June 30, 2013

Everyman likes to believe, he’s got it together – that he’s got it together like marbles in his hands to fashion this thing somewhere in his mind called character.

Most of the time, the sum total what makes up the daily raw material of this man’s life gets added into his character. Usually without him realizing it – tell a kid that all he would ever do in life is clean toilets and if he believes you, he will probably end up turning the wheel of life with a mop as a janitor – like seasoned leather what we do, think and even how we go about making sense of the world is what we call character.

That at least is how an intelligent narrative is supposed to sound like – but that night as the man tore through the windy narrows roads in the leafy suburbs of Kenny Hills – it was very hard to tell who exactly the man behind the wheel was. He looked different from the farmer – there was even an air of mischief about him that she was stirred something deep within her – she liked this man much better than that awkward farmer – she liked the sure footed way in which he negotiated the tight bends without hardly a flicker of fear – confidence that could only have come from experience. From having seen it all before. She began to wonder perhaps the rumors were true, the man seated beside her once had a European wife. A German. a fallen nun. They lived in South America where he farmed sugarcane and raced cars. Till the war came…

Is he that man she wondered – the woman in red looked at him again, this time carefully as if she was composing an image of someone she wanted to get right down to their essence – but as she looked on a swell of smoldering terror mixed with childish delight began to fill her suddenly – it started with the man lowering the windows and lighting a cigarette and turning his gaze towards her, it was the way he looked at her. As if he had been suddenly transported to another realm and some how taken her along for a ride – another life belonging to yet another man – the woman in red knew these dark men – she knew them well enough from the many scars on her wrist – that was why she had resigned herself to marry the grand old man – and now her tormentor was before her, toying with her fear and fascination, her desire for such a man and yet at the same time the trepidation of knowing that it can all only end in tears amd shattered dreams – these thoughts flashed through the woman in red as she watched each street lamp metamorphosing the farmer to this other man – this man who didn’t even mind turning to her when they stopped at the traffic that she simply ignored, “bet you a million bucks your hubby doesn’t open her up fully as I do.” The woman in red blushed. What else could she do.

After all she had brought out this man.

And as the new reborn man and the woman who was now not so sure that she was still the hunteress – both sat quietly in the purring Jaguar waiting for the lights to turn green. A moment of epiphany suddenly dawned on the woman in red. There was no need to rush – that night she had resigned herself to be a flotsam to go wherever this man pleased – she would not spoil his rhythm. Not even so a bit – she would just follow the man’s cue. He had even begun to play a Como Fue and for the briefest of moments when only the haunting pathos of the music filled the cabin as both the new man and the woman in red were lost in their own thoughts.

The night was still young.

“The farmer looked at the car and at the woman in red again in the Planter’s driveway – she wore matching laced gloves and with her big curls, she looked exactly like a billionaire proprietor of a bird nest trading house – a look of expectancy hung all over her like a heady perfume that curled around the man like a serpent.

The man she was good in seductive. Even better at prying open his weaknesses like a stainless steel can opener. The man ran his fingers along the silken bonnet – he could just make out the enlarged intercooler and knew instinctively this beast would have absolutely no trouble negotiating the tight hair pins and straights even at overdrive. None whatsoever. The man knew – it was the way the car sat that suggested to him this would drive exactly like a boxer and a hint of a Lamborghini on the straights. With every passing touch..it seemed as if the car was calling out to him….titilating his eyes with it’s voluptous lines and suggestion of raw power. Calling to a man somewhere in the farmer who had seemed to be in a spell. All the while the woman in the red dress looked on with an expression of sublime satisfaction.

From time the farmer would look up at the woman who leaned seductively against the car – he wore a look bordering on fear and fascination – as if even he must have known this have been an elaborate trap. But something dark was drawing him deeper and deeper….the man remembered another life. A life where he would come alive in moonnless nights and tear through the streets in Singapore.

“Yes, I remember him….that man who always slipped away like a thief in the night on a moonless night. While his wife pretended to sleep. As she knew there were certain things to the man she married who will never see the light of day.”

The woman in red looked at the man – she realized the delectable concoction of poison she had brewed for the man was slowly and surely beginning to take effect – she had once remembered as an apprentice to the grand old man.

“Men have only three weaknesses, money, liquor, women. There are easy to undo. There is another sort of man. He is like the legendary warrior in the martial discipline of Hon Kuen we call the dark characters – these men can only be brought down by the men who they are all trying to run and hide from. And here comes the secret. And usually these men still reside in the folds and memories of these men – they’re always there lurking in darkness. Bring this man out and you will have him eating from the palm of your hands.”

The woman in red recounted those words in a reverie – when she looked up, as the man who looking at her was now a different man – this wasn’t the shy, reserve and ramrod farmer – there was something different in the man’s eyes, the cadence of his slow movements and cool demeanor suggested he must be a man who once knew about racing cars.

Somewhere between the distance of the wing mirror and the tail lights – the man must have succumbed to his temptation for fast cars.

“Get in!” The woman hesitated. Partly, it was due to the brusque tone. But when the man said, “Get in! I am hungry and I need to cook!” She got in. He couldn’t help it. He had tried to push aside that urge, but it just got the better of him - that’s how its like with all opiates – at first one resist and the harder on tries to mine whatever morsel of resolve that’s still left to resist. Then failure has to be nothing short of glorious – when the engine growled to life – the man scanned the dashboard. He liked the way, the clutch sat close like a Masserati – liked even more the almost spartan through bred feel of the cabin – at that moment, the woman in red registered his look of immideacy that spoke of a primal man wanting a thing. She looked nervous.

Till then, she had always believed – he was under his spell. But man is different. Maybe he sees through my plans to undo him. Perhaps this mysterious stranger will be my undoing instead – who is he, the woman in red thought to herself as she beamed at the man.

The man grabbed it and looked at it for a while, then at her again and finally his eyes came to rest on the beast.

When the man strapped himself in, the woman in red looked pensive – she noticed he brought his harness full across his shoulders and she did the same, though she didn’t know why. It even felt right when he brought her seat forward with a smile. He mentioned it had something to do with weight distribution - and in that very moment when the man placed his hands on the steering wheel and powered up the beast – it was as if, he had been reborn into yet another man – a man long dead till now. Suddenly revived by the concerto of pistons and cylinders firring a symphony of grunts and pants that can only come from a car that the woman knew instinctively, the man seat next to her that day would split wide open like fire wood.

She had seen that same look in men before. A look she could never ever place no matter how hard she tried - a distant look where the man recalled the faint memory of another life, another man who often drove a black Ferrari in illegal races in Singapore – that man never lost a single race - it was another man. A man who was part of the city as the city was part of it – at one point, when the man set the rear view mirror straight. He caught his own reflection – in that instant – even the woman could sense the heady images of the past storming into the cramped cockpit of the sportscar – she could tell he had done all this before, the way, he had inverted his Rolex submariner into the inside of his wrist so that he could time the rev – the way he tightened his right driving glove till they looked like skin and how he had left the other loose for the corners. And through it all, it seemed to the woman in red the man seated beside her that evening was someone who see had never seen before – not this side of him at least.

