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.

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Facebook: Cambridge Analytica and Me

Since someone served me the link to check if my information and activities on Facebook had be tapped upon by Cambridge Analytica, I decided to give it a try.

Here was my response to the sender:

I would love to see Cambridge Analytica crash and burn for their depravity. As for Facebook, it is hard for users to leave. I am as good as RIP on Facebook but I have not left my "grave" either. To another friend I wrote that Facebook is like a company you work for and no longer like and you are looking to change jobs. It takes a while but once an attractive offer is available, you will quit and join the other firm. The best days for Facebook is behind them.

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

PAP say history not for historians

Kitchens not for cooks eh? What rubbish was Desmond Lee and Janil Puthucheary spewing?

I let some of the comments do the talking for me.

Well said Janice Lee. Clearly LKY would not approve how the tribe of PAP is appropriating his name and legacy. They are not good enough to stand on their own they wanted LKY as their crutch but we are not clueless and will not accept any of these tricks.

Tuesday, April 3, 2018

38 Oxley Road: Demolish it for SG future

That is from LHY Facebook page and this post is recording what I told my children yesterday. I told them why a large country or even a group of islands like Japan is different from city states.

The reason is quite simple although I have never heard it explained. You can't relocate China, India, Indonesia, Australia or even Japan. However just take the example of China, its capital has been moved many times and what is a capital but the most important city of a country or empire. So that is the challenge for Singapore, a city state. As a city it cannot be anchored  must less be permanent. It always have to defend, adapt and if necessary find new reasons to be where it is. A city must be 100% adaptable. In other words no structure is sacrosanct. You can gazette an old building as a monument but unlike in large countries, we must be prepared to tear it down when it becomes necessary. The life of a city if it wants to last the longest time is a brutal one. If necessary it must be prepared to completely abandon its past and only let history remember it.

That is why LKY recommended that his house be demolished. It is part of a hard value system that is necessary for the long term survival of this place. Adapt or perish even if it means you become unrecognizable in the process. Unfortunately we have leaders who a small on courage and big on giving themselves As for performance. The PAP want to use 38 Oxley Road for its self interest. In this instance it is completely inimical to the interest of our children teaching them the wrong values for their long term security.

38 Oxley Rd: Do not misuse experts

Today they are experts, tomorrow they are just some artificial intelligence application. Within their narrow view they offer you their professional opinion. It is up to us to consult our moral compass on what to do. I say again, let LKY final wish be granted him. Demolish the house.

Friday, March 30, 2018

Shanmugam vs Thum Ping Tjin

No way I have the time not only to sit through this but also pay close attention to the to and fro between Shanmugam and Thum. What I came away is the ways lawyers and historians differ from each other and I get tempted to consult Karl Popper on the limits of knowing. This is a waste of time!

What is fake news and what is falsehoods? While we are not talking about the shape of water here, this is actually much harder than that. Water will take the shape of whatever container you pour it into but truth which is to be practical often mixed with some off-truth may or may not assume the shape of the container you pour it into.

So Shanmugam wanted to pour his collection of facts but without explaining what he chose to omit, Thum did the same as well. Once into his lawyerly containers and the other into what credible peer historians do for their discipline. Spare us we the people all these or we would have become lay lawyers and historians ourselves.

Good luck if you want a just law against fake news and being clever not to be clear and defined what is the objective of this law except in the broadest motherhood terms. Afterward those in power can use it to legitimize their use to protect and advance their power.

The problem between me and you the government is a simple and old fashioned one: Can I trust you? I don't think there is straight forward answer to that. The context and God forbid the nuance is necessary to answer that question.

Shanmugam was the driver and Thum his hostage passenger here and the minister was wasting our time!

Update: 2:15 pm

That is from a friend's Facebook page. I have known her for many years now but didn't discover how prejudiced and racist she was until Trump became a presidential candidate.

People do anything they want to news. The article by Newsweek was slanted to attract readers but by no means wrong or irresponsible because the writer eventually cleared the air. People just want to read what their hearts want to confirm. This person deny the global climate is warming and among many things insist Obama was not born in America. Oh yes, she loves Trump and to her the Donald can do no wrong.

My point? People pick their facts and join the dots they want. They can be highly disciplined like Shanmugam and Thum were or patently stupid like this friend.

Update: 2:25 pm

I am just dismayed with this bunch who commented on her post. Clearly none of them read the Newsweek article.

I have also given up trying to persuade people that are like that. The heart is more powerful than the mind. In fact it directs the mind. Nowhere is this more obvious than in financial markets. Generally we are somewhat or very crazy and somehow we got by without blowing up the world.

