Monday, December 25, 2006

Freedom Walk Vs Big Walk!!

My first Big Walk was something like 10 years ago, 60000 people turned up stayed on afterwards for the lucky draw - a chance to win a car (without COE of course). You know why the Big Walk is so popular among Singaporeans? Singaporeans have figured out that the total value of the goodie bag is worth more than the registration fees they pay. I'm not saying that everyone goes to the Big Walk for the goodie bag, but many fact there is a group of several thousand who don't walk but simply wait for the goodie bag queues to open and rush forward to collect the bags sometimes as many as 5 goodie bag per person.

Contrast that with the turnout for the Freedom Walk held on 10 Dec 2006. The turnout was 13 and one-third of them had the surname Chee. Walk for goodie bag 60,000 people....walk for freedom 13 people. I'm sure more people will turn up if those mysterious plain clothes cameramen are not there to record the walk, Singaporeans are just too shy to appear in videos to be view by officers in the ISD.

I think the organisers of the Freedom Walk really have to do something to improve attendance:

  1. Give out a goodie bag. Make sure it is worth more than the registration fees.
  2. Call it FANTASY WALK instead. Many Singaporeans after 4 decades of PAP have problems figuring what the word FREEDOM means. In some ways, Freedom has become a Fantasy that Singaporeans dream about.
  3. End the walk at Harvey Norman. So that those walking have something meaningful to look forward to which is their favorite past time of shopping.

After 4 decades of PAP rule and the Straits Times, Singaporeans have developed many unique interesting traits. Strong attraction towards goodie bags and progress packages, the unique ability to whine about the PAP for 360 days a year and still vote for them on election day, and certain words such as freedom and democracy removed from their vocabulary.

The only power that matters to Singaporeans is buying power - the power to walk into Harvey Norman and to participate in their weekend sales.

"The real challenge is NOT against the PAP but against what the PAP did to our minds" - a bankrupt politician.

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Smart Voters Secure Our Future!

For those of you worried that our beloved PAP govt will be weakened by a revolt by disgruntled citizens, I want to lay those fears to rest. Singaporeans understand the importance of their vote and are totally clear about the purpose of voting. Take Mr. John Foo as an example, he is a good representation of approximately 66.6% of the Singapore population. You may be worried that all the suffering and pain of price increases will result in a loss of support for the can put those fears to rest.

In a Straits Times article on the 7 Traits of Singapore politics by Ken Kwek onn 23 Dec 2006, Singaporean voters are found to be as sensible as ever. No matter how much whining and whingeing, you have heard about the GST increase, Singaporean voters can be relied upon to vote sensibly and secure their own interests.

As long as there are lifts to be upgraded in HDB estates, blue dolphin fountains to be erected around your neighborhood, covered walkways to bus stops to be constructed and HDB flats to be painted, the PAP will continue to win elections. Singaporeans understand the importance of elections and its impact to their lives. Who cares about the billions Temasek Holding has invested in Thailand and Indonesia, when there are important issues such as the covered walkways to excite voters during elections. Those of you with old-fashion notions that elections are for choosing your leaders and debate/vote for issues that will decide the fate of our nation, you have to upgrade your mind and correct your thinking. Singapore's unique political system has progress beyond that, we all know (at least 66.6% of us) that it is the blue dolphin fountain that will ease our fears and soothe our anxiety of about our future.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

One country 2 people....

When I served my NS, there were children of high income earners and high ranking civil servants who were identified as "white horses". Former minister Cedric Foo explained that it was necessary to identify these "white horses" so that they receive no special treatment!! I'm so surprised such a good policy is now scrapped.

The income gap in Singapore is somewhere between Burundi and Kenya. The reason is because our elites are so capable, they worlds above the rest of us. Hence, their income has to reflect their superior abilities. The reason why the rest of us are so lowly paid is because our ordinary minds are no match for those of the ruling elites.

Ordinary Singaporeans are lucky to have such capable elites run this country. Of course, these elites are so good at telling us to work harder and longer so that we can make something out of our ordinary lives. While the gap is so big and there is no hope for most of us ordinary citizens to catch up with them since they are given scholarship, opportunities and high salaries...we should not be envious. Our elites help to motivate us by urging us not to be choosy when finding jobs, to give up our benefits without fussing, to accept fee increases without whining and most of all they teach us to better appreciate the grand achievements of the PAP govt.

