History Documentaries

  1. Iran and the West Part1 Part2 Part3
  2. 444 days of Iran hostage crisis – BBC
  3. Israel-Arab 50 years war Part1 Part2
  4. The Battle of Dunkirk  (World War 2)
  5. About Nuremberg trials after world war 2 Movie
  6. Know Your Enemy: Japan | WW2 Propaganda Documentary | 1945

  7. Cuban revolution and Fidel Castro
  8. Pol Pot, Khmer Rouge and Cambodia . (First they killed my father Movie trailer)
  9. Pol Pot: Journey to the killing fields (Cambodia) in 1970s
  10. The rise and fall of Japan Empire (From 1890 to 1945)
  11. The Gulf war (Saddam Hussein invades Kuwait)
  12. Selling the Iraq War in US
  13. Selling the first gulf war (The effect of gulf war on news/media/journalism)
  14. World war 2 Complete history Series
  15. America before Columbus – The new world
  16. A short note on Silent Spring by Rachel Carson (The story of DDT)
  17. The Thalidomide drug tragedy in 1960s
  18. Bhopal Gas Tragedy- the world’s worst industrial disaster (Trailer) (Full movie)

Elon Musk by Ashlee Vance: Part 1

Ch 1-4

  • During the Dot com bubble, you no longer had to make something other people wanted to buy in order to start a booming company.  You just had to have an idea for some sort of internet thing and announce it to the world in order for eager investors to fund your thought experiment. The goal as to make as much money in the shortest time before reality set in eventually.
  • From Google in 2002 to iphone in 2007 period, the goal went from taking huge risks to create new industries to chasing easier money by entertaining consumers and pumping out simple apps and ads.
  • “The best minds of my generation are thinking about how to make people click on ads” “that sucks”- James Hammerbacher of Facebook
  • Jonatha Huebner was the first to suggest the lull in innovation in “A possible declining trend in worldwide innovation” in 2005. ‘Innovation is a finite resource’
  • 2010- Peter Thiel, Paypal cofounder  promoted the idea that tech industry had let people down. “We wanted flying cars and we got 140 characters”. Established Founders fund. An article”What happened to the future”
  • Enter “ELON MUSK”
  • Compaq bought Musk’s Zip 2(about Maps) in 1999, for 307 mil USD and then his PAypal bought by ebay for 1.5 bil USD in 2002
  • Immediately after, without waiting for the next big thing, during the post dot com bubble Musk invested $100 mil in Spacex, $70 mil in Tesla and $10 mil in SOlarcity
  • . Whenever possible Musk’s companies made things from scratch and tried to rethink  much of what aerospace, automotive, solar industries accepted as convention
  • Direct sales model of Tesla. It doesnt hope to make money because electric cars need very little maintenance.
  • All of Musk’s companies underly- the Mars mission
  • Monday at SPacex. Tuesday begins at spacex, jet to Silicon valley, 2 days at tesla in PaloAlto and Fremont. stay at Hotel/friends in North California. Back to LA and spacex on Thursday. Also shares custody of 5 kids with his exwife, 4 days a week.
  • Must write a Video game code for Blastar at age 12-‘ to destroy alien space freighter carrying hydrogen bombs and status beam machines’
  • At 14, the religious and philosophical texts didnt answer his existential crisis. But. The Hitchhikers guide to Galaxy by Douglas Adams- One of the most influential books in his life did. ‘One of the really tough things to figure out is what questions to ask. We should aspire to increase the scope and scale of human consciousness to understand what questions to ask ‘. Musk formed his mission ‘to strive for greater collective enlightenment’
  • Born 1971 in Pretoria, S.Africa in the time of apartheid. Musk dreamed of a place that awould allow his personality and dreams to flourish.
  • Musk’s grandfather Haldeman had history of adventure, private flight travel, philanthropy. Africa to Australia round trip in a single engine plane using roadmaps-the only private pilots to do so. Also adventures in deserts and forests with their kids.
  • He had ‘the part of brain for image processing used for internal thoughts’ and used to be lost in a trance. Like computers processing images and computation separately. Musk says he can process the interrelationships and algorthmic relationships between images and numbers. He also read a lot of books from young age.By 4th grade,  he ran out of books in school library and started reading Encyclopedia Brittanica and became a know-it-all due to his photographic memory. He later left to live with his dad after they divorced. His father made the 2 sons learn many things and gave a lot of lectures about engineering and how things work. They (Elon and his brother) also traveled a lot together with his father in SA and the world. But Musk believes his time with his father is ‘not a happy and a difficult childhood’ and has aversion to him. He was also bullied a lot at school.
  • Elon, Kimbal and cousins ventured into small enterpreneurial ventures from teen age. They also made explosive stuff and rockets at home for fun. Further, the risky trips between Pretoria and Johannesburg in 1980s redefined their view of risk
  • At 17, in 1988, Elon left to Canada using it as a pitstop to enter US due to his canadian ancestry. His mother could pass her Canadian citizenship to him. Also Musk wanted to avoid participating in apartheid via the service in SA
  • Musk did a hop-on hop off ride all over Canada to reach out to his Mothers relatives. He did many odd menial labor jobs in farms, log cutting, boiler room cleaning etc during this time. Later his mother, brother, sister also moved to Canada. Kimbal and Elon cold-called many elite people to setup meetings for lunch.
  • When at Queens, Elon and his ex-wife Justine took once abnormal-psychology and got 98 and 97. At Queens, Elon was more ambitious, intense and competitive and had a favorable support and environment.
  • In 1992, he moved to UPenn with scholarship after 2 years at Queens. At Penn, he took dual degree of economics from Wharton and Physics. At Penn. Musk wrote a paper on’The importance of being Solar’ with many details about future materials and power stations etc. He also wrote a paper on OCR and things like a combination of  Google books and scholar and on ultracapacitors as energy storage. In all these papers, Musk combined precisely physics concepts and business plans details. At the end of college, he believed Internet, renewable energy and space would undergo significant change in the future.
  • Musk dropped out of Stanford Phd in material science and physics after 2 days, finding the Internet’s calling irresistible
  • Elon and Kimball founded Zip2 in Palo Alto in 1995 to get businesses online from yellow pages. It was like ‘yelp+google maps’. Cash crisis for food and living. Elon did the coding and Kimbal the sales. Elon had typical problems of startups-CEO issues, investors, managing the team etc

From third world to first: The Singapore story, 1965-2000 : By Lee Kuan Yew: Part 1

Disclaimer: This notes is for personal references only. Some lines are taken as it is from the book and I fully acknowledge the copyrights of the content.

