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1/31/2008

Singapore govt smarter than Malaysian govt

While the Malaysian govt can only think of building bridges to collect tolls, Singapore only needs to erect ERP gantries to do that. In the former, building bridges will take a long time and a lot of money upfront. In the later, the roads are all there and erection of gantries will cost next to nothing. And the money collection is instant. See how fast we generate revenue. And gantries can be added anywhere. In a bridge, you can't have more than one collection gate.

Take Public Transport Month

In view of the traffic congestion, Singaporeans should drive less. We should support Raymond's initiative by taking public transport to work or play. Let's make February 2008 a 'Take Public Transport Month.' For the month of February, everyone should leave their cars at home and try taking public transport for a month. If we can do that, we may change our habit of travel and free the roads for the rich car owners. Hopefully, when the public start to take public transport, the transport companies will not find the excuse that they cannot cope and thus have to raise fares to stop people from taking public transport. Can the Raymond promise that this will not be the case?

Comprehensive changes to improve transportation

It is a major overhaul of the road system and the changes are very well thought of and should make our roads freer not from no need to use but unable to afford to use. For those who still need to use the car, they will just have to pay more. For the casual drivers, they can jolly well park their cars at home. For those who really need to drive for some reasons but cannot afford to pay, just too bad. This point may hit hard on essential driving and casual driving for those who can afford to pay. Got money can travel, even for the fun of driving everywhere. Maybe the Raymond may want to consider allowing a $10 upfront free usage for all motorists as a kind of gesture for those who may need to drive on some important or urgent matters. A second point that raised my eyebrows is the provision of electronic info for carparks 400 metres away. This is a sheer waste of public fund and technology. When use in a car park it makes sense. Putting such information on the road at quite a distance is, to put it kindly, rubbish. How would it help when 20 cars see the info and rush for a parking lot? One development from all these changes is that many will have to park their cars at home. That will provide a new opportunity for car parking business. HDB car parks can be spruced up, carpet the carpark, cameras to allow owners to view their cars in their homes, car washing facilities in every floor, private lots for owners to print their names on the floor etc etc. Aircon the carpark so that owners can read books sitting besides their $100k cars. These additional services will allow owners to happily park their cars at home. And a small circuit can be provided for the owners to drive their cars in circles to warm up the engine. Otherwise there will be starting problem from lack of use. Car parking business will be changed dramatically.

1/30/2008

I thought I have enough savings to retire

Then one smart ass said I need more money to live on before I die. They said I need more money to live on woah! Then they started to take my little savings and put them aside and said it is for my own good. And just like that! I have no say whatever with my own money. I count count and still think it is enough because I no drink, no smoke, no need go out, eat maggie mee so shiok... why do I need so much money for? Pay hospital bills? I no need leh. I sick I die, hahish. No happy no unhappy. Pssst, can I have my money back? This god no answer.

ERP needed in MRT stations

While there is this push to get the richer Singaporeans to take public transport, the people who are so used to the comfort and privacy of driving their own cars, more thoughts are needed to make sure that travelling in MRT and buses are up to their expectations. At the moment taking public transport is a filthy, smelly and unhealthy experience. The trains and buses are clean, but not the commuters. Despite all efforts to make the facilities world class, spick and span, the commuters will stride in in their dirty and smelly working clothes and to rub them against your clean while shirt or expensive blouses. They take great pleasure in doing that. Then the smelly ones. You have to exchange your Colgate Mint breath or your expensive mouth spray breath with their smelly breath. You breathe out, they breathe in. They breathe out, you breathe in, at close quarters, exchanging breath. And of course the sick, those with flu or whatever, sharing everything they have with everyone in the confined space of a train or bus. How would the richer Singaporeans tolerate such stuff when they are used to some personal hygiene and cleaner air and better smell? Maybe the first one or two train carriages should be cordoned off with ERP gates and commuters having to pay extra to get in. This will provide some separation for those who wants a little space and comfort. Such segregation is not new. The airlines, trains, hospitals, express buses etc are doing it. But just don't call it first class or any snobbish name. Maybe call it express trains or ERP, Express Room Passengers! It is unthoughtful to force the richer Singaporeans to take public transport but failing to provide a higher level of service to them. It is unthoughtful to provide a world class service standard to all commuters knowing that now all can or would want to pay for it. Have a standard service and a better service for those who want to pay more. Huh, paying more sure rings a bell.

Notable quotes - George Bush

'The Govt must trust the people with their own money.' George Bush Although I don't agree with Bush in many of his international policies, this is the most agreeable statement that came out from him. It is time that the gods and saints stop bullying and ridiculing the people by telling them that they are incapable of managing their own money. It is time that they return the money to their rightful owners.

1/29/2008

Why so many complaints about MRT?

It is unbelieveable that there are so many complaints in the msm today on the MRT. Too crowded, overcrowding, smelling people's body odour, people breathing down your neck, etc etc. How can there be so many complaints about our world class transport system? And they had just collected several years of fare hikes to improve the system. I think all these complaints are unjustified. Our trains, compare to some other countries, are so comfortable. At least not as crowded as in Tokyo or having to hang outside the train or sit on the roof. And we have been told that the trains are only 80% capacity. We can squeeze in 20% more people. Singaporean commuters are too much. Can't they appreciate that standing close to each other will be a great opportunity to strike up a conversation and get to know the other person. Perhaps they can make more friends as well. It is great for socialising. For the ingenius salespeople, it will be a good occasion to sell more deodorant. And the services must have improved tremendously after all the fare hikes. Imagine if not of the fare hikes what will be the condition of travelling in the train. Singaporeans just do not know how good this paradise is.

Things are getting brighter

This morning I work up with an urge, to take a law degree. With Singaporeans all getting richer and smarter, their reputation will also grow in stature. And they will have to protect their big reputation at all cost. Any slight will be enough reason to start a liber suit against another party. With this kind of development, litigation lawyers are going to have a ball. And it is an honourable profession, protecting the honour of all the rich and respectable Singaporeans. I will look forward to the day when the rich beggars will hire a lawyer to defend their reputation should anyone say anything bad about beggars. But let me register myself to the law school first. I am going to start practising at the age of 85, as a lawyer.

1/28/2008

Complaint Choir

What kind of performance is this? Complaints, complaints, complaints! Why don't they sing praises? Do they think that just because we are opening up, getting looser, foreigners can come here and sing about complaints? Complaints about Singapore are only for Singaporeans. Foreigners can sing or joke about our complaints outside of Singapore. Then we can shut our ears to them and we will be alright, and they will be alright too. The complaint Choir can only perform by Singaporeans only. I think this is something understood by all. Sometimes people also not happy if I make negative comments about Singaporeans and they tell me to shut up or shift out too. We are really uptight aren't we? We cannot joke about ourselves or complaint about things that we are not happy about. For doing so is just like telling lies. We need to sing more hymns and praises and everyone will be happier. Can't we just hear the good stuff?

Discussion is good - Tony Tan

Tony Tan said this in response to concerns raised regarding GIC's investments overseas. His position is that if the concerns raised were not discussed and allowed to build up, they may lead to some form of financial protectionism. Would Tony's comment that discussion is good applies to other fields, especially domestic issues? And would discussion is good also applies to cyberspace or only to some select groups? Is discussion good or no good on some issues?

We will improve our services

Sorry guys/gals. I was on a short retreat and no posting for a couple of days. Back late last night, glanced through the papers and saw a small piece of good news. The bus and MRT companies have announced that they will improve their services in the face of an opening up of the industries by Raymond Lim. This is the first positive contribution from Raymond in his tranportation reform. Before anything is even being done, the transport companies are already sitting up. What is most amazing this time is that they did not say anything about more fare hikes in order to improve their services. Am I dreaming? How could they improve their services without any fare hike? Does anyone notice any difference or improvement in their services after the last few fare hikes? I hope more concrete and substantive improvements can be felt by the users.

1/25/2008

Whither Singapore?

We are entering a watershed in our history. We have gone past the days of nation building and are looking at new goals and heights to scale. The days of the founding fathers are about over. It is time to ponder where we are heading? The earlier days are simpler. Economic growth and filling the stomach and a roof over our heads. Now economic growth is not everything. There are more choices, right choices and wrong choices. Oops, let me backtrack a bit. Economic growth or more money in the pocket is still very important. Yes we have plenty of choices that money can buy. We are now in the phase of looking for the good life. What is the good life? All the glitters, all the wine, women and song. This is like the prime years of the Tang Dynasty.

Some Taxi drivers still complaining

When an average taxi driver is getting more than what he got previously, why are some still complaining? There are bound to have some who earn more and some lesser. But as the average income is more, than generally more will get more. For those who are getting less, either they are taking too much kopi breaks or not working hard enough. Drive a few rounds more and their income will rise. They are not saying that the numbers given are a lie. Several taxi operators have also support the better numbers.

1/24/2008

I got this good news

Heard over the news that our taxi problem is more or less resolved. Taxi passengers are happier as the waiting time has been halved. And taxi drivers' income is also better than before. Now we have happy passengers, happy drivers and happy taxi operators.

Can we afford 6.5m?

