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11/30/2006

award of sentosa ir becoming a pr execise

The award of the Sentosa IR could turn out to be the biggest PR exercise facing the govt. Handled brilliantly, we will get a really fascinating IR to brag about and more international friends and recognition. Handle it badly, rigidly, play by the book in a no nonsense way could still get us a very good IR but may cost us friends and a tarnished reputation. The 3 bidders are putting everything they got into their proposals. They are extremely serious and have spent an enormous amount of money for their bids. Though eventually only one will come out the winner, there could be two sore losers to lick the wounds. And with Najib joining the fray by rooting for Genting, it complicates the matter with political implications and cross border relations in the yo yo. How could the award of the Sentosa be turned into a happy ending for the bidders? Two IRs being awarded, or allowing the two losers a second go at the development of the southern islands with their current bids being treated as a pre qualifications? It would give the unsuccessful bidders a little sweetener to go home with and a lot of goodwill to kick around.

no need for charity shows anymore

Move aside Charity shows Now who said charity show is the most effective and efficient way to help the poor and needy? Now the most efficient way, with minimum cost, is through GST. This is really brilliant. So with a stroke of the pen, all Singaporeans have done their donations for charity. No need to risk the lives and limbs of actors and actresses, no need pathetic looks on tv, no need to dial the mobile. And how much is raised? How many billions? And no need to pay for telecom and mediacorp production cost. Now who can beat this kind of innovative idea?

myth 98

Wisdom of Aladdin, Solomon and Saul Aladdin ruled Greenland with a crooked sword. When he is angry or about to cut off the head of anyone he will kiss his sword. And whenever he kisses his sword, Greenland goes white with fright. His elite ministers were all behind Aladdin and live by Aladdin’s wisdom of righteousness. And all his elite ministers were afraid to flaunt their wealth though everyone knows that they are very well rewarded in many ways. Openly flashing their wealth is a sign of having too big an appetite and were frown upon. All the people know but they could not do anything, for the elite will not change the way they are being rewarded by the system. Blueland under Solomon was different. They pride themselves as true elite. And they make no pretense about rewarding themselves. They gave themselves fanciful titles for doing nothing but paid like a king. And they made sure all their titles and high incomes are in their name cards to be flashed around as a recognition of their talents and abilities. The greater their incomes the more righteous they are deemed to be as plenty means no urge to steal anymore. The people too accept the system and pretend that all is well under enlightened leadership. They, like the people in Greenland, knew they could not do anything as the elite will not change the system to cut down on their loot. Redland under Saul is slightly different. The elite live fairly comfortably but not as wealthy as Greenland and Blueland. They were slightly better off than the people but any excesses will be dealt with by severe punishment All three lands under Aladdin, Solomon and Saul functions as effectively as they can be. All were perfect models on their own, living under the wisdom of their own rulers. Another common thread among the three elites is that they all frown upon the other’s wisdom but not saying anything.

11/29/2006

buddy buddy appointment! goosh!

Buddy buddy appointment It has taken so long for the independent directorship system to show its flaws and to be recognised that it is flawed. Geez, are people, intelligent people, that blind? Any layman would be able to see through the fallacy of such a system when friends and relatives were appointed as independent directors to be watchdog over corporate misconducts. It is as good as appointing robbers to be security guards. SIAS has finally acknowledged that this buddy buddy system must be changed and a neutral third party body is important in the appointment of independent directors. Now will the rightful authority do the necessary? Or will the farce continue? I am waiting for a call from David Gerald after such a long wait. Maybe my proposal has gone down the rubbish chute and lost. I am going to send him a reminder on this.

giving more than gst increases!

7% GST So far cyberspace has been characterised by widespread criticisms and attacks on the govt's intent to raise GST by another 2%. The attacks were callous and at times very wild. The moderates, very few, would look at it with a lot of scepticism and were cautious about how it would turn out. Then of course there will be the blind faith followers who will just say good, good. To look at the issue from a neutral perspective without jumping the gun, the people may want to give the govt the benefit of the doubt. Wait till the details are out. Some said it will be too late. Late or never, good or bad, it is a decision the govt has to make and has to answer to the people. They can't keep getting away with things that they think are good but the people think otherwise. Yesterday Choktong gave a little hint of what the GST package will be like. He mentioned that 'the govt was likely to plough more into the offset package than it would receive from raising the GST.' Now this is something to think about. Raising $1 but giving back more than $1 to the people. Is this for real? If this could materialise eventually, and the lower income group really become better off because of the GST increase, many critics would be slapping their own faces. Then again, everyone is watching and would want to scrutinise carefully what is taken and what will be returned to the people. Whatever the formula, the left side of the equation must equal the right side. Now the magic equation is that the right side is going to be more than the left side. Where is that money coming from? Who will ultimately foot the bill? From profits or from other citizens? The other question is whether it is a one time payout but a continuous taxation?

11/28/2006

kdf and surplus fund for research?

Charity and KDF The last uproar was about NKF. Today a letter to the Straits Times forum by Lau Hwee Tiang commented (better not say complained) that KDF is thinking of using its surplus fund to conduct research. KDF is facing declining number of patients and now has more money than it needs. So it must find other ways of using its surpluses. Can this be true? Think about it. Charity money to help kidney patients but to be used for research. Does KDF has such flexibility to do so? If it does, why doesn't it just donate the money to NUH or NUS? Why the need to do research on an area it has no expertise, as mentioned by Lau Hwee Tiang? Does it mean that when it runs out of fund to help patients or for the research, it should then go on another charity drive? Managing public fund has a heavy responsibility and the public who donated money deserves to have good, sensible and responsible people to manage such funds for the purpose in which the fund is supposed to use for.

the NOBLE Award

The NOBLE Award It is the time of the year when employees are expected to be assessed on their annual performance. And this eventually leads to the bonus for Christmas. While employees are all being assessed, who is assessing the people whose decisions and policies affect the people's life most? Presumably they are all being assessed. I am referring to the Ministers, the Head of Ministries and Stats Boards. All these people manage our lives and either make it better or worst. And shouldn't the people also do their assessments of these men and women who can turn their lives into a fantasy trip or into misery? Assessing them for their worst is unbecoming and unpleasant. Such eminent people shall not be assessed for being bad, but for being exceptionally good. I am thinking of a NOBLE Award, something like the Nobel Prize. Not the kind where entertainers gave to each other for entertainment and self flattery. The award for leaders of a country and national institutions shall be something serious and meaningful. And the criteria must be exceptionaly high for the high remuneration that they are paid to do the jobs. What is NOBLE Award? It stands for Noble, Original, Brilliant and Life Enriching. People deserving of such an award must have done something noble, the ideas original and brilliant, and enriching the lives of many people. The Award is not to be given for selling dreams, for hardwork, dedication and perseverence or things that anyone can do given the authority eg deciding to go ahead with the IRs. This is just a decision thing. I am scanning through all the ministries and stats boards trying to shift out something that is deserving of such an award, something really brilliant and noble. So far nothing comes near. A lot of hard work were put into the Health Ministry to cut cost or streamline cost, but all basically administrative matters. Even the 3 Ms were ordinary. Transportation? All basically money making from the commuters. Hard to assess what the Defence and Home Affairs are doing. The rest are just system maintenance. The only bright spark is the 2% increase in GST. This has the potential of becoming something brilliant, in helping a large group of lower income citizens. If only the money raise is used for what it is meant to be. And the greatness of this decision will be there for all to see. Or would it turn out to be a big disappointment? Something that everyone knows, but wishing and hoping that they were wrong, and waiting to be proven wrong? Never in history has taxing the people been innovated into something that really benefitted the people directly. This is the first time that a tax is proclaimed to be for the sole purpose of improving the lives of the people. If this can be true, it will be a fairy tale story with a good ending and deserving of a NOBLE Award.

11/27/2006

Signs of a Nation losing itself.

Signs of a Nation losing itself. The lack of response to the Indon policeman attack on a Singaporean is a bad sign of being Singaporean. The outpouring of help, to some extent unreserved help, for foreigners, may be good for humanity eg the tsunami and the 40% bursary going to foreigners. But it is bad when viewed from the perspective that many Singaporeans still need help but help not forthcoming or with so many conditions attached. The emphasis on foreign talent is good. The opening of job opportunities to foreigners while there are Singaporeans having problems getting a decent job. The widespread littering, if mainly attributed to Singaporeans, is a sign that this is not our home any more. Nothing to do with them. Let it mess up or be dirty. Doesn't matter. The growing number of Singaporeans migrating. The growing number of Singaporeans having to work overseas when they can't find employment back home. A severing of their roots or attachments. The rapid dilution of the population with new citizens. The buying of foreign talents to win sporting medals. The glory is so fake. Then the cursing and swearing by some Singaporeans. The impatience in wanting to make a quick buck, like pre Hongkong 1997, to prepare to escape from paradise. The widening income gap and the hardlanders/elite divide. These are but some of the signs that there is something wrong with our nation building effort. When there is no pride being Singaporeans. When Singaporeans do not bother about Singaporeans and Singapore.

cabinet salary increase?

