Sunday, July 15, 2018

Risks: Should it be a common pot?

Whilst people could accept that the healthy young pay less premiums they cannot accept that men pay less than women. There is always the option to putting all risks into a common pool. The result is the young and male will pay more, the old and female will pay less. Society has to agree which is best. This is a zero sum game. This is also one of those moments we search ourselves on what our values are. We have almost never done that. The government have typically make the choices for us.

Personally I think we ought to pool the risks. That is the meaning of one people. No point if lofty words are not backed by real money.

The young discover the plot against them

Were Peter Drucker still alive, he would not be in the least surprise to see such poll results. As for me, I get to see them at first hand and coming away with a very bad feeling about this. It is not too late to fix this but there is always the risk the old idiots in power or simply as voting blocs continue to rob the young to pay the old.

Our government is probably the least guilty at robbing young Peter to pay old Paul. Our personal accountability system helps a lot e.g., CPF. Pay as you go system is ideal for transferring wealth from the young to the old. Meanwhile the old having arrived a generation sooner command most of the attractive positions in the economy, calls the shots and the millennials suffered as a result. To add insult to injury, in fact this is the worse problem, the elites erect impossible barriers of entry against the rest even as they succeeded at sucking up the lion share of capital.

The elites are a global class and they have been blackmailing us and naming their price. The euphemism for blackmail is that if are not competitive they simply decamp to another city. So the choice we have is between a bad choice (like now) and a worse one i.e,. high unemployment. On the flip side despite their impractical idealism which the young need time to realize they are by and large much better schooled. They can leverage their intellectual superiority but first they must leave the rock they are living under.

The government is caught between a rock and a hard place with very little room to maneuver. That its senior officers are also deemed to be part of the elite certainly do not help. They are afraid to offend the global elites and is squeezed by unhappy young people and disenfranchised older workers because of the "taxes" of the elites. As people do not know the plot of the global wealthy they blame the government for being out of touch. Well this game of the rich getting richer cannot go on indefinitely. The sooner we pull back the better. The rules of the game is set in America and that is why that poll chart is most relevant. We are price takers in this game and are trying to mitigate its effects as best as possible. Our young is not doing as well as their parents if comparison is made after adjusting for time and place but they are doing much better than their counterparts almost everywhere else save the offspring of the elites and that include the children of ministers.

Meanwhile our elites try to pretend to be normal by eating at hawker centres and scolding those who are higher on the totem pole. That is just hypocrisy.

If the young in America, Europe and China lose faith in this system what would they replace it with? They are setting up themselves to learn through bitter experience if they lose faith in capitalism. Better reform capitalism instead of throwing it out of the window. Now is that realistic if capitalism reputation keeps worsening.

Saturday, July 14, 2018

Being watched by Google Intelligence

This morning interested to find out which is a better day to visit the Gardens by the Bay, I learned from Google Map the dates in the last three months were there. That is Google Intelligence and what else would they do when they combine all sorts of factoids about you to "form a picture". Perhaps eventually it could even tell me things from my habits which I am not even aware of.

Big Data is about insight from massive data. In this instance their data on me is even better than what Gardens by the Bay have because Google Map had even tracked how I got there, when I left. Did I drive or took public transport and where I went after the visit to the Gardens until I was back home.

Job interview with SIA

Yesterday before her turn to speak to the interviewers at SIA the daughter messaged me the above: in round 2 they need to bring their own Notebook PCs for the interview.

When she finished her discussion with them she had to do two written tests and was told that SIA will not provide her any writing instrument and hopefully she has brought her own pen.

SIA has become shockingly cost sensitive. They do not care that job candidates would tell others about this. Personally I think this is sad but it is also intelligent and targeted cost cutting. Most MNCs would simply have cut cost blindly across the board.

All things equal would a girl marry a rich or poor guy? SIA is the poor guy now. Not a problem if you have to bring your own computer for a job interview but it is a problem if they try to pay you as little as possible after you join them. You marry for love but do you join the company for the same reason?

Update: July 14 11:15 am

Good to add this, the chat with my siblings yesterday.

Are we looking at a trend which SIA is just an early participant? Costs are getting squeezed everywhere. People are no longer assets except to themselves.

Thursday, July 12, 2018

Cave rescue heroes

The cave rescuers insit they are not heroes - something to remember always. This takes me to the parable of the Goats and the Sheep told by Jesus.

