Wednesday, April 22, 2009

What and who can you trust....

As more juicy details from the Renci case emerges, Singaporeans must be wondering what is going on in our charities. This is the latest in a number of scandals - NKF, Youth Challenge, St John's Home for Elderly Persons etc. When you have a lot of money lying around without processes and checks in place, you can expect people to be tempted and dip their hands into the cookie jar. Honest people can become less honest...and totally dishonest people will try to get into these institutions by looking honest.

Other than charities, we also had numerous corporate scandals in the past few years. Other than those involving Chinese companies (too many to name) listed on the SGX, there were a number of corporate scandals among Singapore companies - Citiraya, JEL and ACCS had CEOs who cooked their books. A number of these CEOs were also Enterprise 50 (E50) and were held up as role models for budding entrepreneurs before the scandals broke. I took a particular interest in the Citiraya case because of the number of people involved to perpetuate the fraud. Citiraya was an electronic waste recycler that found a way to make more money. Companies like Nokia, AMD and Seagate sent its electronic parts to Citiraya to be destroyed and have precious metals extracted. Citiraya realised that it could make more money by reselling these parts to companies in China. To do this the CEO bribed employees from 3M, Advanced Micro Devices, Seagate and STMicroelectronics[Link] who were suppose to witness and verify the destruction of the electronic components. Citiraya's CEO Ng Teck Lee fled with $72M and has not been caught[Link]. This case tells us a lot about honesty and people - many will take bribes if they believe they won't be caught.

There were also scandals in private schools. A number closed down after collecting student fees. One feller teaching options trading was found to have used a fake Phd [Link]from a degree mill...the same chap also promised people attending his course that he could teach them strategies that will make big trading profits. I wonder why so many people fell for something so obvious - if this guy has the holy grail of options trading why does he need to teach to earn money. Maybe some people thought that he was just kind and wanted to share....if he was so kind, why was he charging upwards of $3K for a 3-day course? ...yeah and why did all of us go to school for 20 years to get our qualifications when all we need is a 3-day course to make loads of money?!

All these cases tell us a number of things:

1. You simply cannot trust people to handle money when there are no checks in place.
2. When there are processes in place, crooks try to get around them sometimes by bribing the people checking on them. You need external auditors....and you need to rotate people.
3. Crooks are attracted to institutions like charities which people tend to trust.
4. Transparency is important. Sunshine is the best disinfectant. People behave better when they cannot hide information.
5. What is too good to be true usually is....magic healing stones? Nigerian scam...extraordinary claims require extraordinary proof.

My advice is to view everything critically with a healthy dose of skepticism. Now watch this video. of the tricks people learn quickly in life is most people judge a book by its cover. If you want people to trust that you're a qigong master, you should dress like one. Notice the table cloth? No transparency on what is beneath the table. Being able to move things without touching them is extraordinary remember extraordinay claims require extraordinary proof. This chap is good enough to appear on the news....can you trust everything you see on the news and read in the newspapers? Is qigong for real? [Answer here]. ...and where did the amazing powers of the qigong master in the video come from....springs...yes springs. Thanks to Lim Leng Hiong who posted in the comments section this link on how it was all done: [Link]


Anonymous said...

Come to think of it, there are many more huge "Charity Organizations" that are receiving enormous amount of donations everyday without checks. Who knows where this entire donation goes to? The only thing I see in Singapore is the poor are not getting much financial assistance from any of our many Charity Organizations. Again, do all these Charity Organizations need to have CEOs who are receiving 5 figures pay monthly? Who are making all these minimum salary decisions?

Anonymous said...

Aiya, this is human nature lah. There is a monster in everyone of us. This monster will emerge when we know that there will be no or unlikely consequences (or it can be overide) when we can do something terrible like even rape or murder, what more cheating!

There are examples already if you read the news!

Lim Leng Hiong said...

Hi Lucky,

Thanks for the heads up on the qigong video!

Have you seen this series of videos that investigates his mysterious power?

LuckySingaporean said...

