9/21/2017

Terrex Lesson - Kicking a hard ball

The ball looked pretty, like a football, very tempting. Someone went ahead and kicked. 'Ouch, it's a hard ball', so hard that it almost broke his leg. This practically sums up the Terrex Incident. Any lesson learnt, or anything good came out from it?

Going back to pre incident day and just read the media and the numerous and almost daily anti China articles would tell a story. Then there was the Rajaratnam School lashing out at China on the South China Sea issue and the chest thumping that Singapore was going to punch anyone regardless of size and power.

Read the news today and the glorious reporting of China's economic activities and infrastructure development in the BRI and compare the difference. Incidentally when one reads about China, it is all about trade, economic activities and infrastructure development. When one reads about the USA, it is about wars, threats of wars, sanctions, warnings and selling of weapons of mass destruction, etc etc. The bankrupt evil Empire has nothing else to contribute to world peace except wars.

The media is also bustling with news about how good China Singapore relations are, a stark contrast to the pre Terrex days when Singapore was snubbing and rubbing at China all over the place. No?

It looks like Singapore has sat down and took a relook at its strategic position and reviewed its policies towards China and how it should go forward. The policies of snuggling closely with the Americans continues and allowing the devil to compromise Singapore’s neutral position could not be the same anymore. The Americans did not need to manipulate or pressure Singapore to be nice and good to the Americans. That is what Sun Tsu's highest state of the Art of War. No need to fight the enemy, the enemy willingly surrender itself, prostrate itself to be screwed.

Singapore's policies towards China has taken a dramatic turn for the better, hopefully, at least that is what you read in the media and what the ministers are saying. How true is this, only time will tell. What is real is that Singapore cannot advance and grow economically without China. Being left out in the cold by China is an economic disaster for Singapore. No country could give Singapore a lift economically other than China. This is the positive outcome of the Terrex Incident.

The Terrex Incident has forced Singapore to start thinking again after falling into complacency that all is well with or without China. After putting everything down to brass tack, Singapore's teeny weeny economy that has no growth engine other than raising property prices and dumping the island with more foreigners will go into depression if it does not tag along with the Chinese economic train. The biggest economic growth engine today is China. Running foul with China is a no go.

Hence today we are seeing a 180 degree turn in Singapore China relations. The so called think tank schools that were walloping China thinking that they could behave like backlane gangsters have been asked to shut up. At least that is what I think is happening. No more cocky and thoughtless remarks of a school boy bullies wanting to challenge China to a fight.

Something good did come out from kicking a hard rock in the Terrex Incident. It jolted Singapore from its snoozing to realise the world has changed and it is time to wake up to face the reality. The big question, has enough damage been done that it is too late to change the direction of a ULCC.

The current visit to China by Hsien Loong and his team and the high level reception, the meetings with all the who’s who in China is telling a story that China wants to put everything aside and start anew. This is a new moment of truth. Would Singapore squander it again? It is does, there will be no return road.

What would follow in Hsien Loong’s meeting with Trump is interesting to watch. Trump is going to pressure Hsien Loong to do his will. Would Hsien Loong buckle or continue to be a willing partner to the evil Empire and its evil deeds of inciting wars, provoking wars, threats of wars and conducting wars? Would Trump twist Hsien Loong’s hands in Singapore’s relations with China or would Hsien Loong be telling Trump that Singapore would not be pressured by external powers, including the USA, to do what is not in the interest of Singapore?

China would be watching the visit very closely.

9/20/2017

USA – The real threat to the world

The mad Americans have been yelling to the world that the North Koreans are a threat to them and to the world. However, the real threat to the North Koreans and to the world and human civilization is the mad Americans. How can a small country that could hardly defend itself be a threat to the Americans when the latter possesses enough WMD to wipe North Korea out of the surface of the earth?
 

And this is exactly what Trump said at the UN General Assembly, in front of all the nations of the world, ‘we will have no choice than to tally destroy North Korea’. What no choice? What had the North Koreans done to deserve such a threat of total destruction? All because they wanted to have their own nuclear weapons to protect themselves from the mad Americans? And it is exactly this kind of threat that the North Koreans need to have nuclear weapons. And what threat to the Americans but just a wild allegation that the North Koreans are a threat to their national security?
 

The sad thing is that the assembly of nations did not rebuke the mad Americans for threatening to destroy North Korea. This is naked aggression against another country and its people. How can human civilization be so dumb to let the mad Americans go on threatening North Korea and other countries as they like and when they choose to?
 