Blaise Pascal put it more succinctly as:

I speculated how Pascal might have come to that conclusion.

There are four possible types of people given the righteous and sinners in a 4x4 matrix

1. sinners who think they are sinners
2. sinners who think they are righteous
3. righteous who think they are righteous
4. righteous who think they are sinners

Those in Group 1 will quickly become either Group 2 or 4. The time in Group 1 is very short because we can't live with it. Christian conversion is supposed to take you from Group 2 to Group 4 via Group 1 but very often they return to Group 2 instead with a new label of Christian.

Group 3 does not exist on our planet except when Jesus was here in human form and even that he humbled himself and acted like in Group 4 beginning with John's baptism out of his love for us.

Back to the cave rescuers, they are heroes who think they are not. They really are.

Finally here is a dramatization of someone who had become righteous but continue correctly to think himself as a sinner.

John Newton the composer of the song Amazing Grace. He was Jesus Sheep and he was Pascal's the righteous who think they are sinners. Without that reality lives are not change and Christian conversion or being born again is just self and mass delusion.

Singapore's next and beyond Meritocracy

If technology was the problem then the answer is more technology. This is what the record has shown for mankind's story up to this point.

If economic growth was the problem, the answer may not be more growth but more even growth.

Meritocracy may be in between what technology and economic growth is to us. Enlarging meritocracy is distributing meritocracy more widely, better said as not just levelling the playing field but enlarging it as well.

We are the product of yesterday's meritocracy. It has served its purpose and allowing it to persist will end up defeating its reason for being. The way forward is to disrupt the present meritocracy with more meritocracy which cannot be done before. Our current meritocracy creates many more opportunities for meritocracy as long as we are not wedded to its present form. We must move on to make the playing ground larger and more level. It may not be completely level and in some places, especially the old grounds, it may remain steep, but the field should be a much larger so that in very uneven grounds people have the option to move away to large level fields.

Yes, we should maximize technology to make it possible and practical. After our first full cycle with meritocracy we must recognize our future belongs to periodically and may be eventually continuously disrupting, remaking and especially enlarging our meritocracy.

Trump: the vulgar Reagan

He is damn vulgar alright but no Reagan. May be hidden there is some. To me he fails the kids test and that makes him unfit to be president, which does not means he cannot be effective. Given the peculiar circumstances he could be. He is just a very bad example and not a model for children as a future president or even a decent human being. There is no future in his values and mindset.

America spend about 3.7% of its budget on defence, so this 4% on Nato is not a target but a direction for spending. Past presidents have not succeeded at getting US allies to do their part who are very familiar and well schooled in saying No to the US. This bully can get many things out of the allies but it is disaster if every president after him behaves like him. History is littered with examples of such cautionary tales against badly behaved hegemons. A good example would be Babylon versus Persia. For the long term future of America, Trump must become a useful and unwitting fool to be sacrificed and destroyed after what he has done the dirty and nasty work because he cannot be a model for future leadership. Unless of course if America by now has turned into one huge hypocrisy. I don't think so, Obama proved that.

Would history suggest in the next few years, America was lucky to have him for president but he was damn unlucky to be president? Perhaps this will end with him in jail after he leaves office but a future president is likely to pardon him. He will likely get away but wear disgrace for the rest of his life.

Premature to assess but he just might be very useful disposable cutlery.

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

"Nutty Genius" - Elon Musk

At a Whatsapp group chat a few days ago, someone posted this.

and my response.

A couple of days later, I found this either at NYT or WSJ

"Minisubmarine" that is the noun a hyper salesman would use. More like an underwater life support capsule which an engineer would more accurately describe. Between the engineer and salesman in Elon Musk, the salesman won. Meanwhile I can imagine our girl saying, "Don't call me inane, I told you a minisub is doable!"

Face palm! Our society is stuffed with technology and even more tech tomorrow. We need to make Science more accessible to those who aren't inclined. They need to be better informed as voters.

Update: 8:50 am

Just found this Today story. It also has a clip on how the mini-sub works.

Update: 3:35 pm

I don't think I would make those remarks much less hold just views about Elon Musk after reading the Guardian story. Methinks Kausikan read too much into Elon Musk character. Whatever, the Thais clearly on hindsight had done the right things all the thirteen would not have been alive and well now.

Update: July 14 3:00 pm

So I was right to call Elon Musk "Nutty" but now I can call him nutty instead

Trump is not trying to remake the world order

That one line in the Bloomberg email caught my eye.

