The Annuity scheme is a case of too little too late. The people who really need the annuity scheme are those lonely, jobless, no CPF and homeless in their 60s, 70s and 80s now. Introducing the scheme will not benefit even those in their 60s as many are unemployed. Having the schemes for those in their 50s and below may lead to the question of how many will need them. There is a big group of Singaporeans, those at least having a 4 rm flat, or even 3 rm flat, that will have family support, CPF, life insurance, savings, and probably work till they die. How relevant is the annuity scheme to these people? The annuity scheme is a scheme that punishes the responsible and those who have planned and saved for their retirements. The annuity scheme is one that punishes the majority because of a few irresponsible or unfortunate minorities. The annuity scheme is a redundant and irrelevant scheme to those who have properties, savings and dependents. The annuity scheme is a compulsory scheme that is neither here nor there, good for some but unnessary for others. The annuity scheme is a wasteful scheme to those that die young. Given a population of 3 million, how many percent will live pass 85, how many will live pass 90? And how many of these will need the annuity scheme to live on? If the annuity scheme gets through, it will be a bad precedent for any smart alec to dream of any feel good schemes to be made compulsory. I can easily think of a dozen that may even be more useful and meaningful than the annuity schemes to be made compulsory.
Many well intended and well meaning people welcome the compulsory annuity proposal as a good scheme. I also think so. But what is wrong or why so many people are against it? I will spare the effort on the goodness of the scheme as these are apparent and already made known. The gist of the scheme is that it is compulsory and taking people's money from their pockets against their will. This is first degree violation of a person's right to his property. Some may call it in stronger terms. The next objection is that not many people will need it. Not many. So why compel all the people when it is so good and no takers? It is like telling people heaven is a good place. And to ensure that everyone will go to heaven, all the people must donate a sum of their wealth for this cause. It is compulsory. The people cannot decide whether they want to go to heaven or somewhere else. Can people get it? It is compulsion. It is the people's money. If it comes from the pocket of the do gooders, well, everyone will be for it. Just because someone dreams of doing something good, he has the blank cheque to force everyone to go along with him? Can we accept that? I want to build a paradise. Can I demand everyone to put aside 10% of their income as prerequisite for entry to my paradise? Life insurance is a very good thing. Can it be made compulsory?
What this saga revealed is how frightening Singapore has become after all the years of unthinking pursuit of money and materialism. We have turned ourselves from warm feeling humans to cold calculative and unfeeling machines. And we don't even know or wonder why or how. In the Odex case or in some other cases of violation of the law, Singaporeans are proud and aloof and quick to pronounce that the law is the law. We are a country that runs on the rule of law. So anyone who crosses the line got nicked. Period. Our law is blind. When humans refused to think, refused to use their humaness to differentiate, and apply the law blindly, we are not longer humans. We become part of the matrix. We exist and thinking that that is our real purpose in life. Now Odex. Many of those who infringed on the law on intellectual properties by downloading anime pics are children. They are wrong. Absolutely. But do we need to apply the law blindly on everyone of them? When life were simpler, people were more simple, and people were paid a few dollars to pass their days, applying the law simply might be acceptable. They were not paid to think too much. The money did not justify the tediousity of it all. But today, when the whole system of living is so complicated, and people are paid very generously for what they are doing, we must expect people to think more carefully to justify what they are being paid. We don't have terms like child, children, kids for nothing. They are simply at a stage of life where they are learning to reason, to know right and wrong and to grow up to accept the norms of society. That is why the courts have exceptions for children in many areas. Is it reasonable and healthy to slam children with the whole weight of the law? Threatening and frightening children with the law! Is it a responsible act to demand from children whose pocket money could be only $10 a month, to pay $3000 or $5000 for their childish innocence? Teaching them to learn the hard way? Oh, the parents can afford to pay. What kind of society and values are we evolving into? Do we think anymore? Do we really care anymore? Do we really have compassion? Or everything is just lip service. Or are we programmed to repeat such phrases without feeling for them or with no intention to mean it? Just saying without meaning.
Stay healthy no hospital bills This is what Singaporeans believe or were told to believe. Stay healthy, lead a healthy life style and cut down on medical or hospitalisation bill. Now take a deep breath and think about this carefully. You imagine that you are healthy, have a clean bill of health. So you don't spend anything on medication or medical bills. You save on hospital bills. Is that what you believe in? You are dead wrong. The reality is that Singaporeans are paying their hospital bills in advance. How much? It depends on how much you have in your Medisave. That is money you have paid in advance. Many have paid $30k without being sick or being admitted to a hospital. Advance Medical Directives? This is advanced payment of medical bills, in a way. For you cannot touch the money unless you pay it out. Otherwise, if you have dependents they will hopefully inherit them after your death. There is no fixed date for withdrawal unlike the minimum sum or annuity. And if you have no dependents, tough.
The Army is going to teach the soldiers to think, according to the Chief of Army Maj Gen Neo kian Hong. The Army needs thinking soldiers. It is about time that we teach our boys to think. Looks like our world class schools did not include this in their syllabus. Any organisation that needs thinking workers must start a course to teach them how to think. And for those who have not been taught to think, especially those in the 50s, 60s and 70s, maybe it is time to teach them to think also. Then the govt will not have to worry about them squandering their retirement money away. It will save the govt a lot of work and trouble trying to manage their lives, and all the agonising that these people cannot look after themselves.
Yes the Talibans have released the S Korean hostages. They are not blood thirsty savages after all. There is hope that they can be saved. And now that they are not going to kill hostages, maybe more missionary groups can be organised to save them huh? One good thing coming out from this is that countries that were coerced to join the coalition of the willing by the US can use this method to withdraw from the conflict. Just send a mission there, get them arrested by the Talibans, negotiate and pledge to withdraw all their troops and activities there and promise not to set foot there anymore. And all their boys can go home. And they can tell the Americans, look, we have a deal with the Talibans. And what the heck. The Americans will not do anything if their people are taken as hostages.
Singaporeans are the most fortunate people in this world. It has a world best govt that is providing them with so much goodness and tender loving care. Singaporeans are living in a country with first world infrastructure, world class homes, and living in a resort environment, world class entertainment, schools and medical services. And the govt does not stop at that. It continues to plan for their retirement and their final days in this world to ensure that all the Singaporeans will be amply provided for without a single day of care and worry in their golden years. All the Singaporeans are expected to live to a ripe old age, maybe 90 or 100, with a lot of money in their savings. It is truly a paradise on earth. Now isn't that a beautiful dream? Why should Singaporeans, or some Singaporeans, be crying for mercy? Why are some pleading to the govt not to be so good and so kind to them? Why are these Singaporeans begging the govt to let them be, let them live their lives the way they want, let them make the mistakes in life so that they can learn, let them fall and pick themselves up, let them have some freedom in how to use their pocket money to have a few wild weekends out to do the things they want to do? All these Singaporeans are asking is for the govt to loosen the apron string, and allow them to grow up and look after themselves. Is that too much to ask for? Every child will grow up and want to grow up. And when they start to work and earn a salary, they would want to manage their own finances, spent a little, indulge a little and mess up a little. And they only ask the govt to have faith in them that even if occasionally they become naughty, pain the town red, they will manage their money carefully. After all they have been given a world class education and should know how to be sensible. Please can we have our money back? Please don't ration my pocket money. Please let me grow up. I am now 80.
Where to draw the line between paternalism and coercion? The word paternalism always connotes something positive even if a little highhanded, like a father taking out the rod to whack a child. Still it is seen as acceptable as long as it does not borders on cruelty, no tearing of flesh or blood dripping everywhere. Thus people happily used the cover of paternalism to commit crimes against their children, and even get away with it. To be paternalistic sounded so good, so righteous and so good hearted. When does paternalism ends and evil or wickedness takes over? When can a parent be sued for cruelty for stuffing a child with too much food? Or when does paternalism becomes over protective and takes the form of forced imprisonment of a child in a house? When can a parent be seen as robbing his children of their money by keeping it against their will and decide when and how much to return to them at his own mercy? Is there a limit to paternalism before it is called something else?
Abdullah Badawi in a written reply to Lim Kit Siang wrote that Malaysia is Negara Islam. Lim Kit Siang said after receiving the reply, 'We had hoped he would exercise restraint on Islamisation, but all those hopes have now been dashed.' He told The Straits Times, 'There is a general sense of unease and concern over this,..."
Between having a minister just to look after the ageing population, I think it is more urgent and important to have a minister to look into the rising cost of living. His job is how to lower the rising cost of living and not just to monitor for fun and ended saying nothing can be done. BSE not accepted. It will be cost effective and money well spent to spend another few millions on a minister who can arrest the runaway cost of living and help the lower income group in general. If he can't do that, fire him and replace with another until one who can do the job comes a long. And the report card must be handed out annually, not wait for 10 years to see the result.
