Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Better to Die than to Fall Sick

One of the blog I read constantly is "Diary of A Singaporean Mind". The writer goes under the identity of Lucky and I find him to be one of the better writers in the Singapore blogshere.

His latest article is on rising healthcare cost in Singapore. In Singapore there is a saying that it’s better to die than to fall sick and the recent H1N1 crisis show this to be true. A man who went for H1N1 testing had to fork out $214 for a test that turned out to be negative. You read that right; a $214 bill for just one test. However that man can consider himself to be lucky, another man had to pay $1000 for a 9-day stay in hospital due to H1N1. When asked about the matter, the Singapore Ministry of Health (MOH) said that they had already subsidized the bill up to 80% and that the bill should be $5000!

A $5000 bill for a 9 day hospital stay! That comes to $555 per day! Any wonder why people say it's better to die than fall sick in Singapore?

The Singapore government may argue that Singaporeans have MediSave and MediShield, but most Singaporeans (including me) consider them part of the CPF money which we will never see. What the Singapore government should do is look at the ridiculous prices hospitals are charging; a $5000 bill for 9 days in the hospital and $214 for a test, I would love to know how the hospitals came out with these numbers.

Monday, June 29, 2009

What Good Is It?

Last week, I said that I do not believe schools should postpone their reopening due to the H1N1 virus.

My reasons were simple; Singapore don’t stop people from visiting infected countries, doesn’t stop people from infected countries from visiting Singapore, and H1N1 is already spreading here in Singapore; so what use to delay the opening of the school term?

However as sensible as my arguments were, kaisu Singaporeans will always have the final say. Westwood Secondary and Presbyterian High School will both postpone their school reopening by a week, after a teacher in each school had tested positive for the H1N1 virus. The Ministry of Education (MOE) ordered staff and students a 7 day Leave of Absence and monitors their health to prevent the spread of disease to other students.

I repeat the reason for the delay of school re-opening, “to prevent the spread of disease to other students”. However just yesterday, Singapore confirmed another 145 new cases of H1N1 which bring the total infected persons in Singapore to 599. So how is delaying the opening of the school term going “to prevent the spread of disease”?

H1N1 is already on our island, it’s a little late to worry about the spread of the disease now. So what good is delaying the reopening of the school term? It's like reinforcing the door after the horses had already bolted. Way too late!

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Quiet Please

The elite tennis players in the world are currently at Wimbledon, hoping to win the third and most prestigious Grand Slam of the year. With all the stories at Wimbledon, one story struck out like a sore thumb.

Not the story of the home hero Andy Murray, who is a genuine contender at Wimbledon; not the story of Roger Federer who is seeking to create history by winning his 15th Grand Slam title; not even the stupid story about the brand new retractable roof at Centre Court which haven’t seen any action so far; the story that I find ridiculous is the story about the grunters in tennis.

Portugal’s Michele Larcher de Brito has a grunt that has been measured at 100-decibel and a long line of players and ex-players believe something has to be done about this. I mean it’s saying something when even Maria Sharapova’s shriek pale in comparison to yours. Personally I don’t see what’s so difficult in banning the practice. I mean there’s no reason to grunt, Roger Federer won 14th Grand Slam titles without a sound, ditto for Steffi Graf and Martina Navratilova, 2 of the most successful women players in history. So grunting doesn’t help your play.

Another thing is the fact that tennis require fans to keep quiet during points. If you can ask that of your fans, why not players? I mean it make little sense to ask fans to keep silent when the players are screaming like banshees on court. If umpires can say “Quiet please” to fans, why can’t they say the same to players?

Personally I don’t find the grunting a problem but I’m not the one playing. So if there are players who are unhappy with the grunters, then ban the practice. If not, then allow fans to make noise during points, even during serve; that’s fair for all.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Comics this week

Dark Reign: The Hood #1- Parker Robbins is one busy man. Survive an attack from a superhero, put up a brave front for his underlings, attend a meeting of the Cabal, bring his wife and kid to see his mother, and oh…find a way to stop a demon from taking over his body. It’s tough being the Kingpin of Super-villains. Another interesting thing to note is that with Damien Hellstorm in New Avengers and now his sister in The Hood, the first family of hell seems to be back. The appearance of Santana makes sense as Robbins is looking for help to regain control of the Hood, and who better to help than the child of Satan. Guess that’s one more ball for Robbins to juggle.

