Sunday, December 31, 2006

there's something about .....2006

How time flies. Just about exactly a year ago, I wrote about my year in 2005 and my resolutions (yes... I do try to achieve them) see link

And now it's time to do that for 2006.

Top 10 Highlights of 2006.

No.10 I did a post on my bro-in-law sometimes in March this year and registered a unusually high hits. See link This is because Mr Wang mentioned it and later it was picked up in

No.9 Another of my post on Miss Universe's erhem was highlight by Miyagi in TODAY. See link

(Actually the only reason why the above 2 make it to the "highlight" is because this year has been a boring year and I have difficulty finding 10 highlights. It's not for the ego)

No.8 The amount of sick-spells and medical bills this year. The whole family has a sick spell during the new year period. And during the haze in October, I had ulcers in my throat that lasted 1.5 months. And my family got sick during the holidays as well that lasted about 1 month.

No. 7 Coolcat moved house. As mentioned, in a year of no-event, this can also be my highlight.

No. 6 My petrol in my car went dry. See link

No. 5 I finally voted in an Election!!! First time and don't know when I will have another go at it. It's a good feeling to have a hand in nation building. Now I can proudly say I voted PM LEE in.

No. 4 My trip to Teochew. I felt I have touch base with my roots. And the fact that I'm there with my Dad and my Son was extra sweet.

No.3 My son calling me PAPA. To witness the growing process of my son is simply amazing.

No. 2 Discovering my cyst. Emotionally, this is rock bottomed. See link

No. 1 Going thru Cystoscopy. Physically, this is rock bottomed. I think this might even be the top 3 highlight of my life, not to even mentioned 2006. See link

2005 Resolutions

Let's see if I have met any of them:

No.1. Learn how to set up webpage. I think this is a natural progression from Blog.

Status: Not even near. In fact, I think this is too ambitious and I will strike this out for the rest of my life. However, I did manage to start on a business blog to be launch soon. So I think in blogging terms, I have progressed a little bit.

No.2. To improve on my business and hope for a breakthru year.

Status: Met. Phew...

No.3. To become a better father. I think I'm lagging from my wife.

Status: I tried. And my wife went further ahead.

No.4. To lose weight. I have lost 2 kg in the last few months, hope to hit 75kg.

Status: It ballooned further. I gain back that 2 kg I lost in late December last year and even more. In fact the last 2 months, I felt heavier. Damn.

No.5. To find a new hobby.

Status: Still searching.

2007 Resolutions

Carried forward:

1.) To Improve on my Business and hope for a breakthru year. In fact, this shall remain permanent.

2.) To catch up with my wife to be a good parent. To be rephrased.

3.) To lose weight. Ok.. let's be realistic. 78kg will be my target for this year.

4.) To find a new hobby.

New Resolutions:

2A) To read more books with my son.

3A.) Be healthy. To cut down on visits to Clinic by half to almost zero in 2007.

5) Can making babies be a Resolution, can.. ok lah...


Monday, December 25, 2006

there's something about ..... christmas

Ho Ho Ho .... Merry Christmas!


Recently newspaper publish a list of items people likes to give as well as hate to receive as Christmas Gifts.

Rank no.1 for gifts people like to give is Chocolate.

Rank no.1 for gifts people hate to receive is Towels.

If you ask me, these are the following items I hate to receive:

1.) Cups. If they are beautiful, at least you can still recycle them as gifts the following year. If they looked like those you find in kopitiam, throwing them away is a waste, keeping them takes up space, giving them away embarass me.

2.) Candles. I need to buy lighter to use them since I don't smoke. Also, you always worried about fire hazard. Next, if you light them in air con room, air con man will tell you that it's bad for the air con.

3.) Towels. This is not so bad since you can keep them in storage and let your occasion guest that come over to stay at your place to use them. But still.... receiving towel as present has a different feeling than say receving a Cartier Watch or a LV wallet.


Overheard in Takashimaya....

shopper to sales girl: Is that watch male or female?

Sales girl: it's unisex.

Wah... this is what i call a good sales girl.