Siew Kum Hong wrote a thesis on why and how the use and misuse of the CPF are draining the retirement fund of the ageing population. He lamented that the govt should not use the CPF as a tool to manage the economy and the contribution rate should be restored to 40%. All the reasonings are sound and rational. It is a rational plea. But isn't a saving of 40% of one's income very high? How many countries in the world has this kind of savings? Would 20 or 30% be already a very generous sum? Why is it that other countries with much less savings than us, I mean the developed countries, do not face such a serious crisis? Where is the catch? I remember my mother's wisdom, told to me when I was a kid. She said it is not how much you earn (or have), but how much you spend. This simple truth is still as relevant as today. People live with what they have. Who is the clown that insist that people must have $120k or more to retire? Didn't he know that people can live on $260 pm with totally no other sources of income? Just because there are a lot of people who go around saying 'What is $10 million?' does not mean that everyone is expecting to live that kind of lifestyle. The govt cannot and should not dictate how much people shall have to live their lives. The govt may, in it's honest and good intention, legislate for a minimum sum for basic living. Those who want to save more, good. It must be voluntary. It is ridiculous to demand that people, and for that matter, everyone, the haves and the have nots, to have at least $120k in their CPF savings. It is not how much you have. It is how much you are spending. Idiots. And if govt policies is to price everything according to affordability, the $120k will definitely be not enough. It will become nothing with the rapidly rising cost of living.
This is the seventh moon and I am getting terribly paranoid. Both Redbeanforum and mysingaporenews appear to be infested by millions of visitors that it is extremely difficult for me to log on or to post. The waiting time and interruption are frustrating. I can visit any site quite easily except these two. I hope my forumers and bloggers are not having the same frustrating experience as I. Please log in and let me know if you have the same problem. Maybe things will get to normal after this month is over. Maybe all the good brothers will go away. Maybe.
Singapore is a beautiful place. Take a walk at Orchard Road or Raffles Place and you know what I mean. No, not the beautiful shops and shrubs. Beautiful faces everywhere. Young, healthy and vibrant. This is the star attraction of our city. A young city of young and beautiful people. Fast forward 30 years. All those who are still around will probably be still around. Thanks to our world class health care system and the medisave. And the employment for the oldies would have been in full swing. Then take a walk at Orchard Road and Raffles Place. Eeeeeeeeeee....!!!!! Horrors of all horrors. Where are the beautiful young people? Why are there so many ancients and zombies walking around. And many on wheelchairs! What happen? Why aren't we remain a young and beautiful city any more? Quick quick, do something. Get rid of the ancient monsters. They look so horrendous, so out of place in our beautiful Orchard Road and Raffles Place. Will you be one of them? 30 years from now.... : )
Our cost of living is up. Inflation is up. Housing is up, rentals up, everything up. But all affordable. Salary up also. Where got problem? An average Singaporean is strapped with all kinds of hire purchases and mortgage loans. Their lives depend on that monthly income. What happens if he loses his job? When the next economic crisis comes, cannot run, cannot hide. Singaporeans will face the same bad loan crisis in the US. People who lose their jobs will all become defaulters in a matter of months. And we will have our subprime loan, or triple AAA loan crisis. Don't bet on it. With the high cost of living, no one can afford to lose his job and survive. Without that income, he will be debt ridden within months. Worst than the third world countries. They are poor but debt free, actually. They live within their means. We are living beyond our means with everything under mortgage or HP or credit.
The frequent flyers will say so. The world is getting smaller. Every corner of the world is only a few hours away. Be here in the morning and Perth in the afternoon and Auckland in the evening. Technology has broken the barrier of distance. Not to those who cannot afford to pay for the fare. The world is getting smaller to the oldies. Their world is how far the legs can take them. Some may not be able to afford the fares of public transport and thus confine their activities to within walking distance. That is how small their world has become. Now that must be joking. How can this be? People cannot afford public transport? How much is lunch or kopi and how many of such lunches and kopi they have to forgo to take a trip? Sorry I think this is a myth. I am moving in the circle of friends that only mutter, 'What is $10 milllion?' Where got people stinging on taking public transport? Seow!
Promoting healthy family life was once given some exposure as a core tenet of our society. We need to organise the workplace and the country to promote healthy lifestyle and quality family life. There were even talks of setting up nurseries in workplace for parents to be near their children. The latest change in ERP hours have stirred the parents' nest. They are angry with the way they have been chased around to beat the ERP charges. From 7.30 am to 7am, how much difference could that mean to all these hard pressed parents ferrrying their school going children or rushing them to foster or grandparents before they leave for work? And it is not only the money. The toll of rushing in the wee hours of the morning, and the poor children were not spared either. They too must be woken in even earlier hours. How would all these affect quality family life? Didn't the left hand knows what the right hand is doing? Come on, this kind of patronising thought is best left to the kopitiams. All the pros and cons have been carefully thrashed out. The super talents must have done their homework and due diligence. Everything has been considered. And the solution is the best that is possible. Now what is all these complainings about early morning rush hours? Get use to it parents and little children. That is what living is a great first world city is all about. Say thank you for the privilege. This is a city that does not sleep.
"I don't want to have anybody who is 85 years old or 90 years old and say ‘my CPF finished, I have no insurance, and now I need to live. And I have nobody to look after me… then what happens?" PM Lee Hsien Loong Now how to make sure that everyone will have money at those queer ages? Take their money first and keep them till they reach 85. Its elementary. The people must provide for themselves. There is no charity. Problem solved.
I read this caption below a pic in the Today paper. 'Stand by Lee: Director Ang Lee is flanked by lead actor of his latest film, Wang Lee Hom and Tang Wei.' Then the story below begins like this: 'American censors have slapped Lee Ang's follow up to Brokeback Mountain....' Is this Mr Lee or Mr Ang? The news was from Agencies. Still no excuse as it is reproduced in a local paper. Mr Lee or Mr Yew may not think this is funny.
Two letters in Today by a James Teo and a Loke Yue Chong questioned how the decision to raise ERP charges came about. Both could not believe that there were no better solutions available and James Teo even came out with several options. I think both, or if not many Singaporeans, still think that they can offer better solutions than our supertalents. Now that is bad. How would ordinary citizens think that they can think better? We must not doubt that many hours of serious thinking and effort were put in to come out with such a brilliant solution. It is patronising to think that our super talents were not working or unable to think of alternatives that ordinary citizens could think of. And if the people think that these solutions are still not good enough, pay more. Pay more and get more talented people to come out with better solutions. This is the best solutions at this current price.
The oldies of today that are in a desperate position are those in the 60s and above. I called this the lost generation for many do not have a proper education to live a reasonable life and have no savings. Many are illiterate and penniless and homeless. The older ones may have migrated here and slogged through their lives as coolies or odd job labourers. With them around, maybe another 10 or 20 years, their problems will be most felt by the society. We will see glimpses of them trying to manage their old age, trying out anything that people suggested, sometime doing foolish things. Or they would just sit by the void decks or anywhere watching the days that go by. The interesting thing is that the problem is not critical. The situation is bearable. Where is the need for panic? And it is also too late for this group to start saving. After this lost generation have departed, the next batch is the baby boomers. Many are very well off. And many would have some education and a flat, and CPF. The situation of this group is much better than the lost generation. At least they know how to take care of themselves. There will be exceptions. A certain group will still fall into the category of destitute. If the lost generation did not pose such a big problem, why should we panic for this generation and the next few generations that are very much better off? What is the statistics to prove that all these useless oldies will be a burden to themselves and to the state? And the state is growing richer and richer and would not have serious financial problems to take care of a small minority of oldies that have no where to turn to. Don't tell the people that the state cannot afford to look after a small group of remnants that needed help at their last few years of life? What is the number? There may be 200k of oldies above 80. But how many will need charity?
An aged husband pushing his wheel-chaired wife 3km to meet an MP. By aidil. Aug 25, 2007 A Meet-the-people's session (MPS) on Aug 1 was perhaps the saddest one I have attended thus far. Sure, I have come across people who are stateless and seeking citizenship, HIV-positive persons, persons in really bad financial state and so on, but the special case that came before me today broke my heart. This is a story of an elderly Malay couple alone in this world. My heart raced as I had to interview the elderly Malay couple who looked like beggars, scruffy and tired. The wife, 69 years old, was plump and wheelchair-bound. The husband, 75 years old, was pudgy, walked with a limp due to arthritis and wore loosely fitted shoes. They live in a fully paid 3-room flat, which they bought many years ago. They only had one child. "Had" being the operative word. She/he died 2 years ago. They live about 3km away from the MPS that I am stationed. The husband, with his bad knees, undertook, as a gesture of love, to always push his wife around in her wheelchair. They don't take public transport because they cannot afford to and even if they did, they don't know how. Not knowing the whereabouts of an MPS, they set off at 6pm today in search for the first one they could find. They walked from location to location, asking people where an MPS is located. They finally ended up at my table - 3km from their house - at 8+pm. Not having any money to take a taxi or a bus, the husband pushed the sick wife all the way with his bad knees. The husband, being ill and old, is unable to find work. The wife, makes the best of her wheelchair bound state to sell packets of tissue paper. She brings in S$10 max a day. With S$10/day, they have to pay for meals, basic necessities and electrical/water bills. But this has over time become unbearable. They needed help and thus they walked 3km to my interview table. My heart broke when they retold their story of hardship. Copied from www.littlespeck.com. I am glad that the story is told. And I am glad that those who read are responding positively and rushing to do what they can for the couple. Go to littlespeck.com for more details.
