Friday, December 31, 2010

Arnold Schwarzenegger - Can't talk well & yet Celebrity

My 1st exposure to Arnold is Terminator 2. This guy is amazing because:

1) his austrian accent is so thick
2) knows little english

yet his weaknesses/liabilities became strengths under the right circumstances. Can't talk well in english & with such heavy foreign accent - what to do? That's right- act as robot!

Often times we would have let the above excuses take root & forget about pursuing our dreams. Better question we need to ask ourlselves is how to get our weaknesses/liabilities to become strengths under the right circumstance.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Mall at Bukit Indah, Johor - Refreshing feel

I loathe the locusts swarms of crowds in local shopping malls. Is especially crowded on weekends. Is a refreshing experience at the mall at Bukit Indah, Johor on a weekday. Causeway Link bus from Jurong East Interchange cost $4 & journey is around 1 hour to 70mins inclusive of Tuas customs clearance. Malaysian bus driver sure drive fast cause he's always on middle lane, sure knows how to brake without any jerks to passengers.

Causeway Link Cafe (yellow). Bus stop at other side which is the alighting point. Same place for taking bus to go back Jurong terminal at RM5.

Exterior of mall at Bukit Indah from the front.

A&W restaurant. Is extinct in S'pore. There used to be 1 in Clementi where i live. Ever since its 'extinction' in S'pore, A&W restaurant has become a star attraction for the mall for S'poreans.

I love the environment. Hardly any people on a weekday at around 11am. Totally unlike the crowded aisles common in S'pore malls.

Not many pushcarts along the walkways in bid by mall to max out rentals. Is more spacious.

Newly opened Mac opposite the mall. I'm not a fan of fast food. Consume the junk food sparingly or not at all. Anyway there's A&W so why bother with Mac? Notice the Tesco (blue) behind. Groceries there are generally cheaper than Jusco. The place there is bit older & rundown but hey we get cheaper prices.

Area still under development in front beside the Mac. I'm amazed that Causeway Link started the bus service to this undeveloped area. Approach is opposite to the profit sucking public transport companies in S'pore which is to wait till sufficent development & passengers to justify starting the service. Msian side has foresight to jump in knowing the area will flourish in future. S'pore style(govt scholars) is wait till future is clear then jump in start service.

Daiso outlet in the mall. RM5 per item.

Besides the Jusco in the mall & Tesco nearby, there's also Giant which is nearby as well. 3 hypermarts in the vicinity. Whoa i wonder if is overkill. Giant outlet is very quiet when i went there.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Absence of Creativity in S'pore

Govt through control of mainstream media likes to tout about awesome grades scored by top scorers during PSLE, N, O, A levels. What's missing is how come they don't follow up with what happen to those top scorers later in life?

During secondary school i loathe the idea of memorising & spitting out whatever memorised onto paper during tests & exams. During industrial age it may makes sense but with advent of internet with answers readily 'googleable' & walkthrough tutorial videos on youtube it makes memorising pretty much useless.

School system is perhaps the slowest to reform & is primarily a tool by govt to churn out primarily worker cogs to fill the economic machine. In the past govt promote engineering (which has pretty much hollowed out), then biotech, then waferfab. I see casinos as last ditch effort after the above mentioned industries didn't take off.

After being exposed to taiwanese dramas & current affairs talkshow is apparent creativity & educating the public is higher than in S'pore. Is also a reason i don't watch local shows & buy local papers.
Road to creativity

MR TAN Jiaqi's letter ('No template for creativity'; last Saturday) makes the excellent observation that the considerable absence of creativity among Singaporeans stems not merely from the pressures within classrooms but also from our socio-economic circumstances.

Far from being an exclusive Singaporean problem, educators around the world are beginning to recognise that a system that emphasises rote learning & the regurgitation of information in tests stifles young minds & limits the application of creative methodologies.

Situation is far more pronounced in Singapore - with our limited manpower - where parents' & students' expectations are premised on the need to be economically productive, fuelled by materialism and pragmatism.

Conformity is encouraged from the moment a child enters primary school. Not only are children exposed to standardised assessments & pressures, but they are also forced to go through a framework which places disproportionate emphasis on rigid teaching-learning processes.

Our society treats differences with disdain & expects everyone to turn out exactly the same. The message we should stress is this: Not every child is meant to be an academic, & so should not be trained or educated as one.

Problem is compounded when education is seen merely as a means to an end - the end being landing a good job & enjoying the comforts brought by material gains.

Co-curricular activities & leadership avenues are there to help students further their interests, but many have become obsessed with beefing up their portfolios to 'look good' in scholarship & college applications. Even something like community service has been abused for personal, pragmatic purposes.

Creativity can be nurtured only by giving a child the space & freedom to pursue his strengths & interest himself in endeavours or areas that he is passionate about & talented in. An educational institution's role should be to equip the student with the right skills to achieve his dreams & aspirations.

-Kwan Jin Yao

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

More People Digging their Graves with their Teeth -Unhealthy Food

There's an article in paper today on few healthy food choices in S'pore. Main points are:

  • More people eating out due to long working hours
  • >50% of those surveyed eat out 8+/wk
  • Increased obesity

Of course is not reported how it contributes to high gdp growth- The grow like cancer also good as long as is growth mentality that is entrenched in present govt.

  • Spend $ eat outside food with high salt & sugar-gdp up
  • Little-no time exercise, fall sick see Dr-gdp up
  • Buy medicines-gdp up

Gdp up up up.

Govt like to boast through the media about gdp growth & many are brainwashed into swallowing this flawed gdp growth indicator crap.

What kind of growth is that when population is becoming more obese, less time with family due to long work hours, increased intake of unhealthy outside food?

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Die Die Must Succeed - Soviets Defending Stalingrad

Battle of Stalingrad during WWII was among the most brutal battles as both sides fought tenaciously. What's noteworthy is that the soviets were hanging on to their city by their fingernails when they control just 10% of it.

In life we often are disadvantaged in certain situations & is human nature to complain. Given the set of 'cards' we're dealt with in life, is often how we play with what's given to us that propel us forward. Against the superior german combined-arms tactics, the soviets adopted the tactic of 'hugging' the enemy. By 'hugging' the enemy as close as possible, the germans would risk killing their own by their artillery or close air-support.

Some complain that the scenarios in Memoir44 (a WWII boardgame) is lopsided in favor of 1 side. Publisher recommended switching sides to see which player has a better score after playing both sides. Is one of the few boardgames where 'unbalanced' is featured. While we clamor for fair play in life, sometimes we don't get such fair circumstances in life.

How the soviets deal with their dismayed situation & turn it around is a good inspiration. Don't you think so?

Monday, December 13, 2010

Die Die Must Succeed - Doolittle Raid on Japan

Good example of a determined effort to bomb Japan in retaliation for Pearl Harbor carnage. No navy carrier-based bomber is able to do it & no carrier battle group can survive for long near Japan shortly after Pearl Harbor been raided. Hence the ridiculous idea of launching army medium B-25 Mitchell bombers from a carrier! Able to takeoff but unable to land so have to land in China/Russia.

A good example of when one is determined to do something he will find the way & if can't find the way will make the way!

