Saturday, April 25, 2009


My swimming competition ended yesterday, marking the end of 2 years of trying to swim competitively. As far as I’m concerned, competing is simply a motivation to work smarter and train harder – hoping for medals is unrealistic, having joined at such a late age.

Technique and water confidence aside, the real takeaway is in the life lessons learned. Usually, competitive sport is supposed to inculcate the determination to train and the resourcefulness to train smarter – and I’ve definitely learnt quite a lot in this respect. But as a relative outsider, I see swimming in a rather different way from the others.

Most competitive swimmers that I know started young – in primary school or earlier. Most of them come from relatively well off backgrounds and have extensive parental support – such as being fetched to and fro from trainings, as often as 6 days a week.

While a small percentage are serious and determined – and these tend to be the ones winning the medals – many seem to lack the motivation to train harder or smarter. To them, they have lost the desire to win and training has simply turned into a routine: they just do whatever the coach tells them to do and then go home after that.

At the same time, there are others who didn’t have the opportunity to swim when young who join, even if they have no chance of winning. Usually these people are from poor backgrounds, but on a whole their motivation level is much, much higher than those who started young.

After all, swimming is just another activity that one can do: This pattern of a small group of enthusiasts and the rest just going through the motions or being there for the bragging rights is, after all, common to almost any other activity.

If anything, this pattern challenges the notion that the best way to raise kids is “starting early” by loading them with all manner of stuff: it may actually hurt them by decreasing their “hunger” – essentially the motivation to learn.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Aware: the fight starts

Now that more information has come to light about the intentions of the newcomers and what they do, things are starting to get heated.

The new exco seem to be in some sort of rush to cement their hold on power, with all the changing of locks, firing of staff and replacing them with their own people.

As a Christian, I'm not exactly happy with the acceptance given to homosexuals, but the new exco's intentions do not warrant the sneaky takeover, and in doing so they've lost whatever moral high ground they might have originally had.

This is especially so considering that many in the group are high fliers, and Dr Thio herself is a lawyer: they should know enough about the available channels to express their concerns, or simply just set up their own group.

The implications are rather clear: the church's reputation is going take a big hit unless some church leaders, particularly the Church of Our Saviour leaders, speak up about this and distance themselves away from such behaviour.

One can only wait and see what will happen.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Aware's change of leadership

It's quite obvious that this is coordinated - it can't be that so many newcomers just turn up out of nowhere and run for exco posts.

The most troubling thing about the new exco is that they refuse to disclose any information about their agenda, instead choosing to issue out meaningless vague statements.

Whatever cause this unknown group intends to promote, it doesn't justify taking over in such a fashion. Besides, if they had something to vent, why couldn't they use dialogue and SAY it out first rather than choose such a sneaky measure? And of all things, the new exco is comprised of high flyers, who of all people should have known this fact the most.

With that, is it surprising that everyone is so suspicious of them?

Thailand: the army steps in

The army has finally taken sides and started taking action to disperse red shirt protesters. Even then, it seems like the army is divided, with certain officers being quoted as facing a dilemma over whether to follow orders to quell the rebellion or not. This isn't surprising given that the red-yellow divide tends to be along socioeconomic lines; it is inevitable with any army that most of the soldiers, particularly the rank and file and junior officers, come from lower socioeconomic classes.

As said before, the army's quelling of the protests only stops the violence in the short term, and definitely doesn't solve any of the underlying issues. It only raises more questions about double standards - the PAD was able to blatantly seize various public buildings and airports in the country without any reaction from the government.

Now, the question is, what is the UDD going to do in reaction to this? They have several options besides waiting for the next elections: an underground guerrilla campaign, provoke the military to crack down and thus bring international pressure on the Thai government, or perhaps even incite a mutiny in the army. Who knows? The only thing for sure is that they will retaliate in one way or another.

Either way, the Abhisit government doesn't seem to last very long in this power play.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Thailand's red shirt revolution

Now the red shirts have managed to disrupt the ASEAN summit in Pattaya, to considerable embarrassment of the government.

Not surprising, given that nothing was done to stop the PAD from seizing buildings and airports last year. The message sent to them was that blatant violence can be used to achieve their means.

This protest was inevitable anyway: there was plenty of discontent in the masses bottling up against the royalists and the elite. With little way to vent their anger, it was inevitable that it would come to this.

Now it's a question as to whether the army decides to get involved, and on who's side. If things come to a head, the power struggle between Thailand's elite and masses could well turn violent.

Either way, this problem isn't going to be solved anytime soon. And the region ends up as the losers.

North Korea's missile launch

If anything, North Korea's missile aka fake satelite launch would most probably gain it more bargaining chips, since it is now one step closer to a nuke delivery system.

From the response of the international community so far, it seems to raise a few questions:

- Pyongyang claims that the purpose of the launch was for peaceful purposes - to put a satellite broadcasting revolutionary songs and whatnot (of all things). Why did the international community do nothing to blow this lousy excuse? They could have at least demanded to send observers to inspect the so called satelite, the launch or both.

- Why should Japan allow North Korea to blatantly overfly its territory with such a rocket? The next time, North Korea might well load a few WMD warheads downrange as a gift during the next test.

This looks almost exactly like what history has already taught us so many times: let a bully take an inch from other countries unhindered by the international community, and soon they'll be out to get a mile. Britain's appeasement of Hitler and America's refusal to fight so as to win in Korea and Vietnam comes to mind.

Now that North Korea has launched its rocket, the international community should try to get them where it hurts - their money supply. Much of North Korea's income is derived from sales of illegal stuff like drugs and arms, and much of it is carried by ships. Increasing naval patrols, stopping more ships going to and from North Korea in the seas around would well hinder the flow of such contraband, and not least cause them much embarrassment when their activities are brought to light.

That said, one must hope that China and Russia do more when concerning North Korea. Both would gain something big out of it - with less instability coming from North Korea, northeast China and the Russian Far East Federal District would enjoy more development. Also, China's might be able to counter the notion that it makes friends with dictators for resources, like in Darfur and certain conflict areas of the world.

Hopefully, the international community finds a way to really give North Korea a slap in the face.

Thursday, April 2, 2009