Reaching for the Pinnacles

The Pinnacles in Duxton Plain and many of the new HDB flats in town are priced to resale market prices, at a small discount. When has the policy of selling HDB flats at a subsidy, to selling at market subsidy, and now to market price discount took effect? What the latest policy means is that the price will keep going up depending on the demands. If people are still so crazy about pushing HDB prices to the pinnacles, let me remind them that the main cost of the current US financial crisis is due to high property prices, prices beyond what the average Americans can afford. Even the top traders in Lehman Brothers who were buying million dollars homes, more than one, were caught in the crisis. They borrowed money using their Lehman shares as collateral. When the shares became worthless, they were stuck with million dollar debt. Some several million dollars in debt because of the high gearing and high mortgages. We are in a similar situation. It will screw us when the time is ripe. The hardlanders' income is not going to rise like the million dollar man. In fact many were told not to expect any increases or employers were told not to raise their pay. How could they afford HDB flats that are going to cost more and more? Now, why must HDB flats keep going up just because the market prices are up and not because of cost? Profit is one reason. The next is the need to shore up the property prices so that those with expensive private properties can sell them at ever higher prices. Who are these people with vested interests to keep property prices going one way, up, up and away? The real losers, yes they are the losers, are the hardlanders. They will have to keep paying for the same little space in the air at higher prices. It will come, the bubble must burst. When salary does not rise as fast as the prices of HDB flats, prepare for the bust.

JBJ - The most enduring fighter

Yes, JBJ passed away finally. He fought a good fight. May he rest in peace. He is the most enduring fighter in the Singapore political scene. His political career stretched as long as those of LKY. And he fought LKY all the years, in elections, in Parliament and on the streets. Parliament will miss him. There is always the possibility of him returning to Parliament after he set up his new party to contest for election again. Now he is gone. Amen.

Paying forward - Electricity tariff 21.5% hike

Oil prices falling but Singaporeans are going to face the biggest electricity tariff hike in 8 years. And they are expected to pay 21.5% more for the rest of this year. And Singaporeans should count themselves lucky. The Energy Market Authority CEO Khoo Chin Hean said it could have been worst. Luckily we buy forward and thus only need to pay a smaller hike. Singaporeans got to be thankful. I think we should find a way to buy spot when it is cheap and buy futures when it is cheap. Can there be a way that does not restrict the buyers to just buy future when it is high despite cheaper spot price? Storage and delivery?

Bail out plan rejected

The Americans rejected their leaders. That is what it amounted to. And Dow Jones plunged 777 pts. The years of lawlessness, abuse of power, greed, corruption and lack of control over the recklessness of the Bush govt and the greedy men in Wall Street finally caught up. The Americans are not going to be led by these greedy and irresponsible men. Any lesson to learn? Don't forget that we are a small copy of corporate America.


Time to fine the SGX

xyIt is so easy to throw fines at small investors and remisiers for mistakes that they make. What about mistakes made by SGX? Should SGX be find for mistakes or non compliance to procedures or for sloppiness? It is time that MAS start to monitor and imposed fines on SGX for not doing what it is supposed to do. Only then will it be fair.

Opportunity to export our supertalents

The financial turmoil in the US provides a golden opportunity to export our talents to Wall Street. The fat cats there have discredited themselves so much that soon they will be behind bars if FBI were to do their due diligence. There will be a vacuum for supertalents in finance and cooking the books. We could export some of our top talents there, at a reasonable prize of course. But cannot be too cheap or it will be disgraceful to their talents and pride. Just ask for half the price of the current batch of fat cats will be quite reasonable. This is a new opening that will never come again in their lifetime or here. Paradise just cannot afford to pay them that kind of money and many are stuck as no other organisations could afford them anymore. We can start by fixing them up in Merrill Lynch before we sell out to Bank of America. Then there are Citibank, UBS and Barclay where we have substantial shareholdings. Time to tell them who is boss or the majority owner.

Want a Ferrari?

Few weeks back, the real race in the North South Highway saw a Ferrarri hitting dirt and Mercedes came out on top. Last night, the F1 night race again saw Ferrari hitting the wall with Massa dropping to the tail end and Raikkonen crashing out. Ferrari will still be a prized possession in paradise here. We are the best place for the affluent to flaunt their wealth, drive their Ferraris around in comfort and without fear. Paradise is good for Ferrari owners. Malaysia is also good for people who want to own Ferraris. And there are so many Ferraris for them to pick and choose along the North South Highway. Just place the orders and someone will pick it up for you at a small fee. Ferraris are not cheap cars to run and upkeep. Only the rich can afford it even if they can pick them up for free along the highway. And if they do not want a Ferrari, they can pick from the mobile stable of Lamborghinis or Maseratis or other exotic cars. I t is good to be rich and powerful whether you are in paradise or north of paradise. You can have your Ferraris if you still want them. The rich Singaporean owners will deliver them to you personally.


Compressed time - the new Ethos

Unwittingly many have been submerged under a new lifestyle which often is called the rat race. Everyone is trying to get rich quick, at all costs. Life is no longer a casual stroll in the park. Graduating from university at 25, one only has another 20 or 25 years to accumulate the wealth to live for a life time, or to prove that one has the talent to collect handsome doles for the rest of one's life. By 50 or 55, one either has it or did not. By then it is over. The compressed time that an individual has to cope with is also translated to the behaviour of institutions. Institutions too need to get rich quick, or at least the CEOs must, to prove his worth and collect his bonuses. And his short term goals will transcend throughout the organisations, affecting everyone. Targets were set to measure performance yearly or quarterly. Non performers were shown the exit as quickly as they come in. Only the very privileged few have the luxury of long term, that they are judged or measured over a long period of time. By then nobody will remember what actually happened or be around to tell the story. Is the get rich quick ethos the cause of the recent financial crisis? Fingers are being pointed at the fat cats in Wall Streets and the new whipping boys, the Relationship Managers of local banks. These are now seen as unscrupulous, unprofessional, untrained, unethical, unreliable crooks, lurking in the corners waiting for some unwary ah peks and ah mahs to walk into the banks, and to pounce on them for their life savings. Are they the one solely to be blamed? Banks are an old institution that grows strong and steady overtime, collecting deposits to lend to customers and making the difference. A small profit but a safe and tested operating principle. The banks of today are financial giants that deal in everything that can make money, the quicker the better. Some banks even chased their small savers away or charged them a fee for putting too little money with them. This is the early face of this new ethos, greed. And greed knows no bounds. Money must be made at all costs. Jackson Tai of DBS once lamented in a dinner speech that the industry is tainted with many unethical and unscrupulous practices by its members. No one stood up to challenge him. I think many are just too guilty to look up at him. Yes, banks even stooped to poaching and stealing clients from each other, even from within banks or their subsidiaries. High net worth clients are the prize catch of every banking officer. They will steal from their best friends sitting next door, by hook or by crook. And the management encouraged it or were accomplice to such unethical practices. Why should people be so shocking about the collapse of the American financial institutions and the damage it is causing to the ah peks and ah mahs? When greed is the principle of survival, when getting rich quick is the moral of this new ethos, who is to be blamed? Spare the Relationship Managers. The rot is at the core.


Is it good news or bad news?

Only 1 out of 6 planned ERP gantries will be built in Nov. And ERP charges in Shenton Way/Chinatown area will be reduced by $1. Some called it good news because they will be hit by a stick instead of a sledgehammer. Still got whacked. Some said it is good news because the authorities are listening and willing to change. Looking at it from another angle, it is really bad news. Bad news because the thinking and planning processes were not in gear. Bad news because something like this should have been carefully thought through in the first place. A similar approach is what the SGX had done this week. Whack with a hefty $50k fine first, talk later. The regulations will be reviewed in one month's time. Can decision making be so casual and callous? This is Singapore, not some newly independent third world country. Why has the traffic condition improved so drastically against what was planned? Why was there an overkilled or a plan to over kill? Just do it is good for the entrepreneurs or risk takers. Decisions of such nature should be carefully considered by the best brains and when implemented, must work. Not try try lah.


The Americans are angry

NEW YORK, (AFP) - - An angry US public and Congress demanded to snip the rip cord on golden parachutes used by fat cat CEOs to escape Wall Street's mayhem.... Their push caught the mood of a nation sickened at watching the titans of finance walk away from Wall Street disasters not only unscathed, but enriched.... Those gigantic pay checks, bonuses, and Midas-like farewells encapsulate what the public sees as Wall Street's greed-is-good philosophy.... Public anger at such figures underlies skepticism about the entire government rescue. "We'll never see that money again," said Mathew May, a 24-year-old economics student who skipped lectures to attend a small demonstration at the iconic bronze bull statue near the New York Stock Exchange. "They deregulated the markets and ran wild. Now we're bailing them out." Arun Gupta, an editor of alternative New York newspaper The Indypendent, said there was "socialism for the rich and dog-eat-dog capitalism for the rest of us." "Think about it," he wrote in an email that quickly circulated to thousands of activists and appeared on several websites. "They said providing healthcare for nine million children, perhaps costing six billion dollars a year, was too expensive, but there's evidently no sum of money large enough that will sate the Wall Street pigs." But left-wingers are not the only ones speaking out. Newt Gingrich, the fiercely conservative former speaker in the House of Representatives, wrote in the National Review that the bailouts, likely to top a trillion dollars, smack of "crony capitalism." "Doesn't that mean that we're using the taxpayers' money to hire people to save their friends with even more taxpayer money?" he asked. Forbes, the magazine for and about the rich, also says enough is enough.... " One worker in the New York finance sector, who asked not to be named, told AFP that his colleagues are as angry as the general public. "A lot of people are very upset that managers in their own companies and captains of industry in other areas made some really, really bad decisions," he said. "The most insulting thing is the golden parachutes where these jackals from Fannie and Freddie, having destroyed the company, walked away with millions ... It all comes down to greed." The above are just samples of angry comments by Americans at the greedy fat pigs that threw the American financial sector into disarray.

