Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Too expensive to find the truth this way

I got this off my daily messages from NYT early this morning as evening headlines. Item 1 and 2 were just flip sides of the same thing. GOP Congressman Jim Jordan, a member of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee was questioning Cecile the president of Planned Parenthood.

When I was younger and had no children and plenty of discretionary time, I thought this contentious approach of surfacing the truth had great merit. Now that I am more like most people, I think we cannot afford the time or energy for this. I had complained in my posts how difficult it was to unearth the truth about AIM, AHPETC finances etc.,

They tell lies to advance their agenda even go as far as to set the other side up to discredit them. The technology for fabricating lies today is more advanced than proving the truth. This is making things really difficult.

Then I thought about the restraint Lawrence Khong had shown but not Rony Tan. The latter was invited for kopi with the ISD and the former has more judgement and stayed clear of that but not well enough to have MOM step in over the sacking of a pregnant employee in his church. I wonder if we didn't have our laws if there would be no shortage of people trying such time wasting methods to confuse, tire us and emotionally take advantage of us to advance their agendas. Think Roy Ngerng and Han Hui Hui. Fortunately most Singaporeans know which side their bread is buttered.

Understanding Jokowi from the Haze

In other words Jokowi says please understand that we are trying our best if we get haze for the next two to three years. This is like fixing our trains problem - no quick solutions.

I saw this as I sat in the car service centre waiting for my turn to be attended to. I thought I was seeing a mayor than a President. A man cannot change his ways of solving problems without going through a lot of pain. If the problem is urgent, forget it. He will bring to the table an approach what he is confident with and had always gotten results. Jokowi would be a domestically focused President attending to problems which the top down approach had never gotten them anywhere.

He would be shrewd to under promise and over deliver. May be this would be solved in 1 to 2 years then.

As for his tools? I think he will increasingly count on the military. What to do when there are so many people out to block him.

Monday, September 28, 2015

Hard Truth: Keep this in mind forever

Something from LKY and only he would say so publicly and in his inimitable way.

Just yesterday I was reminded of the following: The issue of air space over Riau.

LKY talked about sand. Malaysia used to threaten us with water. Today haze is the issue of the moment and shortly the Indonesians will visit the issue of airspace again. Because we are close neighbors, the issues are endless especially when we are so different not to mention the historical baggage that exist between us. The memory of the two warships named after the two commandos we hanged is still fresh on our minds.

Never forget this HARD TRUTH of our neighbors. So be steadfast and remember that we gotta be extraordinary. That is the baseline meaning of good enough. Good enough to control the airspace over Riau because we have been doing it will not be good enough eventually. We have to be super and maintain a huge gap and edge over them to keep our place.

Update: Sep 30 10:35 am

This is analysis for my children.

In the clip LKY was focused on one activity and the lessons to be learnt from it: Sand.

One of you had done a module of geopolitics and appreciate very well the geopolitical angle of enlarging our territory through reclaiming the sea for land.

We are forced to be realists and practical people. Whilst others especially the Americans secured by her resources, talent and especially the two huge oceans, a friendly north who are like brothers to them and a Mexican south which presented no threat they can experiment like crazy, make mistakes and recover. Tiny Singapore is restricted to working things out in the mind, in models and computer simulations because the cost of failure is often too large to bear. However as we become richer and our people more educated and skilled the room for experimentation grows.

Very important. We can't put back the cards our leaders had drawn on our behalf in the past. This grossly simplifies our analysis. This is the mistake "Red Dot Heartlander" made. I sincerely wish our relations with Malaysia were like those between the USA and Cananda or at least among states in the EU. Our relations could have deteriorated to become like those between Israel and her immediate neighbors but we had worked hard to prevent that.

By forever I do not mean it in the absolute but practical sense. Anyway since when this blog isn't about the practical? Even ideals are used to inform the practical.

First Singapore Savings Bonds

$1.2 billion worth of bonds were offered to the public but in the end only $413 million were taken up. What a shame. I had hoped people had shown more return/risk cleverness and picked up everything. The very rich would have happily put some of their cash in this if there were no $100K limit. This is way too small to interest them. As for the common man, this is really a gift and they just don't get it or perhaps even know about it. Then there must be many financial advisers which would discourage them. The ordinary guy is so vulnerable in
after himself financially.

Update: Sep 29 9:15pm

E-book revolution thwarted

This is no longer a surprise. I have seen the numbers, e-readers sales were falling. I am not in the business so I don't really care but I have been reading almost exclusively e-books since my Kindle. However I noticed my nephew always insisted on reading a physical book. Then I discover there are lots of people like him. I also recall with fondness how Captain Picard would often read hard bound books in his office on the starship Enterprise. Those were early indicators that e-books will not conquer paper books.

The two will coexist perhaps forever. Real books beyond hosting content also tell us who we are. Hold them in your hands and feel your identity. For now, it is really hard to imagine an e-book reader, smart phone or tablet doing that.

For me I have no time to be sentimental about how books come. I have to be practical.

