Sunday, April 29, 2007
If hawkers can make $100K a month because they are good at frying noodles what is the big deal if we pay our ministers a few million dollars a year. Now if you don't like our ministers being benchmarked against top professionals, no problem we can benchmark them against our top hawkers and you will find their pay hike totally reasonable.
Some of you cynics will say that the article aims to make our ministers' pay hike more palatable to the public but I think they did it to encourage more people to become hawkers. Hawkers have to be paid well because there will be widespread hunger without them because most Singaporeans don't know how to cook. They have to be compensated for the painful sacrifice of becoming hawkers given some of them could have become doctors or lawyers. If our hawkers are not competent widespread food poison might occur. It is only right we our hawkers are well paid.
Friday, April 27, 2007
The first people I've to thank is the PAP govt. They have created low tax an environment in which corporations thrive. Corporate profits as a % of GDP is at its highest in history and the govt still feels that it is not enough - they have to cut corporate taxes. This will help the CEO who made $1M last year make $2M this year - not that he got smarter or worked harder, the environment has improved, profits goes up....he too will get lucky. St. Regis is sold out. Yachts makers are reporting backorders of up to 1 year. The Mercedes salesman never had it better.
If you go ask them, they will say they deserve it, they worked hard, they worked smart but the reality is corporate profits are rising because labour cost of the bottom 30% of our workforce has remained stagnant to produce these profits. If that is not the case, why hesitate to implement minimum wages, why remove retrenchment benefits, why open the floodgates to foreign labor. ...if it has no impact on profitability.
Government set the moral tone when it comes to renumeration. If a govt comes out to say they deserve to be paid 4000 times cleaner, they set this example for the CEOs and high income earners to follow....they too will feel the deserve more. So do you think a CEO works 4000 times harder & smarter than the cleaner? ...does he carry around with him the brain the size of an elephant? Economic systems from time to time can become downright bad at distributing incomes like now and before the French Revolution. They are rescued by men like Warren Buffett & Bill Gate who will be setting up the largest foundation to distribute their all their wealth. ...Warren Buffett once said that he is probably smart but the market has over-rewarded him for his asset allocation skills, it is ridiculous for him to be a billionaire for allocating capital....so he is giving it all away. It is the job of govts to fix the system when such huge distortions occurs not stand around and say it is due to globalisation....
When it comes to setting the right moral tone in our society, nobody can even come close to the PAP, they operate a 4 trillion$ economy for only $40M. I'm sure after this minister pay episode, many of our multimillionaires and billionaires will see their conscience awakened and realise their success is due as much to the favorable system/environment as their own efforts. Just like Li KaShing, they will stand up to pledge to give away a significant proportion of their wealth. Singaporeans are so lucky to have unselfish people in govt who set the example for the rest of the well endowed to follow....
Wednesday, April 25, 2007
The pilots are asking to be paid more for A380 because they are responsible for more people. Are they trying to hold us hostage in their negotiation for higher pay? We all know that the plane will crash and sink into the ocean if it is piloted by incompetent people. However to use this to justify their pay hike is so underhanded because we have no alternative source for pilots other than the Alpa-S union. While the pilots claim to be underpaid and making a painful sacrifice to be in SIA, the turnover rate of 1% shows that this is not the case....contrary to their claims, they can't do better else where.
Tuesday, April 24, 2007
Evidence found here.
This is really too much - he undermined the efforts to crush Gomez during the elections over the filling of forms, then he wrote that "Singaporeans are fed up with progress"....poke fun at PM Lee (the 'mai hum' incident).
This minister pay hike issue is serious. It is about our lives and future. We cannot trivialise it through satire and humorous parody. Mr. Brown is totally irresponsible - if you don’t eat ba chor mee, you won’t die and the nation will not collapse. Without the PAP, Singapore will certainly collapse.
I strongly urge Singaporeans to be more serious about the issue and not to be misled by charlatans like Mr. Brown who seeks to spread his unhealthy cynicism. Politics is serious in Singapore. Just listen to MM Lee, Singapore will collapse, Singapore will sink and our wives & daughter will become maids….certainly no laughing matter.
Mr. Brown has to be arrested under the anti-sedition laws, he has destroyed weeks of efforts by the Straits Times + PAP leaders to explain the pay hikes in a manner ordinary citizens can accept and understand. He is undoing a massive nation building effort, dividing our society and portraying our leaders as monopolistic profiteerers. We know there is absolutely no truth in what Mr. Brown said. Since he contradict the Straits Times, he is a mischievous liar out to cause trouble. Politics is serious, Mr. Brown pose a grave danger to the minds of Singaporeans. It is time to have him arrested....and detained without trial.
