Wednesday, April 30, 2014

President's Book Award 2014

My daughter emailed this to me six days ago. This morning I have to decide if I would keep or delete this.

I can't remember if I had blogged about her rejecting the NUS scholarship interview. They had short listed her when she didn't even apply. A few days later this came.

I am only speculating. Perhaps those with results like hers are mostly lost to foreign top colleges? But she isn't ready to go overseas and I hope she would in the next few years. We are working towards that.

Meanwhile her younger sister is feeling the pressure because she knows she can at least do as well as her elder sister since she has no learning disability. Actually she is disabled by a very sophisticated laziness. Just because the doctors refused to identify that as a disability doesn't mean it isn't. She regularly under performs and than out perform at the critical moment. She collects too many most improved prizes.

Last night I reminded her that sloth is one of the seven deadly sins. Don't be like the servant with one talent and goes to bury it in the ground, and I reminded her she isn't given one but five talents. Even the teachers have stopped worrying about her when she under perform in tests. However I warned her last night that the hare woke up late and lost to the tortoise.

What did they say about first born winners? The learning disabled girl is the first born who rose to the occasion.

It is how you finish that counts.

Risky Valore Power Banks

Slightly more than a month ago I swear off all Valore products because every gadget I had from them turned out to be lemon. I am not surprise a fiasco like this has happened to them with the power banks they are selling. My guess is ST has also slanted the story to make them look less bad because Challenger is a big advertiser. The excuse is if the likes of Sony and Lenovo couldn't do better, Valore can and should be forgiven.

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Slipping standards at the Straits Times

Taken from yesterday ST. What on earth is ST doing? Making glaring mistakes have become routine at the paper. The editors are sleeping or what? One page says foreigners can't get jobs and a few pages later the reverse message. Each story was inadequate leaving so many questions unanswered. Keep up such habits ST and you will keep losing credibility!

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Wheelchairs at Gardens by the Bay

From the ST two days ago.

I never fail to see some visitors on wheelchairs at the gardens by the bay. This is one of the best feature of the place, making it extremely wheelchair friendly.

The government is clearly pulling out all the stops to make the pioneer generation feel wanted. Words won't do, hence the Pioneer Generation Package. I am also impressed with this 10 year old ability to connect with his age polar opposite a 96 year old. My kids could not understand, much less speak Teochew and Cantonese. They didn't spend enough time with their grand parents, and their early demise of course didn't help matters.

In her senior years tulips replaced roses as my late mom favorite flowers. Pity she couldn't stay long enough to visit the flower dome. She doesn't even need to be in her 90s. If only she could lived to 73, she would have made it here last year. At least we brought her to Floriade in 2002.

Monday, April 28, 2014

Obama: Malaysia cannot succeed unless...

It was a message that Obama was the most apt person to carry to the Malaysians.

Then I found that YouTube had this town hall meeting made available by the State Department.

He is long on ideals and short on delivery especially at home. That is the consequence of their political system. But ideals are important which Singapore is sorely short on. As Lincoln pointed out we need to get our compass correct without which you cannot lead. A better life is not good enough because we do not live by bread alone. In fact up to a point, we might trade surplus bread for a better society and humanity, and every year we throw away more food than the year before.

If we do not start taking care of the things that elude KPIs, in time to come there will be no KPIs at all.

Dr. Gordon Tan's boat

OK, so the doc who helped brought our kids into this world was in the Sunday Times yesterday. For his wealth, I thought he owns a very modest boat.

Sunday, April 27, 2014

LKY at Tulipmania

Lee Kuan Yew was at Tulipmania this evening. There were lots of visitors especially on Sunday evening. We hope to go again before the festival is over. We were there early in the morning on Easter Sunday before the crowd arrived.

It is lovely to see so many people are so fond of Tulips.

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Govt too cocky on the minimum wage

I could never make up my mind about the minimum wage. If I am not wrong I had written for it and mainly because the government was stubbornly against it. Sometimes I had expressed my perplexity too. Today I discovered the Oracle of Omaha is also stumped by it, but he is far clearer about it than me. I am also not old enough to have studied this for 50 years. 

