Thursday, July 31, 2008

Rising poverty in affluent Singapore.....

"She went to see her MP for help and she was given $30....."

Now you know why Lee Hsien Loong said GST had to be increased to help the poor. Just look at how much the number of poor people increased after the GST was hiked....thanks to the govt's non-stop hikes in utilities, bus fares, school fees, rent, etc, there are now people who cannot afford food after paying for all their bills to the govt. You thought that GST was hiked so that the govt can forego price increases in things like transport and utilities that will hurt the poor...you are wrong! The GST was hiked to help the poor contribute to the govt surplus. The surplus has created a "happy situation" for our govt who is now able to invest in troubled western banks. While they pump in another $900M into Merrill, poor Singaporeans are queuing for free food at Buddhist temples. These poor Singaporeans must understand that while they don't have enough for food, they technically own a piece of Citibank, Merrill & UBS....they too are part of our affluent inclusive society.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Stanford is not a good university.

I used to think that Stanford was a world-class university. I'm therefore shocked to find out that they have accepted one of our opposition members, Chee Siok Chin, a person who has been found guilty of contempt of court & defamation, for a leadership training course. Are they out of their minds?

They have also invited her to give a public address. This is unbelievable. Here is a woman who has been arrested and criminally charged in Singapore for speaking in public and they want to invite her to commit her heinous crimes on the Stanford campus.

Chee Siok Chin was one of 27 people selected out of a pool of 500 for this course. I can't imagine who the other applicants are but the entry standards of Stanford has fallen to such an extent criminals, bankrupts and opposition members in Singapore can actually qualify for their courses.....and what is more shocking is they are paying her to attend the course!

Perhaps the people in Stanford do not know CSC well enough and are not familiar with her past activities in Singapore. ....they should thank the Official Assignee who has prevented CSC from attending as she is a bankrupt - thereby preventing any damage to Stanford's reputation.

----------------------------
2ad7733b3f4acaa6f7cd3a5292fdbdf2.jpgFriday, 25 July 2008
Singapore Democrats


Stanford University's Center on Democracy, Development, and the Rule of Law (CDDRL) has written to the Minister for Law K Shanmugam to ask him to allow Ms Chee Siok Chin to attend its Summer Fellows Program.

The Official Assignee rejected Ms Chee's application to travel to the US because she is a bankrupt.

In a letter to the Minister (below), Dr Michael McFaul, Director of the CDDRL, informed Mr Shanmugam that Stanford has invited Ms Chee to give a public lecture for which she would be paid an honorarium of US$2,000. This would allow the SDP leader to pay her creditor which is the Singapore Government.

The OA has yet to respond.


Stanford University CDDRL's letter to Singapore's Minister for Law:

CENTER ON DEMOCRACY, DEVELOPMENT, AND THE RULE OF LAW
Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies, 616 Serra Street, Stanford, CA 94305-6055

July 22, 2008

The Honorable Mr K Shanmugam
Minister for Law
Republic of Singapore
100 High Street #08-02
The Treasury
Singapore 179434
via Fax and Email

URGENT

Dear Mr Minister:

We are writing about the decision of your government to deny Ms Chee Siok Chin permission to travel to Stanford to participate in the annual Summer Fellows Program of our Center on Democracy, Development, and the Rule of Law.

We feel this decision is wrong and unfair, in that it infringes on her freedom of movement and denies Ms Chee—who was selected through an extremely competitive process that chose 27 applicants from a pool of over 500—the opportunity to enhance her knowledge and skills in ways that will benefit Singapore and also improve her professional capacity, including her ability to earn income in the future.

We understand that her request to travel was denied because it will bring no benefit to her bankruptcy estate and to her creditors. We would like to call your urgent attention to a new development that renders this assessment out of date.

Ms. Chee has been invited to give a public lecture here at Stanford University, during her stay as a Summer Fellow, with an honorarium of US$2,000. (Please see the attached letter of invitation).

Since all of her expenses as a summer fellow will be covered separately, we would assume that her honorarium earnings could be used to help meet her obligations to her creditors upon her return, benefiting all concerned.

Given this new material development in her case, and given the warm relations of cooperation that Stanford has been developing with Singapore, which we hope will continue and grow, we respectfully request that you review her request on an urgent basis and grant her permission to attend the CDDRL Summer Fellows Program.

The program begins on Monday, July 28, but we would accept her as soon as she can arrive at Stanford.

Thank you for your consideration.

Sincerely,

Michael McFaul
Director, CDDRL

SM Goh : PAP will win back Hougang....

I'm so glad SM Goh is looking at this matter of great urgency - to take back Hougang from the WP and create a parliament of pure 100% selected PAP MPs and that will be a great step forward for Singapore. My comments in red ....


SM Goh confident PAP will eventually win back Hougang
Channel NewsAsia - Sunday, July 27

SINGAPORE : Senior Minister Goh Chok Tong has said Singapore’s political system should facilitate the emergence of a strong, effective government after every election and a responsible, constructive opposition.

