An unbelievable world record!

Other being a PAP MP, he(Yeo Guat Kwang holds) has an amazing 64 other positions !!! http://www.parliament.gov.sg/mp/yeo-guat-kwang?viewcv=Yeo%20Guat%20Kwang 1) Member, Government Parliamentary Committee on Manpower 2) Member, Government Parliamentary Committee on Community Development, Youth & Sports 3) Member, GPC for Ministry of Information, Communications and the Arts 4) Vice Chairman, Aljunied Town Council 5) Alignment Director, NTUC Quality Worklife & All Nationalities 6) Acting Advisor to Taxi Operators’ Association 7) President of Consumers Association of Singapore (CASE) Vice-Chairman, North East Community Development Council 9) Member, Board of Directors of PUB Board 10) Advisor to the Singapore Table Tennis Association 11) Advisor to the Singapore WeiQi Association 12) Advisor to the Ren Ci Hospital 13) Advisor to the Bright Vision Hospital 14) Advisor to Artistes & Performers’ Association 15) Advisor to Restaurants Association of Singapore 16) Executive Secretary, Singapore Chinese Teachers’ Unions 17) Director, Financial Industry Disputes Resolution Centre (FIDReC) 1 Advisor, Federation of Merchants’ Associations, Singapore 19) Executive Secretary, Amalgamated Union of Statutory Board Employees 20) Member, Workplace Health and Safety Council 21) Co-Chairman, National Tripartite Committee on Workplace Health 22) Co-Chairman, Customer Centric Initiatives 23) Co-Chairman, NTUC-SNEF Migrant Workers’ Forum 24) Member, Aids Business Alliance 25) Member, Mental Health Alliance 26) Member, Centre for Service Excellence and Leadership Governing Council 27) Member, SPRING Standards Council 2 Patron to Pets Enterprises & Traders Association (PETAS) 29) PAP Community Foundation HQ Executive Committee 30) Member, Committee to Promote Chinese Language Learning (CPCLL) 31) Member, Agri-Food & Veterinary Authority of Singapore (AVA) 32) Member, AVA Human Resource Committee 33) Member, WSH Council Finance Committee 34) Member, Tripartite Committee on Employability of Older Workers 35) Member, Tripartite Committee on Portable Medical Benefits 36) Member, Tripartite Committee on Flexible Work Arrangement 37) Member, Quality Service Advisory Council 3 Member, Institute for Service Excellence @ SMU (ISES) Governing Council 39) Member, Motor Industry Disputes Resolution Centre Pte Ltd Board of Governors 40) Member, Retail Price Watch Group 41) Member,Tobacco Licensing Consultative Panel 42) Member, Ngee Ann Kongsi Council 43) Advisor, Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore Staff Union (IRASSU) 44) Advisor & Trustee, NatSteel Employees Union (NEU) 45) Business Advisor, NTUC LearningHub Pte Ltd 46) Advisor, Yeo Clan General Association 47) Advisor, Singapore Taoist Federation 4 Advisor, Fo Guang Shan (Singapore) 49) Advisor, Mun San Fook Tuck Chee 50) Advisor, Society of Sheng Hong Welfare Services 51) Advisor, Sian Chay Medical Institution 52) Advisor, Society of Tourist Guides (Singapore) 53) Advisor, Singapore Furniture Association 54) Advisor, Eggs’ Import/Export Trading Association (Singapore) 55) Advisor, Federation of Merchants’ Singapore 56) Advisor, JCI Senators Club of Singapore 57) Advisory Board Member, Singapore-China Association for Advancement of Science & Technology 5 Patron. Buddist Fellowship 59) Independent Director, Grandwork Interior Pte Ltd 60) Independent Director, Japan Foods Holding Ltd 61) Independent Director, Koyo International Ltd 62) Independent Director, United Envirotech Ltd 63) Independent Director, Asia Water Technology Ltd 64) Independent Director, HLH Group Ltd The above is copied from Thoughts of a Singapore Statistician. This is the kind of overworked super talents that Singaporeans can be very proud of. As an average individual, I would forget at least 80 per cent of the names of the organizations in the above list. It is a marvel to even remember them, let alone trying to perform all the duties associated with them. But I am just an average bean. The uncomfortable or unfair part is that for a miserable $15k per month, this super talent is made to shoulder such an unenviable number of important positions and responsibilities. I really feel sorry for him. I doubt he even has time to eat or sleep if he is to do his duties, just to attend meetings alone. But when I look at how well he looks, I think he is coping very well. And he is not alone. I believe all his peers are also shouldering a fuller list of appointments, maybe more. So Singaporeans should not begrudge these great talents and the money paid to them. They deserve every penny they received. In fact they should be paid more. I will die trying to do more than 3 jobs. Singapore is indeed blessed with such super human beans, rightly described as more than mortals.

How long will the Ponzi Scheme last?

Many have commented that the public housing scheme is another Ponzi Scheme or something similar in nature. In all sense, it will die a naturally death by the time the lease expires in 99 years, all 900,000 of them. On that day, all will be worthless. There seems to be a way out though, to extend the game, by SERS, whereby the HDB will buy back the flats before the lease expires, offer the lessee a new flat of the same market value or slightly more. The lessee will be happy to get a new flat for a smaller fee and a new lease. This option of buying back and offering a new flat can go on and on provided certain conditions are present. Without these conditions, the renewal and new life will still come to an end. The first condition is that the flats to be acquired are low lying, and on the same plot of land a doubling of the units of flats can be built. A 10 storey block can easily go to 20, and 20 to 40. After that it must go to 80 or 100 storeys so that the cost of building the new flats can be paid by new lessees. As the cost of building is going to be much higher, and there is inflation to add on to the cost, it is also assumed that the income of the new lessees will go up proportionally to pay for the much more expensive flats. Or else, the aspiration will be for smaller and smaller units or smaller in size like what is happening now. The third condition is that there must be more and more buyers to buy the new flats. As the formula is based on the doubling of the units, if all the flats are to be rebuilt, it will need a doubling of the population, from 5m to 10m. So the floodgate for foreigners cannot be closed. The fourth condition is that the island will not sink with all the Towers of Babel loading on it. And hopefully, the supporting infrastructure to house the kind of population density can cope with the increase. If all the conditions are met, the Ponzi Scheme can go on and on.

The crime of earning $10k

The arbitrary $10k ceiling for the combined income of young couples is looking like a crime. It has been elevated to a sacred status that it is almost untouchable, like a commandment carved in stone. Young couples who have a combined income of $10k are disqualified from public housing. They are deemed too well paid, and able to pay more for private properties. They should go and buy a smaller but more expensive private property, or go for the big owns and take a bigger loan to service. The value of thrift and savings and financial prudence is thrown to the wind. If after taking a big loan and something untoward happens to their income that is their problem. And the private developers and speculators are all rubbing their hands eagerly waiting for these young couples to commit, after being forced out by the system. They have no choice but to take the plunge. What kind of philosophy is this? Forcing young people to go into big debt because they earn a little more than others? What is $10k anyway? Any decently qualified young couple that failed to get hitch within 3 to 5 years will see their income exceeding this arbitrary ceiling pronounced by god. Is it wise or decent to force young couples, just starting to work and with a full list of commitments ahead of them, to plunge in with a half a million or one million dollar loan? I think it is a crazy idea and very irresponsible. The crap about some of these young couples adding to the queue is another hogwash. Just like the spurious building acitivity today, it is all about building to meet the needs and demands of the people. The crime is for not building, not the young people wanting to join the queue. And not many would join the queue as those with lesser commitments would risk taking a bigger loan for private properties. It is no crime or shame to want to buy a cheaper home and save for tomorrow. The principle of thrift and prudence is age old wisdom. Punishing the young people for your own inept, poor planning and farcical beliefs is shameful. No one must be forced to eat sharksfins and force to pay for it. The $10k ceiling is another mean testing that is wicked to the core, like its parallel in healthcare. It only serves to fatten the pockets of speculators and developers at the expense of the young people. Just go and build the flats that the people need, and stop the silly reasoning. Every able young man must be given a chance to buy his first public housing. This is only equitable, just and fair. They also do their bid to serve the country like everyone else.


The housing mess or housing achievement?

25,000 BTO flats will be built this year. And now Boon Wan is saying tens of thousands of rental flats are needed and building of rental flats must also be ramped up. Are these happy problems or manifestation of infested problems in public housing that are surfacing today? With 25,000 being built and the demand is still growing, and a shortfall of tens of thousands of rental flats! What’s happening? Didn’t MND know the problem or they did know the problem but not building because the policy maker decided otherwise? Or is it that the information on supply and demand was misleading that led to the current mess? MND data quoted in today’s ST said that there were 3,700 and 2,300 rental flat applicants for year 2008 and 2009 respectively. If these were the data that MND was working on, not more than 5,000 rental flats need to be built. How could the numbers balloon to tens of thousands of flats needed as mentioned by Boon Wan? Whatever, policy failure or information failure, something is wrong with the housing needs of the people. They can’t say they did not know or did not see it coming. Boon Wan is only in the job for a couple of weeks and he is in a big hurry to clear the mess. The media also reported some views that the ramping up of rental flats would have little impact on the price of private properties. Could this kind of thinking be the main determinant in the supply of public housing, both rental and purchase? There must be many big speculators out there hoarding 10 or 20 units of properties each and fearing that the prices will fall. So are the property developers, all fearing that their profits will fall. It is thus important that the supply of public housing be carefully managed to ensure that the speculators and property developers are happily sitting on huge profits. Yep, must not remove the $8k/$10k ceiling so that these young people have no choice but to support the private property market and help the speculators and developers to make handsome profits. Tell them there are cheap loans, low interest rates, just borrow, half a million, one million, just borrow, no problem. Hope the ramping up of BTO flats will not affect the price of private properties, or else speculators, big investors and developers will be hurt.


