Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Grace Society

My colleague related to me his true life story of the 'grace society' we are living in. He rented a room from an old couple. A few months later, the old couple sold the flat and down-graded to a small one. They kindly offered my colleague a room at the same rate in their new flat.

On the day they moved to the new flat, not a single child of the old couple came up. No, it is not true that the old couple are childless. They do have children from previous marriages, but still no one turned up. My colleague, a tenant in the house, was the only one helping in the house-moving. Helping the old couple is of no problem, but the strange absence of their children is a problem. What is filial piety? Yes, their children are residing in Singapore. How graceful they are to let their elderly parents to fend for themselves.

This reminds me of another incident which was reported in newspaper quite some time ago. Once a volunteer visited a senior citizen who lived alone in a one-room flat. It happened that the old man's son was there too on a visit. The light in the living was out of order. The son immediately ORDERED the volunteer to repair the light. Who did the son think he was? What a shame.

You can't wake up one day to have a grace society. It needs cultivation in everyday life. The Singapore education system teaches all the wrong concepts, making false perception that as long as you have money, then you can get everything you wanted. In addition, everything you do must have a quantifiable money value in it. If there is no value, time should not be wasted doing it, resources should be reallocated.

Oh, my. Buddists believe in Karma. Whatever you do, some day it will come back to you. You sow sweet seeds today, you harvest sweet fruits tomorrow; you sow bitter seeds, you harvest bitter fruits. Do whatever you like, just be ready to bear the consequences. It is a fair game, everybody will be equal in this aspect, from Emperors, kings & queens to presidents, prime ministers to the ultra poor, everybody will be equal in this game.

Monday, October 29, 2007


A few months ago, someone offered me something. He said he had made the recommendation and everything was going places, we just needed to wait for the outcome.

Today is the outcome. A number that had sturbornly remained the same for a couple of months. What had been offered is not delivered, hopes have been dashed. No explanation, not even a single word about it. I am puzzled. All the hard work is not appreciated.

This is the 3rd time disappointment. The 1st happened 7 years ago, the 2nd happened 4 years ago. It happened again this year. The culprit of all these disappointments seemed to always be the same person. He clings so dearly to his redundant post and the only function of his is to yield whatever leftover power to block the advancement of the younger generation.

The following is good motto for this occasion:

Saturday, October 27, 2007

The Search is On....

After three long years, I started the painful search for affordable housing again today. Three years ago, I was still 'young' and inexperienced, with high expectation of life. Three years later, I kind of accepted the fact that everything is fated. Sometimes I can't get what I wanted right away. Detours may not be all that bad. Paying a bit higher price for a shitty flat built by some idiots may not make myself an idiot as long as I can get my cash flow settled.

My property agents, a husband & wife team, did a good job in organizing an effective flat viewing. 12 flats were viewed over a time span of a little more than 3 hours. Some flat owners are asking for ridiculous prices which any sane person would ever consider. However, the housing market in Singapore now is insane. Everything is going up and up almost every single day. Sunny did warn me the prices going skyhigh today, it means prices may fall back to square one a few years down the road. The current price inflation is not sustainable at all with an average Singaporeans' income. Foreign 'investors' are the culprit. Once the hot money finds a greener place, Singapore's housing will go nowhere but fall.

Made one offer, but the owner was undecided. Let's see what will happen next week. Keeping my finger crossed.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Paper Money

Chinese call those 'money' offered to the dead as 'paper money'. Paper money comes in BIG denominations, really big ones, issued by the Bank of Hell (BoH). The minimum value is well over a million dollars I think. A few billions in paper money or hell money is just small sum. In the 7th month of the lunar calender, piles & piles of paper money will be burnt as offer to the dead, to finance their after life, for the benefit of the living.

