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6/30/2011

Cannot anyhow give yourself big titles

Property agents will now not be allowed to give themselves big titles like specialists or experts. It is timely that such a regulation is imposed to prevent more frivolous titles from being created. If not, soon some agents may call themselves Emeritus Property Specialists. Now, that would not look good right?

Titles are important to important people. Low down tradesmen or agents need to be put in their place. Unlike the professionals and high positions, these people should be given nice nice titles that they deserved. In the past, a Chief Clerk was the top administrator or manager in on office. Today, even a clerk will frown on being called a clerk. Some then invented titles like Administrative Assistant or Clerical Officer to stop calling them as clerks. Companies advertising for clerks will have problems recruiting the better qualified job seekers. I wonder if they can use better titles like Administrative Specialists, or is this going to be banned? I remember in Australia they called rubbish collectors Sanitary Specialists or Environment Specialists, or something like that, and the job pays very well too.

Then in some industries, executives are now rebranded as managers. And managers are called Vice Presidents, and GMs become Presidents. I think this must be stopped as well. How can there be so many Presidents, and even Senior Presidents. Next time they may have Distinguished Presidents or Emeritus Presidents or Emeritus Chairman as well. But the crucial title and most confusing is the title of President.

Ladies and Gentlemen, please welcome the President of Singapore.
Ladies and Gentlemen, please welcome the President of Ah Kow Refuse Removal Company.
Ladies and Gentlemen, please welcome the President of Muthu Securities Agency.

It is high time more of such regulations be introduced to let the people know the do’s and don’t and what they can do and what they cannot do. And fine them if they anyhow abuse these titles. We need to erect more U Turn and No U Turn signs.

But one door must be closed quickly. The Registry of Birth Certificates must be informed to stop people who anyhow give names to their babies. No one can be named Specialist, Expert, Prince, President, Emeritus, Eminence, Highness, etc etc. Otherwise some may use this loophole to call their children Specialist Tan, Expert Lee, Prince Ahmad, President Sammy and nothing can be done to them.

Sure we don’t want to have people walking around in the streets and everyone yelling ‘Hi President, hi Prince, hi specialist, hi Eminence!’

We need more regulations before people become crazy with all kinds of grand titles.

Oh, I forgot, there is one title that the property agents or anyone can buy and wear, and put Dr in front of their names. How ah?

The Spirit of President Ong Teng Cheong

He was The President that wanted to do his job well. And he stood firmly on his belief, and did not waver under pressure. He gave up everything to live by the principles he believed in. He could have done otherwise and be better recorded in the history books of Singapore, and given a state funeral.

Today, there are not many glamorous reports or write ups of this son of Singapore, a great man, a highly respected President in the eyes of many Singaporeans. Many people have spoken very highly of him in private. Somehow there is a dearth of reports praising the works that he had done. An uncomfortable silence. Who knows, in the not too distant future, history may all be rewritten, and President Ong Teng Cheong will be elevated to the honourable and rightful place he deserved in the history of this island.

While the contest for the Presidency is hotting up, Teng Cheong should be remembered as the shining example of what an elected President is expected to be, and to be emulated. In the hearts of many Singaporeans, he was and is their President, and the best Elected President the country has ever had. He is the President that lives quietly in the hearts of the people. All Elected Presidents will be measured against Teng Cheong and whether they live up to his high standard of Presidency, or whether they live up to the Ong Teng Cheong Spirit.

RIP.

6/29/2011

How to control a foreign country

The US is an expert in controlling, manipulating and putting pressure on foreign countries and running them like their colonies without them knowing. All they need to do is to set up watchlists and ranking countries according to its own list of criteria and morality. It then sends a list of questions to these unknowing colonies to reply. And the ‘colonies’ though independent countries, obediently do so. And if they are not on the good books of the US, the US could exert pressure on them by pushing them down the ranking, to embarrass and pressurize them.

Among the great American watch lists are the Trafficking in Persons or TIP Report, the Human Rights Reports and the Press Freedom Reports. Singapore is the latest victim of the TIP Report, with the US branding it as a culprit in human trafficking. After obediently submitting its reports to the Empire, it is now furiously defending its rights against the wrongful accusations by the US. And after hitting back at the atrocious human trafficking records, the US sheepishly acknowledged that its own house was also in a mess. But it still graded itself as the purest of the lot and ranked the best. It also admitted that the reports were flawed and carelessly compiled placing rogue countries as better than innocent countries. Bloody Americans!

The US has usurped the role of the UN and other legitimate bodies by issuing such watch lists and rankings to abuse its enemies and to serve its political agenda. Actually countries of the world need not bother with the wolves in sheep skin. Let them report whatever they want. Just simply ignore them. Countries like China should just show the US the middle finger. But countries that want to be on the good book of the US, especially the semi colonies, better take such reports seriously, or else.

A better response by the victims of these outrageous American reports is for these countries to organize themselves, pool their resources, and set up their own reports and watch lists. Then send the questionnaires to all the countries, including the US, and demand that they fill the forms and reply. If they don’t, just rank them at the bottom of the list, for non compliance and an admission of guilt. That is the only way to embarrass the Americans and turn the table on them. It is another way to control the Empire instead of being controlled by the Empire.

Of course the Empire can ignore the reports, and the western media may not report on them or try to rubbish the reports. But there are many other media that will report on them. And the reports and watch lists can be tabled at the UN as an annual event in the UN’s agenda for dirty laundry washing. Why should it be just one way like it is now?

I think Singapore should take the lead, and lead the bullied countries against the Empire, and be a leader, a shining light to the world, to hit above its weight.

Some embarrassing questions for Parliament

When the next Parliament begins its session, there must be plenty of questions that could be asked by the MPs. Hopefully the investigations into the two objections during the GE are settled by then, otherwise, the disqualification of the opposition team in Tanjong Pagar GRC and the police report of Tin Pei Ling’s internet postings will get a hearing, I think.

I have read some articles in the internet forum questioning the roles of LKY and Chok Tong as MPs, or more than that. Questions that bloggers were asking are the staff attached to them like principal private secretaries and press secretaries and the cost associate to the two MPs. The people may be curious to want to know if the two MPs are serving the people by holding meet the people sessions like all MPs are doing. These are definitely issues of public interest as tax payers money are involved.

Some are asking how much they are getting which I think is superfluous. As MPs they should be collecting the same MP allowances plus the pensions computed from their last highest salaries. I think this is also applicable to those ministers who are now MPs.

To avoid people making all kinds of guesses and unpleasant comments, and to preempt the opposition parties from asking embarrassing questions, maybe it will be better for Hsien Loong to make a press statements to clarify these matters. And if there are special privileges extended to them, just say it with justifications and I am sure the people will understand and accept it. Transparency in such things will kill all the gossips for good.

Of course there will be many other questions that the new MPs would be eager to ask in Parliaments to enlighten themselves and the curiosity of the people. The protocol list will be quite amusing. Will the ex MM/MP and ESM/MP be in the same grouping with Hsien Loong and the ministers when receiving foreign dignitaries? Or will they queue at the tail end with the MPs? Where will they sit in Parliament, in the back rows like back benchers?

These are very interesting developments in our political scene.

6/28/2011

A message from Tan Kin Lian

Tan Kin Lian's message

Dear Friend,

I am standing for election as President of Singapore and wish to ask for your support.

Many people have told me that they want a President who can:
Be a voice of the people
Be independent of the PAP Government
Safeguard their CPF money and the national reserves
If you give me your support and I get elected, I promise you that I will carry out these tasks diligently.

I come from a humble family background. When I was a child, I lived in a rented room and had to move residence a few times. Later, I lived in a HDB flat for 7 years. Today, I live in a ordinary house and like many Singaporeans, I have a car but often travel by bus and MRT.

I understand the struggle of many people who find it difficult to earn enough to meet the cost of living, have to travel in crowded public transport daily and have to face the competition for jobs. I am close to the ordinary people in Singapore and can be your voice to carry your views to the Government.

I have never been a MP or minister in the PAP Government. As President, I will be able to think and act independently of the Government and take a different perspective in looking after the interest of the people of Singapore. I will work in cooperation with the Government to find solutions that are best for the people.

In my decisions, I will guided by my personal values of honesty, fairness, positive attitude, courage and public service and by the views of the people (which I will actively seek).

I am qualified and have the financial knowledge to safeguard your CPF money and the national reserves. I had nurtured an insurance company for 30 years, looking after the savings of over 1 million people and managing assets of $17 billion.

I understand the need to be prudent in our investments, to avoid speculation and to invest for the long term. I can bring this knowledge to the duty of the President in safeguarding the reserves.

I wish to run for President as a public duty. I do not wish to receive a large salary as President and will be willing to donate at least 50% of the salary to charity and other worthy causes.

I hope that you will give me your support and will encourage your friends, colleagues, neighbors to support me. Please help me in spreading this message to them.

Tan Kin Lian
Candidate for President of Singapore

PS. I received this message from a friend in my email. I will post messages of the other candidates as well if I can get them.

The Sick Man of the Middle East

A warrant of arrest was issued by the western dominated International Criminal Court for the arrest of Gaddafi and his son Saif Al Islam and the Intelligence Chief for crimes against humanity. The arrogance of the West knows no limits. They are the masters of the Arab world. They can send in their armies to kill any Arab leaders at will, and now issuing a warrant of arrest for an Arab leader as if the Arab states were their colonies.

