Thursday, January 31, 2013

SG Land Use: The End of US

I got this from ST '5,600 hectares more land for bigger population: Land Use Plan'

As I moved my mouse pointer over those circles, it dawn on me that we are going to become one big construction site in a hurry. I find the prospect revolting.

I am not bothering to explain the reasons from Chaos and Complexity Science here but I know they are going to screw up. There will not be congestion everywhere but there will be bad and surprising jams ambushing us, i.e., poor quality of living. Everyone will have to carry a GPS or use the unit in their smart phone to constantly check traffic and prepare to re-route. Good luck if you are riding a bus, only cars have re-routing options. Now I am only foreseeing what's like with a limited imagination. It would be worse. Meanwhile the elites (riding in cars that re-route around congestions) will enjoy the lion share of the fruits but the hoi polloi will pay the price.

By the way, who is studying the water and energy needs of such an enlarged population?

I think the PAP government could be voted out mid way before this become reality. Also like I had written in an earlier post, what make them so sure if you build the FTs will come? We might, damn it, have to price ourselves down to get them in. The trouble with all these plans is that it extrapolates into the future. It is a sure way to get it wrong as over time there are bound to be discontinuities. There is no flexibility or wisdom behind the thinking that produce these plans.

This is a terrible plan that rewards and entrenches the bad low quality economic policies of the PAP government. It is an industrial age mindset of pumping more and more inputs to get growth instead of counting on innovation and creativity. This is the result of their long years of tight top down control of the economy. Innovation and creativity is bottom up.

This government doesn't understand any alternative strategy beyond first world goods and services at third world prices - Didn't I just say we might have to price down earlier on and aren't we already doing so now and depressing wages as a result? You can forget about work life balance. We will get the big population but the three promises of the Population White Paper will only be a mirage. Because if they try to pass on first world wages, like SIA we can't compete. Why should citizens support this?

This government will promise the sky but have us end up in tears and chanting the mantra of better, cheaper and faster or starve. Then we will get high growth (easily 6% or more because of the building works) better than their projection in the White Paper till 2030 but our best and brightest will leave faster than ever. Quitters will re-enter our lexicon eh? But they are smart to leave before it is too late. You don't get quality and vibrancy when you are competing on price.

Update: 2:15pm

Just found this on CNA, "2 new commercial belts to bring jobs closer to homes"

Sounds good on paper but in real life it doesn't work well unless the commercial belts are separated far enough to discourage executives, couriers on motorbikes etc., moving between belts and contributing immensely to off peak vehicular traffic. In bigger countries, you don't on a whim drive or fly from NY to Chicago. But we our small island people will be driving to and fro between these commercial belts. Sometimes the same people do more than one round trip even in a business day.

Also with our years of town planning experience to imagine that people will live near where they work is naive. You go where there is a suitable job and what is the chance that it would be near where you live? Secondary school students very often can't walk to their schools unlike primary ones because their PSLE T-scores invariably send them much farther away. Our planners are so wishful and theoretical. More likely just like AIMgate they never bother to think through this thoroughly. It is like some say, they have made up their mind to grow the population and are now looking for justifications. That's why their arguments look so weak.  They have hidden nefarious motives?

Update: 9:30pm

I talked about congestion in my main post and here is a concrete example. 6.9 million people will occasionally have a large proportion of them congregate at a spot....

  • Roy Tay Higher per capita GDP does NOT equate higher standard of living, if overcrowding & high cost of living persist... 

    One very good example: I can't bear to see the day when I can't even step foot into Chinatown during CNY festive season by 2030... No matter how many flats & railways the Govt build, it cannot channel crowds away from certain public places during festive, public holidays. Then what's the point of building Garden by the Bay, isn't it? Wake up before its too late, this immigration-led model is politically suicide for PAP.
    2 hours ago via mobile · Like · 7

Also look at how dishonest the picture from the PM's facebook page is. Can you imagine that there will be so few people? I think you can get his sometimes in 2030 as the occasional exception.


Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Ichiban Sushi Yu Sheng

Had our first yu sheng last night at Ichiban sushi.

Must remember to ask them to only use half the sweet sauce next time.

The waiter can't remember the auspicious words but I told him don't bother. We don't care for them. We only want to have our salad!

Good value about $21 for the small one.

Death in the family: Grand Uncle

I was at the wake yesterday together with my siblings. My aunt told me he passed away very peacefully in his sleep. I replied that all of us want to go like him but most of us are likely to suffer quite a bit before going.

A very simple funeral just like my grand aunt had. That's the way to go.

