There are alot of kids and young people in Singapore jumping up and down to try to get food companies to switch their cooking oil to what they believe to be sustainable oil palm.

There is only one problem there…99% of the environmental based problems are actually generated by these so called ‘sustainable’ oil palm producers. As they are so uminaginably big that i will not even begin to recount how spatially big their plantations actually are….only my feel is make sense of what is good and bad palm oil…maybe the focus should shift from what is and is not sustainable to the whole question of scale and size… see when it comes to saving people and planet size matters.


‘I’ve grown hard thru the years. I know I have. I must have. At times I can feel the hardness scrapping against my sense and sensibilities…its like sandpaper against granite. These days I much prefer to keep quiet even when I know that something needs to be set right. Once one has cultivated this bent, its easy to let things slide…one either pretends not to hear the question and if that doesnt work, all one has to do is shift the conversation by asking something like….does anyone know what was the score between Man united and Derby?

You act dumb….you stick to really shallow stuff like whether bubble tea gives you gas or spend really alot of time talking about the philosophy of playing Pokemon and why you believe it restores the human spirit….you do all these things passionately and meticolously….because deep down you’re so defeated by the sheer number of naive and stupid people who don’t seem to want to know the real problem. Why should they? How could they. When they can get it on the cheap from the fast and furious feed of Youtube where everyone goes around talking about their objects of interest as if they’re some rocket scientist sporting that seen it, done it T shirt. When the truth is they barely even scrached the surface….I dont even despise these people. No if anything. I pity them. I pity them all.’

Singapore’s total fertility rate has dropped to 1.16, making it the lowest figure since 1.15 in 2010 and the second lowest ever recorded. The only reason why Josephine Teo can speak so non chalantly about this lamentable turn of events is because firstly, her pay is not linked to performance i.e even if the baby rates go up or down, she gets the same bloody pay!

The second reason why no one is particularly alarmed by this turn of events is because there is attempt to correlate accounting for the total fertility rate with future defense cost. If anyone in government really did that they would be sweating bullets!


‘There’s something terribly wrong with the picture. This is how i see it. If i hire a planter to manage my estate. I really only care about the yield. If for some reason after a full season and a bit, the yield deteriorates and gets from bad to worse, then i or anyone on the other side of the high and mighty table would most probably ask – do you have a strategy to reverse this slide? Can you share with us your plan?

So I am asking can you share with us your plan?

Do you even have one?

But that’s how one makes sense of problem solving in a plantation. In the case of our abysmal baby birth rates it doesn’t look bad only because there are no real metrics to measure or for matter scale out the losses. So lets be clear. Its not that its not bad…there is simply no means to make sense of the deficit. But if lets say i did an exponential calculation thru a period of time on how this would impact national defense. Then that would be a different matter entirely. Or if i sat with you in starbuck looked into your eyes and muttered as if i was simply thinking aloud – when people dont have kids any more it simply means they dont have faith in either themselves or the future and I dont really know why is worse…then maybe you would feel the weight of this deficit. Maybe you would…and that’s really my point.’

On this subject. I am crystal clear. There is fake news and of course…there is fake news.

If you genuinely want to know how Americans deal with reality. All you have to do is examine the underlying logic of their foreign policy. It begins with the prerequisite of pretense. Americans need to pretend they are eternally innocent no matter how many times they lose their innocence. They are virgins that can be perpetually fucked without breaking their hymen. This controlled state of mind guarantees, those who insist on the intactness of their innocence will believe anything and everything they choose to say or do is just…righteous…and most importantly right. This ability to suspend disbelief is what makes US foreign policy not just a very robust school of thought but state of mind as well. As since one is most insistent on being innocent even the in the face of guilt, that means one can only sincerely believe….even if it happens to be a lie.

Chinese domestic policy does not suffer from the same affectations of US foreign policy. For one it is too prosaic and that vantage by itself almost guarantees the need to come to terms with guilt and culpability, morality fortunately is optional in China, but indepth understanding of dark things is absolutely indispensible. So Chinese domestic policy first requires the repudiation of innocence and the acceptance of guilt as an elemental aspect of governance…it is this aspect of Chinese domestic policy that makes it so chilling and yet effective.