But I didn't know watch also got sexual inclination.

Thanks to Vivo City, there were 167000 lesser shoppers on Orchard road and marina area on Saturday Night.
It took me just under 1 hour to leave home on Saturday evening at 6.20pm to reach Wisma Atria, found a car park lot, go to the food court and got a table by 7.15pm. A feat considering it's a Saturday before Christmas.

A little christmas trivial: Do you know that Santa Clause is "invented" by.........


Santa is just a marketing idea to sell Coca Cola. Why do you think Santa is in Red/white colour theme. It prove to be so successful that it became a christmas tradition.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

there's something about ..... autobiographies

OJ Simpson - IF I DID IT

Britney Spears - OOPPS... I DID IT AGAIN


Saddam Hussein - I'LL BE HANGED IF I DID IT

George Bush - WHAT DID I DO?

Tony Blair - I DID IT BECAUSE "W" DID IT.....


Christopher Lee - I DID IT

there's something about ..... casinos, theme pk, shopping and GST

This is the economic piece I mentioned much earlier.

My trip to HK/China really opened my eyes. I had intended to see for myself what Singapore is lacking and what the rave was all about in HK.

But why did I sound so negative about the state of economy of Singapore? Afterall, didn't Singapore register a very strong growth the last 2 years?

The reason for my negativity is because Hong kong is taking alot of businesses away from Singapore. We used to say Singapore is Clean, efficient, bilingual etc. But these are no longer our forte in keeping businesses in Singapore. You just have to make a trip to Hong Kong, take a serious look into Hong Kong and you realised Singapore is losing our edge as a destination, both as a tourist attraction as well as a place to work and live.

Anybody who says Singapore is a shopping paradise, should think twice. Hong Kong has a vibrancy that Singapore couldn't match. Shops remains open till 11pm. Their salesperson's level of service and committment make even Singapore's Giordano's staffs looks amateurish. In the past, where they struggle with mandarin and English, they now speaks Mandarin well enough to make a deal. No doubt, some sectors in Hong Kong still struggles with English, but they are improving by the leaps and bounds. Singaporean's edge as a bilingual city is under-threat.

They also have a hunger for success that stems from the fact that they are next to China and there are lots of money to earn from China. The China market is so huge that you cannot ignore the economic benefits. The corporate tax for companies in HK is also lower than Singapore. And it just make much more sense to setup office in Hong Kong. This applies even to those MNC given the headquarters status in Singapore.

I recalled one such occurence where one of my MNC clients decided to move the whole headquarters to Hong Kong. And soon after announcing to the company's staff about this decision, the president of the company received a call from Singapore Government. While it's still an urban legend, it is understood that the HK government had called the Singapore Government to gloat about their success in luring this MNC over to HK.

Recently HK decided to abolish their plans to introduce GST after much complaints and demonstrations. On the other hand, Singapore is planning to increase from the existing 5% to 7%. Both the countries mentioned about using the GST monies to help the poor.

In Singapore, this increase in GST was met with lots of criticism on the government. Likewise, the casino decision was also much disputed by Singaporeans over the last 2 years. But unlike HK, Singaporean's complaints are unlikely to reverse our Singapore Government's decision.

But I do agree with the government's move to build casinos in Singapore. In Hong Kong, you have a macau for the gambling fix. You have a Disneyland and others for the tourist dollars. They even have a Madame Tussard.

I read an article from their local newspaper. It is reported that Disneyland has a visitorship of 5 million in their first year of operation. Out of these 5 million, 2.5m came from Mainland China. In contrast, Singapore attracted about 1m from mainland china. This figure is from tourism board. tourist statistics

Now, if that 2.5m mainland chinese spend about 3 days in HK, their total contribution to HK's economy is frightening as they would have spent on other tourists attractions, the hotel stays, the food and the shopping. The Hong Kong retailers are telling you that Mainland China is their biggest source of business now. Singapore?

So how do you persuade these Chinese to come to Singapore? I think Sentosa IR with Universal Studio could be a start. We need a big brand name in Singapore.

