Sunday, October 4, 2015

NEA Director's reply confusing public and not addressng public concern

NEA Director, Fong P K in his reply to a reader feedback to Voices in Today papers on 3 Oct 15 said that, "The National Environment Agency (NEA) is providing hourly, real-time haze information on our various platforms."

He is confusing the public because even though NEA data tables give the hourly reading, these readings are NOT real time.

On NEA website it is clearly stated be it the 24 and 3 hours PSI or the 1 hourly PM2.5 reading, they are AVERAGE over 24 or 3 hours.  The 1 hourly reading is also average data.  These 2 statements are from NEA website under their FAQs on PSI :

1) For PM2.5, the new 24-hour PSI reflects the PM2.5 concentration levels averaged across 24 hours. The new 3-hour PSI reflects the PM2.5 concentration levels averaged across 3 hours.

2) The 1-hour PM2.5 concentrations reflect the PM2.5 levels averaged over one hour, and can give you an indication of the current air quality.

So why is NEA Director misleading the public to think they are real time reading? Besides, he did not address the reader's concern which is lack of real time data for the public to make informed decision.

The shortcoming of historical average data is the time delay between when we are hit by unhealthy or hazardous level of haze to the time NEA data does reflect it. It defeats the purpose to have people wearing mask or staying indoor after the high PSI level has passed.  Is this not too late where our safety and health is concern?

For safety best practice in taking precaution, it is real time reading that matters. When evaluating the health concern due to exposure, perhaps the 24 hours PSI reading could be useful. 

NEA is already in possession of real time data, why is NEA so reluctant to share with the public? There have been repeated feedback year after year that we need such data to make informed decision regarding our daily activities during the haze period. 

By down playing* the PSI level, NEA is putting public safety and health at risk. We know PM2.5 can be inhaled into our lungs and could be carcinogenic. Could the public take class action against NEA if there is a high incident of lung cancers in the future due to under reporting* of the PSI level, resulting in public complacency in taking proactive measures to protect ourselves?

*Note : Besides, time delay in critical haze occurrence, the averaging of data by NEA has resulted in much lower level of PSI when compare to real time reading.
For real time data on PSI please refer to :  - which provides real time air pollution information for more than 60 countries in the world


Friday, September 25, 2015

NEA psi reading is historical averaged out data

I am not sure if I heard it correctly when our minister said when interviewed by the media broadcast during the news on 24/9/15 night that if we want hourly reading we can refer to NEA website and not use other sources.

As far as I know, NEA only provide us with processed data base on AVERAGE 24 hours and AVERAGE 3 hours reading.  The heading and the data table in the NEA website could be misleading the public to think it is spot hourly reading - it is NOT.  So is our minister also confused by his own agency website ?

The NEA data table heading does not have the word 'average' in it. It only says :

PSI Readings over the last 24 hours and 3-hr PSI Reading. It then go on to list the reading at 1am, 2am, 3am....etc.  Link to -  nea data table

It is in other area on NEA site that we find information on how the their psi reading is derived and the formula use.  Quote from NEA website :

For PM2.5, the new 24-hour PSI reflects the PM2.5 concentration levels averaged across 24 hours. The new 3-hour PSI reflects the PM2.5 concentration levels averaged across 3 hours

So it means if the 24 hrs reading at 1 am states it is 200 psi, it is average reading from 1 am yesterday to 1 am today. If it is 3 hrs average at 6 pm, it means the reading is average from 3 to 6pm.

There have been public feedback for years that NEA should provide us with hourly spot reading. Real time data is more useful and safer than past historical averaged data in making decision.  For example, if the school has a basket ball game that day at 10 am, real time data can help decide if the event can continue without compromising on students health. Besides due to averaging effect, the time NEA reading says we are hit by hazardous range is normally delay by 1 or more hours.

For nation wide decision like school closure, perhaps the more stable 24 hours averaged out historical data can be used.

Besides, historical averaged 24 hrs and 3 hrs readings are always much lower at the start of the haze compare to spot reading. The difference can be as much as 30 or more psi. It is only when the haze continues to worsen for a few days that the NEA historical averaged data move closer to spot reading.

There has been some improvement to the NEA data due to public feedback. It was only in 2012 that PM2.5 particulate was incorporated into NEA 24 hrs psi reporting. For the 3 hrs psi, it was in 2014 that PM2.5 particulate was incorporated.

It has been observed over the years, the PM2.5 reading is normally much higher than PM10. Besides, PM2.5 can be inhaled into the lungs, making it much more hazardous than PM10 which can be filter by our nostril hair.  Thus, it is strange that NEA took so long to make the changes to adopt safety best practices though we have been hit by the haze for decades.

If other countries can provide their citizens with official real time reading, why is our govt so reluctant to do so all these years despite public feedback ?  We need it to make safe informed decision with regards to our daily activities when we are hit by the recurring haze year after year !

If govt wants us to refer to NEA data then provide us what we need - hourly reading. Don't chide the public for turning to other websites if NEA is reluctant to share real time raw information with us. Processed data can be unhealthy for our lungs.