Friday, September 25, 2015

Added two Galaxy Tab 3V

Finally picked up from Samsung at Marina Square yesterday two Galaxy Tab 3V tablets. They are freebies from buying two S6 for the children.

We have too many hand held gadgets at home!

5 iPads
2 iPhones
3 Galaxy S3s
2 Galaxy S6s
1 Galaxy Note 4
1 Asus ZenFone 6
1 Asus Memopad 7
2 Galaxy Tab S 10.5
1 Galaxy Tab S 8.4
1 iTouch
1 Kindle Fire
3 Kindles
3 Kobo readers

and now 2 Galaxy Tab 3Vs making a total of 28 functioning devices. More if I add those that are no longer working. I think this is crazy but I also have this nagging feeling we aren't exceptional. No wonder the makers are having a really hard time selling Tablets.

Haze Elimination Action Team (HEAT)

This is excellent. An initiative outside government has unique strengths and possibilities that can be brought to bear on this problem. At some point governments can get involved.

Nasty and health damaging as it is, this haze problem can be solved if given enough time. We might not have the satisfaction of seeing big companies severely punished, something which would give us immense satisfaction but I am confident eventually we will be rid of it.

Kudos to Shanmugan for his public statement.
The Indonesian government has said that it is taking steps to deal with the problem. We hope those steps will lead to lasting outcomes, and we are prepared with work with Indonesia on this.
Yet at the same time, we are hearing some shocking statements made, at senior levels, from Indonesia, with a complete disregard for our people, and their own – PSI levels in parts of Indonesia are at almost 2,000 (PSI above 350 is considered hazardous in Indonesia).
How is it possible for senior people in government to issue such statements, without any regard for their people, or ours, and without any embarrassment, or sense of responsibility?

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Lee Hsien Yang: Grant my father his last wish

Lee Hsien Yang was very eloquent persuading Singaporeans to grant LKY his wishes to have his house demolished. I wonder if any can be more eloquent than that.

This is a shrewd family and I can sense the outline of their plan and they are really trying the best to have LKY last wish carried out.

Remember, "He did not ask many things of Singaporeans.." a very nicely put way of saying the unspoken, "look at how much we owed him!" How could you say no to something as basic as his will over his own abode.

The Oxley house if it remains would become a distraction to what is truly important. It would be like those who have forgotten their God, praying to its idol image than to the true power behind that representation.

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Indranee: Selling the Population White Paper

That white paper was never mentioned at this Poly forum which Indranee Rajah spoke to. I just simply bring to the fore what must be on the minds of many especially those who read the story from the local media. Poly students mostly worry about the next steps, e.g., a university education.

If the government think this is a balancing act they will discover the balance the people want is impossible to achieve. I like to make this simple by using the family as a proxy.

Should both parents work or one stay at home to look after the kids? You want to have your cake and eat it? Hire a foreign domestic worker (FDW). Cannot get the balance right for you? Blame the government, society or just others whom you feel made it impossible for you to succeed.

We need to re-frame this issue beyond economic terms. Tan Chuan Jin gets it when he said it is always about who and what we are. But will this feature in the policies coming out is another matter and what truly matters to get public support.

We cannot solve every problem we can identify looming ahead of us (declining and ageing population). Neither can we see the future clearly. Come on, when I plan our holidays I can't see what we will face clearly enough either even when we visit America, the place where there is an overload of information about. Then we arrive in America and just by being there I begin to very quickly said to myself, "Had I known...I would have done this differently".

We have future problems which the social and political costs are too high to countenance. Recall the ill fated Graduate Mother Scheme. Like they say what is the use of getting to the future if you arrive dead? This is the acid test for any plan the government must consider before agreeing to it. On this the PWP is still born.

Yes, a responsible government must try its best to fashion solutions to our future problems but sometimes they have to learn to stop being clever and start being wise. Especially those problems which LKY was not able to overcome. Keep trying, don't give up but also be prepared to fail selling some of these necessary solutions to the people.

If we solve every problem ahead of time, life loses its meaning. Such boredom can create circumstances which cause a society to self destruct. It can take any of several forms, too many to enumerate all here. We are likely to become a risk adverse people as a result with a small minority of entrepreneurial risk takers finding it increasingly untenable to remain. Were we a large and confident empire the path would likely be modern day version of Roman bread and circus. A scenario of smart society with no courage (later day Venice); another scenario of people who never worry about tomorrow because they are so big, powerful and rich. Many in betweens I am not working out.

I am a swing voter. So is everyone at home.

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Chan Heng Chee: Swing voters will do the talking

I just sped through Yeoh Lam Keong analysis of the GE at Mothership. Appreciate him using devices from economics and so kept it short. Next I read Chan Heng Chee's take and this is the most useful beside what Tharman had said.

