Saturday, February 28, 2015

Live Long and Prosper Leonard Nimoy (Spock)

We are big fans of Lenoard Nimoy. My brother and sister are even bigger fans. One of my kids memorized lines by him especially the funny conversations between Spock and Dr. McCoy. For me, I loved his quote from Sherlock Holmes in, "The Undiscovered Country"

Now he is no more with us, but our memories of him will remain fresh. For all his fans out there, many live by the ethos of Star Trek. Until reality catches up with the SciFi of the Trek, that would always guide our way forward into tomorrow.

To boldly go where none has gone before.

Technology is pursuing at warp where Start Trek has gone before.

NYT tribute to Leonard Nimoy.

Star Trek is of course much more about humanity than technology.

Update: 9:55 am

How we got, "Live long and prosper". It was a Jewish thingy.

 And I must add this too.

Update: 7:30 pm

Sending Spock off

Update: 7:55 pm

By being Vulcan, Leonard Nimoy taught us through is performing art what it is to be human.

Friday, February 27, 2015

Beyond Budget 2015

My former boss sent me this yesterday from Bloomberg News.

I had mentioned more than once that our leaders must be anxiously waiting for the global tide to reverse because we do not know how much longer we could take the pressure of the yawning gap between haves and have-nots.  Looks like the wait is almost over as other economies also commit to more left leaning budgets.

This is the first round, the beginning of many income and wealth transfer budgets most economies will be making. I think it is not a good idea but we have no choice. We are really out of ideas and we simply cannot keep societies together on the old path leading to the 1% to 10% getting more and more of the wealth and income.

I don't think such populist budgets will solve the problem. Robbing Peter to pay Paul is only to buy time and a poor choice for creating wealth. The risk is to go overboard and condemn ourselves to many years of slow growth, but the bet is on Asians eagerness to better themselves especially materially. We will need again and again to be inventive and create new products and services to keep our "cannot stop" system of running economies going. As Asians manufacture, import and consumes the familiar products hopefully this will give time for the most inventive people to create the next generation of global demand. We need more Apples and less zero sum fatalistic thinking which so many economists and worse government leaders are so fond of.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

India: Preparing for 100% Hinduism

I know what this extremist Hindu leader and Narenda Modi is up to but they have to be patient because they are not powerful or wealthy enough. They want to make India completely Hindu. They are more violent toward the Muslims but they can't be as brutal with the Christians because of the excellent work of Mother Teresa and the Missionaries of Charity.

So the first step is to diminish Mother Teresa's work. It is a familiar script which anti-Semites had used. They will keep trying and for as long as it takes even beyond their lifetimes, the task will be handed down to spiritual successors. India is being set up for a civil war over religin some day. Such a gifted people but also excelling in shooting themselves in the foot.

This is the sad fact of civilization. Always warring each other. A generation fought Capitalism versus Communism and duly forget that when there are no ideologies to battle over,  they will fight over religion and race.

Was Mother Teresa keen to make more Christian converts then? I think so but not in the conventional sense. With any religion, too much of today's proselytizing is about gaining converts nominally. The late mother's was after substance through the love of God. Nominal Christianity is about forms of expression e.g., like praying the sinner's prayer, attending church etc., but Real Christianity goes way beyond forms and achievements. It is about becoming a new being which the forms and achievements are only by products. True Christianity is diverse and living, Nominal Christianity is monolithic, predictable and utterly boring which is quite common giving outsiders a warped picture of the faith.

Therefore Mother Teresa didn't need to convert anyone to Christianity because she had gone beyond that. That is what the Gospel ought to be. It is irresistible because she brought the love of God to all of us.

Petrol profiteering in not illegal, so?

The oil companies here calculated they could get away with this and so they went ahead and did the dastardly act. In fact they have never stopped trying to make suckers out of us with the government looking the other way. Government believe that what is good for business is also good for us and fail to sense that it get less and less true with the years. CASE is  more a business than a consumer friendly organization helping business to be long term greedy because that is more sustainable than short term greedy. Without a little moral constraint from CASE, businesses will compete with each other going overboard over charging us. There will be a huge backlash and laws will have to be passed. Long term greedy is cleverer.

But CASE is losing its case as businesses rapacious appetites keep growing.

In this shameless age, who cares about ethics anyway. Winning out ranks ethical behavior now. Shame might even become an anachronistic entry in our dictionary eventually.

You want businesses to behave, you have to be prepared to pass the laws and enforce it. Or you could wait for consumers to be up in arms and pay a stupid political price.

Our greater loss is the sense of shame. Honor died long before we buried shame. Where is Lim Siong Guan?

Surprise shirts find

Hidden in the dark recess of a cupboard, lost and forgotten for ten years! Recently discovered by wifey.