Boiling the daft brains

After a long period of gradual abuses, the human beans would have adjusted and adapted to a higher level of pain and absurdity. Subsequently any lowering of suffering would be greeted with relief and gratitude. The high housing price is a living example that the people are getting used to it and paying a little less is cause for celebration. The people are now jubilant over the announcement by Boon Wan of the release of more public housing and a change in policy to build in advance of demand instead of waiting for demand to build up. Great man, compassionate man, with people centric policies, compare to his predecessor. Now this is a caring govt for the people and will look after the needs of the people. They have forgotten how they have ended in the shit hole in the first place. The history of lack of housing in the founding years need not be retold. The story of govt building public housing for the people, where people can go and choose their flats like choosing to buy a car or private properties must be repeated to remind the beans that it should be that way. But after getting used to waiting for 4 or 5 years, the beans are so happy if they can get it in 3. Now they will go down on their knees if they can get it in 2 years. Even the expectation for 5 rm, executive or private properties is forgotten. They no longer aspire for them and are contented with a 4 rm public flats for young professionals. Boiling daft brains are not much different from boiling frogs. The daft Singaporeans deserved to be treated that way, easily conned, easily appeased, easily contented, in their unthinking way. They will take it lying down when told to plan their marriages 4 or 5 years in advance or they will have to suffer the brilliant BTO housing policy. It is their fault for not planning ahead. Dumbos.


Michael - King of Pops

This is what Master Nature painted of Michael. And Master Nature says, beneath the cosmetics, he is Afro American. More pics at Art of RAR Gallery at top right.

The irrelevance of KPIs

Amid the hoohaas for change and the thrills of a Ministers’ Salary Review Committee, many well meaning experts have offered their views and suggestions on how to assess the performance of ministers and the appropriate rewards due to them. KPIs have been booted around as the panacea of all the ills that have surfaced. KPIs are widely used as a HR tool and also seen as a better and more objective tool for performance appraisal. It also has many drawbacks and easily misused by management to serve the wrong objectives with very adverse consequences for the organisation. The recent political developments have provided many interesting aspects on the misuse or misinterpretation of KPIs as a management tool. Kan Seng was promoted to Coordinating Minister earlier, Mah Bow Tan openly announced how great and successful were his housing policies and programmes. He would probably write a memoir on his great contributions to public housing and expecting the people to thank him profusely. These incidents were evidence that they were doing well, or their superior must be telling them so, for a job well done. How well they have done, in the eyes of their superior, using whatever KPIs, can easily be deduced by the amount of performance bonuses and growth bonuses they received over the years. Check it out. From their confidence and the high positions they held in cabinet, there were no doubts that their performances were rated very highly. What about the people’s assessment of their performances? Though the people did not have access to their KPIs, from the reactions and feedback in the media, it is quite clear that both must be ranked at the bottom of the people’s assessment. Here lies the first fault, what their superior think is good may not be good to the people. Both the ministers and their superior could be congratulating themselves for achieving all the goals in their KPIs. But to the people these are not the goals that are good for the people. So we have conflicting expectations and KPIs to start with. How then could KPIs be used to be both relevant to the superior of the ministers and the expectation of the people, if the KPIs are in conflict? Who then shall set the KPIs, the superior, the ministers or the people? If only the three can agree on the same set of KPIs, perhaps that will be a good reason to use KPIs to appraise ministers for their performance. It is a non starter in the first place.


The perpetual strawman for whacking

‘Only US can balance China’, why not ‘Only China can balance the US?’ Why is it necessary to keep the Americans interested in the Western Pacific to balance the influence of China and not keeping the Chinese interested to balance the influence of America? The inherent biased of a WOG or a western biased viewpoint of international balance of power is obvious. China is the perpetual strawman for whacking. ‘You can take Japan, Korea, Asean, and even include Taiwan and India, but you cannot balance China. It is too big. Only with the US and its superior technology can you balance China.’ Why not, ‘You can take Japan, Korea, Asean, and even include Taiwan and India, but you cannot balance the US. It is too big. Only with China and its superior technology can you balance the US?’ This western view has always placed China as the rogue nation, or the nation that is dangerous and all out to bully the smaller nations. In reality, the rogue nation is always the US. Look at the wars and the bullying of smaller nations across the world map. Who is bullying the smaller countries? But if one eats too many hamburgers and potatoes, one’s is gonna look at China like a potato or a hamburger, or think like a potato or hamburger.

Who shall decide who can be President?

Tan Cheng Bock is thinking of standing for the elected Presidency and has to meet the eligibility criteria of the PEC. The criteria include the following to ensure candidates are people of integrity, good character and reputation: 1. At least 45 years 2. Held key appointments such as minister, chief justice, speaker or permanent secretary for not less than 3 years, or been chairman or chief executive of a statutory board. 3. Or similar or equivalent positions in the private sector. The above criteria mean that one must be some big shot or else not good enough even if one is a person of integrity, good character and reputation. A school teacher, school principal, a GP, an accountant, a lawyer, a successful insurance or housing agent, a good social worker, an academic etc etc, will not be considered as good enough. Why? MP also cannot? Not perm sec also cannot? The criteria are actually PAP’s criteria. Do the people have any say in them? Who should decide the eligibility criteria for an elected President, the people or a political party that is in power?

Political appointments are not employments

There are so many views and suggestions on how the Ministerial Salary Review shall be conducted. From a human resource point of view, I think it is necessary to revisit the fundamentals. What is a minister or an MP? With that understanding, we may then approach the design of its compensation in a way that is appropriate to the nature of the position. A minister is not a job like any job, but a political appointment. Just like MPs, they are all elected representatives of the people but holding a higher office for a duration of 5 years. Period. It does not have an unending tenure of service. The fact that some of our ministers have been serving for decades is a peculiarity that may not happen in the future. Even if it does, each period of appointment is a new term of service, unrelated. Why are people talking about annual appraisal, salary increment, bonuses, pension etc etc that are part and parcel of an employee of an organization? What do these terms have to do with a political appointment with a short mandate from the people? A Prime Minister may want to appraise the performance of his ministers and reshuffle his cabinet as he deems fit. That is his prerogative. Is he also thinking of the annual appraisal of an employee which ends with a salary increment or performance bonus? Who is the employer and who is paying for the increment? If the employer is the ruling party, and the money is from the ruling party, by all means, do whatever they like. The employer of the politicians is the people, who voted them for a fixed term of 5 years. They will then have to seek the people’s mandate for another 5 year term. The people/employer will then decide if they want to give them another 5 years. It is like a contract for service with fixed terms. With this kind of contract, the remuneration for the ministers and all politicians shall be a fixed sum for the duration of the mandate. The issue of annual increment does not come into play. It is a package deal for 5 years. Bonus and pension too have no place in such political appointments. If there is any reward for politicians who have served for an exceptional long period of time, this may be provided as a form of one time gratuity to the deserving politician on a separate basis. The same could also apply to the head of govt or head of state as exceptions to the rule. It shall not be an across the board provision for every political office holder as if they are employees. The other important issue is who shall decide how much to pay the politicians? Obviously it is not right for them to approve their own pay cheque. A neutral Salary Review Commission can be appointed as what is already done. The approval shall come from the people through a referendum, something similar to shareholders approving the remunerations of the Board of Directors in an AGM. At most, this may be held once every 5 years or over a longer period if the economic condition or inflation has not deflated the value to of the compensation package to make it meaningless or unattractive. No political party must get away with the impression that once they are elected, the Treasury is their piggy bank and they can create as many appointments as they like to reward their members. Politicians going into politics, to be elected by the people are there to serve the people. They do not join politics as an employment with a career path and a life long pay package. If the current thinking is to go by, the govt will have to set up a human resource ministry to administer performance appraisal on the politicians, including the Prime Minister. Staff performance will become another job specifications for the Prime Minister and Ministers, and of course a salary scale, including a scale for the MPs, and all the terms of conditions of employment. After so many years of one party rule, the people have been distracted to think that ministerial appointments and political appointments are jobs, a career with career path and salary scale. Every year the incumbents can look forward to promotions, career advancement, annual increments and bonuses and pensions. Grandfather’s company? If the political climate is changed and after every election there is a change of govt, all the suggestions for performance appraisal, salaries, bonuses etc etc will become obsolete, irrelevant even if provided for. Please don’t get confuse. A politician and political appointment is not a job. Let the people decide how much they should be remunerated as a package for a fixed term of appointment. Nothing more, nothing less. If they want more, seek another mandate from the people and approval from the people. The current govt has been entrenched for too long to forget that they are not employees of the state like the civil servants. There is no contract of service and no terms of employment. KPIs are being booted by everyone as if it is the main factor to determine how much must a politician be rewarded. It is superfluous actually. The KPI, if useful, is to let the people judge the performance of the politician and whether to re elect him in the next election. It must not be an instrument to reward him with more bonuses or pay increases. The performance of a politician is not for the PM to tell but the people to decide. I hope the Review Committee will approach its task from the point of a 5 year mandate and not a life long employment. They must erase the current thinking that the package comes with all the perks and terms of an employee.


