Thursday, December 31, 2009

The Year To Remember, 2009

I have less than 2 hours to post my final summary of the year before the clock strikes @ 12 midnight to usher into the new year. In my 47 years, soon...48 in less than 2 months from now and 2009 has brought much surprises and along, happiness to me that I cannot recall when was the last time I experienced such euphoria of sorts or did I?

Beginning of the year 2009, I set my goal to complete my first full marathon run by year end and to my much delight, I did in better than expected time. Never did I expect, I won the draw to run the marathon in France in September 2010, courtesy of AirFrance and France Tourism Singapore. The run was made even more meaningful when I decided to raise fund for the cancer cause. Increditably, doing good deed does reap benefits when one least expected it.

In January, I become the proud owner of a brand new SUV vehicle which is my first ever vehicle owned by me. COE and car prices were at rock bottom, this buy was so timely for me and some six months later, everything shot up. Lucky break for me, perhaps.

In April, I decided to enrol in WSQ subsidised tourism course to upgrade myself and in one month from now, I will soon be graduating from this very course with a Diploma to my credence. Another course is already in sight for 2010, reckon learning and upgrading is an ongoing affair regardless of one's age.

In August, I become the proud owner of a 5-room flat which I managed to purchase at $5,000 below valuation after a hard bargain. Again, it was a timely purchase for me. Had I decided to wait a little longer, the value of HDB flats in open market turned bullish in matter of few months only.

I have very happy to have achieved all these goals within a span of one year and I certainly look forward to another fruitful 2010. As much as I wish to have another fruitful year, I hope and I wish those around me, my relatives, colleagues and friends do have a good year ahead too.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Rebuttal From Dr M To His Critics

This is probably the most blatant rebuttal from Dr M to his critics, an outright challenge to the Malaysia government to form a royal commission to check on his 22 years reign as PM.

The following article is taken from the blog of the man himself, for those, fans or not who are keen to follow his news. Read on...


Quote

Written by: Dr M

Tilted: FORM ROYAL PROBE ON DR M'S SQUANDERING

1. I welcome Lim Kit Siang's proposal for Najib to set up a royal commission on whether I burned RM100 billion on grandiose projects and corruption during my 22-year reign.

2. Such a commission should not be made up of Government nominees but should have as members impeccable people including foreigners and members of Transparency International.

3. The commission should not confine to one Prime Minister only but to Tun Abdullah Badawi's regime.

4. It should include how RM270 billion of Petronas money paid during Abdullah's five-year term was spent; what projects were financed by this huge fund and the cost of all these projects.

5. It should include how much money was lost due to the cancellation of the crooked bridge and the Johore Baru to Padang Besar railway.

6. What is the cost over-run in the construction of the Bakun Hydroelectric project.

7. The financing of the second Penang Bridge and the procedure followed when giving out this contract.

8. I also agree with Lim Kit Siang that the investigation would reflect Najib's commitment to "combating corruption".

9. In order that the enquiry by the commission would be successful, Government must give the undertaking to give full access to the commission of all the documents and accounts of the Government over the period 1981-2009. There should be no cover-up of any kind.

10. Barry Wain must provide documentary proof of any sum that he alleged I had burned.

11. I will co-operate fully with the commission.

12. Depending upon the result of the commission, I reserve the right to sue Barry Wain, Lim Kit Siang and Malaysiakini.com for libel for a sum to be disclosed later.

13. If the Government is witholding the book: "Malaysian Maverick: Mahathir Mohamad in Turbulent Times", I would request that the book be released forthwith. I am not in need of Government protection.
Unquote

Monday, December 21, 2009

An Article From George Soros in Bangkok Post

Quote
The corruption of Mahathir: by George Soros - published by Bangkok Post

George Soros is not only one of the best investors in the world but very well informed too. He has spelt out clearly what Malaysians have known all the while. Malaysia with all the riches in raw materials should have a stronger currency but what started one for one equivalent with S'pore 30 yrs ago now has lost out to S'pore currency by 2.3 times. Now Malaysians know why........Soros has explained in very great detail.....Of course one cannot get to read this in the main media in Malaysia .

Subject: The corruption of Mahathir: published by Bangkok Post

Taxpayers and voters were made to pay for his visionionary expenses enriching selected vendors along the way all paid by taxpayer or rakyat's money. The corruption of Mahathir: SOROS' REPLY TO MAHATHIR - Adapted from Bangkok Post (Not published locally)

I have always said Dr Mahathir is a menace to his own people. Now only you can see the effects of his foolishness when the ringgit has halved its value overnight and your economy goes kaput. Single handedly you have caused hardship to millions of your own people. You have built useless mega projects at tremendous cost to the country.

The telecoms tower in Kuala Lumpur and the highest building in the world show how stupid you are. Not only does it cause massive traffic jam, it has totally no purpose.

If you need high ground for telecoms antennae a nearby mountain is there for free.

This tower has no purpose from the ground up to 300 metres. The satelites make this totally unneccesary. A fool and his money are soon parted. The only thing is you are the fool and the money belongs to Malaysians. You make 20% in every project, you have real estate in Japan and billions of shares corruptly acquired.

Your 3 sons are worth 8 billion US$. Where do they get this money? Of course, corruption.

You are known as the Marcos of Malaysia, having enriched yourself to the tune of billions.

You dare to shed crocodile tears during UMNO delegates meeting about the ills of corruption.

Yet you are the most corrupt of all the prime ministers before you. A thief is crying thief and hopes people look the other way. Who dares to say anything when the chief is caught with his hands in the candy jar?

You said wisdom is not the monopoly of the West. So is foolishness. You have more foolishness than most people would believe. Billions are used to build two high rise Petronas buildings that benefit nobody. They now stand tall, a symbol of stupidity and irresponsibility. Instead they just add on to traffic jams. What is this reclamation of 10 islands off Kedah? Totally absurd and stupid. Of course your benefit is 20%. And the bridge across from Malacca to Sumatra across international waters?

Why not build a bridge to the moon? I am sure you still can get your 20%. You called me a Moron. How can a Moron make so much money. By allowing short selling and borrowing millions of shares from your banks we fund managers made millions out of your inexperience and poor regulations.

You lose all Malaysians' money, therefore you are the Moron. Now you know too late and start crying over spilt milk.

In Australia you are known as the recalcitrant ego maniac; in UK the corrupt bastard because of your stupid purchase of our movie studio and the 290 million ringgit Lotus racing car plant and the shady Pergau dam loans from the UK. They are useless to us and you still want to buy them.

What about buying British reject submarines through your agent, of course. The agent/broker is designed to make millions out of the Malaysian government.

Your purchase of our battleships is at least 50% more than others are paying. Your purchase of 9 hospitals from UK lock, stock and barrel does not support your local architects or your industry and the British send you obsolete medical equipment. The design is atrocious, one end to the other is half a kilometer and there is no CT-scan, an absolute necessity.

In the UK your face appears in no less than 17 newspapers as a corrupt dictator. In Malaysia you are known as the (IBM) International Big Mouth. In Japan they call you the 'smallest one' (brain size). In Pacific islands, the Santa Claus (giving advice left and right). In south America they call you the parrot (he talks a lot but does not know what it is about). In Manila the living Marcos.

In Malaysia they are spending millions to lure tourists and you talk rubbish scaring every foreigner away. When he is dumb he is doubted a fool, when he opens his mouth it removes all doubt."

While I agree the West does not have the monopoly to wisdom, your actions are not the wisest either. Your EAEC has totally no support even in Asean. Your South-South dialogue meets with the same fate and what is this I hear of the Bridge from Peninsula Malaysia to Sumatra covering 20 miles across International shipping lane?

How crazy can one get? Even the Japanese don't have the money. This world's stupidity seems to be concentrated in one man's mind - yours.

The multimedia super corridor - MSC -. Well in USA its Most Stupid Concept because we Americans, would have thought of it light years before. Even if it makes money, we can copy this concept can't we?

Why do you want to spend your hard-earned money doing questionable projects? It will be like the Bakun project. Abandoned fund wasted and another white elephant. I always say politicians should not be involved in business. Your ministers are also businessmen and almost every official is enriching himself. Look at Rafidah Aziz, selling thousands of Approved Permits (APs) for cars each worth 20-30 thousand Malaysian dollars. Why not your government sell them and make the money? She has acquired millions of shares meant for bumis for free before she agrees to list them.

Look at your Selangor Chief Minister collecting millions for approving high rise buildings from businessman. He is worth a few billions. Unfortunately he was caught with a few million pocket money in Australia. Every Chief minister is awarding useless projects to his cronies then collecting secret pay offs on the side. The Land Development Boards and the Economic Development Boards are used to bail out any loses suffered by politicians. The profits they keep, the loses they force the Government bodies to absorb. How can your poor ever close the gap when every good deal is snatched by your politicians? How can your country get out of poverty if all the billions of corruption money is taken out of the country?

Look at the Sarawak Chief Minister selling billions worth of timber concessions under the table; selling every piece of state land to businessmen without tender; using his own companies to obtain lucrative government contracts; selling approval signatures for a fee 'you pay I approve'. He has 8 billion US stashed overseas. Thousands of acres of land are given to one or two companies while thousands of poor people still live in cardboard makeshift homes; have no water and shit into the river.

