Thursday, October 19, 2017

More Amazon credit from past Kindle purchases

I can't remember as I had not tracked it previously. This is probably the third or fourth time I am getting a credit from Amazon for my previous Kindle books purchase. Now don't let this end. When is the next "gift" coming :-)

Desmond Kuek as the least worst CEO for SMRT

I caught the three public statements by the CEO, chairman and minister on Monday. To me the chairman and KBW were memorable for blaming the maintenance team for the system break down on October 7 due to flooding of the tunnels. On the other hand Desmond Kuek didn't blame them but identified the culture of the company as a problem. He had five years i.e., one election cycle long and he couldn't create the necessary culture to produce a better performing work force at SMRT. It was easy for him to align himself with his chairman and minister but he did not. I thought he took responsibility without people noticing because we have stopped hearing.

Without recovering the lost knowledge and more, it would not be possible to make the train system work like new again. The chairman was foolish to remove the guy in charge i.e., the VP for maintenance and in one stroke lose all the institutional knowledge he possess. I think the CEO would be smarter and keep him, and he begun with not pinning the blame specifically on maintenance team.

At the end of the day, we want to solve problems and not just apportion blame. Do not confuse vengeance with solution. If I run the system and fortunately not, I would be afraid of losing the people who know the system the best because they cannot be replaced. This is not about making trains but running a train system. Over the years, I have learnt that many systems use the same trains (not completely true) but each system is unique. We cannot just get the Hong Kong MTR team to come run ours and in a short time the problems disappear. If I may borrow a metaphor, you have to love your train system for it to love you back.

What the ST reported on Tuesday told me the problem is deeper i.e., our early system was not well engineered to begin with but was new and it worked for a while.

The flood protection system was poorly conceived with a glaring weak point making it vulnerable to failure. I wonder how many of the MRT subsystems have similar weakness i.e., a "one pin to hold up everything" design. You cannot take the same sloppy attitude we have towards safety into engineering design as well, i.e, "won't be so unlucky" attitude. Given enough time you will hit bad luck. I am sure the moral equivalent of flooding the tunnels will happen sometime. Good luck to the new VP of maintenance.

I think it is very challenging to create teams of people who do not just do their work competently but have passion of the system.

So I ask myself, why would Desmond Kuek wants this job at all? Perhaps he didn't know what he was getting himself into but I think if he were to quit nobody would want the job. What for? There is no way to get back a top performing train system except slowly, painfully and over many years. Firing people quickly for mistakes would only serve to prolong solving its problems. In this sense all three of them are not up to the job but Desmond Kuek is better than his chairman and minister.

Six years ago, the government should have had more political courage and come clean about how damaged the train system was and truthfully told us how long it would take to fix this. It would probably be closer to a decade. If you ask me who I would blame, I think this falls on  the shoulders of the PM and his Cabinet. He let in so many people into island and the train infrastructure could not cope. Then all along he stood aside and let the transport minister and those below get the brickbats. No wonder Lui Tuck Yew chose to leave. Overnight he became popular with us and we sent him off with grateful thanks for his dedication to the task despite his lack of success. In other words, the people knew but may not be able or want to articulate it.

All these ministers have been protecting a PM who does not deserve it. He should have shown more courage.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Prof Thaler warning to the PAP

Read the same article from Bloomberg View since after a week, I would not be able to get this again via ST. Wondering when I am going to break this habit of reading this paper but I noticed I am reading them less. Lousy value at $30 a month when my NYT and WSJ are each less than half of that. ST also reprint so much from NYT, WP, Bloomberg, Reuters, BBC...

That is not just an opinion from Richard Thaler, whose work I am somewhat familiar for many years now but it has the strength of being proven correct over and over again for which he had won this year Nobel for Economic Science. My point? The PAP better heed this: people here also care very much about fairness. There will be hell to pay at the next GE. Think 38 Oxley Rd; Reserved presidential elections; the MRT system and more to come until we vote again.

