October 3, 2016
Q: Do you see the possibility of war breaking out between China and the US in the South China Seas?
A: Absolutely and categorically no! Going down that road offers no pay outs, not for either China or the US and their allies. War is an act of exactation – that is to say it must be able to materialize real and tangible pay out’s otherwise there is no incentive to even moot the idea of war.
Fortunately the modeling to go to war or not is a very orthodox theoretical science that for the purposes of brevity is just a convoluted form of Nash Equilibria – that just means people don’t just wake up one morning and decide to go to war. I know the logic for waging war sounds quite perverse, but it’s actually very rational and sound.
Q: But don’t you agree the intensity of the military buildup in the South China seas is quite frightening and all it really takes is a spark to set the whole house burning.
A: Having said war is a zero possibility. This does not discount friction will definitely occur from time to time on the balance of probabilities. But what’s important to stress is that is not war. This is almost certain given that there is currently no rules of engagement or even code of conduct on both sides, but as time goes by some settling will occur and both sides can only begin to ritualize their responses. Ultimately what we are likely to see will resemble the case study of the Pakistanis and Indians. After munching on their Papadoms and tea at three the latter will fire two shells only for the former to respond with three. They even take turns to alternate who fires first. On public holidays and during national mourning, both sides stand down. That sort of thing. But that is not war, it’s just posturing.
In Militaries this is very normal.
Q: If both China and US stand to gain nothing out of this, then why are both sides investing so much hardware and manpower into the South China Seas.
A: Kindly rerun the tape recorder to the very beginning. I never ever said China or the US gained nothing out of this. I merely mentioned the possibility of war being zero.
Q: What does China get from behaving like a big bully in South China Seas? From what I am able to make out, all she seems to be doing is causing many ASEAN countries unnecessary anxiety and concern.
A: That is your perception. That incidentally is also because your vantage is from an observer outside China. But what’s notable for your learning outcome is the average Chinese does not see it that way at all and you must always keep that reality at the back of your mind whenever we discuss the South China seas.
The leaders in China are malvinizing the South China seas for domestic consumption. It’s hardly a matter of choice. As things are not as hunky dory in China – there are many cracks and fault lines which are widening even as we speak, as a result of a rapidly slowing economy.
This has to be the sum of all the fears of the Chinese leadership. As not only is this event historical but what adds considerably to the intensity and perhaps even heightens the stakes is that most Chinese have never ever experienced an economic downturn before.
You and I have. Not once but even a few times. But for the average Chinese he’s really only known La Dolce Vita – so this remains terra incognito – an unknown quantity and to exacerbate matters many have zero experiential knowledge as to how to cope with a rapidly slowing economy. Where instead of market surpluses, they are now creeping to a economy of market scarcity. Already there are very disturbing signatures – trans migration is reversing in the coastal region for the very first time. For the very first time since Deng Xia Peng promulgated the open door policy in the 80’s, droves of city dwellers are returning back to their kampungs. I mean returning back to the countryside.
These are of course things you don’t hear about even in China as information is controlled and filtered. But even by the most forgiving estimation – this has to be a very scary trend to the Chinese leadership.
As while I don’t doubt, they may certainly be able to successfully engineer a soft landing economically – it’s doubtful they can manage the emotional fall as well. We are talking about staggering figures here.
Hence the strategic need for malvinizing the South China Seas to leverage on the myth making machine to promote nationalism and galvanize the masses – this to me is the only game in town that currently occupies the mind of the Chinese leadership.
As it’s conceivable when things turn from bad to worse, the legitimacy and competence of the communist party will increasingly come under criticism from the masses along with many inconvenient questions concerning their raison d’être to rule.
I happen to have a lot of sympathy for the Chinese leadership. So I can understand why they need to engineer consent by playing up the South China Seas.
The problem is I feel many don’t. And that is always a cause for concern. As it takes considerable skill to manage an increasingly nervous and fearful China.
October 2, 2016
Q: Recently a global times article stated – Singapore should not push it. It cannot play the role of taking the initiative to help US and South East Asian countries to go against China over South China Sea matters. Do you think there is some truth to this?
A: There is undoubted some measure of truth in my personal opinion.
Q: Would you care to elaborate?
A: That’s not necessary. It’s all there in the public domain for anyone to connect the dots and draw their own findings.
Q: Singapore has been accused for playing a role in rebalance Asia-Pacific strategy by containing Chinese imperialistic plans – what exactly is meant by this? Are they referring to China’s plan to build a canal in Southern Thailand or might this be something to do with the grand Chinese one belt, one road initiative?
A: What frequently surprises me is people, who seem content to wax lyrical about China resurrecting the Silk Road in the form of the one belt, one road initiative never ever seem to factor in the scale and magnitude of the undertaking.
We are not talking about a couple tar roads. This is a huge undertaking and it’s sheer size and scope alone is really quite mind boggling.
Yes, the Khral Ismuth canal is certainly one major aspect of six other economic corridors – but as a stand alone by it’self, it doesn’t make much compelling sense. I think when you review the various elements of OBOR at a continental level, it’s really a hundred year plan. Even the Marshall plan did not have a completion date approaching anywhere near three digits – so although the idea looks very doable and even handsome on paper I am doubtful that it will ever come to fruition in either your or my lifetime. I don’t think it’s anything to worry about.
As for the proposed canal in Thailand. This is hardly a new idea. It’s been bandied around since the age of sail of King Rama. Nothing came of it then and absolutely nothing will come of it now.
Q: You seem to be quite dismissive of China’s plan to build a canal across Southern Thailand to bypass Singapore. Don’t you see any compelling reasons that support that idea?
A: There of course exist many compelling reasons to find an alternative route, such as the fact a quarter of the world’s trade goes thru the Straits of Malacca. That building the canal will shave off travel time and bring down the cost. That traffic in the straits is fast reaching saturation point and it’s even conceivable this will in the near future present an untenable security challenge to China since that’s their primary oil supply route from West to East.
But having said all that China is not the final decision maker, it’s the apparatchiks in Bangkok. Given historically the South has always been like Northern Ireland to the Thai elites – as it’s riven with religious, sectarian, class, cultural and tribal divides at so many levels. And this is a perennial problem. Some of which in my opinion cannot be happily wished away with just diplomacy and requires very serious long term counter insurgency solitons to effectively neutralize.
I don’t really see any pay outs for the Thai elites and power brokers at this moment to sign off on a super expensive canal project.
Let me put it another way. Why would the Thai elites and Chinese dig a big and expensive hole and lie in it?
Q: What does building a canal in southern Thailand have to do with the Chinese lying in a hole?
A: Everything! In 1956, the British landed paratroopers in Egypt to seize the Suez Canal. They didn’t do that for fun. Americans did the same when Noriega threatened to close the Panama Canal in the 80’s. Again they didn’t do that for fun either. In every single case it was strategic decision – as the closing of a canal represents a clear and present danger – by every known definition, a canal is not so different from a sea route. Keeping it open is a strategic precondition. It’s jugular – so the moment it’s constructed, it becomes a de facto protectorate of China.
Of course diplomatic parlance is so structured never to put it across in such terms. But that sort of mentality is automatic whenever stakeholders talk the language of canals.
The Thais are not stupid. They know this only too well.
Q: You seem very skeptical about China’s one belt, one road initiative. Can you please elaborate?
A: I am not completely skeptical. I just feel that as a global trade blueprint to enhance connectivity, certain elements can only be described as pie in the sky.
There is a very good reason why the British empire unlike the Romans did not see the wisdom of investing in roads and laying down railway tracks and instead saw fit to perpetuate their empire via the high seas. The sea cannot be blockaded easily. The entry cost is very high. You need a first class navy – even with that, one can always go around hard points. Most importantly one is always a moving target. The same cannot be said about fixed and embedded routes of transportation. They will always be very vulnerable to internal and external risk.
Having said that I am not completely dismissive of OBOR. Some elements such as the high speed rail network that links Singapore to Kunming and the proposed Eurasia economic corridor to revivify trade between China and the EU – is indeed doable and realizable within ten years.
But other proposed economic corridors such as connecting the continental shelf of West Africa to the Indian Ocean to the east of Mozambique. Or the idea of idea of constructing thousands of miles of irrigation canals that connect the Great Lakes of Uganda to Zaire right up to Chad and beyond Egypt to finally the Nile to terraform the desert into arable land are just the stuff of science fiction.
These people who come up with such plans should go live there for three years.
I think one has to be slightly circumspect when it comes to appraising the merits of OBOR.
Q: Why do you think the Chinese are so adamant over occupying the islands in the South China seas?
A: To me it boils down to only a discussion of realpolitik. We could just as well ask the question without the risk of committing any violence to your original question – why are the Americans and Western powers so adamant that China relinquish it’s claims over the South China Seas.
From my reading of the tea leafs – there’s intrinsically nothing in the South China Seas except maybe a couple of worthless rocks and even less reason to die for – Pokemon also don’t want to go there and he’s been everywhere – so what we essentially have is the creation of an illusion of something from absolutely nothing and this should prompt us all to ask – why? Or better still cui bono?
Fear….comes to mind.
Fear if you didn’t know is very powerful stimuli and you can even say it remains today the most effective and most cost effective means to engineer mass consent.
