Monday, December 9, 2013

Bamboo reinforcement for concrete

In the future bamboo may be replacing steel bar for reinforcement of concrete slabs/columns.  Bamboo has many advantages over steel as not only it does not corrode, it is lighter and highly sustainable material.  Bamboo continues to grow after it is cut.  Steel requires a huge amount of energy to produce, while bamboo leaves little carbon footprint and thus environmentally friendly.

It is not a new idea as in 1960s, US had experimental with bamboo as reinforcement due to it good tensile strength. However they failed as they used split bamboo which absorbed moisture and resulted in concrete cracking due to its swelling. When there was water lost, de-bonding happened between the bamboo and concrete.  That caused the structure to collapse.

The new approach is to extract the fibres from the bamboo and treat them so that they are water-proof. The project is being undertaken in a laboratory in Singapore. So if they are successful in commercializing bamboo reinforcement bars, our construction industry will likely be the first to benefit from the new technology.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

2% of retirement income is from CPF

There is an article from The Edge magazine that said the findings from Allianz, a global asset management and insurance firm, found that on average only 2% of retirement disposable income comes from CPF. This is despite the fact the CPF force savings has been in place for decades and its main purpose is to see us through our old age. This is a sad and clear sign of the gross failure of one of our major national policies.

Retirees golden years have been turned into rotten years due to fail CPF policies which keep sucking more of our money into it with its chameleon policies.

The problem is over the years, CPF fund has become more of an easy money for govt investment rather than to see the citizens through their retirement years.  The miserable low CPF interest rates have been stagnant for more than a decade, although our sovereign wealth fund investment reaps handsome profit.

With the high inflation rate, run away public housing prices and medical cost, the more 'lucky' ones have with a roof over their head but little disposable income to see them through their twilight years. The unlucky ones will have no roof and little food on the table. The most unlucky ones will also be bankrupt by high medical fee.

Currently, seems like most elderly folks depend on their children for support, which accounts for some 60% of their retirement income. This ranks S'pore as one of the highest amongst our neighboring countries for poor retirement provision.

Even our neighboring countries' pension fund outstripped S'pore pathetic on average 2% CPF disposal income provision. We have to bear in mind that theirs is a pension fund, while CPF is in fact our own money, which the govt loves to refer to as 'pension' fund in recent years.

Family support is an issue for the young generation as they have to plan for their own retirement too,  while at the same time burden with raising up kids and supporting their aging parents. So can't blame the young couples for not wanting more than 1 kid.  Bearing in mind one can end up in court for not supporting your parents.*  Living within your means in S'pore is make sure you are able to support your parents and not to have more children than you can afford. It is expensive to bring up a child in S'pore and support of frail parents can be very taxing due to the high medical cost.

* Note : having a law that encourages parents to sue their children is not so much a reflection of the social fibre but the mentality of PAP.  They love to sue and welfare is a dirty word to them.

Saturday, November 30, 2013

SMRT - concrete sleepers

SMRT are replacing the wooden sleepers with concrete ones in their major overhaul maintenance. They should give the public a cost comparison and detail of advantages between timber vs concrete sleepers.

Some time back, there was an allegation that SMRT used sub standard timber when replacing the current failing wooden sleepers. SMRT has refuted the allegation as untrue.  Since SMRT is capable of using plastic cable ties to hold parts together,  the public cannot be blamed for having doubts in SMRT selection of timber quality.

Now they announced they are using concrete sleepers, one wonders the reason behind it. Could it be cost consideration?  Timber sleepers are better sound and vibration absorber compare to concrete. Besides - they are lighter.

Hope SMRT has done a thorough load calculation of the concrete sleepers on the overhead MRT tracks which are supported on pillars.  Likely the concrete sleepers would have reinforced steel bars in them which increased their weight further.

Still fresh in our mind are the major breakdowns due to increased passage load and frequency of trains over stressing the train rails. Now there will be another new stress factor from concrete sleepers on the overhead tracks and rails.  It may have an impact on the structure integrity over time, especially if its original design is meant for wooden sleepers.

So looks like the money SMRT spend to upgrade the train's drive system to a quieter one will be undone by noisier concrete sleepers.  Jerkier train ride in future too ?

SPYING classification

The way our govt under PAP leadership deals with inquiry both during parliamentary session and in foreign diplomacy is the same - non answer or beat around the bushes.  So when our neighbors Malaysia and Indonesia questioned if S'pore is involved in the recent spying incident, the answer given by our 'esteem' minister is - he is not going to answer the question.  Instead he gave everyone a lecture on how spying is classified. Spying is considered as spying if it :
1) is harmful
2) there is 100%  involvement

What seems to be implied is that it is ok to spy on your neighbor if it is 'not harmful'. Sound pretty lame indeed. Don't think Malaysia nor Indonesia think it is acceptable. What a stupid answer, as it is an invitation for all countries to spy on S'pore as long as it is 'not harmful'.  Perhaps the minister should clearly define what constitute 'harmful' and 'not harmful'.

The 2nd spying classification by percentage is equally idiotic. According to our 'esteem' minister - since it is difficult to determine the percentage - "5% true or 95% true", therefore he could not provide an answer if S'pore spied on our neighbors.  Is he implying that only if it is 100% involvement - then it is consider as spying?  So maybe because S'pore only 'assisted' US and Australia in their spying activities, S'pore involvement is less than 100% . Therefore it is not consider as spying.  By his account, our neighboring countries can join force and spy on S'pore, as long as each of their involvement is less than 100%.

If one does something behind your neighbor's back, yet does not have the guts to stand up for your action when confronted - what does it says about that person ?  When you cannot justify your action, then at least offer an apology. Sigh - we the citizens are ashamed of our govt under PAP leadership.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

AVA Murdering Monkeys

During the SARS period, AVA went around killing stray cats even though the suspected cause of SARS is from the raccoon (civet cat), with a name that sound like a cat. If I am not mistaken, AVA was then under the 'reign' or our current flood/mosquitoes minister VB. That confirmed our govt tend to over-react and take the easy way when problems arise, regardless of the root cause of those issues. As long as they can say ''see we have taken action'', it matters not if those actions solve the problem. No wonder the govt under PAP is infamous for being the 'Wayang King'

When we have folks complaining about monkey, AVA take the easy route and engage contractors to murder them. These contractors are paid by the number of monkeys they killed. That gives them motivation to capture monkey even in protected nature reserves.  As our govt is motivated by greed, they used similar method to motivate the contractors they engaged.

The problem is started by human beings - root cause. But AVA goes after the monkeys. Sigh !  Majority of the complaints are from the residents living near the nature reserve. Folks who choose to live near nature should learn to appreciate and integrate their way of live with their environment. Instead, they expect nature to accommodate them ! 

Our nature reserve in Bt Timah Hill is invaded by loads of human daily. During the weekend it is worst, with many organised groups walking up the hill.  These folks feed the monkeys although there are prominent notices prohibiting it. The few rangers are ineffective in enforcing the rule.

So the monkeys got used to human and associate them with food. Now when they get too close for comfort, folks start complaining the they are 'attacked' or 'look like it is going to attack my child'.  Whether the monkey actually attack, matters not.  When the word 'child' is mentioned, those monkeys are doomed.

AVA can't even live up to their Corporate Vision is - "To be a premier organisation known for our professional expertise...", and one of their goals is : Promote animal welfare.

Have they been actively doing it ? Looks like they are actively terminating animals instead over the years whenever there are complaints. First the cats, recently dogs and now the monkeys.

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Heart break being a stray caregiver

A stray cat I looked after for 5 years died this week of suspected kidney problem (drink alot).  It is very painful for me this time round as this cat had been accompanying me during my morning exercise almost everyday for the past 5 years.  In fact, it was closer to me and I am more attached to it than my own pet at home.

I believe in euthanasia to prevent an animal from unnecessary suffering when the end is near. Though the decision is hard to make, I have done it before for my own pets and strays in the past. I failed to make the call this time due to my strong emotional attachment to this dignify stray.  I have been delaying it till it is too late. It remained 'posed and dignified' till its last day. I know it was getting weaker and losing weight as it was hardly eating, but it never failed to turn up in the morning to greet me. 

The last day I saw it, it was sticking more closely to me than usual. I wanted to make the call that day but it looked 'better' as it was more active following me around.  The next day it was gone. Strays normally hide in the drains to die. 

I wish I had made the call days or weeks earlier, perhaps it could have eased its suffering. How I wish they could communicate when they are ready to leave this world.  Some, like this stray, are so resilience and have such strong life force it is so difficult to know if they want to fight till the end or go peacefully earlier. 

Monday, October 28, 2013

PA's Headquarter is formal Victoria School

Formal Victoria School at Tyrwhitt Rd is now PA's Headquarter (HQ) with a new address - 9 King George's Ave. Perhaps the new address is because King George sound grand compare to Tyrwhitt, after all it is PA's HQ. It is a known fact that PA is link intimately with PAP. Its current chairman is PM, Lee (son). Their past 2 chairmen were our formal ex-PMs, Lee (daddy) and Goh.

The architecture reminds me of that of our National Museum, with the new building connected to the original one at the 2nd story by link way. The 2-story old school building is linked to the new 5-story one in similar way.

