Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Mas Selamat has COMPLETELY disappeared!!!!

Yes, he disappeared from Whitley Road Detention Center but it seems he has also disappeared from the main stream media. Yesterday, I scanned the Business Times, Straits Times, Today and The New Paper .....none of the newspapers had any mention of Mas Selamat. Mas Selamat has decided to move on from our newspapers.....

While scanning the papers, I found an article about a certain Mr. Lam in The New Paper Mr. Lam is a sub-constractor who was hired to take down abestos from the roof of a factory. His workers were provided with safety helmets, safety goggles, gloves, safety harnesses and belts. He was not present at the worksite but had a supervisor to oversee the work done by the workers. Unfortunately, one of the workers stepped on a plastic sheet on the roof that couldn't take his weight and fell to his death.

'I was not around the work site, but my foreman said that the worker was feeling dizzy. He was walking backwards when he fell off the roof.'
But, he admitted, that as the boss of the company, he is responsible for the safety of his workers
Hey this guy wasn't at the worksite, he had a foreman who was suppose to ensure that procedures are followed and a worker who reported for work sick and he couldn't possibly have known about it. He could have easily blame people down the line for this mishap...yet he was silly enough to accept the blame for the worker's death. He wasn't even paid much to accept this responsibility - "Lam's annual income, according to his tax returns, was a little over $43,000. Last year, it was $51,000". This guy certainly has alot to learn about good leadership.
Anyway although Mas Selamat is still missing, we should all start moving on. Our govt believes he is still on our island and not somewhere else. Mas Selamat must like our shopping, food and weather alot because it is already 2 months and he has not attempted to relocate to another country. In a few months, the posters will be taken down from the buses, the search will be called off and Mas Selamat will turn into a Singapore mystery - like those McDonald's boys who disappeared mysteriously in 1986.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Please lets MOVE ON...

Is the decision to raise their pay to the highest in the world, coming back to haunt them? When the pay hike was debated, they said our leaders are super-competent and super-deserving of record shattering pay. With high pay comes, high responsibility and accountability,...... so that is what most ordinary Singaporeans think. However, the COI reported how the simplest things like toilet doors, toilet grilles, fences, CCTVs can actually go very wrong. ....and when things go wrong the lowly paid people down the line are made to shoulder the responsibility not the people who are making millions.

I will explain to you why the above train of thought is wrong .....I'll gather my thoughts and post about this tomorrow. In the meantime, I leave with an article from Seah Chiang Nee.....a man who literally had a change of heart.

I'm back..... I'll tell why it is not the pay that is the issue.

Over the years the PAP pursued its opponents with vigor - some were detained for decades for what they said were wrongful thoughts, others were bankrupted for just uttering wrongful things. They pursued these people with great persistence - lives were destroyed and many humiliated without a chance to preserve their dignity. But if you look at the sum total of what these people were supposed to have done to Singapore it is nowhere near the damage caused by the escape of a dangerous terrorist who is now still running loose.....Here is the extraordinary govt now saying they are not to be blamed, they will not "appease the public" by asking one of its own to step down.

I urge Singaporeans especially opposition members and supporters to find it in their heart to let this matter rest and move on for you should not show the same vindictiveness as men you do not like. If Mas Selamat does nothing, all this will be forgotten in a few months. As the price of rice rises by 50% in 2 months, the combination of transport hikes, utilities hikes, kindergarden fee hikes (yes, you would know if you have kids), ERP hikes and taxi fare hikes will leave Singaporeans with pain in their pocketbooks and that is the type of pain they will remember for a long time. SM Goh is right to say it is time to move on to other issues...issues that mean something the ordinary folks.
Electoral tidal wave forming

The saga of Mas Selamat Kastari’s escape from detention has moved beyond security concerns to doubts on accountability.

WHEN Singapore’s terrorist leader Mas Selamat Kastari escaped from high-security detention two months ago, he could not possibly have foreseen the political repercussion that he was leaving behind.

It has given Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong his worst political headache since he took office nearly four years ago.

The saga of the Jemaah Islamiah leader’s escape from the Whitley Detention Centre has moved beyond security concerns and the negative international image.

It has raised doubts on government accountability in Singapore and revisited the unpopular issue of high Cabinet pay by raising questions like:

> How damaging to the nation must a government mistake be before a Cabinet minister – who is paid more than the US president – is held responsible?

> Must punishment, however serious the mistake, be applicable only to the civil servants or the foot soldiers, but not to the political leader who is responsible for overall planning?

This dilemma began with a government-appointed committee report revealing a list of incredible bungles and neglect by the Home Affairs Ministry, which is in overall charge of the centre.

A “confluence of factors” or “lapses” is how the report calls the mistakes that allowed Mas Selamat to climb out of a toilet window and flee in his underwear. Two months later, he’s still at large.

Mas Selamat is no ordinary criminal, but leader of a terror network who was trained in Afghanistan. He had plotted to crash a commercial plane into Changi Airport as well as blow up foreign embassies.

Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew has said that if Mas Kastari succeeds in fleeing to Indonesia, he may return to carry out his bombing threats.

And the Whitley Detention Centre is a tiny version of America’s Guantanamo, which houses all the terrorist suspects in Singapore.

His escape presented Prime Minister Lee with a tough choice: either ditch the minister responsible, as widely demanded by the public, or defend him.

He chose to support a party colleague, who is also Deputy Prime Minister, and go against public opinion.

Lee stated that ministers should not be automatically removed for lapses down the line. This came as a surprise to a generation of Singaporeans raised under his father’s strict governance.

He said his government would not encourage a culture where ministers resign whenever things go wrong on their watch, whether or not they are actually to blame.

By downgrading ministerial responsibility, he may have established a new principle of governance for Singapore that differs from other countries.

Many nations in Europe and Asia (from Britain to Japan and South Korea) hold their leaders or Cabinet ministers liable for a major blunder, either by sacking or allowing them to resign.

The response of Singaporeans over the Internet has predictably been very negative, with some accusing him of double standards – one rule for ministers and another for the civil service.

An online poll on whether Home Affairs Minister Wong Kan Seng should be sacked showed a 94% “yes” vote, with only 6% disagreeing.

But Lee was adamant. “That would be the easy way out. It may temporarily appease an angry public, but it will not fundamentally solve the problem,” he said.

The result has been a transfer of some of the political heat from the Home Affairs Minister to the Prime Minister.

The critics complain that since ministers are paid super-high wages pegged to the top private sector, Lee should also hold them to the same standards of accountability.

Said Workers’ Party chief Low Thia Khiang: “In the corporate world, when something goes wrong, heads that roll would include the CEO’s. Here, when something goes wrong, we talk about honest mistakes.”

Even government backbencher Inderjit Singh (Ang Mo Kio) drew the same conclusion.

“We have adopted a reward system that matches that of the private sector, that we pay everyone as high as possible,” he said. “Therefore, people expect that when you make a mistake, you will be appropriately punished.”

The pressure for accountability is so strong and widespread that some observers believe that Lee’s defence of Wong will not stand beyond the next election in three years’ time.

“In a one-man-one-vote system, no prime minister is silly enough to stand in front of a tidal electoral wave,” said a newspaper reporter. “Wong is a big political liability and will have to go.”

Some observers believe this will happen after a decent interval, with Wong being transferred out of Home Affairs before 2011.

In a Cabinet reshuffle on March 29, a month after Mas Selamat’s escape, Lee appointed K. Shanmugam as Law Minister – as well as Second Minister for Home Affairs.

This is seen as preparation for Wong’s eventual replacement in case Lee decides to make the change.

While public criticism rages on over the websites, newspapers’ letters pages remain largely silent.

“Singaporeans with half a brain will know it is less about being different from other countries, but more about protecting their own kind – the tight-knit network of elites who run this country,” Gerald Giam wrote in his blog.

