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2/28/2011

We need more Chee Soon Juans in Parliament

Chiam See Tong may be able to anchor a team to win a GRC. I hope he delivers. But what is badly needed in Parliament is more Chee Soon Juans. Personally I think he is the most wronged person in politics. He has given his all, his career, his family and his life to politics, to serve Singapore. If this is not sacrifice, what else is? It is time that the people appreciate his contribution and give him their votes to bring him into Parliament. Having one Chee Soon Juan is not the end as a lonely figure in Parliament is not a joking matter. He could be drowned by laughters, and that is all there is to keep him on the defensive. He needs a team of several Chee Soon Juans to stand up to the wolf pack. And a few Chee Soon Juans can only do good for the people of Singapore. There is a need for an opposition voice, a real opposition voice, in Parliament. And if there is a time for it, this GE is the best opportunity to make it happened. The set back in the Reform Party must be taken in its stride and the best of the opposition must be given a chance to represent and speak for the people. Without an opposition voice, we can expect more of what we have already knew, and more akan datang. More of everything is affordable. No matter how good a solitary ruling party is, I think by now the people are wiser and know what is for their own good. A bigger and louder opposition voice is begging to be represented and heard in Parliament. Our first world country with first world political and economic system, with first world citizens, now with more foreign talents becoming citizens, more first world, must surely be able to withstand the presence of a few more opposition members in Parliament. Not the NMP or the NCMP kind. It would not collapse. If it does, like sand castle, then it is not worth keeping. We need a more resilient and durable political system that can last.

2/27/2011

Tragedy of ignorance, irresponsibility or plain stupidity?

Lily Neo related this story of a 45 year old jobless woman. She has ‘five children aged 9 to 20 and a grandson living in a two room rental flat. She remarried recently, but her husband is also unemployed. The sole breadwinner is the 20 year old son, who has primary school education and earns $650 a month doing odd jobs. Her two daughters aged 9 and 12 are not doing well in school. Her 13 year old son has dropped out. And her 18 year old daughter has a 5 year old son.’ In the 1950s or earlier, in a rural environment, life will go on just like the border towns of Thailand/Myanmar/Kampuchea or in some parts of third world countries. The people live off the land, build a hut with some leaves and called it home. They will survive without education, with little food and little needs. In the 21st Century, in the heart of a big city, you cannot live life that way. Everything costs money, rentals, food and all the basic needs. Why is such a thing still happening in our society? Who is at fault? How much can the govt do to help these people? Are such tragedies avoidable? Just ponder. These people have the right to live, make love and procreate. Can anyone say they need to have a COE for doing such basic things? Can any govt take tough measures against the right to live, to make love, and to procreate? Is there a solution? Is there a problem in the first place? If we cannot recognise the problem, then there is no problem and no need for a solution. If we do not know that there is a problem, better still, no problem. Where is the ostrich?

This is home, truly…

Is Singapore a home or a hotel? The traditional understanding of a home is a place where one grows up and has many fond memories of, old places, faces, smell and a lot of stories to feel nostalgic about. It is about belonging, a familiar place to touch base. The features of modern living and being Singaporeans today are about change. Everything is changing, from the infrastructure and road maps to the faces of people on the street, the odour and the sight and sound, never the same before. We have people moving in and out of the island, citizens become non citizens, non citizens become citizens. We move homes like changing clothes. All the memories of childhood were wiped away for development and progress. The moving and changing even goes down to being a part of a place or constituency. Today part of Hougang, tomorrow part of East Coast, then become single wards, then GRCs. Today serve by this MP, tomorrow by another. With all the continuous changes in our lives, from the familiar to the unfamiliar, can we really feel that this is home? No wonder they are saying that as a nation, we are still a work in progress, starting all over again and again. Our roots have very few things to anchor on. Our friends were always new, our neighbours new, our MPs also new. We are less than 50 years old, and our accumulated past have already been wiped away by economic and progress. This is home, truly? Work in progress?

2/26/2011

How could Singaporeans be not grateful?

It has never occurred to me that a medical bill can go beyond a million bucks. (Ok, I know I am not living in this glittering world). It was shocking to hear that it could be $24.8 million. I was always shaken by a $20k or $100k bill. It only shows how ignorant I am in the world of the very rich when paying a few million bucks is nothing. Singaporeans who have to pay $100k or $30k for a medical bill must be grateful that it is such a small sum to pay. And those who kpkb about a 5c hike in transport fare or a 10c in kopi O, please lah, have a life. You people are not worthy of living if you have to kpkb about such trivials. The $24.8 million bill must have awakened many people that their lives are actually not worth living. How could people be spending that kind of money as if money is nothing? That is another point. Next time when one got admitted to our world class hospitals, privatized or whatever, don’t complain about the bill. It is very cheap. And be very grateful to ministers who have to give up their lucrative medical careers to serve the people and country. For doing that, they are sacrificing a career that could mean several millions of income per month for a $3m annual salary. Be grateful and be thankful that we have such good people making such big sacrifices. And also be grateful that the minister is trying to raise your savings in the Medisave account to several hundred thousands. The reason now is obvious. Medical bills in privatized govt hospitals are cheap but can still be in the hundreds of thousands. The current minimum of $33k or there about are simply peanuts. Definitely not enough! Be appreciative of the govt helping to plan for you to pay your medical bills when you least expect it. The masses may be ignorant and not thinking, thank god the govt is thinking for them every day, for their own good. Singaporeans are indeed a lucky lot.

2/25/2011

The Grand Old Man of the Opposition

Whenever I look at Chiam See Tong and his physical condition, I shook my head and quietly told myself that he should retire from politics. Then I read these comments from him when asked why he wants to continue in his condition, I understood. These are what he said, But you know, this isn’t a hard job, he said.. In fact, it is harder to bring up a family with little income. It is harder competing for jobs with foreign talents. It is harder to look after a disabled child, or an elderly parent It is harder to afford hospital bills for your family. These, are hard jobs that Singaporeans are facing. And it will get tougher. He is doing it for a cause, to want to do something for the people. With all the odds and physical limitations, he is struggling to fight another fight which is no easy thing to do. He is the Grand Old Man of the Opposition, a man with a mission for the people of Singapore. He walks his talks. Good men are rare to find. He is one of the few left. He never claims to have sacrificed anything. He just do it. What a man!

When supply and demand are not elastic

The basis of a free enterprise economic system is based on the elasticity of supply and demand. And there must be plentiful of supply, ie choices, and plentiful of demand, ie people can afford to buy whatever they want. Without this elasticity, a free enterprise economy is doomed for self destruct. Today we are seeing more and more evidence of what an uninterrupted and skewed economy can become a living hell to many and heaven to a few. Hey, isn’t that a truism, that only a few will be in heaven and the rest be in hell? Take drinking water as an illustration. If the supply of drinking water is controlled by a mean owner, he can literally sell a cup of drinking water at $100 or at whatever price he demands. Everyone kwai kwai must pay. It is only the wisdom of time that govts of today imposed regulations on the distribution of essential and basic goods and services. Of course the temptation of free enterprise and the grostesque profits it can make often proved too tempting that devious reasons were used to perpetuate free private enterprises. The mantra of market forces know best and are best for buyer and seller is the wisdom of today. This is the biggest myth that the masses have been led to believe. For many economies, or many goods and services, the perfect market condition is just not there. The result is abuse of the free enterprise system. There are times when control and regulations must be imposed, with good intention as a prerequisite, to ensure a fair and equitable system for the people in general. A time has now come to upturn the concept of property speculation in a small piece of rock. Properties cannot continue to be speculated simply for profit basis. It is an essential piece of basic needs and must be heavily regulated. Unrestrained property speculation for profits only benefitted the few who will get richer at the expense of the larger majority. Making matter worst is that foreign speculators in the name of investors, came in to profit and disappear with their gains and leaving the locals with a baby that becomes a heavy burden for life. The madness of property speculation, of property as a good investment, has transformed itself into a dangerous animal to the demise of many average home owners. With so many negative factors that will only contribute to higher and higher property prices, a fundamental change in housing policy must be looked at now. It is no joke when a person has to work his guts out, for the rest of his life, just to have a roof over his head. It does not make sense anymore.