For the first time we showed up at Hong Lim Gardens to protest the way the president was "elected" this time. We did that because we might have no choice but to vote the damn PAP at the next elections. Unlike the rest of the family, I wasn't disappointed at the turnout. They were hoping that as many would show up like we protested against the population white paper but my attitude was that of a price taker. People made up their own minds and let's see what we have got. From what I saw that late Saturday afternoon, I fear voters' anger would be reserved for the next GE.

"People care about fairness, and they will punish those who have acted unfairly, even at their own expense."

Bluntly put, we will cut out nose to spite our face. Didn't we see that in the last US presidential elections? Mike Moore was quite vocal explaining it.

The PAP must learn there is no free lunch for them when we do not ourselves. They can either take small knocks or one huge knock out because they had gamed the system and avoided the small hits. This is self serving foolishness.

Remember people can't help being themselves and that is the whole point of what Prof Thaler is trying to tell us.

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

SMRT: Embarrassing Failure

Another embarrassing failure of the MRT system. The potential for such failures lurk in many places and it is really hard (impossible for the SMRT in their view) to locate them before they cause problems. Privately they must be wishing they could start all over again with a new system, learnt their lesson and take good care of it.

Foreign observers are perplexed why Koreans living in Seoul are not panicking over the possibility of war. It is business as usual there. Well, how long can you remain anxious and suffer from chronic panic attacks before you die from mental illness than get ripped apart by bombs?

It is the same with the MRT here. The politicians are just waiting for us to get used to the lower standard of train service. This is just human behavior.

Singapore will not fail suddenly in a catastrophic way. We will fail slowly and one of those initial places is the attitude of our leaders toward the MRT system.

Lui Tuck Yew was an honest bloke who tried his best. His successor Khaw Boon Wan chose to play politics with us betting that we will get used to it like those in Seoul learn to adapt to the threat of war. Unfortunately for him and his cabinet colleagues but fortunately for us we are not so daft not to be able to tell. Meanwhile the many who have figured this out have also started calling out the clueless as stupid.

We will also save our breath for another time to deal with these politicians or we will simply expire. They must be wishing there were no elections ever and they are trying to get to that as functionally as possible. Their trial balloon is the monkey they are doing with the elected presidency. All these are justified on the long term good of Singapore (not Singaporeans) but I know over and over again that when a fund manager bought a wrong stock, he will say it is for the long term.

Note to self: Actually the water pumps worked. It was the switch which is triggered by a flotation device to turn on the pump which failed. It is a very simple and reliable technology. Many components in the train system could be waiting to fail but who knows when?

Sunday, October 8, 2017

Aung San Suu Kyi: limits of leadership

Painful read. A leader is one who leads her people to a place which they would never on their own go. On that Aung San Suu Kyi is unable to achieve.

She had the benefit of a cosmopolitan education and knows where the arc of history could or should at least try to bend towards. On that Myanmar is turning its back against a world which we know the future lies with further opening, accepting and learning coexist for mutual benefit.

I once heard her making a speech about her ambition to overtake Singapore in a hurry. I told myself, nice try. Every aspiring leader imagine herself to be a LKY. Good luck. I think she is out of luck. In that vein, Duterte is also running out of luck as well. Every developing country leader wants to emulate LKY. Only we know it is not possible even from any among us.

Myanmar is a burden too heavy for her shoulders.

Update: October 10 4:30pm

From the NYT: Rohingya Recount Atrocities: ‘They Threw My Baby Into a Fire’

That is the beginning of the horrific story, and there are countless such stories. Aung San Suu Kyi head or tail, you would have lost but it would have been far better to sink with the side of righteousness and courage than complicity and cowardice.

Lesson: Should not have made a deal with the military. In the current arrangement of governance, it was always head or tail the military win.

Friday, October 6, 2017

Fighting Fake News is an Arms Race

I am doubtful this will solve the problem of fake news. The priority of Google, Facebook and Twitter is making money than eradicating fake news. I think we are not looking at a one-off problem which can be eliminated. This is more like an arms race which we will fight into the indefinite future. 

I ask myself, "Who would bother read the lengthy articles after they click on the button"? Most people are lazy and simply want an Yes or No answer. They like to be able to trust e.g., Facebook to have checked and judged the news item for them.

