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8/31/2006

Robotics is the way to go.

Robotics is the way to go. There is no need for so many foreigners to make up the 8 million. Think robotics. Many ministries and stats boards need only be manned by robots. Many of them have so perfect rules and procedures that they can run without human interferences. Even problems and questions by the public can be answered by answering machines or FAQs in the websites. By replacing them with robots, the existing manpower can be reallocated to areas where they need humans to manage. Organisations or departments where thinking humans are required, where flexibility and exceptions are needed in the daily decision making process. Among the ministries and stats boards that can be completely manned by robots will be CPF, Income Tax, PUBs, LTA, BCA, HDB etc And robots can be programmed to smile as well.

the sun will rise from the east!

Today Chok Tong said tomorrow the sun will rise from the East, or something like that. What he actually said was that with globalisation, the income gap between the rich and poor will continue to widen. Anyone does not know or have not heard this statement of unquestionable and irreversible truth? Is this going to be a fact that the poor/govt must accept? Or are conditions gravitating towards the pre revolutionary days when the only way out for the poor is the destruction of the existing system, to start all over again, a revolution? An uncontrolled capitalist and free market system will move in this direction, up to a point when the division is so stark that only a confrontation of the two extremes will level the playing field. It is natural that the rich will want to be richer. And if they are some crumbs to be thrown around, some will. The other truths are greed and selfishness. Nobody will complain that they have too much money. And Chok Tong then posed the question of how to distribute the wealth of the nation to the poorer segment of the population. There is no need for supertalents to make super money using public fund and the authority of the state and state mechanism. Any idiot can do that. The real test comes when they have to uplift the less able people, a large group of people at the bottom rung of society. How to return some wealth to these less endowed and less fortunate people, the lazy and lost ones? It is time the supertalents use their talents that were paid by super salaries to tackle this enormous problems and justify their existence. An easier solution is to let this lot die naturally, or fade away, their problems contained and unseen. Unfortunately, this lot is like the lallangs. They will keep returning to be trampled. The waste lands will always be covered with lallangs unless big effort and resources are applied to keep them away. Landscaping caused money. Making the poor look less miserable needs a lot of money and attention.

8/30/2006

myth 58

'We frown on Quitters!' This statement has become a joke. Or is it? We were so unkind to Singaporeans who quit and left for foreign shores. Today, we are praising all the quitters of foreign shores and welcoming them here with open arms. We want to make non Singaporean quitters feel that they are a highly desirable commodity and we will go all out to make it easier for them to be here. Double speak, double talk, forked tongue? Heads I win, tail you lose. Quitters are no longer frowned. Quitters are good and precious.

should we invest in the southern johore econ zone?

The Southern Johore Economic Zone is going to take off. Now we are seeing the two trade ministers talking about cooperation and developing the concept. How about Khairy's talk of the SJEZ purpose of making Singapore begging Malaysia if it is a success? Shouldn't Singapore stay out of this project if that is the purpose? Time to talk sense and do business instead of politiking for personal interest and stirring up inter state rivalry and emotions.

cpf my money!

The people's right to their CPF money must be revisited everyday to remind the authority that it is the people's money and not the govt's money. Wonder what the IMF would have to say if they know about such things? Oh, perhaps we should privatise the CPF to make it more efficient and effective in managing the people's money. At the moment it is so happy just to hoard the people's money, paying minimal interest rate and even charging administrative fee for withdrawal to pay medical bills. The CPF board should start cracking its head on how to get the best insurance policy for old age and return the bulk of the money to the people instead of thinking of increasing the amount of money retained by the board.

8/29/2006

anti missile shield for singapore

This is the headline by a Defence Correspondence, David Boey, in the Straits Times today. The main point in the article is that it is prudent for Singapore to have anti missile shield now that it is within the range of ballistic missiles from North Korea, China, Russia and the USA. Now let me see, does any of these nations has a reason to shoot missiles at us? North Korea does not even know that we exist. China is our good friend and has publicly stated that it will not be the first to use nuclear weapons on any country. Presumably firing an ICBM and to be cost effective, it must have a nuclear warhead and not 20 kilo of TNT. Russia, well, think it will be too busy with Eastern Europe. The USA? Our closest allies, but could be a threat if they decided to leave us out in the cold when they found a more valuable friend. It has all the capabilities and has been threatening everyone they don't like with pre emptive nuclear threat. So shall we buy an anti missile shield from the US to defend against American missiles flying at us? And if they do so, I don't think any anti missile system can hold them back. What about the others, including potential new enemies from the Middle East? Now, why would we have enemies who would find us so naugthy of deserving a missile strike? Possible, if we keep perching on top of our HDB flat and show our two fingers to people we have nothing to do with or showing them monkey faces. I would think it is more prudent to take a low profile, be friends to everyone, and use the money to build a few more IRs. PS: In the case of Malaysia, by the time the missile is airborne it will be in Indonesia.

taxi woes and passenger woes

Siew Kum Hong raised the issue that in the forthcoming review of public transport systems, the taxis are being left out? Is it because the system is working efficiently and nothing else needs to be done? Or the people on the right side think that everything is right while the people on the wrong side think that everything is wrong? And while one side thinks that many things ought to be done, the other thinks otherwise? We have heard many complains and the woes of the taxi drivers and passengers. One complaining not enough passengers and the other not enough taxis. The only people not complaining are the taxi companies. I was waiting at the roadside last sat morning, before 6am, for my golf kaki to pick me up. Were there any taxis at that hour? During that 15 minutes while I was there, with my golf bags on the roadside, there were at least 20 taxis hovering and hopping that I wave my hand. All of them were empty. They were so hungry for passengers. And can't complain that they were lazy, waking up so early in the morning to drive their cabs. What is wrong? Those who can afford it will have their own private cars. Those who don't have private cars cannot afford the taxi fares. That is the problem. Very fundamental problems. Now who is hooting that our taxi fares are cheap compare to other big cities and should actually double it so that the taxi drivers could double their income? Insanity!

8/28/2006

myth 57

'Open door to welcome new talented citizens' I thought this was for real. But after thinking about it a little deeper, it is clear that it is a message for Singaporeans to wake up, a wake up call. For if they don't, then they must be prepared to face another few million foreigners to replace them. And this is where the myth lies. Look at it this way, without any incentives or promotions, there are already a few millions queuing to be our citizens. These are the hairdressers, the waiters and waitresses, the masseurs, the talented construction workers, the environment specialists etc. To these people, there is no incentive needed. Just open the door and say welcome, and we will have 3 millions signing up. Of course these are not the talents that we want right? Other than the special attributes that are needed for masseurs, the rest of the jobs can be done by our very own Dad's army. Ok, construction workers is another issue. And the highly talented foreign talents will see no need to be citizens of any country. They are welcome anywhere they wish to go. So thinking of attracting this group is a fallacy. What about the in between, the not so talented talents, mostly PRs? Would this group be interested in becoming citizens? Why should they when they are so happy just being PRs? There are no real benefits in becoming citizens than what they are enjoying now. And worst, they are likely to be worst off after becoming citizens. If the govt is serious, it is only expected that they will make becoming citizens so attractive that all the PRs would also want to change their status. So, is this welcoming more citizens thing a myth?

soliciting for new citizens

Cheng Yoke Wah, a column writer for Today, has been here for 20 years. She married her husband who is also a PR. But when the question was raised, why not citizenship, it becomes a different matter. Her reasons, as she penned in the Today paper, is a matter of heart. Singapore is an adopted country, adopted parents, and her home country is where her biological parents are. In her view, it smacks of being ungrateful to disown her own parents by becoming a true blue child of the adopted parents. But she is loyal to Singapore. She sang the Singapore anthem with gusto and sincerity. Or is it a mixed up sense of being grateful to Singapore for giving her a good life, a fair and equal opportunity to live well and with respect? It is understandable that people have feelings. The bonds of the home, the memories of childhood and the familiar surroundings where one grew up are important bits and pieces of our emotional ties. To severe this link by taking up a new citizenship, is a big pyschological decision to make. There will be many who will instantly trade in their passports for our red passports when they compare what they could be as from what it would be. As we move pass this group, there will be many who will take the plunge for less desirable reasons. We should not buy citizenship. We should not prostitute ourselves to anyone. We should go all out to buy PRs and talents. Citizenship is still a valid concept today and has more intrinsic and psychological values than just a piece of paper or a red passport. Many who are from the more developed and established nations will not want to part with their citizenships for ours. Many will temporary part with their less desirable citizenships for ours and planning to swop it for even more desirable citizenships. What's wrong with the current policy of having PRs, WPs and EPs? If numbers is what we want, these schemes will continue to provide us the numbers when we want it and to cut down when we do not want them. We have the best of both worlds. To consciously push for citizenship may not be the solution even to hope for more NS men. More of the undesirable or uncommitted could be more dangerous than having less. We can get the numbers through the present array of employment passes and PRs. Many of the talented are highly mobile and are happy just to be PRs and live in any where of their own choosing. We need not rush headon into something that can have a lot of adverse consequences in the future, by taking in everyone willing. The wider the door is thrown open, the higher the possibilities of inviting more trouble.

