the general election mood is here. a lot of ground work and footwork were done over the chinese new year. the pap must be very confident that they have done well and will continue to do well in the general election. lets try to pry into their thinking cap and see what were in their minds. 1. economically they believed that they have done exceptionally well. and this is supported by all the economic data that were released recently. gdp up, export up, manufacturing up, national reserves up, unemployment down, more surpluses to give away. the people must be very happy and satisfied with the govt. 2. $1 billion will be given to the 240,000 marginally poor. they too must be very happy. and having 240,000 marginally poor families are acceptable in a rich and prosperous country. nothing wrong with it. maybe give them a little more if they cry louder. there are plenty of money to go round. 3. the people will be very grateful with the $2.4 billion upgrading plans and a better east coast park. better facilities and the contractors will have more jobs to do. 4. a big pay rise coming. starting with the president. and the people will all be very happy that the president shall get $2.5 mil for this very important job. the people will not mind. after all, all civil servants can expect something since the president has started the ball rolling. and the higher the appointments, naturally they will get more. this is the nature of things and singaporeans are all very happy about it. 5. nkf. no problem. all very well managed. see, the fees are coming down. more patients will benefit from it. and now better management and transparency. it is a good job and the people will forget about the whole episode come election time. 6. peanuts? what peanuts? no body remembers a thing. 7. medical fees, hdb flats, buangkok, all resolved. no problem at all. mrt fee hikes? very good, mrt makes a lot of moneyfor the shareholders. that is business, to make money. 8. withholding of cpf and increase in medisave contributions. singaporeans are rational people. they will listen to the govt. they know all these were done for their own good. they will secretly thank the govt for keeping their money. 9. corporate failures and corporate governance. small things. does not affect the people. only some directors were affected. but everything will go on as normal. 10. stockmarket is going up. people must all be making money in the stockmarket. so people must be happy. they must be many people rushing to open trading accounts again. people are bullish and confident again. well, everything seems to be well under controlled and well managed. a sweeping victory is expected. and the opposition is still not able to present more credible candidates. and worst, their manifesto is already a poison and a timebomb. the people will be wise to see that and vote for pap. the majority vote will increase, and thats for sure. all the grass root leaders are working hard and the feedback received have been very encouraging. the people are all behind the pap.
Lee had anticipated more qualified Singaporeans joining opposition parties to challenge the PAP after he's gone.... Speculation abounds as to why Lee is keen to remain in control. One theory is that he first wants to see the 18-month-old leadership under Lee Hsien Loong firmly settled in.The first priority: To ensure that he gets a strong mandate.Lee's presence is assuring to the younger leaders as the PAP faces one of the strongest election challenges for decades. Lee may be reluctant to let go for fear that if he does, the Singapore that he helped to create will slide. This partly stems from the fact that he has such a high assessment of good leadership that few people can fit in.... He sees the need to free up on Singapore so that it can become a creative world city, but the steps taken have been relatively few and small - insufficient to make a major impact.The general thinking is that as long as he remains in the government, the Lee Kuan Yew era looks set to continue, irrespective of who the prime minister is. His mere presence in the Cabinet will tell Singaporeans they can expect no major political change within the ruling party. Everything will be played according to what is set out - at least for a few more years. Jon Huer, a professor of sociology (University of Maryland University College Asia), said the post-Lee era is fraught with uncertainty."After Lee dies, Singaporean stability and dynamism may encounter turbulence, as Lee's larger-than-life dominance of Singapore may leave a void that no successor can fill."That means trouble. Voices demanding change may rise, and the harmony and peace among different ethnic groups that are so uniquely Singaporean may shatter. (This article was published in The Sunday Star) by seah chiang nee. when lee kuan yew and his bunch of innocent and inexperience young men took over singapore, there was literally a dearth of local talents that could run the country. keng swee, raja, chin chye and himself were as fresh and brash as undergrads. but they pulled it through, learning and experimenting as they went along. but the basics were right. for the people and for the nation. today if we fear that there will be a dearth of talent, it is a bad joke. 40 years of nation building, at least 30 batches of the best brains were educated and trained overseas and have all the years to learn the ropes. if these bunch are useless brats, then singapore has failed and will be doomed. it will be the greatest failure in leadership. there is no denying that there are many able people, very talented, that will be capable to take over the reign of singapore. their only shortcoming is that they will not run singapore the way lky ran it. they are not lky. whether that is good or bad is a matter of perception. there will be trouble too. and trouble from having too many good brains who want to build their own empires. there will be more contest for leadership and how to run the nation. it definitely will not be a case of a dearth of talents.
happy chinese new year. this phrase will punctuate all conversations for the next few weeks. it is a time to offer your blessings and best wishes to family members, friends and acquaintances and all. happy chinese new year. it is just a wish, a sharing of good will. have a good time, bon voyage, good luck. etc. chinese new year is a time for such trivials. but there are other things as well. family reunion, giving children a little hongbao for luck, for a good year, for growing up. everything is spruced up for a bright and good start for another year. a time to take stock and to prepare to live life again. why are the young people lamenting that chinese new year does not mean that much to them anymore? time changes thing. we grow older. our little childish enthusiasm of a time of plenty during the new year, seeing many happy faces, rousing gatherings, money to collect and spend, goodies around have all been left behind. we grow up. the young men and women are in a transitional phase. they have so many things to occupy their time and attention. chinese new year is just another event that competes for their time. they have time to go to parties and enjoy party gossips chatting on anything and everything meaningless and say they have a good time. but doing the same things among family and relatives are...yak, boring and distasteful. lifestyle has changed. the older folks who have less things to do, may treasure the chinese new year as a time to see how the seeds they have planted have grown, and planting new seeds. it is a time for reflection, a time for satisfaction or a little disappointment. but if all things are not measured in material things, the oldies will find a lot of comfort in the new generations and their new future. not everything in the chinese new year tradition will be treasured or valued, or retained with the passing of time, and lifestyle changes. but some little things will remain forever. some traditions will be kept and some will lose their fascinations. i have earlier written about the hongbao being too expensive for many. and about hongbao becoming jinbao. expensive wedding dinners will, i think, lose its attractiveness when it will burn a hole in the guests' pockets. sending an invitation to a friend and knowing the pressure he will face to dig deeply into his pocket will eventually make inviting people to a wedding dinner too demanding a friendly gesture. a time will come when the party handing out the invitation cards will be told to get lost. and it will be a good thing if wedding dinners are reserved as a family affair and among very close friends. the chinese new year will go on to be celebrated but differently. maybe it will be commercialised and make to be cool one day.
the people who came out with the new name to replace the crooked bridge must be applauded for their ingenuity. and they cannot escape the brilliant mahathir who instantly recognised what they meant. all said, mahathir has not lose his sense of humour by jumping onto it first. ha, scenic or cynic, he asked.
reported in the paper that hsien loong pledges to review policies on public housing, public transport and medical fees. unfortunately he is only referring to the older folks. i hope hsien loong will take this opportunity to make a thorough review and introduce changes take will benefit the whole nation, especially the lower income groups, rather than just the older folks. this is the time for him to make a real difference, to turn around some of the errorneous policies of profit comes first and people suffer never mind. many of the presumptions and policies of the pap were totally out and he is the man to make the change. but if it continues the way it is, support for pap will only go one way. and while he is reviewing the $1 bil assistance for the lower income, he should also consider all the mothers and grandmothers who are technically unemployed but actually gainfully employed in looking after babies and little ones, and without income but a little allowances. they should also be considered together as those who are employed and earning less than $1,000. will hsien loong make the difference?
the inter ministry committee has introduced a series of measures to improve corporate governance in charitable organisations. and these include not insisting on the disclosure of the salaries of the top 3 executives. why is it that the salaries of the president of singapore, the prime minister of singapore and the top civil servants are disclosed but not charitable organisations whose income comes from donations? practically all civil servants or public officers' salaries are known to the public. there is no reason why the top executives of charitable organisations be an exception. there is every reason for this to be transparent. it is not tax payers' money. it is money given by the public for a generous activity and accountability in the use of such funds is that more important and necessary. why should the top executives of these organisations be uneasy in disclosing their salaries? is it because they are ashamed that they are overpaid? or they are ashamed that they are underpaid? if the former, then more it should be disclosed. if the latter, then don't call it salary. call it an honorarium, if that makes them feel more comfortable. people working in charitable organisations must expect their salaries to be reasonable, maybe competitive but definitely not excessive or be paid very well compare to money making organisations. their organisation does not make money and are not supposed to make money.
a new year greeting to all my contributors, visitors, guests and all my friends. Wishing you Happy New Year !! Must be happy!! For the past one year, if I offended anyone, please forgive me. I am still gentle and nice, so don’t be angry with me.
let's count the blessing from the crooked bridge. 1. it takes away the grouching and bitching between the two countries. let them build it and be happy. they have to appease their own people. and we need not finance a bridge that we do not want. 2. probably they will have to terminate the railway at jb. the train can't possibly climb the crooked bridge. we can then join up with our mrt, maybe under the causeway if it is demolished. 3. a good tourist attraction for both sides. 4. the cost of paying new toll may persuade casual singaporean visitors not to go in unless it is worth the trip. this will help to ease the jam. 5. hopefully when the malaysian side raise the toll fee the singaporean side will not do so as the cost of the bridge is borne by malaysia only. but singapore side can charge a fee for a view of the infamous bridge.