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Chinese and English broadcast of 'Your Vote Matters'

The first thing that comes to mind is why the unequal time allocation to PAP. They took up half of the time slot, while the 5 alternate parties have to share the other half.  PAP has 2 representatives, while the other parties only 1.

They are all parties contesting the election, why must PAP be given unfair advantage ? Most of the time alternative party representatives were cut off in the middle of their speech as their time is up. While PAP ones can take their own sweet time to talk. Even then, Chan CS over shot the time  allocated, but continue talking anyway as he ignored the moderator. Typical PAP 'big shot' mentality.

The topics for discussion are the same for both broadcast.  They are :  high cost of living, foreign workforce / immigration and future direction of S'pore politics

In the English broadcast, the alternate parties NSP (Lim Tean) , Reform Party(Jeyaretnam), SDP (Chee SJ), SingFirst (Tan JS), WP (Leon Perera) all spoke pretty well. Lim Tean is impressive with his clear and short delivery. His body language is sincere and reaching out to us.

Denise Phua from PAP come across as passionate and sincere. If there are more folks like her, may be PAP will not be rotting.  Lawrence Wong is a smooth talker, he reminds us of those snake oil seller, smiling away trying to get you to buy his product.

In the Chinese broadcast, NSP (Sebastian) and SDP representative presented themselves very well.  The WP guy spoke too fast and tried to bring up too many points.  SingFirst (Ang) is handicapped by his weak mastery of Mandarin. Reform Party representative performance was below par. Sebastian gave the best analysis of the high cost of living being contributed by high business cost whereby the govt has influence over such as worker's levy...etc

PAP (Chan CS) is another snake oil seller.  Saying a lot of motherhood statements without facts to substantiate it - like the minimum wage issue. Keep repeating other countries have failed - hello where are your data to support it ? Which are the countries which have failed and in what way have they failed?  He talks about voting in the people we 'trust'. Isn't this an irony. Did not PAP said they want to gain back out trust? So this means we don't trust them.  If we do not trust them, we should not be voting for them right? So this ex-paper general is reminding us not to vote for his party! Ha...ha.

Sim Ann come across as insincere and cold. Pretty typical PAP elite hypocritical type. Compare to Denise Phua, she is a real turn off. Her assignment from her master is to throw stone at WP over the Town Council issue. Next she tried to explain the difference between population and workforce (direct translation from Chinese 'human mouth' and 'human hand').

She was smoking us again by repeating the same old thing, - aging population so not enough hands to support the mouths. They still failed to acknowledged the fact the aging population is aggravated by the liberal FT and immigration policies. These folks bringing along their aging parents and at time even grandparents. It matters not if they are on visitor pass or long term pass, as they still use our overburden infrastructure and facilities (transport, healthcare....). So the ratio could be at least 1 : 1 to 1 : 4 (ie every foreign import brings in one or more senior).  Besides if the FT, PR and new citizens are in their 40's, they are fast becoming the aging population too !

We the citizens want constructive debate on policies. Mud slinging and stone throwing is dirty and immature. We don't like DIRTY POLITICS.  So those who love to wear white please stop playing with mud and stones.  

PAP Election Strategy

After viewing both the Chinese and English broadcast of 'Your Vote Matters', we can double and triple confirm that PAP ungentlemanly politics is one of their election strategies.  We know how after fixing WP since they won over Aljunied in the last election, they have been hitting below the belt non stop on WP lapse which root cause is due to PAP 'legalised' underhand policies to disadvantage alternate parties.

In the Chinese broadcast, Sim Ann took pot shots again at WP Town Council management lapse. In the English broadcast, Lawrence Wong told an old one-sided story to discredit SDP, Mr Chee.  Sim and Lawrence resemble smiling tigers.

Basically this year PAP election strategies can be summarised as follow :

1) evoke past memories of the good old days, as the first decade after our independence where we did remarkably well.  Please lah - we have eyes to see how we have deteriorated over the recent decade!

2) non-stop milking of a dead politician - after been bombarded 24/7 for the whole week with his image/voice after his passing, his image and voice still haunt us over the media every day. Hello - not everyone respect or like him lah.  For those who do, there is no need to over milk, as even live cow will dry up, and this is a dead one!  For those who don't buy into the story of this dead man sold by PAP, it is a real turn off.

3) spreading millions all around in the name of subsidy and SG 50 celebration goodies. This is an old trick, we the citizens are familiar with.  Thus, it effectiveness is in doubt for alternate parties supporters. For PAP supporters, no need to waste so much money as a package of chicken rice will do.

4) the fear factor - so we have the Chan and Lawrence telling us during the broadcast of economy and financial threats, terrorist threat,....... But do they not realise what we fear most is one party dominance which resulted in abuse of power, legalising everything from their own million $ salary, controlling our CPF money, throwing teenage into jail,  ......the list can go on and on.

