February 7, 2017
You really want to know what I see in you? You’re living with something that you keep hidden deep inside. Not just anything. But something that’s really so estranged from the whole wide world that you don’t even have faith to share it with a soul. I sensed it the first time I met you. You have that look in your eyes – as if it’s cut and dried and you have made up your mind that’s what you really want and everything else is just a side dish. To tell you the truth, that could be what attracted me to you – I saw the same look of desire that I myself carry with such conviction that I actually believed it would be pointless to share it with anyone else as well. Things that I know will just leave them with that dumb founded look as if they hardly know me at all and it’s too risky to do that in Singapore. But I saw it in you the moment you looked at me and from that that moment onwards I knew deep in my heart if there is ever a soul who ever lived who could understand me….it would this man with his fiery eyes.
You know what I really want now that I know all you want to do is wallow in mud and be a farmer. What I want is for the two of us to meet somewhere by chance and not the way we did, like maybe your or me taking a seat beside each other in the MRT, or having to share a table when a cafe is packed to the brimmed.
That way. I could perhaps tell that you’ve always wanted to leave the very moment we met. That way I could have sensed so deeply your yearning. If only we could have met that way, then I wouldn’t have had to take all these detours to get here where I find out there’s nothing.
I don’t think they way we met could have possibly led me to this conclusion that you would eventually leave. This is exactly what I never expected from you.
It was a lie. The way we met. My mistake perhaps. But it was your eyes that drew me to you like a moth to a tongue of a candle. That seemed as if you needed me as much as I needed you – I should have asked you straight then when you looked at me in the way you did – what is it? But instead I choose to regard it as a silent understanding how lonely we really were and perhaps how happy we were to have finally found each other. But I was silly. I am a sentimentalist. And we all make things that aren’t there in our hearts and heads. Above all I didn’t want to spoil it. I wanted you to slowly walk up to me without ever saying a word. As there are certain things that are lost forever the moment they are explained in words.
February 7, 2017
Q: Where do you see it all going from this point onwards?
A: My position has always been super clear. Globalization as a school of thought to me has never been a sustainable idea – so my recommendation in the form of a solution has to be exactly the same solution that I have always advocated in the past.
There is a need to redefine the whole philosophy of globalization and free trade in such a way where people who work hard and who are industrious don’t get left behind simply because the system spits them out in the name of the profit motive.
Q: How should this philosophy be defined. By who? The politicians? Industrialist? Intellectuals?
A: I don’t think there is a need to reinvent the wheel – if you look around Kompf. There are some countries and even firms and we are not talking about mummy & daddy Inc here. These are very serious firms who make products or offer services that people are willing to vote with their wallets. It’s not true to say that every country has not emerged better, stronger, healthier and more optimistic from globalization – like I said there is no need to reinvent the wheel.
All that needs to be done in my considered opinion is to look at the underlying philosophy that governs these firms from every functional aspects ranging from the work compact between employer and employee to perhaps even how management and workers define organizational and personal success to derive at a list of best practices.
Q: When you speak about philosophy. Are you also talking about culture, attitudes, value and behavioral norms?
A: Of course. Let me give you an illustration. You know if you observe some firms around the world…the really good ones that have all it all together – they don’t ever promote workers who stay back after five. You want to know why because the philosophy of that firm defines that sort of method of approaching work as counter productive and in some cases it even reflects very badly on one’s productivity.
But conversely in Japan – it’s a badge of honor to die standing at your workplace – widows would proudly recount how their husbands died as he worked so hard.
Q: But isn’t Japan a great industrial power?
A: It certainly is. But it’s also going no where as well – economically at least from a strictly metric and KPI perspective – the Japanese economy has already made it to the Guinness Book three times over and a bit as the only nation that has the most prolonged period of stagnation. It’s also a nation with a huge lost or confused generation – where the youths these days don’t want to work any longer like those who came before them, simply because they have seen first hand how corrosive and hazardous work can be. So when you add and subtract all this – yes on one hand you can say Japan is certainly still a great country. But at the same time. You can deny it’s also going nowhere.
Q: So what do you see as the basic structural set pieces of this so called new philosophy that globalization desperately needs?
A: You’re not listening to me Kompf. Not as you usually would. Perceptively at least. As I said, we don’t need to reinvent the wheel – as there are already business models out there that can be retrofitted into the idea of globalization to render it more humane, egalitarian and even fair. Let me give you one illustration – at a time when both firms and government desperately need to craft a new covenant with society. Consider how crowdfunding as a business model has changed not only the way business is conducted. But alongside that change there is also a social cultural paradigm shift.
It’s not the shift that’s significant – it’s the social rammification of that shift where you could say power has devolved from officialdom to the individual – I know there is still a lot of skepticism about crowdfunding especially from a sustainability standpoint. But my point is simply to illustrate how crowdfunding has developed from just a kooky idea into a very serious and powerful finance model that can recruit ordinary people – I think the key word here is ‘include’ or inclusion. As one of the failings of globalization as a school of thought is it’s the direct opposite of that idea where you have people dressed in Italian suits driving BMW’s and staying in the four seasons sitting behind closed doors and brainstorming a grand economic architecture how we should all live along to what might make us all happiest – frankly that whole imagery was what Trump singularly leveraged on to win.
I think my second point is – when I brought up crowdfunding – It’s not really the funding part that is profoundly intriguing. Rather it’s how crowdfunding as a business model is transforming the traditional culture of how we all see things moving from the realm of theory to reality. Be it making parks funner places to perhaps even revivifying whole communities to of course funding weird projects like making elephants fly.
Q: So let me summarize. As you have thrown out a lot of ideas here. You’re saying the philosophy that governs globalization needs to be changed from the inside by the people and not top down by governments?
A: It’s a bit fuzzy now. Only because what I am proposing is so new – but it think Kompf, you’ve got the gist of it – the way I see it globalization is heavy on the top down approach it takes it’s cue from cod liver oil – as the general public is often told, it’s bitter, but good for you.
And to be honest – for the most part of globalization, it’s actually good. I am not here to say it’s a malevolent force that only produces good. But since it’s top down and non inclusive like the TPP where only those who stand to benefit most are privy to the conceptualizing the economic architecture all it does is marginalize droves of stakeholders who just feel whatever little power they still have is arbitrarily gazzumped by governments – it’s a PR disaster.
Q: Can you give us an illustrating where globalization has failed so miserably to the point where people no longer feel they’re empowered?
A: You know Kompf. Speak to any aid worker in Africa and they will probably tell one of the perennial problems is water, specifically transporting potable water. Speak to WFP, FAO, USAID. Speak to even the Aga Khan foundation to the Hare Krishna’s and they will tell you the same thing – you know what for the last fifty bloody years, the sheer amount of men and material that has been invested by all these good intentioned folk to transport water has failed. They put their best industrial engineers. Their best mechanical engineers to convince rural Africans to use their nifty water carrying contraptions and each and every one of these projects have failed.
You want to know why Kompf – because no one has ever just sat down on a rock early in the morning to watch African women walk to the well and carry water on their heads. May not deceptively simple but it’s not. As when the Africa woman puts twenty liters on her head and walks, her hips swings like a pendulum off setting the downward weight just enough so she hardly feels the weight – from a standpoint of physics, carrying water on the head is kinetically far more efficient than even military backpacks.
That’s why they all fail. What perhaps I am trying to say here is globalization isn’t an universal solution. You know I rue the passing of wet markets. I used to live in Tanah Merah. Then super big supermarkets came along and of course with volume they could provably deliver in the parlance of free trade – greater value at less cost to consumers. But if I go to Seng Shiong – I can’t my salmon deboned and cut the way the friendly uncle in the wet market knows then way I like it – I don’t get extra value. All I seem to get is stuff that I need to go back home and do extra work to get it the way I like it to be cooked. So I think globalization in some areas have gone so far that it just displaces people and most importantly the sense of community that makes living interesting. I mean if I pick up the phone – I don’t want to talk to a robot that will ask me twenty stupid questions before I actually end up talking to a human being who will ask me the same twenty questions I just answered.
My point is globalization needs a soul. Tell me ever heard of a word called simpatico?
Q: No…what about it?
A: Not going to tell you.
Q: Do you think businesses are earning too much at the expense of workers?
A: That’s a loaded question. And you know it! What I think is for way too long the trite corporate mantra is of delivering more value to the shareholder needs to be first tempered with the idea of the giving due respect to the idea of dignity of labor.
The problem with firms these days is so much of their corporate culture is an accretion of the free market in so many various shapes and forms ranging from arbitrage to how their stocks may perform in their respective bourses that the worker these days is alienated from the idea of dignity of labor that he or she is just a means to an end.
I don’t necessarily blame firms per se – I blame the people who wrote the rules of how the game is played.
And the cost to all this is staggering. Especially for a highly competitive place like Singapore that’s really at the leading edge of globalization. You know before it was just really well educated Sumiko Tan from Holland V who felt that work was more important than motherhood. But now even Sengkang Sally who works in an assembly line somewhere in Boon Lay has decided to it’s better to hang up her eggs – so at the end of the day the whole idea of the nuclear family is seen as a national liability.
Of course if you speak to politicians they will say, what to do? It’s inexorable. It’s happening all over the world! The trend is irreversible. Don’t blame us!
But what politicians will never ever tell you is, that’s one aspect of globalization.
So the whole narrative begins and ends there.
Q: What’s your point?
A: It boils down to the whole idea of how one goes about measuring success – that’s what determines the rest of the loci that follows thereafter. Again this is not new Kompf. The soviets found this out the hard way – they set five year plans on measuring organizational success for their glass factories in tonnage and what they ended up with were glass goblets which were so heavy people were using them as door stoppers and paper weights. Then someone said, we are still short of glasses in the Soviet Union – so they changed the metrics to quantity of glasses produced and when that happened factories began churning out thin delicate wine glasses that were so fragile that they had to spend a bomb on just packaging them with extra stiff cardboard that cancelled out the gains.
My point is globalization is a bit like that – since it’s driven by only by the metric of delivering greater value to the shareholder, it optimizes everything in the name of the profit motive – you’re in your forties, well there’s even an actuarial software that can calculate what your utility against your renumeration would be in cold and metallic utility terms. Next thing you know. You’re retrenched. Because for what they pay you – they can probably get three graduates from some third world country to not only do your job, but probably out perform you.
To exacerbate the workers lot these days. Now you have automation and robots – today you still see humans driving trains, buses and planes. But one day all and much more would be done with digitalization and programs and where do all these people go? What do they do? Do they sit at home and watch TV all day?
Q: I do get the feeling you do actually share some of Trump’s sentiments, especially when you talk about the idea of dignity of labor, respect for the worker. How much does your thinking converge with his?
A: The difference between Trump and me is he’s I suspect a sentimentalist – where he might even harbor the belief it’s possible to return back to the good olde cottage industry days of little house in the Prairie or that other TV serial Bonanza – where everyone including Hop Seng has clearly defined roles and they all have jobs.
I on the other hand am a realist. Globalization as a school of thought. Even state of mind is irreversible – the tragedy is that it’s not as if globalization makes compelling sense that perpetuates it – it’s just that most nations these days are so addicted to the narcotic of growth at all cost. Even destroying the environment is just a punctuation mark – that it has become the only game in town.
And let me be prosaic. In any game. In the beginning. You may exert control over the outcome. But at some point – it’s no longer a case of how well you play the game as much as how it will play you.
And that’s really where we are in the chessboard of world affairs.
Q: What would your advise be to the average Singaporean worker in the background of these changes that you see between the altering compact between firms and employees?
A: Globalization is a self perpetuating equation that will only sharpen and heighten as time goes by – it’s like one of those machines that squeezes out every drop from an orange. And that simply means the life cycle of a job will get shorter. If it’s twenty years now. In five to six years may be fifteen or even less and that means the aperture for upward mobility for most workers will get shorter. Those are the lucky ones – most will just get retrenched before the end of their natural life cycle.
Of course government being government will always prescribe training. But anecdotal evidence suggest this is at best rain dancing.
For me the only sustainable approach is to start an enterprise. To have the end in the mind from the very beginning when one enters the workforce – to always be curious and even be inquisitive enough to always ask, how can I insert myself in the value chain as an independent contractor, product or service provider….when I decide to start my own enterprise – it’s doesn’t necessary have to be high tech based. Don’t be drawn in by that hype and spin. To be honest with you all this preoccupation with innovation and creativity pays out lousy dividends. Just look at the Fortune 500 list. How may high tech companies even make it for a full ten year run. Very few. The ones that sustain. The ones that growth steadily and pay out good dividends are the boring firms that only use high tech to balance their accounts and very little else. So don’t fixated with technology.
Because if you fall into that trap you’re just cutting off an entire field of possibilities for yourself.
You know I happen to know of hotel workers who eventually started laundry services when hotels decided to outsource their entire laundry cleaning to contractors. There are many doors that can open when one is inquisitive – but don’t do stupid things like start a cup cake shop or a gourmet coffee outlet just because everyone is doing just that – that’s not business. It’s just infanticide when you decide to follow what everyone is doing.