My 1st impression is it smells of insecticide - all the way from the building boundary to inside the building.  The place has lots of greenery, interior plants and landscape gardens.  This explains the generous spray of insecticide, to prevent any PAP 'big shot' gracing the HQ from being bitten. There are many folks attending PA organized activities and it would be embarrassing news should they get dengue from association with PA.  It is unthinkable that PA's HQ become another dengue cluster, just after the recent announcement that Orchard Rd - the popular shopping belt for tourists, has been infested by dengue mosquitoes. Matters not if human health is impaired by inhalation of poisonous insecticide and the killing off all other harmless insects, even if there is no mosquitoes around.

The new PA's HQ is tastefully landscaped.  This is a contrast to the formal Victoria School which was a gloomy dimmed building. The old school used to house the all boys secondary and mixed gender Pre-U students in one building.  After Victoria school moved to Marine Parade, it separated into 2 schools - Victoria Secondary and Victoria JC.

The old building was later used by some other educational institutions (Christ Church Sec School..?) for many years before being taken over by PA.  Hope the old school building would be preserved as part of our heritage for its architecture.  But then we never know, as the site is in prime location and with its large field, it is worth a lot of money should PA sells it for private housing development.  Perhaps this could be the reason PA 'invested' in it ?  Wonder how much PA paid for the site.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

1st upgrade of SMRT trains' motors since 1987 !

There is an article in The Edge magazine which highlights that Toshiba has secured a contract from SMRT to upgrade the drive systems of their 66 six-car C151 trains to PMSM (permanent magnet synchronous motors).

According to the article, it will be the 1st upgrade to the drive systems since the trains entered service in 1987.  Wow - that is 26 years long!  Wonder if the train services have not been breaking down so often in recent years, would SMRT plan for the upgrade ?

The impression we have of SMRT is that they will run their trains' parts and infrastructure to ground before spending money on upgrade.  Hopefully they have learned their lesson of saving pennies on maintenance and paying pounds in fine to the govt for public service disruptions.

We can look forward to quieter train ride in the near future as PMSM reduces heat generation, so there is no need for cooling fan or radiators, thus generating less noise. These new motors also consume 30% less energy. SMRT will have cost saving to off set their increasing operating expenditure due to bad management under their ex CEO and even under the current bunch of ex-army officers.

SMRT looks set to become a second career opening for army personals. What relevant engineering experience does army personals have in train operation ? Perhaps they can take over when times are good. In trouble time - likely they are just white elephants. The ex-CEO (with retail experience) who took over in good time, has run SMRT to its current pathetic state. So what chance does the current bunch of ex-army officers have in reinstating SMRT to its formal glory ?

As our govt is so supportive of foreign talents, SMRT should have gotten their key management team from train transport operators of Japan, Taiwan or HK instead of from our local army. It may help to resolve our escalating train woes.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Simple Pleasure in Life

ManuLife took up advertisement in MRT stations about planning to make sure we can enjoy simple pleasure in life after retirement.  A somber reminder that many S'poreans would not be able to do so in their retirement even if they meet CPF minimum sum requirement after working a whole life time.  The advertisement uses 2 examples - enjoying breakfast with your spouse and the couple going for annual holiday.

Breakfast : $6 x 365days x 25 year ~ $55k

Holiday :    $3000 x 25 years ~ $75k

With inflation, even skipping breakfast and just taking 2 meals (lunch/dinner) a day in heartland hawker center, $6 would hardly be enough even for 1 person in the near future.  What with household bills..etc, holiday is out of the question. The money has to go into food and other expenses to make ends meet for the retiree, especially if he/she has to support his/her spouse or elderly parent(s) as well.

This is the Hard Truth at ground level.

PM Lee's CC and FT

I lost my way while trying to locate Teck Ghee Community Center (CC) in Ang Mo Kio, as I am not a resident there.  I asked a passer-by its location, and was asked in turn if I was looking for Lee Hsien Loong's CC.

So now we have community center belonging to the PM ?  I suppose it just meant it is under his zone in the housing estate. Wah - this CC must be very 'famous' in Ang Mo Kio, I thought to myself, since it is referred to as PM's CC.

I was told to take bus 261 and asked the bus driver to inform me where to alight. I did exactly that, but unfortunately the driver is a 'foreign talent' (FT).  He told me he did not know and asked me to find out from the other bus passengers.  Sigh ! This is a common occurrence whenever we encounter FT bus drivers. We consider ourselves fortunate when he don't lost his way and drives around in circle.

Bus 261 is a loop feeder service with less than 20 bus stops, thus there is no excuse for any responsible driver not to know prominent landmarks (eg. CC, schools, polyclinic, market, shopping malls....)around the bus route.  Perhaps it is just that even a CC associated with our PM does not ring a bell at all to a FT. After all what is our PM compare to those leaders from Asian powerful country where our FT comes from.

What can be said with certainty is that if the driver is a local, he will be able to help me. 

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Burning of PSLE assessment books/paper

I read with disappointment that an adult could be so insensitive to the environment and the danger of fire to organize a books/papers burning session for children around his neighborhood.

Even after the bad spell of haze this year, it never occur to him that he is teaching the children wrong value.  There is a law prohibiting open burning. NEA should go after this man.

Besides, one of the things parents teach their kids is never to play with fire. This man who is father himself is setting a very bad example. If there is wind, and with so much highly combustible papers, the fire can get dangerous. Any one standing in the wind direction of the fire can be badly scorched by the flame. The ashes and dust could get into the eyes and respiratory track.

He should have think before he organized such foolish event for PSLE kids to let of steam. A better option is to gather the kids together in front of a recycle bin(s). Tell them to let of steam by tearing up the assessment books and papers before flinging them into the recycle bin(s). It is environmentally friendly, hazard free and does not compromise the children health.

Wonder why no kid challenged him on his suggestion of open air burning. After all, environment protection is one of the tested chapter in PSLE. 

Let there be more responsible adult(s) after next year PSLE, so that our neighborhood kids are not led astray by foolish ideas. Let there be more thinking kids who do not follow blindly stupid suggestion just because it comes from an adult.

What is the cause of fire at SingTel Bt Panjang Exchange?

I was curious as to the cause of the fire at SingTel Bt Panjang Exchange.  No wonder I was left in the blur, as reading Breakfast Network blog confirmed that the cause of fire is not reported. Is there some form of 'cover-up' by MSM ? Would not the cause of fire be one of the top priority of questions being asked by any decent professional reporter ?

If SingTel safety officer could not find the cause, surely SCDF is able to. So why the silent? Is the cause of fire too embarrassing to announce ? Poor housekeeping couple with infringement of no smoking policy? This is a sure recipe for fire. Or could it be poor safety practices on hot work procedure? Then again, if there no accumulation of combustible materials - a fire cannot start even with heat - so it points to poor housekeeping again. 

If I am not mistaken, the cable chamber should be relatively 'combustion free'. There should be nothing there except cables. Cable insulators do not burn so easily. There is likely combustible materials around it. So what is it ?

The standard of local news even in simple issue like fire reporting is disappointing. When it comes to govt policies and political issues - it will be worst as MSM tip-toe around these 'sensitive' topics. No wonder so many formal MSM readers have given up altogether and switch to internet for their daily news dose.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013


Came across 2 non-fictional books on the bringing up an autistic child.  Both the writers are female (mothers).  In both story, the autistic child is a boy and the setting is in England. They are born around the same time as both are in their mid to late twenties now.

The 2 books are :
- Living with Jonathan by Sheila Barton, who teaches and also works in other jobs.
-A friend like Henry"  by Nuala Gardner, who is a nurse by profession.

Jonathan was like any other babies but by the age of 7, he was locked in an inner world which seemed impossible to penetrate. This makes accepting his autism harder for his mother, Sheila. Though Jonathan is able to function with some form of independence, however one can still identify him as a handicap person. Sheila has 2 others normal children besides Jonathan.

Henry is a dog which helped to Nuala entered the world of her autistic child, Dale. She and her husband used the 'voice' of Henry to converse with their son. Besides their wonderful dog, they are lucky to have the right professional help. Dale functions pretty normal and one would not have guess he has autism. In fact, he is working with autistic organisation to teach and help autistic children now.

Nuala and her husband made use of Dale's obsession to teach him.  So when her son is obsessed with trains, they got him train set after train set and used them to teach him to recognize emotion -sad, happy, angry... faces.  Nuala has another girl who is also autistic. Dale is able to help his mum with his sister education as he has insight into his own conditions.

Both mothers had a tough time with diagnosis and getting their sons autism acknowledge medically so that they can get support and professional help. Both boys can turn violent and hit out at their mothers when they tried to help them. Their tantrum can last for hours. Their obsessions are often similar - with trains, cars - things they can line them up. They are fascinated with water. Repetition is the norm for these boys.

Early diagnosis cum intervention, right professional and family support can do wonders.  With Sheila, she was unfortunate to have met with 'damaging' professional help which might have accounted for the different outcome of the 2 boys in their adulthood in terms of functioning independently and socializing skills.

Dale has 4 grand parents who loved him and shared the burden with his parents. He is educated in normal schools and mingle with kids who did not even know of his condition. However, he struggled with Maths and English. Since English is a teaching medium, it means he had a tough time. This is because if a sentence contains just one unfamiliar word, it will throw him into confusion. For us, we can still guess the meaning of the sentence inspite of an unfamiliar word.