2/24/2011

A second career in politics

Gilbert Goh has joined and left the Reform Party. Heard that he is now with another party. People like Gilbert, in fact there are many professionally trained and experienced people who have retired or in between jobs, should take up politics as a second career. The experience and wisdom they bring along after years of hard knocks will give them a more mature perspective of the expectation of life and what they can do for the people. And many of them are very able and could do much instead of waiting for another job. A politician is a full time job, a career and a worthy one, and a worthwhile one as an occupation. What are they waiting for? Get together some like minded people, ten or twenty and that will be a good start and nucleus for a new political party. Joining an existing political party is easier but it means accepting all the culture and history and philosophy of that party. Starting a clean slate with some people one knows better is more desirable and easier to move on without any old garbage. The young retirees are at the prime of their lives and have many more good years to go. What is there to lose when there is so much to gain?

Of moles and conspiracies in Singapore politics

The latest break away in the Reform Party saddens those who are hoping against all hopes that a reasonably able alternative party could appear in the next general election. The longing for a stronger alternative voice in Parliament was seeing some light at the end of the tunnel until this happened. Some able and young aspiring politicians quit, and in so doing dashes the hope of a good contest in the GE. Many speculations were floating around as to why the break at this critical time. Conspiracies, moles, inept or personality conflicts or whatever, all breeds nothing good for the cause of an alternative voice. The most distaste reason, if it turns out to be true, is to have moles working from within a party to bring it down. The country deserves good people, people with integrity, to come forward to serve the nation. Good people, whether from the ruling party or alternative parties, are good people. Politics may be a dirty game to some, but it should not be made dirtier by people with lesser integrity, to play the role of moles to undermine another party. Good and talented people must have self respect and not to be involved in such roles for the good of themselves, the country and the people. It is not worth it to compromise one’s self respect and integrity to do such dirty works for any reasons. For the moment this is all speculation. I doubt anyone with some intelligence and dignity, and worthy to be a leader and a man, or a woman, would stoop so low to become moles. The conflicts in political parties are inevitable as different personalities and objectives are involved. For whatever reasons, the interest of the nation and the people must be above all else, and all private personal interests. Let’s pray that we will have good and decent people in the ruling party as well as the alternative parties to be leaders of the country.

The Good and Bad News of inflation

January’s 5.5% hike in inflation is the second highest in two years. If this goes on every month, the inflation for the whole year will be probably 3 to 3.5%. Pardon my poor arithmetic. See the good and the bad news? Inflation is good news really. The higher the better. It means that the economy is doing very well and people have a lot of money to spend and can afford to pay more and more. Look at the high property prices and the high COEs, where got problem. The queues are there everyday.. For property buyers, the higher the inflation, the longer will be the queue as they will make instant profit after every purchase. The price will shoot up everyday. Buying property will be such a wonderful experience. A commentator, couldn’t remember his name, said that this high inflation is already expected. So nothing to worry about. It is all well planned and managed. Looking at how comfortable and happy Singaporeans are today, we can actually use inflation as a measurement of happiness index. The higher the inflation, the happier the people. At least 80% of property owners (HDB owners) will be praying that inflation goes through their flat roofs and all can be instant multi millionaires. Good for the coming general election.

2/23/2011

Amidst chaos there is a golden lining

The Middle East is in turmoil. New Zealand’s Christchurch is in rubbles with many dead or waiting to be rescued. The Asian stock markets tumbled with many incurring huge losses. Everything is looking bleak despite a people’s budget to help the lower income earners to overcome the inflation beast. But not all is lost or not all is bad news. I just read that there is a profession that could bring in a revenue of $24.8 m over 7 months of work. This works out to be roughly about $3.5m every month. Not bad for a job when compared to our ministers earning that in a year. Now I can even say that minister’s pay is peanuts. If there is any job that I wanna be, this must be the job, a surgeon. This is the bill Dr Susan Lim charged to her patient, a royalty from Brunei. The bill has become a controversy and is fully reported in the ST today. It was also reported that the final bill, after discounts and whatever, is now about a quarter of the original bill and still unpaid. Even at one quarter the sum of $800k a month is still a princely sum. All I can say is nice. I wish I could have such an income. I am drooling and all wet thinking of the bill. World class medical treatment will come with world class bill for world class quality of professional services. You want the best, be prepared to pay for the best. Is this a Guinness Record? A $8 bill for a heart bypass must be a steal. Please don't complain about how expensive our public privatised hospital bills are. Be really grateful.

2/22/2011

Conning the silly Asian Asses

The big Western banks and funds are managed by their best financial and engineering talents and are out to rob the world. They have conceived and designed the most complicated and advanced financial systems that almost guaranteed maximum profits and minimum losses to themselves. And they are selling these systems to the silly Asian Asses who bought them hook, line and sinkers. They only need to dangle the carrot of a combined war chest of several hundred billions of cash. They will bring the cash to the silly Asian Asses if the latter would abide by their terms and conditions, and how the game should be played. They can’t be bringing their war chest to give away to the silly Asian Asses for sure. They are there to rob! The American regulators have now understood how and what these reckless and irresponsible bankers are doing, gambling with high stakes, using other people’s money. They can’t lose, except other people’s money. And they stand to win and line their pockets with millions when they have control of the game. Paul Geithner in his latest speech called for an international system to prevent these rogues from gambling and robbing the innocent investors of their money. America is working out a system to tighten and regulate the activities of these big financial robbers and wanted the rest of the world to implement the same tight regulations to curb this menace. Geithner wanted to see a level playing field to prevent these rogues from moving from one country to another where the legislation and regulation are lax to enable them to do damage to the innocent. For the moment, the silly Asian Asses still have greed covering their eyes and could not see the harm and damage that these rogues could create to their financial systems even when billions have been extracted and robbed from their local investors. When would it end, when would deregulation be stopped and more regulations be introduced to protect the integrity of the financial systems across the world?

Of Glorious Past

Egypt, India and China were three old civilizations that survived the times, intact. They were once the centre of civilizations, the centre of knowledge, culture, science and engineering, philosophy and the arts. And for many centuries their people were proud of their achievements. The pyramids and astronomy were the pride of the Egyptians, the Yogas, religions and great architectural wonders were what Indians were known for, the Chinese bragged about gun powder and printing blocks. Those were their glorious pasts. Obsolete! Then a quiet industrial revolution took off in little Europe and the little countries became empire builders. They ran over the Egyptians, the Indians and Chinese and made themselves masters of these people. The great civilizations became history, and its people and culture were scorned upon as bankrupt ideas. For centuries, they became the laggards of civilizations. But their glories lived on in the minds of many, including lesser countries around the world. Many still hold them in awe as centres of learning and are sending their next generations to learn ancient knowledge and past glories that are of little relevance to the modern world. There are signs of revival in India and China, to reclaim their past greatness and be recognized again as respectable civilizations. Thanks to little Singapore, the Chinese came and learn, and brought home our model of development, studied, improved on it and adapted it for their own development. They have surpassed Singapore by leaps and bounds. And they are not looking back. What could little Singapore offer to an ancient civilization of several thousand years? Singapore may be a flash in the pan, a little light from a shooting star in the dark sky, but Singapore can be that flash of light in a sea of ignorance. Singapore may fade away fast, but it has its little moment of brightness, to light up the dark sky and to show the way. Ancient civilizations, no matter how great, will need to adapt to the changes of modernity, adapt and reinvent themselves, or they will become the ruins of history. India and China have sent many of their youngs to the centres of modern knowledge in the West, to learn from the very best, to feed, cloth and house their people, to give them a better life. If they have not done that and continue to live in their past glories, what would be the fate of their people today? Or how far could they advance if they have chosen to send their young to learn the ancient ways in Egypt? Would they be wasting their money and resources and talents to learn to live in the past, with ancient wisdom, knowledge and values?

2/21/2011

Difficult to make distinction between new and old citizens

Is it so difficult? With the computerization of all records and data, what is so difficult? The issue is whether there is a need to differentiate new and old citizens? On face value it is easy to accept that all citizens should be treated equally and be entitled to all the rights and privileges without distinction. A citizen is a citizen. Under the law, all citizens are equal. What about citizens who did and did not sacrifice the 2 to 2 and half years in NS? What about the wealth of the nation accumulated over the years by the older citizens and bearing fruits today? Should the new citizens be entitled to all the same rewards from the earlier contributions of the old citizens especially when the sum is very significant like housing ‘subsidies’ and govt handouts like the cash being given to the citizens? Things like paying of school fees, rights to register for schools, taxes, GST, rights to vote are less ambiguous and less contentious. Should new citizens be allowed to stand for election without time qualifications? Surely there are things that must be put in the right perspective instead of promptly being brushed aside as a non issue. No need to ponder a second longer. There is another important reason why there should be a distinction. The number of new citizens minted are in such big numbers and in a furious speed that they will soon be as many as the old citizens. Is this a cause for alarm?