Nova #26- Richard Rider is back as the Nova Prime and first order of business is to grab his centurions out of the line of fire. As Rider is racing to save the Nova Corps, he sees the toll the war has inflicted on the Corps. I like the fact Rider is back in a leadership role and the possible alliance at the end of the issue, however I want the old Worldmind back. This new version is just too bitchy for me. I see the basis of the Nova Corps here and that’s great but the art needs work. At times in the issue, the art look distinctly second-rate and a series like Nova deserve better.

Guardians of the Galaxy #15- After the ending of the last issue, this issue is a let-down. Just when we were looking for a big throwdown, what we get is a series of skirmishes. However I’m glad we finally get to see how powerful the team truly is. Drax is the one who killed Thanos; Adam Warlock and Gamora used to be part of the Infinity Watch; Martyr is the avatar of Death; Mantis is a would-be minor god; the team is a powerhouse and it’s good to finally see that again.

Secret Warriors #5- #5 has the same problem the previous issues of Secret Warriors had; the Secret Warriors doesn’t show up often enough! The Secret Warriors doesn’t show up till the last page and if this continues, Marvel should change the title to “Nick Fury and his various secret super-groups”.

Avengers: The Initiative #25- I know there is a new creative team coming on board. I know Dark Reign is a company-wide storyline for Marvel. I know A:TI is on the backburner at Marvel as Marvel is more interested in the New, Mighty, Dark, Coconut Avengers series; but those are still no excuse for the mess that is #25. Characters came out of nowhere and regulars seem to have undergone a personality change. Penance and Hood looks like new regulars while Gauntlet and Tigra suddenly join the New Warriors in a couple of pages. Everything was very rushed and no explanation was given for some of the changes. I mean really, did Norman Osborn truly think Gauntlet was just going to let him cut off his arm? And how did Gauntlet managed to knock Ares out of a window, take down Osborn and the Hood solo? Thank god this is the conclusion of Avengers: The Initiative Disassembled storyline!

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Nonsense Requirements

When I heard that Ghostbusters will have a new video game, I thought “good”. However I just saw the game for PC yesterday and I am just amazed how this game was ever published.

I haven’t play the game yet and I might never play the game, however I know for a fact that there will be a lot of people who can’t play the game. Just listen to this for the system requirements: Dual core processor, 2 GB RAM, 512 MB Shader 3.0 capable video card, 9 GB free hard drive space. Minimum graphic card for Nvidia is the Ge8400. That’s right; dual core with Ge8400 as the minimum requirements!

What kind of game is this? I know third-person shooter has a reputation of needing good systems to play but it is nonsense. I’m willing to say that 60-70% of the PC in the world will not be able to run this game. I hope developers know that there is a world recession on at the moment and no one is going to upgrade just to play a video game. Ge8400 as the minimum? Tell me that's not nonsense!

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Beautiful Distraction

Sometimes you just have to admire politicians.

French President Nicolas Sarkozy stirred up a minor nest when he recently said that body- and face-covering Islamic garments such as the burqa turn women into prisoners and that the burqa would not be welcome in the country.

This is despite the fact that almost no one in France wears the burqa. President Sarkozy seems to be referring to the niqab which is more common in France. A burqa is a garment that covers the body fully with only a mesh screen over the eyes. A niqab is a full-body veil that has slits for the eyes. In France, the terms "burqa" and "niqab" often are used interchangeably.

Personally I’m not sure if a guy who can’t even tell the difference between the burqa and the niqab is in any position to talk about banning stuff but I think the real reason Sarkozy said what he did was the fact that he needed to distract the French people. Although France wasn’t as hard hit by the financial crisis sweeping the world, unemployment has hit a 2 year high in France. Also Sarkozy made his comments in his first “Presidential Address” to the French parliament. This is a break from tradition as the French President never addresses the French parliament personally. In protest against this break of tradition, a good number of the French parliament refused to attend the address.

However no one is talking about the missing members of parliament as everyone is talking about Sarkozy’s "divisive politics". As a distraction, it worked beautifully.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

No Delay Needed

As cases of the H1N1 virus continue to rise in Singapore, there are some calls in Singapore to delay the opening of the school term.

I believe some other countries have already done this and some Singaporeans believe Singapore should follow suit. I disagree with this call. Although I agree that the H1N1 virus is serious but calls to delay the school term will not help the matter at all. The H1N1 seems to be here for the long term and even if we delay the start of the school term for a week or two, the virus will still be here. There is no cure for the virus.

