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12/31/2007

It happened! Two infants bitten to death.

Rottweilers attacked and killed two infants. One was snatched from the arms of a 7 year old child. Luckily the victims were the owners children. Luckily it did not happen here but in UK and Australia. I could not feel anything when people chose to live dangerously and paid for it themselves. But let it not happen to any innocent passerbys or neighbours. Our society has no place for killer dogs unless they are kept indoors or in cages. There is no need to risk innocent lives and inflicted pains to others just for the amusement of a few.

The years ahead

The front page of Mypaper, the Chinese version, splashed a headling about the exciting future. It talked about the Singapore Flyer, F1, Orchard Central and even KPE as the great things that Singaporeans can look forward to. I wonder how many Singaporeans could afford these great stuff. Oh, it forgot about the IRs coming on stream. What I think Singaporeans can look forward to is high salaries. Starting from the cleaners in the hawker stalls, they can easily look at $3000 pm in 2015. And the taxi drivers can look at $10000 pm. Officer workers, the clerical staff and assistance should be happy with $5000. Managerial grade should be about $50000 pm. Don't worry about the ministers and top civil servants, $1m a month should not be a problem. Cost of living would be up a little. A plate of chicken rice may be $15. A taxi ride may be $100. MRT or buses may start at $5 minimum. Just a few years back the worry was driving up business costs. Salaries and rentals were kept down, including all kinds of commissions and fees. That looked like a wrong concept. Now we should be aiming for the sky. All costs can go up. No problem. We are the best and we need to be paid the best, including our cleaners and sweepers and taxi drivers. It is an exciting future to look forward to.

12/30/2007

A simple new year wish

How I wish that the transport policies will encourage social and extended family activities among Singaporeans and residents. We need policies that will promote Singaporeans socialising, visiting parents, relatives and friends without having to pay to do these leisure and human things. The policies of parking at home, in HDB estates and private estates must be reviewed. Stop drawing more white lines, yellow lines and all kinds of lines to make people pay more while making social visits. The current policies is saying, hide in your own little space and don't move. You move you pay. You better not go and see your parents or friends. Visiting is discourage. But if we don't charge for parking all the carparks will be overparked. No one will want to leave. True. Why do we need to cram so many people in this little piece of rock?

An illusion or a deception

The biggest worry of the lesser well off Singaporeans is the rapidly rising cost of living. Whatever income that they have will quickly be eroded away. It makes a mockery of thrift and savings. All the savings are not savings in real terms. It is like putting aside good money, good present day value, to become banana money in the future. Singaporeans savings in the CPF have been held back for what, another 1% interest rate! Why would people want to look forward to another 1% when inflation is going to eat away more than double that amount? Does it make sense to earn a 4% interest over 20 or 30 years when in the same period the depreciation of the value of money could mean that they may become practically worthless? And better still, the additional 1% or 4% is not even guaranteed. Oh, there is hope that it could be more than 4%. If that be the case, you can be assured that inflation will double that. A sure lose option. Why are we believing in illusion? Or why are we made to compulsorily believe in an elusive dream of a better tomorrow?

Instant population! What does it mean?

We will be adding another 15,000 new citizens to our population by the time 2007 is over. And there is also another 40,000 or so PRs. This is on top of the average annual growth of about 30,000. With the 30,000 coming of age each year and the new residents, the demand for property is not going to slow down or decline. Singaporeans needing a flat or a roof, better get them fast. The demand is incessant. The locals, the real Singaporeans, may be not be able to afford the unstoppable price hike if their salaries do not experienced the 21% increment. But for the new citizens and residents, only those who are able will come. They will sustain the continuous hike in property prices by adding into the demand pressure. The price hike is not going to stop the flow. At every higher price, there will be new takers. Singaporeans, especially those that are struggling to make ends meet, just too bad. No amount of charity or handouts can keep pace with the whopping increases in property pices. If they can't, they can't, and would eventually have to squeeze as many as they can into their 2 or 3 room flats. The alternative is HDB rental flats if they can qualify. The message is shape up or lose out. There is no room for failures and laggards or irresponsibly producing as many poorly educated children as possible. They will be damned. They will be the new breed of struggling poor at the bottom of a society that is running ahead at full steam. They can never hope to catch up.

12/29/2007

2007 - A great year of give and take

All the news in 2007 is simply great. It can best be described as a year of give and take. The govt and corporations are the generous givers and the people and employees are the happy takers. The employed see their salaries and income rising in leaps and bounds. The unemployed also benefitted from the giveaways by the govt. It is a happy story. And even as prices keep spiralling up, housing, cars, food, services and cost of living, no sweat, as long as money keeps coming in. Cost of living up, salary and income up, everything still affordable. What happens when the music stops? For the lucky few where the income will continue to flow in regardless of come what may, nothing will change. For those takers whose income or handouts will stop as a matter of time, then what? As the balloon gets pumped bigger and bigger, more air needs to go in to keep it afloat. Without air, it will deflate. But it will also burst with too much air. We have seen 1997. It was the same old story. Everyone was hilarious and delirious. Maybe 2007 and beyond will be a new miracle. The bubble will not burst. Income and salary increases will be the natural order of the day. Singaporeans have tapped into a nature's oil well that will not go dry. What a wonderful year.

12/28/2007

Celebrating Singaporeans - Dr Seet Ai Mee

I should have added Dr Seet Ai Mee in this celebration. She is the force that is the deciding factor for Dover Park Hospice to dissociate from the Medifund. If people want to be kind, compassionate and generous, it is very easy to do so. It is time to use the heart and not the head. To put people under more stress and to dehumanise people just to receive a few dollars of help is mean. We cannot treat the downtrodden this way. If one wants to help, just help, wants to give just give. It is very wicked to strip people naked to see if he still has a dollar stuck in between his butts. The money to charities and charitable homes are given out of human kindness. Given freely and to be received freely. Turn them into a machine, and we will become senseless machines.

Benazir Bhutto - Another martyr

What a sad day for humanity. Another daughter of human kind tasted the bullets and fell. What is happening to Pakistan? Why are men so trigger happy to take down another fellow human bean who is contesting to lead them? Are men that primitive and barbaric? Benazir paid for her belief with her life. She died a fighter. She knew that it could happen and she braved the danger. It was very costly and unnecessary. Brutes!!!

12/27/2007

Electricity Up!

Next month electricity rate will go up by 6%. Add another 7% for GST, hmmmm, still less than 6.5% in total. Not bad. What would it cost to the hardlanders? Between $1 to $10 more per month. Definitely affordable. Oh, according SP Services, the hike is 'pegged to a higher forward fuel oil price of $96.64 per barrel,' which means that it is charging higher first in anticipation of a higher oil price. Makes good business sense and definitely will improve the bottom line.

Celebrating Singaporeans - Noreen Chan and Dover Park Hospice

Noreen Chan and Dover Park Hospice The Hospice has withdrawn from the Medifund scheme. The reason as explained by Noreen is that the philosophy of Medifund is in conflict with the Hospice. Its practice 'has always been to subsidise needy patients from its coffers before they reach such dire straits,' said Noreen. The practice of Medifund is 'typically (have) to produce documentation to show that they and their familymemebrs have little or no money left in the Medisave and bank accounts.' This is when Medifund will cough out some subsidies. In practice, none of the Hospice patients have reached such desperation to benefit from the Fund. What really is the problem is that you must be really in deep shit and dying before you get a little help. I salute Noreen Chan and the Dover Park Hospice for taking the wise and humane decision to back out from such draconian conditions. Where is the compassion for the desperados?

