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11/30/2007

Tharman the first non Chinese PM?

He has risen and risen, holding the two important portfolios of Education and Finance. And speculation is that he is meant for bigger things... perhaps the next PM. His credential is impeccable except for the little skirmish that was long forgiven. Now it is up to Tharman to win the hearts part is easier. Winning the voters confidence that he is going to be the next PM will be trickier. But all things can happen in the city of possibilities.

It won't happen!

Imagine a couple of happy grandparents proudly walking their first grandchild. The toddler is happily toddling ahead, a step at a time like any child learning to walk does. It is a moment for the photo album. A perfect sight of a happy family. Then out dash 5 rottweilers and they descend on the little toddler. In a flash of second they were tearing away the hands and legs of the toddler apart, right before the eyes of the stunned grandparents. It is so swift and over in a few second. During the aftermath press conference the owner of the rottweiler calmly said it is natural for the big dogs to attack small things. Period. They are prepared to pay the $5000 fine. It cannot be. It cannot happen. Too much dramatisation. Neither can 5 strong young men, strong swimmers, died in an ordinary dragonboat race in a calm river in front of thousands of spectators and helpers. It cannot be. It can't be. But it happened. It is not fiction. It is real. It can be!

11/29/2007

It is only natural!

I read some comments in the report on the rottweilers biting the Jack Russel. The silliness of these comments is not surprising. It is someone else that will be hurt. In this case it is a small dog. The dog lover did not want to see the rottweilers put to sleep. The owner of the rottweilers said it is only natural for the big dogs to attack small dogs. It is only animal instinct. So everyone is happy. It is only natural that the dogs will attack small animals, including children. Do we want to see a toddler being torn to pieces before we act? No amount of money and compensation and words of sympathy and empathy can take away the horror and mental anguish of the parents should a child be torn to pieces and ended up as meal for the dog. Please do something before something ugly happens. Animals are animals and they have no intention to kill or maul little children. They did that naturally.

Temper rising

Bus drivers refused to stop their buses for foreign workers. Commuters squeezed their noses when foreign workers approached and gave them a disgusting look. What more? Human beans are human beans. Not many are saints. The little irritation in life can become a big issue to some. Some have higher tolerance level, some are more kind, some more forgiving and some more friendly. But some are more nasty and have very low tolerance. And this will apply to both sides of the equation. Bus drivers can drive off. But they may end up as the punching bag of angry foreign workers. People may squeeze their noses or walk away. One day they may get slap and punch by angry foreign workers as well for being rude. Then what?

Petrol prices up again

This is the second increase in two months. Petrol prices of 95 and 98 are over $2, at $2.006 and $2.080 and premium 98 is $2.246. But this increase is definitely due to external factors and no one can do anything about it. I wonder if there is any exceptional talent that can bring oil prices down. With petrol prices up, all things must go up accordingly as transportation is a major item in many businesses. We will just have to get use to higher prices of everything.

11/28/2007

Singapore has a stronger case

In the editorial page of the Straits Times today Andy Ho wrote an article on the legal arguments in Hague. He concluded, like all Singaporeans, that Singapore had a stronger case. With selective hearing and vested interests of course. And this is bad. We owned the islands for more than 130 years and we only have a stronger case to retain it. We should be in a position to say there is no case. A stronger case can still lose and we stand to lose ownership of the islands. I am getting jittery.

The danger of racial strife

The riotings in France and in Malaysia can happen here anytime. What happened in Malaysia was beyond the control of the early leaders of the Malay Peninsula. What happened in France and Britain, were from policies arising from a guilt mindset. After ravishing the wealth of the colonised people, the Brits and French felt guilty and needed to redeem themselves by importing immigrants from their ex colonies. Do we have to voluntarily create more problems for the future? The problems that we are creating will be enormous as our locals could become a minority. In big countries, the immigrants will take a long time to grow to a significant number. Our small population makes us very vulnerable. Why are we asking for it?

More tragedies waiting to happen

The 5 rottweillers are at it again. This time attacking a puppy and injuring the owner as well. When will the rottweillers lay their fangs on a baby or small children before we call for a major board of inquiry like the dragon boat tragedy? If we are to shut up and accept that nothing will happen and let the rottweillers and big dog owners to go the way they are doing, when the next tragedy occurs, people will again all have a lot of questions and clever answers to tell. We told you so. The people who allow all these big dogs to run wild with the potential of maiming lives, the dog owners and the policy makers who think that nothing of the sort will happen, shall be hanged if it did happened. Do something now. Don't have to wait for another dragonboat inquiry to regret. Don't have to hear the wails of grief to feel sorry.

Dragon boat tragedy

Time to blame someone else. There were many letters and comments all over the msm and cyberspace about what should have been done to prevent the tragedy. Everyone is so much wiser after the event. Won't all these recommendations and suggestions been implemented long ago? Why is it now that all the recommendations seemed to be not in place or out of place? Simple. All we have is trust and shut up. We trust that all the clever people will have all the answers. We believe that we must all shut up and let them do the things they are clever at. So after the event, everyone starts to say we told you so. And the clever people do not have all the answers. This will happen to a people that have blind faith and a stupid mentality of not seeing anything beyond their nose bridge. The tragedy is a tragedy. 5 fine young men at the prime of their lives were gone. Did they know how to swim in the first place? I believe they should all be strong swimmers. Any average swimmer should be able to surface and tread water for a few minutes and keep his head above the water. Strange that 5 gone in such a bizarre accident. Ok, who shall we blame?

11/27/2007

Concern about survey to regulate cyberspace

Yawningbread and TheOnlineCitizen are making a call to all bloggers to present a common platform to AIMS, the Advisory Council on the Impact of New Media on Society. 'The council was appointed to study the social, ethical, legal and regulatory impact of interactive and digital media.' Alex Au and Choo Zhengxi are worried that the little consultation which AIMS had with a handful of handpicked bloggers may not be representative of the interests of all the bloggers. As AIMS's study and recommendations may form the basis of new legislations that will impact the bloggers, both are calling for a meeting of concerned bloggers to present a command position to AIMS. Making a presentation and sharing our concern as bloggers cannot be a bad thing. What I am concern is that bloggers should not participate in a body to devise ways to tie our hands, legs and neck. The internet is meant to be a free space, a new frontier for freedom of expression. There shall be as minimal an obstruction or legislation to regulate internet other than what are already in existence. There are ample legislation at the moment to take any recalcitrant bloggers to task or face the music. Bloggers should not be a party to introduce more legislations to control what we are doing. Being a participant will mean that we have agreed to abide by what we share in the crafting of new legislation. Let the internet be the free space for all, and all national agencies shall stay clear of this international virtual space. It is no man's land. It cannot be physically defined in any form. It is space like our mind, limitless and free. You can imprison a man, his physical body, but not his mind. Internet and cyberspace are of the same genre of the human mind. Do not put chains around our mind or cyberspace.

Notable quotes - Lee Boon Yang

'the mainstream's (media) future would be assured by its "ability and commitment to provide accurate and credible information with thoughtful analyses and objective commentaries".' Lee Boon Yang Boon Yang also added that msm has 'professionalism and objectivity' in its favour. This is in response to the challenges of internet. How many believe that the msm is professional and objective and how many don't?

Hindraf street protest, a very dangerous move

Though some calm has returned to the streets of KL, the Hindraf street protest is actually a very dangerous thing to do. This ethnic demonstration of force will not be looked at kindly in some quarters. Some may be thinking of staging a counter demonstration to show that they are a bigger force to reckon with. Some may even be thinking of a retaliation. Fortunately the leaders are sane enough not to add fuel to the fire. All it needs is a little spark, like the kissing of the kris, and KL will be flooded by blood. We will have a bigger May 13! It is so close and so dangerous. Cool down guys.

Singapore 9th costliest place in Asia

We are number 9, not number ONE. And that's bad. Some will be unhappy that we are not number ONE, the usual place of glory. Some will say, well, we are not that bad and still have room to grow. Let's try to beat Hongkong first. It is only 4 slot above us. We can start by raising our property prices to compete with Hongkong since ours are still so much cheaper. Then all the others can add up and we will be there. Then we will have another big achievement to crow about.