These 2 books are interesting read. In terms of style and narative skill, Nuala Gardner is a better writer.

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Dependants under Non-Residents

It is reported that S'pore population growth has 'slowed'. We are currently at 5.4 million, out of which 1.55 million are non-residents. It is also reported that our aging population is a great concern and figures were cited how the ratio of working adult supporting non-working elderly is declining.

It is noted that in the statistic given regarding non-residents, the 2nd largest percentage is from 'dependents' group.  They are dependents of citizens, PRs, and work permit holders. Understandable the largest percentage goes to Work Permit holders which accounts for 46%.

Dependents would include children and parents, but I am not sure what other family relationship they allow in under long term visitor pass which could be easily renewed (sibling, in-law, grandparent ??). The statistic did not tell us what percentage is inactive retired seniors. But from daily observation, they are a common sight in parks for their morning exercise.

Dependents make up 15% which is higher than 13% of domestic workers. Is this not a concern ? Dependents are economically non active and they would contribute negatively to the working adult to elderly support ratio. Does it make sense to have 1 new citizen or PR....etc bringing in 2 retired elderly parents?  If they are allowed to apply for long term visitor pass for other relations, this is even worst. How does this aggressive intake of foreigners help in boosting our fertility rate, when there is a big question mark if they will  have children or if their children will remain in S'pore.

But what is done deal is that it will definitely increase our aging population.  It would seems like S'pore is supporting the elderly of other countries by taking them in.  Is this not an irony ?

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Affordable + Promise

They have not work out the details and yet our govt has been running propaganda over the TV aggressively.  They are telling us Medishield Life would be 'affordable' and how 'good' the policy is. When they start giving promise without details - it is very worrying.

We have experienced promise which either never materialized or headed in the opposite direction. We have seen how when it is clearly not affordable (HDB flat), they would get their minister in charge to try to brain wash us with skewed statistics and numbers.

How can it be affordable when existing scheme under CPF Medishield is not once you cross over to the senior citizen group? Currently they don't even cover pre-existing illness and also not till you die. The new scheme covers everything under the sun, which private insurance scheme dare not even touch.  How then can the premium be affordable ?

Since it is for life - does it mean from birth ? If so, parents have to start footing the Mediashield Life premium till the child grows up and take over ? We know how stingy our govt is towards us, so if those elderly who have children though they are struggling to make ends meet, do they need to forgo food just to pay up the premium ?

Pity the person if he/she is the sole breadwinner for the family.  Besides footing his/her own premium, there are those of spouse, parents, children and even in-laws to pay up in the worst case scenario.  

The current deductible is high, so likely Medishield Life deductible will be even higher.  Since all our hospitals are privatized, it is likely they will take this opportunity to profit from the new policy. Medical cost can only go up.

Our govt is very good at paper exercise. When it comes to actual policy and implementation, things often turn out bad for us at the receiving end.  We can say bye to our Medisave saving that is for sure. It will be suck dry by Medishield Life.  For low wage earners, if they have no cash to meet immediate medical cost, they will not be able to tap on their Medisave account in future. It is surely a bright future for those in the money lending industry.


I have visited another soy sauce factory before, but it did not leave an impression on me.
I was pleasantly surprise how systematic and well run Kikkoman soy sauce factory is. Kikkoman has factories in many countries - in Asia, Australia, Canada, Europe, US and NZ.

Those of you who have bought sushi would have noticed that the little packet of soy sauce they used is normally from kikkoman.

Its history dated back to over 300 years ago in Noda, Japan. The factory in S'pore is established in 1984. It is able to churn out 13 thousand kilolitres of sauce per year. It produces other types of sauce such as teriyaki, those for sashimi and sushi....

Kikkoman uses top grade soy bean and wheat (other manufacturers may not include wheat in their process). Even the salt is sea salt. Their secret is their proprietary micro-organism used in the fermentation process. It takes at least 6 months to produce a bottle of soy sauce due to the fermentation process.

The manufacturing process :
- The wheat and soy beans are mixed and given heat treatment.
- Fermentation micro-organisms are then added to form the Koji culturing.
- Salt and water are added to Koji to form Moromi mash which is left to ferment for 6 months. 
- The matured mash is pressed to extract raw soy sauce which is then heated.
(the pressed cake is sold as animal feed to farms in S'pore and Malaysia)
- The refined soy sauce is send for laboratory testing.
- It is then pasteurized before bottling.

The factory hygiene, safety and quality control process are faultless. What a contrast to the 1st soy sauce factory I visited. Think I will switch to using kikkoman sauces after this.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Ms Aung San Suu Kyi

Ms Aung is here only for a few days and she can see what S'pore really is, which PM and his daddy could not.  Ms Aung has said that : her country should not seek to recreate S'pore's policies and institutions. 

Here we have an honest truth from a great political figure.  S'pore policies and institutions have always been praised sky high by PAP (nothing new as they loved to praise themselves) and other country leaders who wanted to be polite and 'politically correct' when visiting S'pore.

We can see a visionary leader in Ms Aung when she said, "That make me think..what is the purpose of a workforce...of work..of material wealth ? Is that the ultimate aim of human beings, is that what we all want ? In a sense, I want to probe more into successes of S'pore and to find out what we can achieve beyond that."

Ms Aung acknowledged that material achievement is necessary to a certain extent to enable us to be free from want.  However, there are many intangible things which material achievement could not provide -  love, loyalty and many things that helped us survive that had little to do with material achievement.  She summed up that S'pore could learn from Myanmar a more relaxed way of life, warmer and closer family relationships.

Ms Aung has shown what confident leadership is.  Our PM is sorely lacking in this aspect. He refrained from taking live questions from reporters when visiting overseas. Even in his home ground, he avoids live forum but prefers recorded questions of 'ask the PM'. He needs to filter the questions and have prepared answers before he appeared in the TV forum last night.

If foreign talent can be bought with money, which PM and his gang think so, then we should get Ms Aung to replace our PM.  But we know Ms Aung could never be bought with all the diamonds and gold in the world.  PM and his cabinet of ministers should have a lesson of integrity from Ms Aung, as they need to be paid handsomely to serve their country without corruption in mind.

LKY is nothing compare to other great leaders

He recently published another book about himself again. Sigh!

When it comes to writing autobiography and books about himself and his 'achievement', no other political leader can come a close 2nd to LKY.  He has churned out so many books about himself that it is an embarrassment to S'poreans that our 1st PM cannot see beyond his nose how insignificant he is in the world stage of great leaders.

LKY is nothing compare to great and selfless leaders like M.K. Gandhi (India) and Sun Yet Sen (China). Gandhi is a father figure to Indians. Dr Sun is the founding father of modern China.  Then we have closer to home and current political figure like Aung San Suu Kyi, who is addressed lovingly by Burma citizens as 'Mother'.  None of them have spent their life time writing book after book to glorify themselves as these humble and wise leaders were too busy serving their country and people.

Do we have any S'poreans calling LKY 'father" ? NO.  Do S'poreans think he is our founding father? NO again. But LKY will make sure his created history has it that he is father of S'pore.  We know the air in his head has infinite volume.

Here we have LKY, churning out 'tons' of books about himself.  Self praise is international disgrace indeed.  He is still clinging  on to power though physically weak and mentally slow.  Public fund is till used to pay for his handsome salary though he is hardly doing anything to serve the public. He is just busy getting his assistant to record down his personal history in another autobiography.

LKY can only be compared to the likes of political power crazy and self serving figures like Mao Zedong (China) and Kim Jong-il (North Korea). How he wishes he can brain wash all S'poreans like what Mao and Kim did to their citizens. LKY must have dreamed of having his big portrait hang all over the country and after his death to have his body preserved forever to glorify himself even after death.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

A Big Little Life by Dean Koontz

This book is a must read for those who love dogs.  It is a true story about Trixie, the author's family pet. Trixie was trained as a companion dog for disable, but due to an injury, she was retired early at 3 years of age.

Normally assistance dog which retired is handed over back to its puppy raiser, who is a volunteer who took over the pup from 8th week and teaches it basic commands for the next 16 months.  However, if the puppy raiser for some reason could not home the retired dog, the training center will have to find it an adoptive home.

Author Dean Koontz and his wife have been patrons of the training center for assistance dogs, thus they were offered Trixie for adoption.  It is a journey of discovery and joy for the couple when Trixie entered their lives. Trixie was an angle in the form of a golden retriever.

We get a information of how assistance dogs are trained to help different groups of folks :

- guide dogs for the visually handicap

- service dogs to help the paraplegics and quadriplegics

- skilled companions for autistic and cir du chat children

- hearing dogs for those who have hearing impairment

- facility dogs who visit rehabilitation centers, hospitals, nursing homes, classrooms for kids with developmental disorders

Selection of such dogs are very strict and those selected must have the talent, temperament and physical qualifications before they finally graduate as assistance dogs after 2 years of training. If the dog fails to make it, it is offered to the puppy raiser to home it.

Dean Koontz donates generously to the assistance dogs training center, CCI, for years before Trixie became part of his family. Royalty from those books based on Trixie goes to CCI to foot vet bills for assistance dogs whose disable owners could not afford the high expenses.

