Saturday, December 31, 2005
will become even more open in the coming years:
1. Crazy Horse has opened in Singapore and the topless show is so spectacular.
2. SexPo was opened to Singaporeans in Oct 2005.
3. The mega-Casinos will open in 2008.
See how open we have become under the new leadership of Lee Hsien Loong. However, during this year a number of people misunderstood the meaning of the Singapore govt becoming more open and did some really crazy things:
1. Andrew Kuan answered PM Lee's call for people to step forward. I guess he misunderstood that when PM Lee said step forward, it means step forward to support and join the PAP. He was severely humiliated and is now fighting defamation lawsuits. See how important it is not to misinterpret the words of our dear leaders.
2. Martyn See made a party political film about opposition leader CSJ and violated the film act. The police is now investigating him. This feller must have misunderstood the meaning of Singapore becoming more open. We are open to books and documentary that detail the great achievements of our PAP leaders but we don't want alternatives to confuse us.
3. A group of Singaporeans thought Singapore is now open to protests. Sorry wrong number! Singapore is open to protests by foreigners who will be allowed to during the WTO talks in Singapore but Singaporeans are NOT allowed to protest - the riot police will take care of you if you try.
Singaporeans should be thankful that we have become a more open society under Lee Hsien Loong. We are open to bar top dancing, casinos, gay parties, SexPo and the crazy horse cabaret. Unfortunately, some members of our society wrongly think the PAP govt is now open to alternative ideas?!!Thank goodness we have powerful laws in place to correct their misconception. For their own good, their thoughts have been corrected and people like Martyn See are monitored closely.
Singaporeans (especially the men) can look forward more openness in 2006, the kind of openness that matters - perhaps Cat 3 Hong Kong movie to spice up your mundane lives. As for the other kind of openness - alternative ideas, transparency, accountability, liberal democracy - it is totally useless and disruptive to Singaporeans' happy lives, I'm glad the govt is doing its best to minimise this wrong type of openness by outlawing protests, extending the official secrets act, and demolishing people like Martyn See.
Thursday, December 29, 2005
Sorry for being so gory, some would say insensitive in my previous post on the above. The Today newspaper reported the incident and they found out how it happened. After the spate of 5 suicides last year, the MRT has done its utmost to prevent people from jumping in front of trains.
Every thing that can be done has been done! There are now 3 types of warning signs at MRT stations:
"DO NOT STEP BEYOND THE YELLOW LINE UNTIL THE TRAIN STOPS"
"DANGER DO NOT GO DOWN THE TRACKS"
"VALUE LIFE, ACT RESPONSIBLY".
With these 3 signs at MRT stations, the problem of people committing suicide by MRT is thought to be solved. Singaporeans are not expected to disobey any signs even when they are depressed and want to kill themselves. Everyone is so shocked that this 32 year old man did not follow the 3 instructions at the MRT stations. Initially I thought he must be a foreigner, but it turned out he was a Singaporean after all....perhaps he was educated overseas. Today reported that he died right next to the signs!!
Singaporeans must obey the rules and signboards that have been put up all over the island, otherwise they will be in trouble. Singaporeans are so lucky to have so many signs to tell them what to do for their own good. If the man had obeyed the signs, he would not have died.
Wednesday, December 28, 2005
Why do the lucky people of Singapore want to kill themselves anyway? Death by MRT is such a horrible way to go.
It boils down to this logic:
Singaporean citizens had no right to stage protests because this would undermine “the singularly stable and upright stature Singapore has managed to uphold.”
The logic is absolutely correct. The PAP govt has taken great pains to cultivate a worldclass image, and for the good of Singaporeans this image has to be protected. We cannot allow protestors to stand on the streets and shout demands at our govt. That is simply not nice and harms the flawless image that our govt painstakingly creates.
Anyway, it is for the protestors own good to be outlawed:
1. Why waste time protesting - nothing will change anyway? Might as well go to the latest AUDIO HOUSE sale to get cheap MP3 players.
2. You can write to the feedback unit like thousands of Singaporeans or drop your suggestions for 'greater transparency' in the HDB suggestion box. If your suggestion is good, there is no reason for HDB to reject it. Who needs to stand in the hot sun when there are suggestion boxes in all the ministries.
3. If you feel stress out and need to protest, please go to Hong Kong where the people are used to protests. In Singapore, people will stare at you like you landed from outer space. People will comment "why these clowns standing in the hot sun?!"....."why are they blocking my way to the shopping center"
4. Remember more Singaporeans will attend Robinson sale than your protests. It is so pathetic and sad to be a protester in Singapore. The law to prevent protests is for your own good, the govt does not want you to be sad.
5. Hong Kong protestors have been able to bring about greater democracy, accountability, welfare for the people, and improvements to the justice system. After reading Straits Times everyday for 40 years, all these things means nothing to Singaporeans so there is little reason to protest in Singapore.
We are so lucky that protests are outlawed in Singapore and that information given to the citizens are consistent and straightforward. It is a waste of energy and time to organise protests - instead of spending the time at a karaoke, buffet and shopping. We are lucky to have a govt that wants us to use the our time constructively for our own enjoyment, ...have you guys gone to the Crazy Horse show - simply spectacular. When the casino is built, there is even less reason for protests as there is more Singaporeans can do to entertain themselves. Banning protests is a wonderful step forward for Singapore!
Monday, December 26, 2005
1. No Significant Election issues. The economy is fine and every one is doing well except the bottom 30%. Who cares as long as you're in the upper 70% which is the majority of the people, it does not affect you. Everyone welcomes the casino which the govt has explained is good for us. The govt has handled the NKF saga well, as long as it is contained to the NKF and does not spill to other organisations, I guess people are alright with it. As for fee hikes, don't worry about it, the govt will not hike anything until after the elections so you'll feel very good when you enter the polling station - by then you would have forgotten all the previous fee hikes. Other issues such as human rights, death penalty, transparency, accountability, democracy and freedom, means little to Singaporeans so they are not important.
2. No significat opposition. I guess people who consider joining the opposition realised it will bring bad luck! Yes, suddenly to your horror, you might find that your income tax has been filed incorrectly, you might vebally defame someone unintentionally, your past employers might start talking about your lack of competence and the Straits Times might publish certain parts of what you write or say and unluckily those parts always seem to make the opposition guys look stupid. You might fill up a form wrongly and get disqualified. By sheer coincidence, the area where you've been trying to build support can be redrawn to another GRC so you have to redo all your hard work....see how unlucky it is to be an Opposition member. Of course worst things might occur like the pain of bankruptcy or being forced to leave this wonderful island. Although there's no logical explanation why people bad things happen to the opposition, my take is Singaporeans are all born lucky but once they join the Opposition that luck disappears instantly.
3. Is the Opposition necessary? Obviously not. Singapore didn't have an opposition until that historic win by JBJ. We were doing well and humming along until JBJ started pointing out various forms of injustice in our society. Hey, come on doesn't he get it? Singaporeans like to believe they are living in a more or less perfect lucky society. We don't need to know that our Chief Justice is appointed by the PM and hence there is no proper separation of executive and judicial powers. Who cares about that or even understand its importance? Good thing JBJ like many opposition members suffered a bout of bad luck and was 'brought to his knees' - bankrupt and powerless. The other day at City Hall MRT, while discussing with a friend which buffet dinner to eat that day, I almost bang into JBJ. When I look into his eyes, he still has that fiece look and anger. I guess he is angry about all his bad luck this past few years. He was selling a book called "Hatchet man of Singapore", not wanting to invite any bad luck upon myself, I decided not to buy the book.
What is important is the Selection System in Singapore. You see once you're selected into the PAP, your chance of winning the election is almost 100%. The election has zero value! What better system than to have elites select the best of the best into parliament. They will select like minded members to preserve the success of Singapore. With a selection system in place our system can only be strengthened and there will be no stopping Singapore. We can keep going in the same direction as before operating with the same logic as before and thus we can tackle a fast changing world with certainty. Elitism has served us well and because the 'best of the best' are selected, there is no question they deserve the best of the best salaries and perks. By paying them the highest salaries in the world, they will be able to solve our everyday problems such as high medical costs, high transport costs, high utilities and housing costs with great sympathy and empathy.