All that remained now as they both sat in the purring sportscar was the faint sepia image of the man who once race cars for money in the streets of Singapore along with the lingering fumes of octane -  with these thoughts, the man suddenly smiled at the slightly nervous woman in red and as they both blasted into the sunset.

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Today I chanced on a group that sought me out in the Planter’s. Generally, I am not in the habit of speaking to people I am not acquainted with – but in this case since one of the chaps in the group knows a common friend. I obliged them.

They wanted to know more about my radical idea of just using six farmers as a long term solution to control the haze in Sumatra. I shared with them, the idea was for each farmer to operate an oil palm plantation roughly 1,000 hectares (which is so-so, it’s big, but not as big as the concessionaire plantations that can go 30,000 to even 100,000 hectares.)

The general idea is to have a group of people at ground level deeply embedded in the social and cultural landscape of Sumatra.

There would be six of these farmers, each controlling an area of 200 miles. They will be arranged in a hexagon with one controller right in the middle. The goal as I put it to these gentlemen is for these farmers to form local connections with the rural community – they need to work through the layers and networks of provincial power and politics starting from the state level right to the nitty gritty of touching base with the village headman – they need to be right in the thick of the action.

I went on to tell these gentlemen my plan would be self sustaining – as since oil palm is a business. It is possible to self finance this deal. As all these farmers will process their palm bunches in a mill which they collectively own themselves.

These men went on to ask me what I thought about peat fires, water bombing and the using the international law to solve this perennial problem – I told them, every year the Indonesians blame the fires on the underground peat fires, but if they had bothered with water canals during the rain season – I really don’t see how they can catch fire. As for water bombing – I don’t believe it is effective, more of a PR effort, as even before the water can reach the fire, it is so hot, the water turns to steam. As for International law – I told these gentlemen that they can may well reach even a consensus, but the problem remains enforcement on the ground.

After ten minutes, I stood up apologized that I had to attend another meeting. Before I walked off, the taller man who was dressed in a city suit (which is quite usual in the main dinning hall in the planters) ask me,

“So you believe the only solution is to have six farmers in Sumatra and one man who controls them all.”

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“I did not turn back and continued walking towards the woman in red waiting for me in a purring Jaguar. They did not stop me. The conversation, I assume could have gone on for much longer. If only I could convince myself that I wasn’t wasting my breathe. But it felt right to cut them short. I had too. As I am taking the wife of the grand old man for dinner and the opera – it seems the wife of the grand old man who owns the bird nest empire wants to show me the many delights of the city – it’s sights and sounds, so to speak. So I cannot stay and chat. Maybe another day.

Yes, only six farmers are required, arranged in a hexagon. Each controlling a sphere of influence of 200 kilometers.

Many people I still believe live in the past – the do not seem to under the post Suharto business environment or for that matter how politics and power has not been decentralized and is in fact balkanized throughout the lenght and breadth of the Indonesian Archipelago – it’s not just Sumatra, but you can take your pick, Kalimantan, Sulawesi, Irian Jaya, Java – these days the will of decentral government has been weakened – and power has devolved to the provincial decision makers.

To get meaningful results – its necessary to establish close ties with the local community – to establish something remiscent of the  Ethische Politiek. I fully appreciate in polite circles in Jakarta this is hardly a subject what goes down well in a luncheon or if one wants to come across as modern and not parachoil – but the only reason why I say this is because the relation between the farmer and the villagers is a very ancient compact – it is not that has not changed since the first Dutch planters first settled in Batavia and the Mollucus to trade in pepper and nutmeg.

I cannot even begin to explain how one farmer alone can have such a great effect on the local community – if this man plays his cards well – and the natives respect him. Then everything is possible. If that errand politician in Jakarta thinks he can just waltz in a give the villagers one left slipper and after he votes for him, he gets the right slipper – then the farmer will just make sure that carpetbagger doesnt get elected – even if that politician is a monkey, if the farmer tells his community that, that animal should be voted in Parliament – its as good as done.

Life has not changed for the last 200 years in those parts – it takes a special sort of man with a deep appreciation for nostalgia and how the wheel of life must turn to appreciate all these things. That was why I much prefer to be at the back of a wheel of a V12 Jaguar than to spend my time talking to a bunch of people who have absolutely no idea what I am talking about it.

Sure, they can assemble another dream team – treat it like another cut and dried case like Pedra Blanca. Go through all the paces and perhaps they may even be able to get something resembling a resolution – but come this time next year, it will be burn baby burn again – so perhaps you can tell me whether my way is better or theirs.

Trust me, all our problems will be over very quickly, if only we are able to get 6 farmers and that one controller on the ground.

As it is, we have stupid policy makers who are just content to rain dance. Yes the metaphor is apt – as rain dancing presupposes that one is able to alter events by jumping up and down and banging on a drum – but despite all the noise, all this will amount to a great nothing – as these people simply don’t understand what it takes to win this war – they know even less that this is a battle for the hearts and minds that takes place deep within the kampung.

Not in some air conditioned conference room where people where suits and drink colorful cocktails and read nice reports only to go home believing that they have nailed the problem – when they are even no where near the solution.

In my mind, this matter has been allowed to rot of over 15 years. And every solution prescribed has not only failed, but it has merely emboldened those plantation owners – what is required now is a bold and new plan – a plan where community power is harnessed into a wonder weapon to bring these palm oil barons to their knees.

And what may you ask is the cost? If let’s say I tell you to invest in a 155 artillery. What do you think the ROI would be? Zero. But this pays for it’self, it’s self sustaining as its structured as a business where it is possible to even grow thereby enlarging the farmer’s sphere of influence.

I know when I am hunted. It’s a feeling like an itch that you can’t get at – I see in the eyes of the grand old man 27 year old wife – she does a good enough job of trying to come across as terminally indifferent.

From time to time she flashes me a look that suggest that I may be out of my league – just ten then the grand old asked me what was the best time to travel up the Mekong – I asked him for what purpose – he replied to see a friend who no longer walks this world, which is the parlance of the underworld meant how to get there without been seen. I suggested late November after the rains, the reeds would be high then to allow for good ground cover.

The old man curled his pincer like finger and inhaled his cigarette with a hiss. His chair rocked back once and when it came down, he leaned forward and he looked deeply at me.

As I looked into his eyes. I was able to read his thoughts

“I know what you want to do – you want to go up North with your bird nest – you want to paddle up the Mekong, transport your precious bird nest by elephants through the narrow sliver of valley in Shan – hide in the poppy fields and slowly make your way up to China. You want to open up a new route.”

The conversation only lasted a brief moment like how a candle burst into flames only to expire suddenly – a brief encounter.