Lessons from losing Nigel and Donovan

This post is for the safety of my kids on the roads and especially to warn them about what the school and government might without using their brains tell them.

Can you believe the MOE said that? The following is what happen when safety is a collective responsibility save for some work ethic left, it is not as bad as in the picture below.

Children, safety is not a collective responsibility. SAFETY IS YOUR RESPONSIBILITY.  In an accident you are the one that get hurt or killed not anyone sharing the collective responsibility! They educate our kids with academics but not common sense! Just as when driving on the roads I often tell the rest of the family riding with me when I suffered at the hands of inconsiderate or unsafe motorists or pedestrians that I don't care who is in the right, my job is to avoid the accident. I never bring the ego into this. It is just stupid.

Now if the government, schools enact additional measures, and other road users are considerate, good for you. The rule of safety is even if they are utterly reckless you must still get out safe. Come on, even military special forces are trained this way. If only I could tell Nigel and Donovan! But I would also have told them not to cycle on our terrifying roads. Lives are just too precious to give up in a road accident.

If the kids at Tampines continue to bike to and from school, what is the government going to do to make sure that it is safe enough? I hope Baey Yam Keng (He is a good MP)  would own this. It is a bad idea to entrust this to a nameless organization like the LTA which excels at learning slowly by making painful mistakes.

No Population White Paper

I finally found a little time to quickly read the White Paper. I am afraid it is a deeply flawed document but based on one inalienable truth of civilization on this planet: Grow economically or perish. This is a life and death point most people fail to appreciate. Our whole way of life is founded on growth. Look at countries without growth; it is hell. Smart politicians fear recession as much as they fear going to war. So people get real. I know some people can only learn some lessons the hard way, but don't let this be one of them. It is a mistake that we cannot recover from.

Another huge problem is nobody knows how to grow without adding people. That is why the government have produced this White Paper.

The greatest weakness of this White Paper isn't the 7 million pop target by 2030. It is a huge and nasty problem. I hate the idea but there is actually a much greater problem we have all missed. We assume that we will remain attractive enough over the next 17 years that they will make a beeline to come here. It would be very careless of our leaders to make this assumption.

In an ideal world we want to keep this place vibrant without 7 million people half of which will be foreign. We want to produce as much output and quality as 7 million people with 5 million. If we could do that, everyone wants to relocate to Singapore but we would also be forced to reject them - too crowded here.

In the real world as cities in Asia boom, we may no longer be attractive to draw away even their average talent to come here. Just consider how we are quickly becoming a poor proposition for Chinese workers as wages in China keep rising. We are also exploring new sources for foreign domestic workers because we can't afford their higher prices.

In the real world, we will have to sell out by pricing down to the point where we are sufficiently attractive for them to come.

The White Paper assumes they will come. The future for us may be one where we have to produce at the level of 7 million by 2030 with a much smaller and greying population. If we can't do that, we will compete with lower prices, longer hours and dystopian work conditions. We will look back and say we had past our golden age. Our best and brightest will leave for better opportunities elsewhere like what New Zealanders are already doing.

Gosh! Singapore could really be failing as she is being over taken by more and more cities in Asia. These bunch of leaders aren't up to the task. This White Paper on population is meaningless.

In short like a few others have pointed out ad nausem, our growth and development paradigm is a dying horse we flogged too hard but our leaders fail to recognize much less acknowledge. If you desire a canary in the coalmine, just look at SIA trying to be successful with its old ideas. 

To  be fair to LHL, it is true that the task before him is actually much harder than what LKY had to confront.

As George Yeo posted to his Facebook page: Whither Singapore? This chap understands. LHL should hold another by election and bring him back to Government. And don't clip his wings like before. He has lots more foresight than you Mr. PM. If I am right, the WP will not challenge him. He might even enjoy a walkover! I believe this is the wish of the people.

Related: How we could have gotten ourselves into this position: Government lacking 20/20 foresight and the poverty of values.

Update: 9:20am

I rarely read the comments in other peoples' blogs and I hope you don't miss the comment by JG below. Sure I am blogging for myself but once in a while there are exceptions. This is one of those rare moments. I can't write what JG had so quickly shared. What shall I say? Sometimes we have to be misunderstood on purpose. Have you ever read two good books which yield more than four good books but you cannot combine the two books into one tome? Human nature makes life complicated. c'est la vie.

So after reading, THINK about it. I am a lazy, time starved blogger.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Govt lacked 20/20 foresight? The PM poverty of values

I am quite busy today and it is such a pleasure to have someone articulate part of how I feel about the PM view that the government lacked 20/20 foresight.