Alice in Water Wonderland

Alice in Water Wonderland. A masterpiece by Nature using Koi as painting material. More pics at Art of RAR Gallery on top right of page.

Daft Singaporeans are so easy to con

The COE is too expensive at $100k. Please make it cheaper. The seller says ok, I will sell it to you for $20k but for two years only. The daft Singaporeans will be so happy to grab it straight away. Woah so cheap, only $20k instead of $100k. This is the mentality of Singaporeans today. Despite the higher level of education, their ability to think clearly is still missing. What is the difference between buying a HDB that costs $400k with a 99 year lease and a $100k flat with only a 25 year lease? Oh yes, it is cheaper, can pay up the loan in 10 years instead of 30 years. Very affordable! This is the kind of suggestions that one forumer wrote in the ST today to bring down HDB price, to make it more affordable. He forgot about why the HDB price is so high in the first place, and whether it is justifiable. I am going to set up a car showroom to sell cars in pieces. The daft Singaporeans can buy the cars very cheap, but in pieces. They can buy two wheels or four wheels first. When they have more money, they can then buy the doors, the seats, and later the engine. And they will be so happy, running around screaming cheap, cheap, very affordable. Singaporeans are daft and for good reasons. Please, bring in more foreign talents to help these daft people. I feel like crying for Singapore.

Notable quote by Lim Wee Kiat

"If the annual salary of the Minister of Information, Communication and Arts is only $500,000, it may pose some problems when he discuss policies with media CEOs who earn millions of dollars because they need not listen to the minister's ideas and proposals, hence a reasonable payout will help to maintain a bit of dignity." - Dr Lim Wee Kiat, PAP MP for Nee Soon GRC, 24 May 2011 in Lianhe Wanbao PS. Lucky has posted an article on this. I just borrow the quote which says a lot about the mindset of our leaders.

Try a different thinking cap

While the Salary Review Committee is thinking, perhaps there should be a rethink on the underlying assumptions for the high ministerial salaries. One key component that was built into the salary is the amount to prevent ministers from being corrupt. The ministers’ salaries thus consist of a normal salary plus a corruption prevention factor that is undefined. Knowing how bad corruption can be at high places, the amount in consideration cannot be small to be effective. There are only 15 ministers plus another few ministers of state and parliamentary secretaries. The total would not be too big a number to monitor for corruption. Maybe we can take a different approach to this corruptibility issue. Remove the corruption prevention component, say X dollars from the pay check. Let those ministers or people in high offices try to be corrupt and let the CPIB go after them and make them pay for their bad behaviors. This approach could put to test how many genuinely good men we have and how many would turn bad. And the amount of savings can be quite substantial if the $X is big. Assuming this is $1m a year per minister, multiply by say 30, to include the other office bearers, and spread it to 50 or 100 years, my god, it is no small change. In practice, I don’t think there will be so many corrupt ministers to pilfer so much money from the system and without being caught. This is a worthwhile experiment to try. From the money to be saved point of view, it definitely makes sense. Another option is to declare the quantum provided to prevent corruption. The ministers may opt to accept this quantum to free them from the temptation. Those ministers who are confident that they will not be tempted even without this sum of compensation can opt out of it. In this way, the more righteous and upright ministers need not be forced to accept this sum of immoral money which they did not want in the first place. There will still be huge savings as many ministers are likely to refuse to accept such compensation and be seen as corruptible. You see, the rationale for this corruption prevention pay is pretty humiliating and self serving as it implies that none of them can stand firmly on the ground and resist the temptation to become corrupt. So the good ones too become tarred by accepting the payout. Time to take a new look at the rationale and a new approach to the tackling the problem of corruption.


Socialising and acclimatising the foreigners

Lately the vigour to welcome the foreigners has been neglected with focus turned to the election. Now that it is over, maybe this exercise to welcome and socialize the foreigners will take off again. I have just one suggestion to the committees organizing such programmes. And this is from the experiences of the past when the sinkehs were arriving in their cargo ships in the last century. When the early sinkehs came to this island, they were taken care of by their clansmen and they helped them to adapt and acclimatize to the local environment. Coming from temperate countries, the tropical heat can be killing. One of the mandatory rituals is to make them take early morning bath. This is to protect them from heatstroke. The side benefits were personal hygiene which actually was not of much concern in those days. Poor labourers were not too perturbed by dirty places and their sweaty and smelly bodies. They slept anywhere, wore clothes for days and bathing and washing to keep clean were furthest in their minds. Today, many new arrivals are still not conscious of their personal hygiene, the students, and the office workers included. From the smell you know that they have not taken their bath for days, or at best, in the morning before leaving for work. Imagine squeezing with them in the packed trains and buses. For goodness sake, all the programme coordinators incharge of foreigners, please do just one thing. Teach them to take bath daily, and the most important one, before leaving for work. It is not only healthy, it not only reduces heat stroke, it keeps them clean and not smelly. The locals cannot or would not want to talk to them or get near to them if the stench is unbearable. And it can become offensive and invite a negative feeling towards them. A clean and not smelling body will make them more pleasant and people will not avoid them. I have no intention to be rude. But I cannot help but to pinch my nose when the body odour from unwashed bodies is too offensive. I hope this message gets through. I want to be nice and polite to them too. I have to say it because many are suffering in silence and cursing behind their backs. PS. Wally should be happy with this.

Why are the people questioning govt policies?

The noise is getting louder. The people, well known to be daft, are questioning govt policies formulated by the top talents of the island. They are openly criticizing the high ministers’ salaries, the high public housing prices, the high influx of foreigners. My advice to the people is not to go over board. These are well though out policies that were good for the country and themselves. Without these policies in place, the island would have long turned into a big slum. It is time that they think deeply, if they can think at all, and say a big thank you for their good fortune. Don’t they want to have jobs? Don’t they want their property prices to keep going up? They need them for their retirement and to pay for world class hospital bills. Say thank you please.

More foreigners snapping up private properties

Is this news? It does not take much to buy up this piece of rock. And if the property market is open to foreigners all over the world, what is there to stop them from throwing their spare cash to wipe up everything? The foreigners in this case are the super rich, and there will always be the super rich. Let’s take a bet when the whole island will be sold to foreigners, I mean the private properties.

Different views on the ministers’ salaries

Even when Hsien Loong appointed a review committee to look at the ministers’ salaries, an indirect admission that something is not right, there are still some quarters willing to accept what it is. A letter in the ST forum talks about provisions of KPIs and measuring performance to justify the loony salaries. Really, if you let the loonies do what they want, they will pay themselves not just a few millions, but tens or hundreds of millions. I called them robbers. They are found mainly in New York where the top executives of the financial industries are exactly doing that. Even the CEO of the stock exchange was grabbing hundreds of millions at one time. There are no jobs, I mean as an employee drawing a salary, that should be paid hundreds of thousands a month except in gambling or maybe in sales. Leave aside the specialized skills, especially those involving life and death, when the practitioner can demand anything under the sky if there is a willing customer to pay for it. How could a CEO whose tasks are mainly administrative and decision making justify a $500k or $1m salary a month? Oh, his decision involves millions and billions. So by saying yes or no to billions, he must be paid a percentage of it? This has been a key justification so far. There will be different views on this. Fair enough, if the decision is right, he gets his percentage cut. What if it is wrong, is he willing to cough out a percentage of the mistake? The other justification is always the market. Let the market forces decide. Shouldn’t that be the case? In the case of political offices, there is an international market that could be used to give a reference point, at least on the upper limits and lower limits. Why is this not used? No matter how exceptional, how unique, no one in his right mind will think it is not loony to pay the head of govt in a little piece of rock more than the head of the US or any major developed country. Our talents are super talents, world best? I have no delusion about that. Our problems are exceptional and demanded extraordinary human feats. I too have no delusion about that. While the two camps are throwing out their views in the media, new media versus old media, we will have to wait for the Review Committee for their recommendations. In the meantime the supporters of loony salaries will get their views heard. The detractors too will know where they can get their views published and heard.


It's over

The lady is walking away, sad that the relationship is over. The guy is in shock. How could it be? How they felt were written all over their faces. This is an image formed by Koi fish. More pics in Art of RAR Gallery at top right.

Indians are the best financial brains

Tharman is not only the Finance Minister, he is also Chairman of MAS. And he is also Chairman of IMF’s International Monetary and Financial Committee. The MD of MAS is also an Indian. The CEO of DBS is an Indian. The CEO of CitiBank and probably several American banks and financial institutions are also of Indian origins. And the finance graduates of Indian Universities are in great demand both in the US and Singapore. The Indians have crafted a niche in the American finance industry, occupying many top and senior positions. Needless to say, many Indians are in the top echelons of the UN and IMF. The Indians shall be very proud of their finance talents and their achievements, especially Tharman, who is widely tipped as the next minority PM of Singapore.

