Monday, 31 December 2012

Cash poor, CPF rich? - Sell HDB, top-up CPF, get cash bonus?

31st December 2012

Cash poor, CPF rich?

Why is it that at the end of the day, practically every scheme that has been introduced to help lower-income Singaporeans retire, makes them more cash poor, but “CPF rich”?

Refer to the article “Silver Housing Bonus and Lease Buyback schemes enhanced” (Channel NewsAsia, Dec 28).

Use your cash to top-up CPF to get cash bonus?

It states that “Two schemes aimed at enabling senior citizens to monetise their flats have been made more attractive following public feedback.

The Silver Housing Bonus, which provides an incentive for lower-income households to move to a smaller flat, will have a lower top-up requirement of S$60,000 per household. When first announced in February this year, the requirement was for all net sale proceeds to be used to top up the CPF Retirement Accounts to the prevailing minimum sum. The S$20,000 bonus seniors get for topping up their Central Provident Fund Retirement Accounts by S$60,000 will be paid in cash; previously S$15,000 was in cash while S$5,000 went to top up the CPF account.

Those whose CPF top-ups from downsizing their homes are less than S$60,000 will receive less cash bonus – S$1 for every S$3 topped up.”

Although there are four examples on how the Silver Housing Bonus (SHB) works in the Ministry of National Development’s press release, let me just for the sake of simplifying matters, use one of the four examples to show the possible implications for lower-income elderly Singaporeans who are being encouraged to opt for this scheme . . . . .

Continue reading this interesting analysis by Leong Sze Hian here

Can't find Singaporeans to work? Is that true?

31st December 2012

We have heard this time and again over the years – that it is very hard to find Singaporeans to work. Is it true? Or employers are giving excuses to signal to the government to continue opening the flood gates for more foreign workers, so that their profits keep heading north?

Referring to the article “Bosses keen to pay more for locals but there’re limits: DPM” (Channel NewsAsia, Dec 10).
It states that “Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean believes the operators and providers of essential services would like to get as many Singaporeans as possible to work for them by paying higher salaries.

He cited bus drivers as an example, saying this is one reason bus companies want to increase the pay and improve the work conditions to attract more Singaporeans. However, he said, there will always be a limit to the number of Singaporeans who will take up such jobs.

Mr Teo said Singaporeans have very high aspirations and want higher value jobs due to higher education.That explains why there will always be a need for foreign workers to make up for the shortfall.”

Singaporeans don’t want to work?

Pay too low?

Helping Singaporeans get low-pay jobs?

Near negative wage growth last 12 years?

Low-pay jobs highest unemployment rates?

Read full article contributed by Leong Sze Hian 


AIM saga – member of public files complaint with CPIB and AGO

31st December 2012

A member of the public has mailed hard copies of the following letter to CPIB and the Auditor-General’s Office, asking the two Government agencies to investigate any irregularities arising from last year’s sale of the Town Councils’ computer and financial system to AIM Pte Ltd.

In the letter, the member of the public brings up a number of questions. He asks if the tender exercise is similar to the one in the scandalous NParks’ Brompton bicycle case.

He also asks if it was in the best interest of the public for the Town Councils to sell the system to a private company and then to rent it back?

Another issue is the $140,000 price tag – the price paid by AIM for the system. Was it fair? Also, why did the Town Councils accept the bid from a $2-company, AIM?

Read details of the letter to CPIB and AGO at TRE

PAP Town Councils’ historical habit of answered questions?

31st December 2012

After more than two weeks of the continuing saga of the town councils’ software, there are still so many unanswered questions.

Other answered questions historically?

The other obvious question that comes to mind, is whether there are other answered questions about town councils in recent years, which affect Singaporeans at large?

Well, here’s a list of what arguably, are some questions about town councils which never received straight answers.

* How much losses exactly did the respective town councils which invested in Minibond type products in the last financial crisis of 2008/2209 suffer?