Thousands of acres of land are sold to companies for plantations while the natives do not have even one acre to their name. He is selling sand near the beaches to one company for earth filling and then ask the government to spend millions to protect the coastline when erosion occurs.

He lost 300 million of the Sarawak government money trying to make computer chips. He has built a port in Northern Sarawak town in water so shallow it needs dredging every year. The Prime Minister built highways without tender, your cronies get the deal and the price double. Your Langkawi airport runway was built double the cost by your own company, Ekran.

The Malaysian nation has lost at least 30 billions during your last 10 years of corrupt rule. One billion lost from the purchase of phantom Skyhawk war planes nobody has ever seen (are they still in the Nevada desert, USA?). 3 billion lost from the London tin scandal (you thought you could corner the London tin market without knowing the Americans have a stockpile! Stupidity at its best. 6 billion Perwaja steel mill where nobody even knows where the money goes, 3 billion bank Bumiputra scandal when George Tan bribed all the bank officials to lend him the money.. 6 billion forex lost by Bank Negara (the fool and his money are soon parted) and 6 billion to build three of the world's tallest buildings (built by Japanese and Koreans and furniture imported from France - not Malaysia) and 1 billion lost from purchase of British warships including fees paid to the broker and under the table.. Add the 10 billion you stole and 5 billion taken by Ministers.

In the 1997 the World Journalists meeting voted Dr Mahathir the Prime Minister of the Decade. It sounded strange to everybody until it was revealed those who voted against are threatened by IRD officers and with losing their jobs. In New York the United Nations 1997 meeting, the most corrupt Prime Minister of the decade is President Suharto and second Dr Mahathir (Actually Dr Mahathir should take first place but bribed the Indonesians to take honour of Number One.

There are Fifty thousand of your university students not given places in Malaysia but are good enough for places overseas resulting in billions of dollars lost. The British and the Australians are thinking how stupid. Your best students are sent overseas raising their standards while as in most countries the best are kept in local universities and the rejects sent overseas..A university student in Hong Kong is much more prestigeous than any Australian counterpart. You have been colonised by the British so long you cannot even educate your own people. Look at Hong Kong or Singapore, less than 5% study overseas. All the money saved. Your country could save billions if every student overseas is recalled to a local university, and at the same time raising your own standards.

Your people are still without shoes, without land to farm, without homes, bathing in rivers shitting in holes in the ground, without water and electricity. Your cities are concrete jungles without greenery and open spaces. Your KL is jammed with traffic. Yet you still keep on building high rises. You should come down from the clouds and stop daydreaming and firmly plant your feet in the ground. Your schools are cramped 500 students to an acre and thousands of acres are given free to some politicians who leave them idle. Your parks are being taken by politicians to build shophouses and every cabinet minister is a land-grabbing businessman who builds roads only to their cronies' land.

The Malaysians' Prayer, "Ya Allah, we thank you for your gifts of timber, oil and grain. But then the devil sent us corrupt Mahathir without a Brain and look we are back to square one again. So just take Dr Mahathir back to Hell And we will be alive and well."

In China people have been shot for embezzling one thousand dollars. With 8 billion you have stolen, therefore you would be shot 80 thousand times. Now you are leading an anti-corruption campaign. We all know what you should do. Look yourself in the mirror. You see the crooked you. Then use your left hand and handcuff your right hand. You have put the opposition leader and his son in jail when they said in parliament you are the richest PM in the world. And his colleague Mr Karpal Singh too for 2 years.

So I get a reward or bribe if I now say you are the poorest PM in this world? Your 3 sons are sitting on the board of directors of more than 200 companies. They must have been educated in Harvard school of business and obtained distintions? Or is it "you don't know me, you don't do business in Malaysia" law that applies. Billions of ringgit of Employee's Provident Fund and public Petronas funds are used to bail out your sons who make losses investing in every venture you thought you could make money. How unethical and corrupt. Every one of your politicians is sitting on the board of tens of companies making thousands without any effort, lending their VIP names to borrow millions from local banks without collateral.. Now these have become non- performing loans. Now you want 20 million Malaysians to sacrifice for the folly of ONE man? Why not the fool resign and admit he wasted and took most of the money. I could teach you how to put your economy on track but first you must apologize to the Malaysian people.

Sincerely, George Soros
Unquote

Friday, November 20, 2009

Anwar As Economic Adviser (By Dr M)

This article posted by Dr M, former PM of Malaysia did impress me somewhat (still not his fan though) and I decided to post his article on my blog for people to make own judgment of him.

Quote
1. I would like to thank everyone for their comments on the above. I appreciate very much the positive comments and I accept the negative ones also. I am not perfect. I make mistakes. But some of the wrongdoings attributed to me are just not true or correct.

2. We see what we want to see. Everyone is like that. So do I. But I try my best to be factual.

3. My greatest mistake is in the choice of people. I seem to be picking the wrong people all the time. They not only did not live up to my expectations but they went all out to do all the wrong things, including abusing me.


4. I accept the blame for making wrong choices. But they were all so good before they were chosen.

5. Anwar was pious and holy almost. Before I admitted him into Umno no one told me of his peculiar inclinations.

6. The other one was known as Mr. Clean. Well he and his family certainly did a lot of cleaning.

7. Awarding privatisation at inflated prices! Well the contract to double track and electrify the railways from Johore Baru to Padang Besar was for RM14 billion (including the spur line to KL). It was cancelled by Abdullah.

8. Then it was found necessary to double track and electrify from Ipoh to Padang Besar. I understand the price is RM12 billion. Work out the new cost if we build up to Johore Baru.

9. Putrajaya and Cyberjaya - bought by the acres. Putrajaya, 10,000 acres for RM700 million or approximately RM17,500 per acre or RM0.43 per square foot.

10. Today average price of Putrajaya land per square foot is RM130.00.

11. Bailout happens when a business receives injection of capital to get over a financial crisis.

12. Selling a business at below cost is not a bailout. It is called a fire-sale. That was what my son had to do. Petronas subsequently sold ¾ of the fleet for more than what it paid for the whole fleet when the market was good.

13. Ekonomi Malaysia berkembang pada kadar 8.5% dari 1987 dan bukannya 10% dari 1991. Mula merosot pada 1997 di waktu Anwar sebagai Menteri Kewangan melaksana "ubat" IMF tanpa IMF. Memang Anwar ditangkap semasa krisis hampir berakhir. Kerana kegagalannya MTEN ditubuh untuk ambil alih tugas memulih semula kewangan dan ekonomi Negara, jauh sebelum dia ditangkap.

14. Sila semak SEJARAH dalam laporan akhbar dalam dan luar negeri.

15. Thank you for agreeing that I am a dictator. Tell me which dictator ever resign.

16. Terima kasih kerana membaca blog saya.
Unquote

Sunday, November 01, 2009

GE Run 2009 For Ladies Only





Last year this time, Winnie participated in GE 2008 5km run for the first time and in this year's event, she ran the competitive 10 km. This year is GE 4th consecutive time and for Winnie, her second.

Got up this morning at about 0530 hrs, picked up Winnie at about 0600 hrs and we arrived at the start point near Esplanade at about 0630 hrs. Admittedly, I was quite concerned Winnie may not last the gruelling 10 km run as she had not been training quite regularly for a while. The last 10 km run she did was in May, the PAssion Run where I did 15 km and since then, she had intermittent training.

Did the usual routine as last year, she had to go to the toilet at Esplanade en-route (there are many mobile toilets near the Padang but she still chose the toilet at Esplanade for obvious reason) before heading to the start point.

Flagged-off at 0700 hrs by Her Excellency, the Ambassador from the Philippines, there were some 14,000 female runners as announced by the gregarious MC on the air.

I did not expect her to do better than the one we did in March this year where she clocked a creditable 1 hour 4 mins plus, 1 hour 10 min under would be more realistic this time around. But I was proven wrong in my 'guesstimation' (I am more than happy to be proven wrong), the gun time showed 1 hr 6 mins something when I saw her making a final dash to the finishing line. About 2 mins to be taken off as she had started quite far back (need to verify her final timing when result is finalised in a couple of days), I'm sure she clocked some 1 hr 4 mins plus and boy, I must admit this is a fantastic result for her. Had she put in more training, she could have come in under 1 hour.

Winnie, I congratulate you for a good effort in this GE event and I shall look forward to another good result in your last event of the year, the 10 km Stanchart Marathon. Keep up the running spirit, never say die. Cheers!

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

To Bukit Timah Summit




The run to Bukit Timah Summit on last Sunday (27 Sep) was my first attempt and for Chua, his third or fourth I think. Got up at about 6.15am and arrived at Chua's place before 7am, he was already warming up at the carpark. Chua is staying at Bukit Panjang, fairly near to Bukit Timah. We used to have three musketeers, missing was Eddie.

From Chua's place, we ran to the forested pipeline heading to Rifle Range. The terrain was quite undulating, tougher than running on a normal tarred road which took us under half an hour to reach the fringe of Rifle Range where Eddie lives. We then made an u-turn to the mid-point, one of the routes up Bukit Timah summit.

