As we embrace inflation and keep inflating the prices of everything as a sign of progress, the world goes on spinning. $147k hospital bill is real, if there is no subsidy. How did we end up with a C Class ward in a govt hospital charging this kind of bill? Sorry, I forgot, it is privatized govt hospital, privatized for quality and efficiency. Has this got anything to do with the multi million dollar property prices? I bet it does. The doctors too need to earn the money to buy that $6m property, plus all the other trappings of wealth and a good life. They need to be paid handsomely if they are going to be able to afford those properties and all the good things in life. So will the other people in the medical industry. So will all the professionals and talents in the other industries. It will keep on spinning with everyone demanding more to pay for the properties they have an eye on. The workers have their fears. Paying a $100k hospital bill is beyond many average Singaporeans. But have no fear, the Medisave will be tweaked to cover things like congenital illnesses. I don’t know just how much would the Medisave cost and be able to do with a $150k bill? I also don’t know how big is the bill in the B Class ward if mean testing says one cannot be warded in C Class ward. Thank god, they have tweaked the mean testing and allow those who pass the testing to stay in C Class ward but with lower subsidies. Does it mean that ultimately the bill will be nearer to B Class wards that they try to avoid? World class hospitals need world class patients with world class bank accounts to pay world class bills.
The new directive on what can or cannot be done during Thaipusam is going to become very contentious and a very difficult position to defend. The policy is going to cut very deeply into the credibility of the decision makers. In my view, the thinking behind it is half baked as the repercussion across all community festivals will bear through its naivety. The closest policy in the same vein is the banning of a bicycle event in East Coast Park, very similar thinking, and very short sighted. The controversy will only grow with everyday and with every festival in our multi cultural society. The danger of big festivals is obvious. The death toll of a cultural event in Cambodia was too vivid and recent to be forgotten. So were the cases in India and Saudi Arabia. In huge crowds driven to a frenzy, any small mistake will be multipled and can become a disaster or a tragedy. Even our National Day Celebration or New Year Eve Count Down could turn ugly. The trick is how to manage and control the crowds in big events. The bigger trick is how to introduce directives and manage an event sensibly and fairly without being seen to be discriminatory. Ah, the art of govt and the skills of the policy makers are very demanding in such circumstances. Any half baked idea will quickly back fired.
The Hard Truths was a book about the ideas of a man, his thinking, his perspectives and how he related them to nation building. The reactions to his thoughts are expected from the respective corners of the communities. The rational and objective will analyse and rationalise what he had said. The irrational will react irrationally. The racists or extremists will behave as they are. A whole spectrum of reactions will go through its motion in respond to the sensitive comments in the book. Why would a man who could live life peacefully, kissing children, touring schools to tell grand father tales, did a thing like this, penning his personal thoughts and beliefs that obviously will incur the wrath of the wrong people? The Chinese have a saying, ‘Eat too full, nothing better to do.’ Is this the case of a man who is out to draw flaks on himself? Some have now accused him of chauvinism, racism, anti Malay, anti Islam and many things along this line of thinking. The polite ones will say they disagreed with some of the views expressed in the book. Did he set out to tell the world that he is a chauvinist, a racist, anti Malay or anti Islam? It is important to understand the agenda of the book and the hard truths. What does he want to achieve by saying the unpleasant things at this time of his life when he could say all the good things, all the politically correct things, niceties and to be praised and remembered as someone with kind words? If the readers of the Hard Truths miss out what he set out to do, or intentionally refuse to understand the bigger things, it is a cause lost. The book is all about the pitfalls that could untangle all the efforts in building a cohesive multi racial society, national integration and nation building. Unfortunately not everyone is sensible and composed when issues of race and religion are invoked. The primordial instinct of tribes and religious purity will surface to rule the day and hijack the agenda, even turn it into a contentious issue that requires apology or else. What is there so disagreeable or difficult to agree in the Hard Truths? Is accepting the Hard Truths so difficult and politically wrong? Compare this to the closing down of Nantah in the early days. That was a hot potato, highly emotional and touching the raw nerves of the chauvinists. Till today, the chauvinists have not forgiven the decision maker. Having Nantah teaching mainly in Chinese was divisive in a way. The graduates will present a serious social and political problem if their limited command of the English Language makes them less relevant to the national effort of integration through the primacy of the English Language in government and commerce. The chauvinists will argue that it is as relevant then as it is today. A difference in opinion, just like some will claim that whether under Lim Chin Siong or anyone, Singapore will still be what it is today. The point I am making is that the agenda or motivation of the incident was about national integration, not anti Chinese or trying to kill Chinese education though the direct effect was exactly that. The man and his motivation was and is all about how to make the country relevant and survive despite the opposing forces pulling in different directions. More flexibility, give and take, adaptation and accommodation are needed from every corner to the bigger good of the nation. Sticking rigidly to ones own little corner will undermine the effort of national integration. The Hard Truths was nothing about anti this group or that group. The intent is there for those who want to understand and appreciate it. For those who chose to deride the book and feel offended, it is all a matter of interpretation and looking at things from their own little corner and interests.
Tan Guan Seng, calling himself an average Singaporean worker, was served with a C Class ward hospital bill from NUH. After deducting from company’s insurance, from Medisave, Medishield, he is still left with $50k outstanding. He probably forgot about the 3rd M which could reduce his bill to $8 like someone with a major heart operation. The facts of this case include the following: it is a work accident so no subsidy. The family ‘request to upgrade him to a private ward, the hospital’s staff informed her that the estimated bill would exceed the quantum to be borne by …Work Injury Compensation Act …at a cap of 25k.’ Also hospital has discretion to downgrade when it found patients may have difficulties to pay. Did the request for upgrading got through? Did the hospital downgrade the patient subsequently? These were left hanging without confirmation. As they were mentioned in the hospital’s reply, they must have happened. Otherwise they were unnecessary information to talk about. There were several issues that are interesting. Firstly, Singaporeans must be thankful that their lives are now so worthy that hospitals could easily charge them a few hundred thousand for admission. People with cheap lives will not pay such ransom and choose to die. The Work Injury Compensation Act needs a revision as the quantum provided to protect work injury accidents is definitely inadequate. The minimum sum insured should be at least $150k and increasing every year to meet the rising cost of hospitalisation. Insurance companies are smiling now. The vicious cycle is starting, much like motor insurance. It seems a norm that patients admitted to hospitals would like to upgrade, like upgrading from HDB flats to private properties. No one seems to ask how much would it cost. Or they may believe that with 3Ms, they only need to pay $8 or around that sum. The question is why the hospital never do a mean testing to make sure that patients who cannot pay cannot be upgraded? It seems that mean testing is to ensure that patients should stay in more expensive wards than the other way round. Oh, in this case the hospital did a downgrading subsequently I think. Otherwise the bill could be $300K. There are many issues and things to do to ensure that workers can afford to pay for their expensive lives. For one, the govt should not encourage the mindset of upgrading in hospitalisation. Perhaps only two classes of wards should be provided to keep the ignoramus out of harm and suddenly claimed ignorance and unable to pay when a handsome hospital bill is presented to them on a gold platter. (Come to think of it, this should be the manner to serve a bill of that size, by a specially appointed emissary). Just have a ward called Very Expensive Ward for the rich and those who can afford to pay. And Very Good Ward for the rest of the people at subsidised rate that is ‘affordable’ to the masses. Calling it Very Good will make the masses feel good. And calling the expensive ward expensive will remind them that it will not cost only $8 but $800k. Simple people need simple solution. The masses have a thinking brain and thinking pattern that are very different from the super talents, and very strange. The smart ones will always want to be admitted to cheaper wards which ended with a reprisal in the form of Mean Testing. The silly ones just don’t care and would want the best wards even if they cannot afford to pay. Paying is the last thing in their minds. Maybe the govt should seriously consider applying the mean testing to make sure people who cannot pay be admitted into cheaper wards and not the other way round. Of course there will be outcry by the people who would accuse the govt for not seeing them up and ill treating them and putting them in low class wards. That is why I suggested only two types of wards. Very Expensive Wards and Very Good Wards to cater to the rich and the masses.
William Choong, senior writer of ST, asked a Chinese professor and a Chinese Ambassador about transparency and Chinese military build up. And he deservedly got told off by the Chinese for asking those questions. Why wouldn’t he ask the Americans for more transparency in their weapons development and what their military arms were for? I believe the Americans will tell him it is just a hobby, or toys for the big boys to play with. Would that be good enough answers for him? There is this group of analysts and reporters who have run out of wits and did not know what to write, and so whenever they see a Chinese official, they will ask the same stupid questions. What are China’s military build up for? The Chinese should simply say, to screw your arse. China had been a victim of foreign aggression and nearly lost its independence as a country because it was militarily weak. Does that answer all the silly questions? A smart analyst will know what military weapons and soldiers are for. There is no need to announce their stupidity in the public. The stealth fighter is a problem? What problem? What is the range of the aircraft and its armaments? Can it fly to the US? Yes, it has attack capability. But with its limited range, it is good only to defend the Chinese coast against enemy attacks. And when the enemies are at the door step, what should the Chinese do? Do I have to explain what an aircraft carrier is for? I hope no military analyst or expert is going to ask that silly question. Just look at its range, and the weapons it is carrying. Yes, an aircraft carrier is to party. It is an offensive weapon! William Choong wrote in his article today explaining his line of questioning. He said, ‘…my question had been open ended and harmless…I had posed a question that was deemed a tad too critical.’ I must praise him for his child like innocence. The Chinese reply to his childish questions was most appropriate though he thought that the Chinese were over reacting. And no, the Chinese were not trying to be smart. They were smart. And definitely they were not incompetent and did not want to answer silly and naïve questions. The Chinese should adopt a practice to say, ‘We don’t answer stupid questions. Next please.’
