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6/30/2007

Memories of a property bust

It wasn't too long ago when property prices were driven sky high and let to a financial crisis. Then punitive measures were taken to curb the incessant demand and price increases. It was just a bad dream. Don't bother with it. Now all efforts are channelled to build hi end world best properties and at ethereal prices. Obviously many Singaporeans are not going to be beneficiaries to such exuberant enthusiasm. Several million dollars price tag are beyond the means of many Singaporeans. It is only for them to ogle. Then build all these high end properties for who, for what? Is this the best way to use our scarce land resources? And the profits from such sales and developments, for who?

CPF - A bugging feeling

Cpf is the people's life saving for their retirement. By the ever increasing withdrawal age, it appears to be an elusive dream. Just when one is about to touch it, it slips away again. The apparent slipping away act has led to many wild speculations that there is not enough money in the CPF. But the official position is to keep it a little longer for the people's own good. Hold it back a few more years, and the money will grow a bit more. It is such a nice feeling to know that one will have a big sum of money in the CPF at 90 if the withdrawal age ever reaches that number. For as long as the purpose of keeping the money for old age is still tossed around as the reason, it may still be tolerable to some. What if the retention of CPF is to allow the funds to be used in some mavericks' investment schemes? There is this bugging feeling that the CPF is a cheap source of fund for investment. And the longer it is retained, more funds will be available to do a lot of things. Th0ugh this may not be the case, people's imagination simply run wild. What would be most undesirable will be for people to incorporate CPF's savings into their financial planning. This will be contrary to what the CPF is all about. Investing CPF money should be a secondary objective, a kind of a need to grow the money since it is there. Not to make the funds available and withholding it from the people. Now why would people think that this may be the case?

6/29/2007

Press must not forget freedom and democracy

Anwar is of the view that though socio and economic developments are important, an equally important aspect is the promotion of freedom and democracy. What is the point of having social and economic growth when freedom and democracy are stifled or strangled? Does the press think that social and economic growth are good enough and they can rest on their laurel as long as the people are fed and clothed? When the people are hungry, such needs are important. But after these are looked after, shouldn't the press move forward to a higher goal? Andrew Taussig, a trustee at the UK's International Institute of Communications, commented that 'It would be rashed to assume that there is a co relation between the two (press freedom and economic development).' The Singapore Media thinks that they are contributors of the economic development of Singapore by following the rules of the law of the country.

International surveys - the Bull and the Shit

Washington: Public attitudes towards China are turning more negative in the United States, Europe and elsewhere amid unease about its economic and military power, an international survey suggests. Bush was ranked more popular to Ahmadinejad and Hu Jintao. Islamabad: Public attitudes towards the US and Europe are turning hostile in the Middle East and Africa over its wars and dominations over the Middle Eastern and African nations. Bush was ranked as the Number One Enemy of the Arab Nations and Ahmadinejad its Number One Hero. Hu Jintao and Putin were ranked as the friends of the Free World. The US image continues to take a beating in many parts of the world, according to an anuthorititative poll, the Pew Global Attitudes Project....Global distrust of American leadership is reflected in increasing disapproval of the conrnerstones of US foreign policy. Which survey is more shitty?

2 more CDBs

Is this good news or bad news? From the point of generating income, it is good news. The designation of CDBs means charges for parking and car entry into the CBDs should go up. The prices of properties and rentals should also go up. So prices would generally go up. The economy will get a boost. Net effect, many people and organisations would be well positioned to reap a windfall. For the workers, there will be savings for transportations and travelling time, that is if they can relocate or find jobs nearer home.

6/28/2007

Locals Not Welcome

From ST: June 28, 2007 Is it the colonial mentality or just plain rudeness? I WAS waiting to go into the fitting room at Zara Marina Square on June 22 during lunchtime. A Caucasian lady emerged from one of the fitting rooms with an armful of clothes, none of which she wanted to buy. As the Zara salesgirl took them from the Caucasian lady, she was all smiles and politeness. The salesgirl thanked the lady brightly and wished her a good day. I was next up. Immediately the smile vanished. As she took the one piece of clothing I was holding to remove the hanger, she looked almost annoyed with me for taking up her time. Her face was 'black'. I wouldn't have felt it if she had not treated the person immediately before me so well. Is it because that lady was Caucasian? Zara's clothes are nice, but the service is nowhere close. Veronica Chan Miao Hua I chance to see this letter. Some may feel irated by the behavior of the salesgirl. I suggest that since we are so cosmopolitan and encouraging more foreigners to be here, we should take such an attitude in our stride. Perhaps for shops that would like to cater for foreigners only, they should hang out a sign on their shop windows, 'Locals Not Welcome' or 'Expats Are Welcome'. That would make it very clear to the locals and the locals can avoid them and not become an irritant in the shop.

How awfully wrong

'Even if the man spent only $1000 a month, he would need $240,000 over the next 20 years. And that is before medical expenses are factored in. Would that be enough?' Lim Boon Heng How awfully wrong is the number. Even without taking medical expenses into consideration, he would need at least $480,000, taking into account inflation and the diminishing value of the dollar. The minimum sum, to be adequate, must be raised continuously to $1 million at least. The people must be educated and be prepared for this.

corporate governance and guardians

The issue of corporate governance is getting more attention. One principle that must not be violated, and for corporate governance to be effective, is that one cannot allowed the potential thieves to appoint his accomplices to guard the vault. Any system that allows this is flaw. Another principle is to have people who have a vested interest in the money in the safe to be the watchdog instead of people who are making a living as guards. Guards or guardians too may help themselves when the alternative is more attractive. You can always bribe the guards or guardians.

Zage versus Rasif - what's the message

From the trend of the questioning by Hri Kumar, the Zages should bear part of the blame for trusting Rasif and not taking reasonable precautions to safeguard their money. Though Mrs Zage was not called stupid, she broke down after being asked if it was wise of her to leave her money in trust for a property deal. The moral of the story is 'don't be too trusting with your money to anyone, even an organisation.' And remember what Gerard Ee said? Someone may just helped himself to the money. And this is exactly what happened. And recently we have seen so many cases of such nature. I want my money in my own pocket where I have full control over it. Do not trust anyone with your money. Not even god. The other point arising from this case is related to the Singapore Brand. People have so much faith in our system that they will sign away a $10 million dollar cheque. Would one do it in countries that one have doubts about the system? But if it goes on like this, soon this Brand will become No Brand. Once we lose it, once we lose the trust, it is gone. There is nothing wrong with the practice of depositing cheques in clients' accounts. It is a common practice in the finance industry. Only the safeguards appear to be in question. Are there loopholes? Or is it a case of fraud when parties are involved in facilitating the fraud? Again, don't trust your money in anyone.

NKF story - Efficiency in law enforcement

Am I proud of our system? The latest I heard in the news is that Durai will face another charge for paying $5000 to a non existing company to recruit a senior manager. It is clear that no stone is left unturned in the investigation. After the first charge of a $20,000 cheque, now another charge of a $5,000 payment. Will more be revealed in due course and bigger amounts appeared in the picture. Or is this the trend? $20,000, $5,000, $500....

There was a time, when...

It was just 40 or 50 years ago. Not that long. But many of you may not be born yet. It was a time when the people in this island were mere travellers, merchants, passersby etc. Even the natives were not more than part of the flora and fauna of the landscape. There was no such things as citizenship of the island. We were called subjects as in the English grammar. A sentence must have an object and a subject. That was what was written in my birth certificate. A subject, without the rights that come with a citizenship. And the island was run, managed and control by expats, just like a hotel. yes, we were a hotel at one time. And our forefathers' lives were dictated by the hotel managers. They were allocated red subject zone, blue subject zone and green subject zone to live in. The choice part of the island were reserved for the hotel managers. That is not all. Employment of plum jobs or jobs of some significance were the reserves of the expats. The subjects were at best employed as chief clerks. And the expats would handpick and favour a few of the subjects and elevated them to half their status, which was a great honour for the subjects. And clubs formed by the expats were reserved only for the expats. Locals and subjects not allowed. Don't ever think of becoming a member of the SICC or the Singapore Cricket Club or any of the expat clubs. Those were the days when the people of Singapore were denied citizenship status. And those were the lives of subject people without a country. Do we want to go back to those days and give away our citizenship and the rights of citizenship and become subjects or flotsams once again? Do we want our little piece of land to be turned into a hotel and we be kept out of it?

6/27/2007

another quote for the good singaporeans

"Changes are being made so Singaporeans can have more money when they retire." Minister Of Manpower Jan 2007 Singaporeans are so lucky. The govt is planning for everyone to have more money when they retire. For the mean time, please stretch your dollar, if you have one.

something unbelieveable

ST Forum June 14, 2007 $200 GST offset, but so much more to pay ad infinitum I REFER to StarHub's announcement that it will increase cable TV subscriptions by between $4 for basic groups and $10 for sports content. This is an increase of 17 to 67 per cent. The reason given was that 'the price hike is a natural result of ongoing increases in prices of pay-TV content", without any mention of the GST increase. When I received my GST offset letter informing me that I will receive $200, I began to recall the things that I have had to pay more for in recent months. Over the last 12 months or so, there have been media reports about increases or announced increases in electricity, taxi fares, development charge for non-landed residential sites, refuse collection fees, food courts upgrading and food prices, bus and MRT fares, one- and two-room HDB rental, university fees, Goods and Services Tax (GST), postage, property tax, registration fees for medicines, polyclinic fees, hospital fees, car park charges, Electronic Road Pricing (ERP), Nets charges, ElderShield premiums, removal of medical fees guidelines, plastic bags, hospitals means-testing, electronic share application fee, a second postage rates increase, and now cable TV, et cetera, in chronological order. All these increases or announced increases are not even related to the impending GST increase, except for SingPost's postage rates increase which is 'specifically to offset the GST hike'. With the economy booming, resulting in increased revenue, profits, surpluses, possibly lower costs due to economies of scale, et cetera, why is it that prices can only go up but never lowered, or at least kept level? With the assurance that government fees will be frozen for one year after the GST hike, I hope that particularly those fees for essential goods and services that are not in the 'frozen list", like electricity, taxi fares, ERP, bus and MRT fares, university fees, health-care costs, et cetera, will not continue to rise again soon. Leong Sze Hian Is Leong Sze Hian right or wrong? The latest figure released is that cost of living is up .4% over the last month. And looking at such statistics, even after July 1, the next 6 months' CPI will not be more than 2.4%. Why are people claiming that everything is up? Mee rebus up 50c only, what else? All the items mentioned in Leong Sze Hian's article? Sounds quite fictitious. Something is unbelieveable here. It must be Leong Sze Hian's article. CASE has set up a special section to monitor any unreasonable or unjustifiable increases. So Singaporeans need not have to worry.

