Monday, September 11, 2017

Growing old, but no letting go of healthier pursuits

Toh Ee Ming AND
Valerie Koh

September 9, 2017

SINGAPORE — Retiring from her high-powered job as a senior vice-president at Citibank after more than 20 years in the sector, Madam Betty Teo suddenly found herself at standstill.

There was no email to clear, no problem to solve, no report to submit, no performance target to hit, she said. Gone, too, was time spent socialising with colleagues over lunch.

“Every morning, I saw the women in their heels, dressed nicely, taking the train to work, and I started to envy them… I felt (like I had lost) my identity,” the 58-year-old said.

Her husband, a civil servant, still works, so in the first six months of her retirement in 2011, she tried to keep herself engaged by taking up cooking and baking classes, or exercising at community centres, but there was “no real sense of belonging”.

A chance meeting with a member from the Women’s Initiative for Ageing Successfully (Wings) one day led her to sign up for various courses at the non-profit organisation. It was only then that she started to pay heed to the things she used to neglect while working: Eating “mindfully”, learning to build positive relationships, and to enjoy time to herself.

This was very different from the past — when everything was done in a rush, from scarfing down lunches at the office desk to exercising at the gym, and when all she had were “work goals”, never personal ones. It was “just work and family”, with barely enough time for rest, let alone pursue hobbies, she said.

“I had many achievements in my career, but there was no meaning.”

Friday, September 8, 2017

North Korea’s nuclear arsenal threatens China’s path to power

Jane Perlez

September 6, 2017

BEIJING — The two men stood together on the reviewing stand in the North Korean capital: a top official in China’s communist leadership wearing a tailored business suit and a young dictator in a blue jacket buttoned to his chin.

Mr Liu Yunshan, the visiting Chinese dignitary, and Mr Kim Jong Un, the North Korean leader, tried to put on a show of friendship, chatting amiably as the cameras rolled, but just as often they stood silent, staring ahead as a military parade passed before them.

Nearly two years have elapsed since that encounter, the last high-level visit between China and North Korea. The stretch of time is a sign of the distance between two nations with a torturous history: one a rising power seeking regional dominance, the other an unpredictable neighbor with its own ambitions.

China has made little secret of its long-term goal to replace the United States as the major power in Asia and assume what it considers its rightful position at the center of the fastest-growing, most dynamic region in the world.

But North Korea, which defied Beijing by testing a sixth nuclear bomb on Sunday (Sept 3), has emerged as an unexpected and persistent obstacle.

News commentary: US accepts offer of RSAF helicopters for Hurricane Harvey disaster relief

My main reaction when SG offered help to the US, and the US accepted that help was... the US would accept help from a little red dot? That's... humility? Self-assuredness? Confidence?

Then a question: Would a rising Great Power with aspirations to Super Power status act in the same way?

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

China questions its morals over bad bike-sharing behaviour

September 4, 2017

BEIJING — Mr Liu Lijing, a mechanic in Beijing, does not usually pay much attention to manners. He does not mind when people blast loud music, and he strolls the alleyways near his home in a top stained with grease. But when a stranger recently ditched a bicycle in the bushes outside his door, Mr Liu was irate.

Start-ups have flooded the city with shared bikes, he complained, and people have been leaving them all over the place without thinking about other residents. “There’s no sense of decency anymore,” he muttered, picking up the discarded bike and heaving it into the air in anger. “We treat each other like enemies.”

Monday, September 4, 2017

Cost, political considerations underpin growing Chinese weapon sales to South-east Asia

Ho Wan Beng Ben

September 2, 2017

TODAYONLINE

SINGAPORE — Chinese arms deals with South-east Asian nations have been making the headlines recently.

Last month, it was reported that China had offered Malaysia rocket launchers and a radar system – a claim which Putrajaya subsequently denied. This came after Malaysia purchased four Littoral Mission Ships from China last year – the first major defence contract inked between the two nations.

And earlier this year, Thailand confirmed that it had bought three made-in-China submarines after having not operated such a platform since the 1950s.

These are just some of the deals that South-east Asian countries have concluded with Chinese defence companies in recent years, and experts say that political, rather than actual military necessity, are largely behind these deals.

Defence analyst Bernard Loo told TODAY that the need to keep up with the Jones, or in other words, prestige, would be one key consideration behind the recent transfer of Chinese arms to South-east Asia. He said their relatively lower cost make them attractive to potential buyers.

“Chinese weapon systems are cheap and yet look good,” said Associate Professor Loo, who is with the S Rajaratnam School of International Studies (RSIS).

Sunday, August 27, 2017

Perils of owning ageing leasehold properties

By Cecilia Chow
The Edge Property
April 21, 2017

A week ago, Singapore permanent resident Ms Lew was just calculating the remaining lease on her 700 sq ft, three-room HDB flat in Marine Parade and wondering how much it could fetch in the resale market. “I’m just a couple of years from retirement,” she says. Lew’s flat, like the more than 7,000 in Marine Parade, was completed in 1975. According to HDB’s website, Marine Parade was the first housing estate to be built on reclaimed land. This means that the flats in Marine Parade have 57 years remaining on their 99-year leases.

Singaporean Ms Aw, who bought her 1,128 sq ft, five-room HDB flat in Marine Parade 17 years ago, says she now feels “a little unsettled”. Even though her flat is already fully paid for, the 56-year-old says, “My retirement is locked in this flat. If I want to make money from it, I will have to sell it and downgrade to a smaller BTO [built-to-order] flat so I won’t be saddled with a big home loan”.

The two HDB owners are representative of many others staying in ageing leasehold properties who became worried, following National Development Minister Lawrence Wong’s blog post on March 24. It was intended to caution buyers against paying high prices for older HDB flats on the assumption that their flats would automatically be eligible for the Selective En-bloc Redevelopment Scheme (SERS).

Wong wrote, “In fact, for the vast majority of HDB flats, the leases will eventually run out, and the flats will be returned to HDB, which will in turn have to surrender the land to the State.” He added, “As the leases run down, especially towards the tail-end, the flat prices will come down correspondingly.”

The write way to remember and honour dead colleagues

We spend as much time with colleagues as we do with our families, often more. Work takes up so much of our lives. It needs full remembrance when we die.


Michael Skapinker

June 29, 2017

Whenever a partner or retired partner of Cravath, Swaine & Moore dies, the 198-year-old United States law firm offers the bereaved family a “Cravath walk”.

This involves the retired and active partners marching at the funeral, two-by-two, in age order — oldest lawyer to youngest. I heard about the “Cravath walk” last week.

Mr Mark Greene, head of the firm’s corporate department and of its international practice, told me that the most recent walk had taken place at a memorial service about a month ago for a lawyer who had died at the age of 43.

The “walk” sounds slightly macabre, but it makes sense.