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30 October 2008

$traits Times vs Agnes Lin

A couple of days ago, The $traits Times published an article about an undergraduate girl who appeared to be oblivious to the value of money.

As a result, a huge furore was raised in reaction to a person of such spoiled upbringing.
I got wind of this news via Xtralicious blog entry on the same topic which I added the following earlier in her comments.

.
"I just feel that the whole news is a tad too tabloid-ly sensational. I am skeptical about the accuracy.
Perhaps a new low for the $traits Times?"
 - JayWalk # 28 October 2008 at 7:34 pm

Initially, I was thinking to myself that even if hypothetically, this Agnes Lin were to be so spoiled as the article has made her out to be, surely she would not have been so stupid to tell that to a journalist of a national newspaper? Surely, she would have foreseen the backlash by the reading public, had she not held her tongue?

So the fact that she "confessed" as the article made it appear so, just made it very hard for me to believe.
Two days later et voila. The Online Citizen (TOC) published an exclusive article debunking the accuracy of the $traits Times piece.

With lame excuses peppered all over the interview of the author of the original piece (Nur Dianah) by the TOC, it appears that certain facts were conveniently omitted to direct the piece into another direction, portraying Agnes Lin as an unforgiveable brat.

Innocent negligence or just intentional character assassination?

Then again, some may say that there is no smoke without fire and so perhaps there is that little element of truth in the piece except that it was sensationalised beyond proportion?

Here's what I think must be done. These two will have to duke it out in court. Given that our courts have so many years of experience in this libel/defamation field (think Lee vs this opposition member, that foreign magazine etc), let's put this case to the test.

This should answer a few questions on our minds.
  1. If Agnes was so aggrieved, would she sue? If no, why not? If $traits Time is deemed to be at the losing end, would they hush Agnes up via out of court non-disclosed settlement?

  2. If Agnes chose not to sue, why not? Is she as what the article has indeed said about her? Or was she paid off by the $traits Times already?
  3. Who is telling the truth here? Agnes or Nur? Mind you, it has to be noted that both side would definitely come up with a version of the same story that serves their respective interest the best. So just because TOC did interviews of both side and it seemed to point in favour of Agnes Lin, take it with a pinch of salt as nothing in there qualifies as concrete proof.
  4. Does the judiciary system works as well for the non-elite common folk as far as libel/defamation is concerned?
Image Credit: http://www.asiaone.com
- Voxeros

1. sunflower left...
Friday, 31 October 2008 12:17 am
This will be interesting to follow!


2. Rachel left...
Friday, 31 October 2008 4:52 am :: http://www.xtralicious.com
When Zheng Xi of TOC and I first discussed the article, we thought the journalist must have very artfully stroked her ego to get her to talk.
To tell you the truth, I am so sceptical and cynical now - that I am trusting nobody until I speak to Nur Dianah and Agnes Lin themselves.
So yes, let's wait and see if Ms Lin will be suing.


3. JayWalk left...
Friday, 31 October 2008 9:29 am :: 
Sunflower: Well, this will be hard to follow coz there is that chance that the $traits Times may not publish the follow up if the situation has gone totally against them.

Rachel: You guy at TOC will also have to do a bit of self reflection and ask if he had be totally objective when writing that piece or was there an axe to grind against all things gahmen? Don't tell me the answer to that question. I don't need to know. It is just a question for the TOC author to think about it.

On another note, given the short termed memory of Singaporeans, Agnes Lin included. This may be forgotten even before she files defamation/libel charges.


4. grasshopper left...
Saturday, 1 November 2008 12:00 pm
I feel this ST writer is a typical writer for the ST who has no style or personality. The article was written in very very generic sentence structure (like mine! haha). BORING. When I read the original article it's like something any one could write and make up. No originality, reality or point of view.


5. Vandalin left...
Tuesday, 4 November 2008 6:53 pm :: http://vandalin.blogspot.com
got f87ked over by Nur Dianah as well in a previous occasion. the girl is just out to piss off everyone isn't she?


6. JayWalk left...
Wednesday, 5 November 2008 11:49 am :: 
Grasshopper: True that but what worries me more is the lack of integrity in the words that they print. I wonder how they are able to sleep at night knowing what they wrote can and would ruin somebody's life, even if at the end of the day, the news turned out to be untrue?

Vandalin: What? You too? What happened?


7. THB left...
Wednesday, 5 November 2008 1:37 pm :: http://the-hb-diaries.blogspot.com
Both are attention seeking whores...


8. JayWalk left...
Wednesday, 5 November 2008 8:53 pm ::
THB: As far as I am concerned, I don't think have enough information to pass judgment on them as individuals.
 

29 October 2008

PM's Bullshit

So our PM has finally broken his silence over this minibomb issue and he said the following that really really got my goat:

"First of all, government should not be making decisions for individuals; individuals should have the right to decide for themselves, their circumstances, their preferences, their needs."

Eskew me ah.

Who decided that we are not allowed to chew gum ah?

Who decided that we are to build casinos ah?

Who decided that we are to give our ministers million dollars salaries ah?

I can go on and on with this.

Granted that the Gahmen does make good justification of these decisions but somehow we are all too familiar with the Gahmen of bulldozing their way through to the extend where when the Gahmen were to briefly mention something for the very first time, we ALL KNOW that it is already a forgone conclusion.

Did anyone actually believe that we ACTUALLY have a chance of the Gahmen not raising the GST when they first sounded out to the public to "test water"?

- Voxeros

1. Pam left...
Wednesday, 29 October 2008 6:16 pm
OMG!! They should sack their script writer!! I can't believe he said that, with a clear conscience....it's like being caught with your hand in the cookie jar and then saying 'what cookie'?!


2. Posh left...
Thursday, 30 October 2008 1:38 am
My ex-colleague, a first time visitor to Asia and SG, said to me that it was bemusing how we managed to thrive in an environment that was sterile and bureaucratic. The irony perhaps.


3. JayWalk left...
Thursday, 30 October 2008 8:22 am :: 
Pam: Script writer? I believe that was the transcript of a live interview i.e. it came from the horse's mouth.

