Saturday, December 31, 2011

Summary of My 2011

It's the last day of 2011 and a countdown party was to start at Glady's place but cancelled due to the untimely passing of her beloved mother. How is 2011 to me? If I have to give a rating, I would rate 6 out of 10 at most.

Work-wise, it has been just too mundane...nothing to shout about, really. Finance is manageable while stock & share investment has been rather lacklustre throughout the entire year For my achievements in 2011, I would say earning ACTA qualification is an added credence to my resume that probably set the trainer path for me in the near future and on the outdoor frontier, it would be the completion of two full marathons, Sundown and Stanchart and the second consecutive climb to Mt Kinabalu.

Going into 2012, a dragon year but global economy has expected to be weak. I will hit the half century mark in Feb and I have to carefully weigh my options, whether to stay put or venture out. While trying to stay positive, I am looking forward to the new year with some plans already put in place. It will still be a challenging year but life still goes on, for better or worse. I am ready for 2012, are you?

Monday, December 12, 2011

Lee Kuan Yew: At 85 The Fire Still Burns

Note from Collin Ng:
It is claimed this article is written by a nephew of Dr Mahathir, Ahmad Mustapha. It is copied the way I have received it by email from a source.

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 marginalised 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 rationalised and therefore easy to manage. Singapore was not a state but merely an island.

There was one other aspect that Malaysia practices and that is to politicise 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 politicise its instruments of government.
If ever politicisation 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 its 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. It’s 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 realised 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 has 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.

Tuesday, December 06, 2011

Sunday, December 04, 2011

Standard Chartered Marathon Singapore 2011 (SCMS)

It is my second 42km marathon this year, following the last Sundown Marathon which I clocked 4 hrs 32 mins and I hoped to clock 4 hrs 15 mins - a personal target I set for myself. One week before the race, I cut down on long distance running with Chua to give enough rest to my legs.

The race this morning was tough but fortunately for us, the weather was pretty cool and no sign of rain threatening. As expected, the adrenalin rush in me will keep me awake throughout the night. I set my alarm at 3.00am, 2 hours to the flag off at 5.00am and since MRT is running 24/7, I should arrive well ahead of flag-off time. To my little surprise, I managed to catch few hours of sleep but I was already up and running at 2.30 am. Before 3am, I was already walking to Aljunied station on my way to Orchard fully geared.

I was among the early birds and by my reckoning it should be around 3.30am (didn't have my watch on - intentional) Slowly as the clock continued to tick, more and more runners were streaming in. This year 20,000 runners registered for the full marathon, more than the 10km and 21km category. While waiting at the start point, I was hoping to catch my buddy Chua but no luck. I didn't have my mobile phone with me, again it was intentional so that I can run as light as possible. We were to be flagged off near the Mandarin Orchard and exactly 5.00am, off we went.

I aimed to maintain 6 mins per km pace, if I hoped to clock under 4 hrs 15 mins. I was striding consistently, coping well. Best of all, I kept the pacers, the 4 hrs, 4 hrs 15 mins, 4 hrs 30 mins, 4 hrs 45 mins and 5 hrs all the way behind. In fact in the first 10km, the 3 hrs 30 mins pacers were within my sight. I was pacing well within the 6 mins/km target. The first 10km took us from Orchard to New Bridge Road and into the business district. From there, we ran past F1 pit and to Fort Road. From Fort Road, we then headed to East Coast Park and all the way to East Coast Lagoon. At the first East Coast Park, I saw a lone African runner who was way ahead of the rest of the pack. He was already heading back the opposite direction to the city. He was more than 10km in front of me, covered near 30km at that juncture and I had then covered about 15km. Like the rest, we clapped as he strode past. A group of African runners were trying to catch up with him. Then further down, I saw our first local runner, an Indian. Finally, Mok, our local champion was with a group of runners who was trailing behind. Not surprising, he was nursing injury for few months and surely, he lost some of his fitness. It was still pitched dark at East Coast Park. I was glad that I was still pacing well, never stopped.

The U-turn near East Coast is the 21km mark and I cleared that hurdle without trouble. However, some few kilometres later, I started to feel fatigue of sorts. I slowed my pace and then I felt hunger, gosh! I was losing energy but there was no pain in my legs after more than 20km run. I started to walk a short distance to sustain the loss of energy from the hunger. I yearned for banana or energy gel but the water point along the East Coast stretch provided just mineral water and 100plus. Some 24 km into the race, the 4 hrs pacers overtook me but it was to be expected. I didn't attempt to keep pace with them, simply let them drift further and further from me. I started to adopt walk and run strategy, hoping to conserve some energy to the last part. After I ran past former Big Splash, I caught sight of Clarence on the opposite side. I shouted at him and he merely acknowledged less his jovial self, gave him a thumbs-up. From the look of it, I knew he was struggling. Hey, who wasn't...I was also trying to sustain the fatigue in my body and legs.

Some 30km into the race, the 4 hrs 30 mins pacers ran past me. I knew I will not be able to achieve my personal best time of 4 hrs 15 mins and under. I just have to keep going, telling myself to finish the race no matter what. Frankly, the last 10 km was the toughest when fatigue got the better of me. My legs wanted to run but my mind told me to walk. I managed to grab a banana after 30km mark at the water point but still couldn't finish the whole banana.

When one of the marhsals shouted 7km more, I was already aching all over. I wondered whether I could muster enough energy to run the last 7km and as much as I would like to, I had to switch from walking to running and back. This slowed down my pace considerably and at some 36km mark, the 4 hrs 45 mins pacers strode past me. I had 3 km more to the finish, just tag along to them I told to myself. But suddenly, my right calf pulled a cramp and I had to stop. After some stretching, I resumed my run and walk but the pacers had by then moved ahead and ahead of me.

We had to run up the Benjamin Sheares and a sign indicated this is a 'Heartbreak Bridge' because it is upslope for a good 800 metres. At that juncture, we joined the rest of the 21km runners and it was frustrating overtaking them. The bridge was packed with runners, I had to move from side to side just to overtake them (damn, they were walking as if it was a stroll in the park). It was frustrating. And near the F1 pit, 10km runners were linked to us. It was not enjoyable running the final 2km stretch from F1 to City Hall, chock-a-block with rest of the runners from other categories. I lost the inspiration to push the final 2 km, frustration got the better of me. Finally, at the final turn to City Hall, I just ran less the usual 'boost' I reserved for the final 100 metres. The clocked showed 4 hours 50 mins plus when I ran past it. Personal best was not achieved but I am glad that I have completed my 4th marathon in 3 years.