Cabinet pay May soon rise During May election, hikes in 5-7% GST and cabinet ministers’ pay were widely speculated. Now the 2nd part may also come true. By Seah Chiang Nee. Nov 26, 2006 By far the highest in the world, Singapore cabinet ministers’ salaries are likely to head for another increase soon.... Currently, ministers are paid basic annual salaries (plus performance bonuses) and, at age 55, they are entitled to collect both a salary and full pension. The President's basic salary US$1,500,000 (S$2,507,200) while the Prime Minister gets US$1,100,000 (S$1,958,000). Minister's Basic salary ranged from US$655,530 to US$819,124 (S$1,166,844 to S$1,458,040) a year. In comparison, the president of the United States, the most powerful nation in the world, earns US$400,000 and US$50,000 expenses, less than what a junior minister earns in Singapore. In UK, Prime Minister Tony Blair earns US$170,556 annually.... Littlespeck.com The rise in salary for the politicians is a good thing. We should not begruge them for their high salaries. They deserve it. Further, with the high cost of living in Singapore, we cannot afford to tempt them to become improper when their salaries cannot keep up with their Swiss standard of living. And when their salaries are comfortable enough, they too would not begrudge other Singaporeans from earning more and would not do any silly things to break other people's ricebowls. It is good for everyone. The only thing to be concerned about is to raise the salaries of those civil servants at the lower levels, ie. those earning less than $5000 pm. By keeping on a percentage increase to the million dollar earners, the income gap will surely widen. It may be tough to maintain a Swiss standard of living. But it is tougher to maintain a hardlander's standard of living.

myth 97

'Don't let averages fool you' I read this phrase in the Today paper this morning. What is Vasu Menon referring to? Property prices. He was saying that the high end prices are really shooting to the sky. Up 34% in the first quarter! Averages often hide the ugly truth. The PSI is an average over 3 or 6 hours. It does not want to show the real PSI in that particular hour so as not to frighten people. Another average that tries not to frighten people is the income of employees. It is said that the top 20% earns around $10K a month. It does not tell the top 3% what they are earning. Looking at the millionaires that we have, it is likely that most of them will be getting more than $100k a month. I wonder how organisations can pay employees so much in a month. These people must have the Midas touch. At the other extreme, the bottom 3% could be earning $300 a month. That is the real income gap that is not told. Or take the top 1% against the bottom 1% and find out what it is like.

11/26/2006

Have we failed in nation building?

When I saw the vicious attack on a Singaporean, James Seah, in Medan, I felt so outraged. I was incensed. The video clip aired in the news showing how viciously James was beaten, kicked, and on the ground, while his assailant, an Indonesian policeman, brandishing a gun in his hand. Under such a situation, no one will dare to hit back as the alternative will be a shot from the gun. And James' sin was to ask the policemen to pay for their drinks in his hotel. They were not drunk. From the video clip, the assailant was moving around like a hyena around its fallen prey. What irks me most is that this whole episode did not evoke any sense of outrage among Singaporeans. It just went past quietly as if nothing happened. A Singaporean, viciously attacked unjustly and no other Singaporean would mutter a word. Where is the sense of pride, of being a Singaporean, or being identified as a Singaporean belong to a nation called Singapore? Or perhaps we are too successful in welcome foreigners and helping foreigners that we no longer know who we are. Or we are all international citizens living in a hotel. Have we lost this sense of belonging as a people? Where is the demand for justice, for the attacker to be punished? Or shall we still rush over to pour our money over their heads again? The attack revealed a strong hatred for Singaporeans, some say Chinese, in Indonesia. While some apologists would say it was only one Indonesian policeman, not the whole of Indonesia. Agree. But what we should expect is that there are more than just one Indonesian policeman who did not appreciate what we have done, but hated us and would beat us to a pulp given any excuse. And what did the Indonesian govt do to the culprit? Is he being arrested and punished? I am writing this as one single Singaporean and this does not reflect on all Singaporeans.

Old, immobile and lonely

Old, immobile and lonely Have no fear. Often we heard of the old and the handicap complaining about loneliness, nothing to do, nowhere to go and dunno what to do with their lives. Travelling is not only difficult because of their lack of mobility, it is also expensive. Public transport is not cheap nowadays for the retired and unemployed. And who would want to bother chatting up oldies when there are many vibrant and sweet young things everywhere? I thought meditation will be a great exercise for the lonely folks. And meditation is a great time killer for people with a lot of time to kill. But for those who insist on wanting to talk to people, to socialise, to move around but unable to, try the internet. The internet is a great tool for the oldies and the handicap. No need to spend money on transport, no need for a pair of strong legs to support the lifeless body. And no need to look good and sexy. Just sit in front of the screen and all one needs is a brain that is still ticking and good finger muscles...and travel around the world. Go places, visit the museums, countries, any place of interest, go shopping, or chat up anyone you like, even sweet young things. Just tell them that you are only 25. But need to learn a few new lingos to get them to believe. Oldies and people with physical disabilities should be encouraged to serve the net when they will be on level ground with everyone. No need assistance, no need pity, no need to bother anyone, just a few fingers. The internet can be a new world for the oldies. Who says the internet is for the young?

11/25/2006

chasing after a red herring

There are so many discussions in the papers recently on how to improve the public transport system. There were advocates of more service providers, while some wanted it to be operated by only one organisation. The quality of public transport system, especially in our context, is not dependent on the number of operators, monopoly or oligopoly, or in whatever combinations. All these are hogwash. Discussions in futility, or discussions for the sake of discussion. What is needed is the political will to set the goals on what we want. If the political objective is to have a reasonably priced world class transport system we will have it. If the objective is to squeeze as much money from the commuters, then it will be that way. The public should not waste too much time talking about what is best. There are many super talents who have already thought of them and knew what can be done and should be done. It is audacious for the layman public to think that they know better. Just let the super talents know what are the real objectives of a world class transport system and they will deliver. Tell them you want to milk as much money from the commuters, they will deliver too. What is so difficult about delivering a world class transport system when we have the money to buy the best in the world? It is all in the mind.

slavery in singapore

Slavery in Singapore Could not believe that it is still there in modern Singapore in a disguised form. When there is liberalisation of trade, free flow of information and people and jobs, when there are laws against unfair practices in businesses, when corporate honchos cried foul in the face of unethical and immoral market practices, employees or workers are held hostage, in a way like chattels by their organisations. Over the last few weeks there were several cases of civil suits taken up by big companies against staff poaching. And it seems that this practice is not acceptable. That it is wrong to offer staff a better compensation package to join another organisation. The ruling is in favour of organisations that wanted to prevent their staff from leaving for greener pastures. Didn't workers and professionals join organisations for the lure of better remunerations and prospects? Aren't these their right to do so? Didn't the govt pay highly competitive salaries to attract super talents to join them or to prevent their staff from leaving? Are these practices against the law? Apparently it must be. Organisations are now not allowed to poach staff from their competitors. Then where is the right of workers and professionals to join another organsation freely and to be decided by them based on the terms and conditions of employment offered? The employees or professionals have their rights to be with whichever organisations they choose to be. To limit or restrict this right is a violation of their freedom of employment. They are not chattels or slaves of any organisations. No organisation has the right to own their employees or professionals in their employed, or to put barriers to prevent them from leaving against their free will. They should instead offer more competitive packages to retain their staff. This is fair competition. Otherwise, we will have slavery in modern Singapore. I have witnessed such malpractices in many places. Ban slavery in Singapore!

myth 96

'A discount is a subsidy' Believe whatever you like and how you like it to be. That is the formula to be happy or to be conned happily. Is subsidy a discount or is discount a subsidy? Very simple, it depends on what you want to believe, or your definitions, or who says it. According to a forummer Cheong Chee Mun in the Straits Times today, his definitions of discount and subsidy go like this: Discount - A discount is the difference between the market price and seller's price. eg. If the market price of a product is $200k and the seller sells it at $150k, he is giving a discount of $50k. Subsidy - A subsidy is the difference between the cost of a product or service and the reduced priced at which the product or service is sold or provided. Now these are not too difficult to understand right? I believe any layperson would be able to understand these two simple definitions easily. But Singaporeans still believe that a discount is a subsidy...I think....

11/24/2006

Returning kindness with hatred

I was watching the news clip on the Singaporean manager who was beaten in Medan. Looking at the video on how aggressive and brutal the attacker, an Indonesia policeman, beating up the Singaporeans for a few minutes, made my blood boiled. I felt so angry. The way the Indonesian kept hitting and kicking the Singaporean who was on the ground, afraid to hit back as the attacker had a gun in his hand, was so shameless and pathetic. It reflected the intense hatred in the attacker for the Singaporean. And for what reasons? Because they ate and drank and refused to pay. They could just walk off laughing without paying if that was their intent. But they were there to beat up the Singaporean. It was a great display of how much the Indonesians, as a people, hate Singaporeans. Forget about all the aids and how fast we rushed to assist them during the tsunami. And we even rebuilt schools and villages for them. What the shit. They have no love for us except our money. I hope the next time they asked for help, lets mind our own business. We cannot always be so compliant and trying to be nice and kind knowing very well that our kindness is seen as weakness and to be taken for granted.

it is good to be successful

The satisfaction of being in control I was thinking of writing about the meaning of Meaness as I have talked about it in several posts. Then I thought people will be very unhappy if I called them mean. So I rephrase it to celebrate the success of successful people and try to view life through their perspectives. It is so gratifying to be in a position of wealth and power when money is no longer an issue and you are not only in control of your own life but also determining the lives of others. Living in a 2000 sq m privately owned resort and calling it home, with 8 rooms for 4 persons to share, a huge living room like a hotel lounge, a reading room, an AV room, a family room and a 50 sq m bedroom for each member of the family. Then there is a little swimming pool with a putting corner. Now that is something. And having not a care whether 8 or 10 members of the hardlanders are squeezed into a 2 or 3 room flats, what 50 sq m or 70 sq m each. And have the pleasure of telling them that they are so fortunate to have a roof over their heads. Then every year end can look forward to a 3 or 6 months bonus or a 10% increment. Now what do what these mean? 6 mths multiply by $100k per mth, that is a cool $600k for bonus. And a 10% increment will add another $10k per month. Don't want to know what the hardlanders are getting. OK give them 2 months bonus and 5% increment. Do I bother to know that 2 mths multiply by $1000 will be $2000 or 5% increment is a handsome $50 a mth? No, they are not good enough to earn more and they deserve it. And if these people are living on rental flats and paying $30, now that they have an increment of $50, must raise the rental to at least $50. Must let them know that they cannot always think of living on charity. That they must strive to work hard and upgrade. So by taking $20 from their increment will push them to want to do better. Now ain't I kind and caring to these people? I have all their interests at heart. I want them to be good and well. I don't believe there are people who are born with lesser intelligence and talent. They are just lazy only. Must keep managing them and pushing them to work harder.

