Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Citi: The better man lost

John Reed vs Sany Weill. It is not always the better guy who wins. More than ten years ago the better man lost: John Reed. How could this had happened? Well just like John Mack vs Phil Purcell at Morgan Stanley, the  better man lost too. How so? Both Johns trusted the wrong guy and got played out by the shenanigan of the other party. In the extreme that was how the legendary Sun Pin the grandson of Sun Zi suffered at the hands of Pang Juan.

Because ambitious self centered empire builders won, the global financial system had suffered, but as they say, it is all history now. We are all mired in trouble.

Break up these banking behemoths. Whatever good they might bring us is cancelled by their liabilities.

Monday, July 30, 2012

Raising the status of Pastor Khong Hee

Looks like they have inadvertently raise the status of their pastor Khong Hee to quite close to Jesus Christ. What would they do next? How can a law court judge preside over someone so great and amazing? At this rate he will eventually become that special brother of Jesus Christ like in the Taiping Rebellion.

Whatever happened to living the life such that people see Jesus Christ in you rather than being the great you? These youngsters have done their pastor a grave disservice, but how did they learn to become like this?

 My friend from Philadelphia just sent me this for my daughters :-) I am just being opportunistic and convenient to put this YouTube clip against the one for exalting Khong Hee. These young City Harvesters saw Khong Hee instead of Christ but I bet when questioned would push Christ to the fore. How convenient. We outside their church aren't deceived.

Dinner again at Gardens by the Bay

Second time we are having dinner at Peach Garden @ Gardens by the Bay.

Odd to me that there should be buntings inside the restaurants. Well the whole place is built and owned by the government in the guise of NParks.

The weather was too hot for a walk in the park. It was nice to see RJC (I think) pushing many disabled people on wheelchairs around.

Allianz was holding a function there. I think NParks is going to earn good fees renting facilities to the financial businesses near by.

Wifey's New Bag

Wifey's new handbag picked by me as was the one before too.

Where? Takashimaya.

I think it will go very well with the many black suits and dresses in her wardrobe.

Will there be a LV sometime? I don't know, but every senior staff including her subordinate carry LVs.

Tori Q after a long time and etc.,

I haven't tasted Tori Q in a very long time and I treated myself to two sticks of the Chicken Yakitori with Green Pepper this morning at Takashimaya. Thumbs up! Incomparably better than the Wadori that I had settled for recently because it was more convenient.

A quick lunch bite at KFC @ East Coast Park. Hardly spent any time with my Kindle.

It should have been Tori Q but that is too far away now.

More for the camera and memory than for reading eh?

Sunday, July 29, 2012

One Galaxy W down

One Galaxy W down. We sent it to Samsung Service Centre at Plaza Sing on Thursday evening. They will need between 3 to 5 days to fix this. It would be Day 5 tomorrow.

London Olympics 2012

Singapore's contingent appears at 2:44:30 on this YouTube video of the Summer Olympics opening ceremony in London. The President and First Lady put aside the dignity we are so accustomed to seeing and waved madly at Team Singapore :-) Forget about decorum. Live the moment eh?

There isn't time to sit through the whole show. I caught snippets here and there which I thought were the best moments especially Mr. Bean.

2012 London Olympics Opening Ceremony-Mr.Bean from Hao on Vimeo.

So which had a better show? Beijing or London? I think they are different. One is a rising power the other tries to carve a niche of its position in the world in post-empire days. Overall we are richer for the diversity, and really you don't want to compete with the Chinese head on. Much wiser to define your own game and thrive in the niches you are best at. Likewise I urge my kids to explore and find their own space and occupy them. This is the imperative for developed societies as the Mediocristan keep giving way to Extremistan. As the school system is not up to this task, we have to somehow search and hew our own path.  I pity the families who do not have the educational background and resources to achieve this.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

UOB Arts Contest Winning Entry

I pointed this to my daughter because she hasn't been following this story. I told her, "To hell with the orthodoxy, the Arts Pharisees. Write for the broader society. Offer them the words which they on their own could not find"

Imitate the purpose of the Bible. It was written for us too even if it was ultimately for the Creator.

Meanwhile my other daughter is losing her best arts teacher ever. She had clashed with her boss. In this instance the Pharisee won. My guess is that there are bigger Pharisees to please. You can't beat an unholy hierarchy, at least not quickly. Can't be helped.

Town Councils raising fees

I quote Hri Kumar Nair, the chairman of Bishan-Toa Payoh Town Council.