I don't think Trump is isolationist. He is indeed nativist but most important of all he has a less generous sense of what is fair to America. He is not trying to remake the world order but making it fairer for America in the sense that other countries typically would have insisted. He doesn't believe in the burdens of leadership, only the spoils of hegemony (bad). The rest of the world losing this is unwilling to concede and exaggerate his intentions and the damage he is causing.

Domestically and misinformed the American public is shifting towards Trump that the world has been unfair to America.

Passing of Mrs. Wee Kim Wee

Spotted this in the ST yesterday. I thought they had forgotten. Well better a little late than never. They mustn't miss this when they have a school named after Wee Kim Wee in NTU.

He is our only president we sometimes visited at Mandai Columbarium. The next time we will see both of them resting in peace side by side.

My "newspaper cutting" on July 7. NTU couldn't find a better photo that this. Just as well. Nice to know you have chosen the best. 

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Mahathir - Putting in his own people

He is putting in his own people so that when he has to step down as PM, he will still have the influence needed to get the new PM to do his bidding. This is also what a reitring general secretary of the CCP does as well to assert his will.

It is always the same as old as the hills trick. Using words to mislead people, twisting words to mean different things and taking advantage of their wrong understanding. Every dishonest politician make this as a matter of habit and honest ones try their best to avoid.

Mahathir self delusion is that his agenda is Malaysia's agenda. From that he can no longer separate the two and cannot change. Best for Malaysia to just make use and then get rid of him in a hurry. Among those who understand this best are the rulers.

Unlike the past, Mahathir is the devil we know and age will rid him for us but there is no telling there would not be another Mahathir like character some day. I never imagine the Trump in America today would be the last either. All these are matters only of when. We need to survive them all.

Monday, July 9, 2018

Forget about passion, start with being curious

It is just fortunate that most kids do not know what their passions are other than play, which pull they have to develop the discipline not to succumb to temptation.

My children wonder if they have strong passion about anything at all. Sure they find some things more interesting than others and spend more time with those. Overall I have always encouraged them to be curious, to have many questions and try to find answers to as many of them as possible.

Then I told them you can't discover your passion by thinking or even sitting under a tree and meditate. Your best chance of identifying your passion is to live fully, be adventurous and always stay curious by being eager to learn and wondering how all the pieces of your discoveries fit together.

Next learn to be competent in as many things as possible and if you discover that you master certain things more easily than others, focus on those even if at the expense of others. Your passion might be hidden there. If not, at least you are likely to be well paid for it because you are beating most people at it.

Leave passion alone by finding meaning in what you do. There is a good chance that you will get both, if not keep looking for more meaningful things to do especially in those which you can increase your competencies in.

You are likely to find your passion not upon discovery but looking back. For many it is just a matter of time they realize their family and close friends are what they are passionate about.

In the end it is about people and everything else is just the means for that.

Thursday, July 5, 2018

Singtel fiber broadband down

Last October Singtel had a 24 hour outage which I have forgotten and tells me I need to make a record of it here. Yesterday their service was down for more than three hours in the morning. A savvy user given his technical background knew he might his luck solving the problem by switching DNS servers. That 23 year old undegrad mentioned in the story, he should have used his phone to connect to the Internet. It pays to be an intelligent and informed user especially when you know such incidents had happened before.

Work wise Singtel likely have scrimped on maintenance and monitoring - the business is not doing well. If not then on inadequate training and supervision since they have ruled out a cyber attack, an area of expertise they are investing heavily in these days.

Is Singtel doing a SMRT on us? Well the last big service failure was less than a year ago. We shall see if the next one is measured in months or years. It should be almost never except for few brief minutes, which should also be very rare.

Saturday, June 30, 2018

The boss: Universities Ranking

I agree with Ong Ye Kung but how to maintain a first rate reputation for our universities with scant regard for how they rank is not easy to pull off. I look forward to him taking the same attitude toward the various KPIs our government bodies are run. Never let the rankings or KPIs be the real boss unless they serve us very well. Even if they could start off on the right footing, mission drift is unavoidable given enough time. Good that this guy dares to change and is also modest enough to check help his predecessor achieved unmet goals. Most times we have the new boss more eager to make his own mark and no humility to continue the work of his predecessor when that is better for the people.

