Sunday, June 28, 2009

Rest In Peace, Michael Jackson

He will be missed by fans all over the globe, no question about it, for in my opinion and many others too, he was the best pop idol second to none. An immensely talented kid entertainer and was one good looking black, his biggest mistake I feel was to try to look caucasian. All those plastic surgeries he had undergone would have taken a toll on him in his middle age years, perhaps. Well, who are we, as outsiders to jump to conclusion on the cause of his sudden demise and I shall say no more. He is gone, that's a fact and even the real cause is later established, he won't be revived either.

Michael, you'll be remembered and may you rest in peace.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Dr Mahatir, An Angry Man More Likely

Following MM Lee trip to Malaysia, Dr M in his usual fiery style, posted this article on his blog (refer to giving his die-hard supporters and not quite his supporter, me a short lesson on Middle Kingdom of ancient China then and the new Middle Kingdom of the modern era. In his short article, he was obviously taking a swipe at our shiny red dot, Singapore for as long as his nemesis, our dear MM Lee is still in government. As if he had not gibbered enough, he went on to hit the 5th PM of Malaysia, Pak Lah for acceding too much to Singapore during his tenure. He could have addressed the 5th PM by his name, instead chose to call him the 5th PM. This is certainly uncalled for. Tit-for-tat and with due respect to this 4th PM of Malaysia who by any measure, was a great PM Malaysia could have asked for, notwithstanding I cannot be faulted for returning the same 'swipe' to him by addressing him the 4th PM instead of respectfully addressing him, Tun or Dr Mahatir Mohamad.

A hungry man is an angry man, a popular idiom we hear so often. Hungry that he has not received supports from the greater masses to see the light of his teaching since his shock retirement from public office some 6 years ago and once deprived of that, he has gone overdrive by transforming into an angry man who shoots blank only.

4th PM of Malaysia, you must learn to manage your anger well. For this, you have to learn to take wise advice from your old peer, MM Lee who has certainly leapfrogged you in every department imaginable. He is not accorded the status of a elder statesman just because he is LKY; he is well regarded and respected by the leaders of big power nations for what red dot is today. Care to know why? This shiny red dot where I hail from is not perfect, for I recognise this red dot still have many flaws but we, as one people, one nation (the Chinese, Malays, Indians and other races coming together) can take comfort that it is constantly making changes to improve albeit slowly but surely. The two bigger dots, the East and the West you had once ruled enjoyed space abundant and are blessed with natural resources abundant, oil, timber, rubber and 'what have you' but economically, how far away are your two bigger dots from the small red dot? You have the answer for yourself, I don't have to elaborate further. I can only assume your hitting of our red dot could mean you are jealous of the many achievements red dot has earned, regionally and internationally, and if hitting below the belt could diffuse your anger till you re-ignite at your whims & fancies, please continue to do so.

4th PM of Malaysia, leave a legacy behind and not continue to make angry and baseless statements in your later years only to make a mockery of yourself. Despite all the swipes at you, I still regard you as one of the greatest & ablest leaders of the modern era second of course, to our dear LKY. For a 40 something year-old average Joe telling an 80 something year-old former great leader to grow up, I know it is too much asking for but do I have a choice, really? Please forgive me, Tun.

Friday, June 05, 2009

Why The Cheap Will Never Get Rich

Written by Robert Kiyosaki

The other day a friend of mine approached me excitedly, saying, "I found the house of my dreams. It's in foreclosure and the bank will sell it to me for a great price."

"How good is the price?" I asked.

"Just before the real estate market crashed, the seller was asking $780,000 for the property. Today, I can buy it from the bank for $215,000. What do you think?" she asked.

"How would I know?" I replied. "All you've given me is the price."

"Yes!" she squealed. "Now my husband and I can afford it."

"Only cheap people buy on price," I replied. "Just because something is cheap doesn't mean it's worth the cost."

I then explained to her one of my most basic money principles: I buy value. I will pay more for value. If I don't like the price, I simply pass. If the seller wants to sell, he will come back with a better price. I let him tell me what he will accept. I know some people love to haggle; personally, I don't. If a person wants to sell, they will sell. If I feel what I am buying is of value, I'll pay the price. Value rather than price has made me rich.

Against my advice, my friend sought financing for her "dream" home.

Fortunately, the bank turned her down. The house was on a busy street in a deteriorating neighborhood. The high school four blocks away was one of the most dangerous schools in the city. Her son and daughter would either have to go to private school or take karate lessons. She is now looking for a cheaper house to buy and has asked her father, who is retired, for help with the down payment. If her past is a crystal ball to her future, she will likely always be cheap and poor, even though she is a good, kind, educated, hard-working person.

My Point of View

What follows are some thoughts on why my friend will probably never get ahead financially -- especially in this market.

1. She and her husband have college degrees but zero financial education. Even worse, neither plans to attend any investment classes. Choosing to remain financially uneducated has caused them to miss out on the greatest bull and bear markets in history. As my rich dad often said, "What you don't know keeps you poor."

2. She is too emotional. In the world of money and investing, you must learn to control your emotions. When you think about it, three of our biggest financial decisions in life are made at times of peak emotional excitement: deciding to get married, buying a home, and having kids.

My dad often said, "High emotions, low intelligence." To be rich, you need to see the good and the bad, the short- and long-term consequences of your decisions. Obviously, this is easier said than done, but it's key to building wealth.

3. She doesn't know the difference between advice from rich people and advice from sales people. Most people get their financial advice from the latter -- people who profit even if you lose. One reason why financial education is so important is because it helps you know the difference between good and bad advice.

