I really didn’t expect my post on Tan Kin Lian to attract the kind of attention it did (relative to the peace and quiet that usually resonates within these pages) but it’s been interesting to see the kind of responses that some people have had.

I attracted many incoherent comments and after trying to distill them, I can only conclude that it seems as though people only read what they want to read. The whole post wasn’t NEVER about blaming TKL for spoiling TCB’s would-be victory and I said as much:

…I like to use Mr Tan Kin Lian’s post-PE press statement to highlight one thing- that this is a classic case of Delusion/Cognitive Dissonance.

However, there is one reply I made to a comment that perhaps needs to be addressed and that was this:

(Abridged) In sum, my post was never about the result of the polls.

It was to show that TKL, in the face of his terrible results at the polls, is still trying to shift the blame onto circumstances that he feels are beyond his control. Now, after receiving many comments in support of TKL, I really feel aggrieved for all TKL supporters. The man spent $70,000 in campaign funds, presumably of money contributed or raised by his supporters, produced god-awful results and he still has supporters defending him?

That’s like the Investors of Sunshine Empire trying to defend the Directors of Sunshine Empire. Truly confounding.

Perhaps I should have been more explicit with this analogy because I got two replies that weren’t too happy about this and saying that I did not know what Sunshine Empire was about. That’s just silly- I wouldn’t have used an example if I couldn’t justify it.

The problem with many people is that they think too narrowly. They think that because Sunshine Empire is a ponzi scheme and a fraud, therefore I’m saying TKL is a fraud too. Obviously, I have to be stupid to say that. The common thing that TKL and the Directors have in common is a failed promise. Of course their intent is different but that’s besides the point here. Let me illustrate.

The directors of Sunshine Empire came up with a scheme that promised returns which were mathematically impossible. Ultimately the scheme collasped under its own weight and Investors lost money. Investors felt cheated because they were not given the returns they were promised and therefore, rightfully so, were angry and aggrieved.

Now, TKL campaigned hard in the PE. He got donations from supporters in order to do so. Now, let me assume here, that he campaigned to win and his promise was to be the ‘Voice of the People’. In the end, his results were god-awful, did he live up to his promise? Obviously not, since 5% of voters can hardly be considered to be ‘the People’. And what was his response to that? His Post-PE press statement that’s what. He did acknowledge in one line that there was a ‘weaknesses in my campaign strategy, my image and messaging’ but mostly he was shifting the buck to the private company engaged to conduct the informal polls for him, TJS and that he could not let his supporters down.

If I were a stakeholder in TKL’s ‘Voice of the people’ campaign, I’d be asking him  how is it he spent $70,000 of donated funds in order to achieve such terrible results (obviously, if they were all equally good, he’d get 20%-25% depending on the share of spoilt votes). I wouldn’t be defending him by saying things like he got sabotaged, his character got assaulted or TJS stole his votes by being a latecomer and appealing to the same type of voter. After all, did any of TKL’s competing candidates force him to use his ‘Hi-5′ campaign? Did any of them compel him to a wooden delivery of his Presidential Broadcast speech? Did any of them coerce him to use an independent company to conduct polls that were inaccurate?

This brings me back to Cognitive Dissonance which is one’s inability to face the truth and in doing so, creates all sorts of implausible reasons in order to justify the result. It is especially deadly in Investing since time is a continuous entity and when companies or individuals go bankrupt, it’s usually too late. That’s why Traders usually have a stop-loss and Investors usually employ a margin of safety- to prevent our emotions from getting in the way.

Guess what. It even happens to cooks.

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