Monday, June 30, 2014

The Wise Man's Fear by Patrick Rothfuss



I'm a big fan of Patrick Rothfuss' first novel, The Name of The Wind. That novel started slowly before getting you invested in the story of Kvothe Kingkiller, the man who started a continent-wide war.  So I was looking forward to reading this novel, and while I will admit "The Wise Man's Fear" is not as good as "The Name of The Wind", I still find it to be an excellent read.

The story continued the plotline of the previous novel with Kvothe continuing to reveal the truth behind his legend to the king's scribe, Chronicler. Like the previous novel, the main meat of the novel is young Kvothe's time at the prestigious University where he continued his studies in magic and music. At the same time, he is engaged in a vicious feud with fellow student Ambrose and trying to get a patron to alleviate his destitute status.

Like they say; don’t fix what’s not broken.

By the end of the first half of the novel, Kvothe has been arrested for petty crimes and despite defending himself in court, Kvothe attracted negative attention to himself and the University. Faced with a tuition too high to pay, he took a term off and travels far to the east for adventure.

Still in desperate need of a wealthy patron, he got lucky. Stumbling upon an assassination plot, he gains the trust of the Maer Alveron, ruler of the neighboring country Vintas. Maer then send Kvothe off to root out a gang of bandits who were targeting his tax collectors. After that is done, Kvothe then met the fae seductress Felurian. Seduced by her, he then spent time in the fae country where he got his legendary shadow cloak. After leaving the fae, he takes a detour further east where Tempi, a mercenary of the Adem race, formally teach him the Adem's martial arts.

Now, "The Wise Man's Fear" was a critical and commercial success, debuting at the top of the New York Times Fantasy list. I can easily see why.

Young Kvothe is simply a very interesting character. As a young man, he is an appealing young man yet at the same time he is so driven, you can see how he could become the hated person he is in his adult life. He is smart but at the same time, a young man who don't take advice very well.

Many times he was warned about the consequences of his actions but driven as he is, young stubborn Kvothe just couldn't make himself heed them; even when he agrees that they were good advice! He has many things on his agenda but once he decided on a course of action, he cannot be swayed from his course of action. In short, he is a very believable flawed character.

This is helped in large part by Rothfuss' writing. The man can really write. His prose is nothing short of excellent, the pacing is great (once you get used to it) and before long, you will be drawn effortlessly into his story. The novel is also much more subtle than in "The Name of the Wind". He is a good writer who is improving!

Of course the novel isn't perfect. I can understand why Rothfuss decided to spilt the book into two, but I thought the novel really suffered once Kvothe went on his road trip. His time at the University is far superior to his time beyond it.

Also I have to wonder just how long this series will be. "The Kingkiller Chronicle" is supposed to be a trilogy but I fail to see how Rothfuss can finish the whole thing in one novel.

Kvothe is a man who is supposed to know six words he could whisper in a horse's ear that would make it run a hundred miles, turn iron into gold, catch lightning in a jar, know a song that would open any lock, and kill a king. By the end of “The Wise Man’s Fear”, he hasn't done any of that! Even if he up the pace, I fail to see how Rothfuss can do all that in just one novel.

Still "The Wise Man's Fear" is an excellent read. In many ways Rothfuss is the victim of his own success as "The Name of The Wind" may have raised expectations beyond decent common sense but that was just how good "The Name of The Wind" was. Take that out, and you will find and excellent enjoyable read in "The Wise Man's Fear". 

Friday, June 27, 2014

Way Too Lenient


Days after biting Italian defender Giorgio Chiellini, FIFA has suspended Uruguay striker Luis Suarez for 9 international games as well as all football activities for 4 months. This meant that Suarez will miss the rest of the World Cup as well as the first 9 games of the season for his club, Liverpool. The player has also been fined 100,000 Swiss francs (£65,680).

Now reaction to the ban has been widespread and some people are saying that it’s too harsh. I can’t understand why because I’m of the notion that the punishment is way too lenient!

Think about this; Luis Suarez bit a player in Holland and was suspended for 7 games. He bit a player in England and was suspended for 10 games. He now bit a player in Brazil (in the World Cup) and got suspended for 9 games? Can someone tell me why in the world was the punishment LOWER than the punishment handed out in England?