Dean Koontz is a prolific writer and a number of his books are made into movies. He writes many fictions, some in series such as Frankenstein (his interpretation of the man made monster) and Odd Thomas (who can see and help the dead).

Thus, buying is books for enjoyment is also doing a good deed in supporting the assistance dogs program.

It is a pity in Singapore, our disable friends have difficulty assessing the help of these dogs. To-date we only have 3 guide dogs. It is an expensive affair as the dog comes from Australia - the nearest training center. The disable person has to fly over to train with the dog. Then the dog and its center trainer have to be flown over to S'pore to assist the disable person to adjust for a period of time.

Why can't we set up such training center in S'pore ? After all we are the mother of all hubs. It will be good if we become the hub for assistance dogs provision in South East Asia

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Local Current Issue Programs

There are a number of TV programs focusing on current issues like :

-Talking Point - The Vote
-On The Red Dot
-It Figures

Just tonight we have Talking Point over CNA at 8pm discussing if enough has been done for the disable in our society. Then at 9pm over at Channel 5, On The Red Dot also covered disable issue. It is noted that a single topic will be cover by 2 or more programs over a short period of time.

This week we also have It Figures talking about how much it takes to bring up a child. Next week another program will discuss low fertility rate which is along similar line.

Sometimes it gets confusing as we thought we have watched the program before, but it is actually another program covering the same topic. Can't different programs cover different issues for the month?  After all, most of the issues discuss are not something new and neither will they be resolve any time soon.  Issues such as transport and housing woes, lack of infrastructure and social support for the disable, low fertility rate, high healthcare cost...etc.

Such programs will come in very handy as PAP propaganda tool when they wishes to brain wash us to accept their flaw policies. All they need to do is to invite 'politically correct' guests in their panel of discussion (such as Prof Eugene Tan).  So they can drum into us nightly or even twice a night, on how affordable or how good a certain policy is in helping us. It is so good that they make it compulsory to ensure all of us cannot escape. We have no choice but to pay for it dearly.   

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

96% are considerate bus commuters ?

Being a regular bus commuter, one of the unpleasantness is inconsiderate fellow bus commuters. The most irritating is unable to squeeze up the bus though there are plenty of standing room at the rear of the bus. The 2nd is having difficulty alighting from the bus due to folks blocking the exit.

Recently a new poster is put up in the buses which states that -  96% said they will move in to let others board the bus, and ask  'are you one of them ?'  Before this was a poster that encouraged commuters to give up seat to those who need them.  I have no issue with the 'older' poster, though it reveals the failure of decades of courtesy campaign.

The recent poster message is a blatant lie if they did not conduct any survey, which likely they did not. If they did, it only confirms how unreliable survey is as people say what is socially acceptable, but act in an entirely different manner in real life.

What happens on ground level is more of the reverse.  96% don't care what happen around them once they boarded the bus. They are absorbed in their handphones and other electronic gadgets, chatting with their friends if they are in a group.  They are unaware that other commuters are trying to board the bus or alight from it, while others are struggling to get pass them.

All these posters to teach and encourage folks to do the right thing such as giving up seat to the elderly, not behaving as if you are the only one in the bus - are so basic.  Why has folks become so self- center?

Business Central

The 9 o'clock evening news, Business Central at CNA used to have the newscaster, Mr Teymoor Nabili giving his take on the current issue during the last segment of the program.  His analytical comment is refreshing. However, this has been discontinued. Wonder why ? Was his comment too direct and therefore 'politically' sensitive ?

It is the last few minutes whereby Mr Nabili gave his views which made the news program stands out from the rest  of the news reporting.  What a pity, by curbing his analytical talent, the program has lost its shine.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Our CPF savings being robbed

There are many CPF members who are unable to meet the minimum sum required when they reached 55. This means that the whole purpose of CPF scheme, which is force saving so that we can retire in peace has failed.  This is because over the years after CPF implementation, our govt has been coming out with all sort of schemes which dry up our CPF.

For example, a large chunk of CPF saving is used to pay for our govt build overprice HDB flats. The price has gone ups so much that they come up with more and more 'subsidy' schemes to 'ensure affordability'. As a lay person, we can see how ridiculous it is. When greed blinds the eyes, those implementing the schemes failed to see that they are the source of the problem. All they are interested in is in racking in more money.

Our healthcare cost  has also been rocketing. Though the govt provides 'subsidy', we the patients still bear the bulk of the cost. Their so call subsidy can never catch up the rocketing medical bill. Thus, the minimum sum required for CPF Medisave has been increasing yearly. Medisave is another force saving scheme to lock up our retirement money to meet healthcare needs.  But the rules are so strict, most of our medical cost are settle by cash instead.  Meantime, our Medisave account is being depleted by Medishield insurance premium.

Medishield is another white elephant scheme. Its deductible is so high that most of the time, we are using our own money (either cash or Medisave) to foot our bill. The worrying part is that its premium is elastic. Every once a while, our govt will use the excuse of 'enhancing' the scheme to increase the premium. The deductible will be increased at the same time. This ensures we are kept out of whatever 'enhancement' there is, since we never get to claim in the first place.

Both Medisave and Medishield are so flawed that the elderly medical needs are not meet. So CPF came up with more schemes to  con 'help' our seniors. Thus, we have the Eldershield. After sucking more money from our Medisave a/c, they annoucement it is insufficient coverage. So we have to 'top up' the premium to upgrade our Eldershield coverage. But they realised again the scheme needs more enhancement - next came Eldershield Care. After all the upgrade and enhancement, they recently acknowledged that the coverage is still insufficient. In order to qualify to claim for Eldershield - one has to be unable to do 3 normal daily activities. Being so severely handicap it is a wonder how the $300 to $800 per month under the various Eldershield schemes can help. There are so many white elephants which deplete our CPF without meeting our healthcare needs.

Now as the various CPF con schemes are getting so numerous and confusing, they decided revamp Medishield into Medishield Life.  This is a master stroke by the govt to lock up forever whatever money we have in CPF. They can con + rob us of more money at the same time by increasing the minimum sum in Medisave plus the premium in Medishield Life at the same time.

In Summary - these are the various ways the govt rob us till we have no money for retirement inspite of saving throughout our working life of around 4 decades:

1) CPF Ordinary Account almost suck dry by overprice HDB flat
2) Medisave depleted by high medical bill and continuous inflating Medishield premium. A sizable portion also eaten up by Eldershield and Eldershield Care. With Medishield Life - the final stoke to eat up our remaining savings in Medisave.
3) Normal medical expenses is by cash as we are unable to use Medisave most of the time
4) High hospitalisation bill is settle by cash or Medisave as unable to claim Medishield due to high deductible.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Medishield Life = Robbing Peter to Pay Paul

It is bad news when PM announced that Medishield will be turned into Medishield Life. The scheme has to break even and it is compulsory for all. Those who do not have Medishield coverage and those who could not afford Medishield will all be opted in.  Premium will go up, but details not work out yet!  It will cover pre-existing illness and for life - which means we pay till we die!

Such a scheme is equivalent to robbing Peter to pay Paul. The worst part is Peter (us) is robbed not once, but for a life time with increasing amount.  Paul has unfavorable conditions which is costly to insure.

 For those of us self-employed with no CPF contribution from employers, this is terrible. As it is, the existing premium is unpredictable and increases whenever the govt fancy. The deductible is getting higher and higher with passing years.  Many of us have to pay for our elderly parents Medishield too. The premiums for the elderly is a Nuclear Bomb because it exploded with violent with age.

The payout from Medishield is less than premium collected (no surprise since the deducted is sky high). We also know that the miserable amount budgeted for Medifund (for those who cannot pay the high medical cost) is never used up and the remainder returned to the govt reserve. These show how insincere the govt is in helping the poor and reducing healthcare cost for the masses.

As with so many govt schemes, Medishield Life looks good on paper only - being touted as affordable healthcare and giving everyone a piece of mind. In fact, I have nightmare the very night PM made the announcement.

The truth be told, this new scheme is another heavy stone tie to our feet drowning us with ever increasing healthcare cost.

Being healthy does not help as our savings in CPF medisave is continuously depleted by Medishield premium for ourselves and our parents.

The govt should control healthcare cost and stop brain washing us with the word 'affordability' and come up with more and more CPF con schemes. We have seen what they meant by affordability with HDB flats costing 0.5 to 1 million.

Since the current Medishield scheme is making a tidy sum for the govt and there is used Medifund - they should use these to support Paul and stop robbing Peter.  Besides, the GST and casino levy are suppose to help the disadvantage. It is time they tap into these instead of dipping their hands into our CPF savings again.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Cruel Tradition Should Be Discontinued

The Andean Condor is a majestic bird of prey with a 2 meter wing span. Its population is on the declined like all other threatened species due to human urbanisation.

It is disheartening and sad to learn that they are captured annually for summer celebration in Peru.  The name of the festival is Yawar Fiesta which means Blood Festival. These birds with sharp beaks and claws are tied to the back of bulls and released into the arena packed with thousands of spectators. The bulls will be charging away in fright with the condor lashing out at them and pecking at their eyes.

This is a very cruel practice. We have 2 species of animals suffering for human entertainment. To add to the 'fun', drunken bullfighters are also in the arena to torture the bulls.

