Saturday, December 31, 2011

Causeway Smooth Flowing on 1st Night of a 3 Day Long Weekend

Last day of 2011 & is on a sat with monday being a public holiday so i'm not surprised there isn't any jam. Jam would be back tomorrow especially for those with kids to have a day to get the kids ready for a new school year. Looks like i have much reduced fear of a jam while coming back at such time during a 3 day long weekend.

Decay in Morals as More People Mutated into Consumers

Govt urge parents to pay more attention to children's moral education. This is perhaps the last message from a top govt leader in 2011. Many people have mutated from citizens to consumers. What difference between citizen & consumer?

Govt is also partly to blame with its mentality of grow gdp at all costs like cancer. Shopping malls sprout up like weeds across this tiny island & overconsumption is a result of it. People see so much in malls so they tend to buy more inclusive of impulse buying. How many people actually go to a mall with a specific product in mind?

Market-created values of selfishness, instant gratification, perpetual discontentment & constant consumption have become diametrically opposed to the values most adults want to teach their children.

Greed & materialism have infected many young people carrying these ill habits into adulthood. These kids don't feel like their lives would be worth anything unless they have the hottest product that's being sold in the marketplace.

Habits of thrift & frugality is becoming rare as the mutation goes on.

Friday, December 30, 2011

3 Life Simplifying Adjustments in 2011 That Saves Me $$

As 2011 draws to a close what new adjustments have i made with regard to simpifying my life without spending much $$? I can safely say the following 3 adjustments:

Cutting my hair in JB
At RM10 a cut & the default cut is shorter than what i get in S'pore. What's more there a brief massage. Awesome value for $$ which cannot be found in S'pore. A day trip to JB is an outlet to destress, slow down & spend on some of the stuff i've been holding back in rent high S'pore.

Not buying a single book
Is more primarily space constraints due to my already burgeoning library at home. This year i just borrow from library. If is a good book i read it a 2nd time before returning it. Still a $$ saver.

Not watching a single program on tv
No point watching a 1hr show where around 15mins of it are commercials. That's like spending 25% of the time(what a waste) being programmed by advertisers enticing me to buy this buy that.

Eliminating Bedbugs Without Calling Expensive Pestbusters

These bloodsucking critters are an annoying nuisance. Once a house is infested it can be tough to get rid of them. I've gotten rid of them without engaging the services of costly pestbusters.

Insecticides are pretty useless so your weapon of choice would be heat & open field engagement.

You need not look all over the house for bedbugs as they generally nest near food source (which is you). They are attracted by body heat & carbon dioxide you breath out so you & your family members are practically 'bedbug magnets'.

They normally nests where you would be for prolonged periods of time (e.g. computer area, sofa, bed, etc). Bed bugs want to live near you, so you probably won't find them in your toilet unless you been there a lot .

So to deal with them, instead of trying to stay clear of them, welcome them to you. Steam your sofa/bed/chair/table/wardrobe every 2-3 days. In a few days you should see dramatic improvement but to get rid of them 100% will still take quite some time.

To kill as many crawling ones, use yourself as magnet by sitting on floor & read a book at night. On the ligths-it doesn't matter. Do a quick scan of the floor like after finish reading a page. Kill as many crawling ones as you can while they crawl over the exposed floor with tissue/toilet paper. You might still be bitten. Look around your clothes too as they probably take cover in your clothes after their blood feast.

Hunt & destroy their eggs(look at small rice beads) with hot water. Soak your pillow case, bedsheet etc in hot water. Object where many eggs are found can either be discarded to subject to hotwater treatment(soaking is best if can be done). Splash hotwater into small crevices to kill those hiding. Use a hotair blower to dry the area afterwards.

Spending a few hundred on pestbusters does not necessarily rid your house of those nasty critters. Approach i've used can achieve similar if not better results without blowing a hole in your wallet.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Mass Return After a Longer Weekend From JB

A longer weekend means a quick getaway from crowded S'pore. I was expecting the jam at the causeway back to S'pore to commence after 9:15pm. I was off the mark. The massive jam started at 10pm+ & at 1am the massive jam was still ongoing.

Look at how deserted it was for the side back to S'pore in late afternoon. A dining feast is highly recommended in Johor since prices are literally like half of S'pore. Why bother paying the frickin' high rent? Load up the stomach with good food at value for $$ prices before returning.

But hordes of people started squeezing back at around the same time... I bet many of those stuck in the jam have trouble staying awake at work today.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

S'pore's Long-term Decline

According to Harry Dent, based on demographics alone S'pore will go into long-term decline after this immigration boom. The writing is already on the wall especially over the past few years with infrastructure bursting at the seams from a flood of people allowed into this minuscule island.

I like the following 2 drawings from thecartoonpress:

Population + productitivty = Economic Growth
Input(people) driven type of gdp growth. Productivity in S'pore is low compared to other countries. What's left is by increasing people to drive up consumption. A short-sighted approach instead of adopting a long-term approaching of more productivity through automation, better trained personnel.

Obsession on gdp growth as sole indicator of success for current ruling government... nevermind is cancer type of growth. Flood in more & more people to buy & throw, buy & throw in order to drive sales. I find it sickening from Mother Nature's point of view.