Posh: Sterile indeed judging by the falling numbers of babies year after year.


4. sunflower left...
Sunday, 2 November 2008 12:28 am
Jay, hmmm for this mini bond issue, hmm more of less.. in my perspective, the investors should bear some responsibilities.
In general, if you don't have any productive year to generate income, the safest option is always FD. In short, pls don't think of any investment option, cos all investment have risk. Of course, I cant discount those investor that had misled by the relationship manager that structure deposit is fixed deposit.


5. JayWalk left...
Monday, 3 November 2008 11:42 am :: 
sunflower: I fully agree that the investor themselves should bear some of the losses. However, in the beginning when this just broke out, it looked as if the investor was going to bear the entire loss themselves which is not right either, given many have been misled into thinking that it was a bond.

27 October 2008

MatchBull


nadnut is going to foam at the mouth when I show her this picture. Her beloved RedBull's got a China fake!!!
Heck, it even tastes the same!!!!

- Voxeros

1. Lynn Ee left...
Tuesday, 28 October 2008 3:06 am :: http://thepurplehippo.wordpress.com
You mean you even dare to drink it!


2. JayWalk left...
Tuesday, 28 October 2008 4:14 pm :: 
Lynn Ee: Curious mah...


3. TSSD left...
Tuesday, 28 October 2008 5:07 pm
there is nothing that can't be copied in China.


4. JayWalk left...
Tuesday, 28 October 2008 6:00 pm :: 
TSSD: True that.


5. starm|st left...
Wednesday, 29 October 2008 11:11 am
melamine-laced maybe?


6. JayWalk left...
Thursday, 30 October 2008 8:24 am :: 
Starm|st: Stop being a drama queen lah. Not everything is melamine-laced. They also have mercury, lead and formaldehyde too!

24 October 2008

Slackapore

It's official, the Gahmen, after years of cruising without much opposition, is now starting to slack.

From the Mas Selamat escape from the toilet at Whitley Road Detention Centre to the attempted escape by Jamaluddin Salam and Salman Abu Samah from the subordinate courts to the smuggling by Dave Teo Ming of the SAR-21 assault rifle out of camp (Mandai) and ending up in Orchard Road, we now have an ex-Minister of State for Education duped into attending the graduating ceremony of a unaccredited degree mill as Guest of Honour, complete with speech and all.

It can't get better than this.

On one hand, I feel sorry for the bloke as he was personally invited by one of his grassroot leaders and the invitation letter came complete with letterheads, Los Angeles address and all.

Had it been any other MP, it would have been viewed slightly less significant but the "Ministry of State for Education" on his CV proved to be most ironic. Oh and did I mentioned that he was a President's Scholar?
I guess only in Singapore, the word "scholar" has both good and bad connotations. I wonder why.

On the other hand, surely a simple phone call to his ex-place of work i.e. Ministry of Education would have yielded the discovery of the bogus status of this "University"?

Mr Chan entered parliament under the GRC led by Prof Jayakumar and if anyone would have guessed, he entered unopposed. However, he did redeemed himself in the next two elections by standing alone to contest the Joo Chiat SMC and won by impressive margins.

Come next election where I think he should run again as an incumbent. This embarrassing episode is sure to be dug up again and fling right at his face. I wonder what the impact would be in terms of votes?
In my earlier article when I said that "there isn't any solid incumbents to really speak of these days", I was referring to this.

Somehow, I keep getting this feeling that our current crop of MPs came into parliament too easily and again, I am referring to the ills of the GRC concept, although political apathy of Singaporeans is also a major contributing factor.

When something comes to you without you really working hard for it, you not only don't treasure it, you  take it for granted. I am sure many would agree that our old guards are much better in terms of calibre.

Why? Because they really worked hard to get Singapore to where it is today. From Lee Kuan Yew to Goh Keng Swee to Toh Chin Chye to Edmund Barker. Can you even name one of the current generation of MPs who is anyway near what they have accomplished?

So anyway, come this next election, I am curious how this episode will affect Mr Chan's candidacy, if at all. Mind you, the people are going to be less politically apathetic this time round.

Image Credit: http://news.asiaone.com
- Voxeros

1. Pam left...
Friday, 24 October 2008 5:44 pm
oh dear........


2. JayWalk left...
Friday, 24 October 2008 10:22 pm :: 
Pam: Yeah. It kinda sucks to be him right now.


3. naeboo left...
Saturday, 25 October 2008 2:14 pm :: http://naeboo.liquidblade.com
how the fuck even unaccredited degree operate in a country without being known?
p/s: i don't like the doing the math when commenting at ur blog


4. JayWalk left...
Saturday, 25 October 2008 4:44 pm :: 
naeboo: I am guessing that they register as a University agency here which is not against the law. And since it is just a representative office, there is no requirement for them to submit their credentials to MOE for verification.

No like the math? Aww..... too difficult for you? :P

23 October 2008

Aftermath Of The Minibomb Blast

Yes, finally we see the wheels starting to turn as far as cleaning up of the Minibomb mess is concerned.

The first thing that came to my mind when this thing first surfaced was the silent stance taken by the Gahmen. On second thought, perhaps the Gahmen would prefer to let the involved financial institutions to settle this on their own? If you look at this from another angle, this is an issue involving about 10,000 people. Does it qualify as a crisis of a national scale?

Still, I still find it rather unforgiveable that the Gahmen kept so quiet about this whole ordeal until recently. Wouldn't hurt for them to show a little bit of concerned for the investors and promised to oversee and monitor the various banks' resolution closely. No?

SM Goh Chok Tong's "Otherwise, leave your money in your CPF" was nothing short of an orbi-goot slap in the face. Can anyone be anymore insensitive??!!

Perhaps, it was this nonchalant attitude that signals to us that the Gahmen didn't think this was important enough for them to even sit up and pay attention. So perhaps if the Gahmen don't care, the banks could perhaps care even less?

