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.

I got this as an unexpected gift from one of my regular Japanese shoemakers that I paint shoes for. His name is Saburo Kindoh. He runs a tiny bespoke shoe shop with his wife and teenage daughter Haseo. It’s so small they even make handmade buck wheat noodles as well and in the summer. They just hang up a sign that says, ‘closed till we return.’

I have known Saburo for nearly thirty years and he likes the quality of my work and my style of painting shoes very much. He likes to say I am one of the very few shoe painters he knows who never seems to add so much that it robs him of his work. I don’t get much work from Saburo. Maybe three or four pairs a year and it’s been like that ever since I could remember.

He lives a hippie sort of life…work a bit…travel…work a bit…travel. We climbed together during our student days in London.

Recently the Kindoh’s went on holiday to Sweden and while they were there – Haseo got me these pair of unusual boots. She worked on a custom boot for me once, but since it didn’t turn out very well, she got me this pair probably to make up for the muffed job.

Saburo told me one reason why she bought them was because she still remembers my last shape and from what she could make out from the dimensions of the boot – it seems like a perfect fit for my foot.

I tried it on when my sister handed it to me recently – it’s a very good fit. Usually when it comes to mass produced boots I can never ever get the right fit. But this is very good to go!

The design of the boot is traditionally Scandinavian. One piece of beefy steer hide from toe box to heel erector with no breaks in between to keep water out. That’s how they do it over there – it’s strictly no nonsense. The eyelets are aluminium which is a first for me. And the bottom section is held together with the eight inch ankle support by very robust triple stiching that will make this steel toe boots exceptionally durable. The threads are very unusual – I’ve never ever seen anything like this before in all my years of wearing boots.

They will come in very handy during the wet season.

Thank you sweet Haseo.

This is one of shoe painting projects.

Before

After….

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‘Because I am autistic. I can never work well with people. In the beginning it’s OK. But as time goes by it only leads to plenty of misunderstandings and grief. So I am quite a sad case. I have to find jobs where I am either the boss or have to work all by myself in one corner.

I’ve always taken a lot of pride in being able to work well with my hands – most people shy away from manual labor, but not me. To me it’s an intensely spiritual experience to be able to trust my hands completely, unreservedly and with an air of quiet confidence.

I am always confused whenever other people don’t seem to respect my labor. As they probably consider it beneath them to work with their hands. I never take it personally…that’s just how people are when they know very little about a thing.

From time to time in my line of work as a shoe dresser I do come across very well informed folk who seem to have a deep respect and even veneration for my work – they ask me questions like how to do you make something as mundane like leather glow with mystery like amber. Their eyes glisten like children when they ask me this. I share with these kindred souls shyly my trade secrets – I take out a piece of raw paraffin blue lapis from my tool bag and I tell them – it’s a stone from the blue mountains in Afghanistan. I place it in their hands. It’s warm to the touch and usually brings a smile and breaks the ice. They bring it to the light with an air of curiousity. I crush it finely with a pestle in a rocking action like the way my master taught me to prepare dyes, till it’s so fine and crumbly like dust. Then I add whale oil and put it on the flame till it bubbles all the while adding ochre, magenta, dill or whatever to prepare the dyes to just the right shade and tone and viscosity…it takes plenty of patience to get it just right…I do it the old way, the way it’s supposed to be done….usually they just sit there quietly and watch me work mesmerised by the steady rhythm of a man working with his hands.

I have painted many many shoes for royalty, heads of states, statesmen, captains of industry.

I consider myself very privileged to be able to offer an incomparable service that very few in this world can match – I am always very proud to work with my hands.’

Self doubt

May 17, 2017

Last Saturday I spent a lot of time and a small fortune broadcasting a cocktail of expensive fertilisers on my trees. I may have been too late. Today I sat down on my rattan chair. The eastern winds seem to be picking up in earnest. The temperature is slowly ratcheting up and up. As for the humidity it’s finally started to ease off. My fear is the dry season may already be on top of us for good.

I hope it rains in these few days….I need the rain very badly….otherwise I fear I may be very sad.

‘I came to consciousness just around the age of thirteen. I know it is strange and perculiar to say I came to consciousness – but when one is autistic it is quite normal to describe it as such. As not only is that a very accurate description of what actually once transpired. But given that prior to my presence of being I was really just stuck in a sort of submerged world where everything came to me very much in splotches of blurs and even sound itself can only be described as a version of muffled underwater music.

Unlike most people I never ever managed to shake off self doubt. One would I imagine have…if I had lived amongst very kind people who all read broadly enough to look at my problem with some measure of kindness. Since no such category of people or domain existed during the period of my youth or even when I finally broached adulthood. All I could really do was to sit next to the effigy of my self doubt.

Yes it will always be an effigy to me. Something tactile, textural and physical as opposed to just a fuzzy abstraction. Something that has the feel of being like an ant looking up from the bottom of a shit pot, where all the sides are shiny with slipperyness of the variety where one doesn’t even bother to try to climb out of it. Because it’s just so fucking impossible. The affliction being the knowledge that no matter how hard I tried to fit in. I will always make the situation worse for myself. And it would always end the same, all the time with the terrible realisation that my state could only be one resembling the awareness of my own terrible limitations, my hopeless inadequacy, the impossibility of ever getting it right. Not even when I tried my hardest. No matter how much one hoped. It was futile.

Self doubt is something I just don’t merely know about it – for me it nothing other than a theoretic science where I’ve even managed to distill it into three known states. As an invisible vapor like poison gas that when inhaled results in instant paralysis of bodily functions and thought processes…quite a disorder to have when one makes love for the very first time. Quite distressing. For the dearly unfortunate at least.

The other is when it appears before me like I mentioned as an effigy – a sign, omen or just a collection of images cobbled together in my mind’s eye. Often this image would appear again and again – at times in the most benign shape and form of either a shapeless cloud or the faint watermark on a napkin. I used to believe this was God’s way of communion – then it occurred to me one day that why would a supreme being even bother with the whole ridiculous idea of trying to communicate to me thru a slice of roti prata shaped like an effigy of self doubt – when he could just as well do the same with infinite precision and clarity thru CNN or Channel News Asia. Or maybe he would use Zoey Tay? I wonder could that be why she’s still around after all these years….could God be trying to reach out to me?

And finally last but not least is third shape of self doubt – myself. I am the receptacle of this state of being. This stranger that I have strived all my life to understand. This incomprehensible being that is the source of so much befuddledment to others.

Who still harbors the belief like an incontinent child that there is actually this homily sugary place where he will one day be kindly treated and even well received for who he actually is…you could even say I must believe there is such a place. Or maybe I should refer to him….No…it’s me I am sure.

I know this place exist. I have dreamnt of it many times and have even run as fast as my feet could carry me thru bronzed corn fields. From time to time I can feel it’s warmth like a distant star on my skin…I once even tasted it faintly in the air…one day I will discover this place… X marks the spot.’

Q: Many of the readers in Ekunaba would like to know what is your first take on OBOR?

A: It’s huge. Not just 747 in your living room huge. But so big that it even has the capacity to take that word beyond its dictionary meaning. Let me just give you a sense of scale of what we are talking about – it’s about 13 times bigger than the Marshall plan. At least 1,400 suez canals. The sheer scale is really quite unprecedented in the 2,000 years of human history.

Q: Najib Abdullah has described OBOR as a ‘game changer.’ The Indian foreign ministry spokesman Gopal Baglay, said India could not accept a project that compromised its sovereignty. The Japanese and Americans did not send a delegation to the OBOR briefing. What is your lightning take on all these comments?

A: It’s very early days. I really have nothing to offer in the way of any comments for this moment.

Q: How valid is the Indian position?

A: I think you can’t be presentist when it comes to intelligence analysis especially when it comes to Sino-Indian relations – there is a fair amount of historicism that goes back to 1962 when the PLA invaded India in Ladakh, and across the McMahon Line in the then North-East Frontier. Since then India has been paranoid about Chinese imperialistic designs real or imagined I don’t think matters. To exacerbate matters China has always been a reliable arms supplier to India’s arch enemy Pakistan. So it’s only natural for the Indians to respond negatively to OBOR given that the planned trade route passes the contentious Kashmir Pak region.

Q: You described OBOR as a ‘an unprecedented undertaking in two thousand years of human history.’ What do you see in your austistic mind that makes this mega project different from all other mega projects that came before it?

