Friday, May 31, 2013

OSC on our housing conundrum

I was working through this problem as one in the distant future in the first few years of my working life. Wifey and I decided that we cannot count on selling our house to fund our retirement. Fast forward to the present, the conundrum is now upon us. An easy solution is available. In fact it was a solution which is able to solve a myriad of problems - The Population White Paper. Regrettably for the PAP, they could be voted out pushing that.

I am sure this government do not have a solution. They will put in all their effort to resell that White Paper later. The hard selling will only come after they have overcome the present bugbears. Didn't the North-South rail sprung another crack? All such problems must be history first. Meanwhile the OSC on housing is a soft sell to the people to understand rationally and also EMOTIONALLY our conundrum. So go and chit chat, have a coffee or tea, shiok shiok but go home with no solutions; only a better and more intimate appreciation of the problem.

By the way all advanced governments all over the world will resort to buying time when they have no solutions. Ours is no different.

The next generation after seeing this one experience a narrow escape will have another twenty to thirty years to solve the problem differently. Population: at least 6.9 million as the defunct White Paper will rise again.

Remember Niall Ferguson had eloquently argued in 'The Ascent of Money' why 'safe as houses' is a bankrupt idea.

Update: June 1 6:30am

Article link at ST Property

When property prices outpace GDP growth by a large margin over a prolonged period, when the share of wages of GDP is shrinking, this government has a big problem. However they failed to see the obvious and so they suffered a big hit in the last GE.

The political survival of the PAP means that the property market must eventually become disconnected from the market. What we have now is the outcome of market led massive liquidity. If you leave it to the market eventually this liquidity must ebb and prices will fall far more than you wish to see. You boom, you will bust so that prices can revert to the mean over the long term. Feast and famine is the fare from the goddess of the Market. Therefore Khaw can only keep his promises by being the biggest and dominant player the market. HDB becomes the market for public housing once more. How tenable is this? What if during a bust when liquidity dries up and you have private properties starting to become cheaper than HDB flats? In the life of the markets, you never say never. Khaw's words have limited credibility. What options can you buy to hedge against this? Nothing that can be got from the usual that is available to the ordinary citizen. LOL, you think the government will sell such options, even create this product to list on the exchange? Most people will get killed as a few get rich through this.

Your HDB as an asset? It was true for a while until it is not. Now for a growing number it is more like the ultimate disaster in your financial planning. Actually you didn't plan at all. You believed the government.

If you want a hard truth in price taking, this is a good one. Ignorance is deadly.

What's MDA actually up to?

Just as I feel it was shrewd not to keep this blog private, it is wise to also read MDA clarification under pressure from content creating netizens. It is also interesting to watch MDA which in my view on balance is more clueless than tuned in guiding our local Internet activities. For once unlike the Pop. White Paper I must commend them for not trying to talk knowledgeably. On the other hand they must be disappointed how little trust they are getting from socio-political websites producers and bloggers.

Locals must not forget that this is Singapore! In media matters we run a very different system from the rest of the world. How we rank in press freedoms by benchmarks that is not sensitive to local conditions don't matter. We were the first to sue a foreign publication where others either had to live with or ban them. Locals must also be cognizant that the PAP dominates Parliament. If there is a need to burn this seven points and start over, they could and would. I think for those like me who were never in the media business you can do no worse than read and understand Cheong Yip Seng's OB Markers.

There is no need to add further to the flood of words. Time will tell who is right and this time I think the MDA will have the last laugh. Meanwhile the rest of us can wait for the ripper and somehow will modify our behavior such that the hooded creature will not choose us. Some like Alex Au, I can't help but will be in a pickle with the authorities again.

I actually find it refreshing that MDA is not afraid to look bad or dumb learning how to deal with such matters so publicly. Just as well they have also wisely except for the minister himself not put faces to this new regulation. Now if the government is like one of my former bosses who doesn't bat an eyelid asking stupid questions in order to learn and understand as quickly as possible. I must welcome such gumption.

What's MDA doing? They are just trying and not shy to publicly make mistakes learning how to do their job better. I am giving Yaacob the provisional thumbs up for this one because it is not over yet. It is refreshing to be able to do this for a minister when I had been so severely critical of most of them.

Update: 8:45pm

This is quoting the minister out of context because he went on to define what 'right thing' is - the full facts of a reported event.

He and his colleagues have a simplistic concept of what truth is. Partly because they want their version to be the 'right' version. But what is right and what is reality? We are getting into philosophy. This is not the place for discussing this.

These ministers better learn all these quickly or we are going to hit the glass ceiling of generating the next generation of economic goods and services pretty soon. In fact we should be there already but we have been failing and clinging on to old products and services which only remain competitive by cutting prices....most voters wouldn't care about Internet freedoms, they will care about your government ability to deliver, which is tied back without negotiation how you are clued in about the Internet.

Update: 9:15pm

Even ZDNet is onto this. This is a IT media organization. I used to voraciously read the PC Magazine they put out. I still remember it cost $15.40 - very ex. Now if this product and tech oriented media cared to report this, who else isn't?

Because of the way the MDA and Yacoob have responded, they better get ready to look really incompetent to the international media and readers. It's unfortunate some will associate this as a fiasco like the Pop. White Paper. Myself I am prepared to give them the benefit of the doubt. Smart people, in fact anyone boning up on something they know very little always don't look very smart. Recall how LKY embarrassed himself learning to make speeches in Hokkien in the early days.

Library nostalgia

Bedok Library like its older sibling in Queenstown has that special yesterday charm. Of course I missed the old Central Library. Fortunately I have many photos of the grand daddy including its inner sanctum.

It's such a rare treat for me today to sit here with my Kindle while the world beyond the window passes by.

The NLB is my favorite government agency.

(Cleaned this post up with my PC. Blogger for Android produced unsatisfactory results)

Online curbs: Govt not stupid but clueless sometimes

Note: I cleaned this up. The original post was created with the  unsatisfactory Blogger for Android writing from the Library.

I had wondered if it was true that Anthony Chen did not receive government funding for his award winning film. I waited for the truth to be revealed and it was worth waiting.

This government would have supported Sim Wong Hoo if only they knew how to recognize him. Between then and now they have learned much. The government is not stupid but it could often be clueless.  Today they face a world that is running ahead of them. They will be clueless more often than ever.

Everyone has enemies. If you think you don't it is probably you are just ignorant especially when they decided they didn't need to do anything about you and just let you expire in good time. Perhaps the government should do this more often with its foes on the Internet. Now it has chosen to wield its huge sword without actually using it.

We ought to remember that what cannot kill you can only make you stronger. Unlike the first generation our present leaders  were never scarred by narrowly escaping with their lives. Why over react? Or shall I say why act so quickly?