Turn fighting fake news into a business on its own merit. Only then would it be an equal fight when fake news is raking in money for it purveyors.

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Mid-Autumn Festival

I wonder why I have never blogged about this festival before when we celebrate it on most years.

I could have many pieces of these but chose not to. Those days for indulging in this are over. This year I didn't even have one.

Now the fun is not something you put in you mouth but the many interesting pictures you can give and receive from each other. 

Counting to a Reserved PE - Legal or Policy matter

So was this a legal or policy matter? If you were a PAP supporter you would go along with what Shanmugam said i.e., Parliament is sovereign and decided it was to be a reserved presidential elections. If you were anti-PAP then you would buy Sylvia Lim's argument that it had started out as a legal matter and then became a policy decision along the way. 

This is how I would understand this:

Had Tan Cheng Bock not challenged this in court, it would be sold to Parliament and us as a legal sound and so Parliament is advised by ministers to take the legal advice on board. In this way the PAP government cannot be accused of being responsible for fixing the last PE to be a reserved one. Unfortunately for them Tan Cheng Bock mounted a challenge and this caused the government to give up its foil and admitted it was a policy matter. If this wasn't so, Tan Cheng Bock might have won in court. 

This is yet another lesson why cannot afford to let the PAP dominate parliament without sufficient check on their power. Time and again they have not proven themselves to as honorable as claimed. 

We must always treat this government with some suspicion because if you don't it might turn around and screw you. To illustrate, say between policy option A and B unlike in the distant past, politics is going to decide rather than the long term good. Assuming option A hurt you then better make a lot of noise hoping that those adversely affected by option B wouldn't. That is how issues will often be played. 

Increasingly the PAP is becoming ordinary like politicians elsewhere. The journey to go from extraordinary to ordinary has begun. The best we can hope for is that they take this journey as slowly as possible. Perhaps along the way we will find much better people to run this place than this self serving group. 

I thought Yahoo summarizes this quite well.

Update: October 5, 6:30am

And Mothership has done a very good job putting it all together but forgot to report the PSI number created by each minister.

When things are hazy you will have to just live with the oxymoron that these ministers have integrity with doubtful honesty. What I know is that as far back as I had complained about in 2011 you can't trust these guys without watching them to make sure they don't screw us, especially in order to serve the rich and powerful but most of all to stay in power regardless of their merit or lack of.

Saturday, September 30, 2017

Chicken Cutlet in Tanglin Halt

Can't remember when the last time I was back at Tanglin Halt Food Centre for a meal. Anyway the price of this yummy chicken cutlet has gone up by 50 cents to $5.50. The bun and butter have also been taken out. One nice feature though is that it is noticeably less salty now.

The thunder rice stall my sis told me about but I had forgotten until we had finished lunch and went around looking for it. 

Saturday, September 23, 2017

WiFi speeds on my devices

The Asus VivoMini PC

The Galaxy Tab A 10.1 with S-pen

ZenFone 3 5523KL

The unbeatable old Galaxy Note 4

Friday, September 22, 2017

PM's most important meeting in China

The meeting with Xi Jinping is essential and so it was with Li Keqiang and Zhang Dejiang but the most important meeting go to be with Wang Qishan. The real talking and understanding with the Chinese is with him. The first three were the top three in the PSC. Wang Qishan is ranked 6th but effectively he is number two. The PM can speak his mind with Wang Qishan much more than he could with Xi Jinping. It would be good for us and China as well if Wang Qishan continues to be in the PSC after the October meeting.

We have a lot to do and Zhang Feng have put it nicely into a table.

"Quality has declined since LKY's time" is a view shared by all three groups. These classifications are only out of necessity. In real life it is a spectrum of degree from left to right. To the Chinese the friction between us and them would not have happened if LKY were around. 

The Chinese are master par none at the oblique. Here is a lesson from Wang Qishan when he met PM Lee. I excerpt from Today Online. 

