Tuesday, March 31, 2009

No Chance for Singapore

In recent years, Singapore has been on a mission to make our country the regional hub for almost every industry there is. We had aimed to be the education hub, the medical hub, the convention hub of Southeast Asia. There’s probably a few more I had missed out.

I don’t agree with this policy of trying to be everything at the same time. However, Singapore’s latest try to be the regional hub for Islamic banking takes the cake.

Now I know there’s a market for Islamic banking, insurance and business but there’s just no way Singapore is going to be a hub for Islamic banking in the region. We are surrounded by Malaysia (with a robust Islamic banking industry) up north and Indonesia (with the biggest Muslim population in the world) down south, so why in the world would any Islamic bank want to do business here in Singapore?

Singapore may be desperate for new business and for new growth engines but we should forget about Islamic banking. Singapore is way behind Malaysia already and we have no chance to catch up. If there is any Islamic banks coming to the region, there will go to Malaysia or Indonesia.

Let’s concentrate on other business instead. Islamic banking in a no-go industry for Singapore.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Reasons To Die Young

People who knows me think that I'm a pretty morbid guy. This is mainly due to my stated suggestion that it's better to die young than to grow old. Mind you, this is just a theory I have.

Never did I expect the Singapore government to agree with me on this.

A few months ago when it was reported that a member of the Singapore cabinet suggested that Singaporeans should sent their old parents to old folks home in Malaysia, I thought it was just a slip of the tongue.

I was naive. When announcing that the Ministry of Health (MOH) is relaxing the use of Medisave, Health Minister Khaw Boon Wan said that his next move will be to consider if Medisave should be allowed to pay for stays in nursing homes. With an ageing population, I guess that is understandable. In fact I welcome the move, but the relaxing for the use of Medisave this time is to allow Singaporeans to use Medisave overseas.

You put two and two together and I think very soon you will see a lot of Singaporeans shipping their old folks to Malaysia. One more reason it’s better to die young in Singapore than to grow old.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Ringing Truth

A few days ago I was talking to a foreign friend when he said something that I can't help but find to be very true.

We were talking when the talk went almost inevitably into how bad the economy is. My foreign friend was surprised by how resistant Singaporeans are to lowing prices and cutting rent. In his country when they go into a recession, it is the norm that shops lower the prices and landlords reduced the rent. It’s shocking to him that landlords in Singapore would rather let their shops be empty than lower the rent like the case in Orchard Road.

When I mentioned to him that there are discounts in the shops and some landlords like NParks are giving rebates, his words were, “My point exactly.” In his view, giving discounts and rent rebates is the wrong way to go. Discounts and rebates means that the prices have not changed (has not went down), and discounts and rebates can easily be cancelled which meant that they do not give the same amount of confidence as a lowering of prices will.

When I then mentioned that it’s easier for the business when the economy turn around to just cancel the rebates than to raise prices. My friend then went into a rant about how there is no evidence that the economy will turn anytime soon. In fact the evidence is scant that the economy will turn even in 2010 which will be 9 months away. To my friend, the landlords (and government) in Singapore are just ‘hoping’ for a turn in the economy without any evidence to justified their hope.

So what did my friend said that rang so true to me? “Singaporeans (government, business, people) are so used to success that they seems to have no idea what to do in a severe downturn”

Friday, March 27, 2009

Comics this week

Nova #23- It’s the mark of good writing when you can grab the attention of readers without anything happening for pages. That’s what Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning did this issue as also nothing happened. Only in the last few pages did anything of significance happen to the dying Richard Rider. The last page with Rider as Protector of the Universe was funny in a good way.

Guardians of the Galaxy #12- No Star-Lord, Adam Warlock, Rocket Raccoon this issue, this issue is strictly on Drax and Quasar (Phyla) and their battle with Maelstrom. I may not have liked the previous issue but I shouldn’t have doubted the writers. Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning crafted an interesting issue that is a crossover with Nova and quietly changed the landscape of the series. I’m not too sure about Phyla losing the Quantum Bands and the Quasar title, she was never given much of a chance, but Phyla “The Avatar of Death” Mar-vell. That’ll work!

Thursday, March 26, 2009

The Best Answer to a Bad Question

The law allowing cash payments to organ donors has finally been passed in Singapore. There were some objections from some Singaporeans and some PAP MPs, but there was never a doubt the Human Organ Transplant Act will be passed.