Unique visitors

Just for information, for the month of Aug we have recorded the highest number of unique visitors for the blog at 8,478. Unique visitors only counts different bloggers visiting and does not include the number of repeat visits or multiple hits per visitors. For Sep to date we have 7,638 unique visitors and given another 4 and a half days to go, we could hit a new high. Cheers.

Leave it to the supertalents

If you really want to find the best supertalents, go to the US, and New York in particular. There you will have the best legal minds and the best financial minds working hand in hand to make the most money for each other. They were the experts that literally control the financial systems of the US and the world. The US and the world are at their mercy. And they pay themselves in the billions annually. That is how good they are. They are all in big deals and mega deals. S$600k is really peanuts to these supertalents. And look at what they have done? Yes, the world's most serious financial crisis can only be made by the supertalents. We are talking about trillions of dollars in jeopardy, maybe the collapse of the world financial system. The US govt's rescue package of US$700 bn could just scratch the surface of this problem. We have not seen anything yet. This is the consequence of leaving your future in the hands of the supertalents. Locally, we have our ah peks and ah mahs seeing their money disappeard in the hands of our talents. Money invested in sophisticated bonds and notes recommended by the experts. What is the moral of the story?

Above the Law

I have been posting about the dictation culture here. This is a mindset that people assume that they can do anything they like, introduce foolish laws and regulations, no matter how obnoxious or atrocious, and think they can get away with it. And they did, so far so good. This attitude and culture is not new and is very prevalent in communist, dictatorship and authoritarian states. And we are one, according to a prominent ST editor. Even in democracies, such things happened. But they have checks and balances to make sure that abuses of power and positions can be checked. The people who made laws and regulations think that they are the law or better still, above the law. They made laws and others obey laws. No one is there to judge them or above them to kick their arses if they floundered. To prevent such nonsense, no one must be allowed to be above the law. There must be institutions that can play the checks and balance role.


Make a mistake, $50,000 fine!

This is another explosive issue. I heard that the remisiers are extremely unhappy about this new ruling that they can be fined up to $50,000 if they make a mistake and sell shares which they did not have in the Buy In market. Many were just shaking their heads in despair. The value of the mistake could be less than a hundred bucks. And for such a ruling to get through, it must have gone through many rounds of discussions among many supertalents. And it is passed. Great piece of regulation.

Changed Singapore Dream: Fleeing The City of Possibilities

This is the heading of an article posted at TOC today. I read the 17 comments following this article and form the impression that we are losing the people. The comments were expressed by 17 vocal forumers. And their sentiments are probably felt by many Singaporeans. Why are we losing the people in the midst of such great material wealth? Why is this losing touch with the people, being felt by so many, but totally ignored by those at the top who still think that everything is ok? Which is the real illusion? At the rate that it is going, our NSmen may not do what they are expected when called to do. The heart is sore and no longing there. Who says only rulers got no heart? The people at the bottom are also losing hearts. And we are plodding along happily in delirium.

caveat emptor - minibonds

Ultimately, it's buyer beware (caveat emptor) I REFER to Tuesday's report, 'MAS tells banks to give priority to worried investors'. It may be presumptuous of Mr Tan Kin Lian to assume that the banks erred in selling structured products to retail customers. These products are regulated under the Financial Advisers Act and the Securities and Futures Act. Only qualified advisers can market and give advice on such products. They must have a reasonable basis for any recommendation that is made on structured products and must provide investors with a fair description of all material information.... Structured products are not suitable for all investors. Each product can exhibit very different characteristics as well as associated risks and rewards. They may appear to be fixed-income instruments, but may contain embedded options which do not necessarily reflect the risk of the issuing credit. These options may be 'plain vanilla' or highly leveraged exotic options. As each is unique, the risks inherent in any one structured note may not be obvious. Hence, read carefully the prospectus or pricing statement, which explains the risks, tax treatment and other important information in detail. Ultimately, it is your responsibility to protect your own interests. If you do not understand how the product works, seek clarification with your adviser. Don't buy anything that you do not understand. Jag Kuo Soon Yong The above was posted by sgnews in Singapore kopitiam. I can agree with Jag Kuo's argument about caveat emptor and buyers should not buy unless they know what they are buying. In reality, how many people know what they are buying. But that is beside the point. What if the seller peddle these sophisticated products to the ah pek and ah sohs which could barely understand what financial instruments are? Targettting them in first principle is already wrong. Now, how many of those affected belong to such a category?

The people are angry

Online and offline petitions by angry people to claim back money lost or to be lost in financial derivatives arising from the collapse of Lehman Brothers and other American institutions have started. And MAS is looking into it. In America, the FBI is also looking into it for fraud by those organisations selling such bonds and notes. At best I think we can look from the angle of not enough due diligence and misrepresentation. This is the first time such an action is being pushed to the frontpage news by aggrieved investors. It may be time for MAS to look at failed IPOs that went down after a few years on listing. Some even reporting losses within 2 years from listing when the prospectuses were full of praises and recommendations on how well the companies were doing. There must be lack of due diligence or even misrepresentation or even fraud in some cases. The investors must be compensated. The organisations involved in the listing of such failed companies must be held accountable and to compensate the investors. So far they have been getting away scot free.

Life is party in Paradise

If only I were the director of 10 companies or chairman of a few companies, and collecting millions and doing practically nothing, life will be so wonderful. Not only playing golf in free time or travelling under company expenses, it is party all year round. Now the world's biggest bash, a $100 million party is in town. The F1 promises to bring in the world's rich and famous here, the well heeled and well connected, to party. And for these somebodies, you got to be somebody, they are going to party for free. All expenses paid by the banks, big organisations and sponsors of the events. To live in the best hotels and hospitality suites, the best seats to watch the race, the best food and companies, wine and dance the night away, all for free. As for the nobodies, please dig into your pockets and find that $300 or $3000 to buy the tickets. And they will have to buy their own drinks too. Life is great in paradise, if you have made it.


4th least corrupt country in the world!

Singapore is the 4th least corrupt country in the world. Only 3 countries, Denmark, Sweden and New Zealand were better than us. In Asia, we are the least corrupt. Hongkong and Japan lie quite far away from us. Not a bad achievement. To take stock, countries that are more corrupt than us are Finland, Switzerland, Netherlands, Australia, Canada, Austria, Germany, Norway UK, US and many many more, in fact the rest of the world. The Americans, the Brits and the Europeans should stop criticising us about corruption. We are less corrupt than them. But it is all relative. It would be better if the survey by the Transparency International's annual Corruption Perceptions Index said that we are not corrupt. The survey just says that we are not as corrupt as others.

No need more regulations for cyberspace

Why is there such an obsession to want to regulate the internet? Who wants to regulate the internet and for whose interests? I don't see bloggers being too keen to want people to regulate their activities. In communist countries, dictatorships, authoritarian states, regulations and laws are the tools to keep the people in check and the rulers in power. Laws and regulations are aplenty, all for the sake of the rulers and not for the people. That is the reason why they are so obsessed with more rules and regulations. In our case, thank god, we have elected honourable people with high principles, morals and selflessness as our rulers. So the danger for abuse of rules and laws is not there. Our rulers are righteous people and will not interpret the laws to their benefit or to the disadvantage of the people. For such reasons, we are an exception. Actually I would support more rules and regulations as they will be made for the good of the people. Let's talk about govt and rulers in general, excluding our govt as we are different from the rest of the world. It is very common and easy for rogues to be elected as rulers or assumed power. Some will wear the mask of absolute righteousness. But when in power, the only thing they care is to keep themselves in power forever. And they will want to keep the people in control with more rules and regulations. All done for their own interests. Even without more regulations and laws, many tricks are available to them to intimidate the people. Calling up people to harass them, invite them to the police station for tea. Or worst, if all things failed, they can use the ISA and arrest innocent people on fictitious charges. If the people remains quiet, those arrested will be arrested for good. If the people make noise, they may release them and claim that the arrest was for the safety of the person. Do people really want to have more rules and laws governing internet? I feel that common law, the law of human decency, the law of respecting other people etc should be adequate. There are enough laws to regulate human behaviour and crimes. No need to have more. What for, for who?


Why no Tamil signages at the airport?

Red card was shown and a speaker was not allowed to talk on the above topic at Hong Lim Park. This is a sensitive issue on race. A K.Sabesan wrote to the ST and said, 'I wish to express my strong displeasure over the decision of the police to cancel a planned talk at the Speaker's Corner over the absence of Tamil signages at the airport and other tourist attractions...I strongly supported the initiative not out of hatred towards other races, but felt that the issue had to be addressed.' I have full sympathy with such feelings. We have so many Tamils and Bangladeshis here who don't read English or Chinese. We also have so many Thais, Myanmese, Filipinos and Indonesians and people from other countries. And we also have tourists from around the world coming here, including Arabs, Russians, East Europeans, Japanese, Mongolians, Vietnamese etc etc. As a global city welcoming the world to our home, we must show our hospitality towards our guests and our guest workers. We need to make our facilities friendly to all of them. And this is especially so to the valuable foreign workers and foreign talents sacrificing to build our countries and provide employments to Singaporeans. We should have signages for all the languages of the world in our airports and tourist spots. That is not only natural justice, we can also claim another first to do so. Soon big cities like New York, London and Paris will follow our example as truly international cities and put up language signages in their airports. If we are not going to do so, then we should do the next niciest thing, to cut down on the number of foreign workers and foreigners in our country. Then no one can be angry with us or complain that we are being unfair to them. We can't really blame them when there are so many of them here. We must treat them fairly, at least let them know how to go from A to B, in their own languages. Where on earth can you find foreigners demanding rights to have their languages in signages in our airports and tourist spots? Only in Sillypore!