Monday, April 23, 2007
Those are run-of-the-mill ordinary countries that Singapore is not. We are extraordinary and the reason why we are extraordinary is because we have such a brilliant govt whose leadership is so crucial, the "island will sink into nothingness" . While other countries can replace incompetent leaders through elections, we will sink into nothingness. This is why the he found the debate on ministerial pay increases "completely unreal". Some might think his illustration unreal or the salary unreal but what MM Lee is saying is the pay hike is so REASONABLE to debate about it is unreal.
"You want to quarrel about $20M over a 4 trillion economy? I say rubbish. Let's say the PAP crashes tomorrow, right? One boatload sinks, 3000 people dead. You have an election. You're going to reproduce this govt. No...." - MM Lee.
I'm surprise our economy has grown to be the size of the US economy. I thought Singaporeans were debating the minister pay increase because Minister Teo said the parliamentary debate was meant for transparency and accountability in response to WP Low saying that the debate was a waste of time because no votes will be taken. Now the MM Lee says it is all rubbish. I guess he is the wisest leader around. His story about the sinking boat is not unreal...... but I thought there are no other viable alternatives around because he got rid of them because he found out they were defamers, fly-by-night liars, communists, Marxists and gangsters. It turned out only the PAP can attract honest people, so if they are gone, Singapore will sink. Understand....stop whining and move on...
Friday, April 20, 2007
Wednesday, April 18, 2007
Means testing may kick in within next 12 months. The evil WP wanted our esteemed minister Khaw to state clearly what the criteria for means testing is during the elections. Obviously, the WP doesn't know our elections are conducted to show support for estate upgrading and issues such as means testing that will affect our pockets and lives are meant for implementation after elections and the govt will explain it to our satisfaction after they have already decided to implement it. Ambushed by the WP during the last elections, Khaw put out a truthful statement:
Of course you can read it to say "means testing may happen". Our ministers are men of the highest integrity, they won't intentionally say something to give citizen the wrong impression just to get their votes. They are different from politicians of other countries that is why they have to be paid based on a different benchmark.There is clearly a need to for all of us to be prepared to understand the PAP's explanation on means testing. Of course the Straits Times will help us along the way. But as good citizens we have to be prepared otherwise the anger and confusion surrounding the minister pay hikes will happen all over again. To this end, I've done 2 things:
1. Created an email account to receive accounts of and hospital bills for those who have gone through the system : email@example.com . Please if you have friends or relatives who have been ill and have incurred hospital bills that they can only afford to pay via instalments please email them to me. You can blank out their names and details to protect their privacy. A short account of their illness and how they feel about their bills will also help.
2. If the response is good, I'll post most of it in http://sgmedicalbills.blogspot.com. Please find out and get hold of some bills send them to me so that we can show how affordable medical care and hospitalisation is in Singapore. People can then be reassured and sleep well at night.
You know we have been told all our lives that medical care is affordable. The word affordable is a favorite among our PAP ministers. Our HDB housing is affordable. Transport is affordable. Singaporeans are really very lucky to live in an affordable country although most of us don't know what affordable means.
BTW, have you ever seen a medical bill? Any idea what it looks like? Here is one from someone living a few doors away from me.The unsubsided bill is about $250K and after govt subsidy and adding GST it comes to about $70K under Class C. This is for a 2 month stay in ICU+surgery in a govt hospital. I'll elaborate more about this case which is related to one of cracks that our medical system left open for children with congenital defects.
Anyway, if you have a bill or know someone who has been hospitalised please email me the story and try to attached the subsidised medical bill so we all can get a clearer picture of how affordable our medical care is.
Monday, April 16, 2007
Some of you may worry that that with the pay hike our ministers will lose the sense of empathy towards ordinary Singaporeans who have to struggle for a living. Don't worry our ministers are all very high calibre people they are so high calibre they can have empathy even though they make in a few hours what the average work makes in a month. Now you see how high quality our ministers are? We know they have alot of empathy because they proactively seek out needy Singaporeans to find out how to help them. The basic needs of Singaporeans is foremost in their minds.
Singapore is so lucky to have leaders whom the Straits Times describe as compassionate, dedicated and sacrificing. It is clear they work for our interests and not their own. They are leaders who keep their most poignant promises such as "no one will be left hehind".
Saturday, April 14, 2007
Who do these Europeans think we are? They think they can just walk into Singapore Inc and talk freely like they are going to do in Indonesia....come on get real! This is Singapore okay not some country like Denmark that is run by a mediocre govt without a decent budget for a good security apparatus. We employ enough people on properly benchmarked salaries in our security dept to monitor both locals and foreigners who intend to undermine our heavily financed re-branding campaign. I guess after George Soros said we are not an open society we have to be really careful with some of these foreigners who do not have the benefit of reading Straits Times to understand what goes on in Singapore.
Thank goodness our govt is on its toes to prevent these European MPs from poisioning the minds of Singaporeans. I wonder what they would say if they had been allowed to speak up ....must be something hideous like "PAP is not the best govt in the world". ...oh..so these Europeans they are so envious of our top 1st world system. Singaporeans are so lucky to have a govt so concerned about how they think and works diligently protect them from harmful external influence. Such a govt certainly deserve its million$ paycheck.