Previously, it was illegal for a living donor to be financially compensated for donating his organs and many people fear that the poor may be exploited by rich and desperately ill Singaporeans. The Act is a reaction to the case of retail tycoon Tang Wee Sung last year. Tang was convicted of trying to pay an Indonesian to buy a kidney for a transplant operation. He was jailed one day (actually just a few hours) and fined $17,000 for the offence.

The reason I put Tang’s name here is because of how low his sentence was. What is $17,000 to a tycoon? Since the sentence is so low and the practice is ongoing, I support the Singapore government’s stand on the Human Organ Transplant Act. The practice is already here and it’s almost impossible to stop. It makes more sense then to have rules to regulate the practice.

Is it fair that the rich can exploit the poor? The answer is no, but then we are living in an unfair world to begin with. Would it be fair that we allow people to die by not allowing them to buy organs?

I think the Act is the best answer to a question that has no good answer.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

World Baseball Classic

On ESPN, I saw the finals of the World Baseball Classic. For people who have no idea what the hell is the World Baseball Classic, it is basically the World Cup of baseball. Don’t ask me why they don’t call it the World Cup, I have no idea.

Let me just say that my baseball knowledge is limited. I can tell you the difference between a homerun and a single, but the difference between a slider and a curveball is beyond me.

However seeing the Korean and Japanese national battling it out in the finals (no U.S., no Cuba), you can clearly see how much they want to win the finals. I heard the commenter say that this is the 4th meeting between the two teams in the tournament (they must do something about that) and if the rest of their matches were as intense as this, the World Baseball Classic might be around a long time. Even for a non-player like me, it was a good spectacle.

In case you are wondering, Japan won the game 5-3 in extra inning (extra time) when their star player Ichiro Suzuki won it for them. The eruption of joy from the Japanese was something else.

That’s how sports should be like.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Free to Play Vs Paid Subscription

In the genre of MMORPG, there is always a debate on whether which business model is better. Here in Asia, it’s mostly the free to play business model in which players play for free and the company get their profits from micro-transactions. The more popular model in the West is the paid subscription model in which players pay a monthly fee for the game.

I have tried both. I had paid monthly fees for Age of Conan and Lord of the Rings Online, and I had played numerous free to play MMORPG like 9Dragons, Maplestory, Silkroad Online, Cable, Ran etc.

If I am to compare the 2 models, without question the games with the paid subscription model are vastly superior in terms of gameplay with more quests available and more things to do (especially if you are one of those players who love crafting). Free to play games are mostly grindfest with only 1 to 5 quests available at a time. However that’s not saying free to play games are poor. People are more willing to give free to play MMORPG a try, and if the game appeals to them players can stay on the game for months. If Acclaim didn’t put up that stupid advertisement banner, I might still be playing 9Dragons right now.

My point is this: Why should there be a debate on which model is better? To me the MMORPG market is a growing market with new games coming out regularly and there’s more than enough room for both business models to co-exist side-by-side. In fact, I think it’s better and healthier for the MMO market to have more than 1 business model.

Rather than arguing about which business model is better, game developers should concentrate more on making a good game. Quality counts and as long as you have a good game, players will give it a try.

Monday, March 23, 2009

This is Rich

Open mouth shock was my reaction when I read on Yahoo news that the U.S. Army has filed a criminal complaint in Iraq against 12 people who they believed was responsible for a May 2007 ambush. 7 U.S. soldiers were killed, 3 of whom were killed after they were captured.

I don’t know if I should laugh or cry at this. Even if we do not consider the fact this is war (an illegal war according to the United Nations to find WMD which did not exist), the U.S. Army filed the criminal complaint on the same day U.S President Barack Obama published three Bush-era memos that detail torture methods used by the U.S on top Al-Qaeda suspects.

So on one hand, the U.S Army is filing a criminal complaint against people who were fighting against an illegal war for killing their prisoners; and on the other hand, you are opening files stating that you are torturing prisoners you captured.

This is so strange and surreal, I have to wonder if this is a movie or in real-life. It like the pot calling the kettle black, snow complaining that ice is cold. Talk about rich.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Singapore Elections This Year

The financial crisis that is gripping the world has caused Singapore to go into recession. With a recession on, it comes as a surprise to many that there is talk about an election this year. A speech by Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew may give a window into the thinking of the Singapore government.