Fortunately for the foreign media and the new media, there was just no way to sweep this under the carpet. Not even with (alleged) news blackouts.

Perhaps after realising the mounting pressure from more and more people (even starting to include those who are not affected), the Gahmen finally got off their elite uncaring asses and started to do something about it. Now that the sleeping Gahmen has woken up, the banks finally realised that they no longer able to "buah bodoh" their way out of this.

Next, we see banks offering resolution but with conditions. Hong Leong says that they will buy back the investments from people who were 62 years old and above during which the investment was made and that the investor must not have higher than a primary school education.

Question: What about the rest of the folks who fall outside this criteria? What about the 61 year-old uncle? Or the 62 year-old Auntie who has the modern day equivalent of an O-Level certificate?

I really hope what Hong Leong really meant was that since there are many cases that needed to be handled one at a time, this said condition is so that this segment of the investors be served first and that the rest of the folks will follow later on.

Also, I hope that the banks will come up with a target goal of when they aim to resolve this entire issue. It is one thing to tell everybody that you are going to resolve this issue but it is another issue when you drag your feet till the cows come home.

The above $traits Times article said:

"Then DBS Group Holdings stated that it has found 'a number of cases did not meet the standards DBS upholds and the bank will be compensating these customers' with effect from Thursday.
It said the move could involve paying out $70 to $80 million."

My question that as it is estimated that a total of over $500 million was sunk into these notes, where is the remaining $420 million?

I hope that since many banks and FIs are involved in selling these minibombs, this $70 to $80 million figure is just DBS's share. And that when all the other involved banks and FIs, should they take similar action, are counted, the sum will be at the very least close to the original $500 million.

I won't expect a full recovery of the $500 million though as some losses must be taken into account.

Image Credit: http://www.channelnewsasia.com
- Voxeros

1. ahtiong73 left...
Friday, 24 October 2008 2:36 pm :: http://ahtiong73.blogspot.com/
best thing to invest in now is a keg and some fine whisky, I say...


2. JayWalk left...
Friday, 24 October 2008 3:00 pm :: 
ahtiong73: Well, that is assuming there is money left to invest in the keg and whisky. Haiz...

22 October 2008

Where Are The People We Voted For?

As I have mentioned earlier in my earlier entry (It's So Quiet, I Am Going Deaf), I signed off asking where is our President Nathan?

I won't be touching on the silence of the Gahmen up to now on the minibomb issue. I think there is already a lot of coverage on this topic but sadly more from the internet that on local media. I wonder if anyone notice that?


We don't hear anything from the PM nor MAS nor the Ministry of Finance.

What's going on?

Anyway, there is one person that is missing from the spot light.

Our elected President.

Anyone seen Mr Nathan?

Yes, granted that he is just a figurehead with no real powers but surely this is the time to stand up and offer words of support?

We look at Queen Elizabeth I during World War II. Together with King George VI, they went to visit the sites that was bombed by the Germans. They offered kind words and consolation to the victims.

Then we look at Ch1na's PM Mr Wen J1aBao who was on location to witness the rescue work of the SiChuan earthquake.

Do we expect them to be physically involved? Do we really expect Queen Elizabeth I to be rolling up her sleeves and helping to clear the rubble? Do we really expect Mr Wen to be helping by digging up corpses crushed underneath collapsed building?

No.

Still, a consoling hand on the shoulder, a kind hug of comfort or even a gentle word of encouragement from a leader of the people would have touched the hearts of thousands.

Coming back and I say this again. I do concede that our President Nathan is powerless as far as resolving this issue. This is something for the experts at the banks, Finance Ministry and MAS to resolve. But would it be too much to ask for our President to show up at the Speaker's Corner rally on Saturdays to stand with the people and give moral support?

So we don't see the PM, the President, the ministers nor any members of parliament stepping forward to show some concern. Instead, we only see a civilian, Mr Tan Kin Lian, stepping up to the soapbox and addressing the people who lost a lot of money to the toxic minibombs, even though Mr Tan himself is unscathed by this.
So anyway, some skeptics was saying that Mr Tan Kin Lian has ulterior motive, seizing this opportunity to play the hero. Perhaps they are insinuating that Mr Tan Kin Lian is using this as a platform for him to contest for a seat in parliament or the elected presidency in the near future?

My response is this.

Ulterior motive or no ulterior motive. At least he is pro-actively doing something about it. What does our Gahmen have to show for to date?

So what if he really does have ulterior motive, like a seat in parliament or even the elected presidency?

Given a choice between a MIA incumbent and an active newbie. I'd sure as hell would like to give the latter a try. It can't be worse that what we already have right? So what do we have to lose?

Image Credit: http://blogs.nlb.gov.sg; http://www.channelnewsasia.com
- Voxeros

1. naeboo left...
Saturday, 25 October 2008 2:19 pm :: http://naeboo.liquidblade.com
the phrase "even though Mr Tan himself is unscatched by this"
what do u mean? he also invested and escaped unscathed? if he didnt, i dont think it fits.
:)


2. JayWalk left...
Saturday, 25 October 2008 4:42 pm :: 
naeboo: Mr Tan has all along advocate against structured products and has been telling people on his blog not to invest in such complex products i.e. he did not invest in any of the minibombs and as such suffered no loss when Lehman Brothers went under.


3. MiniBombed left...
Sunday, 26 October 2008 11:59 pm
Well, we did not see any MPs, be it PAP or opposition getting involved in this saga, save and except Goh Meng Seng (singaporealternatives.blogspot.com) an opposition member previously from WP and now NSP, who is helping Mr. Tan with the delivery of his Chinese translated speech at Hong Lim.


4. JayWalk left...
Monday, 27 October 2008 12:28 am :: 
Minibombed: Makes me really wonder why they dun turn up? Wouldn't this be an excellent opportunity for them to consolidate their candidacy for the next election?


5. THB left...
Wednesday, 5 November 2008 1:40 pm :: http://the-hb-diaries.blogspot.com
One person can make a difference. Nuff said..