Local fund managers grotesquely underpaid

Below is an article showing how well off American and European fund managers are being paid in year 2007 alone. Top on the list is John Paulson at US$3.7bn, second was George Soros at US$2.9bn and third was James Simon at US$2.8bn. We should quickly raise the pay for our local fund managers before they all ran to America and Europe. American hedge fund billionaire John Paulson 'American hedge fund billionaire John Paulson was his industry's biggest earner in 2007 thanks to a bet against sub-prime mortgages that netted him $3.7bn (£1.9bn) in personal profit. As the world's biggest banks reeled in the face of the credit crunch last year, the top five hedge fund earners took home at least $1.5bn apiece after their funds gambled the right way in exceptionally volatile markets. Hedgie Paulson's made it, now he must spend it. A survey by US hedge fund magazine Alpha, published yesterday, said the five - Mr Paulson, George Soros, James Simons of Renaissance Technologies, Philip Falcone of Harbinger Capital and Kenneth Griffin of Citadel - all individually earned more than the $1.2bn that JPMorgan will spend to buy Bear Stearns, the most high profile victim of the crunch. Mr Paulson, himself a former managing director at Bear Stearns, stole the crown after setting up the $150m Paulson Credit Opportunities Fund in June 2006 to short sub-prime mortgage-backed assets. Where other investors bet against the entire sub-prime index, Mr Paulson's team drilled down to the individual CDOs, delivering net returns of 590pc for investors in the fund by the end of the year. Number two on the list - 77-year-old Mr Soros, who called the dotcom bust - also owes his $2.9bn payday to his bets against sub-prime, as does ex-Barclays Capital man and Harbinger founder Mr Falcone, who pocketed $1.7bn. Hedge fund traders needed to earn at least $210m to reach the top 50, a feat achieved by eight London-based traders. Top of the UK's hedge fund performers, at number 13 with $450m, was the head of Atticus Capital's fund, David Slager. Others include GLG Partners' co-founders Noam Gottesman and Pierre Lagrange, who made $350m apiece, while star trader Greg Coffey made $300m. This was on top of the hundreds of millions of dollars the trio made when they listed GLG on the New York Stock Exchange last year. But GLG has entered more treacherous waters. News emerged yesterday that Mr Coffey - a specialist in emerging markets - unexpectedly handed in his resignation at GLG earlier this week, sending the fund's shares plunging by 12.5pc to $8.75. The GLG partner rescinded his resignation on Tuesday, but is locked in talks with Mr Gottesman and Mr Lagrange about his future, with no guarantee he will stay on.' I would like to give credit to the source of this article. Unfortunately the source was not disclosed.

A tale from NTU

I did something naughty last week by Terrence Lee What a week it has been. I'd expect my four years in university to be extremely peaceful, free from trouble and fuss. My idea of university life used to be that of dating, studying, and having fun generally. How things have changed in the space of seven days. Things are certainly getting interesting, right here at NTU. In one night, at the click of a mouse, I became an activist, and I did not even realise it then. So, what is activism, you wonder? It is standing up for certain beliefs, and fighting to get it recognised by the authorities and the wider public.... So, what exactly happened? Here's a brief: 1) Chee Soon Juan came down to NTU to gave out flyers and talk to students. They were generally apathetic, but student reporters were on hand to report the event. 2) However, the campus administration did the unthinkable -- they censored all coverage of Dr Chee's visit, wanting to "protect students." 3) Many of us at the Nanyang Chronicle, the school's campus newspaper, were infuriated. It showed two things: that the school has no regard for the opinions of students and that the school treats us like children, thinking that we will be easily influenced by whatever we read. That was when a thought came to me: Get it out! Get it out! Singaporeans need to hear about this!.... Above is an extract of a post by Terrence Lee and crossed posted in the TOC. It is a lamentation by a university student on how NTU, an institution of higher learning, dealt with the visit of Chee Soon Juan to the university. According to Terrence Lee, the students were treated like children and the university was trying to protect them. Where is papa and mama? If university undergraduates are so naive, so fragile, so innocent, that they need to be protected by the university from a politician, how could our children be exposed to the vagaries of life and to make informed opinions of the world? It looks like the undergrads are a cohort of kindergarten children. What happens to the old belief that the university is a fertile ground to nurture the young minds, to liberate them from ignorance, to acquire an inquiring mind, to deliberate and expound and exchange ideas, of youthful idealism? Looks like it is better to feed them with Vitamin C daily to protect them from the common flu. These are poor and helpless students and can be easily exploited and manipulated as they are quite mindless. I just make up my mind to send my children overseas to get a real education.

Wrong perception on power station sale

Jenny Teo, Director, Energy Market Authority, wrote a letter to Today to explain the rationale for the sale of power stations to private companies. The story that the govt was selling the stations for 'good profit' and to avoid 'having to explain to the public high (electricity) tariffs' were wrong. These were not the reasons why the power stations were divested. It was all a govt's strategy to open up the market for more competition, restructure the industry, which ultimately will benefit the consumers. And this is already bearing fruits. Otherwise the consumers will now be paying much higher tariffs when oil prices rose. The efficiency and productivity gains were passed on to the consumers. With the opening up, with participation of more players, with liberalisation, 'there will be more scope for innovation, better service and competitive pricing' which means consumers will benefit more. The main logic is still privatisation. Organisations that are not privatised will be inefficient and unproductive. This logic is quickly loosing its meaning and becoming stale. The civil servants of today are no longer the dumb and dull civil servants of yesteryears. They are the best of the crop, the best talents of the country. And they have all the resources to improve and better the system. They can do all their studies, go on study trips, all information and technology are open secret and available to them. The civil servants can do much better, given their talents, to run more efficient and productive organisations. There is no need to privatise, to commercialise, to be efficient. In the present context, a govt monopoly is an advantage and can be very productive given the scale of operations. Unless our civil servants are not as talented as they are make out to be. Then that will be a different story. And we should actually sack all of them. Why pay them market salary if they are unable to compete with the best in the market?


The housing bubble

Other than the genius of the best financial minds in printing worthless papers to be sold in the trillions of dollars, the basic ingredient in the American financial crisis is non other than the housing bubble. Property prices were allowed to run unchecked in parallel with more loans to those who cannot afford them. And when the bubble bursts, when the people no longer be able to afford the properties they could not afford in the first place, the house of cards crumbles. We are also creating the housing bubble here. Asset enhancement to make properties more expensive by the days. Great wealth creation. Great illusions will soon become great delusion. When the income is not rising, or shrinking, the runaway prices of properties are unsustainable. It is extremely hazardous to give loans in the hundreds of thousands and millions, at 80% or 90% of the property value. Even at 60% or 70% is risky when servicing such huge loans is dependent on the economy and the monthly salary. When the economy falters, when the income stops coming in, the dream house will vanish in the dream. The fundamentals of economics, of thrift and living within your means is an evergreen truth that one can ignore at your own risk. The American dream of living on future income, on borrowing, has come to an end. It is a miracle that it can go on for so long. The bubble has burst. The dream is shattered. The Americans will find it increasingly dependent on cheap Chinese products, not matter if the quality is not up to their expectation. That's what they can afford now.

The wrong vibration

The mantra of foreign talents is still being sung in high places. We need a new vibration. We need more concerts, arts festivals, F1s, bohemian corners, pot parties, gay parties, yatch racing etc etc. We need to fill up the Esplanade and the museums. These are the kinds of vibrations we are expecting to befit a first world city. Black tie parties, wine drinking and beautiful women in their expensive fineries. What kind of vibrations are we getting? The Geylang kind, the vibrations of litter, noise and stench. And we have little Geylangs aroung the islands. We are a first world city within a city of sleaze. We have kept the foreign workers in dormitories in graveyards and secondary jungles or industrial parks. But when these run out, or when the number can no longer be contained, we are going to see them swimming in the plummest corners of paradise. Serangoon Garden is only the beginning. They will move nearer to us as a matter of time. Nice vibration.


When the end is nigh

The dramatic change of fate of UMNO is a set piece of how things will be when the end is nigh. All the facade of confidence, of things looking right, of support from every corner, of supporters swearing and willing to fight for the cause, of the silence majority remaining as acquiescence as before, will take an about turn. First the brave will start to take sides. The Malaysian bloggers were the suicide squads that took the challenge of the media through the internet. And gradually the ground was won when the other side of the story got an opportunity to be aired and heard. The truth becomes tooth while the bigger truth emerges from the wilderness. The continued abuses of the people and the trampling of their rights were given a bigger airing and more were willing to stand up as in the Hindraf case. The Chinese community were the pathetic lot that continues to swallow all the discriminations and obstacles placed in their path, education, economic opportunity, religious freedom etc were accepted by the Chinese component parties in the BN. They totally discredited themselves remaining in the company of their abusers. They were abandoned. Then the Malay ground was worked up to face the truth. That they too were the neglected lot. And they too abandoned UMNO. UMNO was left with a bunch of politicians that were showering themselves with the wealth of the country but projecting the image of fighting for the interests of the bumiputras. The deception was unveiled and the conclusion was foregone. The royalties stood up to claim higher moral ground that they could not do so before. And now the judiciary and the legal profession are standing up to say no to the abuses of the judiciary and the police. They are saying no to ISA! Where would all these lead to for UMNO? More will stand up. All the injustices and unfair policies and practices will be challenged. And the last bastion of UMNO's supporters will revolt and tear down UMNO themselves. These are the eventualities of events when the end is near. It can happen in paradise too. The wrongs cannot be kept under the lid forever. When the time comes, people will stand up and speak up from the most unexpected corners. In the meantime, the incredulous and nonsensical will keep on piling up till that day, to be removed and sent to the dustbin of history.

