Consider this as only a prelude of how this new method of war will unfold with the advent of OBOR…the key alloys to strengthen steel are as follows – nickel, chromium, molybdenum, and vanadium. Highest in the list of demand for the production of steel is Chromium. This in part would seem at first to have something to do with its apparent rarity and perhaps how the Western Hemisphere continue to enjoy monopolies of this rare metal from S.Africa – only four countries on this planet have reserves of Chromium, but the real constraint seems to be accessibility especially in Afghanistan and the Voskhod mine in the north-west of Kazakhstan. They’re land locked and too far from mercantile routes. Voskhod I imagine must be strategic to China not only for Chromium, but perhaps also for uranium to fuel its nuclear plants – it’s the closest, but distance can be deceptive when one considers Kazakhstan has terrible roads and even less of anything resembling a modern rail network – chromium reserves in Kazakhstan are estimated to have reserves of 27.1 million tonnes of ore grading 48.5% chromium. The 27.1 million tonnes of ore contains 13.1 million tonnes of chromium metal. Much less purity per pound when compared to S.African extraction methods….but it will have to do for China. As without Chromium to glaze jet engines they would lack the durability for sustained flight…marine grade steel would decay into uselessness in days and it is quite stupid to talk about heavy industries without Chromium….it’s like talking about baking fruit cakes without ever once mentioning raisins.

OBOR plans to run thru not only Kazakhstan but directly into the mining heartland.

The same equation of demand, rarity and accessibility seems to go for a whole range of materials in this world as well…..Let’s talk about phosphorus. what about it – I hear there is a mine in Togo deep in Africa….but mining is one thing transporting it is yet another. Apart from being component of the nucleotides essential to life, Phosphorus forms the basis of NPK (Nitrogen-Phosphorus-Potassium) fertilizers which forms the essential building blocks of modern high-intensity agriculture, and incidentally the only means by which to feed the world. And it’s running out like all materials….

Today, the only economically viable sources of phosphate are phosphate rocks, which are limited and depletable. Just how much Phosphorus remains is a contentious question, but conservative estimates put depletion of exploitable reserves within 200 years. Adding a bite to this already sad story of material demand and depletion is the fact most of the planet’s reserves of phosphate rocks are controlled by a handful of nations. Morocco alone controls an estimated 77% of global reserves….but again like Togo mining it is one thing….transporting it to market is quite another.

Under these conditions, it is quite easy to imagine both Chromium and phosphorous may one day in the not too distant future be as valuable and fought-over commodity as oil is today.

This considered, it is a dark irony is it not that OBOR runs thru these countries…yes the war of the future will be material based…their location will be new choker points….the nation that controls these routes will win.

A new breed of Singaporean men would need to be sent to the outer reaches of the known world where the new land and maritime routes of OBOR run to gather information. They need to be able to identify the most suitable parcels of land that has the highest economic growth potential – all this needs to be done surreptitiously in absolute secrecy so as to not to alert the competition.

Do it quietly…

A whole range of skills will be required by these new breed of civil servants cum frontier men. They have to be adept in operating with minimal supervision, living and working for extended periods in hostile terrain for months and possibly years faraway from home. Some may not even be able return to see their families for decades as they have to be embedded so deeply within the folds of faraway communities where OBOR will canal thru.

These men will responsible for relaying back vital information. They will be the pathfinders that will supply vital intelligence to the planners back home to ensure that Singapore remains solidly economically connected to the world so that she will not be marooned in oblivion.

Just because no one invites you to a party doesn’t mean you don’t have a right to gate crash.

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‘When one is born to autism. One rapidly comes to terms with the awful reality, there can be no such thing as a level playing field – it doesn’t exist, not for my kind at least. As since everyone thinks you are a dim wit, they will take a bite out of you. I don’t resent these people – it’s just the way of the world.

So in the moment of my youth I became acutely aware that if there’s such a thing as a level playing field – then it would have to be something that I would have to fashion with the power of my own hands.

As a consequence I dedicated myself to the study of war even at an age when most boys were content to read only comics – by the period when I had entered secondary school – I had read Sun Tzu’s art of war, Tacticus, Von Clausewitz and virtually every classical treatise on war. By form five, I knew every battle stretching all the way back to the Napoleanic period by heart. At that time I joined a D&D war gaming society in University despite still being only a secondary student. Though I was still a boy. I never lost a single battle. On virtually every single game I accomplished total and complete victory, often against numerically superior odds. So uncanny was ability that I was even frequently asked to demonstrate my prowess with brides of bicycles and other such gifts before men who were much older than I to play out various war games to which I delighted them no end by being able to recount with diabolical precision every detail of the battle right down to minute – I knew the placement of every single artillery piece, platoon etc etc etc.

But enough of blowing my own trumpet. I did all this as I realised that the notion of the level playing field would always be something that would always be denied to me. There was a tragic finality to my realisation that eventually became a signature trade mark of my existence – I would always be the man who could see intricate plans within plans when all others could only see what was before them – to my understanding of the known world…nothing was ever so straightforward as to present itself simply as what it was…not even when that was all it seemed to rediate. In my understanding of the known world that could only be a form of deception like a snake that pretends to play dead only to lull its prey into a false sense of security only to suddenly spring to life and strike…..everything in this world was infused with the quality of intrigue and the mystery of hidden designs and I would see it all before me in marvellous completion.

let us cut to the chase in the name of brevity – two things are jugular to secure a decisive victory. The first is good intelligence. Accurate and reliable first class data is vital for sound planning to ensure designs past from the realm of theory to reality seamlessly.

Good intelligence makes possible the art of scaling opposition precisely and the allocation of resources to annul a threat effectively with the least waste to men and materiale.

The second is the strategic importance of surprise. Without surprise there can be no decisive victory.

With these twin heads of arcanum concerning war – even should you face extraordinary opposition from a foe that is numerically superior who is out to deny you at every turn and opportunity – one can still win or least draw and even should you lose, the heavy losses inflicted would only allow the victor to seize the chimeria of a Phyric victory….but no matter outcome this is the closest that you will ever come to a level playing field.

Life cannot be so simple where if others want to you to die….you just die.’

Food security is an on-going and pressing concern for China; the country has 20 percent of the global population yet only five percent of its arable land is fit for cultivation. Russia, long a massive agricultural giant in the Soviet era, is now starting to recover this position and is experiencing a resurgence in agricultural development as it seeks to diversify its economy. Russia, in contrast, has about two percent of the global population and 13 percent of globally available arable land. Put simply, China needs Russian agricultural exports. The Russia-China agricultural space is an obvious match and investment opportunity, and especially so given the US and EU sanctions placed on the country. This also impacts on new Agro technologies. China is sourcing these from Russia and Asia, not the West. This means that two of China’s key critical needs are increasingly being serviced via Moscow.

This can only mean China will need to open up more arable land. By my estimation at least two hundred million additional hectares…..but where does such a land mass exist?

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‘Listen to me very carefully. As I am sharing with all of you a very exciting future. Where rail lines run….and it doesn’t really matter where it is. The land will be levelled flat a pancake…ideal land for mechanized farming, swamps will be drained and mountains will be tamed due the prodigious need for granite. There will also be electricity. Definitely water and possibly even gas and petroleum pipelines. It makes perfect sense to cluster all these resource supply lines together to aid ease of servicibility.

In all probability the desert will be rolled right back and reclaimed as prime arable farming land as rail lines can transport rich alluvial soil cheaply and in vast quantities from the fertile river basins in the coastal regions to rehabilitate dead and useless soil deep in the interior. This will revivify the TOP soil and make possible farming on a large and commercial scale that the world has never ever seen before.