February 28, 2018

I think it’s stupid to believe just because you choose not to acknowledge my presence that I will do the same…I need you to understand. I am much bigger than the very idea of what I may be or may not be in your head. Coming to think of it, I don’t ever need you to see me. That’s optional. I just am…’

The invisible man

February 26, 2018

Some people come and…of course they move on right on. But some. The exceptionally few. They simply disappear into thin air.

It is the lives and histories of these people who have always intrigued me.

It is as if the people who wordsmith the stories of these invisible folk dont want others to read it.


‘If you ask me where is the most civilised place in Asia. I would have to say Saigon circa 1972. It was hardly just a place, rather it was very much an attempt by the nostalgic French to preserve whatever remnants of influence they still had over indochina.

In the evenings they sipped blue caracoa aperitifs on the streets of saigon they were content to name Le Cercle Sportif….boulevard Norodom….Quai De L’Argonne.

They the colonial french gave birth to the word, ‘Occidental’ which they much preferred to that other word their British imperialist were content to term eurasians. The former suggested that love and affection had something to do with it…presumably in the way one prefers ice with whisky on a hot evening.

It’s very hard to say what would really endure and wane during that fleeting age of elegance.

Men of letters were content to live a life a controlled disippation that saw them circulate between the roulette table and the rue de Orienti that was where they secreted their mistresses. Saigonese ladies wore silk long dresses that the world no longer remembers.

It was after a period when vulvanized rubber ruled the world..the golden age of the gentlemen planter….although somewhat of the misnomer when applied to the man who once saw all these ghostly images in 1990 as he walked the old forgotten french quarter of Saigon.

That man was a spy who worked for french intelligence. He wore a submariner with the minute dial set to three… drank only Pernod before tea time and lodged in the metropole along Thi Xuan. The man worked a 35mm Nikon.

Then one day…poof! He just disappeared.

The invisible man.

The Italians of Asia

February 26, 2018

No! I dont imagine I see the world like an Italian….but I happen to know of many who do. If I’ve such an aspect in my character that qualifies as a vice or gift depending of course on how many tiger beers have been emptied. I am simply one of those fellows who are content to see the world prosaically…that’s to say as it is warts and all in its pure and unadulterated state. Sometimes especially when the light wanes ever so softly in the reproach of the evenings…sometimes I flatter myself that surely this has to be a talent. At other times when the long drawn nights seem to stretch forever like a solitary ship ploughing thru inky blackness….I wonder perhaps it is a curse and nothing of the sort near talent.

After all, a talent has to serve. I admit it need not. But it should. Even if one happens to be its sole secret admirer….not something that enslaves you. That if you understand is why I can never seek anything resembling oneness with those who claim they have to write…they have no choice, but to bear witness and narrate. That if you must know is what i regard as a useless talent as one is compelled to serve it always.

The talent you cannot put down or let go for a whole week or better still a month is a talent that uses you…you can’t command it at will – that’s a liability.

But as the light dies and I confess all this to you my dear perceptive reader…my way of seeing the world and nursing the conceit of my talent..for the moment at least while the light manages to hold out….my talent seems more of a virtue than a danger, which ironically is how all dangers first appear…as talents that one is able to command at will.

And this brings me to the coda of my point. No…I dont think Italians would ever think of such things.


It is the very question itself that limits us to understanding the awful reality of our times. As within the four corners of such a question is the underlying assumption that all the answers to many of our questions resides in the power of one man. I do not doubt that formula may have worked well in the past….but today things are so very different and added to all these there are so many moving parts and its all so mind boggling complicated.

Against this background….maybe it is best or shall i venture to use the word prudent, to throw out the idea of one supreme leader as the relible means to move forward….as the answer can no longer be in the idea of one man. Rather it is in many many men.