Friday, June 22, 2018

SG, CN and US: Doling out the Caesar's test

China is subjecting everyone and even American businesses to this "test of sincerity". That Taiwan is a part of China, show it in your company literature.

This reminds me of the old story when the religious leaders asked Jesus if they should pay taxes to Caesar? It was a trap just like China has set up for all of us as well. Jesus asked for a coin and then said, "Whose face is on the coin?" Afterwards he suggested you pay to each its due. We can do the same here. No maps are shown until you identify yourself. If you are Chinese nationals we will show you what you want to see. If you aren't, we won't provoke the Taiwanese with what the PRC want either.

Another version of this take which is more up to date is "see people talk people, see devil talk devil"

So what decoding China's demands?

Sunday, June 17, 2018

Ultimate American Hypocrisy

Yep, this is not new and shouldn't be news but it is only because it surfaces, got no traction and then disappears until the next time it pops up. America ought to be ashamed of this. It takes away any fragment of moral authority they have left to go around the world telling others how they should run their country. Physician heal thyself!

Hanbaobao Pte Ltd

McDonald's here knew how to have fun. Its business is registered as "Hanbaobao Pte Ltd". I have never noticed this but it caught the eye of the daughter this morning.

Tuesday, June 5, 2018

US-China relations: Keep Trying

Tom Plate calls Singapore "Smart Power". As a foreign writer he is unconstrained and may be where he comes from they are used to being more imaginative. Here we watch over our shoulders too much.

PM Lee has always been a good student of his late father's ideas and it comes sparkling through in this conversation with Tom Plate. What we do not know and may never is if he is able to when to adapt or reject old ideas when things change permanently. That is when the why of whys of previous ideas change.

PM Lee and his team are first class for understanding our problems but what is lacking are bold and imaginative solutions. I think from the late LKY perspective many of our problems are intractable if we cannot up our birth rates and it is clear we have not. Now I am not discussing this topic here, another time perhaps.

What I waited and did not get the satisfaction of reading is for PM Lee to say to the US and China is simply this: Keep trying to get along but also always commit to peaceful solutions. Make use of the time to understand each other better. In the past America's overwhelming superiority was a buffer to play nice and generous with China. Now that is gone the US feel insecure. Security blanket must be replaced with knowing China better. The Chinese must understand there may not be a peaceful rise for them but a huge waste of resources from overcoming obstacles the Americans will put in front of them if they do not do more to help American feel less threatened. China has to understand more haste means less speed and in this instance great danger as well. Domestically both sides must do something to rein in their hawks. There is not future in conflict. It is a totally bankrupt path.

Sunday, June 3, 2018

An impossible Indian Christian AG for Malaysia?

What an intriguing development next door! Mahathir and PH want to appoint a non-Muslim at the next AG for Malaysia? Coming from an old fox there is certainly more to this than meets the eye. No harm taking him at face value for now but I would be most surprised if in the end it isn't a Muslim (not necessarily Malay) that is appointed as AG. I have not the time to work this out. Even if I do, I am not confident I can figure this out. In the first place there is so much about Malaysia I don't know. My primary concern is if our leaders up to dealing with Mahathir.

Update: June 5, 11:50 am

Mahathir gets his way simply because the Constitution is on his side and as PM he has the initiative as the executive power. This is a multi-step play. Time will likely show that this story will not end normally like you would expect in most other countries. Keep watching.

Saturday, June 2, 2018

Best place to grow up: They forgot to ask the kids

My friend whatsapp this at our chat group yesterday

This morning I remarked that they forgot to ask the children.

Later when I was reading that on my PC, my daughter remarked that they were never asked their opinion and quickly offered that when they were in school her classmates were unhappy and wanted to leave Singapore if possible. Well only one had left and the rest are still here.

Singapore is indeed an excellent place for kids to grow in the same sense Churchill observed that democracy is the worst form of government saved all else. In this sense there is much room for improvement in the best country to bring up kids. Sharing pole position with us I suspect Slovenia kids are much happier and moe satisfied than ours.

Thursday, May 31, 2018

Big Four: Ownself check ownself

They "own self check own self one" as explained in the FT. This would have stayed remote if not for the fact that the daughter works for a Big Four and mommy had similarly started her career at a Big Four as well. How standards have fallen and right into the gutter as well. Mid-tier imports to make up for hemorrhaging talent every one the daughter came across were aghast how audits were carried out. Those fresh from university were bewildered why what they taught as absolutely unacceptable is de rigueur. Since daughter could benefit from the long experience of her mommy, we advised her better move on. She is learning all the wrong things and if she stuck around for too long will acquire all the bad habits.