Many things will be built along this railway line as well where nothing currently features except maybe scorpions and snakes. The river will tamed with dams to generate hydro electricity, vast man made lakes will feature as well with power stations and wind farms, whole entire communities will rise up from the barren earth, man will begin to move inland and transmigration will reverse for the very first time in human history. It will not go from east to west or from the interior to the coast….the tide will reverse. The entire geoeconomics of food production will likely undergo a transformational revolution that is likely to shake the world. It will be so big that even the global weather pattern will likely go thru a man made shift….magnetic north will shift at least a full degree…the earths axis may even experience a slight wobble due to this unprecedented terraforming by humans instead of nature – in this new world. I will grow pineapples on both sides where this railway track runs. Not any pineapples, but the sweet, succulent and juicy variety that the great Singapore planter kapitan Nee Soon once grew. I will plant them by the millions…I will plant so far and wide that I can even make out the slight curvature of the earth at the corners of its extremities when I stand at one corner of my lands….I will plant so many pineapples that you can either walk north, east, west or south for days and as far as The Eye can see…they will just be pineapples. It will be farming on a scale that has never been seen before….the size…the geography it’s so humungously large it would be impossible for one to even comprehend let alone imagine.

Beside this railway line I will build a simple house with just two rooms like the one I currently reside in with a corridor kitchenette. I will rear birds on the upper floors, yellow fitches I reckon – as I like to hear them sing in the early morn. I will also breed fierce Doberman guard dogs to keep me company. And keep a few chickens for eggs and a cow for fresh milk. I may even get a nice round woman who doesn’t talk too much and likes to bake crumbly pineapple pies all day to share my life in this dream world. Next to this house I will have an airfield for crop dusting and a hangar to keep my Hondajet. Beside it there will be a processing plant and cannery to tin my pineapples. And just around it a small village where the workers will be housed. I will build a school, a community center, a hospital etc etc.

In the evenings when the sun goes down. I will install myself on a rocking chair and nurse a No.4 montecristo with a dog to my side and just watch the train go by where there was once just the nothingness of barren land….I have great dreams.’

Q: Chee Hong Tat recently blasted critics who suggest that Singapore should align more closely with China so it would stop investing in competitive projects in neighbouring countries are drawing “a simplistic and flawed conclusion”, Mr Chee pointed out that Beijing is making investments in the region to enhance its connectivity and energy security, and that these decisions are based on China’s own national interests. What is your take on that?

A: I don’t think anyone is so simplistic and flawed in their appraisal concerning China’s position that they think just because Singapore is aligned with China. The latter will not invest in other neighbouring countries. Most people are actually quite well read in my opinion. In my opinion most people do appreciate China’s current and future energy needs along with how it’s necessary for her to augment her security position.

I think it’s only very natural for Singaporeans and stakeholders to want to see a less antagonistic relationship between China and Singapore. They would like to see a PM that is less cavalier in his approach towards China. When a relationship that used to based on mutual respect sours it is always a source of profound sadness and anxiety, especially when China is so influential and powerful.

Q: Do you think Chee Hong Tat is right when he says there are certain elements trying to rattle Singaporeans?

A: The people who are actually rattling Singaporeans day and night are not the commentators. They do not have so much power – let us be realistic and not go over the top – in my opinion, it’s the politicians who are responsible for creating this state of tension and anxiety. They should take responsibility instead of trying to deflect it to some other sinister malevolent force that is imagined. That is not how mature and responsible people manage public anxiety.

Had they (the Politicians) dedicated themselves professionally to the task – they would have scaled the risk in a much more studied and accurate manner thereby preserving status quo. They might even have adopted a less bellicose and confrontational position towards China’s claim of the south China seas – if they had done that and only that I think the relationship between Singapore and China would be better and stronger today – then I think people would be less rattled.

But instead they put all on their chips on the US and behaved like happy go lucky gamblers who never saw the wisdom of hedging their bets. And they got cleaned out. Now they are walking around with their gulis dangling for all to see – of course people can only be rattled. As it’s not a very pleasant sight.

Q: Chee Hong Tat says the public should read reliable reports on China Singapore relations. What is your opinion.

A: I agree with her.

Q: By the way it’s a he.

A: As I said. I agree completely with her. But the problem as I see it is none of the state owned media and their other apparatus of mass assimilation seem very intrested to write truthfully about how bad China and Singapore relations actually are. That is the main source of anxiety. Instead they seem to keep insisting on projecting a all is well and happy families image between China and Singapore. The problem is when other media services outside Singapore forward a completely different story from what is so often broadcasted in Singapore, then people can only be very confused and possibly rattled. As there is a big dissonance between truth and reality.

Had the people who are in charge of the media being less complacent and woke up earlier instead of being so lazy all the time and dedicate themselves to accurate reportage – maybe people will get less rattled.

So I agree with her. People should read only reliable news concerning Singapore and China relationships. The problem is none of this exist in Singapore.

Q: Chee Hong Tat mentioned even if Singapore had aligned with China. Singapore is unlikely to benefit. What is your take?

A: She is not God. Only God can make that sort of prediction concerning the future. However she is entitled to her opinion. So I would treat what she has to say as purely rhetorical because she didn’t bother to supply any reasoned arguments to support her position. What else do you expect me to say. I am not an ESP expert. I cannot read minds.

Besides she should know that not all countries are aligned with China. But that doesn’t mean they do not continue to enjoy warm, cordial and from time to time a constructive relationship with China.

India, Japan and to some extent S.Korea are not aligned with China. But they still work and cooperate with China.

Q: What do you think is the best way to stop people from getting rattled in Singapore?

A: I think whenever you get a sheep to do a foxes job…it is very hard not to get many rattled. As they have a consistent record of never successfully meeting expectations.

In my opinion. Professional and serious no nonsense diplomats like George Yeo need to come back into the fold and bring his wealth of experience in diplomacy to bear on this impasse. I believe this will go a long way to restore public confidence. As it is, many people will be rattling day and night.

Q: What is your advise to Chee Hong Tat?

A: I don’t know that I am in a position to give advise to anyone. I am just a simple farmer. I am really not qualified for anything else except shoveling shit to fertilize trees. But let us assume that I can give good advise and it will simply be this.

Don’t adopt a scolding tone. Be thoughtful, considerate and do try to provide relief. Try to understand that many Singaporeans and stakeholders have a genuine vested interest in the well being of Singapore. It’s very natural for them to feel nervous when relations between China and Singapore seems to be at an all time low.

If she cannot understand, she should remain quiet. But she should never make people already more rattled than they already are.

Hot nights

May 26, 2017

Q: You have theorized there is a distinct possibility that Trump may decide to work with Xi, thereby further maginalizing Singapore from opportunities for economic growth – how plausible is that scenario and why?

A: I believe it’s much more than what you have described – a theoretical possibility. As what continues to surprise me no end is how so very few scholars and analyst have noted – how much both Trump and Xi resembled each other in terms of their goals and aspirations for their respective countries.

To me it’s a one to one match.

Both leaders see fit to deploy the rhetoric of greatness harking back to a bygone golden age to describe their overarching goals. In the case of Trump this is expressed in terms, ‘make America great again.’

In the case of Xi it is the ‘China dream.’

But if we press the pause button and ask what are these two leaders really trying to communicate with their respective visions along with what their mission may look like.

It really boils down to two things. The first is increasing their geo political sphere of influence in the world. The second is primarily economic primacy. In the case of America – when Trump says make America great again – what this entails is bringing back outsourced jobs, manufacturing and recreating the prosperous country America used to be.