In the past few days, some big financial institutions in the living world announced their 3Q financial resuls. Reading their results, you might just wonder whether you are living in hell or the living world. I actually pinched myself to make sure that I am still a living person. Merrill Lynch said they lost US$7.9b in 3Q, Countrywide US$1.2b, JP Morgan will write off US$2.1b, while Citigroup announced they lost some billions too (I can't remember the exact amount). Many billions of dollars just vaporized over night. However, it does not seem like the dead had benefited from this vaporization, neither do the living. That amount of money just went up in smokes.

The Fed now acts more like BoH, printing money like nobody's business. The green back has fallen from its high of S$1.80 to US$1.00 down to S$1.46 to US$1.00. Investment gurus from Warrant Buffet to Jim Rogers to Julian Roberson all agreed that the dollar's downfall is still far from over. Jim Rogers even said he will convert all his US dollar dominated assets into some other currencies, mainly Chinese yuan, in the next couple of months, according to reports.

Asian countries, from Japan, to China, to Vietnam, have all reduced their reserve amount in US dollars, while favouring some other currencies, which are not publicly disclosed yet. Nobody wants to be the last one standing holding the bodies of the past dead presidents. There is no fun. The green back probably soon will be as good as paper money issued by Bank of Hell, with the Jade Emperor's portrait on the front.

Is it really this bad? For the short term, I do think so, thanks to Mr George W. Bush, for his poor management of the only remaining superpower on planet earth. In the long term, there might be some turn-around. Remember some 15 years ago, back in 1992, the United States was also in a similar situation, and at that time, it was coupled with high interest rates. I could still remember George W. Bush's father, George Bush, fainted during his visit to Japan, with the hope of convincing the Japanese to buy more American goods. Then after Bill Clinton took office, things became better, and led all the way to the year 2000 boom, and the subsequent busrt in late 2000, early 2001. Will the same happen again? Most likely. Economy development goes in 'cycles'. Well, anyway, I just don't want to see the new paper money is actually printed by the US government :)

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Keep or dump 377A, you say?

In recent months, there is a debate as whether Singapore should keep or dump section 377A of the penal code. What is the big deal? It is a section of the law that outlaws homosexuality. Under this code, gays are subject to prosection in this country.

The two camps debating over this issue set up their own website to garner supports. One is; whilst the other is

What do you say? Should we keep or should we dump? Frankly speaking, I think it is a waste of time debating such a subject. The law is there to outlaw homosexuality, it is a fact. However, the government has adopted a not-to-actively-pursue such criminal acts attitude. They kind of close one eye to all the gay saunas, gay websites, gay activities. For those who have chosen an alternative lifestyle, they can live their life their way without being disturbed. So what is the big deal?

Your blogger here is still having diffculties in coping with the rising rent, rising housing prices, rising food prices, but stagnant salary. Our MPs should spend more time in keeping the inflation in check, making Singapore a better place for her citizens to live in.

Thursday, October 18, 2007


Some say a person's personality determines how successful he/she will be in life. What is your personality then?

According to this test, mine is:

The Duty Fulfiller

You are responsible, reliable, and hardworking - you get the job done.
You prefer productive hobbies, like woodworking or knittings.
Quiet and serious, you are well prepared for whatever life hands you.
Conservative and down-to-earth, you hardly ever do anything crazy.
In love, you are loyal and honest.
If you commit yourself to someone, then you're fully committed.
For you, love is something that happens naturally.
And you don't need romantic gestures to feel loved.
At work, you remember details well and are happy to take on any responsibility.
You would make a great business executive, accountant, or lawyer.
How you see yourself: Decisive, stable, and dependable
When other people don't get you, they see you as: Boring, conservative, and egotistical

This makes me think of this song by Jackie Wu, Andy Lau & Blackie Ho - Stupid Boy (笨小孩)

So what is your personality? Does your personality have a good prospect for a successful life ahead :)

Monday, October 15, 2007


I have been using the same POSB ATM since the day I opened my account with them 15 years ago. Recently I found the card is really too to keep up with the newer machines. At the ASX machines, the card simply can't be read at all.