6. JayWalk left...
Wednesday, 5 November 2008 8:55 pm :: 
THB: Yes and no. One person can't possibly achieve much compare to that of a thousand. But the unity in strength of a thousand, always starts with that one person.

21 October 2008

The People That We Voted For

... assuming you actually had the chance to do so instead of a uncontested walkover.

But for those who voted, I wonder if they have any regrets today?

Is this the Gahmen you envisioned when you cast your ballot back in 2006?

Is it just me or is anyone else also feeling that this Gahmen of ours is very cold and unfeeling towards its people? The very same people who voted them into Parliament and pay their salaries?

I look at what Hong Kong is doing for their people over the credit linked securities fiasco and then I look at our own Gahmen.

One problem. Two different attitudes.

Why like that?

Here's a thought. Perhaps the silence on the part of the Gahmen with regards to this issue is not that they are unconcerned of the plight of a mere 10,000 people of our a population of 4,000,000, but rather, could the real reason for the silence be that our million dollar ministers actually DON'T KNOW what to do?

Though a very unlikely thought but possible nevertheless.

So it is just me or are people starting to get slightly disillusioned with the present Gahmen?

I think it will be a vastly different scenario come the next election. People will actually pay more attention to the candidates fielded by the various parties, especially the new ones.

I have always been against the idea of the GRC where new candidates get in under the hood of the solid incumbents untested. I am also against the idea of tying a carrot (e.g. HDB upgrading) to a certain political party when the carrot is meant for every Singaporean regardless of political affiliation.

Now that there isn't any solid incumbents to really speak of these days with the exception of perhaps our two ex-Prime Ministers and Prof Jayakumar*, the rest of the incumbents running in GRCs may be at risk should they try the same trick again. We may just pull them down with the rest of the clowns they try to smuggle into Parliament.
* Personal opinion.
 
As for carrot. Same thing. You can't pull the same trick twice. Besdies, HDB upgrading is more or less completed everywhere. Everywhere sans Potong Pasir and Hougang, of course.

So what does that mean for the future elections. Simple. As long as the opposition parties can put up a credible candidate. We may just vote for him. He/She doesn't have to be a superstar. As long as he/she is "good enough", we will give him/her a shot. It's not like we have never voted for a candidate that turned out to be a dud anyway.

We do not want an opposition MP for the sake of disrupting the Parliament and just oppose for the sake of opposing. Save the throwing of bananas and punch ups for the circus. We just want representatives from the other side to provide a stronger and more credible check and balance to the Gahmen's various decisions.

Besides, it's not like PAP will lose control of the Gahmen in the near future. I expect PAP to return to power for overall, just a small number of their policies are questionable.

In short, we prefer to see future policies passed after greater scrutiny and more thought. This can happen only with more credible opposition candidates in parliament.

Image Credit: http://upload.wikimedia.org; http://english.people.com.cn
- Voxeros

15 October 2008

It's So Quiet, I Am Going Deaf



MiniBond Rally: Speakers Corner PART 1 OF 2


MiniBond Rally: Speakers Corner PART 2 OF 2


MiniBond Rally: Mr Leong Sze Hian

As far as I have asked around my friends who are in Singapore, there has yet to be any word from the Gahmen with regards to how to deal with the fallout of the credit-linked securities collapse.

It's seems that most of the buzz come from Hong Kong and Singapore as some countries banned the sales of these products to the retail public.

For what I know, the HK Gahmen has taken proactive steps to deal with this of which, most significant to the people, is the setting up of a hot-line to register complaints.

Our dear MAS, on the other hand, has advised affected investors to take their complains to the relevant distributors directly. It sounds to me like they are saying "It's your problem. Not mine. So you go settle it on your own."

There are news coverage on this everyday in HK. Even the legislators are taking the regulators to task, accusing the latter of not doing their jobs. Yes, all these in the public media.

What about Singapore? Not more than a mere squeak. All's quiet on the united elite front.

It has been so quiet that there were even murmurs in some local forums saying that our local media are being blacked-out (with regards to what the HK gahmen is currently doing) so as not to look bad when in comparison.

While I am not saying that our Gahmen is not doing anything about it, why can't we hear more? This is a complicated matter and no one is expecting this to be resolved any time immediate. So right now, regular "work-in-progress" updates would count a lot to the people.

Even if the Gahmen's stance is "You stupid. You buy thing you don't understand. So it's orh-bee-goot now that your savings are wiped out. The rest of the tax payers should not have to foot the bills of a small group of affected investors." Have the balls to stand up and say it, rather than hide in silence.

Mark my words. Whatever happen today shall return on election day where we ask ourselves these questions. Did he earn his place or did he get there only because we give face to the father? Are we going to continue to give face to the father the next time round, if the latter is the answer? 

My personal salute to Mr Tan Kin Lian, for stepping up and doing something about it. From organising a formal petition to be submitted to the MAS, to offering advice on how to go about filing a formal complainto grouping people collectively and filing a complain as a group of investors of a certain product, certain distributor and/or certain MP's constituency.

He has reaffirmed my belief that we are not totally helpless without the Gahmen. If we cannot depend on the Gahmen, then perhaps we should just do it ourselves. And that leads us back to election day. Do we vote for a Gahmen from another planet? A Gahmen from a place far far away from us and we are not exactly sure if they are one of us?

Mr Tan Kin Lian will continue to advise at the Speaker's Corner on:
  • Saturday, 18 Oct 2008, 6 to 7 pm
  • Saturday, 25 Oct 2008, 6 to 7 pm
  • Saturday, 01 Nov 2008, 6 to 7 pm
  • Saturday, 08 Nov 2008, 6 to 7 pm
Amusingly, some supporters of Mr Tan Kin Lian are calling him to run for Elected President Of The Republic Of Singapore (and even Prime Minister! LOL!). I think these folks are getting a little ahead of themselves. One credit-linked investement fiasco does not a President make. One Public Service Star? Yes. Elected President Of The Republic Of President? Not yet.

However, if in the event that his nomination does come up in 2011, he probably will have my vote at the rate he is going now.

That brings me to the last question.