Find your own niche. It takes some time. And you might not always get the recipe right the first time – so be kind to yourself. As most of it doesn’t come by following the yellow brick road that everyone else is walking on – just go your own way. You know I happen to know this cycling enthusiast who makes specialized components for stuff that’s not even profitable for big companies to produce. He started small with a mini lathe the sort that hobbyist would use and worked in between his day job and now he has steady orders that keeps him busy 24/7 just fulfilling global orders.
Today he’s big and his products are even on aircrafts.
Like I said it doesn’t have to be necessarily high tech or even space age – it just needs to be something that fulfills a need that people are willing to vote with their wallet.
I mean Singapore is not exactly a stimulating place to inspire enterprises so it takes a lot effort. With dead wood outfits like HDB and URA who have been around for over fifty years and they don’t even see the value in investing core competence in tropical architecture…it’s very hard to get inspired. Or just having enterpenuers who seem to only know how to build malls and run hotels and very little else.
But don’t let that demoralize you – my point is try to look at it all from the inside out. That’s what a job gives you. A vantage to see opportunity. Like even in my job as a farmer. There are many things I want to buy, but it doesn’t exist – I want a wheel barrow that is power assisted. So that if I press a button it would allow me to conserve energy uphill. Go do that and I promise you that I will pull up to your drive way in a Mercedes 500SEL and write a cheque there and then for four containers of battery powered wheelbarrows. No talking!
To me there is something very wrong with the picture when all everyone seems to do is to make cars drive by themselves when the basics like pushing a wheelbarrow hasn’t even been sorted yet.
And leads me to my second point – there’s a lot of myopia, blinkered and tunnel vision out there that hasn’t really been clear commercially harvested yet – but know the process – how do I know there is a demand for this sort of thing? Because I happen to have a habit of working alongside my farm hands from time to time – and that enables me to see and understand their work from the inside out to get insights.
So that is what I mean by looking at things from the inside out – it’s not a complicated metaphysical thing or even zen attitude where you have to sit cross legged for one hour every day – it just means you have an attitude that is strategic where before you even start a thing. You already have the end in mind.
But do it your way. Rely on no one. They will just let you down or tell you stupid things that will just demotivate you.
February 6, 2017
I’ve just returned from the jungle. I like collect wood. Not any run of the mill timber – but the weathered and hard variety with fascinating burrowed shapes and rustic tones. Usually I just let them dry out naturally and hang it on the wall as a decorative ornament.
Maybe one day I will take a few pics and show you all my collection….these aren’t just wood to me. As some of these trees can be as old as a thousand years. They’re like fossilized wood.
I like to be close to nature even when I am indoors in jm safehouse in the plantation.
During my hike. I found a gem of hard wood that I eventually shaped into a decent handle for my Golok – left most of it as it is, only the inserted section had to be whittled down.
A Golok is a tool every frontier man needs in the field – since they tend to be heavier and shorter than parang, machetes, bayonets – they’re usually characterized with a heavy and thick spine that could just as well double as an axe.
This particular Golok blade came from a section of a WW2 Japanese propeller of a plane – it still has a faint Hamilton Standard marking on it. Most traditionally smithed golok’s have distinct convex edge to prevent the blade from getting wedged when cutting heavy green timber. This one doesn’t because it was probably constructed out of the leading tip of the propeller which explains why the black smith could even shape a hollow tube to hold a handle – but the spine is super heavy like an anvil. So it’s good to go in the field.
The shape of the wood for the handle looks old – it’s probably some hardwood that’s being sitting around for hundred of years…so hard that not even termites can put a dent on it. That fits the bill. As a Golok is a tool that one really swings full toss – before setting a handle for a Golok make sure you don’t go about doing it in one sitting. That’s the wrong way. Do that and it may fit snugly, securely and look sexy, but as soon as you use it to bring down a tree in the wild – with every strike the vibration will just get transferred to your bones and muscles and in no time – you will feel as if your arms have turned into jelly.
That’s the biggest No.1 mistake most people commit when setting a handle to a Golok.
The correct way to set a Golok is to bind a thin strip of rubber lining tightly along the end of the handle that is inserted into the slot. I’ve used an old bicycle inner tube – knock it in gently. It should be snug, but not so loose that when you swing it hard, the blade takes flight or the alignment shifts. That’s no good.
Find the balance with constant micro adjustments.
Use it that way for a few months. Eventually will happen is both the wooden handle and the steel slot will gently be shaped by each other with every strike – it takes a fair while. Be patient. Don’t rush it. It takes time to settle in.
If you observe the pic carefully. I’ve left about an inch of the remaining handle sticking out to provision for widget space.
The advantage of having a rubber lining between the slot and handle is firstly it’s form of waterproofing and secondly, whenever you strike, it’s acts like a shock absorber and doesn’t rattle your bones…it’s a very comfy. Can cut all day without feeling tired or pain.
Eventually what will regular and frequent – the handle will work it’s way deeper into the slot. The slot will shape accordingly to the handle as well giving both a very snug and secure fit. That’s the time when a small hole should be carefully drilled right thru the handle and the slot to insert a rounded bone, horn or a brass pin to secure handle and blade for life. Never use steel. As it will rust.
PERCAUTION: During the settling in period. When the handle gradually slides deeper into the steel slot. ALWAYS Swing the Golok AWAY from you. Make sure no one is around the vicinity. IT CAN FLY RIGHT OFF AND TAKE OFF A HEAD! I KID YOU NOT!
Another thing when it comes to very old Goloks. Don’t do stupid things like take an electric grinder aggressively to the blade and strip it right down to bare steel – if you do that your Golok may certainly look like a show piece, but you have probably ruined it as well by altering the happy balance of weight from a functional field tool that is supposed to leverage specifically on momentum during a cut. Looks count for nothing in the field. Just let the surface rust remain even if it’s ugly…besides it’s just superficial rust…harmless – as with regular and frequently, the blade just naturally assume a polished and bright sheen in no time without compromising it’s happy balance.
Another word of advise – if you’re a NS man specializing in jungle warfare. Don’t read this and go to ebay to buy a Golok. You may certainly look cool – but packing one in your kit is like carrying two bricks. Even I try not carry one myself – usually I strap it to a harness on my Doberman whenever we go deep into the jungle – remember always. A Golok is just an axe pretending to be a parang. It’s heavy like a GPMG. But in field craft – there will always be occasions when you simply need fire power – it beats an axe or hatchet fifty to one – as a Golok is so versatile.
Only the cutting edge (3 inches along the length) and NOT the entire length of the Golok should be sharpened with two wet stones – grit 200 and 800 for the finish.
Work safely! Remember SAFETY FIRST!
February 5, 2017
We can invest a lot of ourselves time and energy to know another person, but in the end, how close can we really come to that person’s essence?
Yes…I imagine. We could perhaps take comfort in the idea that we put in more of ourselves – we would eventually know the other person well, but do we really know anything at all?
‘There was this time when I thought I would always stay in Singapore. Forever and ever and ever. I know looking back now, it sounds rather silly. But that was how I saw it back then.
Or shall I say that’s how other’s saw it – usually thru their eyes.
I even told Dotty about it….I would stay. But she never believed me.
One day during one of our mid afternoon cycling trips, when we were just lying on the grass and looking up at the birds in Changi Village. She turned to me sadly and told me that one day I too would just take off like a bird.
It wasn’t what she said. It was the way she said in a tone like someone would express themselves years after that event happened.
I laughed. But when I looked at her I could sense the depth of her despair…the finality of her belief that it could only turn out that – it wasn’t just a run of the mill despair, it was a like an invisible vine with tendrils that could reach out from one soul to touch another – the sort of despair that could even whirl it’s way right into the narrow of my nines, winding and squeezing me from deep inside.
It was so disturbing that I found myself holding her head with both hands as she refused to look at me and asking her – how could she be so sure?
Dotty told me it was the way I looked at the birds whenever they flew overhead – she said it was the yearning that she saw reflected in my eyes. She said it was as thought – I could feel the same tug those birds felt – the very same stirring only birds could sense just before they took off. She went on to say, that I may believe I am a man, but in reality I have falcon blood running thru my veins – I am really half man, half bird and nothing in this world would ever change that, not even if I willed myself to be normal like everyone else – a day will come, when I too would sprout wings and take to the heavens like a bird.
I told her she was just in one of her crazy melancholic moods. She was dead wrong. I would always stay in Singapore. I even promised her.
Years later when I shared with Dotty my plans to seek my fortune abroad as a planter. She reminded me of the promise I once made to her – and whenever she did so, there were always long lapses of silence that I always felt the need to fill with words. Anything. It really didn’t matter what came out of my mouth. Could even yaba daba do. I just wanted to kill that awful hole of silence by filling it with as much sound as possible. To even banish it away with a hail of words. But try as hard as I did, every now and then I would feel a violent stab of loneliness….no. Estrangement. The very water I sipped, even the air I breathe, would always left a metallic and foreign after taste…reminding me that I don’t belong here…I am not supposed to be here. Even the linen on the table felt strange – when I ran my fingers across it, the texture reminded me of fingernails against a blackboard. It was a sound that only I could hear and all I could do was surrender myself completely to this sea of loneliness like some flotsam.
We met a couple of more times thereafter. But whenever our conversation lapsed into those awful moments of silence I always felt same threatening sensation of estrangement. It was as if this feeling that swelled inside me was some creature with razor-sharp tendrils gnawing deep inside me. It was so crippling, so devastating, and unrelenting that all it seemed to ever want to was to work itself out of my bones burrow thru my muscles and lance right out of the flesh of my backbone – wings….
Eventually that was what I did – I flew off without saying good bye. I did it as she said I would, like a bird that just wakes up one September morn, joins a flock of birds on a line and take right off into the blue yonder.’
February 5, 2017
If you switch on the TV these days. It’s like the evil eye. As there is so much anger, resentment and enmity in the hearts of so many because of Trumpism – understand this! Hate is pure. It is perhaps one of the most powerful forces in this world. Since man has never seen fit to study hate – it will always be a mystery. So when so one hates….trust me. They will hate you with all their heart.
My greatest fear is despite every effort by Trump to make America and her allies safe…all he has really done is galvanize the forces of evil against her.
Only the accomplished practitioners in the art of war can save us all.
‘Many planters are very surprised that my yield has only been moderately been affected by El Niño. Of course I make it a point these days to pretend like everyone else that I too don’t have fruit – but eventually the truth always comes out.
In the kampung where superstition is a way of life – many prefer to believe this is a form of magic. Some come to my lands. They take a clump of earth with an air of expectancy in the hope that should they mix it with their own…their crops might grow as well.
But if you really want to know the real reason why El Niño didn’t so much as put a dent on my bottom line – a large part of it had to do with the litany of preparing and training.
Back in May 2015. The weather boffins in NOAA had begun discussing in their cloistered forums about the warming waters off the coast of Honduras. This is the first sign that presages the weather formation known as the phenomenon of El Niño. I listened mostly. Hardly ever posting as they all discussed the various possibilities.
Meanwhile I began to conduct secret surveys on my lands and even on my neighbors lands and began to diligently keep a log registering rainfall, wind direction and humidity – by July I started a series of earth works to divert water from the rivers. This was done secretly.
But…El Niño was a no show. I remembered feeling cheated and even slightly stupid for putting in so much effort for nought.
In January. Again the weather boffins has begun to speak about El Niño again – only this time, they prefixed it with the word monster…monster El Niño. It was hard to have faith in what they had to say by then. As since they got it so wrong the last time. It’s hard to take them seriously.
But since I’d diligently kept a historical weather tabula since 2015 – I could just about make out that what they had to say was not entirely nonsense.
That year I began to redouble my efforts at landscaping my lands further – some of what I did was so radical that you might even say I threw out the farmers almanac right out of the window and wrote my own farming guideline.
I remember that day when Mother Nature curled her fingers nails like razor sharp talons….that very day….I saw all in full technicolor and THX sound, it might have started and ended like any other day.
But that day was different from all other days.
Standing the edge of my lands with one foot on the fence post. I imagined even my dogs could all sense the silent approach of foreboding…the swiftlets flew in ever tighter circles. A sign of nervousness. Perhaps they too had registered a dramatic drop in the atmospheric pressure that spooked them. Animals I imagine can sense the impending arrival of evil far better than man ever can. I remembered standing there thru the night – even long after the afternoon light had waned and filled the inky darkness of the skies with the heaviness of waiting….just watching as terror curled like some restless serpent that had just awakened.
Mars was bronzed that night – cureleaned like a dull brass doorknob which could only mean the air at the upper reaches of the stratosphere was warmer than usual. The dipper wavered and blinked with so much loneliness. As if she too desire to belong to the rest of the other stars. Shimmering in the night heat. I stood there the whole night. Occasionally, I’d notice I’d lost track of time itself; even sleep it seemed had no dominion over me….I was simply watching for the signs, still having imaginary conversations with characters in my mind….even wondering whether perhaps I was like than mad sultan I once read about who marched out with war elephants and pike men with banners to declare war on the evil wind called the Harmattan…I remembered the owl had hooted mockingly at me that night as I sniggered to myself like some deranged mad man. But even then amid it all by the time my whisky flask was emptied. I had the feeling that even the owl was trying to tell me somewhere in my mind – farmer something evil comes this way.
True enough…the following day it all began.
