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Unboxing the Xiaomi MI-2

I am bad at writing reviews. So I will spare everyone the technical details and go into how I felt about the Xiaomi MI-2 instead. First of all, there is

Photos – Night at the Merlion


Went to check out the renovated Starbucks at Raffles City after dinner and half guessed I would met DK there since this was his favorite joint. So it was no

Short Takes

On the visit of Prince William and Duchess Catherine of Cambridge 3:45pm 12-Sep-2012A very “typical” afternoon in Queenstown WAYANG – a Javanese word for particular kinds of theatre (Wikipedia). During

Random Discourse – Journey of the West and Real Life

Typical portrayal ofJourney to the West In my previous post, I mentioned that it is of no surprise why more people seems unable to act, or simply refused to do

Commentary – Why I disagree with Kong Hee’s “theology”


First, let me make it clear that the opinion I expressed in the post below does not represent the opinion of any church. I write this knowing that I will

Review – HAME MPR-A1

Hame MPR-A1

To be honest, this was a purchase on impulse. For those who are looking for a technical review of the device then this post will disappoint since I don’t really

Nostalgia: Old Singapore Photos (II)

Clifford Pier

Fitzpatrick’s – No more in Singapore! Cold Storage… somewhere! Queen Elizabeth Walk Haw Par Villa Jurong Drive In Theatre NDP – 1968 NCO Club – Beach Road Nicoll Highway Botanic

Nostalgia: Old Singapore Photos

National Theatre

These came through an email from a lady friend I knew from Asia FriendFinder and I thought I should share it with everyone, since they are photos of old Singapore,

Random Discourse – GE 2015, the Aftermath…

On the night 11-9-2015 and the morning 12-9-2015, there were two very common comments among my friends “I don’t understand.” and “What the hell is going on?”

If those Facebook Messenger, Whatsapp, and Google Hangout messages were voices, I could imagine myself sitting in a control room trying to make sense of the voices screaming out in shock and disbelief.

Yes, I don’t understand either.

I mean, I expected a bloodbath for the independent candidates, the Reform Party, the People’s Power Party, Singaporeans First, the Singapore Democratic Alliance and even the National Solidarity Party. I don’t really expect big gains for the Workers’ Party and I had hoped for the Singapore Democratic Party to finally return to Parliament after so many years. I was even hopeful that the Singapore People’s Party may recapture Potong Pasir.

But I really cannot understand the “resounding slap” that was given to SPP, SDP, and WP. I am really angered by this. Why are we punishing the people who did not cause the current predicament, and are actually trying to help?! These parties have put up pretty credible and qualified candidates. I wondered how these people would have felt and thought after the post mortem analysis of the election results. What, is the message are we sending? Would their reaction be to “take off their sandals and shake the dust off their feet”, and never to return?

If so, then we are headed into a future that may perhaps be even more unbearable than we can imagine. One may say then it shows they have no fighting spirit, that they have no heart for Singapore. But a mid-30 percent vote is no affirmation or encouragement for people to come forth and serve or the present alternative ideas. It is like throw a bucket of cold water at someone who is full of enthusiasm, or sticking one’s own warm cheeks to the cold butt of a corpse.

Yes, just what the hell is going on?

In particular, Potong Pasir. It was like someone ripped my heart out. Punggol East simply gave me the impression that there are two standards of measure for hard work. The disparity between the affirmation given to Tin Pei Ling and Lee Lilian made me feel that way. So, no one should complain about the double standards and hypocrisy of the PAP, because Singaporeans apparently practised that themselves!

There are many speculations: New citizens voters, carrots like the PG card, people getting fooled by all that attack on AHPETC, or even speculations about people “doing their last bit” for the deceased Lee Kuan Yew. Or perhaps, they believed that the voters of Aljunied and Hougang should be the only ones to continue to shoulder the burden of democracy. I won’t speculate, because it really doesn’t matter. The die is cast, we’ll have to accept what comes.

When the result for Aljunied GRC is finally announced and that WP has managed to keep it hanging by a thread, the alcohol took over and I fell asleep slumped on my computer chair. It was a fitful sleep, and I woke up with a bad hangover, feeling like a part of me has died. Something angry and dark has awaken.