When will the corporate wayang ends?

Minority shareholders are taking to task to sack 3 independent directors from a public listed company for 'not doing their jobs.' They claimed that the two top executives of the company were getting unduly high pays while the company is losing money. It implies that the directors should have curbed the excessive payouts to the top executives. Now they are calling for an EGM to remove the independent directors. It is time that the wayang of having independent directors that are seen as not protecting the interest of minority shareholders be stopped. And honest and respectable individuals who cannot do the job for whatever reasons must honourably step down from such appointments or not to accept them. The practice of collecting fees and not doing the due diligence is becoming cancerous.

12/26/2007

We have added Merrill Lynch

With UBS in the bag, we have bagged another biggie, Merrill Lynch. This round of financial crisis is much more than what Nick Leeson had done. We are seeing a spate of financial institutions crumbling down. And we helped to pick up the pieces. And so were other Sovereign Wealth Funds. These SWFs, once feared and hated, are now the white knights to the troubled banks and financial institutions. The world is changing. And so is the little Red Dot. We are in an enviable situation.

And Christmas is over

The last two days were great days of kindness and generosities. Gifts and offers of help were everywhere. Charitable homes have to turn down offers of help in some cases. Some even started to be selective and only want those who can render assistance on a longer term basis. Once a year kindness is appreciated but could not be of much help. Pope Benedict also commented on the selfishness of humankind and wished that they will be more unselfishness and share a little with the less fortunate. Like it or not, humankind will return to what they are. Time to work hard and earn a living, and be more selfish, now that Christmas is over.

12/25/2007

My Christmas wish

As I was day dreaming. And this is Christmas, a time for giving and charity, then I started to imagine what I would do if I am given a $1m increment for the rest of my life! Would it be too much or too generous for me to donate my first $1m increment to the unfortunate? Afterall I still stand to gain that extra $1m for a life time. And especially so when I may be doing nothing useful or productive. I am only dreaming of becoming a generous man with other people's money. Still more generous than taking other people's money and not giving a little away.

Need further proof?

Below is a post' by a 'Leongszehian' in Sammyboy that proves that there is no need for compulsory annuity scheme. After 31 Mar 2008, 1st 20k of CPF OA and 1st 20k of SA can no longer be invested Everyone should think about investing their CPF OA (unless need to pay for housing loan now) and SA, because Age 25 To 65 - 40k will grow to (3.5%) $ 158,370 (5%) $ 281,600 (6%) $ 411,429 (7%) $ 652,456 (8%) $ 970,935 A 25 year old Singaporean earning just $1,450 a month, $500 monthly CPF contribution (34.5% is current CPF contribution rate), with 60k in OA/SA/MS accounts, assuming $500 contribution never increase (no pay increase) , from age 25 to 65 - at 5% grow to 900k+, 6% grow to $1.2 million+ - So, why average CPF balance at age 55 is only 66k (median estimated to be only about 20k plus) ? Why leave money in your CPF for others to invest? The computation is up to 65 years. 85 years is another 20 years of interest. What about the minimum sum retained? What about the amount in the Medisave? All these will add up to make every Singaporean a millionaire at 85.

New definition for Singaporeans?

Flexible labour policy has helped Sporeans This is the heading of a letter by Jean Tan, Director, Corporate Communications of the Ministry of Manpower. Her letter talked about how foreigners have helped Singaporeans to be employed. 'Singaporeans have also been taking up better jobs - nine out of 10 jobs gained by residents from 1997 to 2007 were those of Professionals, Managers, Executives and Technicians(PMETs). Singaporeans and residents are now synonymous.

Wah lau, $5000 to produce legal papers

It is reported that 'the lawyers usually gets at least $5000 for doing the insurance paperwork.' Imagine handling 10 car accident claims a day, that is a cool $50k! No wonder the touting lawyers are willing to offer between $600 to $1000 for each case referred. Anything wrong? Why shouldn't lawyers be allowed to solicit for business? Aren't they also known as solicitors? Is soliciting such a bad word? What is needed is to make the business transparent and upfront, just like the way we curb corruption. Make all the fees transparent and allow the lawyers to solicit as often as they need, with all the terms and conditions set up. The law society can defined all the regulations they need to protect the profession.

And today is Christmas

A handsome couple appear on the frontpage of the Straits Times, happily smiling and holding the Book of Baptism Rite. At first I thought the man was Goh Keng Swee. The resemblance was remarkable. And the story goes, about a grateful couple finding God and were full of joy on the day of their baptism. They were born again. It is Christmas and Christ was born on Christmas Day. George Soh and his wife Anne are now born on Christmas Day. It is a beautiful story to be told on Christmas. I feel like converting as well. Few days back the ST reported profusedly on the EID, the sacrifice of goat by Ibrahim to Allah, or Abraham to God. And the Muslims were equally joyous and Minister Yaacob even reported that the sacrifice will be doubled. Few weeks back the Lord Ganesha's Temple had a celebration and pictures of all the pious devotees were flashed across the pages of the ST. Soon the Chinese New Year Celebration and then Vesak Day. CNY is non religious but Vesak Day will be more meaningful to the Buddhists. It will be a day of compassion and no killings or taking of lives. We can expect pictures of devotees in Kong Meng San or Waterloo Streets carrying joss sticks for their worships. Our responsible and enlightened press has been reporting such religious activities fairly and sensitively and it is a sign of how well we managed interfaith relations in a multi religious society. Cheers to all the believers and devotees.

12/24/2007

He took a bet

Goldman Sachs paid $100 million to its Chairman/CEO for turning in US$11.6b profits while competitors like Citigroup and Merrill Lynch suffered multi billion dollar losses. And he is duly rewarded. No doubt that he had done well. The enormous profit could be contributed by his decisions. But for the profit to be that huge is because the company was big. And he bet right. He could not make billions for the company if the company is small. What if he bet wrong and lost billions? At the most he will get a sack. But if the wrong was not too big, he still got to keep his job and pay. This is how the game of big corporation is being played. Bet big on other people's money. Win big and get big rewards. Lose big, just pack up and go. And often it could be a 50/50 chance of winning big. Is this kind of pay justifiable? It can be easily justified. It can also be easily flushed down the toilet hole.

12/23/2007

Top talents - got or no got?

Bio-tech Suffers another blow Britain’s Dolly-creator is latest of three scientists to leave. Reuters. Dec16, 2007 By Daryl Loo British scientist Alan Colman, who helped clone Dolly the sheep, is leaving Singapore, dealing another blow to the city-state's biotech ambitions. Stem cell scientist Colman, who had been lured to the city-state with grants and research facilities, now heads a Singapore consortium in stem cell research.... The latest move follows news in September that two other top British scientists, David and Birgitte Lane, will also leave next year, giving weight to the World Bank's criticism that Singapore's biotech drive was overly reliant on "footloose" scientists who could leave at short notice.... Lee Wei Ling, a paediatrician who heads the National Neuroscience Institute, said that it was an inevitable that foreign researchers "will go where there's money available" as more Western universities raise funding for biomedical research.... The above is an extract of a Reuter article I copied from www.littlespeck.com. The tooth is the tooth. Foreign talents are 'footloose' and will go where the money is, especially the top talents. But what can we expect. Even our local talents who are good enough will go where the money is. Only those that cannot get a good offer will remain here and tell you they are worth millions. I am waiting for a top Singaporeans to head an American or European bank or MNCs. We can't even find any local good enough to head DBS after Jackson. The best Singapore can hope for is 'borrowed time.' Have them here for a while and learn as much as we can. We cannot have a FT like Jackson Tai here for so many years and still learn nothing and needs another FT to replace him. Or the tooth is that we don't have real talents locally?