Singapore only got here because of the foresight of earlier leaders. Without that the courage and hard work would have amount to nothing. I can think of quite a few examples but I would just name two: Port Containerization. Lim Kim San foresaw it before all others and equipped our port to do that. Imagine what the future of this place would be liked if we had been late doing that. Next, we had just upgraded Paya Lebar at great cost when Lee Kuan Yew struggled over creating Changi Airport. Now whither Singapore without Changi? As for the incumbent PM, he is a more brilliant student than mom and dad. Would have made a world class mathematician but strategic thinking isn't his forte. He is only a technical thinker, good at tinkering with what he can see. Unfortunately this is not his greatest weakness and that is why I am blogging about it on a very busy day.

Again I am lucky to be able to begin by leveraging on someone else work: Michelle Obama's DNC speech.

And I've seen how the issues that come across a President's desk are always the hard ones – the problems where no amount of data or numbers will get you to the right answer...the judgment calls where the stakes are so high, and there is no margin for error.
And as President, you can get all kinds of advice from all kinds of people.
But at the end of the day, when it comes time to make that decision, as President, all you have to guide you are your values, and your vision, and the life experiences that make you who you are.

Yes, it was the poverty of values of this PM that led him to make those decisions that has taken us to the present state our society is in. One which he now easily loses elections. He doesn't really care for the people. He serves Singapore as a concept; not breathing, flesh and blood Singaporeans. He expects us like the CCP do to the Chinese to "eat bitterness" for the sake of the nation, which is the euphemism for a select group of people which will do better with his policies and do not suffer the squeeze and the higher cost of living like the rest of us because his policies help their rising incomes outpaced inflation by a mile. 

Today Singapore has one true value: Money. The rest are only only rhetoric and for dressing up to look good. This is a disaster in the making.

Update: 5pm

My kids told me it is the same in school. They are all tasked to bring glory to the school. Some feel used to that end. Far too many are too immature to realize what's happening. They are being trained from young to "eat bitterness". However those who can bring the school extraordinary glory will have a share of the spoils. If they keep at it, they will someday join the ranks of the elites. At that point, they get the lion share of the gains we serfs helped to produce and the losses are conveniently socialized. For a more intellectually rigorous understanding, read Nassim Taleb's latest book, "Antifragile"

Update: Jan 31, 11:35am

Click on pic to read article.

Cement truck kills two young brothers

I was quiet much of last evening after reading an earlier version of this. I had also received news of a death in the family.

At 4am this morning I saw that my good old friend posted on his  facebook.

Sad day. 
2 young brothers on their bicycles was killed by cement mixer truck. 
If you read this , do pray for the breaved parents. 
Feel so sorry for them

You know the sort of prayer where there are no words? This is it. The pain is like looking down a well with no bottom.

I have blogged here sometime that I gave up cycling on the roads ever since the roads here become so dangerous.

I wished I could tell all parents to forbid their kids from cycling on the roads. Why must we repeat the painful history of the Dutch here. Yes, today the Netherlands is a cycling paradise but how many knew they had paid a very heavy price of cycling fatalities before the government acted. Unfortunately the small Netherlands is many times bigger than tiny Singapore. Where are we going to get the commitment to find space to make cycling safer? Again and again the LTA could not even get its act together to make our roads safer. Motorists run red lights all the time! Speed limits are meaningless to many of them too especially those in Ferraris. May be I noticed them more because they are so noisy.

Update: 9:20pm

Cycling on our roads is sometimes a terrifying experience.

Update: 10pm
Francis Yap, the father of the dead brothers

Monday, January 28, 2013

WP: How to win together

I have every reason to be proud of my fellow Singaporeans. Where on the face of this earth do people vote for an opposition with such beliefs and action? How could such an opposition even exist? What you see everywhere is when you are in opposition, you oppose. It is an adversarial system. Lee Kuan Yew never expected something like this to be possible. It is the only way to successfully challenge the PAP. All other political (I didn't say opposition) parties watch and learn!

The WP have no secret manual for success. It is really up to the rest to swallow their pride and do likewise, then we shall all be winners.

This is what they mean by a First World Parliament. Well it doesn't exist anywhere else. Just like the PAP was once upon a time a very unusual political party and government.