It is a matter of time these biggies get into trouble in Singapore like they have elsewhere. The bigger lesson is there is only moral bankruptcy in "own self check own self". That is what the PAP believe in but is too embarrassed to admit.

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

High Pay: The solution became the problem

Spotted this in my Economist Daily Dispatch this morning. Nothing new here except that it helped me realized time has helped me made my mind clearer and sharper on the subject of our politicians' pay. I also believe time must have done the same for others as well.

Highly paid CEOs aren't admired. They are tolerated. Ditto our highly paid ministers. I watched how SR Nathan lost so much moral capital because of his high pay. He was much more admired before and after he left office. Tony Tan was forgettable and among practically all my friends, Halimah is disdained.

Paying them well was supposed to be a key plank in the solution to attract the right people into politics. The solution is now the problem, so what is the point? Their pa is so high that when you cut it is still very high.

This 130 times the pay of median workers will not be forever. Then what? The end result is hardly the point here. It is the journey from here to there that could sink us. Nobody is looking into this because those are highly invested in this structure are in charge and any answer to this problem must revolve around their high pay. In other words it is only a matter of time the PAP lose power because they will not negotiate on pay.

Monday, May 28, 2018

Bad Telcos everywhere eh?

I didn't realize the US ISPs/Telcos experience for their customers are so similar to us until I came across this story by Gizmodo. Allow to me to quote from it.

David VanAmburg, managing director ACSI, went further, explained in a statement that while most industries reward customer loyalty, “telecom is the exact opposite.” VanAmburg noted that ISPs and cable companies are “focused on customer acquisition and offering the best deal to lure customers away from competitors” rather than offering its existing customers any reason to stick around.

“focused on customer acquisition and offering the best deal to lure customers away from competitors” that sounded exactly like Singtel, Starhub and M1

Sunday, May 27, 2018

Arrived: This Is What Inequality Looks Like by Prof Teo You Yenn

This book took like forever to arrive. I managed to get my reserved copy this evening but not the chance to read it yet because the daughter is very eager to do that.

There are 42 copies in our libraries and more than a few copies are over due. That so many are interested is a very good sign. Also it is pointing out that this government is out of touch with how the people feel about this matter.

RI and HCI for the elites only

Yesterday was a different country separated by the moat of time which no bridge can be built to get across. There is no going back to the time when our top schools attracted students which were representative of the broader society. Now these schools mostly have students from well to do households.

We are trying to build that bridge to the past. Some are even romanticizing it as well. I think we can try and our leaders can pass off the effort as achievement but we will not succeed. Then they will excuse their failure from no lack of trying. At best we can retard the gentrification of society which is most glaring in our schools. To reverse that would require completely upsetting the apple cart. You want to be equally poor and start all over again?

We need new thinking here but I am not in the business of even thinking about one except that I always notice we are so proud of our existing paradigm that if it cannot produce a solution then any other solution is worse, anything good only looks that way on paper. So losers which unfortunately will make the majority simply have to suck it up and accept your lot in life. This is the sort of politics that would eventually lead to the fall of the PAP.

Haven't you notice yet that meritocracy is dying in Singapore? It has been fashionable for a while already who you know is often more important than what you know. In other words Singapore is more than physically growing old.

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

A viral message against LHL

I received three copies of this in a matter of hours and I did not bother to share it with others because I do not agree with everything in the message. Two of them attribute it to Gerard but with such messages you can never be certain until you can do some proper fact checking. Lee Hsien Loong better sit up and pay attention because this is probably viral. In other words regardless if this message is right it is resonating with many.

Excellent written by a retiree .... Seven pieces of advice Mahathir probably gave to Hsien Loong on his short visit to the comeback man in Putrajaya.

1. Next time when you partying with your new friends, don’t forget your old friends outside the gates. When you were eating Durians with Najib and Rosmah you did not even pay a visit to the old man Mahathir to say hello? Well I guess I was a pariah and you did not want to be associated with me. I understand. But good and insightful politicians never assume fallen leaders people can’t make a comeback.

So don’t just visit me or Anwar, make time for Najib later after all he is still your Friend is he not and who says he can’t make a comeback? Look at what I have done at 92. Najib still has some years to go.