Update: 9:50 pm

A whole new level of faking is just at the edge of the horizon. Only a matter of time more people are capable of doing this. Here is an example of making photo realistic fakes of Obama speaking which is impossible to tell. How do you deal with such challenges? What use are fake news laws against the march of technology.

Read more at Synthesizing Obama: Learning Lip Sync from Audio SIGGRAPH 2017

Update: April 3 12:05 pm

Just got that from a friend. If Shanmugam had done a good job, there would not be an opportunity like this to lampoon him.

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Josephus Tan mistake with the PAP

Clearly Josephus Tan can add diversity to the PAP the largely monolithic mix but what a clumsy party the PAP is. The many leaks, especially the public ones only stoke cynicism among us. What a huge gap between the talk and the walk. This can only reinforce the perception that they are always screwing us behind our backs. My understanding is admin service officers and ministers area always playing heads I win, tails you lose to entrench themselves forever in power. This is not the way to grow courage or skin in the game. Facing voters who do not have an alternative during elections is not skin in the game.

Even with the huge margin of safety they have gotten for themselves, Josephus Tan was still beyond their comfort zone.

The war goes on: LGBT vs Conservative Christians

On the surface it doesn't look like the LGBT community is attacking anti-LGBT churches. It becomes clear when I read the article (Lou Engle: An American Threatens a Christian-Muslim Divide in Singapore) alluded to in this story.

It was nice to see Lawrence Khong and his gang avoiding any action to publicly provoke the LGBT community but forgiveness and graciousness is not part of those on the LGBT side and they have taken this opportunity when a perfect excuse became available to borrow the government's knife on them. To me that is the main story.

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

The Racial Balance

I read no more than 10% of this Natgeo story on race in America. That is all the time I could afford. The thought circulating in my mind all the time is a multi-racial place like ours, we have taken care but without shouting about it, not to upset the racial balance here. We may not be able to survive the social convulsions the Americans are living through right now.

Let's watch this ongoing American experiment. There are rich lessons for us.

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Nothing new here: Singtel sucks

For years now, we all know Singtel sucks. We have usually managed to deal with them quite successfully though. It is the papers and social media we got to learn how bad their service is.

The secret to "staying safe" with Singtel is to keep your business simple, engaging them with the sales and service processes which most of their customers need them for. If you do that you are OK. Unfortunately that formula did not work for me a few days ago.

Yesterday, I waited a whole day for the SIM card to arrive to no avail (see their email above). Today I called them and as usual after almost half an hour wait, I was told it would be coming to me in the mail and the card is set for activation on March 28. I asked them why didn't they say so in the first place?

Moral: Avoiding transacting online with Singtel.

The last time we tried buying Office 365 for the family, we had a lot of problems until it ended with them offering wifey, "a thousand apologies". That month we didn't even receive our regular bills from them.

The reason for this blog post is I forgot Singtel sucks. Now I will remember for a long time and act defensively to protect ourselves.

Monday, March 19, 2018

Friendship: The one who never left

He is not the only one who ignores me. On my part I usually do not remember either after a day or two. I just do this for each one of them, The majority are more polite and usually return with "Thanks" or "Thank you"

“Friendship isn't about whom you have known the longest... It's about who came, and never left your side. ♥”

This has been going on for decades but only this morning I decided to blog about it. The children are now old enough to have made and lost friends at least a few times over. I want to impress upon them to be the one who never left. On this I have told them so many stories. I have even shown my parents' and my wedding photos and asked, how many of these friends have left. 

This is the spirit of the Gospel. 

To be practical sometimes you have to be quite silent because that is how they prefer it. You don't want to be a pest but you always as much as possible try to learn how they are getting on. Occasionally out of the blue one might asked for help and I never said no.

What I said no to are those who wants to meet up socially. I have no time for that. They loved to used such occasions to talk about frivolous nothings, complain or an opportunity for humble bragging.

Update: 9:40 am

Guess what? All the years of patience was worth it. I just got a word of thanks. But even if I do not, I will still keep doing it. It's the spirit of the Gospel. 

Sunday, March 18, 2018

This is what inequality look like in Singapore

There are 40 copies of this book, "This is what inequality looks like" and 105 reserves. Thumbs up to the intense interest in this subject but I am also worried about the simplistic solutions the public is likely to entertain and then the half-hearted attitude the government always have towards poverty. They are forever nagging us about the need to change mindset but perhaps the greatest imperative for a new mindset is on their end.

I have not had the chance to read this book but based on Han Fook Kwang's essay in the ST today, it hinted very much like what I had read countless times in the US. I even have a friend in such dire straits. For a while she was on the verge of being homeless. Countless times she almost didn't manage to get into a shelter and that would meant sleeping in the streets.