Leng Hiong,

Thanks for the link - I was not aware of the "how it was done" video. What I saw it (the original vide), I thought there were a number of ways he could have done it using props beneath the table.

Since we are on this topic. There is also a number of videos in YouTube on world famous sceptic James Randi which you might want to look up. James Randi is a magician who specialises in exposing fraudsters. He has a $1M prize for anyone who can perform a 'supernatural' feat under scientifically monitored conditions. No one has claimed this prize yet after a few decades.

Anonymous said...


Charities begging in the Streets to enrich their own pockets legally.

Politicans imposed laws and taxes on Pathetic Singaporean what do they get?

Who check on these people. How much have they taken?


Lim Leng Hiong said...

Hi Lucky,

You're welcome! When I first saw the video I thought that there could be an assistant hiding under the table, but there is actually nothing underneath it.

Come to think of it, the mechanism has to be pretty ingenious to fit within the thickness of the table.

I think the gigong master Mr. Qiu was very gracious to allow his demonstration to be so closely scrutinized by the TV crew. The reporter was brutal to his methods, even swopping out his props right in front of him, but he gamely gave it a try.

Mr. Qiu later conceded that it was really just a performance.

By direct contrast, James Randi's old opponent, the "spoon-bending" psychic Uri Gellar, simply stopped and gave excuses the moment his props were swopped out.

To me, a bizarre thing about human society is that some of the most blatant fraudsters, even those who have been thoroughly exposed, are the ones who keep going and command a huge and devoted following.

It seems as if extraordinary claims invoke an extraordinary suspension of disbelief!

Onlooker said...

Power corrupts,Absolute power corrupt absolutely.
Trust is the foundation for SCAMs?

Anonymous said...

Hi Lucky

off topic but for ur reading pleasure.

Anonymous said...

we know the scam and some of the worse scam are operating right under our noses.

what's baffling is, why do we allow these scams to operate?

these scams can be nailed.

we need to work with the authorities to nail these scams.

ming yi is just a foretaste of the biggest scam in history.

Anonymous said...

To the PAP regime,

All these cases tell us a number of things:

1. You simply cannot trust people to handle money when there are no checks in place.
2. When there are processes in place, potentially crooked people in power will try to get around them sometimes by legally/illegally bribing the people checking on them. You need external pressure groups....and you need to rotate political parties for good governance.
3. Crooked politicians are attracted to government which people tend to trust or have been told again and again to trust without 'but's'.
4. Transparency is important. Sunshine is the best disinfectant. Politicans behave better when they cannot hide information.
5. What is too good to be true (e.g. the current 'golden era of singapore', the huge assets of Temasek and GIC) usually is....magic healing stones? Nigerian scam...extraordinary claims require extraordinary proof.

I rest my case.

Anonymous said...

Please read this. Unless u are sure that your leaders are better ppl than normal, this is what happens when hardship does not affect the ruling class and if there are no institutions which hold the ruling class responsible for the people.

Anonymous said...

check and balance,transparency and accountability are the most abused words today.

it's like asking thieves to jaga money with video camera, staring at the loot, with no juice.


Parka said...

Integrity is becoming such a rare quality.

Anonymous said...

Anon at 7:12 AM wrote "Who are making all these minimum salary decisions?"

It seems the culprits themselves decide on how much they going to pay themselves since they are the heads of the organisation and hold the power. Just like our million dollar Prime Minister, who paid himself the world's highest salary for a politician !!

Where are the checks and balances on salaries for our million dollar ministers ???

Anonymous said...

Our banks are no different from the fraudulent Charities - just look at the Minibonds saga, these banksters cheat old folks without battling an eyelid !! But are they brought to court ?? No ! Our gahmen side the banks and tells the victims "you die your business" !!

Anonymous said...

LUcky Tan,
can Singapore hire James Randi to expose the greatest fraudery of all times, the one perform by LKY and his coffers on so called miracles of Singapore ? and their magical theory such as transport fare not directly link to fare hike, GST to help the poor.

Those paranormal theory and "magic" of PAP ought to be exposed by James Randi,

James Randi will be very interested to expose the greatest trick by the shrewdest conman and his family.