Where are the accountabilities?

Should heads roll? The near collapse of the US financial system and the bankruptcy of several investment banks must surely see someone taking responsibility and getting the stick. Looks like it is not going to happen and they will live happily ever after with their loots over the years of mismanagement. According to Ann Williams in her article on the financial crisis in the Sunday Times, the CEO of Lehman Brothers, Richard Fuld, 'gets to keep the US490 million he earned.' If it was a simple case of business failure, fair enough. What if there were mismanagement amounting to fraud, cooking of accounts, hiding losses etc? From her article, she mentioned 10 reasons for the current turmoil and among which were the churning out of dubious financial products to unwary customers, raising loans and living off loans and more loans, 'keeping loss making investments "off balance sheet" and the failure of regulators to do their due diligence. All the policing and regulating agencies, including auditors etc that were supposed to check on the soundness of business practices and accounting systems were not doing their jobs. The accountability of failure of such a scale does not lie alone on the respective investment banks but a hoard of regulating bodies, including govt agencies. But as mentioned by Ann Williams, the Americans and those apeing the American practices, have been living on a culture of greed 'that gave outsized rewards for success and risk taking but did not penalise failure.' Do we have a mirror of similar practices and culture here? Are we harbouring a similar potential problem that is waiting to explode in our face? Have we been doing things like the Americans, for greed without any concern to the consequences of failure? This is what Tan Kin Lian said, 'There has to be stronger protection of consumers. Regulators should disallow unsuitable products form being marketed to the retail investors. Regulators also need to take stronger action against financial institutions that fail in their duy to provide good advice to their customers.' This should include financial institutions and regulators who have failed to do their due diligence. A case in point is the churning out of many IPOs into the stock markets which eventually failed within a few years despite the glorious accounting data dished out to the investors in the prospectus. Listing companies into the stock exchange with no control on their qualities is a crime. So far no one has been held accountable.


Uniqueness of space in Cyberspace

The nature of space in Cyberspace is very different from the space that we know. What we are accustomed to is a three dimensional space that can be define in physical terms. The space within our properties, the geographic space of a country, a space that is either yours or mine or share by all. Hong Lim Park is a physical space. What about the space in our minds? Cyberspace is very similar to such mental space except that one can actually visit such a space. Mysingaporenews, redbeanforum or any forum in cyberspace is just an abstract space in nowhere. Each space can actually be as big as the universe and can be ever expanding. And the best part of it is that everyone can have a cyberspace as huge as the universe but not at any time infringed or violated into another person's cyberspace. And that space literally does not exist if one does not key in the cyberspace address to enter that space. Why or how can such space that is there but not there be subject to regulations? If no one wants to key in www.redbeanforum.com or www.mysingaporenews.blogspot.com, these places do not exist at all. The person who enters into someone's cyberspace, enters on his own initiative. The cyberspace owner can openly announce to visitors that they need not visit if they are not comfortable with the space. The govt needs not visit any cyberspace site. The physical govt can exist in its own physical dimension and at the same time cyberspaces can exist in parallel but in a different dimension without encroaching on the physical space of the govt. So why the hang ups and the uneasiness of the existence of cyberspaces? Why can't cyberspaces exist without the interference of govts?


The pathetic being of politicians

The politicians are the leaders of the people. The honourable and righteous role model to be respected by the people. And rightly so, they shall not be objects of ridicules. They have big missions and noble roles to play in any society. And when they play their roles well, they will be held in high esteem, to be remembered in perpetuity in the history books. Why is it that politicians can become pathetic and lose the respect of the people? How could they land in a situation when they become a mockery or jokes in private parties? They will if they allow personal or non national interests to rule their thinking and policies. A good case is the arrest of journalists and parliamentarians in Malaysia. When they could not find any good reasons to arrest the opposition or critics, they threw the ISA at them. And what have these people done to be arrested? And the most ridiculous of all is for the Home Minister to turn around and said the arrest was to protect the journalist from harm. And Anwar Ibrahim is now pronounced as a threat to national security. This means that he can be arrested under ISA. For what? For having the majority of MPs to qualify to form the govt and replace the current govt? It is so easy to call anyone names or hang a security threat placard on anyone's neck and put that person in prison. A dog is a fish. Yes, a fish got two eyes. A dog also got two eyes. A fish got a tail, a dog too got a tail. You still don't believe that at dog is a fish? A fish can swim. Yes a dog can swim too. So a dog must be a fish. This kind of cock talk can only come from arrogant politicians. When politicians speak in this kind of logic, they deserve to be put into a gossip corner. People may politely smile at their cock explanations, but there is no running away that they have made a fool of themselves in the eyes of the people. And when that happens, all respectability, honour, moral authority etc is gone. Habis. That is how pathetic politicians can be when they take a wrong stand for the wrong reason.

No change in Dictation Culture

The CPF ruling on sale of property for those above 55 has changed again without any discussion with the public. The rulers think that it is good or their right to keep the people's money. So when you sell your property, your money must go back to make up for the shortfall in the minimum sum. Now they did not even go through the motion of letting people know of the impending change, no need for feedback. Just dictate it. And it's done. No need to put up a farce of consulting the people. The rulers shall rule and the people shall be ruled. It is our money!


More hugging and embracing may do the trick

MP Lim Wee Kiak, who sits on the Government Parliamentary Committee for National Development and Environment, suggested that employers work with grassroots leaders to organise dorm visits for residents, to foster mutual understanding. Quoted from TodayOnline. This is a good suggestion. We should organise more social activities, visit the foreign workers more, have more parties with them to get to know them better. Then they will understand the locals and the locals will understand them. And with such understanding, they can live happily together. Problem solved.

Foreign workers due to poor planning

Mr Mah, meanwhile, admitted to possibly “poor planning” on the authorities’ part when it came to accommodating foreign workers. . “We plan for a certain level of increase (in the influx) but we never expected the demand to go up so high,” he said. In 2006, the increase in foreign workers numbers was 55,000, compared to 102,000 last year. . So is Singapore planning adequately, going forward? “If we get more people to accept the trade-offs, I am confident we can meet demand,” said Mr Mah....Quoted from TodayOnline Lin Yanqin yanqin@mediacorp.com.sg Oh, can we accept poor planning as an excuse?

The Loot Chain

The trouble financial institutions in the US did not happen yesterday. It did not happen last year. It happened many years back. But all these institutions were reporting glorious profits all these years. And the top management were paying themselves crazy for turning in profits after profits. And they all looked so real. These are high profile public companies and are audited annually by the top auditing firms. Cannot be wrong. And there are top notched regulators regulating them. Everything is above board. Now they have turned out to be cans of worms. Why nobody knows? Why no whistleblowers? Yes, there were. Read a Bloomberg article posted in http://www.littlespeck.com/ for the full story. Whistleblowers were threatened inspite the laws to protect them, and threatened by the regulators who were supposed to look at these companies carefully. The moral of the story is to check who are behind these looters before you blow the whistle. US$900b have been pumped in so far to save all the fallen blue chip companies. Would the investors be able to take a single cent back from the management who have been looting the companies? Would the auditors and regulators be hanged? Unlikely. They are all in the loot chain. Would this happen here? Unlikely. We have the best brains administering the system and watching over them like a hawk. Even people who bought a single lot of 20c share and recorded the date wrongly will be caught. This is how meticulous and detailed we are. We have the resources. And there will be more resources to watch over the big boys. Then we have the best auditing firms, and top notched management team. If they play around with the accounting system they will be caught. No way will it happen here. But if 'sway sway' that it happens to some of the big companies, just pray hard that they are not managed by foreign talents. For most foreign talents will come in with a golden parachute. Anything wrong, company goes bust, they will still bail out safely with a soft landing and a big bag of loot to retire happily.


Game over in Wall Street

The financial wizards and witches in Wall Street are running out of magic and tricks. All the derivatives, paper money, junk bonds etc that they have concocted to be exchanged for money are not working. By the stroke of mid night, they will be transformed back to their original forms, worthless papers. We have seen Merrill Lynch, Citibanks going down. Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, and Lehmah. AIG barely breathing. Now who's next? Morgan Stanley, and Goldman Sach? Is there anyone that would be spared? The game is over. But the wizards and witches are still very, very rich. It is the poor investors in America and the world over that have paid the price. Someone care to explain why these people are paid millions and millions when they are gambling with other people's money? And when the game is up, they just pack up and go. They only lose other people's money, not their own money.

Thumbs up for CPF staff

Nothing to do with the policies and the need for people to contribute till death do they part. Wondering why people who are economically active after 60 would still be needed to contribute to their CPF? Just a side track. I was at CPF the other day during lunch time and there were quite a lot of people waiting to be attended. Quite normal as lunch time is a good time for many employees to do their personal chores. What struck me was the attitude of the counter staff at the reception. There was a kind of purpose, enthusiasm and dedication to their job. They came across like self employed people running their own business and knowing that every customer counts and every second counts. They attended to their customers as quickly and attentively as they could. For those who needed to join the long queue, they were advised to go for lunch and return later after collecting the queue number. For those that could be attended to quickly, they did it immediately. I have never seen a govt dept or stats board that is so fired up. Whoever is motivating these staff to work that way deserves an award.

The immigrants of Malaysia

I have received the following note which I think is quite informative. *Mahathir's father who speak Malayalam came from Kerala, Southern India. Badawi's grandfather, Ha Su-chiang (also known as Hassan), was a Chinese Muslim who came from Sanya in Hainan, Southern China. Syed Hamid Albar's father is of Hadhrami Arab descent. Khir Toyo His father, Joyo Erodikromo, was an immigrant from Java, Indonesia. And even the current 'racist' Ahmad Ismail that went into hiding came from Sumatra. And all these people dare to call others squatters & immigrants in Malaysia?!