Slow ride to Mumbai

The train was crowded as usual in the morning. I closed my eyes after finding a spot to rest my feet and to enjoy a quiet morning ride. The air was scented by a little bit of jasmine and other flowers, and a heavy dosage of coconut oil. Then came the beat of Bollywood that filled the whole cabin to complete the experience. My fingers started tapping, and slowly my head and shoulder too responded uncontrollably to the catchy beat. My memory slided back to the 1950s. Three blocks of 4 storey flats bounded by Nelson Road and Borneo Road facing Gate 5 of the then Singapore Harbour Board were the quarters for its workers. I don’t remember that they had to pay for rent. The centre block was occupied by the Chinese coolies working as stevedores and riggers or just plain labourers. The other two blocks were homes to the Indian labourers in the same trades. Traffic was sparse and the air was quiet in the early morning hours. And sound travelled far and loud. And there was music in the air from radio in full blast. The older version beat before the times of modern Bollywood greeted everyone, and every morning, in the neighbourhood. And there was some incense too, curry and prata delighted the taste buds of morning workers. Then the speaker came on, ‘Next station, Raffles Place.’ Immediately I was brought back to the 21st Century city state. For a brief moment I thought I was heading to Mumbai. Thanks for the memory, SMRT.

2/20/2011

People, go down on your knees

The people of Singapore, new and old citizens, must go down on their knees for this windfall of money given to them by the govt. Do they know where the money comes from or is coming from? Never mind, be grateful and just say thank you. And please stay there, on your knees and don't get up. For the next spate of price and fee increases will make your knees wobble. And you may have to be on your knees to beg for mercy. Just my imagination. It won't happen...not again and again. For those who have a gripe about treating foreigners or new citizens better, they may want to ask whether a new citizen of yesterday would also receive the full benefits of an aging citizen who have threw in his lot with this country for the last 50 or 60 years, contributing to the reserves and everything to produce this windfall? Maybe new citizens would not get the same amount, at least those who did not do NS will get $100 less. It is a very beneficial option to be citizens and be given cash just being a citizen. I think the application queue will get longer by another mile. Applying to be citizens is like applying to get free money.

A new model for Egypt?

Yang Razali Kassim wrote an article in the ST yesterday on Indonesia as a possible role model for the new Egypt. The assumption is that there is real change with the fall of Mubarak. Some are wondering whether there is any change at all and whether everything is as before with power in the hands of the old guards, and the Emperor still in control. But this is another issue that will become clearer when the dust settles. Yang Razali has pondered whether Indonesia is a good alternative political system for Egypt and the Middle East. The thought of Indonesia as a model for an ancient civilisation which is the pride of the Arab world is a refreshing change. It shows a shift in the mindset of what can be good for the Islamic world. And now, Indonesia and even Malaysia, could stand out as good alternatives to the Middle Eastern political system. They have not been doing well and not exemplary on any count. Nothing to crow about. At least Indonesia and Malaysia are truly independent countries and not controlled by foreign powers, and are models of economic growth and development. The rest of the Islamic world outside the Middle East have always looked towards this centre for everything, education, culture, social and lifestyle, and of course religion. The question is whether the Middle East lives up to its reputation or perceived greatness for the rest of the Islamic world to emulate. Looking at Indonesia and Malaysia, it is apparent that these two countries are more successful in their social and economic development. Should it then be the Middle East looking to Southeast Asia, particularly Indonesia and Malaysia, as the role model for the future? Should Indonesia and Malaysia look West to the Middle East and give up their rich cultural heritage to be more like Arabs or vice versa? What the Middle East can offer so far is religion and an ancient culture that is not going anywhere except towards the medieval age. In contrast, Indonesia and Malaysia are moving forward to science and technology, with religion as one of the pillars of their social political framework. The Middle East is all about religion and religion and the times of Muhammed. There is a contention between modernity, science and technology versus religiosity, tradition and ancient conservatism. Which shall be the light of the Islamic World? America was the new world of Europe. Can Southeast Asia be the new model for the Middle East?

2/19/2011

Budget – Why so little?

$6.6b with $3.2b angpows for the people were announced by Tharman in his budget speech yesterday. My immediate reaction is why so little? The Americans printed US$600b or nearly S$800b. This is roughly $2,600 per American. We are giving out about $1,000 per citizen. And we are so much richer than the Americans. They are in debt and we have a huge reserve and surpluses every year. We could do much more to help the people in a time when inflation is eating up the income of the people. In 2009, during the financial crisis, the Resilience Budget was $20b. This year we have a bumper harvest and only a $6.6b giveaway. Definitely not good enough. The few thousand dollars are spread too thinly and will disappear in no time. The most crucial issue is how to curb high inflation. Actually no lah, inflation only 3 to 4% according to the latest official reports, where got high. Why are the people complaining about such miniscule inflation? I am also scratching my head. The monthly inflation seemed to vary from 3 to 5% and the whole year inflation is only 3 to 4%. If one simply compound a 3% monthly inflation over 12 months, I am sure is it more than 4%. If really the annual inflation is 3 to 4%, and with income rising above 5%, there is real income growth for the individuals. In that case, the budget is actually a big bonus. There is no real need for an angpow budget and nothing to worry about. What is real? The cost of everything is still rising and unstoppable. This is the frightening part and no amount of angpows and handouts can do much if the outflow is faster and more than the income, angpows and handouts included.

2/18/2011

The Chinese was the worst affected in MTL

As a group, the Chinese was the worst affected group by the Mother Tongue Language policy. Other than the numerous dialects spoken at home, many homes were using Malay or English, or any other languages except Mandarin. Mandarin was a foreign language to the majority of Singaporean Chinese who were mostly southerners. The peranakans spoke a mixture of Hokien and Malay and English. When the policy was introduced, many Chinese children were caught in a very difficult position. The worst affected are the Babas and those who used mainly English at home. Many have opted for Hopson’s Choice and migrated, for the sake of their children’s education. For without a good pass in Mandarin, the door to tertiary education is closed. More importantly, the children would have to struggle with more tuition to try to make the grade. It was misery and a painful childhood to many Chinese children. If any, the Chinese should be the group that would be shouting discrimination and being put in a very disadvantageous position vis a vis the other races. The Malays should have lesser difficulty in MTL as Malay is their mother tongue and spoken at home. I think the Indians too have quite a comparable problem with the Chinese as many spoke different dialects as well as English at home. Some of them also ended up migrating. They too did not shout discrimination. They have accepted the MTL policy grudgingly for national integration. If the Chinese and Indians would have taken the MTL policy badly and protest strongly, the situation could become ugly. Thank god that the MTL issue has subsided and is now part and parcel of life here. There are still problems and are being sorted out. For the Chinese, dialects are disappearing with the passing of the grandpas and grandmas and the younger breed are now speaking English and Mandarin. The new citizens from China would only have to struggle with English. I am not too familiar with the situation among the Indians. Tamil is not the only dialect that is being used at home. Now with the influx of the Northern Indians, there may be contention for the recognition of other Indian languages other than Tamil. This could present another situation as more non Tamil speakers become citizens. The situation among the Malays should be fairly the same then and now.

2/17/2011

Unrest in ME, China and Russia at risk?

This is the way western analysts are thinking and hoping everyday. Tomorrow if there is a health epidemic, a financial meltdown, and industrial or manufacturing mishap, it will be China and Russia or any other country except the US and Europe that will be next in line. These silly no hopers are praying and praying everyday to see the demise of Russia and China but forgetting that the next big collapse could be the US and Europe. The US is all ripe for a revolution with the income gap widening, the middle class becoming poor and beggars, and a national debt that they may not be able to repay short of turning the greenbacks into banana currency. They are still trying to keep the lid close and hoping for a miracle. The whole can of worm could splash out tomorrow and the US could be the beggar overnight. And Europe with several countries already in the critically ill list, and many more to go but not yet disclosed. As long as Russia and China can keep on feeding its people well and improving their standard of living, the West can keep on hoping and praying for their downfall. But before their prayers are answered, the West could have gone to the rubbish dump of history first. All Empires will have to call it a day. The West is no exception. The revolution in the ME is a revolution not only against dictators but a revolution against corruption and poverty, and against Western domination. When the West loses its grip on the ME and its oil, they will come tumbling down like a house of cards.

