For advertisement

Sample

4/30/2009

YPAP Forum canned?

I tried but was unable to access the YPAP forum. It was not even reflected in the main page of the revamped YPAP blog. I think they must have taken it down. With so many unsolicited pornographic material flooding the blog, might as well close it and start a new one. If that be the case, the resident bloggers would left without a home.

Should the Aware EGM be cancelled?

I wanted to post this yesterday but looks like the police have edged me to it. The Changi Expo venue is going to be hot this Saturday. It will be a good place to watch the girls go walking by. Unfortunately the temperature may be too hot for some. The womenfolk are not going there for a party. Some are very agitated, some very angry. Some may be looking for blood, with their claws sharpened. So now the venue is Suntec City. Other than this, nothing changes. And the agenda is not going to be confined to non sensitive issues. It is highly and likely that in the heat of the moment, things that should not be said would be spoken. The danger of the meeting turning uncontrollable is much higher than a bicycle ride in the park. Maybe it is better to stop the meeting from proceeding, allow temperature to cool down, and let a smaller group to huddle in a more conducive place to smoke the peace pipe. At the way both sides are going about assembling their forces, do not be surprised by the turnout. The combatants are not just Aware members mind you. Some are emotionally charged because of their beliefs and convictions. Should it be stopped, or should they be set free to settle their differences?

4/29/2009

New technology the decisive factor in next GE

Look at how the two Aware excos went about garnering their supporters! The methodology used is so efficient and effective, without the need for direct campaigning on open lorry tops. The age of the new technology has arrived. And this will be the decisive factor in the next generation. SMS and emails will play a much bigger role than can be expected. A personal email or sms from a candidate can be passed from 10 to 100, to 1000 and keep going in an exponential chain reaction. It will cover a large portion of the electorate or at least reach out to every family through one of its members. The next GE will be fought differently. And sms and emails are not expensive and not the exclusive tools of any party. It will be fair game for all. Then of course the 7/24 blogs and forums will be there all the time, for those who want to read them at their convenience.

Possible soldiers of the two contentious camps

Soldiers of the world unite. This is the time for the mother of all battles! What battle? The battle of mothers and mothers to be, and mothers that would not be, will be fought this week end. As both camps rally their forces, the battle cry can be heard across paradise. Tension is in the air. The claims and calls for civility are unlikely to be respected. What will be the likes that will join the two armies for battle? The new exco is likely to draw its soldiers from the conservative camps, including its Christian brothers and sisters. Members from all walks of life, all colours and creed, and religions, who oppose the liberal theme of homosexuality are likely to join their rank. On the other corner will be the old exco, their liberal members and associates, the gays and lesbians, and those who believe in an all inclusive society, and the advocates of a more liberal way of life. They will be supported by those who believe in more tolerance and acceptance of diversities, of how people should live their lives freely. By Saturday, the citizens of paradise will know which side is able to garner more supporters, and which value will prevail for Aware to stand for. And who knows what will happen should it be a 50/50 split. Then there will be a deadlock. Would the combatants be able to control their emotions not to tear at each other? Wow, it will be great to be there. Jack Neo, this is great material for a Singapore movie. And the content is of a very serious nature. The way of life and the way forward to the future.

4/28/2009

Rebel without a Cause

What are they fighting for? Are they fighting for an ideal, or they just 'chion' blindly because someone asked them to do so? We have two parties fighting. The new exco's agenda is very clear, clearer than anyone with eyes but cannot see. They are fighting against homosexuality. Period. The old exco, what are they fighting for? To reclaim their seats because they were ousted from an association they built and owned? Or are they fighting the new exco for their anti homosexual cause? I read Constance Singam's letter in the forum and it posted another angle. The new committee 'does not represent Singapore's racial and religious diversity'. So, is it a racial and religious issue now? That the new exco must have an acceptable racial and religious mix. Is this in the constitution? Wait a minute, Constance also agreed with Vivian that religion should be kept out of petty politics. Where are they heading? Many people are going to 'chion' in the EGM. Some with eyes wide open, some wide close. What are they fighting for, may I ask again? It is nice to fight for an ideal and die for a cause. It is quite silly to fight for no reason, fighting without a cause. Or is fighting a new exco for the way they budged in to take over an association a worthy cause? Hey, they won the election legitimately. Or is the new exco unworthy because they did not have the right racial/religious mix? What is the right racial/religious mix? Under whose definition or whose terms? I think it is better to fight for something more tangible, like money. What is it in for me? How much? People running charity organisations are demanding hundreds of thousands to do so. Monks and priests are asking for equally huge sums to lead the sangha and congregation. These are more real, more useful cause to fight for isn't it? Interesting proposition?

4/27/2009

So much over petty politics

Why are so much effort and resources been devoted by the media over petty politics? The amount of effort put in by journalists and reporters to cover this issue is truly impressive, as good as covering a general election. So much talents were put to good use to follow and research on the squabbling and then to write serious articles on the happenings. Someone should follow up by aggregating the reports both in TOM and cyberspace and there should be enough material for a book. Perhaps a best seller.

The Yodas will not go away

This is what I have heard over the last few days. Singapore needs the Yodas to continue to prosper. What it does not say, or also say, is that the new leaders are just as hopeless since the day they took over the country. And they are just a bunch of never grow up babies, inept leaders that need the Yodas to hold their hands forever. But who are saying such things? It seems that there are plans to institutionalised the forever presence of Yodas in our system. Come on, let’s not run down our A Team as if they are really a bunch of good for nothings. They are men and women in their prime, with many years of experience running the country. They are fathers and mothers in their own right. No longer sucking pacifiers while in bed. How many of you really think that we need the Yodas to be around forever? How many of you endorse the Yoda system? The Yoda system is not exactly bad. It retains the oldies for their experience, talents, fading memories and wisdom as resource for the younger generations. But they must not think that their views, values and ideas are forever relevant. Some may be obsolete or outdated or dysfunctional. The other part I find it unpleasant is the mismatch of cost and gratifications. The Yodas are awfully rich people. While the rest of the workers are getting pay cuts and smaller pay checks as they aged. The Yodas are demanding more or expecting more when their contributions are getting lesser. Sometimes I wonder why they need so much money when they can't do much with them. The gist is that they can contribute and enjoy the glory and power, but don't add to the cost of upkeeping and maintaining their presence. For those who do not know what is the Yoda system, it is about a system of elders, like the Jedi master in Star Wars, hiding in the cave to live for several hundreds, undead, but very powerful.

4/26/2009

Our history book is flawed.

I happened to meet this unhappy father who was disgusted with the untruths told in our history books taught in schools. He explained that today, the history books said Lee Kuan Yew is the father of modern Singapore and he won the independence for Singapore. What's wrong with that? Presumably his history book told a different story. He said in his days, Lim Yew Hock was the one who won independence for Singapore. I am not sure how many people read this version of history in school. I did not and neither did I know of anyone with this interpretation of history. I was telling myself, hey, I must have been taught wrongly as a history and PS student. I told him that the British only gave Marshall self government and a table next to the staircase for his office as Chief Minister. Marshall was so insulted that he protested and subsequently resigned. Lim Yew Hock became the next Chief Minister with internal self government. Not independence. We broke from the British by becoming part of Malaysia in 1963 but gained full independence from Malaysia in 1965. Now he was not happy and not convinced with my version of our history. He threw up his credential as a Constitutional Law expert and that his facts were right. Lim Yew Hock was the one who won independence for Singapore. Self government is independence. I don't know how many Singaporeans are still living with this version of Singapore's history?

4/25/2009

An issue of tolerance or inclusiveness?

I was out the whole day and have just rushed through the news. And Aware is still hogging the limelight as if nothing else matters anymore. And I must say that this saga is getting more interesting with more exciting angles coming into focus. We are now seeing the apathetic and disinterested Singaporeans coming forward to say, hey look, this is not the Singapore that we want and we want to change that. We do not want to see the social mores of this island going down into the gutters. Is this good or bad? One angle is that we do not want any particular interest group, be it racial or religious, to come out and impose its values on the general population. Are the activists in the new Exco of Aware pushing such an agenda or moving into such a direction? For the time being they are not. The govt is beginnng to show its concern with this development. So far it is only commenting on tolerance and be respectful of other people's views and choices. Nothing alarming yet and it does not see Aware presenting itself as a moral authority to replace the govt. As long as the contentious issues are kept within the association, the govt may just want to leave it alone to tackle its own problems. But should the govt detect anything more serious in nature than some individuals wanting to exert their influences in a social club, it may be forced to take a stand. We are seeing membership shooting to a level never seen before. Alarm signals will be raised the moment the govt sees its role in maintaining religious harmony and an authority on social behaviour being compromised. Andthe uneasiness will come forth once the membership each party could muster reaches a dangerous level. For the time being it is just a show and nothing serious. And the govt will be seriously in trouble should it see any interest group trying to usurp the govt's role in establishing certain decent social behavious. When a group like Aware starts to take on a bigger role, we can expect fireworks.