Then oblivion – that was when I noticed the young lady looking interested for the very first time that evening – could it be possible that she too was able to pick up this suggestion without even having to mention a single word.

As many of you may already know many of the guildmen have convened in Kuala Lumpur to discuss the censorship of the internet in Singapore – many have come together to work and give their inputs on the development of the $10 haze buster.

This is a review by Suresh. He’s a Canadian and a UAV expert. In the game he plays the evil third stage Guild navigator, but I managed to catch him when he was just in the mood for some candid shots.

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The Brotherhood is a very simple fraternity to recognize. In the beginning everyone rolls into the hotel foyer in shiny muscle cars - they’re all well dressed to the tee and look a cut above the rest – the internationale Rennainsance man.

Then when drinks and dinner are served, that’s when it starts to go downhill – someone brings out a story about a battle they lost or vanquished the otherside – some takes issue, the guilds form up into cliques - next thing bottles and chairs go flying off in every direction. the police are called and everyone jumps out of the window and speeds off.

It is that way all the time – As I am the cook and I am the one who has to explain to everyone how I have absolutely no idea who or where these troublemakers come from – fortunately, most of the time, the authorities believe me. As I look very much the part of the cook who doesn’t know anything – Its been this way ever since I could ever remember.”

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Where have the birds gone….I know the case against Quick Gun Shammugam looks damning – but I assure you. You’re barking up the wrong tree. I happen to know this industry very well. The people you’re dealing with are very powerful. They’re so powerful they dont need Quick Gun – and allow me to let you in, into a little secret even if Quick Gun seems to be like in the inner circle. As he’s doing is serving up popadums and biscuits.

This fellow just got caught with the wromg bed fellows lah – he dunno head or tail. All your Pulitzer price investigative journalism just reads like a Tin Tin Adventure – but there is no truth to it.

You see I happen to know who the real culprits are -  I have to know. As one day I need to settle accounts with my friends the birds.

You should apologise to quick gun Sham for letting your mind run wild and tripping you over your panties.

Remember I am the man who knows who is responsible for this haze. I know every single one of them.

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“This is the way I see it. If Quick Gun starts the conversation by calling in the heavy artillery like Davinder Singh. Then everything goes right out of the window. In this case he’s working through the digital grapevine – that’s what a wise man would do – use diplomacy only if all avenues fail do you resort to force.

Any reasonable man would have no problem understanding common sense from what Quick Gun Shammugam is trying to do by explaining to Remy – who incidentally is no Star Guild Certified Interplanetary Liaison officers like Sergei or even Singaporedaddy.

This blur Remy calls up sia chu. Since he is a sotong, he doesn’t know in Wales it’s time to get comfy and tucky – that’s why she entitled her brush with death as a call in the night. Let me put my reputation on the line (whatever it’s worth) – there is some structural truth to what she has written, certain factual accounts are correct such as Quick Gun sat on the board – but it is the insinuations that are stitched together to create a the suggestion that there is something very smelly in Denmark – that I find goes against the gentlemen’s code of fair play.

So Gentlemen how would quick gun play it now? To me it is very clear – on record he has resorted to all diplomatic means to try to make this novelist see the error of her supposition – so what else can he do?

But I will say this and perhaps you the perceptive reader can stitch it all together and draw your respective conclusions concerning these allegations – the fat girl is just barking up the wrong tree. Hey, I like her élan, panache and aplomb in the way she uses short sentences to heighten and sharpen whole atmosphere – but despite her creatively, she is so far away from the truth.

If it was really men like Quick Gun running around in a cloak and dagger with mysterious palm oil barons to destroy people and planet in the name of the greater glory of moneyrama – then it would be so very easy to bring them down.

But with these barons they are so big – so immensely big that even I doubt it’s possible to bring them to bow.

And if you look at Quick Gun Shammugum and how he’s trying to build a legal seize machine short of using the United Nations and the Aga Khan foundation – now if Quick gun was sharing a bunk bed with those cheap pirates and carpetbaggers.

Why would he go through so much trouble to bring those proxies of those plantation barons to justice – as for the barons. You will never know who they are…only shadows in the shifting moonlight of the flaming forest somewhere deep in Sumatra.

.”

Most of the major hot spots in Sumatra are fizzling out. Then the water helicopters come in.

The way I see it, it’s like sending in the doctor after the patient has mati alredi.

And how do I know all this?

We have a man on the ground.

The solution is to create a network of singaporean farmers strategically located throughout Sumatra and especially the region of Riau – each farmer runs a plot of 500 hectares or possibly more, with an oil mill – this is the only way for them to osmotically integrate into the convoluted kampung hierarchy to change the way agriculture is managed.

There are no short cuts. This time next year, if the winds continue to blow Northwards maybe the haze will not be so bad in Singapore. Even if it rains, I am sure it will offer some much welcome respite. But one thing is certain, the burning will continue.

We just need six farmers. Each located strategically in major trade and social nodes to foreclose on this mission by establishing networks with the headman, political and social hegemony right to the kampung folk- 6 men is all that is needed to put an end to this nonsense. Then my ashmatic and kids can go out into park and watch my beloved birds.

Six good men and all our problems will melt away like lemon drops.

Every day pretending that it’s another day in paradise, even my gardener gnome can do that – but he sure ain’t getting 3 million over smackaroos every year.

This is understandable as everyone likes the idea of the wise elder statesman who can soothe their anxieties and palliate their fears – when the view form your room looks like yogurt.

It’s perfectly understandable. I can understand.

Haze Respirator V.2

June 27, 2013

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This is the field version of the Haze Respirator that has been fitted with a heavy duty HEPA circular filter – got kitted out this morning by the Timblinger Guilds from Munich and have been when cycling around a 700 air quality count plantation. Despite the five chilli  strenous exercise – all I felt was a bit thirsty. But since there is a camel back suction feed inside the mask to supply water everything is perfect. The good thing about the mask is the temperature never builds up as it’s always fresh air is pumped in – my only complain is the sound seems to be quite present – or maybe it is just me. I even like how the googles are positive pressure to prevent dirty air from smutting my eyes.

This morning as a I chanced on a coupe of harvesters cycling with this head gear and lugging my hunting bow – they are all scrambled and ran away.

So far I’ve used it for only 4 hours. Will be taking it through it’s paces for another 5 hours. I expect such types of respirators to be used for people who have to regularly work eight hours a day – pizza delivery man, road sweepers, policeman, cyclist, post man, car coupon aunties, soldiers, dengue inspections, construction workers etc.

“Since this project is driven predominantly by those in the Internationale underground – news concerning it’s progress is bound to be muffled. School teachers, university lecturers and your supervisors will ask you what it is?

