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Wednesday, 3 October 2012

Justice Bao and Bail-outs

When I was in primary school, I remember a Taiwanese TV serial on Justice Bao was all the rage in Singapore.

“Kaifeng you ge, Bao Qing Tian. Tie mian wu ser…” The rest of the song I forgot liao…

I remember one memorable story was about the Grand Tutor’s only son of around 20 plus. 

This prodigal son lived a life of privilege and decadence. Always bullying others and getting his way. His family had always bailed him out whenever he ran into trouble or afoul of the law.

One day, this prodigal son’s luck ran out when he murdered a man due to taking liberties with the man’s wife. 

And when Justice Bao presided over the case, he bravely sentenced this Grand Tutor’s son to death by his famous Tiger head guillotine.

Apologies for skipping much of the details especially the interesting scene where the prodigal son’s Granny challenged Justice Bao with her dragon-headed tongkat (staff) – this staff can be used to discipline the Emperor!

But Justice Bao had his “execute first; petition later” imperial sword from the Emperor… So in Singlish, it’s a case of “My one more power than yours!” 

What I want to highlight is the scene on the night before the execution.

The granny visited her grandson in prison for his last meal.

Can you guessed what happened?

The prodigal son on realising that this time there are no bail-outs – like all the previous times – started scolding and blaming his granny…

“Why didn’t you scold me when I broke the vase as a child?

Why wasn’t I punished when I took things that did not belong to me?

Why was I able to get away with beating our servants?”

Why, why why!? Well at least before the end, both the prodigal son and his granny realised what they did wrong. You would almost feel sorry for the both of them…  

Funny, I wonder why this scene flashed to my mind recently.

Was it because of how some parents were in the news over how they tried to “bail-out” their children?

Or was it because that young descendant of old wealth has “wisely” decided to drop his appeal (or has someone knocked some sense into him?) over his prison sentence? How would it look if the other 47 men all got prison sentences and he is able to get away with a slap on the wrist for committing the same act? 

Or is it about the criticisms of central bankers – especially the US Fed – for bailing-out speculators and sacrificing pensioners and savers on the altar of “too big to fail”?

Some even say the NASDAQ and US property bubbles were caused by the Alan Greenspan Put… Every time the economy got into trouble, the Fed will come to the rescue – just like the Granny in the above Justice Bao story.

Or is it about the “slow motion train wreck” happening in Europe now? Everyone looking at Germany to bail-out everyone else? Just as long it's not your money right?

It’s so easy of me to take the philosophical view. And I know it! 

Come on, we all know what’s right and wrong... Or is it…

What if I had whole-life and/or endowment insurance policies with AIG USA?

What if I worked for General Motors?

Most of you and me, fellow investors, also got bailed-out or profited from QE1 from March 2009. So I ain’t complaining! 

My most frightening fear is:

What if it’s me personally or my child that’s facing the music?

Wouldn’t I want a bail-out too?

The brain is humbled by the heart... 


  1. remind me of a another taiwaness great - "pow piao" (the security escort) haha.

    it sing like this, ... haha never mind.

    1. Ha ha!

      That's the Taiwanese TV serial heydays before being overtaken by HK serials like Man in the net, etc.

      Chow Yuen Fatt was so skinny then ;)

      During "pow piao", all of us have our little plastic swords...

      And Star Wars came and the light sabre won.

      Ah! Good times!

    2. Ha! Ha! Huh?
      Since when the Head says one thing and the Heart listens?
      The saying the "Spirit is indeed willing but the Flesh is weak" applys to all of us regardless of whether we are believer or not?
      It's when the "spirit & flesh'' is one then maybe the Buddhist says he has attained "Nirvana".
      In the art, we say he has attained the highest level.
      For those who believe in CHRIST, we all should live like the 12 chosen disciples of Christ.
      In truth, if we can emulate even a tiny fraction of their lives, we have "spirit & flesh" in one already.

    3. temperament,


      When it does not affect us personally, we are all ever so pristine and cerebral.

      But when we have our own skin in the game, we may sing another tune...

      Like those we own their HDBs may "complain" new BTO prices too high; they worry whether their children can afford them in future.

      But if HDB starts selling new 5 room HDB BTOs at $200,000... will the "complainers" be like those HDB heartlanders that express NO to old folks facilities nearby? What will happen to their HDB resale value?

      People can be so inspirational; yet sometimes we can be so full of it too...

      Sometimes I am amazed at my own double-speak. LOL!

  2. I have a hard time explaining to my son why I am harsh on him when he did something wrong. Maybe I will use this example and hope he understand me better.

    1. YJ72,

      Just like when we were recruits during NS, I never understood why all the punishment, tekan, shouting, and tough love...

      I only realised the reasons why much later when I was in leadership and evangelist roles.

      It's not easy being a parent. I respect!


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