The World Cup is a much bigger stage than the English Premier League (EPL), but the suspension is actually LOWER? Can someone in FIFA please explain that to me? The man is a persistent offender and I for one actually thought the punishment would have been much harsher.  

The 4 month ban is actually 2 months because the EPL only start in late August and the fine is like one week wages for Luis Suarez! You commit the same offence for the third time in the biggest stage in the world and you actually get a LOWER punishment? FIFA might as well throw away their disciplinary code (a maximum ban of 24 matches or two years).

Their code is not worth the paper it is written on. 

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Comics this week


Deadly Class #6- After 5 issues of sex, drugs and death, the ending came with a sad whimper. The road trip from hell hit the fan as Chico finally made his move against Marcus; it’s all very bloody as artist Wes Craig has fun showing the beatdown Marcus took. Now if only someone can tell me why the hell Chico didn’t kill Marcus? He has plenty of chances to do it; he’s a (cop) killer, yet he somehow wasted chance after chance to do Marcus in. Now I know Marcus is the main character here but writer Rick Remender needs to have a better plan of how to save Marcus’ ass than having his allies bored his enemy with talk. It’s been a great series and I look forward to the second in Sep, but the ending of this arc could’ve use some more work.  

Justice League #31- A draft? Lex Luthor figured out where the Batcave was because he felt a…draft? Now I can buy Lex figuring out who Batman is, but…a draft coming from the Batcave? I hope that was meant to be a joke by writer Geoff Johns because it’s too stupid to be anything else.   

Ms. Marvel #5- As I said on civilian-reader, writer Willow Wilson has put together a story of some rarity nowadays; a neighbourhood superhero trying to do her best despite being pretty low on the super-powered totem pole. In an era of big, bigger, biggest, Kamala Khan is cute, fun and interesting as she tries to “level up” (her words, not mine). In short, this series is refreshingly fun. 


Wednesday, June 25, 2014

A Long Ban Is Needed



Yesterday, Uruguay and Italy faced off in a winner-take-all clash in the FIFA World Cup. Winner goes through to the next round, loser goes home. Uruguay won the match 1-0 and will now face Colombia in the next round.

However what everyone was talking about was an off-the-ball incident where Uruguay striker Luis Suarez bit Italy defender Giorgio Chiellini. The Liverpool forward appeared to bite Chiellini just before Uruguay scored their winning goal and if this is true, and the photos are pretty damning, then Suarez need to be banned from the game from a long, long time.

I would like to ask Luis Suarez just what in the world was he thinking! This is the World Cup, you are the star player of your country, and you go out there on the field and bite someone? FIFA need to be strong here; this is already the third time Luis Suarez has done this and they need to hit him hard here. He bit a player in Holland, one in England, and now one in Brazil. Where next; the moon?

FIFA's disciplinary code sets a maximum ban of 24 matches or two years and I say he deserved as much time as FIFA can give him. This is disgraceful and has no place in the world of football.



Tuesday, June 24, 2014

The Blame Game


With seven defeats in their last eight games, the Lions XII’s title defense of the Malaysian Super League has gone up in smoke. With a real chance of missing out on the Malaysia Cup altogether, the finger-pointing game has began.

Coach Fandi Ahmad has been the one most people say should take the blame for the poor showing of the Lions XII this season. Most people are wrong. I think the main responsibility lies not with Fandi or the players, but with the Football Association of Singapore (FAS).

Just read this post I did in Oct 2013; http://hardhitting-nobs.blogspot.sg/2013/10/no-contest.html

Nothing has changed between the start of the season and now. The Lion XII may be having a bad season but what do you expect when you ripped out the core of the team? I may not be a big fan of Fandi Ahmad the coach, but anyone blaming him for the poor season is having short term memory.

The fault lies on with him but with his boss, the FAS. They should have never allowed so many key Lions XII players to leave.

Monday, June 23, 2014

It's Not Our Money


Remember last week when I commented on a video where a retired woman met her MP, Hri Kumar, to ask for a way to get her CPF money? Well, Senior Minister of State for Manpower and Health Amy Khor to issue a statement to “clear” the air.