It’s best to just say, you bought it in Amazon -  let me be clear, our goal is to prepare for the next haze, if it gets this bad and ministers start falling over themselves again and the president decides to hide in his cupboard and everyone in authority just seems to be waffling – then what you are likely to see is whole droves of people who have already built their $10 respirators and walking, cycling and playing football with them – these are things that another can make with their loved ones –

If you happen to be a dad. Sit down with your child and work through the many challenges that you need to come up with a working prototype – it will be fun and a good opportunity for your kids to see anotherside of your character – if you happen to be an educator, then try to incorporate this idea in a science project – and if you’re just a salaried man who has a working prototype try to share it with the people who you regularly hang around in the water cooler.

To be honest with you. I wanted to make money out of this device. But it doesn’t feel right to me, then and now – so I am not even going to patent this design. Not even going to try to commodotize it – it’s something that I hope people will get excited about. Something that will allow them to focus all their rage and frustration on as they try their best to solve the many niggling designs of building something like this from scratch.

In my experience, when people feel that they are doing something meaningful to prepare for an uncertain future – usually the feel happier as that’s only natural when one takes control of one’s life – I imagine the feeling has to be very edifying and fulffilling. As for governments, there have always been optional to me.

Something that beating all the levels of a video game and just watching the tributes roll right out – tributes that you know most gamers never ever get to watch. As most of them have never ever made it to the final level.

Get excited! Remember this is a double skull directive – it’s top secret. Beware of spies!

We will win!

Haze respirator – V.1

June 26, 2013

“To construct the world’s cheapest haze respirator – four things are required. (1) The housing. (2) Fan (3) Battery and (4) filter – and of course, (5) the housing to put everything in

The nose and mouth piece and tubing to me is a non issue – just use the standard clear silicone that all hospitals use – it’s an off the shelve item in most hospital pharmacies. Remember the goal is to keep the cost low, not to win a good design award.

With the nose and mouth piece sorted out – this will virtually eliminates all the current problems faced by users of the N-95 mask (straining, hot, difficult to put on correctly etc etc) – as since the nose and mouth piece gets air fan in – it’s always positive pressure in your nose and mouth piece – that means since only clean air is streamed in – it’s much more forgiving on user error.

The Housing has to be a cylinder – I highly recommend PVC pipes. The general design should be divided into three main segments along the cylinder. (1) Intake guard – this is a wire mesh that is supposed to protect fingers and objects from falling into the intake fan and filter (2) Filter compartment which is where the filter sits snugly (filter part I will discuss later). We have not decided whether it is better to slot or screw in the filter in like a light bulb – (3) this is the pressurized air compartment which is connect to a valve that fits into the tubing to supply mildly pressurized air to the user via the mouth and nose piece.

Now as you go into this project – you will of course come across a few niggling questions like – how do I create an intake guard? You might want to consider a pipe cowling.

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Or how do I go about creating the various segments in the cylinder? For your prototype, you may like to consider working with high compression foam – these are materials that you usually find in day care centers where kids jump around in. Cut the various segments and fit them in to form the various divisions in your cylinder.

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No need to use a lithium oin like in this pic. This is just to illustrate how compressed foam can be used to hold a battery and create internal walls within the cylinder. You may also like to play around with clear perplex.

Tip: Battery needs to be durable and long lasting. Like so.

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Fan keep it simple. Very simple with some electrical conversion to 12 V.

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Nose and mouth piece – keep it simple again. Need to modify a one way flap – where air goes out from the mask ONLY!

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You may also like to visit this site for further inspiration.

http://www.google.com/patents/US7481221

Make it and give it to your loved ones. I was not here. We never had this conversation. Good luck and see you on the otherside.

DUE TO MEASURED RESPONSE – CERTAIN SEGMENTS HAVE BEEN DELETED AND NO YOUTUBE VIDEO IS AVAILABLE IN SINGAPORE DUE TO THE RECENT PASSING OF THE WORLD’S MOST REPRESSIVE CENSORSHIP LAWS.

 

I came across this post entry by Chin Leng. He runs an excellent blog site known as “My Singapore News.” And from what he was able to summarise after watching the program Talking point –  I was able to gather without too much difficulty, the current strategy of trying to manage the haze by using N95 mask is not only highly confusing, but also fraught with all sorts of unnecessary complications that may actually do more harm than good. One astute observation that is seldom discussed is how long can one wear a N95 mask for? Is it good for 4 hours, if the air count index stands at 400? Or is it only good for two at 700? No one knows it seems….and because not even the policy makers themselves are fully aware of these details, they’re not much help either. As a consequence, its all as clear as mud.

Government may try their very best to put a happy spin to the on going crisis that everything is under control. But from my assessment, they have absolutely no idea what to do to get on top of this crisis – that’s just another way of saying, they got blind sided again.

Maybe those people giving out advices on how to deal with the haze in Mediacorpse Talking point should all do us a big favor and start giving closed door speeches in the school of Rajaratnam - that seems like one of the most reliable way for useless people to just disappear into oblivion.

This has been extracted from ‘My Singapore News.’

With the haze issue so current and so personal up close, everyone is feeling it and affected by it, I thought it would be good to listen to the CNA programme last evening. Martin, the host, had three other guests, a medical doctor, the deputy CEO of NEA and a social activist. The programme went on quite well with many interested callers as if one hour was just too short.

By the time the hour was up, I could summarise the programme with three words, confusion, evasion and exasperation. If anyone got the chance to review the programme in the net, you will know what I mean. So many things were said and so many questions were asked, but everything was evasion, confusion and the audience got away so exasperated and frustrated. But not all was lost as there were some very valuable points raised that were enlightening but also confusing at the same time. Only on a couple of questions that a simple answer expected were granted.

I will try to summarise a few of the salient points that I could still recall.

1. Buying of a N95 mask. Many people out there would have believed that getting hold of a N95 mask would solve all their problems and fears. Far from it. Buying a N95 mask is the beginning of their troubles. The first problem is how to wear it properly, which many assumed was natural and easy. Then there are questions of when to use it, how often and how long it can last. More confusions. And the myth provided in the media that the mask is reusable is not exactly right.

2. The manufacturer was quoted to say that the mask can be used for up to 8 hours. What does that mean? It depends on the condition of the PSI and how long is the mask exposed to different PSI level. Anyone wiser?

3. As to when to wear, the mother of all answers is to refer to the NEA website and the official advisory. Now what is that? Ah Peh and Ah Ma dunno leh. So for those ‘boh tak cheh’, not computer literate, so how? Dunno leh. Can Mediacorp put it up for easy reference by the laypeople or not? This must be important right? No one ask, but just accept that you want to know you better know how to get to the NEA website.

4. And to my horror, wearing the mask can be a dangerous thing. Pregnant women better seek medical advice before wearing one or risk harming the foetus. Wearing the mask could also lead to more forceful breathing that may end up more harm than good. And for the kiasu and kiasi, please don’t wear the mask for too long or wear it when sleeping.

5. Forceful breathing is also related to the advice by some to use wet towels. The doctor said wet towel only remove more of the bigger particles. The PM 2.5 could end with greater numbers in the body when one breathes heavily through a wet towel.

