Saturday, December 25, 2010

Legalised Corruption

Private companies and civil service frown upon moonlighting and yet our MPs can take up directorships in private companies knowing full well there is conflict of interest. No wonder they have lost touch with ground level, too busy making money from of their 2nd, 3rd….etc jobs.

Most of them are only part time MPs and they are allow to hold on to their other profession. But many of them abuse this privilege and instead took up directorships in many companies. This shows they have so much time on their hand.

They should either put their heart into their MP job or get out. It is ridiculous to have part timers making important policies and decision on our country. No wonder we have such a large cabinet of ministers since most of them are part MPs.

This is a classical example on how our govt can be perceived as ‘clean’. They are very good in legalising abuse of power which is itself a form of corruption.

This is just an extract from Temasek Review - an online non-governmental citizen website.

MS Lee Bee Wah. Constituency, : Ang Mo Kio GRC
1.Tee International

DR Lee Boon yang :Jalan Besar GRC
1.Chairman of keppel Corp

Halimah Yacob: Jurong GRC.

Ong Ah Heng :Nee Soon Central
1.comfort Delgro

Ong Kian Min :Tampines GRC
1.Penguin Int’l,
2.GMG global,
3.Lankom Elec,4.
7.China energy,
8.Breadtalk,(formerly Osim)

Sin Boon Ann:Tampines GRC
2.MFS Tech,
3.CSE global,

Seah Kian Peng: Marine Parade GRC.
1.Heatec jietong,

Alvin Yeo: Hong Kah GRC-
1.keppel Corp,
4.Thomson medical

Yeo Guat Kwang :Aljunied GRC
3.United environtech,
4.Asia Water,

Wee Siew Kim :Ang Mo Kio GRC -
1.ES Grp,
2.SBS Transit

Chan Soo Sen : Joo Chiat
3.sunmoon,Cogent,(formerly MDR)

MDN Ho Geok Choo : West Coast GRC.
1.Select Grp

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Cult, Common Sense and Powerless

Our govt is very good at giving seemingly 'valid' reason as excuse not to diverge information that is not to their advantage. It is unsettling that they can go unchallenged and change our CPF policies till they have full control of our saving. The feeling is those money don't belong to us! Common sense has it that something is not right, yet we can't do anything except to feel powerless.

They have built a cult around 1 person and their party - which is unhealthy. Remember Alan Greenspan ? While he was Chairman of US Federal Reserve, he seemed to do no wrong. He was placed high up on the pedestal. Now on hindsight, he is 'credited' with precipitating the 2 major crisis -the tech bubble collapse in 2000 and economic meltdown in 2007.

We know even nonsensical policies can be passed which skewed statistic to make things look good. It happened in the US - Bureau of Labor Statistic (BLS) took the recommendation of Boskin Commission to use 'hedonic adjustments' which effectively made the CPI look better which in turn distorted the GDP figure. It was implemented in 1995 and only dropped a few years later ! It could happen in S'pore too.

Another famous cult builder is Chairman Mao. During his era he had implemented numerous disasterous policies and yet got away with them. His decades of absolute power over the lives of his citizens resulted in over 70 million deaths in peacetime. Even till now, he is still pretty much a cult figure in China. There is an inherent danger of having a leader and/or political party which build a cult around themselves as shield.

Even Town Council which main scope is estate management could squander away public fund doing what is suppose to be Temasek and GIC portfolio. So what is going on in Temasek and GIC is worrying since they operate like FBI, shrouded in secrecy. Remember Temasek CEO which they head hunted who left 'suddenly' just after a short period of seat warming ? The official reason is hard to believe. What could be the unofficial reason ? Perhaps he is uncomfortable with Temasek policies which he could not çhange ? Perhaps he discovered hidden skeleton which he is legally required to highlight but powerless to do so ? Or our almighty is uncomfortable with him asking too much questions ? So we have PM Lee wife back in her old seat.

Is it not common sense that it is not 'right' to have various members from the same family holding all the key and important positions in the country ? Besides, it is worrying that we too have - a cult builder with absolute power over the lives of its citizen.

Friday, December 3, 2010

PM Lee - Don't Try To Fool Us Again

PM Lee proclaimed loudly that we must maintain prudence and discipline to avoid massive welfare bureaucracy. Sigh...he should have address the issue of 'maintain prudence and discipline' to GIC, Temasek, Town Councils and even YOG organising committe instead, which 'eaten up' billions in public fund !

S'pore is in no danger of becoming a welfare state, with the bunch of uncaring ministers in the cabinet. With the exception of Ms Lily Neo who actively helped the elderly to be self sustaining. PM Lee and his cabinet will do well to learn from Ms Lily Neo if he wants to gain the respect of S'poreans.

We do not want a welfare state, we just want a caring govt who provide jobs instead of take away jobs and then loudly tell us to be self sustaining and approach our family for help if we are desperate.

Take the plight of our senior Samsui women who are the pioneer construction workers laying the foundation for S'pore. They worked hard and sent most of their earnings back to China to support their family. Now in their old aged, they are left to fend for themselves. This is just one examples. These needy folks deserve help. It is always the NGOs taking the lead, while the govt take a back seat. Should not the Govt take the lead instead and NGOs act as support group ?

There is a big different in a caring govt vs a welfare state. In fact PM Lee tried to fool us with his reasons giving Europe, case example. These have been rebuked as lies by more knowledgeable online citizens (than the PM), as their downfall has nothing to do with being a welfare state.

How to be self sustaining when jobs are not available, be it skilled or unskilled ? It is reported that in OpenNet island wide project, which requires skill labour, they employed foreigners at all levels - from contractors to sub contractors to sub-sub contractors. This give rise to problem as these foreign 'talents' are not familiar with local wiring system.

Is our govt policy on the right track ? Take away jobs from locals and create problem in the industry.

They have lie again to say that locals do not take up cleaning jobs, so we need foreigners, as this has not be substantiated by statistic which shows the unemployment rate for cleaners is high.

But now even skill jobs are also taken by foreigners. Can we trust this govt anymore ?

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Missing Strays

Two of my favourite stray cats are missing. They are so tame, could be easily caught. One is an older cat, a female which has successful given birth and brought up many litters and only recently sterilized. The other is a handsome maturing cat. He is a greedy one as he goes around eating other strays' food when he finishes his. He is told off many times other cats but that did not seems to deter him.

I hope they are not capture by pest control, which only means end of their lives. These pest control teams don't cat if the strays are sterilized or not. They just round them off. Now come to think of it, not sure how they put them down. I heard AVA cannot be trusted in putting down strays. I believe even if they are put down, it should be done humanely with as little stress as possible in the last moment.

I just hope they are taken in my kind souls. People like to pick cute kitten and not adult cats, so unlikely the older cat is adopted. The younger cat is also no longer a kitten.

Another of my concern is they are being 'eaten'. We have a change of cleaners recently. Some of them may come from countries which have no law or social repulsion against consuming cats/dogs. I heard of a case of foreign contractors catching abandon pet rabbit to cook for their meal.

I wonder if those induction courses for foreign workers touch on the topic that it is illegal to eat cats/dogs locally.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Minister or Lawyer ?

Shanmugaratnam is acting more like a lawyer intenting to 'win his case', rather than to address the concerns of public over the recent hot button issues as a Minister.

Just observe how defensive he was over Mas Selamat escape, pushing the blame to his kins harbouring him, instead of addressing the shortcoming of his own Home Affairs Ministry and the police force.

Then the cheating case by civil servants due to lapses in supervision, audit and procedural system. He thinks the problem is not wide spread even though several people were involved in the scam, lasting over many years and involving hugh sum of money. The public suspected it is the tip of an iceberg, while he just wanted to sweep it aside.

In summary - he chooses to disclose or hide information as he pleases. Don't expect any accountability, after all the famous line from our govt is 'let's move on'.

Appeal to SPCA

I attended SPCA general meeting last night. I raised some questions and could sense that the Chairperson and Committee were on the defensive side. They were polite and answered the issues raised. However I think SPCA has lapse into a complacency mode, which tends to happen to an established organisation.

Thus, I decided to write an appeal and proposal paper to them and hope they will act on it. The paper is given below :

Appeal And Proposal Paper

1) Set annual goal to reduce the number of animal put down

It is admirable that SPCA has the policy of accepting all animals that come her way. It would be more in line with the organisation name of '..Prevention of Cruelty to Animals' if SPCA sets annual goal to actively work towards the reduction of animals being put down. Euthanasia of healthy animals is still a form of cruelty. Though the public understand the reason for it is due to the organisation constrain, however it does not mean the public accepts it.

The large number of animals handed over / pick up by SPCA constitute the back end of the problem, which SPCA does her best to resolve. But if SPCA does not focus more on the sources of these issues, there is no end in sight as the rate of abandonment out pace the rate of adoption.

Therefore it is suggested that SPCA should give urgency to focus on the sources of the problem which are :

- unfriendly HDB polices towards cats and non pedigree dogs adoption. The animals are disadvantage by these policies and SPCA hands are also tied due to them
- penalty for abuse is too light and law enforcement is weak
- folks treating pets as toys
- urban children lacking contact with animals, may result in unfounded fear which leads to a lack of empathy for them.

With annual goal setting, it would drive SPCA towards planning its education / promotion activities and lobbying for support to achieve the goal of reducing the number of animals put down. It would guide the organisation to rethink its policies.