Mr Wang, who heads the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection, said he was surprised but happy that a request had been made to meet him.
"So I sought permission and I am here meeting you and your delegation today ... Singapore is among the countries I have the most contact with," added the 69-year-old during their meeting held at Zhongnanhai, a former imperial garden that now serves as headquarters for the Chinese Communist Party (CCP).
Mr Wang also paid tribute to the late Mr Lee Kuan Yew, Singapore's founding Prime Minister.
"I had the privilege of having personal conversations with him on multiple occasions. He (was) such a visionary figure full of political wisdom.
"I gained a lot every time I talked with him ... I'm really greatly saddened by his passing. He was indeed a great man," said Mr Wang

Without making us lose face, the Chinese think we have "learned the lessons"

Did he really need to seek permission? That was meant for us.

No LKY but we need to move on with vision and wisdom. Since LKY is no longer with us, you know the Chinese would have enshrined his writings as scripture to guide them into the future were he a Chinese leader. We can do no better than that until we are lucky to have another LKY.

And that is the message of Wang Qishan to us.

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Tharman connects better with us

Tharman will never be PM but he connects much better with us, and he has a way of sending a return message that he heard and understood us, which is very unlike the other ministers except Tan Chuan Jin, now out of Cabinet.

Here are some lines I lifted from the story:

The DPM, who said he himself would have also preferred a contest "like most people", said however that the aspiration for race not to count is something that requires working towards.

"It cannot just be a pledge, it cannot be just an incantation," he said. "Sometimes it requires a conscious act of the state."

"The reality of the matter is, not just in Singapore but anywhere else, including the most mature democracies that everything else (about a candidate) being equal, race, ethnicity, religion, matters."

If a leader cannot connect with the people he/she leads that leader has at best limited effectiveness. It is our unique circumstances that such bad communicators can still lead but clearly it is not sustainable. Such leaders will also eventually lack confidence and constantly worried about their positions.

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Remembering Stanislav Petrov: He saved the world

That is a picture, not sure when it was taken of the former Lt. Col Stanislav Petrov. He passed away practically unnoticed on May 17 this year. His main contribution to humanity was he saved the world from a nuclear war. I have read about him before and I read his story again today when I got news that he had passed away.

The world would have ended if he didn't have the sense to recognize that the system was buggy and sending a wrong signal that the US had launched missiles against Moscow.

For his immense contribution what did he receive? Look at his apartment, it was not much.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

A look at Braddell View

A view of my late parents' place which I have never seen before. The place will not last since more than 80% of owners are enthusiastic about selling it en bloc.

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Borrowing Aung San Suu Kyi for LKY vs LHL

(click on pic for enlarged view)

Good piece by Nirmal Ghosh but he is not going to be read by those who needs it most. I am going to appropriate this for our domestic politics use in an analysis of LHL vs LKY.

Politics is messy and complicated business, so complex it is hard to write about quickly and simply. Ghosh piece is a good foreign example which also happen to be highly visible. Now every political leader eventually faces difficulties like those Aung San Suu Kyi is having. The difference is only a matter of degree. Her situation would be my shorthand of what LKY vs LHL faced. The son is borrowing his late father's methods minus the brutality but for opposite reasons.

Abraham Lincoln moniker was Honest Abe. For decades he was a political leader who is deemed to be perfect and beyond criticism. Well it is still politically incorrect to criticize him. Nevertheless the Honest Abe myth made him to be far more honest than he is. It is a reputation he used with great effectiveness to become president. When faced with an impossible situation, he lied in an impeachable way that the Confederates are not in town to seek peace. He did that so that he could get the law to emancipate the slaves to pass in Congress. Without explaining himself because LKY said he would leave it to history to judge him, he had emphasized that his motives were honourable. I think the results speak of them themselves. That is why I have overlooked LKY tactics and mistakes but not his dishonorable son.

The people can be ignorant, believe in fairy tales and keep their ideals but political leaders have to get real, get the job done without diminishing society's ideals. If such leaders succeed the minority who understood will keep mum indulge in selective amnesia and leave to history to judge what happened, as they have for America's founding fathers and Abraham Lincoln. If we are not done in by a morally bankrupt government, we will also live this rite of passage. That would be when we can begin to entertain ideas of maturity as a nation.