When you have not missed it for this long, there is no hurry to open or use them.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Budget 2015: A high earner example

Read some of the most inane comments which came with this item. To me Anthony Fok is quite clever. Prospective tutees will conclude this fellow must be very good at what he is teaching. ST just provided him free and the most credible advertising. What is paying more tax?

He is in a very sweet spot. The money folks are most allergic to taxes because it is the big killer for the magic of compounding returns. On the other hand this guy gladly and understandbly pays his share. Unfortunately many high income earners would really look askance at the additional 2% extra tax. The MOF must have worked the numbers and types that would be hit rigorously to be confident about this measure. Obviously the really rich do not so much raise their income as increase their wealth.

You see the government is careful to tax income and not wealth. Tax the latter and overnight you will have an exodus of the very rich out of here.

It is impossible to close the wealth gap, but we are ready to do something about the income gap. How much progress we can make here will depend on the external environment.

More than taxation, what the ultra wealthy fear is confiscation of their wealth. It is absolutely vital that to be a wealth management centre they must have total confidence this is a safe place to park wealth. Perhaps at the right time we can raise our taxes on them and they would also be happy enough to pay for that peace of mind.

But this is really hard to pull off. Unlike Switzerland we are geopolitically too exposed. Perhaps we can only be opportunistic but Switzerland will endure. Well the SNB wasn't very clever. Our MAS is much smarter.

Investing: Preparing the next gen of suckers

Read this yesterday afternoon as Tharman was delivering his budget speech. He was too slow for me and I told myself I would read his speech later - I haven't. Blog about this first. Gonna come back to this in a few years time. You also cannot tell when the kids are mature enough to appreciate this.

I see history repeating itself here. A new generation of investing casualties is being prepared for slaughter at some future date. Some parents will tell their young adult children to stay away from the stock markets because they had been badly burnt themselves and failed to take away any useful lesson. Some will try to guide their kids because they had been successful themselves but the record for transferring such skills is quite poor. Rarer than a large carat diamond are those capable of teaching others how to do this.

To do well there are only two ways. Either your are faster (also sometimes seen as early) or contrarian. In general being contrarian is the ultimate in being early because you have simply gone ahead and waiting for the herd to stampede to where you are! So in essence there is only one way for succeeding. I make it sound so simple but it is actually horribly hard to execute. The pull of the herd is like the gravitational force near a Black Hole. Very few escape. Unfortunately this has to be or the contrarian cannot succeed.

What is the difference between the trader and the investor? In my paradigm, the trader is the short term contrarian and the investor the long term one.

All successful trading and investing if you work through it intellectually is just successful contrarianism, value investing included. But I have not been completely honest. What about managing risk? Unfortunately most of us do not even know what risk is. That is why each new generation is destined to repeat the same old mistakes.

Budget 2015: Comparative wages

I haven't had time to read Tharman's speech. Perhaps this afternoon, but this chart through flipping the paper quickly caught my eye this morning. What hit me immediately is that when we compare ourselves against Japan, it is going to be really hard to grow wages. On balance the SGD must weaken quite a bit more. I don't expect Japan to pull ahead giving us room to chase them. Such is the sad situation they are in today.

A lot of problems come, and you feel yourselves hitting the glass ceiling when the economy cannot grow faster. People here underestimate how important it is to grow the pie. You cannot just assume that growth comes naturally.

Monday, February 23, 2015

Budget 2015: Upping income taxes

Raising tax rates on the top income earners is something we would never do unless it is going to be the fashion elsewhere too. In my living memory I could only remember them making it more attractive for the top earners. This is significant. It might not stop here either but we will look at what others are doing and decide.

There is only so much aid, benefits and rebates a government can give out. In fact I often wonder if they had collected too much that they have some to return. No doubt we also run a tiny government.

Finally touched by changes in Petroleum World

The world of petroleum is undergoing discontinuous change again and will yield a landscape very different from the one we are leaving behind. In its wake geopolitics especially of the Middle East will be transformed. I have chosen for it to touch the retail consumer here before blogging about it.

In many countries, governments have taken the opportunity to cut subsidies this time instead of passing lower prices to consumers. We have just done the moral equivalent here.

Both Warren Buffett and George Soros had been caught flat footed especially the former who unloaded his entire stake of $3.7 billion worth of Exxon/Mobil stock. On the other hand he is adding to his big hoard of IBM stock.

The status quo is gone when people recognize that the USA instead of Saudi Arabia is the new swing crude oil producer. As America reliance on imported oil decline it would along with that transform its foreign policy. The Middle East face a period of rising uncertainty and volatility at a time when China as a strategic oil consumer cannot contribute much to stability. Russia the largest oil producer remains unpredictable since it cannot count on steady oil revenues to finance its budget. In short, the price of oil has a ceiling much lower than the sky probably for many years.