Also it is the school break now and there are 17 more local cases confirmed on Monday. The H1N1 virus is here in Singapore and it is spreading; schoolchildren are already in danger of being infected. Delaying the opening of the school term will not help that.

Monday, June 22, 2009

No Winners in Iran

As Iranian government forces arrest more protesters leaders, Iran's internal crisis looks to be winding down. However I have to wonder how incumbent President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad can govern the country after the bitterly disputed election. This despite clearly winning it!

Despite fraud and vote-rigging, most Western intelligence agencies (who are no friends of the Iranian president) believe that even without the fraud, his rural supporters would have gave Ahmadinejad a comfortable victory. This is probably why U.S President Barack Obama had been so careful in his response to Iran's internal crisis. Despite pressure from critics to speak up against Iran's leaders, Obama has been very measured in his statements so far and the reason is probably twofold.

1) The question seems more to be on the margin of victory than whether Ahmadinejad had actually won the election
2) Obama does not want to fall into the same trap Bush did with Hamas

When Hamas won the Palestinian election a few years ago, Bush along with the rest of the world rejected the results despite the fact that Hamas won the election fair and square. The rejection of the result hurt the U.S as it seems that the U.S will only accept a result (and a winner) they are happy with. This made the U.S look like a hypocrite and Obama clearly want to avoid that again.

However Ahmadinejad is not a victor either as his tainted victory has caused him more harm than good. In the end, Iran's internal crisis looks to have no winners.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Comics this week

Batman: Streets of Gotham #1- Since Bruce Wayne’s non-death in Batman RIP and Final Crisis, I had been less than impress with the Batman books. I accept Dick Grayson as Bruce’s logical replacement (till his return anyway) but was there really a need for the ‘Battle of the Cowl’ series outside money in the bank for DC? I don’t think so. Anyway with Dick and Damien now playing the Dynamic Duo, I was interested in how the Bat books will be. Streets of Gotham seem to be a point-of-view series as seem from the streets, so I thought I give it a try. The Manhunter back-story is a little unnecessary but it was interesting and suits the gritty feel of the main story. Streets of Gotham isn’t bad but it isn’t great either. Paul Dini will be need to do better to get me to pick up this series.

War of Kings: Ascension #3- After 2 issues, Ascension finally had something to do with the War of Kings. As anymore who read War of Kings #4 knows, Darkhawk will influence the war in a big way. That is the problem. I’ve read War of Kings #4 so I knew what was coming. This issue seems design for a big reveal at the end, unfortunately those of you who had read War of Kings #4 can skip this issue. I knew the end and I was also less than impress with how Chris got the armor back. Anger is the key of how he got the Darkhawk armor back? Is that really the best you can come up with?

Friday, June 19, 2009

The Mekong Dolphins

For all the talk about saving the environment and climate change, humans are still destroying the environment at an incredible rate. The latest example is the near extinction of the Irrawaddy dolphins in the Mekong River.

The Mekong is the most important river in Southeast Asia and flow through Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand, Vietnam and even parts of China. However the Mekong has become increasing polluted in recent years as Cambodia, Laos, and Vietnam have become increasing developed in recent years. Unfortunately as is the case the world over, the more develop a country is, the more polluted the country is.

Even after been listed as critically endangered since 2004, toxic levels of pesticides, mercury and other pollutants in the Mekong had drastically cut the number of Irrawaddy dolphins that remain in the Mekong and it seems that its just a matter of time before the Irrawaddy join the pink dolphins of China on the extinct list of animals in the world.

So long Irrawaddy dolphins of the Mekong, you will be missed when you are gone.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

The Singapore Identity?

A few days ago, I commented on “Dairy of a Singaporean Mind” although many rich foreigners may have come here to Singapore invest, buy a house and get Singapore PR, they do not stay long.

I was responding to an anonymous post that said,
“So many foreign rich come here to invest, stay or become citizen. These include even film stars and kongfu actors. Also on the other end the poorer foreigners are also welcome for being cheaper labour. So the Gini index will of course widen further.But the country will continue to be stable. This is very important and hence even more rich and poor”

I disagree with the comment and responded by saying that Singapore have seen some of our foreign PR soccer players who have went back to their homeland once their playing career are over. Also some foreigners may have gotten Singaporean PR but they got it, they spent more time outside Singapore than in Singapore.

