Thursday, 21 June 2018

Entrepreneurial ideas from the Trump-Kim Summit

From the comments on FB, there are some obvious marketing opportunities.

Kimmie Plushie
Related imageSome found the Supreme Leader cute in a chubby baby way. Cash in on this craze. Supreme Leader Kim Jung Un plushie. Incredibly huggable. Soft and chubby, just like the real thing!
No hard buttons or plastic. All plush construction. Safe for use and play by children.
With a prominent label at the back declaring "Made in China".
Just like the Real Thing.

Kimmie Plushie Accessories!
The Supremes!
Protect your Kimmie Doll with THE SUPREMES(tm) Personal Security Officer Team. Comes in Personal Security Team (6 dolls), Motorcade Detail (12 dolls), or Deluxe Team (20).
All Plush! All dressed in identical black suits! Your Kimmie Doll will feel so safe.

Saturday, 9 June 2018

This is a test of the Emergency Broadcast System!

This is what happens if North Korea launches an ICBM with 150 kt warhead centred on Shangri-La (and if they hit what they aim at):

150 kt warhead detonated at Shangri-La, 1.66 km above ground, maximising radius of 5 psi airburst overpressure.

Thursday, 7 June 2018

Four 3-Letter things you are doing wrong (Life in Singapore)

Ok, firstly I want to say that the title is "inspired" by a whole bunch of websites with "Listicles". These are articles with titles like "Five things that you..." or "Seven things about..." or "9 things you should know about..."

(To be honest, I didn't outline this post, realise I had found 5 things Singaporeans do wrong, and the started writing.

I just thought "5 things" sounded about right. Wrote down the title. Then panicked when I couldn't think of a fifth thing. So this is FOUR things you are doing wrong in Singapore.)

Recently, I saw this "rebuttal" of "The Life Cycle of a Singaporean (Male)"

I don't disagree with everything, but there were some things I DEFINITELY disagreed with. I thought the person who wrote the summary of "Every Singaporean's Life" (which excludes women - what does that say about the Singaporean male's attitude?) had a rather limited perspective (I think he's just young.)

His main complaints are about weddings, housing, and retirement. Which I was already going to write about how Singaporeans tend to do that wrongly.

Tuesday, 5 June 2018

Singapore, June 12 - Safe?

Singapore will be the safest place on June 12, when Kim meets Trump.

If Kim is here, he won't nuke SG. He'll die.
If Trump is here, he wouldn't be so stupid as to.... OH GAWD WE'RE GONNA DIE!

Saturday, 2 June 2018

Mahathir, HSR, ECRL, China Loans and Investment, and renegotiation.

I really want to work on the post on how to solve the HDB 99-yr lease issue.

But I keep checking FaceBook and finding uninformed comments about SG, and Mahathir.

I guess I could IGNORE them. After all, stupid comments about untrue things does not change reality.


I mean, Brexit was a fluke, right?

And Trump only became POTUS because of the Russians involvement, right?

Or maybe stupidity can warp reality?

Anyway, here are some of the comments or questions that dragged me into this post.

Tuesday, 29 May 2018

High Speed Rail - thoughts on (from Jan 2017)

[This was drafted sometime in Jan 2017 or before, but somehow I never got around to "publishing" it. And now the HST has been scrapped. Maybe. It's Dr M. Who knows?]

I am sceptical about the KL-SG High Speed Rail.

Firstly, it is going to KL.

I know people who like to go to KL.

I know people who like to go to JB.

I am not one of them.

Secondly, it's a joint project with MY.

The same MY that had a Point of Agreement (POA) with SG to move the railway station from Tanjong Pagar. And took more than 10 years to realise what was agreed in the POA.

Monday, 28 May 2018

Beyond SERS

Singapore's 99-year lease HDB flats are a ticking time bomb, politically. 

But the bomb will not go off for another 50 years or so, when the first 7% of flats (about 70,000 flats if there are about 1 million flats) reached the end of their lease, if nothing is done, and the flat owners will have to surrender their flat with NO COMPENSATION.

Which would be political suicide.

Some "common sense" suggests that
"technically, the government should pay" to recover the land your flat is on. After all, even if your COE expires, when you scrap your vehicle, there is still some "compensation" for the scrap value. So shouldn't you get at least some scrap value for your home?



Sunday, 27 May 2018

Primus Inter Pares

It means "First among Equals".

There was a news article on or around 21 Mar 2018, wondering about who the next PM would be. ex-NMPs and NMPs were on a panel.

It was a waste of time. Unless you are a TV programmer, then of course it was your job to fill up the air time. And waste of time or not, it attracted eyeballs.

