parties concerned. It may not be right but at least it must be logical and not just some blind belief based on the most corrupted source of information, the media that have a private agenda for printing the story. Then there are media that were told to print, some paid to print and some simply print, believing that it was innocent facts.

The South Koreans are begging for war with the North Koreans, conducting regular and provocative war games with North Korea’s arch enemy the US. The US are most eager to precipitate a war in the Korean Peninsula with everything to gain, gaining a bigger foothold at China’s doorstep with permission to station more troops and bases, more control over the South Koreans who would be fully be dependent and beholden to them, the opportunity to sell more weapons to South Korea and Japan, and other countries and making more money and influence. And the opportunity to start a war outside of the US with the Asians killing themselves, and next to China, would be a great bonus.

The South Koreans have a reason to want to go to war. The US have all the reasons to want a war with the North. All they need is a good reason for them to attack the North. The Choenan was the best reason ever presented to them. It was an act of war. No buts, a serious enough incident, the sinking of a naval ship with many seamen dead.

Then one may ask, what was holding back the two protagonists who are bent on a war with the North and given this great opportunity, refrained from doing so? I am not going to discuss why the North Koreans were so stupid, knowing that this was what the South and the Americans were waiting for. The only reason was that they were mad. And many believe this too.

Why would the South Koreans hold back? And why weren’t they be pushed by the US who were so trigger happy to do so? I bet the US was pushing them real hard to start that war. The South Koreans chickened out at the face of war? Obviously not. The last thing they wanted to do was to plunge into a war for the wrong and stupid reason, a false flag incident.

Some may think the two Koreans are mad, but they are definitely not stupid. They might be led by the nose by the Americans, but they would not be fixed by some party or parties to go to war. They would have thoroughly examined the wreckage for the conclusive evidence that it was a hostile act by the North. And if it was, they have no reason not to go to war. It was South Korean lives killed, property destroyed and national pride at stake, the credibility of the govt.

Why didn’t they go to war if they have the proof? Why were they able to ward off the pressure from the Americans who wanted them to attack the North? The North Koreans committed the first act of war! The world opinion and the UN would be on their side. The South Koreans would die to defend their country when attacked and their own people killed.

What is happening? No guts to go to war? Or they did found some conclusive evidence, ….that it was not the North Koreans who sank their ship and killed their sailors?

You may have your own reasons to still want to believe the North sank the Choenan. Good for you.

PS. Please excuse me for belabouring this issue. Forget about the Koreans. The moral of my posting is to remind people not to take the information from the media, particularly politically sensitive information for granted. Think a little and try to see through the issue. You may see something, you may not. If thinks are too hazy, don't jump to conclusion and allowed the scheming parties to fix your thinking. The joke is on you.

US dollar going to the sewage

Saddam had to go when he schemed to replace the US dollar for trading oil. This was a dangerous move that would jeopardize the already weak dollar. When countries have no need to use the dollar to buy/sell oil, the demand for US dollar is going to go down the sewage.

This was the logical reason put forth by many economists that explained why the hoax of WMD was shafted down the dead brains of the heads of Allied governments who then parroted the whole hoax to their people as truth, and joined the gang of the ‘Willing Coalition to kill Saddam and Iraqis’.

The Chinese and the Japanese have just signed an agreement to facilitate trade between the world’s number 2 and number 3 economies using Yuan and Yen, by passing the need to buy US dollars. The implications of this development on the US dollar are severe.

China is also working with the Asean states to promote the use of Yuan. And why not when the US dollar is slipping into the drain? Commercial transactions using US dollars are so treacherous that seemingly profitable deals may end up a big loss with the currency depreciating daily. It is a matter of time before the US dollars be dumped and turned into banana currency.

And hither will the TPP go when the Yuan starts to replace the US dollar as a reliable currency for trade? There is no need for war for the US economy to collapse. When the dollar becomes a useless piece of paper that no one wants, that will be the end of the Empire. It may come much sooner than expected.

Ominous signs

The MRT trains have been running fairly smoothly for more than 20 years. Recently so many incidents and faults occurred in a span of a few weeks. And despite doing a complete check, faults are popping up frequently like the popping of champagne bottles. The regular disruption is now becoming the new normal and commuters better live with it, just like ponding in Orchard Road.

Should the whole train system be removed as it seems that it has reached the end of its usable life? Or it is just an ominous sign of bigger things to come, when seemingly things in good order just keep breaking down?

The shame of 2011

The death of Kim Jong Il has brought out some of the ugliest traits in some human beans across the world. In Taiwan, a news reader had the rude audacity to imitate the sorrows and grief in the way the North Korean news reader broadcast his death. And the Taiwanese thought it was fun. And some thought it was justifiable to win viewerships by such a poor taste act of disgraceful conduct.

The biggest disgraceful act happened at the UN when a 1 minute silence was proposed for the death of Kim, a national leader. The shameful boycott of this 1 minute observance was led by the US and its shameful allies, the European countries, Japan and South Korea. It was only a gesture of respect and condolence to Kim Jong Il, the leader of a nation. They really stooped really low in human decency to do such a darn thing.

Kim Jong Il was not Hitler nor was he a George Bush or Tony Blair whose hands were dripping with the bloods of Iraqis. How would the US and the European nations, supposedly civilised nations, behave in such a creepy and disgraceful way?

It was definitely uncalled for, and a very mean thing to do so.

The Art of Tolerance or Intolerance

Living in a multi racial and multi religious society is getting more complicated and even demanding of everyone to be extra sensitive to the needs and taboos of everyone. The special needs could now extend to people with medical or psychological conditions as well.

I will just confine to one specific factor of food and inviting people to a pig out or makan event, or a party, religious, cultural or just a simple wedding. The latter is of extra sensitive other than just an issue of food. Anyone who has been put through such an ordeal will know how difficult and sensitive is the invitation list as it could offend people for inviting and not inviting them, and serving them the right food. The vegetarians always felt shortchanged when others feasted on sumptious dishes and theirs were simply vegetables or glutens.

Putting that aside, let’s talk about an invitation to a Christmas Party. Not everyone is agreeable with the religion in the first place. That is another issue. Not everyone is agreeable with the food and the alcohol on offer. We have people who can’t take meat, some can’t take ham, some cannot consume alcohol, some can’t have sugar, some cannot take legume related products or nuts, some can only take vegetables and vegetables of certain types.

How is the host going to take care of all the prohibitions and cannot issue? To make sure that everyone is going to have what they want and nothing else is a tall order. The problem is with the host or organiser. If they want to invite people with special needs and sensitivity towards food, isn’t it their responsibility to make sure that the guest’s needs are met and be happy? To complicate problems, the numbers of guests with special needs may be so small, one may be diabetic, two may be vegetarians, and vegetarians also got different types, vegans and non vegans, one may not be able to take pork, a few may need food to be halal. And some cannot have fried food. So how?