Part I Getting the Basics Right

Ch1: Going it Alone

  • Aug 9 1965 -Sg independence from Malaysian federation. Then population = 2 mil
  • 1959: LKY age 35, PM of self governing state of Sg
  • Sep 1963: Sg joins Malaya to form Malaysia with North Borneo and Sarawak
  • Initial security for LKY house: Nepali Gurkhas to avoid Chinese/Malay police shooting Malay/Chinese. LKY decides to build an army to combat Sg’s internal insecurity and to avoid a vulnerable army under a Malay brigadier’s command
  • S Rajaratnam , foreign minister for LKY- UN rep for sg

Ch2: Building an army from Scratch

  • Brigadier escorting LKY to parliament- Situation to remind of Sg’s vulnerability army-wise
  • Near Sing Polytechnic army riot incident
  • Sg buys French made light tanks from Israel at discount as they(Israel) were upgrading
  • LKY contacts Lal Bhadur Shastri(India) and Nasser (Egypt) for help to build armed forces. Both didn’t mention about helping in the reply. Israel offers help and sg accepts it in secret.
  • LKY and Keng Swee feared coup throughout the military reorganizing. Malays denied to withdraw their regiment n SG initially. Later moved to Khatib and then out of Sg. This made LKY resolve for SAF so that they cant intimidate them later. Army to have mix of all people but hard to convince Chinese and Indians to join.
  • Inspired by Israeli way of citizen army. Deploy large force in short time. Timeline: 10 yrs
  • NS is born along with a plan for 12 regular  battalions of large cost as LKY felt Malaysia wouldn’t attack immediately as long as Brit forces still there in sg. LKY wanted women in NS but others denied.
  • British forced withdrew in 1971.
  • Hanging of Indonesians who planned bombing in Sg in orchard road 1964. Indonesian army conduct training near Sg waters but no aggression. But trade sanctions were imposed on exports from Sg
  • Chinese –Malay riots in KL spill into Sg. Chinese attack Malays in Sg in Geylang Serai  in 1969. Review of racial mix in deployed forces. Later, it was found Malays were over recruited for fear of communists among Chinese educated.
  • 1971- 72 NS battalions of 16000 and 14 battalions of 11000 on reserve
  • Israel and NZ helped to build naval and coastal forces after Brits left. Israeli methods to build army were quick unlike the Brit ways of armed force training
  • When Israel asked SG to recognize and establish diplomatic relations. SG feared it would anger Malay Muslims who were in solidarity with Arab and Palestine brethren. Tel Aviv understood Sg’s position and agreed to be helpful
  • June 1967- 6 day war b/w Arabs and Israel. Later Sg grants embassy to Israel
  • Scholarships for best students to join SAF after study opportunity at Oxbridge and  military trainings in US, UK and MBAs later at Harvard, Stan: provided 8 yrs. service obligation: Brains in Army. Lee Hsien Loong, LKY’s son, is one who entered this program and later entered politics.

Ch3: Britain pulls out

  • Brit forces in SG gave people a sense of security and SG govt needed it to get investments into sg
  • Brits planned to reduce troops east of Suez. But US lobbied them to stay and in turn to help in support of Brit Pound sterling
  • Brit army was also contributing to 20% of Sg GDP and 30000 jobs. Harold Wilson was in full support for LKY
  • Brit was in deep problems by devaluation of sterling in  1967  and had to pull back forces earlier than promised mid 1970s
  • Oz also didn’t want to enter into any defense agreements to take responsibility as they lost confidence after riots in Malaysia in 1971. They also want to pull out from sg
  • Brit, NZ, OZ, Sg, MY enter a mutual defense agreement in 1971