I can understand what they are getting to do with Yahoo but for the rest of us their light touch surely feels if anything but light. It's so self defeating.

Blogging off my S3 in Bedok Library. Not a good idea.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Dumb: From Pop. White Paper to MDA latest

This is so dumb it took me a long time to figure out because I can't believe it could have gotten so low.

The government is out of touch, a theme I have repeated many times in earlier posts. In fact the top civil servant is also out of touch. What can you expect when you wave a red flag at a bull. That's exactly what MDA had just done with its latest measures regulating websites. In short, they have not learned the communication lessons from the Pop. White Paper.

Unless you have spent a lot of time engaging each other and know each other well most attempts at substantive communication begins with miscommunication. Then what about the OSC? I suggested months ago, it was never a true conversation (Link1, Link 2). Can't find when I have posted, but at one point I also suggested like they have done it many times under different banners, the OSC was just training for new political office holders. Therefore as you have your conversation with the government, they also sprung this surprise from the MDA on you.

Why not me? I didn't care as I am blogging for myself.

Now after all the ruckus, MDA clarified that TOC is not on the list as it does not currently fall within the online licensing framework (see last line by 938 Live below). Yaacob and MDA, why don't you say so earlier? Ah, but you like the rest are out of touch with us. May be you should try asking the WP next time. They are more in touch and if they refuse, let us know. It would make them less shiny. What's a First World Parliament? Any of you putting the people's interests ahead of the party? I am asking for the impossible.

My take? Any websites and Yahoo is presently the foremost which can generate substantial advertising revenue and eventually take market share from SPH and Mediacorp would not be acceptable unless they abide by the same rules. InSing isn't as successful and so is excluded for now. My hunch wasn't far off, Bertha Henson and a few I am unaware of should be happily concerned. When you are on the list, you would have been quite successful already! The rest of us not in this for revenue shouldn't be too agitated. You should be shrewder to quietly work on Plan B - I personally think is not necessary. Then the government would be worried and agitated instead of you. That would be much smarter and the citizen reader like myself would be far more impressed with your savvy but not necessary your wisdom. The G will view you as subversives! LOL.

Adsense: A reminder from Google

Again a reminder from Google to enable Adsense. Thanks but no thanks! This would just damage my blog and detract me from blogging for myself. I already have Adsense ringing the cash register with my other web asset. This is not the right place.

This reminds me to remove some once off experiments I was doing with this blog using Adsense. It must have been so small that to Google I wasn't even on.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

My dangerous relationship manager

I have to go through this every time I get a new relationship manager. Inevitably they would recommend me some bad product which they don't even understand. I told him the AUD is likely to weaken...but I am not monitoring this one. Today I saw from an WSJ email the AUD has weakened markedly. I just checked Bloomberg that it is buying S$1.2206 now. Well this is just a snapshot but look at the driving forces, the Aussie commodity story is over.

These guys don't know their work and add no value to me. That's fine, but I am beginning to wonder what they do for other clients. I cannot be the only one they sell these silly stuff to.

The retail investor usually lose money. No wonder he would prefer to go into property. That game would get really dangerous if the government achieve a soft landing this cycle. The market always need a healthy dose of fear once in a while but politicians hate it. Just as the Trojans should beware of Greeks bearing gifts, investors must beware of the Big Idea, the sure bet.

Update: May 31

Since my last post he had emailed me again. He wanted to exchange notes with me, I think like those before him are a waste of time. He is still talking the bull in the AUD. Because of this mail from the WSJ, I just checked and lo and behold it is at 1.2148 now.

And do you think it can't get lower? Dream on. Always know where gravity is and if you have cheap hot air to lift you.

Make my day: S'poreans can afford a dose of magnanimity

Most news are not happy reading. In particular reading the depravity of the deservedly sacked Tey Tsun Hang just made you angry.  Good thing I didn't waste my time following that trial closely - Come to think of it, I never follow any court trial closely.

I am most glad I didn't skip this article which I normally would it. It is so good I am assuming SPH would be magnanimous enough to let me reproduce it here. Sure the MSM has many faults but its detractors have grossly magnified them. Foreign papers are frequently no better. People should read intelligently or should I say, "What is your agenda?" LOL.

Here the article that make my day. Should have read it early in the morning! Thanks Leong Chan Hoong for contributing this.

TWELVE years ago, a man from Singapore travelled 8,500km to Wellington, New Zealand, to pursue an education.

Although he had little money, he took a chance and took along his wife and their newborn son, guided by nothing more than a dream.

He soon discovered that life was not a bed of roses in the picturesque capital city. Casual jobs were not easy to come by and money was always in short supply. The Singaporean would scrimp on every penny so that his family could get the best.

One day, his son fell ill and he had to pick up prescription drugs from the pharmacy.

It was far from payday and he was not sure how the cost of the medication would affect the family budget for the rest of the week.

Nevertheless he mustered all his courage and said to the chemist at the drugstore in his best Kiwi: "G'day mate, cu'ya gettme wannaf these for my little boy?"

"Sure mate, hope ya' kid feels better," said the chemist.

The man picked up the medicine and left without paying.

Nothing else is shared between the two, and nothing more is required. The Singaporean man knew that medical care and medication was free for all New Zealand residents below the age of seven.

His son took a while to recover, and the man had to make multiple visits to the same chemist for the prescription drugs. Each time, the same conversation was re-enacted.

On the last trip to the chemist, feeling somewhat guilty, I asked the chemist if he had known that I was not a resident of the country, and hence, strictly speaking, was not entitled to the subsidies.

To my surprise, the chemist replied: "I don't wanna know, mate, hope ya' kid is fine."

I could never imagine an event like this unfolding in Singapore, given the layers of authentication in our water-tight system when it comes to access to subsidies.

I would not say that I am proud of my Kiwi impersonation. Nor do I condone anyone who callously siphons off social benefits that do not belong to them.

But I do believe that there are occasions when a person can show some magnanimity in weighing minor transgressions, and that the system ought to allow for such discretion.

Many of the social policies in Singapore today are dispensed under a highly structured and convoluted set of guidelines that predetermine the individual's right to state support - how much, by whom and at what point in time.

Our policies are calibrated to the nth degree to meet a specific objective for a specific people.

For instance, you receive a certain percentage less in benefits from the state as a permanent resident; but if you are married to a citizen, you get more bang for your residency. Subsidies for childcare services are meant to support working mothers, so good luck to you if you are a homemaker who needs to put your children in pre-school.

We have reached a perverted stage in applying the jurisprudence of entitlement.

This clinical orientation to welfarism was, in part, born out of a political ethos based on exclusion that explicitly denied rights to some groups. Stringent criteria such as income ceilings or minimum years of residency are designed to exclude most people from such entitlements, leaving only a narrow group to qualify.