By PAP definition, a responsible constructive opposition has yet to emerge from Singapore. What is a constructive and responsible opposition? One that will help the PAP promote its policy masterpieces like CPF Life, means testing, GST and import of foreign labor. These policies are critical to Singapore so anyone criticizing them would be nonconstructive and irresponsible - so far such a constructive opposition has not emerged and Singaporeans are now warned against voting for the opposition at this point in time.

Mr Goh was speaking at the National Day Dinner of the opposition—held ward of Hougang on Saturday.

His key message at the dinner was that the ruling People’s Action Party (PAP) must continue to produce results which make people’s lives better.

In 3 years time when we have the next general elections, the key question to ask is "Is your life better after 5 years of PAP rule?"....the answer is always the same - without the PAP, the island would have sunk and your sister, mother and wife would have to be maids in other countries. The fact that you have a HDB flat to live in, a job to go to, food to eat and means-tested medical care means your life is better that it would have been without the PAP. So the only logical conclusion is your life is better with the PAP than without the PAP - so you have to vote for the PAP.

He also said the PAP must never lose the people’s trust as this is the ruling party’s recipe for the continued success of Singapore.

It is indeed amazing but true...the PAP govt can lose the people's money without losing the people's trust. Recent reports and correction on reports that Temasek has lost billions in its investment in Merrill alone (not counting other trouble western banks) ...Temasek explained that it had sold off 5 million not 43 million shares in Merrill which it had earlier said was long term investment. We were told about the 5 million shares only because of a filing error which cause the market to be abuzz with rumors that Temasek had jettisoned its investment in Merrill.

I have learned over time that the way the PAP earns the trust of the people is to manage critical information so that the citizens don't have to worry. From Shin Corp to unemployment figures among Singaporeans. ....there are things that Singaporeans don't have to know. If you don't know, you don't worry and you learn to trust.

While many democracies try as far as possible to have the highest possible level of transparency and give its citizens as much information as possible without compromising national security, the PAP approach to building trust is to implement the draconian Official Secrets Act (OSA) and to manage information and make sure only the good news get to the people.

Mr Goh said that is why he is confident of eventually winning Hougang back from the opposition. Mr Goh was in the thick of action in the opposition—held ward of Hougang during the last general election in 2006.

Mr. Goh also said this before the last elections during which he promised the people of Hougang hundreds of millions in upgrading if they were to choose the PAP candidate. I think it is a matter of money, if hundreds of millions won't do the job, he will just have to keep increasing it until the Hougang people can see real worth of their votes.

Returning for this year’s National Day celebrations, Mr Goh noted that the opposition parliamentarian for the area since 1991, Low Thia Khiang, believes his job is just to ask questions and check the ruling party, but not to offer solutions to problems.

Mr Goh said this is a rather narrow view of the role of an opposition. And the Senior Minister has thrown a challenge to the advisor and grassroots leaders of the Hougang division — to keep its incumbent Mr Low on his toes.

Gee, Low Thia Khiang is such a narrow minded kind of guy but I recommend he stay that way. The last time the WP launch an extensive manifesto to address every single major PAP policy with alternatives, it was attacked as "a timebomb" and "poison". I noticed that people who try to change the political system don't stay out of jail or bankruptcy for too long. Chee Soon Juan is the type of opposition that sees a broad role for the opposition - see what happened to him.

Mr Goh said, "Amongst the things you can do... I suggest you study the annual accounts of the town council to ensure that the funds are properly used. Check whether the arrears for S&C (service and conservancy) charges are piling up, and eating into their reserves. Make sure that enough money is put aside for cyclical maintenance.

I think after studying the accounts of the Hougang town council, they probably won't have time to study the accounts of GIC and Temasek Holdings. It is so wise of the SM to remind the people to concentrate on what is important in the Hougang Town council and not be distracted by what is happening elsewhere.

"In your walkabouts, check on the estate maintenance. If Mr Low has done a good job, give him credit for it. If there are deficiencies, point them out to the residents. In short, play the role of an effective opposition in Hougang."

He noted, "Eventually, I believe we will win Hougang back, but whether we do or not, I think (we should) serve the people. That’s what we are here for."

Mr Goh noted that the people living in the opposition ward know that they have benefited from government policies. But many also think that there should be an opposition to keep the ruling party on its toes.

The Senior Minister said, "Ideally, our political system should facilitate the emergence of a strong, effective government after every election and a responsible, constructive opposition.

"But no matter how you design it, there is no guarantee, because it depends on whether good, honest and competent people come forward to stand for elections and the wisdom of the electorate when they cast their ballot.

"So there’s a natural tendency — which I can appreciate of some people wanting to have a voice, not belonging to the party, not belonging to the PAP — to check and balance the PAP. That’s understandable because people want to debate issues, they want to have their views expressed in Parliament."

So Mr Goh said the ruling party’s primary task before the next election, which is due by 2011, is to look for good candidates.

He said, "In India, the world’s largest democracy, several criminals have been elected into Parliament and some are serving jail terms, including one convicted murderer who is waiting for his appeal to be heard.