If we could achieve the targeted tourism numbers down the road, the likely GST receivable from the tourism numbers will be huge. And I got no doubt that these revenues will help Singapore in a bigger ways.

You can calculate the additional revenues from the additional 2%.

If we can achieve 15 million vistors a year. And assuming they each spend $500 in Singapore on food and hotel. Total GST receivable is about $525m assuming 7%. The additional 2% added $150m. So the longer the tourists stays, the more GST we can receive. And this number is also assuming that they only contribute $500 per tourist. Probably a conservative figure. So we need all the initiatives to bring in the visitors and make them stay longer.

So we do need GST to get more from the tourists and perhaps lower our company tax or personal income tax to attract more companies to setup offices in Singapore. Or perhaps lower medical costs and lower school fees or lower transport fares.

With cleaner air, we are definitely a better choice to live-in than in HK in the short term. But what happens if HK clean up their pollution? They did say that all it takes is $10billion to clean up the air. Where would that leave us again?

there's something about ..... sailing

This is another example why the rich becomes richer.

Because when they are young, the richer kids are exposed to "sports" like Sailing, while the poorer kids are exposed to "sports" like canoeing.

In the end, Sailing becomes a recognised sports and these kids become richer by winning golds in Asian Games.

While the poorer kids can only rent canoes at East Coast park.

Of course, I'm just kidding. These sailers must have come from diverse backgrounds lah. (politically-correct statements)

there's something about ..... geography

I've always been poor in Geography during school days. If I average out my geography scores, it would be in the red. So naturally I opted out from Secondary 3 onwards. And since then, I have not taken any keen interest to learn more about Geography.

And now... the Asian Games just added to my confusion.

You mean....

Qatar (where the games are held)
Saudi Arabia
etc etc

are Asian Countries???!?!?!? Aren't they Middle-East????

After I think about it, perhaps they are indeed Asia. Afterall, they are call MIDDLE-EAST and we are called SOUTH-EAST.

And interestingly, ASIAN GAMES kept out Australia. Now... there are sectors in the World that says Australia is considered part of Asia.

And how about countries like:

Are they part of Pakanistan?

Now I know why I Sucks at Geography.... because I can't pronounce their names.

Monday, December 11, 2006

there's something about ..... sports

Last night, there was an EPL game between Chelsea and Arsenal. 2 of the most popular soccer clubs in the world playing it out. EPL is the most watched league in the WORLD. You pay a premium just to catch the league in SCV.

As a soccer fan myself, this match is almost certainly not to be missed.

BUT.... instead.... I wasn't watching the match.

I decided to become sissy and I watched Asian Games where Remy Ong is fighting out for the Gold Medal in Bowling.

Yes... I WATCHED BOWLING!!!!!!! Over EPL!!! Over Chelsea vs Arsenal!!!!!!!

BOWLING!!!!!! You know that so-called sports where you throw a ball over 10 standing pins down a lane.

But why did I sacrifice EPL over Bowling?

Because after all these years, I still couldn't figure out how this can be a sport and I need to be convinced!!!

And after watching how Remy loses the Gold Medal, I'm still convinced that Bowling is not a sport.

Your only enemy is yourselves. You play your own game and hope the other party plays badly, and then you win. How the other competitor played doesn't affect you much. It's not like there is a strategy. You always try to go for the maximum knockout everytime you throw the ball. If you couldn't get a strike, it's nobodies' fault. It's something that you couldn't help it. It could be down to luck, it could be down to a slightly wrong twist.

So since you couldn't control your own fate and you couldn't control your opponent's fate, and it's down to luck.... do you call this a Sport?

Saturday, December 09, 2006

there's something about ..... test-patterns

Call me naive....

I didn't think test-patterns are the same the whole wide world.

Call me lucky....

How many different test-patterns have you seen round the world?

Call me crazy....

When you are in China and there isn't much things to do, even a test-pattern would
interest you.

Friday, December 08, 2006

there's something about ..... china

During my stay in China, I've met many people doing various form of business.