Therefore if we could come up with something else that we can be more confident of, that is where we should head toward. For America, Buffett already has a worthy suggestion. 

So what the government ought to have done is admit they don't know. In such times, a little more humility could counter intuitively help you with more votes. Don't be cocky on something you have very little chance of getting right. You only end up with less credibility which is exactly what they are suffering now. 

Dyslexia: End of Journey

Most days, I try to see what Kindle is offering for free and most times I quit empty handed, but there were times I had got real gems from them. This window shopping is fun and a good break from work.

I just saw this book and it kinda of reminds me that we are at the end of the journey fighting dyslexia. Of course I will never forget the battles fought and so there isn't a need to chronicle them here. Had we continue with DAS, I think they might make her a poster girl, but we turned our backs on them. They had helped to diagnose her dyslexia but were pretty poor at helping her cope.

Her O levels certificate has a mark to show that she was given additional time but by the time she took the A levels she was with everyone. When the cert comes later this year, you cannot tell that she was dyslexic. Well she still is, and playing to her strengths and avoiding her weaknesses, she would avoid subjects that demand too much spelling.

Will I have to give her spelling in NUS? I don't know. May be that's why I didn't think we have scored a total victory against dyslexia but on paper you can no longer tell.

It has taken this item at Amazon Kindle to help me realize the battle is basically over.

Sewol Tragedy: Daddy save me

Korea better learn from this tragedy or these deaths and broken families are for nothing. I feel like hanging those responsible for this.

Reading this is like an arrow shot straight through the heart and then shot again and again. The father would have traded his life for his child anytime. There is no bottom to such grief. I hope the father do not end up committing suicide to seek relief from depression. If anything those responsible should go jump into the sea. But remember additional deaths do not bring the dead back to life.

NS: Parag Khanna absurd suggestion

Ah this Parag Khanna again. I almost always disagree with him. To me he just doesn't get it and I am glad many commenters do.

NS is about our security first and last. Anything else you do with it please check its original purpose first, which will never change.

And why did the paper even bother to waste space for a column by Khanna is beyond me. This guy is even more mistaken than AWARE protests against additional benefits for NSmen. AWARE as usual fails to see the larger picture.

Back to the dentist

Until we lost our dentist when he left the group about two years ago, we had been very regular with our dental visits.

Time make this long delayed return. Wifey went first. I will arrange for the rest of us at another time soon.

Durians for Dinner

Had "mao wang" durians for dinner last night which we bought from the pasar malam stall. They were very good unlike the ones from the regular fruit stall. Paid $25 for them.

Friday, April 25, 2014

Q&A with Michelle Obama

Wow, what a child. So young and sensible. I am quite confident prospective employers will step forward to see if they could do something for this family. This is the moment when all the rejections turn into acceptance. We have all seen this before.

In America, every leader hands are tied. The President powers at home are curtailed. No wonder they are so good at where the law couldn't reach: reaching for the heart, giving encouragement. That is what those soaring rhetoric are for; to help people not to lose hope because government takes forever to get its act together.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Roach egg case :-(

Found this today :-( This is a roach fighting setback. At least I destroyed this egg case.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

4G Plans: Money or Votes?

The government has got to decide which one: money or votes? You can't have both. For too long they have had their cake and eat it until trust between them and the people are damaged. They privatized these businesses with monopoly pricing power earning rich dividends for Temasek Holdings. Altogether these companies as rentiers significantly raise the cost of living here. It is nothing but additional taxes without calling them as such.

The government have finally wisely decided that they prefer votes to money. Today they carried a big stick and gently persuaded the telcos to behave better. To most of us, all three of them have negative brand value.

Next step, let's see if IDA is shrewd enough to successfully introduce competition and honest pricing into the consumer telco market. Of course unless these fat and complacent companies increase productivity and especially innovate, they will bring less dividends to the government via Temasek Holdings. The problem with them is that their senior managers are too comfortable but those down the line are badly led, over worked and demoralized. You have got to light a fire under their cushy chairs.

At the end of the day what is the use of collecting so much money if it means the support for the PAP is eroded away. You will end up handing power to a non-PAP government which never earned it. You are the stupidest political party to do that. That's is giving back to the PAP the sort of vibes we used to get from LKY.

