Education – Govt sending strong signal

Can anyone remember the comment that university education is no good if one cannot get a job, the piece of paper cannot be eaten? Can anyone remember that being crane drivers or hawkers are better than a university graduate with their strings of degrees but jobless? Or going further back, can anyone remember that education is the biggest leveler, to give everyone a chance to succeed in life? Or did anyone advocate that he would encourage the bright young people to take a scholarship from the govt to get a good degree?

We have confusing and perplexing signals about the goodness of education, some say good and important, some say not necessary. Today, according to the two new education ministers, the govt is sending yet another signal, that education is very important, so important that the ministry now needs two ministers and among them one could be a PM of the fourth generation.

Two ministers helming a ministry must be a good sign that the ministry is important, or education is really important after all. Or is there another reason, that the job of an education minister is now so big because our population is now so big with so many universities, that one minister cannot cope?

Whatever, let’s hope the education minister could put it right this time, that the products from our education system is marketable, have the right skill sets to be employable, or at least be better than graduates from village universities in the 3rd World. Or at the very worst, the paper can be eaten. There is no point in a holistic education to develop the whole individual when he is unemployable right?

Just wondering what was happening in the past that we need two ministers today to want to put things right again. Two ministers is a strong signal definitely. Can we have two NEA ministers too, so that we can put an end to the haze problem, or at least to send a strong signal on our resolve to want to solve the haze hazard?

Is Singapore really interested in solving haze problem?

The govt has taken legal actions against 5 companies suspected of being among the culprits causing this environmental and health hazard. The Singapore Environment Council, SEC, is also calling up local companies to sign an agreement to declare they did not source from possible haze culprits. One suspected company involved in the haze problem has been named as APP. 10 companies have signed but another 7 have yet to sign. What can the govt do if they don’t sign?

One firm that did not sign said they have stopped getting supplies from APP and would clear their APP stocks before signing. Fair enough. What about those that refused to do anything? Seah Kian Peng of NTUC Fairprice said the company is investigating and also yet to sign the declaration. It was reported that that 20% of the company’s paper products came from APP.

‘Case President Lim Biow Chuan urged consumers to stop supporting companies who have not pledged to be socially responsible. “This will send a strong signal to the errant companies that consumers’ goodwill should not be taken for granted,” he said.’

Would he be having a word with his colleague in NTUC Fairprice about this? Can APP and other culprits take NTUC Fairprice for granted? What is the point of asking the consumers to boycott the paper product suppliers when one of the biggest companies continues to buy from APP?  Is the govt serious in tackling haze culprits or just another wayang , one hand say this and the other doing something else? Oh, forgot, no coordinating minister in charge of haze, trade and SMEs.

And there was a comment by Sinkie Ah Q, a Singapore version, who said what is the point, Singapore is a small market, if his company does not buy from APP, APP can sell to the rest of the world. This kind of attitude is quite understandable from daft Sinkies.

By the way, is APP the only company whose products are sold here? What about Indonesian companies whose products are sold here? Or is it a case of it happens, nothing can be done, let’s move on?

PS: Why are we paying these companies to smoke us?


TPP – Cannot tell you!

The Trans Pacific Partnership failed to conclude once again as the members could not agree on two items, dairy products and drugs. The 12 member countries would have to go back to get more inputs to sort out these two areas to come to a compromise. The problem with the drug issue is about the length of protection for exclusive rights to the manufacturers of drugs. The USA wanted 12 years but prepared to compromise at 8. The other countries wanted this to be 5 years. The US wanted to protect the drug makers and keeping the prices of drugs high and thus not available to people from poorer countries. In the case of dairy products, farmers of some countries fear competition affecting their livelihood.

What is important is not about their failure to reach an agreement but the secrecy of the agreements. What is so secret and why so secret they cannot be made known. Anything that cannot tell is dangerous and fearful. They must have things that they did not want the world to know, the people of those countries signing the agreement to know.