4/24/2009

Demand for news that you pay for

Reading news in cyberspace is free and thus one cannot demand what should be written. But one still has a choice of choosing what one wants to read and which blog or forum to go to. In the case of commercial media, one pays for the news and has a right to demand on what to read or stop paying. Are the commercial media delivering to the consumers what they paid for? I would want to read more about the family of Mas Selamat and how they are coping with his disappearance. I would also like to know about all the big earners, not just the CEOs, but the chairman, board of directors, the top 10 senior executives of high paying organisations. Would the media do some justice by serving their paid customers better with news they want to read and not news that are mountains made out of mole hills? I accept that what is important and readable is a personal preference. And for people who desire to read saucy news and gossips, they know which media to go to. And for those who want something more serious in nature, they too know which media to pay for. These choices are similar in cyberspace. There is a wide spread of blogs with different agendas to feed the big variety of readers, gossips, rumours etc all for free.

Storms in a sick society

The storms are here and to stay. For more than a week, the public are being exposed to the unfortunate sagas of the monk with expensive taste and love for materialism, and the increasing tension between groups of educated women clashing over values of gays, lesbians and Christianity. The best part is that these will be here to stay. No one is questioning what religious people should be or expected to be. And now there is a new interpretation that modernisation, materialism, moneyism are all acceptable norms in religion. The other battle is about tolerance to defiant lifestyles versus traditional or conservative values. Someone asked me if liberalism is equivalent to conservatism, to allow, accept with enthusiasm, or to let live without kicking a row. While the storms are brewing, the celebration or revelation of such tussles as part and parcel of modern life is a sure sign that the society is sick. And while there is no sign of how these sicknesses will be addressed and put right, we shall not be consumed by these raging storms and forget about the bigger issues that we have been talking about and feeling bitter or unhappy about. The old issues of billions of dollars lost, the outrageous high cost of living that are stuffed to the people must not be forgotten while we watch the battles that are going on.

4/23/2009

Aware - Kan Seng's new challenge

I did not want to indulge myself in this catfight which many think is a damn great issue that deserves the attention of the whole nation. But since the media deemed it so important to devote pages and pages of seriously written articles on it, let me just add my few words to the episode. Membership was a paltry 200+ before the new members flooded in for the AGM to stage a successful coup de tat. It then claimed a membership of about 400. Now a counter coup is being planned and membership has shot up to 600+. I reckon both sides will be mustering for more support in the coming EGM and membership may even hit 800 or 1000. And the mood in the EGM is not going to be just a friendly debate. We can expect a fierce cat fight. Just hope that it would not turn into a riot and spread into the streets. Kan Seng better position all this men to cordon off the area and be prepared to fire tear gas and water cannons. For good measures, some canines will come in very useful in a cat fight.

Shameless covering ups????

No, I am not referring to the two silly twits that walked around naked to think that it was cool. I am referring to the obvious, for those who can see them, past and present, the things that were covered up and a different truth being pronounced. Now, are you with me? Never mind. What is very shameful and destructive is that cover ups can never be covered up in this internet age when someone will know the truth and will spill the beans. Cover ups will only destroy the integrity of the system as well as the individuals, their moral standing and respectability as an individual. People in high offices, if they indulged themselves in cover ups or making misleading statements will only fall flat on their own faces. It is so stupid to try to hide the truth. The truth must be allowed to surface and the guilty shall be found guilty. The system and country is going to the pigs if we allowed the acts of covering up to be a norm in our society. Let those who have to fall... fall. Carrying them and covering them up in blankets will not do. It will not only lead to cynicism, it will lead to mistrust and a corrupt and bankrupt system of values and ethics.

4/22/2009

Motor Insurance Scam

No evidence does not mean that there is no fraud or cheating or false claims. And the culprits are a whole lot of people involved in the chain if what the insurance people claimed to know. And everyone is happy. Too difficult to unwind the mess. Insurers simply pay up or face an expensive lawsuit. Cheaper to pay and charge it to the innocent motorists in the form of insurance premiums. What the hell is going on? What kind of country are we becoming when scams of such a huge nature affecting hundreds of thousands of innocent motorists could just be ignored with a shrug of the shoulder? Are we going to accept that this is the societal norm, that cheating can go on because it is too troublesome to nail the culprits? Actually I don't think it is that difficult. Hang a few of them, jail them or make them pay hefty fines and put their faces on the front page of the newspaper, be they CEOs, workshop owners, doctors, insurance surveyors or lawyers or the motorists involved in the scam. We cannot become another Nigeria! Is our country going to the pigs?

Ho Kwon Ping -Spore beyond LKY

There is a followup article on this issue in the media by Ho Kwon Ping. This is a much better piece of things to read than the voluminous pages on cat fights. At least it is something worthy of the money we paid for. Basically the article examined the current status quo and what it would be before it arrives, a kind of thinking ahead, of the problems that may hit us. Ho Kwon Ping's first question is about PAP's ability to 'produce leaders of sufficient calibre that people will continue to support the unique one party dominant system' . Sadly, from all the signs we are seeing, from the policies and decisions made by the present generation of leaders, quite a few are simply doing a great disservice to themselves and their image as leaders. Oh, please feel free to disagree with my observation. It's ok. His second question is whether the future generation can find their way ahead without LKY and the PAP. He has faith that the new generations are much able and capable of taking care of themselves, something that we should be reassured. But this is contrary to the myth that there is no political talents and our best team is so so. See the contradiction? If we can't find any good calibre people to lead today, how can we ever hope of the leaderless people finding their way through choppy times? But I would like to agree with Ho Kwon Ping's optimism, and that in reality there are many able and capable people at the side line and they will step forward when needed. But sadly again, they were not coming forward exactly because of the current system that is hostile or at least inhospitable to their presence and their challenge to the chosen leadership. The system that brought us so far today will be the system that will bring us down, or will be done away with when the opportune time comes. I must qualify that it will not be thrown out, lock, stock and barrel. Only the bad policies and myths.

4/21/2009

Electronic voting system for Singapore?

This is about the most perfect voting system we can think of. We should seriously consider this despite all the worries about how computer can be programmed to produce whatever results the programmer wants it. I read Ng E Jay's blog saying that the US is concerned about such a move. Fear not. Though computer is reputed to produce results according to the input, GIGO, it still boils down to human integrity and honesty. If we can have the most honest and high integrity officers operating the system, we can be sure that the system will function according to what it is supposed to do. Trust me, computer voting is not only convenient but also efficient and accurate. Tust me. I will leave it to everyone to trust the administrators of the system. This is very personal.

Singapore beyond Lee Kuan Yew

3 prominent politically well versed citizens spoke about a Singapore after LKY in a seminar organised by NTU yesterday. Mahbubani, Cherian George and Ho Kwon Ping gave their takes on what Singapore will become by then. There were concerns and optimism that all the things that needed to be done have been done to ensure that Singapore will continue to survive after LKY. But the 'huge political vacuum' created by LKY's sheer presence is very telling on whether anyone can fill his shoe. To make such a remark, it shows that after all these years, not a single one that is being groomed is close to fill the gap. Is this what we called a very successful leadership grooming and transfer process? Why is the best and ablest still fall so fall short of the expectation? Ho Kwon Ping made this observation, "This is not a pent up society waiting for the demise of the strongman in order to overturn highly unpopular laws." He added, 'Rather, the Govt has the support of the politically vital heartland in its pragmatic, incremental approach to change, even as it responds to tomorrow's generation.' These remarks suggest that Ho Kwon Ping has a lot of faith that nothing will change and the heartland is all behind the unpopular laws of the Govt. I am wondering how he came to such a conclusion. My reading is just contrary to his observation. But mine is based on my own reading of the mood of the people and what I have heard and read. The very fact that there is great fear of a split within the PAP is an indication of the differences in the views of the current leadership. And if that be true, how big is the schism and would it be big enough to overturn most of the unpopular policies? As for the heartlanders, they are very reticent in what they feel except for the kopitiam talks and what one heard inside a cab. I have my doubts that the present heartlanders are the same heartlanders of yesterday.

4/20/2009

Should MPs be allowed to have full time employment?