These liberal democrats from Europe endangers the advanced system we have in Singapore. Liberal democratic systems will result in emergence of unselected volunteers who are not groomed and will offer to be ministers for less than a million dollars. How can we ever trust ministers who are not paid $2M a year?
Friday, April 13, 2007
Just like the govt of Singapore, NETS has taken the opportunity of a strong economy to increase its fees. So on top of the 2% hike in GST, there is a 1.9% in fees if you use NETS for purchases. Please help your friendly retailer out, get a bigger wallet and carry plenty of cash.
Singaporeans are so lucky to have so much money....everytime you make enough to save monopolies on this little island will think of ways to make you contribute to their profits. With the govt setting such a fine example, there is nothing to stop them.
April 11, 2007
Surge in Nets charges on retail shops
THE operating cost for retail shops seems to go higher and higher.
From July 1, Nets Eftpos is charging retail shops up to 245 per cent higher from 0.55 per cent of sales transactions to up to 1.9 per cent. This seems too much to bear but what can retail shops do, as it is the one and only card (about six million) that almost all Singaporean and foreign workers have and use.
Just imagine the large amount of money that can be made by Nets.
Retail shops - 100,000
Average sales - $20,000
Old percentage charge - 0.55 per cent = 11 million
New percentage charge - 1.9 per cent = 38 million
Meanwhile, banks want us to keep a monthly average of $10,000 every month, otherwise, they would charge us $20 or $30 each month. Imagine 100,000 retail shops x $10,000 = $1 billion.
Can the Monetary Authority of Singapore or Singapore Retailers' Association care to comment on whether our monthly operating cost can be reduced?
Alex Chan Hian Keat
Thursday, April 12, 2007
I would like all of you to take a deep breath, stand back and see the bigger picture. Imagine PM Lee is your CEO, your I.C. (Identity Card) is your employee pass and your HDB flat the workers' quarters......see it all makes sense now doesn't it? Chee Soon Juan is a disgruntled employee who was punished for insubordination. Your worker's benefits such as medical subsidies, transport etc has to be reduced to make sure company profit needs to be maximised. It all makes sense because Singapore is........
It seems that the low income employees are not performing too well this past 10 years and we can find cheaper workers from China & India to substitute them. Our CEO and his whole management team is indispensible, profit has been going up so they have to be rewarded. Our company newsletter, the Straits Times, too has been doing one heck of a job telling the employees how lucky they are to be employed by Singapore Inc. If not for the handful of disgruntled employees who have been blogging on the Internet, company morale would be even higher. Our company founder Mentor Manager is still alive and giving instructional motivational talks to the employees - he is telling stories about how the company wouldn't even exist without him and it would have been just a subsidiary of a bigger company. The employees certainly feel lucky, they have employment until they are 80s, they call it lifetime employment not available in other companies. ----------------------------------------------------------------------
Singapore PM in damage control on salary: analysts
Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong's offer to freeze his salary for five years is an attempt to appease rare public fury over plans to boost the salaries of ministers and civil servants, analysts said Thursday.
The Singapore leader told parliament on Wednesday he would forego the salary hike which would give him an annual income of more than two million US dollars a year, up from the 1.62 million dollars he made last year.
He would donate the difference to "suitable good causes", he said.
"It looks like an indicator that he is trying to calm the public," said Sinapan Samydorai, president of the Think Centre human rights group.
"After all this noise, then you announce it, people will still be sceptical even though his intention may be good," he told AFP.
The prime minister's press secretary said Lee's decision to freeze his salary was not a response to opposition to the salary hike.
"The fact is it was a decision taken up front even before the announcements of pay revision," Chen Hwai Lian told AFP.
Lee's salary hike was part of a pay increase for cabinet ministers and civil servants announced on Monday.
His revised salary would be five times more than the 400,000 dollars paid to US President George W. Bush and more than eight times that of Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who receives 240,000 dollars a year.
The pay increases provoked a rare outcry from normally reserved Singaporeans.
In a country where political rallies are banned without a permit and the media are closely linked with the government, many of the comments against the pay rise were posted on the Internet, where people can use pseudonyms.
"What a hypocrite our PM Lee is," said Annie, who was among a growing list of people to sign an online petition against the increments. More than 1,800 had signed by Thursday.
"One moment he wants to level up his and his ministers' pay, next moment he tries to be a good and caring person by donating his increment to charity for the next five years," Annie said.
Ministers' salaries are to be raised incrementally from 1.2 million dollars to 1.9 million dollars by the end of 2008.
"Him freezing his pay should be seen more as a gesture to control the damage," said Terence Chong, a fellow at the Institute of Southeast Asian Studies in Singapore.