Ch4:  Surviving without a hinterland

  • Retaining Raffles statue would be a symbol of public acceptance of Brit heritage and could have positive effect on western investors
  • Industrialization was necessary immediately to curb unemployment and boost economic standing in 1965
  • Confrontation from Indonesia was on and MY were determined to bypass SG in their trade
  • Tourism – create more jobs and less capital required. SG sets up a tourism board. Film magnate Runme Shaw as the chairman
  • Assembly lines for a variety of products and encouraged to start manufacturing smaller products
  • LKY didn’t want his ppl to develop aid-dependent mentality like Malta after Brit withdrew and they offered aid in return. He believed in self-reliance
  • Sg requests Brit to leave the equipment and machinery instead of destroying. The British naval dockyard was converted to a civilian use as Keppel and Sembawang. Started as shipyard and later to Sembcorp industries
  • Sentosa, a Malay word meaning “peace and tranquility”, from Sanskrit, Santosha. Was prior a  British gurkha battalion post
  • Pasir Panjang military complex is now NUS
  • LKY sabbatical at Harvard in 1968. Attends Kennedy school of government. Learns about changes in technology and economy’s ever nimble nature. ‘No begging bowl’ approach when visiting US. He emphasized Sg’s philosophy od ‘providing goods and services cheaper and better than anyone, or perish’ from a village of 120 fishermen in 1819 to 2 million  metropolis
  • LKY knew from a friend’s son working in US on how Americans weighed business risks and looked for political, economic, financial stability, sound labor relations.
  • To materialize US investor’s interests, LKY adopted Israeli strategy to overcome the disadvantages. I.e to leap over neighbors and trade with EU and US, Japan.
  • LKY ignored the theory that MNCs exploit third world countries and was more concerned about providing livelihood to SG people. LKY wanted to create a first world oasis in a 3rd world in aspects of security, health, education, telecom, transport, services to  attract engineers, managers, entrepreneurs, professionals, which Israel could not do due to being at war continuously. Sg has to be netter than its neighbors to attract investment despite the lack of domestic market and ntural resources
  • EDB established in 1961. One stop agency to deal with investors instead of multiple dept/ministries. Initial focus on ship-repair, metal engg, chemicals, electrical appliances. EDB is succesful that some sections had had to be divided into forming Jurong town corporation (JTC) and DBS. Albert Winsemius , a Dutch economist, was Singapore’s long-time economic advisor
  • TI, HP, National Semiconductor came to assemble semiconductors in 1968-69. At same time, China was in mad threos of Mao’s cultural revolution. Investors were deterred to invest in Hong Kong and Taiwan, close to China and so headed to SG. In 1970 GE setup. It is single largest employer of labor in Sg. All this , made Sg into a largest exporter of electronics by 1980s
  • Economic growth slowed from 14% to 4 % during the Arab oil embargo, following the Arab-Israeli war of Oct 1973, where oil prices quadrupled.  No rise in unemployment in Sg. Economy recovered in 1975
  • LKY also dared to remove protective tariffs once the workforce is skilled and it led to loosing Mercedes as they believed the tariffs have to be maintained as Sg-eans were not as effective as Germans
  • Japanese invested in 1970s  after US firm’s success and when China opened in 1980s. Brits invested in 1970s in high value products like pharma.
  • German Rollei’s failure for successful technology transfer deterred EU companies from investing in Sg
  • Sg had to plan in advance about training and education of workers unlike HK. When communists took over China, industrialists and bankers fled from Shanghai and Canton to HK and were ready for business instantly.
  • Govt also started steel, shipping, airline industries like NOL, SIA, National iron and steel Mills, Singapore Technologies(ST). If not Profitable, shutdown the enterprise.
  • Young officers who were top students sent to univs in EU and US, Oz, started NOL, SIA
  • PUB, PSA (Port of Sg Authority), Sg Telecom were state monopolies made later into separate entities free from ministerial control
  • By 1990s- Sg was 3rd largest oil refining center after Houston and Rotterdam with a capacity of 1.2 mil barrels per day and 3rd largest oil trading center after NY , London. LKY announced to major oil companies to share in any cuts to boots their confidence for long-term stay in Sg for oil business.
  • Hon Sui Sen was key in all economic development

Ch5: Creating a Financial center

  • Start in 1968
  • Financial world starts in Zurich->Frankfurt->London. In afternoon, when Zurich closes followed by others , NY is open and London hands over financial money traffic to NY. When NY closes, they handover to San Fransisco. There is a gap b/w SF closing and Zurich opening at 9 am. If Sg is put in there, for the first time we will have 24 hr service in money and banking
  • Sg doesn’t have a central bank  to issue currency and create money. LKy was determined not to allow SGD to loose its value against the strong currencies esp USD. The currency board issued SGD only when backed by its equivalent value in foreign exchange. Monetary Authority of Sg has all powers of central bank except the authority to issue currency notes
  • By 1990s Sg was 4th largest financial center after London, NY, Tokyo.
  • SG maintained standards in investigating cases like British Slater’s scam in HawPar shares, denying license to Pakistani BCCI backed by royal families of middle east, denying licence to National bank of Brunei. Koh Beng seng was key in developing SG’s Financial center
  • Sg Financial center is more regulated compared to HK as it did not have any British backing to sustain drastic blows. Critics wrote “In Hk, what is not explicitly forbidden is permitted. In Sg, what is not explicitly permitted is forbidden”.
  • Sg’s reserved grew with increased CPF contributions. Much of the national savings were locked up in banks instead of investing in high return investments. LKY was skeptical to take too much risk until he stepped down in 1990s.
  • In 1997, Sg opened to foreign banks to embrace globalization. Loong took charge of MAS and revamped it.
  • July 1997, East Asia financial crisis, devaluation of thai Baht. Sg prevailed.

Ch6: Winning over the Unions

  • By mid 1950s, communists gained control over unions and unions were divided into communist and non-communist. To attract investments, Sg had to free unions from communist control.
  • In 1961-62, SG ahd 153 strikes and none by 1969
  • To avoid communist influences, the British taught SG unions the bad practices of squeezing over company for pay/benefits regardless of the company’s financial position. LKY in the beginning actually negotiated in favor of some of them when working as a lawyer in initial days as he felt the workers were being exploited.
  • Suppression of the strike by Suppiah and an Indian-majority Public dialy rated employees (cleaning workers) in Dec 1966. THis was a turning point in Sg’s industrial history. LKY appealed to unions and workers to be fair in their practices and demands for SG survival.
  • After re-election in 1968 and after the British pulled out, the govt passed several acts and amendments about the unions’ rights eliminating the chances to cripple the company/businesses
  • To ensure industrial peace and vested more rights with the employer. It was made illegal for a trade union to strike without a secret ballot. LKY took adavantage of the crisis situation that arose after British pull-out to implement these policies.
  • Devan Nair implemented several policies and convinced unions between 1970 to 1981.  To improve Union membership, they set up NTUC Comfort (taxi service) in 1970 and NTUC fairprice (supermarkets) in 1973, NTUC income (insurance). Devan became Sg president in 1981.
  • LKY faced problems when leadership changed from older generation to younger ones, where the union leaders were not happy. Under Teng Cheong, NTUC expanded to health services, child care, resorts (Pasir Ris resort), country club, gold course, condominiums for its members. In 1984, NTUC changed from industrial to house unions for the better, inspired by Japanese practices. SR Nathan was one of LKY’s negotiators for tade unions, who later became president of Sg. NTUC members later also became part of the govt in the parliament for better coop b/w unions and government.
  • With NTUC’s positive approach, unemployment of 14% in 1965 decreased to 1.8% in 1997. During Asian financial crisis of 1997, enemployment rose to 3.2%

