Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Singapore left out of China's OBOR?

This is not the best way to post this but I have no time.

Relevant links.

China Frictions May See Singapore Miss Out on Belt-Road Billions

Common interest of Singapore and China greater than any difference of views: DPM Teo Chee Hean

My response borrowing heavily from Leo Suryadinata, 'The Rise of China and The Chinese Overseas"

Click on pic to enlarge. 

Update: May 25 7:40 pm

Just like the suppliers selling gear to gold prospectors. We make money regardless if they find gold. I don't think there is gold.

Manchester: Targeting children

Taken from the front page.

Your hate will make you strong. Satisfy your urge for revenge. Give in to your anger. Strong is the Dark Side, do not resist its seduction.

ISIS saw how Trump shot 59 Tomahawks in response to Assad nerve gassing children. Targeting kids is their priority now.

We must resist this thirst for revenge and only pursue justice. Not a bad idea to review and update the laws on this especially to discourage more such acts.

We resist the Dark Side and seek the better angels of ourselves. May God help us.

Boom and Bust in personal road transport

Saw this early this morning and Whatsapp an old friend about it:

About a month or so ago, I shocked to see so many cars drove up to the foyer at Jcube who were Uber or Grab hires. This morning ST report helps to quantify their presence. At the personal level how is this affecting you?

Crazy. Looks like they grossly over expanded. Drivers are going to suffer. Commuters short term joy could turn into tears later. They have brought the logic of boom and bust to this segment of the transport market.

We are no good at doing road transport here isn't it? We keep trying. Sometimes we succeed but the success doesn't last long. 

Meanwhile I just got a response from my friend: "Honestly I don't bother"

And my response: "I like your attitude! Take care as competition looks fierce."

Monday, May 22, 2017

Finally a decent speech from Trump

Absent the usual divisiveness and now emphasis on unity and inclusiveness except for identifying Iran as the enemy, which there is abundant evidence that they are trouble makers.

Read his speech on his Facebook page.

Update: May 24 5:20 am

There are two ways to look at this. Trump was duplicitous and no doubt he regularly is. He had an education on Islam, I am open minded enough to accept that possibility. Nevertheless the man is unfit to be president and possibly the worst president in America's history.

Saturday, May 20, 2017

This fascinated Tharman

I find this completely intriguing that Chess could be addictive enough to lure people away from the bottle and gambling. Only in this Indian village and may be a few more undiscovered ones which have enough in common. It will never work here but it is very useful to understand why it is working there.

The other more important reason for this post is Tharman. I am always curious what goes on in the minds of some of our top leaders. Do I find them surprising or boring. Quite a few are boring but Tharman is always fresh or insightful.

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Mahbubani: West get North Korea wrong

I am tired of reading about North Korean defectors predicting the fall of the their country. Their track record is so poor, I have gone to read up and understand a little better why that ain't happening. These defectors basically wanted to sell books and wrote up their stories basically to achieve that. To be fair to them they believed the North is doomed or they would not have risked their lives running away.

I agree with Mahbubani that the western media get the North more wrong than right but I feared he has done even worse. E.g., there is no such thing as an unbiased point of view. All views must reflect our preference which is not informed by facts but beliefs.

His prescription of helping the North grow economically and secure so that they would give up their nuclear weapons is fantasy. There is simply not enough trust. The North does not even trust China to protect them! Would they trust the Americans? The western media has been far better at selling their views more consistently than Asian intellectuals or media.

It is completely in Singapore's interest that there is no war on the Korean peninsula and that the current debacle can with patience eventually be peacefully resolved. I signed up to that too but I feared the crazy Trump bends more toward violence because to the Americans all peaceful options have failed. The logic of others dead than American lives at risk is a powerful one to attack the North regardless of the consequences as long as America First is preserved.

A peaceful solution is available if China have the ability to guarantee the North's security but that would take a long time and the North would be nuclear armed with ICBMs long before that. Instead I think the Japanese is likely to arm themselves with nuclear weapon eventually. When that happens depends on the US commitment to its security. If the US waver the Japanese will be nuclear ready sooner. Following that South Korea will do the same.

There is no peaceful solution for the peninsula except through nuclear deterrence to maintain an uneasy peace until the social and economic circumstances of North Asia societies are completely different from today.

One Belt, One Road: Show me the money

China offers a free call option with no expiry and many nations signed up. Why not? Problem is where is the money? The Chinese have it but is not showing it. Not yet.

I like the OBOR idea but one has to be realistic as well. Beyond money the Chinese has plenty to catch up before they are able to lead this endeavor. What with so many pressing domestic issues that already consume so much time and energy.

