Tuesday, November 28, 2006
See the great economic progress we have made over the years. With more economic progress, we have to work longer and harder.
How did the PAP engineer such a wonderful system that allows its citizens to be productive well beyond retirement age? It took great ingenuity and innovation to get this done.
You see if the CPF which is a PROVIDENT FUND was kept strictly for the purpose of retirement and only for retirement, we would all be able to retire at retirement age. But the CPF was liberalised so that it can be used for housing, children's education , insurance etc ....it is used for everything under sun other than retirement!! Of course allowing citizens to use CPF to buy HDB flats means that HDB flats are affordable at higher market subsidised prices which allows the HDB to accumulate higher surpluses.
In a country where you can find so many who can't retire at retirement age, 40% of household who are worse of as the economy expands and a number of people who are crushed by the wheels of progress (like Mr. Tan who died at the MRT station) . We also have the highest number of millionaires (1% of our population).
To keep the system going, to keep Singaporeans productive beyond retirement age, we need a GST increase to remove whatever residual savings we have left so we feel more motivated to work harder....and there is no better motivation than the lack of money. For the 1% of the population who are millionaires including our esteemed ministers & for big corporations, an tax cut is planned ....the other 99% pay more GST to make this possible.
Singaporeans are so lucky. Unlike the unfortunate citizens of other countries who stop working at retirement age to do useless stuff like looking after grandchildren and strolling in the parks, we get to economically productive until the day we stop breathing.
Singaporeans need to work beyond retirement age to provide for their golden years
By Noor Mohd Aziz, Channel NewsAsia Posted: 28 November 2006 1552 hrs
Singaporeans have been urged to work past the legislated retirement to build up a nest egg for their golden years as the funds might not stretch long enough. Citing figures, the National Trades Union Congress Secretary General Lim Boon Heng said a high proportion of older workers have dropped out of the job market. That is why a tripartite committee comprising NTUC, the government and employers is studying how to help older Singaporeans find work and stay on working. Mr Lim said: "NTUC has long recognised this and therefore pushed for raising the effective retirement age. It is important to focus on the effective retirement age and not on the legislated retirement age. Currently our official retirement age is 62 but many drop out from the age of 55 years." - CNA/ch
Saturday, November 25, 2006
Having heard so much about welfare being a dirty word in Singapore, I began to worry incessantly about welfare destroying our nation and the numerous citizens from welfare states who will be clamoring to become citizens of Singapore because their countries are ravaged by welfare.
Although nobody has debated how much welfare should be given to Singaporeans who cannot afford the basic necessities, our esteemed PAP leaders are quite certain that any amount will bankrupt us and that really got me worried. We must resist every effort to give out social welfare.
One thing I want to clarify is that the PM said WELFARE is a dirty word not WELFARE STATE. A welfare state gives out substantial amounts in welfare.... many countries give out some amount welfare but are not considered welfare states.
Worried about the future of Singapore and the evils of welfare, I did some research and found out Singapore has nothing to worry about!! Our PAP govt has long ensured that welfare will not destroy us, the PAP has defeated the evils of welfare. Singapore has the lowest, yes lowest, welfare spending among East Asian economies.
We have the highest income inequality among countries compared based on the GINI index.
A combination of low welfare and high income inequality...what a wonderful system we have in place that is worth preserving.
Besides protecting us from the evils of welfare, the PAP is also doing a fine job of protecting us from the evils of western style democracy - jailing Chee Soon Juan can only enhance our reputation as an orderly country that has no disruptive activities such as unlicensed public speaking and protests.
Singaporeans are so lucky to enjoy so much protection that the PAP govt provides, with the evils of welfare and western style democracy kept in check, the PAP govt can proceed to increase GST, reduce corporate taxes and make Singapore even more competitive in this globalised world. How do you feel being part of all this? ....
Friday, November 24, 2006
Chee Soon Juan has committed yet another serious crime. Thank goodness our police was alert and did not let him get away this time. Singapore is now a safer country because of their actions to protect us from this cheat, liar, gangster and dishonest person.
CSJ's heinous crime is not paying his fine for speaking in public without license. Spreading his misconceived notions that governments should be vigourously questioned, freedom is important and honesty of govt should not be trusted without transparency just cannot be allowed. It is simply criminal to spread such dangerous poisonous ideas, it creates negativity and suspicion that we don't have the one of the best govt in the world. They should fine him more and jail him longer for this high crime. I'm sure many victims of his crime are still suffering from mental stress from his poisonous ideas which are not consistent with the Straits Times, I suggest these suffering victims seek help from their grassroots leaders or read their newpapers more diligently to have their thoughts corrected.
