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10/31/2009

A sermon from elle

elle(from UK) says: Here is my 2 cents worth. People who dare not speak out are afraid of the judgement of others who may penalise them or at least laugh at them. So how do we cure that problem? (1) To dare to speak out means that you have to be confident of your views, you must know that you are right with your views and that no one will be able to challenge your views. So how can you be sure you have views that no one can challenge? And how do you can you gain such knowledge? God gave you eyes to see. He also gave you a brain to use to analyse the good from the bad. Today, man has given you the tools to learn. It is the Internet. You could easily learn enough to write 10 PhD thesis from the Internet. There are all the libraries available to you on the Internet. All you need is patience, perseverance, and time to learn and to analyse. (This last trait, the ability to analyse, and to have cognisance of all the facts is up to you and may depend on your experience and maturity.) But this Internet university is open and free to all, if you have access to the Internet. Once you know the truth you will want to share your knowledge with others. Imagine being able to find out answers like, (1) Is there a god? (2) Whose god has all the answers? (3) Is that preacher or that Professor telling me the truth? Or does he know what he is talking about? (4) What is a Taoist? or Buddhist? or Christian? or a Jew? or a Muslim? It may take you 10 years of research, but at the end you will know the answers. Now, in the 21st century all this information is available to you, free, and on tap, and it is up to you to find out for yourself. If you care to find out, that is. But people are lazy and want to be spoon fed. Those who want to be spoon fed will never have the cognisance to see the truth anyway so they are a waste of time. SO MY CHALLENGE TO YOU IS; "IF YOU ARE IGNORANT, IT IS YOUR OWN DOING." (2) Now, back to my original article. (By the way I have replied to the author but have not yet received a reply.) Singapore has been a "Nanny State" for too long. It is time the people were weaned from it. That article clearly spells out why Singapore is a Nanny state. Today, Singaporeans must be able to speak out, discuss, and learn about the world about them. They have to know the real world, with "warts and all." So that they will know which way they want to go and what is there in the real world. You can only learn that when you can talk freely about it, not guided or controlled discussions. I know, most of the time I have acted as a "Devil's advocate" but I have not acted our of malice. I have wanted to entice more of you to discuss the issues of life, of problems of the world, and how it will affect the lives of people in South East Asia and the future of your children and their children. There I go again preaching a sermon. End off. The above post is in Redbeanforum in the World Affairs section.

To move on or to hold on?

I posted a thread on some of the outstanding angsts that have still to be resolved or waiting for a solution. My friend Wally suggested that it is better to move on as many have done so. That's how life is, and how things should be. Make your noise and move on. The question is, should we or should we not? The media has its own role and function cut out for it. It also has its own agenda and will move on when needed to or to hang on and repeat their stuff for as long as they want it in their own ways. Take the issue of housing prices and welcoming foreigners. The media is not moving on and let the issue pass. The internet allows an issue to be rehashed for as long as the people want them to, and not dependent on the media to support or discard them. The people now has the internet of their own and can set their own agenda for discussion. No one can say let's move on and nothing will be heard anymore. But they can if they want to, by closing down the internet. There is still this prevalent idea that we should go on and welcome more foreigners. Some may support this for good reasons while some are just parroting this view without thinking. In all things, there is always a breaking point when enough is enough, from not enough to excessive and eventually destructive. Just like greed in the US. We all paid the price for it. We started from a swamp, poorly inhabited and needed more people to build this place. We grew and prospered with more people adding to the vibrancy of the island. The question is when is enough, and are we breaching it? How many more can we take before the seams burst? This brings me back to the white mice theory. One mouse or several mice in a cage will quickly multiply when there is enough space and food. But if not managed, they will soon over multiply and strain the limited space and resources. The sad ending is that when food and space are scarce, they will fight and eat each other up. How far are we from reaching this point in our immigration policy and welcoming of foreigners? When will welcome turn into frown and disgust? And when will the newcomes find it tough here and turn against their hosts, demanding for their share? We are no longer an unpopulated swamp. We are one of the most densely populated little piece of rock on earth. We are pushing the limits and the limits will be hit as a matter of time. So don't anyhow just say have more foreigners, increase the population for more economic growth. The economic numbers may be admirable. But there is a social and political cost. Should we move on when issues are affecting us and stuck with us, or we pretend and see nothing, hear nothing and say nothing, and all will pass? We are not talking about celebrities and the type of clothes they wear.

10/30/2009

Time to recollect the unsettled issues

Nothing heard of the high motor insurance premium anymore. Or people are busy trying to find a solution in their wet dreams? Then the fear of being hospitalised by an expensive sickness and being bankrupted by the helfty hospital bill. Maybe the fear is no longer there and everyone has accepted the fact that this is it. Or people have found alternative solutions, not to be hospitalised when that day comes. The jailed CPF money in the hundreds of thousands per person, almost untouchable. CPF holders must have resigned to this fact. And the surging prices of public housing. But many will be jumping in joy. Huat ah! Good to many and bad to a few. So it is ok to let the prices go sky high. These are some of the issues that need to be taken out from the cupboard for airing now and then. Or else Rip Van Winkle will go back to sleep. Oh I almost forgot. The PR and foreigner issue. I am waiting to here from some elected representatives of the people to say something in defence of the citizens rather than the foreigners. Come to think of it, none have actually come out with such a stand. I may be wrong but still scratching my head trying to recall if there was any.

10/29/2009

Robbery or theft in paradise?

Oct 26, 2009 Family on camping trip robbed By Muhd Nurluqman A FAMILY on a camping trip was robbed on Oct 24 at the southernmost point in Sentosa. The family of eight had pitched a tent at the small islet at around 8.30pm and realised that three bags that they had placed inside the open tent were missing a couple of hours later. The above was posted in Singapore Kopitiam. I think it was taken from a press report and Muhd Nurluqman is a reporter or sort of. The question is whether the family was robbed or the bag was stolen when they left it inside their tent. To be robbed is pretty serious in this island paradise. On the other hand petty theft can still occurred if one is careless with one's belonging and tempting the thief to be.

Singaporeans are crazy!!!

This post is not about being anti foreigners or PRs. It is about the crazy or mad people in Singapore. Everyday we are listening to sermons and lectures about how to take good care of foreigners, make them happy, accommodate them and welcome them into our lives. We need to be good, be kind and be generous to them, or else they will all go away. Singaporeans must not forget that charity begins at home. And for the govt, the first priority is to look after the well being of its citizens. Or is it? Should the priority be reversed and taking good care of foreigners comes first, and Singaporeans second? Enough is enough, and people should stop coddling and embracing foreigners like lovers or their saviours. It is the most stupid bullshit we are being spammed daily. What about us Singaporeans? If MPs think that it is their role to look after foreigners, to spend their precious time on how best to look after foreigners, let the foreigners vote for the MPs.

Celebrating Singaporean - Lee Kuan Yew

Lee Kuan Yew LKY is invited by the Americans to receive a Lifetime Achievement Award for his contribution to the people of South East Asia and the world. He was feasted in a gala dinner organised by the US Asean Businesss Council with the attendance of many eminent US leaders, past and present. Hilary Clinton, Henry Kissinger, George Schultz, Jim Webb, Kurt Campbell, all had kind words to say about him. Obama sent a letter that was read out in the dinner. Bill Clinton and senior George Bush had what they said recorded and played at the dinner. Not many leaders have been received in such a manner, with tributes, admiration and warmth from the American dignitaries. Bill Clinton said, 'His work as PM and now as MM has helped literally millions of people in Singapore and all across South east Asia to live better, more prosperous lives.' George HW Bush said, 'Few have done so much for their country or are as deserving of recognition for a lifetime service to his country and the South east Asian region as Mr Lee....' Henry Kissinger, an old friend, said, '...He has become a seminal figure for all of us...There is nobody who can teach us more about this than MM.' And George Schultz said about his 3 hour conversation with LKY, Kissinger and Helmut Schmidt in his kitchen, 'Man, was that an education. So(MM Lee), you have taught all of us a tremendous amount by what you've done, what you've said, the way you mean it when you say something, and I thank you.' Like him or hate him, you got to give it to him. He is greatly admired in the top echelon of American leaders. And a word from Asst Secretary of State Kurt Campbell, 'Thanks for coming and spending so much time with a group fo people who not only respect you but love you. I know we don't use that word in Singapore, but still, we love you.'

Is there something missing?