According to her statement, the retiree in question, Ms Irene Yap, was mistaken as she “does” have some avenue to withdraw her Retirement Account (RA) Savings. She could either apply to receive monthly payouts from her RA or withdraw her RA savings in a lump sum, provided she had property to pledge.

The only thing this statement “cleared” is that I am right. Senior Minister Amy Khor has just admitted that the CPF in my account is not my money. Why else do I have to pledge my property to take out my money?

If my CPF money is really my money, surely I should be able to take it out. If you’re saying I can’t because of the Minimum Sum, which is $198,500, that’s something; but if you’re saying I can’t because I didn’t pledge property to take it out, that’s something else entirely!

I have to ask (and I don’t think I’m alone) why in the world do I have to pledge my property to take out my money? That’s makes no sense. However, if it’s not my money; then it would make perfect sense.

So the only thing Senior Minister Amy Khor has clarified is that I had been right all along. The CPF savings is not our money.

Friday, June 20, 2014

Comics this week


Original Sin #4- After having Bucky Barnes dismember Nick Fury in the last issue, writer Jason Aaron turns the story on its head again as Act 2 of Original Sin begins. The last page has yet another WTF moment as Aaron show that even when he drop the pacing, Original Sin’s story can still hold its own. With the Avengers scattered to the winds due to the Watcher's secrets being exposed, Aaron can finally focus on the various team-up. Now having everyone meet up is great fun, but I have to wonder the reason of having the Avengers in the series if they’re going to disappear after 3 issues. Still having Punisher meeting Rocket Raccoon for the first time is a hoot and the positives outweigh the negatives by a wide margin. Original Sin is still going strong! 

Thursday, June 19, 2014

If You Pay; Then Shut It!


The World Cup may have already started, but Singaporeans are still complaining about the $112 you need to pay to watch the World Cup here in Singapore. Arguably the highest price in the world, Singaporeans have to pay this price to Singtel to watch the World Cup here.

Here's a suggestion to everyone; don't watch.

That's what I'm doing. Every time there's a World Cup, I will watch it. In the last World Cup, I managed to watch every game. Granted not every game was live when I watched it, but I managed to catch every match. I honestly  can't remember the last World Cup I didn't watch, I think it may be France or earlier, but for the first time in god know how long, I'm not watching it.

The reason is that I just can't justify to myself to pay $112 for a one month tournament. To me, it's just not worth it. With all the complains, it seems a lot of Singaporeans agree with me. If that's the case, then DON'T pay! If you really want to watch the World Cup that badly, then pay the money and shut up.

Get use to it, You're going to be paying more in 2018. 

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

The Answer Is YES!

Should PRs Leaving Singapore be Allowed to Keep All of Their HDB Sales Proceeds?

This is the title of an article that first appeared on the MoneySmart blog. The question of the article is whether Singapore Permanent Residents (PRs) should be allowed to withdraw all their CPF money and Housing and Development Board (HDB) sales when they leave Singapore.

In my mind, the answer to that question is simple; YES!

Of course they should be allowed to withdraw all their money. What's the reason foreigners are coming to Singapore in the first place? They are here to make money. So once they are done, they will want to take their money out when they leave Singapore. What's wrong with that?

For Singaporeans who think they should not be allowed to do so, think about this; what will happen to the money if they are not allowed to do so? The money in their CPF will stay in the CPF! Do you think the Singapore government will move that money to the accounts of Singaporeans? Dream on if you think the answer to that is a "yes".

Singaporeans have little to no control over the timing and amount of their CPF money they can withdraw and many Singaporeans are angry with the government on this. Let's not allow the government to do the same thing to our foreign workers as well. 

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

The Strange Japanese Football Fans



Every time the World Cup starts, you will get some strange stories about it. In the last World Cup, it was Paul the Octopus. Although it’s still early days, this World Cup may be the time of the Japanese fans.

Even as the Ivory Coast came from behind to beat their team 2-1 in Japan’s opening match in Brazil, the Japanese fans still made time after the final whistle to clean up after themselves. As the match ended and most fans left the stadium, the fans of the Blue Samurais walked up and down the aisles filling trash bags. According to reports, this is the customary practice at Japanese sporting events and something Japanese fans have carried over to previous World Cups.