Both the Chinese and the Western powers are leveraging on fear to fulfill their specious ends.
China has it’s own agenda. The economy is slowing down. And the happy days are well and truly over – they need a means to divert the attention of the masses to keep some semblance of social cohesion against the rapidly changing economic downturn. That I can well understand.
As for the US and their allies. They too are leveraging on fear. In perhaps the same way, Metternich successfully used the fear of a returning Bonaparte from the island of Elba to galvanize and unite the allies against an imaginary marauding army.
And that is what I essentially see in the South China Seas.
The US and their allies sowing the seeds of fear to galvanize opposition against China.
What else is there? Otherwise who in their right mind would ever see the need to dig a hole and lie in it by signing the TPP?
To me this is common sense. You don’t have to be a profound thinker to draw the logical conclusion that a pivot is really quite redundant without the precondition of fear first being present.
October 2, 2016
October 2, 2016
* Somewhere along the endless serpentine laterite road between Davao city and Zamboanga in the Mindanao – during the evenings when men would sit along the long bench under the wan and hiss of cordite lamps to get high on Barangay hooch fermented from coconut and yam. On the last call when everyone is high as a kite and the only satellite TV in the village is switch off – and men have run out of topics to keep the conversation rolling on…someone may ask, ‘do you all remember Padil?’ And all the men would smile knowingly and fall so very silent….the legend of Padil like all legends in the timeless labyrinth of the shanty towns of Barangays comprised of one part truth and usually two parts make belief…he’s real name wasn’t really Padil. They all just called him that, as he looked so much like that much beloved bad boy action hero actor Robin Padilla. Others believed he might have been a third generation mestizo as he often mangled his Tagalog with Spanish sobriquets terms – a habit common to the landowning gentry of the Ayala’s, Osmenas and Arjuno’s. Others believed he had once worked for the CIA as a spy responsible for reporting on the secret construction of the largest military airstrip in the Mindanao in General Santos funded by bluefin a USAID front – then of course, all knew of the story when Padil had spotted an abandoned vine riven villa once build by a Spaniard Chopra merchant somewhere along the Cotabato mountain route to the West on Saragani on a hill – they said, he had stood there and looked at that ruined for so long like a man reminded of happier times in his past life in Africa and so Padil decided to stay and grow bananas right there.
The landowning gentry especially the ladies of the Wednesday club in the Marina Bay regarded Padil with a mix of fascination and endearment whenever he visited metro Manila – they were equally enamored by his impeccable manners along with his rumored illicit association with Gringo Honasan and the ease at which he was able to walk freely in and out of Abu Sayaff territory untouched…like an angel dancing on clouds of death..they all whispered to amongst themselves as they look on – but to the old men, the European Spanish power brokers who prided themselves with their purity of will in the same manner they kept their lineage entirely Spanish since Magellan landed on the shores of Cebu…the one’s who bank rolled noisy senators and pulled all the strings in Malacanang unseen by all, who were always content to play bridge and sip extremadura in the Rizal room sectioned off from the rest of the erudite crowd below – despite their collective suspicion for Padil. They found him useful and continued to give him land concessions…as Padil despite his youth and cavalier attitude, whenever he didn’t drink to much seemed to posses an uncanny ability to appreciate their reality of how power and politics could only be perpetuated by maintaining the tenuous relationship of mutual coexistence between the Christians and the Muslims thru the lost art of La Convivencia…..if anything good would ever come out from that God forsaken place where there was no semblance of law and order…that black heathen splotch…the old men all referred too as el terra diablo.
In the Barangay’s that dotted the edges of Padil’s banana estate – the kids knew his legs and pricks of his hairline moustache. He wore only mirror polished ankle high boots with flared ridding jodhpurs. As for the men, they looked on curiously with fascination at his habit of sporting a shouldered holstered revolver. As it was general knowledge, Padil the nocturnal marauder in a lawless land where only the law of the gun rule supreme – was renowned for his disdain of firearms and much preferred that other elegant weapon of antiquity, the Moros feared which they referred to as the whispering death – the bow. On one occasion, legend has it Padil single handedly picked off ten brigands on a moonless night who ambushed a bus of nuns. Or was it twenty or maybe thirty depending on how many bottles of San Miguel had been uncapped during the recount of the story. For effect Padil left cards on each man he killed. They all said, he once saw it being done in a movie and so like the movie star that he was…he did the same for la effect ..as for the ladies – they giggled all the time behind closed shutters while their mothers looked on pensively bitting their prayer beads, as it was widely rumored – only a man who is in league with the devil himself was not afraid of the Moros and that Padil could steal a woman’s soul with just one fleeting look. For most of the time, when the sun dipped below the ochre colored barren mountains. Padil installed himself on a rocking chair and nursed a Montecristo till nine and retired before ten. On the first Monday of every month, he wore a pristine creme suit complete with black and white spectator shoes and a creme Montecristi and visited the only bordello in Davao city which also doubled as the Sanfirono club for the rest of the week – Padil sat all by himself usually in the verandah overlooking the square as he played solitaire all by himself sipping neat whisky thru the night….he never ever seemed interested in what was on offer, except maybe to look up from time to time with a curious mix of having being so near yet so far from experiencing the prophetic whenever the madam of the parlor brought in a new girl only to return to his game of cards like a man searching fervently for something once lost….as if the only thing he ever wanted out of the evening laid somewhere in that other far and distant mythical realm that could only be discovered in the infinite randomness of the universe of cards – where chance and serendipity danced and all that Padil could do was to search….search….and search for her, for Padil the man who would usually sit all by himself from evening till the break of dawn, it seemed the only woman he was ever interested in was to find his mythical queen of hearts in a game called solitaire…but it always ended the same….the man who never was…could never find her.’
October 1, 2016
I find that women always take a keen interest in my well being. Maybe there is something about me that stands out from the crowd. Please don’t get me wrong. There is absolutely nothing sexual to these accidental encounters….none that I am aware of….at least. Of that I am quite certain as none of these fine ladies have ever proposed anything of that sort to me.
Women (I imagine) genuinely feel a need to mother me. They are naturally drawn to my vulnerability. It is not unusual for them to look upon me as if I am a lost child – or to simply smile at me in a kind way only to ask, ‘you are not from here…where are you from?…are you lost?….where do you want to go?’
Usually they follow me around….life in the city will I imagine be so very strange to me.
I am very grateful to all the kind ladies of this world. I think, I would have died an unnatural death a long time ago without them.
September 30, 2016
Due to my autism at first I thought city folk were all very kind to country bumpkins such as myself. As whenever I stand outside a five star hotel. There will always be people pulling up in their Mercedes and Ferrari’s only to offer me their cars. Naturally I drive right off.
I don’t do this any longer as I now realize it can lead to possible criminal and civil law suits.
In the city, children will always ask me whether I work in a zoo.
Whenever I ring the door bell of a house. Everyone thinks I am the dengue inspector.
Criminals and gangsters stiffen whenever they see me. Some run. Those that don’t, seldom make eye contact.
Policemen salute me….and my eternal friends, the birds and trees all know me as a man from afar.
‘Autism confers upon one special powers like spider sense or maybe superman’s X ray vision. There are many things that I can do that will literally blow your socks off! – I noticed this very early on in life, when I had to often hide my special powers….I can look at a building just once. Casually. Indifferently….for no more than perhaps three breathes. Thereafter I can recount to you with uncanny precision where there is no possibility of mathematical error, exactly not only how many panes are used on that facade, but also the cumulative length of steel or alluminium that is used to hold it all together.
Since I like to line things up in straight lines – I can tell you by just looking at a plot of land exactly how many trees you can plant on it. I can even make allowances for gradient to either add or subtract from the final value.
I can even make out the slightest deviation in degrees between the stem and branch or the slightest curvature of a leaf and multiply them all to derive at a total percentage within a split second faster than any known computer and derive at a conclusion as to how much it needs to be supplemented with nitrogen, phosphorous and magnesium, right down to unit measurement of one gramme. Can even tell you whether it’s diseased. Healthy. Or you should just cut it down!
Can hold a handful of coffee beans in the palm of my hands and by just a whiff – I can even tell you how it is likely to machine. Under what temperature plus or minus .2 Celsius when the colloids will begin to separate from the oils. What setting the barista should be calibrated at to an accuracy of one hundred of a bar of atmospheric pressure to produce a perfect cup of coffee.
I can look at a stack of A4 paper and tell you exactly how many pages there are in that pile.
I can hold 10,470 numbers in my head simultaneously and still have a conversation with you about quantum mechanics without the possibility of ever dropping a single digit.
All these things only I….I alone can do.’
September 29, 2016
Two things will destroy a weak minded man. The first is money and the second is prestige….after that he can only become blind and deaf.
September 28, 2016
Q: Do you think the outcome was well decided and fair? How do you think it will go down with the general public?
A: I want you to understand one thing. I don’t ever want to come across as someone who is telling you how to do your job – but since I am a bit slow. I would appreciate it if you could do me the favor of structuring the question one at a time.
Q: Do you think the outcome was well decided and fair?
