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6/30/2006

comfort women fairprice

Talkingcock.com posted an article that NTUC Comfort is moving into masseurs services and setting up a new company called Comfort Women FairPrice. Now this is a test to see whether Singaporeans got any sense of humour. I think got. But before this conclusion is final, lets wait for an official confirmation.

the anwar factor

The Anwar factor. Anwar is squeezing himself into the fight and it seems like he is not on anyone's side. Now it looks like a 3 corner fight but with Anwar cheering the two combatants to slog it out. Isn't that interesting? From the reports apparently the Umno camp has cold shouldered Anwar which is understandable given that Anwar will be too big a presence and a threat to many of the aspiring leaders. And it is also to Anwar's advantage to let Badawi and Mahathir to fight it out. When two tigers fight, very likely both will be badly wounded. And here comes Anwar, clean after washing away all the dirt and mud that were smeared on him. Nothing can stick anymore. Looks like Anwar's chances of becoming the next PM is still very good.

myth 30

'Singaporeans are so lucky' I can't help share Mr Brown's enthusiasm today. Everything is up, spirits up, morale up, hopes up, salaries up, prices of properties up, fares up, fees up, and I think happiness index also up. It is such a joy to read happy articles like this, contributed by Mr Brown in the Today paper. And in the small prints Mr Brown also included a small thing that was left out, the income of the 30% low income earners. Only this little item was not up. And after reading all the ups, I got this strange feeling that something is not going to stand up. I think our population rate may be slightly affected if this thing is not up. But all things considered, Singaporeans should be happy as there are more ups than downs.

6/29/2006

myth 29

'Voting for PAP will get priority in lift upgrading' This is now a confirm myth. Voting for PAP does not guarantee priority in lift upgrading. Similarly, voting against PAP can still get priority in lift upgrading. The factor that decides lift upgrading priority is not how one votes but whether the constituency is won by the PAP. If a constituency is won by PAP, everyone in the constituency will be treated equally and get lift upgrading priority. If a constituency is lost to the Opposition, everyone in the constituency will share the same fate, ie no priority in lift upgrading. In this way, everyone is treated fairly, PAP or Opposition supporters, all the same.

poor singaporeans getting poorer

Poor Singaporeans getting poorer. The latest General Household Survey shows that the lower 20% household income dropped by 20% to $1,180. And the 30 percentile dropped by 5% to $2,190. Here we are talking about a household's income, the income of two breadwinners. And ironicall the top 10% household income gone up by 14.8% or $16,480. But the survey did not show the top 3% household income. This is very likely to be from $1 mil to $2 mil for a year or probably a 100% rise. Just extrapolating on the incomes of individuals which went up by $1 mil to $2 each. And if the household has two super income earner, the net increase could be $3 mil or $4 mil. But all these are natural, unavoidable and expected as the supertalents must be paid highly or else they will be poached by other MNCs and will be a lost to the country. We cannot affford to lose our CEOs in SIA, NOL, Singtel, PSA etc etc and all the banks to foreign companies.

6/28/2006

myth 28

'Singaporeans are asset rich' Some are, and some are very rich. But for those living in 99 year leasehold, just don't be happy too early. The first batch of HDB flats should be about 40 years old by now. This means that in another 60 years they will become worthless. How's that for being asset rich? And actually the dwindling asset value will come sooner, maybe in 10 or 20 years time when the value of the asset is going one way, down, down and down and then out. And no matter how much upgrading and money put in, once the lease is nearing the end of its shelf life, it is like a man running out of time. All his properties and assets would mean nothing. Time out, game over.

education hub -caveat emptor not enough!

The case for CASE in the education scene is getting more rigorous and important. CASE took on the role of playing a mediator as well as guardian in an industry that is showing promise but with a lot of shady players. There were problems and problems to be tackled. CASE went into it by setting up some systems which theoretically are very sound in protecting the interests of the students. The only little misgiving is that it expects all the good guys to come forward and forget about the bad guys. And the bad guys continue to operate freely in a different world. It is anarchy in a way. And the complaints to CASE keep growing, a few hundred cases every year. And by adopting a hands off approach, CASE is now waving the flag of caveat emptor to all the foreign students and parents. Free market, buyers beware. Now is this the right way to go, a laissez faire market and those who got conned or cheated just too bad? Let the market evolves and let market forces take care of itself. There will be winners and losers. I rather that there be some enforcement and regulations. We cannot have a system where people can be cheated if they are not careful. And how careful can these foreigners be when they are strangers in town? For a reputable education hub to exist, there are certain expectations. And one of the expectation of Singapore and the Singapore brand is trust and honesty, a system that is fair and transparent and no cheating. If we cannot live up to this expectation, then our education hub status is destined for the gutters. Caveat emptor is not enough.

its here, taxi fares going up

Ahhh finally it is here, taxi fares are going up. With the prices of oil shooting skyhigh, how can taxi fares remain unaffected. It is only natural and something of a must happen. Next on the line will be bus fares and mrt fares. Another two natural comrades. And don't forget school buses. Oh yes, electricity bills. Sure must go up. This means that all business cost must go up as their electricity bills must surely go up. And what do all these means, everything is gonna go up. Perhaps, maybe, or hopefully, some wise genius can bring down the price of oil. And I thought I remember some people said they can do that. Definitely not Chiam or Low Thia Khiang. What is interesting is to know that tariff rates are pegged at a higher future price. This means the rate used to price today's power rate is higher than today's oil price. How clever. How not to make profit.? This is the beauty of being privatised. Just care about how much to make and ensure that the system or methodology favours the bottom line and not the pocket of the consumers. Three cheers to privatisation. I only hope that no smart alec is going to say, since oil prices are going to go higher in the future, lets prepare the people for higher oil prices and price the power bill to some future price of oil say at $100. Then the people will know how to save or conserve the usage of electricity at home.

6/27/2006

poster boys

In the Straits Times today the two prettiest faces on its pages are those of Michael McCrea and Ram Puneet Tiwary. Both are poster boys material. I must say they both look so charming and disarming that no one would believe such pretty faces could belong to two vicious murderers. Both have something in common, killing two people each. And both spent time in Australian prisons. And both will be saved from the death penalty, protected by Australia's humane laws that are very caring for criminals.

myth 27

'We need to privatise to be efficient.' Do we really believe in this myth? If we do, shouldn't we privatise all the govt services? Why do we let these inefficient govt services to continue to exist and be paid so much for their inefficiency? Any civil servant or anyone from the govt would admit to this myth, that they can only be efficient when privatised? I feel that this myth is the most insulting to all the civil servants.

6/26/2006

myth 26

'Singaporeans vote for politicians who can serve them' Singaporeans go to the polls to elect Members of Parliament who can serve them, who can take care of them. This is only partially true. The truth is that Singaporeans vote a govt so that they, the people, can serve the govt. When they go to the polls, they are actually going there to surrender their rights, or put it in another way, to vote for a govt to control them, tell them what they can do, cannot do, what is good for them, what is not good for them. And this ritual occurs every 4 or 5 years without fail. And after the ritual is over, the govt will start to think of all the best rules and regulations and laws to protect the Singaporeans from their immaturity and wanting to hurt themselves. And the people will feel so secured and safe, that their future is in good hands.

please pity the poor road bullies

A controversial US research indicates that road bullies are suffering from a serious mental disorder. And Cheow Xin Yi in his article in Today paper asked, 'Spare a kind thught for that horny blasting, expletive spouting road bully?' According to the US study, it suggests that the idiot behind the wheel may be the victim of an obscure mental condition described as intermittent explosive disorder(IED). Poor chaps, they are violent not because they wanted to but because they are sick and unable to control themselves. Or maybe they should send these IEDs to Iraq as a counter measure against the Iraqi IEDs, Improvished Electronic Devices used to kill American soldiers. I believe the American IEDs will prove very effective. A local pyschiatrist, Dr Ang Yong Guan, spoke about the case of a young man who would overturn table because people stared at him and would want to beat up the other person. When asked, he said, 'I have always been like that, but I didn't know why I am like that.' Another victim of IED. What a pitiful guy. The only thing that is common among these bullies is that they seemed to be picking only on guys that are smaller and easier to beat. And I think that probably points out to the right solution to prevent them from going into a rage. I would strongly recommend that these poor bullies be caned at least 24 strokes by a guy bigger than them when they fell victim to their own sickness. I think that is the only way society can help them to help themselves. I really, sincerely, honestly, feel very sorry for them. And if 24 strokes of the cane still cannot help them, double the caning. Up to a point I think the pain should wake them out from their sickness.