The great dialogue on law has been going on for a few days. Singapore's top officials have been defending our great records in building a prosperous nation for 3.2m citizens and 1.2m foreigners. Our stand was to defend what we have built and done, to an 'audience of mainly American lawyers'. We have a very safe city, no slums, no 'no go' areas. People are rich, well fed, well housed, well educated and well travelled. We live harmoniously in a multi racial society without deep divides or strong hatred among the various races and religious mix. What else can one ask for? And the cake is that foreigners are flooding into a city seeking jobs and a better life. They are pouring their wealth into the city state. These are the testaments of a great city to live in. Why are there so many negative remarks and perceptions about this little paradise? Strict laws, executive interference, ISA, a people that is fearful of speaking up, etc, etc, were frequently hurled against the city state as if they are real? Are they, or just somebody's imagination? Or is there something missing that were not seen, heard or spoken about? What is it that creates this air of uncertainty and disquiet?

10/28/2009

Pay double for faster and smoother rides?

According to a survey by LTA, the findings point to commuters and motorists being more willing to pay more for a faster and smoother ride. Some would not mind paying double of what they are paying now. Depending on who you are surveying, the figures may be grossly underestimated. Many motorists would not mind paying $10 per ERP just to have a free highway to themselves. Our ERPs are too cheap to many of the rich motorists. For the hardlanders, try doubling their bus fare or train fare and see what they will say or do! Actually our taxi fares are also very cheap compare to New York, London, Tokyo and the major cities around the world. Ask any tourists from these big cities and they will laugh their heads off at the ridiculously low taxi fares we are paying. Taxi fares should be doubled as well to keep abreast with the taxis fares to big cities.

Another complaint letter on unreliable public transport

Another complaint letter on unreliable public transport Raymond Koh Joo Guan wrote a letter in My Paper complaining about all the shortcomings of our public transport system, from trains to bus and taxis. The solution is so simple. You want better service, pay more. 'Mm Chai Si', any how complain. Try reading these in Hokien.

More feel good factors needed

Read in the ST, Vivian Balakrishnan said, 'If someone needs help and isn't getting it, tell me.' And another headline, CEOs' shrinking pay, telling the story that CEOs of Singapore listed companies are collecting lesser pay, ie, less than $5million. In the Vivian case, the people should feel better that the minister cares and will extend a helping hand to those who are in need of help. In the second headline, there is a report on the comparative salaries of some of the top honchos. Lim Cee Onn, Keppel Corp, $10m - $10.25m, Tang Kin Fei, Sembcorp Industries - $8.85m, Kwek Leng Beng, City Dev, $7.75m - $8m, Hsieh Fu Hua, SGX, $7.18m, Wee Ee Cheong, UOB, $5.5m - $5.75m, Tan Kwi Kin, Sembcorp Marine, $5.12m. Down the ladder were those getting around $3m - $4m, were David Conner, OCBC, Wong Ngit Liong, Venture Corp, Chua Sock Koong, Singtel, Chew Choon Seng, SIA, Kuok Khoon Hong, Wilmar and Cheng Wai Keung, Wing Tai. What is interesting is that those that are part owners or majority owners of their respective companies appear to be more stingy in paying themselves huge salaries. I thought they should reward themselves more, after all they are the majority owners and built the companies themselves, with their own monies. Kwek Leng Beng is only the third highest paid and Wee Ee Cheong is the fifth. Then Wong Ngit Liong, Kuok Khoon Hong, Cheng Wai Keung paid themselves a miserly $3m - $4m. The worst paid majority owners is Olivia Lum who paid herself only $250k - $500k. And this amount is even lesser than most employees in the public sector. Very unbecoming. One notable absentee is Liew Mun Leong who was rewarded with a $10m bonus on top of his salaries. Shouldn't he be number One? My conclusion is that it is more rewarding to be just an employee and not an employee cum major shareholders.

10/27/2009

Blogging is not a waste of time

At least in China, blogging is playing a huge role to curb abuses of civil servants and authority. In the absence of free press and a huge govt machinery, the ordinary people are often trampled by high officials and their little pet dogs. Today's My Paper frontlined an article on how the internet became an important tool for the ordinary Chinese to shame the authority by exposing their abuses and corruption in cyberspace. Other than blatant abuses, state departments are also famous for cooking up skewed information and statistics to paint a distorted picture of the truth. And 'crazy rules are often snuffed out by waves of online scorn.' Chinese netizens have been very effective in their postings to embarrass country officials and also to overturn or stop some of their nonsensical rules and practices. Our netizens may not be as vocal in cyberspace for many reasons. Maybe there were lesser abuses of authority and corruption to start with. And our rules and practices are very well thought out and implemented and netizens have little reasons to scorn or embarrass our govt officials. Even then, there is a role for netizens to play to point out the minor infringements or irregularities that are bound to have. If there is no netizens, the silence shall either explode some day or be lost at the misfortune of those who are at the wrong end of the stick. I remember someone said this a couple of days back. Oh he was quoting Lu Xun of Ah Q fame. The people's voices of conscience must be heard and there must be an outlet for it. Blogging is never a waste of time. It takes effort to look at issues, to understand them and to nit pick problems that are blind to many people, especially the people who write the edicts.

10/26/2009

Conning Asean

The effort to squeeze themselves into the Asean fold has increased in intensity. First Australia and now Japan, two hardcore allies of the US, are putting their grand plans to Asean for a bigger bloc. By hook or by crook, the US must be a member of a bigger organisation with Asean members in it. Only then can the US lead this bunch of little countries along, as their leader. The Asean countries must not be allowed to run and operate independently. They are just incapable of looking after themselves. It is for their own good that the US should come in and nanny these 'never to grow up' adolescents. Asean has been in existence for several decades, rising from the hubris of the Cold War to strike out on its own, to be neutral from the big powers, to be a zone of neutrality. Why should Asean allow itself to be subsumed by the big powers and lose its identity and independence? Why can't Asean exists as an organisation without the presence of big powers, without their meddling in Asean's affairs? The present arrangement of engaging big powers on an Asean plus basis is perfect, the best for the Asean and its smaller members. Becoming a bigger bloc, which is desired by the big powers, will cripple Asean as a regional grouping of smaller independent and neutral countries. Asean should think very carefully not be dragged to play in the big league, to play beyond its level, like the S League trying to play in the EPL or in the European League. It is flattering to be in the big leagues, but the inadequacy will stand out like a sore thumb and very embarrassing. Would Asean be easily conned to invite the wolves into its fold?

More thinking needed

Last week we have Sue Ann Chia from the ST examining critically the reasoning of HDB on the LUP programme in the two opposition wards. Today, ST's Jessica Cheam is re examining the numbers and claims of HDB on the 96% success rate of first time applicants for HDB flats. The numbers were quoted to prove HDB's position and looked quite convincing. What is important is to look carefully at the different sets of numbers and how they came about, how they were used to present a point. One example given by Jessica Cheam is that if 200 units were offered and there were 600 applicants, it was obvious that only 200 could be successful and 400 would be unsuccessful. How many percent will be the success rate? Definitely not 96%, not 50% but 33%. In the recent application for balance flats, 2132 flats were put up for sale and attracting more than 20,000 applicants. The success rate could only be around 10% with 90% balek kampong, come again next time. This brings out another issue about meeting the demands of flat buyers. If there are 20,000 applying in one exercise, how many flats must be built to meet this demand? At 2000 units annually, the demand, if static, will take 10 years to clear. Is HDB meeting the demand of the people?

10/25/2009

Speaking in personal or private capacity

Is this a new style, to speak in one’s private capacity as an individual? I think it is perfectly alright if the president of a brothel or casino were to speak in his private capacity about the green movement or about saving the earth. But what happens if the president of a brothel were to suggest how he thinks the brothel should operate, or the president of a casino were to comment on how a casino could be better managed? This is akin to a president of a country saying that something is wrong in the country and such and such a thing could have been done to make it right. Then he turns around and says, hey, speaking only in private capacity and not as a President. And mind you, if these presidents were all collecting their dues as incumbent presidents, be it a brothel or casino or a country, then what can the people make out of it? Why don't they make the changes when in office?

10/24/2009

Good times for the hardlanders

The hardlanders or heartlanders form the bulk of the population and the majority of public housing owners. And 80% of housing in the island are public housing. And when the prices of public housing are up, it means good times are here for the hardlanders. Today's main article in the media is that prices of resale public housing flats are soaring, including cash over valuation which buyers are willing to cough out upfront, an amount that is in addition to the valuation price. This has gone up four folds on the average, from $3000 to $12000. All the hardlanders are beaming with a big smile knowing that the flats they bought are appreciating in prices. And many are making calculations and alternative plans on their new found wealth. Some will be selling their flats for a better price, and upgrade to private properties. Some will use the money to buy a palace in some less expensive countries. Some will downgrade into smaller units and set aside the balance for retirements or for a trip around the world. Some may go the extra mile and opt to rent a flat. After all at 60 or 70, how many more years are left. So no need to buy into another property. Keep the cash hoards and feel rich. In the kopitiams many will be calling themselves millionaires or half a millionaires. They will be laughing every day at their richness instead of waiting for a statement from the CPF once a quarter to tell them they have plenty of money in their CPF accounts. The feeling must be good. For the single old men, time is going to be real good. For the single old gals, can also be good. Let's welcome the PRs, the young and the old, the rich and the not so rich. The rich can buy over all the flats from the Singaporeans. And the not so rich can service them and make them live the lives of the rich. Time for celebration and parties in the heartlands. The asset enhancement policy is bearing fruits. Singaporeans must be grateful to the govt for their good fortunes.