Prof Chan is most practical as she cast her sight to the future. She is also humble to point out that the most accurate prediction of results for this election did not come from any experts but a taxi driver. I think it is because he was fairly representative within a standard deviation (SD) or so of most voters. Never imagine too much if you can simply get the situation or facts from asking. Then the task becomes much simpler. You only need to find people within that one SD to get a fair idea. Indeed she brought humble pie to the office.

In 2011 many of us in blogs and social media warned the PAP that we have stopped talking to them because they were death. The only thing they ever understand is talking with our votes. Many of those voters are not dead. Of course their votes also talked in 2015. The big difference this time is that they are quieter and more private. It is hard to know a black hole in space unless its gravitational effects can be observed. That is what observers had to deal with this time. So I blogged that if you are honest, the facts declare that it is impossible to know ahead the outcome of this election. The most you can get to were three possible outcomes and none of them is a freak election result. In the end it was by a stroke of luck WP retained Aljunied GRC. Low Thia Khiang in private must have exclaimed, "Heng Ah" and he is one of the smartest politicians around.

With strong hints, prof Chan is basically stating the obvious that from now on each election is a risky election. If I may add it is risky to the PAP only when people are vocal with their unhappiness with the government and safe if they are relatively quiet. So the PAP and voters at large have some early indicator of what to expect. Now politics is fluid and this method of looking ahead is probably good for only two more elections at most. In fact the outcome of every election have to be studied independently for new insights.

The next Presidential Elections would occur before the next GE. All political parties will have a field day learning from that experience. Like the GE, the PE has been changed forever.

Talk to my vote means the PAP will try really hard to talk to us even when we don't feel like talking. They will always wonder if they have listened hard enough, listened correctly. Time to hear more and think less. Admin officers should come to work more often in polos than shirt sleeves or dresses. The next transport minister at the very least must ride the trains and buses very often.

Connect, communicate and be more courageous. We shall see what courage you have over the Population White Paper. Life is not about solving every problem until you have no worries. Don't be smart, be wise instead. Some problems must be lived with than solved successfully.

Malaysia: Disturbing developments in religion

Look at how Islam is developing in Malaysia. If their trajectory do not shift I wonder how we are going to live with them eventually. Would some Malaysian Malays, the most achieving ones like this 18-year-old eventually opt to be PRs here? It is a far fetched idea now and they love their country. Bear in mind everyone has their limits. This is clearly so in a tragic manner for so many in Syria trying to flee their country.

It was only a few months ago there was a public uproar over there of their gold medal winning gymnast exposing her aurat. Now this and you wonder who and what next.

At least I hope Johor won't even if the rest of Malaysia save Penang decide to turn back to the Middle Ages.

Friday, September 18, 2015

Fleeting ecumenical thoughts

Just saw this by Tan Cheng Bock and I was thinking to myself, doubtful the Christian community here have the self confidence to do something equivalent with another faith. Nevertheless one church had: New Creation Church (NCC), even as far back as 2013.

They sang a duet together, Christian and Taoist leaders.

I didn't know until the PM at JDOP said in his speech is going to attend another function hosted by NCC and the Taoist Federation at the Star Performing Arts Theatre. PM must be dropping a bomb size hint of what he hope to see among more Christians eh?

Putting one and one together, I think NCC isn't part of Lawrence Khong's Love Singapore. NCC is far more ecumenical.

Update: 10:35pm

Found the useful Part 1

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Reckless "Red Shirts" in Malaysia

So this is the meaning of "Red Shirts" on the streets of Malaysia teaching other races to "behave themselves"? Do they know how reckless they are? Are they trying to reprise the 1969 riots? Most victims were Chinese. Will their police use this video evidence and arrest this cleaver wielding idiot? But how would that help except to stoke even more anger. I wonder if this bad genie is already out the lamp. As this was going IGP is away in Mecca and Najib in Kota Kinabalu.

Update: 9:10 pm

Johor's Sultan issues warning to racists monkeys out there.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Microsoft All-in-One Media Keyboard

The left shift key on my Arc Keyboard won't work most of the time. I cannot afford the time to work around it by using the right shift or striking the Caps Lock twice. So we went to buy a replacement today: The All-in-One Media keyboard. Cost me $49.90 before 5% discount.

This second Arc Keyboard was a disappointment. Didn't even last two years. This blog informed that I bought in January last year.

The Arc is still available but at a richer price of $79 versus $49 I paid then.

Disability Sensitivity Training

There are many things on my mind right now and I don't feel the best after a horrid call to OCBC Card Centre. Looks like they are only tolerating this part of the bank's business. I have noticed they have been paying less and less attention to such businesses and giving it away to other banks. Let's just summarize and stop here that I had a bad and stupid encounter with them on the phone. They had insisted on me activating my card when online when in reality the bank haven't even mail me the cards (I only learned that on that call). Meanwhile I can't see how much I owe them and pay my bill which I regularly do this time every month. Now to the reason for this blog when I need to be doing so many other things.

People come first. I just got this from my sis and I know if I KIV it, I will never make time for this.