Such cruelty cannot be justify with the label 'tradition'. It is inhuman to inflict pain and agony on animals.

I don't give a damn to the historical meaning behind it. Those who 'invented' the practice are dead and gone but generations of condors and bulls are suffering since 1824!  It is said that the condor represents the indigenous people while the bull their Spanish conquerors.  So we have the condor riding the bull and having the 'upper hand'.  The condor though terrified out of its wits, is considered 'sacred' and will be released at the end of the festival (if they survival the ordeal!)

Those bulls will be dead meat by then.  This inhuman tradition and also that of the Spanish Bullfighting should be discontinued.  When there are TV coverage of bullfighting, my heart goes out to the poor bull. It is pierced again and again until its back is like a porcupine, with lances and spears sticking out all over it. Those spears have barbs. It has to suffered a prolong painful death. 

I recalled reading there is another cruel tradition where a live lamb/sheep is brought up to a tower and throw down in the name of  'tradition'.  It is horrifying to read about all these senseless practices. The frightening thing is there are so many blind followers of traditional who continue with them. 

Saturday, August 17, 2013

On Productivity and Car Wash

We do not need those govt survey to tell us what we know and can see with our own eyes. Productivity in S'pore has been going down the drain in the past 2 decades.

Take car wash for example. During the 1980s-1990s, most of the petrol stations automated their car wash process.  Some even boost of having the longest car wash lane. It was operated by 2 staff - to ensure the operation ran smoothly and to dry the car (the washed car was air dry, but another round of drying was done manually).

Since the influx of cheap labour, car wash is done manually at petrol stations. It is operated by 5 to 6 workers.  So the work force has gone up around 200% !  The excuse the govt gives for the large influx foreign workers is always we need workers to do the work S'poreans do not want.  But there are many work processes that can be automated  Even those like car wash which has been automated was not maintained because of cheap labour. Cheap labour is an additive drug that is ruining S'pore, beside causing social issues due over crowding of the small city state.

The govt keeps reinforcing the wrong value which discourages our youth to take up blue collar jobs. If the job is demanding and 'undesirable' - it should command better paid. Unfortunately it is not so and these workers are paid dirt. Both locals and foreigners workers are at the losing end of these flawed govt policies.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Work Schedule for PM

Some tongue in the cheek suggestions for our PM to get to know the REAL S'pore and learn the HARD truth on the ground by our bloggers.

Suggestion 1 - Work Schedule

Day 1. Drive a taxi to experience life as a taxi driver.
Day 2. Join the old folks to pick cardboard and clean tables in Chinatown.
Day 3. Try taking buses and MRT to work and home, to know our public transport system.
Day 4. Go to a polyclinic because of muscle aches from days 1 to 3 activities. That will take up the entire day.
Day 5. Go to Sengkang Square Kopitiam for breakfast. No need for body guards because there is nobody there.
Day 6. Sweep HDB flat corridoors and chit-chat with residents. Clear rubbish bins and sweep leaves. Salary : $20/day.
Day 7. Go to TTSH and get himself warded. Try applying for financial assistance. (Must have your extended family’s incomes on hand). It can be very boring in hospital. Do some past years’ PSLE papers

Suggestion 2 - Improvement to Work Schedule

Since PM has an occupied week and has no time to fix the opposition, he should learn more while at it.

Day 1. While driving a taxi, try to earn $280/day ($7000/month).
Day 3. Wake up early and tap out before 7:45am for a free ride in MRT.
Day 4. In the polyclinic, check how many foreign medical staff are there. Also test the doctor to see if he/she can speak dialect. (communication problem of our elderly when seeking medical attention)
Day 5. At Sengkang hawker center, check if there is mee siam mai hum.
Day 7. Find out how KBW is able to have a heart operation for $8 and let us know. At the same time see if nursing is low skill job as stated in the Population White Paper.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

The Conjuring

This movie is hair rising scary.  I don't really like 'ghost movies' as most of them are silly and unbelievable. The current movie - The Conjuring which is based on a true story with good review and does not disappoint.

There are only 2 other supernatural movies that scare the hell out of me -  The Poitergeist and The Ring (original Japanese version) as they are more realist and involve things which we can identify with.

The Conjuring is about the Perron family of 7 moving into their new home in 1971. It was an old country house. The couple with their 5 daughters have it bad from the 1st day. Things spiral down and got worst after that. Their dog refused to enter the house and was left in the lawn. It was found dead the next day. Birds started to bang into window panels and dropped dead.

Mrs Perron found she had big patch of bruise on her and new bruises appeared everyday. Things got eerie at night. One of her daughters felt her legs being pulled while in bed. Another began to sleep walk. The youngest child started to communicate with a 'new' friend which only she could see.

Strange noise which started of as light tapping became loud pounding sound. These are the milder creepy incidents from film beginning. It got very frightening after that.  The mother was possess and wanted to kill her own children.

The tormented family sought the help of supernatural investigators Ed and Lorraine Warren. Ed approached every case from a scientific point of view. He depends on his wife who has a special gift - ability to sense the supernatural, to let him know if the case involves evil spirit.

Try to catch it to get your heart pumping.

Friday, August 9, 2013

On leadership

It is said that sage like Lao Zi And Zhuang Zi endorsed 'invisible' leadership - that is leadership through facilitation.

Unfortunately, we the citizens in Singapore have never enjoyed such leadership under PAP governance for close to 5 decades. It is always force top down with plenty of interference and control into private lives of citizens (such as how many children we should have). We do not even have control over our finances as the govt locks up our saving in CPF and dictates when, what and how we use our money.

A quotation from "A Victor's Reflections" by Michael C Tang :

The worst is the one despised by the people
The third best is the one feared by the people
The second best is the one praised by the people
The best government does not make its presence felt.

The leadership we have today belongs to the 1st category - despised by citizens. Our ministers need to be paid handsomely for doing not much, in order not to be corrupt.  It used to be the 2nd category - feared by the people under our first PM.

Looks like they are getting from bad to worst in recent years.

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Inconsiderate Pet's Owners

Though most pet's owners pick up their doggie shit, but unfortunate many let their pet spray urine all over HDB void deck.  It is very common sight in HDB estate to  see pet dog going from column to column to leave their mark.  If children are not allowed to urine all over HDB void deck, what makes these pet's owners think their dog can do so.  Lack of common sense or plain laziness ? Most likely the latter.

If not for the fine under littering, these owners would not bother to pick up their doggie shit. I suppose they do not think urine is considered  as litter, but it could be under vandalism.  Even if their are unable to get their dog to discharge at grass area, they could at least bring a bottle of water to pour over the column in the void deck where their dog has urinated.

Then there is the problem of abandon cats in HDB estate. I was shocked to see around 9 kittens at one of the HDB block on Monday. They are new strays.  They are likely siblings from the same batch or two tabby cats under the same owner. They are about the same age (similar size), colours and got along well. Irresponsible owners do not sterilized their cats and when they end up with more kitties than they can handle, they abandon them where they know there are strays care givers.

As I am a strays care giver myself and it is a headache when the strays population increase. Complain bound to arise and the strays will be rounded off to be terminated. Then there is the problem of catching them for sterilization.

Many strays are territorial and this add to the problem of feeding  and drinking point. Besides it increases the chance of complaint since their are likely to have noisy fight.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Stray dogs, cats, rabbits... being eaten

I read with disappointment the report that stray dogs are being eaten by foreign workers. I am not sure but I think this is the first time it is being reported 'officially' in the main stream media (MSM). This is nothing new as we care givers of strays have been suspecting it all along but lack proof.

The first time I encountered such issue was way back in the 1990s.  I was working in SingTel then, and at one of the telephone exchanges, the guard told me the stray rabbit was caught and eaten by the foreign workers.  There was a work site opposite the exchange.

I remembered this incident because I was very upset by it.  I used to look forward to any work in that exchange (I was not based there) as there were a stray cat and a rabbit that hang around the guard post. They were good friends as they licked and cleaned each other. It was a heart warming sight.  I had a cat and a rabbit a home, but unfortunately, they were not in the best of term.

Many of the strays care givers are wary whenever a construction site sprang up near our place. Since S'pore has become one big construction site in recent years, I suppose this problem the strays becoming a 'free' food source for foreign workers has become so common that it is picked up by MSM.

Not long after the MRT Downtown line construction site hit my area, a strays feeder told me that 2 of the cats she was feeding went missing one after another within weeks. She was very upset as she had been caring for them for a few years.  They were healthy and in their prime.  These 2 strays were friendly and approachable, which made them popular amongst residents, but also became their undoing.

Her block were the 2 strays hang around was just beside the construction site. 

Not sure if those foreign workers courses run by MOM touch on the topic that it is illegal to eat dogs, cats, rabbits.....etc in S'pore.  Their ignorance is certainly endangering our poor strays. Besides, it is not a bliss for them either.  They could be fined up to $10K and/or imprisoned under the law.  Paying $10K to put doggie, kitty or bunny meat into your mouth is very expensive indeed.  MOM, employers and employment agencies should ensure these workers are acquainted with local laws and customs.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Cook A Pot Of Curry

The local comedy play Cook A Pot Of Curry by Wild Rice is very good. It is now running at LaSalle College of the Arts. Tickets are sold at Sistic.