Unlike other law abiding citizens of Singapore, like the credit card promoters, sales promoters who always apply for license to speak in public, he has failed to do so. I'm sure given the harmful contents of his speech, the police can only do the responsible thing of denying him this license anyway. I'm glad the police had the wisdom to arrest him ahead of lesser criminals like the loan shark who once again vandalised on of the HDB blocks near my place or those pesky timeshare conmen who have been around for 3 decades.
I hope Chee learns his lesson after his jail term and reform himself. If he expresses regret for his crime we can tie yellow ribbons to welcome him back to our inclusive society.
Singapore jails opposition leader
From correspondents in Singapore
November 23, 2006 08:06pm
Article from: Reuters
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A SINGAPORE court jailed an opposition leader for five weeks today over his failure to pay a fine for speaking in public without a permit.
Chee Soon Juan, one of Singapore's most vocal opposition politicians and leader of the tiny Singapore Democratic Party, committed the speaking offence on April 22, two weeks before the country's general elections.
The court initially fined him and because he refused to pay, he and two of his supporters were jailed.
"Every hour, every day, every month that I spend in jail only strengthens my resolve to fight," the 44-year-old Mr Chee told the court before the verdict was read.
A vocal campaigner for human rights and free speech, Mr Chee was jailed for eight days in March for questioning the independence of Singapore's judiciary.
He was jailed for five weeks in 2002, and 12 days and one week in 1999 for speaking in public without a permit.
Thursday, November 23, 2006
Wow another new high!!! Looks like this market can do no wrong. High liquidity, record earnings announcements, merger and acquisitions. As of now the STI is 2841 and HSI is 19350, see making money is as easy as A-B-C or even easier, you don't even need to know anything except the phone number to your broker to ask him to BUY.
Why am I writing about the stock market? ...Well about 6 months ago, I also wrote about the stock market : Read my June 2006 article here. At that time, no one wanted to buy stocks at all, doomsayers were saying there were all sorts of problems with the economy and analysts seem quite shy to recommend equities as an investment. Somehow my brain was wired quite differently from the experts so I did the horrid thing of buying into the falling market. Since most experts were hesitant and cautious, I guess I must have lived up to my name Lucky, the stock market rallied shortly after that non-stop to its current levels.
Right now somehow things have gone into reverse, stocks have risen, every single analyst says there is more upside and there seem to be NOTHING, I repeat NOTHING that will go wrong. Although my name is Lucky, I think I'll not push my luck any further. I'm calling SELL in this market. When? Right at this very moment. Heck I may be totally wrong, PLEASE crucify me if I'm so I can learn a lesson. But for those who want a more convoluted explanation here it is:
The recent rise in the stock market has discounted the best earnings levels and does not discount the risk of inflation and disruptive events such as terrorism, financial fraud etc. While the markets are nowhere near lofty levels of 2000, there are pockets of gross overvaluation. Put this together with the frenzy of M&A deals driven by liquidity in our economic system, I have doubts (though I can be wrong) that the current levels in the stock market can be sustained. My best judgement tells me today is a day to sell even as the market moves up, sell downs can occur fast and happen quickly.
I can be wrong. Of course I'm not as smart as Ho Ching. The markets may move up tons from here. ...but this is my assessment, you're welcome to flame me if I'm wrong.
Tuesday, November 21, 2006
Over the weekend the Straits Times explained clearly how spoilt Singaporeans are. They are so spoilt they complain that their world class MRT and buses are too crowded. I've long suspected that our world class transport system is among the best, as long as you're not pregnant or overweight, you should have no problem breathing during the rush hour squeeze. Also in the Sunday Times is a Finnish PR who says he prefers to stay in Singapore rather than Finland because... although education is free and considered the best in the world, medical care is also free and speech is also free, he likes the hot weather in Singapore and the our low taxes. Wow Singaporeans are so lucky that life in Singapore is better than in Finland....we should really go to Finland to recruit more foreign talents, I'm sure there are thousands from Finland who are dying to emigrate to Singapore and leave the miserable lives they are leading in Finland. Coincidentally, the Finnish person is a futures trader and Singapore has no capital gains tax...he also has a colorful past which is being actively discussed on Internet forums.