The clip was kind of cute but I won't remember much of it except the awkward beginning. My only take away is disabled people are first and foremost people. When in doubt just ask like you would ask any normal person. So I will not just ask but specifically how they want me to help. More likely I would say I would like to help but please tell me if there is a better way.

Monday, September 14, 2015

Haze: Getting the facts right

Just read Today Online reprint of Dr. Erik Meijaard commentary on the haze scourge which was frist published in the Jakarta Globe.

According to him claiming that he knows the facts well the big companies weren't directly responsible. Small and medium farmers are mainly responsible.

Below is a comment I thought shed further light to the economic equation of the haze.

My read of the newspaper commentary and Chandra Hie's comment is leading me think that our laws against trans boundary pollution might not have sufficient bite, but then I am not familiar with the details and provisions in that law.

Sunday, September 13, 2015

GE 2015: Who was out of touch?

During the hustings, a friend sent me the following. He didn't realized what he got were GE estimated betting outcomes, likely used by bookies to guide their bets.

I took a quick look, paying special attention to East Coast GRC.

Radin Mas SMC: PAP-67.2%, RP-31.2%, Independent-1.6% (PAP wins)
Bukit Batok SMC: PAP-62.9%, SDP-36.9%, Independent-0.2% (PAP wins)
MacPherson SMC: PAP-59.3%, WP-39.6%, NSP-1.1% (PAP wins)
Ang Mo Kio GRC: PAP-79.4%, RP-20.6% (PAP wins)
Aljunied GRC: WP-60.9%, PAP-39.1% (WP wins)
Sembawang GRC: PAP-58.4%, NSP-41.6% (PAP wins)
Bishan- Toa Payoh GRC: PAP-60.6%, SPP-39.4% (PAP wins)
Pasir Ris -Punggol GRC: PAP-77.4%, SDA-22.6% (PAP wins)
Hong Kah North SMC: PAP-61.3%, SPP-38.7% (PAP wins)
Bukit Panjang SMC: PAP-65.1%, SDP-34.9% (PAP wins)
Fengshan SMC: PAP-45.8%, WP-54.2% (WP wins)
Hougang SMC: WP-65.4%, PAP-34.6% (WP wins)
Mountbatten SMC: PAP-56.4%, SPP-43.6% (PAP wins)
Pioneer SMC: PAP-67.6%, NSP-32.4% (PAP wins)
Potong Pasir SMC: PAP-45.1%, SPP-54.9% (SPP wins)
Punggol East SMC: WP-66.9%, PAP-33.1% (WP wins)
Sengkang West SMC: PAP-45.8%, WP-54.2% (WP wins)
Yuhua SMC: PAP-63.9%, SDP-36.1% (PAP wins)
Jurong GRC: PAP-68.7%, SingFirst-31.3% (PAP wins)
Marine Parade GRC: PAP-54.2%, WP-45.8% (PAP wins)
Nee Soon GRC: PAP-60.3%, WP-39.7% (PAP wins)
Tampines GRC: PAP-74.4%, NSP-25.6% (PAP wins)
Tanjong Pagar GRC: PAP-61.2%, SingFirst-38.8% (PAP wins)
Chua Chu Kang GRC: PAP-71.8%, PPP-28.2% (PAP wins)
East Coast GRC: PAP-46.2%, WP-53.8% (WP wins)
Holland-Bukit Timah GRC: PAP-58.7%, SDP-41.3% (PAP wins)
West Coast GRC: PAP-68.6%, RP-31.4% (PAP wins)
Marsiling-Yew Tee GRC: PAP-70.2%, SDP-29.8% (PAP wins)
Jalan Besar GRC: PAP-58.1%, WP-41.9% (PAP wins)

OK, then I looked at Aljunied GRC and decided this cannot be given AHPETC finances must have persuaded some (who knows how many) to go over to the PAP but is not likely to cause those who voted PAP in 2011 to move to WP as such types would already have (those upset with PAP bullying tactics). Taking into consideration that the PAP had tried to listen to the ground and make amends in the last four years to suggest an increase vote count for WP in Aljunied GRC was irrational. I didn't look at the list again as by then I was wondering if it was even some fabrication. 

I saw the above today and wondered if Lim Swee Say and his comrades also had a similar list as I had received. 

Now I would like to record my thoughts on what might have happened. 

1. I didn't believe in a freak election outcome because the majority of oppo candidates from non-WP parties will not get enough support. 

2. I saw three scenarios like a sort of three-sided dice. (a) WP could gain further ground; (b) The PAP could achieve a landslide and finally (c) Looks like the outcome in 2011 but with a popular vote between 60 to 65% going to the PAP. That was what I prefer. I don't know what was likely. It was honestly impossible to tell even if you are very close to the ground. I was surprised at how cocksure some people were. Of course these are mostly the oppo supporters especially the WP. 

Related post: Vote PAP or Oppo?

LSS was right and wise to focus on what's right. I heard bits of his rally speeches and I felt in my gut that is the way to tell your story. Matters like these you cannot simply think, you have to feel as well. 