Where the hell is SR Nathan?

Afternote: I apologise if some of you folks misinterpret "Prata Man" as a racial derogatory slur of our president Mr SR Nathan. My explanation of the nickname is in the comments section. Still, I have decided to remove the nickname from this entry just to be on the safe side.


- Voxeros

1. Joges Rao left...
Thursday, 16 October 2008 10:00 am
That last line sentence of yours is bordering on racist blurt.


2. Ruok left...
Thursday, 16 October 2008 11:23 am
Silence of the Lambs ?


3. JayWalk left...
Thursday, 16 October 2008 1:00 pm :: 
Joges Rao: Welcome to the blog. I take it that you are not Singaporean? Let me assure you that the "Prata Man" nickname is not meant to be derogatory. He is affectionately known, by Singaporeans, as the "Prata Man" because it was said that he was the one who introduce the humble prata to the Istana's (President's official residence) diet. Prata Man also project him as a President of the people, from the people, for the people, voted by the people, as prata is a favourite of the people.

Allow me to assure you that the nickname is of affectionate intent.

ruok: Unfortunately, I know not enough to comment on that.


4. Joges Rao left...
Thursday, 16 October 2008 3:52 pm
Why do you think I am not a Singaporean? I may be born in India, but after spending most of my adult years here in this island state, I am a Singaporean in every way.

Anyway, thank you for clarifying. Just curious, can you share with myself and the readers where did you get the information that it was President Nathan who introduced prata to the "Istana's diet"?


5. JayWalk left...
Thursday, 16 October 2008 4:31 pm :: 
Joges Rao: My apologies for that baseless assumption that you are not Singaporean. Perhaps it was naive of me to think that every Singaporean would know that "Prata Man" a) refers to our president Mr SR Nathan and b) is not meant to be a derogatory remark.

I am not able to determine the source of this little trivia as this is an anecdote from a long time ago. It's like asking me to locate official rulebook of reserving seats via the use of tissue paper packet.

Again, apologies if you felt offended by the "Prata Man" nickname. There was no element of a racial slur when I first penned it.

13 October 2008

YaShan LingYan Temple


Was in JiangXi over the weekend to visit my satellite factories and we were pleasantly surprised to reach our destination in a little over 4 hours than the 6 to 8 hours as originally budgeted. We set off at 7am in the morning only to reach our lunch point at 9:30am.

Given we were way ahead of schedule, we pushed on and decided to have lunch at the destination instead.
The road development of QQLand is really astonishing as the last time we headed up was just over a year ago. At this rate that they are going, when the highways are fully completed (still a section under construction this trip), we can reach our destination is under 4 hours easy!

So the first day was spent having meetings in between alcohol-fueled lunches (or rather food-fueled drinking sessions) with the local officials who were very very very very warm with their hospitality.

The next morning enroute back to ChangAn (470 km) away, we made a detour to visit the YaShan LingYan temple (丫山灵岩古寺). The temple is located in the woods mid-way up the hill.
The temple was built during the Tang Dynasty (618 to 907 AD) and that makes it over 1000 years-old. The temple has since undergone 4 re-buildings in order to survive to this very day. The first three was during Ming Dynasty (1457 - 1464), Qing Dynasty (1858) and again Qing Dynasty (1880). The most recent (1996) was the aftermath of the Cultural Revolution and being a temple i.e. one of religion purposes was target for destruction by the Mao-led Commun1st Party.

It was quiet and serene when we got out of the car. My GPS says that we were 369m above sea-level (Bukit Timah Hill is 164m) which explained the cool crisp of the morning air.

There were only a handful of visitors and everyone was mindfully quiet as we soak up the solemnity of the place.

An elderly lady was at the door seat at the desk which made shift as the ticketing booth. RMB 3.00 (SGD 0.60) to go in.

There were many deity statues in there ranging from many Buddhas, Bodhisattvas as well as the 18 LuoHans. As we explored more of the place, there were many rooms with more deities in them from private prayer sessions.

We saw how the monks live their daily lives as the daily time table pasted on the wall dictates that they wake up at 4am and go to bed at 9pm every day. Haircuts are free if you are interested. The monk-in-charge would gladly be of service but only one style. Botak.

Click Here For The Photoset To See More Of The Pictures.
* Due to poor lighting conditions (very cloudy weather), the HDRs came out poorer then expected. Apologies. 


This tree is a Class I Heritage Tree as classified by the QQLand gahmen.  In order to qualify as Class I, the tree has to be more than 300 years old.

According to the sign, this is a LuoHan Pine tree and a look up at the tree from below, you can see many bird nests perched on the branches.

Given the tree is at least three hundred years old, it makes one wonder how many generations of birds as well as the total number of them, grew up and leave the nest from this very branches.

A life-giving tree indeed.

And from the birds, we look at us humans as how many generations of us as well as the total number have enjoyed the peace and serenity provided by it's shade as it stood there steadfastly and modestly, swaying gently and almost quietly to the breeze.

Image Credit: http://ditu.google.cn
- Voxeros

1. Ophelia left...
Tuesday, 14 October 2008 1:47 am
I like your HDR photos. Nice job.


2. JayWalk left...
Tuesday, 14 October 2008 9:44 am :: 
Ophelia: Hi and welcome to the blog. Admittedly, these HDRs aren't my best. You may wanna go to my flickr set to view the rest, they are definitely much better.

Go to http://www.flickr.com/photos/jaywalk/sets/72157604381007963/


3. Ophelia left...
Tuesday, 14 October 2008 12:31 pm
Thanks for the link. The rest of the HDR album is as great.


4. JayWalk left...
Tuesday, 14 October 2008 2:44 pm :: 
Ophelia: Thank you. I'll try harder to tackle the tricky HDRs in low lighting.

10 October 2008

Melted Iceland


Got the above news from CowboyCaleb's Plurk.

The Icelandic Krona is history.

Iceland has gone bust.

Whoa. This is big shit.

But I was thinking how the hell does a country go bankrupt? Does that mean all 320,000 Icelanders are going to starve?