The only thing realistic about OBOR is just one line in the story: He did not give a time frame.

But once you make a big public show of OBOR the clock starts ticking. It is no longer strictly true the Chinese can do as they please any more. You have to keep people expectant and interested or lose credibility.

Saturday, May 13, 2017

Three blind mice

In July last year I decided two mice were better than one. For the past few months I have been using three! Three blind mice. Experience suggest I would stick with two most of the time. In this instance the runt is the blue one. The Arc Mouse was a small miracle. Shortly after I got it problems developed. Fortunately I didn't throw it away as it was so pricey, and now it is working fine.

Three blind mice is the way to go and I work them hard.

New and dangerous attitude toward drugs

I just finished reading this story from Today. One paragraph jumped at me which caused me to make this post.
A 25-year-old woman, who graduated from a local university and works in the media industry, claimed that taking cannabis was just like drinking coffee. “It’s popular among successful entrepreneurs”, she said. While in university, she took cannabis - also known as marijuana or weed - daily before she went for class, and even before examinations.
My daughter sometimes reported to me that some of the students have incredible stamina that she cannot even compare with them. I think I know why and hopefully this is only true for some of them.  The global environment and media attitude toward drugs is getting softer and with that it throws off an aura that drugs are benign.

The threat has changed and now these dangerous stuff is sold with false claims and half truths. Some of these drugs grow on you so slowly you thought it is safe. The only way to discover their danger is when you are trapped.

Update: May 14 7:55 pm

I had wanted especially to share this earlier but it wasn't convenient until now.

His public remark that drug abuse is commonplace was nothing less than sobering. Catch that in the video clip. 

Saboten: When kids eat free

That is what we saw at Saboten in 313 Somerset today when children get to eat free. Don't imagine all of them are locals. I could hear a fair bit of Japanese spoken.

To see toddlers in baby chairs seated in a row was simply too cute to ignore.

Saboten Tonkatsu is really good. We used to go to the one at IMM until one day they inexplicably disappeared.

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Sacking of FBI director James Comey

Full of heat and noise, not much light and sound for many of us who can only afford to follow what is happening cursorily. I trust Ray Dalio and James Comey used to work for him at Bridgewater.

I would not be surprised if the low life Donald Trump is eventually impeached and removed as president. The path leading toward his possible collusion with Russia to win the elections grows clearer over time.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Vesak Day 2561

I have been sending Vesak Day greetings to Buddhist friends for many years now. I think most Christians do not do that. One Christian group, the Campus Crusade for Christ once got into trouble for disparaging the religion. Today they are no longer CCC but Cru.

Whilst Christianity might be represented in the Inter-Religious Organization, I know many Protestant churches are not friendly to other religions. They seek to convert them to Christianity often by telling others they are believing in the wrong things.

Yesterday in one of the Whatsapp chat I participate, someone posted this just for cheeky fun.

This morning being Vesak Day I shared the top most pic with them and then added the following in the Buddhist spirit for the day. 

There is no need and it is just foolish to disparage other people's faith when you can often begin the conversation by identifying and talking from where we overlap. 

Religiosity is growing everywhere, it is time to take stock and ask ourselves how we can best promote peace engagement than provoke each other and risk hostilities. 

I am patient. Easter is over and perhaps at Thanksgiving or Christmas I might pick this up or by then something better would be available to continue the Gospel story for anyone willing to listen. On the other hand Christians are often taught to be impatient and quoting scripture that non believers must be converted ASAP. I am sure they are wrong. They are eager to get people to say the Sinner's Prayer instead of showing people our path to a new hope and beginning that is good for eternity. The accumulation of that praying the Sinner's Prayer is to end up with uncountable nominal Christians and losing sight of Jesus Christ in the process.

Testing the ZenFone 3 camera

Settings: 1/30s, f/2, 4.04mm ISO 2387

Shot this morning at the Botanic Gardens

Impressive photos from this mid range phone. Quite happy with its performance but I missed having the S-pen of my Note 4.

Sunday, May 7, 2017

Who is most susceptible to fake news

Link to story.

Not in the story but my take for interacting with my Republican American friends is that they are ideological rather than empiricists or pragmatic.

If you are ideologically driven you are also naturally vulnerable to fake news. Anyone who is familiar with your ideology will know how to create false information that fits your beliefs. You would love to read such stuff and your faith in the ideology will deepen - a vicious cycle.

If you are an empiricist then you insist that facts are the most stubborn things and must be respected. It is far harder to monkey with facts to create a false narrative.