In the thick of it all – it was really just a blur. I can’t exactly tell you what I did or didn’t do – there’s really too much to tell like how a lone sailor in a plastic boat tacks the capricious winds to ride one giant wave only for another to line up against his approach.
And once the storm is over – I don’t imagine I would ever remember how I even made it through by the slimmest of margins…or maybe she just got tired of me and spat me out like a pea that rolls right out of the melee…it’s hard to say when so many things comes at it from all directions
What’s important is I made it thru to the other side safely without even a single scratch to show for it.
Yes…it was a good fight. I imagine. I even rushed up her skirt a couple of times, when she wasn’t looking my way and was too preoccupied throwing pots and pans. But one thing is certain. When you come out of the storm, you won’t be the same person who walked in. That’s really what a storm is all about.
I guess somewhere in all this there’s a lesson where we could perhaps say with that air of satisfying air of redemption – we live and learn! But maybe the real moral to this a blog entry is when you suddenly and unexpectedly feel cocooned in joy and feel so safe – never take it for granted
I am not like most of you who read this – no. I am not. For one I stretched too thin and the margins are just enough to keep my nose above the waterline….failure is not an option. Not for me at least. Perhaps that’s why I regard business as war!
Don’t ever take your joy or happiness for granted…be paranoid if possible. There are plenty of lives and whole towns destroyed just on the account of that blasé attitude. We may not always be wise, and not very often kind when we expect tomorrow to unfold exactly like yesterday. And much can never be redeemed. Still life at even the razors edge has some possibility left. Perhaps all the preparations I did before wasn’t wasted after all – it was my way of fighting back to protect whatever little I have to call my own, that in the event sometimes something bad happens – you’ll be ready to give as good as you take…punch for punch…kick for kick.
Now all there’s left is a tired man – like some forlorn foot soldier standing on the top hill after last rent of a long and bitter drawn out battle – drawing on a cigarette with trembling hands, muddied, caked with blood….turning inwards and watching with his mind’s eye to see the very end of El Niño’s destructive wake….and perhaps reminiscing to himself with a deep sense of pride that at least…it was a good innings…a good fight…where fear has gone only I stand….only I.
I saw it all the before, during and after….I am the man of all seasons….listen to me carefully…listen…in peace prepare for war. In war prepare for peace.’
February 4, 2017
During lunch. I chanced on a table on well heeled plantation ladies. As soon as they caught sight of me – one particular lady who I can only assume to be the most dominant lady amongst these ladies extended her hand. Naturally. I bowed low and kissed her hand. A chair was presented. I took my place and no sooner had I done so. This impeccably dressed lady turned to be in and asked, ‘do share…are you with or against Trump?’
I happen to know the history of this lady. She was educated in Paris. Hence my reply, ‘après moi deluge.’ To which the other ladies all laughed out loud….except this one lady who continued to look at me suspiciously…maybe she senses that I am holding back….yes, I think she can read my mind. She did after all kick me very hard on my shin under the table when the rest of the ladies laughed….but no. I am never going to let the cat out from the bag.
Instead I smiled supremely….ouch! Trust me I would rather take on my guli’s.
Never…it’s just too painful and dangerous.
No one will ever know my thoughts.
‘So far it is merely a theoretical possibility – but as Trumpism as a school of thought and state of mind begins to define itself in clearer terms to it’s various objects of public and business interest – eventually even firms will be compelled to choose which side they want to stand on. CEO’s would have to take a position – they can’t be neutral. Not at least without coming playing both sides – neither can they take sanctuary in the notion that politics should best be left to politicians either, that will be suicidal!
As I see it. It’s really only a matter of time before the pressure will begin to slowly intensify.
This is the what usually happens when business interest becomes so encrusted with politics…it’s inevitable. Absolutely nothing can stop this process where it all ratchets up in steady increments till something gives.
Meanwhile the idea conditions for a more chaos along with opportunity is all there – there parts are not there yet. But they will be soon. As it is, it’s still early days – there are no parts yet, there’s no need to replace one thing with another. No yet at least. Besides what’s the bloody point when I don’t even know where it’s all going…who even knows – so really what is the urgency to remove anything or add anything. You don’t have to think about difficult things just yet – take a seat…watch….and trust me eventually the bough will give way and water will find it’s level.
It’s best to remain pleasantly neutral as best as one can for the time being.’
February 4, 2017
This afternoon while returning for lunch at my plantation house – a dead will pigeon laid lifeless in the yard. Wild pigeons are good flyers. Perhaps even one the best – they don’t just fly into a building and keel over and die, or maybe I am just making a mountain out of a mole hill. Perhaps this pigeon did get disoriented and accidentally hit the building.
In Taoist mythology. A dead bird may come across like a bad omen. Actually it’s a good and bad sign. As it presages the end to turmoil or pain. A dead bird doesn’t necessarily portend physical death. Rather it is metaphorical death. Perhaps this means whatever hardships I am going through will now slowly begin to bow out to a new season of hope where things may get better. Perhaps this dead bird marks the end to my yearning and struggle. A new beginning is just around the corner.
On the other hand in the language of the old country. There is also a sinister side to finding a dead bird in the yard – it is veil warning to abide by the covenants that one has entered into – in the language of the old country, the bird represents freedom….and when a man discovers a dead bird it simply means if you value your freedom then abide by the rules of heaven and earth.
Yes….maybe I am just making a mountain out of a mole hill. It’s after just a dead bird in the yard.
February 4, 2017
February 3, 2017
Q: Tell me. There is a rumor circulation in the mercantile Guild that you. You see opportunity despite Brexit and the Trump win – how true is this?
A: Would you prefer that I answer this in German or English? I feel German would allow me to express myself in a concise manner without necessarily indicting myself….if you really want to know ich habe die Nase voll davon…that is to say I don’t give a shit what the guilds think.
Q: I don’t mean to come across as a corporal interrogating a general – but if you could do us all the courtesy of responding in standard English. I assure you many of our readers would appreciate it.
A: If you like. The way I see it is prosaic. Brutal. Like a boot pressed on a face of man. Let me put it this way whenever the status quo ante is threatened with change – there is both strife and opportunity.
Herr Kompf. We don’t do this for fun! There is the investment of time, intellectual capital and resources to attempt to beacon out the murk.
I want to be clear. This is not about a group of bored intellectuals sitting down over tea and scones and discussing the world as a general past time – we all without a single exception see this as a very serious and significant turning point in history and we would all like to be a meaningful part of this change.
There is opportunity where there is chaos Kompf. As it is. I know most people can only seem to see a lot of nervous and anxious people – I much prefer to see this as an opportunity for an opportunity of a lifetime.
Q: How would this opportunity present itself to the average Singaporean?
A: Don’t talk as if the IMG conduct it’s affairs in a cave – look what’s happened in the last week alone. Most people just see an executive order to impose a travel ban on certain Arab countries – but I see this as an interruption in the flow of intellectual capital along with a reorientation of how people and possibly goods flow from point A to B.
Q: What is your assessment of the political rationale for the imposition of the travel ban – do you agree with it?
A: I am neutral. I only concerned about the opportunity cost that may create other opportunities.
Q: Again how might the average Singaporean benefit from this travel ban?
A: Try to see it from my point of view – intellectual capital is like petroleum that fuels firms to do whatever they do. Whenever that flow is interrupted for whatever reason – it creates a deficit or imbalance that needs to be addressed. If you look at firms nowadays – they’re all like mini United Nations.
To me it’s an opportunity when the US decides to do something like impose a country specific travel ban – especially for Singaporeans.
But bear in mind how that may translate into an actual opportunity is entirely on whether you choose to take my advise seriously or regard it as just rhetorical – for me, if I am working in a specific field where many of these nationals have been banned from entering the US – I would be surfing day and night for maybe an internal transfer within a firm or even prospecting to offer my services. After all let us be realistic – not everyone who comes from the Arab world is stupid – they’re a lot of sublimely clever and well educated people in those countries. So whenever there is a summary ban – there is always opportunity.
Q: Why would the US look elsewhere for those skill sets which they would usually procure from those countries that have a travel ban?
A: Its not the US per se – it’s the firms within the US, especially those who are at the leading edge of technology that constantly need intellectual transfusion. What is your politics? That’s highly negotiable in the US. Truth is the US is not like Singapore. No one gives a shit how many times you have posted a Facebook like on Mini Lee’s page – that counts for zero in the US. The only thing that matters is the flow of intellectual capital cannot be constricted in such a way where it may militate against corporate interest.
The US as I see it is a very apolitical work environment – they don’t care about your political leanings…you as an individual can believe or not choose to do so in any object of interest ranging from politics to religion. But so long as you’re not making bombs in your basement kitchen or present a clear and present risk to society – you’re good to go!
And this attitude is very much part of the US corporate culture that even US politicians have to live and accept – you know during the final days on WW2. The Americans secretly recruited Nazi rocket scientist – it was known as the paper clip project.
Now let me you ask you a question – do you actually believe the people who tasked to grow rocketry really care whether Werner Braun was a major in the Waffen SS? If you look at the Apollo documentaries today – do you see anyone quibbling that this was the same chap who once rained intercontinental missiles on London from Penemunde? No one cares – as the demand for intellectual capital is what makes America…America.
Keep it clear – it’s business and never ever personal.
Q: The Singapore Prime Minister recently set the tenor of the new economic prospects for Singapore. He expects us to lower our expectations for future economic growth. Do you think this US travel ban can reverse this trend?
A: Frankly I’m not confident that mini lee and his crew can even achieve lower growth – as so far from what I am able to make up the bulk of what accounts for growth is Singapore leverages heavily on a massive infusion of labor inputs from abroad. That unfortunately is diametrically against real and sustainable growth that should be premised on enhancing productivity, which has always been the axiomatic gold standard for quality and sustainable economic growth – this has remained largely flatline in Singapore for the last 4 years. The main thing that’s propping up growth these days is labour inputs.
There is definitely a very strong correlation here between labor inputs and growth – the very fact that last year’s economic growth was only 1.8% — which incidentally is significantly lower than all our neighbors to such an extent where journalist are now labeling Singapore as the new sick man of Asia has to coincide with the reduced inflow of foreign workers – it is an indication that our economy has been overly dependant on foreign labour force growth.
The way I see it, PAP governments need to migrate further beyond just as gate keepers along the value chain – so far they have just focused on rubber FDI’s and what happens thereafter is really something that they don’t seem to want to get involved in – this to me is a great omission. As when no one in the economic development unit understands the dynamics of what goes on in a firm to make it work – then it’s really a nonsense to talk credibly about investing in natives by equipping them with the necessary skills, especially stimulating an entrepreneurial or merchant class to off set the inexorable reality that job cycles are shortening – in the past we speak about forty year old PMET’s being put out to pasture as they are largely seen as liabilities in this technological age. But in the foreseeable future we may even see workers as young as possible 35 to 40 reaching the end of their utility value – this of course is all driven by market forces.
My personal opinion is government should be less fixated on getting the best to join the civil service – they should instead turn the whole on the idea on it’s head and ask whether That is wise – instead we should try to get people to work elsewhere and return after a couple of years to start new enterprises – this is of course a reversal of sorts. Because we have always seen this idea of growth as government led. But in reality it has never been that way to me – enterprises will always be the drivers of growth. As for governments I just see them as traffic police. So if you’re configuring the so called best to work in the civil service and after a while they get programmed into only working in that kind of environment – then I see it as a great waste of human resources.
Many things will happen with the Trump travel ban – as you must understand people are like walking and talking repositories of information, not unlike thumb drives – so if you so much as even interfere with the equilibrium of that flow – information will degrade, blank spaces will develop and most importantly new pathways will emerge.
A good example is tourism – it will thru a radical revolution – so far I don’t think the Singapore tourism board has put much effort in encouraging tourist from the gulf states, so that’s one illustration of opportunity generated by the travel ban.
On a broader scale – trade and commerce will also be affected. After all if people from the Arab world can’t travel freely to the US without having to jump thru hoops – that also means they can get many things that are needed from the West and again there is opportunity there as well.
I think it’s important to understand the imposition of this travel ban is not just on countries where people live in mud huts, commute to work on a camel and communicate only in sign language – Trump has a very poor feel of that region. If you go to some countries like perhaps Syria – they have the highest per capita satellite dishes in the world. Not only do they consume transponders like bread. But they are also import the highest volume of co-axial cables in the world along with the ancillary equipment to support that sort of infrastructure. So again there is opportunity there as well for Singaporeans to venture out and tap.
But I think you first need to know the region and have a feel of it – for me personally, this travel ban is great for agricultural opportunities.
Always remember a travel ban is not unlike a trade war – you do this and those countries who are affected with problems recognizing capital the financial rammifications from a capital in and outflow will be dramatic – so if you ban an Arab don’t do for one moment think it’s a one way street – they will hit back! And one way to do this is by saying, I don’t want to do business with you!
This is where the wise man comes right in and uses that sort of negative sentiment to create opportunity.
Q: As I understand it these travel ban is limited to only a few Arab countries – they don’t seem to have a far reaching effect…what is your comment on that?
A: I don’t think that is an accurate assessment – as what you need to prioritize is how will it come across to most people? I mean if it’s North Korea talking about stopping certain people from coming in or erecting walls with piranhas in the moat and man eating dogs – that’s OK. Because most people will say that is North Korea.