11/23/2006

talent schools not for nerds

The fallacy of good academic grades The Arts School has clarified that an express stream grade is only a guide and not necessary a prerequisite for admission. Somehow there is this obsession that everyone must have good grades in order to have talents. So Beckham, Owen and all the footballers in the English and European Leagues and Singapore league, please do not apply. And all the pop singers, dancers and actors and actresss, also don't apply. We will call you. I thought god is just being fair by giving academic talent to the nerds and artistic talents and sports talents to those who are not academically gifted? But what can one expect when Arts and Sports schools are managed by academic talents? If I will to set up such a school, I will make it a point to sack all the applicants who have good academic grades and take in the real talents in the respective fields. Better still to make those with good academic grades feel unwanted in these talent schools. Talent schools are for specific talents and not for nerds. This is elementary.

my god, so many complainers

My god, there are so many complainers in the papers about the smallest of HDB flats. Do these people know how good life is inside a HDB flat, especially the space they are getting? The HDB have done many meticulous studies before they came up with the optimum size of flats to suit the residence. And how can they ever think that HDB is wrong in the size of the flats? I asked the two cockroaches inside my kitchen cabinet whether they feel squashed and they looked at me in amazement. Squashed? It is like a universe. They have been running around freely and still cannot explore all the corners of the flat. It is too big! It all depends on your size and on your need as a lessee. A lessee may find it too small. But from the perspective of HDB, that is good enough. So don't argue, and stop complaining.

Talk to your neighbours

Talk to your neighbours This is the latest war cry in Singapore. We are living so closely to each other but not talking to each other. In fact many quarrelled instead. The objectives of building a closer knit society where everyone knows each other and feel as a member of the sociey, as friends, to share and help each other, especially the old, handicap and lonely. Who can quarrel with such a great idea? But then, do people want to talk to their neighbours? What is so great about your neighbours when some will get to your nerves with their antics, unhygenic ways, unsocial mannerism etc? Lifestyle of 21st century and city life are changing rapidly. Every home is a self contained unit for entertainment and to rest or to keep to one's own privacy. Everyone has a different lifestyle, different likes and dislikes, different tolerance than before when the neighbour's living area is also your living area, sharing kitchen, toilet and many common facilities. For the old and lonely who needs people around them, having helpful and caring neighbours is a great bonus, no doubt. But such community bonds and relationship cannot be enforced. They can only be fostered, encouraged and need time. And conditional upon whether the neighbours are those who want to help and come up close. Making efforts towards this direction is necessary but cannot be overdone when it becomes fake. There are still calls to play hops scot, marbles, five stones, chatek etc. These are good to reminice but hold no value and unlikely to capture the interest of a new breed of children brought up in a push button for satisfaction world.

11/22/2006

when 8 As are not enough

I have read a reply in the Straits Times forum by Choo Lee See, Director of PSC Secretariat. She said that students vying for PSC scholarships should have 11 or more subjects (at presumably O levels). When 8 As are more than adequate, I thought it would be better for the bright students to spend their times exploring the stars or some other interests, maybe smelling the roses, instead of chasing for more As. These students, with a min of 8 As are already exceptional students and academically need not have to prove that they can do even better. What is lacking is probably the development in other areas, humanity and character building and other interests. Their extra time should be allowed to be spent in things other than more muggings. It will help to reduce more exam stress. And PSC could assess them better as a whole person.

happy old singaporeans

'I love being served by older workers...they have smiles from their faces that really come from the heart.' Jo Anne Lee Actually I was wondering whether to put this in the myth column, about the mythical Singapore and mythical Singaporeans, all happy, especially the young, and very happy to be served be equally happy old Singaporeans. Old Singaporeans nowadays don't retire into happy villages or be bored by highly spirited grandchildren, or a world cruise round the world to the sunset. Happy Singaporeans are those cleaning up tables and serving at MacDonald counters. And their smiles are genuine. They are so lucky. I think I will submit my application to MacDonald for a happy retirement job. And who says old workers are not wanted?

myth 95

'HDB flats are too small' A Ms Sangeetha Bysheim wrote to the media complaining, oh no sorry, feedback, that HDB flat is a squash for more kids. How wrong can she be. In a 3 room flat, it can take in easily and comfortably 10 people, father and mother and 4 children to a room. And there is still space in the living room to park maybe another 4 bodies when lights out. And Ignatius Lourdesamy from the HDB rightly replied that our flats are big, bigger than in Hongkong, Tokyo and Seoul, and bigger than private apartments. Singaporeans should not be complaining about small flats. They did not know how good life is in Singapore. Go to Africa and see those natives living in thatch huts or in open space! 'HDB flats are also designed for more efficient use of space.' Now this is very important in land scarce Singapore. What Sangeetha should suggest is that all flats and houses must also be designed to save space. After all we are going to have 8 million residents in years to come. Maybe there should be a law to regulate the size of space entitlement for each citizen. As an example each person is entitled to 3 by 3 metres of bedroom space, no matter whether it is HDB flat, private flat or landed properties. If hardlanders are deemed fit to be squeezed into a small hole, or in public transport, then anyone who thinks that such condition is acceptable should also be prepared to be in the same shit hole. There is a saying that you need to be in the same shit to appreciate what it is like. Try living it is one way. There are still people who believed that Singaporeans can survive on a household income of less than $1000, or a big family to live inside a pigeon hole of 50 to 90 sq metres.

GST - The realists and the cock teasers

GST - The realists and the cock teasers The GST increase will be debated in Parliament early next year. Debate for what or about what? The realists know that debating the GST in Parliament is but a waste of time. So they are now concentrating on preparing the people to accept the increase and how to adjust to it, or what the Govt can do to share the loot. The cock teasers will still be trying talk about alternatives to GST. There are many other ways to raise fund than raising GST. Yesterday's teaser was to legislate a $2 levy on every working people and use it to help the poor. Today's teaser is by a Roger Tan who suggested that a better way is to sell Govt bonds. I am yawning again.

GST - The realists and the cock teasers

GST - The realists and the cock teasers The GST increase will be debated in Parliament early next year. Debate for what or about what? The realists know that debating the GST in Parliament is but a waste of time. So they are now concentrating on preparing the people to accept the increase and how to adjust to it, or what the Govt can do to share the loot. The cock teasers will still be trying talk about alternatives to GST. There are many other ways to raise fund than raising GST. Yesterday's teaser was to legislate a $2 levy on every working people and use it to help the poor. Today's teaser is by a Roger Tan who suggested that a better way is to sell Govt bonds. I am yawning again.

11/21/2006

it is great to give

It is always a great thing to give Khoo Teck Puat gave $34 million to Beijing University. His own money. It is easier to give other people's money, or taxpayer's money. There is now a storm at NUS for giving 40% of its bursary to foreigners. At NTU, bursary is only for Singaporeans. There is a difference in philosophy here. One believes in charity begins at home. One is international philantrophy, give to the world. Hopefully their pocket is deep enough. Now the donors are not happy. They donated in the belief that this will be given to help needy local students. Now, was there a written position or an implied understanding of who the donation shall go to? According to Education Correspondence, Sandra Davie, these detractors, a new term for complainers, are unhappy. Maybe using the term detractor is more pleasant. But if there was an understanding, implied or written, that the fund should go to local students, then the complainers are more than detractors. The onus of proof to justify the allocation of funds to foreign students will then lie squarely on the administrators of the fund. Then I wonder what is the best term to describe them

thoughtless violation of ownership

What is ownership? What is it that belongs to you? And if it is yours, can anyone take it from you against your wish or without your permission? Or can anyone, through a show of hands, that they are the majority, thus they decide against your property or interests? Or can the govt legislate anything it wants from you? The truth is that all these is happening right in front of us. And Singaporeans did not even have a second thought whether it is right for such things to happen. A very good example is an article in the newspaper by a writer, Nelson Quah, suggesting a mandatory deduction of $2 from all employees to set up a fund for the poor. And this is not the first time Singaporeans are suggesting such a measure with no respect for ownership. Whose money? Who does all these Singaporeans think they are to decide to take someone else money or property because they think it is for a good cause? Just legislate it and it becomes legal. Look at what is happening to our CPF? It is perfectly legal. It is also your money, or maybe not now.