We need to restructure to meet the new challenges. Companies must be lean and fit. All the oldies, above 50, must be retrenched. Retrenchment is good. And we cannot have too many self employed, especially middle men, those that called themselves agents or people who are unproductive but add to the cost of doing business. And yes, we need to harness the power of technology, especially online and internet technology. These will save many unnecessary manpower. Anything that can go online, or any business that can go online must go online. Get rid of the extra fat to pay the unproductive parasites. Organisations will be more profitable with lesser jobs and heads to pay. Fire if possible. And the savings on manpower cost can add to more profits and bigger bonuses. These were the mantras 10 years ago. What are the new mantras today? Create jobs, more jobs, any fxxking jobs will do. Just create jobs for the people. And yes, jobs for the old hags, even the 70s and 80s. And pay them well. What retrenchment? What cut cost? Who dares to breathe these obscene words? Shall we hang those CEOs who are still trying to get rid of jobs and old hags?
What is the financial profile of an average heartlander living in a 4 or 5 rm flat? When these people reach their 60s or 70s, it is very likely that they will still have a flat that has 70 years of lease left and may worth $500k or more, and likely to be fully paid up. In addition, each may have a piece of life insurance worth $100k. And in the CPF they will have $30k worth of Medisave and $120k in their minimum sum. Maybe the present generation may not have the full amount but at least half. And if both were working, this amount is doubled. Then there could be the little savings as an extra bonus. All these without taking into considerations the new measures that are going to be implemented. What about the few good and rich children that can afford to hand them some pocket money? What is the net worth of a couple of average heartlanders then? Easily $600k or more. In anywhere, in any circumstances, these people are rich beyond anyone's imaginations. And they only have themselves to take care of. No more burden of raising the young. But not in Singapore. Here is the bad news. For in the future, with all the cost of livings going up, these people need help or they will have nothing for their old age. They will become a burden to themselves and the govt. And that is why the govt is very concerned. And that is why more of their little savings must be kept till they are well into the 80s and 90s. Should the average Singaporeans celebrate their wealth or it is only a mirage? Excluding the top 20% of the population, this group of average Singaporeans could easily form 50% of the population. Actually, really, no bluff, why should this 70% of the population be seen as potential destitute and need to live on charity? Beats me really.
When the highways are too costly, motorists will switch to smaller roads that may take a little longer. And when these smaller roads are also gantryrised, then they either go back to the highway to meet the toll collectors, or they just have to take public transport. Our dream of a world class Tokyo public transport system when every commuters would have to be squeezed into the train by a mob of paid pushers will soon be a reality. And when that happens, the transport companies will know just what they have to do. Someone may suggest that to cut the number of people taking public transport they will have to raise the fare. Or maybe a smarter suggestion will be to have two trains out of six to be reserved for higher fare paying passengers. Call it first class train. The fares will be double or triple. That will be a profitable business and the shareholders will be pleased.
After Tan Chee khoon, Gerakan has not been as vocal as before in articulating political views, or may not be as effective as before. Lim Keng Yaik has spoken out and is well known for speaking out. And he said he would not keep quiet even after he quits politics. He is the second Minister to speak out on the deteriorating racial relations in the country. He told the guilty party that racial issues must not be used to bully the minorities. The sad thing is that this has been going on for the last 30 odd years. But it is better said later than not at all. And it is better said now then eventually having no place and no right to say them if things are allowed to go the way it is. What happens to those sellout ministers and politicians who are representing the minorities? Are they still content to keep quiet as long as their private interests are not disturbed? What are they waiting for after being slapped and slapped ands slapped for all these years and still have the face to face their people? Sometimes I wonder whether politicians are in politics to serve the people or to serve themselves.
William Pesek has a one page column in the Straits Times to write all he wants about Asian political happenings. This is a very powerful instrument accorded to anyone in this little red dot, and much more to a foreign writer. William must have earned his right to such a great honour and privilege not bestowed to any local underlings. Such a situation can only happened in an Asian country where there is a dearth of local talent or a foreigner is so damn good that his contributions and views are very superior and useful to inform the locals. William is definitely very good. And he deserves to be given space to write. The pathetic thing is that the dearth of intelligent writers is not a joke but a reality. We can't find any to write as good or half as good as William. So by default, we need to give a foreign talent a whole full page to fill. And we have world class or among the top of the world class tertiary institutions and supertalents in our midst. Where are our local talents? Or they all have no views or no interest in watching Asian political events. All busily trying to make money in property speculations or figuring out how to make a fortune in the coming IR?
"Dr Wong Chiang Yin, the hospital's chief operating officer, said: 'When foreigners walk into a hospital, it can be a little forbidding, so we hope the new centre will meet their needs.'.... As the hospital is located near Changi Airport, it sees transit passengers needing medical attention, and this adds to its influx of foreign patients. The hospital also actively recommends its services to potential foreign patients - through its network of 11 medical associates stationed in Indonesia, Vietnam, Myanmar, Bangladesh and India. But Dr Wong said that providing additional services like these was not an indication that the hospital was going all out to court foreign patients. 'It's not about making money,' he added. " Can someone talk some sense into this guy? There is no shame in making profits, especially from foreigners. Make as much as you can from foreigners and use the surplus to subsidise the locals. That should be the way to go. Restructured hospitals are profit driven. If they are not going to make profits from foreigners, are they going to make profits from locals? All restructured hospitals must be encouraged to compete for foreign patients and use the higher profits to defray the cost of local patients, or to raise the income of the medical professionals. Just make sure that locals are not turn away because they have no time or for lack of facilities. Increase the capacity if need be. Don't they know how to do business?
If the retirement age is raised to 62, the would be pensioners would only be able to collect their pension at 62. If it is raise to 65 or 67, then it can be expected that their pension will only start at the respective age. This may be cheaper to the employer as the expected lifespan after that could be much shorter than starting from 55. Some may not enjoy seeing their pension at all. Big savings.
Come 1 Nov, 4 more ERPs will be up and another 5 on standby to be activated when traffic get congested. Also operation hours will be extended. Can't be helped. No other better ways. This is the most efficient way as it hurts the pocket. No need to pay super talents to manage with such brilliant solutions. Pay any Ah Beng $5k a month and he will come out with a solution as excellent as this.
While we are all worry about having not enough money for retirement, applicable to the hardlanders only, we are still caught up in this wasteful cycle of spending our hard earned money thoughtlessly. And at times this wasteful spending is even a compulsion. We waste thoughtlessly on scrapping cars in good working condition in less than 10 years. We waste tearing down sound buildings just to increase the value of the next development. We waste by making HDB flats affordable depending on how much is the savings in the CPF. Those who have certain incomes must pay for bigger flats even if they do not want to. And we even waste by insisting that people who are more financially well off must spend more in paying for more expensive wards in hospitals. They cannot opt for cheaper C wards! MEAN testing. At the other end, the income level of these hardlanders are not increasing exponentially but at a snail pace while cost of living is galloping away. How to expect these people to save enough when the system demands that they spend according to affordability? Why is thrift not encourage but a lip service? Why do we sometimes hear the statement that thrift is good and that people should spend within their means but the system is against this? If we truly believe in savings, then we must not spend extravagantly, unnecessarily, and thoughtlessly. We need a change of mindset and encourage people not to spend if there is no need to spend. And our system should be redesigned to help people to save than to spend. Then there will be more money left. Why people have so little savings for old age when we are one of the highest savers in the world? Is it so difficult to figure out why?
Some were screaming fouls while some say that it is a good thing. For those who think they will live to 100 and have no other means of supporting themselves, having an annuity scheme to see to their last years is a comforting thought. Then why the cries of unhappiness? The official reasons for the compulsory annuity scheme is that the paternalistic govt has serious thought over the problems of ageing and seriously plans for these future oldies. The intent is absolutely noble, genuine and caring. Now who can fault a govt trying to do so much for the people, spending their expensive brain juice for the unthinking and irresponsible masses? And many of the thinking and unthinking masses are truly grateful for such a forward looking and benevolent govt. On the other hand there is a corner who thinks that it is all about no money or not enough money in the CPF to pay out when due. Now this is a serious accusation and a serious problem. And to this group, the annuity scheme, the minimum sum scheme, including the Medisave, are all designed to keep the CPF money away from their rightful owners. And they believe that the govt is trying to play a delaying tactic. If this is true, then the intention is less than innocent. While people can understand that the problem of no money needs to be resovled, by not taking the bull by the horns, and trying all kinds of devious ways to pretend that the problem is not there, and trying funny ways to tackle the issue will only compound the problems. If the problem is not enough money, then it is better to face it and not spending money unwisely on frills and fringes. If the govt can afford to spend on these, then this thought of not enough money must be a wild imagination of this group of people. The third possible reason, just speculating, is that someone thinks that this source of cheap fund should be tapped fully for reinvestment and churning profits for the nation. It is a clever thought. But if this the case, it is ethically wrong and wicked for people to exploit the hard earned money of the people and deprived them of using it. Many will die without enjoying the fruit of their labour and toil. It is a very cruel thing to do. But this is only a wild guess. With so many virtuous people and morally very righteous in charge, the people can rest assured that people with such evil thought will not get their way. Even if they do, retribution will catch up with them one day. So what is the real fuss behind the buzz? There is an official position that sounds so logical and caring. Then some people do not believe so and are cringing with wild imaginations of their own. Who is right and who is wrong? What is the tooth?