We, Singaporeans are such lucky people, we have almost elminated the need for elections and yet we are able to call ourselves a democratic society. Like many Singaporeans, my hope for this election is that I don't have to queue up but get a walkover in my GRC so that I can spend my time on an overseas tour. We should just hand power to the people who have been selected the PAP, and without question hand them our trust, why trouble yourself to think so much. Don't worry we will get endless convincing reassurance from Straits Times that system is superb ....we will be able to sleep soundly at night.....it can't get more blissful than that!
Friday, December 23, 2005
Please guys donate lah. You must! Because if you don't, think of what will happen to those poor kidney patients.
Our govt simply cannot afford to help them. To help the poor, sick and unemployed would put too much a strain on the govt's fiances, our nation can ill afford that. Please Singaporeans, YOU have to be compassionate. Our govt simply afford to take care of these kidney patients, if you don't donate the NKF say they will be left to die.
For the benefit of the citizens of Singapore, the GIC is helping to your money globally. Take the Star Tower in Korea, for example, our GIC invested S$1.6 billion (yes, billion) in this building and forgot to pay the tax. The tax bill is alone is $27M. Investing in this single building in Korea will bring great benefit to the Singaporeans in the future, so it is important not to use the money for things like kidney patients, the aged, the unemployed and sick.
See how lucky Singaporeans' to have a govt that is able to allocate the national wealth so well for the benefit of Singaporeans.
The NKF patients and donors are not the only victims. The MediaCorp artistes who walked on knifes, hang upside down, risk their lives climbing tall buildings....these fellers are victims too. I heard from coffee shop talk that the each received an small gift like MP3 player for their efforts. For each show, MediaCorp received $2.5M for the production, hey don't be shocked now according to MediaCorp, this is a market subsidy of $2.5M because they gave a 50% discount on the commercial rate for charity shows. See how kind they are, why so shy to tell us only now!
I'm so shocked that Durai organised a study trip to Vegas - $70,000. Our NKF shows are so good, Vegas showbiz guys should come to Singapore to learn. Each NKF show takes in $16M, Vegas for its megashows, I don't think has a single show that makes so much in a single night. The only thing Vegas can teach us is gambling and casinos, I heard the PAP govt also organised a "study trip" to Vegas - I'm sure that trip cost much less than $70,000 because our govt is so efficient....and everyone on the trip flew economy.
I sure miss those NKF shows. It is one of the few occasions where we see MediaCorp artistes being themselves instead of acting some scripted role. The concern they showed the Kidney pateints, their immense courage and total dedication were a huge motivation for us all to try to do something for the poor. These artiste are such compassionate people, all of them were able to cry on comera during those NKF shows. Whenever, I see them cry, I can't help but to dial those 1900 numbers.
We Singaporeans are so lucky to get to enjoy those shows for so many years - I hope the new NKF continues to organise these shows - I'm sure Singaporeans will see them in a new light.
Thursday, December 22, 2005
Kidney foundation seeks court order over defamatory e-mail
Agence France Presse. May 6, 1999.SINGAPORE 'S National Kidney Foundation (NKF) is seeking a court order to compel Internet service providers to give the names of subscribers who may have circulated a defamatory e-mail against it, the Straits Times reported Thursday.
If the court order, which takes up to a month to obtain, is granted, it would be the first ever served on Singapore's three internet service providers, the report said.
"A high profile organization like the NKF will always be subjected to comments both good and bad. We must be prepared to take a tough stand and face them," said Matilda Chua, NKF's senior associate director.
This unprecedented move follows a furor last week over an exercise by Singapore's largest Internet service provider which scanned the computers of its subscribers to check for a virus without permission.
The exercise triggered fears in the tightly-ruled island that even cyberspace was not free from state control.
The NKF's move arose from e-mail sent to several people by a local woman accusing the NKF of paying high bonuses to its staff. She allegedly urged them not to donate to the foundation, the report said.
Since then, the woman, identified as Tan Kiat Noi, has paid S$50,000 dollars to the foundation in damages and has publicly apologized and withdrawn her statements.
The 48 e-mail subscribers who have received the e-mail from Tan and forwarded them to others have been tracked down and received letters from the NKF's lawyers, the report said.
A lawyer for the NKF said the 48 were asked to disclose the names and e-mail addresses of those they might have sent the defamatory e-mail to and were given a week to comply.
They may also be asked to pay damages, the lawyer told the paper.
To understand how to prevent another NKF incident, I studied the land of scandals - Korea. Everyday, a new scandal is exposed, the latest being that of the prominent cloning scientist. You know why Korea has so many scandals? Its media is fearless and independent, the people are born protesters who question everything. Learning from Korea, we have to put in the following safeguards to prevent more NKFs from happening:
1. Control of the media. In a sense we already have a very good system here, the SPH would not have brought down Durai, had he not been so arrogant to sue them. If he didn't sue them, he would have lasted another 20 years, nobody would have expose him. The Korean system is terrible, with investigative reporters mining for the truth tirelessly to expose wrong doings. I feel sorry for the Korean people to have to suffer scandals so often - it must be painful for them to find the cloning man they respect so much was a cheat.
2. Prohibit Protests. In Korea, many wrong doings were exposed when protesters demand actions against big businesses called Chaebols. We should be thankful that protests are rare and prohibited in Singapore, however, there is a loophole that allows protests of 4 people or less to occur. Although the riot police will turn up, the protestors cannot be presecuted under the law. We should amend the law so that these people can be jailed, otherwise, they may increase the risk of scandals happening in blissful Singapore.
3. Build Trust. We should have a "Build Trust" campaign after the NKF affair boil over. So that Singaporean's trust in their public institutions is increased. The "Build Trust" campaign should explain all the safeguards already put in place by our capable govt, so the people don't have to demand transparency or probes.
4. Strengthen Legislation. Such as the OSA (Official Secrets Act) to prevent information from leaking out. We can consider death penalty for those who leak official information.
5. Prevent of Freedom of Information. You look at the high frequency of scandals in Western societies. This is due in part to Western Liberal Democracy ideas such as FOIA (Freedom of Information Act). These are ideas we should prevent in our society as they might cause scandals to be exposed. Thank god we don't have such legislation as the FOIA.
In conclusion, Singapore has been relatively scandal free because we have all the safeguards in place to prevent NKF type affairs from happening. I wished Durai had never sued SPH and caused all this trouble. Singaporeans would not have their happy lucky lives disrupted by this whole affair. Straits Times had to dedicate more than 10 pages of its papers to the NKF today instead of publicising the accomplishments of the PAP govt. We should however be thankful that the NKF affair is probably one-off, with many safeguards in place we can sleep tight that odds of another scandal being exposed is minimal.
1. High pay. So? Is it against the law to have high pay? Ministers also have high pay! It was approve by board of directors so we can say it is above board.
2. Wrong patient number. Instead of 1700+, it was stated as 2000. So? It was rounded to nearest thousand. Which law is broken here? None.
3. 10 cents per $ to patients. They were inefficient. So? It is not againts the law to be inefficient. BTW, how much of cost of HDB flat goes directly to building of the flat? ...NKF also market subsidy what. Compare the dialysis cost with Gleneagles hospital, patients save plenty.
4. High reserves. Hey hello?! NKF has $200M, the govt has $100B in reserves. What is wrong with high reserves?!
5. $70,000 study trip to Las Vegas. So? When the govt decide to build casino, they also send a team to Las Vegas. How much was spent?
6. Forte Systems business deals. Conflict of interest? So? It is a matter of opinion whether they give the best deal. It was the IT dept head that decided....where is he? Went back to India already.
7. Flying 1st class. So? Which law is broken? None.
8. No Transparency. So? Is everyone transparent? Is GIC transparent?
9. Abitrary increments & unclear HR policy. If staff perform well, why can't Durai as CEO increase pay?
10. Run on the ideas, whims and caprice of the chief executive. Sure. So? My current company and thousands of companies in Singapore also like that what.
What is left to charge him with is usage of company car by his wife. Maybe that will result in a fine of $5K or so.