Ch7. A Fair, not Welfare, Society

  • A competitive winner-takes-all society like colonial HongKong in 1960s would be unacceptable in Sg, as it would lead to a society divided into classes and thus to social tensions. A balance between socialism and capitalism was required. LKY felt if every family owned its home, Sg would be more stable.
  • In 1963, HDB announced a home ownership scheme but not effective as few could afford cash down payment. LKy also believed the NS men must have a home for their family to have a sense of belonging to Sg and not just feel like serving the wealthy.Brits started CPF as a savings scheme for retirement. 5% from employee and 5% from employer, withdrawn at age 55. A new home ownership scheme was proposed in 1968, where workers could use the accumulated CPF savings to pay the 20% down payment and service the housing loan for balance by monthly instalments over 20 years.
  • By 1985, CPF rose from 5 to 25% I.e a total savings rate of 50% later reduced to 40%, possible only due to consistent economic growth. By 1990s more than half of buyers owned HDBs. By 1996, here were 725000 HDB flats of which only 9% were rented out, ranging in value from sgd150000 to sgd450000
  • HDB had the foresight to set aside land for companies in the early housing estates, so that women can work nearby and contribute to economy.
  • Comic scenes in early HDBs – farmers rearing pigs, fowls; Malays on ground floor planting trees; some people afraid to take lifts, using kerosene lamps, selling cigarettes etc on the groundfloor shops
  • Older HDBs were upgraded in 1989, incurring a cost of SGD 58000 but only sgd4500 on the owner.
  • Health care- Sg cant follow a national health service for all or expensive insurance schemes. Co-pay system was linked to a separate CPF and the contribution was gradually increased from 1% in 1977 to 6% in 1984 with an upper limit of SGD15000. Other insurance plans were introduced in case of catastrophic events and in cases when the medical CPF savings were used up.
  • Retirement benefits/pension were also linked to CPF savings. From 1978, CPF could be used as personal savings fund for investments. LKY encouraged people to buy SBS shares so that profits go back to the users and also there would be less possibility for people demanding cheaper fares. If the investments from CPF yielded more interest than CPF rate, people could take out the surplus.
  • The shares of Singapore telecom in 1993 were also offered to adults at half the market price as the govt had surplus over the years and it helped people own shares in a major Sg company and a stake in country’s success
  • A welfare state made people lazy and debilitated the achievers with high tax. In 1980, the welfare state policies of the West had failed. Sound fiscal and budget policies are preconditions for CPF. Interest rates must always be above inflation rate.
  • Yin (female) and Yang (male) balance between individual competition and group solidarity

Ch8: Communists self destruct

  • Chia Thye Poh- a communist activist was in detention for 20 years. Released in 1989 to reside on Sentosa, where he worked as a part-time translator, and was finally freed from all restrictions in 1998
  • setback for communists in September 1962 when they lost the referendum on merger with Malaysia, and second, their defeat in the September 1963 elections
  • the disarray of communist united front gave the PAP unchallenged dominance of Parliament for the next 30 years.
  • The ISD (internal security dept) considered the pro-Marxist English-educated activists an incipient security problem and in 1987 recommended that they be detained
  • we have prevented our trade unions from being infiltrated and
    kept our social, cultural, and trade organizations free from communist

9. Straddling the Middle Ground

  • The PAP has won 10 successive general elections since 1959, a period of
    40 years
  • In our HDB new towns, there is a network that leads from
    the RCs (resident committes) to the MCs (management committees) and CCCs (citizens’ consultative committees) on to the prime minister’s office
  • In elections, PAP had a fourth clean sweep in 1980 —37 seats unopposed, and the remaining 38 contested seats with 77.5 percent of votes cast
  • But Jeyaretnam did break the PAP’s spell of unprecedented total
    support in a by-election in 1981, when Devan Nair had resigned his Anson seat to become the president. One reason for the defeat was that a large number of Singapore port workers workers in several blocks of apartments had to be moved to make way for a container-holding area but were not given alternative accommodation by PSA and HDB
  • In the 1984 election, PAP lost two seats
  • LKY had learned how to hold the audience, both those at the National Theatre and over television, and get them to follow my thought processes. He would speak first in Malay, then Hokkien (later Mandarin), and last in English, his master language
  • LKY thought they had to put a stop to  foreign interference in Singapore’s domestic politics and show that it was off-limits to all, including the United States.
  • One imperative is to confront directly those who accuse LKY of corruption
    or misusing the power of office
  • Voters have come to expect any allegation of impropriety or dishonesty to be challenged in the courts.
  • PAP changed the constitution in 1990 to provide for a small number of nonelected MPs, called Nominated MPs (or NMPs), to reflect independent and nonpartisan views. It has enabled non-PAP people who are of good quality to enter Parliament.
  • The people of Sg in 90s wanted some opposition MPs, but also wanted to be sure they had a PAP government.