The majority of public is introduced to the raid from Pearl Harbor movie in 2001. Leading officer Jimmy Doolittle leads by example by being the first(shortest runway) to take off.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Gift Voucher/s

I don't celebrate xmas & being this part of the year the usual 'what gift should i buy?' pop up in forums asking for suggestions.

Instead of buy gifts why not buy vouchers & give?

They are great:
  • U have no headaches figuring out what to buy
  • Let receiver control what he/she want to buy
  • Less clutter by avoiding buying something the receiver already has
  • No excessive gift-wrapping/packaging (good for mother earth)
  • Comes in nice $5, $10 denominations.

Personally i like Popular bookstore vouchers. With books, stationary, computer peripherals(though tad more costly compared to Sim Lim Sq) there's got to be something suitable.

Thursday, December 9, 2010


Army comedy drama series that is a smash hit in taiwan. I very much look forward to it every week! It focus on basic military training in taiwan that brings back memories. Conditions have improved a lot that i wonder if is better than the recruits in S'pore. I saw breaks for recruits going to mini-marts, vending machine in their barracks.

Have not seen any wholly made local productions this decade & having seen 新兵日记 i agree with the chorus of lament that local tv dramas have deteriorated much. Some even label Mediacorp as Mediacorpse.

Scriptwriting is superb though the female senior seargeant is added in to spice things up.
My favorite character is Ye Datong. Real joker & what's unique about him is he is short (1.62m). A liability that's turned into a massive asset for the character he portray in the drama! There's no lack of taller actors & better looking but someone like him who is both short & comedic is rare!
As i watch more & more, the more i'm attracted to the idea of a cycling exploration trip in taiwan.

Catch the series. You'll love it too!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Getting Educated Financially Pays Better

” You’ve reached the maximum you can do at your age in that position, you move sideways & you take less pay & you move gradually to less & less pay because you are moving slower & slower, especially if you are doing physical work.” -MM Lee Kuan Yew
Above quote just reaffirms i'm on the right path by taking the investment route instead of the chasing paper cert route that the masses chose. With both $ & time limited at the forkroad, i chose the investment route.
  • No age discrimination
  • No gender discrimination
  • No race discrimination
  • Can pass my investment skills to younger generation. (Can't pass the job!)
  • No maximum limit
  • Applicable in other countries

Peer pressure encountered when people around you are upgrading their paper certs for more $ & job security while i self study personal finance & investment. Is hard to explain to them & often times i don't bother explaining.

The way i see it is the chase paper route still doesn't solve the issue ultimately since the person might be laid-off due to age, obsolete, aged reflexes etc. Furthermore in recent years with the influx of foreign workers who work cheaper, many got a rude shock that their paper certs aren't helping much at all.

Have you got started on educating yourself in personal finance & investment (starting on former 1st)?

Monday, December 6, 2010

Uplifting Songs from a Taiwanese Army Comedy Drama Series

Particularly like these 2 songs which are featured in a taiwanese army comedy drama series. I have listened to it > 100 times & still like it. Is uplifiting.

Read a comment that the singer used to sing in a pub before he got his break. I've never heard of him too & boy these 2 songs of his are awesome!

Everyone has their unique talents to share with others. Situation in S'pore which overly stresses on academic results crippled many people by destroying their self-esteem at a young age through streaming exams. Jay Chou's results couldn't make it to university & in S'pore environment he's considered a condemned case.

Many 'Jay Chou' like individuals whether in singing, craftmanship, sports etc are crushed at a young age which is why there's a dearth of such individuals sharing their unique talents in S'pore.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Drastic Paycut after Retirement Age

I bumped into an ex-colleague working in a govt-related company. He told me he's paid $200+ inclusive of cpf for working in morning till 1pm. He said that's what HR offered him as continued work as technician after hitting retirement age. He took it up saying got something to do in morning. Working full day is not much also.

$200+ incl. of cpf is a drastic cut to me & a reason why i don't like to spend $ frivolously & end up like him in old age. After deducting transport cost to work is even worse.

It is also a reason why i venture into investing. It is an endeavor that has no age discrimination as long as you can still think clearly. No doubt i'have paid some tuition fees as in losses in the market but it is clearly worth it as i've already recovered some of the losses by investing during the recent financial crisis when stocks are on sale.

People's lives are either an inspiration or a warning especially the older ones if we do not wish to go down a similar downtrodden path.

I chose the investing route instead of chasing after more paper qualifications. Many people don't understand me as they themselves are upgrading themselves with more paper certs. End result is still to get more $$, is just the path we take are different. As we have seen in recent years the more paper cert approach is breaking down with more off-shoreing, out-sourcing, automation.

"2 roads diverged in a wood, and i took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference..." -Robert Frost

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Independence of Riding

Is near end of the year. Last week i got an sms from a weekday badminton organiser asking me to join in as a few withdrawal for night session. Weekend session attendence is weak too, other group at other court suffers a similar fate.

For this coming weekend session there is a possibility of cancellation due to insufficient players. So what has all this got to do with cycling?

Well is independence. A fellow cyclist in the Desaru trip shared with me that he like the independence. I don't like depending on others too much just because he/they can't make it. With my bicycle i can still go ahead with my ride even if it rains.

Happiness controlled by the individual (cyclist) & not dependent on others.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

CapitaMalls Asia - i find it dangerous

Is been a year since CapitaMalls Asia went public at $2.12 . There is much hoopla during ipo. Shortly thereafter it rose to $2.65 before it decline. At this writing is $2.04

I find that the malls have little room to grow in terms of their retail space. Corridors filled with pushcarts. Other than jacking up rentals what other option is there? Personally i find rentals a killer in S'pore & is a turnoff whenever i wonder how many % of a product/service 's price am i paying for rent?

How is the company managing? Well this photo of construction of Jurong Entertainment Centre is a clue. Good quality metal panels erected for a construction site & high beam lights shining the metal plates at night. That's a lavish use of $ - a warning sign to an investor.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Beating the Market ≠ Making $

Shocking revelation when i learnt of it. Graphs are depicted on unit trust brochures indicating their past performance compared to index and/or other funds.

If the market drops 50% & the fund lost 48% it's considered as beating the market. What consolation is that when $ is lost? The investor ought to sell near the top of bull market (though is not easy to judge) & not like the fund riding down when the bear takes over.

There is a time to be in the market & a time not to. Perhaps that's why Warren Buffett's #1 Rule: Don't lost $, #2 Rule: Don't forget #1 instead of making $.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Insurance Meant for Protection, Not Investment

There's been letters about term insurance in the papers recently. I've never heard of Term Insurance until the 2008-9 financial crisis with those Minibond investors losing $ & Tan Kin Lian attempting to recoup their $. Is on his blog that he talk about term.

A no. of personal finance books talk about buy term & invest the difference. I'm in favor of this approach. No doubt will lose $ in beginning but the learning experience will be worth it in taking control & increased self-confidence & esteem. Furthermore this 'life skill' is applicable in other countries' markets & no age limit & discrimination.

Analogy i can think of for Insurance & Equities are a tank & a sports car. Both are vehicles built for different purposes. Tank=insuranace, Sports Car=equities. A tank can travel too but it won't go fast to reach your destination of financial security (or independence/freedom). A tank is heavily armored to protect the crew as what insurance is supposed to do.