Thursday, March 15, 2018

UOB Internet Banking dongle

DBS Bank was better. When my dongle no longer worked they replaced it on the spot. Activating the new dongle was a breeze.

After more than 10 years my UOB dongle display is almost invisible. When I took it to the Holland Village branch, the officer told me I had to wait five working days to get a new dongle. She told me she was aware that DBS replaced it on the spot but at her bank they are not able to do the same.

Whilst driving I got a call from the UOB officer. She discovered we are "Privilege Banking" customers and offered to move our cash to a higher yielding product. I told her I am only interested in moving the money to another bank. Also I never signed up for Privilege Banking. They sent me the forms but I never signed and returned them. Then one day, we were "Privilege" customers.

What I wanted from them are very simple things, done conveniently and efficiently. Now I wonder would I have gotten the dongle on the spot if we told them we were ":Privilege" customers. I can't imagine the much higher class Private Banking would not have a dongle replaced on the spot.

No matter, I can't imagine staying with them for another ten years for this dongle's display to fade.

Well the story didn't end here. When I got my dongle, I failed to activate it when I followed the procedure correctly. Apparently I needed to wait ten minutes for the system to get updated but there was nothing to advise so. I thought something was wrong and I called customers service for help. The call lasted more than ten minutes. The problem solved itself.

So what good is UOB  to us? The queue at their ATMs is almost always shorter than DBS/POSB.

Stephen Hawking and Christians

My ex boss shared this with me in an email and I looked it up on Bloomberg.

It was a very good read by Nathan Myhrvold but then I thought of what Christians had in the past remarked to me about Prof Hawking: he is going to hell because he is an atheist.

I took the opportunity to share these thoughts in my reply to her email.

Incredible spirit Stephen Hawking had. No wonder it took so many years for his illness to knock him out.

On some occasions Christians have pointed out to me that Stephen Hawking is going to hell because he is an atheist. I wished these people would first care about their own fate before worrying about others. Being the celebrity he was I wasn't surprised to just Googled and find this at Time:

Well I think not a few atheists would wake up from death into heaven. I don't know which ones. I am less sure about Christians though.

Sunday, March 11, 2018

Bullying in Parliament

A friend sent me this, the Facebook post by Tan Cheng Bock: Be gracious in parliament.

PAP MPs and Ministers have to bear this in mind, carve it on their hearts as well. If you bully defenseless others, the public will take it out on you. The merit of your logic becomes lost and irrelevant. As politicians you have failed badly even if you may be able administrators.

I have written in this space many years ago that politicians must be politicians and not try to be civil servants passing themselves off as politicians and political leaders, worse as moral leaders.

As persuaders they get a failed grade from me. What is the use if you have workable plans (I don't think anywhere near the best because they lack courage) but cannot sell it to the people. It is as good as you have no plan.

These PAP types are so full of themselves, so arrogant and condescending to others. Sure, they happened to also been known to be humble but it is all show and no substance, often choreographed. These are not humble folks. They have no idea what humility is, which unfortunately is too rare anywhere in this world. Therefore they succeed with "having no airs" which is just show-humility to be the real thing. Even their president is on this.

I feel sad for Singapore. The PAP have gutted and gamed the system that we have no choice but them. This moral corruption could potentially end Singapore's success. These self serving creatures starting from the PM who are in the dark of their hypocrisy. How else can they live with it right? But the public is not fooled.

This is the failing fourth generation PAP leaders. Can't they learn anything from DPM Tharman?

Update: 8:50 pm

I just came from reading Indranee Rajah's post on this matter. I never said the PAP were wrong about the facts or they were bad administrators but they are lousy politicians and communicators. The following are some of the response from the public to her post and see the number of likes on them.

Indranee and her colleagues must be puzzled why people cannot be persuaded. Well they are out of touch. That is the challenge they must learn to overcome. You are a politician and not a civil servant. Your logic is sound but so what?

Long ago, Sim Wong Hoo made the better MP3 player but it was the inferior but also quite good Apple iPod which won the day. Sim was too much of an engineer just as you PAP types are too much of a civil servant. As Philip Yeo advised, let the civil servants get on with their jobs and you better learn to be better politicians.

The trouble with you PAP types is that you are just like the lumberjacks who after many years of successfully cutting down trees look at every problem as you have always viewed them. But you are no longer lumberjacks so why are you still working your old jobs in your newer roles? This is the ultimate evidence of poor accountability in our political system that you can get away with such. Of course we voters would not tolerate this.

So it was never the merits of your logic but your arrogant and bullying attitude we are faulting.