Friday, 23 September 2016

The root cause of today's world problems! How to be saved?

Is the world a becoming a much better place to live?

Errr…..maybe:

Yes, if you are more concern about material success where personal pleasure pride and ego matters a lot to you.

No, if you prefer righteousness, compassion for others, peacefulness and joy.

If you belong to the “No” camp, then this article will be relatively easier to comprehend. If you are the “Yes” camp, hopefully this article can change your perception, even if it’s effect is comparable to a mustard seed.

Is money root cause of all evil?

So what is the root cause of all evil? I am sure many will be say "Money" without second thought. 

NO!... Surprise?

Money plays a very important part in our lives. There is absolutely nothing wrong working hard and earning money for our living. Neither is having lots of money sinful in proper channel. 

It is the misuse of it that is evil. Take for example, strength and wisdom are supposed to be good. However if we use strength to oppress and enslave people, then it is not good. Likewise, if you use wisdom to cheat, then it is evil. So it is the mis-handling of money that can be harmful. 

Furthermore, if you love money so much that large part of your life is being dictated by it or motivated by it, then it can be dangerous. This attitude towards material wealth is normally prevalent when pride and ego prevails over humility and compassion.  

Do not deny by the lips that you are not over-indulging in money. Most are today. Search your heart and review your actions TODAY. 

The root cause!

The root of all roots of evil is LOVE OF SELF.  

Most people are trapped in a little prison called “self” within their heart. 

It is the love of SELF, which makes you love MONEY so that you can buy self PLEASURES. 

The obsessive love of self is the fundamental problem of today’s society. All other problems such as immorality and ethical corruptions stem from it. Unfortunately, self-love is a carnal nature in all humans. It is inborn and once it transgresses to ethical corruptions, it will always get worse and is always irreversible. Therefore the sad truth is that the world with the fleshy nature of human beings can only be uglier and uglier. 

One day, men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, blasphemers, and be rebellious to parents. More and more family and marriage relationships will be broken. People will also be ungrateful and without natural affection. There will be more slandering, unrestraint and fierce solely for self-interest. People who do good will be skeptically despised upon. More betrayals will take place even within close ones. Ultimately, people will be lovers of pleasures more than anything else.

Who can help us?

So to whom should we turn to when these evil doings take place? The masses will turn to their government and politicians? Others will rely on scientific breakthrough? Or doctors, lawyers, and the list goes on…..

Personally, I do not think anyone have the remedy for the problems of humanity today? Perhaps, there will then emerge one leader who claims that he/she will have the solution. The crowd will then be mesmerized and believe in him/her.  Let you NOT be the one being fooled, for his/her solution will be the worst it ever done before. 

Like all evil things, it will only provide temporary goodness, but the permanent end result is destruction! 

When will be the perilous times?

So when will the perilous times come? Nobody will know. Anyone who gives you a date/time, that person is certainly a bluff. Do not listen to him! All we know is things will become fiercer or brewing to become fiercer and fiercer, even during calm times.

How can things be worse than WW2?
Wars have started thousands and hundreds of years ago in different parts of the world and so many people are killed back then. In the last century, the Great Depression and the two World Wars were fearsome.

You may think how can anything be worse than those events?

Yes, I agree that the world has been calmer after World War 2. But this does not mean that the world has been edified since then. Many more terrifying problems that appear good on its cover have been looming behind the scene in the last many decades.

Just to name one - Globalization. The advance in technology, internet, global monetary systems (with USD as reserve currency) etc are making the world inseparable today. Globalization is fantastic if the world is sanctified. On the contrary if the world is corrupted rife with immorality, the effect can be undesirable.

How to be saved?

Any prayers for things to turn out better will be useless. The problems will not go away. The only thing you can pray is for you not to live in an era where the worst will happen. However, for those who have descendants, this cannot be avoided. 

I am not negative and pessimistic. On the contrary, I am a very positive person. Just that, I am sure it is concrete that we will not be able to solve the problems of the world today. So don't bother to waste too much time on efforts leading to its salvation! 

What we should do can be as follows:

Stay calm and do not to be frightened! We can still save ourselves and people around us, if not the worldly problems.

How?

Turn away from sins
Turn away from sins. So what are sins? Greed, pride, self-centrededness, adultery, sexual immorality, impurity, lewdness, idolatry, sorcery, hatred, causing dissent, jealousy, rage, selfishness, heresies, envy, murders, drunkenness, fervent carousing etc. 

Instead, be loving to even strangers, caring, forgiving, peaceful, and patient. We should infuse ourselves with righteousness, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, and self-control for peace, joy and abundance will then follow. Give more thanks and speak words of goodness over words of insult from the mouths. 