5) mud slinging -  every PAP politician who goes on air or speak to media will take pot shot at WP.  From the broadcast, looks like they will throw more mud at other alternate parties too.  They have done that in the past pretty successfully. But in this age of internet, it may back fire.  Perhaps they should remember that those who throw muds have dirty hands too.

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Medishield Life is still CRAP

When the govt spend so much time, effort and money to brain wash us, you get a sense things are not rosy and we will be paying a heavy price for it. Remember the recent 'fun pack' with all the hype around it? It turned out to be crap, so much so the collection period has been extended (too many left overs) and some grassroot has taken to adding more items to the standard crappy pack to entice folks to collect them.

Medishield is crap and Medishield Life is no different. The many shortcomings of Medishield have not been resolved. The only good thing about Medishield Life is the universal coverage for all citizens regardless age and medical condition. BUT the idea is not from PAP. It originates from SDP.  As usual the govt under PAP has the 'creative' ability to turn every noble scheme into a money making venture at our expense.

Let turn our attention back to the short comings of Medishield Life inherited from Medishield :

1) Heavy out of pocket payment
The sky high deductible. For class C ward (which is the lowest already) it is $1.5K for those below 80 years old and $2K for those above 80. On top of this we still have foot 10% co-payment. As our medical cost has been inflating year after year, this could be a heavy burden for low income and retiree. Some common issues for the elderly are stroke, knee and hip problems. The 90th percentile of hospital bill size for these is around $10k. With the deductible and co-payment, it could be around $3k that the patient has to pay out of his/her own pocket.

2) Many Common Aging Diseases NOT Cover
Take for example cataract which affects many elderly. It is NOT cover under Medishield. Even with the so call 'subsidy' the bill comes up to over $2.2K for both eyes on average. This has not include the pre-op and post-op fee. What is the point of universal insurance when common diseases affecting the population are not cover?

3) The Old and Healthy Are Penalised
In private medical insurance scheme, the premium is fix at joining age. We are not penalized to pay heavier premium as we grow older. The horror of Medishield scheme is that the old and healthy are penalized with heavy premium. It matters not that one has been paying all the years without claiming a single cent and your medisave a/c depleted by Medishield payment - your premium is above $1.1K once you hit 80 years old and your deductible also increases by $500 !

4) Uncertainty of future premium and cost
Unlike private insurance where the contract is binding and cost is fix at the point of joining, CPF has the greedy habit of increasing the premium across the board time and again. They will also raise the deductible. The term 'contract' has no meaning for any schemes under CPF, which are getting numerous and more complicate over the years.  This bring us to ....

5) So Complicated
The previous Medishield scheme is already so complicated. This Medishield Life scheme is giving a new life to the word COMPLICATED.

Just to know how much is our premium, we have so many factors to consider : Age (16 bands), Income (4 categories), Annual value of property you are living in and Subsidy for the first 4 years.  This subsidy thingy is so complicated because the premium has been jacked up sky high across the board. They want to pacify us but at the same time cannot forego their glee to collect as much money as early as possible from us.

Subsidy for transitional period - have to consider again age, income, pioneer or non-pioneer and then which year of subsidy :-

2015- 1st yr 90% of net premium increase (note- it is only on the increase premium), 
2016- 2nd yr 70%,
2017- 3rd yr 40%,
2018 - 4th yr 20%.

The question is WHY make it so complicated ??
There are likely 2 reasons why govt loves to complicate things. First - is that if we find it so stressful and time consuming to understand the scheme, they hope we give up and just listen to what they choose to drum into us - Hear Only The Good Things. They can then do what they like to the scheme and our CPF with 'less noise' from us.  Second - it is the way to generate more revenue from the scheme.

We know the notorious 3M (medisave, medishield and medifund) has not prevent many from 'falling' between the cracks. But it has been a good source of $$ for the govt.  The Medishield payout has always been much less than the premium collected (extremely derisory when compare to other countries public healthcare payout). Medifund set aside to help the needy has been under utilized due to govt usual stinginess. 

The coming Medishield Life premium has rocketed and likely to be delightful source of revenue for govt. The premium increase is the most for these 3 age groups :
1-20 yrs old   - 160% increase
21-30 yrs old - 195% increase
31-40 yrs old - 195 % increase

For the rest of the age group- that the increase is less than 100%. The minimum increase is 11% for those age 81 to 85. However, in monetary terms, the increase is from $80 to $355. The group suffering the highest monetary increase is the elderly from age 71 onwards. The irony is just when you are nearing to say bye bye at age 90, they rip you off the last time with a hefty 28.57% increase in your premium ($340).

In summary, it has been the trend that when we are being rip off heavily, we will be given peanuts subsidy to pacify us for the 'transitional' period.  There will be plenty of propaganda communication to paint a heavenly picture of how wonderful the scheme is.  So the rosier it is, the worst off we will be. 

BEWARE of SUBSIDY. They are in fact taking 'gold ingots' from us and giving us' peanuts' in return.

note-  the current batch of pioneer's subsidy may not be extended to seniors 65 and above age group in the future.