Singaporeans are so spoilt, the poorer ones are given bursary when get to NUS. In order to make sure that they are not too spoilt, a strict criteria has to applied to Singaporeans applying for bursary and 40% of the bursary is now given to foreigners. I met a taxi driver who has one daughter (he has 3 kids) in NUS. She applied but failed to get the NUS bursary and has to take a bank loan to pay for her fees and gave tuition on weekends to make ends meet.
Since Singaporeans are so rich, scholarships and busaries are now given to foreign students to help them. See how generous our elite leaders are set aside so much money for bursaries that there is excess to give to foreign students. You can see how much they care for poor Singaporeans.
To make sure that Singaporeans are not spoilt, strict criteria also exist for ComCare and Workfare.
Singaporeans should stop bemoaning the govt and get on with the challenges. You should be appreciative of our govt's efforts to help you although strict criteria has to be applied so to make sure that you're not spoilt. Singaporeans are already pampered by the high level of efficiency of our govt. You have food to eat, water to drink, TV to watch, MRT/bus to ride, HDB flats to stay in what more can you possibly want? The govt is so efficient that Singapore Power's profits are growing - we can expect it to be listed on SGX soon. The MRT just announced increased profits and we can expect its earnings to rise because of the fare increase. Singaporeans are so lucky to have an efficient govt we are the envy of the world, even Finland cannot match us in terms of govt efficiency.
Monday, November 20, 2006
Instead of learning from Singapore to become more competitive, Malaysia is about to implement policies that will set them back another 20 years! See what happens when you don't have efficient govt like the PAP.
In recent years, Singapore under the enlightened leadership of the PAP govt has reduced retrenchment benefits to a minimum, we are told this will make us more competitive and it is for the of workers' own good not to have minimum wages, not to have retrenchment benefits and to have the floodgates of foreign imported labor opened. Our GDP has surged to 7.5% for 2006 and this cannot be bad for us. Well, Singapore has become a millionaire making machine and corporate profits is at a record high as a % of GDP. Thanks to these wonderful labor policies.
Malaysian is about to go soft on labor. Instead of squeezing their workers for every drop of juice they can produce, they are worried that globalisation will have a negative effect on low income workers and feel they have to act before someone jumps onto their LRT/railway track. Oh come on Malaysia, how are you going to compete against Singapore with such soft policies. If you don't know how to work your workers and get them to accept life without a safety net, you will never produce as many millionaires as Singapore. ....you can never smell 7.5% GDP growth for your backwater nation. Instead of learning from their advanced neighbor Singapore, Malaysian officials went to Australia & Britain to study their system. Of course, some of you cynics will say there is NOTHING to learn in the way of safety nets for low income workers from Singapore because there is NOTHING in place. Get real okay! There is plenty that Singapore does to help jobless low income workers like cutting off their utilities when they can't pay to encourage them to find a job fast. ...well whenever wages of these workers increase, Singapore makes sure they don't become complacent and lazy so our govt increase the cost of living to make sure they are motivated to continue working hard. PAP is going to increase their GST to 7% to help them.
We Singaporeans are so lucky to have an enlightened govt. One that understands how to maximise GDP growth every year on this island. Once every 5 years we see the friuts of this progress in the form of Progress Packages.
Safety net plan for retrenched workers
Retrenched workers will be able to get allowances to last them between six months to a year once the proposed Retrenchment Compensation Scheme is finalised.
The scheme, similar to Socso and EPF, will need employees and employers to contribute each month and is to act as a safety net to those retrenched until they are employed elsewhere.
Human Resources Minister Datuk Seri Dr Fong Chan Onn said both the Malaysian Employers Federation (MEF) and the Malaysian Trade Union Congress (MTUC) have agreed in principle to the scheme, and it would have to be discussed further before being implemented.
A special committee headed by ministry secretary-general Datuk Thomas George with MEF and MTUC representatives will be set up to pave the way for its implementation.
“The committee can come up with proposals and amendments to restructure our labour market to make it more competitive,” he told reporters after chairing the National Labour Action Council (NLAC) meeting and before the Ministry’s DeepaRaya celebration here yesterday.
Dr Fong added that the committee was studying how the retrenchment compensation scheme could be introduced through Socso which does not have any provision for a safety net for retrenched workers.
He said MEF and MTUC members have visited Australia and Britain to study their retrenchment compensation models.