Singapore flames 'uncaring elite'
Singapore is Asia's second-richest country after Japan, but in terms of income disparity it ranks between Burundi and Kenya.
POSTED: 12:51 a.m. EST, December 19, 2006

SINGAPORE (Reuters) -- When Wee Shu Min, the teenage daughter of a Singapore member of parliament stumbled across the blog of a Singaporean who wrote that he was worried about losing his job, she thought she'd give him a piece of her mind.
She called him "one of many wretched, undermotivated, overassuming leeches in our country" on her own blog and signed off with "please, get out of my elite uncaring face".
Wee was flamed by hundreds of fellow bloggers, but when her father Wee Siew Kim -- an MP in Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong's constituency -- told a Singapore newspaper that "her basic point is reasonable", the row moved well beyond the blogosphere.
The episode highlighted a deep rift in Singapore society and was an embarrassment for the ruling People's Action Party (PAP) and prime minister Lee, who has made the reduction of the income gap one of the priorities of his new government.
"Coming from an MP in the prime minister's constituency, these comments really were political dynamite," political commentator Seah Chiang Nee told Reuters.
"If the political arrogance and elitism get any worse, the PAP will lose more electoral ground," he added.

Singapore is Asia's second-richest country after Japan with a gross domestic product per capita of about $27,000, ranking between EU member Italy and Spain. But in terms of income disparity, Singapore is in altogether different company.

Singapore's Gini index -- which measures inequality of income distribution among households -- of 42.5 puts it between Burundi and Kenya, the UN Human Development Report 2006 shows.
"Yes, the Gini coefficient is very high. Through housing, health care and education, we have tried to narrow the income gap, but not through wages," National Development Minister Mah Bow Tan told Reuters in an interview last month.

Welfare as a dirty word

Singapore pays no employment benefits, no pensions and has no legal minimum wage, but education is cheap and excellent, health care is subsidized and the government gives subsidies to first-time buyers of government-built flats.
Last month, Singapore's first parliament session since the May 6 poll was dominated by the inequality theme.
PM Lee ruled out the introduction of old-age pensions, a minimum wage or European-style welfare.
"We have treated welfare as a dirty word. The opposition, I think the Workers' Party, has called for a 'permanent unconditional needs-based welfare system'. I think that is an even dirtier five words," he said in a speech on November 13.
But he acknowledged that since the Asian financial crisis in 1997, the income gap had widened, and said that his government plans to "tilt the balance in favor of the lower-income groups".
While Lee's ruling PAP is in no danger of losing its stranglehold on parliament -- where it has 82 out of 84 elected seats -- the growing income disparity has hurt its credibility.
In the May 6 poll, the Workers' Party scored its best result in years, with chairwoman Sylvia Lim winning 44 percent of the votes in a multi-seat ward. Lee lost 34 percent in his ward to a group of unknown candidates in their early thirties.
"They (the PAP) are concerned about the fallout if they don't do anything about the income gap," Lim, who entered parliament as a non-voting MP under a best-loser provision, told Reuters.

In parliament, Lee said he plans to improve healthcare and boost housing subsidies for low-income families. He added that he wants more "workfare" schemes, under which the state tops up low-income workers' pay.
On May 1 -- five days before the election -- the government paid out S$150 million to about 330,000 low-income workers, and Lee promised a similar package for next year. Details would be released in the 2007 budget on February 15.
Marie Antoinettes
Critics say that much of the outrage about the teenage blogger's comments is due to a perception that Singapore is ruled by a privileged elite that's out of touch with the people.
The road to a top job in the Singapore government or civil service leads through elite junior colleges and prestigious government scholarships for university studies abroad.
While access to these schools and scholarships is open to all and based on academic grades, critics say the children of the elite are well represented. Wee Shu Min attends a top school, Raffles Junior College, as did her father, an MP and a top executive at state-owned arms maker ST Engineering.

In a report about "elite envy", the Straits Times daily quoted official data showing that in the last five years, one in three students on government scholarships came from families with incomes of more than $6,500 a month, while such families make up just 13 percent of all Singapore households.

Students from households on incomes of less than $2,000 made up only 7 per cent of scholarship winners, the paper added.
Colin Goh, founder of satirical Web site, said that while the first generation of post-independence PAP leaders was seen as close to the people, this is no longer the case.
"The source for much invective in the Wee Shu Min case is that there is a real sense the PAP is composed of people in ivory towers; that they are a bunch of Marie Antoinettes," he said.

Copyright 2006 Reuters. All rights reserved.This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed

Kept busy by the stock markets!

Wow did you guys see the Thai stock market today - plunged 14%. Wonder what happened to Shin Corp & ITV. According to PM Lee, Singapore invested billions in Thailand because the country has good prospects of a growing middle class not predicated on who is the PM of Thailand. While most ordinary Singapore citizens see Thai as a risky place to invest given that they caused the Asian crisis in 1997, our professionals in Temasek Holdings see it as a place suitable for putting our tax payers money in. We should all rest well with these professionals taking care of our money. Our media certainly see no issue at all with the way the citizen's money is managed, no need for questions, no need for transparency.