2) Funds and Expenses – more transparency

a) 2010 Financial Statement
Anyone paying attention to the SPCA 2010 Financial Statement would be alarmed that expenses went up by $166K, while fund raising activities only generated $28K. Then $13.8K was written off, which effectively wipes out 50% of your fund raising effort.

Even private organisation target at cost reduction through reducing operation expenses. Is SPCA doing similar ?

b) Remuneration and HR
SPCA staff should be rewarded for their dedication. If their salary is 10 to 20% above other charity organisations, it is perfectly acceptable. However, if the salary scale of private business organisations is used as reference, this is not acceptable. Business generates profit, while charity organisation is funded by donation.

SPCA has a HR officer, so is there HR policies regarding remuneration, job scope and responsibility ? How does SPCA justify and approve headcount ? For example, the premise and staff strength is not large, is there a need for an office attendant ?

c) Volunteer Pool
SPCA being an established organisation, has a strong volunteer pool. She is popular target for schools community development activities. SPCA could review how she could tap more effectively into the volunteer pool to compliment her work load. This could help reduce operating expenses.

d) Project & Vendor
It is disturbing to learn that SPCA is being cheated by vendor and no legal action is taken. It is not clear why SPCA accepted the vendor proposal in the first place and what action is taken against the vendor. Did SPCA report the matter to the police ? If not, what is there to prevent similar scam from happening again ? Has SPCA tighten or have in place policies for project / vendor review and approval ?

e) Investment
SPCA should aim to be self sustaining with better returns on investment. By doing so, she will have more time to focus on important issues like education and promotion of animal welfare and less time is needed for fund raising activities.

This calls into question how well managed is SPCA $7M which gives a meagre return of $117K, which is able to cover only 5 % of your total expenses of $2M.

Should not SPCA gives more attention how the Ravenscroft Trust fund is managed since she is charged $24K in management fee ?

A breakdown list on what percentage goes into Bond, Shares ..etc together with the detail list of the names of the Bonds, Shares invested in will offer more transparency to how well the Trust fund is managed.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Haze will be around as our Minister is not acting

George Yeo is in fact saying ...I am NOT going to do anything about it.

Is this the way our Minister address the its citizen concerns ?

If after so many years, the haze problem still exist - common sense have it that you change strategy to address it.

Funds have been wasted in helping Indonesia with her problem and all the ineffective high level talks year after year - basically, they don't work.

Time to wake up and do something more constructive and stop hoping that being a good neighbour will solve the problem.

The fact is S'pore did NOT try hard enough. There should be NO limit what we can do for the health of our citizens and for the good of the environment.

The problem is our minister is so negative that he sets a limit to what he can do ! No wonder the haze problem is still around.

By all means, have the guts and take up the leadership to band ASEAN countries together to take international action against Indonesian.

I am sure even ordinary Indonesian citizens will be grateful for it as they are suffering more than us. Only the few rich plantation owners will not welcome the move.

Looks like it only takes a few rich powerful people to stop govt from doing what it right and good for its people. Sigh .....

Blood Is Thicker Than Water

The saying, 'Blood is thicker than water' is the reason Mas Selamat's kins helped in his escape. Thus, 'Kin's acts don't reflect on the community' should have been 'Kin's acts is a possible reflection of all communities'

Human nature is the same regardless of race, we know it is wrong yet we still do it. Thus, we have compulsive gamblers, drug addicts.. being help by their families to clear their dept and support their addition. Often the family members themselves need help in order for them to do the right thing from becoming victims themselves.

It is the norm that when we are in trouble we turn to those closest to us - our family for help. Therefore the question is - did not the Home Affairs and the police foresee this after Mas Selamat escape ? I recalled it being reported that 'if he is still in S'pore, he will be caught'. He was in S'pore for many days after his escape, and the troubling thing is, he was in fact hiding in his kin's flat and yet our police officers did not spot him in spite of the extensive island wide search conducted.

Does this not call into question the security system of our country ?

Lesson from the humble strays

In my previous post, I was saying that we can learn a lesson on living in harmony from the stray cats.

There is also a lesson on assertiveness vs aggressiveness which strays displayed.

From my observation, tabby cats are assertive which don't get them into trouble. Tom cats are aggressive, which get them into trouble.

Due to the increasing number of abandon cats around the area, tabby cats have been observed to be territorial. This assertive behaviour is for survival as food is hard to come by.

Tabby cat will emit warning sound and at time charge at another cat coming into her territory, but she does not go into a fight. Whereas a tom cat will fight it out and continue to give chase even when the other cat retreats. Sigh - they end up with serious wounds and battle scars.

It is sad to note that most abandon cats are the old, unsterilized tom cats. These pet owners are heartless and irresponsible as these unsterilized toms will create more problem by increasing the strays population. These folks reflect the ugly side of humanity.

Civil Service Cheating Case

Shanmugaratnam is too quick to dismiss the concern expressed by MPs that there could be systemic problem in civil service procurement procedure. The government recent habit of taking up defensive position whenever hiccups happened is only doing the country a disservice.

If Infocomm Development Authority (IDA) has been tasked to draw up the scope of audit for procurement, it only means such guidelines did not exist prior to this cheating incident by Singapore Land Authority (SLA) officers.

How then can Shanmugaratnam claimed that 'appropriate rules and safeguards for public sector procurement' ? Besides it is not a one off crime spree, but it involved large sum of money over many years and more than one officers are charged. If this don't ring a serious alarm bell in the cabinet, we the public are really concern.

Adding layers of bureaucracy is not the solution, this we agree. But the issue is, it common in the civil service to have thick layer of red tape which does nothing in making the system more robust as these procedures are not effective in the first play. The recent cheating incident in SLA is evident in itself.

Therefore the solution is to review the whole procedure system and stop just plugging the hole when it appears. By doing so it will only lead to less efficiency with more procedures pile on top of existing weak policies.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Lesson On Harmony

Last Sunday, I brought my 9 years old nephew along with me during my morning round of saying hello to the strays and giving them their 'breakfast'.

Individual cat has its own 'patch' of cat biscuits given to it. There is a family of 3 cats which are happy eating together. The 2 kitties which have reached adulthood still hang around with their mother.

Then there are 2 ginger colour ones, one of which is a growing kitty unrelated to the adult female which eat together. When we approached the 3rd group of 2 male cats, the dominating one refused to let the other male eat, though they were some distant away from each other. He rather forgo his own food and pick a fight with the other cat. Both Tom cats were in bad shape, with wound marks. In the end, both did not touch their food as they were too busy quarreling.

I took this opportunity to talk to my nephew on living in harmony and sharing. Somehow this cat incident brings to mind the recent cases of gang fight in Singapore which resulted in serious injury and fatality.

Cats are like human - some are more tolerant than others.

The dominant cat is sterilised while the other male is not. I wonder if the Tom is really sterlised or someone cut his ear to give the impression he is ? Why is he so aggressive ? Could it be there is a difference in aggressive behaviour if the cat is sterilised before its 1st year and when it is done in its adulthood ? Or perhaps the method of sterilisation, tying the sperm ducts vs removal of the testicles ?

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Final questions to SingPost

SingPost did not answer the question as to how much of their revenue is derive from junk mails. They are not addressing the issue and gave standard answers.

SingPost has failed in their social responsibility as they are indirectly causing the massive littering problem in all HDB estates due to the tons of junk mails being dumped into letter boxes.

Besides they are not supporting the green movement as they are encouraging business to advertise through printed paper instead of using internet and web base advertising.

HDB spent money to upgrade the letter boxes so that they could be lock up to discourage junk mails. This shows that most residents do not like junk mails.

SingPost - if you want to convince the public - do a survey and provide us with evidence and statistic to support your claim.

Why did HDB upgrade the letter box to enable the locking feature then ? Is this not wasting of public fund if SingPost insist upon delivering junk mails to us ?

May I suggest you audit your poster delivery staff to see if they are earning extra income delivery junk mails besides those ''offical junk'' mails assigned to them by SingPost

I suspect the tons of daily junk mails may be contributed by postal staff doing side line work.

SingPost is socially irresponsible and this only harm its corporate image. Look at the feedback and we know HDB residents do NOT like junk mails. It is ridiculous for SingPost to keep asking resident to write in to opt out of junk mails. SingPost should STOP all the spamming instead !

SingPost is the direct cause of vendors who have no access to lock postal boxes to leave all their advertising leftlets at the doorstep individual flat unit which post a security risk. When home owners are on holiday, these uncollected leaflets are an indicator that no one is at home - this is SECURITY RISK to home owners.

SingPost is causing so much problems and yet it is blinded by profit to keep igorning feedback. They should stop giving lame excuses for their social irresponsibility.

Reply from SingPost

Typical reply which does not address feedback nor answer questions posed.

SingPost Reply by Patsie Tan Assistant Vice-President, Corporate Communications Singapore Post Limited

As a postal service provider, SingPost is obligated to deliver all mail, addressed and unaddressed, that meets the required standards for acceptance. This includes Admail, which is a service provided by postal organisations the world over.

Admail provides consumers with information, choices and offers on products and services. Feedback from residents has indicated that maildrops of promotional offers and savings-coupons enable them to purchase items at preferred pricing (for example consumer goods like detergents), while some residents enjoy reading free magazines/annuals as they are kept informed of the latest trends and ideas.

