Quotes August Edition

Amusing quotes, heard.

  • Churchill the racist. A commonplace book by American left-wing intellectual George Scialabba - http://www.georgescialabba.net/mt/. Of which the quote which most struck me - "I do not agree that the dog in a manger has the final right to the manger, even though he may have lain there for a very long time. I do not admit that right. I do not admit for instance that a great wrong has been done to the Red Indians of America or the black people of Australia. I do not admit that a wrong has been done to these people by the fact that a stronger race, a higher-grade race, a more worldly-wise race, to put it that way, has come in and taken their place." - Winston Churchill, 1937, on the Arab inhabitants of Palestine.
  • The fish in America "The fish in America is of equal quality to Japan. But the handling is terrible. The guts are all mashed up, the skin is all screwed up by the time it gets to American ports". 
  • Food in Singapore. "It's hard to run a small food business in Singapore. First, the government gives you rebates for using prepared foods. If you make your own sambal, you don't get any rebates, but if you get it from a big supplier, you can get up to 40% off. This is why the sambal tastes the same everywhere. Another example: iPads grants from the government, to encourage people to run lean by cutting out service staff." Singapore's encouragement of efficiency on the food business, leads to less artisanship. "Additionally there are the restrictive labor laws that prevent Filipinos and other workers from working in F&B".
  • Partners. "There are three kinds of partners in the firm. The 5% with big ideas, who believe that what we do saves the world. Then there's those with big mortgages. And finally there's those with big bladders, able to sit on meetings longer than anyone else."



Happy SG50!

Singapore is 50 years old, which means that I have lived through more than half its extant lifetime.Since my birth 26 years ago in 1989, a dizzying array of changes have taken place. Today, on the 50th anniversary of Singapore's founding, I will briefly mention a few things I appreciate about this little granite outcrop. (not exhaustive)
Enlightened government policies
  1. The economic progress of the nation.The national story of economic development is a source of pride for every citizen. We bask in reflected lustre of two great national development policies - (A) export-oriented industrialization of starting in the 1960s, first manufacture of textiles and then of electronics, and then oil refining. (B) The services economy in developing Changi airport in 1981 and sea ports; as well as developing the financial services industry in the 1990s. This allowed Singaporeans to gain jobs as middle-management for global companies entering Asia. The third financial hub turn in the 00s and 10s has created even greater concentration of wealth which is expressed in a gleaming downtown, but that growth model has led to an increase in the number of foreign citizens, which have put strain on our social contract
  2. A good education - one of the best in the world. Singapore's obsessive focus on education is the key to creating good jobs for its people. To take an example - my own training to be a doctor in JC involved two years of education in the basics of biology and chemistry. I think my training in biology in JC was simply world-class (and better than many American prep schools) - it left me with a very solid grasp of the field's fundamentals - evolution and DNA.
  3. I could mention a few more - the housing policies to ensure every citizen had a stake in the nation, the NEWater project. The PAP government have been very effective municipal administrators.
The people
  1. The friendliness of Singaporeans - who may weather hardship, but are invariably friendly when making the kopi or driving the taxis.
  2. The flowering of civil expression (political and artistic) in the last 15 years, as I have seen peers who have taken paths outside the well-worn tracks of lawyers, doctors and bankers..

The food

  1. Wicked spicing in the roti prata curries, the delicious nasi lemak, silky chicken rice, an endless variety of sweet soups and desserts - Singapore's food may not be the most refined, or the easiest for the digestion, but it has one of the broadest spicing palettes I have seen anyway. This small island - with Cantonese steamed fish, red chilli crabs, peranakan cuisine, and in latter years a smattering of celebrity chef restaurants - has one of the highest varieties of food per square km.

Happy birthday Singapore!