Anyway, the recent volatile markets have kept me very busy trading on most days. I go to sleep exhausted. Sometimes I do the unthinkable thing of going to bed without reading the Straits Times....I always try to catch up on it during the toilet breaks.

I don't expect this (volatility) to continue for too long. After all the dithering, the markets will establish that the US economy in going into a slowdown and the astronomical property prices some people have been paying for property in Singapore is just not sustainable.

Friday, December 15, 2006

Singaporeans - You are first AGAIN!!!

Don't worry I'm still alive despite the unusual number of sudden deaths that struck Singapore, I was so lucky not to be one of them. Unfortunately, my computer had a sudden death, the great tragedy is I've lost all my treasure trove of classic Straits Times articles on my harddisk.

My computer is now back up and my mind is once again filled with great achievements of the PAP to blog about. The first thing that comes to mind is that the PAP has finally decided that Singaporeans come first. Yes after more than a decade of friendly policy towards foreigners, the PAP has decided that Singaporeans come first. Not too bad considering they took 30 years to realise that the "stop at 2 policy" wasn't correct and that was why we needed to bring in the foreigners to make up for the population shortfall in the first place. I can see clear now why the PAP calls itself an efficient first world govt, they react to problems speedily and all they do is to take care of Singaporeans' interest first. That is why they deserve their million$ salaries.

The PAP's policy to bring foreign talents is no a small achievement. In the past 14 years they expanded the population by 70% (from 2.7M to 4.5M). When the population was 3M, many people thought that Singapore is too crowded and our nation's resources will be strained. You have greatly underestimated the PAP!!! The PAP is able to shrink 5-room flat sizes by 30% and sell it to you for the same price, they can squeeze more people into our public transport system (and call the the citizen sardines whiners for complaining) and put more cars on the road( and more ERPs at the same time!). In 1990, I could walk into any polyclinic and get my tooth done. A few months ago, I broke my tooth and called the polyclinic, they told me the earliest appointment is 2 weeks....(but my tooth was bleeding, ...sorry fully booked..she said). Singapore is now the 2nd most crowded nation in the world afterMonaco, the millionaire enclave.

All this expansion is not for the good of the PAP govt and their business interests that enjoyed the unintended benefits of such a rapid population, it is done for the good of Singaporeans. The purpose of all this to add "more rats to our rat race", so that we feel more motivated to work harder. The PAP is highly concerned that without increasing the population, our property prices would become stagnant and Singaporeans would be able to pay for them in less than the normal 2 decades allowing them to save up for retirement....that would cause them to become lazy and they will have no motivation to work until age 80.

In 1990s MIT economist Paul Krugman wrote that the Singapore economic miracle is one-off, due mainly to a low base and rising inputs such as foreign capital and rising education. As the population size can only grow at a certain limited rate, our GDP growth will regress to the norm. But Krugman was wrong because he underestimated the PAP govt. He never imagined that any govt would ever import people just to keep its GDP growing. Yes, the PAP is no ordinary govt and our population expansion is no ordinary feat.

As I got into the sardine-packed feeder to my workplace yesterday, I realised why Singaporeans are having so few kids. Anyone pregnant going into one of these buses wouldn't be able to breathe. Don't worry Singaporeans, the PAP govt don't really need you to reproduce yourself, they can get better people by giving out scholarships to foreigners in Vietnam, China and India can sit back relax and let other countries supply our next generation. See how lucky you are to be a Singaporean.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Hong Kong drops GST idea!!!

"Now its time for me to explain to the people
why this GST increase is necessary" - PAP MP quoted in papers.

See what happens when you don't have an outstanding newspaper like the Straits Times and a wise govt that can take any policy and explain why things are done for your own good.

The Hong Kong govt made a grave error of consulting its citizens on the implementation of GST. Instead of going all out to explain to the people that the GST is implemented for their own good, they went to seek the views of the people. Worst still they respected the views of the citizens on the matter and will work on alternative methods to broaden the tax base. What kind of govt is that?! Thank goodness the govt in Singapore has higher standards than that, the PAP never have to come down and allow their well considered brilliant ideas such as GST increase to be altered by unqualified ordinary citizens. Who are they to tell the govt what to do?!

After wasting 6 months consulting the people, the Hong Kong govt has to abandon the GST idea. Didn't they tell the people that it was implemented in Singapore by the PAP so it cannot possibly be a bad idea? I'm sure that if the Hong Kong people had known the PAP has implemented it in Singapore, would have concluded that GST has to be the best solution for collecting taxes.

Ordinary Singaporeans are so lucky to have a govt that implements policies that are always in their interest. We can look forward to the coming GST increase, after the GST is increased our lives will improve because it is increased for our own good. I really pity the people of Hong Kong, they have no GST increases to look forward to and they will miss out on alot of good that the GST brings.

