Friday, February 27, 2009

It cuts both ways

Sometimes, it leaves an imprint
The moment frozen
The winters pass
And the summers always come
A torrent forever remembered
The anguish and hope
A collision of ice and flame
But in that memory you're not alone
Cos it cuts both ways

To David Cook- Thanks for lending the emotional credence to a song I previously ignored

We were as one babe
For a moment in time
And it seemed everlasting
That you would always be mine

Now you want to be free
So I'm letting you fly
Cause I know in my heart babe
Our love will never die

You'll always be a part of me
I'm a part of you indefinitely
Girl don't you know you can't escape me
Ooh darling cause you'll always be my baby
And we'll linger on
Time can't erase a feeling this strong
No way you're never gonna shake me
Ooh darling cause you'll always be my baby

I ain't gonna cry no
And I won't beg you to stay
If you're determined to leave girl
I will not stand in your way
But inevitably you'll be back again
Cause ya know in your heart babe
Our love will never end no

You'll always be a part of me
I'm part of you indefinitely
Girl don't you know you can't escape me
Ooh darling cause you'll always be my baby
And we'll linger on
Time can't erase a feeling this strong
No way you're never gonna shake me
Ooh darling cause you'll always be my baby

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

A Dose of Mediocre Governance

This item will no longer be continued due PAP fatigue.

The PAP government has essentially pushed the nation into a zero-sum economic endgame. First- breaking the cardinal rule of investments- Over 30% of Singapore's Sovereign Wealth Funds (SWF) into one mess of an American financial sector. Second- possible pipe dream hopes of Integrated Casinos boosting local economy.

Bottomline, I can't really care about what we've already lost. I'm more worried about what we will potential lose in the future if the current decision makers continue down the path.

State of the Local Economy

  • Deteriorating economic conditions in the US and Europe accounting for 33% of our non-oil exports. 20% exports to Indonesia, Malaysia & Thailand combined.
  • IMF surveys indicate US and European economies to CONTRACT 0.5% and 0.7% this year.
  • Based on 2006 figures, SMEs account for 42% employment but only 24% of output. Ergo improving productivity and efficiency of SMEs might go a long way to sustaining economic activity (employment and output).
  • Chance to rethink policy of over dependence on MNCs perhaps?
Our economy is tanking and poor investment foresight of our SWF aside, the focus of this article is to look at PM Lee Hsien Long's trump card to raise our sinking economy- the Integrated Resorts (IRs).

The Casino Game and its KNOWN Players
  • Las Vegas - Long time player
  • Macau - Initial dark horse, overtaken Vegas
  • Taiwan - local parliament has legalised gambling for offshore islands
  • Singapore - Underdog
Potential new ASIAN players
With talks of relaxing Gaming regulations in the following nations:
  • Thailand
  • Vietnam
  • Japan
The Players' Hands (demand/visitors)
  • Las Vegas - Based on 2008 figures: 37.5 million. (2005: 34.7 million)
  • Macau - Based on 2005 figures: 14.7 million visitors (60% Mainland Chinese 30% HK 10% others)
  • Taiwan - 2008: Close to 4 million. New regional player expected to operate 2013 (Quite possibly sharing 14.7 million china pie especially if cross-strait relations improve. Not counting home market.)
  • Singapore - Based on 2008: 10.1 million. New regional player expected to operate by 2009-2011 (2-4 yrs headstart, unknown if China will allow cash outflow from territorial Macau to Singapore - probably not. Home Market: 2.47 million assuming our entire workforce gambles. Not taking into account flight of foreign labor as downturn worsens).
The casino breakeven game
  • Gilbert Koh, Senior Researcher at Institute of Policy Studies: Singapore IRs need 8 million visitors to keep afloat.
  • 2008 arrivals in Singapore: 10.1 million
  • Even with Singapore Grand Prix, arrivals were down 2% from 2007.
  • Protracted global downturn will affect arrival figures further.

Long Story Short
Unlikely Singapore will meet required visitor figures. Unlike Macau, we can't even depend on local demand for gaming industry.

Consumer Psychology admist a Downturn
  • Consumers avoid big holidays during recessions. -1 Singapore
  • Depression gamers gamble closer to home. -1 Singapore

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

World of World of Warcraft

Blizzard Entertainment's new MMO unveiled- World of World of Warcraft.

