Wednesday 31 August 2022

Month of August 2022

The month started with a visit to a physical event at the Asia Infrastructure Forum. The message from the various speakers is pretty clear; resource sustainability is at a critical point, not only for companies but also on individuals to put action into place. While progress has been very uneven, across countries and industries, more effort is required as we feel the heat of wildfires, droughts, inadequate drinking water and polluted air. I felt the awareness level was raised sufficiently and elevated our consciousness to be more prudent. What you can do starting today is to use less resource and use wisely, that would be a good first step.

I had the privilege to enjoy two new experiences, one for the wife's birthday and the other on a friend's recommendation. The first was a Japanese omakase at Sushi Yujo which I found by chance online. It's quite hard to find a reasonably priced set nowadays so I must commend the chef owner, Desmond, for being kind with his quality and well portioned servings. Apparently it's very popular and I think it deserved the high reviews. Perhaps I can go again when a new season arrives. The second was at Tong Xin Ru Yi Hotpot. What I liked about this restaurant is the clean premise, fresh food (I even had pig brains!), affordability and to sweeten it further, no corkage. Again, this is a crowded place and the only downside I can think of is the lack of parking lots in a super busy street. But I'll travel anywhere for good food and we are very blessed, living in a food haven.

In a rare occurrence, my wife took up golf lessons for the reason that she could play this as she aged. Considering her only form of exercise was grocery and window shopping, this was a complete reversal that I would never dream of. From her feedback, it seems like she's enjoying the coach's methods and with a friend alongside her, I guess it won't take long for both of them to be ready for the greens.

NDP was great! It's almost standard ritual to gather family and watch it on television. Instead of BBQ, we dined out at a cousin's place, indulging in tex-mex cuisine. I thought it was a long awaited celebration that we've been denied over the past two years. Kudos to the performers. I look forward to the NS Square concept that will take over the floating platform.

Tip: Tatenokawa Junmai Daiginjo Seiryu, mellow fruity, nice weight on the palate

Monday 22 August 2022

Overview Of National Day Rally 2022

The most anticipated speech in Singapore did not disappoint as PM Lee outlined his long term vision in 2.5h on live television. I usually make it a point to attend this event as it offers clues on upcoming directions in policy making.

The repeal of Section 377A frankly did not resonate much with me. This law has been around since 1930s and overdue for an update as societal norms changed over time. Indeed, what PM said summed it best that private matters between individuals that does not cause public nuisance or harm should not be punished. As the Singaporean core matures, I think most people are able to accept this explanation. While we do not encourage, neither do we want to over-police matters. The focus is rightly on family nucleus and more resources must be given.

The geopolitical situation and economic implications were addressed and I liked the way PM put it across as clear as day to "get real". I hope this message got into the minds of 2 groups of people; the young ones yet to or about to start work and the old ones resistant to change. We lived through a few stable decades and I think the young ones assume that it's normal things are going to be status quo. Likewise, the old ones assume their working time is almost up and rather not rock the boat. They hang on to decisions made in the past. Such careless thoughts would be exposed within the next decade if we don't buck up and start to steer the boat away from its current path. While it's not my intention to broad brush the general public, I get the sense of little urgency in my personal interactions.

Finally, it's standard template to end the speech with optimism as the air and sea hub concept began to take shape along with big potential for land redevelopment. Residents around these areas must be hopeful of things to come. I'm excited to hear what new ideas we have to incorporate a sustainable ecosystem. I welcome new schemes for top talent as this would bring more dynamism but wish the "lesser" talents residing here now can be shepherded off over time. My opinion is the country needs growth but I rather it's at a lower pace and give locals the chance to take on bigger roles in middle and top management, through policy or incentive rather than lip service.

As per his usual style, PM orated various issues in a finely balanced manner. That's something everyone can learn from and likely the most challenging expectation the incoming PM has to meet. The only issue that I felt given insufficient air time is the cost of living. Given this would likely be PM's final rally, a brief mention was probably intended not to stir the hornet's nest as such sensitive and emotive issue would generate endless debates.

Good luck PM Lee and thanks for many years of outstanding public service, it's time for you to relax in the passenger seat.

Tip: Menage A Trois Gold Chardonnay 2019, raisin and vanilla with buttery finish. Tropical fruits

Monday 15 August 2022

Finance Investment Movement 24

It's a proud moment to achieve my savings goal for the year and even slightly exceeded that. Although the distribution is uneven, given the time still available, I should be able to make up for the shortfall in other categories. In any case, I need to ramp up the preparation for Vacation expense as my family had decided to go on a year end cruise. We booked two ocean view rooms on the Royal Caribbean liner. I'm hoping to squeeze in an additional trip to Australia just with the wife for a short unwind.

I didn't expect the SSB average coupon rate to fall to 2.8% but it was slightly mitigated by the high 2.63% offered for the first year. Just when I thought I could build a ladder of six consecutive months of subscription, this has left me with the dilemma on whether to proceed. Perhaps I might still go for it but treat it like a short duration bond and redeem within one to two years.

Received the NS credit of $100 and while I thought for a moment on how to utilize it, I came across several articles that advocated cash withdrawal or CPF payment. I opted for the latter and transferred the amount to my wife's account since hers is still a long way from FRS.

Finally, after almost daily observation of the AUD fixed deposit rate, I saw the opportunity arrive and promptly locked in at 2.41% for 6 month tenor with DBS. I never knew these rates change so quickly as the impression had been that they follow the central bank rate of its home country. I expect overall interest rate environment to be on the uptrend till year end so it should be in time for a renewal at the higher rate.

Tip: Kitaya Junmai Ginjo Summer, dense fruit base, rich mouthfeel

Monday 8 August 2022

The 4.0 World

We live in an uncertain world, right?

Rather, I like to think we are the ones who created an uncertain world. Nature has its laws and assuming minimal interference, things should proceed as how it should be to achieve harmony and balance. Ancient Chinese philosophers studied this in detail and preached the concept of Yin and Yang. However, where waters flow from the mountains to the seas, we chose to dam and control the movement. Where there is forest inhabited with its wildlife, we razed the ground for housing and office purposes. These are now slowly coming back to bite as climate changes, unleashing fluctuating extreme temperatures and causing floods from melted ice.

Yet, what we continue to do is to churn out more uncertainty as a frightened response. A country worried for its security decided to strike its neighbor first in order to guard its borders. A trip to Taiwan by a US official resulted in a 4 day military exercise, complete with live ammunitions. In Singapore, we beautify the parks but forgot to check the proper execution to clear a strip of woodlands. So what we are left with are more question marks than answers. At the end, it just shows deliberate ignorance while pursuing self interests. Because these things wouldn't have occurred if there were thoughts made before they happened. The world is beginning to look like a daunting place where the mighty, influential or vested authority seemed to be making decisions that upset the majority.

Whatever happens on a macro level filters down to the average person. We are more concerned with the next meal and having a roof over our heads. I am worried for the next generation as affordability becomes an issue. Too many $1m HDB transactions are not a good signal and neither is the increasing health related costs. But I have to first take care of myself, without harming the others or environment. As I watch the financial markets keenly, I know there are many sharks out there but perhaps a leap of faith is needed to make that breakthrough to accelerate returns. That's the fastest way to ensure stability and lift those around me. Are we ready for the challenging times ahead while uncertainty lurks?

Tip: Chateau Jean Faure 2010, straight up smooth with a little oak, unpretentious