I've seen so many expensive cars on the road and you immediately wonder how much these costs in Teochew, China. To my astonishment, a Toyota Camry costs approximately $400k RMB. That works out to be about $80k singapore dollars. Their BMW 3 series is only about $100k Sing, but their 5 series is about the same price as Singapore.

Their GEELY brand of car is about $75k RMB which is our $15k Sing.

Their mobile phones of International brands like Nokia, Motorola, Sony Ericsson cost the same price as those in Singapore, without contract. In China, they do not practice signing a long-term contract to lower the phone price and every phone you buy is at it's full price.

However, every guy on the street.. and I mean EVERY GUY.. is using a handphone with camera.

These acquaintances that I met are using top of the range Motorola Phones and Sony Ericsson. Some of them are pda phones.

These acquaintances told me that Chinese people do not trust chinese products and everyone are buying international brands as the quality is better.

But if every chinese guy is to earn about $2000 RMB a month and a phone cost about $3000 RMB, how to they afford to buy into these high end products?

And not only phones. Giordano brands cost the same as those in HK. Nike and addidas costs more than HK. Things are definitely not any cheaper in China and yet these low income group is able to afford expensive gadgets like computer and handphones. How did they do it?

This is when they finally revealed.

You see, the young chinese generation of the 20s are borned in the days where "1 is enough policy" is not established yet. Many of them are borned into big families of 4-5 siblings.

And since most of these siblings are working, their household incomes could range from $5000 to $8000 RMB a month. And since one high-end phone cost about $3000 RMB, what the siblings do is to combine their resources and take turn buying these gadgets until everyone of them own one of it.

Sometimes it's better to have more siblings. I think it's time I produce more offsprings.

there's something about ..... half-gate

Someone dropped into our MRT's track again.

Seriously, it's a major designed flaw from MRT. Granted, many railway tracks round the way is open and anyone could have dropped onto the track on purpose or carelessness.

However, railway tracks are railway tracks unless every train in the world goes underground. And mostly, these railway tracks were built like donkey years ago and they belongs to the old technology.

MRT trains are different. We built the station, and we build the infrastructure from scratch. And when you build an open platform, you are being naive to ensure that no one ever will drop into the track. Someone may die. Disruptions will take place.

So, half-gate was suggested. SMRT said that:

1.) firstly, it's too costly to implement half-gate to all the above-ground stations.

2.) People can still climb over.

The first argument is non-valid. SMRT earns lots of money. They should spend those money for safety reasons regardless the costs.

The second argument is also silly. We have laws and regulations, but people can still break the law. Stealing is a crime, but petty thefts still take place. You don't argue that since theft will take place, we might as well abolish the rules and regulations.

If anyone is seen to be attempting to climb over, that would have given enuff time for people to react before a disaster take place. And this half-gate acts as a deterrent to people who think it's convenient for them to push someone off the track or commit suicide. Some short fellow may think that it's daunting for them to climb the half-gate and commit suicide.

Now... how is this relevant to my trip to Hong kong?

This pic is taken at from Hong Kong's MTR's network. It's an open platform and they think that half-gate is necessary for safety reasons.

So is SMRT is saying that HK MRT is silly to implement such expensive design?

I hope SMRT can wake up and think about the consequences. If they think that half-gate will not solve the problem, then implement full-gate. If already half-gate is that expensive and to implement full-gate is going to bankrupt SMRT, then let another tragedy take place again.

Atlas, they view tragedy as just another statistic.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

there's something about ..... urinating

I think We Chinese, have this problem when it comes to urinating in a public toilet.

In our Singapore toilets, you have posters designed by our local artiste, Chew, on how to urinate properly in Singapore toilet's urinal.

And China has it as well. So I can only conclude that Chinese has a problem using a urinal.

But.. how difficult can it be? Why do we need tips on how to urinate?

It's that simple:

step 1.) you unzip your zipper.

2.) You navigate through your pants to find your penis.

3.) You found it, please make sure you handle it with care.

4.) You try to take it out of your pants through the zipper.

5.) you urinal into whatever it's in front of you.