8/27/2006

myth 56

'Encouraging lateral thinking: Mee siam mai hum.' Another myth? I am not referring to mee siam mai hum but the progress of imbuing Singaporeans to think laterally. Singaporeans were told to think out of the box and not to look at things at face value. In anything, there is always the positive side to it if one bothers to dig it out. Many Singaporeans had a good laugh at the mee siam mai hum anecdote. Some stretched it further towards the negative. Look at it another way, this simple phrase has set many thinking. Why can't mee siam have hum? Or why can't hum be added to mee siam, maybe create a new recipe from adding hum. Better still, a completely new dish. After the laughter has subsided, it is time to sit back and see what can be gained from this new insight, mee siam mai hum. Citizenship mai National Service, PRs mai citizenship, want the privileges of a citizen but mai responsibilities. Or chenghu mai opposition, opposition voice mai opposition candidates and parties...or have a new concept of a piece of land for all the talents mai citizenship. No citizenship is needed. All are equal and the more talented the more equal. How about a little dosage of lateral thinking and think out of the box? Did Hsien Loong set the nation thinking? or at least the cyberspace thinking?

foreign talents, balancing perks and privileges

The policy for foreign talent is as good as being cast in stone. Not that it is a bad policy per se. People are disagreeing with how it is being done, how far it is being carried out and undermining the interest or privileges of Singaporeans. I would just try to discuss on two points. Cost of living and privileges of being citizens versus PRs and the rest. The two points are interrelated and may overlap in many areas. While we welcome the new citizens with more attractive perks, and as their number grows and become a significant factor in all our activities, it may be opportune to factor in the difference between being citizens and PRs to favour citizens. Essential services like education, medical, transportations can be fine tuned to a point where citizens pay lesser than PRs. The difference may not be too big to become a disincentives but enough to make citizenship more respectable, valuable and attractive. As an example, the cost to PRs and the rest could be 10 or 20% higher than a citizen. If becoming a citizen marks the end of the honeymoon or romance as in a marriage, when the sweetness and fairy tale of courtship are transformed into more responsibilites, it becomes questionable for logical and rational people to want to become citizens. Being PRs is that much more interesting and attractive. Or like living together and having all the funs and not getting hitch and share the chores. The privileges of citizenship with respect to housing subsidies, taxation, even preference for employment in the govt sector can be modify to make citizenship a more desirable status than just being PRs. And when all the privileges of citizenship are cumulated, and found to be worth the while to compensate for the responsibilities and liabilities to serve national service, a life long commitment and sacrifice, taking up citizenship may make more sense for the PRS and at the same time sooth the people's anger.

a need for alternative views in cyberspace

The MSM is flooded with articles by any living reporters and journalists on the foreign talent issue as if they are singing in chorus to the wave of an imagery baton. All singing the same song, complimenting every point. No one is out of tune. Now is this classical, pop or jazz? Anyone hoping to hear rock or country and western will be disappointed. I tried scanning every piece of article hoping to fish out some alternative views or some disagreement with the policy, but as expected could not find any. They said wise men all think alike. This only leave the cyberspace for views that are contrary to conventional or official thinking. The trend of development for MSM and cyberspace is very natural, one adopting the views of the power that be and the other pulling away to express alternative views which associated with the disgruntles. The question that is left to be answered is whether the MSM can present a balance view or whether there is a place for alternative views in cyberspace? I think, after reading all the MSM reports on the foreign talent issue, the answer is pretty clear.

8/26/2006

what george bush and prince charles have in common

In an article written by David G Myers fo the Straits Times Myers described Bush as a leader that made decisions, especially foreign policy decisions, based on his gut feel. He quoted Bush as saying, 'I know there's no evidence that shows the death penalty has a deterrent effect, but I just feel in my gut it must be true.' Very much like he got this gut feel that Saddam Hussein must have WMD and he launched a war in Iraq. Bush was also quoted to have told Larry King in an interview: "If you make decisions based upon what you believe in our heart of hearts, you stayed resolved.' The other leader of compatible leadership quality and wisdom is none other than Prince Charles of the British throne. This was what Charles said, 'Buried deep within each and everyone of us, there is an instinctive, heartfelt awareness that provides - if we allow it to - the most reliable guide.

we have decided. this is the way to go

This issue of throwing the door wide open to welcome foreigners as citizens is a case where people can agree or disagree with the govt's policy. The govt has made its calculations based on its own premises of what is good for Singapore. No doubt that the govt has done its homework and think that this is the only right way to go forward. And looking at how the main stream media jumps into it so quickly to support the policy wholesale, one begins to doubt the sincerity of the MSM in this issue. Are they just towing the official line or they really believe in it? But this is besides the point. The MSM has its right to believe and throw its weight behind any issue. What is interesting to note are the voices that disagree with this policy. Hopefully disagreeing with it or criticising it is not seen as anti govt or undermining the govt's policy. This is applicable to many issues. The people agree with many govt policies but pick on some that they don't agree. Often this little divergence of views is looked at with great disapproval though the mantra today is that the govt agree that they did not have all the answers. We have seen many policies that have gone wrong but continue to be pursued relentlessly. And any opposing views are frown upon and viewed at unkindly. The concerned Singaporeans are also interested in the wellbeing of the country and people. And every Singaporean has a stake in this country and has a right to air their concern. The only difference is that they are not in power to decide to go for alternative options. Just because the govt is empowered to make decisions, does not mean that decisions are always right and good for the people. The people are seeing the issue differently and can be right and the govt wrong. And unfortunately for such a decision, and with everyone singing hallelujah for now, the disapproving views may be drown. But the consequences of such a decision will only surface in the long run and it will be too late to turn back the clock.

8/25/2006

let's recall the dad's army to serve the nation

Why do we need so many headcounts? Never heard of computerisation, mechanisation, multitasking, job redesign and restructuring? Also, if everyone is made to work until 80, we would have increase our productive population by a few hundred thousands, and with little development cost. With the stroke of the pen, retirement age at 80, we can put many people back into the job market

who is the biggest pirate of intellectual properties?

The champions of intellectual properties carry a big stick everywhere they go trying to catch the violaters and illegal operators. The pirate CD operators, the publishers of pirated copies of books etc. All will be booked when they are caught. But when you are big and appear to be doing a proper business, you can copy anything you want, stealing intellectual properties and selling them in the international market, and making billions in profits, and get away with it until you are caught. But because you have so much financial muscles, sometimes it is ok when caught, to threaten to counter sue the owner of the intellectual properties, then compromise and settle out of court with a minimal sum, and continues legally with the pirated material. Now after the settlement, it will not longer be stealing of intellectual properties. Who is the biggest pirate of intellectual properties?

living with truths or OB markers

Bloggers and forumers should stay away from trouble by staying within the OB markers. That is the cardinal rule. And Singaporeans accepted this as a right thing to do. Accept the OB markers without asking why. But what are OB markers? What about speaking the truths? Are truths offensive or threatening to OB markers? Should truth be not spoken if someone decides to put some OB markers around it? On the other hand humankind have been living with half truths or lies and be very happy with them because no one cares to put OB markers on them. Did Mr Brown got into trouble because he spoke half truths or because he crossed OB markers? If the case is one of half truths, would it be a civil way to tell the whole truths so that everyone is enlightened rather than to shut him up? What if he is telling the truths, maybe from his perspectives, and given the short article he could not clarify every detail, that they appear as half truths to others? And for that, or not for that, he was closed down because of OB markers? The issue is whether we should be living our lives with arbitrary OB markers imposed on us by demigods? There are obvious OB markers that everyone should avoid even if nobody says so. These are things that could cause social unrest or attacking people personally, libel etc. But if it is a case of politically correct or incorrect according to the OB marker maker, then it is a separate thing altogether. Not all OB markers are objective and good for the nation and people. Some may be good only for the OB marker maker.

Cyberspace and Main Stream Media

Cyberspace and Main Stream Media Mee siam mia hum made the day for bloggers and forumers which also becomes the envy of MSM journalists and reporters. Stories were spun, ringtones, jokes, poems, songs etc were added to make this simple phrase comes alive. Some were naughtly, some mischievious, but many were just poking fun for a little laugher. Everyone in cyberspace must have a say or a word on this. The poor MSM professionals must be biting their nails, wanting to have a go at it too, sharing their two cents worth. Both professional interest says otherwise. No, you can be indulging in such humour or graffitis. So they all sit back doodling on their keyboard wondering what to write. Now this is one aspect of cyberspace which MSM can never compete. Fortunately the new campaign on foreign talent kicks off and gives the MSM professionals something to talk about. Writing about the need for foreign talents and how this can benefit Singapore can never be wrong and is only politically correct. And whew, finally they got something to write about and keeps them busy. The cyberspace is also very active in this topic. But it is very clear that they both belong to different world and seeing the same issues in different perspectives. There is a very real reason why there is a need for cyberspace, just to tell a different story or looking at things from the real people. Can MSM compete with cyberspace when their coverage is limited to politically correct stuff or non political stuff?