Chua led the way, I followed behind. Unlike Mt Faber, the steps were uneven and not cemented. We had to watch out for the protuding roots, a mis-step could spell trouble. It was a long run up the improvised steps, as if never ending. I had to stop to catch a breather or two while Chua continued his ascend. We huffed and we puffed, we finally reached but the half-way mark only. I had to stop, my muscles were already aching. After a short rest, we continued again. And there we were but only just, we had reached the final assault base to the summit. We took longer rest, loosen up our joints and muscles. Chua signalled to me whether I was ready for the final ascend, and yes, I was raring to go. Almost immediately, we made a dash up. Chua was infront followed by me. He was inching faster and faster ahead of me, I pressed on but only barely. My legs were aching and tried I did but each step forward was getting slower and slower. After covering two third on the final ascend, I had to walk. Chua who was almost reaching the top, also stopped to walk. Finally, we reached the summit. We took picture of each other, clearly satisfied of our feat.

For our descend, we chose the forested path over the easier tarred pathway. We had to walk for most part, pratically not possible to run down. There was quite a crowd, many senior citizens and young children were slowly walking up. We finally reached the newly opened park, took a short tour around at the place before running back to Chua's place. I had breakfast with Chua, his wife and the children and by the time I reached home, I was dead-tired. Stayed home the whole day but still managed to do some house chores. In our next assault to Bukit Timah summit, it will not be complete without Eddie. We should be ready to conquer our 42 km marathon come December, I hope.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Another Comical Comment From Malaysia Tourism Minister



I wonder, has food anything to do with politics where Malaysia current sorry state-of-affair is concerned?, just wonder aloud! The honourable Tourism Minister, YB Dr Ng Yen Yen, who launched the Malaysia International Gourmet Festival recently complained some countries 'hijacked' some of so-called Malaysia local food as their own, which include Bak Kut Teh, Laksa, Hainanese Chicken Rice, Nasi Lemak and Chilli Crab...what craps!

As a learned and seasoned politician, she should not have not known Singapore and Malaysia were intertwined historically & culturally (or she chose not to know for obvious reasons) and at the same time, inherited some old political baggage (sigh!) after Singapore gained her independence on 9 August 1965.

If she had intended to shore up much needed public support after a big lashing by Indonesia for the boo-boo in featuring Bali penyet dance as Malaysia's own, her undiplomatic comment certainly did not gain her friends in Singapore too. Using food at the expense of friends to gain political mileage for herself, for her badly bruised political party 'mired in civil squabble' only worsen situation.

So what if these food originated from Malaysia, YB? Will tourists be lured to Malaysia because Malaysia has now claimed a world's first on Bak Kut Teh, Laksa, Hainanese Chicken Rice, Nasi Lemak and Chilli Crab and for that, all Malaysians will give you a thumbs-up for a good job done as the Tourism Minister? The job of a Tourism Minister does not end with food only but you certainly need to watch your own waistline though. Wishful thinking, YB.

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Jailed For Wearing Pants

If the recent incident in Malaysia involving a Muslim lady caught drinking and sentenced to be whipped though the case is still pending has not caused much hue-and-cry, this one that happened in Sudan is even more absurd. See the story below by Guillaume Lavallee.



KHARTOUM (AFP) – Sudanese journalist Lubna Ahmed Hussein who spent a day in jail for refusing to pay a fine for wearing "indecent trousers" vowed on her release on Tuesday to keep up the battle against the law.

"We will continue the fight to change this law, the public order police, the public order tribunals," she told AFP at the offices of Ajras Al-Hurriya (Bells of Freedom) newspaper where noisy supporters celebrated her release.

Hussein was imprisoned on Monday after she refused to pay the fine imposed earlier the same day by a Khartoum court for wearing trousers deemed indecent. She could have faced one month in jail.

"She came out of prison. We paid the 500-pound (200-dollar) fine," explained Mohiedinne Titawi, president of the Sudanese Union of Journalists, announcing the release.

"I don't even know who paid the fine, I had told my family and friends not to pay it," Hussein said.

The journalist was wearing slacks when she was arrested along with 12 other women in a Khartoum restaurant in July.

Sudanese law in the conservative Muslim north stipulates a maximum of 40 lashes for wearing indecent clothing.

Women in trousers are not a rare sight in Sudan but the authorities can take offence at trousers which reveal too much of a woman's shape, leading to accusations from rights groups that judgement is arbitrary.

In Hussein's case, the court opted for the 500 Sudanese pounds (200 dollars) fine rather than a flogging, but ten of the 12 other women who were arrested in a Khartoum restaurant at the same time as Hussein have been whipped for their offence.

Last year nearly 43,000 women were detained for indecent clothing offences in Khartoum region, where five million people live, according to Hussein's supporters.

Hussein, who was released after one day when the journalists' union paid her fine, felt the loose trousers she was wearing when arrested were not indecent and the incident spurred her to wage a public challenge to the law.

She resigned from the United Nations so she could stand trial and publicise her campaign.

In the trial, the judge sought to determine whether her trousers were too tight, according to witnesses in the court, which was closed to journalists.

She has pledged to continue fighting the law, challenging anyone to provide her evidence that it has grounds in the Koran and the Prophetic traditions, which comprise the source of Islamic legislation.

"I'm ready for anything to happen. I'm absolutely not afraid of the verdict," she told AFP in an interview on August 3. "If I'm sentenced to be whipped, or to anything else, I will appeal. I will see it through to the end, to the constitutional court if necessary.

Her case led to an outcry abroad and demonstrations at home.

The office of the UN human rights chief on Tuesday said her sentencing breached international law and exemplified the discrimination faced by women in Sudan.

"Lubna Hussein's case is, in our view, emblematic of a wider pattern of ... application of discriminatory laws against women in Sudan," said Rupert Colville, spokesman for the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights.

On Friday, Amnesty International urged the Khartoum government to withdraw the charges against Hussein, saying the law used to justify flogging women for wearing clothes deemed "indecent" should be repealed.

Friday, August 28, 2009

My Reply to Dr Mahathir

Tun Dr Mahathir, the 4th PM of Malaysia posted this article below, titled 'Sound Bites (Water for Singapore) on his blog, http://chedet.co.cc/chedetblog/2009/08/sound-bites-water-for-singapor.html and this was in reply to current Malaysia Dy PM, Tan Sri Muhyiddin, who recently publicly mentioned to the press that MM Lee did threaten to go to war with Malaysia if water supply could not be resolved then when he was the MB of Johor.

The following text was quoted by Dr M himself:

Quote
1. Tan Sri Muhyiddin spoke the truth about my persuading him to supply water to Singapore (read here). But Lee Kuan Yew did not threaten to go to war if we did not supply water. If he had done that, I think I would have stopped any further supply.

2. We were at that time trying to be friendly with Singapore in order to solve several problems. Although raw water would be supplied at 3 cent per 1000 gallons, the understanding was that in future only treated water would be supplied when our treatment plants would be ready. We would also not buy any more treated water from Singapore at 50 cent per thousand gallons when our new treatment plant in Johore is ready.

3. When we no longer needed to buy treated water from Singapore we could raise the price of raw water to Singapore without Singapore being able to raise the price of treated water to us.

4. However when we concluded the water supply agreement Singapore raised a lot of issues regarding our railway land, the CIQ (Customs, Immigration and Quarantine) at Tanjong Pagar, training flights by Singapore warplanes over Malaysia and the Central Provident Funds.

5. At that stage I realised that being friendly with Singapore did not pay.

6. I don't know about the sale of land to Singapore but as it was agreed that a treatment plant be built by Singapore in Johore, land would have to be made available.
Unquote

I posted my personal comment to Dr M on his blog but for some reasons, it is not posted though some 72 comments have been posted by him.

The following is my reply to Dr M and I hope he is reading it:

Dear Tun
It is heartening to note that you made clarification MM Lee did not threaten to go war with Malaysia if water issue could not be resolved then. If I can recall clearly, it was Malaysia Foreign Minister Syed Hamid who stupidly uttered the word, "go to war with Singapore" to the media which was widely covered in Singapore then. He later did try to do some damage control, kind of comical though.

On the non water issues, were not all these outstanding issues already agreed by both sides and carefully penned down in the P.O.A signed by Tun Daim for Malaysia and LKY for Singapore but regrettably it was later scuppered by you as PM citing nonsensical reasons/excuses. Which side was the unfriendly party then? If Malaysia can totally ignore the P.O.A, what do you think how the world will look at Malaysia especially you, when you were the PM then? If you can blatantly ignore legally drafted agreement, changing position every now & then, don't put the blame on Singapore. In case you are still not aware or not wanting to accept the fact, we are now exporting our expertise/know-how on recyled-water to other countries. Rightly so, we should thank you for making SIN shining like a sparkling diamond in the world map with our water management skills.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Safra Singapore Bay Run & Army Half Marathon 2009



My preparation for this year's Stanchart 42km full marathon in Dec is going according to schedule so far - it's a first in my lifetime to attempt the full marathon which is a pledge made last year.

In April this year, I did the 10km Singapore PAssion run with Winnie in Sengkang which was her first 10km of her life and boy, she surprised even herself to clock creditable time. She is now making preparation for Stanchart 21km half marathon and with sheer determination, she can complete the race at own pace - 加油, Winnie!