"But recently, they were brought out to vote because a confidence motion on the government was hanging in the balance. They were of course then returned to jail. But can you imagine MPs with criminal records holding the future of Singapore in their hands?"

So the Senior Minister hopes the opposition too would look for good candidates so voters will be given a real choice. — CNA/ms

OMG, western style democracy is so horrible - look at what is happening in India!!!Thank you for reminding us of the negative examples on democracy, there are several hundred countries with vibrant working democracies but there is nothing we can learn from them. Many countries that went from communism to thriving democracies after the fall of the Soviet Union - Poland, Hungary, Czech...etc were just lucky to get this inferior system democracy working for them. The constant focus on failed democracies will remind the people that democracy is not good for them and they should happy with what they have today.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

You may soon be able to sell your kidneys.....

Singapore may legalise organ swap

"So will the govt be subsidizing kidneys for the poor who can't afford it?" - Lucky Tan

Drink lots of water and don't take too much salt, your kidneys may be worth something. Your liver?...Don't drink too much beer or whiskey.

Recently we had a case of a rich man, the owner of one of Singapore's upmarket shopping center, trying to buy a kidney from an Indonesian. Unfortunately, the police found out about it and arrested the Indonesian men. The kidney operation was suppose to be done by the president of the Society of Transplantation (Singapore) who has a clinic at Mount E, the most expensive private hospital in Singapore.
.
Over the years, I've heard of Singaporeans traveling overseas for their kidneys. They go to China, India and Indonesia where regulation isn't so tight. Anyone with a relative who needs dialysis can understand why people become desperate for transplants - the quality of life is really poor without it. Organ trading appear to be a win-win situation - the poor Indonesian is getting about 5 years of wages by selling away one of his kidneys. With that money he can support his family better. So far so good....win-win for all. I think that was on the minds of those involved in the recent case and I really feel sorry for the kidney patient who despite his wealth has to suffer.
.
We have HOTA but it is not enough. There is a 10 year queue for organ transplants. Poor people selling kidneys to the rich - that has to be the answer. We have a lot of poor people these days who can't make ends meet and we produce the most millionaires per capita in the world. So why not allow allow organ trading to help close the income gap. Our income gap has been rising year after year despite all the govt has done. Lets start organ trading so poor people can sell their organs to the highest bidder. As with condos, BMWs, exclusive club memberships, we will find that the poor and lower middle income will be priced out of the market - unless we produce enough poor desperate people to supply this market or import kidneys from 3rd world countries. Imported kidneys (just like imported foreign labor) will not help to close the income gap..... I suggest only Singaporeans be allowed to sell kidneys. We can allow anyone to buy kidneys since we are a medical hub - the price of kidneys will go up if we allow rich foreigners to add to the demand. That will help poor Singaporeans fetch the highest price for their kidneys.
.
For middle class Singaporeans who can't afford the kidneys, the solution is the same as what we have in place now for medical care - buy more insurance. I'm sure NTUC Income can work out a new medical insurance plan to cover the purchase of organs. For the poor people who will be the net sellers of kidneys, the solution is again the same as what we have today for medical care - subsidized organs - similar to the subsidize health care they're getting today, they will have to queue up for their kidneys.....if they want it faster, they will have to forgo the subsidy.

Organ trading is a great idea. While it is unthinkable for other countries to implement such a scheme because they are worried that the poor will be exploited, it is a perfectly acceptable solution in Singapore because we have a big income gap and this is one way to narrow it without any cost to the govt.
--------------

---

Singapore may legalise organ swaps

1 hour ago

Singapore may legalise the trade in human kidneys for transplants, its health minister said.

The Health Ministry is considering paying unrelated donors to boost the supply of organs, Khaw Boon Wan said.

"We should not reject any idea just because it is radical or controversial," Khaw said. "We may be able to find an acceptable way to allow a meaningful compensation for some living, unrelated kidney donors, without breaching ethical principles or hurting the sensitivities of others."

Khaw said the ministry would review possible changes to current legislation to allow payments for donations from third parties such as those from the charity and religious sectors. Under the proposal, which would need to be approved by Parliament to become law, patients would also get help in finding donors.

"There are desperate patients out there wishing to live and desperately poor people willing to exchange a kidney for a hopefully improved life," he said. "Criminalising organ trading does not eliminate it...it merely breeds a black market."

Khaw also said the Health Ministry would push to amend existing laws on organ transplants to remove an age limit on deceased donors, currently set at 60 years, because "the suitability of the organ depends on its condition rather than the age of the donor."

The two initiatives should enable Singapore to carry out 70% of the kidney transplants needed every year - up from 50% currently, the minister said.

Khaw's comments follow the cases of two Indonesian men who were jailed and fined by a Singapore court earlier this month after being convicted of agreeing to sell their kidneys to two patients.

Selling or buying organs or blood is illegal in Singapore, as in many other countries, and carries a penalty of up to 12 months' jail.


Sunday, July 20, 2008

Don't say Goodbye....