One of the main weapons the ruling PAP government has against this recession has been Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew. Just take a look at how many speeches the man has been giving lately and you can guess that the Singapore government believe that the old man is their best chance to maintain confidence in Singapore.

On Friday, Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew said that the optimistic scenario for Singapore is that we will come out of this crisis in two or three years. The worst case scenario will be four to six years. If this is truly what the PAP believes, then it would make sense on the election talk this year.

Even if you take the optimistic scenario Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew said, the time period will still be beyond the due date of the next general elections. That is the ‘best’ case scenario. If that is the case, it makes sense to have the elections now instead of waiting 1-2 years like they can.

So despite Mas Selamat's escape, losing billions in Citi, terrible GDP numbers, being in the 3rd recession in 10 years; I will be blogging about the Singapore elections this year.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Comics this week

Street Fighter Legends: Chun Li #2- I haven’t seemed it yet, but every review I’ve read says that the Chun Li movie was bad. Unfortunately, it seems to have infected the comics as well. After a solid issue 1, this issue was a disappointment. In the SF lore, the fight between the two was hard-fought with Go dying in the end, but not before finding a weakness and taking Sagat’s eye. The fight between Go and Sagat in this issue was just too one-sided. There just wasn’t any tension in the fight, even when Go finally took the eye it was more due to Sagat’s mistake than anything else. Outside the fight, the story was almost non-moving. We get a few scenes showing the friendship between Po Lin and Chun Li, which no one cares about, and a few scenes on Chun Li’s father. That’s it. Poor follow-up after a solid #1.

Stormwatch #20- Jackson King is the leader of Stormwatch, and that means he is the one who has to make the hard decisions. The hard decision this issue concerns the injured Fuji and what he is willing to risk for the greater good. The issue however is really a set-up issue for Stormwatch’s coming fight against the Night Tribes. The Night Tribes has conquered Europe and the vampires are now eyeing Asia. A beat-down Stormwatch is the only chance the world has to fight them. Kind of make you glad you are not living in the Wildstorm world.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

The Merlion is Back

Two and a half weeks ago, lighting struck the Merlion. Singapore’s most famous (and most fake) tourism icon had to be closed for repairs.

The Merlion is now spouting water again. Not only that, the Singapore Tourism Board (STB) will also be studying lightning protection measures for the Merlion Park to prevent similar incidents from happening.

For any foreign readers of my blog, it was big news in Singapore when lighting struck the Merlion on Feb 28. The half lion/half fish sculpture is almost a symbol of Singapore.

Personally, I always find it stupid looking but a lot of people liked it. So you stupid looking fake icon; Welcome Back!

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Review of Watchmen

I had doubts about an adaptation of Watchmen into a two and half-hour film. Alan Moore’s 1986 graphic novel is THE classic in all of comic-don, it is the holy grail of comics. Turning it into a movie is just worrisome for fans like me.

The plot is the same. Set in an alternate history where costumed crime-fighters really existed, a former superhero called The Comedian was murdered. His former teammate, the masked vigilante Rorschach, investigates the murder and believes there is a plot to kill off retired superheroes. However Rorschach is a borderline psycho and even his former teammates don’t really believe him. All this is set against a backdrop of nuclear Armageddon as the USA and USSR inches ever closer to nuclear war. As Rorschach investigates the murder, he uncovers a mad plot to save the world from itself.

To give director Zack Snyder credit, his film adaptation is faithful to the source material. At times it was a shot-for-shot remake of the comics like Sin City but that in itself is a problem. Watchmen is a comic series that just doesn’t lend itself well to any other medium outside comics. There’s no thought bubbles in the movies; flashback sequences doesn’t work as well in movies as in comic books; these are among the more obvious differences.

However Zack Snyder did try his damm best. While the movie is nowhere near the classic, it is still a highly enjoyable film. The casting was excellent. Jeffrey Dean Morgan did a good job as The Comedian. The Comedian is a monstrous thug who just happens to be on the side of the government, but Morgan managed to captures the character. The Comedian may be a thug but he is also insightful and could see the world as it truly is.