For businesses, Admail is a viable option to reach out to their customers in a cost-effective and targeted way, supplementing other advertising media like newspapers and TV advertisements.

Government agencies have also found Admail an effective tool to reach out to the general population particularly in the dissemination of information and material in their war against Sars, dengue and bird flu.

SingPost is one of several companies in Singapore that deliver Admail. Many appreciate and patronise the products and services being promoted in these Admail and would not consider such material "junk". Residents who do not wish to receive Admail can call our hotline to be delisted under the mail preference option.

Moving forward, SingPost is working towards more targeted Admail so that residents receive materials that are more aligned to their lifestyle patterns. Such an arrangement will streamline what the recipient gets which will be things they find more useful and attractive.

Can SingPost exercise Social Responsibility

In recent years, there have been feedback regarding SingPost role in spamming HDB mail boxes with junk mails. Their standard reply is that if we do not want to be spam, we have to write in to them. Where is the logic? They are acting irresponsibily and also being a public nuisance by stuffing junks into our letter boxes daily.

Have SingPost collected statistic on the percentage of junk mails delivered per day ? From my own statistic, and I am confident it applies to other HDB residents as well, junk mails make up more than 50% of our daily mail.

Is SingPost deriving a large percentage of their revenue from delivering junk mail? If not why the reluctant to act on feedback from residents ?

Their action is contributing to the terrible littering situation around the letter box area. From my observation, it is not intentional littering. Our letter boxes are so full of junk mails that they fell off from the pile of mails when residents retrieve them. The bin next to the letter boxes is usually fill to the 'brim'. This only reflects the large quantity of junk mails stuff into our letter boxes daily.

SingPost action does not support the environmental green movement. They are encouraging and indirectly promoting unfriendly advertising method. Has profit blinded their social responsibility ?

Thursday, September 16, 2010

YOG - wayang show on Budget

All these questions raised in Parliament would not shade light on what went wrong with the YOG (Youth Olympics Game) budget. Just another wayang show put up to pacify the public.

I notice that the 79.8 million under Miscellaneous item was not reported in 'Today' newspaper. This figure is reported in 'MyPaper'. Why did 'Today' not captured the figure in their reporting of the YOG breakdown list ?

79.8 million is the 2nd highest amount in the breakdown list. What consitute Miscellaneous ? Why so much of the budget went to Miscellaneous ? Normally it should consitute a small amount not such a large percentage of the total fund. There need to be a detail breakdown on what is Miscellaneous.

In fact, each of the listed items has to have a detail report on where the spending went. Just having a breakdown list tell us nothing if there is misused of fund.

I have personally witness wastage while working in a school which is one of those hosting YOG. Buying lots of unnecessary items and then leaving them to gather dust. It could be small ticket item but if purchase in bulk, the amount could be substantial. Besides many small ticket items add up to alot of money.

This is one area where fund could be misused, due to poor execution and lack of check and balance.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Can SingPost stop spamming us with junk mails

In recent years, there have been feedback regarding SingPost role in spamming HDB mail boxes with junk mails. Their standard reply is that if we do not want to be spam, we have to write in to them. Where is the logic? They are acting irresponsibily and also being a public nuisance by stuffing junks into our letter boxes daily.

Have SingPost collected statistic on the percentage of junk mails delivered per day ? From my own statistic, and I am confident it applies to other HDB residents, junk mails make up more than 50% of our daily mail.

Is SingPost deriving a large percentage of their revenue from delivering junk mails? If not why the reluctant to act on feedback from residents ?

Their action is contributing to the terrible littering situation around the letter box area. From my observation, it is not intentional littering. Our letter boxes are so full of junk mails that they fell off from the pile of mails when residents retreive them. The bin next to the letter boxes is usually fill to the 'brim'. This only reflects the large quantity of junk mails stuff into our letter boxes daily.

SingPost action does not support the environmental green movement. They are encouraging and indirectly promoting unfriendly advertising method. Has profit binded their social responsibility ?

Friday, September 10, 2010

Japaness Movie Showcase at OKTO

OKTO channel is running a series of Japaness award winning movies on Sunday at 10pm. It kicked off with a movie title In School with a Pig or something to that effect last week. (pardon my memory)

Interesting movie with a simple storey line. The form teacher of 6 graders came out with this idea of teaching his class about life. He suggested to rear a pig and eating it before they graduate from school. The class was receptive and he got permission from the school principal for the project. The Vice Head was opposed to the idea as pig rearing involved lots of work. What about a chicken ? But this guy insisted on a pig or nothing else as lesson in life must be challenging.

As expected, the children grew to love the pig and it became the class pet. The first hint of trouble to come was when they gave it a name : P-Chan. Some of them braved a stormy night to return to school to ensure the pig was ok. They ate less during meal time so that there would be more left over food which they saved for their pig.

The 1st half of the movie was pretty humorous with parents getting upset that their child returning home smelling of pig shits. Ok they clean up the holding pen, feed it...doing everything and more ...including knitting a scarve to keep it warm and decorating its pen during Christmas.

The 2nd half of the movie is pretty thought provoking. The class changed their mind and did not want the pig kill. So there were many heated class debated what to do with it as they would be leaving the school after graduation. The debate got more emotional as days went by with students crying and furry fights due to disagreement. They voted on a few occassions but session ended with half the class for and the other against.

The arguments they came out with are time enduring and there is no right nor wrong answer to them. Examples :

We need food for survival, so eating meat is ok.
P-Chan is not any pig, it is a pet, how could we eat it - it is just not right.
It is not responsible to leave P-Chan in the school as we are not here to look after it after graduating.
We should look after P-Chan till end of its life.
It had a good life for the year, it would be killed and eaten anyway by now, if it is not kept by our class.

The tilt of the vote balance rested with the teacher who casted the last vote and the class accepted the decision. In the end, P-Chan was sent to the meat center though the students did not eat it. A teary farewell with each student giving the pig its favourite food - tomato.

It is truly an education journey for the kids - life full of tough decision to make some of which can be rather cruel.

Lasksa & Secret Recipe

It is heartening to learn that the local arm of Secret Recipe (a chain of eatery specialising in cakes and their award winning lamp stew) is starting a new set up to help special needs adults. These folks are currently train and help by various NGOs (non-government organisations) and homes. They will be offer employment in the factory kitchen of the new food chain set up by Secret Recipe.

The CEO of local Secret Recipe, Ms Sim Sin Sin is setting up a chain of eatery in various foodcourts and shopping centers to sell laska - one of S'pore favourite dishes. What makes them outstanding is that they will be offering different types of laska from all over Asia which promise to be a mouth watering rewarding experience for laska lovers. The first in S'pore (though their outlets in Malaysia are already doing it)

The stall name is Laskania (in Hokkien, it means it sells only laska). Do patronise them to statisfy your laska craving. Besides you will be helping Ms Sim in her effort to offer employment to these folks. Being independent do wonder for their self esteem. Let us all do our part to let them stand on their own feet. Eat laska all you can (without compromising your health) or at least once a week at Laskania ! Even if you are not into Laska, give it a try, you may change your mind.

So look out for Laskania openning day - akang datang (likely end of this year)

We do NOT want a population of 6.5 millions !

As it is, crossing the population mark of 5 millions has seen great deterioration to the quality of life in S'pore. 6.5 millions is plain ridiculous as it is unstainable.

Overcrowding induces stress. We have seen it breaking out in the form of voices of unhappiness over foreign work force. S'poreans used to welcome our foreign friends with open arms. What is happening now is the doing of unwise govt policies. It happens in the natural world. Even same species of animals can turn aggressive against their own kind, (not to mention other species) when there is over crowding and shortage of food and space.

Do a thorough study and stop pushing for the target of 6.5 million. Situitions may have change. But more likely is that there were alot of factors the govt missed out during their conception plan for population growth. Adjust the policy instead of aiming blindly for the target set. Reduce and cap the population to below 5 million mark. The immigration numbers, PR and new citizenship should be adjusted annually based on birth and death rate.

Likely in the next decade, we will have emigration policies to encourage people to leave the country due to overcrowding and lack of housing. The target of such policies will probably be senior citizens - after all our govt always harbour fear of a welfare state and have been very practical to the point of being heartless. The elderly are consider non-productive thus not contributing to the growth spur which the govt has been chasing blindly over the years. So they will be given incentive - a token lump sum to sell their home and stay in a retirement home in our neighbouring country where it is a join venture business between S'pore and our neighbour. The local vacated flat will be the new home of the younger generation as they have difficulty getting housing due to over demand. So the govt is using one stone to kill 3 birds. Reduce senior population, tie over housing shortage and getting elderly into parting with their money by buying into govt retirement home venture.

Unlikely ? It could happen as we have seen lots of policies force down our throat over the years. In spite of our hugh reserve, when it comes to helping its citizen, the govt has been very cautious or rather 'stingy'. The budget amount on healthcare, education for special need children and public welfare is a small fraction of the billions Tamesak, GIC and the various Town Councils had lost over unwise investments. They think nothing of losing public fund on high risk ventures but very adverse to helping its own citizen.

They are famous in giving out token 'any pow' near election time. To buy the 'vote' in the guise of 'reward' or 'sharing' or some other nice sounding words to cover up their real intention.

Enough is enough. We the citizen can see through all these hypocratic acts.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

We are not convinced !

This is with regards to PM rally speech whereby he insisted that we would continue to need more foreigners for the good of the nation.