I have had friends leaving Singapore over the years but last week was the first time I had to say farewell to 2 friends who are going off in the same week. They are leaving for good, one for New Zealand, the other for Australia. I tried to persuade them to stay for another month so that they can watch the National Day parade of wonderful things in Singapore that might change their minds but they were all ready to go. When I asked they why they are leaving, among other things, they said they don't want their children to go through what have have gone through in life - high stress in our society, NS, lack of a social safety net, etc. These 2 friends in their forties who fairly successful at what they do, have chosen to leave because they were worried the doors will close for them as they get older - many countries have an age limit of 45 yrs old for immigrants.

About 10 years ago SM Goh coined the term "quitters" to describe those emigrating and when I first heard it, I thought it was strange to use the term "quit" as if people have resigned from a job. People "quit" when they hate their jobs. The question to ask now is whether the people who listened to SM Goh and became stayers are better off than the quitters who rejected his wisdom. Those who left 10 years ago emigrating to countries without the benefit of PAP leadership must be living in utter misery - after 10 years of poor leadership, their lives must be a total disaster. Now you can see the importance of having a 1st world govt that deserves its top salary.
.
If you look at the pattern of emigration, you can tell that these Singaporeans are not so smart. Their first mistake is to leave Singapore and their 2nd mistakes is to go to countries with societies that our leaders have been warning us about. It was reported by the Canadian govt that about 26,000 Singaporeans have applied for economic visa for PRs (+ family visa the number should be about 40,000) including applications to Australia, NZ, Britain, USA etc we are talking about more than a hundred thousand who have applied to leave, and every other person is thinking of leaving the country. ...and they like to go to countries where there is welfare, democracy, freedom, human rights and all the things that is not good for Singapore. Not only that, they are willing to pay the 20-30% income tax in those countries to support the system. It is obvious the people emigrating from Singapore are really not the smartest citizens, they seem unable to appreciate what our outstanding govt has done for them so they are heading for trouble.

Looks like the PAP isn't going to do much about people leaving. I guess they have done their utmost to explain why people should stay put and have more children- but if people still want to leave, there is little the govt can do. What the PAP has done to solve the problem of Singaporeans not willing to have children and leaving Singapore is to import people from Vietnam, China and India to make up for the loss. It is not too hard to convince someone from Vietnam where the people earn less than half the wages in China that coming here will improve their economy well being tremendously. Ready made citizens from Vietnam will save the govt a lot in terms of incentives they have to give to highly stressed Singaporeans to have more children.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Human Rights and Maids....

In the past weeks Singaporeans have been told that human rights are not important. We should not be too "religious" about it. Our esteemed MM explained promoting human rights is all a conspiracy by Westerners "to do us in". Singapore has a lot to be proud of, our high tech airports, magnificent buildings, modern infrastructure and gigantic reserves. Our success is clear for all to see, yet Westerners keep harping on our human rights record.

Human rights has become a ‘religion’ that breeds devotees who border on the fanatic.It would be ‘hypocrisy’ for such people to decide what is acceptable for the rest of society.” - AG Walter Woon.
.
Over the years ...43 years to be exact, our govt has urge us not to be too concerned about human rights, just focus your energy on making money. What is the big deal about jailing a handful of Singaporeans for speaking in public? They are out to harm our society anyway so why bother...not everyone deserves rights . Yes, I'm so glad that after4 decades of PAP rule there is little interest among Singaporeans in human rights.

"All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood."
—Article 1 of the
United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR)[2]
.
I'm quite sure that our society has progressed so much with the advanced system of govt the PAP has put in place that human rights are no longer important. Just look at the way Singaporeans treat their maids.


I want to urge the courts to show more clemency to people who abuse their maids because they have been told that human rights are not that important in our society and over the years they have been conditioned to ignore the more than occasional violation......It is therefore no surprise that some people would go overboard in their treatment of maids. If we don't believe wholeheartedly and without compromise that all human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights, then we shouldn't be surprise that some people like members of the opposition and maids are treated without dignity in our society.

"Singapore reject maid's day off" - BBC March 2006.
.
"Singapore refuses to grant maids mandatory days off", AFP 26 May 2008
.
Our lack of concern for human rights has made our society is very tolerant...... we tolerate huge and growing income disparity. This economic equality has spilled into the wages of our maids....we pay them the lowest wages in the world.... $250, they come here to one of the highest rates of abuse and that says a lot about the type of society we have. They say treat others the way you like to be treated - how would you like to work for $250 a month without a rest day.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

MM Lee: There is a conspiracy against us!



I would like to warn my fellow Singaporeans of this conspiracy to undermine our success by western organizations. The recent IBA criticism of Singapore's judiciary is part of a larger conspiracy "to do us in". Instead of studying the great success of Singapore and learning our secret formula for never-ending GDP growth, these westerners are trying to pollute our minds with human rights, freedom of speech and democracy, inferior concepts from western civilization.

"Human rights groups are simply like religious evangelists - they believe they are helping to bring a good thing to a country that does not have it"
- Chua Lee Hoong, Straits Times, Think Aloud 12 Jul 2008.
.
"If human rights is a religion, it isn't PAP's religion...." - Lucky Tan.

