Sunday, December 28, 2014

The Most Expensive Pest In Singapore !

Wa ... seems like the 'honour' of being the most expensive pest in S'pore (perhaps even internationally) goes to the rats residing in Bt Batok.

According to the Chinese papers and an article in The Real S'pore, it cost the Town Council a cool $120 K for the 'rat removal operation'.  That translate to $522 per rat ($120 K divide by 230 rats).

A cost saving way is for the Town Council to organise a neighourhood bonding session, where residents meet up to catch rats.  This activity could be included in of our govt current integration program among locals, new citizens and foreign residents.  They could pick up a new trade for backup career planning in pest control which looks very promising, as there are reports of rats sighting all over Singapore.  Besides there are many mosquitoes to spray all over the island from HDB to private condos.

Or the Town Council could have loan the cats from the recently out of business Cuddles Cat Cafe to eliminate the rats. Those 30 cats are jobless and their owner is desperate to recoup his money. I am sure he can loan them out and charge $5 per rat caught. The bill will only be $1150. Even if he charges $20 per rat it only cost the Town Council $4600.

There are many cat owners and stray cats care givers in Bt Batok. Town Council should have sought their help. Some of them may even be willing to let their cats it do for free.  After all the strays are community cats and they will have fun serving the community catching rats. As token of appreciation, Town Council could give these 'heroic' cats 1 month supple of cat food. The cost will be really be PEANUT compare to $120k.

Well, if our Town Councils could lost millions in bad investment without need for accountability to residents, $120k is likely a small sum to them. No need to answer for it, just move on. If money is not enough, raise service and conservancy fee again, never mind even if there are surpluses transfer to the sinking fund.  Coming out with an 'excuse' is as easy as ABC.

Singaporeans are quick to pick up on the ironic and humorous side of the whole issue.

"Wah.... 1 rat is equal to 8gram of 999 gold bar sia.... didnt know rat worth so much..."

"can CPIB come in to investigate?? SGD522 for a rat....?? are we taxpapers idiots or what?? "

"What is $120,000? Not even enough to pay the Minister one month salary. To PAP, this is just PEANUT,.."

These quotes are feedback from humorous readers of The Real Singapore who are sick and tire of our govt stupid habit of sitting on a problem and not acting until it explodes. Remember our MRT breakdown, overcrowded hospital, HDB shortage......woes after woes.. They will then turn panicky and start throwing money to solve it, the only way which they know.  It does not matter how much it cost as it is tax payers' money after all. It does not matter if it addresses the root cause of the problem, because being shortsighted, they will just pour more money into it, without reflecting on their own shortcoming.   If money really can buy talent, how come we have a bunch or morons in parliament ?

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Why GIC and Temasek investing in the SAME Company ?

It is reported that both GIC and Temasek have invested in Xiaomi.  Why is both our sovereign wealth funds investing in the same company ?  Should not they target different companies instead ?  It is not common sense not to put all our eggs in one basket ?

We have seen what happened to the likes of Nokia, Motorola, Sony Ericsson and BlackBerry - all once upon a time 'giant' in the mobile phone scene.  They have become dwarfs now.  Xiaomi may be the next future 'dwarf'.

GIC and Temasek past investment records have many ugly spots.  They got burnt by different companies.  So now they want to share the same black spot ?  

Of Cats and Crows

The recent unpleasant case of cats dying in a cat cafe operated by inexperience owner is a wake up call to those rushing into the latest craze hoping to profit from it.  Likely he does not really have welfare of animals in his heart as those cats in his cafe are not from animal shelters or abandon strays.  He bought them from pet shops so that they look cute and nice. Those who truly care for animals should not patronized cafe run by such owner.  It is a blessing that he is out of business.

One thing for sure, he will not be keeping the cats as he is trying to sell his business set up with around 30 cats.  Hope he will make an effort to re-home the cats should he failed to find a buyer.

There is a place for social enterprise catering to abandon animals where animal welfare is the main driving force besides profit.  Such cat cafe owners deserve to be successful as their success will translate to more animals being helped.

There is an article by Mr Tan CW on "Stop shooting of crows, use humane methods to prevent attacks".   The sad fact is likely attack is just an excuse to shoot them. Crows are being culled regularly just like pigeons.  They are all considered as pest by our govt. Our govt does not practised human method when animals are classified as pest.

Crows are just too intelligent to be poisoned or caught. 

I have witnessed when pigeons flocked to feed on poison food and suffering a painful death, while the crows kept away.  They were in fact crowing away up in the trees warning fellow crows of the danger. There was not a single crow amongst the flock of dead pigeons. Crows seems to have learn from past experience, where pigeons have failed.

Crows will be shot, it is only hope that the shooters ensure the birds die quickly. Wounded birds could be gassed in a bag (eg carbon dioxide).  There are other methods if the govt want to save cost.  Just  don't leave wounded birds to suffer a prolong death. 

