Current Affairs – The Passing of Mr Lee Kuan Yew

When I woke up on the morning of the March 23rd 2015, I thought my radio-alarm had gone bonkers. The usual chatter of the morning DJs on the bilingual 883jiafm station was nowhere to be heard and there was music going on without end. For the next few

minutes I turned the dial on the radio, trying to get my familiar morning broadcast back.

After some time I finally heard a human voice. It was the DJ of one of the Malay stations. While I have no idea what she was talking about because I do not understand Malay, I could hear the terms Lee Kuan Yew, PAP etc. It suddenly dawned on me, that one of Singapore’s Founding Fathers has passed away while I slept.

Even though his death has been discussed, it still came as a surprise. There’s a number of us who had noticed that the vitality had slowly drained from the man after the death of his beloved wife. It was as if the furnace has suddenly burnt out, and the red hot iron within has begun to cool. Even so, a friend and I had wished that he would be able to there to witness this year’s National Day Parade, as we sincerely believed that he should be there to share the joy of the SG50 celebrations. It was with deep sadness, to know that our wish will never be fulfilled.

Regardless whether we hated or loved Lee Kuan Yew for whatever he has done in his life, there is no denying that he will be one of those who deserved credit for the Singapore we inherited today. We have inherited a Singapore we can all be proud of. It might not be perfect, but it is a place we can call home. A place where I can walk the streets late into the night and still feel safe.

I grieved for the lost of Singapore’s most famous son, and we may perhaps never see another one like him again. The only way we can honor his memory, is to take Singapore to even greater heights.

Rest in peace, Mr Lee. You have fought the good fight.


Random Discourse – The money in my CPF account is my money. Period.

Read this in a Channel News Asia article that got reposted one time too many on my Facebook feed:

In relation to the use of CPF money, we have heard proponents who say that the CPF monies is theirs. “It’s our money, it’s in our account, it’s our retirement money. I want it out, I will spend it anyway we want.” Fine. Is it our money? Our CPF savings are enhanced and forced CPF savings which are accumulated through our own deferred consumption, through co-payment by our employers and through top-ups from public funds. Is it really my private money? Do I have the right to spend it the way I would spend my own salary? I’m not entirely sure.

I know at the end of the day, that because I’m not the only person contributing to the fund, I cannot be the only person to call the shots as to how I am going to spend it. At the very least, I have a moral obligation to spend it wisely. Why do I say that? Because if I’m not judicious in my spending at the end of the day, who’s going to maintain me in my twilight years – the state? Who? Ultimately it means someone else is bearing it right, another taxpayer. So if I’m not judicious and I’m arguing this is my money, I’m not going to be responsible in my use and if I argue this is your money, you use it anyway you want – I’m not responsible as a citizen. – Nominated Member of Parliament (NMP) Chia Yong Yong

I can see the point she wants to put across – i.e. we need to be aware of the extra cost society have to bear when some people used their retirement funds irresponsibly. But if she wants to emphasize on personal responsibility, Chia Gong Gong Yong Yong has used the worst way to put it across and it completely drowned out the point she is trying to make. Really, she has no need to gild the lily (or what we Chinese would have said – 画蛇添足).

First of all, does it make the money in my CPF account any less my money simply because the employer co-paid part of it? As far as my employer is concerned, the current 16% they are contributing to my CPF is a part of my gross salary. Simply put, my gross pay (pre-CPF deductions) is actually 116% of what is stated in my payslip. So in reality I am actually saving a bit more than 31% of my real gross salary into the CPF. It is preposterous for Chia to argue that because a law makes the employer pay the employee $11.60 instead of $10 an hour, that extra $1.60 does not belong to employee when he only took home $8.

Next, it is ridiculous to argue that because there will be some people who are irresponsible in using their money, we thus deny those who are in need a greater flexibility in withdrawing their CPF Funds. Is she even listening to what the Workers’ Party (WP) was proposing? Had the WP been arguing for unrestricted flexibility in CPF withdrawals, she would have a reason to caution against it. But in this case, she should have just shut up and said nothing instead of pandering to the PAP.

