Friday, July 3, 2015

The Never-ending Saga of 1MDB

Debt-ridden 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) have been a millstone around the neck of Malaysian Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak for months, and it is about to get worse.

According to the Wall Street Journal (WSJ) and the Sarawak Report, investigations into 1MDB have allegedly uncovered that US$700 million (RM2.67 billion) has been channeled into the personal accounts of PM Najib. Both WSJ and the Sarawak Report are quoting from documents from the 1MDB probe that is being carried out by the Malaysian government, and the Sarawak Report even claimed that the Attorney-General was aware of the information.

Wow! This is huge. US$700 million is no small figure and what's more is that the report came from the WSJ. WSJ is no sleazy tabloid or some opposition mouthpiece; it is a very respected paper with over a century of history so it's hard to see them going to print with this story without some hard evidence to back it up. Also with this report, 1MDB has just become an international case. 

If the WSJ is going with the story, then it means 1MDB has gotten attention not just in Malaysia and the region, but also throughout the world. PM Najib could ignore the international attention but that still means he has a lot of questions to answer, especially the allegations from WSJ that a transaction of US$61 million was transferred to his account in March 2013, two months before the last Malaysian general election. 

Naturally, Putrajaya has denied the reports, insisting that the PM has not taken any funds for personal use but this case has just gotten bigger and bigger every month. The Malaysians need to nip this case in the bud quickly and if this means getting rid of Najib...well, from the 1MDB saga, that might not be a bad thing for Malaysia. 

Thursday, July 2, 2015

A Monopoly Movie?

Now everyone knows Hollywood has ran out of ideas years ago and are now just rehashing ideas from other medium. TV series (Mission Impossible), cartoons (Ninja Turtles), comics (you name it), books (ditto); all have adaptations to the silver screen. Now you can add one more to that list; Board games!

Yes, you read that right. Hasbro has announced that they will create a movie based on Monopoly, the classic board game. Created over than a century, I think it’s fair to say everyone has either played or heard of Monopoly before, but a movie based on the game? It sounds stupid.

Now I won’t say it’s impossible to do it, or even that it won’t be good (I'm thinking Wall Street with cash thrown around and Jail time for the characters), but there’s just something wrong with the idea of making a movie based on the board game. It just sounds wrong to me.  

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Comics this week

Secret Wars #4- We always knew it was coming but when it did, it still came as a surprise. The team of Doom and Strange was always going to break with time but when it did, it was...kind of sad. These two managed to save the universe but old relations from the old universe caused the tag-team to break and it was something neither one of them wanted. It was just something that's destined to happen. Artist Esad Ribic managed to show the reluctance of Doom as he killed his one real connection to the old universe and it perfectly complement writer Jonathan Hickman's story.

We Stand On Guard #1- Saga writer Brian K. Vaughan has been on a roll lately and We Stand On Guard changes nothing on that score. Teaming up with artist Steve Skroce for an action-packed military thriller that is set 100 years in the future, We Stand On Guard #1 has one of the most intense opening scenes I can remember. A family sitting down watching television got blasted by a missile but before dying, the father made his young son promise to take care of his younger sister. This was a great start and it continued on throughout the issue. Canada has been invaded by their southern neighbour and a heroic band of Canadian civilians must defend their homeland from the United States of America. With detailed combat, giant robots, and a gritty, gripping story, this issue is superb. Looking forward to #2! 

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Change The Name

The “Overlord” games are a bit of a cult hit among gamers. Overlord and Overlord 2 never sold that many copies, but fans of the series love it to death. I am one of them.

So I was delighted when I read that Codemasters was making a new Overlord game. I just seen the trailer of the new game, Overlord: Fellowship of Evil, on Youtube and all I can say is…WTF is this?

Seriously, what was Codemasters thinking? The new game is nothing remotely like Overlord. It's a top-down game, features four heroes co-op gameplay, and looks more like Diablo than anything else. Just look at this screenshot; does it look anything remotely like an Overlord game?

Now I can understand a change in direction, this is after all the first Overlord game in over six years, but if you are going to change everything, then you should not call it Overlord. Called it “Fellowship of Evil” or whatever, just not Overlord. An Overlord game should have a great champion of evil going around destroying all the good in the world alongside his minions. An Overlord game should allow you to have an evil lair. An Overlord game should allow you to gather a harem of sexy wenches. All in great humour of course. That’s an Overlord game.