11/20/2006

now no fear to post at redbeanforum

Then please use the very same technology to banish all FUD (Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt) about your IP address being traced. Regain your anonymity, freedom and privacy. Exercise your free speech in order to preserve what little freedom you have left. Do you like anonymity? Do you wish to circumvent MDA's or any censor's content filters for that matter? Then use Tor technology. It's a network of onion-routers operated mostly by private individuals (some .edus and non-profit orgs also do so). But coz no one person/company own/ have access to the entire network - a common pitfall of so-called "free anonymous proxies" - they can't store all details about you - even if they want to). Tor continually hops and cycles through thousands of IP addresses in its network before exiting your data stream through hundreds possible exit nodes. So unless you're being watched and timed at both entry and exit nodes, no one knows where you came from nor where you're going. Anyway, so what? You easily re-establish another ID using new hardware with fresh MAC addresses. And of course using a public hotspot helps, too. If you want to try out Tor, go to http://torrify.com/ and download Torpark and run that from your machine. Once you've got it running go to http://cmyip.com/ to verify that your IP is indeed masked. Better still go download the Firefox browser from http://www.mozilla.com/en-US/firefox/ and torrify it from http://tor.eff.org/download.html.en so you get the benefit of Privoxy as well. Allow yourself to speak out freely without any more FUD. So you see, Knowledge is Power and Information is Freedom in an information-controlled and fear-induced environment. BTW, Tor, Firefox, Privoxy software that power such technology is Open Source Software. Meaning it's FREE and LEGAL to be downloaded and used. So use and support OSS to enjoy a better tomorrow today. PS. don't complain if your surfing speed is now slower. That's the trade-off you make to enjoy anonymity and circumvent content filters. You choose if it's worth it. Anyway, there's the Tor button that toggles if off - if you feel safe to do so.

increase in postage rate

Increase in Postage rate. The increase in postage rate effective 18 Dec 06 will be from 23c to 25c, 70c to $1.10 and $2 to $2.20. Effectively the percentage increase ranges from 8.7%, 10% and 57%. There it goes!

littering no more

We have been very successful in cleaning up Singapore over the years until things took a drastic change lately. Singaporeans in general, except a few untrainable, have been accustomed to the non littering habit that have been instilled in them from young. Why the sudden turn of event? Have Singaporeans gone back to their third world mentality? It is pointless to tackle the problem if we failed to see the cause of the problem. Indeed some Singaporeans have returned to their ugly habit of littering. But that is not the major cause. Why are people so blind not to notice who are the littering our streets? It is not the Singaporeans but our foreign workers. Not too sure about foreign talents. Overnight, fields and playgrounds and footpaths were strewn with litters, papers for sitting on the ground, plastic bags, food wrappers, emptied drink bottles and cans were everywhere. For the situation to reach such a state, it means someone is sleeping. Someone who is tasked to do the job is not doing it. Is this a complain? To some arseholes, yes it is a complain. To the enlightened, it is feedback. And they would probably thank people who talked about such problems and start cracking. The problem is straightforward and the solutions too are quite simple. But if we do not understand the source of the problem, we are barking at the wrong tree.

11/19/2006

myth 94

'Singaporeans don't complain' The word 'complain' must be wiped out from the Singaporean vocabulary. It is not only irrelevant, but to some can be hazardous. Singaporeans are afraid to complain about policies or the govt. But if it is something else, they will rise spontaneously like the Geylang roar. A good example is the NKF issue. Complain is a taboo word. It is politically unwise and risky. What Singaporeans should do when they are caught in a bind is to jump. But that is bad now after the last case. A copy cat jumper did not reap any financial reward subsequently. What Singaporeans should do, the politically correct way, is to seek help, or write in a feedback. But even the term feedback is not too appropriate. The new terminology is reach. Feedback, reach, complain, what's the dif? Anyway, Singaporeans who are not happy, please reach back, or reach will reach you. Feedback is out of fashion and complain is a definitely no no.

world class transport, according to who?

What is world class public transport system? My immediate response is to look at the best, the most efficient, the most comfortable and the most customer friendly, ignoring the cost for the moment. What comes into my mind is SIA first class or first class in the bullet trains. Plush upholstery, pretty hostesses, service with a smile, tender loving care, and a lot of room to move around, read the paper, a lot of fresh air to breathe, and getting to your destination on time. What is the Minister's definition of first class? More people using it. A preferred choice of transport. Quite brief but could encompass efficiency, fast, clean, comfortable etc but one thing to exclude, be prepared to be squeezed. The capacity must increase as most of the trains are not travelling in full capacity. Now what are the views of operators of public transport on being first class? Efficiency, fast and maximum capacity are the key words. Forget about comfort. They have just removed many seats to increase capacity. And they want the train to be 100% full at all time. Now what does this 100% mean? Cheek to cheek? Very likely. The current 80% peak time capacity is seen as under utilised. What commuters in Singapore can expect if public transport is indeed world class is a sardine packed, cheek to cheek kind of commuting, and not only during peak hours, but at all hours. What this means is that the commuters must be prepared to smell the unclean, unwashed body odour of the next person. Smell all the month long stale cigarette which a construction worker will not wash off from his uniform. And even the female commuters are not noted for washing their hair and you know what you will get. And there will be more meat in the train than air. And everyone is expected to share the little air in the packed to capacity cabin, exchanging bad breath. And they will have to stand practically all the way. And that is world class public transport system if the operators have their say. If that be so, I would recommend a standard attire for all commuters. Swimming trunks and a gas mask, and a body strap with a hook. And better to make it compulsory. The mask is necessary not only to shield against bad breath and body odour, but as a first line of defence against infection. And commuters better not try white shirt or designer togs. What is the body strap and hook for? To hang the body for the rest of the journey. Beats standing all the way.

in the footstep of the master

Inspired by LKY 'I do not see myself stepping down. I've got to fight the next general election to help secure as high a vote as possible...I am still required by the party to help assess the newer MPs,...And the Govt, the PM, still would like me to play a role,...but also to make use of my international contacts ...and to move into new areas like the Middle East.' The above quote by Goh Chok Tong is exceedingly familiar and anyone glancing at it will think it was LKY. The student has learnt well.

11/18/2006

Many Singaporeans don't pay tax?!

Why is it that people are saying this? Many Singaporeans don't pay income tax. But tax is what every Singaporean pays. Even the unborn babies pay tax. The jobless uncles and aunties in the aged homes also pay tax. The ignorant may say that going to govt hospital is free because no need to pay cash. Just pay by CPF. But many educated and highly educated people in the MSM and cyberspace are saying the same thing. Unbelieveable! The GST is a consumption tax. As long as one consumes, one pays tax. The lower your income, the higher the percentage of tax you have to pay. If one has negative income, one pays tax in the exponentials. Imagine how much tax an unborn baby has to pay for all the pre natal care in percentage terms. The truth is that the poor Singaporeans pay the most tax relative to their income. It is the rich Singaporeans that pay the least tax in percentage terms.

like hell, complain you must

Is it wrong to complain? I am specifically referring to complaining about the govt? Why shouldn't the people complain or why should the govt complain that the people complain? I have no complain about anyone who does not have anything to do with me or does not do anything that affects me. I only complain about people or organisations that mess up my serenity. The people have all the right to complain when there is too much govt. When the govt's actions and policies affect the life of the people, it is only expected that the people should stand up and said I don't like your fingers in my pocket or on my back. And when policies are unfavourable or hurting the people, the govt cannot expect the people to just shut up. Or does the govt really expect that to be the case. What is more unacceptable and deserving of complaining is when the govt mess around with your life in areas that is considered private and confidential. Your private life, your family, your property and your money are yours. No one shall trespass if not invited. And if the govt insists on intruding into these areas without your permission, like hell, complain you must.

11/17/2006

brutal truth in malaysia

At the Umno General Assembly: Will it boil down to 'them versus us'? 17 Nov 2006 Wan Hamidi Hamid -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Is the show of strength and bluster by Umno delegates going to have a lasting impact? From Monday till yesterday, most of the party delegates who took to the rostrum, made it known publicly that the Malays would no longer tolerate any form of threats. It was a strong message: Don’t test us or else... Many speakers accused leaders of Barisan Nasional component parties of questioning the Malay rights while almost all blamed the Chinese business community for "taking more than what they needed". The tone, set by Umno Youth, continued yesterday. Malacca representative Hasnoor Sidang Hussein reminded party loyalists that the time had come for the Malays to act against those who undermined the Malay rights. "Our tolerance... made those who dared to challenge the Malays and Islam become bolder as they felt no action would be taken against them." Most delegates used the term "Malay rights" interchangeably with "Malay dominance" and "social contract". At the end of the debate on economy and education, Perlis delegate Hashim Suboh was more explicit in showing off his anger against the non-Malays when he put a rhetorical question to Education Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein: "Datuk Hisham has unsheathed his keris, waved his keris, kissed his keris. We want to ask Datuk Hisham, when is he going to use it?" The above is an extract published in the New Straits Times. It is good that the Malay politicians expressed what they really feel and wanted to do. Honesty is always good. No need to pretend, no need to feel shy about gut feelings. If they think it is time to kill the non Malays, go ahead and do it. It is their right, and just claim that they were all running amok. Now after hearing all these threats to their lives and safety, where would this leave the non Malays? Is Malaysia their home? Is Malaysia safe for them? Would they appeal to the United Nation for protection? Or would they continue to blame Singapore and even dispute LKY that there is racial discrimination in Malaysia?

Leong Sze Hian, what is your problem?