In LKY’s book on Hard Truths, he touched on the dangers of racial riots and the Muslim community’s ability to integrate with other communities. These have touched on raw nerves and attracting several replies from across the causeway and from our Malay Community. In cyberspace, Solo bear is putting his views on his interpretation of the issue of race and riots. It is healthy if this issue can be discussed in a rational manner, even in the main stream media, without provoking racial tension and worst, a racial riot. I hope the parties involved could go on discussing for as long as they like and keeping an even keel. Not discussing it openly does not mean that there is no problem. However, discussing them does not mean that the problem can be discussed away. Race and religion are divisive by nature, with each have their own characteristics and beliefs that would want it to be different from others. Some would not want to be compromised by others or worst, insisted that others must be like them. Believing or claiming that race and religion are for harmony and peaceful coexistence is self deception. The seed of division is in every race and religion. It is a me against you kind of mentality. There will be no end to the troubles that can be caused by such divisions in race and religion. They will not go away. LKY is talking about racial riots. Solo bear is talking about riots, any kind of riots. Solo bear takes it that the Malays are somehow identified as the cause of riots but actually the Chinese were involved in most of the riots in Singapore. He quoted the Maria Hertogh riot, the National Service riot, Hock Lee Bus riot, the Chinese student riot, the 1964 and 1969 riots. Of the 6 quoted, 3 were racial riots and 3 were political. The Hock Lee and Chinese student riots were rooted in anti colonial movements. In the absence of colonial masters, they are unlikely to happen again. But anti govt riots could still be possible. What would not go away is the pugnacious racial riot. This is so sensitive and so easily instigated that a fight between two neighbours could ignite into a racial riot if the race element is played up. Even a fight between two commuters in a train can be turned into a racial riot if the flame of race is fanned. We live in a multi racial society and the three major racial groups have a significant presence. At any one time there could be a significant presence of any one of these groups in a location engaging in occupational, cultural or religious activities. Without a forceful govt intervention to ensure peaceful coexistence, the potential for racial dispute is really very high. All races must always bear in mind that avoiding racial dispute or preventing any dispute from becoming racial is vital to the well being of everyone here. What happened in the past, pointing at any one group will only incite anger. No one, even if guilty of racial trespassing, will want to admit guilt of wrong doings. Everyone can judge from the records of history and form his own private and personable opinion and let it stay there. It is pointless to say who was at fault as the guilty party would come up with hundred and one reasons to deflect its action. What is important is to know that racial riots can happen today or tomorrow. Everyone needs to be exceptionally sensitive to avoid such a scenario at all cost.
Many loan shark runners have been arrested recently when the police stepped up their acts. Many were jailed or caned. When the police meant business, no way can the criminals hide. Those who are still engaging in this activity, to threaten the innocents and to paint graffiti everywhere they like should take note. It is only a matter of time before they go behind bars, and their behinds will be sore too. And ouch, another photo in the media showing another O$P$ graffiti at the Kallang Tennis Centre when an international tournament is in progress. Talking about arrogance, who can beat them? The loan sharks really believe that they are one step ahead of the law. They are as good as flipping their nose at the law. This problem used to be other people’s problem for too long. Innocent victims have suffered for months and years at the mercy of the loan sharks. As long as it remains as OPP, nothing much will be done. Would the latest affront against the law at the tennis centre be enough to provoke the law to come down harder and extinguish the light of the loan shark activities? By reading the reports that only little runners were being caught all the while, it looks like the law is just scratching the surface of the problem. If the big sharks are not in the net, there will be an unending supply of runners running around in circles in loan shark country.
Super computers and high speed trading system in equity and derivative tradings. These traders are armed with the latest technology, computer systems and algorithms to place their bets in the stock markets. The technology gives them the advantage to buy and sell at the best price after having a quick peep at all the orders in the market. And they have a big war chest to back up their bets to drown out the small traders. Now, is this a game of pokers, a game of chance, or stock trading? Is it investing or gambling? Who are the big traders with their expensive gambling machine playing against? Are they gambling against their peers with the same formula 1 machine or are they cheating or violating the small investors? When they are competing against the same kind with the same level of resources, technology and equipment, it is fair play. But if they are employing their mean machine to take advantage of the small and ill equipped investors, someone must cry foul. Fair play is what stock markets swear to do. Protecting the small investors against foul play, against being taken advantage of by unfair practices is what the stock markets stood for. By allowing such machine to maul down the innocent small investors must be a serious breach of the integrity of stock market principles and operations. If not, stock markets must be renamed as casinos and be governed by the rules of gaming applicable to casinos.
Govt policies have long term implications, some good and some bad, and some effects can be very extreme. Today everyone knows that Singaporeans are asset rich and cash poor. Everyone knows why. Singaporeans used to be very rich in their savings. Today, not many can smile at their CPF monthly statements as most have been depleted by you know what. Whatever little left will be schemed away and becomes untouchable. It all started when someone realized that Singaporeans have a lot of savings. Then schemes started brewing. How to get hold of this money while they laid idle in the CPF accounts? The rest is history. Today practically everything is priced to empty those savings. Of course they don’t said it this way. They said, Singaporeans can afford to pay because there is money in the CPF accounts. And everything is priced, carefully calibrated, to be affordable according to how much money there is available in the CPF accounts. Brilliant but disastrous. Clever but very short sighted. On one hand encouraging the people to save and on the other helping the people to spend at double quick time. Then utter the big surprise, why money not enough? Now there is a problem when it should not be. So we blame the inflation beast. It is all because of inflation. And inflation eats up a life time of savings at 40 to 50% of one’s income. If only time can be unwound to bring back to where it started and this asset inflation nonsense be killed before it gets wilder. So how? How to return to the time when housing was really affordable, medical fees affordable etc etc and people’s savings keep growing and they can smile at their CPF monthly statements? The inflation beast needs to be beaten. But there is no way to bring down the price of housing or medical fees. Doing that will be even more disastrous. Perhaps inflation can be beaten by inflation. How about inflating the CPF accounts of Singaporeans to the tune of $300k or there about? This will return some cash to the Singaporeans whose savings have been whittled away by inflation. And it will help Singaporeans wanting to buy those inflated HDB flats or pay for those inflated medical bills. It will cost he govt nothing. It is just printing money like all countries are doing. Follow our role model America and we can’t be wrong. When the rest of the world is printing money, we will lose out if we don’t. The buying power of our dollar is shrinking in a frightening way for domestic purchases. This must be done right. And there is no need to throw the whole amount to all Singaporeans. It can be carefully calibrated to the young and old, and to new and old citizens. We cannot repeat the silly thing by throwing all we got to new citizens. More thoughts can go into this little idea of inflating the CPF savings accounts of Singaporeans to fight the inflation beast. And the amount must be meaningful to right the excesses of the last 30 years. Let’s see what Tharman is going to say during his budget speech. Would it still be $1 for you and $1000 for me again?
Do we need an elitist President? I can’t imagine an elected President saying. ‘Get out of my elitist and uncaring face!’ Of course this is unlikely. No got chance for a President to say such things. The barriers have been set up so high that only a select few elites would qualify. The door has been shut on the general populace. I still think that there could be loop holes. For instance a Stanley Ho would definitely qualify. Or a char kway teow seller who went on to build a food chain and got his company listed in the stock exchange could also qualify. Similarly a construction worker who could turn around a small construction firm into a construction giant must surely qualify. I don’t think a school principal or a lecturer in the university will qualify. A doctor of a small clinic will not qualify. This would rule out many talents and good people from standing for the Presidency. No wonder there were so few candidates, actually only one candidate, that stood up in the last election. A dearth of president material. What if the rules are relax and less stringent? What if Wally becomes qualify and gets himself elected? I bet he will be asking someone to write a book about his conquest as emperor of Lijiang. Or Matilah, the longkang intellectual, he would want to write a book about his amorous adventures and his fun loving vagabond lifestyle. Just these two examples will be enough to convince me that an elitist President is a right one. Oh, need to tighten the rules a bit more to exclude successful people like char kway teow chefs and construction specialists from the University of Hard Knocks.
