Friday, February 28, 2014

COI: Sergeant Fadli our Han Solo cop

Sergeant Fadli was very brave but I wonder if he wasn't also foolhardy. He reminds me of Han Solo and Chewbacca chasing down storm troopers long ago in a galaxy faraway. There is a lesson here and I am glad Fadli obeyed his superior. Please don't tell me no guts, no glory. Glory is an unnecessary and costly objective. He has the right heart and guts but I hope will in future be tampered with good judgement and cool calculations under fire.

That's Life: Chua Sian Chin and Zhou Yingnan

Former old guard minister Mr. Chua Sian Chin died two days ago. Mr Zhou Yingnan yesterday. Their obituaries in the ST today was very interesting.

I try to make Chua Sian Chin's entry more prominent with a red box. This is unnecessary for Zhou Yingnan. He is present across several pages including this one.

I remember Chua Sian Chin. As a kid I learned from him in a speech I never forgot that the only constant in life is change. But who is Zhou Yingnan except that his family is rich and well connected in business. 

I think by and large people prefer to have the Zhou's than Chua's life. 

Update: 1:45 pm

An apt tribute by Goh Chok Tong to Chua Sian Chin.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Conundrum over Leaders' Pay

Universal Suffrage is only a few decades old. For most of our recorded history leaders pay themselves outrageously. What we pay our leaders and they are the most handsomely paid in the world is picayune compared to what the Internet in recent years have uncovered of deposed leaders. The latest example comes from Ukraine.

Counting every cent visible as well as invisible we all know the Chinese leaders are incomparably better paid than their American counterparts. It is easy to just compare the wealth of the American and Chinese legislative bodies. We are juxtaposing some American millionaires with Chinese billionaires and multi-millionaires too many to count.

A few US Presidents had left office and eventually became bankrupt or lived in poverty. One wonder why they served. Had Abraham Lincoln lived, he would not be a rich man when he left office. The debt America owed him will not be paid. I am not sure such men were looking for pecuniary payment.

I especially remember Harry Truman. I became aware of his financial difficulties after he had left office because some American friends sent me his story.

Today any member of the Chinese Politburo retires with much entitlements and hidden wealth. In earlier times emperors and top mandarins clung to power and wealth until they are dead with arrangements to keep it within the family. Well if you lose power, you weren't bankrupt or poor but more likely dead. US and China, two different systems.

I think we ought to pay our leaders well but at the same time the reality and high stakes of national leadership here makes what Hitler said to his generals true: If you win there is no need to explain; if you lose you should not be here to explain! Transplanted to our reality it means a first class minister will always be underpaid and a dud minister, say former MOT Raymond Lim would be way over paid when you consider the mess in land transport he had left behind for us.

We must continue to find a better way to pay our leaders. I hate the last word attitude the PAP has brought to this conundrum.

Yet another kettle

Our present kettle is only eleven months old - it's started rusting, and we already have to replace it with this $62 Zebra kettle. I feel cheated by the price but a close examination of how this simple thing is constructed I think this is the one that would last us many years to the point I can't remember, i.e., just like our previous previous one.

Reminder: Universities only want the best applicants

Spotted this in my daily morning commute today. I said to myself, every university works harder than NUS at attracting the best students, and nobody wants those with less good results. These are not bad results, just not good enough for our Unis. Quite a few will go overseas and do the name of Singapore proud with their First Class Honours or Summa Cum Laude. I have very mixed feelings about this. How many will we lose and I know many of the scholarships to foreigners we give out will not bring good returns to us. Those scholars in my daughters' class never integrate with the locals. Many of them will extract all we are prepared to give them and then adios. We have gone overboard with LKY's scholarship policy. This policy looks like running on autopilot and nobody is accounting for the benefits to us.

Later in the day, my daughter told me that the A levels results would be released next Monday. She and her friends are nervous and worried. I told her this is the first time she didn't worry because this is also the only time she had put in more than her best in the exams. Any result would be good results.

Finally getting serious with the markets

My macro investment map of the US. Every significant piece of development/news can be fitted. So I am taking this much more seriously now and this will keep me very busy indeed.

Here I can see laid out the probabilities and risks. Lots and lots of work ahead! This is going to be fun. Me wonder why I had resisted doing this for so long!

It's time I own up to struggling with the trading and investing equivalent of Hsienberg Uncertainty Principle. Tough!

Our men in uniform: Brave ASP, Stupid LTC

The COI chairman feels that ASP Jonathan Tang deserves a medal. Coming from a highly respected retired high court judge, I haven't read of anyone disagreeing.