On 24 May, I did the 15km Saucony 100Plus PAssion Run with Chua while Winnie participated in the 10km event. It was a hot morning at East Coast and flagged-off was slightly delayed @ 0800 hrs. I huffed and puffed, finally hit the tape @ 1 hr 28 mins plus and Chua, always a stronger & fitter runner than me finished well ahead of me. It was a good run for me but I did hope the weather would have been more forgiving.

The Singapore Bay Run & Army Half Marathon is a litmus test for me running up to my preparation for the full marathon in December this year. All the training mainly with my two running buddies, Chua and Eddie in the past months had geared me mentally for this 21 km event, my longest run thus far. It was a pity Winnie who had enrolled for the 10 km event could not participate due to foot injury. Wishing you a speedy recovery, Winnie and not to worry, this run was for you too.

Chua picked me up at 4.30am hrs and by 5 am, we arrived at the Esplanade, the starting point. Looking around for toilet but frantic search around, found none and like many guys (wonder how the ladies did it though), we relieved near the bushes. At that hour, it was still dark...phew.

Warmed up enough, we took a casual walk to the start point and at 5.30 hrs, we were flagged off. For about 1 to 2 km, Chua and I stayed together but we will be running on our own pace to gauge how readiness we had prepared for ourselves. We will meet at the car park after the race.

It is always good to start off early in the morning for later than that I could not have imagined the hot sun glaring over us. We ran up the Benjamin Sheares bridge heading to Fort Road, I was maintaining a steady pace. It was still dark at that hour, the only spectators watching us were the construction workers along the Marina IR site.

At Fort Road, we turned to East Coast Park. There was a narrow path, everyone had to squeeze past and true enough, I did witness someone tripped and fell. The organiser could have arranged for that stretch to be broadened; imagine hundreds of runners squeezing through that narrow path.

Did a u-turn along the East Coast Park, we headed to Guillemard Road. At Nicoll Highway, we had covered more than half the distance by then. I was maintaining well, no cramp and no real pain yet. At about 15 km mark, I heard someone calling me from the opposite side and it was Chua. By my 'guesstimate', he was at least more than 1 km ahead of me at that juncture.

Near F1 corporate stands and Singapore Flyer @ 18 km mark, I started to feel cramp on both thighs. As if it was not bad enough, I felt pain on my right sore too. "Shit, my new sleeking-looking Nike running shoes have not been seasoned enough", I thought to myself then. Not wanting to injure myself, I decided to walk to loosen the muscle around my thighs. About 50 m walking, I decided to 'bite the pain' and pressed on. Admittedly, it was a tough tough 3 km to the tape.

At the final stretch near Esplanade, group of run runners making their way to the start point were crossing the road blocking the direction of the energy-sapped 21 km runners. Damn, no usherers to control the charging crowd, the organisers could have pre-empted it but alas, it was overlooked.

When I saw the finishing line at City Hall, I drew out my last quickening my pace at the last 50 m to clock home at 2 hours 14 mins plus. Collected my hard earned medal, gulped down two cans of 100 plus while spreading eagle on the ground. After a short rest, I took a stroll back to the carpark near Fort Canning knowing Chua will be waiting for me. He clocked a creditable time of 2 hours 4 mins plus.

Now, for the full marathon, I know that I must clock longer distance in training and if 21 km is not punishing enough, whatabout 42 km? Practise, practise...there is no short cut to success. My target for 42 km is 6 hours and anything lower than that, it's a bonus. This will cap my final goal for this year and come 2010, what other goal for me to achieve? Well, we shall see.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Semakau Run 2009



Thanks to Eddie, Chua and I had the privilege to join some 300 corporate leaders and government officials in this Semakau Run 2009 which is into its 3rd year running. The uniqueness of Semakau Landfill is that it is an island, just 8 kms south of Singapore is created entirely from the sea space filled with trash. It is an initiative of National Environment Agency started way back in 1995 , a first in the world too.

Semakau Run 2009 is only a short 5 km route, along the stretch of road in the landfill and its breezy surrounding simply blew you away.

We took the ferry at Pasir Panjang Ferry Terminal, just a short 20 mins ride away. At about 5.30 pm, the guest-of-honour, Minister Yaacob Ibrahim flagged us off. We did not intend to compete for fast times, instead chose to do a leisure jog around.

After the run, there was a sumptous dinner waiting for us before heading back to Singapore.

We enjoyed the trip and the run and we certainly look forward to another one next year.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Lee Kuan Yew: At 85, The Fire Still Burns

A frank discourse by a bumiputra of Malaysia.

LEE KUAN YEW : AT 85 , THE FIRE STILL BURNS
Written By *AHMAD MUSTAPHA
*The writer is a nephew of Dr Mahathir.


Singapore's Minister Mentor, Lee Kuan Yew, who was Singapore's founding father, has always been very direct in his comments. This was the man who outsmarted the communists in Singapore (with the innocent help of Malaya then and the willing help of the British) and who later outwitted the British and outpaced Malaysia in all spheres.

Singapore practices corrupt-free meritocracy and Malaysia affirmative action. The former attracted all the best brains and the latter chased out all the brains. The Singapore cabinet consists of dedicated and intelligent technocrats whereas Malaysia has one of the most unwieldy cabinets. Not only that, brain wise it was below par not even good for the kampong.

With that kind of composition, one that is very brainy, naturally Singapore, with no natural resources could outstrip Malaysia in every aspect of development. Malaysia, on the other hand, was too much preoccupied with its Malayness and the illusory 'Ketuanan Melayu' and was also more interested in useless mega iconic development rather than real social and economic development.

Whenever Kuan Yew utters anything that deemed to be a slight on Malaysia, voices were raised admonishing him. Malaysia would never dare to face reality. That Singapore had shown that it could survive was a slap on those who believed that Singapore would fold up once it left Malaysia. Therefore it was natural that these doomsayers would try to rationalise their utterances to be in their favour to combat on whatever Kuan Yew commented. Its political jealousy.

Singapore achieved its development status without any fanfare. But here in Malaysia, a development that was deceptive was proclaimed as having achieved development status. It was trumpeted as an achievement that befits first world status. This was self delusion. Malaysians are led to believe into a make believe world, a dream world. The leaders who themselves tend to believe in their own fabricated world did not realise the people were not taken in by this kind of illusion.

Lee Kuan Yew believed in calling a spade a spade. I was there in Singapore when the People's Action Party won the elections in 1959. He was forthright in his briefing to party members as to what was expected of them and what Singapore would face in the future. Ideologically, I did not agree with him. We in the University of Malaya Socialist Club had a different interpretation of socialist reconstruction. But he was a pragmatist and wanted to bring development and welfare to the Singaporeans. Well! He succeeded.

Malaysia was so much embroiled in racial politics and due to the fear of losing political power, all actions taken by the main party in power was never targeted towards bringing wealth to all. Wealth was distributed to the chosen few only. They were the cronies and the backers of the party leadership to perpetuate their own selfish ends.

Seeing the efficiency and the progress achieved by Singapore caused the Malaysian leadership to suffer from an inferiority complex. That Malaysia should suffer from this complex was of its own making.

In a recent interview, Kuan Yew said that Malaysia could have done better if only it treated its minority Chinese and Indian population fairly. Instead they were completely marginalized and many of the best brains left the country in drove. He added that Singapore was a standing indictment to what Malaysia could have done differently. He just hit the nail right there on the head.

Malaysia recently celebrated its 50th year of independence with a bagful of uncertainties. The racial divide has become more acute. The number of Malay graduates unemployed is on the increase. And this aspect can be very explosive. But sad to see that no positive actions have been taken to address these social ills.

Various excuses were given by Malaysian leaders why Singapore had far outstripped Malaysia in all aspects of social and economic advancement. Singapore was small, they rationalized and therefore easy to manage. Singapore was not a state but merely an island.

There was one other aspect that Malaysia ealized and that is to ealizeda all aspects of life. All government organs and machinery were ‘UMNO-ised’. This was to ensure that the party will remain in power. Thus there was this misconception by the instruments of government as to what national interest is and what UMNO vested interest is.

UMNO vested interest only benefited a few and not the whole nation. But due to the UMNO-isation of the various instruments of government, the country under the present administration had equated UMNO vested interest as being that of national interest. Thus development became an avenue of making money and not for the benefit of the people. The fight against corruption took a back seat. Transparency was put on hold. And the instruments of government took it to be of national interest to cater to the vested interest of UMNO. Enforcement of various enactments and laws was selective. Thus a ‘palace’ in Kelang, Aps cronies and close-one-eye umno MPs could exist without proper procedure. Corruption infested all govt departments, the worse is the police and lately even in the judiciary.

Singapore did not ealizeda its instruments of government. If ever ealizedation took place, it is guided by national interest. To be efficient and to be the best in the region was of paramount importance. Thus all the elements like corruption, lackadaisical attitude towards work and other black elements, which would retard such an aim, were eliminated. Singapore naturally had placed the right priority in it’s pursuit to achieve what is best for its people. This is the major difference between these two independent countries.