No need for CPF

Why is there a need for CPF? Singaporeans have been so used to this concept that even when they lay dying on their deathbeds they will still find it not right for not having money in the CPF. They have this mindset that is conditioned overtime to accept things without questioning. And this stupidity extends to all levels. Can’t disagree with Li Ao. CPF is a saving for retirement. It is money that one sets aside and needs when one is no longer working. When one retires younger, at 55, one needs more savings as one has more unproductive years ahead. When one retires at an older age, the savings needed should be proportionately smaller. And if one is to work till one dies, say at 70 or 80, why is there a need for a huge savings in the CPF? Medical needs? Why should one be so obsessed about that huge hospitalization bill when one is past 60? All of us will die one way or another, sooner or later. After 60 it is fair game. What is the point of having $100k to be spent in a 30 day hospital bill and still alive but no job and no money? Or is this a justification to have $200k in the CPF? Do we need to pay top dollars to idiots to tell us that we must keep on contributing money to our savings till the day we drop dead? Setting aside the need for hospital bills, as one ages, the physical needs for food and other frivolous items will fall. One probably can hardly eat, hear or see and be lying in bed or slouching in a chair waiting for the maker to call. Why should people in the 60s or 70s and working, be made to save more? At 55, and retiring, one has another 20 years to go. Working till 70, how many more years to go? Oh we need to save to live till 90. What crap? There is no need for more contribution to the CPF if one can work till he drops dead. A formula can easily be worked out to determine on a reducing scale, the amount of money needed for safety reasons so that a person can live on his savings without being a burden to the state. The need for unlimited contribution to the CPF regardless of age is silly.

Temasek's purchase of telco is business

At least this is what Sonthi is saying. And his earlier grunt about protecting national assets, confiscating Temasek's assets, was to appease the ignorant Thai masses. "I don't think they did anything wrong. We don't have any bad feelings about that. We still have a good relationship with Singapore." He said. This turnabout, from a hostile nationalistic bull charge to a sensible and friendly approach, would have toned down the temperature a bit. But how would it affect Thailand's reputation as a safe place for investors? Could they turn around again and start their chest thumping and war cry? The policies and actions of national leaders will greatly affect the confidence investors have of the country. Like Malaysia, after all the restrospective and retroactive policies and decisions, every investor will be wary about investing there. The precedence has been set, that they can do anything, to change to laws, to the detriments of investors. Thailand is heading towards this direction. The new posture is a retreat from plunging Thailand into a bottomless pit of no return. It will destroy Thailand's credibility and as a preferred country for investment if the Thai leaders did not adopt a rational approach to commercial issues. Let's hope the turnaround is just the beginning to unwind the damage that it has done.

The pathetic fight against 50c

Jeffrey Law Lee Beng stopped patronising the mee rebus stall because it charged him 50c more for a plate. This to him is profiteering from the GST rise. Didn't he know that all the cost to the mee rebus stall holder has gone up? To expect the stall to charge a 2% increase or 4c more is not only impractical but not enough to cover all the other costs. The stall holder is not only affected by the cost of his material but also cost of his livelihood. His rental, medical, children education, transportation, practically everything has gone up. He needs to earn a little more to make his living manageable. Now what is 50c? I am sure it is affordable. This is another way of looking at the current situation from one whose pocket is stuff with money.

6/26/2007

Infidelity or telling the brutal truth?

GST up, all prices up, everyone, or it seems like everyone is unhappy. Really? What is another $2 or $20 or $200? Rubbish, too insignificant to be bothered by such trifles. The truth, yes, the truth is that many Singaporeans are so rich beyond the imaginations of the hardlanders. Life is a bit hard in the hardlands. But out of the hardlands, life is simply beautiful. Everyday is a day of opportunities to make more bucks. And not in the thousands but hundreds of thousands or millions. There are many Singaporeans who can splurge ten or twenty thousand for a night of entertainment. Or writing a cheque for a few millions without winking. That is the real truth. The pleasant truth of the good life. What is your station in life? Sometimes gripping about all the little increases is quite insane when you are in another station when a few millions is nothing, small change : )

The David Rasif case - a parallel

Lawyers for the victims of Rasif, Senior Counsel Harry Elias, 'accused the store of giving Rasif "dishonest assistance" and receiving money "rightfully belonging(to the Zages) under suspicious circumstances. Alarm bells should have sounded when they received the cheques from David Rasif and Partners - Client's Account. The store should verify the legitimacy of the cheques. Should alarm bells be sounded when Richard Yong sold his properties? Should those involved in the transactions raise the alarm?

From watchdog to watchtower

Or from watchdog to guard dog, to pet poodle? At a media conference held yesterday, a Bangladeshi journalist called for the media to take a different role, that of a watchdog to a watchtower. What a joke. He should be more realistic and pragmatic and take the advice of Patrick Daniel of SPH. Patrick said he made 'no apologies for being pro Singapore.' He said, 'We have grown and prospered along with the city state. We have willingly played a nation building role.' He added, 'We have a good sense of what's out of bound...but the fairways are wide enough for us to produce credible, quality newspapers. Freedom with responsibility does not mean we settle for third grade products.' So our media quality is at least better than third grade. It is either second grade or first grade. Must be first grade. And the Bangladeshi journalist has a lot to learn. For the facts cannot be denied. We are richer and more prosperous than Bangladesh. We are first world. An Indian delegate then questioned if Singapore's success should be attributed to its 'media restrictive regime.' Patrick Daniel did not answer directly but said, 'There are laws and I abide by the laws and I produce the newspaper.' I must congratulate Patrick Daniel for his insightful reply to the Indian delegate. And the call to be a watchtower dropped dead after that, I think.

Landed properties for foreigners

This is the suggestion of Goldman Sachs. And for good reasons. A lot of money can be made as the prices of landed properties are under valued compare to those of privated luxury flats. The seduction of money and instant wealth are very attractive. Many who are sitting on landed properties could instantly double their asset worth and cash out. What happens next? All the foreign funds will flow in to grab up all the landed properties. And soon a big chunk of Singapore's sacred asset will be in foreign hands. The foreigners can own Singapore by default. It is as good as selling off the island. What is the good of money when the land is gone? The Russians sold Alaska to the US. Where is the money now? Alaska is still there and appreciating in value. Where is the money that we received for Christmas Island? We will see whether there will be any fools that will say, good idea, let's sell out to the foreigners.

6/25/2007

nice idea

Congress Votes to Outsource Presidency May 10, 2007: Washington, DC (AP) -- Congress today announced that the office of President of the United States of America will be outsourced to India as of July 1, 2007. The move is being made in order to save the President's $500,000 yearly salary, and also a record $521 Billion in deficit expenditures and related overhead that the office has incurred during the last 5 y ears. "We believe this is a wise financial move. The cost savings are huge. " stated Congressman Thomas Reynolds (R-WA). "We cannot remain competitive on the world stage with the current level of cash outlay." Reynolds noted. Mr. Bush was informed by e-mail this morning of his termination. Preparations for the job move have been underway for some time. Gurvinder Singh of Indus Teleservices, Mumbai, India will assume the office of President as of July 1, 2007. Mr. Singh was born in the United States while his Indian parents were vacationing at Niagara Falls, NY, thus making him eligible for the position. He will receive a salary of $320 (USD) a month but no health coverage or other benefits. It is believed that Mr. Singh will be able to handle his job responsibilities without a support staff. Due to the time difference between the US and India, he will be working primarily a t night, when few offices of the US Government will be open. "Working nights will allow me to keep my day job at the Dell Computer call center," stated Mr. Singh in an exclusive interview. "I am excited about this position. I always hoped I would be President." A Congressional spokesperson noted that while Mr. Singh may not be fully aware of all the issues involved in the office of President, this should not be a problem as President Bush had never been familiar with the issues either. Mr. Singh will rely upon a script tree that will enable him to respond effectively to most topics of concern. Using these canned responses, he can address common concerns without having to understand the underlying issue at all. "We know these scripting tools work," stated the spokesperson. "President Bush has used them successfully for years, with the result that some people actually thought he knew what he was talking about." Bush will receive health coverage, expenses, and salary until his final day of employment. Following a two week waiting period, he will be eligible for $140 a week unemployment for 13 weeks. Unfortunately he will not be eligible for Medicaid, as his unemployment benefits will exceed the allowed limit. Mr. Bush has been provided with the outplacement services of Manpower, Inc. to help him write a resume and prepare for his upcoming job transition. According to Manpower, Mr. Bush may have difficulties in securing a new position due to a lack of any successful work experience during his lifetime. A Greeter position at Wal-Mart was suggested due to Bush's extensive experience at shaking hands, as well as his special smile.

another great quotation

S'poreans need to learn how to stretch their savings: Lim Swee Say What does this statement mean? I think it makes a lot of sense. With 30 to 40% of their money saved, and very safe, in the CPF, Singaporeans should learn how to stretch whatever left that they have. Or else if what they have in hand are gone and money in CPF still very safe, they will have a little problem meeting their immediate needs. But I think many Singaporeans are already stretching their savings, if not an expert in it. When prices are going up ahead of salaries, they will be in big trouble if they do not know how to stretch their money. For those who still do not know how, they may want to ask the minister for some advices and ingenius ways to stretch their dollars.