8/24/2006

creative profit!!!

in the next reporting season creative technology will report an extraordinary gain of us$100 mil! where on earth got asian companies claiming against western giants like Apple and won this kind of damages without even fighting it out in a long legal battle? only creative can do this. and now it has another leg inside apple territory, given the right to produce accessories for ipod. so creative can produce for its zen range of mp3s and ipods. who is this sim wong hoo, the singapore wonderboy? local talent.

myth 55

'Our problem is not Singaporeans giving up citizenships. Our biggest problem is getting people to come here, to take up residence and eventually become citizens.' Wong Kan Seng Is this a myth or a statement of reality? For 41 years, we have been brewing this concoction called 'mee siam mai hum,' just kidding. We have been brewing this Singapore stew and are almost there. The people are starting to gel and singing one people one nation. Today, for some reasons, we are in a hurry to throw in more new ingredients into the stew in double quick time. Can we expect the stew to be the same? How can that be when the recipe is changed? It will take maybe another 40 years to see the result. But the immediate position is that the 41 year stew is not going to be served. It will have to start the whole process all over again, depending on how much new ingredient are thrown in and at how fast a pace. We are not afraid of Singaporeans giving up citizenships. We want to welcome more foreigners quickly by making things easier, more transparent and probably more attractive terms. Now where would all these leave the Singaporeans? The next question is whether the potential citizens will bite. They are not stupid. They too will look at how the govt treat the Singaporeans. For they too will become Singaporeans too. And if they think once they become Singaporeans, they will be treated in the same way, will they have second thoughts? Now they have the best of both worlds. Why would they want to become shit in a shit hole if becoming Singaporeans means they will be lesser off than be better off? Can there be a level playing field for Singaporeans to opt to become PR just like PRs opting to become citizens? Make it easier and just as attractive, a freedom of choice to go either way. Why is it that PRs have greater freedom and flexibility and citizens have more restrictions? Who is better off? Membership has its privileges. Or is it the other way round?

8/23/2006

welcoming foreign talents policy seems so right now

30 years ago we had the stop at 2 campaign. everyone was trumpeting how necessary it was to stop at 2. today we are paying the price for that decision. but mind you, it was the right thing to do then for they could not find enough jobs for a rapidly growing population then. today we are trumpeting this foreign talent campaign as if it is the only right thing to do despite our people crying for more decent paying jobs. will this be another big regret 30 years down the road? the british must be kicking their arses for freely allowing their colonial subjects to migrate to uk. otherwise they will not have, or will have lesser terrorist problems. such decisions are never a clear cut right or wrong solution. every solution will have its consequences. anyone dare to vouch that this is the correct thing to do? that is why i always call for moderation. the restructuring of the financial industry in the 90s had caused the loss of many high paying jobs when many in the industry were retrenched. is the financial industry really better off today? the banks appear to be doing well. but the stock market industry is like a big shining red apple on the outside, but rotten to the core and waiting to implode.

'preserve our rights to use our cpf'

I read the above title in the Today paper and find it amusing. There was a hot debate after Tan Keng Soon wrote an article suggesting to modify the CPF scheme and children should contribute to the CPF of their mothers. And now readers are not agreeable to this and wanted to have more control of their CPF savings. Now why is this so amusing? It is amusing because whatever CPF one has, it is well known and has already been factored into the big picture of the country. How much the people have in the CPF have been computed to make sure that they can afford to pay for HDB flats and medical cost. When people have more CPF money, property prices will be priced according to their affordability. Now that people have lesser money left in their CPF, HDB will build 2 room flats to meet their lower affordability ability. And when there are more in CPF, bigger flats will be built again. And today's paper headline has this cheerful report that Singaporeans can now afford to pay for their medical cost. These are also priced according to affordability. According to the report, if Singaporeans seek to be admitted into C and B2 wards, then they should be able to afford to pay for them through their Medisave. But the report forgot that admission into C and B2 wards is not a matter of personal choice but depended on the means testing. So much as Singaporeans may want to save some money by opting for C and B2 wards, they may not qualify and have to pay for more expensive wards because they could afford to. What does all these mean, ie affordability, is to see how much one has in the CPF and how much to price facilities and services to use up these CPF. Now the cry to preserve our right to use our CPF. Fat hope. Every organisation is thinking of how to use up your CPF. Their rights to use your CPF come first. By then they would not be much left. And the final condition, you don't have the right to decide when you can take out your cpf and how much to take out even after you retire.

myth 54

'SMRT is doing well and should not raise fare' I was in the train this morning and something caught my attention. First the thought that SMRT is going to raise its fare after making more than $100 million in profit. Should that be enough to cover for the higher fuel cost? Lets say fuel cost will add another $50 million to its operating cost, just a guesstimate, they will still make another $50 million, ceterus paribus. Then I look around the train carriage all over again. I just felt that something was not right. The two tv screens that were supposed to bring in advertising income were dead silent. The screens were blank, black and not powered on. One big source of income not coming in. What about the billboard advertising panels? There were at least 20 of them on both the inner sides of the train carriage. What? Only one panel has an advert! The rest were empty. This means there will be a drastic fall in advertising revenue. I only hope that it was only in one train carriage. But very likely it will affect the rest of the trains. And this will also mean that many businesses are not advertising, businesses not doing well, or cannot afford to advertise. Or maybe advertising in train is not rewarding. Make your guess.

myth 53

'Need to protect the safety of the World Bank/IMF delegates' As a host nation offering our facilities for the World Bank/IMF Conference here, it is our duty to provide the best facilities, the most hospital and friendly environment and to look after the safety of the delegates. And when we know of public demonstrations that are being planned, we fear for their safety. We must do whatever we can to protect them. Further, we don't allow public demonstration for our people and there is no reason to make an exception for our guests. What if our guests wanted the demonstrations to take place? What if our guests are not concerned with their safety or if they don't see any threat to their safety? What if our guests encourage demonstration as that will make them do a better job? What if our guests requested that the demonstrations be allowed to take place? No, we still need to protect their safety. So no public demonstrations allowed.

8/22/2006

year of the dog

There is a beautiful picture in the Straits Times today of the Suzhou Mayor presenting a picture of a dog to Kan Seng in praise of our contribution to the Suzhou Industrial Park, and to commemorate the Year of the Dog. It is an excellent and finely crafted silk weaving painting, a craft that the Chinese has perfected. A special and valuable gift as both men were born in the year of the dog.

we welcome the best of the best

I too am worried after reading the responses to the call for more foreigners. Without teaching history, without reading politics, this country can go to the dogs without knowing it. And all because of the innocence of wanting the best, meritocracy, talents etc. If we throw away politics, we can even sell the country away to the highest bidder. What is there left when a nation does not value its people and its citizenship, but instead hold in awe the talents and superficial talents of the world as must have? It is about time to resurrect Durai as a national hero, and who's the guy who spent Asia Pacific Brewery's money and be treated like a king in all the casinos? We should recruit all the drug barons and the mafia godfathers and triad bosses. Tell them we welcome their exceptional talents and send them invitations to be our citizens. Talents of all colours and stripes are welcomed to this island of super talents.

shssssh...let's not talk about it

The Malaysian Minister for Information, Zainuddin Maidin, was unhappy about the spat between Mahathir and Badawi. He was deeply concerned that this will expose all the cronies in the system and tell on the weaknesses of the bumiputras. In his view, the changing of the PMs is only a transfer of cronies. And since the cronies are endemic in the system, it is better not to talk about it so that nobody knows. The lesser people know about it the better for the country. This is a very wise minister.

training courses for bloggers

Bloggers need to go for courses, less they be killed. Well not in the battle field of course. But killed in different ways. Professional training for journalists have proven that it saved their lives, as quoted by anothor professional trainer. That must be the most valuable training the world can ever have. All the armies in the world should send their soldiers for such training and they will be less likely to be killed in battle. Back to bloggers training. The first advantage I can see in this is that I am going to set up a training school for bloggers and get some income. And to boost my income, all the bloggers must be licensed, issued by me. That's another source of income. Another advantage is that bloggers will, after the training, confine themselves to safe topics like food, entertainment and sports. That would raise the level of bloggers in these fields. Next is to set up a task force to enforce the rules and regulations and licencing. Now this will create more jobs. Cyberspace inspectors and cyberspace police. I strongly support the call for training for bloggers, on condition that they attend my school and the licence be issued by me. Others can take on the policing role.

8/21/2006

latest: we are opening up!