* Why is there not greater transparency on town councils’  investments? (“$1 billion in town council funds : What’re they used for?“, Dec 3, 2007)

* Why is it that despite much higher government grants, the Service and Conservancy Charges (S & CC) have historically, generally been higher than the opposition wards? (“$2 billion in PAP town councils’ sinking funds but need to increase charges?“, Mar 18, 2010)

* Why were the rules for the use of town councils’ funds changed such that the opposition wards could no longer use enough of  their accumulated  funds for lift upgrading, without residents having to pay anything? (“Residents willing to pay more for service and conservancy“, Dec 2, 2007)

* Why is it that according to Aljunied town council’s annual report for 2008/2009, the Conservancy and Service Receivables Provision for impairment was apparently written down by about 99 per cent compared to the previous year’s (2007/2008)? (“Town councils’ report: More cash-strapped families in opposition wards?“, Dec 15, 2012)

* Why is it that town councils’ with operating and accumulated surpluses also need to increase S & CC? (“Each town council different, but raise charges together?“, Oct 3, 2012)

* Why is it that Aljunied-Hougang town council can cut its S & CC after it took over the ward? (“Town council: $4.38m surplus – still increase fees?”, Jul 26, 2012)

Detailed news from TRE

WP Sylvia Lim: come clean on software sale, PAP Town Councils.

31st December 2012

Workers' Party and Aljunied-Hougang Town Council (AHTC) chairman Sylvia Lim on Friday aimed a follow-up shot in the latest of an enlarging ongoing spat between the town council and those run by Singapore's ruling People's Action Party (PAP).

In a statement published on the AHTC's website, Lim challenged the PAP and its subsidiary company Action Information Management Pte Ltd to come clean on why the town councils sold and leased their computer systems back from them.

Earlier, local media reported that the PAP Town Councils defended the sale of its management systems to AIM, with coordinating chairman Teo Ho Pin saying that its transactions followed regulations.

The deal involved the sale of software, while the ownership of hardware remained with all the town councils,
he reportedly said.

In a letter, he explained that in 2010 they called an open tender
to which AIM submitted the sole bid though five companies collected the tender agreement.

Meanwhile, AIM described Lim's allegation that the opposition-run council had to fight for an extension as "inaccurate".

Service extensions were granted by AIM twice, once in August and once in September 2011, and since AHTC did not ask for a further extension, the contract lapsed, it said.

Responding to what they said on Friday, Lim said it was "regrettable" that Teo's and Chandra Das's statements were "calculated to side-step the most critical question of how the public interest was served" in the scenario they had created through the sale of the management systems.

"What justification was there for the Town Councils to relinquish ownership (of the systems) and leave the continuity of the Town Council operations at the mercy of a third party? Residents all over Singapore have a right to know," she wrote.

Noting that Teo had admitted that AIM was "fully-owned" by the PAP, Lim pointed out further that the PAP-managed town councils "had seen it fit to sell away their ownership of the systems, developed with public funds, to a political party, which presumably could act in its own interests when exercising its rights to terminate the contracts".

Controversy reignited
Public debate over the matter ensued after questions were raised over how AHTC's computer and financial systems were placed under the control of AIM.
In a post in his blog Yawning Bread last Friday, Alex Au said the issue “has the potential to be a big story, causing enormous damage to the People’s Action Party (PAP)”.
Controversy first erupted earlier this month when the Ministry of National Development (MND) released its latest town council management report, singling out the AHTC with a “red” rating for its handling of service and conservancy charge (S&CC) arrears.
The council was not rated for its corporate governance due to its lateness in submitting its auditor’s management letter “material to the banding of the corporate governance indicator”, the ministry said.

WP’s response

Responding to the report, AHTC chair Sylvia Lim, who is also chairman of the Workers’ Party, noted the fact that the town council’s audit took longer than expected because of its need to develop a new computer and financial system from scratch.

In a statement released on 14 December, the same day the town council management review was published, she explained that as her party was taking over the town council in the wake of their success at last year’s election, it was informed that its existing computer and financial systems would be terminated from 1 August 2011, “due to material changes to the membership of the Town Council”.