Insurance industry spend a ton of $ on advertising. Little to none is spent on educating. Without ignorant people, it won't be easy to sell high profit margin products to boost its bottomline. Ignorance in financial matters is not bliss. Ignorance is pain, exploitation by others & slavery.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

2nd-hand Badminton Racquet- Reducing expenses

I suck at badminton. Playing it as a form of exercise. Bought a 2nd hand racquet at around half price after my 1st Carbonex 8SP's string is broken. Other better yonex racquet was broken near the T-joint.

I've seen a player with around 4-5 racquets in his bag. Guess he buy & buy in attempt to find 1 that suits him. So much excess stuff. I've played with the 2nd hand racquet a few times as its owner was generous to let me use. Find it ok & definately better than the carbo8. Is a msian brand but brand doesn't matter much to me. All good brands have their start.

There's no way to hit a shuttle in the shop to see how the racquet handles so a 2nd hand racquet is fine with me after playing with it in real conditions.

Ever consider buying 2nd hand stuff to cut expenses & accelerate journey to financial independence?

Carbonex 8SP (String broken near centre):

2nd Hand Racquet (Fleet Brand)

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Startling Msian Retirement Fund Figures

Figures of how much people have in their retirement accounts have always intrigued me. Managing my finances well is of paramount importance as i don't want to end up like the broke masses. Figures for S'poreans are grim & on Msian side it's the same.

When it comes to wealth, the 80/20 Pareto principle is even more pronounced. Azizi Ali, a Msian finance book author wrote that 94% of Msians have less than RM100,000 in their accounts. Forced savings already so pathetic, real savings is even worse.

Amount (RM)
No. of Active Contributors

Above 1,000,000

600,000 to 1,000,000

100,000 to 600,000

50,000 to 100,000

Below 50,000

For S'poreans, the situation is worse with much of it sucked up by housing mortgages & many has been brainwashed that their aging 99 year leasehold flats are worth a lot.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

No Debt = Carefree

Remember how carefree we were up to secondary school/junior college years? A peaceful & tranquil existence with no bad debts. Other than that the other period in my life being carefree is during the basic military training days- tired & fall asleep, kinda cut off from outside world.

People buying unnecessary depreciating stuff on credit have always amazed me. Stuff may bring pleasure in the beginning but then it feels like a weight chained to the body. Reading Kiyosaki's Rich Dad Poor Dad shocked me further as he mentioned about working for bank as well. The more people you are indebted (bad debts) to, the poorer you are.

Do you often buy stuff on credit?

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Get Rich Quick Stock Seminars

Cottage industry of these stock/forex/option trading seminars have sprouted up since 2002. 1 option trader who proclaimed himself 'guru' has been sued by customers & closed down. All these seminars attract greedy people with claims of quick profits. I used to be a sucker too having lost a few thousand dollars.

Warren Buffett's Rule 1: Don't lose $. Rule 2: Don't forget #1. As simplistic as it is my experience agrees with what he say about concentrating on defense 1st. Mindset is totally different in terms of priority:

Veterans: 1) Don't Lose $, 2) Grow $, 3) Grow $ real quick
Suckers & amateurs: 1) Grow $ real quick, 2) Grow $, 3) Don't lose $

Many people in their foray to get rich quick end up getting poorer quick. Educational seminars are ok but these get rich quick seminars ought to be avoided.

Personally i find those who cannot control their spending impulses have a slim chance of being financially independent. Spending $ is easy but most spend to make themselves poorer.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Mail Order Items

I'm an ignorant fool when it comes to mail order items. Pitch they use is 'Product is not available in stores & can only be bought through mail order'. Why? I didn't give it a deeper thought & just carried on with daily life. I've read many personal finance books & they all repeat the usual topics. Well this mail order stuff is something new that i learnt.

-If product is so great, how come is not sold in stores?

Main reason given is that the product is in 'experimental stage'. If response is great from mail orders they would deem it good & roll it out fast into stores. It is a way of limiting their risk & mass production of unsold items just in case.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Disposable Income

Ever wonder why they call it 'disposable'? I wonder if this word has a part to play as many people now are in debt especially credit card debt.

After income leftover upon paying fixed expenses, the rest is supposed to be disposable? By terming it 'disposable' it unconsiously programs people to dispose of it. Disposal through consumption especially hyperconsumption. More & more clutter in people's homes nowadays (me included).

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Plastic Bags Banned in Penang, Msia - Got Balls

Penang minister got balls, ban plastic bags from 1st Jan for better environment & citizens. S'pore is too $$ minded, scare lose ConsumerS (note media don't call as CitizenS) Many people are consumers-eat, eat, use, use, throw, throw, divorce, divorce. Can shop for new item/spouse again. GDP up & up as the govt likes to tout as if it is the end all be all indicator of life.

Even in Jusco at Bukit Indah in Johor, Msia they already have no plastic day every Sat which is a high shopper volume day compared to a weekday in S'pore.

They don't refer as Citizen Spending nor Citizen Confidence Level. What is the difference between consumers & citizens? Go figure.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Life 'Thrown Away' Watching TV

Have not watched much tv since NS days. At times i find it annoying with the noise from tv when parents are watching. I'm rather appalled that commercials take up around 25% in a 1 hour drama slot. Likewise for cartoons that i watched on youtube to relive my childhood days the ad time is around 8mins for a 30min cartoon - that's also around a quarter.

Actual part of show is even less if taking in the opening & ending songs/credits. Throwing away around 25% of our life in an hour of tv watching due to ads is too much.

Why not use your watch's stopwatch function & verify how many % of your life is wasted on commercial breaks for a typical show/movie?

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Clementi Hawker Centre Reopens

Is good to see the famous carrot cake & porridge stalls still there after months of refurbishment of the hawker centre. Both can be considered part of clementi heritage as many long-time residents can attest to.

I'm not in favor of government's increasing moves to privatise hawker centres & markets. Recent Kopitiam Square in Sengkang which has turned into a ghost town is a good example. Kopitiam bidded real high & charge exhorbitant rents which are then passed on to consumers. Who is dumb to pay high for commodities when many don't have enough retirement funds?
I find the hawkers operating their small businesses have a sense of pride of their culinary skills unlike those employed in food courts which are there mostly for paychecks. Already we see the food culture deteriorating as the old hawkers retire & their 'kungfu' lost since youngsters nowadays are reluctant to take over.

On tourism side, 2 europeans i know of prefer hawker centre than food court. Food court environment being too corporatised lacks appeal to these tourists.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Wealth/Financial Disaster Ingredients

Knowledge + Discipline + Fear + Greed = Wealth

Ignorance + Recklessness + Fear + Greed = Financial Disaster

Above 2 equations from a book of Andrew Chia. Notice the common ingredients are Fear + Greed which took me by surprise. Is true when you come to think of it that fear & greed are present in humans. Is the other 2 ingredients that produces different outcomes.

How come the subject of $$ is not taught in schools?

Mass ignorance = Financial Disaster when the masses are woefully prepared for retirement.
Mass ignorance = Easier to rip & sell unsuitable profits leading to handsome profits for financial institutions.
Mass ignorance = Large numbers of people stuck in a job they don't like.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Balls Are Always in Short Supply

Last week a student questioned SM Goh if he is aware that many young people no longer felt a sense of ownership in S'pore. This type of person with balls are rare. That student if he is smart can use that news article about him as badge of honor instead of plain resume. Most people are trained/conditioned to be drones which are easily replaceable/expendable.