A: You’re in fact asking of me obliquely – whether I believe justice was done. I think this is one of the few rare cases where I have to say it is a very difficult question to answer as in this case it comes encrusted with so many elements involving faith.
Now please try to understand faith is a very big word here – well it has be at least to me – as it’s really like one of those immersive experience that alters one’s perception and even understanding of what is right, normal and perhaps even reasonable.
What I think most people fail to appreciate is anything predicated on faith has it’s own guiding logic that does not always sit very well with anything from the secular world.
I am not saying faith or the secular approach is either right or wrong – because it really depends on one’s vantage.
Remember I used the term earlier: immersive experience. By this I mean it’s a complete psycho and emotional ecology of experience and that is what it means to be part of a mega church. The moment one walks into such an institution – it’s really like visiting a country within a country with it’s unique set of beliefs, laws, conventions and social norms.
I am not only talking necessarily only about Christianity per se. But possibly every other religion as well along with any other belief that is able to garner a significant number of believers.
But in the case of a mega church it must really be a very profound 180 degree experience where not only does one have the idea of a community to plug and play directly into, but there’s also identity and shared beliefs which all converge on the grande ethos of the great architect – this is why I term it some what as a country within a country experience.
But having said all that one way of seeking resolution to all this confusion is to first distinguish faith from secularism.
Once we are able to do this. Everything becomes clear as a day.
But if we jumble these two diametrically opposing concepts into one pot and hope to make head or tail out of it – I think that can only lead ultimately to hubris.
This is how I see it. The delineation that separates secularism from faith has to be clear and unambiguous.
Q: You say it will ultimately lead to hubris can you elaborate further?
A: Beliefs in themselves do not necessarily absolve one of culpability – in perhaps the same way a terrorist may not necessarily see himself as a menace to society. Since he believes he’s a freedom fighter waging a just war where the means justifies a noble end.
The question at this point is how should society best judge him?
Now if you judge him by his standards. Then I say, not only is it going to be very confusing. But it’s likely you will probably agree with him as well. That’s hubris – when there are no recognizable terms of reference to reliably shed light on darkness.
Q: If what you say is true then you have already answered my supplementary question in the very beginning of this interview – how do you think it will go down with the general public?
A: Well you seem to be quite insistent on the prefix ‘general’ when using the term public. But remember what I mentioned earlier about the immersive experience of being part of a mega church – it’s really quite a transformational body, mind and spirit experience that most people including myself don’t really understand. But just because I’ve never been thru it doesn’t mean that I don’t understand how it works.
The way in which it works however nullifies the whole idea of the ‘general’ in the word public that you saw fit to prefix and that is exactly my point – there is no general public. Only perhaps the vantage of believers and non believers.
Adherents will believe rightly or wrongly, real or imagined either I might add – their leaders have done nothing wrong. While non believers will likely believe otherwise.
Q: Are you a Christian?
Q: So you’re a free thinker?
A: What’s that?
Q: Someone who believes in nothing?
A: Why don’t you just refer to me as someone who believes in something far more significant to the idea of a creator?
September 27, 2016
I must confess to all my loyal readers of the brotherhood press. I feel guilt stricken – as whenever I feel bad, I always cast my mind to what Kong Hee will have to go thru and in an instant, all my problems seem to magically melt away like lemon drops.
At least I don’t have Ah Khong snapping at my backside.
I am not a Christian. I care even less about what they believe in…but even you cannot deny I must be highly favored and blessed!
September 25, 2016
One day I know deep down in the marrow of my bones. I’ll be gunned down. Lately I have been having the same reoccurring dream again. That one.
I am all alone dinning in a restaurant, sitting with my back against the wall in my favorite table. A man walks in. I know him the moment our eyes lock. He’s the man who will take me to the other side. I don’t necessarily resent him or even feel the need to run or fight back – it’s not resignation and even less of acceptance.
It is maybe the pathos of something giving in to a greater force….inevitability. Maybe – like the very moment when a river suddenly slows down to crawl as soon as it discovers the infinity of the ocean after so many days and months of perpetual motion….so many days, weeks and months of tumbling across rapids and rocks as it makes it’s way frantically to this mythical point where the river and sea meets…only to lose all of itself in one act of supplication – now there is nothing to do except see it to it’s end….to embrace nothingness itself…I lean back into my chair, straighten my bush jacket and look up with that bitter sweet expression as the assassin levels his gun with the final words, ‘don’t mess it up.’
‘Come the end of this September, it will mark my seven years away from Singapore. In the first few years I wanted desperately to return home. But due to family complications – it was really quite impossible.
I must have pushed the idea (of returning home) to one distant corner of my head. Either that or it was simply too painful to keep on thinking about it that I simply ran as fast as my legs could take me. It’s easy. As I had a helluva amount of work before me and work is really like a sinkhole. It just sucks up everything and much more leaving very little else. As the years past, that call to return waned into a murmur and soon I could hardly feel the pull of home any longer. I was like an astronaut who had spent an eternity in the vacuum of space and weightlessness became the only way to live. As for gravity. It was of course there..somewhere in the folds of my memory….but like the orb called planet earth, it was always just another distant place. Besides I had learnt to live without it and you could even say this is the only life I had ever known….I guess for some people when they return home – they would like to eat stuff they only imagine when they are away from home or visit places that they were once fond of or touch base with their old friends.
It’s a way of connecting with the familiar. A sort of touchstone that brings it all back.
As for me my needs are spectacularly simple.
All I want to do is go to a park and sit on one of the benches. I don’t have to do anything. Not at all. I could just be breathing and I reckon I would be quite happy.
I know it sounds crazy, but that’s really all I want to do when I finally make my way back home….one day…one fine day, that is.’
September 24, 2016
My phone has been ringing non stop since yesterday. I have decided to keep it in the refrigerator. As I read recently Samsung cellphones have been spontaneously combusting…mine is a Samsung.
It seems the oil mill barons are desperately trying to contact me. As there is a rumor I am transporting my fruit despite the rainy season thru the treacherous hill route to the East. This route was previously believed to be impassable and it even goes by the menacing name ‘land rover eater’ – bukit makan landrover.
For the whole of last week lorries covered with tarpaulins have been plying this route. Everyone has seen them.
So it is very natural for the oil mill barons to feel anxious as in the past they have pressed me so very hard on the selling price as they believe since the hilly route is impassable during the rainy season – I have no choice but to sell them my fruit.
But this year seems to be different….this year the route that was previously impassable has been breached. So it seems.
I shall allow the phone to ring and ring for another day. Then I will commence price negotiations with the millers – my terms will be structured along the lines of take it or leave it with exactly fifteen minutes for a final answer. Thereafter if no decision is forthcoming. I will decide for them what the selling price would be for what’s left for this year and the next.
Truth is for weeks I have leaked the rumor I am very unhappy with the crummy price the millers have been shoving down my throat.
Truth is everyone from the village postman to the dunce knows that I have been trying my very best to punch a hole out to the East.
Truth is all the lorries that plied the route the whole of last week were all completely empty and many of them even had to sneak back and run the same route to make it appear as if many lorries were using the route.
All warfare it seems is based on deception.
‘When you are dealing with deadly grizzly bears and you conduct yourself like a rabbit. Do not be surprised if one of those bears use you to wipe his ass after a dump. So the moral of the story is you too must pretend to be a grizzly bear as well.
It is hardly a matter of choice.
As in business, people only respect one thing and very little else – how much capacity do you have to affect their livelihoods? If the valence is very small to nominal. Then they will turn against you on one drop of the hat.
But if they know and even think you have the capacity to drive them out of business. Then you will find that they will do your bidding.’
September 24, 2016
Not very long ago a man in his early forties shared with me he had been retrenched. According to this man this is the only firm he has known since starting work. He seemed very bitter as he began to recount how he had at first been passed over for promotion for a younger worker and shortly thereafter the HR told him off the record – he was simply too expensive to keep.
This man asked of me….what shall I do. I told this man in a calm and brotherly tone, I hope you can learn to see this world for what it is and not what you would like it to be.
He asked as if disappointed…is that all. I replied, yes, that is all it is….as to see the world for what it is and not what you think or would like it to be is something that is very difficult and only a few can manage to do successfully.
‘If you tell me the world is changing so fast that it’s hard if not impossible to get a handle on what’s really going on let alone stay on top. Then I will say to you, you’re maybe twenty or perhaps thirty years late in giving me this advise. Since I was born autistic. I knew very early on that the world is not a place that I can ever change. To most people, they would probably reach this realization quite easily without the need for too much prompting. As for me it took me an awfully long time and much heart break to myself and others to just arrive at this simple truism.
But once I came to terms with the idea that people will always see me as a strange sort of person and they might even feel it’s perfectly acceptable to disrespect or marginalize me – then I set about sketching out an escape plan in my head to break out from the clutches of the world.
It has been many years since I have broken away from the world. Today I run my own enterprise and for most of the time I am able to work under my own terms without having to conform to the expectations of others. When I sense trouble. I will just avoid it. By and large most people if they are smart never ever tangle with me….should they be stupid enough to go down that road. These days I can hit their wallets so hard, that usually the pain is enough to force them to reevaluate their options.
But my point is not to boast about how I’ve managed to successfully create a world within a world that allows me to live with as much self respect and dignity as a ‘normal’ person can possibly live and die.