British society waited for hundreds of years before they are confident enough to entertain the possibility that their preeminent scientist Isaac Newton was gay.

From Malaysian maid to Singaporean butler(ess)

I thought Malaysia have left this behind them as they got richer. This is deja vu, never imagined this happening there and wondering if it would come to pass as well in Singapore as a higher class version. In my imagination, some classy lady butler/nanny to the ultra rich families. Quietly we already have a critical mass of them here. When the super rich demand something they usually get want they want. Perhaps it is already happening but they are doing their best to avoid the publicity.

I think Jim Rogers' family would buy but they relocated here too soon.

In our hearts we live forevert

I remembered I wanted to blog about this when their daughter Carmen passed away, but as usual never found the time to.

This is sort of emotional reunion for this couple with their daughter, and also caused me to remember another story. The bride's father had passed away and his heart was transplanted to another man more or less the donor's age. He took her late father's place and give her away at the wedding. It was beautiful occasion.

We will always find ways to live even when we are dead. There is eternity imprinted in our hearts.

Friday, September 15, 2017

US so late with removing Kaspersky

I had Kaspersky antivirus on my PC easily more than a decade ago when it came free with the machine. Shortly afterwards I discovered they were Russian, I immediately had it removed. Now I use Norton, AVG or Avast.

The Americans are so trusting. When I worked for one of the top Wall Street banks, they accepted my resume at face value. They never once asked for any supporting documents.

Update: October 11 2017

See NYT story: How Israel Caught Russian Hackers Scouring the World for U.S. Secrets

SG Presidency with a "natural sunset"

How we got to Halimah Yacob as president is a series of intelligence insulting moves by people who are very smart. The PM should just have accepted the Chief Justice and his committee suggestion to scrap voting for the president and return to an appointed one. Now we have got the worst of everything instead.

In April the Chief Justice said as reported by the ST.

Chief Justice Sundaresh Menon, who chairs the Commission, said the provision had a "natural sunset" as it would not be invoked if Singapore progressed towards a race-blind society and elected a minority president on its own accord.

What natural sunset? That is just disingenuous. Look across the Causeway, the NEP is supposed to achieved a natural sunset as well. History and our founding fathers would also add that there is no such thing. This is like giving a little kid a calculator hoping that he will learn mental sums. People don't give up their crutches. You PM and cronies have humiliated the Malays and dishonored our pledge.

Here is a couple of comments on the story above. Her very beginning speeches show that this president is one who would ask "how high?" when the PM said "jump!"

Halimah you are LHL and the PAP "Yes Sir" president. You are not our president. We have effectively only one key to the reserves.

Today the government is morally and politically dishonest, tomorrow it would be criminally as well. It is not a matter of if but when.

Why do the government want to gut the system unless in case they need to abuse it? When the time comes they will say they are doing it in the name of the people but that is just self deception.

Tuesday, September 12, 2017


Others have said far more than I wanted to say, so there is no need to repeat them here. Mostly I agree with Bertha Henson's PE2017: Mad at the G.

It was easy not to meet Tony Tan when he was president and it would be as easy to avoid Halimah Yacob as well. I can't do anything about her ridiculously high pay but I can try my best to pay as little taxes as possible. This is a small thing, my worries are over the future of this vulnerable little red dot especially the future of my children and their generation.

I don't know much about the former Jakarta governor Basuki Tjahaja Purnama aka "Ahok" but I certainly respect him much more than any of our leaders. His former boss President Jokowi is also a good man but serving under very difficult conditions.

Every person has its price and I guess we have discovered what is the price of  Halimah Yacob. It is not more than $4 million and $24 million if she behaves well.

Plenty of moral hazard in Singapore and it has gone all the way to the highest office of the land. The PAP presents their kelong president. Yet another act of coup de grĂ¢ce by them. How do you govern Singapore successfully without moral authority and a bankrupt political capital account?