It was a gossipy, speculative, fluffy programme (from what I gathered reading about it), where the panel members engaged in atas kopitiam talk such as "...part of the difficulty (in identifying a successor) is that none of them have really left a deep enough impression,”

Which show that the panel members are completely divorced from the political reality of Singapore. The question of political succession is not answered by political drama - at least not in Singapore. If they expect the next PM to "stand-out" or "leave a deep impression" they have no idea how Singapore politics work.

Monday, 21 May 2018

Donald Trump's Nobel Peace Prize slips out of his grasp.

In early May 2018, or thereabouts, Donald Trump announced that he will meet with Kim Jung Un for peace talk (well about getting North Korea to "denuclearise" - whatever that means - in exchange for lifting trade and other sanctions and helping North Korea's economy grow). And the talks would be held in Singapore.

The venue had to be a neutral venue where neither side would have "home ground" advantage. Mongolia was the other candidate. Unfortunately, Singapore was picked. The "honour" of hosting a summit between POTUS and Supreme Leader was too much for Singapore to decline.

Friday, 18 May 2018

New Wine in Old Wineskins

How do I feel about the results of Malaysia's GE2018?

As a Singaporean, their politics is their business.

But of course being close neighbours, their politics inevitably will affect SG.

Najib has been good for SG and if that were the sole criteria, we would be quite happy for Najib to stay on.

But there are other considerations. A Malaysia that is not properous is also not good for SG. "Prosper thy neighbour" is a better approach.

The rumours about Najib were just getting too loud and too regular to be dismissed or ignored.

And it was clear that Najib was not good for his country. Even if he were good for SG.

So personally, I am glad to see him go.

If he had managed to hang on one more term, well, the consolation is that SG will at least benefit from it.

Monday, 14 May 2018

Hard times with Malaysia

Immediately after BN's 60+ year unbroken rule of Malaysia was broken, the politically naive started to ask, "is Singapore next?"

In short, no.

At least, not IMHO. I could of course, be proven wrong. This is after all politics. Not rocket science.

The next questions or comments were along the lines of "Singapore/LHL/PAP backed the wrong horse (BN). Now what? What will happen to the RTS, the HSR, and all the other joint projects?" Or, "Dr M is back! Singapore's gonna get it!"

Saturday, 12 May 2018

"You had ONE job!"

Apparently, Mahathir's main task is to survive long enough to pardon Anwar, and for Anwar to stand in a by-election, get elected, and wait for Dr M to... "step down" so Anwar can take over.

BUT... Dr M has a mind of his own, and probably has his own hidden agenda.

He might want to resurrect his "Crooked Bridge" to replace the Causeway. He might want to ensure that his legacy, the Proton lives on as the National car.

And after UMNO has replace Najib, who knows?

So would Dr M step down when Anwar is ready to take over?

That would be interesting to see.

Friday, 11 May 2018

The politics of Tsunami

So Barisan Nasional's (BN) rule has ended.


A "Malay Tsunami" was prodicted. But what emerged was a "Tsunami Rakyat".

I have NO idea what that means connotatively (yes, I know it literally means "citizen's tsunami" or "people's tsunami"). People like to coin phrases and throw them around like it means anything.

And people also like to look at events and wonder, "is it Singapore's turn next?"

Is it?

That's an interesting question!

Thursday, 10 May 2018

This is how you politics

So over the Causeway, the big joke is that Dr Mahathir has decided to come out of retirement to correct his "biggest mistake" - Najib.

Which reminds me of a joke about Najib and Dr M.

Najib and Dr M were in a candy shop. When they left, Najib excitedly told Dr M he had stolen some candy. Dr M asked to see his loot.

Najib brought out of his pocket one bag of M&M, one Kit Kat, and one Mars bar.

"That is what you stole? Put those away and let me show you how it's done."

Najib returned his loot into his pocket and followed Dr M as he walked back into the candy shop.

Dr M went to the shelves and took a bag of M&M, one Kit Kat and one Mars bar. Walking boldly to the cashier, he put the three candies on the counter and asked, "Would you like to see a magic trick?"

The cashier nodded.

Dr M opened the bag of M&M and ate the contents, all the while looking intently into the eyes of the cashier. When he was finished, he ate the Mars bar. And when that was gone, he opened the Kit Kat and had a break. He finished the Kit Kat too.

"Would you like to know where the candies have gone?"

The cashier nodded.

Dr M pointed dramatically at Najib's pocket.

"There! Check his pocket. It's all there!"

Saturday, 28 April 2018

"Bye polar" disorder

Singapore is suffering from "bye, polar" disorder.

Inuka, the last polar bear in Singapore's zoo, was euthanised earlier this week when vets ascertain that he was not responding to treatment, and his health was worsening. He was 27 (born Dec 26, 1990).