Low fertility rate and lesser babies seem to be the problem of this little country. And we have many positive govt policies to encourage more babies with cash even being thrown in to help the mothers to be. Why is it not working? Let me venture to make a few educated guesses. Babies mean family and family support groups plus a social and economic system to support their growing up to be healthy and well balanced individuals. They need good homes and space to grow up too, without having to worry about the finances and high cost of living, education and medical expenses. What are the policies that are anti babies and anti family. 1. Housing. You need affordable, I mean really affordable and not a life time of debt to be serviced by two incomes, and reasonably spacious living spaces for the children to grow. Ideally a 3 tier family with the grand parents or other siblings lending a hand when needed to look after the babies. The alternative is for maids, but with someone at home to supervise, thus proper living space for maids. Are shoe box flats good enough to bring up children? Sure, the midgets will tell you. You don’t need more than a store room size room to live in. Ok, the ants and bees live in smaller niches, so don’t complain. And Hongkong is a good example to prove how luxurious our shoe box flats are. 2. Now, the problems of housing policies against families and babies are obvious. Without housing, how to start a family? Wait and wait, and queue and queue for housing? By the time one gets to the front of the queue, several years have gone by. By the time one gets to the housing unit, several years have gone by. Not forgetting the years needed to save for the down payment. 3. Two income family. Is this conducive to family life? With a 3 tier family, workable. If both parents have to be out most of the day and return home dead tired, what is there left for the family? And if the couple is on their own, the burden and responsibility of looking after babies will be passed to someone else that may bring more problems, stress and even tragedies. 4. Medical cost is not cheap to bear a child and to see them through in good health. 5. Education, transportation, living costs etc all adds up to a huge bill to pay. 6. Cannot afford cars, take public transport. Who doesn’t know? One baby with the pram and all the accessories will be more than enough to lug around. Taking public transport once in a while may be bearable. But to do it for several years, ferrying the kids to grandparent homes or nurseries for day care, kindergarten, play schools, schools, my god, how to cope? And if both parents have to rush to work, and what if there are more than one child? Private transportation is essential! No joke, it is no luxury. Now COE already $70k! KNN. So you want everyone to be economically active, you want everyone to produce children, what for? And you don’t want to build housing. You demand that people book first and wait for 3-4 years. Lao liao by the time the flat comes. And the govt is telling people cannot afford buy smaller and smaller flats. Cui kong lan par song. With the kind of prices for a flat, many young couples will only have to buy smaller and smaller flats or shoe box flats. Oh ya, some will be buying private and landed properties. Now grandparents also must work as cleaners. Why don’t govt provide incentive for grand parents to stay at home and look after grandchildren? Cannot lah, welfare state is bad lah. Looking after children and grand children are individual’s responsibility. Ok, then what the shit is the govt complaining about not enough babies and asking people to produce? Individual responsibility what! There is such a word called holistic approach. But if left hand doesn’t know what right hand is doing, or left hand does one thing, right hand does another, then the balls will ding dong all the way. Oh, they also have a saying, have your cake and eat it as well. Now that is simply ingenious if it works.
A 3 year old toddler had his thigh bone broken by a maid who was hired to take care of him. This piece of news was reported in the media several weeks ago. I feel so sorry for the poor child. There must be many children out there who were in the charge of maids and suffered pain and injuries, victims of maid abuses. And the parents had to be out earning a living to pay for the maid and hoping to bring up the child, to give the child a good home and a good life. It is not just brave but foolish, silly, to trust your children to a stranger, called maid. Do these parents feel any pain leaving their children to strangers while they could be battered or tortured in their absence? I can feel the pain for the poor children. This is another reason why it is difficult for young couples to bear children. It is very expensive. And if they are unable to take care of them full time, or with reliable help, it is torturing for both the parents and the children. A double income family has a huge social price to pay in parenting and bringing up children. When everyone has to earn a living, who is to look after the children, where is the normal family environment? Who says go forth and multiply? So easy meh? Please have a heart for the children and their parents. Not many can afford to bring up children and have peace of mind when the cost of living is so high. Don’t think having children is just for fun, for economic reasons. It is a life!
The PAP election machinery is whirring as it should be and everything is running as per normal. Every single step is as planned, like the last election, like the election before the last election. The efficiency is time proven and nothing will go wrong. The electoral electoral boundaries have been redrawn, electoral list finalized, the new MPs are being interviewed, the grassroots all activated and ready to go. Next will be the budget which will send the MPs going oohs and ahhs, the best budget of the century, a people’s budget, everyone should be happy. Where on earth can one find such a good govt? The people can expect something real big this time, big pay rise, bigger bonuses, bigger angpows. Maybe not as big as the $300k I wish for as it is unlikely that the govt will print $600b like the Americans to give away. But it will be damn big. But will there be shock waves and tsunamis? I personally think there will be plenty and many coming from the PAP itself. Let me guess what the shock waves will be. 1. The yodas will be gone. The PAP can’t be talking about a younger set of leaders and advising other countries to have younger leaders while it hangs on to all the yodas with some becoming centurions soon. LKY and Jayakumar will likely be dropped. 2. Shock wave Two could see the dropping of ministers without portfolios. With the huge pay package, it is very difficult to justify to the people why ministers without a ministry to run should still be paid that kind of money. Zorro is the exception as the NTUC is a national institution, as large as any ministry. Chok Tong and Boon Heng’s positions should be hanging on a thread. 3. The third shock wave must be the dropping of ministers that are sure goners. Whether the PAP drops them or they stand for election, they will not be in the next govt. It is thus a tough decision for Hsien Loong, dropping the ministers or losing them together with the GRCs and the team of MPs. 4. The next shock wave will be the dropping of young MPs who are no longer interested in politics or are not perceived to be with the people. Reviewing their attendance in Parliament sittings will give one an idea of who would want to be dropped. From the opposition camp, the shock wave will come when they are able to contest every single ward and every GRC. And the bigger shock is that many professionals and credible and able candidates are coming out to stand. The biggest shock wave will come when the election result is announced. I was gazing very hard at my crystal ball and all I saw was smoke. I could not figure it out. It was so tumultuous and earth shaking that the crystal ball went poop after that. It could not take the shock of what was coming. Looks like a tsunami hitting the political scene.
There were several discussions on this phenomenon of so called Tiger mums and their extraordinary babies created under pressure hot house regime. The children turn out to be more than extraordinary. And the Tiger mums undoubtedly must be very proud of their achievements and the methodology applied in the process. I congratulate all the Tiger mums for their blessings for having some fine children. For parents whose children are lesser endowed or poorly endowed, please do not despair that your children would not turn out to be exceptional like the children of Tiger mums. Life is a gift, or a reason for it to be that way. Just live life and don’t feel down because one doesn’t have the blessings of Tiger mums. Every life is there for a reason. Every morning I met this auntie fetching her precious little girl to school. She has to help her as her ability to move is not normal. Nonetheless you can see the great love and devotion of a mother caring for her loving child. This little girl will not excel even under the best Tiger mum. The bus that came to fetch her is from a special school. The special is not meant to be extraordinary, extra brilliant. It means she needs special care. Mothers of special care children deserve more attention and recognition for what mothers do best, simply providing tender loving care for their children, against all odds. Never mind about no straight As. Life is not just about achieving straight As and not all children are gifted for that.
It is only right and the way to go forward, to build more small flats instead of bigger flats. Our population of duds is not going to reproduce themselves. So it is useless to waste resources to build bigger flats. What for, when only two persons will live in them, maybe three. Come to think of it the developers are more far sighted than HDB. They already see the trend in the future. People are getting married but not reproducing. Three cheers to the builders and developers of small flats. Despite the kpkb about low fertility rate and wanting people to produce more children, the reality speaks for itself. You can’t believe anyone telling you to produce more children when he builds flats for two. You can’t take him seriously when he says one thing and does the other. On the other hand those people buying Mickey Mouse flats may regret one day when they don’t have extra room to let out for retirement income. They need a room for themselves and one or two extra rooms for renting. This is now the only compelling reason to want to have bigger flats, not for babies and children.
This is the will of LKY. It is spoken in public and everyone now knows what he wants. Being a public figure of such a stature, a kind of celebrity, I think his wish may not be granted. There are those who want to keep it as a national monument to preserve a little bit of history and historical buildings that are still around. There are some who sees the monetary value of that piece of land and its surroundings. How much more money can be made. Yes, making money is all that we can think of. The argument to gazette the place as a historical site may be losing ground when money is at stake. Who cares about our history, or who cares about LKY, some may argue. Money talks, and money talks louder. Let me try to use the money argument that may favour the keeping this house as it is. Fengshui plays a vital part in the life and fate of people and country to the believers. I think the location of this house is in an excellent fengshui location. The site has given birth to two Prime Ministers and three President scholars. How much more auspicious can one get? And with the site being kept as it is, without changing or altering the fengshui, Singapore prospers for the last few decades. So, anyone want to risk changing the fengshui of the area and demolish the house? You may not know what you are demolishing. Singapore could also be demolished in the same effort. Whatever little money made by the developers will go up in smokes. Now, did I frighten the shit out of those who want to make some money from the site and replace it with a 30 storey condo?
I got this impression that foreigners are much more politically savvy than Singaporeans after reading an article in the ST yesterday. It was about the slowing down in giving PRs to new applicants. The rejection rate is growing and the criteria for acceptance have gone up. Official statistics said the number of PRs approved last year was down to 29,265, less than half of 2009’s 59.460, much less than 2008’s 79,200, and 2007’s 63,600. Nothing was mentioned about the comparative numbers for new citizens. I bet that must also have gone down. But I may be wrong. So more unhappy applicants are going to threaten to apply for PRs in other better countries? Horrors! How can we lose all these talents to other countries? Quick, quick, reverse the flow, accept more or else… they will leave. I can sense the panic of those clamouring for more talented PRs to join our workforce. Some applicants are more sanguine about the situation, or maybe smarter. They knew that it is the election year. No sweat. After the election things will be back to normal. The govt is now appeasing the anger of the people and closing the door a little. After the election they will apply again. Is this amusing? The foreigners know exactly how the system works here. They are bidding their time now and know that they will get their PRs in double quick time after the election. How come Singaporeans don’t understand or never understand how the game is being played? Things before an election and things after an election will be poles apart. Maybe they are hoping that the leopard will change its spots. Maybe this time it will be different, or from now on it will be different. So, who is smarter, the foreigners or the citizens?