6.) tap it if necessary to make sure every single drop, drop into whatever it's in front of you.

7.) you put it back to what it was previously.

8.) you zip back only you are very sure your penis is not sticking out of the zipper.

9.) The end.'s that simple in Singapore.

However, in China.... it's a little bit more complicated.

You need a ruler.

there's something about ..... addidas

My wife's sneakers gave way when we arrived in Teochew, China. Hers was a nike brand and nothing short of internation brand would do.

And of course, we are excited about the prospect of buying cheaper sneakers shoes in China. Afterall, almost every international brands that we used in Singapore has the label "made in China".

So we made our way to a local departmental store.

From a distance, we saw a sneakers boutique that resembles alot like Addidas. The way the merchandises are displayed, the 3 strips at the side of the shoes etc etc.

And so we happily walk into the boutique.

You see, we don't examine things clearly. When you are holiday, you are mostly guided by mood and feelings. You don't go about rationalising anything.

And just when we ask to try on a pair, did we realise that it's not ADDIDAS.

It's ADDNICE!!!!!

Add what?!?!?!? It's ADDNICE!



I think the sales girl realised our sudden shock and immediately explain that this is a Germany brand with a long history.

They even have a website on it.

We have no other options. So we bought the cheapest addnice sneakers just to ensure it could last till we find another sneaker elsewhere.

I forgot to take a picture of the shoes as we have given it away to my in-laws.

So do you pronounce as ADD- NICE (as in you are very nice)

or do you pronounce as ADD-NICE (as in Nice, France)

or do you pronounce as ADD-NI-CE (as in you pronounce Nike)

Anyway.. don't pray pray.

Addnice aside.... China's translation on NIKE is


So if you go there and ask for NAI KEY..... good luck to you.

Monday, December 04, 2006

there's something about ..... southern province of China

I'm not Tan Ah Teck of Under One roof but I did visit the southern province of China.

I was in Teochew, China for "exploration" trip. It's my first trip to China since their economic reform and I'm curious to see how far they have progressed. Of course, if you go to Shanghai or Beijing, you would realise that they are probably way up there.

So I guess the best guage is at a province.

We were picked up by a aquaintance in his car. His car is of the "GEELY" brand that recently made their way to Singapore.

Half way thru the journey, I knew they have progressed. They no longer played Teresa Teng's music in their car. They played this:

I only managed to capture a short one. But the whole version comes with a 1 sentence lyrics that almost everyone in Singapore has heard of :


Wah... They have indeed progressed.

there's something about ..... duty-free

Someone at the airport needs spelling lessons. This picture taken at Changi Airport Terminal 1.

there's something about ..... biometric passport

My old passport expired sometime mid-year and after hearing that Singapore Goverment is implementing a new biometric passport wef from August, I decided to wait for it.

Of course, passport being passport.. does it matter if it's biometric or chemetric or mathemetric?

Of course, Singaporean being Singaporean... even if it's chemetric or mathemetric, we would still wait for it.

And so the day of reckoning arrived just 1 week before my trip.

It was reported in the papers that people had to queue 2 to 4 hours for it. Damn the papers, the article came after I collected my passport, otherwise I would have gone really early to pick it up.

I waited about 2 hours on a Friday lunch break. When I arrived my queue number and the served number is about 200 numbers difference. When I pick up my passport, the queue number and the served number is about 400.

Now.. what is so special about this Biometric passport? And what the hell in Biometric?

This main purposes of Biometric Passport are:

1.) To boost Singapore Pools Income.

All Biometric Passport comes with a BRAND NEW Passport number. It's no longer your NRIC number. And it's so random that we have now 1 more additional number to remember in our life alongside atm numbers, bank account numbers, pin numbers, password, i/c number of all your family members, and now.. new passport numbers.

And following Singapore Culture, I just have to buy 4D on it. I spent $100 on my new passport numbers. Of course, if I had kenna some prizes out of it, I wouldn't have done this posting.