At what point would the Saudis and other lowest cost producers choose to just pump till kingdom come? It is rational to dump oil and grab market share if they believe in a diversified energy sources scenario currently unfolding. Better to trade the increasingly less valuable black gold for other forms of wealth before proverbially nobody wants them. The limited ability of our atmosphere to carry carbon will eventually capped demand for oil as an energy source. Of course I am probably speculating too far into the future. If the Saudis dump, Russia will lose money for every barrel they pump. Sounds like opening Pandora's box of trouble to me.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

What ISIS Really Wants

The March edition of The Atlantic magazine published an excellent piece on the ISIS explaining what they really want.

I don't think the majority of people read this magazine. It would be really troublesome if they do. Many readers are going to go away thinking ISIS is really a version of Islam. It isn't.

What ISIS wants is to bring on the apocalypse as foretold in the Quran. Given time it will get the first half of its wish but I doubt the second half will materialize. In that first part, they will get destroyed and end of story till another try. Pretty much like Christian cults waiting for the end of the world which never came.

With ISIS destroyed militarily and territories reconquered their caliphate will temporarily come to an end.

The problem though would not go away until Salafists are given opportunities to practice their beliefs, and in my view be disillusioned by them. There is no learning this except by the hard way.

Even if Baghdadi is killed they will find another Qureshi eventually to take his place. Then if ever we are careless, fight the next generation of ISIS all over again. They will keep trying to bring on the End of Days until enough Muslims get fed up with it because it is not happening and give up supporting them. This will pave the way for a more patient and co-existing with others Islam. The written word of their faith wouldn't have changed of course, but they will be understood differently.

Their holy writings describe a military Armageddon with Muslims as protagonists. This is the opposite of Revelation in the Bible which the Christians/Jews will be hunted and killed. Some crazies will always entertain "forcing God's hands" by initiating the sequence of events leading to the End of the World.

Global events must flow in such a way that some of these believers do not read them as signs of the coming of the End or else this problem of Muslim related terrorism will keep reigniting. How Israel currently conduct itself in that region is a real problem too. World leaders must understand Islamic prophecies and act to create a different environment which these religion terrorists cannot find the tea leaves they seek auguring the End of the World.

And what if we fail? This problem will get worse and if the terrorists have more stamina than the rest of us they will keep at it until it is really the End. A very bloody end quite like their book.

Update: Feb 23 10:55 am

There will be more of such. The quiescent Muslim majority are self organizing and responding because tipping point of watching and not doing much is over. Similarly non-Muslims will also come together to protect their minority Muslims as appropriate.

No reason to be pessimistic. End of the World? That's not our business. Don't interfere with the Divine. Have some respect, even fear for him.

Don't want "The World to End?" Then don't act to produce those signs so that none of the apocalyptic faiths would cue from them and act stupidly.

Lee Kuan Yew in ICU

Lee Kuan Yew is fighting pneumonia in SGH ICU. His son put this up on his Facebook page which I like very much.

We must distinguish these folks from leaders and as family and one of us. Responsible leadership test your faith to the limits especially if you do not believe in a higher power.

Another reason why I like this photo is that grand father and grand son is in the centre. Yipeng is his favourite grand kid which must have completely blown away many people's misconception of the man. What a contrast between him as a grandfather and national leader. They could well be two different persons. Like I just said, leadership tests your faith to the limits. Many of his early colleagues believed in a higher power and it really helped, like Dr. Goh and Hon Sui Sen. Thank God Dr. Goh didn't think we could feed the 5,000 like Jesus did but he insisted on religious knowledge in our schools which the much less wise Tony Tan later removed.

I hope he recovers soon. Many are waiting for the news of his successful discharge from SGH. I hope before Yuan Xiao.

Saturday, February 21, 2015

The onion of class layers in Singapore

By the time academics get interested and mount a serious study on this subject, this has been the situation of quite a few years already.

There are a few useful charts from their report I want to archive here for future reference.

The brief quotes of the four are also useful.

LKY felt the inevitability of classed society and believed that nothing can stop it. His early colleagues who would have challenged him were long gone and replaced by less confident younger people and many yes men and women. So this is what we are saddled with now.

Don't analyze or write too much or risk reading too much. One takeaway: By far better to have higher than lower relative incomes. Not just incomes but relative incomes if we are to read and understand these charts professionally.