But when America starts broadcasting that sort of message then don’t for one moment believe it applies to only those countries that currently fall under the travel ban – as there is not only the commonality of ethnicity, share values, identity, tribalism and to some extent even solidarity whenever you talk about restricting movement in laws or other physical means like walls.
What needs to understood in the psychology dynamics is for every act – there is an equal reaction. Even the soviets despite their pineappled eye efficiency of the KGB could not stop the samzidat movement from eventually undermining totalitarian rule.
So please don’t think this whole issue of a travel ban only applies to those countries affected – it is really much bigger than just that.
February 3, 2017
I don’t think patience has anything to do with the cultivation of the special ability to wait. Neither has it anything to do with come what may acceptance. Patience has even less to do with resignation in the way a man murmurs to himself – I will see it no matter what happens.
If anything patience to me resembles hunting – it is to constantly take action to transform into the positive, to bear it out with a calm disposition to the very end and above all to have faith that it will all work out in the end while you are working quietly without complain.
Patience is to strive to understand a thing beyond it’s dictionary meaning….to even see it’s inner and intricate movements and complications from within…and not merely to watch it’s mysteries from the outside…it is to understand a thing for what it is really is and not what others say it is…..patience is the highest form of scholarship.
All other definitions of patience are merely pretentious.
‘I don’t need ever need to go to a supermarket whenever I need meat. I just hunt. I hunt with a bow. The curious thing about hunting in the wild is it has absolutely nothing and less to do with how it’s so often depicted in the movies – where the hunter is always rushing here and there to chase down the prey. I guess that’s the way movie directors need to script the act of hunting otherwise it would be pretty difficult to sell tickets.
It’s really quite boring. Yes…it is. Actually.
Truth is hunting is unlike welding, drilling a hole and fitting a pin on post or just making sure your three pin is all wired right.
It’s a process, very orthodox that requires one to simply keep to the tried and tested rules.
It first begins by understanding the way of the prey – if it’s a hog. They move in packs during the dry season usually after dark. In the wet season a female hog is usually alone. She breaks away from the pack and that’s also the period when they’re the fiercest and would provably never back down when threatened….as she’s probably given birth or about to.
During those periods…the tables are turned. The hunter usually becomes the hunted.
A fully grown hog can charge from zero to forty kilometers in less than four seconds flat – with it’s head tilted charging at full speed – it’s virtually impossible to bring her down with a clean shot…impossible. As the head of hog is armor plated with at least three inches of bullet proof bone – it even puts military vest to shame. If you’re ever in that situation – you’re looking at spending the rest of your days in a wheel chair…that’s if you’re lucky.
The only reason why I am feel compelled to share this with you is because respect for the prey is the one single most misrepresented truth about hunting….no. Man is not at the top of the game. Granted he may have tools and even intellect on his side. But the prey has the home ground and that simply everything that you have on your side is at best 50/50.
Respect…..that is the first and cardinal rule of patience…know your enemy…know his ways. But never…ever disrespect him.
Like I said. It all begins with having the patience to understand the way of the prey and the wild. That’s to say, you’ve got to some how get inside the hog look at the world thru it’s eyes, ears and nose. Being on the outside looking in is no bloody good….you might as well go and try your luck when they’re having twenty five percent off lamb chops in the supermarket.
It’s just a bloody waste of a good Sunday.
Being inside looking out means you know there at least thirty two ways to walk during the dry season silently without once snapping a twig in the wild. There are only five to six times in a day when the wild goes dead quiet and the patience to know all this gives you the power of invisibility.
Invisibility is what gives you the element of surprise…without it. You might as well upgrade your premium on your personal insurance.
The best time to bring down a hog is just before a thunder storm – there’s not much time….it all happens fast. So try not to move or fidget too much. Find a spot and remain still like a lifeless stone. Go with the wild. Let it permeate you like the stillness of grass, moss amd all the little bugs that seem to move silently unseen.
When the storm heightens. The rich nitrogen air mucks up their acute sense of smell, that’s when the hog’s radar goes on the blink…it doesn’t work. And even when it seems to, it gives out false readings.
You can tell, this by the way the hog zig zags – that means he’s really entirely on sight.
Not smell…..that important because for the bow hunter you need to get up real close.
They’re also almost blind during the overcast just before a thunderstorm. Confused even. As they don’t quite know whether it dusk or dawn.
The profile of the head is low to the ground….distances becomes very confusing in the overcast.
As for their acute sense of hearing that can usually pick up a human two miles down wind – that’s masked by the rustle of the leafs just before a thunderstorm.
That’s the only time when a hog doesn’t behave like a hog. That’s the only time when it will break the discipline how to proceed silently with the cloak of invisibility in the wild. That’s the only time when you could even be right next to a 90 kilo hog and he wouldn’t even be able to see you.
Just before a thunderstorm is the only time when a hog is only preoccupied with finding high ground to dig a fox hole beneath a tree to keep dry. Nothing else matters to him. But even should he be within shot range…be patient…bite your tongue….wait.
Let him finish the dig. Let him even lie down. Let him even snuggle and find a comfy spot before the storm.
When the first distant lighting shards crackles thru the bitumen colored skies…it’s still not the right time to take the shot.
No. Don’t ever do that – as the first lightning rap usually alerts the hog…let at least four go by. Six is even better as he will get used to it by then.
Be very patient…continue biting your tongue till it draws blood….wait…wait…wait.
Only during the briefest periods just before the fury of the thunderstorm is unleashed – when the wind dies. When the hog is deep within the embrace of sweet repose. When the wild momentarily stands so still that there is neither sound or movement do you stand up, draw the bow and loose the hissing arrow to finally deliver the death blow.
It’s quick. Clean. Professional….and most importantly the end…the whispering death of the arrow finding the fifth column of the spine severing the central nervous system…instantaneous death.
Patience is to strive to understand a thing beyond it’s dictionary meaning….it is to understand a thing for what it is really is and not what others say it is.
February 2, 2017
I’ve always had an uneasy relationship with the notion of time. I am not saying I don’t respect it to make it a point to be dead on the dot for every meeting. No! It’s not that sort of uneasiness. I guess it’s hard to describe as the notion of time has changed with me. Neither do I conduct my affairs in such a way where I am not beholden to the importance of time. It’s not that sort of uneasiness about time either.
If I had to describe my uneasiness concerning time – it simply relates to how we all choose to see time….that has always bothered me. The idea of reducing time into neat pigeon holes of seconds, minutes, hours, days, weeks, months and years.
That to me is just a way to track time…nothing more or less.
When I used to be a salaried man in Singapore. Even then I much preferred to time differently. Hearing the awakening murmurs of trains one by one pulling out from the MRT depot at Tanah Merah meant I needed to rouse myself for the first shift; the smell of pine scented disinfectant on linoleum meant I was probably the first to clock into the factory and there was still plenty left for a cigarette and coffee before work began. The faint rumble of the plumbing secreted above the ceiling boards meant the managers had probably just taken a dump and they would eventually make it downstairs to dump on all of us during the morning meeting. The way the light from the only window slices the photograph of President Nathan who always seemed to smile supremely even when there was chaos in the control room, meant it was the end the first shift. The faint hint of cloves in the wind when I walked thru the connector park to the trains after work told me that I was somewhere between January and mid march. When train lines twisted like plasticine in the mid day heat. I knew it to be hottest of months. Branches scrapping the eaves of houses spoke to me like oracles – the wind had changed direction and the soon the monsoon would arrive. When the winds blew at Bedok jetty blew smelt of red bull mixed with old brass keys – I knew the clouds would turn dark the following day. Staring at the sky, wisps of white speckled bands whirled across an inky blue night sky – I knew it would turn cold and December winds would send sails and flags fluttering. The stutter of birds from their usual three stanza to only one monotonous tone told me they were all preparing to take flight before the monsoon. The lull before the approaching storm – it’s tranquillity mixed with the smell of burnt wires told me the air was nitrogen rich. A lone ant clambering over a half eaten leaf upwards to the trees could only mean the rains would be heavy that season. A plastic bag dancing skywards to the blue beyond in the afternoon thermal like a jelly fish painted with the words NTUC supermarket…usually told me the rains would pass soon and the weather will get hotter. Sobbing cupboards that warped ever so slightly like rope being tighten told me that it would be hotter than what they weather boffins predicted.
You could say I’ve always had my own private relationship with time – time wasn’t a notion where I was somehow distanced from it like a man turning his sights to a clock tower just to tell time – it’s much more…..the scrapping sounds of my feet against sand as I walked spoke the length and breadth of time’s essence. I much preferred to be within the folds of the seconds, minutes, hours like some cog, wheel or spring shifting, notching, twirling in perpetual motion with and not against time – where I was within and never outside…peering from within and not just looking in like some hungry man at others in the warmth of candle lit dinners.
I don’t imagine most people can image how silly I see the way they see time – I can even imagine these same people thinking that I don’t have a right to judge them as bizarre. For trying to reduce something so profoundly omnipresent and intuitive into perpetual moving digits and sweeping hands on a face of a watch.
It’s I imagine another infantile attempt (a poor one at that) by man at reductionism…I really don’t have anything against that. I guess mankind is accustomed to holding on the belief he knows everything there is to know about everything.
But here in the solitude of the wild – time has it’s own rhythm that’s infinitely larger and more majestic than man’s snuffling regard of time. Here time is not only everywhere, but it’s so big that it even makes IMAX feel puny. Not maybe the concept of time that we are all accustomed too – the seconds, minutes, hours, days, months…chronology of tracking the chastening passage of seasons. Rather over here it’s the perpetuity of time itself that seems almost unstoppable – another concentric ring to mark the end and beginning of one cycle in time. The slow arc of the Milky Way that’s always so clear in the desolation of the wild…so clear that it always comes across to me whenever I am hungry like some giant jeweled speckled curry puff ticking and creaking marking time.
I much prefer this version of time.
January 31, 2017
It’s been nearly a year since one of my Doberman’s passed on. His name was Big Foot. Big Foot wasn’t like any of my other guard dogs. He was just very undoberman. Abnormal even which I tried to change at first. Only eventually to throw up my hands because I realized he probably realized what made him perfectly normal from all other dogs in my pack, was the pride he took from being unlike all of them.
Big Foot was really just a human pretending to be a canine.
But Big Foot’s was bitten by a cobra that must have wandered into the compound in the cover darkness – from the looks of it, it was full bite and by the second day his breathe was labored as the venom had spread to the rest of her organs and he was in great pain.
I did everything I could to drain out the venom including severing the veins and suturing them up again…but it was too late….it had gone to far and deep.
On the third day. I put on a pair of rubber gloves and held his head lovingly in my arms and snapped it. It was lightning fast and painless. I’ve missed Big Foot since then.
Recently Big Foot’s other twin, Turbo gave birth to a puppy – even at three weeks and a bit. I can tell this he bears certain similarities to Big Foot – for instance, this puppy has a habit of holding out it’s paw like one of the those gold plated battery cats that one sees from time to time in shops. Big Foot used to do that…..maybe Big Foot has finally returned.
The buddhist believe everything is predestined. Even a chance meetings is the result of karma…..Things in life are fated by our previous lives. So much so that even in the smallest events that may seem improbable, coincidental and even down right impossible – there’s no such thing as coincidence…it’s karma.
I am not by nature a religious person. Maybe it’s the tragic way Big Foot once departed that left an empty chamber in my heart that makes me want to believe in reincarnation.
Welcome back Big Foot.
‘By just the simple act of living, we run the risk of getting hurt. I am not even talking about the sort of living that requires one to operate heavy machinery or to hang for dear life tethered to a rope in a mountaineering expedition.
Just living. Ordinary living. You know the sort where you wake up, brush your teeth, dress, gulp down your Milo and make it out of the house to join the rest of humanity with roughly the same automatic processing power it takes to tie your shoes laces.
Plain ordinary living. True as this might be can leave a hole in your heart….because this is what it means to live and be a human – it is the one truth we all eventually learn and hopefully can find the courage to come to terms with. That’s what I learned from Big Foot’s sudden death.
May seem strange to you. But when a farmer spends so much time in the desolation of the wild with only his dogs and the nearest human is fifteen minutes drive away – then a bond forms – where at times, it may not even be incredulous to have a profound debate about macroeconomics or quantum physics with Big Foot….those who there all the time…in the good and bad, sweet and better can on grow on you…very much in the way people who come into our lives and fill it with laughter and joy can only grow on us as well.
That’s what it means to live. That’s what it means to be alive.
Often we say to ourselves in hope of staving off grief. Oh well, he’s there and I am here. I am safe in my hermetically sealed digital bunker. After all. There’s thousand of miles of co-axial cables that separate me from him…..there’s no possible way that he can whirl himself into my life. I am me and he is he….over there. The nearest we will ever get is like two ships passing each other in the dark with the lights turned off!
We say this to ourselves not to spare us all from grief that we don’t need. Rather it’s due to our false belief that if we can somehow hold back – that’s the best way to get by.
But life isn’t like that – one doesn’t nearly go around bubble wrapped not especially when others choose to come into our lives – not even if they happen to be a different species. Not if they can make you laugh at yourself, shed a tear and even stimulate your mind to see the world slightly differently from the way you have always seen it.