Our forefathers are immigrants, we have no issue with foreigners. It is the govt policies that we disagree with. Our forefathers came here when population was sparse. They were the ‘builders’ of our nation.

Things are different now. We have limited land and population has grown tremendously. We can feel the squeeze in all aspects of our life at ground level. We are not convinced the current policies will do the country any good in the future. It will likely result in more problems. Statistical model can be wrong, just as they got in wrong last time when they curbed population growth so successfully that they are now doing a drastic U-turn.

The reason that we need foreigners to take up jobs which locals shun, is repeated so often that it has become a self-fulfilling prophecy. With so much negative connotations injected, they have in fact indirectly discouraged locals from taking them up.

Instead, they should have redesigned the jobs, upgrade the skill and promote them actively. By taking the easy way out with mass influx of immigrants, they have broken the rice bowl of their own ‘family’ members. Our ‘uncles and aunties’ who used to be working at these jobs cannot compete with the young foreign workers.

Stop giving us lame excuses. We have heard enough and are tired of all these repeated broadcasts. Work on the problem at its root cause instead. Surface decorations which are dish out at PM's rally will not make the issues go away.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Car Park Woes link to Unsustainable Population Growth

Seems like all the suggestions given in feedback columns of various newspapers and online discussion are more effective than what HDB comes up with, which is to increase the night parking charges from $2 to $4 to solve the car park shortage problem. Increased of about $60 per month in the night parking will not deter drivers. Perhaps it only offers a 'favorable' opportunity for HDB to increase parking fee instead.

Besides COE, there are many others polices and measures in place to curb car population over the years. Looks like all these policies are not effective since the car population has continued to increase substantially. So what has gone wrong?

Shortage of parking space is interconnected to other issues which are surfacing – over crowed trains and buses, increase in housing cost, .....etc which are ultimately link to an unsustainable population growth.

Lack of foresight and inefficient planning, weak policies implementation and over reliance on reactive instead of preventive measures...are all accumulating and surfacing as problems one after another.

Our COE quota drastic reduction recently is clear indication of not acting early until the problem has escalated. Then fire fighting begins.

HDB has to link up with other government bodies for a long term solution to the car population woes. Don't just patch up hole when it appears. Temporary solution will only result in serious 'leakages' in the near future.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Abandoned Animals and Babies

Some kind soul is setting up sanctuary house for abandoned babies. Its project person lamented that more is done for abandoned animals than babies.

But there must be a fair basis for comparison. SPCA reported an aveage of 10,000 abandoned animals annually. This is excluding those pick up by AVA and strays still struggling to survive out there. In contrast, the sanctuary has 50 abandoned babies todate.

Of course abandoned animals need more resources to help. Even if we take the lower figure of 10K abandon animals, the number of unwanted babies is just 0.5% of it.

Our birth rate is so low, all babies should be welcome by the govt, regardless of their status. Let the govt do its part for the babies since they are so slack regarding animals welfare. They are also not doing enough for our homeless. Instead of helping them, they are chasing them away from their temporary campsites. NGOs are the ones helping these folks.

Now - these babies could be moulded to be their future model citizens. Is this not what they want ? So do more for these poor babies instead of pushing it to NGOs again.

Moral Authority

Wong K S is not the best person to speak about moral authority. A terrorist escaped from our high security detention center due to lapse in basic security measures right under his nose.

Where is his moral authority when he let those in lower rank take the rap, while he ditched out lame excuses ?

Besides a person is innocent until proven guilty. Mr Shadrake is only being investigated, so why is Wong K S accusing him of malicious attack and undermining public confidence ? Besides, we are famous for winning defamation cases, so why is the Attorney-General asking for an apology to drop the case ? Perhaps there are truths in Mr Shadrake's research ?

Mistrial of cases do happen in other countries. It can happen in S'pore too. If it does, it is good that it is being flushed out instead of being cover up forever. Why is our govt afraid of hearing the truth ? Any truth should be welcome as it gives us opportunities to right a wrong and improve the system.

To understand more go to this link :

An extract from the article ....on Mr Shadrake's book Once a Jolly Hangman (it is banned in S'pore)

"He documents worrying instances of judges actually calling into doubt the culpability of the accused in their judgments and then going on to impose capital punishment. He tells of cases where differential sentences are handed down relative to the wealth or power of the perpetrator or their family. In one case involving a non-citizen, he suggested that her government’s threat to create economic discomfort for Singapore swayed the trial. In another case, he wrote, compelling evidence was heard from a policeman himself under investigation, and later convicted, of monstrous corruption. He also relates further cases where the mandatory nature of the death penalty binds the hands of the judges regardless of the perpetrator’s youth or clear potential for reform."

Thursday, July 22, 2010

'Extraordinary' rainfall ? Really ?

So now MM has to step forward to try to convince the public to accept another lame excuse - 'extraordinary' rainfall.

Sorry,MM, we are don't buy this one either. It is just a another word to replace :
- once in 50 years
- freak
- unstable weather
- debris
-......etc, etc

It is human fault and NOTHING to do with Mother Nature.

Likely it is the barrage itself couple with drainage management issues and even direct human error. PUB already acknowledge it is due to undercapcity drainage system. If it is so, why is it under design ? This is one of the most serious mistake and very costly too. More tax payers' money needs to pump in for corrective action. How can we be assure they can get it right this time?

This is what happen when number one comes out with what he thought is a great idea, no one dares oppose him. So millions spent on another S'pore iconic project to constuct the barrage. Likely the barrage is one of the teething problems causing the recent series of floods.

Must save face at all cost, let the truth be hidden. Continue using different words to blame Mother Nature.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Risky Spa

"It helps consumers determine which companies are less risky to sign up with" said an executive being interviewed, regarding compulsory insurance scheme for accredited spa operators.

So signing up for spa package is a risky undertaking. First it is housing agents cheating clients, then private education industry running off with students' money. Now it is the spa industry.

Are we becoming a country full of con men/women ?

How stupid and cruel can one get

An advertising agency in Russian came out with this stupid and cruel idea of parachuting a donkey down as their promotion gimmick to popularize a beach resort as a holiday destination.

The donkey was screeching in fear all the way down and nearly drown upon landing. It is so cruel to traumatize the poor animal. This is advertising idea at its worst.

It also send shock wave to those holiday makers at the beach. Children were crying in fear hearing the heart rending screams of the donkey. Any pleasant memory of the beach is shattered forever.

How stupid and cruel some people can be.

Car Buffet

Folks are paying more than $10K just to have a 'car buffet' - being able to drive a fleet of luxury cars consisting of Lamborghini, Bentley, after another for a day.

I suppose if you cannot own one, it is another way of getting to sit in them for a while if you don't mind the $10k

Construction of more cycling paths

Millions will be pour into the construction of more cycling paths. Perhaps this is because our public transport system is to heavily tax that the government is desperate to look into any alternative that comes to mind.

How to cycle all over when S'pore weather is so hot and humid? It will defeat the green movement if we save on energy but jack up water consumption.

Even should we do cycle to work, we will be sticky and sweaty. This is not a conducive condition to start the day. So will the govt be encouraging companies to provide bathing facilities for staff?

Are they leading by example by providing such facilities at all their ministries? Will they be actively encouraging those in civil service to cycle to work?

Could our ministers and MPs also lead by examples by forgoing their private cars and take to cycling during cabinet meetings?

Likely this million dollar project will promote cycling as sport and form of exercise, but will not be successful as an alternative solution to our pubic transportation woes. Even if taken as a form of exercise, there are only certain hours suitable for cycling. Try doing it under the blazing sun, one may end up with heat stroke or higher probability of skin cancer.

Will we be ever told the truth ?

We need external auditors and/or consultant to get to the root cause of the flood incidents. PUB and the govt have lost their credibililty as they have been giving lame excuses and half truth over the matter. It is easily to make sweeping statement like it has nothing to do with the barrage. Where is the supporting evidence ?

If the Marine Barrage is the cause of the flood, it will be too embarrassing for them and unlikely we will ever get wind about it. After all it is one of the latest 'show case' of our nation, costing millions.

Now our Minister is blaming it on the 'unstable' weather. Likely he has never heard of the saying : Unpredictable as the weather. What is the purpose of planning and designing for redundancy if our relatively new drainage system is found to be under capacity ? Who is the govt body approving the design of the drainage system ?

Investigation is getting to all the root causes of the matter. It is not about coming up with more excuses and trying to point fingers in another direction to distract from being accountable and responsible.

PUB will be installing more flood sensors to give early warning. But exactly how much time people have for flood preparation is not mention. What is the purpose of all these sensors if the preparation time is not sufficient ?

Besides, flood warning system is not preventive measure - it is reactive. Having more sensors may result in more false alarms. When people hear the cry of wolves too often, they may not react when the real wolves come.

It will also jack up maintenance cost. Should there be frequent false alarm, it could cause public inconvenient. Low standard of investigation done will only result in inefficiency and ineffectiveness when addressing the flood problem, as the root causes are not address.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

PUB eating their own words

The official reason given by PUB for the flood in Orchard road was clogged drains due to littering. Then our PM parroted this 'excuse' when making his long delay official statement on the event, which eroded his credibility.