Some speculation. If we are have more similar incomes would we then travel towards the middle? More research and thought would be needed to answer this properly. For now we know from the article that the top half of income earners are a huge number of people. Unless many in the more desirable half believe in social equity, the bottom half risked being sidelined. I have faith in Singaporeans not to be like that. Except for the business elites, this government never consulted us on their economic strategies much less growth model. Politically that was complacent and taking us for granted. Given enough time the opposition parties do not even need to do very much but wait for the PAP to trip themselves up. I thought the ruling party was capable of much better. Because if such a strategy of patience works, it will also be effective when used by our neighbors against us. But the PM has become afraid to tell us that only the paranoid survive.

Here are some insightful comments from the researchers.

Friday, February 20, 2015

Humbling Wall Street: So it happened

They said it wasn't going to happen. Wall Street controls Washington. Guess the pundits were wrong and I have waited long enough for this to become popularly wrong.

We have to be patient with America, which loves to learn the most important lessons the hard way. Even as I write this, I recall articles I just read about Obama telling a meeting of leaders against terrorism a strategy remarkably similar to ours. They had as usual begun with using the military to nix the unsolvable problem. After more than a decade they are finally learning.

People now worry about sub prime coming back here and there especially in automobile financing but I think that is exaggerated. I don't know for sure. The nature of this business is even if I know I won't say so publicly because it will do funny things to your thinking. Very rarely are you almost completely sure.

Update: Feb 23 10:00 pm

Most telling for this behemoth.

Bought the Philips RQ1180 shaver again

Bought a new Philips RQ1180 today for $200 (usual price $228). I took the last piece.

Searched this blog and learned that I have had the existing one since November 2011. I paid only $169 then.

Update: 8:45 pm

The motor in the older one is a lot louder than the new one!

US earnings recession looms

The consensus forward view of large US companies earnings aren't raising any hopes at all. I was poring over this chart this morning and moments later was reading how Walmart plan to raise the wages of 500,000 of its workers from now till next year and the estimated hit it will take on their earnings. Many big companies will be acting like Walmart. In fact some have already done that. Together with the strengthening USD this is packing quite a punch and all of these corporations have a large external wing. Consensus was looking for Fed rate hikes this year but for months I have been quietly talking to those around me that this is not going to happen but you don't blog about such things until it has become obvious. Once you put out something like this publicly it has a stealthy way of affecting your thinking, which is never good.

Update: 8:15 pm

Here is Good Ol' Buffett as reported in a Washington Post article. Recently he have had some bad runs with Exxon as the latest but IBM calling for patience and so he bought more.

To me, an investor should not talk too much about investing to others except privately among those in their community. Leave the talking to the Sell Side, which you mustn't pay too much attention to in the first place. Those who talked too much have often suffered from poorer performance.

Ray Dalio is getting on in years and I sense he also is less interested in money and talking more. Time will tell if he also suffer from this talking curse.

Last minute CNY marketing

Last minute I realized I had to go get some spinach. Wifey promised to do it but had forgotten that it wasn't possible for her to pick these up at the Giant hypermart downstairs her office as she had to be away to another location.

I bought these at the temporary market, surprised that they still have stocks to clear. Cost me only $2 for so many bunches. Would be nice if I could always pick up stocks cheap! You can if you are patient and always believe there is another bus coming when you miss one. That there is no such thing as the opportunity of a lifetime except in hindsight.

Most people have paid princely sums for their produce a few days before. That is the price of certainty. I was prepared to substitute this with something else.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Yakiniku Rice Burger on CNY eve

The lettuce of this burger from Mos Burger I always remember it to be leafy and fresh, not dark and soggy like I had for lunch on CNY's eve.

Time was when my dad was with us, we often visit the Mos Burger outlet at Bishan for lunch after visiting my grand aunt on CNY Day One.

I haven't had the Yakiniku rice burger since my dad passed away. I usually opt for the Kakiage rice burger.

Before I bit into this burger, which used to be better, it reminded me of times when things were better. Yet in many ways life haven't become worse especially when I consider my kids do not need to tangle with the PSLE now. Every visit to Popular bookstore tells me that the stress has worsen. Not possible to compare one for one, like for like. Life is complex.

Monday, February 16, 2015

PAP style populism: 70,000 cleaners

My conservative estimate is that we didn't even half as as many cleaners as now in the 80s and early 90s when we were much cleaner.

The 70,000 came about because of town councils and management by KPIs. Then our leaders when it suits them turn around and scold us for littering when they were trafficking us cleaners to indulge our littering habit and convenience!

See Liak Teng Lit explains the situation without offending the government. Just need to use a little bit more of brain power to fill in the missing bits, but this is harder than spotting Shamugam dumb but probably mischievous mistakes with the MA rates to nail the WP.

We are a place run by too many people whose hearts are in the wrong places. MPs are eager to win and maintain support from keeping housing estates clean. The lazy way out is to add cleaners but this created huge negative externalities in a cramped place like Singapore.