ASP Tang displayed calm and courage under fire in a situation he and his men were never trained for. As I had recently watched a documentary of the Yom Kippur War, I think he had his Yom Kippur moment and responded with a clear mind and good judgment as the Israelis had under an overwhelming Arab onslaught. We need more officers like him. We could never prepare for all situations, especially the Black Swan ones but with officers like him we will get out successfully and make a quick and successful comeback. His top bosses had failed him and yet he coped. They had even failed to provide him the basic tools especially the ability to communicate with other officers. What a shame. Had our policy makers brought a cost led and "Just in Time" mindset where they provide specifically for specific situations and nothing more? This will leave ground commanders and men in a "you die your problem" situation.

Just like the Israelis during the 1973 war, I don't think we can provide and equip our officers for every scenario but we should keep trying until successful to train them to respond in novel situations like ASP Tang had. This is especially vital for the SAF which I shall next discuss.

While netizens are decrying animal abuse by the LTC and WO in Pasir Ris camp and the NSF soldier meted with punishment for whistle-blowing (they use a more legitimate reason to punish him), we are shockingly blind to the real issue here which I am sure TNI in Indonesia must surely have noticed. They must be laughing at this stupid LTC. What has tying up a dog this way have to do with permanently stopping dog bites? Mindef is equally idiotic to follow up with a picture of a dog bitten leg and missed the incompetence of their LTC.

Do you for a moment imagine an Indonesian army camp will have such biting dogs problem? This is completely absurd. They would have dealt with it.

To me that LTC is unfit for command. You can't solve a dog problem how can you even competently engage rifle toting enemies? Unless they come to you as per the exercises you were trained before? That is not going to happen stupid.

Something is deadly wrong with our SAF. We ought to be very worried. The two defence ministers better do something about this post haste.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

MRT incident: Senior Civil Servant lost to Chris Tan

From the ST report you could tell that SMRT isn't as worried about commuters than if the incident yesterday on the North-South line should be billed as a disruption or delay. Bear in mind many polytechnic students were late for their exams as a result of this incident but I don't think they were even aware or cared.

On Feb 13, Christopher Tan wrote an article I wanted to blog about but didn't have the time: Reliability of MRT key to having fewer cars on roads. In that piece Christopher Tan shared with readers about the bet he had with a senior civil servant on the reliability of our trains. Yesterday mrt incident suggests that the civil servant has lost the bet.

I want to remember these statistics from the article.

For instance, breakdowns on the 125-year-old, 340km, 24-hour New York City subway average one every 260,000km operated.
Singapore's 25-year-old, 180km network breaks down once every 120,000km.
Let's not even compare with the appropriate peer to us which is Hong Kong MTR. We can't even do better then New York! Yesterday incident was yet another annoying reminder.

Desmond Kuek and the board must surely feel like farmers living under unpredictable weather. They have in the short term very little control over the reliability of the train system. The hefty fines the regulator could impose on them is not going to help make things better. If circumstances eventually cause LG Kuek to be ousted from his job, I think the only guys that would be willing to do it are those with nothing to lose. In other words those who would surely fail at the task. In a perverse way we will return to square one with the government of the day getting the blame. After all they are the ones who let in so many people into this tiny place and cause the system to become overloaded.

With a reliable train system years away, meanwhile SMRT can do no better than empathize and really connect with commuters. LG Kuek asking commuters to be patient is just not good enough. I am sure he would have visited injured soldiers in hospital as CDF, so what is the equivalent here?

Rise of Islam and 377A

One of the ways me as a non Muslim understand Islam is that it is the preeminent political religion. That is why Islam provides for a theocracy. If you project the present trends, eventually enough Muslims will want to live under an Islamic state. What if it was not possible?

Islam will always be politically managed in Singapore. Can't be helped. We don't want our social environment to be difficult for them to practice their faith. We can be Islam friendly without being an Islamic state. Perhaps this is a key reason why 377A will not be repealed. Pretending it doesn't exist may be the furthest we would ever go. If LGBTs think the Christians are giving them a hard time, there are greater and more dangerous battles beyond. The stakes could be so high that it could destroy this society. So people should think carefully how to rise to this challenge and address it peacefully. LGBT must change their sure lose strategy. Making good progress doesn't mean that the rest of the journey is as easy. LGBT, Christians and Muslims should all be patient. Remember love is patient. For now we should just keep to the status quo.

Monday, February 24, 2014

Comparing our CPUs

OK, I don't want to keep going to each machine and look up where each of are with CPU benchmark ranking.

The Atom Z3740 installed in the Asus Transformer T100 is only slightly faster than the SU7300 wifey is using.

Going to replace the T4300 in the next few months. Will throw in an iPad Air for her as well.

Riot COI: A woefully unprepared Police

It was good that Andrew Loh was present at the COI on the riot and shared his findings with us.