No generals dare wake Hitler up when allied airborne dropping at night prior to D-day morning. No balls to call disturb his sleep. Waited till morning & the rest is history.

People who dare to ask the 'inconvenient' question to higher authorities are always in short supply compared to the masses of yesmen surrounding a top person.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Getting People to Go Away

Making NRIC/FIN a compulsory field by Singtel on their Contact Us page is a fantastic way to prop up a nicer report of lesser complaints from internet channel.

How does requiring NRIC compulsory help in solicitating feedback? Those who still want to go ahead would turn to the phone instead. This is a problem with some organisations doing needless work collecting/compiling useless data. The person who implement it is likely to just follow orders & not question the requirement.

In essence the company is telling the person to go away. Do not complain. Do not feedback.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Easier to Exploit Ignorant People

Someone wrote in paper say >50% future accumulated savings taken from consumers buying whole life/Investment-linked policies. Easier to make $ when people are ignorant.

School teach those useless topics like calculus, binomial theorem etc but never teach how to manage & grow $. Ever wonder why? This is something that puzzles me since my teenage years.

Ignorant people easier to exploit & fleece $ from them. Ignorant people easier to control. Ignorant people blindly swallow whatever is spewed out from the government controlled mass media. Ignorance when it comes to $ is not bliss, is pain.

"Life insurance company also earns a large profit from each policy. Consumer is not aware of the high margin in the life insurance policy that is sold by a highly trained & motivated agent.

Many benefit illustrations of the whole-life or investment-linked policies sold in the market today take away more than 50 per cent of the future accumulated savings from the consumer.

For example, if a consumer pays a monthly premium of $500 & the investment yield is 5 per cent per annum, the total accumulated amount would be $418,000 at the end of 30 years.

If 50 per cent of this amount is taken away, the consumer will get the non-guaranteed cash value of $209,000.

The balance will go to the agent & the insurer. Real cost of the insurance protection should be less than 10 per cent of the premium & not 50 per cent.

If an insurer or its agent can earn so much by selling a whole-life or investment-linked policy, why should they want to sell term insurance?

Why are consumers willing to give away more than 50 per cent of their accumulated savings in a life insurance policy?

Simple answer is they do not know or understand the benefit illustration & are not aware of the high costs. Benefit illustration is confusing to a lay person & allows the insurer to get away with predatory products." - Tan Kin Lian

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Hard Work is Courage

Airasia (msia) took out a full page ad in the paper last week mocking Tiger Airways (sg). People commented that is childish running this kind of ad making fun of others. Also commented is waste of $ for a full page ad.

To me what impresses me is the audacity. I've not seen such ads by local government linked firms as most are staffed by people who prefer the status quo. Many are cowards when risen to high positions in the company & afraid to rock the boat.

To me i see the ad as a bold move by the boss to spread the courage around the company. Not to mention the unconventional ad compared to the 'politically correct' type of public relations messages/replies that most are sick & tired of reading.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

American Revolutionary War

Was first introduced to this period from a computer strategy turn-based wargame simulating the war. It caught my interest ever since. Why? Here is a group of ragtag colonists fighting a war of independence against the most powerful nation at that time - England.
  • How to win against the british professional army?
  • How to win when supplies are weak & troops ill-equiped & trained?
  • No navy against the british!

Is admirable the men penned their names on the declaration of independence. Is as good as signing their death warrants if the war is lost! In the book Think & Grow Rich, is implied that the war is won at the point of signing cause these men were committed to the cause.

Many times, the little voice in our head would have yell those impossible odds urging us to give up before starting the endeavor. What's worse we don't even know about the existence of that other voice & accept what it yells accordingly. Is partly why many people live lives of quiet desperation.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Returns Sucked Away by Commission

Was reported that many applicants who applied 1-19 lots of Global Logistics IPO price at $1.96 got 1 lot. With 1 lot, a rise of 1.28% is needed just to pay for sell commission. My trading rep told me is common to receive just 1-2 lots despite applying for many.

Why buy IPO? Get sucked in by the juicy story? In order to get max $ in ipo phase, many companies do their best project as best a financial in their prospectus. Is like people esp women who submit their best photo (esp clamor shots) in their resumes, passport etc. Real life person is usually 'duller'. My general rule of thumb is to discount 20% off such too good looking pictures.

Market will always be there. Good time to shop is during recession. I see an ipo like a new market/mall opening with hordes of people flocking there.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Expert Sharing/Teaching via Youtube

Was utterly amazed after watching a Starcraft challenge mission on youtube that it can be so easy. So much for being stuck in how i do things.

Filled with grateful comments from others to someone who is unknown teaching others for free! Again the govt propaganda that quality education doesn't come cheap is bullshit. Controlling the mainstream education sector is a rich source of revenue for govt & a vital way to 'train' drones needed for the economy & political purposes.

If is good people will vote accordingly. How much does it cost to learn from an expert in this age? Well close to free... Mediocre teachers with no passion are in danger.

Result from video speaks for itself. No need certification & spending $.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Govt Led Initiatives vs Free Market

With the bursting of the Youth Olympics Games budget by close to 3 times, i don't have a favorable view of how bureaucrats spend $$. Having work in govt related sector before, i'm amazed that the allocated budget has to be spent before end of financial year or else won't get same or bigger budget next year. No wonder govt keeps getting bigger & bigger & rising taxes!

However the other view is that the private sector can't do everything. Take for example the research into atomic bomb & subsequent nuclear energy & the invention of internet which started off as a US Defense initiative. Also the race to put a man on the moon & subsequent satellite related technology resulting from it - all govt led spending initiatives.

We can also see how free market resulted in the recent worst financial crisis since the Great Depression & how Sengkang hawker centre operated by koptiam become a ghost town due to ridiculous prices.

Mixture of both is preferable though is not easy to find the right balance. Prolonged initiatives on extreme is unsustainable.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Battle of Manchuria - wow i never heard of it

Having watched a documentary i agree that this soviet offensive is sorely neglected compared to other WWII battles. I didn't even know of such a massive offensive operation. Significance of this battle is that the landmass the size of western europe was conquered in days & the immense logistics to move mass quantities of men & supplies from european front to the far east with much of it in secrecy.

The battle also resulted in a northern communist North Korea & the capture of Kurile & Sakhalin islands from the japanese.

What struck me was that the battles raged on even after their american allies dropped 2 atomic bombs on Japan. Japanese forces were steamrolled by the red army since most of its heavier equipment & better units had been transferred to the Pacific front.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Shareholders vs Stakeholders

In recent couple of years the phrase 'increase shareholder value' is increasingly prominent in annual reports of companies. Role of stakeholders is not well understand. Recent financial crisis that resulted from taking excessively risk to 'increase shareholder value' end up being bailed out by taxpaypers $(stakeholder) in the US.

Shareholders can run quick with the $ while stakeholders(common men) are left to clean up the mess. In S'pore there's more & more tension particularly in public transport. In bid to increase shareholder value, the stakeholders(populace) are increasingly packed like sardines. Gains by minority few at expense of the majority.