No growth better than growth

Yes, it sounds contradictory. Growth is the essence of our economy and the vital ingredient to the good life we are having. How can no growth be better than growth? The old mature economies are flowing along with lower growth rate but maintaining a high quality of life. We have experienced many years of high growth and the quality of our life has improved by leaps and bounds. The thing is that we are now witnessing diminishing returns from our growth. In fact, while the rich are getting richer and enjoying real growth, the middle income and lower are not getting better, and many are not enjoying any real growth or bettering their living condition, despite good economic growth. A simple illustration, if economy grows by 5% and income grows by the same amount, broadly speaking, the people should enjoy a 5% growth in their disposable income or spending power. Or at least they should be slightly easier in their pockets. But not everyone got a 5% increase if the economy goes up by 5%. Yes, some got 10% or more increases. That’s why some are doing very well and very happy. Another problem is that the inflation beast that we have today is eating away everything. If inflation is 5%, everyone is back at status quo. If inflation is double or more, though the economy looks good, though the income goes a bit higher, there is really a net contraction in the spending power. It is negative growth to those whose income does not keep pace with inflation. On the other extreme, low economic growth with low inflation could be better when inflation is lower than economic growth and income growth. How much of our growth has been translated to the wealth of our people in the middle and lower income bracket? Are they really better off, sharing the growing economic pie, or are they starting to feel the strains in their pockets? A $100k increase in property price means many will have to work 5 to 10 years for nothing, not improving their income at all. This goes to the prices of cars, of high medical bills and other big ticket items. The couple of hundred dollars of salary increases are easily eaten up by the high cost of living of everything, from basic necessities, transportation, food on the table, and consumer durables. We may be in a situation when no growth or low growth is better off than high growth if the standard and cost of living can be maintained. At the rate inflation is eating up everyone’s income and savings, we should think carefully of chasing high economic growth for its sake. It could be an effort in vain. What is important is real improvement in standard of living, cost of living, not fictitious dollar increases when the value is depreciating by the days.

2/16/2011

No child be denied an education

This is the assurance by the govt. No money never mind, just ask and will be given. Any small prints to read? Any conditions attached? Will the parents be subject to mean testing? What income level is considered as affordable and disqualified from govt handouts? A $2000 household income for one child or $5000 income for four children qualified? I think the first thing is to prove how challenging the family life is. The term challenging and affordable can mean anything to anyone. Nevermind, when a family is in that condition, no need be shy, just go and ask for help. The govt will be most happy to help. The devil is in the details. Something like no one will be denied medical treatment in our hospitals. Then why are citizens going to Malaysia for treatment? Fail the mean testing, or too shy to ask or beg?

If only Malaysia agrees…

If Malaysia agrees to let us build all the facilities we need in Johore, like hospitals, schools, housing etc etc, we can save a lot of money from paying sky high prices for these facilities and services in the island. There are obvious competitive advantages in terms of land costs. And if that happens, Singaporeans can all move over, hopefully can still work in their own country. And the whole country can be sold or lease to foreigners who can afford the high prices. As a hotel, there is nothing sentimental about this place. Let it go to the highest bidders. Singaporeans can go and park somewhere else. The cheaper land and labour costs will make living in those places much more affordable for the 21st century nomads. And we can extend the work in progress in nation building forever. No sweat, as long as Singaporeans can be shifted out and rent out their expensive HDB flats and earn rentals to live cheaply in Johore. Medical and hospital services would also be cheaper. Come to think of it, renting out the whole island and live on the rentals is not a bad idea. Our beautiful island paradise can be home to the rich and famous, our world class hospitals to serve the rich and famous…. Provided Malaysia is willing. We can truly become the modern nomads, people without a home in their own country. Oops, got homes, but need to rent out to live on the rentals outside the island as the high cost of living becomes prohibitive to the average Singaporeans. OK, the average Singaporeans can also call themselves landlords, till the lease expires. Isn’t this a damn great idea? No need to worry about nation building, no need to worry about country and citizens. Just treat the whole place as a hotel to make money for nobody. The concept of renting out our homes to collect rents and live simpler is already being in practice by some Singaporeans. Some have rented their private properties and live in HDB flats. And Singaporeans are already going to Malaysia and Thailand or elsewhere cheaper for medical treatments while our hospitals are doing fine business treating the rich from all over.

2/15/2011

Haunted by a living myth

Singaporeans are asset rich. Those who live in bigger flats, 5 rms and above, are better off. A Pavithran Vidyadharan, welcome to Singapore, wrote to the ST, ‘ I hope on Friday, when Finance Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam announces this year’s Budget, he will be more generous with goodies for five room and HDB executive flat owners. There is a misconception that such owners are high income earners, and they don’t need much help. It is not necessarily so. They could be living in the bigger HDB flats because their family is large; some could be taking care of their aged parents and in laws; and some could even be taking care of divorced or widowed siblings and their children.’ There are many other reasons why those living in bigger flats may not be better off. The older policies and pricing allowed many average Singaporeans to buy bigger flats as they were ‘really, truly’ affordable in every sense of the word. Some of them could now be retired and have lesser or no income. And with the great inflation Singapore Style, with no money in the pocket, life can be equally tough for those living in bigger flats. The demons of inflation and false wealth will be knocking at the doors of these asset rich Singaporeans. The only solution is to down grade and down grade and down grade. This will also apply to the wealthy scions who have inherited wealth and big properties. If they don’t inherit a business to generate the same wealth to maintain the high living lifestyle, and not professional enough to command million dollar incomes, they too will join the down grade queue. Just to repaint a house can be tens of thousands. And this is likely the main reason why the very rich do not think a few hundred millions would be enough for their children as the cost of living and inflation will soon erode whatever wealth there is there.

I am watching the property prices

I have been watching the property prices for more than 30 years. I have watched how the prices charged up and come tumbling down during a crisis. It looks like a roller coaster going up and down, beyond anyone’s control. The most spectacular time would be the recent years. After the financial crisis when prices plunged, all was doomed. Then everything turned around with everyone cheering happily as the prices went up and up. The developers, the housing agents, the investors, the home owners were all smiling. The govt was also smiling. I watch when there was an over supply of HDB flats. I watch when the HDB cut down on its building programme. I watch as the population grew with more PRs and new citizens flooding our shores. I watch how from a position of over supply turns into a position of severe shortages. And I am still watching. I watch how the frantic release of land to build more flats and the demands continue to be strong. I watch how the affordable HDB flats continue to be affordable despite all the price hikes while salary remains crawling at a snail pace. And I am watching happily as everyone says property prices are very affordable, can still go up some more, and no need to panic as there are plenty on the supply side. I am still watching. I never read the kpkbs in cyberspace and did not know what is happening. For the next 30 years, if I am still around, I will still be watching how the property prices go through the roof of the sky, and everyone claiming so affordable. It is such a wonderful past time just watching….

2/14/2011

What did Mah Bow Tan say in Parliament?

Singapore Minister: Will Take Further Measures On Property If Necessary SINGAPORE -(Dow Jones)- Singapore Minister for National Development Mah Bow Tan Monday said the government is closely monitoring the property market and will take further steps to keep property prices at sustainable levels if needed…. "It is not the intention of the latest measures to crash the (property) market... but rather to cool the market," Mah said in response to a question in Parliament…. The above is quoted from Dow Jones. What is Mah Bow Tan trying to say? The current property prices are reasonable and sustainable. It also means that the prices can still go up and he is quite comfortable with it. There is no intent to bring the prices down and there is still no bubble yet. When there is a bubble, when the prices are unsustainable, more measures will be introduced. When or at what kind of prices will be enough to bring in new measures? What is not said is that for a $400k property, if the price goes up by 10% or $40k, the young people waiting to buy will effectively receive a pay cut of $40k. How many young people can tahan such a pay cut when their pay rise is normally $200 to $400 or $3k to $5k annually? And if the current prices are sustainable and no cause for alarm or stopping it to climb further, the young couples are as good as chasing a rainbow that only gets further away by the days. Salary increases, $4k pa, housing price up by $40k pa. Sure die one.