In many respects we can. But in the area of transportation, I doubt we can keep pushing further. Under the present 4.5m, we are greatly stressed. We are at the verge of erecting ERPs at every junction. What if we have 6.5m? Cannot imagine the congestion. Now our car population is about 500,000. Add another 2m people, we can expect another 200,000 cars on the road. Then what? Build another network of roads? The expressways, if we double it, may still look ok. It is the smaller roads that will choke up and get blocked out. There is no way one can drive out of the car park with 700,000 cars unless we are going to pay through our nose to get the car moving. We have MRT! Even now, if we add another 10% to the commuters, the MRT will be struggling. Forget about buses on the roads. 6.5m! Still pushing it?

Passing of an era

The golden years are slipping away. We are seeing the passing of the last leader of an era. LKY had just given a lecture in Saudi Arabia to share his wisdom, and for the intelligentsia to tap his knowledge. He is the last leader who thrives in adversity and transformed this island to a city state of distinction. Sadly, we are not seeing another man to fit that role. We have many leaders but none come close. None will be invited by an international audience to share his intellect. None has achieved the stature and distinction that LKY has achieved. He was and still is the leader of this city state. Our administrator type of leaders are good and excellent civil servants, making outstanding employees. Probably a product of a system that hinders the production of leaders. Men, no matter how able, who wait to be called, are not leaders. Leaders, especially of a nation, must stand out and lead on his own. We don't have that kind of leadership for the last 20 years. The golden years will still glow and glitter for a few more years before they fade away. Unless we have another shining leader to assume the kind of leadership to lead the people, not administer the people the way we are doing. Not telling the people, and not compelling the people by legislation to get going.

1/23/2008

No Petrol Day

Got the below article from an email. Hi folks,.......... Lets give it a try! Lets fight the high cost of PETROL. Lets HELP OURSELVES against the PETROL COMPANIES!! If we all cooperate, it should give a SHOCK to the petrol industry! Lets give it a try. Got NOTHING to lose !!! See message below>>>>>> IT HAS BEEN CALCULATED THAT IF EVERYONE DID NOT PURCHASE A DROP OF PETROL FOR ONE DAY AND ALL AT THE SAME TIME, THE OIL COMPANIES WOULD CHOKE ON THEIR STOCKPILES. AT THE SAME TIME IT WOULD HIT THE ENTIRE INDUSTRY WITH A NET LOSS OVER 4.6 BILLION DOLLARS WHICH AFFECTS THE BOTTOM LINES OF THE OIL COMPANIES. THEREFORE '24th JANUARY ' HAS BEEN FORMALLY DECLARED 'STICK IT UP THEIR BEHIND 'DAY AND THE PEOPLE OF THIS NATION SHOULD NOT BUY A SINGLE DROP OF PETROL THAT DAY. THE ONLY WAY THIS CAN BE DONE IS IF YOU FORWARD THIS E-MAIL TO AS MANY PEOPLE AS YOU CAN AND AS QUICKLY AS YOU CAN TO GET THE WORD OUT. WAITING ON THE GOVERNMENT TO STEP IN AND CONTROL THE PRICES IS NOT GOING TO HAPPEN. WHAT HAPPENED TO THE REDUCTION AND CONTROL IN PRICES THAT THE ARAB NATIONS PROMISED TWO WEEKS AGO? REMEMBER ONE THING, NOT ONLY IS THE PRICE OF PETROL GOING UP BUT AT THE SAME TIME AIRLINES ARE FORCED TO RAISE THEIR PRICES, TRUCKING COMPANIES ARE FORCED TO RAISE THEIR PRICES WHICH AFFECTS PRICES ON EVERYTHING THAT IS SHIPPED. THINGS LIKE FOOD, CLOTHING, BUILDING SUPPLIES MEDICAL SUPPLIES ETC. WHO PAYS IN THE END? WE DO! WE CAN MAKE A DIFFERENCE. IF THEY DON'T GET THE MESSAGE AFTER ONE DAY, WE WILL DO IT AGAIN AND AGAIN. SO DO YOUR PART AND SPREAD THE WORD. FORWARD THIS EMAIL TO EVERYONE YOU KNOW. MARK YOUR CALENDARS AND MAKE 24 JANUARY A DAY THAT THE CITIZENS SAY 'ENOUGH IS ENOUGH'. We forward so many junk email to many of our friends, now let us do it for some useful cause to cut down the price of the petrol........ REMEMBER: JANUARY 24, 2008.... NO Petrol Day...!

$290 definitely enough

The ministry is reviewing the need to revise the $290 for the Public Assistance Scheme and understandably it will take time, maybe a year, as it is tax payers money that is being given out, and got to be very careful in spending such money. In the meantime let me make a guesstimate on how much would such folks need to get by. Say $2 for breakfast, $3 for lunch and dinner. That's $8 a day or $240 pm. Another $50 for rental and PUB bills. Just nice. And at year end give them a little angpow of $50 to buy a few pieces of new clothing. That should do. For such a sum, the frugal and thrifty may even have some savings if they rely on instant noodles, add an egg, a few pieces of vegetables or tauhu or ikan bilis. Great and healthy meal and got money to spare too. If Boon Wan would to review the sum, I think he will err on the side of generosity and may round it up to $300. That will be nice. As for me, I must also plan for my retirement. I am looking for a job that will pay me $5k pm on retirement when I do practically nothing. That will be very nice. And if I spend $8 a day on food, I will have plenty of money to live like a king on weekends in Batam. Wow, getting $5k pm on retirement and doing sweet nothing. Anyone got such a lobang please let me know.

1/22/2008

Housing is affordable

I must agree with Mah Bow Tan that housing is affordable. Singaporeans have a wide option to choose from, from the exclusive condos to the rental flats. So if one cannot afford a 4 rm flat, go for 3 rm. If that also cannot, go for rental. Everyone should live within his means and opt for the appropriate housing type. Everyone has a choice. But in the case of hospitalisation, hey it is a different matter when you cannot choose which expensive wards you want to be warded. Ok, ok, you can choose even C wards but you have to pay a little more. If people are given a choice to opt for things at a lower price, then it is affordable.

Time to return to sanity

The conflict of interest between serving the people and profit maximisation does not need further elaboration. Public services, medical, education, essential services, transportations should serve the interest of the people more than to serve the interest of a few shareholders. In Raymond Lim's reform of the public transport service, nothing significant will come out of it if the interest of the people to move around, for work and leisure, is not addressed. And if these interests are curtailed just to serve a few shareholders, then we are going to incapacitate the movement of our people. When people stop moving, when vehicles stop moving, we are no better than the jams in Bangkok or Jakarta. There the traffic are stopped from moving by bad planning. Here our traffic are stopped from moving by too much planning. What's the difference? Time to return to sanity. Time to serve the people.

Help, Help, Help!

Young people buying HDB flats need help. People needing medical treatment need help. The retirees and aged and the poor need help. But everything is affordable! Why would all these people need help when everything is affordable? HDB prices are still selling above market rate. Can't this be managed so that the prices are really affordable without help? Medical fees, out of control? Nothing can be done? The poor and aged, why are they being left behind by the high cost of living? If we seriously managed the cost of essential goods and services, including HDB flats, the people should be able to manage their lives without govt help. Helping them is a reflection of policies going wrong. But we have the whole world to blame despite all the super talents and their super pay. Why can't they solve these problems? Maybe that's the best they can do.

1/21/2008

Profile of Singaporeans

My guesstimate is that 5% of Singaporeans are truly world class and 20% belong to the rich class. The next category, the above average Singaporeans would probably take up 30%. These three classes are quite comfortable in life. The next 30% will be the survival class, surviving everyday. And the rest will be the struggling class, maybe 15%. With the above demography, it is going to be very tough to plan our policies by simply pushing everything to be world class. The govt hospitals have been adapting to this reality, that not everyone is first class and have 5 classes of wards to cater for the different level of needs. Public policies must not forget this reality. By dumping world class services to the underclass is cruelty. Have mercy on those who cannot afford world class services. But if you ask the masses if they want world class facilities and services, it is like asking them if they want to strike Toto. The reply is obvious. Let us be kind by providing good and decent services to the appropriate consumers and world class services to those who can pay. Keep your brutal truth at home.

Why is cyberspace more powerful?

Other than those wild postings, internet blogs and forums have certain distinct advantages over msm. It can be very real, the feelings. And the truth can also be very real, minus the misinformation which is also present in msm. We can be as objective as msm and as bias as msm. The blogs and forums are instant news and information on a topic that is of interest to the bloggers. Not somebody else interest. We set the agenda and decide what is important to us to talk about. And we can keep it current and stay there for as long as we want. No one is able to say, it's over, let's move on. Here we decide when it is over and when to move on. Our hot issues need not be msm's hot issues. And we can harp and harp over an issue to our heart's content. We talk about issues that msm will not dare to touch or touch it gingerly. Cyberspace is here to stay to provide the views that msm could not provide or will not provide. Keep posting guys and gals.