One way is to go for the lowest common denominator whereby everyone can eat the same food and no one will be cheated. I can only think of a perfect menu, plain rice, porridge, bread, can have a few types, Swiss, English, French etc, and a spread of vegetables, and plenty of non alcoholic drinks, without sugar of course.

But if the host is rich and money is no issue, he could still have his cake and eat it, ask each guest to pick his own menu and engage an army of chefs to prepare anything under the sky.

Another option is to defer to the host, host priority. The guests will let the host decides what he wants to serve and eat whatever they can find suitable to them. I did that most of the time. I am vegetarians on 3 full days a week. And it is difficult to demand on my friends and host to prepare vegetarian food on the days that I am vegetarian. I don’t expect my friends or hosts to know that. So I make do with what is available. I pick on vegetarian dishes and may just stick to one dish and avoid the rest. Or if that is not possible, I will just take the vegetable and beans in a plate of meat food. But only I can do that, to accommodate the host and avoid making things difficult for them. I am my own boss and god when food is concerned. I decide. I choose to be vegetarian and no need to blame others.

Many people cannot decide as there is god and religion involved, there is also the doctor and his prescription for those with health issues. These make things that much more inflexible as to what can be eaten or not eaten is no longer a personal decision. The only thing left is plain water.

The issue I presented is tolerance of the host or tolerance of the guests. In the former, the guests make do with what is on the table, without putting any demands or pressure on the host. The latter, the host would have to bend backwards to meet the sensitivities of the guests.

I am not going to suggest that we go the Banquet way, where restaurants should all go halal. For the next step is, why just halal and not go for the lowest set of common denominator, vegetarian? When that be the case, then those deprived of their food preference would become the sensitive ones, making unyielding demands that their cravings for food must be satisfied.

It is tough to say who is being sensitive or insensitive to the needs of others when the issue is getting more complex, demanding and irritating when words like discrimination is hung on the front chests.

12/26/2011

The use and meaning of quotes

Very often we like to quote what other people said in our posts. And we quote for various reasons. One major use of quotes is that the person is an authority and what he said is important or makes sense. The famous quote of Lord Acton is being used daily in cyberspace, ‘Power corrupts, absolute power corrupts absolutely.’

When people make this quote, they are agreeing completely with the author. Absolute power corrupts, a fact. But people may make this quote and then explains why they agree or even disagree. And they will explain why they disagree, sometimes by writing a whole book on it.

Some may misquote or quote it partially by saying power corrupts, and power corrupts absolutely, which has a slightly different meaning. It needs not be absolute power to corrupt absolutely. But the person who quoted is happy that as long as it is power, needs not be absolute, it can still corrupt absolutely. Other wise there is no point in making the reference. He believes that power alone can corrupt absolutely.

This is different from Acton’s original intent or idea. Acton only pronounced that in order for power to corrupt absolutely, it must be absolute power. His criteria is more demanding, not anyhow power, little power, small power, as long as it is power, it corrupts absolutely.

When someone quotes, it is quite easy to understand his intent or thinking, his values, what he subscribes to, what he agrees or disagrees, or what he believes in what he quoted.

‘A picture is worth a thousand words.’ Anyone making this quote must agree with the saying or enjoys the brevity of making a profound expression with so few words. This is an artistic reason for making a quote.

Shafie being labelled a trouble maker

I was reading this article by a Shafie in TransitioningOrg. He related an incident when the company was organising a Christmas lunch party and how he was labelled a trouble maker.

I quote, ‘Soon, she came over to my desk and she informed me that she had booked a restaurant that served non-halal food. And she asked, would it be okay, for me, if she requested the restaurant to serve vegetarian, or order halal food from somewhere else and bring it to the restaurant?

I voiced out that, first of all, I’ve never heard of any restaurant that allows outside food. Secondly, a budget has been set aside for the party, and while the rest of the staff gets to enjoy a sumptuous meal……the rest of the minorities was expected to eat vegetables? – Sorry, to my vegetarian friends. Thirdly, why was the staff never consulted and a consensus taken to which restaurants we would like to have our party?

And before I could offer other alternatives, she exclaimed, ‘Why are you so strict?!’’


Actually the problem can be solved quite easily. No need to ask staff of all other religions which restaurant they would want the Christmas party to be held. Any restaurant will do. The main issue is food. Please let me explain.

For the vegetarian, ask the chef to prepare vegetarian turkey, vegetarian ham etc etc. There are all kinds of mocked vegetarian meat dishes available or can be created. Okay Christmas party must have turkey and ham. Log cake should not pose any problem.

As for the Muslims, instead of ham, provide them with lamb, and turkey can still be turkey if halal turkey is available. If that is not possible, get an oversize halal chicken instead from Kentucky. When I was in Saudi Arabia, they served no alcoholic beer and wine if I remembered correctly.

I think the Muslims will understand and such a compromise arrangement may be acceptable. I am saying maybe, just my opinion. I am not a Muslim and I may be wrong and insensitive to say this. Please disagree with me if you have to.

Point to note is that we are a multi racial and multi religious society and we must pay special attention to the sensitivities of every group. What is normal and taken for granted by one group can be something very sensitive and serious to another. This problem will be exaggerated when the population gets bigger and more people from other nationalities migrated here and become our colleagues and neighbours. Things can only get more complex and more sensitive as we go forward.

12/25/2011

Bloops can be good too

It is official, Seng Han Thong is not a racist. Shanmugam has spoken and no man in blue will be going after him. It was just a bloop and not necessary to put words into his mouth. The SMRT official is definitely more astute politically. It is not fair to put a label on Seng Han Thong for misquoting him. I support this trend of not putting labels on people or jumping quickly to put a label on anyone. We will become a more tolerant society if we refrain from doing so.

The biggest and most notorious of such bloops was the darkness in Little India by an MP. I must be careful and quote the source or else people may label me as racist too. I did not say that, but quoting an ex MP. Then there was another bloop, or more serious than that, by a member of Young PAP in his blog about trainee terrorists.

And this is Christmas. All will be forgiven in good spirit. But I do wish for Christmas that more bloops will come out and be forgiven. They will set the precedents, the benchmarks to forgive people who blooped and be spared from being labelled as racists.

The Christmas Spirit is thriving.

Merry Christmas to everyone

We are having a wet wet Christmas this year.

Let it flood, let it flood

Problems, problems everywhere. Orchard Road is turning into a river and the Environment Minister is hard cracking his head on how to solve this problem. Someone said it would be so costly to construct a drainage system that it is better to live with it. I can’t believe the numbers, if a safety and timing system for the MRT to run from 5 min to 3 min intervals would cost billions of dollars. Now this money can be saved as there is no need to run the train faster any more when commuters got used to slower train speed.

Our great economic growth formula is only half way there and the constraints are already causing bottle necks and everything to break down. How would the world class infrastructure cope if our population goes to 6m, 8m or 10m? We have congestions and squeezes everywhere. Congestions on the roads and people are forced to take public transport and taxis and the latter had no choice but to raise fares because of higher operating costs. Buses that have to navigate the estates and congested roads are not going to be of much help.