6/25/2006

myth 25

This myth has been on the lips of many people for a long time. There have been rumours and speculations that the PAP has at least two factions competing for dominance, one led by Choktong and another by Hsienloong. And many hope, and have been hoping still, that a split in the party will see two equally balanced parties coming out of it which is good for Singapore, something that Singapore really needs. But all these hopes were in vain. The PAP remain as united as a party as ever. Choktong was elevated as the SM like LKY and behaves like LKY did when he was a SM, taking orders from the PM. The PM is the undisputed captain of the team and decides who should do what. The best example recently was the dispatch of Choktong to Potong Pasir and Hougang which Choktong did like a good soldier. That is party discipline and conduct which should be enough to dispel the thought of a party divided. Maybe after Hsienloong, as for now there is no way that the party can split into two factions. Hsienloong is too strongly entrenched in his position as the PM and with a new team and the summary retirement of some old guards would make his position doubly secured. And dissidents within the party, if any, will now be too small a force to make any impact and splitting is no longer a viable option.

more high paying jobs for singaporeans

Toilet Specialist is a novel and innovative way of creating jobs for the oldies that are no longer worthy of their existence in our young society. And to train them in a polytechnic and getting a diploma in toilet fineries will put them in good stead for many more useful years in jobs that Singaporeans shunned. I can immediately see the potential of these specialists. We can export them as foreign talents to countries like China or India or other Asian and Southeast Asian states to teach them how to manage their toilets and raise their standard of public hygiene. The Indonesians and Phillippines export their domestic helps, we can export our uncles and aunties, oops, I mean Toilet Specialists, armed with diplomas to lend them more weight in what they say or do. This is a second career for retired bankers, managers, engineers etc who are no longer employable in our young and vibrant society. They could eventually contribute another source of foreign exchange to our economy, a kind of a second wind. We have done another first.

6/24/2006

another reason to hire native English teachers

Chua Mui Hoong wrote her piece today explaining the need for native speakers. Her reasons, why not, as long as they are trained and capable. Then why not trained Singaporeans who are capable? If the conditions are capabilities and being trained to do the job, you don't need native speakers. She then argued that with native speakers, you can create a conducive environment for the language to flourish. True, how many do you need to create such an environment? 5 native speakers in a school? Here is her answer and the main problems that our society will have to deal with. 'Students need good speech models. Hiring a few more hundred English lanuguage teachers can help create a good English speaking environment in neighbourhood schools. Students will benefit.' Sure I also agree. Just have 100 native English speaking teachers should be sufficient for a school to provide such an environment. Just a minute, how many teachers are there in a school, 50? How many schools are there? There are 178 primary schools. Just primary schools alone we will need to recruit 17,800 native speakers to provide the environment. And do we still have room for local teachers? If training the teachers is the solution, maybe recruit a few native speaking teachers if we can't find any local teachers good enough. But this will not be able to create the conducive environment as required. Or like some local international schools did, hire a few foreign looking teachers and print their faces on the school magazines, that will give some credibility that the schools are really international and world class with world class foreign looking teachers.

singaporeans are sick to the core, idiots really

I was glancing over some snippets in the Straits Times this morning on the growing trend in blogging and the flourishing of blogs and forums in cyberspace. Several writers commented that it is self defeating and a dead cause to think of regulating cyberspace. Actually all the laws on scandals, libels, seditions etc are there and any bloggers or forumers who flirt in these areas will have the law to reckon with. There is no need to set up a new ministry and a manual of new laws to tie up the netizens. What is appalling among the snippets is this statement by Khoo Li Han, I think a journalist by profession. He said, 'Even as the Govt considers giving more leeway to bloggers at the next GE, they should practise self discipline and not post nonsensical comments. Only when Singaporeans cooperate with the govt and give it the confidence that bloggers are blogging appropriately, can they be given more freedom...' Why can't people post nonsense and lighted hearted comical stuff on the net? Why can't people indulge in fantasies and escapees? All the Ah Peks in the neighbourhood kopitiams are engaging in intellectual and no nonsense comments, or they need to be regulated as well? But the disgusting point is the acceptance that freedom does not belong to the people. Freedom of the people is for the govt to dish out if it so pleases. And the people must behave, then only shall the govt allow them some freedom. This also means that the people went for an election to vote for a govt to control their freedom, or to surrender their freedom. For goodness sake, Freedom is our natural right. Why must we behave in a way that the govt thinks is good and only then can we be given more freedom? How sick can Singaporeans be? If from the first principle, they already accepted that it is the right of the govt to regulate their freedom, they are as good as dead meat. Finito! You are slaves with no freedom to talk about. Is it the fault of the govt? Or is it the fault of our political system, culture and education system, that we believe that our freedom is conditional on the good grace of the govt? I think the govt is quite happy with this state of affair, that the people think that their freedom belongs to the govt. And there is no need to educate the people to the fact that freedom is their natural right as a human being. It is a happy state favouring the govt. And the govt can use this mentality to decide or manage how much freedom to give to the people. When the govt is not happy with the bloggers and forumers, it is only a matter of how to manage or regulate it. Our freedom is like our money in the CPF, to be dished out to us at the mercy of the govt. It we are good and cooperative, we will get a bit more. This is indeed a sick society when the people does not think freedom is their intrinsic right. Are we first world?

6/23/2006

another nail in the coffin

Another nail has been slammed into the coffin that threatens to bury Singapore's ambition as a regional education hub of excellence. Ritz Everton Academy closed its business in the pattern of another fly by night operator. How much damage will this done to the already battered and shaky image of Singapore as an education hub when students keep being cheated of their money and aspiration to attain a reputable academic degree or qualification? While the Tourism Board is trying so hard, and investing so much funds and resources to build the education hub status, the education and private school scene is like the wild wild west. Anything goes. All and sundries are in the pot, with many rotten and stale meat, to make a world class stew. The issue is how could this happen and keep repeating as if it is a normal state of affair. And how could Singapore build a reputation as a reliable and dependable centre for quality education? Can't believe it, that this is happening and everyone is taking a hands off attitude. Not my problem.

resurrecting Li Ao

I am trying to resurrect Li Ao's statement that Singaporeans are stupid today. I have heard many rumours that large local organisations, some govt linked, are in the process of pushing their oldies for retirements. And these oldies are in their 50s and 60s. And the people or management who are initiating this move to move these past their prime employees out of the way are in their 40s or late 40s. And they spoke about these oldies with so much contempt without knowing that the writing is on the walls. That they, in less than 10 years, or even 5, will themselves in the same cesspool of oldies. And the next batch of 40s will be telling them that it is time to go. And the country is finding problem to keep these oldies economically active! And these young assholes are pushing them out of the job market. Ok, there will all be retrained and become specialists. Either the govt comes out emphatically to tell the people, especially those decision makers, that people are now expected to work to their 70s and 80s, this message will never sink in. Maybe the govt needs to hang a few of the 40s for treating the 50s and 60s as have beens and needed to be put away quickly...in retirement villages.

myth 24

'The Ministry worked under the misguided belief that native languages and mother tongues are determined by descent, and that languages are monolithic rather than variable in nature.' by Yvonne Lim of Today Paper. Now let me try to grasp the meaning and implications of this statement, or myth. The Ministry, must be the Ministry of Education, the authority in pedagogy, in the education of the nation's future, could not understand the difference or meaning of 'native speakers' and believes that native speakers are by descent? If this is true, indeed we have a serious problem. And now every man and woman in the street is saying so, that the definition adopted by the Ministry is questionable and nobody agrees to it. And the teachers and would be teachers are very sore. No lah, I don't think the Ministry really misinterpreted the meaning of native speakers lah. Shall we call this a misplaced myth? And for trainee teacher Meenakshi Narayanan, don't feel slighted just because she does not come from England or North America or white by birth. Incidentally, the bumiputras of those countries speak English and not Malay. Language is a living instrument and should not be used in a rigid way. And words like bumiputra, son of the soil, means different native of the soil in different land.

6/22/2006

myth 23

'The govt is harrassing and threatening bloggers' This myth is inspired by an anonymous blogger here who threatens me that because I am posting myths, my existence will become a myth. And I believe our govt will not stoop so low to do such things. So my guess is that this guy must be paid by some party or organisation out to discredit the govt and go around blogs planting the seed of fear, threatening bloggers with severe actions. Now this is a nice myth. I will have a few more myths inspired and in a way contributed by this blogger.

a nation of specialists and foreign talents

Soon Singapore will become a nation with the most specialists after the restructuring and retraining excercises bear their fruits. All our mature citizens will be specialists in their own right. Toilet specialists, crockery distillation specialists, environment specialists, roadside specialists, voiddeck specialists etc etc. And soon we will have more professional bodies registering with the Registry of Societies to accommodate all these maturing specialists. We have, as a nation, upgrade ourselves in the skills of our workforce. We can then boast of having foreign talents and local specialists. Foreign investors will be spoilt for choices with the talents and specialists we are offering to them. And rightly, all these talents and specialists will see a higher income to commensurate with their specialist and professional skills. We no longer have to compete with China and India in trying to pay lower. Our workers will now command a higher pay.

french PM on key visit to Africa

read this headline in le monde by agence france presse.

myth 22

'Soldiers die in battlefield' This is a truism until it becomes a myth. Today's soldiers don't die in battlefield as war is not a common occurrence in peaceloving nations. Soldiers die in battlefield only because their country wages war for whatever reasons. Today, soldiers die without going to war. They die in swimming pools, bathtubs or inside their dormitories, reading books. At the rate it is going, we are going to see more soldiers dying without fighting the enemies but killed by friendly forces or own troops. Maybe the military organisations should consecrate a new medal for soldiers who die without going to war but in the service of the nation. Soldiers or young men who need not die if they do not have to don on uniforms for the country.