Commodity Smartphones

Caught this on the paper version of  Digital Life early this morning. Xiaomi and Redmi arrived first, now this. Rumors had it that Amazon will be launching a smart phone too. Now the blind and deaf also cannot missed this: smartphones are now commodities. Meanwhile Apple has failed to find a blazing successor to the ageing iPhone and Samsung doesn't have a leader to follow. When it tried to lead, it did a bad job with Gear.

Basically the industry has to wait for innovative and curious new technologies to design the next generation of nobody is imagining product. There will be another Steve Jobs by another name just as you might see Steve as a version of Henry Ford or Akio Morita. I suppose he or she (why not) isn't with Apple, Sony and certainly not Ford. But I think that person is likely to be American.

Small things and Big things

The car ahead of me wouldn't wait for them and I guess many would not wait for the second pedestrian. She appreciated it and waved to me to say thanks :-) I don't usually get this. These days many see it as their right or entitlement especially the teenagers.

I always like to begin the day this way. It is the small things that count and the challenge is to persuade more people to get involved. William Wan is at his best encouraging little acts of kindness but often got it very wrong when he tried to tackle the big issues. At the level of the individual it is the relationships and trust between us than bind us. Scale it up to the size of the nation state, only self interest matter. Little wonder I have found far too many provocations from the bigger issues to criticize. Foreigners do not understand. They have left the worse back home for the better here. On the other hand, we are accepting the worse from the better before. It is still very good but the trend is bad, i.e., tomorrow will not be better unless we reverse the trends.

Policy making here had been relatively easy in the past because unlike most places, we were willing to make sacrifices for the long term good. That is now broken and the government is trying to recapture that because in the end that is our decisive advantage against everyone else. Unfortunately the ST instead of helping is making things harder and worse not just for the PAP government but all of us too. Increasingly they are running the paper only for the bottom line. They are not burning fat but eating their muscles. The future is not bright for them.

Nevertheless I like today. It has started very well.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

ST incredible response to Tan Chuan Jin

On April 21st, the ST news editor wrote this to Tan Chuan Jin. To me it was a self incriminating letter. If you are that august newspaper, THE newspaper then this is unforgivably sloppy work.

"Could we have phrased our sentences better...." Look, you are not in school, so why didn't you do better? Close reading? You didn't write a text book, why should readers be burdened with close reading? Why so defensive? ST should have apologized for their poor work and strive to do better.

As I have complained on and off in this blog, the standards at ST has fallen but now I think it keeps falling. Where and when will it hit bottom?

The game has changed. If they are not up to the task, as nature abhors a vacuum, it will in time be filled as long as readers are discerning and demanding high standards.

For my reference, TCJ Facebook post which elicited ST response.

Update: 4:30 pm

Read the Cheerleading association response.

Sloppy work is now the habit of the Straits Times. It is getting easier and easier all the time to discover people complaining that the facts in the ST is wrong or they have been misrepresented.

My guess for this ongoing rot in the paper is they are struggling to be a financial out performer (I had seen this coming and sold all my SPH shares). Staff salaries is one of their major expense and they could not hire and pay enough people to keep up standards. They are squeezing blood out of stones with journalists and editors taking short cuts. Not long ago after the A levels results came out, I told my daughter her schoolmate made a mistake to accept the SPH journalism scholarship.

Workplace happiness survey launched

Remind me not to trust the results of this survey when it is completed and published. They have totally no regard for taking an unbiased sample. This is a gimmick as anyone an just log in and participate. A cheap marketing ploy by the Align Group and SHRI complete disregard to its credibility and brand.

On the other hand everyone is doing these sort of useless projects these days. You lose out and die when people forget about you. In this sense you have no choice. Therefore readers and consumers simply have to learn to be more discerning and eventually call the bluff. It would be a long wait.

Everyone is so short term these days but they also claim to be long term focused because that is what the public want to hear. This government not excepted. We are going to pay a heavy price down the road.

The B777 isn't here. Where?