Now a brilliant solution to the road congestion problem is proposed. River taxis plying from Clark Quay to Marina Barrage will be a viable alternative to relieve road congestions, and commuters will be pleased. I know some will be. I have still got to find the reason for going to Marina Barrage. For those staying in Woodlands and other outlying towns, they still need to find their ways to Clark Quay before taking the faster river buses to Marina Barrage, for what I dunno. Beats me.

But if one views the problem from a bigger perspective, it may really be workable. No need to waste billions of dollars to re design and construct a drainage system. Let if flood, the natural way. With global warming, many parts of the island will be underwater anyway. There were suggestions of building a dyke all round the island to keep the sea away. The costs must be enormous. See, let it flood and build a new infrastructure with Orchard Road and many other roads as canals and rivers. Instead of wasting money and effort to fight nature, live with nature, climate change and global warming. The romantising of Venice of the East could come true.

And we need not worry about road congestion and high COEs. No fear of MRT breakdowns and being trapped with poor ventilation. Everyone can own a sampan or a speed boat to go about. Travelling on water could be the next transport option across the island, no need to be forced to escape the congestion and take river taxis to Marina Barrage.

And all landed properties just be rebuilt into high rise towers as that will come naturally when the island goes under water in times to come. Letting it flood and living with the flood is so much easier and efficient and cheaper.

12/24/2011

A larger and brighter version of the first photo

In this picture you could see the bigger crowd listining to the band. Click on the picture to enlarge and get a better view of the details.

Hints of hardship if look hard enough

There is a special report on Life In North Korea in the ST today. Several articles were written by a batch of journalism students from the Wee Kim Wee School of Communication and information at NTU. They happened to be invited to North Korea a few weeks before the death of Kim Jong Il. There are generous pictures which they took of this hermit and closed country. Their reports gave a first hand version of what is on the ground, even if staged and the best front the North Koreans could put forward. It is still revealing if one cares to look closer for the truth of how the North Koreans live their life, though only a little peep in a keyhole.

‘Hints of hardship if you look hard enough’ is the title of a Foo Jie Ying’s article. In Singapore, the richest country in the region and one of the richest in the world, you don’t have to look hard enough to find hardship unless one lives in a life of plenty and never walk the streets. I know, some Singaporeans were shockingly surprised to see hardship here when all one needs to do is to walk the streets.

Another of the students, Jennifer Dhanaraj, wrote about visiting this notorious country while the rest were all ready to scrutinise all the evidence of hardship, poverty, regimentation and an oppressive regime. Their expectations were fully met especially on the amount of propaganda that the North Koreans were brought up with.

‘The indoctrination starts in schools. Kindergarten children learn about Mr Kim Il Sung’s humble beginnings.’ Is this new? I am not sure if there were any indoctrination in Singapore, but these students have already formed their impression of this notorious nation even before stepping foot in the country and knew about the famines where reportedly 2m people died and 6m people are in need of food aid.

I am just wondering how much land and people would be needed to bury 2m people over a short period of time. If it is spreaded over a few decades like the tens of millions of Red Indians killed during the genocide in early America, it is easy to bury them and removed all traces of the killings and conveniently forgotten by not talking about them. Everyone seems to remember vividly the 2m famine deaths in North Korea and no one could recall the tens of millions Red Indians killed. Maybe they never call it genocide or something sinister to be remembered.

I am also wondering what were our kindergarten children being taught in Singapore, about its leaders humble beginning and their great achievements. Here we don’t call it indoctrination, just history, so that makes it different.

North Korea is a poor country. There is no need to look hard or look further. But life is far from a poverty stricken country like those in the third world or the developing world. They lived comfortably but without the modern gadgets that are part and parcel of the consumer societies of the developed world. They do not need to dress up everything, advertising and competition to sell and sell and for people to buy and buy.

Their lifestyle is far from what we would expect. As the students pointed out in style, we kept ourselves very busy with our mobile phones, tweeting, emails and got not much time left for socialising. The North Koreans need not spend time playing computer games and sending emails or sms, but lead their lives quite differently.

They did not have Orchard Road and Ion Shopping Malls or our two family entertainment resorts to keep them awake 24 hours. They are supposed to go to bed at 10pm.

Their economy is not even 10% the size of South Korea. But their soldiers were issued with Adidas shoes while ours with Brooks. They need not pay for medical or even child birth while we have to pay by the thousands for the delivery of a child and hundreds of thousands if warded in the hospitals. Sure our hospitals are world class. Definitely their doctors need not be paid in the hundreds of thousands or in millions. They don’t need so much money as their landed properties probably cost a fraction of our COEs while we have to pay hundreds of thousands or millions for a little free airspace for 99 years without owning it. They have free education to university level.

When so many things are free, when the needs for everyday living is simple, no need to pay $350k for overseas telephone bills, when their elite are paid a pittance, how can their GDP be comparable to those consumer societies when everything is priced to the sky to be of value? I bet their Adidas are made in China and cost a few dollars while the same Adidas here would cost a hundred bucks or more here.

Is it logical to compare GDP when the costing is different? They have several million soldiers to feed but each will cost a fraction of what we paid to our soldiers or a pittance of what the Americans paid for their soldiers. For every dollar they got more, many times more of goods and services.

They are poor, but they are not desperate or begging in the streets for food, all looking hungry, lean and in drapes. They dressed well and are well fed. And their streets are absolutely cleaner than ours, cleaner than the cleanest streets in Southeast Asia. Maybe they have nothing to throw away.

The students were constantly being watched during their visits and photography was hardly permissible. They were told to delete things they were not supposed to take. I remembered taking some photos at the underground station in Seoul several years back, innocently of course, just like tourists did everywhere. Immediately I was swarmed by several security personnel that appeared from nowhere and I was whisked to a corner for questioning. Only after showing my passport and giving them a few sheepish and polite smiles before they released me.

I am not sure you can shoot photographs freely in our underground without being stopped. I know that you cannot shoot at any embassies along Tanglin before someone come knocking at your door. A friend of mine had that notorious experience before in our free country.

Looking at North Korea, understanding North Korea, one needs to look at it objectively, like an empty cup, as they are not the same as us, their values and political beliefs, economic and social systems etc are different. Going in with a mind indoctrinated and filled with Western biased ideas of a country and trying to look for things to prove them to be true defeats the impartiality and objectivity of the journalist profession.

Despite all the negative things that I have written, about Singapore and about the US, never did I say that they are all bad. There are many good things here and in the US. An objective mind needs to praise the good and criticise the bad, look at both without ignoring any. If one wants to have a balanced view of things, one needs to look at them as they are, without prejudice, with no agenda.

North Korea is a country, a nation of people living their own lives many thousand miles away. We live our own lives and many North Koreans do not know of our existence nor threaten us in anyway. They mind their own business, they don’t bother us nor condemn us, nor did they ridicule us.