The recent case of Josie Lau revealed the startling discovery that employees holding senior positions in an organisation should carefully review their ability and time commitment if they are to take another important appointment outside their organisation. This is particulary pertinent if both appointments are senior appointments that demand more of their time and effort. A good reference point is an appointment like the President of Aware and a VP position in a big organisation. If such a combination is deemed taxing enough on the appointment holder and to be discouraged, any combination that has more senior appointments than these must be avoided, if not, be disallowed. The rationale of time, commitment and responsibility to wear two such important hats is obvious. Can they really do a good job without compromising on the quality of their work? Unless such a fear is unfounded. Then we look at the job of an MP. Surely this must be at least 10x or 100x more demanding and taxing on the MP than the President of Aware. And what make things worst is that many of the MPs are holding more senior positions than just a VP. Many are CEOs with the responsibilities of the whole organisation. Should the issue of part time MP be reviewed in the light of such concerns? How can such an important appointment be done by part timers?

Son versus Son

This is the gist of an article by Seah Chiang Nee in www.littlespeck.com. I agree with him that this is a good thing for the political development of Singapore and a maturing political elite. I can only hope that the contest will be a contest of ideas between decent men, between leaders of the people, and not a contest of how to fix each other up. Singaporeans deserve honourable men and women to be our leaders.

TOM showing what it can do

Two articles in the mainstream papers show how important it is for the media to take on the role of a watchdog for the people by reporting on news that are important to the general public. One article is about '1 man, 152 board seats'. The fact speaks for itself. No matter what the justifications, the only thing the public can conclude is that this man is of exceptional talent, maybe a demigod. Singapore should have more of such supertalents and we will beat the rest of the world with hands down. The commoners can just carry on with their routine jobs and make sure they don't take on more than one job, even if one is a voluntary job that does not warrant full time commitment. Another important report is on the pathetic state of the motor insurance industry. Both Goh Eng Yeow and Christopher Tan have done a good job in fishing out information that were there but not pick up by anyone or any media. Without bringing these to light, these could be buried for centuries to come without anyone being aware of what is going on. In the case of the motor insurance, accountability and the stick must be used to whack the guilty party, be it insurers, lawyers, workshops, drivers or even the investigating officers. Like Kan Seng said, go down heavily on the culprits and bring justice and fairness to the decent majority of drivers who have been made to pay for the crimes of these dastardly violators of the system. The govt owes the people the responsibility to clean up this mess and bring order to the industry. The crimes perpetuated by false claims and fraudulent accusations and charges are no worst off than the crimes of the loan sharks. I read the ordeal of Henry Phua, who had to be dragged into a long legal tussel and at times even warned as if he was the guilty party. He would have been guilty if he had no resources or the persistence to see justice done. And we would have another miscarriage of justice on an innocent soul. And the parties that when through the whole mischievious acts, apparently without any clue of the truth until the liar owned up. The law must come down hard on everyone who is responsible for the stupidity of letting the case drag on for so long. Bring justice to bear on the perpetrators of misjustice. Let this be made an example to warn those who still think they can continue with the game of deceit and trickery. The public deserves justice and must not be made to pay through their noses through no fault of theirs. I hope no one is sleeping on this issue.

4/19/2009

What are Singaporeans being taken for?

The media had been inundated with spurious reports of cat fights as if Singaporeans are nosey people and have nothing better to do. And that cat fights are really something that is worth reading and talking about. Maybe there is nothing better to print or too much space to fill. But these are all so petty stuff in my view. It is just my view? The other aspect that is more disturbing is that after all these years of development, from illiteracy, poverty to a first world country, the mindset of a helpless, unthinking and stupid people is still unchanging. Did anyone notice any difference or agree with my observation? I am writing based on the comments and attitude coming out from Parliament. Every papa and mama in Parliament are thinking of how well to look after all these lost kids that never grow up and did not know how to take care of themselves. They wanted to set all kinds of rules to make sure the kids are not exploited or bullied in the streets. Even the little boys and girls who suddenly walked into Parliament also think so, that they are now the mamas and papas with heavy responsibilities in their hands. They fear for the safety of the kids, and the only wise thing to do is to set more rules for them to follow in case they misbehaved. Singaporeans are the forever never grow up kids that need to be told how to behave, how to walk, eat and sleep. And the lines are drawn very clearly for them. It is all for their own good. Without these papas and mamas running their lives Singaporeans will be lost, helpless and their lives in jeopardy. Thank god, or thank the papas and mamas, Singaporeans are so well looked after. It is also like when someone puts on a robe, he is instantly a well informed and enlighten person to dispense wisdom of the world for the laymen and laywomen..

4/18/2009

All the hype about nothing

Not exactly nothing, but about 400 women in Aware. That is all the members in the association and the whole country is aroused. The main media went to town with something like 6 pages devoted to the association and recent happenings after non stop daily reportings of the grab for power. And even DBS has to come out in public to rebuke its senior staff for the gumption to accept the appointment as the President of the association. It is only an association of women for god sake, not an association of witches and vampires that could turn the country upside down or cast a spell on anyone that is considered enemy. Have we gone overboard over a none issue? Oops, sorry ladies, it is big issue.

Tea Party protest

The Americans are organizing a nation wide Tea Party protest against the govt of Obama for high taxes and high spending. For the size of America, the protest could easily reach out to millions of Americans and millions will be on the streets or assembling in public areas. Just imagine what would happen when they turn violent and go rioting? They will be out of control and there will be damages to properties and lost of lives. A highly dangerous thing to do. But the protest will go on in America like another Sunday church gathering. And very likely there will be no rioting except for a lot of noise and the people letting off steam in a boisterous way. Compare this with the dangerous cycling event that the WP was trying to organize in East Coast Park. Unimaginable. We were so lucky that such an event was not allowed to be staged, or else it could become dangerous to public safety and security. Now why are Singaporeans so dangerous and not allowed to assemble in groups of 4 or more? Basically Singaporeans are still a bit wild, irresponsible, reckless, a bit uncivilized or primitive I supposed, prone to violence, very typical of unruly Asians. Better if they can be caged for their own good. It will take years before Singaporeans will become civilized, to be like the Americans and be allowed to stage peaceful protest in the public. Singaporeans need to be educated to be peace loving and responsible. We need to learn a lot from civilized countries like the US. One day we will be civilized and will be allowed to stage peaceful protest. One day, but this one day will not be here sooner or in the foreseeable future. The thought of letting Singaporeans on the loose is so frightening. Don’t even think of it.

4/17/2009

Are we capable of thinking for ourselves? II.

The example of the public demonstration in Thailand has been quoted as a bad thing. How could the people demonstrate in the streets, destroying public properties and hurting people, disrupting the economy and breaking down public order and security? Think for a moment, why did all these happen? At face value all these are bad, no doubt. But without understanding the background to what is happening to Thailand and how the Red Shirts were forced into the streets, one will be making a false or wrong judgement on the people and event. Violent demonstators! Guilty, no good, lock them up. Beat them up. Let me post a hypothetical case, say an event happening here in the future. A President Bum is installed at the Istana. He is not happy with a popularly elected PM and his cabinet. He incited the army generals and some groups to wear Yellow Shirts to demonstrate in the streets. He eventually forced the popularly elected PM and govt out of power and installed his own men as PM and govt, without the people electing them. Should the people then demonstrate in public about such an abuse of power or a violation of the democratic system of electing the govt? And if the people do demonstrate, is it bad, is it wrong? Or should the people just accept everything that has happened, do not break the law, do not demonstrate and disturb the peace. Peace and public security are paramount and under no circumstances should people be allowed on the streets. What you think?

Are we capable of thinking for ourselves?

This is the perpetual question that Singaporeans should be asking themselves. Or would they bother? The recent incidents of the Aware election and the Red Shirts in Thailand are two cases that we should be pondering. Or should we let others tell us what to believe, what is good, what is right and what should the way things should be? Let me start with the Aware case. The public was being bombarded with the following positions. The new committee are unknown, no track record, no experience, dunno what they are capable off, and more importantly, they may be up to no good. The only talents and acceptable people to run Aware must be the old horses. Only those who have been there have the right to be there or the right people to be there. Anyone who wants to fit in must be of the same mould or be acceptable to the old horses. A very familiar story. Why can't the public give the new committee a chance to prove themselves, the benefit of the doubt? Why can't the new committee ended as the better team eventually? I am not making any judgement on them without seeing what they have done. They may have different views, values and different ways of doing things. Are these really bad? Do we want to accept that there is only one way, one set of values, and only one group of people possess all the rights and goods and virtues that there is no talent left outside this group to provide a better alternative? Is change always bad? I remember some eminent people said that change is the essence of life. No change no progress. With change, there will be disruption and readjustment, but not necessarily bad. Give the new committee a chance. Give the new talents a chance. Or we have already prejudged that they have no talent? The fact that they could wrestle control from the incumbents proved that they are good and mean business. At least they are able of outfoxing the old talents in their own game.