11/26/2007

Charity and mercenaries are incompatible

When charitable organisations are growing too big and becoming big businesses themselves, there is a need for more effective corporate governance. And this cost money especially when professionals and professional agencies are needed in the wake of several embarrassing breaches. So everyone is now calling for big money to be paid for professionals to come in and manage big charitable businesses. Is this the right way to do things? Charitable organisations are meant to do charity using public donations. The people who stepped forward to serve charitable organisations mostly came forward to serve out of compassion and kindness. Accepted that wolves and vultures came along in disguise and started to steal donation money from these organisations, these are due to lack of supervision and corporate governance. If the solution is to bring in highly paid employees whose interest is to do a good job and to demand higher and higher pay, then charitable organisations may end up collecting donations only to pay these professional mercenaries. And they will want to be paid market rates, normally a percentage of the organisation's revenue. Is this what it should be? Collecting money from the public to be paid out handsomely to mercenaries? What the govt could do is to do a little public service. Second or attach a few top notched civil servants to be the guardians, the eyes and ears of the organisations. They can recommend regulations, rules and procedures, good corporate practices, and supervise the financial management of charitable organisations to keep things in order. And their salaries be paid by the govt and not from the donations. As a public service, it is not too much to ask for from the govt. Asking charitable organisations to spend a fortune on professional mercenaries is in conflict of what charity is all about, and a conflict of interest between the objectives of the organisations and those of the paid employees. Let the two be kept separate. There is no place for mercenaries in charity. We must not encourage greed in charitable organisations.

Shut up or move out

These have often been repeated in the net and even in the msm. Singaporeans who complained too much are ungrateful and do not know how good life is here, and should shut up or get lost. They are not wanted nor tolerated here. This is quite similar to the conditions in Malaysia and Myanmar. In the former, the minorities were told to shut up or face bloodbath. The other option is to move out. In Myanmar, the people and the monks were told to shut up. Do we want to become like Malaysia and Myanmar? Where did these cocky people got this notion from? Were they thought to tell people to shut up in schools and colleges simply because people don't agree with them? Or do they learn it from their parents or from our leaders? Where did they become so uptight and narrow in their mindsets that they simply would want others to just shut up or move out? Who are their role models? Is this what we called a first world people.

Should have let the British answer for Pedra Branca

As the legal owner of the islands handed down to us by the British Empire, and having governing it for more than a hundred years, it is quite silly actually, to go to court just because someone wanted to make a claim for it. In 1965, all of Singapore, including Pedra Branca, were in Malaysia. And when we separated, if the islands belong to Malaysia, they would have retained it without returning to us lock, stock and barrel. But they returned everything to us. Period. If there is any case, we should let the Malaysians take it up with the British like the Hindu Malaysians, Hindraf, are doing. Then we can just hold a watching brief. We need only fight the case if the British wish to entertain the Malaysian claim and fight an expensive legal battle with them. And if they lost, then we can come it and fight this battle if we so wish. But we should not. It is ours and there is no need to fight in court with anyone. Just put our Navy there and see if anyone dares to take it away from us.

Is the CPI relevant and meaningful?

From all counts, the people affected by the high cost of living will have little faith in a CPI that does not reflect their plight. When prices of all their basic needs are shooting to the sky and the CPI said it was up by 3.6% is really a mockery and very insulting. If the CPI is spouting nonsense, it should be thrown out or replace by a more realistic and relevant ont. Can someone post the true items of the basket of goods that were used to measure the CPI here and let the people know what this CPI is all about? We would want to know the prices they used and the computation and see if this index is for real.

11/25/2007

The crumbling facade of integrity and infallibility

After the NKF, when prominent Singaporeans that were even hosted and feasted in all the high places by the Singapore Who's Who fell into ill repute, we thought it was only a bizarre anomaly. People tend to be very forgiving and life goes on. Then another couple of CEOs of charitable organisations fell foul of the law. One, a full time employee even absconded. Still the people believe that everything is alright. A few bad hats should not blacken the whole community of people held in high esteem. And charitable organisations continued with their fund raising as if nothing had happened. The tooth or the truth will prevail and all honest men will rise to the occasion. Is it? Is this the end or the beginning of more embarrassing tales waiting to be exposed?

Street protest in vogue

Monks in protest and road march in Myanmar against high oil prices and a military regime. Malaysians in protest for a clean judiciary and now Hindraf, fighting for compensation against the British for abandoning the indentured labour they brought from India and dumped in Malaysia. We also witnessed 35 protesters in Orchard Road by Myanmese against the military junta in Myanmar. Street protest seems to be quite fun. And Singapore has its unique brand of street protest. So does other countries. In Indonesia, you can have paid to order protesters by the busloads at will, and at a price of course. You can protest for any cause. Simply pay the price and the protesters will come, in the colour of Tshirts you choose and with whatever logos on it, including headband. Headband means extra charge. Now you know why there are so many protesters that come and go. In Singapore our protesters also come in Tshirts. Black has been used and so is red. The classic thing about the protesters is that they will come, carrying the Tshirts inside their bags. When they are in the designated place, they will then slip on the Tshirts for the few minutes of protests. When the police arrives, they will simply take the Tshirt off and everything becomes normal. Another special characteristic of a Singapore protest is that they will come in less than 4 and mingle around with the shopping or office crowd. And it will be a great achievement if they get anything more than 30 protesters. I think the Black September protest was the biggest though the number was unofficial and difficult to substantiate as it was a protest without a leader and without an identity. Singapore needs to be wary of people who carry more than one Tshirt in their bags. But nothing will come out of it as they will simply take them off when challenged.

11/24/2007

Passion of being Singaporeans

We have passionate Singaporeans who stay and passionate Singaporeans who left. But they all share one thing in common, they love the country, feel for the country and are emotionally attached to the country. And they talk and share their views of things that are happening to the country. These are characteristics of a people who belong to a country. They are not sleepers, passengers or visitors, or guests. They are owners and they feel that they belonged here. Whether they have left, or still rooted here, they are still interested in things here, the good and the bad. This kind of attachment and involvement do not come about instantly. Many who have left to be citizens of new countries could not feel so much about their new homes and neither do they talk so much about them. It will take a life time or several generations to belong and call a country home. Not just a swearing in ceremony and the collection of a piece of paper to recognise one as a citizen. Often you will hear ex Singaporeans expressing strong views about the home they have left behind many years ago. But they would not have such strong views of their country of adoption. Or maybe their new countries were too big to feel that one is a significant part of that piece of land mass. Here, one is intricately and intimately interwoven into everything around us and the people, from the top to the bottom. We are that close as a people and that close physically to feel one another. A country without a people to talk and feel for it is not a country. Views and dissenting views are two sides of a coin of a people of a country.

Hongkong MTR efficiency and cheap

Liew Kai Khiun praised the efficiency and cheaper fare of the HK MTR compares to our MRT. Its frequency is 1-2 min against our 5-8 min, its clean and working airconditioning and other facilities. And best, when they merged the Kowloon Canton Railway Corporation with the MTR Corporation, they immediately passed the savings to the commuters by shaving off the fare from 5-10 per cent. Reducing of fares is something unbelieveable in this island. It cannot be done and sinful not to continue to reap the windfall from the commuters. And the saying goes. If you want good service, prepare to pay more. And the commuters are paying more every year while the service standard is still at a standstill. Diminishing returns or it has reached a point where nothing can be improved? Or it is just like the congestion in the express ways. Keep paying and paying and the traffic jams will not go away.

11/23/2007

Blogs to fill the gap

Marina Mahathir said that as long as there is a gap between what needs to be reported in the msm but not reported, the gap will be filled by blogs or the internet. True, many things have been first reported in the net and then followed up by the msm when it is already out in the open. There is now a credibility gap between the ugly tooth and the truth which needs to be addressed by the msm but conveniently left open. So here comes the net, to fill the gap. This role has been cut out for bloggers and forumers to play. It is a very decisive role to reveal the ugly tooth.