Latest News Following Hsien Loong's National Day Speech and his citation of Talkingcock.com, a sign of official sanction of the talking cock site, it is no longer blocked. All Singaporeans can now visit Talkingcock.com freely. Now this is no talking cock. Hsien Loong is walking the talk and showing the way. Welcome to cyberspace, Cyberspace citizen Hsien Loong! PS: I hope this is not just a slip by those responsible for blocking it.

the 6-8 million squeeze

With the kind of traffic jams that are increasing by the days, and with the policy change to allow more car ownership by removing COEs, how much more can our roads take before they will all clog up? With 4 million people, we are all feeling the stress, resources are stressed, road are stressed, jobs are stressed. Can we imagine how the island will look like if we are to have 6 to 8 million people? Khairy, Badawi's son in law may be right. When the people feel so squeezed, when property prices go beyond many, the lower income Singaporeans may find it a natural alternative to move into Johore, that is if they are welcomed. These poorer cousins of the rich Singaporeans cannot migrate to Australia or further. Would they eventually find the Southern Johore Corridor a welcome location and make way for other richer Singaporeans? When there are 6-8 million people in Singapore, can cars and flats still be affordable? Will there be enough jobs to go round? Or is this one of the reasons why the room size of HDB flats are getting smaller and smaller? Obviously they are not looking into a future where Singaporeans are all 5 feet tall and need lesser room to move around.

hsien loong's national day speech

A little light moment to remember. The most animate moment when he mentioned the name of Lim Kim San, he instinctively looked skyward to see if Kim San was there looking at him. I don't think he choreographed that. And anyone want to buy him mee siam, please don't. Mee siam apparently is not his favourite food. He didn't know that 'hum' do not go with mee siam. Now what is interesting in his speech, things that forumers will want to know? He spent quite a bit of time talking about the digital age and cyberspace. He discussed about how and why they did that to Mr Brown and the need to engage the people in cyberspace. He came out really fired up about this. But this is an area that he wants to do something differently but did not know how. This is best described by him quoting Deng Xiaoping, groping for rocks, one at a time while crossing a river. A case of wanting to let go, to engage the people but not having a formula to do it. Much as he wanted to talk to the people, or for his ministers/ministries to talk to the people, the big stick is still in his hand. He invited criticisms, and even talking about debate. But would there be any debate? In his view there was debate in Mr Brown's case when MICA responded. If that was the kind of debate that we are going to see, then one can expect nothing new. He talked about the new digital age and how to respond to this new challenge. But would the ministers/ministries think they are up to it to debate or discuss an issue over cyberspace? So far only one senior officer from the Foreign Ministry had the confidence to respond by writing back to Gayle Goh in her blog. Would there be more to follow suit and talk to the people instead of talking down to the people, or using the big stick? We will have to wait and see how they go about groping around, and carrying a big stick.

8/20/2006

open jobs to foreigners selectively

Mr Lee added that Singapore has to educate the young to higher standards so that they can move up the value chain and do higher end and more difficult jobs. At the same time, the government will continue to invest in new schools to develop talent. These are the basics that are needed for Singapore to continually adjust and grow, MM Lee said. But Mr Lee warned that the government cannot stop the worldwide trend of lower wage increases for the lower income group, thus the urgency to learn new skills. To move ahead and compete, Mr Lee felt that the services sector is the sure sector, which cannot be "migrated so easily" or outsourced. The above was an extract of LKY's National Day Dinner speech at Tanjong Pagar. LKY said that the service sector is one area that cannot be outsourced or migrated easily. This means that this sector will still be a reserve for Singaporeans if they want them. To take this further, there are many services and industries that need not be opened up to foreigners. And such industries and services should be identified and their job opportunities be Singaporeans preferred. In our attempt to open the country, there is no need to open up everything, including our backside. Some parts must still be covered. We have protected the political system, the legal system, some sectors of the civil service like defence and home affairs etc, we can do more. There are many areas in the private sectors that need not be given away so freely and easily. There is a need to be a little street smart while we open up. Or Singaporeans will end up begging the foreigners to have mercy and not to compete with them for jobs. Opening up is a good thing to attract more foreign talents. But it should not be done foolishly.

reinventing singapore

After 41 years as a new nation, we celebrate national day again and again while others celebrate independence day. Our independence was handed to us on a platter, not on a pool of blood of independence fighters. We have grown from about 1 million people to 4 million, including all the residents, PRs and guest workers. It is quite a strange feeling to count the guests and PRs as part of our population. And we are aiming for 8 millions despite the dwindling fertility rate. And projections claimed that only 1.5 million Singaporeans will be left in the not too distant future at the rate we are going. This would mean that Singaporeans will be a minority in this island which they called home. Assuming that this will be the case, lesser indigenous and organic growth but with an influx of foreigners who are happy to be just permanent residents as they get better privileges than the citizens, would the island then really resembles what we have heard very often, a hotel? And if this is the nature of things to come, maybe we should think about reinventing Singapore into a global city without citizens. Everyone is a guest. Everyone is a PR. Then we can change our status from the Republic of Singapore to PR Singapore. Not People's Republic of Singapore, but Permanent Residence's Singapore. We can declare ourselves something like a neutral piece of land like Switzerland and get a guarantee from the United Nations and all the big powers to safeguard our neutrality. Then we can disband all the expensive and cumbersome defence infrastructure and national service. We will be the shining example of a country without borders. Anyone can come and go as they please. And no citizens to curse and swear about being at a disadvantage in their home country. Everyone is equal, just a PR. No more Singaporeans, just citizens of the world.

followup of andy ho's quality reporting

I was reading this article on students agents by Melissa Sim in the Sunday Times. Despite the fact that she had been told that her numbers were wrong, she still put it into print, claiming that students agents earned a hefty commission of between $2000 to $8000! And she was told that she must know what constitutes that $8000. The number is nonsensical if it is just commission for bringing a student here and help him enrolled into a school. No student would pay that kind of money just for that. The more likely figure is between $800 to $2000, depending on the complexity of the case. But $8000 is not uncommon for foreign agents in China, Korea or Vietnam to charge their clients as there are many domestic regulations and systems to get by, including paying off certain people. The impression given by Melissa Sim is that it is a 'low startup costs and about $100 million up for grabs...' What her article implies is that these are sheeps with plenty of money to be milked by the agents. But when you read her comments further, her evidence did not point to anyone paying that kind of money to their agents. Even a student who paid $2000 were unhappy about it. Where would anyone pay $8000? Other than the unscrupulous who would take the commission and run, many agents have to sweat it out and play parents to the students, especially the younger ones for 4 to 6 years when they are here, running and fetching them around to do domestic chores and worrying for their safety. It is hell of a responsibility to take a child into their care when their parents are thousands of kilometers away and have laid full trust that the agent will look after their children, responsibly. And she mentioned about the Association of Consultants for International Students(Singapore) or ACISS which was set up specifically by the agents and related industry players to self regulate and ensure professionalism and reliability of the service providers. The responsibilities are huge and the service providers knew that they have to provide a service that commensurates with the commissions they are getting, and to make sure that their care are safe and sound. It is no joke should an accident happen or the child is hurt in anyway. For $2000 and a responsibility that can stretch for several years, only the uninformed will think that it is good money. Perhaps in the eyes of this reporter, once the commission is in the pocket, it is time to disappear. I post this to show the quality of reporting and the amount of homework done by a mainstream journalist as claimed by Andy Ho. Factual and accurate reporting!

8/19/2006

corporate watchdog!

Many of us are privy to many wrongdoings in the corporate world. Some were first hand information and some from hear says that were mostly truth. It is not uncommon to see hotshot and prominent honchos and CEOs indulging in sleazy deals, unethical and immoral practices at the expense of organisations and employees. I have heard of employees being held at ransom, treated like chattels, exploited and abused by the management they trusted. Some were used for horse tradings, some threatened and prevented from leaving the organisation, or if they leave, obstacles were placed along their path. All these wrongdoings have not been exposed for many reasons. And many at the lower end of the pecking order do not have the resources, money or intellect to take on the bigshot culprits who could drag them to court. And these people would lose by default as they would not be able to engage a legal counsel to bring the culprit to justice. They just cannot afford the legal fee. The internet forum will be a good place to expose such wrong doings to give warnings to those wrongdoers that their wrongdoings did not go unnoticed. Just to mention them here without identifying them or the organisations will suffice to put notice that their game is up. I hope forumers can contribute to this thread with their own encounters. And if this thread proves popular, I will stick it up as a permanent feature here.

crying wolf once too many

Putin has slammed the Americans for trying to flame the North Korean issue by claiming that the North Koreans are planning for an underground nuclear test. Even the South Koreans are dismissing the claim as untruth. The more the Americans keep dishing out their 'intelligence' reports of threats from terrorism or the nuclear ambitions of Iran and North Korea, the less would the world believe in them. They have cried wolf too many times and too often. The Americans are losing credibility in the eyes of the world after Iraq's WMD. The latest terrorist threat claim at Heathrow has also raised many eyebrows as to its reliability. It is very likely another hoax originated from the White House but executed through White Hall. The wayang of Bush and Blair is now well known since the WMD debacle in Iraq. How much more would the world believe in the two of them? How much more would they keep on undermining the intelligence of their intelligence communities? The credibility of both services have plunged to the lowest level ever since their reports and assessments had led to the invasion of Iraq. Today we are hearing the Australians raising alerts to Batam and Bali islands. Are these also part of their scheme to raise the alarm on terrorism and indulging in more hoaxes to frighten the world and make them look right? Wolf, wolf, wolf!!!