Now PUB does a reverse turn and said that debris only "worsened the flood but did not cause it''. So they finally realize that the public is not buying into their lame excuses. Besides, it reflects their foolishness in making such a statement which gets another govt agency into deep shit. If there is so much accumulation of debris, then NEA officers must be sleeping on their job. PUB has actually redirected the blame to NEA, which is the environmental enforcement agency. Well, we can only guess what happen behind the scene, NEA and PUB 'fighting' amongst themselves.

PUB now puts the blame on the canals not having enough capacity to drain all the water. Why don't they be upfront and say it is under designed instead ? Just beating around the bushes to avoid accountability.

Should it have been a building that is under designed for its load carrying capacity, it would have collapse. The consequences could be very serious.

Under designed of any public infrastructure or facilities should be investigated. It cost millions to construct them and now millions more needed to 'improve' them. Is not our drainage system at Orchard area relatively new ?

The flood in Orchard road has cause massive losses to businesses. S'poreans are so 'tame'. Those folks who have suffered financial losses should have group together to sue the government.

Only then will serious investigation into the root cause(s) be done and the public could have a glimpse into the true facts reveal at the court hearing. If not, all we will ever hear is what they choose to reveal to us.

Another FIRST for S'pore - Death by Hanging

S'pore govt loves to be 1st in everything. So now we are number one in terms of the highest per capital execution rates in the WORLD ! Sigh...

Yes, those who committed serious crime need to be punished. But life imprisonment would be a better option. Let those who have committed unforgivable crime have a life time to reflect on their wrong doing and hopefully contribute back to society while serving their life sentences.

Execution carries the danger that should a mistake be made, any injustice done will be irreversible as the person has been put to death. We know that it does happen.

Besides death by hanging is so barbaric. Lethal injection has been used in other parts of the world. Why is S'pore still hanging prisoners ? Is it because it is the cheapest method or they are so lazy to change the law ?

An executioner at Changi Prison said he has executed around 1000 men from 1959 to 2006 ! I wonder how a person could live with so many lives ended at his hands. Perhaps he gets immunized against it after being on the job for sometime ? Or perhaps the order to kill is from the authority and so he is just following orders, and this relieves him of emotional burden.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

A Peace Loving Feline

They said neutralized tom cats are not so aggressive. But from my observation, some tom cats are just 'peace loving' even though they are not sterilized.

They are 'wise' as they have found out the secret of happiness - that living in harmony with other felines is better than fighting it out either for territory or tabby cats. It is not that they are weak, it is their peace loving nature. Even their facial features reflect a 'sea of calmness'.

On the other hand, those aggressive tom cats never look good. They either have fierce feature, started or haggard look. They normally have wounds and scars. Those which have been losing feline battles look real pathetic and seems to have lost all their cat confident. I have seen one over the hill tom cat with battle scars that was 'told off' by a youngest just coming out of its 'kittenhood'.

There is this large stray tom which would let another stray eat its food. Even when the other cat behave aggressively ....he just calming walk away. But the aggressor was not satisfied and continued its attack. Well, Mr Calm turned around utter a loud warning, rush forward ....Mr Aggressor fled for dear life. Mr Calm did not fight but he is imposing in his own way when pushed to his limit.

I have a tom cat (used to be a stray). He is 10 years old, consider a ripe old age for a feline. He has never been involved in a fight. He still looks pretty good compare to those aggressive stray toms which are much younger than him. You might say he is a pet, so it is not fair to compare him with a stray. But then our Mr Calm is a stray cat. In fact, Mr Calm is one of the most dignify and confident strays I ever come across. Nothing seems to ruffle his feather, I mean fur.

So if we want to be happy and look good, be peace loving and calm. Aggression does not resolve issue but likely create more problems. Just like what Gandhi said : An eye for an eye, only leads to the world of the blind.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Inconsiderate Tenant

My current tenant is nightmare. She is so bad temper that the last straw came when she threatened to punch my mother who is in her seventies. I told her to move out by end of the month.

She has been with us for only 6 months and it has been worrying time for my family. She is a walking safety and security hazard. When she bathes or does any washing in the toilet, the kitchen floor is also wet. There are times it is literally 'flooded' with water and we could not figure out how it could happen. This is because we have place mats and rags outside the bathroom to 'trap' water. Slippery wet floor is a hazard for my elderly mum. We try explaining to her to mop up if she wet the floor and this started her unhappiness as she seems to take feedback personally.

She will leave electric appliances such as heater, fan....still switch on when she leaves for work for the day. Domestic appliances, unlike industrial equipment are not meant for continuous heavy usage. It can overheat and start a fire. If one is unlucky, the electrical switch breaker may not activate and we know fire is merciless.

Then main door is left openned - not sure if it is intentional or forgetfulness. Now we are so worry we make sure someone is at home if not we will have house break-in with such a tenant.

There has never been any issue with my previous tenants who are considerate. They were with us much longer and moved out to be nearer to their work place or share a room with their friends/relative. This is the first time I have asked a tenant to leave.

My previous tenants and my mum got along fine. Mum enjoyed pampering them with her home brew soup and food. I suppose it basically boils down to common sense and consideration when living under the same roof. Simple thing like if you mess up, you clean up. She can leave toothpaste and shampoo stains all over the bath room. They are not only unsightly strains but also slippery hazard.

Initially we give her the benefit of doubt that it could be unintentional forgetfulness. But when her messy and unsafe acts keep up its flow, it is the act of an inconsiderate person who could not understand the impact of her actions on others.

At first my mum would quietly 'pick up' after her. But there is a limit to all these and she began to feedback to her what she has done, hoping things could improve for the better.

Sigh ..this only started her door slamming session. And then this morning, she wanted to punch my mum when mum told her she has left the heater switch on again. Sigh....A woman in her late twenties, still so immature and lack of self control.

Unlike my previous tenants who are normally in after work and during the weekends, this aggressive one is seldom in. But her water usage is consistently exceptionally high, our monthly water consumption has ballooned to 4 times after she moved in. It has not happened before with previous tenants and we thought there is something wrong with the water meter. Then we realize it is due to her habit of turning the surrounding into swimming pool whenever she does her chores. This solves the mystery of the 'flooded' kitchen and high water usage.

It will be a relief when she moves out. I would need to do careful screening of potential tenant in the future. There are personality questionnaires for job application candidates. Wonder if anyone has designed one for tenant selection. It would be useful to sieve out walking time bomb before they move in and become a nightmare.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Cat , Butterfly and Mosquitoes

I saw a cute tabby at the void deck. Just as I was stroking it, it freezed, stared hard at something in the distant...and then dash off. It spotted a 'prey'. It was a white butterfly fluttering very close to the ground.

The tabby caught it and was rolling on the ground with it in a playful mood. When I went nearer, it left its prey and went about grooming itself.

It has been years since I saw a butterfly in HDB estate. This is after NEA started they frequent insecticide spraying exercise to eliminate dengue mosquitoes. They managed to eliminate all other 'useful' insects but not the harmful mosquitoes. In fact, they indirectly help in the creation a 'stronger' species of mosquitoes which are more resilient to insecticide.

They have since realised their mistaken in taking a short cut easy approach to dengue management control. Lucky for us, as who knows what will happen to our lungs and health with so frequent exposure to poisonous fume if they had continued with their spraying.

The insecticide spray was so intense and heavy that it penetrated the upper floors even though it was done at ground level. I am staying on the ninth floor, but whenever they did the spraying, I had to close all the windows in order to prevent choking on the fume.

...Back to the white butterfly. I have never seen a totally white butterfly before. Normally they are coloured. Likely it was already injured before being caught by the tabby. It was hovering at floor level which made it easy for the cat to catch it.

The poor butterfly had its wings torn and could hardly lift itself up from the ground. I knew what I should do in order not to prolong its suffering from an ultimate slow death which awaited it. But it is hard to terminate something that looked so pure, fragile and harmless. I did it anyway. I rather feel guilty and uneasy than avoid doing the right thing. I have wrote about euthanasia in my previous blog.

Now back to the cat. We cannot blame it. It is just doing what comes naturally - hunting its prey. Well, folks have been accusing stray cats of not 'earning' its keep (wonder since when a stray needs to earn its keep ? It is a stray after all, who is keeping it?). They said strays are so well fed that they do not hunt rats. These folks never care for the strays, how did they know how much the cats eat ?

Just because they see rats around, it does not mean the strays do not hunt them. We have a police force, but there are still criminals around. So does it mean our police officers are not doing their job ? Besides, it is NEA and Town Council responsibility to eliminate rats. They have so many advance pest control equipment, if they can't do it, why blame the strays?

Rats exist because of food - litters left by human. Rats don't exist because strays are not catching them. So we human has to clean up our act instead of blaming the cats.

Cats natural instinct is to hunt. They may not eat their prey, but they will still hunt. Just like the tabby I saw.

Betting on an Octopus prediction

Looks like soccer fans are going nuts. They are looking towards an octopus, named Oracle to tell them which team / country is winning the next match.

If Oracle chooses the container of food which has their favourite team flag on it, they are in jubilation and Oracle could look forward to more meaty dinner as reward.

Sadly, through no fault of our poor octopus, if he chooses to eat from the 'wrong' container, his fate is precarious, as unhappy fans wanted him for their dinner instead.

This just shows people want to 'hear' what they like. Makes no different even if it is coming from an octopus.


I heard this joke ... likely it carries some truth in it, that any company stock Temasek buys into, we better do the reverse and sell it off, if we have it.

Looks like Temasek disastrous investment losses in recent years have left its mark on ordinary citizens.