The official definition of what is political

What is political and what is not political were clearly spelt out by Ho Peng Kee in Parliament. He also explained what can cause people to debate with politicians in public events and cause security concerns and what cannot. The definitions were the most explicit that one can get and I don't think any political scientist or lawyer will be able to dispute it. The gem was not about what he said. I didn't pay any attention to them. What was impressionable was the seriousness in the way Ho Peng Keng explained his position. His face muscles were all taut and tense. And I think Parliament must be very silent with all the Parliamentarians listening intensely to what he had to say. He passed with flying colours for his no nonsense approach to an issue that is becoming a talking point in every gossip corner. It was a very brave delivery. The best gem was a little clip in the news that I caught a glimpse of. It was on Sylvia Lim listening to Ho Peng Kee's discourse on what is political and what is not. You should see the smile on her face. It was all lighten up. That was the most exquisite smile that I have ever seen. And it told so many things without her saying a single word. It would be good if the full clip can be made available in Youtube. I will call it the smile that says everything.

The Malaysian Revolution continues

Just a matter of a few months back you would not believe that it can happen. Two muslim groups and the Mufti of Perlis, Asri Zainul Abidin, are speaking out to defend the arrest of Chinese journalist and Chinese DAP parliamentarians under the ISA. The racial divide is breaking down and the different races are finding a common ground as Malaysians. This is impossible and unimaginable. And it is happening. The mindset of the Malaysians of all races are changing. The voodoo spell of UMNO has been cast away. Malaysians are uniting as one people for a new Malaysia. And all of a sudden UMNO is looking like a bankrupt political party, running out of ideas except threats of violence and the abuse of police authority.


Power of The Old Media (TOM)

DAP leader Teresa Kok was arrested under the Malaysian ISA when Utusan Melayu published a report alleging that she was involved in an effort to prohibit Azan, the muslim call to attend prayer. This is despite the denials by the authorities of the respective mosques that she was involved. See how powerful the media can be. No one is questioning how the report came about or who wrote the report and the basis of the report. A Malaysian citizen, a politician, is now in detention for 28 days and can be extended, all because of a newspaper report. Don't under estimate the power of TOM.

New laws to protect mentally ill

This law is timely given the statistics that 1 in 6 are mentally ill. With so many of them around us, it is important to protect them from harm by people who are responsible for their well being and people who are to protect them. Are there any laws to protect people who are not mentally ill but treated as one? Psychiatric problems sometimes are not clear cut. There have been instances of geniuses being diagnosed as cracks. The line between brilliance and insanity is very thin. There must be laws to protect the innocent from being wrongly diagnosed as mentally sick too.


Notable quote - Petra Raja Kamaruddin

A powerful quote from Raja Petra Kamaruddin There should be no bloodshed and loss of life. And ask the Malays in the opposition to come out in defence of their non-Malay brothers and sisters and warn the Umno Malays, in no uncertain terms, that they take to the streets at the risk of facing fellow Malays from the opposition who will defend their non-Malay brethren to the last drop of their blood. I, for one, am ready to stand by my Chinese and Indian comrades. So let Umno be warned." - Raja Petra Kamarudin, editor of Malaysia Today now under ISA detention. I copy the above quote from www.littlespeck.com. This is how far the progressive Malays in Malaysia have come, moving away from racial and parochial politics, into a new world of multi ethnicity, a future where all men are brothers.

Police arrest citizen to protect her

Well, that was what Syed Hamid said about the arrest to Sin Chew paper journalist Tan Hoon Cheng. He said he had information that harm might come to her. So the ISA was invoked to arrest her to protect her. Why didn't he go after those people that want to harm her? And now releasing her would it not expose her to harm again? The use of the ISA is now being questioned even by UMNO leaders and the de facto Law Minister Zaid Ibrahim is threatening to resign if not stopped. The Malaysian govt's use of the police against its political rivals and the willingness of the police officers to go along with it have turned Malaysia into a country not much different from Myanmar or other authoritarian states. Malaysia is quickly slipping away from its democratic principles. And this abuse of political and police power is no longer acceptable to the Malaysians both within and outside the govt. Maybe democracy will triumph against the evil of power.

'Silly' people working for free

Are there silly Singaporeans who are willing to work for free? Apparently there are. But given a society that believes in nothing is for free, that talents will not work for free, people who work for free must be non talents. Logical? If you are good, you must be paid handsomely. You must demand to be paid for your talent. Once you are afraid to demand for your talent, then you jolly well accept that you are not a talent. Only non talent work for free and thinking that they are talents. Obviously their work will amount to nothing much and no attention will be paid to them. I acknowledge that the TOC proposal on public transport requires a lot of effort, time and energy and talent. Is there anything new? The supertalents would have even more better ideas than the 6 points of TOC. These are full time employees, carefully selected, the creme al creme. Just tell them what you want and they will come up with the answers that you want. The problem is not in the solution. The problem is what does the govt want. If profit is the mission, no problem. If world class is what the govt wants, no problem. If you tell the supertalents that you want something good, reasonable, and reasonably cheap, they will give it to you. If you tell them you want a transport system that moves people, as many people as possible, at the lowest cost, not for profit, they will give it to you. There is no need to take more money from the motorists or anyone. No need to rob Peter to pay Paul. We are going in circles with this Peter and Paul formula. There are enough money in the system to provide an efficient service, with lesser profits.

Positive impact of fare hike

Fare hike is not going to bring about better quality of service except better hardware if the revenue is reinvested. But there can be positive impacts with higher fare. As fare goes up, some will definitely feel the pinch and will avoid taking public transport if possible. Walk or cycle or not travelling at all. This will cut down on usage and free up some space in the trains and buses. The foreign workers will be the first to feel the pinch. They will be the first to stay away from MRT. Unfortunately transportation is necessary and many cannot but must travel. These groups will have no choice but keep on paying. Actually, if not for these poor buggers whose pocket is already burnt with a big hole, I would like to see transport fare to double so that the trains and buses will be more empty and more comfortable. But again this is only a fleeting dream. When usage is lower, the transport companies will just cut down on the number of trains or buses to keep them full and packed. The commuters cannot win in this game. They will always have to put up with packed trains and buses. That is the only way to reflect that we are like Tokyo or some big cities. A visual affirmation of progress and high social and economic activities.

The silence is more frightening

Malaysians are appealing for calm and not to provoke the UMNO led govt. The govt is suffering from a sieged mentality. It knows that it can be out of power any moment. Drastic measures will be taken when things turn out that way. Anwar may face the greatest crisis of his life. And so will Malaysians. Hishammuddin and Khairy and the other ultras have been quiet. In fact too quiet and it is becoming more frightening. What are they thinking and planning to do next? And they are going to be joined by Mahathir, the man who singlehandedly turned Malaysia into what it is today, and a crisis of his own doing. Do not light that match or press the door bell. The spark could ignite the tense and highly charged atmosphere and engulf the whole country in flame.

One crime too many

It is time to justify the presence of foreign workers in our midst. Yes, fewer of them were arrested on a per 100,000 number count. So they are safer than Singaporeans. There were 435 Singaporeans per 100,000 as to 286 foreigners arrested. Statistically speaking, foreigners are safer and we should actually replace Singaporeans with foreigners and our crime rate will be lower. Wait a minute. We are talking about number of criminals arrested. How many crimes were still not solved and were committed by foreigners? Can we have an absolute figure on the number of crimes committed by foreigners and the nature of such crimes? The reports in the main media gave the impression that crimes by foreigners, given their numbers, are tolerable and acceptable. And many Singaporeans also think so. Anyone ask the victims and their families of such crimes whether they are acceptable or not? The Serangoon Garden residents obviously think not. One crime committed is one crime too many. One serious and vicious crime committed means many people will suffer for it. Somehow I got the impression that Singaporeans are comfortable with crimes and they do not mind being victims of crimes. Or is it that they think the crimes will not happen to them?


A day without LKY

I posted about this a few weeks back. The news that LKY's heart is fluttering is troublesome even on a Sunday morning. Would his heart dare to attack him? My earlier post was on the transition of power and of a Singapore that can continue to hum quietly and efficiently without LKY in the govt. And we have all the time in the world for that to happen with him retiring to a non govt position. But LKY is around and in the govt, for an uninterrupted period of half a century. The thought and fear of what Singapore will be like without him is going to be very uneasy. Modern Singapore has never had a day without LKY. Now this can happen without notice. The possibilities are endless and the uncertainties are unhealthy. If only LKY had backed out from the govt 10 years ago, life will go on as per normal with or without him when his time is up. Now the suspense is just beginning. Nothing is settled until the so called fat lady sings.

First break into the world of free speech

Not bad for a first appearance at Hong Lim Park by TOC and a spectator size of 150. TOC reported the number to be 150 to 200. Whatever, I would not call it a crowd. But given the high cost of public transport, it is lucky they got the number. They should get a better crowd on a weekday lunch time when the office workers are around. But the midday heat may be too much heat for the speakers and spectators. This is a first for a civil group to stage a mini rally in a public place and the first for them to do so without needing a police permit. It is also a first for the main media to give them a bit of publicity with a generous photo showing a speaker and 10 spectators. Everything starts with a small step.

You want medals?

You want medals, we give you medals. This is more or less what our Paralympians were saying to Singapore. First Laurentia Tan gave us two bronze medals. Now Yin Pin Xiu gave us a silver medal and a world record. So did Theresa Goh with another world record of her own. Yin Pin Xiu is lined up to deliver a gold. The irony of life comes in the most unexpected places. When Singapore was hungry for an Olympic medal and willingly splurged on its sportsmen and women in the tune of a $32 mil annual budget, the medal harvest came where the expectation was low. With only a budget of $3.2 mil, a fraction of the main budget of the Singapore Sports Council, the Singapore Disability Sports Council is bringing home 3 medals and maybe another gold in the waiting. This may be the secret of our success. No need to pay so much for a medal. We can find our sporting heroes and heroines in the fields of the disadvantaged.