Rather it is to share with you the snippet that if you find the world changing faster than you can handle the change – then maybe it’s time for you to develop a totally new kind of insight into how you have always seen and regarded the world.
The world is not what it used to be. Firms are not what they used to be – job security is not a cradle to grave proposition, not even if you’re hardworking, diligent and loyal – today the mantra is hire and fire or maybe closer to Everyman for himself!
I know the reality is very stark and shocking to many people who may not quite realize this reality – but it is, what it is – and the sooner one can buy into this idea and simply come to terms with it. The better it will be for them.
To live well in this topsy turvy world, one must first be able to see the world as it is and not how one wishes it to be. The latter is both childish and immature. The former is simply to come to terms with the way of the world.’
September 23, 2016
There are many valuable metaphors that agriculture hold out that we can gainfully harvest to improve our lives – last year, the hill top on my land was infested with an evil weed that gobbles up all the nutrients leaving the trees and soil depleted of all nourishment.
No one knows where this evil weed comes from…some say it was brought by the east winds. Others say it is from as far as Russia. But I have seen this weed before in Africa – it is a very intelligent plant as it has a brain, so to amount of chemical warfare can ever defeat it….they will just develop resistance within a very short period of time and proliferate vigorously. Many farmers have gone down that road only to win the battle but lose the war – as their land is transformed into a poisonous field where nothing can grow…to defeat this evil weed only another weed can do the job.
The magnificent fern.
The fern is a prehistoric plant that predates even dinosaurs. It has seen it all, only it has the uncanny power to muscle out all forms of weeds….but it is not a easy plant to grow as conditions must just be right….otherwise it will say, Dowan lah!
Since last year. I declared total war on this evil weed. It has been a very long and protracted campaign where I have been mindful to only use herbicides judiciously in very small controlled doses where I supervised the applications personally – followed by painstakingly going deep into the jungle and taking each sapling by foot and planting them carefully row by row.
In the beginning the ferns did not seem to want to take root. This saddened me and there were many times when I asked the Queen fern – why don’t you want to stay and make this place home….only for her to remain silent – but with patience and diligence and lots of tender loving care soon she and her friends changed their mind and proliferate they did only to overcome the evil weeds.
Since ferns are natural givers. They bring with them countless benefits to soil and trees. Their roots are far reaching and fibrous but not so vigorous as to compete with fruit bearing trees, so they hold loose earth well preventing valuable loss of top soil during torrential downpours – they shade the expose ground keeping the temperature low thereby promoting organic matter and humus…the list of benefits goes on and on.
Ferns will be important when La Niña hits as the quantity and intensity of rainfall is predicted to increase dramatically – with my land covered with my little good friends….I hope to weather thru this storm comfortably.
‘Life is really only about a couple of things – the most important being – cultivating the wisdom of discarding the useless, dangerous and time wasting and knowing how to keep and nourish the good so that it goes from strength to strength.
That’s why if you are lucky enough to come across good friends and kindred spirits who support and nourish you – go the extra mile to take good care of them. If possible give back and give more whenever the opportunity presents itself because with good friends, it always comes around, it may not be tomorrow or the day after but it always comes full circle with them and when it comes to blood suckers, just politely give them a miss.
Why or how they became vampires – is not a question for you to seek an answer too…you will go crazy if you try to find out or worse still end up a vampire yourself – could be as baby they fell off the table and knocked their head really hard. Maybe no one taught them the social skills of give and take and live and let live…but what’s jugular is one must absolutely develop the wisdom to winnow the takers from givers.
Since I am autistic. I had a lot of problems with being able to spot takers from givers. Hence early on in life it was very common for me to end up short changed most of the time. One day I said to myself, this cannot go on, otherwise my parents will suffer, so I developed a highly sensitive radar that today is so sharp and defined, I can spot a taker ten miles down wind on a moonless night.
Because if one does not know how to do this – the taker will take, take and take till not only will there be no double happiness, but you will probably double mati as well.
As for the givers like ferns tend to them diligently, encouraging good weeds to grow is not so different from being a good host – one must be attentive, considerate and above all prepared to give before one receives.
If you only do this ONE thing in life diligently – everything else I guarantee you will fall into it’s rightful place very beautifully….life need not be complicated….it can be easy and beautiful.’
September 21, 2016
Q: What are the main challenges Trump would have to face when he is the President?
A: In which theater? Be more specific. Middle East. South China. Korean Peninsula. Ang moh kio in Singapore. Be specific.
Q: Let’s start with the domestic front – Trump’s election rallying cry is he wants to make America great again and by this he has focussed primarily on job creation. How workable is his plan?
A: The whole idea of job creation cannot really be discussed in a vacuum – it requires hard nosed economic, marketing and most importantly cost related underpinnings that take stock of business realities. Now I don’t want to make this too complicated – but the question you need to ask yourself is why do eight out of ten Americans shop in Walmart? The simple answer is they get more bang for their buck. And this as unassuming as it is just happens to the crux of the matter – as this can only be accomplished by global outsourcing, by firms such as Walmart pursuing a very aggressive global price competitive strategy that allows them carve a significant market slice out the US consumer market.
Now for Trump’s idea of really work. Americans must be willing to pay maybe double or triple for a bobbin of co-axial wires or a gardening set comprising of steel pressed shovels, rakes etc etc.
And that’s unlikely to happen – because as soon as you go down that road then not only will Walmart cease to have a business model. But American wages would have to go up correspondingly as well and that just creates a hubris.
Q: So what you are saying is this idea of Trump to create jobs in the US is quite unrealistic?
A: The correct word is not ‘unrealistic.’ As it can actually be accomplished, but since it requires not only a paradigm shift but possibly the creation of an artificial economy with so many controlling features on the part of regulators, firms, consumers and stake holders at so many levels of the supply chain, it’s just going to be incredibly difficult to impossible to set up.
Let me give you an example. Now if you go to NTUC and walk down the aisle that sells rice, you are likely to come across cheap rice that sells for eight or ten kg for X dollars – but for that amount of money, you can’t even buy one kilogram of Japanese farmed glutinous rice which usually comes packaged in roughly the size of salted chips.
That’s because agriculture in Japan is a protected and highly state subsidized sector. There of course exist good historical and political reasons that account for that sort of price aberration, but what’s important for your learning outcome is – it’s certainly possible to create that sort of hermetically sealed economy by having in place stiff tariffs and barriers that prevent other rice producers from selling their produce in Japan.
But what is not so easy to accomplish is the paradigm shift that the consumer needs to go thru to make this new economic order work – now if you dine in a restaurant in down town Osaka or Tokyo and order a bowl of rice. When the bill comes. You as a foreigner will probably pengsan (faint) but to a Japanese that’s quite normal.
So coming to the issue of Trump’s job creation strategy – the question you need to ask yourself is whether the average American consumer is psychologically prepared to pay double or possibly triple for a iphone or a plug extension…from where I am standing right now. I really don’t see that happening at all.
So to me this whole idea of job creation fundamentally lacks hard nosed economic underpinnings to really be workable. I for one wouldn’t be entirely surprised if Trump’s ‘make America great again’ T shirts and baseball hats that he hands out are all manufactured in some sweatshop on Shenzhen China.
Q: What about Trump’s repeated calls to revivify the US manufacturing sector by forcing US firms to make in America?
A: In principle that sounds nostalgically great that I suspect could be why Trump likes to trump that message. Especially when you’re talking to working class folk who never had the benefit of a college education or ever had to balance an excel spread sheet before. That much I will give you.
But reality suggest even US firms cannot return even if they want too as not only is the US no longer their primary market. But many of hard manufacturing skills that once existed in America has literally been eviscerated by years of neglect when firms outsourced their manufacturing competence to lower cost nations. It’s conceivable most Americans these days don’t know how to make things any longer like they used too – the first thing you need to appreciate when firms pursue globalization aggressively it’s like dropping an atomic bomb on the master and apprentice compact and when one cohort is eviscerated, it’s unlikely to ever regenerate again. It’s finished! Game over!
That’s what the Harvard Business Review doesn’t tell you! And if you ask them why not – they would ask you to go and seek those answers from the faculty of sociology.
The irony these days is if you want original pair of US Jeans you can’t even get it any longer – as many of those machines along with skill sets were sold off when firms relocated to Sweat shops in China. So these days you have to buy it from cottage industries in Japan who will gladly sell you authentic Americana Jeans at USD$1,000 per pop.
Q: I gather you’re not a great fan of globalization.
A: Well I think it’s great to outsource stuff like plastic clothes hangars and stamped mousetraps to China et al. But it was an epic mistake in my opinion to do the same for motorcycles, leather boots and stuff that used to support whole communities in America.
The problem with globalization is despite it’s sheen it’s just a form of dumbing down that reduces everything to really only one key differentiator – price is king. That’s well and fine if it’s complimented with quality, but ask any frontier man why he’s prepared to pay premium on a pair of American made field boots…go on.
Q: So you’re saying multinationals have their own organizing theory and they are not going to be persuaded by Trump?
