Featured Posts

<< >>

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

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”

fp01

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 – All that fuss about the CPF

I read this recently. If I understood it correctly, the entire premise of that post seem to be that the so-called “Roy Clique” is detrimental to the opposition and that it will sort of deter the middle voters which have in recent years drifted towards voting for the opposition camp. If not, it suggest that this clique will actually draw the rabidly anti-PAP crowd towards them and thus would hurt the moderate parties which have chosen a less confrontational path in their politics.

I can’t tell the future so I cannot say it will not turn out the way as the author of this post has predicted. However, for those who are “ABP” (anything but PAP), it really doesn’t matter whether an opposition party will ride on the coattails of the “Roy Clique” or not. Any opposition party will get their votes, which typically made up about 25 ~ 35% of the total votes. I will not be surprised that certain opportunists may capitalise on the CPF issue in the next election to try and win votes, but the condition whereby a split in the opposition vote will only occur in a multi-corner fight. Should the ruling party thus win with a small margin and less than 50% of the votes cast in such a situation, then instead of pointing fingers at who has divided the votes and caused the electoral defeat, the opposition parties should sit down and reflect upon their own political discourse and evaluate why it has not drawn the other voters towards them. They will have to make themse;ves stand out among the rest. The Punggol East By-Election has demonstrated that an opposition party can stand out among the rest and consolidate the opposition votes in itself. I personally hope that isn’t a one time effect, but an example of a maturing electorate.

Back to the matter “advocated” by the “Roy Clique”. I have bothered with none of the CPF-related “protests” at Hong Lim Park so far. Does it mean I do not care?

No. I certainly have my own unhappiness about the minimum sum, and I am not particularly happy with the returns in both the Ordinary Account (OA) and the Special and Medisave Accounts (SA & MA). I certainly isn’t happy that we cannot withdraw our CPF in a lump sum in our old age. However, I do not see what the likes of Han Hui Hui and Roy Ngerng will achieve. Han and Ngerng can ramble on and on about the problems or the issues of confidence we have about the CPF, but what outcome are they expecting in the end? I am not asking them to propose solutions, but at the very least tell us what they believe is the best for us, and it is up to the million-dollar paid bastards to tell us whether they can (or cannot) do it.

Roy and his merrymen seem to want to convince us of a few “facts” – that a large part (or perhaps even all) of our CPF monies have been mismanaged and lost, and that we are short-changed in terms of returns. Contradictory in some sense, because wouldn’t asking for more returns for something that may already be gone make the hole even deeper?

As for whether the CPF monies are still there or not… I’ll make two assumptions. Firstly, assuming the worst case scenario where the money in the CPF (Central Provident Fund, for those outside this country who are not familiar with our abbreviations) is indeed all lost, then there can be only one outcome – i.e. the value printed on our CPF statements will not even worth the paper it’s printed on, one way or another. That also means whatever Singapore currency in your wallet and outside the CPF is going to be pretty much worth shit as well. If you don’t get it, that will be the result either because of the complete collapse in confidence in Singapore’s financial viability, or the Singapore government printing more money to cover the hole. In short, whether I liked it or not, it would be better to “live the lie” so some people can continue to draw out their CPF in parts during their old age instead of everybody seeing the value of their money gone.

Next, assuming that the CPF monies are still there (i.e. just invested and cannot be cashed out immediately or suffering a shorfall as a result of paper losses in investments), then the main bone of contention would be the minimum sum and why CPF members are not allowed to draw it all out in a lump sump.

We often heard that this is to stop people from messing up. But I disagree. From a completely selfish point of view, the main reason for this to be done is to avoid having to bail out anyone who has misused their CPF monies either through womanising or gambling, regardless how few these people are. Really, everyone can say I am good enough to manage my own money, but no one will stand up and admit “I screwed up” when they failed to live up to their word. It really doesn’t matter to me when people messed up their own lives, but there will always be those who complain that the government isn’t doing anything to help these people, and even advocate for the government to do something. For those who are all so noble, they can put their money on the line and pledge it to help those people. After all, it shouldn’t really concern anyone to make that pledge, if they believe everyone can be responsible to themselves and also live with the consequences of their own choices.