A: I regret to inform you Kompf that I take great exception to be called austistic – not because I consider it an insult, but because I feel it was highly unnecessary for you to have asked the question with that prefix.

You see that virtual door. I am walking thru it now.

Q: I apologise. But that was not a question from me. It was from the guilds. For your information that was a compliment as many of the readers actually believe you can see a lot of things that normal people can never see. Hence I felt justified to use the word autistic. Nonetheless since you are obviously in a bad mood. Allow me the courtesy to rephrase the question once again – You described OBOR as a ‘an unprecedented undertaking in two thousand years of human history.’ What do you see in your mind that makes this mega project different from all other mega projects that came before it?

A: OBOR scope for change is truly unprecedented. It is important to recognise that we are not just talking about transformation change in how people and goods will reach A and B. But it effects will be so far reaching and pervasive that it will even rewrite and possibly rewire how mankind has always live, work and play. Ever since recorded history if you care to notice the growth areas have traditionally been concerntrated around the coastal regions – even today if you conduct a census you will find the most dynamic nodes are all without exception centered in coastal regions. There is a very good reason for this as that’s the most efficient point that doesn’t incur extraneous logistical cost. I mean if you have a factory sited in the coastal regions, then your supply chain would be immeasurably shorter and experience less friction cost than less say if you were located in Xinjiang or Harbin. That’s why China’s growth engine is centered along the coastal regions of Shenzen and the pearl delta – so is Hong Kong, Amsterdam, The Bay Area in West America and even Singapore. All that will change will OBOR – because for the very first time in human history the land locked masses will be prised open. New gate ways will open.

Now if you look at OBOR that is exactly what it aspires to accomplish – so for example in Africa there are plans to connect the prosperous west coast of Guinea, Coite de Noire with the eastern coast of Mozambique and everything in between, Etiophia, Uganda, further north to Chad and beyond to Egypt and into the Bosporous of Turkey and beyond Europa.

My point is it is not the way we trade that will be radically different with OBOR – rather it’s how the distribution of wealth, opportunities and man’s historical trans migration to routes from inland to coastal to seek out skills, opportunities, critical mass of opportunties along with the way labor has always been divided will go thru radical changes.

These changes as I see it not in isolation – they have a knock on effect very much like our own game when we mastered the science of folding space which changed not only how we calculate gain, conduct diplomacy, manage risk, manage conflict etc etc.

For example OBOR will rewrite the book of Realpolitik as we know it in ways that we cannot possibly imagine – as till now man is just an expression of the Clausewitzian theory that war is the continuation of politics by other means – that is to say if I am a nation and I want to better my lot. Then the most effective way to prosecute on this imperative is to beggar my neighbor. This idea of win-win is a fiction. That idea may not be logical to you. But in the art of Realpolitik that is the only way to materialise an actual and tangible utility or gain. But with OBOR since mutual co-existence is intervowen with trade what we have is a cooperative framework where it makes far more sense to cooperate than to wage war to realise a gain or to interdict a threat that will subtract from a gain.

I can express this relationship better in math. It pains me that I cannot seem to express it in words. But what I hope will enhance your learning outcome from this sharing is how similar this theory of mutual co-existence is to the first agrarian society in China where rice relied on a series of water locks to irrigate their crops – since everyone relies on a common source, it pays to share the water supply rather than to hoard it for oneself as to do so would incur penalties – I think this idea is very congruent to someone like Xi because he is after all a farmer and this is very agricultural way of making sense of the world that is very unique and particular to people who know about farming i.e the Chinese idea that economic development is the best way of resolving social problems, demonstrated by for example the Chinese “Go West” programme. Within the framework of this programme, Chinese companies are encouraged to relocate their production and operations into the inner, western and, compared to the coastal regions, less developed provinces of the country. They expect this will pacify the of the Uyghur minority living in Xinjiang province where they are literally cut off from the economic vitality of the coastal regions. So this is just an illustration of how OBOR has the power to effect a paradigm shift on conflict management.

But I can talk about the knock on effects on not only how it will color man’s traditional and classical methods to realise a gain or how best he would in the future manage risk and conflict. But also how OBOR will truly break down barriers in ways that mankind has never seen before. It is very exciting.

Q: How will China finance OBOR?

A: I think that is an excellent question. Because when you look at OBOR as a master blueprint we are not talking about a ten or even twenty year project – it is really like one of those generational programs that will go beyond the hundred year time horizon – that is really how big it actually is. It is Byzantine project that defies comprehension in one life time.

So what do the Chinese expect to gain from the short term? After all they can’t be writing one hundred year IOU’s. Not even the Bank of England can do that – there has to be within this exchange such a thing ROI or quip pro quo at least.

And this is where I feel a lot of people don’t seem to understand is that when nations jump onboard OBOR and say yes we want a railway that links X city to Y what they are ineffect entering into is a loan agreement. I want to crystal here. No one is wearing a Father Christmas faux beard and giving free presents here! This misleads. The terms may be structured sympathetically that’s to say instead of paying in cash you can pay in let’s say oil palm, tin, Bauxite etc etc. That incidentally in global economics is called cross trading or barter trade. But it is a loan. A loan that is not so different from one where it’s taken from the IMF. Only this time it’s from AIIB. And let us be clear every loan agreement comes with penalty clauses. If you have taken a loan this hardly requires further elaboration. If you’re in any illusion as to what a loan imposes on you – stop your monthly repayments and in few months a letter of demand will be in your post. Ignore it and men with no necks will appear with the bailiff with a letter of demand etc etc.

But how does China finance it? How does it do so sustainably? When we ask these questions we are in effect asking why is China doing this. At a deeper level, we are asking cui Bono? Very interesting math conundrum how does a nation go about financing such a huge project without running into attrition.

The way I see it OBOR presents endless possibilities and many opportunities for China to resolve it’s overcapacity problem – it’s a problem that is so serious that it threatens to shut down many factories and throw out millions into the streets – what is often elided from OBOR is who manufactures the steel tracks for the millions of miles of railway lines. Who supplies the rolling stock along with all the ancillary support infrastructure and construction. What I think you need to understand is a rail line is not just a rail line. As what it involves is a whole pheltora of infrastructural facilities ranging from power generation and the means to manage all this intelligently with computers. All these can be built, operated and transferred by the Chinese. To put it another way it’s a very reliable way to keep millions of Chinese employed for years and years. In my considered assessment OBOR is partly driven by geoeconomics rather than purely geo political considerations i.e there is a need to sustain investment, even as domestic consumption and world trade are unable to sustain growth. This is not a new story to the Chinese not even within China for example the Tibet and Xinjiang rail that transverse Eurasia was driven by both a combination of economic considerations as it was by the geopolitical necessity to repopulate the autonomous regions with a higher number of Han Chinese.

So don’t for one moment think the Chinese are not getting anything out of this. They’re getting plenty out of this.

As even when we speak about port facilities it’s a way for them to create a beach head like how they did when they recently built a port in Djibouti that allows their navy to project into the Indian Ocean and the Bay of Bengal in ways and means which would otherwise not have been possible.

Rest assured China is not getting nothing out of this deal. You could even say China has very little in the way of choice. It has to revamp the global supply chain to fuel growth on a sustainable basis. Look here the projections are very stark. Currently 80% of China’s economy is fueled by seaborne routes through the Indian Ocean region and the South China Sea. According to BP’s Energy Outlook, China’s oil import dependence will rise from the current 50% quantum to 76% in 2035, while gas dependence will rise from 30% to 41%. The transport system, however, is vulnerable to disruption at key maritime choke points such as the Straits of Malacca or the Straits of Hormuz, and such incidents could block energy trade and seriously impact the level and volatility of energy prices and also result in physical supply shortages.

So I really don’t see China living happily with current the global supply chain template. It has to take a proactive role to craft a sustainable energy blueprint and intercept the future and since it’s energy requirement is so monstrously huge, it has no choice but to take the lead and create it.

Q: You mentioned earlier OBOR attempts to effect a paradigm shift from adversarial to cooperative. How successful do you think China will be in hardwiring the world? Do you see any resistance?

A: The idea that the deeper the links, networks and nodes of geoeconomic relations between nations or continents is inversely proportional to creating conditions where mutual coexistence pays out more than trying to get the same out of conflict predates even OBOR by at least two thousand years.

This is important. Because OBOR is not attempting to posit a radically new paradigm of organizational thinking as much as reclaim an idea that was first promulgated by the first agrarian society that goes back as far as the Sumerian period to some even say coloring the entire power and politics of the Nile Delta or for that matter where there is a common vital source that groups of people rely on such as a river, right of easement, trade route or sharing of vital raw material.

