Getting tough on the US isn’t easy

William Pesek wrote an article in the Today paper titled, ‘Getting tough on China isn’t easy’ on 22 Jul. He quoted Hillary Clinton’s statement in 2009, ‘How do you deal toughly with your banker?’ I have thus redirected the same question and ask, ‘How do you deal toughly with your gangster debtor?’

China has bought up over US$1.3 trillion of Treasury Bills and in a way financing and paying for the Americans’ extravagance that often ended in China bashing. Most of America’s international policies were targeted at China and backed up by a huge military expenditure, to contain China, ironically paid by China. And the Americans are complaining about China, how to contain China to prevent it from overtaking the Americans as the world’s number One economy and military power.

This is the strangest relationship of the 21st Century. China paying the Americans to support a huge military force that they used to threaten China in every disagreement, dispute or contested situation, ranging from economics, trade deficits to regional squabbles far away from the American continent.

And the best part, the US is trying to get tough with China, talking tough with China and very eager to use force against China to prove who is in charge, financed by China. And China is paying for the aggressive and provocative stance of the Americans. The Americans are the friendly party, the non provocative one. The Chinese are the aggressive one, the provocateur. And the Americans are sending its military everywhere to confront the Chinese in business suits and bags of goods to trade.

From China’s perspective, it must be very tough lending so much money to a thug, an international gangster that only believed in the use of force and went about carry guns and bombs instead of peaceful negotiation. And this thug is threatening not to pay what he owes to China and devising all kinds of schemes to wash away its debt, printing money and more money that China cannot do anything about. Would China be able to get its money back if this gangster borrower decides not to pay? It is really very tough when the gangster puts his big gun on the table in every discussion as a show of force.

China is really finding it very difficult to get tough with this borrower, with debt up to his eyebrows, and demanding to borrow more when it does not have the same big gun to bring to the table to say no. Isn’t it precarious to lend so much money to a thug that China has no means of overpowering and worst, the thug is challenging the lender to a fight whenever an opportunity presents itself? It is playing wargames in China’s courtyard and telling China what can you do about it.

Who is finding it tough with who?

Kopi Level - Green. Nearly Blue. Thank you and kopi on me on 23 Aug at Hong Lim.

CPF – What is there to tweak?

To many CPF members, all they want is to get their money back at 55. What is there to tweak? To the govt, it could mean a few things. They believe they were doing all the right things and could afford to be deaf. Now when the muffler had be snatched away, they found the noise too painful to bear, and with a lot of genuine complaints that cannot be ignored, that what the govt was doing to the CPF was unacceptable. Apparently the govt is acknowledging that not all is well.

Credit must go to Roy and Hui Hui and their team of speakers, not forgetting the protestors that spent time and money to get to Hong Lim, rain or shine. No one can keep a rotting carcase in a box forever without the stench reaching out to hit everyone.

Now is tweaking time instead of scheming time. And the govt is going to tweak the CPF, but it is still not going to return the money to the people at 55. This part die die cannot be tweaked. So, would all the impending tweaks mean anything or change anything?

What is the main issue? What is the main bugbear? Would the tweaking deal with the real problem, the real unhappiness of the people?

What do you think? Roy, please tell them the truths, gently, nicely. If they don’t understand or don’t want to understand, keep repeating, keep repeating.

The govt is still practicing selective listening. The part on returning the money at 55 is still not heard, would not be heard.

Kopi Level - Green. Nearly Blue. Thank you. Kopi for those going to Hong Lim on 23 Aug on me.


The Western wolf pack gnarling at Putin

Shooting down a civilian aircraft and killing so many innocent people is simply unacceptable, bad. 298 passengers and crew died for nothing and someone must pay for this crime. Practically all the European leaders, including Australia, are up in arms with fingers pointing in the eyes of Vladimir Putin. Guilty! And there is Australia’s Tony Abbott jumping the gun again, making a guilty comment on the Russians without needing any confirmation of evidence.

More sanctions will be up against the Russians. Of course, if guilty, the Russians deserve it. They deserve world condemnation, not only from the Western powers.

How many million Iraqis, innocent civilians were killed by the fake invasion of Iraq on WMD charges? David Cameron is thumping down the Russians, telling the Russians, shooting down the M17 was unacceptable. Did his predecessor say anything about faking a lie to invade a country and killing millions of the innocent civilians as unacceptable? Oh, he couldn’t. He was part of the party that made the decision and invaded Iraq. Did any Western power condemn the invasion of Iraq as crimes against humanity?

They are going to charge Putin for crimes against humanity. No, I am not defending the Russians or Putin. They need to answer for this crime if they are guilty. Is there anyone, any Western power, standing up to point a finger at George Bush and Tony Blair for crimes against humanity for the millions of Iraqis killed and wounded. No, it was not a war. It was a framed lie to invade a country. Only Mahathir has the decency to call a spade a spade.

Hypocrisy? Anyone say hypocrisy? Wait till they nominate George Bush and Tony Blair for the Nobel Peace Prize for the peace they brought to Iraq.

Kopi Level - Green

President Jokowi

I always find him a lighter version of Obama. Don’t you people think he looks like Obama? Now we have two presidents with Indonesian connections.

The election of Jokowi as the new President of Indonesia is the continuation of a winning streak for the country since Gus Dur. Indonesia has enjoyed the blessing of the last few presidents who were more progressive, economy driven and honourable. Yudhoyono has done very well to keep the Indonesia polity and economy on an even keel and growing in peace and stability. This election would be very different without Yudhoyono’s calming and firm hands to ensure that no dirty business was allowed to spoil the party. This is Yudhoyono’s greatest legacy in an election that started with a big dark cloud hanger in the air. Many bad and ugly things could happen and Jokowi would be in no position to do anything but to face defeat.