The play is based on local news and issues that touch our S'poreans' hearts. They are spiced up with comedy.  There are even some familiar songs rewritten with funny lyrics (one of them by Mr Brown).

There is a dance based on the song Stand Up for S'pore.  The dance will have you laughing hard as it is so funny when they integrated dance movement from various countries.

The play started with the scene related to the conflict between an Indian family and their PRC neighbour with the mediator seated in between the 2 families. Sound familiar, right ?  Many of the comical issues will ring a bell with the audiences as they are recent events, like the Population White Paper, crowded trains.....etc.

Do not miss it as it is very good way to de-stress.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Bloggers are Key Board Warriors ??

One of our ministers has called S'pore bloggers 'Key Board Warriors'.  Well it is to be expected since he came from the army.  We have so many cabinet ministers, top civil servants and top post in govt link companies going to ex- army personals.

Are they suitable and a good fit for these top posts is questionable.

Anyway just because bloggers questioned  illogical and badly conceived govt policies - they are perceived to be 'fighting' against the govt.  How infantile is such thinking.

If so, what does it make our minister(s) ?  Some possible suggestions :

-  Half Truth Generator

-  'Good News' Spinner

- Information Hidder

- Revenue Sucker

Sunday, June 30, 2013

Animals give better indicator of PSI than NEA

When I want to know how bad is the haze outside, besides using my visual judgement, I take a look at where my cat is resting.  If it is lying low - it means the PSI level is bad.

NEA past 3 hours averaging is of no use at all to us.

I notice that even the birds are chipping less.  There is a flock of parakeets that fly by early morning and evening.  When the weather is good, they are happily 'chatting' away. Now it is all quiet. Not sure if they are still flying by.

We are all going back to basic. No point depending on advance technology since NEA refuses outright to give us reliable current reading.

How much is our govt collecting ?

In an article by Mr Gilbert Goh from transitioning organisation which helps locals who lost their jobs - the top 5 money spinners for our govt are :

1) Land Sale -$10 billion

2) GST - $8.75 billion

3) Foreign Workers' Levy - $4 billion

4) Casino/Betting - 2.4 Billion

5) COE - $2 Billion

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

CNA, Talking Point : Haze

The NEA representative on Talking Point also asked the public to look out the window to decide how severe the haze is and whether to close the window or not. Sigh ! He is actually admitting all these PSI reporting based on historical 3 and 24 hours averaging is useless.  We the public has been telling NEA and the govt the obvious and yet they turn a deaf ear.

But the chap from NEA still insisted that there is no need to change to hourly reporting. Basically, he is trying hard to defend NEA illogical reporting method.  It goes against common sense and is an unsafe practice.

Looks like he cannot even recall the range for PM2.5 for healthy, moderate and hazardous level. He kept asking the public to refer to NEA website during the program.  If NEA representative has problem, imagine how confuse the public is with all these different range, averaging and health advisory.

Why make things so complicated. Just do hourly reporting base on PM2.5. The health advisory guideline should be based on this range too.

The doctor they invited to the program is very professional and give sensible advise. In fact, he is so good that the incompetent NEA chap tries to play taiji and ask the public to consult their doctor when they are in doubt if they should use respiratory protection. NEA is hopeless !

Monday, June 24, 2013

NEA should adopt best safety practices

Previously, NEA provides 3 hours average for both PM10 and PM2.5 reading on their website. But for public data announcement, they used PM10 (eg over the media)

But the PM2.5 is always much higher than PM10. So now they use 24 hours average on PM2.5 to bring the figure lower and closer to that of PM10 (which is still base on 3 hours averaging).

Data for public safety should be simple, clear and easy to understand. Why confuse the public with different reference of PM particle size and also different hours of averaging ? Besides, the health advisory reference level for PM10 and PM2.5 is also different. (PM10 above 100 PSI is unhealthy, while PM2.5 above 40 is unhealthy).

NEA should adopt best safety practice and use PM2.5 reading given on the spot. What is the point of giving us historical reading as we cannot make decision and take precaution base on what is already over. Their current messy method of PSI reading reporting is a disservice to the public.

PM2.5 are respiratory hazard and some of those PM 2.5 could be carcinogenic. We would want to avoid if not minimise exposure to these 2.5 micron particles.  We should never carry on as usual and get used to the haze ! Complacency is an enemy to our health.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

PSI reporting goes agaist Safety/Health Principle

The present method of PSI reporting base on the past 3 hours and 24 hours average data is NOT useful to the public.

What we need is current hourly reading which will be helpful for us to make decision whether to proceed our activity and what safety precaution we should take to protect our health.

Providing us with the past 3 hours or 24 hours average reading does not reflect the current situation and may also give a false sense of safety as the spot reading could be very much higher.

Most of us have learn not to rely on the reported PSI reading to make daily 'haze' precaution decision. We use our visual judgement.

What is the point of having all these high tech monitoring system when the public have to relay on their own personal judgement.

Besides, it time NEA change our reference public reporting base on 2.5 micro particle size used in API standard instead of the current 10 micro, since the formal is more hazardous to health.

The current method of PSI reporting goes against safety and health principle. For public well- being, NEA needs to be more transparent and not give the public a false sense of safety.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

We are smoked left and right

None of my family members smoke. But our health is compromised yearly due to the haze from Indonesian. Businesses spend million to ensure their factories discharge does not cause air pollution. Drivers pay a premium for petrol locally as it contains less lead content to minimize air pollution.

The list can go on.... but what is the point when our air is polluted yearly and our govt kept saying there is not much they can do as it is Indonesian domestic affair ?  How can it be their domestic affair if the air pollution is spreading to so many neighbouring countries and affecting millions of people ?

Only short sighted irresponsible politicians can push away responsibility for not doing enough to protect their citizens by uttering such lame excuses.

There are long term consequences and our future generation will suffer from global warming and weather changes.

But year after year, all we see is both Indonesian and our local officials giving excuses regarding the serious problem. The haze has been around for nearly 2 decades !  No excuse is acceptable anymore.

We have enough of smoked inhalation and our own govt also wants to smoke us with suspicious PSI reading. How to trust a govt when the 'right thing' they want us to read may not be the true thing ?

Why are our cleaners not issue with face mask ?

I am disappointed to note that none of the cleaners around my area is using face mask to protect against the smoky haze.

The PSI has already hit unhealthy level on 17/6/13. The PSI was 321 on 19/6/13.  How high must the PSI level be before Town Council issues face mask to their cleaners ?  They have ample time to act or is it they do not even have any safety procedure inspite the haze being with us for around 2 decades ? 

It is an irony as they put up posters at all lift lobbies recently to remind us on International Cleaners' Day in appreciation to our hard working folks. Is this how they show appreciation by not taking care of their cleaners health ?

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Save My World ??

It is an irony that we have this environmental song clip 'Save My World' blasting away every day and the air pollution in S'pore has reached the highest unhealthy level in 16 years on 17/6/13, reaching an unhealthy range of 155 psi.

What is the point of having all these legislation on air population locally to keep our air clean when every year without fail we are hit by haze attack from Indonesia. This has been happening for around 2 decades!

All these high level talks between countries year after year  have not shown any concrete result in solving the problem. Funds have been wasted for years trying to help Indonesia control the haze. It is just money down the drain. We have in the past also send equipment and personnel over to help fight their fire.

Our govt loves to sue, but look like they are only quick to take action against their own citizens. But when it comes to protecting well being of the citizens, they are helpless.  Walk the talk if they are serious in environmental protection and take legal action against Indonesia on pollution Asia. Show some leadership and get Asean countries suffering the same fate to act against Indonesia. The problem is there is a lack of political will amongst Asean leaders to resolve the issue.

Talk is cheap. Campaign which our govt is very good at is easy to execute. Just pour money and get advertising agency and civil service to carry it out.  But effective action  is what counts. The haze problem has a long term impact and contribute to global warming. It is a bigger issue than just yearly health problem suffer by unlucky neighbours of Indonesia.  So if S'pore govt is serious about contributing to 'Saving' the world - ACT (action and not wayang) and stop talking.  Two decades of verbal exchange has gotten us no where !

Our govt should not spent so much money on the air time for 'Save My World'.  Might as well use it to buy face mask for distribution to all the citizens. In all likelihood, they will wayang their way about the haze issue again this year.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Paper Jackpot Machine

I saw a paper jackpot machine meant for the dead at the funeral wake held at HDB void deck.  We know there a all sort of paper stuff burn for the dead, but this is the first time I see a jackpot machine.

What does it says about S'pore society? Looks like gambling has became a socially acceptable form of entertainment for both the living and the dead.

Friday, June 7, 2013

The PAP Way

PAP will never change the way it governs.  After shoving 6.9 million population down our throat, now they are forcing us to swallow another poison pill - MDA regulation of news sites which basically covers everything under the sun.

Recently they have learnt to wayang more by bull shitting talking more (though not necessary listening) via the National CONjob CONversation which is mainly a brain washing tool they hope to get citizens to accept their ill conceived policies full of pot holes.