The silent brain drain will get more furious. Those who remain will again be tempted to protest with their vote and that is dangerous brinkmanship in the next GE.

Saturday, September 9, 2017

Political cost of this Presidential Election

I just responded to a friend who pointed me to an article in Mothership which I only read now. I have seen it earlier and ignored it.

Well for something so constitutionally important, why did the PM fail to try persuade the people at the recent National Day Rally? I don't know what is the matter with this PM. He used to be better. Perhaps he is recoiling from the big hit his sister and brother had served him with.

Thursday, September 7, 2017

SG Population: We have opted for the harder problem to solve

I first got the above story, the Bloomberg version in an email. It has a useful chart which is absent from the ST one.

A long time from now, I would still be able to read the Bloomberg's one but the ST would be much less accessible. I might even have given up my ST subscription by then but I digress.

After a while I was convinced that our graying population could not be reversed and we have to live with its consequences. The cure which LKY tried to persuade us to have more babies is much better than the disease but it was impossible to persuade the people. To most that negate the reason why they work so hard to get rich in the first place. It is already too stressful to have one or two kids. I hope we are much more determined to solve this problem when the time comes than when it was easier. We were less determined simply because twenty years into the future is simply too far out when most of us are fire fighting today's problems. It is human nature to work incredibly harder putting out fires than preventing them.

Our external wing will get even more important than now. Many and more of us will travel the region and beyond. In fact the more innovative we are the farther we will go because the demand for our creations will be more widespread.

The more successful we are externally the richer we are and the more expensive things will be at home. Those who make their living mostly from the domestic economy will suffer. Their income will also rise but fail to catch up. They become price takers of those who make their living from our external wing.

At that time quite a few will leave or simply live overseas permanently than come back because their dollar goes much further against a very pricey Singapore. Therefore sprouting an even stronger external wing is not a solution if it provides little attraction for them to be based here. Nevertheless no matter how much we try, we will lose talent at a higher rate than now. It would be more practical to have a bigger front door whilst the flow out grows than trying to keep people home. A very attractive quality of life ranked among the best in the world is not just nice but a matter of survival for Singapore.

For those harboring ideas of retiring in Singapore, most of you will discover that you are dreamers. Unless you are among the few rich ones and being upper middle class will not cut it, either you forget about retirement and continue working or relocate to another place to retire. Now the problem may not even be a choice between continuing working and retirement. It might be you are not employable.

Friday, September 1, 2017

It was only just fish

Salmon mis-labeled as Batang fish which we did not realize until we brought it home.

No math needed. Relativity tells you Batang was obviously cheaper

Now I wonder if we would see this mistake again in future. Always in a hurry perhaps we would only check after we have brought it home eh?

Saturday, August 26, 2017

Dr. Florida got it wrong and we paid the price

LKY was so impressed with him and like other global cities we bought his ideas and now we are paying for it. He was also partly responsible for turning LKY gay friendly because the data seemed to suggest that wherever the gays congregate the place is more creative.

Now Dr Florida after observing his ideas put into practice across so many leading cities have concluded that he was wrong.

Today we are all paying a hefty price for that mistake. Now our public libraries do not even bother to carry his latest book.

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Role reversal: Singapore and China

The Chinese used to look to us to learn as much as possible to bootstrap their development. Increasingly the roles are being reversed as in more and more sectors we will be learning from them. It has now gone to the using technology in the courts. We were an early innovator in this game but the Chinese have clearly sped ahead of us.

I once told my ex boss that in business and employment, the most difficult moment for us is when the Chinese are catching up and overtaking us. It will get easier when they are ahead of us. Globally this is clearest when the developed world were the customers for the Chinese but it is now shifted very much to the Chinese being the customers instead.

Fortunately not all economic sectors suffer this transition at the same time or the strain may be too hard to bear. But it is coming, one by one and like it or not, all of us in Asia would become economic vassals to China. Then the Chinese will use their economic might to bolster its military and extend their security umbrella over Asia challenging the Americans inch by inch with the Indians, Japanese and Aussies among the last to fall in line. This is not the foregone scenario though, the future reality will also depend on how the Japanese, Indians and Americans react to China's obvious strategy. We do not need to care about these big powers except how they might price the external environment which we must make a living out of. The issue is can we pay the Chinese price? Everything falls into the place after that.