There is no need to ridicule them, condemn them or prejudge them based on the agenda of people who want to make enemies of them.

$350,000 overseas phone bill

This is how much was chalked up by Kave Goh during his 17 days in Taiwan. Singtel said he only needed to pay $12,000. The discount would have made the Royal House of Brunei feel very good. It was a generous discount. It would look even better if the bill is $1m and they only charge him $50k. It would be seen as a very generous gesture.

The HDB should do the same. After all the market prices of HDB flats are already so high, just announce a 30% price cut and come 2016, the people would be so appreciative that PAP would win all 87 seats in Parliament. See the professional trick at play?

Another example, a CEO shall raise his pay to $10m and then announce that he will take a 50% pay cut, a whopping $5m pay cut. No one will notice that he had raised his pay from $2m to $10m and a $5m pay cut is still a $3m pay hike.

Now I digress. A sensible amount to pay for this Kave Goh or any customer should be the price of an unlimited package. Maybe make the customer pay an administrative charge for converting his existing plans to an unlimited one. This must be standard procedure for all telcos. If telcos can charge $15 a day for unlimited usage, it means that it will still make a decent profit on that package. Don’t forget that emails using internet are getting their unlimited transmission of information for free.

Now how much is an unlimited usage package for roaming in Taiwan? How much is that compared to the $12,000 that Kave Goh has to pay. What is fair, decent and reasonable without exploitation, taking advantage of the customers and profitable?
Such instances of hefty bills for a limited package had occurred frequently and even young students had been hit when the intent was only to use the service sparingly. And they might think that doubling or tripling the usage at most will double or triple the charge.

CASE must step in to put a stop to this menace and give the customers a fair and equitable deal. Oh yeah, the terms of conditions are legal and the customers signed on the dotted line. Any one who applies the terms and conditions literally in such cases to rob the customers is simply ruthless and inhuman. My mind brings me to Ah Long and their formula for calculating interest.

Christmas lights at Orchard Road

Live band performing outside Wheelock Place opposite Lido Theatre.

Ion Shopping Mall looking from Lido Theatre.

Colourful floats in front of Liat Tower.

12/23/2011

The bottomless monetary contribution of Singaporeans

Singaporeans are continuously supporting the country with their monetary contributions but no one seems to appreciate this great sacrifice. The amount that each Singaporean is supporting the country is $148k cash, money on the table. This is the sacrifice that Singaporeans are making, many have more or less given up on this sum of money while they suffered in silence, forfeiting the holiday, no nice food on the table, scrimping to get by. How’s that for some real contribution by Singaporeans other than NS? Or have people taken this for granted, that Singaporeans could not do anything and anyone in power can simply legislate them away?

Please do not be ungrateful for the money Singaporeans have to set aside, like nationalization, to enable the country to have such a big sum of money to play with. $148k times 2m CPF contributors, that is a cool $296 billion when fully paid up. How much is our national reserves?

The amount is derived from the two minimum sums, $112k and $32k in Ordinary Account and Medisave account. Singaporeans deserve to be treated better, and get more in return for this monetary sacrifice. How much do the foreigners, PRs and non citizens contribute to the country money wise? And what are Singaporeans getting in return for these long term loans?

And $148k is to many Singaporeans, all the savings they have and given to the state to decide what to do with them, any time, any place, at your own time, use it at the state’s convenience. Please remember and be grateful to the daft Singaporeans and their money that is used to prop up this country and ….

The lynching of Pte Daniel Chen

Pte Daniel Chen, a 19 year old Chinese American, joined the US Army to defend his country. He was sent to Afghanistan and was lynched, oops, they have sophisticated weapons today, they shot him in the head. No, no, not the Afghans. He was shot by his own comrades in arms, the Americans. His sin was that he was an Asian, a Chinese.

Poor Danny thought racism is passé in modern America. He lived and died just to find out that racism is deep in the blood of the Americans. They put on a façade of modernity, denounced others for abused of human rights regardless of colour or race, but they remained the same as their forefathers, racist of the first order.

Danny was abused, insulted with racist slurs, and beaten up, stoned by his white fellow soldiers, and shot by them in the head. The reports did not say that he was killed. It even implied that he shot himself, committed suicide. But eight soldiers including his platoon commander, have been charged for manslaughter and homicide.

And the Army spokesman proudly pronounced that those who killed their buddy soldiers would be charged and dealt with by the law. Sure, they would be found guilty and sentenced to two months jail before they become free men again. And with parole and whatever mitigating factors, they may not even spend a day behind bars. Because the victim was Asian, and worst, Chinese.

The myth that the Americans have become a new and better beast is still a myth. The racist beast is still hidden beneath the white skin and waiting to surface at the earliest opportunity. If they could do that to their own comrades in arms, dragging him along the floors and shooting him dead, what do you think they would do the Arabs and Afghans in Guantanamo and Abu Ghraib.

Yes, they never leave their soldiers behind. They will bring back Danny Chen to his parents in a black plastic bag, after killing him. I am jumping the gun to pronounce them guilty. They could get off, acquitted for any flimsy reasons, maybe a full stop missing in the charges. There are too many of them to pay for the death of a Chinese American. Don’t worry, they will now find all ways to help the lynch mob, to free them. Every loophole in the law will be exploited.

Mark my words. The whole wayang will go through its motion and none will be punished, at worst a slap on the risk. The case will be different if it was a white boy shot by black American soldiers.

Child labour is cruelty….

Child labour is cruelty, another kind of child abused. We frown and condemn child labour for obvious reasons. The child should be in school. The child is too young, needs protection and loving tender care. They should not be made to toil at such a young age. How sad, how pitiful to have to work when they should be enjoying their childhood. Punish the employers.

Exceptions may be granted to poverty stricken countries when they don’t even have enough to eat, no schools for them to go to, and nothing to amuse themselves. A little bean counting activity that does not text or pressure them may be a form of education for them, and helping out with the family’s financial needs. I say this is an exception, an undesirable condition, and better not to have. No sweat shops.

The young and feeble that need love and tender care should be looked after and should not be working. Making them work is cruelty and unacceptable.
What about another kind of weak and feeble? I mean the oldies in their 60s and 70s or older, who should be resting at home, to be looked after?

Should they be made to work to earn a living? No, it is a way of passing time, a way to be financially independent, a way to gain some self respect and dignity. Let them work if they can. They are all very happy working.
What are these thoughts about cruelty and abuses to the old that have to work? It is for their own good and welfare. Some will even enjoy working. They should work till they die or else they will be sitting in the void deck wasting their time watching the world goes by. Who says the old and feeble cannot work?

Do I make sense? Maybe one day I may end up cleaning tables at a food court. And when the politicians come along with his entourage, he will explain to them how independent I am, dignified and proud to earn a decent living. I hope he does not venture to ask me if I am happy to be working at 70, cleaning tables.