“Their visit is also to study the changes made to their various labour laws to suit global challenges,” he said.
He hoped disputes at industrial court and labour department which took up to seven years to solve could be completed at least in one year just like cases handled by the arbitration tribunal in Britain.
Dr Fong said the MTUC and MEF would conduct road shows to promote the productivity-linked wage system (PLWS) to ensure the nation’s workforce was of international standard. - The Star -
Sunday, November 19, 2006
Freakonomics is a book by University of Chicago economist Steven Levitt and New York Times journalist Stephen J. Dubner published in 2005. It summarises interesting research done by Steven Levitt when he applied economic theory to diverse topics that ranged from collusion in Sumo Wrestling to impact of abortion on crime.
One thing I learned from the book is you can mine data and make reasonable conclusions. But in the Singapore context, one has to be doubly careful because Singapore is struck by strange coincidences that can make on jump into the wrong conclusions. Take news in Singapore as an example we had that torrent of wonderful heavenly news sometime in Feb-March '06, then all of a sudden, coincidentally after the elections, we had a string of sad sobbering price increases which culminated in the GST 7% announcement by PM Lee. Mr. Brown had made the wrong conclusion that the price increases were deliberately avoided during the period leading to the elections so that Singaporeans's brains would not be 'taxed' by it. He was promptly corrected by Ms Bhavini. Coincidentally, the govt had alot of money to give out to everyone as Progress Package and hundreds of millions in promises for upgrading a few months back now has so little money to help the poor, they have not choice but to increase GST.
Saturday, November 18, 2006
Take our 1st world transport system as an example. Just because you're packed like sardines in buses and MRT to go for work doesn't mean you have the right to complain. The PAP has clearly said that our transport system is world class and you better appreciate that fact. There's air-con in almost every bus to prevent you from suffocating and you should satisfied that you come out alive and have jobs to go to after your bus ride. From their BMWs and Merc, our elite leaders and highly paid expats can look up at the buses and see that you're having a comfortable ride. It is thus totally unjustifiable for Singaporeans to complain about their transport system. In fact it is so good, they had to increase your bus & MRT fares recently. To make sure that you continue to enjoy these services, they increased taxi fares and ERP charges.
Singaporeans are so lucky to have world class services yet they don't realise it. People in California, Melbourne and other cities without the benefit of a PAP govt are deprived of good public transport. They have to drive themselves around in their own car. ...how terrible!
Friday, November 17, 2006
When I was a young boy, I read the book Milton Friedman's book "Free to Choose", it triggered a lifelong interest in economics. Milton Friedman once said:
"A free market includes the free exchange of views, the ability to read what people write, regardless of what their views are, the whole area of freedom of speech, of religion, of discussion, of the press, is really an aspect of a free market. It is an area in which individuals should be free to cooperate with one another, to exchange views, to say what they believe."- Milton Friedman, 1912-2006.
Thursday, November 16, 2006
"Others say money is the root of all evil.
Wednesday, November 15, 2006
- There are no independent unions to protect low wage workers because the PAP tells us that is a bad thing.
- There is no minimum wage to ensure that those who have full time jobs are paid enough for basic subsistence.
- There is minimal retrenchment benefits because PM Lee said that you have to make it easy for businesses to fire workers so they won't hesitate to hire.
- Businesses can import labor easily to keep labor costs down. There are no rules that they have to show they cannot get locals first before they hire from overseas. They can well hire foreigners just because they are younger.
- Basic utilities such as power, water and transport are run by profitable govt linked entities who can easily raise prices to maintain profitability.
Think about it. You combine the 5 things above and the lack of welfare. What kind of system do you get? A uniquely Singapore system that favors business growth above everything else.....more progress, more GDP growth, more millionaires, higher prices. See how wonderful a system we have for the power elites that rule over us.
When labor is not cheap and not importable like in Singapore in the early 1990s, it encourages better management of labour which are treated as a precious commodity that has to be motivated, trained and retained for the long term. These days workers are treated like expendables ...always on short contracts, readily retrenched. I guess the PAP govt just wants to make life more interesting for us by giving us more challenges and job changes so we get some variety in our boring lives.
See how important it is to preserve this system like what our MM said. For him and his elites, this is the system worth preserving.