Even if the WP had suggesting unrestricted flexibility in CPF withdrawals, there was no need for all that nonsense about co-payment and public funds top-ups as well. I have mentioned earlier the argument that the co-payment part is not my money has no feet to stand on. As for the top-ups, they are pretty much nothing but a drop in the ocean. In fact, I suppose some people wouldn’t care if they aren’t getting any handouts either. Sure, someone can argue about how much more some other policies directly or indirectly contribute to “growing” that money in the CPF, but realistically I doubt any of that money comes in the form of tax revenue bore by all taxpayers. In other words, I do get what Chia really wanted to say. But I would still say a big f**k you anyways for the elitist way she put it. (It really doesn’t help that this photo usually came attached with the articles linked to what she said. That derisory smile on her face almost make me want to smash her face in.)

~ * ~

It is my considered opinion that the NMP system should be abolished. Since NMPs did not contest in any elections, they have no voter support to lay claim and they are thus hardly democratic. All of the present 9 NMP seats should be folded into the NCMP system increasing it to 12 seats. NCMP seats will be assigned to the top 12 losers (even PAP candidates who lose). In the event the “losers” is from a Group Representative Constituency (GRC), the political party which lost that contest will nominate one candidate from the team to take up the seat. Hopefully, since they would hope to become elected MPs in the next General Election, they would exercise some caution in what they say. And even if they are ‘talking cock’, that would be far better than some unelected, nominated lackey who seems to be suggesting that some of the money in my CPF account does not belong to me.

Some clarifications…

First of all, let me say I did not send the previous article to The Real Singapore (TRS). It is my considered opinion that they would run afoul of the law sooner or later. I simply did not like the way TRS plagiarised articles, and stoked anger against the government and foreigners. It annoys me to no end that the post on TRS not only took a part of my previous post without my permission, it even looked as if I had sent my post to them!

Allow me some time to explain why I had mentioned that the Channel News Asia (CNA) article was deleted.

First of all, I found the link to the CNA article via a forum post. That was the only article from the MSM (main stream media) I could find with those exact words. The other links in the first page of the Google search results were all either pointing to alternative media sites, or to some forums. Since I am making a fuss out of what a minister has said, I decided it would be safer for me to point my readers to a MSM source. That is to avoid being accused of making things up or putting words in the minister’s mouth. As the original article was deleted, I decided it’s best to make it clear to the readers the link on my post was pointing to a cached copy. It’s the least I could responsibly do for the people who bothered to give their time reading my posts. Above which, as I object to any form of government regulation on free speech on the Internet, I simply do my part in being responsible.

As I also do not know whether Google would keep cached articles perpetually, and I am under the impression that the ranking of an article may change over time, I thus made a screen shot. That way, if someone chanced upon my post several years later and the link to cached copy is broken, they would at least have some idea without having to spend more effort looking up the source, if they even do so at all!

While I had noticed more than once that CNA had deleted articles on their website, I must point out in some cases the same content showed up in a new link or an updated and more detailed article. Unfortunately, I had not searched in detail on whether there was another article containing those very same comments. If anyone has found another article on any of the MSM containing those comments I would be happy to use that as reference instead, so that I can put this whole episode behind me.

Simply put, I DID NOT intend it as an accusation or allegation that the deletion of the article on CNA was politically motivated, nor am I making a statement about the ranking of Singapore’s media freedom. It is unfortunate that some have taken my post that way.

I hope I have made my intentions sufficiently clear. Thank you everyone for taking your time to read this.

Random Discourse – NS Pay and AHPETC

In a feedback session on Budget 2015 on Feb 26, Senior Minister of State for Finance and Transport Josephine Teo said “service for the country cannot be measured in dollars and cents” when one participant suggested that National Servicemen should be paid more. (Strangely, the article on Channel News Asia which reported this can longer be found online though a cached copy can still be found on Google as this post was being drafted. I have also made a screen shot of that article in case it’s purged fro Google cache.)