Myth 170 - Improvement

Improvement in the commercial sense in the provision of goods and services means an increase in value of the service or goods provided. It could come in more quantity, better quality, better service or lower price. Using a chicken rice stall as an example. A stall may be selling a plate at $3 with 5 pieces of chicken. His next competitor may offer 6 pieces at the same price or add in a bowl of soup. Another may improve the quality of rice or chicken. A more aggressive competitor will sell the same thing for $2! Now this is real competition and real improvement in the value of the product or service. In a cartel or monopolistic condition, or in a make belief competitive environment, the best you get in terms of competition is hogwash. If every additional piece of chicken means another dollar, it is not improvement. There is no betterment in value. In fact it is more expensive. What about hotel selling chicken rice for $15 a plate? They provide a totally different experience in quality, quantity and service. Aircon, waitresses serving, better quality crockery, better quantity etc. And the customers are not complaining and going for more. The difference is that they have a very selected customer base. The people who are rich and can afford to pay for quality. They would not mind paying 3 or 10 times the price an average customer will pay. In the provision of exclusive goods and services, this kind of differentiation is acceptable and make business sense. But when the service is to the masses, to the ordinary people in the street, the Ah Pek and Ah Mahs and the poor foreign workers, we need to think twice about providing world class services. These people have no choices, and don't have the money to pay. On the other hand if we really want to provide world class services and price it at world class prices, it is a conscious decision. Then we can do away with the poor buggers who cannot afford the service. Tell them the brutal truth. Can't afford find alternative means. Walk or cycle. Public service and public administration is not serving the elite class.

1/20/2008

Myth 169 - World Class

As we relentless pursue being world class in every thing, we forgot that our people's income is not world class. Oops, I apologise for this mistake. Some are. What are the implications? World class means world class price tag. Period. If everything is world class, everything must be paid in world class dollars. Good things don't come cheap. The word 'world class' is becoming very disturbing to many Singaporeans. Many are getting nightmares hearing it. Singaporeans are not rejoicing that everything around them is world class. Shit, my mistake again. Some Singaporeans are frightened but many are looking forward to world class facilities and services. They can afford them. For those who cannot afford world class stuff, please snuff out. The most frightening development coming our way is World Class Transport System and you can expect world class fares.

Perfect solutions to our transport problem

1. Too many cars, increase taxes, ARF, PARF, Road Tax, Petrol Tax etc etc. 2. Too many cars on expressways, increase fees of expressways. 3. Too many cars in other roads, erect more ERPs. 4. If all these ended with too many cars in car parks, increase parking fees. 5. Too many people using bus and MRTs, increase fares. It only took me 1 minute for these remedies. Brilliant!

Born, age, sick and die

These changes the life of Gotama Buddha, the prince. Suharto’s images on TV is a grim reminder to everyone that this is their fate, especially in this paradise. It would not happen to many elsewhere. But here, everything is possible, especially when you have a lot of money to spend in your dying days. It is not cheap to have all the tubes hooked on you and running out of your nostrils and mouth and whatever part of the body they deemed fit to attach them.

If I have a choice, I would not allow it to happen. I rather have my $30k in my Medisave be locked away and then pass on to my children. Not much money though. Unlike Suharto with his millions and billions and everyone waiting to snatch it back for one reason or another. Looking at him in his helpless and pathetic state, who knows what will happen to his children’s wealth.

Matilah would say let the show go on and for everyone to enjoy it. It may be a tragedy waiting to happen.

Why we need FTs

FTs are needed here, definitely. We need the really good ones at the top, in top management especially. My years in the corporate world have exposed me to the presence of many non performers in top management, being there for all the wrong reasons. Their only interest is self preservation, and the classic strategy is not to rock the boat. Just hope and pray that everything is normal, no changes, no trouble, so that they can live through their golden years in peace and collect all the gold and bonuses along the way. I have seen bunches that just go through the routine everyday, or carrying out instructions and implementing them like robots, right or wrong, ethical or unethical, morally devious also no matter. Just do as was being told. They were practically a post box. And better still, doing it quietly, especially the unethical or unprincipled ones, and hoping that no one will come to know about them, like ostriches with their heads in the ground. How could such foul policies or regulations go unnoticed when they affect the staff concerned? Often the staff only knew about them too late when they hit them in the face. They will ask, when did these come about, why no one thinks it is necessary to tell them? The management would simply keep quiet. Don’t say anything is the smartest thing to do. If anything to open their golden mouths, stuffed with gold, it is for some routine and insignificant or irritating stuff. And this is still going on in many organisations. There are management like no management. Management is actually transparent or appears only to threaten the junior staff with their positional power. Yes we need FTs to replace such good for nothing management.

1/19/2008

Salma Khalik chastising some mean Singaporeans

While Boon Wan was trying to be as generous and not mean, some Singaporeans are urging the minister to be less generous and more mean. This has made Salma to write a piece to question the generosity and compassion of these Singaporeans for their less well off neighbours. Now, Salma has gone soft. And this is bad. Those Singaporeans who cannot afford to pay for the medical bills do not deserve to be warded in the first place. With ample opportunities in Singapore for everyone to make millions and live a life of plenty, and if these people are still stretching their hands out for subsidies, then they should be told off. Face the brutal truth. If they cannot afford it, just too bad. How can they keep asking for charity and welfare? Now this tone of mine should please the two paid bloggers in my blog.

Overhaul of bus system - back to basics

Raymond Lim is another hard working minister working very hard to overhaul our efficient transport system that has been made more efficient by privatisation and the merging of several providers to gain from the economy of scales. Why is it still inefficient really bugs me? The key changes to Raymond's reform of the system are: 1. transport system to serve commuters' interest and not to make more money. This is the most radical change I think. 2. Central control and planning by the govt and not by the providers. Ooh, are the privatised management more capable, efficient and commercially wise? 3. More providers to generate competition for better service? What, what's that? 4. This may not be a major issue, but hey, finally season pass is coming. What the above changes boil down to is that the transport system should be taken back by the govt and be made a public service to serve the commuters. The concept that these privatised transport providers would want to be efficient and provide the best service without making profit is a big flaw in the assumption. And don't ever forget the argument, the famed argument, that they have to answer to their shareholders. Then how? This contradition cannot be resolved without making transport providers as an essential govt service. I will strongly recommend that the bus and MRT systems be returned to the govt as a stats board. Then we can talk about providing a service for the people without making profit as a key objective. And if this 'stats board' is still inefficient in spite of the super talents with super pay managing them, fire the whole bunch and get a new team. Privatisation is not a cure all for inefficiency and incompetence. The concept is as tooth as the tooth. I have personally seen many private organisations managed by clowns just to protect their own jobs and pay without any concern of where the organisation is heading. I will write about this tomorrow.

1/18/2008

We have done well

I need to post something positive and encouraging to appease the couple of paid bloggers in my blog, mysingaporenews.blogspot.com. Otherwise they will keep smearing me for pointing out the less positive things around us. Like Lily Neo said, the attacks and bullying in cyberspace is not one to one but they come in wolf packs. So let me make them happier a bit. We have done very well as a country. No one is going to dispute this fact except the sour grapes. We are the pearl in muddy water, and we sparkle while others fade away. The best indicators to watch how far we have progressed and how well we are doing will be the issues raised in Parliament. We no longer talk about serious problems that will mess up the economy or the people's lives. We are talking about building dreams and bigger dreams and moving closer towards a paradise on earth. We live well, well educated, well fed, and travel around to see the world not on a shoe string budget. Singaporeans are very comfortable as a people. And now in Parliament we can talk about issues like husband and wife in bed, we talk about little girls' exploits in the internet, and we will probably talk about hip hops, about movies, importing foreign sports talents to win medals for us, about saving the world and going green, or about anything that don't really concerns us at all. Oh I forgot, we can also talk about achieving world records in the Guinness Book of Records. See, this is how far we have progressed. These are the luxuries of a well managed and prosperous country when all the real problems have been solved. Now we can even afford to set up a defacto Ministry for the Elders to look after their welfare. I could not put it better in any other ways. Yes we are doing very well.

Boon Wan's new initiative

Compulsory disclosure of hospital bills from private hospitals. This is another big step forward towards greater transparency and will benefit the patients and the industry. Don't be shy, tell us how much you charge. It is an honourable profession with honourable professionals and this should not be a problem. Actually I am not too concern with private hospitals as these are places for those who can afford and voluntarily choose to go there. They would not mind paying and they have an option not to go there. What I think will be more important will be the bills of other industries where customers have no where else to go. The first one that comes to my mind is the legal industry where people really have no choice but to go to the lawyers when they are in legal trouble. This profession is also run by professionals, honourable and learned counsels and asking them to disclose their bills will be most welcome.

1/17/2008

School bullying in Parliament

Lily Neo has had enough. The bullying is so serious that she is taking it to parliament. Actually I would rather she continue to raise the issue of medical cost and the proposed and already decided mean testing again. Such issues cannot be raised once and put to rest, spoken and forgotten. I hope other MPs will raise issues like the freedom of choice to decide how the people should spend their money and to stop the compulsory taking of the people's money for whatever good reasons. The question of the people's money as sacred and untouchable right, should be raised. This right must be returned to the people. Otherwise, we will continuously hear of compulsory this or that but basically taking away money from the people. The people no longer can determine what to do with their money. The people's money is as good as not their money. Well, would there be any daring MPs who will take up more interesting and substantive things to parliament?

