Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Random thoughts: positive and negative motivations

During my NS days, I have problems clearing my 2.4 KM RUN. Our unit insists on only 1 gold timing and nothing less. So we keep running and running. 

I remembered having burst my lungs to meet the timing only to be told I need to be 30 sec faster in 1 month time, because I would have officially turned "ops"

As usual, we have solid runners who clear the timing without missing a beat. We were always told to push harder, do more do more, open up the stride etc. My mind was: I AM FRECKING trying, but it is a fact that some are just faster!! 

I remembered the trainers telling me how to pace myself, how to accelerate at what spot, etc, but inside my heart I am thinking: you are FOS, I can beat u in a run anytime. The better runners just tell me, keep running !!

There is this arrangement for those who passed their 2.4 KM RUN to run with the failures at half way mark, and some who completed the run EARLIER will accompany the last 400 m.

One fine day, my OC finally changed my motivation. Instead of barking at us. He barked at the pacers:" you f**ers, if u want to pace someone, you run the whole 2.4 km  route with them. If u think its tiring, then don't run.

I had another friend who was a soccer whiz in my next run. I was wondering how to keep up in pace with him.

Because of my ego, I gave all that I have, at the half point mark, where I usually "puncture" I noticed him getting slower too, instead of slowing down I suddenly found a new strength to go even faster. In fact, I was leading him and I felt super motivated. That day, I cleared my 2.4km

While I never had problems clearing it over the 2-3 times on my own, I can never break that day timing. No matter how hard I try. 

Another occasion was my first army half marathon. I was told last minute to run it as a show of support for my unit's competitors. Hello! 21KM lei, can I show support at the end point instead or just give them a hug ?? 

I was wondering how long I can last until I saw this pretty ACJC girl running, and boy she is fast! I keep pace with her, using every once of my strength until I see myself overtaking one of my unit competitor who is giving up and walking.

I was thinking of talking to her at the end part, until I got leg cramps just 2 km before the end point. I stretched and tried to make up time and when I finally catch a far far glimpse of her, my legs cramped again, this time jialat jialat! Lol

I walked the rest of the 1 km back 

Monday, June 22, 2015

Random thoughts: something never change

Random series has nothing to do with money.

Was craving for an ice-cream. What a hot day. Was contemplating about whether to get one, save some money, bad for health, FI. WTF, I went ahead anyway.

Was looking for a Magnum Ice-cream. Ya, I ate Atas ice-cream. But decided to go for a cheaper cornetto ice-cream. Then I saw the cheapest options, one of my childhood favorite. 

It remembered it was one of those atas ice-cream at 50cents. It costed 50cents then, and $1.20 now. 

It looked super small sized and I was thinking how inflation has manifest itself in a ice-cream.

Then, I suddenly had this thought: or is it the same size but my mouth had grow bigger?

As I enjoyed my ice-cream, I realised something never change. I used to suck on the 10 cents "sen bao" and even 5 cents half "sen Bao" and crave for 50 cents ice cream. 

My taste changes, but craving didn't. It got worse LOL

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Random thoughts: A tribute to my Father, Happy Father's Day

Had been a long time since I spend the whole day with him. Although we spend the afternoon napping LOL. In fact, I cannot remember the last time we went out together, excluding those short dinner sessions. In fact, searching my whole mermory, there is not really quality time like today, where we stroll along river safari and had a good lunch chatting. My childhood memories include a few movie sessions, 1 Thailand trip, and were mostly the time I spent with him manning our Prawn Noodles Hawker Stall. I am closer to him than to my mum, and today again is one of those days we had quality conversation. 

My father taught me well, without teaching me. He told me that we need to be trustworthy, and if we say we will be home by 6, we will be home by 6. If we promise to meet someone, we must meet someone. 

The rest, were captured rather than taught. Working hard, enduring hardship.

A few things set me thinking again, after today lunch session.