Now, is that comforting or frightening? Or it is a case that it is best for the people of the countries not to know? And the proponents of the TPP did not even bother to make any motherhood statement like the TPP is good for the signing countries and also for the people. Scare or not?

Like all con men, trust me, no need to know, it is good for you. Now who are the countries so happy and willing to sign a secretive agreement without telling their citizens? Would this be another form of CECA? The countries involved in the negotiation are Japan, Mexico, Singapore, Vietnam, Brunei, Malaysia, Chile, New Zealand, South Korea, Peru, Australia, Canada  and the USA.

Cannot tell must be good.

Race and religion – A rude reminder

Do not take racial and religious harmony for granted. Hsien Loong spoke about it again yesterday. Race and religion will always be divisive and will always be sensitive fault lines in our country. We have walked pass the days of racial riots in the 60s but the troubling consequences of those days would never be forgotten and would never go away. Our superficial racial and religious harmony will crack at the slightest provocation, even if unintentionally misquoting or commenting on an event. These problems will plague us for the next 100 years or forever. No, they will never go away. There are deep emotions and sensitivities involved. Do not believe in the superficiality of cordiality and smiling faces. These are the real hard truths we have to live with in a multi racial and multi religious society where bigots are bound to exist.

The govt knows and understands these problems, or at least the senior members who lived through it. Not sure whether the bright eye little ones can feel the same way. Look at the number of foreigners of all stripes and colours being brought in in great numbers and over a short time told of a different story. For economic numbers, they are willing to play with fire. They are prepared to look elsewhere and thinking or hoping that they have brought in angels to live with us. Or they are simply ignorant, perhaps pure stupidity.

The Syrian and Middle Eastern refugees surging across the borders in Europe are heart wrenching sights. Many Europeans could not bear to see the sufferings and are opening their hearts to them, to invite them into their countries and into their lives. In the name of humankind and human kindness, they are welcoming and embracing the refugees even knowing that they are very different in race and religion and culture. May God bless them for their kindness to the refugees and that the refugees will reciprocate their kindness in the future.

We are also very kind to the foreigners we brought in and are still crazily bringing in knowing the fault lines of race and religion that would never go away. I am not sure our decisions are based on economic reasons or wisdom. There is no point to be emotional and to choke up when reflecting on the painful past. We will have to live with the decisions we made and are making today, to bring in more and more foreigners, of all races and religions. It is a conscious choice, unlike Europe when a bad situation came knocking at their doors. May God also bless us for our kindness and the generosity to the foreigners we invited to live with us. One thing for sure, no one will be kind and forgiving to stupidity when we will have to pay for them one day. We know it is dangerous and difficult, but with eyes wide shut, we went into it like there is no other choice.

We decisively, intentionally and purposefully asked for it.


Haze problem is like a mouth ulcer

I dunno want to laugh or want to cry. This haze thing has been on for decades and would happen with clockwork precision every year. And all the national leaders got no clue how to resolve it and every year this time they will be scurrying to put down the fire and the haze. That is already bad enough, but they would go one step further, to blame one another and everyone becomes angry while the culprits continue to laugh to the banks. At the same time the people in all the affected countries suffered in silence. I think a bunch of monkeys could do much better.The haze attack is like the attack of mouth ulcer or a flu. If one does not treat it early, best at the early stage before the ulcer breaks out, for once the ulcer breaks out, it would run its natural course for two or three weeks before it subsides. Haze is the same. Once the fire is allowed to start burning, it will continue to burn until it runs out of steam. Why allow the fire to start in the first place?

Between Jokowi and Siti Nurbaya Bakar I think they have found the answers to eradicate this haze problem for good. Jokowi recommended digging more canals to keep the peat wet and lower its chances of burning. Siti Nurbaya talked about prevention, do not allow the fire to start, kill it first at the earliest possible stage. Why allow the fire to raze the forest and plantation then pretend to douse it with water, like working damn hard, desperately wanting to stop the fire? Who is kidding who?