Back to some of the common complaints about the CPF, I have sort of notice that there are some things which are not very well publicised. They are unfortunately all on the CPF website for those who make a bit more effort to look. But really, more can be done to better inform the people about them. Here are some of them:

  1. It is not entirely true a person cannot get better returns with his CPF. There is the CPFIS (CPF Investment Scheme). While it is limited in its scope in what it can be invested in to make more returns, it is not true at all that there is no avenue whatsoever beyond the first $20,000 in the OA. The downside means the person will also have to take the risks that comes with the scheme, and it all depends on your risk appetite / tolerance.

  2. It is also not entirely true that the government has done nothing to help the returns of the CPF catch up with the minimum sum. The first $20,000 in the OA and then the first $40,000 in the SA & MA combined (i.e. the first $60,000 in all 3 accounts) pays an additional 1% p.a. on top of the current CPF interest rates. Consider the power of the compound on the long run. It may not be really a lot, but it is in my opinion baby steps in the right direction. We can all hope that the extra interest that is paid on the first $60,000 can be adjusted according to inflation, or that some form of dividends on top of it can be paid to our CPF accounts when the country is doing well.

  3. The minimum sum seems unachievable for all. However, most Singaporeans should be able to “own” a HDB flat, even for those who consider it a long-term lease. The value on that flat itself would probably have surpassed the minimum sum. While we cannot pledge all of that as the minimum sum, the fact most of us will still have a shelter over our heads which will allow us to cover one of our basic needs. Even at its barest, some of us can still rent out a room to make a small amount of money.

Before I end, I will point out that there will be those who doesn’t have more than $20,000 in their CPF accounts and thus not be able to get that 1% additional interest nor invest their money. There will also be those who don’t own a flat. This group of people is worse off than the lot of us who are unhappy about not being able to see all of our CPF money again. The next worse off group would be those in need, who can only look at the figure in the CPF statement but not utilise it. I have no solutions for them and in my case, whether I liked it or not, I need to have some alternate savings and make some sacrifices now. Hopefully when I am old, whatever I managed to save together with the monthly amount doled out from the CPF will be enough to meet minimum subsistence level.

There are also those of us who felt we have been betrayed and that the CPF system that we were once promised no longer serves its purpose. That may perhaps be true. But it is completely meaningless to whine about it. We can demand someone to make things better, but we still have to plan for ourselves if things don’t go our way. So for those of us who still can, make the best of whatever tools and means we have now to go as far as possible.

i Light Marina Bay 2014

This is the second in a series of backlog blog postings.

This event was held between 7th ~ 30th March 2014 at the Marina Waterfront.

As with any such events, there is always a crowd of people and it usually takes a lot of patience (something I truly lacked) for one to be able to get a shot of the installation without the usual annoying obstructions and hinderances.

Just like the Doraemon Expo, some of the other visitors can really drive a person who is trying to get a photo crazy. Some people can hog an exhibit (or installation) for many minutes trying to get their ‘perfect shot’ oblivious to the people around them. In one particular case, there were two cosplaying girls that were hogging one of the exhibits taking photos in various pose. Perhaps the drool from some of the lecherous mutts standing spurs them on in their display, but I would hope they would just get lost so I can get a shot and move on.

If it weren’t these idiots, then there are those who would obstruct the exhibits and check their photos after they are done. Common sense is sadly… uncommon. I wondered what happened to the traditional upbringing because my parents would often berate me for being a hinderance and inconveniece to other people. If they were children I would understand, but not so when some of these are adults. As if that isn’t infuriating enough, some of them even have the cheek to ask those standing around waiting to take a photo for them. Talk about rubbing salt on an open wound.

Anyway, enough of the ranting. Enjoy the photos of some of the exhibits and some of the sights in the area, though my lack of skills at photography really don’t do some of them any justice.

Travel Log: Doraemon Expo, Kuala Lumpur

It’s been some time since I updated the blog, and I am getting a little rusty at blogging. It had actually took me a bit of time to find the means to post the photos I have uploaded as a slideshow. The worse of it all there seems to be no ‘embed slideshow’ option in Google+ and it wouldn’t have been possible had I not found out from here how I can ‘sneak back’ into the old Picasa site to do so.

Well, Google… It maybe a great idea to buy Picasa and make that a feature in Google+ as ‘Photos’. But if you are going to throw away the good features on Picasaweb and still expect us to use Google+ Photos as often as Picasa – - – D R E A M     O N!

The following pictures were taken at the Doraemon Expo in Kuala Lumpur some time in February 2014.