10/23/2009

What's left for Singaporeans?

Below is the first para of a Financial Times article posted in Singapore News Alternative about the surge of rich Russians coming to paradise. Financial Times, 21 Oct 2009 Singapore is attracting a surge of Russian investment as rich business people seek a politically stable home for their personal wealth as well as exposure to Asia’s rapid recovery from the global financial crisis. Officials and bankers say significant sums have been deposited in the island state’s booming private banking sector, with Russian money also flowing into the stock market through investments in property and luxury services companies. The issue is that other than investing in productive industries, a lot of money will be sunk in properties. If rich foreigners are flooding the market and buying up everything, eventually what will be left for the citizens? Yes, it is good money, like selling Alaska. Before we sell everything, there is a need to calibrate how much can be sold and how much should be reserved for citizens. (Ok, bad economics). Otherwise, the whole of the city, Orchard Road and Bukit Timah will be owned by foreigners and the citizens being left out. Exceptions will be the Istana and Oxley Rise.

Imminent collapse of American financial system

Obama is going to slash the pay of the top 25 wage earners in corporations that received financial aid from the govt. And fear is spreading across corporate America, not fear by the affected executives whose pay will be cut, but the fear of them quitting to join other organisations or fleeing to other countries. America will lose its super talents and the American financial system will collapse. America needs them to save their own financial organisations. This is the biggest bull that the American public is being made to believe. It is exactly this same bunch of idiots that caused the financial collapse of the American corporations and nearly the whole world. These are no talents but super crooks and thieves. I doubt any country with govt that has intellect that is better than kids will want to recruit these crooks to mess up their financial system. American shall say good riddance to them. Imagine the trillions of dollars poured into the financial systems of all the countries to avoid a total collapse of the world economy, and these crooks are starting to pay themselves astronomical salaries and bonuses again just because they cooked the books to register a few hundred millions in profits. What about the billions and trillions lost? When are they going to pay back? America will not collapse without them.

10/22/2009

The fallacious truth of authority

The renowned Thai pathologist, Dr Pornthip Rojanasunand, is retained by the Selangor State Govt as an expert witness to the suspicious death of Teoh Beng Hock. The official version, after official autopsy reports, suggested that the likely cause of death is suicide. Dr Pornthip's conclusion is that there is an 80% chance that it is homicide. She found many irregularities including strangulation marks, head hit by a blunt object and anal penetration! Her findings were objected by Govt lawyers on grounds that she did not conduct the autopsy. So the people who conducted the autopsy must be telling the truth. This is the fallacious logic of authority. I was there, I saw it, I touched it, so I know what it is and I am telling the truth. The real truth lies in the facts and evidence. The controversial findings would not have been possible if providence was not in Teoh's favour. It so happened that the State Govt is controlled by the opposition PKR. And now we are hearing a different truth. Darkness cannot be covered forever and light must come through in this case. The dark ages of Malaysian politics must come to an end.

Blogging is a waste of time (part 2)

I was lambasted by a friend for raising the controversial issue of LUP in the two opposition wards. To him there was nothing wrong with the way it was done and the govt had the right to appoint whoever they want to announce the LUP. Raising such issues in a blog is a complete waste of time. Using the same argument, the half page article by Sue Ann Chia in the ST today must be a bigger waste of time, and ST must be wasting time and money allowing the issues to be printed on its pages. Why would ST choose to air this issue over again? I think the editors or someone up there must be feeling uncomfortable that if Singaporeans are so dumb, or choose to be ostriches, and refuse to question controversial issues affecting their lives and the political development of the people, the continued existence of Singapore and Singaporeans as a thinking people is questionable. Is it a good thing for Singaporeans to just shut up when they are confronted with controversies or even questionable decisions by the govt? Some may think so, assuming that everything is in good hands. So they can sleep in peace, happily making money. What kind of Singaporeans will we have if this be the case? Why are we complaining that Singaporeans are apathetic and apolitical and regretted that this is not a good thing? Should Singaporeans be more political, more aware of the political developments and affairs of their country? Should those who are raising issues and questioning controversial policies be called fools or the other way round, that the greater fools are the silent majority who allowed themselves to be pushed around like sheep, not knowing, not wanting to knowing, not to bother and think that all is well? I thank Sue Ann Chia and the ST for raising this issue again to stir the dull and numb minds of Singaporeans and to educate them to be thinking citizens.

10/21/2009

136 loan sharks arrested

Almost half of these arrested, according to Eng Hen, are youths. And if I am not mistaken, the rest are in their early 20s. I will not call them loan sharks but ikan bilis. The sharks are still safe, hiding in deep waters or away in safer zones. When will the sharks be caught?

Apathy in Law Society Elections

More seats than candidates available for the Law Society Elections. The media reported that there were 8 seats and only 4 candidates standing for them. And the President and another incumbent in the senior category were returned unopposed. Also in another category two candidates were the sole nominees. The former President Chandra Mohan was lamenting at the state of apathy in the society and liken it to the general apathy in the population. What I would suggest is for the society to revamp its election rules. The President be only reserved for candidates that have incomes of more than $10m or have more than 20 years of practice. And the critieria for the next few candidates be slightly lower, say $8m annual income and 15 years of practice and so on. For the general committee members level, they can stand as a group of 5 or 10 candidates. Would these suggestions be of help to improve the apathy and more candidates coming forward to stand for office?

Elevating terrorists to cult status

With shocking disbelief I kept reading flattery comments about the great limping terrorist and the expert suicide bomb maker in the media. In the case of the former, his greatest achievement was to escape from detention, while the later was credited for several bombings in Indonesia and the death of innocent people. They were showered with praises as charismatic, super intelligent, great in deception and disguises, experts in their arts of sabotage and military skills. If the little military training and knowledge they had should qualified them to be so glorified, we should better do some glorifications for our own combatants and leaders or they will pale in comparison to these two terrorists. The bad consequences of flattery remarks on two terrorists could raise them to cult status and attracting more naive and gullible recruits into their cause. Would it be better to call a spade a spade, like a half baked school dropout limping terrorist, a killer of innocent people in suicide bombings, misfits of the community, mad men, criminals etc etc? We do not want a Che Quevara and his guerilla fighters fighting the govt do we?