For a while I have been nursing the dark thought that this was a plot to bring down the Malaysian government. I always hope I was wrong and the search team have found the black box by now. We have watched many episodes of Natgeo Air Crash Investigations to know that you must find debris from the plane even as you are near the black box. So it is no surprise that they finally admit they could very well be searching in the wrong place. Where is the right place then? Who knows? In other words we may never locate the whereabouts of the Boeing 777.

I needed more 'evidence' for my conspiracy idea. MH 192 burst tire provided that.

Truly when no sensible hypotheses could be suggested for MH 370 disappearance, can you help not speculating. We must not take any of these wild theories too seriously but the ability to speculate is also how investigators might continue to investigate. How to begin if you simply say you do not know?

Time to consider who, what and why might be trying to bring down the Malaysian government.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Bertha Henson: No more august ST

Bertha Henson is right to point out this glaring misreporting by ST. Get it ST, it wasn't 26,000 but 300! ST appears to be up to something cheeky here. What's your agenda?

BBC has fallen, ST couldn't stand tall either. Nearly all publications are much less trustworthy these days. Bertha Henson was just trying to rub it in with the august Straits Times. It is not Shitty Times like some say, but it is now more crooked than ever.

No need to confess your agenda, we know. Come 2016 you have so little credibility reporting the elections, the PAP will regret. If I am a party leader, I should be thinking of SPH alternatives to reach the electorate. Credibility is very expensive and you keep selling it for a song.

Get rid of STOMP.

But I thoroughly enjoy reading Jonathan Eyal, Ching Cheong etc., only a handful of names. I have given up reading Warren Fernandez opinion pieces. He is a light weight.

And who gave the go ahead to republish Lee Wei Ling's piece on Easter yesterday? Almost the same article that came out last year.

Roach: this one got away

For now. 

Haven't spotted one for more than a year and was unhappy to see the record broken early this morning at about 5:30

I believe it is not going to survive but neither can I confirm that. It would be a lot of work removing the clutter to find out :-(

Sunday, April 20, 2014

What I got from work sites mishaps

This put paid the idea that lowly paid foreign workers at our construction sites are happy. Forget about the COI on the Little India riot. The most powerful bullying weapon is FEAR. These workers are afraid to be repatriated with debt up to their eyeballs.

You must be out of your mind to think workers would put their lives at risk. They only do so because they calculated the risk to be acceptable, which we know isn't. However beyond a certain accident rate, they will revolt. If we don't improve our record and let this rot, we are nursing a time bomb.

Forget about market forces setting prices. Before we talk market, we must address the distribution of power. These workers have no pricing power just as we also have to willy nilly accept the monopoly prices of public transport operators etc.,

It is the same in every society. If the government would  not have enforceable laws to protect those without bargaining power, they would be bullied. The strategy of many jobs chasing few workers do not work for two reasons. One, they continue to let in too many foreigners here to work despite cutting back drastically. Two, the employers have more staying power than the workers who must meet ends meet. In the end the worker have to settle against himself or herself. As wages are sticky, once you get it down because of many years of letting in so many foreigners, it is hard to raise it even if you reduce or even cut the inflow. Sure in time this would be redressed but that would take years.

Govt: The mood at Half-time

Yesterday ST published as their Saturday Special, "The mood at Half-time". It reflected quite well how I feel about the government performance. Of course it will not point out how mistakes with public transport should never have been made. Unlike housing, the problems with the transport system cannot be fixed quickly. People used to throw most of their bricks at Mah Bow Tan but the minister more deserving of brickbats was Raymond Lim. I have blogged about this before, so why am I repeating myself?

Another key takeaway is that people now trust the government much less and strongly believe that they have too much power and must be checked. I think the PAP only have itself to blame. What they inherited from the Old Guard they had failed to upkeep. Don't promise what you cannot deliver.

The missing link is quite simple. It is a government which is obsessed with the big picture but do not care for the people at the individual and family level. The politicians tolerated an admin service and promoted those who are policy wonks rather than those with empathy and sensible policy making for the people's benefit. Now that is changing but I am not sure they will succeed here. You might not called them selfish but they are certainly self seeking. It is not sexy or glorious to care for the hoi polloi. We have only one Dr. Tan Lai Yong but many Woffles Wu. Even George Yeo didn't missed MPS but not Tan Cheng Bock. It is our fate that we have many smart people but not enough who cares. This is not extraordinary, most societies are also like that. The CCP has perhaps the highest political and social ideals but they are rotten to the core stealing billions from the people.