She pointed out also that the systems, having been developed collectively by the 14 PAP town councils over a period of more than 15 months, were in January last year sold to a company called M/s Action Information Management Pte Ltd (AIM). The town councils then leased the systems back from AIM, paying the company fees every month for the usage of the computer systems — and a report from online socio-political site TR Emeritus said these payments would have to come from the S&CC paid by residents.

When the sale and lease-back occurred, AIM was empowered by its prevailing service agreement to terminate the systems contract with any of the town councils within a single month’s notice in the event of a “material change” to its composition, which is what happened with AHTC. Given the circumstances, Lim said in comparison to the “more than 15 months” that the 14 town councils spent collectively developing a finance and computer system, the AHTC was left with a two-month timeframe to develop its own equivalent systems.
Describing it as a “near-impossible task”, Lim said her town council had to prioritise the development of its financial system into phases, resulting in a delay for its audit.

Firm's directors

Details about AIM and its make-up then came to the fore. Lim noted in her statement that the company was in fact a dormant one. TR Emeritus reported that AIM had been operating out of an office which allegedly shares its address with more than 1,000 other businesses, apart from the actual company that operates from that address — one KCS Corporate Services Pte Ltd.
Further, a second report from the alternative news website noted its discovery that AIM consisted of just three people, all of whom were former PAP Members of Parliament — its chairman, S Chandra Das, and directors Lau Ping Sum and Chew Heng Ching.
The company had a total paid-up capital of just $2, with $1 held in shares by Chandra Das, and the other $1 owned by Lau, according to the report showing the firm's business filing with the Accounting and Corporate Regulatory  Authority.

“As (Lim) pointed out, the questions have to be: Why did the PAP Town Councils relinquish ownership of the computer and financial system, and how much did they sell it to AIM for?” asked Au. “It was probably developed with taxpayer money by the 14 town councils, with much input and support from taxpayer-paid town council staff, unless — and it is hard to believe — the PAP paid for the development of the system.”

Terms used in contract

Another issue that was raised involved the nature of the contract signed when the town councils collectively sold the computer systems to AIM, allowing the firm to terminate the contract with just a month’s notice “should there be a material change to the composition of the town council”.
“As (Lim) asked: ‘How is it in the public interest to have such a thing (the contract terms)?’” wrote Au.

“What price was it sold to AIM for? How was that price arrived at? Was there competitive tendering?” he asked in succession. Au added further the questions of how acting for partisan advantage is in the best interest of the residents of the constituency, as well as whether or not the priority should be to ensure that the systems in the town councils continue accordingly.

* Report from Yahoo news.
 [UPDATE on 28 December 2012: adding AHTC chairman follow-up response]

AWARE: call for an end to cheap foreign labor in Singapore

31st December 2012

Singapore’s tendency to rely on the continual acceptance of cheap foreign labor has made it a “one-trick pony”, said Association of Women for Action and Research (AWARE) director Corinna Lim.

AWARE Director Corinna Lim
Speaking as a panelist at a forum on the country’s population issues on Saturday afternoon, Lim noted that its excessive dependence on foreign workers over the years is a short-term one that needs to end sooner or later, and that there are other ways to promote economic growth that we somehow stopped working on.

“The problem with Singapore is that suddenly, we became a one-trick pony,” she said, addressing about 50 members of the public in attendance at the forum organised by Transitioning, an unemployment volunteer NGO. “Our one trick was bring in more cheap foreign labour; we will increase GDP every year. And that is true, but it’s not the only trick in the book — (yet) it became so convenient for us that we used it all the time.”

Lim added that Singapore’s reliance on foreign workers extends beyond short-term economic goals to caring for the sick, the aged and the young.

“This one trick is very short-term. How many more people can we have?” she asked. “I’m sure we can take 6 million (people), we might even be able to take 6.5 million. But how many more beyond there? There must be an end to this... we can’t keep adding more and more people.”