Though legally the Arab countries are independent countries, the de facto rulers of the Arab world are still the West, comprising Europe and America. And what crimes have Gaddafi committed? The presiding judge, Sanji Mmasenono Monageng had this to say about Gaddafi and his son, ‘conceived and orchestrated a plan to deter and quell by all means the civilian demonstrations’ against the regime…’ Wow, quelling civilian unrest is a crime against humanity! Then many Asian and African leaders will also be in the ICC’s list of wanted criminals.

What about those leaders that sent armies and bombers to attack and bomb other countries by acts of rash and dumb wars and killing many innocent civilians and calling them collateral damages? The Libyans have protested that ‘Nato has been committing crimes against humanity in Afghanistan, in Iraq, in Libya now. They have never considered investigating the killing of many civilians in Iraq, many civilians in Afghanistan, many civilians in Libya.’

So, what can the Arabs do about it? The West controls the gun and can point it at their heads at will. What can the Arabs do about it? Absolutely nothing. They will remain the conquered and ruled states of the West.

They are the sheeples at the international level, can only whine and suffer in at the hands of the West. Weakness is sexy and attractive and inviting, to be raped, and to be ruled. Yesterday was Saddam Hussein. Today it is Gaddafi. Who will be next tomorrow?

The sins of yesteryears

The presidential election is taking on a different spin. It started off with who is more independent of the PAP. Membership of the PAP or ex membership became an issue. This then took on another twist with everyone claiming that he is independent of the PAP, and he can think and act as an independent President. PAP saw this trend and has so far distanced itself from the candidates, not willing to endorse anyone of them. This could be the first elected President that is not endorsed by the PAP despite the fact that all three Tans were ex PAP and with two recently resigned just to stand for the election. Stop that cynical smile will ya?

The main media has been saying all the good and kind things about the candidates, how refined and dignified they looked if they become the President. Everyone has a brilliant track record to boot and it is a matter of whose is more kilat. In terms of good look, none may be as photogenic as Harrison Ford, Bill Pullman or Denzel Washington, but passable.

The part that none of them was counting on is another side of their track records that are now circulating in the internet. Every human bean has a past, a little indiscretion or infidelity, a little nastiness or naughtiness. Just hope that the past is not heinous enough to destroy their chances to be the President. Would their pasts catch up with them and would they pay for their pasts?

It is a lesson that everyone shall take heed. Things always come full circle and what one did unto others will come around in the most irritating and crucial moment. It is now a matter of who did less and who the people would forgive. One of them is going to be our President.

Is the past important?

6/27/2011

Pension versus CPF payout

This is becoming a sore thumb. Many are grimacing at the inconsistency in the application of the two schemes, particularly the time for withdrawal. In one case it is withdrawing with pleasure and another with so much agony, so difficult to pull out with possibility of die standing and still trap inside. The unhappy CPF members are claiming that there is no logic that can be withdrawn at 55 and in a big way, while another at 62, in bits and drips, and probably stuck inside for a long, long time.

Actually the logic is plain and clear. It is the most logical thing to do so when the CPF savings are limited and exhaustible. You take out too much and too early, it will all be gone. In the case of pension, it is kind of unlimited, or at least the source of the fund is unlimited. So there is no problem withdrawing early even with big amounts. The stock will be replenished from the treasury. As for CPF savings, the person withdrawing his own money is not going to put in his own money to withdraw his own money later. You just can’t go on withdrawing from a fixed sum of savings without replenishing.

It is all about practicality and expediency. This should settle this contentious issue for all.

The myth of an independent elected President

The issue in everyone’s mind is how independent would or should the elected President be. Or should this be an issue at all as everything seemed to work well with PAP sponsored Presidents in the past. Why should it then be an issue now? And conventional wisdom says it is ok, just like issues of conflict of interests in many quarters were brushed aside as ok, no issue. Would the issue of having a really independent President as opposed to a political party sponsored President be settled once and for all by the voters?

Several self serving explanations on the political and social system have been debunked and became outright matters of disgust overnight. If this issue of having an independent President is overwhelmingly endorsed by the voters, with a truly independent President voted into office, it will be a sign of independent thinking and maturity of the electorates. It will be a sign that they are thinking and know that what they have been told were not necessarily good or for their own interest.

The next institution that may be rubbished is the concept of a one party dominant political system. This has been propounded as an unique wisdom in paradise, that it is the best system for a small and complex nation. There is no need for strong alternative parties and alternative voices in parliament, only a strong one party rule system will serve the people best. And a strong one party system with the best talents on board, incorruptible, selfless and righteous, and always thinking of doing their best to serve the people, be the servants of the people, is the best system for the people.

More of such self serving reasonings and institutions will go down, one after another, when the people decide to put on their thinking caps and not allow other people to think for them. This must be good, or bad to some, depending on which side of the equation one belongs.

6/26/2011

Black Saturday at Hong Lim Park




Gilbert Goh and his friends are making Hong Lim Speakers Corner as their home for Saturday evening picnic. Yesterday, 25 Jun, about 200 people in black were there to listen to their airing of the unhappiness over CPF minimum withdrawal and the employment of Singaporean first policy over foreigners.

The mood was quite calm and peaceful as the issues were discussed over a portable sound system that did not have the ballast to jolt the ground. I was there for a short while to take a few shots of the picnic and to feel the mood of the spectators. I missed the key speakers which include Tan Kin Lian, Tony Tan and Nicole Seah.

6/25/2011

Alternative and main media reporting

The ST splashed on its front page today on the findings of a poll on party affiliation of presidential candidates. It reported that 50% of the respondents were of the view that ‘party affiliation not key in presidential race’. About 1/3 or 18 of the people polled thought that party affiliation could be an advantage and 12 people or 20% thought that this would work against the candidate. This, in my mental computation, says that about 80% of the people would not mind a candidate that is affiliated to the PAP. Tony should win hands down with this kind of feedback.

I did a straw poll and found that 100% of all polled was sceptical about a party candidate as a president. They all have the same reservation about how impartial and objective a president can be when he is too close or familiar with a political party. They described this kind of relationship with strong and unrefined words which clearly placed where their sympathy lies.

Ah, I think my poll is biased as the people polled somehow are less objective and will vote without thinking. So, to have a fair and representative survey it is important to select the respondents carefully and not going after the people that would tell you what you want to hear.

Somehow, the alternative and main media seem to be reading different things and painting different pictures from different groups of people. So, how different would the internet reporters invited to Tony Tan’s press conference be from the main stream reporters in their coverage of the event? Interestingly, the number one alternative media, Temasek Review Emeritus, was not invited while TOC, the Online Citizen, was invited. Is this an indicator that TOC has a better standing in the eyes of the establishment and deserved to be invited to the press conference?

Whatever, the act of being invited to a high profile political event speaks well for the alternative media. It is gaining recognition as a place where worthy alternative news and views are sought after. I am sure TRE will also be invited in times to come when people are more comfortable or accommodating to alternative reporting and opinions.

6/24/2011

Why so few local CEOs?

In a pow wow session of local banks, most of the CEOs present were foreigners. Even the top local bank is represented by a foreigner who ‘may have just turned citizen.’ Sitting at the discussion panel organized by the Institute of Banking and Finance were ‘Lester Gray, CEO, Asia Pacific, Schroder Investment Management; Loh Boon Chye, managing director, head of corporate and investment bank, Asia Pacific, Deutsche Bank; Piyush Gupta, group CEO, DBS Bank; and Ray Ferguson, regional CEO, Singapore and South East Asia, Standard Chartered Bank.’

The only local sitting in the panel of CEOs was only a MD. A participant asked why there were so few local CEOs and the replied was that the banks were not concerned with nationalities but with experience. So the daft Singaporeans would still need to wait to be experienced. And hopefully someone will give them the experience and the chance to make mistakes. The Sinkie culture is not to take risk and not to try out the locals. On the other hand, foreigners were given all the opportunities to gain experience and make mistakes, even in Singapore.

So, how are Singaporeans going to gain experience and become CEOs when they are not even given the chance to gain experience? By the way things are developing, in the next 30 years or more, the daft Singaporeans will all be waiting to gain experience to become CEOs, even of local banks. And very likely during this period, all the local banks will be headed by foreign CEOs. The only exception is UOB if it is not forced to put a foreign CEO to take over the banking empire that Wee Cho Yaw has built.

Kind of embarrassing isn’t it? Actually it is not embarrassing. It is stupidity of the extreme kind. Our locals better go overseas to try to be CEOs there and hope that those countries are stupid enough, like us, to let them gain experience and make mistakes as CEOs.

I am waiting to see who will be the next foreign CEO to take over UOB.

Another challenge to PAP’s political dominance

Tony Tan has resigned from the PAP and confirmed his running for the president as an independent candidate just like Tan Cheng Bock. Many people will be wondering how independent does it mean? Is he PAP’s sponsored candidate just like the past elected presidents? Teng Cheong and Nathan did not claim to be independent candidates and were comfortable to be seen as PAP’s choices. Is the announcement that he is an independent candidate puts him at a distance from the PAP and would the people believe this to be so?