10. Nurturing and Attracting Talent

  • On 14 August 1983 National Day Rally address on TV, live with maximum viewership, LKY said it was stupid for the graduate men to choose
    less-educated and less-intelligent wives if they wanted their children to
    do as well as they had done. It caused a drop of 12 percentage points in votes for the PAP
  • In 1965, The Chinese in SG were mostly the descendants of agricultural
    laborers from the southern provinces of China, brought in by labor
    contractors as indentured workers to do heavy manual work. Same for the Early Indian immigrants. Malays as a rule were better in the arts than the sciences
  • Under the British, Singapore had been the regional center for education, with good schools, training for teachers
  • The brightest of the English- educated students in Malaya and the Borneo territories studied at Singapore institutions, staying in boarding schools
  • Until the Japanese Occupation and the rise of  independent governments after the war, the Chinese moved freely between the countries of Nanyang (South Seas or Southeast Asia)
  • In 1980, about half of our university graduates were women; nearly two-thirds of them were unmarried. The Asian man, whether Chinese, Indian, or Malay, preferred to have a wife with less education than himself. Only 38 percent of graduate men were married to graduate women in 1983.
  • Based on a study on twins, LKY believed nearly 80 percent of a persons makeup is from nature, and about 20  percent the result of nurture.
  • A woman in response to LKY comments wrote, “I am an unmarried, successful professional woman aged 40.. I have remained single because I prefer it this way. I am deeply insulted by the suggestion that some miserable financial incentives will make me jump into bed with the first attractive man I meet and proceed to produce a highly talented child for the sake of Singapore’s future.” LKY supported his views by releasing analyses of statistics.
  • To help ease this problem of unmarried graduate women, PAP set up a
    Social Development Unit (SDU) to facilitate socializing between men and
    women graduates.
  • Women want to marry up, men want to marry down. To complement the SDU, a Social Development Section (SDS) for those with secondarywas formed. Thirty-one
    percent of SDS members who met through its activities got married. Traditional methods of choosing marriage partners had been ruptured by universal education: The government had to provide alternatives to the family matchmakers of old.
  • IN 1980 census, the tertiary-educated had 1.6, the secondary-educated,
    also 1.6, the primary-educated, 2.3, and the unschooled, 4.4 children. To replace
    themselves, parents must have 2.1 children. The Sg-eans were more than doubling
    their less-educated, and not replacing the better-educated.
  • To reverse this reproductive trend, Keng Swee, then minister for education, and LKY decided in 1984 to give to graduate mothers who have a third child priority in choosing the best schools for all their three children. But the govt was taken aback when graduate mothers protested. They did not want this privilige. So it was removed and replaced by special income tax concessions to married women of all education levels
  • By 1997, 63 percent of graduate men married fellow graduates, as against 38 percent in 1982.
  • Difficulties over our talent pool were aggravated when the rich
    Western countries changed their policies on Asian immigration. It decided to accept Asian immigrants, reversing more than a century of its whites-only policy. Canada, Australia and New Zealand. Many middle-class professional Chinese and Indian Malaysians migrated permanently to Australia, New Zealand, and Canada. Fewer foreigners came to Sg for education
  • A team of officers would meet promising Asian students at Western  universities to interest them in jobs in Sg. The selling point was that Singapore offered an Asian society with a higher standard of living and quality of life than their own countries, and they could assimilate easily into Sg  society. The systematic search for talent worldwide brought in a few hundred graduates each year. It made up for the loss each year through emigration of 5 to 10 percent of our better-educated to the industrialized countries.
  • The govt also set up two task forces specially to attract talent from India and from the region, but were more successful in attracting Indian than Malay talent.
  • A new phenomenon is the increasing number of Caucasian men marrying Sg women, especially the tertiary-educated. Many of these women were forced to emigrate by our rules that allowed a Singapore male citizen to bring in a foreign bride, but not the other way around. This policy was changed in 1999

11. Many Tongues, One Language

  • LKY and his wife, Choo decided not to inflict the cultural handicap of lost between two cultures (Asian and Western) on their three children, and sent them to Chinese schools to become a part of this vibrant, vigorous, self-confident community, even if their English suffered. Theyremedied this by having Choo speak to them in English
    while LKY spoke to them in Mandarin, to improve his Mandarin!
  • Singapore never had one common language. It was a polyglot community under colonial rule. The British left people to decide how to educate their children.
  • When PAP formed the government in 1959, they decided on Malay as the national language, to prepare the way for merger with Malaya. English had to be the language of the workplace and the common language.
  • To establish a Chinese language university, a wealthy rubber merchant, Tan Lark Sye, personally donated S$5 million, but the project involved the whole Chinese  community and generated so much spontaneous enthusiasm that taxi drivers, hawkers, and trishaw riders all contributed one day’s earnings. When Nanyang University was opened by the British governor in March 1956, traffic crawled bumper to bumper all the way from the city to its campus in Jurong, 20 miles to the northwest. It became the symbol of Chinese language, culture, and education
  • As students switched to English schools, they increasingly went to Univ of Singapore (now NUS) than Nanyang University (also called Nantah, present NTU). This made the Nanyang standards fall soon, to the extent that Nantah graduates had produced their school certificates and not their Nantah degrees, when applying for jobs.
  • LKY decided to make English the language of instruction at Nantah in 1975 but it proved to be difficult adn had political implications for the govt.
  • Since Nantah could not convert its teaching from Mandarin into English, LKY persuaded the Nantah council and senate  members to move the whole university—staff and students—into the campus of the University of Singapore. Both teachers and students would be forced to use English, subsumed within the larger numbers of English- speaking staff and students at its Bukit Timah campus.
  • LKY had a survey conducted among the graduates, whether they would prefer to receive a University of Singapore degree, a Nantah degree, or a joint degree. The overwhelming majority wanted a University of Singapore degree. LKY decided to merge the two universities as the National University of Singapore (NUS) and award them NUS degrees. The Nantah campus became the Nanyang Technological Institute attached to the NUS. In 1991, it became the Nanyang Technological
    University (NTU).
  • After the two universities were merged, LKY made all Chinese schools switch
    to English as their main language of instruction, with Chinese as their second language. LKY still wanted to retain the discipline, self-confidence, and moral and social values, which the Chinese schools instilled in their students, based on Chinese traditions, values, and culture.
  • The Japanese have been able to absorb American influence and remain basically Japanese. Their young, having grown up in affluence, appear less dedicated to the companies they work for than their parents, but they are essentially Japanese and more hardworking and committed to the greater good of their society than Europeans or Americans.
  • LKY decided to preserve the best nine of the Chinese schools under a special assistance plan, or SAP. These SAP schools would admit students in the top 10 percent passing the primary school. They would teach Chinese at the first language level but have English as the medium of instruction as in other schools.
  • After the Nanyang and Singapore University joint campus solution in 1978, LKY decided the time was right to encourage the Chinese people to use Mandarin instead of dialects.
  • Mandarin-speaking families increased from 26 percent in 1980 to over 60 percent in 1990. However,English-speaking homes increased from 20 percent in 1988 to 40 percent in 1998.
  • The opening of China brought a decisive change in the attitudes of Chinese to learning Mandarin. The seven different major south Chinese dialects spoken in
    Singapore made it easier to persuade all to convert to Mandarin. Had Sg been like Hong Kong with 95 percent speaking Cantonese, it would have been difficult if not impossible. For many Chinese Singaporeans, dialect is the real mother tongue and Mandarin a stepmother tongue. However, in another two generations, Mandarin can become their mother tongue. By Becoming monolingual in English, SG would have lost its cultural identity, that quiet confidence about themselves and their place in the world.