Of DOGs and RATs

The root cause of the stray dogs and rats problem at Bt Batok is HUMAN!  Who abandon the dogs in the first place ?  Likely these dogs have formal owners who did not even bother to do sterilized them.

There are black sheep amongst feeders.  They should be fined for littering for being so lazy and inconsiderate. Such irresponsible feeders do not represent other strays care givers.

Dogs do not breed rats. So stop blaming the strays. The rats population exploded because various govt officials are practising their taiji as usual. The concern area MP is busy fixing MPs of opposition ward. The issue was not dealt with until it was all over the internet and MSM forcing action from them.

So folks like 'wolaop' should think deeper and stop being rude calling other stupid in his/her article.

The earth does not belong to the human species alone.  "The love for all living creatures is the most noble attribute of man" - Charles Darwin.   These strays are in undeveloped area, and yet folks like 'wolaop' is so bitter and intolerant of the strays existence.

"If any culture has a sympathy for its animal companions, then it has a chance to become sensitive and caring in all respects."  We can only pray that folks like 'wolaop' forms the minority, as society will be richer and kinder with less them. 

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Medical Cost Running Amok

With medical cost running amok over the last decade, govt grant / subsidy on Medical bill is not helping patients as long as medical cost keep going up even faster than national inflation rate. What is the point if higher govt grant only leads to higher medical cost ?  In end result is the patients cough out even more while the hospitals / clinics pocket more.

Let us not forget that these grants are coming from taxpayers.  Govt grant is between 50 to 70%, with pioneer generation getting slight more.  This is a lot of money since our medical cost is so high. They could have been put to better use helping lower income patients instead of going into hospitals/clinics wealth chest.

Then they force us to save more into our CPF Medisave account, increased our insurance premium for Medishield so that they can extend the coverage to try to catch up with the inflating medical fee. They then tell us that we have Medisave liability if we could not meet their ever increasing minimum sum for Medisave, which currently there seems to have no limit set as it keep going up and up yearly.

This CPF liability thing is ridiculous as how can we own ourselves money?  So what they are in fact telling us is that we owned CPF money which is nonsensical.  The whole CPF system has become senseless when they want to retain our money in CPF and introduced all sorts of policies to have total control over our CPF savings.  Money that could have gone into our retirement needs are sucked into Medisave to cover for our Medishield premium and sky high medical cost.

Some factors that are driving up medical cost which will keep going up if left uncheck are :

- the so call 'public' hospitals/clinics where govt grant is applicable are all privatized so they are all profit oriented

- govt making S'pore into a medical hub in S.E. Asia only increase demand for health services. Increase demand drives up fee.

- availability of money from patient's Medisave, Medishield and govt grant could encourage hefty billing as out right cash payment is reduced and the fee looks 'affordable' on paper.

Feedback From Citizens To Our Govt

Our govt should be thankful to have our citizens taking to the internet like fish to water.  The recent case of rats infestation near Bt Batok MRT station is a case in point.  Often thanks to internet, it leads to coverage by MSM and force the sleeping responsible party into action.

Ah... they get to learn of the seriousness of the problem and how the Town Council, NEA and HDB have been playing taiji pushing away responsibility.

If they really want to know what citizens think about them (remember this can translate to vote during election), read the feedback.  If they have a sense of humour, they will be pretty entertain while getting honest feedback on their stupidity policies. All these good feedback are taken from TR Emeritus.

- Grace Fu's new dept from under the directive of PM : So, all other units (TC, NEA, HDB…everyone!) just sit back and relax. Leave it to Grace to handle the matter.

- Foreign Workers Reliance  : Grace, I suggest you raise a platoon of real cats, trained to ‘search and destroy’ the rats. That way, no need to rely on foreign workers.

- Ineffective Execution of Policies : They can’t solve a satay stick problem, how to solve this rat problem? Some more these rats can run and hide.

- Population White Paper : The rat video is a glimpse of the PAP’s 6.9 million Population White Paper!

- National Conversation : Well actually we don’t really know what to do, maybe we can hold a national conversation on this complex problem and give us your suggestions, what do you think?

- Recent White Elephant Taxi App by LTA : quickly develop an app called rat-rat@sg, to show where the rats are so residents can avoid them.

- Money Grabbing At Every Opportunity : Hey, how about making it a Tourist Attraction? Let’s face it, how many tourists from 1st world countries would have seen rats running around like an army? And the govt can add revenue by selling tickets.

- Not Dealing With Actual Problem : PAP will argue these are not rats but mice and it’s a once in 50 years problem. Anyway, let’s move on!