Kelvin Tong added: “In my view, PM Lee failed to see one point: Singapore ministers are the highest paid in the world. Logically speaking, the echelon of accountability has to be higher in tandem, no?”

Robert Teh wrote: “This is truly the world’s best leadership – just watch the charisma of a leader explaining all the faults in his prison windows as caused by other junior officers, not his own ministry.”

Chua Lee Hoong moves Singapoore on...

Wow. Here's a great article by Chua Lee Hoong. She is almost as good as her sister Chua Mui Hoong but nobody can be as good as my favorite journalist Chua Mui Hoong not even her own sister.

The article blasted netizens for calling for DPM Wong's resignation and she believes they have not read the full account given by WKS and "feeding on each other's vitriol and try to outdo themselves calling for punishment. According to Chua, there is "no sense of perspective" to think that an escape of a detainee is sufficient to throw the govt into a flux by sacking a minister. Yalor, it is just a terrorist whose mission in life is to crash a plane full of Singaporeans - what is the big deal?

Yes, netizens are so irrational, unreasonable, emotional, bloodthirsty and "have no sense of perspective". wonder Chua is so angry with them. I strongly suggest you read her article is apparent that she too is blessed with the wisdom of her elder sister. I wonder if the netizens she refers to include that vicious Dr. Catherine Lim who posted an article asking for WKS to resign.

Yesterday I had the great misfortune of sitting with a group of Singaporeans during lunch who also wanted WKS to resign. It was me against 5 angry people and boy were they angry. They were probably the same type of people Chua wrote about in her article - people who "lacked perspective", and were emotional. I lost my appetite quarrelling with these people. They were putting forth all sorts of arguments that didn't make sense like "leaders must always take responsibility when something this serious happens". I tried my best to convince them that WKS should not resign but we all ended our lunch angry and disappointed with each other. I couldn't for the hell of it figure out these people who were my friends and normally mild mannered can be so emotional about this issue. I went home to think about it and I believe I have the answer......
Ordinary Singaporeans are starting to judge their leaders by the same standards that they themselves are judged. In the private sector, if you screw (oops mind the language) up a project and a serious overrun resulted, you will be sacked or asked to resign. It doesn't matter if it is due to a sub-contractor not being able to deliver or an equipment from a vendor that did not meet specifications or unexpected events. You're are the leader, you are made to take responsibility no matter what....there is no way to push the blame down the line. If you look at the subprime crisis, many bank CEOs resigned and took responsibility - they are responsibility for the bottomline of the company and if it is no good, they have to accept their responsibility. You don't see them trying to blame the their analyst or department heads of the bond department or the rating agencies who "misrated" the subprime bonds. They can easily point their fingers elsewhere but they don't because they are paid to shoulder the responsibility - when things go wrong, they don't form a board of inquiry to pin (point) the blame to someone below them.
In a country where elderly cleaners lose their jobs simply because younger cheaper workers from China are hired, people somehow don't take too kindly to leaders keeping theirs when serious mistakes occur especially when they are paid millions. It is so unfair and unreasonable that ordinary Singaporeans expect their leaders to be treated the same way they are treated and for their leaders to be judged the same way they are judged.

You must understand that our leaders are rare talents that are found after an extensive search. They are our nation's treasures because without them our nation will sink. You cannot expect them to be as easily replaced as ordinary Singaporeans. We as ordinary citizens should learn to appreciate that our leaders more and be grateful for their willingness to lead us. I hope Singaporeans don't let their leaders down because if things don't work out, it is likely that the ordinary citizens down the line did not work hard enough to achieve the success our leaders deserve.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Good Leadership, High Principles, ...and High Pay...

Our leadership is a responsible one, they demand everyone to be responsible for their actions. Lets see what was said during Gomez-gate when CCTVs were working well to catch wily opposition figures in their devious acts. Of course, when it comes to the opposition, we cannot "just move on so easily". The opposition did not lose a terrorist, the lost something worse - a piece of paper and they were called to answer for it.

"To decide whether this was an innocent mistake, Singaporeans must know the answers to these questions. In the interests of transparency and accountability that Mr Low upholds, he must share with Singaporeans the answers that he received from Mr Gomez" - Wong Kan Seng, May 2006

"I think it has been settled. We came out clean and we made it clear. James has sincerely apologised for causing this distress to the Elections Department. I think we are fair people, we are not someone who is trying to make things difficult. It's an unfortunate misunderstanding, it’s an incident and we are open about it" - Mr Low Thia Kiang

"This would have undermined public confidence in the integrity of our elections system and done serious damage to the reputation of Singapore" - Wong Kan Seng on 2 May 2006

"Low cannot brush aside this episode and say just move on. This is a serious matter. It cannot rest here" - Wong Kan Seng 2nd May 2006.

"'So let us close ranks to deal with this, and bounce back to move forward" - PM Lee, 10 Mar 2008
Statement by Wong Kan Seng on James Gomez

PAP wants more answers from James Gomez on minorities certificate saga

The People's Action Party (PAP) leadership has questioned the integrity of James Gomez, the Workers' Party (WP) candidate for Aljunied Group Representation Constituency (GRC).
This comes a day after he reversed his earlier claim that he had submitted an application to the Elections Department for a minorities candidate certificate when - in fact - he did not.
The PAP leaders say the behaviour exhibited by Mr Gomez at the Elections Department and in his apology statement, may not be acceptable for a person aspiring to be a Member of Parliament.

For the WP's Secretary-General Mr Low Thia Khiang, the matter surrounding his party's candidate was being made into a mountain out of a molehill by the PAP.
But for the PAP, the issue was about accountability, the same quality which Mr Low wants to uphold for his party and candidates.
Defence Minister Teo Chee Hean said, "This is a very important issue, because the Elections Department is part of the government. An election process must never be questioned by anybody, so if there is any doubt, we have to take it seriously, otherwise we'll be alleged as playing around with the process.
"It is not making a mountain out of a molehill. It's a very important question of integrity. That's the difference between the PAP and the other parties."
Reading from a prepared statement on Saturday, Mr Gomez confirmed he did not submit any application for a minority certificate on April 24.
According to him, there had been "too much distraction caused by the busy schedule leading up to Nomination Day".
During his statement, Mr Gomez said, "Please accept my sincere apologies if my actions on 26 April 2006 caused any distress or confusion to the staff or the Elections Department."
But, according to the PAP, the episode has raised further questions about the ability of Mr Gomez to perform as a Member of Parliament, as his answers so far have been found to be wanting.
Mr Teo said, "If he did get distracted and so forth, and that's the reason that he has put forward, then you really wonder if he will be distracted by other things in the performance of his MP duties if he was elected."
George Yeo, PAP Candidate, Aljunied GRC, said, "When an important issue like this comes up, you should not be thinking about winning or losing. You should be thinking about doing the right thing and setting a good example.
"Can you you imagine if you have a Member of Parliament who does this and who threatens a civil servant with dire consequences when he knew he did not submit his form, getting the civil servant into trouble and affecting his family - imagine if you have an MP like that in parliament? I don't think it's a matter of winning or losing. It's a matter of principle...right and wrong.
"Workers' Party said it was an oversight, we are making a mountain out of a molehill and it was an honest mistake - let us look at it. If you go to a department store supermarket, take a big item put it into your bag is that an oversight? Is that an honest mistake? I am not sure."
The saga began on April 26 when Mr Gomez turned up at the Elections Department to claim his minorities candidate certificate.
He was told there was no record of him ever submitting an application for one.
After he insisted he did two days before, he also warned an Elections Department official of the "consequences".
Later the same day, he was informed by telephone that footage from a security camera showed that he had put his application form in his bag and left the department afterwards without submitting.
On hearing this, Mr Gomez abandoned his earlier claim, saying there was "no problem".
Senior Minister Goh Chok Tong said that after the apology, it is time to look at the bigger issues of the election.
He said, As of now, James Gomez has shown weak links in the Workers' Party chain, so there could be other weak links later on.
"But I would say, he having apologised, we should move on and deal with the bigger issues...That's my own take of the situation."
So the ball is now once again the WP's court and it is left to be seen if the WP's top leadership will live up to the standards of accountability that it claims to have set for itself. - CNA/ms

Leadership, Accountability and Responsibility....