For a while I had felt that our police force have become complacent and completely KPI driven.

Delivering well on KPI make them look good but complacency can only be felt in our daily interactions with them.

I will never forget this. My father had passed away in SGH. Police have cut their services perhaps to manage costs and I could not report the death at the hospital but had to go to the station or what they now called neighborhood police center. The fact that it is still a station in my mind showed how badly they are communicating with the public. It cost money to bring a message to everyone.

The nearest police center was across the street, the huge Cantonment Complex. It was a very secure and forbidding place but the three sleepy officers were very polite. They printed me the death certificate which I took to the undertaker at 2 am in the morning. When I showed the undertaken the death certificate he told me it has no serial number! I was terribly upset that I needed to drive all the way back to the Cantonment Complex to get it fixed. It was damn sloppy work.

A riot in today Singapore is a Black Swan event for the Police. It is naturally not in the KPI. I am doubtful there are KPIs for assessing such risks and taking preventive measures so that there is not even a chance for a bud to sprout. This is the same poor attitude at SMRT which is woefully unprepared for surprises too. It costs money to be better prepared.

Does it surprise anyone that once the facts get revealed at the COI, we learn how badly trained our police officers are to cope with a riot? What else are they woefully unprepared for?

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Is porn killing love?

Is porn killing love? I woke up this morning and found a friend from the other side of the planet had tagged me with an Aljazeera item.

My knee jerk reaction was how could porn kill love when there is no love to begin with? People are confused what love is and that confusion is getting worse.

Then I discover this wasn't an article I could quickly read and respond to. It is asking me for 40 mins, which I am not willing to give. I decided to give it the first 15 mins and the last few minutes. I told myself, may be this is useful for the children.

So what is love? I blogged about this here a few years ago but the quickest way is quoting from the Apostle John, 'God is Love' which most will not understand. Let's see it in action: Mother Teresa of Calcutta. One of my kids use to watch this countless times, like every school holiday.

We in Singapore are doing better than before. When I was a kid I had observed that a lot which goes on in families isn't love but debt and in the extreme children were the parents' pension plan. They expected the 'love' to be repaid. This is also a key theme in much of our literature. It's all about bread and butter. Those were times of want, what do you expect? But now the fight has changed in character even if its substance has always been the same. For an example just go to Umberto Eco, "The Name of the Rose".

This is a screenshot from the movie showing the forbidden book the monks in the abbey were privately enjoying themselves. That is pornography but in Middle Ages parlance. Porn is as old as the hills. Where there is a poverty of love there you will find porn.

Finally the Aljazeera Story: Is porn killing love? They are asking the wrong question. Society is asking the wrong question here and also on LGBT too. That's why I took the effort to painfully write and post this. I might come back and rewrite this for greater clarity.

There is little or no love to begin with.

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Retiring Old Hard Disc

Retired and destroyed this old 60 GB hard disc today. What can you do with 60 GB any more?

I still have a 150 GB and 400 GB ones with a 1 TB as my working drive which is already 75% full. Files are just simply much larger these days.

Tan Cheng Bock on the Pioneer Generation

The good Dr. Tan Cheng Bock articulated my thoughts on this matter completely. How I wished he shared them with us in the capacity of President. What he had said complemented Tharman's budget speech perfectly in Parliament yesterday.

The President has tremendous soft power at his disposal which the incumbent Tony Tan do not have the right heart, personality and skill to use. He only knows how to use hard power. In fact, I think Tony Tan is the worst President we ever had and I hope he would choose to step down when his term ends as he is likely to suffer a humiliating defeat otherwise.

My kids call Dr Tony Tan the rabbit President. Clearly they don't take him seriously. As for me, he is superfluous. Among my friends, many of us think he looks like the KFC man. Fortunately for him none of us are the types who would get invited to tea with him at the Istana.

So what had good doc done right this time? He has given us the words that helps us bind ourselves into a common thread. This is the first and most important job of a President. Queen Elizabeth does this regularly with distinction for decades. No American President could survive without performing this role on top of his often contradictory political duties and short term pressure. Meanwhile Tony Tan could not even give good sound bites for the media to use with the many opportunities open to him. Tony Tan is failing to connect and for that he deserves a fail grade.

Delicious Salad at Biopolis

My primary school classmate bought me a delicious salad lunch on Tuesday. I told wifey about it, may be we could go there on our own sometime. It is located at the Biopolis which we rarely visit - no reason to be there. So I am logging it here in case over time I completely forget about this!

Friday, February 21, 2014

People's Association Awful Accounts

Thanks to TR Emeritus, I found the PA annual report for 2010/11 from Parliament's website. Look at what the auditor KPMG had to say about how PA is keeping their financial accounts. Awful.