Overlord: Fellowship of Evil is not any of that. It looks like Diablo. I’m not against that, I played Diablo, but don’t call it Overlord. Give it a new title and say it is a game set in the world of the Overlord; fans will be okay with that. Just don’t put the Overlord name on it.

Monday, June 29, 2015

The Phey Yew Kok Saga

Last week, Phey Yew Kok popped up in the news again after turning himself in at the Singapore Embassy in Bangkok, Thailand. Officers from the Corrupt Practices Investigation Bureau (CPIB) then escorted him back to Singapore. 

I knew some things would come out of the woodwork after the death of Lee Kuan Yew, but I must say I did not think the first would be Phey Yew Kok. The former NTUC president and Member of Parliament (MP) Phey Yew Kok has been out of Singapore since 1980 when he ran after facing charges of Criminal Breach of Trust. Facing four counts of criminal breach of trust involving $83,000 and two charges “under the Trades Unions Act for investing $18,000 of trade union money in a private supermarket without the approval of the minister”, Mr. Phey then mysteriously disappeared.

Many questions still remains about his disappearance. Back then he was a rising star in the PAP and ruled the trade union with an iron-first, so why did he do what he was accused of? If he managed to get out of Singapore, why come back now just a month after Mr. Lee Kuan Yew’s death? Did he made any deal with Mr. Lee Kuan Yew (his passport was never taken away from him) that’s went away with the man’s death? And was there any deal now before his surrender to the embassy in Bangkok?

I must admit, I barely remember Phey Yew Kok before last week. The Singapore government has been very good at making the whole saga disappear from the public domain and if not for the constant questions of deceased former opposition MP, Mr. J B Jeyaretnam, the case might have been forgotten altogether. However that is either here or there. 

The case is still remembered by many Singaporeans and they have many questions about the whole sordid episode. Now that the man has resurfaced, perhaps those questions can now finally be answered. 

Friday, June 26, 2015

The Dark Condos

Last June, the Business Times put together a photo essay of how "empty" some private condos are in Singapore. Certain condos have all their units sold, but comes the night and you will see a lot of the homes without their lights on.

Today, The New Paper has an article about the "possible" reasons why this is the case. The reasons varied from HDB up-graders to foreigners owning several homes in Singapore. I have a better reason for the empty condos; people buy them not to stay but for "investments".

The problem is that the "investments" are not panning out. The buyers don't stay at the condos, but they can't get a decent price for the homes so they hold on to them. Thus the dark condos phenomenon. And it will be that way for quite awhile.

For all the talk about the softening property market, property prices has not really dropped. Now before you starting shouting that I'm saying nonsense, consider this; property prices in Singapore has dropped about 10-15% since it's height (if that), and that's after a rise in property of over 100% in the past 10 years. If you look at the property market in that context, who wouldn't hold on to their property? That's what I'll do. Hold on to them till the market turns. It's the logical thing to do right? If the "softening" of the property market is just 10%, why not hold on to your property? It's not like it's going to crash.

So guess what? Till the market turns, dark condos are here to stay.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Comics this week

Copperhead #8- After the big shootout last issue, the gang is on the run with Deputy Boo as prisoner. Bad idea. Just in this issue, Boo jumped out of a moving vehicle, snapped a guy’s neck with his hands, and even had time to plan doubts in some of the gang members. Even tied up, beaten down, and outnumbered, Boo proves once again why he’s the real deal and Sheriff Clara (even if she don’t know it) got his job because she was a human.

Ninjak #4- The idea of an origin story for Roku is a bit of a surprise but writer Matt Kindt did a good job giving us a supernatural bend to what was beforehand a typical Medusa-like villain. Now I have been raving about Kindt for a while now due to his excellent work on various series like Rai but without question, the stars of this issue are artist Butch Guice and Marguerite Sauvage. This issue is just beautiful. Roku’s journey in the mystic realm, facing off against a variety of Onis was intriguing to say the least. Even the backup story in this issue, not always my favorite part of the series, was excellent. It makes me wonder if Kindt intend Kannon and Roku to be more than just a foil for one story arc.