Any programme that inadvertently lets in an individual or group outside the pre-defined framework is classified as an injustice that requires rectification. "Loopholes" - such as allowing a student to "pretend" to be a resident - are assiduously closed. Those who take advantage of a system or do not comply are punished.

To be sure, welfare benefits are costly. So criteria are essential, as are policies to keep out those who deliberately game the system.

But at the margins, I sometimes think we in Singapore can afford to be a little more generous, to shut the proverbial eye now and then, for those among us who may need some help.

If we are serious in fostering a culture of generosity, graciousness and magnanimity - to both foreigners and Singaporeans alike - we need to take a hard look at ourselves and ask if we have ever made any special gesture to a community that does not fall within the category of those who "deserve" state assistance, but who would benefit from it nevertheless.

Can we afford to relax our rules a little, to let the foreigners living in our midst enjoy some peace of mind in medical care? To be kinder to minority groups, such as gays, unmarried mothers, singles and all those not part of the mainstream?

A truly global and inclusive city is not defined solely by the quality of its infrastructure, the demographic texture or the number of Michelin-starred restaurants.

It includes the ability to look beyond the divisive line of politics, and to reconnect with our humanist instinct to look out for one another.

Wellington taught me many lessons, the most important being the beauty of kindness and the importance of treating one another with mutual respect and dignity, regardless of backgrounds.

I will always remember the chemist with gratitude, and think of Wellington as a global city for its heart.

I wonder sometimes if there are foreigners living in our midst who think likewise of Singapore.

Update: 4:20pm
:-) Making the best of a misfortune.

JC teachers paid Pri and Sec teachers' debt

Many teachers take their young charges in primary and to a lesser degree secondary school for granted. Quite a few live near the edge of bullying the pupils. You know is bullying when there is an abuse of authority an/or taking advantage of the children ignorance. By the time these pupils get to JC, the transactions change dramatically. To me this is a gross failure of character education. Educators simply thought the kids were stupid and failed to walk their talk. The kids never bought their messages, they were just smart not to get into trouble by toeing the line. How many kids can remember what the principal and teachers told them about character. A list of dos and don'ts just wouldn't cut it.

I told my kids long ago, smart rules increase everyone's freedom. I reinforced that truth with many examples. I didn't tell them then that it also actually enforces the Golden Rule when people cannot be counted on to do so. Rules that are for the convenience of the powerful (in school they are the teachers) are not good rules. In the extreme they are used to justify bullying. You don't want them.

Doc dumps insurance, charges less

A friend's son put this up. Kudos to him. He gets it.

I am worried about the trends of medical practice here. As I am not a doctor or healthcare executive, I look at it as simply as possible.

KISS (keep it simple stupid). The trend is for us to pay into a pool and the ways this is done can be maddeningly complex, and from there in ever complex ways over time, the doctors, surgeons and the hospitals are paid.

I always look for two things. How power is distributed and the manner which the money flow. As long as the patient relative power decline, he will end up paying more eventually. The Americans have gone to the far end on this and as is typical of them, the ground is throwing up their alternatives. Dr. Michael Ciampi is an early example. I hope there would be more, but first he must be successful with what he is doing.

Panasonic Volta and other batteries

These pair of Panasonic Volta batteries delivered 144 shots in my last trip to the GBB and still going strong :-)

Yesterday I threw away my GP Recyclo. They were supposed to be very good but not the two which came free when I bought this camera. I found the Energizer NiMH ones way better.

Last night I replaced the door chime batteries with three Energizer Gold.

Let's see how long they last.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

MDA new rules on websites

The new measures are understandably unpopular among those who comment on the local scene. The government will have Yahoo News in its net come Saturday. Netizens feared that many of their favorite and highly trafficked sites will be next. It has already got TOC worried. I haven't seen TRE put out their response. I think the fear is overdone. This is like DRM or software copy protection in the old days. It wouldn't work. In fact the government will lose and their trust capital will diminish further. Also this government cannot use Chinese methods as it has to face the voters every five years. Additionally unlike China, we are small and open. Didn't help the government that want control that our mainstay language is English.

Government measures to rein us in can only inconvenience us at worst. If you do not know how to be shrewd in responding to the government, you don't deserve to triumph or get voters' support. Interestingly the alternative political parties have such small Internet footprints. They are clever. As for me, what do I care? I am only blogging for myself and family.

Update: 10:00pm

Perhaps as I am dispassionate about this, I could also be rational. If you over react and the government do not act on any of your imagined fears, you would look much less credible. So don't get overly excited, "Ai steady mah! tio boh?"

Update: 10:30pm

I am slow because I am not in the media business, but here is a new thought. I think the new MDA rules is to level the playing field between the MSM and Yahoo because it is becoming a shadow news enterprise. Eventually Bertha Henson's Breakfast Network (they must try to monetize their content) could also be included. Our regulators apply the same thinking and principles to the banks too. E.g., Paypal, a non-traditional competitor to the banks and credit card companies.

Update: May 29, 1:50pm

I tried to read as many of the blogs on this topic as listed by Singapore Daily as possible. Their reaction is as expected and I believe MDA and MITA expected the same too. For me, I rank government transparency and accountability much higher than innuendos and conspiracy theories.

I agree with Bryan Tan published in TRE that the law is too broad but that's has been the way this government operate in areas which they are not familiar and want to have flexibility. I think it is a bad habit and they get away with this far too easily. Unlike many bloggers I feel the government is also groping its way in the dark. Those questions they posed have no answers. Everyone should just go an understand the OB markers and we will all be able to coexist.

New Pope, New Wine (Spirit)

Pope Francis remarks is stirring controversy. Huffpost and others are helping to take it farther.  That's the job of the media. Now the Vatican wants to split hairs between redemption and salvation in order that large numbers of believers who had been taught all their lives that atheists aren't saved will remain sane.

As the Pope tries to reach beyond the walls of Roman Catholicism, he is bound to make even more controversial remarks in future. As he tries to reach out, be more inclusive and unify, his rearguard might fracture. I have read about how it happened big time for the first time before. Jesus was a divisive character. He was a rabbi and there were many rabbis. Perhaps I seeing the same pattern here in the Pope reaching out.

George Yeo captioned: New Pope, new spirit. Perhaps new wine in the Bible is more telling.

I think atheists aren't saved provided you don't show me one. If I see him or her, I am no longer sure. Be clear about the concept and the complex reality. Conceptually there is good and evil. In reality they are mixed together like weeds among wheat as per Christ's parable.

Too many people open their mouth without their awareness of ignorance.

Of course if you are good, you are redeemed as the Pope gave his homily from Mark's Gospel. Do you know what the Pope meant by "you are good"? The Pope doesn't need any of us to explain or defend him. Blogging for myself, I was thinking more about people's reactions to his statement.