4/16/2009

Aware's new chief from DBS

The new committee of Aware is headed by a VP from DBS, Josie Lau Meng Lee. The team looks very able and respectable. Why is it that so many comments have been made which in a way have pronounced them guilty or with ill intent? Why is it that people only think of the negative, that these people are up to no good? Guilty before proven! Anyway, looks like Josie may not be able to continue with the appointment as the President of Aware. An official statement from DBS in Today said, 'DBS Bank requires all employees to obtain approval before running for or taking on an external appointment,...It had informed Ms Lau prior "to the Aware election" last night that, although the bank supported her involvement in Aware as council member in her own personal capacity, it was however "not supportive" of her intent to run for president of Aware, a spokesman told Today late last night. "We believe that as a VP in DBS, she already has a challenging job with many responsibilities and the role of president would demand too much of her time and energy."' This is a very reasonable position to take. No matter how talented a person is, wearing two hats or too many hats will definitely affect the quality of work of the person. How could anyone really think that he/she is so talented to wear two important hats, let alone 5, 10 or 20 hats? It will only dilute their attention to what they can do to each job.

Kan Seng has spoken

The police will be tough on protestors, local or foreign, who are bent to create civil disobedience. This is a warning to all who are thinking of creating trouble in the coming major events in the city state. Actually things will be much easier if a chip can be developed and implanted into every resident and visitors here. The chip can then be monitored and tracked by a master computer and linked to satellite technology. The movement of everyone will be known, who they met and where they are meeting will be totally transparent. The chips shall also have the capacity to immobilise the tagged person by the master controller when appropriate. A smarter chip can actually have programmes that can read the person's mind and any evil or criminal thought detected will trigger the chip to immobilise him. A team can then be sent out to pick him up. When such a chip and system are ready, the whole world will be a very peaceful and orderly place. Human beans can look forward to a safe and secure future.

4/15/2009

Of power, freedom and money

In the debate on the Public Order Act the govt has made it very clear on its position on power and freedom of expression. Actually it does not need this debate to tell the story. For more than 40 years, the govt has been defining and refining its use of power to manage the people's freedom of expression and the people's money in the CPF. And all these were done for their(people's) own good. In the next election it will be good that these be made an election issue. All political parties should declare upfront their positions with respect to these issues. They should state how much freedom the people shall have, whether they can or cannot demonstrate or assemble in public, and also how they will manage the people's money in the CPF. The other key issue will be the cost of govt. How many PMs will they need, how many SMs, how many ministers without portfolio in the PMOs, how many deputies and how many deputies to deputies, and also how many mayors they need to run this country. And add all these together to get at the final cost of govt. Struggling opposition parties may want to make a case to pay the PM $10m and ministers $5m to attract better talents to join them in their quest. And if this is not enough, they should be brave enough to state that they needed more upfront before they come to power. I feel the people deserve to be told of the position of the political parties before they make their choices.

4/14/2009

The appreciative new migrants

More than half a century ago many migrants came from neighbouring countries, including India and China. They were actually running away from poverty in their homelands. Somehow it was not possible to start anew in their home countries, or it was not as easy as trying out in a new country. The going was tough. But there was the promise of a better tomorrow. After a life time of struggle, some made it, some didn’t. Some made it in one generation, some took more. Some never. Fast forward, we are seeing new batches of migrants landing on our shores. They too were looking for a better tomorrow. Some were hungry, some not so. But their conditions were never like those who came earlier. The island is much richer, with better infrastructure and a more conducive socio economic environment to start a new life. Many quickly find success in double quick time, with govt assistance and a more level playing field. They are grateful for the new opportunities. So were the migrants of the past. Why are the locals, who were migrants once, feel left out and less happy with the situation? Or do they? I think many just do not bother. Any expression of unhappiness is likely to be personal and not a common reaction of the populace. Neither is the unhappiness that serious a matter that will be troubling to the policy makers. The govt is reviving the grateful migrants formula and will ride on their votes to power again. Equal opportunities for all, new and old citizens. New migrants will become old migrants and the cycle will be repeated again and again.

Criticism of Public Order Act 2009

Why so many criticisms against the Public Order Act? The law is for the good of the people, to protect the people. Singaporeans should welcome more of such laws that are good for them, ala GST. When things are done for the good of the people the people should be happy and accept them with open arms. Criticisms of good acts and intention are misplaced. My only concern is that what if these good laws were abused by a rogue govt or rogue enforcers of the law? Yes, Sylvia Lim is right on this, that it can become draconian. But with good leaders in charge, everything will be fine. Let's pray that we will forever be blessed with good leaders.

Falling in the line of duty

In three months, he had done so much and touched the hearts of many in DBS. Richard Stanley, the well liked and respected CEO of DBS succumbed to more complications and passed away after months of chemotherapy treatment. And from the flood of obituary in the ST, in his short stay in office he must have won the hearts of many. From peers, associates, business partners and union leaders, and all the staff, only good words were spoken of Richard Stanley. DBS also marked his demise with a one minute silence at 2.45pm yesterday. Richard is the first foreign talent that fell while on duty. He came on board and the minibond crisis fell on his lap. He must have gone through agonising time to tackle this crisis and this must have taken its toll on him. Richard was called home at the prime of his life. He could have done much more for DBS and its staff. But when God calls, it is time to go home.

An IM for food hygiene and handling

The criticism is piling up. Now the target is National Environment Agency. Letters were written to the media and the usual is that it cannot happen here. We are the best, first world, world class talents and salaries. This kind of mass food poisoning can only happen to poorly managed developing countries. It is shocking, alarming. What have the NEA done? We need a hero to resolve this crisis. I think Tan Yong Soon is cut out for this job. He should put what he learnt in Paris to good use. Come out with an Instructional Manual on food hygiene and handling for kitchens and food handlers and the cooks. His culinary course must have included these as a major part of the syllabus. The quality and cleanliness of food, utensil, equipment and people are very important to produce good and safe food. Let's have a comprehensive IM for all the hawker stalls, markets and food courts. Or perhaps privatise them would also do. The standard of cleanliness should also improved with privatisation. And if they pay the food handlers and cooks better, better qualified people will become hawkers in markets and food courts. But don't suggest sending them to Paris, please.

4/13/2009

What a genius!

What an ingenious idea! This appeared in the St. Petersburg Times Newspaper yesterday. TheBusiness Section had asked readers all week for ideas on "HOW WOULD YOU FIX THE ECONOMY?" This man nailed it. Dear Mr. President, Patriotic retirement: There's about 40 million people over 50 years old in the work force - pay them $1 million apiece severance with the following stipulations: 1) They leave their jobs. Forty million job openings - UNEMPLOYMENT FIXED 2) They buy NEW American cars. Forty million cars ordered - AUTO INDUSTRY FIXED. 3) They either buy a house or pay off their mortgage - HOUSING CRISIS FIXED. Like I have been saying, they are bailing out the wrong people. We can modify this solution and it would not cost that much. And the govt will definitely be returned to power in the next GE.

Fear is in the air

Since the brilliant grab for power in Aware, there have been many postings questioning the group and its intention. There were many speculations and even talks of bigger things to come and bigger organisations to capture. Why should there be fear as long as the group is legitimate and not criminal? In a democracy, it is all about organisation. The people with the resources and organisation skills will be in a better position to grab power, and then grab anything they want. And with morality at its most perplexing time, when rights and wrongs are all grey, who shall stand on high moral grounds to be the judge of who is good or bad? Let the contest of ideas, organisation, ability and talent begins. And winners take all. Everything is up for grabs to the talented and well organised.