World of world of Warcraft puts you in the shoes of someone imagining they're in the shoes of an elf, an orc or a human- Essentially, all the playable classes in World of Warcraft.

Considered by many as Blizzard's answer to The Sims, World of World of Warcraft, players create avatars of World of Warcraft players and then they're completely immersed in the world of a real World of Warcraft player.

Blizzard has gone to great lengths to create a fully interactive experience- complete with difficult challenges like having the player's avatar lose his internet connection during critical moments of a raid boss fight. The player then has to quickly re-establish connection through a call to the ISP or risk failing to enable his connection back to the World of Warcraft. If he fails the connection challenge, he also fails the boss challenge.

World of World of Warcraft will be available in stores Mid 2009.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Where's the crime!?

"Wah.. today.. I had sex with that chiobu cher.."
- unnamed local student

This is what would really happen outside the justice system of any country.

A horny teenager, 14 y
ears old, having never been involved intimately with a female of any age or attractiveness, getting the privilege of carnal knowledge with a teacher no less.

The only crime here would have been if the kid had said no.

That said, the prosecutors were probably jealous of the lucky lad. This isn't about being sexist. Nor was it rape. Believe you mean, I wouldn't think twice of throwing someone into the slammer for raping another human being. I don't care how at
tractive you look, male or female.

Biologically speaking, males and females of any species respond to sex differently. Males more often than not- want to propagate the species and thus have little emotional or biological incentive to attach to the receptacle of their spermatozoa. Females BOND during the act, seeking responsible mates to care for subsequent offspring.

Therefore, taking advantage of a female would be a crime simply because of the mental assault on the victim. The only way sex is a crime with a hormonally charged teenage boy, is that if he was raped by Rosie O'Donnell.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Sign of the times

Nuff said.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Temasek Holdings - Misunderstood?

Ho Ching has stepped down as CEO of Temasek Holdings. For over 6 years, the Prime Minister's wife has held one of Singapore's most powerful positions.

During her reign, some losses at Temasek included:
  • SGD 400 million- ABC Learning Centre, Australia

  • SGD 1.4 BILLION - sale of Merril Lynch (according to Reuters). Figures from Mutual Fund facts report that Temasek paid USD48 per share and at time of sale, sold their shares at USD29. Temasek denies this.

  • SGD 2 BILLION loss - Shin Corp fiasco

  • Further SGD 2.4 BILLION - Shin Corp fines

Under her, Temasek's investments in UBS (Switzerland), Citigroup, Barclays and Merrill Lynch - at an original cost of US$21.88b - have declined on by some 47 percent in value.

Paper loss of US$10.28b. Paper Loss defined: an unrealized loss on an investment calculated by subtracting the current market price from the investor's cost

My opinions:

Contrary to some Singaporeans, I understand that Singapore's position in the global community makes our markets heavily dependent on international trade. A small home market also weakens the government's ability to pump prime the national economy by providing cash incentives and rebates to boost consumer spending.

If I recall correctly, local consumer spending only contributes 40% to Singapore's economy (the average worldwide is around 50-55%).

What this means is that our economy depends on how well our friends do internationally. Many have bayed for blood at the losses incurred buying into banks like Citigroup but if you think about credit markets and cash flow- Banks like UBS, Merril Lynch and Citigroup provide credit to businesses and corporations across the continental United States.

Despite our size, we're the 15th biggest trading partner to the US ergo, if Temasek didn't act to purchase faltering US banks, stalled credit flow for US businesses might have dealt a deadly blow to Singapore's economy.

Whether Ho Ching was looking hungrily at simply buying US bank shares for profit or out of an understanding of the need for US businesses to remain liquid in order to continue trade with Singaporean companies- we really won't know.

I do know this- in a stroke of good fortune, our toxic Merril Lynch shares converted to Bank of America stocks after BoA's buyout of Merril. And quite frankly, I'm taking it as a sign of a Higher Power (God, not LKY) simply looking out for lesser mortals in Singapore.

