Thursday, April 28, 2011

Everything Has a Start - New Voices in Parliament

1st time voting for me. Have already decided to vote for reform party so attending election rallies to listen to emotional talks is not a factor in my decision making. One shouldn't make important decision due to a sales-like pep talk. Is my 1st time attending a rally & i wonder how is the crowd is at the venue.

I didn't stay for the entire duration. Clementi Stadium is not fully filled & the way the stage is set up in a corner of the field & fencing doesn't allow a huge crowd. I wonder if it's due to power lines from portable generators or police 'regulations'.

Everything has a start. Workers Party got 44% of votes in Ajunied & they are fielding their heavyweights there in this election. There is a positive feedback loop there. Just 7% more & WP will have a few voted into parliament. Those 44% voted for newbies led by WP Chairwoman Sylvia Lim & now a stronger team is going there. What many dumbies & complainers don't understand is that until you have faith & cast a vote for the alternative party the negative feedback loop is hard to break.

Ruling Party was an opposition party decades ago with no track record but people have faith in them & voted them in. Now decades later they have become complacent & out of touch. Is time for new voices in parliament to take a crack at the issues facing the country.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Commuting Impacts Job Satisfaction

I find long commuting in jammed roads & trains to be a pain in the ass. Starting the day with much of energy & vitality sapped before commencing work. People look at me cycling to work as though i'm a poor guy unable to afford a car (yes i'm a heartlander peasant) & i look at those who endure the pain of long commutes day after day, week after week, year after year & wonder why they put up with all those pain for a miserable paycheck.

Assuming 8 hours of sleep, there's 16 hours left. 2nd major chunk is work for most people. Assuming 9.5 hours of work(incl lunch) on a 5 day workweek there remain 24-8-9.5=6.5 hours left. Minus meals, shower there's not much left. After a long commute how much of the remaining leftover is left?

If a longer commute saps you 0.5hour longer than previous, it amounts to 11hrs/mth for an average of 22 working days. Imagine 11hrs/mth of precious life thrown away by being stuck in jam traffic which you have little control. Speaking of control it is also a reason why i like cycling as i'm in control & a form of exercise thus killing 2 birds at once.

Higher pay is not necessarily better if its downside of longer commuting & its associating drawbacks on other areas on life is bigger than the pay increment. Hence it is vital to learn how to have $ work hard for us & is 1 of the driving force behind my personal finance management.

Commuting impacts job satisfaction Poll

COMMUTING might not make you unwell but a new survey of US employees showed that 4%, or five million people, have called in sick because they could not face the trek to work.

The Harris Interactive poll commissioned by The Workforce Institute also revealed that 48% of people said commuting has a significant impact on their job satisfaction & 32% considered the commute when they chose their current job.

'Where possible, putting policies in place to allow employees to travel during non-peak hours or work from home can increase employee satisfaction, without a negative impact on the bottom line,' said Joyce Maroney, the director of the institute, a workplace issues think tank, said is a statement.

83% of workers questioned in the survey said they drove to work alone & 9% used a carpool.

Only 11% of workers opted for mass transit, 10% said they walked to work and some people used more than one mode of transport to commute.

15% of people who took part in the online survey said they would change jobs for a shorter commute & 11% said the time spent commuting had a negative impact on their life-work balance. -- REUTERS

East Asia Disaster Dates-Mere Coincidences?

Stumbled across the following in an old paper:

Japan Earthquake & Tsunami: 2011+3+11 = 2025
China's Wenchuan Earthquake: 2008+5+12 = 2025

Monday, April 25, 2011

Conversations with Mahathir

Borrowed this book mainly to read Dr M's thoughts about S'pore & his view on Lee Kuan Yew. Is not an easy read by the interviewer Tom Plate as is the same format as his earlier interview with LKY. Writing in an easy to read style like Robert Kiyosaki is a talent which i find missing among academics. A few takeaways from the book:
  • Deeply convinced deep in his gut that western precriptions for Msia during Asian Financial Crisis won't work & is proven right.

  • Regards LKY as an over-the-top, overly ambitious chinese would-be post-modern neo-emperor who couldn't be trusted.

  • Admits he's poor at picking successors - Anwar & Badawi

  • Does not believe in big military spending - at most 1% of gdp

  • Remain in power for 22 years. 1 of undeniable achievement is getting chinese minority to buy into a system that in effect handicapped them.

Dr M & LKY are loggerheads.
Normally, when somebody, a PM visits another PM you go down & receive him. However they sent a protocol officer to receive me & put me in a holding room waiting for the big man. I call this the S'pore Protocol.
So... afterward when their minister or PM comes here i reciprocate back similarly.

Similarities between Dr M & LKY:

- Work out daily for their health
- Relish making painful decisions
- Profess similar social-Darwinian views
- welcome outside investment while watching over them like a hawk
- stoutly defend Asian values
- Often lecture their countrymen
- In awe of Israeli national achievements
- Utterly detest golf-slowest & most masochistic waste of time

Dr M's views:
"5 out of 13 states are under opposition rule & in parliament we have never been without a vocal opposition. Of course, if they step beyond the limits like trying to raise racial tension & all that the government will have to act but otherwise they are free. I myself believe that we need the opposition. We need opposition because otherwise we would not know when we go wrong. But not too powerful an opposition that can frustrate everything that you want to do. "

"If i think people just don't want a person, i have to respond so i retire people."

"Too much Gini (income gap among population) can lead to political instability unless you impose severe political repression."