I’ve never heard of it before, and I think I know why. It's something so unusual and strange, people in other parts of the world probably have no idea what to make of it! Fans in the rest of the world not only don’t do this, I can say with some confidence that they never even consider doing it.

So here it is; the first strange story of the World Cup. The strange civic-minded Japanese football fans; take a bow! 

Monday, June 16, 2014

Minimum Sum Requirement

With all the press given to it, you would be forgiven if you think the CPF issue is only about the legal action taken by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong against Roy Ngerng. You would be wrong however and a video doing the rounds in Singapore show why.

In the video, a retired woman met her MP, Hri Kumar, to ask for a way to get her CPF money. With the new the Minimum Sum requirement, the 76-year old retired teacher is now unable to access her retirement fund. The main problem with the video wasn't the complain by the old woman, it's a common site nowadays with the CPF, but the fact that the old woman is being penalized for keeping her money in the CPF.

The common wisdom in Singapore dictate that you cash out your CPF the first chance you get. Whether it is 55, 60, 65; the moment you reach the age, you cashed out your CPF and get your money in your hands. This retired woman did not. Whatever the reason, maybe she thought her CPF money would be safer with the government, she kept her money in her CPF and now probably can't ever access it.

This is a huge problem for the Singapore government. The Minimum Sum requirement is exactly penalizing Singaporeans who trust the government the most! Singaporeans who did not cash out their CPF, like the Singapore government encouraged, are the ones who are suffering the most from the new Minimum Sum requirement.

Honestly, I don't really have much sympathy with the retired teacher. Yes, I know it sounds terrible, but she should have cash out her CPF the first chance she got. Not doing so was a stupid and silly mistake to make and now, like it or not, the Singapore government need to tweak the Minimum Sum requirement for people like her. Not doing so would cost them big time in the next election. 

Friday, June 13, 2014

Superhero Fatigue



With everything from X-Men to the upcoming Guardians of the Galaxy, comic fans like myself are spoil for choice when it comes to deciding which movie to watch in the cinemas. However with the slate of superheroes movies on offer nowadays, it’s no wonder people are wondering if there will be superhero fatigue setting in soon.

I find myself wondering that as well.

Like they say, there’s a thing called “too much of a good thing” and I have to wonder if superhero movies are reaching that point. The cause of my worries is the fact that according to a new report, Warner Bros.’ intend to release 7 movies in the next several years based on DC superheroes.

According to the unconfirmed report, films based on Wonder Woman, the Flash, Green Lantern, the Justice League, and more are in the pipeline and casting has already been done in some of them. Dwayne Johnson (The Rock) is in line to be in a Shazam movie (with the actor perhaps playing Black Adam) while Joseph Gordon-Levitt is developing a Sandman movie. According to the report, the schedule of Warner goes like this;

May 2016 – Batman v Superman
July 2016 – Shazam
Xmas 2016 – Sandman
May 2017 – Justice League
July 2017 – Wonder Woman
Xmas 2017 – Flash and Green Lantern team-up
May 2018 – Man of Steel 2

Outside these movies, if things go well, Warner will also consider individual Wonder Woman, Flash, and GL movies. That means if most (or even some) of these movies are a hit, we may get 10 Warner/DC movies in the next 4 years!

Add that to the Marvel movies from Marvel Studio and Fox, and I see big problems on the horizon. So despite being a massive comic book fan (I have been collecting for over 20 years), I am hoping some of these movies are flops.   

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Comics this week

Astro City #13-What happen when a god of music, love and merriment comes to a well-run city like Astro City? Total chaos as writer Kurt Busiek crafted a magical tale of a god summoned to Astro City and the chaos he caused just by his very presence. You probably will get confused by this issue, as usual Busiek’s writing takes no prisoners, but once you get pass the hump, you’ll find an issue full of the usual quirky excellence of Astro City.

Green Lantern Corps #32- I find the “Uprising” crossover to be a case of 2 halves. On the main GL title, it is pretty okay; when the crossover reached the GLC title, things are less fine. The art by Bernard Chang was sloppy and has all the looks of a rush job. It is especially poor when you consider how well put together the story by writer Van Jansen is. Sodam Yat’s understanding that he was the cause for the destruction of his world and species could have been great in the hands of a good artist with time to do the job. Too bad it was not the case here.