As the years go by...
Pigoenholes get smaller & smaller & smaller while prices are rising & rising & rising.
Bigger & bigger & bigger loans in order to afford it while income are less & less & unstable.

Economy needs to create more paycheck slaves via housing loans & squeeze them into smaller & smaller sized pigeonholes in a volatile environment we now live in.

The coming climate crisis will force a rethink of this unsustainable & unhealthy model of economic growth.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Sucky Giveaways of Safe Cycling Jerseys -OCBC Marketing Sucks

I'm not a fan of short sleeve jerseys after being tanned rather bad from the 2 Msian rides. This free jersey giveaway piqued my interest. I surfed for more details & read about complaints for the petrol kiosks giveaways. It struck me as real dumb by the organisers as i read the complaints.

- Only 5 jerseys to giveaway. People don't know is so pathetic.
- 2 girls are stationed at the gas station for 3hrs but the jerseys are gone in <10mins

Complaints are not addressed. Instead people are told to go collect the free jerseys on a Sat morning at a central location whereby 1000 jerseys are to be given out.

What economic sense is there to hire & deploy 2 gals for 3hrs when the stuff is gone in <10mins? How to accomodate people's sizes when only 5 jerseys are given out? If extra different sizes are brought along to fit the person doesn't it make sense to give them away as well since the folks have already make the effort to go down collect?

The withholding of more details of the giveaways as well as sizing chart for the jerseys has marred the event. Simple common sense info & yet are not given out. What's so difficult in giving out these basic details?

This is how a bank like OCBC does their marketing to promote safe cycling...

Sunday, December 11, 2011

$1 Bobo Hitam(Black Rice) Dessert

Eyes are tired from prolonged looking at books & lcd screen. How to relax eye muscles? Decided to go for a short leisure ride for dessert to Tanglin Halt Hawker Ctr after dinner. Eye muscles are relaxed while looking far during riding.Value for $$ stuff while supporting local hawkers. Is an outlet for release for my pent-up pressure as i tend to hold back on many purchases in S'pore due to high rental component in the prices of stuff.

Looks like is the end of the road for this old sony digital camera with that blurred picture. Snap button not responsive which i got it repaired 5 years ago is back again. Doubt i'll repair again. With advances in technology is better to get a better replacement. I don't mind generic brands this time round. Branded product may not neccessary be good. It may be a lie we tell ourselves.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Devious Move to Build Smaller Pigeon Hole Flats

I have mentioned about the accumulating tons of crap & clutter collecting dust in our homes previously in a sept blog entry. Now the state controlled media announced tat HK based Storefriendly is opening its storage business in S'pore.

Read why that storage business is entering S'pore (i've bolded it) & you'll realise the misleading answer given out by the woman in charge of S'pore 's public housing govt agency. She skirts around the complaints of tiny pigeon dwellings by telling others that living space is increased despite smaller flat sizes due to smaller household size. What she didn't tell everyone is that smaller household size is replaced by bigger size of clutter at home. With so much shopping malls luring people to buy, buy, buy in order to spur superconsumption, how many people can resist? Furthermore there's the temptation to keep up with the joneses as well as people using retail therapy to buy tempoary happiness from their overworked stressed lives.

In the end you'll realise that by building smaller pigeon dwellings, more & more people are forced to pay for storage solutions to store their accumulating stuff. Gdp up again. Imagine peope working their asses off to pay rental to store stuff collecting dust elsewhere which they seldom use. Instead of them owning the stuff, it seem the stuff owns them instead.

Is a reason i'm no fan of shopping malls with its buy, buy buy 'sirens'. Why spend unnecessary $$? Why have more stuff pile up & collect dust at home? Why spend time cleaning & maintaining it? Why complicate our lives?

State Media report:
As the average apartment size in Singapore shrinks so does the space people have to keep their stuff.

The trend is attracting a new wave of companies that rent out storage space.

Hong Kong-based Storefriendly opened its first franchised outlet in Singapore on Friday.

It aims to have 25 operating across the country by 2014.

Jes Johansen, Managing Director at Storefriendly, said: "We believe that Singapore is ripe in that apartment size is getting smaller. People consistently accumulate a lot of things, they want to have access to them and we believe with the small storage conveniently located, air conditioned, they will make use of that, they will appreciate that product right in their neighbourhood.

Storefriendly's 12,500 square foot outlet at Bukit Batok comprises about 300 secure lockers.

They will cost between $88- $888 dollars per month to rent, depending on the size.

The company says it has the largest network in Asia, with 90 branches through Hong Kong, China and Macau.

It opens a new franchise on average every month, and this year its revenue jumped 50% to S$60 million.

The top 4 existing operators in Singapore control the majority of the industry's approximately 17,000 storage units or 1 million square feet of net lettable area.

With a population of 5 million in Singapore, Storefriendly says that will translate into an industry penetration of 0.25 square feet of self-storage space per person or one storage unit per 250th person.

By contrast, the penetration in more developed markets is above 1 square foot per person or about 80 people per storage unit.

Singapore therefore has the capacity for further organic growth in the self-storage industry.

Another industry player, Lock and Store says consumer demand in Singapore is growing 5 percent a year, in view of the smaller properties being built.