Million dollar dilemma

What's that? Not me. I have not struck Toto yet. So no million dollar to worry about. But many people are facing the million dollar dilemma. Many have accepted the branding that they are real super talents. This is no longer kopitiam talk anymore. They have accepted the real monetary packet that comes with the title. They are now walking around wearing a million dollar price tag. The brand is better than Gucci or Prada or Prata or whatever there are in the market. What does this means to the million dollar specie? The ignorant or act dumb type will go on as usual as if nothing has changed except that money is being poured into their pockets. Life is just a bliss. Who cares as long as they can continue with their wine parties and karaoke every night. Then the sensible and those with a higher sense of conscience would start to worry. What am I going to do to justify the million dollar I am getting? Do I do something worthwhile, worthy to deserve that kind of money? The people that I am shaking hands with are going to ask, how much is this handshake cost? This group of talents will be stimulated to do something more. They need to come out with brilliant ideas, decisions and policies to let people know that they are not just a tooth. They are real stuff. They can't be walking around talking nonsense and doing nonsensical things. Their time are very expensive. So we can expect brilliant policies and ideas coming from such talents. Definitely not stupid ideas that Ah Beng and Ahmad can think of. Then they will be no difference. The people must all be waiting eagerly to see some great ideas coming through. Still waiting, I supposed.

1/16/2008

Silver Hair Biz

With Singaporeans greying rapidly, and all very rich, at least with a big chunk of money in their Medisave, and maybe in annuities, the best business to look at is to provide life support machines to them. Many would be needing them if they are longing to live to 100 years old. The service is very simple, just plug them into the machines when they are no longer conscious, like in Matrix, and let them hibernate for as long as there is money left in their savings. When the money dries up then it is time to switch off the machine. Added service will be in the form of highly qualified medical professionals to do their rounds and make sure hibernators and machines are working beautifully. This will be additional cost of course. Looking at it, a room can easily hook up 6 to 10 bodies on triple deckers. We can call this expensive network of machines as the Sago Lane Matrix.

What's happening?

Liang Dingzi wrote about this guy who has past the age of 62 and wanted to continue to contribute to the Supplementary Retirement Scheme but were rejected by the MOF. I would think the govt that is so concerned about retirees having no savings and wanted to introduce compulsory annuity schemes would be happy that they are willing to keep more money in the CPF. Maybe Eng Hen should have a word with MOF on this. If people are willing to save more voluntarily, then there is no need to compel them to do. What's happening?

Two most caring and hardworking ministers

Boon Wan and Eng Hen are the two most outstanding ministers working very hard to improve the life of Singaporeans. Boon Wan is cranking every ounce of his brain juice to bring down medical cost and improve the quality of B2 and C wards. Eng Hen is trying to make sure that all Singaporeans who live past 85 will still have money to spend. I was thinking of putting up a scroll for Singaporeans to sign and show their appreciation for the hard work they have put in, and to thank them. The Singaporeans felt it in their heart that all these works are good for them. But what I would like to suggest to them is not to work so hard. Take a break and go for on holiday. Let the Singaporeans take care of themselves and their lives. I think Singaporeans will greatly appreciate them for it. In the case of hospitals, no need to further improve the quality of B2 and C class wards. The present quality is very good, excellent. The wards are more comfortable than the homes of many Singaporeans using these wards. So no need to agonise over richer Singaporeans wanting to stay in these wards when they are made better. Better spend effort to improve the B1 and A wards so that the richer Singaporeans will choose them as a matter of choice. As for Compulsory Annuities, no need lah. Those who can afford to pay for them, don't need them. And they will probably say, don't waste time. Those who need them would not be able to afford them. And making it compulsory will make their lives more miserable and their pockets more empty. They will end up cursing and swearing. Those in between will say the amount will not be enough and be quite meaningless. So my best suggestion is not to do anything. Take note that the people appreciate their good intention. Go for holiday and make everyone happy.

1/15/2008

Taiwan healthcare more affordable

Liu I Chun wrote an article in the Today paper on the Taiwan Healthcare system. He said that the Taiwanese system is not only more affordable than Singapore's, its waiting time to see a specialist is also shorter. He gave an example of an eye specialist bill of $44, complete with diagnostic tests and consultations. And this is half the cost in Singapore. 'And one can see a specialist (no referrals needed) on the day itself if there are last minute appointment cancellations.' What is interesting is the World Bank Report he quoted on healthcare expenditure as a porportion of GDP, 4.6% for low income nations, 6% for middle income nations and 11.2% for high income nations. And Taiwan as a high income nation, spends only 6.2% Better still, Singapore, another high income nation, spends only 4% of its GDP on healthcare. I take this as a compliment for being efficient, providing a good healthcare system at a lower cost vis a vis the GDP. What Liu suggested, and I wholely agree, is that Singapore can afford to spend a little more to subsidise the health cost for its people.

All for nothing

Lately we are seeing many queer things happening around us and affecting our lives. So much effort and resources, expensive brain juices were made to flow, all for nothing but principles and beliefs. People believe that something is right on principles, people believe that something will happen, and they went about insisting that things must be done to fit their principles and beliefs, even at the stake of stirring up more emotions and unhappiness. Guess what I am talking about? In management science there is this concept called Pareto Principles. You do not waste too much effort on little returns. You spend effort in areas where you can get the most returns. Stop wasting time beating a dead horse.

Money Not Enough

We used to sneer at the poorer Singaporeans for their endless complaints that money is not enough. We sneered at people with $250 and asking for $50 more, the taxi drivers earning $3000 and wanting $9000 or the doctor who earns a million and wanting $5m. This is a negative way of looking at people and their drive to improve themselves. It is this drive, the greed to want more that keep these people asking for more and striving to improve themselves. We all know that greed has two sides. On the positive side it is a very powerful motivator, a great stimuli to keep people going. The news reported that Suharto has a strong will to live because of his army training. This is bull shit. It is greed. The greed to see his wealth and enjoy his wealth. The greed to live longer to protect that wealth. Greed or money not enough is in our blood. We are what we are today because of greed. If I were to form a political party, I will name it MNE Party or Money Not Enough Party. The party will then be assured of attracting the best brains to serve. The reward is real. It is truth and not tooth. Talented people will all volunteer to join the party. Nothing to hide, nothing to pretend. They will openly say they are in for the money. The good thing about a MNE Party is that there will be no hypocrisy. You get what you see and be proud of it. Alternatively can call it GIG Party, or Greed Is Good Party.

1/14/2008

Notable quotes - Khaw Boon Wan

'Test will err on side of generosity' Khaw Boon Wan Boon Wan said this during his dialogue sessions attended by more than 900 people on his plans to introduce mean testing. He promised that 'Means Testing will neither be mean nor demeaning.' The abattoir claimed to kill the pigs in the most humane and painless way. That is what we were told. But this is a bad analogy. Boon Wan was telling the people that he will be as kind and generous as possible. He tried his best to persuade the people of his good intention and that the Mean Testing is to help the poor. Reminds me of the 2% increase in GST. We shall all bear witness to his assurance published in the msm. Let's see when it is eventually introduced and whether desperate people will have the book thrown into their faces. You are not qualified. Next please. You are not qualified. This is the rule. Next please.... We will only know after the rice is cooked.

Taiwanese voters wised up

The heady days of blindly following Ah Bian are over. The Taiwanese voters have decided to take the future of Taiwan into their own hands. They decided to vote for the best man to lead them into the future. They paid no concern to party loyalty or whether Taiwan is independent or being a part of China. What the Taiwanese want is a better future for themselves and their children. Can Singaporean voters emulate the new ethos of the Taiwanese and vote for good men to lead them into the future instead of voting blindly? This is a test of the maturity of the electorate.

Celebrating Singaporean - Prof Shih Choon Fong

Professor Shih Choon Fong Professor Shih has transformed NUS to a world class university, recognised by the world as among the top 50. The only misgiving is that the population or the locals still do not regard the local graduates as good stuff. That is why we still need foreign talents from first or third world universities that are unlisted or ranked in hundreds and preferred over our local graduates. That is the irony of not having breathe foreign air. But Prof Shih has done well to get NUS of be recognised and for this he also earned a good reputation for himself. He is one of the rare local talents that is marketable overseas. I have difficulties counting how many of our great local talents that can be employed to top positions overseas.

More fears, stress and anxiety

Do we need more of these? Falling seriously ill is already a very stressful thing. Thinking of being admitted to hospital is another big anxiety. Got money to pay or not? Now must face another uncertainty, can qualify for subsidy or not? There are now so many kinds of fear and uncertainties to face before admission. But fear and stress are good stimuli to make the people woke up and work harder. How about that guys/gals, like the stimuli?

Compulsory Nannying

Did Singaporeans ask for more nannying? Sembawang GRC is going to have compulsory survey of household statistics on the number of occupants, age, sex, medical conditions etc to be submitted to the police. This will give the law enforcer a better picture of what is behind the four walls and would be able to customised help to these people. The intention is good and it can work and do a lot of good to the people who need help and the good officers who are there to provide help. But it is a double edged sword. It cuts both ways. We have heard of frightening stories of firms hiring security guards who were ex convicts and ended as expected. Then there were maids that were brought into the homes who were killers. You just do not know who the person handling the data is and what is his intention. Good intention will likely end with good results. Bad intention will end with horrendous results. And it is compulsory for people to submit their private information with no choice. Why not make it voluntary and let those who want to volunteer to volunteer with eyes wide shut? No matter how many layers of security checks, Murphy's Law says something bad that can happen will happen. And the people has no choice. It is compulsory again

1/13/2008

The worst of 2007

I reckon the following are the worst political decisions of 2007, though not necessary in order of merit. 1. Compulsory Annuity Scheme 2. Mean Testing 3. 21% salary increment 4. Taxi fare hike 5. 6 million population 6. Allowing rising cost to run wild Can any of you think of anything worst than the above? Or anyone disagree?