10/20/2009

A serious proposition by a blogger

Below are some recommendations by Gerald Giam on how to solve the high prices of housing. The full post is at his blog http://geraldgiam.sg. It shows that bloggers can put up serious articles that are as good as those in the paid media or papers submitted in Parliament. Here it is. I have a few suggestions on how we can lower the cost of public housing for Singaporeans, without causing asset destruction or panic selling. Sell new flats at cost-plus pricing The first thing HDB should do is to reduce the price of its new flats. HDB maintains that flats remain “affordable” and that it still provides a “market subsidy” for buyers. The market subsidy simply means that new HDB flats are priced lower than existing resale properties in the same area. It is not based on the cost of construction and land. Mr Leong Sze Hian from The Online Citizen has calculated that HDB could be making a profit of over $170,000 per flatin the new Punggol development. Mr See Leong Kit, in a letter published in TODAY, also arrived at a similar estimate of $140,000 profit per unit for the Pinnacle@Duxton development. For a start, in the spirit transparency, HDB should disclose the profits it makes from each project ─ by showing how much exactly it cost them to build the flats alongside the prices that they are being sold for. HDB is a government agency. It should not behave like a profit-maximising corporation. There is no reason why new HDB flats cannot be priced at cost plus ─ no more than 5% above the cost price of building the flat and acquiring the land. Reducing the price of new flats will immediately make it more affordable for many more lower- and middle-income couples who do not have the savings to pay over $300,000 for a new flat. It would also have a knock on effect of slowly lowering the price of resale flats, which would also benefit home buyers. Perhaps HDB is concerned that these homeowners will sell their flat 5 years later for an obscene profit in the open market. To prevent this from happening, HDB could require that the flats cannot be sold for more than 10% above the cost price (adjusted for inflation) for the first 10 years. This will prevent home owners from profiting excessively after receiving the government subsidy. Another way of reducing costs is to build flats without all the frills. In recent years, HDB seems to have taken on the mindset of a private developer, coming up with ways on how to meet the apparent demand from yuppie Singaporeans for condo-style living. This is treading down the wrong path. HDB flats should remain no-frills public housing. There is no need to provide posh condo lookalikes and price them like private apartments. Those who want a more high-class living environment should consider buying private properties. Build more new flats During a parliamentary debate in September, opposition leader Low Thia Khiang questioned whether HDB is under-building flats to meet the demand of flat buyers. Mr Mah Bow Tan dismissed it, saying simply that there was “no basis to say HDB is under-building”. He fanned out statistics that showed that the HDB built 2,400 flats in 2007, 8,000 in 2008 and another 8,000 this year. As always, government statistics don’t tell the full story. Just last week, the Sale of Balanced Flats launched by HDB received over 20,691 applications for only 2,132 available flats ─ almost 10 times oversubscribed. The recent Punggol Residences Built-to-Order five-room flats released in August were also 10 times oversubscribed, with 1,587 balloters for just 154 units. The PAP government has dismissed these clear indications that there is a shortage of flats by suggesting that most of those people who applied were just trying their luck and not really interested in buying a place to stay. This is an insult to the thousands of home buyers who have tried numerous times but failed to find a flat that fits their basic requirements. It is likely that the main reason why the HDB does not want to build more new flats is because it will lower the overall price of even the resale market, which may be politically troublesome for them. The HDB needs to examine whether it’s mandate is to provide affordable housing for Singaporeans, or feed voters with unsustainable promises of constantly increasing home asset prices. PRs increasing flat demand Part of the reason for the high prices of resale flats is the large influx of foreigners who take up permanent residency, thus making them eligible to buy HDB flats in the open market. A recent ERA report revealed that 40% of resale flat buyers are permanent residents (PR). This is a phenomenal proportion, considering that HDB flats were built to house Singaporeans, not foreigners. It’s questionable whether all of these PRs intend to sink their roots in Singapore or whether they see Singapore as a stepping stone to better opportunities in the US, or Australia, or back in China when conditions there improve. I welcome foreigners to come to Singapore, to contribute to our economy and add to our social diversity. Many of my friends and colleagues are foreigners, and I have seen the benefits many of them have brought to Singapore. However, I am strongly opposed to the government’s policy of allowing in so many foreigners in such a short amount of time, as this has put a severe strain on the housing market, the public transport system and the job situation. The immigration policy is so liberal that within weeks of arriving in Singapore, a foreigner with the right qualifications can apply for PR and get it approved within three months. Without having contributed even a year to Singapore, these PRs are eligible to buy public housing and benefit from a system which Singaporeans have spent a lifetime building up. Impose waiting period for PRs to buy flats To rectify this, I propose that all PRs must have lived and worked continuously in Singapore for at least three years before they are allowed to buy HDB flats. This would filter out all those PRs who have shown little commitment to our country and are just taking up residence in order to be able to buy a subsidised flat, save on rental and sell it a few years later for a huge profit. Lest this proposal causes alarm to skilled workers who are considering applying for PR, I would point out that under this proposed policy, HDB should look at the entire duration that the PR has been in Singapore, not just the period since he got his blue NRIC. Skilled foreigners who have demonstrated a commitment to making Singapore their home should have no worries about this new policy disadvantaging them. Conclusion I have laid out in this article just a few suggestions on reining in unaffordable public housing costs for home buyers. It is a work-in-progress and by no means comprehensive. I hope that policy makers will consider some of these suggestions for the sake of the thousands of Singaporean home buyers ─ including future home buyers ─ who are just seeking for a decent roof over their head.

Psycho analysing an angry blogger

In two days, this blogger posted 3 comments under the nick of Macdonald Bloggers, Pee on it and Empty Empathy in www.mysingaporenews.blogspot.com in the threads 'Blogging is a waste of time' and 'Amazing Grace'. It was a rare opportunity to look at the content of such a post to reveal what or who is behind these angry comments. For a start let me make a general assumption that both of us do not know each other except for the postings. So he was angry with my posts and sought to destroy me as a blogger, not my posts and views. I am making another assumption that he must have read plenty of my posts, can't be just because of one post and he became so incensed. If the latter, then he is fit to register in IMH. For he claimed that I am flawed and writing rubbish and all the bloggers reading my posts are foolish, listening to a fool. Now why and how could a person be so infuriated by my posts? He came across as a person in rage, blabbing non stop, at the top of his voice, and pointing an intimidating finger at me? Is he of sound mind? I am using he as a neutral term for he could be a she, but more likely he. One thing for sure, in his rage he could not see what he was writing, or he was just a careless person, and all kinds of mistakes, spelling and grammatical errors splashed across his 3 comments. It could also mean that he is a very impulsive person, that when provoked, or felt provoked, he lost his mind, he must let it off immediately from his chest. This is typical of a person who cannot control his own emotion. His 3 comments showed how bitter and combative he is. He just wanted to whack and whack. A very dangerous man that is ruled by his emotion than his head. Uncontrollable! The other thing is that he isn't that clever either. He thought by posting under 3 different nicks he could easily pass off as 3 bloggers. But he failed to cover his tracks. All his style and mannerism were exposed in his posts. Not clever indeed. But he believes he is very clever. My conclusion, a very impulsive, aggressive and angry man that can go into a rage and becomes very destructive. He loses his cool easily and will shout at the top of his voice to win an argument by drowning out his opponents. He is also careless but very conceited. He thought by a barrage of shouting and pointing fingers at his target, he will win the argument. Unfortunately in a blog, people can quietly and carefully read through his posts over and over again, coolly, to dissect him and know what he really is. Imagine if one day someone were to reveal his identity and tell his peers that these were his posts, and the kind of person he is? His alumni, colleagues, friends, if he still has, his alma mater, professional associations, clients, etc will be shocked to know him, the true person behind that false facade he is showing to the world. What kind of upbring did he gone through? Not very good indeed.

The monopolistic competition myth continues in Parliament

The competition between Singtel and Starhub has exploded the myth of competition in a monopolistic environment with people shaking their heads and fearing that they will be the ultimate sacrificial lambs. Can there really be competition that will benefit the consumers? This issue was raised in Parliament yesterday. This was what Lui Tuck Yew, the Acting Minister for Information, Communications and the Arts had to say. The Govt could fix the price service provider could charge the consumers. 'But a move like this, even if intended to keep prices low for viewers, may backfire and deprive them of programming altogether. It is like fixing the prices of public flats and HDB will not build affordable and quality flats anymore. In HDB's case, it is a national duty to build flats, so it will still build. But a programme provider like the EPL may not want to sell their products to Singapore, and all the football fans will suffer. See, the problem is not so easy to solve. Can there be other ways out? Can we open up the sky to look for better and cheaper solutions? Satellite disks? Free competition what? Free market is good for consumers and we believe in the principle of free market forces, free trade and free flow of information. Can this avenue be considered?

10/19/2009

The oldies are a treasure to an organisation!

Did anyone say this?When have oldies became a treasure to an organisation and must be duly rewarded? Sounded like the grandpas and grandmas are the treasures in a family. There is now a reawakening and a new call to be good to the oldies. No longer were they seen as retards, slow and useless piece of woods to be quickly discarded when they hit retirement age, at 55 or 60. Now people are seriously saying that the oldies must be paid according to their worth and contributions, not to cut their pay when they reached the magical age of senility. Is there a change of heart or a case of today I proclaim the oldies as bad, tomorrow as good, then I suka suka say they are bad again, good, bad....It was bearly 10 years ago when many oldies, or not even oldies, were given the red ticket to retire unceremoniously. Many were in their early 50s and many are still jobless or driving taxis despite their experience in managerial and executive positions. Can these premature sacking of the oldies be reversed, and these not really oldies but now oldies be invited into the workforce again? Or can they claim for some kind of compensation for the bad mistakes done to them in the past? Who was the wise kid who decided that these not so oldies should go? Who is the wise kid today to say the oldies must be treasured? My god, what kind of mindset change could happen so fast? The think tanks must be thinking too hard and go flipping about with such a major and serious issues. How could they not know that oldies are treasures, that oldies need to work till 80 or 90, but only today to realise this?

Amazing Grace

Hi everyone, my apologies for not being able to post yesterday as I was hosting a party and couldn't slip away. Now the party is over and I am back with my daily sermons for which some may regard it as the sermons of a fool. Oh, incidentally the number of hits and visitors to my blog shot up by 10% during my absence. I am just curious. Were the bloggers missing on my sermons of a fool and kept coming back hoping that I threw in a post? Anyway, may god be compassionate and deliver those who could not bear to read the sermons of a fool from my blog. But if they choose to stay and listen to this fool, they are most welcomed to be intoxicated by my foolishness.

10/17/2009

Blogging is a waste of time!