Last Saturday Special was on the Mandarin Makeover. Now they will try to care as much as needed to be successful. We will just have to accept this. There will  never be enough leaders who really care. That's is a hard fact of life LKY wouldn't tell us.

Friday, April 18, 2014

The hard truth of Gen Moeldoko apology

I read this last night and felt vindicated about my uneasy feeling of Gen. Moeldoko apology earlier. On our end we had no choice but welcome it, which Ng Eng Hen duly did. Now the other side had disclaimed it.

So what's next? You deal with them as they are, a third world country which is often unable to get their act together. We should also stop being surprised about them. As a distant observer I am somewhat disappointed that our leaders were surprised at the naming of their frigate.

The personal relationships are only lubricant but what is vital is common interests. We shouldn't confuse the two. Between them and us and for that matter any other party, there will always be gaps that cannot be closed. The special relationship enjoyed between the Americans, British, Canadians, Aussies, and the Kiwis is founded on a common historical root in British history and culture. Perhaps we could have achieved the same with the Malaysians but we didn't stay Malaysian. We were remade into the Germans of SE Asia. We had no choice as the alternative would be to crawl back to Malaysia begging to rejoin the federation. This is the hard truth

Update: April 20, 7:45 pm

Ng Eng Hen has done the wise and sensible thing. At the same time let the naming of the Indonesian warship be a lesson to our people. Please remember there are limits to the personal relationships between senior military officers and political leaders. If our interests diverge and compete all the feel good and investments in relationships count for nought. When the going is good, it is a lubricant to get things done.

They remain a long term mortal threat to us. Just check up SE Asian history.

Sewol's Sinking: Feel like hanging the captain

Link to article.

I should have read this only in the morning because I had great difficulty getting to sleep after reading how the captain and some crew members had tried to save themselves ahead of the Sewol's passengers.

And this really made me hit the roof. He was callously drying wet paper money on his bed even as he expressed his "deep sorrow". At this point I feel like hanging him. But these days you must be careful with the news. In a hurry journalists and especially editors make so many mistakes. Some media types are even worse than this captain. They slant, even twist the news for more readership. Very irresponsible but people are so short term these days.

Then I saw another report (it was nearing midnight already). Park Ji Young a young heroine, only 22 years old sacrificed herself for her charges. The captain should have died instead. He should be the last one to leave the vessel!

I hope Park Ji Young's family receive generous help for the loss of their daughter. She came from a very poor family and she gave up going to university to help make ends meet. But I am just sick in the gut how often the senior people are the cowards and the heroes are those reporting to them.

Update: 7:50 am

I shouldn't have missed this. Good grief the coward left the Sewol pretty early. I can think of a few countries the coast guard will demand the captain stay with his vessel and not rescue him. What were the coast guard thinking? Shame on the Korean way. A culture which the boss could do no wrong and his pride is the most important thing and synonymous with the organization reputation, that someone else should take the blame if he errs? That's the emperor is always right culture. That's why enough captains of Korean vessels sans the Navy I hope, would not try their best to protect their passengers. If found guilty of criminal negligence, I think he ought to be shamed and hanged as an example for all skippers.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Ferry sinking: When not to trust the authorities

The Korean students were too "听话" and we are so similar to them. This is a good example when not to listen to the authorities.

We should only listen to them if they are experienced and the process is one which they have budgeted and properly carried out e.g., renewing your passport. In general they are no good for the unexpected. Consider the suicide of Pte Ganesh. He was an outlier but the SAF is set up to work with the normal recruits and soldiers. Ditto the school system and I have first hand experience navigating the system which is very trying when you have a special needs child.

In general the authorities are good in a few things which are often used by lots of people and the bureaucracy is usually lousy at handling exceptions. In this sense Singapore is not exceptional as much as she wished to be. Unless you have novel technology or a culture to work things successfully which others cannot imitate e.g., how the Japs queue up for services after the Tsunami, you are just ordinary like everywhere else.

