Friday, October 24, 2014

Very slow Sing Post

The parcel for me arrived in Singapore last Friday and a week later I haven't seen it yet. According to the system, some postal worker is carrying it about now and I can expect it today.

See how quickly it was packaged and dispatched out of Beijing. It only took them a couple of days.

Very unimpressed with Sing Post performance. No wonder they also do not deliver our magazines timely.

Incubating ISIS professionals

I understand William Pesek the Bloomberg columnist poked fun at the brouhaha created by this touching dogs event. To many including those in Malaysia, the whole issue must have appeared as absurd.

Look at the last few paragraphs of the story. You can feel the hostility and the desire to violently hurt the organizers and its participants. I wonder how many more steps are needed to bring them to become fully ISIS worthy. To me they are being incubated for apocalyptic Islam. ISIS offer them a caliphate in the making. Who the hell do they think they are that can force the Almighty's hand? I wonder how many of these extremist Muslims are aware of the direction that they are headed. To me, the moment you start nursing anger and retribution against others, you are no longer Islam worthy. You have gone over to the dark side.

Almost every day I wanted to write something about the ISIS but I restrain myself. The above is from ST October 20.

Malaysian society is fertile ground for ISIS to incubate and mine for misguided Muslims professionals to further their cause. No doubt some of these potential recruits have been under cover threatening violence toward Syed Azmi and the other organizers.

Today we are witnessing the rise of a hateful version of Islam. They may not be the majority but they have far greater drive and energy. They are growing market share faster than the other Islamic schools. Since many peaceful Muslims regrettably also possess little knowledge (a problem with Christianity too) of their religion, instead of battling ISIS deviant theology, they are potential prey. The difficult and onerous task is left to a small group of Muslim theologians. They are poorly organized and therefore out gunned. Some these theologians are even sitting on the fence and have not make up their minds! They could even tip over to ISIS side.

I am still waiting and may be in vain for the big theological contest against Salafism in general and specifically Wahhabism as presented in ISIS and Al Qaeda. Until the battle of ideas began we will not make progress fighting this evil idea virus. In the west, a growing number of people aren't so patient. They have made up their minds that Islam is an evil religion and not a religion of peace. That is most regrettable. That is the path of violence, tears and death. Do they know what they are wishing for?

A bicycle friendly nation?

Cyclists aren't showing enough enthusiasm for Khaw's plan to make us a bicycle friendly city. On the other hand the opposition is quite vocal.

Top of my head, I thought the idea was impractical because our weather is just too hot and humid.

But I think we should just go ahead and keep pushing until we succeed because on balance the benefits are worth it.

I was thinking may be I could use a light motorized bicycle going out to keep cool and muscle power pedaling home. I can always take a bath when I get back. Good exercise too.  Of course, I worry about losing the bike to theft. Unless more effort is put in to control this, the scheme will fail.

Many cyclists today are only interested in cycling as a sports and Khaw is mulling over this as a mode of transport. I think they don't like to share space with too many slower going cyclists. This could be why they are no so eager. When I go to the PCN, there are now many notices urging cyclists not to speed.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

ABC Brickworks Food Centre

Late dinner at ABC Brickworks Food Centre last night. Many stalls were still open and that's good. We had many choices.

Also bumped into an old friend we had not met for perhaps almost ten years? She still looked the same! Good for her.

I think this place is worth returning to.

Ho Kwon Ping missed the key point

Ho Kwong Ping as the first SR Nathan fellow for the study of Singapore gave his first of four lectures recently. It was a good and interesting lecture.

May be he has to keep his lecture simple but the price to pay will almost certainly be so heavy to the point of useless. How so? He had ignored Singapore's external environment. Goh Chok Tong recently at the S Rajaratnam school explained eloquently how foreign policy is our second wing and you need two wings for Singapore to fly was mostly ignored by the media. They gave most of the publicity to George Yeo at IPS instead but readers missed that Yeo was in his people pleasing mode and had purposely skipped evaluating potential threats to Singapore.

Back to Ho's lecture.

Leaders are produced from the people they govern with incredible insertion of good and frequently bad luck. All over the world like never ever getting a currency at fair value, people regularly get better and mostly worse leaders than they deserve. For all his faults and nobody is perfect, we got far better than we deserved in Lee Kuan Yew and his co founders. Why didn't Ho Kwong Ping make this the subject of his first lecture. It is as if he had talked about selecting the cart and assumed the horses are in place to pull it along.

Our external environment has not only been benign but also largely supportive of our growth and prosperity. Historically it was a fluke. It is wiser to assume that this will not last and we will be tested and frequently severely in the next 50 years. Are we ready?

The next 50 years belongs to the young today and that is the reason why I am writing this blog post. Most of them learn about the historical Venice in their social studies class. It is full of government propaganda and serving the PAP. Nothing wrong with that as long as it is based on historical facts. What was conveniently left out the kids will discover as they grow up. But there is something which they fail to emphasize a lot more: Venice response to its external environment vis a vis our response in foreign policy.

The students are taught how the external environment for Venice changed and eclipsed her strategic role forever leading to her irreversible decline. Singapore have to work against this all the time and the greatest and perhaps only asset we have is foresight and boldness to defend our interests.

The story of  Singapore tomorrow is not who win elections as that is confining our analyses and vision but more broadly whichever approach we adopt, how do we produce the farseeing and bold leaders we need. For many countries such leaders are nice to have; for us it is a matter of life and death.

That is why I often rue that we have the best leaders but are only tops in a class of failures. We need to aim higher and do better. To begin with talking about who will win elections is really missing the point and should be confined to the dinner table with his friends and not a public lecture.

What my kids have to watch for is when foreign leaders stop coming to see our leaders, actually mostly LKY, to explain the region and the world to them. That would be the day the canary dies. Quality first and last, as it won't matter the colours and stripes of the political party in power.

Update: 7:35am

Ho Kwong Ping hit the bell of optimism when he spoke about growing self agency among our young. That is at the individual level. What matter is how they organize and especially contest each other constructively is absolutely critical. Do we descend into chaos or emerge and create new order out of chaos? Someone who could lay down some insight to achieve this would be very helpful. A topic to consider for his next speech.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Back with WSJ again for free

Last night the daughter received an email from the university informing her that WSJ is giving away complimentary subscriptions.

So we are back with the WSJ again.

Update: October 22 8:05am

The daughter saw the post and told me it wasn't complimentary but sponsored. I replied might as well they cut the school fees eh? Why do you want to pay Murdoch when you haven't learn to read his hidden agenda? He is not as transparent as the Economist.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Tracking a Chinese registered article

The last couple of eBay orders came with free shipping but yet the vendor chose to use the more expensive mail registration route. This time I was curious and decided to see what I can learn from the tracking number they gave me. Quite fun!

And the view from Singapore's end looks like this.

Looking forward to replacing my free original Tab S cover with this more versatile one. Samsung paid too much attention to looks and too little to use. This new cover will fix that.