If you cannot make enough sense of what is happening, you would say the future is unpredictable and bears watching closely developments. That is the stance of our PM and his ministers. The issue is not its unpredictability but our inability to make enough sense of it. Without having a sufficiently clear idea of what might come, we do not know how to get ready for tomorrow. Singapore performance as a society and economy is going to suffer.

We have done quite well but I am not sure if we know how to continue doing so. How do you know what to pack for the trip when you do not know where you are going? Meanwhile a party which place its interests ahead of the nation will prevent the next LKY if we have one at all from emerging. As always good is the enemy of the great.

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

More youths dying of Colon Cancer

A friend's daughter died from this slightly more than a year ago. She was barely 22 years old. This threat has appeared on the scene stealthily, and it is probably not unique to America which the story is based on. A month before the Israelis have reported similar findings among its youths. Perhaps we are well on the way to knowing what the data for us is like. I hope I am wrong but would not be surprised if the trend here is similar to the Americans and Israelis, rich societies with somewhat similar lifestyles.

This is not Science yet but eat and run about like your parents when they were young and it might helped reduced your risk.

Monday, August 21, 2017

National Day Rally 2017

That was the PM's dinner before he delivered his NDR 2017 speech in English. You get some idea of what eating healthily looks like especially the staple: brown rice. Many will say this is taking out all of the fun in life. They would say living a shorter and pleasurable life is better than a long and boring one. Of course the idea isn't between shorter and fun versus longer and boring, it is the on average eight years of poor health before death, much of it related to diabetes that is the problem.

The PM spoke on three issues this year: pre-school education, diabetes and smart city. Seemingly smart things with big impact down the road. Nothing mentioned on our external environment which suggests to me that he has finally taken Kishore Mahbubani advice that he is not LKY. We do need our leader to share with us what he thought of the region and the larger world because we are totally dependent on what is outside for our security and livelihood. Unfortunately he cannot do it safely or with sagacity.

Remember we are price takers. We can make all the plans we want but as always it will be what happens outside Singapore which will finally decide the choices available to us.

We badly need someone who can climb up the tall mast and look ahead. Every year the old map bequeathed to us by LKY gets more outdated.

Update: Aug 22 4:30 pm

These are extraordinarily abnormal times and even the taciturn Ray Dalio had chosen to share his views publicly on this issue. At home our PM had kept mum and since then I have told friends this year NDR speech was the worst ever.

Quoting Dalio from his essay,

History has shown that democracies are healthy when the principles that bind people are stronger than those that divide them, when the rule of law governs disputes, and when compromises are made for the good of the whole—and that democracies are threatened when the principles that divide people are more strongly held than those that bind them and when divided people are more inclined to fight than work to resolve their differences. Conflicts have now intensified to the point that fighting to the death is probably more likely than reconciliation.

That is between countries but within America, he had observed backed by repeated poll numbers and concluded,

..the majority of Americans appear to be strongly and intransigently in disagreement about our leadership and the direction of our country. They appear more inclined to fight for what they believe than to try to figure out how to get beyond their disagreements to work productively based on shared principles

I don't believe our PM is ignoring the elephant in the room. I think he does not have the confidence to talk about it publicly. Earlier this morning I came across this by Bilahari Kausikan.

Sunday, August 20, 2017

Bad idea: Reserved presidential elections

What is the difference between a terrorist and a freedom fighter? They could be the same person depending on which side you are looking from. So is the reserved presidential elections system a unique stabilizer? Not to me but I am open minded enough to understand there are other ways to look at this. I just happen not to agree with them.

A reserved elections make minorities look like losers i.e., they can't compete on their on merit and need help. This brings us closer in thought and spirit with Malaysia's pro-Bumis policies than one based on meritocracy.