Many illnesses are also result of the aforementioned sins we committed or our past generations committed such that we are cursed. So don't think that you are a law-abiding citizen, never committed any evil, or harm anyone, you are not sinful? Even your strong personal will, believing in yourself only can be big sin that can lead to sickness too! That is why so many people who always believe in "mind over body" eventually ended up in hospital. It is not a coincident or accident. It is self-created illness. 

Change your oldself
In order to do above-mentioned, you have to stop loving yourself too much!

Let us not be conceited. Be humble, for pride and ego is one of the biggest sins, many are unaware. Stop doing everything to glorify yourself and make yourself the idol for others to satisfy your pride and self-centeredness. These attitudes will cause downfall.  If sinned, confess and turn over a new leaf. Proclaim your old self died! 

Faith and equipped with knowledge of Truth
Equipped yourself with the knowledge of the “Truth”. It is not just to make you wiser. Instead, it is to make belief, be prepared, do the correct things, and most important of all, lead the correct way of life. Have faith in your believing of the "Truth" for that can be overflowing with goodness, peace and joy. 

Spread the grace
Do not forget to spread the grace and help people in need. Your spiritual well-being will be rewarded.

Rolf’s final thoughts

Lest not worry that you are neither the richest, nor most famous or powerful, for the abundance in life is righteousness with knowledge of the truth, faith, peace and joy. You will then automatically be blessed with health and no lacking of prosperity.



Saturday, 17 September 2016

Shipping, Oil and Gas industries – Where is the light?

The shipping and oil and gas industry are in dire straits.

Hanjin Shipping – No longer too big to fail!

The biggest news lately is the collapse of Hanjin Shipping leaving so many ships, cargo and crew stranded globally. Even the state-owned company is clearly “not too big to fail”. Korean government decided not to inject anymore capital in the mismanaged company burdened with >$5 billion in debt.

Hanjin’s collapse is considered by some analysts to have the same detrimental impacts in the shipping industry liken to that of Lehman’s brother’s to the financial industry. Almost over 80 ships are released into the market now. Clearly there are no signs of any short-term recovery due to the over-supply.

So do you think Temasek made the right decision to sell NOL?

Oil and Gas – long harsh winter

Almost two years of depressed oil price has sent shivers down the spines of so many O&G / Offshore and Marine related companies. While oil price rout is the main culprit in the beginning,  the biggest problem now is no longer the oil price per se for many companies in Singapore. Just like the shipping industry, the main problem is the hugely oversupply of the rigs and vessels.

Even if oil price is to soar for whatever reasons, International Oil Companies (IOC), National Oil Companies (NOC) will be prudent in their new Capital Expenditures (CAPEX) plans and Final Investment Decisions (FID). The new projects trickled into the industry will not be sufficient to absorb the largely oversupply of rigs and vessels, which were mostly speculated during the height of the oil price as well as during periods of unusually low interest rates after the GFC. Mind you, there are hundreds of vessels and rigs combined now still stuck in the shipyards all over the world, let alone the many more that are cold-stacked near-shore.

It could have been worst (or it will be even worst!)

The biggest fallen stories so far are still only the judicial management of Swiber and Technics.

Frankly, being in the industry, I think it is under-stated. There are seriously more companies in trouble than what is shown on the surface. We are only talking about the listed entities. How about the private ones?

The single biggest key reason why many O&G companies are still hanging on precariously is in my opinion, due to the leniency of the banks. The question is how long can banks support more and more debt-ridden and mismanaged companies?

Even Korean government is already letting Hanjin go?

Borrow more to redeem what was already owed

One example of bank providing the lifeline is shown in the company Mencast Holdings. The company redeemed S$50 mil Fixed Rate Notes due this month. In order to redeem the “Notes” to avoid default, Mencast borrowed more money. According to announcement on SGX, on 19 August 2016 Mencast entered into the following banking facility agreements with UOB. 

1   (i)  secured loan facility of up to S$50.0 million; and
2   (ii)  secured facilities of up to S$24.9 million, comprising term loan facility, trade facility and money market credit facility,  

The funds will be used for the redemption of the outstanding bonds, refinancing of certain existing loan facilities, general trade and working capital purposes.

Of course bank will not just lend. There is a condition relating to each of the Banking Facilities named (the “Relevant Condition”) whereby a mandatory prepayment event may occur if:

(i)  the controlling shareholder of the Company (who is also the executive chairman and chief executive officer of the Company), Mr Sim Soon Ngee Glenndle, fails to own and control, directly or indirectly, at least 10% shareholding in the Company and certain subsidiaries; or

(ii)  Mr Sim Soon Ngee Glenndle loses management control of the Company and certain subsidiaries.

The aggregate level of facilities which may be affected by a breach of the Relevant Condition (including facilities which will be affected as a result of cross defaults) is approximately S$74.9 million (excluding interest) as at the date of the announcement. 