Malaysia in its various attempts to cover up its failures embarked on several diversions. It wanted its citizens to be proud that the country had the tallest twin-tower in the world, although the structure was designed and built by foreigners. Its now a white-elephant wasting away. It achieved in sending a man into space at an exorbitant price. For what purpose? These are what the Malays of old would say “menang sorak” (hollow victories).

It should be ealized that administering a country can be likened to managing a corporate entity. If the management is efficient and dedicated and know what they are doing, the company will prosper.. The reverse will be if the management is poor and bad. The company will go bust.

There are five countries around this region. There is Malaysia, and then Indonesia. To the east there is the Philippines and then there is that small enclave called the Sultanate of Brunei . All these four countries have abundance of natural resources but none can lay claim to have used all these resources to benefit the people. Poverty was rampant and independence had not brought in any significant benefits to the people.

But tiny Singapore without any resources at all managed to bring development to its citizens. It had one of the best public MRT transport systems and airlines in the world and it is a very clean city state. Their universities, health care, ports are among the best in the world.

It is impossible to compare what Singapore has achieved to what all these four countries had so far achieved. It was actually poor management and corruption, and nothing more. Everything is done for the vested interest of the few.

Malaysia, Indonesia and the Philippines and the Sultanate of Brunei need good management teams. They would not be able to do this on their own steam. I would advise that they call on Kuan Yew to show them what good governance is. Why look East to Japan when it is just next door across the causeway.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Never Giving Up, Dr William Tan


He has conquered Arctic, attempted the Antartic and perhaps the toughest of all, covered 7 gruelling marathons in seven continents in 27 days - created a world record in the process. And he did all these on his wheelchair. Despite being paralysed waist down due to polio at aged two, he is one special breed of human being, a Singaporean we can be proud of, who has persevered, trained much harder than the physically able-bodied ones to win accolade, one after another.

A doctor by profession, he has been giving inspirational talks around the world, sharing his insights on turning adversity into opportunity. I am truly inspired by him and so too for many, no doubt about it.

He may be down with leukaemia but he is not felled for good. He has now issued another challenge, perhaps his biggest by far to overcome this illness and he will fight on, no question about it.

Despite his present condition, he still has another mission and this time around, he hopes to raise at least S$70,000 for the Straits times School Pocket Money Fund on 26 Sep by towing children around a running track for long 12 hours. It is an uphill task given his present condition. Those who wish to chip in, you can raise cheque to "School Pocket Money Fund" and send to Research Communication International, 20 Upper Circular Road, #02-21 The Riverwalk, Singapore 058416. Please indicate "Cycle of Hope" on the back of the cheque.

Dr William Tan, stay fit and stay healthy for I will be rooting for you, all the way.

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Dr Mahatir Taking Pot Shot At Us Again


Dr Mahatir's latest posting on his blog, (http://chedet.co.cc/chedetblog/2009/07/the-modern-middle-kingdom-ii.html), cynically referring to Singapore as the modern middle kingdom (not again, sigh). It seems he has indicated no intention to relent anytime now, instead have worked hard to fire up sentiments on both sides using water as his attacking tool. Evidently, he enjoys creating difficulty to the present administration under PM Najib while the last Pak Lah administration was already destroyed by him almost 'single-handedly'.

The long outstanding matters between the two nations were painstakingly discussed but under his tenure-ship as PM, nothing could progress further due more to his stubbornness and personal pride perhaps. As a retired celebrated politician now, he will stop at nothing to derail any good intention for the two present governments to make progess to satisfy his personal vendatta against our dear MM Lee.

Notwithstanding, it is heartening to note that Singapore government has not reacted to his nonsensical postings on his blog from time to time and it now looks more comical on him (Dr M), akin to a clown in the circus trying hard to amuse his audience but failed badly. Whatever he said now, he shot himself on the foot. This water agreement was discussed, agreed and signed by both parties which is legally binding, no question about it. To veto it, surely Malaysia as a country will be viewed negatively by the world. Singapore dollar has risen against Ringgit currency and this is due to good governance on the Singapore side. For our good governance, it is now our fault that has rendered the water agreement to be more lopsided than ever. Of course this remains personal opinion of Dr M. Won't it be fair to state that Dr M, as 4th PM of Malaysia did a bad job to have allowed Ringgit currency (which started on equal footing when the two nations parted way) weakened against Singapore dollar over the years. Any child can pinpoint to him where had he erred then, piece of cake really. Unfortunately, he is now crying foul, for his own folly.

Tun, for goodness sake, please allow PM Najib to mend good ties with Singapore. It is not for you, it is certainly for the good of the two countries. Enjoy retirement while you can but, please shut up lah, Tun.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Rest In Peace, Michael Jackson


He will be missed by fans all over the globe, no question about it, for in my opinion and many others too, he was the best pop idol second to none. An immensely talented kid entertainer and was one good looking black, his biggest mistake I feel was to try to look caucasian. All those plastic surgeries he had undergone would have taken a toll on him in his middle age years, perhaps. Well, who are we, as outsiders to jump to conclusion on the cause of his sudden demise and I shall say no more. He is gone, that's a fact and even the real cause is later established, he won't be revived either.

Michael, you'll be remembered and may you rest in peace.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Dr Mahatir, An Angry Man More Likely


Following MM Lee trip to Malaysia, Dr M in his usual fiery style, posted this article on his blog (refer to http://chedet.co.cc/chedetblog/2009/06/the-modern-middle-kingdom.html) giving his die-hard supporters and not quite his supporter, me a short lesson on Middle Kingdom of ancient China then and the new Middle Kingdom of the modern era. In his short article, he was obviously taking a swipe at our shiny red dot, Singapore for as long as his nemesis, our dear MM Lee is still in government. As if he had not gibbered enough, he went on to hit the 5th PM of Malaysia, Pak Lah for acceding too much to Singapore during his tenure. He could have addressed the 5th PM by his name, instead chose to call him the 5th PM. This is certainly uncalled for. Tit-for-tat and with due respect to this 4th PM of Malaysia who by any measure, was a great PM Malaysia could have asked for, notwithstanding I cannot be faulted for returning the same 'swipe' to him by addressing him the 4th PM instead of respectfully addressing him, Tun or Dr Mahatir Mohamad.

A hungry man is an angry man, a popular idiom we hear so often. Hungry that he has not received supports from the greater masses to see the light of his teaching since his shock retirement from public office some 6 years ago and once deprived of that, he has gone overdrive by transforming into an angry man who shoots blank only.

4th PM of Malaysia, you must learn to manage your anger well. For this, you have to learn to take wise advice from your old peer, MM Lee who has certainly leapfrogged you in every department imaginable. He is not accorded the status of a elder statesman just because he is LKY; he is well regarded and respected by the leaders of big power nations for what red dot is today. Care to know why? This shiny red dot where I hail from is not perfect, for I recognise this red dot still have many flaws but we, as one people, one nation (the Chinese, Malays, Indians and other races coming together) can take comfort that it is constantly making changes to improve albeit slowly but surely. The two bigger dots, the East and the West you had once ruled enjoyed space abundant and are blessed with natural resources abundant, oil, timber, rubber and 'what have you' but economically, how far away are your two bigger dots from the small red dot? You have the answer for yourself, I don't have to elaborate further. I can only assume your hitting of our red dot could mean you are jealous of the many achievements red dot has earned, regionally and internationally, and if hitting below the belt could diffuse your anger till you re-ignite at your whims & fancies, please continue to do so.

4th PM of Malaysia, leave a legacy behind and not continue to make angry and baseless statements in your later years only to make a mockery of yourself. Despite all the swipes at you, I still regard you as one of the greatest & ablest leaders of the modern era second of course, to our dear LKY. For a 40 something year-old average Joe telling an 80 something year-old former great leader to grow up, I know it is too much asking for but do I have a choice, really? Please forgive me, Tun.

Friday, June 05, 2009

Why The Cheap Will Never Get Rich

Written by Robert Kiyosaki

The other day a friend of mine approached me excitedly, saying, "I found the house of my dreams. It's in foreclosure and the bank will sell it to me for a great price."

"How good is the price?" I asked.

"Just before the real estate market crashed, the seller was asking $780,000 for the property. Today, I can buy it from the bank for $215,000. What do you think?" she asked.

"How would I know?" I replied. "All you've given me is the price."

"Yes!" she squealed. "Now my husband and I can afford it."

"Only cheap people buy on price," I replied. "Just because something is cheap doesn't mean it's worth the cost."

I then explained to her one of my most basic money principles: I buy value. I will pay more for value. If I don't like the price, I simply pass. If the seller wants to sell, he will come back with a better price. I let him tell me what he will accept. I know some people love to haggle; personally, I don't. If a person wants to sell, they will sell. If I feel what I am buying is of value, I'll pay the price. Value rather than price has made me rich.

Against my advice, my friend sought financing for her "dream" home.

Fortunately, the bank turned her down. The house was on a busy street in a deteriorating neighborhood. The high school four blocks away was one of the most dangerous schools in the city. Her son and daughter would either have to go to private school or take karate lessons. She is now looking for a cheaper house to buy and has asked her father, who is retired, for help with the down payment. If her past is a crystal ball to her future, she will likely always be cheap and poor, even though she is a good, kind, educated, hard-working person.