Superman/Wonder Woman #9- Thank goodness I never follow the “Doomed” crossover! The summary on the front page gives me a good rundown on how the crossover is doing and I dig the idea of Superman going into space, but I’m just waiting for the crossover to be over.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

World Cup 2014- The Group Stage


The World Cup countdown continues and this time I will give you the breakdown of the groups and who I think will get through to the second round.

Group A
Brazil, Croatia, Mexico, Cameroon

It’s not for no reason people are saying Brazil have been given an easy group. This Mexican team is the worst in living memory (so say the Mexican people themselves) and neither Cameroon nor Croatia is going to cause the Brazilians much problems. As it is held in Brazil, I think Cameroon will probably join Brazil in the second round.

Group B
Spain, Netherlands, Chile, Australia

People are saying Group B is a very strong group but for the life of me, I just don’t get it. I think Spain and the Netherlands will go through this group with ease. The Aussies and Chileans have no chance.

Group C
Colombia, Greece, Ivory Coast, Japan

A very tight group with all 4 teams capable of getting results and going through to round 2. With the Toure brothers and Didier Drogba in the team, Ivory Coast is the favorite but it’s hardly a sure thing. I think Japan could join them there.

Group D
Uruguay, England, Italy, Costa Rica

Costa Rica is the whipping boy of the group but the other 3 teams are not only capable of going into the second round, they are capable of going far into the tournament. However with the injury to Luis Suarez, Uruguay’s chances have taken a huge hit so I will take England and Italy to go through.

Group E
Switzerland, France, Honduras, Ecuador

I would say this is the easiest group of them all. I don’t rate this French team very highly and although Switzerland is a very well-drilled, organized side, they don’t have any top world-class player. Honduras is too weak to be considered a threat while Ecuador only plays well at home. However 2 teams have to go through, so I will take France and Ecuador.

Group F
Argentina, Bosnia, Nigeria, Iran

Barring some miracle from God, Argentina will go through this group. Bosnia-Hercegovina has Manchester City striker Edin Dzeko while Nigeria are the African Champion. You also can’t ignore Iran but I think it will be Nigeria joining Argentina in the second round.

Group G
Germany, Portugal, Ghana, USA

Will Cristiano Ronaldo be ready for Portugal? That’s the main question in this group as the World Player of the Year will carry his country’s hopes on his shoulders. The Germans will go through to round 2 and if Ronaldo is fit, Portugal will join them. If he is not, then it’s open season with Ghana having a very good chance.

Group H
Belgium, Algeria, Russia, South Korea

Belgium has some world-class players like Manchester City defender Vincent Kompany and Chelsea midfielder Eden Hazard, but Russian coach Fabio Capello has got his team to play in a very compact style. This is a tough group to call with Algeria and South Korea being tough be beat but I have to go with Russia and Belgium. 

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Just Report Sick Stupid


As a gamer myself, I can understand the need gamers have to just keep on playing. Ignoring food, sleep and work, we all just want to continue. I’ve once played till 5am in the morning so believe men when I say I understand.

However, there are some things you just should not do (even for gaming). On the top of that (short) list is…reporting your own kidnapping! As insane, crazy and ridiculous as it sounds, that’s what happened in China.

A recent Chinese college graduate named Liu was tired after a night spent gaming with his girlfriend in an internet cafĂ©. As he didn’t want to work, he showed up at work looking shaken and wearing only his underwear. He told his co-workers an incredible story; he had been grabbed outside his apartment, shoved into a van, robbed, and eventually dumped into a ditch.

Needless to say, his coworkers immediately reported the fake robbery and kidnapping to police who quickly uncovered the truth. Liu was promptly arrested and is currently being detained on charges of filing a false police report.

So let this be a lesson to all gamers out there; next time you want to escape going to work…just report sick. 

P.S; this goes for the upcoming World Cup as well. 

The Main Problem With The CPF

As an estimated 6,000 Singaporeans gathered at Hong Lim Park to attend the “Return Our CPF” protest, I am going to say something that might cause some offence to the speakers at the protest; "They are missing the plot!" As the many speakers at the event raised many valid questions on the CPF, one thing has not changed; Singaporeans still don't know what is happening to our CPF money.