The National Rally was delivered with so many goodies. Something for everyone. New futuristic estates, estate upgrading, more interest for CPF, closing the income gap, employment for the old and taking care of all Singaporeans until they are buried. No, the Singaporeans did not ask to be nannied. It is a voluntary self appointed role or right to nanny the Singaporeans, a world class citizenship that cannot look after themselves and their own money. It will be a very sorry state if we have to look after our people from cradle to grave. But indeed we are, helpless Singaporeans or sheeples, unable to think for themselves and needed the good paternalistic govt to think and plan their lives. Is there any hope for Singaporeans? Now that every corner of the island is buzzing about the goodies, and also about their CPF savings, some may be asking, where is my money? When can I have my money back? Amidst all the noise and commotion, what is the real issue behind the din? Is there any real problem that no one knows or want to talk about? Or is everything so bright and rosy? No problem at all?
‘We can’t have a situation where we protect you even from yourself. If the entire population needs to be protected from their own choices, then we will be in a very, very sorry state in the future. “My own sense of it is Singapore is now a much more mature society and, generally, the vast majority of Singaporeans can be trusted to make up their own minds, exercise their choices and act responsibly. “The fundamental question is, are we ready as a society to let people make choices of their own, take responsibility for their actions and face the consequences?” Minister for Community, Youth and Sports, Dr Vivian Balakrishnan during the debate on the casino issue. Obviously many in the cabinet did not agree with Vivian that Singaporeans are mature enough to take care of themselves. That is why their CPF money must be kept for as long as possible, with some left behind after they are dead, for safe measures. Just in case, just in case. Now are we in a sorry state now?
What is annuity? It is like taking a big sum of money to give to someone to invest for you and promise to pay you a small sum till you die. So Ah Pek will take his $100k to an insurer to manage and invest for him with a promise. In the meantime Ah Pek must hope that the insurer will not go bust or run away. And also the insurer is smart enough to make more money than he can afford to pay his management fee and Ah Pek. If the insurer lost money in his investment, then trouble starts. Buying annuity requires a lot of faith and hope. Is it really worth it? And how much does it cost the govt to look after some of the oldies who are above 85 years old? Not every oldie will need govt charity. Only some. What does the statistics of today's oldies above 85 say? How many are dependent on charity or have their own means of living? I think one plate of char kway teow will be enough to provide for all the oldies that are destitutes and without any dependent to fall back on.
The problem is not with Singapore but Malaysia. This is the view expressed by Anwar Ibrahim at a seminor at the S Rajaratnam School of International Studies yesterday. Some may not agree with him, but reading his comments carefully, there is a lot of truth in what he said. We are two closely knit neighbours and we could benefit a lot by working closely together. He admitted that Singapore can be very tough in negotiation. But that is negotiation and should not affect the relations between the two states. Malaysia can also be tough when negotiating with Singapore but both can find common ground instead of inciting racial hatred between Malays and Chinese. And this racial element is not only affecting relations between the two states but also the internal politics of Malaysia. Malaysia has a lot to gain by working closely with their Chinese and the Singapore Chinese instead of silly bickering for political mileage.
'One of the lessons which he impressed on me was to be true to yourself, to say what you believe in, even if it means being disagreeable.' Vivian Balakrishnan. The above was what Vivian commented on Howe Yoon Chong. And from the other comments of personal experiences by other politicians, Howe Yoon Chong was indeed his own man. He did not minced words and he said what he meant. And for that, he naturally would find being a politicians difficult. And for that it is an admirable quality of a man who was true to himself all the time. No hypocrisy, no double talk. Just stuck to his principles and what he believed in, come what may. How many politicians can live to be like Howe Yoon Chong and be their true self? If we cannot respect such a man, what else can we respect?
How many people will live more than 85 years? How many of them will be destitutes and need charity? Can the govt afford to pay $300 pm to these octogenarians? Why go to all the trouble to implement a scheme that is unpopular and will only benefit a very small number of people? Please don't give the crap that all these old people will be dependent on welfare. The bulk of the lost generations, the uneducated, penniless, homeless and unemployable will be over in 10 or 20 years. The generations after them are not so desperate. Most would have something to fall back on. Those who still have to depend on charity will be those that have nothing in their CPF for the govt of hold back and neither would they have any HDB flats. These will be the new dropouts of society, the drug addicts, the loafers, etc, a small minority. And people are working longer from now on. Why are we doing all these? The problem so serious?
Another lawyer has disappeared with client's money. Now, when are they going to learn? This is another vindication that the pay them well policy is the solution to prevent such problems. Quick, quick, increase their salaries....
He was not suave, charismatic, nor did he look like a TV star. Maybe more like Deng Xiao Ping. He was the unglamorous man that got things done. This is another pioneering leader that helped to build what Singapore is today. Would anyone put up a statue of him beside the foreign worker to honour his contribution? He was famous in Mindef. Heard stories that when he called up officers into his office, they trembled in their pants. And when he was scolding them, you could hear his voice at the other end of the corridor. Did I get my stories right? He was something like Goh Keng Swee, a doer that got things done with no nonsense. I did not know him as a man of humour. But he did joke. 'My hobby is getting some rest.'
When the old NKF were suing people in court, they were laughing to the bank. Easy money when the other party could not pay the legal fees and gave up the fight. The rest is history. Then Virtual Map also sued many users who copied their maps without persmission and were laughing to the bank with the high compensation claims. Virtual Map has been sued by Singapore Land Authority and lost. They are appealing. For the moment Odex is in a way repeating history, claiming compensations from illegal downloaders. Will history be repeated?
Annuity Plan gets clearer As the picture unfolds, we are getting glimpses of what this plan will look like. For one, I like the idea that it is to provide a 'subsistence level' of income until death. Not like the $120k minimum sum, a value that probably 70% of the people will never dream of having. And while the govt has been quite generous in giving an additional dollar to those under govt assistance scheme, lets hope the govt will not be overly generous when using the people's money to provide for themselves. Hey, let me remind the govt again that it is the people's money. Not the govt's. I think this message has not gotten across. They are not going to take the risk of allowing the people to squander their money away. Why can't the people squander away their own money? The next point that I like is that the govt will now have to 'sell' the scheme to Singaporeans. Do they need to? It is a compulsory scheme for the good of the people. Or does it matter if the people don't buy it? Actually, anything that has to become compulsory is a failure of a sort. It means that it is not something that people see a need for it. Now the small amount to be paid to the annuity? Would it be $30 or $300?
This nonsense about a minimum sum to be retained in the CPF or a compulsory annunity should be stopped once for all. Not everyone is an idiot or dependent on such a scheme to live their lives. Give people the option to withdraw everything at 55 and manage their own lives. If need be, let them sign a form to refuse any state assistance should they become destitute in the future. Anyone signing the form will be held solely responsible for his own life and finances. They cannot turn back to the state and if they do the state can throw back the signed document to them. Anyway this country does not believe in welfare and everyone is expected to provide for themselves. Why should the people be deprived of their hard earned money by some legislation?
I say it again, there is no need for annuities and CPF minimum sum scheme for the oldies. Not everyone needs them. And I am not referring to the millionaires or those with family support. I am referring to those with a 3 rm or 4 rm HDB flat. They should be independent and and can expect to retire without the need for minimum sum in the CPF. For those with bigger flats, better still. The alternative and the best solution to this group of people is the newly created HDB leasebuy back scheme. With this scheme the income generated should be able to see them through their golden years. The scheme needs not be restricted to those with only one bite of the cherry. Why should it be if we can unlocked the value of the property for them? But I read in the Straits Times of some comments that the return will not be enough. How so? One commented that a 3 rm HDB flat worth $160k today will be worth only $50k when the remainder lease is 40 years after the buyback. Another commented that the return will only be $400 a month. Really? The experts said so, so must be true. Bull! I totally disagree. Depending on the location, a 3 rm HDB flat can be rented out, say in Redhill or Queenstown area, easily for $1200 to $1500. Maybe more, regardless of the lease life as long as they meet the tenant's tenancy. And very likely to be more in the future with inflation and the rising rentals in these areas. And that will be much more than what the minimum sum or annunity can provide. The rental value or power of these flats must be taken into consideration to ascertain the real worth of these flats. Please do not shortchange the flat owners just because they can't count.
Loh Chee Kong wrote in Today about the grand plan and massive strategy to narrow the income gap and said that 'experts have hailed it as a "well crafted" plan.' Did I hear someone shouting about apple polishing? There were so many things said about closing the income gap on Sunday. In order for us to know how successful this will be in 5 years or 500 years, no one knows the target, it is necessary for us to know how wide is the gap now. Show us some statistics and set the target as to how close will the gap be and when will it be achieved. That will be more meaningful and objective. Show us the milestones. Otherwise how will we know whether the income gap has been narrowed and how much it has been narrowed. Or actually nothing happens or no difference. Just say say only.