The peanut fix

We used to buy a pack of peanuts while drinking our Anchor or Tsingtao beer in the kopitiam. That was a great way to live, a lifestyle for those with a few dollars to spend in the night. With growing prosperity, the simple peanut is no longer satisfying. Not because it is not tasty anymore. It is not expensive enough to fit into a new lifestyle called Rich and Famous. Now we have expensive wine and caviar. People's appetite grows with time and affluence. The more they have the more they want and the more they spend. The most revealing quote of Singapore's history is that $600k is peanut. At $600k, the peanut is still being sneered at, simply because those people have too much money. It is now more difficult to get a new high with a $600k peanut. The peanut needs to be worth more than that. Yesterday a $1m peanut may give a good kick. Tomorrow may be $5m and later maybe $100m. It is all relative and all drug addicts know how the dosage needs to be increased to feel the same way. There is no way out in the life of a drug addict. The only way to return value to the humble peanut is to find users that are used to a $2 pack and 2 bottles of Tiger beer. Start it at first base, just like the initiation of a new drug addict. A small dosage will be more than enough to get him high. Though the cycle will be repeated and eventually the new addicts will still be craving for $10m, it is still a reprieve and cheaper that way. Not all drug addicts start with morphine. Many grew up in the back lanes of yesterday running around barefooted. And the first stage to satisfy their desires is always the unassuming peanuts. When they are at the morphine stage, it is too late. The end is near.

12/22/2007

Medal for model worker

I read about a post in Sammyboy of a bus driver 'arresting' a youth for cheating 20c. He stopped the bus, called for back up and the boy was taken away by the bus representative. All for 20c. This is the most honest, enthusiastic, dependable and conscientious bus driver that should be made into a model worker. Give him a medal on national day, make a bust of him and display it at Changi International Airport. Then write some stories about him and how he captured a commuter cheat singlehandedly and turn them in a Singapore legend. Cheating is a very serious offence. Bashing someone is not. A crime is a crime even if it is 20c. I think the bus driver is trying to make a statement on honesty and don't cheat the bus company's money

Time to feel generous and splurge

We all have a good year. Everything is looking so well, big pay rises and big bonuses. Time to give ourselves and our loved ones a treat. There is that expensive limited edition watch to pick up. Hmmm, a bit pricey but, what the heck! There is also the chocolate that costs $10 a bite, the abalone that may be even more chewy at $50 a chew. Ahh, the favourite bottle of red, $300, or $30 for a mouth wash. There are just too many good things in life that we should reward ourselves with for working so hard. And don't forget the little men and women sitting on the road sides or pedestrian mall. Spare them a couple of dollars as you pass by. Why am I feeling so guilty for doing that?

I don't feel safe in my neighbourhood anymore

This is what Tan Ting Ting said in her letter to the ST forum. Her neighbour was attacked after a late night party, bashed and robbed. She used to feel so pleased about the quiet and peaceful neighbourhood of Anchorage and Sengkang but these have turned into fear. Another woman was murdered at Holland Road and a Bangladeshi worker is being charged. Like I said, it is only the beginning. But thank god, statistically we are still looking very good. The crime numbers are still negligible. Then if you don't add people being assaulted as crime but personal and private problems between two people, then we can keep the numbers even lower. Fortunately or unfortunately the woman that was bashed was also robbed. Otherwise it would be another private matter for her to pursue with her lawyers. There must be regulations to limit and restrict the rental of HDB flats to foreign workers. Having a flat with 5 or more men, all hungry, burly and lonely is a recipe for trouble. Only the naive Singaporeans who have lived a life of peace and undisturbed existence will think that life will always be that way even with so many foreigners living next door. The day will come when the mothers, the wives and the daughters would not dare to walk alone in HDB void decks or corridors. That is the price to pay for our reckless disregard of social and environmental security. You only need one or two bad hats in a thousand to create pain and fear.

12/21/2007

How Singaporeans think

Actually Singaporeans don't think. Only the elite think. The hottest issue now is Minister's pay. Ministers and MPs are not employees but elected people's representatives in parliament. Their tenure of service is subject to the mandate of the people every 4 years. The concern previously is that these people may be tempted to corrupt if they are not paid well. So their salaries, wonder that is the right term, were raised to million dollars level. With that we have solved our problem of corruption at high places. Now the new thinking is that their salaries need to be raised further. For what? Corruption is out. The new reason is to attract more future capable people to join politics. They are paying the current batch to prove to the future leaders that this is what they can get if they go into politics. Before, we use money to buy honesty. Now we use money to buy honesty and talents. Whose thinking? Not the average Singaporeans on the street. It is elite think. They think for the average Singaporeans. And many average Singaporeans also think that this is right thinking. Nobody question what is enough, what is enough to buy honesty and what is enough to buy talents. Is $5m enough? Is $10m enough or $20m?

Can Ah Pek cope with the taxi surcharge system?

There are so many surcharges and additional fares to be added to the fare. Can our Ah Pek taxi drivers cope with such a complicated system? Can the Ah Mahs and elderly aunties and uncles know that they are paying the exact fare and not being fleeced? How to remember all these charges? Maybe we should raise the educational level of taxi drivers to at least a degree in mathematics or computer science. It is no joke trying to remember and calculate all these charges in a hurry. With the high income, taxi driving is now quite attractive. And if they can raise the fare a little bit more, I may consider driving taxi as well. With the new system, all the driver needs is to park his taxi in the car park and wait for calls. No need to drive around wasting expensive fuel. It is like ring a service. I think that should be the way to go for the taxi service.

When I'm 85

What it be like? At 85, probably my best friends will be Dementia and Amnesia. What would I be thinking of, or remember of? Very likely will be the fantasies of Hollywood. Yulp, the great movies of yesteryears like the Three Mouseketeers, all for one and one for all, Robin Hood, the one who rob the poor to help the rich, or Ali Baba and his 40 thieves or the Band of Robbers or Brothers. Can't really remember which is which. Then the great leaders of the past, Marcoos, Sueharto and Mahatail, all honoured in the Hall of Fame. But one good thing, I can live on my savings from the Compulsory Annuity Insurance. No need to work and keep collecting till I conk off, and all $350 a month. Ho, ho, ho, plenty of money to live by if not having to pay for first class hospitalisation bill. Now that would be a good life, in an old folks retirement village. Hope the villages will not be like some concentration camps.

12/20/2007

Do the right thing when assaulted

Singaporeans must learn from KM Ho, the communications manager, who was attacked by a drunk US sailor while parking his car. When attacked, do not defend yourself by hitting back. Run if you can, but never strike back. For not hitting back, the attacker got no grounds to counter sue you when you initiated legal actions against him. So you are quite assured of getting some compensation. In this case, the captain of the ship also called KM Ho to apologise and he was invited to tour the US naval ship as well as a reward. Not bad at all. And if you have some friends to write to the msm to blow up the case, even in the internet, will all help to keep the offending party on the defensive, especially big organisations.

I nominate Lawrence Lee Liang Wei

I nominate Lawrence Lee to sit in the Board of LTA. He wrote a letter to the ST forum supporting the taxi fares hike, like I do. He also agrees that we should not begrude taxi drivers the right to earn a good living. He quoted his LA trip which cost him US$105 for a 15 min trip and $22 in Hongkong for a 10 min trip. He also said that we should compare with comparable countries and not against third world countries or we will be biased. And looking at the responses in the media, most of the taxi users are not too perturbed by the recent hike. They are only angry because it does not improve the availability of taxis. So my proposal of a $10 flag down fare is still an excellent suggestion. With that they can do away with the call surcharge as this is nonsensical. Taxi drivers save petrol by parking somewhere waiting for calls and then collect extra charges. Just give them the $10 upfront and they will be scrambling for passengers.