My feedback to the Stock Exchange in June 2005

The Relevance and Effectiveness of Corporate Governance I will like to express my appreciation to the Stock Exchange for asking the public for feedback to improve the trading system. I will just touch on three issues here, A. Corporate Governance and Independent Directors, B. Responsibilities and Accountability of Issue Managers/Auditors, and C. The Roles of SGX as a Regulator and a Business Concern. A. Corporate Governance and Independent Directors Independent Directors can play a very important role in ensuring that companies are proper and professional in the conduct of their businesses. By being involved, and being hands on with company operations, the Independent Directors are by far the most suitable candidates to help in ensuring compliance and due diligence in all corporate matters. However, the current procedures and system of appointing Independent Directors are seriously flawed. It is not the numbers that matter, but how Independent Directors are being appointed to the Board of Companies. When companies and their management staff have the sole prerogative to appoint Independent Directors, when the remuneration and tenure of Independent Directors are dependent on the goodwill of company management, how independent can Independent Directors be? Like it or not, Independent Directors have vested interests to maintain a cordial relationship with the company’s management and even major shareholders. There is thus a need to balance the opposing demands to oversee company operations in a professional manner and, on the other hand, to be acceptable to company management so as to be nominated to the board again. Independent Directors who are too thorough, too demanding, or even becoming whistle blowers, will soon work themselves out of all company boards. They will carry their reputations along with them and will not be appointed to any boards in a matter of time. No whistle blowers can ever hope to be invited to sit in any organizations. They can blow their whistles only once. In order to maintain as ‘correct’ a relationship as possible, and to improve the chances of being reappointed, Independent Directors may have to compromise their positions, and may even restrain themselves in the execution of their duties, thus undermining their roles as the watchdog of company wrongdoings. Recommendation 1 A new procedure to appoint Independent Directors is obviously needed. Independent Directors must be appointed independent of company management. Those appointed by company management have a credibility problem. There will always be a doubt as to whether they can be truly independent if their benefactors are the company management. It is a practical and real issue. The setting up of an unrelated independent body to appoint Independent Directors to company boards is a prerequisite to impartiality and transparency. The position of Independent Directors must not be compromise in anyway if they are to do a proper job. Otherwise it is a fallacy to believe that Independent Directors are really independent. What good is there if all the Independent Directors are either the relatives, friends or drinking kakis of the management, chosen and paid for by the management? A possible candidate to take on this task is the Stock Exchange itself. Or alternatively the Securities Investors Association of Singapore, SIAS, can be appointed by SGX/MAS to assume this role. SIAS is an ideal candidate as it is the representative of small investors who, as a group, represented quite a substantial interest in companies listed in the SGX. The small investors have so far been the victims of all these corporate frauds, and it is time that their interests be taken care of. Independent Directors selected and appointed by an organization representing small investors could fit in this role nicely. No other organization can claim to represent the small investors and to defend their interests. By giving SIAS a bigger role in this area, SGX and MAS can then be seen to be fair to the small investors. For the Independent Directors to be effective, three Independent Directors should come from SIAS and be represented in the Nomination, Remuneration and Audit Committees of the Companies. These committees shall provide the Independent Directors with access to information that affects the health and wealth of the companies. SIAS can set up a department to select, train and appoint Independent Directors under a set of guidelines that best served to protect the interests of small investors, and in the process self regulate company operations and management to comply with SGX regulations and good governance. An added feature is for SGX to emphasise the responsibilities and accountability on all Independent as well as non Independent Directors. Appointment to company boards must not be seen as a birthday party, but a serious undertaking that demands professionalism and integrity. All directors, including Independent Directors, shall be held accountable for negligence, wrongdoings or not doing their due diligence while on the boards. They must be made aware that they are holding in trust the interests of all investors, large and small, and must not be found wanting, or they will be taken to task. They are paid to do a job and this comes with a heavy responsibility. B. Responsibilities and Accountability of Issue Managers and Auditors Issue Managers are the key people who promote and market a company to investors resulting in large sums of monies being invested by the public. The Issue Managers and their associates, especially the management and finance professionals, are the people in the know. They are also the people who prepare the company operations and financial reports. How truthful, accurate and proper are these reports will solely be dependent on the professionalism, trustworthiness and integrity of these professional people. The investors, including professional fund managers, are likely to make their decisions based on these reports and the presentation of the company by the Issue Managers and the management. It is accepted that Issue Managers/Auditors and company management will want to present the best picture they can to the investors. It is their task to sell the company. What the investors and regulators can hope for is that these people are truthful and professional in the packaging and marketing of the companies. They are expected to do their due diligence. They are not expected to make misrepresentation of the companies, or worst, make fraudulent reports to deceive the investors into investing in unsound companies. Recommendation 2 Nothing short of accountability and making good of what the Issue Managers/Auditors and company management made their companies out to be. Caveat emptor is not enough. When there are misrepresentations or wrongdoings, the guilty parties must be dealt with severely. Full restitutions for losses must be made to compensate the innocent investors. The public must not be put in a position where they are at the mercy of Issue Managers/Auditors and company management without any recourse. It is inadequate and unfair when a public issue goes drastically wrong due to negligence or misrepresentation and caveat emptor becomes a convenient excuse. Issue Managers/Auditors and company managers must all be aware of the severity of their actions and the recourse of criminal proceedings if they are found to commit wrongdoings or negligence in the course of listing the companies. The SGX has a duty to protect the public investors. C. Role of SGX as a Regulator and as a Business Concern SGX is now a private company with profit making as a primary objective. Its other role as a regulator is now incompatible with its new status. There is a conflict of interests and the two functions must be detached and managed separately. SGX cannot function as a player as well as a referee in the same game. It cannot be objective when it is also involved in generating profits for itself from the system. Even if it does try to be objective, other parties may not perceive it in the same way. Its dual roles only complicate matters further and will undermine the credibility of SGX. People will always be skeptical of whatever actions or decisions it takes that affect the players and the market. Recommendation 3 For transparency and good business practice, SGX may want to consider relinquishing its role as the regulator of the stock market. An independent agency shall replace SGX to ensure that there is fair play and a level playing field for all the players. No matter how impartial or above board SGX can be, it is in the best interest of SGX for it to be monitored separately. This is to avoid being accused of any complicity whenever a decision is seen to be doubtful in the eyes of the public. An interested party can never be objective in its own dealings. A Side Issue I must raise this issue though it is not directly related to the above. It is very serious and it is affecting the viability of the stock market and the stockbroking industry if nothing is done to arrest the problem. I will make it very short and brief. Before the liberalization of the industry, foreign funds must trade through local broking houses, paying commission for their trades. With liberalization, these huge funds can now trade on their own by setting up offices here. And trade they did at no commission. What this means is that they could literally trade in hundreds of millions of dollars worth of stocks at practically no cost other than the minimal clearing fees and GST. They could thus push stocks up or down at their whims and fancy, making profits at the expense of small investors and traders. The big trading volumes we are seeing daily are thus fictitious. We have replaced syndicate trading of the past with fund manipulations at a more vicious scale. With syndicate trading activities, at least they still pay some commission that will somehow filter back to lubricate the system. With big fund trading today (including proprietary trading), no commission of such nature will be generated. If syndicate trading activities were seen as an undesirable and criminal act, how can we justify fund manipulations as legitimate and desirable, and at no cost? When all the small players and traders are wiped out from the market, when there are no more money to be made from the market, these big funds could just wind up their activities over night, and we will have a ghost town, a stock market devoid of trading activities. It will lead to an immediate collapse of the stockbroking industry. The scenario that I have painted may have been too extreme. But the possibility of it becoming a reality is very real. We have already witnessed the first phase of casualties, the small traders. Most of them have lost their pants or are too fearful to reenter the market. What the SGX may want to consider is to provide a level playing field for the big boys to play. Let the fund/broking houses, the proprietary traders and the private syndicates be the market movers on equal terms. Let them rejuvenate the market and trade within the existing rules. But the terms given to these players shall not be vastly different from the small players and investors. A special levy comes into mind.

4/12/2009

When privatisation is a fear word

Privatisation used to be the key word to symbolise improved efficiency, better quality of products and services and a necessary evil, higher cost. The last part is always unspoken. No body wants to talk about it. Two letters by Ang Ah Ho and Zhuang Kuan Seng in the Sunday Times were literary pleading for mercy against HDB and privatisation. They questioned the role and responsibility of HDB in a tender exercise for Sengkang wet market. It went to the highest bidder, Renaissance Properties, at $500,001 pm. All these make business sense as the new tenants will definitely improve the efficiency of running the wet market as well as improving the quality and services. The residents only see fear of higher cost of basic food that they will get from the market. And they were concerned even in the way HDB framed its reply in a nonchalant way. But they were barking up the wrong tree. HDB is no more a govt organisation. It is privatised, just like the wet market is going to be. And profit is one of its key goals. They must remember how the second batch of Duxton Pinnacles flat owners have to cough out another $200k for each unit because the prices of similar flats have gone up. The residents in Sengkang should look at the brighter and positive side of things. Life style will improve with new concepts in wet marketing. The fish, meat and vegetables will be fresher and of better quality. And the stall holders will probably say thank you when they buy from them. And the higher cost of living is just part of the deal. It has to be. But it will be very affordable. All new housing estates have better quality food courts than the heart of Raffles Place and Chinatown. The food centres at Golden Shoe, Hong Lim and Chinatown are much cheaper, $2.50 can get one a bowl of noodle or rice, mixed vegetable rice or chicken rice. But the quality must be not so good as the food courts at HDB estates, and no aircon some more. Soon everyone will be frequenting food courts in HDB estates. I pray and pray that these hawker centres will not be privatised. Personally the quality of their food, at $2.50, is damn good. But I am biased. And so must be all the happy customers, some wearing ties and Prada frequenting them. Please do not privatise them. Not everybody has a first world income and want to pay first world prices for basic needs. As for the Sengkang residents, they are welcome to Raffles Place to enjoy a $2.50 meal, if they can afford the train or bus fare. For the time being, they should count their blessings. Actually we must be very thankful that the govt did not privatise all the ministries. Of course the quality and efficiency will improve, but the cost of their services will be much higher than now.