It is my money

When would Singaporeans start to ask the ministers in public dialogue sessions that the CPF money is their hard earned money and not to be managed against their wishes? It would be nice if they ask the minister, 'Mr Minister, Sir, what makes you think you can decide whatever you want to do with OUR money?' And if the minister says that they have been elected by the people to decide what is good for them during the general election, then the people should accept it as they are the one who elected the ministers and MPs to Parliament. It was their choice, their right to decide who they want to represent them in Parlaiment. Having cast their votes, they have to live with their choices. And for those who did not get to vote or voted against, just too bad. This is the system, and this is our democracy.

Another frivolous pursuit

An 86 year old auntie signed on the dotted line to pay $52k for a slimming regime and her daughters are crying foul. Should they or are they being unreasonable? The auntie is not of unsound mind and wants to look slim and pretty. She was not coerced to sign and pay. She did it with eyes open wide wide. The daughter are complaining to CASE for a refund. Hey, it is caveat emptor. Or should we expect a slimming centre to tell a 86 year auntie that she shouldn't waste her money at her age? Is it the duty of a commercial slimming centre not to sell their products? They are there to promote and sell their products for profit. And if there is no misrepresentation, then there is no foul. Quite frivolous in all ways.

The St John Hospital case

This is simply a case of a CEO being underpaid. so he helped himself to the money to adjust his own pay. All the charity organisations should quickly do a salary review and make sure that their employees, especially the mangement teams, are amply rewarded at market rate. They can chose to peg themselves with other big charity organisations. How can they forgot about how Singapore or Singaporeans tick? Money and more money if they are to prevent such things from happening.

CPF, circular logic at works

Swee Say said, later retirement and extension of withdrawal age is not to lock up your CPF money. And that is the truth. Another truth is that your money will be locked up for another 3 years. I am confuse as to which is the greater truth. And this Michael Chwee said, 'If you want workers to work longer, we must have extra savings...' What is he talking? If a worker is employed to his last day of life, eg 85, he is expected to have a decent income till that day. Why should he need more savings? Only those that are not working and has no income need to have more savings. Once the retirement end is extened from 62 to 65, the workers are working 3 extra years, earning 3 more years of income. So his needed savings should go down by 3 more years. Is this reasoning so difficult to understand? And I am referring to people who are not working and have no income. Many may not be working but still have income. I do not buy the argument that the whole concept of filial piety or to take care of your parents, or just to give them a little pocket money are a total washout. If that is the case, our education has failed miserably and we should scrap teaching such concepts in schools immediately. It is a total waste of time and effort. A big farce. A big failure.

6/24/2007

60 good men and women

To start with, 60 good men and women may be enough to present themselves as a credible political alternative. And it is not difficult to find 60 of them in this little island. There are many highly trained professionals and successful people available to form the core for a good alternative party. There are many who have made a name in the industries and are financially independent to be free from any kinds of threats, including those who are supposed to have retired. If these men/women would to offer themselves seriously to the people, and play the political game correctly, they may stand a chance. For it is not easy to run down 60 good men and women at one go with frivolous accusations. Any wrong move would antagonise the families, relations, friends and associates of these 60 people. And being successful people in their own right, they will have a fairly wide network to fall back on. And they could finance their own political battle or be able to canvass for funds to support their political cause. It is quite easy when the time is ripe for true leaders to appear to lead the nation for a better tomorrow.

Sunday best for frivolous pursuits

What shall we talk about on Sunday? I read about ladies being insulted because they were more than 36 years old. And the reason, they were not seen as useful to attract men to frolic or spend money in drinks on them. And socialites all dressed up to their nines for a night out ended being humiliated in public. Please don't come even if you put on several thousand bucks of hardware on their expensively treated skins. They are not going to waste a couple of free drinks on them. No deserving, past their prime. I am sure the ladies did not go to public entertainment places to be insulted. Then the beautiful below 36s. Would they feel elated that their youth is good enough to be given free drinks? Or would they be equally insulted that the free drinks were given to them as cheap rewards to attract customers to the joints. Were they exploited? Would they not feel cheated? Just for a few free drinks, they are paraded as commercial adverts and they have no inkling about it? All for a few free handouts?

6/23/2007

help yourself

'Whether it is a charity or even among companies, from time to time you would have a case that comes up with someone who helps himself to the money. Ultimately, you're dealing with the vulnerability of the human weakness to temptation.' Gerard Ee Now this is a profound statement from the Chairman of the new NKF. I have been pondering over it again and again and I think I will be pondering over it over the whole weekend. How many people have been helping themselves to the money and laughing all the way to the bank? Then again I am very thankful that, perhaps this island is really blessed that we don't have so many people helping themselves to the money. At least the record shows that there were very few. Maybe Gerard is wrong. Or maybe he is right. Or maybe we are living in an island that is not occupied by humans, so there is no human weakness to temptation. The NKF and the latest St John Hospital case are just exceptions. Whew.

Is it the fault of the CPF?

Let me look at the CPF from another angle and how it could be the source of other ills of our society. Traditionally children were the insurance of old age for parents. And children became a necessary item of all families. They are the provider for the parents when they are old and feeble and can no longer toil for a living. What's that got to do with CPF? Yes, the CPF has become the substitute for children. People no longer depend on children for their old age. They have their own money to look after them. So no need to get married and have children. Does it make sense? Why not? The CPF has unwittingly becomes a substitute and contribute to the no need to get hitch and no need to have children society. Now where have the children gone? Who cares? This is only one social problem that the CPF may help to create. But the CPF can help to get rid of our oldies problem too. When the time comes, when all the oldies have a couple of hundred thousands in their CPF, and untouchable, what is the next best thing to do? Cost of living is extremely high in this little island for the jobless. The few hundred dollars to be paid out by the CPF will only be good enough for subsistence level lifestyle. Why not take all out? Yes, denounce the citizenship, take out everything and migrate to a cheaper paradise. The oldies may find such an option a more desirable and practical way to spend their old age and their life long savings. So the CPF will help to disperse our senior citizens around the world as rich old Singaporeans living out their golden years in wealth and in health. And our oldies and over crowding and welfare problems will be solved. Singapore will be forever young. Is this part of a well thought out plan?

6/22/2007

"Indonesian Parliament rejects DCA" repeat

meds has left a new comment on your post "Indonesian Parliament rejects DCA": We must reject this unfair agreement. singapore, house of corruptor, feen form bastad money. we reject. unfair DCA sumedi, indonesian I received this post in the thread posted some time in May, deep inside the file. Many of you may not have read this reply so I decided to post it here. Hi Sumedi, welcome to the blog. I can appreciate your point. From the Indonesian perspective, they must see real benefits to go along with the DCA. And if they can't, then they should object to it or speak against it. It is the right of every citizen to talk and express their views on issues concerning their country. Otherwise the country will be run without the consent of the people. As citizens, I must say that we do not know the details of the agreements. I believe that the govt representatives of both sides are intelligent people who negotiated the agreements based on the best interests of their respective countries. And that your ministers would not have agreed on the DCA if Indonesia is not getting a fair and justified returns for the agreements. I would not simply run down the agreement without knowing the details. You may want to find out more from your ministers. There must be enough trade off for them to agree. They must have seen enough benefits in the agreements which the public may not know. Cheers

Why complain about working to 70?

I have read some forumers complaining about having to work till 70. Now that is a shame. I would love to work until 100. I am craving, and crazily in love with work. But I have a little problem. Can someone please offer me a job that pays $1 mil? Never mind $500k also can. I promise you that I will be the most happy worker and will not give anyone any problem. And the cpf can do anything they want with my money. Withdrawal at 100 years also can.

GST increase no longer an issue

According to Sue Ann Chia, the 2% GST increase apparently is not turning out to be a political hot potato. Now is this good news or bad news? I think the people will find the 2% increase not that painful. But what is hurting them will be the other increases that are not related to the GST increases, and much much more than the affordable 2% increase. Now why are there so many increases and in double digits? These are what that will hurt the people's pockets.

KL putting more men to police JB

More men, patrol cars and police stations to be set up to control the rising crime rate in Johore. Najib had told the Cabinet that he wanted immediate actions from the police and the Minister of Internal Security to fight the crimes in Johore. That is what KL wanted. That is what the govt wanted. What if there is a second agenda by a different group that wanted to perpetuate the crimes? What if this group has a stronger influence on the ground and has the ears of the police and the police chooses to look the other way? The pattern of the crimes committed recently tells of a sinister plot. I may be imagining, but I can't help imagining after reading the reports from the victims. And if there is really a sub plot in the hatching, all the additional men and patrol cars may not mean anything. I hope I am wrong.

nkf story - is it over or not over?