It's really unthinkable that a country, with one of the highest GDP per capita, could go from riches to rags.

Just.like.that.

So, the report says that they are seeking a loan from Russia. Imagine Iceland on sale to Russia.

Yeah yeah, it's a loan, not a sell out but for the next 9 years at the very least, every Icelandic ass are belong to Russia, should the loan goes through.

Every Icelandic baby will be born into debt from now and possibly the rest of their lives. The Americans are not far behind going at this rate.

Image Credit:  http://images-cdn01.associatedcontent.com
- Voxeros

1. tim marshall left...
Friday, 10 October 2008 6:28 pm :: http://www.skynews.com/foreignmatters
Cunning Ruskies. They lend Iceland enough to stop it melting - Iceland leans towards Moscow - eventually the Kremlin gets an airbase where it wants one? www.skynews/foreignmatters


2. Hamie left...
Friday, 10 October 2008 11:41 pm
a new Cold War in the making.....


3. spinnee left...
Saturday, 11 October 2008 12:10 pm
I'm surprised sinkapore nv offer to 'bail'/'buy'/'invest' them. since they can do it for ML......
oh well. everything's possible in this world nowadays. and seriously, i kinda like this financial crisis now.. HAHAHA


4. JayWalk left...
Monday, 13 October 2008 5:14 pm :: 
Tim Marshall & Hamie: Welcome to the blog. Thanks for the comments, I'd have to admit that I didn't see this as a strategic counter-NATO move until you mention it. VERY INTERESTING!

Spinnee: Singapore won't help as there is no benefit for Singapore to do so. If you are thinking that help is supposed to be out of benevolence, you are going to be sorely disappointed.


5. Ruok left...
Monday, 13 October 2008 7:26 pm
Buy iceland can make free ice for ice kachang mah


6. JayWalk left...
Tuesday, 14 October 2008 9:42 am :: 
ruok: That is so corny that it actually hurt when reading it. >.<

09 October 2008

QQLand Boleh!

Remember my earlier blog when I found Toceba brand batteries? Well, I got an email from my cousin Nick earlier with a whole collection of brand distortions.

Technically, you can't call them counterfeit for they do not share the same brand as the originals.
Similar, yes. Identical? No.

Let's start with batteries. SQNY batteries. *facepalm #1*

You gotta love the next next one KFG - 啃他鸡. *facepalm#2*
If you eat, you gotta drink. How about some 雲碧 instead of 雪碧? *facepalm #3*
Okay shampoo anyone? *facepalm #4*
 
This one is very clever when IVIKE is not fully stretched, it looks like NIKE! *facepalm #5*
  
And the grand finale.... Will the real Puma please stand up? *facepalm #3,572,426,781*
Clue: Puma don't have punk hair style nor wear skirt. Puma don't look like Pikachu nor hippo and is usually not asleep in an unglam position.





Image Credit: http://bbs.163.com; http://club.chinaren.com; http://hiphoper.net
- Voxeros

1. akk left...
Thursday, 9 October 2008 10:50 pm
no lah, the puma ones are spoofs lah! not counterfeit, hahaha...i like the punk one!


2. JY left...
Friday, 10 October 2008 1:54 am :: http://phatybomb.blogspot.com
Indeed, the Puma ones are "satire design", if there could be such a way to explain it la. The Pika one is cool!


3. grasshopper left...
Friday, 10 October 2008 9:24 am
Oh.my.god. The "IVIKE" is actually really! smart. LOL


4. JayWalk left...
Friday, 10 October 2008 10:04 am
akk & jy: I thot the roll over and sleep Puma is the funniest!

grasshopper: Yeah. Indeed! I have many more but mostly relevant to ch1nese markets.


5. mavis left...
Monday, 20 October 2008 2:18 pm :: http://hellomarshmallow.blogspot.com
creativity abused...


6. JayWalk left...
Tuesday, 21 October 2008 11:56 am :: 
Mavis: Hi Mavis! Welcome to the blog! It is one thing to come up with something similar to grab a share of the market like say HTC Touch vs iPhone, Coca Cola vs Pepsi Cola. But it is another thing to come up with something with the intent to fool unwitting consumer into thinking that they are buying the real stuff, by coming up with almost identical name and/or packaging.

Infringment of copyright aside, this is fraud.


7. MillerLovah left...
Tuesday, 11 November 2008 5:13 pm
KFG. AND THEN A FROWNING OL' MAN. Cld this get any queer.


8. JayWalk left...
Tuesday, 11 November 2008 9:48 pm :: 
MillerLovah: You ain't seen nothing yet. Things like this in China are just tips of the icebergs. Stay tuned while I seek out even more weird shite to share with everyone.

08 October 2008

Beer Goggles


Spotted this at H0llyw00d Baby Bar when CowBoyCaleb made his return to the bosoms of all the Babies there.

Beer Goggles! Fortunately/unfortunately, the Babies didn't get the joke.

Welcome back CowBoyCaleb! The Babies miss you leep leep! wahahaahahaha......

- Voxeros

07 October 2008

Lost In Translation VIII


There is a hotel that was just newly opened next to the factory and they have a western coffeehouse type of restaurant where I went to check out recently.

As I was browsing the menu, I couldn't help but facepalm massive when I saw it.

I shudder to think if my Musl1m customer were to order the Tankao Small Cattle Row (first item). If I am not wrong Tankao is hanyupinyin translation for charcoal roast and small cattle row probably meant beef ribs.
Bad translation aside, the Ch1nese equivalent description says French styled pork chop.

OMG! Pork!!

I wonder who is the moron that did the menu?

Massive Epic FAIL!

Enjoy the rest of the menu for a good roll of the eyes.

- Voxeros

05 October 2008

Speaker's Corner


There were 400 registered speakers during its debut year and the number dwindled to a mere 26 in 2006. The Speaker's Corner at Hong Lim Park was established by the gahmen on 01 Sep 2000 to allow members of the public (registered first, of course) to give speech and engage in debate with the general public.

I remember that very day when I first got wind of this initiative.