“Public officers, including Ministers, should not be automatically removed or punished just because a lapse has occurred down the line” - PM Lee

"How come the lowly paid people down the line are blamed all the time?" - Lucky Tan

I once had a long chat with an auditor whose full time job was to conduct audits and investigations for companies. He said his job is "very simple" - when something goes wrong in an organization, you look at 3 things 1. People 2. Processes 3. Checks. People down the line are to follow the processes (procedures) if they are in place. The processes have to be correct in the first place and the people higher up are responsible for approving the processes and making sure the people are trained properly to follow them. Then the management has to ensure there are regular checks to make sure important procedures are followed. When something goes wrong, you just look at which of the 3 things are missing and you will know whose fault it is. The person down the line is blamed only if processes(2) & checks(3) are firmly in place. Otherwise, the higher management has to take responsibility. Would you trust a old night watchman who is paid $600 per month to guard your $10M company secrets? ...Then blame him when your company is burglarized because he has no idea what to do, what to check and has a tendency to doze off.....

Lets look at the People, Processes, Checks of Whitley Road Detention Centre to account for Mas Selamat's escape:

1. People. Did the people follow procedure? No. The Gurkha guards did not follow the SOP (Standard Operating Procedure) exactly and allowed Mas Selamat to close the toilet door. However, it was reported in the COI, that the guards were rotated often and other sets of guards also allowed Mas Selamat to close the door of the urinal. Mas Selamat was one smart terrorist - he was testing the guards and all of them failed to follow the SOP. In fact, he exploited common human weaknesses that was present in different sets of guards. The guards on that faithful day were not particularly incompetent they were just as bad as the rest.

2. Processes. Were proper procedures in place and were the people sufficiently well trained to follow them? Yes, there were Standard Operating Procedures in place however, the guards who were supposed to be properly trained did not follow them. In fact many of the guards did not follow the procedures exactly not just those who were guarding Mas Selamat that day. According to a report by an ex-detainee, they used to be strictly followed. What happened? We have the same Gurkha guards but standards have fallen. Who supervises their training? Were they trained the same way in the past and turned out different? In the past we used to have many dangerous political deviants, I'm sure they are more dangerous than terrorists but that is no excuse for standards to drop.

3. Checks. I think DPM explained this part better than anyone can:

"From now on, they will make sure that they will conduct such tests and exercises." - DPM Wong.
(The detention centre)should have done regular audits this was not done in the regular way"-DPM Wong

For a maximum security facility, there were relatively few checks in place. There were no grille, no working CCTV, high walls/fences that can be climbed and not much checking and audits to ensure the security of the facility.

At the end of the day, only the guards are responsible for the whole sorry episode and they are the only ones punished. I suggest the guards be paid the salary of the director of ISD because they seem to be carrying alot of responsibilities. They are suppose to train themselves, check themselves and risk their lives to go after Mas Selamat and the people higher up have no responsibility.

It is so unfair for Singaporeans to ask our DPM Wong to take responsibility for Mas Selamat escape and resign. If you look at the 3 things I mentioned, he is responsible for none of them. The guards who have been replaced are the ones responsible and are accountable for the lapses. It reflects the leadership of this country where we have leaders that are too good for the ordinary people. Singaporeans are so lucky to have such great leadership and everything has to be done to preserve them because men with their talents are so rare and difficult to find. Ordinary citizens are like the guards in Mas Selamat's escape you're expendable and can easily be replaced by imported labor. If you end up working as a elderly cleaner, it is your own fault that you did not save enough to retire after working your whole life.

Our great govt is responsible for all the success that this nation has seen. Yes, if the Singapore does not achieve its full glory, it is the ordinary citizens down the line that didn't work hard enough.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Why Minister Wong Kan Seng should not resign!

I keep hearing people asking DPM Wong to resign. This is SO ABSURD. Do you expect the CEO of a company to resign because the night watchman fell asleep at his job and allowed the warehouse to be burglarized? Of course not! If you do that you're going to lose of great talents in govt such as DPM Wong KS. DPM shouldn't be blame for Mas Selamat's escape, if you think hard about it he is totally blameless. Here's why:

1. WKS probably did his work and visited the Whitley Detention Center and that infamous toilet. You really have to forgive him if he thought the ventilation window is too high to climb out. ....and those high fences and high walls really looked very high to him.

2. Can someone tell me how the DPM of Singapore is suppose to ensure that those Gurkha guards do their job and make sure the Mas Selamat kept the toilet door open when he pees. you actually expect DPM Wong to be present every time Mas Selamat needs to go to the toilet?

3. Some people say WKS should have put our terrorists in a more secure place instead of the Whitley Detention Center. My reply to them is this : Whitley held some of the most dangerous people our society has ever produced - Francis Seow, Chia Thye Poh, Marxist Conspirators and none of them were able to escape. Like what the MM said, Mas is an escape artist. Among his many talents - crashing planes, bombing buses, master of disguise...Mas is an escape artist...his is also good at disappearing acts - 53 days and still no sight of him.

Mas Selamat seems to have vanished into thin air. According to the findings of COI, he dropped his pants and ran into the forest. Combine that with the insistence that he is still in Singapore. How does a half naked man disappear completely in urban Singapore? This has caused people to speculate that he did not escape but died under custody.....the escape is just an elaborate hoax to cover up his death.

Mr Low Thia Khiang asked subsequently, “Is this episode also the result of the complacency of his ministry in failing to supervise the agencies under his charge? Is the DPM aware that there is speculation that Mas Selamat died inside WRDC?”

DPM Wong answered, “May I ask Mr Low whether he believes that indeed Mas Selamat has died?”

Mr Low said, “No, I don’t.”

Let me dispel all these rumors:

1. If Mas Selamat died in WRDC, wouldn't that be a cause for celebration? The death of our most dangerous terrorist, who wanted to crash a plane to kill innocent civilians cannot be a bad thing. Why would the govt ever want to cover up his death.

2. According to rumors, he died long before 27 February and only when his family wanted to visit him on 27 Feb did the "people in charge" activated this elaborate hoax to explain his "inability to show up". His escape coincided with his family visit because the toilet from which he could escape from is located at the wing for visitors - if his family didn't visit, he wouldn't be able to escape.

3. Why was there no CCTV footage of his escape? CCTVs failed to capture his escape because they were being upgraded to "motion sensor type". My question is how did such an evil man get so lucky?...Where was God that day?

My own conspiracy theory which can never be proven false is this : Mas Selamat was reformed by months of rehabilitation and had turned over a new leaf. He offered to go back to Indonesia to help locate his former JI buddies for our intelligence unit. To make sure that they don't suspect he now a mole, the escape was staged. That is why the director of the WRDC received no blame for his escape. The only problem is a govt of such great efficiency and competence as the PAP may find it hard to convince the population that it has made a mistake. That is why all the blame was pinned on the Gurkha guards and the govt is totally blameless in this whole episode. It was also necessary to use this escape to remind Singaporeans not to be complacent and think they can actually survive without the PAP. I challenge anyone to try to prove my theory false. This theory definitely fits in better that the "Mas Selamat is already dead" theory. DPM Wong should not resign, he should be promoted for masterminding this great plan to flush out the entire JI network using Mas Selamat. My theory is the only one that can explain why nobody in govt is blamed for this escape.

Mas Selamat : 3 Steps to Freedom....

