August 28, 2017

– Our lives are in e-transtition as we switch to online grocery shopping, watching movies from our iPads

– Beggars are taking mobile payments as our favourite malls lie empty

– Capitaland, in a bid to remain relevant, has formed a strategic alliance with Alibaba to manage their HQ in Shanghai and launch an online mall on Alibaba’s Lazada shopping platform

– Alibaba wins because the world’s most valuable resource is now DATA and Capitaland tenants and shoppers may end up going online – what chance does a small landlord have these days?

– Our lives are in e-transition right now and our tastes are changing, as K-Drama is most watched on Netflix in Nigeria, Malaysia, Iran, Indonesia, Philippines and Taiwan

– The world’s oldest profession is in trouble—Sex dolls have become more popular in one Austrian brothel and commands a higher rate than some workers

– In the future, we may even have robo-models, singers and stars

– Jack Ma says to prepare for decades for pain as Elon Musk says it is Armageddon

– Land scarce Singapore has less to worry about empty malls which may be transformed eventually

Market Bash: Let’s Talk About The Weather

When we run out of meaningful things to say, we invariably turn to the weather and we can thank the Weather Gods for not disappointing with the apocalyptic weather around the world this week, delivering not 1 but 3 impressive storms—2 typhoons and 1 hurricane. Hong Kong bore the brunt of the damage for our conversation pieces and got a day off on Wednesday when Typhoon Hato developed into a signal 10 (out of 10) storm, the 15th in history since 1946, only to be met by a follow-up storm, Pakhar on Sunday, forcing more flight cancellations. Meanwhile, Hurricane Harvey is still battering Texas, albeit in redux from its category 4 (out of 5) status on landfall, not seen in over a decade even if costliest hurricane on record, Katrina, made landfall in 2005 as a Cat 3.

Perhaps the Weather Gods are working harder these days as studies have shown that the number of Category 4 and 5 hurricanes nearly doubled in occurrence since 1970, this is something we cannot blame Donald Trump for because his top spiritual advisor, Paula White, a religious heavyweight, has claimed that opposing his presidency is like “fighting against the hand of God”.

So much for making conversation, the Singapore National Day Rally speech saw a good segment devoted to diabetes and soda consumption that may or may not have caused a friend’s father to faint the other day, taking the speech with utmost seriousness and eliminating sugar from his already soda-free diet.

And our final talking point would be the new Singapore national branding project—“Passion Made Possible theme positions Singapore as a place where dreams can come true. Jointly launched by the Economic Development Board (EDB) and the Singapore Tourism Board, it will also be adopted by other statutory boards within the Ministry of Trade and Industry (MTI).”

It would take some getting used to. That is all we can say for now.

Life in the e-Transition Lane

We hear of more and more friends switching to online grocery shopping, setting up those Netflix accounts and downloading Pay-Lah on their phones. Now people worry when visiting China because they do not have WePay set up for the many shops on cashless payments. Then we read about even beggars in China set up to accept mobile payments.


Source: AsiaOne

Since signing up for the LiveUp programme and doing that regular shopping on RedMart (once a month before the credits expire), a friend commented that she has not had so much variety in her larder and freezer before, with frozen seasoned cuttlefish, pulled pork for tacos, shiso sausages and more.

It is life in e-transition as we see signs like the one below in our favourite childhood malls as a friend who is a landlord said he counted about 54 empty lots for lease in Far East Plaza recently even as Lucky Plaza continues to thrive.


The Fight to Remain Relevant

Brick and mortar is fighting back as Capitaland is doing this very week with a strategic alliance with Alibaba, to manage Alibaba’s new Shanghai headquarters and launch an online mall on Lazada Singapore, Southeast Asia’s largest e-commerce platform that is majority owned by Alibaba.


Source: Straits Times

Capitaland which manages 109 shopping malls across 54 cities in Asia, may be best poised to run a mall for mall-less Alibaba but Alibaba probably stands to gain in the long run, amassing new clientele on her online platform which can be viewed as a sticky, addicted fan base as Redmart fans in Singapore grow, spurred by those rebates and seasoned cuttlefish that Cold Storage does not carry.

Alibaba grows, Tencent grows, WeChat grows because data is now the most valuable resource in the world and Capitaland can only salivate because if Capitaland tenants sell more of their stuff on Lazada, they might even give up their leases in the long run. Drat, those data lying in those databases that need superchips from Nvidia, AMD, Intel, Qualcomm and ARM to run and software from big data companies like Palantir to grind through.