It is in the interest of the PAP to have its own sponsored candidate as it had done so in the past. The Elected Presidency, like the GRC, is designed to favour the PAP’s choice of candidate. And it is unlikely that PAP would not run a presidential candidate and give up its stake in the Elected President. In all reasonings, Tony will be seen as the PAP’s candidate unless PAP actually put up another candidate with an official endorsement of support. Without doing so, how many voters would believe that Tony is not PAP’s candidate.

Tony is PAP’s trump card, the strongest card it has played and available to the party. The winning of the presidency by a PAP backed candidate is of paramount importance to the party. It must win as the other candidates have openly stated that they want to be guardians of the reserves, exactly as what the elected president was set up to do. Life will be tough or at least not as easy going should anyone not on the PAP’s side is elected.

How would the people decide who should be their president? Would they choose a president the PAP wanted, or would they choose otherwise? Or would PAP just leave the situation as it is, that Tony is an independent candidate and not say anything in his favour? Given Tony’s standing and stature, it should be a walkover. He has all the good qualities expected of a president. He even looks like a president.

It is not that Cheng Bock or Kin Lian look less like a president. They too look quite good. If one were to place all the cards on the table, Tony definitely has a big edge. The only thing going against him is his closeness with the PAP.

If the people find that a truly independent president, independent from the PAP, is the crux of the matter, and the most important attribute of the president, then all the goodness of Tony may be swept aside. If the people want a president that will stand up to the PAP, then unfortunately, Tony will not be their candidate of choice no matter how many thousand times Tony claimed that he is an independent candidate, ready to do what is expected of him as the President, to protect the country’s reserves.

There is nothing Tony can do to remove himself completely from his past association. You can’t blame anyone for thinking that he is PAP. It would be an uphill task for Tony to persuade the people to think otherwise. He can try of course.

So, what do the people want? A rejection of Tony will be the clearest warning that the PAP has lost all its political capital and on its way out. This is a presidential election to watch, coming so close behind the last GE. The GE was a watershed. The presidential election could be a waterfall. It will see another of PAP’s foundation being knocked down should Cheng Bock or Kin Lian trounce Tony. It will be another attempt by the people to chip on the PAP’s armour of invincibility.

The public consensus that no opposition can bring down the PAP except the PAP itself is becoming a reality. Both Cheng Bock and Kin Lian were PAP. It is the breakaway, the internal rivalry that is coming to the open. It only needs the people to help make it happen.

6/23/2011

PAP’s presidential candidate

With the amount of publicity in the main media, it is almost certain that Tony Tan is the likely PAP candidate for the presidential election. So Nathan would likely be stepping down. For those who are looking for a Malay President, the hope is fading away fast.

There should be no issue about Tony’s credential and qualification for the presidency. His only weakness is his PAP badge even if it is taken down. The mood of the people is for a truly independent president, not just because of his great credential and track record. If Tony is defeated, it is not because he is not good enough.

The bigger issue is who to fill his position of Executive Director in GIC. From past experience, no one is good enough, I mean no locals will be good enough. They all lack international exposure and experience. Very likely another yoda will be wheeled to fill the post. If they can’t fill any yoda that is still kicking, maybe the next obvious choice is a foreign talent. And there are plenty of foreign talents available. If need be, just offer the candidate a citizenship badge and call him citizen. That should do the trick to soothe the nationalistic fervour.

Any true blue Singaporean hopefuls eyeing for the job will only be disappointed. We just don’t have that kind of caliber candidates today. Anyone under 60 belongs to a generation of straight As and first class but good on paper only. Maybe good enough to become politicians. The real talent will likely come from a little village somewhere around the world, preferably in a third world country, hungry and willing. Never mind if his primary or secondary or even first degree is not from a branded top notch school. Never mind if there are no straight As. Ability and talent are not written in a straight As report card or first class degree from the Ivy League.

There must be many dark horses waiting to fill Tony’s shoes. Or maybe a white stallion from the US or Europe will also do. Sinkies, forget it. Just my reading after gazing too long at an old crystal ball.

6/22/2011

Screw those with entitlement mentality

No one is entitled to anything. There have been many strong remarks chastising young people for wanting to buy bigger flats as if it is an entitlement. If you can’t afford bigger flat, buy smaller flat that is within your means. This is the haughty reply of the successful. The losers, please take note, you only got yourself to blame for not being able to afford bigger and more expensive properties.

Today, young professional couples were told to buy smaller 4rm or 3rm flats with 2 incomes. Their aspiration for a bigger flat was doomed with the high prices in public flats and profiteering of private developers. Compared to their parents, a taxi driver or technician with one income could comfortably buy a 5 rm flat. Some even could afford executive flats. So what went wrong? The quality of housing has gone down. A 3rm mickey mouse flat is for mickey mouse and not for bringing up family.

Don’t even mention about those 500 sq ft shoe boxes. No matter how well furnished, they are good for pets only, not for human beans.

The expectation and aspiration for better housing and bigger housing are not entitlement mentality. Everyone wants to live better, has a decent place to bring up family. And they elect MPs to Parliament, to form govt, to look after their interest and aspiration. If the govt cannot fulfil the needs and aspiration of the people, they can piss off. The people are not going to take no and rubbish for an answer. If a govt cannot deliver and rebuke the people for better and higher expectations in living standards, and rubbish them as entitlement mentality, the people must remember to vote them out in the next GE.

What is entitlement mentality? Entitlement mentality is expecting to be paid several millions a year, even when one has no executive responsibility, no ministry to run, no tangible portfolio and no army of people to manage. This is the kind of entitlement mentality that should be debunked. Entitlement mentality is expecting to be paid as much or more than one’s previous job when they are totally unrelated or irrelevant. What skill does a professionally trained person in medicine, law, science or whatever brought in to the govt other than basic thinking and management skill? Why should one then be entitled to the same kind of remuneration?

If you don’t pay me, then I would not serve. Thank you, good riddance. There are plenty of talents out there who can do equally well in govt and would not have the entitlement mentality of wanting to be paid in millions. Screw those with this kind of entitlement mentality. Don’t vote for them in the next GE.

6/21/2011

No letting up in anger

Housing problems continue to drive the angry home buyers up the wall. And the high but affordable prices of the newly launched flats in Tampines only add fuel to the already unhappy young couples. Boon Wan’s explanation that DBSS flats must not be seen as HDB flats was immediately dismissed by the affected people. No one believes or want to believe that DBSS flats are different from HDB as many of the HDB rules and regulations are still applicable to these flats except for the part of the developer.

Boon Wan’s explanation is going to go the road of his $8 open heart surgery. Can anyone blame the people for their anger and cynicism? The writing is on the wall for the govt. They have 5 years to appease the anger of the people and their expectation for a whole range of issues, from housing to foreign talents and the recognition that the citizens must be taken care of first. Haughty talks of telling the people to tighten belt, lower their expectations to fit their pockets are not going to be well received. Failing to address these issues will see the party being dumped into the pages of history.

Make no mistake about it. The previous hard nose and snotty approach to handling the citizens and brow beating them to acquiescence no longer works. No one in the govt has that kind of authority and stature to brush the people aside anymore. Any politician who thinks he can still behave and talk like immortals or gods got to prepare for the backlash that will come swift and fast. Talking cock and trying to pull wools over the eyes of a new people that have woken to their rights and the realization that they must take control of their own future and country will be tough going.

There is a sense of emancipation from years of oppression and intimidation. The political culture and climate are at a cross road, for more freedom of choice and expression or for the hammer to come smashing down and a return to an abrasive and intolerant past.

What would it be like in 2016 depends on the changes that are taking place today, a pro people govt or a govt that decides on what it thinks best, even contrary to the people’s interests and aspirations.

6/20/2011

The President’s Cup – The missing third key

The SIA Cup carries the biggest prize money in the Singapore horse racing circuit. But this pales in comparison with the Presidential Race that is scheduled in late August. The prize money is a cool $24m minimum, with options of doubling or tripling that sum to $48m or $72m if performance bonus and growth bonus are included.

With this heavenly sum of money to be won, it is unbelieveable that till now, only two entries have been confirmed. One is an outsider and another ‘an also ran’ coming from the most successful stable. The defending champion, a two time winner, has yet to confirm if he is defending his title. In the meantime the stable has previewed another thoroughbred that could possibly be their front runner for the contest.

The bookies have put up a reasonable odd of 1 to 10 for the outsider to win the race. The breakaway entry is given a higher rating in view of his past association with the famed stable. This makes it imperative that the stable must put up a good fight and not to take the two outsiders lightly. The ageing two time winner with too much weight handicap may be rested for good. And there is no room for a dark horse to run and to think of winning.

Why is there such a dearth of entries in probably the richest race on earth? Someone has locked the door and threw away the key. It is of paramount importance that this key is found and the door reopened so that a proper race can be run with every good contestant be given an equal chance, at least at the starting block. It cannot be a race when practically all entries are ruled out or locked out from the race.

Tears of a War Secretary

Robert Gates cried. In his two terms as Defence Secretary, he had signed 3,400 condolence letters for American boys and girls killed in Afghanistan and Iraq. Multiply that number by 50, there could be 150,000 wounded, some maimed for life, for the wars that the US is conducting in the two countries, and more to come in other areas.