A: What I think you need to understand is multinationals have a global marketing footprint where the Americas is really only one of their market segment – I am not saying it’s not a significant market that still has the capacity to gobble up products and services, it still is. But hey iPhones don’t only sell in Madison Ave in New York. They sell all round the world and that’s really my point, so for firms to return back to the US and just make stuff there like little house in the prairie is really quite unrealistic.
That’s really only possible if the US is the only market worthwhile harvesting in this world. Truth is, it’s not. Last year more Rolls Royce’s were sold in China than anywhere in the world. So the world is not as Simple Simon as how Mr Trump sees it.
Why don’t you go and ask the director of international marketing of Rolls Royce cars whether he can get a creamy bonus by just selling cars in Europe?
Q: Do you expect Trump to have an impact on the gaming interest of the online gaming interest of the brotherhood?
A: You know that I am not in a position to offer a comment on that. I would appreciate it if you ask me questions that I can respond too. I don’t wish to come across as intemperate, but time is precious. Thank you.
Q: Obama comes across as some say ‘weak’ when it comes to foreign policy especially in the Middle East. How do you see Trump responding to the current opportunities and threats in the Middle East.
A: The US without a doubt has certainly lost it’s sphere of influence in more ways than I can possibly elaborate, not only in the Arab world but it’s conceivable this erosion is irreversible and in my opinion whatever remnants of their capacity to influence has decayed to such a point where it’s unlikely that they can continue to effectively modulate outcomes geopolitically. This extents to virtually every theater from the Korean Peninsula to the South China Seas.
The Chinese and especially the Russians on the other hand have not been sitting still and twiddling their thumbs in one corner. In all fairness they have stepped up to the plate. In some cases underwriting many of the risk and they have largely been very successful in not only increasing their sphere of influence beyond their borders. But they are now the people that even the Arabs believe they have more mileage dealing with.
Everyone if you notice wants to talk to the Chinese and Russians – so it’s very possible we are seeing the reinstatement of the classical balance of power doctrine that existed before the Berlin Wall came down – where the world was divided between communism and capitalism, red and blue etc etc.
In the light of these developments, we are likely to see Trump playing not only a catch up game.
But it’s a game where the US will not be as self confident as it used to be simply because so many of their levers of power such as the world bank, UN, WTO etc etc has degraded to a point where they are equal if not worse to what the Russians and Chinese have responded by way of alternatives.
My only real concern is whether Trump has the aptitude to appreciate many of the things that is happening around the world and how it may all eventually impact the interest of the US and their allies.
I for one would be very interested to know who his foreign policy and security advisors would be before commenting definitively. As it is, it’s very hard to say.
Q: How much ground has the US lost in actual terms in the Middle East and other hot spots in the world?
A: Foreign policy is guided by 19th-century realpolitik. It boils down to only a few set pieces – there are no eternal allies — only eternal interests. And this is where the Russians have excelled in the game. As they are prepared to underwrite the risk. Now if you take the case of Syria. Putin has really taken a huge risk by committing Russia to a limited air war which many defense analyst previously summarized quite incorrectly, Russia simply did not have either the hardware or organizational skills to put together. They have not only been proven wrong. But most importantly the Russians have proven that a sustained air campaign can indeed alter the outcome favorably without having to commit boots to the ground – bear in mind, Obama had the same option on the table maybe as far back as July 2014. But he vacillated and instead opted for a compromised proxy led war that eventually became such a mess that not even the Turks or Saudi’s or for that matter even NATO knows whose really in charge.
Now if you go to Youtube and type in ‘Tow missile’ – you will see a lot of funny people blowing tanks and heavy armor using US ordnance. The question is who are these people? And whose supplying them these high tech weaponry and most importantly how much influence does the US have when it comes to disarming these militia?
I think the US has a terrible history when it comes to engaging proxies. They used them in the form of the Mujahiddeens in Afghanistan only to end up getting bitten in the ass when they morphed into Al Qaeda. Now they are doing the same in Libya and Syria and now we have ISIL.
I think all this stems from an almost incomprehensible morbid fear on the part of Obama to leverage on the military option that has finally come back to bite him the US very hard. From what I am able to make out from the fog in the Middle East, Obama looks very much like a new age Neville Chamberlain who doesn’t seem to realize there are real limits to classical diplomacy. That at some point true to the Clausewitz adage – war is simply a continuation of politics by other means. The Russians and the even lately the Chinese with their ‘no budge one inch’ policy in the South China Seas do seem to have any hang up’s. Obama & Co do and that is a big problem that Trump have to address.
Q: Why are the Russians and Chinese so keen on extending their sphere of influence?
A: This is not a question of geopolitics, but it’s an on going cat and mouse game that has been going on since the Berlin Wall. Now many people may be under the misconception – communism is dead and we are now really only one happy family living under one roof. But this misleads. Kremlin leaders are still a paranoid lot and they have good cause to be anxious given how serious NATO and the US is about their missile defense plans in the Eastern European corridor. To exacerbate matters the US seems to be waging a debilitating economic war on Russia by deliberately curbing their oil exports to the EU. Bear in mind there is still an on going effort to destabilize the ruble by creating a central clearing house that specifically boycotts Russian credit – so in effect the Russians have no money! You’re really pushing them to the wall – I mean even if you’re just a lowly intelligence analyst sitting in the Kremlin and watching how for the last fifteen years. The Americans executed regime change in Iraq and Libya. Now they want the same in Syria just so the Saudi’s and Turks can construct a new gas line that does away with having to transport their oil thru the Gulf of Homurtz and all this would in effect constrict the flow of oil that Russia desperately needs to drive her economy — even you would consider war as the only realistic respond!
Q: So what you are saying is the US pushed their luck and they lost?
A: I wouldn’t quite say they have lost the game yet. They’re still in the game, but they have certainly lost a few chess pieces that they could do with.
Q: Is that why the TPP is so important to the US?
A: I have no doubt. None whatsoever. Neither do I completely believe it’s all together simply a benign trade pact. Anyone who tells you otherwise is either very naive or disingenous. The obvious aspect of the TPP on the surface at least, is of course trade and commerce. But it’s also a highly effective form of warfare albeit with an economic dimension since it’s intent is specifically designed with containment in mind – in this case China.
Q: I get the feeling you are receiving regular updates and reports concerning these developments. Can you perhaps share your personal reasons for taking such an avid interest in these developments.
A: I think whenever the sands shift, it always creates opportunities and threats. In the past one could be ambivalent to non chalant about the machinations of governments, but in this day and age where the aperture for opportunities seem to be getting narrower, it certainly pays out handsomely to be at least informed concerning what is happening around you. As whether you like it or not – what happens in America will eventually affect us all.
September 20, 2016
Q: In your opinion – how did someone like Trump come this far?
A: No..no. I am not going to respond to this question. As it will not produce good results. I don’t mean to come across as forwardly rude. However. The question to me, is not how did Trump come this far. Rather what are the factors that are operable which makes it possible for such a person like Trump to come this far.
I think when you just focus on the personality alone without factoring the prevailing political, economic, social and technological context it can mislead terribly.
Besides it’s not fair to Mr Trump.
Q: So what you are saying is Trump appeared at the political scene at the right time and place?
A: Yes! And you should not be surprised as Hitler, Lenin and perhaps even every nutcase dictator including most recently Duterte before came into power by inserting themselves meaningful into the discourse of the prevailing sentiment.
Otherwise how can their crackpot message resonate with the masses?
In the case of Hitler, Germany under the Weimar Republic was a failed state and since it was forced to accept the crushing dicta of the treaty of Versailles this created fertile conditions for a mad man to come into power.
The paradox is if the League of Nations in 1919 had not imposed such harsh conditions on Germany it’s very likely Hitler and his motley crew would just end in the garbage heap of history.
Q: So what do you consider to be operable in the case of Mr a Trump?
A: Look there are so many things wrong with America. I really don’t know where to begin to list the multitude of cause and effect.
Q: Why don’t you share with us three of the most cogent drivers that you consider operable for the rise of a personality like Mr Trump.
A: The presidential race is really a blood test of the body politic of the US and it revealed multiple problems in what I can only describe as the disunited states of America. You really have so many divisions at some many different levels – we are not only talking about class war, but there is also the idea that within America there are already so many Americas.
But just to give you the broad main constituent parts – one segment of Americans voted to change and these incidentally are also the same group who benefit least from globalization. The other seems to be voting for the status quo and they are the elites.
And that really a summary of the US – a country starkly divided between the have’s and have not’s, between the US that is essentially comfortable with globalisation, diversity and cosmopolitanism and the US that continues to be gnawed by it’s its anxieties and resentments about identity loss and not having a voice.
To say it’s just about class alone tells us very little about why Americans have suddenly decided to be xenophobic, parochial and insular, but it’s also about generational aspirations as well – specifically the breakdown between yearning and the fulfillment of that desire especially in mellinials – young Americans don’t have much faith in their leaders or for that matter the political machinery in being able to help them actualize their dreams.
Q: So what you are saying is the American dream is broken?
A: I think that is certainly one way to describe the intensity of the divide in the US. As in the past US politicians have always been reliable purveyors of dreams – FDR was a good example of the prototypal paternalistic president and he more or less set the bar for the other presidents to follow. I guess in the past, it was significantly easier for presidents to deliver economic growth and that in part has to do with the life cycle of economics.