In the end, it wouldn't be what he said but what he does and then say that would carry his message. Plenty of time for that. You can't separate the life and words of Francis of Assisi or Mother Teresa.

Singapore Flyer in Receivership

I never believed in the Singapore Flyer. I didn't even bother to turn up for a complimentary ride. What for? I had spent most of my time in offices above the 40th floor. It made sense if you are in London but here?

For a few years I thought I was wrong about them. Each time I passed it on the Benjamin Sheares bridge I tried to see if business was good but it was hard to tell unless I wanted to risk a bad accident. Today I have the answer. You will not be missed. In fact you don't even look good in photos. Why on earth did we put good money into this in the first place?

Monday, May 27, 2013

H7N9 and Novel Coronavirus

My daughter just handed me thi - a letter from the principal about H7N9 and the novel coronavirus. Finally this pathogens are starting to impact our lives albeit in a remote fashion. I wonder how many would still want to visit China for their holidays in June. The China scholars will go home as they all missed their families and I hope they stay well.

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Can the Public Service up its game?

Am I getting old and slow? I found myself having to read this more than once to understand it.

Good that the service wants to up its game but I think they have are stuck in a gold box problem, and there is nothing better than a golden box because it is the best box.

Easiest I just quote an example Peter Ong gave. A low hanging fruit to pluck why I say they don't get it. Much clearer this way.

Let me quote the good man.

On health care, the other day I had a consultant who came by. He heads a practice in Asia Pacific on health care and I said we're thinking through our health care. Tell me which systems around the world or even in particular in Asia Pacific would you recommend for us to study that's really good? He said seriously Singapore, you've got a very good health-care system. I was glad to hear that validation from someone like him. He studies all the health care systems around the world and recognised that actually we do have many positive features.

I met permanent secretaries from around the world and they say we wished we had Medisave. Many of them have pay as you go systems where current taxpayers pay for the health-care needs of their people. And he says, guard what you have. So I think what we're doing is trying to make sure that we guard the positive features that we have in our system but saying that, as the population profile changes, what are the new things that we need to have. So that's what my colleagues are very busy with right now.

The civil service do not understand that unless there is new thinking, health care the world over is a zero sum game.

Pay as you go, the people do not worry. Medisave? Better die than to fall ill. Pay as you go provides good service but deteriorates over time, which they like to teach my kids in school - the British NHS example.  Medisave and together the 3Ms is increasingly unaffordable, i.e., even more worry that it is better to die than to fall ill.

Now that consultant see the world from a helicopter. Is he the average health care customer? He missed the trees for the forest. 3Ms is beautiful on paper but the test of the pudding is in the eating.

Zero sum game, choose your combination. Unaffordable to the state but affordable to patients who do not worry about falling ill, or affordable to the state but have patients very worried that they go bankrupt getting treatment. Which is better? Both are good and bad but that consultant and our civil service could only see one side of it, and not the side we are looking and living.

What is new thinking? Here is a nascent example not from healthcare but education: Khan Academy. Sal Khan, I saw my daughter earlier today trying to use it to learn how to code. She gave me a quick run down of their learning model, I can see they are providing another way that is friendly to the realities of the 21st century for people to learn. Ditto also what is coming and evolving from top universities putting out their lectures on the Internet. These are emerging ground up answers to the runaway costs of paying for college. A long way to go but the journey has begun.

My point? Our civil service don't get it because they mistakenly thought they are the best even as they keep reminding themselves to be humble. Not helpful when every purportedly credible opinion they sought agrees with them. Why don't they ask us but first they must learn a language they are not used to. They must learn to hear beyond the spectrum they are familiar with, which even their politician bosses are not good at.

Update: May 27 5:15am

I thought I remember reading about such Indian hospitals not very long ago. Google helped me to locate them this morning (link). We are not doing this for the masses in Singapore. May be if we ask them they say it cannot be done here. If so, not a problem but we want to know why.

At their website, I found the following in their landing page.

Our Vision

“Affordable Quality Healthcare for the Masses Worldwide”

Our Mission

“A dream to making quality healthcare accessible to the masses worldwide”

Our Objectives

  • Provide holistic, timely patient care
  • Continually upgrade the knowledge and technology in patient care
  • Enhance customer relationships and provide an enriching experience
We could have the same vision, mission and objectives for our hospitals? The Americans as usual in a contentious manner will definitely be looking at such examples to rein in their runaway healthcare costs. It has caught the attention of Fast Company.

THIS IS A SPECIFIC EXAMPLE OF NEW THINKING I FEEL OUR CIVIL SERVICE LACKS. Something I pointed out earlier in the main post. Why should we be suffering under their zero sum thinking? You think a bean counting gold plated consultant can dream up such possibilities? Peter Ong was talking to the wrong people. Get out of your suffocating gold box. Today's true gold is hiding in lead boxes.

Bassanio: (Merchant of Venice)
So may the least deserved be most rewarded;    
The world is e’er deceived° by outer show.                                                
What says the gold?—‘ . . . shall gain what (many) men desire.’
I do not know what many men desire,    
Nor what they hope to gain by such desire--
(I only know what my heart yearns to give.)
O gold, you shine° but do not satisfy,                                               
Like golden food which Midas cannot eat.
Therefore, gaudy gold, I’ll have none of thee.
And what of silver?—‘. . . shall get (as much) as he deserves.’
Yet how does ‘getting’° mingle with true love?                                  
‘Tis not of love we speak, nay, but of business.
O silver, thou pale promise appeals
Only to those who have nothing to give,
To greedy hands that grab at passing coins.°                                    
And lead?—‘. . . must give and hazard all he has.’ 
O lead, thou threatens yet offers no gain.
Yet how° can we speak of ‘giving’ or ‘hazard’                                   
To one already lost in love’s abyss?°                                                  
      (And what of gain for one whose heart is full?)                            
One sight of her beauty fills me til dawn;
One glimpse of her glory and I'm complete;       
My heart cares not for gain—as bid by gold                                 
Neither° to get—as promis├ęd by silver°                                              
But e're° to give, as required by lead.°                                                       
    Here, here chose I—when all is done and said 
    A heart that giveth all can ne’er be misled.

Of course your counterparts in other countries envy you. You don't have their problems or citizens. But if you are truly good in your job like our first generation leaders, envy wouldn't be what you get from these other perm secs. They would be worried or even frightened by your boldness and courage. I am asking too much from your team but Singapore will eventually get nowhere without such demanding standards which brought us here.

Meanwhile we wait for others living in greater pain to get their act together because they have no choice, and then they will beat us. That Indian hospital is not staying in India. It wants to conquer the world. This should start to worry our hospital business. But you might say that is many years away and we would have retired by then? I used to have bosses that thought this way.