Hsien Loong has shared with all Singaporeans his dream. We will have the best in housing and facilities for the people. Punggol 21 is indeed a world class township with landscape and facilities that will make many in the first world countries turn envious. It can become the model for all other towns. These may not come in cheap though. Good things must have a price. But fear not. We know you by your name. Singaporeans will be prepared to make this dream a reality. There will be more educational opportunities at tertiary level to raise their income so that all these best homes and facilities will be affordable. We will really be a first world nation if all the average Singaporeans can afford to live this dream, and not just an elusive dream. The Govt has promised that the hardware, the buildings and facilities will be there. Now it is up to the Singaporeans to work for it. There is one thing that the Govt may want to think about. The software of the people. Start with the cleaners in the kopitiams and hawker centres, and also foodcourts. Make sure that they are also first world cleaners. Learn from the Filipinos. Educate the cleaners with more courses on personal hygiene, cleaning methods and technology, good manners and a little courtesy, and pay them well. The upgrading courses will increase the value of the ah pek and ah mah cleaners. We cannot have a first world city with smelly cleaners that chuck all their dirty plates and leftovers beside you while you are eating. We cannot have cleaners who swipe all the things/leftover at people who are eating. We cannot have cleaners that bang around with their trolleys and giving everyone that hostile stare if one happens to be in the way. Upgrading of the cleaners and the toilet cleaners must be the first step towards a world class city. Hey, thought I heard about toilet trained cleaners sometimes ago? Live that dream or miss the boat.
'We cannot afford tension or conflict between the races. If diversity is to remain our strength, communities must be brought together, not driven apart by unscrupulous politiking.' Hishamuddin Hussein Onn And he remembers the legacy of his father, Tun Hussein Onn, peace and racial harmony for development. I hope this is the real Hishamuddin. Which is real, the kris kissing, butt kicking, and threatening blood will flow, or this sensible speech? Who wrote his speech?
What the speech will strike people, other than the enormous memory and command of the language of Hsien Loong, is that it is a rich govt's rally speech. Only a rich govt can afford all the plans that he revealed and the promise of delivering them. It contains a lot of things for the people at various levels. It has taken his last speech on the vision of a new Singapore a step further with more for the masses and the lower income. In all fairness, no country or govt, I think, could make such a generous offer to the people. But then, there are still areas that need to be looked at it more intensely. Ok, we are not building bridges and roads to collect more tolls. But many of the things that the govt is going to build will be paid by the people. They are not freebies. Even looking after the aged is how to plan their savings to last longer. Ok, 1% more for $60k. That is a plus. But shouldn't this be paid in the past as the compulsory savings should be managed and invested to generate higher returns all these while? And there were signs of fine tuning the CPF savings to fit the needs of different groups of people. But still not enough. The minimum sum was untouched. This sum is so meaningless to so many people. The attempt to close the gap between the rich and poor is barking up the wrong tree. Agreed that the govt should not hold back the rich from getting richer. Let them get richer. And also there is no way that the income of the lower income group can be artificially inflated at no cost. They will pay themselves out of the competition. It is a double aged sword. It is a futile exercise. What Hsien Loong completely missed out is the runaway cost of living. If this area can be arrested, then the people, especially the lower income group, will be richer and their money can be stretched a little longer. So will the savings of the retirees. The only way to hold back rising cost is to return public and essential services back to the nation and run at cost plus and not just for profit and the interest of the shareholders, or to line the pockets of top management. The concept of profit for profit sake must be relooked at. Even GLCs must not forget that they have a national duty to look after the people, eg in the area of job creation and employment. It is irresponsible to use public money simply to generate profit. Profit for who and for what if the people are being squeezed or retrenched just to improve the bottom line? Without reining in the cost of living, not only the lower income group will suffer. It will undermine our competitiveness as an operating base for foreign corporations in a matter of time.
The beautiful thing about living in Paradise is that there is no need for a cap. Everything will just go up, no need for any cap. Get what I mean? In our paradise, we can defy gravity forever. But that is our unspoken tooth or truth. Where got gravity in paradise? So we can expect everything to go up, all the prices must go up. All the cost of living must go up. But have no fear, all our salaries will also go up. We can be paid more and more everyday, so that we can afford to pay for all the GST, ERP, and all the fees needed to live and get around. No country can be so blessed as us. But we are in paradise. We do not need to conform to the any economic or natural rules, principles or laws. We decide our own operational parameters. Affordability is never an issue. We will make sure that everything is affordable to everyone. The prices will be raised, and the income will also be raised to catch up with the prices. Why is it that a TV set, or a PC, or fridge, or a camera, no matter how many improvements added into it, will still be sold at about the same price in the world market, including paradise? Are these affected by globalisation, by competition from around the world? The quality and power of these instruments have increased by 100s of folds, but the prices remain fairly the same. Is it because of affordability? Should these manufacturers raise their prices to atmospheric level since their products are of super quality? They should as their products are definitely of super quality and created by their super talents. If they do not price their products to world class prices, how are they to feed their super talents? Or are they under paying their super talents? Aren't they afraid that their super talents would quit, go elsewhere to get more money? Do we see all the super talents coming to paradise? Or we are seeing only the third or fourth rate talents here? And they too must be happy to know that there is no cap here and may one day shoot to the sky. At the rate we are going, our workers can expect to be paid in tens of thousands in a matter of time.
How many of you out there have been working for 30 or 40 years and feeling tired? Or how many of you are looking at your ageing parents, still working, and looking tired? An average Singaporean will spend about 15 to 20 years of his life in the confines of a school, from nursery onwards, cramming life sustaining information. And then he is expected to keep working for the next 50 years or so. Is that what our life should be? Why is it that our poor parents and grandparents were able to retire and slow down, and still live on and why, we are much better educated, and richer, cannot afford to retire? It is a strange development indeed? The richer we get, the worst we become and the more we need to slog to keep ourselves alive. There used to be a pension scheme that is life sustaining. There used to be a CPF scheme that worked. What happens? Now the pension scheme is as good as gone or eaten up by inflation. And the CPF is never enough. So we need to work and work and work. When I say 'we' I mean those who need to work to keep themselves alive. Not those who do not need to work but who work for fun and pleasure, for ego or some personal reasons, or a very profitable way of passing time, but really do not need to work. When a person has to work to live, and seeing that his work is getting more meaningless, his income is dwindling, and he cannot stop work, it can be very tiring and depressing. It is no fun to work in this way. Anyone looking forward to live to a ripe old age? It is a tiring thought. It is a new rat race, a never ending rat race. Like walking in the middle of a conveying belt and going no where. Have we screw up our life?
Billions of dollars were wiped out of the stock market in recent weeks by the sub prime loan collapse in the US. Though far away, we were not spared. What then is this sub prime loan and can we learn anything from it? The gist of this mess is 'clever' financing and refinancing. Lending to high risk debtors to buy properties and repackaged the high risk loans into something else thinking that the risk will go away. This is the American version of loan shark financing, except more glitzy and sophisticated. But when interest rate soared and the bad debtors defaulted or cannot afford to pay, the house of cards collapsed. It all started by not only selling properties. The housing agents, property developers and their collaborators, all joined in to paint a glory picture of a property boom. Prices were raised higher and higher or chased up. Analysts and reporters, maybe even paid, wrote about the euphoria as if it will never end. And during a time of low interest rate, buyers were roped into the mad rush as if they would miss out if they did not buy then. There was the fear of missing out, the greed of making money in a property boom, the selfish manipulation of property developers and their accomplices, the media, helped to shore up the whole industry. Sounds familiar? Were the regulators involved as well? The funny thing about this is that we have been through it and beaten very badly only 10 years ago. And we are going through the whole process again, driving up property prices, writing about how high the prices will go and how big is the liquidity that will absorb all the properties, that it is a sellers market. And we add in the foreign buyers into the pot, plus the en bloc phenomenon, all add in to the fury of a property boom and bubble. Why are we allowing this bubble to grow only to see it go bust? Why are we so irresponsible? There are really two kinds of property buyers. The very rich, including the speculators, buying and selling for profit. The next is the genuine property owners, the Singaporeans who need a roof over their heads. This group can only afford what their income dictates. Property prices that shot beyond their income will always be out of reach to them. And if those who have vested interest in high property prices continue to fan and allow the prices to shoot to the sky, the genuine buyers will be the one to lose out. Because of the limited income of the lower income group, maybe 70 or 80% of the population, they just cannot participate in the private property market. This sector can only be supported by the rich and foreign money. Maybe we should bring more foreigners to buy up all the private properties. Will we be digging our own grave?
I just read 'The week in Review' in the Straits Times this morning. There was this whole page touching on issues in Thailand, Japan, Sino Russian relations and the Asian market downturn. Only the first article had the author's name under it. So it is clear who wrote the article. The other 3 articles did not specifically said who wrote them. But at the top of the page was the photo of Jonathan Eyal of the Straits Times Foreign Desk. So presumably they must be contributed by Jonathan. There is no doubt that Jonathan is a prolific writer and an expert in Asian and world affairs. And I enjoy reading his articles. But the approach of his writings is very similar to writers like William Pesek and Tom Plates, a western view, tinted, to reflect western interest, obsession and agenda. And this is the kind of material that readers are fed with practically everyday. And eventually they will used these material subconsciously to form their opinions and viewpoints of things, especially the negative perspective and agenda of the west on Asian countries. It would be more balance if national papers of Asian countries publish more of the views of their local writers on Asian affairs and give them an Asian favour. Maybe the Asian countries truly are lack of Asian talents to write about issues and matters concerning Asian interests. This must be the greatest failure of all their institutions of higher learnings. Can't even produce writers and commentators on their own affairs. It is a pathetic state of affair that today, we are still looking at ourselves through western glasses. When will this change?