Trump accused the North Korean’s pursuit of nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles to ‘threaten(s) the entire world with unthinkable cost of human life’. The truth is that the North Koreans would not dare to use their nuclear weapons unless attacked by the Americans. And without provocation, just by building and testing their defense system are not provocations, the Americans is threatening to destroy totally the whole of North Korea and in the process, ‘threaten(s) the entire world with unthinkable cost of human life’.
 

This is what the fucking mad Americans are going to do to the North Koreans and to the entire world when they dare to strike North Korea. It is the Americans that are threatening to attack North Korea, not North Korea threatening to attack the USA.
 

Trump went on to threaten other states and ‘called Iran an “economically depleted rogue state” that exports violence.’ The truth, it is the economically bankrupt rogue state of the USA that is exporting violence, starting wars and conducting wars everywhere. And all the terrorism and terrorist acts have American thumbprints on them, originated and Made In USA.
 

The UN General Assembly should speak up against this rogue state that is threatening to destroy North Korea and bring the whole world along with it. Period.

9/19/2017

Middle East Peace Efforts

SISI-NETANYAHU MEETING IN NEW YORK 



Introduction

Reports of a meeting between Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi in New York Egyptian President were received with mixed feelings in the Arab World, from “shameful” to a sign of “peace and tranquility”.

It was widely reported in Arabic media and commented upon online. Commentators view the meeting very differently, depending on which side they are with in the complex Middle-East politics.

The meeting was not reported by the popular Al-Jazeera immediately and many other Arab media failed even to mention it.

General Trend

The general trend among pro-Qatar or pro-Iranian media was to bypass the issue. PressTV in Iran ignored the meeting but highlighted a new US military base in Israel.

Saudi Arabia

Saudi Arabia’s Al-Arabiya didn’t mention the meeting directly but did have a piece devoted to Sisi’s visit to New York and his condemnation of supporters of terrorism and criticism of Qatar.  Egypt, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia and UAE have been in a confrontation with Qatar since last year. The article said that Sisi met Netanyahu to discuss Middle East peace and met with Jewish organizations.  The site has a short article on the meeting, claiming it “revived” the peace process and that Sisi stressed the need for a “final and just settlement” of the conflict.

Egyptian Media

Most Egyptian media highlighted aspects of Sisi’s trip and some focused on the Netanyahu handshake. Although Al-Ahram in Egypt did not mention the meeting on its homepage an article did highlight Egypt’s role in trying to aid Palestinian reconciliation. On the Arabic site, it noted that the Secretary General of the Arab League Ahmed Aboul Gheit, “commended Egypt’s efforts which paved the way for this important achievement.”

Al Masry al-Youm reported, “Sisi stressed the importance that Egypt attaches to efforts to resume negotiations between the Palestinian and Israeli sides with a view to reaching a just and comprehensive solution to the Palestinian issue in accordance with the two-state solution and the relevant international references.”

Al-Wafd featured an article that showed Netanyahu shaking hands with US President Donald Trump and discussed the new US military base in Israel, but did not mention the Sisi meeting.

Other Arab Media

Other major Arabic and regional media, such as The National in the UAE ignored the meeting. Al-Sharq al-Aswat didn’t include it. Al-Bayan in the UAE didn’t mention the UN General Assembly at all. Its top stories including something about Janet Jackson and her Qatari “billionaire husband” and salacious stories about domestic violence.

Al-Ain in Abu-Dhabi reported the meeting with a very straightforward explanation that it sought to settle the Palestinian issue and “create a new reality in the Middle East where all the peoples of the region live in stability, security and development.” It added that the meeting also included Khaled Fawzi, the head of Egyptian intelligence.

Milad media, a Palestinian website, said Sisi had launched a peace initiative in May 2016 with the French and Americans and that Sisi hoped “we could achieve some solution to this issue and create hope for the Palestinians and security for the Israelis and write a new page.”

Views On Social Media

On social media the meeting was publicized with photos of the two leaders smiling. One account called @Al_otaibiq8 with 89,000 followers criticized Sisi for “selling Egyptian territory and restoring relations with Israel.” Accounts linked to Qatar, Iran were more critical. Others located in the Gulf and in Egypt seemed to highlight the event without comment or with a kind of cheeky sarcasm. One twitter used named Hamdan al-Mutairi wrote “Unspeakable happiness” with photos of the smiling leaders.