The US has been a warring nation since the end of the Second World War. It has been at war with other nations practically continuously since then. At the same time it has been screaming to the world that it is the most peace loving nation. And while I am typing this, it is in the process of starting another war in the South China Sea. This time it is egging on Vietnam and the Philippines to take on China, with the US behind them.
This obnoxious war mongering country cannot deceive the world forever.

And it was reported that Gates ‘publicly questioned the need for the US to join the Nato air war in Libya…’ Who would believe that the Americans are the angels and not the devils that are dictating the conduct of war in Libya? Yes, publicly questioned, but what is his position behind the public eyes? The fact that the US continues to engage in more wars and trying to start more wars is testimony of what he stands for.

And he shed crocodile tears for the innocent boys and girls he sent to wars and came home in black plastic bags. ‘There’s probably not a day in the last four years that I haven’t wept, and it’s mostly when I’m doing those letters.’ He was referring to the condolence letters he had to send to the bereaved families. No amount of tears that he shed could make things better for the families of the dead American boys and girls. The world will be a more peaceful place if the Americans stop waging wars. There will be wars among the smaller countries, but would not be in the scale near to what the Americans are doing.

Should the Americans and the people of other nations that have died during his terms of service say, ‘Don’t cry Bob, you are such an angel. God loves you for your compassion?’ Did he shed a single tear for the 'enemies' and the 'collateral damages', innocent people killed by his acts of war?

6/19/2011

$420 for dinner at Geylang

This is the bill for seafood dinner for 4 adults and 2 children at a seafood restaurant in Geylang. It was touted as good food. The chef took the order and cooked it himself. Not sure if the restaurant is aircon. It looks like the typical old shophouse converts. Of course the customers saw red. Me too. I would rather spend that kind of money in a comfortable aircon restaurant with a more pleasant ambient. Geylang and $400!

But caveat emptor. Willing buyer willing seller. The only difference is that the willing buyer did not ask the price before ordering and thus asked for it. I never patronise any place when they hide the menu and the price. That is the first warning sign. Anything that people hide and refuse to tell in Singapore is telling you they have something to hide. Transparency is only for the fools.

Come to think of it, spending $420 is nothing. In this country, the price is unlimited. It can go to the millions for a surgery. Well, everyone is expecting to be paid in millions and anyway. All it takes is to call oneself a supertalent or the best cook or best meat cutter. Some suckers will just pay. Nothing is free. It all comes from the daft Singaporeans who don’t even know that they are being fleeced and keep saying, it is worth it. You pay the price for quality. That is the mantra of this paradise. The more pricer, the betterer the quality. Quality is measured by money paid.

6/18/2011

Nuclear power plants for sale

Germany has decided to scrap all its nuclear power plants. The French are also pressing their govt to do so. Japan is on the way too if the Japanese could have their way. Potentially there are at least three countries that may lelong their power plants to power hungry countries.

Asean looks like the best candidate to benefit from such fire sales. Politically they are more acceptable to the West to be recipients of this dangerous technology. Singapore, Malaysia and Indonesia are quite advanced in their research on nuclear technology and the harnessing of nuclear power for commercial use.

This is a golden opportunity to send a joint delegation to these countries to buy over their nuclear plants, lock, stock and barrel for a song, including their experts and technicians. Where else can one get such a turnkey project without having to reinvent the wheel? And all three can become instant nuclear powers with nuclear fuel and enriched uranium for sale. They can gain international stature by joining the elite nuclear club.

All that is necessary now is to get some nuclear experts to swear that nuclear energy is perfectly safe with all the safe guard measures built in from the experience in Fukushima. Everything that can go wrong will not go wrong anymore. All taken care of.

Malaysia can site their nuclear plant in Johore, Indonesia can site theirs in Batam and we put ours in Tekong or Ubin. We can call it the Asean nuclear triangle of the three Asean nuclear powers. Locating them together will cancel each others concern of nuclear risk and radioactive fallouts. I risk you and you risk me. Fair and square.

6/17/2011

DBSS flats are affordable

The latest launch of DBSS flats in Tampines is looking quite good with comments from those interviewed that the prices are reasonable and affordable. 3 rm units cost between $400k to $500k, 4 rm from $530k to $680k and 5 rm units from $685k to $880k. Though the prices are comparable to some private developments, all those interviewed have only good things to say about them, good location and good facilities to justify the price. No one is complaining about not being able to afford them.

I think they will sell very well. And those interviewed are relatively young people. I am really impressed by the number of young people who are doing so well and find spending $600k to $900k for a flat affordable. Don’t expect HDB prices to come down when people have no problem paying for such flats. This is the best confirmation that property prices will remain solid like rocks.

There is no need for Boon Wan to raise the $8000 ceiling. Maybe those interviewed have combined income of $15k or more.

Quote from Baey Yam Keng

‘We should be more outspoken in speaking up on issues, not just in Parliament but also separately in our constituencies. Each MP would have to raise his own profile; we need to be more politically astute rather than just being implementors on the ground.’ - Baey Yam Keng

The above is the feedback from Baey Yam Keng on the last GE and what went right and wrong and what needs to be changed. What he said is the need for an MP to be himself, to be noticed as an individual leader, to have a voice and a view. So far, the political system under the PAP has been putting the PAP first and the rest of the MPs subsumed under the brand and become nondescripts. They have not much of an identity, not much of a view except those of the collective view or position of the PAP.

Perhaps the current state of affair is a legacy of the past, when anyone can become an MP, literate of illiterate, donkey or genius. In those situation, it was better that they be shut out and said nothing, just towed the line before they confused everyone and talked nonsense thinking that they were immortals.

Today the whole game has been changed. The PAP MPs in particular, are the best of the best, the best that the PAP can find in the island. They are the most talented and with leadership qualities in their blood. Many were even scholars with the best academic report cards comparable to the best in the word. It is a pity and a waste to keep them in the bottle, not allowing them to speak up and prove that they are really great leaders, with an ability to think independently. With their qualifications and the stringent selection criteria, every one of them should rightly be good enough as ministers if needed be.

I agree with Baey Yam Keng that such great talents must be allowed to shine and be seen and adored by the people. The only slight problem is that if they speak too freely and express contrarian views to PAP’s official position, it may be a bit difficult to swallow. And it could be worst when they are expected to vote for policies which they spoke vehemently against in public only to tow the line. It can undermine their integrity and sincerity or look hypocritical.

By all means, it is still a good suggestion to have these great talents speaking out more freely and more often instead of ‘no comments, it is party policies’.

6/16/2011

Stop visiting Malaysia

The current episode of two women driving to JB in the wee hours of the morning for a cup of tea and the adrenalin sapping adventure they experienced is a hot topic on both sides of the causeway. Hishamuddin, the Home Affairs Minister, is setting up an inquiry into the case.

Many Singaporeans are angry and crying foul. Some are calling for a Stop Visiting Malaysia campaign to protest against the ill treatment of Singaporeans. The thinking is simple, why visit a country to be abused and harassed, not only by robbers and crooks, but also by the authority there to protect you? This is a double barrel risk to take.

This kind of reaction is quite natural in the heat of the moment. But with the complex relations between the two countries and people, this is just not possible. There are many people on both sides of the causeway that have all the good reasons to cross the causeway. The fact in this case, which is a genuine mistake with the errant parties walking to the immigration to correct the mistake but was hauled up and badly treated, like criminals, and with the authority throwing the books at them for immigration violation, has sent fears to innocent visitors to the country.

There was no attempt for discretion, to acknowledge a simple, honest mistake which many visitors to any country can make, and to subject visitors to such an ordeal cannot be taken lightly. Can’t the immigration officers see the difference between a genuine mistake and a criminal offence to arrest innocent visitors? The Immigration Authority is still claiming the high ground, that they were doing their duties when any normal thinking person would have handle the case differently.

Perhaps for Singaporeans who feel like protesting as a show of unhappiness, they could advise Singaporeans who have nothing important to stop visiting Malaysia for a month. Those casual visits, holidays etc, can be put off temporarily and would not cause any pain to anyone. It is just about sending a message. After that, hopefully the message is taken and visitors are treated a little courtesy as a show that they are welcome to visit Malaysia. It is basic hospitality and human decency to make your guests feel welcome, and to assist them when they make little mistakes because of unfamiliarity in a new environment.

Stop selling Singapore

Today’s big news is that property sales have fallen, and prices may be falling. Is that good news? Even if the prices have fallen 50% it is still too high. Like the minister’s pay, the current property prices are outrageous.

The more important issue is to stop selling the few square feet of land that are still left for us to call this rock our country to foreigners. When the world is our customer, we don’t have enough land to sell. They will just buy up everything, every square inch if they are allowed to. And stop the myth about selling to foreigners who called themselves new citizens. This policy is as good as an open door policy to sell everything as there will be enough rich foreigners to come in and buy up everything. In the end we will have nothing left to call home.

The lunatics out there who still thing we have plenty of land to sell, just remember that any freehold land sold is as good as gone. There are still some left and it is time to take stock and keep what we have for the future generation. Please do not sell Singapore away. Please leave something for our children. We can only continue with this reckless policy of selling land if we don’t regard this as home, and plan to make all the profits and scoot to somewhere else. Even then, it is a silly thing to do as money will be withered away by inflation. The land is still there, as good as forever, unless sold.