All the opposition parties are silent and dare not breathe a word on the issue of whether Malaysia is an Islamic state. They were told to shut up and they shut up. I thought this happens only in the red dot. Only an East Malaysian Minister in the Prime Minister's office, Tan Sri Bernard Giluk Dompok, dares to speak out on the issue. To him the minorities cannot live in a state of denial when things are obviously wrong. To him, if the people's representatives, the leaders representing minority races, refuse to speak up, then they must give up their positions as leaders of their people. The MCA and MIC have sold out their people in the past and are doing so in this issue. So are the other minority parties. Do they still believe that they have the right and moral authority to represent their people? As Malaysia progresses, certain issues must be discussed in the open, intellectually and rationally. Not by the threat of the kris and blood letting. If it is too much to debate in public, at least it should be debated in parliament among civilised men. Can this be taken for granted? And it needs not be telecast live to the people. Keeping mum and not talking about it is a betrayal of the people they represent. The Malaysian politics have been held at ransom by the ultras under threat of violence for too long. It is time Malaysia changes its course in the political development of the country and works towards a more progressive and mutually tolerant society among the various races.
Today we are not dealing with chief clerks that only had a primary education to work out policies and decisions for us. We are paying top dollars for top talents and we must demand for serious and meticulous computations and for the best solutions money can buy. No more straight jacket one solution fits all occasions decision with no regards to how it can adversely affect many. We need to tailor make policies and decisions that are meaningful and appropriate and logical to the diverse population. The present one minimum sum for all and one medisave for all are unacceptable. If the govt still think that these kinds of solutions are good enough, then they don't deserve the million dollar price tag. The $120k minimum sum is too much for many and too little to many. How can this sum be shafted down the throat of all Singaporeans? You don't need a super talent to make this kind of decisions. An average university grad, pay him $3k a month will be able to come up with a better alternative. The parameters to revise and compute the minimum sum and medisave portion should include the following: 1. The income of the individual, which means what he is used to live on, or his lifestyle. It is not easy and simple. That is why the people are paid top dollars. When you get top dollars, you must serve out top dollar decisions. 2. The average life expectancy. Male and female life expectancies are different. Don't simply lump them together. 3. The assets of the individual. 4. The educational level. 5. Occupation. 6. Family support. 7. Health at 55, to determine the medisave quantum. And if someone is already served a notice that he has a limited days or years to go, he should be allowed to take back all his money. 8. There must be several options and variations for the people to choose from. Do not force people to accept simple and unpractical solutions by making them compulsory. This is the 21st century. We not only have super talents, we also have super computers, science and technology to come up with a sophisticated systems that can be tailor made to individuals or at least classes of individuals. Maybe class is a bad term. Called it social or income groups. The policy makers must start cracking their super brains for a super solution for the unthinking masses. The people are waiting, and watching. Any slipshod solutions must be criticised. The people must not allowed slipshod solution to get by without questioning and poking at them. Only then will we get a deserving and sound solution. The people must raise their level of expectation and push the govt to its limits. Only then can we get progress. The unreasonable man changes the world to suit his needs. We can have aircon in the middle of the desert and a heated room in the centre of the arctic. These are unreasonable things that are against nature. Man has conquered nature by being unreasonable.
The Odex case is revealing in the sense that the weak can be subject to extortion by the rich and powerful. People can be dragged to court or pay a ransom for the slightest infringement of the law. Then there is this guy who wrote to the press begging that something be done to restrain his neighbours 5 rottweilers from attacking any passerbys. After highlighting the fear and the possibility of a child being tear to pieces by the dogs, he pleaded sheepishly on what recourse he would have from the barking of the dogs. There must be laws to protect the innocents from people who live dangerously and exposed others to potential harm and destruction of lives. No recourse is going to make any difference to a child or an oldie who is badly mauled by ferocious animals. What the hell is happening? Are we waiting for disasters to happen just to make a few idiots happy with their wild animals? Tame? Animals are only tame when they don't attack. You just can't be too sure how the animal minds work and when it is going to be provoked or go berserk. Please, get rid of those beasts. Or at least have a law to cane the owners if their beasts attack anyone. Monetary compensation is useless to the victims. Make caning of the owners mandatory when an attack takes place.
James Chi Han Hsuan in a letter to Today suggested that the minimum sum in the CPF should be raised to $300k. His justification is that he has many friends who have more than $200k in their savings accounts and they are squandering their money buying all kinds of luxury goods. I can't agree more with James. All these rich people with so much money and do not know what to do must be made to save more. I have also many friends who have millions in their bank accounts. I would want to suggest that the minimum sum be raised to $1 mil so that these people cannot squander away their money. 'Pssst, what about me, I don't have any money in my savings account?' Ah Pek asked.
'It is natural that citizens should criticise the Govt. It is also natural that citizens should praise the Govt for doing good. This is how a healthy relation is established between the individual and the collective.' George Yeo I could have copied the whole article in the Today paper by Nazry Bahrawi. The expression by George, perhaps the most down to earth minister with a halo over his head, shows a different kind of maturity and security in a person. He does not see every criticism as an attack and a need to respond with a sledgehammer. He sees a healthy relationship with the people that may not see eye to eye with the govt in some issues. And he accepts that it is the right of the citizens to criticise if needed be. 'But for a country to work, an active citizenry is crucial.' This is a comment by Nazry in his article.
Amidst the throes of heightened tension in a country that has lost its direction, when parochialism and kampong politics were elevated to the national stage, a calming voice is emerging from an erstwhile quiet corner. The crown prince of Perak, Raja Nazrin Shah, a Harvard PHD holder in Political Economy and Govt, is steadily making his voice of reasons heard. The diminshing presence of the Malaysian Royalties, once seen as not contributing much to the development of the country, is emerging from its past shadow. A Harvard PHD, and a rational and sensible approach to nation building, is a far cry from the wild minds of what UMNO now represents. UMNO is no longer the vehicle of modernity and progress, but regression. UMNO is all about money and how to enrich one another by sucking the wealth of the country without any positive contribution. It is about sharing without contributing. A similar position that the royalties were once in. Straits Times has an article on Raja Nazrin Shah and his views of Malaysian politics. It is refreshing, and more impressive to have come from a Malaysia prince. This is the kind of leaders that Malaysia needs, well educated, progressive, confident and insightful. Not the yelling, chest thumping and kris kissing type. Those are kampong politicians, not statesmen. Malaysia needs more of such leaders to be in office to lead the country forward, not backward. As Badawi has said, Malaysia shall not be what the football team is today, regressive, backward and nothing to prove or show except being more bumiputras. Yes the Malaysian football team is a good example of what Malaysia is today. Study the football team carefully to understand why it fails and why Malaysia will also fail.
The hefty fines that children are made to pay for downloading anime from the net is just. A crime is a crime. So age is a non issue. You download you infringe on people's copyright and intellectual properties. You must pay. I also believe that the law looks at children differently. Children cannot be jailed or caned, or hanged. But we are a nation that operates under the rule of law. We must accept the law with no exceptions. Reminds me of the school girl without a student pass. Just administer the law. And also of the streetdirectory provider. You download a few pages, the damages will come to tens of thousands. That is justice in a rule of law country.
Human rights, yuan revaluation, now poison paint, micro magnets etc are but the tools of an economic warfare. The Americans have fired the first shot and China is hurt. The damages are in hundreds of millions and bad publicity, lost of confidence and market etc China will have to react. China will need US$ to pay for all the losses. China will start to dump US bonds to pay for the losses. And the war will escalate. This is another front, other than the Middle East and Afghanistan that the Americans are opening. Fight on America. The righteous shall win. God will bless America.
The CPF is a forced saving for the old age just in case everything is gone. It is not meant to be the sole means of survival for anyone. That is why the term used even to retain after 55 is called minimum sum. It is not the maximum sum or something extravagant. Now that people are talking about compulsory this and that, let them not forget that you can make things compulsory as long as they are within the confines of a minimum sum. Anything excessive will invite rotten eggs and anger. Now, what is minimum sum? This is an illusive figure that varies according to one's pocket, lifestyle and appetite. The $120k figure being used is a ridiculous figure to many people who hardly see $5k in their savings in their whole life. The premises for a compulsory saving scheme after 55 should include a clearer definition of what is minimum. A useful number should be the $300 pm that the govt is giving to the destitutes. This should form the basis of minimum sum. Compulsory saving should work upwards from this number. The people are not saving to eat in restaurants. Such luxury should be voluntary and be left to those who can afford them. Many will do well eating in hawker stalls or cooking for themselves. The next factor is a 20 year time frame, ie 62 to 82. Forcing people to save after 82 is ass talk. By 82, the bulk of the people would have gone. The remaining few if still needed state assistance would not be too much a burden for the state to bear. $300 pm or less. Whether it is annuity or to leave the sum in the CPF should be optional. And for those who wanted to save $120k or $300k in their CPF, by all means. The people must be allowed the option to opt for more savings to be left in their CPF at 55. The compulsion part should only be for the minimum sum, using $300 pm as the starting point for computation. For people who are working beyond 62, the minimum sum can be lowered proportionately and not increased. Who's the idiot who said the longer one works, the more must be saved? The above should be some of the basic premises to compute the minimum savings needed for the aged. As I am not paid for this, this is as far as I am prepared to offer. Let those who are being paid in millions to think of something more realistic and workable. They are not paid that kind of money for nothing. The higher one is being paid, the greater is the expectation. No more slipshod solutions. They must justify the supertalent pay that they are being paid for.