Neither is this new to China either. And that should not be forgotten. This idea of creating conditions where mutual dependency of states contributes to replacing territorial, expansionist goals with a cooperative atmosphere to drive economic growth. It derives from the fact that continuous trade and a free flow of investments required for this growth are ensured in a peaceful, stable, predictable environment.

What many pundits about OBOR don’t seem to realise when they assert Chinese will run into social cultural roadblocks because people mistrust them is they have failed to take stock of how successfully China has been able to nourish the idea of mutual dependency very successfully in the African continent. This regrettably is a very low key story that for some curious reason doesn’t receive much press coverage – that is sad because if you ask me where did the Chinese geoeconomic planners derive so much of their confidence to even propose an intercontinental project like OBOR it could really only come from them developing the core competencies and skill of arms in being able to successfully craft win-win type relationships in Africa.

Will there be problems with Chinese investments? Will OBOR be politicised and can it be construed as a sort of cultural appropriation or worse still interpreted as loss of sovereignty or erosion of elemental rights for natives? Yes. And we don’t need to look very far for examples of this. Recently in Malaysia a mega development by the Chinese in Johor called Forest city became a matter of intense discussion concerning loss of sovereignty along with challenging the supremacy of the Bumiputera. In a nutshell it was politicised, but that in my opinion is not an insurmountable or novel problem to the Chinese as they face the same set of problems in Africa.

The point I am trying to get across is no country on this planet just decides to wake up one morning and proclaim I want to set in motion a global logistic blueprint, involving elements of infrastructural and political coordination and cooperation to cooperate as efficiently as possible by leveraging on geographical connectivity.

One would do well to ask further where was the skill of arms steadily developed to enable China to plan and do all this. I think if you happen to be someone new to intelligence gathering or think tanking, then maybe you should look deeper at what China has been doing for the last thirty years in Africa.

Q: How much of the frontier man philosophy featured in China’s foray into Africa? And how did the Chinese get along with the Africans. Was there a win-win?

A: You know when I talk about the philosophy of the frontier men. There are actually people in Singapore who sit around in their aircon bunkers and they actually snigger and ask themselves what is this pscychotic fellow going on and on about….but when you consider Chinese farmers now compete for arable land in Cameroon with natives, Chinese textiles are undercutting Nigerian manufacturers, tens of thousands of Africans now work for Chinese companies, and at least one million Chinese now call Africa home. Then it’s very hard to pooh pooh this frontier man philosophy.

Has Africa been colonised by the Chinese? Please note. I have deliberately used the word colonised because in my mind there is no such thing as equality and less of the idea of emancipation when a more powerful nation like China engages a weaker nation.

If you look at Africa thirty years ago most of the elites and chattering classes were all educated in either the UK or France and the Soviet Union. Today they are all educated in Beijing. In the early 1980’s the most popular car in Africa was a French made Peogeut. Today it is double happiness brand.

What I am trying to convey here? My point is when we regularly speak about cultural or perhaps identity appropriation it is often a very subtle thing – where you’re educated for example is a form of cultural and identity blitzkrieg.

We might even go so far to ask – how did a boy who grew up in Singapore and who has never been to America before like Amos Yee end up speaking with a pleasant New England American accent. Now some people may say he learnt to talk like that as he watches too many reruns of Sesame Street on YouTube. And this begs the question isn’t that a form of cultural and identity appropriation as well? To me all this talk about cultural and identity in the context of imperialism is just jingoism masquerading as xenophobia – it’s something we just came up with in our heads like when I say this is what Asians do. Or this is what an oriental Asian man does. This is what an oriental Asian austistic man does. This is what an oriental Asian austistic man who doesn’t get a lot of opportunity to socialise with people does…and what you have is layer upon layers of artificial distinctions and classification that we are contend to term culture and identity.

Why is understanding this so important? Why have I spent so much time on the area of cultural authority or the lack of it and the whole idea of identity?

I think it’s because when we speak about culture and identity it doesn’t pay to regard it as something that is superglued and immovable. In my opinion it will always be a very malleable concept only because values, habits and the way we make sense of the world can migrate and change, very much in the way so many Chinese who once went to Africa to work on building bridges, roads or airfields decided to stay and consider that place home.

Where I think culture and identity acquires a sharp edge to even be considers dangerous is when it is deliberately weaponized like Forest city – like how Mahathir’s new opposition party Bersatu is using this case as a crowbar to sow the seeds of discontentment and the politics of fear to further his own specious end.

My point is China has the experiental knowledge to navigate thru this sectarian and race thicket – they would not be able to exert command and control over the autonomous regions of Tibet or Xinjiang if don’t have that skill of arms.

In my assessment that is the least of their problems when it comes to implementing OBOR.

Q: What is your primary reservations concerning about OBOR?

A: If there is such a thing as refrain in this whole deal I think it has to relate to the issue of simple financing. Many countries see OBOR as an opportunity to supercharge their economies in a period when the world economy is slowing down – at one level of understanding it makes perfect sense for them to sign on the dotted line. But you have to bear in mind – it’s a loan. It may well be based on friendly and even favourable terms that are so sympthathetic to countries such as Greece that desperately needs a financial life line. But nonetheless it bears repeating only because it is serious – it’s a loan. And like all loans it will come will its own set of performance criterias like specific performance and penalties in the event of a default in repayment. My feel is some of these countries who seem very enthusiastic to jump on the OBOR bandwagon may actually not appreciate the measure of long term risk involved here.

You know when I see happy go lucky personalities like Duterte who might even harbor the delusional belief, China is easy meat and he can play either the US against China or vice versa to get the best deal. I shudder. Like I said it’s essentially a loan. And if you’re under the misapprehension it’s possible to just sign up for the OBOR package get the goodies and do a runner to the other side. I would say you stand as much chance as try to double cross the mafia or yakuza. They will bury you so deep that your relatives have to fly to Australia just to plant flowers on your grave. That’s really how I see the Chinese. Outwardly the are very polite and nice. But as we have seen from how they have humiliated, ostracised and marginalised Singapore by pinning a post it on her back for all to read, ‘this is what happens when you stand against us!’

The Chinese can also be very cold, hard and forceful.

That’s really my only reservations – like the Greeks say beware of strangers who come bearing gifts.

(Guild has suspended this interview due to sensitivity of material)

Q: Many people have labelled Trump as a mad president. (Interruption)

A: Kompf. I have asked you on numerous occasions in the past not to refer to Mr Trump as a mad man. I would appreciate it if you desist using such disparaging terms.

Q: It is common knowledge in both the private and public sphere of consciousness that Trump may not be suitable to occupy the office of president of the U.S. How accurate is this assertion and what do you think is the cause of this lack of confidence in his temperament, political acumen and leadership?

A: If you go back to my previous interviews even as far back as a year ago during the GOP – you will find that I have repeatedly warned against labelling Trump as a mad man – now the reason why I don’t believe it is constructive to use such terms to describe anyone let alone someone who currently occupies the most powerful office in the world is simply because once you label someone as mad – then all efforts at trying to understand his psychology along with mental profile along with inclination ceases completely.

Understand this! A mad man cannot aspire to be the president – that is an impossibility under every definition of what the term implies…besides Mr Trump has a proven record of being able to manage himself and others very effectively when it comes to comes to his business interest and promoting his personal brand as a TV personality.

All these are not easy to do!

And he has a long record of doing all this on a consistent basis – you can say he was born with a silver spoon, but what many of his critics continue to elide much to the tragedy of misinformation is he has multiplied his largesse by a couple of hundred times as a very successful businessman – and very often many of his projects involve a high degree of complexity, business acumen and mental dexterity that suggest he is someone at the very top of the game.

So let us be constructive in our analysis – let us not use the prejogative mad or crazy to describe Trump.

Now as for your description of what you choose to describe as ‘public and private sphere of consciousness’ I assume you mean those in and out of government – but then again let us not forget. These were the same people who incorrectly predicted that he would emerge the winner of the GOP let alone successfully aspire to the highest office in the land.

I think there is a very instructive lesson here – never underestimate Mr Trump as he has proven not once but many times to be able to pull rabbits out of hats to emerge as a clear winner.

Q: How do you think Trump has faired in his first 100 days in office – do you see a man who getting more and more frustrated with not being able to gainfully translate many of his election promises into something concrete?