There is no doubt such a statement has got a lot of Singaporean men riled up. Anyone who just use the following terms on Google – Josephine Teo NS – will get a pretty good idea what most have to say on some of the forums. Even one of my friends wrote an blog post on it.

There used to be a time when government ministers has the aura of infalliability and invinicibility. Not any more when you look at the likes of Lim Swee Say, Chan Chun Seng, Grace Fu and Josephine Teo. They don’t even look ministerial. As I once mentioned to a colleague and friend, the end of the PAP may come not because that the opposition has become more capable. It comes because the kind of “top talent” the PAP managed to recruit simply failed to command any respect from the people, as the vote swing in the previous Punggol East by-election has shown. To paraphrase what I told my colleague back then, “It’s like playing chess or soccer. If you keep playing against those whose standard is not your match, not only will your skills not improve, it will actually start to deteriorate.”

So, instead of lashing out at Josephine Teo for being a woman and having not served NS, or ranting about how the Singaporean male lose 2 years of the prime of their lives bearing arms instead of climbing the corporate ladder, I would say this to her:

“Ask yourself madam, how is it that some have to sacrifice themselves for the benefit of the rest and yet become economically disadvantaged for doing so, while the rest gets to enjoy the benefit for free and even reap economic advantages from the sacrifice of those serving NS? How to even the sum?”

It’s high time the country give those who served reasonable benefits, when her own boss the Prime Minister justifies for the ministers’ very own “reasonable” pay. In the previous ministerial pay review in Parliament, did she tell the Prime Minsiter that “service for the country cannot be measured in dollars and cents”?

I doubt so. As a friend so rightly point out, the PAP’s slogan these days appears to be: “Practise what I preach, but not what I do.”

There’s a word for that – H Y P O C R I S Y.

And really, there are a lot of people who aren’t really anti-PAP. They are just anti-hypocrisy.

~ * ~

The matter of hypocrisy reminds me of that entire charade on the audit of Aljunied-Hougang-Punggol East Town Council. Don’t they have better and more important things to discuss in Parliament, for e.g. increasing the number of hospital beds, instead of wasting two days on an exercise to “fix” the oppositon? In fact, a friend said something to the following effect:

“The Parliamentary debate in the past two days made me felt like the Workers’ Party (WP) had caused the YOG to be 3 times overbudget, allowed Mas Selamat to escape, failed to prevent the two once-in-50-years floods in Orchard Road, lost millions of sinking funds in town council investments and yet asked residents to be thankful, allegedly moved tens of millions of funds in sham bonds to cover up losses, caused all the MRT breakdowns, failed to build adequate number of units to meet housing demand, and appointed the PM’s wife as the head of Temasek.”

Yep. There’s a lot of people who can see through the gross hypocrisy. I generally do not care much for the reactions from both sides of the political divide but when my friends who are politically apathetic start commenting I take note. When one of my most “bo-chup” (aka can’t be bothered) friends actually made two Facebook wall posts on this subject matter, there is nothing but pure joy to see that the “fixing” has thoroughly backfired even though the “Internet Brigade” was having a field day tearing at the WP.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I think the WP could have done better and avoided getting dragged through the mud like this. Much hope has been placed on Chen Show Mao but he hasn’t quite made a splash in Parliament, while my opinion is that Pritam has been a total disappointment. Even when I know it is the WP’s style not to be combative, I would say that the WP’s performance in Parliament hasn’t really meet my expectations, much less those who expect it to be more hard hitting when “slapping the driver”. Nevertheless, only voters of Aljunied-Hougang-Punggol East are writing the WP’s report card so it doesn’t really matter what I think.

It is much consolation that the WP did not enter into a slugging match with the PAP on which side has been much worse in not owning up to mistakes. When Josephine Teo challenged Png Eng Huat on that, Mr Png was wise not to bite the bait. Otherwise, its support of the motion in Parliament critical of its management of the AHPETC would have been nothing more than just hypocrisy. And that’s no better than the lack of accountability from the PAP itself.

I am also glad that the Auditor-General’s Office did not find any corruption. If the Law $in$ter Minister K. Shanmugam really thinks WP is corrupted, then the Prime Minister Office should immediately instruct the CPIB (Corruption Practices Investigations Bureau) to begin investigations immediately. Otherwise, just plain S T F U.