Trend seem to have started in the US in Reagan administration & the trend in S'pore became obviously on steriods in the 2000s. Govt policies in recent years have disenfranchised the majority of the 'stakeholders'. Most recent repair attempt reported is holding the passing out parade of conscript recruits at Marina floating platform to remind these young stakeholders what they are defending. I'm afraid is another futile attempt...

Monday, October 4, 2010

State Capitalism

A new term i come across last month. In S'pore, most obvious example are the telcos & public transport sectors. Squeezing out private operators by the state. In China & Msia i see a few bus operators. Here is either duopoly or tripoly.

An argument i read is how come there are 3 telcos all owned or indirectly owned by the state & competing against each other? Isn't it a waste of resources having 3 sets of board of directors, HR, premises etc etc? Part of it is to 'park' those retired officers from the armed forces there to strengthen its political grip.

State capitalism is not good in long run when is mostly the private sector which is more efficent & innovative compared to state controlled enterprises which is also used as a form of political leverage.

Thursday, September 30, 2010


Practically on an annual basis the main local paper like to trumpet about S'pore competitiveness among top 5 in the world since the 1990s.

Quoted definition below is the best i come across. In the 1990s most of S'poreans have seen their living standards rise. However from 2000 onwards it has become stagnation or decline for most- folks savaging rubbish bins & old folks cleaning at hawker centres/food courts.
"Competitiveness is the degree to which a nation can, under free & fair market conditions, produce goods & services that meet the test of international markets while simultaneously maintaining or expanding the real incomes of its citizens."
Are real incomes of citizens as bolded increase? Why harp about competitiveness when majority of citizens experienced otherwise in their daily lives? Reading the bolded words woke me up as to what is wrong with their 'competitiveness' good news.

What kind of competitivenss when it is reported that S'pore has the highest income inequality in the world?

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Trying to Look Good

Saw the below 2 headlines in the main daily which rank low in press freedom.
Over 700 reclaim $750,000
MORE than 700 local workers recovered some $750,000 from their employers through the Labour Court in the first half of the year
On surface it look good, however is just around $1000/worker. Going through the court to recover this amount is a rough indication how much $1000 means to the worker who is most likely a lower income worker. Is just the tip of the iceberg since there's lots more with no balls or given up in their claims.
Subscribe to ST, get a gift
A SLEW of gifts worth more than $2 million are up for grabs from now till Nov 27.
Not long ago, business model of New York Times print version is in question for the future. With internet, people are less & less inclined & juicy news spread like wildfire fast online.

With government linked companies squeezing as much $ from populace, how can suddenly be so generous? Truth is less & less people are subscribing whether is print or online version of the govt propaganda.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Disappearance of Good Hawkers

Someone wrote to the papers today about decline of hawker food quality. S'pore is known as a food paradise. Hawker centres used to be built by the government. It provides affordable food & is a tourist attraction. However the privatisation of hawker centre in Sengkang & the food courts in shopping malls is like a cancer.

Bad food quality coupled with higher prices. Employees hired to man the stalls in the food courts hardly have pride in the food they whip up to sell & serve others unlike the self-employed hawkers in hawker centres.

Most hawkers in hawker centres work fewer hours & have a 'life' unlike those slogging away elsewhere to pay for high rents. GST was up by 40% (5->7%) few years back & we are told is to help the poor. If the hawker centre is still operated by govt, we & the tourists get to benefit with better food at reasonable prices.

So much for the 'scholars' in government planning leading to:
  • Decline in hawker food quality
  • Decline in reputation as food paradise for tourism
  • Decline in affordability
  • Taxes are not in a way recycled back to help people temporarily down

If we want good hawker food to flourish in Singapore, we must stop squeezing out our hawkers.

While upgrading hawker centres is a good idea, raising rentals simply makes the hawkers' life harder.

In addition, turning over the running of hawker centres to private operators is a bad idea as their main motive will always be to maximise profits. They will bid high to get the right to run the centre and then squeeze the hawkers to recoup their investments.

Hawkers cannot mark up the prices of their food too much. This means that for them to earn more, they must sell more. However, there is a limit to how many bowls or plates they can sell each day.

Increasing rentals raises the cost of doing business significantly for them & they will have no choice but to resort to cost-cutting measures like changing the quality of ingredients used & how they are procured. Is it any wonder that the quality of hawker fare has gone down across the board?

If we do not want to lose our hawker food heritage, we must build an environment that makes it financially viable for existing hawkers & even their successors to do well.

Our hawker food culture is something worth keeping & the Government should continue to nurture that which is uniquely Singaporean.-Joseph Khoo

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Growth of GDP per Hour Worked

New term i come across. Are you pissed off by the constant harping of high gdp in the mass media? I sure do as gdp is not a good indicator as it includes destructive & unhealthy elements.

Now growth of GDP/hr worked is another sensible indicator.

"How often have you read about Eurosclerosis & how those poor Europeans suffer from low growth & high unemployment in their high-tax, inflexible, anti-entrepreneur welfare states? It is true that U.S. GDP has in recent years grown faster than EU GDP, but so has U.S. debt.

Moreover, if you look at growth of GDP per hour worked, Germany, France & America are virtually tied. How come? Americans work a lot more hours. Time with family doesn't count in GDP, but Europeans think it's important."-Clyde Prestowitz

Sound familiar? So many S'poreans work long hours nowadays. Family structure is weak as recently recognised by the minister who overblow the Youth Olympics Games budget. S'pore even has a 'Eat with Family' day since early 2000s to encourage workers to dine with family.

Common sense don't seem common as with this indicator i'm now aware of. Consider it like km/litre of gas you get from a car.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Govt Desperate about Low Birth Rate

Foreigners seeing how govt treat its own citizens will convert to citizenship? In a bid to boost population the floodgates are slammed wide open & now govt is targeting youths to embrace idea of marrying & having children early. Seems to be a desperate measure as most foreigners are just here to work, earn enough & retire back in their home countries. Can't blame them as i would do the same if i were in their shoes.

Harry Dent wrote in his book 'The Great Depression Ahead' that S'pore will experience a boom due to immigrants & then a long decline. He based it on demographics. With the current govt this desperate to 'brainwash' youths to marry & give birth i'm afraid S'pore may be near the start of the long decline...

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Punctured Tire

Embarassing to say that after cycling for over 10 years i still don't know how to fix/replace punctured tire. Just came back from exploring Zhenghua park connector & Pang Sua connector, rear tire punctured on way back at Bukit Batok. Press ahead at slow pace with squeaking sound that's embarassing as well.

Rim is damaged anyway as is uneven on this old old clunker 1st bike of mine. Road bike i bought was stolen a few months after. Thief cut away the cable. Heartache at that time as it cost me $2k+.

Zhenghua park connector has a couple of steep slopes & narrow paths. It runs parallel to Bukit Timah Xpressway for some parts & the sound of vehicles from xpressway disturbs the peace. Pang Sua connector is 1 of the better connectors in the west in terms of scenery.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Cost Breakdown of Desaru Cycling Trip

Spending on experiences is better than shopping at infested shopping malls over the weekend. Meal is excellent value for $ compared to high percentage of bill paying for rental component back in S'pore.