The PAP must stop being superficial. What you do isn't as important as showing a genuine change of heart in truly putting the people first. When you do that you will find us surprisingly patient. The PAP might have to sack quite a few of its self seeking members to achieve this heart transplant. There is no way to win if you have lost your moral authority. And if you are stupid enough to fix the WP, I am sure citizens will make sure you have no opportunity to even repent. It is far smarter to compete with the WP in parliament than to fight us everywhere outside.

Hear PAP! Only one BIG IDEA: Put the people first. Not faking it and using it as an excuse to achieve something else. In other words, don't copy the CCP. Then the struggling CCP will find you curious and worth the bother again given your diminished stature after the PE defeat.

Unlike the PAP, the WP does not want to be the government at the expense of the people. That is the tradition of China's mythical early emperors. Somehow we have the audacity of hope to show that it wasn't myth.

Then we just might have something special not found anywhere else to offer the gridlocked Americans even.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

PE: The impact on our foreign partners

Just came in my email....'suffered a heavy loss Saturday in a by-election billed as a test of its record in tackling rising socio-economic tensions, adding pressure on the government to do more to help citizens'

Fortunately we aren't an outlier. All governments in the world today face similar pressure. On the other hand it could be a setback for us in our relations with China. We become less valuable to them because now they notice that the methods this government employ do not yield good results as hoped.

Ok, let's not be so superficial. The Chinese never really wanted to learn from us as we thought they would. We were too arrogant and thought too highly of ourselves. We are useful for their politics and propaganda. Still the result is the same: the PAP model is less useful to them now.

As for the Americans I think they are happy to see we are marching toward more realistic democracy. Meanwhile ruling parties in our neighborhood would dearly trade to have the same power and dominance the PAP still enjoy.

What is key is that our leaders' gravitas with Chinese leaders have diminished. That's why and more George Yeo earlier today asked on his Facebook page: whither Singapore?

Update: Jan 30, 11:15pm

Koh Poh Koon's conversion is complete

Two days ago I detected that Koh Poh Koon was successfully being converted after repeated seduction to join the Sith by the top Darth.

Now with this very public line, Koh Poh Koon's conversion to the dark side is now complete. What would Darth Draconis moniker for him be?

Inspiration from Pest Busters Thomas Fernandez

I love this story about the founder of Pest Busters, Thomas Fernandez. His story should inspire our young and I am glad he isn't the only one. I should begin to record them here each time I come across any.

Sim Wong Hoo had trekked a similar path in a different industry.

My favorite from this story.

PE By Election: Now that the results are out

I was up at 5am. Before long I was checking mail on my iPad and surprised that Bertha Henson would stayed up to write up on this by election. I didn't sleep till past midnight but I suppose many had kept up longer before turning in. It was hard to read her article when the eyes were still unused to the brightness. Most times, I check my mail on the S3 which is easier on the eyes. 

So did I predict the outcome correctly? I suggested why Koh Poh Koon would lose. Then I thought how his chances might have increased because of his conversion to the 'dark side'. But most important I wrote that I wasn't interested in what I predict but to see and hear what the voters want and read their message accurately. 

Now I quote myself in a Jan 23rd post, 'Why I think Koh Poh Koon will lose'

At the end of the day, I am not as much interested if Koh Poh Koon or Lee Li Lian wins as what it tells me about the voters of PE and to what extend it is true of the rest of tiny Singapore. I would be more optimistic about our future if the WP wins this round. It would show the maturity and wisdom of the voters. I am not sure this will happen because even a veteran newspaper person like Bertha Henson fails to recognize or understand Low Thia Khiang's shrewd strategy. I thought she looked at the whole issue too superficially. 

When the results were announced last night, there was a roar of joy in my neighborhood. It sounded like the Lions had scored a goal in some soccer match. Read Bertha Henson, she describes it much better than I ever could. 

A good conceptual framework to understand  (remember frameworks have limits!) the PAP loss coincidentally happened to be found in a book that I am currently half way through. See 'Moods and Markets: A New Way to Invest in Good Times and in Bad' It will explain why the PAP will continue to lose support. The way the PM had responded on how he intend to press on his national plans pretty much point in that direction. 

A screenshot from the book.

The PAP government is making policies in the moral equivalent of the top right corner but voters are living in the moral equivalent of the bottom left corner. A sure vote loser. Prepare to yield more constituencies to the WP in the next GE if you fail to be where voters are. 

Sorry, I haven't made myself as clear as I would have like to. I think this post might attract a lot of readers because a couple of related posts had attracted thousands. Had I not been reading this book, I would perhaps explain myself better but that would demand more effort and I am a lazy writer blogging for myself. 