Looks like it is AIMS all over again, only worse. This is what the PAP and government is getting for going after WP AHPETC isn't it?

However this plays out it will look terrible on the PAP. Right now they must be running all over the place like headless chickens on how to respond because there is nothing in the ST today on this matter.

Update: Feb 22 10:00 am

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Casio counter-intuitive strategy

Only time time will tell if Casio is right to stick with compact cameras than join the herd chasing mirrorless cameras. Nevertheless I feel that Casio understands my photo taking needs. I regularly see so many people toting DSLRs and mirrorless cameras taking awful photos. I think they will eventually tire of their effort and only a much smaller crowd of photographers who know how to make use of the over spec cameras will remain. In other words the market for mirrorless cameras is a "bubble".

I think Casio is smart here. It will take the opportunity to corner the market of compact cameras left behind by the current  leaders. Of course Canon, Nikon etc., will not completely leave this segment but their neglect will become obvious with lousy offerings which customers eventually avoid buying. If they stick to this market they will end up selling on price and leave all the innovation opportunities to Casio.

My next camera could be a Casio. The Exilim EX-100 has a constant f/2.8 throughout the entire focal range? I like that and can really do nice things with that feature.

100,000 taxi licences

This is old news from Monday which I didn't have time to blog about.

Of course I can't help thinking about those people I know who have taken up driving a cab. Some of them are my neighbors. I often thought it must be they have lost their jobs. At least this is true for Gintai the good blogger.

What do 100,000 taxi licences mean? My gut feel is that the number will grow bigger. Taxi driving is a safety net of sorts for many people. We have read some of their stories in the media. Very few started driving a cab as their first job. Lots of licence holders see it as unemployment insurance. It is very short term thinking and naturally you don't make long term plans when you are not even financial secure in the short term. I bet almost none of them imagine that driverless cars will eventually feature on our roads and we wouldn't need professional drivers then. All these drivers would be older and what would they do? Go into the security business? Even there intelligent CCTVs would reduce the number of people needed. I think they will all end up looking to the government for help. And what is the government doing? Wasting time on scenario planning?

To me at the very least all these taxi licence holders should keep themselves fit and healthy. Without health nobody can lend you a helping hand.

Citibank Account Frustrations

Finally that USD account is zero and I still waiting for the sum to show up in the new account in SG. Waste my time and money arranging for the forms to be FedEx to Guam and have my relationship manager sat on it for 12 days :-( I almost wanted to scold her but what is the point? She is losing her job as they cease deposit operations.

I told IPB Singapore I am not going to open my account with them. Citibank is always like the former Oprah - grow very big and then shrink to small. They are now in the downsizing mode. I better get to a place where it is core to them and they don't go around trimming and chasing me out to another place. I hate dealing with banks and telcos. They often behave like they are the government and also the customer. Then who are we?

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

LGBT: Lawrence Khong stirs up a storm

The latest post by Lawrence Khong has stirred up a storm at sea which I hope do not make landfall here. May be at some point if not already he would be seen as homophobic but not yet for me. To me he lacks love and yes, he is not clear what love is. But who truly knows what love is anyway? We are all learning and the journey lasts a lifetime. So much of great literature is about love, wondering, struggling over and sometimes enlightening the path. Besides Lawrence Khong doesn't insist that 377A should be enforced. He only ask for it not to be repealed. He is not homophobic as he only resist LGBT from achieving greater space. He will not try to claw back what the LGBT community have gained. He is standing firm but not attacking. LGBT activists are over reacting. Even if Lawrence Khong doesn't or do not know how to love LGBTs, at least he doesn't hate them like LGBT types are from the many comments they are leaving behind all over the place.

Now why are we hearing only him shout about this matter from the tower? Where are the other pastors except from that one church that is gladly welcoming LGBT?

I think Lawrence Khong is afraid that the quiescent majority which are not LGBT friendly will over time turn friendly. When that time comes, 377A will go. To him that would be a very dark day for Singapore because moral decline precedes decline in everything good and worthwhile. In other words, Singapore would cease to exist as it has no moral right to survive. I do not happen to agree with this thesis.

I do not buy his crusading stance, and I think it would not work either. If he wanted to fight this, he should have decades ago. A new and morally liberal generation has appeared on the scene and it is only a matter of time ageing moral conservatives leave the scene. Unfortunately LGBTs are impatient and want to bring forward that day as soon as possible. They can't wait to have more freedom to truly live as equal with the rest of us. Is that asking for too much?