A very controversial statement

I am writing this in response to Solo Bear’s latest article on the govt’s policy to keep the Chinese a majority in this country. I will leave his personal attack on LKY aside as I do not know what were the reasons for his persistent attack. Since independence, and during the colonial times, the Chinese have been a majority till now. The issue is whether this a bad thing? What if another racial group becomes a majority, would it be better for everyone? For discussion’s sake, let’s say the Malays become a majority in the country, what kind of changes can we expect? Becoming more Islamic like our neighbours, with more tolerance and intolerance issues being precipitated, everything becomes so sensitive and objectionable? Would we become something like Malaysia or Indonesia, and would it be a better place to live for everyone? Would everyone be free to practise and live their ways of life, culture and religion like it is now? The experience in the region is a rude reminder that the majorities often find it so convenient and easy to conduct racial genocides against the minorities, particularly the Chinese and Indians except in this island, where the minorities can feel so safe and secure, and knowing that the law will come down hard on the Chinese majority at the slightest thought of intimidating the minorities. On the same basis, what would it be like if the Indians become a majority here instead of the Chinese or Malays? Would the same policies of the govt continue, or would new policies be for the better or the worst? Having live through the last 60 years and witnessing how living conditions have improved for all the races, I have no reasons to want a change in the racial composition of the population. It is easy for me to say so, I admit, as a member of the majority. I know, the minorities will have very strong views on this. I must say that under a Chinese majority rule polity, anyone who is able will be able to succeed by his sheer effort, ability and industry, not a right by virtue of his colour or creed. Some will be more successful than others for other reasons but not because they were the majority, as many Chinese too were struggling to improve their own conditions but not getting anywhere. I don’t like what I see in neighbouring countries on what the fate of the Chinese Singaporeans could be if they become a minority. If the govt can continue with a policy of providing and assisting the minorities in every way possible to make them compete better with the majority, I think this can be a better place for everyone. The govt can do more to help the less able of the minorities to make their lives better for the good of everyone. I think Solo Bear’s position is that a Chinese majority is not a good thing for the minorities. And I believe he thinks a change from this balance is good for everyone. Please think about the alternatives, and feel free to disagree with me and share your views generously, with a little restraint on the adjectives: ) PS. I will delete this thread if the discussion gets uncontrollable and unreasonable. It is a test of the maturity of Singaporeans to be able to discuss issues rationally with minimal emotional outbursts.

2/13/2011

Intolerance or primitive mindset?

I was looking at the picture of this Afghan girl, Bibi Aisha, with holes on her face in place of her nose. She ran away from an arranged marriage and was caught. Her husband cut off her nose and her ears. With an artificial nose attached and waiting for a more permanent nose and features, you can see how beautiful she was. The act to disfigure her must have a lot of support in her tribes as it is part of their culture and practices. And the husband must be doing an honourable act, in delivering justice in their own ways. Many who share this form of justice and primitive acts must be very proud of the husband and would be saying Aisha deserved it. Is this intolerance, primitive or the correct way of conducting life? The answers will be from white to black, with many apologists explaining why it was justified. A state of frenzy has been drummed up in Malaysia, the most advanced and moderate Islamic country on the celebration of Valentine’s Day. One reason mentioned and I quote from the Selangor’s Islamic authority, ‘It is celebrated in many ways, starting with greeting cards, flowers and dance parties. In fact, some celebrate it with a date which would eventually lead to illicit sex. Clearly, the celebration is not part of Islamic teaching, it violates the syariah and contradicts the universal code of ethics.’ Which part of this celebration violates Islamic teachings? The part leading to illicit sex, I believe. I believe it also said that ‘some’ and not all will lead to this part of the act. Many who celebrate Valentine’s Day will not engage in illicit sex. And Valentine’s Day does not dictate or encourage anyone to participate in illicit sex as part of the celebration. Don’t get me wrong, the Islamic authority has all the right to ban whatever that they deemed fit and their believers must adhere to them. The Muslim should not celebrate Valentine’s Day for whatever reasons they want to uphold. The Christians or Westerners can go ahead to celebrate their Valentine’s Day in whatever way they choose to, even illicit sex, as long as it is mutually consensual. When both parties can accept each other’s position, life will go on as normal. For this issue to be debated so emotionally, it is a sign of intolerance. Let’s hope the intolerance will not be exploited into something ugly, like cutting off noses and ears. The religious police are expected to be snooping around dark corners to check on the identities and religious backgrounds of couples in close proximity. I hope they will do it discretely and would not behave like rogues, and leave the non Muslims alone.

2/12/2011

Rising cost of living an issue in Parliament

Several MPs will be raising issues and concerns about rising cost of living, or costs of everything in Parliament on Monday. My eye balls are rolling all over. Who is the major contributor to the high cost of living? External factors! Bull! We all know who and what were the major causes of high prices and high inflation. But no one is going to go to the monkey and stick a pin into its back. The indiscriminate jacking up of prices by the hawkers is causing great worries. Really? Are the hawkers the real culprits, or were the price hike indiscriminate? Who were the real Mohicans who have been raising prices indiscriminately? Then again they will tell you all the hikes were justified with numbers and statistics and graphs and charts presented by the most talented managers. You can’t beat that can you? Only the hawkers, facing higher and higher rentals, refurbished and upgraded facilities, aircon, etc etc and higher cost of raw materials, transportation,…but unable to come out with beautifully cooked data and charts, are seen as indiscriminate. The real causes of high prices are the big corporations, big businesses and, who else? …. Rentals, fees, transportations, land prices, and whatever were Not indiscriminately raised, but with very good reasons that are unquestionable. At worst they would not even show you the real statistics. Would someone be real and ask some honest and real questions in Parliament? Or would asking questions solve anything other than getting some prepared answers from the ministers and matter closed? Don’t be surprised some jokers will say inflation is progress! Or inflation is good or else how could a $10k HDB flat becomes $300k after 30 years. And high prices of cars, COEs and HDB flats are signs that the people are wealthy and rich and can afford to pay for them. With this kind of brilliant answers, one can argue until the cow comes home, and nothing will change. Any change will be temporary, pre GE, and the worst is yet to come, with more brilliant explanations.

2/11/2011

Donation Drive to free Chee Soon Juan

Someone asked me why I did not post anything on this issue that is pretty hot in the internet. I replied, 'Shameful'...for I did not do my part.

The scourge would not go away

Many have been caught, jailed and caned. Unfortunately the harassment against innocent residents continues. It seems that it will never end and can never end. Is it so difficult to deal with loan sharks with the technology and resources today? It was reported that less than 1% of HDB households are victims of loan sharks. Using this percentage angle to describe the crime as if it is insignificant is shameful. And if even one case is too many, how can we live with so many cases? 1% of 800,000 households means 8,000 households are being harassed by the loan sharks. And this is a huge number and can never be tolerated. Imagine if the ST claims that it is acceptable to have a 1% typo error on its news papers, or the PUB claims that 1% of power outage is ok? It means that on every page of the paper, every 100 letters there will be an error. Similarly, every year there will be 3.5 days of power outages. Acceptable? 1% of households are victims of loan sharks cannot be accepted as good or even satisfactory. When will the scourge be removed from our shores? Paying top dollar, the people must demand for top dollar performance.