6/21/2006

myth 21

'Singapore is not a homogeneous society' I always say this. We are pluralistics, multi racial, multi cultural and multi religious. But this is now a myth. Hsien Loong said we are a homogeneous society, a society that has been mixed and integrated into one. 'In Singapore, we have 84 constituencies, but basically they are all more or less the same. you don't have a rural area, a city area. You don't have a very working class area versus a very upmarket area. We have made sure you don't have a Malay area or Indian constituency or Chinese constituency.' Hsien Loong said.

myth 20

Ok let's call this Myth 20. 'The govt is listening.' Actually the govt is listening. But the govt also has a mind of it's own and thinks that it knows better. So it is listening but not necessary for the govt to agree with what it hears.

good news, cpf refund!

Good news for 950,000 HPS members who are paying to protect their HDB flats. The CPF Board will return $480 million of surplus to them and the premiums will be reduced by 10 to 35%. I am wondering how long it takes to accumulate such a huge surplus. And I am also wondering when they found out that the premium is excessive high. And I am wondering whether all the provisions in minimum sum and Medisave are excessively high as well. Maybe 30 years down the road they will have several billions of surpluses to return to the aged CPF members. Unfortunately they might not be around to hear the good news.

mature workers, be patient...

'But as far as jobs are concerned, Singaporeans - especially mature workers - have to be patient as the cyclical economic restructuring runs its course.' Reported by Loh Chee Kong in Auckland covering Hsien Loong's speech. This reminds me of a story of a man whose penis was rotting. After seeing hundreds of doctors he finally found one who told him not to worry. He was at once comforted. But he was also worried as the doctor did not prescribe any medicine for his penis. So he asked anxiously how it was going to be. The doctor said, 'Be patient, it would whither, dry up and fall off by itself.'

the right to choose and disagree

While overseas in Oz and New Zealand, Hsien Loong has been comparing and answering questions relating to our political system and what the ruling party should and should not do. And discrimination in lift upgrading according to the party the voters voted to Parliament is the way to go. And so is one party govt. Hsien Loong believes that the one party govt must continue and it is good for Singapore, having seen how divisive and disruptive multiparty system is in the two countries he visited. Would Singaporeans agree with him and choose to go for a multi party system in the next election? Many critics may disagree with Hsien Loong and the PAP. That is their views and their rights to disagree. It is also the PAP's and Hsien Loong's right to choose what he thinks is best for Singapore. It is also his right to disagree with his critics and the opposition. This is something that the people must live with. This is a contest of ideas and political beliefs. The opposition and the critics of the govt have all their rights to champion an alternative system. And the ruling party, being voted to govern, has the prerogative to rule as it deems fit. And the people shall decide which is best for them during the election.

6/20/2006

let's create more tragedies

She is only 26, has three children, 7, 6 and 1 and divorced. At one stage she left for work daily and left the baby to the care of a 6 year old child, locked up in her flat with plain rice or noodles. How could people be so thoughtless and irresponsible, to bring lives to this world without caring how these lives are going to survive? How could these children ever think of growing up as normal children, go to school, get an education and live life without all the deprivation? How could people be so unfair and wicked to these children? Bullshit if they called it love. There was another man and a woman, both second marriage, both part time employees. And they had between them 4 children each. Do they care or know what life will be to these kids when they, the parents, could not even afford to look after themselves? And such tragedies are being perpetuated, if not, even encouraged by society. Are we being kind or evil to let these things to happen over and over again? When people are irresponsible to their children or to the lives they brought into this world, recklessly, what shall the society do to them? Or shall we pat them on their back and said well done, keep producing a few more tragedies?

myth 19

'Singaporean teachers are well trained to teach' I can't believe that I have to call this a myth. But when the Minister said so, then a myth it is. Tharman was shocked to discover that Singaporean teachers were not taught to teach English and were assigned to teach English. Now how could such a blunder happened in our world class education system? Now we even have an institution called National Institute of Education where all teachers are properlee trained and awarded a degree or diploma in education. Then why are our children shortchanged by having unqualified teachers to teach them English? I believe this must be so traumatic for the Minister that it prompted him to call for the recruitment of native speaking teachers to teach our students whose standard of English has deteriorated because our poor English Language teachers were not trained to teach the subject. Isn't that a mouthful?

6/19/2006

myth 18

'All Singapore households own a TV' For a super rich Singapore where all household gadgets are part and parcel of life, owning a tv, radio, fridge, washing machine, hifi etc is now taken for granted. Every household should have these equipment. And so the story goes. This guy was fined by MDA for not reporting that he did not own a tv set. And the onus is on Singapore resident to inform MDA or else they will be fined. Why is there such a regulation? Isn't it enough when asked to pay for the licence, for the house owner to confirm that he does not own a tv set? This must be the problem of a super rich country. Maybe next time they will fine people for not owning a tv set. Maybe...below is copied from Singaporesurf. RECENTLY I received a summons sent by the Media Development Authority (MDA) for having a 'broadcast television receiver without a valid licence'. I called up Licensing Services (Broadcasting) to inform the staff that I have not had any television set in my house from at least last year, so how could I be guilty of the offence? An officer from the licensing unit told me: 'You did not inform us that you did not have a television set, so you have to pay the fine.'.... N. Stanley Jeremiah

6/18/2006

do we need native angmo teachers?

We need angmo teachers to teach us English. Our standard of English has declined. A few immediate thoughts came to my mind. 1. Fire all the staff in MOE. All these high payment morons have failed the education system miserably and do not deserve to be there. 2. This is a case of pocket too much money. So fingers itchy and must find ways to spend them. Or something like if we want good sportsmen, just buy them. 3. Local talents are never good enough, so must pay for imported quality. Locals going to lose some jobs to foreigners again. 4. We are paying for quality foreign talents, so school fees must go up. Quality does not come cheap. After 40 years of excellence in our first class education, after 40 years of almost 100% literacy rate, after ramming our population with English in all major media and means of communication, from pop culture, fashion, literature, movies etc,... and our standard of English got from bad to worst? Why don't we look at it in a different way? Before, Ah Lian and Ah Beng only swore in Hokien or whatever dialects. Today they can swear in English. And they could do a little bit more. They can use words like auntie and uncle! Our society is anything but homogenous. The languages or dialects spoken are poles apart in terms of grammar, sentence construction etc etc. Do we really believe that with native angmo teachers our standard of English will be as good as England or America? And we believe that the mases will speak Queen's English like native English gentlemen? Even in England, many native English speakers speak in a variety of dialects and accents that are incomprehensible. The good English speakers are there, and those who need to speak and commnunicate in good English will possess the skills and abilities to do so. It is unnatural to expect the pork sellers and fishmongers in the market to speak good English. On the reverse, we could expect them to speak good dialects or their mother tongues. If we are thinking of having a nation of native English speakers, the only solution is to ban all other languages. Then we can proceed from there to make everyone a native English speaker. In reality, many Singaporeans are already native speakers and English is their mother tongue. English is not only their first language, the language they were born with and spoken at home, but also the only language they converse in daily. Want good native English teachers or not? Want, got or not? With our openly admitted position that our English Language is of sub standard, how are we going to attract foreign students to come here for a good English biased education? And how are we going to become a centre of excellence in Education? When foreign parents know that our English standard is half past six, no come anymore.

