Friday, December 29, 2017

SG: Lost more than US$ 422 million

Finally read this at Bloomberg. This thing must have been sanctioned at least at the highest level in Keppel i.e, its board and likely beyond to Temasek Holdings isn't it? In most places it would have stopped at the board because you can't go higher but here in SG for the stakes involved, the risk to Singapore's reputation and being mostly owned by Temasek, I wouldn't be surprised Temasek's management also knew and decided to risk it.

Observing where this seems to be stopping, it is not going to go high enough. The lawyer who confessed and cooperated becomes the scapegoat and correctly decided to threw his lot with the prosecutors.

More important if the US did not have a law for going after such malfeasance Singapore Inc., would not also have been caught. Shame on us.

Sometimes I wonder if this country has not already began to rot at its core because it is beginning to at the head. The legal side of things may be complete and costing S422 million but the moral debt which is necessary to prevent this from repeating has not begun and may never. So the lesson seems to me is to come up with better ways not to get caught the next time.

What is Singapore's core value and god: MONEY.

The quality of leadership in Singapore continue to worsen.

See also: More credible responses needed from S’pore firms accused of bribery abroad

Out Hi-Low Milk: Sugar

That is Meiji milk, an increasingly popular brand among our consumers. I was comparing their regular type with its hi-lo cousin. I think it is wiser to give up the more popular hi-lo one for the original because of the 7g/100ml sugar. Lots of food manufacturers hide fructose in their products. We are all unaware that  there is too much sugar getting into our systems.

I think at the end of the day the simplest and most practical approach to food is not to over eat. If you cannot get the balance right choose to be hungry more often than full most of the time.

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Another year with no Christmas Tree

We didn't put up our Christmas Tree last year. Nobody was in a mood too after Trump got elected US president. That mood has lasted a whole year and there is no tree this year too. This morning I came across Philip Yancey's article and decided to make this post.

He went on to describe what the environment was like when Jesus was born.

Yet it occurs to me that a spirit of fear and division hung over first-century Palestine as well.  In those days Israel was ruled by an oppressive regime, typified by Herod’s massacre of the innocents.  Common practices in the Roman empire gave moral offense to people of faith: mothers abandoned a fourth of all babies to die of exposure or wild animals,....

Well we never despair we just persevere until things get better. Being in SG, there is not much we can do except resist and wear out the opposition because taken over long enough time, history is not on their side.

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

"Mei Qiu" Durians

Bought "Mei Qiu" ($12/kg) for dinner but it was too much and we kept one box for lunch the next day. After testing several types, I think we like D24 and this. The above cost us $44. Last season when the prices were sky high we bought nothing. What for? It doesn't take long for regular prices to return.

Malaysian Millennials financially defeated

Change the names and amounts but keep the items except for the bit about giving money to parents and replace that with health insurance, you would have thought it was American than Malaysian. These Malaysian millennials are financially structurally defeated. How long are they going to keep trying before they give up? They will lose hope and vote for the opposition. But the issues go well beyond endemic corruption in their society. America has successfully if inadvertently exported its economic logic there as well. In fact the pressure in business to act similarly with the Americans is all over the world. Wages aren't going up for most, lucky for you if it is not cut. Singapore feel the pressure as well but we are coping better but for how long I wonder.

See also: Generation Screwed

Saturday, December 23, 2017

Rice sold in Hangzhou

That is how they sell rice at WuMart in Hangzhou. This is pure nostalgia as it reminds me as a kid how I went to the provision shop with my mom to buy rice. I took the rice for sand at the beach park and often dug my hand into it and feel it run between my fingers. It was a nice and cool feeling. Now we buy them at Fairprice in plastic bags of 5kg each time

Avoid Hangzhou Relax Hotel

Daughter messaged us yesterday complaining that the non-smoking room they were assigned smelled bad. I asked her to look for the non-smoking sign and it turned out to be movable. So you want a non-smoking room? Just take this with you and immediately a smoking room is turned into a non-smoking one.

Well we don't decide on the hotel. This is decided by NUSRI in Suzhou.