Corporate Governance in Sports

We have dealt with and the msm has reported extensively on the misdeeds arising from lack of corporate governance in the commercial world. And this has been extended to a few prominent and infamous cases in charitable organisations. And the bad thing is that we are only dealing with the tip of an enormous iceberg. Before we forget, there have been many complaints and rumours circulating in the sports fraternity. Biasness, discriminations, cheating, collusion, favouritism, etc etc have been floating in the grapevines. Many of these cases were outright cheating and abuse of power, misplaced trust and misappropriation of public fund to serve personal objectives. Anyone looking into this industry? Sports is all about uprightness, competition, fighting spirit, honour and sacrifice, to achieve glory in the most sportsman like manner. Are our sports organisations living up to these virtues? What kind of corporate governance are there to ensure fair play, recruiting sportsmen and sportswomen to represent the country based simply on merit? There are many who are tempted to become whistle blowers and this could be very embarrassing. Or maybe all our sports organisations are paragons of virtues, clean and untainted, and are models for all to follow. But I have heard and felt the tremors.

Myth 165 - Inferior genes

Inferior genes There is this myth that is being perpetuated as the tooth in the north and to some extend in this little red dot, that the genes of some racial groups are more inferior to others. So one can blame on their genes and continue to wallow in self pity or just demand to be given handouts and a piece of paper chopped with a degree without working for it. The top PSLE student today is Natash Nabila Muhamad. A 12 year old girl from St Hilda Primary School who scored a record 294 points and 4 A stars. This is the first time this score has been hit. Her mother, Zaharah Othman, is a homemaker and her father, Muhamad, is a technician. Bet you she did not received the best that an average normal Singaporean family received in terms of tuition and all the accessory aids. But she topped her cohort of 49,817, including many foreigners from China and India. If Natasha can do it, so can the rest. Don't blame it on your genes. That is a lousy and stupid excuse. It is hard work and a little intelligence. And for those who still think they are born naturally stupid, they can live on in their own stupid ways.

11/22/2007

Run for your life

I was in the train this morning. Then I caugh a whiff of it. It was smelly. Something akin to smelly salted fish. I held on to where I stood. It hit me again. Then one local woman made her move and went to stand 5m away And the train kept moving. The smell kept knocking at me now and then. I looked around. Everyone was so innocent. I knew where it came from. After another two stations, another local woman also made her rude gesture by walking away, another 5m. Singaporeans are being forced to appear rude to foreigners. Foreigners, please pass the word around that Singaporeans do not want to be rude to them. Please tell them to wash and wash and wash till the smell go away. Then we can sit side by side happily.

Myth 164

Singaporeans not ready for Non Chinese PM I read an article by Zuraida Ibrahim over the weekend on the prospect of a non Chinese PM. It was once said that Singaporeans were still not ready to accept a non Chinese as a PM. But according to Zuraida's survey, it seems that the people are not really against such an idea. Then she questioned whether it is because it was a survey and the respondents were just being polite. Look at the appointment or election of the President who is/was not a Chinese. Was there any objection to it? It is obvious that a non Chinese President is never an issue. So should a non Chinese PM be an issue? There are two aspects to it. Until it is proven otherwise, no one really knows whether the general electorate will accept a non Chinese PM. The other point is that if you have a good non Chinese PM candidate who can win over the support of the Chinese majority, why not? From this angle, it could all boil down to the candidate himself. There is no law to forbid a non Chinese to become a PM here. With time, and a suitable candidate appearing, it can happen.

11/21/2007

Mr Tan or Mr Kow?

Gloria Arroyo Puts question mark on Charter Unless Suu Kyi is freed, it'd be diffiult to get Philippine Congress ratify it. The Australian. Nov 21, 2007 By Mark Dodd Singapore - PHILIPPINES President Gloria Arroyo has threatened to derail a landmark ASEAN charter promoting human rights and democracy throughout Southeast Asia less than 24 hours after its signing, by demanding Burma releases opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi.... " The ASEAN leaders had a full and open discussion on the Myanmar issue at our informal working dinner," said Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong. " Prime Minister Thein Sein of Myanmar made clear that the situation was a domestic Myanmar affair and that Myanmar is fully capable of handling the situation by itself. " He (Sein) emphasised that Professor Gambari should report only to the UN Security Council and not to ASEAN or the East Asia Summit." Mr Loong said ASEAN leaders agreed to respect the Burmese request but, as ASEAN chair, Singapore would facilitate Mr Gambari's meeting with "interested parties". I copied the above from littlespeck.com. I always feel very disgusted when professional western journalists, and sometimes Singaporean journalists, addressed Chinese Singaporeans the wrong way round. Who is Mr Loong anyway? I expect professional journalists to display some professionalism and respect when quoting the names of political leaders. It is expected of them to be correct in at least the simple courtesy of addressing another person correctly. Or is it another form of cultural superiority or cultural sabotaged? It looks deliberate to me. This journalist cannot be living in the outback and did not hear of a Mr Lee or two Mr Lees in Singapore. He is no crocodile Dundee. He is a journalist.

The biggest street protest in Singapore

Singapore had experienced the biggest street protest for at least a few decades. Orchard Road was a sea of red last night. Protesters, mainly Myanmese, took to the street after UN Special Envoy Gambari's briefing to the East Asia Summit was called off. And all 35 of them flooded Orchard Road. It was a sight to behold. Quite frightening.

Grateful to CPI numbers

Singaporeans should be grateful that the CPI only registered a 2% increase in inflation. For this number is used to increase bus fare. Looi Teck Soon from PTC has explained that the 1.8% increase in bus fare is determined by the CPI. If the CPI was higher, then the increase will be proportionately higher. Next year's CPI is likely to be 4-5%. So commuters must be mentally prepared for a similar increase in bus fares. But they could pray that the CPI number is lower. I am also praying for that. Never mind if a bowl of wantan mee is up by 20%. Just keep the CPI number low.

The obnoxious Singaporeans!

A few days back there was a letter in Today written by a FT complaining about the rude and unfriendly behaviour of Singaporeans towards foreigners. One example which he pointed out was how Singaporeans distanced themselves from foreigners in the MRT. Many Singaporeans deliberately kept a distance from foreigners. And this makes the foreigners feel unwelcomed. Singaporeans should change their attitude towards foreigners and show some kindness and friendliness towards them. And they can start by not walking away from foreigners or move off from a seat when a foreigner sits next to them. It is very rude to just walk away. I was in the train yesterday. After a day in the office, I was so happy to find a seat. Before I could settle down on the seat a foreigner came to sit next to me. And before his back touched the seat, I scrambled off to a far distance. What, I had done the rudest thing to a foreigner! I wanted to rest my legs and the seat badly. But I had to give it up and stood for the whole journey. My alternative was to bear with the offensive and repulsive body odour which hit me even before he sat down. I could not bear it for the whole journey. Actually Singaporeans are very kind. A rude Singaporeans could have scolded the foreigner for not washing and bad personal hygiene. And yes, I would still keep my distance from foreigners, or locals, if the body odour is foul.

11/20/2007

Inflation this year is 2%

This is the official projection. What a nice number when GST is up by 2%. With this kind of figure, Singaporeans should breathe easier as their cost of living is only up marginally. And with say a 5% or 10% increase in income, they are actually better off than last year. And they must not forget that the increase in GST has been given back to them and they will continue to get the adjustment for a period of 5 years. Come to think of it, the 2% inflation is fully absorbed. Not bad.

Life as a footballer

Life can be a breeze as a footballer. I mean a leisure footballer. One can just play football as a hobby, watch football and live football just to enjoy what one likes most. And this is despite whatever income one is getting. It is a different kind of happiness, and very healthy as well. A lot of fresh air and sunshine. A lot of sweat and perspiration, laughter and excitement. And friends. There is no need for snobbish pursuits like attending concerts or poisoning one's body with drugs and alcohol. They called it fine wine or brandy. The danger of this kind of free and easy living is that these people can be easily manipulated. Someone will tell them how come others are living in big mansions and flying all over the whole for their holidays. And that life is unfair to them. These people can easily be worked up emotionally and run wild. They will forget that it is a lifestyle choice, that they have taken a path of pleasure and lesser stress. That they play and had played since they were school children. No need to sweat and be stressed by the system. Life as a leisure footballer can be fun as a lifestyle choice.

Why is the taxi fare system so wrong?

Everything in the system is wrong. Even the piecemeal recommendation is wrong. And everyone is crying foul. How could this be when we have the brightest brains managing the system. Or we don't have the brightest brains doing it and need to transfer some of the brightest brains to look at the system? Hey, we are spending millions on salaries and this is the easiest thing to do and the commuters should not have to suffer from a faulty and ineffective system. It is so messy that you need to carry a calculator or a computer to keep tap with how the system works. And to talk above reviewing the system now is a sure sign that it is not working. What is happening?