A: I think it is quite normal for someone like Trump to experience some measure of frustration and emotional trauma – but that is only because we are dealing with someone who doesn’t have either the political pedigree or lineage of power like Bush or Kennedy. Trump knows nothing about the complexity of power and politics in Washington – he may have been able to get his way in the business world without resistance and friction, but it’s fair and accurate to say he’s definitely coming to terms with very sobering political realities in Washington.

But that is not something that is not within the realm of foreseeability and again if you go back to previous interviews I did mention in considerable length and detail how many of his wild election promises will be tempered by partisan politics, doctrine of separation of powers and what I can only continue to describe as political necessities.

Having said that Trump has certainly sorrounded himself with very thoughtful Advisors and I am sure after the going thru a period of settling or reincarnation to these new realities – we are likely to see a president who is likely to get things done instead of running into the wall all the time.

Q: How would you describe Trump’s attitude to Asia?

A: I have always maintained from day one – he has very little latitude to manuever. As many of the set pieces in the Asia theatre both economic and military are really hard points that would require him to keep to the status quo ante.

Q: What do you think about the North Korean crisis and how it might color Trump’s response to Asia?

A: I think North Korea is not a new story – the script goes something like this and it has been going on for the last 40 years since the Reagan administration…they rattle their sabres…everyone gets high blood pressure…the west agrees to enter into negotiations…eventually they give the North Koreans some concessions in the form of aid…and in this way detente is perpetuate till the next president comes in and it all starts again. That story is unlikely to change. Infact it has become so ritualised in geo political brinkmanship that in all probability it is likely to be played out exactly again like Chinese opera.

Only my feel this time round. North Korean must be a very big distraction from the other more cogent issue of how the US is haemorrhaging credibility in APEC at an alarming rate as it continues to vaccilate on how China seems to be increasing its sphere of influence in the region much to the detriment of the latter.

Q: In what way do you see China as a new threat?

A: American power is definitely on the wane in Asia. This is quite historical. As when you consider since the treaty of Spain one hundred and forty years ago, it along with the British empire has really been the two major superpowers to set the instructional and directional pace of change in the region. Now China is usurping that role thru the one belt and one road initiative – most people I imagine see this as a benign initiative and they may even surmise that it is a natural progression given that China has come of age economically, militarily, technologically and perhaps even culturally as well in the near future.

But I don’t see all this as just a natural progression – it cannot be as when one talks about OBOR, it is simply another way of saying, ‘all roads lead to Rome.’ And when a nation begins to use the language of Caesar it is really nothing short of projecting it’s power in a very deliberate and calculated manner to achieve a very defined set of economic and geo political goals.

To deny that there are economic and geopolitical forces driving OBOR is quite dumb, first many of the OBOR projects are driven exclusively by China’s vast industrial, construction and rolling stock overcapacity – mainly in steel manufacturing, heavy machinery and construction – for which the new trade route would serve as an outlet.

As China’s domestic market slows down, many of these port, rail, road and infrastructural projects abroad will likely supply the much needed tension to take up the domestic slack caused by slower economic growth.

Q: Malaysia seems to be very close to China. How do you see this alliance impacting the geo political balance of power in APEC – will this in any way affect the TPP? Is the TPP dead?

A: Not only Malaysia. I would say most countries that have a georgraphical strategic value or produce something that is vital in the global conversion chain, with the possible exception of Singapore and to a lesser degree Indonesia has benefited directly from massive Chinese investments in one form or another in the grand scheme of OBOR.

What I think needs to be understood about OBOR is its sheer scale, reach along with its capacity to rewrite the rules of global trade – its many many times bigger than the Marshall plan. And that by itself is bound to generate a lot of enthusiasm for countries that may see it as an opportunity to supercharge their economies – Malaysia it’s fair to say see it very much in that light. Other countries such as India perceive OBOR as a geo political threat as it runs thru the disputed Kashmir region – so they tend to be more circumspect of China.

That I feel is quite natural.

I know there is a lot of talk about how Malaysia is a predominantly Muslim country and there is considerable suspicion of Chinese FDI’s to threaten a spanner in the works – but I do not believe either Malaysia or any other country will not deal with China if they can materialise a nett gain or surplus in trade. That is the beauty of money – it does not smell!

And Malaysia isn’t exactly in the pink of economic health to be choosy or play hard to get either. The economic outlook is really quite precarious – in the last 30 years it’s economy has been exclusively dependent on oil revenues to shore up what I can only describe as layer upon layer of subsidise and now that oil is trading at a historical low and all indications suggest this downward trend will continue to persist, there is a desperately need to find another goose that lays golden eggs – that will certainly force the Malaysians to find new apertures of opportunities to colloborate with whoever can offer them the best deal. To exacerbate matters Malaysian oil palm which has been a very reliable revenue generator seems to be increasingly stressed by foreign market inaccessibility. Recently the EU scrapped a plan to use oil palm in their fuel for automobiles citing environment damage of oil palm cultivation. At the same time the Trump administration seems to be resurrecting their first preference for seed and cereal grain oil to placate the powerful US farmer’s lobby – so the only people who are really buying significant quantities of oil palm are the Chinese and Indians.

Bear in mind all this is occurring at a very sensitive time – elections are going to be held in Malaysia as early as some say the first quarter of 2018.

Najib and his planners are mindful of this reality and how precarious things really are – the last thing he wants now is for the entire kampung economy to collapse – productivity for agriculture and livestock has been ravaged for the last two years by El Niño. This is the time for healing. And never before has BN (Barisan Nasional) been so desperate to garner all the kampung votes. Without this in their pocket they are sunk!

So this hopefully gives you an insight into the complexity of the issues at play when we ask the question why do so many countries choose to align with China instead of the US.

It would seem this phenomenon is just confined to APEC, but it isn’t. Both the Canadians and South Americans have even publically supported China’s equivalent of the World Bank or IMF by working with AIIB. The balance of trade is slowly shifting to be more China centric. Even the Saudi’s who you can say are reliable allies of the US are beginning to align their entire global petroleum supply chain to take a significant stake of OBOR. That was why they bought into Petronas.

So this is really a global phenomenon where no country wants to be left out of OBOR….it should not be just seen as something confined strictly to Asia. Like I said the sheer scale of OBOR is really something that is quite mind boggling and you can even say never before has the world witnessed such a mammoth infrastructural project covering so many continents. So that by itself is bound to generate a lot of enthusiasm and interest.

Q: How would you compare Najib to Lee Shien loong when it comes to navigating around the geo political complexity between the US and China?

A: There is very little room for improvisation when it comes to LSL. You could even say his position is well and truly locked like a man with two feet stuck in a bucket of concrete. That is because Singapore is so invested in the US position that they have all their chips on that number and there is no choice but to bite the bullet and just see it to it’s logical or illogical end.

I don’t blame LSL. He has to work within a set of iron clad constraints and I understand.

With Najib there is a lot of room for improvisation. The Chinese want or shall I say need him in their inner circle to supply added verve to OBOR – as Malaysia is very strategic. Unlike Indonesia which is a fractured land mass. The Malaysian coast line in the western side is the only monolithic landmass that runs along the straits of malacca.

The Chinese have historically always been ultra paranoid about this piece of real estate. If you read Deng’s biography he mentions this at least seven times. On one occasion he even moots the idea of building a canal thru the Khral ismuth.

The executive summary is the straits will always be a jugular trade route to China – and by just that geographical blessing you can say Najib automatically becomes a very prestigious partner to the Chinese.

Having said that Najib is also very smart. He knows how to divide and rule. He is not so different from a modern day version of Metternich when it comes to managing both the US and Chinese. And it’s surprising very little credit is actually given to him as to how he has been able to successfully navigate thru the geo political barb wire to even get the Chinese to invest in Malaysia. Part of that I can only imagine may have something to do with how the 1MDB fiasco over shadows everything.

But if you look at what he has been able to accomplish with so very little in the form of bargaining power or balance of power it is really quite remarkable.

As for LSL all I can say he’s still got two feet stuck in a bucket of set concrete.

Q: How do you see all these development colouring the final outcome of the TPP?

A: I see the TPP as the only logical and sound response to what’s currently happening not only in the economic and geo political sphere of APEC. But it’s really part of a larger economic architecture that encapsulates a new inexorable reality as well – in the future, six of the seven largest economies in the world are projected to be emerging economies by China, India and Indonesia. The US will be relegated to fourth place in the global GDP rankings while the EU27’s share of world GDP could fall below 10% by 2050 – they will overtaken by more vigorous emerging economies like Mexico, Turkey and Vietnam respectively.