Singapore, to me, is no longer the same again. Henceforth, the recital of the pledge rings hollow. All that call for unity is bullshit. While in the past though I felt the National Anthem could not inspire like Israel’s Haktiva, at least I can be proud of it. Now, there is no pride either.

The Singaporean Singapore has died. Long live the New Singaporean.

For those who voted for the opposition and saw it getting trounced, it is time to ponder how we are to go from here. If you want to quit and leave, then go. There is nothing to stop you from pursuing your happiness elsewhere. Or would you prefer to volunteer for the opposition, and fight till the very end?

Before I end, I would like to add, as a friend has rightly pointed out, “The only surprise is when the complainers say one thing and do another. No conviction in their words. These are the Singaporeans I currently abhor.”

For those of you in this group, only you know who you are. I do not wish you ill, nor will I say you have lost the right to complain. But I’ll prefer not to hear you whine, because I will be ready to rub it in any time. Don’t be a pussy. If the 3 in 10 did not whine and just suck it up, then you have the least of reasons to. Just STFU… before I slap you.

Feign innocence and protest all you want, but there is a 7 in 10 chance my anger has found its target. If you unfortunately happen to be the 3 in 10, well… you know, I know, heaven know. Let us just swallow back our own sorrows in private.

Random Discourse – GE2015 at Half Time

We are at the half way mark of the General Elections 2015 (GE2015) campaign. And I do not like what I see, because as far as I know, there’s far little about what each party has installed for the future from what I gathered.

The PAP simply boasts about its achievements of the past 50 years, but is rather vauge on the plan going forward. Personally, I am sick of them trying to milk the legacy of the late Lee Kuan Yew. Enough is enough already. You chaps aren’t Lee Kuan Yew. PM Lee seems to think of the immigration and foreigner PMET issue as no big deal, and simply expects us to just “trust them” on it. That’s the cue that I should be looking elsewhere with my vote as well, unless someone can to my satisfaction account for CECA and why I continually feel like a minority in my country of birth .

As for some of the smallers parties like the Reform Party, the People’s Power Party, the Singapore First Party and National Solidarity Party, they simply continue to focus on public anger, and riding on the fat hope that they can ride that into Parliament. That isn’t so bad but some like the RP and NSP are clearly are doing a very good job doing themelves in. They probably breathed a sigh of relief that Lim Swee Say isn’t from the opposition. Anyway, Mr Cheo of the NSP, it is my considered opinion that motherhood isn’t a weakness, especially when you have a fellow single-mother in your party in a GRC team. The low TFR and women in the workforce these days made motherhood even more respectable. It simply isn’t something you should be joking about and my recommedation is that you should retire from politics along with Steve Chia.

As for the SPP, it was with great admiration when I saw Mr Chiam See Tong walked to the pulpit – even though with much difficulties – and make a speech. It was the symbol of a fighter, and yet also a symbol of all that is wrong with the SPP – the lack of new blood and a leadership renewal. Chiam will not be there forever.

While I can’t remember most of the speech of the other SPP candidates, Nadine Yap’s speech left a lasting impression when she talked about how some people who fall through the cracks are helped and that the government really doesn’t know everything nor does it have the best solutions for all the problems. If anyone were to tell me the opposition is out there to oppose for the sake of opposing, then Nadine would be my ‘poster girl’ to refute such claims. These are people who believed in a cause, and in making good something the PAP simply isn’t doing enough, if not doesn’t give a damn shit about.

The SDP is the only party who not only talks about the current problems, but suggest alternate policies. It is however difficult to make the electorate buy them even when they are the only ones who actually talks about a plan. They have a lot of people with good qualifications who speak eloquently. Sadly, getting the vote is not just about making good speeches but I still wish them all the best. Unlike what the media may make the SDP out to be, these are not some crazies and perhaps maybe the ones who will give to the younger generation of Singaporeans the Singapore they are looking for.

As for the Workers’ Party [WP], I am sick of listening to endless arguments over AHPETC and who is right or wrong. Let me just say this, I think all the clarifications the WP has done is good enough, but yet not enough. Let me explain why.

I understand the WP’s need to keep up with this, because not everyone is as well connected to the Internet and social media. Thus, there is this need to continually drum it into us. But it is still not enough even though I have already accepted that the state of affairs as is, and even viewed it as a set up.