It is reported in the papers that Temasek net profit fell 26%, while its portfolio value hit 186 million. It is currently aggressively investing in high risk areas, such as mining business. Looks like it has not learn its lesson inspite of the massive losses.

In the same article, its executive director claims that Temasek is a long term investor and does not enter and exit markets the way a fund does. Long term investor and not a fund? Is not Temasek together with GIC is S'pore's sovereign wealth fund (SWF)? Temasek actions do not support its claims. It has invested in trouble financial institutions giving the reason that it is looking at long term future of those companies. However, within a short period of time, Temasek let go of them like hot potatoes just when valuation was picking up. Temasek has been widely criticised for its poor investment strategy and timing. Besides, there has been no accountability over the whole incident from its CEO, Ho Chin.

As Temasek is one of the investment arms of the country's public fund, should not it be more cautious, especially after the painful losses ? The public is looking for consistent and sustainable returns on public money used in investment. Not excessive risk taking for sky rocket profit and the next moment chalking up billions in losses which wipe out previous years gains.

It is also reported that Temasek is not actively searching for a new CEO to replace Ho Chin. Why ?

In fact the mystery as to the real reason behind the sudden departure of the previous CEO Mr Charles Goodyear has never been resolved. Likely it wishes to avoid another similar situation. You can get away once from explaining the exit of a high profile CEO, but not twice.

After all Temasek's company investment policies and operation are not that transparent. It would unlikely welcome in depth queries in their 'history' and would prefer any new comer to accept things just as they are.

Look at the fate of Chartered Semiconductor which is under Temasek Holding. It used to be a blue chip company listed. Once upon a time it was one of the hot favourite shares being traded. After all most folks think nothing serious could happen to a blue chip share which had large capitalisation. The common perception is : Temasek = government = trust. Well, blind trust could be dangerous as Chartered Semiconductor has been delisted and no longer in existence.

Temasek action speaks for itself.

Visibility vs Charity

The YOG budget overshot by 3 times, from $104 million to $387 million. Again do not expect any accountability for such poor budgeting and overspending by the Minister concerned. Lack of accountability seems to be the current trend.

The public response to YOG event has been cold and it is unlikely that the event could ever recoup the heavy expenses spend on it. Seems like MOE is the main buyer of the event tickets.

Comcare's budget in contrast is only a mere $98 million, a quarter's of YOG.

It is obvious that visibility is more important than charity for our government. Is it any surprise ? Hardly...sigh...

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Is a future population of 6 million realistic ?

We are at aroud 4.5 million and our public infrastrutures are already busting at the seams. How realistic is it to have a future population of 6 million ?

Our goverment forecast has been way off mark in first telling us we will be overpopulated during the 1970s. Then within the same generation - we find ourselves underpopulated and need mass import of non-locals to make up for the numbers.

What happen if they are wrong again ?

Even Australia with its large land mass and natural resources is reviewing it policy to ensure a sustainable population.

It is time our government take a good look at what is happening at ground level and don't bull doze ahead to another disaster.

Cheaper Transport Fare , really ?

There has been alot of publicity that the revamp in the public transport fare based on distance travelled will result in saving from many. Again this is another window dressing exercise whereby the public is told partial truth. It is in fact another fare increase in disguise.

For unbiaise reporting on this issue, Mr Leng Sze Hian's article provides a clear picture of how the public has been 'taken for a ride'.

The fare structure is so complicate, it is hard to understand, it only creates confusion. Simplicity is beauty beside being efficient. Any policy targeted at the masses should be easy to understand.

But this is never the case for us. Look at our taxi fare structure - so many surcharges. Then our CPF scheme -getting more complicated over the years. Even the recent CFP Life scheme is so messy that they need forum after forum to explain it to the public.

It is reported that Tiger Airway is considering having standing support for passangers so that they could charge cheaper air fare. Well, seats have been removed from our trains and buses, but there is no reduction in fare.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Is Our Crowded Trains Safe ?

It is unacceptable for the CEO of SMRT to acknowledge that she knew the trains are overcrowded but not do anything because they have not reached the stage where SMRT needs to employ 'pushers' or 'crush load' level.

This is not the way a socially responsible organisation is run. We do not wait till problem araises before acting. Overcrowding is a safety hazard by itself. Even a minor incident can result in a stampede in overcrowded places. We have seen in happening at football stadium, religious place of worship like Mecca....

We know there is a safe passenger load for all vehicles. What is the safe passenger load for the trains and has it been exceeded ?

It is as clear as daylight that our train stations and trains are under capacity to serve the exploding population. We know there is a limit to the increase frequency of train arrival without compromising safety. Besides even if they can do it, it will create another set of problem as the passagers cannot clear the platform and station in time before the arrival of the next train.

I have seen it happening even during off peak hours. Passengers were still crowding around the platform escalators to make their exit from the station and the next train arrived.

It is time SMRT CEO highlight this to the parliment that there is a need to start planning for an overhaul of the train infrastrature now. This is the least she can do as head of an organisation responsible for public transport.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Orchard Rd Flood

Our PM lacked credibility when he chose to repeat the lame excuses dished out earlier for public consumption. Again there is no accountability and just all white washing cover up even from the top man himself.

Debris and litter could be an aggravating factor in the Orchard Rd flood, but it is unlikely to be the root cause. The only reason for all these excuses is because the real reason could be another embrassment for the government (just like the Mas Selamat escape episode).

Likely a in depth investigation has been done but they don't have the guts to reveal the truth to us. Human errors in the area of management, system control, lack of foresight in infrastructure design (like our HDB flat lift upgrading project as they forget all of us will grow old)....?

If it is due to debris and litter, then NEA should let us know what have all their cleaners and enforcement officers been doing which resulted in so much accumulation of rubbish to be washed into the drain?

No one is asking for an extensive drainage system, but are the existing ones wide and deep enough in design in the 1st place. If it is not - who is the 'wise guy' who designed them and who approved them ?

Perhaps the lesson is that rapid urbanisation has its cost. We trade in natural water run off with concrete payment and a drainage system which is prone to human errors in design and management.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Does handsome reward check corruption ?

We are given the reason that our ministers are rewarded handsomely because if we pay them peanuts there will be a tendency for corruption. So in order to have a clean cabinet, they need to be pay a high salary.

In the first place, they were never pay peanuts. Secondly, corruption does not limit to monetary gain. Abuse of power is also a form of corruption. Monetary reward itself does not stop power abuse from happening. So how does handsome reward stop corruption then ?

Power corrupts, absolute power will lead to uncheck corruption. Only a balance cabinet with no one party dominating it will we feel we are in safe hands.

In fact paying a unjustified high salary will only attract the 'wrong' calibre of people - those who do not have service for the good of the public at heart. They go in for the money.

Just like we have seen different calibre of doctors. Some are in for the money and prestige - you can tell from their attitude. It makes no difference whether they are in private practice or government service - you can sense they don't enjoy what they do nor they like serving the public.

In fact, I would think the tendency of corruption would be higher for those who took on the job because of the high remuneration. After all, these are precisely the folks who love money more than public service.

Those who take pride public service, monetary reward is secondary concern. We have seen many examples of such high calibre folks in NGOs and charities groups. Unfortunately theses folks are not interested in politics, if not having them in our cabinet will help ensure S'pore is in good hands.

Typical Govt Strategy - Silent or Window Dressing Statistic

From high ranking ministers to even low ranking adminstrators, their identification tag as government officials is the typical strategy they employed when things don't work in their favour - refrain from making statement nor answer the question posed or present window dressing statistics, hoping to get away with it.

Our PM silent on the 2 recent major incidents regarding the train vandalism and Orchard flood shows us how he 'leads' by example.

There are many instants of window dressing statistic being dish out for public consumption. My own recent experience is with S'pore Environmental Agency (SEA) regarding their sleeping over the Green Movement for years, which resulted in the tremendous increase in environmentally unfriendly plastic carrier bags being used.

They responded by saying they will be extensively promoting a rebate strategy for shoppers to bring along their own carrier bags. If such strategy works, NTUC would not have been dragging their feet over it for years. (note :NTUC already has a rebate strategy but only implement it on Wed)

If rebate strategy works, Ikea would not be charging their customers for bags(which has been effective and meet with success).

But typical of government officers, they will insist on their way. So SEA avoided the questions posed to examine if rebate strategy would work, but instead answered by saying that NTUC FairPrice has saved more than 43 million plastic bags since 2007 when the rebate scheme was introduced.

They inflated the figure to make it look impressive by taking 3 years statistic. Sigh...typical of window dressing statistic. But they remain silent when question further as to what percentage is this figure compare to the number of bags issued to shoppers over the same period ? Likely the number of bags issues would be shocking figure many times over the 43 millions !

As NTUC only implement this carrier bags rebate once a week and they save 43 millions bags, how many bags have been issued for the remaining 6 days! Besides, we have not taken into consideration other big chain supermarkets like Cold Storage, Giant, Carrefour, Shop n Save......

Unfortunately they often get away with it as many people are too preoccupy with their daily routine to question statistic presented to them.

Monday, June 21, 2010

SMRT is responsible, BUT so is our government!

I am disappointed that our Minister put the blame on the recent security lapse solely on SMRT. Why is our government shrinking from taking on part of the responsiblilty?