Indeed Quiet CNY

You know ST can actually be quite good when they are not serving the PAP and especially when Warren Fernandez isn't writing. Sometimes they make mistakes, and who doesn't like inviting Kishore to write. Very often they go to NYT to make themselves look good which makes me feel that I am paying for my papers all over again as we also subscribe to the NYT.  ST pleased note that the world has changed a lot since you began syndicating NYT. Then few of us have foreign newspapers subscription. 

Yes, it has been quiet Chinese New Years for us for the past few years. This article helped me realize that we are among the growing ranks of such folks. I think it is a loss but sadly an unavoidable one. 

A trend of refusing to be politically correct has been in place for a while now. These days people look for authenticity. Visiting relations once a year whom you never see, much less talk to for the rest of the year is a painful chore. 

Update: Feb 20 2:25 pm

A friend left this on Facebook yesterday.

Yep, it was like he said but only when we were all much younger as primary school children.

Good for him that he still have them. It is over from my brother, sister and me.

Gracefully surrender what you cannot hold on to.

New Cardinals: Many called, few chosen like the PAP

We have come to know him as the Pope who is allergic to political correctness with a penchant for being real.

Twenty new cardinals have been called and I assume the church need all its cardinals, old and new. But for the Pope to say, "put aside pride, jealousy and anger" some of them are at risk of not being chosen in the fullest sense in the end.

Now our cabinet ministers are also like the cardinals. All were called but few were chosen. However watching how they regularly close ranks to bully and protect themselves, I fear but who am I to judge, none might be chosen. Until citizens began to wake up, it was a great career (not calling) with the trappings of power, status and wealth. There was a time they were leaders and not servants. Now we forced them to be servants. Really, I am still not used to seeing them besieged and even afraid. Who will lead us when we really have reason to be fearful? Churchill? He is dead and not Singaporean to boot.

I have never met him but Pope Francis speaks to my mind, my heart, my whole being. I am confident I am not alone with this experience. On the other hand my PM cannot even speak to my mind. I pray for his successful prostate op but he is always looking for willing suckers only to discover in 2011 there were fewer than he counted the last time. He runs a morally corrupt system which in time must lead to punishable corruption. Already government sloppiness and corruption have gone up and our position for incorruptibility in the league tables have gone down.

His Law Minister cannot even tell from simple sense making that the MA rates for residential and commercial units cannot be the same. That is as easy to grasp as why children pay less eating at a buffet. I don't even need TOC or TRS  whatever digging out the facts. Just use your head.

But that was used as a long sharp dagger into the WP, to make them look really bad, to deny them the $7 million grant for running their town councils. To fulfill LKY's warning that those who voted for the WP will live to repent. Residents of AHPETC, I hope you do not need to go next door to a PAP TC to throw your rubbish because your TC have no money to run the show.

Unless you had come through the fire, indeed they were all called but few are chosen.

Update: Feb 17 10:10 am

Blogging for myself and family I habitually do not make myself clear enough. I chose to compare the PAP with the millennial old Roman Catholic church to make the point that we cannot hope to do better than them in the long run. Our short run success of 50 years is partly due to luck but if we allow reversion to the mean, our present arrangement of the dominant PAP will produce leaders far lesser than what the RC could produce.

Someone in a comment reminded me of Abraham Lincoln words,

You can fool all the people some of the time, and some of the people all the time, but you cannot fool all the people all the time.

Adapted for our use, we can have the "perfect" government for only part of history and certainly not indefinitely.

In other words to stick with a dominant and increasingly corrupt PAP is to sign the death warrant for Singapore. It is not a question of if but when.

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Five cans of Abalone

I heard that abalone is cheaper this year but I haven't been tracking. It is not something we buy often - only once a year.

We bought three cans a couple of months back and today added another two using "funny money" from our Everyday Card.

Most years, we give away far more cans than consume ourselves. This is going to be an exceptional year.

Apple Cars: Because you are doing it wrong

The jury is not even ready to assemble for this one. Apple is going into making cars. I could almost hear in my mind's ears they telling others they have got it wrong all this while, and let me show you how to do this right! Such chutzpah. The spirit of Steve Jobs lives there.

Of course Apple wouldn't be going into space for a long time as that is an untried new business. They watch others mistakes and then come in and do a better job. Creative Technology was an early casualty when the music iPod supplanted Sim's MP3 players.

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Snake spotted at PCN

An unusual find this morning at the PCN. Showed it to the daughter and she told me this is the Keel Bellied Whip Snake (See Ecology Asia)

I learned from her more or less to tell the non-venomous ones from the dangerous species. Most snakes here are not dangerous.