It is not enough to tell me the manner in which AIM got hold of all the town councils’ computer system is much worse, and that the books at the People’s Association [PA] are in an even sorrier state. A number of us are already sick of the PAP’s hypocrisy and double standards and trust me there will definitely be a reckoning for that.

It is not enough because WP hasn’t shown itself to be better and different from the PAP, a party who never apologises and just tell us to ‘move on’ and simply expects we accept their often less than satisfactory clarifications. Show us you can do better than that, WP. A lot of us can see you are now doing your utmost to make things right in AHPETC, and things are getting better. But, tell the residents of Aljunied, Hougang and Punggol East, you are sorry you under-estimated the scope of the task you have taken over, because it was exponentially bigger than what you have managed previously in just Hougang SMC. Tell them you are sorry you did not do better and you understand their disappointment that you haven’t quite live up to expectations. Tell them their disappointment did not discourage you but instead inspired you to do better because you wanted to live up to their expectations.

Many of us will always be here to cheer you, because we all wanted so much for you to succeed.

~ * ~

Next, I am utterly disgusted that we have taken a step backwards in our political progress. It reminds me of the gutter politics in 1990s. It utterly offends me when Lawrence Wong and Sim Ann took Dr Chee to task for something that he has already been punished for. This is not the old days where we get all taken in by all that talk about integrity and moral greatness. It’s not like people from the PAP are all paragons of virtue. We all remember from the not so distant past, Michael Palmer and Choo Wee Khiang.

I suppose Sim Ann should know the legal and justice system was never designed to make an offender accept or admit what he has done as wrong. That’s the function of religion. Even though I am not even saying what Dr Chee is doing back then is wrong, I disagreed with and is offended by his methods. But Dr Chee has already been punished, and no one, much less Lawrence Wong and Sim Ann should demand more than a pound of flesh. How presumptious of them to believe they can ride the moral high horse and beat Dr Chee with this big stick!

Lawrence Wong might want to know I am not entirely satisfied with the explanation given for the grass used for the pitch in the Sports Hub. If both Wong and Sim wants to take others to task, then expect the electorate to closer scrutinise what they do in the years ahead, should they get re-elected. Do note, we will probably be about as kind to them as they have been to Dr Chee. Live by the very standards you demand of others, alright? I wouldn’t guarantee we would be as gracious to them if they have taken the same path as Mr Lui.

~ * ~

Lastly, I am not liking the campaign so far because I have seen at least two messages on social media that I object to. Take a look at the one on the right. While I am no fan of the Pink Dot movement, I am appalled by the depth some people go to distort the WP Manifesto (see image on right).

A wiser and calmer soul rightly pointed out: Repeal of Public Order Act only allows peaceful freedom of assembly by all citizens and does not mean support of Pink Dot event which takes place at Hong Lim park every year as approved by the authorities. WP will not be the government even if it wins all the 28 parliamentary seats it is contesting, only the PAP as the government can repeal Sction 377A of the Penal Code and enact laws to allow gay marriages. It maybe argued that it is actually the PAP who supports Pink Dot by allowing their annual event and also by openly saying that it will not enforce section 377A strictly unless the act is committed publicly. In fact, the civil service already take in homosexuals since the 1990s.

To add on, the accusation that the WP supports the LGBT lobby offends me on two levels. First of all, the above has only gone further to enforce the impression that Christianity is nothing but a bigoted religion of haters. How does this help to win more souls for Christ? I disagree with Pink Dot, but they are free to assemble and make their view known even when I disagree with them. I only expect the same courtesy in return. As a Christian, I remember that God has allowed me to live, when I was foolish enough to declare “There is no God!” in the follies of my youth. Shame on the person who attempts to slander and manipulate religious sentiments against the WP, simply to drive swing voters towards the ruling party. By serving your own political agenda, it wins Christians no friends in the secular world, and it hardens the hearts of those who have yet to know Jesus.

Other than the above, there is this message that was forwarded on Whatsapp (see below), allegedly sent from Sylvia Lim of WP. The sub-standard message itself would have given a bad impression of the WP candidate, and it was pretty clear that isn’t the kind of message the WP has been trying to bring to the electorate. The message actually contains some elements of what the WP and the SDP have put forward, and it suggest to me the person who put this up seems to want to bring the two opposition party into a confrontation. Pretty interesting to see why the other parties are left pretty much alone while the SDP and WP seems to get all of the ‘love and attention’

I am not sure how far and wide the message has spread, but for those of us who know how strictly WP has controlled media release, they would have been aware nothing of this sort will ever get onto any media without first appearing on WP’s official webpage. So if you see any more of such crap being forwarded to you, do not forward them.