Anonymous said...

Saying from the grave:

More money does not make an honest man.

More money just make an agreeable man.

No.1 Fan said...

lucky tan, thanks for another mind blowing article!!!

so... lky is a magician? :)

Anonymous said...

who can you trust?

i say, trust the P*P!

killed 1 + injured 1 = 1 day jail

Anonymous said...

"killed 1 + injured 1 = 1 day jail"

It is surely another magic trick of the PAP that no lesser mortal can explain it. I doubt James Randi can do any better.

James Randi, admit defeat on this one !

Anonymous said...

PAP has 2 different classes of action when it comes to justice:

1) Elites get the "killed 1 + injured 1 = 1 day jail"

2) Wearing a T-shirt with a picture of a kangaroo will land you in jail much longer than the elite who killed 1 and injured 1 !!

If this is not corruption, what else can it be ??

Anonymous said...

What about the ex-president of Taiwan? He is the greatest example

Anonymous said...

ABC Childcare sold for $A1 to charity...,,25372765-36418,00.html

Anonymous said...

But the people of Singapore really trust the PAP. Not once but every time!. Because of this great trust, even the opposition give a 50% walkover to PAP and contest only the other 50% seats.

Even then, the PAP can win 66% of the votes. Add together the walkover seats, they control 98% of all the seats by just getting only 66% of about 50% of the seats contested! Every election!

The maths equation for PAP at elections

50% no vote + 66% votes of 50% got vote = 98% of total seats

Why don't other countries learn this formula from the PAP? How come their people must need to protest in great numbers on the streets?

The trust for PAP is really amazing, come hell or high water.

Anonymous said...

Seriously as NS-serving and voting Singaporeans (sorry PRs aren't considered in the same category in my book), what can we do to improve our collective lives which are threatened by so many things, such as influx of FTs, overcrowding and a drastic fall in general living qualities?

1) Vote for change of gahmen?

Impossible due to frequent redrawing of GRC wards and heavy thumbing of opposition parties.

2) Be a hero and run for opposition?

Just as impossible since the criterias to qualify as an election candidate is so stringent, even esteemed US president Obama wouldn't have qualified. (It's true, read up the conditions on Singapore's Electorial Committee website).

3) Protest

Haha only good for those who are unemployed and seriously need 3 stable meals a day as the police will be on you faster than you can exclaim "WTF"!!!
Yes! It will happen to you even if you are standing in secluded places like Bishan Park not moving a muscle (thus no obvious "threatening or violent gestures") with a placard that says "My job has been taken away by a FT".

4) Gahmen has a change of heart (from the stony variety to the pinkish warming kind) and implemented life-improving legislations such as minimum wages scheme and abolition of the terribly obsolete Internal Security Act et cetera.

Again just as likely as you or me getting a "1-day" sentence for running a red light and causing 1 death and 1 injury.

Besides the above......what can we true-blood Singaporeans do?

I know the only way out (literally!!!)..........migrate!!!

By jaded Singaporean soon to be Aussie PR.

Anonymous said...

"50% no vote + 66% votes of 50% got vote = 98% of total seats"

Another great miracle of PAP !

James Randi,
give it up. You can't expose this because it is pure supernatural, not magic trick !

"What about the ex-president of Taiwan? He is the greatest example"

Stop look at other country, and look at own backyard because our backyard lies the greatest conman and family in the whole world ! What is Chen ShuiBian is nothing compare to the senile old fart who pass the law to prevent investigation of his corrupted regime ! Can Taiwan even beat that !

LONG LIVE EMPEROR LEE ! The kangaroo Law is Singapore's Great Wall of China !, the eighth wonder of the World.

Anonymous said...

... just "graduated" from a waste & recycling company in singapore ... a widely accepted and "clean" privately-owned organization. well, they cook "books" in some different ways by producing documents on works not carried out ... so how "clean" can the waste industry in singapore be in ? i really wonder, of their ingenious ways for carrying due-diligent audits with their customers who are top PC makers in the world by shipping the collected parts for resale outside of singapore and forged documents that say they were properly destroyed.