So after debating in parliament for 3 days over this topic of poor Singaporeans, the grand conclusion is GST has to be increased to 7%. Nothing else will change. ...still no minimum wages, no welfare, etc. Thank goodness the system is preserved. I was worried with all those heart rending speeches by elite PAP MPs and the great show of empathy...and show of sympathy for lesser Singaporeans something in our system will change....but nothing did change. ...only the GST changed.
Singaporeans are so lucky to be governed by an enlightened govt. One that is always worried about how the evils of welfare will undermine our work ethics and make us lazy. It is for our own good that we have no minimum wage for basic subsistence so that we are always motivated by the hunger to succeed ...by hunger I mean real hunger the type they have in N. Korea. This system is maintained for our own good. That is why they need to control the Internet, eliminate people like CSJ and ban FEER, because there is only one TRUTH in Singapore and the truth is the PAP always work for your best interest. Even if you don't like it, they have rules to make sure you cannot protest, so you don't waste any time and spend more time watching TV and shopping.
Tuesday, November 14, 2006
Yes, to help the poor & old contribute to the PAP govt, the GST will be increased to 7%. As the old don't pay income tax, they have no chance to show their appreciation to the PAP govt, this GST increase will help them to contribute something. As an inclusive society, they now don't have to feel left behind because they contribute less tax, they will catch up soon.
See how the PAP helps the poor & old in our society. Other countries use progressive taxation to make the rich pay more tax and use it to help the poor. In Singapore where the poor find it hard to make ends meet, they need to spend all their income without saving. Hence when the GST is increased, the tax burden for the poor increases....life for them becomes more challenging....see how the PAP improve the lives of the poor by giving them more challenges.
Remember a few days ago, the PAP MPs were complaining about the sub-standard behavior of Singaporeans - always whining and whingeing. ...so hard to govern. Why don't you be like citizens of other countries? Say, like the people of our perpetual competitor Hong Kong. Yes see what the Hong Kong people did when their govt tried to impose GST:
In Singapore, people will just whine and whine ...and do nothing. Now you can see clearly what our MPs are complaining about.
You can trust that the PAP govt will use the 2% to help the poor not to fund their favorite 'jump on the bandwagon' investments such as Biotech, Digital Media & Water Treatment. The purpose of the 2% increase in GST is to help the poor and NOT to cut the income tax of the rich and reduce corporate tax. It is REALLY to HELP the poor ...and NOT what Steve Chia predicted in 2002:
So before this GST is increased to 5%, 7%,
See Steve Chia was always misreading the intent of our caring govt. The purpose of GST increases is to help the poor and not the rich. The PAP govt is always trying to close the income gap and not to exacerbate it. Singaporeans are so lucky to have such a good government!
Sunday, November 12, 2006
Saturday, November 11, 2006
See what you have done my fellow Singaporeans. You have totally disappointed our esteemed leaders with your sub-standard behaviour. Our leaders have already made such a huge sacrifice in their lives to lead a group of people not worthy of their leadership and many still fail to appreciate their momentous effort.
It is time for you Singaporeans to ruminate on this and show some appreciation.
The PAP MPs feel strongly that Singaporeans have become poor role models for children. They specifically cited the example of Singaporeans calling up HDB when they have problems with their neighbors. When I was living in the kampong 25 yrs ago and neighbors had problems with each other, they would met at an open field with their parangs & choppers ....and threatened to dig out the other person's intestines. After some extreme shouting, the differences were always settled without spilling any intestines. Singaporeans these days really lack resilence and have to depend on HDB to step in to solve this type of problem. They should just go to the void deck to settle their differences.
Our elite MPs are also disappointed with Singaporeans addiction to PAP govt's efficiency. It is indeed true that Singaporeans are totally reliant on the govt. We depend on the govt for public housing which take 25 yrs to pay, utilities which takes up 10% of the income of an average household, for the roads which we pay road tax & ERP everyday and for the public transport which recently had a fare increase. We are indeed totally dependent on famed efficency the PAP govt - that is why they have no choice by to make us pay for this efficiency.
I really feel sorry that our specially selected elites are put through such a terrible experience of looking after people who are unworthy of their leadership. These people lack grace and civiity. Worse still, they are quick to demand their rights and condemn others for not showing care. Our elite MPs only get $13k allowance a month to perform their MP role part-time, yet they have to face such indecent and unreasonable demand by Singaporeans for their basic rights. Did these people get 10 As for their 'O' levels to deserve their rights? Did they go to Harvard Business School? They are not worthy or deserving of any rights. Besides they already have food and TV to watch....so what else could they possibly want. Our MPs have such an underdeveloped sense of entitlement they accepted this poorly paid part time MP job to listen to your problems...I really feel so sorry they are under appreciated for their huge sacrifice.