These western interests are trying to promote human rights and they do it with a religious enthusiasm. Hey what does human rights have to do with the well being of our society? Who needs it? Come on, why are these western institutions on getting our back about human rights?

"All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood."

—Article 1 of the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR)[2]


"Ya..ya who needs all these things when you have the PAP to tell you what to do...."
- Lucky Tan


I believe these westerners are jealous of our success and accomplishments and are out to sabotage us. We did not let human rights hinder us to reach this level of success. If we had human rights in place would we be able to get rid of those harmful opposition members so easily? If they're given the right to speak in public spread their poisonous ideas would we be able to convince Singaporeans that the PAP works for their interests and is the best govt they can ever have? What kind of progress who we have if we have to treat everyone equally, give them the right to speak up and protest, and allow them to choose whoever they want to be their leader? You can be sure our society will be very different if we do that. If our people are empowered, will they be willing to work without medical benefits, without retrenchment benefits and without minimum wages, until they are 70 yrs old...quietly accept all the fee/fare/GST/ERP hikes.......surely our success as Singapore Inc would have been undermined.
.
The best thing for Singaporeans is to shut their minds to what the outside world says about us. We can reassure ourselves with the help of Straits Times and journalists like the Chua sisters that Singapore has been on the right track. You have to believe that our MM Lee has developed a workable system with leaders whose integrity cannot be questioned/ They're chosen by an rigorous selection process for us that will help to preserve the status quo. When the next elections come around, remember that is to show support for the upgrading of your HDB flats.

--------------------------------------------------------------
There is a conspiracy to do us in, says MM Lee

Minister Mentor rebuts human rights groups' criticism of Singapore
By Sue-ann Chia
ROBUST REBUTTAL: Mr Lee at the Economic Society of Singapore dialogue during its annual dinner last night, which was moderated by editor-in-chief of SPH's English and Malay Newspapers Division. -- ST PHOTO: LIM WUI LIANG

MINISTER Mentor Lee Kuan Yew last night dismissed human rights organisations' criticisms of Singapore's style of governance, saying that they were trying to 'do us in'.

In a robust rebuttal of these groups' assertions that Singapore is not a liberal democracy, he said that they had never run a country and did not know what was needed to make Singapore tick.

'There is a conspiracy to do us in. Why?... They see us as a threat,' said Mr Lee at an hour-long dialogue during the Economic Society of Singapore's annual dinner.

Explaining why these groups regarded Singapore as a threat, he said it was because they saw that the Russians and Chinese have been coming and studying Singapore's success story and picking up pointers.

The leaders of these countries ask 'how does this little country with so little talent keep its ruling party in place and run a tight ship, honest, and effective, and make progress?'

'Can they (the Russians and Chinese) do it? I don't know. But they are picking up points here and there.'

INTEGRITY, HONOUR

'That integrity and the sense of honour and anti-corruption has remained a characteristic of the PAP till today...
... more
Mr Lee was responding to a question on whether Singapore needed a Western-style liberal democracy to succeed.

He said groups which advocate the need for liberal democracies were prescribing universal rules for the whole world.

But he threw down this gauntlet:

'My question is to them, have you ever run Singapore? Do you know how we got here? What were we? What we are now? And how we can become better?

'We are not stupid people. They give us all these advice... Who are they? Have they ever run a country, created jobs for community and given them a life? We have and we know what it requires.

'Nobody (who) advocates this has any idea what they will do to a society if you implement these rules.'

Mr Lee believes each country will have to decide which political system suits it best.

'Different people have different cultures and forge different consensus and seek different solutions to their problems,' he said.

But he was also quick to acknowledge that the People's Action Party (PAP) will not always have the answers:

'I'm not saying the PAP government will always be supreme, will always be honest, will always be A-plus.

'The day it is no longer honest, it should be out. And another party should come in, with equally honest people.'

Turning to the opposition, Mr Lee said:

'We are not trying to block them. We are trying to force them to collect a group of people equal in competence...When we fail, they have a team that can take over.

'But unfortunately, they can't do it. Because the people with ability, drive, ambition and energy don't want to come into politics. If they wanted to, they will join us (the PAP).'

For Singapore to continue to succeed, it needs to find the next generation of top notch leaders.

Mr Lee said the present generation of leaders could last at least two terms.

But if they did not find talented people with the drive and energy and integrity to match the demands of the job during this time, 'then I say, the future is in doubt'.

'The system is there, but it cannot run with mediocre men. You need top men.'

The PAP has managed to recruit good people and its leaders had, in turn, won the trust of Singaporeans through their integrity and honesty - values which the PAP still holds true today.

He said the task of finding new leaders is no longer his:

'I've done my job. I've passed it on to the next generation. Chok Tong has passed to the next generation.