I had expected to be wrong about this by election and that is the only thing I am sure I got right. Some readers might disagree but that is my evolving secret to be profitable. People should start worrying about interest rates. 

Update: 6:50am

I just came from reading Chua Mui Hoong at Singapolitics. I quote her to illustrate why I say the PAP lives in the top right of the graph above. 

The PAP government even timed the announcement of billion-dollar projects to boost public transport, healthcare, and parenthood incentives during the campaign week. It has also tried to tackle issues of housing, immigration and transport that angered voters in 2011.
All that appeared to have little impact on voters.

Confidence and trust in the PAP have seriously eroded. They want to see improvement now. Asking them to wait is non sequitur when you have had so many broken promises. To add insult to injury the PAP wouldn't eve admit something as basic as this! Carry on with your vote losing plans. Meanwhile the WP is beefing up their bench of talent in a hurry. The PAP goes talent hunting but I suspect talent is knocking on WP's door. As my friend messaged me, the white clouds are clearing for the blue sky. 

Update: 7:15am

I love this line from Low Thia Khiang and I believe many Singaporeans too.

Aware of the possible heightened expectations, WP chief Low Thia Khiang told reporters that the party is prepared to assist the PAP-led Government in working harder to improve life for Singaporeans.

As I have repeated myself ad nausem in many posts to this blog. It was as simple as showing voters that Singaporeans and not just Singapore in the abstract is number one. Unlike the PAP, their party is their number one. 

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Outcome of PE by election

I cannot tell how voters now casting their ballots would choose to be their MP. You learn in the markets to ignore what you prefer and accept what the markets tell you. Takes many years to learn this. Whatever will be, will be. The voters' choice would be respected.

However you work it out quietly the significance of each outcome. I don't agree with TKL especially when he proffer his views outside financial planning. But I like the guy for his straight talking ways and plain courage.

I can only go by my own experience over several past elections. Many of us vote for the PAP as a package. There are many policies we dislike and a few key ones which we believe in. We grudgingly give them the vote especially when the alternative is not credible. My guess is that most of us are like that.

More important, those of us who do not live in Punggol East, we are likely to connect the dots we have and leave out many important dots to form the picture. Just because you can connect the dots well doesn't mean you are right. I have learned this lesson many times.

I think it was very significant that Li Lian managed to knock on every door in the estate. In the end whether we are honest enough to admit it; in fact the psychologists have strong evidence now, we vote with our hearts.

If trust for the PAP had eroded further, we will know tonight. No point guessing. Few of us are in the know.

Desmond Lim should keep trying if he is convicted of his role. Certainly he is not like those pastors fighting to keep 377A who have no skin in the game. I think he grew his faith from his experience with Chiam See Tong.

Kenneth Jeyaretnam, to me he fails to understand that he must represent the people than his late father. He is not like JBJ just as LHL isn't like LKY. Be your own man. I wouldn't be surprised if he polled the worst this time.

Now I am going to visit this post tomorrow morning to discover that I am far off the mark. This is just like the markets, you cannot get it right often enough to make money. Yet you have to figure a way to be profitable. Very character building. As Mother Teresa said, you learn to be humble only through humiliations. I laughed to myself when they present PAP candidates as humble. They sure know how to put on and act. You may not be able to explain it but you will know when you press the flesh. It was absolutely vital that Li Lian knocked on every door!

Friday, January 25, 2013

Schadenfreude: Singtel over M1

Look at what Singtel just smsed me minutes ago. Isn't this as good as the restitution M1 is giving to their subscribers after their 64 hours service outage?

Sure makes M1 looks terrible. Smart move by Singtel. May be they might even absorb M1 sometime? I didn't check M1 financials but my sense is that they cannot compete successfully against the other players in the long run.

Police investigating Pastor Yang

I saw this while waiting for the prata man to cook our dinner. I had blogged about the stupidity of Pastor Yang a few days ago. See what's happening now. The police is investigating him.

No problem if you need to apply pressure on him for him not to make trouble and upset our social peace. He will cave in like Rony Tan had a couple of years ago.

These pastors are after ministry success. They have no skin in the game. These aren't the old apostles Peter and John who defied the Sanhedrin and continue telling others about Jesus.

To be fair, these churches have done a lot of good work but they have also misrepresented Christ. Unfortunately given their huge branding and presence they are what most outsiders would consider Christians to be.

Philip Yancey has written a good book on who Jesus is. See 'The Jesus I Never Knew'. It is also available at our libraries.

We have both the hard copy and kindle versions at home.