When one put up a topic like that, it simply implies that there are issues between the new and the old. Definitely there are and many, both good and bad. What distinguishes the old from the new is that it was a highly respected party, with a few rough corners for making tough decisions for the people. It was a lean party and the people knew that whatever it did, it was really for the good of the party. And the leaders lived by the principles that they shared the woes of the people and would carry them and walked a long with them through thick and thin. The people might not be too happy with some of the policies but went along, and elected the party to power elections after elections. The leadership was impressive. Not that all of them were super talent material, but their hearts were together with the people. The ministers were well regarded, each a tower of strength. Any GRC that was deemed to be weak or facing tough opposition, just threw in a minister and the GRC would be as good as in the pocket. What is the situation today? The party is still doing a lot of good work for the people. I perceive that in spite of this, the ground has shifted. The people are angry, really angry. OK, not everyone is angry. There were many policies and decisions that were seen as bad and unacceptable. It may be only a perception, it may be real too. On the party side, it thinks and sincerely, honestly believes that it is doing everything for the good of the people. They forget that it is the people that is the judge. Why is there such a big gap in the people’s perception and the party’s own thinking? An erroneous perception can be easily explained away with some effort. Bad decisions and policies don’t go away, no matter how much trumpet blowing, and will end up as sophistry. They said you cannot bluff the people all the time. Too many untruths propagated as truths would surely back fire. It is no longer palatable to take the position that the people are stupid and unthinking masses, can be easily manipulated, or unable to see the goodness of good policies. Our superb education system must at the least do some good, make the people more knowledgeable and critical of the things they see or are happening to their lives. They cannot be unthinking people with all the exposure to the world and the high educational level they have attained. Are the people with the new PAP? There are hard core supporters and oppositions on both sides. The important segment is the middle ground. Has this moved? If the anger expressed in the new media is true, forget about the views of the old media as we know what they are, then the writing is on the wall. But it is not just the perception of the people that has changed. The leadership in the new PAP is quite fragile to be polite. Many ministers today are liabilities to the GRCs they are helming to the extent that fielding them will guarantee that the GRC will be lost. I know some may read this point with eyes popping out. Believe me, quite a number of ministers no longer carry the ground. The only thing that has never changed is that the PAP, old and new, is still led by one man, the same one man that started it. Even though LKY does not hold any decision making position directly like a ministry, he is still the man. It is still his party, his Singapore. Can the man carry the party again one last time, really, that he will stand for one more election? Or is the party coming to an end together with the fading away of the man that is synonymous with the PAP from day one to his last days?
MR HU GOES TO WASHINGTON: ‘MONSTER’:Members of the US House Committee on Foreign Affairs did not hold back as they focused on human rights abuses in China under Hu Jintao’s leadership By William Lowther / Staff Reporter in WASHINGTON Chinese President Hu Jintao (胡錦濤) came under an unprecedented personal attack at a US congressional briefing on Wednesday at the very same time he was being welcomed with a 21-gun salute at the White House. Members of the US House of Representatives Committee on Foreign Affairs referred to him as a “monster” and the committee chair, Representative Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, a Republican, said that it was estimated that his regime was holding close to 7 million people in labor camps. “It is as if the entire population of Switzerland were being held behind barbed wire,” she said. It is highly unusual for visiting heads of state to be subjected to such biting criticism while they are guests in the same city. However, analysts said that feelings were running so high about Hu’s human rights record that some US lawmakers simply couldn’t contain themselves. Representative Christopher Smith, a Republican who on Tuesday held his own conference on Chinese human rights abuses, said: “Who is Hu Jintao? In 1989, just a few months before the massacre in Tiananmen Square, Hu was Beijing’s iron fist in Tibet.” “This was the man who ordered the savage beating of Tibetan nuns and even children were pummeled to death. He presides over a gulag state — clearly a dictatorship. He has been directly responsible for the systematic detention and torture of millions of Chinese,” Smith said. “Cattle prods are put into prisoners’ armpits and at their genitals.” “I believe Hu ought to be at The Hague being made to account for his crimes rather than being treated with a state dinner,” Representative Dana Rohrabacher, a Republican, said. “We should not be welcoming the world’s worst human rights abuser to our White House. It is wrong. We should not be granting respect to this monstrous regime,” Rohrabacher added. “I think the Chinese have a hidden agenda — world domination. We seem to be helping them in their goals. We just don’t seem to get it,” said Representative Albio Sires, a Democrat. “There is this monster developing right before our eyes.” The American lawmakers think that they were the saints of modern history. I am wondering how many of those named above were descendants of slave owners and Injun killers? Or were these small town law makers descendants of the Jeremiahs or the hill billies? Does anyone of them remember Kunta Kinte?
Every time I read an article from the China experts it never fails to remind me of the 3 blind men and the elephant. Yes they all claimed to know the elephant very well, a kind of expert. They have touched the elephant and smelt the elephant. One claimed that the elephant was like a tree trunk. Another professed that it was like a snake. And another swore that it was like a rope with loose ends. The beauty of it all is that they all believe that they were right and the elephant is what as they described. If only they could go pass beneath the skin of the elephant, if only they could look at the whole picture. But China experts are plentiful and of different degree. Then again, most of them are just like the 3 blind men. The betterer part is that they are propounding their theories of what China is all about and trying to con everyone of their expertise. Put it in another way, how about a Malaysian asking a Singaporean who visited JB once on where to buy cheap and good Malaysian local products? And the Singaporean happily went about explaining like an expert of Malaysian local produce and where to get the best deal!
The movie has many angles to look at, and lessons to be told. The Qing Dynasty was decadent and had lost the mandate to rule. But the Dowager was bent on keeping the Dynasty going for as long as possible, and with all means and resources available. Suppressing the opposition at all cost was her only way. The Dynasty had run out of ideas on how to rule the country. The country was in disarray and controlled by foreigners. The foreigners were calling the shot. It was a pathetic scenario, even in modern society, should the foreigners ended calling the shot in a country. The dangerous part about this ‘foreigner’ thing in modern history is that they could pass themselves off as citizens by simply acquiring a citizenship. And overnight people believe that they are one of them, no longer foreigners. Instant trees and instant citizenship have their merits and dangers. The Qing Dynasty was oppressive and deadly. They just killed off any opposition. Under such a political culture, when the rulers were ruthless and ready to demolish anyone trying to stand up to voice their opposition, the patriots could not hope for a peaceful change of the power elite. They were compelled to meet force with force, a rebellion. But for such an endeavour to succeed, there would be many sacrifices of lives. For every martyr that was taken down, more must stand up to replace the fallen. It was a bloody time. The unassuming doctor in Sun Yat Sen stood up. And so were many pen pushers, academics and students, all wanting a new China for the people. Many were mowed down by the soldiers who wielded the sword and the gun. The pen pushers provided the leadership and ideas, the brain. And the soldiers provided the muscles and the brawns to take on the ruthless Qing regime headed by an ageing Dowager. The rest was history. An empire of several hundred years, with all the elite in power, with guns and money, was overthrown by the will of a desperate people. History repeated itself. No empire can survive forever, no matter how powerful, how long it stayed in power, and how ruthless is the suppression of the people’s will. There will always be a new dawn and a new era.
I like this movie. It was set at the dying days of the Qing Dynasty. Sun Yat Sen was a rebel, outcast by the Govt in Beijing. The movie was about his visit to Hongkong to organize a revolt against the corrupt and decadence Qing Govt. And HongKong was a British outpost occupied by foreigners and foreign talents. The Qing Govt was dead against the rebels challenging its authority to rule but closed an eye while the foreigners flourished in the country. The Qing Govt might not love the foreigners, but it was a case of not ruffling feathers. As long as the foreigners were doing their own business and not involved in the politics of the day, the Govt could live with it. Curbing the rebels and their cause was the main priority, to extend the rule of the Manchus. The Qing Govt sent a band of Imperial Guards to assassinate Sun Yat Sen in HongKong. The Imperial Guards were led by a devoted and loyal Commander called Yan XiaoGuo. His loyalty and conviction to the Govt of the day was unquestionable. He sincerely believed that exterminating the rebels was the right thing to do. His zeal was admirable if one does not make any subjective judgement on which side was right or wrong. Civil servants of such nature were exemplary and deserved every cent paid to them. And the Qing Dynasty was able to extend its corrupt ways for much longer than necessary at the detriment of the country and its people. The change and overthrow of a corrupt govt was made to take a much longer time with more bloodshed, misery and loss of life. Thanks to such loyal civil servants that pledged blind loyalty to the dynasty without question. In the case of Yan XiaoGuo, his loyalty was not blind loyalty but full of conviction that the Govt then was legitimate and good for China. Overthrowing the Govt was against the mandate of heaven. He died for his belief and in the execution of his duty as a loyal civil servant. But his zeal and devotion to his master nearly killed a patriot and prolonged the decadence of a bankrupt dynasty. And in the cause of following the ruthless order of his masters without questioning, many citizens were killed or maimed as a result.