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Annie Ee's case, Shanmugam out of touch

I think Shanmugam missed the point. People want to understand why there is a huge gap in the perception of fairness and justice between themselves and the judiciary. You cannot just ask the public to trust the system without explaining to them why this yawning gap exists, should exist and more important if we should close it. After all the law is not set in stone and can be changed. They have recently done it for drunk driving and for abuse of public security officers.

Our ministers are more out of than in touch with us.

Thursday, December 14, 2017

One Dollar Pork Rib Noodles

The daughter currently in Suzhou sent me this and told me she paid 5 rmb for this bowl of noodles. I don't know where the stall is exactly except that it is near 同得兴 which I recommended to them. Unfortunately that restaurant does not open for dinner and they found themselves another place near by.

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Popular: Adaptable Old Man

Chou Cheng Ngok the founder of Popular Holdings is one adaptable old man. He is already 80 years old but thought like a young man. Such types are rare. I hope he succeeds. He did the right thing to get the company off the stock market. Investors would not be patient with him.

Three Cockroaches in Four Days

For a long time there were no more cockroaches to kill at home. Those were happy times. Now the peace has been rudely interrupted. We had three of these pests in four days. The latest one was in the kitchen and what a mess trying to get rid of it. The first two were easier to handle because they were in our study room. Unfortunately they were also flying ones. Number two flew in through the open window and that sort of helped us understand where they might all have come from. Now I wonder which and what is happening at my neighbours. I don't think roaches are long distance fliers.

I think it is time to set up the roach trap as well.


Finally we bought a couple of durians. We prefer D24 ($12/kg) but there was only one left, so we added a D13 as well. Personally I prefer Mao Shan Wang in desserts than as the fruit. It is just too strong. Something tells me I won't be having durians again for sometime. May be it was just a little too much yesterday?

Daughter in Suzhou

Watching the flight the daughter's was on arriving in Pudong yesterday. First time flying with China Eastern Airlines, which we made it a point to avoid despite their very competitive fares each time we flew to the US. In the end there are so many other more important things to chat with her about that we forgot to ask her about her flight.

It was good she used the Singtel plan instead of a local one, that way we could still Whatsapp each other. When she is on WiFi, we use WeChat.

Sunday, December 3, 2017

Trump: Betting on Stupid Americans

Trump wasn't commenting for you and me or any thoughtful American voter. He is reaching out to his stupid base who are the extreme sufferers of the Dunning-Kruger effect.

I am also watching how many Americans realize that the likely to pass tax reform would be bad for most of them. They have insulted themselves putting a lout in the White House, and I like to see next year if they add insult to their injury supporting the tax changes.

If being dumb is a momentarily weakness, there is still hope for America as this happens to all societies from time to time. Otherwise it is the long predicted decline of America which seemed to be postponed again and again, all the way when Nixon delinked the USD from Gold.

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

SMRT culture: We will sue you!

Whose stupid idea was that? All the lawyers (add the law students as well) must be laughing their heads off and making SMRT leadership the butt of their jokes.

Well here is a cautionary tale for Thales eh? The margins they are making off SMRT better be good for all these troubles.

"depends on contract terms" Don't you check those terms first before shooting your mouth off? Yet another negative on their culture. Die first than learn the lessons and get to the root of the problem. According to Philip Yeo, Dr. Goh would have fired the entire top management and start afresh.

SQ classy act at Denpasar

Another classy act by Singapore Airlines other airlines would try to imitate. Too bad if you are booked with a budget airline.

Friday, November 24, 2017

Public wants COI for the Bishan tunnel flooding

Khaw Boon Wan and the entire PAP behind him said it was not necessary to convene a COI on this incident. The public overwhelmingly disagree to the tune of 69% I am part of that majority. Like them I don't think the government have been honest with the rot in our train system. In fact, I fear that they do not fully know or understand it themselves. This is something they should never have allowed the ball to drop because they ought to know that afterward it is impossible to pick the ball up.

See relevant story.

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

SMRT: Bloomberg noticed Thor is angry

Received that from Bloomberg every morning in their Forward Guidance Asia briefing. Our rail woes was featured in this installment.

This is inexcusable. The Faraday cage protecting the commuters and drive inside the cabins should always work. Since when the lightning conductors in our buildings do not work?