Earlier in June this year, Mencast was served a Writ of Summons and a Statement of Claim by S & W Engineering Pte. Ltd. and Mr Wong Chung Kang seeking a sum of S$2.35 million allegedly due from the Company.

In another instance, Marco Polo has also just convened an informal meeting exploring various options relating to the impending maturity of the S$50 mil Notes due 2016. They are in discussion with the Noteholders to proceed with an exercise to solicit for consent from the Noteholders for an extension of the maturity date of the Notes.

Rife with Legal issues

During the good times, nobody really bothers too much about the details of the terms and conditions. When times are good, trust is easily established because everyone’s attention is only on harvesting. During bad times like now, relationships or friendships are forgotten. Many companies are already resorting to legal methods in any attempt to keep oneself afloat. Ethics…..Nah…. It is all about survival!

Some examples of legal struggle as follows:

Marco Polo Vs Sembmarine – Breach of newbuiild rig contract?
Nam Cheong Vs Petra Offshore – cancellation of newbuild vessel contract
Pacific Radiance Vs Chinese yard – refund of installments for newbuild vessels contracts
Otto Marine Vs Hoe Leong - winding up application for debts owed.

CAD is also involved now.

The hottest boardroom tussle recently is involving SBI Offshore. The company has appointed new directors and lodged a report with the Commercial Affairs Department (CAD) in relation to possible breaches of securities laws and other offences related to transactions involving a former associate company. Read : “SBI Offshore lodges report with CAD over possible breaches of securities laws”

So the tunnel is dark, with no signs of light ahead in the short term. 




Sunday, 11 September 2016

Are you in a stressful “Dog eat Dog” work environment? How to deal with it?

I received a comment in my earlier blog post Happiness Vs True Happiness, from a reader. Below is the comment, which inspired me for writing this post.  

Hi Rolf, always enjoyed your enlightening posts. This post is something I have been struggling with as well. I work in the banking industry and it is a very dog eat dog* world. 

I have been backstabbed many times until I have learnt to guard against others. And have become sceptical, selfish and hostile to some people. To be honest I feel that even if I am nice to these people they will not reciprocate the same way too. So I have no choice but to guard myself against them. 

Recently I have fallen ill and it is a longterm illness. I also think that it is partly due to my inability to let go off work stress, money stress and stock stress.. 

Now I try to relax more, but still being in this industry it doesn't help. And it is not easy to change industry or down size my salary Coz I feel that I am still young and can earn more......but still I am good to people who I think are good or people whom are good to me..

* “Dog eat Dog” - if a situation is dog eat dog, people will do anything to be successful, even if what they do harms other people. In this case, the reader is referring to office politics where people step on each other's back in order to climb the corporate ladder. Also known as “Dog bite Dog” in mandarin direct translation. 

Not just in banking, it is everywhere

I am deeply saddened by the reader's comments that he/she had fallen ill due to the burdens of work, money and stock stress! I sincerely hope that he/she will be able to recover in due course. My sincere blessings for him/her. 

I am a victim myself many years ago and fallen ill due to work. Read here. The culture of “Dog eat Dog” in work is quite a common phenomenon today. It is not just in the banking industry. It is almost everywhere, although I admit that I heard more of this loathsome culture in the banking sector.

The stages.... 

The stages of evolvement in a person climbing for success are almost rhythmic.  It is depicted as follows. 

Unblemished  
You started young and innocent, almost unblemished! You are kind and always trying to extend helping hands to others. The kindness is not reciprocated and often taken for a ride. The environment is rife with backstabbing, just like the reader mentioned earlier. You feel disgusted but helpless. Soon you become sceptical and weary in helping and learn to safeguard yourself more. In the process, you are no longer as “caring and charitable” as you use to be! You are more seasoned and sometimes can even become hostile and selfish.

The desire 
Then you begin to see what money and power can bring. You envy the special treatment received from colleagues when they are on top of the hierarchy. Next it is the material enthralments...the cars, the clothes, the watches, the house, and even the attraction from opposite sex with the allure of wealth. Your material desire grew and you work hard to attain it.

Conceit and jealousy 
There is absolutely nothing wrong, for you reap what you sow with conscience clear. Having said that, it will probably goes amiss when our humility recedes and arrogance grow in an insuppressible manner. We become oblivious of how others feel and it's everything for ourselves, everytimes even outside the "working system". We are blinded by conceit and wealth.  We are jealous about other's material success because, we feel that if he/she can do it, so can we. We yearn for more and more. Character and behaviour changed. You are almost a different person you fail to notice, but people around you feel it.  The group of friends you use to mingle is replaced by new friends who are very attached to the topics of luxury.

The thin line between arrogance and ignorance  
You feel on top of the world thinking so highly about yourself. The goals are set higher and higher. When the pursuit of greed, fame and power peaked, so is the ignorance. Just one misstep, moral values will be compromised too. 