4/11/2009

Working is a crime! The officer was in hot pursuit of an illegal worker. He fell, picked himself up immediately and continued the chase. The culprit was arrested. Such is the drive, dedication and commitment of a well trained team of MOM officers in the call of duty. They have a job to do and they did well. Efficiency in the line of duty is hallmark in all civil servants. And one should not forget the exemplary efficiency and effectiveness of our car park attendants. They never miss issuing a ticket if it is deserving. What am I grumbling about? The illegal immigrants were not selling pirated VCDs or operating a gambling den or prostituting. Many were just moonlighting as cleaners and odd job labourers. They were prepared to sweat, work hard, to exchange their labour for a few dollars. Why are they turned into criminals, chased around by govt officers, arrested, fined and maybe even caned? Yes, they are criminals. The law said so. No permit to work is a crime. Period. What about the employers who employed them and exploited them for their cheap labour? Why were they not arrested? Would it not be easier to arrest the employers and terminate this vicious cycle when hungry men and women are turned into criminals just because they want to work? Oh, these are children of lesser gods. Just a general comment. The law is neutral and has no feelings, and inhuman at times. And the law is the law. The issue is the zealousness in the execution and persecuting of the violaters. I would be more at ease if public officers, in the course of their duties, think a little about rights and wrongs, about being humans, about justice and fairness, about righteousness and moral principles. If public officers cannot think or will not think, and leave morals and principles in their lockers, govts will be better off deploying a task force of Robocops, machines that just do within thinking, with no morals, no feelings and no moral principles. I am saying this in general. This sickness is affecting govt officers all around the world, and particularly so in dictatorship or authoritarian regimes. And worst of all, the biggest violators of such inhuman acts is the US. There, children of lesser gods have no rights, and are treated as collateral damages. The hideous acts of public officers when they abused their positions of power are more criminal than the crimes committed by criminals. Sad thing is that they did not think so and think that it is their job, in the course of duty,something to be proud of. A couple of days back there was this woman in China who had her 4 front teeth knocked out by public officers just for protesting about a crime or injustice done to her. Sometimes you would not know who are the real gangsters. I always call George Bush and his team gangsters.

Aware – What a brilliant coup!

They came and took over Aware in an AGM. Veterans and established Aware members were in shock and disbelief. They were caught completely off guard when an army of new members marched into the AGM and out voted almost everyone, and grabbed 9 out of 12 executive committee seats. With the exceptionally high turnout the incumbent committee still did not see it coming. And one by one the old committee members were knocked out of office by brazen new faces, all unknown. How would they dare to do such a thing? Who were they, what do they stand for, how could they just take over an established institution, just like that? No big no small! The old committee members were jolted out of their comfort zone. It was very troubling, alarming, and they made an attempt to challenge the right to take over. Basically they were saying, hey, this is our turf, you have no right to do this. If you want to take over, join the queue and wait to be invited. Unfortunately the new and brash challengers were in no mood to explain the whys. Neither did they bother about the feeble resistance. They simply brushed them aside, irrelevant. Their main concern was to win as many seats as they could. They were well prepared for it, with military precision. It was a coup well executed! Well done girls. Your planning and execution were meticulous and brutally efficient and effective. I am keen to know what is their next target. With such organising skills and talents, they could achieve anything they want to. Don’t just stop at Aware.

4/10/2009

Kenneth Jeyaretnam joins Reform Party

This is about the best news to break the otherwise dull and mindless churning of stale political news. Finally we are seeing a very able young man standing up to carry on the job of his father. I hope no one is going to say that there is no political talents in Singapore and that Kenneth is a no talent. He has a double first like Hsien Loong. He may not have taken the ride in the bandwagon to earn tens of millions in this small pond. But he has worked overseas, depending only on his own talent and skills to earn his keep. I believe there must be many able young people like Kenneth who are waiting to step forward to serve the country and not waiting to be invited for tea. Would our political system be magnanimous enough to welcome these people as they step forward, or will they face the same sad stories of their predecessors in an unkind environment that has no room for talents in the opposition wing? We are watching and the world is also watching as the game is being played. The same old play or a new play with enlightened players sparring but without the viciousness of a medieval society? The entry of Kenneth into the political fray should raise the standard of politicking to a more sophisticated level. I dread that this is the beginning of another round of gutter politics in the making. We shall see and judge the truth from the tooth.

4/09/2009

What’s wrong with disagreeing over issues or policies in cyberspace?

Siew Kum Hong commented that many people gripe or take pot shots at issues beneath the cloak of anonymity and that they should come out of their comfort zones to do something. I agree and disagree with parts of his comment. There is nothing wrong with being anonymous as long as the comments are fair and reasonablel. But agree, it will be better to let people know who is behind the comment in order to give a better feel and measure of what it was all about. The reasons why many are still speaking in anonymity can be found in the soul of the article by Wong Kim Hoh and reflected by Siew Kum Hong’s own sense of fear. He reminded and also made it clear that he disagreed with ‘the lawsuits and defamation schemes used to suppress dissenting views.’ There need no further explanation why people are not willing to come out into the open to state their views when the political climate is such. People who are comfortable in their lives will not want to get into an unlevel playing field and get hurt for the slightest indiscretion. And as for the challenge to come out and do something if people feel strongly about things, I think this is a bit idealistic in the context of our political culture. Stepping forward, be counted, getting the hands dirty may not lead to anything meaningful. Who really thinks that he/she can make a difference by coming out to get his/her hands dirtied except for a fortunate few? It is quite audacious to even think so. And what is so great about making a ‘political contribution’ if it is just to make a statement, a record on what the citizens feel when, ‘After all the debate…nothing’s changed…so what is the purpose?’ Or what is so different about making a point to be put on record in Parliament and making a point in the media, new and old, to express what some of the citizens are feeling? Maybe there is a big difference to some. But I don’t see or feel it that way. What are the contributions of NMP, NCMP, opposition MPs and the unelected but undying opposition politicians? I must say that each have contributed in their own ways to the political process and development of the country. On the other hand, the contributions of cyberspace and bloggers cannot be underestimated and are in no way lesser than these know politicians. In fact there are many things that cyberspace could do and did much better, like keeping issues alive and harping on them repeatedly in case people claimed that nothing said so no more an issue. Or worst, nothing heard, the people must have accepted them. The biggest contributions of cyberspace and bloggers are griping, kpkb and constantly and repeatedly not letting any issue die. This is an area that no politicians or the old media can compete with. The issues will be posted in cyberspace 24/7 and 365 days a year, for the world to see.

4/08/2009

Corruption of the bonus system

The first thing that Obama did right was to curb the abuses of the compensation and bonus payout system in corporate America. No longer will the corporate big wigs be allowed to pay themselves crazy by abusing the trust of the minority shareholders and corruptly paying themselves with their so called bonus schemes. They design and decide how much to pay themselves, with approval of course. Actually I can't use the term corrupt as the bonus schemes were all approved by the board of directors. The payout is thus legitimate and above board, objective and according to an approved formula. The top management could even claimed that every cent they got from the bonus system is deserving. And some companies were paying their CEOs tens of millions even when the companies were bleeding, losing hundreds of millions. Superficially the bonus system appears sound. But as they said, the devil is in the details. Were the formula transparent and made known to the shareholders, and accepted by the shareholders? What were the factors in the formula and how relevant were they to the health of the companies? Could the formula pay out exorbitant amounts, unlimited amounts at the expense of the shareholder's interest? Could the factors be juggled and doctored by the accountants to reflect whatever they want to and to maximise the payout? The other problem with the bonus system is that it can be used to pull wool over the eyes of the shareholders. The top management can, for cosmetic reasons, adopt a pay freeze, smaller increases, or even a pay cut to appease the shareholders. But on the contrary they could boost up their bonus payouts from 3 mths to 6 mths, or 6 mths to 12 mths or 24 mths. No one is wiser except the people designing the scheme and managing the scheme. Transparency is important but not often practised. Obama did the right thing to freeze or cap the bonus payout. And now the American corporate wants to side step this by paying themselves upfront. The top management will scheme and scheme to pay themselves as much as they could as they don't own the companies. They were just employees. Grab as much as they can when in office.

4/07/2009

They trusted him

In the Shi Ming Yi case in court yesterday it was reported that they trusted him and let him determine his own salary. And they have good reasons to do so. Ren Ci is so successful today because of one man, I mean monk. Shi Ming Yi is so talented and has a lot of followers and is able to raise the profile of Ren Ci and the multi million dollar donations that it received over the years. So, shouldn't people be grateful to his great contribution and talent and let him continue to run the organisation the way he knows best?