How best to look after the ageing population with their CPF money should be done by a neutral party that is free from all the encumbrances of existing interests and mindsets. Only an independent mind, with a simple objective of maximising the money in the CPF, can come out with a reasonable way to help the ageing population. And there is no need for a $3 million mind or even a $1 million mind. It is ridiculous to be embarrassed by superficial solutions that have been on the table all these years and push out as new and creative solutions. Any undergraduate doing his term paper would be able to come up with more exciting and innovative solutions. Empty the cup if we want to fill it with new tea. Or as they said, please don't teach old dogs new tricks. It is a waste of effort.
The Horizon Towers sellers stood to sell their flats for $2.5 million each before it was aborted because of some technicality or reasons. And the buyer is going to sue. Now the issue is how much to claim. How about claiming that the plan to rebuild the place could generate profits in the hundreds or thousands of millions, like 100 storey high? This will probably mean a potential big loss in profits. Now the claim should be $5 million each from the sellers for breaching the agreement. Maybe claim $10 mil from each of them by submitting a plan that each new unit will be so well furnished and appointed that they can be sold at $10 million per unit. Those poor Horizon Towers owners must be having a nightmare now. It is now up to the buyer to decide how much they want to claim.
Boon Heng has come out with his second recommendation after his Japan trip. His first was to work longer and delay withdrawal. As one ages, withdrawal is not even an issue. Nothing to put in. His second recommendation is buying annuity plans, probably compulsory. How come I don't have this deja vu feeling that great things are happening? I was expecting a $3 million solution that will be more flexible and discriminating. I was expecting recommendations on how to deal with multi millionaires who need $20 mil but have $200 mil savings and those who need $20k but have only $2k and those who have half a million worth of properties or assets. And in my recent post I already mentioned that people who can work till they die need lesser or no CPF savings at all. Definitely they do not need to save more to stuff into their coffins.
For a few centuries, Afro and Asian countries were colonised by the west and robbed of everything, including pride and ability to think rationally. The physical robbing of resources and wealth may be over, but mentally they are still being raped daily, with the assistance of the media, including their national media. Today, the Afro Asians hardly remember or talk about the ravages of being colonised, and even forgot who colonised them and subdued them in their own country. For these are not the agenda in the western media. They don't talk or write about them. Better to let people forget about them. And to keep the Afro Asian's mind occupied, they created a bogeyman for them to hate. In the past it was Communism. Now it is China. Everyday the West will be bashing China for one thing or another. Expansionist, aggressor ambition, human rights, destroying the environment, pollution, poor quality food and goods, about to collapse, about to conquer the world, boycott the Beijing Olympic etc etc etc. As the message keeps on repeating daily in all the media, the subconsciousness of the Afro Asian minds gradually see this huge demon in China. And they all hate China and Chinese. Compare the Afro Asian's anti Chinese feelings to those of the Koreans. The Koreans, especially the North, knew who colonised and raped them. It was not the Chinese. Their enemy number One is the Japanese. For the Koreans were the least affected by the daily raping of the western media. Many don't read or can't read English. In the rest of Afro Asia, where English is widely used and English media is widely read and followed, their enemy number One is China. They forgot and cannot remember who colonised them and raped them. The Afro Asians deserved to be raped, mentally. For they lacked the ability to think and set their own agenda. The agenda is set for them. The thinking was done for them. Pathetic.
Sultan Sharafuddin Idris Shah of Selangor said, 'This country belongs to all Malaysians regardless of their race, and everyone has a right to feel as Malaysians.' The Sultan and some other royalties are showing concern about the worsening racial tension in the country stirred up by opportunist politicians in UMNO. The Sultan also said that politicians should not try to become popular by stirring up racial issues. If Malaysia and Malaysians were to allow the politicians to keep on stirring up hatred and animosities, Malaysia will go down the slippery road of self destruction. Instead of building consensus and building the economy, the politicians could only think of gaining fame and self interest at the risk of driving the country into racial turmoil. Has any of these opportunists come up with good developmental ideas to improve the life of the Malaysians? Zero. All they know is to stir shit and politicise everything. How could irresponsible politicians be allowed to continue to break up the country for their private agenda?
'How can we be racist, when we are defending equality.' And he wanted to increase affirmative action quota for Malays if the Chinese were not happy with the 30% set aside for Malays. In reality, especially in university places, it is more than 30%. And the Malay control of the economy too is more than 30%. While employment in govt service is probably 70% to 90%, depending on the ministry.
William Pesek wrote another article in the Today paper, one of those that prayed that China will collapse tomorrow. Nothing worth reading as the doomsayer's mindsets are predictable. I would like to write an article about the 6 bubbles that will destroy America. 1. The huge trade deficit that they cannot afford to repay. The greenback will soon become green banana money. 2. The huge expenditure on war and the defence budget. 3. The high consumption of Americans. They drink more petrol and eat beef that is 5 times bigger than the Asians. Mother earth just cannot afford to keep feeding them without going bust. 4. The high wage expectation. They think they are the chosen people that can always command a higher pay than other aliens. This privilege is only reserved for citizens of Paradise Island. All their industries will move out in a matter of time. They are simply uncompetitive. 5. They have made themselves the enemy of the Arab/Muslim world. 6. They think they can continue to fight wars everywhere with impunity. I could have added more. But these 6 bubbles, each alone, could cripple the American economy.
Professor Muhammed Yunus was invited to Paradise Island to share his idea of a poor man's bank with Singaporeans. There were also talks of setting up an equivalent bank to help poor Singaporeans. I almost got choked when hearing this. This is probably the biggest contradiction to start with. In the first place there are no poor in Paradise Island. Or at least the poor are given more monetary aid than what the poor man's bank is giving out as loans, a miserable $50. Our govt is giving $300 a month to the poor as handouts! That must be a princely sum to go by. It is thus a non starter as a concept. The talks of Singaporean banks starting a poor man's bank is also another non starter. We used to have a poor man's bank. But since it started to charge a fee for the poor men to keep their miserable few dollars in our world class banks, I don't think any of our banks will bite at the possibility of giving out petty loans of $50 in the first place. It does not justify the high administrative cost. And how could we expect our banks to give loans without collaterals? Unthinkable. The talk by the Nobel laureate is as good as an academic exercise in futility to honour a great man.
The New Chosen People Singapore is so blessed, and so are Singaporeans. Singaporeans are the New Chosen People of God. We are blessed with all the supertalents that the world can have. Our people, including the workers, should all be paid salaries more than any other people in the world. This is to enable them to pay for all the world class goods and services at world class prices. Our properties will soon be the most expensive in the world, like our cars. Our office rentals deserve to be the most expensive as we are the paradise on earth. And our shopping paradise will price all their goods at a price where the rich and famous can afford, including Singaporeans. It is our right to price ourselves, including our salaries of workers, to be among the highest in the world. Because we are so good, we need not fear competition. For we are the chosen people. People of the world must come to this paradise to support our high standard of living. And we will continue to prosper and pay our way for all the good things in life. It is our never ending story to prosperity.
When the two govts are trying so hard to get things going in the IDR, two agencies from opposite side are doing or not doing things to facilitate the movement of vehicles through the causeway. Both sides have different specifications for tinted car windscreens which technically makes travelling by cars a pain to the travellers. What is acceptable and not acceptable is going to irritate all the drivers. Can't the two agencies sit down and talk over kopi and decide on a common specs for the benefits of travellers/drivers? Or should such a minor issue become another sore point to the two agencies and to travellers?
It was reported in the media that a 5 man SAF dental team has returned from a humanitarian mission in Afghanistan. And another engineering team is still there till Oct 31. It only reminds me of the 23 Korean hostages incident. What if? Hope we don't have to plead and bargain for their lives.
Hishamuddin had spoken again, threatening bloggers with sedition. "Umno Youth warns that freedom has its limits and we will not tolerate those who touch on issues of national stability, harmony, cultural values and the personality of national leaders," he said. Actually who are the greatest culprits in raising sensitive issues and threatening violence in the country? Luckily he did not draw his kris this time round.