New XiaoMi Powerbank

Bought these two XiaoMi powerbank earlier this week for about $17 each. Could get it for about $13 at Qo10 but got to go all the way to Liang Court to pick up and only one piece per person. So I gave up and got it off eBay instead.

These are far better built than the ones we already owned. I am confident they will serve the kids' needs well.

AHPETC: Residents demand answers

Kudos to residents in WP's managed constituencies. They are starting to demand answers from their MPs. Because WP had also voted in favor of the motion, I also expect them to come clean and explain what they will do to right the situation. I had assume they need a lot of time and over time would have just quietly solved the problem and reinvented the wheel taken away by the PAP. We shall see. In my first post on this subject, I had called both parties black pots.

Bernard Lee ought to give himself a few more thoughtful days. He should feel more hopeful afterward when he sees how fellow residents come together over this issue. I have more confidence in the people than the government, which never tried this thought experiment: Exchange this population for any city in this world and see if they can make it work. They will find themselves herding cats and needing bribes, populism. They took our support for granted. When the problems become too difficult to solve they made it bearable, even profitable for themselves demanding more blood, sweat and tears from us. For a while we gave in even as people elsewhere laugh at us (especially the PRCs) and FTs took advantage of us. You can ask any local born but it is clearest for Singaporean men who serve as SQ pilots.

I responded to a comment left for me as follows from: AHPETC: How much slack to cut them?

If a minister or MP is a true patriot, you will be respected and even loved. If you are in this for the money and status enough among us can sense it even if we can't put words to the feeling. You see, we don't just see and hear. What could be said but never. There are also non verbal messages, strong vibes that come out of you all the time. Like Bernard Lee said, "I sense that they are self serving" It is the Singaporean survivor instinct which everyone has but I think we have more.

If we cannot find patriots for leaders, we would simply need stronger check and balance which is sorely lacking when the PAP dominates. The town council act should already have enough teeth to get CAD or CPIB involved if there were signs of wrong doing, but I guess the PAP always thought they would never lose a GRC and they needed the legislation to give them flexibility to do immoral things but not illegal. If only they were willing to set the AGO on themselves, would they look better? I think so, but not by much because they have stronger systems and better resources.

Do the PAP really ever understand why we are so eager for more opposition MPs in parliament? It is the clearest sign that trust in them is eroding! But alas, they love to drink their kool aid and eat their own propaganda. Over the long run the only way to live false virtues is to forget they were fake. Like the Roman Catholic clergy suffered from this big time until Pope Francis came along.

How much longer do they want to play this with us? In our "order out of chaos" unpredictable way we will rid ourselves of the wrong people so that the patriots who were turned off by all these will come forward. As we mature further, may be we will have our own version of governing ourselves like the Swiss have. Would we? Who knows but what choice have we got?

Update: Feb 15 9:00am

Unlike many bloggers, I do not have the time to deeply research for information before writing. This just appeared on my Facebook news feed and now it is here. Often I just need to get on with what I am supposed to do and more often than not, what I need just appear in front of me to use.

The PAP government is riddled with so many conflicts of interest I am sure you can compile a book on them, and the situation is not getting better. We haven't even begin to discuss the hidden things. They must stink like AIM.

Now if the WP is wise they must not judge themselves by the falling standards of the PAP. Citizens expect decency and honesty, nothing more (I didn't say nothing less). Better than PAP is not good enough. Hon Sui Sen would be a good standard bearer. Abraham Lincoln for his genius combination of honesty and guile is even better. He understood unifying moral concepts, which none including the lawyerly Shanmugam who ought to do.

Update: Feb 16 1:20 pm

Only 119 supporters after almost two days. People were far more anxious and excited about the planned columbarium at Fernvale than this one.

Most busy people don't care very much beyond the fact that the rubbish is cleared, the estate is clean. When you flip the switch you get electricity and when you turn the tap clean water flows. To be realistic, you might not even bother to open your door to your WP MP when he or she comes visiting if you are very busy.

AHPETC: The nub of it

Beyond the noise and heat in Parliament, Social Media and MSM everyone except the combatants know what was really going on.

The PAP has been trying over and over again to fix the WP and it might well succeed depending on how voters feel and think (not think and feel, but the two will combine eventually)

Only two things are important here.

1. AHPETC will not get the vital $7 million, a huge sum of money to run their wards. This will be very costly to residents and the WP.

2. It is not even a First World Parliament, but unheard of in the world, the WP voted for the motion. We are talking beyond First World Parliament but there is no way to communicate with voters otherwise.

The WP is committed to fixing their problem. In fact they had been working on it but needed more time because they lacked resources.