There's no lunch on 1st day as we must reach Deseru before dark. Organiser seems like a frugal guy too as we stop at Bandar Penawar near Desaru to pack dinner on way to Desaru.
  • Peanut pancake - 2RM
  • Nasi Lemak - 3RM
  • Ferry Back - 35RM
  • Dinner- 23RM (vegies, tonic chicken, crispy tau pok, steamed fish, coconut)
  • Ferry To - $11
  • Chao Kway Teow - $2.50
  • Bike Rental - $22
  • Hotel - $38 (twin sharing but can sleep 3)

Inclusive of buses & mrt is around $110. Without bike rental at Changi village, cost would be around $90. Rental bike is better than my old clunker. I also had doubts about cycling to Changi since i just finished in-camp training the day before. If one is even more daring can cycle up eariler via causeway though is longer to avoid boat fares(uncertain wait too) to & from Pengilih ferry terminal.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Complacency of the Young

Most have fallen into the trap of glass is full thinking their degree certs is the end of the road to learning. There is a joke i come across that says As work for Ds, Cs work for Bs, Bs work for As. D being the entrepereneur who is not good in studies. I think there's some truth to it.

Those who acknowledge early in life & still possess fighting spirit know they need to avoid the academic dogfights & focus on something else they are good in.

With the influx of foreigners with unknown paper certs in recent years, many locals are shocked about the value of their paper certs that they attach much value to that don't seem to give them an advantage.

Bill Gates among others commented that: 'current education system is broken. System arose during shift from agricultural to industrial economy & served needs of that time by pumping out literate, skilled, docile factory workers. But development of educational system has not kept pace with subsequent changes in society & economy. In context of today's knowledge-based economy, it feels more than antiquated as if it had been designed specifically to squelch creative thought.'

Is not surprising there's no passion for learning for many people due to 'forced' learning in the 'paper chase'.

Young S'poreans content with being just good, not the best
NUS survey finds many believe they do not need to learn


A SURVEY has shown that most younger Singaporeans aged 19 to 23 are satisfied with just being good & not the best, & that many believe they do not need to learn - even though most believe that learning is the key to success.

In the survey, the National University of Singapore quizzed 270 young people to find out how driven they are. It found that while 56.3% always want to win, only 3% are extremely competitive when it comes to winning.

The 3% rated their desire to win at nine or 10 on a 10-point scale - on which one meant 'strongly disagree' & 10 meant 'strongly agree'.

But 6% of those surveyed appear not to care about winning at all, having given a one or two-point rating to the statement, 'I always want to win'.

Most survey respondents are also willing to settle for just being good, & they would not go the extra mile to be the best.

About half of respondents said they would settle for being good & not seek to be the cream of the crop, with just 6% expressing a strong desire to be the best.

Another surprising result is that 54.1% of those surveyed disagreed that they need to learn - even though though 53% believed learning is the key to success.

And none of the respondents agreed strongly that they need to learn more.

While the results appear worrying, NUS business school associate professor Ang Swee Hoon, who did the study with a student, said there is a silver lining.

'That we also have a segment of youths who are not so competitive may appear disconcerting initially. However, if everyone strives to win all the time, then there will be disenchantment in some quarters,' she explained.

'Moreover, organisations have leaders and followers. Having a group of determined leaders followed by others more moderately driven & those less so makes for smoother running of most organisations.' Prof Ang said the apparent the lack of passion to learn - as compared with a keener desire to win - could mean young people here are 'satiated already given our education system'.

'A break in studies, like when they start working, may re-energise in them a yearning to learn,' she said.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Introvert-Unlikely Labor Leader?

World we live in today places more emphasis on extroverted traits especially in the workplace. Why put on a mask & try to be more extroverted when being yourself is effective as well? What is the driving factor for overcoming fear that 1 can be fired for leading the strike? It boils down to what's the worst case scenario that could happen & is it acceptable?

The duo are fired & from that experience i believe both are stronger with their courageous act & can survive without a big 'parent' like a corporation to look after them.

  • Change can come from unlikely places/persons.
  • Extroverts with their talkative mouth can be more fearful than you think at times.
  • Leadership is always in short supply.

Touching off a wave of strikes at Honda plants & other workplaces.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Dollar Cost Averaging is Useless in a Company Stock that's Bleak

Bleak prospect & still average down so as to buy more shares? This strategy doesn't make sense but is in many stock investment books as an easy strategy.

To put it in simpler terms: Do you Dollar Cost Averaging to buy more shares in a horse wagon company when that industry is in sunset?

Also downside to this strategy in S'pore is transaction cost - it enriches your broker on a somewhat regular basis. It might work for index funds but in my opinion is best to accumulate $ & buy during the recession rather than averaging. There's a season for 'planting' rather than planting all year round.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

No Train Between Clementi & Jurong East

No train services between Clementi & Jurong East over weekend due to upgrading. Passengers being ferried between the 2 stations with long bendy buses. I reckon it'll take 5-10mins longer.

What i like cycling especially to nearby places is that it gives me control & freedom. I find it rather foolish to throw my $ away for just 1 train station away. Timing is about the same after factoring in walking to station, waiting for train, depart station & walking to destination.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

HIV Test During Incamp Training

Compulsory HIV screening during ICT. Was told policy was implemented at start of this year to all conscripts, regulars & reservists in all branches. A Dr said 2% of blood tested at hospitals are infected.

Loathe getting pricked by needle & still have to take ippt later, however through this mean, is the best possible way to force large numbers of local males tested.

I got a feeling this HIV thing is creeping up faster than the flu pandemic if not why compel so many to be tested?

Friday, September 3, 2010

Deriving Weak Self-worth from Externalities

During ippt test at incamp training last week, a guy in my test group wore a JP Morgan singlet. 2 others commented on JP Morgan. He got that singlet while working there & partipating in a company outdoor event. Seem to have a nice feeling being associated with JP Morgan & others commentating on it.

Reminds me of Lehman Bros. Before financial crisis, people got a sense of prestige associated with it. Then bankruptcy & is like plague.

A simple t-shirt with Nike logo is marked up so much & i'm amazed at the suckers paying for it. Seems to me these people derive their self-worth from being identified with an external entity(eg namecard) like a corporation or logo.

Weak minded individuals get sucked in this keep up with the joneses madness aka consumerism.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Chipped-off Shoe from Cycling

Wore my new running shoes which has been worn twice for a cycling trip to Desaru. Was dismayed there's chip-offs at the end of 1st day (indicated in red). Never expect stress to be generated in that part of the shoe when cycling.

Rubber sole beneath chipped area on left shoe is hanging precariously. Luckily managed to make it home for superglue repair or else the pair is wasted. Seems simpler design is better.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Badminton Racquet in Backpack

I'm continually amused at the huge bags that many people carry for their badminton sessions. Seem like a herd mentality. For the 2 foreign players they just chuck their racquets into their backpack (same as me). Enough to hold my shoes & a t-shirt as well. Why would they want excess baggage?

Like McMansions the bags in recent years have balloon to same capacity as backpacking backpacks. Playing badminton or going backpacking overseas?

Even if the big bag is free when purchasing racquets i will think twice about it since it adds more to the clutter -occupy so much space...

Less is more.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Gift Vouchers

I find gift vouchers to be ideal instead of physical items. Find it amusing at times when i come across thread topics of people asking what gifts to buy in forums - what a hassle.

Eliminate worries of whether receiver will like the gift. Is a waste if the gift is something the receiver also has. In our increasing overcluttered homes i find it a waste (also email spam clutter).