Jackie Earle Haley as Rorschach was another excellent choice. His scenes as Walter Kovacks were brilliant. His scenes in prison were good while his stand against Doctor Manhattan in the end of the film was the best scene in the movie. Rorschach was conflicted as keeping to his own personal code could have plunged the world into nuclear war but he was a man that does not comprise. For the greater good, Doctor Manhattan had to do what he did and Rorschach knew it. Haley nailed the scene beautifully.

Billy Crudup had the unenviable job as Doctor Manhattan. Acting as a godlike being that show little outward emotions, Billy Crudup still managed to capture the character as a being that knows he is slowly losing his humanity but is unsure if that is a good or bad thing. Crudup had to do this under tons of makeup and CGI but still managed to get the job done.

However, I didn’t get some parts of the movie. The most obvious change was the attacks at the end. In the comics, the trick was make the world believe that there was a greater enemy out there in space and that the only chance the world has is if we unite and work together against this common outside threat. In the movie, the alien threat became Doctor Manhattan. This change just does not work.

I can’t understand why Snyder changed it. For decades, Doctor Manhattan was THE nuclear deterrence of the US. He was even used to win the war in Vietnam. If your cities were destroyed by America's ultimate weapon, would it not make sense that America is the one who attacked you? Why would any country in the world believed that America is NOT responsible for the actions of Doctor Manhattan? Hell, if you consider that the US and USSR are at the very brink of war, surely the Soviets will shoot first and ask questions later. I know this is a superhero movie but thinking of it logically, the change just did not make sense.

Another problem was the finale of the movie. When I read and realized Ozymandias’ plot in the comics, my jaw dropped. The sheer scale, ruthlessness and success of Veidt's plot was amazing but I did not get the same feeling in the movie. Maybe it’s because of the change in the plot to Doctor Manhattan, or it could be that I know of the plan already but there just wasn’t the awe-inspiring amazement I felt when I was reading the comics.

So it’s not perfect, but it’s still an enjoyable ride. After so many false starts, as a fan of the comic I was glad that I finally get Watchmen come to life.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Being Politically Correct

The Strait Times newspaper today reported that in Dec 08, the number of graduates who are out of a job is more than twice the number in Dec 07.

Nothing surprising there as the world is in a financial crisis and it is the financial crisis that is blamed for the jobless rate in new graduates. With the financial crisis being the reason why Singapore is in recession now, there’s some truth in that.

However, I feel that the Strait Times is being a little politically correct here as there is another reason why degrees holders in Singapore are suffering more than all the other groups in Singapore.

The reason is that Singapore is still trying to recruit white collar workers (especially white white collar workers) to Singapore. If you are a boss in Singapore and you get to choose between an untrained, no job experience new Singapore graduate, and a highly experienced, recently retrenched old graduate who has worked overseas; who would you pick?

That’s the main reason why the jobless rate of graduates in Singapore is so high.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Who Cares about Losses?

So you are the leader for one of the biggest companies in the world. You screwed up and the company almost collapsed. Your company post a record loss and the government had to step in to save your company.

What do you get at the end of it all? If the company is called American International Group (AIG), you get a multi-million bonus for your ‘good’ work.

That’s what happening in America right now as leaders in AIG are now in line for their year-end bonus (which come to about US$165 million) and there’s nothing the U.S government can do about it. Leaders of the White House economic team, with Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner leading the way, have tried every legal means they have but could only managed to get AIG to reduce the bonuses.

The opposition Republicans is now bellowing about the bonuses, conveniently forgetting that the bailed-out of the insurance giant was done under their leadership, but there’s nothing they can do also.

Although I don’t really mind high salaries for our ministers, but don’t this kind of remind you of Singapore?

Saturday, March 14, 2009

The Mighty Fall

Oh how the mighty have fallen. In a Wall Street Journal survey, they polled 49 economists and a majority of the economists gave U.S President Barack Obama and Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner failing grades for their efforts to revive the world's largest economy.

A majority of the 49 economists polled said they were dissatisfied with the administration's economic policies, as they criticized delays in plans to rescue banks. I find the survey hilarious because according to these same economists, they expect the current economic downturn to end in October.

So they expect the bottom to come but are not willing to give Obama any credit for it.