Who was out of touch? Everyone was out of touch but everyone was in touch with himself or herself and voted accordingly. Intelligent and informed they voted well. Never mind it was my feared 70% How the PAP responded in triumph had lessen my worry about them becoming arrogant. 

An important reason why it was impossible to predict which face will turn up in this 3-faced dice is that in this election people were far less emotional and more rational. When they felt strongly they expressed themselves stridently and you kind of know how they will vote. On the other hand when they are calm they want to keep their votes secret. Most were  acting in this way and it was quite clear to me. In 2011 many more friends were telling me how they would vote but not this time. 

Those who thought they knew the outcome of this election thought too highly of they powers of analysis. It was just not possible to get beyond pinning down three possible outcomes. 

GE 2015: More than WP has no money

The WP MPs in the picture were probably riding in a loaned pick up. On other hand the PAP came by this morning in Hippo buses. My children told me about it, I didn't bother to go to the window to look. What's the attraction especially when I have so many things to do.

Foreign workers ferried to work in vehicles like this must have been amused, especially the cleaning workers in AHPETC (to be AHTC soon eh) seeing their top bosses humility.

However I think in 2015 such humility no longer attracts. The focus has always been on the PAP. The Opposition including WP never understood it was what the PAP had done or failed to do which caused voters to turn to them. As long the the PAP succeeds at removing those excuses, voters will naturally return to the PAP. This is as basic as parents failing to give enough attention to their children, who then turned to others to fill that void. If the parents act quickly before the kids strengthen their bonds with lesser alternatives, the family situation will be restored.

The WP mistook their die hard fans to be representative of many voters. Tens of thousands must multiply by a factor of at least then before that can count as true. Likewise the poor turnout at PAP rallies also suggested that voters do not buy brands but performance. Consider how Filipinos vote, we do the opposite; unemotional, thoughtful, careful and realistic.

I said so speaking for myself. What I can't tell and didn't bother to find out is how many also feel the same. Unlike 2011, I don't have many people complaining to me about the PAP. In fact I have to go online to read about them.

So WP must not complain that they were disadvantaged underdogs. The PAP earlier failure presented them with a golden opportunity which the failed to capitalize. Had they performed, municipal accounting issues wouldn't have mattered. For everyone who felt that WP lacks integrity probably another one could be found for feeling angry because he strongly suspect the PAP were fixing them.

To win the right to govern Singapore, one must overcome the greatest odds because once in office they will realize the challenges are as great or even greater. For all our sake we cannot make it easier for the Opposition. This is just a hard truth for us. Sylvia Lim responding to the media has simply failed to draw the right lessons from their razor thin victory.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

More car accidents in our future?

Is our city on the list toward more car accidents because of an increase in texting and driving. I always suspected the driver who rear ended my car a couple of years ago was on her phone.

We have passed new laws to be stricter with hand phone when driving but as far as I can tell life continue like before and I am among the minority of drivers with a phone mount.

Chinese military madness

I first read about this at Nanfang. For a while I was wondering if it was just some silly satire piece of the Chinese military attacking US carrier forces and an island. It has this inane idea of promoting peace through war. I thought to myself how could the Chinese be so stupid. Here is the video. There were 600,000 view when I first viewed it. It is way past a million now.

I decided to make this into a blog post when Yahoo news also carried this story.

Less we forget, Singapore also host the US Navy and the Chinese could under the most unfortunate circumstance make us a target as well.

I don't know what the Chinese hope to gain from all these. What did they see in Sun Zi which nobody else seem to be able to see? It is easier to explain this as plain stupidity and hubris.

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

GE 2015: Vote PAP or Oppo?

Facebook was the social media phenomena back in GE 2011. This time round I am too busy to read most of what Facebook carried to me. In GE 2015 it is Whatsapp that is getting my attention. I just wrote the following to my friends. As usual there are pro and anti PAP camps. This is my suggestion to them.

Not everyone should vote PAP. Singaporeans should understand the unique situation we are in and act accordingly. I would be alarmed (not just worried) if the PAP gets 70% of the popular vote. If they have more than 65% I would be worried. The sweet spot is about 60%. I think this is the support that would stop them from behaving like dictators and listen to the ground carefully. 

If you are hard done by the PAP policies you should vote against them. If you are doing well by their policies but somehow feel that it was not right and empathize with those who suffered from those policies, you should vote against them according to your conscience. 

Your vote is your right and to be respected. Just be thankful you have a chance to vote. Non PAP candidates make even bigger sacrifices to offer you that choice. Nevertheless don't create a freak result, neither give the PAP more than 65% support. But never worry about a freak outcome either. Make calm estimates and go with it. Leave it to the PAP to worry because it is sad to live in fear. You might as well not be a Singaporean than to live afraid all the time.

Before responding to my Whatsapp chat, I caught the summary from ST.

Khaw is a shrewed politician. See how ST reported him, especially the red underlines.