6/17/2006

stomp, stomp, stomp

The Straits Times is stomping all over the cyberspace for the last few days. With the muscle of the the main paper, its advertising resources and the money it has, it is using all its marketing power to stage a claim to be the number one player. And it has been very successful in promoting itself, with free gifts being thrown at their visitors. I think the budget must be pretty substantial. The conquest and claim for a presence in cyberspace is on. The Straits Times means business, to gain its market share and readership in no man's land, in a new frontier. In the fun, pop culture and entertainment fields, there is no doubt that the Straits Times will have an upperhand over the other blogs and forums. These are fadish and politically neutral areas and are easily embraced by anyone who are in it. The true test of influence is in the social and political fields, providing views in these areas are politically sensitive. And as long as the Straits Times is seen as an official mouthpiece, its penetration in these areas are bound to be inhibited by its own history and background. The cynical, questioning, non conformist and rebellious readers will still seek the unregulated and freer blogs and forums for more refreshing views. What ever the Straits Times objectives, it is a welcome player in cyberspace and will make the scene more colourful, vibrant and interesting. Huh, more choices. Interest in cyberspace has blossomed and is now an area to be reckoned with. It now has a noticeable presence.

there must be distinction between state and party

Mah Bow Tan contributed an article in the Straits Times forum today to explain his stand on lift upgrading and the criticism by Sylvia Lim and some other letter writers. On this issue many people disagreed with him. His explanation is that the money used for the upgrading were earned by the PAP govt and thus can be used for party interest. How blind and misguided this kind of thinking can be. The whole nation's resources are available to whoever is in power and at their disposal. It is so because there are managing the nation on behalf of the people as one nation, one people. The nation's wealth and resources and revenue generated, belongs to the nation, not to the party in power. Otherwise the party might as well use it to build a monument or a huge party complex since it is now deemed the party's money and they use do it to serve party interest. This is the failure of being too long in power and unable to draw the line between the nation/state and the party. Can't blame him as many people have treated the govt as the PAP and also synonymous with the country. That's why you have people who are unhappy with the PAP and ended up being unhappy with the govt and the country. But the line must be drawn clearly just like personal selfish interest and interest of the country. For the good of the country or for the good of self or party. They are not necessarily complementary.

myth 17

'One party govt is bad.' This is a very familiar saying. Throughout the election, all the opposition parties and individual citizens were calling for a multi party govt, vote for more oppositions in Parliament. We have practically a one party govt for 40 years. The legacy of these 40 years is growth and growth and more growth. The standard of living of the people has been spiralling all the way up. Even after the latest financial and oil crisis, generally the lives of the average people are still resonably comfortable. There will be pockets of desperate cases that need assistance. But on the whole, things are manageable and still looking good. Compare this to the world, we are second to none in terms of progress and development over the last 40 year period. Then why the call for a multi party system? The one party system has done us well. People getting richer. The able and well position just get more and better than the not so well placed. But crumbs aplenty for those who are prepared to pick them up. Not that a one party system is all virtues. The fear of a one party system turning bad is there. The effectiveness and dominance of a one party system, under clean, honest and enlightened leadership, can do a lot of good to the nation and people. This same effectiveness and dominance can do equally or more harm to the nation and people if it is turned against the people. We have seen and heard nuances of how to fix, deal, manage or regulate those who disagree. This is what power can do. The question is how far it will go and when will things go bad. If the govt continues to be in the hands of good people, people who have a heart, selfless and not selfish people, magnanimous and not petty and mean people, there is nothing wrong with a one party government. But can anyone guarantee this happy state of existence to continue into the future?

6/16/2006

myth 16

'What is right is right' This is a very simple myth that we have grown up with and increasingly glaring with events unfolding. The sneaky humankind have been doing this for centuries, distorting truth and right without blinking and eyelid. We are seeing many court judgements in our northern neigbour on Anwar being overturned by the court itself. Back home we have seen many things and reasonings which no one can agree upon as rational, reasonable or correct but still insisted and pushed to the people as right and good. Maybe we should add in a subclause to say right according to who.

new kid on the block

The latest revelation of who are in the party in Shanghai, attending the SCO conference is a startling development as far as the Americans are concerned. It is a diplomatic coup of sort by the Russians and the Chinese to win over the support of the East Asian and Middle eastern countries, including India. Several Middle eastern countries with Iran standing out prominently, is going to raise hell in Washington. The outsiders, the outcasts, the push arounds, have found a platform and supporters to bolster their cases against the domineering Americans. They are now not alone. A small insignificant grouping, starting with the Shanghai 6, it has morphed into a giant, as big as NATO, to be a counter weight against the pushy Americans. Its rapid growth in stature and influence in international politics are more a result of the push factor from the US. The SCO got the Americans to thank for their rising influence and importance in world politics. A new world order is shaping up.

a familiar problem

'(the people) now make a living selling houses to each other, financing the deals with mortgages. The XXX scandal that recently shook the financial community is a clear symbol of the greed that has become an insidious problem even for large, publicly owned corporations. While companies shared increasing profits with their employees previously, those have become a burden and more and more jobs are moved outside the country to lower costs. Income inequality is on the rise, boosted by incessant tax cuts for the rich. the por are staying poor and the present administration makes few efforts to take care of the weaker deciles of the population as govt inaction before.....' The description above is very familiar. It is actually written by Emanuel Shahaf and is in the Today paper. He was actually describing the American and their economies and the Enron scandal. By removing the specifics, it is applicable to many countries. It is a problem started and created by the Americans and eagerly copied by young blue eye boys around the world.

6/15/2006

myth 15

'Greed can be satisfied.' I am raising this myth after discussing with some bloggers on whether it is acceptable to tax the poor. One thought so and considered it low to tax an income of $12k per annum at 5.8% or $700. But when I posed to him the question of who is in a tighter spot, someone who earns a million and pays $200k in tax or this poor chap who could not make ends meet with his $12k income and still have to pay $700 in tax, he backed off his position. Can greed be satisfied by keeping on paying more to the greedy? A technician who missed his $80 annual increment for losing a test meter could have his world shattered. He may need the extra $80 for his school going children's pocket money. On the other hand, a person who is doing sweet nothing and getting paid $1 million may still expect his 10% increment every year, with no caps, as if it is his birth right. And this is the trend, for the big earners to keep lining up their pockets in the millions and never say enough. Greed can never be satisified. The more one gets, the bigger the appetite and the bigger the delusion of grandeur and one's talent and ability.

6/14/2006

myth 14

'Singaporean pays the lowest tax' This is the myth that Singaporeans are believing. Yes, in income tax alone, we may have one of the lowest rate in the world. But in real terms, the amount of tax a Singaporean is paying is very high especially at the bottom rung of society. The poorest segment of our society, the people that need help, pay the full GST. Everyone, from the baby to the retired and jobless old man/woman, pays tax in the form of GST. In many countries, there is no income tax on the poor. And also no GST. We are perhaps one of a kind in this world to tax our poor.

6/13/2006

myth 13

I might as well add this to the list of Singaporean myths. 'The richer one gets, the more magnanimous one becomes.' I would expect rich people to be more generous than the poor people. I would expect them to be kinder and less petty as well. But if we were to look at the persistence and the tenacity shown in trying to implement means testing only to catch a few stingy not so rich people, maybe not the right words to use, prudent people who are careful with their money, it clearly shows that rich people are anything but magnanimous. They are so mean and so petty.

myth 12

'Singaporeans are highly dependent on government initiatives.' This is a myth that Li Ao, our Taiwanese friend, said in his latest story on Singaporeans. He illustrated his point by the story of 3 men stranded in an island. The Hongkie will start to pick fire woods and look for food. The Taiwanese, the smartest, will think of how to build house and water supply to sell to the two. The Singaporean will be lost, waiting for a govt to tell him what to do, or to build the house for him. Now this can't be true right? All Singaporeans will disagree with it. Singaporeans are just too organised and prefer things to be orderly. Not that Singaporeans have no initiative. Just look at the HDB flats. If every Singaporean were to paint whatever colour they want on their windows or the facade of their flats, we will have a riot of colours. And if we allow hawkers to do business anywhere, we will have a mess. Neatness, systematic, and staying together, moving ahead are our strength. We will do everything together, organised. Ok, we will now all smile together. Now you see the impact of 4 million smiles! No country can behave like Singaporeans, to be able to act as one people. It is not that we have to wait for the Govt to tell us to smile then we will smile. We are organised and discipline.

6/12/2006

a dangerous combination -internet and freedom of speech

Freedom of expression is bad. It allows anyone to take potshot at anyone at will. Look at what Mahathir is doing to Badawi. Worst still is freedom of expression and internet, a very dangerous combination. Humans, being what they are, everyone is a combination of a host of biases and historical baggages that he grew up with. And anything, any issues, especially govt statements and policies, are going to elicit all kinds of responses. The good are not going to say much. The silent majority will just remain silent. Only the vocal minority who have something nasty to say will have their voices heard, loud and clear. In the past, when information was controlled, when the media was controlled, there was only one voice talking down. Nothing allowed to talk back unless vetted and found agreeable. Today, anything spoken, no matter how innocent or how clever, will receive an equal amount of brickbats from all quarters. And the favourite targets of such brickbats are celebrities, business honchos and, yes, yes, the govt, the MPs and senior officials. When they are not careful, or even very careful, they will still get it. Splurge...shit coming from everywhere. There is no longer comfort in authority. Everything can be ridiculed and every policy can be poked with millions of holes. Before the advent of internet and the freeing of expression, stupid policies and rubbish talks could still get away and the originators still appear high and lofty, looking like a smart alec. No mistakes were broadcast or exposed. Now they cannot run away. They can be made to look so ridiculous, so fallacious, so ah ah... This is the age of the internet and cyberspace, and freedom of speech. Maybe, huh, maybe, it is better to control the media and freedom of speech before it gets too dangerous.

hi all the anonymous bloggers

i am getting quite a number of bloggers using the nick anonymous, and often i am confused with who i am talking to. for easier reference, could you fellas use some nicks, anything. call yourself sun, moon, stars, flowers etc. it will make chatting easier. many thanks. and welcome cherche and alex. thanks for the views. we are all hear to chat and all of us have different views. some very extreme, some funny, some unique, some cheekly, cynical, etc etc. that's how to make a blog interesting. lets have more varieties and differences in looking at things. it adds colour to our discussion. because of the nature of blogs, sometimes i may miss out posts that were too far back. i apologise for that if i did not reach them and reply. that's the reason why i started www.redbeanforum.com. it is easier to retrieve messages as new post will be pull up and easily recognised. please feel free to post there as well.

myth 11

'Citizenship is attractive. We treat our citizen well.' Below is posted by anonymous which i reposted here. i'm sure many of you have heard the story of the shepherd tending to his sheep when a storm intrude and the shepherd and his flock seek shelter in a cave laden with food for such an emergency. in came a few lost goats and the shepherd gladly took them in and fed them with the only food he had and calmed them when they were afraid of lightning. after the storm, when no one came to claim the lost goats, the shepherd decided to make them his but the goats refused. the shepherd was angry and denounced them as ungrateful. the goats replied that they were grateful to the shepherd for taking care of them but they do not want to be a part of his herds saying:"you took good care of us and gave us your only food but you did not take care of your own flock. therefore, we do not want to be a part of your herd." i think the above story says it all. to attract foreigners to take up citizenship, we need to demonstrate that citizens are valued about foreigners. when citizens, PRs and foreigners are treated equally, is there any reason to take up citizenship?