The important thing now is the political will to dig the canals and to stop the fire before it started. Would these be implemented or just talk talk and come next year, let the fire starts to burn and rush to put it out in an exercise of futility?

Anyone still fail to get the punch line of this haze joke? They know someone is going to light the fire and they can’t stop them from lighting the fire?

Wait, wait, wait, the haze is at a very unhealthy level! So? Indonesia will be sending us a bill for the free smoke for Christmas. Are the people so helpless knowing that the govts are helpless? Can the people take matters into their own hands? No worry, the govts will be on your side unlike those protests in Hong Lim Park. A boycott of products from these companies is in order. Where are the NGOs and civic organizations? There is a need for leadership to coordinate a boycott against the culprits.

The two govts may even provide support openly or through other means. This boycott is not anti govt but for the good of the people of all the countries involved. The NGOs of Singapore, Malaysia and Indonesia can work together to make it impactful.

Still want to be lame, lame?


Town councils - Time to do the right thing

President Tony had this advice for the govt at the swearing in of the new cabinet ministers at the Istana yesterday, ‘Singaporeans have chosen to place their trust in you because they believed you were the most worthy of that trust…You must continue to strive to deserve that trust. You must continue to engage Singaporeans honestly and openly.  You must continue to speak frankly with them on the tough issues, and lead with humility.’

16 town councils will be set up to run the 16 towns that Singapore is divided into. No one is complaining about the need for such town councils. Their functions were once run by the HDB. If there is no town council, similar organizations would still be needed to assume the duties and responsibilities of ensuring that the essential services to the residents are provided, efficiently and effectively.

The problems with the town council concept are basically political. The town councils provide essential services that must be continuous and neutral from politicking by politicians. There is no need to say more on this. Administratively, operationally and financially the politicizing of town councils is flawed and very costly. The flaws are too obvious and unnecessary. The bickering over AHPETC smells badly.

With the big mandate given to the PAP, with the trust the people gave to the PAP, would the PAP do the right thing, return the control and management of the town councils to HDB or a statutory board, and depoliticize the whole scheme?

This is the best time for the PAP to show it has the confidence and sincerity to do the right thing in this town council issue. The people have shown that they trust the PAP, will the PAP reciprocate the trust?


ISIS recognising the military potential of Malaysian fighters

In a report in the Today paper, ‘From Janitors to snipers, M’sians moving up IS ranks’, Malaysian counter terrorism director Ayub Khan has in a way praised the growing importance of Malaysians fighting with the ISIS.  He observed that when Malaysian volunteers like Zid Saharani Mohamed Esa, Muhamed Syazani Mohd Salim and Fadzly Ariff Zainal Ariff first joined the ISIS movement, they were thought to be good enough as the low down janitors, cannot fight, cannot think or simple minded.  But the image of them as good enough to be janitors has changed. Their potential as fighters for the cause of ISIS has been recognized and they are moving up the ranks, promoted from janitors to snipers and suicide bombers.

So far, 14 have died bravely for the cause of ISIS. By the way the above mentioned had also died. Their fighting abilities, maybe bersilat skill, have also been recognized as a fighting skill for ISIS fighters, and their willingness to die for the cause must have won the respect of the ISIS leaders. Going forward, more would probably join ISIS and more will be volunteered as suicide bombers and snipers as well. And more will die bravely for ISIS.

Incidentally there is no need for bersilat skill as snipers or suicide bombers. For snipers, the animal instinct to kill is an asset. For suicide bombers, the willingness to die, to get blown up, must be the most important attribute. No need other skills, no need much thinking.

The Malaysians, maybe soon some Ah Kows and Muthus would also be among the suicide bombers, would soon earn a reputation as fearless fighters in ISIS. This must be a great accolade to be proud of, brave fighters, brave warriors.