The zoo held a "farewell" for Inuka.

And his keepers shared memories of Inuka
[Inuka] knew the waterfall was powered by a water inlet within the pool. Initially, it used its paw to block the inlet, but it was unable to stop the water flow completely. So, it used its toy – a large and flat red disc – instead.
Inuka knew exactly what it was doing, because it would watch the waterfall as it performed its trick. “He knew how it worked … he would spend the entire day trying to stop it,"
But age caught up with Inuka:
As Inuka’s hind legs grew weaker in its later years, its ability to stand on land was compromised. But it continued do so in the three metre-deep pool...
... Inuka would “not feel its pain or its weight in the water”...  it would play and wrestle with its toys, getting so excited that it would “twist and turn” many times.
But this exertion often proved “too much for its body”, and over the next few days, Inuka would become either unresponsive or did not want to move.
As age catches up with me as well, I can identify with that feeling of pushing my body too far.

Polar bears in the wild live to 15 to 18 years, when they are too old to hunt successfully.

At 27, Inuka had lived well passed the age of bears in the wild, and his physical condition meant that he would not survive in the wild.

Monday, 2 April 2018

The Minister and the Historian

A FB comment on the face-off between the Minister and the Historian at the Select Committee's Public Hearing on Deliberate Online Falsehood.

Edited for clarity/streamlining links.

An academic making a controversial claim is a means of advancing his credentials, an example of his ability to look at facts uniquely, or being able to break away from "established thought" or bring a fresh perspective to well-worn paths. There is nothing wrong in any of that.

In the realm of academia.

A politician making a controversial claim is (usually) a means of distinguishing his position from others, to offer an alternative to the establishment, and to bring a fresh approach, and fresh solutions to intransigent issues or problems. There is nothing wrong with that.

Sometimes, it even works.

But most of the time it is grandstanding.

As H. L Mencken (sort of) said, "For every complex problem there is an answer that is clear, simple, and wrong."

Friday, 30 March 2018

Select News on the Fake Committee

There is a Select Committee on Deliberate Online Falsehoods having public hearings. They invited Human Rights Watch to present their views (and be subjected to questions), and HRW (wisely or coward) declined. ("We only Human Rights WATCH lah! Where we say we Human Rights DO?")

Professor Cherian George dropped by, and spoke about how our current laws have been "weaponised" by those who would be (or feint being) insulted by comments on their race or religion. And caution against setting the bar too low or defining the problem too loosely.

And Reporters Without Borders found that the border around SG was too hard to ignore. The reason given was that there was no specifics to study (there is no draft bill, no definition of "deliberate online falsehood", or "fake news". So they reserved comments until there is something concrete to comment on.)

That is a very prudent position to take. "Fake news" needs definition. Cherian George's comments (and warning) on the matter are very appropriate. 

The problem is, from official (governmental) condemnation and rebuttal of alternative views, the govt's definition of "fake news" varies from factual inaccuracies and outright lies, to controversial opinion, informed or otherwise.

Tuesday, 27 March 2018

Religions - Radical Christians, Radical Muslims. Doing the Impossible

Ricemedia published an online article about Kingdom Invasion Conference 2018. This is a Christian Conference organised by Cornerstone Community Church, and attended by about 2000 people. Here's an excerpt from that article:
I’m at Kingdom Invasion, a mass evangelism conference that is in its sixth year running. On its website, the event is described as a platform to activate believers and churches to “take up the Lord’s mandate” to “bring the Kingdom of God into our world”. The conference also “acts as a catalyst for the prophetic destiny of the nations around Singapore”, fulfilling the prophecy of prominent American evangelist Billy Graham that Singapore would become the “Antioch of Asia” – the theme of this year’s conference.
The speaker implied that there is an urgency to curb "Muslim/Islam" during his sermon.

The Ricemedia article author asked MHA/Police how the speaker was allowed in.
The Ministry of Home Affairs and police did not respond to my queries on why Engle was granted a permit to speak in Singapore, given his notorious background. They also did not clarify what the rules for speaking at religious events were.
As a result, the Police and MHA are now investigating.

Monday, 26 February 2018

Graveyard of Bikes Problem.

Related image
Hangzhou's bike "graveyard".
Tens of thousands of shared bikes parked on an empty field in Hangzhou City, capital of East China’s Zhejiang Province, June 26, 2017. Hangzhou authorities have temporarily suspended the use of more than 20,000 shared bikes found in violation of traffic rules, including improper parking. Companies that own the bikes have not been active in getting them back. (Photo/VCG)

Firstly, what is the problem? Users are not parking the bikes properly? What is "properly" when there is no space? What is properly when all lots have been taken up or all the space in the yellow box is filled up? Want the Bike Sharing Companies to build docking stations? For how many bikes? Say they build 20 at a location, but 40 bikes come and need space to park. Or they build 10 docks and there are NO bikes there, but the docks continue to take up space even when empty. The problem is that there are TOO MANY so-called SHARED BIKES.