‘I tell people this. You don’t succeed or fail because of fortune, luck, good or bad genes or for that even matter who your parents are or where were you standing when the first plane ploughed into the twin towers in New York. All that really only makes sense in the movies and paperback novels.

Truth is quite boring, mundane and plain unassuming and that could well be the main reason why so many people find it terribly difficult to buy into the idea of success and failure….so let me give it to you straight up. That’s to say I am not even going to dress it up…the naked truth that is…are you ready?

Here it comes….the only reason why you succeed is because you understand the way the world actually works and what needs to be done to increase your chances of success and decrease your probability of failure to zero and if you fail that is because others understand this calculus of success better than you!

That’s all it is….that’s all it will ever be for me.’

Eight years ago. I paid about S$1,000 to attend a day course on how to reset a off set gear on a 4×4. I knew something was odd as all the participants in the course were attired in hard core survivalist cum prepper camouflage. At the end of the course the trainer even admitted the chances of a modern 4X4 encountering this technical problem was 1/2,000,000 as modern innovation and improvements had rendered this problem obselete…..I remember feeling cheated followed by a sharp desire to strangle the trainer.

Three hours ago. I encountered such a problem. Deep in the wild. I did not panic. As I knew exactly what to do and managed to limp back to the safe house.

Life & Stress

February 19, 2018

It is true. I certainly cannot control the people and events that will generate stressful conditions……that I have absolutely no power or control over.

But. I have full mastery over myself. That means I can control my responses and how I may or may not react to a stressful situation….I think that is all I can do.

It is very foolish and unrealistic to expect more than simply this.


‘Journeying deep into your being will always seem as if you are closing your doors to the world and retreating from it….but that is not true. What is actually an act of closing your doors to the world is when you choose to be part of a lie, that is to say….you choose with full knowledge aforesaid to collaborate to make that lie a reality in your life.

Many people do this. Some even do it on a regular basis every week where they get together with other liars and begin manufacturing their version of reality.

Sure it makes them all feel good…but it is a lie and there are all no closer to knowing who they truly are.’

Stress & Life

February 19, 2018

Many people have asked of me – why is it some souls retreat into the forest and wilderness far removed from the crowd and noise? Are they trying to avoid all forms of stress so as not to suffer?

The answer to that question is very simple. Retreating from the world is not the same as rejecting the world….if a man does all these things, it is only motivated to discover who he truly is so that he can be best prepared to deal with everything life throws at him….as I mentioned…retreating from the world is not the same as rejecting everything that is of this world.

If it is anything at all – it is merely a means for one find oneself in the world so as to get along with it as best one humanly can.


‘If you want to avoid stress in Singapore, it is very simple. All you have to do is go for Sunday service in either new creation or city harvest or any other prosperity church that is run by a bent pastor. What he will do is perform magic tricks such as make your POSB account lose a few zeros and after that you feel so very light….you will also feel very airy as well. As by the time these con artist have finished with you…all you will have is your underwear and pagoda undershirt.

Alternatively you can go to one of those relaxation holidays where they give you ten massages a day and where everyone is so nice and polite and every room is lit with incense sticks and bath in soft candle lights….but again that is not reality as no where in life will you ever find that sort of life holding itself as gainfully real.

Truth is there is no way to avoid stress in life. Because life is by its very nature stressful. We all go thru our fair human measure of stress…some have it better than others, but by and large we can all agree without too much difficulty to be gainfully part of the human condition, one has to first accept that life is intrinsically and elementally stressful.

But just because we know life is stressful…just because we know that on the scale of probabilities we are all likely to experienced the passing of a loved one, health issues, financial setbacks, upheavals in both our professional and personal life etc etc that doesn’t mean that we have been put here on this planet to nourish human suffering. Rather it simply means when we know who we genuinely are deep down…it makes it much easier for us to deal calmly and wisely with a stressful situation.

If you observe very effective people carefully….you will find that they are very calm and collected when everyone else is running around like headless chickens…..and this is where you must press the pause button and ask of yourself.

Is this the sort of person who believes that to life a purpose driven life one must avoid stress?