His view on Gini is a big issue facing S'pore now as we now have the widest income gap among developed economies. Isn't it any wonder the ruling party is coming up with fancy ways such as Nominated Member of Parliament (no voting rights), gerrymendering & Group Representation Constituency system to repress alternative viewpoints?

Friday, April 15, 2011

Polygon Hefestus Helmet

Bought this helmet at $30 at OCBC Cycle Warehouse sale to replace my 10 year old Trek helmet(no pads; worn out) which has some plastic chipped off on the outer shell & its visor is kinda loose (not used).

Is L size with 56-62cm. It still fit me securely though the adjustors are stretched to their limits. M size would be more appropriate with more allowance.

At $30 i consider it a value buy since is $38 during the cycle event. Polygon helmets are sold out at Rodalink since is a value buy. Other brand i have considered is Prowell which is pretty good value too being sold in hypermarkets.
Surprisingly there's no event associated logo/ad on the helmet unlike other warehouse sales items which is a plus.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Punggol Park Connector to Lorong Halus Wetland

Newest park connector to be opened at time of this writing. Is the 1st time i went to Punggol. A friend & i rode in from beside Riviera LRT station. I would say this park connector is perhaps the most scenic one in S'pore after the Ulu Pandan portion flanking the Faber estate.
Bridge of Lorong Halus Wetland in the distance. The wetland is rather small & i find it a disappointment. Don't expect to cycle unless you have knobby tires since is gravel path along the wetland. Notice the 'bulb plants' in the foreground which light up at night.

Rather disappointed is only partially done as from what i see from the completed route display the part to the north overseeing the Johor Straits is the more exciting portion. That block of building in background is the dam creating more reservoirs.
Looking back from bridge at the path we rode from. Isn't it nice to have a bike to cover distance faster & skip the dull portions of the park connector while sightseeing?

Closed up view of bridge connecting to Lorong Halus Wetland. Why can't Nparks just do an interim patch up on the abandoned railway bridge at Ulu Pandan connector beside the expressway instead of waiting 1-2 years? They just barricade it for fear of people getting hurt. For goodness sake that's a frieght train bridge! Others including myself have feedback to Nparks & it just fell on deaf ears.

Road leading in to Lorong Halus Wetland. Quiet place- there isn't any road divider markings!

Thursday, April 7, 2011


Wasn't darken as bad on my exposed skin during the 2 day Desaru ride last year. Was riding under the hot sun for longer hours though i did apply some sunblock on the 1st day.

The ride to Punggol on sunday to explore its phase 1 of its park connector & lorong halus wetland:

Look at the darken round patch on the exposed part of my glove. I'm taken aback at the sunlight's intensity...

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Parable of a Rich King & his Poor Peasants

Reading the parable led me to think about the situation in S'pore whom many knows is under control by a family. Wikipedia describe S'pore as a hybrid regime which is between a flawed democracy & authoritarian regime.
The rich king lived in his castle surrounded by gold while his subjects lived in relative squalor. 1 day, a peasant realised that robbing the king would relieve the peasants of much pain & suffering so he proceeded to plan a revolt. Anticipating this from his subjects, the king decided to buy guard dogs & hire expensive bodyguards. Peasants continued to suffer & the king had to think about paying more $ for security as the peasants became even more desperate. Soon enough, despite all his secuity measures & contingency plans meticulously put in place, the king was overwhelmed by a revolution as there always would be more poor peasants than miserly kings in this world.

An enlightened king will look at the peasants & realise that all his $ spent on security can be given to the peasants instead, perhaps not in the form of cash but in the form of education or investment in their well-being. Smarter peasants can farm more efficiently using better agricultural tools & their children can even become royal advisors or generals.
S'pore is described by some as the Switzerland of the East in terms of banking & financial services. ex-PM Goh talked about attaining swiss standard of living to inspire citizens. More than 15 years had passed & what we have now is the highest income inequality in the developed world instead.

Govt's policy of massive influx of mostly cheaper foreigners had depress & suppress the wages of much of the population in its effort to boost profits for many of its govt controlled companies. Productivity has taken a hit so the growth in gdp is from immigration (GDP = Population growth + productivity growth).

With rising income inequality as indicated by GINI coefficient, how long can the stability of S'pore be sustained? Stability is 1 factor that attracted foreign investors to S'pore. As we all know, foreign capital can flee the financial markets quickly as evidenced during the 90s Asian Financial Crisis. Grow gdp at all costs, grow like cancer also good. More & more people have woken up to the fact that the grow at all costs path the present administration is pursuing is unsustainble in the long term.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Sengkang Kopitiam Sq's Absurb Prices

Rode by Sengkang's Kopitiam Sq on way to punggol yesterday so decided to check it out. Around 40% of stalls vacant. Bid so high stallholders sell high- residents buay tahan(can't stand it). Got free shuttle bring neighourhood & punngol residents also not working. Only saw 2 passengers on bus. Is also reason i consider local reits & property stocks dangerous. People low on spending power & high debt- unsustainable. When bottom of food chain buay tahan, those higher up will collapse as well.

Around 40% of stallholders can't stand high rentals & closed shop. Value for $? Absolutely not.

Look at so many empty seats during lunchtime on Sunday. Who is stupid to pay food court prices at hawker centre for mostly lousy food cooked by non-natives?

Govt no longer builds hawker centres & instead privatise them. This privatise hawker centre is good example of wrong policy. Life is not plain sailing. Those who fall into hardship due to illness etc or failed in business at least have hawker centre prices under the old govt run system.

At least with old govt run hawker centres our tax dollars benefit people indirectly with cheaper food. Good & services tax was raised by 2% citing to help the poor? Is more like the tax hike was meant to benefit a small minority instead.