Then if Matilah were to see me, he would tell his friends, look at that asshole, he has messed up his life that’s why he has to clean tables at 70. Well that’s the truth. I must be an asshole to be cleaning tables at 70. No need to put on the fake reasonings that it is for financial independence and dignity. There is no dignity when one still has to struggle to be alive at 70. Dignity only comes with a million dollar pension and a few chairmanships and doing sweet nothing.

12/22/2011

Seng Han Thong in the lime light again

He was invited to the Blog TV programme to discuss the current SMRT fiasco. He quoted a post by a PR about SMRT staff that were Malays and Indians and could not speak good English and probably resulted in the problems last week. His insensitivity to quote the message verbatim was not taken kindly by the bloggers. Even Halimah Yaacob was offended and has to air her unhappiness.

Seng Han Thong has since apologized for his insensitivity which is really uncalled for as he is a politician and cannot forget how such remarks could be taken differently. It is going to do him no good.

Well, it happened. Just too bad.

To be happy or to be more frighten?

Read a summary of the Blog TV programme on the recent SMRT breakdown. Did they miss an A in SMRT? What I read is that SMRT is ready to handle a terrorist attack but not a normal breakdown. And the problem is really communication. If they could communicate well, the problem will be solved.

Did they say 21 claws fell off? Could communication prevent the claws falling off? Could good communication prevent the UPS from cutting off and allow ventilation to go on without suffocating the passengers?

Scary isn’t it?

A super intellectual and expert on North Korea

The death of Kim Jong Il has spawned an army of pseudo intellectuals and experts about North Korea. And one cannot miss what they have to say about Kim Jong Il and the country. Let me just quote some of the enlightening news and views they would say.

Kim Jong Il was a mad dictator. He was egoistic, and wore a hair style and platform shoes to make him look taller. He was a womanizer, a lover of sports cars and cognac. He spent millions buying cognac. He was reckless and always provoked the South Koreans. He had several wives.

I have yet to see him in his playboy look, in his sports cars and surrounded by all the beautiful women, luxury watches, branded clothes, and half drunk because of his consumption of millions of dollars of cognac. Anything else is new?

As for North Korea, it is a poverty stricken country, 2 million people died of famine, under fed children looking like the leftovers in poor third world countries, skin and bones with eyes bulging. And they spent all their monies in defence and nothing left to eat.

The wailing and remorse for Kim’s death is all staged, all managed and propaganda. If they don’t do it, don’t pretend to be crying, (they are all watching over their shoulders to see who is watching), they would be arrested, perhaps sent to Siberia or tortured in Guantanamo. The North Koreans are not only stupid, robotic, unthinking but as crazy as their Dear Leader.

Now Dear Leader is dead, his young son is incapable to running the country. And he is so naïve, braggart, arrogant, and trying to prove himself. And he is planning to launch an attack at South Korea. Maybe he will fly his ICBMs to the USA and Singapore. So frightening dealing with these poor and mad people. It is a country of insanes but all very happy after being tortured and oppressed by their Dear Leader.

See how well read I am on North Korea. I know everything about North Korea from the experts by reading all the articles in reputable newspapers written by experts who have not even step foot in South Korea, not talking about North Korea. I think I am more expert and intellectual than all these pseudo intellectuals and experts because I know everything they know and more.

Anyone who wants to know about North Korea and Kim need not go further or waste time reading the reputable media. Everything that is needed to know is summarized here. Just parrot what I say and you can act like an expert, an unthinking intellectual.

The same things will be spoken by the future experts of North Korea and Kim Jung Un in the next 30 years. I know. I am the super intellectual and expert of North Korea.

Emeritus Professor Redbean

Ministerial Salary Review still awaiting

Last month Hsien Loong mentioned that the Review will be ready in early December. We are nearing Christmas and nothing is seen nor heard. The ST has a report today on the Review Committee and apparently it has yet to submit the Report to Hsien Loong.

What caught my attention is AP Eugene Tan’s comments on what should NOT be done, that is, the cut should not be too deep. He gave two reasons. A too big cut will ‘disincentivise private sector talent to enter politics’. I think this is a very wrong reason for not doing the right cut.

Political office is about serving the people and country. Politics is not about self and self serving. This is exactly the problem with our political scene, where instead of bringing people who think country and people, they are incentivizing people who think self and profit. We are seeing the results and there are coming in straight and fast. The public housing was a happy problem that turned ugly. The efficient transport system that ran for 30 years is now running into trouble. From good to bad.

The next reason is that a too deep a cut will be ‘admitting that ministers have been grossly overpaid for 15 years’. What kind of excuse is this? Two wrongs do not make a right. If it was wrong, admit it, do the necessary and move on. Pretending that it was not wrong is not going to solve anything. The cancer will just grow.

I really hope that this is not the thinking and premises adopted by the Review Committee. If they are, the recommendations can be best forgotten.

Cheryl Fox - Get Real and hard

I happened to watch this programme hosted by Cheryl Fox on 20 Dec. It was about the housing scheme for the old and lonely. We have this scheme where the oldies are allowed to rent HDB flats at a concession rate of something like $26 pm where two oldies could share a one room flat. They could find their own flat mates or the HDB could fix them up if they could not find one.

$26 monthly rental each is a steal. How to find such low rental when every flat costs several hundred thousand bucks? Even people on public assistance would be able to afford to pay $26 as they get something like $400 pm from the govt.

The programme Get Real, showed a few of the tenants and how they live their lives sharing the flat with strangers. There was a 65 year old guy living with a granny who is more than 90. And there is this guy in his 60s or 70s living with another guy who is much older and have all kinds of oldies problems, unable to control his urine, difficulties in moving, and this guy took upon himself to look after him, feed him, wash him and clean up the mess he is creating, without getting paid a single cent.

The other guy who is with the granny, he just tolerates. The granny is in a world of her own, with poor personal hygiene and her room smells. What to do, there is nothing that the guy could do. He just lives with it.
The two guys were extreme examples of tolerance and compassion. They understand. They know the other parties needed help but were helpless.

I wonder how many of such folks are living on their own in such conditions? Okay, please don’t be patronizing by saying they are losers and deserve to be where they are. With the high cost of living, many will fall into this category in a matter of time, no money, can’t work, weak and feeble, economically useless, and no one to look after them.

The children, if they have, would have serious problem looking after them as well. Our social economic structure is designed to have both average Sinkie parents working. Where are they going to find the time looking after their old folks? And there are also space constraints in the little flats. Where to put the oldies when they have growing up children? Average sinkies don’t live in big 20,000 sq ft bungalows.

So how, put them in old folks homes? You think it is so cheap, so affordable? Many would cost them both their incomes. So how? How much does it cost to upkeep one such loser that is completely dependent on others to help them to live longer?

I think the pension of a minister could take care of at least 1,000 such folks. It definitely would not bankrupt the country to take on this function for sure. It is a case of value. Who shall take care of them and if the rightful caretaker can’t as they too are in dire straits, who else?
Some say depends on Charity Shows and the public for more donations. Some say the President can help to raise funds. Yes, depends on the public and their money to support these people who are blessed with long lives. Is the money in our national reserves not public money?