Frankly, the more the PAP keep at it, the more ridiculously hypocritical they looked. As for harakiri… there’s at least one person who should really have done that after Mas Selamat’s escape. And here’s the perfect weapon for him to do so, even though the honorable Japanese typically used the shorter Wakizashi to slit their very own bellies. And no, it’s not the person in charge of the detention center who should be slitting his own yellow-belly in this case.

~ * ~

【Addendum】A kind soul informed me that my post was quoted elsewhere, and the accusation of “deleting posts to protect their political masters” was made against Channel News Asia. Let me point out that there has NEVER any intention to make any such accusation against Channel News Asia. I unreservedly apologise for the misconception that arise as a result. See next post for further details.

Short Takes

Wow, I have written a grand total of like 4 posts last year. Makes me wonder where and what I have spent the time on. On reflection, I realised that the lack of impetus to blog may also be a little related to some degree of disappointment with some of the people who I useed to have political and current affairs discussions. In general, the personal sentiment is that it will make no difference if these people have their way with their choice of government. It will be more of the same since they are themselves intolerant of those who would dare to contradict them.

Regardless, here’s some short takes on what I think about some recent events to get back into blogging.

“SMRT Ltd (Feedback)” vs Xiaxue Xiaxuay

Well, I won’t comment on who has made a stronger case. But rather, it is pretty obvious that Xiaxuay isn’t going to come out on top at all. After all, all her past engagements were against people she has someone knowledge of, which thus allow her some leverage against them. But in the case of “SMRT Ltd (Feedback)“, just how does one fight someone with no real identity? We might not really know who Xiaxuay is, but there’s a picture of a pink piece of shit we can all put our boot to. But there is very little the general public knows about “SMRT Ltd (Feedback)”. What she is doing is like Polish cavalry charging with lances at Nazi Panzers. There can only be one outcome, and we are all waiting very patiently (and still waiting) for the Panzers to deliver the coup de grâce.

The rat problem in Bukit Batok

Well, I can agree that leftovers from stray dog feeding may have attracted the rodents in the first place. But that is not why an entire colony of several hundred rats flourished. Small amount of leftovers could not have sustained that kind of rat population. It is obvious that after being attracted to the area, the rats were later able to find an abundant food source which allowed them to “live long and prosper”.

Obviously, no one likes the prospect of that food source being identified. Residents will blame the town council and the MP for it, and in humiliation they will punish / fine the one who “created” that food source. Nevertheless, I suspect that residents have reported the problem for some time, but several smart alecks in different agencies and departments probably decided that it isn’t appropriate to utilize their budget to deal with, treated it as something outside their “jurisdiction” and just “pass the buck”. To put it in an analogy, it’s like a time bomb has been discovered but because no one is willing to defuse it, it is then passed around until it finally exploded in everyone faces. Sadly, even after that happened no one has the balls to own up and just say we messed up and we will do our best to clean it up. Instead, they find it more convenient to blame the stray dog feeders for the problem instead of finding a long term solution.

Meanwhile, rats are so common these days it’s not just a localised issue. Even so, it shouldn’t be a national issue, because crows and rodents are a big problem in every major city. To help solve this problem – leave no leftovers.

The proposed Sengkang West columbarium

Really, I am not interested if someone didn’t like it because of superstition or because it is going to affect the price of his flat, or that he is being short-changed (or conned) into “overpaying” for his unit because it was not what he thought a temple should be. In particular, whatever real life problems that a columbarium would bring, such as competition for car park spaces, road congestion etc also exists be it a church, or a school or even a shopping mall. Furthermore, temples with columbariums are not uncommon in Singapore. That is why in principle, I had originally objected to the complaints by some of these residents.

However, in spite of all that, some of the residents who are unhappy with it did made a valid point about the entity that was allowed to build the temple which will contain the columbarium. Regardless of what their original objection maybe, the question on why a plot of land meant for religious purposes was awarded to a commercial entity must be answered. Read about all that here.