Thomas Koshy wrote about the closure of the NKF saga with the jailing of Durai. He questions whether witnesses in court who flip flopped in given evidence should be charged for perjury. The case of David Tan was a glaring example that prompted many questions to be answered. Would the NKF saga spawned another saga? I think there is a bigger saga about the whole case. Or there are many sagas that the people are watching. Many are very cynical about the whole saga and how the events developed. But many are not saying anything except behind closed doors. It is better not said and not heard and pretend that everything is alright. All settled and forgotten.

number one is relative

I posted about the world number one civil service that we have the other day. It is indeed number one in many areas. But sheeples are still sheeples. They take orders, implement to the best they could, without questioning the rights or wrongs of their policies. They are easily managed and controlled to do the works they are expected to do. Recently we have Ngiam Tong Dow standing up to question some of the govt policies. Sounded damn enlightening and refreshing. But sheeples are still sheeples. No question when swimming in champagne. It took so many years when the smell of champagne were gone and forgotten before he regained his questioning ability. The CPF issue is a case of great concern. Doesn't the civil servants know that it is the people's money and the people has a right to decide what they want to do with their money. And the civil servants may not be questioning, but this does not mean that they cannot think and understand such a basic issue. They are our brightest and it is insulting to think that what we can see they can't. Would any of them be brave enough to stand up and tell the minister, 'Sir, the CPF money is the people's hard earned money. It is the people's property, asset. We cannot suka suka decide for them how long we want to keep their money and how much we want to return to them. This if fundamentally not right. We are violating the right of the people to their money even if we pass a legislation in Parliament to allow us to manage their money anyway we want.' If only our civil servants have the conscience and righteous mind to tell the ministers that they cannot go on with policies that are fundamentally wrong, then we can really say they are the best in the world. The civil servants must work for the interest of the people. The Ministers may also think that they are working for the good of the people. The intention may be good. But the end does not justify the means. The people's money is the people's money. No two questions about this. When would the civil servants stand up and say something about this? If it is money taken from the national reserve, the people will not have any say as to how the govt want it to be distributed.

6/21/2007

have faith. don't jump the gun

I visited the YPAP forum just now and read the several harsh statements against Boon Heng's suggestion to raise withdrawal limits. I think it is unfair for these peasants to jump to conclusions before hearing Boon Heng out. His suggestion is carefully thought out, after spending 6 days in Japan with his team of experts to look into the aged problem. He did not shoot it off his mouth without thinking. The peasants cannot assume that a multi million dollar minister will do that. And the problem of the aged is very intricate and needs a thorough understanding of the complex issues around it. Of course the peasants will just shoot it off their mouth. Give the minister some time. In 5 or 10 years time the peasants will understand how well thought out the solutions were. Have faith.

japan to learn from singapore

Japan to study Singapore's pension and CPF scheme Heard, not sure if it is true, maybe dreaming, that Japan will be sending a high level delegation to study our CPF and 3M schemes. They have admitted that their scheme is a flop and they are very impressed with our innovative schemes. Kudos to Singapore. We are the light to show the way to a brighter future.

i am dreaming

I am dreaming that one day a govt will be elected and say 'Here is your CPF money. You can take it back at 55.' And the govt is setting up a retirement fund from its surpluses/reserve to provide for the needy above 65 years old. Not every 65 year old will depend on the govt for financial assistance. Now that will be the day.

myth 146

Liberalisation is not good The sale of the 3 power plant to private operators have raised fears that the prices will go up soon. Afterall these are commercial organisations that thrives on profit and profit is their only reason to exist. They are not buying the plants in billions of dollars to do charity to Singaporeans. But the management of the power plants have assured the consumers that they have nothing to worry about. It will not affect them. So the consumers can rest and sleep in peace. With assurance from people in high management positions, they must be telling the truth and nothing short of that. Let's see how the charges can be maintained, assuming the assurance means the charges will not go up. Labour cost is going up that's for sure. Rental is going up, another unescapable truth. And oil prices are going up. So how can profit continues to grow? Its elementary. Innovation, new technologies that are more efficient and cost cutting measures. When production and productivity go up and cost goes down, profit will go up without raising fees. So have no fear. It is a good thing.

The solutions oozing out for the aged

The solutions oozing out for the aged Boon Heng has come up with his first gem after his 6 days tour of Japan. Don't withdraw too early to extend the fun or fund. 3 more years before the minimum sum can be withdrawn. And this comes with many benefits. Senior workers will now have the opportunity to work till 65 or 70, and protected by legislation. Their savings will grow, and earn another 3 more years of interest. And they will not squander away their money too early. In a nutshell, their future is safe and sound. I am wondering, why, if they could work so many years more, which means they will have more income than outcome, at least until 65 or 70, depending on when they stop working, these years should be net surpluses. Why should the minimum then be increased further when their non economic lifespan is now shorter? Should the need for the minimum sum be lessen instead of increasing? Or they need to live on gold during their golden years? I know that they burn gold papers.

6/20/2007

yes, we are progressing

An article posted by an overseas Singaporean in Sammyboy Five years ago, if someone were to suggest to me that Singaporeans should always come first, whether with regard to housing, healthcare or education, I would have agreed readily. But as you can tell from my recent posts, I have become more skeptical about these "Put Singaporeans First" instincts. Back in the 1980s, faced with competitive pressures from Japan, there was also a 'Buy America' campaign. Today, 'Buy America' is probably targeted at cheap Chinese imports. But to those of us who are beginning to understand how inter-connected the world is, such efforts are looking increasingly futile, and are in fact detrimental to the people they are supposed to benefit. It became somewhat of a joke when it latter transpired that many made in America products in fact had foreign components. Looking beyond goods and services, globalisation has also resulted in greater movement of people from their countries of birth. Immigration and emigration are on the rise everywhere. I mentioned before that 1 in 10 British nationals actually live overseas even as Britain experiences large scale immigration. Singapore, being a global city-state, is not immune to these forces. I dare say that on the whole, we have benefitted greatly from it. We have many non-citizens (permanent residents, permit holders) working here for large parts of their lives. Many are becoming as Singaporean as you or I. Similarly, there are many Singaporeans working, studying, living overseas for an extended period of time. I am a Singaporean, but I do receive some British welfare benefits because I am studying here. With the influx of non-locally born students or working professionals to Singapore, competitive pressure inevitably arises - as is reflected in rising rents, house prices, transport congestion or university places. Faced with competitive pressure, the natural instinct is to adopt a 'Put Singaporeans First' mentality. There are also those in Britain demanding that welfare for foreigners be cut, and that British citizens should come first. Why should we worry about putting citizens before every one else? Firstly, it has become increasingly difficult to meaningfully categorise people into citizens and non-citizens based on the passports they hold, and conduct redistribution policies that way. For example, many permanent residents have lived in and contributed to Singapore for decades. Many have Singaporean spouses and Singaporean children. Secondly, even if we give the Singaporean priority to everything, healthcare, university education and what not, he or she could easily emigrate to another country after consuming all the benefits (ah big beautiful house and nice lifestyle in Australia). Being open and free means that citizens can easily pack up and leave. The fact that one has to be a Singaporean citizen at the point of consuming taxpayer-funded benefits does not guarantee that it will be taxpayers' money well-spent. Who is a taxpayer? Foreigners who work here pay taxes too, GST if not income taxes. Though it has become a cliche to say that the world has become more open and borders more porous, we still have not really accepted this at the emotional level. Many of you will no doubt disagree with me on this and believe that we citizens should always come first. But I hope to convince you at least that old comfortable assumptions we have will not always hold today. I fully agree with what he said. He is not only a Singaporean with talent, but also have breathed in fresh foreign air. So he can be a bit airy but the talent he showed in his arguments is a gem. We should do away with citizenship and embrace globalisation. This will be a first that we can claim and welcome everyone here as equals to all Singaporeans without distinction. We are progressing, very well towards the day when we can discard the name Singapore and call ourselves international citizens.

Concern over greying

Siew Kum Hong was concerned about the future of the greying population. He forgot that Lim Boon Heng is now looking at the problem full time. There should not be any problem when Boon Heng comes up with his solutions. Kum Hong's concern is that the greying population, especially the rich and able, will find a better and cheaper place to live. They are disenchanted with the life for the aged here. What could they do when the cost of being old is so expensive? And Boon Wan has also worked very hard, together with the CPF, to make sure that the old have money to keep themselves alive, and to feed the hospitals. The best solution actually is for them to take out all their CPF savings and move to a cheaper country to live. How can they afford such an expensive Singapore when they could live in easy comfort say in Sri Lanka or Malaysia? There are many options available out there. There is no need to think so hard of what to do with them. The solution is very simple actually. No need to exercise the brain juice of expensive brains.

World best civil service

The Accenture reports put the Singapore Civil Service as the best in the world. No surprises here. How else could the country run so well and for so long. The civil service is the backbone of the country's development, but often their role was underplayed. There were gripes about some inefficiencies here and there. What's so surprising and difficult to understand about this? Only God will think that he is perfect and cannot tolerate a little complaints. All earthlings are imperfect and will have slips or imperfections here and there that will draw flakes now and then. No matter how good is a system, there must be flaws, big or small. This is the realities of life. Despite all the imperfections, we indeed have a really good civil service.

Selling of core national assets

I greeted the news of the selling of our power stations with jittery. The big motherhood statements like liberation, another version of privatisation, are used to justify the move. It will definitely not affect the consumers. What an assurance. Can any vouch that this will not happen? In the past, all the privatisations were sold as the panacea for efficiency and cost reduction. What happened? Only the reverse. But the selling of the country's core assets is a different kettle of fish. Many disturbing questions come to my mind. Do we need the money? What are we going to do with the money? Buy sick foreign companies at a premium since no one is going to sell good and healthy companies except us? Or is the technology of the power station going to be obsolete that it is better to sell them now? The questions of national security is well answered and taken care of. And the consumer's and nation's interests are guaranteed to be protected. All thought through. The sale will only have benefits. Benefits to who? When all the concerns are addressed and confidently predicted that they will not become a problem, what can that we cannot sell? And it was also reported that the changes will not alter prices. For how long? We will see and monitor this again in a year or two down the road.