6/11/2006

corruption in malaysia? where got?

Corruption in Malaysia? Where is the proof? Stab in the back According to Musa, the former premier’s vocal criticism only serves to benefit the opposition and nobody else. “During Mahathir’s era, there were allegations of corruption. Mahathir asked, 'where is the proof?' Now, Mahathir is alleging corruption but where is the proof?” he said. The above is extracted from Malaysiakini. An interview with Musa Hitam. What is preposterous is that corruption is everywhere, flowing out from the ears and nose. But Mahathir was asking for proof. No proof means no corruption. And the music plays on. We are corruption free. That is Mahathir at his preposterous best.

mahathir hitting badawi below the belt

Mahathir's latest salvo at Badawi was below the belt. He made it public that Badawi was not his number One choice, attempting to insinuate that Badawi was not good enough. It was very fortunate that Badawi won a landslide victory to confirm that the people were behind him and supported him. Now all the cabinet ministers too came out to defend him. That is good for the time being. But they cannot keep on defending and allow Mahathir to attack unrestrained. In order to take on Mahathir effectively before being hurt as the constant attack will eventually lead to a change of mind in the people, Badawi must go on the offensive and attack Mahathir's mistakes. Hang up his dirty laundry to dry as well. And for this he will need a charismatic orator to deal with Mahathir. The current batch of cabinet ministers is not in the class of Mahathir to take him on. And none will dare to do so.

permanent US bases in Iraq

Iraq war bill deletes US military base prohibition By Richard Cowan Fri Jun 9, 4:59 PM ET WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Congressional Republicans killed a provision in an Iraq war funding bill that would have put the United States on record against the permanent basing of U.S. military facilities in that country, a lawmaker and congressional aides said on Friday. The $94.5 billion emergency spending bill, which includes $65.8 billion to continue waging wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, is expected to be approved by Congress next week and sent to President George W. Bush for signing into law. As originally passed by the House of Representatives, the Pentagon would have been prohibited from spending any of the funds for entering into a military basing rights agreement with Iraq. A similar amendment passed by the Senate said the Pentagon could not use the next round of war funding to "establish permanent United States military bases in Iraq, or to exercise United States control over the oil infrastructure or oil resources of Iraq." The Bush administration has said it does not want to place any artificial timelines on a U.S. presence in Iraq and that it wants to begin withdrawing troops when Iraqi security forces are better able to protect the country. But it has not ruled out permanent bases in Iraq. The above extract confirmed what the Iraqis and the Arab nations were afraid of, permanent US presence in Iraq and the occupation of Iraq. What it means to the war in Iraq is that it will continue in greater ferocity. Now the fight is against foreign occupation and colonisation. It will become a war of independence.

myth 10

'Staying Together, Moving Ahead' Today's announcement of the lift upgrading programme tells all. After casting the vote for the opposition, you belong to the opposition and deserve to be left behind.

staying together, moving ahead?

After reading the Sunday Times this morning I must say that it is confirmed beyond any doubt that too much power will lead to arrogance and delusion. The issue of upgrading has been thrashed out during the election rally and why the people is so pissed off with the unfair application of tax payers money to serve partial politics was obvious. I thought the message has sunk in. And if not, the slogan, 'Staying together, Moving Ahead' would be a reminder of what remaining united as a nation and people means after the politiking is over. Even Hsien Loong called for a closing of ranks and be one people again. The announcement that upgrading will still be preferential and favoured constituencies that voted for the PAP is totally against staying together as one people. It is divisive politics and petty. It smacks of hypocrisy to ask the people to set aside political differences and work together as a people. What is important, and short sighted people failing to see, is that the split in voters for and against the ruling party is about 60:40. This means that in constituencies that voted for the PAP, 40% voted against. On the contrary, in opposition constituencies, there were 40% PAP supporters. This upgrading policy actually benefitted the 40% of opposition supporters in PAP wards and victimised the 40% PAP supporters in opposition wards. At a national level, when opposition only occupied two small single wards, the benefits of this policy to people who voted for the opposition is much greater as a population. And 60% of two opposition wards is insignificant. Would such a mindset bring more votes for the PAP in the next election or bring more anger and be seen as distasteful, thus causing more votes? Is the policy arrived at to win the hearts and minds of the people or a tit for tat boyish tactics, you don't vote for me, no sweet for you?

language: more leeways in spelling

We have problems with Singlish. Some got quite uptight with SMS messages. But language is alive and will evolve to suit the needs of the moment. Different adaptations and corruption of languages may happened, intentionallee or unintentionallee, in different circumstances or in glee. In the internet forum, a new kind of spelling has appeared inadvertentlee, initiallee for a leettle fun and subsequentlee people start to use it funnilee. Whether subtlelee or boldlee, it may take root quite easilee as users find more leeways to apply the new spelling cheekilee. The sun has risen and shining brightlee on a Sunday morning, and it is quite relaxing writing casuallee and easilee. I am posting onlee as a non native speaker and this is not meant to be taken seriouslee.

6/10/2006

myth 9

'Making money is difficult in Singapore.' This has been the painful claim by many Signaporeans, that doing business and making a living here is tough. But statistics have proven otherwise. The number of Singaporeans becoming millionaire is getting more every year. And many people are calling this place a land of opportunities. And this is definitely true. I have heard from this guy telling his wife that every now and then he is happily shocked to see tens or hundreds of thousands deposited into his bank accounts. He has many bank accounts for good reasons. And he has lost track of where and why are so much money are going into his accounts. He has forgotten about all the directorship he is holding and all the directorship fees he is collecting. Too many that he cannot keep track with. Isn't that a happy problem? For those Singaporeans who are still whinning, they should approach the millionaires and ask them how they made the money so easily.

nkf and corporate governance

The latest twist in the NKF saga is like the tale of the 3 musketeers. One for all and all for one. Why should only 3 directors be name and be held responsible for all the problems created? Every member of the board of directors is equally responsible for the conduct and actions/decisions of the board unless he has put in his objection. Perhaps this is the most correct thing for the accused to do, to drag along all their peers to face the music. This is what corporate governance is all about in Singapore and found wanting. Being a director of a corporation is not just collecting directorship fees and drinking tea and having a party. There are responsibilities and accountabilities. Otherwise every donkey will be so happy to grab as many directorship as possible and laughing all the way to the bank. And when some failings appear, quickly resign and disappear from the scene. Not seen, not heard, and forgotten only to reappear in another board of directors. It is good that the Stock Exchange is tightening on the rules and regulations governing corporate governance to make a point that work and responsibilities come first before directorship fees. Directorship is not free lunch.

entrapment

Dabbling with drugs is a social problem and made a criminal offence as it is a habit of choice. The pinky stuff can also be a habit of choice. But some are due to a biological complication, a mutation of sort, that they become different in their sexual orientation. Then some are psychologically wired wrongly. The bottom line is that not many have such sexual orientation out of choice. It is no fault of theirs and society must accommodate their existence and a place to live. Sexual preference as against sexual perversion are two different things and understandably, sometimes the line is quite blur. Child sex is obviously unacceptable and men preying on young boys, even if it is a natural or biological disorder, will not be accepted by society. Putting the black and clearcut cases aside, the pinkies should not be entraped into a situation and turn into criminals. Let them go about quietly in their own world without any glorification. Their sexual life, just like those of normal people, are private matters. Or shall we instal micro cameras to see whether adults or married couples engaged in foreplay or oral sex without intercourse?