The “China Dream” when you strip off the romance of Marco Polo is also very much primarily focused on both the geopolitical and economic as well. As the main thrust is not premised on fairytales but rather it relates specifically to China’s need to meet very specific economic waypoints, namely the “Two Centennial Goals” of doubling China’s 2010 per capita GDP by 2021 along with creating a “prosperous” nation that “reaches the level of moderately developed countries” by 2049.

Q: Do you see the military component of both leaders aspirations coming into conflict to such an extent where it retards economic cooperation?

A: Both grand ideas would naturally have to be complemented with much more muscular military elements to what currently exist in their inventory of skill of arms.

China needs a carrier doctrine. America needs more staging bases in the Pacific and possibly the Indian Ocean. So on paper it definitely looks like both superpowers are dedicating themselves to a classical Richardson arms race that suggest the real possibility of conflict.

Having said all that. You need to understand the chronology of how these calculations are made – that’s to say their economic goals namely to create a stable, harmonious and predictable theatre is designed to facilitate trade and commerce. So I see this arms race as complimentary to their economic aspirations.

When Trump’s says he wants a stronger U.S. military what he is actually saying is I want America to be economically great as well. Xi’s China Dream in my opinion is similar and much more direct and specific – as it encapsulates clear military designs on both land and sea. The latter which is seldom ever discussed is the maritime Silk Road that obliquely requires the Chinese to project into both the SCS and the Indian Ocean.

But you must understand these military designs are not stand alones – they are designed to compliment their geoeconomic assets. In the case of China she is pouring billions into deep water ports in the Indian Ocean from Djibouti to Gawar and the Sandonia and possibly next Lanka. But these are really designs to augment the vulnerabilities of the choke points on those trade routes.

So my point is just because you have two countries engaged in an arms race does not necessarily mean they are going to war. To my understanding that is not how the calculations are made. As it can very well be a reaffirmation that both countries are very serious about trade as well.

Q: Do you think Chinese designs will necessarily bring her in direct conflict with the US?

A: That’s a very good question. But I think whatever answer emerges has to be framed against the background of many of the similarities in goals that the US currently shares with China.

The problem with waging war is it’s quite a lousy way to make America great again.

Q: How credible is this idea that since both countries share a common set of goals this may actually be a bedrock to build deeper U.S.-China relationship?

A: Both Trump and Xi can leverage on each other’s strengths and global agenda to get roughly what they want – to make America great again, jobs and opportunities are needed. For China to realise her dream, the idea of the pivot needs to be junked along with how American policymakers have traditionally deployed realpolitik to manage conflict.

What many fail to recognise is there is already massive US industrial capacity invested within China – and many of these multinationals need the Chinese market to create exactly the conditions to make America great again.

This is important as we are not talking about two countries that don’t already have an active and healthy balance of trade between each other. So I see the incentive to build on these relationship rather than starting on a new slate.

My point is contrary to what is so often depicted by the media – there is already a lot of cooperation at the level of trade and commerce between China and America and during the last Trump and Xi meeting both parties have agreed to a one-hundred-day review of bilateral-trade policy to find areas where they can work further together. I think OBOR opens up many apertures of opportunities for American firms especially in engineering consultancy and specialised engineering services that China still desperately lacks and this would all go the distance to bridge the perennial trade deficit between the US and China.

Q: What does China stand to get from all this cooperation?

A: Firstly it would blunt the motivation that accounts for the TPP. Secondly on a monetary side – it would allow China to create a sustainable mechanism to reduce their trade deficit with the US. This would allow China to curb inflation and positively influence the Chinese money supply which is something that their central banks have been having a lot of trouble doing. Thirdly, since both China and the US are aligned economically, this would go a long way to end hostilities between them since the motivation to cooperate is higher than fighting. Fourthly, and this I might add is the most important tangible plus point for China. I see US China collaboration as the only means for Xi to wean many inefficient state owned enterprises (SOE) from protectionist measures that in my opinion can no longer be staved off, if China is to fulfil its fourth generation industrial revolution.

Q: Fourth level industrial revolution? What has this got to do with inefficiently run state owned enterprises?

A: The description Fourth level industrial revolution is the way by which we describe the next challenge of the Chinese economy – it is a term that refers specifically to our own history known as the Foundation – where we reached a point in our virtual economy where we had to make the transition from just copying stuff to actually synthesizing new products and services by leveraging specifically on intellectual capital.

China has reached that economic maturity tipping point – it can no longer continue to rely on its ultra low cost to further carve out competitive advantage as other cheaper cost centers in the world are likely to spring up a she needs to make the industrial and technological jump.

And one of the main hindrances that prevents her from making this jump is their SOE’s. As when we speak about over capacity in the context of China – it’s really quite a fuzzy term that simply denotes surplus in conversion capacity i.e you have more steel mills than what the market actually needs. But no one really bothers to ask. Not even Western economist – how did China’s industrial production become so loopy in the first place. What really accounts for this lack of syncrhonization between industrial supply and market demand?

For me I think it’s very important to go further and ask, what does over capacity in the Chinese context really mean? Because it is quite unique and particular to only China and the failure of western analyst to drill deeper into this area has been one of the reasons why they consistently fail to understand the push and pull forces that are responsible for the Chinese leadership doing what they do.

One major reason has to do with the vested power of these state owned oligarchs like the PLA – that is not only riven with corruption, but since they wield so much regional influence by virtue of their sheer size and support base they can even resist change.

This is a very big problem for China. That’s why if you go to China you find whole complete cities like ten Sengkang’s being built and it’s a ghost town. Or antiquated steel mills that are still churning out millions of tons of pig iron that’s really only good for making skillets. Because they don’t meet any known engineering specifications or benchmarks. The larger SOEs maintain monopolies over key sectors of the economy (energy, mining, infrastructure) and smaller SOEs are characterised by low productivity and high debt levels. As I see it many of the inefficiencies stem from the fact that the interests controlling SOE are not necessarily aligned with those of the wider economy or society. In some of time honoured sectors such a coal mining – it’s not even about business per se and has more to do with advancing the Maoist idea communism is a way of life hence everyone in the village gets employed even should they run into debt every year.

Many of these state owned enterprises are so monstrously huge they can even be considered a country within a country.

Q: How did these SOE’s become so big as to present a real and present danger to the Chinese economy?

A: It’s a legacy of soviet industrial planning what’s called regional industrial specialisation – the idea is every province is designated a field of industrial competence. So if you go to Shenyang for example. You find all the kids play only with toy jets. And the only vocation that is ever taught in universities is aeronautical engineering as since all the factories build planes or supply parts to the aerospace industry – that’s the way to go. Go to another province and all the kids play with only trains. As all the factories there all build trains and locomotive related parts and componentry and ditto.

What you need to understand is these SOE’s are based in the provinces – they’re very far from central government, so that accounts for why many have had the autonomy to developed their own power base along with their own unique pathways of perpetuating their own interest even if it comes at the cost of creating unhealthy monopolies or puts them in direct collision course with modern free market practices.

The problem as I see it is these SOE’s are just not enterprises in the true sense, but since they derive a political power base in the provinces they are also the de facto power behind the curtain of the communist party. As they have the power to vote and in some cases even veto central government.

Q: How has previous Chinese leaders reconciled this hubris of the SOE’s with modern free market practices?

A: The short answer is no Chinese leader since Deng to present date Xi has been able to exert any significant influence in the form of real change or for that matter reform. Except maybe begging them to merge or consolidate thru forced acquisitions in an attempt to buy their debts from time to time.

These SOE’s are a bit like our own order of purple or Templar knights or imperial household eunuchs. They are very powerful. They can even resist all attempts at change. And this accounts for what I believe to be the primary motivation behind OBOR.