My Point of View

What follows are some thoughts on why my friend will probably never get ahead financially -- especially in this market.

1. She and her husband have college degrees but zero financial education. Even worse, neither plans to attend any investment classes. Choosing to remain financially uneducated has caused them to miss out on the greatest bull and bear markets in history. As my rich dad often said, "What you don't know keeps you poor."

2. She is too emotional. In the world of money and investing, you must learn to control your emotions. When you think about it, three of our biggest financial decisions in life are made at times of peak emotional excitement: deciding to get married, buying a home, and having kids.

My dad often said, "High emotions, low intelligence." To be rich, you need to see the good and the bad, the short- and long-term consequences of your decisions. Obviously, this is easier said than done, but it's key to building wealth.

3. She doesn't know the difference between advice from rich people and advice from sales people. Most people get their financial advice from the latter -- people who profit even if you lose. One reason why financial education is so important is because it helps you know the difference between good and bad advice.

As the current crisis demonstrates, our schools teach very little about money management. Millions of people are living in fear because they followed conventional wisdom: Go to school, get a job, work hard, save money, buy a house, get out of debt, and invest for the long term in a well-diversified portfolio of mutual funds. Many people who followed this financial prescription are not sleeping at night. They need a new plan. Had they sought out a little financial education, they might not be entangled in this mess.

A Thank You to Jon Stewart

Speaking of finance experts, I personally want to thank Jon Stewart of 'The Daily Show' for taking on Jim Cramer and CNBC. Jon Stewart did an incredible job of representing the millions of people all over the world who have lost their savings in the market. He was right in saying he thought it "disingenuous" to advise people to invest for the long term through their retirement plans while knowing full well that traders could steal Americans' retirement money by trading in and out of the market. Most traders like Cramer realize that investing in mutual funds for the long term is financial suicide. Cramer should have spoken up, but we all know why CNBC won't let him tell the truth. If he did, the station's advertisers would leave.

While I applaud Cramer for going on 'The Daily Show' and facing the music, I'm afraid he was marginalized by Stewart -- certainly outgunned -- and he has lost his credibility. He may pay an even bigger price if the SEC decides to dig deeper.

Jim Cramer is a very smart man. I watch his show. I just do not follow his advice.

In closing, I will say what I have said for years: We need financial education in our schools. Without it, we cannot tell the good advice from the bad.

Thursday, June 04, 2009

Whatabout Marcus Chin (陈建彬)



I do know Marcus personally, though not close. We used to engage him to perform gigs onboard our vessel and resort for quite a while and whatever recent 'perceived bad publicity' of him covered by the press, it will never cross our mind not to engage him for future gigs with us solely based on moral ground, if at all.

Without a doubt, he is an almost complete artiste, can sing well, a good actor and a versatile host. He may not have attained the level of a superstar despite been in show business for umpteen years, he is nonetheless, a celebrity which, unfortunately is subjected to public scrutiny. Celebrity is still a human being just like anyone of us, he or she still needs to make a living the way he or she knows well. They may be married, divorced or single and for those who are married, they may have extra marital affair but what's the big fuss, really. The latest saga on Marcus, a married man being involved with his manager, a young lady in her 20s has been so widely covered in the Chinese press seemed to have 'pre-judged' him and his girlfriend as guilty of committing a grave crime. He had to explain his personal marriage which is on the rock in front of the TV audience, something I feel he owes nobody any explanation other than his own wife. If their marriage has hit a rock, it is all up to them to handle their own affair, period. This is a wake-up call to the media to leave him to handle his own affair, give him some breathing space. And to all his fans, support him as an artiste first and not to shun him based on his extra marital affair.

Marcus, please continue to give your all as an artiste and never be swayed by negative opinions of others. Cheers to you!

For Friends only - Well Thought Chinese Classical Poem

出生一张纸,开始一辈子;
毕业一张纸,奋斗一辈子;
婚姻一张纸,折磨一辈子;
做官一张纸,斗争一辈子;
金钱一张纸,辛苦一辈子;
荣誉一张纸,虚名一辈子;
看病一张纸,痛苦一辈子;
悼词一张纸,了结一辈子;
淡化这些纸,明白一辈子;
忘了这些纸,快乐一辈子!

这周是世界好友周,
当大部分人都在关注你飞得高不高时,只有少部分人关心你飞得累不累,这就是友情。
再忙,也要照顾好自己。
朋友虽不常联系,却一直惦念。
保重! 祝世界好友周快乐!!!

Monday, June 01, 2009

Singapore Passion Run 2009



Organised by PASSION Card, this run was scheduled on 24 May, Sunday @ East Coast. Both Chua and I registered for the 15 km while Winnie took on the 10 km, her second 10 km run for this year so far.

By far, this was the longest run for me this year which was a litmus test of sorts before the two main events, the Army 21 km half-marathon in August and the mother of marathons, Standard Chartered 42 km marathon.

In our usual practise, at least twice weekly with Chua and Eddie, we are averaging some 10 km per run but admittedly, I was somewhat concerned for Winnie who did not have regular run since her last 10 km in March which she clocked creditable time.

Had arranged with Winnie to pick her up on the morning of 24 May at Fort Road where she parked her car at her sister's place while Chua made his own way to East Coast. After some miscue, I managed to find the carpark near the seafood centre where Chua was already waiting for us. A minute later, all the lots would be gone.

Near but not exactly, we had to walk around 1 km to the start line. It was about 0730 hrs, the run for those runners who had registered in the competitive category had already been flagged off. Chua and I registered in the non-competitive category which was to flag-off at 0745 hrs and Winnie's 10km category was scheduled at 0800 hrs. Did a quick de-tour to the toilet followed by some light warm-up and we then headed for the start line.

The flag-off was slightly delayed and we were finally flagged off at about 0750 or about I think. Chua was pacing me throughout, he could have out-paced me once he moved into high gear. The morning was getting hotter, the sun never seemed to be forgiving as the minute ticked away. I was wondering, boy those who participated in the 5 km and 10 km category will be flagged off past the 0800 hrs had to content with the morning hot sun. For the first 10 km, we did steady pace and along the way, past many runners.

In my usual fashion, I decided not to push to the limit under such weather but knowing my buddy, Chua too well, he wanted to push himself further. I asked Chua to go all out at the last 5 km stretch while I kept a slower pace. Opened up, he did and finally I lost sight of him in the front. It was getting hotter and hotter and despite, all the training I had, this run was one tough one man. I pushed on, keeping a slower pace to the finish. A cute finishing medal was given and cheekily, I asked the young lady who gave me the medal for her name so that I could post her name in my blog but now, I cannot recall her name already (sorry!).

After the run, it was another 1 km walk to the carpark and by then, Chua and Winnie were already waiting for me there, fresh and fully re-charged. Pity, Chua had to go back to work, can't join us for breakfast at our usual haunt...where else, Old Airport Road market lor.

After more than 1 week of waiting, the result is finally out. Winnie clocked 1 hr 11 mins plus for her 10 km event, not bad considering she did not have regular run of late, Chua clocked 1 hr 24 mins plus whereas, I clocked 1 hr 28 mins plus. My aim for the 21 km run in August is under 2 hours and going at this rate, it is still touch-and-go for me and I really need to step up more on longer distance in training now. For Chua, it was a breeze. Hey, not bad an effort for old fella like me and I should stay contented. Good effort, Chua and Winnie! But where was our Eddie, having cold feet?

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Petty of STTA



Granted, the ex table tennis coach of Singapore, Liu Guodong was not well-liked by his team or so claimed by STTA's President, Lee Bee Wah. Granted, he was not present nor did he assign another coach for one of our male competitors during the last Olympics who eventually lost to someone ranked much lower than him. Had a coach assigned to him then, he could have won that round...or was it the case to be? Blame game then erupted and finally, Liu decided to leave our shore for Indonesia. Lee then immediately hit back at the coach, obviously fuming hot for the loss of our male competitor in the competition. Rightly so, she should have held back her cool during the competition proper, instead of rattling off to the media. Her own handling of this fracas was equally bad.

Hey, this man has helped Singapore secured the elusive silver medal for the women's table tennis team. Admittedly, I did not feel a sense of pride as Singaporean, given the entire women's team hailed not from our home soil. Notwithstanding, we have achieved our objective, didn't we? Give credit when it's due, the women's table tennis team won the 'Team of the Year' award in this year's Singapore Sports Awards but their coach did not win the 'Coach of the Year' award, damn it. Cited by Lee, it is more than winning, integrity of sorts and respect of sorts play important part too. This sounded more petty on the part of STTA than any noble claim so put by Lee and her committee not to nominate Liu for the coach award. He deserves to be recognised for his effort, his committment and it seems from the outside, personal dislike for someone has been displayed by someone with authority within the fratenity. Was it not obvious enough?

Liu Guodong, fret not...you surely have earned your status as the coach of the year in the public eye and not let petty claim by STTA to put you down. Hip hip hip hooray to you...!