I look forward to the investment savvy of Temasek's incoming CEO Charles Goodyear. Under the american's care, BHP's stock rose almost fourfold, outpacing the MSCI Materials Index’s 83 percent advance. Between 2003 and 2007, revenue went from $15.6 billion to $47.5 billion amid record gains in commodity prices.

Truth be told, I don't understand how an Electrical Engineering graduate from Stanford (i don't care how good the university is) implies financial intelligence that led Ho Ching to her meteoric rise as the head of Temasek (form your own opinions). For now, I believe we can all rest a bit easier now that someone with Mr. Goodyear's impeccable credentials and investment wisdom is at the helm.

Madam Ho Ching, I bid you good luck and I hope for our sakes, you enjoy your retirement.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Intelligence, NOT Singapore MP's forte

SINGAPORE - A Singapore lawmaker has a simple explanation for the city-state's lack of babies: procreation, he says, is "not our forte."

Loo Choon Yong also suggested that because more free time did not necessarily result in more babies, people should work on Saturdays, a report in The Straits Times said.

"We should accept that as a people, our procreation talent is not our forte -- nothing to crow about," Loo told the legislature on Wednesday.

The government announced last year that it would double spending on incentives to address a baby shortage that threatens the city-state's future.


Dr. Loo Choon Yong, Forbes #36 richest man in Singapore and co-founder of Raffles Medical Group. I'm certainly inspired by your stunning insight into the reproductive woes of Singapore.

As a medical doctor, I'm sure that your experience does not preclude the somewhat purely biological function of reproduction. As higher evolved mammals, humans have been known to make psychological and economical choices when it comes to mate selection and procreation.That you made the astute assessment and came to the conclusion that "more free time does not necessarily result in more babies" was a blinding insight that left me in an intellectual trance.

Sexual activity for the sake of pleasure notwithstanding, procreation within our city state is limited by our limited finances and limited family life options. Lacking natural resources, our city planners took it upon themselves to style Singapore as a shopping paradise and tourist attraction. I applaud them. Without natural wonders or vibrant national culture, pure economics have forced their hand to create a veritable tourist wonderland for high net worth individuals and visitors to our little red bean.

Fast forward to 1980s social studies lesson where I learned how Singapore's most valued resource is it's citizenry and highly productive (low cost- high output ratio)- Our citizens continually enjoy suppressed salaries while many white collar expatriates continue to extort their wonderful pay packages.

It leads the modern couple to go through their family planning checklist:

  • Rat race for kids? No thank you.
  • Lifestyle change as a result of financial burden (kid)? No thank you.
  • Poor family environment? Cos kids want to go to Takashimaya and Sentosa weekly- Get real.
  • Ridiculous education policies that leave some children behind? No thank you.

They then ponder- "Hmm, maybe baby?"

Maybe not.

While I'm sure that in his productive zest, Dr. Loo enjoys his saturdays counting his money and thinking of more ways to milk the populace and further widen the material divide between the rich and the poor. I assure you ancedotally, that the half day Work day on saturday, is one spent enjoying a morning cuppa (at the office), catching up on the daily PAP newsletter (The Straits Times) and then watching the clock strike 12 noon.

Here's the last bit which Dr. Loo, you've provided me additional evidence on why intellectual discourse is not your forte and I'd like to paraphrase "Working longer hours does not necessarily result in greater productivity."

Nevertheless, you have inspired me. If one such as yourself can climb to be Singapore's 36th wealthiest, I'm now sure that in time, I may join your ranks.

Addendum: Perhaps in your personal capacity, you're far more intelligent than your political persona allows. And in your zeal for political brownie points and grandstanding, you've chosen to play clown in Singapore's political circus. To that I must ask- You're already rich? Why do you aspire to more power?

This is assuming you are seeking political affirmation and support.

Dr Loo is 59 years old. Net worth of $215 million. TWO children.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

In your house, taking your TV money

The TV licence fee of $110 has remained unchanged since Jan 1, 1994. It is among the lowest in the world, even as the cost of producing Public Service Broadcast (PSB) programmes has risen over the years, and there are more free-to-air (FTA) TV channels today for consumers to enjoy.

TRUE. In the United Kingdom, the current annual cost for a colour television licence (as of 1 April 2008) is £139.50 (approximately 176) and £47.00 (approximately €59) for monochrome TV (black and white).