With billions of dollars of chips on the table, the most important issue to the Americans will be the jailing of Liu Xiaobo. The Americans are pulling their hair off their heads at the dismal human rights record of China. And they are flabbergasted that the Chinese were unable to clear up their human rights problems after so many years of pressure from them. Obama may want to help the Chinese by giving Hu a recipe on how to clear up the dissidents once and for all and don’t have to look back again. The two worst human rights violation in the history of America that outshone the rest of the world must be slavery and the genocide against the true natives of America, the Red Indians. What Guantanamo? What Abu Ghraib? And the Americans handled these two problems so well that the survivors of these two abominable human rights violations against humankind are living happily without protesting. I am not too sure how the African negroes have been appeased and no longer pursue the violation of their self respect and rights as a human bean, but how the Americans dealt with the Red Indian issue were all well documented in the history books and the movies of Hollywood. From what I have read, the recipe to ensure that there will be no protest or grievances from those whose human rights were violated is very simple. Execute a ruthless campaign of genocide, make sure that the wipe out is as complete as possible. The Americans were extremely successful in exterminating the Red Indians that not many survived the ordeal to become dissidents today. What ever few that were left, send them to the reservations in no man’s land. With several millions of the Red Indians, young and old and womenfolks included, shot by the US cavalry, the human rights issue of the Red Indians is history. There must be a complete whitewash, and not to be spoken of again. The second part of the recipe is exactly this. Just keep attacking other countries’ human rights record so that they have no time to think about what had happened in America. Yes, the arrest of Liu Xiaobo is an earth shaking event that must not be forgotten and must be taken out regularly to be aired. Ssssssh, don’t say a word about the abhorring human rights violations against the Blacks and the Reds in America. No one must know or remember. How about Hu Jintao raising a wine glass and toast to the Blacks and Reds in the state dinner? The nation with the most abysimal record of human rights violation is chiding the China for human rights violation!
Or shall I say the wise men from the East coming to visit America and bringing gifts for the baby? Hu Jintao is in America on a 4 day visit and a summit with Obama. And he does not come empty handed. In his wagons were loads of gold and silver, all ready to be dispensed to the hungry Americans. Several hundred millions have already been given and more to come, to the tune of billions, if America is willing to be a nice boy. Even before the visit there were threats and threats from the American elite, including Hillary Clinton. And the stupid woman still rabbled about human rights in China and that the Chinese must change their social and political system to suit the Americans. Why should the President of another country go to the US to listen to someone complaining about his domestic affairs and how to run his own house? Maybe China should do more homework and insist on talking to the Americans about compensation to the Red Indians and the descendants of former slaves. Actually, there is no need for China to indulge in the same gossips as a housewife. Go to the White and talk politics, about bread and butter and guns. If the Americans insist on talking about human rights and all that nonsense, just pack up and go home. No need to waste more time on unproductive and destructive distractions. The important issues are economics and how to give the people of both countries a better life. The gangsters and the Al Capones can go on and talk to whoever they want about gangland warfare. China should rise above the occasion and avoid being dragged into gangsterism. Santa Claus does not have to pour out his bag of goodies if the children misbehaved.
Our Total Fertility Rate has sank to a historical low of 1.16 last year. This is way below the replacement level of 2.1. We need help and foreign talents are needed in this area. Yes foreign talents will increase our population to sustain our economic growth and also improve our gene pool. What is the problem with our men, or our women? Is it their problem or is it the social cost that is too punitive for them to reproduce? If it is just biological, the problem can be solved much easily. If man is the problem, set up a sperm bank, get the virile men, local and foreign also can, and start inseminating our women. If woman is the problem, maybe a little tweaking in our laws may help. Allowing the men to have more wives would solve a lot of social problems, including single old maids. SDU would not have to work that hard. Allowing men to have more than one wife due to infertility problem has historical and cultural precedents. Our Muslim comrades have understood this problem since time immemorial and the religion has a provision for it. If the problem is social and financial cost, then the problem needs to be addressed at the national level. If young couples find it prohibitive to raise children, whose fault is it? Many young couples are thinking people and know how costly it is to raise kids in this high cost hot house. How about the govt taking over the role of bringing up kids, only the financing part? The last Parliament there were talks of govt taking over the care of children from parents who could not afford to bring them up properly. So why not take this further and make it a national service by the govt? I am very sure productivity will go up so high that the govt will have to put in stops to prevent couples producing too many children. It is all about being able to pay for the upbringing up children, Watson! No need to think too hard. The young couples have thought through the whole process and understood what it cost. And for being thoughtful and responsible, they are punished for not producing. And the thinkers and planners are still lost as to why they don’t produce. On the contrary, the irresponsible and unthinking will keep on reproducing and the govt has fallen into the trap of raising their children for them. Come on, do the simple thing. No need to covet for foreign talents and their bodies. Just provide the finances, and of course all the rulings about how many children will be supported, and the children will come. No need to kpkb everyday that our TFR is going lower. Stare at the problem. Don’t look away, don’t look outside our borders. This is the same attitude as in bringing in foreign talents to replace our healthy, well educated local talents.
Goh Eng Yeow wrote an article about Bold Ambition and Big Gamble in the ST last week. SGX is taking a big gamble to turn itself into a New York or London in the finance industry. It is pulling all the stops, all the strings, putting money where it is to bring in the giants, the big funds and their big machines, high speed computers, to turn SGX into a world class bourse. In his comment he said, ‘The SGX has wagered a lot of time and money with no guarantee it will pay off.’ He concludes by saying that ‘the greatest irony of the SGX approach: For all its initiatives and innovations, the fate of its ambitious strategy now rests with the aussie politicians.’ Another irony that I may add is that the aspiration also rests on the small pool of small investors waiting to be eaten up by the big funds and their mean machines. The question I like to ask is whether Singapore has a big enough base of investors, with the dough, to be a world class stock exchange? Or does a world class stock exchange need a pool of small investors or just the big funds and their machines will do the trick? Another question of moral responsibility. In the madness to be big, are there considerations and systems put in the protect the small investors. Or the small investors are just collateral damages for the goal of being big for the sake of being big?
A Swiss whistleblower, Rudolf Elmer, will be charged in the Swiss court for breaking Swiss banking secrecy laws. Rudolf will be turning his compilation of bank data showing money laundering and tax evasion to WikiLeaks. The data is proof of the banks misdeeds and those of its officials and their customers. Rudolf was the COO of Julius Baer bank in the Cayman Islands but was fired for stealing the information. This is what he said. ‘The one thing on which I am absolutely clear is that the banks know…that money is being secreted away for tax evasion purposes, and other things such as money laundering.’ The bank’s reply is that Rudolf’s aim was ‘to discredit Julies Baer as well as clients’ by spreading “baseless accusations” and passing on “unlawfully acquired” documents to the media and WikiLeaks.’ If Rudolf is speaking the truth, then we have a bunch of criminals suing an innocent man. Accepted technically that he breached the banking laws, but what if the laws were abused by the banks? Would that absolve Rudolf of his crimes? The second part is that the bank has taken the position that Rudolf is lying and falsifying documents. The bank has thus taken a stand and can be hanged for it if it is found to be telling lies instead. The other frightening thing is that states could pass anything as laws, in this case banking secrecy acts, so that they can do criminal and immoral things. And breaking the laws becomes a crime. How neat. It is an open secret that many criminals and robbers parked their money in Switzerland and are protected by these laws. Who should be hanged then? When laws are for wrongful purposes, then the laws are a crime in itself.
Asian stock markets are being coerced to cut down their lunch breaks, and better, no lunch breaks to increase their productivity and facilitate cross border trades. The latest victim is Hongkong halving its lunch break from 2 hours to one hours. Tokyo too will have its lunch break cut. Singapore is contemplating of doing away with the lunch break completely, which is likely to happen on 1 March. One of the solid reasons given is to reduce the advantage/disadvantage of differences in trading hours. By doing away with lunch breaks and to extend the trading hours, stock exchanges will now operate with at least similar trading hours or overlapping hours. That will ease off a lot of the disadvantages. To me this is a little foolish. As long as the stock markets across the world are operating at different hours because of the different time zones, no amount of time adjustment or no lunch breaks can be of any great help. The advantage is minimal but the price paid by the stockbrokers is not small. There is a perfect solution to all the farce about different trading hours and trying to bring them as close as possible. Actually there are two answers. One is to operate stock markets on a 24 hour basis. The second is to use Greenwich Time and all stock markets shall operate at the same hours. See, all the farce will go away. Stupid problems need to be solved by stupid solutions. Red herring problems can be solved by applying twisted logics.
The latest bout of cooling measures to curb property prices is touted as a very well thought out plan. The previous three measures thus must be not too well thought out. And if this one does not work out, the next betterer thought out plan will be rolled out. Curbing high property prices is not the only area that needs cooling measures. We need cooling measures for COE prices, university tuition fees and of course medical fees. There were some hints of curbing high legal fees in the private sector. That is also an area that many cannot afford to pay to the top legal eagles. They are so good that they could even demand an arm or a leg from their clients. And affordability is never an issue. So far the only real cooling measure that works is the salary of workers. Real cool man.