So when I read on the internet that Chinese action star Jet Li has taken up Singapore citizenship and bought a property in Singapore worth nearly $20 million, I feel I have to put my 2 cents in on this. Jet Li seem to be following in the footsteps of Gong Li, who became a Singapore citizen last year. These foreign PR are the main reason why the Singapore property market hasn’t really suffered even though Singapore is in the midst of a recession. However is it really all good for Singapore to have all these PR who get citizenship and then leave the country immediately?

Li has taken up Singapore citizenship and bought a property in Singapore, but how much time will he be spending in Singapore? Will he (like many others) get the IC and then spend more time in China and Hong Kong than in Singapore? I don’t know about you but I am very uncomfortable about Singapore selling our citizenship like this. Spend money, buy property, invest in Singapore, and you can get Singapore citizenship. How about some rules on the amount of time they have to spend in Singapore?

I know of a Malaysian friend who had to wait years to get his Singapore PR, this is even though he was living in Singapore since his secondary school days. I disagree with how long he had to wait to get his Singapore PR, but I’m even more against foreigners who get their PR just because they have enough money to buy a property in Singapore.

I remember a few years ago the Singapore government was talking about forging a Singapore identity; maybe they should look into that again because it’s hard to forge a Singapore identity when Singapore citizens buy a property in Singapore and then disappear to another country for months on end.

What Singapore identity can be forge from that?

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Still Questions about the Global Recovery

After a recent rally on the global stock markets, we have seen 3 straight days of losses in Asia. Doubts about the global economic recovery caused stocks around the world to go lower.

The main reason for the downward trend is the fact that several U.S. economic indicators had came in below expectations. There are now fears that the markets may have been pushed up too far, too quickly. These fears are well-founded. To me, there is no reason for the upward momentum we have been seeing for the past few weeks. Evidence of an economic recovery is still sparse and what worse for Singapore is the fact that recovery in the U.S seems to be much slower than in other parts of the world. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner flatly refused to consider cutting back the U.S stimulus as he says that it’s too early in the recovery to do so.

He is right, especially when it come to the U.S economy. Economic data out of the U.S are mixed at best and the U.S dollar's role as the primary reserve currency in the world as come under increasing pressure as U.S debt keep on increasing. If Russia and China decide to abandon the dollar; look out!

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

DRM Relapse

Remember when Grand Theft Auto IV (GTA IV) first came out for PC, I blog that I will not be buying it because it has DRM. I really should have followed my own advice because during the weekend, I saw GTA IV at the PC Show and bought it because it has a very good discount.

Man, do I regret it now!

GTA IV comes with an ‘Online Activation’ which you have to go online to activate it. Only problem for me is that I can’t activate it online. I tried but it keep telling me that online activation is overdue. I went to Rockstar Games website and saw that there is a manual activation. It says that during installation, there will be a box that pop-up if you are not online that you can request for an ‘Unlock-code.

It says ‘during installation’ so that means I have to uninstall it first! Ok fine, a little troublesome but I gave it a shot. I uninstall it, off my internet, reinstall the game and there was no pop-up box. I can’t even enter the Rockstar Games Social Club to launch the game and everytime I tried to do a manual activation, it tell me it’s overdue.

I send an enquiry to Rocjstar, it’s over 24 hours and there’s still no reply. Anyone out there know how in the world do I get the game to start?

Monday, June 15, 2009

Uh…so what’s so major about this?

In what was touted as a major policy speech about his Mideast peacemaking intentions, Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu called for creation of a limited Palestinian state for the first time. Good, fine and well, but the devils is in the details. Prime Minister Netanyahu say that he will only accept the state if it was disarmed.

So what Prime Minister Netanyahu wants is a demilitarized Palestinian state alongside Israel which the Palestinians will have to recognize as a state of the Jewish people, of course. In return he will then accept the Palestinian state. Now I know Netanyahu has been under intense pressure from U.S President Barack Obama, but that’s no excuse for him to be stupid. How in the world does he even dream of striking a deal with the Palestinians with terms like that? Does he truly believe that the Palestinians will accept being beside a country with over 200 nuclear warheads without even having an army of their own? That’s not even counting the Palestinian refugee problem which he also said must be "outside Israel."

Prime Minister Netanyahu has been called a lot of things but stupid isn’t one of them. It seems that this is a clear smokescreen to lift some pressure from their side, which I can understand, but this is NOT a major policy speech. It’s just a major smokescreen.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

What a Joke!

After a transfer saga that lasted over a year, Cristiano Ronaldo has finally said goodbye to Manchester United and hello to Real Madrid. A lot of ink had been used to dissect his 80 million pounds move and while I’m not actually against the move, the funniest thing I read so far is how Real Madrid’s new president Florentino Perez had tried to convince the world that Madrid would make money out of the deal.