Singaporeans are so lucky to have such a good govt with highly qualified MPs; specially chosen elites who show that they truly care for the people. We have to show our appreciation for their effort. We must stop complaining about our fears and worries. Anyway, they have already upgraded most estates with gardens and fountains. For me, whenever I fear for my future, I go to the blue dolpin fountain near my house and watch the water flow, and it works everytime. My worries melt away and my fears disappear....no need to see MP anymore. Now you know why estate upgrading is so important. Please be more self reliant and check out where the nearest fountain or garden is.
THE police could soon have the power to stop and detain any group of five or more people they suspect of gathering together to plot a crime (see article below)...any crime.
It is a crime to gather to plan a crime.
Therefore, it is a crime to gather to plan a gathering to plan a crime
Therefore, it is a crime to gather to plan a gathering to plan a gathering to plan a crime. etc etc.
So if you start meeting a group of friends regularly you have to ask them in 10 years time, will they ever gather to plan a crime. If they gather to plan a crime, the gathering before that is also a crime, and the gathering before that is also a crime, ...and the before that is also a crime and so on....it is therefore a crime to meet them for the first time.
I ponder long and hard about the purpose of this law and realised it is because the PAP care alot about ordinary citizens. They want us to mix with good company not dangerous people with initials C.S.J. If you join a gathering or meeting, you have to be sure it won't lead to another meeting that leads to another meeting that leads to another that results in 4 people being surrounded by men in blue. See how much the govt cares about you? They care so much they don't want you to mix with potential criminals.
Nov 10, 2006
Plotting a crime? Police can soon detain any such group
Laws on unlawful assembly will be extended to cover all offences
By Ben Nadarajan
THE police could soon have the power to stop and detain any group of five or more people they suspect of gathering together to plot a crime.
Plans to extend the laws covering unlawful assembly mean that it would be an offence to meet for the purpose of planning any crime, rather than just certain offences currently specified under the Penal Code.
At the moment, such gatherings are illegal only if the offence they are plotting, among other things, carries a punishment of six months' jail or more, or affects public tranquillity.
The planned revisions to the Penal Code would remove these provisions so that the law covers all offences.
The punishment for unlawful assembly would remain the same; a maximum of six months in jail, or a fine, or both.
This change echoes a Court of Appeal case more than a decade ago, when prosecutors appealed against the acquittal of 25 gamblers charged with unlawful assembly. Since the maximum punishment for gambling is six months' jail, they had been cleared of the crime.
A five-judge court ruled that unlawful assembly should be applicable to the plotting of all crimes.
Asked about the amendment to the law, the president of the Association of Criminal Lawyers, Mr Subhas Anandan, said: 'It would be interesting to know what's the background behind why the ministry felt it was necessary to change this.'
Some lawyers suggest it could be a response to the increasing number of youth gangs, which are increasingly responsible for offences like stealing, rioting and public mischief. Last year, 4,594 youths were arrested for various crimes.
Civil society groups fear it gives too much power to the police to make arrests.
Think Centre president Sinapan Samydorai said: 'The discretion of deciding when a group of five people are planning a crime falls on the police when it should be the courts which decide this.
'I also find it strange as it contradicts the Government's notion of encouraging civil society to open up.'
Lawyer Amolat Singh said he did not think civil society groups are the target of the amended law, saying 'present laws would be enough to muzzle them if that were the Government's aim'.
He added: 'On the contrary, with the changes, civic groups should plan for proper control of their proceedings and nip any possible degeneration...into an unlawful assembly by arranging for appropriate officials, security and so on.'
Friday, November 10, 2006
Steps for transforming Meritocracy to Elitism:
1. Merit was assessed in one-off fashion, rather than continuously. An individual, once labelled inadequate, has little opportunity whereas opportunity is redirected to those labeled as bright . It also meant that membership of the elite came with lifetime tenure. Under that system, the chosen could relax and coast over long period, while the less fortunate were condemned for life. With the scholarship, come the job, with the job comes the career, with the career comes the superscale pay. After all that a select group get to the tea sessions & interviews for selection to represent the people.