Where is the dignity to grow old? Shit, people in such state better don’t ask for dignity. It is between a one room flat, a nursing home or the road side. What do they expect?

12/21/2011

The Paradise Island Template

By Kopi Lim

Paradise Island, Dec 21 (Roosters)
Buying a train ticket in
Paradise Island may not be a cakewalk anymore.

Under the new commuter-protection rules that take effect Jan 1,
commuters in the tightly controlled island must possess
certain educational qualifications related to taking public transportation or have
relevant train boarding experience to buy train tickets directly.

Those who fail to meet the Transport Authority of Paradise
(TAP) requirements must take a series of on-line tutorials on
the Transport Interchange website, and answer the
questions correctly in order to qualify to buy train tickets.
All commuters are given a grace of one year period to pass this test or they will not be allowed to buy train tickets anymore.

What’s this, brilliant or what?

There are many ways to skin a cat. One way to stop investors from investing in dangerous/sophisticated products they don’t understand is to make them sit for a test to make them fit or safe for the product. Another way of course is to make sure that dangerous/sophisticated products are safe before selling. Is making investors sit for the test not akin to passing the buck to the investors? This is better than caveat emptor. Disqualifying dangerous/sophisticated products leaves the responsibility with the regulator to make certain they are safe for consumption.

Which of the two methods is more efficient? One involves a lot of investors and potential investors to sit for the test. Now why would a customer want to buy a complicated/dangerous sports car if he has to sit for a test to ensure that he knows the danger of the car and cannot complain later? And why would potential investors want to sit for a test if they are not even sure of investing in the product? Does it mean that whenever a new product is launched, and if not covered by the test, the buyers must resit for another new test?

Would it be more efficient for the authorities to vet the products like the HSA checking edible products before allowing them into the market? Can’t imagine every individual would have to sit for a test before they are allowed to buy a new food product. Or should commuters be required to sit for a test, to know the nature of the train, before being allowed to board a train?

This kind of logic is Uniquely Singapore. The people must qualify themselves ie know the danger of the product they are buying before being allowed to buy it. The seller does not need to make sure that the products are safe. Can a seller sell snake oil if the buyer has passed a test on what is snake oil?

Below is an extract of an article by Kevin Lim of things to come.

By Kevin Lim
SINGAPORE, Dec 19 (Reuters) - Buying a mutual fund in
Singapore may not be a cakewalk anymore.
Under new investor-protection rules that take effect Jan 1,
investors in the tightly controlled city-state must possess
certain educational qualifications related to finance or have
relevant work or trading experience to buy funds directly.
Those who fail to meet the Monetary Authority of Singapore's
(MAS) requirements must take a series of on-line tutorials on
the Singapore Exchange website, and answer the
questions correctly in order to qualify to buy the funds, in
what could be a first for investors anywhere in the world.
Thousands of Singaporeans lost money investing in supposedly
low-risk Lehman Brothers-linked "Minibonds" in 2008. The new
rules follow a review by the country's monetary authorities.
The regulations have been sharply criticised by some fund
managers who fear a loss of business.
" Asking investors to pass a test to
invest could be a deterrent to investing," said Francois Mouzay,
head of fund development and services in Asia-Pacific for BNP
Paribas Investments Partners….

Great opportunity to save the North Koreans

The death of Kim Jong Il is so worrisome to countries in the West, especially the US and its allies. The immediate neighbours living in fear are Japan and South Korea. Soon the Asean countries will be having nightmares too, that the mad North Koreans will be sending their nuclear tipped ICBMs to attack them. Now I am not sure who are the really mad ones.

Other than Mao Tse Tung, no dictator has suffered such a painful and gruesome death than Kim Jong Il. Oh I forgot to add, his father Kim Il Song too suffered a painful and horrendous death. The other dictators like Marcos, the Shah of Iran, Saddam and Gaddafi, all died in circumstances they deserved.

Why are the two Kims different, that the North Koreans are all mourning for their deaths and would even built mausoleums to honour them? The above paragraph talking about their painful and gruesome is just a wild imagination by people who sincerely believed that they were evil and will be punished by their own people or by God. But God is not going to be cheated or conned by the evil human beans who spread lies and misinformation about the two Kims. The two Kims died peacefully and are well loved by their ‘poverty stricken and oppressed’ citizens. Unbelieveable to those who blindly believe the Western media and think they were mad or evil dictators.

They are not. Sure there will be some dissidents who would love to criticize and attack them and think that the country would be better off like the Western countries. Even paradise will have its dissidents.
I have been scrutinizing all the recent photographs and news clips coming out from that country. Tell you the truth, for a picture tells a thousand words. The North Koreans are well fed and well dressed, even the sales persons in the dept stores. They are not like those skin and bones people of the third world. They are very well dressed with fats on their faces.

Please lah, remove your blinkers and look at the North Koreans objectively as they really are. But someone is seeing great opportunities to save and liberate these poverty people, all dying of hunger. Hilary Clinton is having closed door meetings with their two colonies, Japan and South Korea, to move in to save the North Koreans from poverty. I dunno how many countries will be involved. It is a great mission of peace and compassion. Asean and India would probably want to join this noble invasion of North Korea, before it becomes a province of China.

The sad truth is that North Korea will remain as an independent nation to disappointment these evil do gooders. And another truth is that both Japan and South Korea are the real provinces of the US.

While the North Koreans mourn, while China shares its sorrows, the West is whipping up horror stories about how dangerous the world has become because of the death of Kim Jong Il. The world is in serious danger unless they invade this country to keep peace and harmony and to save the North Koreans from another mad young boy in the name of Kim Jong Un. Really frightening man!.

What is mad? Don’t be so gullible lah.

Cornering the sheep

Four more taxi companies are following ComfortDelgro’s fare hike and this leaves only one company not doing so, Prime Taxis. It has just announced that it will follow suit. And the taxi drivers knew that they are going to suffer a loss in income for doing so and they die die must increase.

See the wonderful logic of Sinkie taxi drivers. They don’t care about their income and don’t care if passengers would refuse to take taxis. They just have to raise their fares. But now, with all raising their fares, what choice have the sheep got. This is perfect free market at play. It is all market forces.

Why huh? Very difficult to understand their thinking. I don’t think anyone is putting a knife at their throats. The fare hike is definitely voluntary and no collusion or else CCS will come after them for anti competition. It is like volunteering for a pay cut.

What a great sacrifice. Taxi drivers are taking pay cuts by hiking their fares. It is like telling the passengers we don’t need more fares. We will raise fares knowing that income will be lower. There must be some goodness out of this act. It cannot be all bad and the taxi drivers all daft to go ahead. What is the goodness of it all?