12/19/2007

Corporate Governance hitting the headline

Today's frontpage article is on Corporate Governance. And I particularly like this quote from Morene Sim, executive director of Student's Care Service. 'We have a long history, so we have had the benefit of time to put in place best practices over all these years. This code just helps to achieve some degree of standardisation.' Yes we have a lot of time. Is this code of practice in the right place at the right time? How many places still sorely need this code of practice? Some may say the answer is quite obvious. There are many places where corporate governance is totally absence or pretend to be there.

Dr Surin calls the people to check their govts

The key issue in Asean in Vision 2020 is 'The disconnect between the state and citizens' according to Nazry Bahrawi. 'Asean must not remain aloof and disconnected from our people - our power base and our source of legitimacy...The people must demand that their governments and govt agencies be accountable for progress - and the lack of it - in their respective countries.' Said Dr Surin Pitsuwan, incoming Sec Gen of Asean. He should add that Asean countries need look no further. Just look at Singapore and use it as the role model of a high connect between the people and govt. Everything runs smoothly in Singapore and the people are fully behind the govt. Asean countries should send more missions and govt officials to study and learn from Singapore.

12/18/2007

Man needs God

Any organisation, system or country, there is a need for an independent body to act as checks and balances. Without the existence of such a body, it is foolhardy to expect man to check himself. Leaving man alone to his own device, his ego and arrogance will lead him to his own destruction. Without God, madness will triumph over all man. That is why they said 'the world will go round and round' or history will keep repeating itself.

A simple comparison of salaries

A 50 year old CEO with an annual income of $2m quits his job. His total income will be $2m plus perhaps another $2m for severance pay. $4m! A 50 year old Minister with a similar income quits, assuming he is entitled to a $1m pension and lives till 85, his total income will be $2m plus $1m x 35 years or $37m! And he stands to earn the additional $35m without having to lift a finger for the next 35 years. It could be more if he lives till 100 years, another $15m. I would want to apply to be a minister. I don't mind the cursing and swearing at me everywhere, I don't mind the sick jokes on me, I don't mind at all. It is a little sacrifice. It is ok. And I don't mind the hard work. I can still tell myself that I am working for the good of the people and country. Just pay me the millions. It is worth every cent.

12/17/2007

I am still scratching my head

The noises are getting louder. Expected. The people are angry. Sure. Some will threaten to vote for the opposition in the next GE. Expected. The question is why? Why would people, very smart and talented people, with all the money in the world to spend, not likely to finish spending in their whole life, still crave for more money? And as a result we have this strong backlash. And the people must not think that such a reckless decision were made without thinking. Many factors must have been input and seriously considered before a decision like this is made. They must know and think that this is the right and good thing to do. The people must not think that the wisest men of the country will do themselves in for a few dollars that they do not need. The people must not think that the wisest men are craving for money. They have plenty of them. So what will be the good reasons for this decision? I am still scratching my head. Peasants should not think that they can understand what the supertalents are thinking. Just rest assure that it is good for the country.

Political differences surfacing

“In a political system in which exit management is practised with a handshake, a smile and a tacit understanding not to talk publicly about departures, Mr Dhanabalan's candour was unusual. “But don't expect others who have left or were forced to quit to come out of the woodwork. ”The fear of how robustly the other side will tell its story, and the Singapore culture of not going against the establishment will weigh against others going down Mr. Dhanabalan's route. The above was extracted from www.littlespeck.com. I think all the skeletons will be brought out to air one day.

Time to commission a statue

We can add another attraction to the Singapore tourist scene. Let's erect a statue for the Most Well Paid Worker In the World and turn it into a tourist attraction.

40s and 50s still jobless

Gilbert Goh Keow Wah wrote to Today complaining that many of his friends were still jobless and have difficulties getting a job even when they were well qualified and with a breath of experience. How could this be? The msm have been publishing great statistics like hundreds of thousands of jobs were created and unemployment is at a record low that employers have to raise salaries to ridiculous amount to retain employees. I think his letter is just a small anomaly. Not representative of the real situation on the ground. Not real.

Reviewing the transport policies

The Straits Times on Saturday generously gave up 4 pages of its valued space to let people understand how much thoughts and efforts have been put in to address the state of our road transport policies. I think it hopes to tell the people how difficult it was to make all those decisions and why the people must appreciate the policy makers behind it and accept that they have done the best they could under all the existing constraints. And it also said that there is a big review going on to improve on what it is today to make public transportation and car ownership more acceptable and palatable to the people. After reading what were written, I doubt there will be any real improvements that will benefit the people and society except the public purse. There are still many obstacles in the mindset that if they are not removed, there will not be any significant change to speak of. They will be whipping a dead horse the same way they did, and dressing it up as if it is a new and vibrant creature. The same story of ‘if you want something that is world best, you must pay for it’ is the mantra of the present regime. Money is still seen as the answer to all problems, pay or buy your way out. What they should do is to rethink on what transportation means to the people’s life and the economy. The current policies promote economic activities at an ever increasing cost. On the other hand it stifles social activities of the people. Going shopping or moving around for social activities is very expensive. You pay to get there and you pay to remain there. People have avoided visiting friends or relatives due to the prohibitive transport and parking costs. It is time to ask if our transport policies should be money and profit driven. If we can abandon this thought and accept transportation, free and easy, economical and efficient, as a social cost that the country needs to keep the people moving, facilitate economic and social activities, then something really new will happen to enhance the life of the people. Public transport must be for transportation and communication, a public service, and not for profit. The profit is indirect, both tangible and intangible. Is this acceptable? As long as the key motive for public transportation is to make profit, all the policies will be half baked. We need to pay this cost to raise the vibrancy of our people and society. Take away the profit motive, put in younger people to manage public services when they are at an age that a couple of hundred thousand are big money to them. When they grow older and their appetite gets bigger, let them move on to run profit making organisations to fill up their bank accounts. While in these public service organisations, their performance must be measured on how they reduce costs or maintain cost at a reasonable level while continuing to improve efficiency and productivity. These kinds of performance indicators require a different mindset to appreciate. If we continue to measure everyone and organisation by how much profit or money they make, then nothing will change. Everything, every cost will only go up and up without any real improvement in the quality of service. The ERP charges is a good example. The current policies are choking the system, holding the commuters and car owners at ransom by demanding higher payment to get around. And the problems remain. Any improvement is marginable and temporary.

12/16/2007

Notable quote - The Emperor of the Dark Side

'Welcome to the Dark Side. Stand side by side with your father. Feel the power...' The Emperor of Star Wars

When you write your own pay cheque?

The transport policies, the COEs, ERPs, bus fares, mrt fares, car ownership, etc etc, together is a very complicated issue. It is not easy for peasants to understand or to grapple with. Even super talents find it tough to handle. So please try to appreciate that they are doing their best.

A Septo Sutedja, had a role play as a Transport Minister and got away feeling better that he now had a better understanding of the complicated issues involved. So, is he now more satisfied with the way things are?

When we pay people top dollars, millions of dollars, to do a job, we expect the job to be done to our satisfaction. Once we start to pay market price, we do not see the job as a sacrifice, a voluntary social work. We have gone past that. We are not in a state to understand and appreciate that the best effort has been put in and that’s it.