6. And what is this, buying poor quality imitation mask thinking it is safe and walking around with it and endangering oneself. How to solve this problem?

7. PSI. This is the next most confusing item other than PM 2.5. Forget about the numbers as they don’t mean a thing to the laypeople. But the terms, very unhealthy and hazardous should mean something right? So everyone thinks so. Now what does very unhealthy mean to you? What can you do and not do? Or what is the meaning of hazardous? Hide under the bed, or go to work as per normal, just take it easy, don’t rush, don’t run, don’t exercise? If that is the case why is it called hazardous? How hazardous is hazardous? You know meh?

8. Now the tricky part. PSI 300 is very unhealthy or hazardous? Some reports said only above PSI 400 is hazardous. But then not really leh. Is exposure to PSI 400 for 10 min or 20 min not hazardous, …never mind. So exposed to how long then will ‘not be never mind’? Oh, like that you cannot use the 3 hour PSI. The very unhealthy and hazardous tags are meant for 24 hour PSI. Why like that one? KNN, how are the laypeople to know? Why put up something that no one knows?

9. Never mind, never mind. Samulah. Would 3 hours of continuous PSI 400 be hazardous, if you know what this word mean? Or would 3 hours of PSI 600 be hazardous or more hazardous than a 24 hour PSI 400? Which one is more serious, one hour exposure to a 3 hr PSI 600 or one hour exposure to a 24 hr PSI 400? Really catch no balls.

10. For all the laypeople listening to the programme, do they really understand what the panel was talking about? I am sure they would want a few simple answers as a guide to their daily activities. I think it will be very helpful if an answer like when 3 hr PSI is 400, this is what it means and what the people should avoid doing. Or when the 24 hr PSI is 400, can’t imagine that happening with a constant 400 average over 24 hours. I would imagine an emergency will be declared and everyone be told to stay inside the bomb shelters and wear their N95s at the same time.

11. And, this one the GPs will all be very happy to know. When experiencing any difficulties or not sure, go and check with the GPs. You think seeing a GP is for free ah?

12. One interesting point for smokers. When the haze is dense outside, and when all the doors and windows are closed, please do not smoke inside the house. Not even when the aircon is on. I think no need to explain why for this. And watch what you are cooking if they add to air pollution inside a closed home.

I must say many things were spoken, many questions asked, many were ‘elar’ or the answers were evasive. And if not sure, refer to NEA website or refer to the 24 hr PSI. What if a person wants to go out to do something and the eyes say don’t go? Refer to the 24 hr PSI. What nonsense!

It would be good that a little time should be allotted for the panel host to summarise a few key points in simple forms for the listeners so that at least they can pick up a few pointers of the do’s and don’ts and not the maybe like this, maybe like that, or it depends on this or that or how long or how high the PSI.

Damn confusing and damn ‘pek chek’ when the programme came to a close. If I can feel jialat, dunno about all the aunties and uncles.

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“I want to be crystal clear here! This clarification is necessary so that everyone working on this project will NOT be confused. And hopefully remain clear on the means to accomplish this mission. This is an independent initiative, 

WE DO NOT WANT TO WORK WITH AN OUTFIT THAT CENSORS THE INTERNET!

We have nothing in common with such people as their philosophy is so diametrically at odds with us – I cannot even see us all sitting in the same room without at least ashtrays and cups flying across the table. So let’s not risk it. IMHO, the difference is just irrencociable….as we see so little eye to eye that it’s impossible to even come together to craft such a thing as common ground.

There is nothing malicious about this. Nothing underhanded even. Just not interested in working with morally questionable people who do not seem to share or for more that matter appreciate the whole idea of ‘rights’.

Unless the government of the day repeals the current draconian law designed specifically to censor the internet – then I think, we should approach this project independently and if possible work with only our channel partners and no one else.

What I feel has often been discounted here is people usually have very short memories. We on the otherhand, do not seem to suffer from that misgiving. As by nature. We do not forget. You could say that is a problem that we are still trying to deal with – not ever. Others may forget, that I have no doubt of. Others may even get used to these draconian laws to censor the internet.  But not us. Never! You could even say providing I am still on the shift – I will always make sure it is the duty of everyone to remember…..nope…I don’t see myself giving closed door speeches in the school of Rajaratnam…not now or in the foreseeable future.

That is final! We never flip flop! No means no….could be 10, 15 or even 30 years…the answer will still be no! However, if these draconian internet censorship laws are repealed, then anything is possible.”

The N95 Zombies

June 25, 2013

These days with the haze, life seems to have lost so much of it’s flavor and color. I’ve got a confession to make – I am really quite spoilt. As before the haze came along and rendered everyone who I would normally come across wearing these days in the streets – there all have that blank N95 zombie expression – now you understand why my world was actually very colorful. Today it’s like boiled water.

I just miss the whole idea of interacting with people completely. I miss they way they express themselves through their wrinkles, squints, tic, curl of the lip, flare of the nostrils – I miss especially the cryptic facial SMS’s I used to get – along with the many intrigues that they may be trying to convey with me with their looks – miss the expression of others whenever they talk passionately about their objects of interest or even if they’re just happy, surprised, mortified or estatic about just seeing me.

Miss it so much that it didn’t even occur to me the sudden and unexpected invasion of the N95 zombies would obliterate so much of the little pleasures I usually take for granted on clear and sunny days.

I even miss the days when the leggy call girl who drives a Ferrari who resides above my condo gives me her morning obligatory condescending sneering look - (she needs to do that every morning and evening, otherwise she will break things up stairs when she knows my wife has gone back to Singapore. She cannot help it. The moon affects her)whenever we met in the lift – it’s the whole notion that we don’t ever need to speak to convey whole sentences and thoughts that I especially miss these days - I even miss the way she throws her hair back and walks out, as if she expects me to the hold the door open for her – which I always do. But not before she flashes me, a look that says it all – “Ah…it’s not meant to be.” Followed by a lingering smile that stays with her till she reaches her car – then again, another flash of her mischevious smile when she wooshes by narrowing missing me, “you should take me for a spin one day……it’s so sad. You can’t afford it.”

Think about it all that complete with a barbed repartee without even having to say, “good morning.”- these days with the haze, the only thing I can make out is another expressionless N95 zombie.

With her N95 mask rivetted on her face – She’s now written in an alphabet that I can no longer read. There no mystery there.

I even miss people watching in side walk cafe’s – miss that whole idea of serendipity that comes when two strangers just come naturally and end up having conversation where each of us see the world differently – with everyone wearing N95 mask, it’s hard, if impossible even to hold eye contact.

With the on-going haze, I miss most of all been able to just sit by and watch my children talk without wearing their N95′s in the open….that makes me very sad. As I see so little of them.