Tax retreat draws praise from all but accountants

Political parties and retail and catering sector representatives have hailed the government's surprise decision not to pursue the GST proposal.

Michael Ng Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Political parties and retail and catering sector representatives have hailed the government's surprise decision not to pursue the GST proposal. A leading accountants' association expressed disappointment, characterizing it as a political decision.

The proposed tax had been strongly opposed by legislators across the political spectrum since the public consultation exercise began in July. In calling off further promotions, Financial Secretary Henry Tang Ying-yen said Tuesday it was apparent the government had failed to convince a majority in the public to accept GST as the main option to widen Hong Kong's narrow tax base.

Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong founding chairman and Executive Councillor Jasper Tsang Yok-sing said Tang's decision would be welcomed by the public. "The community has clearly expressed its views over the past five months of consultation. As such the government has made a wise move," he said.
One of the most vocal critics of the GST was the pro-business Liberal Party which even organized a rare protest rally against its introduction in early August.

In lauding the government's decision to drop the proposal, party vice chairwoman and Executive Councillor Selina Chow Liang Suk-yee said that since the public had also acknowledged the need to widen the tax base, it would be better for the government to seek a consensus on other possible options rather than prolong existing arguments about the GST.
"I feel that, instead of wasting more time, it would be a better choice if we can move on right now and reach a consensus on this issue," she said.
Democratic Party legislator Sin Chung-kai said the government was acting in line with the wishes of the public, but he would not comment when asked if he thought Tang was backing down in the face of public opposition.

"After six months of consultation, including reaching out to district councils and contacting the grassroots level through other channels, the government has already [received feedback on] public worries over the GST," Sin said. "I view it as an active step taken by the government in responding to the general call of public. Our party welcomes such a move."
Related stakeholders, particularly operators in the retail and catering industry, also heaved a sigh of relief when told of the government's decision. Hong Kong Retail Management Association chairman Bankee Kwan Pak- hoo said the decision would help end one of the biggest uncertainties hanging over the retail sector in recent months.

"The decision will have a positive impact on the retail sector as it has eliminated fears of what would happen should a GST be introduced. It will help the development of the retail industry and probably attract more investments to Hong Kong," Kwan said.
"Indirectly, it will also boost the local employment situation as retailers will now be willing to hire more staff to expand their businesses." Coalition Against Sales Tax convenor and legislator Vincent Fang Kang admitted the news was a surprise, but said he was delighted.
He believed it would inject further momentum into the retail and tourism markets during the upcoming holidays.

Paul Chan Mo-po, president of the Hong Kong Institute of Certified Public Accountants, which has long supported the introduction of a GST, said the decision to shelve further consultations was taken in line with political considerations.
"It is vital for the whole community that we actively explore ways to resolve the narrow tax base problem in the near future," Chan said.
"Otherwise, the government's fiscal situation could once again lapse into serious deficits in times of economic downturns."
Chan suggested the government could consider introducing a land border crossing levy, or adding progressive bands to salaries and profits taxes, so as to provide additional and stable tax revenue.
The former chairman of the government's Advisory Committee on New Broad-based Taxes, Moses Cheng Mo-chi, said he was not surprised.
But he said the problem of a narrow tax base remained and that a solution was needed.
He invited the public to offer constructive suggestions.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Another person hit by MRT.

Oh no. Not another one.

I really find it hard to explain. The MRT has already put up 3 signs for Singaporeans to obey:


It seems Singaporeans these days have difficulty reading instructions on the signs. I suggest the signs be read aloud on the speaker system so that people can hear it. That should put a stop to the increasing number of people killed by trains.

I suggest they put up more advertisements by LG ...."LG - Life's Good, Live it". That should be enough to snap anyone out of their poverty induced depression - they can look forward to their next progress package and use it to buy an LG product.

I think Straits Times should now stop reporting such events as it is no longer news but a regular feature of life in Singapore. They should dedicate more space to the issue of why the GST increase is good for all Singaporeans and why we are so lucky to have our GST increased.

Dec 3, 2006
Train hits man, service disrupted

THE southbound train service was disrupted yesterday when a man was hit by a train at Admiralty station.

According to an SMRT spokesman, the incident occurred at 2.08pm.
This disrupted the service between Woodlands and Sembawang stations, and affected about 6,000 passengers.

Service resumed at 3.22pm.
The police were notified at around 2.15pm and found a body, believed to be that of a Chinese man in his mid-20s, under the train carriage.
He was clad in a white T-shirt and grey bermudas and pronounced dead on the spot at about 2.40pm.

Police are investigating the unnatural death.
SMRT passengers who were unable to complete their journey due to the disruption can claim a full fare refund.
They can do so from the passenger service centre at any of the 51 SMRT stations within the next three working days.