I am for giving more help to the Malay community to achieve but not for lowering the bar for them. The community will lose self respect. They are not suffering like in a game of reading, handicapped by dyslexia. Even my daughter worked to overcome her dyslexia over time and she competed as equals with her course mates by the time she got to university. If I thought like the PAP government then I would have asked NUS to give her more time for her exams. Bad idea. Instead we worked hard to overcome her handicap. Never give up.

With such a loser attitude encouraged by the government, the Malay community will fall further behind. I do not wish for the Malays to spoil their votes in the upcoming presidential elections reserved for them, but I would understand why if they do. For their own self respect.

The Malays are as Singaporeans as the Chinese. If this is not true then we will find convenient reasons for all sorts of discrimination e.g., against women, older workers etc., In fact we are already doing all these as hypocrites. Now the hypocrisy is enshrined in the highest public office. We are not foolish enough to fast track ourselves to hell but not wise enough to avoid the slow long road to perdition.

Saturday, August 19, 2017

Nazis against Nazis – Germany's most involuntary charity walk

My daughter was telling me about this amusing incident in Germany she caught off Huff Post. I saw a version of it this morning from the NYT.

Non-violence with faith and patience works. It is not natural because it is spiritual. I recall from the 80s a remarked made in the movie Gandhi played by Ben Kingsley, "An eye for an eye, makes the whole world blind" The Christians were learning their own teachings from a non-believer. God is "promiscuous" and surprising because Jesus Christ is the only way to him.

Quoting from the NYT article with reference to the methods of Martin Luther King,

This reminds me of the importance and effectiveness of  the spiritual disciplines, many of them from even before the Roman Catholic church which was passed down through millennial.

Prayer answered: Bannon is leaving

Woke up to the news that Steve Bannon has been fired. This is wonderful news. He will do what he wants to do but the White House is not the place for them.

When is Trump going to resign? I would think he would prefer that than get impeached and kicked out.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

We are less happy with our employers

Deja Vu for me. I remember day after day as a young executive looking at those people at least 20 years older than me back then. They lived such comfortable lives working out of those rooms and we secretaries to do their chores. If only their boss, the VP wouldn't so demanding they would have succeeded at creating heaven on earth. I am still in touch with this VP who has long retired from the company but none of these self centered managers.

I recognize how at personal or atomic level it could be aggregated into findings in this ST story despite the many years of separation. All the opportunities I had to try new things and learn were mostly driven by this VP but what can one person in a large division do? In the end all of us left for other employers only to discover that by and large we are ruled by happy golf playing bosses who work out of rooms and resist change, only interested in the sweet spot they have navigated themselves into.

It is a different world now. Most of those rooms have been torn down but that basic bo-chap attitude find every opportunity to surface. The only exception was the time I was at a leading Wall Street bank when people like that inevitably got shown the door, where bad luck was also your fault but the bonuses if you can survive was really good and embarrassing if you perform.

Saturday, August 12, 2017

SG: Between American and China, an adjustment of course

Standards has been falling at ST and also the SCMP. I was surprised at the writing in this article. Midway I detoured to check who wrote this. It was one of our own veteran journalists, Zuraidah Ibrahim. Her other half is Cherian George, a good writer and incisive thinker. We lost both of them to Hong Kong.

To me this was the most important sentence in the story.

"maturation process" in SG-China relationship.

Ms Ibrahim provided the context for our expulsion of Huang Jing by reminding us of our the expulsion of the first secretary of the US embassy here way back in 1988. Fast forward our relationship with the US strengthened. Ditto what will follow from our action against Huang Jing. In private, Singapore is steering a different direction, not a complete change of course but just as in leaning in more toward the US before, we will be building our relationship with the Chinese more rapidly like we had with the US now. In other words the environment changed, we adapt. Whoever drove the change we ride with the driver. Post Cold War it was the US, now it is China.

This just a game of best friends and better best friends. The focus is on "best" rather than "better". Whoever makes more sense and earned the "better" that country now is China.

It does not mean that our relationship with America will weaken but it does mean there is more growth between us and China vis a vis the Americans. The ball is in America's court when it becomes post Trump to catch up or lose out.