My very first question was.

Er.... where is Hong Lim Park ah?

Granted that it was technically in the town area, it was a relatively obscure part of town where it felt like the gahmen gave us a place to scream and yell all you want but no one will hear you.

I call it the Phua Chu Kang Croissant where the croissant, pronounced by our favourite Rosie Phua as "kosong", is defined as the Ang Moh Curry Pok - curry pok but inside no curry.

It was not exactly accessible (by proximity to MRT station yardstick) considering the fact that both the Chinatown and Clarke Quay MRT stations of the NE-Line didn't exist back then until June 2003.

I did question why not have the Speaker's Corner at some place with more human traffic like Orchard's Youth Park (I think they renamed it to .scape) or the lawn directly above Raffles Place MRT Station outside Singapore Land Tower, Ocean Tower & Chevron House or better yet Istana Park directly opposite the official residence of our dear President?

On one hand, it seemed like the gahmen is afraid that these folks be heard and hence paid the lip service of having a Speaker's Corner (Hey! Look everyone! We support freedom of expression as long as you are a registered Singaporean and don't talk about race, religion with a microphone or loud speakers) at some bladdy obiang location. On the other hand, perhaps it is a place away from the foreigners/tourists while we wave our dirty laundry all over the place for our own viewing pleasure?

According to Wikipedia on the said location, "It was chosen as it was a popular venue for political rallies in the 50s and 60s."

Let me translate this. It means that it was chosen as it IS a bladdy ulu venue in the 70s, 80s, 90s, 2000s and possibly 2010s for political rallies. Yes? No?

Sure, registered speakers at the corner has dwindled to a mere handful these days but perhaps it is a matter of quality over quantity?

04 Oct 2008 marks the vigil held in memory of the late JB Jeyaratnam. Perhaps one of the more significant events of the Speaker's Corner history.

Circle your calendar for 11 Oct 2008, 5pm to 7pm where ex-CEO of NTUC Income is slated to address the public on the petition to the gahmen with regards to the current credit link securities issue. I foresee a big turnout that day.

Are we seeing a revival of the Speaker's Corner? Perhaps so as more and more people are beginning to stand up and voice out their opinions to the gahmen rather than being the senselessly obedient sheep that we used to be. The Red Dot Awakens as penned in July 2006.

The Speaker's Corner in the past is like polenta on the menu of an Italian restaurant here in Singapore. It is possibly the least popular dish on the menu not because it is no good but rather, we don't know anything beyond the usual pizza and pasta to order it.

People don't see the current Speaker's Corner is of any use not because it is redundant but perhaps we don't really know how to ultilise it as a speaker as well as understand what can come out of it as an audience.

Given time, this will slowly change for the people will eventually learn how to put the Speaker's Corner to good benefit for the people.

Looking forward into the distant future, I see the Hong Lim Park location as Phase I of the Speaker's Corner as I foresee this platform to voice out eventually moving to the new media. By then the local gahmen-controlled newspaper like the $traits Times shall be reduced to the status of a party newsletter.

In the mean time, thanks for the two MRT stations along the NE-Line.

Image Credits: Flickr - Singapore National Album of Pictures
- Voxeros 

03 October 2008

Following Up On A Friday

I signed off yesterday's entry with a sense of incompleteness and was wondering why.

I have to admit, that was one of my slower entries as it took me 3 days to get it up. (The original title was Thoughts On A Tuesday which I conveniently changed to Thursday).

That was only when I read Tan Kin Lian's entry, People To Be Blamed that I realised that my earlier entry was incomplete.

I think my brain battery juice went dead right about that time.

So anyway, to carry on from where I left off, and perhaps to piggyback on Tan Kin Lian's entry, I was thinking that people are up in arms crying with pitchforks and torches at these financial institutions for crafting these complex products that is obscenely profitable for them and doesn't really benefit the investors at all. To further aggravate the situation, these so-called financial advisors are are hard selling the uncles and aunties into buying them.



Uncles and aunties are not as well educated as the present generation. Uncles and aunties have to work harder to earn the same sum of money as today's better educated generation. All uncles and aunties want is to have a stable livelihood when they are old and no longer able to work. That and perhaps some money for their children. However, at the paltry interest rates that the banks have been offering for many years, it is understandable that uncles and aunties wants a better deal when it comes to making money work harder for them.

Then one day, a handsome/pretty "financial advisor" showed up all professional looking and dressed "nice nice".

"Uncle/Auntie 要不要买 Minibond? 这个礼拜,我们有 Promotion. 有 Free Gift 送的!" 

The financial advisor then proceeded to do a song-and-dance routine throwing technical jargon freely and painting the best case scenario how their hard earned money can work for them if they entrust it to the advisor.

Uncles and Aunties were convinced that the financial advisor is selling them something good. After all, 这些年轻人 are better educated and knows what's best for Uncles and Aunties.

Sounds like the good old "Magic Stone" con of the 80s to me.



Here's the thing. It's not just uncles and aunties affected here. A whole shit load of people are affected. Critics say that these folks are now paying penance for their greed but I disagree.

I mean who doesn't want a better deal for our money? We all want the same thing. To build up a decent sized nest egg with enough excess to provide for our loved ones.

Tan Kin Lian's entry, as I have mentioned above, is a list of people to blamed for these folks to lose their money, ranging from agents to banks and even the Monetary Authority of Singapore.

Question. What about the person who signed to dotted line? Why isn't he/she in the list as well. Well, while I disagree that they are being punished for greed but surely there is a price to pay for ignorance? Saying "I didn't know" won't get you off the hook because you simply don't sign what you don't know what you are signing for. 

Trust me, you don't need to be a rocket scientist to understand that logic.

In the comments, Mr Tan Kin Lian said "If you buy a sports car and after purchasing it, the manufacturer secretly swap the engine out, can you blame the buyer? NO!!!!!!". Well, yes and no. We can't blame the buyer for the secret swap on the part of the manufacturer but surely you should check under the hood before you drive it out of the showroom. No?