11/19/2007

Life in the 50s and 60s

We were poor, terribly poor. We tightened belt everyday, living a day at a time. We ate things as substitution from those we could not afford. Instead of milk powder, we had condensed milk and of the cheapest brand, the General. Rice was the poorest quality. Our clothings were branded, like Moon Rabbit, Good Morning, Sea Gull and Double Happiness. We don't used hand washing solution or washing powder. A bar of multipurpose Sunlight soap will do for everything, wash hair, wash face and body, wash clothing, was bowls and pans. And we rented out every rooms to strangers. We welcomed strangers into our homes and shared everything, toilet and living rooms with them, cooked in the same kitchen, no privacy, no fear of security etc. We are going down that path today. It is progress, the Singapore way. We are better off today, huh?

Exchanging places

The Goh Poh Seng case is an example of how Singaporeans are exchanging places with foreigners, forced by circumstances to leave their homes, and their places taken up by foreigners. And the speed of this exchange is getting faster today when Singaporeans are leaving home to find employment elsewhere because they can't find it at home. And jobs at home go to foreigners. And this is considered a good thing. Goh Poh Seng belongs to a generation of Singaporeans who thinks and writes about Singapore. They did that because they cared, they were concerned and involved in the affairs of Singapore and its people. But it was a time when alternative and deviant views were not tolerated. And that mentality has resulted in what it is today, an apathetic society. Even when the country is flooded with foreigners, when Singaporeans are becoming a minority in their own home, do not raise an eyebrow. On the other hand, another line is being pushed that all these changes are good and necessary. And the masses just live and mind their own business. No one really care. So no one really want to talk about it and let children run the country. And what are their interests? Sports medals, bar top dancing, discos and pubs and high living. If we cannot find people with the passion and commitment to this country, to love this country and want to see it grow and become better for its own people, we are going to be an extinct race in no time. There will be Singaporeans, all new and manufactured overseas. The original Singaporeans, where would they be? The song that Singaporeans today are no difference from the new Singaporeans, all were migrants, is a dangerous song to sing. We are giving up our homes to strangers who carry a new piece of paper and called themselves Singaporeans. And we believe that this is good for us.

11/18/2007

Talks and more talks

Parliament debated quite a bit on the high cost of living. Debated or talking cock, I could not see any difference from what was happening in the kopitiam and cyberspace. All talks and no action. The closest to doing something to minimise the pain of inflation is the call to substitute what one is used to now with cheaper stuff. That is perhaps the only thing actionable that came out of Parliament. Yesterday I briefly saw a statement flashing past the TV screen on being kind by Vivian Balakrishnan. Yes, that is the right thing to say. Let's show a little kindness to the less fortunate. But to many successful people, what is the sweat all about? Use the car less, plan your route, product substitution, buy kopi from kopitiams that did not raise the 20c cuppa, etc etc. What the heck, everything is still cheap and affordable. And some quarters even called for taxi fares to double or triple to make taxis more easily available instead of the current hide and seek game. So, where is the problem of rising cost when people are willing to pay so much more, even for the use of taxis?

Celebrating Singaporean - Goh Poh Seng

Goh Poh Seng a cultural medallion recipient I read with a little sadness, the anticipated return of one of our cultural and artistic pioneers later this month. Goh Poh Seng was in the thick of the infant art scene within our shore. He was everywhere when arts and culture was sprouting up and breathing on this infertile ground. I remember his jazz cafe lounge where one could have a drink and participate in poetry or music, in a warm, joyous and uninhibited atmosphere. Imagine that this kind of activities were frown upon! What kind of mentality was there, then? Unfortunately that could be one of the key reasons why he had to leave this island that he called home. The air then was stale and suffocating. Breathing was difficult for artists like him. He left on self exiled to Canada where the cold artic air were fresher and allows him to live a freer life, unrestrained, undisturbed and nothing to fear. But he was disturbed, emotionally, and spiritually till these days. He has finally taken steps to come to terms with the past and is willing to walk down memory lane, to meet new and old friends once more, in the island he called home, once. Actually, he left, but never leaves....

11/17/2007

Myth 163

Singaporean inflation Why are people grumbling about inflation? This is the biggest myth. Singaporeans are all coping very well. If it is troubling Singaporeans, then we will have street protest and other forms of demonstration. The fact that all is peace and quiet is a testimony to our well managed economy. Many have been living in abundance all these years and at the worst would only need to adjust their lifestyles a little. Maybe for those who are going for annual holidays, they can consider nearer destinations or make one or two trips lesser. Everything is well.

The greatest compassion

Having been talking about the plight of the less fortunate, how to make their lives less miserable, it may be all a mistake. The greatest love or compassion is to make these people understand their pathetic situation. And how to do that? Start by kicking their arses. Scold them, humiliate them, be cruel to them, don't help them, no donations and charity, make them stand on their own two feet. Let them know that if they are not going to help themselves they will have to face their own consequences. Yes, tell them the brutal truth and let them know it. That is true compassion.

11/16/2007

Celebrating Singaporean - Dr Hui Kok Pheng

Singaporean doctor answered SMS call and rushed to KL to save life of 17 yr old Foo Chuan Wing who was in the ICU suffering from lung infection. And he charged only a fraction of the market rate for his service which was actually an out of the normal call of duty. I think money was never in his mind except to help save the boy.

Resign if the cost of living is not brought down!

That was what the Taiwanese PM was told. That was how serious their parliament viewed the issue of cost of living as it affects the majority of the electorate. It will be politically incorrect or suicidal for any MP to ask the PM to resign because the cost of living cannot be brought down. It will be an easier and pleasant ride to pretend that the cost of living is not a problem, or simply ignore it and talk about gay and something else. What I hope to see is for an honourable and gutsy MP who is passionate enough about the issue to stand up and say, 'I will resign if the cost of living is not brought down.' Now, that would not be too offensive and would be more palatable to hear. At least more meaningful than about discipline children.

11/15/2007

Kiasuism, new biz potential

Heard of this mother asking around on how to prepare her son for National Service. Other than the tough training and regimentation, there is also the social and health risk of training in Taiwan. Entrepreneurial Singaporeans could think of starting a course for Pre NS Enlistment Training. The course should include all the Do's and Don'ts and the hazards faced by NS men. I am going to start tuition classes for pre NS men.

Celebrating Singaporeans - Sim Kee Boon

Sim Kee Boon Another stalwarts of Singapore passed away. He was 78. So far not one of these pioneering leaders have survived the magic number of 85. In the next few years we may see more of them leaving the scene forever. What drove these men to do what they did for Singapore, and were paid much less than their present successors? They were paid well, no doubt, relative to other Singaporeans. They could easily buy several landed properties. But their preoccupation was not money. They were driven by a mission, by the challenges ahead, and by good leadership. And they strove to build a little paradise from the swamps and jungles. What were the motivations of today's leaders and men in similar positions?

Passing the cost

A forum writer complained about the rising property tax and that this should not be passed to the tenants. This is a hope that is futile and unrealistic. All the cost, business cost, will be passed to the consumers, including tenants. Commercial organisations, privatised, exist to make profits. There is a front page report in the Today paper about shoplifting and how all the cost to instal security equipment and staff will go towards to the price tag. And the consumers pay. Right, nothing new. It is only new cause people are talking back, discussing it openly in the media. Every single cent will be borne by the consumers. There is no escape.

What is Parliament?

The English word Parliament is just a mouthful. Very pleasant to sound and say. But it does not connote the importance of the institution as what it is called in Mandarin, 'kuo hui'. These two words literary mean 'country' and meeting. They reflect on the importance of the meaning of a country meeting or national meeting, discussing national issues. We are so lucky that all the important issues and problems have been solved and the country is so well managed. And this has caused problems to our MPs. They may find themselves having nothing of national importance to bring up in Parliament. And if they have nothing to say, it will not look good on them too as they are the people's representatives and should speak out for the people. So what shall they bring up to discuss in Parliament? Disciplining children and bringing up children, what couples do in bed? There must be a lot of interesting things to discuss in Parliament and then beam to the TVs in all the homes.