That’s what happens when one life reaches out and touches another.
Something moves….shifts…creeps…maybe ever so slightly that you don’t even notice it. But trust me you’ve moved closer. A door in your heart has flung opened and soon – you become one.
Call it what you want…community…solidarity. Or maybe just two souls that share a common bond.
Like my relationship with Big Foot – it doesn’t have to be a discourse. Sometimes it’s just one where one person talks and another has the patience to bear out the words. At other times it’s the words that live on and they become alive that makes the connection.
You see, hear and think the things he does. Or rather you think you do – and even if you don’t quite manage to get all of that together. At least you say to yourself from time to time – though you wouldn’t really care to admit it to anyone else…I am glad you came into my life.
I am glad you’re always there for me.
And one day when that person suddenly leaves – no truth can cure that sorrow. No strength, no understanding, No amount of sagacity can fill that inexplicable void in your life. All you can really do is go around the best you can like damaged goods with this profound sensation of loss that no one can ever sense or even understand even if they really strived too – because that relationship was so special – it’s as though you’re marooned in your own skull….but slowly with the chastening passage of time by just the mere act of living.
Yes ordinary living…the sort that doesn’t even require you to chop carrots fast and furious. Or even require you to stick your neck out for anyone In the office….just plain ordinary living.
The sort of everydayness – where the only thing you hope for at half past seven after work is to get a seat next to the glass on the MRT to get some shut eye. The sort of ordinariness that permeates the marrow of each passing day uneventfully and the only the thing that marks time is the diminishing size of your toothpaste or you suddenly realized that you have finally discovered the very first white pubic hair in your entire life on your body – through that tunnel of unending litany that stretches out like a long road beyond the horizon of time at the end of it all….you will gain the courage to hope again and soon like a seed germinating inside that no man’s land that was once was barren and windswept with sorrow something will grow again and that which you once lost will return in yet another form….in life we all live and learn. Welcome back again Big Foot.
I want to believe….for today at least in reincarnation. I so want too.’
January 29, 2017
Q: What do you see as the main political, economic, social and technologically challenges in the year of the Rooster?
A: I don’t see any roosters. All I see is the big elephant in the room that everyone refers to as president Trump.
It’s going to be a very US centric year. As Trump won the election solely on one tag line – we are going to make America great again! And by every definition, even the most forgiving that can only be interpreted as a clear intention to shake up the status quo.
Q: How much of the shake up are we talking about and how might that affect Asia?
A: That’s a bit of a contradiction. As from what I have been able to make out – Trump has a pretty competent crew. Unlike Adolf Hitler who surrounded himself with delusional idiots who were all yes men – from my assessment, most of his key decision makers and advisors are very experienced, thoughtful and most importantly people who have a stellar trek record in getting things done the right way.
But if you talk about Trump in the context of Asia – the first casualty has been the TPP. That’s in the dumpster now. The second unknown quantity is how committed he is for the US to retain it’s primacy in the Pacific as a stabilizing counter balance against the rise of China – that’s not clear. I think the Japanese and the South Korean’s will demand clarity on this issue – as they don’t ever want to weaponize their atomics and much prefer status quo.
But if we look at Trumps recent interaction with Theresa May who is the post Brexit PM – he has reiterated his commitment to NATO and standing in line with retaining the sanctions on Russia. So that is a very good indication that we may choose if we like to juxtapose to what will probably pan out in Asia as well.
For the time being status quo seems to be untouched.
Q: Do you see the philosophy of Trump and Brexit spreading to Asia in the year of the Rooster?
A: Xenophobia. Parochialism. Insularity. They are not new to either the US or EU. This is not a phenomenon and the world at large is not threatened by the advent of some a Andromeda strain that transforms reasonable and sane people into Xenophobic zombies as what the mainstream press and many neo liberal denialist insist – it is a reaction to many of the inequities that have been generated by globalization and the age of automation along with the convergence of global interconnectivity.
The story is a well trodden path – many hard working EU and US workers thru no fault of their own have simply not benefited from globalization – wealth despite what the globalist continue to insist has not percolated downstream evenly. Or for that matter equitably in such way where the vast majority can still have faith in globalization as the purveyor of the good life. That is the executive summary of the times that we live in.
Say what you want of Mr Trump. Say that he likes to grab ass and tits. But even the most erudite scholar on globalization cannot deny he has a vision and within it there is a clear set of missions to ameliorate many of the corrosive effects of globalization.
Whether his vision can pass from the realm of theory to reality is another story.
One doesn’t need to be a honorary member of Mensa to make out this is one big aspect that is sorely absent from the intelligentsia of globalization – a counter argument that would revivify trust and belief in globalization as a reliable purveyor of the good life to the masses.
You know Kompf. Recently the world leaders of the G20 meet in Davos and naturally the main topic was Mr Trump – and listening to what these people had to say, mid way I could help but experience a sinking Ach du lieber Himmel! moment – because it’s like being a fly on the wall of the smoking room five minutes after the Titanic struck an iceberg and listening to stupid people arguing over the color of curtains. That’s just how terminally entrenched their denial really is to the point where it’s my belief no counter argument will ever emerge from the ranks of the globalist.
The way I see it is prosaic. Trump has won! Finito. Kaput. La fin.
Now the imperative for the global community should be to craft a new philosophy that tempers globalization with real benefits that can open the aperture of opportunities and stimulate belief in upward social and economic mobility.
But instead these so called leaders prefer to see themselves as characters in a Proustian novel circa a La Recherche du Temps Perdu. It was just an epic lamentation fest – not a logical response at all to an emerging threat.
And the threats are real. And it’s not only confine to the EU or the US. If you go to Japan, you find a lot of right wing politicians coming into power because they oppose migrant workers. Closer home. Recently Mahathir has been taking broad swipes at a China real estate development called Forest city in Johor and again he’s leveraging on race, xenophobia along with even elements of lost of sovereignty.
So this is a big problem that is global. It is not like hay fever where it’s isolated to only the US and EU.
Q: Which world leader do you think the Davos leaders should sit down for two hour lecture on? Would it be Obama? Mini Lee?
A: Obama. Well let me be frank. He set a lot of policies that takes time to produce the goodies – the gestation period is too long in my opinion. But since they were mostly structured with long term horizons – it came across as a big nothing to the masses.
As for Mini Lee I have no comment. As I have mentioned on numerous occasions – I want to be polite. So I have no comment.
But the one leader that has managed to strike a happy balance between long and short term to further economic policies is the very unlikely Najib Razak.
Now if you look at Najib, he’s been very adept at pushing thru very unpopular policies, but at the same time he has also been able to sweeten the deal sufficiently to take out the bitterness – for example in the last two years Malaysia has embarked on a pheltora of aggressive economic policies to augment the drastic fall of oil prices and to put an end to subsidizes that can no longer be sustainable if she is to compete in a post TPP economic landscape.
I’ve done my research and no one other country, not even China has been able to move at the speed that Malaysia has. Today. Consumption tax is in effect. Oil, gas and even cooking oil and very soon rice will be off the list of subsidized necessaries – now bear in mind. Not even Tunku Abdul Rahman could have all done all these things without precipitating a revolution in Malaysia. But Najib & Co has and one way in which he has been able to do this is by parlaying very successfully with China to ensure that although these painful strategies are effected – the ordinary man or shall the average villager in the kampung still has the means to retain their buying power. For example where I am, the price of kembong fish has gone up RM$20 per kilo. Most of it is weather related and supply and demand driven. But since the price of oil palm has doubled – no in the kampung feels the pain – that is because unlike Obama who has been planting red wood pines that take 200 odd years to mature. Najib has been sowing Jack the bean stalks by getting the Chinese to stockpile on oil palm – now how long this will continue I don’t know. But my point is that Najib has been able to temper the corrosive effects of globalization by not passing on the grief to the rakyat (masses).
So in my book. You don’t have to go to Paul Krugman, Michael Porter or even Gary Hamel to find a solution out the quandary of globalization and how to sell it to the masses – my point is by just making sure the ordinary man benefits and his standard of living is commensurates with the notion of dignity of labor, it is still possible for a country to be a stakeholder in globalization.
The same however cannot be said out the Western Hemisphere or even other economies nearer home especially down south – where the pain and grief of globalization is usually passed on to the end user who is constantly told he is beneficiary, but when he goes down to NTUC and his dollar doesn’t seem to produce the bang – that’s where the dissonance between what officialdom says and reality bites.
Unfortunately in the case study of Najib Razak. It’s comes so encrusted with so much Fitna and allegations concerning the 1 MDB scandal that no one would ever consider it a worthy case study to emulate – that to me is a great travesty.
I am not saying Malaysia is perfect – there are certainly the normal quadrants of winners and losers here in any implementation of radical economic policies, but by and large the Malaysians have successfully managed changed in such a way where pain may be inevitable, but suffering is certainly optional.
Infact this year due to the high prices in oil palm fruit – all my harvesters enjoyed a big ang pow. But if economic policies are so conceived in such a way where profit margins are so narrow and slim and by appearances the rich get richer while the poor remain trapped in the poverty gyre like in so many Western economies – then Brexit or Trump’s win should not be surprise.
Q: What do you consider to be the most disturbing or dangerous aspect of the new Trump administration in the year of the rooster to South East Asia?
A: Understand this! It is not what Trump proposes to change that will be dangerous. Because there is very little that he can actually change, not without incurring real penalties at least. You want to slap levies and tariffs on China? Fine, they switch from Boeing to Airbus and couple of thousand jobs in the aeronautics sector gets wiped out in Seattle. What the average American doesn’t seem to grasp is the mathematics of reality – both China and the US need each to prosper.
Let’s talk sense here. The U.S. debt to China is $1.259 trillion, at the time this blog entry makes it to the public domain on the 29th January 2017 @ 0743. 20 seconds GMT. That’s 29 percent of the $3.841 trillion in Treasury bills, notes, and bonds held by other countries combined. The rest of the $19.9 trillion debt is owned by either the American people or by the U.S. government itself – now to put it graphically that’s like a bum with only loose change in a tube of Mentos in his pocket shouting at someone with the nett worth of the Shah of Iran when he was still in power – hey we are going to hurt you!
Now how much sense does it make?
So let’s get real.
At some point in the Trump administration the TPP will have to be revived. Because believe it or not the US is the main beneficiary of the TPP – they are the ones who holding 93% of the intellectual property that they can commoditize and rent seek on – and further more when you say the combine signatories of the TPP represent 40% of the global trade – that misleads. As the US makes up 22% of that quantum – so to me the question is how will Trump effect a U turn on the TPP without derogating from his election pledge to kill the TPP.
As the US needs the TPP more than Asia with the exception of Singapore and Japan.
Q: Trump says that he prefers one to one trade pacts with countries. Wouldn’t that be a substitute to the TPP?
A: Then he has to factor in the cost of ten more Nimitz class carriers or maybe three more Ford class carriers that each come at a price tag of USD$20 billion per pop – I am not even counting in staging post along with all the accoutrements that is required to support the military infrastructure such a massive commitment to the seventh fleet. Again this is economics!
The TPP is the cheapest way to get the job done – so we are back where we once started from…how will Trump effect a U turn and bring the TPP back online.
It’s conceivable Trump may have painted himself into a corner – then again never underestimate a show man. Because they’re all very clever at pulling rabbits out of top hats.
In summary I see the year of the rooster to be quite uneventful despite the prevailing sentiment of anxiety caused by the upset of a Trump win.
My greater concern is the inexorable slow down of the Chinese economy that for some curious and incomprehensible reason doesn’t seem to feature as prominently in the main stream media as it rightly should.
And this underscore the importance of scale and perspective – because if a port worker in Tanjong Pagar or a welder in Keppel shipyard is going to retrenched – the chances are it will relate to the economic slow down in China and not Trump.
The Chinese economic planners are of course putting in place a strategy to engineer a soft landing without decimating their emerging middle class or precipitating social unrest – they are fixated on the latter. As at every turning point in Chinese history violent political change has always been presaged by economic turmoil in the form of famine or maladministration in statecraft – they read, 6.5% growth and they go wow! I wish we could grow like that. But what they don’t realize is how systematically imbalanced this growth actually is to even cancel out the good that may come from a 6.5% growth – as when one factors in overcapacity especially in infrastructure, housing and commercial space the economy is excessively imbalanced and therefore it will have to thru a correction sometime in the future.
The question is how disruptive will it be to China and rest of Asia when that iceberg breaks off.
The other more worrisome aspect of the fragile Chinese economy relates to manufacturing output – we know it’s slowing down, but what we don’t know is how many that slow down may affect the new bourgeois or nouvue riche in the new enterprenuerial class – as many have expanded their operations not only by purchasing western manufacturing capital goods – but if orders shrink and they can’t run their lines. Then how can they service their loans. So the question is what the level of defaults there and how badly might the new merchant class in a China be impacted by the global slow down. The problem as I see it is getting hold of accurate economic intelligence data – the Chinese manufacturing index is far from reliable, it’s not like the US where it’s refereed by Standard and Poor or even combed for inconsistencies by the FED and the IMF – so things are very opaque.