8/18/2006

the world can easily be turned topsy turvy

The world, especially in the air travel business, can be held at ransom, crippled, just by a phone call. Look at the panic stricken cities of the west. There is no need for WMD, no need for human bombs, no need for any complicated and expensive technology to disrupt the daily activities of any country. All that the terrorists needs to do now is to make a call to any airline or airports claiming that there is a threat or a bomb hidden somewhere and waiting to be exploded. Everything will come to a halt. All the security personnel will run around like bull arse flies trying to establish if the threat is true. And no want would risk taking any threat as a hoax. Fear and threats of sabotage will now be the most effective weapons of the terrorists. At their own time, and place of their own choosing, they could turn the world upside down. All life and economic activities will be disrupted at the mercy of the terrorists.

the mah chiam spat

Malaysia has the Mahathir Badawi Spat. Now we have our version of the Mah Chiam Spat. It all started with the light saga in Potong Pasir. Whatever Chiam said and did seemed to be wrong and will be commented upon as not doing his job or not serving his residents. Under such accusations, Chiam had no choice but to respond and rebut to level the ground. As the comments about Chiam came out in the media, Chiam responded through the media. From lighting a street path it goes on to the opening of the mrt station. (Where is Sitoh?) The latest reply from Mah is that he would not respond in the media but would want to answer Chiam in Parliament. Debating in the media would see both talking to the press and getting printed. In the Parliament, Chiam would have to speak to 83 MPs with one on his side and 82 on the other side, plus 10 neutral elected MPs. I think the laughters of 82 Mps will easily drown whatever Chiam has to say.

China told USA to 'shut up and keep quiet.'

China told USA to 'shut up and keep quiet.' China has finally stood up and tell the number one bully to shut up. After being humiliated and bullied for several centuries by the west and the last 50 plus years by the US, China is finally ready to take on the US in verbal battle in the world stage. China's ambassador to the UN in Geneva, Sha Zukang warned the US in no uncertain terms that the US should mind its own business and should not be the devil behind the Taiwan declaration of independence move. The US fingerprints are all over in the Taiwanese plan to break away from China and China has made it very clear that it will take the US head on if Taiwan declares independence with US support. And the US has been trying to brand the Chinese as an expansionist power for expanding its defence expenditure which is US$35 billion as against US$419 billion of the Americans. Such distortion of truth by the Americans is no longer tolerable and the Chinese are not going to take that lying down any more. The Chinese are going to call a spade a spade and that the Americans are the number one trouble maker in the world will be pasted and glued onto the American face. It looks like the Chinese are going to retaliate at every political polemics that the Americans are throwing at them. The world will now hear a different truth. The most dangerous and most hated country in the world is going to be the USA. They cannot run and cannot hide. They are everywhere, from Latin America, Europe, Africa, Middle East, South Asia and East Asia, trying to establish its hegemony over the world.

enough people to occupy these flats?

This is the threatening question about the overbuilding of HDB flats and how a good housing programme went wrong. And the rest is history. I will like to modify this statement to read, 'Enough people to buy these stocks?' The problem facing a glut of HDB flats and private properties in the market is the same as that facing the stockbroking industry. It is another case of oversupply and lack of participants. The stock indices are going up, other stock markets are going to the roof, but you can hardly hear a phone ring in the trading rooms of all the broking houses. A very similar situation as the housing market. Many flats were built. But where are the takers. In the stock market, there are many stocks and many derivatives, but where are the investors? There are many rich people in Singapore, but are they buying HDB flats or even private flats? Yes a few may buy the exclusive upmarket condo or landed properties, but the general market is silent. The same in the stock market. A few hedge funds and house players are in the market. And that is all. The whole market is deserted. The property market will suffer a fate of a slow death when the value just melt away. And so will the value of stocks when there are no buyers but plenty of stocks and other instruments available. The slow death has started. The holding cost for all the unsold flats is just too high. The overheads for running a broking house is equally high if there are no investors. And the funds will also have holding cost if what they bought cannot be sold, except from left hand to right hand and back.

8/17/2006

bringing down cost of essential services

The Worker's Party has made it their key objective to fight for the lowering of public transport fare. And their reasons are very valid except that the ruling party could not see it that way. Public transportation is a vital industry and affects the economy of the country as well as the wellbeing of the people. It should be treated like education or defence, and made as effective, efficient and at the lowest cost possible without the profit motive. Choking up the transport system or parallysing it by continuously raising fare will affect the quality of life of the people and all other economic and social activities. Opposition parties should be very clear in their objectives and defend the interests of the poorer people by bringing down cost of essential items and services. Transportation is only one of the many essential services.

8/16/2006

canned demonstration

In less than a month the World Band and IMF will be in town. And it is time for Singapore to present to the world our canned public demonstration within four walls. The demonstrators, all imported, Singaporeans unlikely to be allowed in, will be given all the freedom to shout, scream and scratch, all indoors. Probably the whole demonstration room will be wired with all the cameras and speakers, to be beamed across the world. Singapore will score another first, teaching the world how demonstration can be allowed, in a canned fashion. And if this is experiment is successful, maybe we can allow Singaporeans to demonstrate in the same way on certain issues. Then there is no need to explain so painfully why 4 is an illegal assembly.

8/15/2006

crooked bridge may save Badawi's govt

According to Mahathir, the Badawi govt is not corrupt and will have his blessing if they go ahead with the crooked bridge. But if there is no crooked bridge, then the Badawi govt is corrupt and he will continue to expose them. The balance of whether the Malaysian govt is corrupt or otherwise hangs in the balance of the crooked bridge.

8/14/2006

taxis - high operating cost and poor service

Night life in Hong Kong is so very alive. One reason may be that there is no midnight surcharge. Hong Kongers, tourists and business visitors know that they can have a taxi ride home at an affordable rate, however late in the evening or early morning. I also question the $100 daily taxi rental fee imposed, seeing that car rentals to the public range from $40 to $50 a day. And with second-hand car dealers coming into the business, there is talk of even $30 a day. Perhaps the over-size call-booking machinery can be made smaller to cut this $100 rental fee. I suggest that taxi drivers be given the leeway to be their own bosses in their trade with a condition that their vehicles are taken for roadworthiness tests at regular intervals. Perhaps service will improve with this flexibility. Yik Ching Fong (Ms) The above extract is from Straits Times Interactive. It is very obvious why the cost of taxis is so expensive while the taxi drivers are not getting the income they deserved, thus affecting the quality of service. All the booking fees and surcharges should be removed. Better still, taxi drivers should be allowed to rent their taxis from whoever and not be held ransom by taxi companies. When one can get a car for $30-$50 a day, why should taxi drivers be compelled to rent from taxi companies at $100 a day? Allow more competition in the industry, allow private operators to enter the business and provide cheaper taxis and remove all the ridiculous cost. Taxi drivers will benefit from lower cost, more passengers and higher net take home income. Taxi companies that are uncompetitive shall be allowed to wind up. All these monopolies are bad.

myth 52

'The Govt does not have the monopoly of ideas' This is the greatest change in perception after 41 years of PAP rule. The present govt has often acknowledged, fairly recently, that they do not have a monopoly of ideas. This implies that they know that there are better ideas out there and there are people who are just as able outside the govt that can provide equally good ideas. Compare this attitude to that of LKY's govt, it is a big step towards a changing of mindset at the highest level. I quote Seah Chiang Nee in his article posted in Littlespeck.com 'Whereas Kuan Yew relied on superior logic and tough punishment to rule, his son cannot do that. Hsien Loong still needs logic, but he can't use the cane to gain support. Persuasion, yes, but not force.' Seah Chiang Nee suggested that the superior logic approach is no longer workable in a new Singapore of well educated population. And the acknowledgement that the govt does not have the monopoly of ideas also appears to make this reasoning sound plausible. In practice, the way the govt deals with the people and the implementation of solutions to the country's problems, there seem to be little change. It is still the superior logic approach, that the govt knows best.

I find it very puzzling

The Israelis rained their artillery and bombs into Beirut and all corners of Lebanon. Their tanks rolled in with 30,000 soldiers. And there was no signs of the Lebanese army. Where have all the Lebanese soldiers gone? One possibility is that they knew that they were no match to the Israeli army. Without air cover, they will be sitting ducks to air strikes and could be destroyed in no time. So the army and other armed forces were withdrawn and avoided contact with the Israelis. Some may just joined the Hezbollah in civilians. Does a country need an army that cannot fight when enemy soldiers invaded its territory? Any country that allows this to happen deserves to be invaded. For they have made themselves weak, seductive and inviting. If only that the Lebanese soldiers were strong enough to fight back, the Israelis will not be so eager to march into their land. This is the major weakness of all Arab and surprisingly, Muslim countries. All very weak militarily. They were allowed to develop their armies but a very weak air force. In modern warfare, without air superiority especially in desert land, the army will be as good as crippled soldiers. They just cannot fight. Singapore must always make sure that its armed forces are strong enough to prevent a Lebanon or an Iraq.

8/13/2006

arm twisting singaporeans to part with their money

singaporeans are forced and harassed to cough out thousands of dollars to pay for things they did not want. stripped of their clothings, lying naked in a spa, they were made to part with their money to buy holiday plans or health products etc. it is so easy to make singaporeans part with their money. amazing, and above the law. report to the police after signing the documents? fat hope. it is a contractual agreement that is binding in a court of law. at best the victim can take out a civil suit against the offending party. what about signing under duress? then try to proof in court, and spend more money and time to do it. singaporeans are well protected by the rules of law in the country, and the legal system. there is no need to complain. just go through the due process of the law. singaporeans are so bless.

8/12/2006

things are too cheap here!