Wednesday, December 21, 2005
1. Never sue the SPH. The Straits Times is full of people who used to work for the ISD. They are good at finding your dirt and destroying you. So you have to control them and get them over to your side.
2. Singaporeans can be squeezed. Even desperate kidney patients can be squeezed for their last dollar without a whimper of protest. They were hardly subsidized and somehow magically these folks some of the so poor and helpless can fork out $2000 per month for treatment. Its a real miracle.....! So the lesson for the govt is never to spend money helping the poor and sick, somehow they will find a way to get by....even if they can't they will just suffer in silence so why bother to help them. The govt of Singapore should allow more miracles to happen continuing their policy of not giving much aid to the unemployed, poor and sick.
3. You can fool most Singaporeans most of the time. They don't seem to mind. They are willing to part with their money without asking too many questions. Once the money leave their hands, they don't bother to check where it has gone. For the past 20 years, Durai has been a model citizen. Just put up a few touching stories and their pockets will be opened.
4. Transparency is a horrifying thing. After the NKF episode, I can't imagine people wanting to ask for more transparency. Imagine if a big organisation like HDB becomes transparent, the report would be like 30,000 pages compared with 300 pages. Questions like how much direct cost to build a HDB flat will be answered...... Singaporeans risk even more emotional turmoil.....
5. Patrons do nothing but show up at charity shows. What do you expect? They are important people who are really busy. They do nothing and know nothing.
6. Accountants can do magic. Yes and NKF accounts were also audited. See how important accountants are to make you look good.
7. The truth brings pain. It is best kept hidden and beautified by a colorful facade.
Tuesday, December 20, 2005
NKF deserves continued supportMonday • July 18, 2005Ho Ching
I write in my personal capacity.
I have been a long-time admirer of the National Kidney Foundation (NKF).
The NKF has been outstanding in supporting kidney and other patients. They and their supporters have been tireless not just in raising funds. They have played a key role in providing life saving dialysis services for kidney patients and more.
They also counsel and sometimes cajole or even berate patients and their families to take responsibility for themselves and make an effort to live.
Patients and their families, including their children, are encouraged to work together to contribute to their own support, and not give up.
This helps them retain their self-respect and live their lives confidently as full members of society. I cheer the NKF for this enlightened philosophy.
Taking on a dialysis patient is almost like adopting a chronically and critically ill child. You take responsibility not just to give money at the spur of the moment in a flash of sympathy, or to organise dialysis sessions for the week in a spurt of enthusiasm.
You know that it is a serious life-long commitment of support. You know that any interruption of that support means fear, a loss of hope, and a death sentence of sorts. Many long-time Giro donors understand this.
The NKF has wisely built up strong reserves over the years. It is a sensible and responsible approach. The NKF's fears are understandable. No one likes to have the dreadful responsibility of deciding which patients should live when money dries up in an economic downturn.
What if 10 per cent or 20 per cent of their patients or their patients' breadwinners lose their jobs in an extended downturn? Surely, you hope to continue dialysis for them even if they cannot co-pay their part?
I would like to recommend that the NKF consider building and managing its reserves as an endowment. It also needs a sufficient buffer to weather a deep recession.
Perhaps this was what it had been trying to do. Perhaps the prolonged years of difficulties during the Asian financial crisis of the late 1990s and the earlier brink of the 1985 recession have spurred the frenetic pace of fund raising in recent years.
But this funding model needs to be properly modelled, analysed and communicated.
When the NKF completes its review and puts together its plans, do share them. I am sure Singaporeans and many others share a chord of sympathy for your cause.
On the issue of CEO pay, I believe that even charities ought to be managed professionally. How else can we extend high quality and impactful services including specialist educational and therapy support to those in need? After all, we do not expect CEOs of publicly-funded hospitals to be poorly paid, do we?
Indeed, the NKF is more like a community hospital with multiple centres for high-quality, life-long critical care. It operates and manages dialysis centres to provide vital life-saving services at the highest safety levels. It does this with a heart, looking after the emotional and psychological well--being of its patients, too. Taken as a whole, the NKF has certainly done very well for its patients.
True, there will be volunteers, much admired and respected, with independent means who could help charities without having to take a single cent in salary.
There are also others — much loved and lauded — who for religious reasons or perhaps in memory of a parent, child or friend, would give selfless service to others. Society owes them all a debt of gratitude and applauds their spirit of charity.
But we should not then believe that all those involved in charitable causes should in turn be charitable cases themselves.
Skilled specialists and experienced managers would soon turn to other careers and job opportunities if they cannot earn a living commensurate with their skills and ability. And we would all be the poorer for it as services drop in quality or wither away.
Sometimes, in a life-threatening illness, all the money in the world will not be able to bring a loved one back.
Mr Durai has helped make a difference in the NKF where medical science has offered a lifeline, though at a cost of tireless fund raising for life time dialysis support. I would not begrudge Mr Durai a proper and well-earned compensation and bonus. He probably earned less than what he would have earned if he had continued in his profession as a lawyer.
Yes, some of the things that Mr Durai has allegedly done rather raise a questioning eyebrow or two. Some may have crossed the line of proper conduct in respect of conflicts of interest as well. If so, they should be corrected.
It is also important to put in place a set of practical governance guidelines to minimise conflicts of interest, especially for an institution of public trust.
While the leadership of a CEO is critical to shape and drive any organisation, it is equally important that the board balances its support and guidance for its CEO, with its fiduciary duty. It has to serve as an impartial guardian of stakeholder interest in a public institution.
As a civilised society, we should not lightly condemn anyone in the court of public opinion without the benefit of due process and the right to a fair hearing. Even murderers have that right.
If there has been corruption or misuse of funds, then let the relevant authorities investigate and take the case through due process for a fair and proper judgment. There may have been errors of judgment. Most of us can accept and forgive this.
On the other hand, we should resolutely guard against those with serious faults of character and not put them into positions of trust. But let's be fair and keep an open mind, and give the benefit of doubt until the full facts are known.
These deliberations and decisions have important long-term considerations and impact. They should be taken calmly and steadily, away from the acid of hate and anger of betrayal.
Understandably, many feel betrayed. They feel they have been deceived into making donations of hard-earned money. However, this is no excuse for vandalising the NKF facilities, or heaping abuse on NKF staff. Two wrongs won't make a right.
Let us not forget there are real patients who continue to need dialysis support. I urge the staff of NKF to continue to support them well, and not let this wave of fury shake them from their mission and professionalism to serve their patients well.
I am sure it would be a tremendous comfort to both the patients and their caregivers if the rest of us can keep calm and give them our moral support.
Finally, whatever the transgressions or shortcomings, I want to put on record my deep gratitude for Mr Durai and the NKF and their supporters, including numerous donors, media artistes and volunteers as well as board members and patron.
Together, they have been tireless in their efforts and contributions all these years to make a difference in the lives of many kidney patients in need.
I do hope that every one of us, including Mr Durai and the NKF, will emerge the stronger, wiser and better from this serious and unfortunate setback.
I am also grateful to all the volunteers and professionals working in the various other voluntary welfare organisations. They too have given tireless and dedicated service of time, effort, money, love and emotions, to the young and old, to those sickly and in need, in their respective worthy causes.
Whatever their faults and foibles, the volunteers, staff and professionals in our VWOs have collectively given hope to many amongst us, and made this island a better place.
In turn, I hope Singaporeans and my fellow men will join me too in supporting them, and show them our generosity and warmth of the human spirit.
Many drops an ocean make, and many hands will lighten the load. On my part, I will continue to donate to the NKF and other favourite charities.
Ho Ching, the executive director of Temasek Holdings, sent this letter in her private capacity
Very interesting article in The Times. After spending much effort to catch them and lock them up........ Iraqi scientists - Chemical Sally, Dr. Germ, etc, have been released by the US forces. Why? ....Because they can't figure out what these people did wrong!!!
These people no doubt worked for the Iraqi govt during Saddam Hussein's reign as scientists supposedly to develop various weapons including chemical ones for Iraq, but what have they done wrong? There are US scientists building nuclear weapons for the Americans and British scientists building missiles for Britain. etc. So what have these Iraqi scientists done that is different? Nothing. ...also the WMDs that the US was looking for do not exist, ...so how can these scientists be guilty of building something that doesn't exist...see the problem of locking them up?!