Leong Sze Hian, what is your problem? I refer to the article 'HDB rents to be phased in over two tenancy renewals' (ST, Nov 13). It states that 'existing tenants will be given three months' notice of their new rent before their current tenancy is up'. According to HDB's press release 'More help for those who need rental flats', from 1st March 2007, one-room tenants who rented HDB flats before 1st October 2003, with household income from $801 to $1,500 will pay 30 per cent of market rent, instead of the current 10 per cent, at the second renewal. Tenancy renewals are on a two-year term tenancy. This is a three-fold increase, from the current $26 - $33 to about $78 - $99. For two-room tenants who started renting after 1st October 2003, with household income from $1,501 to $2,000, their rental will increase from the current 30 per cent of market rent to 50 per cent, from the first renewal. This is an increase of 67 per cent, from $123-$165 to $205- $276. From 13th November 2006, new $800 and below household tenants who have previously sold one subsidised flat in the open market (i.e. second-time households), will be charged 30 per cent of market rent, instead of 10 per cent, an increase of 200 per cent. For $801-$1,500 households, they will pay 30 per cent and 50 per cent of market rent for first-timers and second-timers respectively. Obviously Leong Sze Hian did not read the reasons given by Mah Bow Tan to adjust the rentals for these flats. Two reasons actually. The first is that the tenant of subsidised rental flats must not be allowed to abuse the system. And when their salary increases, they should pay more. Secondly, by making them to pay more, it is for their own good. This is a way to nudge them into becoming flat owners instead if renting flats. Now the problem is that this increase plus the increase in GST will be going to be a big hit to these lower income earners.

youth reporting

I was enthralled by the quality of the student reporters on TV. Occasionally we could see the news broadcast divided into two sections, the adult news presentation and the young student news presentation. And they were good, equally objective and factual and professional in their news and presentation. And these school children have all the latest gear, and have been trained under professionals from the media industry. Some even went on overseas stint to experience what on the spot reporting is all about. I have seen them reporting from Beijing. Now this is the most revolutionary trend in Singapore. The essence and freshness of youth. And Media Corp should be given an award for being the Most Forwarding Looking Media Organisation. This children reporting is not kid stuff. It can be for real! After all, reporting in Singapore is factual presentation of news and events. And these kids would just do that in its purest forms. No need to waste expensive resources to send brilliant scholars overseas to expensive and ivy league universities, and to pay them the salary they should be commanding if they can be replaced by young children. Why not, if reporting is just plain reporting. No need much analysis. Or analysis not required. Media Corp would have a huge saving in wage cost as children would not need to be paid that well. And quite easily to manage compare to oldies. And they have all the energy to run around gathering news. What an interesting development.

Call for Unconventional NMPs in Parliament

Call for Unconventional NMPs in Parliament I am still yawning and musing over the excitement that this call will bring. And as usual, there is no lack of support and enthusiasm from all quarters. We need a more colourful Parliament to hear voices from all corners of the population. It sounds like a good idea. Now I have heard of suggestions that the disabled needs to be represented, preferably by a disabled person, a blind or mobility impaired person will be ideal. The athletes too need to be represented. A string of footballers' names came to my mind. And the grey population must be represented. Oh oh, are we going to reverse the trend and bring the old hags into Parliament again? But my creative juices are running, and I would like more unconventional NMPs to come from the people they represent. We need one 18 year old to represent the young, a bak kut teh hawker to represent the foodcourt. A meesiam seller will do if can't find the other. Taxi drivers need to be represented, and bus drivers too. What about the housewives? They missed out during the last progress package. And the beggars in the street corners surely need to be represented. There is a beggarchief in YPAP forum that could fit the role. And the buskers. Now for a little change. Parliament needs to be renovated. Maybe even relocated to the National Stadium. But some more urgent things would be to make Parliament friendly to the handicaps. Braille sets must be available, passages for wheelchairs. And yes, the beautiful metal studs that lined MRT stations must be fitted in Parliament. We can invite Gus Dur to try them first. We will then have a great Parliament that truly represents the people from all walks of life. Or create a Senate and they be all addressed as Senators. Is there any merit to such a call? Is Parliament missing something that such a call will come at this time? Why did all these different groups feel that they need to be represented by their own kind? Ok I am now fully awake. Nice musing, but hopefully Parliament is not transformed into a circus or HDB void deck.

11/16/2006

steve job said

"Your time is limited, so don't waste it living someone else's life. Don't be trapped by dogma - which is living with the results of other people's thinking. Don't let the noise of others' opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary." Steve Job

fund expenses from income, not taxes

My challenge to the govt is to cap the tax rates at the current level, stop all the formula of profit first on essential services and finance its growing expenses from investment income. We have more than a hundred billions in GIC and Temasek each. And it was claimed that GIC's profit is 8% while Temasek is 18%. These combined will give $26 billion annually. If they can grow on these two mammoth organisations they will not have to raise taxes continuously on the people. GST and raising wages will only erode our competitive edge in a globalised economy. There is no magic formula that you can raise wages and GST and think we can compete with the world. Our shopper's paradise will be overtaken in no time. Our workforce will go the American and European way. We will price ourselves out of the market. We have to grow out of the rich kid mentality. Working, earn a salary and still dipping into the parents' pocket. The rich kid must grow up and earns his keep and if he wants to spend more, he just have to earn more. Not stretching out his hand to ask from the parents.

the magic of GST

I think either we are entering a phase of creative thinking or creative accounting on a national level. And I must say that the ordinary people need to be very creative and ingenius to break down all the old ideas and concepts and to embrace all the new thinkings. We need a new curriculum on National Education to educate the people on what is good for them. The GST increase is good for the poor and the lower middle income. Today Teo Chee Hean said that it is also good for the middle income and higher income groups because they can expect higher pay rise. This I definitely believe. Just a 5% or 10% pay rise will not only absorb all the 2% GST but will also be enough to go for a few more holidays. Now isn't this GST a magical formula? It is good for the low income, lower middle income, middle income and higher income. Actually it is good for everyone. Now why are the people so angry, so frighten and so delirious over such a good thing? And one thing for sure, we need not worry about competiting with other countries on labour cost. We are going to raise our labour cost, and wages are going up. Now the 4 million smiles are going to come true. Good times are here.

11/15/2006

myth 93

'Raising GST is bad for the people' According to Hsien Loong, raising the GST by another 2% will help the lower income Singaporeans, make their lives better and close the income gap. So raising GST cannot be bad for the people. Singapore has found another great formula on how to improve the lives of its poorer citizens through higher taxes. I am so fascinated by it and can't wait for the secret formula to be revealed.

The devil to the rescue

The devil to the rescue Below are some extracts from the Daily Telegraph, UK. 'In his speech at the Guildhall last night, Tony Blair presented the outline of his plan for a new settlement in Iraq....Iran and Syria would be offered privileged status in resolving the future of Iraq, even though they have previously been regarded as serious obstacles to peace in the Middle East, and in the case of Iran, the most prolific sponsor of terrorism in the West.' Aren't Syria and Iran two of the three Axis of Evil? My god, I have heard of sleeping with the enemy. Now it is sleeping with the devil! Blair must have rubbed off something from Bush.

independent directors need to be independent

Independent Directors need to be independent The issue of Independent Directors and corporate governance is in the headline again. It will continue to be a problem if there is no political will to make sure that independent directors are really independent. The existence of independent directors is in conflict with their appointments to company boards. Why would companies want to appoint independent directors to watch over them? They would all go for compliant or friendly directors that will not rock the boat. What is badly needed is for an independent body to appoint independent directors to company boards, independent from the companies. I have proposed this and even volunteered my service to SIAS. My suggestion to David Gerald is to seek MAS or SGX authorisation for SIAS to be the independent body for this role. SIAS has all the reasons to ensure that independent directors are independent and will look after the interest of the companies and minority shareholders' interest. I am still available to take on this task if there is a real interest to pursue this concept. I have been waiting for almost two years on this matter. And things are getting uglier by the day.

singaporeans to celebrate increase in GST!

Lower Income Singaporeans can celebrate rise in GST! The main reason for this increase in GST is to help the lower income Singaporeans, to close the income gap, to make their lives better. For closing the income gap, this can be simply dismissed. It is hardly a drop in the ocean. Forget it. There are 330,000 Singaporeans earning less than $1500 a month, bearly making ends meet. I believe this is the group that will be helped most. There should be better off because of the GST. This is the first time that some Singaporeans, or the lower income Singaporeans can celebrate on a rise in GST. How can they benefit and be better off? Assuming they spend every cent they earned, all $1500, which is very likely, a 2% increase means they will need to pay $30 more per month on their consumption. All things being equal, the govt needs to reimburse them $30 just to break even. For them to benefit from the GST increase, the sum to be given to them must be more than $30, maybe $50. This is hardly going to make a difference to their lives as money is hardly enough. Most are living on a monthly deficit. A more decent sum should be $100 a month. This may help them a little to cover some of the debt or things they have been skimping on. At $100 pm for 330,000 Singaporeans, this will work out to be $1200 x 330,000 or $396 million annually for as long as the 2% GST is in force. For the GST can only go away if it is cut. If not, they will have to bear the burden of this increase for the rest of their lives, an increase to make their lives better. The problem is the lower middle income group, maybe another 500,000 Singaporeans in this category. Say they be given the same amount, that will come to $600 million. If the total collection is $1.5 billion, there will still be a surplus of $500 million to go around. Now, will the lower income and lower middle income benefit from this GST increase? This just sounds too good to be true. What is the catch?