~ * ~

By the way, I almost forgot… I dislike Han Hui Hui. I personally think she should get gainfully employed and not live on donations. If you shared my sentiments, that’s fine. But please do not go and harass her at her rallies. That’s unbecoming and rude, and it also flies in the face of the concept of a democratic society. At least give her the respect for having the courage to stand for elections. In fact, at one point of time the tic-for-tac responses between the PAP and WP over AHPETC actually made even Han Hui Hui looked visionary. At least, she’s keeping to her cause on the CPF. That determination in itself is something admirable, even when I don’t agree with her methods.

Random Thoughts on the coming General Elections…

【Warning】 Long winded post. tl;dr, or proceed at your own risk.

The things I am not particularly happy with in 2011 is more or less the same in 2015, except for the details on why I am unhappy. I’ll list them down in this blog post.

1 – Population

Click to Enlarge

The root of all the problems we have is the population policy, and I will divide it into 2 parts.

A. Foreign PMETs – The government can really stop trying to confuse us between foreign workers (such as the cleaners and construction workers) and foreign PMET. Controlling foreign workers such as waiters and cleaners may give us the impression that something is finally done, but it’s not going to improve the employability of Singaporean PMETs. We also need better “quality control”, such as verification of their skills and qualifications, and also to root out those who slipped through the fingers with fake qualifications or those who have inflated their value with degrees obtained from degree mills.

Singaporeans should pay attention to the FTAs Singapore has signed and ensure that none of the foreign countries make use of certain clauses as a loophole to get around whatever quota restrictions we have, or to force us to take in more of their citizens with threats of taking the matter to the WTO. Take for e.g. CECA signed with India or the CSFTA signed with China. I am not entirely comfortable with the “movement of business persons” clauses, in particular with CECA where 127 specific professions were listed. Just take a look at this Times of India article published some time after GE2011, whereby it reports that Singapire is expected to hire around 60,000 from India.

If the competition for jobs isn’t bad enough, all of these foreigners working in Singapore also strained our housing supply and our transport system. This year’s El Nino effect brought the water supply from Johor to its knees and caused our water purification capabilities to operate at maximum capacity. Where was the pre-planning for the current population? With this in mind, regardless whether the 6.9 million is a population target or just for the purpose of infrastructure planning, it would be a hard sell. Looking at the NeWater plant in Changi, it appeared to me that this kind of insfrastructure is pretty land intensive. Really, what other price we need to pay to build or expand the infrastructure? We already have MRT tunnelling below our central water catchment areas and a road to be built over Bukit Brown. This growth at all cost policy will soon come to a head, when population will not generate more growth but simply more competition for jobs, and good and services resulting in simply more depressed wages and higher cost of living respectively.

Citizenship – Male citizens of this country shoulder a unique obligation – National Service. Some paid for it with their lives. Meanwhile new citizens get the benefits without the same obligations. A 2-week boy-scout camp for some of them will never be the same as the 2 years our boys served. Furthermore, is it even possible to revoke the citizenship of those who first got jobs in Singapore using false degrees or inflated qualification claims? The criteria in awarding of new citizenship should be tightened. New citizen applications should be seconded by at least two existing citizens – in particular neighbours – before they are considered. Social partipations should have nothing to do with faux or semi-political grassroots organisations like the Residential Committee (RC). This will allow us to root out the likes of Yang Yin, who are clearly serving in those organisations with ulterior motives. Above which, there should be a moratorium on the voting rights of new citizens. i.e. just like a home owner cannot sell his HDB within 5 years, a new citizen will not be allowed to vote until 5 years later. Above which, new citizens should be allowed to keep their old nationality for up to a year, which will serve as a probation period. In that one year, any new citizens who are involved in a crime, or found to have been employed using falsified credentials should have their citizenship revoked, much like new drivers on one year probation lose their driving license if they are involved in an accident.