He told me, he enjoyed the Swensen meal, and he like me bringing him to taste these 西餐,which he never tried before. We were early when we finished our walk at river safari, and I ask him to tell me what he like to eat. He told me to bring him to taste something he never tried before. LOL, 童心intact, still so adventurous. He was telling me although he didn't get the names right, that he like the Subway bread too, but didn't really like the Mexican cafe ( I can't remember the name too) 

He was telling me that he wanted to eat a 10 cents noodles so badly that he ate 霸王餐(eat without paying) when the owner is not looking. So sad, and here I am craving for comfort food, complaining about my hectic work. He told me to work hard when young, and I told him I am working hard to the point of missing lunch regularly. He smiled.

He told me because of our allowances, he get by every month and spending slightly less than 100 in 4D. He still
Managed to save a couple of hundreds a month. It is not in him to spend everything.

I am quite clear about his finances. He has less than 40k in savings, and survived mainly on our allowance. When my mum falls sick, he had on numerous times ask if it is necessary to take less money from me. I told him I am really screwed if I have to cut down on his allowance. 

So, it is possible to retired with about 800 In singapore, and he paid for the utilities etc. 

I am so worried about my finances when I have so much more. Simply because I live more "comfortably". I have also more savings. At the end of the day, perhaps I should not worried about reaching FI, but having little needs at old age. 

I hope I can be like him when I am old. Generally passionate about living, simple and carefree. He is not at the pink of health, with the weak legs that goes along with old age, and also kidney weakness. 

Happy Father's Day. 

Friday, June 12, 2015





哇... 这把盐都在地上,捡起一些吧。








Latest action: Sold Parkson and bought back CMPH

I sold Parkson Retail Asia for a loss of 10%.

There are 3 risks which have surfaced since I last bought it and out of which, I think 2 will have really undesirable consequences which I didn't account for when I brought it. So I cut loss.

1) Ringgits continue to weaken, although I expect weak currency to continue, the pace which it is weakening is leading to a more scary second reason

2) (http://www.businesstimes.com.sg/government-economy/ringgit-declines-as-fitch-flags-possible-rating-cut-in-malaysia)

Possible downgrade by rating company Fitch. Although it is not a sure thing, and consquences unknown, it is seldom pleasant when a downgrade occur. Capital flight when US raises interest rate is a real threat with real percussion to the economy. It never rains but pour for Malaysia recently, with the 1MDB scandal and Mahathir's Salvos all unnecessary distractions. The constant flow of bad news from Malaysia Airline is  not helping matters.

3) The third and last straw is the possibility of MER outbreak. I already exposed to Retail play through LMIR, I do not want to stretch myself. 

The last reason is not related to Parkson's business but my gut feel that the market correction is too shallow. 

As for CMPH, I sold it earlier simply to lock in profits and I have already said I do not find anything fundamentally wrong  with the company. The close to 20% correction since I last sold it allowed me to increase my holding to 7 lots with no extra costs, so I buy. I was lucky, it was falling so quickly in that 2 days that I keep wondering if there is some bad news breaking. It took really a leap of faith to go back in again. Luckily, the rise is also as quick in the last 2 days with no bad news reported. 

Let's keep fingers crossed about Greece. 

Also, it is too short a message to write in a new post, but I think Currency is the next crisis rather than US interešt hike. 

So do examine your portfolio to prevent overexposure to EM currencies.

Singshipping with its revenue reported in US should be insulated in this currency mess, if any. 

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

A second look at Sembcorp Industries.

The holiday is finally here, and finally get some time to do some online research on companies.

It kind of coincide with the sales that is going on with the market right now. I will be looking at various companies and decide on the shopping list later.

I will not do number crouching here.

Sembcorp Industries faced 2 headwinds.

1) Lesser retail contracts and and lower rate of re-contract of utilities in Singapore.

2) Sembmarine's drillships time bomb

Of the two, the second reason is the scary part of the equation. I believe India's Operations should be able to offset the weaknesses in the local utility scene.

