Monday 16 August 2021

Active Versus Passive


Imagine you are one of the citizens of Kabul now.

You're probably mad with yourself for being so "passive" with what's happening in the months since May of this year...

This is what happens when you expect others to take care of you.

Before the 1997 hangover of Hong Kong to Mainland China, the company I previously worked for decided to shift their Asia Pacific office to Singapore. That's how I joined the company in  1997.

Yes, its a corporate "hedge".

10 years later, when the coast is "clear", the company shifted the Asia Pacific office from Singapore to Shanghai. I was already working in Shanghai at their trading office for 3 years.

Before you get angry or too patriotic, count the number of their retail stores located in China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Korea, Japan versus the numbers of stores in Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia... 

It helps to see things from the perspective of landowner.

Its the same for those "active" Hong Kongers who decided to emigrate to Canada, Australia, United States, Singapore; etc - BEFORE the 1997 hangover.

When things turned out OK, they returned back to Hong Kong to work. Hey! Asia is where the action!

Just as long we do not have another World War 3 in Asia, this century should be our turn when it comes to prosperity and progress!  

Now if these returned Hong Kongers don't feel comfortable with what Mainland China is turning Hong Kong into today, do you think they were glad being "active" years ago before 1997?

Treaties are words written on water if you cannot enforce it.

Good luck trying to tell Mainland China, "But you promised 50 years no change!?"

Look, what's the point of being so called financially literate or financially free if you cannot protect yourself and your love ones?

Investing vehicles can be passive. That's not the issue.

But if you have a habit of sleeping on the wheel... 

Well, doing a mad dash out of the airport is like trying to get out of a fast declining stock before it gets halted...

That's when you realise from that point onwards, you have no say in your own future whatsoever.

You are now totally dependent on others. 

That's passive.



  1. Elderly folks may be can learn from elderly 'Titanic' couple.

    1. CW,

      The touching story of Isidor and Ida Straus is one where I am ashamed to say I don't think I can live up to...

      In a sinking ship, I really hope I will choose honour - women and children first!

      But the sad reality is I believe I'll be like the Christian priest in the movie Kingdom of Heaven - suggest surrendering to the Muslims, convert, escape, pray for penitence. And then its all good all over again!

      Shepherds can makeup their own rules as thry go along. That's why they are shepherds, not sheep.

      I'm more an arhat - I only care about my own cultivation.

  2. Not really related to your boss. Smol

    But reading western papers report on Afghan is really...

    1st elephant, why is the Telaban holding the non provincal cities (they already conested in half the territories many donkey years ago) able to sweep thro? Why no resistance? Is there really a difference to most common people who rule them?

    I know no one locally, it will never be answered. Obviously the govt US work with for 20.years is not winning much heart. Well, maybe it is a lesser evil, but evil nonetheless. No resistance for most places.

    Back to passive.

    There is a virtuous or vicious cycle when the active are the successful who easily gets away, or have dual citizens and the passive, find plenty of moutains to climb.

    But i rather be non judgemental, because very likely, if singapore economy goes into a structural tailspin, i am not too sure where to go too.

    Maybe the weak understand the poor.

    That food seller or a nobody in Herat, i dun think life makes a big differenxe to him.

    But landlords who dun run?? Who knows why

    1. Sillyinvestor,

      We should be thankful a group of "ungrateful" elite students studying in UK decide to be active - we should decide our own fate!

      This is not some "main main" stuff. Freedom fighting or independence to the other side is considered treason or sedition. Death by firing squad!

      Even today, I am sure there will be some Singaporeans or Hong Kongers who prefer or long for the "wonderful" bygone days where "ang moh tua kee" can take care of them forever and ever.

      Food seller or nobody no big difference?

      You seem to forget 池鱼之殃.

  3. Smol,

    As a famous fighter pilot once said, "It's the man, not the machine."

    Someone buying "passive" investments does not necessarily mean he's doing passive investing.

    Similarly, someone buying individual stocks doesn't necessarily mean he's doing active investing.

    I daresay the majority of Afghans pretty much know the previous govt regime won't last long if the US pulled out. It's not rocket science ... the performance of the various Afghan govts over the past 10+ years speaks for itself.

    However it's kinda hard to be active when you don't even have a machine or means in the first place.

    So for them change of rulers or govts just means keeping heads down, do what they want, and get by day by day. And hope the new regime isn't a Khmer Rouge genocidal psycho.

    Even for those middle class with a bit of money, all along it's hard to get immigration clearance for whole family in the big wealthy countries.

    Those that wanted to would have done it over the last 15 years, often ending up as taxi drivers, small food shop operators, plumbers, electricians, construction workers etc in US & Western Europe.

    The focus is on the childrens' future.

    As a side note, if a person or family has the majority of their assets (especially physical properties or physical businesses) tied down to one place, it becomes difficult to be nimble when that place gets into trouble.

    1. Spur,

      If a person has no choice or options, then there's nothing more to say.

      Its like being a kampong chicken, the only thing you can do is pray there's no VIP visitors visiting...

      I am reminded of a story I read about a white landowner who regretted not emigrating to Australia in the early 70s, like his neighbour who is willing to start from ZERO all over again.

      The reasons are the usual:

      If I leave I'll have to write off all my farmlands...

      My family, relatives, and friends are all here...

      I am born and breed here. This is home.

      Unfortunately, when black guys turn up in trucks with AKs, they had other ideas...

      The white farmer eventually lost all his farms and land holdings.

      And he is considered the "luckier" ones.

      Other white farmers not so lucky as they went "missing" never to be found again.

      And we don't talk what happened to daughters and wives...

      That country was formerly known as Rhodesia. Its now known as Zimbabwe.

      In the same vein, the majority of middle class Singaporeans will face the same dilemma as the dithering white farmer - how to move when the majority of your assets is in properties here and tied down in CPF!?


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