"He is trying to seize the moral high ground and also to deflect criticism that ministers lack the desire" to perform public service, he told AFP.
The move to increase ministerial pay comes amid a widening income gap and ahead of a hike in the goods and services tax by two percentage points to seven percent beginning in July.
"The reason why there is such dissatisfaction is because the hike has come at a strange time when the salaries of the average Singaporean seem to be stagnating and in some parts taking a dip," said Chong.
"Also, it comes at a time when there are reports of a wage gap between the rich and poor widening," he said.
Lee and senior ruling party leaders said high salaries, pegged to the pay of senior private sector employees, were necessary to attract the best people to government and prevent corruption.
Opposition politician Chee Soon Juan, of the Singapore Democratic Party, disagreed.
"It must never be forgotten that parliaments are institutions of service, not avarice," Chee said on his party's website.
"The pay hike was a colossal misstep on the part of the government ... The PM is obviously now trying to undo, or at least limit, the damage."
"....current pay practices for CEOs are irrational and excessive" - Warren Buffett, 2007 Lletter.
"It's interesting that when someone gets a $2 million bonus, they're wonderfully happy, until they find out the next person got $2.1 million" - Warren Buffett.
Which gap will destroy us?
The income gap has risen sharply in Singapore. The PAP seems unconcerned saying that this is all part of "globalisation" something they have chosen to embrace enthusiastically. The PAP has never said that the income gap which causes society to become divided will destroy us..... but if there is a gap between PAP ministers and top earners, it will cause the crumbling and collapse of Singapore. That 30% of the populace that saw decline in their standard of living and income for 1 decade is not a big problem that needs to be addressed immediately but if you continue to pay the PAP minister less, Singapore will collapse. Understand?
Critical for Singaporeans to UNDERSTAND
Many Singaporeans just simply can't get past the fact that paying our ministers the HIGHEST salaries in the world is simply a REASONABLE thing to do. To help you understand the LOGIC and overcome your irrational emotions, the Straits Times has assembled pages and pages of LOGIC to help you. But if don't have the time, let me help you with a summary:
1. Our system and circumstance is different from other countries. While they can have mediocre govt, we must have the best otherwise we will crumble and collapse. The PAP is the best.
2. Define best people? Other countries consider passionate people who see public service as a duty and go through democratic elections, open debates to get elected, the Singapore system is somewhat different. The best people are whom the PAP says are the best people or more specifically whom MM Lee says are the best people. These best people are a little reluctant because some of them were surgeons, others were lawyers or top military personnel who were making tons of money. They are invited to tea sessions with the MM & PM, asked difficult questions, and if it is determined they no element of "Chee Soon Juan type" personality, won't cause any problems and sound competent and intelligent, they are asked to join the PAP. People stepping forward is a big no-no. If they do, they cause trouble like Andrew Kuan, some effort has to be expended to eliminate them.
3. Because these people are 'invited' to join the PAP, they have to make sure that his concerns are addressed - loss of income, abusive citizens, losing elections etc. That is why "punch MP get maximum 7 years jail", $16K MP allowance and elections for upgrading.
4. Why can't we just employ our leaders? If you examine our system, we might as well just employ our leaders instead of conducting elections. Singapore Inc should be like any other corporation - recruit & pay the top people well give them the perks and the rest of the citizens work as employees in Singapore Inc. Well there are a few problems with that we need to go through the trouble of changing our pledge and constitutions. So they have to do this wayang thingy once every 5 years to avoid changing the laws. ...plus it will be a bit embarassing if we don't have elections because we are still called Republic of Singapore.
I urge our leaders to take the pay hikes. While our ordinary citizens who are merely employees in Singapore Inc can whine and whine about the pay hikes, they are powerless to do anything so why fear them? It is only right that Singapore Inc pay the highest salaries to our top managers (ministers). Straits Time can help most of the ordinary citizens understand the need for pay hikes. It is afterall the practical thing to do because recruitment of good people is difficult. We don't want do gooders stepping forward who will incessantly worry about the poor and ordinary folks instead of focussing on how to increase GDP and profits of companies. These naive idealistic people who think Singapore is better off with greater freedom, justice and equality can join the Workers Party or SDP and can be separately fixed by our corporate security services - they too are hired under good salary schemes to do their job.
Tuesday, April 10, 2007
I applaud our esteemed MM Lee for reminding us of our good fortune riding on the grand accomplishments of the PAP. It is indeed the visionary leadership of the PAP that has bronght Singapore where it is today - I dare say that Singapore is not only different from Denmark & Finland we are also different from Germany & Japan. Germany & Japan were devastated by bombs and humiliation of defeat after WW2, but they were transformed within 3 decades into top 1st world nations. But Germany & Japan are different from Singapore. Why? The people who transformed these countries were not the leaders but the hardworking citizens. In Singapore, the PAP deserves credit for the transformation not the ordinary citizens who work 3 shifts at our factory for low wages, the masses who report to work every morning and return home in the crowded buses. ...not the workers who never went on strike for decades even when the chips were down took the painful CPF cuts without a whimper of protests. It is not the ordinary citizens of Singapore who transformed Singapore but the PAP. Thank you PAP.