But of late the idea of growth has not only spluttered but it’s riven with so many boom’s and bust – and that has really amplified the mood of pessimism thus exacerbating the chasm between president and people.
To add insult to injury. The elites in the US seem to be untouchable. Even when firms belly up and thousands of cookie cutters are retrenched or have to see their pension nest egg go up in smoke – these conceited lot seem to be able to get creamy bonuses. So all this adds to the perception, something is very very wrong with capitalism and the whole political machinery.
So yes…you are certainly very perceptive to sum it all in one sentence unlike me who has to bore you with lengthy wind bag explanations – the American dream is certainly broken.
Q: Has Obama contributed to Trump’s success?
A: To be fair to Obama many of the problems the US faces today predates the Obama administration and goes right back to the heady days of Bush junior.
Having said that Obama’s foreign policy especially in the Middle East has been largely rudderless comprising of a strategy of appeasement and not getting caught up in a quagmire and that has really worked against America.
Q: Do you think that is why Trump admires Putin and wants to have closer ties with Russia?
A: Well I think once Trump gets a ‘for your eyes only Mr President’ briefing from the director of the NSA, joint chief of staff, Jewish lobby proxy Mossad and the CIA. He wouldn’t be too hot about sharing the tub with Putin.
Q: You mean Putin is that bad for America?
A: Well that’s putting it mildly as I believe in the case of Putin it’s got to be very personal. After all Putin used to be a KGB man and he’s still very sore about how Boris Yeltsin sold off Russia to NATO and the CIA by annexing chunks of the USSR away to the EU for a case of double malt whisky. So Putin is very determined not to allow history to repeat itself again – that is why Russia is so determined to hold on to the Crimea and that could also explain why he has decided to take a very aggressive stance against ISIS in Syria.
Putin is reinstating the soviet sphere of influence doctrine first promulgated by Stalin that goes, ‘you’re weak, I take!’ And Obama is weak. As he wants out. Hence his non existent foreign policy on the Middle East.
Q: Will Hillary Clinton be able to offer something credible and attractive to the US electorate that will throw Trump’s chances of being elected president?
A: I don’t see how she can. What you need to understand here is this is perhaps the only occasion in the entire history of the presidential elections when the US electorate is faced with two options that they much prefer not to vote for – to say the prevailing sentiment is seething cynicism cum terminal ambivalence is not too far off the mark. But having said that the battle lines are pretty clear – a vote for Clinton can be construed as more of the same or “establishment” – conversely a vote for Trump is a departure from the status quo ante and probably a leap of faith.
Q: Who do you think will win?
A: It’s very hard to say. As the disunited states of a America is really quite a different country – in the past you could say although there were divisions. But these divides never threatened the core values that used to unite Americans. But these days the average American voter is disinclined to listen to the advice of wise men. They don’t even want to listen to the meditations of the serious men any longer – this is not only happening in the US, but as we have seen recently in the UK – the divisions between have’s and have not’s, the informed and the ignorant, the cosmopolitans and the Eastender is really quite stark and alarming.
I don’t know. Your guess is really as good as mine.
September 19, 2016
Q: Trump and Duterte seem to have a lot in common. Obama has mentioned repeatedly Trump is ‘unsuitable’ to hold the most powerful office in the world. What’s your take?
A: I can’t read Mr Trump’s mind. What I do know is even if his personality is similar to Duterte. It’s unlikely Trump would be able to realize in concrete terms many of his radical policies. As for Duterte all I can say is he’s unhinged and as for the administrative machinery in the Philippines it’s really orientated towards centralized command and control.
However the same cannot be said about the US – power in the US is not centralized, it’s Balkanized and fairly well distributed amongst the executive, legislature, judiciary and the security agencies – and what you have is really quite a different constitutional and administrative landscape from what’s avaliable in the Philippines – so I don’t see how sensible comparisons can be made between Duterte and Trump. As in the case of the latter he has nothing resembling free rein to do anything radical at all.
Q: So what you’re saying is Trump will be a pretty powerless president?
A: Yes. As Nixon found out the hard way when he was impeached and had to pack his bags and leave the whitehouse within 24 hours. Mini Lee has a lot more power so does Najib. As for Obama and his predecessors, history is quite robust. They are pretty powerless. This is especially so for Obama as when you look thru his track record many of his plans are still stuck in the mud because congress keeps hobbling him. I think what you need to understand is that the US administration is really a first class orchestra and even if the conductor (president) is missing – it can more or less function quite well and the show will go right on. To paraphrase the president is really quite optional.
Q: Does that mean you don’t expect any radical shifts in domestic or foreign policy?
A: There will of course be changes, but to term them shifts implies a very bold directional alteration and I simply don’t see how that can be accomplished given that it comes with cost penalties. As the US is a waning global influencer – it’s not like what it used to be during the time of FDR or even Reagan. These realities would definitely be constraints that not only Trump has to take on board when he assumes the office of President, but anyone as well.
I think on the balance of probabilities, the status quo will be maintained.
Q: So you don’t see Trump defocusing away from Asia?
A: No! Like I said any directional alteration is predicated on not the aperture of opportunities, but rather constraints. By this I mean even if Trump wants to relegate Asia to the back burner of policy formulation that by itself would incur a cost and since the penalties are too exorbitant high to tolerate, it’s unlikely there will be any change.
Q: Are you saying the US will not defocus from Asia?
A: I don’t see how they can without incurring penalties. Historically when Truman took over FDR he much preferred to forget Asia. Even he couldn’t do that and the same could be said about Trump as well. To me there is no possibility whatsoever of the US revising their forward presence in Asia.
Trump of course like Truman before him or even Carter in the case of the Middle East may want to wish the Islamic radicalism away – but never forget geo political realities remain very real and as long as they continue to exact a preponderant toll on US interest. They need a coherent response – so all this talk that we are likely to see a Trump administration watering escalation control assets from the South China Seas is really quite third rate intelligence analysis. Although far from a perfect solution, escalation control remains todate the most effective way to engage China and North Korean in a conflict without resorting to the doomsday option…what you need to appreciate is it’s cheap and very effective.
Till something else that betters the excel spreadsheet comes along – I really don’t see the impetus to shift from the current path. Anyone who tells you different is just a very poor analyst – we have modeled this out in a computer at least 200 hundred times using game theory and on every occasion the pay outs favor the US, so I don’t really see a compelling alternative to change.
That means even if Trump wants to pull the plug on Asia his security advisors will recommend a strong very robust no by telling him plainly – hey the alternative is we may need to plough in 50% of our GDP into this region if we throw out our geo political game plan and switch to a new strategy. So you tell me. What do you think Trump would likely say in the face of those realities. I think what you need to comprehend here is – there is an actual cost to decoupling from Asia.
I am not saying under Trump there would not be a revision of the non escalation doctrine. There certainly would be tweaks but I cannot see how things can change radically from what is postured out there currently, that’s really all I am saying.
As for pundits claiming Trump will do this and that – I think they don’t appreciate the influencing quotient of the security and clandestine services in the US on the policy formulation process.
Q: What do you think about the latest threat that is floating in the internet that Trump would be killed by the globalist. Is there any measure of truth to that?
A: I much prefer not to comment on rumors.
Q: Are you aware of any such threats? And if so how serious is it.
A: Ditto….I don’t wish to come across as rude, but I would appreciate it if you ask me questions that I can respond too.
Q: Trump has publicly stated he is against Nafta and the roll out of TPP. Do you believe he is serious?
A: He may be. That I will grant you. But after his first 100 days in the White House. He will ratify the TPP. As that remains the most cost competitive option to perpetuate US corporate hegemony in the region. To me all this anti TPP talk from Trump is just electoral bait – fact is the US is like a ship with a big hole and the TPP remains the only effective patch to keep global growth alive. That’s the only game in town.
Q: Are you in support of the TPP?
Q: Would you like to elaborate why?
A: I much prefer the perceptive reader to fill in the blanks.
Q: Thank you for your time.
A: Thank you for having me.
September 18, 2016
Whether the custodians of power are inclined to come to terms with reality or not. This hardly alters the fact: Malaysia is well and truly a divided country by every conceivable definition.
As when a situation presents itself in the stark and naked terms of ‘it is what it is!’
What one thinks, counts for squat – it is, what it is and no amount of negotiations will ever alter that reality.
The issue to me is strictly mechanical and purely administratively functional – it pertains solely to the legitimacy to lead the country.
As it is Malaysia resembles so many countries within one country – there are many who remain unhappy about how the 1 MDB case is handled. We are not talking about two people and one parrot perching on a mango tree…this just happens to be a significant cachet of voters who incidentally run into seven figures.
Then there are those who have absolutely no idea where to plumb…they are sitting on the fence and who can blame them – as since it’s so messy and there is so much extraneous noise…all it does is amplifies the confusion and heighten this state of dissonance. Again they are not happy either.
Then there are those who are not happy about what they see as their diminishing rights to question those in power…they too are not happy.
To complicate matters. There exist a very small and deluded minority who believe Malaysians have no right whatsoever to either question or voice their legitimate opinions concerning the state of the country – and since this peculiar folk can really only continue to alienate reasonable and sane people by their heavy handedness all they are doing is turning would be supporters of BN into die hard enemies. So everyone is not happy.