So after 2.5 years of jail, they were released.
The World is so lucky with US as the superpower. They are so good at eliminating threats even imaginery ones.
Monday, December 19, 2005
See what horrors transparency brings. The heart pain of realising that for every dollar you donate during those NKF shows - half went to MediaCorp for organising the show, the rest went to NKF administrative overheads and 10 cents goes to the patient.
If every cent collected went directly to the patients, kidney dialysis would have been practically free like in Malaysia.
Let me urge Singaporeans NEVER EVER let another NKF type revelation happen, it is so painful to know the truth:
1. Stop trying to dig into various institutions to find out what they are doing. Just have trust, trust makes you feel good and sleep well at night. Don't ask what GIC is doing with our reserves just accept that it is in good hands.
2. Stop asking for more transparency - otherwise what we dig out can really shock us.
Questions like : "How much of the cost of a HDB flat goes directly into building the flat? "...should be outlawed.
We have to believe that Singapore is a country of high integrity and low corruption....and continue to perpetuate this view so as to retain our good reputation to outsiders. Others will view us with envy, so long as we believe, they will also believe. Straits Times will help to play a central role in these beliefs. Imagine - if Durai did not sue Straits Times, the good times and the NKF shows would have gone on forever.....and ever. That would have been so wonderful.
Lets not forget that NKF was once viewed as a world class organisation that other countries wanted to emulate.
Saturday, December 17, 2005
Sometimes Singaporeans expect countries they visit to be like Singapore. These people are just asking for DISAPPOINTMENT. Take Hong Kong as an example, people say, its size, history under the British and the fact that it is an island makes it somewhat similar. However, a number of Singaporeans were stunned by an event that occurs routinely in Hong Kong - protests.
When asked by the reporter if such events will ever take place in Singapore, the lucky Singaporean girl said:
"Never, our government is too efficient"
Yesiree, if 4 protestors appear in Singapore, 12 riot police will appear instantly to take care of them. If 200 protestors appear, the whole SAF can be instantly mobilised to take care of them.
That explains why protests don't exist in Singapore. It is illegal anyway, if more 4 people protest, the law is broken. If less than 4 people protest, it is also broken under miscellaneous disturbance of peace.
We are so lucky to be Singaporeans. Our govt is so efficient.
Hmmm....What am I getting at? .....Defense. Hear me out and you will begin to understand the wisdom of our leaders.
You see Singapore is dependent on foreign labor in particular Malaysia, should these workers feel insecure, they would just leave and ruin our marvelous economy. What is Singapore without its economy? ...
See the wisdom now? We need to maintain a strong defense in case rogue nations such as Iran & Syria decide to take us up and cause our Malaysian FTs to flee home.....this would really ruin us. That is why we should maintain a high level of defense spending and have every male citizen serve a lengthy NS to secure our nation.
We can see that our friendly neighbor, Malaysia also subscribe to the same logic. Whenever we spend heavily on defense, they would reciprocate the kindness. They have been shopping actively, and their purchases look very interesting multi-rocket launchers, reactive armour polish tanks,...etc. I feel so lucky that we have such great partners in Asean who not only supply us with critical foreign labour but supplement our defense by spending so much on military hardware to keep the region safe against rogue nations such as Iran, Syria and N. Korea.
Our leader's logic of spending heavily on defense & of having NS cannot be possibly be wrong. See....our friendly neighbor is also starting to have NS too for the greater good of this region. If Singapore goes the other way and cut down our defense spending, it will be disastrous! Knowing the Malaysia govt, they will cut down even more and use the money for fuel subsidy and the building of national car factories. Such a vicious cycle CANNOT be allowed!! We MUST therefore maintain our defense spending.
I'm glad we have such wise leaders who realise the importance of National Service and the defense of Singapore.
Thursday, December 15, 2005
It is time to put this unhappy episode behind us and start donating again. The NKF scandal captivated, angered and even confused some Singaporeans. See what transparency brings - nothing but unhappiness and anger. The main lesson from the NKF episode for me is that transparency is best avoided because it brings so much unhappiness. Before the NKF scandal, everyone was so happy with the NKF, gladly donating to the charity....I wished things have continued that way so I get to watch those highly entertaining spectacular NKF shows....I believe many Singaporeans like myself really miss those shows.
I strongly suggest, for Singaporean's own good the following 'transparency' questions should be outlawed:
1. How much does it cost to build a HDB flat?
2. What is the GIC doing with our money? What is their performance?
3. How is our CPF managed?
Why frustrate yourself asking questions that won't be answered in the first place? If answered, they might be upsetting and make you unhappy.
Anyway back to the NKF. I would like to urge Singaporeans to continue donating to the NKF. The NKF CEO has said that if you stop donating, the kidney patients will be left to die because they can't afford treatment. Our govt probably cannot afford to help these people at all.
Each session of NKF dialysis now cost S$162 (down from $200). Kidney patients should be thankful for this S$162 treatment because it is high quality. Unlike in Malaysia where kidney patients are given cheap dialysis S$26 by the Malaysia NKF, Singaporeans are lucky to receive $162 dialysis treatment. You can see from the picture that each patient has his own fish tank to look at while undergoing treatment - imagine if you're in Malaysia, you probably have to bring your own book or MP3 player, how terrible. Singapore's kidney patients are so lucky to receive such high value treatment.
Wednesday, December 14, 2005
Man falls 4 storeys to his death. Lies dead next to a restaurant, people continue coming in and eating like nothing has happened. ..... Why should we allow a dead person to interfere with enjoyment of dining?
Highly emotional Australians who have not been through the same indifference conditioning are so shocked by the hanging of Nguyen - they protest, they lend support to his family etc - and Nguyen was just a non-elite salesman. They spend all their time and energy to save him instead of going shopping and karaoke - these Australians are so strange. In Singapore, the hanging is one big non-event, what is the big deal?
Singaporeans are so lucky. They have been trained to continue with their lives and own enjoyment no matter what happens to others in their society. ...so long as their own well being is not affected, they can just keep going on.
Monday, December 12, 2005
Where to start? .....
Lets just start with the facts:
1. In the past 20 years, there 're only 2 incidents of one country invading another. One is Iraq invading Kuwait, the other is US invading Iraq. Of course when US decide to invade you, the best thing to do is run and hide, don't try to fight them. Iraq was taught a lesson for its invasion, not only did they get nothing from it, trade sanctions were imposed to maximise economic pain.
2. Every single country around us depends on global trade and are inextricably connnected to rest of the world economy. They will kill themselves financially should they decide to misbehave. When their economy collapse, so will their leaders.....
3. Singapore is a little red dot. Taking Singapore will not expand your territory very much.
4. Invasions of other countries are usually carried out by countries that are run by dictator and whose actions are not accountable to the people. Our surrounding countries have become even more democratic and liberal than us........
5. In the whole wide world, only citizens of Israel serve a longer N.S. than us. South Korean living under the threat of N. Korea (which is run by a non-democratic mad man) serve 24 months of NS. Taiwan which is under direct threats from china requires one male per family to serve 22 months of N.S.
Why do we have NS? Here's why:
1. Exercise. Have you notice how many obese people there are in countries without NS? NS exists to help us save our health care cost. For some people their in camp is the only exercise they get.
2. Memories. You notice how everytime you meet your NS pals even after 15-20 years, there are always "the good old days" to talk about. NS is a great experience with many unforgettable memories.
3. Fairness. To be fair we have to keep the tradition going. Youngsters today must be given the same opportunity to experience NS otherwise its so unfair to them.
4. Discipline. It is a time to learn discipline because our schools seem to be doing such a lousy job.
I enjoyed my NS days alot and I'm glad that the govt gave me this chance to serve the nation. NS is an institution that should be preserved for as long as possible. Singapore men are so lucky to get to serve NS, I really feel sorry for those FTs who come here just for the well paying jobs, they are missing the best experience Singapore has to offer them.
Saturday, December 10, 2005
"How apathetic can S'poreans be?"