in my opinion tanjong pagar is the weakest grc in this election. though lky is the stalwart and the grand old man in the constituency, his strength is now his weakness. the older generation of voters are now either gone or disinterested. too old to be bothered. the younger generation is a totally different game. no care for old senior politicians. their perspective is totally unfathomable from the old mindset. koh boonwan may be a good support to carry the constituency. but the nkf will do him in. and his strength could not balance off the negative weight of lky in the constituency. everyone would like to see lky as the president to guard the national asset, not as another mp. his role as minister mentor? well, this is seen in many ways. the pap may think it is a good thing. but will the people think so? i think if i gather a good team i should be able to win tanjong pagar today. haha, what a dream! but i think if the opposition put up a good team and fight tanjong pagar on the merits and achievements of lky and retire him, they will have a lot of listening ears. never fight tanjong pagar to discredit lky. fight tanjong pagar with the good deeds of lky and win. what a contradiction! what a paradox!
the response by sylvia lim to pap's attack is very sensible and reasonable. and she puts it across in a very pleasant manner. i think all politicians shall learn from her on how to communicate gentlemanly or lady like, with respect and courtesy to the other party. nothing condescending or intimidating. her defence is also very tactical. let pap sets the agenda. but wp will also set its own agenda. this is like the calling by some quarters that elite schools must play football, a game which they have conceded as not their strength, as the game is their strength. the elite school shall play whatever games they are strong in and choose to play. so in politics, same method. you hit me at my weak points. i siam and hit you at your weak points too. not that i cannot engage in a full discussion. i choose my battle ground, my time and what to fight and my agenda. so it is likely that pap will be shouting about poisons and time bombs and the opposition too will be shouting the same thing but of different nature and characteristics. i don't have to play football if i am not good in it. the show is warming up.
one forumer wrote to the straits times relating how he was accused of being a racist in singapore. he is a chinese belonging to the majority. he told one guy to stop smoking in a queue for taxi. instead of snubbing out the cigarette the smoker, who was a minority, shouted at him that he was a racist for telling him to stop smoking in the queue because of his race. in another incident he shouted at a cyclist to prevent him from hitting a pedestrian. he was accosted as a racist for shouting at the guy because he was a minority. our fragile race relations can be easily torned to pieces, not by the majority bullying the minority but by the minority bullying the majority. and it is so easy to call the majority racist. what would happen if the snatching of body incident in malaysia is reenacted here and involved the majority against a minority? hell will break lose.
the wp's manifesto is perceived as poison, timebombs. wp responded by shouting undemocratic. what are the issues and why? wp sees the grassroot organisations as a political tool and wanted them remove. this includes the grcs and the presidency as well. the pap counters by saying that wp is trying to undermine social cohesion. who is right or telling the truth. both are right from their perspectives. no one can believe that wp would want to create racial strife. they are just calling for the removal of organisations that would give them a disadvantage in the political contest. but pap chooses to see it differently and call it differently. the counter blow of calling pap undemocratic is in response to the call/advice or demand by pap to change wp's manifesto. to pap, it is just an election tactic. they talked down to the wp like a school master. you change or else. this puts wp in a dilemma. they cannot change for doing so will immediately be recognised as a defeat. not changing will put them in a position like they are threatening national unity or worst. is wp's defence on the ground of undemocratic justifiable? can a communist party put up a manifesto for communism be allowed to contest? or can a socialist party put up a manifesto that resembles communism be unconstitutional? or can any party put up any manifesto and be disqualified to contest? who is the final arbiter to say whether the manifesto is acceptable to the people?
for many years we have been relentless in the pursuit of excellence. that is the drive that pushes this little pimple ahead of many countries. today it seems that this zeal to excel is seen as wrong. the champions must not be champions. the road is too tough. slow down, compromise, take the easy way out. or try not to work so hard, play more. this kind of mentality is best seen in khoo swee chiow's personal quest. the mount everest climb. no body would argue, is a tall order. then the antartic etc. but when he dipped inside a bath tub, that was very disturbing. is singapore heading in the same direction? the next national goal shall be 'fly the biggest kite.' not try to outdo bill gate or be an einstein. at least we get mentioned in the guinness book of records. on the other hand the poor country called china is producing nobel prize winners. all their students in our local universities are tops in their cohorts and are 100% nerds. no time to play or even leave their dormitories. maybe this is a bad thing in singapore. we have arrived and can afford to go slow. it is all a matter of choice and personal sacrifices. you want to be good in anything, you pay the price to be good. you want to be mediocre, you pay the price to be mediocre. if one chooses to be a jack of all trades, and be happy with it, good. if one chooses to be a champion gymnast and start to train at 3 and ended up stunted in growth, that is a decision to be made. why complain about individual choices? just because some people wanted to play football and enjoy themselves others must also be forced to play ball with him?
the recent furore in malaysia and the petition by the non muslim ministers is seen by the muslims in malaysia as an attack on islam. is that so? what about the seizure of the dead bodies from their families by islam? why is this being ignored or accepted as the norm of a civilised secular state, or even a modern islamic state? from the non muslim perspective, it is the encroachment of islam into their lives. it is islam that is threatening the privacy of non muslim citizens, not the other way round. but the clerics, the fundamentalists, will claim it as otherwise. it is their right and duty, in the name of islam, to push aside the non muslim private lives and sensitivity. islam is above the law. islam is the law. this is the sign of a fundamentalist islamic state in its infancy.
third quarter profit of smrt rose by 36% over the same period last year to $30 mil. well done smrt. big bonuses coming up. the brilliant management must be thoroughly rewarded for such a sterling performance. they must have improved a lot on their services and other revenue generating projects and decisions. i am very sure the great improvement in profit is not due to the increase in commuter fare. thank you commuters for your contribution.
there were complains by parents that top elite schools did not play football. the reason given by the schools is that they excelled in other areas and football is not their cup of tea. this is what i think a reasonable answer. but no, it is not acceptable. the reasoning is that the elite school students must play football to socialise with the non elite students. is that a good reason? the next reason is that the parents want their children who enjoy playing football to play them at the school level, for fun. now, is that another good reason? for fun they can play any where, can't they? schools, and independent schools, yes independent, must be allowed to think independently and do what they think is good for their students. it is their choice to allocate time and resources to what they do best or want to do best. what's wrong with not playing football? there are many other ways and opportunities to socialise with the non elite students. or why can't the non elite students socialise with the elite students in activities that the elite students do? why is the onus or burden be on the shoulder of the elite students? or is elitism bad? if bad then we should not promote elitism. make everyone average and happy playing football. or shall all the elite students pierce their ears or roam orchard road because the non elite students do that, and get the chance to socialise and understand them better? smoke like them and dress like them to be like them? for those parents who want their children to have fun playing football, send them to the football fields anywhere or in the hdb courts and play lah. why must insist that the school provide for them? the school don't provide then cannot play?
gerard ee announces that dialysis fee will now go down by $4 and another $8 later. total reduction over the last few months came to an overall reduction of 25%! what does this mean? the patients were paying so much more unnecessarily due to nkf's inefficiency or what? the monthly expenditure for a patient is $2,730. this will be reduced eventually to $2045. but still a huge sum for any poor bugger or even not so poor buggers. and to qualify for partial subsidy, the cut off household income is $3,500. without going into details of how much is partial subsidy proportional to income less than $3,500, lets look at those whose household income is above this magical number. and assuming that this is nett and not before cpf reduction. technically, a patient with $3,600 will be disqualify from subsidy and has to pay the full amount of $2,730. what is left of the $3,600? $870!!! even with a household income of $4,000, the disposal income left is only $1,270. almost 3/4 of the household income for dialysis. that is what people think a kidney patient deserves to live on, or his family deserves to live on. is that mean? and they have mean testing to ensure that this is so.
the pap is still throwing their punches on the wp's manifesto. boon wan has come into the ring and hit at the same points. what is the wp doing? are they going to parry blow by blow? or are they taking the side step to evade the blow and taking aim at what they think will be better openings that can knock out the pap? not standing to take blows and trade blows is one tactic to adopt. but looks like wp is doing the cowboy way. stand and take the blows. and i would presume they will throw their punches while absorbing the pain. this could be the wp's strategy, knowing that pap will hit at their weaknesses, they might just take a few punches but attack the pap with more of pap's weaknesses. and at the end let the judges count who score more hits. now lets see where the wp will hit and how many punches it will throw.
1. we will turn singapore into a global city of the future with standards of living better than the swiss. 2. housing. our motto is to strive for talents and we reward talents. our talents will live in landed properties or posh condos. those not talents will live in 2 and 3 room design and build flats. 3. quality living for the talents. the most talented can look forward to a lifestyle of the rich and famous, with all kinds of resorts and entertainments and the world class theatres to watch phua chu kang. 4. we will not forget the poor. we will provide them with budget facilities including budget transport system and budget foodcourts. 5. medical facilities will be the best. and we will make sure that every citizen will have enough in their medisave to pay for it and no one will be deprived of treatment. 6. education. we will have the best fuzzy education system designed specially to fit every student. they can take a 10 year course or a 20 year course at their own time as long as they can afford the fees which will be affordable. 7. high income for the talents. talents can expect incomes in the millions. no talents will also be looked after by the govt's generous billion dollar welfare schemes.