Just remember what the PAP failed to do: A better Town Council Act from decades ago. So for the past 20 years who knows what they have been doing. From the personal angle, I had lived in HDB and also non HDB housing. I remember long ago and seemingly forever I pay more for conservancy and parking than my parents at Braddell View. Then I lived in Pine Grove and I paid more too as it was not managed privately. I parked in open spaces but Braddell View had two MSCPs.

The PAP could only make others look bad at the expense of themselves because they are hypocrites. Pay And Pay make suckers out of us for the larger nebulous concept of nation. How it is that their policies are good for country but bad for the people? Don't support the PAP unless you are also sure who the sucker is. If you still don't get it, look at China. Sure incomes are rising rapidly there but the people to a far greater degree are the suckers. And who were gaining? Are you gaining more than what you put in? How much more?

I am not interested in the WP or the PAP but how other voters feel, think and act. Most important people must learn not to be suckers but even more important be patriots. For this I take my hat off to Chen Show Mao. He didn't need to do what he has done. He didn't even need to choose to be so invisible and take the shit from LKY and the PAP for the greater and longer term good. The PAP doesn't understand or know what he is up to. I could also only make guesses based on his background.

LHL friend Najib in trouble

Najib is in trouble. See the photo, Mahathir still wields much influence. That old fox still has plenty in him.

If Najib falls what would happen to our agreements with Malaysia? Remember the father of our current PM said that at the stroke of the pen, they can confiscate our assets across the causeway.

I found it incredible that IMDB chaired by Najib could face default and not from foreigners but two local banks. You would have thought they look after their own. Perhaps Najib was too greedy.

Mahathir is a master of "say, never say". Say he is working on getting Mukhriz from MB of Kedah to PM of Malaysia eventually. Also add Khairy to the mix on the pipeline to become PM thereafter?

What do I know? I am not Malaysian and I had not crossed that causeway since 1995!

This collapsing oil price will continue to stink, bite and even kill for a while. The penultimate Black Swan for Najib and lots of surprising players.

You would have thought playing golf with Obama would have helped much but luck was not on his side. Very different outcome when GCT golfed with Clinton.

Update: Feb 16 4:15 pm

Fortunately only good friend and not best friend. You get from us less than what back home they want. We get less from you what we want but we have a deal. As for tomorrow who knows? At that time, it would be nothing personal just politics or good business.

NUS Fees: Higher than I thought

This amount is way higher than I thought we were paying for her school fees. I thought the correct amount was $8950 per academic year. Do I multiply $4.7K by two. I got to check later. No time now but I imagine such amounts must be painful for many families. Think student loans, think servicing debt....

The next time they deduct fees again, I will come here and compare.

There must be lots of anger out there when the government dish out millions of tax payers' money for foreign scholars....

Friday, February 13, 2015

AHPETC: How much slack to cut them?

I have not had the time to look at the verbal joustings in Parliament between WP and PAP yesterday, not even a YouTube clip. Perhaps I got not more than 15% of the content but I made a point to visit WP website for their side of the story. Bertha Henson summing up the arguments is much appreciated.

Has the PAP finally scored against WP or in their words, "fixed them"? I think residents living in the areas run by AHPETC will have to decide. But if they come to my ward today, my vote would still be with the WP. On the other hand if WP is a much better resourced party, I might go with the PAP instead because I would expect them to perform to a higher standard, perhaps even exceeding the eroding performance of the PAP.

I can't tell if  Shanmugam the better communicator from the PAP side was being mischievous or just careless (unforgivably so for something like this)

Look, the MA rate for the residential and commercial cannot be the same as Shan suggested from his table for all PAP run TCs. Was he purposely acting careless to make WP look bad? As for the rest of the numbers we must remember that the WP do not have the same economies of scale as the PAP. Perhaps the WP can do even better, I don't know. All we can say is that what is visible to residents, they do not neglect, like the rubbish do not pile up. I have an IT background and some of these backroom systems with the WP TC has to tangle with are actually quite hard to get it right if the departing manager had purposely mess it up for you before handing over.

Related: All are black pots

Update: 6:10 am

I forgot to add that Shan would have known that people will remember his table which makes WP looks like profiteering at the residents' expense as after a correction which I am waiting for is issued few people would remember the right one.

Update: Feb 15 9:10 am

Looks like Shanmugam is acting blurr and not coming up with the correct data he presented in parliament on the subject of MA rates. On my end I also need to adjust lower my esteem of the man.

Update: Feb 16 15:55 pm

Shanmugam is playing dirty poltics 100%

He hasn't fess up to the bad number he provided in parliament to deceive us. Common sense suggested to me (I wonder how many people could sense that) that his MA numbers were wrong. They cannot be the same for residential and commercial units unless commercial units were misused as dwellings instead of business which is absurd.