Both camps can go on arguing and calling each other names but none of them decide where this society will go. Quietly the politicians will sense the ground and when the time comes to repeal 377A they will not lose votes doing so. But I don't think it would be that easy. The Muslims have been quiet letting Lawrence Khong carry on with his fight. If anything they are even more anti-gay than the Christians. LGBTs haven't been very clever picking their fight. Unlike the Christians, the Malay Muslim community occupy a special position socially and politically. That could be the barrier they could not overcome until Malaysia and Indonesia also become LGBT friendly. Therefore Lawrence Khong didn't need worry. There are more pressing challenges awaiting him starting with explaining and especially showing God's love. Far away from here Pope Francis is doing a wonderful job at that. Why not learn from him?

Thumbs Up! SQ :-)

I liked Part One which I saw yesterday but have no time to blog about. This is Part Two and better! :-) Way to go SQ!

Nobody beats them when they want to do their best job but in the back on my mind I keep thinking about cost. The game has changed and there is only one Valentine's Day each year. It is hard not to be sentimental but for our own good we must keep asking ourselves if the age of romance in air travel has passed.

This was the full expression of SQ DNA. It is hard not to be yourself but as Darwin had observed, only the most adaptable survive.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

How Desmond Kuek might get the sack

Which CEO can survive if his company faced a fine from the regulator of 5% of revenue? But the government is going to if necessary hit them with up to 10% of annual fare revenue. Even the board could lose its job. Today we discover the limits of government patience and they had been more long suffering than us. Today the government makes public what is incompetence in running the trains. Desmond Kuek will need plenty of luck to keep his job. The SMRT board is also vulnerable.

Three weeks I said this CEO doesn't get it and now the message to him could not be clearer. Let's be realistic, he better pray no major service breakdown near elections time.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Love Singapore is not homophobic

I just downloaded this and had a quick read. Lawrence Khong and company claim that they are not homophobic. I take it to mean that they will not be violent crusaders of the past. However they will work to prevent the social enlargement of LGBT.

On the other hand LGBT people wants to live with all the rights like the rest of us including the right to marry and adopt kids of their own. I suppose if it were possible for science to show how two same sex gametes could produce a baby, they will want that. That is science fiction at the furthest end for now.

To me the issue is very simple. This government do not want to be the arbiter of morality. At the end of the day society decides, i.e., the majority rules even if they are mostly quiescent. Nevertheless if the LGBTs push too hard the backlash would be unambiguous and severe. They must be aware and be careful of the tipping point of reaction.

Overall Love Singapore in responding early is doing the majority a favor by bringing forward the public debate.

Each side should continue to debate and press their case in a mature and peaceful way. Que Sera Sera.

Update: Feb 18 9:50 am

In other words no need for anyone to get so worked up. MOH was viewing this strictly from the public health perspective. Now if they don't own this issue this way, who would and we would definitely not have an imaginary but real problem down the road. Thumbs up to Gan Kim Yong's clear headedness.

Lawrence Khong and friends vs the LGBT community, both sides carry plenty of baggage, see red in words when there isn't.

Update: Feb 20 9:10 am

Because in matters of race and religion and often times economics too, words often carry additional meaning beyond their dictionary definitions. Baggage carriers just like you might say for a person with a chip on his shoulder is completely oblivious of the baggage or chip. It takes a determined open mind to be shocked by another completely different point of view to become aware there is more than meets the eye. For the government that is what it means when we accuse them to be out of touch with the people. I am more specific about this - poor communication by the government because they are clueless about the people baggage.

A statue in Batam to honor terrorists?

Why is Kadin even involved in this? I didn't read the Indonesians wrong. Far too many of them have the attitude they are the big brother to us and dearly wish to do as they please with us. Fortunately many of them are also stupid. They have delivered to us a golden opportunity for Singaporeans to learn how vulnerable we are. Konfrontasi does not feature in our school textbooks because we were sensitive to the Indonesians feelings. Even our trade data do not show the flows between Indonesia and us. Now they have removed their masks and we can stop pretending and openly prepare our defence against them. Our government is right to milk this learning moment for all it is worth. We must always bear in mind how beastly they consistently are.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Dominic Chin Song Tribute LKY - You First Believed

Thumbs to our young people for doing this :-)

Peh Shing Huei: When the Party Ends.

This book is not due till the 27th and I have surprised myself by finishing it. Well this isn't exactly correct as I had skipped the chapter on Bo Xilai.

Everyone is fond of telling the Chinese how to solve their problems. The loudest call is to become more democratic. However everywhere I have observed this: people can't helped being themselves and who they are is defined by their history and culture.

The Chinese do not have the habit of tolerance and compromise, so how can democracy work? In fact this is true as a matter of degree almost everywhere. That is why many people aren't happy with democracy either. At least they recognize it is the least worst system and so they stick with it.