I really don't see why they have to do that. It's biometric. It's not mathemetric. Meaning to say... numbers is not crucial, the face feature is what they wanted. If they have to differentiate Biometric and normal passport.... just add another alphabet in front of your old passport number lor. Like if old passport number is S71234567A. Then the new biometric would be BS71234567A. But BS also stands for Bullsh@#

2.) To show off to 3rd World Airports that they are so backward that should just shut down their airports and become farmers.

I went to Shantou, China. Their airport custom officer has no equipment to scan our BIOMETRIC Passport and we were asked to wait outside their main office while they check with Singapore Government I believe.

If you are someone that gets anxiety attack easily... this would surely trigger it. And the worse thing is you wouldn't know how to tell them that this is the new BIOMETRIC Passport ..... in chinese.

The wait was about 20 mins. Ministry of Manpower also very smart. They already train us to wait 2 to 4 hours for the passport and any other inconvenience in the world will pale in comparison.

You think Singapore Passport very Big Deal hor... everywhere sure can pass easily one hor... scanner cannot scan... means cannot scan... Biometric or not.

On hindsight, I wouldn't have gotten this passport. I would have saved $100 and 20 mins.

Friday, December 01, 2006

there's something about ..... "taxi"

This blog post is on a "taxi" that we took on our way back on Thursday morning.

No... I'm not doing my blog on "Momento" style.. which is reverse-chronologically. Just happens that I think this topic link closely with my previous post on luggage.

You see... on on way to the Airport from home at the start of our trip, we actually book a MPV cab. The $16 booking fee is worth it given that we do not have to go on 2 cabs which might be a logistically nightmare.

On our return, of course we are not able to book a cab in time. I was hoping to catch a MPVcab at the Taxi Queue that could transport all my luggages at 1 go plus the 5 of us.

Before I could hit the Taxi Queue, I was "touted" by a guy that offers us "minivan" ride that costs $35. You knew it's touting because he tries to "offer" us inconspicuously by not talking to us directly but merely wispering the offer through the side of his lips.

I told him no and decided to go to the Taxi Queue. My family were all ready for it but I told them that we are not sure about them as they are not from the local taxi firms. My family feels that it's alright because this is Singapore.

I decided to check out the Taxi Queue first and realised that there aren't any MPV in sight. So I return back to the guy and told him that we will accept their offer.

We were led to the basement and I realised that this is actually a "syndicate" offering such niche services. This syndicate has quite a few minivans and he has a proper way of allocating drivers to the minivans.

Of course, I lived to tell this story.

Throughout the whole journey, I didn't feel we were in any danger. It's a mercedes van that moves at a relatively good van speed. The service level is not any different from the local taxi companies. They load and unload your luggages.
But seriously, it's not our fault. There is nothing at the airport that caters to our need. Just imagine... we need 2 cabs, plus luggage fee, plus midnight charge, the total costs would have been nearer to $50.... but seriously it's also the logistic challenge of going on 2 cabs that push us to take up this offer.

In other words, we are satisfied with this "illegal" transportation.

there's something about ..... holiday

Just came back on Thursday morning from Hong Kong and China.

It's the first trip for my kid and the whole family including my parents were really looking forward to the trip.

On the eve of the trip, my wife came to me and "warned" me that "we have a situation." Realised that it wasn't an "!" but a "." So it must be something that doesn't bother her.

So I asked her "what situation?"

She said that we have too much to bring and it's already spilling over to 3 big luggages. I told her that if those are necessary, then it's necessary.

She replied "no... that wasn't the situation."

I asked impatiently "then?"

She said "The situation is that you are the only person that has to carry all the luggages. I've to carry the kid, your parents couldn't take the luggage. We have 3 big luggages, 1 stroller, perhaps 4 hand carriers."

I went speechless.

That.... sets the tone for the whole trip.

Needless to say, I'm more tired after the trip than before the trip. And like what coolcat says.. I need another trip to recharge from this trip.

To give you an idea what I have to carry, this picture is taken at the airport when I came back home.

This looks like what you would bring to Europe for 1 month.

More posts to come.... one lengthy piece on economics at the end.