Replenishing the dying stock of good genes

This may not have been spoken as an official policy statement, but this is what I think could be the key reason. As our stock of good genes are dying away quickly, and we are unable to find the same quality of equally good genes, despite paying so much, it is necessary to import from abroad. In a generation or two, we will have all the great genes we need, from sweepers, cleaners, bus drivers to doctors and researchers. Then we can claim to the world that we have the best sweepers, cleaners etc or best workers of the world. And this could be the reason to pay them world class salaries as well. At the rate it is going, the workers, or those at the bottom 20% could be getting $3k-$5k pm or a household income of $10k. And they will be considered the lower income group. The average Singaporeans, with world class genes, will be getting $20k-$30k pm. This will be the future for a city of excellence in the future. Dunno what will be the cost of living then.

The Mean Dilemma

While everyone is being worked up in this mean thing, wanting to be mean but trying to be not so mean, have we forgotten about the basic problem, the unstoppable rising medical cost? Or is Mean Testing a solution to solving this problem or just a diversion, that reducing cost can quietly be swept under the carpet? I am getting some inspiration from President Suharto on how to make more money to subsidise those who are trying to stretch their dollar and savings to last longer. The rich, like Suharto, will not be embarrassed by Mean Testing. They can afford to pay. And he is paying, I hope so, for every day he spent being hooked up to all the machines and surrounded by an entourage of expensive medical professionals. This is a very lucrative market to tap on. Hospitals, private and public, should allocate more resources to provide such services and support to the very rich and charge them accordingly, and no subsidies of course. They don't mind being hooked on to machines and enjoy the publicity. Though this is what advanced medical science can do to hold on to a dying piece of living tissue, it is important for those who can afford to live this way. There are plenty of money to be made. Market the business aggressively so that the very rich can pay for the not so rich or the poorer people. It is time to restructure the whole medical profession and medical business to pursue more profits with a good reason and not continuously lumping the cost to those who can barely afford to pay. With the fear of being sick and admitted to hospitals growing by the days, no one can blame those with a few dollars in their savings, including those in Medisave, to want to hold on to them for as long as possible. No one should harbour the thought of emptying the people's life savings for their own medical care as quickly as possible under whatever schemes. For whatever there is in the Medisave may not be enough.

1/12/2008

Notable quote II by LKY

'This way you are not passing the burden (of caring for the elderly) to the next generation.' Lee Kuan Yew LKY 'defended Singapore's CPF scheme and argued against pensions for the elderly, which have to be supported by tax revenues...The CPF scheme, he said, helps Singapore to remain competitive, saying it aims for "minimum tax rates and maximum self sufficiency".' The above was part of his conversation at the Silver Industry Conference Exhibition and is reported in the ST.

Notable quote by LKY

'If we are not able to think for ourselves and decide if what they tell us is either good or useful or not so good, we wouldn't be here.' Lee Kuan Yew What we read in the news, especially the news produced by reputable msm, including Reuters, BBC, NYT or ST or whatever, read it carefully, understand them, and understand what are their agendas. Then decide whether it is to our interests or against our interests. For they are all views, not necessarily right or wrong, but views to influence and manage your way of thinking and seeing things. LKY's comment above was in response to a question on free speech in Singapore. He pointed to Taiwan, the Philippines, South Korea as countries with free press but not necessary free of corruption. The 'media itself is corrupted.' Before anyone thinks that in order to be free of corruption, we cannot have a free media. Both are not exclusive. Why can't we have freer media and corruption free? This is the same as asking why can't we pay our politicians decently, and not excessively, and remain corruption free. Ok, I admit that what is decent or excessive is relative. But we all have this gut feel when things are excessive or not right.

Mean Testing the cure all for medical cost woes

This is the gist of an article by Hobbit posted in the Singapore Medical Association News in April 2006 and reproduced in the ST today. He attributed the problems of the runaway cost and buffet mentality of patients to several causes, poor administrative system to feed patients to hospitals for polyclinics and unwarranted high cost of facilities in heavily subsidised wards. Then there are those who could afford to pay more choose not to. And all these problems can be solved by simply introducing Mean Testing. I am quite shock actually to think that the cream of the professional world could come out with such a simplistic solution to address a host of problems that is due to poor management of systems and resources. What is needed is to put a team to address the system failures and inefficiencies and cut on unnecessary cost in B2 and C wards. People opting for subsidised wards do not need frills and thrills. Just give them decent medical treatment and basic facilities. Please do not add on to their burden by all the extras of a 5 star hotel. Is this so difficult to comprehend? What is important is to look at all the costs, what are and have been included into the costs of providing essential medical services that are unnecessary? Keep the cost down and provide what the people need and not what the provider wants the people to pay for. Why not convert a few blocks of HDB style flats into no frill public hospitals, away from the 5 star hospitals with 5 star price tags? The other issue pointed out by Hobbit is the shortage of doctors in public hospitals and surprisingly the admission that many specialists are running out of patients in private practice. What is the problem then? So difficult to figure what? Do not strangle the supply of doctors. Produce more doctors from the system just like we flood the roads with taxi drivers or with graduates to be taxi drivers. As for an over supply, let the market forces bring them to their senses and an equilibrium. This supply issue applies to other professions especially the legal profession. Produce more lawyers and bring down the cost of legal fees. Why am I wasting my precious time suggesting all these measures when all the supertalents can only think of raising fees and mean testing, and laughing all the way to the banks?

More mollycoddling needed for N level students

Angry parents are blasting at a principal for advising Sec 5 students to go to ITE instead. The students felt hurt. The parents were incensed. What kind of shit to feel insulted for being told the truth? If these students do not buck up, they will only waste their time in attending Sec 5. They may have decent grades at their Sec 4 N level exam. But let's face it, the grades are being sugar coated to look good, to soothe the feelings, to make parents and students feel that they have grades of 1s and 2s. But who is kidding who? When you are in N level, the grades are not the equivalent of the Express level. You need to knock it down by 3 or 4 grades or more. The principal might appear harsh, brutal, and insensitive. Not really. There are many ways to motivate or drive a person to excel. Some may respond to mollycoddling, to bribes, to begging by parents, to more tuitions, but some will be pushed to drive themselves harder by insulting their pride. And that is exactly what the principal hoped to do to some of these students. As reported, one of the student is responding as expected. 'But having decided to stay on, she said she feels added pressure to do well: "I feel quite nervous, and so do quite a few of my classmates."' Some parents are claiming to do damage control on the pride of their children. Some wanted to take the case to MOE. These students and parents need a hard jolt to reality. The students need a lot of effort to be able to qualify to go to the normal stream. Oh they are in the normal stream already. See the pretence? Are N level standard normal or below average? If this is considered normal, so our normal students are at this level? I would advise the sensitive parents and students to read into the principal's intention positively and encourage the students to rise up to the challenge. Prove the principal wrong! The same method is also often used in the military training school when the training officer will tear the trainees to pieces, insulting them to the point of being rubbish, completely useless beans. But on their graduation day, the training officer will march to the young graduate and salute him, addressing him respectfully as Sir. Parents still insist on more mollycoddling?

1/11/2008

A better and more popular alternative

Why not have a non citizen class or all not citizens pay the full rate? After all they are all talents and should be quite capable of paying for world class medical bills. And PRs will only be admitted to B1 and A wards. The increase earnings can then be used to subsidise citizens under the present system and forget about the mean testing. This may give more votes to the party too or at least the people will be less angry.

Privatisation plays a major role in Singapore's success

Any public or govt organisations that is not performing or inefficient, privatisation will make them more efficient and more profitable. We should go ahead and privatise all govt hospitals, LTA and ERP operations. And all can be listed in the stock market.

As the worries mount

People are getting worried. There are all kinds of situations, conditions and permutations that will make any kind of mean testing inadequate. But we are behaving like the military. Once a decision has been made to go ahead, just go ahead, right or wrong, good or bad. Or else there will be a lost of faith, a breakdown in command and a sign of weakness in leadership. With whatever scheme that is going to be introduced, will C Class patients pay more or the same as B2 or B2 paying the same as B1 etc? Has the govt forgotten its primary duty of providing healthcare and let the people choose what they can afford? Or it is now the responsibility of the govt to determine who should eat what the govt thinks they can afford? Why is the govt thinking that it is its right to decide how people spend their money?