Blogging, whinning, complaining, writing letters to forums to air your disagreements etc were a complete waste of time. This was the message I got in a discussion with some friends. Why bothered whether it was Low or Chiam or Sitoh or Eric making the announcements on the LUP? It was money spent for the good of the people. There was no issue or the issue was too small to talk about. Later I discovered why it was a waste of time. All these talks would be worth nothing, and nothing changed. Go and form an opposition party and take on the govt if you think strongly of issues or else get on with your life and let the govt do what they think best. If this is the kind of attitude that Singaporeans should adopt, then there will be peace in paradise. And everything will be well taken care of. There will be no need for the ST to spare 3 or 4 pages on the public housing issues today. In an article, 'Insight examines the six most hotly debated issues among house hunters today' by Tan Hui Yee, the following were discussed: 1. Are permanent residents driving up resale flat prices? 2. Are investors pushing up prices of resale flats. 3. Are new HDB flats really subsidised? 4. Are new flats affordable? 5. Is $8000 income ceiling too low? 6. Are leftovers flats really 'undesirable'? Though I would expect more insights from these articles than just what have been discussed publicly, it is good that ST officially dealt with these issues and gave it a wider coverage. And there was a letter from Lim Yuin Chien responding to Sylvia Lim's rebutt. What Lim Yuin Chien said is simply, 'Let's agree to disagree.' What this means is very similar to what I heard last night, that the govt will do it its way and you can disagree. But if you want to do it differently from the govt, make sure you form the govt, ie, form an alternative party and vote the govt out if you can. Otherwise, tough.

10/16/2009

And we want our workers to be CBF

In order to be CBF, our workers must be cheap, work better and faster. Now there is a new call, not to cut the pay of older workers. Can the older workers be faster than the younger workers, better, possible. Then while the rest of the workers are expected to be cheap or cheaper, would the older workers also be cheap and cheaper? 3 old workers doing the work of 7? In the private sector when everything is about competition, when the money paid to the workers must come from somewhere, from the revenue or at the expense of profit, it is easier said than done to keep paying workers the way they are being paid. Unless of course the organisation can print its own money or money is not an issue. By all means, pay the older workers what they deserve and more, pay them pension as well, or gratuities for long service at the same time. Is there a contradiction?

What CBF?

What is CBF? Someone asked. It means cheaper, better and faster workers. Cheap and good, that’s what it means. How can cheap be good? Singaporeans only know that cheap means no good. You want anything good, you must pay for it. Good public housing, good market price. Good medical, high fees. Good govt, pay them well. If we are not willing to pay the price for it, we will get poor quality public housing, poor medical care and lousy quality govt. Can we really have good and cheap workers? But this is only one part of the equation. Can our workers afford to be cheap when housing is not cheap, medical is not cheap, govt is not cheap, cost of living is not cheap? Cheap worker and high cost of living is a ‘bao si’ or sure die combination. When housing, rentals and everything keep going up, how to get by if the pay is not going up? Ah, here is the secret. Cheap and better worker does not mean low wages. Our workers can expect their wages to go up. Productivity will be improved through mechanization or improvement in work processes. Or anyway, 3 workers do 7 workers’ work. It will mean higher productivity growth versus lower wage growth, but still growth, I think. Tiok boh?

10/15/2009

'Ya1 Ban2'

Ha, the 2 words did not make any sense to many. Try to read it in Hokien. The second word should sound like 'barn'. They are used to describe the callous and unreasonable logic and reasons of the rich and powerful whose argument would always end in 'head I win, tail you lose', no matter how illogical their position is. Someone has used these terms to describe the LUP in Hougang and Potong Pasir. From the beginning I thought the award of LUP in the two opposition wards was to bring a message that the govt is neutral, fair and just, and will allocate national resources to all the tax payers equally, regardless of race, language and religion and the MPs they have elected. Such a message should rightly be received positively by the people in general. How is it that the LUPs in the two constituencies have ended like this? All the comments I have heard are like people being incensed, angry, unfair, highhandedness, no respect for the people's choice and many undescribable words that cannot be posted here. It is as good as a good PR exercise turning sour. It is like winning a battle and losing a war. It is better not to have the LUP instead. I think this LUP is going to cost the govt more votes in the next general election rather than to turn the tide against the two opposition candidates. Of course some of you may totally disagree with my observations and claim that the govt has scored big by bringing the LUPs into the constituencies, and the two rejected candidates in the last election, now the govt's appointed advisers in the constituencies, will now stand a better chance to be elected for their great effort and role in the LUPs.

A message that comes too late

Khairy Jamaluddin, the new UMNO Youth boss, has set a new agenda. He is calling on the Malays to stand up, have a new mindset and to lead Malaysia forward with compassion and magnanimity towards all races. He told the Malays to get rid of the seige mentality, that they are slow, backward, and needed to be protected, to 'civilisational confidence'. What he meant was that Malays must be confident of themselves and their ability to compete equally with everyone, with the ethnic minorities at home and the people across the world. 'For too long, Malays and Umno have been caught in a mindset that is negative and overly defensive....' Reflecting on this negative mindset, one wonders how a people who see themselves as backward, slow and lacking in intellect, be able to lead a nation forward? And that was what Malaysia was for the last 30 years under Mahathir. The latter claimed that Malays were stupid or less able than the rest, not sure if it includes himself. And if that is true, how then can Malaysia progress if it is being led by the less able? Would Khairy's new message see a more confident and self assured Malay step forward to face the world squarely, as well as their minorities, and to move forward with the rest of the world?

10/14/2009

Cannot buy drinks for me

You guys, especially Wally, please don't buy drinks or chicken rice for me. The latest I heard is that bloggers who received gifts or whatever in kind or money, must declare or else...hmmm. And if any of you buy me drinks and I say good things about you without declaring that I have been bought by you or I am now beholden to you, then I will be in trouble. Actually not like this lah. The MDA, I heard in the kopitiam only, is pondering to introduce controls on bloggers who received payments or goodies from merchants and then wrote glowing reports about them to promote their products or services. It is like kind of advertisement ya. I wonder those analysts writing about stocks were also in such category and must declare as well. What if I write good reports about cameras and the cameras are really good, the truth, can or not? Can they pay me to tell the truth because I really believe the cameras are good?

19,000 applicants for 2,100 flats

The latest exercise for the sale of balance flats by HDB saw a 9 times over subscription for the 2100 flats available. Assuming that each batch of flats put up for sale is 2000, to clear this 19000 applicants will take another 8 sales exercises. And if the sales are done twice annually, it means it will take another 4 years to satisfy all the applicants. Of course this will not be the case. But one thing for sure, if these 19,000 applicants are real, then many will need to apply and apply and apply again before they can get to their dream flats. How many will get their flats on first time application?

Another crisis in the making

A crisis in the making or making waves? 70 banking staff from RBS Coutts defected or were poached by a Swiss private bank, BSI, because of curbs in bonus payments. The 70 can become 700 and then 7000 and the whole financial industry will be in turmoil. With all the banks making so much money, they can afford to pay their talented staff more, and those who are willing can go to the market and woo the best to their folds. Are we going to see a spate of defections and mass resignations from the more stingy banks? Or course I am exaggerating, an alarmist. But these are the exact reasons given in America and Europe to continue to pay their overpaid bankers more. And our local institutions may also sing the same song to pad up their pockets. And we will see the game of musical chairs being played in full swing. Will there be panic? Such high turnovers are bad and destabilising. Something must be done to make sure that these employees are not allowed to change their jobs at their fancies. How about introducing some regulations to prevent job hopping? Or how about the industry players work out some arrangements not to poach staff from each other by trying to outbid each other? I know that such practices are prevalent in some industries. The best part is that when there are only a handful of players and some smart alecs still think it is a clever move to outbid each other or to undercut each other for a better share of the business. What is important? A free market, free movement of staff with the accompanied little tsunamis or a stable and controlled market with seemingly orderliness? In a small little pool, how long can the game of musical chairs be played before the music stops? The high payout must come from somewhere. Any CEOs going to press the panic button?

10/13/2009

Low Thia Khiang wrong in LUP

According to Lim Yuin Chien, Press Secretary to the Minister for National Development, Low Thia Khiang was wrong to think that just because he was the MP he should lead the LUP programme. An adviser who is a grassroot leader appointed by the Govt is the rightful person to do so. The details of the all the reasons are in his letter in the ST forum today. Anyone has a different view, politically, constitutionally, administratively or whatever? Would the highly analytical and professional media experts be interested to do an in depth study on this issue by consulting more experts, including legal experts and explain the position from an disinterested angle? Somehow I got this feeling that all the eminent experts will not have any opinion on this issue. I can expect silence. The LUP is a govt programme and how and when a LUP should be launched to benefit the residents should be in accordance to some objective criteria. Whether the blocks of flats are in govt run constituencies or opposition constituencies should not be a factor in the formula for such a programme. The govt is for all citizens. The govt's fund belongs to the citizens, not someone's private savings. Should the criteria for LUP be transparent and made known publicly so that the people know when their flats are due for LUP? Should the priority of an LUP be influenced by lobbying, talking to ministers by MPs or grassroot leaders, or any other subjective factors? I think there must be a standard criteria and SOP in the ministry for such a programme and no amount of lobbying or differential access should be allowed for any precinct to jump queue or be left out of the programme. I may be too idealistic and naive to make such an observation.