The reason seems to be because Obama’s plan will probably put a few of these economists out of a job soon. With Geithner's stress test, a few of the banks currently on Wall Street will probably be allowed to fail soon. There’s no sweeping bank bailout, and America are going to nationalize a few of the remaining banks. (I don’t care what they say, Citi is nationalized already).

So for these 49 economists, I hope some of them will have luck finding a new job.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Comics this week

Guardians of the Galaxy #11- The War of Kings has begun and with it taking the attention of Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning, Guardians of the Galaxy is suffering like Nova. Although I never ranked Guardians of the Galaxy as high as the Nova series, the drop of standards is till disappointing. The story this issue is on Drax and Quasar journey…somewhere and their meeting with Maelstrom. They talked about aspects and concepts of life and death which eventually goes nowhere, as expected. I think maybe the next time Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning has one of these cosmic events, they should delegate the writing of their regular series to someone else.

Thursday, March 12, 2009


As more private schools close down in Singapore, the Singapore government is now rushing to implement more stringent rules for Singapore’s private schools.

People who have read my blog before know that I don’t think much of Singapore’s desire to be an education hub in the region. I never believe in some of the pretty outlandish claims by the Singapore government on the benefits of private education (more education is the way to beat inflation anyone?), but the problem is that a lot of Singaporeans do.

A lot of Singaporeans students are now left with no where to turn as the schools closed down and the money they paid to the private school disappeared. So in my opinion, more stringent rules for the private education sector are long overdue. However I have serious doubts about the new Private Education Bill that authorities hope will do the job.

From what I read so far, under the new bill a new EduTrust scheme will take over the current CASETrust scheme in dealing with private schools in Singapore. Under EduTrust, the focus will be on the school’s financial health and academic processes. All good so far but the big problem I see is that EduTrust is ‘supposed’ to take over CASETrust and CASETrust is a total joke. Not only that, what’s worse is that the EduTrust scheme is VOLUNTARY!

Under EduTrust, there is an enforcement act that requires the managers of the private schools to make transitory plans for the students if the private school closed down. How is the Education Ministry supposed to look after private schools and force them to transfer students when the scheme they will be using is voluntary? Does that make sense to anyone?

If the Education Ministry really wants to crack down on errant private schools, they must NOT make it voluntary. It makes no sense.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

To Be The World's No. 1

Reading through the news today, I discovered that according to the latest survey by the Economist Intelligence Unit, Singapore is now the 10th most expensive city in the world.

Moving up five positions from the last survey, Singapore is now Asia’s third most expensive city to live in with only Tokyo and Osaka in front of us. Now before anyone complain about Singapore being expensive, remember that being expensive mean that we are doing well. Forget about the possible -10% GDP this year, Singapore is still great.

Keep this up and Singapore may become the MOST expensive next year. For those who don’t think Singapore can overtake Japan, just remember we are in the midst of a global economic crisis right now. Iceland’s capital Reykjavik was the fifth most expensive city last year but this year, they are in 67th place.

WE CAN DO IT! Next year, we will be 1st in the world! The most expensive city in the world, Singapore!

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Getting on the Same Page

For years, the Singapore government has touted their unity and their reputation as a solid steady ship guiding Singapore in the waters of a big bad world.

However one of the victims of the financial crisis seems to be this unity. Specifically, I am talking about Singapore’s GDP number. In January 2009, the Ministry of Trade & Industry's forecast was at +1% to -2%. Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong then said that the economy could shrink by 8 per cent last week. Then Minister Mentor Lee said that the number could even be -10%.

Now I know that things are moving fast but the Singapore government need to be on the same page here. This is still early March. Surely the estimate number can’t go from +1% to -10% in just…what 60 days?

I find it pretty scary that the Singapore government is looking kind of clueless on this matter and are seemingly not on the same page here. More than just a numbers game, these varying figures are worsening sentiments on the ground.

Projection of a country’s GDP is very important so unless the government figure out a firm number, it’s better for everyone that everyone keeps their mouth shut about it.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Data Mining

Since it’s on again, I went to the Career 2009 & Education 2009 exhibition at Suntec today.

I do this almost every year and I must say that it’s almost the same as usually. Despite the talk in the media that there are over 10,000 jobs on offer, the fair is more of an education fair than a career fair

Nothing unusual as that’s the case most of the time. One new thing I immediately discovered is that this time you have to register before you can enter. My immediate question is why!