12/20/2011

An avalanche of mishaps

The recurrence of breakdowns over a few days is bad enough. But they said when it rains, it pours. It was pouring the last few days. And after the breakdowns, ceiling fell down and injured people in Sengkang MRT station. Then SMRT bus passenger fell and went into coma when driver braked abruptly.

What is going to happen next? Taxi drivers unhappy as takings fell by 20 to 30% instead of going up with the fare hike in time for Christmas. If the fare is not going up, instead of bonus and Christmas presents they are going to be angry. When unpleasant things all coming in a row, they tend to aggravate the situation to become unbearable.

This Christmas is going to be very different.

The train breakdown is going to be costly

I have read some of the preliminary reports and comments in the media and I don’t feel a bit good about them. A couple of things have made me very edgy. One is that the inspection technicians are not doing enough. I can see what’s coming next. More staff needed to do more inspections.

The second point is equipment failure and more maintenance. More maintenance and servicing, more frequent change of equipment means more cost. You just cannot have more servicing and maintenance without having more technicians.

See, the current fare hike is definitely not enough. Commuters better prepare for more hikes in fares. And I secretly harbor the thought that if it is a case of mischief, then it may be a once off thing. Apparently it will still end up with more cost. More security equipment and personnel will be needed to conduct security checks, and crews to conduct equipment checks.

And don’t forget the safety equipment like UPS, fire extinguishers, sledgehammers as someone suggested. Or windows will be modified to allow them to be opened in an emergency. And torch lights also.

Whatever the outcome, commuter pockets gonna be burnt a big hole. It is going to be costly to the commuters as the profits must still go up and up.

Fat hope for those who are thinking that there will be fare reduction. Wait till they say they need to send their staff to study how other countries are managing their systems, like going to Japan or Europe, to learn from the best. After 30 years of train operation we don’t have any expert to talk about. What have they been doing all these while? We still need foreign experts who may have worked in a train system for 10 years to come and teach us and tell us what goes wrong and what needs to be done.

What a circus!

Time to bash Kim Jong Il and the North Koreans

He is a dictator, a tyrant, a ruthless leader! He oppressed his people, he showered himself with good wine and good food. He is mad, insane, unpredictable. He always wanted to go to war with his neighbours, a very dangerous man.

Now he is dead, the situation in the Korean Peninsula and the world is getting more dangerous. The crazy North Koreans are going to attack South Korea and the countries of the free world. They are so poor, poverty everywhere, people are very hungry. They need help from the rich countries of the free world. Quick send more food and aid, but be careful, they may eat you alive.

Wow, now I feel damn shiok. I have just joined the free world gang of bangsters, to bang the North Koreans. Wait, wait, I need to let out a little secret. Where is North Korea? Who is this Kim Jong Il? Dunno leh. Then why have I got so many bad things to spew at him and the North Koreans? Dunno leh, I read all these stuff in the media. They all hated him and the North Koreans and wrote all the bad things about them. So must be true lah.

Dunno if the North Koreans know where is Singapore or is there a place called Singapore. But the media said he may attack Singapore. So frightening one. Better to join the bangsters and attack them first. The bangsters are the good guys and they must be telling the truths.
Okay, I feel good oredy. We are the good guys.

But why are the North Koreans crying and wailing over his death? No lah, all propaganda, just wayang. How could they be so stupid to wail for a tyrant, a dictator, a ruthless leader who padded himself with the money of the people and enjoy wine and song? Dictators like this must end up like Saddam and Gaddafi. The North Koreans are faking it. Don’t believe them and their media. This guy is bad, damn bad, and so are the North Koreans, also damn bad. Oh ya, a member of the Axis of Evil. Wow, where did I get such a wonderful phrase to describe this evil country?

Robbery, robbery!

This was what I heard as I stepped into the office. This guy was so agitated and they have to calm him down. I took a close look at him to see if there was any blood on him. Normally robbery victim would be beaten up and there would be blood. But I could not see any blood, no blood. As the colleagues were comforting him he continued, they are going to rob you next month of $4,500. Now this is strange. How did he know that the robber is going to rob people next month and the amount as well. He said he read it in the paper. What? What kind of robber is this. This is damn classy man. Want to rob people and still advertised in the newspaper. This calls for respect.

As he continued everyone realized that he was talking about the raise in minimum sum for Medisave next month, from $27,500 to $32,000. Shit, he gave everyone a fright. This is not robbery lah. It is a kind and proactive govt planning the money of the people, and how to protect it before they are lost in gambling and investing. It is exactly this, with such caring and forward thinking govt that the Sinkies are having such a good life, progress, economic growth and so much money in their CPF. Without such good govt, they will have no money left in the kitty, probably losing everything in gambling or in the stock market.

This guy is too much. He is so negative in his thoughts. He could not see the positive side of things. The minimum sum is to help him to pay for his medical bills when he is old. Sure must pay and pay one. Putting aside more Medisave is just being prudent mah. And the big medical bill will definitely become affordable.

And there is Boon Wan in charge, sure got no problem one. He is one of the few good men left and he would want to do more good deeds for the people and for himself. This Medisave thing is going to save 2m people $9 billion. The amount of good karma created is immeasurable. Having the people save their hard earned blood and sweat money and preventing them from squandering it away. And by 2016, the amount could be $40k, lagi more good karma.

One point I am not clear. Is the CPF Board authorized to make this $9b decision? Does it have the authority to do so? Shouldn’t this be tabled in Parliament for discussion and approve by Parliament? My colleagues all agree that there is no need to go to Parliament. When your money is my money and my money is my money, what is there for Parliament to approve? I think I have to agree with this reasoning.

So we all got together to explain to this unhappy guy that he should be very happy about this Medisave thing. It is not robbery, definitely. And come 2016 he may have $40k in his Medisave. Shiok right? And if he suay suay need a by pass that cost $40k, he can tell the world that he got a by pass for free, all paid by his Medisave. No need even to come out $8.

We can see that our logic is getting through and he started to smile, and probably feeling very good about it. Well we have done a good deed.

12/19/2011

US to station combat ships in Singapore

After scaling down its invaison of Iraq, the US is going to put some of these forces in Singapore. While we don’t have a Saddam Hussein in the region, there is piracy and freedom of passage for all ships to think about. Freedom of passage has never been a problem. As for piracy, is it an American problem that they feel responsible enough to spend so much money, resources and personnel to tackle the problem? Who is inviting the Americans here to deal with the piracy problem? Or are the Americans inviting themselves here because the Asean countries could not solve the problems? Why suddenly piracy in the region becomes a problem and not before?

Many countries are viewing the American presence with suspicion. Why would a neutral Singapore want to host the combat forces of a foreign govt here? Money lah. Can charge them for rental and use of facilities what.

I think it will be nice if Singapore can also host the combat personnel and equipment of countries like China, India, Russia and Japan to combat piracy as well. When the Americans are living across the horizon think it is important to them, piracy must also be important to these countries as well.