What China need to solve her problems are capable leaders and you cannot always count on having them at the reins when you need them. Peh Shing Huei wrote about Xi Jinping reprising on Deng what Deng had done to Mao. This is impossible. Mao and Deng are products of their time. Xi will have to find another way. At least China's problems are well defined and there exists a broad consensus on them: tackling corruption, pollution, food safety and narrow the wealth and income gap.

The surer the Chinese are of their rise, the more likely they are to trip themselves up. They ought to be worried about being overly confident and starting to throw their weight around. All these are premature because they aren't a great nation yet.

My Beautiful Woman

This morning I opened an email my friend in Seattle sent me this with subject as "My Beautiful Woman". In the body of the email she wrote:

I found this on my daughter's FB page of the very BEST things I've ever seen:

Yes, an example of doing small things with great love.

Friday, February 14, 2014

WP vs PAP: Our unusual politics

I came across this article by David Brooks in the NYT by happenstance. It is a very well written piece which certainly whet my appetite for the book which this article was based: Fire and Ashes. I must find the time sometime to read it. Meanwhile my thoughts dwell on the unusual character of Singapore politics compared with the eloquence of confession what regular politics is like. 

The WP wants to promote a different other worldly politics. The PAP facing an opposition respond like any dog would when it sees a bone. Fortunately it takes two hands to clap or we shall have politics like David Brooks is writing here.

WP brand of politics is not natural to human nature. In the back of my mind I am always afraid like Goujian, the WP as a small and under resourced opposition is a totally different creature when they become strong. Then we shall see the politics as usual elsewhere happening in Singapore. To me that would be the end of us. Honest to heart that is the only reason for the PAP to keep trying to fix them. Bear in mind these words from the article: To be a politician is to be "worldly and sinful and yet faithful and fearless at the same time....

Are our politicians up to this lofty and contradictory existence? Lincoln lied about the Confederate party being in town to negotiate peace in order to get his amendment passed.

Indonesian military bestial culture

Found the above at the Unseen Singapore blog. The TNI is one huge beast. They are possessed by demons. That is their culture and character. I was too young to understand the Confrontation but by 1998 I was more than old enough to receive a lesson what the TNI true character is. At that time the Internet was not pervasive but friends in the media showed me pictures of how Chinese Indonesian women were raped and brutally murdered in the May 1998 riots. To this day I cannot erase them from my memory. Then I imagined if we were at war with them, that is the least worst they would do to our women. I thought we might need a WMD for leverage but it was totally politically incorrect.

Winston Choo is too sentimental. I supposed he is too personally invested since he had painstakingly built relations with them over decades.

I always remember how the late Lim Kim San hated the Japanese. This man is a master at reading the human character. You need to bring the same insight to know what many Indonesian leaders are like. Just take a look at one of them: Probowo Subianto the former commander of their special forces. He is a less subtle and clever guy and so his character is easier to read. Statesman like figures like Suharto are rare and narrow minded, fragile ego types like Habibie are legion. SBY is a good guy but his hands are tied in the new Indonesia and he has to leave office soon.

Enough Indonesian leaders will not treat Singapore as an equal partner. We have got to figure out how to live with this fact of life. The pretending is over and that is the mistake Winston Choo and our leaders must quickly recognize. Ordinary people who had lived the Japanese occupation understand the bestial side of human nature well but they are all disappearing into history.

And I haven't mention TNI conduct in East Timor. They are a pack of beasts.

Asperger's Kid: Go Like it on Facebook

This looks so familiar. Yes, I saw it on my Facebook news feed yesterday. I didn't know what it was about as I had just scrolled down quickly. Missing some of such items is a risk I have to live with because I simply have no time to look at each one carefully.

Now I want to go and add a like to this one post haste.

Update: 12:30 pm

Just located and liked his page at

Aunt remembers mom's passing

8 am eleven years ago my mom passed away.

I just got this sms from my aunt, i.e., my mom's younger sister. I note that she regularly fail to remember that I can't receive those content. I think she would eventually move to Whatsapp or equivalent. When most among her circle of friends make the switch she would have no choice.

I was at the GBB early this morning. If my mom were still alive I bet she would visit this place very often. Of course I would buy her the annual membership to visit the two domes.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

AHPETC accounts troubles

Sian! It would be easiest if WP had failed and should be brought to task over this. But how would we know? Many of us are suspecting that this is yet another attempt by the government and the PAP to fix the opposition. Folks like me and there must be many of us have no time to follow blow by blow what's happening. I will leave this alone but by the next GE, the dust would have settled and become less fuzzy or controversial and then I can study and make up my mind.