By the way, I am also seeing an increased number of older folks of PRC origins in many neighbourhoods. I hope these are not Permanent Residents but rather just folks of those foreign PMETs (or new citizens) on social visits. Otherwise, I do not see why we should be taking in elderly people when we have our own to worry about. I also do not wish to elaborate on my concern on whether we have an adequate number of hospital beds as I have not done any research into this matter yet.

2. Public Transport
I have so far by the grace of God not encountered any of the MRT breakdowns, even the very first one in Dec 2011. While some felt nothing seems to have improved much in spite of the money thrown in, I have really very little to complain about as I have found acceptable alternatives I can use to get around the MRT system every now and then. That was pretty much how I escaped the 7th July MRT shut down (or 7/7 shut down for short) of both the NS and EW line.

However, experiences by friends on that fateful day exposed a critical flaw in our public transport system. It simply isn’t possible for some of them to use an alternative mode of transport to get to their destination within a reasonable time frame. The other modes of transport – buses and taxis – are simply incapable of taking on the load. When one of my friend’s bus reached Stamford Road, it stopped at the North Bridge Road junction (near Raffles City) for the better part of half an hour or so without moving. The aircon subsequently was turned off, and it was so stuffy in the bus my friend almost fainted. (We later found out that the bus wasn’t moving because there was a massive congestion in the Orchard area.)

Meanwhile, I attempted to help my friend find alternative bus services to get out of the area. It wasn’t long beforre I realised there simply isn’t any direct bus alternative to the destination. The LTA clowns who removed many of the bus services many years ago has done a freaking good job. Everything leads to the MRT. It is fortunate that the 7/7 shut down happened in the evening and not when the people are going to work. Can we imagine lots of workers failing to turn up to work on time? What impact will that do to foreign investor confidence in Singapore? Have overlapping bus services running alongside the MRT lines, and let the public transport companies worry about their own profitability. If the current operators thinks that those bus services are not going to be profitable running against the MRT, then open it to private operators. Perhaps the demand will initiate a kind of evolution to our transport system as long as the government is willing to let them have licenses instead of trying to control everything.

That brings me to the harebrained idea about mobilising the SAF for crowd control for a private company when the trains break down. Did someone simply think this is a great idea because the SAF has this ready pool of free cheap manpower to call upon? There is already very little pride to serve National Service when citizenship is given away ever so freely to some who may not even be worthy. Train breakdowns can happen very suddenly and has anyone consider the cost of the logistics involved for the SAF to mobilise, and move the troops into place? At optimistc estimation, it will be at least an hour before the troops are in place. There will be a cost to ferry all those troops around and it is not going to be free. Fuel is a strategic reserve for the military so why is it wasted to help out a private company? That’s not mentioning whether the troops are properly trained to deal with angry commuters. And depending on how long the breakdown will last, the troops assigned will be stuck there until such at time when they can be released and then ferried back to camp. If the breakdown last from the early evening to 12 midnight, then by the time the troops return to camp it will be early in the morning. Has anyone then consider the impact to their training schedule the next day? When these private companies are constantly making record profits and happily issuing dividends to shareholders, while failing to reinvest into their core business to ensure reliability, then they should face the consequences of such breakdowns and the associated public backlash instead of having the national army come in and wipe their sorry asses.

3. Public Housing
The prices may now have appreciated more slowly with a slew of new flats released, but it appears that the quality and standard have taken a tailspin, if not a dive. How the hell did something that didn’t even meet SCDF regulations even get off the drawing board and built? How the hell does one swallow moving into a unit costing more than half a million dollar only to find parts of the home broken and needing repairs / replacement? Some might feel that all these units with faults are just a small fraction of the total number of flats rolled out, but let’s not forget, the little things we experienced before SMRT finally admit there was a problem with their system – such as irregular stoppages along the tracks, or the scent of burning wires permeating throughout the train. Do we need to have more faults with new HDB units before we admit there is a problem?

4. CPF
The ever increasing of the minimum sum is a pain in the butt. While there are now changes to system which allows members to withdraw 20% first, the ever changing regulations in terms of withdrawal at old age allow the craps Lor Neng Roy Ngerng write to deal more damage to Singaporeans’ trust in the system. More should be done to protect the value of money in the CPF against inflation. As a suggestion – even though the government is adamant that the money the GIC and Temasek Holdings use is not all from the CPF – give one-off special bonus to CPF members when those entities perform way better than the rest of market every now and then.