Dare Not Tell Truth Reply:
Shrinking size of public flats here has not lowered Singaporeans' quality of living, according to Housing and Development Board's (HDB) CEO Cheong Koon Hean. Speaking to reporters on the sidelines of a housing forum yesterday, Dr Cheong noted that there are now fewer people living in one flat which works out to increased living space per person.

"Our families are smaller. In the old days, we have very large families living in a flat. Today, the family is 2, 3, 4 (people)," she said.

As a result of rising land costs and the need to keep flats affordable, the size of HDB flats has shrunk by 5 to 10 per cent over the last 2 to 3 decades. For example, a 5-room flat in Bukit Batok Central built in 1989 has a floor area of 121 sq m, compared to 110 sq m for a similar unit built in 2003.

Based on official surveys, the average household size was 3.5 last year. In 1980, it was 4.9.

This means an occupant of a 110 sq m 5-room flat today will have 31 sq m of space, while a resident of a 121 sq m 5-room flat in the '80s had about 25 sq m of space. Dr Cheong added that interior design also plays a part in creating good living space.

"In many global cities of the world or big cities, people do pay attention to how they do the inside of the flat as well as optimising the use of furniture and storage. It can be a very comfortable living environment," she said.

PropNex chief executive Mohamed Ismail concurred with Dr Cheong: "The modern Singapore family is much smaller & living in a bigger place compared to previous generations, and with amenities. The quality of life is not affected."

Mr Ismail added: "And people have a choice to buy 3, 4 or 5-room flats."

Still, Mr Ismail noted that with the high property prices, the lower income with many children will be most affected as they have "no choice but to buy within their means, and that means a smaller flat".

Friday, December 9, 2011

Status Quo In Organisations - Monkeys Parable

You may laugh after looking at the cartoon. However is on hindsight. Such scenarios of how things are being done in organisations exist. Power of the 'crowd' cannot be underestimated. The more monkeys (resistance) there are the slower things are to change. Small companies often 'run around' big companies with their bureaucracies as their bigger group of monkeys stick to the status quo to hamper change.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Locusts Swarms of Crowd - Marathon

Look at the seemingly endless stream of locusts swarms of crowd taking part in the marathon. Train services are run into the wee hours of the night to bring runners to & back.

I dislike taking part in these mass events. Paying to take part & squeeze with countless others doesn't make sense to me. As if squeezing during commuting to work on roads or public transport or crowd infested malls is not enough during our normal lives...

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Mushrooming of Pawnshops All Over S'pore like Weeds

More & more pawnshops all over the tiny island. Just in Clementi alone where i stay there are 5 pawnshops at the town centre within 300m of each other! It indicates 3 things:

- people buying things beyond their means
- liquidating items in desperate bid to clear bills & debts
- people gambling with their hard-earned $$ which they can ill-afford to lose.

1 pawnshop

2 pawnshops

3,4 pawnshops(competitors next to each other)

5 pawnshops

Huge part of the economy is debt driven. Is already a matured economy. How much further can an economy grow when many people are already in debt up to their eyeballs?

In the area of Buona Vista, the pawnshop(below pic) is situated right beside the bank with its ATM machines...... As if bank account is dry there is pawnshop...

Tons of bad debt among the populace.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Horrified at Gloomy Kallang Replacement Flats

Residents at the blks of Rochor Centre were ordered by the government to vacate their flats for the land to be converted to an expressway. I'm appalled after looking at the replacement flats given to them at nearby kallang.

What's wrong with the flats? Well the 3 blks are triangular in shape & is safe to assume the hanged clothes area is on the inner face of the triangle. There is almost no sunlight for the residents to dry their washed clothes & socks. Kitchen area & 1 of the bedroom is dark since the sunlight is blocked out due to the triangular tall shaped design. Isn't that gloomy?

Increased quality of life? More like an even worse packed pigeon hole.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Johor Bahru Chinese Heritage Museums

2 chinese related museums near the customs & immigration complex. In my opinion if you have time for 1 it is better to visit the JB Chinese Heritage Museum(pic above) facing the sea located near ocbc bank. It has 4 stories of exhibits & the top floor is dedicated to Sun Yat Sen when i last visited.

Other museum is Kwong Siew Museum(pic below) located beside Esso petrol station with the police station behind. Exhibits are located on 2nd floor. Many of the exhibits there are not protected by glass enclosures due to lack of funds in running the museum. How to protect theft & vandalism of old antiques? There is a man who will go up to the 2nd floor exhibits with you to make sure the items are ok. Thus you get the feeling of a person within sights watching you instead of cameras at the chinese heritage museum.

Admission fee is RM5 for both. 9am-5pm. Both are closed on Mon.

135.5km Ride to Kluang

This is my furthest ride to date & also the most tiring. 7 of us went for the ride & i was the last for much of the journey. At times it was demoralising when the riders in front of me are nowhere in sight especially after a few bends & mild slopes. At the later stages voices of whether i can make it are swirling in my head. Allthough the terrain is relatively flat, i was advised by the experienced organiser to switch to a smaller chainring & just spin to avoid muscle cramp instead of pedaling on the biggest chainring.