Why does a Career & Education exhibition required people to register before they can go in? Not only does it make no sense, I have to question where does the data go to. It can’t be to the exhibitors as most of them are schools and companies who have no need for the data. That leaves the jobs seeking companies, but almost all of them require you to register with their own website anyway so they don’t really need the registration at the door.

Clearly this is data mining. Personally I don’t really mind it that much but I question how and why would the biggest career and education fair in Singapore (and in the region) allow this to happen. I hope it will not happen again next year.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Comics this week

War of Kings #1- The great mini-series Annihilation was followed by Annihilation: Conquest; and now Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning follow it up with War of Kings. I admit this first; as good as Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning has been in their cosmic corner of the Marvel U, I had doubts about this series. Black Bolt suddenly becoming the king of the Kree was ridiculous, and I don’t even want to get into Vulcan (third son of the Summer family, enemy of the Starjammers, mad conqueror of the Shi’ar…just thinking of the character make me laugh). However good writing conquer all as Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning put together a issue that spell out everything that is happening and set the tone for the issues to come. I especially enjoy the interaction between Ronan and Crystal and the complex political marriage between the two. The art from Paul Pelletier was also very good. His pencil was steady with not a single miss panel in the whole issue and his work on the battle and its aftermath was absolutely superb. Good script, great art; there’s nothing not to like here. Pick this up

Secret Six #7 - The first story arc conclude with #7 and its one hell of a ride. Issue #7 is basically a big brutal violent free-for-all where the Six go head to head against everyone on their tail. As much as I have enjoyed the road trip, I felt that this issue was a let-down. All the twisted double cross and back stabbing are still there but the big battle was missing something very important. A willingness to fight! When Mad Hatter and Junior showed up, all our anti-heroes did was running around saying they are going to die. As insane of a battle it was, I don’t see the need for that. The Six of them with a Venom-pumped Bane are good enough to take on Junior (Mad Hatter is a pushover), so why all the gloom? Still, I did enjoy the action and the return of Bane. Bane reliving his past was great and that’s the way I think he work best. Not a great finish but Secret Six first arc was good enough to have me back for #8.

Secret Warriors #2- Last month's debut issue ended with a surprising (and kind of forced) twist, so this issue has to work on the twist. We saw more of the Secret Warriors this issue and that’s a good thing. A simple dinner in a Chinese restaurant ends up being the most enjoyable moment in the issue with Phobos’ powers the centre of it all. For all the title being the Secret Warriors, #2 is more about their enemy Hydra. I never got Baron Strucker as a character. To me he was always a poor imitation of the Red Skull, but seeing him with the rest of the Hydra’s big-wings made sense. The old Nazi got a presence and history that you can understand why the rest fall in line under him. This series is working to be the Secret Warriors against Hydra, so I’ll hold my opinion till they finally met but so far so good.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Strategy & Timing

With the revised Registers of Electors open for inspection, questions abound on whether elections are imminent in Singapore.

The next general elections are only due by early 2012, but most believed that they will be called way before then. With a deep recession on the horizon, chances are that the Singapore government will want to call elections before the pain really come in later this year.

With all the talk on elections, I have a strong suggestion for the opposition parties in Singapore. Forget the by-election strategy.

I never understood why our opposition parties love the by-election strategy. I understand that due to lack of resources, our opposition parties only prefer to fight the ruling PAP at certain seats where they have a chance of winning.

However, the novelty of the strategy has worn off long ago and I always felt that this by-election strategy is self-defeating. Giving a win before the fight is always a bad strategy and this strategy also mean that the PAP do not have to worry about any area which the opposition are not contesting in. So they can just concentrate and bring their resources to bear on contested seats. When comparing resources, PAP will win hands down.

Personally I feel that this is a bad time to hold an election. With a recession on (and growing worse), I think there’s more important things for the Singapore government to worry about than elections. Also there is real anger at the Singapore government on various factors (bad economy, foreigner workers, high cost of living etc), so there’s a good chance the PAP will come in with a loss of seats. That will lessen the mandate of the government which is not something Singaporeans need at the moment. I can understand why the PAP will want to call elections now, but it’s bad timing all around.