A pro-Syrian rebel account also highlighted the “chuckling in public” and noted they had met “secretly last year.” The former  vice-President of the Egyptian students union, Ahmed el-Baqry, tweeted a photo of the meeting which he described as shameful, accusing Sisi of being a “Zionist agent” and mocking the leaders’ “love.” Another user said that it was a good sign of peace and tranquility in the region, while another compared Sisi to Anwar Sadat, who signed the Egypt-Israel peace agreement in 1979.

Cleavages Exist

In general the regional coverage of the meeting reveals the cleavages that exist. First of all it plays into the Saudi Arabia, UAE and Egyptian pressure on Qatar. They have linked this to terror funding of Hamas and Hezbollah, two enemies of Israel, which puts Israel in their court. However the general populist view in much of the region is still that Israel is the enemy and that those leaders who openly meet with Israel not only lead to “normalization” but are also attacked as shameful.

Conclusion

The disconnect between elite media presentations and how social media discusses the meeting is clear. Particularly interesting is that pro-Iranian media did not latch onto the meeting to criticize Israel. This may reveal that the old days of using the accusation that enemies “work with Zionists” does not play as well when leaders openly meet with the Israeli prime minister and discuss peace.

Hope reason will prevail and peace will finally be achieved in the Middle-East, if not totally at least partially between Israel and her neighbours .

Reactions to the EP walkover

The no contest for the EP is quite expectable given the aristocratic elitist barriers raised to block the average citizens from their rights to be elected to the office of the Presidency. This is more than a sick joke if this country is to be called a democracy when the basic rights of the citizens are taken away from them, that not all men are equal under the law but some are more equal than others based on their jobs and wealth. Now that the show is over, let’s see how the citizens react to the whole farce all for nothing.
 

For the activitists, there was a sit in vigil at Hong Lim Park, where they protested in silence, nothing more nothing less. Anything more could be dangerous. The turnout was good enough for the govt to take notice.
 

The next group of citizens simply said, it’s over, let’s move on. This is the typical boh bian group of Singaporeans, resigned to their fate.
 

A deviant group would grudgingly said, what to do, what can you do about it, and end the story there.
 

Then there is the usual large group of tiada apa group that just go home with whatever they are doing as if nothing happens. Life just go on with or without the EP show.  The boh chap type.
 

And there is the very disappointed hedonistic group that are cursing and swearing that they did not have a free holiday. That is about the most important thing in the life of this group.
 

And you will have the happy group all celebrating and congratulating the PAP and Halimah for winning the EP election, for working so hard for it.
 

And let’s not forget another group that would give up a big yawn.
 

This is Singapore and how Singaporeans react to this EP reserved for the Malays.
It is a non event. Who cares? Nobody cares, really. The govt can do whatever it wants, change the Constitution for what it thinks fit and whatever it claims will affect Singapore in the future, whether the people agree or not, it does not matter. The govt said counts.
Oh the Malay community will be celebrating the second Malay President of the island after 47 years. Gratitude man.

9/18/2017

The people's President

Several presidents have been touted as the people's president with names
like Ong Teng Cheong, Wee Kim Wee, Nathan etc etc often quoted in the main
media. Oops, my apologies, I think Ong Teng Cheong was only quoted as the
people's president in the social media if I am not wrong. The title of the
people's president seems to endear many people and it is something of a
great honour to be known as one. Depending who you are, everyone would have
his own people's president in his heart and not every president is their
people’s president.

Tan Cheng Bock came close to be another people's president when he lost to
Tony Tan by a hair's breath and then disqualified from standing for the
next election when the Constitution was changed and he was out from the
running. The popularity of Cheng Bock has increased despite his being a non
candidate in the latest EP election that turned out to be a walkover with
only one candidate qualifying though Cheng Bock was the first to express
his intent to contest.

In the public's mind, many thought Cheng Bock was likely to win should he
be given a chance to contest. This could be one of the main reasons why the
rules were changed to disqualify him. Everything is now history and Cheng
Bock unfortunately becomes a ‘has been’. It is difficult to see him
contesting in the next EP as age is catching up on him.

Below is a pic on his popularity when the turned up at the silent sit in at
Hong Lim on 16 Sep. The crowd was with him. The crowd was there on their
own, with no temptation of free chicken rice or free transport. A people’s
president does not need that. These people paid their transport fare to be
with him. These were genuine signs of what a people's president is like,
like by the people from their heart, spontaneous and with no coercion or
any farcical set up to make him look good.