Road to a better transport system

Without fail, whenever there is a fare hike, the message is always about an improvement in the service and quality of the transport system. If every time it becomes better, we would have been better by 10 or 20 times over the years. This time the good thing is that the message is only about a better transport system and not about a world class transport system. What's the difference? A better transport system means you have to pay a bit better to get the better system. A world class transport system means you would have to pay world class fare. I hope it will be kept that way. A better system should be good enough. Hong Lim Park should be busy this evening with The Online Citizen making an appearance to talk about our transport system. I hope they will do a comparison of the quality and service of the transport system 20 years ago and what it is now and look at the difference in the fare over the same period. Are the increases in fare deserving of the improvement in service and quality? Another area they may want to look into is the land and infrastructure cost of the train system. How much land were given to SMRT and at what cost, and how much were invested in the infrastructure? And were these returned to the state or people or did they just become the asset of the current shareholders? The issue of public transport as a national service and not just a private business to generate profit to shareholders must be the key issue to be thrashed out. Why should an essential service that can cripple the whole economy be privatised just for profit? Or would it be better to operate under a different premise, to facilitate freer and cheaper movement of people which will benefit the whole economy? Should the system be returned to the state as a statutory board and the bull concept that only privatisation can make it more efficient and effective be dismissed? Would the activities at Hong Lim Park resulted in more revelations of what our transport system is all about or would it be another roadside selling 'koyote' session?


Laurentia Tan got us two medals

Paralympics: Singapore's Laurentia Tan wins second Equestrian bronze By Ryan Huang, Channel NewsAsia Posted: 11 September 2008 2116 hrs HONG KONG: Singapore's Laurentia Tan has won a second bronze medal in an Equestrian event on Thursday, giving the country its second medal at the 2008 Beijing Paralympic Games. Overcoming the odds in the Individual Freestyle Grade 1A event in Hong Kong, Tan performed to music, despite being born with profound deafness. Tan also has cerebral palsy. She made history on Tuesday by becoming the nation's first and currently only paralympic medallist. - CNA /ls Now I am wondering who sponsored her training and how much did it cost to get us the two medals. It may be the Paralympics, but still an international event. Should put more money to train our Paralympians. Chances of medals are better.

Robbing Peter to pay Paul

Bus and train fares up on 1 October Posted: 12 September 2008 1032 hrs in CNA online SINGAPORE - Most bus and train journeys except those for children, students and national servicemen, will see fare changes from 1 October 2008. The Public Transport Council (PTC) has given the green light for an overall net fare adjustment that will result in fare changes that will range from a 7-cent reduction to a 4-cent increase per journey. Adult EZ-Link fares on buses and trains and the senior citizen concession EZ-Link fare, will see a flat increase of 4 cents per ride. However, this will be offset by the 15-cent increase in transfer rebate from the current 25 cents to 40 cents. Public transport operators have also decided that they will bear 10 cents out of the 15-cent increase in the transfer rebate. ... Anyone did not see this coming? Anyway the amounts are small and affordable. And please just accept the increases and don't ever complain. We would not want the suggestion to raise road tax for motorists to subsidise these increases do we? It is a good and useful suggestion no doubt and the input comes from the people. More acceptable to implement such a suggestion.

TOC - A false start

Sep 11, 2008 The Straits Times Transport suggestions put forth By Maria Almenoar and Yeo Ghim Lay IF THE Transport Ministry were run by the people behind the socio-political blog The Online Citizen (TOC), car owners would be one unhappy lot. The band of 15 say that, instead of giving road tax rebates to motorists, the Government should up the tax - and use the revenue to subsidise public transport.... This is the gist of what TOC's stand is all about in its maiden public forum at the Hong Lim Park. I call it a false start simply because the high cost of public transportation is mainly due to the high profit the transport companies are making. They do not need to rip the motorists of more money to subsidise public transport. What is needed is to repriortise the mission of public transportation and change the profit motive to providing an efficient and cheaper public transport system. TOC's call to make the motorists pay even more is unnecessary.

Can professionals get their terms right?

Goh Eng Yeow from ST reported that David Loh and Han Eng Juan were 'executive directors of UOB Kay Hian. The heading of his article screamed, ' 'Dream Team' remisiers fined by MAS. Anyone reading the headline will quickly form the impression that remisiers got fined. And remisiers are always in trouble with their practices and in trouble with the law. Some times back there was another director that was sent to IMH. He too was called a 'remisier.' According to my professional knowledge of this industry, remisiers are independent sub contractors working in broking houses. They are never directors of broking houses. Directors of broking houses, eg executive directors, are normally company employees. They are not remisiers. I stand corrected if some broking houses actually give titles like directors or executive directors to their remisiers. Can professionals get this simple terminology and distinction right? Would the Remisier Society correct this impression that remisiers are not always infringing the laws and got fined?


The Otak Stall is closed

The Otak Stall is a new site in Delphiforum set up by Otak69 after Sammboy Coffeeshop was disbanded. It has been in existence for a few weeks and has to be closed down due to mysterious circumstances. This is what Otak69 posted in Singapore Kopitiam on his reasons to close it down. 'I've received a threat, possibly from ISD (or an impersonator), to face a lawsuit unless I close this forum before 2359 tonight. The person claims to know my I.P. address and had correctly named my ISP host, amongst many other details. I hope fellow bros will understand that this is a tough call for me to make to close this forum prematurely even though I do wish I didnt have to. I will risk facing a lawsuit if his claim is true. Bros may proceed to the other ficklebug's forum. Do get organised there ASAP. Otherwise, you can be sure that the same fellas will be trying very hard to disrupt your efforts there. I wish you all best of luck. http://forums.delphiforums.com/3in1kopitiam/ Note : I've made up my mind to kill off this nick, otak69. It will perish with the closure of this forum. It will never arise again and all subsequent iterations of this nick are clones. Do not respond to them or be lead by them if they try to impersonate me. I had a lot of fun with you fellas. Will miss you. otak69, signing off from The Otak Stall. 10/9/08' There have been many accusations and cross accusations by the forumers in The Otak Stall on their backgrounds and who they really are behind the nicks. We don't really know what is the truth and the details of any conspiracy if any. What is important for all bloggers is to use the internet as a tool for communications and stay away from crimes or dubious activities. We stand by what we post.

Too much money!

This should be the title of the next movie for Jack Neo. The concept of Money Not Enough is over used. He should talk about people with too much money, when they do not know where the money is coming from and what to do with the money, and still crazily asking for more money. My definition of Too Much Money is one month's income that is more than enough for one years expenditure. But it should exclude purchases like bungalows, yachts, exotic wild parties etc. To include such big ticket items, then there is not limit. You can buy a bungalow or ten bungalows everyday. Having dinners every night in a restaurant for the whole family are normal for people with too much money, but acceptable. People with too much money should be able to spend without batting an eyelid on the best food and best quality daily needs. The moral of the movie shall be how crazy and greedy people are when they fall into the category of Too Much Money and still asking for more money. And another plot should be on how those with Too Much Money are turning to doing more meaning things to better the world and other people's life instead of chasing for more money.

How to tell your own tooth

How to tell your own tooth with the backing of statistics? Piece of cake. I saw this chart on sales of private homes in My Paper today. The heading of the article is 'More HDB owners upgrading'. Reading from the chart, it quoted a 'DTZ's analysis of caveats captured by URA's Realis system,' and said, 'The number of private homes bought by those with HDB addresses also increased 35% quarter on quarter to 1,199, outpacing 3% increase over the same period in the number of private homes picked up by those with private properties.' Now comes the interesting part. Comparing the 1Q08 to 2Q08, the numbers were 888 and 1,199. So we see a 35% increase. But if you compare 2Q07 and 2Q08, also quarter on quarter, the numbers were 2,982 and 1,199. This is a fall of more than 50%. If one just read the heading, it gives the impression that more HDB owners are upgrading. Which is true if one is comparing 2Q08 with 1Q08. A rosy picture. But when comparing 2Q08 against 2Q07, it is like a recession is coming. And looking at the bigger picture, total purchases of private homes in 2Q07 is 13,513, 3Q07 is 9,441, 4Q07 is 5,,069. Then look at 1Q08 at 3148 and 2Q08 at 3,518, we are seeing a shrinking private housing market, from a peak of 13,513 to 3,518. Depending on how one uses statistics, it can tell all kinds of stories.

Statistically speaking

The Americans spent 16% of their GDP on healthcare. The Japanese 9%. So statistically speaking, we should spend more on our healthcare. The numbers must be right. Don't compare the lifestyle of the Americans and the chunks of meat, alcohol and tobacco they are consuming. Don't worry about their income level and the carbon monoxide they are breathing in from their 6000cc limousines running on the road. We need to spend more as others are also spending more. Singaporeans should spend $15 out of $100 on healthcare. This is reasonable. For the poor buggers and the losers, who have to spend every single cent of their income every month, $7 out of $100 go to GST. This would mean that for every $100 they earned, $22 must be set aside just for these two items. How much must go to public transportation? Well. this is a first world country. Nothing is for free. And we give good quality. Our medical care is world class. And this is the cheapest we can go. And don't expect our world class hospitals to provide less than world class services and healthcare. For that type of services and quality, please go to neighbouring non first world countries. They are definitely cheaper. And patients are asking for titanium inplants instead of cheaper steel products. That is the quality of our patients and their ability to pay. So medical care must surely cost more.