As I said earlier, when a country is blessed to do well, good men and women would step forward to lead the country. If Jokowi had lost, Indonesia would be in for a tough time, and so would be the stability of the region. Indonesia could see any term of progressive govt and policies instead of politicking and frauds.

Look at China and the USA. China too is blessed with a continuous string of good men and women at the helm and is growing richer by the days. China would be in deep shit if Bo Xi Lai and his gang would to be in charge today instead of Xi Jinping. On the other hand the USA is blessed with some clowns in the Presidency and teams of evil men and women till today. And the USA is going down, unstoppable. And looks like it is going to get worse with Hillary Clinton flirting to be the next President and the Americans love her. The USA deserves Hillary to bring an end to Pax Americana. That is the fate of the Americans.

When countries are to do well, good men and women would appear. On the contrary, when a country is on the decline, average men and women and rascals will take over the rein to hasten the fall.

Indonesia is lucky to have President Jokowi and a new team in charge, a clean slate not tarnish or implicated by historical baggages.

Kopi Level - Yellow

CPF savings backed by Govt’s substantial assets

This is what Tharman said about your CPF savings, ‘Singaporeans who wonder if their CPF monies are safe can rest assured, because their CPF savings are backed by a govt that has substantial assets in excess of its liabilities’. In the same line of thinking, the Americans need not worry about the debts they owed to the whole world as they are backed by substantial assets in excess of their liabilities, ie the land from LA to New York and Chicago to Houston.. When forced to pay up, they could sell their aircraft carriers and their nuclear arsenals. Or they could sell the Rocky Mountains as well. Similarly the Greece govt needs not file for bankruptcy. They could sell their islands, the ancient ruins and whatever.

Are we supposed to feel assured by this kind of statements and this kind of asset backings? Would we be comfortable if the CPF money is gone and the govt starts to patch up the holes by selling the power stations, the heritage sites, SIA, DBS etc etc if the Net Investment Returns Contribution(NIRC) is not enough. Oops, I forgot, we have many billions or trillions of reserves to take on the first charge.

OK, OK, now I am feeling quite assured. At worst, just sell a few islands or the whole island. But this is hardly possible as it is impossible to lose so much that we need to sell the whole country right? We have so many valuable assets to sell just in case. Our CPF have a lot of assets to back it up, very very safe.

What do you think? Safe or not?

Kopi Level - Yellow


CPF is not just a game

Chuan Jin used the analogy of a game to describe what is happening to the CPF scheme at the CPF Forum organized by the Institute of Policy Studies. He was referring to the changing conditions and said that the rules of the game had changed, conditions had changed. The CPF scheme is not about a game but about the people’s life savings for retirement. The govt must get this straight and not to confuse with govt pension schemes where the fund comes from the public coffer. The govt can change all the rules of a pension scheme, no one will care or object to it. The money in the CPF scheme comes from the pocket of the people, saving for their retirement. Please don’t suka suka change the rules without the people’s consent.

The compulsion to save in the first part of the people’s life, up to 55 years old, is a necessary evil. The second part or the next phase must be the return of the money to the savers. It is as simple as that. The govt has no moral right to keep the people’s money at its own pleasure. Legislating it to be legal is still not right. Taking this further, the govt might as well legislate the savings of the people in the banks, like in Greece and take a portion of it?

Put it simply, the money must be returned to the people at 55. Period. Given the changing circumstances and life expectancy, the younger generations may have to relook at what is a reasonable age to take back their savings. For those in their 50s and above, they should be taking back all their savings at 55. The good hearted govt can think of ways to design favourable and attractive schemes like annuity plans, or savings plans with higher interest rates to entice the people to leave their money in such schemes, VOLUNTARILY, after 55. The people must be allowed to exercise their choice on what they want to do with their money, NOT the govt’s money. This is basic human decency! Can the boys and girls understand this?

No more funny schemes to retain the money in the CPF compulsorily because the boys and girls said so. The govt can no longer treat the people as daft peasants of the 3rd world, unthinking, irresponsible with their money and helpless. The people are well educated, well informed and definitely not daft, definitely smarter than many of the policy makers.

And what is this thing that people must keep on contributing to their CPF regardless of how old they are when they have to apply or renew their licences? After certain age, it is time to take out the savings, time to stop savings for tomorrow that can really be the next day or the next hour. For those who have a lot of money, they can go on and on saving even if they are 100 years old. Those are different kind of people.

What say you, boys and girls?

Kopi Level - Green

SIA no longer the best airline

For so many years we have taken for granted that SIA was the best airline in the world. The latest result, SIA was not first, not second, but third best in the world. No panic, it is just one of those things. We cannot always be number One right?

We are slowly getting accustomed to the new normal, to be not the best, to accept errors, almost daily breakdowns of public transports as the new normal. No longer were the days when the CEOs would wet their pants when things went wrong. Would there be worrying faces among the top management in SIA or among the political leaders? Don’t think so.

I think there is no need to worry too. We just need to bring in more foreign talents into SIA and we will be back to number One spot soon. The problem with SIA now must be the lack of foreign talents and Singapore Girls no longer motivated to join SIA. Our Singapore Girls were once unbeatable in their graces and service. What is happening?

We need the foreign talents to uplift SIA and teach our local girls how to serve well and regain the top spot as the number One airline in the world. Maybe never mind, getting tired of being number One.

Kopi Leveln - Green