Bloomberg had a cheeky slant in their story. They quoted the NEA and PM as follows:

The lightning isn’t all that shocking. Singapore’s National Environment Agency says: "Singapore has one of the highest occurrences of lightning activity in the world. Situated close to the Equator, the warm and humid tropical conditions are highly favorable for the development of thunderstorms." Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong once called Singapore "a lightning capital of the world."
Putting one and one together this is suggesting that nobody should be surprised lightning hit another train sometime and there could be casualties.

So much for getting to the root of the problem. Words are cheap, action wise that has shown be insufficient and even insincere. It has become even embarrassing to offer apologies. So they have chosen to deny or trivialize the problems instead. This is admitting that they cannot solve it. As the former PM was also quoted in the story:

"Bangkok bears its traffic cross, Singapore its frequent MRT breakdowns," former Prime Minister Goh Chok Tong, now emeritus senior minister, said in a recent Facebook post.
What if Thor gets angrier? He should take care to use his hammer on those responsible and not us. As it is, those responsible do not ride the trains and it looks like the system is ageing faster than it is being renewed. If so, this would not be the last time Bloomberg has a story like this, and there will be worse stories coming.

Update: 7:15 pm

It appears that Thor was mistaken. His eyesight must be bad. He had hit track side equipment instead.

If SMRT had a much better reputation, few would believed the Faraday cage failed. Like I said earlier, that's basic. Also nobody from the company came out to confidently assert the absurdity of such a possibility. Evidently even SMRT engineers confidence toward their systems have been severely dented. How can you blame them having been ambushed so many times.

Update: 7:20 pm

Yeah, everyone could have done better from the PM to you and all the way down eh? How many times do you have to say that? You blamed them but what you have done to enabled and motivated them to achieve? I think they could also said the same about you as well. Didn't they do much better everywhere else? They couldn't do better because I think the conditions they were given to work with were impossible. Now learning this fact the hard way, the system would be shut down completely on two days and more time would be given for engineering and maintenance work. No problem, you blame others, and we all blame you.

SMRT: Even Thor is angry

Now even Thor is angry with SMRT. Unfortunately he has failed to discriminate the innocent from the culpable. Has he? Perhaps we need an investigation eh?

This is yet another incident which is not supposed to have happened. The train was supposed to be earthed to the rails and the lightning safely conducted away. What happened? You better hope the truth on this one is not as inconvenient as the others. That is the only reason why they never got to the root of the problem. The only other possible reason is that they are stupid and incompetent.

We are now at the place where either they have something to hide which getting really hard to conceal or they are just plain hopeless idiots to be booted out.

Sunday, November 19, 2017

The incredible PM Lee Hsien Loong

We have heard, "get to the root of the problem" ad nauseam. I think they are still rooting for the root and worse mistaken something else for the root. I think many of us have ran out of patience with them. The problem is we have no choice other than this worsening team to back.

The PM doesn't want to speak plainly and so insult our intelligence. In simple language, he is asking us to tough it out. That is not a problem but the terms and conditions for doing so is. Where is the accountability?

As always they created the problem and socialize the solutions. It is always heads they win, tails we lose. There must be ways to teach them a lesson before we have an alternative party to vote for. But I think voters in KBW, Shanmugam and LHL GRCs should send the strong signal by not voting for the PAP.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Medical insurance and high prices

A few years back I kept complaining here about how health insurance will in the end cause a spiral in healthcare charges. Today I found a very good clip which explains it very well for the US system. Well that isn't our system but almost all system have some US-like incentives to keep the system at the cutting edge of performance. Therefore the risk of it getting out of hand is always there but in reality, all health care costs are going up and it is only a matter of how quickly.

Wifey's O&G doctor at Gleneagles always ask if we were using insurance. That was years ago and also when I started researching. Over time I found this doctor to be increasingly money minded...

Monday, November 13, 2017

Pope Francis: Enemies within; Friends without

This article occupied a tab on my Chrome browser for countless days until I made it a point to read it yesterday. What a sorry state the Catholic Church is in. To us outsiders it looked like they finally had a leader who could lead them into the 21st century but inside the secret society, they wanted him dead  instead.