I had little appetite for lunch & had porridge instead. Guess my body is not used to cycling this sort of long distance at a fairly fast(to me) pace. The gear shifters on my entry level bike suck too so i'm stuck with some pedaling inefficiencies.

We stayed for the night at Anika Inn hotel at RM60. Dinner at a nearby eatery is fantastic value for $$. We order quite a no. of dishes & it works out to be around RM11 for each person's bill. Luohanguo drink is RM1!! Is amazing that the further we cycle from s'pore even in the Msian state of johor the cost of living gets lower & lower.

Look at tiny S'pore. Distance to Kluang is a few times the north-south distance of minuscule s'pore.

Another lady & a guy along with me decided to take a cab back to S'pore. The guy didn't have enough sleep the night before as he was working & worrying about his business. The lady had ridden till leg muscle cramp. Though i didn't have any cramp i feel i'm near my limits & is better not to push & overexert myself by riding back. Besides is not nice to be a burden & slow down the other 4 riders over such a long distance. Cab fare was RM160 (RM100 to JB, RM60 to sg's queen st).

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Overpriced OCBC Cycle Rides

Read that ocbc cycle 2012 got new category call super challenge 61km @$140. I consider it frickin expensive. The 2 msian rides by cycling freaks i joined this year so far is only a fraction of the costs & i get to enjoy msian scenery with little/no traffic lights. The ocbc ride organiser point out the riders can enjoy the S'pore skyline. That's a bunch of crap as it can be easily done by riding in the late night or wee hours at night or early morning during the weekends.

S'pore is crowded enough so why should i pay an absurb price to ride & squeeze with countless others?

Kids ride 5km @$42. Tricycle 100m ride for kids learning to cycle @$26- frickin absurb. Fools with $ to flush down the toilet would take part in these rides.

Although the ride is an event to promote cycling, the prices are considered excessive. It'll mostly draw those who like the crowd atmosphere as well as those joining the criterium to compete with others. Other than that is better to give the ride a miss & put the money to better uses.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Confusion About Meaning of Introverts & Extroverts

It seems many people are confused about the meaning of introverts & extroverts. So introverts attempt to act like an extrovert especially during work due to the social stigma. Being quiet, shy or spending a lot of time at home does not mean one is an introvert, Similarly being able to talk a lot doesn't necessarily means one is an extrovert.

An introvert is one who by choice prefers to be in the company of a few friends or alone & feels happier doing so, while extroverts are those who prefer the company of many people. Introverts get their energy & recharge by being in their more private world.

An extrovert is one who is more outgoing & would prefer to have more friends to hang out with rather than stay at home. Extroverts derive & recharge their energy by being in the 'outside' world.

Colleagues find me strange as i don't often hang out with them especially during lunchtime. Being frugal is a reason as i like to eat alone as i can control my meal expenses instead of spending unnecessary in the company of others. Finding a seat is easier for a lone diner too. Another reason is i prefer time to be alone.

There happens to be quiet spots beside the railway tracks (now dismantled) near where i like to go for lunch. Occasionally i'll rest here & have some quiet time & watch the train pass by before heading back to the workplace.

I'm not the only one who likes peace & quiet time. Look at the hammock & the rattan furniture.

Flooding in Clementi After Heavy Rain

In all my years of living in clementi, i've never seen anything like this which i'm totally shocked when such pictures surfaced on STOMP (site where unusual 'snaps' are posted).

Road literally become a canal & nearby hawker centre also flooded. It can be attributed to climate change or too much development in S'pore & inadequate drainage or simply both. Present economic model based on consumption & waste which many governments around the world are obsessed with are literally digging mankind's grave. Is not quantity of consumption but quality & happiness model of economic growth yardstick which ought to be adopted.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

84km Night Ride

Tiny island of S'pore. My original intention is to ride to see the newly opened northern phase of Punggol Waterfront located the the northeastern part of the island & then join a group's 85km counter-clockwise ride back home.

But alas i kind of lost my way at Toa Payoh near Braddell road. Flipped through the map & rode my way up to Punggol via Upper Serrangoon road. Again i wasted more time trying to figure out the route upon reaching Sengkang. In the end although i manage to ride to the main entrance of the park connector to Punggol waterfront i didn't have time to see the northern opened areas. I detoured & headed for Jln Kayu to join a group.

When the group reached MacDonalds at West Coast Highway i broke off from the group & headed home. I manage to clock 84km. Close to the group's 85km ride as they continue their ride home to the northeast.

Why Buying IPO Stocks is Dangerous

I'm of the opinion that buying ipo stock is dangerous. Mindset of companies is to raise as much $ selling shares & thus it is of their self-interest to paint a rosier picture to suck investors in. Is like a lady putting on lipstick, thick makeup & a pushup bra to make appearance better than it is to lure people's eyes.

Market is always there. There is no need to get excited about IPO stocks.

What caught my attention is the warning about shrinking in non-resident population. This factor applies to other businesses in S'pore. Govt is just force feeding population figures to keep the gdp churning without much regard to social & quality of life costs. Instead of encouraging more automation & moving up the tech ladder, the current govt likes to import many foreigners. After all the govt likes foreigners to consume, consume, consume to drive the demand. How much can automated consume compared to cheaper workers who need to consume food, consume services in red-light districts, consume bus & train services?