12. Keeping the Government clean

  • It was disgust with the venality, greed, and immorality of the Chinese leaders that made so many Chinese school students in Singapore pro-communists.
  • In 1995, Prime Minister Goh decided on a formula LKY had proposed that would peg the salaries of ministers and senior public officers to those of their private sector counterparts.
  • Minister’s salaries in Singapore are an inclusive sum without any additional benefits

13. Greening Singapore

  • LKY had introduced antispitting campaigns in the 1960s.
  • Only after 1971, when the govt had created many jobs, were they able to enforce the law and reclaim the streets from street food evndors and pirate-taxi drivers. The govt licensed the cooked food hawkers and moved them from the roads and
    pavements to properly constructed nearby hawker centers with sanitation. By the early 1980s all hawkers were resettled.
  • In 1964, when in Malaysia, In one incident, the Indian cowherds were bringing their cows into the city to graze on the roadsides and on the Esplanade itself. By December 1965, the had seized and slaughtered 53 stray cows. Very quickly, all cattle and goats were back in their sheds.
  • Campaigns for greening of Singapore and also to encourage people to be courteous towards tourists as well as locals
  • Singapore was part of the equatorial rainforest belt, with strong sunshine and heavy rainfall throughout the year. When trees were cut down, heavy rainfall would wash off the topsoil and leach the nutrients. To have grass green and lush, we had to apply fertilizers regularly, preferably compost, which would not be so easily washed away, and lime, because our soil was too acidic.
  • One compelling reason to have a clean Singapore is its need to collect as much as possible of the rainfall of 95 inches a year.
  • Cleaning up the Singapore River and Kallang Basin was a massive engineering job.
  • Farmers, fishermen, cattle rearers were all resettled gently
  • All factories had to landscape their grounds and plant trees before they could commence operations.
  • The whole of Singapore and the surrounding region was covered in haze from forest fires in Sumatra and Borneo in 1994 and 1997. Plantation companies, after
    extracting the valuable timber, set fire to the rest of the forest to clear the
    land for oil palms and other crops. In the dry season, the fires raged for
  • SG banned the importation of firecrackers altogether for safety
  • The pride of the colonial past was Government House, once the seat of British governors, now the Istana where the president and prime minister have their offices.
  • Fortunately SG had not demolished the historic districts of Kampong Glam, the historical seat of Malay royalty, Little India, Chinatown, and the old warehouses along the Singapore River.
  • From the 1970s, to save the young from a nasty and dangerous addiction,
    all advertising for cigarettes was banned as well as smoking from all public places
  • A ban on chewing gum in Sg brought much ridicule in America. As early as 1983, the minister for national development had proposed to ban it because of the problems caused by spent chewing gum inserted into keyholes and mailboxes and on elevator buttons. Spitting of chewing gum on floors and common corridors increased the cost of cleaning and damaged cleaning equipment. Then vandals stuck chewing gum onto the sensors of the doors of our MRT trains and services were disrupted.

14. Managing the Media

  • The Nanyang Siang Pau, Sin Chew Jit Poh, and several smaller Chinese papers strongly supported the PAP because of its left-wing policy and the united front they  had with the communists. Many of the Chinese journalists were pro-communist. The Utusan Melayu was friendly in spite of the links with Chinese-speaking communists because Yusof Ishak, its owner and managing editor, was LKY’s friend and had appointed LKY the papers lawyer. He was later to become the first
    president of Singapore.
  • Almost from the start, the Straits Times was bitterly hostile to the PAP. As the first general election for a self-governing Singapore approached in May 1959, the Straits Times became vehemently anti-PAP
  • It was PAP’s declared policy that newspapers should not be owned by foreigners.
  • After SG became independent in 1965, the Straits Times moved back to Singapore, did a complete turnaround and supported the PAP.
  • LKY stated “Freedom of the press, freedom of the news media, must be subordinated to the overriding needs of Singapore, and to the primacy of purpose of an elected government.”
  • Govt decided in 1986 to enact a law to restrict the sale or distribution of foreign publications that had engaged in the domestic politics of Singapore.
  • When false allegations were made against Sg Govt, there were restrictions imposed on the number of copies that can be circulated, on both the AWSJ and Time magazine.