6/15/2011

It was a common mistake

The Johore Immigration Director Nasri Ishak has clarified that making detainees to do squatting was not a normal procedure. But making them strip was necessary in case the detainees were hiding weapons in their bodies. He was referring to the two Singaporean women who went through a wrong immigration lane by mistake and returned to inform the immigration officers of their error.

In this case the officers were dealing with two innocent visitors who came to them to rectify a mistake. They were not someone picked up for suspicious activities or criminals. Why can’t the officers treat the case as an innocent mistake which happened very often, but treated them like dangerous criminals, stripping them, slapping them, checking for weapons, and putting them in detention?

Now we can see that the officers themselves have made an innocent mistake by making the two innocent women doing squats that were not proper procedure. In fact the whole matter of the two women reporting to them need not become such a big issue. They were not illegal immigrants that were caught sneaking into the country, but motorists who went into a wrong lane. Didn’t the officers have any commonsense to deal with the case as it is?

So, should the public demand that the officers be investigated, put under detention, be stripped, slapped, etc etc? Why can’t simple mistakes be handled simply and resolved expeditiously to avoid any unpleasantness? There were no indications that the two women were out to do mischief. They went back to the immigration officer to correct a mistake and what followed was a nightmare. The emotional and psychological stress and pressure imposed on them were unnecessary and uncalled for if Malaysia wants to be regarded as a first world and civilized country. They were not illegal immigrants in all counts even if the officers wanted to throw the book at them.

Come on Malaysia, when are you going to treat your visitors with some graciousness, respect and dignity?

To cry or not to cry?

We are a full fledged first world country, prosperous and well endowed with the best of everything. These cannot come about with half baked no brain citizens. They are called daft today, but nevermind. The fact is that we crowed of the best education system in the region, comparable to the best in the West. And parents invested heavily on their children, given them the best education money can buy.

Our children, many, went through the best childcare and kindergartens with facilities and education systems that the parents were willing to pay good money for. The same kids went through the best primary and secondary educations and tertiary educations with exceptionally good grades. Including the pre schools, most would have spent 20 years of good guidance in the education system.

Then what? They are not good enough when competing with the products of third world countries coming from less well equipped education system, lowly ranked relative to ours. Many have hard times applying for jobs and lost out to foreigners. And many top posts were given to foreigners because our local products were not good enough.

What is wrong? The gene pool has retarded? The education system is flawed despite the accolades? Or is it that a prophet has no place in his own home? Or really, the foreign products are much better than the daft locals?

Maybe it is all a myth. Our miraculous growth is a myth, our education system is a myth, the quality or ability of Singaporeans is a myth. What we are today is all the contributions of foreigners. We need more foreigners to replace the daft Singaporeans. All the tuitions and best kindergartens and best schools, and straight As are all myths, maybe fakes! I am referring to the straight As for Singaporeans. The straight As of foreign talents are real. In fact foreign talents with less than straight As are far better than locals with straight As, imported models.

Returning to sensibility

The policy of enforced consumption is starting to give way. Though it was hailed as the logic of the day that people must spend according to how much money in their pockets, some sanity is returning. In the first place, why should people be forced to eat sharksfin when they only want to eat ikan bilis? How many restaurants out there insisting that their rich customers cannot order cheaper meals?

This mean policy was implemented in the hospitals as well as the HDB. Minimum ceilings were set to force consumers to buy bigger flats or stay in more expensive hospital wards. It was really cock policy. Instead of encouraging thrift and prudence, to save and spend within your means, the policy forced the consumers into over spending, to empty their pockets literary.

In the news today, 43 young couples have wisely chosen to buy smaller HDB flats when the restrictive income ceiling was raised from $3000 to $4000 to qualify for 3 room flats. Under the old policy, they have no choice but to buy the more expensive 4 room flats that they could barely afford. They are careful and responsible young professionals who think ahead of their financial commitments. As young couples, the bills are going to get more and bigger when they set up families.

How many young couples were forced against their wills, to buy bigger flats? How many people were forced to pay for more expensive hospital wards against their wills? And how many young couples were forced into the private housing markets and forced to take up big housing loans against their wills?

Freedom of choice, downgrade if one cannot afford it, was the official slogan. Why no freedom of choice to buy cheaper flats or stay in cheaper hospital wards? Why the need for mean testing? I did not misspell. It is mean testing and not means testing as far as the victims are concerned.

Even how much people are willing to spend and consume is dictated by cock policies. Can you beat that? Will real freedom of choice be returned to the people? The crap about people who have a few dollars more adding to the housing queue or Class C ward queue is a big bull. Just increase the supply to meet the needs of the consumers. Turning off the tap and blame the consumers is a lame excuse.

6/14/2011

Time for a Malay President

Since Yusof Ishak, we have Sheares, Wee Kim Wee, Nair, Teng Cheong, and Nathan on two terms as president, I believe many Singaporeans are looking forward to a Malay president. Though there is no constitutional provision for a system of rotation, it will be nice to have a Malay president after such a long while.

I also think that PAP is planning for a Malay president this time round, and Abullah Tarmugi seems a likely candidate. But with the ire against anything PAP at the moment, Abdullah may have a problem in a contest. And to make matter worst, there are two irritants in Tan Cheng Bock and George Yeo coming into the fray. Then Tan Kin Lian will take away all the votes for those who do not want to see a PAP mark on the presidential candidate, no matter how faint it is.

Now it is unlikely that a good Malay candidate will be elected to be the next president. The only possibility for it to happen is for all the other candidates to be disqualified, and a walkover like Nathan did before takes place. Don’t think it is easy to do that.

The GRC is not working to the PAP’s scheme of things. This elected presidency is turning into another big headache.

A lesson from Malaysia

Every weekend, eves of long weekends and holidays in particular, long queues will form at the immigration check points at the Second Link or at the Causeway. Hundreds of thousands of Singaporeans, squeezed into a tiny piece of rock, need the space and fresh air to feel like human beans again. So they jammed the two entry points to Malaysia. Never mind if it is 6 hours or 10 hours at the jams. It is worth the trouble.

Malaysia has been very successful in attracting Singaporeans and the PRs to visit the country in hordes. This is success story, without having to blow the trumpet, is confirmed by the jams. In numbers, aggregated over a year, how many tens of millions of visits must have been chalked up by the visitors?

Singapore may be crowing about its success in attracting tourists to our shores. But the numbers can never match the Singaporeans heading to Malaysia. Look at all the entry points, no crowds, no jams. That shows that the number of tourists visiting the island is too small to cause any jams.

And Singapore has been laying the red carpet to invite the visitors to visit. A thousand smiles will greet the visitors. Singaporeans too were chastised for not treating the visitors well. Some visitors knew how important they are to Singaporeans that it has become a past times by some to beat up Singaporeans when they are here, just for some excitement. Just make sure the injuries are not severe enough and it will become just a personal trespass. The Singaporean victims can only seek redress if they have the money to engage the top class lawyers that are in abundant supply, at top class fees too. If they don’t have the money, never mind, just accept the few bruises as their contributions to welcome visitors to the country.

If they are rude or too harsh to visitors, the visitors will complain or go to some better places, like Malaysia. And we will lose out on the tourist dollars. In Malaysia, it is slightly different. Today’s paper reported about two Singapore women driving past Malaysian checkpoints without having their passports chopped and were arrested when they reported their mistake. They must have thought that Malaysia also welcomed their visitors like Singapore, with open arms and with a big smile. So they drove in happily for the adventure.

In this case they were treated like hardcore criminals, stripped naked, slapped, made to do squats, with hands pulling their own ears, and ended in jail. Quite similar to Guantanamo really. Anyone thinking of a Guantanamo experience need not go too far, and need not have to pay for expensive airfares. It is at our doorstep. What is so exciting about visiting Sentosa and pay like hell when real excitement is free? Their adrenalins must be supercharged. What a high!

But this will likely be forgotten and Singaporeans will continue to jam the causeway to visit Malaysia. Because Malaysia is really a great place to be. Die die they will queue up at the Malaysian immigration check points, under the hot suns for 6 hours or more, to enjoy Malaysia. Yes, Malaysia is not only a great place, it is the place for Singaporeans, and for a wonderful experience and adventure. Better than Disneyland or Sentosa. Malaysia, here we come. Thank you for your hospitality and the fun and excitement.

And Malaysia Tourism Board will say, Selamat Datang. I would suggest they change their campaign slogan to , Malaysia, for an adrenalin charged experience!

6/13/2011

All talks and talks and nothing but talks

The roles of the president have been clearly stated and explained by so many political luminaries, including Jayakumar. Among the 5 discretionary custodial duties is the protection of reserves.

Nathan has been quoted in the media that he had done a lot, quietly, as the President. Presumably he must have done all that is expected of his 5 discretionary custodial duties exemplarily. While the current attention is on the new candidates to assume the office of the Presidency, would the people be interested to know how well he has done, quietly, all these 12 years as the President? Or would the people be interested to know how much has he done to protect the reserves?

One of the fundamental questions raised during Ong Teng Cheong’s Presidency was the value of the reserves. He wanted to know how much or what he was supposed to guard. Without knowing how much was there in the reserves, it was woolly woolly for him to be able to protect it. Maybe I am wrong. He did not need to know how much there was to protect. All he needed to know was that it was one of his major duties as the President, to hold the second key.

Of course Teng Cheong would not accept that kind of logic. He must know what he was guarding and how much was there to protect in the first place. The stumbling block was that it would take 52 man years to know the exact amount.