No one actually knows – but the Chinese economy is definitely slowing down – consumption is constricting, employment is so far not seemingly affected, but it’s not as self confident as it used to be and I think all these factors will have a preponderant effect on South East Asia in the year of the rooster.
So to put in all the right scale and perspective. I am more worried about China than the US. I don’t deny the US is certainly disproportionally much more interesting because I think Melanie Trump’s baby blue Raplh Lauren dress was certainly very chic and gorgeous. But in the larger schema – I think it will be China, China and China that will be the mainstay of my interest in the year of the rooster.
We will certainly reach in further to tap on more information on the key indicators to see where the China economy is heading in the year of the rooster.
Thank you for having me and may I extend seasonal greetings to the guilds.
Q: I am sorry but I have one last question that the Guilds are especially interested in – what advice would you give to those who joining or who are already in the job market?
A: If you’re new. Try to get into the Singapore civil service. As providing you fail traditionally – you get to enjoy a pension. But if you’re in the cut throat private sector – then I say you have to absolutely set aside sometime to invest in a strategy to start your own enterprise. As the life cycle of today’s employee is much shorter and by the looks of it, it will get shorter. Not perhaps in all vocational sectors. But most will naturally as function of the business process go thru this metamorphosis simply because of the allure of the profit motive and the perennial need for firms to find new ways to maximize value.
These days the compact between firm and worker is so transactional – that once you reach a certain age band – then you’re in their accounting books you’re a liability that they simply can’t afford.
Well some people may saw experience counts. But I say in the age of the internet where knowledge is just one tap away – that doesn’t inspire much confidence. Then there are those who believe in training – but my response to that there are issues to diminishing returns from the firms point of view.
I don’t necessarily blame the business process per se. As if the HR doesn’t ask questions like how can we make use and throw this person out in two years. They probably wouldn’t be around.
So to me the most sustainable way out of this requires a paradigm shift where one really has to see oneself as the CEO of your own branding of products and services.
It’s certainly a new way of thinking for Singaporeans. Because everyone seems to just want to ace in their exams, get a government scholarship and they’re set for life. But not everyone can make the grade and even some who do, decide to jump ship for whatever reasons.
That means workers today need to have the end in very first day when they enter the job market – they need to be curious, inquisitive and not take for granted that their jobs will always be there for them.
It can be done. If you go to Hong Kong for example and you ask young people whether they want a scholar ship and be bonded – they will say, why do I want to waste my life? I want to be Li Kha Shin. It’s the same culture in America.
I am not saying skip university. No! See it thru to it’s logical end. Get that piece of paper. Because even should you start your own enterprise one day that will certainly serve you well – all I am saying is don’t ever limit your scope of possibilities to just Singapore alone – go out, spend a year bumming around Europe in a motorbike. Sleep under bridges. Grow a beard. Step into a museum on a rainy day. Buy a train ticket and go to a place that you have never ever heard of before.
Hopefully somewhere in all that you will find inspiration for what you really want to do with your life.
Q: You decided to become a farmer. That must be pretty strange. Was that the process or route that you took to find your calling?
A: Just imagine you’re in this really hip joint where they serve Martini’s drowned in Lychees with vapors of dry ice and techno music is playing and they’re really leggy chicks and one of them turns to you and ask – where do you see yourself in five years. And you reply, I want to be a farmer.
That’s it lah! You’re not going to get any dates lah. Comimg to think of it that could be one reason why I wasn’t too hot with the girls in University.
But for me there was this time when I bought a fourth hand motorbike and decided to ride around Europe. Eventually I made it all the way to Poland. Them I said to myself, I still have enough gas – so I rode it all the way into Russia – that was just around the period when the USSR broke into a million pieces and the border was really porous. To cut a long story short – I bike died in the Ukraine. I had to work in this farm to buy a horse. It was the height of summer.
You know when you’re young – you’re impressionable and one day when I was just lying down on a haystack with the farmers daughter in my arms and we were just watching the puffy clouds go by – I said to myself, how wonderful if this day could last forever.
I guess what I am trying to say here is some times to really find one’s calling or where you want to go in life. You simply need to be get lost first.
Maybe I was just lucky I found it on top of that haystack.
January 28, 2017
It’s easy to forget the truly important things in life in the hustle and bustle of Chinese New Year. This year, if you are going to be celebrating the year of the Rooster as part of a loving family and community where people are safe and healthy, that is a true blessing worth celebrating.
Only light a candle for those who are in faraway lands. As even if they are not there with all of you…they carry only YOU and your well being in their hearts…..wherever they are.
We do not sulk. We suck in all in like real men. As this is our karma…the life of the frontier man. As for those who are celebrating CNY in the home front. Smile. Never ever allow sadness to creep into your hearts…not even for one moment. As not every man has the rare privilege to be driven by a noble mission to go out into the uncharted and make a better world for those who he loves with the sheer power of his will.
Many can talk, but very few can do this day in and out without ever once complaining.
Work is religion!
‘If you go to the darkest forgotten regions of Africa where even angels fear to tread – do not be surprised should you find the frontier man peering at a rock intently with a loop – he’s a miner. You can tell as they all have that searching look in their eyes like a man on a mission – today is probably marked on a calendar nailed to a post in his field tent, it might just be a scrawl with perhaps a faded print of his wife and kids tacked beside it. From time to time this man looks at this image then to his watch – he leafs thru a manual of tabula and suddenly a smile breaks across his weather worn features. He’s lucky today. The satellite will arc thru the godless sky soon and maybe if he’s lucky and his batteries hold, he might be able to speak to his wife and children for a while and that is all he needs to carry on.
To this man to go where no mind dares to go is a religion. Work is prayer. And the litany of another day in the dusty heat of the mines in a sea of savages is meditation.
Deep in the emerald green somewhere in South America – do not be surprised should you also come across a frontier man standing at the edge his soya fields. They stretch out as far as the eye can see and as light bows out to darkness filling the star filled night skies all this man can do is feel the pangs of being separated from his loved ones back home – soon he too smiles. Yes, it’s been a very tough year battling El Niño. But the man wears a satisfied look. As he gave as good as he took and even rolled as best he could with the punches to finally make it safely to the other side. While others floundered on the rocks. This man may be worn, tired and spent, but he’s happy as like the lone miner he too is a man with a mission.
As to this man – to go where no mind dares to go is a religion. Work is prayer. And the litany of another day in the fields is meditation.
In the flaming lit forest of skyscrapers in Shanghai an accountant looks out wantonly into the far distance where the sea seems to separate between the muddy line of the Wanchao and the paraffin blue of the Pacific – he too wonders about his family back home and occasionally he even notices, he’s lost a hour or two having imaginary conversations with the characters far back home – yes…it happens usually this time of the year he says to himself – but nonetheless he too smiles, as he too like the miner and farmer all belong to men cut from the same cloth – they’re all frontier men.
Men who all chosen to take wing and go the other way and not settle for less as taxi drivers and security guards. Not because it is easy. But because it is difficult and at times heart wrenching…as that is the mathematics of reality of what it takes to create a better life for our children.
Men who understand servanthood, duty, risk taking and the wisdom to keep at it, even when it’s tough as nails. Men who have the uncommon courage to pick up the pieces should it go wrong as it sometimes does only to start again….men who are all driven by a mission.
I wish you all happy Chinese New Year and I too like every single one of you who may not be able to return home this year will light at candle to honor you all…wherever we all may be…you are not alone.’
January 27, 2017
Q: I am sure you are aware President Trump has signed an executive order to effectively annul the TPP. Do you still maintain your original position the TPP will be revived despite such a clear and unambiguous intent to terminate the TPP?
A: I don’t see an inconsistency as to what I mentioned about the TPP in the past – contrary to how you have put it across inadvertently or by design – I never ever said Trump would sign off on the TPP. What I did say was the TPP will go thru minor alterations and will be repackaged as something other than the TPP, but what will eventually come to pass will essentially be the TPP.
I think it’s important to distinguish between showmanship and the realities of power and politics – the two don’t have much to do with each other, but at times there can be overlap – since so many people voted for Trump as he promised to put and end to the TPP. So I see this as just a fulfillment of what appears to be an election pledge to those who voted for him on the kill the TPP tag line. But try as hard as Trump may to run away from the power and politics of global trade and commerce – it’s in my opinion stupid for the US not to go ahead with the TPP.
Q: What makes you so surefire 100% the TPP isn’t RIP?
A: It is RIP! But that’s only because RIP to me reads rise if possible. Let’s talk sense. If Trump is really serious killing the TPP. he would have included appendixes like both – the Trade in Services Agreement (TISA) and the U.S.-China Bilateral Investment Treaty. Neither did Trump put an end to the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP).
So there is a wealth of information out there in the public domain to suggest Trump is not going to do away with the TPP. As both TISA and TTIP would be quite meaningless without the TPP. All three ‘trade’ agreements which actually have nothing whatsoever to do with trade and everything to do with economic warfare against China and Russia have to work in combination for the whole thing to fulfill it’s operational criteria.
Q: You still maintain the TPP has nothing to do with promoting free trade?
A: Yes there are elements of trade. That goes without saying. For example Canadian farmers will be able to break into the lucrative beef and pork market in Japan and Vietnam. Oil palm cooking oil will feature on racks in Wall-Mart for the first time along side peanut and soya bean oil. But strip the The Trans-Pacific Partnership of 12 nations that rim the South China Sea right down to it’s chassis – and you will discover the primary objective is a geo political strategy to blunt China’s sphere of influence thru the doctrine of economic containment.
People who talk about the TPP as a trade agreement are just a very disingeneous lot – what trade benefits are there? When 22% of the supposedly 40% of the trade is sucked up by the US. Besides most of these countries that make up the TPP already have close economic ties with each other and have very liberal trade relationships.
Please don’t get me wrong – I am not saying Singapore will not benefit economically. Neither am I am saying Singapore will not be able to secure it’s primacy as a trading hub regionally with the TPP. But you have to understand the main push for the TPP is not trade it is to reinstate US primacy in the Pacific theater and blunt China’s economic and military expansionism.
Q: Why do you oppose the TPP?
A: I have already explained my position time and again. I want to be explicitly clear here – if this interview is going to proceed as if we are going around in ever diminishing circles. Then I will stop it. Am I clear?
OK my reasons for opposing the TPP is because what we have essentially is the US ganging up with twelve other countries in Asia and presenting China with an ultimatum – you play by our rules or we are going to cut all your market access to these countries who have all agreed to sign up to play only by US rules. Come on. Use your mentality not even the Mafia or Yakuza or for that matter the millers that I sell my palm fruit to will ever have ever the temerity to do that just for the sake of protecting their hegemony.
Q: Is TTIP conceived with the same design as the TPP then? It seems you have quite a lot of sympathy and disappointment for China and what the US and their allies are doing to her. How true is that?
A: The Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP). Is exactly the same, the iron fist in the velvet glove of TTIP that again hides under the appellation of free trade is none other than NATO’s grand design to further it’s military and economic expansion into Eastern Europe and the Balkans – both TTIP, like the TPP, are not so different from the oil embargo that was once imposed on Japan in 1941 – it is a tacit form of economic warfare to ensure that the EU does not entangle it’s interest with Russia and their allies to such an extent where the balance of power tips in favor of the Russians.
I am sorry for not responding to your supplementary question – but I believe I have in the past informed you on numerous occasions to only structure one question and no more at any one time to facilitate our readership.
Q: You seem to be disappointed that the US and their allies are putting a gun to China’s head? Why?
A: You know disappointment is a lover’s word – I’ve got no love lost with the US or for that matter even China. If I oppose the spirit and intendment of the TPP it is simply because it is bellicose, unilateral and structured unlike a dicta which can only be interpreted by any nation in this day and age as provocative and confrontational.
I don’t think you understand how confrontational the TPP can only be interpreted by China – it’s like twelve oil millers around my plantation forming a cartel and one day they submit me a document with terms stating that I can only sell my fruit at X price. I cannot buy more land or for that matter trade under any other rules except those that they have seen fit to unilaterally impose on me.
By every known definition of the Clausewitzian doctrine war is a continuation of politics by other means – this is war!
So I don’t blame China for seizing the Terrex’s. I just can’t figure out why they didn’t melt it down and flog it off as key chains to tourist.
Q: Trump’s justification for the annulment of the TPP is that it steals US jobs. Do you agree with that?
A: Hey no one is stealing anyone’s job. Mexico is not stealing American jobs. Neither is China or the Vietnamese who make pretty great base ball hats printed with the words ‘make America great again!’ There is no SPECTRE. No bald guy stroking a cat with evil designs to subjugate humanity and reduce us all to automatons.
The reason why jobs are going abroad is driven primarily by technology – even in the US itself jobs that used to rely on humans have been automated or completely replaced by robots. You go to NTUC supermarket – you see two queues, one is manned by the friendly auntie who is a cashier and the other is scan yourself and go and in a few more years if we go by the reliability of Moore’s law – you can even go pick it up and walk right out and everything will be automatically credited along with debiting your supermarket stamps. That’s to say many traditional jobs that once required human division of labor are fast disappearing from the manufacturing landscape. The same applies to the corporate world as well accounts along with call centers are being outsourced wholesale – these days you call up a toll free hot line for a American or EU product and the chances are Joe is probably an Indian national on the red eye shift somewhere in Mumbai – so I don’t really see how jobs can possibly come back to the US ever again. I don’t deny some can. Some should even. Some should not have even be transplanted even. But to assume the bulk can return is simply not realistic, nor does it make manufacturing strategic sense either. Because US industries no longer possess the technological edge when it comes to mass production – they don’t have the capital goods in the form of machinery or for that matter raw materials or even the economies of scale to absorb everything they manufacture.