15. Conductor of an Orchestra

  • Goh Keng Swee was the finance minister under LKY
  • LKY’s involvement in his cabinet ministries would be only on questions of policy
  • Malaysians wanted to break up Singapore’s joint airline with Malaysia called Malaysia-Singapore Airlines (MSA) in 1968
  • Th real dispute was over flights to uneconomic Malaysian destinations, which SG
    would not agree to unless the losses were borne by Malaysia.
  • MSA airline split up in October 1972 into Singapore Airlines (SIA) and Malaysia Airline System, where SIA handled all external routes
  • the British were reluctant to give us landing rights to SIA in London. So LKY and Devan Nair put pressure by slowing service of British planes in SG
  • In July 1972, before SIA was launched, LKY spelled out the need for a
    Singapore airline to be competitive and self-supporting; it would close
    down if it incurred losses. SG could not afford to run an airline just to
    show the flag like other countries did.
  • The committee for new airport  believed the first Changi runway could be ready by 1980 and the second by 1982, whereas the second Paya Lebar runway could only be ready by 1984 because of the need to divert the Serangoon River and compact
    the soil of the riverbed. Saigon and South Vietnam had just fallen to communists then.
  • The new airport at Changi would cost  S$l.5 billion and still need to spend another S$400 million to expand Paya Lebar’s passenger and freight-handling facilities
  • Changi Airport was completed in six years while the expected time was 10 yrs for that size. It opened in July 1981 and was Asia’s largest airport.
  • 20 kilometer  expressway that links airport to city was  built on land reclaimed from the sea, without road congestion
  • By 1975, traffic jams at peak hours were unbearable. So the govt proposed to charge a fee for cars entering the central business district (CBD) at peak hours.
  • LKY proposed that a new car owner had to bid for a certificate to purchase and put the car on the road. The number of certificates available each year would depend on road capacity. The roads then could accommodate a 3 percent annual increase of vehicles. A person had to bid for a certificate of entitlement (COE) to use a new car for 10 years.
  • In 1994, COE exceeded S$100,000 for a car of over 2,000 cc; in addition to other heavy import taxes.
  • Before SG decided on an underground mass rapid transit (MRT), it had a public debate for a year on the merits of an MRT as against an all-bus system using dedicated roads. Rainy days clog up buses but not trains
  • In 1998, SG introduced electronic road pricing (ERP). Every vehicle now has a
    “smart card” at its windshield, and the correct toll is automatically deducted every time it passes under gantries sited at strategic points.
  • One sensitive issue was the most troubling concentration was in Geylang Serai, which together with Kampong Ubi and Kampong Kembangan formed the biggest Malay settlement where over 60,000 Malays lived in poor conditions. Problem solved in 10 years with housing them in HDBs.
  • For building replacement mosques, a building fund was setup which which received S$l per month from each Muslim worker through CPF system.
  • When people recongregated by selling and buying new homes,  the govt was forced in 1989 to put percentage limits (25 percent for Malays, 13 percent for Indians and other minorities at the block level).
  • From 1960s, three or four single-member constituencies were amalgamated into single group representation constituencies (GRCs) to be contested by three or four candidates as a group or team which had to include one candidate from a minority community, an Indian or Malay.
  • Another racially sensitive problem that troubled LKY was the consistently poorer performance in mathematics and science of a larger percentage of Malay students
  • Mendaki (Majlis Pendidikan Anak-Anak Islam—Council on Education for Muslim
    Children) was formed and to fund Mendaki, the govt deducted 50 cents from each Malay’s monthly CPF contribution. The contributions increased gradually, with increased incomes, to S$2.50. The government matched it dollar for dollar.
  • The progress achieved by Mendaki encouraged the Indian community to form the Singapore Indian Development Association (SINDA) in 1991. The following year, the Chinese formed the Chinese Development Assistance Council (CDAC) to help their weaker students.
  • the govt found caning more  effective than long prison terms and imposed it for crimes related to drugs, arms trafficking, rape, illegal entry into Singapore, and vandalizing public property
  • In 1993, a 15-year-old American schoolboy, Michael Fay was charged for vandalizing and given a punishment of 6 canings.  Inspite of appeal from U.S. President Clinton to President Ong Teng Cheong to pardon, he received 4 canings
  • In 1984, LKY decided that the government would pay all employees through GIRO. Many clerical and manual workers preferred to receive cash, saying they did not want their wives to know their pay. These objections were met by opening Post Office Savings Bank (POSBank) accounts
  • LKY decided at the age of 72 to take instructions on using computers though his colleagues were using it regularly by then.
  • Yong Pung How was former classmate of LKY at Cambridge. In 1990, he was appointed the chief justice of SG from OCBC’s vice chaiman  with a salary of S$2 million a year; As a judge, he would earn less than S$300,000
  • The World Bank recommended Singapore’s system, both at high court and subordinate court levels, for other countries to learn from
  • Devan Nair was chosen by LKY as the president in 1981. But he later turned out to be an alcoholic and uninhibited with women especially on a visit to Kuching (Sarawak) besides domestic violence on his wife. He resigned later. LKY later sued Nair in 1988 on some allegations by Nair about LKY. Nair was key in 1960s in forming NTUC and early modernization of Singapore

The Omnivore’s Dilemma by Michael Pollen: Synopsis-Part1

  • The vast variety of food choices in the supermarket is mostly variants of corn
  • Carbon dating can determine if a product has natural ingredients or petrochemicals
  • Carbon gives quantity to life forms and nitrogen gives quality
  • Most plants make 3 carbon chain compounds from photosynthesis but corn makes 4 carbon compounds that makes it open the stomata less leading to less loss of water. Thus it can store more energy and can survive in water scarce and high temp conditions, As it intakes more carbon, corn is less selective of the isotopes of carbon and intakes more C13 than usual. Thus more corn fed humans have high C13/C12 ratio
  • Corn (Zea mays) has domesticated humans for its own survival than the other way round. It needed humans to separate seeds and plant them to save it from extinction. Humans created conditions for its profusion and survival.
  • Corn was native to central America and known only when Columbus landed in 1492 till then unknown in what familiar EU. Corn adapted a lot not only to humans but also to machines, fertilizers, yields, pesticides for its survival
  • Corn Sex process-Human intervention
  • The native Americans were no longer needed after the white man is taught how to grow corn. So, Corn survived later even after the native bison and native Americans were exterminated. The initial EU settlers also brought with them apples, pigs, wheat, and also weeds and microbes to the New World that posed threat to native plant and animal species. But corn was more robust and productive than maize for the conditions in America
  • Pork is a concentrate of corn’s protein and whiskey is of corns calories
  • Corn had a dual role of food and as a commodity that can be traded- leading to emergence of market economy. It was also used to pay for the African slave trade.
  • Corn traits could be replicated with a good yield only for one generation. So seeds had to be bought every year from a particular corporation, which boosted the businesses. Corn is the bio-equivalent of a patent
  • The ammonium nitrate and other poisonous gases and war machine factories left over after world war 2 were put to use by government to produce fertilizers, pesticide etc
  • Nitrogen determines the quality of life as it is an important building block in proteins and genes.
  • Before Ammonia production by Haber’s process, the nitrogen fixing bacteria were the only source for nitrogen in soil. N2 in air is useless as it is inert. So food production was limited that would have eventually led to population stagnation. 2 of 5 people today would not be alive if not for haber-bosch process.
  • Though Haber won Nobel prize for his work in 1920, he was less popular today due to his involvement in advancing German war efforts in WW1. When the British stopped Nitrate imports to Germany from Chile, Haber’s process sustained ammonium nitrate production for making explosives. Later, he also developed poisonous war gases like ammonia, chlorine and led from frontlines in war. He also developed Zyklon B which was later used in Hitler’s concentration camps.
  • With fertilizers, humans shifted from directly eating from Sun to sip petroleum
  • It takes more than a calorie of fossil fuel energy to produce a calorie of food
  • Farmers use a lot more fertilizer than taken up by corn to play safe. The excess pollutes the water and environment by decomposing to nitrites and binding to hemoglobin, more algal growth killing ocean diversity, poison fish, hypoxic oceans,  etc
  • Our nitrogen cycle is more screwed up than carbon cycle
  • Though the current corn price is a dollar less than the cost of producing it, still farmers grow it because of perverse economics of agriculture-not farmers psychology but farm policies. It is explained by Naylor curve. When prices drop, farmers try to make up by producing more using extreme measure further degrading the land and further drop in price due to overproduction.Demand for food isn’t elastic. Unlike other farms, agriculture cant lay off and ppl don’t eat more because it is cheap. You can lay off a farmer but not the land. Some other  who needs cash flow may produce more.  During Nixon admin, govt began supporting corn at the expense of farmers, increasing production and decreasing price. Corn also received economic subsidies.
  • Agriculture is always going to be organized by govt. But for whose benefit? Now it is for Cargill and coca cola, not for the farmer
  • Thoreau- “Men have become tools of their tools”. Some farmers work outside to sustain their own farms
  • Corn also moved from the perspective of respectful food to respect-lacking commodity as farmers sense of ownership of grain degraded through mass production practices unlike the olden day 1850s sacks with names of farms. The sentiment towards the grain itself has deteriorated due its commodity nature of trading using conveyers, wagons, elevators. Eventually , all pride of corn qualities is lost as long as it met a regular standard by the govt. And pooled with all other corn from other farmers. Only ‘bushels per acre’ mattered breaking the link between producer and consumer. US paid in 2005,  19 billion USD of taxpayer money to farmers for price deficits.
  • Nature hates surplus and it has to be consumed. Cows, salmon are not corn eaters by nature but now they are corn-fed in the farms. 60% of all corn goes to feed livestock.
  • Just 4 companies(tyson, cargill, swift, national) manage 80% of livestock farms and slaughter houses in US
  • Coevolutionary relation b/w cows and grass. The cows expands and maintains the grass habitat by preventing trees and shrubs that hog sunlight. Cow also spreads grass seed, plants it with hooves and fertilizes with manure, In exchange, grass provides lunch to cows. Cows have highly evolved digestive organs-the rumen to convert grass to protein by intestinal bacteria, unlike humans.
  • The life spans of cows at slaughter have reduced from 5 yrs to 2.5 yrs to 15 months today. I.e FAST FOOD, a stter (cow)from 80 to 1100 pounds by feeding corn, protein and fat supplements, drugs for 15 months
  • Feeding leftover cow parts to cows as protein source led to BSE or madcow disease. FDA banned the practice in 1997 but only for blood and fat parts. Sometimes non-ruminant meat is fed to ruminants
  • Evolution selected against cannibalism as a way to avoid some infections.
  • The species are evolving to absorb the excess corn produced but most of them are sick as of now.
  • Unlike humans, cow stomach is neutral ph. Corn feed makes it acidic and lead to Bloating (gas accumulation due to lack of fiber and only starch) and affects liver, heart, rumen due to infections. Antibiotics are used to solve these problems in cows. The manure from these cows is also toxic with high levels of N. P, hormones, heavy metals etc
  • Feed to flesh ratio for cows 8:1, for chicken 2:1
  • A cow at slaughter would have consumed an equivalent of 35 gallons of oil-I.e a barrel
  • If we are what we eat, then we are also what we eat eats I.e number 2 corn and oil