Daughter at the soup kitchen

My daughter loves to message me when she is on the train. Today's exchange is more interesting than usual. She was at a soup kitchen earlier in the morning as a volunteer. An eye opening experience for her. Very good!

I don't know who provided the veggies. They look good on top of the basket but below it was real nasty. This evening she told me she wouldn't do it even if for thousands for dollars but then she was there to help and believed in what she was doing.

Mother Teresa once said for a million bucks she wouldn't want to care for lepers, but for Christ, yes.

Koh Poh Koon's conversion to the Dark Side

Koh Poh Koon conversion to the "dark side" is now complete but he will need to grow in strength yet. No more the conflicted good doctor. He has probably become realistic. The seduction of power is irresistible. Nothing is more seductive. In fact Kissinger recognized and called it the ultimate aphrodisiac. I once saw how Vivian Balakrishnan went to join the Sith. His path was different as he had a walk over.

This is a high stakes game. You cannot win if voters see through your conflicted state of mind. Therefore he just might win but on the other hand many voters have become more familiar with the Sith and decide not to back the "dark side"

I am not alone in feeling this way. See this YouTube clip from the 2011 elections.

 The latest example of how the "dark side" speaks and how the "Rebel Alliance" call it out. Look at the number of likes!

Flower Story: My Favorite on Facebook

Flower Story is my far and away favorite on Facebook. They post so often and most of the pics are good. I thought I would celebrate this Friday morning reminding myself how much I enjoy their pictures.

Many of the pics I downloaded from them are much better than the one shown here. Nevertheless this pic has special meaning for me. It reminded me of how we wanted to decorate our place when we first moved into Pine Grove. We wanted a botanical theme.

Update: 11:20 am

I'm back at Facebook and found two more pics from Flower Story. They just make the experience of using Facebook so much better!

Thursday, January 24, 2013

The Inhumanity of Gan Kim Yong

I spotted this earlier and left a comment. When I came back I saw a few people agreed with me. The number of respondents had grown to 71.

I scrolled down and saw TOC had also shared the same article and why Gan Kim Yong said well what he had to say. Dumb! See how much vitriol he had provoked on both the CNA and TOC posts.

Why was it dumb? Because it would have been better to have kept quiet than respond to the media and remove all doubt!

Many respondents basically said the same thing in many different ways: if the elderly sick cannot pay for today's healthcare what is there to worry about tomorrow?

For policy wonks which all these ministers claim to be, I echo Keynes famous remark in his General Theory: in the long run we are all dead.

Eclectic use of economics and self interested politics is the bible of the PAP government. To them we are consumers and daft voters. We are not humans. They totally missed the point and so they are getting their well deserved brickbats.

Caring for our elderly is tantamount to caring for ourselves. It is as basic and decent as being human beings. Oh, I forgot the PAP ministers do not think we are humans.

The Americans have a dysfunctional healthcare system that could lead them to bankruptcy. The British NHS is not working and this government is happy to use it to teach my kids in social studies why our system is better.

But at least the Americans will keep their sense of humanity and as per their history will call upon their Yankee innovativeness and sacrifice to find a solution. They might fail but it is worth taking the chance to keep our humanity than to think and live like Aldous Huxley Brave New World.

If we lose our humanity we lose our reason to exist. Simple as that.

It is just life. Some lessons must be learned the hard way. Astute leaders will try to prepare the nation to go through it. Foolish leaders like what ours have become try to avoid it and end up dehumanizing ourselves which will surely destroy our souls and bodies as well.

Indeed the PAP is in a hurry working themselves out of office eventually. Get this into your hard hearts. Voters are living, breathing,  flesh and blood humans and not economic units in your stupid text books you scored your As in.

We paid them the highest salaries to avoid or solve problems in a world class way but they end up re-framing problems into smaller ones so that they can give themselves As afterward. Then they wonder why we are so unhappy. This is what happen to those who are trained to be obsessed with As all their school lives. They bring the bad habit to their careers. It is an addiction.

Another box of eye patch

This is taking longer than expected. We  started on the second box recently. I had thought the first 20 were way more than enough! At least my solution work, the doctor's treatment was pretty useless but money I needed to spend to get the pressure off me because I am not a doc.

You know how many inadequate docs there are out there? I recommend reading, "How Doctors Think"

Lots of docs had a much easier time explaining stuff to my brother and I when our parents were sick.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Why I think Koh Poh Koon will lose

Whoever in his right mind would do what Dr. Koh Poh Koon is doing, i.e., standing on a PAP ticket for a by election when the mind and heart remain conflicted. Any doubt must by now be settled. It is difficult to win otherwise. 