"The sense of ethics is crumbling to a crisis level," Eda said. "The government must take these cases seriously.".... PURSUIT OF PROFITS Prosecutors say Horie and three other executives who were also arrested had sought to boost share prices by spreading false information, issuing new shares to "acquire" firms already under its control and then selling them for a profit to pad its books.... Horie said in his Web diary on Sunday he had no recollection of doing anything illegal... The Livedoor case has prompted calls to beef up Japan's securities watchdog, as well as laments about the unabashed pursuit of wealth for which Horie was well known.... "The Livedoor shock has poured cold water not only on stock prices, but on Mr. Horie's often-emphasized view that money is everything," said an editorial in the Mainichi newspaper. "We should not pursue fleeting profit. We should take Mr Horie's arrest as an opportunity to think about this."... Horie has many fans, especially among a younger generation who admired his innovative tactics and flashy lifestyle, and some saw his arrest as a reprisal from the "Old Japan" establishment which he had snubbed. A dropout from the prestigious University of Tokyo, Horie set up Livedoor's predecessor, Livin' On the Edge, a decade ago with just $50,000 in capital. By adopting an aggressive acquisition strategy and promoting himself as a brand symbol, he turned that into market capital of more than $6 billion just before last week's raid. the above are extracts from reuters business news about the japanese wonder kid who rose to fame and fortune and now is under police custody. many of the facts and things said are very familiar. i believe he will have many admirers here.
the wp comes out with a 52 page manifesto. the pap chooses 4 as time bombs and cornered the wp to fight on these 4 issues. for the moment the pap is taking the initiative to launch an assault at wp, especially at the two leaders low thia khiang and sylvia lim. would the wp be cornered and let the pap set the agenda for the fight? eng hen challenged the wp, lets fight on these 4 issues. very neat. surely the wp is not going to confine itself with just 4 issues. there are hundreds of issues to be debated. how wide will the battlefield be? given the resources of the pap and so many ministers still in the background, waves of attack can be expected to follow suit. there will be increasing pressure with more coordinated atacks as the election approaches. the campaign trail has started, sooner than the announcement of an election. is it a good thing to start the fight so early? would the issues be talked to death and people be bored by the time the election actually started? sometimes harping on issues too early and too often may lose its novelty and impact. would it be better to throw them out hot in the midst of the election instead of discussing now when the election could even be delayed to god knows when. the date has yet to be fixed. lets hope the contestants will fight fairly and not hit under the belt. lets hope the issue will boil and be properly fried during the actual election campaign.
below are my initial take on what may favour the oppositions? 1. need for change. too many things have been taken for granted by the ruling party that they no longer appreciate their significance. these include the intangibles that are not talked about but kept within the hearts. 2. high salary. the recent increase to the president's salary will send more votes to the opposition. this is a clear sign of how insensitive the ruling party has become. 3. cpf retention. no one knows how strong is the feeling of dissent over money retained in the cpf. 4. nkf. it is generally seen as a govt's problem and failure. and the associated events have many unfavourable implications against the ruling party. 5. foreign talent. another issue that digs deep inside the electorate but not well articulated to appear as a serious problem. but it is a serious problem that cannot be swept under the carpet. 6. hdb. the pricing of hdb and the declining value of ownership is gaining importance as a source of grievance. 7. transport fares. this issue seems to be underestimated by the govt and may cost a lot of votes to land on the opposition's lap. 8. unemployment. includes those who are displaced from well paying jobs and ended in low paying jobs. 9. erosion of moral authority. the casino will lose votes from the diehard moralists. and the exposure of several flawed personalities among the elite have shaken the faith of many strong believers.
with the approaching general elections, it is time to kopitiam talk about the fight for power and the who and the what of the election. lets start with a preliminary take of the position of the ruling party and the opposition. i will like to touch first on what favours pap in the general election? 1. track record. some people are happy with what pap has done and think this is good enough. 2. opposition weakness. if the opposition cannot present good and decent candidates in the eyes of the electorate. 3. organisation strength. grassroot and party organisations and membership. 4. finances. pap has superior finances to run the election campaign and to finance the candidates, including deposits. 5. grcs. the opposition will have problem fielding enough candidates to contest in grcs. 6. promise of goodies and handouts. 7. the candidates are mostly known. the party is known. all its goodness and warts. more predictable for those who fear to thread on uncertainties. 8. intangibles. favourable things that are difficult to describe or quantify. this is possibly the strongest unaccountable factor that the opposition will have to contend with but with no replies.
i read with some concern at the views being promoted recently and the changing mindset of administrators and students and the public. what they want is for a students to do everything, be a sportsman, be a businessman, entrepreneur, social worker, inventor and also do well in their studies. for a student to be able to do all these, they are either geniuses or little gods. a little experience and exposure here and there other than the main task of building a strong academic foundation are good and welcome. but to over emphasise the secondary and good to know things at the expense of the core knowledge acquistion function is very dangerous. a student must be firstly a student and must do well in his studies. for those who are able to and can afford the time, go and do whatever they want. but do not compromise on your basic role as a student. do not compromise on your first class honours. in a free environment, a few geniuses will shine. but many pseudo geniuses will waste away, fooling themselves. a real genius will thrive in any situation, in any environment. the dismissal of our inability to produce world beaters is all bull. very shallow thinking. our lack of world beaters is a result of our small critical mass and the short time span of our existence. and also, the brightest were channelled to adminstrative functions and the govt. what is really needed is the allocation of talents to where it is needed. if we want scientists and inventors, put the best brains there. what A star is doing is the right thing. there is a chinese saying, 'nian chuan bu nian gong, hou lai yi zhang kong.' what it means is that if one is training in martial arts, learning the moves without training the basic physical strength, eventually is worthless. education is the same. the acquisition of knowledge, technical knowledge, cannot be abandoned for foolish things like trying to be fun, to be a businessman, to excel in sports, all at the same time. know one's own limitation and endowment. if one is so talented or gifted to do all things, thank your parents for the good genes. if one is gifted to be an einstein, don't try to be a tiger woods. likewise tiger woods would not try to pretend that he can be an einstein or vice versa. lets not confuse fuzzy logic with delusion.
for a while i was nervous. natsteel was sold. so was raffles hotel, cias. then dbs building. then what? the istana? it is good that dhana confirmed that temasek is not going to sell local assets for overseas investments. it reminds me of how aw cheng chye sold his father's bank to wee cho yaw. selling inheritance by a prodigal son is a sure sign of things going wrong. let's hope we don't see anymore selling of our national inheritance and national heritage. it is like selling our souls. the chinese saying, selling 'peh kong giap,' or the created wealth of fathers and grandfathers.
let me suggest what i think should go into a manifesto. 1. fairer distribution of wealth to the people without undermining private enterprise and entreprenuership. 2. depoliticising of govt and non govt organisations. 3. make the presidency an honourary position. better still to do away with the presidency. a president is dysfunctional in the face of a rogue govt, like it or not. a rogue govt can change the constitution or even remove the presidency at will. 4. govt policies must be citizens first. 5. fine tuning of cost of essential services to alleviate the plight of the lower income segment of the population.
first eng hen fired the first shot by declaring the wp's manifesto as a time bomb. then hsien loong followed by telling thia khiang to have it modified. the election battle has started. the pap's position is national interest in terms of racial harmony and questions the wp's objective through it's manifesto. should the wp change its manifesto because hsien loong suggested so? doing it will be admitting defeat at the first salvo. if not, is it able to defend its objective for racial harmony? their approach may be different, but the objective for racial harmony cannot be compromised. would the wp be able to explain how they are going to achieve this from what they have proposed? if it is just a different approach, then it is acceptable. but if what they proposed will eventually lead to a breakup of our social cohesion, they will have problems convincing the people to follow them. from my interpretation, what they have suggested are not workable. for this i agree with the pap. the impression i have is the lack of a clear thinking process in coming out with the manifesto. and if it is going to cause harm, they have lost the battle from the start. it is a pity that wp does not have strong thinkers who can come out with pragmatic policies. ideals are ideals and must be backed up with workable actions. i hope they can explain the hows. they need many explanations to do. the politics of today is not the politics of the animal farm. you cannot run away without the intellectuals providing the ballasts. the legs are not good enough without a thinking head.