Our Malays are integrating very well

Several articles appeared in the ST yesterday on comments that were translated from Berita Harian and Berita Minggu, our Malay papers. They were the views of our Malay elite responding to what LKY said on Malays integrating into the main stream of our social activities. The views were guarded but mainly told of how well our Malays have adapted and accommodated to the modern life style of this city state and tolerating the differences in cultural and religious activities. On the first page of mypaper there was an article about the authorities in some Malaysian states ramming up checks on immoral behaviours between the sexes during Valentine’s Day. The Islamic apparatus will be increasing checks and patrols on Muslims in dark corners engaging in ‘immoral acts’ of close proximity. I must add that such vigilance is only confined to Muslim authorities wanting to ensure that the Muslims are not indulging in sinful lifestyles. I have read an article in the net that when Najib was invited to attend a Christmas function by the Catholic Archbishop of KL, there was a polite request that the Christian cross be removed, no carols and no prayers during his visit. That is the level of tolerance in Malaysia. This is from an article by John Malott, former US Ambassador to Malaysia. I stand to be corrected, there were postings in the net that there were calls to prohibit the sales of ‘bak kut teh’, ‘char kway teow’, ‘wan tan mee’ etc etc unless they are halal and carry the halal signs. Thank god, our Muslim brothers are more tolerant than the Malaysian Muslims and did not insist on such regulations. In the ST articles, many emphasized that the Singapore Muslims have no problems eating together with non Muslims and are mixing freely while keeping the limits of their own constraints. An article by A Rahman Basrun commented that Islam is not the problem but the Muslims were. I quote, ‘Finally, it is not Islam that is troublesome; rather, Muslims are the ones who cause trouble to Islam.’ By comparing the two states, Malaysia and Singapore, both have Muslims practicing Islam, we can see what is the real problem. I agree with Rahman Basrun, that Islam is not the problem, but the Muslims and the way they practiced their faith is. If that is the case, LKY’s comment is fair in the sense that Islam allows room for tolerance and the Muslims could, in some ways, moderate the practices, without compromising on the key doctrines, to adapt to other cultural and religious activities. If Islam is the source of intolerance, then there is no room for any moderations.

2/10/2011

MAD-ness in the financial world

The concept of MAD, Mutual Assured Destruction, used to be only applicable to superpower conflicts where both parties will destroy each other with their WMD. The end of the world consequence of this concept is enough to bring fear and prevent any crazy hot heads from attempting war with nuclear weapons. This term is gaining relevance in the financial industry with all the devious and greedy men in charge. They all think very big, with big machines in the forms of high speed computers and networks to link all the markets together. What this means, simply, is that all the big guns can be trained at one market and blasts it to the end of the Universe. Impossible, they said. There will be no collusion of that sort, market forces and regulations will not allow it to happen. Really? When there is GREED! The financial world is so corrupt that with all the devious men in charge, all the classical rules to ensure fair play have been shoved aside and buried. Fair play, level playing field, transparency, cornering the market, buy and sell without change of ownership, false trading, churnings, syndicates manipulation, etc etc are now part of the game. We are seeing the breaking down of all good regulations, even deregulations, concocting systems for the big funds to take the fullest advantage of technology and their financial muscles to wipe out the markets. Theoretically it sounds fantastic and super efficient when the whole world and all the fund managers can trade in every market at the same time. It is an ideal market, with many players to allow the free market forces to run at its most efficient manner. In reality, a financial holocaust is waiting to happen when the power of destruction is in the hands of a few irresponsible and greedy men with no morals or responsibility except to make profits at any cost. God is great. It allows ingenious men to scheme together to meet at Armaggeddon happily, and thinking that they are very clever, to create the mother of all systems for self destruction. Globalisation, interconnectivity, de regulation, mergers, etc, etc, all points to one end. The rogues never think that they are the rogues. And they are in charge. We have experienced the frightening story of too big to fail. The next big story is too big for the good of everyone. The big funds, when acting in unison, can be more destructive than WMD. The world was given a glimpse of what is yet to come during the financial crisis. If the rascals in the financial industry are allowed to do what they wanted, we will get there sooner. They are linking all the markets together, to be burnt together at one go. Does it ring a bell? It is happening in Hongkong today!

More wanting to set up money lending business

I thought why the sudden interest in money lending and why Singaporeans are suddenly so enthused to want to set up businesses. Then I read in the net that there is this great idea being floated to help the poor Singaporeans to help themselves. It is about the poor oldies who have no money and needed to borrow money to survive. I was told that the scheme is to lend money to these oldies, who must first be over 65 years and be mean tested to be genuinely poor. Then they will be allowed to borrow from their own savings in their CPF accounts, and to pay interest of course. But one more interesting conditon. In order to be finally qualified to borrow from their own savings, they must first contribute 1% of their income, I supposed, to their savings first. Then only they can be allowed to borrow from themselves, or something like that. I also got confused as the logic was simply too brilliant that I am blinded. And why the long queue to set up money lending business? I think all those in the queue must be thinking that if the borrower has to put in money first, then they might as well be around to take the money upfront and talk later. And if the borrower got money to put into their savings accounts, they shouldn't be too risky. Am I right in thinking like that? Did I miss out something? This must be another one of those Uniquely Singapore schemes.

Ask and it shall be given

Every now and then, on Saturdays, armies of school children will be despatched into the streets, with a tin can in hand, to beg for money. Just ask, and the money will come in. People are expected to give, not to reward effort, but to beggars. The concept of begging to get easy money has been so successful that many big charities find it so convenient to beg for more money by organising them in a big way, with celebrities and public figures doing the begging. It is an annual affair and being conducted several times a year. And it is so popular and so attractive that foreign celebrities too find them very interesting and fun, begging for a good cause. We have a few infamous personalities that got so carried away with big time begging that they ended up behind bars. Money easy come easy go. When money can be had so easily, where is there a need to work? A young man even went to an extent of setting up several charities to beg for money, for his own pockets. And several others too did it in style. The latest I heard over the news is that grandmas are also roped in to the begging act. Great fun man, and so much enthusiasm shown by the grannies to beg on the streets. Soon more grannies will be attracted to this new found past time. Did I remember someone saying there is no such thing as free lunch? Nothing is for free. You want something, you got to work for it. With begging becoming a national past time, is there a contradiction? This culture of begging when one is young, begging when one is an adult, and begging when one is old, is sinking roots as a national culture here. Possibly we are the biggest nation of beggars.

Baby Shield?

We have MediShield and now BabyShield akan datang. Of course we have many kinds of shields for the oldies as well but in different names.. Soon there will be the ‘bao ka liao’ shield to cover from birth to death. Child birth is a risky business and statistically quite a significant percentage will be born with congenital problems or other birth defects. And the bottom line, it means a medical bill to foot. How come parents are not told that giving birth to babies is not simply footing the gynaecologist and delivery bills? There is another big chunk to be paid for birth defects and other related illnesses that is not cheap. So there is a need for BabyShield. Ah so. Can this be one of the prime reason why there is this urgent call to make more babies, to contribute to the economy by paying more medical bills plus insurance? Making a baby is a economic big factor that will add to the economic growth data. Just look at the cost the parents will have to bear, from conception to delivery, pre natal and post natal medical support and all the related medicine and medicare services. And that is only the beginning. The cost of bringing up the child, food, clothing, medical care as an infant, then nursery, kindergarten, pre school, and all the schooling till employment, and all the expenses for growing up. Finally as a young adult, 2 years for the country, follows by all the education needed to become employable. How much must the parents pay? Making babies is all about economics and the economy. A child could add at least half a million dollars to the economy before he makes his first dollar. Multiply this figure by the 30,000 to 40,000 births annually, the amount contributed to the economy is immense. The parents will have to foot the whole bill, plus all the shields. Should the govt share some of the cost of making babies, raising babies and educating them? The BabyShield can be a good start, plus all the medical bills for the delivery of a baby. This leads to another fundamental issue, the health of the people. If the headcount is so important, and if the people cannot afford to pay when they are sick, or dying, their loss is the loss of the country and the economy. Every headcount less will be a dent to the economic numbers. But the people are expected to pay for all the shields to keep themselves healthy and fit to help grow the economy. The country needs your babies. But you carry the can and pay to support all the services provided to bring up the babies. In other words, it is your problem if you bring out a baby to this world.

2/09/2011

All the foul ups

More committees are being formed to come up with more recommendations to rectify the ‘foul ups’ by the govt. There are calls for slaying the inflation spectre which was happily reared to the size today as a good policy. The high prices of everything were seen as good and affordable. Now there were calls to do more to integrate locals and foreigners, as if the govt is not doing enough. Reach has formed a workgroup to look into the growing income gap and the rich poor divide as if the govt does not know. It also highlighted the ‘unequal balance of benefits and obligations between locals and foreigners, such as national service liability, in contrast with equal opportunities provided to Singaporeans and immigrants.’ There were several other recommendations on how to tackle the high cost of livings and how to help the low income group. All this sounds good and helpful. Look at it in another way, are they saying that the govt is not doing a good job and needs help from outside? Or are they thinking that the govt did not know what it is doing nor the effects of its policies? I believe that all the super talents involved in policy making knows exactly what they are doing and had thoroughly thought through all the processes before implementing them. In that case, what difference would such recommendations make or could make to all the good policies? I am sure the govt does not foul up in what it is doing. Everything has been carefully planned. Look, despite the high housing prices and medical fees, everything is still affordable and the people are happily paying for them and asking for more. Those who are buying definitely can afford them and expecting the prices to go higher. And looking at the long queues, it is obvious all is well. $150k medical bills are rare and need not be a worry. Do we need to set up more committees to make recommendations to the best talents in the govt to make the govt works better? My apologies, I am not sure whether the talents in these committees are lesser or better talents than those in govt. To be effective the talents in these committees must be better than those in govt. Otherwise it just does not make sense.