But Singapore needs to be exceptional and to do things which others also want to but can't. For many years SIA did that with distinction. They still do but the marketing mix priorities from customers have changed and too many passengers are willing to trade away service for lower price.

Having too many FTs here is only a winning idea if they can be trained to work the Singapore way otherwise we will just descend into the bad habit of competing on price with a small premium on location. Why do you think the salaries of our fresh graduates are depressed? Cheap, cheap, cheap that's why. Meanwhile the houses they need to buy, the cost of living get dearer and dearer. Politicians must be stupid to think they can keep winning elections this way.

Update: April 18 7:45 am

Kudos to ST for printing this article by Andrew Salmon. Since primary school I have always told my children to refuse teachers' orders if they feel they would be put in harm's way. They will also not obey any stupid school rules. Of course I would never have allowed them to play school hockey had they been keen or even for PE. A Jurong JC girl lost one eye from a hockey accident. I am totally sure an accident like this had happened before if rare.

George Takei: A pastor's message on homosexuality

Three-quarter I agree with this Pastor, one quarter I do not but on how to respond to homosexuals, I am totally with the Pastor. Clearly we don't have the right to judge the homosexuals but also recently I have been led to revisit Revelation 1 to 3. How appropriate as contrast to get John the Apostle of Love with the famous John 3:16 be the person to record Revelation. These are very difficult times to be a pastor. I am afraid the majority of them would end badly.

For me trapped in such times and place, there is no difference between gay and straight or a divorcee vs married. However just because the members and leaders of the churches are deep in sin do not mean we add another drop to the bucket. Nevertheless the homosexuals have done a wonderful job at driving the Christians crazy because they are by and large better people than the Christians. We are in a perverse situation. That additional drop of the homosexuals makes the bucket a little better. It is not supposed to be like this but this is the reality today. Therefore Pope Francis will not judge the homosexuals but have instead led by example to go into public confession and asking for forgiveness. For the churches, the issue isn't homosexuality which is clearly being used by God to expose the Christians hypocrisies.

A right with God church would not stand for homosexuality but nevertheless pursue homosexuals even if persecuted. It will persistently welcome the homosexuals into its community but in turn the homosexuals will reject repeated offers. They can't stand the 'holiness' and it is so sad I had to put on the quotes because nobody knows what holiness is. The greater the holiness, the more awesome the love. You can't imagine or conceptualize that as it must be seen and experienced. That is the secret of John's record of his Lord's prayer in chapter 17.

Just as those publicans, adulterers, prostitutes, thieves and unclean lepers in Jesus time made the religious and morally upright looked bad, we are experiencing the analogue today. Only the personalities and types God is using have changed, but the religious and morally upright are still the same. I can hear the Christians say we are not like the Pharisees whom in like manner they had also said to Jesus, we are not like those who killed the prophets.

God's love is SCANDALOUS and I hope that Pastor would discover soon as he opens his arms to the homosexuals.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Deplorable Safety Culture here

We have a deplorable safety record but what can you expect from a poor and simplistic safety culture. MNCs operating their chemical plants here run a totally different safety philosophy which this government probably consider to be too costly. It was but no longer. People are getting miamed or killed unnecessarily. From cyclists on the road, construction sites, schools and also the SAF.

That is why I refused to sign off of some of the activities the schools plan for my children. They say they try their best but little did they know they don't even know what they are talking about. Just like what had happened at Ngee Ann Poly.

Beyond design and processes, practical safety is also a matter of drastically cutting down the probabilities of accidents, which often lead you back to redesign and enhancing safety in the process. Here leaders in charge regularly fail to think in probabilities and mistakenly equate low risk with  zero probability. They have this "bo an ni suay" attitude, the same reason they put their kids on their laps in the front of the car and also fail to belt up in the back. They could not be more wrong and perversely never learn.