Priests praying for the death of their Pontiff. How low can you get?

But within the church, Francis has provoked a ferocious backlash from conservatives who fear that this spirit will divide the church, and could even shatter it. This summer, one prominent English priest said to me: “We can’t wait for him to die. It’s unprintable what we say in private. Whenever two priests meet, they talk about how awful Bergoglio is … he’s like Caligula: if he had a horse, he’d make him cardinal.” Of course, after 10 minutes of fluent complaint, he added: “You mustn’t print any of this, or I’ll be sacked.”
I think Protestantism have its own similar problems but because of its diversity it is much harder to make out.

The good work of the churches is not being done at the top but anonymously and unheralded at the the bottom. Even if its heads fell off those who belonged to the their Lord will just carry on as usual and trust God to regrow the leadership layer. This is the way Protestantism has always renewed itself and stayed relevant. The Roman Catholic Church being hierarchical have no such luck.

Saturday, November 4, 2017

SMRT: Better at politics than maintenance

The offer of amnesty was a clever move by SMRT management but you can't draw wool over the eyes of HR people after trying to do that with engineers. The management is just lucky that most people are not familiar with engineering or HR.

Amnesty is a shrewd move to reset all the mistakes and cowardice before. With it you can bury the possibility of pursuing an inquiry that you winked in approval as the working level running against time and resource constraint took risks with maintenance. The problem is those workers never imagined something like this would happen and when it did they would find it hard to trust you.

Who cares about what the other experts think, what mattered here is the HR perspective as clearly spelled out by David Leong (see above). A cultural issue is a HR issue and not engineering or audit issues.

Amnesty doesn't work for companies. It never has and never will. An example which it works was when President Jokowi declared a tax amnesty for Indonesia's rich. You can sack an employee but compared to citizenship, that is as good as impossible to remove.

Update: Nov 7, 8:05 am

Of course there were no lapses on LTA and MOT part. The structure was set up in such a way that SMRT will take the hit for any failure. If you were prepared to suffer the political hit of allowing lines to be shut down occasionally for maintenance, none of these would have happened. Planned downtime is better than forced downtime but you people were wishful, hoping that you can dodge the bullet. Unfortunately you never understood train systems well enough to know that with sufficient confidence. That is why newly built lines have problems which commuters cannot help but noticed even on open day and first day. 

Those who are shrewd would avoid working for SMRT or any train operator. It is a heads and tails you lose between you and the regulator. You also end up as the punching bag for commuters as well. 

Desmond Kuek full of misplaced confidence from the SAF never understood what he signed up for. 

Update: Nov 8 5:45 am

Thursday, November 2, 2017

Next Fed Chief: Yellen by another name

That disgrace in the Oval Office would try as much as possible to expunge Obama's imprint from the US government. Some things e.g., the ACA are simply too bobby trapped for him to do that. This is silly, to have Jerome Powell as the next Fed chair is practically Yellen by another name and sex. But to be fair, he is untested in crisis and has a resume inferior to Janet Yellen.

SMRT: Why did they falsify maintenance record?

Nobody asked the very simple question which I believe many engineers are asking among themselves. What is the motive of the engineering manager and crew to falsify the maintenance records?

My take is that the pitiful few hours every night they have to do their maintenance work, there was never enough time to do the needful. Risky trade-offs have to be made all the time and they must have thought something so boring and safe was indeed safe to ignore until events proved it was a huge mistake.

The solution to this problem is both simple and brutal. The price of a more reliable train system is simply to run it less and allow more time to keep it in good shape. This option would not be available like it is in London or New York where traffic can easily flow over to alternative lines. We will get there as we build more lines but that is many years away. Meanwhile the bosses at SMRT and LTA are simply taking advantage of the commuting public ignorance and shoved all the blame to the poor manager and team. Problem is the rest of the engineers and technicians manning other parts of the system aren't fooled. The cowardice of the top bosses have just created for themselves growing monster size problems to come. High time they come forward and confess their wrongs to us. They have lived lies for so long and that is why the problems remain and we are often caught by surprise.

Desmond Kuek is right there is a cultural problem at SMRT and he, his senior management, the board of directors and LTA are the cause of the problems. Unfortunately unlike in the past the working level is now shouldering all the blame.