When the non-citizens start leaving the country, you can bet on a fire sale when prices come crashing down.

Sheng Siong Q3 net profit drops 50.9%
After a blazing debut on the SGX on August 17, Singapore supermarket operator Sheng Siong has disappointed somewhat with its first quarterly results.

Sheng Siong registered a net profit of S$6.6 million, down 50.9 per cent year-on-year. Revenue fell 9.3% to S$146.2 million.

The supermarket chain said the decline in profit was primarily due to an absence of investment gains for the period after it closed 2 outlets at Ten Mile Junction last November and Tanjong Katong two months ago.

Both outlets were closed as the buildings they occupied were sold for re-development.

While it will be actively looking for suitable shop spaces to open new stores, particularly in population centres where it does not have a presence, it said revenue growth in the industry may be affected if there is shrinkage in the non-resident population as a result of any slowdown in economic activities.

Sheng Siong share price jumped 70% over its IPO launch price of 33 cents to peak at 56 cents with investors confident of its business model.

Its IPO was oversubscribed by approximately 1.3 times.

The group opened two new but smaller outlets at Elias Mall in January this year and Teck Whye in May.

It is scheduled to open another 2 outlets in Woodlands Industrial Park and Thomson Imperial Court by the end of the year.

CEO Lim Hock Chee said the completion of the Mandai Link Distribution Centre in May has given Sheng Siong the much-needed warehousing capacity to engage in more gross margin enhancing initiatives like direct sourcing and bulk purchasing of goods.

In its press release, Sheng Siong warned of growth stalling amid the economic uncertainty.

It said: "One of the drivers of revenue growth in the industry is increase in population, which may be affected if there is shrinkage in the non-resident population as a result of any slowdown in economic activities.

"The industry is expected to remain competitive. One of our competitors is reported to be opening 10 more outlets before the end of 2011."


Again let's look at CapitaMalls Asia which i have mentioned in my previous blog posts which ipo at $2.12 . Same story as in investors got suckered in with the nice 'story' sold to them. What happened after the initial hype & euphoria can easily be seen from the chart:

Monday, November 7, 2011

79km Western S'pore Ride

What interest me is the Tuas south portion which i never went to. Encounter headwinds at Jln Ahmad Ibrahim & southwards direction journey into Tuas. Barb wire ring the perimeter of deserted Tuas south. I have always wanted to take a look at Tuas south area but is pretty boring riding alone. Going in too big a group is not to my taste either. This ride's group size of 7 is comfortable for me as well as the organiser.

Following photos are taken by the organiser Chua Tien Seng:

Barb wire perimeter. Notice the many ships off the coast.

Barb wire as deterence against illegal immigrants approaching by sea vessels.

End of Tuas South Ave 7 where barb wire fences are seen in background. It might be extended should land reclaimation goes on.

Monday, October 31, 2011

S'pore Residents Definition

Titanic relics exhibition is being held here. Price at $20 is considered steep for me as when i first saw the price my brain immediately pull out the price i paid for the bicycle adventure trip to Kukup, Malaysia -RM90 inclusive of overnight stay at a homestay chalet, bbq dinner, breakfast, lunch & boat ride to Kelong(floating fish farm).

Again my brain tells me i have a better bang for the buck in terms of experience & memories despite paying lower compared to the price of the Titanic exhibition. A family with 2 teenagers will be paying $80 which to me is costly for most people in S'pore.

High pricing of the ticket is a matter but what intrigues me is the how come residents is used instead of citizens? Isn't it any wonder more & more citizens are disenfranchised with the incumbent govt? Instead of being treated as citizens people are merely treated as digits/cogs in the economic machine. Country or corporation?

The way residents instead of citizens price being used simply shows the worldview of the current incumbent govt. Notice how residents is thrown together from a myriad of sources.

It is also the way statistics are done by the incumbent govt by throwing everything together to paint a rosier picture to fool the ignorant instead of disclosing the real figures for each category like citizens, PR, work permits etc.

Humongous Lifeforce Thrown Away Watching Ads during Drama 爱

Taiwanese soap drama 爱 ended its run on S'pore tv not long ago. It has a humongous run of like 776 episodes here. While it is admirable that the drama can attract so many viewers despite its long long run i can't help but wonder how much time viewers have thrown away due to commercials.

Assuming an episode is 45mins here during a 1hour slot, there is about 15mins of commercial. Multiplied by 776 episodes & is 11640mins which is 194hours of pure commercial watching. Many people lament about being drained of energy after a day's work & the number of leave days for many workers in S'pore is around 14 days annual leave.

Well guess what? 194 hours is around 1 month of working hours exclusive of lunchtime. Time wasted on watching commercials during the drama's long run is almost equivalent to a month's break for huge majority of working class.

Little by little it might not seem much by over time the life thrown away watching commercials really adds up. Same goes for saving money.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

'Zebra' from Suntan After Long & Sunny Day Cycling

I sure need more clothing covering my skin. After 2 cycling trips in Johor, Malaysia i've become a 'zebra' especially for my feet & upper legs. The suntan is so obvious. For the feet it is because i'm wearing sandals instead of shoes. I wore sandals as sandals are versatile & if wearing shoes & cycling in the rain it becomes an inconvenience if i didn't bring along sandals or slippers.