Why? Because the manufacturers of these bikes are making money making and selling bikes to Bike Sharing Co. Ironically, I saw this on one of the shared bikes: "Consume less. Share more."

Except "bike sharing" ISN'T sharing. It's renting.

Sunday, 11 February 2018

Unthinking in the internet age

There was this news article about a Malaysia actor who posted a photo of his 12-year-old daughter on Instagram. Then, he got emails with marriage proposals for his daughter.

Wednesday, 7 February 2018

Patriots Act

You may have heard that Singaporeans rated Singapore the 31st most exciting city out of 32 cities.

But there's another survey by YouGov on 19 countries and the views of people in the countries in Oct 2016.

One of the question was how patriotic the respondents felt. Or rather they were asked if they thought that their country was the best in the world.

The country with the most people answering patriotically is... (drumroll)...


41% of the over 1000 respondents said that "My country is the Best Country in the World".

Another 32% responded that "My country is better than most other".

Sunday, 28 January 2018

How to solve the bike sharing mess

One foreigner (Bulgarian) was civic minded enough to try to to solve the problem of the bike sharing mess.

Bulgarian living here rounds up Singapore’s damaged rental bikes 
... Mr Girginov’s Volunteer Bike Patrol initiative has taken off, collecting over 400 damaged bikes in about seven trips.
The group gathers the broken bicycles in one neighbourhood, moving them to a central location. Mr Girginov then rents a lorry for S$200 a trip to pick up and carry the bikes back.
Mr Girginov has funded the effort until now, but expansion might prompt him to consider crowd-funding or seek sponsors, he said.
But this inherently strikes us as unfair. Why is a profit-making business depending on civic-minded volunteers to clean up their mess?

Wednesday, 24 January 2018

No Country for Old Singaporeans

According to one study, there are about 900,000 elderly (age 65 and over) in SG now.

Let's assume that 50% of them are in good financial state - i.e. they can self support. Why 50%? This is just for this thought experiment. IIRC, there is some study that found that about 50% of CPF members have the required minimum sum at 55. And lets say CPF Life is sufficient to care for these 50%.

So about 450,000 don't have CPF Life.

But CPF Life is NOT the only possible source of income in one's retirement. Of these 450,000 who do not have CPF Life (or sufficient CPF Life) payouts, let's assume about 50% of them have other sources of income - say they can rent out a room in their flat, or their children give them money every month. Again, why 50%? Just a figure to work with. Feel free to project higher or lower numbers.

So about 225,000 elderly has no CPF life, and no other sources of income. They need help from the govt.

So, how much does one require to subsist in SG in one's retirement years assuming that one has a roof over one's head (owns HDB flat)? $500? $1000? $1500? $2000?

Sunday, 21 January 2018

Bike sharing scam

Suspicious of bike sharing? Wondering how this business can be viable or sustainable?

Follow the money.

Looking at all those bikes in the bike graveyard, at all the bikes piled high in "bike mountains" (not mountain bikes), and abandoned indiscriminately and you have to ask yourself, how is the bike sharing companies making money? (The short answer is, they are not. The answer in this video is, they made their profits by "selling" the idea of bike sharing, and taking their share of the investments pouring in. Which is probably the simplest part of the equation to understand.)

Some info on their fund-raising:
Mobike... using a newly-raised $600m fund... now has a foothold in Singapore and London, and is penetrating Washington DC as its pilot city in the US.
Ofo, on the other hand, has received $700m new investment for future expansion.

Tuesday, 2 January 2018

NDR 2017 - The Unbearable Lightness of Themes

[Some thoughts on 2017's NDR that I have been sitting on. ]

I still miss LKY's National Day Rallies.

Those covered matters of import.

Unlike the recent NDRs.

This year's (2017) was particularly pathetic, IMHO.
I for one, am underwhelmed by this year's NDR. So apparently mosquitoes were a big enough problem that they deserved to be featured at the NDP. And Diabetes is a big enough problem that it needed to be featured at NDR. And three years ago, MOM and the CPF board were so bad at their communication that the PM had to use the NDR to explain how CPF Life worked. Just as this year, he had so little faith in the HPB that he had to use the NDR to explain why we need a war on Diabetes. Right. What does it say about the PM's confidence in the MOH and the HPB that NDR was co-opted for their public education programme?