Do you realize the only country in this planet that still has the capacity to manufacture American jeans is Japan. Because they bought all those old machines when American firms outsourced abroad. Even then it’s done on a cottage industry scale, but the question is are you willing to fork out USD$2,000 for a pair of good olde Levi’s.
What I think Trump et al should really be talking about if he is really serious about making America great again is really basic life stuff – like ameliorating the corrosive conditions in the US that makes it so expensive to get a college education. Putting an end to this bullshit of contract workers just because it’s a convenient way for firms to manipulate their accounts so as to demonstrate to shareholders they’re in the pink when in fact all they’re doing is debasing the idea of dignity of labor. Getting firms like what BMW and Mercedes are doing by making the workplace more sympathetic to older workers so that they can remain productive and more importantly retain their wage earning capacities beyond their twilight years. Creating conditions where wealth really percolates down to the ordinary man in the street, nourishing the idea of the family man so that couples will can see a bright future to vote with genes to start families. Getting more people to read serious stuff that even requires them to bear out the beauty of words along the understanding the breadth of ideas that cannot possibly fit into one sentence twitter nano bites, so that they can make informed decisions.
To me these would be a rational response to the ongoing political, social and economic crisis that confronts the US and to some extent the UK.
As believe it or not – the real threat that America has to deal with is not Russia, China or even rouge states like North Korea or even radicals like Al Qaeda – America’s real enemy resides within the marrow of the bones of America itself in the form of the new marginalized underclass who no longer read or for that matter choose to work things out with the power of knowledge.
And mind you – when you couple the idea of democracy with terminal ignorance it’s can be a very dangerous thing – as freedom in that feral context of democracy can even mean that I have every right to fuck up my life and perhaps even yours as that’s my elemental right in a democracy. You see that is the paradox of democracy.
The world is certainly in a right bloody mess!
Q: Why is it about the TPP that Trump opposes to such a strong extent? Is it true that it will…I do beg your pardon. Why don’t you answer that question first.
A: If you ask me there is nothing fundamentally wrong with the TPP from a geo political standpoint – it makes sense to counterbalance the rise of China. It makes even more sense to entrench the primacy of the US without relying on their carrier doctrine alone because that is very expensive. But I think the way in which the proponents of the TPP went about crafting their designs was a public relations disaster that makes the Chernobyl fall out look like a oversize mosquito repellent going off accidentally. First it was conceived in absolute secrecy. Can you imagine in this day and age. I mean not even Magna Carta was conceived that way. Secondly they consulted none of the stakeholders – in fact the stakeholders were specifically excluded and instead those who stand the most to profit from the TPP, the corporate and multinational elite were the only ones who were privy to all the communications and rationale relating to the TPP.
Now bear in mind, while all this is happening US workers have suffered years of stagnating or falling wages, their industries are decimated, devastating the communities they sustained.
Both Republicans, Democrats and even the Singapore government are equally complicit for this unnecessary veil of secrecy concerning the TPP. They never ever once had the wisdom to consider the possibility all they were creating was for the perfect tsunami of anger and resentment which would one day be the raw material to put a show man into the worlds most powerful office.
So don’t blame Trump for this. Don’t blame the American people either. How could they know anything about the TPP it’s even more secretive than the brotherhood or 322. If you want to ascribe blame accurately – blame the political establishment and corporatist.
Q: What would your prescriptive cure be for the post truth generation and how could the world best reverse the Brexit and Trump harbingers?
A: That is a very good question. It’s preceptive. Because it hits the nail squarely on the head – I imagine the Guilds are also interested to know as well. Let me just share with you my daily reading material. Everyday at 1630 GMT I receive an electronic parcel of reading material – it’s ranges anywhere from the Diplomat, Jane’s Defense Monthly, The American Scholar to Proceedings to even Russian along with Chinese commentaries – they all been vetted by our scholars in the ASDF. This material cannot intercepted. Not even by Echelon or GCHQ. I read. Usually around five in the morning. That’s the time when I usually wake up.
But the question you have to ask yourself is why do I read diligently – let me put it in a nutshell – the future is opportunity to me. Some people make money by spinning the roulette wheel or taking their chances on Baccarat. If I can predict what can happen in six or a year down the road – that to me is gold!
As it can be leveraged on to good effect.
As for your usage of post truth generation – what the hell might you be talking about? You mean to say that rag called the strait times is the gold standard of reportage? Who the hell do you think you’re talking too a wide eyed JC kid?
The way I see it – there has only be lies, lies and more lies from officialdom – and that underscores the importance of being well read, educated and informed.
If you really want to know what will be the one indelible quality that will separate the enlightened from the ignorant proud and stupid in the 21st century it is simply this – the ability to winnow lies from truth.
January 27, 2017
Constantly cultivating the art of how to be alone and perfectly comfortable in solitude is central I imagine to the idea of wholeness. When one is not afraid to be or to stand alone, only then can one associate with others without having to use them as a means of escaping the pains and boredom of life….this is the foundation of all real interactions.
It begins with having an independent mind.
Good manners I imagine will always take one very far in life – whether it is reciprocated in kind is not really important. The point is to follow right thru the custom of being good mannered and well spoken all the time, irrespective of how others may regard you.
As the real test of being good mannered is never what others do. Rather it is how well you are able to maintain this discipline.
I am certainly not 100% there. But for the time being – those I rather not see. I make a specific point to avoid seeing and even if that is not possible, it’s best to keep it short and sweet.
‘Live long enough in the wild and it will get right underneath your skin – yes, the wild can burrow deep inside a man…any man. Doesn’t even matter whether it’s a ramrod of probity, sobriety and sagacity without him even realizing it….only to transform him animal.
Civilization or humanity. Which ever way you choose to see it will I imagine always be crumbly in the wild – for me it’s always a conscious effort to keep it all whole and complete like the infinity of the circle…to keep at it…to always be within the circle and never to stray too far from the well trodden path.’
The reborn man dressed in his tuxedo in the city may have looked like all other men that once came in and out of her life. But this man was indelibly different despite his sheen of civility and education – as the woman in red could sense him running his fingers ever so softly thru the contours of her fear and fascination – something was stirring in her like how one leafs through an old book and suddenly a postcard, picture or note slips right out – something from the past had screamed out lancing what would have past as perhaps another pleasant and uneventful evening – in that one moment of serendipity where fate intersects destiny life suddenly takes an unexpected and dangerous turn.
This was the expression of the woman in red wore as she watched this new man who is so unlike that farmer working through the kitchen. The man knew she wasn’t so self assured now and he reveled in watching the weapon she had forge against him turned on her – sitting on her barstool, she could make out his care free ease with the other Argentinian chefs – they must go back a long way. Maybe all the way back to those rumors where they said, he used to have a blond European wife and they lived together in a sugarcane plantation…till the war came.
Pictures hung to one corner behind the counter – the woman in red moved closer – she could make out a younger version of the man sitting on an open top race car holding a magnum Champagne with a couple of others holding up a Nicaraguan flag. A young blond girl sat beside the man. He had his arms around her. They looked happy.
In the next picture, the man was on horseback with the blond woman – he wore ridding breeches, knee high boots and a Panama. They looked as if he had just told her the linchpins to a joke. The woman in red noticed the blond girl was chewing on straw. They looked happy.
Just as the woman in red was about to turn away – she noticed a picture tucked away into a hidden recess – a sort of space where chefs usually keep their personal stuff. The woman in red moved furtively drawing the curtain – an array of black and white photos of most men – they all wore fatigues, carried guns, just as about she was going to turn away. She caught sight of a strange black and white photograph of a naked man covered only by a piece of skin – the man held a bow and rifle was slung across his shoulders. He stood on a large round rock. Beneath him bobbing heads of tribesmen – many of them had that all familiar look of curiosity mixed with surprise – all except the man who stood erect on the rock with his face painted to look like a human skull.
She recognized those eyes – those same eyes of desolation and loss that she too had once seen so many times in the mirror from her many torrid relationships with callous men – that finally led her to settle for the next best idea – that she would now transform her beauty into a weapon to secure herself in the material world – to accomplish this feat the woman in red had turned her back resolutely on the idea of love and married the grand old man to be his apprentice, lover and confidant.
But as she peered deeper into the eyes of the man who stood on the rock – she knew this was a man who didn’t care whether he lived or died, ate or starved to death – there was a lingering sadness in his eyes. A faraway look as if his soul was somewhere else and all that remain was some spent effigy – one that even the woman in red turned away from – as she realized for the very first time that evening – the man who sat across her on the table was a man who had known the same depths of sorrow that she had once experienced.
He must have. The woman in red murmured to herself, “I’ve seen that same look in the mirror before…”
With these thoughts it saddened the woman in red profoundly for what would have to follow.
As for the new man, he realized the woman before her that day had blinked….he could have pressed on. Instead he said to himself, he had all the time in the world.
The night was still young…the opera was yet to begin.
January 24, 2017
During the failed Suriman expedition – when I encountered tribesmen deep in the virgin forest. We had no means to communicate. One night while riven in the delirium of malaria fever. The headman brought out an old pair of WW 2 era goggles and a water bottle – from the inscription the headman drew on the sand these artifacts resembled the circle of the empire of Japan.
At first I did not understand what all this meant – only much later did the connection dawn on me that I might have once looked like a Japanese soldier to these tribesmen who had followed me for days without even me realizing it. Perhaps once upon a time such a man had crashed his plane deep in the jungle and they must have believed I was that same tragic pilot who had now appeared before them.
It’s very hard to convey meaning or even thoughts when the tribesmen I once encountered deep in the jungle untouched by the hand of modernity, do not seem to share our concept of linearity of time through units of measurement like days, months or years. Events aren’t broken down neatly into sequential parcels of dates or time where the past, present and future is clearly delineated and assigned a place in the past, present or future – when one of the braves put on the goggles and took the worn water bottle to my lips – it pleased the elders who all smiled wryly and even though I could not understand what was said between them, it must have been…he will soon be up running – it then in the glow of the wan of a tongue of light, these old men were all suddenly young again as they all smiled supremely.
Eventually I did recover my strength and vigor thanks to these tribesmen.
The lesson here is very often we take the idea of time for granted – farmers I imagine more than others can only see it all splayed out in the chastening passage of how time is marked by one season bowing out and another stepping in….only for the whole process to end and begin again like the idea of the mythical circle in the movie the Arrival – the simple idea of conceiving and even regarding time differently from others and how this may affect our perception of reality, is indisputably one of the most fascinating dimensions of the human condition.
I often wonder in the quiet moments of the lonely nights all by myself deep in the plantation – far removed from the distractions of the world. So far that when I look up into the heavens on a starry night – I can even make out details that only those who have known desolation can ever experience such aching beauty and awe….if we as mankind can see the future of how the world will be in the future…will we perhaps treat her with more kindness and consideration.
I do wonder.
It’s sad that we seem to only seem to have a blinkered view of time – I wonder if we can see a shriveled up prune of a old hag in a beautiful young girl, will we still love her? Or see the fullness of her beauty in a old woman? Will we perhaps even feel compelled to raise question on how so much of life is impermanent and transient.
‘Sci-fi can be cerebral at times. Eye opening even. In so far as it can even alter the way you see yourself in relation to the idea of time and people and events. No Arrival is definitely not Starwars – for one the sequence of the movie itself attempts to mimic the unorthodox way the aliens perceive the idea of time and I imagine communication as well – that in the movie, man is content to interpret as the word ‘weapon.’
Thru out the movie the main protagonist is thrust into the future without her even realizing it – she sees images of a young girl at varying stages in her growth, but she doesn’t know who or how this girl fits into her life….only because she is shackled to the idea of linearity of time. Eventually when the main protagonist cracks the codex that enables her to communicate with the aliens – she realizes the term ‘weapon’ refers to knowledge or a gift – the gift to see the world differently from the way she is accustomed to seeing it – that’s when she realizes the child that she keeps seeing in dreams is her unborn child who she even knows will die young from a rare and incurable disease. As since she’s a linguist, we are not told why despite knowing that her unborn will die, she still decides on being a mother. Perhaps by then her understanding of time and how events may unfold has changed so much that it really just like the circular patterns the aliens use to communicate states of minds – there is no actual beginning or end in a circle, just perhaps the perpetuity of motion in the way a person chooses the various options that presents itself in the course of his or her life at every point in this circle….and that is perhaps a metaphor that life will go on.