In another point on Singapore’s population, the government’s repeated statements relating fertility rates to the need for foreign workers to support economic growth over the years are “illogical”, said Lim.

Quoting the then-Deputy Prime Minister Wong Kan Seng in 2010, who said Singapore’s low fertility rates mean that it “must keep bringing in foreign workers to support economic growth as the population ages”, Lim said, “If you think about it, (it’s) completely illogical.”

“Having one extra foreign worker today is not going to make any difference at all to the number of people that we have 20 years from now, which is what this fertility issue is about,” she continued. “This (the mass admission of foreign workers) has nothing to do with fertility; this has everything to do with the short-term economic needs that exist today — it’s not to do with fertility, so stop trying to confuse us with this.”

SDP Treasurer Dr. Vincent Wijeysingha
Adding to the discussion was fellow panelist Vincent Wijeysingha, treasurer of the opposition Singapore Democratic Party, who said Singapore’s economic climate of seeking the highest profit from the lowest cost will eventually “force us to ground zero”.

He said going along the line of our “one trick” of continually bringing in more and more foreign workers would still not enable us to compete with countries that have much larger populations, such as Indonesia, South Africa and Papua New Guinea.

“(The three countries have) huge populations where you pay far lower than you would pay in Singapore,” he said. “So the idea that we can somehow compete — cheaper and cheaper and cheaper labor — eventually you bottom out, you flat-line.”

Wijeysingha added that Singapore could go in the way of Liverpool and Detroit in the 1970s and 80s, where in the case of Liverpool, its docks and traditional manufacturing industries entered a sharp decline when containerisation replaced its labor strategy, and for Detroit, its automobile industry took a hit when foreign vehicles entered the fray.

While these cities and their parent countries — the UK and the U.S. — sought refuge in their primary industries, Wijeysingha said Singapore “cannot take shelter in a primary industry to stabilise us”.

“An economy that seems fixated on the low-wage model is heading for crisis,” he added. “We don’t have to be economists to say this, (and) the inability of the government to comprehend this is not something we, the people, should have to put up with any longer.”

Statistician Leong Sze Hian
 Lim and Wijeysingha were among a panel that also included The Online Citizen chief editor Kumaran Pillai and statistician Leong Sze Hian, who tackled issues relating to the question of whether or not Singapore can support and sustain a 6 million-sized population.

Speaking on the issue of the influx of S-pass and work permit holders who depress the wages of Singaporean workers, Leong pointed out that the impact of this phenomenon has been telling through available statistics.

Even though unemployment rates on the whole may stand officially below 2 per cent, Leong noted that the rates for cleaners, laborers and related services are higher, at more than 5 per cent.

Aggravating the situation is the fact that the net pay for these workers is falling over the years instead of rising with inflation, with Leong adding that in the past decade, real wages for this category of workers fell by more than 30 per cent when adjusted for inflation.

He also observed that there appears to be discrimination by age in the workplace, where at the median level for male workers in Singapore, real wages start to fall by age 38. By the time he reaches 55, a man at the median income level earns the same as what he did when he was 33, said Leong.

“We can sustain a 6 or even 6.5 million population,” said Leong. “The more important question I would ask, though, is what kinds of people are we bringing in?”

* As reported from Yahoo news.

Indian national threatened to "plant bombs" at MBS

31st December 2012.

Asking for trouble? SG will not take such a threat lightly.

Indian national Aditya Bhatia's Facebook status, where he threatened to "plant bombs" at Marina Bay Sands. (Facebook Screen grab).

A boy has threatened to “plant bombs” at Marina Bay Sands (MBS) posted on his Facebook, the latest of a chain of offensive social media posts that surfaced this year.

The youth, who lists his name on Facebook as Aditya Bhatia, posted a vulgarity-laced status on his profile that promised “revenge” on Singapore, where he listed himself to be residing in.

“The day I’ll [sic] leave Singapore ! Gonna take a big big revenge [sic] !” he wrote, adding that he was going to “spit everywhere” and “plant bombs on Marina Bay Sands”.