How we pay multi million dollar politicians

Now that the world is standing up to take notice of this extraordinary feat maybe we should enlighten them on the hows and whys. The rest of the world, especially politicians, must be wondering how we could pay politicians this kind of salary and the people are happy and supportive of it. They may think that if they were to propose it in their own countries there will be immediate mass demonstrations and riotings in the streets. But we did it, and for so many years, it has become part of our system of good governance. For the likes of Obama, Brown or Sarkozy, who may want to think about how to go about convincing their electorates to pay them a few million dollars in salary, the following could be a useful guide. In the first place the country must be rich enough to be able to afford the million dollar salaries. And for America and the rich European countries, this is a given and not an issue. If the people were to quibble about it, just tell them that it would cost them each a hot dog a year. Very reasonable and affordable. The next point or the most important point is to convince the electorate that they must have the best talents to lead the country. And the only way is to pay them well. Otherwise they will want to become bankers and lawyers or be in Wall Street making hundreds of millions. Our slogan is pay peanuts and you get monkeys. Surely they would not want their parliaments and congresses to be filled with monkeys. This is a very powerful argument. The other important argument is human nature. People in position of power will by nature become corrupt. To stop them from becoming corrupt, pay them up front, and pay them well so that there will be no incentive to become corrupt. This is understanding nature and human weaknesses. Once these arguments are out of the way, work out a formula to make it objective. Peg the salary of the politicians to the 100 highest paid employee's salary in the private sector. But don't peg it to the top dog. That would be too excessive. Say pick the 49th person or 50th person's salary as the bench mark. That will look very reasonable. Now debate the formula in parliament and passed it into law. Then the salary package will become legal and legitimate. See, QED. Oh, there are some other conditions to make this formula successful. The ruling party must have an absolute majority to ensure its safe passage in parliament. As for street protest in case the ignorant electorate could not understand the brilliance of such a formula, ban them. Actually, the successful implementation of this million dollar salary package for politicians requires supertalents. Only supertalents have the ability to pull this through and be able to convince the people that it is good for them and the country. Actually no, you need exceptional supertalents. Better still if they are demigods and immortals.

4/06/2009

Highest paid politicians - the numbers are wrong!

Yes, the numbers quoted for the world's highest top 30 politicians are wrong, way off the mark. Too conservative. What were quoted in the article were only the basic 12 months' salary of the politicians. There is another element that forms part of the package. Oh actually there were two elements, another bonus payment that can go as high as 12 months of the monthly salary. Some have quoted a figure of 16 months. And there is also pension. To quote Hsien Loong during his answer to Steve Chia, a NCMP, this was what he said. 'Mr Speaker, Sir, it is an entire package. When we calculate the salary, we look into how much a person receives now, how much he receives in the CPF, and how much he can expect to save in pensions. And when a person retires, he has a choice of having a pension stream for the rest of his life or taking a commuted lump sum at the point of retirement. In fact, as a matter of fact, nearly everybody who retires prefers the commuted lump sum. Because you take a lump sum, you invest it, you do what you want. If it runs out, it runs out. There is no free lunch. If you do not have your CPF, you have the pension. If you have the pension, you have less CPF. So it all adds up to a finite amount. The Member's implicit question is: are the Ministers enriching themselves again? And the answer is, we are going on market terms and, if anything, we are paying below what the market is.' It is an entire package, ....it all adds up to a finite amount. So, when we said that a minister or Prime Minister is getting say $3m, he could possibly get $6m, plus or minus a little depending on his bonuses. Then on top of that, if he has reached 55 years of age and has served 8 years as a minister, he is entitled to another 2/3 of his basic salary. There is a formula and definition of the basic salary in the Parliamentary Pensions Act. So if a Prime Minister is getting $3.9m, he could be getting another $3.9m in bonuses and another 2/3 of an X salary. This could easily be another $2m. That will come to around $9.8m. This $9.8m is the entire package, excluding other perks. Thus, all the figures quoted are way off their marks. They should be multiplied by 2 or 2.67 times. Would these numbers drive the political leaders of the world, especially the rich western nations, insane? They must be kicking themselves for being so underpaid.

This blog is quoted in the London Times!

Thank you Green Peas. Your article is not only quoted in the London Times online and in many other blogs and forums around the world, it also enlightens the world on how well we are governed as a country. http://www.mysingaporenews.blogspot.com/ is now famous man! I have noticed that the readership these few days have shot up furiously. Here is the link: http://timesbusiness.typepad.com/money_weblog/2009/04/the-10-highest-paid-politicians-in-the-world.html#more

Citizens versus Netizens

Joel Gn from Mediacorp wrote an article on the merits of netizen views and how representatives they were in Today. His conclusion can be summarised into the following. 1. There is no face to face discussion and many netizens hide behind the veil of anonymity, especially with regard to policy matters. Thus their views were not credible. Ha, I choose to differ. It is exactly because of the culture of fear here that anonymous views are more real and representative of the truth. Many who spoke in public actually would not disclosed their true feeling and views for obvious reasons. 2. The views expressed in cyberspace are views of a few individuals. So, the views expressed in the old media are not the views of individuals? Even many of the crap surveys and pushed out as the people's views were views of individuals. Even national policies were views of individuals and not the views of the people. Agree? Remember, it is for your own good. Or shall we concede that the views expressed by the professional reporters and journalists were the views of the people, not their individual views? Joel Gn forgot that in cyberspace it is 'the message and not the platform' or the people articulating it that is important. Anyone, no matter how big his title is, if he talks nonsense in cyberspace, he will be declared a clown immediately by netizens. On the other hand, an unassuming person with no title or status but could articulate a sensible view, the view will be respected. It is the message, not who you are. And that is exactly what Joel Gn said. That is the strength of cyberspace. You can't fool anyone by virtue of your position of title. And currently, cyberspace provides the anonymity for truthful opinions and gut reactions to be aired. You can't do it in the old media. They will either be censored, or one will get himself into trouble for airing the truth.

4/05/2009

Which blog or forum is part of the PAP stable?

The PAP has been preparing itself to play a bigger role in cyberspace. Having recognised that this is an area it cannot neglect and cannot close down, the only other option is to engage cyberspace fully as an active participant. It mentioned that it has its blogs and forums in place and it can be expected to launch its entry into cyberspace with a big bang. Now which are the blogs and forums that are actually linked with the PAP? So far we have only heard of the famous P65 and the YPAP forum. Which other ones will stand up and declare that it is also a PAP blog/forum? It will be interesting to see the real faces when the curtains are drawn. But I bet not every blog/forum will reveal its true affiliation. So there will still be a lot of guess work to try to identify who is the real McCoy.

The Art of comparing pay

Just a few weeks back, Liew Mun Leong was in cloud nine. He was the highest paid CEO in the island. So far no one is claiming to be paid more more $21m. He is also the highest pay employee in the island, private, public, civil servants, politicians, charity organisations, religious organisations all considered. Today he is probably feeling not so high when ST compares him with the CEOs of America. There they were being paid in hundreds of millions and in US$. What Liew Mun Leong got was peanut, yes, peanuts. And based on the ST articles, Liew Mun Leong is very deserving. The American companies are paying their CEOs more than Liew Mun Leong even when their companies were losing money. It is indeed a great lesson in how to compare pay and how to make one looks good or looks not too great. Our politicians sure don't look too good when compare to Liew Mun Leong. But when apples are compared to apples, our politician's salary are beyond comparison. I hope they now believe that they should not be asking for more increases until at least Barack Obama catches up. Maybe the old media should do an investigative report on all the incomes of the world's top politicians, including all the corrupt money they are getting. I am wondering how much corrupt money is Obama and Brown or Kevin Rudd getting, or Sarkozy? Then our politicians salary will be peanuts once again. And they can then justify for another round of increases. And the people will say, ya, they are underpaid.

4/04/2009

Finding square pegs for round holes

The second round of the election campaign came on this morning. The first round was to feature the last batch of recruits that are now in office. Today we are seeing 5 new faces being featured, all very talented and successful young people. However, all 5 denied that they were interested in politics and would want to continue to pursue in their own chosen career path. For saying this, they have passed the most crucial test to be selected as candidates for the next election. Saying yes will be an immediate rejection, for harbouring political ambition. So, the next 5 new candidates for the PAP, based on my deep knowledge and understanding of how the system works, are: Terence Foo, 38, Managing partner of financial communications agency Kreab Gavin Anderson, Nizam Idris, 41, executive director of foreign exchange strategy at UBS Investment Bank, Adrin Loi, 54, executive chairman of Ya Kun International, Sybil Rocha, 25, lawyer, and Chew SuTat, 36, executive vice president and head of market development at Singapore Exchange. These are all fine young people who are professionally trained and with excellent track records in their own fields, but zero or near zero track record in politics. The only exception is Chew SuTat, a PAP member who has worked with an MP and also in the Young PAP Executive Committee. A clean slate is an advantage for a new programme to be installed into their systems of values and beliefs. We can expect more publicity to be given to another few batches of candidates in the next couple of months. Yes, the election campaign has started.