Personally I didn’t really like Kuala Lumpur. The ‘neighbourhood’ where my hotel is at around Bukit Bintang looked like what Geylang used to be, lined with prostitutes in the wee-hours after midnight. In the day, the place seems to be way hotter than Singapore but that can be said for parts of Hong Kong too. If it wasn’t for the company I had, it would have been a really boring trip. Of course, the best takeaway from that trip is Dim Sum at Marco Polo Restaurant, and some of the local fare in the vicinity of my hotel. Perhaps if I will go back to Kuala Lumpur, it will only be to get myself stuffed with the good dim sum and some of the food there.

By the way, the Doraemon Expo has now moved nearer to Singapore. It’s just across the Causeway at Danga Bay and it will be on until 21-Sep-2014. So catch it while it’s still there.

On Roy Ngerng and Derisory Compensation Offer

I have ceased to follow much of the news these days, which is basically why I have stopped writing for quite a while. It is not that I no longer cared, but rather I believed that while some of the things maybe a concern there is very little I can do that would effectively influence or change it presently.

Lies, damned lies, and statistics

Mark Twain popularized this saying,There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics.” And that is the basically the attitude I adopt when presented with statistics. All the more so when someone presents statistics to make the government look bad. Or the government doing so to make the people believe it’s not really the case.

I am no fan of the government, but over my slightly more than 4 decades of living, I have learnt to be wary when someone keeps saying the things I liked to hear. Either this person really is doing this to keep everyone informed, or this person wants you to align yourself with his agenda. On top of which, anyone can paint a different picture with statistics but as long as that picture is not how the majority experiences it, then it is a lie. That is the reason why I read a lot of Roy Ngerng’s articles with a pinch, if not a bucket, of salt.

I am not surprised that Roy Ngerng has steadily gained a following. After all, the Internet is the last place left where anti-government views more or less flow unimpeded. Worst of it all the “state media” in the form of Singapore Press Holding’s (SPH) many newspapers, is generally not helping at all. The politically awakened, who are convinced that no truth can be found in our local newspapers, readily flocked to the Internet to seek out such information. Social media like blogs, Twitter and Facebook makes it easy for such information to be distributed.

It is my considered opinion that Roy Ngerng got carried away as his reach, if not popularity, grows. After all, the government has not actively refuted some of the things he said. For those who are rabidly anti-government, it further convinced them that there is something for the government to hide. Some believe that the government has refused to “join battle” simply because it will be exposed just like what happened with the cases on AIM, and subsequently that matter with the hawker center cleaning. They are utterly convinced that Roy Ngerng has found the government’s “Achilles Heel” and coupled with the stuff a Christopher Balding has been writing, they believe they now have the once mighty Singapore government “on the run”, or even “cowering in fear”.

On the contrary, I believed the government ignored Roy Ngerng simply because there is really nothing to refute even when I disagree with the justification for the CPF minimum sum. Similarly, I also think it is utter nonsense to argue that since the government has higher returns from its investments, it should give us all that earnings even when I agree that the returns on my CPF monies hardly covers inflation. My only peeve is that it is not fully explained where the rest of the returns has gone to. And I suspect I will never be able to find the right question to ask, much less get an answer to that. As for Minister Tan Chuan Jin’s assurances on the CPF, my thought is that he is right as long as those people who have able to withdraw their CPF money are able to get their money back regardless whether it is the full sum, or a part of it. In other words, your CPF is about as safe as your money saved in or invested with a bank. I believe I need not further elaborate on that.

Anyway, to openly refute Roy Ngerng would give him a bigger platform to air his views. Clearly, other than those who actively follows his blog or come into contact with those articles, the rest of Singapore are either blissfully unaware of all the statistic wizardry Roy Ngerng has employed to present a horrifying picture of the state of our Central Provident Fund (CPF), or that they don’t really care. As for what I think, my take is: assume the worst cases scenario whereby we will never get all our monies back, and make contingency plans.

Anyway, I am not surprised even Roy Ngerng believes that he has the Singapore government “on the run” when he foolishly drew comparsion between the Prime Minsiter and the City Harvest case that’s still being heard in court. I do not need to explain the implication of what he has written has finally provoked a response. To put it simply, there following four Chinese words will adequately explain Roy Ngerng’s predicament:

I understand this will hurt the feelings of a lot of people sympathetic to Roy Ngerng’s plight, but well I prefer to call a spade for what it is. Face it, blogger “Mr Miyagi” has pointed out that he has written more or less the same stuff Roy Ngerng has written about the CPF, but he has not gotten any letters from the Prime Minister because “Mr Miyagi” has not made any accusations. So really, let us bloggers not flatter ourselves. The People’s Action Party (PAP) really doesn’t care very much about our opinion on the Internet, even when it might affect the decision of other voters or even suggest how the individual blogger would vote.