That is why the PAP deserve their million $ pay checks and ordinary citizens don't even deserve 3 meals a day when they meet with misfortune and have to live on PA. That is why ordinary Singaporeans deserve to be displaced by the thousands of imported labor while the PAP is irreplaceable and its position of power is secured by repressing evil poisonous opposition. That is why ordinary Singaporeans deserve GST hikes, transport fare increase, means testing at hospitals and work until they are in their 80s....while the PAP ministers make in one year what we cannot make in our lifetime and also collect pension. That is why Singaporeans don't deserve minimum pay and some work full time jobs but cannot support their families while PAP ministers rightfully deserve to make in one month what these people make in 2 decades.
Now you can truly appreciate the grand achievements of the PAP govt as seen from the salaries they rightfully deserve. The PAP have once again prevented Singapore from crumbling and collapsing by paying themselves decent wages. I feel so sorry for the people of Denmark and Sweden who have to suffer from mediocre govt from time to time, their lives must be miserable living in a country without the benefit of PAP leadership.
Saturday, April 07, 2007
Different Frame of Reference
"Where you put your eyes, that's about the size of it...." -- Sesame Street Song, that teaches children that small things can look big if you put it closer to your eye.When it was revealed that Durai's pay was $600K per annnum, the 1st reaction from one of our elites was "$600K is peanuts". The 2nd reaction was from Ho Ching in a long open letter to the Straits Times explaining why Singaporeans should not begrudge Durai's pay which would have been higher had he chosen to be a career lawyer. She must have felt very strongly that she is correct about Durai's pay to take time off from her busy schedule to write this long letter. The reaction from the ground was nothing less than outrage - if you make $3000 a month, there is no way anyone in the world can't convince you that $600K is not an ridiculous paycheck for someone running a charity. It seems that salaries of hundreds of thousands $ per year is no big deal among our elites and it is common belief among them that such high salaries is acceptable even in jobs that require an extraordinary sense of duty towards the people of Singapore.
Other PAP beliefs were expressed in the past few weeks - "you have to pay people high salaries to prevent corruption", "you have to pay high salaries to people who are suppose to have a strong sense of duty not to job hop to better opportunities", "you have to pay high salaries otherwise Singapore will collapse" and "you have to pay high salaries or else you wife and mom will become maids". All sound and reasonable beliefs from our elites but to get Singaporeans to understand it is another matter. It seems the more the PAP tries to explain their beliefs, the stronger the fury of the ordinary people. It is just beyond their small limited minds to understand and appreciate the great value of their elite leaders.
Two Stories & a whole lot of morals
Story 1 : About Values
Several years ago a young lady joined my company as an engineer - the starting pay at that time was $2500. Her performance was exceptional, she was very hardworking and helpful. She ate at the same canteen as everyone else and took the public transport (bus/MRT) to work. I was on the same 'sardine packed' bus as her on numerous occasionals. ...I once asked her if she considered getting a car. she replied that she was used to the buses because she took the bus everyday when she studied in NUS (where she graduated top of her class).
One day after a company organised BBQ which ended at about 1 am, those who had cars volunteered to drive the others home as there was no more public transport and taxis were few and far between. An manager (Peter) gave her and a few others staying in the West a ride back.
The next day, Peter came to me and said, "Lucky, you know all those nice things you said about the PAP govt during lunch, I think you better stop". You know why? When Peter dropped off the girl that night, her father came to open the door. Peter recognised the old man who was his ex-MP!! The girl's father is an old guard MP who was in parliament for almost 2 decades. The ex-MP was a successful businessman and is probably worth millions.
For the next few months nobody wanted to ask her about her family background sensing that it might be a little awkward. One day one of the engineers casually asked her why she took the bus everyday? wasn't she thinking of getting a car? She replied that she had to work for a living just like everyone else and she would buy a car when she can afford it.
When Philip Yeo spoke about values he said, "If you have no value system, there will be no future". What were the values he was talking about? A deep sense of duty, no overdeveloped sense of entitlement and no exaggerated sense of importance. The ex-MP brought up his daughter with all the right values. Values that elitism would quickly destroy as resources are generously allocated to the elites to creating an exaggerated sense of importance. We are told without them Singapore will collapse, hence no price to too high to pay to prevent the collapse of Singapore. Go back to what Mrs Goh, Ho Ching and Wee Shu Min said and you will understand what kind of future lies ahead for the rest of us.