As what Xi is saying to the SOE’s is simply this – ‘I cannot institute reforms for change….no premier in China can….but I know the world can change you all….so go forth!’

Q: Do you really believe that is the primary motivation behind OBOR?

A: I think if it so structured in that way. Neither you, I or anyone can possibly believe that could possibly be the primary motivation behind OBOR. But when one ask the question how does one go about modernising the communist party? Then that could well possibly be the primary motivation behind OBOR simply because the destiny of the communist party is so enmeshed with the SOE’s. One could even say the SOE’s is a microcosm or maybe a diorama of the communist party. They are really one of the same reality. Both are riven with the endless intrigues of power and politics. Both continue to enjoy a monopoly and both are also inexorably headed to doom if they cannot find the impetus to effect change from within.

Within the communist party of China there is a mechanism of self destruction….as this whole idea of trying to fuse capitalism with communism is a wholly unnatural alliance. It’s a bit like trying to retrofit a Tang Dynasty hutong with modern ameneties. Sure in the beginning some level of happiness thru forced accommodation can be accomplished like China’s hubris of one country, two systems to accommodate Hong Kong. But as China’s economy becomes more interowoven with the world’s economy. At some point – all attempts at accommodation can only produce more problems than solutions.

This is a subject that is intensely debated within the inner circle in China. Can China continue to perpetuate itself coherently in the political and economic sphere while holding steadfastly to a bullocart of the communism?

You don’t hear about such talk. Because in China it’s treason.

But the fact that people do feel the need to discuss these topics should not come as a surprise. Not at all – as China has reached a point of economic maturity where for it to migrate further up the value chain, it has to be able to manage change within effectively. And when we speak about change in the context of communist party we are also speaking about changing the SOE’s as well – it’s one of the same reality – this goes beyond just getting the SOE’s to talk to each other from different localities to assess their strengths and weaknesses honestly, cooperate, share and consolidate economic and social planning and resources there has to be a means to purge the old before a new order can be put in place.

This may sound like something out of management 101. But it is not something that comes naturally to either the communist party or SOE’s in China.

But as OBOR compels them to go into the wider world – they would ultimately be forced into a leaner shape by mercantile realities such as the need to abide by intellectual property guidelines, transparency in reportage of their financial dealings to shareholders along with learning the ropes of how to do business the worlds way rather than holding on to their old way of doing things.

This I feel is where America can come in to add considerable value to modernising and even streamlining many of these SOE’s – weaning them from protectionism and forcing them to work under enhanced intellectual property laws would dramatically assist many of SOE’s in transitioning to a consumption and service-based market needed for stable economic growth.

Q: What do you think the chances of America coming into OBOR in a big way stands at – as you have so described?

A: For the moment OBOR is still very much a picture painted in bold strokes – it’s just a sketch. And I don’t think it’s wise to speculate too much on the specifics. But even as it is I can tell you with a high level of certainty it can definitely benefit from both US corporate and industrial inputs. There are many undertakings within the scope of OBOR which are simply too complicated for China to do – I mean it’s like opening up the entire prairies all over again. No one just decides to draw a line on a map circa 1900 style any longer, environmental assessment has to be conducted, remote sensing, feasibility studies and the odd mountain may have to be moved.

I see all this as a great source of employment and opportunities for American firms.

I think as the OBOR picture starts to get more defined then you will see the level of enthusiasm getting much higher on the American side.

Q: Do you think that the US will abandon the TPP even if they stand to benefit economically from OBOR?

A: Go right back to the question I posed in the beginning – how does one go about making America great again? To me what does it matter if it is OBOR or the TPP that can fulfil that imperative. Let me put it another way, black cat or white, does it really matter at all if either can catch mice?

Being autistic just means I feel the need to do some things that most ‘normal’ people never ever feel the need to do. For example, I like to talk to myself whenever I am driving. I find it very comforting to hear the sound of my own voice whenever I am driving. It helps me to stay focussed and alert on the road whenever I drive….to hear my own voice.

Before the invention of the cellular mobile phone – if I did just that, men with no necks would pack me off to somewhere never to be seen again….as everyone would think that I am mad.

But these days most people just think I am having a really animated hands free conversation. They all think I am multi tasking. I am very busy cutting deals.

God bless technology.

Herbivore man

May 24, 2017

I am always alone. Even on those rare occasions when I make an effort to socialise – I am always alone. Not long ago when I found myself in the company of some women who kept pestering me why is it I am always alone….I told them that I’ve decided to be a herbivore man.

I finally have an excuse to be alone…..I am a herbivore man…as I prefer to eat grass.

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‘I think if I call myself a herbivore person…even if I am not. Most people will not have any problem believing me….as I am always alone.’

Rain

May 24, 2017

I fertilized my lands on the 15-5-17, some nine days ago. After that I was seized by a moment of self doubt as I believed I may have been a tad too rash to have done so, so close to the advent of the dry season. Fortunately since then we had four rainy spells – it wasn’t much but it’s enough for the fertilizer to nourish the trees….it was a big risk.

But luckily it paid of.

I don’t think I want to ever cut it so thin again……next time round.

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‘Whenever people ask me why I seem to do so well in farming. Usually I tell them I am just lucky. Most people think that’s just humility – but I don’t see it that way at all. As I’ve always believed luck plays a big role when things go well.

The good luck to be born to loving, supportive and responsible parents who always encourage one to greater heights, the good luck to met caring friends who genuinely take an interest in your well being and happiness (this is especially important when one is autistic), the good luck to come across kindred spirits who are always prepared to cut you slack and see only the good in you instead of always finding fault and beating you up all the time. The good luck in being able to make it thru to the other side safely despite the many hazards and pitfalls of this world.

Recognising that luck plays a big role in one’s success is very important as not only is it a very humbling it’s also the most reliable way to give one a reality check and not getting too big headed.

But whenever one comes across those who may still be struggling or trying to make ends meet – it serves as a valuable reminder not to judge them arbitrarily, callously or harshly – as maybe they didn’t enjoy the good luck that should have come their way…..Recognising the importance of good luck and what a preponderant role it plays in one life is the first step to remaining sensibly grounded.

As success can often be a hall of mirrors and all too often one can very easily mythologized one’s success to a point where one becomes blind to realities of this world – when this happens a man becomes not only arrogant, but he is also a menace of to mankind. ‘

Mahathir believes he is God. That is why he thinks he can do anything he wants…that is also the reason why every problem that Malaysia currently confronts in the social economic sphere can be traced right back to his tenure as PM of Malaysia. You name it, Mahathir spawned it everything from cronyism and keeping his lackey’s fat to chronic corruption, brain drain, race based politics, to why so many Malaysians continue to suffer from a third world education system.

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‘It’s very hard for good and decent people to rise in Malaysian politics – because the moment they sign up for the race their name gets dragged in the mud with all sorts of fabrications, half truths and in many cases malicious lies.

The funny thing about Malaysian politics is this method of bringing down a person actually works!

You look at Rosmah Mansor, the PM’s wife. She works with disadvantaged children to at least a hundred other noble charitable causes. But does it ever get highlighted? No! Instead every single day Rosmah is subjected to what I can only accurately describe as an industrial barrage of lies, rumors and half truths that are all designed to undermine her dignity and paint an undesirable image.

What can she do? Nothing….absolutely nothing…As even if she keeps a dignified silence it is interpreted as weakness or worse still acceptance bordering on tacit agreement….and that sort of working conditions can only do a lot to sap one of confidence, self esteem and everything good about a person. That is why Rosmah Mansor these days has began to retreat away from public life. She is less enthusiastic about her role as the PM’s Wife and who can blame her!