"It had delayed the increase for a s long as possible where expenses would exceed revenue"

I have my doubts. It is so easy for them to pass on the costs to us. I recall when I was living with my parents in Braddell View, we paid less than those living in HDB near equivalents. With the revelation of how misspending could arise from the recent NParks purchase of Brompton Bicycles, we must not take these leaders at their word. I would urge them to prove their case and with enough data for some of us to verify their claim.

It would be very interesting to see if Aljunied Town Council would also raise fees, and if they do are their rates better than the PAP managed ones.

Update: 9pm

Just read off AsiaOne that Aljunied Town Council will not be raising fees. Ok, the race is on to see if an Opposition ward can do better than the seven PAP wards.


Friday, July 27, 2012

NPTD: Our Population, Our Future

I downloaded this yesterday but as usual have little time to look at it as closely as I had hoped. This morning they are discussing this on radio but since I am not driving at this time, I haven't tuned in.

My daughter sometimes remarked that we cannot keep growing by increasing our population. No matter how creative we are at creating new spaces, we will eventually run of room for expansion. The young naturally think this way as they have many decades here.

For something so long term, a smart government should make a special effort to reach out to the young on this. Help them own this. It will give them a sense of empowerment and belonging. Afterward by extension you can draw in their parents.

Peter Drucker was right that the silver haired are selfish and think little of the next generation except those belonging to their families. This will lead to the unintended Tragedy of the Commons scenario. The younger generation do not know that this may be the only government in the world that think and care more about their future than any in the world. The more experienced and powerful voice of the old will try even harder to make their final days here more pleasant, but it will often come at the expense of the young. In fact Law and Foreign Affairs minister K. Shanmugam had rued publicly about this. On this the Chinese concept of filial piety is easily abused. I was fortunate that my late parents always place their grand childrens' welfare ahead of theirs. I know some parents see their children as their pension plan. A very bad idea for the kind of world we live in today.

Update: 9:35

I just read this from AsiaOne which is based on the NPTD issues paper. Still thinking about my daughter's view, I think all existing measures are only good for buying us time for a more durable and sustainable solution to future growth. We have no choice but figure a way (we have time) to shift towards creating wealth that use more knowledge, insight and creativity than adding hard inputs like manpower, energy and especially land. On this we we have find our own solutions than copy/adapt from elsewhere because most competing cities can grow into surrounding land.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

The scourge of University league tables

I have began to notice that a version of Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle also apply to anything we try to measure because the measured become the objective and the desired goal is lost. In the end we will not get what we want. We are deluding ourselves but it cannot be helped. Staying true could very well mean you do not even survive.

Sansha is now a City

In the front page today, China having set themselves up on one of the islands now accord it the status and privilege of a city.

The Chinese are winning even as ASEAN under the very able Indonesian FM struggles to limit the damage to its credibility.

I don't think we can be certain how all these will play out. In the short term tension will ratchet up. Longer term, anything is possible.

If the Chinese want to win with little risk they ought to bear in mind Deng's admonition of being patient. I think they are in too much of a hurry.

Meanwhile I bet many ST readers wonder why this news should be on the front page. We only care about what's happening at home.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Switched to TP-Link ADSL Modem Router

I have given up on Cisco Linksys after the wireless router got fried. I am not waiting for the same outcome with the modem. So I bought TP-Link TD-W8961ND for $79 from Challenger today.

A breeze to set up with their installation CD. Also discovered that the range is markedly superior to Linksys. I think it is equipped with more powerful antennae. It also uses less power.

I should have made this switch sooner.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Super rich hold $32 trillion in offshore havens

Reuters report: Super rich hold $32 trillion in offshore havens. Even if the true number is half this amount, it is still larger than the US GDP. That is huge beyond belief. Very easily and quickly this explains why the global economy is so sick.

The masses are starved of resources. Predictable government policies have allowed the savvy ones to game the system under the guise of fair market forces to legitimize their wealth accumulation. In some nations, the rich have even captured the government e.g., America.

Such wealth naturally not in cash must have been used to fuel asset bubbles instead of being put to use in industry and consumption by the masses. No wonder unemployment is a problem but the causal links are indirect and complex. This creates a fertile ground for controversy and endless debates.

If the wealthy class continues to have the means to accumulate wealth rapidly, we will at some point be staring down at revolutions. At the moment through the agency of too big to fail banks, they are using the government and monetary authorities to rob tax payers through financial repression as they need to live off high asset prices. Nobody is spared, including financially well run Singapore because we are plugged into the global system. That is why it is so incredibly hard for pay to match inflation. Bad luck for the PAP because this is impossible for the man in the street to understand. In time it would help them explain their case better if more than a few governments elsewhere are toppled alarming voters here.