Dr Goh: Luck better than Smart

I know but I didn't say so. One of the great believers of promotion by merit (result of you being smart), Dr. Goh Keng Swee believed that luck is more decisive to success than merit.

I always smile to myself when I hear on 93.8 people talking about fairness and merit. Sure, most of them were quick with self serving logic but no one (because those who knows better keep their own counsel) ever suggested than bad luck undo all your merit and good luck have often brought incompetents and the undeserving rich rewards and promotion.

What I find difficult to accept is how our ruling class have systematically designed bad luck out of their occupational lives. Unless you are caught in a CPIB or CAD case, you are immune to bad luck. You are too talented to waste and every mistake you make is an opportunity to learn but for others they often get punished. E.g., think Mas Selamat.

Wee Cho Yaw is a foxy businessman. In the early days he took potentially catastrophic risks and survived. When he no longer needed to live so dangerously, he took only calibrated risks whilst many others often confused their luck with their skill and get destroyed eventually. Why do you think he is in banking? That's the smartest thing to do in Singapore and many other places too. Look how bankers make their enterprises too big to fail. With that they could play heads they win and tails you lose. They have succeeded at designing bad luck out and by default will only have good luck making everything legal since they don't rob you as a result. This of course is cheating. Nassim Taleb has one of the most erudite and intellectually robust way to condemn this. Like the law of conservation of energy and matter, bad luck cannot be destroyed, it can only be transferred. Guess where they move their bad luck to? How do the bankers, the government etc., go about it? Why do you think they all try to limit transparency and accountability?

Update: 5:55pm

This is the nature of luck many of us have observed but often superficially.

When you are a start up, luck almost totally trumps smart. When you are a giant MNC or a monopolist, you can be bumping into billion dollar bad luck and still stick around.

The journey from start up to becoming an MNC, we all know the death rates. There are numerous ways to look at this from the business literature, but my late father always saw it as a matter of luck. You are not going to get published in HBR much less respected to offer luck as an explanation for random success. Everyone hates it. People want control.

It is the same with schooling. You have less luck (the now preferred word is opportunities) than when you are in the top schools (more opportunities). But this is nonsense. By definition luck is in nobody's control. The fine lady is married to no one. So what  is really happening is that we have a system which controls the schooling environment. People don't see it this way, but we have designed good luck (but never completely) out of the neighborhood schools to the top schools. Luck is here systematic rather than random. The good possibiliites over total possiblities is smaller for a neighborhood school than the top schools, but almost all of us are not good at thinking statistically yet we are faced with more and more situations that demand such thinking. If you are clued in, you know this is also the age of Big Data.

Now this is also the same with the tax code too especially in America. I posted a story on this one recently. Apple paid little taxes because it took advantage of all the legal loopholes. If you are not an MNC, you aren't positioned to enjoy them.

Life for the rich and powerful is creating a system that allows you to push out your bad luck to other people. Because it is called luck and nobody controls luck, your bad luck is not the fault of the rich and powerful until it is carried too far. You will first feel it in your gut and then grasp it cognitively later when others explain the situation to you e.g., Robert Reich. Now all over the world we have indeed gone to far. I am not smart at all, I am simply stating what is becoming obvious. With my hurried and impatient writing nobody would understand me had I written this long ago. But I am blogging for myself!

Intractable problems of race and demography

Most societies are terrible at integrating minorities into their population. Just today there are two bad stories in our papers. We can easily imagine many more but we often only get to read or see it when it blows up.

Integration is so challenging, these societies might as well stop taking in people of other race and religion. It seems that the only safe to admit sort are the global citizens who are highly educated and mobile knowledge workers.

Myanmar is extraordinarily cruel to limit Rohingyas Muslims to two children per family. Only Pharoah of the Bible was more cruel when the Hebrews out produce the Egyptians.

Closer to home didn't Mahathir had a long term strategy to shrink the ratio of the Chinese in Malaysia. Alas he ran out of time. There are fewer Malaysian Chinese now but still enough to assert themselves powerfully.

Further away in Israel, Arab Muslim Israelis are also out producing the Jews. This will change the balance of power eventually. Israel's military, economic and technological superiority is unsustainable. Demographics is destiny and the world will have a real time experiment in Japan to draw important lessons.

At home, of course we can accommodate 7 million people but we will not because we have the wrong leaders taking us there. Our leaders would not try hard enough to make sure that the quality of life for most of us would get better despite the population squeeze. Worse, they have a blase attitude about integrating foreigners with the local population. They ignore the failures they see elsewhere. Today there are two sharp examples. Among the elite, one was callous and dumb enough to articulate that uncaring attitude. Ex SMRT CEO, Saw Phaik Hwa had famously retorted, "People can board the train - it is whether they choose to." With such an atas attitude, why would we back this bunch of leaders to a 7 million people society? No where could I find Peter Ong, the head of civil service shows that he gets it either. To them we exists in spreadsheets, powerpoint slides and may be computer models. So even if we have a different government in charge, the admin service leaders wouldn't change. The 7 million people idea is dead in the water. Many of our problems would not be solved. Those who disagree don't know how wishful they are. They are only seeing part of the larger picture.

Najib will survive as PM

Looks like Najib will stay as PM. Our government judged correctly then. Well done.

On my end I know and have admitted in earlier posts this is a learning journey for me. Along the way I find many people who know even less than me talked like experts. It is especially dangerous if they owns credible platforms.

There was this irresponsible stringer for FT Raymond Bonner. He didn't do a good job with the facts before committing to a story in February this year about Shane Todd's death. He would have gotten away if not for our rigorous approach to the facts of the case. I believe he must have been lucky many times before until he encountered us.

Dusting off our Canon Selphy

The daughter needed to print some photos for a school project. I usually send my jobs to snapfish or if in a hurry, go to the shop to get it printed. Unfortunately it was closed today and so we have to dust off our old photo printer for the job. I think it was six or seven years old since I last used it. I was wondering if it would even print! Luckily it worked flawlessly.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

From Angelina Jolie to Ng Eng Hen

What has Angelina Jolie got anything to do with former Education Minister Ng Eng Hen? The link is Andy Ho, at least for me that is.

I never forgive Ng Eng Hen's prevarication on the education statistics on mobility. He declared the less privileged have not become less mobile. Of course eventually he had to humbly climb down when his boss contradicted him, but to me the damage has been done and I will find it very hard to trust him.

I have no time and so Andy Ho provided the data I need to harden my position against Dr. Ng. Andy in his article explained how the breast cancer incidence and markers statistics are read by doctors. Wasn't Dr. Ng a leading breast cancer surgeon? So how could he have been so mistaken about the mobility statistics? It would have made his competence as a surgeon in doubt. I think he was fixed on some dogmas and didn't want to respect the truth. If I my memory serves me well, Tharman was the first to differ and eventually public pressure caused the PM to disagree with him in Parliament too.