Politicians are servants of the people too

Politicians are servants of the people. Are civil servants also servants of the people? Why should civil servants serve the people in the comfort of govt offices built and paid by the public coffers while politicians have to meet the people in void decks or in places at their own expense? Is the work and service of politicians less important than those of civil servants? We have built comfortable office buildings for Town Councils and Community Clubs for the PAs to serve the people. Is it too much to provide a reasonable office place for the MPs to serve the people in these institutions? The allowance paid to MPs will not be enough if they have to pay for an office space just to look after the people. In principle it should not be so. It is public service, and free service to the people. It is also a duty to the people. The MPs are elected by the people to serve the people and solve their problems. If the civil servants are entitled to proper office space, why can’t the elected representative of the people be entitled to one as well? It is pathetic to see the people meeting their MPs in void decks which are not meant for such purposes. Would there be a mindset change? Maybe we cannot afford such basic necessities for a servant of the people. The servants of the people can only meet the people in void decks or any little corners that are permitted by the authorities, or they will have to pay for the place. How many would accept this kind of logic inherited from the past? Change? Change is a very difficult thing to do if the heart is not there.

$10 horror movie in Woodland

The discovery of a maid who was killed and dumped into a water tank in Woodlands is turning into a horror movie. Many residents ended up bathing with the water from the tank, some boiling green bean soup, making milk for the babies, general cooking, using the piped water when the body was still in the tank. The Town Council had acted quickly to remove the body, flush and clean the tank before telling the residents that the water is safe for drinking. The residents are not happy. They have signed a petition for the tank to be changed. Some must have found this request too sensitive and unreasonable. The tank has been cleaned, no more dead body. What’s wrong with it? The Town Council has offered a $10 waiver on the conservancy fees. This has infuriated the residents even more. The cleansing and prayers for the dead maid is one thing. Normally these could let the matter to rest. What the authority fails to understand is the emotional, religious and psychological part of the affected residents. The phobia and psychological attachment to what had happened in the water tank would not simply go away to some people. Some will be terrified every time they turn on the tap, take a bath, or cook a meal. This cannot be easily explained away. Neither can those badly affected be persuaded to accept things as normal. To the extreme, some could repeatedly visualize the maid’s body still in the tank, or seeing blood when the tap is turned on. Too much horror and ghost stories, yes, and they will play on their imaginations for as long as they are living there. It is something that cannot be removed by a mere $10. The horror movie will keep on replaying in the minds of some residents, and some may even move out for a little peace of mind. Finally it was reported last night that the water tank will be removed. PS. Water is a strategic and important resource. Think of the possibilities if our water security is in the hands of wicked minds, terrorists etc? How many of our strategic and sensitive resources are in the hands of ‘harmless’ uneducated foreign workers and educated foreign talents? Keys to our drinking water in the hands of foreigners! Then, how many of our strategic installations and institutions are in the hands of foreigners? Is it a sensible thing to do? Do we have complete faith in foreigners to manage and control our sensitive and vital installations and institutions?


Ministerial Salary Review

Just a few points to add to the discussion. The appointment of the Chairman of the Review Committee desirably should be someone that is not only independent but must be seen as independent from all the parties affected. A foreign academic, a professor of some international standing can also be considered. Ideally the committee should be free to deliberate with absolutely no worries about breach of confidentiality. The concept of life long pension for elected people’s representative shall be scrapped. Elected representative of the people is not an employment where there is a career path, a route of advancement, annual appraisal and a performance bonus. It shall be a fixed allowance for the 5 year term of office. A one time gratuity may be offered to those who served at ministerial level and above and after a certain number of terms. It has been proven that many good and able citizens are willing to step forward to run for political office without the attraction of a huge payroll. A huge payroll will attract the wrong kind of people with wrong motivation. The myth that there are no good candidates without big dollars has been debunked. For comparison, the portfolio of a politician is very different from the CEOs in the private sector. The latter can be used as a kind of a guide, but one cannot totally ignore the remuneration of politicians in other countries. They are relevant and comparison with them will provide a better perspective of what public office is all about. Pay well, no one is against that. Pay well enough so that they are not tempted to be corrupt. This is a bit controversial but the people would go along up to a point. No need to pay excessively for this. If any public officer is tempted to put his fingers in the cookie jar, let the CPIB take care of it. No amount is good enough to keep a greedy person from turning bad. As for the Presidency, a totally new mindset must be applied as the current premises are far from what that office represents. A ceremonial President with no executive role except a custodial role, should remain more or less a ceremonial role. The remuneration shall be assessed accordingly. The Presidential Office shall not continue to be the joke of the people because of its grossly overpaid salary. It is already a great honour for any citizen to be elected into the Office. A decent and respectable allowance is more than adequate. Citizens seeking this office must not be attracted by the money. Some will even be willing to pay to have this honour. The dignity of the Office of the Presidency must not be tarnished by the controversy over money. An impartial and independent Review Committee is necessary to serve up a recommendation that is relatively more objective and appropriate for those in political office. There will be less doubts and controversies than what it is now.

Change is in the air

Everyone is talking about change, about throwing out old practices and policies. No sacred cows, nothing is sacrosanct. A wave of fresh air is blowing swiftly through the stale political landscape of everything is fine and everything is the best there is. The message of this new drive is that many things are not fine. But that was only a few weeks ago when everything was fine. Would the daft Singaporeans again be told that one party dominant political system is the best for them, that we are unique and cannot have multi party democracy? Would the people be told that there is no need for checks and balances, that a ruling party can check itself? Would the people be told that opposition parties are bad, the opposition politicians are out to destroy the country? There are many old mantras that are not looking like old follies. Would the daft Singaporeans still be saying ayes, ayes, we want more of the old ways? Now that the obstructing wall towards a new future is being torn down, would the Singaporeans look ahead with optimism that the future can be better, or still stuck with the old mindset that change is bad, fearing change, and crawling back into the old comfort zone? What do the Singaporeans want? Be a well fed bird in a cage, be birds in the bird park, where some are kept in cages, some allow to fly freely, within the park’s bigger net, or will they want to soar like eagles, where the limits to where they can go are limited by their own vision and resourcefulness?


The naked truth

At long last, the emperor knew that he was naked. After all the years of deception, with his merry men telling him how beautiful his clothes were, he finally knew that it was all a lie. George Yeo did his part by being the first brave man, out of desperation, to tell it right at Hsien Loong’s face. This was George’s last and most valuable contribution to his party. Reading the Sunday Times today on the slaying of the sacred cow is comical and sickening. I wanted to throw out. Was it hindsight that everyone’s comment on the outrageous minister’s salary was spot on, that it was flawed from the onset? No, it was not hindsight, it was the emperor’s new clothes that no one dared to say differently. It did not help when it was resolutely defended by the undisputed power of the land. Would any sensible person dare to defy the living gods? The minister’s salary was not the only piece of emperor’s clothes that was defended furiously. The high HDB prices, high medical fees, huge income gap, were stoutly pronounced as sound and well till the eve of the GE. The volteface, the grudging admission of failures, and the reluctant apologies, only came about when there was no way out. The emperor has spoken, face the music, admit to one’s mistakes, and no more thumping down at the people, is perhaps a bitter pill to swallow to some. The years of high and mighty, and ruthless dismissal of discontent are over. At least it appears to be so. A more accommodating and earnest approach to deal with the people is emerging. This change of heart and change of style are at a nascent stage and can end up a stillbirth. The risk is high if the reform is not resolute, to back track to the old ways. Please, let the past go, let the yodas go. Still there are many voices clamouring for the yodas to continue with their influence. Do the people really want to revisit the days of brash, unforgiving and vindictive style of politics and flawless schemes concocted in seventh heavens? The yodas pervade the establishment at all levels. They were the power wielders, having tasted power and dispensing them at the misfortune of their opponents. The old thuggish way of political contest is inimical to a gentler, more gracious and less confrontational political system and culture. Let the past go. Start with a new slate, with new people and new mindset, for a new nation, more agreeable, more listening and more consultation, when everyone with a different view is not necessary an enemy. Would there be a new dawn, or the same old morning sun?


Entrenched power, entrenched mindset

The Qing Dynasty ruled China for nearly 400 years. In its dying days it was all about power, holding on to power at all cost, no means was too harsh or brutal, as long as they could hold on to power. An entrenched power would only seek its own interest above all else. Our history has also seen a similar but shorter period of entrenched power. It has developed a mindset among the ruling class that they indeed were the rulers, destined, mandated by heaven, to be at these supreme and privilege positions. And the ruled also acquired a mindset of hopelessness, that it was their fate to be ruled. The years of ‘democrazy’ did not educate the people and the rulers that the country belongs to the people and the people are its real masters. A few weeks after the watershed GE, the old mindset of a ruling class is clearly prevalent. The rulers would not go away. They are so entrenched in their lifestyle as rulers, and it must continue to be so. The children of the ruling class and the elite too acquired a dismissive and unforgiving attitude towards the ruled. We have seen and heard it before. In the midst of an outcry for change, some quarters of the ruling class claimed to have heard, and are giving out signals for change and reform, like the Qing Dynasty. In the latter, many reformers lost the battle and were either killed, imprisoned or ran away. Reforming a dynasty from its old ways is not as easy as it thinks, as long as power still resides in the hands of the old ways. A few selected letters in the ST forum deemed worthy, or the prevalent views of the people, are calling for the retention of the yodas, and an unwritten consent for the old Machiavellian ways of knuckle dusters, threats, fears, law suits, just do what I say but don’t do what I do. Be content and be grateful, and shut up. The yodas no doubt are still good and able for many good years. They don’t become dummies overnight. They are still what they are, still entrenched in their old mindset and old abrasive styles. Is this what the people want? More haughty and cocky top down approach of father knows best, and carry a cane ready to strike at the wayward kids? In the new line up of younger leaders, there are several very promising young men that have entered the ring, with a clean slate, and a new mindset. If there is any hope of reform and transformation to a more gracious ruling class, less vindictive, more forgiving and generous, less thuggish, it must come from these new faces. Among the older reformers, perhaps a small handful could be sold to the idea of reform, and genuinely want to take a new approach. As for the rest, the entrenched mindset of ruthless and absolute executive power remains intact, waiting for the day to say, ‘I told you so, we must do it the way we knew better. The ruled only understand the rule of power.’ We are at a threshold of a new incoming tide and a receding old tide, refusing to go away. There can be no real reform if the yodas will not go away. Yes, the leopard will not change its spots. Who will triumph in this tussle for power and change, and how long will it take? The decadent Qing Dynasty dragged on for decades before a revolution finally sent them to oblivion, and before they struck havoc and destruction to lives and the country in general.