11/14/2007

Switch to cheaper stuff

This is a ministerial advice for people who cannot afford to keep up with the rising cost of living. And a well intended advice from a million dollar mind must be taken seriously. So I have switched from eating rice to eating porridge. I will wear Panda brand t-shirt instead of Giordano. And I will have one hair cut lesser every month. I will like to substitute the pipe water I have if there is another provider who can supply filtered urine and shit water at a cheaper rate. I will ask for a plate of char kway teow, mai sum, to save 50c. Now, Mr Wang Says So and Molly Meek, my suggestion is to go along and accept the high value added advice. Then your cost of living will definitely go down. As for the standard of living, err......never mind, can live from day to day good liao.

Time to redefine what is good for all the redbeans

The apolitical and apathetic redbeans from this little red dot have been living in an aquarium for too long. There are pluses for life in an acquarium. The temperature, water condition, etc are controlled. The type of fishes in the acquarium are controlled. The type of food and amount of food to consume are controlled. In fact everything is controlled and well. Control is a bad word to use. Everything is planned according to The ONE's plan. The ONE, the knows all, will plan everything for the redbeans in the acquarium. What The ONE thinks is good, it must be good. It is time the redbeans redefine what they think is good for themselves. Starting from what and who they think should be allowed to be the President or stand for election to represent the people. The terms and conditions should be decided by the redbeans for the good of the redbeans. The redbeans must decide what is good for them, how to live their lives and how to spend their own monies, what they want and need, and not let everything be decided by The ONE.

Ridiculous kampong mentality

One of the key reasons why Malaysia took Singapore to court over the Pedra Branca claim is that Singapore is trying to change the status quo by reclaiming more land around it. So, this is a justified reason, like the same reason they objected when Singapore reclaimed land in Tuas and the northeastern islands? These are our domestic matters. We do what we like within our own national territories. This is interference in our domestic affairs. Why can't we claim land within our national borders? Kampong headmen going gila!

Dr Wong Wee Nam - notable quote

'It is not for any individual to decide who is fit to stand for election. It is for an informed and intelligent electorate to decide who should be elected. This is a very fundamental principle of the democratic process.' Dr Wong Wee Nam. Have Singaporeans been robbed of this right to decide who can or cannot run for election and who can or cannot be elected?

Singaporeans obsession with preparing for tomorrow

'Living longer, must work longer, must draw down later, must save more, and must take care in case you live beyond 85.' Lee Hsien Loong Hsien Loong is talking about CPF and the need to keep more money for beyond 85. What I would like to tell Singaporeans is to prepare for life after 85, after death. What happens if one goes to hell? Singaporeans must prepare now, what they should do in case they go to hell or to avoid going to hell. Going to heaven is a happy problem.

The rise of Alternative Media

Below is an extract from littlespeck.com showing how important is alternative media and how hypocritical main stream media has become. We are gradually seeing the demise of msm when serious news is concerned. The credibility of msm is at stake and soon it will be buried for good. Coverage News blackout With the press silenced, Ma;aysian city-folks rely on new media and foreign agencies for protest coverage, but not so for many rural Malaysians. Nov 13, 2007 By mediaslut The Malaysian government was reported to have ordered a blackout of any news and photos in the country’s main-stream media of the BERSIH rally held in Kuala Lumpur, the capital city of Malaysia, on Saturday, Nov 10 2007. The rally was well publicised and with a blackout in old media, where did the curious or concerned go to get information about the protest? They went to the blogs of Malaysians and protest participants who took photos and wrote their account of the demonstration online. They went on Technorati and searched the keyword “Bersih” and probably visited one of the 493 blogs post tagged with the keyword “Bersih”. Jeff Ooi reported a spike of visitors to his blog, Jeffooi.com, over the weekend. From an average of 5,000 - 6,000 visitors on sleepy weekends, Jeff reported 24,600 page-views with 21,000 unique visitors to his blog on that Saturday itself. There was a time when the medium was only the radio, television and papers. The cost of producing anything for them was expensive and out of the reach for the common man and woman. The cost of distribution was also exorbitant. Today, the medium is the Internet and the tool they call a blog. Another can set up a blog and go “live” on the internet within minutes, for free. The cost of distribution has also gone down with blog search engines such as Technorati or Google. The cost of creating such content’s also now affordable to the masses. A mobile phone is even touted as the ultimate journalist tool and could be bought at a relative low price depending on the plans provided by the service provider. It takes photos, records audio and video, and can be uploaded to the blog in minutes. How effective is a government ordered old media blackout today? Ahirudin Attan, the person behind rockybru.blogspot.com and a former journalist, called the blackout a severe blow to Malaysian journalism as “people had to rely on foreign TV stations, blogs and wire news to know what happened at the rally”. (mediaslut) Meanwhile, Jeff Ooi wrote in his Screenshots blog: - The BERSIH rally remained top news of the hour, every hour, since 3.00pm on Al-Jazeera International yesterday. I was in the Al-Jazeera studio to give live commentaries during the 3.00pm, 4.00pm and 6.00pm bulletins over Astro Channel 513. There will be a live crossover with Anwar Ibrahim during the 8.00pm prime time news last night. There are visuals that show Al-Jazeera correspondent getting doused in the chemical-laced waterjets the Police shot at the crowd.. One blogger wrote, “Malaysian journalism took a severe blow. People had to rely on foreign tv stations, blogs and wire news to know what happened at the rally. ”There was hardly any report in the government-controlled media.” Another, anil netto, added: “Mainstream media coverage was pathetic. I woke up this morning expecting it to be front-page news. After all, news of the protest gathering had flashed across the globe yesterday. ”But when I saw the front page of The Sunday Star today… zilch, nada, nothing…. Was this for real? It seemed as if I must have been on a different planet. ”It was only reported half-heartedly on page 8. Tens of thousands of people had brought Kuala Lumpur to a virtual standstill the day before and .. Page 8!” Nov 13, 2007

UMNO lacking in confidence

Reading from Malaysian PM’s speech, Sin Chew daily columnist notes ruling party is short of confidence. By Tat Tian Yan Does anyone know the title of the opening speech by part president and Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi to the just ended UMNO General Assembly? Not many people will realise it. Here it is: “Strengthening Confidence – Venturing Into A New Era”. The most important word is “confidence”. “Confidence” is the weakness of UMNO. In fact, UMNO has everything, be it power, resources, party members, the vote and so on. However, they are lacking confidence. Abdullah knows this as a fact. But the majority of the party members, and even the high-level cadres are not aware of it. They feel insecure because they are lacking confidence. Their tough look is very often used to hide their deep unease. Therefore, we can see a lot of “terms” in the UMNO General Assembly. The most common terms are “Do not challenge us”, “Our patience is limited”, “We have already sacrificed too much” and so on. "They feel insecure because they are lacking confidence." These “terms” reflect the collective psyche. The above is an extract from littlespeck.com I rather see this lack of confidence from a different angle. What UMNO needs are able leaders who are development minded, take on projects to develop the country, introduce positive and pro business and development policies to drive the economy. What UMNO now has is a bunch of politicians who spend their time politiking and how to line their pockets. How many of them have come out with ideas, serious development and economic ideas and push them through? Practically zero. And worst, any big idea, other than the stupid crooked bridge, will be torn down to pieces for fear that they make less and the investors make more. With this type of frog in the well mentality, Malaysia cannot progress. And as it starts to regress and go down the hill, the politicians will keep on inciting the people to raise tension. That is what the Malaysian politicians in UMNO are good at and are doing everyday to keep their bank account growing.

$2 billion projects delayed

The delay is to reduce the reliance on more foreign workers. Has the message of the presence of a sea of foreign workers sank in? The daily commentary and expression of views in the msm are signs that the welcome is wearing thin. The agitations and discomfort will grow as time goes by. Now what it needs is for some foreign workers to be recruited into organised crimes and the wrath of the people will just explode. And when hostility blows into the open, it can become ugly. Let's manage this foreign presence and don't think that we are a country like American or Australia. We are too small and we have already too huge a foreign presence to test our tolerance. Up to a certain level, foreigners are welcome. Once the limit is exceeded, some kind of xenophobia will appear. It is only natural.