6/19/2007

JB, a sad state of affair

Abdul Ghani met the demonstrators who were unhappy with the high crime rate in JB. As usual, he warned the demonstrators that it could lead to unexpected consequences. Now what did he meant by that when what the demonstrators were asking was for tighter law enforcement against crimes? Are the demonstrators going to be hurt instead of the criminals? It seems that there are two kinds of citizens. One protected by the law even if they turned to crime. The other of no consequence to the law even when they are victims of crime committed by the former.

What is Singapore Post up to?

I thought no organisation is to price in the 2% GST increase to the consumers? In his reply to Leong Sze Hian, Tay Poh Choo, a VP from SingPost said, 'As a GST registered company, Singpost collects GST on behalf of the Govt. In this exercise, we would like to assure the public that there will be no increase in revenue for Singpost.' And the 1c increase in postage is exactly 2%. Ok, accepted. And Singpost will absorb the 2% increase for all other local weight steps. 'We will return 1% of the franked postage to franked mail customers from 1 July.' Puzzled, 2%, 1%? Why take all the trouble?

myth 145

Finally David Gerald called it a myth The independence of independent director is a myth. I have said that before and now David Gerald is putting it on record in the media. The mechanism in the appointment of independent directors in contrary to the objective of having independent directors. David has agreed with my suggestions that an independent body must be appointed to provide directors unrelated to the organisation and its management. Only then can independent directors function independently and speak with a strong and impartial voice to self guard the interest of minority shareholders. I have suggested that MAS or SGX appoint SIAS as such a body. David has included included SID and two accounting bodies. I personally do not favour SID or any other bodies. I still prefer SIAS whose members are minority shareholders and have a genuine interest to safeguard their own interests. You need the owners, especially minority owners, to look after their own interest. Never trust anyone else.

We are progressing

We have over taken New York as the 14th most expensive city to live in. The rate of this climb is short of meteoric. From 46th in 2004, we leapfrogged to 34th and then 17th and today 14th. Our next target is Hongkong, currently 5th. We only lost out in rentals. Our public transport cost is already almost double that of Hongkong and our hamburger meal is $1.50 more. Maybe we have already over taken Hongkong as the report was probably based on last year's data. The phenomenon rise in our property prices and rentals is beating all records. If we have not beaten Hongkong yet, we are very close. By the time we are 6.5 million, the top slot will definitely be reserved for us. Then we can tell the world we are number one again.

6/18/2007

Its the fault of the Internet

No it is the fault of the education system. No it is the fault of society. No it is BSE. It is so easy to blame someone else except to see the truth. The Abdul Basheer Abdul Kader incident is an exciting peep into the minds of radicals. Many conveniently point to the internet as the source of the evil. And in Today, Dharmendra Yadav quoted his foreign friend saying that it is our education system. A system that taught the people to think and acquire new knowledge but not to ask questions. What a contradiction. Now why would a professionally trained person like Abdul Basheer rejected all the goodies that he could have, the million dollar salary akan datang, to fight in the mountains of Afghanistan, to die for a cause? Perplexing questions are best answered by simple answers. It is the fault of the internet.

We believe

Segmentation of the Singapore society We are truly unique in many ways. We can even segment the property market and believed that the price spiral in the top end market will not affect the property prices of the HDB market. We also believe that the enbloc sales will be isolated and HDB prices will not rise. We believe. We just simply believe. We also believe that the GST increases can be managed and control with our unique and efficient law enforcement system that small businesses will not pass the cost to the consumers. We believe that all the businesses will simply just charge 2% of the GST and all cost remains unchanged. We also believe that the emperor is wearing his birthday suit, fully clothed.

6/17/2007

Esplanade car parking fee up

Yes, it is from $4 to $5.50 for 4 hours of night parking. A 37.5% increase. Definitely the increase is not due to the 2% GST in July. Or else the Esplanade will be skinned alive for profiteering or taking advantage of the GST increase. For this, the most they can increase is 2%. The justification is because of higher rate of utilisation. There are more demand for the car parks there. Public transport operators should be happy to use this justification in the next round of price hike. The more people want to use a facility, it is a good reason to raise price. And in the case of the Esplanade, they should raise it more. For the comment from the car owners is an innocuous, just a bit steep. Nothing to worry about. And it is also good to know that Chijmes is charging $8, much higher. So as long as a good example is used to compare and justify the higher fee, it is ok. The fees for CTE and other expressways must go up when more motorists are using them. Another good reason is that the people parking in the Esplanade can afford it. So why not. It is affordable.

Another posh doggie restaurant

The dog food were very attractively prepared. Much much better than what one gets to eat in our food court. The dogs are living it up with their owners. Sometimes it is better to be a dog than a human bean. It is good that human beans take great care for the animals they loved. Shower them with gifts, accessories, trinkets, jewelry etc. I can only say nice. Somehow, after reading the article in the Sunday Times, I feel very uncomfortable. I got this feeling that it is very insensitive and a little sick. That's just my feeling.

It is getting nearer

Thailand is on fire. And the methodology is the same as those adopted in Iraq. Little explosive devices left innocently to be detonated to harm the people. In southern Thailand, the use of these devices is now in full blown. And the Thais are having a taste of it with many soldiers wounded or killed. And it is only the beginning. Coming further south, KL just had one yesterday at a bus station. Why on earth KL? And why the KL govt is pointing the fingers at the Thai militants in southern Thailand? God knows. What had happened in KL is too near for comfort. We cannot have such a thing to happen here. It will disrupt the lives of everyone. It is so scary and unnerving to imagine what it would be like. We have to be on our guards 24/7.

nkf story - pointing fingers

Why pointing the finger at the OA? Or at least it seems to be the case. Or at least the OA has felt it necessary to come out with figures to show that running away by bankrupts is a common occurrence. The figure did showed that the number of bankrupts escaping is on the rise. Many of them are of no significance or of no public interests. And the OA also admitted that most of the cases that were caught were due to tip offs by the public and whistle blowers. In the Richard Yong's case, there were no tip offs. The people who were helping him to quickly disposed off his properties or buying his properties did not see anything wrong with the transactions and also should not be blamed. It is just a natural cause of events. People should just live with it and should not read too much into its other implications. This is my view as I wanted to be generous on a Sunday morning. And definitely it is unfair to blame the OA.

6/16/2007

Price increases - No sweat

Prices A relentless spiral Creeping pre-GST price hikes lighten the pockets of Singaporeans. By Seah Chiang Nee. Jun 16, 2007 MIDDLE class Singaporeans are being weighed down by rising costs of daily necessities that seem to show no sign of abatement. Hardly a week passes without a report or two of some service or bread-and-butter item becoming more expensive and biting into people’s fixed incomes. The surge started with condos (one that cost S$1mil or RM2.2 a year ago is now S$1.3mil or RM2.9) and cars, moving to the MRT, buses, taxis, hospitals, polyclinics, mail and utilities. The latest one hit some 750,000 households who subscribe to cable TV. They will soon have to pay S$4 more for the Basic Package – and a whooping S$15 (up from S$5) for the sports channels that televise English football. This has got soccer fans hopping mad with some threatening to cancel subscription, an unlikely solution since cable television is a monopoly run by a single operator. It is also the most important source of entertainment for the Singapore family, which is embittered at the arbitrary hike and the absence of a market alternative. In recent weeks, inflation worsened as merchants jumped into the bandwagon, hiking prices in restaurants, supermarkets, food courts, coffee shops and retail outlets. This affects the budget of every Singaporean but the hardest hit are the middle class and lower-income workers. To put it in perspective, not all shops everywhere are doing it and those that do are not raising prices for every single item in their premises. It is a sporadic, selective practice that depends on the person and the location. Some are reluctant to charge more for fear of losing customers. A stall near my home has just hiked his nasi lemak and mee rebus from S$2 to S$2.20. Across the road, a glass of sugar cane water is up 20 cents to S$1.20. In some places – but not all – chicken rice, the closest to a national dish here, now costs 50 cents more at S$3.50. Condensed milk, bubble tea and Campbell soup have become dearer. For consumers, the worst is to come. On July 1, Singaporeans will have to pay a higher Goods and Services Tax (GST) when it is increased from 5 to 7%. “The price increases look unstoppable and the government is either unable or unwilling to take action to deal with it,” said a retired teacher. In the government’s view, inflation here is largely imported or due to globalisation and represents only an insignificant rise in the Consumer Price Index. The only watchdog, the Consumers Association of Singapore (CASE), has been a relative bystander especially when the perpetrator is the government or a Temasek-linked company. Inflation is not only a Singaporean phenomenon. It is also threatening stronger economies like the US and China, which are considering higher interest rates to dampen it. With an expected growth of 6% this year, Singapore is not spared. But the government’s strong business role and preoccupation with the bottom line are part of the dilemma. There are other official causes. Firstly, the authorities themselves had started the ball rolling when they raised charges for public services like education, hospitals and utilities. Secondly, the government is Singapore’s biggest landowner, owning some 70% of it and thus has a powerful say on prices. Rents in Temasek-controlled commercial and shopping properties have risen significantly. The impact on the retail trade is inevitable. In addition some of these linked companies operate a total or near-monopoly services that limit market competition. “Monopolistic price increases have happened all too often,” a commentator of current affairs observed. “It is time the ministers form a committee to look into government monopoly or cartel collusion to fix prices to ensure there is no infringement of the Fair Trading Act”. What is more worrying is structural inflation. As it speeds towards becoming into a global city with a large number of rich and talented foreigners, Singapore would likely take on a new high-cost structure. Becoming another city like New York, Tokyo or Paris, stirs excitement, but the cost of living is bound to take after them as well. The present predicament may be a sign of things to come. Singapore’s economy is gradually favouring the businessman over the ordinary worker. Some economists think the price surge will eventually settle back when the economy slows. “But many of the basic food prices, once raised, will not become cheaper ever again,” exclaimed a housewife. “We’re stuck with them.” There is rumbling in the heartland where 85% of Singaporeans live. The price hikes of basic goods and services are hurting many citizens with average or low incomes. The government is watching with some concern, although it has so far taken little public steps to combat the snowballing increases. When the GST increase comes into effect next month, the Singaporean pocket will be hit even harder. He will have to pay a 7% tax of almost every product or service, unless an exemption is stipulated. The authorities are dishing out S$100-S$400 a year to each adult over next four years to mitigate its impact. The poorer people get the higher sum. Apart from possible political fallout, the government will likely want to prevent higher costs from derailing its strategy of attracting foreign investment and talent. Already American businessmen have complained that spiralling rents are creating problems for them, forcing a number to relocate elsewhere. Cases of condo rents at choice areas rising up to by 50-70% once a lease expires have been growing, a trend that could benefit Singapore’s neighbours. (This article was published in The Star, Malaysia, on June 16, 2007) Price increases are expected when the GST goes up by 2%. And the Singaporeans should have no problem facing the increases. Thanks to the govt who have the foresight to anticipate the increases and has given several hundred dollars to every Singaporeans in advance. That's thoughtful. For me, it will be more money in the kitty as I will not be spending more than before. I will cut down on my food intake, 1 pack of 3 in 1 Super Coffee instead of 2, go to the barber once in two months instead of every month, use less water, lesser colgate, lesser hair cream. And drop one station earlier from the MRT and walk. It has the additional benefit of exercising my leg muscles. And all these with govt handouts safely in the kitty. Isn't that nice?