If the incident was not just about the train being vandalised, but a bomb was planted on it and it blew up killing hundreds of passagers during the morning peak hours. Would not the government be answerable to the major lapse in national security and public safety? Why should the government wants the public to take a different view over this incident?

Public transport such as train has always been the favourite target for terrorists in other countries, such as UK, Japan, India.... In fact our MRT had also been the target of terrorists' plot some years back.

SMRT is not just any private organisation. Their depots are gazetted as protected areas show that they are at high security risk. SMRT is the major service provider of public transport. Is not national security and public safety the responsiblility of the government then?

Even with good security management system, it is the people running it that make or break it. Where the system is not maintain and protocol not follow, all will come to nothing.

Should not the government conduct indepenent audits on SMRT to ensure compliance with the 'framework' provided?

Who deploy those police officers at SMRT trains? If these officers are deploy by our police force, then how can the government said that SMRT security is solely the company's responsibility?

Friday, June 18, 2010

Where are all the chickens ?

Live chickens have completely disappear from the scene in S'pore. It just occurs to me this sad fact that common animals are becoming 'uncommon' - if you exclude those frozen featherless chickens sold at supermarket. In fact the joke is - if you ask a kid what a chicken looks like - likely you will get a description of a frozen chicken as that is only what they are familiar with.

I went for an educational trip to JB,Malaysia recently. There is a 8 year old boy in the group. He was so excited when he set eyes on some chickens at a mushroom farm we visited to have our breakfast. He followed them all over, happily snapping pictures of them. He was more interested in the chickens than his food.

In S'pore after the SARS episode, all rearing and selling of live fowls are prohibited. With exception of the few chicken farms that produce eggs for local consumption. In the past, there used to be educational tour at these farms, now it is banned.

Same for Palua Ubin - the kampong atmosphere has disappeared as the villagers no longer are allow to rear fowls in their backyard. Once upon a time, visitors used to to see farm animals, chicken, ducks....roaming freely around the island.

Over reaction by those in authority is making S'pore becoming a more and more sterile place to be in.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Security Complacency - MRT is an easy target

We are constantly reminded as individuals to be on the alert and to take security threats seriously. After the escape of our infamous terrorist, Mas Selamat from his detention centre and the recent case of SMRT train being vandalised, it makes one wonders who are the complacent ones?

It was the public who first notice the vandalised train, while SMRT staff do not even realise the train has been vandalised till days later! The MRT staff gave lame excuses for their incompetency by saying they thought it was advertiment bill board...sigh! Looks like it is those whose have the greatest impact on public safety are the not doing what they preached.

It did not take any high tech gadgets or elaborate scheming to execute the escape plan and train vandalism. This is worrying as in the Mas Selamat escape incident, it was due to basic security measures not even in place at the detention centre.

In SMRT case, the low level of security measures implemented at a high security risk target is unbelievable. Have they forgotten that there had been previous plot by terrorists targeted at trains just few years back? Do they audit the security management and system in place? How often is review done on staff security awareness and training?

In both cases, there is lack of accountability of those responsible. Perhaps this is the reason for recurrence of security breach at national level, as those top brass are not taking it seriously. After all there is little consequence even if they are not up to their mark.

Just observe those security personal at SMRT station and the police ‘patrolling’ the train. Do they project a sense of professionalism that gives ones a sense of security? Or are they put there for ‘show’?

I do not see how the police standing idly at the station platform waiting to broad the train and then standing listlessly by the train doors during the whole journey help to improve security. They normally broad the train in a group of 4 men and then all huddle around in the same carriage.

Should they not be actively patrolling the station platform from one end to another to look out for suspicious characters? While on board the train, should not they spread themselves out into different carriages? If the train is not pack like sardines, should they not proactively patrol the train from the front to back carriage?

With the current level of security at SMRT, public safety is not in good hand as the stations and trains are still easy target.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Tighter reins on Charities ?

There are always black sheep in the flock. After the NKF incident, the rules governing charity organisations have been reviewed and tighten. However, nothing is fool proof, thus further tightening would only hamper the work of those honest charity groups with clean record. Why penalise them just because of a black sheep? It is better to focus on the 'problem sheep' who has amass millons and buying over part of Suntec City.

How to belief in someone who claims he does not draw a salary for years and yet live in lavish lifestyle ?

It has all the hallmarks work of those very professional - you need to be one to get support and continous flow of willing donors who have full trust in you. Another hallmark of a professional is that his supportors will standby him no matter what happen. Why ? Perhaps out of ego, loyal to the group or subconsciously not wanting to acknowledge they have been con ? It is a bitter pill to swallow especially if the person involve is a religious leader. For his follower, denial is much easier route to take.

It will be certainly interesting to see what the investigation will unfold.

Sexual Education In School

Why do schools need to enage external vendors to conduct their sexual education talk for their students ? There are Science teachers and Counsellors in schools, and at secondary/junior college level - we even have subject speciality teacher for Biology. I am sure the these science teachers and the school counsellors are more than qualify to give sexual education talk to students.

However, the main responsiblity should be on the parents to teach and discuss the facts of life with their children. There are also parent support group in every school. It would even be better to get these parent support groups involve in the sexual education talk.

Whenever such talk is conducted, the school could invite all parents who are interest to join their children to attend the talk. This will enable parents to be kept inform of the talk content so that they could follow up with more personal discussion with their children at home. Besides, these parents could act as 'auditors'.

This is especially important where school employed external parties to conduct such talk. We cannot be sure that these external vendors would adhere to MOE guideline, even though their submitted content pass MOE vetting. During the actual presentation, they could be imparting messages subtly which promote their self-interest. Most of the external vendors engaged by MOE are from religious affiliation. Given the fact, the majority of the vendors selected by MOE is from the same religion is cause for concern.

In fact, one of them is known to hold extreme views and had attracted alot of adverse publicity during the AWARE saga. Their US affiliations action of taking over other religion organisations are questionable. What is worrying is the S'pore group seems to be moving along the same line. Unlucky for them, they kick start their take over at the wrong target - AWARE. Their failure does not mean they would not use their local affiliation arms to penetrate schools to promote their 'brand' of religion.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Milking The Deceased ?

There has been alot of speculation that the general election is near - likely this year. Why - because there are many signs of it, with all the 'propagandas' we come across in the media. There has been continuous bombardment of 'positive' news and statistic on employment, wage increase....etc, which are mostly not supported by hard evidence. Normally it is via interviews conducted with someone and only God knows how that person being interviewed came out with the 'positive' projection number.

Then recently the extensive coverage of our respected Mr Goh Keng Swee who had contributed much to our nation. For many days, all the local papers devoted many pages on his nation building effort and success stories.

The question is why honour our great pioneer after he is dead? Should not we have done it at those special national events? There have been lots of opportunities to honour him during the past 2 decades National Days, why was it not done? Would not it have been better to show our appreciation and acknowledge the great work of Mr Goh Keng Swee when he was still alive?

Most of us have forgotten about him as after his 'retirement' from parliment, he seems to have completely 'disappeared' from the local scene. We know how things run, those not in favour with the current ruling party will not be 'seen nor heard'.

Such tactic has been so successful that the younger generation of S'porean has not even heard of him! We can't blame them as his name is not mentioned in local history books used in school. Our students are not enlightened during their many years of schooling even after going through all the various courses to get them acquainted with S'pore nation building history and development. The only familiar names they know are that of MM Lee's and his son, our current PM.

Thus, I cannot help but wonder if they are milking the deceased for all he is worth because of the coming general election. Is this not unethical?

However, their strategy may backfire because it only reminds us that the current members of parliment do not possess such high capability and integrity as Mr Goh Keng Swee. Mr Goh had the passion to serve the country. Now ? Likely these folks are in more for visibility, political power and not forgeting the handsome salary.

If only Mr Goh were to head Temasek or GIC during his life time - things would be different. He would have been a better safe keeper of our public fund and not loss billions of citizens' money. There would be accountability and transparency in the way the 2 government investment arms are run.

Those who remember Mr Goh Keng Swee have only respect for him. But this does not necessary translate to respect for the folks in the current political party dominating the parliment.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Luck - the feel good factor

At times I wonder why so many people like to 'play' Toto, 4-Ds...which just involve marking some numbers on a bet slip. It is not that such activity is in any way fun, exciting or brain stimulating.

I can understand why betting on horses could be exciting, as the animals are racing. It is similar to the excitment in watching sport game to see who is the winner. At least card games could stimulate the mind and be fun and exciting if one is betting with money, which could be the reasons for their additive power.

What is it that makes striking out numbers on Toto and 4-D bet slips so addictive? Beside the chance to win some money - could there be other 'motivator'? It occurs to me it could be LUCK people are after. We all like to be lucky. Striking Toto or 4-D is mainly due to luck.

So besides the prize money, it makes one feel good to be lucky. Perhaps it is this feel good factor that folks are after, even if they may not be conscious of it.

Hurting the Environment

The civil unrest in Thailand is hurting the environment, besides the country enconomy, stability...etc.

We have been watching newsclips day after day of protestor burning vehicle tires and creating hugh black smoke engulfing the city. Of late they have taken to burning buildings too.

So we have Indonesian farmers burning their land (short cut to land clearing) and causing forest fire in peaceful time. Then we have the Thais burning their city in civil unrest.

Looks like there is no escape for the environment. Mankind is polluting our own breathing space, escalating the process of global warming and speeding up the arrival of our doomday. Sigh..... Likely many animal and plant species will be extinct before us.