Now we have ministers appearing on TV program ever so often talking cock  in circles. Just this week, we have Minister Tan from Ministry of Manpower taking center stage to justify the necessity of MDA new regulations on behalf of MDA. It is such a piece of shitty regulation that they rather put a smooth talker on the program than those folks from MDA.  The outcome is pathetic as all the minister did was beat around the bush and kept repeating himself throughout the program.

A piece of shit is a piece of shit. Even a smooth talker cannot turn it around. Citizens can smell the stink miles away and no amount of perfume can cover it. The only clear statement we get out of the program is that PAP is telling us - like it or not, the regulation will remain as it is and we have to just accept it. Not surprising as that is the PAP despicable way.

When there is adverse reaction to their policy, they will say on hindsight they should have done a better job communicating it. It is so with the population toilet white paper, and it happened again with the recently MDA news sites regulation. Will they ever learn ? Apparently no, as they are so high handed and arrogant that doing the wayang is good enough for them.  They see no real need for citizens consultation. They will never admit it is the policy and not the communication which is the crux of the problem.

The day will come when we will have our way and get PAP out of our way. Do not let them walk all over us time and again. More than 4 decades of suffering from democracy malnutrition is more than we can stomach.

Be at Hong Lim Park this Sat, 8 Jun at 4 pm to support FreeMyInternet.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Advance Medical Directive = Waiting to die in hospital

My aunt in her late seventies had a stroke and was hospitalized on 23/5/13. She has back problem for years and was house bound for the last few years. So when the doctor told the family that the chance of a successful operation to remove the blood clot in her brain is low and that she would be severely paralyze should she recovered, my uncle (her brother) made the decision for no medical intervention and to remove life supporting system. 

When my uncle sent out the sms to relatives on this decision, all of us rushed down as we thought that she would die within a few hours after removal of the life supporting system. In the hospital we learned that the doctor said  that patient would die 'naturally' within a few days or a few weeks.

Her life support system was removed on 25/5/13 and she was transferred out of ICU. Currently she is still lying in hospital - literally waiting to die.  Recently we have been told it could be months before she die - basically- the doctor don't know!

It is distressing is to see her lying there. We do not know if she is aware of her condition, if she is in pain or suffering emotionally.  Her condition is not as severed as we thought as she still has responses, her eyelid moves, she tears and there is also slight body twitching when she is spoken to.

We were under the impression she is in coma initially. But she has exhibited responses and that means she is conscious of her surrounding. Those of us who agreed with our uncle decision, now are having doubt. What happen if she continues in this state for years ?  Would it not be better for her to have the operation. Even if she dies during the operation, it is a quick death rather than this prolong suffering.

My uncle decision for no medical intervention and to remove life supporting system is the same procedure prescribed in Advance Medical Directive. The only difference is the patient make the decision in advance to sign the directive. In my aunt case, as she is incapable to make the decision, her brother authorized the procedure.

No wonder the public response to the Advance Medical Directive is so poor even decades after its legalization in Parliament in May 1996.  The law permits no medical intervention and removal of life supporting system for terminally ill patients but prohibits euthanasia. Euthanasia in the eyes of the law is assisted suicide, while Advance Medical Directive is not.  It is a pretty grey line and a matter of interpretation and playing with words.

For those who are religious, it is unlikely they will take up the Advance Medical Directive. For those of us we have no issue with euthanasia, Advance Medical Directive is no substitute and a lousy option.

Euthanasia allows a dignify and peaceful death.  It relieves prolong physically and emotional suffering for the patient and reduces distress for family members.  Advance Medical Directive provides no relieve for the patient nor the family members. In fact, the long waiting period for the patient to die is torturing. Most patients prefer to die surrounded by love ones. Family members too would like to be around during the last moment. Euthanasia could fulfill such wishes, while Advance Medical Directive could not as no one knows exactly when the patient would die.

But knowing our S'pore govt, humane appeal will not work with them.  Only economic $$ make sense to our govt. So it is high time they review Advance Medical Directive which is a White Elephant. They have been screaming to us about our aging population. Our hospital beds are limited and we are short of health care professional.  Advance Medical Directive procedure will only worsen the problem as more and more patients will be lying in hospital waiting to die in years to come. Besides with the medical cost sky high, there will be many who could not afford to pay the medical bill due to the prolong hospitalizaton period. The govt would hate to increase subsidy for patients and we the citizen would hate the govt should they keep increasing our Medisave minimum sum and raising our Medishield premium in order to keep up with the escalating medical cost.

They should consider introducing 'Assisted Departure' into Advance Medical Directive - which is the doctor would do an injection to let the patient go peacefully should he/she not go after the life supporting system has been removed for a certain duration (perhaps 3 days?).

By all means avoid the word 'euthanasia', if this word is so sensitive. I am sure there are enlightened doctors who have no issue helping terminally ill patient to go peacefully if the law permits it.

note : no medical intervention in Advance Medical Directive is term 'Extraordinary life-sustaining treatment' which is any medical intervention that serves only to prolong the process of dying for terminally ill patients but does not cure the illness on either a temporary or permanent basis eg. respirator that assist patient to breathe. Patient is given only palliative care such as food and water and treatment to relief pain.

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Pedestrains Walking Directly under construction Crane

All things can be compromised in the name of growth. So, to house 6.9 million population to sustain S'pore growth in the near future, the govt under PAP is playing a catching up game.  They are building every thing  like craze since they have under provided for many years all the critical infrastructure (housing, transport, hospital.....) even to cater for the current population of 5.3 million.

In the past, construction sites are cordon off so that there is a safe radius of operation for the cranes.  Now as they are desperately squeezing in to build more infrastructure amongst existing buildings, pedestrians are walking directly under the boom of the construction crane. This is because the pedestrian pathway cut across the MRT construction site!

Yes, they still cordon off the walkway to prevent one from seeing what is going on at the construction site and to provide shelter from the rain.  If one is not observant, perhaps he/she may not be aware of the potential danger of walking directly below the operating crane.  The barricade construction and material used will not be strong enough to withstand the force of load carried by the crane nor the weight of its boom should there be a mishap. A bus stop and a HDB block are also within the radius of the crane operating boom.

If there is a crane mishap, pedestrians using the walkway or commuters at the bus stop would be crashed by the boom. The adjacent HDB block could also be demolished should the crane toppled over. The consequence could be fatal for the unlucky residents.

There have been serious past incidents involving crane toppling over. But with so much construction going on, the authority probably decided to take the risk in order to minimize inconvenience to the residents, So they build a walkway cutting across the construction site and directly below the crane!  May be folks themselves are getting 'acclimatized' to the unsafe conditions around them too.  After all, the city of S'pore has become one big construction site - every where you go, your are hit with MRT and residential housing construction.

Better be safe than sorry. Suffer the inconvenience and take the longer route than use the unsafe walkway created by the authority.

Our quality of living has already suffered with years of unsustainable growth to increase the population. Now they are willing even to compromise our safety and life in the name of growth !

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Core Business in the 'Rot'

Seems like many big companies like SPH, SMRT and SBS are struggling with their core business profit margin, while their divestment business is becoming more profitable.

SPH property investment is reaping handsome profit so much so they are thinking of spinning it off as a REIT.

SMRT retail business is booming. SBS outdoor advertising/rental is very profitable too.

SBS outdoor advertising/rental employed only 70 staff but contributed $36.5 M (EBITDA) to their coffer in 2012. Their bus service employing 6,821 staff generated only $40.2M (EBITDA). This is despite a average daily ridership of over 2 million and revenue of $600.9 M.

We have seen SMRT getting into hot soup due to their greed and focus on inflating the company profitability at commuters expense. Their ex-CEO had been so focus on expanding the retail sector arm that she forgotten that SMRT core business is about running the train.

Will the same fate happen to SPH and SBS ?

Note : a coincident that all these companies start with the letter 'S'


Things under 'Lifestyle' category cost much more. Once upon a time, bakery shops in heartland sold - bread. I recalled a red bean bun costing about 30 cents. Then came BreadTalk which sells 'Lifestyle' bread, -costing double.  Sadly, 'lifestyle' bread has penetrated to all HDB heartland bakeries. We have no choice but to consume lifestyle products and pay more if we still want to eat bread.

This is the same for pets.  Back during my Pre-U days (which is termed JC now) a rabbit cost $6. During my working days, it cost about $35 and a white mice $3.  Now, a pedigree rabbit in HDB pet shop costs about $200. They no longer sell mice but pedigree hamsters.  May be there is no pedigree mice, so it is not profitable to sell them. Only pedigree animals are sold nowadays in pet shops all over the it a hamster, guinea pig, and dog.

In the past, those who wanted 'lifestyle' pet will go for Chinchilla, pedigree dog and cat.  But society has changed, every thing is about 'brand'. This extend even to pets - they must carry a 'name' behind them to inflate profit margin for the seller and boost the ego of the buyer.