What a joke! Even if we do not add in the money they spend on Kaka and David Villa, Ronaldo’s deal is worth 9.5 million pounds in his first year with a 25% increase for every year. That’s 183,000 pound a week! That’s not even adding Kaka’s salary that is 9 million a year.

Forget the transfer fees, just the salary of these two will bankrupt most clubs. And although the Spanish giant will certainly not be bankrupt by the moves, thinking (even lying) about making money is hilarious. What a joke.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Swine Flu Epidemic

For the first time in 41 years, there is a global flu epidemic. The swine flu has now been formally declared a pandemic by the World Health Organization (WHO).

It is hoped that a formal declaration will speed up vaccine production and spur governments to spend more to combat the swine flu. Although swine flu has caused only 144 deaths so far, it has reached 74 countries and infected nearly 29,000 people. By calling it an epidemic, the WHO is basically saying that swine flu is unstoppable.

The declaration has long been expected and it’s not expected to make much difference. However the swine flu is still going strong in many places in the world. In Argentina this week, thousands have flooded hospitals due to fears of the swine flu. China even quarantined the mayor of New Orleans on the slight suspicion of having contact with an infected person.

With such fears in the world, it fitting to call swine flu a global epidemic

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Review of Terminator Salvation

The yearly blockbuster season is on us and one of the first out of the gates is Terminator Salvation. After the classic Terminator, Terminator: Judgment Day, and Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines, Terminator Salvation is the first movie that truly shows the war between Skynet and the remains of the human race.

The movie starts in 2003 where Dr. Serena Kogan (played by Helena Bonham Carter) convinces inmate Marcus Wright (played by Sam Worthington) to sign his body over for medical research following his execution. After his execution, the action then jumped to 2018 where John Conner (Christian Bale) leads an attack by the Resistance on Skynet.

A nuclear explosion destroyed the base and John is the only apparent survivor. After John left, a now alive Marcus emerges from the wreckage of the base. Connor arrived at Resistance headquarters and is informed by General Ashdown (Michael Ironside) that the Resistance has discovered a secret radio frequency capable of shutting down Skynet machines. Conner volunteered to field-test the radio frequency.

Marcus arrived in Los Angeles and is saved by Kyle Reese (Anton Yelchin) after attracting the attention of a T-600 Terminator. He learns of Judgment Day and the ensuing war between humans and machines. Leaving the ruins of Los Angeles, they reached a run-down gas station where they met up with some human survivors. Skynet attacked and Kyle was taken prisoner with some other humans. A pair of Resistance fighter planes was sent in to help by Conner but both were shot down. Marcus locates one of the downed pilot Blair Williams (played by the beautiful Moon Bloodgood) and Marcus is wounded by a magnetic land mine as they were making their way to Conner's base. The Resistance discovers that Marcus is a new type of cyborg with human organs.

Marcus believes himself to be human, and informed Conner that Skynet has Kyle Reese. As Conner decides on what to do, Blair helps Marcus escape from the base. Marcus and Conner came to a deal where Marcus will enter Skynet and help John rescue Kyle. The plan works at first, until Marcus discovers that his deal with Conner was all a trick by Skynet to kill Conner. The secret radio frequency is also fake; another ruse to kill off the Resistance. The nuclear sub that housed the Resistance HQ is destroyed by Skynet along with all the top leaders.

Marcus helps Conner in fighting a T-800 and the mission turn out successfully with the human prisoners rescued and the Skynet base destroyed. However Conner is wounded in the fight and requires a heart transplant. Marcus offers his heart for Conner, and the surgery was successful. At the end, Conner is on the radio telling the other Resistance fighters that the war is far from over.

First I will go off on the good points of the movie. Terminator Salvation is without question the most action-pack movie in the Terminator franchise. In the past movies, we see one or two Terminators in each movie, but in Salvation there are more Terminators than all the other movies combined. You have Terminators in the air, on the ground, and in the water. More Terminators equal more action and there’s plenty of that in this movie.

Not only is there more action in Salvation, there is also more eye-candy. Bryce Dallas Howard as Kate Connor must be one of the most beautiful pregnant woman to have ever grace the silver screen and Moon Bloodgood look like she just walked off a catwalk somewhere. I’m not sure if women should still look so good in a post-apocalyptic world but I’m not complaining.