You will find that when you ask of yourself this question…it is suddenly such a stupid question and that is really the answer you have been searching for.’

Very nice…

February 17, 2018

I didn’t expect to get a call last night…but I did. It was a very nice one. As I really didnt expect it.


Three years ago…

I’ve seen you before…in Africa. Yes in Uganda. Kampala. You’re a planter.

No. I am so sorry…you must have mistaken me for someone else. You really must*.

* I happen to be one of those who believe that you can’t run from your past. That’s not possible. You know…there times when a car blows it’s exhaust and it sounds like a rent of gun shot. You duck…you get so low that you’re a part of the pavement…then slowly…very slowly. You realise everyone is looking at you and wondering why you did that.. you feel embarraswd. You brush yourself off the best you can, smile sheepishly and walk away. But deep down you know. You can never run away from the man who you used to be…you see the past will always be part of you.

I listened to this audio documentary during an actual blackout by candlelight…it was very enjoyable. Although I don’t understand what the fuss is all about. As I experience blackout’s and power disruptions on a regular basis.


‘New York had a blackout in 1965. At that time there was no panic, fear or for that matter pandemonium in the streets unlike what transpired in 1977. So what we have here essentially is a story about how things deteriorate and change not for the better, but for the worse…above all it is a story of how governments can fail and how imagined fears can sharpen in unexpected darkness bringing out the very worst and best in mankind.

I listened to this video in candlelight during a blackout in the evening…I listen a lot to radio dramas and documentaries.

How to lead a large breed dog

February 16, 2018

The first rule of thumb is SAFETY FIRST!

(1) In my considered personal opinion ALL large breed dogs should be muzzled in public. The reason is very simple, these are not casual pets. They are weapon systems just like a battering ram or semi automatic. They will ALWAYS be dangerous if you do not know what they are capable of and disrespect them by taking them lightly.

(2) fail safe. Always make sure you are doubled tied. This way your dog can never run loose. In this case I have a special Anchor Point on my belt that allows a carabiner to be looped and secured ensuring that my dog is always tied to me even should I need my two hands to do other things.

(3) always use a brake, that means the lead should always run across your buttocks. This way should your dog bolt suddenly without warning you will still be able to control your dog without losing either your balance or footing. As this ensures the dog is always belayed and counter weighted. This is a very common mistake that most dog owners do not seem to practice, from what I have observed they simply hold on to the lead without bothering to secure it to a second Anchor Point. This can easily slip off or cause them to loose control.

In Singapore lagi champion…it is not unusual to see children taking large breeds such as rotweillers and German shepherds out for walks without any adult supervision. Sometimes Filipino maids do the same. As their owners are irresponsible, lazy and stupid.


(4) always carry a stick. This is a last resort measure should you need to forcefully restraint your pet.

Note of warning: do not allow strangers to either approach or touch your dog. Inform them politely but assertively….I would appreciate it if you keep your distance to ensure your body parts are not damaged.’ Do not be afraid to be rude. As it is better to be rude than to end up in an expensive law suit or to spend half a day in the cop shop.

Where or when

February 13, 2018

The only thing that seems to certain in this world is that there is going to be more uncertainty. Against this ever changing backdrop, it may not be a good idea to put all the chips on one man….not even a very good man…that idea would only make sense if the political, economic, social and cultural environment is predictable and can be relied on to make sense. The problem is these days events seem to be cascading in dramatic shifts which are frequently unpredictable and even so wild that it defies all attempts at prediction.

The idea of leadership in Singapore cannot possibly remain the same when so many things are up in the air.

When one has every reason to advance and seize ground. But suddenly one stops does a u turn and suddenly shows no further interest in either advancing or seizing more lands…..this can only cause your enemy to speculate no end on the why’s…..given more time this prevailing mood of speculation will be transformed into a thick fog of uncertainty. Uncertainly leads to confusion that can only dissolve the resolve and surefootedness of your enemy …..when the level of confusion is at the highest…turn around rapidly without warning and attack decisively.

You will win!