6/09/2006

a little bird flu rumour

Just something I received in the mail. "Bird Flu" Do you know that 'bird flu' was discovered in Vietnam 9 years ago? Do you know that barely 100 people have died in the whole world in all that time? Do you know that it was the Americans who alerted us to the efficacy of the human antiviral TAMIFLU as a preventative. Do you know that TAMIFLU barely alleviates some symptoms of the common flu? Do you know that its efficacy against the common flu is questioned by a great part of the scientific community? Do you know that against a SUPPOSED mutant virus such as H5N1, TAMIFLU barely alleviates the illness? Do you know that to date Avian Flu affects birds only? Do you know who markets TAMIFLU? ROCHE LABORATORIES. Do you know who bought the patent for TAMIFLU from ROCHE LABORATORIES in 1996? GILEAD SCIENCES INC. Do you know who was the then president of GILEAD SCIENCES INC. and remains a major shareholder? DONALD RUMSFELD, the present Secretary of Defence of the USA. Do you know that the base of TAMIFLU is crushed aniseed? Do you know who controls 90% of the world's production of this tree? ROCHE. Do you know that sales of TAMIFLU were over $254 million in 2004 and more than $1000 million in 2005? Do you know how many more millions ROCHE can earn in the coming months if the business of fear continues? So the summary of the story is as follows: Bush's friends decide that the medicine TAMIFLU is the solution for a pandemic that has not yet occurred and that has caused a hundred deaths worldwide in 9 years. This medicine doesn't so much as cure the common flu. In normal conditions the virus does not affect humans. Rumsfeld sells the patent for TAMIFLU to ROCHE for which they pay him a fortune. Roche acquires 90% of the global production of crushed aniseed, the base for the antivirus. The governments of the entire world threaten a pandemic and then buy industrial quantities of the product from Roche. So we end up paying for medicine while Rumsfeld, Cheney and Bush do the business. ARE WE CRAZY!!? OR ARE WE IDIOTS!!? AT LEAST PASS THIS ON SO THAT IT CAN BE KNOWN!!!!!!!

educating foreign nationals

Many have spoken about our generous contribution to the education of foreign nationals by granting them scholarships to study here. And many of these students have left our shores after benefitting from our generosities. Would there be some statistics on how much this project costs, how many have been trained and stayed and how many have taken us for a ride? If the numbers do not support that this programme be continued, by now the trend should be quite evident, then it should be scrapped and the money put to better use by training our own children. We do not have to be the international Santa Claus. We are too small to play that role. We have many children of citizens who are more deserving for such financial assistance. We need to be more charitable to our citizens than to foreign nationals who have no reason to want to be with us to deserve us throwing money at them. Would we see a report on this? Would our well paid investigative reporters take up this cause and do some research and analysis on the cost benefits of this programme?

myth 8

'Singaporeans are not creative.' First let me qualify this statement by saying that it is a generalisation and some section of Singaporeans can be very creative. I will prove that later. But overall we are not very creative. Just look at the shapes and colours of HDB estates will be enough to tell anyone that conformity is the key. One shape or thing that is deemed good or ok, just duplicate. Entering some HDB estates is like entering Legoland. Now this is little contradiction. Lego bricks are creative bits for children. Yeah, for children. But when adults are good at Lego bricks and build flats like Lego bricks, then can't be too creative in that. Where then is Singaporean most creative. Numbers. Singaporeans are absolutely fantastic with numbers. They used numbers so creatively to explain things. From complicated and difficult to explain issues, all these can be reduced to a few simple numbers and appear to be reasonable. Let's look at the accusation we heard everywhere that govt salaries are too high. How can it be when it is reduced to say a few plates of kway teow? Looks so cheap isn't it? And this can be further reduced to say 10c per citizen per day. Now that will make it even cheaper. Definitely affordable by everyone. Even a school children can set aside 10c a day for a good govt. Why didn't other countries think of using this formula? They can't. In third world countries, their leaders are mostly gangsters or unschooled soldiers. So not much grey matter to think of such clever ideas. Why not America? But America is run by a president that would probably be in the normal stream of our education system. Can't expect miracles from him either. If only the American president could persuade his people to pay him 10c per person daily, that's $36.50 a year multiply by 260 million population...wow, it is in billions! No need to covet the oil in the middle east. If this is not creative what else can be? So Singaporeans are not creative is a myth.

6/08/2006

myth 7

One of the most talk about myth is perhaps this, Myth 7. 'Corruption is rampant.' Many have talked about corruption in Singapore either openly or in their whispers. They said you can feel it, or scratch it a little and all the ugliness of corruption will surface. Some political parties and individuals have also been attacking the govt on corruption. Unfortunately, all these are just accusations and wild accusations. So far none has been proven. Now there is a world of difference between accusation and proving it. Unless proven, one is innocent. Then take the case of NKF. Where is the corruption. No, there is no corruption. And that is why the authority finds it so difficult to pin a charge that can stick. The charges that finally came were more in the line of negligence, not doing due diligence, poor management judgement or oversight, or errorneous practices. It is lucky that these charges can be framed. If not, maybe they will have to look at over claiming bus fares or taking paper clips for personal uses. Then there is the infamous website against a minister. If the evidences are all there, as claimed, why didn't they take it to court? Our justice system is world best and manned by men of unquestionable honesty and integrity. Sue whoever for whatever wrong doings. Let the impartial court of justice decides. But they could not or dare not. They have to post the site from overseas and it becomes a rumour mongering machine. We are first world and must deal with issues like the first world. Facts, evidences, proofs, courts of laws, justice etc are what matters. If one cannot prove it, then it is all gossips and rumours and libellious allegations. Why are facts so unbeliever than fictions? This Myth 7 is one of the greatest Singapore myth.

6/07/2006

myth 6

'People who voted for the opposition will be penalised.' The evidence so far is that no one has ever been penalised for voting against the PAP. And also everyone, from the govt to the opposition, is saying that the vote is secret. Well, it seems that this myth is advantageous to some and disadvantageous to others.

Telling the truth like they never did before.

Lately I can sense a shift in the way truth is being generated in the media. Our local press are now churning a different kind of truth from the west after a series of rubbish from the Robert Kagan type. Today there is a shift, a paradigm shift of a sort, from Tom Plate, who once used to churn up Kagan type of craps. He wrote a piece in the Straits Times looking at the American hang up over an emerging China. He was equally appalled and astonished that the Americans did not know why the Chinese have a need to beef up their military capabilities while the Americans kept on 'warning regularly, through periodic reports and episodic statements, about its(China) relentless ferocity.' And he pointedly say it in no simpler terms why the Chinese need to build up. "What precise theory of exceptionalism would allow the US to forge ahead militarily, spending far more of its national treasure on arms both proportionately and aggregately than other countries, but would also forbid other nations from doing the same?....Is it that it is okay for the US to possess a vast stockpile of weapons but it is not okay that others have them, precisely because the US would never use them but the others might?...Guess which superpower has consistently refused to offer the world a 'no first use' policy?( ie first to use nuclear weapons)" His final statement, a simple advice to the American leaders, is "If we want others to build down their forces, then we have to downsize ours too so that we can then righteously insist that others follow our lead." He should have asked the Americans to revisit the SALTs they had with the Soviet Union in the 60s and 70s, and the underlying principle behind the SALT talks.

defiance in cyberspace

What was not said. What was not heard. The loud applause and chest thumping. Yes, there was an open defiance of the authority during the election. Podcast and video streaming were banned. But they continued to cast and stream, with not regard to the ban. Bloggers were told to register. But none did. Though MICA's late statement that only those who were told to register only need to register, I doubt any blogger did. This is quite a challenge in cyberspace against the authority. Taken in the wrong light and under different circumstances, woe will befall those who dare to disobey, to ignore the law. Now the govt's position has soften. It is a triumph of a sort. The cyber citizens have defended their ground well. They have protected their right to freedom of expression in cyberspace. A freedom that rightly belong to every human in every corner of the world. Well done bloggers, forumers and podcasters and videostreamers.

da vinci code. a follow up discussion

Below is a follow up to the above discussion posted in redbeanforum. Unless it is such an excellent lie that the average guy could not see truth from fiction, the censors should let it pass. As both of you agree, there is so much hogwash, so much fiction that people cannot mistaken it, then the human race will be hopeless if we fear that our children cannot see it that way too, and believe it to be truth. If we do not expose thrash to our children, how would they know what is thrash? If we do not think our children are well brought up to be able to discern truth from falsehood, then the whole education system and ourselves as parents have failed miserably. Then we do not deserve the honour to bring up our children. But the book or movie itself, I will treat it as a very good piece of entertainment. And it forces people to take notice of things, to be curious and to want to know more. The other day there was a documentary on Opus Dei. And they admitted that there was a rising awareness of what Opus Dei is all about and a lot of interest to want to know more. And I think it also affects various aspects of the faith and believers were forced to read up more to clear their doubts. On this ground alone, the book and movie have done a great service to broaden the knowledge of people who are interested in the subject.

myth 4 and 5

Myth 4: We are better than our neighbours. Contributed by Darth Revan. Myth 5 Fortune cookies can win elections. The SDA tried it this time. And they got Potong Pasir but not the rest. Again, it is the half full or half empty theory. Those who believe in it will say it works. Those who don't will say it doesn't. Some may say fortune cookies not attractive enough as an inducement. Upgrade it to say a sweat band. Anyway sweat band serves a purpose as opposition candidates are made to sweat a lot. Or better still, have a party quartz watch with party logo on it as a souvenir or collectible. It is quite cheap to produce and can charge with a little profit as well. Along this line of thinking, many things can be given away without falling into the bribery trap. Next election will be souvenir galore time.