How selfish human can be - causing the extinction of so many species which have every right to live on this earth.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Of Owl and Elephant

Came across 2 good books which are highly recommended for animal lovers.

Wesley - The Story of a Remarkable Owl is a non-fiction book by Stacey O'Brien. Stacey is a Biologist. She adopted a 4 day old baby barn owl which had nerve damage in one wing and could never survive in the wild. The story traces her 19 years relationship with Wesley.

Learn alot of things about barn owl which does not look like those owls we are familar with. It has a heart sharp face with gold and white feathers. The story is written with tendernes and the keen observation of a scientist, making it remarkably touching at the same time funny. Wesley was intelligent and playful doing things which were not typical behaviour of the barn owl species.

The 2nd book is a fictional work about an elephant. Hannah's Dream is by Diane Hammond. Diane was the media liaison for Keiko, the killer whale which acted in Free Willy.

She blended her experience working with the whale and inspiration from a news coverage of a zoo elephant touching parting scene with its long time keeper into her story.

Hannah's Dream is extremely hard to put down as the story is heart warming and captivating read.

For 41 years Hannah has been kept in captivity in isolation at a dilapidated zoo. Hannah is blinded in one eye and thus feel insecure. The only saving grace is its keeper, Sam who treated it like his own child. But he is getting on in years and have been postponing his retirement because he knew Hannah could not survive in such condition without him. He has been having strange dream for years which he believed is Hannah's dream. In his dream, he sees with the eyes of an elephant roaming freely in an animal sanctuary. He wanted to make it a reality for Hannah before his retirement. But Hannah is the zoo star attraction and it seems impossible that the zoo would let go of its main star.

The story has many interesting characters interwoven into its plot. It is irresistibly touching and very uplifting to read about the devotion of Sam to Hannah.

: Elephants are social animals and live in herd. Solitary elephant does not fair well in captivity.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Rebate for those with bags & Charge those without

This letter is written in reply to Howard Shaw, Executive Director, SEC, who still thinks rebate strategy works after all these years of failure to get folks to bring along their own carrier bags for shopping.


For productivity, we should 'Do it right the 1st time'. The bring your own bag campaign has not been met with much success over the years. Would SEC get it right this time round with their rebate strategy?

SEA mentioned that NTUC FairPrice has saved more than 43 million plastic bags since 2007 when the rebate scheme was introduced. What percentage is this compare to the number of bags issued to shoppers over the same period ? Likely the number of bags issues would be a shocking figure many times over the 43 millions.

Besides, SEC has not clarify on the questions raise regarding :

1) Are there are less folks shopping at NTUC on Wed compare to other weekdays ?

2) What is the number of shoppers who bring along their own bag on Wed is less than those who do not ?

These answers to these questions is a good gauge if the current rebate scheme is effective.

Why not learn from success story like Ikea ? If the rebate strategy works, Ikea would not be charging for the carrier bags. Why reinvent the wheel ?

As mentioned before, we know psychologically people are more adverse with parting with their money than being rewarded monetary. The small token sum of rebate will not entice shoppers to bring along their own bag. However, charge them for it, they would not want to pay for something they have been given free for all these years. As suggested before, the rebate collected could be donated to an environmental cause.

Perhaps fine tuning the scheme to rebate for those who bring their own bag and charge those who do not, will meet with more success.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Drama vs Real Life

Sometimes I wonder how much of real life is reflected in social drama and movies. For example, watching those Korean dramas give one the impression that Korean women drink as frequent as their male folks and it is a social norm. But we don't see Japaness women drinking away in Japaness drama. We know Korean and Japaness males are heavy drinkers. So it looks like it is more socially acceptable in Korea for women to drink than in Japan.

If we look at the local drama production, one would have thought nobody in Singapore smokes! But we know many in Singapore do smoke and the trend is rising amongst teenagers. Anything not supported the the government is weeded out from the sight and hearing of viewers. They hold the simplistic view that all of us are simpletons and easily influence by what we see and hear over the media.

If we are so easily influence by what we see and hear, then rightly so there should be no smokers in S'pore. After all we are bombarded with the health horror of smokinig. Besides all the cigeratte packets are cover with frightening pictures of cancerous tissues.

Such mentality extend to the other spheres of their 'control' - from media censorship to sexual education in school. What we need is more 'creative governing' in Singapore.

''Hidden'' from public view

Visitors to S'pore may be under the impression that there are no homeless or beggers in our city. After all, they are openly seen in other countries, including developed ones like US and Japan. But in S'pore they remain 'invisible'.

I suppose this only makes it worst for those who are living below the provery line as they are deemed 'unacceptable' by the government. Begging is an offence and can get one into trouble. The homeless camping at the beach, even though they have a permit, are chased away by local authority when their plight became known and some foreign news media wanted to interview them.

The thing is, what we don't see still exist. The fact that they are 'hidden' from public view only implies that they are being ostrazied. This does not reflect well on the governing party as it only shows a lack of compassion. They need to walk the talk instead of just spewing empty words that in S'pore no one will go hungry as help is at hand. If it is so, it is due to the good work NGOs. Why claim credit for it ? How dishonest politician(s) can be.

Keep an open mind and don't accept those positive statistics they dish out. We know for a fact statistical numbers can be manipulated and skew easily, especially when there is lack of transparency in how they operate. For example, our local investment arm, GIC, is run like a secret service agency with everything shrouded in secrecy, with lack of accountability to the billions they lost even though it is public CPF fund they are using.

Corruption is suppose to be almost non-existent in S'pore. But corruption takes on many forms - abuse of power is one of them. The only thing unique in S'pore is that is it done 'legally'. Yeah...we do have many of smart politicians. No wonder they can get away with paying themselves millions in annual salary to run this tiny island. Our PM pay is substantially higher than US President who runs a country many times larger than ours, besides shouldering much heavier responsibility.

Their productivity call for cheaper, faster and better should start at their own cabinet which is over staff and overpay.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Breathing Space

There have been many calls by the government for the locals to welcome immigrants with open arms and to appreciate the foreign workers that swarm this tiny island.

I think that most locals unhappiness is not at these folks but at the government policies. After all, our forefathers are immigrants and we are a multi-racial society in the first place.

As an analogy, let say we have a family consisting of 3 generations who work hard to build a home. The house was spacious. The grandfather went around to invite friends and neighbours to stay with them, acting as if he is the sole owner of the house. It will come to a stage where there is overcrowding and lack of 'breathing space'. The initial joy of having a more lively environment with new comers will turn into dissatisfaction amongst the other family members with the action of their grandfather. Even if the new members contribute to the maintanence of the house, it will not lessen the frustration of the family members of having their personal sphere encroach upon. Besides, the basic amenities in the house is overtax, with family members have to wait hours for their turn just to use the toilet and bathroom. Then even in their leisure time they find relaxation almost impossible, as the living room is pack like sardine and noisy.

There are many negative consequences of overcrowding besides affecting the quality of life and inducing stresses. We have seen the lower wage workers hit hard by wage suppression and less job opportunity with the steep competition created by external workers flooding our shores with cheap labour. PMET are also not spared either, even with their higher qualification and expertise due to the influx of so many foreign talents.

There has been wage stagnation even for experience workers. Back in 1990s an experienced person starting pay is above $2K doing administrative task. Now, it is about $1.8K to $2K. It is 20 years down the road and inflation has been substantial, not forgetting our GST has gone from 3 to 5 to 7% !

Our aunties and uncles have almost disappeared from the job market and they have been replaced by foreign workers in job sectors which they used to dominate. So much for active aging and working beyond one's retirement age.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Of this and that

It was reported in the papers that one of the commuters interviewed said that "MRT is faster, there are no jams or strange scents and is airy and cool."

She was comparing MRT and the public bus when she said this. Recently with the jam pack trains, MRT is neither airy nor cool. In fact some of the train compartments are rather warm. I am not sure it is due to it being pack like sardine or the air-con is not working.

As for strange scent - sigh..there are many occasions I experience this both on buses and the trains. It is a matter of person hygiene. As S'pore is getting so over populated, person hygiene should be included in our courtesy campaign as it is certain not polite nor considerate to subject others to one's body odour.

I understand there are 'induction' courses for foreign workers. I am not sure what is being taught, but I got the impression that recently they included 'no spliting in public' from the TV campaign advertisement. They should also include some of S'pore unique dangerous habit - throwing things from high rise building, our infamous 'killer litter'.

We cannot presume those who have never been expose to high rise living back in their hometown to know about the danger of such habit. After all, we have numerous cases of maids falling to their death while cleaning the windows and hanging out clothes to dry on bamboo poles.

Just that day, I was walking below a block of flat when I was taken aback by plastic pill containers being thrown out of the window from the 2nd story. In a mater of a minutes, the floor below full of litters thrown out from the window.

If these plastic containers were to be thrown from higher floor - should they hit someone, the impact though not fatal, would still cause pain. For example, a little A4 battery which look pretty harmless, if thrown from high rise building could injured a person badly.

I tried to get the culprit attention by calling out, but met with no response as he/she was hidden behind the clothing hung at the window. It gave me the impression that the room was rented out to worker(s).

A sweeper happened to be around and he just quietly sweep away the litters. I tried to tell him to report such inconsiderate act which is also an offence to his boss or town council. He kept saying 'yeah' but I was not sure if my message got through as he was a foreign worker.