'If you have a competent team on board, honest and dedicated, it will last. If you have bums, then even with best of institutions, it will fail.'

sueann@sph.com.sg

Friday, July 04, 2008

ERP, Socialism,Capitalism, Crisis, Obama, Change

In my blogger page, I have about 15 half written articles on various topics which I didn't finish because I couldn't get to a sensible conclusion.
.
Somehow the recent ERP hikes set off a chain of thought that strung together a set of diverse ideas to form a big picture. ..ERP ..... "Every Road Pay". ERP is one of those great innovations that changed our lives. Only Singaporeans get to enjoy ERP because no other govt in the world has been able to implement such a scheme because they are guaranteed to be thrown out of office if they do. So while other govts struggle with other schemes such as "park & ride" or "car pooling via car pool lanes", Singapore has this powerful solution - the ERP. Whenever, the speed of vehicles on the road slows, the govt simply has to up the ERP rate and magically congestion disappears. You can be sure any other govt visiting will be in awe of this wonderful solution. The govt has cleverly used the basic idea in economics that demand falls when you raise prices to solve our traffic problems. The statistical results are just great, after a few weeks of whining, Singaporeans actually change their driving behavior in response to the rate change and wahlah! magic the roads become smoother. The govt tells us that the ERP is family and business friendly because business save time and money when the roads are less congested....so far so good....


"Our wants are unlimited but our resources are limited...." - Economics 101.

Our little island is now so crowded, our roads have become scarce resources and the way to allocate it is via a pricing mechanism. Same with taxis - the solution to long waiting times for taxis was to raise taxi fares until some people like myself give up taking them. There is a very capitalistic nature to the way things are done in Singapore - if you have money and can afford it, you get to use the road during peak hours even if you're on your way to relaxing game of golf. The people priced out by the recent hike could be the struggling lower middle class father rushing to work after sending his children to school. With the recent hike in electricity tariffs, children in poorer families may have turn off their reading lamps earlier while someone else uses the electricity to power the multicolored lights in his fish tank 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. I'll come back to capitalism a little later....


"To each according to his needs...." - leftwing mambo jambo.
.
"Even if the chap is lazy?" - Lucky Tan
.
In 1957, the industrial output of the Soviet Union exceeded that of America, they sent the 1st man into space and their sporting achievements were the envy of the world. Many Western journalists visiting the country reported that poverty had been eradicated, the people's basic needs were all met and that the Moscow subway station had chandeliers, murals and marble flooring - for the masses to enjoy. The Russsians managed to get socialism working under its communist system. Suddenly capitalism had competition....
.
"In 1976 the PAP resigned from the Socialist International, after the Dutch Labour Party had proposed to expel the party " - Wikipedia.
.
Capitalism performed best under competition from socialism. While preserving the key features of capitalism, western societies begin to adopt important ideas such as worker's rights, welfare and empowerment. Workers were allowed to have unions, they were given pension, decent wages and plenty of power to negotiate. Paul Krugman looked at the 1950-70s closely in his book The Great Unrevelling how the middleclass swelled and the quality of life improved for working class Americans.

Communism and together with it socialism began to fall apart in the 1980s. The problem is you can't keep the economy going without private ownership, the productivity of a society under socialism will decline, resources are misallocated and unless you have alternate sources of wealth like oil money (example Libya or Venezuela), your standard of living will decline. That is what happened to the Soviet Union and it went into a long decline and eventual collapse. With communism out of the way, Capitalism triumphed and all the "modifications" removed - unions were dismantled by both Regean and Thatcher, deregulation and privatization started to take place in many industries. Capitalism gradually became unbridled...wage gaps started to rise.

Here's a good explanation about how income gap increased and the middle class shrunk by economist Krugman:



Economist Ravi Batra explained that wages form the demand in an economy and when wages don't catch up with productivity, the demand will fall and there is excess capacity. This problem was delayed by the expansion of consumer credit which allowed Americans to spend "beyond their means". In the past 20 years, corporate profits as a % of GDP in many countries kept increasing along with the household debt levels. Right now we are seeing the crisis of capitalism as the subprime mess and consumer slowdown threaten to plunge America into a deep recession.
Singapore leaders to make sure we are not left out of the money making machine adopted all the "good" practices - workers benefits such as retrenchment benefits, pensions, medical etc were removed. 20 years ago if you worked in a govt department, you would be entitled to pension and full medical benefits today all these are removed for the lower ranking civil servants but the PAP govt retained it for the elites. The PAP did even better than the Americans by importing foreign labor which puts further pressure on wages especially for the poorest Singaporeans. With all this, we were able to achieve the highest GINI coefficient (which measures income inequality) among developed Asian economies.

Ordinary Americans under the great economic strain find Obama's message of "shared prosperity" and "fair wages" highly appealing:



.
It remains to be seen whether Obama will win and bring about change. But the hope of change alone is enough to drive Americans to support him because they feel they cannot continue with the system as it is.

The imbalances in the global economy are now coming to a head. The Marshall Islands declared a state of emergency because the impoverished nation can no longer afford to electricity due to high oil prices. Food riots are occurring everywhere as the price of food soars. Inflation is exacerbating the effects of income gap. Precious resources allocated to those who have money rather than those who need it. Here in Singapore we embrace capitalism to created an affluent society - or rather a city so expensive only the affluent can live comfortably. When Minister Mah Bow Tan was recently asked if the petrol tax can be reduced given the pain due to rising petrol cost, his reply was very simple - if you can't afford to drive, drive less or take the public transport....driving is for those who can afford it. He didn't ask the person why he needed to drive. It didn't matter what his needs were ....maybe he needed the car to drive his sick mother for medical treatment everyday. So much for the socialist heart......