Cries for better TV programmes

Did I hear cries for better quality programmes on local TV? Why should that be when great qualities were promised when SBC was privatised? How could that be when greater programmes were promised when the two stations were merged? These people must be joking. I mean the viewers. Haven't they heard of the fascinating and popular super talents and superstars, even kiddy idols that were drawing the crowds of mummies and kindergarten children glued to the programmes? And we have all the TV awards programmes of the past being rerun for the viewers to enjoy their second or third viewing of the Price of Peace, or what, sorry can't remember any of them. And for those who want better quality programmes, they can go to MobTV, with the likes of I yoyo or programmes starring Zoe Tay and Li Nanxing, our equivalent of international movie stars. Those who can afford can pay a little more for cable tv too. I think Singaporeans are spoilt for choice for quality programmes. And Ling Pek Ling of MDA has said that with such a wide variety of good programmes and competition, there is no need for satellite TVs. After flipping through some of the Taiwanese comedies from some Jacky something and our famous, who's that Jack Neo's side kick, and Gurmit Singh, and the gang, Singaporeans are all laughing in stitches everyday. It is a laughing paradise. Only problem with me is that my perception of beauty and good look has changed quite dramatically. A little confession. The only programmes I watch are the news programmes. The rest, can be quite provocative to the mind. Never want to have nightmares.

6/15/2007

What is the Singapore Brand?

Many people crow about the Singapore Brand. I am also proud of this brand. To me it means trustworthiness, reliability and peace of mind. Foreigners have this respect when they come to Singapore to do business or to do whatever. They know that this is a safe place, things are proper and orderly and predictable. The last thing they want to know is being cheated. That things don't work as expected. Now, with some of the negative publicity we are getting, we are hearing Singaporeans happily throwing around the word 'caveat emptor.' Now what does that mean? It means that one has to be careful when in Singapore or when dealing with Singaporeans. And if you are cheated, it is your own problem because you never open your eyes. Has Singapore or the Singapore Brand degenerate to this level when the trustworthiness and reliability are now not a given? And Singaporeans are happily going about it as if it is just the natural course of things to be in Singapore. Actually I should have posted this under the topic, Signs of Decline.

blair unhappy with media

Blair is unhappy with the Media and his criticism is summarised in the 5 areas below. 1. Scandal or controversy beats ordinary reporting hands down. 2. Attacking motive is far more potent than attacking judgment. 3. The fear of missing out means today's media, more than ever before, hunts in a pack. 4. The new technique is commentary on the news being as, if not more important, than the news itself. 5. This, in turn, leads tothe confusion of news and commentary. And the Media's reply: 1. Responsibility for spin, cronyism, sofa government and the fatal misjudgment over Iraq lies with Mr Blair and his government. 2. We hope nothing will ever come of any attempts to place the press under any kind of statutory regulation. The British press is all the things Mr Blair says it is. But it must remain free to be both awful and, on its day, magnificent. Fortunately our media are free from Blair's accusation. Our media does not do anything that Blair accused the British media of.

Declare income to receive workfare bonus

'Singaporeans eligible for the Workfare Bonus Scheme(WBS) must declare their income by June 30 in order to receive their second and final portion of the bonus, said the Ministrhy of Manpower yesterday.' Anyone declaring?

Labour force survey or means testing?

I just completed the survey online and it still took me more than half an hour to complete it. But that is not the main issue. What I find disgusting are the questions. They are intrusive to the privacy and confidentiality of a person. It is as good as a means testing. With the data asked, there is no longer any need for means testing. They want to know how many TVs you owned and what type. Are they going to start a manufacturing plant for TVs? Luckily it stopped short of asking how many marbles I have. But they already know the answer. Two of course. And how many trips I made to Batam? Another lucky question they never asked. How much do we value our privacy and how much can the ministry be allowed to ask in the name of a national survey? Unfortunately, the game is that they can ask anything if they want to. And the law says that you must comply or else.

The disappointing big debate.

I was eagerly waiting for the opportunity to be enlightened by the two learned counsels and their great debate. I thought for once the little earthlings will have a chance to witness the best from the best legal minds arguing their cases in the court of the people. The debate, should it take off, will be fairly judged by the people without any favouritism. I thought, if one wrote a page, the reply would come in 3 pages. And the counter reply will be 9 pages and so on. The issues in question will definitely be given a fair hearing and everyone will become wiser. Unfortunately there was no debate. The match stopped at round one and lights were switched off.

6/14/2007

NKF story - Is Durai a nice man?

I have to address this issue after Matilah got so worked up by my posts. Would anyone say that Durai is not a nice man? He has good look, charm, he is charismatic, intelligent, position and power and a maverick. How many supertalents in Singapore can stand near him and look good? And physically he is simply tall, dark and handsome. He could be a movie star. He must have a lot of secret admirers too. But his being nice must be matched by the company he keeps. He has friends everywhere who admire and worship him. And his friends are not the ordinary illiterate and ignorant Ah Kow or Muthu or Ahmad. His friends are all the who's who in Singapore. Anyone who is not nice and attractive and celebrated will not have such luminaries as friends. And not that he has no friends at the lower levels. All his staff and colleagues were mesmerised by him. They regarded him like god. Then the beneficiaries of his organisation, they will kiss his feet. Now, is that enough to convince anyone that Durai is a nice man?

Just another thought

If I were to buy a few properties, I will definitely have to rely on the expertise and professional knowledge of my property agents, bank officers and conveyancing lawyers to make sure that the deal will get through without any complications. Will I be buying a property from someone having trouble with the law and on the verge of being made a bankrupt? I may, without all the knowledge of how such a situation could affect my purchase. But my property agent, or my conveyancing lawyer will definitely do their due diligence and advise me to stay clear of such properties. That is the least I will expect for the money I am going to pay. And if I will to go to the bank to arrange for a loan for the purchase, the bank officer will very likely not approve of such a loan. And the approval may also take quite some time for such a big loan. There will be a lot of checks and approvals along the way. Buying several properties will probably take several months for all the professional people to do their checks. Would my conveyancing lawyer encourage me to buy such properties even at dirt cheap prices?

6/13/2007

myth 144

Multi tasking I have written about this before. I am prompted to write about it again after reading a letter by a Rick Lim Say Kiong in the Today paper. Rick's position is that employers are using the excuse of job enlargement and multitasking to exploit their employees with additional work but not additional pay. I am always sceptical about the concept of multi tasking. Up to a point, multi tasking works. The underlying assumptions is that the person is able to take on more jobs, can be trained to acquire more skills, and the jobs are easy to do within the limits of the employee doing it. And there is no compromise in quality and details. The problem is that everyone has a limited number of hours to work. Training someone to do 20 tasks does not mean that he can do twenty tasks. His 8 hours or 10 hours a day will mean that he can just do that much. The rest of the training and skills are wasted. Also, in highly specialised jobs where a lot of skills, knowledge and expertise are required, it is ridiculous to think that a person can be equally proficient in all the specialised jobs and skills and mastering them and executing them like an expert at all times. Even supertalents cannot do it without compromising on the quality. Maybe one, god.

Real wage increases by 3.5% last year

This is according to a Duke University/CFO Magazine survey. The increase, after correcting for inflation is only 3.5%. Whose salary is the survey using? A driver or a sweeper? Another problem is that productivity increases by only 1.2%. Such a huge discrepancy is a sign of trouble. This is untenable. How can wage increase outstrips productivity by 200%? It is like someone spending $3.50 but earning $1.20. Something must give.

First Nets, then Starhub

Both have long standing contracts with their customers, more or less tying them down in a way. Then comes the increases. And according to Starhub, this is market practice and the contract allows them to change the terms and conditions. Sure. Can such a practice continue to be allowed to go on? An equitable contract should be one that ties the parties to terms that both agree to at the moment of signing the contract. How can another party conveniently include all the empowering clause to allow it to change the terms of the agreement to his advantage and the other party cannot walk away with it? We have a lot of such contracts being signed. Some may be justifiable, eg long term housing loan that are affected by changes in interest rates. But all these short term contracts, when the variables are quite predictable and can be built into the contract, should not be allowed to have all the freedom to change according to their whims and fancy. This will put the other party at the mercy of the one sided contract. Yes, Case is right this time to step into the fray. Rip Van Winkle has awaken after all the years of sleeping. I mean Singaporeans in general, to their rights and start thinking.