How did Mas Selamat escape?...Easy as 1-2-3 (taken from ChannelNewsAsia):

1. First, there was a physical security breach as the ventilation window in the toilet – from which Mas Selamat made his escape – did not have grilles.

2. Second, the guards watching Mas Selamat allowed him to close the door of the urinal cubicle when they should not have done so.

3. Third, there was a physical weakness in the perimeter fencing outside the Family Visitation Block, where the toilet was located, which made it easier for Mas Selamat to get out of the detention centre's premises.
Shame on you conspiracy theorists - Mas Selamat did not die, Mas Selamat did not have insider help, Mas Selamat did not go through the toilet bowl. He simply climb out of the toilet window and jumped over the fence. That's it! Nothing to it - simple....THE END...THAT'S ALL FOLKS.... but if you want to hear my thoughts on terrorism - here they are.
Let me now tell you why Mas Selamat is a potent dangerous terrorist that can cause much harm to our society. He is potent because he acted on his misguided beliefs and he did it with conviction. He is dangerous because he will not let anything stop him - not the law and not the authority. While his beliefs are wrong and despicable, he does not lack the courage to perform his cowardly act of killing innocent civilians. He is a real danger to our society....our way of life.....
"....let's remember, those charged with protecting us from attack have to succeed 100 percent of the time. To inflict devastation on a massive scale, the terrorists only have to succeed once, and we know they are trying every day. " - Condelezza Rice
During one of my business trips a few weeks ago, I realised that the country I was headed was having cold spell. After I checked in my lugguage, I went for a walk in the supermarket, I saw a can of soup and had this vision of drinking hot soup in my hotel room. The airport security found the can in my carry-on lugguage, they shook it ..."Sorry sir no liquid allowed". My soup ended up in a big bin along with the people who brought scissors, pen knives etc. My shoes had to be checked, my belt, my jacket etc. All this done to ensure that I have a safe flight - but the whole process is a reminder that there are evil men trying to kill me.
Many months ago, I wanted to post a letter so I went to the mailbox at the bus interchange I've going to for a decade. I found out it had disappeared. So I went to the next nearest one at the MRT station, that too had disappeared. I spoke to the staff at the MRT Station Control and they told me it was moved to a less crowded part of the station. The reason why it was moved it was probably they fear terrorists will put an timed explosive in it to kill commuters during the rush hour. Before you board the train these days, you're shown a video telling you to be suspicious of bags left unattended in the train - the terrorists might try to leave explosives. But what about suicide bombers? Shouldn't we scan every passenger before they board the MRT train or buses like they do before they board the plane? What is worse is our trains and buses are so packed in the morning, the casualty rate would be extremely high if a suicide bomber ever succeeds. Shouldn't they increase the frequency so that buses and trains are not
packed like sardines for our safety? Why move the dustbin, and then pack our MRTs like sardines creating a vulnerability? What about dustbins in shopping centers?
Like Mas Selamat, other terrorists too are smart. We cannot assume that they are stupid. They need only one chance to succeed and what they do is look for loopholes in your system. Even in cities like London, where terrorist acts were committed previously and people are generally vigilant, the terrorists were able to carry out a series of bus bombings. When it comes to terrorism, you're only as good as your greatest vulnerability.
Our greatest vulnerability is the crowded buses and MRT trains during the morning rush hour. There is no point having spending so much money on security everywhere else and then doing nothing about this. We might as well save the money and do nothing because like Mas Selamat, terrorists will not be so stupid to target places you have already secured.
The way I see it, it is a matter of security to have buses and trains run more frequently so that they are not packed like sardine cans. When it comes to national security, we know that the odds of a large scale war is negligible in today's world and while terrorism is a real threat...and we have one Mas Selamat running loose and is evil enough to do almost anything. Our govt is one that allocates its spending on security wisely, and it is wise to not have public transport resemble sardine cans and targets for evil men like Mas Selamat. If the govt wants to know where to spend its money, it is here and not on fancy equipment that will never seen any real use.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Mas Selamat : Monday is the moment of TRUTH!!!

On Monday, DPM Wong KS will go before parliament to explain how Mas Selamat escaped. The whole nation is waiting for the mystery of his escape to be revealed. I've reproduced a map of the Whitley Detention Center (see above layout) so that everyone can better appreciate our DPM's explanation of what happened.
Leading up to Monday, Straits Times published a number of articles to highlight the important role that ISD plays to ensure the security of Singapore : Don't over look the outstanding work of Security Agencies and ISD deals with many terror threats not just JI . We should all be thankful to Straits Times for reminding us of the importance of ISD and the important role it plays in our harmonious society. Because the ISD exists, we can all sleep soundly at night as long as we're not seen as enemies of the state. ISD's past triumphs more than make up for its single lapse. It has rescued Singapore from harm many times in the past and will continue to protect us in the future.
To appreciate the ISD one must understand the key unique feature of the ISA which is detention without trial. One of the most notable success was the detention of 22 people who were part of a Marxist Conspiracy that threatened to destabilise Singapore in 1987. I was very young then and the actions of the ISD left me with a deep impression of their role in the stability our society. Without them Singapore would have fallen apart. The Marxist conspirators if not detained without trial would have resorted to violence and undermined the stability of our nation. Although not a single one of the 22 Marxist conspirators had ever been involve in any form of violence, there was no room for complacency. They were brought on TV to confess their evil intent after their detention. Although many revoked their confession shortly after, the ISD rearrested them for further rehabilition and most were eventually cured of their violent nature after the second detention. ISD should now consider the arrest of some members of our opposition who are starting to resort to militant tactics like locking the arms together during protests and biting the police when arrested.
The other notable detainee was Mr. Chia Thye Poh who was a dangerous communist out to destabilise Singapore - it took more than 23 years to rehabilitate this dangerous former physics teacher before his release in 1998. The case provides strong evidence that the ISD empowered by ISA exercises its power judiciously.
These days many Singaporeans travel and stay overseas for work or studies. Many go to countries without the equivalent ISD/ISA and do not allow detention without trial. I'm sure Singaporeans overseas feel very unsafe in those countries - I find it difficult to sleep well at night when I'm overseas and don't have the ISD to protect me. That is why DPM Jaya's reminder that the ISD has done outstanding work is timely given the escape of Mas Selamat. It is necessary to retain the ISD/ISA so that we can be sure the next "Chia Thye Poh" or Marxist conspirators are quickly detained without trial.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

PM Lee : Finding Leaders, rating the Opposition.