Nathan has been the President for 12 years. This is still short of 40 years to reach the magical number of 52 years. Does it mean that it will take another 40 years to churn out the numbers? Apologies, I think another 40 years will be just right for the final numbers to be known. But that is for one man to work on it full time.

I am not sure how many men are working on it to produce the numbers for the guardian. Does the President know the numbers already, or would he be able to tell the people how many more years before the numbers will be available? Any progress been made in this as it is the first thing that any president guarding the reserves must know?

6/12/2011

I am starting to know more about dogs

‘Leadership is in the blood, says Mr Lee.’ This is a headline in ST on 27 May. LKY was expounding his theory on leadership in Japan, and he explained how certain groups of people are born with this quality. It is in the blood, in the bloodline.

LKY then used the example of a sheepdog and explained how easily it is to train sheepdogs to guard and dominate the sheep. Not any dog will do. It must be a certain kind, a sheep dog.

I quote LKY, ‘There is a certain group of dogs that genetically have been born and been specially bred for this purpose. If you just take your ordinary dog, you can spend all your time training it, it will not work.’

So, for those who are thinking of importing dogs, think Australia or New Zealand. Think sheep dog and not mongrels. The latter can be found in the less developed countries, so plentiful, but do not have that special quality of leadership in their blood.

It is more relaxing to talk about pets, hobbies and dogs on a Sunday morning.

6/11/2011

The angry cries for housing

Read the comments in cyberspace and you can’t help hearing the cries of desperation for housing. Yes they cannot afford public housing. Families with little children, broken families, people who because of poor finances, bad luck, circumstances, some of their own foolishness or irresponsible acts, are out there looking for a roof over their heads. Is that not the duty and responsibility of the govt to provide them with a roof, any kind of roof? A temporary shelter, a small rental flat in place of a pitch tent in a vacant land. They may have mismanaged their lives, then what, leave them in the cold?

While these people are pleading, some have gone to the extent of cursing at the govt and HDB. When people are at wits end, and the govt is not there to help, you can’t blame them. And there is no reason for the govt not to help them. It is unacceptable and irresponsible as a govt to forsake its people in times of need.

Boon Wan is cautioning those who have bought or are buying private properties of a bubble bursting. Some may be burnt when it happens. But don’t worry, they can afford to be burnt. Pity the young professionals who were forced by his predecessors and his policies into the private market and with a huge mortgage to service. I dare say, it is no fault of theirs and the blame should be placed squarely on the govt for allowing it to happen, when the crash comes.

In the meantime, the govt must quickly rethink its policies and responsibilities to the people, to provide them with a really affordable roof. Even those who are disqualified for all the right and wrong reasons, the govt must take care of them as a govt is expected. The woes of the citizens will become the stress to the society and country.

Boon Wan has taken the right step to ramp up the building of rental flats. Not everyone is a super talent to be able to afford expensive housing. Not everyone can afford even to buy small affordable public housing. The govt has to cater to all the different levels and needs of the people. What is the use of a govt who shirks this responsibility and leaves the people in dire straights in the lurch?

The well being of the people is the govt’s responsibility. Remember, it is the people who elect the govt to look after them. The people do not elect the govt to tell them you mess up, just too bad, your problem.

Go back to basics and think of providing every citizen a roof over his head first. Stop the stupid policy of an artificial ceiling to disqualify young people and push them towards the cliff. Stop the ruthless mindset of punishing the less able, the losers or unfortunate. Look after the people.

6/10/2011

We are Singaporeans, dare you abuse us

The ill treatment of an aged patient in Nightingale Nursing Home was shown on prime time news last night. The old lady was left topless for half an hour as was reported, in an air con room. She was then bundled by two assistants, looking more like FTs, and dumped into her bed. She growled because of the pain and was smacked by one of the assistants.

The family paid good money to the Nursing Home to take care of their loved one. What she got was not care but being manhandled in a very bad way. It is pitiful and disgusting to see our senior citizens being treated this badly by their caregivers. No matter if they are locals or foreigners, they must be severely punished as an example to protect our elders who are entrusted to caregivers whom we believed are kind and trained professionals paid to do the job.

The case must be swiftly dealt with and all guilty parties punished. If they are foreigners, they must be banished from our homeland for ill treating us, their gracious host, providing them with shelter and the opportunity to earn good money. I say to them, piss off from my country.

For those who are still here, please be reminded that you are guests at our pleasure. Some may open their arms to embrace and kiss you, but we expect no less in return for our kindness. Any Singaporean apologists need to be gorenged by all Singaporeans. This is our home. We are Singaporeans and cannot be victims to foreigners

Myth 227 – Logic of superior beans

This friend (call him John, not this real name) of mine related his interview for the head of Asia Pacific Region marketing job. He was about the best in his field and was head hunted for the position.

Everything went fine and the date for him to come on board was fixed. Then they went into the compensation package details. John was quite comfortable with his half a million dollar package. But being an absolutely honest Singaporean, he told the interviewer his true feelings. He said the job was very attractive and he could also be tempted to be corrupt. There were plenty of opportunities to do so in his new position. He confessed that he was after all a human bean and was subject to temptations of the monetary kind.

He suggested to the interviewer that in paradise such a temptation was easily taken care of by paying a sum that was good enough to keep an honest bean from being corrupt. The interviewer nodded and agreed with him that it was a novel idea of superior logic. They finally agreed that another half a million bucks would do the trick and the company could be 100% at peace that John would do his job well, diligently and would never stoop to corruption. It was a win win situation.

They parted with an assurance that the letter of appointment would follow in the next few days. That was more than a decade ago. The letter of appointment did not arrive. John was also taken off the headhunter’s list. He applied his superior reasoning and concluded that his superior logic was ahead of time and his potential employer was still stuck in the medieval age.

John is now happily driving a taxi as a profession. Of course this story is only good for reading as a fiction.

How to give cash to our senior citizens without paying for it - CCE

Think COE and how CCE can be applied to benefit the citizens and the govt. The govt has been selling COEs to the car owners at a price that is determined by supply and demand. At a time it was as high as $100k and currently around $50k+. It is a costly piece of paper just to buy and own a car for 10 years. The benefits of this scheme go mainly to the govt’s coffer.

A car is a very precious temporary asset. How could this be more valuable than a Citizenship Certificate Entitlement? Many are queuing to enter this prosperous city state where the roads are laid with gold. Many have come and return home rich. Many remain here and get richer. Many have paid a heavy price just to earn a right to be here to work, even as maids and manual workers, with the hope of a better life later.

A Singapore Citizenship is very valuable not just to earn a good living, but also a passport to the West, US and Europe. There is no need to give the citizenship to anyone on a silver platter. Foreigners should be willing to pay for it, to buy the right to make it rich, to a better life in a well developed city country.

How could this piece of paper be turned into an asset, like a COE, and with greater value? A simple way is for the govt to sell it in market like the COEs. But this will only benefit the govt alone. My suggestion is to issue a certificate to every senior citizen on reaching 60 years of age. This is like giving some cash to the citizens without the govt having to pay for it, a kind of retirement benefit. The certificate can then be sold to a foreigner who wants to be a citizen, and after meeting all the criteria of citizenship.

The state shall also benefit by a levy from the seller when a CCE is disposed. So the state is also getting something in return.

Why would a new citizen want to buy a CCE? Well, if the citizenship is attractive enough to him. And the value is retained as the CCE can still be resold when he decides to give up his citizenship, or when he kicks the bucket. There is thus no loss, but could be a long term investment like a stock, can appreciate in value. His below 21 years children will get one each when they reach 60. This means he could double or triple his investment and could stay fully invested here.

Yes, the CCE can also be listed in the Stock Exchange for trading if not converted to a citizenship. By doing so, its economic value will be so much higher. There are also many other benefits that can be derived from listing it as a stock. It also allows the govt to buy and sell the CCEs to control its supply and demand. It also prevents all the CCEs from being converted to new citizenships.

The govt thus does not need to throw away citizenships freely and the senior citizens will be pleased with the windfall. The Stock Exchange too will be pleased with another instrument for trading.

This is just a preliminary concept and many details can be worked out to make it workable. It is creating wealth from selling a piece of paper, for the senior citizens and paid by new citizens, like COEs. The oldies will have another source of cash for their twilight years. But the benefits of being a citizen, rights to reproduction etc must be tweaked. It will definitely help to increase reproduction as each CCE is worth quite sum money.

PS. I declare that I own the intellectual property right to this concept or other similar instruments that could be introduced in the future serving similar objectives.

6/09/2011

Abandoned

This is a photo painting of an abandoned little girl. She is lost, frightened and worried, all written on her face. The painting is created by Nature using koi fish. More pics at Art of RAR Gallery on top right.

A few tweaks needed in the Salary Review Committee

One clearly needed change is the presence of a truly independent member that has little association with the people whose salary are affected, and be able to look at the whole issue objectively from a distance. Such a person will then be in a position to provide an impartial view of the remuneration package.

The inputs of HR professionals is definitely useful, but must be from an independent source, not from the ministries.

Though Gerard is talking about starting from a clean slate, his comments are still tainted with the present system of discount and paying high. A discount is only necessary when the package is not right to begin with, a kind of over paying. If the package is correctly or reasonably conceived, there is no need for any further discount. The pricing of public housing is a glaring example of what discount or subsidy is not what it is meant to be.