This futurescape is a Mathematical reality calculated on the basis of Malthusian science with elements of raw material conversion cost i.e how many units of electricity against man power does it take to convert bauxite into aluminium ingots – it’s a manpower against raw material calculus.

So the TPP cannot be seen in isolation – it has to viewed in the correct context of TIFA and TISS and even superimposed on not only this new Malthusian lens that I have just described along the changing new geo political realities of the future where it’s conceivable both Japan and Korea may have to weaponize their atomics if it is to meet its security needs and if the US is to play a role in blunting not only China but Asia’s rise in this new theatre – it needs to go beyond just relying on the seventh fleets carrier military doctrine to embrace a larger social economic paradigm that encapsulates trade – without strategic importance of trade to cement the military doctrine it is impossible for the US to hold on to either its primacy or sphere of influence in Asia.

Q: Why can’t the US maintain its primacy in Asia by just leveraging on its military might?

A: It can. Only it is like throwing out cannon balls to move a boat forward – that’s to say it’s a highly inefficient method to sustain its power base. The romans did it for many years with their well trained war machine. But by the third century A. D. Even they had to concede by pulling back from the Rhine-Danube frontier because the sheer cost of maintaining their empire required them to cannibalize their public services. So did the ancient Chinese, they too embarked on a massive building project of the Great Wall to blunt Mongolian aggression and for a while they succeeded but ultimately it bankrupted them.

My point is thru out history starting from the Romans right to the Ottomans and perhaps the Austro Hungarian alliance and to the Soviet Union – its proven to be quite robust…it’s impossible to hold on to power by just relying on the skill of arms of military might. As at some point it will become a liability.

It’s conceivable this tipping point has already been breached. As many Americans are now beginning to question why should America Bear the burden of being a global policeman? In an age of budgetary constraints – I really don’t see the US being able to build ten more Nimitz class carriers to what they already have in their blue water inventory…because if you talk about just using military might as a means of carving primacy. That is precisely the calculation that is required.

The TPP I feel is a much better instrument to accomplish US goals and aspirations in that direction at virtually no cost. It’s highly efficient because what you are relying on is just a supranational legal framework that masquerades as a free trade agreement when all it really is, is to get every nation that signs on to buy into a common rule book of how to trade and who they can trade with and under a set of agreed terms where the primary beneficiary just happen to the US corporatist.

Q: So your feel is most countries in APEC are ambivalent to the TPP?

A: Not all. Japan is very gung ho. Because Abe sees it as the only means to reform the archaic agricultural sector that desperately and urgently needs reforming but since it has acquired the appellation of sacred. No Japanese politician will broach it unless he wants to commit career hara kiri.

Singapore wants needs it very badly because it wants to write in stone it’s status as a free port that will certainly allow her to continue rent seeking from volume trade regionally instead of having to compete with other ports who may decide to steal her core industrial sectors in petroleum refinery, port and sea related services and also to support the rest of its service orientated economy.

In both cases I understand the urgency of the need. Especially in the case of Singapore because she is too invested in the global economy, so when the volume of trade begins to shrink, it is immideately registered in a shortfall in the number of container ships dropping anchor in Singapore.

But the rest of the countries don’t seem to have that sort of urgency to be TPP members simply because they might not necessarily be better off. The Philippines for example will certainly not be better off – as since they are an archipelago, their cost for food production will always be comparatively higher and less efficient than let’s say Vietnam that is a monolithic land mass complete with the Mekong running thru it’s length and breadth – so rice production will always be more efficient and productive in Vietnam when compared to the Philippines.

My point is there will be winners and of course losers – but the big winners will be the US corporatist. As for the rest they have to make do with higher priced medication and having to live under the aegis of pheltora of intellectual property supranational laws that in my opinion do absolutely nothing whatsoever to alleviate chronic proverty or for that matter contribute towards higher levels of personal or organizational emancipation.

Q: So I take it you are not an ardent fan of the TPP?

A: Go read my previous entries I have never been a fan of the TPP. From day one I have called it for what it actually is in my humble opinion. A cheap man’s apparatus to blunt China’s sphere of influence in APEC by trying to put her in some straight jacket where she will be marooned and isolated. And I think it’s stupid, because China cannot be contained.

But just because a plan or strategy happens to be stupid doesn’t mean that very sane and reasonable people will still not pick it up and see fit to implement it.

The way I see it – this is really the only way for the US to nourish its primacy in APEC. There is no other way.

Q: Trump has publicly stated in his election campaign he will torpedo the TPP. Do you think in light of what you shared with us the TPP will be come back to life from the dead?

A: I don’t think it will necessarily come back from the dead as the TPP. As what you mentioned is very true. Mr Trump has invested too much of his prestige and reputation in seeing the TPP out of the door – you’re very perceptive, it’s very difficult if not impossible to effect a U turn.

But I believe the TPP will be reincarnated again in another shape and form simply because so much has already been invested in getting member state buy in. And some of these concessions are really quite painful for these countries to bear. For example I was frankly quite shocked by how much Japan was willing to give up just to be part of the TPP. So a lot of table talk time has already been invested. But the one thing that will guarantee the return of the TPP is the US stands to get the most out of this agreement contrary to what many of its detractors continue to insist. These people have simply not read the specifics of the TPP. I have.

The primary beneficiary will be US firms. As what is often elided in the marketing manifesto of the TPP is while it is true that it will cover 40% of global trade. What it doesn’t specifically mention is the US accounts for 22% of that advertised percentile. So the US stands to benefit the most.

The irony is most Americans don’t even know how to do simple arimethic, so they think their jobs will melt away and go to China. But how can that be when the TPP specifically excludes China!

Hence it’s only a matter of time when the TPP will be passed. In my opinion it is not a question of IF but when and how.

This is the only way for Trump to outflank China. There is no other way. The biscuit tin is empty. And what I just mentioned are the realities. Other people can live in a cloud of illusion if they so desire. But as for me I am ultra clear where and how the chips will fall when it comes to Mr Trump and the TPP.

In every meaningful and intelligent conversation concerning food. There will of course be the set pieces of power and politics along with perhaps economies of scale and the outrage of how so few decide how and what the rest of humanity regular consumes ….I imagine there might even be some passionate talk about what we should all rightly eat – but at some point in this hypothetical conversation about food. If we are to remain gainfully intelligent….we would ultimately not have to talk plainly about land and opportunity and yield. At some point we may find ourselves incursing on that other unspeakable domain..then are we not actually talking about Lebensraum in earnest?

Whether they are or not is not for me to say….I have my own private thoughts concerning this subject that I do not have an obligation to make public…only it is something compelling to think further about.

Is it not?

So let us not pretend that it is possible to talk about land, farming, economies of scale, genetically modified food, herbicides and to somehow elide the most important facet of the discussion.

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‘Do I think that on the eve of the Arab spring when Hosni Mubarak was ousted from power it was mere coincidence that the price of wheat flour in the bazaars of Cairo suddenly shot up by 40%?

Do you really think I believe bales of corn flour grown in Nebraska bearing the perfidious faced caption ‘a gift from the American people’ dropped by the WFP in famine stricken Africa moves me to tears?

What about genetically modified crops? Do you really believe I see this as man’s altruistic expression to better his fellow man? How about Cargill going into Africa….has it got anything to do with uplifting the lives and standard of living of most Africans? What about China’s fixation to build railways that even connects the East Coast of Mozambique to the fertile plains of Uganda and Coite de noire might that also have something to do with the whole idea of benefitting mankind? Or coming to think of it…do I really think Olam is just a firm trading cashew nuts and dabbling in futures just to create more value for their shareholders…..In every meditation of the spheres that I have mentioned.

I see not only the bygone age of the machinations of imperialism, subjugating the masses for the sake of the profit of motive, but also the equation of power and politics. Above all I see the struggle for land, space and of course every aspect of what I can only describe as the Clausewitzian definition of the continuation of politics by other means….to put another way, it is lebensraum.

Yes it is fortunate is not that it is just an imaginary conversation. But pray tell, if all other nations choose to play this game and you don’t…then where does it leave you?….There are times when I wished that I did see so many things that I see. As it is usually a cause of profound sadness for me.’

It is very big mistake to force Singapore farmers to adopt high technology to boost productivity. All this will do is increase the price of Singapore farm produce to such a point where it makes far more sense to continue importing farm produce from abroad instead of encouraging local commercial farming.