1,500 chicken culled in an exercise

This is the most realistic exercise we ever had to protect ourselves from bird flu. 1,500 chicken coming across the causeway were culled as part of a major exercise. As exercises become more serious, the more realistic the better will the participants learn and be prepared for the real thing. The next exercise on a building collapse will probably see the falling of a building with living people inside. The casualties will be collateral damage and necessary to make the exercise real. And the simulation of a terrorist attack, I can't imagine how real it can be. Wonder if any country will conduct military exercise involving live ammunitions and life being sacrificed? Iraq is a kind of life military exercise to test weapons and systems I supposed. Animals or lives are dispensable to achieve our aims of protecting more lives. All those who are protesting against cruelties to animals involved in lab test please buck off. If we can just culled 1,500 chicken for an exercise, what is a little pain and suffering. We are progressing very rapidly.

1/10/2008

What went wrong with the taxi fare hike?

The taxi drivers are the people on the ground who fully appreciate and understand the situation. They were hit hard and need to lower cost or maybe raise fare a little to cover the rising cost. They knew their customers well and how much they could afford to bear. Those who think that a hefty hike is the way are people with a lot of money and think that taxi passengers are as rich as them. This is the first out of touch premise. If they have listened to the taxi drivers, they would not push the limit that far. The second mistake is to forget the cardinal principle of little increases, bit by bit, and tell the passengers that the small increases are affordable. Then increase a little every few months to get the passengers use to the higher prices. This principle was forgotten in the heat of the moment. Insanity creeps in and we have the hefty and justifiable increases.

Secrets of Success - Raising fees or charges

This is another efficient and well tested formula. Whenever there is a need to raise fees or tariff rates, just offer a 3 month or 6 month rebate. This can be done right at the beginning or quarterly over a year. The customers will feel grateful that they have a rebate, a subsidy mentality, and actually feel good. They will forget that for a few months of rebates they will eventually pay the new rate for the rest of their lives.

ERP coming to your HDB carparks.

Well, ERP gantry is now at Lor 6 Toa Payoh. So if you think of escaping the Expressways, fat hope. Wherever you try to sneak away from paying, the ERP will come to you. Eventually the gantries will be erected in front of HDB car parks. And that will be the day when all the car parks will be turned into warehouses for brand new and expensive cars. Move out of the carpark you pay. Car ownership will still be a privileged. And driving around will be a bigger privilege. Paradise is looking beautiful where people will spend their time strolling along free walkways and enjoying the beautiful landscapings around their estates.

Who's views matter?

Several letters gone to the msm and a few were published in Today discussing why views from certain people from the establishment meant more than kopitiam talks or the masses. They took offence that the people's right of expression as entrenched in the constitution was poof poofed away. This reminds me of a Hokien song called 'kim pao ghin.' It means that only certain people's words are meaningful and certain people will only get into trouble when they open their mouths. That's life. This simple process is also very selective.

1/09/2008

$890k for a 5rm HDB flat

This is the best news today. All HDB hardlanders may find life not so hard after all. 4 rm flat should be around $700k and 3m may be $500k soon. Hey, who needs compulsory annuity with so much money in assets? Just liquidate and live the last few years in an abundance of money. Singaporeans are really lucky. So rich!

Social tension right before my eyes

I saw it last evening in the train. The apparent peaceful atmosphere was deceiving. There was this local sitting there with eyes closed and beside him was a FT. I did not see what actually caused the outburst, but probably a brush while sitting tightly beside one another. 'I know you are not Singaporean. Go back to your country.' The FT was stunned. And all was silent. Later the FT stood up to alight. The local stood up too. Both were at least 1.82m tall. Then smack smack, that was all the sound I heard as I was at the door. I turned and saw the FT standing motionless, too shock to react. The local muttered a few more harsh words and strutted off. With so many people crowding in the train or in public places, this kind of tension and violence will erupt more often at the slightest provocation. And it can become worst if it becomes a group thing.

I agree, it is afforable

9 out of 10 patients in B1 wards paid between $23,654 and $27,659 for the hospital bill. Assuming an average of 10 days stay, it works out to $2.300/$2,700 per day. The ward charge is about $160 and the rest must be professional fees and medications. I think this sum is still affordable. For that is all I can afford to empty my Medisave Account for one admission. People shall not grumble as they are paying for world class services and treatment. But when the money is spent, then how if another admission is needed? Don't worry, compulsory medical insurance may be the answer. No matter how expensive our medical fees are, Singaporeans will be able to afford them one way or another.

A mountain of political capital

Over the last 40 years the Govt has amassed a huge mountain of political capital for bringing development and prosperity to the country and people. This is an undeniable fact. Recently we are seeing the Govt drawing on this capital and spending on matters which no Govt would dare to dream of. Policies and decisions that were often an outright affront to the people were pushed out without a blink of the eye. They may think that they have a lot of political capital to spend. Political capital is very different from a savings account where $1000 spent is $1000k less and the rest remain. A single event or unacceptable decision can cause a mountain of capital to disappear overnight. Getting Chee Hian to announce the 21% pay hike and telling the people that it is not enough and another round is coming is banking too much on his individual political capital and clout. Does Chee Hean has that to carry this through? Yet to see. In my view there is only one man who has earned enough political capital to make such an annoucement and at most get a few bruises. Even Chok Tong is no longer in such a position to make such statements. He has spent all his political capital or his political capital has been spent. The rest of the cabinet, some may have a little capital, but not really that much to get away with outrageous decisions or policies.

1/08/2008

Serious flaws in the assumption on Mean Testing

Look at the numbers given on the charges incurred in B1 and B2 wards? $23,654 -$27,659 against $4,882 - $5,675 are what a patient paid. Any reasonable man will wet his pants knowing that this is what is going to cost him in B1 ward charges. His Medisave savings would not last more than one visit. How then can one blames anyone for trying to stinge and save as much money as possible in case he needs it or his family members need it? It is reckless for anyone to go for B1 and A wards to finish off his savings on one admission. And it is prudent and wise to opt for the cheaper wards. Then there is this assumption that the guy earning $10k a month will continue to earn that amount forever. He may lose his job for any weird reasons. And the self employed's income is variable. One month good and 9 months bad. I find it unbelieveable to hear that people are being demanded to spend all they can and forget about the rainy day or when money runs out.

Healthcare services profitability down

'The industry registered a surplus of $918m...but profitability and cost effectiveness ...decreased by 0.5% each.' Taking a number like this will quickly tell a story of ineffectiveness and the need to raise charges to improve profitability. Heck, how can profitability and cost effectiveness go up if rental and salary keep going up? Everyone is demanding higher pay, higher rental or just push them up and claim that the operation is not profitable. Then simply charge the higher cost to the consumers. This is a free economy running under a free wheeling supply and demand principle. The only people who are suffering are the consumers who just have to pay and pay.

Hacking away at a fundamental principle

All these talks of how much people have in their Medisave, CPF savings, how rich they are and the introduction of Mean Testing is hacking away at a fundamental principle, or a basic right of an individual. This is the right to determine your own life, how you want to spend your money, what services you want to indulge in and how much to save for the rainy day. It is not a crime to be frugal and prudence by squandering your hard earned money away. This right belongs to the individual and not to somebody else. No one has the right to tell someone to spend his money the way he wants him to. The govt should concentrate on providing services that the people need, put them on the shelf at the prices it wants to offer. Let the people choose, let the people decide what they want.

The poor rich Singaporeans

This is another secret to Singapore's success. The poor Singaporeans, many of them, are like fish in a dried out pond but there is water everywhere. Look at his assets. Probably owns a 3rm flat or bigger, except those on rentals, has a big savings in his CPF that is untouchable till 65 now, and a $30k in his Medisave which is really untouchable unless he is seriously ill. And he will have a housing insurance, fire insurance, probably life insurance, and a compulsory annuity insurance to boot, akan datang. And some will also have Medishield insurance. Give it a few more years down the road he will probably acquire another few compulsory insurance along the way. And if he is working, there will be employee insurance, Workman Compensation Insurance, and specific trade or profession related insurance. But in spite of all these, he is penniless.

Why all the big fuss?

Boon Wan has briefly suggested how the new Mean Testing is going to work. Basically simple, practical and flexible. Ok, he has taken all the comments and reservations in msm and cyberspace into consideration. Good that he is listening. Mean Testing is not going to be an easy task. It is very difficult and would require a lot of manpower, effort and resources to make it effective. Then there is the demeaning and humiliating aspects that is quite inhuman in a way. So we are going to have a simple system. What for if it can't do what it should do? Why the effort for something that can hardly work? Would it be better not to have it if it is only to be so wishy washy? The old wisdom is that if it is not going to do a good job then don't do it. Is that so difficult? Why must there be this dogged commitment to carry it through? If it is a bad idea, it is a bad idea. Mean testing is going to go the way of the proposed compulsory scheme. Both won't work but will still be made to work. One is unnecessary and the other not going to work. Why all the fuss?

1/07/2008

Prices, cost of living high?

Wrong, everything is just right. The high salaries, high prices of properties, high prices of rentals, taxi fares, hospital fees etc, everything is fairprice. All the crying, all the kpkbs are just hysterics and based on a few exceptions. As long as the demand is there, as long as people are willing to pay, then the price is right. In a market driven economy, everything is determined by demand and supply. The supply will be there as long as there is demand. Let the prices keep rising until an optimum level, then it will stabilise. This is basic economics. No one shall interfere with the market mechanism. It will ruin efficiency and productivity. Our prices compare to the big cities are still very low and have a lot of rooms to go...up. The complaints are baseless.