Singapore will pay for its sin of waste one day. We are getting more like the Americans, wasting precious resources without a care as to how resources could be used more efficiently. We discard our cars after 10 years, some even less. Now we are tearing down buildings that are in good conditions, millions to build and millions added on by their owners. Tearing down some low rise houses for highrise is a necessity. But tearing down highrise to add on a few more floors and to charge the buyers more, all for more profits, well, it is a different ballgame. It is greed and waste with total disregard to the destruction of mother earth. More bricks and mortars, iron and steel, aluminium and plastics and mother earth will be used in the process. The immediate impact is to drive property prices up. And more people will end up having to pay more. The people who benefitted from en bloc sales will use the new cash to pay more by downgrading. This will in turn push up prices in the sector that they downgraded to. When property prices keep going up and income does not keep pace, many will end up chasing a fleeting dream. And when the bubble bursts, often it does, many will end up with valueless properties either people do not want or cannot afford to buy. The American subprime loan crisis is a good reminder of what could happened or had happened here before. When property prices were driven to ridiculous levels and the developers and all their cheer leaders and pom pom girls keep cheering that it is a good thing, prices will go higher. Now a HDB flat cost more than half a million, back to the pre crash prices of $600k and $700k. These are ridiculous prices, excessive for their real values. It will come tumbling down again. There will be no buyers to pay for them except the few who made easy gains from en bloc sales. The normal buyers, people who earned their money the proper ways, the hard ways, cannot afford to waste on such extravagant prices. Keep cheering and be irresponsible. The crash will come again. We will have our own subprime loan in over lending to the property market one more time. Non performing loan crisis. Our economy and income level cannot sustain an ever rising property prices.
The old must die. That is a certainty that no one can escape. When the body ages, all the systems must fail, and all the regenerative and defensive systems must break down. That is life. We need to educate the people on the inevitable. We must educate the people that the road to the beyond is not something to fear or to delay at all cost. The people, especially the less educated and enlightened masses, must be assured that there is nothing in dying. It is a natural path to take. It is good to live as long as one is healthy and able, and with the finances to keep life going in a comfortable way. But if health does not permit, or finances are drying up, and when age and sicknesses catch up, there is a time to let go. When the people have been taught to expect the inevitable, there is lesser fear of death by old age. There will also be lesser worry about saving not enough for old age and the expensive hospital bills. There is no need for expensive hospital bills. Why should a lonely, homeless, penniless person, with all the body systems breaking down, insist on staying alive and paying a ransom to the medical profession and institutions to remain in that pathetic and useless condition? Would it be better, if he still have some savings in his CPF or Medisave, to use it to make his life more comfortable, enjoy his few remaining years with the food that he misses or the wine he wants to taste and live life to the fullest instead of stinging to keep all the money to be given away for the medical care givers to splurge on themselves? We must educate the people to save for their own comfort and enjoyment and not to feed the medical bills. Up to a point, there is no need to throw more money away to pay medical bills when the effort is futile.
Despite all its claims of being a peaceful nation, the Japanese have been quietly and steadily reviving their militarism and are eager to tell the world that the old Japan, military supremacy, is back on its feet. The Japanese military build up is anything but small. Its armed forces are probably bigger than the Chinese in financial terms or at least not too far off. It could even take on the two Koreans combined if necessary, and China, with the Americans behind them. That is how powerful the so called Japanese Self Defence Force is. And like Taiwan, they are slowly changing all the names from a Self Defence Force that cannot be deployed to conduct wars outside Japan, to a normal, and a military machine to wage wars against other nations. Its constitutions too have been amended. And the regular visits to the Yasukuni Shrine and the drumming up of military sentiments and past glories, including rewriting history books, revealed the real intention of the Japanese. Iraq was a stepping stone to test the water. And with the Americans controlling the agenda, the world kept quiet and allowed Japanese troops to be deployed outside Japan. Now that the taboo is over, the next and more aggressive posturing will be Afghanistan. The Americans are goading the Japanese to go along as a warring partner after Europe have given up on them. Now it is left only for one war mongering nation to join hands with another war mongering nation to prove how capable they are in the conduct of war. Afghanistan is the new battle ground for imperialist forces to quell the resistance. Afghanistan will be the new burial site for young Americans and Japanese soldiers. Japan will see their first war casualties after the Second World War in Afghanistan. Two eager beavers who see military supremacy as the absolute goals for their nation, and for the egos of their political leaders. When the rest of Europe and Asia were devoting their resources and energy in the peaceful pursuit of trade and industry, America and Japan are making plans for more wars. Rice and the Japanese Sushi are in serious discussion on how many Japanese troops should be deployed in Afghanistan. Did the world see another Hitler and Hirohito in the making?
What goes round will come around. The Asian financial crisis that battered Asian economies and made them look like little boys in the world of high finance, and making the West looked like school masters having a thing or two to teach the unsophisticated Asian govt, was a humiliating experience to say the least. And IMF came around, with the Americans in charge, dragged the little Asian boys by the collar and cane on the other hand, and reprimanding, these are the things that Asian govt must do. No buts. Asian govts were told to open up their books, revealed all the bad debts, more transparency, more regulations and controls, no more subsidies, closed down badly managed financial institutions, basically, to get their straw houses in order with strict financial control, thrift and prudent govt expenditure. The Asian economies were badly managed, or Asians just could not manage them and needed the expertise of the West to clean up their acts. It is time Asian govts pop over to Washington and see what Asians can do to help the Americans. They have badly mismanaged their financial institutions and are literally broke. Not only the sub prime loans but also huge trade deficits and wild and unrestrained spending. How about Mahathir going there, representing Asian financial institutions, carrying a bag of goodies and a cane and telling Bush to pull up his socks? Imagining Mahathir telling Bush to rein in all the bad debts, closed the loss making institutions down, tighten belts, no more deficit spending, no more money for wars, and more regulatory controls and transparency? And if all these still fails to bring back the American economy to health, Mahathir can teach them to stop the greenbacks from trading and fluctuating freely. Fix the exchange rate for the greenbacks, institute currency control and stop speculations. That would be the American nightmare. What happens to all the world class financial gurus? How could America's financial institutions be so badly mismanaged and allowed to go on for so long? Did they know what the hell was going on or do they know the fundamentals of economics? Cheap loans, high credit risks, deficit budget, are all the ingredients to a major economic crisis. The next thing that will come around are the diseases on livestocks and natural disasters that the Asians are experiencing. You cannot run. It will come around.
Across the world, all the central banks are pumping money into the economy and stock markets to avert a meltdown, except for those who have delinked themselves from the American capitalist system, eg the muslim states and Myanmar. What an irony. They are saved from a world system that is built on greed, exploitation and mismanagement by the Americans. And the Americans are pouring good money to chase after bad money, US$38 billion in the last few days to buy up bad sub prime mortages. When the fundamentals are wrong, it will go badly wrong. Spending and living on credit without thinking of repaying, or extending credit to unworthy customers, like our Ah Long, are awaiting a disaster of unimaginable proportion. The Ah Longs will find all ways to recover their loans. The Americans think that there is no need to recover these loans and will keep refinancing them over time, just like their trade deficits. Can it last? While the Americans were deceiving themselves into the sub prime mortgage industry, the bad thing is that they are exporting these poor credit risks to the rest of the world. Many unsuspecting countries and funds were lured into investing in such mortgages. And Murphy's Law was waiting to prove itself right anytime. Dow was down about 200 pts last night but managed to crawl back to lose only 31 pts. What a close call.
Singaporeans, at least 80% of them, are having a nightmare that they have insufficient savings for old age and retirement. Why is there so much hype and obsession about savings? Insufficient savings have been an issue as old as prostitution. The people of the world have insufficient savings to retire like kings and queens. But many will still live and survive even with little or no savings. The present assumption is that everyone must retire with a huge nest egg, scrimping from their daily needs, so that when they retired, they will be richer and have more money to spend than when they were healthy, young and working. And there is also this assumption that the cost of inflation will outrun all their savings and they will never have enough. Another part of the equation is to take away all family support and the asset esp the HDB flat that will also become quite a bundle with inflation. And of course when all these oldies are old and feeble, they need to spend more to live like healthy young things with a growing appetite to spend and party. And now people are encouraged to work for as long as they are alive. Actually as long as one is able to find a job that one can work till one drops dead, there is no need for savings. The longer one works, the shorter one has to live on one's savings. So the lesser savings is needed. If only more jobs can be created for the oldies. Who needs all the pretty young salesgirls or salesboys when these jobs can be done by granddads and grandmas, and at lower cost? Singaporeans are over saving, and for what? Oh to feed the ever increasing hospital bills and other cost of living.
With so many incidents of price hikes and profiteering, the Dept of Statistics should conduct a survey on the prices of food sold in all hawker centres and food courts, plus shops. The survey form shall list out all the items on sale, what is the latest price, when was it changed and what were the last three prices. Make this a compulsory survey like the household surveys and not completing them honestly will be heavily fined. Once the hawkers and stall holders have submitted their guilt in black and white, then go after them one by one, at your own time.
With a few new additions 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. Brutal Truth: Utter only by the super rich and super talents. 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. NKF: Every Singaporean knows what it means. 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. Privatisation: This is a process to make public service organisations more efficient. Once they are privatised, the have to operate to make profits. Inevitably all become more efficient. Quitters: Applicable to Singaporeans who can't make it here. Redbeanforum = online rantings in futility? ;P Retirement age: Not applicable in politics Shareholders' interest: This is used to justify profit at all cost. The shareholders' interest is supreme to the interest of the general public or the country. 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 . Tooth: Tooth that Singaporeans believe in. A variation of truth. 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.