Deputy Prime Minister Wong Kan Seng on Saturday apologised for the way the police overreacted to a group of school girls' plan to sell and wear white elephant T-shirts at the opening of Buangkok Station. The white elephant cut-outs had become such icons that a group of Raffles Girls School girls planned to sell T-shirts with their design, and wear them at the opening of the Buangkok Station. But not everything went as planned. The police advised the organiser to apply for a permit when they found out that the proceeds were for charity. For this, Deputy Prime Minister Wong Kan Seng, who's also the Home Affairs Minister praised the police for being flexible and helpful, and the students for their creative plan and sense of humour. But Mr Wong was disappointed the police had clamped down on those wearing the T-shirts for fear that doing so in large groups may be "misconstrued by some as an offence".... Mr Wong said the police may have overreacted on this, but there were also other instances where the police were criticised for not doing enough to check overly exuberant behaviour. One example was the use of foam sprays at the Christmas Orchard Road Party, where some young women were blinded and then molested by some men. Instead of clamping down on the use of foam at the New Year's Eve party the following week, the police adopted a softer approach, by appealing to the common sense and cooperation of the public. Police also warned that if the foam spray was used to commit a criminal act, such as molest, the offenders would be arrested. DPM Wong said: "The recent episode at Buangkok showed how difficult it is for police to act. On one hand they have to maintain law and order and public interest, on the other hand they have to consider that society changes all the time and they have to continue to open up and liberalise some of the rules that we have in place." But Mr Wong stressed, that in so doing, the ultimate interest must be that of Singapore's, and not just specific groups or individuals. - CNA/ a little discretion will go a long way.
sunday morning is a time for a little senseless digression. it is good to read of laughters and applauses in the sunday times, during speeches by koh boon wan and ng eng hen. both must have been telling a lot of jokes to draw the laughters from their audiences. it is good that ministers have a good sense of humour. a rare quality in this highly stressed singapore when children playing with white elephants are taken very seriously by adults. now for a little good news. boonwan announced that from april 1, withdrawal of medisave is up from $300 to $400. this is one of the reasons for the loud applause reported by the serious sunday times. i think the applause will be thunderous if the announcement is for medical fees to by slashed by another 10%. but good news is good news. no need to bother about substance. another piece of good news. an average c class hospital bill is $800. and 9 in 10 patients in b2 class paid less than $2,200. and the medisave account as at end 2004 showed a balance of at least $17,000. more than enough to pay for hospital bills. so no need to worry. given that not many people will be hospitalised more than 3 times in their life time, and using the $2,200 figure as a guide, would a $6,600 medisave balance be more than adequate? take in the continuous increases in medical fees, a $10,000 medisave balance will surely be sufficient. ahem, i think the roar of approval will bring down the roof of the hall if boonwan would to announce that from april 1 medisave will be capped at $10,000 instead of the current $32,500 and will go up further. and eng hen drew laugher in his rebuttal of wp's 4 dangerous time bombs in its manifesto. maybe the wp should take his advice and do a thorough audit on the team that put up these dangerous proposals. are the proposals seriously thought out to win votes for the wp or to undermine wp? if i can agree with 3 out of eng hen's four rebuttals, then i think it is serious. the four points may be announced too early. april 1 is still quite some time away. the point that i agree with wp is subsidies and assistances to those who need help. after spending $2.5 bil on upgradings of parks and facilities, and $1 bil for needy folks, i thought it will be better to spend $2.5 bil on people and $1 bil on parks and plants and upgrading. then no reason to say money not enough. with 240,000 on the official list of being poor, money sure not enough. $1 bil really can't do much. it is better to give, maybe $100,000 to one person and he will be so much happier. and cheaper to do so. and one can claim authority from the divine who said, 'for those who have, more will be given to them.' with divine authority, who dare to say it is wrong? so if you are earning a lot more, maybe $2 mil, you need not have to complain that you need a raise. you need not have to tell people that you need more cash to stash away in your bank accounts. more will be given to you without asking. isn't that nice? it is a beautiful sunday.
while many write or talk about the foreign talent issue, one thing that has escape notice or discussion is the malaysians, and also ex singaporeans. these two groups are being taken for granted. the malaysians, for historical reasons, and familiarity are never seen as outsiders in this regard. there are welcome to come and go. the issue of singaporean vs malaysian, the you against us mentality, only crops up when there is a spat, usually politically motivated. this closeness as a common people between two bickering nations is unique in our context. but with a few more generations down the line, will this closeness remain or evaporate forever into the future?
i fully agree with his final remarks 'give me your weavers, your drainers,/your huddled financiers and traders yearning to breathe free,/the wretched geniuses - with IQs above 160, never mind EQ -of your teeming shore.' the crux of the matter is all talents, with IQs of 160. not all the half talents or mister average which we too have plentiful, and have given two or two and a half years of their precious youth to the nation. and will take up arms to die for the nation. we cannot trade off the lives of our own sons for half bakes. experts, technocrats, professionals are welcome with open arms. i will welcome them too. janadas uses the example of america and uk as good examples of free countries that benefitted greatly from the welcome foreign talent policies. what he forgot to elaborate is that these two are big countries and especially america where land is big and opportunities are aplenty but with few heads except red indians. they have no problems accepting all the foreign talents without causing severe unemployment and social stress to their own people. america is a totally different case as the country was new and unstructured, and wild. we have structured ourselves over the last 40 years. we cannot afford to drown our country with an influx of foreigners to replace the citizens. or shall we follow the americans in displacing their true sons of the soil, the red indians, with foreign talents? this follow the america thinking is very dangerous for a small country like us. the stark difference in dimension and size will put all policies that were right in america wrong here. we try to do things like we are america but without the critical mass to spread the risk or to provide the numbers. as such, we have seen many crazy ideas being implemented, blindly to the detriment of nation and people. yes welcome all those with 160 IQs.
malaysia will be a nation forever divided and sanctioned in the constitution. the bumiputra policies, with its well intention to protect the rights of the malays, will divide the country along racial lines. ain't this bad enough? now the more serious and dangerous threat to further divide the country is the sanctioned of islam as a parallel institution to the national courts of justice. article 121(1A) rules that the national courts have no jurisdiction over the religious courts. the nation thus has two judicial systems of equal status. does it mean that if the religious court sentenced a thief to have his hands chop off, the national court has no right to intervene? what about citizens who are muslims and are also from other races, and the issue is grey or controversial? can the accused choose to be judged by a national court? the body case is a good example. the family has no say and neither has the national court any say even to dispute whether moorthy actually became a muslim. and as much as he is a muslim and belongs to islam, he is also a husband and a father and belongs to the family and his indian community. but the religious court is supreme. with racial and religion as the two swords that divide the nation, and with a religion that has no qualms about interfering into the private affairs of its believers and non believers, the stage is set for more confrontation. malaysia can be set on fire any day.
catherine lim wrote a long article today in the straits times on the perennial issue of freedom of speech. i must say i fully agree with her. just recall the white elephants at buangkok and the sale of white elephant t-shirt issues are enough to tell a very enlightening story. i buy you kopi, catherine.
fast forward to the worldbank/imf conference and the big demonstration. then imagine 300 demonstrators from usa, australia, uk, south korea, japan, hk etc got arrested for violence. then all sentenced to be caned. wow, can be a tourist attraction. and another guinness world record.
the stringent criteria for the presidency has limited the pool of candidates to a very few very rich and well established individuals. it is no longer a position for the not so affordable people. people who are qualified to run for presidency literally do not need the money. they are well established, well accomplished, and well advanced in age. the presidency is the highest position in the state and its value cannot be measured by a salary. let's not insult the presidency by giving it a money value. also they don't really need the money. make the presidency an honour position. it is an honour to serve as the president of the nation. people seeking presidency shall not be seeking money. the thought is degrading. in this light, i would suggest that the president be paid an honorarium and not a salary. and the honorarium can be in the region to $200k or $300k per annum. more than enough. too much for such dignitaries who have achieved a lot in life. let them serve with honour than with money in their mind. let them be above money and need not have to pray how much they should get for bonus at the end of the year. remove the money factor from the minds of the people and let it not be an issue of ridicule.
numbers are very interesting especially in percentage terms. let's apply it to the gst and see how funny it becomes. imagine a jobless man who happens to earn only $100 in a year as he was unemployed most of the time. his annual income is $100. and he pays no income tax. can't be? but what about indirect tax through gst? he pays in everyway as he consumes goods and services. bus fares, food, conservancy fees, etc. let's say all this adds up to $100 gst. he pays 100% tax!!! true. no joke. an unemployed can pay 100% or more in tax because of gst. what about those who earn no income and still pay gst? what kind of percentage? then apply the gst to those who earn a million and pay $10,000 in gst. in percentage terms, the rich pays very little gst compares to the very poor. this is number game.
in coes which is a piece of paper that lasts for 10 years. in scrapping their almost brand new cars that can last for another 10 or more years. in a subsidised hdb flat that will eventually be valueless. in upgrading their eventually valueless flats by pumping in more money. now you know how singaporeans spent their life savings and ended up as hard up cases. owning a hdb flat is not an investment but an expendable item just like a car. instead of 10 years, it is 99 years. the initial profits due to inflation and speculation will end up as nothing with time. it is not a freehold or 999 year leasehold where the value could stay for a long time and even appreciate more the longer it goes into the future. a 99 year old lease is a depreciating asset, a consumable asset.
the feelings against ns defaulters are very intense and very wide spread if one is to take note of the number of letters in the media. it is an issue that is going to stir up as much emotions as the nkf. every adult male is affected. the parents are affected. the wives and children are affected. in fact the whole nation is affected. though we can expect the masses to have a varied response on the issue, i thought the politicians should be very clear headed on this. ns service cannot be compromised and cannot be bought. but this is something that we have set for ourselves and it will also be a noose around our neck. it will restrict the nation in its way of dealings with exceptions. how to welcome talents who defaulted on ns? how to welcome an exceptional talent who is young to be a citizen without the dread of ns? and how to welcome the likes of melvyn tan who have made good, to return home?
a letter by a harry chia said that low thia khiang is so foolish to waste 5 or 6 candidates in angmokio. he is so foolishly sure that the wp will lose. no doubt i will think that the wp will lose. 99% sure in my view. but can people be so certain that tomorrow the sun will rise? the judgement is that it is a forgone conclusion. this is like god speaking. knowing the future. though i don't think wp will win, i still think that it is not a bad idea to contest at angmokio. let's not take things for granted. not to take the voters for granted. in a fair contest, in a fair election, you don't really know the results until the fat lady stands out to sing. why would people take risk, be entrepreneurs, try the impossible? singaporeans will not?