Trying to be your own man against the party's policies and ideology is an oxymoron. Go look for another party that you can fundamentally align with if you want to be in politics. I saw how an overwhelming number of pastors are obsessed with ministry success (big church, large membership, big money) and I opted out when I can't find a niche in a congregation. I noticed some are able to find a pocket for themselves but I was not as fortunate as they are. I still try to find my way back. My point for Koh Poh Koon? You can find a niche in the PAP to serve the people. In fact you have at Telok Blangah. But it is terribly hard to do it as an MP and impossible as a minister. 

Hear what his wife said about his campaign:

Even my wife said, "See, you want to help people, but they don't want your help"

You seems a very good man. I think they want your help but not under the PAP banner. I thought it would be a tough fight between the PAP and WP then. Now I think the PAP is going to lose and that may be a blessings in disguise for you. 

At the end of the day, I am not as much interested if Koh Poh Koon or Lee Li Lian wins as what it tells me about the voters of PE and to what extend it is true of the rest of tiny Singapore. I would be more optimistic about our future if the WP wins this round. It would show the maturity and wisdom of the voters. I am not sure this will happen because even a veteran newspaper person like Bertha Henson fails to recognize or understand Low Thia Khiang's shrewd strategy. I thought she looked at the whole issue too superficially. 

Update: 10:05am

I just came from reading Tan Cheng Bock's latest facebook note. See

Reading the response, all the more I think PAP will lose this by election.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Preparing DVD movies

I have not done this for at least five years? It's fun to do this again. Can't get the DVD here yet and so had to resort to such measures.

The Chinese are amazing at making all sorts of things available.

Caltex Hong Bao Envelopes

Very amusing hong bao packets from Caltex this year. They are made to commemorate the year of the snake. It even have little round stickers to seal the packet after you have put money into them.

Loving money more than your job

This is a reminder for those in positions of highest responsibilities but love their money, perks and status more than their jobs.

Under his leadership JAL has successfully emerged from bankruptcy and more.

The Coming Crusade against LGBT

I didn't have time to blog yesterday. I believe I read this on my S3 while having lunch.

I know their mentality well since I came from that warped faith nursery long ago. Earlier I had blogged about them turning this into a crusade. This is early evidence of that.

My God is the God of Job, Mother Teresa, John Newton and Francis of Assisi etc,. I don't recognize the God of Pastor Khong or Yang.

Fortunately these leaders are cowards. Just invite them for kopi at the ISD and it will become clear.

If you visit the church website, you will find that they had already redacted what is shown at TOC.

What crazy battles were they thinking? This is what their purported boss said about fighting.

Jesus answered, "My Kingdom is not an earthly kingdom. If it were, my followers would fight to keep me from being handed over to the Jewish leaders. But my Kingdom is not of this world." John 18:36

Just in case, please don't use William Wilberforce to legitimize your battles. I am not serious of course, but why don't you push for criminalizing adultery as well? How many Christians are secretly indulging in sexual sins and how insidiously it is wrecking their families. Don't strain at gnats and swallow camels.

Update: 10:15am

Found this at Today Online: Debate over Section 377A intensifies

Update: 11:20am

I wasn't sure about penning this earlier because it is damning. I know how these pastors think since I grew up in such churches. My take is that these pastors were after the low hanging fruits. Christian must do christian things, which they call discipleship. So they go out to save the world. and they want to save the LGBT. The real work is painfully and often tearfully encouraging their flock to holy living. That's too hard and nearly all of them crave ministry success like CEOs in the private sector (Don't you see them copying their methods?). Because their hidden agenda is a selfish and self deluded one (they think they are doing God's work) an invitation to kopi at ISD and they easily wilt. That's why I called them cowards earlier.

In the end the LGBT are the convenient bogeyman for these pastors. If they truly want to engage the LGBT with Gospel love, go directly to them. Why pressure the government? But they saw voters have become bolder and they thought to themselves, it is safe for us to press the government too. That is silly.

Three deaths in a short time

I chided my daughter last night for failing to tell me early that her classmate's father had passed away. She is a China scholar from Harbin. Not the same one we went out of our way to help get a Kindle for. She must be totally devastated to lose him and not to be there when he died.