I've said many times that apathy is a trait which has been painstakingly cultivated by the Singapore govt. All this is done for the good of Singaporeans. The opposite of apathy is "activism". Activism is strongly discouraged because it harms the Singapore govt's reputation. Over the years we, Singaporeans, have been conditioned to "do nothing except mind your own business". I remember prior to the Iraq war people from every single country held mass protests against the US except in Singapore - Singaporeans are smart, why bother to speak up against something that cannot be changed, its a waste of time and energy. Why get your hands dirty if you're getting nothing in return?
Anyway, I like the way the forum letter ends ....."We are lucky that Singapore is not buffeted by hurricanes and tsunamis", ....yes Singaporeans are so lucky!
There used to be people sleeping in tents at Changi beach but the govt managed to solve the problem by requiring campers to have permits. I guess they are now living in comfortable homes.
I have seen many people sleeping at HDB void decks, I was thinking these people probably fell asleep out of boredom and forgot to go home.
In the report above, each homeless person in gets 56 pounds (about S$150?) per week from the British govt, it is not enough for rent + food so the homeless people in the picture decided to spend all their pounds on cappuccino and sandwitch. Somehow the British homeless are not too smart right? .... You can't get a place in London for 56 pounds, but there are much cheaper places in Newcastle. ....guess they like the museums and art galleries in London alot.
We are so lucky to be in Singapore where there's no homeless problem and everyone has a nice comfortable home to go back to.
Friday, December 09, 2005
How bad is LA? Lets start from the Airport.... Once I get to the airport, I usually need to get a cab. Unlike Singapore where the pubic transport is excellent, people in LA have to drive themselves around - terrible. On my first trip, I went to the airport information counter and ask them how to get to the city - they said the best way is to rent car. When I said I can't drive, the guy at the help desk jaw drop - he has never seen an adult my age who can't drive in LA - everyone drives even teenagers - I was told. So I get to the hotel via taxi. So far every single taxi I took was driven by a foreigner or new immigrant - some were Nigerian, Russian. In Singapore, every taxi is driven by a Singaporean. The job of driving taxi is seen as a step stone to something better in life. In Singapore, you may be a bank manager but end up as a taxi driver once you get retrenched. This is something to get used to. You can never predict what nationality the person driving the cab is. Cabbies there generally have quite low work load compared with those in Singapore. They really need Comfort to teach them how to turn their taxi drivers into money making machines. Once I get to the hotel the jet lag set in. I always book a hotel near a bus stop with a DASH service - US$0.25 cents per ride - flat fee + free transfer. I heard the bus company is loss making. They should learn from Singapore bus companies how to turn a profit.
When I'm there, if I have a weekend, I usually visit my friends who have emigrated there. I take the opportunity to tell them what they are missing in Singapore - good govt and all the recent accomplishment of the PAP govt. They usually complain to me about how difficult life is in LA - how hard it is to decide which car to buy at US$21,000. One of them has a hard time washing his big Lexus - I really sympathise with him. His house at St. Gabriel area is also very big with a garden, very troublesome to clean compared to the 3 room flat he was living in Singapore. I've tried many times to persuade him to return to Singapore but he was just too stubborn to listen to all my reasoning. Imagining living in a state where the governor is a former champion bodybuilder and Hollywood actor - how to sleep well at night with this kind of people running the government.
The only good part about LA is its proximity to Las Vegas. There are free bus offering day trips + free meals usually to the lesser known casinos. I would take this bus together with some of the residents of Chinatown. They seem to enjoy it because I keep seeing the same faces. Although those day tours are free, the day trippers end up losing more than a few hundred bucks. I'm so glad the govt of Singapore is bringing the best of America - which is the casino- to Singapore - hope they also give free meals and drinks.....and hours of enjoyment for retirees to spend their retirement money.
Saturday, December 03, 2005
The following Teo Chee Hean's remark is most enlightening:
"There are different classes of cases and in the class that Melvyn Tan fell in, the courts had decided not to impose custodial sentences."
Yes of course we cannot expect ordinary Singaporeans to be punished the same way as elite foreign pianists - this is perfectly consistent with how our society operates. Wonder the other 'classes' are?
See how good our govt is. They have realised that the crime of evading NS should be dealt with the same way we deal with drug trafficking. If we can kill a person by imposing a mandatory death sentence, why should there be flexibility in sentencing for evasion of NS.
Mindef considers stiffer penalties for Singaporeans evading National Service By S. Ramesh, Channel NewsAsia
01 December 2005 1945 hrs
SINGAPORE : The Defence Ministry is reviewing penalties imposed on those who evade National Service, with the view of asking for stiffer sentences including jail for those who deliberately and knowingly evade National Service. Defence Minister Teo Chee Hean is in favour of firm sentences, saying it is important a strong signal is sent that National Service is an obligation Singaporeans should fulfill. His comment comes in the wake of reactions to the recent case of painist Melvyn Tan who was fined for evading National Service. Each year between five and 20 cases of Singaporeans who evade national service go to the courts. Mr Teo said: "There are a number of ways we can do this. If we need to change the law, we have to, of course, go back to Parliament. We could also press for custodial sentences, that is also possible. "In the past, we have not been pressing for custodial sentences, but we need to consider whether that's something we want to do. "In the case of Melvyn Tan, the way he was dealt with is exactly the same as the way that other people in similar circumstances as him were dealt with, both by Mindef and by the courts and the sentencing for people in these circumstances has generally been a fine. There are different classes of cases and in the class that Melvyn Tan fell in, the courts had decided not to impose custodial sentences." Mr Teo said he appreciated the very strong support that Singaporeans show for National Service, and the recognition that National Service is a very important part of keeping Singapore safe and secure. "I also understand the unhappiness that many Singaporeans have expressed over what seems to be an ability for some Singaporeans to evade NS responsibilities. It is something we need to address," he added. - CNA/de
Singapore buckled under pressure and allowed Nguyen's mom to hold his hand a day before his execution!!!
Boy this is serious. How can we make a concession of such magnitude. Just because Australia allow our troops to train there we allow rules in Singapore to be broken?! How can this happen?! No Singaporean death row prisoner has been allowed physical contact how can we make an EXCEPTION. This is Singapore, we cannot afford this type of things to happen, it will destroy us in the long run and ruin our way of life. Our civil service elite should have insisted that his mom wear gloves so there will be 'technically no contact'.
The PAP has told us that we in Singapore should not condone the breaking of rules - that was why Nguyen has to be hanged in the first place. If you forget to insert your cashcard passing through the ERP, you get fined. If you fail to pay your fine because your mother is sick and need the money for medical bills, you go to jail. If you can't afford to pay your daughter's school fees, you will be denied her PSLE results. Fill out one line in a form wrongly and you are not allowed to stand for election (James Gomez incident).
Singapore govt has always applied rules consistent and diligently, we cannot allow EXCEPTIONS to destroy us. NEVER. There should be a board of inquiry convened for this hand holding incident.
Friday, December 02, 2005
From 1977 until now USA executed 1000 people
From 1991 until now Singapore executed approx. 500 people (actual figure unknown but in reply to a parliament question, the actual figure of 341 executions from 1991-2000 was given).
Singapore executes more people than the whole of USA every year & USA population is hundred times ours. Wow!
Yet Americans are fighting against death penalty in their country while Singaporeans seem to be alright with it....everytime they execute someone there is plenty of protests and trouble.
We can be proud of ourselves. We live in a country where executions are carried out without fuss efficiently and smoothly. Our safe environment is due to the high execution rate. That is why it makes little sense for Singaporeans to be quitters and emigrate to unsafe places such as the USA....wonder why so many are eager to emigrate don't they appreciate our national effort to eliminate crime by killing the criminal....what could be more effective!
Singaporeans can now carry on with their lives now as though nothing has happened. John Little sale at the Expo is so crowded. According to the Straits Times, the Singapore govt has done the legally right thing to hang Nguyen.
Our high commissioner Joseph Koh had the final words on "why Nguyen must die". Nobody can fault the superior logic of our civil service elite.
Yes, Nguyen is gone. Singapore is a much safer place. I feel so safe when I walk around in the night and nobody ever offer me chemical means to get high. Of course I easily say no sinceI get high on reading the Straits Times and the wonderful accomplishment of the PAP govt. Why would anyone need drugs in Singapore to get high anyway, eveything is so perfect, it is a HIGH just living in Singapore under the PAP.