As the current crisis demonstrates, our schools teach very little about money management. Millions of people are living in fear because they followed conventional wisdom: Go to school, get a job, work hard, save money, buy a house, get out of debt, and invest for the long term in a well-diversified portfolio of mutual funds. Many people who followed this financial prescription are not sleeping at night. They need a new plan. Had they sought out a little financial education, they might not be entangled in this mess.

A Thank You to Jon Stewart

Speaking of finance experts, I personally want to thank Jon Stewart of 'The Daily Show' for taking on Jim Cramer and CNBC. Jon Stewart did an incredible job of representing the millions of people all over the world who have lost their savings in the market. He was right in saying he thought it "disingenuous" to advise people to invest for the long term through their retirement plans while knowing full well that traders could steal Americans' retirement money by trading in and out of the market. Most traders like Cramer realize that investing in mutual funds for the long term is financial suicide. Cramer should have spoken up, but we all know why CNBC won't let him tell the truth. If he did, the station's advertisers would leave.

While I applaud Cramer for going on 'The Daily Show' and facing the music, I'm afraid he was marginalized by Stewart -- certainly outgunned -- and he has lost his credibility. He may pay an even bigger price if the SEC decides to dig deeper.

Jim Cramer is a very smart man. I watch his show. I just do not follow his advice.

In closing, I will say what I have said for years: We need financial education in our schools. Without it, we cannot tell the good advice from the bad.

Thursday, June 04, 2009

Whatabout Marcus Chin (陈建彬)

I do know Marcus personally, though not close. We used to engage him to perform gigs onboard our vessel and resort for quite a while and whatever recent 'perceived bad publicity' of him covered by the press, it will never cross our mind not to engage him for future gigs with us solely based on moral ground, if at all.

Without a doubt, he is an almost complete artiste, can sing well, a good actor and a versatile host. He may not have attained the level of a superstar despite been in show business for umpteen years, he is nonetheless, a celebrity which, unfortunately is subjected to public scrutiny. Celebrity is still a human being just like anyone of us, he or she still needs to make a living the way he or she knows well. They may be married, divorced or single and for those who are married, they may have extra marital affair but what's the big fuss, really. The latest saga on Marcus, a married man being involved with his manager, a young lady in her 20s has been so widely covered in the Chinese press seemed to have 'pre-judged' him and his girlfriend as guilty of committing a grave crime. He had to explain his personal marriage which is on the rock in front of the TV audience, something I feel he owes nobody any explanation other than his own wife. If their marriage has hit a rock, it is all up to them to handle their own affair, period. This is a wake-up call to the media to leave him to handle his own affair, give him some breathing space. And to all his fans, support him as an artiste first and not to shun him based on his extra marital affair.

Marcus, please continue to give your all as an artiste and never be swayed by negative opinions of others. Cheers to you!

For Friends only - Well Thought Chinese Classical Poem


保重! 祝世界好友周快乐!!!

Monday, June 01, 2009

Singapore Passion Run 2009

Organised by PASSION Card, this run was scheduled on 24 May, Sunday @ East Coast. Both Chua and I registered for the 15 km while Winnie took on the 10 km, her second 10 km run for this year so far.

By far, this was the longest run for me this year which was a litmus test of sorts before the two main events, the Army 21 km half-marathon in August and the mother of marathons, Standard Chartered 42 km marathon.

In our usual practise, at least twice weekly with Chua and Eddie, we are averaging some 10 km per run but admittedly, I was somewhat concerned for Winnie who did not have regular run since her last 10 km in March which she clocked creditable time.

Had arranged with Winnie to pick her up on the morning of 24 May at Fort Road where she parked her car at her sister's place while Chua made his own way to East Coast. After some miscue, I managed to find the carpark near the seafood centre where Chua was already waiting for us. A minute later, all the lots would be gone.

Near but not exactly, we had to walk around 1 km to the start line. It was about 0730 hrs, the run for those runners who had registered in the competitive category had already been flagged off. Chua and I registered in the non-competitive category which was to flag-off at 0745 hrs and Winnie's 10km category was scheduled at 0800 hrs. Did a quick de-tour to the toilet followed by some light warm-up and we then headed for the start line.

The flag-off was slightly delayed and we were finally flagged off at about 0750 or about I think. Chua was pacing me throughout, he could have out-paced me once he moved into high gear. The morning was getting hotter, the sun never seemed to be forgiving as the minute ticked away. I was wondering, boy those who participated in the 5 km and 10 km category will be flagged off past the 0800 hrs had to content with the morning hot sun. For the first 10 km, we did steady pace and along the way, past many runners.

In my usual fashion, I decided not to push to the limit under such weather but knowing my buddy, Chua too well, he wanted to push himself further. I asked Chua to go all out at the last 5 km stretch while I kept a slower pace. Opened up, he did and finally I lost sight of him in the front. It was getting hotter and hotter and despite, all the training I had, this run was one tough one man. I pushed on, keeping a slower pace to the finish. A cute finishing medal was given and cheekily, I asked the young lady who gave me the medal for her name so that I could post her name in my blog but now, I cannot recall her name already (sorry!).

After the run, it was another 1 km walk to the carpark and by then, Chua and Winnie were already waiting for me there, fresh and fully re-charged. Pity, Chua had to go back to work, can't join us for breakfast at our usual haunt...where else, Old Airport Road market lor.

After more than 1 week of waiting, the result is finally out. Winnie clocked 1 hr 11 mins plus for her 10 km event, not bad considering she did not have regular run of late, Chua clocked 1 hr 24 mins plus whereas, I clocked 1 hr 28 mins plus. My aim for the 21 km run in August is under 2 hours and going at this rate, it is still touch-and-go for me and I really need to step up more on longer distance in training now. For Chua, it was a breeze. Hey, not bad an effort for old fella like me and I should stay contented. Good effort, Chua and Winnie! But where was our Eddie, having cold feet?