Iniquity translates to calamity
As iniquities continue, darkness ahead is imminent. No matter how we comfort ourselves by lips that we will not blinded when pursuing affluence, the truth is you can never realize it when you are enjoying it so much the pleasures where wealth brings. Soon many bad habits will develop. This will lead to deterioration of health. Likewise, the evilness in one's heart will result in wrath which will lead to sore or broken relationships with your close ones. The worst calamity is when evil deeds will be handed down cursing generations after generations. 

Repent and seek for forgiveness
Of course there will be many who realize early along the way, seeking for forgiveness and repentance. Normally it is when they are apparently humbled along the way either by huge relationship or health failure. Then they decided to change path for the good. For those who continue their stupidity, the bigger misfortune will befall one day. 

Be reborned as a new creation
Nonetheless it is never too late to repent and be a “new creation” to see the light ahead.

The possibilities and how to deal with it

We cannot change the rules of the game in the system we live today. Similarly, in our workplace, there is no use crying over it. Tellingly, there exist several possibilities resulting from the encapsulation of the current “wicked system”. 

Scenario 1 – Become the devil 
Collude and become devilish as well. Short term happiness but long term tragedy! 
  
Scenario 2 – Stay weak and be crushed
Weakness or ignorance is equally sinful. You will soon be the unhappiest person on earth. Illness and depression fill your lives. Fears and worries at franked your bedside every night. Suicide is contemplated or will be resulted.

Scenario 3 – Give up for good 
I have many friends who gave up the “deemed-evil” work environment during their late 20s / early 30s.  This is when switching industry is still considered easier. One of them is my current stock broker who left the banking industry and he told me it is one of the best career decisions. Sometimes we need to learn how to give up and forsake to gain more. 

Scenario 4 – Hang on, but have a plan date to leave
Most will prefer to have this possibility. This is feasible only if you are discipline on the plan date. However the more we delay in getting out, the less likelihood we are able to do so because of "more" (higher income and position) we have to give up. 

Scenario 5 – Stronger than the devil and beat him in his/her own games
This is the most difficult but most effective. I will spend more time sharing because this sounds very similar to my own testimony.

To overcome the evil minds, first you have to understand the system. Then see from outside the system even if you are inside the system! Sounds a bit complicated? Maybe just like NEO, Trinity, Morpheus etc in the movie Matrix. 

Read my various series of Matrix posts. 


Once you are able to comprehend the rules of the game and see through the devil’s minds so clearly, you will then need to speak the TRUTH to ward off the devil in his/her own game. 

The WORDS of truth are so important. It has to be cleverly crafted too to be effective. 

However there must be no hatred or personal agenda that prevails over the overall benefit in a bigger picture. Otherwise you will be no different from the devil. 

Then, continue to shower with the right mixture of love and the truth, and righteousness will ultimately prevail. If it is defeated, do not be disappointed for it is likely that either you cannot be strong enough or it is pre-destined that you will be better off leaving the "system" and seeking a much better life elsewhere. 

The faith must be strong. On the contrary worries and fears weaken! 

You can only be fearless when you are clear conscience and the faith is so strong that you know you will be protected. And not just that. Somehow you will be blessed to comprehend and see “darkness” coming earlier than the rest and will already prepared way in advance for the worst. And when the worst come, you are not frightened or troubled, for this somehow must take place and it definitely does not spell the end of world, but perhaps only the end of era.

Focus on the goodness outside the system

Do not bring work stress back home. Admittedly, it is sometimes easier said than done. Do not mock me for saying this if you yourself are feeling the work stress.

This is a difficult time in the economy.

I know the stress because I am personally experience the most difficult time in my career being in the O&G sector. Many of my friends in the industry are already feeling so stress on the brim of breakdown. Even the veterans in the industry for decades are not spared.

Therefore, if we are unable to let go the troubles in work, what we can do is to focus/create more goodness outside work. Your parents, your loving wife, your children, your friends, your hobbies... You can also take up new interest, get to know new friends outside work. Develop spiritual well-being too. More importantly, strengthened relationships with people around you, whom you cared, through love and concern. Even if it may not eradicate our work stress entirely, it should help to relieve tensions. And at the very least it will not lead to health and relationship problems.

Rolf’s thoughts

Sadly, it is almost inevitable when we are entrapped in today's "system" climbing higher due to allure of wealth, power and status. Neither can we change this fact nor change the system we are living in today. BUT do not be frightened or troubled.

Yet, we can definitely OVERCOME EVIL with more faith, patience, perseverance, wit and more wisdom in life and remember to turn away from sins. Equally important is to speak the TRUTH with the showers of LOVE and the BELIEFS that we will be PROTECTED by DOING GOOD from the greater power beyond us.