We don’t pay a mean salary just to accept whatever that is dished out to us. Only the best is expected, and the people shall decide what is good enough. For it is the people’s money that is going into the pay cheque. You name the price, we pay. No question asks.

Now you deliver.

Joke of the Day

The parents are angry because the school bus fee has been raised by $5 to $10 per month. And the School Transport Association was so apologetic for raising this amount. The only reason I can think of, and feel comforted, is that they were not run by super talents.

It is starting to happen

Two Bangladeshi workers were charged in court for the murder of a Singaporean, a security guard. Two other suspects were still at large. The security guard and his girlfriend used to rent a room to several Bangladeshi workers. This is a case that is waiting to happen. As the foreign workers get more familiar with the locals and the environment, some will get into mischiefs. And as the frequency gets higher, things will only get worst. Soon Singaporeans would live in fear of the foreigner workers living next doors. We have been living in a peaceful paradise for too long. Things are going to change, very fast. It may get to a point that we would be worried of our children and daughters walking out of the flats or coming home at night. Singaporeans must be prepared to accept such a development as they open their flats and homes to foreign workers. Not that all foreign workers are bad. Many are good and decent fellows. You only need 1% and our lives will be torned to pieces. We have 1 million foreigners living in our midst. 1% is a big number to terrorise the innocent, unprepared and unthinking locals.

Who is to protect you in your own country?

I used to make nasty remarks about Japan and south Korea being semi colonies of the US. The US personnel stationed in these two countries do not come under their jurisdiction, not under their laws. They are above the laws of these two countries. When they commit any crime, they will be taken away and protected by the Americans. The Japanese and South Koreans could do nothing about it. Such a situation used to happen in the Philippines as well until the people took to the streets to protest. The Philippines have got back their rights and kept the Americans in the right place. Philippines is not a colony of America and any Americans caught violating their laws would be dealt with under Filipino laws. That is what being an independent country is all about. We are an independent country. I just read in the paper that a Singaporean was bashed up for no reason by a drunken American sailor. Though the assailants were caught, he was quickly whisked away by the American Naval Criminal Investigation Service. The NCIS is a body to 'protect members of the US Navy and Marine Corp.' So this American who had beaten our citizen is now being protected by this agency. And our police, after arresting the suspect, 'did not arrest him because the alleged offence - voluntarily causing hurt - is not a seizable one.' And the victim had been 'advised to lodge a magistrate's complaint should he wish to pursue the case against the defendant.' Now I know why being a lawyer is so lucrative. I would advise him not to as he would not be able to afford the legal cost. How could he fight against an agency that protects Americans against us? He must count himself lucky that he did not land up in the intensive ward and having to pay for his own medical bills. Let's welcome more visitors to beat up the locals. And as long as the offence is not seizable, they can walk away after making a few statements. And the poor victims must now find the money to pay for his justice. My goodness. I am feeling very unsafe now. I will watch my front and back and stay clear from foreigners.

12/15/2007

The New NKF Story

Gerard Ee and his team have done a miraculous job in the New NKF. They have cut cost, raised subsidies, took in more patients, and increased income for the NKF despite losing 100,000 donors. What can we say? Applause! Now they are thinking of more ways to reduce the costs to the poorer patients and spending a bit more of the $270m in reserves. Perhaps drawing down a little to help more people. That's what a charity is supposed to be instead of acting like a bank or public trust and hoard the money for as long as it can, in the process depriving some of the needy from some help. People from another school of thought may be looking at the New NKF management in horror. How could they ever think of spending the reserve? Reserves are meant to be reserves and should not be touched. Only to be used for very good reasons, maybe like engaging a professional top grade executive to raise more fund. For such an animal, they need to pay him/her market rate to match his talents. It reminds me of the Malaysian's unwillingness to sell us water and prefer to let the rain water flow into the Straits of Johore. Donation money are like rain water. It is God sent. No need to work for it. Just ask or beg and the kindness of human milk will flow. Turn it into a business enterprise, it will dry up. Be more calculative, and the donors will also be as calculative. We must not forget the original meaning of charity. It is human kindness from the heart. Those without a heart should not meddle with charity and charitable organisations. Gerard Ee and his team have done a miraculous job in the New NKF. They have cut cost, raised subsidies, took in more patients, and increased income for the NKF despite losing 100,000 donors. What can we say? Applause! Now they are thinking of more ways to reduce the costs to the poorer patients and spending a bit more of the $270m in reserves. Perhaps drawing down a little to help more people. That's what a charity is supposed to be instead of acting like a bank or public trust and hoard the money for as long as it can, in the process depriving some of the needy from some help. People from another school of thought may be looking at the New NKF management in horror. How could they ever think of spending the reserve? Reserves are meant to be reserves and should not be touched. Only to be used for very good reasons, maybe like engaging a professional top grade executive to raise more fund. For such an animal, they need to pay him/her market rate to match his talents. It reminds me of the Malaysian's unwillingness to sell us water and prefer to let the rain water flow into the Straits of Johore. Donation money are like rain water. It is God sent. No need to work for it. Just ask or beg and the kindness of human milk will flow. Turn it into a business enterprise, it will dry up. Be more calculative, and the donors will also be as calculative. We must not forget the original meaning of charity. It is human kindness from the heart. Those without a heart should not meddle with charity and charitable organisations.

Minister's pay hike

The huge 21% increase in minister's pay has received the expected criticism and condemption from many quarters, spoken and unspoken. It is very tempting for anyone to join the bandwagon and add in a few more vibes at the issue. Not many will be pleased about this earth shattering event except for the privilege few who can afford to retire after one year's of such income. Look at the bright side. I am sure all the good men and all their goodness will surely think that getting 21% pay hike on top a million dollar income is no small thing. And surely they too will want this goodness to be spread down to as many people as possible. And they will know that the people will go down on their knees and worship them if they could give everyone a 21% pay hike as well. It does not matter if one is getting only $210 pm increase on a $1000 income(or x15 = $3150 for a whole year) or a $210,000 increase on a $1m income. It will still look fair and just as the common factor is 21%. The people must have faith and look forward to a 21% increase coming their way as it is the only decent thing to do and expect. Just give it some time for the policy makers to get it done. The easiest and first people to receive such an increase, in my view, will be those on $290 pm public assistance scheme. It will not amount to more than another $60 increase or $720 a year. Let's wait for our Christmas present, maybe next year. It takes time to deliver.

12/14/2007

Singaporeans highest paid workers in the world...soon

At the rate that we are going, Singaporean workers will soon become the highest paid in the world. Starting from a top down approach, the richness of the rich will soon filter down as we work towards closing the income gap. If employees in the top bracket are earning $4m or more, and if the gap is 1:100, then the lowest paid workers should be getting $40k. Now this must be good. And they need to earn this amount to keep pace with the galloping away cost of living. Every thing is up. So worker's income must also up. Or else how are they going to survive? And the world will envy us and all the workers, especially the talented ones, will be queuing up to work here. We will become the best in everything.

Why begrudge taxi drivers earning more?

There are still many letters to the msm complaining about the hike in taxi fares. I am curious why people are so unhappy that taxi drivers got to earn a bit more from people who can afford to pay more to ride in taxis. And there are many who are willing to pay even more, suggesting to give more tips to good taxi drivers. We should let the market forces determine how much the taxi drivers should get and encourage those who can afford to pay the taxi drivers more. Another way is to do an objective study by paying some international consultants to compare the salaries of taxi drivers with their counterparts. Then they can benchmark the salaries of the taxi drivers accordingly. Once a benchmark has been set, then no one should question the validity of the study, the methodology nor the increases expected. It should become a fait accompli. And everyone can then move on. Let the taxi drivers enjoy their little hikes. It comes to nothing actually.