Update: Nov 3, 6:15 am

To me this isn't just for the Bishan flooding incident but a mine sweeping move to pick out all the time bombs in the system. If it is a cultural problem, the risks are system wide. You don't need an amnesty to identify a local problem. It doesn't take a lot of time to match documentation with work done. In fact, you do not even have to wonder and figure out how to investigate this because it is so obvious! That is why the auditor interviewed for the story refused to be identified. Prof Lee Der Hong was right that amnesty was a bad idea but without being explicit given the situation the organization have driven itself into, a practical and unavoidable idea. On the other hand the staff aren't stupid either because together we stand, divided we fall. Maintenance shortfalls and shortcuts are probably pervasive.

Practically every blog post on the MRT I suggested the organization do not know or understand the system they are running. That is still true and will be for a long time.

Related: Concerns raised over SMRT’s corporate culture, system of checks

Update: Nov 3, 7:00 am

This is really putting the front to the back. I had the ST clipping first but didn't find the time to use it in a blog post until I shared the following with my siblings yesterday, which gave me the motivation to have the first post on this topic.

That clip has gone totally viral as a Whatsapp video. I had receive multiple copies. I posted to the family chat group yesterday...

Note: No engineering manager will falsify maintenance records without upstairs also winking the eye. But if something goes wrong guess who kena.

Saturday, October 28, 2017

Kindle App new Home Screen

After blogging for so many years, it is the little things, the little pleasures that I am happiest to write about.

I thought Amazon has chosen a beautiful home screen for their Kindle app. This is one of the most important apps on my devices but in lately it is a hard fight against Google Play Books.

I hardly use my Paperwhite any more. It is too slow and not so friendly when it comes to annotations.

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Trump's unilateralism: Skipping the EAS

I read about foreign policy analysts moping over Trump's planning to skip the East Asia Summit in the Washington Post. They are incredulous that he would just be 80km and one day away from the place of meeting and chose to fly home to the US instead of delaying a day.

I think Trump is just very personal about Obama. The EAS is too closely associated with his predecessor and he has been out to reverse everything the Black Man had done. The other reason is to tell the other participants at the EAS that America would do as it wish. This is a mistake whose cost is not yet obvious. Don't try to understand Trump through your preferred lenses. You have to take him as his is and start from the person is was in the past or simply read him wrong all the time. These cocky analysts always think Trump is stupid and he ought to listen to their advice, but look who is president?

Trump prefers to deal nation to nation. That was why it was important for us to invite him to visit and he promised he will come.

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

How to be the perfect partner to Trump's America

I caught the brief statements by both of them but before that I also saw this a day earlier.

Well Najib visited earlier and stayed at the Trump hotel. We have been honored once more to be invited to Blair House instead. 

When I imagined how different we would have conducted ourselves if it had been President Hillary Clinton, it was amusing to watch how we adapted so adroitly and perfectly to a President Trump.

I can easily imagine how after this Trump would press every foreign partner why they can't have the same sort of relationship that America is having with Singapore. Trump would ignore the glaring fact that each partner is different. That sort of attitude comes from being the world's top dog, which for a long time the US have often refrained from asserting themselves.

Most important, we do this first and foremost for us than the Americans but they cannot failed to think that we have put them first as well. It is impressive how we adapted to an unusual administration with an incompetent president.

No TPP is like they say, "No fish, prawn also good"

It was a home run for us. I only wished years ago the PM also understood the importance of getting the MRT right.

Thursday, October 19, 2017

More Amazon credit from past Kindle purchases

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

Desmond Kuek as the least worst CEO for SMRT

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Napa Valley Fire: Getting personal

When I saw this in the NYT, I recalled we were there in the first trip we brought the kids to the USA in 2006

The elder girl took this photo with her first camera.

Prof Thaler warning to the PAP

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

SMRT: Embarrassing Failure

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sunday, October 8, 2017

Aung San Suu Kyi: limits of leadership

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

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

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

Myanmar is a burden too heavy for her shoulders.

Update: October 10 4:30pm

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

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

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

Friday, October 6, 2017

Fighting Fake News is an Arms Race

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

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

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