CPF is charging $18 as admin fee to transfer your medisave money to pay for medical expenses! Is this reasonable? It all depends on how much is the cost of labour and other overheads. If rentals and overheads and salaries are high, then in order to operate at a profit, it has to charge accordingingly. Is it an issue of fairness? It again depends on how to compute the cost of admin fee. Nothing is for free. People must accept this mantra. Even keeping money in the bank, if too little, the bank will charge $2 a month to maintain your account. And this is cheap, in fact too cheap, to think of the high cost of operating a bank, expensive rentals, computers and well trained and highly educated staff. Actually the bank should charge something like $30 or $100 as admin fee as their overheads are very high. And out taxi fares are still very cheap compare to other major cities. We should comfortably double or triple the taxi fares to make it more befitting to other first world cities. And there will be more people, including professionals and graduates, rushing to become taxi drivers. Then we need not have to employ foreigners or will there be a shortage of taxi drivers.

how to make a fool of the world?

I just feel that the world is being conned everyday by the crooks in political offices. And with the hyped on terrorism, any office involved could simply jigged a covert terrorist plan or message and circulate it around as the real stuff and it would send everyone scurrying for safety. And what is safe? Look at the items that are being banned from air travel and the explanation given to them. Practically anything in one's possession can be used to smuggle in a part of an explosive device. So what else is new or cannot be a part of such concealed weapons? Today passenger can still board a plane when deprived of any belongings except his passport and a few dollars. Tommorrow, some jokers are going to reveal that explosive devices or mechanism can be hidden in the anus or in the mouth or in some parts of the human body. Then all passengers will have to be subject to some body digging before they are declared safe for travel. The world is getting safer with such checks and preventive measures.

8/11/2006

foreigners driving our taxis

Is this a good idea? Singaporeans have this 'everything and everywhere and everyone is safe and friendly' attitude wherever they go. We have taken safety for granted especially in Singapore. I am just wondering whether it is really a good idea to have foreigners driving our taxis. The taxi, in the wrong hands, is like a little prison or contraption. Once inside, the passenger is at the mercy of the driver. I shiver at the thought of our young children and females, males included, hopping into a taxi and thinking that they will be in safe hands, to be driven home. What about being driven into some secluded spots to be robbed or raped?

Chok Tong's comment on the Lebanon crisis

It is good and timely that Chok Tong came out with a fair and balanced statement on the realities of the Middle East problem and not taking sides. For the moment, as long as both sides refuse to accept the present position and the existence of the other party, it will be an endless war. The only possibility for any solution is for them to change their present position. Is it possible? The alternative is not very desirable as it will mean the killings of each other every now and then. Any absolute solution? Possible, only if one party is able to destroy the other completely, or if Israel is relocated. Otherwise, what choice could they have? Let's hope both parties understand that we cannot do much to aid the conflict and not to exert pressure on us to make a stand for any side.

8/10/2006

Captain Tay should be court martialled!

Just think of it, the money spent on the extravagant NDP show was meant for the public, but here was this individual abusing it for his private use! Imagine what would happen if someone put up a picture of Chee Soon Juan or Jeyaratnam - then all hell will surely break loose! And, talking of money, they should have used the money burnt up in fireworks and use it to postpone the price increases for taxis, bus and trains. The above and the heading was posted in soc.cul.spore by HelenaHong. This is why people said Singaporeans are too serious and cannot let their hair down. Why take this so seriously? A little spontaineity, a little waywardness, a little fun will make life less rigid and routine. Otherwise wanting to have fun or wanting to be hip must be ordered or be directed from top down. Let's don't mess up this young man's life by suggesting court martial. Let there be some free spirit among us. Let there be life and be more carefree. I think his proposal is very novel and a good touch to a happy occasion.

myth 51

'Police not doing anything to Law and Order problems' There are so many postings these few days complaining about the inaction or misclassification of cases involving people being beaten up on our streets and law and order problems. So far the police have been doing a fabulous job maintaining law and order and ensuring that our streets are crime free. And they are very busy, their hands are full investigating all kinds of complains from white elephants to unlawfully assembly. They also check on young children who are seen loitering the streets after 11 pm when they should be at home. What more can one ask from our men in blue? It is unfair to complain that our police are not treating public beating seriously. Just try beating someone up over a little traffic accident and see whether the police will act on it.

choose where to be beaten

when the lady complained about her doctor brother being beaten in a hawker centre, i thought it would not attract that much attention. but it seems that people are angry by the classification of the case. from past precedents, one should be street wised when threatened. quickly get into a car and create the impression that the beating is the result of a road rage. then the assailant could be jailed and cane. to be beaten anywhere else, for example in a hawker centre, well, it is a private matter and one will have to take up a civil suit. and that costs money. living in singapore it is important to know the intricacies of the law. in the doctor case, should complain that it was a case of unlawfull assembly or public demonstration. then it will be treated more seriously. and if you want to beat up somebody, make it one to one or not more than 3 to 1. and if the poor bugger cannot afford to sue you in court, then he just got a free beating from you.

myth 50

'Together, we must give every person a chance to reach his or her dream. We must ensure the opportunity is real, that the dream is neither deferred nor denied, that hope is not a privilege of the few - and that our global city carries voices of home and glimpses of heart.' by Clarence Ti Boon Wee, an EDB scholar. Is this a myth or an aspiration? I hope the 3 grand children of Mdm Tan Chin Neo will be given a chance to reach their dreams. I hope the children of the retired bus driver with a stroke and his Filipina wife will not have their dreams deferred nor denied, and that hope is not a privilege of the few.

8/09/2006

the social slums amidst our affluence

Today we celebrate 41 years of success and great leap forwards. On the media, on air or on prints, it is very comforting to see all the smiling faces of people who are well fed, well schooled, well clothed, secured and living a life of plenty, and all happy and confident of the future. Last night at 9pm, there was a short docu drama of an obscure woman with a simple title, Life Story: Mdm Tan Chin Neo. I was just back and flipped on the tv button to catch the last glimpses when the story ended. An elder woman in Mdm Tan and three little grandchildren sharing some biscuits from a plastic bottle. The biscuits looked like Jacob's but definitely not. The last comment from Mdm Tan was a resigned. 'We just live from day to day.' They have lived without light in their lives. There is no electricity in their little flat. We are a nation with tremendous wealth. We build beautiful houses and infrastructure and landscapes to complement and match the grandeur of huge detached houses and fine architecture around the island. It just does not look good to have the ugly slums amidst all the beautiful homes. If there are, we will look no different from some less developed third world cities. A picture of contrast with little oasis of wealth and unkept, disorganised and broken down slums standing side by side. We have taken great care to present a wholesome picture of the physical structures around the island. Clean, organised, well kept and well planned and well maintained, green and full of flora. An admirable and envious garden city. We spent great amount of resources in developing our physical infrastructure but somehow neglected the social map of our society. Mdm Tan and people like her, are the slums among us. The slums that were kept away from view under a veil. Almost, if Mediacorp does not think it relevant on the eve of our National Day to show the other side of the 4 million smiles. Why would the govt spent so much on beautifying the island and clear away all the slums? Shouldn't the slums be left where they are, no upgrading? As a nation progress, it looks better that the whole package moves in tandem. It will be an awful sight dressed to the nines to dine in a surrounding of slums and broken down huts, and foul smelling air. If we can do that to the physical, I am wondering why we can do away the social slums at the same time. Or is it better to showcase them for a tug of the heartstring to raise funds? The govt has many roles and responsibilities to the people and nation. It is not their responsibility to make sure that everyone is taken care off with public fund. It would be better that they provide the environment and opportunity for everyone able to take care and prosper by their own effort. That they are doing quite well. But yes, the govt or the people(voluntarily) should take care of the stragglers who have been left behind. This is what a civil society is all about. Those who needed help should be helped when funds are available. It is different from a govt spending all its resources and funds to help and the people all be content to stretch out their hands to just to take. This responsibility of the govt is towards a small group of people that constitutes the slums in our affluent social map. We have eradicated our physical slums. And it is time that the social slums be dealt with and be removed from among us. Is it unbelieveable to know that $500 million given to Comcare, plus the millions from all the charities, are unable to work out a comprehensive strategy to reach out to all those who need help. It is evident that all the efforts were badly coordinated and many were done piecemeal and not a complete solution to the individual problems. It is a case of too many hands, too many funds and a big mess.