Frankly, it’ll be better for Singapore if the elections are held later rather than sooner

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

No Magic Bullet

With the financial crisis endangering their political futures, I can understand why politicians are vowing to fix the problems. The latest is British Prime Minister Gordon Brown (again) who says that there is a chance for a global "new deal" to fix the finance industry within months. Months!

Brown called for a sweeping new global regulatory framework that will overhaul all the global financial institutions and drive a new globalize economy.

Good luck on that.

The thing is that I don’t believe there is any quick fix for the financial crisis. The problems have spread from America to the rest of the world and it is now too far and too wide for any magic bullet to solve. U.S President Barack Obama seems to understand that by painting a grim picture to Americans on the problems facing them, while at the same time trying to sound upbeat that they can beat this.

That’s the way to go. Coming out of this crisis will require a slow, hard grind, not a quick fix because there’s no quick fix. There’s no magic formula to make the problem go away and politicians who say otherwise are giving false hope to the world.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

WoW as Addictive as Cocaine?

A Swedish organization called the Youth Care Foundation report that Blizzard's MMO World of Warcraft (WoW) is dangerous because it is "the cocaine of the computer games world."

In a study on computer game addiction, the Youth Care Foundation has called WoW the most dangerous game in terms of addiction and that "there is not a single case of game addiction that they have worked with in which World of Warcraft has not played a part." In particular, they quote a case in which a Swedish boy was admitted to a hospital after collapsing during a 20-hour World of Warcraft binge last year.

Now I read the Youth Care Foundation deals with forms of addiction but comparing gaming to cocaine is ridiculous. Not to sound uncaring but any idiot who go on a 20 hour binge deserve to be in hospital.

Replace gaming with anything else (exercise, eating, drinking etc) and chances are that the guy will land in hospital. I think this case has less to do with gaming addiction, and more with the boy’s stupidity.

I may not had play World of Warcraft expect for a 10 day free trial, but gaming addiction is something I have doubts about. After all, all the parents need to do is to turn off the switch.

Monday, March 2, 2009

EPL this month

March is upon us and the title race looks over already. It’s only Man Utd now with both Chelsea and Liverpool falling behind. This is how the teams did in Feb 09.

Top Teams this Month
Manchester United – They are on a roll. Beating all comers both home and away, Man Utd set a defensive record this year. They need to screw-up badly to lose the title now. Anyone think Alex Ferguson will allow that to happen? I don’t think so either.

Fulham- Roy Hodgson proves once and for all what a good manger he is. Even the sale of a key player like Jimmy Bullard has not affected their performance all that much. Like Zola at West Ham, Hodgson has managed to get the most out of his players. He even got them to outplay Arsenal away! If they can improve their away form, don’t be surprise if Fulham are in Europe next season.

Wigan- At the start of the season, some people say that Wigan might be in relegation problem. Then Steve Bruce found a gem in Zaki and the season was safe. Selling Emile Heskey was a risk but it was also a good business as his contract is up at the end of the season. They are safe for the season, and that’s all they ask for.

Surprise Team this month
Chelsea- Luiz Felipe Scolari sure didn’t last long. Guus Hiddink is a good manager but he’s not a long-term replacement as he will only be there till the end of the season. What should worry Chelsea fans is the amount of power the players seems to have. Scolari fell foul of it the same way Avram Grant did. Not good for any future manager of Chelsea.

Disappointing Teams this month
Hull City- After 5 games at the start of the season, Hull City was sixth in the league. That sure seems a long time ago huh? After their dream start, Hull City are now in real danger of relegation. Hull has just registered one victory in their last 17 Premier League matches and are just points above the drop. Boss Phil Brown need to turn things around in a hurry.

Arsenal- Arsenal may have got their man in new signing Andrei Arshavin, unfortunately he’s not the kind of player the Gunners need right now. They need a ball-winner, a defensive midfielder. Manager Arsene Wenger refusal to buy that kind of player is going to cost them dear come end of the season.

Middlesbrough- Middlesbrough is in the bottom 3 and in big trouble this season. Manager Gareth Southgate has a serious problem upfront as none of his strikers can buy a goal. The victory against Liverpool was most needed but unless one of the strikers (looking at you Afonso Alves) starts scoring regularly, Boro may be going down this season.