2/08/2011

Orange peel cutting as art

I was watching the news on Channel News Asia yesterday and there was a report of a Japanese young man who used a paper cutter to cut orange skins into the shape of animals, just the outline. What came out were simple shapes of animals, something akin to paper cuttings. And Channel News Asia was there to broadcast it as news to the world. And this guy has about 70 or so cuttings. I have hundreds of images from my Art of RAR collection. And every image is painstakingly created as pieces of art. I think if I were a Japanese or an European or an American, the people in these countries will drool over my creations. These people from mature societies are more generous and receptive to creative ideas and arts, and are more ready to appreciate new art forms and creativity without the need for some authority or authoritative figure to say so. In this island, creativity is only art if other foreign talents say so. Anything coming out from our natives is unworthy of a second look. Not many really appreciate talents, creativity or art forms. I think it is more a case of lack of confidence, to dare to claim something as art for fear of losing credibility if others do not agree. In the case of reporters or art critics, what if the boss doesn’t agree? But when some foreigners did something and got reported, everyone will stand up with their mouths wide open and say, Wow, great art!. Even a naked man sitting on a chair is art! I call it stupidity, base and primitive instinct. Totally lack of ideas. It is utter nonsense, an insult to the audience and their intelligence. Then again, the audience need to be insulted if they accepted nonsense as art without protest, just because they were reported or being given a place in a grand art exhibition. If Damien Hirst were to walk across a zebra crossing, naked, it will be instantly hailed as an art form. I will wait to see who will make the first move to recognise my Art of RAR as an art form. I want to assure them that some of my pieces are in the style of some great artists, like Picasso and Wu Guan Zhong. But mine are photographic images, created by the hands of nature. I just help to give a little finishing touch to them. They came out in such forms were all nature’s doing. Not something that I have preconceived or planned. Anyone out there tempted to want to take a peep at my collection? I guarantee them that my collection will be more than kindergarten stuff. What I have created is perhaps the best thing to have happened in the local art scene: ) I need to brag a little to attract some attention.

Slaying the spectre of inflation

This is what an article in the ST is saying about the aim of the next budget. I think it is silly talk. The inflation beast has been carefully nurtured to grow to this size today, and everyone is so happy and delirious about it. The developers were encouraged to build and sell at an ever high price in a bidding system that can see prices going one way. The landlords were given a free hand to keep increasing the rentals under the guise of market forces. No need to mention about what HDB is doing. No one can meddle with market forces. The end result is a happy result. Owners of properties are all laughing at the value of their flats and private properties. And the best part, everything is simply affordable. The higher the prices, the more affordable they become, and the people can see more value in them. Higher medical bills are appropriate for world class hospitals. And rich people are discouraged from opting to go to lower class wards and pay less. Our education system is so high quality measured by the high fees that students are paying. As they say, quality and good stuff don’t come cheap. You want quality, you pay for it. And of course, with the money we are paying, we have the best quality govt in the world. An European talent said that Singapore is the best place for the future in the ST today. What more proof you need? What inflation? Where got inflation? It is quality. Everything is about quality. And Singaporeans are so rich that they can afford all the quality stuff in paradise. Singaporeans are paying the most expensive cars, housing, medical, education and almost everything. Please, please don’t slay the inflation beast. It is good, a sign of progress and better quality of life. The more Singaporean spent, the faster the economy spins, and the economic numbers will look better and better. Actually we even heard people saying, where got inflation? Everything is affordable, affordable understand? Everything is fine. Kindergartens are fine, fining parents who are late for a good cause. $2 for every 5 min. And of course the fines are affordable. A sign of things to come after the election. SMRT just increased night fare from $3.50 to $4. 50 cents only what! Imagine what would it be if the PTC would have gone through their fare review exercise? It is either now or later. Guaranteed better services after the next fare hike.

2/07/2011

Singapore one step ahead of inflation

The reckless hike in food and commodity prices is threatening to wreck the countries around the world and bring down govts. And the western analysts point their fingers at Asian countries, particularly India and China, for importing them to feed their people and industries. No one is saying a word about the financial speculators, the big western funds that are driving up prices to the sky. The hike in prices of everything, high inflation, is sending worrying signals to govts around the world. The uprising in Egypt, and possibly more to come, could be the early signs that it could be spreading. Then again, the Asian economies need not fear as they are managed differently and effectively, and will avoid such crisis. In fact the govts of the world should take a lesson from the Asian economies, starting with Singapore. Singapore is one step ahead in this inflation game and is doing exceptionally well. No signs of trouble, and with a rich populace that can afford everything at any price. What is significant about the developments in Singapore is that while the world is just experiencing high inflation, Singapore has already inflated the prices of everything long before the word inflation raises its ugly head. Our property prices have rocketed sky high and pronounced as a good thing. This is a true sign of the people getting richer. There is also the medical cost which is now more expensive than the West if $150k bill for a C Ward is the thing to come. OK, this is just an exaggeration. It is rare. Maybe less than 5% of all bills are so big. And Singaporeans feel so comfortable paying $60k or more to buy a piece of paper that entitles them to buy a car that is priced 3 or 4 times more than in other countries. This is the magic of Singapore, inflating prices in everything and the people still can afford them. Everything is simply affordable. The govts of the world better send their civil servants to study how Singapore did it, beating the inflation game, by inflation. Inflation is welcomed as a good thing, especially when the people are mostly millionaires.

China is the cause of Egypt’s uprising

Thomas Friedman was given the front page in mypaper to ‘fried’ China. He pronounced that the uprising against Mubarak was because China could produce cheaper goods than the Egyptians. The same trend of thought planted in the minds of all Americans. China is the cause of their troubles because China could produce things cheaper than them. What Friedman refused to acknowledge is the American role over the last 30 years to prop up a dictator against their big talks on democracy. As far as the Americans are concerned, anything goes as long as it is to their advantage. It is either the dictator or the Muslim Brotherhood. So they chose to support a dictator and his misrule for 30 years. And it is China’s fault! The only other American contributions to the turmoil are Twitter and Facebook, which gave the common people a voice to talk back to the dictator and his corrupt regime backed by the Americans. Let me see, Twitter and Facebook must be products from China too, just for this uprising. And Singaporeans are enlightened and now know that China is the culprit. And Singapore could be next given that China could produce things cheaper than us, the enormous income gap between rich and poor and our local graduates from our world class universities unable to compete for jobs with foreign talents from third world universities, some even with fake degrees. China, watch out! In the eyes of the Americans, you are the trouble maker. And all American allies are told this, and they believe in it too.

2/06/2011

An original Singapore Art Form

Taking a break from writing rubbish to show some of the works that I have created and called The Art of RAR. This nascent photographic art form is something I can truly claim to have originated from this little island. I hope NAC and STB are reading this and want to promote it as our native art form. The images that I have created have been good and consistent to the methodology that I have used. At this point in time I could identity a few categories eg Gold Series, Deep Space Series, Chinese Brush Series, Gems and Contemporary Arts Series. I have posted some of my Gold Series on the right column. The Zodiac Collection is now complete. On the left are examples of Contemporary Arts, Chinese Brush and Deep Space Series. The more I work on this art form, the more fascinating the images appeared. The potential of this art form is tremendous. redbean

2/05/2011

The Egyptian Story unfolds

Dictator or no dictator, as long as he can hold the country together will do. The Emperor does not care about democracy or human rights as long as the dictator does what the Emperor wants, behave as a good boy and bow to the Emperor, everything will be fine. The moment the dictator loses his power base or support of the people, he must go. Obama spoke from his White House on the day of the major people uprising, telling the dictator to get things back in order. A week has passed and the anger of the people is increasing, and the demand for the dictator to get out grows. The Emperor knew that time is up for a change and told the dictator to get moving. As all dictators are the same, after enjoying years of power, wealth and control, giving up is not an easy thing to do. He let loose his security forces to do his dirty work, to quell the people’s uprising, threaten and putting people behind jails may work, to extend his dictatorial reign. The Emperor thinks otherwise, and is planning for the exit of the dictator from the White House. Like it or not, Egypt belongs to the Empire and any regime change must be authorised by the Emperor. Another dictator will be installed, with some trappings of democracy like in Iraq and Afghanistan. But dictators they will be, and the Emperor will be their boss. Will the will of the people decide who should lead them? Egypt has been faced with many years of big time corruption, wide income gap between the rich and poor, unemployment of graduates, high inflation, and a people getting increasingly unhappy with the regime. There is a ground swell for a change in govt. Who shall prevail, the Emperor, the dictator or the will of the people?