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“If we look to governments to do anything about this haze. They will be like the UN. The united nothing –  just talk, talk and talk. The way I see it – life MUST go on – and the only way to foreclose on this basic goal at the home front is for us to use all our resources and networks to invent a respirator that deals specifically with the haze. And not wait for juggernaut firm like 3M to come up with this new invention. As everything they manufacture cost a bomb - this respirator should be as unobtrusive as possible to allow people to talk and see each other, it should also be transparent and above all superior in comfort and performance to the current N95 mask by a factor of at least five to six times!

The current solution is no good – it’s a bullshit solution! People find it hard to breathe, as they need to pull quite hard to even get air to pass through the mask – many people even wear this mask the wrong way - its no good for kids and babies - this means, it cannot be used for prolonged periods without a certain degree of discomfort and risk. Cannot even be used for strenous activity either. What is required is something that can overcome all these problems - what is required is a respirator that will allow people to even walk around, cycle and if they want too work outdoors for a period of at least eight hours even under a 700 count.

The first order of the day is keep the moral in the home front solid. The gold standard of how to accomplish this is to create ideal conditions whereLife MUST go on as usual! Without our wifes and children safe, it is not possible to win decisively - only when life at home is normal again can we begin to truly roll up our sleeves and fight this enemy.

We need to come up with this ten dollar machine that everyone can make for themselves and use. It needs to be so simple that anyone can build it with a simple plan with avaliable materials and it must also solve the problems with smutting eyes. Easily made by everyone with minimal skills. Materials sourced off the shelve. Cheapy cheap…no F35 nonsense….dead cheap and effective!

The Council of the wise has decreed this a double skull order directive so most of you can take leave from your regular plasma gun, teleportation and space ship testing and development – this message has been broadcasted throughout the known universe under CAT A ‘SOS’ - the first working prototype must be ready within 12 hours for trials! The Germans and French guilds will be helping us – please try to get along and set your ego aside. We have a mission to accomplish. Failure is not an option!”

I spent the whole morning touching base with many in my own community – the goal was to try to use the wealth of our combined expertise in plantations and mining to try to see whether we can come out with something to rein in the cowboys in Sumatra.

Everywhere I went, the reaction was the same, “don’t be crazy Darkness…we can’t be seen helping a regime that’s hell bent on censoring the internet! Besides that’s your idea remember?”  Those were just the incredibly polite one’s. I will leave out the colorful ones.

I think, this could well be a case of karma – what goes around is bound to come around. Or maybe it’s just me….by that I mean, whenever I sell my community an idea…usually, what I regularly fail to consider is, though it’s an easy sell, but often it’s incredibly difficult, if not impossible to undo it! People after all have their own minds. And whether they wish to help is after all their prerogative.

Let’s see how it goes. I am hopeful. Meanwhile maybe Mini Lee should reconsider repealing those draconion internet laws to help me out a bit…besides, I still have five more bases to touch. Either that or this matter will just be left to those hollow men who regularly give closed door speeches in the school of Rajaratnam – and what do you all think they can possibly do to make the situation better?

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“They killed all my birds and those daughter fuckers think, they can just walk…..and it’s just another day in paradise. I will never forgive….I will never ever forget…..one day, we will square it off with those cheap pirates very nicely. You just wait and see. Just give me five or seven more years….I need to grow.

Fly my love…fly.

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“When my neighbor brings in a tractor to widen the river on his side. I am there. If the tractor starts at seven. I am there on the edge of my lands standing there like a hawk till the sun goes down. It doesn’t matter whether it rains or shines. Or even how hot or cold it is. I am there - I may not be able to see everything from the hill top. But my neighbor and his hands all see me standing there - that’s really all it takes to make sure that my neighbor doesn’t widen the river so much that I don’t get fast and clear water flowing on the river in my lands.

My friends, this is the art of war – it is very subtle. A little goes a long way. Now you understand why this nonsense of not interfering with the internal affairs of our neighbors is really just very handsome rubbish – the facts are brutal to me, what you do in your backyard may and in certain cases affect be affect me, so I have every right to know what you’re doing. I have every right to defend myself using whatever means possible to render you as transparent as possible.

I have too. If I dunno. Then there is no way I can even defend myself – it’s never personal with me, it’s business.

It’s really as simple as that to me. Don’t talk to me about size, this has nothing whatsoever to do with real scale and everything to do with attitude and projecting power to produce a good neighbor.

Because it is not true to say that your neighbor is always a jolly good fellow. You might as well go to a synagogue and tell everyone that Adolf Hitler was just a misunderstood postcard painter.

Good neighbors are good because they see a utility to be good.

If you’re new to business. Laminate this and carry it with you in your wallet.

Because that is all you will ever see in the business world. But I absolutely do not agree with the idea we should be price takers. Not even if we happen to be small.

I DO NOT AGREE WITH THAT IDEA!

Improvise, adapt and overcome – if you’re short, you better learn to cultivate the friendship of fine tailors and shoemakers to make yourself look taller – if you’re fat, stick to dark and sombre colors – if you’re ugly, develop a winning policy – and if you happen to small, then it doesn’t pay to think or behave small, that just get others to disrespect you! They will humor you, talk to you like a child and if you think small, they will despise and look down on you!

You can’t blame them for giving you a good kick in the ribs just for laughs – after all you bought the lie that we are price takers, which is really just a politically correct way of saying, we will always be holding the short end of the stick all the time.

Now can anyone here tell me, who is standing on hill in Sumatra and watching over our neighbors? Thank you very much….now you know why all our children and wifes are coughing their lungs out. We are truly taking the price like price takers lah…..how is the air? Is it better than a fart in a packed elevator?.

Now can some idiot here tell me please, how much again is a squadron of F-35′s? Not enough it seems for my asthmatic wife and boys who can’t go out to kick a ball it seems.

I know, I am not supposed to interfere, but I cannot help it – as through the years I have grown fond, very fond indeed of Singaporeans. My children and wife is there – that is why I must teach you how to fight this haze.

We will win!”

“I can understand how our government seems to believe they can get this resolved by the book. Issue a writ of summons. Haul them to court. Get a judgement and the haze is history.

Not so simple, I am afraid.

As I said, there is really one reliable way to put an end to the haze – that is to be as big as them and to have a presence wherever they go.

All this talk of naming and shaming, moral suasion etc etc will not make the slightest dent to what will have to transpire this year, next year and probably for the foreseeable future.

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“In my mind, it makes perfect sense as a small country to leverage on a juggernaut like Temasek to pursue plantations vigorously – especially oil palm. As in the foreseeable future, this will be the major cash crop that both Malaysia and Indonesia have earmarked for growth.

But I want to be clear, it is not only oil palm. As that sort of industry usually requires a large foot print. But it may also apply to how trans migration is affecting our neighbors and how they might be using lands that are proximate to us as well. So there is a whole entire dimension that I am talking about.

My point is, it’s never a clever idea to just buy into the bovine belief – you don’t interfere with the affairs of your neighbor – in my considered opinion, it makes far more sense to be kaypoh and project the image that you are not a kaypoh.

This is strategic…..strategic…….strategic.