In light of the rigorous debate thrust upon us by the Australian media. We should make more advances in our legal system from this point, we should proceed to use the effectiveness of the death penalty on more crimes to make Singapore a better safer place, I can think of a few:
a. Gambling den casino operators. No only destroy an individual, families are destroyed.
b. Loan sharks.
c. Adulterers. I've asked around, those people negatively affected by it feel strongly that adulterers should hang - they destroy lives and families too.
d. People who don't their parking fines. We are already jailing them, but it seems this deterrent is not enough, it is time to go for the death penalty. It is perfectly justified if these people knowingly break the law, they deserve to hang.
Once that is done, we can be as crime free as Iran.
Thursday, December 01, 2005
One of my hobbies is investing. I've been an active investor for many years. Of course as an individual ordinary investor I cannot hope to match the performance of our elites in the GIC especially Singapore's very own Warren Buffett - Ho Ching. ....whose leadership in Temasek Holdings has helped to return a remarkable 5-7% every year.
Here's my investment blog : http://luckytan.blogspot.com
My first posting is on my investment rules and strategy. As it is self formulated without any reference to the wisdom of gurus, it might seem unusual and uneducated. Forgive me for I'm just an ordinary Singaporean of "non-elite intelligence".
I'll post every single trade I make with my initial capital of US$10,000. These trades are real and are actually executed.
For those with investment acumen and have read many investment books feel free to leave comments in my investment blog - I have not read a single book nor have I been tutored by any investment guru. .... but I invite you to join in and observe "Lucky Tan's Investment Adventures".....
Sunday, November 27, 2005
What is wrong with Australians anyway? Just one small time salesman, they whole country stands up for him. When Singaporeans get death penalty, everyone goes on with their lives like nothing happened, just like that Shanmugum feller who was hanged for 1 Kg of cannabis. Cannabis itself does not kill. The logic is cannabis can cause a person to like drugs, then move on to hard drugs, then become hooked on cocaine afterwards risk death by overdose - therefore the cannabis trafficker must hang. For that reason, I support death penalty for gambling den operators - they cause the gambler to be hooked and then commit suicide when they are finacially ruined. I'm sure the intellectually superior PAP govt done their due diligence when they decide to allow the casino, they are confident no life will the ruin or lost otherwise the death penalty logic has to apply.
We are lucky to be Singaporeans, we have a govt that has applied cold logic consistently to ensure that our safety is never compromised. We should therefore resist the influence and flawed logic of those Australians who are emotional and can't see our pure rationality.
Australian PM Howard warns Singapore of resentment over hanging
Prime Minister John Howard has warned Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong of the possibility that many Australians might feel resentment towards the city state if it goes ahead with the planned execution of a convicted drug trafficker from Melbourne.
Howard met with his Singaporean counterpart at the Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting in Malta on Saturday and discussed the plight of Nguyen Tuong Van, who is due to be hanged on December 2.
"I had quite a talk with him this afternoon. I told him that the feeling about the execution was intense in Australia," Howard told reporters, according to a transcript released from his office.
"I said that it would continue in my opinion to grow through the week.
"I did not get the indication that the Singapore government was going to change its position in any way in relation to the decision to go ahead with the execution."
The case of Nguyen, who was convicted of bringing some 400 grams (14 ounces) of heroin into Singapore as he travelled from Cambodia to Australia in 2002, has been the subject of intense diplomatic efforts, which have so far failed to grant him clemency.
Howard has refused to bring the matter up formally at the Commonwealth meeting but he and New Zealand Prime Minister Helen Clark have raised the issue informally with Lee.
Howard said that he had informed Lee that public opinion in Australia, where boycotts of Singapore-owned companies have been suggested, would be against Singapore's decision.
"I... have an obligation to explain to the government of Singapore that there will be lingering resentment on the part of many Australians regarding this issue," he said.
Howard said he had "tried in all the appropriate ways" to persuade Singapore to spare Nguyen's life but admitted he had been in a difficult situation.
"I also have the responsibility of calibrating what I do on this with regard to the relationship between our two countries and the interests that both countries have in that relationship," he said.
"It's quite a hard situation. Singapore, of course, is a close partner of Australia but they do have attitudes on these issues that I don't share.
"I don't think a mandatory death penalty in a situation like this is appropriate."
Thursday, November 24, 2005
I was really thinking about the geese, I can understand that drugs are not allowed but geese?!
1. If the women have eaten and carried them in her stomach, it would be alright.
2. It is biologically IMPOSSIBLE for roasted duck to carry the bird flu virus. It impossible for any virus to survive even light cooking. Anyway thousands of people carry eaten duck/chicken meat in the stomach cross into Singapore.
3. The law states : "Beef, mutton, pork and poultry in any form cannot be brought in from Malaysia, Thailand, China, Indonesia and India - licence and a permit are required before importing meat and meat products into Singapore". Yeah but the woman was bringing in 2 geese....IMPORTING 2 geese, wow that woman heck of an importer of geese.
4. "She refused to hand the geese over and threw them on the floor instead". If anyone is subject to such a law, he should be forgiven if he does the same. Sir, you're not allowed to bring the meat you have eaten into Singapore, please vomit it before entering Singapore.
Yes, we should have sentenced this woman to death, by trafficking 2 roast geese, that might carry the bird flu virus, she could have destroyed many lives and families. Why did they let her off so lightly by fining her $3000?!
================================================================== Woman fined for refusing to surrender roast geese at Changi
SINGAPORE : A woman was fined $3,000 for trying to bring in two roast geese from China, and refusing to hand them over to the authorities.The Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority said Tan Chai Peng was stopped at Changi Airport's Terminal 2 on September 30 and told to surrender the birds for disposal because she did not have a licence to bring them in.
She refused to hand the geese over and threw them on the floor instead.
She was fined $3,000 for obstructing Immigration & Checkpoints Authority (ICA) officers in the execution of their duties.
And another charge of importing two roast geese from China was also taken into consideration in sentencing. Under Singapore laws, a licence and a permit are required before importing meat and meat products into Singapore. Travellers are allowed to bring in small quantities of meat for personal consumption, but this must be limited to 5 kilogrammes per person and come from a country approved by the AVA. Beef, mutton, pork and poultry in any form cannot be brought in from Malaysia, Thailand, China, Indonesia and India. - CNA
"Howard's anger was palpable last week in South Korea after finding that Mrs Nguyen had been informed about her son's execution date yet Howard himself was not told of this during his meeting with Singapore's Prime Minister, Lee Hsien Loong, a meeting during which Howard made lengthy representations and asked for the death penalty to be reconsidered."
Don't these Australians get it? Hanging a human being is a small matter in Singapore, why get so emotional and worked up?
"The city state executes its own citizens and the problem in offering clemency to Nguyen lies in giving a foreigner a concession denied to Singapore's people."
Yes, see the problem? Singapore hangs its own citizen for trafficking plants like cannabis so how to NOT hang Nguyen for trafficking heroin.
Singaporeans don't know how to live outside of this mindset. That is why we have many laws such as anti-sedition and media control to ensure that we never ever get out of this mindset. We are lucky to be under the PAP who will ensure this mindset last forever....it is after all for the own good of Singaporeans.
The hanging of Nguyen will shock many Australians; it will be seen as a punishment out of proportion with the crime.
In Singapore, it will shock nobody. Our courts just jailed a woman 11 years for shoplifting. Heavy punishment makes Singapore a safer gentler nation.
Paul Kelly: Fatal flaws exposed
November 23, 2005
SINGAPORE has the most intimate ties with Australia of any Asian nation, yet the issue of Nguyen Tuong Van exposes the rift over principles and culture that bedevils Australia's ties with Asia.
There is little public awareness of Singapore-Australia closeness at the elite levels of politics, business and security. Singapore is our true partner in Southeast Asia. We share a common mindset about the region, China and the US. There is no other Asian leadership with which Australia feels as comfortable. Yet the impending hanging of Nguyen will expose the limitations of this relationship and the misjudgments made by Singapore.