Khaw apologized for hurting the rice bowls of housing agents. He cannot turn water into wine, much less feed thousands with a few loaves of bread and fishes. He made a painful trade off. He wanted to publicly record that he knows their pain and that this will not last forever. Well he sort of gently remind them that they had it good earlier on. In this sense housing agents that join the game late didn't get the chance to feast in order to survive the famine. That's life.

Many housing agents wouldn't vote PAP but some might be persuaded.

This is our system. If you want to be happy here try to find your way to be with the majority because policies are always designed to win elections that way. This is not America which is unique in a totally different way from us. Theirs is a "tyranny of the minority" and nothing gets done unless compromise is struck. We are more like the British with the "tyranny of the majority" but the Brits are also markedly and so materially different from us because they have a much freer media. That changes everything.

Update: 7:30 am

What a coincidence of timing! Well we have come to expect such words from them every GE. At least as far as I know there aren't any words from the Oppo telling us not to worry or be afraid of voting for them. Correction: I just read them after posting this update.

Sunday, September 6, 2015

Idealism vs Realism: Chee vs Tharman

Tonight on the recommendation of others I sat through a speech by Tharman and then by Chee Soon Juan.

Tharman's speech on how to pay our way is completely rational and doable. I detect among many they want the PAP government to do even better. Some, but I don't know how many want their cake and eat it. This is not possible.

Dr. Chee is an impressive speaker. By the time I sat down for his speech it had already been viewed 213,000 times.

The man has matured, less of a firebrand and wiser with the years of deprivations he had endured.

In contrast to Tharman, Chee appeals to your heart and the common disaffections people might have with the PAP government. To me the SDP is too idealistic and would appeal more to those who have limited experience of making a living, i.e., those just turned 21 voters, many of whom are still in school. I don't think those ideals can be realized without a very rich endowment of natural resources and innovative human talent. We have only half of what is needed.

To be practical there is no need to worry about SDP policies being implemented. A few of them in opposition would press the PAP to pay a lot more attention to psycho social impact of government policies. There is no need to be unnecessarily brutal in order to build a rugged and resilient society.

Personally I still feel that Chee has to be more convincing that he had learnt the mistakes of the past. New voters were too young to know or understand his past duplicity and he seemed to have taken advantage of time and fading memories to avoid dealing with the very important issue of integrity. I wonder how many would like to support him if he only deal with those issues better.

Update: Sep 7 12:55pm

Ho Ching shared this at her Facebook page hours ago.

Ever wondered how SG remains a top rated triple-A credit country?
There are only about a dozen triple-A rated countries around the world.
Amongst these, SG is the only one in Asia, and also a rare one with no oil or natural resources, unlike Norway, Australia or Canada.
So how did SG do it?
One key reason is the strict financial discipline and prudent saving for the future in government budgetting and spending.
Few remember that when the PAP won their elections to form our first self govt in 1959, they inherited a budget which was in deficit and the year was about half over.
Together, the new government cut government salaries and allowances, including their own, shelved projects in the remaining few months, and managed to close the year in a small surplus.
Such was their determination not to be owing money, or borrowing money to spend, right from the start.
This set the tone for subsequent SG governments, always to live within their means and never spending wastefully or frivolously.
When PM Lee Kuan Yew was preparing to pass the baton some 25 years ago, he worried that future governments may not be as disciplined or financially careful.
And so the SG Constitution was amended in 1991 to require each successive government to live within its means, spending only what they have earned during their term of office.
Past reserves saved up by previous generations and governments before the most recent general elections are to be locked up. Any spending from such past reserves would be subject to the approval of the Singapore President.
Do you know we also lock up proceeds from land sales as past reserves?
Land is not only limited in island SG, barely bigger than Lake Tahoe in California. Land is also our common heritage asset and inheritance, belonging to past, present and future generations of Singaporeans.
Most if not all other governments in the world treat land sale proceeds as revenues to be spent. These include island economies like Hong Kong as well as larger countries with large land mass. IMF also treats land sales as part of government revenue for spending.
We in SG treat land sale monies like some prudent countries treat their oil revenues - a heritage asset transformed from one physical form (oil or, in SG's case, land) to a financial form (funds), and save them up in their sovereign wealth funds.
But should we completely lock up our past reserves and not use them at all?
This is like grandpa saving in a long term savings and investment account and protecting the original amount and any interest for his grandchildren. And now the kids are deciding whether to also save all of the current interests earned and keep that for their own grandchildren yet unborn, or to spend part of the current year's interest earned, and use that for present spending for themselves and their parents or children each year.
Under the SG Constitution, up to half of the returns from investing past reserves may be used for current government spending. This would include interests earned from investing in bonds.
In other words, we lock up the principal amount of past reserves, including from land sales, and try to continue saving part of the investment returns for future generations, and spend a part of the earnings and returns for the present generation.
This is a way to have a fair sharing between generations, past, present and future, from the hard earned reserves.
MAS, GIC and Temasek too, as three of the key financial institutions of Singapore, were also required under the same 1991 Constitution amendment to each protect its own past reserves.
MAS, GIC and Temasek are key contributors to the Singov budget through the returns earned on our investments.
Last year, the returns from these financial institutions and other investments, such as interest from bonds, totalled S$8.6 billion.
This helped to fund the S$8 billion put aside for Pioneer Generation Package announced by Singov the previous year. This PG package will cover healthcare benefits our Pioneers for the rest of their lives.
It is very fitting that the returns from past savings and reserves are used this way to provide for our Pioneer Generation.
It also gives meaning to those of us working in these institutions, past and present as well as future.