No political capital left

In one GE, the PAP has practically spent every cent of its political capital to ride back to Parliament, but with only 60% of popular votes. Many ministers in GRCs managed less than 60% of the votes. They pulled through not on their own merits, for many there were none, but on the goodwill of the party built over the decades. It is quite clear that whatever political capital there was, all has been expended in this election. And comes 2016, there will be nothing left to fall back on. The last 10 years of arrogance, aloofness and unpopular policies that were not well received would be in the track record as deficits. Also by then, the party cannot think of depending on the goodwill of LKY to give them a lift. What a coincidence that both the party and LKY would be spent force then. 2016 will be a defining year, to determine if PAP will still be in power or in the opposition. And it has to rebuild its tarnished reputation and political capital from this very moment. This GE it only has a margin of 20% majority vote which means a 10% swing will become a make or break result. This is how precarious its position is now. The ground sentiment favouring the PAP has shifted and leaving only a few hard core believers in the camp. With more than 30% already entrenched in the opposition camp, with probably another 10% gone, there is barely 10% left of swing votes to convince. What makes matter worst is that the core of PAP supporters will be adopting a wait and see approach. Many no longer believe in the party wholesale like before. They have become more wary of a self serving party, and unless the party can prove otherwise, their votes cannot be taken for granted. The fortune of the PAP has changed, in just a short few days. Amazing indeed! The invincibility, the diehard believers that would simply vote for the party, will be no diehards anymore. There is a flutter in their hearts. The talk of another 10 or 15 years is now looking like wishful thinking. 2016 is going to be a new ball game and the electorate will have little emotional attachments to the PAP. The brand has lost its glamour and devotees. And with the pressure for more disclosure on how much the ministers are really getting mounts, the lack of transparency, to come clean, will bear heavily on the little trust that is left on the party.

Housing policy parameters

The parameters used to determine what is affordable housing should be discarded as it is a wicked way to enslave our young to a home that is no bigger than a shoe box. The formula of 2 incomes, 30% and 30 years to pay up is outrageous as the consequences of paying so much of two persons’ income just for a roof over their head went beyond just financial cost. It has a wide ranging negative social cost for the people and the country as well. Inflation, high cost of living, family formation and bringing up children, even the digits to go into the production of labour, are gravely affected by this sick formula. The argument that it is an international practice is bull. Why don’t the policy makers adopt the international practice of what is a decent salary for themselves as practiced internationally, which incidentally will be no more than 10% of what they are getting now? What is it that their incomes can be unique and defy all conventions? Why is it that they are willing to break all rules and norms when their own interests are at stake and persist in sticking to a deadly formula that is wearing down our future generations financially and emotionally? The formula is robbing the income of our young and depleting their savings for retirement. It is a seriously flawed formula and must be changed immediately for the good of the people and country. All the reasons against this formula have been aired, all the bad and negative consequences arising from this bad formula are there to be seen and are being lived by the bulk of the population. Would this diseased sacred cow be slaughtered? Or would the same song be sung and praised, that this is the best formula for the people? Who is benefitting from this formula and who is paying a heavy price for it? The beneficiaries are the govt, developers and the rich property owners. The adversely affected is everyone other than these three groups of people. Can we see a drastic and badly needed change in the housing parameters to one that is based on a single income and shorter period of repayment? Two income families are destructive in many ways for bringing up children and building a home.


Crazy pony

A crazy pony running away. Its backside is facing backwards squarely. The pony is on the right with its head looking back. Livelier than Hsu Pei Hong's horses. More pics on Art of RAR Gallery on top right.

The Duke of Bukit Timah

After 45 years of history, our political development is taking on the image of medieval Europe when society was divided into the ruling class, the gentry, the landowners and the farmers. We have unwittingly developed a similar ruling class, a gentry class, landlords and of course the worker class that do all the working today to feed the ruling class. The ruling class and gentry are those that have contributed to the success story of this island and it is timely that they should be honoured by the peasants and workers. As a republic, titles like kings and princes may be a bit too much to stomach. Perhaps something less grandeur, like Dukes and Duchess, Counts and Countess, Barons and Baroness would sound quite pleasing. They would also remind the people of our rich colonial past without being seen as subjects of an empire if we were to use titles like Sir or Datuk. The Duke of Bukit Timah, the Count of Toa Payoh, the Baron of Sengkang, etc etc, nice right? And the families of such title holders be entitled to a life pension, I mean stipend, to befit their nobility. Such titles will be better than trying to reinvent the wheel, like Emeritus Ministers or things like dat. And when there is a wedding among these nobilities, we can make it real big, and sell souvenir T shirts, cups and glasses as well. Good for tourism and tourist dollars. The Europeans still have their kings and royalties, the Indians have their Maharajahs, we can have out very own nobilities. And Catherine Lim can write books about the exploits and adventures of Dukes, Counts and Baroness instead of about bind foot maids, so unattractive subjects.

The GE aftermath - Cabinet shake out

Hsien Loong gave his cabinet a big shake out and ended up with a new wardrobe. Two were rejected earlier in the GE, two were out of fashion and retired, two museum pieces were removed, and three unpopular pieces were thrown out. In came two of the latest fashionwear while the whole wardrobe was rearranged with mix and match. The people must be eagerly waiting to see what new clothes would Hsien Loong wear, and hopefully not the same proverbial emperor’s new clothes again. With the superannuation of three of the most controversial ministers, and the big shuffle, Hsien Loong has cleared up everything and preparing a new recipe. The old mindset, the old clever ways and the old sacred cows are expected to be slaughtered. The new men in charge have no need to defend them and not having to answer for them. Can the people really hope for a new and radical change? For a start, no more $8 heart by pass. On the other hand, maybe $8 for a 5 rm flat. If the former is possible, the later should be easy. From all the signals flying around, the great housing success stories are history. The people can expect the whole ministry to be turned upside down, with the past glories turning to past follies. With a new man in Health, would the policies of having world class hospitals be toned down when there are not enough world class patients to pay the world class bills? There is no doubt that the public hospitals are world class and a pride of the nation. Unfortunately many patients would be made bankrupt if they are admitted for a major illness or have to stay in a few days longer. The minister must be reminded of the saying, ‘better die than be sick.’ Transportation is likely to be relooked at. This is a major infrastructure issue that cannot be transformed overnight. It would take longer than 3 to 4 years of building a public flat to restructure the transportation system. But the ineffective use of hiking ERP charges and parking fees that would not change anything may not be applied so regularly as in the past. The immediate issue is to bring down transportation cost before it paralyses a whole nation, with people choosing to stay at home when they find it too costly to take public transport. Changes are expected in all the ministries after the mechanic opened the shining car’s bonnet only to find practically every system in need of a major overhaul. Funny isn’t it? How did all this come about? The voice of a disgruntled people has finally been heard, and the people wanted change, by throwing their support for opposition voices. The popularity vote for the govt is down to a level that if nothing changes, the next election could see the govt being bundled out for good. The voice will be louder with the liberalization of the new media. The gongs and the bells are ringing loud and clear, incessantly. The noise is no longer noise, but anger, frustration, and unhappiness. Clarification, this group excludes those that have already attained a Swiss standard of living, and the believers. The govt would have to take heed or it would not be given another chance. Hsien Loong’s ransacking of his cabinet is a big signal for change. Now the people wait, while the changes take shape, for good or for worst. 5 years is all Hsien Loong got. PS. Originally I wanted to end this article with 'The reign of Hsien Loong starts today'. Looking at the big picture, I changed my mind.


Major cabinet reshuffle

Hsien Loong has announced a new cabinet with major changes. Kan Seng, Mah Bow Tan and Raymond Lim have retired from the cabinet. Heng Swee Kiat is the new Education Minister while Chan Chun Sing is Ag MCYS. Several appointments were shuffled. Watch out for the news tonight.

Are they still in politics or out of politics?

The shocking resignations. Radio Australia reported that both LKY and Chok Tong are out of active politics. What does this mean? Is there such a thing as active politics or inactive politics? Or is it another case of half in and half out? They may have left the cabinet, but they are both elected MPs and are paid politicians. So what are their jobs now that they are no longer inside the cabinet? For one, Chok Tong will spend more time coaching the newbies. But would both of them be serving their constituents in MPS? When they were both ministers, they could claim to be busy, one crystal balling, and one travelling. Now that these heavy duties and responsibilities are out of the way, would they really be meeting the residents and help them with their problems, like how to apply for jobs, how to apply for HDB flats, how to apply for subsidies? As the elected representatives of the people, they have the mandate to sit in Parliament to speak for the people. If they are no longer in active politics because they are now MPs, does it mean that all the MPs are also not in active politics? Are part time MPs in active politics or are they part time politicians? What is inactive or not active politics? Radio Australia, please explain. Sylvia Lim has resigned from her job as a lecturer in the Polytechnic to be a full time MP and be in active politics.