12/13/2007

Medisave Account RA

It is reported in the Today paper today that from Jan 1 2008, the RA or Required Amount in the Medisave Account 'will be raised to $14,000 from teh current $11,500, increasing by $2,500 each year until it reaches $25,000 on Jan1, 2013.' There are people with more than $25,000 in the Medisave Account. Does it mean that the CPF is retaining more than it can in the people's Medisave Account as provided by legislation? Should the excess amount be returned to the account holder?

Notable quotes - S Dhanabalan

'Singapore's leadership is honest' S Dhanabalan KNN. With the compensation package designed to make everyone honest, what shall we expect?

Longer COEs

Forum writer Frederick Tan Huay Teong pleaded to the LTA to allow extension of COEs for another 5 years and owners can have the option of renewing it year by year. This is good for those who are cash strapped. There is no issue on the condition of the cars as most of them will be like new. Scrapping them at 10 years is a waste. The current system allows renewal on another 10 year basis. Hmmm, it may be a good idea. But too complicate a system to manage. But what is the advantage from the revenue point of view?

Compulsory taxi driving

The cries are getting louder with the new fare hike. But that is something that must be done. Other than the fuel hike there is also a need to cut down on the number of taxis on the road. And we need to increase the number of commuters using public transport to generate more income to improve the system. The net effect will be lesser taxis on the road and more people using public transport. It is an objective that we are trying to achieve all these years. So it is a good thing. There is a possibility that things may go a bit too far when the demand for taxis drops dramatically and too many taxi drivers may quit. So it may be a good thing to make taxi driving compulsory for those above 55 and who are jobless. They can pay the monthly rentals from their money locked up in the CPF. We can then be guaranteed of a ready pool of drivers to keep the taxi operation running smoothly and efficiently. It is good for the taxi operators as their taxis will be fully rented out and payment from CPF is prompt. And many of the unemployed will be employed. Commuters too will get the taxis they want.

12/12/2007

Up, up and up

School bus will cost between $5 to $10 more next month. And parents are complaining. How unreasonable with the high fuel cost and drivers needing more income to pay for the high cost of living. And Chek Jawa trip is not going to be free anymore. It will cost $60 for a group tour. How could they ever conduct tours for free? The thought that they had done it for free earlier is so ridiculous. How could Singaporeans work for free? It is sinful to do that.

Straits Times agrees with Redbean

I read the ST Editorial today and it said that the paper agrees to a big bang approach on taxi fare hike to $7-$10 flag down rate and remove all the other charges. I too suggested this with as a tongue in cheek proposal. Looks like the taxi companies are going to adopt the little increments, bit by bit, so that it is not so painful approach. I think they should go for the big whack as people who can afford taxi fares can afford to absorb big hikes compare to the poorer mrt and bus commuters. Hey, as some have said, taxi is a luxury item. Fear not. Make them pay.

UNSW and EDB reached an agreement.

This is being reported in the msm today. After reading the article, could not find a clue what agreement was reached. Who pays what or concede to pay what, not a single thing was mentioned. Would the public get to know what was agreed? Or we are supposed to accept that an agreement was reached and need not have to know any details?

How will hikes help?

This is the heading of an article by Leong Wee Keat in Today paper. I think it will help a lot. First, some to the commuters will switch to mrt and buses. So there will be lesser demand for taxis. But this will not affect the taxi drivers' income as the hike will ensure that they get more per trip. As there will be less users, more will give up driving taxis. So road congestion will be lesser. And stock prices of MRT and Singapore Bus should go up accordingly. And more of these taxi drivers can return to the job market. Isn't that good?

12/11/2007

Are our taxi drivers professional?

How much would it cost from the Chinese Embassy at Tanglin Road to Redhill MRT station? The distance is about 2 km. This auntie took a Comfort cab and had to pay $4.30 for the trip. The distance registered by the cab is 3.5km. Receipt details: Comfort Transportation GST No. M2-0113048-4, SH 8135A. Trip No. 121010323 Start 10/12/2007 10:32 End 10/12/2007 10:40 Meter Fare $4.30 Have a nice day. The auntie is still fuming mad for being taken for a ride.

More ups. Economy up, salary up.

Over the last few days childcare centre cost has gone up by $75 pm. And taxi fares up. Flag down fare up by 30c plus other charges also up. The comparison for a 9 km trip during peak hours is $14.35 against Hongkong's $14.30. Very compatible as if the commuters can switch to Hongkong cab if local cab is too expensive. A substitution idea. Then the mandatory comparison with Sydney at $28.70 and London at $51.60. So we are cheap, very cheap. How about comparing lemon to lemon? What is their average income compare to an average Singaporean?

1/3 full or 2/3 empty?

Zul Othman reported in Today on a poll conducted by Globescan and Synovate on press freedom versus social stability. The survey concluded that '48 per cent of Singaporeans feel controls on the media necessary.' Or is it 52% say it is not necessary? It also said, '...43 per cent felt a free press was very important.' So 57% must feel that press freedom is not important. And 'Some 42 per cent of Singaporeans gave a "good job" rating to govt-funded media in accuracy and honesty,...' What about the 58%? So, should we say one third full or two third empty?

Providence smiling at the Red Dot

While all the super talents were planning and strategising their moves to conquer the financial world, Providence was watching. What human beans intend, without the aid of Providence, will hardly get anywhere. But when Providence smiles, fortune comes a knocking at our door. We have spent a lot of money buying little banks and incurred the anger and minds of their petty leaders. They basically said, we want your money but not your presence. Or we don't like you. Leave your money here and get lost. Then the sub prime loan crisis came and many fell along the wayside. And Providence keeps smiling. The Red Dot is welcomed to work with the big international banks. The number one European bank, the UBS is offering the little Red Dot a majority share in the bank. And the little Red Dot did not even have to sweat for it. I don't think we even think of owning such a bank. But Providence smiles only on those who prepare themselves for it. We have positioned ourselves well and being in the right place and the right time counts. Also being seen as a decent and predictable entity, operating under the rule of the law and not the rule of the fist helps. Singapore should discard its little boy mentality and walk with the big boys in the international arena. Forget about wheeling and dealing with the kampong chieftains. Singapore can go places.

12/10/2007

Throwing caution to the wind

It is necessary to seek alternative views and opinions. People who come out with different views and perspectives are not necessary the devils or trying to spoil the broth. There is a front page article on Ngiam Tong Dow in the Today paper. Ngaim is talking through his vast experience and is cautioning against this unquestioning righteousness and the arrogance of never wrong. He revealed, through hindsight, what had gone wrong of decisions that were then seemed so right and backed up by even Goh Keng Swee. History will vindicate what is right or wrong many years down the road. Many things are being sung tonight as the best decisions and the right decisions. Would they stand up tomorrow as the right things to do? The second point which Ngiam was trying to say, which we all know, is that the realities on the ground are more real than mere statistics churned our by statisticians. We need to read statistics wisely and carefully and not be lulled into a sense of well being when what is happening at the ground level is saying that things are not right. Ngaim's third key concern is the way we are pushing up our population growth. The consequences of what we are doing now at this maddening speed will tell tomorrow. By then it is too late to unwind. And the faster we hit the 6 million mark, the faster we will hit recession. Unless we continue to pursue population growth as an engine of growth and do not stop at 6 million. The question is what then when 6 million is reached? The convinced and believers will just believe blindly. But we need the doubters, the non believers to tell the other side of the story.