they are increasing the president's salary again, what to $2.5 million? from the perspective of those who are earning in the millions, what's wrong, just another what 5%. small change. from the point of view of those who are earning $1200, this must be madness. but then the argument is that there is only one president. so in terms of percentage against the whole economy or govt wage bill, it is so small. when a person is earning $1200, give him $1000, it will change his life. if one is earning in the millions, given him another $1 million, very likely the comment will be peanuts. and the money will not make any difference to him except to inflate the already inflated savings account. how a nation distributes its wealth and who or how many people will benefit from the nation's wealth is an issue which the academics will have a world of a time discussing it. oh, all the poor citizens will get some, don't worry, it is very fair. the poor will be well looked after.
i am not too sure about this. but what i have gathered so far is that a born singaporean can only exercise his right to become a citizen of another country only when he attains the age of 21. this means that all male singaporeans who intend to take up another citizenship will still be a defaulter if he does not serve his ns. he is thus liable to be charged in court when he steps into singapore even if he is now a foreign citizen. cannot even be a pr here until after he has been charged as a defaulter. 'sway' to be born a singaporean. if born from anywhere else, malaysia, india or china, or indonesia, can come here and work as pr and be treated as a foreign talent. there is no possibility for the govt to accede to a request to defer ns pending application for foreign citizenship at 21. so technically cannot escape.
i am wondering what is nkf? is it a national hospital with responsibility to look after kidney patients and the problem of kidney diseases at the national level? or is it a charity set up to help kidney patients who cannot afford the expensive treatment? from the way boonwan talked about nkf's future roles and responsibilities, looks like nkf is a national hospital with national responsibilities. then it is better to privatise it and run efficiently as a profit organisation. no need donations from the public. if it is set up as a charity, then it must be able to reduce the cost of treatment for the patients. setting up all the clinics and running at a cost higher or almost as high as a profit making hospital does not justify its existence. it is better for nkf to concentrate on subsidising the medical cost of patients from donated money. return or sell the clinics to the govt or private hospitals to run them at lower cost and better efficiency. (hi anonymous, trying to locate your latest post on this but couldn't find it.)
i fully agree with speedwing that there is no shame is being poor. often in life a person is dealt a poor hand and got to live with it and make the best out of it. for the religious, there are many reasons for life to be this way or that way. society has looked at poverty differently. and there is often the intent to want to help, but just enough for the poor to continue to eke out a living, to extend their life in misery. no poor people can expect society to feed them and cloth them and to live well. but the poor needs help and help will be given, on conditions. this brings to the issue of means testing. my personal view on this is that the poor is already poor. help them if one can. no need to humiliate them more by subjecting them to embarrassing questions. the argument that there will be those who aren't really poor but will take advantage of the help given is valid but not really that serious. this can be dealt with on a case by case basis. the people in authority somehow find it so easy and comfortable to ask for means testing. what is means testing? basically it demands a person to be stripped naked for another person or a group of people to see, to inspect his finances. i have seen some of the questions asked in the forms issued by charitable organisations. many were simply intrusive and out of line with the realities of life. but basically the questions intend to make sure that the person being checked is penniless, totally broke. how many are so desperate when earning $1,200 is now considered poor and needed help. and this is officially acknowledged. many financial checks are way behind time. but that is not the point. the person who thinks that it is acceptable to subject another human beings to this kind of humiliating checks must be prepared to put himself through the same process. many people have asked that the people in authority declare their assets. but it all falls silence. who in his right mind would allow people to peep into their finances and personal matters? if this is objectionable to the rich, then it is objectionable to the poor too. both deserve some respect as a human being. many poor would rather suffer in silence and in poverty that than to lose their pride. the recent case of the 3 children who missed school is only a drop in the ocean. yes, those who have may say, if you are poor, when your stomach is empty, when you needed help, what is pride? should society be so harsh and passionless to treat a person in dire straits in a callous and insensitive way?
not only your baby pays tax. your grandpa and grandma pay tax. your school going children pay tax. your unborn baby also pays tax. gst is non discriminatory. anyone who consumes goods and services pay gst. the unemployed are not exempted. the old and bed riddened are also not spare. all pay gst. that is why i called for discrimination in gst. there must be discrimination so that those who should not be paying tax should not be taxed. whether this be in the form of direct exemption or indirect refund or some systems, let the administrators go and think about it. otherwise, no one is free from tax. the young and the old, working or not working, all pays tax. is this what we want? this is uniquely singapore.
for all the students who have just completed their 'o' level exam and are waiting for their results, some may have proceeded to jcs immediately, and some may still be waiting for entry to polys. many are still holding on to their student ezlink cards. what has happened is that the cards have been reprogrammed to charge them non student concession rate without any announcement. and for those students who have gained admission to jcs, they will be happily paying adult rate if they did not check their cards. and if they do, they would likely have to get the jcs to verify their student status and get mrt to revert them to student rates. any refund? this is efficiency in singapore that is not only ugly but frightening. can't the authorities be graceful enough to let the children use the c0ncession cards for a couple of months till after the 'o' level result is out? why the eagerness to earn those extra few cents from school children? well, are they working for their own bonuses or what? so, are privatisation and profitability turning humans into mindless greedy robots? shall we pray to this new god called privatisation? are we becoming a passionless society where everyone thinks of nothing but money?
the colour of red is getting unwelcome. red invitation card, and hongpow. i was reading this article in the paper where the mother of 6 children mentioned that sometimes she felt unwelcome because of angpows. got to give to 6 children. and the wedding invitation card can be quite formidable as a demand for payment. it is not easy to invite your colleagues or friends to a wedding when the angpow is now $100 per head when held in a hotel. some even put in $200 per angpow. at the rate the angpow is inflating i think one day wedding at hotel will only be for the very rich. and one of these days the wedding couple may get into shock when no one turns up for the wedding, all because of the hefty angpow. why be compelled to attend a wedding and pay so much? then a $2 or $1.10 angpow is disappearing and people are loading them with red $10 notes, and some times more than a couple inside for the lunar new year. how far will this go before giving angpows becomes a frightening experience? should someone speak out and reverse this trend, when giving angpows is just a token for good luck and not pot luck. angpow should be reverted back to its former practice, as a goodwill gesture with a small token sum, maybe standardised at $2. the specially big angpows be reserved for children giving to their parents. preservation of a tradition and culture must not become so expensive and prohibitive that eventually it will kill it.
the first funny article i read in the editorial of the straits times. it more or less suggests that a tour guide must also drive the tour bus, be an expert in both and thus earn more. this is called job redesigning or upgrading. so we have two jobs reduced into one in order that one man can earn more while one man loses his job. i prefer another approach. create more attractive jobs and paying very well too. from one job, create another two jobs from the first jobs, and all pay equally well. how does it work? have a ceo. then create a senior ceo. then create another advisor to the ceo. all big titles and deserving at least ceo pay. in one stroke it kills two birds. create more jobs and jobs that pay more. why destroy jobs when there is unemployment? why take away someone's ricebowl to give it to another leaving one without a job? it is hilarious.
i watched the censored version of the debate on tv last night. not much of a debate actually. just some brief cuts here and there. the main issue from those for punishment is to make it equitable as ns is a vital national institution that cannot be undermined. the other side of the argument is to treasure every singaporean, defaulters or not defaulters. the latter group even go to the extent to saying, 'just tell me how much and we will pay' to default and escape ns. but there are the feelings of more than 700,000 ns men to contend with, and more along the way. any thought that anyone can buy themselves out of ns is a no go. i can appreciate the need to welcome back the prodigal son. no one shall be condemned to be exiled. the thought that the country may offer the route of pr for those who have taken up foreign citizenship and be allowed to return did crop up in my mind. be kind and generous and let them return in a different form, but not as a citizen. this option is good only if citizenship is so desirable, that citizenship comes with plenty of privileges, that people are craving to be citizens to be favoured by the nation. but unfortunately it is not. citizenship comes with a heavy burden and a big personal sacrifice. the cost of being a citizen is very high. a ns man actually gave away 2 to 2 and a 1/2 years of his life to the state. during this period he is owned by the state and have to go through all the training, regimentation, sleeping on dirt, braving the weather, playing with fire or weapons, and in the process, risk losing his limbs or life. and what did he get in return? pittance from the state that he probably had to ask his parents for pocket money. then another 20 years of reservist liabilities when his life can be disrupted by the call of duty. ippt, in camp training, overseas training, silent recall, on standby etc. and don't forget the military punishment, detention, extra duties for breach of discipline. can all these pains be worth it? is a fine of $10,000 or 3 years jail enough compensation? why would a man choose to pay so dearly for a title called citizen when he can enjoy practically everything a citizen has by just being a pr and without having to go through ns? is a $1 million bond good enough to pay? after going through the sacrifices a ns man has to go through, i think the new punishment is still not enough. there is no privilege being a citizen except the right to vote. to protect the institution of ns and the defence of the nation, the nation would have to live with losing a few prodigal sons. unless citizenship is so attractive that just being a pr is so disadvantaged that people would want to volunteer for ns. only then can the nation be generous enough to offer a pr route for singaporeans who still want to remain here and avoid ns. that is, when pr is a second rate resident while citizenship is first class with first class privileges.