Because every time she does or says something – ini tak betul…itu Salah…under those acidic conditions even Gandhi, Mandela, Florence nightingale, Joan of arc or Mother Teresa will matilah…they will also put their hands up and pengsan and be demoralised etc etc that is the tap root of everything that is so wrong about Malaysian politics.

The political climate is so atrocious – now the only game in town is the biggest liar wins!

Lies, half truths and personal attacks have become the main apparatus of shifting public opinion and NOT reasoned, well argued and competently researched arguments as to how to make Malaysia a better place where every Malaysian can take pride in the idea of home.

That is why the Rakyat is systematically dumbed down by this steady diet of gutter politics into just a unthinking mob where they can be easily manipulated by diabolically manipulative puppet masters such as Mahathir and his power crazed clique
….and that is also the very reason why good, capable and decent Malaysians never ever want to volunteer for public service.

Lama lama jadi kubur lah!

When I next visit the capital of Malaysia KL. I will wear my No.1 Zegna bush jacket and pay Rosmah Mansor a visit. I will bring freshly picked wild flowers from the Kampung and when I present it to the lady, it will bring a sweet smile to her face.

As for Mamak & his gang. You watch and see on Election Day – we will pull the rug under his feet. On that day he will pull on all the levers of power in the internet and suddenly he will find to his horror it’s all connected to giant nothing…..I am not a nobody in the internet. I have been here when it was just a baby. I know every trap door, secret passage and every community to get things done and a lot of people owe me favors that I can easily call my IOU’s on….I know what can be accomplished….most importantly, I’ve seen enough of what Mahathirism is all about…enough is enough lah!

Tak Mahu lah!

The Singaporean way of life MUST change to adjust to the looming terrorist threat. These evil folk are getting bolder and they seem to weaponizing everything from trucks to kitchen knives to carry out their evil designs. Neither do these fanatics seem to discriminate between hard or soft targets any longer…they just seem to want to chalk up the body count and maimed.

These are five chili evil folk.

In my mind it is not a question of whether a terrorist attack will take place in Singapore as much as when and how and by who…..given that this seems to be increasingly the new reality of life abroad – it is not reasonable nor practical to outsource everything to just the security and clandestine services in Singapore….they cannot possibly be everywhere neither do they have as many eyes as a pineapple.

But the public does, ordinary folk….teachers, bus drivers, train workers etc etc etc who are just going about their daily business in Singapore….they must be recruited as a matter of strategic precondition to interdict terrorist threats. That is the most effective method to blunt terrorism.

There is no other way.

Ordinary Singaporeans who go about their daily routine have to change their lackdaisal and bochap atttiude towards threats. They have to take a higher level of equity in home defense like perhaps ordinary Israelites. Not doing so is just inviting evil to come into their lives.

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‘It is very difficult to impart total defense to people who don’t see the need for total defense…..but when you live as I do under the shadow of threats all the time. It becomes quite normal never to keep to a daily routine. To always keep one’s movements random and unpredictable. To such a degree the same route to and fro is seldom ever taken. To always look at the rear view mirror. To always drive with plenty of flush points. To always check one’s tires and the underside of the car before driving off. To never enter a building thru the front and only by backdoor and always only using the service lift. To even have a map of the building in one head. To always arrive at least a full hour before an appointment just to check out the location. To sit with one’s back against the wall in public. To always only order plain water and nothing else. To never go out after seven. To always interrogate anyone that comes before – what is your mission? Above all to always believe if a day starts and ends uneventfuly, it’s never because it was always meant to start and end that way.’

Many things need to be changed out to prepare for the dry season. Wet tires have to be changed out for dry tires. The suspension has to be lowered during the dry season to drive with greater stability in hard undulating plantation roads. If rain or all weather tires are used during the dry season they will be too bouncy and they are likely to blow out due to the strenuous driving conditions.

Filters tend to clog up fast during the dry season. They have to be regularly cleaned every two weeks. Oil needs to be changed from standard to synthetic as during the dry season car tends to run a lot hotter.

Many things need to be changed…inspected… changed….inspected.

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Persepolis

May 22, 2017

It was a spectacularly grand event that happened only once and after that nothing ever came close to it again….absolutely nothing.

From day one long before the SCS conflagration erupted I have always maintained it’s ultra dumb for any country or group of countries to gang up and try to dictate terms and conditions of China’s economic and military ascendancy. Not only in the South China seas, but in any region in the world. As to attempt to do so would only embroil those countries in an expensive and possibly ruinous war of attrition that even if it’s successful will only yield a Phyric victory.

It makes far more sense to try to find common ground with China and to grow with her.

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‘If I harbour any reservations about Singapore’s foreign policy is it only this – too bloody much is invested blindly in the American position. So much so that it’s akin to putting all of one’s eggs into only one basket….there’s no fall back position…no room for improvisation even….it’s a die die must see to thru to the logical or illogical end policy.

That’s OK. If America is a reliable partner that values collaboration, relationships and continuation – but as Sitting Bull once said, ‘the white man speak with fork tongue.’ And that elder red indian statesman was spot on in his description of the US political mind.

As when one peruses the tumultuous course of human history in the context of power and politics. Every single administration that has ever aligned with the US to such an extent where they sharing the same bed with them have all been royally screwed in the ass.

Great Britain once allied with the US to fight Nazi Germany…what happened to them…they got shafted nice and proper after the war and that could well account for why no one these days ever bothers to call her great any longer. The shah of Iran was also a great ally of the US in the Persian Gulf and look what happened to him – he ended up wandering around like a carpetbagger begging for refuge in his final and sad days. Jimmy Carter the kacang puteh farmer betrayed him at a drop of the hat. The same happened to Marcos. When he boarded a US helicopter during the height of people power they told him that they were going to transport him to his home province, but instead he and his whole family were spirited to an US carrier. And the list of US pathological betrayal, treachery and double dealing goes right on….from Saddam Hussein to Gaddafi to every single leader who has ever placed their trust in the US.

Now you have Trump. You read carefully what I have to say – he too will throw Singapore to the wolves. Why? Because America needs OBOR. OBOR is the only game in town – and there are billions in consultancy, engineering and hardware services and supplies contracts that will create millions of jobs for Americans who are currently sleeping their cars in the wall-mart car park. Only OBOR has the potential to create all the jobs and opportunities America ever needs for the next fifty years and possibly longer – to cap it off many many things are broken in America…you just don’t see it….they are the only first world country with a third world railway system…their deep water port and dock facilities can be politely described as medieval…they need loads and loads of Chinese infrastructural investments if they are to connect to East to West coast…and it is only a matter of time before Trump will reach the realisation for him to materialise his pre-election promise to the American people he will have very little choice but to go with the Chinese. Not because he’s particularly fond of them or even finds them endearing, nice or interesting
– it’s only because the Chinese and no one else, not even the Americans themselves have the power to make America great again.

You mark my words…what I have said today will come to pass from the realm of theory to reality. It is a mathematical certainty.

The situation can at best be described as precarious. What needs to be done is to get very serious no nonsense diplomats who know the terrain of China power and politics like General Yeo back to bat for Singapore. Instead of dogmatically reinforcing failure!

This is not the time for amateur hour or to experiment…too much is at stake for Singapore and Singaporeans to miss out on OBOR.

The alternative is my kids will eat sand!

Salim is a thief. So says everyone in the village where I turn the wheel of life. One day Salim was caught red handed stealing fruit from my lands. When Salim was brought before me under the shade of a tree. I told Salim’s parents, I would not report the matter to the police. As since Salim is young. A criminal record will affect his life. That is too harsh…too arbitrary…too automatic a method to dispense justice. But Salim must pay for his crime.

The sentence was two years banishment. No one in the village would provide Salim with food, shelter and employment.