Let us look at the facts. The demand for palm oil will not go down. Expect more land to be cleared and those that are not cleared will also been seasonally lighted up. As that’s the cheapest way to fertilize the land- demand for palm oil can only go up and up. Both India and China are becoming more affluent. Buying power has increased exponentially in those two major nodes, a broad based middle class is starting to emerge.

In my analysis, it was very shortsighted for the planners not to see all this coming – look here, I am not indulging in a spot of Schadenfreude! I am not knocking the government for the sake of knocking it! But I believe all this would have been quite easily foreseen to have allowed us to interdict earlier, providing we had a strategy, that would have allowed us to modulate the outcome, had Singapore bothered with the idea strategically acquiring equity in the regional palm oil business.

Instead Temasek prefers to buy kindergartens in Australia and GIC has a fetish for buying condominiums that no one wants to stay in, in the US – so you tell me, what is the strategic value of those acquisitions? How can they possibly produce a payout where you can say, this or that adds to the wealth of a nation?

I don’t understand if institutions such as GIC exist to protect and defend the economic well being and future of Singaporeans – why then not use some of that money to go into a business that has the highest impact on our economic well being – many people say the haze cost Singapore a couple of millions only a day.

But how can that be? The cost has to run into the billions – just think about the loss in productivity due to workers having to take medical leave, what about taxi drivers and people who turn the wheel of life by running around – how many people do you think will be strolling along in the soup of the haze – what about the medical cost of treating those who have lung ailments? What about tourism and everyone who depends on that industry?

So don’t insult my intelligence my telling me that the haze is just a glitch or a seasonal bummer like the occasional hail storm that dings your car or breaks a couple of windows – this is quite a serious thing. As every year it happens.

The way I see it, it makes no sense for firms such as GIC to go and plonk money in a Swiss bank when compared to the strategic payout of going into the plantations business in such a big way where they can even influence the direction and pace of where agribusiness should go.

I put this all down to bad planning and laziness. As really the haze problem has been around for 15 years and if you think about it – why are our ministers still running around like white laced virgins who are seeking justice as others have outraged their modesty? No wonder people are calling them children.

As this is what a child will do. He will not see a problem for what it is – the child simply cannot see it all.”

Miss opportunities

June 21, 2013

I reckon it is very sad that we are currently under measured response mode as a consequence of the government of the day rolling out laws to censor the Internet.

I really do not know how long, this will go on for. Five years? maybe 10?

If circumstances were different. I would definitely fly back to Singapore and probably see how I or anyone of us can put our brains together to solve this problem with the authorities.

This is after all not something that is new to me – neither is it alien – you could say I know it from the inside out very well.

As it is, we will just watch by and hope that it doesn’t get too rough.

That I think is a very big problem with us – we all have memories like elephants, it seems.

As a rule, we don’t forgive or forget very easily.

I happen to believe, we should try to be more forgetful at times. If nothing else, it will make us more friendly.

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“You must always be very careful when you disrespect others. As some people are bound to take it personally. And if they do that, then they hold a grudge against you.

That simply means you will never know when they will give you back some of the grief (with compounded interest), you once gave them.

You can say anything you wish. They are small and petty minded, vindictive, revengeful. Even label them as feral and petulant.

But they will still give you back all the grief you once gave them.

That is why I try NEVER to disrespect others, unless I really find that it’s impossible to avoid it.

As I want good karma.”

“My kids cannot go out and play football. My wife has problems, she’s asthmatic. Many of my friends in Singapore find it impossible to turn the wheel of life – as people are not going out and staying indoors instead. So business is slow for everyone from petty traders to taxi drivers.

The small man gets it on the chin again.

Gentlemen what is the cost of a squadron of F-35? How would that defense system be able to protect us from the haze? The short answer is it cannot.

Meanwhile politicians blow bubbles and talk about moral suasion and diplomacy. They speak as if these are “new,” they speak even as if they may actually work.

To me they are just rain dancing – in my mind, there is only one long term solution to this intractable problem. We need to put our own men on the ground in Indonesia. We need men who are strategically located to these plantations in Riau – for all intends and purposes, these men are oil palm farmers. But they have another role to play – they will infiltrate the village networks, tribal system, social networks and blend seamlessly into their way of life – the goal is to change the way, they do things over there.

If one is foolish. One will always leave it all the oil palm barons and authorities - the problem is those cheap pirates are all cowboys – so how assured are you? As I wouldn’t even trust them with my grandma’s dentures. As for the Indonesians, they are corrupt. I dont have time to beat around the bush! Besides there is no law and order in the country side.

Everything will turn on this one man who is sheriff, magistrate, benefactor and custodian of the wheel of life. As whether we will continue to enjoy clean air and clear skies will turn on just this one man.

Riau is not a big landmass. This man need not have as much land as the oil barons – all he needs is maybe 500 to 1,000 hectares, that should really be enough. A network of Singaporean farmers who are so well networked in the local community, that they even know the priyayi, right down to the tribal sakai’s, Basung and Bengkali. They speak the language and are well versed with the local customs – these men will be different from all other men.

Six of these men would be enough to get the job done at a reasonable cost that can even pay for itself – as these men have to run their own plantations – with one controller. That is al it takesl to get the job done in Indonesia.

Now gentlemen one more time please….if you will. How much does a squadron of F-35′s cost? How much do you think these six men are worth?

Everything.

Gentlemen, today you learn strategy.

If Mini Lee had six of these men and that one vital controller who can put all this together and make it hum. I have no doubt all his problems will come to an end very quickly.

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“I try to be as friendly as I can to my neighbors. But I believe very strongly,  it is naive to believe that it is possible not to be Kay poh (a busy body) at times. The reasons why I say this is, if anyone is going to cause you grief 9 out of 10, it will probably be your neighbors – that’s because you are closest to them and in many cases share the same air and even routes etc etc. So because of that commonality, there is bound to be friction at times. And to me, these friction needs to be always intelligently managed and not just set aside with some nonsense like, we dont interfere with anyone’s internal affairs.

You want proof that, that sort of scaddy cat bochap attitude doesnt work. Then just look right out of the window….its thick as soup there…so do you see that attitude is useless.

For me, even with my neighbors. I take an interest in their affairs. It is not uncommon for me to touch base with the village elders in neighboring lands on a regular basis - the reason why I do this is to send a very clear message to my neighbors that I see and hear everything – they know that I know and usually that is enough for them not to try any thing funny. As I am always prepared - that way, even before they make a move – I already know well before hand.

And without surprise. How is it possible for them to win?

So to me all this fairy tale about Asian way is all a crock of shit! The way I see it, if you don’t have equity on the ground, then it’s almost impossible to interdict and shape the outcome – but if there is even so much as a Singaporean presence – then, it is a very different story.”

Haze protection drink

June 21, 2013

Put a sprig of curry leaf into a pot with a glass of water and bring to boil. Allow to reduce to half a pot.