Update: 2:15 pm

The e-ink hasn't even dry yet before I caught this on AsiaOne.

and the injury could have been prevented! See below the myriad choice of hockey goggles the players were not equipped with. We really have an inadequate grasp of safety. Just like it took forever to get doctors to wash their hands properly, this is going to be a very long wait! This is as criminal.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Come for scholarship interview

The daughter forwarded this to me this afternoon. How ironic I thought, she didn't even apply for this or any scholarships. RI had like her more than 300 with the maximum 90 points and counting the rest of the JCs there must be at least 600 or more of them against the limited places for Medicine, Law and Business. This was somewhat surprising. Many of the top scorers could have opted to study in foreign universities? But that is too early. I think she got it because she proposed NUS business school as her first choice. Those who did not and also fail to obtain places in Medicine or Law would be pushed further down the pile when they fail to obtain their first or second choice.

Updated: April 18 11:30am

After much research and thinking, she informed that she is emailing them to turn down the opportunity to interview for this scholarship. The decision mean nothing, it is the thought process which counts and turning this down is the right thing to do at this time.

Visit to Bukit Batok Library

Hasn't been here for years I. I like the parking rates here: $1.18 for the first two hours. I think I will come more often over the next few months as my duties take me around here more often.

F1: Singtel lost to SIA

I am happy SQ has ousted Singtel from F1.

Was reminded by FM 93.8 this morning the primary role Singtel had in causing EPL and World Cup cable subscriptions to hit the roof. I am happy I have no time to watch soccer but I imagine many guys and these days women too must simply be irate with Singtel.

SQ could never bully like Singtel because the competition for air travel is horribly brutal and intense. SQ has class, Singtel is a cheapskate.

Fourth anniversary of my father's death

For days I have on and off been thinking about what my late father said about his grand children. He didn't envy the lives they have and if I have grand children myself some day, it would be worse. Just thinking about it already make me tired. So if they marry and have kids they ought to leave Singapore and bring up their kids elsewhere? But if they do not marry or are married without kids they have the time and energy to out compete many with young children? This is absurd. Think! You will have enough single FTs with no intention to sink roots here but single minded to just play the business and career game to win while citizens have to strike a balance and think long term. If so, the majority of us will not be able to compete. My late father was farseeing.

So I sometimes envy him because he no longer spin and toil. From Mary Frye's,

Do not stand at my grave and weep,
I am not there; I do not sleep.
I am a thousand winds that blow,
I am the diamond glints on the snow,
I am the sunlight on ripened grain,
I am the gentle autumn rain.
When you awaken in the morning’s hush
I am the swift uplifting rush
Of quiet birds in circled flight.
I am the soft stars that shine at night.
Do not stand at my grave and cry,
I am not there; I did not die.

Should I have wished but he never encourage my siblings and I that we can be hopeful about tomorrow. That's simple, he only wanted to deal with what is certain. You can do nothing useful with the speculative. What is sure is that life would be hard and even if you are unafraid of hardship the rewards are not certain. Life would always be exciting and the media will be full telling those stories but it might only be fun for the minority.

When I was a kid he was hopeful about the future. He had full confidence in the PAP. When he became a grand father he insisted a lot in life depends on luck and he thought we might be running out of that. He had much less confidence in the new PAP but he was also sensitive to how the environment had changed especially China.

He is no longer around to witness that two of his eldest grand kids have done extremely well in school. One is training to be a doctor and the other has straight As waiting to go to university. The other two would probably do no worse.

As for me, I didn't have the chance to explain to him the strategies from Sun Pin which I had used to help one of the grand daughter do so well and is now also guiding her younger sister. And yes, he was right we needed some luck too. But do all these matter? Not at all. His toil has ended and he has gone into his rest. If you don't want to enter that rest than hear the words St. Peter said to Mother Teresa in her dream: there are no slums in heaven.

We cannot play the old bankrupt game. Unlike him, I am more optimistic about tomorrow. What we need to do now is grow in confidence until we become sure like his generation was. If we don't get to that point, there is no use working hard.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Lunch with the FT: Lee Hsien Loong vs Probowo Subianto

I am taking this opportunity to compare our PM Lee Hsien Loong to the Indonesian wannabe President Probowo Subianto. Both are 62 years old with military background. One has class, the other is a brute; one has brains, the other only knows how to use his balls in familiar settings as a bully. On the other hand Probowo is able to mesmerize the crowds but Lee Hsien Loong with much effort will tug at your heartstrings.