Not even the supposedly ‘happy’ people who are tasked to make sure BN wins can be truly happy either – as even they cannot be so delusional, out of touch and disconnected with the rakyat that they don’t want people to genuinely support them for all the right and not the wrong reasons. After all they too want to be respected as well…they too have to look in the mirror and the eyes of their children and take comfort in the believe what they stand for and do is good for king, country and people wot!
The problem in Malaysia is much bigger than just Mahathir or whoever that chooses to step up to the plate….it has reached a point when it’s like a debilitating disease that has rooted itself deep within the marrows of the bones of the country – like I said things in Malaysia is very messy and so it is very natural for the vast majority of people to be anxious and apprehensive about the future.
That is why a snap elections will clear the air once and for all….even if it doesn’t achieve anything at all. At least it will set out very clearly where the current custodians of power stand in relation to the rakyat….if they don’t garner the requisite votes. Please go lah…see you, have a nice life…next please. If they are able to secure the magic numbers to form a government…then carry on lah!
No need to talk, think or speculate endlessly.
Either way…if a snap elections is the cards. I for one will certainly welcome it like a breathe of fresh air. Only because it holds out the promise of some measure of much needed clarity to what seems to be a perpetual fog that has descended upon a very messy country called Malaysia.
‘Malaysia needs competent planters. So does North Korea it seems..planters over there are revered. They occupy very high social standings. The moment a planter walks into the North Korean embassy and even if he casually mentions – I am mildly interested to explore agricultural possibilities in your country. They’re treated like Gods and offered an all expense red carpet fourteen day tour of Dear leader land. Depending on one’s credentials – there’s even a possibility to dine with the man himself… I am not kidding. They are even prepared to find you a wife. How I know, please don’t ask – I just know.
In Africa same thing – planters and the shaman, the medicine man occupy the same social standing as they are considered the midwifes of all life and in the Ukraine – they are so desperately short of modern agricultural technology and know how, the moment you even hint, you might want to farm – the KGB will open a file on you. It’s automatic. Shortly thereafter a tall and very beautiful Russian sex agent will attempt to influence with a once in a lifetime offer from the ministry of livestock and agricultural of a twenty five year concession with an option to be extended in perpetuity for land with a FOC quickie to sweeten the deal….if you signify acceptance by tasting the crumpet..again don’t ask how I know all these clandestine things. Bc my lips like my zipper is forever sealed with superglue lah.
We are not only talking here about planters specifically, we could just as well be discussing every conceivable skill set that needs to support a modern sovereign state that has to maintain it’s infrastructure and grow it’s natural and industrial attributes coherently….in short. Malaysia cannot do without thinkers…no country that has a serious blueprint for sustainable growth can do without thinkers. They can do with thugs, gangsters, people who like to throw innocent people into prison, merchants of lies who slander people for a living…but they will all go nowhere without thinkers!
If stupid people are managing high speed rail networks – that’s no bloody good at all….as in the long run, no one will every buy a ticket to sit on a train that takes them to heaven…that is what happens when low IQ people can only be found by scrapping the bottom of the barrel to manage complex enterprises. They mess things up then run and hide. Same goes for every category of trade and commerce as well – they all need serious thinkers to make meaningful progress.
But to manage a knowledge based population also requires a knowledge based administration and most important a knowledge based led thoughtware that enables thinkers and not disable them – and all this needs to be anchored on the rule of law.
Of course there exist no shortage of stupid people who are all too willing to say – don’t like it…go lah! The problem is these same people cannot manage high speed rail networks or for that matter plan or manage anything beyond a mamak teh Tarik shop competently either – if they can do all these high performance work that demands intellectual capital then they would not be so cavalier in their attitude towards the acute Malaysian brain drain problem.
Neither would they have any problems understanding the basic building blocks of statecraft and WHY it doesn’t pay to piss off thinking folk and antagonize intellectuals if one is seriously about making progress on a national level.
Already as it is Malaysia is losing it’s attractiveness to many young graduates and would be investors – many have decided not to return and instead work abroad or keep their investment plans on permafrost. Many say it’s the lousy exchange rate or the lack of job opportunities brought forth by a slowing global economy….say what you like, but no one can certainly deny if people cannot even think and talk freely without ending up in strange places they rather not be, then it’s one more reason for them not to return.
After all if that is going to be the case for life – then tell me what is the difference between turning the wheel of life in Africa from Malaysia? Of course Africa is very dangerous…but if people are just voicing out their legitimate concerns and they end up in funny places they rather not be…what then is there really to quibble about danger here or there?
Isn’t it the same here and there…when things go to the dogs?
Use your mentality! Isn’t the case clear. As either way business realities are as follows – per metric ton of produce or minerals mined in Africa the potential on one’s return of investment is minimum 1,000% – you see even African leaders are a very realistic and highly considerate lot to provision high returns by factoring in danger $ to make it worthwhile for businessmen to put up with the inconvenience of dodging bullets, getting hijacked by the local power crazed chieftains, the occasional bubonic plague, crappy bureaucracy, non existent rule of law, super lax gun laws, firearms going off accidentally etc etc.
See my point…it’s so very clear to me….now you understand why it’s not a reasonable nor workable proposition to stop people from thinking or for that matter gagging them – not if what thinkers have to say happen to be timely, reasonable, legitimate and intelligent…want to do that, then be prepared for a basket case country….the way I see it, it’s very immature and childish to expect the blessings smart and capable people can offer without at least having the courtesy and tolerance to put up with some of their quirks.’
September 17, 2016
I don’t want to get stressed out any longer by inconsiderate people who show up during meetings wearing gunny sacks and clown suits. Dowan lah! Life is too short. So from today onwards just copy out the pic above and show it to the tailor and say this is what I want…can or cannot….money no object…if can, proceed…if cannot go and find another tailor who can fulfill the above stated criteria. No need to think any longer. Using your brain is now strictly optional.
Just tell the tailor. I just want to look like him.
End of story!
Bye bye…as some of you already know…I have taken a solemn vow never to regress to my evil ways again. But it seems some people are inclined to bring out the worst in me. I don’t mind sharing this with some of you. There was a time not too long ago when I used to harbor the mistaken belief dictators like Stalin and Hitler were absolutely horrible people for setting up concentration camps and gulags….upon quiet reflection based on the humiliation I have to constantly endure. I think they are just highly misunderstood people.
So this is the new order….it is the law from today onwards!
‘You know when you’re are wearing a magnificently tailored suit. Because the very moment you step into a room…if there are two people..it’s bang, bang…if there’s three….it’s bang, bang and bang – and if there is four and a penguin…it’s bang, bang, bang, bang and that’s when the penguin quips…thank you!
Don’t get it…never mind that’s because the penguin is born with a suit and this leads me to my main point – you don’t tailor a magnificent suit as much as you come into it and to accomplish this. One needs to first be sensitive and respectful to the craft of tailoring.
By this I mean a tailor is really not so different from any other category of craftsman – tailors are incredibly observant folk. They have as many eyes as a pineapple. The moment you walk into a shop, it’s no different from stepping into the lobby of the CIA wearing a I love Osama T shirt – everyone in the shop from the master cutter to the fitter is already taking in the details – without you even realizing it, they’ve already summarized your physique right down to how one shoulder is higher than the other or how your right hand differs slightly in length to the left, to the hidden detailings of the darting to accomplish the waist suppression, to how the fabric sits on your shoulders, the canvassing etc etc. They can see things which you’re completely obviously of nuances…details…the minutae fractional – so a form of non verbal communication has begun in earnest the moment you step into a tailoring establishment. One where you as the client – you must be mindful to remain informed, polite and respectful if you genuinely want the tailor to perform at his best.
This one rule is often flouted. Not because the client is malicious or harbors ill will – rather it’s due to ignorance of the craft of tailoring and when one does not know what one should know it’s easy to be disrespectful to the craftsman and his trade.
So never into a tailor establishment and shoot your mouth off like you would if you’re in a car accessory shop deciding whether you should opt for camel brown or dark grey window tinting – that’s OK if you’re dealing with technicians who are learning on the go, but it’s highly disrespectful and even condescending to a craftsman….should you do that, I can almost guarantee you 100% – you’re unlikely to get a good suit.
Instead adopt a very congenial attitude. The word to describe this attitude is ‘simpatico’ – go with the flow and let the man do what he’s dedicated his entire life to be passionate about – you are not passionate about bespoke suits, you may be about what rims to fit on your car, but certainly not about pleats, darts and canvassing, but he is – so by just adopting this attitude – you have created the very conditions to bring out the best in your tailor and so he can really only delight you.
That’s the way to play the game…of course not every tailor has the métier to play that sort of game. But all things considered every tailor even the half past six variety in my experience takes his cue from Emerson’s quip,
‘Even a brick aspires to be something great.’