Here's an excellent article that appeared in Monday's Today : PM Lee on Internet Lessons by Loh Chee Kong. Loh Chee Kong is this year's Young Journalist of the Year and represents the best in Singapore journalism. Here's PM Lee's take on the opposition in that article:Unlike our world class govt the standard of the Singapore Opposition leaves much to be desired. "Mr. Chiam speaks much less nowadays" (maybe because he is lying in hospital due to a severe stroke). Mr Low is only good at "nitpicking" - the last time he "nitpicked" about how billions of CPF money is handled and how it is moved to GIC for investments and why those returns are not given back to CPF account holders. That is really too much nitpicking for our esteemed govt to tolerate. As for Sylvia Lim, "her speeches are rather cautious and reserved" - her last speech on why top judges should not be nominated by the PM resulted in her being called a "conspiracy theorist" by our Law Minister - if she is not cautious she would be fined for abusing her parliamentary privileges like her predecessor JBJ. Of course, her speeches cannot be intellectually stimulating and thought provoking like those given by PM Lee himself....I'm sure PM Lee is definitely not so overly cautious like Sylvia especially that time when he put "hum into mee siam" or the other time when he said he needed to "fix the opposition" and buy his supporters.
Overall I give the Opposition an "F" for the terrible performance. It is their fault that Mas Selamat has escaped from the detention center because they failed to warn the police about the security flaws when they were detained there. Our govt has also put the blame on the citizens for being complacent, and the guards for being negligent - the only people who are blameless in the Mas Selamat escape is the govt itself. For that they deserve an "A" for fulfilling their responsibility towards the people.
I've told you guys many times that there is no such thing as "good Opposition" in Singapore they are either breaking our illegal assembly laws like the Chees or under performing in parliament. The PAP has reported that it has shortlisted 100 people to be the "next generation leaders". Like our current PM, good leaders are very hard to find and require extensive searches, and it takes alot of persuasion to get them to agree to become MPs after they are selected. After they are selected, they are bundled into GRCs so they will get into parliament even though the voters don't really know them that well - they don't have to worry because the PAP has already selected them for us. I urge my fellow Singaporeans to be more careful during the next elections and avoid emotive opposition rallies that can deceive you into voting for people without the right credentials instead of the PAP candidates who understand that guarding the people's interest is not as simple as guarding the people's interest - policy making is about many tradeoffs that the PAP govt has created - from they many GICs, the deserving power elites and maintaining the status quo, what is good for the people becomes an ambiguity - these days we are not even sure who "the people" are given our nation has been corporatised and transformed into a business entity. It is more important than ever before to find the people with the appropriate motivation to serve. Contrast that with the thinking of the Opposition especially the Chees who think that the best way to safeguard the interests of Singapore citizens is to empower them with the right to speak up, protest and with transparent govt to arm them will all the information needed to question the govt. That is all hogwash because we the people know what we are incapable of .....and our govt has frequently told us so....leave everything to the PAP, don't question them for we have no intellectual capacity to understand what our great govt does let alone question them. Our PM Lee said and you should trust him:
"While the Government has been increasing efforts to explain its policies to Singaporeans........In fact, if we test people’s understanding of policies, I think even news workers and PAP MPs might not pass.” - PM Lee
I hope the govt can help us find the "next generation leaders" who can understand govt policies and represent us in parliament. There is no place for the opposition because if PAP MPs cannot understand the PAP govt's policies what can the opposition do for the people. We the people should learn to trust our govt fully to serve us well. The opposition MPs have accomplished nothing when they urged the govt not to raise the GST because they did not understand why the GST hike is needed. They accomplished nothing when they asked the govt to do more for the poor because only the PAP govt understands why it is necessary to have poor people in Singapore. The opposition accomplished nothing when they demanded that the people be given more affordable housing because only the PAP understands why the people shouldn't be given too much "market subsidy". Only the PAP understands the system it created, only the PAP can find the right leaders for Singapore and the people should only vote for the PAP.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Singapore - Rising Opulence, Rising Poverty....

"This is one of the worst failures of the modern People’s Action Party, despite its ‘democratic socialism’ principles." - Seah Chiang Nee
"Sorry, Mr. Seah, the PAP has not failed, it is extremely successful. They have successfully abandoned their 'democratic socialism' to create the most intensely competitive capitalistic society on this planet for ordinary citizens. Everyone competes, except the PAP who gets rid of its own competition while subjecting its ordinary citizens to unbridled imported global competition" - Lucky Tan
During the 2006 General Elections the PAP promised to tackle the widening income gap. Like all PAP promises, it was faithfully kept. They found that the income gap between the PAP leaders and top earners of the private sector had widened and proceeded to close it with one of the largest pay hikes for ministers in history. Once again, the PAP has kept its promise.
When it comes to the income gap, few countries can beat Singapore. The PAP's achievement of a GINI index of 47.2 is higher than China and far exceed other affluent nations in Asia such as Korea(31), Japan(24) and Taiwan(32). How did the PAP achieve such high score for income inequality?
1. No minimum wages. See there is no maximum wage for our ministers so why should there be a minimum wage for our cleaners and laborers? The PAP has to be fair to everyone.
2. Imported Labor. The wages of coffee shop helpers have fallen to $600 per month. The reason is simple, there are mainland Chinese willing to work for that wage so why pay Singaporeans more. See the PAP is perpetually worried that if we don't import labor, jobs will go overseas. It is unclear how the jobs of coffeeshop helpers can actually be moved overseas. Businesses say that they are unable to get workers, that is why they want to hire imported labor - I wonder if they have tried paying more to get workers?
3. Welfare is a dirty word. Over the years, countries like Hong Kong, Taiwan, Japan have put in place a social safety net as Singapore cuts subsidies in all areas and raised the cost of transport, utilities, etc sharply. Instead of spending money on the citizens, the PAP has found better ways to spend tax payers' money like investing in trouble banks - losing a few billion here and few billion there. This is the PAP way of serving the people instead of spoiling them by alleviating their burden, they should be motivated to work harder and longer.
4. Structural Unemployment. The PAP govt has explained that it is due to ageism - employers are prejudice against older workers causing them to be unemployed and forced to take up lower paying jobs. Blame ageism....and not the hundreds of thousands of imported labor that changed the demographics of our workforce. In the past during good times, the labor market will become a bit tighter and employers are more willing to hire older workers, now with the floodgates opened for foreign workers, there is really no need to give a 40 year old a chance. The PAP is so righteous to blame the employers instead of their own policies, we can be sure they are sincere in their efforts to help older workers.
The success of the PAP govt leaves the other Asian govts in dust. Their singlemindedness in keeping the GDP growing at all cost and determination to strengthen the work ethics of the ordinary citizens have made this govt an extraordinary one. One that can afford to spend billions on regional telcos and trouble banks as the country's poor find it diffiicult to pay for electricity and a large number of the elderly clean the toilets of our marvelous shopping malls to make ends meet.
The different faces of Singapore

Link :

