Monthly Archives: August 2011

Cool tech tip

Saw this on feed:

“@climagic youtube-dl -q -o- | mplayer – cache 1000 – # Watch youtube streaming directly to mplayer”

So, do yum install youtube-dl mplayer on your Fedora machines, then you can pull in youtube videos with the youtube-dl command and then pipe it (the “|”) to the video player, mplayer and watch it immediately. No need for a browser and this is really cool.

Naturally, if all you wanted was to download the youtube video and keep a copy, just use youtube-dl [URL].

You can replace mplayer with vlc as well so the one above would look like this:

youtube-dl -q -o- | vlc


Why bother voting for the president?

Indeed, why bother?

The President of the Republic Of Singapore is 95% ceremonial and 5% custodial. Does it matter who then the president is? Does it really matter that for the 5%, the person has to have managed S$100 million dollar businesses etc? Does it matter that the president knows exactly how much Singapore has in its reserves? Would knowing that figure make a difference? Don’t we all make daily decisions on spending and have in our minds the checks and balances constantly running? Will it not be the case with governmental spending?

The former prime minister, Lee Kuan Yew, felt that it was important that the president be someone who can be a “keeper of the second key” in releasing funds from the reserves. LKY, given the absolute power his party had (and has) in parliament, pushed through the changes in the constitution to cater for an elected president with the explicit mandate (some say moral authority) to reject or approve reserve-releasing requests.

The citizens do not know how and when the government of the day requests for funds to be drawn down and for the president to agree. We hear that the unelected elected 6th president, S. R. Nathan (unelected, because he got into office unopposed because of the abomination called walkovers) approved 27 draw downs during his tenure. Did we know of these? Shouldn’t the system be transparent? Shouldn’t the Accountant General or the Ministry of Finance disclose this? Correct me if I am wrong about not knowing the many instances President Nathan agreed to release the monies.

So, if all the elected president’s moral authority by virtue of being elected by the people rests in the 5% of his role, what should matter is the 95% of his office. The president is the head of state. He represents the unifying, agreeable, approachable, almost fatherly figure for the nation.

The president represents the country to the world and is the holder of the highest office of the land. He has to be above all, accommodating of all views and be a great influencer to sooth coarse and sharp issues. He should reach out to all Singaporeans (whether in country or outside) to come to the rally call of Singapore.

As the US Naval officer of the 18th/19th century, Stephen Decatur said: “Our Country! In her intercourse with foreign nations may she always be in the right; but right or wrong, our country!” Or to put in another way, “my country, right or wrong, warts and all”.

So, likewise, the president. I recall on my enlistment day, over thirty years ago, I pledged allegiance to the President of the Republic of Singapore. When my sons enlist, they too would be pledging allegiance to the President. That means, I cannot afford to have a president who I cannot be proud of. I cannot have a president who comes across as uncouth, boorish, know-it-all and unwilling (or seemingly unwilling) to compromise.

I watched the televised statements from the four candidates last night. As I have indicated over the last seven or so days, I have been increasingly leaning towards Tan Jee Say over Tan Cheng Bock. But this last broadcast has caused me to change my mind. I am particularly thrilled to hear Tan Cheng Bock mention his wife as being part of his team and that should he become president, she will be a wonderful first lady. As my wife later noted to me, the fact that only Tan Cheng Bock acknowledged his wife and praised her was reason enough for my wife to vote for Tan Cheng Bock. Suffice to say, that gesture has also affirmed my vote for Tan Cheng Bock.

So, in about 10 hours or so, I will be casting my vote for the Seventh President of Republic of Singapore.

And the vote will be for Dr Tan Cheng Bock, President of the Republic of Singapore. And to President S. R. Nathan, thank you for your service.

Majulah Singapura.

Presidential Elections is August 27

As we get closer to August 27, it has been evidently clear to me that this presidential election will be a re-run of the general elections held in May in how the citizens of Singapore will vote.

The President Tan that will emerge early morning of August 28 will NOT be a Tony. Why in spite of all the “endorsements” from various trade unions and associations? Because none of them are endorsing him with the approval of their constituent membership.  It is the leaders of those entities that are doing it – at the behest of the NTUC Secretary General, a PAP minister himself.

While I am surprised that the newspaper group who Tony presided over as their chairman has yet to endorse him, it might just be done before polling day. Even that won’t help him to win.

Let’s look at some of the statistics of voting patterns.  GE2011 showed 40% voting for a non-PAP candidate. One GRC was wrested from the PAP. So, going into this PE, Tony can be assured of NOT GETTING that 40%. By all reckoning, there probably is a 25%-30% dyed-in-wool PAP supporters who could possibly split votes between Tony and Cheng Bock.

I would assume that those who are in Ayer Rajah constituency (now part of the West Coast GRC) who had consistently returned Cheng Bock to office would be voting for him.

From all accounts, Tony’s stint in the Sembawang GRC as an MP was not a happy one in that he would delegate his Meet-The-People sessions to his GRC-mates which means that Tony does not have the support there.

Then add the White Horse factor of Tony’s son, Patrick. Tony has not come clean (nor has his son) about how Patrick was able to get an extended disruption from NS and dubious postings to the Defense Medical and Environment Research Institute and National Cancer Center, especially during the time Tony was defense minister. Do you think that if Tony gets the presidency, Patrick would be able to show his face and not be asked about how he was able to dodge NS? Tony is not going to his son any favours by continuing to brush aside the allegations.