Finally our PM is generous but Probowo is a cheapskate freeloader. FT paid for Probowo and his large retinue lunch but we hosted FT in Singapore's meticulously planned style.

Lunch with the FT: Lee Hsien Loong

Lunch with FT: Prabowo Subianto

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Final analysis on Pte Ganesh suicide

I had blogged about the tragic suicide of Pte Ganesh a couple of times. The traffic logs suggested that they were not very popular, not that I cared. Nevertheless traffic numbers are useful information to me giving me the pulse of our society. I had also blogged about how doctors abused health insurance to inflate fees and again there was little interest. From this I know bad days are coming. If society will not act some of us who are more aware are forced to find other ways to face the future challenge of runaway medical costs. If you think it is bad now, you ain't see nothing yet.

Some schizophrenia vulnerable guys have developed the illness triggered by the stress they endure in NS and I know of at least one personally. He is my former classmate youngest brother. I think most mentally ill guys should not be drafted into NS, not even in non-combat roles. The SAF is not toyland but an organization with perhaps the most serious mission of the nation. Can it accommodate, slow down and carry with it those who cannot handle the stress? Lt. Jessie Goh is now Capt Jessie Goh and in between the NSF Pte Ganesh under her charge committed suicide. Helping Pte Ganesh to adjust to military life is not in Capt Goh's critical KPI - the same for teachers dealing with bullying in schools versus completing the syllabus.

I have this against Capt Goh. I find it incredulous she knows so little about schizophrenia. Does she read the papers, watch TV or listen to the radio? What a frog in the well officer.

Oh, do more for servicemen with mental health issues say experts. Do more here, do more there., everything needs attention but our resources aren't infinite. I am amazed experts are not unanimous about excluding people suffering from schizophrenia from the SAF. The seriousness of its mission means it cannot carry anyone along unless he or she is sufficiently fit to an adequate level.

I wonder when they are making Jessie Goh into a major. Would she be willing to bo-chap and accept another death? Look, she was defensive rather than filled with regret for the loss of a man under her charge during the coroner's inquiry. She was more interested to save herself first. What sort of officer and values do the organization have?

Most people do not care too much about Pte Ganesh because they or their families aren't schizophrenics. To them this is a rare and somebody's else business. If a soldier were to commit suicide because he was bullied or sodomized in camp there would be public outrage because you immediately sense that your boy is at risk. That I concluded was why in my two previous posts there were few interested readers.

Pte Ganesh father forgot that in Singapore you have to look after yourself first especially when your circumstances is special. He was a patriot for nothing.

Update: April 14 7:25 am

Opened the Sunday Times this morning on my iPad and discovered that Andy Ho also thinks they should not be drafted.

Update: April 22 10:15 am

Lee Chiu San letter to the Forum was spot on. Planners and psychiatrists should just get out of their offices and understand what is happening on the ground.

Giant Pandas coming to Malaysia

I had hesitating about writing this post but after making a quick check where are the other pandas outside China, I decided to go ahead. In view of MH370, what if these pandas die while they are in Malaysia? I also just checked Tripadvisor - terrible review of Zoo Negara.

The public message is that relations between Malaysia and China is not damaged. If that is true, why delay sending Malaysia the pandas? I think the Chinese are worried about Malaysia's ability to keep these wonderful animals healthy and happy. Also will they commit to the expense of keeping the pandas cool as we have? In Thailand they are located in the cool highlands of Chiang Mai.

Hospitals up fees: Cutting costs is terribly hard

Should we expect otherwise? Of course they regularly up their charges. Like public transport, telcos etc., these monopolistic providers have pricing power. It is very painful to control costs and often businesses do not make much progress on costs unless they have no choice. If you stick around in hospitals long enough you will see how wasteful they can be sometimes. Some staff have wasteful habits and as you know it is hard to change people's habits. Cutting cost is truly painful business and it is incredibly easier to just pass on the costs to others. Busy senior executives have more interesting and sexier projects to get to than watch costs. Besides a reputation for cost cutting rarely help to further your career. Subordinates and colleagues are also unhappy with you.