12/09/2007

Competing for living space, with the dogs

Space is a crucial item in the life of Singaporeans. The more people we pack into this little tin can, the more suffocating it will be. We are pushing the population to 6 or 7 million and we must expect the quality of our life be affected. Do not believe any donkey who tells you that your quality of life will improve with more people being squeezed here. They do not know what they are talking. We are competing for space with foreigners. And this is the biggest shit. Then if we are not careful, the gays will want their own space, the nudist will want their little corner in Sentosa as well. But all these can never beat the ambition of animal lovers if they have their ways. They want running tracks and parks for their love ones, they mean the four legged ones that need to run to keep trim and healthy. They will also want a corner of Sentosa and a portion of the sea cordoned off for them and their dogs to frolic and have a good time. If things will go liberally, we will soon be known as a dog's paradise where it is better to be a dog, with its own restaurants and specially prepared meals, dog parks, dog sea, dog tracks, and of course dog hospitals. Soon some will become specialists and consultants to take care of the whims and fancies of doggies. This is one thing which we can promote to bring in more visitors to our shores, plus their pet dogs.

The end is near

What will Singapore be in 2015? What if 35 years later, in 2050, mother earth calls it a day? Is it possible, given the facts of a climate change caused by the abuses of humankind, to produce and produce, more lives and accessories to keep lives going, that we will destroy our one and only liveable habitat? We believe that we can live till 85 years or more. Can we also believe that the world will be so sick in 35 years that it is futile to think of living to 85? People can believe the good news, that they will all live till 85 and must start to prepare and save for that day. I say all because all will be made to prepare for that day because the human gods have said so. For those who believe in a different group of human gods and see the end is near, that by 2050, there is nothing much to look forward to actually, should they be preparing for that day by living to the fullest everyday that they can have now? Whichever way one chooses, it is just a matter of belief. Both scenarios are highly possible. Unfortunately, in one case one cannot chose but must do, compulsory, to prepare to live till 85. The other is still a free choice. So the former must be the greater truth, or tooth. All resources are committed along that belief. It will surely happen.

12/08/2007

Myth 168

Policy making myth 'Singaporeans... depend on the Government to get its policies right. That's easier said than done. Today's policymakers have to grapple with myriad demands.' This statement is printed boldly on the Straits Times special coverage on policy making in Singapore. Superficially it looks very difficult given the multi racial and religious composition of the country and the limited resources. We are grappling, yes, everyday, but not because policies are difficult to make. Just make it compulsory. Period. What so difficult about that? Prices of public transport, just raise. Who is to say no? Essential services, suka suka just up. What can the people do. Can the people protest, take to the streets? Are there any alternatives? Look at the compulsory annuity schemes. It is simply compulsory. And they even think that it is alright to take the members money and pass it to other people without their consent. They are now grappling with the minute details on how to make it palatable. But the key issue is that many people do not need the annuity scheme. This will not be addressed. It is compulsory. Need it or not, irrelevant. Everyone must pay. Is it that difficult to make such a policy? A scheme, or any scheme, is only well received if the people need it. Obviously not everyone needs it. And also, not everyone can afford it. But it will be a done deal.

12/07/2007

KPKB in cyberspace works

Who says kpkb in the internet has no effect? After all the cursing and swearing that Singaporeans are getting a raw deal while PRs are getting a free ride, things are changing. Hospital subsidies for PRs and foreigners are going to change. No subsidies for foreigners and lesser subsidies for PRs. Why does it take so long to realise how stupid such a policy was when Singaporeans are not getting any better than PRs and foreigners? And if the bloggers and forumers were not in cyberspace to kpkb, I think there will not be any policy change on this. Bloggers and forumers should give themselves a pat for changing this policy. And the govt, ok, should also be given a pat for listening to the cries in the wilderness.

Reining in property prices

More residential units in suburban areas for upgraders. This move is to curb the high property prices that is running out of reach of Singaporeans wanting to upgrade. With the kind of salary that the average Singaporeans are getting, it is unlikely that they can afford the kind of prices of private properties unless they want to pay for them for life. Would the new measures help? Executive condominiums with some restrictions on income level should keep the very rich out of this market. So the average Singaporeans can compete among themselves. Sounds ok. But with an average intake of 50k PRs coming into the market annually, how is this going to make a difference? Are PRs entitle to buy exec condos? I think so. So how much will this affect the opportunities given to Singaporean upgraders?

12/06/2007

Creating a new social divide

The high cost of living is going to be the deciding factor in how society will polarise. The rich will be rich and the poor will be poor or poorer. This is a reality that no one can escape. What is unfortunate and apparent is how Singaporeans contribute to this division consciously. Without a healthy bank account or income, the life and future of the lower income are quite bleak actually. No matter how much assistance the govt is going to throw at them, if the poor do not help themselves and lighten their own burden, they will succumb to the pressure of simply living. Families with one or two children will definitely fare better, all things being equal, than those with 4 or 8 children. They just have more resources to bring up fewer children. And they will float to the top of the social class. Those who could not support their abundant children will simply sink lower. This is a natural social law and order. Will this social divide bring more tension and stress to our society down the road? Definitely. And it will manifest in many forms.

Unbelieveable! Taxi drivers not happy with fare hike

The taxi fare hike is coming to town and taxi drivers are unhappy. Some. Others think it is good as it will pay for some of the higher costs. For the unhappy lot, the reason is simple. All the consumers are feeling the pinch not just because of higher transport cost but everything is up. Even a 30c increase will affect a significant portion of the people. And this will affect their income. Why is it that only the taxi drivers and the commuters are the people to bear the brunt for the increasing cost? Why are taxi operators still protecting their income without having to bear any of the increases? A 30c increase for 100 passenges daily will bring in an additional $30 to the taxi driver or about $900 monthly. This will definitely be enough to cover the additional costs and maybe even pay for higher rental fees to the taxi operators. Whatever increases the commuters pay. So commuters who cannot afford the rising cost, just go for substitution. Take public transport. And if public transport also goes up, ride bicycle. For those aged or have difficulties in moving around, don't move around. Everyone must adapt to the rising cost and change their lifestyle. Lifestyle is changeable according to one's pocket.

12/05/2007

Comparing a well against an ocean

Dr Wong Jock Onn wrote to the Straits Times lamenting how well he was received and treated by the Australians while living and working there. He said that the Australians did not have a 'us and them' mentality vis a vis foreigners. How true. He is born way pass the time when there was a 'white policy' with regards to immigration. In fact that policy is still in place but watered down. But his gist is that Singaporeans must welcome foreigners with open arms like the Aussies and make foreigners feel at home. He forgot that Australia is a continent of less than 30 million people while Singapore is a dot with 4 million people and everyone is fighting for space and air to breathe and a job to feed themself. Think carefully before comparing a well with an ocean. Australia has all the space for people of the world. Do we? We are even fighting for a seat in the train with foreigners. One day they will come to blows. In Oz, you can drive for hundreds of km without seeing a human bean.

Money grabbing politics

'Much money-grabbing from the national tills were effected by those within or connected to the elite ruling political party. I sincerely hope the Hindraf case will not only bring the plight of the Indians to the international forum but the plight of other minorities as well.' The above quote is copied from www.littlespeck.com. It is written by a non Malay who said he had left but not sure whether it is Malaysia or the civil service.

Lawyers touting?