the govt is spending $1 billion to help those who are earning less than $1,200. would the govt be kind enough to consider helping the group of fallen talents, formerly very talented, many were managers and ceos, but now unemployed or become taxi drivers? this group, some in the late 40s or in their 50s, have housing mortgages, children in school, but now with a dwindled income as taxi drivers or some other jobs that really would not be enough to provide for their families basic necessities. and many would not come forward to ask for financial assistance even when they have fallen on bad times. this is the most neglected group and with the most responsibilities and needed the most help. maybe we should organise a charity show and interview them and let them tell people their hardship on television, and hopefully after a few tear jerker stories, they might receive some donations from the public. they are so pitiful.
this is a comment by dr ho khai leong on the wp's intent to field a team at angmokio grc. why won't the electorate vote out a pm? such a question or thought seems so naive in the singapore context. the pm winning his seat is a given. would this hold true in other parts of the world? many pm's and presidents have been booted out by their electorate. why not in singapore? can it happen? are the people's vote so easily taken for granted, that the pm must be voted in?
is it right to tax those who are struggling to make ends meet? many singaporeans on the lower end of the income bracket did not pay taxes before, until the introduction of the gst. this is a sweeping tax formula that does not discriminate the people who are being taxed. it is super efficient as an instrument of collecting taxes for the govt and covers practically every consumable items. now all singaporeans are being taxed. this taxation through gst hits the poor more than anyone else. yes, it also means that the rich will also have to pay more in their purchases of big ticket items like housing and cars. to be socially more just, perhaps a little discrimination shall be introduced into the system to leave out the lower income group. they are now taxed quite heavily all because of gst. basic necessities like food and water, transportation, medical, housing and conservancy fees are all subject to gst. the amount of gst paid under just these few items will come to several hundred dollars. transportation at a monthly expenditure of $100 per head multiply by 2 adults and a child could easily come to $250 or $3000 per annum. gst payable is already $150. does the govt have any interest to alleviate the poor from being taxed so heavily? would they introduce some discriminatory rules into the gst to favour the lower income group? i think this is a first in the world for the poor of a country to shoulder such a huge tax burden relative to their income.
it was a time when confidence was high. everyone was thinking of a better tomorrow and actually expecting it. pay rises were huge and frequent. year end bonuses were equally enormous. everyone was upgrading and every residential project was swarm by prospective buyers. other than house huntings, the other thing worth doing is playing golf all over. playing in singapore and malaysia is not good enough. australia, china, thailand and other distant golf courses were frequented by singaporeans. those were the good times. the golden years of singapore. when i was told that, i thought otherwise. there were more golden years to come. that was just the beginning. a peek to what more good things will come the singaporean way. but we also wondered whether that would be the end. and it seemed so. it came so fast and furious, only about 10 years ago and vanished in less than 10 years. now what happens? even hdb flats nobody wants. selling cheap also no takers. and the govt has to give out $1 billion to help 240,000 people, countables, who are in hard times. the number of not countables and facing hard times is unknown. but the rich are getting richer and faster. the ugly face of greed is popping out everywhere. a huge house build on weak foundation will collapse on its own weight.
the world is on fire, firing all three engines instead of 2 and 1/4. for the last few centuries the advancement of science and technology was basically supported by the european civilisation. then this splitted with a strong branch growing in the usa and a little branch in japan. today, usa, europe and asia are pulling in their weights together with china, india and korea joining japan as the full asian branch. with all three engines firing together, the rate of growth and progress in science and technology are likely to be in leaps and bounds. the impetus of such a powerful combination of human energy and resources can propel the world at a pace not seen in history. however, these energy must be carefully harnessed for peaceful economic growth and competition and not in war. the consequence of a third world war will be more devastating as the promises of tomorrow.
i read that gold packet is getting popular and is preferred more than the traditional red packet for the lunar new year. one of the reasons may be novelty, to be different. and gold seems a more expensive item to hold. and gold prices is surging again. why not give gold packet instead of red packet? this reminds me of the attempt to have tiger dance instead of lion dance in malaysia a few years back. in their craze for something different, to be different, to be creative i supposed, people will try out new ideas. but trying out new things must be a result of improving something and not going backwards. the idea of fuzzy logic is good for those who build it from a base of logic. otherwise fuzzy logic is nonsense. all the man in the street has fuzzy logic as their thinking and thoughts are unstructured and totally fuzzy, with no logic. what has this got to do with changing angpow to kim cua(gold paper) or next time geen cua(silver paper)? a lion dance is built on the fabled and mystical lion which is an auspicious animal. the tiger in the chinese tradition is a vicious animal and anything but auspicious. during chinese new year there will be lion dances to ward away bad luck and welcome good fortune. tiger is most inappropriate for such purposes. the red packet, the colour of red during the lunar new year is also for a specific purpose. to ward off bad luck and the mystical beast or nian. red is everywhere, in clothing, pasted on the side of doors, in food presentation, and of course red packet for good luck and protection. red is more than a colour of choice but with traditional significance. what's wrong with kim cua? nothing wrong unless the mind wanders a little to include geen cua. kim cua is used in prayers to the deities and geen cua for the dead. sometimes kim cua is also burnt for the dead. how does it sound giving kim cua on chinese new year? last year when we gave kim cua or gold packets, we did received some not very favourable comments. some people may be offended by it on such an auspicious day when saying the right thing, right words and right sound mean so much. it will be disastrous if someone utters the word kim cua instead of kimpow. the latter is so unfamiliar while kim cua is a common usage and may be splurted out. happy chinese new year!
Derogatory Adverts By Paul Chan's 'The Craftsman's Forge'This ad "How long more must I take this bus to work?" upsets some commuters.Jan 13, 2006 I saw an advert on my drive to work today which made me a little indignant with the people who put up the advert. As you can see from the photo, OCBC seems to think that its shameful to take a bus. ... The advert screams out to people outside to compare themselves to the “unsuccessful people sitting in the bus. How much more insensitive and derogatory can one get? I hope the advertisement censors get to this really soon. I don’t have a problem with OCBC trying to drum up business for its wealth management portfolios. Just don’t do it by putting people down. the above comment is by seah chiang nee in his littlespeck.com hey chiang nee, got to face reality man. when a man is poor he is poor. what is the difference with the naming of budget terminal? luckily they don't call the bus system and mrt as cheap transport system for cheap people. never mind lah. let people poke a little is ok. take it as a reverse motivation and work harder to own a car and fly by sia. and they can count themselves lucky that they will get a $1 billion workfare bonus. it is quite good and respectable to be a little bit poor in this rich nation. there will always be crumbs falling off the table. must thank ocbc for the motivation. see, can look at things positively : )
allowing a rogue nation to possess wmd is a nightmare. the concept is a very powerful one. many will be easily frighten by the possibility of a mad leader like hitler or bush who will be trigger happy to use it anytime he pleases. iran must not be allowed to own nuclear weapons. on the other hand, who is the rightful person or state to pin a rouge nation title on any country? who is morally good enough to earn that right? the next question is, why are some nations allowed to own wmd and some not allowed? why are are some allowed to threaten others with war and some not allowed? the israelis are very confident that they will be able to launch a successful attack on iran's nuclear facility. success always builds confidence, some times blind arrogance. we have done it and we will continue to do it successfully. our formula works the last few times and will work again and again. the opposition are weak and unable to think of better counter moves or strategies. this is the mindset of all victors. they always think that things will not change and they will win again and again. the iranians were once an empire, the persian empire. they are not fools. just like the chinese and indian empires, battered for many centuries and written off as backward and unprogressive people, hopeless and no talent. today they have stood up to regain their places in the international community as respectable people. the uae is also proving that arabs are no fools. will the iranian be able to stand up to the impending attack by the israelis and the americans? and would they be able to turn the tide? iraq said they will be smashed. iraq is a good example to all ambitious arab states that they are poorly equipped to fight a conventional war against the mighty forces of the empire. but would iran prove to be a bridge too far?
That restructuring has hit Singapore's elderly (economic definition here: any one over 45) the hardest has become patently clear, shown by the government allocating the biggest bag of goodies to them. Some media people call them the crucial swing vote in the coming election. The expectation (at least until the perks started to fly) was that many of them would vote against the government. That got me thinking. There must be some old-timers in the PAP who must be saying, "Thank God, we didn't give an extra vote to Singaporeans between 35-60 years who were married and had children!" the above is from an article by seah chiang nee in the littlespeck.com. in brief, chiang nee's contention is that it is a good thing that the proposal for the oldies to have two votes will backfire on the pap this time given their hard times. i choose to disagree. i think the $1 billion dollar handouts will score quite well among the oldies who needed the dole. and a few dollars will mean a lot to them. they can be easily satisified given their dire straits. no need to throw peanuts at them. hungry people are quite easy to please. they don't think too well either. many suffering from dementia. and if $1 billion does not do the job, next time can increase it to $2 billion and call it workfare plus.