Queued for almost an hour at the bank to get it replaced. The lady behind the counter told me I had to pay S$5 if I get back the same simple ATM, but if I change to the GO card, then it will be free of charge.

What is a GO Card? It works the same way as an ATM card, you can withdraw cash from ATM machines, use it for NETS transactions, but in addition, you can use it a bit like a credit card. There is an authorized signature at the back of the card. You can choose to set your purchase limit to $500, $1000 or $1500. Anyone older than 18 years old and has an account with POSB can have this card. Wow, sounds like easy credit going all the way to the younsters too. Oops, here comes the catch. There is a difference between GO card & a credit card.

For a credit card, the bill only comes at the end of the month (or the beginning of it). For the GO card, the money is deducted at the moment the transaction is through.

I simply can't convince myself to get such a card with disadvantage. True, it is very useful for the young adults who are probably still students. Very convenient for them when they go overseas and needed some extra money. To me, it is a great disadvantage, as there will be no reward points, no way for me to cancel any fraudulent transactions before money changes hands.

At the end I said to the lady, it is not very fair to charge me $5 for the replacement of my ATM card. As it is because the card was too old, not because I mishandled it. And I had used the card for 15 years! She laughed, and gladly replaced the card for me, waiving the $5 charge.

Singapore banks are more and more like their counterparts in Australia, charging their customer on every possible occasion. I wonder when they will start charging for every over-the-counter transactions, and per ATM cash withdrawal. The day has not come yet, but it will. So everybody, work harder, stash piles of money for the rainy days...

Sunday, October 14, 2007


Yesterday, during the tea time chat with LYZ & LJ, suddenly I remembered yesterday (Oct 13) was the aniversary of Yu Xiao Feng & Lin Fang. Time flies, many years had passed quietly since they left. Life goes on, nothing seems changed with their absence. A Chinese poem says " I came quietly, I left quietly, without even bringing a piece of cloud with me"...

往生咒 (拔一切业障根本得生净土陀罗尼)


May Yu & Lin live happily ever after in the land of paradize...

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Gathering of Old & New

Friday evening was the rare occasion that almost everybody in our group went out together for dinner at the Noble House, one of Tung Lok group of restaurants. The food was not really good, the prawns were not fresh at all. However, the ocassion was rare, it has been a long time since the last time we had such a gathering. Everybody was happy.

Today, I went for a gathering with LYZ & LJ, then I brought along our juniors from the 12th batch, XW & his g/f HW. A wonderful chitchat session cum tea appreciation at Tea Chapter. XW & HW are going to graduate next year, they wanted to learn more about what the different types of jobs are like so that they can choose wisely.

After the teas session, we went to Buddha's Tooth Relic Temple for a visit, then dinner at a Sichuan restaurant. The food was in fact was not bad, although it was not fantastically good either. Most importantly, everybody had a good time.

I had only met XW once, that was on my flight from SG to Macau last Chinese new year, so I actually couldn't remember how he looks like :) Anyway, he & his g/f are an interesting pair.
LYZ & LJ are my old friend who came to SG with me back in 1992.

Monday, October 8, 2007

Continuous Improvement

Continuous Improvement, a cliche in the Total Quality Management (TQM) world. You might have heard of it thousands of times, from school to work, everywhere, although people don't really seem to bother. Those who don't bother about it in his/her personal life will suffer.

The world is changing. Look around yourself. Casino was a no-no just a couple of years, but now the same group of elites that opposed casinos are now flag-bearers for casinos. Too big an issue for you to bother? How about housing prices? How about rent? Back in 1997, when I first came out to work, I still remember very clearly what the property agent said to us, "The owner will not consider anything below S$1800" for the 5-room flat right next to CCK MRT. It was the boom days. Then in 2004, a 3-bedroom condo unit, furnished, was only asking for S$1200. What a huge difference. Now, at present 2007, history repeats itself. It is boom time again. The same 3-bedroom condo unit is going for S$2500.