According to Bhatia’s Facebook profile, which reportedly has since been taken down, he attended the Global Indian International School in Queenstown, and is from New Delhi.

Police confirmed that by Monday, reports had been filed with regard to the matter from several parties, including one from the integrated resort itself. A spokesperson said its investigations are now ongoing, with MBS agreeing to assist.

An MBS spokesperson added in response to the incident, “The safety of our guests and staff is of paramount importance, and we will take all necessary steps to ensure a safe and secure environment for all at Marina Bay Sands.”

When contacted, members of the Indian expatriate community in Singapore spoke up against Bhatia’s actions.

Investment banker Ravi Rao, 41, said he found the youth’s behaviour “disgraceful and a discredit to Indian nationals living here”.

“I really hope Singaporeans do not feel that his views are representative of our community,” he said.

“Even if he was venting his anger or said these things in the heat of the moment, I feel that he needs to bear the consequences of his actions — this is no laughing matter,” added 36-year-old Nirmala S, a homemaker. “If he really dislikes Singapore so much, perhaps he should do everyone a favour and return to India.”

Bhatia’s post adds to the list of social media posts that sparked furious online reaction, the most notable of which came from former NTUC assistant director Amy Cheong, who ended up losing her job and moving back to Australia, where she is a citizen.

Before her, Chinese undergraduate scholar Sun Xu had his scholarship revoked after referring to Singaporeans as “dogs” on his Sina Weibo account.

Singaporeans: How to be Happy

31st December 2012

The results of the recent Gallup poll, as well as other surveys seem to indicate that Singaporeans are an unhappy people. This surprises me because, objectively, we should be happy people. I consider myself a happy person. I would therefore like to share with my fellow Singaporeans 10 rules which may help to make them a more happy people. ~ Professor Tommy Koh, Ambassador-at-Large with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Singapore.

Straits Times
Rule No. 1
Be positive, optimistic and kind person. Whether you are a happy or unhappy person depends largely on yourself. Negative and pessimistic people are generally unhappy people. Be kind to others. Kindness begets kindness. Try to do a good deed everyday. You will find that by brightening the lives of others, you will brighten your own life.

Rule No. 2
Have a happy family. Be good to your parents. If they are elderly and living by themselves, try to visit them at least once a week and share a weekly meal with them. One of the problems encountered by our older folks is loneliness.

Be on excellent terms with your spouse. Whenever I am asked to speak at wedding dinners, I always advise the groom to do three things; Be faithful to his wife, treat her as if they were still courting and give her all his money. The last advise does not apply in cases where the wife is a spender and not a saver.

As for how to behave towards one's children, I have always liked the advise given by Kahlil Gibran: "And though they are with you yet they belong not to you. You may give them your love but not your thoughts. For they have their own thoughts."

If you are lucky enough to have grandchildren, love them with all your heart.

Rule No. 3
Find a job you enjoy doing. I think one of the reasons so many Singaporeans are unhappy is that they do not like their jobs. Since we spend so much of our lives at work, it is important to find a job which is not a chore to endure but a pleasure to do. In recent years, I have noticed a trend of many Singaporeans leaving their jobs for other jobs which pay them less but give them greater satisfaction. This is a good thing.

Rule No. 4
Treasure your friends. In your life journey, you will make many friends - at school, at university, in sports or other activities and at work. I hope you will develop a small circle of very good friends, friends who will stand by you in good times and bad times.

Rule No. 5
Exercise regularly. My wife and I try to swim everyday. Exercise not only makes you healthier, it also makes you feel better. Therefore, make regular exercise a part of your lifestyle. You can't be a happy person if you are not in good health.

Rule No. 6
Enjoy eating but eat healthily and avoid the sin of gluttony. Singapore is a culinary paradise. Food is abundant, diverse and affordable.

You can eat well on any budget. Let us enjoy our food but let us also exercise some discipline when choosing what to eat. I have always tried to follow the ancient Asian wisdom of stopping when I feel 80 per cent full.