To me, that's the big question of our CPF.

The speakers at the protest, organised by blogger and activist Han Hui Hui, seem more interested to question the low interest on the CPF, the inability to opt out of the Minimum Sum requirement, and the age citizens are allowed to withdraw their CPF money; however many are skipping on the problem of what is the CPF investing in. To me, that's a mistake.

No one knows where our CPF money is being invested in, and for me personally, that's more important than the "low" interest of the CPF. I mean if the investment is not panning out, then there's a reason for the "low" interest". Singaporeans will not be happy but the majority will understand. The problem is the question of what and where the CPF is being invested in and how well (or not) the investments are doing. To me, that's the big problem of the CPF.

In some countries, they are very clear on what and where their retirement funds are being invested in. In Singapore, this is a black hole. That's the main problem with the CPF. 

Friday, June 6, 2014

World Cup Predications

With just 1 week till the World Cup, these are my predications for the top 4 favorites of the tournament.

Spain- Don’t be surprise if coach Vicente Del Bosque become the second coach in history to win successive World Cups because for me, the Spanish are the team to beat. The players may be older, but between Iniesta, Xavi, Busquets, and Fabregas, Spain still have the best midfield in the world. Add in Diego Costa, and Spain’s attack look very impressive. I know a lot of people have written them off but they won the 2010 World Cup and the European championship in both 2008 & 2012. This is a team that knows how to win!

Brazil- I’m going to say something crazy here; I don’t think Brazil is going to win the World Cup. Yes, I know they are the hosts; they have an 11-year unbeaten record on home soil; and are everyone’s favorite; but I am just not convinced by this team. Brazil may have talented players but their attack is based around Neymer and to me, that’s a problem. Brilliant on his day, Neymer is unfortunately one of those players that run hot-and cold. Basically Brazil is trying to win the World Cup with an attack based around an inconsistent player. Add that to the pressure of playing on home soil, and you get an implosion just waiting to happen.  

Germany- You have to give Joachim Low credit; he is not a coach who shy away from making gutsy call. He is taking his team to Brazil with only one striker; 36 year old Miroslav Klose. Even for a team that plays with the “false nine” formation, that takes balls. Yes, they have an incredible array of attacking midfielders but Ozil had a bad season in England, Khedira just came back from a long injury and I think Marco Reus need someone upfront to play off. The Germans will do well but I think they will come out short again.

Argentina- Argentina’s fortune will depend solely on Lionel Messi. Their bold 4-3-3 formation depends on Messi finding space between the opponent’s defense and midfield and strikers Sergio Aguero and Gonzalo Higuain finishing off whatever Messi managed to create. However the defense and goalkeeping departments are huge problems and a good attacking team will have a chance against them.

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Comics this week


Hinterland #8- Writer Ian Edginton’s idea of an apocalypse caused by fantasy creatures is finally given full voice as he expands his story beyond being just a survival story. We see ogres, fairies, trolls, centaurs, satyrs, vampires, Sidhe, humans, and god know what else, all trying to crave out a place in the world and as the pieces of the world fits and clicks together, we can clearly see that Edginton has a grand plan for everything. Together with the art of Francesco Trifogli, Hinterkind stands unique in both story and artwork. In fact, you can argue that it is almost too unique to be a hit but that doesn’t change what Hinterkind is; it is a great series!

Original Sin #3- Deeper and deeper down the rabbit hole we go as writer Jason Aaron’s murder mystery kick into high gear. As we see the fallout, and power, of the Watcher’s eye, I must say it's great to finally see all those team-ups finally doing something instead of just sitting around going somewhere. What’s even better is that all the teams are going something important as we see how the various threads converge. Special mention must also be given to Mike Deodato Jr. His art here is superb (corpse of a dead planet; WOW) and that last scene; if it sticks, this is one Marvel event book that WILL make a difference for years to come.