Lawyers were fined for touting or soliciting for business. And I think many businesses are also affected by such archaic practices. Why can't a professional offers his services at the best rate that he can offer? Should we liberalise all the practices and allow the free market to regulate businesses? There shall be minimum rules governing business and commercial practices as long as fair and ethical practices are adopted. There shall be transparency and a level playing field. Cartels, monopolies and protectionism shall be removed and made illegal. We need free trade and free entreprises to bring out the best in business and individual enterprise.

Human Rights - Confucianist version

Long before the western world talked about human rights, Confucian had clearly defined what human rights were meant to be. These rights were enshrined in the principles of destiny or fate. People were born to be kings or workers and all were expected to live through their destiny in the best they could. A king shall be a good king and shall rule the country in the best way he could. For that he is bestowed with all the powers and authority to do as he pleases as a king. The people who are born to be workers shall be examplary workers, be they carpenters, taxi drivers or production workers. They shall just put in all their energy and effort to be good workers. And that is their right. The ministers or government officials shall be good government officials and manage the country for the king. They shall all be obeyed. The father shall all be good fathers and children be good childrens etc etc As long as everyone does his part and live within his destined life, live responsibly and does not interfere in matters outside his realm of existence, there will be order and peace on earth. That is the Confucianist version of human rights. Everyone has the right to live his or her life as what he is born to be. And I believe all the Asean countries will love to live by this version of human rights.

12/04/2007

Myth 167 Condor Heroes

Condor Heroes For those who are familiar with this Chin Yong's martial art serial, they will be familiar with the art of left hand fighting right hand. This is a skill mastered and taught by the infantile old master Zhou Bo Tong. Whenever he was bored he would use his right hand to fight his left hand. Of course both hands would never be hurt. And he could fight for as long as he wanted, it is just another kind of wayang kulit. This is a good skill to learn and apply in modern living. Let the right hand fight the left hand, sometimes right hand lose, sometimes left hand lose, or whichever one so desires. The master is still the master.

Human Rights in Singapore?

'It should not be there just for the sake of advocacy. Human rights issues have to be conginzant of the society they are applied to, and the degree of sophistication of the country and people.' Baey Yam Keng This has been the talk of the town since we took over the Chair of Asean and people are expecting that Singapore should take some kind of lead or leadership in promoting human rights. In my view, Singapore does not need any human rights organisation not that we are not sophisticated enough for it. Also our society does not need a human rights group for the sake of human rights movement. We are free from human rights abuses. Compare to all the Asean countries, no one can come near us as far as human rights are concerned. We are the best. Even the US, the champion of international human rights, is our best friend. That speaks volumes for our human rights record. Other countries should follow our examples on human rights and treat their people as fairly as us. We deserve a medal from the US and the UN on human rights.

Better taxi service and higher fare

There were several suggestions in the Today paper on how to improve the taxi service and increase the income of taxi drivers. But none is better than my suggestion for a $10 flag down rate. This $10 is not only effective, it will make everyone happy. First, because it is a bit more expensive than the present $2.50 rate, it will deter those who cannot afford the new rate to take taxis. Then more taxis will be available for those who can afford it. And they will be happy. Those who have to give up taxis can take our efficient and comfortable public transport system. For taxi drivers, nothing better to say. With $2.50 already some profit. With $10 they should be happy and encouraged to make our taxi profession a first choice profession and better quality service. And for the taxi operators, they can increase the rental rates too. See, everyone happy.

12/03/2007

Price to keep a killer as pet

Investigation revealed that the rottweilers had attacked the son of a friend and required about 10 stitches. The AVA ordered that 2 of the rottweilers must be given away. So the owner will still have 3 at home. Is this good enough measure to keep the dogs from attacking another human bean? What the AVA should introduce is mandatory caning or imprisonment for the owner should any big dog attack a human bean. This will put the responsibility squarely on the owner and they will have to take all precautions to prevent such an attack. The current penalty is too little and will not be a deterrence and owners who have a lot of money will willingly throw the money at the unfortunate victims. The owner of big ferocious dogs must be made to bear the pain and suffering of their victims. And the fine must be very heavy, maybe $100k, and the licence should also be up, $10k a year. That should be a reasonable price for the right to keep a killer as a pet.

Myth 166

Boom or bust? Our economy is booming and we have full employment. Everyone must be doing well, gainfully employed. It is our golden year. Why are we rolling out more financial aids for people who need help? Why are there more people desperately needing help in a booming economy with full employment? Why isn't the wealth of the country spread to the lower income people faster?

Taxi fares must go up

With the high operating cost, higher fuel prices etc, it is so unreal to expect taxi drivers to continue to drive their taxis at the same fare. And it is also well acknowledged that our taxi fares are too low compare to the big cities. How can public transport like MRT and buses be allowed to keep going up but not for taxis? If there is any compulsion to keep fares affordable, it must be MRT and buses as these are used by the workers whose income have actually gone down quite badly due to all the increases. There are hundreds and one reasons to support taxi fare hike. One of which is that it is a more than just a means of transport. It is a luxury in a way compares to buses and MRT. We should see the flag down fare increase to $10. That would make taxi driving as a job more attractive and cut down on all the other schemes. And it can do away with all the charges and surcharges. $10 flag down rate is the way to go.

12/02/2007

The tooth and fiction of Singapore

More and more people are coming forward pleading for help and assistance. They cannot feed themselves anymore. A can of cheap China produced luncheon meat used to cost $1.30. It is now $2.50, and out of stock. A plate or rice or noodle used to cost $3 but now $3.50 or more. A loaf of bread costing $1.80 is now more than $2. How could the people afford this kind of prices when they live on $290 pm? But what do they expect? Eat in restaurant? But of course this is fictional Singapore. They are just cooked up stories of hard luck Singaporeans. Just someone's imaginations to create a negative impression of this paradise on earth. The true Singapore, he paid $435 million for a condo! Now that is more real. Another bought a 5rm HDB flat for more than $730,000, all for a good sea view. A family is paying $5,000 just for rental alone, and no sweat at all. Another was paying $10,000 but saved $2,000 by moving to the lower floor. And a supervisor with 5 young children could smoke a pack of cigarettes costing $10 daily. And can afford to pay $100 for mobile phone bill for only one of the children. What about me? I can't afford to smoke, or I don't smoke. And my mobile phone bill is a consistent $14 pm, hardly exceeded and used for business and personal matters. And I feel very tight in my pocket. Which is fiction, which is tooth?

12/01/2007

Payment for life

How much does a politician contribute to the country and people in a 2 term office to deserve payment for life? This is something that has not been really discussed in parliament or in the msm except in some naughty blogs and websites. It would be interesting to hear this issue debated in parliament. The old belief of political office as a personal sacrifice sounds quite hollow today when remunerations are pegged to market rate or more. Working for two terms and being paid for life is definitely more than anything the market will pay.

End of NKF saga

Matilda Chua was fined $10k for falsifying accounts unrelated to the NKF saga. And this marks the closing of an ugly and amusing chapter of corporate governance and how public donations to charities were simply money under the bridge. On record, former chairman Richard Yong and ex treasurer Loo Say San were fined $5k each for their parts in the saga. The CEO Durai was jailed for 3 months for deceiving the NKF. He is appealing and has yet to serve his sentence, I think. He is probably employed by a big company working in the Middle East as a CEO or something like that. Justice has been done. What happened to all the missing loot? Were they recovered and how much were recovered? God knows. Waiting for a summation of the case in the msm to mark the official conclusion of the case. And nothing more was heard of the infamous Aboobacker. Lucky fellow. How would the ending and punishment affect future corporate governance? Would people be encouraged to repeat the saga, after all it is only a few thousand dollars to pay and the rewards and perks were more than one can bargain for? All in all, the story has a happy ending.