2. Merit was defined narrowly. (e.g. an IQ test or exam scores) The gifted artist or sportsman might not do well on other measures of talent. This compounded the lack of second chances.
3. Socio-economic background as a confounding factor. Tests do not measure intrinsic potential, but its manifestation at the time of testing. The child of wealthy parents has access to the best tutors, expensive schools and maybe even a chauffeur so she can spend an extra 2 hours a day studying rather than sitting on public transport. The exact same child, if raised in a disadvantaged background, will probably do less well. Today a primary one student has to know English, write essays and take oral exams, the starting line has been shifted to favor the wealthy who can afford the prepartory courses, the tuition and Montissori. In another country, they will ask these over-zealous parents to go fly a kite and start teaching from foundation up.
4. Those adjudged to have merit became a social class without room for others. This new social elite sought only to reproduce themselves, building further barriers to entry. Old boys club, power elite relations & connections etc ensure doors are shut to others who are just as able.
5. Lack of social obligation. The elite were not particularly concerned about helping those less well off. If called to serve they have to be compensated due to their overdeveloped sense of entitlement. Some even have the nerve to take $1M paychecks for public service. Others working part time as people's representatives take back $13K in allowance and want to keep their full time jobs. As elitism take root fewer people are willing to serve unless they are over-compensated due to their overdeveloped sense of entitlement...basically greed.
Once selected (not elected) to represent the people. They perpetuate the system that puts them on top. It is necessary to project empathy and care for the people to avoid criticism. The govt can even claim that vast sums are set aside for the poor and underprivilege but quietly put in high barriers and regulation so that they face humiliation and distress when they try to access it. The discussion of helping the poor to level the playing field goes on forever without the situation ever improving because there is no real intent to move away from pro-business policies but merely to allay the fears of the ordinary citizen. As they talk, the income gap grows and then they talk somemore. Real solutions such as a safety real social net, minimum wages and empowerment of low skilled workers will never materialise because the plan to keep the current system going - business as usual.
Singaporeans are so lucky to have a govt that shows its care and concern. Everyday when I get home, I can't wait to get my hands on the Straits Times to read the kind words of our PAP MPs whose outpouring of sympathy for the poor appears so genuine. Every year they have to pour out more and more sympathy because there seem to be more Singaporeans to sympathise with as our GINI index increases. Some people propose simplistic ideas like a social safety net or unemployment benefits or minimum wage to solve the problem. ....but I totally disagree with such approaches because once they are put in place our MPs will not get a chance to show that they care. BTW, US is raising its minimum wage again and economists say it will have little negative impact on the economy....they have implemented minimum wages for decades anyway. In Singapore the govt works on an even more powerful reverse idea minimising wages instead of minimum wages - this is done by opening the floodgates to foreign imported labor from 3rd world countries who are willing to work for pittance because once they get back to their home countries they are kings with whatever pay they get here. See how smart our govt is at minimising the wages of our low income laborers......woa so smart instead of minimum wage...they go for minimising wages.
Thursday, November 09, 2006
Tuesday, November 07, 2006
Our elites are very good at thinking up new bets, it is called helicopter vision. I particularly like the bet on Biotech because it took courage and vision to tell thousands of students to switch to life sciences and spend billions in tax payers money. Biotech took alot of courage ....why? Because Singapore had no comparative advantage in this area at all. Many Biotech companies have been around for decades in the US and they are finding the going very tough because of generic drugs, and the fact they have to now struggle to discover drugs for diseases that affect fewer people(orphan drugs). Even a blockbuster like Viagra has 3 competitiors. US has a large population base, numerous hospitals with patient data on diseases and a critical mass of R&D personel to tap on. Singapore had none of these yet we wanted to take on the Americans. This is because our elites had enormous faith in the ability of Singaporeans to go into this area.
The first step is to spend of millions - on buildings and big name researchers to get this whole thing started. After that using Singaporean tax payers money to fund numerous research projects. Then we train the Singaporeans students to wash test tubes. The next step is critical with all these things set up we now try to attract big biotech firms to set up R&D here, because they like operating in the US we have to offer them incentives to come. A few of them did come to hire the foreign talents and have Singaporeans wash the test tubes. Somehow, this whole setup will benefit Singaporeans because of huge number of test tubes that need to be washed.
So did we win the Biotech bet? .....The PAP govt never loses at anything!! No matter what happens we still have the casino, water research, digital media and hubs to keep us going.