‘In the art of war never ever be predictable. Always make it difficult for your enemy to fathom your next move. Instead zig-zag and should you decide to go from point A to B. Take the long and windy road even if it takes longer and is riskier. By doing just this. You will not only disrupt the rhythm of your enemy, but you will also force him to devote valuable resources to track you.

Once rythmm is thrown out of sync, it is very difficult for the other side to proceed confidently. Suddenly his movements will be laboured and jerky. Given more time, he will harried endless by anxiety and imaginary fears that will suddenly appear realer than real.

In the vermillion book of the martial discipline of Ho Kuen – in chapter seven. There is the art of the motionless warrior.

This chapter is often misunderstood and elided…as it only has two stanza’s. The first is very unassuming, it describes how one would go about adopting a defensive posture…the second stanza seems out of place. And for over three centuries it was even considered a printing error where many publishers even corrected much to the consternation of many who are familiar with this Chinese martial arts…as the second stanza describes how chilies should be sunned and for how long.

I will leave all that you…the perceptive reader to read into further.

Let me press on.

In this exercise the master will accept a challenge from an eager exponent. However just before the bout begins. The master will take a sip of tea. Then the tension is slowly fanned again like white hot coals and just when it is about to explode…again the master will raise his finger and this time, he will pretend to sneeze and this will happen again and again…till at some point the exponent would be so exhausted by this emotional rollercoaster ride that all he can do is feel very lost and demoralised….and that is the point when the master will unleash his fist of fury.

Research and study this well. As this applies to diplomacy when dealing with adversaries that have a habit of breaking covenants and whipping up trouble. The strategy of the motionless warrior can also be used against argumentative people in office or difficult customers…..keep breaking off the conversation just at the point of highest tension. Then return to it again with enthuism…do the same again and again. Soon their resilience and resolve will begin to dissolve…..that is when you must attack decisively.’

Note of caution: This strategy should only be used sparingly. As over or indiscrimate use will likely wear out the result to the point of uselessness.

Case study and how and when to use this strategy:

Recently woody Goh made public his concern that he was ‘watching’ that nothing seems to be happening with Singapore’s PM succession plan. Mini Lee overacted and issued a barbed repartee to the effect….’it would take longer and woody was talking only as a watcher and not a doer.’

To my understanding this was a squandered opportunity to test out the strengths and weaknesses of future Singapore PM…as what it would have introduced into the testing arena is the element of uncertainty.

Had mini Lee shut his mouth and just responded by ignoring woody…he would have set into motion the strategy of the motionless warrior and this itself would heighten the pressure on the PM candidates…they would feel the stress and they would have to react..from their reaction we would be able to read their character under three criterias, their ability to scale threats and opportunities, craft strategy and quality of execution.’

Being inwardly steady

February 12, 2018

I usually meet my business rivals for breakfast in the beginning of every month. But for the last two months I have stopped going to these ‘friendly’ meet ups.

Is there a reason why?

Not really. I just feel that these meets no longer fulfill my Mission. That is to say I use it primarily as a means to gauge the danger level in order to manage risk intelligently….but the other side will also do this as well.

A total communication blackout is definitely very dangerous….as it can lead to an escalation of conflict based on misunderstandings….but my feel is this mood of cautiousness is not such a bad thing. As it will compel the other side to stop everything and simply observe…..observe what you may ask…nothing.

As I said, it’s all very quiet and that may well be why there’s a tight tension in the air like just before an electrical storm.


‘When you think long and hard about it….it’s not really life’s problems that has the capacity to push us over the edge. Rather it is us the emotional storm that is whipped up inside us while trying to get on top of these problems.

I think if you really want to judge a métier of a man – then put pressure on him and watch how he responds to it. Does he run around blaming everyone like a headless chicken? Or does he just proceed quietly and calmly…if he does the latter. Then you would do well to ask further….who taught him these things…where did he learn them….I think many people fail to do that. That is why very often they scale threats and opportunities incorrectly. They think it is like this or that, but it ends up like that and this and instead of their problems getting smaller and much more manageable, all they seem to do is make it even bigger and much more of a problem.’