11/14/2006

straw that breaks a camel's back

If there were to be anything that can break the camel's back, it will be this 2% GST. And it comes at a time when many people are sceptical that their lives are turning better. I dunno who advised for this move, it is an advice that will lead to tremendous ground shift.

gst to the rescue

Just a few days back, Low Thia Khiang proposed for more assistance for the poorer Singaporeans. This was shot down by Vivian who challenged him that if going the Low Thia Khiang way the country would go bankrupt. Last night Hsien Loong said we must give more help to the poor Singaporeans or they would be left behind by globalisation. And Hsien Loong was not worried about bankrupting the country. Well, with all the GLCs and Temasek companies registering great profits, with our foreign reserves hitting new high, and with great returns from investing them, surely we have plenty of money. And the economy is having a great run. This is the best time to help the poor. And we can also change the definition of earnings to include capital gains. There you are, we will have a lot of money to help the poor. Still not enough, no problem, raise GST. We just need to be creative, if we need to spend more, create more. How can we ever bankrupt the country if we think a little and spend within our means? Without raising GST we may not have enough money to help the poor. And only the poor needs to be helped. We cannot raise GST to subsidise the rich, especially those earning half a million or more. No more pay rise for them. Oops, payrise is not subsidy. Must give them the pay rise they deserved or they will not work or will migrate. I think 10% will do.

11/13/2006

dark cloud over parliament

I could see all the disturbed faces when Hsien Loong announced 2% increase in GST after the news programme. To announce the increase at this time just didn't sound right. When I look at the expression of every MP in Parliament today, all their expressions told a very different story. The only person who was optimistic and full of enthusiasm was Hsien Loong. For the rest, the glum on their faces was the best answer to what were in their minds. Even the newscaster Hwee Goh's expression was anything but convincing that everything was fine. A dark cloud seemed to have hovered over the whole Parliament. The forummers in cyberspace would have a lot of theories to shout about.

What is this hoohaa about welfarism?

Welfarism seems to be a taboo word. Everyone is so frighten of it as if it is leprosy. But are we talking about welfarism when we ask for the surplus of reserves or profits from investing the country's reserve to be returned to the people? The money belongs to the people. The capable people managing the reserves are managing the people's money, not someone else money. There must be a formula to return some of these profits back to the people. Or else where or whose pocket should the profit go to? More mega projects? Let's give back the money to the people who needs them instead of upgrading of parks and beautifying this and that. A couple of hundred bucks maybe worthless to the have's but mean a lot to the have nots. And returning profits from investments to the people is not welfarism. They get a share of the nation's wealth which they are part owner, and only from the profits. Not a permanent feature where the people can demand for it regardless of profit or loss. It will make more sense for the people to feel and share the wealth of the nation than just seeing the money grows and big fat bonuses being paid out to the managers while they get nothing.

Preparing for the inevitable

This is one of the title in the Today paper on Khaw Boon Wan's crusade to clean up the messy health care system. He talked about the problems of the ageing and dying and about the insurance scheme. He is again working very hard. But I am terribly worried when he said this in response to the query on the small payout of insurance schemes on hospitalisation fee. 'I hope of offer more diverse insurance plans...Many have told us that for a payout of $300 per month for 60 months, they would rather self insure. Clearly they prefer higher payouts and I presume they are willing to pay higher premiums.' Who are they? Who are these rich they? Please don't presume too much. Is preparing for the inevitable also means higher premium is a sure thing to come, and mandatory?

the complaining culture

Complaining is a Singaporean culture. It is in their blood. The people only know how to complain. From the internet, the man in the street, the elite and in Parliament, we all complain. And we don't even know that we are complaining, unless we prefix it with the words, 'feedback.'

the poor had it (part 2)

The poor had it (part 2) In the first part I wrote about having to pay more when a commuter did not have the exact change. There is another ruling which many have forgotten but I am not sure whether it has been amended. This is related to bus cheats. There are bus cheats and there are careless or absent minded commuters. Some will deliberately forget to flash their EZ link cards, some exit early to pay less and some simply forget. Let's not discuss the cheats as they will have to pay a heavy fine, even jailed, if they are caught for cheating a few cents on bus fares. The moral of the story is to cheat more, in the millions, and in style, if one wishes to cheat. Then one can still be respected as a talent. Poor commuters should not try to cheat. Ok my point is that if a commuter forgets to flash his card on leaving the bus, he will be charged the full fare from depot to depot, I think. I am not too sure about this. But definitely more than the actual fare if he has flashed exit. So if he boards a bus at the second last depot, flashes the card in but forget to flash out, he may have to pay the fare from one end to the other, the maximum fare. In short, the commuter has to pay more. But he has the option of writing in or explaining to the transport operator, at some office in some corner of the island which would probably cost him more than the over charge if he bothers. Many don't bother as it is not only tedious and troublesome, but more costly. So the poor commuters will have to pay more for a mistake, or forgetfulness, with no intent to cheat. What happens when there is a system error or card reading error? I am twiddling my thumb. Who pays for the error?

what's the problem?

[b]'At the end of the day, we may have superduper GDP growth but if much of that growth is creamed off by foreign-owned MNCs or just by a small group of large companies or only the already rich, then what is the point of all this GDP growth?' Manu Bhaskaran[/b] Is that a problem? If it is, blame it on globalisation. No super talent has the answer to such an impossible problem. If I am the rich and benefitting from it, why should I come out with a solution that will make me less rich?

11/12/2006

haze ransom will travel

A ransom that will not work Indonesia said it needed US$60 million to solve the haze problem. And it is contributing US$50,000 to an Asean Haze Fund. Singapore also pledged the same amount. Immediately we can see the farce of the whole game. It only gets more hazy by the days. Now Singapore wanted the whole world to come in as it is as clear as the haze is hazy that any anti haze effort without the US$60 million ransom will not work. And US$60 million is only the beginning, the initial asking price. Hopefully some countries, for political reasons and goodwill, may want to throw in another few pennies to the cup. China, Japan and the USA may have to behave and give a token support for goodwill. And Malaysia may contribute more as blood is thicker than water. Maybe eventually they will get US$10 million for starting the fire and causing the haze and for some token effort to douse the fire that they started.

Talkingcock.com facing tough competition!

I took a peep at Talkingcock.com after someone told me that it is no longer that exciting. I too have not visited Talkingcock for a long time. Now with so many people talking cock in this paradise island, where got so much time to read so many cock and bull stories. But when I visited Talkingcock.com, yeah it is quiet. And the articles were dated. Could it be that the contributors are now back in this island and contributing to all the garbage here? I think that could be a reason. Anyway, Singaporeans never have it so good with so many people joining in to talk cock. When old cocks stop talking, young cocks will have their days. Old cocks like me better give way to young cocks. I am waiting for more young cocks to come here and crow. : )

How to learn to love another people...the American way.

There is a Chinese saying, 'without fighting cannot get acquainted.' In order to know and appreciate another person, you need to fight him. And it seems that this is exactly how the Americans get to know the world and to live at peace with them. Before the Second World War, America was quite happy living in its own continent. Then came the war. They fought the Germans and the Japs. Today, the Germans and the Japs were their best pals. Then they fought the Koreans and again the Koreans are their best pals. They even have a lot of Japs and Koreans in America now. Then they fought the Vietnamese, and as expected, the Vietnamese have become great American friends and living in America as Americans. Through all these fightings, the Americans learn a new people and their way of life, culture and even learn their language. Now America is fighting in Afghanistan and Iraq. In another 10 or 20 years down the road, America will be flooded with Afghans and Iraqis. Initially they will come as refugees after the war ends. Then the next phase will be political refugees. And then all will be Americans, living happily under the same night sky and stars. Actually the first group to receive such American hospitality are the African negroes. They are now as American as any White Americans. The group that really missed out on this hospitality is the Red Indians. Maybe too little left to be appreciated. With the impending withdrawal from Iraq, Americans better braced themselves up to receive an influx of Iraqis and Afghans into the Big Apple. And more mosques should be built quickly as surely they will come. Maybe have a few MacAlibaba fastfood Restaurants ready.

myth 92

'I am generous and all caring' I am going to set up a charity with a fund of $10 million to help the needy. These people really need help and if no one is going to help them they can all become jumpers. Now conditions to qualify for my generosity. 1. They must come forward and apply, giving all details of their family background, father, mother, grandfather, grandmother, brothers and sisters, husband and wives and children. And they must bring along all their bank statements showing how many bank accounts they have and how much each have in their accounts. 2. The family income must not exceed $800 or $300 per person. I have worked this out in detail how much one needs to live. 4 packets of instant noodles and 4 packets of 3 in 1 tea or coffee shall make a wonderful meal for a day. That will cost 60c + 10c multiply by 4 meals or $2.80 x 30 days. A sum of $84 a month. $300 a month is thus more than enough. 3. For married couple, must have only one child. With such a high cost of living it is better that they limit themselves to only one child. Otherwise there is really nothing my fund can do to help. 4. They must live on rental properties. 5. And there must be no colour tv or refrigerator or hi fi at home. and no handphone. These are luxury. Computer is definitely out of question. 6. Another condition is that they must be out of jobs for at least 6 months. 7. And they must not turn down any jobs offer to them. 8. Better still if they have IOUs or statements from the loansharks to prove that they are deeply in debt. 9. And when they come to apply, try to look poor and hungry. Fat or chubby applicants need not apply. I think that should be enough criteria to qualify for my charity fund. And if successful, each one will be given $100 a month. This will be given to them on a 3 monthly basis and every case will be reviewed after 3 months. I can't give them too much or my fund will dry up fast. And now it has been a year and my fund is still not utilised. There are some applicants but most of them cannot qualify. Never mind, one day someone will qualify. Anyone want to apply?