10/12/2009

Why blame the PRs?

12 October 2009 China woman took up Singapore PR for 'easier travel' I read with outrage a ST Forum letter written by a China national praising Zhang Yuan Yuan, the Singapore PR who declared her loyalty to China on CCTV. It is already ridiculous that a China woman with just a diploma can apply and get PR status in just two months. Accusing Singaporeans of 'naivety' and 'insecurity' is plain outrageous! The fact that Ms Zhang does not hide her true intention of getting PR for the purpose of easier travel is not an indication of her 'pragmatism' or 'motivation'. It is a perfect example of a greedy foreigner taking advantage of the PAP's overly liberal immigration policies for personal benefit. Period.... The above are the first few paragraphs of an article posted in Singapore Dino blog. Apparently there have been many criticisms of Zhang Yuan Yuan for marching in the China National Day Parade. I personally feel that the anger directed at Zhang Yuan Yuan is misplaced and rather unfair to her. She is NOT a Singapore citizen. Period. However foolish we choose to include PRs as if they are part of our citizens or residents, it is our own doing. A PR is just a citizen of another country being granted the right to stay here permanently but never, and not our citizen. The PR has all the rights to be loyal to his/her our country of which he/she is a citizen. The fault lies with us. If there is anyone to be blamed, blame it on ourselves. If we want to grant PRs so happily, citizenship so easily, why blame those who go by the rules and accept our PRs or citizenship? If we want people to take advantage of us, why blame on others for taking advantage of us? As if we do not know what is the intent of many of these PRs? If we want to be hardup and go on our knees to beg people to come here knowing that they are only here when the going is good, why be angry with them and not with our own stupidity?

Eric Low sure win Hougang in next GE

Below is an article posted in SingaporeKopitiam by Temaseksg. With all the good works he is doing in Hougang, and the Lift Upgrading Programme which Low Thia Khiang failed to bring to his constituency, Eric must now be the hot favourite to win Hougang. PAP’s Eric Low claimed credit for bringing LUP to Hougang .... Speaking to the state media yesterday, Eric “Chiku” Low who claimed during the 2006 elections that the Hougang “chiku” was ripe for picking before losing to Workers’ Party strongman Low Thia Kiang, he attributed Hougang being selected for the LUP to his relentless and unyielding efforts: “Though I was not elected, I have been trying hard to lobby the authorities including National Development Minister Mah Bow Tan to upgrade the lifts in Hougang. Now that the lifts will finally be ugraded, I am extremely satisfied about it.” Mr Eric Low also said he is willing to stand in Hougang as a PAP candidate in the next election if the party decides to keep him. He revealed that he will be setting up a PAP kindergarten in Hougang next year which will charge 20 to 30 per cent less than private operators....

What is public interest?

We had been hit by a continuous barrage of articles that were deemed news worthy during the Aware saga and the recent Miss Singapore World scandal. The amount of information and effort spent on these two issues, the number of space allocated to report on them, must have given the public the impression that these were two very serious issues that were affecting the lives of Singaporeans, or at least Singaporeans were nosey and lapped them up with glee. We had a few reports of the LUP in opposition wards and the prominent role played by grassroot leaders over the role of elected MPs. There must be many interesting angles to look at this development, from the constitutional, political and party politics angles. I am hoping that this will be news worthy enough for the issue to be discussed at least for a month with the main media giving it an in depth coverage, front page and centre spread. Looks like this issue is of not much public interests and has died a natural death after a couple of reports and a letter from Low Thia Khiang. Not news worthy. Does not affect the lives of Singaporeans or our political system and culture.

10/11/2009

CPF annuity take up rate encouraging

The scheme was announced in February last year followed by promotions and free gifts of $4000 for those who signed up early. 200,000 invitations were sent out to those eligible and 11,787 have signed up. This is an encouraging figure. What, less than 6% signed up for such a good deal? Another 500,000 invitation letters will be out in the next round to encourage more people to sign up. These belong to the group that has escaped the compulsion net. Singaporeans are really hard to please. With such a well thought out scheme, all devised for their own good, and with early bonus of $4000! Why aren't Singaporeans rushing or queuing up for such a great scheme? Singaporeans are known for their kiasu mentality and ability to smell out a good deal. And when there is one, you can bet that they will queue up overnight for it. When there is money to be made, the Singaporeans will be there. The scheme was announced in February last year followed by promotions and free gifts of $4000 for those who signed up early. 200,000 invitations were sent out to those eligible and 11,787 have signed up. This is an encouraging figure. What, less than 6% signed up for such a good deal? Another 500,000 invitation letters will be out in the next round to encourage more people to sign up. These belong to the group that has escaped the compulsion net. Singaporeans are really hard to please. With such a well thought out scheme, all devised for their own good, and with early bonus of $4000! Why aren't Singaporeans rushing or queuing up for such a great scheme? Singaporeans are known for their kiasu mentality and ability to smell out a good deal. And when there is one, you can bet that they will queue up overnight for it. When there is money to be made, the Singaporeans will be there.

Myth 213 - Competition is fictional in monopolistic environment

While my dreary eyes are still half open on a Sunday morning, I have woken up to a new truth. Competition in a market with only two monopolistic players can be good and true to the spirit of bringing better quality of services and goods and lowering cost. This is exactly what is happening in the tussle between SingTel and Starhub. Despite the fact that SingTel is paying $400m or double of what Starhub was paying for the rights to screen EPL, it is charging its customers less. How could this be possible beats me. There must have many things up their sleeves, eg efficiency, more advertisers, more cost cutting measures, or maybe they are doing national service. Whatever, Singaporeans and football lovers have woken up to a pleasant surprise this morning. At least the $23 package to watch EPL will be around for one year. And all the other services provided by SingTel are competitively priced against Starhub, and cheaper. I will strongly recommend that we should have two organisations building public flats for Singaporeans. This will definitely bring the price of flats down. Long live free competition, in the uniquely Singapore way. All the other industries and service providers should follow the example of SingTel to provide better quality services/goods at lower fees. SingTel's CEO Allen Lew deserves an equivalent of the Nobel Prize in Economics if he can pull this through over three years without significantly increasing the subscription fees.

10/10/2009

Low Thia Khiang is furious

Finally he spoke out after months of silence. He was literally left out in the cold in the current Lift Upgrading Programme. He was expected to put in his thumb print while Eric Low front up in announcing the LUP for Hougang. The grassroot adviser, not the elected MP, took on the leadership role to run the constituency. Oops, let me correct this. The grassroot adviser took on the role to announce the Lift Upgrading Programme. What other important roles he was involved, like deciding which precinct or flats that are deserving, how much etc, I am not sure. The MP, the representative elected by the people to look after their affairs and the estate has been sidelined. Here we have an MP, not part of the ruling govt, but a representative in Parliament, and an adviser, not part of the govt, but an appointee of a ruling party, both contesting to serve the residents. Who should do the job? Who has been chosen by the people to do the job? The answer seems simple enough. But is that so? HDB has given all its right and good reasons why the grassroot leader should do the job. Period. Whose money is involved in the LUP, people's money, govt money, or party money? Now, what has Chiam See Tong got to say on this? He is also affected, I think. Would he write another letter to the ST forum like Low Thia Khiang?

10/09/2009

A curious letter in My Paper

Teoh Kueh Liang wrote to My Paper saying 'Govt should take the lead in hiring older workers'. Now where has Teo Kueh Liang been? The govt has been taking the lead in this area for many years. Just look at the cabinet? No, not the one in the kitchen. Or look at the Istana. Or look at the board of directors of all the govt linked companies and stats boards. Then do a count on the number of oldies in them, starting from the Chairman down. The govt has been the leading light in hiring oldies all these years. It is all there for the people to see. What would be nice is to have some top jobs like Chairman and Presidents to go on a rotation, a one year term for each incumbent. Then many Singaporeans could benefit from the experience to be in such positions and would appreciate the problems the country is facing better.