If I were WP, I would conserve resources and try to do as little as possible because this is a silly David vs Goliath game. Either you have pebbles to slingshot Goliath or else you just always keep out of harms way. And if I am representative of most voters tired of all these politicking, then the WP is safe because we have lost interest. But if the WP had done wrong, they deserve to face the music.

Better worry about the next haze and spend more time and energy on the existential threat Indonesia could become someday. The PAP should not try to fix any opposition when the forever hard truth for Singapore is that she is so vulnerable. This is an absolutely stupid action as you will discover an ineffective opposition in parliament just create a far larger and dangerous one outside aided and organized by modern technologies.

Brain-dead woman gave birth

This isn't the first time I had read a story like this and I had hesitated blogging about it especially when I was busy. This time was different as somehow it had provoked new associations in my mind.

Nature is brutal, just watch Animal Planet to confirm this. It is probably not wrong to say that God is at least as brutal. If he wasn't our holy books would have to be rewritten. For a start, the Bible will not have the book of Job.

But God is only brutal for time trapped beings like us. Once God decided to put himself into the same prison of time and space he was not the slightest bit brutal except towards himself. He also allowed others to act violently against him.

I wrote to an old friend about what I thought and had previously learned from this story. I don't think she would understand what I was trying to say. Someday perhaps I shall explain. That was a good example of the time trap we are all in. If we were not confined to the timeline, she could travel ahead to understand what I meant and return to present time. With my limited understanding and using the expanded mental possibilities from the little Physics I picked up in school, we have taken a baby step toward God and grown in faith. This time not with scripture but nature. Nevertheless to me he speaks to us primarily through his Son and mostly in the form of a time confined human, who was never cruel. He came to us becoming us as we could never go to him.

Oh dear, I have intellectualize everything as a form of encryption for something more down to earth and personal. This must be one of the longest encryption keys ever.

Decryption key: The Joseph Story

Indonesia's Arms Industry

Our papers had missed this which was carried in the NYT.

A militarily inept Indonesia is a very comforting thought but that is not likely going to be the future of the TNI. Given that they can't help thinking of themselves as big brother to all their neighbors, what would a well equipped Indonesia be like? This is not a happy thought. My wish is that they modernize their military very slowly.

Monday, February 10, 2014

Don't believe food labels

I had come across this list more than once but could never remember them. Now I am recording them here to look up wherever I need it.

Food marketing consultant at, Rob Ward, shows you how to read between the lines.

The Claim: "Made With Whole Grains"
The Truth: The stuff could still be refined and darkened with caramel colouring. Go for '100 per cent Wholegrain'.

The Claim: "Sugar-free!"
The Truth: It may contain sugar alcohols (e.g. xylitol or sorbitol) which can cause diarrhoea.

The Claim: "Made with real fruit"
The Truth: Check the quantity of actual fruit used as a percentage: It's often too little to matter.

The Claim: "Low cholesterol"
The Truth: To be of any benefit, the stuff must be 'high HDL' (a good cholesterol), 'low LDL' (a bad cholesterol) and 'low triglyceride' (a type of fat in your blood).

The Claim: "No added sugar"
The Truth: "No added sugar" just means no sucrose. As with dried fruit, it could still be very sweet.

The Claim: "Light!"
The Truth: 'Light' may mean 30 per cent less fat/sugar. But it still doesn't make the stuff healthy.

The Claim: "Fortified with omega-3"
The Truth: ALA, the least beneficial and cheapest of the three types of fatty acid, is often the only kind used for food manufacturers.

The Claim: "Fat-free!"
The Truth: This is the code for 'high sugar' and 'addictive-laced'. Besides, not all fats are bad.

The Claim: "No trans fats!"
The Truth: Even with this claim, it may still contain 0.1g of artery-clogging trans fat per 100g. Avoid anything labelled "hydrogenated".

My shorthand for all these hard to remember points? I almost never over eat. It is hard to avoid the bad stuff. So take in as little as possible. Historically we do not have enough to eat and our ancestors suffered from malnutrition. Now we are hit with bad nutrition.

GBB membership lapsed

I have let all our membership cards lapsed. Yesterday was the last day we could use them to visit the paying areas of the GBB.

Let's see what is succeeding the current underwhleming CNY display at the Flower Dome. Would they bring back the Tulips? Then we shall decide to sign up for the family membership.

PM at Istana Party

Look at his shirt! Good thing he has a singlet underneath. He must have been working hard trying to meet as many of the old folks as possible.

I always feel that at the small things and these are the most important things, this guy is faultless. But I don't like the way he deals with long term issues. In fact, I am even disdainful of the way he tried or allowed others to fix the opposition.

Our First NAS: Affordable WD My Book Live

Bought this at Challenger Westgate yesterday for $169. This is going to make wifey very happy. Now she can stream her countless number of videos across her various devices.