For many parents any time is a good time to teach the kids but there are also many of us who wait for the the right moment. Earlier I had pointed out to her the article on the poet Boey and rue how inward looking so many writers are. How hard it is to teach a child to love. How hard it is for God to teach us too. Since we just discussed 1 John 4 on Sunday, I pressed my point quite hard. Didn't help the situation when preachers like Pastor Lawrence Khong were straining at gnats when you consider how he had missed the elephants in the room. Turmoil from toxic relationships and sexual sins in many professing believers' families is a hugely greater threat than the repeal of 377A. He didn't fare too well raising his own children. He has no credibility here. Fortunately given God's incredible grace he can work wonders without personal credibility. Nothing can stop him. I often hear many good things about Touch Community Services.

How many of my friends's kids have abandoned church. It is not just an American problem.

Death had been on my mind for the last 48 hours. A friend in Seattle just lost her husband. It appeared easy to cope for her because the marriage was bad. She said she had made her peace with him. I hope so. Another friend in Ontario lost her brother. He was 65 years old. There is a common denominator in these two deaths: the flu epidemic raging right now in North America. It had hit my friends in Indiana very hard. Thankfully everyone recovered. Another family living outside DC seemed totally unscathed. We don't even discuss this. A non issue.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

No more Ikea batteries

No more Ikea alkaline batteries for us. They used to be noticeably more durable. I installed these two into my electric tooth brush just last week or so and now they are exhausted. Typically I estimate fresh alkaline batteries from Duracell or Energizer would have lasted close to a month or more. I will get an more accurate picture coming back here to check when the new Energizer Gold in the tooth brush is drained.

Ikea tries too hard to bring the price down in an inflationary environment. Something must give.

Update: March 25

Changed the Energizer Gold batteries today. Therefore they lasted about two months!

August 12

Their batteries have a new look but I am not buying. Now that the old pic is above me, I wonder what does MN1500 mean? The new ones have MN2400

I am simply not buying. Not that long ago, I put them in my Canon it didn't even last more than 30 shots!

Pomfret for the daughter

Wifey fried a very good pomfret ($13) this evening for the girl for dinner. She thoroughly enjoyed it.

Naturally much better than those at the takeaway or food court.

We opened a can of Skylight Topshell. It was a failure. Remind me not to buy that brand any more and we have two unopened cans!

Saturday, January 19, 2013

A flood of homes coming

Mr. Property Market continues to be manic and so was recently forced fed some sedatives.

The market is also in denial of the overwhelming supply in the pipeline. Naturally.

The question isn't if we have a property bubble. It's only a question of size. Hopefully we will end this with a ouch or a bump instead of tears.

If you are hedged, that is not a problem otherwise you might be over paying.

If possible growing cash flow faster than inflation is better than seeking asset appreciation. That's the theory. The practice is have pricing power and haven't we noticed that many businesses are regaining that? They disguise it as fairly passing on the cost to consumers. Another practical angle is to achieve pay jumps or promotions. This is for the majority of employees but the reality is only a few will enjoy this.

The caveat is that low interest rates like using blood thinners are not permanent. Definitely it will end far sooner than the tenure of property loans. But the market rarely worry about tomorrow when it is in party mode.

Part 2: Ps Khong ambushed ESM Goh on LGBT

Again I was up at 4 am this morning. Not a problem as there is always plenty to do and didn't manage to look at my mail until just now. I discovered this from my friend in Bangkok. I have also found a more presentable version at a Catholic site.

My Protestant heritage isn't friendly to such a story. I can imagine the disapproving look from my pastors about the risk of a rosary turning into a device for idolatry already. What to do? But suddenly an idea appears in my mind from seemingly nowhere (those of us who are spiritually sympathetic like to suggest that it is from the Spirit of God): Paul's handkerchiefs were somewhat used like Mother Teresa's rosary too. See Acts 19:11-12 (of course I needed Google to help me pinpoint the location in the NT)

Now I quote myself  from an earlier post:

So regardless of which camp you belong, don't tell me what the Bible say until you live it.

Pastors parrying each other with their Bible knowledge gets us nowhere but living those words of scripture as in this vignette from Mother Teresa and the Apostle Paul will cause you to see and think differently. Then you will know the Spirit of Christ.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Attendance at PAP rally for PE tonight

This one by PAP

And this by Occupy Singapore

And I like this one best :-) The doc with his family.

Update: Jan 19, 1pm

Just read the TOC article which TKL shared. The PAP candidate avoided discussing national issues. Obviously they are not confident there but very stubborn too. Our political reality is that any promises must be delivered within five years. If it takes longer, the PAP must produce a report card of good progress. Problem is their national policies over the last ten or more years have not garnered enough support.

Update: Jan 19, 1:20pm

How odd, a new estate with mostly young families and yet most of the photos here are older folks! See