Friday, May 5, 2017

For the next ice kacang

I was looking in this blog to discover when was the last time I had ice kacang but found nothing. I think it was more than a year ago. Will it be more than a year before I have this dessert again?

I have always been disciplined with what I eat but with age has become even more disciplined.

South China Sea: Might over Rights

The Chinese have succeeded at softening ASEAN opposition to their claims in the South China Sea. Might has triumphed over rights. If might cannot be resisted, it will be used to create a new legitimacy through revisionism or outright lies. A new set of rights would replace the old set destroyed by might.

This E-book would not convince the Chinese. The population is moved emotionally and not logically.

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Japan: A military time bomb

After decades of not coming to terms with what they have done to Asia during the last war, there is no hope that they ever will. In fact we have every reason to fear that history might repeat itself if Japan gets the permission to arm itself again.

Quoting this chilling bit from the story:

The group firmly believes that Japan is to be applauded for its role in liberating Asia from Western colonialists. 

It also says that issues such as the Nanjing Massacre and “comfort women”, a euphemism for women forced into the sex trade, have been grossly exaggerated, and that the Tokyo War Crimes Trial was illegitimate. 

Denouncing what it terms “humiliating apology diplomacy”, 

Nippon Kaigi says this has brought about a loss of pride and patriotism among a younger generation of Japanese. 

When asked last year about the group’s position on Japan's war aggressions and crushing defeat, Professor Takubo said: “For all countries that have gone to war, each one will have a different View of history. If you want to call that revisionism, I’m all right with that.” 

Monday, May 1, 2017

The last doctor in the family

My brother shared this with us a few days ago. Finally my niece is done with medical school. I was wondering what to do with this pic and then it occurred to me that she would be the first and last doctor in our family. The rest of the kids aren't even interested to become doctors and I agree with my ex classmate when he told me why he discouraged his kids from pursuing medicine.

It is so hard to get into medical school. I have come across several families whose kids wanted to become doctors. Some checked all the right boxes but weren't even called up for the admission interview. Many pursue their doctoring dreams overseas and one even went to China knowing that the qualifications there would not be recognized here.

Oh I just remember my cousin is a pediatrician. In fact she attended to my daughter many years ago in NUH.

Update: May 2, 2:55 pm

Got this from my sister.

A doctor can do a lot of good but that demands you choose one of the less traveled roads. I didn't think my cousin take one of such paths and that is why I almost forget she is also a doctor. 

Bought the Zenfone 3

Reluctantly bought the Zenfone 3 ZE552KL from Red White Mobile today. I can't wait because my Galaxy Note 4 is kaput. The phone set is set to "Safe Mode" if I ever power down and turn on again. The volume rocker which I almost never used was somehow frozen in the volume down position. I hate it when I have to make an unplanned purchase.

Paid $428 for the above. Customer service at the store was not great. They weren't rude, just inflexible and unhelpful. I rather to go KAsia Mobile but they don't carry Asus models at the moment. This Zenfone is a compromise between price and camera features. If the Note 8 comes up with some compelling features I might make the switch but I am not holding out for any surprising breakthrough. Innovation seem to be slowing in smartphones. Improvement are incremental and the top of the line phones are asking for a lot more money so little improvements.

New record high temperature: 30.9 Celsius

The highest temperature record was broken only recently. We have new high today at 30.9 C.

Sunday, April 30, 2017

Wrong about North Korea fears

I was wrong about North Korea missile testing. I had speculated that previously they purposely failed their test in order to avoid an American attack. I risked it because that would be the least worst scenario leading likely to a peaceful resolution. The latest failed missile launch tells me I ought to change my mind.

When I consider something to be 50/50 based on the information I have, the more positive  or less worse outcome would be my bet. Then if the facts proved that I am wrong, I change my mind.

Friday, April 28, 2017

Bicycle sharing

Took that picture off WSJ. They are ofo bicycles awaiting repair in Beijing. The numbers are just mind boggling.

Ofo is here too and I haven't try them yet. Here is a less than laudatory experience I just came across.

As a startup business concept bike sharing is quite hot. As an attractive business proposition, I think there is a lot of improvement needed in the execution and customer service.

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Getting fired is worse than divorce or the death of a spouse

Why Getting Fired Is Worse Than Divorce or the Death of a Spouse. Broken hearts heal. A blotch on the resume is harder to repair went the Bloomberg version of the article which the ST one was taken from.

If so, I think your priorities are totally warped and you are simply pathetic. 