11/13/2007

1/4 tank rule for Singapore cars

Malaysia is toying with the idea of reducing petrol subsidies for its citizens. Closely related to this issue is the hordes of Singaporeans pumping petrol in JB and enjoying the same subsidies. This is most inequitable to the Malaysians as the subsidies were meant to be for Malaysians only. What I think will be a simple rule to prevent Singaporean motorists taking advantage of the subsidies is to introduce a 1/4 tank rule. 1/4 should be enough for Singaporeans to drive back from the causeway after their shopping and feasting.

Computer addiction worries Parliament

Ellen Lee raised in Parliament on the problem of her 12 year old nephew's addiction to computer games. She fears that this could be a general problem and wanted to know what the ministers are going to do about it. I hope someone will raise the problem of gangs running around night spots and slashing people with parangs. Would Singapore turn into another cowboy town or an island of secret societies fighting in the streets? Have they rid the island of loan sharks or are the sharks still swimming freely around?

Another sign of super efficient Singapore

Property prices are up. So property taxes are going up. Another big bonus for the tax dept. So high property prices also is good for the govt, or at least the tax dept. And the standard formula applies. The tax will go up. But there will be rebate for two years. You only pay more later. Get use to the bigger tax figures first so that the numbers will become more familiar.

11/12/2007

notable quote by Redbean

'It is fun to ridicule opposition parties as long as one is not ya ya.' Redbean.

Universiti Malaya 246th place!

The Times London Higher Education Survey listed Universiti Malaya at 246th, dropping 54 places. It is out of the top 200 universities in the world. Though I do not place much value in such a survey except as a guide, to be at 246th is a bit far off on any count. Given its western biased and artificiality, the survey is good only as a guide for students to know whether an university is respectable. Being in the top 50 or 100 should be a decent standing.

Not necessary for 6.5m population

Ngiam Tong Dow has reviewed his thoughts and felt that the population target of 6.5m needs to be reviewed. This is an old number done many years back and the changes in technology has made this number not so valid today. I think he is feeling the sense of frustration and despair among the population on this push for 6.5m. He is calling for a rethink. Sad that with so many brilliant brains, it needs an old master to tell them what to do. Don't they think? Are they brave enough to relook at old premises and say, hey, they don't look right?

11/11/2007

Different perspective of wrongdoings

Venerable Ming Yi said the amount unaccounted for is only a couple of hundred thousand. No big deal. 'The Sunday Times understands that the amount of money not accounted for adds up to a few million dollars, and not a few hundred thousand as the Venerable Ming Yi has said.' When people are used to big sums of money, their perspectives on the value of money changed. It is less hand half a peanut. Nothing to cry about. When they shit, probably more than a peanut will ooze out. And people were literally hanged for cheating on taxi fares for a few dollars. And public transport commuters can be jailed for cheating on the fares for a few cents. This is the new Theory on the Relativity of Money.

Malaysians marched in protest

It is unusual for such a huge turnout of mass protest against the Malaysian govt and the political system. 50,000 protesters, many dressed in royal yellow as a sign of respect to the royalties, marched to the palace to hand in a protest note to the king for political reform. The official press put the number as 10,000. Never believe in the numbers provided by the official press. What is happening to Malaysia? Has the system got so rotten that the people are rising to call for a change? Apparently, from all the happenings and reports, corruption in the system has reached a point that it is an open secret. The country is disintegrating in the hands of politicians who only know how to politic and line their pockets and nothing else. The Malaysians are so fed up with the politicians that they are siding with the royalties and pleading to the royalties to take a more active role in its politics. This is something unheard off in the past 30 years. The politicians are cornered. Their political gimmicks and games designed for their own aggrandizement have been exposed. The ground has shifted and a dramatic change of events is taking shape for a new Malaysia and a new social contract. If that is the message of this latest protest.

Raise the political barrier

Vivian Balakrishnan had a lively discussion with 100 young activists and an impressive 10 questions were asked. Not bad for Singapore standard of active participation in a dialogue. 3 questions is standard and 10 is excellent in a depoliticised citizenry. The key issue raised was the need for a high standard of integrity among political aspirants. Vivian mused that 'many people are asking us to dumb down our political system. Lower the hurdles, lower the standards, lower the penalties, lower the deposits, so that we can have apparently more contest.' He added that he 'would rather have a high political hurdles, so that anybody who seriously enters the contest is a good, strong, honest person, willing to pay the prices and able to withstand the scrutiny of the public.' In one mouthful he has said that the govt will set the rules and standards for entering politics. A hard fact that the people must live with. The power of the day sings the song. Also, no one will take issues with maintaining high standards of conduct and integrity. These must be the basic qualities expected of national leaders. What is questionable is to link ability to pay a high deposit, or rich people, as people of high integrity, is unacceptable. There are many good people with very high integrity but do not have the money for deposit and were out of the system, cut off by the system. The next point is that these people of high integrity must be prepared to pay a high price. Why should entering politics be equated to paying a high price? Who is exacting this high price and under what circumstances? When we expect good people of high integrity to come into politics, the assumption is that they will conduct themselves exemplarily and would not behave like clowns or hit people below the belt. The issue of paying a high political price is unnecessary and is a threat that our system can do without. Not that people going into politics can destroy another with impunity. Unjustified and unsubstantiated attacks on any opponent must be paid with a high price. But this high price must not be there as a criteria or condition in our political system if we are to open the net wide enough to really get the good people into politics. Yes, it is dangerous to lower the criteria to enter politics. But a good political system must not have unjustified high barriers to keep good people out. A lot of money and high political price as a threat are something we can do without.

11/10/2007

Night ERP charges

Not very long ago, if I can remember, control of road congestion is to free the roads to facilitate commercial activities. Our business and trading activities must not be curtailed by a clogged road and nothing moves. The CBD and Orchard Road gantries were set up to free the area from traffic jams. It is interesting to see the introduction of night ERP charges in CTE till 10.30 pm for home bound traffic. After 6pm, most of the commercial activities other than shopping, food and entertainment must have closed shop. And these are people going home or doing their social activities. The CTE may be slow, but it is leisure time. Why the need to activate the ERP charges? If this logic is allowed to get through, weekend and holiday ERP charges will soon be introduced as well. The activation of ERP charges will then be dependent on road congestion and nothing to do with the slowing down of commercial and business activities. Then come weekends or holidays, no chance of driving around freely. Pay to drive every where and on every day.

Pedra Branca, our island

Reading through several days of the reports in the msm on the Pedra Branca court battle in Hague, I am fully convinced that Malaysia's case was spurious. They were just grappling with straws to build their claim over the island. The msm has presented every aspect of Singapore's legitimate claim and every rebuttal or dismissal very convincingly. Reading the media, one wonders why Malaysia even bothers to take up the case and waste so much time and expenses to go to Hague. It is not only losing the case, but putting up a poor case will discredit themselves in the international platform. I kind of feel a bit embarrass at the supporting evidence and arguments put up by Malaysia. But all these are based on the reports in our msm. Malaysia's position was reported in bits and pieces, in an incoherent manner. Neither were there a decent coverage on how Malaysia rebut or dismiss our claims and positions. It would be interesting to read how Malaysia present its case in full and see if they really make out a good case for themselves. I will search the Malaysian msm for their version of the story. The other astounding impression is the comments made by the Singapore team. Their morale was high, they have made a good case, and they were cautiously confident, guarded and prepared for any surprises Malaysia may throw out. They went there to fight a 50:50 case and may lose. Hmmmm, I thought and have lived with Pedra Branca as an intrinsic part of our territorial integrity. It is ours, never in doubt, like ownership of a landed property. And if there is any spurious claims against it, my position would be quite different. I may present the case with all the legal documents. But at no time would I concede that it is a 50:50 case. I may even put in place some measures for damages and cost and make it very clear in all manners and conduct, that it is a wild claim and need to be dismissed with cost awarded to me. To take the position that it is 50:50 is already conceding that our ownership is also tentative.

11/09/2007

Battle for the right to live here

The battle to live in this little paradise has started. At the higher end, the talented level, Singaporeans will have to compete with foreign talents for every inch of turf they want to step on. And they are going to lose. For the foreign talents are going to beat our local talents till their nose bleed. So the only alternative is to look for a jobs overseas, pack up the family and go. At the lower end, the softie Singaporeans are going to compete with the hungry and toughter foreign workers. And they will be bashed against the wall. No fight. The hawkers in food courts are being replaced gradually. The mei meis in spas, health centres and Geylang are also being evicted by more willing and aggressive foreigners. Soon, very soon, the new owners of Singapore will be all new citizens, not born locally. We cannnot compete. And sadly, that is a fact. The good news is that Singapore will prosper to greater height by the foreign talents, the new Singaporeans. And we may see Singaporean maids and workers overseas. Possible?