8/07/2006

a compassionate society

ELECTRIC NEWS Woes of family of four Pack of instant noodles lasted them a day Dad is 68, disabled after a stroke & is now jobless Mum is 33, a cleaner earning $400 a month. They have 2 kids age 2 & 7 By Genevieve Jiang August 06, 2006 THEY are 35 years between this married couple. Retired bus driver Low Joo Siang, 68, is disabled and has little savings. Yet, his 33-year-old Filipino wife, Madam Gina Dulay, has stood by, cared for and supported him since he suffered a stroke six years ago. Her responsibilities are heavy. She is the family's sole breadwinner. She is also the sole caregiver to her husband and their two children, aged 7 and 2. Madam Dulay currently takes home about $400 a month as a part-time cleaner at Alexandra Hospital (AH). 'Mr Low suffered a stroke in Manila but came back for treatment so that he could use his medisave.' my summary to shorten the story. His $10,000 bill was paid through Medisave. Mr Low's savings were running dry. They survived on his monthly CPF payout of about $290 a month. Dayan, a Primary 1 student at Gan Eng Seng Primary has to pay a subsidised fee of $50 for a schoolcare programme. Childcare for Diana also costs a subsidised rate of $50 a month. The family's budget is tight, but volunteers from the Lions Befrienders visit the family every week to lend an ear and provide monthly food rations worth $75. Mr Low is among the 1,800 needy seniors served by the Befrienders islandwide. However, Mr Low doesn't qualify for financial help. A spokesman from the Central Community Development Council says it's because Mr Low's monthly CPF payout disqualifies him from any public assistance (PA). He gets $290 a month from the CPF. Also his wife is working and getting about $400 pm. The above is posted at YPAP by leoman, and I have shortened it and only provided the gist of the story. I believe the family needs serious help. But some may disagree. Some may say that it is not the govt's responsibility to help the people. Everyone must help themselves. I can empathise with them. God bless.

smart city needs smart cars

Singaporeans need to drive a specially designed smart car to get around. The car should ideally be fitted with a computer to tell the active time of ERPs, their locations and the fees charged. Driving around Singapore is getting more and more complicated with the introduction of so many ERPs and fuzzy logic that will activated the ERPs when there is congestion and charge variable fees depending on the seriousness and usage of the road. Smart city needs smart cars. And the computer must also have satellite technology and positioning system, with maps to show alternative roads to take to avoid jams and costly ERP fees. Navigating through Singapore road system is never the same again. Is it stressful trying to remember where are all the ERP gantries and how to avoid them?

we will have our warren buffetts. just wait.

The Today paper has an article talking about the lack of Warren Buffett charitable spirit in Singapore. It was reported that many still have not made enough and so are still busy making more monies. And when they are ready, they will become our own Warren Buffetts. We have to be realistic and compassionate when we compare these 'poor' people to Warren Buffett. That guy got something like a hundred billion US$ and adding on to it daily. It is unfair to expect our nouve riche to part with their hard earned money. It is so difficult to make them and it is only right that they hold on to them or for their families. But I am very sure they too will part with their billions, like Warren Buffett, when they found their hundred billions. Singaporeans are generally very generous. Look at the amount of people donating to NKF and other charitable organisations. Many heartlanders have very big hearts. And they will empty their pockets when they find people in need. But for Warren Buffetts, we will still have to wait. Maybe if they have accumulated about 10 ten million bucks bungalows and a couple of billions in their bank accounts, then they might start thinking about it. Just wait patiently. Singaporeans will give when they have. The more they have, the more they give. Or is it the other way?

cyberspace hitman

I read a posting in the YPAP forum that there are forumers and bloggers out there whose main interest in posting is character assasination. Many bloggers and forumers have fallen victims to such vile characters. I too have one who even impersonate me, using my nick to post in my blog. Fortunately he was discovered immediately and exposed. What is more disgusting is that these people could be on a payroll. They are the latest hitmen in cyberspace. They go around harassing, provoking and tearing other bloggers and forumers to pieces when they could. Or maybe it is just my imagination that organisations would actually pay such hitmen to disrupt a blog or forum. In the days of poverty striken China, banditry, pickpockets, cheats, swindlers, joining triads were good enough professions as they feed the hungry stomachs at home. Today, with affluence, when there are hardly any hungry stomach to feed, would people stoop to such unethical professions to make a living? You be the judge.

8/06/2006

a sunday observation at a foodcourt

A Sunday observation at a foodcourt. Mr Rich was sitting alone in a table filled with food and food and food. And he was stuffing everything into his mouth in double quick time, oblivious to the fact that everyone was watching at his greed. His face was bulging with all the food, some dripping from the corners of his mouth. And his stomach was a swell 60 inch. Probably he weighed as least 150 kg. Around the table there were many hungry faces staring at the way he stretched out his two strong arms to grab at anything in sight. The lean and hungry faces were quite a pathetic sight. Wanted to ask for a little helping but afraid to do so. And they would not dare to just walk over and help themselves. Probably Mr Rich would be telling himself that these people deserved not to have the food on their tables as they were either lazy or not very smart. They should be like him, just grab at anything that he could reach without shame. And probably he would tell these useless people to tighten their belt and drink lesser water if they could not afford it. The foodcourt was doing great business and many people appear to be eating and oblivious to what was around them. Superficially everyone was having his fill, except that some have more of the share than others.

myth 49

'Complaining is bad' I was reading Kan Seng's speech on foreign talents and the need for them and the complaints that appeared everywhere. I don't think people disagree with the concept of having more foreign talents here. The complaints are more on certain specifics that people see as either overdone or overkilled or simply putting Singaporeans at a disadvantage. And in the same speech Kan Seng added, 'Worse, we should not become dissengaged armchair critics and simply complain when we do not like something.' Now compare this with people who are paid to complain, the professional critics who are not even affected nor dislike anything, but just their job to complain. Complain has a very important role in life and living. Our body complains when we are not feeling well. Our stomach complains when hungry. This is a natural mechanism that helps us to rectify any wrongs or problems. Just imagine we can't feel pain, hunger, thirst, we can be dead the next minute. Complaining has a vital role in society especially about things that affect the people and country. We as a first world country, should grow up from third world mentality and accept complain in the true spirit. I posted earlier about learning a thing from the World Bank/IMF inviting people to demonstrate against them. They want to hear the other side, an opposing view. This is maturity, a higher level of thinking. They know that they are not god and will not have the best solution for everything. Complains when taken positively, helps to smoothen the corners and rough edges of policies and decisions. In the absence of complains, we don't even know that we are suffocating the people. Another word for complain is feedback. Maybe we should use the word feedback instead of complain. What's the dif? Or maybe we should all shut up and believe that we are living in utopia, govern by gods and all things are fine.

8/05/2006

telling half truths?

Now, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong wants Singaporeans to show their best side to the international financial community.

In June, he launched a `Four Million Smiles' campaign, urging Singaporeans to smile more during the IMF-World Bank meeting - though only a month later, a Friends of the Earth survey showed that Singaporeans ranked as the unhappiest people in Asia.

Since the start of the year, more than 10,000 taxi drivers have attended a three-hour training course on how to provide better service for passengers during the meetings.

An accompanying handbook instructs taxi drivers to keep their hair neat, avoid fidgeting, ensure they don't have body odour, and not clutter their taxi with too many accessories.

"They also told us not to talk about sensitive issues like criticising the government and racial issues," taxi driver Choy Kok Wai, 49, told Reuters.

The above is a report from AFP/REUTERS posted in littlespeck.com

Now, presenting a picture of 4 million smiles when we were found to be one of the unhappiest people in the world, show our best side, which means now showing our ugly side, taxi drivers used to criticise the govt but told not to, would my double here condemn these as telling half truths?

singapore 'appalled' by iranian leader's remarks

This is on the front page of the Straits Times today in response to his remark that Israel should be eliminated and removed from the Middle East. The Singapore statement added, 'Such irresponsible and provocative statements are obviously intended only to further inflame the conflict and not address either the immediate humanitarian needs or the longer term goal of a durable solution that will address the security concerns of all parties.' Israel has been our friend for a long time. We are grateful to the Israelis for helping us in times of need. But I am equally appalled by our statement which has the same effect as Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's comment, only sound and fury but not helpful to resolving the conflict and the humanitarian aid that is in need. Helping a friend, to be on the side of a friend is one thing, but our comments need to be measured and not be carried away. We are not the USA or the UK. We cannot afford to court trouble to ourselves unnessarily when other bigger allies of the Israelis are keeping quiet. And I do believe the Israelis will not demand that Singapore make such a statement and compromise ourself. That will be very irresponsible of the Israelis to ask for. We shall help our friend and reciprocate their assistance but we shall not get too drunk and get hit by a equally drunk and reckless driver.