Lee Wei Ling wrote an article in the Sunday Times today complimenting Singapore doctors for not doing unnecessary medical tests and cutting down medical cost. I had an experience last week at NTUC Dental Care when I was coerced in a way to have two Xrays taken or else no treatment. I went just to repair a tooth filling that was chipped off. A simple removal of the existing worn filling and refilling it with new amalgam should do the job. The dental surgeon insisted that two Xrays must be taken as evidence of the state of the tooth and should the hole be too big and necessitate a root canal treatment, then she would be protected in case I complain that it was her fault. I want to say 'f'. This really pissed me off. I was at the verge of sitting up and walk out of the clinic. But I held back as it was a small matter and did not want to waste more time since I had already made the appointment and sitting on the dental chair. The reasoning for the extra two Xrays was unacceptable as it was done for her own protection against complaints by unhappy customers. Here she assumed that I would be an unreasonable customer, that the hole in my tooth could be bigger and required canal treatment, and I would complain against her. So I kenna paid for two Xrays for her protection just in case. At the end, after the treatment, there was no big hole that required canal treatment except a big hole in my pocket that was unnecessary but for her own good. And now, I am complaining for a different reason. I actually did not want to raise this minor issue until Wei Ling's article reminded me of how medical cost can go up for all the wrong reasons. And if my experience is the norm, then many NTUC members or NTUC Dental Care customers must have been made to pay for unnecessary tests. NTUC being an organisation to protect the welfare of workers should rethink this stupid practice and save the workers some money. No, I am not going to complain to Swee Say about this. Too tedious and time consuming. But any NTUC leaders or members reading this may want to take note and bring this up to him. It will save the workers some money and avoid being abused by such arrogant attitude of some practitioners.
The tuition fees for Singapore universities and polytechnics will go up in the next academic year. The reason given is that the cost of providing quality education is going up. The fee hikes range from 3% to 6% for universities and 2% to 3% for polytechnics. The increases for NUS and NTU were 4-6% which are higher than SMU’s 3%. At the rate it is going the quality of education in NUS and NTU will improve tremendously over that of SMU. And I can presume that SMU will have to improve its quality next year by higher fee increases just to catch up. Students in NUS and NTU will be celebrating in the increasing quality of their education. Students in polytechnics will have to make do with only 2-3% improvement. If university fees were a guide to the quality of the education provided, then the fee increase must be accelerated. Then it will only be a matter of time when the quality of our university education be betterer than the top universities in the West. And students who can afford to pay more for quality education will be flocking to this education hub for world best university education.
If a taxi cost another $50k, you can bet the taxi will go up accordingly to cover the extra cost. If school bus is also in the scheme, you can bet that bus fees will go up. At $50k more and a 7 year life span for a taxi, it simply means $7k more to write off a year or $600 pm more to charge to the commuters. The school bus will have to apportion the increase to the 20 to 40 kids in a bus. The goods and delivery vehicles will have to be cost in which means ultimately everything will be cost in. Don’t think it will only affect the car owners or ex car owners. The multiplier effect will quite widespread. And anyone buying a $100k car will not park it in the car park for show. It is too costly to waste away. And insurance companies will be laughing to the banks with car values going up. More people changing to public transport means the public transport system will have to take on heavier load. More buses and trains, more sardines, and more cost. Somehow, whichever way, the cost is still up. Why like that? COEs, ERPs, public transports, no matter which button is pressed, commuters got to pay more and bear with bigger inconvenience.
A REUTER report quoting Pentagon official’s comment about the maiden flight of China’s stealth fighter aircraft is simply brilliant. It said that Hu Jintao and other top Chinese leaders did not know about the test flight, implying that they were kept out of the loop. So there is possibility of a rift in the Chinese leadership, between the civilian leaders and the top brass in the military. I am impressed with the quality of the analyst and the value of this report. The readers must now all believes that the Chinese leadership will soon fall apart and a coup is taking place. My simpleton layman observation is that Hu Jintao and his comrades were too busy with their preparation for Gate’s visit and all the briefings they were given were forgotten, or they did not pay any attention to them. Or perhaps the reports were all on their tables but they got no time to read as they were thinking of how to make Gates happy during his visit to China. So no miscommunication. Just a slip of the mind, or too busy. I think my analysis is equally brilliant in a way. But the Americans and the western media can keep on hoping that China will collapse or a leadership struggle will take place and breaking up China like the Soviet Union. PS. This American view is news worthy woah.
There are many aspects about govt and leadership to talk about. Let me just say a few things about what good govt and good leadership mean from a micro perspective or from a single factor. A good govt leads by bringing the people with them, through persuasion and education. It educates the people and encourages them to think, to make rational decisions for the good of people and country. A govt that does not educate, talk down on the people and threatens the people with all kinds of negative scenarios, gimmicks and abuses the law is never a good govt. It is more like a dictatorship, a kingship or a totalitarian state. Mature and democratic countries must not only have democratic institutions but also a mature and educated people who are ruled by reasons and persuasion and who participated actively in the politics of the country. A nation of well fed people but unable to think independently, unable to decide what is best for themselves but being dictated and controlled in all ways is nothing but like a fat bird in a cage, feeling very well and comfortable materially but empty in spirit and restrained in freedom. What kind of leadership and society are we living in or do we want to live in?
With the US crying foul, that China is developing carrier killer missiles and stealth fighters, the most stupid question being asked over and over again is this, ‘What is the intention of China?’ And this question is not being asked by the layman but by military top brass, strategists, professoris and China experts. My answer is very simple. China is manufacturing them for fun. Or maybe China needs them so show to the world that it has come of age. Or the Chinese leadership, like the North Korean leadership, just wanted to fight to prove its manhood. No, not good answers. So what should be a good answer? Maybe asking the Americans why are they spending half of the world’s defence budget would be indicative of what is the real intent of China. Actually the silly question being asked reflects how stupid the questioner is. Then many will quickly jump to the conclusion, China has aggressive intention. China is preparing a war with the US. Another silly thought. Today, war between the super powers is obsolete. Only monsters and maniacs would ever think of a war between the super powers. The destructive powers of their arsenals are unbelieveable and when unleashed could wipe out both countries and the world together. Superiority in arms, whether on the side of the Americans or the Chinese or the Russians, has become meaningless. For any one of them can inflict enough harm to the other party to keep them away. Even the reckless and irresponsible nut called George Bush Jr would not dare to start a war with China when he wanted most. There will be no winners or survivors. This is the stark reality of super power warfare. So what is the intention of China’s military build up? The answer is simple. It is to prevent war, to prevent adventurers from attacking China. The fate of Iraq and other lesser nations are evidence for China to build a strong military to avoid the same fate. North Korea is doing the same and is saved by its nuclear weapons. Would the crazy Americans, South Koreans or Japan dare to strike the North Koreans? The Americans might at this moment, if they believe that the North Koreans are unable to launch an ICBM to American soil and any hit will be at the expense of Japan and South Korea. The latter two would be foolhardy to think of having a war with the North Koreans. As long as China maintains a military force that can wipe out the US should it try to do it to China, China is safe from war and foreign invasion. The thought of China building its military force to start a war with the US is mischievous and childish. For China to do so is courting its own annihilation. So, would anyone still want to ask the silly question of China’s intention? The only reason for asking such a question is to be mischievous, to create fear and to tag China as a war monger. Period.
The recent O level results must have made many parents very happy. The students themselves no need to say, must also be very happy with the fruits of their labour. The teachers and schools too must be proud too that their efforts in educating the students were a scintillating success. And the MOE too can tell the world that our education system is the best in the world. Maybe the students in Raffles, Hwa Chong and the other SAP schools would have a different kind of feeling. They have been robbed of a chance to own a piece of certificate that says, 10 A1s or 9 A1s. If they were to sit in the same exam, they may even get A1 stars. Being the crème ala crème of the cohorts, the MOE perhaps should devise something like an honorary certificate for them. If the students of these top schools were also graded, we could literary throw a stone in a crowd students and hit a 10 A1s. There will be so many 10 A1s to the country proud. It will be another feather in the Guinness Book of Records for the number of 10 A1s and 9 A1s in an O level examination. And every year we can aspire for the record to be broken. And we don’t have enough talents and need more foreign talents to improve our stocks. Aren’t our straight As students in the world’s best education system better than foreign talents from other countries? Maybe not. Many of the top students O level students are from foreign countries too.
This seems to be a hot issue in Parliament yesterday. And it is obvious that there will be one camp against one man. After hearing the reasons given, I am on the side of the camp. One dangerous principle of minimum wage is that an organization may be forced to pay some donkeys sitting there and not wanting to work. The examples brought up were short of hilarious. Workers did not want to work in kitchen because it is too hot. I have heard of cleaners complaining that their jobs were too tough, people find midnight shift intolerable. Basically complaints of all kinds about jobs. May I then offer to aircon the kitchens, make all the jobs soft and cosy, no midnight shifts, or provide restaurant meals and gym membership to the workers to make working a pleasant past time? Look at the other extremes, the politicians. Ask them to wake up at 5am to flag off a marathon, they will say yes. Ask them to go walkabout to shake every stranger’s hand, they will say yes. And they have full time job from 8 to 5. And in the evening they are everywhere, attending wakes and wedding dinners, community events, MPS, board meetings etc etc. By the time they got home they would have put in a 25 hour day work. And they are not complaining. Some work so hard that they did not even have time to attend Parliament or have to force themselves to stay awake if they did attend. And their hairs are prematurely turning white. Poor buggers! They are the best examples of exemplary work attitude. Never say no, never complain. Just work and work. Workers with such good attitude would not need to ask for minimum wage. The organizations will automatically pay them more.