A measure of fairplay and decency

As the TPL storm continues to brew, I want to make it clear that I have nothing against Tin Pei Ling. She can be just anyone’s daughter for that matter. I have tried not to get involved in this issue as it just doesn’t look good making her the scapegoat for the venting of anger and frustration of something much larger. The anger is actually all about how justice is perceived to be unfairly carried out, about how public money is being spent, about a system that the people are rejecting. This storm is not going away even if people try to sweep it under the carpet, trying not to talk about it. As long as it is not settled fairly under the law, it will continue to bug the govt for all it takes. The official news reported that a police report was made and that the posting and infringement of the Cooling Off Day was removed after 20 minutes. The netizens are calling foul. The other party goes on with their life as if nothing had happened. Would 20 minutes be too insignificant, or how long is bad enough? Should 35 sec be considered too long? Or how many seconds are there in 20 mins? The team that was disqualified in Tanjong Pagar GRC was technically or officially declared late by 35 sec. And that was all it took to be disqualified from the GE. The law is the law. Even 1 sec is 1 sec too late, and 20 minutes are 20 minutes too long. Now you know why the netizens are incensed.


Singapore Festival of Arts - Global Warming

Singapore is now hosting the Festival of Arts. This piece called Global Warming, is my little contribution to the Festival. The melting fishes in the photo are symbolic of what could happen if global warming continues and is left unheeded. There are some resemblance to Salvador Dali's melting clock except that this is an actual photo created using the Art of RAR technique, and not a painting. More photos in the Art of RAR Gallery at top right.

Exits weaken team

This is the title of an article in the ST forum today by a Lim Chuan Hock. He was lamenting on the departure of LKY, Chok Tong, Jayakumar and George Yeo from the govt. He felt that the team has been weaken from their departure. He acknowledged and praised the senior politicians for their contributions to what we are today. I can share his fear and concern for the weak team that is left behind. After so many years of being in office, and many are already nearing their sixties, the perception is that they are not good enough, probably still immature perhaps, that without the presence of the yodas to guide them, they are going to see hard times. And Singaporeans are nervous under their charge. They really need the yodas to be around to be safe. Isn't it sad that the current crop of leaders is still seen as inept, that they are unable to give the people the confidence that with them in charge, things will be better than before? Though I share the writer's concern, I think things should brighten up. The first sign of a better future is the increasing sales of private properties and at higher price. I can continue my dream of selling my HDB flat at $1m. This piece of good news is everywhere in the media. All the HDB flat owners must be very happy and waiting for the perfect timing to sell off their milllion dollar flats. Thank God that they have return the PAP to power. Have no fear. The new team will do much better than the yodas. Unless we are saying that the yodas are indispensable and the new teams will never grow up.


Green monster

A green monster watching a dancing flame. More photo paintings in Art of RAR Gallery on top right.

Whither the Stock market?

What would happen if there is no retail traders left in the market, of if the number is too small to be meaningful? The last few weeks told a story of a stock market that is verging on the edge of being barren, when retail or genuine investors have abandoned the market for their own safety. At 1 billion shares transacted daily, there was hardly any phone ringing in the trading floor of broking houses. Compare this to the heydays of the 1990s when a billion shares were traded, the phones of all the remisiers would not stop ringing for the whole day. In fact many had problems picking up their phones as two or three phones would be ringing at the same time. The tradings then were genuine, by traders and retail investors. Today, despite the hue and cry of 1 billion or 2 billion shares traded at times, remisiers are biting their finger nails wondering why there is no phone call from their clients. In a way the volume is generated by artificial trades, programme tradings, churnings by funds, high speed tradings, all generating no commissions, as they were either house trades or funds’ own tradings. And the funds are demanding that the system be made more friendly for them to trade, even making it cheaper, or to trade for free. The stock market has been transformed to the likes and dictates of the big funds to facilitate their tradings. What the regulators have forgotten is that the funds are not here to do charity. They are in the market for profit. And, unfortunately, stock market trading is a zero sum game. When the funds are making profits, someone else is losing his pants. We have reached a state when most of the big retail traders and investors have lost practically everything and are no longer in the market. Only a few small traders who have not lost their savings yet, and a few remisiers who still have some money left to lose, are left in the market. As days pass, this number is going to dwindle to non existence, if the system continues in this mode. The question is whether the broking houses can survive without the income from commissions generated by the retail investors or high net worth clients? The exchange can still laugh all the way to the banks with the clearing fees from the high volume. But the high volume means nothing to broking houses that have to feed all its staff, rentals, overheads etc etc. When retail trading reaches a point that is no longer able to sustain the business, the broking houses will have to pack their bags or downsize. But even before that, the funds that the exchange is begging to trade in the market will be the first to disappear from the scene. When there is no money to be made, there is no reason to be here even if they can trade for free. Who is left to feed the big funds? Can the stock market continue to exist without the participation of genuine investors? Can the current mode of operation that favours the big funds sustain the business of the stock exchange? As Merlin continues to wave his magic wand, the stock market is turning into a toad instead of a prince. And no one knows what is wrong with the market. They think that they can keep waving the magic wand and something good will come out from it when fundamentally the market is rotting at the core.

A church besieged

George Yeo figuratively described the PAP as a broad church. Now you can understand why the ‘pastor’ called on the sinners to repent, and why the believers shouted, ‘In George we trust!’. This new religion can be appropriately called Papism, or shall it be called Papianity? It is a big church in all counts, and very powerful with hundreds of thousands of staunch believers. It can and has blessed many people to richness and a good life. It serves the people and works for the good of the people. It has its own belief system and commandments of course. It also has a jealous god. It does not take it kindly on believers of other gods. It cannot tolerate the existence of other gods. And of course it is a white god and all its angels are in white. Not forgetting the church elders elevating themselves to higher mortals. In its early days there were persecutions of the non believers. Some were imprisoned, some burnt at the stake, some fled. It was fortunate that the persecution did not reach the level of the Inquisition. Lately the Holy Order has taken some knocks. The quest for material well being instead of spiritual well being has unsettled many believers. The absolute power of the Holy See is also being questioned. The mantra that ‘We are gods’ is starting to be ridiculed. Even ministers are questioning the wisdom of the core beliefs. There are signs that some reformists are attempting to break away from the church. There is a high possibility that a protestant movement may surface and a breakaway church of Singapore be founded to rival the old church. The making of a new church is eminent. Some ministers have openly criticized the old church and have left. Many believers are troubled with their belief and may just join the new church. They would want a new beginning and not more of the same. The old church has simply grown too big, a mega church, too rich, too many members who are not really believers but eat religion to get fed and wealthy. Verily I said unto you. Whoever believes in me shall have everlasting life. Seek ye first the truth, and the truth shall set you free. Amen. PS. I am posting this for fun reading, political humour. Please don’t call me a mobster.


I Turkey, I Duck

A turkey and duck standing side by side with the turkey in the far side. Another interpretation is that the duck is the turkey and the turkey behind is saying I duck. More pics in Art of RAR Gallery in top right link.

I was called a mobster in Temasek Review

Not by TR of course. TR reposted my article ‘The daft Singaporeans voted’ and it drew more than 110 responses and growing. One blogger by the nick of CPCM called me a mobster because he said I called the Singaporeans daft. Would he also label everyone who called Singaporeans daft as mobsters too? In his haste and anger, he forgot how the label ‘daft Singaporeans’ came about. If he bothers to read my article in full, he would have realised that I did not really called the Singaporeans daft, but responsible and thinking people, who voted using their heads. People who used their heads, thinking and rational cannot be daft, or could they? I quote from my article ‘The pattern and consistency in the way the daft Singaporeans voted are pretty predictable by now. They have seen what PAP could do and are enjoying the success and would only vote for good candidates if they are available. They are responsible and voted with their heads.’ The use of the word daft in the my article is in a cynical manner. Now who is daft, who is or are the mobsters: )

A joint statement to quit the cabinet

MM and SM are thinking more alike, it seems. Both decided to quit the cabinet to let a younger team of ministers led by a nearly 60 year old PM to start with a clean slate. Relatively, a young team was when LKY became a PM at 35, I think. Now that was a young team. At 60, many were grandfathers and have long forgotten about pacifiers and could hardly be considered young anymore. It’s better late than never. My original take was that both LKY and Chok Tong would not even contest the GE. I think LKY wanted to do that long ago, but for obvious reason, unable to let him go solo. Just before the GE, Hsien Loong was quoted to have said that both LKY and Chok Tong would be his advisers, a role that could make his job much easier, but also made him a PM under watch, with two yodas breathing down his neck. With Chok Tong still wanting to stay in politics, LKY too had to be around. It is either both quit or both stay. Chok Tong has proven to be quite a persistent stayer so far. And for him to quit the cabinet is the best that could be gotten. Now LKY can be more at ease as both are now MPs and should not be in the thick of decision making. The next move would likely be another joint statement that both would step down as MP. As precedence had been set, there would not be a need for a by election, and the govt will still be an absolute majority in Parliament, without rocking the boat. Only then would everyone be at ease, that a new era has dawn and the PAP’s internal struggle for power has a clear winner.


What if there was no alternate media?