The top 10% of the population are the rich, who live in wealthy districts, while the bottom 20% are the languishers who have difficulty coping with a high cost structured life. The third is the large middle class.
A SINGAPOREAN couple walked into a Lamborghini showroom and bought two units – his and hers – for US$650,000 (RM2.04mil) each.
“It’s amazing; young kids coming in and spending S$2mil (RM4.7mil),” the manager told a journalist. “I don’t think they were even 30 years old.”
Last year, 29 of these crème de la crème models were sold countrywide, beating Ferrari (26 cars).
In 2007 a total of 320 luxury cars including Rolls Royce, Bentley, Lotus, Aston Martin and Maserati, were sold to Singapore’s new rich.
As the nouveau riche basks in their newfound glory, more Singaporeans from the poorer quarters are approaching the government for food aid.
A growing number of homeless can be seen sleeping in void decks of buildings and, pressed by high living costs, more elderly citizens are working as toilet cleaners or collecting used cans for recycling.
Singapore remains largely a middle class society. The high number of shopping plazas attests to it. But the group may be decreasing as a result of globalisation and runaway prices.
The city-state of 4.7 million people has two – perhaps three – faces. On the top 10% are the rich, who live in wealthy districts, own yachts and blow S$10,000 (RM23,209) on a single meal.
At the bottom 20% of the population are the languishers who have difficulties
coping with a high cost structured life in an international city.
The third is the large middle class.
Take the case of Carol John, 27. She doesn’t own a bed, sleeps every night on thin mattresses with her three children. Hers is a one-bedroom flat that reeks of urine smell from the common corridor outside.
“I can’t save anything, it’s so difficult for me,” John, who is unemployed, told a reporter. She relies on her husband’s S$600 (RM1,392) monthly salary and S$100 (RM232) government handout.
She is luckier than others who are homeless – elderly and even entire families - who sleep at void decks or the beach and bathe at public restrooms.
In perspective, Singapore is the second richest country in Asia next to Japan, with a per capita GDP of US$48,900 (RM154,141).
Homeless cases are few, nowhere comparable in number to Osaka’s army of vagabonds or New York’s ‘bag ladies’.
In fact, nine out of 10 poor people in Singapore have their own home, and usually a phone and a refrigerator.
But in the local context, it is a potential minefield of unrest. The proportion of Singaporeans earning less than S$1,000 (RM2,320) a month rose to 18% last year, from 16% in 2002, according to central bank data.
The bad part is that life is often worse for the unemployed – compared to other countries - because Singapore has no safety net and no rural hinterland to cushion their suffering.
Unlike in Malaysia or Thailand, a jobless person who cannot cope with the global market has no countryside to retreat to so that he can live off the land.
The problem will get worse. In other words, the rich will get richer and the poor, poorer with the middle class remaining more or less stagnant.
The state’s Gini coefficient, a measure of income inequality, has worsened from 42.5 in 1998 to 47.2 in 2006, which makes it in league with the Philippines (46.1) and Guatemala (48.3), and worse than China (44.7) according to the World Bank.
Other wealthy Asian nations such as Japan, Korea and Taiwan have more European-style Ginis of 24.9, 31.6 and 32.6 respectively.
This is one of the worst failures of the modern People’s Action Party, despite its ‘democratic socialism’ principles.
It was with these that its first generation leaders were able to turn a poor squalid society into a middle class success story.
Economists attribute the major blame to globalisation, which benefits the skilled citizens and the rich but makes it hard for the unskilled, the aged and the sick.
Even the highly educated are not spared.
The use of new instruments like company restructuring, relocation or out-sourcing of workers – unheard of before – is widening the gap and creating more income inequality.
For example, while the proportion of lower income rises, those who earn S$8,000 (RM18,570) or more increased from 4.7% to 6%.
This rising inequality could eventually undermine the bedrock of society - the broad middle class.
Some economists say that the feared erosion of Japan’s middle class, first enunciated by Japanese strategist Kenichi Ohmae, may already be happening here.
His country was emerging into a “M-shape” class distribution, in which a very few middle class people may climb up the ladder into the upper class, while the others gradually sank to the lower classes.
These people suffered a deterioration in living standard, faced the threat of unemployment, or their average salary was dropping, he said.
Gradually, they can only live a way the lower classes live: e.g. take buses instead of driving their own car, cut their budget for meals instead of dining at better restaurants, spend less in consumer goods.
And, Kenichi said, all this might take place while the economy enjoyed remarkable growth and overall wages rose.
However, the wealth increase may concentrate in the pockets of the very few rich people in the society.
The masses cannot benefit from the growth, and their living standard goes into decline.
The Singapore government, which relies on the middle class vote to remain in power, has vowed to make economic gap-levelling its top priority – for survival, even if nothing else.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Part 2 : Tibet :- The truth is not so simple.....

I received a bit of a history lesson among the comments for my previous post on Tibetan protesters. Among the points raised:

a. Tibet has historically been part of China.
b. Western powers have committed human rights abuses themselves.

However, my postings wasn't about the Tibet being part of China all along which is most likely to be true or the whether westerners are barbarians. It was whether protests are a waste of time and whether the Chinese should view it as a ploy to humiliate the Chinese (again?).

Protesters all over the world are nothing but trouble makers. They will seize the moment when the news media of the world is focussed on a closely watched event - otherwise how will they get the attention they seek. The attention brings to focus whatever issues they support be it human rights, animal rights, the environment etc. Of course, if you were fighting an unjust war or polluting the environment and people are protesting against it, you would feel somewhat humiliated. Very often it is the govt that is humiliated and their own citizens are protesting against their policies. When Bush faces anti-war protests overseas, Americans don't feel it is ploy to humiliate them because they themselves might be against the war or believe others have the right to express their view. The human rights protests against China during the Olympic torch, evoked strong reaction among the Chinese that it is ploy by western govts to humiliate the Chinese. However, these govts are also powerless when their own citizens protest against them. You see, in those countries where protests have occurred, it is legal to protest and pro-Tibetan chaps like Richard Gere and Julia Roberts have been brainwashed not by their govts but by the evil Dalai Lama. They actually believe the Chinese govt has committed acts of violence against Tibetans. So there is a different point of view on what is happening in Tibet besides the wonderful economic boom often reported in China's media.

When PM Lee spoke at the forum, there was a rebuttal by a Westerner who said:

"I'm proud of the chaos that surrounds the flame because protest is, to use the Prime Minister's own terms, the way we challenge great minds. It is a new way of revealing basic truths " - Professor Gearty.

I really hope our PM could conceal his laughter when he heard the absurd remark by the misguided professor. Obviously, the professor has no understanding of how harmonious societies like Singapore operate. We ban protests and don't challenge great minds like that of our MM - we simply obey them for our own good.

I hope the Chinese forgive the westerners for their chaotic ways because their society is clearly far behind an advanced civilisation such as China. They (the protesters) are not out to humiliate the Chinese but to reveal basic truths about Tibet. The problem is they don't they have a state media to tell them what the basic truth is about Tibet. The westerners are all confused about Tibet.

Is the Dalai Lama part of an evil elite that exploited their own populace to live in luxury? ...The Chinese are actually liberators of the ordinary Tibetan people?

Watch this:

Thank you CCTV. No wonder the Chinese are angry with the western media. The protesters in Tibet are nothing but violent rioters, looters, arsonists and anarchists - yet they are held up in the western media as freedom fighters against Chinese oppression.

Lets watch another video:

Oops...the Chinese govt is oppressing the Tibetants no thanks to the BBC. No wonder those westerners are confused over who is abusing human rights are protesting against the Chinese govt. Who can blame them after watching the distortion from the BBC? .....If you go back to the words of the professor "protest is.... way of revealing basic truths...". I guess the truth here is not all that simple and requires alot of revealing by both sides.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Human Rights Protestors wasting their time!

Our esteemed PM has excellent advice for those pro-Tibet human rights protesters : they are making a wrong move! Protesters all over the world are the same, they are nothing but trouble makers.

Straits Times has given front page coverage to a speech given by PM Lee at an international forum held in Singapore. In his speech PM Lee explained why it is not wise to protest against the Chinese because:

"The outrage in China, especially among the young can be read on flooded internet bulletin boards, all carrying virulent anti-foreign sentiments....Were they in English, young Americans and Europeans would realise that their displays of contempt for China and things Chinese will have consequences in their lifetime, well beyond the Olympic Games" - PM Lee

Gee, I'm Chinese too. I thought those protests were against an evil regime that committed human rights abuses in Tibet. Now I'm really angry after reading PM Lee's speech, those protestors are actually out to condemn ME because I'm Chinese. Thanks to Straits Times and PM Lee, I'm really angry with those Westerners who are protesting against my race and the country that my grandfather come from. It is really strange that the Herald Tribune and all the useless western media said that they were protesting against human rights abuses and the crackdown on Tibet. No! They were protesting against me and trying the humiliate the country of my forefathers.

"No government can give ground to any core issue under such public duress whatever the merits of the argument" - PM Lee

Whatever grievences those people have, they should file a complaint with the department that handles such issues in the Chinese bureaucracy. Although the Chinese govt may be a bit behind us, I'm sure they have such a feedback department to take care of such issues. Protests are simply a waste of time:

"The protests have no impact on China's policy in Tibet or against dissendents" - PM Lee

The protests have no impact on China's policy in Tibet although it is beamed around the world and caused the European Parliament to pass a resolution urging a boycott of the opening ceremony. The Tibetans should not have such protests around the world to highlight the plight of their love ones in Tibet who have been jailed for standing up against unpopular rule by the Communists. They should keep silent and go about their own lives and spend their time making money and shopping.