For the upper legs it is obvious i'm wearing the usual cycling shorts. Now i seriously need to consider getting long cycling pants or at least in the meantime abstain from long & strong daytime cycling for the skin colour to hopefully 'normalise'.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

PAP Policies Vicious Cycle Flowchart

Remarkable in its simplicity. Less is more. Why bother writing an essay of words when a simple flowchart will do? Someone who contributed this flowchart to a socio-political website has succinctly sum up why he voted against the incumbent party. Its current policies are now a vicious cycle.

The part on keeping citizens loyal through high land prices is a form of modern slavery through 30years mortgage in an increasingly volatile economic climate. In the end how much savings is left as being reflected in a survey on S'porean savings after the bulk of retirement funds is used for a 99 year leasehold flat?

The high costs of doing business has made many businesses increasingly uncompetitive. What value is that in buying stuff as i've written many posts on paying for a big rental component?

Inflating the costs of public(also drives up private) housing to transfer citizen's retirement funds into the country's treasury which is control by a certain family. Just on demographics alone with aging population & low fertility rate, S'pore is already on track for long-term decline. Addressing the demographic issue through temporary stop-gap measure through immigrants is not sustainable as immigrants themselves are subjected to the same vicious conditions in time to come.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Individuals Partly Responsible: Insufficient savings put the frowns on S'poreans

In a consumerism driven & keeping up with the joneses society where too many people spend money they haven't earned, to buy things they don't want, to impress people they don't like, the results of the survey is hardly surprising.

The mushroom like growth of moneylenders till the govt needs to control the legality of the business is written in plain view for all to see. As if that isn't enough the 'locusts swarm filled shopping malls' is endemic of the consume, consume, consume culture.

People who spend money wantonly are people i avoid being close friends with to avoid being contaminated by their foolish money habits & mindset. Choose your friends wisely & avoid peer pressure as much as possible to do unwise stuff. At times it is better to be lonely than to be with bad company. It seems frugal folks like me are in the minority in S'pore.

Singaporeans rate their personal savings as the area they are most unhappy with, according to a study called "The Happiness Report".

Conducted by global communications firm, Grey Group, the study found that nearly half of the respondents reported a lack of sufficient savings in the last 6 months.

Second area that respondents said they were least happy with was personal expenditure over the last half year, garnering 40.5% of responses.

Next 3 areas that made Singaporeans unhappy were their confidence in the economy (27%), job satisfaction (23%), and work-life balance (21%).

The study was conducted in June this year with 200 respondents aged 18 to over 60.

The study also revealed the top 5 things that Singaporeans were most happy about.

Area of residence topped the happiness index, with about 78% ranking Singapore as the best place to stay in the world.

Close family ties ranked second (74%), spirituality came in third, while social support networks took 4th spot and personal time rounded off the top 5 on the happiness index.

The study also discovered that baby boomers (45-49 years old) were the happiest people with an overall net happiness score of 11.4%, 4.6 percentage points higher than the young adult segment (18-29 years old).

It also found that men were happier than women at the workplace, with 46.08% of men found to be happy at their jobs as compared to 37.75% for women.

Shirley Ang, an account manager, said: "In schools these days, it's very competitive, so everyone's competing with each other, challenging each other.

"Back during the days of baby boomers and all, it was probably an easier life in a way. Hard in terms of earning money, but easier in terms of (the amount of) stress they are feeling from society."

Friday, October 21, 2011

1st 3 Groceries/Snacks Purchases at Tesco, Msia

Looking to make the trip more fruitful besides cutting hair, watching movies & eating at coffeeshops, the following are my first 3 purchases at Tesco in Johor. UO Superstore at Plaza Kotaraya has moved out since the mall is renovating. Between Tesco & Jusco it seems Tesco has more items that are cheaper. With a Tesco outlet at KSL mall which is nearer i've signed up for their clubcard to accumulate points for discount later.

-----Tesco@KSL (per unit price)
Tesco 1.5l Root Beer RM1.99
Kimball Medium Thai Chilli RM2.59

Root beer is irresistible because when converted back is S$0.81! How does it taste? Well it loses out compared to A&W Root Beer but given the price i can't complain.

-----Tesco@Bkt Indah (per unit price)
Mouse RM16.90
Tomato Beans RM1.99
Kim Large Thai Chilli RM2.99

Baked beans in tomato sauce on sale which converted back is S$0.81. Never tried this brand before nor seen it before. Acceptable taste so it is an awesome value for $ purchase!

-----Tesco@KSL (per unit price)
Tesco Chocolate bar-Fruit & Nuts RM5.9
Tesco 1.5l Orange softdrink RM1.99
Mister Potato Chips BBQ RM3.70
KF Sardine RM2.59
Cloud 9 Chocoloate filled with caramel, soft nougat & nuts RM3.29

Tesco chocolate bar is something i venture to give this house brand a try. Who says house brand is lousy? I find it value for $$ compared to an established brand like Cadbury.