An amusingly frightening article

Last week I read an article by William Pesek in the ST explaining how China is at the brink of collapse or implosion. According to him, China is facing a mountain of problems that will pull it down. As a history student, I knew that China had collapsed 200 years ago, a broken country stricken with poverty, lack of industry, penniless, infested by warlords and foreign pests. Why is China facing imminent collapse today when it is the second most powerful country in the world, rid itself of all the foreign pests, warlordism, poverty and a reserve of US$2 trillion? China has muslim separatist problem that it could not handle, widespread corruption, an economy that is too export oriented and if America refuses to buy Chinese products, the factories will close shop. And there are in fighting among the Chinese leaders when Jiang ZeMin stood side by side with Hu JinTao at Tian An Men to view the parade. But the most serious problem China is facing is the reserve of US$2 trillion which it does not know what to do with. I thought I was reading an essay from a secondary school kid that is still in dreamland and highly intoxicated by the western media point of view. Is the Uigher separatist movement a problem to China? With a continent as huge as Europe and a 1.4b population, what is Uigher? China could simply designate a small corner of Xinjiang and called it the reservation to protect the Uighers and send all of them there, like the Red Indians in the US. Make sure they can get in but cannot get out. Any Uigher found outside the reservation should be arrested and send back to the reservation. Close the gates to the reservation, cordon it off with one of its armies and forget about them. See, problem solved. No American wants to buy cheap Chinese goods? The Chinese goods are now like drugs to the Americans. They need them desperately as no one could sell them as cheap and as good. The average American is broke and needs cheap stuff from China. The presence of Jiang together with Hu was to show how close the Chinese leadership is. From Deng to Jiang and to Hu, they are not building dynasties, they are not installing their princelings to perpetuate their rules. What rubbish about infighting? The western media can only hope that the Chinese leaders will fight among themselves by sowing seeds of discontent, conceiving imagination and presenting it as real. And about the US$2 trillion problem! I think every govt would wish to have this problem. They will crawl to Beijing to beg for the US$2 trillion problem to be theirs. It was a rubbish article that is most amusing and naive. But many readers will believe that China is in serious trouble after reading it.

10/08/2009

Unappreciative and ungrateful Singaporeans

I read in some blogs and forums that Singaporeans are getting more angry with HDB inspite of the revelation that all the complaints about first time buyers not getting their flats were ridiculous. Mah Bow Tan has also quoted statistics, statistics, to prove the HDB case that the complaints were unjustified. And some were so angry to even call for voters to vote out the govt. So serious meh? Can't they see that Mah Bow Tan and the HDB were working their guts out to make sure that HDB flats are affordable and available to fit everyone's budget? There is an affordable flat somewhere for everyone. Just don't be choosy. Now which side of the story deserves more merits?

Ming Yi found guilty of fraud

Goh Kah Eng or Ming Yi and Raymond Yeung were both found guilty of fraud, falsifying documents and misappropriating funds. Ming Yi was a high profile monk, well known for his self sacrificing acts to raise funds for his charity works, to help the needies and poor. But some how inside Ming Yi there is a Goh Kah Eng that did not go away. And being the human part, Goh Kah Eng succumbed to the temptation of greed. Very sad that even a high profile monk could not overcome such temptation. Now I am growing to appreciate our system more for its incorruptibility. And the incorruptibles are deserving to be immortals and demigods, undefeated by temptation and greed.

Housing shortage problem solved!

50 to 60% of BTO applicants did not take up the flats offered to them. And the excuses they gave for not taking up the flats were more spurious than genuine. The conclusion, first timers applying for flats, most or almost all, will be successful. So there is no shortage of public housing problem. And I would suggest that there is no need to put up more BTOs in a hurry. What for, when there is no real urgency? Putting up more will only lead to a glut and over supply. Come to think of it, under the BTO scheme, if anyone applies for it and failed to get a flat, then something must be seriously wrong with the system. It is built on demand. And application is submitted 3 or more years in advance. How can any applicant failed to get his flat? The failings are first timers who needed a flat fast, not having to wait 3 or more years. This is the crux of the problem. In 3 years, many things can happen. The marriage may even be called off, or the couple may strike lottery or their income gone above the $8k ceiling, or they may inherit the flats from their parents or someone else. Anyway, the public outcry for shortages in public housing is a hoax, imagination, biased and unfair demand for attention.

10/07/2009

Speaking through two holes

HDB has revealed that the take up rate at Punggol Breeze and Fernvale Residence were only 69% and 55% respectively. And according to HDB, the reasons were long waiting time, 3 to 4 years to build, choice units taken up, and maybe distance from MRT stations. But according to HDB, this is a sign 'that first time buyers still have plenty of choices despite the high demand for flats in some areas'. Wow, really ah! And it is good news that HDB will proceed to build these flats as they are confident of sustained demand for public housing. I can give a personal guarantee that all the flats will be taken up when completed. Just turn off the supply. It's elementary Watson! What other reasons for not taking up the BTO flats? I am still scratching my head. Damn difficult to find out the truth.

Putting a tighter leash on Ris Low

It is for her own good. Judge May Meseenas has imposed stricter supervision criteria after Ris Low's probation came up for review. She would now not be allowed to shop alone. And she must continue with her psychiatric treatment. I would presume that the reason for imposing stricter conditions must be due to the supervisee trangressing the limits during the probation period. Now what did Ris Low did to bring about tighter supervision on her freedom? Did she commit or attempt to commit theft again? Or is it because she participated in the Miss World contest? It looks like Ris Low is a danger to herself and to society. It would be better to put her on a leash or in a lockup.

10/06/2009

Myth 212 - Free competition is good

Over the years we have been creating a few fictional warlords to compete with each other for monopolistic businesses and we claimed that they are good. Competition means better quality, efficiency and competitive pricing. Then some quietly merged again, probably realising that it was all a hoax. Now we have two out of three media/entertainment providers competing with each other to see who can pay more to acquire rights to entertain the consumers. And all must be doing it for the good of their consumers. The consumers can expect better quality programmes at lower or more competitive cost. Now, would the programmes be better now that Singtel had almost double the bid price to acquire the rights for EPL etc? Would the consumers be paying more or lesser after this great and free competition? Someone was shouting 'Singapore Premium ah!' behind my back. It is so easy to make money from Singapore. No problem actually when we have so much money to spend, OPM.

No lawsuit is the way to go

Two letters by Dr Chong Yeh Woei, President, 50th Council, Singapore Medical Association and Associate Professor Goh Lee Gan, President and Council, College of Family Physicians Singapore, were in the ST forum to defend the medical profession after Salma Khalik's article 'Tame doctor's greed and protect patients'. The medical profession must feel aggrieved by the statement that doctors are greedy and needed to be tamed. In some profession or businesses, such an allegation may bring about a series of charges and impending lawsuits to sue the party to bankruptcy. It is most pleasing to read the counter arguments by the two doctors to defend their profession and not to go for litigation. This is a sign that our society has progressed, matured and people are wise and reasonable enough to engage in fair discussion. Oh, I heard of the several suggestions in the recent Miss World contest that some of the contestants may be sued. I hope not and rationality and good sense will settle whatever issues that are in the heat. We don't need more litigations to settle disputes. Leave litigations to those with a lot of money to spend or to bully those who cannot pay the huge legal fees.

10/05/2009

Responsible role of media

Dawn Tay, 'the media's role is to ensure accountability. Between pageant organisers and beauty queens, and the country they represent. Between newspapers and readers, to whom the press has responsibility to uncover the truth for.' The above is quoted from an article by Dawn Tay in My Paper today. She went on to justify 'the steady stream of reports by various media, which shed more light on the saga and eventually forced pageant organiser ERM World Marketing to break its silence last Monday.' With such a high standard set by our media, we must feel confident that any dubious activity or less than righteous happenings will be fully reported with the same zeal and conviction as the indiscretion of a 19 year old kid who cheated a few thousand dollars. We should soon be able to read more reports about cases involving millions. Actually no. Singaporeans don't cheat, except kids. Singaporeans should thank the media for their strong commitment to uncover and report the truth.

Salary cap for head honchos of State Owned Enterprises

China has initiated a cap on the salaries of the CEOs of their SOEs. At the moment the highest paid CEO from China National Offshore Oil Corporation, CNOOC, earns $2.5m. The next highest earns half of this amount. And the third is only paid less than $300k a year. Other perks not included. Given the scale of their operations and revenues, the salaries earned were peanuts. The head honchos should submit an appeal to compare their salaries with those CEOs of similar industries to get a fair salary. They are obviously very underpaid for the responsibilities they are shouldering. Or at least they can compare their salaries with our CEOs to give a picture of how lowly paid they are. They can quote Singapore as a role model of transparency and good corporate govt and we are paying should be fair and good. And they have been copying Singapore in many things and copying the way we pay our CEOs is only natural. And after the comparison, the CEO of CNOOC could easily be in the region of $10m or more. How could they justify to curb their CEO's salaries when they are so indecently underpaid? If they do that, they must be prepared for more corruption in high places.