Sunday, May 03, 2009

Shut Up, Jackie Chan



One wonders, "Does a movie star has it to be a good politician if he does harbour one or is it fame has gotten the better of him of late?" This one, of course refers to the famed movie action star, Jackie Chan who seems to have stepped out of his own boundary; something he has worked so hard and have done so well for so long but to venture beyond, it is certainly not his cup of tea.

His recent remarks suggesting the Chinese in Hongkong and Taiwan need to be controlled may have pleased the leaders in mainland China but certainly, have not gone down well in Hongkong and Taiwan. He has probably done his own simple calulation, even a 3-year old can add up...making 1.3 billion people in China happy is worth everything for adding up Hongkong and Taiwan population is less than 2% of the entire population. Well, his next movie will be another big hit in China but for sure, a big flop outside. I will boycott all his movies from now on, till he apologises...sigh.

To top it off, he went on to hit Singaporeans for the lack of social grace as if he has aplenty. Or because he has agreed to donate part of his prized collection to Singapore, he feels Singapore is 'indebted' to him for his generosity. Hell with you Jackie, if you are not able to talk with grace with your all offending remarks of late, please shut your big mouth for good. Flex your ageing muscle or spin a somersault or two, just do the things you do well but please, the next time you talk, talk with some 'cow' sense.

Your political masters need someone with utmost tact and diplomacy, fame alone is not enough to lend you a plum post in Beijing after your retirement which is not very far away either.

Your social grace needs to be checked, Jackie!

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Spoon Story

This story was taken from a source I received recently, I am not the author of the story but merely, posted here for public viewing.

Quote

I remember Arthur Anderson doing the job evaluation in MINDEF - surprised that they are now doing micro-management in restaurant work processes, just hope they don't forget the importance of hygience grading...

Advice : DO NOT drop your spoon next time when you are in a restaurant !!The spoon:
A lesson on how consultants can make a difference in an organization.

Last week, we took some friends to a new restaurant, 'Steve's Place,' and noticed that the waiter who took our order carried a spoon in his shirt pocket. It seemed a little strange. When the busboy brought our water and utensils, I observed that he also had a spoon in his shirt pocket.

Then I looked around and saw that all the staff had spoons in their pockets. When the waiter came back to serve our soup I inquired, 'Why the spoon?' 'Well, 'he explained, 'the restaurant's owner hired Andersen Consulting to revamp all of our processes. After several months of analysis, they concluded that the spoon was the most frequently dropped utensil. It represents a drop frequency of approximately 3
spoons per table per hour. If our personnel are better prepared, we can reduce the number of trips back to the kitchen and save 15 man-hours per shift.'

As luck would have it, I dropped my spoon and he replaced it with his spare. 'I'll get another spoon next time I go to the kitchen instead of making an extra trip to get it right now.' I was impressed. I also noticed that there was a string hanging out of the waiter's fly. Looking around, I saw that all of the waiters had the same string hanging from their flies. So, before he walked off, I asked the waiter,
'Excuse me, but can you tell me why you have that string right there?' 'Oh, certainly!' Then he lowered his voice. 'Not everyone is so observant. That consulting firm I mentioned also learned that we can save time in the restroom. By tying this string to the tip of our you-know-what, we can pull it out without touching it and eliminate the need to wash our hands, shortening the time spent in the restroom by 76.39%. I asked quietly, 'After you get it out, how do you put it back?' 'Well,' he whispered, 'I don't know about the others, but I use the spoon.'

Unquote

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Guys, Stay Clear From This Fiesty Lady


This is one fiesty lady from China is one we better stay clear in any argument. Enjoy this short video clip and you'll know what I meant.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Long Overdue Meeting


Once again, I happened to be the only thorn (sigh...) among the roses. On the far left, it's Irene and next to her, Winnie. To my left, there is Amanda, next to her is Connie and Jean on the extreme right.

This gathering on last Friday (20 Mar) was infact, long overdue and all thanks to Winnie, yes Winnie, my running mate who initiated the get-together of old comrades. And ya, one more thorn was supposed to join us but he (Vincent Kong) had a more important appointment with turf club, being an all important Friday for punters. Between horses and roses, he felt the former was more important for him. Thanks to him though, we had a good dinner at Bellini and much laughter too.

It has been ages since I last met Jean and Amanda, really I cannot remember when was that last time. Boy, both ladies still look gorgeous but no chance for me now for both of them are happily married with kids in tow. Err...friends forever!

I enjoyed the get-together albeit feeling bad that Winnie's car hit the kerb at tight corner in carpark, no qualm footing the bill like a gentleman and will be looking forward to the next gathering.

Ladies, this thorn is no ordinary thorn as it has its loving side too, save for the hair part. Till we meet again.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Perp Walks Instead of Bonuses

By Robert Scheer

There must be a criminal investigation of the AIG debacle, and it looks as if New York’s top lawman is on the case. The collusion to save this toxic company in order to salvage the rogue financiers who conspired to enrich themselves by impoverishing millions is being revealed as the greatest financial scandal in U.S. history. Instead of taking bonuses, the culprits should be taking perp walks.

I’m not just referring to the swindlers in the Financial Products Subsidiary of AIG who devised and sold those insurance policies on derivatives that brought the world economy to its knees. They do seem deserving of a special place in hell, and presumably the same divine power that according to Scripture labeled usury a high moral crime and threw the money-changers out of the temple will consider that outcome.

However, the enablers are the AIG leaders who, as New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo revealed Tuesday, signed those bonus contracts a year ago to reward the very people “principally responsible for the firm’s meltdown.” That’s a cool $44 million divided among the top 10 shysters, even though the depth of their chicanery was well known to top management.

As Cuomo noted in a letter to Rep. Barney Frank: “The contracts shockingly contain a provision that required most individuals’ bonuses to be 100% of their 2007 bonuses. Thus, in the spring of last year, AIG chose to lock in bonuses for 2008 at 2007 levels despite obvious signs that 2008 performance would be disastrous in comparison to the year before.”

The lame argument that those bonus-baby employees needed to be retained in order to sort out the mess they had created was also shot down by Cuomo, who revealed after his office’s initial investigation had pierced AIG’s veil of secrecy that “[e]leven of the individuals who received `retention’ bonuses of $1 million or more are no longer working at AIG, including one who received $4.6 million.”

But the $165 million in taxpayer funds used to reward them is but a sideshow in a far larger drama of moral decay swirling around the banking bailout. It should not distract from the many billions, not paltry millions, of our dollars being diverted to reward the very folks who brought us such misery. Consider the $12.8 billion of the $170 billion that taxpayers gave AIG in bailout funds that AIG then secretly diverted to Goldman Sachs, a company that evidently has a lock on both the Treasury Department and the Federal Reserve no matter which political party is in power. It was the biggest payoff among those that AIG made to a score of foreign and domestic financial giants.

The bailout is a response to a banking crisis that resulted from the radical deregulation pushed by former Goldman Sachs honcho Robert Rubin when he was President Clinton’s treasury secretary. Another Goldman Sachs chairman-turned-treasury-secretary, Henry Paulson, in the Bush administration designed the trillion-dollar bank bailout that will go down as the greatest swindle in U.S. history.

It was because of Paulson that AIG was saved from bankruptcy hours after Goldman rival Lehman Brothers was allowed to go down the drain. Why that reversal of strategy in a top-secret meeting called by then New York Fed Chair Timothy Geithner, a Rubin protégé and now Barack Obama’s treasury secretary? Why was Goldman’s Lloyd Blankfein the only financial industry CEO in attendance? When that news leaked out, his role was defended as that of a noninvolved concerned citizen with expert knowledge, and whose firm had no direct monetary stake in the outcome.

That was a lie.

Goldman Sachs was into AIG insurance policies for at least $20 billion, which is why the firm got that $12.8 billion while Paulson was in charge. It took six months for the embarrassing facts to finally come out. The bailout program was administered by Neel Kashkari, a former Goldman Sachs VP; why are we not surprised at that?

Another pretend innocent in all this is AIG’s CEO Edward M. Liddy, famed defender of the $440,000 AIG executive retreat in Monarch Beach, Calif., held on the heels of the taxpayer bailout. His actions now are defended as mistakes made by a well-intentioned outsider who decided to work for a dollar a year after Paulson appointed him head of AIG. That is just garbage.

Liddy was complicit in Goldman Sachs’ role in creating this mess. As a director of Goldman Sachs, he was paid $685,770 in 2007 and would have come in for some questioning if the firm had gone down. Liddy even headed its audit committee during the five years before he resigned that seat to take over AIG in September 2008. As for his salary sacrifice, not to worry; in 2005, when he was still CEO of Allstate Insurance, he received $26.7 million in compensation.

What we have here is a rare glimpse into the workings of the billionaires’ club, that elite gang of perfectly legal loan sharks who, in only the most egregious cases, will be judged as criminals—Bernard Madoff, former chairman of NASDAQ, comes to mind. These other amoral sharks, who confiscated billions from shareholders and the 401(k) accounts of innocent victims, were rewarded handsomely, rarely needing to break the laws their lobbyists had purchased.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Suburban Run @ North East on 15 Mar 2009


This run in Sengkang is only a teaser to the big race at year end, just 5km to test the ground. To our pleasant surprise, this event attracted quite a sizeable turnout and evidently, there are many fitness conscious Singaporeans, PRs and working expatriates out there where economic crisis is simply non-existent.