Make more babies!

For what? Why is there a need to make more babies? To generate economic growth, to make the statistics of growth look better? Why would people want to have babies if the babies are meant to be another digit in the economy? Aren’t babies the fruit of love, of people who love to have them, to enjoy them, to share their love with them? Babies that are brought into this world for any selfish reason other than to love them, and to cherish this gift of life, should not be born at all. Why is the state so adamant and steadfast in urging the people to produce babies? It must be for the good of the people, I think. If that be the case, what is the state doing to make sure that the babies are given a life worth living for instead of being born into a pressure cooker, a system that is hardly conducive to bringing up children unless the parents are financially able? The cost of bringing up children today is frightening. And the cost of failure when a child is unable to cope or compete in a highly strung society is not amusing. The parents too will fail if they do not have the financial means to give the child what is now regarded as basics in a sophisticated modern style of living. Today’s child will be deprived if they are going to live the life of poverty, living off the land, and making little toys for their own amusement from throw ways or discarded rubbish. It can be painful for children who cannot have the little things that other children are having, or the little comfort of a home. Make more babies? So easy? No need to think about money, about affordability? No need to think about the child’s own good? Multiply recklessly is not the way. It is simply irresponsible. How many new lives will be brought into this world to suffer the consequences of a system that only the very best will survive and the rest be made to struggle for a life time making ends meet? Is our social economic system conducive to bringing up children? What have the govt done towards building a more equitable society where the majority could live a better life instead of working like beast of burden just to make ends meet? Throwing some money good enough?

2/04/2011

Hard Truth and Affordability

The most controversial word in the vocabulary of politicians is affordability. Everyone seems to utter this word as the biggest escape clause in any bad situation. It is affordable, we will make sure that it is affordable. And no matter how stupid the populace is, everyone knows what this dirty word means to different people. The truth is that the meaning of affordability is as flexible as a rubber band. It can be stretch which ever way the speaker wants it to be, as long as it is kept from snapping. Within the limits of its elasticity, anything goes and everything is affordable. This word should be banned and anyone using it should be make to feel ashame. The nonsensical use of the word affordability cannot go on and on. Closely link to this affordability word is the hard truth on the cost of HDB flats. Why is this truth so evasive and difficult to face the people? My new year wish is for someone to reveal this hard truth in his book and let some light into this darkness. If this is not possible, I hope that there will be a Wikileak on this piece of hard truth. We need to progress and move forward. What is unspoken, cannot be spoken, must be spoken. Nothing can be kept under wrap forever. Please let the truth be out and start the new year on a clean slate. The revelation may make a mockery of the word affordable, and will also make its use history. Until then, this will remain as the hardest truth to be spoken, and the affordable word will continue to flow with ease out of the smooth politician’s mouth.

2/02/2011

Happy Lunar New Year to all

I have posted some photos of Chinatown taken this afternoon. Please click on the photo on the right below the red koi to view the them. Cheers.

Harvesting the people’s savings

What are you saving for? Or who are you saving for? Yourself of course : ). I am asking stupid questions again. But I have been thinking lately. I have come to the conclusion that the saver is actually a proxy. Though it looks like he is saving for himself, actually there are 3 real beneficiaries to his life long savings. They are the ones who will harvest the savings of the people. We have been told that we will live till 80 or 90 years. Think about it, by the time a person passes 60, the chances of admission to a hospital grows everyday. By the time he crosses 80 or 90, the probably could be as high as 80% to spend time in our world class hospitals. They are beckoning, come, we will take very good care of you, at a very affordable fee of course. Can’t expect world class facilities, services and professionals to provide free or cheap services right? Just be prepared for a $200k or $300k bill. This is likely to be the average and right size bills in times to come. So, with a few hundred thousands in savings, be very afraid that it can be wiped out in one admission. I can see fear and cold sweat running down the cheeks. Just one admission can bankrupt any average Singaporean. Fear not, for I am your savior. I know you by name and you shall be in good hands. In comes the other big beneficiary of your savings, the insurance man. He will offer you all his best schemes to help you pay for your stay in the world class hospitals. In fact he has been working very hard, thinking of all kinds of schemes, to help you. Very nice and caring people, next to those in the world class hospitals. With the two, you can rest in peace. I bet the hospitals will be most happy knowing the insurance man is going to help their future patients. They probably thank the insurance man for making hospital bills more affordable. And with the payment reduces to maybe $8, the hospitals will be encouraged to make their bills more affordable. Can’t blame them. Training a world class profession is very expensive. And world class facilities won’t come cheap. But they will promise you that their service will get better and betterer. You will be in good hands. Should the hospital raise their fees, the insurance man will coming running to you and happily chanting, fear not, fear not. My Maserati is on the way, just order another one. He will swear that he will not tire to work out the best schemes for you to make sure that your hospital bills will be affordable again. The people are so lucky. Would I need the services of these kind souls? Actually I will be a disappointment to them. After crossing the golden 60, every day is a bonus. Enjoy and make the best out of it. This piece of flesh is going to get more crappy everyday, no matter what one does. It is dust and must return to dust. And when he calls for you to go home, just go lah. He has many palaces waiting for you. Don’t be an asshole and keep him waiting. Don’t throw away your good money to be hooked up in wires and tubes and think that he can’t get you. He does not want your wasting body. He only asks for your spirit. No need to pay a ransom to keep a piece of rotting meat warm. Put it in the freezer will be cheaper. Burn it and throw it into the sea is as good as free. I think I have better use of my money than for it to benefit the two big jaws. The palaces in some remote places are more interesting and worthy to do some charity, and to share and bless the less well off folks. PS. According to a reply by Karen Tan from MOH, the average C Class ward bill is $1,600 and the majority of the patients did not have to pay anything out of pocket. A $100k bill is rare. She emphasized that C Class bill is very affordable. So there is no need to worry about the above scenario. It is probably a fictional situation in the future.

2/01/2011

A GE can do wonderful things

The GE is around the corner. The first sign of change is the number of good news and happy news in the media. The people are soooo happy with their lives, all living very well. No more grumblings and kpkbs. Things actually started to change much earlier. The hard and nose in the air attitude were gone. No more talking down to the people. No more, if you can’t afford it, downgrade or move out. No more tightening the belt and live within your means comments. No more disgusting comments. Suddenly the politicians are so humble, so pleasing, understanding, caring and listening and so nice, smiling all the time. The people’s cries of high property prices are met with several remedial actions to curb the rise, but still very affordable. Now $150k hospital bills are also very affordable. And more schemes will come out to make it even more affordable. There is more urgency to tackle the loan shark menace and more were arrested. There was even a wet market being tendered to a big company who wanted to turn it into high class aircon market but this was turned down for fear of higher prices. And approving PRs and intake of foreign talents also go down dramatically with statements that we cannot just depend on foreign talents and low wage workers to keep our economy growing. There is a sudden realization that this is not sustainable wah. And another good piece of news today. The Public Transport Council is delaying the review of transport fare. Everyone reads it as delaying another round of fare increases. Can we blame them? Can we blame the law lecturer, Eugene Tan, for saying that the rationale for the delay in fare hike is likely to avoid another big issue in the GE? Heng ah! I highly recommend that we should hold GE once every two years. Then we will have more pleasant news and pleasant things happening. Do I worry about what would happen after the GE and the next one in another 4 years?