We're cheaper. Definitely. But then the BBC has produced hit shows like "COUPLING", "The SAINT" among others.

All Mediacorp does is take the Licensing money AND sell advertisements at the same- PROFIT.

In Japan, for a nominal fee, you get many more channels including NHK, the producer of hit series- "Japan Hour"(which not only serves as a entertaining social documentary but also PROMOTES Japan sans tacky visit our country advertising). Let's continue with the spin shall we?

PSB programmes have captured international attention for their quality and range. Examples include popular series such as Little Nyonya; My World My Blog, a winner at this year's New York Festivals for Best Docudrama (Gold) and Best Direction (Silver); R.E.M., the kids drama series that won the Best Children's Programme (2008 Asian TV Awards); Vizhigal Sr 2, the popular Tamil series about taboos in the Indian community; Guru Parvai, another popular Tamil series about the relationship between students and teachers in the 1980s; Klinik Kita, a health series that won an award at the United States International Film & Video Festival 2008; and 1988 Segaris Sinar, a Malay drama about boys growing up in an orphanage.

If the awards were that accredited and so awesome, please syndicate your offerings and make some money. Perhaps we should also look at another award winning kid's series?

You might have heard of it before?


According to wikipedia:

Sesame Street is an American educational children's television series and a pioneer of the contemporary educational television standard, combining both education and entertainment. . Sesame Street is well known for its Muppet characters created by Jim Henson. It premiered on November 10, 1969, and is the longest running children's program on American television. The show is produced in the United States by the non-profit organization Sesame Workshop, formerly known as the Children's Television Workshop (CTW), founded by Joan Ganz Cooney and Ralph Rogers.

As a result of its positive influence, Sesame Street is one of the most highly regarded, and most watched, educational shows for children in the world.[2] The original series has been televised in more than 120 countries, and 25 independent versions have been produced.[3] The show has been called "perhaps the most vigorously researched, vetted, and fretted-over program".[4] As of 2006, the series has received 109 Emmy Awards, more than any other television series.[5] An estimated 77 million Americans watched the series as children.[6]

Here's a tip, hire better talent. Think a little harder into how you can address the entertainment and edutainment needs of Singaporeans- And then TRUELY earn the money you deserve. How's about that?

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

The Deluge

© All Rights Reserved by Flickr member Loic

Over the next couple of days, a string of older posts will be released on the blog.

Basically half finished ideas or compositions that I began in January and never got around to finishing and editing across the Lunar New Year holidays.

See you soon!

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Battlestar Opera-tica

As we edge towards series end with 8 more episodes to go, Battlestar Galactica looks set to dominate recent memory as this decade's epitome of television excellence.

BSG defies genres. To me, this Sci-fi/SkyTV production is simply a political, philosophical and emotional drama with epic sci-fi space combat thrown in.

Way past the Red Line
It's been a long road since they left Ragnar Anchorage, rag-tag fleet in tow. New Caprica has come and gone. Galactica's battlescars are seen proudly whenever the cameras pan by, a far cry to the polished gleaming symbol of Colonial victory 40 years ago in the first war.

We've discovered Lee's full name is actually Leyland (wtf) since his shedding of Colonial Flight Suit to don Armani for the role of Quorom member.

  • Geriatric sex between Bill and Laura (Eek!)
  • Civil War between Cavils and the breakaway Cylons.
  • Tigh has since knocked up a Six. This is a symbol of things to come and the first time 2 cylons have actually conceived.
  • The implication being that the final 5 Cylons are unlike the skinjob Sharons, Leobens and Cavils and quite possibly males of the 5 can impregenate non-5 cylons.
  • Conversely females of the 5 might be able to conceive with non-cylon males.
  • That Gaeta has finally flipped to the dark side since his leg losing incident by planning mutiny with Tom Zarek.
  • Gaeta is still a dumb ass that can't pick sides to save his life as he soon realises backing a former terrorist that has killed before is a bad idea.
  • Kara is really dead as her discovery of her tags on the corpse on Earth proves but really feels alive instead as she fights her way through the bowels of Galactica with Lee.

The only constant about BSG is that nothing is constant. Much like life, BSG remains the most fascinating non-reality reality show this side of the galaxy. And, I'd be sad to see it go.