Rule No. 7
Be a volunteer and support philanthropy. I once heard a speech by Mrs Barbara Bush, the wife of the 41st President of the United States. She said there was a period in her life when she suffered from depression. Instead of seeing a psychiatrist or taking medication to overcome her depression, she decided to be a volunteer. She found that by helping others less fortunate than herself, her depression gradually disappeared.

Whether we are rich or poor, we should contribute to a cause or causes close to our hearts. In spite of our favorite tax regime and the presence of many wealthy people in our society, I was very disappointed to see how lowly Singapore ranked in the table of countries for philanthropy. A wise man once said that no man could be truly happy if he lives only for himself.

Rule No. 8
Read books and listen to music. Reading is an excellent habit. Books keep me company when I am alone. Books transport me to another country, another culture, another time and into the lives of other people. Reading is an endless source of happiness. I listen to music everyday. I thank 92.4 FM for bringing me so much joy everyday.

Rule No .9
Take pleasure in little things in life. My wife and I love our regular walks in the Botanical Gardens. I love to watch the sunset. I find joy in meeting an old friend, attending a concert at the Esplanade and visiting a wonderful exhibition at one of our museums. Most of all, I enjoy being with my grandson.

Rule No. 10
Don't envy others. I received this good advise from a wise man, Dr. Wee Kim Wee, our sixth President. Dr. Wee once told me that one of the reasons which caused people to be unhappy was that they were envious of others. Dr Wee said he never envied his friends who had better education or earned more money or live in bigger houses or owned more expensive cars. His rule was to be contented with what he had. I think this is a good rule. Philosophically, it would be even better if you could feel vicariously happy when you see your friends and former students doing well in life.

Saturday, 29 December 2012

Thanks to our liberal but flawed foreign labour policy

27th December 2012
Straits Times

This is one of the many loopholes employers are trying all means and ways to go about hiring young, educated foreign professional which are cheaper, better and faster. They have no NS obligations, no employers' CPF contribution and are contracted.

Thanks to our ex-Manpower Minister Gan Kim Yong and NTUC Labour Chief Lim Swee Say - their flawed liberal foreign labour policy.

We have a sizeable pool of well educated, skilled and qualified white collar workers who are unemployed. These workers are best tapped for their relevant experiences, skills and qualifications. But employers are shunning them. Why?

Unfounded and baseless reasons given by the employers are no Singaporeans are willing to take up the job offer, they are choosy, they expect high wages, they are slow and unproductive, tend to take sick leave, maternity leave and many more.

However from the job seekers side, they were told either they are over qualified or under qualified. Many unlucky ones are not even given an opportunity for an interview especially those age 40 and above. In fact age is also a factor employers discriminate. Many remained unemployed for at least 2 years and longer. As a last resort they have turned to working as security guards or driving taxis.

We have come to this sorrowful stage where the PAP government has looked at true born Singaporeans as mere digits only good for the economy and GDP growth, all boils down to their performance bonuses. Million dollars public servants pegging their salaries to the highest earners in the public sectors giving reasons of preventing corruptions. Its not surprising many Singaporeans have said that the PAP government is running the island like a Corporation rather than a nation with compassion and care. Its all about money, growth at all cost at the expense of its citizens and their self serving political advantage. 

Your maid is also a fellow human with dignity

Straits Times
26th December 2012

Thanks to good Samaritans like Ms Bridget Tan, 63, a Catholic, the CEO of HOME (Human Organization or Migration Economics) a migrant shelter providing food, lodging and legal advise for foreign domestic workers who are owed salaries, mistreated by their employers as well as waiting for their employment disputes to be settled.

Bridget founded the welfare organization in 2004 with only $60,000 of her retirement savings. For eight years she has been helping helpless foreign migrant workers without asking for anything in return. During the eight years as CEO, she did not draw any salary and recently she finally started to receive one. But instead of keeping it, she chose to spend the bulk on a Christmas Eve dinner for 80 foreign domestic workers who are currently residing at the shelter.