I can see more money from rentals and services if all these countries park their combat vessels here. And it is good to have more parties here to balance the ill intent of any one party. Don’t forget who is the biggest pirate. These other countries need to be here to keep the biggest pirate in check before it does mischief in the region.

The rationale for more navies to be here is reasonable, logical and an air of fairness, non alignment, neutrality, and plenty of money to be made. And the Americans cannot object to such a good argument.

SGX well run and going places

This is about what summed up Goh Eng Yeow’s article about SGX today in ST. Everything is so excellently managed, good governance, good system, advanced hardware, actually it is near perfection, including profits, it could be the number One stock exchange in the world.

I just hope he knows what he is talking about. My observation is that in the next 6 to 12 months it may implode. Just wait and watch. I hope I am wrong. I pray Goh Eng Yeow is right.

Morale of Sinkie professionals

The displaced or retrenched PMETs are pretty sore that all their talents are wasted and many have to end up providing super butler taxi services to the maids and foreign workers. It will make their day if the foreign workers or maid screw them up for taking the wrong route to their destinations. It is so pathetic that some of them are graduates, from foreign universities, and spending thousands of their own money or their parents’ money to acquire their qualifications and working so hard for it. No words can described this shitty state of affair when so many so called FTs with suspicious or mediocre qualifications are gainfully employed and being served by these fallen local talents.

There is another pool of top local talents that are often by passed for the top jobs as there are always found lacking when compared to the FTs. Many of the plum jobs have gone to foreign talents who are not much better than them in qualifications except that they were foreigners or have worked in a foreign environment. Some have even lesser working experience than the locals they are going to boss around with.

This discrimination or insult against local top talents is being practised across all sectors. It is quite shameful really, that whenever a top position is available, they immediately look overseas for a candidate. The look inward is more cursory and a wishy washy formality. Just watch, they will be hunting for the next SMRT CEO from overseas again.

Maybe it is the right thing to do. The local talents know that they are not good enough and better that the new CEO is found quickly as some of these local jokers would have to act in that position knowing damn well that there are unfit or would never be good enough for it. So why waste their time acting and warming up the seat for a foreign talent to arrive?

Many would probably find it more useful to plan on how to angkat or curry the favour of the incoming CEOs and be content if treated well and not being screwed everyday. And this has been the norm and every of these top local talents seemed quite comfortable with the game. I am sure there is no morale problem about this group of top local talents who are destined to be just second best.

And some of these problems also faced Singaporean talents overseas because of the glass ceiling, that most respectable countries would want to put their locals in charge no matter how good the foreign talents are. Many countries discriminate positively in favour of their own talent.

Maybe this is the success formula for Singapore, where there is a conscious effort to look outside for talents. And it is not discrimination either but the right growth formula. Our ex coolie genes are degenerating and need to be bastardised with new and superior foreign genes for that extra oomph.

12/18/2011

Making sense out of the information available

So it is all about collector shoe problem. The power failure and damage to the rail tracks were caused by the collector shoes. And the trains have been running for 24 years without major breakdowns or this kind of frequency until these few days.

Logical deduction, simplified, is that the collector shoes have reached their operating lives and need to be replaced as they were working fine for 24 years, only starting to fail.

Another deduction, the shoes have recently been changed. If that be the case, either the new shoes were installed wrongly or the new shoes were faulty.

And better beef up on the standby power system and test them on a fully packed train and see how effective is the ventilation and how long it will last. This is critical as it can be deadly.

Pushing Singaporeans to a corner, in the name of progress

Has this thought ever cross the minds of Singaporeans while they are bathing in the economic success of the island with everyone feeling so rich, with properties exchanging hands with price tags like $20m, $30m and more? The same properties used to cost $1m or $2m twenty years ago. And I heard someone just bought a piece of property not to live in but to park his collection of fanciful sports cars.

The wealth and quality of life of many Singaporeans have improved tremendously over the last few decades. Can the Singaporeans continue to enjoy such phenomenal growth of wealth and lifestyle as we move ahead from here? Sure, many will even get richer and own flats of their own with several generations and extended families living in their own private flats, and their own car parks. This could be the new style of abode for many rich Singaporeans. Owning a landed property is not enough. They are looking at owning multi level private properties with each member living in different level for privacy, and their own covered car parking lots.

Contrast this development with the daily barrage of small is good where the attempt is to prepare Singaporeans psychologically to live in micky mouse size flats. The private flats I mentioned above are not HDB flats but each level a big luxurious apartment. The better off one that we know lives in a multi level private apartment, actually a small condo, with just one family of less than 5 members plenty of car park space for his collection of cars.

The average Singaporeans must live in smaller flats into the future and that is a certainty. Not that they need to sacrifice whatever land space in the island for the rich who want 20,000 sq ft for two and enough space for 20 cars. The growing population that is needed for growth and to sustain the growth needs more space as well.

And space is a big problem. With the limited space, not many more roads can be built except mass rapid transport. Owning a car is not going to be the norm into the future. Taking public transports and taxis are going to be the way of life. And don’t worry, there will be big publicity campaign to convince Singaporeans that the quality of their lifestyle will not be compromised. Travelling in class and style in trains or taxis will be much more fun and convenient that owning private cars. I know, I know, after the fiascos of the last few days, no one is going to agree with me that taking public transport is great romance and paying higher taxi fare is gracious living. And sharing the BO of unwashed workers who would be most happy to rub off their sweaty clothes onto Burberry and Zegna of stylish commuters is something to experience, daily. Sharing the same air in a train cabin with hundreds of people will definitely enchance the DNA quality of the ageing strains in the veins of ex migrant stocks. The new migrant’s DNA is like a breath of fresh air and will do everyone more good than harm.

Singaporeans could enjoy more spacious parks and watch TVs in public areas as well if they find their cubicles too small for such activities. Watching TVs in public areas means being entertained with fresh airs around and opportunity to make new friends. It is good for social integration and building good neighbourliness, and good for nation building as well. It will replace the anti social habit of glueing their eyes onto the Ipod or Ipad.

Singaporeans that live within their means will find this island really a paradise. Those who are able and can afford it, owning 20 or 30 expensive cars will be fun, and private car parks or COEs are great to have. For those who cannot afford such luxuries, there are smaller flats and world class transports and spacious parks for their amusments, and first world living that they have worked so hard for.

Having enjoyed such gracious and spacious living, with the convenience of public transport, Singaporeans would not want to go back to the days of landed properties and driving their own cars. The new lifestyle is progress for sure. But if the country could live within its means, live within its constraints and not wanting all the progress and convenience of a first world standard, if only it knows its limitation of land and not to use all up for more people, maybe, Singaporean standard of living could be back to the past, lower quality of life, having to upkeep and clean bigger flats which is a big chore, and having to drive their own cars without the convenience of MRTs and reliable butler styled taxis.

We have progressed and the quality of life can only get better. Or are Singaporeans pushed into a corner? What is the alternative for poor public transportation when ownership of cars is no longer an option? Is living in mickey mouse flats a no choice option?