While everything may indeed look legal or lawful, the matter is that what is legal or lawful does not necessarily mean it is right or good. Consider how AIM got then tender to all of the PAP town councils’ computer systems. How AIM got all that may perhaps be lawful, but there are very few who would consider that as right or good. So, this columbarium is yet another ticking time bomb and if not properly defused would definitely explode in the face of Sengkang West’s Member of Parliament and the ruling party. But of course, no one is betting on Sengkang West remaining as a SMC (Single Member Constituency) after the next boundary review by the elections department.

What is even more disappointing however, is that none of the alternative parties took this matter up and help the residents press for an acceptable answer on this matter.

【Addendum】 A friend pointed out that I was wrong in this assertion because at least the NSP did take up this matter.

Edz Ello

It is not the first time some foreigner comes to Singapore, enjoy this country’s hospitality, and the education or job opportunities provided and then go on to make disparaging remarks about us. I am not going to go into a tirade against specific groups of foreigners or all foreigners because that would play into the hands of those who find every nitty-gritty thing to label anyone a xenophobe. Furthermore, in my office I had worked with a number of “Edz Ello’s” countrymen and there are a few I truly enjoyed working with. At the very least they are competent in what they do compared to another group who is acclaimed to be “experts” in Information Technology.

But I have said this before, and I will say it again – in no small part the main stream media (MSM) and perhaps a part of this country’s policies have brought this upon us. When our own leaders lea-duhs berate us for not having “spurs stuck to our hide”, or that Singapore “cannot do without foreigners” and even “foreign talents provide good jobs to Singaporeans”, how can the least of the foreigners not even think highly of themselves and consider Singaporeans to be inferior? Worse of it all when foreigners acts bad ass, our lea-duhs then tell us to “reflect”, or to “have a big heart” without even so much a slap on the wrist against the offenders. That is then followed up by their supporters and followers which waste no time in labelling anyone a xenophobe or their comments as xenophobic.

Really, how can Singaporeans not be angry and view this as a form of a injustice and unfairness? And where else can we seek re-dress other than an outpour of condemnation in the alternative media because the angry voices are never allowed to be heard on the MSM? There will be those who will say Edz Ello is entitled to his freedom of speech. Likewise, afford us our freedom of speech to condemn him then.

If freedom of speech is indeed practised, then let those among us correct those who are too extreme without anyone labelling any unhappiness against foreigners as xenophobia.

Je ne suis pas Charlie

Freedom of Speech. No one should dictate what another can say blah blah blah…

The fact is, freedom of speech is an unachievable ideal. Perhaps achievable when when human beings behave reasonably, logically and rationally. But human beings aren’t always that. No matter how much we insist there should be ‘freedom of speech’, one fine day there’s still going to be some idiot who will punch another in the face for saying something offensive, or kill another for insulting his mother.

Some will say to self-censor means it’s a form of fear, and to be in fear and thus not be able to do something is thus a lost of freedom. Now let me put that in perspective. Fear, is irrational. Fear is not real. Danger is however, real and tangible. If someone puts a knife across my throat and ask me to stop saying something, I will stop. That is not because I fear, nor am I giving up my freedom. But rather, the danger of losing my life is real. Have I make myself clear? Really, if anyone wants to be the hero and continue saying whatever offends the other chap, even when he really has no right to be offended, and then lose his life for it – be my guest.

That said, let me emphasize: Killing IS NOT right. Killing IS NOT at all reasonable or rational either. But one can continue hiding behind that veil called ‘freedom of speech’, but beware that one might ultimately pay the price for not being responsible in considering how someone else might feel otherwise about the satires, or even racists jokes he might be cracking – not just to friends – but to the anyone out there in the world who can see it.

So go ahead and persist with the “freedom to insult” and “freedom to offend”. We will all condemn the killers, but I certainly won’t feel sorry for the chaps in Charlie Hebdo. To even call it satire would be an insult to or even Leslie Chew, who made the Demoncratic comics (even though I don’t really like his stuff).

And so, je ne suis pas Charlie (I am not Charlie).

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