6/12/2007

nkf story - durai the man

Durai face his justice like a man Now that Durai had appeared in court to face justice squarely, the disappearance of Richard Yong will become more embarrassing and untenable politically. It is not only a problem of law enforcement and the credibility of our justice system, it has political ramifications. People are going to ask why and how come Richard Yong could get away. And the questions in people's mind can become more sensitive in nature. For the good of the system and peace of mind, Richard Yong must be brought home to face his just desert like every one of them. I do not know any one of them and am not posting this for personal reasons. It is all for the good of the country and the system.

Potential for xenophobic tension

Today, the current population ratio is about 1 foreigner to 1 citizen. When the 6 million figure is reached, it is likely that there will be 2 foreigners to every citizen. To some who have little contacts with foreigners, it is acceptable, healthy, and good for the economy and even suggestions that without foreigners we will be doomed. For those who have to face the foreigners daily in all his living activities, when every citizen has to fight for his space and the air he breathes, tension is likely to build up and break out. At the moment if one commutes by public transport, there is likely to be more than 1 foreigner, maybe 2 to every citizen. For not all citizens take public transport but all foreign workers and students do. The ratio in public facilities will see more foreigners than citizens. And when the time comes, when 6 million came, there will likely be 8 foreigners to every 2 citizens in the train and buses. And it is conceivable that all the younger, burly, dirty and smelly foreign workers will be seating and the minority citizens will be standing and being squeezed beyond their comfort zone. The current state of affairs in the mrt is that the foreigners are rushing and competing for every seat they can get in the train. There is no differentiation or consideration that these healthy young workers could take the punishing journey standing. They would rather sit. Imagine the day when the crowded trains have all the foreigners seating and all the citizens, a minority, having to stand in their midst. You can bet an outcry to come from the citizens complaining about losing their space and air to foreigners. But for those who commute by the comfort of their private limousines, these are minor irritations that the peasants and workers must bear. It is good for the country.

6/11/2007

IMH in the red

Now this is unbecoming. It is time to relook at the costing and turn this around into a profit making organisation. IMH said it has 1,600 patients with 300 staying more than 10 years. How about encouraging them to discharge early? Its $9 million budget is a big strain. What is the budget of NKF? Or what is the budget for Changi prison? Should we also be worried about the high cost of operating a prison and turn in into a profit making organisation. Maybe they have already done that, with the prisoners working in some capacity. But hey, human rights groups would protest against selling their products. I am trying to think whether it is a problem for the govt to subsidise IMH. Oooh, touching on something sensitive, subsidy or is there a better word for it? Some of these patients, like the chronically sick or disabled, may have families who can afford to pay for their upkeep. Some may have financial difficulties paying for their lifestyle. Hmmm, terminating them, though a more efficient and practical solution, will definitely be unacceptable under any circumstances. So how? Maybe displaying them on TV and extract some emotional juice and sympathetic donations for their upkeep. An exceptional talent is needed to look at how to look after them without stressing on the state budget. How much does it cost to subsidise the durians or to encourage sports as a lifestyle? Living as a mentally ill patient is a lifestyle not of choice. But it is a way of living to them.

Absorb GST - passing the buck

Fair Price, Cold Storage, Shop N Save and Shengxiong are absorbing the July GST increase, albeit for a few months. It would be nice if all the big shops absorb the GST increase altogether. Then the people can save some money from this increase. But can things be so simple. Once there is an increase in cost, the merchants will know what to do and finally the consumers will end up paying everything and more.

6/10/2007

myth 143

Rising cost and prices are bad I think this is a myth. Cost of living going up, GST up, prices of properties going up, rentals going up, fees going up, salaries going up, all these are actually good for the country. Singapore can only be saved when all the costs are up, the higher and faster, the better. You don't believe me? The laws of economics are like gravity. What goes up must come down. Any irrational and unjustified increases will strain the system and the system will break. Then all prices and fees and salaries will fall down like apples.We should quickly jack up all the prices. While we are complaining about having too many foreign talents and workers here and not knowing how to stop the flow, it is starting to slow down. And yes, they are finding it too expensive here to live with the relatively low income vis a vis cost of living. And the shops in Orchard Road will be ghost town if the prices keep going up. Soon people will stay clear of this place. Only the super rich and real super talents will come. And these are the people that we really need. Quickly, jack up the prices and see them fall.

Ban that song

In the Sunday Times column, 'English as it is broken', it tries to explain the proper usage of person and people as often people are confused when using these two words. A person is a person, singular. People is a collective now. So it is proper to say one person or two persons but not one people or two people. It is incorrect to say there are one or two people in the room. It is correct to say one person or two person in the room. So cannot say one people. This brings me to the famous national song of Singapore, One people, one nation, one Singapore. This must be broken English or Singlish. How can we sing 'one people'? Actually English is a bloody confusing language to use. And my first paragraph has me confused too. I begin with 'people are' and then 'people is'. Now which is right and which is wrong. People is a collective now, and is is used to explain the word. The people are friendly, the noun in action. And who says one cannot write 'is is' in the same sentence? Stupid English or Singlish?

Of politics, race and religion

Several JI operatives were detained by ISD again. And the faces are familiar, Muslim and Malay. But this time round there were no under currents by other groups to point the finger at the Malay community. Perhaps the process of educating the people to look at it as a problem not of a community but a few individuals has been a success. Also, this time the area of focus is the Middle East and Afghanistan, quite far away. The attraction in this case is the surfacing of an elite, a trained lawyer, who is motivated enough to give up his cosy lifestyle of comfort and material well being to risk his life in the rough and tumble of the war torn mountains of Afghanistan. Why is the movement gaining momentum despite the claims of success by the western media? Or is the western media's spin just a spin, and the movement is gaining grounds and growing stronger? For those who are reading the western media, the impression is a simple good guys against the bad guys, modernity against backwardness, secularity against religion, the west against the muslims or arabs. And it is very easy to choose to be on the right side of goodness. Apparently if one is to read the Middle Eastern or Muslim media, the picture is quite different. It is a picture of western oppression and injustice against the arabs and muslims, a war of suppression by the west against Islam, a war for control of Arab oil. So, is this a problem of politics or religion, or of race? It seems that it is a combination of all, and economics as well. Control of the Middle East, control of oil, control of media, control of values and control of a people and their religion. But the western media will say no, it is the uplifting of a backward people, a shining light of progress in democracy, human rights and materialism leading the way. The west and western media see themselves as the liberators of a feudal people locked away in time and stubbornly refusing to live and enjoy the life of modernity and secularism. And these people say, leave us alone to our life. We don't need you to meddle with our life and dictate to us your values. And so the fighting and killing continues.

6/09/2007

The Living Legend

He may have come from a little red dot. Some may not have good things to say about him. Some may even hate him. Some may regard him as enemy. But he is a living legend among the world leaders today. No one in the world can command the kind of respect and deference from around the world except him. Not George Bush, Putin, Blair, Mahathir, you can name anyone, none is even close to the presence that he commands. LKY, just saw him in Tatarstan over the news. You can see how respectful and honoured the Russians felt to have him visiting them. And he is Asian, from a little red dot. Not even an Ang Mo. He is at least a head taller than all the Ang Mo leaders today. Whether you like him or dislike him, agree with him or disagree with him, he is in a class of his own. Singapore or the world will take a long long time to produce another man like him.

nkf story - Escape from Paradise - Book 11?

Richard Yong's escape from paradise is not only embarrassing, it complicates things further. He should have taken the Oriental gentleman route and do a hara kiri. Unfortunately he chose to live in ignominy, never to return again. How could that be a problem? What would happen if Durai also thinks of the same plan and got hauled back at the immigration? Tongues will go awagging. How come Yong could escape and Durai could not. Fortunately Durai is unlikely to do that. He is going to take the rap, face the penalty like a man, like a tough CEO that he once was. Again, if he does not appear in the next hearing, would there be a wrath of the people? After all the happenings, people are getting very uneasy about how the events are unfolding. It is giving rumour mongers a lot of ingredients to feed their imaginations.

Singaporean catch phrases

The Singaporean Dictionary of famous phrases, in jest. (To be added on as more gems are discovered) Affordability: It means affordable according to the income of the person saying it. Equality: Some have more rights than others. Or as in Animal Farm. Foreign talents aka Fallen Trash: Not very bright foreigners but can replace Singaporeans on cheaper pay. Foreign workers: To compete with local workers to keep wages low. GST: Tax to benefit the poor and lower income citizens High Pay: Free of corruption Honest Mistake: Free from accountability. A learning process for taking risks. IR: Another term for Casinos Let's move on: Enough. We have decided and no one should say anything more about it. Case closed. Local talents: Only in demand overseas Majority: If 1 million did not vote and 3 voted, 2 is a majority. Means Testing: An opportunity to strip a citizen down to bare all his poverty. Mee Siam Mai Hum: Uniquely Singapore National security: My security, or the security of whoever saying it. Pah Si Buay Chow: Stay on as long as the pay is good. Peanuts: As it is, good for monkeys only. Political talents: The best of all the country's talents. Quitters: Applicable to Singaporeans who can't make it here. Redbeanforum = online rantings in futility? ;P Retirement age: Not applicable in politics Straight As: Above average students. Anything below is average or below average. Straits Times: Tongue in cheek views of professional journalists for nation building. Subsidies: Govt subsidises, the people pay. Super talents: Measures by income Transparent: For me to know, for you to find out. Unemployed - Refers to lazy and choosy individuals. World class. This has many definitions depending on the context. World class govt: Highest paid govt. This is unchallenged. Will appear in Guinness Book of Records soon. World class public transport: Sardine packed public transport. World class universities: Based on the criteria of assessments and number of foreign students and lecturers tweaked to fit to the expected model.