HOME took them to the Food Republic foodcourt at 112 Katong Mall and gave $10 each to spend on anything they want to eat. Though the amount is small, its the thought and love of giving from the heart that counts.

Bridget said, "Christmas is not just about going to church, its about sharing what we have with people who don't have much. Its about being a family to others who don't have a family here."

So often we have read many reports of physical abuse by employers over petty issues such as doing wrong things or not following proper instructions. Many employers also refused to give them a deserving day-off. No doubt there are others who are careless, not following instructions, etc, but this is not the way to teach her a lesson and ill treat another human being. Besides did we ever think that she comes from a different culture from a foreign country, a undeveloped country? Did we consider her family background and condition needing her to work in a foreign land and remit money home so that there are food on the table? Did we ever consider how she feels, experiencing a culture shock? How much did we actually paid these workers? Several hundreds went to the foreign worker levy which the PAP government happily collects, a lucrative passive income.

Or are our egos so great, we think that since we are employers we have the right to boss around and lord over them? Since we are the pay masters, they are to be treated as lowly servants? Please treat your maids well with respect and dignity and in turn they will do likewise. And they I believe are willing to do more for you even without asking.

Bridget has certainly brought relief and joy to the unfortunate ones, a good living example for others to follow. She deserves our praise and salute. May God bless her for her works of mercy, love and care for the "little" ones. Let us treat all migrant workers regardless of their occupations as a fellow dignified human being deserving to be understood, cared and loved.

Friday, 21 December 2012

Citizens have rights that must be protected

21th December 2012

WHILE I agree with Ms Estella Young ("Timely reminder to keep S'pore open"; Wednesday) that Singapore will lose out by shutting out foreign talent, we should do well to remember that the privileges conferred on Singaporeans come with obligations and responsibilities.

For one, male citizens must serve national service as well as be called up for reservist training on a yearly basis, whereas new citizens and foreign talent have no such obligations.

The new arrivals thus ride on the sacrifices and commitment of Singaporeans to maintain the peace and security which we enjoy.
So, I disagree with Ms Young when she suggests that insisting on certain privileges reduces citizenship and national identity to the value of its perks, somewhat like a club membership.

It is only fair that such privileges are conferred on Singaporeans instead of all, to create a distinction between Singapore citizens, Singapore citizens who have served national service, permanent residents and foreign workers.

While we must be mindful that having a jingoistic paradigm will weaken us eventually, we should also be mindful that citizens must be rooted to the country and have a sense of ownership.

Just as we wish to attract foreign talent, it is equally important to keep Singaporeans rooted to Singapore as otherwise, it will be a Pyrrhic victory for all.  ~ Elgar Lee

Straits Times forum

Thursday, 20 December 2012

Apology NOT accepted

20th December 2012

Services on the North East Line (NEL) have resumed after a disruption due to train fault. 

SBS Transit said full operations resumed at 5.18pm on Thursday. 

Earlier, a statement from SBS Transit said there was no service between Punggol and Little India.

The disruption was apparently due to a train fault at Serangoon station.

Free bus rides were made available at designated bus stops near affected NEL stations. 

SBS Transit has apologised for the inconvenience caused. ~ CNA

Your apology is NOT accepted. We want monetary compensation or free rides. You gave commuters so much inconvenience with a self proclaimed World Class Transport System and you intend to raise fares for your management's incompetence. 

I suggest for future breakdowns, these transport operators should give commuters a free ride for the whole day. What do you think?

Read full report

Infidelity: Why zero tolerance is right

20th December 2012
Straits Times 
Well written article from the Straits Times 

Marital infidelity must not be tolerated and taken like a pinch of salt. An essential component of a vow is conjugal fidelity. Conjugal fidelity is nothing less than a violation of that social, statutory and/or devine trust.