I'm glad that protests are banned in Singapore so that Singaporeans don't waste their time doing something unproductive and useless. Protests have no impact on governments. MinisterVivian Balakrishnan recent said, "I believe it is vital to keep sporting competitions and politics separate. We must not let politics obstruct the celebration of sports and all that it stands for" when he was asked about Tibet. Yes, I agree we should not mix politics and sports - but why did we participate in the American led boycott of the Moscow Olympics in 1980 . I guess the human rights abuses in Afghanistan committed by the Soviet Union was just too great to ignore and we have to let our compassion override our principles for that particular olympics games. We, Singaporeans are so lucky to be led by wise, compassionate and principled leaders. ...leaders whom we can trust to guard our rights, interests and freedom....

Friday, April 11, 2008

1 US$ = 1.357 S$

Yesterday MAS decided to do something about inflation - allow the S$ to rise sharply against the US$. It was reported in the papers that they made the move as the price of oil rose above U$111. Yesterday the US reported that its trade deficit has rose to U$63B for February - Americans consume US$63B more than they export. Watch this video:

You see for many years Asian govts funded the US deficit by buying US$ assets (treasuries, stocks etc) - this allowed the Americans to consume much more than what they produced. It also kept the Asians busy with and more work to produce more for export to the US. The main beneficiaries of this whole setup were the Americans who get to eat more, the export companies in Asian and strangely the Asian govts who were able to create jobs by lending to the Americans to consume.

If you go to America and eat at the restaurants, you find the portions bigger, the shopping malls are bigger, the average car is bigger ...etc. Many of my friends got tired of being on the working side of this strange equation, they went to America and traded work for consumption. They worked less and got paid more, drove bigger cars, stayed in bigger houses etc.

I find it very strange why Singaporeans like emigrate when there are so many jobs for them in Singapore. We have the one of the most competitive school system in the world, the most competitive job market, we work longer and harder than any other population in the world - why would anyone want to leave such a great system?

Monday, April 07, 2008

Elderly Cleaners in Singapore

(Refer to ST Forum letter below)
During the last elections, while campaigning PM Lee saw an 80 year old woman still working hard for a living, his response was one of delight that old folks here are working......wonderful!! Instead of wasting their time idling at home or looking after grandchildren, it is best to have our old folks working. Self-help is the best, our govt has often told us. We should be prepared to work longer and harder. Singapore govt cannot afford to give welfare or public assistance that is sufficient for more than 2 meals a day. For people reading my blog, this is the heart of the issue - if the elderly who have to clean toilets for a living die without seeing benefits of the wealth our society has generated, who benefits from this wealth?

Many our elites are hired into GIC & Temasek to manage this money that technically belongs to the people of Singapore. While they are unable to help our elderly who work to support themselves, the govt is able to invest in troubled banks and losing a few billion here and there. You might think that in your time of sickness and poverty, this wealth to which you have contributed is there to take away some of the financial pain........but lets get real here, helping Singaporeans is a waste of money when you can use the money to invest for higher returns e.g. Citibank, UBS, Shin Corp. Giving money to the elderly will result in a crutch mentality and undermine their work ethics. Our govt is able to create numerous cleaning jobs for them anyway so let them not be a burden to the state. The same amount of money can be used as scholarship for foreign students - although many use Singapore as a stepping stone and don't even bother to serve out their 3 year obligation to work here, we shouldn't be too small minded about that. If not scholarship for foreigners, there are other areas to spend the money - govt sponsored research, defense, troubled western banks, telcos in Thailand....etc. Spending money to help elderly Singaporeans ranks very low on the list of priorities. We should all be happy to have a govt that has plenty of good ideas on what to do with taxpayers' money.
ST Forum 4 April 2008
Elderly toilet cleaners a sad reflection of society here

Recently, I was at a toilet in a shopping centre when I noticed an elderly woman with a bent and crooked back trying to clean the floor while fashionable young women applied their lipsticks and checked their hairdos in the mirror.

I find this scene to be a sad reflection of society here, one that is played out daily in numerous shopping centres.

During the course of my travels through China, from rural Yunnan to cosmopolitan Shanghai, I never once encountered an elderly toilet cleaner. This is perhaps because in China, it is considered a stain on the family honour if your mother, grandmother or aunt has to clean toilets to support herself, so the elderly are usually supported by the family network.
The situation is the same in the Philippines.
Singapore seems unique in having the highest density of elderly toilet cleaners in the world, surely not an accolade to be proud of.
Although cleaning toilets is easy to learn, it is far from pleasant, given the bad toilet habits of Singaporeans.
Besides this, it is a job that may be hazardous for the elderly, who are more likely to suffer serious fractures should they slip on the wet toilet floor.

To resolve this situation, perhaps the Ministry of Community Development, Youth and Sports and the Ministry of Manpower can work together to consider the following suggestions:

  • Survey these elderly cleaners to find out more about their financial and social situation, to see what sort of aid can be provided.
  • Devise incentives for the proprietors of food outlets, supermarkets and childcare centres to employ these elderly folk in the preparation or packing of food instead.
  • Increase the wages of toilet cleaners as unpleasant jobs should command a higher wage so that younger people would want to take them up.
  • Allow foreign workers to do the job.

Encourage students in schools to empathise with toilet cleaners and practise good toilet habits by periodically making them clean school toilets.
Dr Anne Chong Su Yan

Sunday, April 06, 2008

MM Lee : Some are "Living in a Make-believe world".....

You should read the above interview with MM Lee which appeared on the Straits Times this Saturday. According to MM Lee, there are 2 reasons why Mas Selamat was able to escape from the detention center - he was an escape artist and the guards were complacent. Complacency has become a point of discussion in the Straits Times recently. The Straits Times in its article "Kiasu Kiasi complacent?" gave the 2 main reasons why Singaporeans are complacent:

"There is a sense of general complacency in Singapore because we have a very efficient civil service and Government that takes care of most people's needs - shelter, employment, education, medical, transport, even retirement needs...." - PAP MP Lim Wee Kiak.

Singaporeans have become complacent because the govt is so good at meeting their every need. No wonder the govt has been hiking the fees of every single one of those services mentioned by MP Lim Wee Kiak to reduce complacency among Singaporeans. His argument is indeed compelling - people in Hong Kong are politically active because their govt is unable to take care of their needs ....S. Koreans, Brits, Australians' needs are all not well taken care of by their govt, that is why they lack political apathy...a characteristic common among Singaporeans. This pervasive apathy has nothing to do with the arrest of dissidents in Singapore, censorship, media control, defamation lawsuits, draconian illegal assembly laws, treatment of the opposition etc.

The 2nd reason for complacency given by the article is this:

"Singaporeans take the smooth running of the country for granted and fail to appreciate the work that goes on behind the scenes to ensure this" - Straits Times
Yes, Singaporeans are complacent because they fail to appreciate the work of the govt. I've often urged Singaporeans to be grateful to the govt...showing your appreciation is one sign you're not complacent.

MM Lee who often spoke of the need to preserve the system he has created was probably saying that more has to be done to ensure that the system he created will last. We must guard against dangerous forces that threaten this system especially the Opposition. No Singaporean should be complacent when it comes to the Opposition. We have to guard against the ideas they attempt to propagate by finding more time to read the Straits Times and listening to speeches of our esteemed leaders attentively. We can see that the Singapore Police Force is not complacent when there is a need to control the activities the opposition they always have ample manpower and vehicles ready to make arrests. We should also do our part - avoid undue opposition influence by systematically rejecting their ideas and believing what the Straits Times writes about them.
I urge Singaporeans not be so complacent that they are seduced by simplistic ideas put out by the opposition that is incompatible with the system that our MM has created. Among these seductive ideas is that of having stringent check and balance in the system. ...yeah like the idea of voting a sizable opposition to check on the govt. Our great govt needs no such checks because it is the only one in the world that can check itself. The other idea is giving the people more freedom and democracy - I'm sure Singaporeans don't want to be burdened by the responsibility of freedom and the duties as citizens of a full blown democracy. Good governance is best left to the PAP - a leadership that can be trusted to work for the people's interest.