Above that, there is also the matter of the Medishield premiums. Now that even those with pre-existing conditions are covered and covered for life, why are we paying a fixed premium perpetually when claims are low? Is the system meant to protect us from high medical bills or to profit insurance companies? If it is the former, then it is my considered opinion that certain rebates should be given back to us – as a form of incentive to those who has been keeping fit – especially when the insurance companies are making profits from providing Medishield coverage.

5. The People’s Association
The lapses of the People’s Association discovered by the AGO aside, I personally have no idea what function does this organisation actually serve. In spite of the name, it is clearly not formed by the people, but in reality a sub-political arm of the ruling party funded by Singapore government. The same goes for Citizens Consultative Committee and Residents Committees under its umbrella. My opinion is that they are irrelevant and should be disbanded, in particular the CCC.

The reason being I am sick of having a candidate of the ruling party who has lost in the elections (or a potential candidate) unconstitutionally usurp or supplant the authority of the elected MP in the constituency, and even act as a tripping block to the running of the town council. This person should have no position and should serve in no capacity whatsoever in the decision of the running of the town – such as upgrading and the maintenance of the facilities, or even the setting up of seasonal pasar malams. There should be no reason why such a person is allowed to distribute flyers to residents to cause anger and unhappiness against their elected MPs, especially when the police would come down hard on opposition parties doing the same in constituencies with MPs from the ruling party!

6. Military Men in Government / as Political Appointees
It would appear to me that beside the juntas of Thailand and Myanmar, Singapore has a disproportionate number of high ranking ex-military officers in either government or what is perceived as political appointees in important GLCs.

I have very little confidence that more military men in government and appointed to companies like SMRT is going to be very useful and helpful at all. Personally, I am already not very comfortable with political appointees, and I definitely have very little confidence in political appointees without the relevant experience or qualifications. There should be certain KPIs set if the government wants us to believe these are the right people for the job, and they should be fired right away when they failed to meet those KPIs within a year. Also, anyone losing 30 years of a company’s earnings in a fraction of that time, or running a once respected company into the ground, should learn the proper use of a Wakizashi and writing their final haiku. Otherwise, there should also be claw back clauses and a legal avenue to prosecute them if they are found to be negligent, instead of having the nation pay for the cost of their failures one way or another.

So, the above pretty much sum up the things I am unhappy about, and the reasons why I would not consider giving the vote to the ruling party. That said, it is not a given for any opposition candidate. Very rarely an opposition candidate can get elected simply by riding on public anger over policies. The only exception where public anger helps an opposition candidate win, would perhaps be a result of incumbents who have either failed to perform their MP duties to the voters’ satisfaction, or is viewed as snobbish or elitist. That may was well be the reason for the SDP’s surprise wins in Ngee Soon Central and Bukit Batok during GE1991.

So, if the opposition candidate has nothing much better to say other than repeating above all these things I have written above, I am probably better off voiding my vote. Really, even some vague idea on how you think can make things better would help. In fact, regardless how I felt about the SDP alternate policies, at least they try. The SDP is far better than the jokers who keeps telling me to vote the incumbent out without offering me anything. Simply put, between what I have now (regardless how bad it is) and nothing, I will NEVER “give a chance” to nothing!

Random Discourse – MRT Breakdown

One of the most dreadful error messages for any first level IT support person to see may perhaps be: “unknown error”. It usually comes with almost no other information to allow them to start looking for solutions or to identify the fault. That might as well be what the technical chaps at SMRT are feeling right now.

Since I don’t work for the SMRT nor have any knowledge in operating a mass transit system, I couldn’t really say what the “fault” is. But as any keyboard warrior do I am free to make speculations about what I think could be “wrong” with it. First of all, the system was planned in the 70s and it went into operation by the mid- or late- 80s. It was planned for a population of 4 million at a point of time where our population is slightly above 3 million. The population today is 5.5 million which means proportionately, the MRT system is about 35% over-capacity. It would have been better if there wasn’t the effort to remove bus services which could have complemented the service. Heavier and over-loaded trains simply requires more power to move up to speed, not to mention an increase in wear and and tear of components – e.g. rails, and carriage wheels.