"The island state has become a rich oasis with pockets of rising poverty, where the homeless sleep at void decks or beaches. Workers in their 60s or 70s clean toilets and sweep floors, instead of enjoying their retirement with grandchildren as is befitting the world’s seventh richest nation (in per capita GDP)."

- Seah Chiang Nee in his latest article Poverty Looms in the Isle of Riches

20% of Singapore workers earn less than $1200 per month and among this 20% half of them earn less than $900 per month. One in 5 Singaporeans hopelessly poor on our affluent island. When you're poor in Singapore, there is no escape. If you're poor in Kuala Lumpur , you take a bus to Penang or Selengor where they still sell bananas at RM$0.30 per bunch. If you're poor in Tokyo and cannot stand it, you can leave and go to one of the many perfectures where the price of a home is the cost of building a home. Here in Singapore when youi're poor, you cannot run from price hikes, ....there is no escape from this PAP paradise ( a paradise for PAP leaders?) ....


"Unbridled capitalism, winner takes all like in America, does not work unless you can cope with an underclass." - MM Lee, BBC Interview May 08.



If America, which has high taxes for the rich, gives out unemployment benefits, low income schemes for basic necessities such as water & electricity, food stamps, minimum wages, independent unions and the right to protest any injustice, is practicing unbridled capitalism....what kind of capitalism is Singapore practicing with 70 year old cleaners, jobs that pay wages so low a families cannot even afford basic necessities, controlled unions and leaders who after elections enhance their own salaries which was already the highest in the world to match those of top corporate climbers? The PAP has sunk itself into an ideology based on elitism and authoritarian capitalism that allows it to tolerate this great divide. There is nothing meritocratic about President Nathan making more money in a day than a low wage worker in year - we have allowed capitalistic tendencies to infect our public service. The belief that people are being paid what they deserve within a system distorted by the influx of cheap labor from China & India, monopolistic GLCs, and redirection of opportunities and resources to a small group of elites is a myth. No 70 year deserves to be digging dustbins for aluminum cans for a living when a minister still gets his bonus after losing Singapore's most dangerous terrorist.

"The human being is an unequal creature. This is a fact. We started with a great propositions all the great political movements, all the great religions, all the great political ideologies say let us make the human being as equal as possible, in fact he isn't - never will be...."
- MM Lee (1969?).


"..to .build a democratic society based on justice and equality..." - Singapore Pledge


I too believe that not all humans are born equal. But consider what Buffett once said - if he was born on an island with tall coconut trees and wealth depends on how quickly one can get to top to pick coconuts, given he wasn't born with the genes to climb trees he would have ended up poor. While we are not born equal, we can create socio economic systems that don't amplify the inequality. Societies that rely on unbridled capitalism to allocate resources very often fall apart when the strain becomes too hard to bear.

“We are in a strong fiscal position and if any country in the world can afford to find a better solution to deal with this growing income divide, it is Singapore”
- Economist Yeoh Lam Keong.



If we're so rich now that can lose billions investing in troubled western banks and then dismiss those losses as long term investments, we should be able to provide a safety net for the poor and help the aged worker retire gracefully. If we don't do it now when we have one of the highest reserves per capita in the world and an income gap comparable to 3rd world nations, we will never do it ...and it becomes apparent that it is more important to stick to broken ideologies than to help suffering citizens...

Videos from a small country.

I found a series of very interesting videos about N. Korea in youtube. Made by a team from National Geographic following a medical contingent specialising in eye operations from Nepal, the video shows the life of ordinary people in N. Korea.

Part VII is most interesting.... as each patient had his bandage removed after the operation to see the world for the first time in many years....guess what they did...




Interesting methods they have to handle dissent (Part V). N.Koreans think their Dear Leader is great without whom the country would be destroyed (see Part IV).

"For me I had a privileged life in that society. But I don't yearn for it anymore. There is one core value which is missing there which I think is freedom....."

- Defector who was a former elite officer (see Part VI).

"As each (blind) patient regain their sight we were amazed to see them direct their gratefulness to their Great Leader...despite their hardship, He receives credit for everything that happens here. As I watched hundreds of people do and say virtually the same thing ("We praise you!") over and over again I wondered which people had genuine faith and which were acting out of fear....and finally it hit me...here after generations of absolute rule and complete indoctrination, there may not be a difference between true belief and true fear" - Lisa Ling (host in Part VII)

Part I

Part II

Part III

Part IV

Part V

Part VI

Singapore has Freedom of Speech....

Our govt has responded to WSJ's editorial "Democracy in Singapore" that totally misunderstood what is going on in Singapore.