Singlish: Common Phrases and words

Chop-chop: Hurry up

Shiok: Great

Act blur: Pretend to be ignorant, feign ignorance

Action  In this context, the term means that the person being described is arrogant and haughty.

Ah Beng Hokkien. A hillbilly, someone with little dress sense.

Ah Lian Hokkien. A transliteration of the name “阿蓮”. The female equivalent of Ah Beng

Aiyah! (or Aiyoh!) = Oh God!!

Akasai Hokkien. A pejorative description of something or someone as extremely cutesy and girlish.

Alamak Portuguese. Phonetically close to the Chinese term “Oh, my mother!”. It expresses shock or surprise

Ang Moh Hokkien. “Red Hair”, a pejorative term for people of Caucasian descent.

Ayam Malay. Chicken. Used to describe someone who is easily intimidated

Blur English. Clueless. In a daze. Unaware of what is going on.

Buay tahan : Cannot stand it

Da bao (or Ta Pau)  To take away food.

Liao Most basic and famous of Singlish expressions. Means “already”

Char Kway Teow (Hokkien) Fried flat rice noodles with bean sprouts, Chinese sausages, eggs and cockles, in black sweet sauce, with or without chilli.

Ice Kachang Crushed ice with flavoured liquids poured into them. Beans and jelly are usually added as well.

Mee Goreng (Chinese/Malay) Malay fried noodles

teh-O-siu-dai Tea with less sugar

Kopi-O Coffee without milk

Kopi-C Coffee with evaporated milk. The C refers to the Carnation brand of evaporated milk.
Kopi-Peng (Hokkien) Coffee with ice.

teh-Tarik ‘Pulled’ tea with milk, a Malay specialty.

Blur like sotong – literally blur like a squid. To be extremely clueless.

Don’t fly my kite/aeroplane – Rare expression. A Singlish expression which means ‘Please do not go back on your word’

Liddat oso can!? Can it also be done like this?

Why you so liddat ar? Why are you like that?

You want 10 cent? – Means to “buzz off!” Refers to public phones that require 10 cents per call.

Pai Seh-Means to be embarrassed. Usually used as an apology after making an embarrassing mistake

lah,Leh, liao, lor, meh, mah??? Question endings for emphasis of different types

Ta Pau – Take away

Wah Lao (Eh) /Wah Seh / –  Exclamation of shock.

Yaya Papaya – Singlish – Used to describe someone who’s proud, arrogant, or showing off

Cheem –Difficult? Confounding? Confusing? Complex? Perplexing? Bewildering?

Sia– An exclamation

Banana English  A Westernised Chinese Singaporean who lives distinctively like a Westerner

Boh Jio  Hokkien/Teochew           You didn’t invite me

Confirm plus Chop           Singlish Shortened from “confirm plus guarantee got chop” To mean that you are extremely sure of something

Gone-case          English  Means that one is doomed

Kiasu     Hokkien/Teochew           Hokkien transliteration of the Chinese slang term “驚輸”. Literally means to be afraid of losing

Pai Seh Hokkien               Means to be embarrassed. Usually used as an apology after making an embarrassing mistake.

Shiok     Malay    To express sheer delight with an experience, especially when eating great food.

Si Mi      Hokkien   “What?”