Serendipity and chance I imagine may feature preponderantly in this circular motion – but even despite the power of foreknowledge that the choices we may make may all not always end well as in the case of her her unborn child. Nonetheless, just like the main protagonist who commits herself to motherhood – perhaps what the movie is trying to convey to me with my limited processing capacity – is the act of living is not about trying to bubble wrap oneself to best live a purpose driven life. Life. Or shall I say to be part of living is by itself a dichotomy between good and bad, happiness and sadness, power and powerlessness. I am reminded life is hardly the stuff of breaking in new boots – it’s doesn’t ever get suppler or comfier with regular use. I guess some things do – like being able to wash my clothes while I shower in five minutes flat. But for the significant aspects of life – the act of living requires the acceptance of loss and perhaps even pain that comes from taking a chance on life. And it is this interplay between pain and relief, happiness and sadness that makes it all worthwhile. Often I say to myself whenever a new dog comes into my life…hold back a bit…hold back, because one day when he or she leaves, it will leave you feeling so blue that you would only wish you didn’t give all of yourself to that experience. But when I think back about the good times and the many moments when I threw caution with the wind and ran to my hearts content. Even in profound sadness I could at least say, i never once held back and I don’t ever have any regrets. Not at all. As pain and happiness is really one of the same line that makes up the circle of life.
And at times, when I see a new parcel of land…again there is always a niggling part that murmurs, hold back some as she will break your heart like twig when things take a bad turn.
But I never hold back…after all what’s the point, at least I gave it all. And even if it gave me back only one little grain of happiness that could well be the difference between living and just existing.
That I imagine is the essence of what it means to live…to commit to the act of love even should only have the foreknowledge that it may not always end happily and to just revel in the moments while it all last. As that is all there is to life…and very little else…life is after all just a series of endless circles.’
January 24, 2017
Q: There has been much emphasize on the China factor. As to how it will affect the economies and geo politics of the Asia Pacific theatre. The same level of emphasize seems to be lacking concerning seemingly warming ties between Trump and Putin – how do you see the dynamics of the relationship between these two leaders and how will their combined designs have an impact on Asia?
A: I think that’s a very perceptive question – it’s certainly very true, while there has been top heavy emphasize on Sino American ties, very little seems to be directed to speculating on how Russian and American ties in the context of Trump and Putin might affect power and politics in this part of the world.
The way I see it – it all boils down to one question, cui bono? That’s to say what does Putin really want from a new Trump administration – to say better relationships is to really say absolutely nothing. So we need to be very specific about Putin’s shopping list.
If I had to boil it all down to a few points – Putin’s wish list would have to include higher oil prices in the short term and on the long term perhaps the lifting of sanctions that has been imposed by the EU on the instigation of the Obama administration.
On oil – let’s be realistic, while Putin has very little say on the global price of oil – as it’s really free market at work. Putin is very determined to maintain Russia’s primacy as the sole supplier of oil and gas to power Europe. That is the main reason why Russia has been propping up the Assad regime.
Now the media showcases this as Putin’s war against ISIS, but nothing can be further from the truth – as if one examines all the key targets that has been bombed right back into the Stone Age. Some of it is certainly ISIL held territory, but most the strategic targets have been to regain territory once held by proxies funded directly by the Saudi’s, Turks and NATO to build a new oil pipe line that stretches all the way from the Foroozan-Marjan Field in Saudi Arabia via Syria, Turkey to greater Europe. Currently no such oil or gas line exist and everything has to go thru the Straits of Hormuz that just makes Saudi oil and gas uncompetitive when compared to what Russia has to offer. To put it bluntly the Saudi’s want to muscle into the lucrative oil business that is currently held by the Russians thru their Caucasus pipeline that stretches thru the Balkans and is currently operational.
Trump’s entry into the White House could be Putin’s moment to reinstate Russia’s primacy as the sole gas and oil supplier to Europe.
The second pressing consideration on Putin’s wish list is to revitalize his country’s economy through new partnerships with US and European businesses, which have been prevented from trading with Russia due to a pheltora of sanctions since a Russia annexed the Crimea.
That’s especially important to Putin as the effect of sanctions have been crippling on Russian industries especially the oil and gas component manufacturers who now cannot even secure funding or for that matter high tech capital goods to fabricate many of the components to keep the Russo Euro pipeline in tip top working condition – if you go to many of these tech forums in Russia, you will find many enterprises grumbling that they can’t get this or that or even if they can get their hand on exotic materials, they can’t machine it to the closed tolerances that ensures quality – now from what we have been able from all this chatter, businesses are not happy in Russia – the sanctions are affecting not only their capacity to innovate but it’s conceivable it’s already degrading many of their high tech industries that still rely on Western technology.
Of course if we look at Putin – he’s cool like a cucumber, but trust me after this weekly briefing from his trade and industry minister I am sure even he is sweating bullets fast and furious. As the effects of these sanctions are not only far reaching, but since they have so sophisticated they’re literally designed to constrict Russia’s ability to manufacture anything of comparative value that the West may have to offer.
In the public front Putin is of course putting on a very brave face, but the sanctions are definitely bitting not only the technological dimension. But it’s even having a debilitating effect on ordinary Russians who once took out housing loans pegged against the US – so all this will have a negative impact on the balance of payment.
As we speak right now – it’s not far off to say Russia is already a failed state. Not maybe as bad as Greece or Zimbabwe, but they’re not too far off.
In the background of all this developments – I think Putin’s priority would be to work towards lifting western sanctions. That I imagine would be his first priority. The second would be to reinstate Russia’s primacy as the sole gas and oil supplier to greater Europe.
Q: How would Trump respond to these overtures and how will all this affect Asia?
A: How will Trump respond is matter of intense speculation. On the surface, the relationship looks cordial to friendly – but you have to understand there are very committed stakeholders who seem very determined to ween themselves off dependence from Russian gas and oil – most of the reasons are economic and geo political. NATO sees this strategy of beggaring Russia as a reliable means to blunt it’s military projection into many of the previous satellite states that broke away when the USSR Balkanized. The Turks on the hand see the new Saudi pipeline as a means of reinstating much needed balance of power and respect with Europe and NATO. As currently they need the EU more than the EU needs them. As for the Saudi’s – they’re not stupid either. They know both the US and Canadians are slowly moving away from ground based drilling to fracking as their primary oil source. The prospects of being able to supply the EU with gas and oil opens up new markets which will allow them to out flank the Iranians who will have to still transport their oil thru the Arabia Gulf which will be less competitive.
To your second question – how will this all affect Asia? The ramifications are far reaching as when there is such intense pressure to sell surplus petroleum in that part of the world – it can only mean the price of oil will continue to languish around the 40 buck a barrel level.
In the long term this will definitely have an impact finding ever more inventive methods to lower the friction cost in the supply chain of petroleum from source to user – that I see is the part of the equation that has changed very little since Rockefeller first figured out that transporting oil with pipe was far cheaper and efficient than rail – I think when you factor all these pressures, it’s very hard to say Singapore can retain it’s primacy as a die die must visit trading outpost – ships may certainly have to circumnavigate the straits and hairpin thru Singapore to make their way to the Pacific – but increasingly there are more options up and down stream along the traditional trade routes. Not to mention new ones that are in development or have simply come about because of polar ice caps melting at a such an alarming rate that may circumvent traditional trade routes.
Of course the politicians will continue to say training is what will enable us to carve competitive advantages. But tell me who in their right mind believes them?
January 23, 2017
January 23, 2017
Q: What is likely to culminate in Trump’s downfall? Is it his acrimonious relationship with the media? Or would his failure to deliver on his promises be his undoing? Might it perhaps even be the level of division with the US that will lead to this?
A: None of these things. Not even the seemingly souring of ties with China. You got to understand, he just took his seat in the cockpit of power – it’s very early days and people are still hopeful. And this includes many who may not agree entirely with Trump.
Besides all these things that you mentioned will take some time to degrade even with the roll out of badly policies and stratagem – China ties with the US will be status quoed, only because if it in any way altered even slightly, it may precipitate a tit for tat trade war or worst still backfire on US firms – so any U turn there will likely take time and be staged to take place in steady increments.
The same holds true for broken promises – they will take time as well – but Trump is a great show man. He knows how to work the crowd. So we are likely to see how doable things in the short term such as increased vetting of immigrants and perhaps even repatriating foreign aliens back. But stuff like the wall – that’s not going to ever happen simply because the border between the US and Mexico is nothing like the West Bank in Israel or Palestine whatever you wish to call it.
I know there is talk of impeachment and a vote of no confidence – but even that I don’t feel can possibly gather enough traction in the short term to eject Trump. As Trump has shown a remarkable ability to be Janus faced when it comes to smoothing out those who he once pissed off – Romney is a very good illustration.
As for the neo liberal intellectuals – they might be a real threat. As their influence is not only all pervasive, but since they do garner a significant percentage of the silent majority vote they can inflict damage via the media – but then again Trump has demonstrated that he is quite adept and amenable to accommodating differences of opinions in his team – recently the ex CEO of Exxon Mobil was recruited into his apparent think tank and that guy is a very strong supporter of the TPP – so again the battle lines are not clearly drawn. You can’t say it’s them against him – as Trump seems to be quite inclusive despite his rhetoric that may indicate otherwise.
If there is any threat that is likely to emerge, it will be from within where he’s most vulnerable – and on the balance of probabilities it will be from the intelligence and clandestine services.
Trump is very clear here when on how he wants to define his administration with the intelligence services. How clear that intent is. Your guess is as good as mine as we are dealing with a show man, but if the office of the President is going to have an acrimonious relationship with the CIA and NSA to such an extent where he is going to do it his own way a la Frank Sinatra style.
Then this will completely alter how information is shared between the various intelligence and security services around the world – Mossad will do it’s own thing. M15 possible 6 will also clam up. As for NATO they will keep two books. Wikileaks will also do it’s own thing as well – as you have to understand Assange is not truly independent. So everyone is going to end up speaking in tongues like what eventually brought down the Tower of Babel.
Now that will happen because intelligence is essentially a cloak and dagger game – that relies on a web of operatives that are all embedded to varying degrees behind what you can term enemy lines or in no man’s land – so no government in their right mind is going to compromise that sort of clandestine network that literally takes decades to build up.
Why would any government that understands how this cat and mouse game must be played to win – stick their neck out to even collaborate meaningfully? If the commander in Chief of the most powerful country in the world has decided to be pally with Putin – bear in mind Putin sees the world prosaically. He’s under no illusion. As he’s ex Lubankya KGB stock.
This quandary also puts both the CIA and NSA in an untenable position – because the question is should they even brief the President without first filtering information to hedge their exposure risk? So what’s likely to happen is we may even see the secret formation of a Star Chamber. An organization within an organization very much like the Prussian Abwehr who even secretly conspired against the Nazi’s and even Hitler himself because many of these army officers simply didn’t believe a glorified corporal could ever comprehend the intricacies of how the clandestine cloak and dagger game should and must be played to secure a win.
Now even today it’s a matter of intense speculation amongst military historians – why didn’t Hitler just snuff out the pesky Prussian officers in the Abwehr, since even at 1933. He was aware that they were constantly pursuing their own agenda which included internecine bureaucratic and administrative turf wars.
The short answer was the Abwehr though small and since emasculated by the Führerprinzip was essentially the intelligentsia of the Prussian officer creed – it’s influence within the aristocratic officer class in the Wehrmacht can only be described as disproportionate to it’s size and assigned range of powers. Even Hitler realized it was futile to take on the brotherhood of the Abwehr so what he did instead was Balkanize the intelligence services into the SD and Gestapo and to a limited degree the Waffen SS to degrade their influence.
But it’s difficult to kill off like minded people who share a common history, identity and even esprit – and not for one moment saying Trump is Hitler, but he certainly shares certain commonalities such as – he’s an outsider, he doesn’t seem to understand the importance of intelligence in relation to how it feeds into the idea of strategic planning and risk management and above all I don’t think intelligence services truly understands that he understands either.
I don’t wish to come across as conspiratorial – but it is certainly a theoretical possibility, they would work to remove Trump.
But what do I know, I am just a farmer.
Q: This Star Chamber. Is it based on reality? Or fiction?
A: You know I am just a simple farmer. So the last thing I need now is for a predator drone armed with a air to surface hellfire missile to circle my plantation and lock on and blow me out – it wouldn’t pretty because I like to wear flower print underwear.
But on a serious note. Star Chambers do exist. The only reason why the general public doesn’t hear about it is because it wouldn’t be much of a Star Chamber if everyone knew about it – you know Reagan was nearly indicted by Congress because Oliver North ran a Star Chamber to fund the Contras in Nicaragua using illegal proceeds by selling refurbished bone yard F-4 parts to Iran which were not sanctioned by the executive arm of the US – now what we have here is an outfit that operates outside the norms of the organizational structure and even has very unorthodox lines of reportage – officially it doesn’t exist!
I guess it’s a bit like UFO’s once you’ve seen a flying saucer, there’s no going back! Like I said, I am just a simple farmer – but I assure it’s real and if we go solely on the basis of the doctrine of precedent – it has happened and nothing suggest it cannot happen again. It occurred with Gerald Ford as well who outsourced his brain on foreign policy by appointing Henry Kissinger as the grand master of the lodge of the Star Chamber when they both bombed Laos. With Carter, the CIA regularly embellished, exaggerated and in certain cases even outright lied to the President as they wanted to keep the Shah of Iran in power.
Understand this! I am not making up things here in candle lit hut. All this is fact! I happen to read a lot.