All the signs are that Singapore will proceed to execution. The Howard Government, in private, believes the issue is settled. Singapore has executed several hundred people during the past decade and has withstood fierce retaliation from countries whose nationals have been executed. The policy of capital punishment is accepted within Singapore.
The city state executes its own citizens and the problem in offering clemency to Nguyen lies in giving a foreigner a concession denied to Singapore's people.
In truth, Singapore is trapped by its authoritarian mindset. The disciplined rigidity so identified with its success is now an obstacle to its progress. Singapore seems frozen amid a region in evolution, as shown by the democratic transition of Indonesia during the past decade.
Close Australia-Singapore ties are an orthodoxy yet such ties are not underpinned by sufficient popular consent. And Singapore is about to inflict grave damage on its reputation in this country.
The hanging of Nguyen will shock many Australians; it will be seen as a punishment out of proportion with the crime. It will highlight Singapore's authoritarian nature, its denial of civil liberties and the flaws in its awesome record of success. The execution will be a bad news event for Singapore to a far greater extent than its Government has grasped.
It is past time for Singapore to re-think its position. Indeed, senior figures within Singapore's Government are deeply unhappy about the situation and the policy.
While the Howard Government made representations for a long time on Nguyen's behalf it seems to have misjudged the intensity of the Australian public reaction. The dilemma created for Australia is revealed in the contrasting reactions of Alexander Downer and Kevin Rudd.
When Singapore rejected the appeal for clemency the initial Australian reaction was one of resigned acceptance.
"I am happy to do anything realistic to try to save his life but on the other hand I am very pessimistic," Downer said on October 24.
It is no surprise if Singapore interpreted such remarks as meaning that Australia was not prepared to compromise the bilateral relationship for Nguyen.
Presumably, this is exactly what Singapore did conclude. This goes to the nub of the matter: that any Australian government has multiple responsibilities.
The core conundrum is that a public campaign will only succeed if the bilateral relationship is called into question yet the more vocal and public the pressure the more difficult it is for Singapore to retreat in humiliation.
The Howard Government, therefore, is trapped in a dual stance: it believes Singapore cannot be turned yet it has a responsibility to make what efforts it can on Nguyen's behalf.
Howard has put Singapore on notice that it "should not imagine that this incident is going unnoticed in Australia". But Howard has drawn a line on where that responsibility ends. He will not countenance any substantive threats or retaliation on the trade, political or security relationship.
Singapore is our closest ally in the region; its armed forces train widely in this country; it works closely with Australia against Islamic terrorism; it served in the UN force in East Timor; it is our largest trade and investment partner in Southeast Asia; it is the first nation in the region that entered a free trade deal with Australia; and a proposed Qantas-Singapore Airlines merger is not very far from the negotiating table.
Howard and Downer can dismantle the Australia-Singapore relationship brick-by-brick as a gesture of concern and outrage. But is this a rational or responsible reaction? They believe such retaliation would only be a gesture and make no difference whatsoever to Nguyen's fate.
Such rationality and realism will be sorely tested during the next 10 days. It is likely that opinion in Australia will reach an emotional intensity at this execution.
This situation is a variation on an old refrain: the limits to Australia's influence when its nationals are entrapped in Asian laws that offend our values and human decency.
By contrast, Rudd has warned Singapore not just that Australian opinion is upset but that Australia-Singapore relations will be damaged.
"The Singaporean Government has treated Australia with contempt on this question," Rudd told the ABC's Insiders. "We've had representations from the Pope, from the Prime Minister, the Governor-General, the Opposition, a resolution of the Australian Parliament and representations from a huge cross-section of the Australian people. The Singaporean Government's response to that has been to tell us all to go jump in the lake."
Rudd's tactic is that progress is only possible once Singapore knows that damage is being done. Rudd, in turn, knows that for this warning to be credible it must be genuine. His logic is clear: Rudd is telling Singapore that its execution policy is inconsistent with the maintenance of public support in this nation for the Australia-Singapore relationship.
This is a far-reaching position. Singapore should reflect upon this point, which is easier to make from Opposition. It constitutes an assault on the Howard-Downer tactic as defeatist and reflects a different foundational judgment of the situation.
Singapore, of course, has mishandled the diplomacy of this issue with Australia. Howard's anger was palpable last week in South Korea after finding that Mrs Nguyen had been informed about her son's execution date yet Howard himself was not told of this during his meeting with Singapore's Prime Minister, Lee Hsien Loong, a meeting during which Howard made lengthy representations and asked for the death penalty to be reconsidered.
Downer says Australia won't hold out false hopes, yet he will be driven into further initiatives with Singapore in good faith to Nguyen and in response to public demands.
Meanwhile there are two other Australians on death row in Vietnam (two were previously given clemency), one in China, the Bali nine facing trial in Indonesia, a total of 228 Australians facing trial in 60 nations and 175 convicted and serving sentences.
Tuesday, November 22, 2005
Pork Barreling - is a derogatory term describing government spending that is intended to benefit constituents of a politician in return for their political support such as votes. Yes we are lucky that the PAP govt does not engage in pork barrel politics by linking votes to govt spending schemes.
Friday, October 7, 2005 at 07:24 JST SINGAPORE — Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong on Thursday criticized the corruption and pork barrel politics that have bedeviled Japan's political system.
Lee, speaking at a luncheon organized by the Foreign Correspondents Association, said Japan is a good example of an Asian-style parliamentary democracy that has worked well. "But they landed into problems because of corruption, money politics, pork barreling, and then necessary changes were not made and the country, instead of making adjustments and prospering like America, just flew straight on and went into a storm. So how do we maintain our system and not end up like that?"
Monday, November 21, 2005
Support ... Friends place hands from their reach out campaign in front of the State Library in Melbourne / David Crosling
I sure won't like be a Singaporean in Melbourne these few days. I guess those Singapore students in Monash, RMIT & Melbourne U will be keeping a low profile. According to Straits Times & other Singaporean newspapers, these Australians are emotional people who are not seeing the totally rational argument of the Singapore govt. The logic is simple, the Singapore law states that people trafficking heroin will be executed, Nguyen trafficked heroin therefore Singapore must hang him no matter what. According to our esteemed minister Wong Kan Seng, Singapore laws have to be obeyed 'no matter what'.
Why are Australians spending so much effort trying to rescue an ordinary (non-elite) member of their society? If a Singaporean gets executed, nobody can be bothered - let me asked you how many of you have taken time off to protest to save the life of someone about to be executed. First of all, it is futile - the Singapore govt can never be swayed, secondly protests in Singapore require approval of the police will never be granted, third there are more important things to do like shopping and karaoke. Look at what the friends of Nguyen (see picture above) did to try to save his life outside Melbourne State Library - in Singapore they would have been arrested by the police.
Singapore will hang Nguyen for the good of Australians since the drugs he was trafficking is intended for Australia. They should be showering Singapore with thank you cards instead of protests for saving them from the drug menace.
What is wrong with these Australians anyway? ....and all the Singaporeans that emigrate there, don't these Singaporeans realise that migrating to a country without the death penalty will ultimately endanger their families?....
Many schemes were put in place to ensure equal and fair treatment for all serving NS. One of these schemes during my time was the "White Horse" scheme, which former Minister Cedrick Foo explained was put in place to ensure that no-one is singled out for special treatment. We are so lucky that such safeguards are put in place to ensure fairness.
After his heavy punishment of $5000, the pianist is now a free man and can come back whenever he wishes. I wonder if he had been working as a taxi driver or cleaner in Austrailia, whether he will get the same heavy punishment of $5000 or get a light sentence of 3 years jail or both.
Wednesday, November 16, 2005
CPF withdrawal age keeps getting pushed up. This is done for Singaporeans own good so they won't get lazy and get to enjoy working well into their old age. People of other countries don't have such a privilege, once they reach about 55, they spend all their time hanging around parks, playing checkers at the community club and playing with their grand children.
When it comes to treatment of aged workers, no one does a better job than the public sector.
The private sector has to learn from the government's example on how to take care of older workers. The government really takes 'special care' of its older workers.
Friday, November 11, 2005
Yes we are all so lucky to be living in Singapore where things like fast food pricing is an important issue......