NUS and NTU ranking drop

The Times London Higher Education Supplement has ranked NUS and NTU at 33 and 69 respectively compared to 19 and 61 the previous year. This call for alarm. Our rankings have dropped! Though the reports still considered the two universities as world class, they are dropping and will drop out of the top 100 soon. Jialat. Actually, when looking at the criteria and how the rankings were done, it is a western biased and pseudo intellectual ranking that is as good as a straw poll from people on the streets. What is so great about being ranked high by using digits on number of foreign students or faculty staff or staff student ratio? What is important should be the quality of the staff, their academic achievements and also the quality of the students produced. What is the point of ranking as number one when the students are all but average?

Would we have our own subprime loan crisis?

By the look of things, our stringent financial controls, and the CPF savings, we should not have any subprime loan crisis. So we should be spared because of our prudent policies. Spend only when one can afford it. Don't anyhow spend and don't spend beyond your means. For this, the medical services must take note and not force people to consume more expensive wards and services beyond their means. Medical costs must be brought down quickly. I digress. Superficially we may think that we will not have subprime loan crisis. But if we recall the way the prices of HDB flats were pushed to these levels without the income to match the increase, many people are actually living beyond their means. The worst hit are those that sell their first or second HDB flats and upgraded thinking that they could afford it. But they forgot that their incomes are not upgraded at the same rate as the price of flats. And all it needs is a little financial crisis, losing their jobs, and they will be cooked alive.

Another saga?

While begging has taken a different form and scale, corporate governance for such organisations are changing at an unusually slow pace. Thanks to NKF that more is being done to clean up the management of such charitable organisations. When professionals take over the art of begging and transform it into a business concern, they somehow forgot to transform the management of the organisations and its funds by bringing in the same quality of professional management. So, while the process of introducing professional financial management to charitable organisations, we are going to uncover many unsightly things, so to speak. The public must be prepared and braced up for such an eventuality as more organisations are dissected up for the full view of the donors. We may need a campaign to psychologically prepare the people so that they are mentally able to withstand the tsunami coming their way. More psychiatric clinics and pyschiatrists need to be roped in to help the people so that charitable organisations are not disadvantaged and donations do not stop coming to them.

11/08/2007

Soaring rentals!

Rentals for housing and now shop spaces are soaring. Good for the property owners. Excellent investment foresight. A little shop in a choice location can fetch $20k or $30k rent a month. And the shopkeeper will need to pay for salaries, the cost of goods and other expenses. Who pays for all these costs? The first $40k or $50k are cost to the shopkeeper. He is going to make someone else pay for it. He is there to provide a service and to make a profit. He is not running a charitable outfit. Good heavens, it is me and you, the consumers!

The new social class

We have seen the reinvention of many social classes over the years. The 4Cs class, the landed property class, the club ownership class, the platinum card class, the car owning class, etc, all status symbols of an increasingly materialistic society. Soon we will have IR membership class to wave about. There is now in the pipeline the creation of a new social class that is going to worth a small fortune. This is the new privilege class called Subsidised Class. Membership can only be attained through a rigorous means testing programme and only the fittest will get through. At the end of it, the members will hold a card that entitles them to heavily subsidised hospital wards and can save them thousands of dollars per visit. I can envisaged that fee paying courses will be conducted for people on how to make themselves qualified for this subsidised class status and privileges. And there could be a secondary market for people to loan out such membership at a fee. For people can have all their CPF and Medisave savings emptied on a couple of visits to the hospitals. But with such a card, they would only need to pay a very small portion of it. But such privileges will be very exclusive. Very exclusive, and not many will be able to sneak through the stringent criteria. But many people will be fighting for it. Imagine the envious oohs and aahs when a member flashes a card at the hospital admission counter. It is The Card to have.

11/07/2007

Curb skyrocketing prices or quit

Taiwan PM was told by his own party to quit if he cannot curb the skyrocketing prices of basic goods. The prices of food, rice, flour, eggs, vegetables etc are shooting to the sky. Quite familiar here. What is the reaction of the people? Forget about the party or parties. Other than some reports in the msm, I think Singaporeans are generally quite happy or resigned to their fate. Nothing can be done. Just tighten belt and move on. There will be no protest. Not even a whimper of unhappiness. Singaporeans are really tough in this way. Singaporeans will cope with the rising cost of living. No sweat. Life will go on. And they will elect the same party to power in the next general election with bigger margins, for a better and brighter future.

Returning to the nigthmares of the 60s

Parang wielding gangs slashed several youths in Clark Quay. And they laid in their pools of blood. One had his hand nearly chopped off. Such blatant and law defying violence are hitting the headlines more often than can be tolerated. What is happening to law and order in this island? What happened to the peaceful 70s and 80s? Haven't the triads and secret societies been rooted out from our midst? It is time to come down hard on these hardcore criminals before we ended being more infamous than JB. This will be the latest madness to chase away our tourist dollars. It is so easy to lose our reputation as a safe and peaceful city state. Bloody shit. Someone is sleeping on his job.

The stubborn idiot

Despite Abdullah's calling for less racial and threatening words or acts, Hishamuddin continued with his kising the keris antic, thinking that by insisting that it is something else, people looking from outside will accept and think that he meant no harm. This time he claimed that the keris is a symbol of power and unity. If this is the thinking of the future PM of Malaysia, then more trouble can be expected in the future. Why is it so difficult to admit that the kissing of the keris is a hostile act, or better, just don't remind people of it again, let it pass and move on from it? Even Syed Hamid could comment that leaders must 'exercise restraint and rationality.' What Hishamuddin has proven in his latest act is to entrench in the minds of the minorities that he could be a dangerous man to deal with. He is not in the mould of his more rational father Hussein Onn.

Gay debate turning uglier

Thought the gay people are very attractive. Now Thio Li Ann is being threatened with physical harm. I am assuming that the source is likely to be from the gay side. The issues have been debated at the highest source, in Parliament. It is disappointing to think that proponents or opponents could attack anyone personally and resorting to threats. This will only reflect very badly on themselves and their cause. The sympathisers may shift camp if they become too pushy, abusive and threatening. Everyone is giving everyone a decent and respectable distance. But if this is the way it is heading, the end result may be ugly as well.

11/06/2007

The Promise Land

Two Integrated Resorts, Punggol 21, The Marina Botanic Garden, Underground Tunnel Expressway, the rebuilding of old Singapore, the multi million dollar revamping of Orchard Road Disneyland, and now, the great promise of a Super Sports Hub. Cubby Leong wrote, 'Super stadia that are the envy of the world. An airconditioned karting track. A white water rafting facility, a hotel, even the opportunity to "walk on water".' These are the latest promises by bidders vying to rebuild the new Singapore Sports Hub. Singaporeans can all look forward to this great Promise Land. Provided they have the money to enjoy them. They are not for free ok. And not to forget the world best medical facilities, education and public transport system.

The Singapore Magic Show

We need population growth to sustain and maintain our economic growth. For that we need our people to procreate profusely. But with the high cost of living, any average family thinking of having more than two children is doing themselves and their children in. Not many Singaporeans can afford two children and many are keeping to one only. But the need for population growth is mandatory. We need growth, we need good economic numbers to justify high salaries and higher standard of living. So where will all these lead us to when the average Singaporeans are dwindling in numbers and being replaced by foreigners? And what will be the fate of those average Singaporeans with more than 2 children? Will these children become a burden to themselves and to society when they stay at the fringe of all the wealth around them?

What is the financial health of the average Singaporeans?

The 2% increase in GST is really peanuts. It is what comes after that is going to kill the average and below average Singaporeans. And if any average Singaporean is going to think that his normal expenses are going to increase by not more than 10%, he is insane. I am waiting for the academics and those statistics churning machines to put out the real picture of the real increase in cost of living to the average and below average Singaporeans. And with that, they should redefined subsistence level or poverty line in Singapore. How are the recent increases going to affect families with $2k, $3k, $4k or $5k income? Forget about those with family income of less than $2k. Their life is bleak. They shouldn't be living at all.