Let it be other people's problem

See, I don't live in Serangoon Garden. Should I just support the plan and let the foreign workers be housed in that school and the problems stay there? This island is just too small and running out of space. Not there must be somewhere else. Maybe they will house them next to my estate. Ok, I support the location of the foreign workers in Serangoon Garden. Another way of solving the problems of foreign workers is to engage them. Embrace them as your long lost brothers. Organise welcoming parties for them. Invite them to have dinner with your family. Recruit them to patrol and guard the estate. The problem becomes the solution. The people the residents fear become the people to help the residents. What an ingenious strategy. Turning adversity into an advantage. PS. Don't pray pray with unknown elements. My mother told me not to talk to strangers. Old mother's tale.

The heat is on

As the Ahmad Ismail controversy continues to boil, the dividing line becomes clearer and partisan politics is gaining ground. The pro Ahmad Ismail camp is digging in as the other side pushes the govt to take action against him. The frightening picture of May 13 is flashing across many people's mind. Could this be the excuse to thwart Anwar's effort to become the next PM? The Armed Forces Chief, Abdul Aziz Zainal has spoken and calling the Malaysian govt to take stern actions against those stoking racial sentiments. The Police Chief, Ismail Omar, said his men are ready to keep things under control. When the two uniform chiefs are showing concern, things are looking dangerous. Some opportunists may seize this as an opportunity to start a fire. Will Malaysia burn again?

No voice in cyberspace

This is just unbelieveable. The govt has no voice in cyberspace! And cyberspace is now being dominated by the pro opposition voice, the critics, the angry, the cynical and the unhappy. This is surely not looking pretty and very precarious. The govt used to have all the official media to communicate with the people, telling the people whatever their stories, in whatever ways it wants, from whichever angles. And no one can talk back. If there are any token voices from the people, they are likely to be carefully selected for printing in the media forum pages. Now the old media is helpless in singing the songs of the day. Many are not listening and even very critical, dissecting every bit into pieces. Only the converts still read the old media. The troublesomes have sought solace in cyberspace. And that is where they speak out in unison. A different song, a different tune, a different melody, a different sound. What is happening, the govt has no voice in cyberspace? What to do? Can the govt afford not to engage netizens and allow cyberspace to be the forsaken space, no control and no defence? Isn't this an interesting development? A control freak govt having no say in an area that is expanding and growing in importance?

Myth 189 - The Foreign Talent Myth

Myth We have seen Merrill Lynch, UBS, City Banks, Barclay Banks, Bank of Scotland and what else, all needing to be rescued. Then came Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. Today we heard that Lehman Brothers, another giant investment house in deep trouble. I believe, not a difficult think to do, that all these banks and financial institutions are run by the best talents the US and Europe have. And they all ran their companies into deep shit. So much talks about foreign talents. Count ourselves lucky that we did not engage the top talents of these organisations and pay them hundreds of millions to run our financial institutions. We would have been broken by them. It is lucky that we only managed to get the 3rd or 4th rate talents. Now, when all these talents loses their jobs, will we queue up to invite them here with handsome pay package as our best foreign talents, just like we went for fire sales for UBS, Merrill Lynch etc etc? These talents must be up for grabs at a discount.


Increase fare for better services

Did I hear silly Singaporeans saying that they don't mind fare increases if the service is better? How many years of fare increases have we been through? Ten times, twenty times? Has the service improved by ten times or twenty times? If this kind of justification is true, we will be riding on golden trains with hostesses serving drinks by now, or akan datang. We have been seeing increases in fares, in fees, in minister salaries, should we be seeing increases in the quality of services and productivity from them. Do we see the improvements commensurate with the increases? Silly Singaporeans should stop using this excuse to let service providers keep increasing fares and fees. The quality of services are not determined by the amount of increases. There is no direct relationship except to buy hardwares. You can pay more and get 'worstest' services.

Time to stand up, time to speak up

Who says that Singaporeans are compliant sheep? We have seen the spontaneous uprising against the abuses in the old NKF saga. Now we are seeing another mass action against a potential govt decision that will adversely affect the people. Yes the sheep have spoken. They have rounded themselves to take a stand. They did not want to be pushed around. The more significant of this petition is that it is not against an individual but against the authority. They are saying no to the authority. In other countries, this is chicken feed. In paradise, this is a kind of uprising. And you can see that the people are not going to take no for an answer. They are up in arms. Would the govt bulldoze its way through or would the govt back off and announce that it was only at the discussion stage? No decision has been taken and the workers will be sited elsewhere that are more suitable?

Different interpretation of Serangoon Garden Incident

There have been different reactions to the Serangoon Garden petition with some calling them snobs while some raising the flag of racism. I see this rather as a case of social misfits where hardworking people, having worked for a better lifestyle and seeing what they have worked so hard for being threatened. Do we find this disgusting? Do we believe that people should work to improve their lives, their environment, and choose to live in an environment they are comfortable with? Do we want people to level up or to level down, accept the degradation of an environment that they have built all these years? Are we being fair to just look at the interest of the foreign workers at the expense of the residents who have been there first? Are they selfish? I will say no. They are just decent human beings who want to live life decently. And if you raise your lifestyle to their level, you will surely be welcomed. No one who wants a better quality of life will want to live in the ghettos or the slums. And it is normal for them to protest when people want to bring the slum to their doorstep. This is a microcosm of what Singapore is all about. We have move up to the first world in terms of quality of living and infrastructure. Do we want to level down? The influx of millions of poor workers into this first world city will definitely bring with it the graffiti culture along. Do we want that kind of environment or choose to be in a first world environment, F1 racing, fine dining, culture and concerts. Yes, snobbish appeals and past times. What do we want? Return to the third world? Racism is definitely not an issue. It is social class. A mismatch of social class and a clash of social lifestyles and habits.


Foreign talents feel slighted

Foreign talents should not feel slighted by the recent debate. Singaporeans are not xenophobic. Real foreign talents are welcomed and if they are, they should know this. It is the non talents, the pretenders and the conmen that are not wanted. And the foreign workers are also welcomed up to a point, up to a level when they start to squeeze the locals for space and facilities. That point has reached in Serangoon Garden. I have read in the media that PRs called this place their home as well. Well in a way. They are permanent residents. But this is only their temporary or secondary home. It is never the same compare to a citizen. The citizens are here for good while the PRs are here when the weather is fair.

Ferrari no match for Mercedes

A Ferrari Spyder was chased by a Mercedes C Class and went out of control, crashed. Driver robbed and beaten up in daylight robbery in the NS highway. Talking about lawlessness. And the robbers attempted twice to rob the group of Ferrari convoy and only third time lucky on the single Ferrari. Funny, didn't these rich drivers own any handphones to pass the message to all the drivers in the convoy? Or they panicked and did not know what to do? What they were only too concerned for their own safety and the safety of the rest of the drivers was not their concern? As a warning to all Singaporeans driving up, the robbers are not only more daring, they are able to do whatever they want, like the wild wild west. These robbers are obviously targetting Singaporeans and waiting for them. And there must be many of them operating in such manners. And they could get out of the highway so easily. That speaks a lot about the intricate organisation of these robbers. Some kind of immunity definitely.

Sizzling debate

The presence of foreign workers and the concerns of the people have been brewing for many years. Now it has come to a head and a sizzling debate is going on. As the number grows, as empty space near rubbish dumps and cemetries got used up, they will be moved closer to the residents. It has to be. The hardlanders are less vocal when their private space were encroached. Anyway they are seen as nothing much better than these foreign workers and their lifestyles should melt into each others quite easily. They might not look too different either. Now the encroachment is getting a bit too near for comfort for the more well off segment of our people. And they are not going to take this sitting down. But can we do away with them? They have become integral to the well being of our economy. They may be here to stay for good, helping us. One solution is to increase the dosage. Bring in more, another 3 million foreign workers will do the trick. That will dump the Singaporeans into a minority and drown their voices. And we can develop a bigger infrastructure to take care of the existence of this group of people. We can designate a Dep PM to look after the 4 or 5 million foreign workers, a Minister in charge of their welfare, another for their housing, another Manpower Minister to look after jobs for them. And more MPs to be elected from the foreign workers to represent them. This will also help to bring our population to the optimum level of 7 to 8 million. Then no need to bring in any more. And our economy will then be sustainable, self sufficiency, and we can all live happily ever after. Another option to dilute the great divide between them and us is to offer Singapore citizenship to all foreign workers. That will make them one of us. No more distinction and cannot call them foreigners anymore. All problems solved. And we can revive the great HDB building programmes and all properties will increase in value too. Both are great solutions that are worthy of serious considerations.


The numbers are numbing

A recent indication of the scope of the dilemma was the rising number of Singaporeans who asked for a document needed to apply for permanent residency overseas. It has exceeded 1,000 a month to reach 12,707 last year from 4,996 in 1998, or a rise of 170% over 10 years, said Home Affairs Minister Wong Kan Seng. These people, over the age of 16, could be leaving for good, but they also included students and businessmen, who may eventually return. In 10 years, they totalled 97,990 Singaporeans (a far greater number if children were included).... By Seah Chiang Nee in the Star online News on Sep 06. These numbers are worrying to some but not to everyone. The more they leave, the more we replaced them with new citizens. What is the problem? Our intake is so big that we have a net gain. Good riddance. This a statement of truth. Singapore is just a social political construct. The citizens are just people given a piece of paper. If all the Singaporeans leaves Singapore, they can be easily replaced by more new Singaporeans. It is a non issue. So no need to cry over spilled milk. And for those who have been saying, if you are not happy here, please leave. I must admit that they have a point. I can read the message clearly. This is the Singapore that I have created. And this is the way it is. You like it, good. If you don't like it, also good. Just go.