Same fries and drink but different combo prices
MY GIRLFRIEND and I were having dinner at Carl's Junior when she noticed that the price differences for the combos did not make sense. A combo consists of a burger plus fries and a drink.The differences between the price of a combo and the burger should be equal as the extras - fries and a drink - were similar in all combos. This was not the case.
For instance: It did not make sense that a customer would have to pay more for fries and a drink as part of a combo because of the choice of burger. After all, the only difference in the combos is the burger and they are priced differently.
If price were my primary concern, I would choose the cheaper combo. However, we decided to order a combo and a burger alone, and this was where the problem arose.
I ordered a Western Bacon Cheeseburger Combo and a Famous Star Burger and it cost me $13.10. However, if I had ordered a combo for the Famous Star and just a Western Bacon Cheeseburger, my meal would have cost just $12.40.
Essentially, both choices gave me the same items - two burgers, a pack of fries and a drink - but because of this irregularity in pricing, I ended up paying more. This price difference was also present in its other combos.
On further thought, I realised that something like this could also happen in other fast-food chains. A quick check on the prices at McDonald's supported this observation. However, the price discrepancies were not as significant.
Could the respective fast-food chains explain why is there such a price difference in the meals and combos when the extras we are paying for are the same things?
Are consumers aware of this? In my case, a more informed choice would have saved me quite a bit.
Justin Zhuang Yukang
Tuesday, November 08, 2005
People suggest that the one-off amount be about $1000, the monthly salary of these workers. Looking at my utilities bill, I realised this one-off idea has probably been in the works for some time - my electricity rate has increased 20% ahead of this bonus a few months ago. See how far sighted our leaders are?
Singaporeans are so lucky to have such far sighted leaders to give them one-off bonuses.
Sunday, November 06, 2005
The BEST idea is to cut down the CPF contribution of $1000 per month workers so they can affort the rising utilities and transport costs - brilliant idea indeed !!! Yes our PAP elites have been debating for days on this very important issue. We can see from their deep thoughts the high quality of leadership that rule over us, here is a summary:
Halimah Yacob (NTUC taskforce) : Those earning just $1,000, or even a little less, may be better off if they can take home more in cash, and not see one-fifth of their pay channelled into CPF .
Ng Eng Hen (Million $ Minister) : : 'If they don't own homes because they don't have enough in their CPF, then what happens if you have a whole class of homeless low-wage workers?
Profound indeed - either you have enough to live OR you have enough to pay HDB to buy a home. Looks intractable to me, but don't worry in few months the PAP will figure out what to do.
The debate demonstrates the superior intellect our PAP govt. This superior intellect of the PAP elite is confirmed when I spoke to an ordinary average Singaporean with only 'A' level qualifications. This is what he said, my comments in brackets:
1. To solve the low wage problem - allow wages to rise then it won't be low (ooi, so simple why we pay minister million $ huh?!). Economic costs consists of capital goods, rent and wages, + various govt costs such tax etc if the govt can hold the other costs steady, a growing economy can sustain higher wages. (waliao, you mean you want our govt and GLCs to make less money?! That is a dangerous idea!).
2. Our wages are kept low by the floodgates of foreign workers (Hey! Blasphemous! Time to call the thought police on this guy, the PAP already said foreign workers are good for us.).
3. Necessities contributing to rise of cost of living such as transport, utilities, food, various fees should be keep in check and linked to the bottom 20% of income earners (how can?! you want our SMRT, SingPower, SingTel profits to be linked to the poorest performing segment of the population?...like that how to grow profits year after year and raise the CEO pay?).
I conclude that ordinary Singaporeans have nothing new to add to the debate. Their point all run counter to the interest of the PAP party which says it works for the good of the people. These ordinary Singaporeans who don't even have a Masters Degree, should keep their mouths shut. If the problem can be solved in the simple manner they describe, the PAP which hold the people's interest as its highest priority would have done it. There must be some flaw in this ordinary chap's economic reasoning - it is best for him not to endanger himself and his society by speaking up. I can see now why Singapore needs the Straits Time to constantly correct the wrong thinking of ordinary Singaporeans.
Friday, November 04, 2005
I had other incorrect thoughts about why so many FTs are needed in Singapore, I'm so glad that those thoughts have been corrected by the Today newspaper (you can click on the article to read it) - FTs are brought into Singapore because Singaporeans are picky!!
I read today's Straits Times about a worker in Beijing who died after working continously for 24 hours. Her pay was $210 a month. Singaporeans are indeed picky, the govt has highlighted the problem of 300,000 workers earning below $1200!! If we are not picky, we would have 500,000 workers earning below $800 per month. Isn't that more desirable a bigger pool of low wage workers to give our companies higher and higher profits?
The good thing about Singapore, is our govt is concerned about the good of Singapore. They have opened the floodgates for FTs to combat this picky problem. Other govts would be forced to implement minimum wage to ensure the lowest paid workers have sufficient for basic necessities and plan for retirement. The Singapore approach is smarter - we teach our workers how to live on $1000 per month:
1. Maggie mee tastes good.
2. If you run out, borrow from your richer relatives. If you have no relatives, your neighborhood loan shark can also help.
3. I have one neighbor who is so poor, his children watch TV from their window....by looking at the plasma in the neighboring block! There are many innovative ways to save money. Singaporeans have been told by the govt to think "out of the box".
4. Buy 4D. I've never met a poor person who never buy 4D. One lucky number and the pain of poverty goes away for a few months.
5. Take bus to JB once a month for groceries, dental and haircut etc.
Other countries have stupid methods for solving the low wage problem like welfare, jobless benefits and special schemes for utilities & health care. I was shocked to find the Hong Kong govt gives welfare to its citizens - have they learned nothing from the PAP govt that giving this welfare will result in lower competitiveness. We are sure to beat them in the coming years. Cheers to the PAP govt for making Singapore so competitive for our own good. We are all so lucky to be Singaporeans!
Thursday, November 03, 2005
In the coming weeks, Singapore will hang an Australian drug trafficker. There are many interesting facts surrounding this case not published in the Straits Times - I guess XiaXue's toilet controversy is more important than the circumstances leading to Singapore applying its death penalty. Singapore has the highest per capita execution rate in the world so taking away a person's life well is just routine and not really newsworthy. Death penalty for drug trafficking is mandatory (compulsory) above a certain amount so judges don't even need to think when they pass the death sentence.....judges have no choice so its not their fault. Even if you inadvertently bring morphine through Changi Airport intended for pain relief for earthquake victims in Pakistan, you can be hanged!....Indeed our laws are helping us to set records for capital punishment.
This Nyugen guy is really interesting:
1. This feller is a twin. Yes, there is another genetic copy of him who turned to the dark side and became involved in the underworld. He is the good twin - who was trafficking drugs to help his brother who is in debt.
2, The drugs were intended for Melbourne not Singapore - he was in transit through Singapore. So it is ironic that Melbourne is trying to rescue him and Singapore is trying to hang him....when the intended crime would harm Melbourne more than Singapore.
3. This guy studied hard to get an IT degree. He could have entered Singapore as a valued FT, made plenty of money and send it back to his brother.
4. This guy is a completely unprofessional. He carried one pack in his hand carry luggage easily caught by our highly efficient officers at Changi Airport.
5. This is his first crime. He has never been in trouble for anything. I guess it will be his last.
6. This guy has friends many friends. Friends to write to him in prison, people who will vouch for his character.
Well, it seems that he met his fate in Singapore. Anywhere else in the world, the many mitigating circumstances surrounding his crime would have allowed the judge to exercise some discretion and save him from the gallows ....but not in Singapore where the death penalty is mandatory for his crime. ..Perhaps he met a few happy lucky Singaporeans, and seeing how happy they are, he never imagined the drug laws to be so harsh. In Australia, he would have been jailed 6 to 10 years. According to the Singapore govt, our drug laws are necessary to prevent our society from being ravaged by drugs - oh yes Australia which doesn't use the death penalty must be totally ravaged - I'm so amazed by the numerous Singaporeans quitters who emigrate to Australia when they can live in Singapore...and enjoy the beneficial results of our death penalty laws ...oh they are so silly to emigrate to a dangerous country like Australia that does not use the death penalty - don't they know they are endangering their own lives!!?!