We should be wary of trusting ministers like Dr. Ng Eng Hen. He should be sent off like Mah Bow Tan and Raymond Lim. How can he be useful if he doesn't even respect the facts. That's the way to grow out of touch with the people. A great pity Chiam See Tong failed to send him out of Parliament.

Civil Service Head doesn't get it

So what does the Admin Service really think about us or more accurately what they want us to think about them in these two articles. I am afraid Peter Ong missed it, lost it. Don't even need to read the main article. Just the subsidiary one on the Population White Paper would do.

They still don't get it. Too much pride to defend and self esteem to preserve. The admin service was simply out of touch with the people. How else could they have gotten it so wrong? Then they blame the world for changing too quickly. I wished they would just blame themselves as that is the only way to begin to do better.

This is the only bit worth reading is at the end of the article. Peter Ong's counterparts consoled him that we are a far easier bunch to serve. Well the civil service leaders and ministers have been taking us for granted for too long. We must never allow them to sell us cheap so easily again. We were sold for a song such that foreigners especially some Chinese can't helped themselves but tell us that we are being stupid to give away so much for nothing. That's why citizens feel second class to foreigners in our own country.

If Peter Ong thinks it is going to get easier, he is sorely mistaken. Doesn't his radars tell him that we are no less angry when we shot the PAP in 2011 and at the PE months later. Don't say it is the politicians' problem. Look at the Punggol East by election results too.

So stop telling us how and what to think. Quit telling us what our priorities should be especially when it practically mean many of us become chambermaids in Hotel Singapore serving well heeled foreigners. Your plans reduce Singaporeans sans the elites into a nation of supplicants. No wonder you cannot be anything else but out of touch.

Update: 8:40pm

A cursory look suggest there is nothing in common between Bangladesh and us. Theirs is a system riddled with corruption. Ours is governed by the rule of law and corruption is pursued and prosecuted. So what's common? Both sold themselves cheap. They much cheaper. My worry is more with the trend than where we are now. This policy of cutting prices and not trying hard enough to innovate and add value will over time make us poor. In fact it is the most hard working and miserable road to poverty.

We accuse other nations' leaders of kicking the can down the road but we also do the same; only the cans are different.

There is another similarity with every other nation. Our civil service and the PAP rank their interests ahead of the people. They justify themselves that any alternative to them would be worse and rapacious. So they tell us not to complain. But opposition parties whether they are sincere or otherwise could always try to convince people that they put the people ahead of their party interests. They sell a two or multi-party system rather a single dominant party. This is the WP's strategy. Now is the PAP willing to step up to the plate by upping the standard and seize the initiative back from the WP? We shall see in 2016.

The trap of Japan's markets

I wonder if I should not post this to my private investing blog. Nothing there is confidential but I use it as an experiment too to examine how Google might be feeding me adverts.

I have definitely less than half chance of getting this right, may be not even better than 10%

Japan is not America. They should have dropped money from the helicopter if I might borrow the metaphor from Bernanke long ago. Now they want to do it when Debt/GDP is a more than 200% This is frightening. They are doing it when the locals are running out of money to buy JGBs. Instead they will need to cash them for retirement.

My point? America is a price giver to the rest of the world but Japan has become a price taker. Abenomics would come to grief. But as Japan eventually spirals down it might drag America and the rest of us along. Europe can help to make everyone falls faster and harder. Of course I exaggerate. It is never so one dimensional.

Confidence is the bedrock for quantitative easing. Japan could never do a "It's halftime in America, and we are roaring back". They passed up that chance at least ten years ago. Therefore traders are trading your markets short term. Yen short sellers finally got their profits but this is all flash in the pan.

Eventually inflation would not sustain consumption to grow the economy because an ageing population is worried about using up its retirement savings. Japan is going bankrupt. Perhaps she would be selling their IPs for a song first. Its ambitious young would be forced to leave for greener pastures far away from home but language is a huge obstacle. Again, I am probably wrong here because there are smarter routes to the end but I haven't the time to read up and think through. One possible path takes Japan to war, an alarming thought. Abe is a bloody hawk.

I don't doubt the denouement of Japan but the paths that she might take is much harder to fathom and that is where the money is.

Only the two sentences in bold font are useful and true, the rest is imaginative speculative nonsense.

Bossini Polos

IMM has changed so much after the renovations. There are more shops and the place is as crowded as ever.  I imagine it would be worse when the general hospital across the road opens.

I got these polos for a good price. $12 each if I get four. I had wanted to buy the ones at Uniqlo but felt that it was over priced.

I don't like black but I picked one for those times when I have to go to a funeral wake. I think there will be a greater need for it over the next ten years and beyond. Increasingly I have been told so and so parent just passed away.

Let's see how long these four last. I believe I have many polos that go back more than a decade. It was a pity many of them had to discarded. I had put them on hangers for far too long when I took them with me to Dubai.

Attacking LGBTs

I just read this at the TOC. I am reminded that I don't even know what LBGT stands for until last year. For that I have to thank Lawrence Khong.

I am not anti or pro gay. Personally I accept that LBGT exists but I think they are unnatural in the sense that it is not the default outcome by nature. LBGT happens period, and so we gotta to learn to live with them peacefully and constructively. LGBTs must not be persecuted and they must be accorded rights like any non-LGBT because they are humans and also citizens or residents here.

What are these Christians doing attacking Gay SG Confessions? Why can't they just leave them alone? Their behavior smacks of the same mentality which led to the Crusades of the Middle Ages. Instead of marching toward Jerusalem they are marching to war against gay infrastructure. This is completely un-Christian.

On 377A, we should either repeal or enforce it. The current arrangement of leaving it in the statutes but not enforcing it smacks of weakness and political convenience. I wished the government knew how to be shrewder. As is, they don't even bother to be creative. Gays must not live in fear.

Gays must be worrying that the government might one day decide to prosecute them. You never know. On the other hand as long as 377A exists, the Christians would be thinking up ways and eventually putting pressure on the government to act. This will definitely happen if gays succeed at growing their space in our society.

Society must decide and not pretend this is not an issue. If we are honest about this, what we are doing is tantamount to burying our head in the sand. When and what other issues would we be doing the same tomorrow? At minimum the government must not just set a date but periodically review 377A, which will naturally lead to public discussions. Better the gays try to expand their space publicly and those who are against their agenda also respond in broad daylight in debate and negotiations than for both sides to resort to underhanded means battling each other. This is just dangerous and unwise.

Update: 9:00pm

I first came to know about it from the WSJ this morning.

The gays are increasingly successful at expanding their space. This will bolster the confidence of their cousins here and elsewhere. So what is Ps Lawrence Khong and his compatriots going to do?