6/06/2006

animals can be greedy too

Just a little distraction on a weekend and a visit to the zoo. I was very impressed with the tigers and how friendly they appeared. They walked in an elegant poise, well groomed, and looked so dignified. And the animal keeper was there in the same cage, cuddling them while keeping a close watch. I asked him whether the tigers will bite. He said no. They are very well fed. Tigers that are full, like all animals, will be happy animals. I ponder a while. But I have read in the news that animal keepers were sometimes attacked by the animals. He thought for a while and volunteered an answer. It is true, that sometimes their animal instinct took the better of them. And sometimes the keeper may think they have fed the tigers well. But some tigers are greedy or need to eat more. So sometimes these things do happen. Animals will always be animals. You do not know when they have enough or misbehave.

myth 3

Hougang and Potong Pasir are the two strongholds of opposition parties. And the residents there are staunch supporters of the opposition or are anti PAP. The truth is that they are all strong supporters of the PAP. They voted for the opposition just to have an opposition voice in Parliament. Just look at the queues for the abalone and sharks fin porridge will tell the true story. If they are anti PAP they will not attend PAP functions. The people have principles. What a myth!

6/05/2006

no kidding

I find this very interesting. It is reported in the paper that MICA is disputing IHT's comment that PAP is losing popularity because of the 66.6% votes. On the other hand PAP is claiming that it is the best result since 1980, except for the election after 911. Who is right? It is like a glass half full and half empty. Both parties arguing their position vehemently. One insisting that it is half empty and the other refusing to concede and claimed that it is half full. Does it really matter as the election is all over. And whether it is gaining more popularity or losing popularity, only the next election will tell. At best it is like the guy staring at the mirror and proclaiming himself that he is so good looking. And he is very happy by believing it to be so. Don't laugh. The is serious matter.

the price of justice

Thomas Koshy wrote an article on how expensive our legal system is when one has to pay through his nose to the lawyers for his innocence. The legal fee is now so high that one actually has to pay or be held at ransom when dragged to court, rightly or wrongly. Many of the innocent poor, or those who cannot afford the high legal fee, could take the easy way out, plead guilty and suffer a lesser consequence then be cleared of the charges and be bankrupted in the process. Is this what justice meant to the average person in this first world country? Anyone with the money to spare can drag another person to court and break him if the victim has no money to find a good lawyer, or to break his bank even if he has some money to do so. And with enough financial muscles, the legal case can drag on and on with appeals after appeals, and the poor bugger will become poorer and poorer by each court sitting. Then there is the possibility of being prosecuted by the law. Now this one is even worst. No chances of claiming for damages against the state prosecutor. Only hope is to be found innocent, after emptying one's pocket. Against a private law suit, the accused can still sought compensation and damages from the plaintiff if he won the case. But when the charges are made by the state, there is no such thing as compensation for the cost or for the wrongful charges, or the agony and harrowing experience of being charged, or even put under detention. Poor chaps would have to live by this expensive justice system and choose between being broke financially or being broken by it. With money, one can do a lot of wonders, to right a wrong or to buy a wrong.

the myth

I am going to start this new thread and see how long it can run by looking at all the myths in our little island. I will also be considering another serial-like thread on the legendary figures too. This latter thread will be on the supernatural power of our super talents, that we have plenty to boast, and their extraordinary pursuits and achievements. Let me first start with this mythical thread and forumers shall also feel free to add in their own myths here. These are book material. Myth 1. I heard this before, many times, and many of you too. I just heard it over the weekend. It goes like this. Singaporeans can vote for the opposition, but must not change the govt. Changing the govt will bring disasters to Singapore. How is that? The opposition is assumed to be men of lower calibre and abilities. And their objectives is to bring instability to the country and to destroy it. Of course, because of their lesser abilities, they will not be able to run the country. And all the foreign investors will be so frighten that they will pack up their investments and run. All foreign investors love our one party system and also think that Singapore cannot have a multi party system. Singapore can only continue to exist under the able leadership of the ruling party, comprising able men of high integrity, honesty and incorruptibility. No other party, now or in the future, can ever produce the same kind of quality people the ruling party is producing. Associated with this Myth 1 is Myth 2. Myth 2 proclaimed that a one party govt, better still, a 100% one party govt is the best kind of govt, at least for Singapore. Having oppositions in Parliament is bad. The Singapore govt will function at its best without any opposition members. Singaporeans should put all their faith and trust in one political party, which is infallible forever. And this myth, oops, this truism has been proven over the years and will not fail.

6/04/2006

a new singapore icon - the holy trinity

The Sunday Times wrote about the latest achitectural monument in town, the Sands IR. From the achitectural perspective, some love it, some loath it. I love it. I find it very majestic and has a unique presence. A very enormous and distinctive piece of structure. And the geomancers have their say too. The three tall buildings resemble three joss sticks. The roof garden represents a cap on its growth, or the flatness appears like a knife slicing through the sky. Any building taller than this blade will be cut down. Or it resembles a piece of flyover disconnected from both ends. And the pool on top is like a building drown in water. All very imaginative and creative. Let me offer a very Singaporean interpretation. The three pillars symbolise the tripartite system of Government, Labour and Employer. How's that? And the roof top? Oh because of the sensitivity of the Govt and the people, the casino will be allowed to make handsome profits. But this will be kept at certain level and not allow to runaway uncontrolled. And there is this lotus structure which looks like the buddha's palm. This means that the IR will be expected to donate a lot of its profits to charity. And one final one. The lower buildings appears to be covered by a number of large tarpaulins. Hmmm, plenty of things to cover up. It is very easy to let wild your imiginations and put in your two cents worth. Whatever, it is a nice icon for a world class city state. And now we can tell the world of our extremely successful tripartite system that is the key foundation of a peaceful labour and industrial environment, a formula for growth.

helping third world countries

Corruption is a dirty word used in whatever context. Even mentioning it will draw ire from those who think it is meant for their ears. Corruption generally happens in third world countries or badly managed countries. When we are talking to third world countries, or trying to advise them on how to beat the plague of corruption in their countries, it may be better if the word corruption is not mentioned. We may talk to them about how to cap the income of their civil servants. Everyone works, in whatever capacity, to make a living. All the civil servants in the third world countries is no exception. They also have the same aspiration and motivation of developed countries' civil servants. And they want to earn more to live a better life. But they find it very difficult to raise their official salaries and thus have to resort to other modes of income, officially or unofficially, legally or illegally. It is a case of lack of ingenuity to justify how to pay themselves well. Basically all they need to do is to cap corruption among their civil servants to an acceptable level and make it legal and transparent. After that, put them on a firing squad if they resort to corruption again. It is a carrot and stick solution, and important to make it transparent and understood. The only headache is to determine their appetite.

staying together, moving ahead

During the election the PAP's stand is 'Staying together, moving ahead.' After the election, PAP won the votes of 66.6% of the voters. The election cries and campaigning are over and everyone has gone back towork. The 33.4% who voted for the PAP have also accepted the PAP as the ruling party and govt. The people have come together and set aside the politikings for another 5 years. It is time to remember the election calls and campaign and promises. Will 'Staying together, Moving ahead' means something to all the people regardless of political inclination or affiliation? Hsien Loong has also made his speech that it is time to close ranks and to look after everyone, those who voted for the PAP and those who voted for the oppositions. This is what PAP promised, though not sure if the inclusiveness includes those who voted for the opposition. No more divisive politics and no more 'vote for me and get upgrading,' or vote against me no upgrading? Can the people now be assured that there will be upgradings when needed regardless of constituencies and the MPs? We shall now wait and see how theelection pledge is being carried out.

poor sitoh and eric, a little consolation

Poor Sitoh and Eric After the postmortem the PAP has concluded that all that they had done in Hougang and Potong Pasir will not work. And poor Sitoh and Eric had sweated for 4 long years, pulling every trick out of thier bags and still failed. You cannot blame them for being dejected and a sense of helplessness. Green and fresh faces appeared, come and go into Parliament. Some walking in without having to say a word practically, walkover. And these two workhorses, smelt of sweat, hands callous through preparing and serving porridges, could only resigned to their corners, embarassed and empty handed. It is not an easy feeling to know that they are heading to a dead end while others could waltz into Parliament effortlessly. It is only proper that they be rewarded with a GRC seat in the next election. For sheer effort, they deserve a seat in Parliament provided by the PAP through train.