Next, replacement trains are heavier than their predecessors. Which means it also requires more power to move them. And finally, to increase the frequency, more trains are put into service with an upgraded signal system. That also means the system now draws more power than before. So, for a keyboard warrior like me, it was of no surprise that the power system “failed” and “crashed” the MRT system on July 7th with an “unknown error”.

But of course all of these are just my personal speculation, and I take it that the power utilisation requirements have been thought about way before the plan to replace the old trains and to increase frequency were put into place. If not, then someone really have to commit hara-kiri as this is definitely NOT acceptable! And whoever responsible can use the Padang for this public spectacle. We can all crowd-source for the money to pay for a top-grade wakizashi, even a $11,000 one.

Speculation aside, if the well-paid elites are going to expect some of us lesser mortals to live with this, then they should start looking at dealing with some of the issues that happened during a train breakdown regardless of a major one like the July 7th shutdown, or one of those disruptions between several stations. The reason being, there would be far less frustration (if not anger) when there are quick, and preferably equally cheap, alternatives to continue on our trips when such crap hits the fan.

For starters, bridging services only looks good on paper. But there is a lead time before the bridging service is brought into place to start serving affected commuters. Even when in place, it is not as efficient as the MRT itself because it is subjected to weather and traffic conditions. It is also a real waste of resources to standby buses as a contingency for a disruption. Those buses may be barely adequate for a localised breakdown at a particular section, but are there enough buses to service the entire line in the case of a major shutdown like the one on July 7th? Try and imagine if the big water pipe between Singapore and Johor had burst, and then we try to keep up with the water supply by running water trucks.

Next, the bus system is going to be overwhelmed. Everyone who has experienced a train disruption knows just how bad it will be because the buses running more or less parallel to the MRT tracks will be packed, and in some cases none of those may even be heading to the destination! On July 7th, every bus is so packed people has to step out into the bus bays to force buses to stop so they can board. I was told that even Orchard Road and Scotts Road were closed to traffic as a result of the bus congestions. Can we imagine if this had happened in the beginning of the day where a large part of the workforce cannot turn up for work in time? Or that this happened when we need to mobilise our NSmen to prepare for war?

We simply cannot have a public transport system where everything leads to the MRT. A friend who stayed near Sembawang had considered taking the Circle Line to Bishan but dropped the idea because there are no connecting buses from there to his area. The buses which are available are either at Novena Station, or further up at Yishun Station. Now tell me about that “an MRT Station too far” feeling. In fact, when the East-West Line came back online, it doesn’t help this friend at all either because even taking the train to Jurong East is meaningless as a quick check showed us that it takes a ridiculous 3 (three) different buses before my friend gets anywhere near home. Something has to be done to put the complementary bus services back, regardless of the profitability of the transport operators. If SMRT and SBS-Transit believe those routes to be unprofitable, then open them to private operators and allow those operators to charge a reasonable price on the routes.

Lastly, taxis. When the bus system is overwhelmed even the taxi system does not escape unscathed. The booking app gets timed out and SMS booking goes without response. It is not surprising since I often noticed that the cell signals hardly even stay stable at H+, much less 4G even when not overwhelmed. When large concentration of users suddenly utilised the local telco’s less than optimal data networks around certain locations, we will experience all the “first world problems” at one go, which only adds to our anger and frustration because we don’t even have a pressure valve to release our anger on social media. (I don’t even want to talk about apps utilising services like Uber, since one chap complained about his $124 fare after using it.)

Calling the taxi operator’s call center is even worse, as a caller is put on hold for long periods before an operator even gets to him. And after that, the caller may actually even get a “no cab is available” response, which means he has to go through the same process again.

Really, things are not pretty for us lesser mortals on the ground level. If the elite expects us to swallow this bitter pill of semi-regular breakdowns, then it is high time they consider giving us something soothing to go down with it. It is useless for both Minister Lui and the Prime Minister to be just “extremely concerned”. Because as long as the efficiency of the other components of public transport are not taken care of then they will constantly be facing howls of demand for hara-kiri. Or would they only wake up when things to come to a head where the pitchforks come knocking in the polling box?

Random Discourse – Amos Yee

The biggest news this week must have been the slapping of Anus Amos Yee. The slapping brings to mind something my father said to me a few decades ago before I was given a spanking:

Better I hit you today, instead of people outside.