A Maureen Foo wrote a letter to Today paper yesterday complaining about noise in the HDB void decks. And her complaints included children cycling and rollerblading in the walkways. These are signs that the intolerance level of overcrowding is beginning to get to the nerves of the people. When space is aplenty and one needs not bang into another so frequently, community living is a joy, or at least bearable. When one starts to bump into one another in every corner, the nerves are likely to flare. When have people become so irritated with the aunties and uncles spending their time at the void decks or children playing in the HDB estates? Such problems will keep on increasing as the population grows. Those crazy people who want a 10m population here need to be sent to the firing squad. Oh, I just say this figuratively hor. Even husband and wife will get onto one another’s nerves when the novelty of marriage life starts to wear. The little irritating habits when repeated or accumulated and prolonged can be unbearable. This paradise will soon be turned into an inhabitable place when neighbours will start to give hostile stares at one another, commuters punch ups in public transports or people fighting in hawker centres or on the streets. The white mice effect is about to erupt if we are still complacent and think it is ok.
I disagree with Temasek Review, or more specifically with an article titled, Buoyant property prices a sign of rising debt as opposed to rising wealth? by a Singaporean. This is what I disagree with and I quote the first paragraph, With property prices escalating into no man’s land, we see paper wealth rise with the proportion of debt. This is brought about by loose housing policies coupled with the loose granting of Permanent Residence to foreigners, this diabolic formula creates a surge in demand, and inflates prices way beyond their actual value and affordability. Ok, I disagree only with the last phrase which I have highlighted in bold. Who says our property prices are way beyond their actual value? Our property prices are exactly what they are, determined by the market of course. And no one can fight or manipulate the market. It is real market price. And secondly, who says they are beyond Singaporeans’ affordah..bility? I read everywhere in the media and in official speeches that Singapore property prices are affordable. And the govt is ensuring that they are affordable. So they must be affordable. Period. Ok, I must agree that high property prices mean high debt. High debt means high risk and can be turned into a nightmare for the debtors. I pray they don’t have to jump off their market value and affordah…ble properties when a crash comes along.
Those trading in stocks and shares or in financial products are quite familiar with the term bucket shop. The term is often not look at kindly and smell of distrust and a con job. They are supposed to trade in commodities like coffee bean, sugar, oil, wheat, pork belly etc etc. The general impression is that new investors often were attracted by the good returns and also tended to make money in the first few trades. Subsequently they will lose their pants, lock, stock and barrel. They have a similar modus operandi. They make sales talks of good returns to their potential customers. And whatever trades they ‘executed’ in the early part of the game often ended in big winnings. Then they will advise the investors to put in more money for bigger wins. Most investors obliged thinking that it was so easy to make money. And they will pump in more money and will receive monthly statements of winnings that will make them smile. The catch is that they cannot withdraw whatever money they put in. Their brokers will try all means to prevent them from withdrawing their money. These could be sweet words of good returns or more schemes to keep their money in. And if they fail to persuade the investors from withdrawing, the investors will be hit with their first shock, losses. All their trades will now be reported as losses and big losses. And any withdrawal will be less than they put in or even nothing left. In worst cases, they even owe money to the bucket shops from big losses. The trick of bucket shops is to keep asking their clients to put in more money and more money and to generate glowing reports of profits in their monthly statements. And the clients will be very happy just looking at the reports. What they did not know or did not ask is whether there is really any money left. Often actually not a single cent is there. The money is all gone except on paper, printed in the monthly reports sent to the clients, to make clients happy and to encourage clients to put in money into a bottomless pit. In short, this is what bucket shop is all about. Put in money and don’t expect to see it anymore.
Just read this from the TOC site. They have received an email saying that the PM will be gazetting it as a political association. By this it means that it cannot receive financial and other support from foreigners. My crystal ball says that in the next election TOC may go all out to be a political party and contest the election with its own slate of candidates. And my feeling is that their candidates could be as worthy as any candidates to be field by the rest of the parties. This is an interesting development in the politics of Singapore. Go for it TOC.
Several hot issues were raised in Parliament yesterday. High COE price was expected to be in discussion. Though the outcome was that measures have already been taken to prevent speculation, the most crucial part that contributed to the high COE price was left untouched. The present system is flawed in the sense that a bidder can bid any astronomical price without having to pay for it and only pays at the lowest successful bid price. If nobody can see that this is a big flaw and should be removed, nothing else needs to be said except to live with this brilliant system. The MOE scholar’s involvement in child pornography was another hot issue. Lee Bee Wah suggested that schools should divulge more information on scholarship applicants for the ministries to make more comprehensive assessments before granting scholarships. This is definitely a good suggestion. I have a better one. Parents must also declare the misdeeds of their wards applying for scholarship. You just don’t know what they did at home or out of school. See, all areas covered. Sure no more errant scholars. Another interesting issue was on parental responsibility in raising children. Parents who are unable to take good care of their children will have their children taken away. Let’s welcome 1984 with open arms. Now we can have another kind of police squad calling on the homes to take away children. And the state should take over the responsibility of raising these children. Sylvia Lim and Halimah Yaacob were against such an idea as it may break up families. And rightly, as they said, who is better to provide parental care other than the parents. Another MP suggested educating the parents on how to bring up children. I got a better idea. No one can get married unless they attended and passed a course in parenthood. A Parenthood Certificate will be the pre requisite to register a marriage. Without proper education, once married and children are born, it will be too late. Rice is cooked. Let’s prepare the rice first before they are cooked. Wow, I am coming up with so many brilliant suggestions for free.
The stealth fighters, the carrier killer missiles, the anti satellite missiles, have changed the picture of American dominance in the military theatre. They were once untouchable. They were once the only one who could attack any country without being attacked. That was how powerful and formidable the empire was. Now the balance of power is changing. No doubt the Americans are still Number One. But it is so cheap to send 20 carrier killer missiles to sink an aircraft carrier and 7000 crews and a few hundred aircraft plus munition for desserts. How could China win a war with the Americans without fighting? Just read the panic in the American Defence Dept on China’s revelation of a stealth fighter and you will know what I mean. Yes, the Chinese is very far behind in military technology. But there is fear in the Americans that the Chinese are getting closer. And they need to run faster, much faster. They, I mean the Americans. Their military doctrine is all about unmatchable superiority in fire power and technology. They want to keep at a far distance from the rest of the world. What does this mean? They need to spend more to be much further ahead of China or their nearest competitor. And all China needs to do is to keep on the chase. For every dollar the Chinese spent, the Americans will be spending ten thousand times more. At this rate, the American economy will simply break down. They don’t have the dough and cannot afford it. Keeping up will mean bankrupting the Treasury faster. The Americans will revolt when they become the new pauper of the 21st Century. They will not believe that they cannot afford to buy cheap Chinese made toys for Christmas. When that day comes, which is very soon, they will break up into several independent states. China should just keep pushing the Americans to bankrupt themselves. That’s the way to do it.
More upgrading projects in the GRCs! And each upgrading is in the tune of a few hundred millions. All in all, the number could come up to several billions. And the residents rose in approvals. They loved it. I am not sure if they asked for it. How many of these upgrading projects would really affect the residents? The beautifying of the infrastructure is just like women cosmetics, costume jewelry and pretty dresses. Fine, all looks fine. It is belly good to have all the upgradings, like it or not, coming from the govt. No need to bother about who is paying for them. Can the govt allow or ask the people what do they want? Why give things that many may not be interested in? Shouldn’t the upgrading or Christmas present be given according to the needs of the people rather than what the govt thinks the people want? There is one area that really needs an upgrading. Given the spiraling cost of living and the emptying of the people’s savings, what is really needed is an upgrade in the people’s bank accounts. The billions that are going into all the cosmetics and costume jewelry would be better received if they go direct to the people’s pockets. Hey, the people’s pocket is all that counts. Didn’t someone say that hitting the people’s pocket is the most effective means of getting the people to respond to any govt initiatives? Maybe taking is easy, giving and putting back into the people’s pocket is difficult. After all these are monies taken from the people and rightfully should go back to the people. And to be meaningful and really appreciated, it is better to stuff them into the people's pockets.
China’s Vice Premier Li KeQiang is in Europe on a 4 day tour ‘to bring coal in a snowy winter’. China has been on an offensive of a different kind, bringing loads of cash to help cash strapped European countries to manage their financial debt. It kinds of steam rolled Spain by promising to buy up all its debt to boost confidence in Spain and its financial market. It signed trade deals worth billions to increase trades with Europe when it needed most. In the meantime where is America? America is steely bent on conquering the world in another way, to build an empire. While China does not have a single soldier involved in any war, the Americans are everywhere fighting wars and starting wars. War is the only profitable business that is driving the American economy and without wars, the American economy will run aground. It is reported by the Washington Post that the American defence budget is US$550b, equivalent to what the next 19 nations in the world spent, or ‘nearly half of the entire world’s defence spending’. It is a misnomer to call it a defence budget. It should rightly be called a War Budget! It is a budget to conduct offensive wars. And America is accusing China of spending too much on its defence budget and that China is an aggressive nation. And its allies also chimed in to brand China as irresponsible. Who is the more responsible power? Who is helping the world and who is starting and fighting wars are all there for those who want to see. Those who want to remain blind and swear under American propaganda can continue to do so. The Americans wanted to conquer and dominate the world by sheer military might. China is ‘conquering’ the world by economic ties, trades and developments. Who is the irresponsible nation? Who is helping Europe when it needed help most? Who almost brought down the world’s financial system and who stepped in to save the system?