No root beer flavor on sale & only orange softdrink for Tesco housebrand. Bought 2 bottles to experiment. Haven't drink so no comments yet.

Can of sardine is around S$1. Is it too good to be true? Again no comments as haven't open & eat yet.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Using Stuff Till Worn Out

Maximizing usage after buying it. In corporate terms is call amortizing the purchase over like say 2,3,4 or 5 years. But how often do individuals amortize the stuff they buy instead of just discarding & replacing it while the item is still in working condition?

450W power supply unit for computer. Usage: 5years 3mths. The fan has failed like 3-4mths back & the cpu casing tower can feel the increased heat as i touch it. The final straw to replace it came when it takes 3 tries just to power up the computer - on & off after like 3-4secs, on & off after like 3-4 secs then finally on.

Bicycles gloves. A cheap pair that i have used for just over a year. What i found out is that whether is a more expensive pair or cheapo pair the place that gets worn out for me is the same places- between thumb & index fingers areas (right glove)then spreading out.

Using stuff till they finally 'give up' not only maximises the purchase value, you also contribute less trash & waste than others. Good for the planet. You might even have less clutter in your home when old stuff just collect dust after you bought a more fanciful newer & usually more expensive version.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

High Rental- Even Starbucks Feeling the Heat

This is probably the only Starbucks in S'pore whose premises is booth-like as far as i know. Other outlets are in shopspaces. Why? High rental after the mall is bought by the govt owned media monopoly - S'pore Press Holdings. It also begs the question how come a media company is dabbling in property?

High rental is killing many business since it is a fixed cost. Property bubble in turn causes rental to rise which increases the cost of living. 2 questions that often pops into my mind is how much rental am i paying for when i'm buying this item? What value is that in paying high rental component? Often these 2 questions is enough to shut down the purchase decision in S'pore.

The building of more hawker centres after 26 years is a welcome move. Tourists don't come here for Mac, KFC, Pizza Hut etc or other overly 'spam' businesses. They are here to experience the local flavor & ambience & not in some overly commericalised food court. This is an aspect the govt ministers & the bureaucrats ignored in favor of big business in effort to get more revenue. Neglecting the long term in favor of short term boost in revenues.

Isn't it any wonder the govt built 2 casinos within a short period? - High rents in S'pore is making many businesses uncompetitive & in desperate effort to keep it going the floodgates are open to import in many foreign workers which our local infrastructure is straining to cope as well as other social issues. If 2 casinos can be completed within a few short years, 10 simple hawker centres can certainly be completed within 5 years. 10 years is just dragging their feet.


Good news only if...
I APPLAUD Minister for the Environment & Water Resources Vivian Balakrishnan for citing his preference for heartland hawker centres to be run as non-profit organisations ('Building more hawker centres welcomed'; Monday).

National Environment Agency (NEA), which manages all hawker centres, has worked admirably in ensuring that the centres are hygienic. Viability, its other responsibility, can be achieved only if NEA keeps rental rates affordable for entry-level entrepreneurs, who are often owners of fledgling family businesses or one-person operations.

I am an entry-level entrepreneur trying to make a living in Chinatown Complex.

After the building was refurbished in 2008, market rent for new stallholders who took over from retiring traders - be it subsidised or tendered lease - was raised reasonably. But in May this year, rent was raised again after NEA engaged professional valuers to appraise the value of the complex. Presumably the valuers considered its locality as well as the aggregate values of tendered stalls - which are unusually higher due to their speculative nature - and artificially affixed a new premium.

The result? Rent inflation ranging from an astonishing 71 per cent to a whopping 100 per cent.

This sudden, unexplained move is an unfortunate departure from the past practice of raising rent by small, graduated amounts - and a blow to struggling small traders.

On the one hand, the Government exhorts traders in hawker centres not to profiteer, but on the other, it surreptitiously pushes up operating costs.

Many large organisations fail due to over-trading. Small businesses perish because they are often undermined by high rents.

David Lam


Build hawker centres in 5 years, not 10
I HOPE the Government & the National Environment Agency (NEA) will build 10 new hawker centres in 5 years instead of 10 ("Building more hawker centres welcomed"; Monday).

The Government should also change the image & culture of hawker centres with bold new designs & quality features.

The NEA has the expertise to manage hawker centres under its purview on a not-for-profit basis and should drop its partnership with private players to cut unnecessary costs.

Low hawker food prices start with low rentals. Only with low rentals can hawkers charge $2 for a plate of chicken rice and $2.50 for a plate of wanton noodles. NEA plays an important role to mitigate cost of living issues by maintaining affordable prices at hawker stalls.

The agency must change its mindset of designing centres on the cheap. Instead, it should design the new millennium hawker centre to match Singapore's modernity. Why can't hawker stalls look sparkling clean and bright like the layout in foodcourts, with comfortable seating, marble-top tables, spacious aisles and neatly attired workers?

New complexes could be designed with natural lighting and ventilation, plus adequate ceiling fans. Use quality finishing to encourage patrons to keep the ambience clean and neat.

There should be adequate, well-designed restrooms, which must be kept dry at all times. Install powerful exhaust fans to filter out the odour of restrooms.