After two years Salim returned. I brought a cow to the masjid and told the imam slaughter this and invite the whole village to welcome Salim in a Kenduri (feast). When I saw Salim I went up to him and kissed him on both the cheeks. I whispered to him, ‘now take your rightful place.’

The moral of the story is this – do not inflict so harsh a punishment on a man that you take away his pride and self esteem. This you have no right to do – and should you cross that line. Then the man who you once passed sentence on will come back and kill you! As you have burnt all the bridges and there is no route for him to return back to the fold. So what does this man have to lose even should he decide to take up arms against you?

Always leave the door open….keep the lines of communication open.

This way when people see you how you manage yourself and others – they will say this man is a steady fellow, he is not power crazy. He can be entrusted to do big things.

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‘If you ask me whether China has a right to demonstrate their displeasure with the ruling party in Singapore. Then I say it certainly has. But it must be a measured response within limits…that is to say if China is just out to make a point that is OK. But if she is all out to destroy Singapore, to cut her off, beggar her economically that is not acceptable in my book – as it also means she is out to destroy the Singaporean way of life as well. And not only is that not right. But it also reflects badly on China.

China should assume the Classical Chinese gentleman’s poise – in Cantonese this is expressed as ‘Tai Fong.’ The superior man. The man who is assured of his position in the world is naturally superior as he is the direct opposite of the xiaoren (小人, “small or petty person”) who in my opinion is the petty woman pretending to be a man – this is why females in this world are doomed to failure as they are genetically encoded to fail….as they don’t seem to grasp the bigger picture…that explains why their watches are so small as well. Theirs can only be the grasp immediate gain. As that is the default position of all petty beings – they are egotistic and can seldom appreciate the bigger picture. Hence they do not consider the consequences of their actions.

Should a ruler be surrounded by xiaoren as opposed to junzi, his governance and his people will suffer due to their small-mindness.

China should be big hearted…this way Singaporeans will love them and take pride in their achievements.’

China is not only a powerful nation. Whether China likes likes it or not, it is also a father figure to all nations outside China that has a significant Chinese population. That is why it is only natural for so many overseas Chinese to be happy and proud, when China assumes it’s rightful place in the world.

As all Chinese in this world share a common culture, values and philosophy – and it is only natural for them to want to see the old country respected and powerful – it is of course given, overseas Chinese may differ from mainland Chinese, but the differences are never so serious as to undo the things that continue to unite all Chinese under one umbrella.

If a father is wise. He would do well to remember this and never to close the door on his children or to make life so hard for them that their hearts will harden only for them to resent his authority…..the father should have the wisdom and magnimity to leave the door open and even make every effort to bring his children back into the fold of the family.

This is Dao of old country – it is the law of heaven and earth….the way of the farmer.

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‘Not very long ago a group of landowners approached me and asked me to join them against a rival landowner. When I asked them – why do you all want to destroy this fellow. They all said, ‘he does not respect our ways and he always seems to want to do things his own way instead of abiding by our time honoured ways.’

Then I turned to one of them and asked, ‘tell me do you respect him?’ The man answered forcefully, ‘No!’ To which I replied, ‘then you should not be surprised that he does not respect you or for that matter any of you….are you all crazy…surely respect is not a one way street!’

I then went on to ask, ‘do you know why this landowner continues to conduct his business without regard to your ways? Have any of you ever sat down for tea with this man to ask what accounts for his way of doing things…maybe it is not personal….maybe that is the only way he knows how to gainfully make progress…maybe what he wants is not so different from you or me or any of you!’

To which someone on the table said, ‘No! He should know our ways.’

Only for me to retort back, ‘but none of you even know why he continues to do the things he does – so while you insist your way of doing things in the best way….you know nothing of his ways….and now you all want to gang up against this person….surely that is not the way one goes about gainfully making progress. I went on to share with these landowners – the future is at best murky and we would all do well not to burn bridges callously.

I went on to share with these landowners – go to this man and share with him your way, convince him that your way is superior to his. And give him enough carrots so that even if he is skeptical, he will still go along to give your way the benefit of the doubt.

Only after you have all done this. Do you come to me and speak of war…..above all keep the lines of communication open….and do everything possible to find common ground instead of just seeing the bad in others….as war is a very serious enterprise and it is like a very sharp and expensive sword….I went on to remind these businessmen, good quality swords are never waved around like axes as they are never ever used to split fire wood. Usually they are oiled, powdered and lovingly kept in their scabbards.’

Consider this. You carry a chainsaw in your car day after day without ever skipping a single day. You even carry it when you don’t need it whenever you visit the city. You continue to carry it even when you sometimes give a ride to Christian spinsters and they’re all wondering whether you might be a serial chainsaw killer. You carry it as you know there is always the off chance that you may need it to saw a tree in half when it obstructs your path.

On the day that you decide to send this chainsaw that you carry every single day in your car without fail in for its annual servicing – that’s the day when a tree falls directly in your path…that’s the only time in the whole entire year that you could really do with a chainsaw…..but you simply don’t have one.

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‘You want to know what’s the curse of the Pharaohs. Imagine that you’re taking a dump in a public toilet. After that you pull on the tissue dispenser and it only gives out one miserable wipe and that’s it…it’s empty. You know you’re in big shit as it was a big shit after all. Nonetheless you keep cool. Somewhere between trying to figure out how many times you can wipe and fold and wipe and fold without getting shit all over your fingers. You suddenly experience a rare moment of epiphany. You have a packet of tissue paper in your rucksack! Why didn’t you think of that earlier. You throw that tissue away. You reach cooly for the side pocket for that pack of lifesaver – you know it’s there. As you regularly use it to chope tables in the food court…but that very day you just forgot….it’s not there!

Curse of the Pharaohs.

You preparing for a camping trip. You have all the canned goodies all lines up from Monday to the next Monday – you’re going to have a feast as you start prepping the fire. Suddenly you realise….you forgot the can opener.

Curse of the Pharaohs.

You’re two thirds into an evening party. You’ve just downed two bourbons and you have the third and the evening is just beginning to mellow the way you have always imagine it. Everything is just right to go. There’s even a pretty girl in a short skirt that’s even giving you all greens of a come on…nothing can ever go wrong tonite as you slink right back in the chair. Suddenly you realise your zipper has suffered a catastrophic malfunction and your manhood is displayed a la Pasar Malan style before everyone. Even that girl is now wearing a shock expression of utter disgust and that’s the day when you wearing your fluorescent red Manchester United undies.

Curse of the Pharaohs.

You know what I really believe. In the beginning of the last century a group of itchy backside British archeologist decided to dig up some tombs in the pyramids in Luxor and when they prised open that heavy door that led to the resting place of the pharaohs. They activated an ancient curse. Not just any curse, but a powerful curse that is so potent it even circled the world at least seven times and a bit more and ever since then whenever man needs something – it’s just not there. Or it can’t be found. Or you just simply don’t know where you’ve put it.

The funny thing is when you actually get the job done the really hard and difficult way – one day when you just folding your underwear or socks that thing that you really needed to get you out of a fix…magically appears right before you.

Curse of the Pharaohs.

That’s what I really believe…the curse of the Pharaohs….it can’t be anything else but that because only something supernatural has the power to defy the laws of probability.

What else could it be.

I get asked this question a whole lot. And every single time….it’s the same answer. Red wing.

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‘To me. You can have as many pair of shoes. But if you have never ever owned a pair of red wings before. Then it’s a bit like visiting Paris and never ever seeing the Eiffel Tower. Or going to Nevada and missing out on the Grand Canyon.

In the grand scheme of things, owning a pair of red wings isn’t about prestige, style or even anything about the statement you want to make when you decide to walk out into the world wearing a pair of shoes.