Do you see the point? Everything is changing. Those who can't adapt to the changes will be left behind; those who can't catch up with the changes will be left behind too. Forget about the preachings of everyone is equal. It is never true. Darwin taught the theory of natural selection, the essence of which is survival of the best.

For the current boom, I have not benefited anything from, but suffered quite a bit. Rising inflations, skyhigh rent, skyhigh housing prices, but stagnant income. Who is to blame? Myself. Those who spotted the uptrend earlier have been making huge profits ever since 2004. The power of the wealth accumulated over the years just starts to unleash today.

So continuous improvement is a must for everyone, every organization to survive, to grow stronger. It is not something for show, to get the high quality paper.

Sunday, October 7, 2007

Extortionate Prices

Our flat owner just informed us she would increase the rent from the current S$1450.00/month to S$2500.00/month next year. This is a 72% increase!

Raising prices seems to be the most fashionable thing to do these days. The prices at food courts, coffee shops had risen by 5-10% in the recent months. The housing market is the worse. HDB resale prices have climbed around 10% for the year, rents have gone up unreasonably anywhere from 30% to more than 100% for condos. HDB rents have gone up too, albeit at a smaller percentage.

I don't know how these prices can be sustained. How much does an average Singaporean earn? The last time I heard, the median salary is about S$3800, which is considered to be 'high' pay. After 20% CPF contribution, disposable income is only S$3040.

Friday, October 5, 2007

Make Your Voice Heard...

The Singapore government is planning to convert the supreme court and city hall buildings into the national art gallery. It is for sure a good step forward in making Singapore a truly 'grace society', to inject some sense of culture into this diverse but shallow society.

A competition had been organized to choose the best design for the make-over of the two century-old buildings. Total there are 111 entries for the competition. A panel of judges had hand-picked 3 designs of the 111 as the best. Out of the 3, one will be chosen as the final design for the art gallery. The 3 designs will be on exhibition at City Hall from 5th to 17th Oct, 2007.

The public can express their own opinions at the exhibition, as well as at the following website:

Please, I encourage each and every one of you, make your opinions heard by going through the online survey

We must do our part to vote out the ugly, uncharacteristic, tasteless designs. At least for me, I don't want to have another eye-sore in the city.

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Camera Armour

It has been a kind of 'tradition' or 'must-do' for expensive camera owners to gaffe their cameras in Singapore. The money signs are covered with black tapes. Some people can do it so well that they even offered such a service, with different choices of colour somemore. To take this one step further, a website is selling something called 'camera armour'.

The 'armour' is made of some silicone blend. It not only covers up all the money signs, but also provides some form of protection to the camera from impacts and day-to-day handling. The price is not too steep, US$49.00 for Canon 30D, including the armour, lens armour & leash, and LCD screen shield.

For those who are interested, take a look at the site:

Have fun :)

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Busy Days

Last week, my project leader transferred to another department, so this week, I have to do all the dirty work that a project leader should do myself. It is kind of crazy. Usually I won't get more than 5 emails a day or even a week, but now my inbox is flooded with all kinds of emails, with all kinds of interesting requests, demands, etc, etc, everyday. It doesn't matter whether they know me or they don't know me, they just send in their requests, demands, & sometimes opinions. Out of the blue, I have become everybody's good friend :) Whilst just last week, I was still enjoying my quiet and peaceful semi-retirement life.

Being in a small team, I don't have that many people that I can 'empower'. Well, if I can, I am more than willing to empower 100% of work to whoever inspired to be the next project leader :) Mmmh, I suddenly have this spark. I should start a competition within the team called "The next Singapore Top leader". Hahaha..... I wonder whether the guys (& gals, of course) would be interested.

Being a project leader is never easy. You have to please your boss, your customer, & even your subordinates. A ball will be a perfect model for any project leader in this world. It is ALL rounded; it can go anywhere; it can cushion whatever heavy impact, and then bounce back.

Ok, I will stop my mumblings here. I just feel a bit amused today that I found out my boss does not have much idea of what I do at work.