Missed taking Winnie's picture at the race venue for memento, took this one at Old Airport Road carpark where we headed for breakfast after the race.

The morning sun was quite fiery though we were flagged off @ 8 am and we didn't do enough warm-up due to long queue line for the toilet prior to the race. 5 km, yes but it was not an easy one owing to the weather. We ran the usual pace and finished around 32 mins (1 min of so to be taken off due to crowding in the front when flagged off).

At the finish point, we were given a nice medal (not some cheaply produced certificates at the last race, no name of the organisers mentioned) coupled with a stylish cap. On whole, it was not a bad race though I lament more volunteers could be properly assigned to guide the runners, coz at some point, it was somewhat confusing.

One down, more to go...but saving the best for last; for me, the 42 km and for Winnie, it's 21 km. Go for goal!

Sunday, March 08, 2009

Billions Dished Out In The Shadows



By Robert Scheer

This is crazy! Forget the bleating of Rush Limbaugh; the problem is not with the quite reasonable and, if anything, underfunded stimulus package, which in any case will be debated long and hard in Congress. The problem is with what is not being debated: the far more expensive Wall Street bailout that is being pushed through—as in the case of the latest AIG rescue—in secret, hurried deal-making primarily by the unelected secretary of the treasury and the chairman of the Federal Reserve.

Six months ago, we taxpayers began bailing out AIG with more than $140 billion, and then it went and lost $61.7 billion in the fourth quarter, more than any other company in history had ever lost in one quarter. So Timothy Geithner and Ben Bernanke huddled late into the night last weekend and decided to reward AIG for its startling failure with 30 billion more of our dollars. Plus, they sweetened the deal by letting AIG off the hook for interest it had been obligated to pay on the money we previously gave the company.

AIG doesn’t have to pay the 10 percent interest due on the preferred stock the U.S. government got for the earlier bailout funds because that interest will now be paid out only at AIG’s discretion, which means never. The preferred stock, which got watered down, carried a cumulative interest, meaning we taxpayers would have recaptured some money if the company ever got going again, but that interest obligation was waived in the new deal.

We’ve already given AIG a total of $170 billion—an amount that dwarfs the $75 billion allocated to helping those millions of homeowners facing foreclosures. And more will be thrown down the AIG rat hole because President Barack Obama is blindly following the misguided advice of his top economic advisers, who insist that AIG is too big to fail.

“AIG provides insurance protection to more than 100,000 entities, including small businesses, municipalities, 401(k) plans and Fortune 500 companies who together employ over 100 million Americans,” the joint Treasury Department and Fed statement declared while insisting that for that reason, plus the “systemic risk AIG continues to pose and the fragility of markets today, the potential cost to the economy and the taxpayer of government inaction would be extremely high.”

What about the cost of inaction by Treasury and the Fed before this meltdown? If AIG were so important to the American economy, shouldn’t government regulators have been looking more closely at its activities? They couldn’t then, and even now they don’t understand what AIG has been up to, because the company was allowed to operate in an essentially unregulated global economy in which multinational corporations have their way. As the Treasury/Fed statement concedes: “AIG operates in over 130 countries with over 400 regulators and the company and its regulated and unregulated subsidiaries are subject to very different resolution frameworks across their broad and diverse operations without an overarching resolution mechanism.”

Oh, really? And you’re discovering that only now, when you’re making us bail AIG out? It wasn’t that long ago that a couple of hustlers operating out of an AIG office in London were going wild making money off selling insurance on credit default swaps that no one could understand, but the company execs loved those huge profit margins. To challenge their maneuvering, as some in Congress attempted, was said by their defenders, including Geithner, to put them at an unfair disadvantage in the world market. Ignorance was bliss … until the bubble burst.

This was all belatedly conceded by Bernanke in his Senate testimony on Tuesday: “AIG exploited a huge gap in the regulatory system. There was no oversight of the Financial Products division. This was a hedge fund, basically, that was attached to a large and stable insurance company, made huge numbers of irresponsible bets—took huge losses. There was no regulatory oversight because there was a gap in the system.”

AIG used to be in the conventional insurance business, covering identifiable risks it knew something about, until it took advantage of deregulation and a lack of government surveillance to come up with contrived new financial products. Even Maurice Greenberg, the man who built AIG from the ground up over a span of 40 years before he was forced out amid corruption charges in 2005, admits that he didn’t understand the newfangled financial gimmicks that the company was peddling. This week, claiming he too was swindled, Greenberg sued in federal court, charging the AIG execs who forced him out with “gross, wanton or willful fraud or other morally culpable conduct,” over the credit default swap portfolio that was part of his settlement.

U.S. taxpayers now have ownership of almost 80 percent of AIG, but with the company’s once solid traditional insurance business now suffering a steep loss of consumer confidence, it’s not likely that even the formerly healthy parts of the company will be worth much. What we have here is all pain and no gain for the taxpayers roped into this debacle, which is proving to be the story of the entire banking bailout.

Saturday, March 07, 2009

Newton Active Run 2009


Ran this 10km race with my regular running partner, Winnie on 1 Mar, Sunday. For Winnie, it was her first attempt at 10km and prior to the race day, she was not sure whether she could finish the race not walking at some stage. We have had some training at East Coast in the evening after work, the two last covering near 6 km only - the longest run by far.

Quietly, I knew she could deliver around 1 hr 10 min or better but she felt too much pressure had been asserted on her if a target was set for her. She would prefer to run her own pace and to complete it only, relieving her of any pressure for best time. I left it at that but I remained confidence that 1 hr 10 min is not too far-fetched.

The race venue was at Sengkang, near Farmway LRT. We arrived before the flagged off at 0745 hrs, did our warm-up and joined all the runners in the men's and women's veteran category at the start-off. Finally, we were flagged off by Defence Minister Teo. Trying to retire to bed early the night before, Winnie could only manage two hour of sleep and physical fitness could be compromised as a result. Fortunately, it was a cool morning and the track was fairly level throughout, save for some slight uphill in the park.

At the 3 km mark, I could hear her heavy breathing and some bit of struggle but she kept running, keeping a steady pace. One step forward meant one step lesser to our destination, we kept running and never once, stopped for a breather. I was pleasantly surprised at her pace despite fighting sleep the night before. About 1 km to the ending, I took a glance at my watch. We were under 1 hour and by then, I knew we can hit the tape under 1 hr 10 mins. I kept it from Winnie for obvious reason.

Coming to the final 100 metre, the big clock above showed 1 hr 3 mins plus...and I finally said to Winnie, try to finish under 1 hr 5 mins. She got the message and made a final dash - clocking 1 hr 4 min, a fantastic finish to the tape.

For good measure, she finished in a creditable 26 position out of 65 in her category - women's veteran in her first 10 km race. Her timing could have placed her 603 out of 865 in men's category, 129 out of 175 in men's veteran category and 102 out of 285 in women's category. If she is not a super mum, who else is? Kudos Winnie, keep running.

A Trillion Here, A Trillion There

By Douglas Rediker

In England, home of the English language, the word "trillion" is rarely used. Instead, the phrase "a thousand billion" is used instead. I recommend that the US follows suit. It is not that I am an anglophile, but rather that I believe we have reached the point where the number "one trillion" simply fails to capture just how big it (and the financial crisis that causes us to use this number on a regular basis) really is.

A thousand billion is, I think, a far better means to express just how big this number really is. After all, the famous phrase allegedly uttered by Senator Everett Dirksen about "a billion here and a billion there and sooner or later you're talkin' about real money" was his way of expressing the same concept - about a number that is one thousand times smaller than the trillion dollar number that is increasingly being used to express our current predicament.

Try this out - Economist Nouriel Roubini, who correctly forecast the scale of the current crisis, recently estimated that total losses on loans made by US financial firms and the fall in market value of the assets they are holding will be about $3.6 trillion, with US banks and broker-dealers exposed to about half that amount - or $1.8 trillion.

Based on his calculations, approximately another $1.4 trillion will be needed to restore banks to the level of capital they had before the crisis. Are you still sitting down? You shouldn't be. These are enormous numbers that imply enormous problems. But the size of these figures is just not easily internalized by our brains.

Now see if this makes a difference - the total market capitalization of Citi, is now around $5 billion, while that of Bank of America is around $15 billion and Morgan Stanley is around $19 billion. The total fall in value of assets held by the US banking sector is around $3,600 billion creating a hole of about $1,400 billion. See what I mean.

As we increasingly read about TARP, stimulus, rescue packages and the rest, it is important to constantly remind ourselves that each trillion is actually a thousand billion dollars. Or, if you want to really put it in perspective, each trillion is a million million dollars (1,000,000 x $1,000,000).

I am sure that mathematicians and psychologists could explain why the numbers do what they do and the brain does what it does, but what is important to me is that we not lose sight of the size and scale of the world's current economic and financial woes. The numbers are big - really big. So big that I simply don't think that the word "trillion" does it justice.

So I, for one, will no longer use the word "trillion" but rather will revert to the "thousand billion." It's my tiny contribution to fostering a better understanding of the size and scale of the current problems confronting us all.