It’s like me. If you come to see me for the very first time to dress your shoes and start off asking to see colorful pics – sure I will oblige you by showing you loads of photoshopped pics of shoes I previously worked on. But you have to be mindful pics only tell maybe 5% of the story. As they can be manipulated to highlight…but that’s also the break point when one part of my mind has already convince the remainder – since this customer knows absolutely nothing about my craft! Worst of all he’s not even interested in whatever opinions I may harbor about what works or not…so sure the work eventually gets done, but since UNAWARE to you – a whole entire field of possibilities remains unexplored due to the low quality of communication between client and craftsman, whatever results can really only leave a gap between yearning and fulfillment of that desire….notice I am not only referring to the client but also the craftsman as well.
But if the client empowers me by giving me free rein in such a way where he is respectful of my craft and knows it to be an apprenticed craft – then I can do so many things and even if I cannot fulfill his desires I will know when to bow out gracefully by recommending him to someone who can offer that service…either way he will leave very satisfied and delighted.
That I feel may be the reason why so many people continue to go around wearing lousy suits and shoes that inflict pain on others….it’s very painful as it’s high unnecessary.’
September 16, 2016
I want you all to imagine this scene being played out in HD and THX sound. You’re sitting in a conference room high above the city skyline. You’ve just had your fill of a delightful brunch served up by a Cordon Blue chef who was specially flown in by the host for just this event. Everyone sitting in the room has a nett worth exceeding USD$100 million. Every single person in the room wants a thick slice of the action….that’s how it’s going to go down.
A man in a very ill fitting expensive suit is throwing out PowerPoint frames fast and furious at the far end. From time to time he punctuates his presentation with a rah rah you jump and we all jump tag line, ‘all we have to do is load dirt into a lorry and keep on doing that 24/7 and we will all be rich.’
He repeats this on every change of the third frame.
Everyone in the room is bullish. They’re all locked and loaded. Everyone has their foot stuck on the accelerator pedal…they’re not even holding back one millimeter.
You see sometimes a sweet deal comes right along and it’s in the nature of everyone to want a seat….that’s really how it is when the deal is package exactly like 40% proof alcohol – it’s goes right up to the head.
Everyone is ready set to go to whip out their cheque books to write off six figures in anticipation to reap a ROI of seven figures.
But here comes the rub. Not a single man in the room has ever set foot in Africa before….No maybe one. A man seated in the shadows chain smoking. He leans forward momentarily and just at that moment his hard and implacable features stand out sharply in relief like cut granite…he’s looking straight at me with that ‘let’s get out here while we still have legs to walk out.’
I flash him a look of quiet complicity.
You see it’s really simple. Those people in that room simply don’t have any idea of the complexity of conducting trade and commerce in the dark continent….and worst of all they don’t seem to want to listen…I’ve seen this before…it’s a bloody recipe for disaster.
Of course. I was very polite to hatch some excuse as I slinked quietly away mid way during the presentation. The stranger got up and did the same shortly. After all it’s a kamikaze deal….a one way ticket.
It’s so very clear to me…what’s left on the table…I am likely to wing it all alone on this one. This will mean the deal probably has to be micro sized to fit my limited budget. But at least with this model…I am sure to reap a modest profit and most importantly come out safely thru the other side.
As for the deal before me. I need it like I need liver cancer!
I am outta here!
‘Never get a sheep to do a foxes job. Never! Not if you’re serious about good results. That rule of thumb is virtually axiomatic in business and everything else. But more importantly keep steadfastly to the cardinal rule – the discipline to listen deeply and to ask intelligent questions.
I am not talking about the 20 question repertoire to show off to others what a smarty pants you are. I mean questions that can hopefully allow you string those answers to connect the vital dots and to assemble a picture – questions that allow the team you’re leading to sink their teeth into…questions that can lead to answers to allow you to crunch numbers and derive at where X marks the spot – questions that will enable you to profile the best informed decision under any given set of circumstances.
The way I see it. If you do just this alone and even should you fail, then you’ve done your due diligence and your very best. No man has a right to pin the blame on you not even should you take a fall….as that’s how it goes at this level of the game.
I understand…I understand completely that doesn’t half cut the pain of failure, but it certainly takes off enough of the edges to remind you and others that you have done the best you can…..deep listening is unfortunately the most underrated skill set not only in business, but life in general.
That’s because most people make the mistake of least mental resistance by equating talking well with competence…comfidence and progress….I don’t for one moment deny this is true to some extent. But my point is those aspects of high performance needs to always be balanced with deep listening skills for them to acquire a meaningful edge.
When one cultivates the art of listening deeply, it always pays out loads of dividends….it doesn’t matter who you are practicing this skill set on. It could be a CEO of a Fortune 500 company…a tailor…bicycle mechanic or just some hippie that’s working part time in an outdoor adventure shop selling specialized climbing ropes.
In almost every case without a single exception whenever I make the effort to quieten down during a conversation and sharpen my deep listening skills I am ALWAYS learning, accumulating knowledge that I previously did not have or realized I held on to incorrectly.
Streaming all of yourself to listen deeply instead of babbling away monotone like a motor mouth – sends out the clearest message, you are genuinely interested in the objects of interest that the other side is passionate about….it’s the art of connecting meaningfully with others.
This to me is the highest level of respect and consideration you can possibly accord to others…above all it allows you the rare opportunity to see the world slightly differently from the way you have always seen it.
Not listening deeply can however land one in big trouble, especially when you have a bunch of delusional businessmen planning to make it big in Africa by just listening to confirm what they have already decided p….not realizing all they’re really doing is playing deadly game of Russian roulette during amateur hour…that’s really not my sort of game.’
September 15, 2016
When you’re a socially awkward person. You’re naturally inclined to be more detached, isolated and in your own world – unbeknown to others and possibly even yourself, that’s really YOUR only way of preserving the part keeps you…you – who you really are!
The worst thing that a socially awkward person can ever try to do is to dismantle the sum of all the parts that is ‘himself’ and retooling himself into everyone else.
Once you set about cannibalizing who you are to fashion yourself into someone who you were obviously never meant to be….instead of coming to terms with who you really are and seeing yourself as a unique and valuable person who has something very interesting to share with the whole world – all you would have managed to accomplish is to destroy that aspect of who you are and what distinguishes you from all other men.
You will just end up like everyone else.
‘One reason why I much prefer to spend time all alone much more perhaps than the average person is firstly….I can afford to. I am not boasting. But it’s just a fact of life that dawned on me quite early on in my life. Since I noticed, I was so very different from all other men. I needed to first work really hard to enable me to fashion my own world within the world like maybe the same way Howard Hughes.
Don’t take it personally! Don’t. I’ve no axe to grind with the world. I am cool. I love people and planet. But I need to first be alone to enable me to keep my motivation and interest burning as fiercely as possible…otherwise it’s no good.
Things wouldn’t come around.
I am not going to lie to you! Being socially awkward or the odd one out certainly has it’s disadvantages – maintaining relationships is always a strain, it never comes naturally even when I try very hard to put others at ease – it can never come naturally to me. To exacerbate matters socially awkward people can very easily be misinterpreted and misunderstood by others.
So to my understanding at least – it’s best not to cause friction by immersing oneself all the time in that other world that keeps trying to change who you are….it’s never a matter of conflict for me. Much more a case of managing oneself and others effective like how a fish can only be a fish when it’s swimming in water and not flipping helplessly on land. Like I said earlier – it’s never personal with me.
My point is if the elemental nature of your character is different. Then learn to live with it by first coming to terms with your strengths and weaknesses. In other words summon the maturity to accept who you are first! Don’t fight it by denying it tooth and nail. Never see your ‘difference’ as something dirty and shameful!
Just accept it like one of those it is what it is sort of things.
If for instance your strength is not people skills and that’s really your kryptonite – then sure work at it. But even should you try darn hard. You have to accept at some point – that skill will NEVER ever come naturally to you like some people. It will always demand so much of you that it may be better to just make the necessary adjustments in your life to take stock of that weaknesses.
The solution – could be starting your own enterprise so that YOU and not others have much more control over how you want things done. Or maybe trying to slide yourself into a niche in an organization where you are allowed to do your own thing – that I imagine will never be easy.
As the world can be terribly difficult and impossibly demanding at times to people who are socially awkward – but despite one’s awkwardness – it’s vitally importantly for one to come to terms with one reality – to be able to see one’s social awkwardness as an advantage rather than a weakness that necessarily requires changing….as it just means you are slightly different from all other men.
That ‘slight difference’ in how you see yourself and the greater world may not count for crud, when you’re wondering why you keep making people feel uncomfortable or seem to bring out the worse in them all the time…but trust me, it’s a long term advantage that took me a while to figure out.
I’ve been very lucky. As I seem to not only attract loners…people who are all socially awkward. But you could even say I am a sort of leader in this tribe of strange men who all seem to suffer from an incurable way of seeing the world differently from all others. They may still be doctors, engineers, lawyers or whatever that is mainstream. But my point is they never want to be just doctors, engineers, lawyers or whatever that is mainstream….so these socially awkward souls have no choice but to do they own thing. Either that or the system just spits them out time and again till they finally realize they’re getting absolutely no where trying to force a square peg into a round hole….and when a man does his own thing, it’s a wonderful thing. As it just means, he has begun his epic life journey to discover his own mythical line that will eventually lead him to self discovery.
So if you are different….breathe….relax….it’s perfectly OK.’