Lessons for us from Tepco Fukushima Plant

Note the parallels between Tepco fiasco at the Fukushima's nuclear plant and compare them to our Orchard Rd floods and MRT breakdowns

"The fundamental problem lies in the fact that utilities, including TEPCO, and the government have failed to see the danger as reality as they were bound by a myth of nuclear safety and the notion that severe accidents do not happen at nuclear plants in our country," said the 450-page report.
The study, completed by a government-appointed panel including scholars, journalists, lawyers and engineers, also said Fukushima staff were poorly trained to deal with the crisis after the plant's reactors went into meltdown last year.

We had a less serious problem but it is the same sort of complacency. The Japanese had more time to hibernate and made it far worse. We were careless for a shorter time before we hit problems.

Keeping Singapore running in a tip top state is very tiring and nearly always unappreciated and taken for granted. It is human nature and therefore inevitable that we let our guard down. It is like your eyes appear to stay open but the mind has switched off and gone to sleep.

Everyone wants to work on something visible so that they can be recognized and rewarded. This was especially true when I was living in Dubai for a while. Anything that is not seen is neglected. So the unsexy bits eventually find a way to haunt you. They become embarrassingly visible.

Helps a lot that our tendency to cover up or gloss over isn't as strong as the Japanese.

Car Accident

Nasty accident near Buona Vista this afternoon. I think the driver tried to make an illegal U-turn but ended up running into a bus. No prize for guessing who came out of this worse off.

Linksys E2000 Fried :-(

Returned home this evening and found that the Linksys E2000 router has been fried :-(

Lifespan: Approx 15 months. Lousy.

I have set my eyes on a TP-Link to replace both of them. Now living precariously with the remaining Linksys ADSL2+ modem router

6 months paid maternity leave

Link to article:

And comments with the top "likes" many I would gladly cast my vote for.

  • Adriel Leong Many knows that at PMET and below level, you are doomed to be replaced. The issue is never about giving birth but raising a child.

    This is also anti SME as manpower is already an issue.

    Another doomed policy if ever implemented. The govt should think about pro family and not pro birth policies.

    4 hours ago via Mobile ·  · 6

  • Yelen Zeng Yan Ling How about waive off the maid levy and has a 'normal' 9-5 working hour, so parent have more quantity and quality time with their children? It's a pitty if you have more babies in this country, but parent's are not at home to raise them.
    4 hours ago via Mobile ·  · 18

  • Susan Choo That means no work for about a year. Some companies may be putting off employing female staffs.
    4 hours ago via Mobile ·  · 6

  • Rohaya Ummu Nashwan 
    Sounds rather good but i guess juz stick to 4mths. Why? Cos more women will be in a vulnerable position at their workplace, and they might lose out to their colleagues in terms of promotion and competitveness. Employers will not favour this move and will seek to employ more men and ended up more women will lose opportunity for employment.

    Better to implement the following:
    1) Decrease the Maid's levy;
    2) More subsidies for child care fees;
    3) Flexible working hrs but stick to de 8hrs wrkng hrs routine say u offcially have to report for work @9am and ends @6pm. But give flexible hrs for working mums/dads eg 10-7pm, or 8-5 and etc;
    4) Increase CCL to at least 10days.
    5) Extend pick-up time at child care ctr. Most CCC implement de before 7pm pick-up rule. This can be very rushing for wrkng mums/dads to fetch their kids.
    6) Make paternity mandatory to at least 1mth. Daddies have to play a part in raising a child. This will also deter employers to seek more men for employement cos this will increase a fair level playing field. Remember de campaign "Dads for life";
    7) More subside for babies/children medical check-ups and vaccinations. Include more medisave usage.
    8) Govt inject more $$$ into de edufunds for children education.
    9) More subside or better still FOC textbooks and abolish school fees for up to secondary level (for Spore citizen only).

    Did i leave anything else unwritten?

    3 hours ago via Mobile ·  · 30

  • Daphne Tan ‎6 months leaves will not help working moms. It will only deter employers from employing ladies who are expected to be young mothers. If I'm a boss, I'll avoid employing such ladies!
    Boosting birth rate is all about money and space. Infant care and child care centers are charging way too expensive here and maids are unreliable. Grandparents have to work as they can't retire. HDB home is too small to accommodate another kid. Too many factors involve.

    3 hours ago via Mobile ·  · 10

We have always solve our dearth of babies problem with easy fixes that do not work. The government finally gave up and make up for all the missing babies of the last 20 to 30 years with massive inflow of foreigners.

It is very simple why the problem could not be overcome. After giving economic growth the top priority, all competing priorities must fight for the left-overs. Defense rank ahead of every priority as can be seen from its budget allocation. Oddly a shrinking population is a security issue as grave and in need of attention as the money spent on the military but it is not getting sufficient resources.