Cut one or two cucumber (do not skin). Put half glass boiled curry leaf into blender with cucumber.

Juice and drink when still warm.

Philosophy:

Curry leaf protects the eyes. Cucumber will moisten the lungs and remove toxins.

“It is unrealistic to believe that open burning can be wished away that easily – it cannot – the practice of slash and burns is so ingrained in traditional farming culture, it’s impossible to eradicate IMHO.

Don’t waste time trying to take over those hard points – makes far more sense to work around those constrains.

What needs to be done is to put an end to the moratorium of open burning – and for the stakeholders to come to terms with the brutal reality – open burning can never be eradicated.

Have you asked yourself why there are about 190 hot spots in Riau?

Planters are not stupid – they move in packs – they all know only, there is an eye in the sky with FLIR capabilities looking down at them – now you why they all burning furiously at the same time – it’s a rush to the finishing line – safety in numbers – they know, if they all burn at the same time – no one is going to get caught. For every hot spot, there are probably 10,000 smaller fires raging – it’s stupid to try to stop them from slash and burn.

Let me come directly to the point – the open burning moratorium imposed by ASEAN FIRST needs to be set aside. This stupid restriction is the cause of the haze as it compels many plantations to burn indiscriminately with no forward planning and to do it in the faster possible time, thus exacerbating the haze dramatically.

What needs to be done is to institute legalized open burning programs that is conducted on a staggered basis using scientific methods to control burn.

The Americans , Canadians, Russians and Australians have been doing this for yonks – do not worry, the wheel has not been reinvented again – by the way, you can also buy my modular UAV kits to donate to the Indonesians – I am sure, I can get a group of gamers to work 24/7 to come with a software that even ties up with the meteorological institute.

You see if open burning is legalized, ONLY then can this intractable problem be managed – logic is on my side, after all, the kemarau (dry season) last 3 months – why is there even a need for everyone to burn at the same time? And to do it at full throttle using cheap pirates and carpetbaggers.

IMHO. This is the cause of the haze. A failure to understand a problem for what it is…..

This is the cause of the haze. All this talk about boycotting, naming and shaming is all childish.

In summary, it is only when open burning is legalized can professionals be brought in to manage this problem by staggering and coordinating controlled burning with the meteorological dept – with this method it is even possible to reduce it all to a probabilistic science where burning can only be conducted during favorable wind conditions i.e when the winds blow South away from Singapore and Malaysia.

I must be clear, this is not the gold standard – it is, the second best solution. In my view it is a very serious omission on the part of ASEAN not to even seriously consider this method of controlling the haze after 15 abject years of failing to nail this perennial problem – to me this is a form of insanity.

Let me give you all an inside tip – there are many in the palm oil business who have suggested this method of forest management – but since it is so difficult for most neighboring countries outside Indonesia to buy into the idea of condoning open burning, it is very unlikely that this new radical method of managing open burning will ever see the day of light.

If this can be done however. I have calculated the haze will only be very nominal to non existent – as at any one time, the number and foot print of the hot spots can be intelligently controlled in relation to wind predictive software.

This conversation did not take place, I did not say all this. I was never even here.”

“I can very well understand quick gun Shanmugams frustrations – it seems this haze problem is not an easy problem to get on top of. The way I see it, trying to get the Indonesian authorities to put an end to open burning is as effective as trying to plough the sea.

ASEAN is no good either. As everyone is so careful to come across as Mr Nice guy that nothing can come out of it in the form of a solution.

Let me speak frankly corruption is a problem in the Indonesian archipelago. I will leave the rest to your imagination. Besides open burning has been practiced for mellinia – it’s really a way of life that has permeated traditional farming culture – every season during the Kemarau (dry spell), it’s very natural to slash and burn to nourish the soil before replanting.

The only way to solve this problem is to get China and India to put pressure of Indonesia – as these are the primary consumers for crude palm oil.

Concurrent this strategy should be complimented by having a table talk with Robert Kwuok, the great Arowana.

You see it is really very simple, planters are by nature a rebellious lot – they are people who basically do what they like to do regardless of what governments think, say and do – but if they see that the leader of pack is not burning….then even they will follow the leader.

I did not say this. I was not here. This conversation never took place.”

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“Do you know who I blame for this haze? I put the blame on Philip Yeo, the great assassin of agriculture in Singapore. When this fool of fools proclaimed like Pharoah, “there is no such thing as agriculture in Sngapore.”

That was the day the haze was born. As if we still had agriculture, it would be our boys over there in Sumatra instead of those cheap pirates and carpetbaggers – and if it was our boys there, they would NEVER burn. As they know that it will hurt the lungs and eyes of their families and loved ones back home.

I see the world in that simplistic fairytale sense – I see the strategic value for us to pursue agriculture in perhaps the same way a defense analyst would go about the business of purchasing 20 tanks or one submarine – it’s strategic, which is really just another way of saying that if you control that one bridge, then it would allow you do so many things to influence, interdict and in cases even use as a bargaining chip – to me agriculture is not a man whose just digging a hole – it’s cutting edge science, developing new strains of crops, genetic engineering and developing sustainment means to feed the world.

The reason why I see it that way is, if you’re a small country, then it’s not true to say there is NO agriculture – that is not the way sane people go about framing sensible questions to produce meaningful answers – a better way to frame it is in the rhetorical i.e since we are so small and do not have land – we should try to control the know how of farming – do that and you have a stake in your neighbors backyard and that will allow you to influence events – besides, you always need something to hold the nuts of your bigger neighbors.

Be really good at one thing and you will control many things.

Portugal is a very small country. But they have great maritime maps and that allowed them to insert themselves strategically into 18th century politics of the spice wars.

One reality, what your neighbors will always affect you. Even, if they sneeze or fart – it will affect you more, it’s a Laurel and hardy thing, the dynamics of being small – if 30 years ago someone had seen the strategic value of agriculture. If that person had the imagination to look at a map of South East Asia and say to himself, there’s a hell of a lot of virgin real estate around us. Maybe we should put ourselves somewhere in this lush greenery, just in case – maybe we should start a rice institute – research ways to make airplanes fly on palm oil – send men to the field to send home to our universities – then I think, we can very easily put an end to this haze business.

But as it is, we had atomic bomb, there is no agriculture in Singapore. So everyone packs their bags and go back home – we stay small forever – we leave it all to our neighbors. We say this is the good and right way. As we don’t want to be seen as imperialistic. So we end up with the haze.

A thing can be strategic. Everything can turn on the caprice and vagaries of that one thing.

As the skill of arms necessary to control a thing means agriculture will always be the wonder weapon for a small country. Make sense right. Because no land. Go to other people’s land lah – along with the power to splice a cell and change a red tulip into blue. The capacity to send men deep into the jungle without complaining about mosquitoes.

If these things are all there. All our problems will melt away like lemon drops.

Tomorrow will be a clear and beautiful day.

OK, that’s all in the past. What do you do now?”

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