~ * ~

Derisory

I almost laughed when I heard the term used on Roy Ngerng’s offer of $5000 for compensation. Perhaps Roy Ngerng should have offered peanuts, the golden kind that cost S$660,000. Get what I mean?

I personally don’t think the offer was derisory. In fact, depending on how much Roy Ngerng is earning, that amount might even be a very substantial portion of his liquid assets. If I was as stupid as Roy Ngerng to have made those accusations, I would even have offered a token compensation of just $1. I do so not because I want to insult the Prime Minister. I do so because even though I understand the Prime Minister is serious, I choose to believe he is a different person from his father. After all, why even offer me the choice of offering compensation and not just sued my pants off in the place?

How much does the Prime Minister expect Roy Ngerng to offer? Every cent in his account? And then Roy should sell his backside to pay an annual interest of 2.5% on that amount until he is 62? The Prime Minister should jolly well understand this analogy:

There are those who understand that the farmer has no choice but to go down into the mud to wrestle with a pig that kicks mud at him. The farmer will know he’ll get dirty anyway. But to expect the pig to offer gold in restitution, and then complain it’s derisory when all the pig had to offer is its vomit is some what a self-inflicted humiliation.

Spare us this charade! Just meet Roy Ngerng the old fashioned way ~ in the cul-de-sac with a hatchet. Neither this charade nor the old fashion way will endear the PAP to those who have already lost confidence in its ability to guide Singapore into a better future.

As for those who are giving the chap money to “fight the bully”, it is your money and thus no one could fault your choice in doing so. I have only this to say to you all: Roy Ngerng made his bed. He should sleep in it… alone.

Commentary – Fare Hikes & Little India

Seems like I have been blogging for a while. A really long while, because I have been lazy. But there are finally some things that compelled me to put down in wrting. Let me start with the fare increments.

As far as I am concerned, I am neutral about this increment split into two stages over 2014/15. However, it annoys me to see how the government controlled media tried to spin it as either as something positive and welcomed by everyone or that we are resigned to it. I get a little sick and tired when I see on TV the views of certain commuters saying – “I hope the increments won’t be too much.”. Thank you, you stupid feth. You made it sound like we accept fare increments as a norm when most of us really don’t. And many of us object to constant fare increments for good reasons and not because we are stingy about our money.

We all know (and not just feel) the traditional media is biased because we will never see on television the person who cursed and denounced any fare increments, or the person who talks about why he objects to the increments. The state of Singapore’s public transport certainly isn’t the rosy picture the government painted in spite of the S$1.1 billion BSEP (Bus Service Enhancement Programme). The spate of MRT breakdowns, and shitty train intervals constantly remind us the service of the SMRT remained deplorable. The waiting time of the buses too. So the Ministers for Transport, the ministries and the PTC (Public Transport Council) can quit trying to make us accept things as is, but really get down to do something effective to remedy the situation. If you are scratching your head wondering why we are angry, you might be better off finding another job where you know what you should be doing and why. Finding a new job maybe something the people of Singapore can help you with in a few years.

Anyway, I wouldn’t call this a hike. I am not against it because of the further concessions given to the handicapped, the elderly, the low income and to poly students. These are some of the things that I wanted to see since 2010 (or perhaps even before that). Above which, for some regular travellors the $120 monthly pass is good for them even though a friend has raised the question of how many people actually benefit from this. In any case, all these new concessions are way overdue. About damned time, you know?

The traditional media clearly tried too hard to give this a positive spin, and they have “overcooked the meat”. They should have simply make this as neutral as possible, but instead those who are dead against any fare increments regardless of the concessions are now provoked, and they now turn up the volume to remind everyone why they should object to the fare increments. I do not necessary disagree with some of their views. For example, one of my friends mentioned the formula to work out how much fare increment the PTOs (Public Transport Operators) will get has something to do with wage increments. It seems like by default PTOs are now entitled to fare increments as long as wages have increased acorss the board. Too bad for those who got zilch for increments over the last few years.