Goh Meng Seng seems to think that the better performance of the opposition parties this round should be credited to the main stream media and that alternate media was redundant. There were obviously many factors that turned the tide against the govt this time round and not any single factor would have done it. The PAP had done itself in after years of aloofness for sure. From the word go, their presentation of new citizens and the own goal scored against Tin had already forced them on the defensive. But just look at the role of alternate media in this discussion in particular. Why did the main media take a more agreeable role of having a little more coverage of the opposition? Why were there lesser personal attacks on the opposition? The main media knew that if they did not give a more balance coverage, the alternate media would do it for them. Not only would they be seen as biased, they would lose readership if the readers found them wanting. Not only that the alternate media blew the trumpets of the opposition candidates, they forced the news on the main media. With the alternate media, without the twits and facebook, how many would be able to see the huge followings of Nicole? And in the absence of such news, how much coverage would Nicole be given in the main media. There are many other roles that the alternate media were performing. One of its major roles was to keep the ruling party candidates in check. Anything garbage they said would be amplified to an embarrassing level that they had to be very careful themselves. And if they dared hit below the belt, they could be assured that the alternate media would be there to tell all. The alternate media was the watchdog, the guardian, the rascals that would play foul if tempted or invited by foul players. Do not underestimate the alternate media. Think of the past elections when the alternate media was not there and coverage was the monopoly of the main media. That could be repeated with impunity if there was no alternate media. Any unfavourable news or remarks today would go viral in an instant. This is much more effective and efficient than going through the printing press and waiting for the news to be broadcast. Alternate media is instant media. Ignore them at your own peril.

One last chance

The professional reporters and journalists have a last chance to write about this newsworthy article before Leong Sze Hian starts to bang his abacus. The people must all be eagerly waiting to know how much George Yeo and Lim Hwee Hua will be getting for their pensions in the next 40 years, assuming they live till the ripe age of 90 or more. Their salaries are public knowledge and the formula for calculating their pensions too are available everywhere. The point now is who will be the first to claim credit for putting this as a piece of news and earn the right to put his/her name to it? Without even cracking my head, I think the ballpark figure will be $1m and $2m per annum for Hwee Hua and George respectively. The best part is that they will not have to lift a finger to get this sum of money, which incidentally, is more than the dumb ass sitting in the White House sweating his guts out to prove that he is a worthy President. It is so pleasant to live life on such a pension. Working for 15 and 23 years respectively, and they earn the right to millions for life. I wish I could be in their shoes. I will say a very big thank you to the people of Singapore for the dole. Now to step back and see whether TOC or which main media is going to claim this honour. I am sure it is newsworthy. The world too will be eagerly waiting to get a hold of this news.

Plague of the locusts

After the heat of fire, there shall be rain and flood. The third sign shall be the plague of locusts. They shall come, all 900,000 of them, to devour everything in their path. No one will be spare. The first 60,000 shall come from the West, the next 60,000 from the East, and they will take turns, with more and more in numbers, until all 900,000 have swarm the land. There shall be no other churches except the church of the father. And you shall call no one father. You shall have only one father and he is in heaven. This is my promise, for your disobedience.


Notable quote by redbean

'I have my ears on the ground, but I hear nothing'. Redbean

What a shame

In 1955, when David Marshall was elected as the Chief Minister of the island, he was not given an office to execute his duties. The mean British, who were the colonial masters then, gave him a small table and a chair next to the staircase, like the desk of a security guard. That was the contempt the British rulers had for a locally elected leader of the people. David Marshall took the insult in his stride, for he knew that there was nothing he could do against the masters of the day. And it seemed that we have learnt from the British well, not be better masters, but on how to continue with the tradition of not providing an office to our modern day elected representatives of the people. It must be a wise practice of the colonial masters that we must retain, if not good, as a reminder of how things were then. Last night I watched the news and was shocked to see Yaw Shin Leong, the newly elected MP of Hougang, conducting his meet the people’s session in a void deck. Doesn’t the elected representative of the people deserved to be given a proper place to serve the people? I can only hope that I am wrong, that it was a temporary arrangement as he is a newly elected MP. I believe that in all decency, no matter which party the MP comes from, once he has been elected by the people to be their representative, it is only proper that the state provides him with an office space to carry out his duties to the people. Depriving him of such a facility is an insult to the office and the people that elected him to office. A people’s elected MP is not running his own private business. He is there to serve the people for the well being of the state. It cannot be that an office of the state, a representative of the people who can sit in Parliament to discuss national issues, have to meet the people in the void deck, or to pay for his own office. It cannot be that the country, with all the billions in reserves it has, is too poor to afford such an arrangement. Sounds very third world really. It would be interesting if the MP of Jalan Besar or Joo Chiat should set up his office in the back lane of Desker Road or on the five foot way outside a bar in Joo Chiat. I think I am wrong, and all elected MPs will be allocated a reasonable office for sure, in respect of the office and for him to carry out his duties to the people. But if this is not the case, then Yaw Shin Leong and all the MPs must be very grateful that the HDB did not charge them rent for the use of the void deck or to chase them away. I had a dream last night. I was walking along the void deck of some HDB flats and came face to face with some sign boards. One read ‘No football allowed’. Another one read ‘No meet the people session allowed’. Then I woke up only to know that it was a bad dream. I know that a first world country would not allow such things to happen when we can pay ministers in millions and with world class offices in the heart of town. Are we willing to continue to live with this shame?


Goh Meng Seng accepting full responsibility

Goh Meng Seng is accepting full responsibility for the failure of his party to win any seat. So, is saying accepting responsibility enough? Is this the culture of politicians here? Happily accepting responsibility and life goes on? The Japanese PM is forgoing his PM allowance to take responsibility for the nuclear disaster in Fukushima. This is what taking responsibility is all about. They used to slit their own tummy with a short knife or resign in shame for any faults or wrongs coming from their offices. The GRC of Tampines was ripe for the taking. It was very unfortunate that NSP failed to take it and many people, especially the young people waiting to buy their first flat, will have to suffer for it. Goh Meng Seng’s minister specific strategy was right. Any minister that fouled up would not be able to defend their failures. And everyone is expecting Tampines to fall. Goh Meng Seng’s failure was to over extend his forces. An opposition party cannot think of winning a GRC with half strength, or less than half strength. His major fault is, as everyone now knows now, spreading his talents too thin. Marine Parade was an abnormally. The team in Marine Parade was a no hoper. The Nicole phenomenon caught everyone by surprise and exposed the weaknesses of Marine Parade. The failure of Goh Meng Seng’s strategy of spreading his forces too thin also came to bug him in Marine Parade. Marine Parade could be his in the next GE if PAP did not change the team. This time round it was not a possibility from an objective assessment of the situation before the GE. With the success of Nicole, Goh Meng Seng taught he could have Marine Parade. But he forgot that the rest of the candidates were very weak. Depending on Nicole alone could just go that far. The biggest regret is still Tampines. A joining of forces with the other parties for the next GE would be very fruitful is the political climate is similar to what it is today. The NSP must learn from this fiasco after paying such a huge tuition fee. The principles behind the minister specific strategy is the same as turning weakness into strength, by concentrating the limited fire power on a weak point. Don't ever think of winning a GRC with a weak team.

The feedback that PAP needs

Two letters in the ST forum today by a Anthony Oei and a Chan Jia Huan conveyed all the things that the govt likes to hear. These are the type of feedbacks that the govt badly needed to legitimize its style of governing. It is a testimony of the people’s desire for the type of govt they want, and the type of govt they deserve. In Anthony’s letter, it was all congratulatory, that it was a big victory for the PAP for winning 81 out of 87 parliamentary seats. It was a big lost to the opposition for losing Potong Pasir. He added, The PAP’s performance is a clear indication that the majority of Singaporeans still want the party to govern, despite the party lost its first GRC and Hougang, and suffered a drop in the overall share of the vote.’ If the ground is thinking the same way, PAP should pat itself on its back and say well done. The people are all behind the PAP, and there is no need to make nonsensical talks about listening to the people or serving the people. The results showed that the PAP had been listening to the PAP and serving the people well and that’s how they got the convincing win in the GE. Chan Jia Huan was more or less repeating what the PAP had been saying all the time. We are too small, cannot afford a two party system, all system will break down, bickering, rioting, MPs fighting in Parliament, impasses, and everything that is wrong in a two party or multi party system. What music to the ears of those who advocate for a one party dictatorship? This kind of feedback must be what the PAP needs. And the ST is printing it in its pages. It is the voice of the people. I think the people who voted for the opposition must be regretting their mistakes and will definitely vote for the PAP in the next GE, with overwhelming majority. The PAP can now be at ease that the people are against the opposition and against a multi party political system. Excellent feedback. Reality check, solid PAP victory.