Not that I recommend this as I haven't think this through yet, the scarcity of time and energy on families can be ameliorated with government money. If the state offers to pay for the maternity leave, businesses would be less unwilling to hire women as many have feedback.

We invest heavily in the education and health of each child because each of them have to compete successfully against all others. Naturally you do not want to divide a limited pie among so many children.

At the end of the day the wealth of this nation is produced by its people. Either you leave them with enough to raise more children or government and organizations have to return the money, redistributed to meet national objectives of having more kids. Alternatively our methods of raising kids have to be cheaper and yet not worse than what we are getting now. This is a massive cultural change that cuts across all aspects of our lives especially the family and the workplace. Now near sighted employers are not interested and businesses have a talent of getting free money from governments but not returning in kind. Hence my doubts about throwing money at the problem.

So we are back to remaking Singapore which we had talked too much and loudly about but nothing happens.

An idea just emerged in my mind. May be businesses with employees that have more babies get some tax benefits? Targeted taxes have always been very effective at changing behavior. 


Petrol Prices Up Again

Just filled the tank and noticed that 92 Ron petrol has creeped up to $2.010. Wasn't very long ago I was rejoicing about lower prices.

Just checked Petrol Watch and on July 18 92R was $1.970

Yep, Caltex is still giving out box tissues.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

PM's warning on fault lines in our society

The link to the article: http://sg.news.yahoo.com/pm-lee-warns-of-new-cracks-between-new-citizens--singaporeans.html?utm_source=dlvr.it&utm_medium=twitter

And here are some of the comments that have garnered more "likes"

  • Desmond Soo read your history and it will show you that there will be a spilt! No need to say who will be the first to leave when things are not going well. Just look at those PRs who left and don't want their sons to do NS.

    Singaporean are a naive bunch who don't understand that some other countries do allow dual citizenship or reapplication is not difficult.

    about an hour ago ·  · 12

  • Remus Cheng Singapore enables them to upgrade from third world to (supposedly) first. Unfortunately you can take people out of the third world, but you can't really take much of the third world out of them. We are sinking with too many of such people on board.
    59 minutes ago ·  · 5

  • Andrew Ang 
    Native Singaporean don't have problem with all races till now and even in crisis. New Singaporean if they stick to our rules and culture then I see no reason why we can't accept them. But what we can't really totally accept is Singapore let in too much new Singaporean making the country no breathing space. Just because the birth rate is low doesn't mean the implement plan can walk over us. My six sense is telling me the new n native citizen problem is waiting to erupt just a matter of time if the population keep coming in.

    56 minutes ago via Mobile ·  · 8

  • Terence Wong When Times are bad.. FT pack their backs and left with all the funds. Singaporean have no choice but to stay and suffer.
    51 minutes ago via Mobile ·  · 5

And comments from an equivalent article from CNA

  • Joseph Tan There had never really been a racial harmony issue for years..... Until somebody who think they are really smart and opened the flood gate. Yet solve the problem now when you create the imbalance in the first place?
    15 hours ago via Mobile ·  · 13

  • Jonny Lee The thing is you want new citizens to integrate with citizens or you expect citizens to integrate with the new citizens. Surely it should be the former rather than latter. This constant harping on this citizen integration obfuscate the problem that there are more non citizens than citizens on Singapore. This includes PRs and work permit holders.

    This is more of a ominous trend than this integration business.

    15 hours ago ·  · 7

People are still angry. At least if they are not getting angrier there is a chance that the anger will simmer down over time. Sure the government created the problem and wanted us to solve it for them. The problem is that they cannot solve this alone but I think they are not very good at helping us help them either. However it looks like they are beginning to realize this. They really need to do better and quickly too because we are actually sitting on dry gunpowder.

It makes no sense for newly arrived Singaporeans to become exactly like us. We should influence each other but the end result is that they must be more like us than we like where they come from or we wold be lost, confused and irrelevant.

These newly arrived Singaporeans are more likely to succeed better than native born Singaporeans. It is only reasonable because they recognize that this is a place they can do well before they uproot and come here. Many of the their compatriots prefer to remain at home, some leave for other countries. The newly arrived are a self selected bunch for success, meanwhile local born Singaporeans if they choose to stay must make the best of what is available.

Fortunately for us, many countries are making it harder for outsiders to get in. This opens a fortuitous window for us to pacify the locals while at the same time restrict the inflow of foreigners. Indeed if we had not been so immigrant friendly, we would be worse off today. Yes, we shouldn't have open the flood gates so widely but that in the end is a judgement call.

It would really help to calm tempers if the government were more contrite. Their job would be very much easier.