10/04/2009

A storm in paradise

Typhoon Ketsana is sweeping through the Philippines and threatening the lives of millions of Filipinos. 7.5 richter scale earthquake hit Padang and Bengkulu in Indonesia, burying villages and villagers and flattening towns and destroying lives and properties. No amount of international aids can minimise the pain and suffering of these affected people. In paradise, our media were flooded with news of a storm in the form of boomz and rats. Some had a good laugh but some were dead serious. On reflection, we are very blessed as a little country. We are spared from the ferocity and rages of nature. We are blessed with an able govt that is working so hard to make this a better paradise everyday. Are we lucky? We have our little irritations and irritants in our midst but more like the itches of mosquito bites. Nothing earth shattering or crisis like except for the little recklessness in the financial flirtation with making easy money and with no regards to responsibilities. From the big picture we are indeed very fortunate and a paradise. We have good govt and public administrators working their guts out for the people. But there are still some little people with small hearts that are making decisions that will affect adversely the lives of our people. The earlier we get rid of them the better. We cannot have small people with small hearts to make public policies and decisions for the people. In govt and public services, we need people with a different mindset, people with ideals and with a big heart to serve the people, to want the best for the people. A good example is the expectation in public housing and the way it is heading. There are little people who think that the losers in life should be happy if they have a roof over their heads, even a dog kennel will do. And it is ok to pay a life time, spending a big chunk of their income just to have a roof and 4 walls around them. Whatever, a flat is just that. You do not need to pay a lifetime for it. The govt needs to relook at the housing policy, how small it shall go and no further, and how much it shall cost and no more. And it is bad to have people waiting for 3 years just to get a roof over their head. The HDB was very successful in their early days to provide a roof to anyone who needs it. It only took a few months from application to moving in. This is a good and excellent policy for the people. But some jokers think that this was bad. People must made to wait. Waiting for 3 years is good, or normal. I want to use the four letter word here. A little oversupply of public housing is good. A 80 sq m 3 rm flat or a 90 sq m 4 rm flat must be the bottom that we should go in building homes for our average citizens. Going smaller is bad. The small 1 or 2 rm rental flats must be temporary shelters for those who have lost their ways or their luck ran out on them. Those must not be considered as the standard for a decent living for our people. We are using state land and public money and we must use them wisely and with a little generosity for the good of the people. To have good public policies favouring the people, we need good govt. And good govt must not be contaminated with little people with small hearts.

10/03/2009

Stupidity or good business sense?

The football fans are fuming at the recent successful bid by Singtel to host the EPL. They have to switch programme provider and inconvenience and cost immediately become an issue. It was reported that Singtel paid a bomb of $400m for the rights, more than Starhub's $212m. The fear of having to pay more by the consumers is justified. Singtel is not going to do charity and will have to recover the cost from somewhere, sometime. But the fear may be unfounded. Singtel said that the aggressive bid was done with the 'intent to hold retail prices stable'. So the consumers need not fear. They should cut out this phrase from the newspaper and paste it over their TV screen and when the time comes to pay more, they can bring this up to Singtel. But of course by then the circumstances will have changed and all the additional costs could be justified by many other reasons. Having said that, consumers and the public should praise Singtel for its successful bid and for its well meaning intent to keep cost stable. OK, I confess that I am not sure what is the definition of the word 'stable'. Just like the word affordable, it can mean anything to anyone. All things will come to a happy ending, stupidity or clever business strategy, someone will have to pay for it.

10/02/2009

As China celebrates its 60th National Day

The little slant eye pigtailed Chinaman, destined to work as a cook, a housekeeper or a laundryman, and by American laws(at one time) forbidden to do anything more worthy, has stood up. The 1.4b of little Chinamen have rebuilt their devastated country into an economic and military power second only to the USA. The years of suppression and humiliation failed to imprison these little Chinamen to a fate of doom and deprived of their basic human rights. And they did it all on their own, with very insignificant foreign talents to count on. They deserve to celebrate every bit of their new found wealth and confidence and status as equals among nations. No longer would they be trampled by little countries. No longer would another country try to colonise or cut their country up to be shared by the foreigners. It is good to see an Asian country standing up on their own feet. Next to do so will be India, another sleeping giant that is awakening.

One week of shame

And the bashing of Ris Low continues without anyone saying enough is enough to this shameful episode. No, the shame is not on Ris Low but the people who think that it is righteous and the right thing to do to castigate her in the media, publicly. Would any immortal or demigod want to put a stop to it? Where is the moral authority or duty to prevent this shameful episode to go on and on?

HDB releasing 7000 units of flats in next 3 months

What a big deal. Is it enough? The pent up demand and frustration of our young men and women waiting to buy a public housing flat is threatening to blow up. Many have been waiting for yers only to see their dream flat disappearing further and further into the distance. And they were told, patronisingly, that they should scale down their expectations and go for something they could afford. This means smaller and smaller flats, and further and further away from the city. What have caused these problems? High demand, including new citizens and PRs and a flawed policy of building flats when there is enough demand as if HDB is baking cakes, ready in 30 minutes. Hey dummy, 3 years to wait and many things can happen. One thing for sure, some would have found that during their search for a new flat, their income has gone pass the $8000 ceiling and they would be kicked out of the queue. Not eligible anymore. And if they have only worked for a few years, there will not be enough savings to plonk as deposit for even a small and cheap private condo. How is HDB going to appease this restless and angry group of young people whose incomes just exceeded the $8000 limit but without a fat savings account to pay for private flats? Would there be any changes in HDB’s ruling to accommodate this new sandwiched class of first time home buyers? Force them to buy from the resale market, and not eligible for subsidies, at market prices? Many young couples are getting a starting salary of more than $3k on graduation and will be hitting a combined income of $8k in two or three years. How realistic is the $8000 ceiling when applied to these young people? Or is HDB so rigid, a huge mammoth that cannot change or would not change simply because it is the authority, another weeny warlord, and when it says it is fair, it is fair, like market pricing? There is nothing wrong with comparing the prices of 20 years ago as long as the basis is reasonable and logical. Nobody is saying that when it was $7k for a 3rm flat, we should be selling it at that kind of prices. We should be comparing affordability by comparing income over price. And it is very wrong to use recent data to justify that the prices are affordable when the basis is wrong. Why is a 30% expenditure of income be reasonable and affordable over 30 years? Why not 30% over 10 years or 10% over 30 years? Who should be the best judge of what is affordable, the buyer or the seller?

10/01/2009

How to measure a Heart

It may be time to measure the heart of Singaporeans, from the poor hardlanders to the immortals. We have read of jobless man being taken to court for arrears in S&C charges, the malicious attack of a 19 year old girl in the name of having fun, or exposing her conviction in court as a public interest story. So, what shall we measure, or how to measure a heart? The first step is to check if there is a heart(oo sim). If the answer is no(bor sim), don’t bother. If yes, answer the next 4 questions. 1. Is the heart (a) big or (b) small 2. Is the heart (a) red or (b) black 3. Is the heart (a) broad or (b) narrow 4. Is it a (a) lean or (b) greasy heart If the answers are all (a), good heart, if all (b), bad heart. But the answers can be a mixture of (a) and (b). The normal interpretation is that small heart is bad, black heart is bad, narrow hard is bad, greasy heart due to too much good oily food also bad, and vice versa. A point of clarification. The conclusion may not be medically correct. As a distraction, the Chinese have various descriptions of the heart. 'Hor Sim' or good heart, 'Pine Sim' or bad heart, 'Hong Sim' or windy heart, 'Ya Sim' or wild/ambitious heart, 'Tam Sim' or greedy heart. And there are many more to list.

ERM should send Ris Low to Miss World

The attacks continue. She cheated, she was convicted, she was dishonest. No second chance, no forgiveness even to a kid who committed an offence at 17. ERM should take this opportunity to send a message, that a wrong act should not destroy a person's life. A silly act or deliquency does not deserve a life sentence. ERM should put Ris Low there on the high pedestal and say, 'We are forgiving her and giving her a second chance!'. What is so wrong about that? Why so adamant to taint a child for life? Are we so unforgiving as a people? Jesus said, 'Let the one who has not sinned be the first to cast the stone.' And don't forget that she is suffering from a bipolar sickness. Now for the real objection. Murali Sharma wrote, 'Our representative must be fluent in an official Singapore language - in this case English.' What utter rubbish! Why just English? On one hand she said must be fluent in an official language and on the other hand it must be English. Can our representative speak in Tamil, Malay or Mandarin? English is never a condition for such a contest. Ris Low speaks good English according to the ERM. She stumbles at times because of her sickness. This weakness could be turned into an advantage, that we have a big heart to accept someone that is not so perfect. And I am wondering how many of the contestants at the Miss World contest are perfect or with no criminal records or ugly backgrounds. Let's send Ris Low to represent Singapore, to tell the world that we are all mere mortals, with our flaws and weaknesses. Or maybe we should send an immortal or a demigod to represent us.