If the goal is to increase Singapore’s food security imperative – then Farmers should be given every encouragement possible to venture outside Singapore where land and water and labor is not only cheaper but also abundant as well.

They should farm elsewhere and export ONLY to Singapore.

Whatever ‘farming’ land in Singapore should only be university to train a new creed of frontier men.

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‘No matter how you look at it commercial farming of both agri and livestock in Singapore will always be a lousy proposition no matter how you cut and splice it…this has nothing to do with intelligence, work ethic or for that matter how viable one’s business plan may be and everything to do the mathematics of what one is up against when one decides to start a farming enterprise in Singapore.

Bear in mind I am not saying vertical farming, hydroponics and even piped light cannot boost yield – that is not what I am saying. It can. But what is the point of all this great diffusion of energy….surely for something to have an intrinsic value for it to be worth doing – it would also have to be something that produces a gain or at least a competitive advantage. So what if Singaporean farmers build up the skill of arms to farm using space age high tech methods – does it really translate to cheaper produce for the end user in the supermarket? Can they really make a significant dent in the annual deficit of food produce into the island of Singapore?

When one considers that the cost of growing these produce will always be cheaper in neighbouring countries where land, utilities, labor and cost will always be significantly cheaper. Then that sweet point is where all the state’s resources should be wisely focussed instead of trying to reinvent the wheel by pursuing some pie in the sky strategy of leveraging on high tech.

So the way I see it will always be like this – the most capable farmers in Singapore should be given plenty of incentives to move their operations abroad. The role of AVA is to formulate strategies to support that sort of off shore network thru a series of staging post and by streamlining the logistics and approval at source. If possible AVA should do away with this medieval idea of of just being a glorified customs clearance office – they should specify how food should be grown in these off shore farms and even go as far as to relocate some of their operations to oversee food production at source point rather than just being a jaga of the gate in Singapore when it comes to food imports.

Where possible the most capable farmers should be pushed out of their comfort zone…as that is really where they can grow sustainably instead of wasting their time trying to do stupid things like tinkering with pallets of iceberg lettuce so that they can get more day light exposure by moving up and down just to track the sun. Why even need to bother about all that nonsense when they could just as well open up a new green field in those countries where land is cheap and abundant.

Of course when I talk like this everyone calls me Adolf Hitler….of course when I posit this way of how affordable and quality food should and can be brought to the table for the average Singaporean to enjoy some idiot in blogoland will always say, look he’s talking about Lebensraum again!

But it is precisely this big imperialistic mindset that has to be fostered in perhaps the same way the British planter of the imperial age relocated all the way to Malaya to plant rubber so as to keep the factories in Manchester and Birmingham well stocked with raw material or how they did the same for tea, coffee, spices right down to the humble table salt.

Instead we have bureaucrats quibbling over a measly 60 hectares! When all around them. There is land, land and land!

This is insanity!’

The dry season is just around the corner. I can sense it’s gradual approach. Usually this is the time when I will conduct a series of rigorous checks on my car. I usually don’t wait for anything to die on me all of a sudden – as that can often be catasthropic when one is stuck deep in the jungle with major repairs….usually I try to catch the things that will go wrong before they fail on me.

In the dry season the plantation roads are very different from the wet season – filters have a tendency to foul and clog…shock absorbers need to be adjusted for a longer range of travel to accommodate rocky and hard driving conditions and usually I take this opportunity to right the things that would normally need righting along with conducting a range of checks.

Whenever I strip down the wheel assembly I much prefer to work with my own backyard mechanics – they don’t have much skill or for that matter deep knowledge…but since they’re keen to learn from a frontier man and consider me a sort of guru and don’t mind me poking them and scolding from time to time – they actually consider it a privilege to work alongside someone like me…that sort of die die want to learn attitude is something I can work with despite their low skill rating. We seem to have a very happy working relationship…the way it works is like this…they do something that is completely wrong like reinsert the rack and pinion pin the wrong way and I tell them sardonically, you’re all good for nothing. They laugh and proceed to strip it out and do it all over again to step by step instructions….I don’t mind working with people who don’t have the requisite knowledge providing they know their place and have the courtesy to remain humble in my presence.

But I never ever tolerate bullshiters and lazy mechanics who have absolutely no idea what they’re doing and still insist on independence….I always insist on micro managing my mechanics. In my book there is no such thing as I leave it to you…go for lunch and come back and collect the car in three hours…that sort of blasé atttiude doesn’t exist when it comes to something as jugular as my car!

You think what this is crossover project by CHC or some other con job by new creation church ah!

You want my business. You have to accept that I will be supervising everything like a hawk…I don’t even take toilet breaks! I have the right to breathe over your shoulder.

The way I see it – I have a lot of knowledge when it comes to mechanics. I put myself thru university at one time working with John Deere tractors and ABB power turbines as a class 1 city and guilds certified Mechanic in the U.K – so when it comes to machines….I am at the very top of skill food chain.

Even when I send it in to the Toyota workshop where patrons are usually not permitted to wander the work area. I happen to have a special letter from the president of toyota motors that even allows me into the restrictive zones. I like to deal with people who are very serious about improving their products and service. Toyota motors just happens to be one of those outfits. It is especially keen to know first hand what improvements are actually needed in the field to make better cars…they are so enthusiastic whenever I send my car in usually a special team is usually flown in from Japan just to gather many of my inputs.

I would have much preferred to drive a Land Rover. As to be honest I consider actually consiser that to be a better car for the field. But since they told me flatly that I don’t have the right to butt in….so they lost my business.

This bushing for the shock absorber is close to 90% failure. Had it disintegrated in the field – I would probably end up at a bottom of a ravine.

Replaced!

Bracket arm for the shock absorber is completely bent. Must have hit a rock or something real hard. It needs to be reformed with a blow torch back to the right angle and realigned with wheel set.

Done!

I am happy with the work today. She’s good to go!

King Kong will follow me…we will be happy there.

‘Wherever I go…I will be successful. As I have never ever considered autism as a disability or affliction – I declared total war on that idea…I am the clearest manifestation of its destroyer – so I realised from the moment of my youth I had an obligation to be stronger and more determined and hungrier that all other men to just earn the right to lead a ‘normal’ life.

I belong to a rare variety of men who can wake up on the crack of dawn and work with my hands till sun down…seven days a week for 365 days a year. I don’t need holidays like ‘normal’ people. I can do the same thing again and again without ever grumbling or tirring. I have great a great wealth of knowledge in my head concerning all things relating to nature – I can take a clump of dirt roll it in between my index finger and thumb and bring it to my nostrils and in a while great possibilities will open up before me when all other men see only barren land. I live a simple life free of illusions and affectations and I am a prudent investor who believes in saving and not spending unnecessarily….so don’t worry about me.

I will prevail…we will win!’

I was very happy to read a scheme for Police K-9 dogs, where K-9 dog handlers who reside in HDB flats can adopt their retired sniffer dogs. I think this pilot expansion of “Project ADORE” by MND is a very good start as it is very natural for dog handlers to bond with their four legged work buddies – the relationship between man and dog is first and foremost based on love, respect and mutual trust….both man and dog can only be happiest together.

Many of these working dogs have given their best years in loyal service of Singapore to protect, interdict threats and keep evil from our shores.

They don’t have many years left…that is the natural cycle of dogs when they grow old. They tend to require more love, attention and care as when a dog grows old they are not unlike humans who age. They will begin to lose their vigor, acuity and health. Often this shift can frighten them resulting in anxiety. But since their handlers are around. In those moments at least these canines can take comfort in having a familiar friend around and it’s much better than dying feeling scared and lonely all the time in some cold concrete kennel.

I am sure all of those who have handled dogs in a professional capacity will have very little trouble agreeing with me – this is not something we all like to ever see. Use, throw and forget – it’s poisonous for professionalism and esprit de corps.

I am very grateful for the government of Singapore to have the rare spark of wisdom and imagination in experimenting to open this new sanctuary for senior citizen canines – it is not easy I can imagine to roll out this project in HDB’s. As the tendency is to always to veer to the status quo.

By embarking on this route it will certainly instill character, discipline and deep knowledge in the art of dog handling thereby nourishing professionalism in a K-9 force – my hope is as more senior citizen large breeds such as Rotweillers, Alsatians and Doberman feature in the mix eventually, this will hopefully eradicate many of the misconceptions, prejudices and negative perception concerning large breeds by educating the general public on what I have always known concerning dogs – they are truly man’s Best Friend.