4/03/2009

The TOP 30 highest paid politicians in the world

The TOP 30 highest paid politicians in the world are all from Singapore: 1. Elected President SR Nathan - S$3.9 million. 2. Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong - S$3.8 million. 3. Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew - S$3.5 million. 4. Senior Minister Goh Chok Thong - S$3.5 million. 5. Senior Minister Prof Jayakumar - S$3.2 million. 6. DPM & Home Affairs Minister Wong Kan Seng - S$2.9 million. 7. DPM & Defence Minister Teo Chee Hean - $2.9 million 8. Foreign Affairs Minister George Yeo - S$2.8 million. 9. National Development Minister Mah Bow Tan - S$2.7 million. 10. PMO Miniser Lim Boon Heng - S$2.7 million. 11. Trade and Industry Minister Lim Hng Kiang - S$2.7 million. 12. PMO Minister Lim Swee Say - S$2.6 million. 13. Environment Minister & Muslim Affairs Minister Dr Yaccob Ibrahim - S$2.6 million. 14. Health Minister Khaw Boon Wan - S$2.6 million. 15. Finance Minister S Tharman - S$2.6 million. 16. Education Minister & 2nd Minister for Defence Dr Ng Eng Hen - S$2.6 million. 17. Community Development Youth and Sports Minister - Dr Vivian Balakrishnan - S$2.5 million. 18. Transport Minister & 2nd Minister for Foreign Affairs Raymond Lim Siang Kiat - S$2.5 million. 19. Law Minister & 2nd Minister for Home Affairs K Shanmugam - S$2.4 million. 20. Manpower Minister Gan Kim Yong - S$2.2 million. 21. PMO Minister Lim Hwee Hwa - S$2.2 million 22. Acting ICA Minister - Lui Tuck Yew - S$2.0 million. 23 to 30 = Senior Ministers of State and Ministers of State - each getting between S$1.8 million to S$1.5 million. Note: 1. The above pay does not include MP allowances, pensions and other sources of income such as Directorship, Chairmnship, Advisory, Consultancy, etc to Gov-linked and gov-related organisations or foreign MNCs such as Citigroup, etc. 2. Though it is based on an estimate, the data cannot be far off the official salary scales. The above was posted in redbeanforum by Green Peas.

Terrorists at home

I am very sadden by the child abuse video posted in Stomp. I feel so sorry for the poor child who was being kicked around by the woman in the house. A child expects love and tender care. She must be so shock and did not even know what was going on. My god, how could this be allowed to go on? I recommend to parade the woman in the street and let the public kick her for pleasure. Why would people pay so much to bring a terrorist home?

Sentosa up its price for attractions

Some of the more popular attractions in Sentosa will have price hikes from $1 to $6. This is to increase the value of these attractions. Oh, like GST is to help the people. Quite logical actually. Sentosa has spent quite a bit of money in an advertising blitz in February to attract visitors to the island. The money spent must come from somewhere. Further, one can expect that the attractions will be more attractive with the price hike as Sentosa is going to give more value for more money paid. Just keep the entry into the island free and they can raise all the fees they want. Then it will be a case of demand and supply. I hope this island in the sun for Singaporeans will remain forever free. I dread the day when Singaporeans will again have to pay to visit the island.

PAP Youth Wing coming online

Yes, Teo Ser Luck is leading the YPAP into cyberspace. This is reported in the old media today. The YPAP forum, P65, PAP facebooks and what not, will be given a revamp and a big boost, a big bang into cyberspace. This is good news for the new media. This new position of PAP is the best sign of approval that cyberspace is going to be here for now and tomorrow. We will have more views, more pro PAP and pro govt views to balance the current negativity in cyberspace. There will be more exchanges and debates over issues, and this will liven up the discussion. The army of young PAP activitists have been released into the cyberspace playground. No longer will they be leased or kept within their closed doors to chat among themselves. The first thing I did was to take a peep at the YPAP forum this morning. No change yet. Still the same as it was before. I am truly excited and looking forward to the change. At the very least they will delete all the pornography being posted there. Now, will the PAP activists take on the challenge of the cyberspace guerillas, warts and all, and return the same compliments?

4/02/2009

Top 10 highest paid politicians in the World 1. Lee Hsien Loong - Singapore Salary in dollars - $2.47 million Salary in local currency - S$3.76 million 2. Donald Tsang Yum-Kuen - Hong Kong Salary in dollars - $516,000 Salary in local currency - HK$4 million 3. Barack Obama - United States Salary in dollars - $400,000 4. Brian Cowen - Ireland Salary in dollars - $341,000 Salary in local currency - €257,000 5. Nicolas Sarkozy - France Salary in dollars - $318,000 Salary in local currency - €240,000 6. Angela Merkel - Germany Salary in dollars - $303,000 Salary in local currency - €228,000 7. Gordon Brown - UK Salary in dollars - $279,000 Salary in local currency - £194,250 8. Stephen Harper - Canada Salary in dollars - $246,000 Salary in local currency - C$311,000 9. Taro Aso - Japan Salary in dollars - $243,000 Salary in local currency - Y24 million 10. Kevin Rudd - Australia Salary in dollars - $229,000 Salary in local currency - A$330,000 The above is an extract from a Times Online article posted in Singapore News Alternative. And my god, the information was so wrong. Shall I correct it? Doesn't Times know who are the top 10 highest paid politicians in the world?

When numbers are Pure Nonsense!

The saga of Liew Mun Leong is still on going. Another article by Lee Su Shyan in ST today questions the logic and ridiculous nature of the way numbers are being used to justified pay and think that it is reasonable and acceptable. Liew Mun Leong's bonus is equivalent to 0.7% of the company's profit which is very, very reasonable. Compare to Kwek Leng Beng's in percentage term, his $20.7m is smaller and thus fairer. Kwek Leng Beng's is 1.1% of his company's profit. Wow, too much! Such use of numbers as comparison and justification is an insult to the shareholders intelligence. And it make a mockery of Obama's pay compare to the US economy of US$10 trillion. Obama should be paid many times more. And closer at home, Hsien Loong's pay is ridiculously low in percentage term to the GDP or whatever national data one wishes to use. When would such cock reasoning be slammed as bullshit and a reasonable compensation formula become the norm in industries? Yes, the shareholders have a lot of questions to ask in the next AGM. They should also ask what the top twenty employees' bonuses were to be fair to Liew Mun Leong. If the top twenty employees are getting several millions each, then Liew Mun Leong should not be the one that is under the spotlight.

4/01/2009

Myth 206 - How accessible is our justice system to the poor?

The pride of our judicial system is that it is fair and just and accessible to everyone, theoretically. Everyone must have remembered the NKF cases when a few victims quietly paid up when faced with lawsuits even when they were in the right. They had to pay up, apologised and looked like a fool all because they could not afford the legal fees in a lawsuit. And there have been other cases when the victims simply weighed the cost and find it cheaper to pay and walk away than to fight it out for justice. Motor accidents must have many of such incidents. Is our legal system really accessible to the poor victims? A few who have met the criteria of being shamefully poor may be able to get legal aids and assistance. But many will not fit in. I can safely said that legal justice is available to those who can afford to pay for it or those who are so poor to qualify for aid. In the case of tort or non criminal lawsuits, it is unlikely that legal aids or assistance will be available. Correct me if I am misinformed on this. Is there anyway to make our justice system more accessible to the masses and the victims of injustice? I was reminded of the American 'contingency fee based system' which means no legal fees unless the case is won. I am still disturbed by the fact that this practice is not allowed here? What is so criminal or unjust or unfair to have such a system? Under the present system, like it or not, when a lawsuit is knocking, you have to pay up first. Be prepared to pay and hope to win to claim damages against the other party. No money you lose by default. A 'contingency fee based system' will allow the lawyers to judge a case and take on the other party when there are merits for it. This in a way can stamp the frivolours lawsuits initiated by those with deep pockets. The govt's legal aid can also provide such a service based on the merits of a case rather than on how poor is the applicant. Justice will then be available to the innocent and not innocent and poor. And the cost can be claimed from the other party. It is not necessarily a totally free service. The availability of such a service will level the floors in the public courts and also provide more businesses for the legal profession. Of course spurious and frivolous cases will be lesser as the bully will know that justice is available to the poor and innocent as well.