Look at the capacity of India, it is 3 times that of Singapore, of which 500 MW is already committed and " will be sold to the Central, Eastern, Southern and Northern Power Distribution Companies of Andhra Pradesh for a period of 25 years." (Source: http://www.tpcil.com/PPA.html)

Andhra Pradesh needs a new capital and with all the building going on, it will be power hungry. (http://www.straitstimes.com/news/asia/south-asia/story/singapore-help-develop-new-capital-city-south-indias-andhra-pradesh-20141)

Also China water capacity will be increased by 4 folds once Nanjing and in particularly ChangZhi becomes operational.

SembPower has no moat of whatsoever in the local supply scene as it is a small niche player at Jurong Island only. Look at the EMA report:


The scary part is the drillships contracts which is about 5.8 billion of the 10.6 billion order that sembmarine is currently holding. If will not be pleasant if Brazil Petrobras do cancel the orders.

In terms of valuation, I play around with the DCF parameters and did a reverse DCF. For Sembcorp to be at $4, it should generate 350k FCF annually (Conservative), at 4% growth rate and 8% discount rate. (with 20% MOS) Another combination is 500k FCF at 10% discount and 3% growth rate without MOS. I do not find these metrics screaming "undervalued" with the uncertainty of fate of the drillhips.

It seems with a yield of sub 5%, I should keep looking. If drill ships orders are intact, Marine should limb along, and growth rate should be reasonable even at 4%. 

Q2 might provide a cigar butt moment if Sembcorp continue its fall. With China and India contributing more in the utility segment and UK sale of asset and land sales booked in Q2, It will and should be a much better quarter than Q1

Will continue to look at other companies. Another company I wished to take a closer look will be M1

Sunday, June 7, 2015

Random thoughts:Involving your spouse in your journey towards FI

I did another round of budgeting recently.

Although my pay is "high", but most of my expenses are fixed expenses that cannot be reduced. e.g. Children's school fees, mortgages, etc

I felt quite demoralized after that, and I told my wife about it.

My wife's initial reaction was "so, what do you want me to do?" I was offended but in the end, to cut a long story short, we did have a good conversation on our financial goals.

I realized although we are married for almost a decade, we did not really sit down and talk about each other finances. Only recently, did she realize how heavy the family expenses were when it is shouldered by me alone.

She is not spendthrift, and save quite a lot through these years. She also opened up her finances for me, and only until did we know each other "assets" so clearly.

I have always wanted to build up a base, but now I told her it might be faster if she also involved in this building up of "passive income". She agreed that I will be the brains behind all the buys and Sells calls and she will not buy or sell without my consent, but the money will remain in her account.

I felt a better sense of "security" after our conversation, and also felt we understand each other better now.

I had made a mistake of being a MCP, young investors starting on your marriage, do not make my mistake. It is good to talk about the finances thoroughly. It might be unpleasant initially but nonetheless important.


Thursday, June 4, 2015

Random thoughts: A recap of a hectic and Mad Fortnight

Looking back at the last fortnight, one thing is getting clearer and clearer, teaching is worth it, my job isn't. I am making plans...

I enjoyed the Nanjing Immersion trip, appreciated the time spent with the children, it was sobering both for them (I hoped) and myself.

First day, there was a flight delay and we were 3 hours late. When we arrived at Shanghai and took a coach to the school at 5 p.m. On the coach ride from Shanghai to Nanjing, I have 2 kids that pee on the travel coach! When I realized it, I was shocked that they cannot even hold their bladders for 2 hours. They use the SIA paper bag to contain their fluid and when I tried to get a plastic bag to hold it, I was 2 seconds late and my hand is....

Then I talked to the teacher from China, I realized all the prior discussion on the activities we would like to have were "empty talk"- promises but no delivery. But to her credit, she did make changes to some of the programmes. There are lessons from my part too, I should have insisted on a detailed black and white program sheet, (Which I asked for, but not delivered, instead I was given a whatsapp chat group to discuss the needs..) Then, I realized the weebly website that I PAID to update the activities and photographs in China side cannot be accessed from China. This is my fault. When I asked the China counterpart to check, he did told me he could view the website but could not logged in. I thought he got the password wrong, but end up I spending the first night recreating another QQ website.