So, that leaves Jee Say, Cheng Bock and Kin Lian.

About Kin Lian: I think he is a smart and possibly likeable person. Yes, he did spend some years as a PAP cadre member, but I think that is all in the past and of no consequence. Kin Lian has proven his business acumen at NTUC Income. I know that there are many people in the insurance industry that have nothing but cuss words for him, but looking at someone who grew a business – even if a cooperative – it is no small task. I think his ideas of forming his own council of advisers is very laudable.  I think there is a real need to institute an ombudsman system in our political landscape and perhaps his council of advisers could be an arm of it, or may be not.

Jee Say is an enigma. He has good ideas and is forthright in stating it. He does, sometimes, come across as a bit boorish and unpolished. Perhaps the fire from the GE2011 is still burning in him. I particularly like his stand against capital punishment. That to me is reason enough to vote for him. He clearly is capable of being a good president.

Cheng Bock. Of the two Drs, Cheng Bock is probably the more likeable and down-to-earth bloke. He has a mind of his own proven over the years by being a PAP MP and poking the government every now and then. I am disappointed that he, as a medical doctor, is in favour of capital punishment but perhaps he can be persuaded. Watch these videos.

If I were to arrange the four Tans on a political scale with PAP on the left and Anti-PAP on the right as the two extremes, it would be Tony, Cheng Bock, Kin Lian and Jee Say.

The People of Singapore want a change. The status quo of the last 46 years has been great to bring the country to where it is today, but not what is needed for the future.  Tony’s tagline “Confidence for the future” fails on that count.  It is more of the same and nothing else.

So here is how I think the votes will spread:

Tony 18%

Cheng Bock 30%

Kin Lian 23%

Jee Say 29%

So, it will be a neck to neck between Cheng Bock and Jee Say. The PAP-led government will have their hands full some early morning August 28.


I had an interesting chat with a friend today. He is well connected with the establishment and what amazes me is how much he “believes in the establishment’s bullshit”. I recall a good boss of mine from years ago telling me that he would be very worried if his sales folks and engineers start believing everything marketing spins – “believing your own bullshit”.  The PAP still does not understand the reality of the ground, three months after the GE. They still think that it is BAU and believing their own bullshit.

The ground has moved and moved away from the PAP. Anyone who is as closely associated with the PAP as is Tony stands to lose. It used to be a time when anything the PAP anoints wins. That is no longer the case. Someone told me that the PAP is now the “Pariah Action Party”.


So who am I voting for on Saturday? I told my Mom to vote Cheng Bock and to tell her friends to do the same. I am still sitting on the fence between Cheng Bock and Jee Say.  I want a president I can be proud of both from a office as well as the person. I respect the office of the Prime Minister but I don’t like the person holding that post. I want to have a president that I can like. If I were to use likability as the only factor, Cheng Bock will be it.

I am Singaporean, humble and contented.

Tomorrow, August 9 2011, Singapore celebrates 46 years of independence.

The fact that we’ve been able to have 46 years of economic progress going from a relatively impoverished island of about 1.5 million people in 1965 to one with about 5.5 million today with a per capita one of the highest in the world is no easy achievement. Much kudos have to be given to the pioneering group of political leaders and their vision to make this a viable nation and to be able to rally the population to make the effort to pull in the same direction.

As a nation, we will forever be grateful to that generation – the generation of my parents. They did well and thank you.

And, as a nation, we have to move forward. We have to find the new normal. The new normal was established on May 7, 2011 when the population took charge of the collective destiny. The citizenry had cast off the yoke of fear of not voting for the political party that ruled Singapore since independence. It was a breath of fresh air and a newly found confidence in being able to do the right thing.  Much kudos have to be given to the many players – the various political parties, the social media and the general assertiveness of a well education and well-informed citizenry.

Now as we observe the 46th anniversary of our independence, it is time to reflect what does it mean to be a Singaporean. Like any other nation and nationality, we have our quirks and warts and shortcomings. But, they are ours. We will work around it, live with it, and make it ours.

One thing that cannot be taken away from us – we are who we are because we chose to be that. We will never be perfect. But we will try hard to make it happen.

We demand full and honest transparency in how this country is governed and how we will pull together both in times of hardship and prosperity.

This National Day will mark the last time President S R Nathan will be officiating as the head of state. His term in office ends on August 31st. We will be having the presidential elections on August 27th that would see a new person in office.

The Singapore President was always a figure-head who officiated at events and was a rallying point for the people.  The party in power devised a clever scheme to have the president elected so that he will have the moral authority to safeguard the substantial financial reserves that Singapore has built up over the years.  This move, while controversial, did not set up the presidency to have the far-reaching roles it could play, except to keep the ruling party happy.

On August 17th 2011, we will know who will be contesting the elections and there is a danger of a freak situation where miraculously only one person was deemed qualified. Such is the system we have that it will be a crying shame if it turns out that way. The current president was NEVER voted into office, having had the seat obtained by default because no one ran against him. This should never be allowed, whether in parliamentary or presidential elections. There must be a minimum percentage of votes in favour before being granted the office.Walkovers are an abomination of human rights and the administrative capitulation of constitutional right to vote.

So, I look forward to National Day 2011, humbled that we have been able to make what we have and contented that we have a new normal.

As Singaporeans, we can be proud to take the Pledge and sing the anthem with all our heart.

Majulah Singapura.