There are parents who do not blink an eye to get a $4000 pure breed pup for their kids.  Then when the doggie is naughty, they 'give it away'.  SPCA is loaded with abandon pedigree pets due to change in social value for the worst. To some, a pet is just a form of entertaining toy to be discarded when they are tired of it.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Complicated Polyclinic Billing

In 2005, the billing in Polyclinic used to be clear and simple with just 2 columns and 2 rows for a straight forward consultation :

 Service Description                        Total Amount Payable
 Consultation - Adult (C)                                 8.00
 Total amount payable (include 5% of GST)       $8.00

Fast forward to 2012, somewhere along the way billing process has become very complicated, just like all other things in S'pore from taxi fare, CPF & HDB policies, COE........etc, etc

Now Polyclinic billing reflects 5 columns :
1) Service Code
2) Description
3) Quatity
4) Full Amount (S$)
5) Payable Amount (S$)

For the same consultation , the number of rows in the bill has increased to more than 10.  Basically, they are screaming to tell you that government is subsidizing the bill. So we have rows stating :
- Less : Government Grant
- Amount Payable Before Tax
- Add : 7% GST
- Amount Payable After Tax
- Less :GST Absorbed By The Government
-and so on...etc

Now the full amount for consultation is $36.82, the payable amount is $10.50 for a straight forward consultation. Even private GPs in HDB do not charge over $36 for medical consultation. How the govt arrives at this figure is strange. But it is not surprising as it is their usual tactics distort the subsidy amount to make it looks good.

They can be so blind to their illogical policy that they fail to see how ridiculous and unjust it is. They recently just abolished the $3 administration fee they charged patients in Polyclinic who chose to use their own CPF money in Medisave to pay Polyclinic bills instead of paying cash.

This policy has been in force for decades and citizens have been crying foul. $3 out of $8 is 37.5% in 2005 Polyclinic charges and 28.5% in 2012 bill. The govt is worst than Ah Long (illegal loan sharks). At least if one is desperate enough to borrow from illegal money lender, one is paying interest on loan from the lender. Here we have lower income patients who used their own money in CPF and being ripped off by the govt! What sort of govt would enforce such policy to penalize the poor, instead of helping them ?

Pigeons are PEST in S'pore

In other countries, pigeons are just birds. But over here, it has been officially classified as pest for decades. In S'pore, besides pigeons, there are about 4 other species of birds which are under pest category because of their 'large' population.

Crows and mynas are under pest category too.  Crows being large and aggressive are culled so frequently that their number has reduced drastically in recent years, that they are hardly noticeable. They are normally shot down.

Pigeons are poisoned to reduce their number. Another method is trapping. Not sure how they are murdered killed after being removed from the traps. What we do know is that even before they are removed, they may suffer thirst and hunger for days if the pest control firm task to undertake the job 'forgets' to retrieve the traps. So many may die in the traps intentionally 'unintentionally.'

Perhaps being shot down is a less painful death. Dying by poison and being trapped are horrific death for these poor birds.

Mynas which are small chippy birds are relatively harmless, just like pigeons. But too bad, just because they are fit and can survive well in S'pore harsh urban environment,  they become pest.

Pigeons have the worst adverse publicity. Town Councils often used scare tactics that pigeons spread diseases to the old and young.  As more than 80% of the human population  lives in high rise flats, pigeons are also blamed for dirtying washing hang out to dry. It is the environment that make them into pest.

Our tiny state human population has increased drastically in recently. Despite years of  'Keep S'pore Clean' campaign, we still depend on the large numbers of cleaners and sweepers to keep the city state clean. Thus, would we not qualify as 'pest' too ? 

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

S'pore - just one big construction site

There was this joke years ago when S'pore was 'blooming' - that we were a 'City of Cranes'. Cranes -being construction cranes.

Now S'pore is in a frenzy state of construction activities due to years of poor planning with regards to housing and transport infrastructure. These 2 important items are not able to cope with the high influx of immigrants. With the PAP's crazy insistent to house 7 million - S'pore has become just on big construction site. Every where you go, you will see HDB flats and condo being built. Then, there is so much digging all over the island for the Downtown MRT lines.

Even once upon a time peaceful estate like Pasir Ris, is not spare from heavy construction activities. Everywhere you go is road division, pedestrian division, barricades all over....sigh!

It is very humid and warm recently - with so much dust from construction activities. Besides, the air quality is again hit by fire 'hot spots' (agriculture crops clearing by burning) from Indonesia. One gets 'sticky' all over easily when outdoor.

The occasional rain, which used to bring relief in previous years, does not help nowadays. In fact, it becomes even more humid after the rain.

Friday, March 29, 2013

Things are NOT WELL in Singapore

Came across a good article by in a blog. For details :

Summary :
1) our national average SALARY is significantly LOWER than our GDP per capital by 41%

2) We have the 2nd HIGHEST income INEQUALITY amongst economically developed countries.

3) The same goes for our very LOW PURCHASING power

3) We fork out the HIGHEST for our HEALTHCARE cost amongst developed countries (63.9%)

4) We also have the LOWEST RETIREMENT income

1) S'pore has the 2nd HIGHEST CASH surplus

2) Our RESERVE is the 3rd HIGHEST

3) Our POLITICAL leaders' salary is the HIGHEST in the World

"Singapore is in dire need for bold and dynamic changes to kick start our chugging engine. Our government is losing its moral authority at an ever quickening pace, where the trust among the people towards it is eroding at light speed. Such is the state of being when a government forgets its responsibility towards the people that had put it in power. "

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Medisave depleted by Medishield

My mum is a homemaker all her life. Folks like her do not have much retirement savings. Likely, many seniors like my mum could be better off without CPF Medisave a/c and Medishield coverage.

My mum has been paying cash for her health care expenses and has never once touch her medisave nor make any claim on her Medishield. Currently her medisave a/c is depleted by her Medishield as the premium has been increasing by leaps over the years.

She was influenced by my aunts who are 'PAP believers' with blind trust in our govt. They told her it is to her benefit to have a CPF a/c so that she could 'benefit' from govt top-up to CPF members' a/c. This normally happens when CPF policies change, whereby they 'demanded' more money from its members. So the govt would 'lighten' the burden with top-ups.

My mum has been putting money in her CPF a/c for more more than 2 decades in order to receive the occasional govt  top up. Then in 2001, the govt enticed elderly to put more money in their CPF, by encouraging them to be covered under Medishield.

As usual, their tactic is to give peanuts in return for walnuts. So they covered the 1st year premium of $132. My mum at that time was 69. We innocently thought that the premium was reasonable basing on the starting premium amount. By 2006, her Medishield premium has went up to $375 - which is more than 100% increase.

Last year (2012) it was $615. Then the bomb shell this year! Her premium for 2013 is $1123 - which is 82.6% increase in just 1 year! She has only $600+ in her medisave which is not enough to pay for her Medishield premium. As usual, because of the change in CPF policy, the govt will be giving top-up this year, which for her is $400. But there are a number of conditions attached to the top up which is to make sure you have to put more money into the CPF a/c first.

CPF gleefully send her a letter telling her to top up again. She will not be given the govt medisave top up of $400 until her Medishield is renewed. They make sure the $400 top up which could have help to offset her shortfall, is only given after extracting more money from her first.

Besides, the $400 is to 'help' offset premium increase over 2 years. So effectively, it is only $200 per year. What is $200 when the premium has shot up by $508!

She has been transferring money from her meagre life savings into her CPF all these years. Now after being covered by Medishield for 12 years, she has no money in her Medisave.  Elderly like her is better off holding on to their cash which they have full control over. Putting them in CPF only means 'can see but cannot touch'.  If an elderly is unable to keep putting money in CPF, they will be left without Medishield coverage in their critical years.

For this group of seniors, they should have kept away from CPF with its web of complicated policies, which most of them cannot understand.  CPF is as hungry as a wolf for money and is a bottomless pit, always demanding for more money from its members with perpetual changes in policy and all sort of 'new' schemes (CPF Life, Eldershield...etc,etc).

Elderly with little savings and no family member could easily see their retirement dried up and disappear once they get entangle with CPF. Like a spider web, there is NO escape for its victim.

Irritating standard answers from CPF Board

Phone call enquiry to CPF Board is out of the question, unless one has plenty of time to spare and very patient. Their line is perpetually 'hot'. After listening to tons of options and make the necessary selections, you will be told you are the 8th in the queue (normally some large number) - a very long wait indeed.

Writing to them also test one's patient, as CPF just like any other typical govt organisations - loves to give standard answer to any enquiry, including general ones.

As our govt CPF policies are so complicated, most elderly folks are easier fooled by them. For example, the recent govt medisave top up announcement. My aunt in her 80s phoned my mum to express her delight that the govt is topping up her medisave a/c. But to my understanding, she is not cover by medishield (my aunt is a homemaker all her life).  The recent govt top-up to medisave is meant to offset the increase in medishield premium. Thus, she will not get the top up.

I decided to email to CPF to ask them if my aunt who has only medisave a/c but no medishield coverage, is  eligible for the top up.

Though expected, I still find it irritating that they reply with standard answer, which likely they copy and paste all the time. Their reply is : 
To enable us to assist you further, please provide us with your
aunt's NRIC/CPF Account number.
We would be pleased to assist if you require further
clarification. For more information on CPF, please
visit our website at or call us on
1800-227 1188 from Mondays to Fridays, 8am-5.30pm.
Can't they just answer a simple 'yes' or 'no', without asking
for unnecessary details and wasting public's time. 
Talk about productivity. This is a clear cut example of how
unproductive they are. 
Latest Update : After another round of correspondent with CPF-
it is confirm that those with NO Medishield a/c will not
receive any govt top-up to their CPF a/c