2. There is no need to wear a batik shirt and smile all the time when you come to congratulate me. We are both PMs and are equal in status. If you are filled with humility and respect it will show in other ways so no need to put it on show.

I did not care much for your father and disagreed with his policies but I respected him for his firm resolve and standing up to other countries when it mattered. He was a true leader and had balls.

3. Be wise in placing your bets and if you lose it is Ok but never do a Tony Fernandez. When your horse doesn’t come in don’t go around telling people it was a mistake or you were forced to make the bet. People will lose respect for you. Don’t forget the same horse may win the next race. I am a good example.

4. Choose your cabinet ministers wisely. Scholars and Generals may be fine in intellect but are they leaders with courage and conviction who care enough for the Rakyat? Look at my team. Many have been imprisoned, persecuted and ostracised by BN and their henchmen but they stayed and fought for the Rakyat.

Guan Eng has done wonders for Penang. He was jailed twice but he had steel in him. He did not migrate but stayed on to fight because he believed in Malaysia. Now that’s what I call true leaders of the people not those who have high IQs and come out with fantastic income generating policies that contribute to GDP and GNP but with no real benefit for the Rakyat.

5. Choose men and women with backbones. Don’t choose people who always say yes to you. Look at Khairy, BN’s former Youth Minister. He is an Oxford grad and highly intelligent. But what did he do when BN was thrown out? He said “Oh we should have spoken out and it was a mistake not to tell Najib that his policies were wrong, etc.” What bullshit!

He had no guts to say no to Najib because he was a Yes man and enjoying all the perks of a Minister. You know what happens when you have Yes men in your cabinet? They think only of themselves. Like Judas they will disown you when the chips are down because now they hope they will be absolved of their past crimes.

6. Always remember to govern your country with a paramount emphasis on the rule of law. I admit I did not do so in the past when I was PM and that was a bad mistake. When you politicise the police, the attorney general, the civil service, heads of statutory boards, etc, they take the liberty of enforcing your rule with strong-armed and undemocratic tactics and practices.

That is not only wrong but harms your integrity, your people’s integrity and the reputation of your country. The world distrusted us because of it. I realised this when I was in the wilderness and part of the Rakyat.

7. Don’t get your wife too involved in the affairs of the state. Look at Rosmah. She did not hold any official appointment but she did give orders to many government officials and they obeyed because she was the PM’s wife. Plus Najib was under her spell.

Your Father was wise, your Mother played a very supportive role. I do the same with Siti Hasmah. She like your Mother are highly educated women but they stay in the background and are detached from any form of role that has a say in government, state investment or what to do with the state’s coffers.

You must remember the Rakyat  will always talk and such talk can also contribute to a tsunami which happened in our case.

Update: 12 pm

Just received my fourth copy and I haven't shared it with others.

Sunday, May 20, 2018

Not another of those HSK's feedback sessions

The last time Heng Swee Keat conducted such an exercise the only person we knew who was involved was a classmate of my younger daughter, someone who was winning and going places in the system. When it was over no more than 50,000 people had provided feedback. If Heng became PM, he will always have such feedback exercise. It is just human, no different from choosing a sit over a squat toilet.

I haven't found the time to read to the end NMP Kuik Shiao Yin's speech in parliament. Perhaps I will do so after posting this and only because I blogged about it and so feel responsible to do so.

Like Heng Swee Keat's previous exercise of soliciting feedback, I am as uninterested this time. Since then I have learned there were many like me. Talking to this government is a waste of time. Making a living in an environment when cost keeps going up is hard enough there is no time to talk to the government when you already know nothing is going to change i.e., prices are going up.

The government always look after itself first beginning with paying itself first and ensuring a wide margin of safety. That is why the GST is going up eventually to 9%. That is also why the government is not able to convince most of us why the impending hike is necessary. You can't justify the priority of government looking after itself first when publicly they espouse putting the people first. This government cannot be transparent because its embarrassing priorities would be made public but they can't do anything about coffee shop talk or the Taxi uncles complaining to riders. Some have even stopped talking and would let their vote do that. Of course unlike elsewhere the vote is meaningless when there is not alternative to the PAP.

When the Americans voted for Trump, they didn't like his ignoble values and behavior but that crazy decision made sense when you consider that voters thought those in Washington were worse than Trump. The fear in this tiny island state is that eventually people here might do the same. That would be the ultimate cutting your nose to spite your face. Before we get to that point the flashing red light is when people are no longer even interested to talk to you. The only talking is when they kick your ass over why the lift aren't working or the place is dirty. I think the media especially social media is already reflecting that.