- PM ridiculous Habit of forming Committee to deal with every single issue  : LHL has to first convene a cabinet meeting to appoint a Coordinating Minister for Rats who will then form a Rats Committee. Remember LHL just formed a grass cutting committee to ensure grass all across SG is cut the same way.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Hefty Medical Bill

My mum went for a cataract operation on her left eye at Changi Hospital. The bill comes up to more than $3K. Most seniors will end up with cataract and doing 2 eyes will set one back by more than $6K !  Even with the so call govt 'grant', the bill is more than $1K for one eye. (Pioneer card, Medishield all not applicable for cataract operation)

This is crazy as cataract is such a common procedure nowadays, which is make 'easier' with medical and technology advancement. One would have thought the fee should not see such drastic increase.   The closest comparison is Lasik surgery for vision correct. The cost has been coming down over the years. So why is cataract surgery cost heading up ?

Then the bill is not clear.  'CONSUMABLES' are listed twice which total near to $300 - what are these consumables is not stated.  There is a charge for 'OTHER PROCEDURES' which amounts to $65.42  - no idea what procedures are these. Some 'CONSUMABLES' I can think of were the 1 cup of Milo, 1 slice of bread, hospital grown and 4 bottle of eye drops.

It seems funny that these 'CONSUMABLES' cost more than the main item which is len implant which is $177.50. After all cataract operation is about replacing the len.

The highest cost in the bill is the  'FACILITY FEE' which is  $1551.50 !!

All these so call govt 'grant' or 'subsidy' is not making sense. Just like at the Polyclinic where the consultation fee before 'grant' is more than what most GPs would charge.  Even some of their common medication cost is higher when compare to private pharmacies. We are talking here of non-prescription medication easily available at local pharmacies.

So looks like hospital is doing the same thing.  Jack up the fee for everything, then apply the govt 'grant' and the bill looks good on paper.  We always end up paying higher medical fee with higher govt 'grand'.  What is the point then ?  Control medical cost instead !

Why build such big fanciful hospitals and end up patients have to pay for all the 'frills' ? The Chinese saying about 'look good but taste terrible' aptly applies to our hospital.  What a large building but the waiting time for a consultation averages 3 hours. It is so overcrowded in the waiting rooms ! 

If a simple day surgery cost is so expensive, one shivers to think what bill will be for serious chronic diseases involving deteriorating internal organs like our aging heart, kidney, liver......

Hefty medical bills are 'killing' off the poor patients after they survive their illness.

Here is a comparison of FACILITY FEE of hospitals from family record - all day operation without hospitalisation :

2004  Changi Hospital $534  for pile removal
2005  KK Hospital (formal one) $ 329 for abscess removal
2009  Changi Hospital $273 for release of trigger finger
2010  SNEC $605 for Lasik for vision correction
2014  Changi Hospital $$1551.50 for cataract operation


Sunday, December 7, 2014

M1 cheapest data plan in town

M1 is having a promotion. Not sure how long it will last.

1GB (1000MB) going for $10 (no contract) with 30 days expiry (it used to be $20).

Now SingTel data plan (no contract with 30 days expiry) sure looks very expensive as $10 can get you only 200MB, $15 for 500MB and $20 for 1 GB.

Besides Singtel rate is 0.27 cents per KB, while M1 is 0.20 cents per KB.

Those who are without contract can consider switching telco or having a 2nd SIM card for surfing the internal.  

Even for those with contract, it is worth getting a 2nd SIM card as we know exceeding the data usage specify in data plan is expensive.

Those who use smart phone mainly for surfing should not sign up for contract plan as the data is more expensive. Exceeding the data specify can be heavy on the pocket.  Besides unused data cannot be carry forward to the next month.

For data plan without contract, unused data can be carry forward to next month as long as we purchase the data before expiry date. There is no way you can exceed the data as you will be cut off. So no shocking surprise.

SingTel contract plan with monthly data expiry, the disadvantage is obvious as :
SuperLite $27.90 for a miserable 100MB
Lite $39.90 for 2GB
Value $59.90 for 3 GB

M1 even without promotion offers 3GB for $30 with 50 days expiry.  There is no contract binding and unused data can carry forward to the next 50 days with data purchase top up.

Note :
Do not underestimate the 0.20 cent per KB (1000KB = 1MB). It can work out to a lot if you overshot your specified data plan under contract. For example on average a video eats up 10 MB.
So it will cost you 0.2 x 10 x1000 divide by 100 to change to $ = $20 to watch a video !

So even what looks like a insignificant difference of 0.07 cents between SingTel and M1 would translate to $7 more for every 10MB.  Those familiar with data usage will know that 10MB is really very little and can be used up within minutes or watching a short video clip.

For SingTel the pay-per-use rate is even higher at 0.54 cent per KB. Likely this is the rate they charge you when you overshot your contract data play. Then watching a video on your smart phone will cost you $54!