The results of the study is based off the British experience. I hope this is not true here and in this instance the high levels of disengagement at work may not be a bad thing. It is something we need to fix as taken over the long term the economic damage would be serious and intractable.

Monday, April 24, 2017

New record high temperature: 30.8 Celsius

The previous record was 30.7 Then over the last few days I noticed it was hitting 30.7 pretty often. That is the signal that the record would be broken.

Sometime next year we will learn if 2017 is the hottest year ever recorded. I hope not and that it is peculiar only to us, but not one should be surprised that it is.

Sunday, April 23, 2017

The changed drug addiction scene

The drug abuse landscape is becoming like those among the elites in western society.

See CNA story.

and the TV program now available at Toggle.

We have never solved this problem and it also keep changing.

To be realistic we will from the public policy angle make more progress here as a public health issue than a moral one. To drill this down to its core it remains a moral issue. In the program one ex-addict finally gave up his habit for good because of his daughter.

We become what we loved.

All drug addicts are sinners but not all sinners are drug addicts. Every sinner is like a stem cell programmed as a potential drug abuser, adulterer, murderer, thief etc., and if you escape all of the crimes and vices it is hard to avoid the last sin: Pride. You become a hypocrite, more incurable than any of the other conditions.

That is why for society sake, it is more realistic to deal with drug addiction as a public health issue.

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Kong Hee: I am TOTALLY at peace

Pretty typical, trust God when you run out of options. I am not filled with schadenfreude and wished they never did what they had landing them in prison.

They still owe Richard Poon who first called them out an apology. Our laws aren't immoral and it was never necessary to flout them regardless of your motives.

Fortunately you would not succeed like those before to give your religion a bad name. People here are more sophisticated than that. In fact your deplorable example has opened up opportunities for me to explain the Gospel. On the other hand CHC membership would likely decline.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

CHC: Church or Community

I extracted that from Mothership article: Why the media (and Mothership) are mistaken about City Harvest Church-goers. (Click here for her original post and comments)

Amanda Jayne reads like she has not read her Bible or more likely reads but nothing stays inside. Christians might grieve often given what the world is but the need for anger is doesn't come often.

No, CHC is just a community to her and friends which they have mistakenly labeled it as a church. Given that you practically grew up there, the years gone by had done nothing for you in growing to become more Christ like.

And because I made this post, I decided to look up Amanda Jayne Facebook page as well. Not surprised with what I saw.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Explains why Durians are so pricey now

This story explains what we have noticed at Ah Seng Durians. The Chinese are willing to pay much more than anyone else. The prices of durians have gone up a lot. We don't each much of it, so it doesn't matter. Too many people here over eat and in the long run people would be healthier and happier if they switch from live to eat to eat to live. Meaning is more important than pleasure in life. Meaning lasts, pleasures are fleeting. Whoever on their death bed laments that they haven't eaten enough of their favourite food?

Monday, April 17, 2017

Remembering Othman Wok

Tharman put it very well how we could remember Othman Wok.

Other than the former National Stadium I don't remember he leaving anything physical behind. The ideas and its spirit are more important. In a different time, who knows when that spirit Othman Wok possessed and exhibited would be needed again.

Sunday, April 16, 2017

North Korea: Convenient missile failure

The NYT report says, "The missile blew up almost immediately..." I suspect this is a staged failure as a successful launch would surely reveal them to a a paper tiger with costly consequences to them. For the first time the Americans are serious about attacking them. I belonged to the camp that the North's military is decrepit and its threat very grossly exaggerated. 

Update: April 18 9:25 am

The Americans bringing out the big stick with the approaching carrier strike force to negotiate. 

Wanting an agreement quickly from Kim Jong Un and on much tougher conditions than would be have been possible in the past or what Iran got. 

Fat boy is in trouble. 

Update: April 18 9:25 pm

Some very serious miscommunication. 

Update: April 19 9:05 am

​Don't know if this is just a case of suffering the consequence of a commander in chief who only knew how to run a family business without relying on processes or his secretaries being former generals leveraging that and playing Sun Zi. McMaster and Mattis are fully capable of pulling off such tactical stunts as war fighting officers. That is the difference between having civilians and former military people in charge.

See story.

Saturday, April 15, 2017

7th Anniversary of my father's death

Got this from my neighbor and it showed me places of  my late father which I have never been. In fact we were discouraged from visiting but when we brought the kids to Beijing during the Olympics year he thought it was a good idea. He doesn't recommend that we get to know the extended family especially his younger brother whom he had sent money regularly for decades. He regarded him as a leech and useless bump and wanted to protect us from him. This is the seventh year and as far as I know nobody told my uncle that he is gone.