Secrets of Singapore's success - Compulsory

Make it compulsory Stanley Jeremiah, a chartered insurer, suggested that with the high cost of medical bills, it is desirable to have compulsory medical insurance coverage. Hmmm, we are going to have compulsory annuity insurance, now this. Actually not a bad idea. It is good for the people and will protect them when it hits them. And with legal fees getting higher and higher, we should also make it compulsory for people to buy legal insurance in case they got into a lawsuit. Make it compulsory for people who keep killer dogs also. What does compulsory means? It means your money is not your money. People can just legislate it away and make you buy things or spend your money on things that you do not need or want. Other people will decide how you spend your money. Means Testing is not much difference. You must spend your money. This is another great secret to Singapore's success.

NLB archiving home grown blogs

Who says blogs are rubbish? At least the NLB is seeing value in them as part of our historical and political development. 11 such blogs have been archived and the library aims to archive some 100 blogs by the end of the year. Among the blogs that have been archived are Cherian George's cherian.blogspot.com, Alex Au's Yawningbread.org and Mr Brown's mrbrown.com. Associate Professor Lim Sun Sun of NUS 'described the NLB's efforts as "far sighted". This affirms the importance of blogs in adding to the public sphere and contributing to the growth of public discussion.' Alex Au said, 'It shows that the Govt considers even blogs known for their dissenting articles as valuable material for our future generations.' Cherian George added, 'It is part of a welcome movement in Singapore to recognise the value of multiple perspectives in telling the Singapore story.' So, who is still dismissing blogs and internet forums as whining and of no substance and irrelevant?

Mean Testing in frontpage news

This is a very serious topic for the day and days to come. I agree with Boon Wan that while there are different classes of wards, the standard must not be lowered just because it is C wards. But the fact is also that no top doctors or surgeons would be there at C wards level. Too expensive and it is a reality that people must accept. You can have good quality doctors but not necessarily the top. All our medical practitioners are the best and trained from the best medical schools. So have no fear. The intention of Mean Testing is to make sure that the richer people pay accordingly. Maybe we should do away with all the different classes and just make people pay according to their affordability. A uniform standard of service for all. From each according to his best and to each according to his needs and pay according to his pocket. Another way of doing it is marketing and branding. The richer and more face conscious people would not want to lose face by going for products and services that are deemed to be of low class. We can rebrand the different wards to reflect the service standards and social status. A Class can be called First Class wards for first class people. B Class be called Business Class. As for C Class, the class that we want to prevent the cheapskates from not paying their dues, we can call it Cheapskate Class. That should befit those going there and getting treatment. I n a way, the poorer people would not care a dime what they are called. Only those who have money and are more conscious of their status would not want to be seen to be there. If that is too direct, maybe call it No Class Wards. In this way we may be able to do away with mean testing. The thought of it is quite unpleasant to subject the poorer people to this kind of checks. Very humiliating actually. Ok the cheapskates will still go there as their skins are quite thick. Never mind lah. There is always karma to take care of them. But actually what is wrong if people do not want to pay so much? Our medical bills are cheap compares to the West. $1k, $3k or $4k! Cheap like hell. Every Singaporeans should be able to afford them. How much is their income? $800, $1000 or $2000? What the heck, just pay or borrow a bit. The most is only 2 or 3 months income for a stay in a world class hospital. Worth every cent spent.

1/06/2008

2007's 3 earth shattering events

The first was the outcry over the NKF saga and the mismanagement of public fund when people spontaneously signed an online petition to stop the nonsense happening there. The nonsense stopped. The people are still seething at the way the story ends. The second event that caused another uproar was the proposal for a compulsory annuity scheme. Though it is in the backburner now, bet your dollar that it will be repackaged and push to the people as another great and necessary scheme, that without it Singaporeans will be in dire straits. The third uproar is the taxi fare hike. This time it is not only the people crying foul but the taxi drivers themselves. It is so remarkable that the people that are supposed to benefit from the fare hike are feeling the outrage worst.

Another reason not to have compulsory annuity

Any Singaporean Ah Pek/Ah Mah who owns a 3 rm flat does not need any compulsory annuity insurance. They can rent out two rooms to foreign workers/foreign talents. $150 per worker, max 8 workers or $300 per foreign talent, max 4 talents, will bring in $1,200 pm. Much much more than any annuity insurance schemes can pay. Also another reason to bring in more foreign workers and talents to occupy these flats. Now, why still insisting that Singaporeans must pay for compulsory annuity insurance?

Mysingaporenews, MyPaper, YourNews

Inadvertently mysingaporenews has started a new trend and we are seeing the same concept creeping up now and then. We have YourNews in the TV and MyPaper in the newstand. Yes, we are now in an era where we, the readers, the bloggers and forumers, are the news creator. We create the news we want. We decide what is interesting and what is not. We are breaking free from the era when the msm dictates to us what we can read and cannot read. This platform is your news! You decide what you want to say and hear. No one is there to edit what you say and change your wordings.

Another way of looking at the taxi issue

The fare hike has achieved its objectives, partially. At least the commuters are now happy and cheering. When they raised their hands, several taxis will zoom in. That is what paying more for service is all about. You pay more, you get the service. And for those in emergencies and needed to rush to hospitals, the taxis will now be faster than the ambulance, and cheaper too. Just a little catch. For the poor hardlanders who may not be able to afford the new fare and if they skip taking taxis, a life may be put in danger. We don't want to hear people dying because they could not afford the taxi fare to rush to hospitals don't we? And they have done this with only a 30c increase in flag down rate. I was recommending a $10 flag down rate to make it effective. Singaporean taxi passengers are misers. The taxi fare here is one of the cheapest in the world. They should be more willing to pay them for the luxury service they are getting. Just like our flats, they are very cheap compare to other big cities. There are more room to raise them higher. After all Singaporeans are rich and can afford them. And they are all getting bigger pay checks and bigger bonuses. Singaporeans can look forward to a future of plenty. Would there be a recession, or would Singaporeans price ourselves out of the competition? Have no fear. We are the best and all the big MNCs will be hear to provide jobs for us. If not we can depend on our govt and GLCs. We have a lot of money to pay out. Long live the golden years.

It is too early to tell

Election is too far away. And people are easily won over by a few goodies near the election. And why are the taxi drivers making so much noise? It is too early to tell. The fare hike just started for a few weeks and they are complaining. They did not know how much effort and studies were put in to come out with this fare hike to help them earn more. All changes takes time to work. Give it another few months and things will settle down. Once the people get use to the high fare they will have to accept things as they are. Those travelling on business and company expenses will continue to do so. Those they cannot tahan the jam in the MRT and buses will turn back to taxis, just like the ERPs. Taxi drivers should have no fear. The passengers will come back and their income will soar. There is no need to resort to giving discounts. But they can be assured that if things do not work out, they can do anything they want. The official view is that 'cabbies are essentially their own businessmen...It is their prerogatives to give discounts to their customers should they so desire.' Now when passengers are not coming back, they can go back to the olden days of 'par hong chia' and do away with the meters as well. They can negotiate with the customers for the fare. Would that be possible? Ok, maybe not using the meter is not allowed. Then be like A.L. Tan and paste an A4 paper stating the discount on the windscreen. Liberalising the trade huh? PS: This view is to please the believers or else they will attack me for pouring cold water on such a well conceived fare hike.

1/05/2008

Help needed with higher cost of living

This is the headline of Gabriel Chen's report on a public dialogue session chaired by Josephine Teo last night. 'Retirees, civil servants and salaried workers were united in demanding that the Govt do more to alleviate higher transport costs and food prices. "The current hike in taxi fares - it's becoming ridiculous," said Madam Adeline Chan....Mr Colin Tan chipped in with a radical suggestion: have a two tier GST - one for basic necessities and the other for luxury items.' Like it or not, believe it or not, the pain is sinking in. With the spate of increases coming one after another, it is going to hurt many. In another article by Goh Chin Lian, MP Inderjit Singh was quoted to say that 'one way to relieve the burden on such middle income families is to lift the GST on essential items....He also thinks that the Govt should not have allowed those costs within its control to spiral upwards too quickly...ie not just utilities, rental and other govt charges, but also the property prices.' Economist Tan Khee Giap also 'believes that such institutions and corporations as transport operators SMRT and SBS Transit, should fulfil their social obligation by moderating inncreases. "We are not saying they should run at a loss. But you don't have to make abnormal profit.' These are sensible comments by responsible people, including redbean, but have fallen onto deaf ears. What I think is that the policies are worked out and approved by people who are too comfortable in their lifestyle and have totally lost touch with the hardlanders. The alternatives suggested were not complicated and complex sciences or mathematical formulas that are difficult to understand. They are rejected probably because some supertalents insisted that their assumptions and policies are right and good and do not want to be proven wrong. The verdict will be out in the next General Election. There is no need to insist on who is right or wrong now. PS: For the unthinking doggies who were ordered to disrupt blogs and forums without questions, the above are quoted from the Straits Times, the official paper.

1/04/2008

Money nobody wants

Believe me, money on the floor and no one wants to pick them up. I was in town and walking past a shallow drain, the type that is less 10cm deep, just a little below ground level. And there were 3 coins in it, 2 ten cents and 1 twenty cents. And the drain was dry and clean. Everyone just walked by without bothering to pick them up. Now I know why beggars are asking for $2!