I wished Christians had been lamps in the darkness and salt of the earth, but I am not in a position to dictate what shape the world takes. History has shown that they are more adept at mounting crusades and acting religious than serve as good samaritans. What ugly Christians. There is no need to be uglier. Gays acquiring more social space is not their success but your failure to show what society could be, something which by and large you have no idea. Don't call unbelievers names when you are mostly no better. You are so unlike Jesus.

Morning at the Botanic Gardens

First photo I took early this morning at the Botanic Gardens with my S110 at f/2 1/5sec ISO 1600

Usually I would come here with wifey. This is the first time I make the trip alone. I only spent an hour in the Gardens and decided to leave because it was starting to drizzle.

Visiting the gardens is a great way to start the day but it is impractical when you have to fetch the kids to school. And yes, parking this time was only 10 cents :-)

Friday, May 24, 2013

Unjust Laws: The Legal-Moral Gap....PAP vs WP

I had wanted to note this in my blog for sometime but keep putting it off: the unjust legal-moral gap in our laws and regulations.

Apple hasn't cheated on taxes but how it planned and paid it taxes is making US law makers and the public see red. Over time the US government had responded to various forms of special interest pressure to craft the tax code to produce the one today. Like many MNCs, Apple just duly took advantage of all provisions which most in the present Zeigeist would call loopholes, and loopholes must be closed. Small firms are not positioned to enjoy them. It was just unfortunate that Apple has been singled out because they are the most successful. This is now starting to publicly begs the question: Where is the justice of it all? The whole arrangement stinks and looks immoral but completely LEGAL. Today there are countless laws and regulations that smell as bad. We have ours too and the most egregious is the GST. But I accept it not because it is fair but as recognition that we are price takers. We have failed to compete on innovation and superior value propositions, so the GST and other freebies to employers are just cutting prices in disguise. This government has decided to take the easy road because it is less risky to their performance and hence electoral security than the risky high road. We will never enjoy superior outcomes because they exist only as counterfactuals. Most people are not able to understand this and what voters cannot understand, government can get away. In fact I am also not being helpful to visiting readers either. I have failed to make myself clearer as that would take some planning and a more lengthy post. Good for you if you are following me thus far. Separately I would be explaining to my kids but with many words and examples.

One of the shrewdest remarks by any politician on the WP was made by LKY when he toured Aljunied GRC. I can't remember the exact words but he was basically warning voters about the nature and motives of WP contesting in the GRC. He might be off about Aljunied residents having five years to repent afterward but he could very well be right if WP forms the government some day. I can tell because I was looking for WP to bring up the courageous possibilities for Singapore which the PAP playing safe failed to entertain.

The PAP is at its best when the easy road is not available. From that we have our SAF, Bilingualism, exchange rate monetary policy, CPF, HDB, New Water etc., But if they could avoid risking it, they would and send delegations overseas to study what others have done (risk management 101) and adapt it back home. I am still waiting for WP to propose their moral equivalent of CPF, HDB, Bilingualism etc., when there is SEEMINGLY (i.e., there are) no pressure to do so. It is because we failed to continuously act with courage until our backs are against the wall that we ended up becoming a price cutter in order to stay competitive. Over time, like in America but not as perverse it shows up with regulations and laws that with wide legal-moral gaps. Laws and regulations become unjust favoring the desirable successful mobile people because they would otherwise make camp elsewhere. The burden on the majority of Singaporeans must keep getting heavier to keep this place attractive to the global rich, connected and talented until a brick wall in the shape of a backlash at the polls happen. Now a frightened PAP is trying to take back from Paul what it had earlier stolen from Peter.

Fortunately the global winds are reversing and what Apple and MNCs are facing in America and Europe could give us the needed respite, but I am guilty of gross over simplification. We just cannot survive against cheaper alternatives under the present global rules. Let this be a lesson to us to always avoid easy roads. We know we could be getting better when our laws become less hypocritical and more just provided they are also sustainable. We must narrow the legal-moral gaps.

We must always play fair but we must be even more shrewd than fair. And Hazel Poa from NSP gets it when she admonished us to "Never Fear". Of course this doesn't mean I have thrown my support behind them. No need to make up one's mind so quickly. Be open minded.

Why am I suddenly thinking about Section 377A? Because I am watching hypocrisy and looking for courage.

Update: 10:30pm

Interns are afraid to report unfair treatment for fear of a bad report. More broadly and accurately they are afraid will land on them badly because of the unequal power in the relationship with the company and school. Don't I do the same when I deal with my kids' schools? But I am clued in enough to know how to play the system but newbies are at the mercy of their environment.

Some gung ho but repressed beyond their limits to bear bus captains went on strike a few months ago. It takes two fists to punch each other but the other more powerful side got away. Some of the striking bus drivers went to jail. Now what is the take away for the rest of us observing all these? Don't make trouble, don't bother with justice. Bear with it as it is only for a while. We do that in school, in NS and also at internships. If you are already working, you change jobs until you can't and may be you will develop some stress related chronic illness.

You can get away with all these if only a small number of people are affected, but those numbers have been growing. Now we have a problem with no easy solutions. We use the WP as a cane and not an alternative to the PAP. WP's Low is shrewd to publicly accept that role. It will win him support until he is ready to go to the next level.

Why are we in this situation? Because we have been selling ourselves cheap or looking at it from the economic point of view, cutting prices to remain in business or just to fatten profits - the latter will accelerate the wealth gap faster than you can narrow it. First we cut taxes to business and the rich and finally we depress the pay of workers and worsen the terms of employment. Oftentimes they get the boot. And it is all legal but starting to border on the immoral. They have started to redress this for the cleaning workers but there is a long way to go.

We are on the road which workers will if not already see the employment laws as unjust. No wonder NTUC chief Lim Swee Say is so unpopular.

Like 377A, they are afraid to touch the laws and regulations. Naive of them to think that they can get results talking softly without swinging a big stick. I know what the government retort would be. We all know. I also know how to respond but I am not telling yet. To them anytime is a good time. I know now is the wrong time, just as WP Low also know. Just as they knew when to reveal this ghost called AIM.

Update: May 27 12:55pm

The fight to get more tax money out of successful MNCs will continue. This is storming strong fortresses and unless there are easier pickings elsewhere, it will go on.

Chicken Rice at Satay Club by the Bay

Happy to see that the chicken rice at Satay Club by the Bay has a line waiting to order. I used to see him with no customers and I thought it must be really tough for him. How to make a living? A few times when I was there, he wasn't even open for business.

Wheelchairs at GBB

Almost without fail I would see people in wheelchair whenever I visited the GBB. Today's visit was no exception. In fact I thought there were more wheelchairs than ever, and I welcome this very much!

I wonder if its designers had thought of this. What a bonus and blessing that those confined to them found it convenient and enjoyable to go.