Saturday, September 5, 2015

GE 2015: Reminder, we need Oppo MPs

I am busy and tired. Three days ago I caught this article from the NYT about China preparing for their giant parade celebrating the 70th anniversary of the end of WWII. I quote from there as follows:

On Wednesday, the police began imposing widespread restrictions to prevent ordinary Chinese from viewing the festivities in person. City residents have been told to watch the parade on state television. Tiananmen Square and the Forbidden City have been closed since Aug. 22, frustrating many tourists.

Managers of apartment buildings along the wide avenue leading to the square ordered residents not to welcome visitors, open their windows, stand at balconies or take photographs. Closings across the city wereso widespread that many hospitals said they were shutting down non emergency services.

The Chinese government is well known for their draconian ways. The state is far more important than its people. Now if they were a democracy the people will never accept this, but as a democracy they will have other very challenging problems I am worried if they can successfully overcome. Just look across the straits to Taiwan for what you can reasonably expect. In lesser ways the PAP government is also like the CCP until it backfired on them on pain of losing votes.

I just blogged about my disappointment with the WP. They are the foremost opposition party. Looks like we have to wait longer for an alternative superior to the WP to emerge. I do not know how it will come about except that there must be a deep desire for this, and that it will be spearheaded by the young. Perhaps some of the brightest among the young will split from the WP to form a better and more honest party? Only time will tell.

I have confidence in Singaporeans. As a people like everywhere we are an disorganized bunch of energy and intelligence from which we must throw up leaders who an organize and lead us.

GE 2015: Doing my homework on the WP

This GE comes at the wrong time for me. I am really busy now but I had also promised myself many times that I would do my homework and think through who deserves my support come this elections.

In several blog posts I have wondered aloud if the WP had done wrong by their constituents in AHPETC then why didn't the CAD or CPIB go in, investigate and charge them. I was pretty upset with the PAP for trading accusations with WP and no action. I was even more upset when MND decided to withhold funds designated for AHPETC. I thought the WP was done for, they were going to run out of money to pay for TC services.

So I started digging and investigating, I retrieved the published judgement of Justice Quentin Loh and read it for myself.

I learned that the Town Council Act was designed for voters to take full responsibility for whoever they had voted to be their MPs. The government have no legal recourse to step in and take over the town council management until it is too late. In fact if the MPs were dishonest it is pretty easy to monkey around in countless ways depending on how good you are at hiding nefarious activities. So this was how Justice Loh recorded his displeasure when he delivered in judgement. I found on page 80 the following.

Very simple, had AHPETC not constituted under the town council act but say a condominium estate, the WP is in a pickle now. And below was how the judge described Sylvia Lim on page 78.

I want to see some opposition MPs in parliament but they must have more integrity than this. People must distinguish between the appearance of running a town council well from one that only appear so and is not sustainable but decaying on the inside. Unfortunately this is also the situation in many countries. I am glad the WP is not going to form the government by a very long shot.

What else is there to find out? Might end up revisiting the AIM saga in more detail eventually.

Replacing wifey's mug

We used to get our double wall mugs from either Takashimaya or J. Little but no luck this time. I decided to try Qoo10 instead and ordered this double walled mug for wifey only three days ago. They delivered it last night, i.e, second day after I ordered. I am impressed. Well the shipping cost $4.50 for local delivery, not exactly cheap.

Paid $19.90 for the mug. Let's see how long this one can last.

Upgraded the children's phones

Upgraded the children Galaxy S3s yesterday after almost three years to the Galaxy S6

Paid $608 each for the 64GB model. Decided to switch from Redpac to Combo 2 after Singtel sent us letters offering 40% off the monthly subscription with free Caller ID as well.

Comex purchases

Some of our purchases at Comex on Thursday.

$199 a Sound Blaster Roar for wifey after our very old Zen Xi-Fi cum its bespoke speakers suddenly stopped working. Yes, I would need this post to help me retrieve a photo shot of the receipt if I ever need to make any warranty claim. I think that is unlikely.

Paid $20 for this Cooler Master to keep our old router cool. The daughter has been using the same model for more than a year now with no problems. I am using a different model and yet another one serves to keep the ONT cool.

My Notebook PC is more than 3 years old and it works flawlessly. I believe keeping it cool helps.

Finally we spent $10 at Xiaomi booth for a LED lamp and two cute fans for the daughters. All these to be used with our powerbanks.