42,000 rental flats

We still have more than 42,000 1-rm and 2-rm rental flats and the demand is increasing. More will be built. And very likely these are Singaporeans and not just local residents. In other words, we have at least these number of families that are still struggling in our midst.

Taxi drivers earning more

Today's paper reported that the taxi drivers are actually getting a 10% increase in income. So those who are complaining of a fall in income could be a minority or not working hard enough. There are many sides to a coin. I believe in the official view. They sure have statistics to prove their point. My fear if taxi fare continues to be up. When taxi fare is high relative to MRT and buses, more commuters will switch or some will switch their means of transport. This will give two reasons for MRT and buses to increase their fares as well. They will likely claim that they need to buy more trains and buses or to upgrade their services due to higher demand. Or they will say their prices are too low compare to the taxi fares. Head or tail, the commuters will have to pay more.

1/03/2008

Renewed interest in Redbeanforum

Hi bloggers, I have two forumers who have decided to stay away from YPAP forum and post more in Redbeanforum. I hope you people can also post more there as the format there is easier to follow. Cheers

Who would like to be mean tested?

The thought of being mean tested is enough to put a lot of people off. The poor and desperate would not want to be further malu by letting people check their empty bank accounts to prove how broke they are. It is perhaps the most humiliating experience that we can subject our poor to go through. This is probably the main driving reason why the Dover Park Hospice chose to opt out of the Medifund Scheme. I remember the days of holocaust when the Jews were stripped naked to expose everything and being paraded around for all to see. Stripping a man or a woman is as good as tearing away every little pride or selfworth there is left in him or her. I think those who have very fat bank accounts would not mind being mean tested as it would be a way to tell the world how much they are worth. Can we be a kinder society? How can we if we think it is alright to subject our fellow beans to such indignity? Please tell us how the people are going to be mean tested.

HDB prices up by 31%!

Bee tang! All Singaporean HDB heartlanders must cheer for this piece of good news. The value of their flats has gone up like in the 1990 property booms. But better don't rush to sell it off yet. For one must be able to buy another place to live in. Probably not enough to buy a new one. But it may be good to know that the asset is worth more. Can use it as a trade off against the compulsory annuity scheme? Singaporeans are now asset rich again.

Confucianism and Curry Fish recipe

What has Confucianism and curry fish got to do with Singapore's success? In a bowl of curry fish, there are fish, vegetables and curry water. A few will get to eat the fish, some will be happy to have the vegetables and some would end up with curry water. Then some will clear the leftovers. Our success is to be able to convince everyone that those who got the fish deserve to eat the fish, those who got vegetables and curry water deserve rightfully deserve them too. And the cleaners are there to clear the rubbish. In Confucianism, it is to see to it that everyone is happy in their own station in life. Singapore is lucky to find this secret recipe and balance. Everyone accepts their station in life and all under heaven is peaceful. It will only break down when the curry water consumers or vegetable eaters think that they should get a piece of the fish. So far so good. Even the cleaners are happy.

1/02/2008

A piece of tin can called Art

Would you pay $2m for a piece of tin can, erected it up, and called it Art? I won't. But beauty is in the eye of the beholder. I passed the spot almost everyday and was hoping for something grand that is worth a second look when it was all wrapped up. It looked better underwrapped, at least with a little mystery to titilate the curious mind. Tell me how you feel about the erection in front of the new NTUC building as Finlayson Green.

Something to crow about.

More Swiss than Switzerland This Place Is More Swiss Than Switzerland By Graham Summers Switzerland's private banking has always been famous for two things: 1. Extreme privacy 2. Avoiding taxes There are no capital gains taxes in Switzerland, unless you're buying real estate. Personal estate taxes are generally 7%. And if you're a foreigner retired in Switzerland, you can even choose a lump-sum tax in which you only pay taxes on an amount equal to five times your annual rent. In other words, you don't have to disclose your net worth or income at all. But all of this is changing... In 2004, Switzerland altered its tax structure to crack down on tax evasion from foreign accounts. For the first time in history, Swiss banking imposed a 15% withholding tax on interest income from deposits. A lot of very wealthy p eople were very, very angry. And funds began to be wired out of Switzerland and halfway across the world to the next private banking hub: Singapore. Singapore now manages $300 billion in private banking assets. Ten years ago, it was only $50 billion. Singapore now accounts for roughly 5% of the world's private banking assets. This doesn't seem like a lot, but consider that Singapore is the 189th smallest country in the world, right after the Federated States of Micronesia. The number of private banks in Singapore more than doubled since 2000. Singapore is now the second largest private banking hub behind Switzerland. Granted, it's a wide margin ¨Switzerland manages $1.7 trillion ¨ but it's shrinking rapidly. Singapore's private banking sector is expected to grow by 25%-30% a year for the next three years. When you consider the benefits, it's not difficult to see why. Individuals worth $13 million can gain immediate p ermanent residence in Singapore, provided they invest $3.1 million in the country ($1.25 million can go toward property). Once you're there, you don't have to pay taxes on income earned abroad. If you're a business owner with operations outside the country, you get the benefits of Singapore's education and healthcare systems ¨ the best in Asia ¨ without paying a dime in taxes. You won't pay taxes on capital gains or dividends either. As you'd expect, the rich are flocking to the country. One of them is investing legend Jim Rogers, who made a fortune managing the Quantum Fund with George Soros before "retiring" in his late 30s. Rogers originally wanted to move to China, but decided the pollution was too awful to put up with. So he relocated to the English-speaking, cleaner, more financially sophisticated Singapore with his family. I have to tell you, I'm starting to be tempted myself. Good trading, Graham

Celebrating Singaporeans - AgriFood and Veterinary Authority

This is the organisation that keeps Singaporean fed without having to worry that the bottle they drink or the canned meat they eat could be poison. And they have done such a good job over the years that their words are as good as gold. They said you can eat means you can eat. We just take anything from the shelf and know that it is safe. Thanks to AVA. The AVA has reached such a high standard of quality control and consistency that Singaporeans should not only be grateful to them but also be proud that such an organisation exists. The latest case of food poisoning at Prima Deli is the outstanding proof that the people have great confidence in AVA. Once AVA said clear and business is back to normal. No fear that there will be a repeat. No doubts at all. That's how good AVA's reputation is. We have good people in the right places to make this island ticks.

Demise of taxi drivers?

The recent huge increase in taxi fares could lead to a major restructuring of the trade. For the moment the hike may seem to be a non event with many celebrating their holidays and fresh with cash from their year end bonuses. Once the festivities are over, another round during Chinese New Year, the spending will be over. People will come to their senses and the last splurge of a sort during the festivities will be passe. Is it really affordable to spend $30 to $50 for a one way trip and a return trip doubling that amount? Anyone who can afford that will switch to private cars. Why spend so much when the difference between car ownership and taking taxi is no longer meaningful? When that thought sinks in, many taxi drivers will be crying for help. The current demand is likely to be their last bonus.

1/01/2008

The secret of Singapore's success

The key to Singapore's success lies in the political system. No if you think in line of a capitalist or democratic system. It is more about the kind of leadership. Singapore has a unique kind of political leadership. Political leaders are chosen from people who are NOT interested in politics. This is a vital requisite. Any potential candidate that shows a little political acumen will not get pass to the second round of tea ceremony. This is a great difference from the commercial world where you hire people who are keen in what he is doing. Anyone who shows the slightest disinterest will be rejected immediately. Basically, the potential candidate when invited for tea must keep assuring the interviewers that he has no political interest. In other words, no political aspiration and ambition and thus not dangerous. When this is ascertained, then the rest is up to the interviewers to persuade the disinterested and not interested candidate into politics. This may come with a heavy dose of contradictions. Unwilling and uninterested politicians to become politicians and expecting them to do well. Why would these uninterested candidates be willing to join politics? Perhaps the package and rewards for joining politics are worthy of every cent in it. One cannot run away from the attraction of a life time payout after serving two terms. And the lucky one who got to become ministers could be getting millions on retirements, for life. How else would people who have other interests and passion want to join politics? I would not speculate on those who are highly ambitious politicians but managed to disguise themselves well enough to be accepted as a novice and one who is not interested in politics. Maybe this is the greater secret. Interested but seen as not interested. To be able to do that requires exceptional talent and deserve to be political leaders. This is another uniquely Singapore trait.

A Mean Ministry ?

Wondering if it is a good start to a new year when the first piece of news sounds like the setting up of a Mean Ministry. The introduction of Means Testing is going ahead full steam to catch people who can afford but choose to seek govt subsidies in hospital bills. Such mean people can only be caught by mean people. You need to set a thief to catch a thief. A kind and compassionate person will fail in such a job. One good thing is that plenty of jobs will be created. We will have a Chief Mean Officer to head the organisation. Would it be raised to a minister level if the net is cast wide enough? Then we may even have a Mean Minister appointed. Down the line many Mean Officers of various grades can be created to administer the whole process of checking people's income, bank accounts and relations with extended family members. The latter will be a good source of ugly and exciting family history that will worth millions to the movie industries. The whole thing could be another source of economic activities that will generate more income and of course more jobs.