Second night, 2 kids start to fall ill. Then 4 kids. but 2 recovered on the second day. Someone unhappy with the results of the cleanest dormitory competition break the dormitory door! sigh...

Third day, the sicked recovered but another 6 fell ill after a mountain climb. By night time after the hot afternoon activity, half the group is unwell. I went to get masks, vitamin C and isolated all unwell.

Fourth day, almost all recovered, but 3 were still unwell and we sent all of them to see a doctor.

By the night, we were quietly happy that we had only 2 kids unwell. Throughout the trip, I have feverish pupils in my room. I am surprised I have not taken ill until now.

Fifth day, we had a girl with fever at 38.7, which we also sent to the doctor, and there was a big downpour. We have to wait for her return before we returned to Shanghai.

She was given a drip with herbal fluid because the Chinese doctors are worried that she might be allergic to the antibiotics. Her temperature went down to 38.4 and we decided to leave for Shanghai

One hour into the coach ride, the storm get bigger and her temperature become 39.4! I later found out that that day was the same day the storm caused the Nanjing Vessel to capsize

We keep sponging her to try to bring down her temperature but it went up to 40.1 instead, and she kept asking "are we reaching? are we reaching?" Although everything turn up well now, we were getting ready for medical evacuation and were worried sick then.

We were told we need to get a Doctor report before they tell us how to go about getting the evacuation. I was busy getting the paper works done with another colleague as we carter a car to bring her to a Kids Specialist Hospital in the city area.

The paper work to be done is ridiculous daunting, having need to get Principal and Parents signature for a document that is password protected!! My colleague and I slept less than 3 hours as we took turns to sponge her throughout the night. We were later told that there will be no evacuation.

We took a big risk and  had the parents' consent for the girl to take antibiotic. She recovered then.

Hell of a ride.

I enjoyed it. My mind is a constant state of vigilance. I was very worried that once I let down my state, I would fall sick. We got the next 2 days off from work, but I still go back to clear my backlog slowly, and let down my guard slowly. My colleague who was fighting side by side fallen sick yesterday.

My Principal ask me why so many fell sick just now, I explained. Although she was very gentle, she seems to suggest that so many fell sick because we didn't isolated the first 2 kids enough. (e.g. Gather in group, meal time etc, although we isolated them from the school activities and the dormitory from the rest.) I was rather offended although I am sure I didn't show.


Right before the trip, I was preparing pupils for a entrepreneurship competition. We did the worst. I couldn't really get over that results although I know the 2 objectives of signing up for that competition are meet. They are selling sponsored stationery to FAS (financial assistance scheme )   pupils who will each receive $20 worth of vouchers. I wanted my pupils in the FAS to get some free stationery. First objective met. Second objective, I get the whole class involved in folding paper cranes and hearts as stickers on the pens as a gift. They told me that are very happy helping others. Second objective met. I have no desire for the top 3 positions because the results was based on 2 criteria, one was presentation, another was sales. I sold my pens cheaply so that many could more for less. My stall sold the goods the cheapest. The presentation, I didn't prepare them well enough as I only have 3 sessions with them. I believed the killer for the poor results was the component on a slogan (口号), the schools have slogans that are paragraphs long...I only have 7 words.

The organizer are very kind and reminded me that it is very different from the rest and marks are given for that component.

I thought about it, and told my pupils that if we look at the world around us, "fingers lickin Good" for KFC, "I'm loving it" for MacDonald and "delighting you always" from Cannon, none will have a tagline or slogan that are longer than a sentence. I prepared them that we definitely would not win anything from this competition but I insist that we live in the real world, and we learn the real stuff. Looking back, did I regret my decision for not changing the slogan and hence getting last in the competition? I don't know. I am not as Zen as I thought I could be.


I love educating and teaching children, maybe because of my big ego, that like to tell others what to do. I however, are contemplating my options. Maybe It is better to leave when there is still love...