Source: The Economist

What are the chances that a small landlord will survive at this rate? Or should the business of owning commercial shop lots be left to the big boys like Capitaland?

It is Not Just Shopping—We Are In Transition

And transition is happening on a global scale as a friend recounted a recent trip to the U.K. and seeing an African woman on the tube transfixed on a flick on her phone which turned out to be a Korean drama!

It is nothing new because Netflix statistics have 6 non-Korean speaking countries watching K-Drama as their most watched programs! They are none other than Nigeria, Philippines, Indonesia, Iran, Malaysia and Taiwan!

Source: Koreaboo

For all the unreal looking actors and actresses who have been described by a friend’s teenage son as humans who look like they could have emerged from a Japanese anime, we are transiting into a new reality where our future pop stars and models would be robots that South Korea seem to have found a way to mass produce from their K-Pop factories, churning out would-be-idols to star in pre-formulated scenes of romance to melt the hearts of Nigerians halfway across the world.

It would be premature to laugh at those Filipinos, Indonesians, Iranians, Malaysians, Taiwanese and Nigerians, who are looking for some dreamy romance in their dreary lives and found it by watching corny romance in a harsh foreign language played by some cosmetically enhanced/augmented/altered (3 stages of plastic surgery) people who looks like they could have stepped out of an anime, with alien-like beauty. It is not to say that their lives could be all drudgery for Netflix does not come cheap and would, therefore, not to all that readily available to the destitute.

Even The World’s Oldest Profession is in Danger?

It is definitely not premature to laugh because just this week, an Austrian brothel says sex dolls are now more popular than real women! The world’s oldest profession is in danger?

Source: Nine News Australia

To add insult to injury, the sex doll commands a higher rate than some of the real women sex workers and we have 2 reported cases, one in Japan and one in China, of men marrying their dolls.

Source: AsiaOne

Googling those pictures of these robo-dolls, one cannot help but marvel at their doll-like beauty which immediately brings to mind those K-pop stars for obvious reasons. Just take a look at the photo below which is NOT A DOLL!

Source: Kpopstarz

It is a definite trend as global sales of K-pop exports reached a record US$4.7 bio last year, top Korean bands get more hits than Lady Gaga and the Korean Wave extends globally lifting their food and cosmetics exports.

Source: Bloomberg

Enough about K-Pop for now.

It is Just an e-Transition and Decades of Pain

Our lives are changing at a faster pace than ever as the internet heralds change on a global scale. The e-transition we are living through is good as long as it lasts because we need those delivery drivers to bring goods to our homes and K-pop stars are nice front runners to the future supermodels and singers until we can churn out a factory-made Taylor Swift robot.

Would we have imagined this 10 years ago? That as a minute goes by, 4.1 million videos (lots of K-pop too) are viewed on YouTube? Take a look at this summary taken from Marketwatch.

Source: Marketwatch

Why then does Jack Ma say to prepare for decades of pain?

Source: Bloomberg

Surely, Jack Ma cannot be talking about empty shop lots in Centrepoint and Far East Plaza?

Or is he worried for the safety of the delivery couriers in Shanghai which has seen a spate of fatal accidents? That is surely a small price to pay for the general convenience of society?

Source: SCMP

[At this, we would like to make a comment that the streets of Singapore are becoming increasingly hard to navigate for the warzone-like driving these days by private hire cars versus other, possibly fed-up, road users.]

There is little chance for those wanting to seek out the old days as our cities grow and populations explode as life expectancy continues to rise. The Internet will have to take over our lives and the Internet of Things that is coming to take over our homes too.

Elon Musk, to upstage Jack Ma’s prediction of pain, has made an apocalyptic prophecy of sorts of a world heading to collapse as artificial intelligence takes over all human tasks in the next 30 to 50 years.

[At this, we would like to take back our complaint about the warzone drivers because society would need employment except those jobs may not be available anymore.]


At the rate global tastes are changing, even Adele will not be safe as our lives transit into perfect efficiency as Alibaba and Amazon stay on top of things, harnessing the global masses, making them more powerful than some governments in their reach.

Perhaps we will see a transformation of those Capitaland malls into hangout places, art galleries or urban farms and maybe we can even hang out there virtually without having to brave the crowds, odours and germs \? We cannot say much but it does look like commercial landlords will need some Capitaland sort of bargaining chip to survive in the interim although there is less to be worried about in land-scarce Singapore where the population will only keep growing, making precious space, personal or public, hard to come by.

Until then, Long live K-pop in the global transition and frozen Tteokbokki we can now buy online and have delivered home before dinner.