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.