Yes, there is wrong doing on the part of the financial advisors who don't know what they are selling or worse, mis-selling; their respective employers for pressuring their agents to chalk up these profitable sales and knowing full well it may not necessarily be just as profitable for the investor; the people who created these complex products that don't do what is promised to the investors; and the Gahmen for failure to perform the role of a watchdog to safeguard the interest of the investor public.

My point is this. When you point finger at everybody, just remember to point at yourself too.

Once that is done, let all put our heads together and figure out a way to clean up the mess, so that everyone can move on with their lives.

Note: Mr Tan Kin Lian will be speaking at the Speaker's Corner (Hong Lim Green) addressing this issue and perhaps take questions from the public. The date is tentatively set on 11 Oct 2008 between 5pm to 7pm. Do check back his blog for confirmed date and venue.

Images Credit: http://www.uwe.ac.uk
- Voxeros

1. mettakaruna left...
Friday, 3 October 2008 8:32 pm
If someone goes to a govt-linked Pharmacy store and tell them that he is an illiterate and intend to buy a tin of milk powder which is safe for consumption. That person places his trust on the pharmacist and the govt-linked Pharmacy store because he has already qualified that he doesn't understand what is stated on the tin or pamphlets. However, the pharmacist on-duty sold him a brand of milkpowder containing melamine because she has to meet the quota required otherwise she may lose her job and $3k bond. Are you implying that the poor victim has to blame himself for being illiterate and placing too much trust on the pharmacist and govt-linked pharmacy store????


2. akk left...
Saturday, 4 October 2008 11:21 am
wah...i actually agree with metta. but i guess the analogy with the car wasnt a good one. secretly swapping the engine is not something ppl expect, it's criminal. the person buys something and expects the product that he sees and was introduced to. that's why we have financial advisors, yes? they take courses and know their products. its their job. but if they unethically sell to ppl, then obviously you cant blame the ppl who have possibly been lied to or given misinformation to buy. if i have the knowledge, i can save myself from the bad advisers. if i don't, its like going to a doctor. you trust him to give you the best and u'll never know if he sold u bad medication. like so how? must i get a medical degree so i can truly understand and gauge if he's any good? or at least a chemistry cert so i know what pills he's giving me?

no way, right? and if the pills are indeed bad, am i in anyway to be blamed? most of these ppl probably dun understand the jargon and tried their best to find out as much as they can, afterall its a lot of money. so if the advisor decides to omit information or in simplifying what he told the customers he missed out information, it is not the fault of the customer who thought that by asking all that he could think of, he has covered all the grounds.

eg. if the uncle is signing about 10 pages of the policy and suddenly ask, 'ey, can u just explain to me what that tiny print says on every page?'. the advisor sayd, 'oh, that one? dun worry lah, its there in all our policies, just normal disclaimer.'

in any case, i think the uncles and aunties are already blaming themselves and regretting their decision, although not for the reason u think.


3. JayWalk left...
Saturday, 4 October 2008 4:37 pm :: 
mettakaruna & akk: Thank you for your inputs. I went ahead and read thru Section 27 of the Financial Advisers Act (Chapter 110). You guys are right in the sense that the financial advisors is liable for damages if the product that he sold has gone wrong. The financial advisor, based on his knowledge of the product and his client from which he made a match recommendation, must be held accountable if he had advised erroneously.

Still, I cannot understand the logic where one buys a car and yet does not know how to drive one.


4. Gary left...
Saturday, 4 October 2008 7:54 pm
by the way, you make a lousy salesman. no one will buy your product.


5. JayWalk left...
Sunday, 5 October 2008 12:47 am :: 
Gary: You make a lousy customer. I won't sell you anything anyway. :P
 

02 October 2008

Thoughts On A Thursday

With the banks all going down in domino fashion, it is only a matter of time before the shockwaves reaches the rest of the world.

With Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae seem like a localised US problem, the Lehman Brothers debacle seemed to have a wider and more direct reach to this part of the world.

And it did when people's investments in Credit Linked Investments and other structured products went up in smoke overnight.

There were a lot of news coverage in Hong Kong over this to the extend to hysteria when people started a panic bank run at Bank of East Asia all because of some hoax sms. The alleged perpetrator has since been arrested and brought in for questioning.

What made me jaw drop was not only the number of people who got burnt but also the type of people. Without sounding discriminatory, how does the illiterate Ah Pek ended up with HKD 500,000 worth of a complex structured product?

Even with my University degree, I am already struggling with the prospectus of an IPO as well as my own insurance policies (The Wife happens to be quite good at this. Heng ah....). So it makes me wonder, how the average Joe is able to digest the prospectus of these complex financial products?

Wait. Did any of them even understand the product before plonking down the money?

Wait. Did any of them even read the prospectus before plonking down the money?

Wait. Did any of them even read the operating manual of their current mobile phone?

So the Hong Kong gahmen is contemplating stepping in and helping out the folks who are supposedly duped into investing in these products.

I wonder if our own MAS is actively doing anything?

Well, as far as  I know, not much. Perhaps due to the fact that I am physically away from Singapore to actually see things happening. Someone please tell me.


Ex-CEO of NTUC Income, Mr Tan Kin Lian, has been actively writing on his blog in recent week focusing on this topic and engaging the gahmen to a certain extent. Definitely worth a read, even if you are not affected. He questions the agenda behind the agents who were pushing these products to the common people. Do they know the product that they are selling? Do they know that that the product that they are selling is way beyond the average Joe's comprehension? If so, why do they still sell them?

Perhaps the employers of these agents are to shoulder a portion of the blame too as they are the ones who peg the individual agents performance to their sales results and that usually the higher the risk of the product, the greater the score of their KPI.

Yes, high risk product but marketed as low risk to many of the unsuspecting folks and easily hidden amongst the thick wad of mambo jambo technical jargon, otherwise known as the prospectus.

Suddenly, I don't really know if those insurance agents/financial advisors really have my best interest at heart now, even if they were my friends before we started our individual careers.

Image Credits: Flickr - coolinsights
- Voxeros
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