I’ve read somewhere that they had to change the script when Christian Bale picked John Conner as his role instead of Marcus Wright. I don’t know how the script was originally but there are some serious loopholes in the movie. Conner secretly entered the Skynet base, so what transport was he talking about to the prisoners? “Run to the transport, Get to the transport” What transport? You are there in secret and the base belongs to Skynet! Also how did Conner escape from the nuclear blast at the start of the movie? Even if he wasn’t caught in the blast, there’s still something call “nuclear radiation” that you can’t ignore.

I always though Christian Bale is a good, if slightly over-rated, actor but I have to question why he pick John Conner over Marcus Wright because to me Marcus Wright is by far the better role. Marcus was the heart of the movie but at times he was almost ignored by director McG. Maybe if the movie had better direction by McG, Terminator Salvation would have been a better movie. The original Terminator was a classic and Judgment Day was an “almost classic” movie; Salvation is about as far away as those two movies as you can get. Salvation is basically a war movie and I have to wonder about that.

Salvation isn’t a bad movie but it will not be a classic either. In terms of ranking, I will probably put it above “Rise of the Machines” but behind Terminator and Judgment Day. I heard it’s the first of a trilogy, so maybe it’ll get better but the later movies will need to be better than Salvation. If not, the Terminator franchise may die a sad death.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Golden Wig?

Taiwan is famous/ infamous in Asia for its no-holds barred, winner-take-all political scene. Go to Youtube and I’m sure you can see some of the fights that had taken place in the Taiwan parliament. However the case I read yesterday took the cake.

A man was sentenced to 5 months jail for snatching the toupee off the head of ruling Nationalist Party lawmaker Chiu Yi. When Chiu went to file a complaint against former president Chen Shui-bian in December last year, he was met by a group of people who were in support of Chen. Huang Yung-tien, 50, who was the leader of the said-group, snatched the toupee off Chiu revealing to the whole Taiwan his bald head.

That in itself is funny, but what’s hilarious is the 5 months jail term. A 5 months jail term who tearing off a wig? Some people don’t get that much time for stealing money! What kind of wig is it? Maybe it’s made of gold

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

China as Saviors?

With Americans cutting back on spending, leaders in Asia are looking nervously at where they can sell their goods to. The Asian Tigers are all export-oriented economies and without the U.S buying their goods, it will take far longer for them to come out of the current economic crisis than the rest of the world. It tell you a lot when the best looking economy in South-East Asia right now is Indonesia, which does not have a export reliant economy.

So leaders in Asia are looking at China as the engine of growth for the world economy. The thinking is that with China’s population and growing affluent, the Chinese people will replace the Americans as the new buyers of their goods. Sorry, but I feel that is just pure fantasy.

There are several reasons for my thinking. First and foremost, the Chinese people are savers, not spenders. Although there are stories of young Chinese nationals who spend like crazy in the coastal cities, these young Chinese are vastly outnumbered by the poor people of China. Also there is no welfare system in China, so most Chinese people depend on their savings for their old age. Since Chinese leaders do not believe in the welfare system, much like Singapore, the Chinese people are not going to turn into big spenders anytime soon.

Another reason not to count on the Chinese people as the engine of growth is because their economy is also export-oriented! I’m willing to bet that the Chinese leaders, like the leaders of the Asian Tigers, are also on the lookout for a new export market. China is looking to export their way out of the crisis, not looking to import their way to help the global economy.

With most leaders in Asia unwilling to change the way their economy is being run, there is a desperate need for a new market to sell to. However counting on China as this new market is fantasy; like most Asian economy, they are too busy looking to export their way out of the crisis as well. They will not be the saviors of the global economy.

Monday, June 8, 2009

What Numbers Are These?

Last month I was left scratching my head when the Strait Times reported that states that in the past 2 years the average Singaporean’s monthly earnings grew by 5.8%. I commented that my salary did not grow by 5.8% and I do not know anyone who did.

So it’s with shock and laughter when I read that according to the latest government report, low—wage workers have seen wages rise by 9 per cent. I was surprised by the 5.8% figure, but 9% increase in the last 2 years? Where in the world did the Singapore government get these figures? A 9% wage increase in the past 2 years and what’s worse is that they also reported that the income gap for the first such decline in a decade narrowed in 2008.