from a workforce of more than 20,000 agents to 13,000 today. that must be a great way to create jobs. from an attractive profession that provides a decent and good livelihood, many agents are trying to make ends meet. that is another great achievement. why has a flourishing industry that supports a huge and happy workforce been battered to a state that joining the industry is a case of no better choice? i wonder how many other industries are facing the same plight? maybe insurance agents will do better if they call themselves entrepreneurs. that title will entitle them to earn more and be respectable. is it because the insurance agents were earning too much and people begruded their high income? and they were able to afford big cars and big houses, which probably make people's eyes turned from green to red. one thing for sure, these agents or the industry were not in a position to tell the world that they are professional people and deserve to be paid well. and, because they are able to provide a good level of service and professionalism, they should be paid more than a peanut. i find it very odd that the insurance people are not able to demand to be paid well and demand to be respected while people working in non profit charitable organisations can demand such high respect and high income. qualification may be a factor, i think. they should create an insurance university and award all the agents with first class honours and doctorate. i think that might help. once they get the papers, their work scope can be that of a clerk. but all they need to do is to give themselves a big title and pay accordingly. people will accept that formula. the game will be different if the insuracnce people were able to justify their own value and income and decide how much theyshould be paid. they can even create more jobs with better job titles to be paid more....only if they could not be questioned. i think many insurance agents would qualify for workfare bonuses.
why is the society of the blind having more members that are not blind? the blind membership chairman answered. 'when the applicants tell me that they are blind i have to take their words for it.' the above story was posted in the talkingcock forum. and i wonder why would these people with sight wanted to join a society for blind people?
this blog is the best example of singapore as an open society. i have written everything truthfully as they are. i have written about everything that can be written. is this not enough proof of our openness. must invite george soros to visit my blog.
someone replied that the name budget terminal is fine as it truly reflects the character of the terminal, for budget travellers only. ok, ok, i accept that. from now onwards all hdb flats shall be called budget flats or cheap flats. no more rivervale or riverdale or whatever. punggol just call punggol, sengkang just call sengkang. punggol lane 1, 2 and 3. sengkang lane 4, 5 and 6. so no punggol sixth avenue huh. budget names are good for budget things. cheap food courts, cheap shops. we can retain names like kopitiams. this should be fine. where is my blakang mati? sentosa? weird? can budget people be allowed to have a little illusion and hallucination? i remember the story when the poor farmer told his children that yellow sweet potato is called pork and red sweet potato is called roast meat. facing reality everyday can be quite painful actually. changi international airport for rich travellers, budget terminal for not rich travellers. nice, truthful, appropriate and pragmatic.
or maybe i should rephrase that and ask, 'parents, do you know what you are doing?' the singapore sports school is facing some dropping outs of students and coaches. that should be normal and expected in all schools and systems. what i find it hilarious, yes hilarious, is that the reasons given include things like the school or parents expecting the academic standards to be as good as a normal school. and complaints of too tough or not enough time to do sports training and academic training as sports training is taking too much time and too stressful. unbelievable! if our sports talents, or the world's sports talents are so gifted that they are so good academically as well as in sports, then they would be the perfect human beings. can it be possible? spending more than twice the normal school hours in sports training and wanted to do just as well academically? supertalents, better than all the talents in the best colleges? one has to choose either one to excel and spend more time in it. there is no way to excel in both. maybe one in a million. the purpose of the sports school is primarily to train sports talents. not academic talents. doing both or trying to do both is pure folly. if this fundamental concept cannot be grasped by the school and parents, then indeed all the education is wasted. just tell the parents plainly that their children are to be trained first in sports. any academic training is at best rudimentary. if they cannot accept that, better not to enlist them in the school. and the school not should try to sell the idea that the students will also do well academically.
george soros calls for an open society that is tolerant of differing views. when asked about singapore he said, 'obviously, singapore does not qualify as open society...but i hope they will be brave enough to take the next step in the development of an open society.' the ministry of information, communications and the arts responded by say, 'if we were not an open society, george soros would hardly be able to make the comment at an open forum in singapore, and be reported in the singapore media.' can both parties be speaking the truth? or one is telling the truth and one is lying? who is to be the judge. if infocomm is telling the truth, then why is soros, an eminent and successful man, obviously not one who talks without knowing what he is saying, making those comments. soros probably did not know the whole truth. or shall we ask the singaporeans who are living witnesses to the system whether they think we are an open society or otherwise? whether differing views are tolerated, when and where it matters. the most accurate way of putting it is by tommy koh. 'while the us appears to be moving from a more open to a less open society, singapore is moving in the other direction - from close to open.'
quoting from a report by lee uwen in the today paper, the health feedback group assured sick singaporeans that the ability to pay their medical bills should be the least of their worries. from the procedural aspects, the system will first ensure that no one can be admitted without proof of ability to pay. this will actually take care of those who cannot afford to pay from being admitted. the screening process prior to admission is meticulous and unyielding. no money no admission. but according to a dr lee kheng hock, the govt's 3m scheme comprising the medisave, medifund and medishield actually was found wanting in many cases when the patients needed the assistance. each case is unique. but because of the stringent criteria, many cases were turned away. is that not funny? a safety net that was there but not there. actually it is not funny at all. so now the feedback 'group is now pushing for an integrated national healthcare charity fund to be established to act as a "safety net" for them and others in the same boat.' ie those that needed the net that would not work. 'it could be managed by community leaders who will focus solely on raising money. when the pot runs dry, the people will see the need to top it up. it will be like a community based "medifund" that acts as an additional layer of help,' said dr lee. cannot believe in system perfect singapore that a safety net needs another safety net as it is found to be faulty. how about a third net in case the second safety net fails again? what this portends to is that all the assurance about not to worry is not that comforting after all. it is like creating all the problems, ie raising all the fees, then create a series of solutions and found the solutions not working. so create more solutions again to patch all the leaking holes. why not go back to the basics and address the problems of high fees. bring down the fees and save all the effort to create all the safety nets with funds that cannot be dispensed out. does one feel encouraged?
Islam must prepare to rule the world, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad told a crowd of theological students in Iran's holy city of Qom, according to a report. "We must believe in the fact that Islam is not confined to geographical borders, ethnic groups and nations. It's a universal ideology that leads the world to justice," Ahmadinejad said. i quoted the above from littlespeck.com. and i must say after reading it i have started to look more favourably towards people like bush and blair. at least i share more common things with them about life and material well being. i won't want religious police to knock at my door, home or hotel, to see who i am with. i won't want to be sunat. i won' t want the state to snatch away my worthless dead body from my family. i want to watch my movies and have my wine. i am secular. i don't mind other people being religious. but i would not allow people to force me to be religious and to follow religious laws.
i was impressed by the son of jb jeyaratnam when he spoke as president of the law society. his main gist was to make legal recourse more affordable or cheaper to those who cannot afford it. did he overhear the things that we discussed here? i helped a friend to get a legal firm to represent him for a royalty case. and the firm was highly recommended to me by another friend. the case was settled after one hearing. my client was happy that he won and was awarded about $120k. it was quite straight forward. he paid his legal fee which came to about $110k. actually my one year as a law student had given me enough knowledge to know that the facts were in my friend's favour. what a great victory and great legal firm. my friend is still celebrating it today and everyday, with four letter words.
the bird flu is spreading all over the world. the casualties are not that high and it provides a lot of time for the human race to react to it, and tackle it before it becomes a pandemic and wipe out half of the earth. but looking at it from god's point of view, it is a warning against those countries that think it is ok to use chemical or biological warfare against another country, espionage or covert actions to damage a country's economy. god said simply, 'don't try, it will come back to you in more ways and faster ways than you can imagine.' chemicals and bacteria or viruses in the air will be airborned or be carried by birds, produce or simply humans, to all corners of the globe. no country can think of being immuned from it once it is let out. let us pray that no idiotic leaders will embark on such a warfare.
the budget terminal fits very nicely to the new budget terminal. no frills, just simply budget. and we got to thank them for not engaging a pr consultant and spend another $300k trying to find a more suitable name. and a forumer's reaction in the new paper, one steve ngo, was hilarity. i too feel the same way. it would be more fun to call it heartland terminal. then we can bring it closer to the heartlanders since they will probably be the people who cannot afford to travel in class and use the classy terminals at changi. and heartlanders can also feel proud to have a terminal name after them. and later they can change the name of changi to something more classy and fit the image of the sophisticated travellers. let me see, high class terminal? for high class people? or maybe spend another half a million for a pr consultancy to find a more suitable name. heartlanders' idea of a high class name may not be appropriate.
hdb states that it has 9000 units of unsold flats. assuming the average price of each unit is $200k, it means $1.8 billion stuck in these flats. servicing the interest at say 3% of cheap loan will cost $54 mil a year. and these flats have been left unsold for an average of 10 years, i think. this means $540 mil and on a simple equation of depreciation, losing 10 years is 10% of its value at $200k per unit or $180 mil in value. does this mean that hdb has made a loss of $720 mil on these 9000 units of flats over a 10 year period. and the losses will add on if the flats remain unsold? the figures are just guesstimates but it sure looks big if true. like i said to matilah, today's success is tomorrow's failure. what we think is good today could actually destroy us. the same success and failure story is nkf. because it becomes too successful, it leads to its downfall. hdb was a success story but then over built. our birth control policy was so successful that it has now become a big problem. life just go round in circles.