6/08/2007

reloading redbeanforum.com

Yesterday 2000 of my registered member's name were deleted. Wow! Who would want to do this to me? Anyway, I am asking the hosting party to have it reloaded. But I will lose one to two days of my posts there. The hazards of cyberspace publishing.

myth 142

Singapore does not care about its olds This is a myth and must be debunked. Singapore has done so much for the ageing population that we should be considered as one of the most creative in this area. We have made provisions in the CPF to make sure that all of them retire happily with a big cache of cash, at least $140,000 in their retirement and medisave accounts combined. And there are many benefits for the senior citizens like cheaper fares for public transport and medical fees. We have built specially designed flats with grab poles, emergency buttons etc at very cheap prices. And if that is not enough, we may even buy some pacific islands and turn them into senior citizens paradise. Now, not good enough? We even have a minister specially designated to look into the problems of the ageing population. And he is one of the finest and experienced ministers in the cabinet. He may know not much about this field, but he is taking it very seriously. He is now on a world tour to visit the best facilities to learn from them, first hand experience. By the time he is back with all the new knowledge and information and formulas, our ageing population problem will be solved. So no one can accuse the govt for not spending money and effort to look after our senior citizens. Some even got free money, like $260 a month to spend freely. And these are those without the $100k plus savings. It is a good life for the senior citizens. Those who want to work until they die, jobs are aplenty. They can work in food courts or in high offices, depending on their talents.

nkf story - let's be forgiving

Thomas Koshy wrote an article in Today asking many embarrassing questions about Yong's disappearance. And he was being polite, and so are we. We should all regard the whole episode as a Singaporean joke and laugh about it in private conversations. As for the culprits, I sense that there is this great compassion in all quarters to forgive them. So let us all forgive them and pretend that nothing happened and continue to live life as it is. No more funny questions.

6/07/2007

nkf story - another outrage?

Huang Shoou Chyuan wrote a letter to the Today paper saying that the public is justified in being disappointed at how a high profile person like former NKF chairman Richard Yong could have escape the grasp of justice. Am I sensing another outrage by how events are turning out? S hould the people responsible be responsible? I think not. This kind of things don't happen everyday and it is only human to err. Just like the case of Cityspring, we are very new to such games. Even if Durai did not return will be a non issue. Never mind, let's move on. Super talents and super pay and making little slips are not related. There are more important things to do and take care of.

To each his own

Singapore Incorporation is slowly disintegrating. I can sense that there is a lack of concern, anxiety, taking ownership or appreciation of how one arsehole can bring the downfall of the whole incorporation. The impression I get is that everyone is only concerned about his own arsehole being stuff with gold and not being screwed. As long as that is taken care off, no one will bother about the big picture. The fumbling and crumbling of the education industry is a case in point. Is there another urgency and anxiety to make sure that the Education Hub goal is not compromised by all the fly by night operators? One by one is crashing down. And can anyone believe that all these problems will not affect the Education Hub? It will not affect the Education Hub, but more. The image of Singapore as a squeaky clean and efficient place, that everything works, will be compromised as well. This is the same kind of mentality like we often heard from one organisation to another. It is affordable. 2c here, 20c there, $2 elsewhere, all affordable on its own. But the aggregate of all these, the big picture, is that it burns a big hole to those who cannot afford them. Maybe we can still afford to have a few private schools closing down and a few hundred students crying on the streets. And caveat emptor hor. What happens to Singapore Incorporation when every bit is intertwined to bake a bigger pie?

6/06/2007

A Malaysian diaspora speaks up....

I am a female Chinese Malaysian, living in the Washington DC area in the United States . I have read many of the letters that often talk about foreign countries when the writers have no real knowledge of actually living in those countries. Many draw conclusions about what those countries are like after hearing it from someone else or by reading and hearing about them in the media or after four years in a college town in those countries. I finished STPM with outstanding results from the prestigious St George's Girls School in Penang .. Did I get a university place from the Malaysian government? Nothing. With near perfect scores, I had nothing, while my Malay friends were getting offers to go overseas. Even those with 2As got into university. I was so depressed. I was my parents last hope for getting the family out of poverty and at 18, I thought I had failed my parents. Today, I understand it was the Malaysian Government that had failed me and my family because of its discriminatory policies. Fortunately, I did not give up and immediately did research at the Malaysian American Commission on Education Exchange (MACEE) to find a university in the US that would accept me and provide all the finances. My family and friends thought I was crazy, being the youngest of nine children of a very poor carpenter. Anything that required a fee was out of our reach. Based on merit and my extracurricular activities of community service in secondary school, I received full tuition scholarship, work study, and grants to cover the four years at a highly competitive US university. Often, I took 21 credits each semester, 15 credits each term while working 20 hours each week and maintaining a 3.5 CGPA. A couple of semesters, I also received division scholarships and worked as a TA (teaching assistan t) on top of everything else. For the work study, I worked as a custodian (yes, cleaning toilets), carpet layer, computer lab assistant, grounds keeping, librarian, painter, tour guide, etc. If you understand the US credit system, you will understand this is a heavy load. Why did I do it? This is because I learnt as a young child from my parents that hard work is an opportunity, to give my best in everything, and to take pride in the work I do. I walked away with a double major and a minor with honours but most of all a great lesson in humility and a great respect for those who are forced to labour in so-called `blue collar' positions. Those of you who think you know all about Australia , US, or the West, think again. Unless you have really lived in these countries, i.e. paid a mortgage, paid taxes, taken part in elections, you do not understand the level of commitment and hard work it takes to be successful in thes e countries, not just for immigrants but for people who have lived here for generations. These people are where they are today because of hard work. (Of course, I am not saying everyone in the US is hardworking. There is always the lazy lot which lives off of someone else's hard work. Fortunately, they are the minority.) Every single person, anywhere, should have the opportunity to succeed if they want to put in the effort and be accountable for their own actions. In the end, they should be able to reap what they sow. It is bearable that opportunities are limited depending on how well-off financially one's family is but when higher education opportunities are race-based, like it is in Malaysia ; it is downright cruel for those who see education as the only way out of poverty. If you want to say discrimination is here in the US , yes, of course it is. Can you name a country where it doesn't happen? But let me tell you one thing - if you go looking for it, you will find it. But in Malaysia , you don't have to go look for it because it seeks you out, slaps you in your face every which way you turn, and is sanctioned by law! Here in the US , my children have the same opportunity to go to school and learn just like their black, white, and immigrant friends. At school, they eat the same food, play the same games, are taught the same classes and when they are 18, they will still have the same opportunities. Why would I want to bring my children back to Malaysia ? So they can suffer the state-sanctioned discrimination as the non-malays have for over 30 years? As for being a slave in the foreign country, I am a happy 'slave' earning a good income as an IT project manager. I work five days a week; can talk bad about the president when I want to; argue about politics, race and religion openly; gather with more than 50 friends an d family when I want (no permit needed) and I don't worry about the police pulling me over because they say I ran the light when I didn't. I feel so sorry for her and all Malaysians in the same fate.

Time to sell piggy banks

With Nets increasing its levy, those who do not want to pay through Nets can pay by cash. And with interest rate at the lowest, and having to pay to keep money in the banks for people with little money, maybe more people will keep more cash at home. I am thinking of importing more piggy banks to sell at pasar malam.

Children unable to perceive cruelties

Generally, children are less perceptible about what is cruelty and what is fun. The younger the age, the less able will be their faculty to reason goodness from badness, right from wrong. There is a letter in the Today paper complaining about children catching guppies in ponds for fun and in the process caused the unnecessary death of many of the fishes. This is indeed regrettable. Some education in schools and by parents is sorely needed in this area. Fishing for fun is very different from fishing for food. Children may not understand. But adults should, or do they? Many adults still spent millions of dollars going for that fishing trip for fun. It is fun and thrilling to hook up a live fish and see the poor bugger struggling to break free. And in the process, the fish is likely to tear off its throat or cheek. How much pain is there? One joker told me that fish have no pain cells and cannot feel pain. What an idiot. Generally, human has this cruel instinct in them. And as long as cruelty is done to others, it is fun, acceptable. This animalistic instinct is often displayed by the maid abusers. It is waiting to surface everyday.

Education hub or leper's island

This one is accredited by MYCS and MOE and CaseTrusted. Froebel Academy has not only owed salaries to its teachers, it is not issuing certificates to its students after completing their courses. Some did not get their certificates since December last year. After the camped out, they promised that the certificates will be issued this Friday. The certificates were supposed to have two chops, one from an East China University and another from the Academy as endorsements or credibility of the certificates. Over the news it was reported that the chop from the University would cost the students another $7,500. This was denied by the Academy. The net effect is that the students were very unhappy for their plight. And the Academy told the students it is closing down. How many of such fiascos can the Singapore Education Hub takes before it earns itself the reputation of an education leper's island? It is high time that the ministry persecute these operators for the damage that they are doing to the Singapore brand. Another few of these incidents will turn the Singapore brand upside down. It will become a brand of ill repute. We should not tolerate such violations and quickly put our house in order before more damages are done. We are losing our credibility and reputation very fast.

Nets is doing what is right

Nets is a commercial enterprise and must have profits to survive. It is not a charity organisation. The raising of its levy is part and parcel of its business. It will raise the level until the consumers find it unbearable and refuse to use it. Hey, that is basic. As long as they price it competitively, it is really a business decision. It is doing something not different from public transport or other service providers. And it is better to 'increase in small amounts rather than to raise a big lump sum after several years.' If public transport companies and other monopolistic service providers can do it this way, while reaping huge profits, what is wrong with Nets doing it? What about credit card companies charging 2% interest rate per month and compounded if the consumers did not pay the debt promptly? How many per cent is that a year? Compare that with the loan sharks. Oh it is international practice and no one can do anything about it.