Sinestro #2- Well, that didn’t take long. After the debut issue where Sinestro meet up with his Corps, everyone knew it was only a matter of time before Sinestro take control of the Yellow Lanterns and clean house. I just didn’t think it will happen in #2! In a way, it’s good that writer Cullen Bunn get the obvious plotlines out of the way to concentrate on new things; but I can’t help but wonder whether Bunn has been too quick on the trigger. The complex relationship Sinestro has with the Yellow Lanterns is something Bunn could have mined and having him come in and kill everyone who could oppose him seen to throw that out the window. The series still has great potential but throwing potentially good storylines seem a strange way to start a series.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

The Roy Ngerng Problem


When Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong initiated legal action against Roy Ngerng over remarks the blogger posted alleging that CPF monies held in member accounts had been criminally misappropriated, it seems like another classic case of the Singapore government using the courts to silence their critics.

However, to everyone’s surprise, the PM's defamation suit has quickly become a PR disaster for the Singapore government!

Faced with a lawsuit in the High Court, where the typical minimum value of claims for damages is $250,000, Ngerng decided to raise money through crowd-funding in order to fight the case. In this “David and Goliath” matchup, Singaporeans has responded to his plea to the tune of $72,000.

Just to prove this was no joke; Ngerng published the transaction history of his bank account on his crowd-funding platform and it showed that thus far, 1,104 people had contributed more than $72,000 to Ngerng. This has exceeded his target of $70,000, but the thing that caught everyone’s attention is the fact that Ngerng has managed to get the sum in just 4 days!

Ouch! That sum has lay to rest any idea the Singapore government has of the lawsuit shutting Ngerng up. In fact, the show of support from Singaporeans has given the issue new life; something the lawsuit was designed to avoid in the first place. In short, the defamation suit has boomerang on the government and the longer the suit is there, the more publicity Ngerng’s stance on the CPF will get.

So I think PM Lee needs to quickly decide if the lawsuit is worth the trouble. I don’t think it is and if the PM agrees with me on that, it would be better if he just cancel the lawsuit. Let’s be serious; Roy Ngerng is just a no-name blogger. There’s no need to make a hero out of him.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

No Defense Of China


At the Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore, China is getting hot under the collar as it come under criticism from both U.S and Japan. At the security forum, U.S Defence Secretary Chuck Hagel has been quoted as saying Beijing’s "destabilizing actions" in the South China Sea region has a negative effect on the peace of the region. This is a sentiment echoed by Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

China has responded by accusing U.S and Japan of ganging up on China. They are right. U.S and Japan are ganging up on China but they are doing so because China is just such an easy target it would be stupid for them not to do so.

I mean you just have to look at the number of territorial disputes China has with its neighbors to know why. Almost every country on this side of the Pacific has a territorial dispute with China and this include China’s one-time potential ally, Vietnam. It escaped no one that no country at the Shangri-La Dialogue has come out to either defend China or criticized the U.S and Japan on this matter.

The logic for that is simple. If any country defends China, they may get into the good books of China but they will also get into the bad books of the U.S, Japan, Vietnam, the Philippines and others. As powerful as China is, they are just not worth that much trouble. 

Monday, June 2, 2014

Prisoner Exchange Is Normal


It should have been an easy case where everyone can rally around. U.S Sgt Bowe Bergdahl, 28, was released by the Taliban on Saturday in exchange for five senior Afghan detainees held in Guantanamo Bay.

This should have been a simple case of 2 sides in a war who decided it’s time to exchange prisoners. It happens all the time throughout history in almost every war ever fought by mankind. It’s normal.

Except it seems in America! U.S President Barack Obama is being criticized for exchanging prisoners by his Republican opponents. They are claiming the president is “soft on terrorism” for making a deal to release 5 prisoners for one.

I don’t get it.

First off; it’s not terrorism because the Taliban is fighting American forces who invaded Afghanistan in 2001. Yes, they have their reasons but an invasion is an invasion. Secondly, the U.S forces are pulling out. Thirdly, the alternative to prisoner exchange is to leave Sgt Bergdahl behind in Afghanistan.

So I cannot understand how President Obama can be criticized for this deal. It is grossly unfair to him, to Sgt Bergdahl, and to all U.S servicemen currently serving their country throughout the world. President Obama’s opponents are openly saying it is okay to leave a solider behind just to score political points.

They should be taken to task for this. Prisoners of war should NOT be a topic to score political points on.