Gift vouchers solves the 'headaches'. I personally like Popular Bookstore vouchers:
  • Many branches; easily accessible
  • Variety of items; there's bound to be something suitable
  • Vouchers are sort of like 'Red packets'

Best is let the person decide what he/she want to buy. Less clutter & environmentally friendlier.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

'Quality Education Doesn't Come Cheap' Fallacy

A reason given by the state for the hike in university fees is that is not cheap to provide quality education. The education sector is perhaps the slowest industry to adapt to changes/advances. With the internet the cost of delivering top notch education by experts around the world (which you can choose) has shrunk a great deal.

Instances of people sharing their expertise/advice is not uncommon on the internet.

Telling people that quality education doesn't come cheap is just to fool people into continuing paying exorbitant fees. Ratio in S'pore primary & secondary schools still range from 30-40 pupils to 1 teacher - doesn't like spending a lot.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Badly Entrenched Mindsets

Director of Lord of the Rings has a fine piece of wisdom which i come across on the extended version:
"When you are doing editing it is important to wipe your mind of any preconceptions. Don't try to justify decisions you made at the time because you had a justification for doing something 2 years ago when you shot it. Don't carry that baggage anymore. Just kind of sit back & be critical & just say: U don't know the story, characters, shooting it. You know, i'll love to have that total innocent lack of knowledge." -Peter Jackson
Many managers/ministers are heavily entrenched in their way of thinking & doing things because that's what got them to where they are. To do so otherwise would expose their incompetence in front of their subordinates & embarass them. More is at stake with their financial liabilities such as housing, car, kids etc which makes it even more difficult to dislodge their 'expired' thinking & try something new.

Often a lot of pain is needed to jerk them out of their comfort zone & think/do something new. Smart bosses tap the innocence of raw recruits cause they have no baggage & can look at a situation/problem with fresh angles.

I'm afraid this dreaded 'disease' is more prevalent among bureaucrats.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Faceless Cogs

Watching the Uruk-hai in 2 Towers extended version hit me about the faceless cogs in S'pore economy.
MM Lee dressed in white & out of touch with common folks
Saruman dressed in white & high in his tower. Treebeard complain

Uruk-hai breed for a single purpose- destruction of men
S'poreans most of which are breed to be faceless cogs to drive the economy

MM Lee's prized Orchard Road flooded twice
Saruman trapped in tower after flood

Remember MM Lee's eugenics comments about telling graduate mothers to give birth more? It reminds me of Saruman breeding the superior Uruk-hai which are stronger than orcs & goblins. I suppose the hobbits, dwarves, elves & men are considered 'lesser mortals' as well. Lesser mortals as we have been described as by a subordinate of MM Lee.

Then his recent no retire comments. Script bears bit of similarity to:

Uruk-hai fight to death.
S'poreans work till death.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Robbed in JB (Johor Babru)?

Local media portray the state capital of Johor as a dangerous place. No doubt it'll deter some from going there to shop to stretch their S$ further. Yes the crime rate is higher than that of S'pore.

At 1 time i was also brainwashed by the state media. Is only after i read a comment somewhere on the net that i 'woke up'. The argument is that we don't have to go JB to get rob cause we are getting robbed in broad daylight here in S'pore - countless hikes in transport, gst, utilities etc etc.

Practise simple common sense as in dressing simply to enjoy the higher purchasing power over there rather than blindly swallow the fear based message broadcast to us.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Overblown YOG budget enough for 2 LOTR movies

Just watched the extended version of Lord of the Rings movie & the thought of the impact of the movie cost compared to Youth Olympic Games which 88% of 6430 people voted 'Not interested at all'.

Pathetic ticket sales & much of the tickets were bought by Ministry of Education to get pupils to attend in a fake show of enthusiasm & support.

Back then a LOTR movie cost around US$95M each. With inflation factored in the overblown YOG budget (US$284M) is enough for 2 LOTR movies. When people think of LOTR they think of New Zealand with its magnificant landscapes. Impressions linger on for years & years.

Government's spend freely (taxpayers $) attempt to leave good impression has failed to garner local support. Compared to LOTR's impressive enjoyment & continued 'talk about' after the trilogy ended, YOG has already faded into the shadows before it even started.

Makes me wonder how a bloated bureaucracy spend $ compared to private filmmakers in creating 'experiences' for masses.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

No Watercooler - Boost Gdp

Heard a player mention that new community centres have no water cooler-make $ with vending machines. How true is that i have no idea but newer CCs like Buona Vista & Frontier have no watercoolers. Neither does old CC like Ayer Rajah.

No watercoolers will likely force badminton players to buy from vending machine. Rental space of machine = profit for CC. Watercooler = expense for CC. In addition:
  • Buy carbonated drinks = Gdp up
  • Diabetes from too much sugar drinks = Gdp up
  • See Dr & buy medication = Gdp up

I'm used to drinking plain water. I'll rather drink tapwater than pay inflated prices for those carbonated sugar drinks. $ saved can buy a 1.5l bottle instead just that is not chilled. Is a matter of whether your rational mind is doing your thinking when thirsty or your emotional mind.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Waiting for Suckers & Profit Maximisation is Name of the Game

Someone wrote to the paper about the Tanjong Pagar site. URA has stated they won't sell if highest bid is much lower than their est. value. I have no idea there's so many hotels in that area. Clearly the site is high risk for a hotel developer with many competitors already there.
"2 hotels are being built along Tanjong Pagar Road. 2 other sites within the vicinity have been earmarked for hotel development.

Add these to the 6 hotels currently operating within a 400m radius of the Tanjong Pagar MRT station & we are looking at a grand total of 11 hotels.

That is a little too much for an emerging residential neighbourhood. I urge the URA to allocate more land in the vicinity for street-level recreation & activities."- Toh Cheng Seong
There used to be a fountain in Clementi central. Together with bus interchange it is being torn down & building a mall with interchange. People used to gather around fountain to rest & socialise. Sadly there's no profit potential. Malls sprouting up like weeds around S'pore to maximise profit is the name of the game now. Street-level recreation & activities? Seem to me is mall-level recreation & shopping instead.

Consumerism instead of recreation. Consumer instead of citizen...

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Bureaucrats Waiting for Sucker to Buy

If highest bid is too much below their so called estimated value, then the other bidders are lesser. These are people in the trenches. They know the situation & risk better than those scholars in ivory towers.
"Land parcel will not be sold if the highest bid is too much below its estimated market value. The estimated market value is done on the day the tender closes."-URA on site next to Tanjong Pagar MRT
Government is just waiting for a sucker to pay top dollar for their so called 'estimated value'.

When site is sold at ridiculous price, the rentals will be high. An example is Sengkang's hawker centre cum market. Items are sold at higher price to cover the rents. End result is higher costs of living for those residents- for many of them no need to retire as per MM Lee's script.

Do you ask yourself how much of rental component are you paying when buying an item?

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Replaceable cogs with no brains

No explanation or the rules say so. At times this is what you get when a worker gets a job description & rules to follow- for many is just follow blindly & collect paycheck. Later the people up there in their ivory towers wonder why business is bad & later layoff the cogs.