Regular hourly cleaning schedules must be strictly enforced by NEA inspectors. A dry toilet is a clean toilet.

Paul Chan

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Police Posts & Taxi Improvements in JB

Johor politicans are offended by the Chief Minister of Penang, Malaysia who said “Penang was number 1 last year in terms of cutting crime by 27%. For the first 6 months… also cut crime by another 25%. Whereas in Johor, a Singaporean is likely to get kidnapped. Won’t have that problem when you come to Penang.”

With the unrelenting rise in cost of living in Spore, more & more s'poreans are relocating across the border to Johor. I don't mind if the scaremongering deter more s'poreans from going over- less jams. Instead of being robbed blind in broad daylight in S'pore by the govt through legal fare increases, levies etc etc disguised as taxes, what a person can do in johor is exercise basic common sense & blend in with the crowd to become a less likely victim.

There are already improvements:
Police post along Jalan Seladang near KSL mall.

Taxis now have go by meter assurance instead of a price fixed by cabbies which fleece passengers

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Kimball Thai Chilli Sauce

3 versions of the thai style chilli sauce but i only come across the smallest & medium version locally. The biggest bottle is in supermarkets in Malaysia. Though the medium version is available locally it is not common. I bought the medium & bigger bottles from malaysia & already the medium bottle is cheaper & yet more quantity than its S'pore smallest bottle.

All 3 bottles originate from Malaysia in same factory. Is just packaged differently.

300g $1.15
355g RM2.59 $1.07
520g Rm2.99 $1.23

300g per gram price $0.00383
355g per gram price $0.00301
520g per gram price $0.00236

Going by unit price the biggest bottle sold in malaysian market is the best value for $$.

Tesco 1.5l Root Beer - S$0.82

Tesco the british supermarket has penetrated the malaysian market but not in S'pore. Though i tend to avoid soft drinks which are in essence carbonic acid, i like to drink A&W Root Beer. Seeing the housebrand version of their root beer i bought 2 bottles home to give it a try. Is doesn't taste as good as the A&W version but given its irresistable price S$0.82/bottle it is a steal considering such 1.5l soft drinks retail for slightly double the price in S'pore.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

2 Year Gains Wiped out in Around 2 Months

Buy & sell, not buy & hold. Economic cycles are getting shorter. With the steep drop in the stock market index i reckon S'pore has already entered reccession. The stock market is a leading indicator. Mass media only come out to announce is recession when is apparently clear- they wait & wait till is sure so as not to appear stupid in papers & news broadcasts.

I'm taken aback at the sudden plunge. Those who invested late in early 2010 when mass media reports of rebound & still holding on is highly likely to see losses now or back to square one.

It is a joke the current govt is subjecting the people buying flats to 30year mortgage slavery with its absurb price under such volatile economic times.

Friday, September 30, 2011

Pyramid Top-Down Hierarchy-Shit & Assholes

Another corollary from Kiyosaki which i read in one of his books offering another perspective is why climb? Shouldn't you be working on building your own ladder/pyramid? What he really meant is building up our own financial assets so we can be free instead of living in fear of shit coming down.

Also the person on top may not necessary be free of shit either. President/Prime Minister have to answer to the voting masses. Boss of a company has to rely on customers.

Crossing Border for Currency Arbitrage

This is a picture of the causeway jam coming into S'pore from Johor Bahru at 7:20am this rainy morning. It is estimated that 300,000 malaysians cross the border daily to work in S'pore.

Hassle of waking up earlier & immigration is worth it when considering the extra firepower from converting earned S$ back to RM$. Furthermore the costs of living in Malaysia is much lower than in S'pore. After a couple of years of work, one can own a decent freehold home with decent retirement $ in S'pore compared to their S'porean colleagues which are heavily laden with 30year housing lease loans & high costs of living in an increasingly crowded hectic environment.

When a person is paid in S$ & go back to their home country to spend with increased purchasing power, he/she tend to be obedient at work & not make waves. Why jeopardise the currency arbitrage they enjoy?(no offense to foreigners) When a corporation/institution is filled with these people, it just goes into a slow & lumbering mode compared to start-ups & fast growth small companies.

During weekends, S'poreans jam up on the causeway to head over to Johor for similar reasons-stretch their dollars further there instead of paying rental component in S'pore.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

$1 Chendol at Tanglin Halt Hawker Ctr

Hawkers are under pressure to raise prices due to inflationary pressure. I'm wondering if the $1 desert stall for most deserts at Tanglin Halt hawker centre is still $1. Turns out is the same.

I loathe to spend $ eating at local eateries other than hawker centres when one can stretch their dollars much further in neighouring Malaysia.

Tanglin Halt is perhaps the only place where the half-half shops are below average levels compared to other residential areas. Many shops & coffeeshops have closed shop due to high rentals. Those struggling rent half a shopspace to stay afloat hence 'half-half' shops.
Still many full-sized shops in Tanglin Halt

Personally i find the retail scene here becoming more & more uncompetitive with the relentless jacking up of utilities & rental which are fixed costs to a business. Govt's desperate measure is to flood in cheaper workers from other countries to keep businesses afloat & to boost consumption hence gdp up. More foreigners comes the headache of social issues to the country.