They deserve the right to be treated with respect and dignity and love in their twilight years.

The gentleman’s name is the Tan Sri Dato’ Sri Khalid Abu Bakar he is the IGP of Malaysia. From what I’ve heard from my circle of powerful friends in KL he is a very reasonable and level headed man who has a deep appreciation, respect and remains a very humble servant of the rule of law.

I know there are many many evil rumors about the IGP in the internet, but I don’t think many can be believed without first questioning their motive along with who is actually responsible for generating all these lies.

In Malaysia it is very easy for evil people to use lies to bring down a good man. So easy. It happens all the time. All that needs to be done is to mix some facts with lies and that is really all it needs to bring down a good man.

When I next visit the capital, Kuala Lumpur. I will make it a point to call on this gentleman in Bukit Aman on a matter of utmost importance to the country.

I will speak very plainly and inform the IGP, ‘Tuan ada samseng kachau saya di Kampung’ – (Sir, there are some low lives hassling me in the village) I will go on tell the IGP. Given the severity of the matter, I have no choice but to reconsider my long term plans to stay and take Malaysian agriculture into the 21st century as since I am constantly living under a cloud of fear. I may have to seriously consider taking up an offer from the Ukrainian ministry of agriculture and livestock to migrate there and instead grow cereal crops….which incidentally is true they have made such an offer.

When the IGP hears this he will be very concerned as in Malaysia nothing is more important than agriculture and since there are very few men who actually have special knowledge in this specific area at the level of the field – I am sure the gentleman will do everything within his powers to alleviate my concerns along with palliate my fears and even do his level best to convince me to stay on in Malaysia and continue my important work for the sake of Rakyat, King and country.

I will tell the IGP a two bit gangster who reckons he is some Al Capone of the Kampung where I turn the wheel of life and his co-conspirators are planning to frame me on trump up charges and I have reasonable cause to believe they mean to make me disappear forever.

There is every reason to believe plans are actually afoot even at the very moment of this blog entry that this can happen at any moment.

It is no secret here that I bow to no man especially a bunch of cheap gangsters or any of his lackeys.

I never bow to threats. I will not!

This is why these evil people are out of destroy me with crooked means. As they have tried on numerous attempts to cheat me on land deals and on virtually every single occasion I have not only exposed them but also openly ridicule them along with out manuvering them to further my business interest.

If they have any pride and guli’s as a man they should try to out do me in business.

That I can only imagine is why they can’t bear to see me being successful as given time they know I will grow bigger and bigger in these parts.

In cowboy towns where I am – this is how politics and power is conducted. Whenever someone from outside comes in and they rise too fast this is their way to keep them in their place…thru crooked means.

When I sit down for a chat with this gentlemen I will tell him very frankly who these people are, what their motivation is, along with how they mean to carry out their designs and who I suspect is involved.

Given the strategic nature of my expertise and field of knowledge in plantations I have every reason to believe my case will be expedited.

I will also make it a point to meet up with the Malaysian anti corruption agency depending on how the meeting transpires with the IGP.

I will go directly to the very TOP. If need be I will even go directly to the office of the prime minister of Malaysia. As that is the only effective way to deal work chronic corruption and abuses in Malaysia.

I am very confident my problem will be solved and I can return to my important work of taking agriculture in Malaysia to the twenty first century and beyond. Nothing must be allowed to stop progress.

Like I said my friends. I have only heard good things about this man from my circle of friends…I remain very hopeful.

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‘In the next two months I have plans to experiment with a new genus of oil palm that I have spent seven years developing that I plan to grow on a new twenty acre plot of land. If this variety of crop proves successful – it will have the capacity of doubling palm oil out put in Malaysia. In one stroke Malaysia will again be the largest producer of oil palm. I have kept this plans secret. Only a few people know about the existence of this project….nothing can stop this. It is too important.’

Lawrence Wong recently mentioned the few and precious plots of land gazetted for farming in Singapore will be tendered out with longer 20-year leases instead of the previously mooted 10-year blocks.

By adopting this lazy boy policy of leaving it entirely to the competitive bidding process where price is the final determinant rather than what actually needs to be crafted to create conditions that will alleviate Singapore’s dependence on global production to fulfil Singapore’s food security imperative – all he and the Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority of Singapore (AVA) will ever do is attract businessmen who are likely to use cheap imported labor to farm high yielding crops which can probably realise a good return on investment – that model I don’t doubt may very well make business sense, but it is hardly a coherent strategy to implement a sustainable food security blue print.

For that imperative to be meet Singapore need to train more farmers.

For Singapore to develop farming core competencies that is able to add value to the imperative of food security – it is a matter of strategic precondition to invest in people by further opening up more avenues for our brightest minds to undertake a paradigm shift to hopefully see farming as a credible means of actualizing their life goals.

Many young people in Singapore genuinely want to be fish or crop farmers but they don’t know how to acquire either the skill sets or confidence to do so as it is very much a closed industry cloaked in considerable mystery….steps should be undertaken to break open the unhealthy monopolies of knowledge in this sector like any other sector to make it accessible for the masses.

Hence the criteria for awarding land concession to farm should be based solely on how many farmers can the firm train within a given period of time that fufills the needs of the country’s food security imperative and not simply based on what they are willing to pay for the concession.

Furthermore by doubling the ten year leases all Lawrence Wong is likely to do is entrench the corrosive attitude where Singapore is likely to have the most parochial, insular, laziest and most unimaginative farmers in the whole wide world….in short it is a recipe for disaster.

This is a very instructive lesson in statecraft when a sheep is tasked to do a foxes job….he will sell the shop for five cents.

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‘The way I see it is very cold and calculating – let me speak plainly on this subject if a government is willing to spend X dollars on purchasing a leopard tank and Y dollars to train personnel and Z to amortize its cost to zero thru a given period of time – then it could be said it has reconciled itself to certain immovable realities with the intent to further its security and strategic imperatives.

Then why isn’t it doing the same for food security in land scare Singapore by creating conducive conditions where more young people can gain core skills in farming?

Maybe what I have just written doesn’t quite hit home. Let me try one more time….if you conduct a cursory examination of the agri scene in Singapore. One thing will really only stand out…everyone in AVA knows this, even the jaga in the guardhouse and the tea auntie in AVA office in Jurong knows this…the only person who doesn’t seem to know this is Lawrence Wong that is why he increased the land concession from ten to twenty years – the agri industry in Singapore is all populated by the SAME people who have always been there and they are basically doing the SAME thing albeit with very minor improvements. I call this the media corpes dead wood syndrome (MCDW) – as the phenomenon is not dissimilar to how every year the Singapore arts council will only ever give money to the SAME catchet of prehistoric actors and actresses who are also the SAME people who incidentally churn out the SAME shit that they even have the gall to past off to their terminally bored audience as the arts…..it’s the same shit, different day phenomenon.

You want to know why this classic textbook case of reinforcing failure occurs – it’s because hardly any impetus for new blood to revivify the industry is features in the blue print. Result: some thing akin to an old boy’s mutual appreciation club becomes entrenched in the scene, where the same people who all do the same thing continue to feature and since they all have only a vested interest to perpetuate the status quo ante…they obstruct others from coming into the industry.

I am not exaggerating this how the agri sector really is in Singapore. It is basically filled with the same people who have been doing the same thing who will even proudly tell you and I if you ask them – how long have you been doing this?

Oh it all started with my great great great great Grandfather who first started this so many years ago when Parameswara first saw a lion roaming around here….that’s to say there is new blood coming into the industry and that is the reason why these MCDW’s all need to move out of Singapore and make space for the new order.

I know what I have to say may well come across as counter intuitive but my logic is these SAME people who have always been doing the SAME thing in Singapore should by all logical accounts no longer be here….they should have by now acquired so much core competence in their respective field of farming to expand beyond our shores to Dubai, Indonesia or any other country where the cost of food production is dramatically lower than in Singapore….that is what every food security blue print MUST incorporate as an indelible feature to be sustainable…that is actually how all agri firms grow WITHOUT a single exception….Cargill, ADM and United Foods contrary to popular myth don’t ever grow their cereals and corn in Nebraska or the wheat belt in the USA…they used too, but once they acquire critical mass in these skill of arms – they like their kinsmen in the auto or electronics industry or any other business that has reached a growth maturity cycle in their business, all without exception spread their wings abroad to discover lower cost centers and economies of scale – today only ten percent of all cereals consumed by Americans are grown in the US, they rest are grown in green field sites in Africa, South America and even in the Ukraine where the cost of food production per hectare is dramatically lower than what it can ever hope to be in the US. And this is the ONLY reason why America is able to feed herself the rest of the world – because it has a business ecology where are big boys are forced to move out thereby making room for new blood to come into the farming industry, to renew the industry by revivify it with new and innovative knowledge that can only come from a healthy inflow and outflow of human capital.