Many managers like hiring team players - Yes man/woman who won't question their decisions or status quo. Many see those individuals who question as troublemakers.
"Website didn't make things clear so I called the YOG hotline. Person on the line said my 16-month-old son would be allowed in but, to my astonishment, she added that he required a ticket. I told her my son would be sitting on my lap and uestioned the rationale for insisting on a ticket for a toddler. She had no explanation for that but told me that children, regardless of age, required tickets & there was no concession for toddlers.

Can the YOG organisers explain why a toddler needs a $80 ticket to watch each ceremony when he won't be taking up a seat? It clearly does not make sense."- Esther Chia

Friday, July 30, 2010

Are you proud to be a consumer?

I find the term consumer getting more common nowadays. Given the declining health of Mother Nature i find the term repulsive. Is like eat & eat like pacman. Suburban malls have sprouted up like weeds & locusts swarms of consumers descent on it especially during weekends.

Even some people with no intention to buy go there just to be with the crowd as they are scared of loneliness/solitude. Even no intention to buy may get sucked into the frenzy as window shopping turn to real shopping.

Given the state that increasing numbers are stressed due to hectic worklife, more turn to shopping & consuming as a temporary way to destress & feel good. Of course it makes them more stressed later as their wallets are emptied. Vicious cycle continues & not many can get out.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

New Script - No Retirement Age for S'pore

I wonder if is a new script by MM Lee since many won't be able to retire with retirement savings aka CPF. Is vital to have something to do upon retirement having seen a friend's dad mainly watching tv at home after retired. We don't necessarily have to work if finances are managed wisely during our younger days.
"You work as long as you can work & you will be healthier & happier for it. If you ask me to stop working all of a sudden, I think I'll just shrivel up, face the wall & just that."-MM Lee
Prior to retirement is vital as well to have friends outside of workplace as colleagues are likely to be fleeting.
"Many of our workers have a preferred retirement, & then they die early! It won't be long before the message sinks home that if you keep doing what you're doing for almost the whole of your life, the chances are you will stay interested & engaged in life, there's something to do tomorrow & you keep going. If you start saying,'oh! I'm old!' And you start reading novels & playing golf or playing chess, well, you're on the way down."-MM Lee
On way down if read novels, play golf & chess? What nonsense. There's a retired man whom i come across who play badminton 5 times/week. Still in the pink of health. Another disconnect with his message is that many are disengaged workers. How can someone stay interested & engaged if doing something distasteful for most part of life?

What is down is probably GDP growth since it doesn't take into account leisure. In the search for relentless growth, as many old people are needed to keep working to keep gdp up & not be a burden to others.

Are you going to play out this new script?

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

What 'Team player' means in most cases

Quantitative Easing = Printing $
Team Player = Yes-Man/Woman

Another nice term to fool people. I find that the word 'team player' is often memtioned especially in low level & some mid level jobs. Ever wondered why there's often little creativity which is what is often needed in our increasingly commoditized world?

Often, many managers are looking for a yes-man or yes-women to work for them. Also many feel threatened by creative subordinates whom might supplant them during layoffs. As more & more of these insecure managers fill up with yes-man subordinates, the company gets increasingly bogged down.

Also i'm amused with such terms:
  • team player with initiative
  • independent team player

To me is contradictory as is likely that yes-men are unlikely to be with initiative or independent. Hitler surrounded himself with many yes-men & we know what happens.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Are u still brainwashed by GDP Fetishism?

A lady has written to the paper about govt's gdp obsession on Fri titled "GDP does not reflect standard of living fully".
I REFER to Nominated MP Viswa Sadasivan's speech in Parliament, reported on Wednesday ('Look beyond GDP for true measure of welfare'), where he called on the Government to track indicators beyond Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

Measuring GDP is important as it provides knowledge of the amount of goods and services produced by our economy.

However, its shortcomings as a measure of standard of living have been well documented, most notably by Nobel Prize economics laureate Joseph Stiglitz.

GDP puts no value on leisure. Therefore, a society that works longer hours will have a higher GDP, but it may not score in human measurements like education and health.

It does not capture the work done in the non-paid sector. This includes volunteer work, parenting and household chores, all of which are essential for the well-being ofa functioning and gracious society.

It is also a measurement that ignores the impact of productive activities on the environment. This is because negative effects are not taken into account in the calculation of increased utility.

An extreme and perverse example is the recent BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. A disaster like that would actually increase GDP, because to clean up the spill, jobs are created, while measures to mitigate the harm also boost GDP.

There have been attempts to develop credible alternatives to GDP. Examples include the United Nations Human Development Index, which combines GDP with health and education measurements, and the Happy Planet Index, which combines life expectancy, life satisfaction and how environmentally sustainable a country's economic activity is.

Nonetheless, many of these measurements are often dismissed by governments, and it may take some time before measurements like Bhutan's Gross National Happiness gain credibility.

In the meantime, a simple step towards looking beyond GDP is simply to recognise that it was never designed to be an indicator of an economy's welfare; it was simply intended to measure the economy.

Seah Su Chen (Ms)

Sadly many people are brainwashed by relentless propaganda on gdp up, up & up messages rampant in mass media. Swallow & swallow the messages.

GDP of course will grow when we need "Eat with Family Day" govt campaign to get people go home eat dinner with family launched in early 2000s.
  • Work long hrs, gdp up
  • Buy food after work, gdp up
  • Little time for kids & hire maid, gdp up
  • Little time for spouse & get divorce lawyer, gdp up
  • Shop for new spouse, gdp up
  • Little time exercise fall sick buy medicine, gdp up
  • Fall too sick & die. Buy coffin, gdp up

With all these, how can gdp not up & up & up?

Present govt's mentality is grow at all cost. Cancer type of growth also good. Can grow can already.

See also: French President attacks GDP Focus.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Spit along Sungei Pandan - Probably only 1 in S'pore?

Probably the only spit among the small rivers in S'pore. Flooded during heavy rains, it is formed along a small river bend when flow of water is slower on the 'shorter inner bend' thus sediments are deposited.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Wheeler Bicycles - U never expect is from.....

Undiscovered gem. I came across Wheeler bicycles from my local bike shop which is pretty rundown. However looks are deceiving! I checked the bikes online & was absolutely amazed at the description. I especially like the brief on:

  • Intended Use
  • Terrain
  • Style of riding
  • Posture
  • Priorities from a rider's perspective

Such briefs are especially helpful for buyers. I'm shocked that is from a taiwanese company! They sure are competitive in presenting themselves that i was fooled into thinking is a US bike manufacturer.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Sold boardgame. Clearing off clutter

Sold it for $53. Buyer wants 2nd-hand to save $$, i clear off clutter in my bedroom. Is a relief now that the space is empty cause i put it on the floor beside the shelf which is full.

At times we need to ask ourselves before we buy an item:
  • it is going to be used often?
  • can i borrow it instead?
  • need more clutter in our life?
  • what's the likely environmental impact?

Often times, buying an item only makes us happy temporarily. Some people buy stuff just to fill up the unhappiness/disatisfaction in their lives.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Oldie Shop at Tanglin Halt

An old shop located in Tanglin Halt. Is an old estate with many old folks. Being there seems to be going back in time. Other than Pulau Ubin i doubt there's any oldies like this left. With the presence of quite a no. of elderly i feel a slower pace of life there.

2 hawker centres flank this old shop (front & back). I seriously doubt there'a any place in S'pore where there are 2 hawker centres a stone's throw away from each other.