11/05/2007

Need to expand role of Small Claims Tribunal

There are many people who need to seek justice for minor cases and small sum of money owed by their debtors. At the moment many of these cases were excluded from the SCT. Many of the creditors have documents to prove the debt but for all the exclusions, these cases cannot be heard by the SCT. There is a need to provide some forms of justice and redress for the small people. Not many can afford to feed the legal attorneys with year end holidays around the world or buy another bungalow. It is unfair to expect the small people to cough out tens of thousands of dollars to claim for a debt of $10k to $20k without any guarantee of getting a cent back. And the cost of making the other party pay or facing bankruptcy is so prohibitive that many of the debtors would walk away laughing. This is injustice to the party that is being wrong. Expanding the services of the SCT would also create more job opportunities for our people.

Malays not stupid: Abdullah Badawi

Abdullah has said it loud and clear and is urging the Malays to drop the crutch mentality. No one can dispute what he had said. Many Malays have done well in Malaysia and especially in Singapore. The latter without any crutch. The problems in Malaysia are the affirmative policies, designed to help and give them a head start but ended up as the most damaging tool to hold them back. There is no necessity and motivation to want to push harder. Just ask or demand and it will be given. After more than 30 years of affirmative policies and there is no progress or confidence to go it alone, something is definitely wrong. Malaysia boleh?

Stop that tour

The tour industry is eyeing the silver hair generation for more business. They are seeing this group of Singaporeans as a goldmine. But before the silver hair go and plonk their money into tour packages, they should carefully consider the little money they are left with for their old age and big hospital bills akan datang. Base on all the current computations, many of them would not have enough to live till 80, and they are going to live to 100 years. Better not squander away those precious little savings.

11/04/2007

Medisave wiped out in 3 months

17 year old Siti Aishah suffered from ovarian cancer. It took 3 months of treatment to wipe out the $30k which her father, driver Mohammad Abdullah, took to save in 40 years. Her total hospital bill, despite govt subsidies, came to $41k in just one month. And her ordeal is just beginning. She will need medical care, medicine, treatment and hospitalisation probably for her whole life. Another half a million or more! According to KKH's chief medical social worker Sylvia Mun, only 'a 3 day ward stay for something as minor as asthma can be a financial disaster' to low income families. Middle income families are not spared either. Serious or chronic illnesses would wipe them out as well. At the rate we are going, Singaporeans will be in deep financial debt because of hospitalisation. What is a little $30k in the Medisave going to do when one is settled with hefty hospital bills? And with mean testing, only the truly down and out will qualify for govt subsidies while the so called more able, probably anyone earning $2k pm and above will have to pay a big chunk of their hospital bills. There is no escape. As long as hospital and medical cost are running away, the fate of Singaporeans are sealed. The Health Minister has been working and working hard. What is the result? What we really need is a philantrophic organisation and a few selfless people in the medical profession to start an alternative hospital to serve the people at the lowest cost possible. Something like Sheng Siong versus NTUC Fairprice. Prove to the the govt that cost can be brought down and there are people who will not be crazy about making millions and millions at the expense of the people and the sick.

Root of taxi touting problem

We have heard all the anger in display on what to do with taxi touts. Can we ask what is the root to all these problems? Cost of living? High cost of operation? Trying to earn a little more, something similar to corruption? Inefficient taxi operator systems or inequitable pay to the taxi drivers? We have heard and experienced the high cost of living. It is no longer a joke. And the govt is doing everything it could to curb the losing value of the dollar or pay. Huge payrises are the solutions. But not many people are getting the payrise. The self employed will be hardest hit. And taxi drivers are one of them. We may want to use the same rationale and assumptions to solve the touting problem like we solved the corruption problem. Pay them well, so that they will not resort to touting. And there will be better quality of drivers coming into the professions. The graduates too can consider driving taxi as a living. We will have plenty of them when the fourth university is in operation. And everyone stand to benefit, the commuters, especially the tourists, will be awed by the high calibre of our taxi drivers. The latter too will be happy with the high income. Now compare this with the 70 plus trishaw uncle that should be at home enjoying the grandchildren instead of struggling with his trishaw to pull two huge europeans and be humiliated for a few dollars. The trishaw profession, if not restructured, is a shame to this country. Our octogenarians ended up plying the streets soliciting unruly passengers. Not much different from prostitutions.

11/03/2007

Old workers now top national priority

This seems like fiction. A few years back, all the old hags were gotten rid off as quickly as you can say redbean. Now the old hags are treasures to be kept. Why the sudden change of mind? Should this be part of a long term plan, properly schemed out? It cannot be one day good one day bad. What happens to being proactive, planning ahead? This seems like fiction. A few years back, all the old hags were gotten rid off as quickly as you can say redbean. Now the old hags are treasures to be kept. Why the sudden change of mind? Should this be part of a long term plan, properly schemed out? It cannot be one day good one day bad. What happens to being proactive, planning ahead?

One directorship to do top cop in

Malaysia's No 3 cop, Ramli Yusoff, director of Commercial Crime Investigation Dept, was charge for owning properties of more than RM1 million and also for violating a regulation by not declaring his directorship in a private company. His total assets that were in question were more than RM27 million. If he would have become a politician, he could have 10 or 20 directorships and no question will be asked. It will all be above board and legitimate. Only politicians have such privileges. And he could also be given millions of shares in their govt linked companies, and be much richer than the RM27 million that he had. Must know how to play the right game.

11/02/2007

Sexy talks on radio

The msm reported that Mediacorp Radio has been fined $5000 when DJs Glenn Ong and Mark van Cuylenburg talked about sex in the morning. To be precise, it was done between 7am and 8am. What they discussed was whether men and women should make noise during sex and whether noisy men turned women off. A few hours just after bed, they may be reliving their encounters and needing some affirmation that they are doing the right things. And it is good sex education for school children on their way to schools. They will have heightened awareness of what sex is all about and would have a lot of questions to ask their sex education teachers. Mediacorp should take the opportunity to have a radio channel devoted to sexy talks since it is so popular and they have enthusiatic DJs to anchor the programme. It will be a really hot and steamy channel. And more money will roll in from the advertisers. From the hotels in Geylang as well.

The years that Asean squandered away

China made the decision to open up their economy in 1978. It was, till then, a closed and very backward country and economy. In 1978, Asean and several countries within Asean were already a mini economic powerhouse compare to the China. What happens today is that China and India have leapfrogged over Asean and are now two big engines that run the world economy. Where is Asean? Still stuck in its own bickering over national interest and pride but not moving anywhere. We laugh at the two giants, India and China, as slow, difficult to manage with gigantic population and infrastructure problems. They have got their acts together. Have Asean got theirs together? Hsien Loong called for more rapid liberalisation, opening up of the skies and economies. There were several attempts at building growth triangles but only to fizzle out like the opening of a bottle of coke. Only some gases made a little noise. And the world moves ahead.

11/01/2007

The international dumb asses

If pay be the criteria for intelligence, these must be the dumb asses in international politics. Russian President Vladimir Putin S$113,000 pa French President Nicolas Sarkozy S$480,000 British PM Gordon Brown S$534,000 German Chancellor Angela Merkel S$544,000 Irish PM Bertie Ahern S$620,00 These dumb asses were so shortchanged that they didn't know their market values.

My take on the mean criteria

With means testing becoming a reality, let's guess what the criteria will be to qualify people for medical subsidies. Starting at C wards. First condition will be living in rental flats. Personal income not more than $800 pm and household income not more than $1,500. Also there must be no savings and the Medisave account must have less than $3000. For B2 wards, subsidies will be eligible to those living in 3 rm HDB flats or equivalent. Personal income should not be more than $1500 pm and household income not more than $3000. And Medisave should not be less than $10000. For B1 subsidies, only for those living in 4 rm HDB flats. Personal income less than $2000 and household income less than $4000. Medisave account should be less than $15000. I think these could be the possible conditions for means testing. Anyone in better conditions than these should be warded in B1 or A wards and pay accordingly. The poorer people will thus benefit from lesser people competiting for the subsidies while more people will have to pay the full rate, providing more subsidies for the poorer people. Brilliant right? What say you people?