This box is very easy to set up but I am quite insecure about its lack of security. It is quite easy to hack into. So we have to be careful with what we put in. Most important I would not permit anyone to login from outside.

First Visit to Westgate Mall

We made our first visit to the Westgate mall yesterday. I think this mall is more suitable for us than Jem next door. Bought a blouse for the girl at Sugar Cube. Wifey got herself a nice backpack there too.

Inevitability of Medical Inflation

Jessica Cheam had a good article in the Sunday Times yesterday which reminded me of an excellent speech Vivian Balakrishnan made to doctors at last year Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine commencement ceremony. He told them the greatest cause of medical inflation are doctors.

Ms Cheam point? Medical insurance ultimately inflate the cost of healthcare

My point? People fail to react to how doctors and the industry is taking advantage of the system to enrich themselves at our expense.

At any one time only a small fraction of us are sick and need to cough up big sums for treatment. Those who awaits their turn needing medical attention in some unknown future always do not bother themselves with such issues (I think this attitude will change sometime). So the healthcare industry preying on patients' insecurities and arbitraging the knowledge gap could charge the sky.

From Jessica Cheam's piece. This experience I bet is repeated countless times in the doctors' office every day.

Friday, February 7, 2014

Istana CNY Party: You are "un-invited"

Dr Tan Cheng Bock has been prevented from showing up at the CNY Istana party this coming weekend. I don't want to speculate the reasons but I note surely the vast Istana grounds could accommodate many more people. Also how much can these additional invitees eat? Also how do keeping them away add rather subtract from the gathering. I would have thought the people from the past would offer first hand account of their experience that is beneficial to those currently holding office. Looks like old guard ministers still with us would also not qualify to attend this time round.

Anyway what is the mystery? Gradually this government is getting stupider and stupider. Even the Indonesians have seized upon this opportunity to name their new frigate to test what we are made of. George Yeo often a farseeing fellow had said after the last GE, "Whither Singapore?"

I am not waiting for the PA to say something intelligent. I hope someone would at least ring my bell if they do.

Update: 4:50 pm

The intelligent word came from PA deputy boss hours ago. I still think it is dumb. Just invite them this year but not next year. Problem solved. Imagine I had made a mistake with my wedding invitation and then call a guest up to rescind it. Gosh! That fellow will never forgive me.

Stupid is the word. They absolutely have no class.

And should Tan Cheng Bock had posted this to Facebook? Well I think the public is interested and this is useful information relevant to us. I don't think someone who is stupid to "un-invite" him for a wedding reception to undo a mistake, he would write a post on that. People's Association, we are the People and we need to know.

A frigate's name: Lessons from Indonesia

Indonesia has unambiguously reminded us who and what they really are. We had it good with Suharto but he could only rule and live for so long. What we can expect from them most of the time, thinking in probabilities comes from their history and culture. We had conveniently forgotten that those two marines remain war heroes. We failed to juxtapose this against how Germany view the Nazis - no war heroes from there except shot by Hitler.

To be realistic could we expect otherwise? No. Was it right for the Indonesians to regard those marines as war heroes? I think so. They were just carrying out orders as any soldier would. Civilian targets? Don't be a hypocrite, war is damn dirty. Just check what is going in Syria now. That's why we should only resort to fighting as a last resort but carry it a big stick and talk softly as the first resort.

And why do I demand that our leaders should never pussy foot but tell us with with a bold face what the issues are. We will be swallowed up if we are timid. From their reaction of us complaining to them about the haze, I am afraid they increasingly think we can be bullied. Perhaps it is time to send a clear message. We don't want anyone to get hurt.

The Indonesian just delivered us a learning opportunity. I hope we learn all its lessons well. Kim Jung Un would look for an opportunity to sink that frigate but I think we can do much better than that. Question is do we have the gumption to use our options? If we are timid we wouldn't even be able to recognize them.

Update: Feb 8 10:00 am

I agree with Dr. Koh. Perhaps we should consider if it would be effective to make Thohari persona non grata in Singapore. He can forget about spending weekends here shopping and worse coming here to see our doctors.

His colleague Tan Chuan Jin connects better but the more strategic thinker is this fellow. In other words Singapore is prepared to burn bilateral relations if necessary. We all lose from such actions but sometimes keeping relations only lead you to losing even more. I am afraid we are dealing with a stupid and irrational neighbor. Stupid people cannot think and you need to bring a stick with you to knock some sense into them. But this is not easy and we have to be mindful of collateral effects and unintended consequences.

Update: Feb 8 3:55 pm

Just caught this off PAP Facebook how Channel 5 presented it.