It’s more about appreciation for the fundamentals, frequently mundane and never ever mentioned about things that goes in to make a first class pair of shoes.

The first thing that hits you about red wing shoes is the exceptional quality of the leather. You’re getting a beefy cut of the highest quality steer hide….it’s so good that at times I wonder to myself why even construct a shoe with this sort of material when it’s going to be used by oil rig workers wrestling pipes in the Bering sea?

It just seems like a tragic waste…..

But that’s what hits you the very moment you hold a pair of red wings in your hand….as when we talk about shoes it really just comes down to one thing…the raw material…the leather….everything else comes after only this really.*

* If you’re buying your first pair of red wings. Never get it online. As I can almost guarantee you 100% it will certainly be the wrong fit – as their size eight isn’t eight at all and closer to seven and as for their half sizes they’re closer to quarter increments…their fit sizes is a right mess. As every model seems to suffer from a particularity of fit that is unique since they never use the same last for every model though as they claim…it’s all different. And it’s been that way since they started making shoes a hundred over years ago.

Take my advise. Wear a pair of socks that you normally wear. Get yourself fitted by a professional in a physical shop. Insist on being fitted that way even should it feel right. Even if you have to pay a bit more. Even if it seems too tight and really uncomfortable when you walk right out of the shop wearing those new pair of shoes. That’s really the only advice I would give anyone who wants to own the best shoe in the world.

Even if China has a big axe to grind against the Singapore government. That’s strictly a case of bad blood between them. It really has nothing to do with you and me. They can go drill holes in each other’s head for all I care.

Even if these two strangers approach me and try to suck me in. I will just hand them both a laminated card that says,

‘I am autistic person who hopes to live a normal, harmonious and happy life. I am not too bright and seldom have an opinion. My parents once told me there are many things I don’t and will never understand in this world. So please kindly leave me out of it.’

After that they can go and resume killing each other. As I said, it’s got nothing to do with me and I rather not get involved. Dowan means dowan lah!

Only understand this! Nothing…absolutely nothing stops you as either an individual or enterprise owner from offering your services to benefit from OBOR.

This is really how I see it.

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‘When you build a road or lay tracks frequently it’s not just something for cars, trucks and trains to ply thru. That’s not how it works. Look! the lands on both sides zipping past you are well irrigated. Someone ran hoses and piped water. There all sorts of fruit bearing trees and crops growing in neat rows and squares. From time to time maybe you will make out a barn or a tractor ploughing in the fields. Or maybe a scarecrow. If you look further beyond the fields maybe you could make out the faint trail from chimney stacks as well. Yes…someone is definitely making things nearby. And should you decide to stop and take a closer maybe you’ll even find a school, a town hall, a public square where even Starbucks or something familiar greets you.

But you must always remember….these sights and sounds that you see did not exist before. It all started with just a road or a sliver of track. Before that, there was really just a big nothing.

You just need to really see the trees from the forest.’

Q: Your lightning take please. Why didn’t the Chinese invited PM Lee for the OBOR briefing in Beijing?

A: I am confused. From what we know the only source seems to be from Lawrence Wong who was asked why didn’t PM Lee attend and he replied, the Chinese are responsible for issuing out invitations. So many things can be read between the lines. (A) the Chinese bureaucrat who was responsible for compiling the invitation list choked on his toothpaste while brushing his teeth and promptly died hence PM Lee’s was left out. (B) The Chinese did actually send PM Lee and invitation but for some reason the it didn’t reach PM Lee’s office.

It is a very strange way to communicate information because if I ask you the time and you begin to recount that this morning when you took a dump your shit was glowing and it was green in color, then reasonable people are likely to draw the logical conclusion you don’t know how to manage an intelligent conversation.

So I don’t know.

Q: Let us assume that the Chinese did not invite PM Lee. What can you draw from that?

A: The short answer goes something like this. China considers the US led pivot in the form of the TPP as overbearing and diametrically in conflict with its geoeconomic interest. They have obvious drawn the conclusion Singapore is a reliable ally of the US and a main proponent of the TPP. They also have reason to believe Singapore has designs to rally the rest of the ASEAN countries against China’s occupation of the SCS. So the Chinese have taken this opportunity to demonstrate their displeasure?

Q: How true is China’s assertation given that Singapore has always maintained it has a right to it sovereignty and elemental right to speak out?

A: I think the Chinese position is reasoned, reasonable and logical.

Q: So you believe it to be true?

A: No. As I said it is a reasoned assembly of facts along with a reasonable conclusion that abides by very logical rules concerning how one might draw an accurate picture of what is transpiring?

Q: Why is Singapore against OBOR?

A: I really don’t think it’s that personal. Singapore simply sees more mileage to go with the US position. Hence it’s not unusual for her to align and even intertwined her interest with the US position to maintain its geoeconomic and geopolitical sphere of influence and primacy in the Asian Pacific region.

This position is not unique to just Singapore. The Japanese and to a limited extent the Indians subscribe to such a position.

Q: How is the Indian position different in so far as you see fit to describe ‘limited’ from let’s say the Japanese position?

A: The Indians have always been suspicious of the Chinese and it’s a very entrenched mindset that has a long history that goes back to 1962 when the Chinese crossed the Mahon line. Technically it was a Chinese invasion of Indian territory. To exacerbate matters both countries share a gamut of buffer zones in the form of Bhutan, Tibet and to a limited extent Kashmir as well. Because China has always been a reliable ally of the India’s arch enemy Pakistan.

China has pumped in at least $46 billion of investment into Pakistan for the CPEC project and they’re unlikely to scale back. The OBOR project is likely to heighten the security risk of India considerably as CPEC is likely to increase the scope and ease of cooperative action between Pakistan and Chinese forces. For the first time the Pakistani’s will be able to mobilised their armor units and artillery pieces with full logistical and supply support via roads. This has been one of the perennial constraints that is so serious that it literally stops both sides from fighting. As since every shell needs to be either airlifted or taken to site with donkey power thru the mountainous himalayans it guarantees a detente. But with the completion of CPEC both the Paks and the Chinese Army will get deeper access and deployment into Kashmir.

I say their resistance to OBOR is ‘limited’ as it relates primarily to balancing the geo political sphere.

The Indians are wary of OBOR not only on land but sea as well. One concern is how the Chinese navy has become more muscular in the Indian Ocean – of course China justifies this arms race by constantly issuing out assurances that all it is trying to do is build new international trade networks. This other dimension of OBOR known as the Maritime Silk Road is a constant source of anxiety for India as she sees it as China’s attempt to gain control or influence at all major maritime trade chokepoints from the Gulf of Eden to the Indian Ocean and into the Bay of Bengal.

One of the constraints of the Chinese Navy is the lack of ports that would allow her to competently conduct blue water operations. But with Djibouti coming on line in Etiophia and Gwadar in Pakistan and Sonadia in the Bay of Bengal and all this is under the aegis of OBOR. What this means is for the first time in maritime history, the Chinese navy would be able to conduct carrier operations right in the backyard of the Indias.

This has to be disconcerting when you consider Indians navy is currently in a right mess. They just decommissioned one carrier and what they’re left with spends more time in the dry docks than at sea. On top of that they don’t even have a carrier doctrine as no one knows what planes to use.

As opposed to the U.S. system, however, the Chinese strategy is based on a version of mercantilism to control trade—as we’ve witnessed in its military push in the South China Sea, where it is beginning to deny access to other nations.

Q: What about Japan’s opposition to OBOR? How might they motivation differ from the Indians?