I am sure quite a number of people of my age would have heard that when they are disciplined by their parents. It is old style disciplining and one that’s probably disapproved by many educators today. Many years later, I still have not fully comprehend that comment. I used to think that he meant to say that at the very least, he won’t beat me to death or that he will not beat me as heavily as a complete stranger. But this slapping has given me a deeper understanding – it would have spared me a public humiliation at the hands of strangers. I would have felt sad if my kid was beaten up by others in public. For people from my generation, corporal punishment seem to work. After all, most of us didn’t end up as the posterboy for someone to spit on, or to curse our names.

Regardless how we felt about Amos Yee’s cockiness or his attitude, and even if some may actually feel “shiok” seeing the chap get slapped, I believe most of us do not approve of the actions of the assailant. The public slapping is a great insult to law and order. Even more so because it was done outside the courts and to a minor. No one should be allowed to take the law into their own hands, or there will be a day people start killing murder suspects before they are sentenced.

Anyway, here’s a few things I have thought about this whole case:

  1. Some people said Amos Yee turned out the way he is because he is talented and he did not have the avenue to express himself and to develop his talent. He turned into what he is because of the way of Singapore’s education system is and what not. Seriously? Just simply because the chap has acted in some movies and got award for what he did? He’s hardly some kind of child prodigy or someone very talented. He may simply be very skilled in video making, but that’s hardly genius or talent. I have my own complaints about Singapore’s education system too, but this wouldn’t be the case for me to voice them.

  3. No one can help feel that the entire case was politically motivated even though it is spinned by the main stream media as a reaction to the impingement of religious sensitivity. My guess was that if the whole case was presented as one whereby a boy is charged for his less than flattering remarks about the late Lee Kuan Yew, Singapore would look rather stupid to the world. So well, it was more convenient to let the Christians take the “blame”. I was glad when a Christian counsellor offered to stand in as bailor (before he requested for a discharge of that responsibility) to show that Christians are not as vindicative as the media has portrayed us to be. Seriously, there’s enough of things for people to pick on Christianity, and Christians can do better with one less accusation about bullying or persecuting a boy!

  5. A particular opposition politician whom I chose not to name has even said that the slapping showed that it was politically motivated and in response to Amos Yee’s comments about the late Lee Kuan Yew. He asserted that because the person has said “Sue me! Sue me!” after the slapping definitely suggested that. Going by that argument, if the person was motivated in response to the comments about Jesus Christ, would he then have said “Cruify me!” instead? When my friend pointed out the absurdity of this politician’s comments, I had almost choked on my cup of 3-in-1 coffee. My suggestion to this politician… go put $30,000 where your mouth is, and offer to bail the chap out.

  7. I heard from a friend an exile had called the charges on Amos Yee an example of Singapore’s lack of Freedom of Speech. Really? I think there are better examples to use to criticise Singapore on this matter. But in general I believe everyone is always free to say whatever they want in Singapore, but there’s nothing to guarantee freedom from a reaction – such as someone pressing charges, making a police report or even throwing a punch. Those reaction maybe unwarranted, unjustified or even criminal, but it is the risks everyone must consider before opening their gap. Call if fear or self censorship for all I cared, but I ain’t the chap who is going to be the object of the reaction so go ahead and exercise that precious freedom. But I guess one can later seek donations online and then earn a vacation to a Scandinavian country after that…

  9. Lastly, it is my considered opinion that this whole case has been blown way out of proportion. When I consider the disparity in the application of the law on similar douchebags like Jason Neo and Amy Cheong, what Amos Yee has done was nothing compared to a particular Edz Ello. At least Amos Yee wasn’t cursing our entirely country or calling for us to be killed and taken over as a separate province of a foreign nation. Thus, Amos Yee deserved nothing more than a stern warning, and asked to publicly apologise. To charge Amos Yee while letting those two go scot free is in my opinion a great miscarriage of justice. That said, I was relieved to know that Edz Ello will also be charged, though why the main stream media isn’t following up more closely on that is beyond me. I was also understandably annoyed by the troll of a former Nominated Member of Parliament who actually called for the release of Edz Ello and the charges to be dropped while he called for the same laws to come down harshly on Amos Yee. With this level of double standards (if not gross hypocrisy), all I have to say to this ex-NMP is: Calvin-nabu kani-nabu la!

So that about sum up what I think of this whole issue…