Dreaming like an elite

Sunday morning fantasy. Allow me to day dream a little, to feel good that I am an elite. Hmmm, a $50k salary, and maybe 10 directorships. Wow! Bee tang. Can’t imagine the amount of money going into my bank accounts monthly. Each directorship may average $5k a month. More if the organization is big. Well, probably I will lose track of who is paying into my accounts or how many accounts I have. I may even forget to attend board meetings. Or often the meetings clash on the same day and either I miss one or attend one for a while, then pop into another for a cup of tea.

Now that is life. And got bonuses and increments annually some more. Well, they need to keep feeding me out of respect for my position or my talent, or my connections.

Now would I be weighed down by problems? Of course problems are aplenty. So I will need to prioritise them. Only deal with the major problems. Often I will feel very irritated by little whinings and complaints. Can’t they bring it somewhere else for others to solve them? I only take care of big problems and big issues. Haven’t they told them that a captain handles only captain’s problem while every problem going to the major becomes a major problem?

Now better to do a quick check on my bank accounts and bank balances. Should have enough to place a booking for St Regis.

While I am busy looking for another important investment, those leeches better buck up and straighten up their lives. And stop thinking of handouts. It is for their own good. Too many handouts will develop in them a crutch mentality. And soon the company will be bankrupted. Now that will be a real big problem. It will definitely affect my next increment and bonuses.

Isn’t that a nice Sunday morning fantasy?

11/11/2006

myth 91

‘$5000 household income is rich’

Is this really true? It should be. $5000 is a big sum of money. And a household income of $5000 must be middle class. Let’s look at the details. A family of 5, father, mother and three working children, father earns $1,600, mother $1,000, 3 children each earning $800.

After CPF and a $200 monthly transportation cost for each member, the disposable income left will be: father - $1080, mother - $600, each child - $440. Assuming each member needs $200 for his/her personal expenses eg taking lunch or dinner at workplace, the disposable income will be further reduced to: father $880, mother $400, and each child $240. For a family of 5, the household expenses will probably be $1500 plus $250 for utilities and conservancy fees, or a sum of $1750.

Now the combined balance available of the family, $880, $400 and 3 x $240 is $2000. This would mean that the family will have a balance of $250 to spare. Would this amount be adequate to pay for all the social obligations, more bills and a little eating out or entertainment? In reality, it is likely to be nothing left as there are many things that will eat up $250 a month easily.

Is a $5000 household income sufficient to qualify a family as being comfortable? No car or motor cycle definitely. Very likely the family will be living on a hand to mouth existence. That is how the cost of living in Singapore affects the apparently high income of Singaporeans and making the value of money so small.

A $5000 income is quite handsome if it is the income of 1 or 2 bread winners with a couple of young children. If the income is contributed by every working adult who needs to feed and cloth themselves, and also incurring expenses while working, a $5000 monthy family income is bearly enough to live on.

inspired by mah bow tan

After listening to Mah Bow Tan’s plan to build more rental flats for the less well off citizens, I am truly inspired. The govt is now actively tackling the problem of the poorer Singaporeans and to help them. More empty flats will be converted to 1 rm and 2 rm rental flats to solve the problems of housing for the poor. And the rentals will definitely be affordable, calculated with computer precision to fit the income of the poor Singaporeans. This is to prevent the more well off Singaporeans from taking advantage of the system and deprived the more needy Singaporeans of rental flats.

So what will happen is that the household income of the family will be carefully scrutinized not only on eligibility but also to determine how much each family will pay for the rental of the flat. A family with a higher income will have to pay more than a family with a lower income. This kind of micro management to ensure that the poor cannot abuse or cheat the system is one of its kind in the world. It is an obsession to make sure that the poor are managed to every detail of the little money they have. Put them under the microscope. And once they earn a little more, they should be made to pay a little more. This is absolutely fair and righteous. This is equitability at its best. Means testing was not mentioned, but means testing will have to be done to assess affordability.

This principle of paying according to income or affordability is the most ingenious part of the solution. It convinces me that means testing is important and relevant in the Singapore context. Though I have always been against means testing, I am now a convert for means testing. It is the fairest and most equitable way of distributing national resources and be paid according to one’s ability. I would like to see Mah Bow Tan proposing this formula in Parliament to apply to all govt services, including tuition fees in schools and tertiary education, ward charges for hospitalization, utilities, road taxes etc.

And for this scheme to be effective and implemented across the board, all Singaporeans must be means tested. Testing only the poorer Singaporeans is discrimination by wealth and is disgusting. Also, since all govt services and fees are to be paid according to affordability, it is necessary to means test the more affluent Singaporeans to ensure that they pay more for the same govt and public services. As an example, the price of a 5 rm flat should vary according to the family income of the buyer. Or hospital ward charges shall be computed according to the patient’s family income and applicable to A, B and C wards. School and university tuition fees shall be also payable according to the family’s income. The higher the family income, the higher should be the fees. It is the fairest and gracious formula for the better off citizens to cross subsidise for their poorer counterparts.

With such an equitable scheme where those who can afford more pay more and those who can afford less pay less, the govt will be seen as fair and progressive instead of being mean and petty if means testing is only applicable for the poor. I will definitely support such a great scheme.

11/10/2006

Changing Strategy or changing horse?

Changing Strategy or changing horse? While the new PAP strategy is to woo the young, the post 65ers, which is expected given the young being the future, the latest speeches in parliament exhibited a fear of the old. There seems to be a feeling that the oldies have got the message that they are being abandoned and they might form a political party to look after themselves. The oldies were the nation builders, growing up in a poor underdeveloped island, slogged and toiled, and supported the PAP all these years, till today. They are the backbone of this nation and of PAP. Now where to put them? Outlive their usefulness?

chia ti lik also resigned from wp

And now Chia Ti Lik has also resigned. The reason is the curb on internet postings on WP members. I fully support Chia Ti Lik's resignation. And probably Goh Meng Seng resigned for the same reason. They should get together and form a new and progressive party that is up todate with a new technological world. Trying to live the 21st century like kampong folks of the 1960s is sure to dig deeper into a hole to cover oneself up. The internet is the most advanced and progressive and effective tool that a political party in the Singapore environment can depend on. It is only a matter of how to use it and maximise its effects to benefit the party. The problem at the moment is the lack of discipline and to fall into the traps of tauntings by people masquerading as friends or innocent trawlers. As long as the politicians or would be politicians conduct themselves well and with decorum, they must not be gagged from posting in the net. Gagging people from posting in the net is regressive and living in a fictitious world of the three monkeys, covering their eyes, ears and mouths, and think everything is fine. Goh Meng Seng and Chia Ti Lik, go and form your own party with the youth of today, and capitalise on technology and the internet to push your agenda and views. Technology is a friend and not an enemy.

The whiners must do some soul searching

The whiners must do some soul searching Mohammad Maliki Osman, a new MP, pointed out that Singaporeans were whiners and complainers. A little variation from quitters. Name calling is quite fun. For every little wrong they would call up a govt agency to deal with it. He would rather the Singaporeans take actions into their own hands, take ownership of their actions to make the island a better place to live rather than depending on the govt. Why is this so? Why are the Singaporeans all so like dat? Whose fault huh?, so asked robertteh. Who should be doing the soul searching? Matilah had on many occasions complained about too much govt. For when there are too much govt, it is only natural and expected that if the govt wants a hand in everything, wants to interfere in everything, then the people will just let the govt to take over, even their lives, reluctantly or legally. And first thing is to stop telling people what to do and what not to do in bed. Or should the govt step back a little? Return more freedom, initiative and more funds and resources back to the people to lead their own private lives? Now, it is always easy to blame the people or some other people isn't it, especially when one thinks one is now god, in the highest body of the state, to tell the people who is the boss?

help is on the way, 36 schemes!

The poor Singaporeans are so lucky. There are officially 36 schemes or assistance programmes forthem to fall back on in addition to the hundreds of non governmental schemes available. Even if I would like to help to disseminate these information to the needy I will also have problems trying to understand each of them. Now I am wondering how the less able, ignorant orlowly educated Singaporeans be able to benefit from such schemes when they either did not know that they exist, or even if they know, would not be able to understand them. And what about the helpers who are to bring these assistance programmes to the needy or to bring the needy to the programmes? Are they also conversant with these programmes? Or would they need a computer to help them to determine who is qualified for which programme? I will surely need a computer to assist me. After reading one programme I will probably forget everything when I try to understand the second programme. And there are 36 of them! By the time I read all of them I will either go bonkers or havewritten a doctoral thesis.