Mum vs Woodlich Terrorists

Not that I minded but I would have only come to know about this much later if not for my friend in Seattle emailing me about this.

The mail came with a subject line, "the incredible bravery of women in London yesterday". I didn't think there was a woman involved. I thought the police arrived and shot the two when they tried to attack them.

I read her email and hunted down the YouTube clip of this courageous woman, Ingrid Loyau-Kennett. British media have reported her brave act widely. She represented the best of what is British, a throwback to the blitz. This is the hidden strength of Britons which is often hidden. What we have often been presented were the louts and hooligans especially around soccer.

Dr Wong Mun Tat on a College Education

Today is Vesak day and we could all be at home. It is raining outside and when you have the freedom to not go anywhere the rain is a joy to watch and I can't help but see them as showers of blessings :-)

I just discussed this Letter to the Forum by Dr. Wong Mun Tat with the Children. I have often told them that they need to have faith in their studies. Radio DJs are often unhelpful casting aspersions on their education. Didn't help at all the stupid lyrics of many songs for example, "Don't know much about biology...don't much about history..." what fools, but hey, these singers are very rich! Yeah, rich and famous but ignore the laws of probabilities and worse the ovarian lottery at your peril. This is the land of Extremistan, get smart, bone up on option theory, gird yourself before you play.

Except one point, Dr. Wong said is best. I think he is off about Quantum Theory. So many of our gadgets would not be possible without it, and none of these were anticipated. Curious and creative minds were just trying to understand what and how this world came to be. That is may be the closest you could get to exploring Eden.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

City Harvest Church: What Crossover Project?

This is unbelievable. These six lawyers as are hard to believe. To me they are pushing on a string. They argue like City Harvest Church is a sovereign state within sovereign Singapore! They live by another set of rules. Our laws stop at their doors. Why do they even bother to be part of the charities framework? This is totally disingenuous.

Religion is really troublesome. I just heard on radio how two terrorists killed a British trooper in broad daylight in the name of Allah. These men were warped and evil. That's not Islam.

I suspected religion and in this instance, Christianity was what caused Mary and Rick Todd to desperately hold out for proof that their son didn't kill himself. Christians believe those who kill themselves will go to hell. Huawei was a convenient bogeyman to pursue their aims. They could use that to get the US government to act. Now with all their blatant lies, half truths and stretching the truth, they are horrible examples of their religious faith. I believe they now have zero credibility with many of us. Even the western media no longer believe them.

Back to Project Crossover, it is best to quote SC Michael Khoo absurd argument here. He is not stupid but I think he can't find a better argument. This line of defence also help retain the church members' support.

That project was the church's main vision and mission, they argued. It was meant to convert people to Christianity via Ms Ho's secular music. To do that, Ms Ho, who previously sang gospel music at church services, had to "cross over to secular music", said Senior Counsel Michael Khoo.
If the church had directly funded the project and people outside of the church came to know of its involvement, that might have "defeated the purpose", said Mr Khoo. Thus, the church needed external companies such as Xtron Productions to fund and manage Ms Ho's career.

Patent nonsense. So is the good SC Khoo and CHC suggesting that subterfuge is an acceptable way to gain converts? This is really sneaky. Again and again I am reminded I prefer to call myself a follower of the Way than a Christian. We who lived by the examples of the people in scripture down to more later times like Francis of Assisi, John Banyan, George Mueller, William Wilberforce, Mother Teresa, Desmond Tutu...are badly out numbered by these unrecognizable disciples. I am even beginning to think they made a bargain with the Devil which the Christ refused. This is one of the rare moments I resort directly to the Bible.

From the Gospel of Matthew Chapter 4

Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor.“All this I will give you,” he said, “if you will bow down and worship me.”

I wonder, really wonder, the likes of  CHC have not made this bargain with the Devil. Their methods smack completely like the methods of the Deceiver, which is another name for Satan. The heroes of the faith gain followers through meekness and weakness, not arrogance and strength. Through lack rather than plenty; poverty rather than prosperity....and certainly with honesty rather than deception.

And from John Chapter 8 but there are numerous similar allegations of Satan

44 For you are the children of your father the devil, and you love to do the evil things he does. He was a murderer from the beginning. He has always hated the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, it is consistent with his character; for he is a liar and the father of lies.

Why are you grinning from ear to ear Khong Hee? Those were facetious arguments. Oh, the Todds were lying without compunction too. Note to self: Mary Todd is a pastor.

Stars response to our car prices

Posts in this blog on politics are for helping me decide who to back in the next GE. Purchase posts to help me track the goods I buy especially if they were smart buys. I have also come to realize quite a few were for my children's education too but the most valuable and hardest to decide whether to write about are posts are like this one - They are like photos you shoot, hard to tell if it is worth keeping but if you choose the right ones, it is the biggest reason why I have this blog; to enjoy them much later like we all enjoy old photos.

Priceless expressions of our out of this world car prices from the stars of Fast & Furious. What a way to remember COE prices at this point in time.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Vintage Mahathr but don't be deceived

Never imagine that I would be blogging about this old fox Mahathir. This is one character which I wouldn't be surprised that history will judged him far more severely when what he had sowed during his years of premiership catches up with him. Some bits are already starting to appear.

Don't be beguiled by him. He had a hypnotic influence over too many people. How do I explain what he has said is nonsense; lies dressed up as simple logic and passed off as true. If you pushed him further, he would likely say just look next door in Thailand and then wiggle off to another direction. He was frustrating for our leaders to work with, always changing his mind and stretching the meaning of words.

Mahathir's strategy of deception is like a good movie which is believable but false. I can think of several: Jurassic Park, Da Vinci Code and the X-files series on TV. There are many more. He is a master of gross over simplification. If you know the subject well, i.e. the details and the relationships among the details, you know he is a fraud.

1. Arab Spring had overwhelming support from the people. This is not true yet for Malaysia. He hadn't used Thailand as an example because it didn't succeed at bringing down the government.

2. Point 2 is just padding. You could skip that but he needed it to join up with his next point.

3. Again nonsense. In Malaysia unlike the Arab states people are unhappy but not to the same degree or as angry as those over there. Furthermore in Syria, Assad uses brutal force. He is still standing. In fact the rebels could not win without massive external help. Nobody is going to provide Malaysian rebels such support.

4. Point 4 is padding too. Skip.

5. My Point 1 and Point 3 would make Mahathir's Point 5 untenable. It simply isn't going to happen.

The rest of his points are now not worth discussing except I like the cleverness as usual of how he rounds it up at the end because this is what most people would take away after they have long forgotten what he had said earlier. Hearers would agree with him that street demonstrations are a dangerous and terrible idea.

Vintage Mahathir is a first rate communicator but in half truths and twisted truths.