Human beans have survived several thousand years and have progressed in many fields. Advancement in science and technology, knowledge and information, have led the human beans to discard many age old beliefs and superstitions for the better. The next lunar new year is the year of the Rabbit. It is a more agreeable animal and hopefully a less traumatic but amiable year. Wedding bells will be abundant looking at the bookings in the posh hotels. There is also the dragon baby to look forward to. The young of today are not only adventurous and financially comfortable, that is before they are robbed of a few hundred thousands to buy that property and the car, and would want to splurge for the best on that special day in their lives. Among other things, they want it to be memorable, and different. Yes, that day must be different from anyone else. The wedding is a very important event in the life of any human bean across all cultures. The Chinese is very particular about this event and have developed a long list of do’s and don’ts to abide by. A wedding is like a red letter day, a red occasion, a joyous occasion, and everything must be red as humanly possible. Red dress, red packets, red pigs, red beddings, red candles …. One taboo colour is black. Black symbolises everything that is contrary to red, darkness, sadness, evil, mourning etc etc. I have seen several weddings in black! At the wedding dinner, the groom wore black, black table cloth, black eating utensils, all for wanting to be different. A friend of mine had a black wedding dinner for his son. Of course he could not object as the young have their own ideas. His business went down hill after that eventful day and everything he touched he lost money. Coincidence, maybe. Those in touch with the gossip circles must have heard of more dreadful stories that followed after a black wedding. My advice is never defy traditions for the sake of being different. And having a red wedding or any colour except black is not going to cost anything more. The young should not be too adventurous on their wedding day. You would not know what is installed in darkness, or who will come along to attend a black wedding. And a little more, everything must be in pairs. Numbers must be even and not odd. Odd numbers but in even quantity eg four ones or threes are acceptable. Just be careful, huh.
A loan shark runner was sentenced to 5 years behind bars and 24 strokes of the rotan. Thanks to District Judge Jasbendar Kaur for a deserving punishment. This runner burnt cars, set things on fires outside innocent dwellers in HDB flats, threatening and targeting innocent people when he could not get to his real targets. The damage he caused were more than $100k in cars burnt. He did all this to repay the loan shark called Jack whom he borrowed $3000. Good that he is behind bars and waiting to be caned. But where is Jack?
Yes, I have failed in my mission to bring down medical cost. Over the last four years, instead of bring down medical cost, they have spiralled by very substantial amounts. I am talking about increases of 50% to 90%. I must thank Salma Khalik for her data to confirm, without any doubt, that I have failed very badly. I think I should from now on stop talking cock about medical cost and how to bring it down. And now for the good news about rising medical cost. Salma Khalik has interviewed Boon Wan and these are some of the good news and developments in the medical field that partly contributed to the high medical cost. 1. Don’t worry, despite the big hospital bills, the patients have no difficulties paying them. Isn’t that comforting? 2. And there are the wonderful 3M schemes to pay the bills, some up to 100%. So no need to pay more cash, maybe $3 only. 3. And the bills could be even more if not of the brilliant scheme to move not so sick patients out of hospitals to community hospitals and nursing homes. Big savings there. 4. Day surgery also plays a big role in cutting down the overall bills. 5. The hospitals have also been very customer oriented, to ensure patient satisfaction and allowed them to choose non standard items that are not subsidised. So they cannot complain about higher bills. And definitely they are happy to pay more to be better satisfied. 6. The best part, the bottom line ‘We have good high standard public hospitals that are affordable because of 3Ms. Ok I have failed. On the other hand Boon Wan has done a terrific job and we have a very high standard of medical care at very affordable prices. This reminds me of HDB flats affordability. The only difference is that HDB you got to pay. In medical bills, no need to pay, or pay very little, because 3Ms pay for you.
The Malaysians are getting more aggressive in their forays into foreign business. In economic terms, being aggressive is ok. The Malaysians have a big picture and a new ball game to play in Singapore. With everything on the table for sale, the Malaysians are making hay while the sun shines. First they bought over GK Goh Stockbrokers, now they are buying Kim Eng Securities. In Singapore, the stockbroking business is seen as a sunset industry, dying. So Singapore stockbrokers have been advised to sell off this dying business. In Malaysia they must have been advised otherwise. They must still believe that it is a golden goose that will lay more eggs into the future. Who is right and who is wrong only time will tell. In the Malaysian big plan I think they will not stop at just buying two broking houses. Next could be one of the big banks. DBS should be very attractive when the price is right. How about SIA? This will be the apple of their eyes to replace MAS. And if they can buy over PSA, there is no need to worry about Gelang Patah. They can even promote PSA to the fullest and export all their goods through Singapore. And they would probably need a 3rd and 4th links. There are many more worthy assets to buy over. Keep the momentum going. This is simply brilliant. While Singapore is strategizing on how to integrate into Malaysia, Malaysia has its own idea on how to integrate Singapore into Malaysia.
Not too long ago there was this brilliant businessman with an equally brilliant idea to profit from his trading business. Oh, they don’t called businessmen brilliant then, but astute. Today they will probably tagged them as super talents if they can come up with devious schemes to max profits, even if it means fleecing their customers. What the businessman did was to simply corner the rice market, a monopoly or a cartel, and then control the demand and supply of rice. He could then determine whatever price he wanted. Nothing spectacular, and no need a Ph D to come up with such a scheme. But making huge indecent profits at the expense of the customers was not an acceptable thing to do, then. The govt immediately swung into action. It needed to protect the interest of the people. That was the morality and value of the day. A govt importing agency was set up to counter this move. The businessman was outsmarted and lost, his scheme was not allowed to become a reality. And the people’s interest was safe guarded. Morality and values have changed. Today, anyone with any idea or scheme to fleece their customers and max profits for the organization will be treated like a hero. They will ascend the ladder to super talent status. Take the staple rice as an example again. This time round, if someone is to come out with an idea on how to profit from this item, I think he would be patted on the back and say ‘Good work’. The idea could be something like this. Ok, first the moral justification. This must be put right first, even if it is rubbish. But must still make it sounds right. Rice is a staple food, and a scarce resource. People should not waste rice. Importing rice is also a drain on our foreign exchange. With such reasons in place, now the brilliant scheme can be enforced. Because rice is so important and cannot be wasted, people must be encouraged to eat less rice and waste less rice. How to do it? Hit the people where it hurts, their pockets. The price of rice shall now be double. Profit immediately doubles. But this is not enough. Each household is rationed at 2 kg of rice per month. Household consuming more than 2 kg shall pay a surtax of 30%. What is this for? How to justify this? Elementary, this is to educate the people on the importance of rice and not to waste rice or eat too much rice. See, more profits coming in. Wow, with such a brilliant idea, I am even thinking betterer than the professors from the best universities in the USA. I think I shall award myself the title of Eminent Professor of Economics. And Wally will say, hehe : ) And Matilah will say don't talk cock, so and so has written this in his book in year 1955.
This article is on the front page of Today paper called ‘Missed opportunity in parking policy’. It was written by a smart professor, a foreign talent of course, called Paul Barker. Actually it does not need a professor to think of market pricing for car parks. I can do better, not bluffing, if my intention is to rob the motorists. The gist of the article is that car parks should be priced according to demand and supply, using market mechanism. I couldn’t help laughing. Applying it will just go the HDB way, the ERP way, the COE way. When supply exceeds demand it will only mean one thing, UP! Imagine what parking fees will be in the CBD if parking is charged according to market mechanism? Bee tang to the operators! Our physical constraints make market mechanism impractical. It is suicidal to go that way. Market mechanism cannot be blindly applied to housing, cars, car parks, medical services, and many other things here!
My friend related this incident to me. His rich Malaysian client came to Singapore to open a joint account with his daughter. The client has already an account in this stupid bank. You know what? They made him wait for two hours before attending to him. He got so frustrated that he even closed his existing account and went to another local bank to open his account. And the service was simply swift and efficient. The stupid bank simply lost a big customer and not only that, its bad service will be spread by this client to his friends. And better still, this stupid bank is in the process of doing something unproductive, like checking on old records of clients and if the photocopies of ICs in their record are not to their liking they are asking their clients to make another copy for their records. They think the clerks in the banks have nothing useful to kill time but their high net worth clients will have time to take the trouble to make photocopies of ICs to send to the stupid bank. Instead of doing business or making things easy for its clients, it chose to irritate clients with its stupidity and arrogance. Ridiculous but the stupid bank will claim that it is efficiency and the right thing to do.
In politics, some truths are just too uncomfortable and difficult to be spoken. It is not that they are difficult to understand. It could be the simplest thing, a common knowledge, and like the proverbial elephant in the classroom, no one admits that it is there. Take for example the Gang of Four in China during the Cultural Revolution. Whenever the Chinese mentioned the Gang of Four, they would put up five fingers. The fifth finger stood for the unspoken truth. We have our own version of unspoken truth. In fact we have many unspoken truths. Internet and blogs have allowed some to surface and spoken brazenly as they really are. However, in the old media or in cocktail gossips, many would just look at one another in the eyes, perhaps with a little smile or an obliging nod when the unspoken truth happened to be the topic. Singaporeans are not dumb. They just pretend to be stupid or innocent, or even naïve by not talking about the unspoken truth. Take the issue of the disappearing savings of the Singaporeans, their hard earned savings all these years, who have robbed them of it? Singaporeans could have a lot of money saved, in the CPF or in their bank accounts. Why are Singaporeans feeling so poor, with their savings gone? Some may say the savings are transferred, from cash in the savings accounts to assets. So Singaporeans have some expensive assets like housing and cars and pieces of paper called COEs. Could Singaporeans continue to own their properties and cars and still have a lot of cash in their savings? Possible? If the answer is yes, then someone must have robbed them of their savings? The answer is in the difficult and unspoken truth.