this came from a letter by a dr huang shoou chyuan in today's straits times. the general argument is quite similar to what leong szehian wrote the other day. dr haung touched on a few key points. 1. very few top singapore students become 'truly top ranked scientists, entrepreneurs, inventors, business executives or academics.' 2. these top students would choose easy courses to score 3.8. and 3, it would be beneficial and they would better benefit from their overseas education if they try some other unrelated subjects. i personally have known of many singapore students who are top ranked in their fields. and some of them are not even the top of their cohorts in singapore. for the top of their cohorts are now prime ministers, ministers, permanent secretaries and ceos. they could not become inventors or scientists or others as their career paths are towards government and public services. if only they were channelled to the other fields, these creme ala creme will definitely do much better. lee hsien loong could become a john nash. why not? and many will emerge as top ranked scientists and inventors from A star and dso and other r and d facilities. dr huang must take note that r and d is fairly new in singapore and would take a while to bear fruits. and i think it is an underestimation to think our top students would opt for easier courses just to score 3.8. they might take a few easier subjects. but their core subjects will not be forsaken. doing unrelated courses is always a good diversion and helps to widen one's perspective. and no one can disagree that it will benefit the student in having a more versatile and interesting student life. but it would not necessarily make them better scientists or whatever. no one who wants to push the frontier of science and technology can afford not to specialise and spend gruelling hours in their field of study. taking time off in unrelated subjects is only useful to a little extent. without them will not hurt. but unable to excel in their fields of study, to score As, will weaken their foundation in what they are doing. some of the frills and thrills of life can be acquired along the way as one moves along in life. the basic and foundation courses must be very strong to advance further to test and discover new knowledge when new knowledge are becoming more technical and scientific. spending a year reading the animal farm or about mozart and picasso would be nice but not really that critical.
mahathir's heart is no good and has gone to ask the americans to make it good again. this could be his costly mistake given his pro arab and anti jewish stand. many arab leaders have been poisoned and died because of similar stand. and mahathir, despite all his wisdom and political acumen, chose to go to the usa instead of singapore. an after thought. it is better that he does not come here. singapore will have many things to answer should the operation fail.
i read this article about how much people are willing to spend to look young and gorgeous. and the extent they are prepared to go, under the knife. all for people to say, 'ah, you look so good.' or 'ah, you look so young for your age.' the former may be a bit difficult to achieve and need to spend effort and money. the second is so easy to get by. if you are 50 and look 50, just tell whoever that you are 65. and 'ah, you look so young for your age.' so whatever age you are, just add another 10 to 15 years and you will get your 'ahhs.' it feels so good to look younger.
creative's zen vision m won the best product prize at the international consumers electronic show 2006 organised by cnet. it beats all the korean and japanese products of bigger names. well done creative. ipod did not come into the picture as it did not participate in the event. the zen vision m won on many of its features and technical specs. i have commented earlier that the zen product is anything but zen. this is based only on its appearance. nothing about its quality. the ipod is really zen like in look. features wise i will leave them to the technical people. when put together under the microscope who will emerge the winner is another story. but creative has won in cnet and can at worst be number two, if not triumphs again. hey creative beats iriver and brands like sony, panasonic, toshiba etc. wow! the team in creative that develop this product needs a pat on the back. forget about the guinness book of record. this is what i meant by useful talents. this is real.
seah chiang nee wrote about the foreign workers groping local girls in orchard road and the fear of a reprisal by our local gangs. and a similar showdown like sydney. i bet some of the local gangs, the ah bengs, are already planning to hit back. how can foreign workers come to our homeground to molest our ah lians? they will be whacked this time round if they dare to repeat their folly. and our friendly foreign workers policies will come into question. for if the foreign workers were to gang up, it is not going to be like sydney. it will be sydney a 100 times worst. there are so many of them, hungry men, lonely men and village mentality. it can be very ugly. the message must be passed quickly to the foreign workers to stop their nonsense. better still for those caught to be despatched immediately and with a lot of publicity as a deterrence. don't try to imagine what it would be like if 100,000 foreign workers riot in orchard road.
the emergency drill conducted on sunday is something that singapore is very good at. our uniformed groups and the civil servants are highly efficient when come to matters like security. we can expect them to be ahead of things, things that can be planned will be carefully planned. so many agencies were tested on sunday. it was a very comprehensive and well thought of exercise. and given the number of people involved, the complexities of events and people, it can be very chaotic even as a drill. just imagine when it is real. the tension, anxiety, panic and nervousness, and fear, will be ten fold. i was thinking, what would happen if, just before the first simulated bomb blows off, a call came from a non exercise station telling the controller that it is the real thing. a bomb has exploded in say jurong east and there were casualties. caught in the midst of a major exercise and a call came in and it is real. the authentication and confirmation and the redirection of the forces to a real and new destination can be a very massive exercise. let us pray that it will not happen. somehow i think it will, only when.
as i meditate, there is nagging concern that something needs to be done for the poor kidney patients. it is, or it was the only charity that i regularly donated until i stopped a few years back. i did received many thank you letters from durai before. i find it unacceptable for people to have to pay to live. we pay for our food. everyone pays for food. but why should this group of people pay for dialysis without which they would die? and the dialysis is not cheap. it is a life sentence that they did not inflict on themselves, unlike aids or some diseases that you went out to court it. we now know that private hospital is charging $180 per dialysis. the new nkf charges $162. working on these two numbers, if we can start a charity that subsidises the full amount, or the patients need only pay whatever they can afford up to a maximum of $50, would not that be helpful? the donors money is like god's money. the money comes from the heart, never ending. the intent is to help. we should help the willing donors to process their money to the needy with minimum cost. if the patients cannot afford to pay a single cent, the charity must be able to pick up the full tab. the charity shall support as many patients as the donors are forthcoming and the fund is available. mission: to provide subsidies to kidney patients for dialysis treatment as much as the charity can afford. concept: the charity is to be run by volunteers who need not be paid market rate salary. all volunteers may be given an honorarium for their charitable work. only 20% of the donation shall be set aside as expenses, which will include honorarium, refreshment and transportation for the volunteers. no need to build hospitals or clinics. maybe no need for an office. but if funds allowed, a small office will do as the function of the charity is only to process funds, applications and administration of the patient and charity records. thus the operating cost of such a charity is very minimum. 80% of all donations shall go towards subsidising the dialysis fee. no other hidden cost, no big manpower bill, no big organisation to feed, no medical staff. maybe a few full time admin staff, if necessary. the patients can be referred to the charity from members of parliament or any charitable organisations. they will do the processing and screening for eligibility. a kidney patient is a kidney patient. this no one can hide. and all payments shall be directly paid to the hospitals or nkf or kdf or whichever approved providers. when to start: all those who are reading this can actually sound out to potential donors whether the concept is acceptable and ask for an indication of intent to donate to the charity. no collection of donation until the charity is officially approved and registered. ideally we would like to have donors donating like the lifedrop scheme of nkf. this we should thank durai for his concept. when the concept is well accepted and there are sufficient donors willing to come on board, some of you can come forward and volunteer to be founding members and sit in the board. warning, no big fees. only 20% of donations will be set aside to defray all expenses. all expenses and payments will be fully accountable and transparent. and if the charity really kicks off and substantial funds are flowing in, this 20% may be further reduced. this is a charity and people coming forward shall see their rewards in the service they provide to help the needy patients. ALL OF YOU WHO HAPPENS TO READ THIS, PLEASE PASS THE WORD AROUND. WE WILL USE THIS BLOG INITIALLY AS THE SOUNDING BOARD AND FOR FEEDBACK. LET'S SEE IF WE CAN REALLY DO SOMETHING AFTER ALL THE TALKS. REDBEAN.
Education Great up to a point. Singapore's students are brilliant in math-science tests; American kids test much worse but do better in the real world. Why? Fareed Zakaria, NewsweekJan 6, 2006. i pick the above quote from littlespeck.com. what i would like to add, yes, in the real world, if you have a billionaire father, do you need to be very smart to run one of his companies? but if you don't have a billionaire father, or if your billionaire father is not too confident of himself or you, then he will employ an american who is so so but was made a ceo by his father to be ceo in your father's company. and you will have to smell his arse even if you have straight As. this is the real world.
i was pondering over the two figures of dialysis treatment cost quoted in my earlier posting. $180 in a profit making hospital against $162 at nkf. the difference is really peanuts if one is subsidised by public donations, the govt and the charges paid by the patients. my main point of argument is that a charity set up with the help of public fund to help the needy must be able to reduce the burden of the cost of treatment very substantially, maybe down to 10% or 30% of what a profit making hospital or govt hospital is charging. what is the point of setting up a duplicate facility only to cut the cost to the patients by 10 or 20%? taking the nkf as an example, would it be a more cost effective charity if it does away with all its clinics and infrastructure and retains only the fund raising and administrative function to manage and disburse the funds to the patients? with all the cost reduced to maybe less than 10% of what it spends for the clinics, medical supplies, medical staff etc, would it be able to give or subsidise each patient the $180 charged by a profit making hospital? and the patients could actually be fully subsidised by the donations. isn't this what a charity should be doing, paying as much as it can for the needy patients? i am not sure if the nkf fund could subsidise the full $180. but definitely it could subsidise quite a big portion of this if it does not need to operate and pay for its huge medical facilities and operations. and this is applicable to all cost ineffective and inefficient charity organisations. they should not set up any facility and charge almost the same as a profit making or govt built facilities. just collect the donations and reimburse or subsidise the patients and needy recipients. if the setting up of their facilities only save the people they helped by a little, and if the amount of savings to these people is substantial without having their own set up, then they should do away with their facilities. let the experts in their fields manage the facilities at the most cost effective way. yeah, privatisation and efficiency and cost consciousness. charities shall just concentrate on disbursing funds to benefit most the people they are helping. if what they are doing is not cost effective, they are actually wasting precious donors money.