8/04/2006

myth 48

'Western democracy is good' Who says western democracy is good? Look at what is happening after the last GE? Sitoh is moving out and withdrawing his services to the people. The lamp posts that he put up for the benefit of the people are vandalised and no one is going to repair them. Chiam said it was not put up by him so not his business. Now if these lamp posts go into further disrepair and become an eye sore or public hazard, who is to be responsible? We cannot have this kind of democratic practices. We need a strong govt to 'just do it' and get it repair. To allow democratic processes to work will only lead to this kind of problem. Are Singaporeans mature enough to live under a democratic system where the people take responsibility and ownership of their environment?

unfinished business

If Chiam and Sitoh both abandon the lamp posts in Potong Pasir, they could quickly become a tourist attraction. STB should cordon them off and market them as our latest attraction on democracy Singapore style. The Malaysians also have something similar just across the causeway. The Unfinished Crooked Bridge. That was the first chunk of unfinished concrete mess, with rusty reinforced steel bars jutting into the sky that greeted me when I crossed over. They should quickly clear up the surrounding around the mess concrete chunk, put up some nice props around it and market it as, yes, The Unfinished Crooked Bridge! No fish prawn also good. No Crooked Bridge, unfinished Crooked Bridge also can. A new attraction, cheaper and more meaningful than any expensive DisneyLand that is at best a copy or an imitation. This is original and very fascinating. One of a kind in the world.

disqualification of justice woo bih li

There are many speculations as to the why's of Woo Bih Li disqualifying himself from the Chee siblings and Lee father and son case. We should not read too much into it. This is no more than a case of wanting justice to be done and to be seen to be done. He should make a good candidate for the next Chief Justice. A just, honorable and impartial man.

we will never have our own bill gates or warren buffett

Singtel still searching for CEO to replace Hsien Yang. Hsien Yang is a brilliant scholar, and a very able soldier. With these credentials, he went on to be the CEO of Singtel without any previous experience in the private sector or in the telecommunications industry. Singtel is now looking for a replacement with his resignation. There are two very experience and able CEOs in Chua Sock Koon and Allen Lew. Both have been in the industry and Singtel for many years. And both have proven their worth and risen to their present position. Though they are being considered for Hsien Yang's vacated position, the nuances are that they are not good enough. And Singtel is seriously looking for a foreign talent. Why are these two CEOs who have ample experience in Singtel and the industry not good enough? We will never have our own heroes and world beaters if we keep looking down on our own talents. World beaters need a chance. If we don't give our people the chance, we are doing injustice to our talents.

learning a little thing from the world bank

The World Bank wants the right to be criticised. What silliness! What an oddity of circumstance, for a powerful, respectable institution to lobby for permission to be granted to civil society organisations to have 'more opportunity to express their views', in a manner that will most certainly be non-complimentary to the World Bank. I copied the above from littlespeck.com. article was from blogger i-speak. When I heard that the World Bank was requesting the Singapore govt for permission to allow international demonstrators to demonstrate during the IMF meeting here next month, I found it rather strange. Why would the World Bank want to do that? It would only make life more difficult for them. Or is it a wayang that the World Bank is choreographing? It seems that the World Bank is serious in wanting to hear dissenting voices and views. The philosophy is simple. Criticisms and alternative views are healthy and provide another perspective which the World Bank can consider and may even help it to improve on what it is doing. It does not adopt the high and mighty 'I know it all attitude' and no one else is smarter than them and all dissenting views are unworthy or will undermine what they are doing. This is enlightenment of a very high level. And not only that the World Bank believes in it but also want to put it into practice. Other wise they will become a model of hypocrisy. Can Singapore learn a trick or two from the World Bank? Or we know it best. Nothing do learn anymore. We are the best.

8/03/2006

is this the best formula?

There are many formulae to tax and pay for the runnng of a country. The current formula that is preferred is this. 1. Collect taxes 2. Use taxes to provide services 3. Sell services to taxpayers ie privatisation 4. Profits from privatisation for what? Benefit who? 5. Services continue to make profits from taxpayers (again profit to benefit who?) 6. Taxpayers continue to pay taxes 7. Huge surpluses 8. Lower income squeeze by profit motive of services 9. Help lower income with some handouts An alternative model 1. Collect taxes 2. Use taxes to provide services 3. Operate services to benefit taxpayers at minimum profit 4. Taxpayers continue to pay taxes 5. Lower surpluses 6. Lower income not squeeze by profit making services 7. No need to give handouts to lower income(in reality this is relative) Which is a better model? Is running at a profit more important than the general welfare and well being of the people?

my double in my blog!

yes, i have a double here, using my nick redbean and writing in the same style as me, even not using capital letters. i am very flattered by the imitation. he has done his homework well and his posts can easily be mistaken as mine. the only thing he could not do is to change the colour of his name into blue. also he does not have the underline beneath his nick. so it is quite easy to tell the difference until one day when he figures out a way to do it. then it will be difficult. i too can't tell the difference in the way he posts from mine. nice job redbean from the real redbean. you learn well.

huha over transport fare hike

Fare hikes of public transport The recent announcement of fare hikes is causing a lot of comments and dissentment among the commuters. But if one is to look at the rationale, ie the rise in oil prices, the 2c increase is nothing alarming. All the complaints and arguments against the fare price adjustment model and the way the transport operators are allowed to monopolise the system for profit have been thrown out over and over again. Nothing new and all very simple to understand why the system is not favouring the commuters but the operators. Then today Leong Sze Hian came out with the ridiculous suggestion that fare price should be pegged with quality of service, and fines and punishment to the operators for failing. All these are way off the target. In the first place the operators are expected and must ensure an acceptable standard and quality of service. Otherwise they have no right to exist. It is not just a commercial enterprise but an essential public service. Secondly, making them pay fines and raising their cost will only see these cost be passed to the commuters. That is for sure. This suggestion is a no brainer. The whole fault of the system is privatisation and running it as a profit centre. Its reason to exist and operate becomes one of profit and not a service to the people and nation. And giving them a monopoly status to run for profit is even more ridiculous. It is better that essential services should be returned to the govt and operate as a stats board. The argument that stats boards are inefficient is bull. If the stats board cannot run any organisation or operation efficiently, then the whole bunch should be fired. Hey, we pay them big money, remember? And operating essential services under a stats board does not mean that they cannot make profit. But profit should not be the main reason for its existence. Neither should the silly argument that under stats boards it will be run at a loss. Why are these stupid reasons be shafted to the people to believe in them?

8/02/2006

what did andy ho said about bloggers and journalists?

Andy Ho's article in the Straits Times, 'Blogging's more than idle chatter' was not meant to be. According to Andy, Journalists tend to be professional and accurate and also analyse issues of public concern. Bloggers' main obligation is to be interesting. I may agree that Journalists tend to be accurate on selective news that they chose to print or not to print. Bloggers may or may not be accurate but also selectively chose to print or not to print. Hard to tell the difference actually. As for the second part on analysing issues, I think this has since been compromised as Journalists are now expected to be circumscribed on the issues they are championing. But as Andy went on, his views of Bloggers started to veer away. This is what he said. 'As a result, much of what bloggers offer is either misinformed, self indulgent opinion or thoughtful but unargued ones.' I think journalists too are often misinformed or intentionally misinformed, and definitely self indulgent and self opinionated. And as for being thoughtful and publishing a well argued case against an unargued one by the bloggers, I do not see how a case is well argued when it is a monologue whereby the journalist argued against himself with his own selective questions and answers. Other than simple factual reportings, I would submit that many professional pieces published by Journalists are also biased, opinionated pieces. And worst, many are so distorted that truth has taken on a different meaning.

time to spend your medisave!

Good time is here, no need for medical safety net! It was reported in the media with such jubilation that more people are opting for B1 and A class wards and private hospitals because they can use more of their medisave fund. So there is more money to spend on medicare. And with the economy growing, it is time for celebration, it is time to squander the medisave away. Throw prudence to the wind. The money in the medisave should be spent away merrily. It is time to encourage more consumption of the good life.

8/01/2006

myth 47

'Singaporeans did not have enough savings for retirements' I can't believe that this is true. And it is true given the concern expressed by MPs. Look at this. [b]Helping Singaporeans save for retirement a concern for MPsBy May Wong, Channel NewsAsia Posted: 31 July 2006 1958 hrs SINGAPORE : Singaporeans' lack of savings for retirement is a key concern of some MPs; this is especially worrying as Singapore is facing an ageing population. By 2030, one in five Singaporeans will be aged 65 years and above, and being financially independent may be a problem if Singaporeans do not start saving for their old age now. [/b] How could Singaporeans be short of retirement fund when we were the second highest savers in Asia after Japan? How could that be when the Govt has stashed up $200 billion in reserves? How can that be when the Medisave Account requirement is $30k and will go on higher? How can this be when the minimum sum is $80k and will be more over the years? Where have all the money saved the Singaporeans gone to? I can think of two big holes. The depreciating assets in the homes they paid for and the money lost in the stock market. How much were lost? My ballpark figures are in the billions. Maybe more than $10 billions. But with $30k in medisave and $80k minimum in CPF savings, would not that make retired Singaporeans filthy rich? Why is $110k minimum of strong S$ be considered not enough? Not enough according to who? Many around the world would be thinking a a happy retirement with this kind of money in their savings. What is wrong with these numbers? What happens when all the money is not enough? Cost of living, the cost to keep one alive in Singapore is getting ridiculously high. A retired Singaporean must have at least $110k in their retirement fund and still considered short when all he needs is a roof over his head and his 3 meals. What are the basis of computation? Still want to travel around the world, live in 5 stars hospital, swinging with dance partners, enjoying fine dining? I would think many would be lying on their backs staring at the ceiling and with no appetite to eat. Can't see much or hear much. Should keeping an ageing person alive cost so much?

job enough but money still not enough

Today we hear another impressive figure on job creation. 81,500 jobs created. And the unemployment rate of 3.8 per cent is nothing to worry about. We are near full employment. But why are the lower segment of the population still feeling so dissatisfied and unhappy? Obviously employment is not the only thing to look at. It is the overall impoverishment of the people. Asset value dwindling, some still holding onto negative assets, and the depreciating value of the money vis a vis what it can buy, domestically. We are poorer for the same income when everything is going up. And that is a fact for those with household income of less than $3,000. $2,000 is a drudgery, bearly enough. There is a need to contain the runaway inflation and cost of living to make life easier for the lower income group. To them it is still money not enough. Not that they have no money.