Maybe to some people Cheng Bock is still their people's president in some
way. And in some way Cheng Bock has been robbed of his rightful place in
the Istana.

Photo credit to statestimesreview.


Towards Smart Cities - Part 2

Is a Smart City a Healthy City?



Concept of  A Smart City

In the past decade, an unprecedented shift of people from the rural areas to the cities account for more than half the world's population. This huge surge of people is causing severe congestion, housing shortage, decline in air quality, failing infrastructure, inadequate public facilities and services, increased poverty and reduced general well-being. As such, the need for the development of smart cities has become more urgent.

The conceptualisation of a 'Smart City' varies from city to city and country to country, depending on the level of development, available resources, forward-looking leadership, political will for reform, aspirations and needs of the citizens.

The concept of a smart city is not absolute. There is no end point. It is a process, or series of steps, by which cities become more 'liveable' and resilient and more capable of responding faster to new and unforeseen challenges.

Four Pillars of Development

To provide for the aspirations and needs of the citizens, city planners will aim at developing an eco-system represented by the four pillars of development: institutional, physical, social and economic infrastructures. With this as a long term goal, cities then work towards developing the four infrastructures either simultaneously or incrementally, adding layers upon layers of ‘smartness’, within certain time-frames.

Focus and Objective

The focus is on sustainable and inclusive development and the idea is to look at compact areas and provide solutions to foreseeable problems.

In the implementation, all parties concerned must always bear in mind that the objective is to promote and provide a decent quality of life to the citizens, a clean and sustainable environment and application of ‘Smart Solutions'.

Core Elements

The core infrastructure elements in a smart city include:

1. Optimum and low-cost water supply,
2. Optimum and low-cost electricity supply,
3. Efficient sanitation and waste management,
4. Efficient and speedy mobility and public transportation.
5. Affordable low-cost housing, especially for the poor,
6. Robust IT connectivity and digitalization,
7. Good E-Governance with citizen participation,
8. Sustainable living environment for humans, fauna  and flora,
9. Safety and security, particularly  for children, women and the elderly,
10. Effective health and medical services.
11. E-education at home to reduce needs for direct instructions and teaching facilities.
12. Efficient and speedy law and order enforcement and judicial services.
13. Well coordinated communications and feedback systems.
14. Efficient, effective and speedy emergency response to all components of maintenance, medical, law and order, transportation, communications, etc.
15. Last but not least, the promotion and facilitation of e-Commerce and e-Services.



A Healthy City

If the planning is well done, coordination well linked and timed, implementation well executed and maintenance well responded, it goes without saying, a smart city will definitely become a more livable, environment friendly and healthier city.

However, there are four big IF's. So, there are going to be numerous teething problems. These problems must be envisaged and not left to chance, because other than foreseeable problems arising, there will be unforeseeable challenges, shocking and undesirable! This leads us to the next part:

The Pitfalls of a Smart City

(Continues in Part 3)

by Rigpa

9/17/2017

20th Asian Masters Athletic Championship - Our masters athletes in action


35 Singapore masters athletes will be competing in the 20th Asian Masters Athletic championship in the city of Rugao in Jiangsu China from 24-28 Sep. Rugao is famous for having the most centenarians alive and is most suitable to host such an event. In Singapore we have a strong pool of senior athletes enjoying themselves in the gruelling sports of athletics and would not call it a day until their bodies failed to move, their legs failed to run and their hands failed to lift or throw. These masters athletes are self funding and doing their own training totally on their own without any support from the govt except for some generous individuals and private organisations.

The Singaporean Team of athletes, age 35 to 80+, with some ex state runners like Paul Su, have been training very hard in the past months to do battle with the other Asian athletes, all 3,000 of them from across Asia in this meet. Some of the competitors that have registered for the events were in their 80s and 90s.

Just my event for the 65-69 age group for 100m sprint draws 28 runners. The events include long and middle distance, 10,000 metre walks and field sports like short putt, javelin, discuss and the jumps.

The man behind this Singapore Team is A Kannan from the Singapore Masters Association. Working closely with him and assisting in coordinating all the travel arrangement and logistics is Jason Wong from the Singapore Masters Track and Field Association. The athletes from both associations and some free individuals are all going as Team Singapore to fly the Singapore flag.

The Singapore Team is fortunate to have many sponsors making contributions to this event. The main sponsor is a Mr Andy Foo who will be hosting a dinner for the athletes in Rugao. The other sponsors are acknowledged in the top banner of this blog.