But in Singapore it seems that both AVA and Lawrence Wong really only wants to baby no end the SAME useless people who are all doing the SAME useless thing and since no one in AVA ever has the imagination to light a fire under their comfy seat – why are you still here breeding frogs for congee porridge in Geylang for the last three generations? Why aren’t you in Xiamen where the cost is just one tenth? Haven’t you learnt anything in the last three generations how to expand your business abroad? What the fuck is wrong with you? Hey we need this parcel of land to train the next cohort of frog breeders when are you going to grow a brain and move out and make way for new blood? Why are you still relying on government handouts after three bloody generations of doing the same thing? Aren’t you ashamed? Or why are you doing stupid things here like building vertical farming kits to grow bock Choy in Singapore when you should be in Dubai or Israel and don’t even have to bother with that sort of shit as FDI farming projects there enjoy subsidised rates of electricity that will allow you to grow on accelerated lamps at night as well? What the hell is going on man?

As a consequence no new blood can ever revivify the agri sector in Singapore as it’s literally in a fossilized state of stasis….Singapore should never be a place for any business to farm in perpetuity. We don’t nearly have enough land to entertain that sort of entitlement business model – it should ideally just be like an aircraft carrier where one learns the ropes and when the time comes they take right off or crash into the sea whichever and they move out and make room for new blood to come in to do the same – the focus should be on throughput in producing a critical mass of competent Farmers – this in my opinion is the only way to built sustainable core competencies in farming……as it is what does Lawrence Wong do? He rewards ineptitude and a total of failure of imagination by actually capitulating this useless people by extending their land concession by 20 years!

Watching all this unfold is truly unbelievable where I am sitting. I cannot believe this travesty of logic is actually happening and not a single parliamentarian has actually stood up and asked, ‘hey why are you reinforcing failure by awarding this same useless people ten extra years!’

This is my understanding of the CHC case….however I could be wrong, so do feel free to correct me.

First trial. Most of the judges got it right on the sentencing part? Am I right?

Second trial. They got it wrong? By reducing the sentence by discounting it across the board by 50% on technical grounds…so were they right or wrong on the sentencing?

Now there is going to be third apex trial to decide once and for all on the ‘right’ sentencing again?

To me there has to be something very wrong with this picture. As an issue once decided should not be raised again….to be allowed it to be raised the second time is bad enough, but for the third time some thing is definitely very very wrong. As even if the judges get it righter than right this third time, they have to be wrong in so many ways.

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You should get both – that is to say do your degree….then get a skill.

After all why should you put your trust in ‘leaders’ who don’t seem to be asking their own children to do what they tell other people’s children to do?

Think!

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‘Get a degree. Because if they say a degree does not confer you a competitive advantage these days. Then that’s the minimum baseline.

Don’t listen to all these funny leaders…because if you have a degree even if it happens to be from a tin pot university…it’s still nonetheless a degree….whether it has any instrinsic value is NOT for the custodians of power to determine. They are not God. That’s entirely a matter of perception for the market to determine…besides once you have a degree. It’s yours for life and no one can ever take it away from you.

Is a degree useless now in Singapore? Maybe…perhaps…could be….who really knows?

But a degree is still a degree and what makes you think you will have the luxury to work all your life in Singapore?

Maybe you have to work elsewhere and should you be forced to do that, then maybe you should go further to ask if a degree is so evacuated of all intrinsic value then why do both the immigration services and employers of EVERY single government in the world including North Korea regularly ask for your highest academic qualifications? Why don’t they ask you instead the name of your goldfish or what is the highest level you managed to get into in the world of Warcraft?

So please don’t talk rubbish to me!

Now if you want to know how important a degree is in life – then go and ask Alvin Tan. He had a bite at a degree, but since his philosophy in life is you only live once….he decided to throw it all away and now he’s degreeless…so go and ask him how easy is it to navigate thru the complexity of working life in the US without a degree. Go and ask whether employers give two hoots whether he used to be an ASEAN scholar in a top university in Asia…Does Alvin Tan know about the law enough to talk convincingly about deeper aspects of jurisprudence? Yes….but talk is really all he can really do….again he has no degree….so he can’t monetise on that area as a subject matter expert…it’s like a Ferrari with no engine.

So the moral of the story is go and get a degree FIRST….see that mile stone of your life to its logical end and be done with it – to me it’s a bit like NS. Whether it is useful or not is not the point. What’s important is you do it. Then you don’t ever have to do it again.

What is important is a degree is a benchmark of competence.

But even should you say everyone these days is a degree holder and it has lost its value then it’s like saying everyone has legs and you better have a pair yourself then – that’s how I see it really. Otherwise be prepared in life to justify why everyone seems to have a degree in life….except maybe YOU!

Besides if you skip or decide to short cut that milestone of your life experience then it will be very difficult for you to revisit it again – I am not saying it cannot be done….but it will come at a very disruptive cost. So finish it off when the cost and pain factor is still relatively Low.

Only after you have a degree then talk about whether you want to be a cobbler or someone who puts together stain glass windows to get by in life.’

Ritchie

May 8, 2017

Ritchie wasn’t just there when I started all this. He was always there with me thru thick and thin….from the very beginning he was always there. Truth is ritchie wasn’t just a dog. He was actually a human pretending to be a dog….it’s raining now. I went to his grave just then and dug out all his bones with my hands. I can’t help it…I miss my friend. I told him that he was callous to just leave me in the way he did….I will bring Ritchie back from the dead again. Death will have no dominion over him….if need be I will go to that dreaded other side and drag him out by the collar.

I can’t help it I miss my dear and loyal friend…why does the world have to always take away everyone I love and care for…why can’t it just leave us alone.

Why?

I had to go to the island of Penang to meet up with a group of heritage building designers who are all dying to see me….it seems they all consider me a great visionary for whatever reasons I have absolutely no idea….that it always seems is the story of my life. Whenever people see me they are usually very excitable, enthusiastic and over the rainbow…why that should be has and will I suspect always be one of the enduring mysteries of my life….I really have no idea what the fuss is all about….but that is really how it is.

It is always very difficult for me to venture into the cityscape without my dogs….I always feel vulnerable and naked without the protection of my four legged friends. But as soon as I arrived at site I did manage to make friends with a couple of stray dogs who followed and even guarded over me….that comforted me a lot.

After sitting for a two hour presentation I had lunch with these designers. It is very difficult for me to be so close to people. I don’t feel comfortable at all….as I usually dine alone – fortunately I am in a position in life where before anyone even who comes in contact with me. He or she is first briefed on do’s and don’t’s – I don’t shake hands not even casually…instead I greet others like a red indian by raising my hand with a friendly ‘how’.

I have a morbid fear of being touched. I cringe quite visibly whenever I am touched. I need to wash my hands immediately whenever that happens with a bristle brush for at least a full hour. All electronic electronic devices must be switch off or handed over to the front desk for safe keeping….as I don’t want the NSA, CIA and Mossad to track me. The restaurant must be evacuated of all patrons and I even bring along my own cutlery and cook on tow.

Fortunately no one thinks I am weird and even if they do – they have the social intelligence to keep it to themselves…..this incidentally is the power of money – it can alter not only behavoiral norms in others but it also has the capacity to shift perception to such an extent where I am even normal and all others who don’t do what I choose to do….abnormal – cut to the chase, it was a very productive day. I was able to hammer out many many issues along with motivate the whole team….I will show you all my project once it is finished.

I was supposed to stay the night in a hotel. But since I missed my dogs terribly. I declined a presidential suite. I drove back instead. When I arrived at about five. I found a very dead monitor lizard in the yard…judging from how everything had been turned upside down….it was a right mess.

I can only assume it must have been a violent fight to the death – King Kong was standing proudly next to the kill….it is hard to say who claimed the score as dogs are don’t talk a lot….monitor lizards are predators. They like nothing better than to sneak into bird houses and eat eggs…I am very happy my dogs protected my lands when I was away for the day…..I can always rely on my dogs.

I am happy to be back to the warm embrace of nature again. Nothing gives me more joy than to be close to her bosom.