Thursday, May 31, 2018

Big Four: Ownself check ownself

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

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

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

High Pay: The solution became the problem

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

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

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

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

Monday, May 28, 2018

Bad Telcos everywhere eh?

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

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

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

Sunday, May 27, 2018

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

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

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

RI and HCI for the elites only

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

A viral message against LHL

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Update: 12 pm

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

Sunday, May 20, 2018

Not another of those HSK's feedback sessions

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

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

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

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

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

Update: 9:35 am

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

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

She missed my reason why: Waste of time.

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

Friday, May 18, 2018

DAP MP Tony Pua: SG has no moral compass

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

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

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

Update: May 19, 9:10 pm

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

See Today Online.

Quoting from the end paragraph of the story:

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

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

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

Saturday, May 12, 2018

Surreal Politics Next Door

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

Friday, May 11, 2018

Assisted suicide anyone?

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

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

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

In future I expect more to lean toward assisted suicide