That I can at least understand because a 9% increase is more than a 5.8% increase. Now if only I can understand how they got these figures.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Comics this week

War of Kings #4- The Fraternity of Raptors finally makes their debut in the War of Kings. Placing themselves firmly on the Shi'ar side of the war, we finally get to know what “The Great Purpose” is. Hopefully we can see more of them and the Fraternity can stay longer than the Guardians of the Galaxy. After their debut last issue, the Guardians disappeared this issue. I have to wonder why Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning put Guardians of the Galaxy in the war if they are going to last all of half an issue only. However the main development this issue is the questioning both Black Bolt and Vulcan faced by their subjects. Ronan and Crystal questioned how Black Bolt is conducting of the war while the simmering tension in the Shi’ar break open as Lilandra, with help from the Starjammers and Gladiator, tried to lead an open revolt against Vulcan. Unfortunately for them, a good section of the Shi’ar much rather prefer Vulcan to the woman who lost to Vulcan and got them into this position in the first place. At the end of the issue, Vulcan’s position actually got stronger as the revolt suffered a major loss and he gained an ally in the Fraternity. Bad news for the Kree.

Irredeemable #3- What happen when your enemy turned from a good guy to a bad guy? That’s the main question faced by Plutonian’s enemies as they gather to wonder how they could protect themselves from a Superman who now has no problem killing them if he want to. Mark Waid probe a little deeper into Plutonian and even gave him a dark sense of humor. However he left enough behind to continue the mystery and leave you wondering if Plutonian has turned bad or has he turned mad? Interesting plot and good writing, if you like these then this is the series for you.

Secret Six #10 – R&R time for the Six is over and they are back on the job. Finally we get see the Six as the no-good sick and twisted super-villains they truly are! Working for slavers, gunning down a defenseless woman running from them; this is the way super-villains should be. I also like the blooming relationship between Scandal and Bane which is weird but sweet at the same time. Gail Simone; keep this coming!

Thursday, June 4, 2009


Singapore’s tripartite National Wages Council (NWC) has, as expected, urged employers and workers to press on with concerted actions to cut costs, save jobs and enhance competitiveness. NWC said that Singapore need to be prepared for a prolonged downturn as the deep global recession is still ongoing, and there is uncertainty in the economic outlook. There could also be negative impact if the Influenza A(H1N1) flu turn into a pandemic.

All correct and understandable but I can’t help but yawn when I read this. The NWC set wage guidelines every year but most employers only look at the NWC when it is convenient for them to do so. When the NWC advice pay cut, employers will look at it as gospel. When the NWC advice a pay increase, it is a “guideline”.

As for the NWC latest call to save jobs…yawn, call me when you something new to say.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

The NBA Finals Preview

So I was wrong. Even in the weak Eastern Conference, LeBron James wasn’t enough to get the Cleveland Cavaliers back to the NBA Finals. Dwight Howard powered the Orlando Magic to a surprising NBA Finals where they will meet the Los Angles Lakers, but personally I have to wonder if the Magic deserves to be in the Finals. If Kevin Garnett had been healthy for the Boston Celtics, would the Magic have won that Game 7? However the fact is that it will be a Magic-Lakers NBA Finals and this is how I view the match-up.

Centre- It will be Dwight Howard against Andrew Bynum. Not really much of a contest in my view as Howard is a constant double-double player, at times a constant 20-20 player, while Bynum is just a promising player with great potential. I expect all of the Lakers big men to have to use their fouls on Howard and put him on the foul line. Thus far the only way to stop Howard is to get him into foul trouble, so the Lakers may have to attack him but I will say the Magic will win this match-up.

Forwards- The Lakers have Pau Gasol while the Magic have Hedo Turkoglu and Rashard Lewis (if he can get healthy). This is contest of styles as the Lakers will want Pau Gasol to go inside while Turkoglu will drain the 3 on the perimeter for the Magic. Both are really important for their teams but I will give the slight edge to the Lakers here.

Guards- For the Magic, Jameer Nelson is struggling to be fit for the Finals and Rafer Alston can be unpredictable at times. Add to the fact that the Lakers have Kobe Bryant on the team and you would think the Lakers will win the match-up of the guards, but I feel Derek Fisher will be a problem for the Lakers. Fisher seems to have lost a step this year and he is having trouble matching up with quicker guards. However the Lakers do have Kobe so I have to pick Lakers here.

Bench- Both benches don’t really do much for their teams outside giving rest time to their starting 5. However the Lakers have Lamar Odom on the bench while the Magic have…Courtney Lee? That swing it to the Lakers.