They were so drunk

They were the superer of all the super talents in the island. They were the thinkers and tinkers, whose ability to plan, to be proactive, to read into the future, to nip problems in the bud, were claimed as superior and worth every million they are paid, but they failed to see what is coming. They went on and on dismissing the daft Singaporeans, telling the Singaporeans to buck up, to down grade, not to expect too much if they could not afford it, tighten belt, to acept a quality of life worst off than their uneducated or semi educated parents, while they pay themselves millions and millions and enjoy a living standard far exceeding the Swiss. They think the people are blind, and daft of course. They were so drunk that they could only uttered that they empathized with the people’s plight, but questioned the poor if want to eat in hawker centre, food court or restaurant over $50. They could not understand what $50 mean to the poor. They only understand that they needed millions and millions to maintain their opulent lifestyle. Right into the midst of the GE, their swollenheads were still in the clouds, not knowing what the ground was like. Only the intense pressure in Aljunied jolted George Yeo into awareness, that the anger of the people was real. And only the last couple of days that they started to change tack, to apologise, to want to listen to the people, to change their style of talking down to the people. The dismissal of George Yeo was a defiance act, a rebellion against the PAP. And the people of Aljunied made it very clear that the days of the PAP are over. The general public too sent the same message. The losing of one GRC was a cautious step taken by the people. They were still unsure of how the opposition would be like. They were looking for change, but with apprehension. The popular vote of the PAP fell from 77% to 66% to 60% must say something. Would the high and mighty understand? If the WP could show the people of Aljunied and the rest of the island that they could manage the estate well, if they could show that they are responsible and as able as the PAP in Parliament, the next GE will see a sea of change that the people have been waiting for all these years. Too much good food and good life is like having too much fat in the head.


Time to depoliticise community organizations

The staff of town councils in Potong Pasir and Aljunied GRC is worried that they may lose their jobs with the change of political masters. This is a very unnecessary and divisive situation where people’s livelihood is tied to the fate of political parties. It is very unhealthy and should not be such as the innocent people should not be dragged into the turmoil and tussle for political power. The town councils are not the only organization that is affected by this kind of arrangement. There are many that need to be depoliticized. In the aftermath of the fallen Aljunied GRC, Zainul Abidin ‘assured the activists that residents who need urgent help can go to the community centre, where the chairman of the Citizen’s Consultative Committee will write letters on their behalf to the authorities.’ Don’t they have a new set of MPs to handle their problems? Aren’t the community centres and the CCCs non political organizations, neutral social or govt organizations that would continue to operate to serve the people no matter which political party comes to power? For the good of the country and the people, and the staff concerned, it is better that such institutions be made to be apolitical and will not have to suffer the fate of political changes. PS. Heard that a NSP supporter has been sacked from a Town Council. If this is true, it is not going to look good for coming together as one people after the GE.

First sign of god's anger

The people of Aljunied had defied god and voted for another god. It is time for them to repent for the next 5 years. The first sign of god's anger is here...hot weather. And the people shall bear with the heat. Altogether there shall be 7 signs, 6 more to go. Flooding is likely to be next. The third sign must be swarms of locusts, in the image of man.

How to bring down a GRC?

The opposition parties adopted different strategies in the GE to take on the PAP. Some took the GE as a war and tried to cover every inch of the ground with every man they got. This proved to be very costly and wasteful, and ineffective against a superior enemy. The WP and SDP adopted a strategy that turned weakness into strength. What they did was to concentrate their fire power against a small section of the enemy forces, ie, weak overall, but strength in a small corner of the battle field. They have studied the Art of War well. Identify the weaknesses of the enemy, and exploit it to their advantage. A GRC is a fortress, impenetrable. But it must have some weaknesses. The PAP has made them almost unsinkable by having one, and now two ministers to helm them. The weakness is the inclusion of one or two weak candidates that they want to sneak into Parliament. Now get the idea? The opposition can do one better by mounting a team of their best candidates, an A Team against a B Team with a few stragglers attached. This could be the magic formula. And this could win the NSP Marine Parade and Tampines if they had not diluted their strength by spreading too thin. The SDP was almost there. Vincent could probably be their weak link. Not everyone would accept him as he is, and some organizations would even tell their followers to stay away from him. Aljunied is a different case. The PAP team was in no way inferior to the WP. They were pitting strength to strength. There were other elements favouring the opposition, and when at par, the votes go to the opposition. This strategy could be applied in the next GE and the PAP would have to be doubly careful to defend the GRCs. Trying to sneak in weak candidates may no longer be that easy. And if they add another layer of armour, like putting up a genuinely strong GRC team, the weak candidates would be forced to stand alone in SMCs. The PAP would not have the whole battle ground to themselves and can place their soldiers at will. What ever they do, they are going to expose more weaknesses in their line up to be exploited.

Luxury cars should adopt the sales formula of HDB

A practically risk free sales formula like the selling of HDB flats is the best for companies selling luxury cars. These companies can sell their cars under the BTO scheme where the buyers have to pay a deposit upfront to confirm intent to purchase. The companies can set a block of 100 orders or a multiple of that, and only when the orders are filled, will they place the orders with the manufacturers. The parent companies would then start to hire the workers, purchase material and activate the production lines. And they can apply the JIT principle for delivery of the cars. This sales formula will make the companies so efficient in producing exactly the number of cars to be sold. And there is no need to carry stocks, saving on storage and depreciating costs and also no risk of unsold cars. The profit margin will definitely go up, and so are the prices, as they are not easily available. Adopting such a sales formula, a sure win formula, the customers would have to plan their purchases well in advance as it will take maybe a year or two before they can take delivery of the cars. I am recommending this sales formula to Mercedes, BMW, Porsche and Audi, for a small fee of course. I think they will love this ingenious idea. It can only come from Singapore, a uniquely Singaporean formula. No more production headache, no more carrying of unwanted stocks. The headache is passed to the buyers of course.


Standing Cow

A circus act. The trainer in black T holding up a cow standing on two legs. More pics in Ar of RAR Gallery on top right.

Residents Meeting in Potong Pasir?

I wonder what it is all about. Anyone heard about this meeting this evening at 6pm?

The system is so unjust and unkind

The displeasure of Tin Pei Ling continues. Many netizens and twitters are still clamouring for her to resign for posting in her facebook during the Cooling Off Day. Some were outright in their criticism that she was unsuitable to be a MP. The poor girl is getting an undue amount of bad coverage which is very unfair and cruel to her. She is at most an eager beaver who believes that she could be an MP. But who put her there, or who gave her the idea in the first place? There was a panel of wise men and women who thought she was good enough, the best they could find. Obviously there was a mismatch of potential in the assessment against the people’s perception after her appearance in the political scene. It may be not right to blame just a system. In fact there were two systems that are at fault. One is the highly promoted system of Tea Party that is deemed to be able to identify the best talents for political leadership. The second flawed system is the GRC. In the first, any failure is the failure of the interviewers to dig deep enough to find out the potential of the candidate. Or it could mean that what is considered to be good to the interviewers, their criteria of goodness, is questionable. The fact is that the rulers and the people don’t see things from the same perspective. Maybe, just maybe, they were looking for a trainee MP, to be trained on the job. I think this makes sense. Or maybe they are thinking that with GRC, you can hang a PAP tag on anything and will still be elected. The fact that Tin got elected is enough to prove that it is true. Only thing they did not bargain for is the wrath of the people, which is unfairly directed at Tin. She is just a victim of circumstances, of the system, of too much good thing. The thing now is that it is already a cooked thing. No point tingling anymore. Let’s thing be. Did someone say wishful thinking?

A call for healing

The PAP leaders have been heard calling for a healing for all the political candidates and supporters in the GE. It is time to put down the differences and come together as one people, to serve the country. It is a nice gesture that has never been seen before. No healing was really needed in this GE. There were differences of views and ideas on how the country should be run. But that is exactly to be expected in a political contest for the vote of the people. All the parties were civil and focussed on issues and ideas, and not on digging people’s cupboard for skeleton, or checking if anyone has made excessive claims of bus fare or has one girl friend too many. There were two infringements that were nipped in the bud. And if there is any healings to be done, perhaps the transgressors could call up the victims and apologise privately. Demanding a public apology could be too much to ask for and too embarrassing on the violators. Yes, this election was conducted in a way that all parties were able to have a good night sleep without feeling guilty of offending anyone, and without the need to start sharpening the knives. I doubt anyone has any good reason to want to do so. No one was fixed. This election is a watershed in a way. It could pave the way for future leaders to emulate on what basic decency is all about and how a good election campaign should look like. Isn’t it nice when all candidates can now sit down and have kopi and regard each other as people of the country, not enemies? If there is any healings to be done, this will be a good opportunity to bury the hatchet of the past. Maybe a kind of amnesty for all past political opponents who have fled this country and unable to return for one reason or another. The ugly chapters of our political history need a little cleansing. The blood spilt needs to be wiped off, the wounds treated and healed, and the country can then move forward on a clean slate. This is a healing that needs to be done, and what better time than now, to bring a closure to all the acrimonies, and for Singaporeans to return home, free from political persecution or personal vendetta. They are our citizens, our people, and this is their home too. Maybe I am expecting too much. Then again, some were very sceptical that political campaigns could be conducted in an objective and dignified manner, minus the hostility and gangsterism. But it did end well, clean and honourable, it could be done.

A 10% swing is all it takes

The PAP’s popular vote has gone down to 60%. This came about after the great handouts just before the election, the unexpected apology and admission of mistakes by Hsien Loong, and a change of tact, no more threats but a pledge to listen and to be more humble. What if these three measures were not taken? The packing up of George Yeo and his team is a stark reminder that it can happen to any GRC. The margin for arrogance and aloofness the people is very thin. The man that called for reform and reflection is gone. Would those who are staying feel that they have fought a good fight and can go on as before, telling the people how great and deserving they were, and demanding for more pay and gratitude? Hsien Loong has taken the first step to humble himself, to be the servant of the people. The people have another 5 years to bear with the govt, the style and the policies. Would there be any change in govt policies and antics? Can the people look forward to a better life, to a change for the better? Well, they will have 5 long years to see the change, if they are going to be changes.