The paying high is something that reasonable Singaporeans are willing to concede. But what is high and what contributed to the high should be carefully considered. There is no need to pay high to compensate for corruptibility. Anyone who is tempted to be corrupt, let the law deals with him. And there is no need to pay obscene salary just because it has yet to break the treasury.

Then there is the issue of compensating for loss of potential income. Any honourable man/woman coming forward to serve the country at the highest office the country can offer is an honourable calling. If he/she is asking to be compensated for loss of potential earnings then such people should be left to earn their money in their profession. There is no need to make people sacrifice unnecessarily to serve the country when they are unwilling to do so. A political calling or any calling cannot be measured in monetary rewards. An excellent surgeon or lawyer or any professional, does not simply turn into an excellent national leader. There is no direct correlation in what they are doing in their profession to political appointment. To compensate in such terms is irrational thinking.

From the above, the most important tweak needed is the mindset of the Review Committee. If they are still thinking in the same wavelength as those who conceived the current package, the statement of a new slate is a myth. They need to free their mindset from the flawed reasoning of the past.

Timothy Geithner was rebutted by Singapore and Hongkong

Tim Geithner, the American Secretary of Treasury, was calling for more stringent controls of dubious derivative tradings conducted by dubious operators with dubious modus operandi. He cautioned other regulators not to compromise their regulatory systems to accommodate the rogues of the finance industry that the US is trying to regulate more closely with more stringent rules and regulations. His fear is that while the US was tightening the screws, other regulations are playing easy to take in the rogues and their business. The danger the rogues and their malpractices were thrown into the wind at their own risks.

Singapore and Hongkong have stood up to defend their regulatory systems as much more stringent than the Americans and told the Americans to look elsewhere. Our systems are in good hands. No problems.

I also think so. Hope there is no outcry like the minibond crisis in the future. The next one or two years could be telling if we are doing the right thing. As things are going, my prediction is that some operators will start to retrench staff and cut cost as the business is not generating the returns to cover their overheads, that is, if things do not improve. That will be the test of whether we are doing the right thing or the wrong stuff. The rest are just rhetorics. Let’s wait for the real stuff to unfold.

Forcing round pegs into square holes

Just a month after the GE and Singaporeans are greeted with some refreshing changes in the way some ministries are working. Boon Wan is throwing out a whole basket of waste policies in one go. Tuck Yew is going down to the ground to understand the problems of the people and to explore solutions that will make life more pleasant to the citizens.

In short, they are trying to change the holes so that all shapes and sizes of pegs can fit in. This is a big deviation from past attitude and policies when every peg must be shaped to fit the square holes. Those that could not fit in, just too bad, it is their fault.

The thinking or mindset then was that I am calling the shot, I decide what is good for the people, and the people must fit into my criteria to benefit from my policies. A glaring example is how housing policies were shafted down the people’s throat. Singles, single mothers, under achievers, over achievers, people who messed up their lives for good or bad reasons, not my problem, you created your own problems. Singles go and get married, single mothers, go and get married, under achievers, downgrade to your station in life, over achievers, go to the private market. Ha, ha, ha. There is no need to sweat the little thing to worry about the people’s concern and their angst.

And it was a case of, I only build at my own convenience, at my terms, at my pleasure. You wait, ok? And you know how my policies worked, you plan your life and finances to suit my policies. Don’t muck around with me. What I am doing is the best you can ever get, with affordably priced housing that you can afford, to pay and to wait. Yes, you can afford, I say so. You can wait, I say so.

The way MND works and how it treated the people is about the best example of what it was like then. Now they are trying to listen to the people, wanting to know how to serve the people better. At least it is a big step forward, a departure from the high and mighty and arrogant style of the past.

6/08/2011

Investigative journalism

There is a big report in the ST today about the number of MPs holding directorships in listed companies. Apparently Hsien Loong’s message has sunk in and not many are now holding such directorships, and those who are holding have only a handful to show.

It will be more interesting to know what the situation was like say a year ago or at its heyday when many MPs were sitting in the board of directors and how many were they accepting then. This will give a true picture of how effective Hsien Loong’s message has gone down and how the MPs have started to tow the line.

Another area of investigative journalism that the people would like to see is the remuneration of Ministers last year. This will be a good reference point to compare the change when the Salary Review Committee comes out with its recommendations. The 2009 and 2010 remuneration payouts are of great interests to the public and should not be forgotten though a review is in progress. It is a kind of a milestone, from where it came and where it goes.

Or perhaps some statisticians in the new media may want to take on this task. Many are dying to know so that they can tell how far the Salary Review Committee has come.

PAP sponsored Presidential candidate

Two interesting developments today with Nathan saying he has not decided if he should run another term and Tony Tan surfacing as a potential PAP sponsored candidate. This brings me to ponder over the selection process of a PAP sponsored candidate. Will it be similar to the Tea Party used to screen potential MPs for GE, where the candidates will go through some kind of interview before being offered to run? This would also imply that the final decision to field a candidate is decided by the PAP and not the candidate who says, ‘I want, I want.’ Or is it that a candidate first decide if he wants to run and then informs the PAP of his intent?

How would the few candidates fit into the PAP selection process or scheme of things? Presumably Tan Kin Lian and Tan Cheng Bock would not even be considered if they inform the PAP of their participation and hoping for the party’s support. What about George Yeo? Would he be considered a candidate for sponsorship?

If the PAP decides to sponsor George, and if Nathan also decides that he wants to run, and if Tony also comes into the picture, would we then have 3 PAP sponsored candidates to choose from? Or can the PAP say no to the candidates and only select one while the others can go and run as independent candidates like the two Tans? Interesting if both Nathan and Tony say yes and PAP says no to any one of them. It can also say no to George if he asks for the party’s sponsorship.

Then if they go ahead to run, they would then be running against the interests of the PAP or running against a PAP sponsored candidate? Now would that runs against the vein and ruffles a few feathers in the process?

6/07/2011

The idiots are thinking very hard

5 idiots are in a business that is commission based. There are only 5 operators in the industry. Business has been bad because the main operator of the business has turned it into a gambling den instead of the real business it used to be, when genuine goods were exchanged. Now the business is all about toxic notes that were printed from thin air.

The 5 idiots could not figure out why the business is running out of steam. In desperation, given the 5 IQ they had, one is suggesting to cut commission to gain market share. This idiot could not see one centimetre ahead of him and could not think that if he lowers his commission, the other 4 idiots will also do so.

So when one idiot comes out with his brilliant plan, the next will follow with a betterer plan. They will keep the cycle of commission reduction going on and on, from 5c to 4c to 1c, to 0.1c and so on and on, as long as they think they can gain market share.

And they are congratulating themselves for being so idiotically brilliant.

Compromising the Singapore Brand

We have branded ourselves as the best in education, an education hub, and also in healthcare, a medical hub, to attract students and medical tourists for the fees they are willing to pay. They came and still coming, for the quality associated with the Singapore Brand.

The private schools sector has received quite a fair share of bad publicity. Now the medical profession is looking like the next candidate to tarnish the well built reputation of the Singapore Brand.

I have heard of countries lowering the standard of entry to medical schools to churn out more native doctors. But the standard has gone down so low that the better informed would avoid the local graduates for their own good.

Not that we have lowered our standards for the same purpose. We have raised our standard so high that many straight As students could not even enter local medical schools. They ended up overseas in some of the best medical schools available in the West. They are excellent doctors whether from our local universities or overseas. That is the kind of standard expected of the Singapore Brand. We have our best in medicine.

The grouses in the media are that we are mixing this elite core of highly qualified professionals with foreign imports of doubtful qualities. And the fear of fake degrees is even more frightening. This rojak of the best and the dubious is going to burn down our shining Singapore Brand in healthcare and, if not careful, destroy the medical hub that we have painstakingly built over the years.

Are we in a hurry for numbers, quick profit and ended up compromising the quality of our healthcare? Are we putting the patients at risk in the hands of quacks or poorly qualified medical professionals?

I hope not. I hope we still have a little commonsense left not to mix shit with good food and spread it around to the innocent and ignorant customers. Or has the rot already started?

Presidential Election – A test case for PAP

With the PAP back in power, the Presidential Election is looking set to be a test case to see whether the people will blindly support the proxy candidate of PAP. In the past elections, a vote for the PAP sponsored candidate was a vote for PAP. In the case of Nathan, there was no election to talk of.

It looks like there will be a contest in this Presidential Election with at least three independent candidates indicating intent to stand. The PAP has yet to announce its candidate. It will be interesting to watch how the voters will vote this time. A defeat of the PAP sponsored candidate will be a big blow to the ruling party. It will be an emphatic NO by the people to the all embracing power and control of the govt. It will also be the first defeat of the PAP in an election. If that be so, PAP will have a problem to fix. It will be the clearest sign of a change of time that the wind in the PAP sail is off.

Would PAP be able to put up another sure win candidate, or is there such a candidate in the PAP camp? Or would this be a contest for separation of power, which means that no matter who the PAP puts up, he will not stand a chance? The unilateral decision of George to want to stand could undermine the PAP’s plan as it may have its own candidate in mind. It is getting more interesting to see the contest of ex PAP, old PAP, defeated PAP and sponsored PAP contesting against each another.