Now try and imagine how the average worker feels about that when they are repeatedly told that their wage increments are tied to their productivity! The fare increment formula is completely absurd because I am also in the opinion that the transport operators’ exisitng profits are enough to pay for the additional concessions. That alone is the main reason why I am not for any fare increments at all. It doesn’t matter whether some of their profits are from their operations overseas. The excuse fares must increase because their local operations isn’t making enough money is completely unacceptable. Not only has our public transport not been catching up with the demand over the years, the service standards has gone way south. The regular breakdowns of the MRT, and the long waiting time for the buses continued to plague us remained to be fixed. One of my friends lamented that she is wasting her life away waiting for buses in a bus stop everyday!

That said, please object to the fare increments in good order. Burning effigies and spitting on an Ezylink card is not the way to do it. I certainly need not caution everyone on why we shouldn’t play with fire in our own homes, especially for those of us who lived in HDB flats. I also think it is really unhygenic to spit on the Ezylink card, not forgetting it is rather rude and unsightly to do so in the public. Where are we going to wipe our spit or phlegm from the card after that? Perhaps those who heed Gilbert Goh’s call can do so for a limited period as long as the chap promises to provide them a supply of clean tissue paper, and agree to pay on your behalf when you are fined for spitting.

Next, the so-called “Little India drunkard Riots”

I get a little sick and tired of hearing about how alcohol was solely to be blamed for the entire fiasco at Little India. But I’ll come back to that later.

First of all, we are repeatedly told not to speculate what was the true cause of the Little India Riot. I even seem to recall one of the PAP’s own back benchers got smacked down by the Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hian for bringing up the concerns of her own constituents. I personally won’t “speculate” what caused it but I agree with this ex-police officer that it could have been contained.

In any other country with a free press, the media would not only be praising the authorities on how well and fast it responded. While we should be glad no shots were fired and that bloodshed was kept to the minimal, that will not be the only thing we read on the papers. We will also not be hearing a pack of wolves howling a chorus from our highest offices in government that alcohol is solely to be blamed. Sadly, we do not hear much about the other side of the story. What other side of the story anyway when a number of them were simply deported without due course of justice?

Also, no one from the local media so much even visited the dormitories of the poor deceased man to speak to his co-workers. No one told us what his fellow workers think about him and such. Beyond that, no one talks about the treatment these workers are getting, such as their wages and working conditions. Oh, I guess that would be speculating that they are unhappy and their unhappiness being a reason for their rioting. I am sorry.

Yes, I am pissed off that a bunch of foreigners come and make part of my country a mess. That they even dared to create trouble to our peaceful “utopia” is an affront to us all. The photo of a police woman in riot gear makes me swell with pride, and another photo of police officer, bleeding from his forehead makes me even angrier with the rioters. A few of us even wished we were out there with these fellow sons and daughters of Singapore, to take back our homes and restore the peace we knew. Yet, this is where I can understand why the rioters did what they did, seeing their fellow countryman lay dying, trapped under the wheels of the bus.

I will not forget that we have build our city upon the labour of these workers. In some ways I would say, we build our nation by exploiting these workers who would accept wages that a Singaporean would be laboring in vain. While the perpetrators of the scene at Little India that night deserved our ire, the rest stood by and did not participate. Those who helped those in the ambulance get away, and especially that unknown hero who defended the lady which the mob wants to get to, truly deserved our respect. Much more, way much more, than the likes of brotosaurus-breath economic parasites like Anton Casey and some of those so-called “foreign talents” ever deserved.

I remembered one of the ministers once said if we do not want this foreign workers, we must expect that our living standards drop a little. I don’t know whether it is a warning, or a threat. But this is my response, I would rather I live in a little less luxury, and not build it upon the misery of another human being. No, I am not that noble. If I agree to treating another human being as nothing more than some kind of livestock, then one day I would be treated the same way myself. Call it self-preservation, if you will.

Now, back to the matter of alcohol. Finding a scapegoat is easy. But there is no way the government can find someone to blame in this case. It cannot say that the police mishandled the situation, because there will be denunciation of their incompetence. It cannot and will not say allow the speculation that the workers are mistreated and thus angry because that would make us focus on our labour policies and the Ministry of Manpower. So, alcohol is an easy scapegoat. It is a liquid that cannot talk back and cannot be brought to stand trial. Legislations can easily be made to control that “guilty, evil liquid”. And hey look! Our efficient government has taken swift, effective action to ensure that never again will this happened.

Yet, are the lessons learn? Or are they swept under the carpet with the hope that this unhappy episode will be quickly forgotten?

Singapore deserved better. God bless Singapore.