Friday, April 12, 2019

The leaf on the branch

Yesterday, after sending my boy to childcare, I was brisk walking along East coast park with my wife. It was when I am enjoying the breeze and the smells of the sea when the childcare center called me that my boy had a fall and his nose is bleeding. The teacher asked if we would like to take him back home. We asked if he is still alright and if he is still bleeding, and the teacher said the bleeding had stopped and he is okay.

So, we continued walking.

I told my wife that this behavior is likely not normal at all. From the way the teacher speaks to us, apprehensively, I guess she was quite used to getting scolded by parents. She was quite apologetic and was genuinely sorry for what she interpreted as neglect, because it happened on her watch while she was distracted by other kids. Well, it could have happened to anyone, and as long as there isn't any major and permanent damage, I think it's a good lesson for everyone, including and especially my boy.

When a leaf falls, whose fault is it? The tree that let it go, the wind that blew it away, or the leaf that got tired of hanging on?

I don't think I ever mentioned that I am one of the Hyflux 6% cumulative preference shares holder. I got in at $98, while the par value is $100, thinking that it is a good deal. Well, it was, for a time being, until it wasn't. I could have cut loss when it started plunging lower but I didn't. Conversely, I could have bought more while it fell, but I also didn't do it and that's something I can be grateful about. It can always be worse. When I suspect that the saga is going to drag and there's a possibility that I could get nothing back, I immediately wrote down the value of that investment to $0. That's a write down of close to $9.2k net.

When a leaf falls, whose fault is it? The tree that let it go, the wind that blew it away, or the leaf that got tired of hanging on?

I never participated in any of the town-hall meetings nor the Hong Lim park's protest, or any of the myriad online vitriol about what could be, should be, must be. It's a have-been now, and I thought I should just suck it up and focus on making better mistakes next time.

I think I handled this whole saga pretty well, meaning I was not at all bothered. Why? I remember a decade or more ago, when s-shares are hot and fashionable, I was embroiled in a s-share company called Longcheer. I bought and bought and finally capitulated, losing about 12 to 15k? I can't remember. And that episode sank me deep to depression. Not the oh-I-am-so-angsty type. The suicidal type. Looking back, it was quite serious, but I didn't seek help and I just sort it out myself in about a month or two. Essentially, my work brought me back. That was such a educational and enlightening experience, mainly to know about myself. That was a great mistake, and I learned from it to never to average down, or to catch a falling knife. I didn't repeat it anymore, but it would be better if I had cut loss instead of holding it till kingdom come. I guess it takes one solid painful incident, instead of many insignificant ones, to remove the shitty directive inside my mind of being a 'long term investor', or that 'in the long run, things will be fine'.

If you're a Hyflux bond or pref shares holder, whether you're happy or unhappy, I doubt there's much things you can control at this point in time. What you can control is your emotional landscape, so try to make the best out of the whole situation.

Make better mistakes next time.


Unknown said...

Hi LP,

Taking a loss, or cutting a loss is never easy. Even if the loss is not crippling to the portfolio, not to mention lifestyle.

I caught myself saying ... Aiya, if I didnt buy this and cut this loss, my returns would be X % instead of Y %.

Maybe it is because I know I like money too much to lose a bulk of it. My portfolio is half in cash, and as and when there is opportunity of injection of capital, i always make it a point to also inject part of it to emergency fund, so my emergency fund also grow.

The leaves drop because it wanted to catch the glimpse of the beautiful running water, only to realize the water didn't give a hoot

Sillyinvestor said...

Hey its me, Sillyinvestor who posted the above comment

Road Runner said...

If Life give u a stick... We can use it as a walking stick etc... Think end of the day is treasure the present moment and our attitude towards life

Road Runner said...

My nickname is Road Runner... Posted this comment after reading your articles..

la papillion said...

Hi SI,

I think if life has too many what ifs, it's going to be hard to move on. I try not to have regrets, esp not what-ifs scenarios. It's very toxic, I feel.

la papillion said...

Hi roadrunner,

I think life will continue giving us sticks. If we only frame it in another way, and not see ourselves as suffering or as victims, and that we deserve it because of things we didn't do or we did, then perhaps we can move on.

As i said, make better mistakes next time haha

Mgm said...

I agree that if you invest, you need to be able to take the losses with the gains. It’s wrong that people who invested poorly or wrongly expect SOMEONE to bail them. The PUB deal is already a bail out of sorts.

la papillion said...


Even though I am vested in the hyflux perp, I think it's wrong to let taxpayers bail it out. It's best to let it die a natural death. That being said, this whole issue did raise a lot of interesting q regarding the cost and price of water, on what happens to the profit generated by PUB, and why we as consumers are not benefiting from the apparent cheap cost of water.

Singapore Man of Leisure said...


I like 黄蓉 and your parentng style ;)

Young children should learn about falls, pain, and blood spills early. Or like you've said, making better mistakes and profiting from them!

When they grow up as adults, won't have this "big daddy will bail me out" entitlement mindset ;)

la papillion said...

Hi temperament,

"Shepherds will be shepherds, lambs will be lambs." - haha, but I don't agree with this law of nature. I think shepherds and lambs are just transitional states, like a job. If we want to, we can change. We all have temperaments to be lambs, or shepherds, or lions, but still, if we apply enough will and energy, we can change.

That being said, a shepherd of one farm can be the lamb of another, and the lion of yet another farm. I think if everyone understands that, then the world will be a better place :)

la papillion said...


In the past, I'm more self conscious, so when he makes a scene, or when he falls and refuse to get up, I'll be a bit pai seh and start thinking that people are watching us. But these days, I'll just sit beside him, let him play his emotions out, and when he's ready, we'll move on. I think the idea is that if we as parents don't make a huge scene when he falls, he won't too.

I am thinking how to teach resilience and grit, but I realised that the best way to teach is to let him model after us lol


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