Coach- Phil Jackson been here before and is looking for his 10th NBA title but Stan Van Gundy did better than anyone thought possible by bringing the Magic to the NBA Finals. Jackson is known as the Zen Master while Van Gundy is all fire and brimstone. However Jackson got the-been-there-done that advantage so…Lakers!

Intangibles- The Magic has nothing to lose. After needing 7 games to beat the Kevin Garnett-less Boston Celtics, everyone was picking Cleveland to come though in the East. No one thought the magic had a chance, but they prove everyone wrong. All the pressure is on the Lakers so the advantage here belongs to the Magic.

Everyone is picking the Lakers to win the title and I’m no exception. Even U.S President Barack Obama, a keen basketball player, is picking the Lakers. It would be one of the greatest upsets in NBA history if the Lakers fail to win. I will say the Lakers in 5.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Positive on the Changes

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong recently announced proposed changes to the country’s electoral system. The changes included is to increase the number of Opposition MPs in Parliament to nine for every term; increase the number of Single-Member Constituencies (SMCs); reduce the number of six-member Group Representative Constituencies (GRCs) by increasing the number of five-member GRCs; and to have more Nominated MPs in Parliament.

The official line for the changes is to encourage a wider range of views in Parliament, and most observers have welcomed these steps. That’s not the view on the Singapore blogshere. Instead of applauding steps towards a more open political sphere, most bloggers believe that these steps are just insurance for the People’s Action Party (PAP) to keep themselves in power.

The reason for this belief is that the next General Elections need to be held in 2011 and with the less than stellar performance of the government for the past few years, the PAP is expected to lose seats in the next elections. Are the bloggers right?

Yes they are but they are overstating the problem. Simply put, the PAP is in no danger of losing power anytime soon. Of course there is some strategic agenda behind the proposed changes to the electoral system, but I think the PAP to hardly the only political party in the world to changes the rules to suit their own political future. Ultimately that’s what the PAP is. They are a normal political party that is currently in power in Singapore. Does anyone truly expect them to usher in rules that will be disadvantageous to themselves?

Even if there are some naive people who believe that, it’s not like there is any opposition party in Singapore who can take advantage of the situation. All the opposition parties in Singapore are too weak to mount any credible opposition to the PAP and for the past few elections, they never even bother to contest the elections. The opposition had been under the self-defeating ‘by-election’ strategy for the past few elections and chances are that they will be on that same strategy for this coming one. Mind you, even with this picking and choosing of election seats, the PAP still stomp the opposition with over 66% of the votes in the last elections.

So my view on the proposed changes is positive. As for criticism that the changes is just insurance for the PAP; there is some truth to that but let’s be honest, the PAP won’t be needing that insurance anytime soon.

Monday, June 1, 2009

EPL this season

It’s finally over. The EPL season is over and Man Utd surprised no one by winning the title. Newcastle going down was a surprise but the relegation of Middlesbrough and West Brom were not. Overall the season was a little bit of a disappointment as the gap between the Big 4 and the rest of the league got bigger again. Here’s my view on the best performers this season.

Best Manager this season- Roy Hodgson
Roy Hodgson from Fulham has done a wonderful job this season. Last season Fulham was flirting with relegation, this season they were flirting with Europe. Hodgson did all this without spending a lot of money and without a star player on the team. I’m not saying David Moyes from Everton do not deserve the Manager of the Year award, but in my view Roy Hodgson did an even better job this season.

Best Player this season- Liverpool’s Steven Gerrard
Steven Gerrard is in my view heads and tails the best player this season. He was the driving force behind the Liverpool’s attack and the main reason why Liverpool pushed Man Utd for the title. He was so important that Liverpool looked kind of lost whenever he was injured. If he and Fernando Torres hadn’t been injured, who knows?

Most Improved Team this season- Aston Villa
For a long time this season, it looked like there would be a change in the Big 4. Aston Villa pushed Arsenal hard before falling away badly in the latter part of the season. However manager Martin O’Neill put together a young exciting team that has great potential for the future. They need a bigger squad (O’Neill used about 20 players the whole season) and someone to replace Martin Laursen in the centre of defense, but once they do that, I expect Villa to go from strength to strength.

Surprise Team this season- Fulham
Read above on Roy Hodgson. That’s all the reason you need to know why I feel Fulham is the surprise of the season.

Most Disappointing Team this season- Tottenham Hotspur
After they won the Carling Cup last year, everyone was expecting great things from Spurs this season. They started badly and Juande Ramos was hastily fired. Harry Redknapp steadied the ship and bought Spurs to safety but safety is not the same as challenging for the title.