Sunday, September 24, 2017

Moon My Cakes - The Annual Rant!!!




 Well, every year I brace myself for what will be the new fangled flavours for mooncakes. Ta-dah ... last year takes the cake (pun intended). Its Angry Birds mooncakes!  I think its a brilliant marketing strategy, its taking China/HK by the proverbial storm. Is that raining bird shit ... no, its just kids throwing their Angry Birds mooncakes in the air for effect. 
Now we even get Nasi Lemak ones.

This is for the benefit of new readers of this blog who have only been visiting for less than a year.

Each passing year, we get further away from tradition. Is this fusion or variety or just plain stupidity. I am talking about mooncakes. The whole thing marks of a scam.

Who doesn't know that the cost of a mooncake is minimal really compared to their exorbitant selling price. Why do you think almost every restaurant sells them? There must be a global collusion to sell these over priced things - its a Chinese mafia I tell you.

At best, the mooncake festival can be an excuse for family togetherness. The actual reasons and history for how the festival started are pretty flimsy. Its more stuffs of legends and fairytales than rooted in reality. But anyways, since the Chinese culture has no solid God/religion, where everything goes (the world is full of deities and
buddhas as the saying goes), hearsay and stories evolved into things cultural, which in turn becomes tradition, and finally morphs into a marketing extravaganza.

Since it is stuff of legends and fairytales, its not rooted deeply in anything really, and is open for interpretation. It used to be just lotus paste and black sesame. Throw in the egg yolks if you want. NOW you have:
lotus with dried sambal; green tea with pu'er; dragonfruit with blackcurrent; spirulina; the omochis; the ice cream ones; the durian paste; pandan sweet corn; capuccino; yam gingko nut; chocolate strawberry fondue; the various types of skin covers; oreo; chocolate walnut brownie; charcoal powder with wolfberry; Charcoal Infused Mocha Milk Tea; Snow Skin Japanese Potato with Custard; Fragrant Corn with Soft Yolk; Royal Jade Jelly; Nutty Chocolate with Yolk; Snow Skin Raspberry; Bluberry; Snow Skin Silky Vanilla Chestnut; Snow Skin Black Sesame; Green Beans with Cheese; chocolate peanut praline; blueberry blackcurrant cheese; chestnut Japanese jingsa; .... enough already... we are all losing the plot!!! Heck, I can even create an apom balik black sesame eggyolk ikan bilis flat moon cake... its all marketing baby!

Go back to the roots of the tradition. Why do we have Mooncake Festival? Its for family togetherness, its really for the kids ... I remember as kids I loved the festival, the lanterns and candles. I liked that connection, knowing that my dad and grand dad probably played with similar lanterns, similar candles and ate the same kind of mooncakes 50 or 100 years ago. That's the tradition that connects, and the kind you want to pass on to the next generation.


Above: lanterns for sale around Mid-Autumn Festival.


Not that anything about the mooncake thing is true, however, its cultural and it carries values, things we want to pass on - whether the festival is rooted in true events is not material anymore.

Hence, please you bloody marketers,
do not cheapen the tradition. We want the connectivity. I will still want to buy the basic lotus paste or black sesame... and also the baked fish-shapes / pig-shaped mooncake biscuits ... because they all remind me of the past which I longed to remember and the people I do not wish to forget.


Of course, variations is a strong strategy to differentiate in a product/event that has "almost zero veracity" in truth or religious text. You don't find the Catholics changing ONE IOTA of the sacrament through the ages. Hence differentiation will continue cause no one cares, everyone is out to stand out and make money or get the latest "bling".

This year let me give you my HAZE Mooncakes, looks like smog, taste like freshly burnt tropical forest with a strong charcoal aftertaste - happy moonlike festival!!!

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

EPF Should Not Sell PLUS

Is there an alternative to North South Highway? How much of toll roads come under PLUS? There are 14.5m EPF members. We begrudgingly pay tolls, at least thinking some of it goes back to EPF returns.

If you look at our population bell curve, you can surmise that we are a growing population with a relatively wider base. In many aspects we are skewed towards a younger working population. This means that the annual contributions to EPF is likely to grow even more.

We can also surmise that there are limited investing opportunities locally, taking into account the kind of risk EPF is allowed to partake. PLUS is a significant player in an infrastructure that plays a critical role for the country. To replace PLUS with a similar investment with similar returns would be very difficult.


Fair Value - Not Enough Even

As a socialist-capitalist, I can be torn between getting more than a fair return on investment. That is, if an asset is being sold at higher than normal valuations, by all means, sell. I am certain that any potential buyer would have to offer a premium. The question then is how much of a premium would it make sense for EPF and Khazanah to dispose PLUS.

To me, the premium would have to be very high, so high that it would be silly not to sell, so high that it would be sillier to buy.








p/s: Yoona of Girls Generation


Critical Asset

Imagine a few years down the road, instead of the usual 5-10% annual increment, you see your normal RM1.10 toll

being raised to RM2.50. I am not saying it will happen. Yes there are rules to safeguard some of the increments, but seriously, it can only go up, and it won't be LESS than when EPF/Khazanah are the owners.

We are already having to increase our investing overseas owing to the deluge of contributions into EPF. We should not replace PLUS or assets with similar values.


Cornerstones Should Not Be Tampered With

We should be thankful that EPF has been able to give around 6% annual returns (tax free). Go and ask CPF whats their rate for the past few years. The high-ish rate is thanks to a solid platform girding the overall investing philosophy. Cagamas and other critical asset like PLUS are the cornerstones. You do not want to remove the cornerstones as the foundation would be shaky then.

Croatia #2 - Split

Visiting Croatia, the top places to visit in order of attractions: Split, Hvar, Vis, Dubrovnik. Split is a harbour front city. From there y...