Inflation : Good govt comes to our aid!

I think that 50% increase in the price of rice within 2 months was the straw that broke the camel's back. It caused our govt to consider drastic actions to aid Singaporeans suffering from price inflation of necessities. I always knew when things got this bad, our govt will be there for us. Those of you who ever had any doubts about the govts' compassion, this time you have been proven wrong. Given the suffering Singaporeans have gone through in recent months, our govt has decided to help us by NOT increasing fees & charges temporarily. This is indeed drastic action on the part of our govt to help us - I cannot remember a time when the govt has held off fee hikes when it has the chance to do so. I heard some complaints from Singaporeans that the govt had actually gone too far with its earlier hikes resulting in billions in the budget surplus - the govt is actually doing nothing to help the people with a freeze when it should actually be rolling back the earlier hikes. My message to these Singaporeans is DON'T BE UNGRATEFUL OKAY! Don't they know how much work the govt has to undertake to implement those hikes and how much explanation the govt has to give to convince the population that it has no choice but to hike (especially the GST hike).,,,there will be mass confusion if the govt ever undo its hikes. As Straits Times has explained be should all view the budget surplus as a happy situation - you should be happy because your govt certainly is....

I hope Singaporeans remember this painful sacrifice on the part of our govt. When inflation is contained, please remember that the govt will have no choice but to catch up on those fee hikes.

Saturday, April 05, 2008

Finding the future leaders of Singapore.....

A few days ago Straits Times' front page featured our PM who said he now faces the challenge of finding the next PM who has to be groomed so that he will be ready to lead 3 elections from now. It is indeed difficult to find good leaders for Singapore. On the right hand corner of the same page was an article about a "ze char" hawker who had to close his stall because he couldn't find cooks for $2000 per month and helpers for $1000. That is the severity of the labour shortage in Singapore we cannot find ministers & hawker helpers ....and we also cannot find our terrorists, one Mas Selamat who has been missing for 38 days. We as a nation have great difficulty finding people. If we cannot find Mas Selamat, we can safely assume that he has become a foreign talent in another country....however if we cannot find good leaders, Singapore is doomed. In the next few paragraphs, I want to explain the difficulty of finding good leaders further.

Where to find the next generation of leaders? Unlike the extensive search for Mas Selamat, the search for our future ministers is actually quite narrowly focussed - if you look at the current batch of ministers, a disproportionate number come from the top echelons of the SAF and others from the civil service - e.g. BG PM Lee, BG George Yeo, Admiral Teo, Admiral Low Tuck ? (Education Minister). Where else to find leadership but the SAF, where leadership is actually a career. Nowhere else can you find leaders who will strongly uphold the rules and defend the status quo. Some of you who have served your NS may be concerned that leadership in an organisation where the rank and file structure means that you're surrounded by more and more people who have to say "yes" (military law)to you as you rise up the hierachy will actually produce leaders who are not suitable for a society with diverse and sometimes dissenting views. Don't worry about that we don't have such a society and dissenting views can be contained to obscurity of the internet. There is no better place to find leaders than among the ex-generals and ex-admirals of the SAF - our outstanding PM Lee himself spent many years in the SAF. However, it was reported that these potential leaders are somewhat reluctant to join politics. Why risk their illustrous careers and well planned retirements (in the GLCs) ? The risks include facing public critcism and losing elections. Take BG George Yeo as an example, despite his experience in the SAF and leadership courage, he had an awful scare in the last election when when a motley bunch of opposition members including one character who couldn't submit a form properly, narrowly lost by a few % points. Had they won, his illustrous career would have been blighted by the loss. I really blame the opposition for this difficulty in finding leaders for our nation. If the opposition does not exist, there would be walkovers and assured victory during elections ...these ex-generals would be more willing to step forward. Just as they can be counted on for victory during war, they can lead our nation to greater heights.
Unlike other countries where democracy means that leadership can emerge from any segment of society, leadership succesion in Singapore has to be carefully and meticulously planned. Our future leaders have to be groomed and spend time to understand the bureaucracy. Carefully selected leadership will help to preserve our system and ensure continuity in policies - policies that ensure that Singaporeans work harder and longer to contribute to Singapore Inc. Our survival depends on good leadership without which Singapore will sink - unlike in other countries if bad leadership emerges, it will be voted out, replaced and the country continues to survive.

Friday, April 04, 2008

Government Secrecy in the Age of Information....

I stayed up tonight to watch the Senate hearing on the Bears Stearns rescue. This hearing is broadcasted around the world uncensored and unrehearsed as various players - Federal Reserve, ex-CEO of Bears Stearns, Treasury Undersecretary etc were asked questions by the Senate Banking Committee on market turmoil on the details of the Bears Stearns collapse and takeover by JP Morgan. The hearing was conducted in an open manner, the senators were thoroughly prepared with tough questions on this complex event that elicted insightful responses .....How much risk did Fed take lending US$30B of tax payers money to Bears? Were shareholders treated fairly?...What was the cause of the collapse? 5 hours into the hearing I got all my answers and a far better understanding of the events that have been occurred in recent times in the subprimes crisis & financial markets.....this hearing was conducted just 20 days after the takeover of Bears Stearns.....

Mas Selamat has been missing for 37 days and nobody seems to know how he escaped. It took 4 hours for the public to be told of his escape and quite a few days before they could tell us what he wore and that he only limps while running and not when he is walking etc. We are told that he has to be kept under detention without trial because he is a dangerous terrorit but there was no hurry to inform the public of his escape because he posed no "immediate danger". The govt not just lost Mas Selamat in recent days, they also lost billions investing in trouble banks. GIC's investment of US$11B for a 9% stake in UBS and UBS shares have fallen substantially since that investment. As a taxpayers you might have some questions on what type of due diligence was conducted before the money was invested, why was the GIC unable to find better investments other than banks that are in big trouble and so on. But there will be no hearing and you will never get any answers. Temasek's investment in Citibank has also depreciated substantially. In response to the recent agreement for more disclosures by sovereign wealth funds, Temasek clarified that it is "not a sovereign wealth fund and does not require government to give approval". I guess it won't be telling taxpayers too much about its great secret strategy in getting involved in investments such as Shin Corp, Global Crossing and Citibank.

In the 2006 General Elections, the PAP govt proclaimed itself a world class government. Yes, our leaders receive the better than world class pay and they deserve it. Unlike other govts who have to take questions from the citizens under Freedom of Information Acts (FOIA) that ensures that except for information that will compromise national security, citizens will have full access to govt information, our world class govt implemented the reverse of the FOIA in the form of a draconian Official Secrets Act, which is so broad it makes sure nothing gets out unless the govt selectively releases it. Indeed, the Singapore govt is world class in keeping information from its citizens. It is important that information resides with only a group of selected elites and not the rest of the citizens because only these people have the intelligence to process the information properly. The ordinary citizens should not be burdened with unnecessary informaton like how Mas Selamat escaped - they should be told only enough information to start looking him in their own neighborhood. Few govts in developed countries are as considerate as ours to pre-process and filter information so that the citizens get only information of the highest quality. For example, our unemployment figures are now reported for "residents" which include PRs not just"Singaporeans" by MoM. As a Singaporean, I cannot find out the unemployment rate among Singaporeans. I guess they are probably trying their best to make me happy by consistently showing me good employment numbers so that I feel more secure as a Singaporean.
Singaporeans are so lucky to have a govt that manages the information they receive. How else can the govt ensure their happiness as citizens (or residents) of this globalised city?...Filtered information like Newater is very clean and healthy for our minds. As good obedient citizens we should learn to suppress our futile curiosity on how Mas Selamat managed to escape and focus on our work so that we can contribute more to Singapore's economy that our GIC & Temasek will have more to invest ....