Friday, April 14, 2017

Wary of Consumer Security Innovations

I am always wary of new and more convenient innovations in consumer security technology. Many consumers probably instinctively feel the same and that is why Apple Pay, Samsung Pay and Android Pay are all struggling to make inroads to replacing our credit cards. Now DBS is rolling out soft tokens. They can give me a hundred reasons why that is better but I know the single and most important reason is soft tokens running off our vulnerable smartphones save DBS millions of dollars over giving us hardware security dongles.

It has taken a while but time reveals all truth. Rethink that fingerprint sensor.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Betting pools on Kong Hee and Five

I wonder if people have started betting pools for Kong Hee and five that they would get the sentences the prosecutors had asked for from the beginning. Something like eleven years for him? I can't remember.

I think it is not unrealistic to see betting pools on this one. CHC members who do not know their Bibles will come out and bet for the minimal sentences of the last court. My take is that they will lose big after losing big all these years donating to the church. Sigh! Brain washed!

Monday, April 10, 2017

CHC dirty linen on US TV

I have received many copies of this clip. At least my non Christian friends do not tar me with the same brush they are painting CHC.

CF just posted to say sorry. Guess he had intended it for somewhere else but the point is that this has gone viral. It is actually old news but it carried the sentiment of many and they are passing it around to to tell each other that they felt the same on this issue.

With Ho Yeow Sun in charge, CHC members should do themselves a favor and vote with their feet. This is so bad, you might as well not belong to any church at all. Just go find another church.

Saturday, April 8, 2017

Syria and the downfall of Bannon

It was an unexpected only because we do not have peepholes into the White House. I recognized it is time to take Keynes advice that when the facts change, I should also change my mind.

The dots lined up and are best joined as follows:

Trump has had absolutely no success following Steve Bannon's advice. The most important thing to Trump is winning and America First is just the means to win. If he can't win at home then he must enlarge the concept of America beyond her borders and win elsewhere. Hence he ordered the missile attack on Syria.

General McMaster was always more than a match against Bannon. It was unwise not to be able to work with Kushner who belonged to the Trump family. Blood is thicker than water especially in a democracy.

In the end Bannon's reputation for intelligence and strategy was way overblown. Instead he and his kind are slaves to a discredited and dangerous ideology. He will not get his evil opportunity to take on Pope Francis. He is not a Christian in anyway except in name.

Update: 2:45 pm

That's right, the Russians can't. Thoughtful readers and professionals in national security knew that. It is the public which do not and Putin wanted to con his own public. Obama had repeatedly called the Russians paper tiger, spent force and basically weak and declining but he was reluctant to act against them and most others aggressively because there was no need to. The stronger you are militarily the less you need to use it. Isn't that what we do here as well?

CHC Appeal: Beyond the Law, Five saved One

I read this in the ST this morning.

Consider the counterfactual where five of them save Kong Hee had lived differently. No, they did not take the money to spend it on themselves directly but imagine they did so indirectly, the outcome of their appeals would not have been so benign. The absence of the pursuit of self interest by these five helped to make Kong Hee looked less bad. Kong Hee misled them with his bad theology but I think pride prevented them from admitting they were conned by his false theology.

The laws of the land and those of God are different. We read in the Bible that if you looked at a woman lustfully, to God you have committed adultery. So Kong Hee better wise up because another law could be read to him another time but I know he thought God is all forgiving and he could finagle forgiveness out of him somehow. After all he knows his Bible and have used it to mislead the other five. In jail, it is reasonable to imagine that they will turn away from his theology.

Special note: Sun Ho was character wise too weak to be present at the High Court yesterday but she is inexplicably strong enough to lead CHC in the absence of Kong Hee. Go figure!

Update: 7:55 pm

Good this ought not to be over yet. The Law Minister discussed how this impact on policy matters but it is clear there is much public disquiet as well which have serious political implications.

Friday, April 7, 2017

CHC Six Sentencing: "Whole Singapore Disappointed"

855 likes after 9 hours only , nothing more to add!

Update: 8:40 pm

Mothership article: 3 High Court judges’ explanation for City Harvest leaders’ reduced jail terms, is useful for explaining why the six got what they got. Nevertheless from the moral angle, people are outraged and regular folks naturally expect the law and their moral sensibilities not to differ too widely. 

Update: 8:55 pm

Came across more comments that were heavily "liked"

Update: April 8, 3:10 pm

Zaobao summarized the seven year marathon trial