Story 2 : Nurses and Sacrifice
Before 2003, there was an acute shortage of nurses so the did the usual of increasing pay ...and when that didn't work they recruited from Philipines and China. After 2003, the problem of a shortage of nurses disappeared....you know why?
In 2003 Singapore was struck by the deadly SARS virus, I can still remember the strained look on Minister Lim's face as the virus proved more infectious than many had expected. In the frontline risking their lives to care for the sick were the nurses - both local and foreign. The fight against SARS was broadcasted everyday on TV and people could see the courage and dedication of the nurses. 2 nurses, Jonnel Pabuayon Pinera and Hamidah Ismail lost their lives while carrying out their duty. You think that fewer Singaporeans would be willing to become nurses after seeing the risk of infection but the reverse happened. The fight against SARS gave the whole country a glimpse of the nursing profession and we found out that it was not just a job in the health care industry but about saving lives and compassionate care of the sick.
When there is real sacrifice involved, good dedicated people will step forward. If it is about upholding the ideas set forth in our pledge, I'm sure people will step forward even if they have to risk everything and end up bankrupt. If it is about protecting the interest of Singaporeans, making sure the sick is taken care of, the poor have enough for 3 meals a day, I'm sure good men will step forward to serve. However, if a nation or govt is turned into a corporation it is just like any other corporation out to make money, you have to pay people to join it. Also, some able people simply don't like to join parties that use defamation lawsuit to silence critics, propaganda to fool the people it is suppose to serve and unfair tactics to win elections.
What is good govt?
Friday, April 06, 2007
"We have the best government that money can buy"-Mark Twain
Looking ahead the future of our nation has never been brighter. We will be reaching top 1st world status soon as we leapfrog the Swiss standard of living. I noticed that traffic to my website has gone up significantly in recent days, it is apparent that just like me, all of you feel strongly that our leaders should better rewarded for taking us there on the fastest possible path....as long as you don't turn your head back to look, nobody is left behind...
Thursday, April 05, 2007
"......your apartment will be worth a fraction of what it is, your
jobs will be in peril, your security will be at risk and our
women will become maids in other people's countries" - MM Lee
"....thanks to the PAP, many are struggling with high housing cost, worriedAs I read the arguments on various blogs and forums, all I can say is I'm totally disappointed with Singaporeans. Not only have the failed to appreciate the good work and sacrifice of our Ministers, they have failed completely to understand the context of pay hikes. Our MM himself has to step up to explain his system which has evolved into something uniquely Singapore from what the British left us. Once you understand the system, you will understand the pay hike..
about job security and declining wages as they open the floodgates to imported
labor drowning Singaporeans in the process. Maid? Singaporeans will never be
maids considering how some of us treat maids....we rather die than go there..."
Wednesday, April 04, 2007
Illegal to say the word 'bomb' twice at the Singapore Airport.
This is probably true. I wonder if our airport security officers are trained to pick up the word 'bomb' in other languages. What happens if I see a bomb lying around at the airport? If I report it to the airport security officials, they might detain me instead for saying the word 'bomb' to them, seeing how they behave, they will probably ask me to repeat it so that I break the law saying the word twice.
Are our security officers underpaid?
I can't help but think whether our security officers are underpaid.Imagine lives are at stake - yours and mine. The importance of security at the airport cannot be overemphasised. I want the smartest, most alert and specially groomed security officers to be there to catch cunning terrorists and safeguard my life. We must attract and retain the best people for this job and benchmark their salaries with the brightest people in the private sector otherwise we risk losing our lives to terrorists.
Imagine the pple who can't even understand the CONTEXT in which the woman uttered the word "BOMB". Do you trust them with your lives? What happens if smart terrorists try to bomb....are we to count on these pple to catch them?! Don't make me laugh.
Plse I want the best people to be there - graduates with Masters degree minimum. Make sure they are paid according to proper benchmarks so we can retain them against opportunities in the private sector - we wouldn't want our security personel to suffer a painful financial sacrifice while dedicating their efforts to protect our lives. It is a small price to pay for our lives to be protected - less than one candy bar per citizen per year.
A FAMILY HOLIDAY RUINED BY ILLOGICAL SECURITY OFFICERS
Dear Mr. Foo,
My name is Sandra Tan (I/C number xxxxxxxx). It is with great disappointment and distress that I am filing a complaint to you with regards to my situation.