You can find the response here:
http://online.wsj.com/article/SB121478977581714883.html?mod=googlenews_wsj

The main points from Mdm Yeong, MM Lee's Press Secretary:

1. Singapore has Freedom of Speech subject to our own Singapore laws.
2. Chees' court case has nothing to do with political freedom because it is a libel case involving falsehoods spread by the Chees.
3. Foreigners like Gopalan Nair and the foreign media should not engage in Singapore politics.

I fully agree with Mdm Yeong, once again the wisdom of our ways has triumphed over the foreign media and their hidden agenda to spread their faulty Western style democracy to Singapore.

Singaporeans certainly have freedom of speech as long as they don't defame our leaders or speak in public without a permit or insult civil servants. Freedom of speech subject to Singapore laws is still freedom. I guess the N. Koreans also have freedom of speech subject to N. Korean laws.

CSJ and his sister's case has nothing to do with political freedom. The Chees are such vile people, they are in court for making false claims against our esteemed leaders. As I recall the Chees said that our leaders are like the people who ran the NKF. How disgustingly inaccurate and defamatory. The NKF was a charity whose head was awarded an extremely high salary, squeezed the kidney patients for higher than needed payment for dialysis while building an enormous reserve from charity shows and suing critics for defamation.

All these defamation lawsuits have nothing to do with political freedom but people making false claims against our leaders. You can see clearly from all the cases that they have nothing to do with political freedom:

1. Tang Liang Hoong - bankrupted to the tune of $5M . See Tang was called a Chinese chauvinist by our leaders and he denied that insinuating that our leaders are liars.

2. JB Jeyaratnam - sued..over and over again. His last case was explained in wikipedia:

"..... eleven defamation suits were filed against him for saying the following words in one of the election rallies: "Mr Tang Liang Hong has just placed before me, two reports he has made to the police against, you know, Mr Goh Chok Tong and his people". Goh Chok Tong alleged that his "reputation, moral authority and leadership standing have been gravely injured both local and internationally" - Wikipedia.

You can see for yourself that these cases have nothing to do with curtailing political freedom and everything to do with false claims these dishonest men have made against our leaders. It has nothing to do with politics so I would like to caution all Singaporeans - you have the freedom to criticise the PAP govt subject to laws. Remember that if the PAP govt tells you something is good for you, you better believe it...and if you don't you should not say so. Because if you say it is not good, you're calling them liars and you risk getting sued. The correct way to engage our leaders on policy is to ask questions:

"I would like to understand how will the GST hike benefit Singaporeans?" rather than "I don't believe the GST hike is needed" or "The GST will hurt the poor." which insinuate that our leaders are liars....since the PM himself said it was needed and meant to help the poor.

I'm glad MM Lee's Press Secretary wrote in to correct the views of WSJ readers on the freedom of speech and political freedom in Singapore. Singaporeans are silent not because of a lack of freedom but because they trust their leaders. The govt of Singapore works for the interest of Singaporeans and to say otherwise is considered defamatory. The Singapore govt is efficient, honest, transparent and leads Singapore towards the ideals in our pledge - justice, equality, democracy......to say otherwise is defamatory...

------------------------------------------
Two Views of Freedom of Speech and Law in SingaporeJune 30, 2008;
Page A12
Your editorial ("Democracy in Singapore," June 26), relying on a "partial transcript," has misunderstood the issue in the libel case involving Dr. Chee Soon Juan and his sister.
The case had nothing to do with political freedom. It was for defamation arising from the Chees' false claims that Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and Lee Kuan Yew are criminals and corrupt. Despite being advised by a Queen's Counsel, they failed to produce any credible defense or evidence to back up their claims.
.
Having lost, Dr. Chee in open court then called the Singapore leaders "murderers, robbers, child molesters" and "rapists." The Chees also rebuked the judge, ignored her orders and shouted her down. In Ms. Chee's defense, her lawyer could only claim that she was "almost paranoid." This is why the judge sentenced the Chees to imprisonment for scandalizing the court.
.
Many opposition politicians routinely criticize government leaders, but are not sued because they have not uttered slanderous falsehoods. Contrary to your editorial, Singapore upholds free speech and the right to disagree, subject to the law.

Singapore's laws must be decided by Singaporeans, not by foreigners like Gopalan Nair, who is a U.S. citizen, or by the foreign media. Foreign media are entitled to report and comment on what is happening in Singapore, but they circulate here subject to Singapore law. They have no right to defame, to give a skewed account of court proceedings, or to engage in Singapore politics, for example, by campaigning for their version of Western style "democracy" for Singapore.
.
Yeong Yoon Ying Press Secretary to Minister Mentor Singapore
-----------------------------------------------
....another WSJ reader writes.....

Thank you for bringing the pitiful and shameful court proceedings in Singapore to Journal readers' attention. We citizens of the U.S. often take our freedom of speech, press and assembly for granted; and at times we assume that such rights are free.
Especially in the electronic age and with tools via the Internet and blogs, the power of true freedom in self expression is to be valued and needs to be protected by all citizens of this world. Thanks for sticking your neck out on our behalf.
Andrew T. Cheng New York