6/03/2006

a little warmth, a little kindness, a little hope

Last Sat's article on the plight of the disadvantaged youth and families must have dealt quite an emotional blow to many readers and the elicited many to write to the ST forums for more help for these children at the fringe of society. We have a $500 million Comcare. Good. But how is this administered? I am not saying that this is badly administered. I only hope that the fund is not there to make sure that the poor can have just enough to eat and tie over for the next few days or months. Our govt can do more. There are enough money and resources to do that little more to make the lives of these children at the fringe that more bearable. A little warmth, a little kindness, and a little hope. A Margaret Louis asked, 'What are we going to do about poverty problem?' It is not simply giving them some food and financial assistance. Another forumers suggested a surrogate family system for the better off children pairing off with the less fortunate. The idea along this kind of thinking means taking this problem a step further. More thoughts can be put into it to offer these kids what children of a normal family would enjoy. The simple joy of parents being around, a little birthday present, a small little treat of having dinner at a foodcourt or an outing. Some of these dysfunctional families would never experience such simple joy of a normal family. More can be done to give some meaning to these pathetic children and families.

Post election survery, Bread and Butter not main concern?

The survey by the Institute of Policy Studies(IPS) pointedly claimed that bread and butter issues were 'not the main concern' of voters. I tend to look at the findings from the context that it was done immediately after the general election and what were important to the voters during the election were freshly imprinted in their minds. And their current mindset and preoccupation would greatly influence the results of the survey. Bread and butter issues will always be important. But during the hustings, the issues of fairness and a good govt became very important. The people saw the need for an alternative voice as more urgent when unfairness was perceived. There was a feeling of an uneven playing field. And the way the ruling party dealt with the opposition, the upgrading etc called for a greater demand for checks and balances in Parliament. The survey clearly pointed to the real concern of the voters. They want more checks and balances to ensure that there is fairness in govt policies. They want different views in Parliament when they felt all these were threatened. Upgrading becomes a non issue as the survey showed. The billions of dollars being waved and offered were of lesser significance. Perhaps, on hindsight, the money set aside for upgrading should be reviewed and cut down and used for some other better purposes.

6/02/2006

how to live with such a nightmare?

I am not sure how many of you are following the murder of the two SAF scholars by another SAF scholar in Sydney. But I cannot help but feel so outraged and painful over the way the two promising young man were battered to their violent death. I may have prematurely made a judgement on the accused. But all the facts and evidences put up so far have already told a story of guilt. And the brutality of it all, in contrast to the image of civility, honesty and innocence of the accused is just too much to bear. And to read the paper today, describing how cruel the murderer was and how he bashed at the poor victims repeatedly, and how the murderer's father patted him on the head and said, 'Don't worry, God bless you, my son,' make a mockery of all things good and righteous. I would like to be proven wrong, and that Ram Tiwary is innocent and had nothing to do with the brutal murder of his two room mates. And should he be found guilty, let there be no mercy to such a vicious person who caused to much pain and grief to his victims and their families. And he sat there in the dock, a face of an angel, without any remorse...for the two dead men whom he knew and were his friends, and their parents and grieving wives.

your obedient servant

below is a response that i posted in redbeanforum to a letter by a Damasao that overseas voting by Singaporeans was unfair. Actually the accusation by Damasao, I am not sure if he is a Singaporean, is that the system was unfair and favoured the ruling party. This is a serious allegation. He is implying that our civil servants are somehow in collusion with the govt and devised a procedure that will only allow pro PAP voters to vote. I think there is totally no basis to this unless he can prove it. Our civil servants are apolitical, impartial, honest and not beholden to anyone. They will dutifully serve whichever party that comes to power and form the next govt. And they will do their part as any obedient civil servants will do. I still remember they used to sign off as 'Your humble servant' or 'Your obedient servant' in their letters not too long ago.

why are we fed with american craps?

Another piece of crap which our local paper, this time Today, think it is worth publishing from New York Times. The article by David Brooks, dunno who he is, was all praised for Rice Condoleeza as if she had made the biggest discovery of the century. It titles, 'The US is Back in Business. At one fell swoop, Iran is left floundering.' Now what have Rice done to deserve such a flattering glorification. Actually she only said that she was prepared to talk to Tehran. And this after all the threats of nuking Iran or applying sanction. So it is a grand plan, a big success. Why? Oh, according to Brooks, Tehran was gaining and trampling around the world in total disregard of the US threat. Now the US said it wants to talk to Tehran, so Tehran is now fumbling and on the defensive. What rubbish! And as expected, Tehran flatlyannounced that it refused to talk to the US. Now what of the grand plan? In reality, Tehran has been gaining support foom many corners of the world for its right to build a nuclear plant for non military purposes. The oil producing countries have endorsed it. And a few days back the Non Aligned Movement has also supported this stand. Both threw the US threat and objection to Tehran's nuclear ambition into the rubbish bin. The US has been ignored by countries of these two movements. The US is now on the defensive, unable to find support to nuke Iran. Now it has to fall back to talks and to the UN, an organisation it has held in contempt and total disrespect since the Iraq invasion. The US is now all alone against Iran. Now what's so great about Rice offering to talk when the Iranians are ignoring her and the US?

6/01/2006

mine is bigger than yours

Singapore is planning to build the observation wheel (something like ferris wheel) named Singapore Flyer. The Singapore Flyer is targeted to operate before CNY 2008. Based on wiki, it is 150m in diameter, and 178m high. Beijing also made the same decision, but bigger. The target is before 2008 Olympics. It is 198m in diameter, and high 208m high. Several other countries are in this competition too. Anyway, it is apparently the Asia comes to an era to worship technology, to break engineering world record, and build even more magnificent man-made landmarks in the globe. But, remember one thing, the western did this years ago, and they are happy to participate these prosperous projects. The above article is posted in One Season in Singapore. It may not be an article directly linked to cost of living. But in a way it has some relations to it. The article points to how third world countries and mentality will keep pushing them to spend on things which can glorify and cover up their incompetence to make advances in tangible technological projects and developments. So something like the biggest this and the biggest that will do. And they employed the Angmohs, sorry I am not being xenophobic here, who willingly recommend to them all the great advances in the western world. And they all laugh happily to the banks. Third world nations have this ability and propensity to spend on self glorification and to imitate the west. The west have their football leagues and third world nations will want that too. They won the world cup. Third world nation also want to win the world cup at all cost. They climb Mt Everest, cross the Antartic, third world people also want to do the same. They have the technology to flirt in space. Third world nations who can't even build a car wanted to send men to space too. What else?

it's alright to poke funs at opposition politicians

There were some talks and indications as to what MICA and Boonyang would do to the issue of citizen reporting and the internet. So far the signals and signs are that there will be some control but will be a 'light touch.' The ministry will handle the challenge posed by citizen reporting sensitively, to allow the reporting to continue but with some measures of control wothout having to kill the baby. There seems to be an acknowledgement that it is futile and damaging to use the iron hand approach to slam the door shut. Engagement seems to be the favoured choice, at least for the time being. Miyagi and Mr Brown when interviewed, have both expressed the danger of taking too tough a measure which would lead to a confrontation in cyberspace. Now we shall wait and see how much will come down. Though all the noises is about a light touch, no one really knows what this means. It could also have the same meaning as the word 'affordable.' This can mean different thing to different people. So is a light touch. Another probability, it seems, is that the concern is more during the election period and any restriction could be in the next election. But inciting racial and religious hatred will always be monitored. That is understandable. Also, it is alright to laugh at opposition candidates and make joke of them in the net. This should be the way, relax, a little Bohemian spirit. Laugh at ourselves. But not on national leaders as the latter will undermine their respect and authority.

badawi fight a lone battle

Badawi is facing his most serious crisis ever since he became PM. The police has openly challenged his authority and is threatening to mutiny should he go ahead with the setting up of an independent board to investigate police abuses. For the police to take such a position there is more than meet the eyes. Looks like the police has a mountain to lean on and setting the agenda for them. Badawi now must call on all his cabinet members and UMNO to be behind him if he is to fend off this challenge. But would he get the support he needed? Most of the senior UMNO politicians, including ministers, are too wise as politicians and their main concern is to save their own skin. Once they read that Badawi may fall, it is likely that they will adopt an ambiguous stand, ready to change side. This is perhaps the greatest mistake of Badawi for not removing the disloyal ministers and retaining them in his cabinet. Would there be anyone who will stand up bravely to be on his side? Maybe not. Badawi must now count his men, who is with him and who is not. And maybe he will have to count on the dark horse to fight on his side. Someone who is able enough and strong enough to take on such a formidable force. Badawi is too gentleman a politician to go down and fight claws and nails. The opponents will be fierce and dirty in this fight and Badawi will lose if he keeps on the front of a gentleman. He now needs fighters who will fight the battle for him. No one except Anwar will be able to measure up in this crisis. No one except Anwar will have a strong enough reason to want to be on Badawi's side. Anwar may be presented with an opportunity to make or break. The others, the fair weather politicians, will be on the sideline, watching. A few may stand behind Badawi, but not enough stature to land a strong voice. Rafidah may be a possible and strong ally. She is the type of politicians that will take sides and fight for her boss. Will we see a return of Anwar as the shining knight to save Badawi?