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

My spending differs from CPI trend

It wasn't very long ago that Set B was $5.70 then it became $6.10 and soon after it jumped to $6.40.

Just as well I don't have Tori Q that often. KFC prices have also gone up too. A medium whipped potato that the daughter is fond of has gone up 20 cents to $3.10

So much for headline CPI numbers suggesting disinflation. I wonder how many live that life and if the majority have my sort of spending. I haven't discuss the prices at the coffee shop and hawker centre. Without a picture to use those stories are not so interesting to tell. Prices have also gone up!

Switching to Baker Talent

Thanks to Bread Talk fiasco over their freshly made soya milk, I got to learn about Baker Talent when netizens recommend them over Bread Talk.

We bought a few buns from them to try yesterday and I must say they are good as well as good value for money. Wifey especially liked the yam bun.

YouTube Clip on Chee Soon Juan's family

I sat through 18 mins of this and what a beautiful family this is. Of course you can't fail to recognize that life hadn't been easy for them either.

There are many sides to a person. The PAP will paint Dr. Chee black with the happenings in the past. It is up to Dr. Chee how he wants to respond and persuade voters to back him.

Anyway materially they may not be well off but in every other way they are blessed and that is what make them stand out and how they would like to remember and cherish themselves. We are just busybodies.

This guy never gives up and he is absolutely fortunate his family stood by him all these years. Now who is Chee Soon Juan? Whoever and whatever, I need to find out as best as possible. Overall we are better off because some of them were willing to stand on the other side and give us a choice.

Update: 8:50pm

A former classmate just posted this on his Facebook wall. I know Five Stars and Moon is a PAP friendly site.  Now that Dr. Chee is standing for elections, I am sure there will be lots of info about him resurfacing and refreshing about memories regarding the relevant historical facts. We shall see.

GE 2015: Lawrence Wong says it need not be white

Truly looks like the PAP is campaigning differently from any time in the past.

On a televised debate which I had not time for last night, Lawrence Wong suggested may the best person get into parliament. Such people need not come from the PAP. This is a departure from the past. Then they believed PAP had the best and all others were inferior to them.

The talent pool in Singapore has grown much bigger and it was only a matter of time some good people who thought differently from the PAP and want to offer themselves as alternatives. This is good.

Of course Lawrence Wong also took the opportunity to reopen Dr. Chee past especially with respect to him going before the Select Committee but this is not what I am as interested in. Dr. Chee needn't need to explain himself to Lawrence Wong but he has to do that to us voters. He could do that anytime before we cast our votes. Never mind if anyone feels Steve Chia could have given him more airtime. That was only September 1. Many more days yet to tell your story.

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Ng Eng Hen: "Even if you jeer against us, we will improve your lives"

This was quite unexpected: "Even if you jeer against us, we will improve your lives"

I like it even if it comes from a minister I do not like. Yes, you work for those who support and also do not support you. You fight to win and if you do, you serve all your constituents. It has taken many years for them to finally mature.

I would like to see more of the same attitude in this elections.

Update: 8:05 pm

Yes this is playing it right. This is what we would like to see here. Story by ST.

Recall how our marathoner Ashley Liew in the recent SEA games also waited for his fellow competitors when they took the wrong turn. That is the spirit.

GE 2015: Getting that 5% to cross over

I was chatting with an accountant friend yesterday. He had messaged me about the coming GE and I had tried to learn what is going on with AHPETC financials from him.

WP is a mess when it comes to making sure the TC finances are in order. We cannot understand why they couldn't hire a competent finance manager to make sure everything was in order. Is it true that what residents do not see the WP is less on the ball? But this is also true with the PAP. It is true everywhere. No wonder the Bible also warned us to be diligent even if the boss isn't watching because God is. Sadly the fear of God is uncommon these days. People do what they want as long as they are confident of not getting caught. I think it is only a matter of time.

One is a kettle and the other is a pot. Nobody calls you black if you refrain from judging each other.

To cut the very long chat short I finally suggested to him perhaps all the PAP want is to swing at least 5% of the votes in Aljunied toward the PAP this round. Just get the WP heavy weights out of parliament is good enough. As long as the PAP is not afraid of losing power they are also unafraid of bullying others. They have to judge the trade offs to be a net positive and determine the balancing point of not bullying too much and making WP look bad enough to gain that 5%. PAP must be pleased that all 89 seats are likely to be contested. The fear factor among voters of a freak outcome is much higher.

Here is the dilemma: if we have more opposition members in parliament the PAP spend less time in governance and more time in politics, it is more sensitive to voters' sentiment but will also trade off the long term for the immediate. If we have very few opposition MPs then the PAP becomes arrogant and will drop "With you, for you" and only keep "For Singapore" That is just the politically sweet way of saying the government will serve the interests of the elites from which it gets the revenue to fund programs for the middle ground and the poor. This is something they are still perplexed why people are unhappy - make the rich richer so that we have money for everyone. That is because they have a very narrow concept of living and humanity! This is translated from us to them that they are out of touch and out of reach elites.