11/09/2006

public transport - maximise profit or maximise use

The article by T Rajan in the Straits Times on public transport provides a lot of fruits for thoughts. First point is that public transport operators are not happy that at peak period the trains and buses are only 80% full. Imagine if they are 100% full. What a joke! Would those who expect a 100% full trains and buses be willing to ride on them as their preferred mode of transport? Is a world class transport meant to be that way? And hey, even with the under utilisation the profits are quite handsome and they shouldn't be complaining, should they? Another point is this obsession to push for a 70% usage of public transport. Why shouldn't the current 50% be a good way of life? If our road system is able to cope, isn't it desirable for a better quality of life for more people to be able to drive their own cars? In the future it can be a different issue when the roads are so congested because of our 8 million population dream. Then there is this issue of season passes. It was quoted that the common practice for season passes is to price it with a 50% discount. And for a yearly pass, the discount is even more. Now, how much discount is our $98 season pass? We need to develop a world class public transport with the objective of serving the commuters at the cheapest cost possible and not to maximise profits for the operators and at the discomfort of commuters. There was a comment in the article that people choose to take public transport because it is fast and efficient, and comfortable? I did not read this last word. But travelling in a world class public transport cannot be uncomfortable or be squeesed like packed sardines, that's for sure.

too many helping hands

The 'too many helping hands' syndrome raised by Denise Phua strikes a similar cord in me. With so many charities around, there is a misperception that a lot of good things were done to help the needy. I agree that many good things are being done. And also many unnecessary things are being done. And also many improper things are being done in the name of charities. But because charity is such a noble word, everyone with a little time would want to whip this charity horse as a past time. Everyone wants to start a charity, wants to raise fund for charity, wants to build hospitals, aged homes, dialysis centres and whatever in the name of charities. And the govt probably believe that with so many charitable organisations to help, it can let them share some or more of the load of helping the less fortunate. To have voluntary charitable organisations is a very good thing. it allows people who want to feel human an opportunity to show their generosity and shower love and compassion for the needy. But when charity becomes commercialised, it becomes so fake. If it goes on like what it is being pushed on TV media, soon it will become repulsive. A lot more work needs to be done to manage charitable organisations and the belief that more charitable organisations is good. Who knows, tomorrow undesirable characters may jump on the charity bandwagon to fill their own pockets. Maybe they are already doing so without being discovered.

parliament brief

The most impressive MP in Parliament yesterday must be this guy, shit, I can't even remember his name. Oh yes, Sam Tan. He has such a massive memory that he could remember things lucidly when he was about 5 or 6 years old. And political events and personalities too. I am very impressed. And Amy Khor suggested that the govt should start to study and understand the problems and mindsets of the needy so as to better understand them. Now isn't it about time. It is important to really understand why this people would not come forward to beg for charity and alms but to choose to jump. And there were calls to raise the minimum wages. Now that is a bit tricky I think. Can we really raise the wages for the lower level jobs when others can do it at half or less than half our asking price? I thought it would be easier to lower the cost of essential services and products. These are within our control. Make less profits or subsidise a little. No, I am not suggesting killing the goose that lays the golden egg. And to think that people are now rushing to grab at cleaner jobs. Now is that a good sign or bad sign? Is it because people are now so desperate or penniless that anything will do? I am not sure. I don't know their mindsets. But the best part is the bedroom antics. Now things are going to be more interesting between consenting couples behind close doors.

11/08/2006

what bumiputra?

As the debate on bumiputra versus non bumiputra policies hots up and tension creeps in, the concept of bumiputra gets clearer. Johore UMNO is now criticising the concept of a Malaysian race. What they are concerned, according to Abdul Ghani, is that 'The concept is seen as a threat to the Malays and the special position provided for them in the Constitution.' To Abdul Ghani, the Malays must remain the "pivotal race". What is therefore important is not so much the bumiputras or sons of the soil. For bumiputras should also include the orang asli, the ibans, the dayaks, and other native people of Sabah and Sarawak. But they are not Malays and thus should not be part of the pivotal race.

goh meng seng, a little respectability

Goh Meng Seng resigned from Workers Party to take responsibility for the bad publicity he had caused to the party in the internet. It is sad that a new and young opposition party member that has some potential to make it big has to resign for this mess. Actually he should just make a sincere apology will do. I posted this episode here as this is the kind of quality needed from a responsible politician. Firstly when one made a serious mistake, it is only honourable to apologise, and if a really serious mistake, better to resign. The second point that I want to make is that politicians and politicking must be done with some integrity and respectability. Underhand tactics, character assassination, disrupting blogs and forums, making uncalled for remarks and abusing other forumers by planting people in disguise, are all thuggish behaviour and unacceptable. Let's hope that we have honourable people as politicians and political leaders. The respect and integrity of political office must be upheld at all times. And scums and scoundrels adopting tactics of gangsterism should not be allowed even in cyberspace. Whoever that are playing such games should quickly withdraw their members and refrain from such practices. First world country must have first world standard and practices, and behaviour whether in internet or in politics.

how old or when to get passionate?

Michael Palmer says, "Being the lawyer that I am, let me throw in a few qualifications at this point. I do not for one minute mean to compare goverment and the issues of our country with a pop concert. Nor do I suggest that we approach the two with the same mindset. But what I want to know is why are we not as passionate about the government of our country and our country as we are with things like our favourite rock or pop band or maybe even our favourite movie stars? Yes, the subjects of government and our country may be less entertaining but on the other hand they affect our lives much more fundamentally than a movie star or pop group would. So what is it that the latter has to inspire such passion? More importantly, how do we get that same passion to emerge when it comes to issues of government or your country?" I would like to ask Michael when he starts to be passionate about the governing of the country? How old is he when starts to be passionate about this?

our own hero!

Yes, the Time magazine has picked LKY as one of the 60 Asian heroes for the 20th Century. No one can deny that since he came into the world of politics and nation building he has achieved more than many world leaders. He has made his mark domestically and in the world stage. Fortunately Time did not include Annabel as a heroine among the 60 heroes.

11/07/2006

intolerance of lesser beings

Intolerance of the lesser beings. Another case of a young female employer beating up the maid appeared in court today. Such acts of cruelty are now as common as brushing your teeth. You see it or hear about it almost everywhere when there is a conversation about maids. They are so slow, stupid, stubborn, unteachable and intolerable. Such specimens of lesser beings only deserve to be beaten or ironed or to be fed with human faeces. Are we going down the road to monstrosity? This trait of intolerance to the lesser beings, and the lack of humility, seems to permeate across our society. And if we are still not going to pull the brakes, we only have retribution at the end of the road. Survival of the fittest means the strongest have the right to feast on the weak. And when the mighty lion ages, it will be his turn to be eaten. Are we going to see stronger and harsher measures to be given to the violaters of basic human decency? The lesser beings may be slow, stupid or naughty, there is no reason to beat them or iron them or steam them. Just let them go. Send them back to where they come from.

teach the indons the fine thing

Now Indonesia is angry with Singapore for raising the haze problem at the UN. To the Indonesians, haze is a domestic problem. If only they can keep the haze under wrap an not share with their neighbours. Just like smoking is a personal habit, but don't exhale after inhaling as your neighbour will have to share the secondhand smoke with all its leftover nicotine plus your bad breath. (Where is matilah? Please don't tell him I say this.) And Indonesia claims that it has all the expertise which in this case they must have kept it and not telling the world. Lets hope they will use their expertise to stop the haze fast. They must have mustered the skill and concealing it all these years. So generous of the Indonesians. Like kungfu masters. Actually the easiest way is to borrow Singapore's fine formula and the Indonesian govt will be laughing to the bank. Just introduce a fine system and make the plantation owner pay and pay. For the small farmers, a smaller fine will do. Anyway their little fire would not have cause so much smoke. The small farmers are not that good at creating smoke screens.

myth 90

'China is the most corrupt nation' If we brand countries according to the number of cases of corruption and people brought to court as a guide, China is definitely the most corrupt country in the world. Next should be South Korea. And the rest of the world are relatively free from corruption. Singapore can be grouped together with Malaysia, Indonesia and even the USA as corruption free country. There is hardly anyone being brought to court for corruption. Even the NKF case, the legal fraternity also pronounced that there is no evidence for corruption. At worst it is mismanagement. And the few cases of corporate honchos being found guilty in court, these are commercial crimes, like the Enron case. Not corruption at all. In the case of Malaysia and Indonesia, better still. Where got corruption? Mahathir has challenged anyone to prove that there is corruption in Malaysia. So the world is a very clean and healthy place. Virtually corruption free.

11/06/2006

Johore like New Territories of Hongkong?

If only Malaysia is serious, sign a 100 year agreement with Singapore (JTC/HDB) to develop and manage JB Singapore style but with full sovereignty remaining with Malaysia. Let the developers and infrastructure professionals to go in and develop JB into a twin city of Singapore, the same efficiency and security. The tricky part is the law enforcer. The Malaysian govt can be guaranteed of a larger and more vibrant JB with all the features of a metropolis within 20 years. A larger scale Singapore integrated into the smaller Singapore like Hongkong and the New territories. Do they have the will and the vision to want to see that happens?

oldies, you are wanted, in Oz.

Oldies wanted! Below is quoted from Soc.cul.spore. There is a way out for some oldies. The local paper quoted the WA police as saying that they are sending a recruiting team to Singapore. WA is extremely short of police officers. To make up for the difficulty of getting Aussie, they have recruited British bobbies. They now think that Singapore police officers who have to retire at 45 will make good cops in WA with their years of experience. The Singapore system value youth and vitality while the Australian system value experience and wisdom.

can johore become a metropolis?

To turn Johore into a metropolis is not just hardware, cheap land and money. They will need a host of other softwares to get it really moving. They can't one day say you are welcomed and tomorrow say you are not welcomed. They can't change the law today and backdate it 5 years to strip an investor of his properties and assets. They also need the whole govt machinery to tell the investors and vistors that they are welcomed. They cannot have civil servants, police or custom officers making life difficult to foreigners or irritating foreigners or preying to take advantage of foreigners. They cannot have a place that is so hostile to investors and visitors. Investors and visitors bring money to the land. They need to be very sure that they are safe and not be robbed by robbers and govt officers. The investors and visitors need to feel that they are welcomed and not seen as intruding into other people's land.