Update: 9:35 am

As expected I felt the need to read Kuik Shiao Yin's speech. Here is the bit from her I identify best with.

My own sense of the ground - I could be wrong and you may disagree with me - is that there are more people who have dissenting views about what’s going on in our country than government- commissioned opinion polls reveal. This is partly because many people in this segment are unlikely to answer such polls in the first place. They don’t like registering their dissent openly - be it on survey, on social media or any form of record. The reasons why people keep their dissent to themselves vary: some honestly assume that their opinion is unimportant or unqualified; some like getting along and fear that their honesty will invite an open rebuke or a cold shoulder from establishment; others say it is self-preservation based on their past experiences. Whatever it is, their quiet dissent is real and such withholding of views may give leadership the wrong impression that all is quiet on the western front. 

She missed my reason why: Waste of time.

She was as usual very eloquent and persuasive. I think she can carry many inexperienced young people with her but to me translating a great speech into practice often face daunting odds not surmountable except with even stronger convictions. I don't believe we possess them yet but we will. Just be patient.

Friday, May 18, 2018

DAP MP Tony Pua: SG has no moral compass

The downfall of BN in Malaysia is a Black Swan event for Singapore which our leaders will not publicly admit. Evidence that this was not thought to be possible can be surmised from the writings of our brilliant but cocky Bilahari Kausikan. Unfortunately cockiness have the tendency to cause a brilliant person to over reach his intellectual abilities and foresight. Now reading Tony Pua's 2015 article must be a bitter experience which Kausikan would avoid experiencing.

My primary interest in the article is just one: Moral Compass. I agree with Tony Pua we have none. Not that we are immoral, we are just not moral but are principled as best as can be with respect to our permanent interests. It is a cynical way to view the world. From such a base trying to get the population to have ideals and reach for the stars can only result in hypocrisy. The evidence of that grows every year giving rise to a dissatisfied and unhappy people. The government is doing most things right and yet it has not gotten things right. How can this be? It is because we pretend to have found the meaning of Singapore and the meaning of our lives.

We got to get past from knowing to price of everything and the value of nothing. Without idealism there is no value in anything. Everything is reduced to commercialism and accounting. This is not sustainable. Any country wanting to take over Singapore, that is easy. Just do nothing and be patient. Given enough time the contradictions and hypocrisies of this society will cause it to implode.

Update: May 19, 9:10 pm

I wasn't expecting this. The timing was perfect. Thanks MP Seah Kian Ping

See Today Online.

Quoting from the end paragraph of the story:

It may be that there is no one policy – no matter how bold – that will address the most pressing problems of our times. It may be that Singapore today is a problem for the foxes rather than hedgehogs, but we will need first to recognise that foxes speak the multi-tonal language of values, rather than the universal language of money. We must therefore make the language of morality our vernacular in policy matters.

What is this language of values? Don't imagine we already know what it is. We could mostly grasped it as something idealistic, but how to make it real.

I sometimes remind my children if ever they found themselves to be in Lincoln's shoes then like the highly regarded Honest Abe, they must confidently say that they have no knowledge that the Confederates were here to sue for peace. Afterward go and ask God for forgiveness.

Saturday, May 12, 2018

Surreal Politics Next Door

My friends and I across various chat groups have been exchanging notes on the recent Malaysia general elections. How could I not have a blog post on this topic? It was a watershed election by any measure. A party in power for over sixty years had been dethroned. Everyone is anxiously waiting what is coming next. The whole thing is stranger than fiction. When truth takes on a character more unimaginable than science fiction how can everyone not be anxious? Even your pets are stressed, only the ignorant Singaporeans are still hunky dory nonchalant because unlike his or her neighbor, many here have ignored the commotion next door.   

Friday, May 11, 2018

Assisted suicide anyone?

Euthanasia is a topic we try to avoid but when someone like this aged scientist insisted on it the story forces us to return to this topic once more.

I noticed from the comments left on Facebook, those who are not adherents of any religion are solidly for this option to end their lives. A few pointed out the family experience of how a very old relative had begged to die.

Those who have religious faith typically have a shallow understanding of this issue. They often just mouthed what their religious teachers had taught them. Unless they deepen their faith I don't think they have sufficient conviction to choose one way or the other except the social pressure they are getting whilst remaining in faith.