A: Japan is a very curious case. To me at least. Allow me to share why – as it is has every reason to be a big influencer in Asia. But for some curious reason they don’t seem to be able to build up a critical mass of the feel good factor or for that matter much enthuism with anything they do. That is very sad because unbeknown to many Japan is already a passive contributor to OBOR thru the scope of Japan’s official development assistance (ODA). Japan is remains the largest provider of foreign assistance and low-cost loans, larger than the United States or the World Bank or even the ADB. Japanese development aid to Asia and Africa is double Germany’s contribution. Japan occupies a similarly dominant position in concessional lending to Indonesia, Vietnam, India, Laos, Cambodia and Myanmar.

Yet Japan cannot seem to drum up enthuism. I think one reason has to be the way they go about giving out these concessional loans – there is no grand design, no heart tugging story, they seem to like fund a sanitation plant somewhere in the dessert and once it’s finished everyone thanks them and a few months after that no one seems to be able to remember who built it or why or even who it’s supposed to benefit.

OBOR is very different. It doesn’t take a lot to stir up plenty of enthuism and excitement. You know just the other day a group of school kids asked me, what is one belt, one road? I asked them have you all heard of Marco Polo? And they all smiled and exclaimed yes. Every kid knows the story of that frontier man. It’s the story of great human endeavour, battling self doubt, breaching the unknown, a tale of redemption, risk. It’s very romantic. Very addictive and riveting. The man who went to Cathay ate a bowl of noodles and some wanton dumplings and came back to Verona Italy to make spaghetti and ravioli – of course that story isn’t entirely true. But you get my point – OBOR is very exciting and that’s really another way of saying the Chinese have done a brilliant job of marketing the vision, mission and philosophy of what they plan to share with the world.

While the Japanese are still running here and there building stuff for Africans and South Asians and no one knows or cares two hoots about their story. Because they don’t have one – so I see this malaise to be very much of the Japanese failure of imagination to sell themselves to the rest of world.

Why are they against OBOR? I really don’t know. Maybe they’re just so used to Pax Americana that’s what they really comfortable with. What I do know for a fact is most Japanese remain very uncomfortable about Japan weaponizing their atomics or allocating more of the GDP for defense – the modern Japanese has no stomach for war. And that may well be the reason why they much prefer to go with status quo. Because if China dominates the field of possibilities in the AP region – they will have to go down the warpath and Japan does not want this.

Q: Do you think OBOR holds out opportunities for Singapore?

A: I think at a country level it’s generally accepted, there will be more minuses than pluses. Firstly the volume of trade will be diverted as new gate ways will open up. Secondly, the Chinese are likely to deprioritize the use of the Straits of Malacca and Lombok. At the current rate of growth traffic grows at roughly 20% every year so it’s back to back and I don’t see it growing that way forever. Thirdly, the way in which raw materials will be converted to finished goods will begin to move inland for the very first time in human history.

Q: Sorry for the interruption this just came in – some people say OBOR is very conceptual because it relies of the cooperation of 62 countries and all it takes for the pipe to stop is for one country not to cooperate – what is your take?

A: I think what these people are asking obliquely is this Kompf – if a country for any reason decides to blockade a the section of the trade route what is likely to happen? In my understanding it’s like this. In 1956. When Nasser shut down the Suez Canal to the Gulf of Abaqa. Anglo French paratroopers were sent in. In 1983, when Noriega threatened to shut the Panama Canal. America invaded. You can draw you own conclusions as to what is going to happen from these examples.

Q: So you’re saying if the Thai’s build a canal thru the Kra Ismuth and blockade it, the Chinese will invade Thailand?

A: Not necessarily the Chinese per se. Maybe they will channel it thru the UN. But it’s likely the rest of the beneficiary countries along that route would very much like to see it remain open and that would be their motivation to vote in favor of armed aggression if diplomacy fails.

Look at it this way. I have waterlocks on my land. So does the landowners up and downstream. These locks are never ever used. That begs the question why would any sane landowner build expensive waterlocks that he never ever uses – must be some sort of mass insanity in action right. Not really. Because should the landowner upstream decide to activate his locks during the dry season to keep whatever little water to himself and deny water to me and the others downstream. Then all the landowners downstream will retaliate by activating their locks during the rainy season and flood that belligerent landowners land. So these waterlocks are the equivalent of the farmers atomic weapons. They are not meant to be used. But just because you don’t use something doesn’t mean it doesn’t have the agency of power. It is a deterrent. Because the very fact one has that capability to effect mutual assured destruction confers balance of power to ensure that no landowner interferes artificially with the datum of the river.

Trade routes are not so different. There will be the equivalent of waterlocks built in at strategic choke points to build in mutual assured destructive capabilities along with features to ensure every country along the route has balance of power to keep it open.

Q: I am sorry to interrupt you just now. Coming back to the question. What opportunities will there be for Singapore to benefit from OBOR.

A: The summary is not much at the country level simply because Singapore is in China’s bad books. Of course the politicians will continue to insist all is well and play happy families even. But I think there is enough indications to suggest relations are strained and likely to deteriorate.

But for Singaporeans I think the opportunities are limitless.

You know don’t think the Chinese are doing all this because they are good hearted people – their motivation is primarily geoeconomic. They want their factories to run on three rotating shifts without ever stopping. Then want every Chinese to be employed. Above all they want as many Chinese settlers to go out and populate the furtherest reaches of the world. This is the unpalatable aspect of OBOR that is seldom ever discussed – as to broach it automatically requires on to discuss the merits of lebensruam and how only that doctrine comes naturally to all imperialistic powers. The Americans had to do it with the prairie settlers. The Spanish before them did it with. So did the British, Romans, Ottomans and virtually every superpower.

If you think I am talking thru my hat. Then you best ask how did 1 million Chinese end up settling in Africa and calling it home. Many of these settlers first went there as menial construction workers and they eventually stay on entirely by their own initiative, not by way of any state planning. This Chinese diaspora is the primary engine that drives China’s economic growth in Africa. They’re there prospecting for gold in southern Ghana. In Zambia, they’ve grown so big they have even syndicate the illicit trade in ivory and rhino horn – in some parts of Africa, Niger and Chad especially they control every aspect of trade. Even the mighty French foreign legion don’t dare to cross them as many of these settlers have permeated every level of the landowning gentry and they wield tremendous influence. To me these are the first generational equivalents of the Spanish matizto of Ayala and Osmena’s.

The Chinese mandarins in Beijing are not stupid. Like the Japanese who learnt how to wage war in Manchuria only to apply their skill of arms against the British and Americans during the WW2 in the Pacific – they learnt a lot from Africa.

If you really want to time travel into the future and take a look at how the world will be along the many nodes, networks and confluence points of trade of OBOR, look at the Chinese and study what they once did in Africa.

If you want to be a first class intelligence analyst about China affairs don’t just sit in your aircon cubicle in some skyscraper and look thru ADB and World Bank stats to figure what the Chinese plan to do with OBOR. Go to Africa infiltrate their social networks like a Mossad secret agent and find out what they have been doing there since 2001. It’s a story that no one writes about because Africa has no four Seasons, it just a place where everyone likes to point guns at you.

And this is the same advise I will give every Singaporean. Just go! Because if you wait for Lawrence Wong to carve a way with the Chinese. They will just throw him a few trinkets – as at a government level it’s kaput. You will grow old, bald, toothless and poor and no girl will ever want to go out on a date with you. She dowan lah! But if you go. Find your niche in somewhere in the millions of miles. Can be anything under the sun – I can almost guarantee you providing you don’t mind strange people pointing guns at you from time to time. You will be rich beyond your wildest imagination. As who dares wins!

Kompf. You have absolutely no idea. None whatsoever. How long we have all been waiting for this day. And it’s finally here.