The rationale for an independent Presidency to control the second key against any raid of the treasury by the incumbent govt is anti thesis to a PAP candidate from its inception. The logic is simple and clear, unless the people are plain daft for not being able to see why there is a need for a truly independent President. This will be the test of the people’s will, whether they are independent thinkers who will decide what is best for them, or just daft sheep blindly listening to self serving logic. Then they can be contented with just grazing happily in the well crafted field divided nicely into little sheep pen.

The pathetic part is that the rest of the population have been excluded from standing for the Presidency. The winner will still be one that used to wear a PAP badge before.

6/06/2011

The Singapore Crunch

The rush hour crunch is getting on the nerves of Singaporeans and costing the job of the Minister of Transport and Communication in the last election. Whether it is a case of mismatch of policies or a case of not listening, or a case of losing touch, while the commuters are groaning in pain, the official policy is to discourage car ownership and pushing more people to take public transport. And there is also this big and desperate call for more foreigners to come in or else there will be no economic growth.

If this is not madness, then the dictionary would have to change the definition of the word. The population is feeling the crunch everywhere, on the road, in the bus and trains, in social outlets, in schools, looking for jobs, looking for a place to live, there are just so many people fighting for space and services.

Saturday’s front page news in the ST is about shortage of hospital beds in public hospitals. Can it be? We have one of the best healthcare systems in the world and hospitals are running out of beds! The corridors of some hospitals have also been temporarily converted to squeeze in more beds.

Queues are everywhere, even to park cars. And it will be worst when there is a big event being held.

Not to worry, some wise cracks will pronounce that these are signs of progress and prosperity. Singaporeans who want high growth rates and prosperity must not complain about such little inconveniences. These are happy problems. Do they want to switch places with some underdeveloped countries when these problems are non existent? So, please welcome another 900,000 foreigners to ensure that there is continued growth.

The crunch is on. Is this what the Singaporeans want? Is this what growth and prosperity is all about? Can the standard of living be maintained or be betterer without having to live to the brim in all things? Why must every activity or place be bulging and congested and people in a constant state of stress, fighting for fresh air?

Why must we increase the population further from the 5m today when living conditions are showing signs of stress and fatigue everywhere? Is slowing down the population growth a guarantee for economic downturn and decay? No better way out?

6/05/2011

Let’s make Money and More Money

It is good if everyone can make more money. The govt makes more money, the people make more money, everyone else make more money, including the foreigners. Making a lot of money is not a bad thing. It is good, really.

The trick is making more money from who and for who. Our govt has made plenty of money and a huge reserve. Who are the main beneficiaries of this wealth? Why are the people feeling the pinch and some calling for mercy? Obviously they are not benefiting from the prosperity of the country. I am not commenting on who the HDB is making money from, if they are making money at all, as they recorded something like $1b or $2b loss a year ago, I think. It was in the papers. Likewise the other ministries and stats boards and their money making policies, and who they are making money from.

I am fully behind the govt for making money as their top priority. The whole country must be restructured to make money, but not solely from the people. We can import more foreigners too, if they can help us to make more money, subject to how many our little piece of land can take.

The next most important priority is to make sure the Citizens benefited from all the wealth created. Let the Citizens be the ruling class. The wealth of the country must filter down more to the Citizens, not $10m for you and $1k for me.

Redesign and re prioritise

The govt can redesign the benefits of citizenship and make citizenship a very special class of people, the owners of the land, and not be given to any Tom, Dick and Harry. Make citizenship a privilege class, even an entitlement class, with the right to a share of the nation’s wealth and cheap housing and facilities. Isn’t that what a govt is for?

The country has already set aside a huge reserve. The reserve needs lesser top ups from the profits of the country’s future investments. A bigger portion of the profits can be returned to the Citizens.

The PRs, the foreign workers and professionals can work and live here, to contribute to our wealth. That is the whole purpose of their presence in our land. Let them work for us, treat them well, but don’t forget that this is OUR Country and we own this piece of rock. We provide them with the opportunities to work, to make a good decent income, safety and security, and a good place to stay. We must be rewarded for that. If they think they have a bad deal here, and have no choice but to come here, they can go elsewhere. You have to pay to visit Disneyland! What more if they even allowed you to make a good living here?

If the wealth and benefits of the country are well filtered down and shared by the people, there will be less anger and more pride and commitment to the country and govt.

Make Singaporeans the ruling class of their homeland. They are not daft. Many policies of citizenship/population must be tweaked to accommodate a new system and priorities in favour of the Citizens. Singaporeans be the master, the owner and main beneficiary to this paradise that we have created. There must be a distinction between a Citizen and others. In Rome, not everyone is a Citizen. Don’t throw away our citizenship like casino chips if they are really worthy.

PS. We already have a very exclusive ruling class.

Falling strawmen

The first strawman to fall in our political system is the GRC. Just like the impregnable mothership of the movie Independence Day, the weakness of the GRC is fully exposed and can be brought down. In the next GE, the ministers will be shivering, who will go next. And by the look of things, many will go down with the GRC in the present form.

We are now looking at another strawman bending with the wind, the elected Presidency. With $24m and more to take, hardly anyone is showing interest. For those who have come forward, they brought along a history that are not necessarily welcomed by all the people. Sure, a few will have their diehard fans, converts and cheer leaders edging them on as if the whole island is for them. The truth is further out there in the whole population.

Why is such an honourable office finding so few takers? Okay, 95% or more of the people have already been pre disqualified by the elitist criteria. All men are equal, many are less equal. The criteria is dismissive, with a stroke of the pen, the majority of the people are ruled as not good enough, and their rights as a citizen is limited, not fit to be President of the country.

As a NSman, trained and fit to fight for the country, to die for the country, why is he unfit to stand for the highest office in the land? He is prepared to stake his life for the people and country, defend its honour and freedom, why is he NG? All because he did not have the chance to be a top civil servant, a top politician or the CEO of a big corporation? Can the people accept these criteria lying down? They did, and still not questioning, and keeping mum.

Who is in a position to deprive all the honest and respectable citizens from running for the highest office in the country? A higher being?

6/04/2011

The Singapore Squeeze

Two aliens looking at the Singaporeans being squeezed in a public place.

The Aliens of Paradise

Singapore is home to more than a million foreigners. Actually nearly half of Singapore’s 5m population are foreigners if permanent residents are included. Some were on temporary work passes as construction and manual workers, but many were professional and technical staff in the group called PMETs. The foreign PMETs is a big group of foreign talents employed in high earning jobs. Many were appointed to top local institutions over the locals when local talents were found wanting.

They are a very blessed group of professionals, earning high incomes and an enriching lifestyle that they could not find in their home countries. Some may take root and eventually become citizens while many will return home with a nice savings that will multiply several times in their homeland.

The Singaporeans must thank these people for contributing to the vibrancy and high economic growth of the country. This is the daily mantra that is heard in all the right places. And grateful the Singaporeans should be for the jobs that were created by their presence. Otherwise Singapore will not be able to enjoy the sustained high growth rates over the years, culminating in a superlative 15% growth in year 2011, the highest in the world.

While praises were heaped on these benefactors, a small corner of the population is sulking. There is another group of PMETs, the locals, that is finding life pretty tough going. Those above 50 got to pray that they do not lose their jobs for any reasons. For if it did happened, they are unlikely to find another employment. If they did, it will be a big downgrade and big reduction in income.

Many have gone for retraining for lower grade jobs with lower pay. Their skills and experience were no longer wanted and their jobs replaced by the new and gleaming foreign PMETs. Some turned to being self employed, driving taxis or becoming housing or insurance agents or any kind of agents, to be financially productive. With the high cost of living, high medical fees and high of everything, no income is a dreaded option. Worst, many still have school going children to support.

The lack of job opportunities for this small group of Singaporeans is not confined to just the oldies. Many in their 30s and 40s are also facing intense competition from foreign PMETs for jobs. The experience of writing tomes of application letters without getting a reply is defeating and humiliating. The sense of being not good enough or not wanted by any organisation is hard on the morale and self worth.

Even young graduates are encountering bad experiences in their job finds. The trend of hire and fire and contract staff are making life that much more uncertain. And the young people are expected, if they choose to get hitch, to take a huge housing loans of several hundred thousands, and repayable over 30 years.

How many people on temporary or short term contract jobs would dare to make such financial commitments? The letters of desperation and despair are mounting. In a country that can provide hundreds of thousands of good paying jobs to foreigners, it is troubling to see a section of its own citizens being marginalised, living in fear of being unemployed. These are the alienated citizens of a country that boasted of the highest concentration of millionaires in the world.

The aliens of paradise are complaining. They want to be heard, their plight known to the policy makers that turned their lives upside down. They are living a life of insecurity in a land of plenty for foreigners.

There is no official figure on the size of these aliens in their home country. Many are trying to make their presence felt today at Hong Lim Park, the Speakers Corner for free speech, provided one has registered with the Police. I am not sure if the rules have changed. If not, no free speech for anyone who is not registered with the authority before his freedom to speak.

Today, 4 June, at 5 pm, Gilbert Goh of Transitioning.Org forum is calling for the aliens to gather and make their feelings and plight heard. They are to wear black as a sign of unity and support for the affected. Jobs for Singaporeans is their call.

In the land of millionaires, fear not the despair.