My family (including myself, my husband, my daughter, and my son) planned a Darwin holiday for the March school vacation period and was supposed to depart on 09 March. Unfortunately, we were put in a situation by the security officers at the departure terminal, that was way beyond our control and we were not able to make our trip. The following is an account of what had happened :
- I entered the Immigration gantry at about 7.15pm with my daughter (Belle Lee, 13 yrs old) to have our passport scanned and our hand carry luggage checked whilst my husband (Lee Ming Chong) stayed behind with my son (Caius Lee, 8 yrs old) at the ticketing counter to sort out my son's visa. After having mine and my Belle's passport scanned, we proceed to the security gantry to have our hand luggage and our bodies scanned. Belle passed the security gantry first, whilst I followed right behind her. A lady officer asked me to remove my boots for scanning, and I did as told immediately and put my boots inside the basket provided, for it to be scanned together with my hand luggage. I then proceed to the metal detector of which I cleared without the gantry beeping or detecting any metal objects. I was then asked to collect my luggage and my boots. In the mean time, Belle was throwing away a sweet wrapper and retuning to me and saw me putting on my boots. Belle then asked casually "Mummy, why do you have to remove your shoes?" Whilst putting on my boots, I replied her and said that "they (the security officers) are afraid that we might keep bombs in our shoes (which is why I need to take it off to have it scanned)"
Immediately, a security officer standing at the conveyor belt (Stephen S Naidira) who was standing in front of me said with a very rude tone "repeat what you just said". I clarified with him what he meant - is it for me to repeat what I had told my daughter? He said loudly again, to repeat what I had just said. So I did exactly what he told me. I said to him that "my daughter asked me why I need to take off my shoes, and I told her that you guys (the security officers) are afraid that we will keep bombs in our shoes." He immediately asked me to stand aside and said that he had to report it to his superior that I said the word "bomb" twice. Then an Indian lady (Sivamalar) at the customs started hurling at me and my daughter and said that I said the word "bomb" twice and it is against the law and I can be sent to jail and they are calling the police. She (Sivamalar) was so loud and rude and she shoved us to the side, and refused to listen to my explanation. In fact, she got so aggressive that another officer Ricky Lim (I guess it's her supervisor) had to come forward to stop her from further attacking me and my daughter verbally, and specifically asked Sivamalar to "shut up". I told Ricky Lim that I would like to know the names of his staff because their attitude and rudeness were simply beyond any acceptable level. Immediately Sivamalar got so angry and aggressive that she started charging at Ricky Lim and hurled "What?! What?! What?! She (she meant me) said the word "Bomb" twice, so what is wrong with arresting her (which is me) and we were told that if we heard the word twice, we will arrest!!" At that time, Stephen S Naidira came to me again to intimidate me further by asking me to repeat what I said earlier to my daughter again. I refused to repeat again then because I believe he was deliberately asking me to repeat so that he can count the number of times that I mentioned the word "bomb". I also believe that that the officers were deliberately provoking me by being rude and intimidating, in the hope that I will retaliate in kind, thereby making their unreasonable actions justifiable.
Despite my anger and the fact that my daughter was scared to tears by the situation, I knew I had to keep my cool. I sat aside with my daughter taking down names of the personnel involved on my mobile phone. I was told to wait for another officer of a higher rank to decide on the matter, and I was still hoping whoever the higher ranked officer that was coming will have the logical thinking to acknowledge that what I had said to my daughter was a simple, harmless private conversation taken completely out-of-context. At about 7.30pm, the Sergeant-in- charge, Amran Buang came. After I explained the full context of the incident to him, he refused to make a decision and decided to escalate it further to the Auxilary Police and State Police. He said that the word "bomb" is very sensitive and I should not have mentioned it twice. I explained to him that I did not know saying the word "bomb" is against the law, and I further explained that I did not say the word "bomb" in a threatening context to the officer, the word "bomb" was taken completely out of context as part of an answer to my daughter's question. Despite my explanation, he said he cannot make the decision and my case has to be escalated to higher authorities.
Meanwhile, at about 7.40pm, my son's visa cleared and my husband and my son came in through the customs. After knowing what had happened, my husband tried to talk to Sergeant Amran Buang, further explaining to him that we are just a family going on holiday and what I have said to my daughter had been taken out of context. Again, no one was bothered to listen. And again, we were told to wait for another officer with an even higher ranking. With time ticking away and at 7.55pm with no sign of the higher authorities appearing, we knew then our hope of boarding our flight had diminished. Whilst waiting, Stephen S Naidira (the security officer) gathered with a few security officers at the side, including Sivamalar to discuss how they should present their statement to the police when they arrive later to make sure that they are adequately covered, and that they are just following the rule and doing what they were told to do. They said by insisting that they are taking actions "by-the-book" , they would be ok. I hope by now you have a clear picture of the situation.