In future I expect more to lean toward assisted suicide

Sunday, April 29, 2018

Bilahari Kausikan hates Jimmy Carter

LKY thought the least of Jimmy Carter as US President and was never shy to expressed it in public but only when asked. Like Pol Pot trying to out do Mao, Kausikan was trying to out do LKY criticism of Jimmy Carter. He offered it without solicitation.

When I read the NYT article, I realized "Pious" in the title was only to attract readers because the story went on to explain how Carter separated State and Religion than all modern US Presidents. Graphically, he did not invite Billy Graham to his White House. Therefore I concluded that Kausikan was simply extremely prejudiced about Carter. Now Jimmy Carter is too forgiving as a good Christian to take offence and Kausikan iron balls as usual were because Carter isn't the one occupying the Oval Office. He ought to learn some manners from Tommy Koh.

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Farewell Inuka

We have stopped being FOZ for donkey years because as the children grew beyond 12 years old we no longer qualify. They still keep emailing me about happenings at the various zoos though,

As I read how they had euthanized Inuka, I wonder in the face of slowing economic growth, severe financial constraints and general hopelessness would we not one day be mercy killing people as well? It is unthinkable now but the unthinkable will have to become thinkable when forced by circumstances.

Friday, April 20, 2018

Effective Startup Management

I was so piqued by how succinctly Marissa Mayer put this across in the NYT interview.

"Management by yelling" that is how Google operated as startup.

I had read about how tough Marissa Mayer was as a boss at Google and later Yahoo. Civility comes much later and then now given their global reach, fighting the ills of bureaucracy must have been a huge challenge.

How to get promoted? "I always knew what Larry and Sergey wanted". That has never changed. It was true even before our specie learnt how to read and write.

Sunday, April 15, 2018

Another Anniversary of Dad's passing

Eight years already. I finally made it to the library at the Buddhist Lodge a couple of months ago to see what it was like. He has spent countless hours here and had learnt so much. Now that I also try to read up on this as well, sometimes I said to myself: I am reading what I had heard from you before.

Some of my primary and secondary school classmates have begun to pay more attention to their Buddhist faith. I think people develop a keener interest in spiritual matters as they age, not only to understand what their lives had been but also what is coming. They embrace Buddhism very differently from their parents. I sense they are doing it more like what my father had.

Friday, April 13, 2018

Reckless E-scooter rider

Governments all over the world, ours no exception are behind the curve on public safety issues: Wait for many more people to be injured before they do more. However if an increasing number of people take extraordinary precaution or even stay away from pavements and walkways then there would be fewer such incidents as well. This is silent bullying.

In future one feature of being smart nation is that E-scooters and PMDs might have speed and location trackers on them. If you ride dangerously you will be booked before you can injure anyone including your reckless self. Sure there would be push back on such a proposal over the issue of privacy. Where do we draw the line between personal and public freedoms? Note that nobody except some software is interested in your speed and movement until you become too interesting that the system begin to notice.

Update: 4:30 pm

Look, the electronic ink on my original post hasn't even dry yet! Speed thrills especially when you do not need to put in the effort (the battery is doing it). It is just irresistible and there will be a disproportionate number of riders who would go too fast. Who is there to stop them when they do until they either crash or more likely ran into some poor pedestrian? 

To be practical but just very annoying, pedestrians should be looking out for these speedsters as well. Those reckless riders have a false sense of safety and you cannot count on them for your own well being. 

Update: April 18 8:40 pm

I am interested in this story because it lists the recent incidents. I think has become an every day problem as no every accident is covered by the media. 

Dr. Thum only as historian

I support Dr. Thum as a professional historian but for meddling in our domestic politics with foreign help, definitely not.

Car: 14 months to do 10K

Took this picture whilst waiting for my turn for the service adviser. I have not been here for more than a year. Used to send the car here every four months. Fourteen months and I had barely done 10,000 km.

Next year gotta to decide to give up the car, renew COE or replace it. I haven't done the homework on which is best. I think the default is renewing the COE especially when the car is driven so little. But if the COE prices become stupid then getting a new one might be attractive although financially it never makes sense. The most sensible option is actually to give up the car and tell the one still in school to Uber/Grab to and from NUS eh?

I am too busy to look at this now but I like the sky blue on the left and the dark grey on the right best. Meanwhile I have signed a one year service package with them.