Senoko Power sold

Senoko Power is sold to a Japanese consortium. 2 out of 3 power stations have been sold. One more to go. Will we also see the water treatment plants be sold? If that be the case, electricity and water bills will be generated by private companies. And when they raise prices, it will be a commercial decision. These are private organisations are there to provide a service and to make money for their shareholders, just like SMRT and Singapore Bus and privatised hospitals and HDB. One thing that the people can expect is better quality of service and higher efficiency. Good for the people, good for the economy.

Hey you're mad. No, you are.

Would such a statement be sufficient ground to suspect that someone is mad? Would someone heard cursing and swearing at a religious ceremony in the neighbourhood be arrested for disturbance? The law of a state is to protect the people from being harmed. If someone beats you, you are to take up a lawsuit yourself against that person. It is a private matter. If someone disturbs a wedding procession, is it a private matter? How serious would a disturbance be good enough for one to be arrested and sent to psychiatric checkup to determine his sanity? And if the psychiatrists could not find anything after two or three weeks, can the psychiatrists demand that one shall continue to be detained for further observation? How long would such observations become unacceptable? Shall I warn all those bloggers calling people stupid, mad, irrational, fools etc not to do so for their own good? Will such libellious remarks be a problem between the parties involved or can one party insist the other party be sent for psychiatric observation? Freedom of expression or anonymity in the internet has led some bloggers to go shooting from their hips. Some even fabricate stories and half truths. Would they end up under the microscope of the psychiatrists? Oh, the heading of this post is just an illustration only. I am not calling anyone mad.


Matilah Singapura is Alive!

I have to repost this thread here as the original thread is too far deep down and many will miss it. This thread is posted by Matilah in the earlier thread which I started, 'Matilah, wanted, dead or alive.' Nice to know that you are still kicking, chum. From Matilah Singapura. My dear fans, and redbean,Let me begin by thanking everyone for their concern.I hope that I am wanted more ALIVE than I am dead, but then again I have no control over such things as 'other people's opinions' :)Unlike Gopalan Nair, I don't tease the state of S'pore, and challenge them to come after me...so to one anonymous poster...sorry to disappoint. I quit Thailand 2 months ago--at least for the foreseeable future. The political situation is not good and staying there, IMO, is exposing myself to unnecessary risk on several fronts. Frankly speaking the novelty of Soi Cowboy gets old quickly when your office is a mere 7 minute walk away.S'pore is also out of the question--I stopped by for a week or so to recce and decided 'no go'. It's way too expensive (i.e. factors of production), and my margins would be too lean to make it worth my while. On the upside, returns from rentals are the best they've been for years...so the best position to be in is a landlord and to be elsewhere. I am back in Aust, settling into a new home and getting started on projects which I hope will bear fruit. Aust is still very strong economically depite the naysayers. The average weekly wage is now over AUD1k and the spirit of 'can do' private enterprise is the best it has ever been. I have therefore decided to hang-out here for awhile. It is truly a wonderful place, especially now that the weather is warming up!So that's basically an update of my ordinary life. I've posted a bit on Singabloodypore, but my internet time is essentially restricted to an hour or two a day now as my time is taken up with more "social" activites—interacting with real people in the real world. The only reason I stopped by to post this was I did a Goggle on 'Matilah Singapura' and redbean's post was at the first listing. Such is the efficacy of the web!SE Asian politics are, for the most part, a part of my past. It saddens me to some degree that my social, political and mostly my economic predictions (all derived form natural laws and understanding of 'spontaneous orders', like 'markets' and the nature of collectivism) have come true, and Singapore proves itself more and more to be on a path of decay—on many fronts. My ego doesn't require 'stroking'--to be honest, I hope to be wrong.Unfortunately I do make part of my living from using methods to 'manipulate' human conciousness. I'm not the only one who knows how to do this, but I do understand how EASY it is once you know how. I also know that governments use these tools to manipulate their voters, such that the average person lives in a world of MYTHS. As if this wasn't bad enough—the surprising thing is how readily the avergae person will DEFEND these myths from any form of critical analysis or criticism. That is how effective states can be—the people don't 'govern' themselves, they IMPRISON themselves. Anyway, I wish all of you well, and hope you find the truths you are seeking on your own terms. Redbean, it's good to know that you're still blogging furiously. Well done. Warmest regards MS

The AIMS Paper

My general impression of the AIMS Paper is that it is a very comprehensive report on the existing status of internet activities and where to go from here. AIMS stands out as a fairly neutral body and its recommendations were free from the encumbrance that one would normally expect from a govt agency. The only area that it could not help to detach itself from is the need to control and manage political discussions of the people in general and the political parties in particular. The need to control and manage is entrenched in any govt in power. It is in their interest to ban or block any criticisms or comments that challenges their position and power. This assumption that it is normal for the govt to control and manage opposition and criticisms has moderated AIMS recommendation on Section 33 of the Films Act. Section 33 is simply a provision that favours the govt in power. Period. The other recommendations on the protection of minors, crimes, pornography, sedition etc should not see any objections and rightly so, and the Bloggers 13 have left them untouched. The recommendations to remove all the obstacles placed on netizens are welcomed. This can only come about with a positive assumption that netizens are responsible and decent people and can be trusted with the freedom of expression. Maybe AIMS should try to address the issue of a level playing field whereby the power to control and to dictate to the opposition be removed and all parties operate under the same set of rules. Would this be asking too much from the realities of politics? But liberalization of the internet must bring about a freer and fairer environment for all parties if criticisms and cynicisms are to be avoided. Transparency, fairness, soundness of policies will be demanded and anything less will only be ridiculed openly. It demands a higher level of sophistication and consistency in policy making. To liberalise involves big changes in many areas, including how the political games should be played and how the govt conducts itself and its relations with the people. AIMS has recognized that this is a process in its infancy and incremental changes is a better way to go, to learn and change along the way. The govt will have a tough time deciding on how much to let go on political activities, outside and during an election campaign period. A lot of resources and manpower will be needed to engage the netizens, including setting up of many support organizations. A lot of jobs will also be created, maybe even a ministry in charge of cyberspace and netizens be appointed. It is a new constituency. The boldest part of the recommendation is the recognition and acknowledgement that the internet is the future, uncontrollable and unstoppable. The govt is strongly encouraged to step bravely into the future, engage the people, be less uptight, and be less abrasive, be prepared to share the political space with the opposition and people who don't agree with them. This is a tall order. It is a great departure from the obsessive need to control, like pronouncing cycling in the park as dangerous to social security, even harassing young students, that makes the govt looks clumsy and ridiculous. The other positive assumption is that netizens are not the illiterate Ah Pek and Ah Ma, and many are thinking people that can see things as they really are and can contribute to the general goodness of country and society, that is, if they are embraced as part of the whole decision making process, even in a small way like e-engagement. AIMS has invited the govt to take a path into the future that is full of uncertainties but also full of promises and opportunities, to tranform our way of life and how we communicate, a freer and all inclusive society where the divisive line between the people and govt is blurred for the better of everyone. Will the govt bite?


YOG - Whole NATION must be involved

The CEO of the Singapore YOG committee, Goh Kee Nguan, is calling the whole Nation to be involved in the Youth Olympic Games. Wait a moment. If Singaporeans do not know what is a Singaporean, do they know what is the meaning of a Nation? Does the Nation includes citizens, PRs and all the foreign talents and workers working here? Who will be involved? If we are thinking of an all inclusive society, shall we include everyone here, citizens or non citizens, every residents? We have taken for granted the meaning of Singaporeans and it now loosely even include PRs and residents. Even Singaporeans do not know the meaning of being a Singaporean. I am sure the word 'Nation' will stump everyone here. We shall rise as a Nation. Sounds quite hollow and empty isn't it? Are we a nation? After 43 years of nation building...

As we grow older...

As the population grows older and less nimble with age, many things becomes frightening. The old, ing experience for them to walk alone in the presence of young and strong foreign workers and their wild stares. You do not know what is going on inside their heads. We are growing older for sure. And we have a few hundred strong and hungry young men in our midst. It is a great recipe for more tension and crimes if we are not careful. We must find a way to deal with this dilemma. We want them or need them, but we fear them. For they can create a lot of potential problems for us. Singaporeans must not be complacent in their thoughts. We are going to become a minority in a sea of foreigners and security and safety will become a bigger issue to face on a daily basis. It is not just 1000 foreign workers in Serangoon Garden. The clusters living next door or a few doors away, or in the nearby construction sites can be equally dangerous.

What's the fuss?

I did not really follow the on goings on what Aims were trying to do, to regulate the internet, when the govt is talking about liberalisation. What Aims is trying to do and what the govt is trying to do appear to be contradictory. One argument is that you need rules before you can run free. Quite true. But rules are aplenty and is all we got. We have rules and laws against sedition, scandals, libels, pornography, false or misleading information and also the mother of all laws, ISA. What more do we need? The only area that is really troubling the authority is political openess. How much can one say against a political party, in this case the ruling party. The simple line to be drawn, or has always been there, is truth and facts. If you are telling the truth, then why fear the truth, why ban the truth? Admittedly, two persons' truth may disagree, my truth against your tooth. Often such things will be a matter of interpretation or opinion. But the truth must be the truth and not the tooth. So what is the big fuss? We should know better. My position thus, is still the same. There are already enough rules and laws to regulate the internet. And everyone is responsible for his postings and can be hauled up by the law or another party to answer for his rambling. A little fine tuning of the current laws may be necessary to take into account this new technology, terminology and how it works. What the blogging community should worry about is how the laws are to be applied and whether they are fair and just. Then again, how to be fair and just when what is fair is in the eyes of the beholder or the one holding the big stick? Can the opposition party organise a cycling event? Oh yes. But would it get a permit to go ahead?