Looks like with the PAP, if you are stupid they will be in a hurry to make suckers out of you. I am forced to conclude that many of their non-elite class supporters are daft.  If their brains are not helpful, eating the PAP pudding one day will help them realize this. Because they are on a morally bankrupt paradigm which will eventually fail to deliver. Aren't they already struggling?

Thursday, February 12, 2015

IPS: Most poltical blogs are balanced

MP Baey Yam Keng was quoted by 93.8 that he was surprised at the findings by the IPS study. I am not surprised at all. In fact, I wonder why do they even bother to study this.

Dr. Ang Peng Hwa of SIRC was also "surprised".  At least that was qualified but ST didn't explain.

I think many PAP MPs would be as surprised as Baey Yam Keng. It is just human. They will remember how they were severely criticised in blogs more vividly than anything else. After a while they only remember that.

Now the inability of our MPs to rise above this worries me. So this study was useful not so much for us but for the PAP MPs and ministers, including the PM.

Add the President too.

They all need to learn to be more thick skinned or it will impair their analysis and judgement. In other words, they all need to do much better.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

"Your secrets are safe with us" yeah?

There are lots of rich and powerful people feeling insecure these days.

"Your secrets are safe with us" is no longer true. Yet more evidence there are no more secrets anymore. Yet "how many times confirm" it is pointless to lock up this blog.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Pricey school lunch

The daughter whatsapp me this earlier today from her JC.

Simple lunch of ham and cheese sandwich with a cup of ice chocolate costing $4.60. Why so pricey? Well she bought it from the cafe instead of other food from the canteen. Her sis was in the same JC before and her lunch was often only $1.30. I always felt she failed to feed herself properly.

Monday, February 9, 2015

AGO's report on AHPETC: All are black pots

For the first time I couldn't count on Bertha Henson to save some time, get to the nub of the issue and explain it simply to us. So I went to take a look at the report myself. It is a short 21 pages but not easy to read. Then I could appreciate why it was so difficult for Ms Henson.

In my work I have to evaluate economies and the text book is a terrible and wrong place to begin. Quickly, the USA is no longer a AAA country but that means nothing. My point? Context is most important. To evaluate the AGO's report you have to grasp the political context, which is naturally missing in the document.

If you assume the WP is the equal to the PAP in resources then the WP don't look good. But if you feel that Singapore need to nurture credible and viable alternatives to the PAP because recent history have shown that when they have too much power, they treat us badly then for our own sake, cut some slack but not too much to the alternatives.

I have learned when not to and to trust the PAP. Anything that threatens their position they cannot be trusted and do not hesitate to bully others. You can trust them for kicking out any MP for committing adultery, but many other issues are more difficult to judge.

They cannot afford any alternative party to appear whiter than them. It is imperative especially after the AIM saga that if they are pot, others must be made to look like black pots too. They cannot do in their competitors this way but at least level the playing field.

I urge the CAD or CPIB to charge those responsible for AHPETC. If they can't then don't waste my time.

I have no time to look at this matter in detail. Will wait for the GE to come around and start digging up and review all these troublesome matters. If in the end I feel that the PAP is wasting our time taking us to run among the bushes, I would do my part to make them pay for this nonsense. I am still not convinced they put our welfare ahead of theirs but they can no longer play the "heads I win, tails you lose". They were terrible when they could avoid skin in the game.

Update: Feb 10, 5:40am

One ST's brightest young stars was tasked to write this which I read late last night. She couldn't do a better job than Bertha Henson and basically asks you to go read the report yourself.

A good reminder from Andrew Loh. I was also looking for this. Like I said in the main post, the PAP couldn't do better was looking to make the WP look no better - all are pots. Like suggesting better the devil you know than the one you do not. 

I repeat myself. If this is not a CAD or CPIB case, don't waste our time. It only shorten the distance toward contempt for the ruling party. One thing is absolutely clear, the PAP cannot be allowed to dominate parliament. I wished it could be otherwise given Singapore's unique circumstances, but they are not good enough. 

The pot will continue to call the kettle black. Look they are also pots! Says who?

Update: Feb 12 9:10pm

I have not bothered to read what MSM said about the debate in parliament especially when you can go and get it from the horse's mouth

At the end of the day, voters must decide. I just hope people do their homework and act accordingly. 

I am of the view that the PAP are bullies when it comes to dealing with the opposition. We don't have enough opposition in parliament and in a way, opposition exists outside the chamber in the various blogs, social media postings. and now often brutal reaction during public feedback sessions. In a more focused way, NGOs also kind of serve that role by providing alternative and often compelling views and action. 

The MIWs aren't white unless we keep them on their toes. 

Update: Fen 12 9:20 pm

An excellent summary by Mothership Belmont Lay for people like me who couldn't spare the time.