My kids were both crying then, with more and more policemen arriving which scared the living daylights of them, and with no hope to continue our holiday plans. I believe every action inside the terminal is recorded and I would insist that your review the CCTV recordings on that night to know that I am only stating the truth without exaggeration. You can also see that during the entire episode, I was not at any point defiant or rude or refused any further check by the officers, despite the infuriating situation that me and my family were put through. I know it is important to stay vigilant to protect Singapore. I have young children, I know how important it is, which is why I complied without complaining when I had to remove my boots for scanning. However, here is an obvious case of the security officers trying to get away with their rudeness and aggressiveness by taking things way beyond what was necessary, in the name of following the security protocol. They were really angry when I asked for their names from Mr. Ricky Lim, and they knew very well then that they can abuse their power to make things very difficult for me and my family. At around 8.05pm, we were informed by the Tiger Airways personnel that the plane will have to depart and they will off-load our luggage from the plane. At around 8.10 p.m., the State Police and other policemen arrived to take our statement. In the entire episode, the State Police and the SWISS PORT personnel were the only ones who conducted themselves professionally and offered us consolation and meaningful advice. They have also at some stages expressed their personal views that they acknowledged this incident was gravely mis-handled on the part of the security officers. The State Police further confirmed that there is no case against us, and they would just need to complete the paperwork. The Budget Terminal manager came to meet me and said that whilst he empathized with our situation, it is an airport security protocol and frankly, it's "just too bad" that this happened to us.
My statement and my daughter's statement only completed at about 10.45p.m. The counter service staff, Ms Nur Aisah Bte Ali Hassan was very helpful and advised us on our next steps. She was kind enough to ask us to return the next day to change the traveling dates and advised the additional charges involved. I am not given a report for this case, but my case number with the State Police is P/20070309/0015. I was already told by the State Police that the case is closed without further action. For the ordeal that my family had been put through, I would want an official reply from CAAS and all relevant authorities addressing the following : - Whether the security officers were trained to handle passengers with such bad attitude and rudeness and if such actions by them are condoned by authorities. I would insist you to refer to the CCTV recordings during the period of the incident. What actions would be taken by CAAS and all relevant authorities with reference to both the security officers, Mr. Stephen S Naidira ad Ms. Sivamalar, for their unruly behavior and attitude? Surely, characters as such do not belong to a national airport that aspired to be a world class traveling hub.
What actions would be taken by CAAS and all relevant authorities with reference to Sergeant Amran Buang, who had the authority to end this episode promptly, but instead decided to prolong our ordeal for no justifiable cause? Is it a protocol that even after establishing the facts that we, as a family poses no security threat, there is still a need to escalate the matter to the authority and have the State Police and other policemen carry out a full investigations only to end up in vain? Why is it that even at level of Sergeant, whom I reckon is better educated, experienced, and able to make logical sense of the whole situation, refuse to make a simple decision and end our ordeal quickly? Is this a Singapore civil service practice where decision making is pushed and shoved from one level to another no matter how obvious what the final decision should be from the very beginning? Whether all the officers concern are properly trained and competent to handle such situation. Besides hardware ( i.e. the protocol book), are they taught to apply the software (i.e . common senses)? Is it really a protocol that as long as the word "bomb" is mentioned twice by a person (once being asked to repeat by the officer) ??then no matter what context, tone, situation and profile of the person who said it, it would not be taken into consideration? What if my daughter instead of asking me a simple question about my shoes, decided to say: "mummy, according to news report, there are speculations that the recent Indonesian air crash may be attributed to a bomb inside the plane." Would your security officer would come up to her and ask her to repeat one more time, and she would be put under arrest? Your staff kept telling me that saying the word "bomb" in the airport is illegal and I can go to jail. They quoted newspaper examples of how people have gone to jail because of that.
I think your staffs need to be trained to understand and differentiate situations and circumstances. As far as I knew, the people that went to jail had VERBALLY THREATENED staff members in the aviation service or had DELIBERATELY caused public alarm using sensitive words. My case was clearly none of the above. Even if, I am saying if, indeed its illegal to mention the word "bomb" in the airport no matter what context, the person involved need to be warned ahead of time. You cannot arrest a person for committing something illegal when the person has no idea that the word is illegal in the first place. Your staff could have given me a verbal warning to say that such sensitive words should be refrained in the airport and I would have walk away remembering the warning. But instead, they decide to let the matter escalate further. Who is to compensate for the expenses that are already incurred and forfeited for this trip, and our emotional stress and duress during the entire episode? The total cost incurred, including air tickets, accommodation, and land tours amount to about $4,200. We had to put up with hours of humiliation with more than twenty policemen and officials surrounding us, questioning us, checking our luggage through and through. We had put up with never-ending questioning from different departments, and best of all, repeated checks on my same pair of boots.
My kids were terrified, puzzled, disappointed and exhausted from this entire ordeal. My husband and I are left with one week of applied leave and no vacation and holiday to look forward to. I would like to state that not everyone that we came across in this episode had been unpleasant. I wish to take this opportunity to express my gratitude for the empathy shown by the State Police and the SWISS PORT personnel. I will be waiting for your reply. Please let me know when to expect it in email. In the mean time, I may seek legal advice for my rights and entitlement in this incident.
Yours sincerely Sandra Tan xxxxxx I/C : Sxxxxxx
Blk xxx, Tampines Ave. 5
#xx-xx, Singapore xxxxx
Mobile : xxxxx