Read article 
Straits Times forum page

Baseless and discriminatory reasons from HDB

Straits Times 
20th December 2012

Laws and rules are made for men and not the other way round! Laws and rules can be amended according to times. So why is HDB being so rigid? Where is the compassion and empathy? Since they are retirees and buying their first HDB flat, why is government grant denied? Weii reasons given that they are not employed for the past year and they being retirees are baseless and discriminatory. 

Is the HDB practising age discrimination? Or is it gonna be a reality from ex-Health Minister Khaw Boon Wan once said that old folks need to stay in JB, Malaysia for their retirement? 
Is this what you call a "Singaporeans all inclusive" nation by Prime Minister Lee? Is this another "respectful" way to signal to our senior citizens that they are of no more use and contribution to society?  

Wednesday, 19 December 2012

Will high influx of foreign talents depress wages?

14th December 2012

With endless high influx of foreign talents who are not really talents after all, our children in Polytechnics & Universities stand to lose out in terms of earning power. It is also known and some were caught submitting fake university certificates inorder to qualify for the S & E pass permits. Some of their university certificates are unheard of, some are of lowest ranking. Sadly the MOM (Ministry of Manpower) is suspect sleeping on their jobs. With hundreds of thousands of applications, do you think MOM has enough officers and enough time to check the authenticity of each certificate? Chances are they will just scan through quickily rather than conduct thorough and indept checks on each applicants. 

Every SG parents expect his or her child to have a well rounded education so that they could have a good headstart in their career progression. 

So as a parent ask yourself (if you support the flawed work pass system), after investing so much on your child's education, do you want to see them earning a suppressed salary of S$2,000 or maybe less? Do remember there are plenty of unscrupulous employers out there exploiting workers, the cost of living and inflation will never head south. Then, what is the point of expecting them to get good grades and excel academically? Do you want your child to end up a lowly paid engineer, doctor, lawyer, manager? Most employers now cares so much on the bottom-lines than hiring real talents. Sad, isn't it? 

Imagine if your child is not that academically inclined, he or she will be left far behind. Common sense. That's the real danger. I hope you now "see" this danger. Unless you have an exit plan to migrate and start a better life there. 

Good luck SG.

Work pass system is totally flawed

14th December 2012

Until today, the PAP government denies influx of foreigner workers (mid skilled) had depressed wages of Singaporeans. The work passes system (S & E) is totally flawed. Why?

Employers generally want to be lean and keep cost low, so as to increase bottom lines.
1. Singaporean male, completed NS, graduate with a general degree, no work experience, asking S$ 3,000 starting pay, employer also need to contribute 16% employer CPF.
2. Foreign male, no NS obligations, holding a general degree in his/her country of origin or overseas, no work experience, asking for S$3,000 and willing to accept S$2,000 due to work pass requirement (S-pass), employer need to pay S$240-$500 monthly levy (depend on which tier the hiring quota reaches - acc to MOM data).

Which type of employee will the employer prefer to hire?
Will a local graduate accept S$2,000 starting pay?
The above answers do not need someone with Phd to answer.

Therefore, we the citizens need to pressure the PAP govt to freeze, tighten and reduce dependence of this category of workers for the good of our well educated Singaporean workers and our children's future! 

Majullah Singapura.

Singapore . . . . Singlish . . . England . . . English

14th December 2012

SINFUL ENGLISH ~ (First World Communication Problems)
A tongue in cheek video produced in the US by Singaporeans.

Committing sins of adultery

Straits Times 
14th December 2012

The sins of adultery is the downfall of many relationships. 

True Love is not a feeling, it is a LIFETIME sacrifice. If you are not ready or you don't accept it as a sacrifice of a lifetime, please don't get married for the sake of getting married. 

All of us will be accountable for our actions when we come face to face with God. Believe it or not, its entirely up to God.

SMRT HR management must be taken to task also

14th December 2012

Straits Times 
Management must also be accountable for the recent SMRT industrial strike. 
CEO of SMRT, you are doing it right if these people are also taken to task for sweeping workers complaints and feedbacks under the carpet. 
Any company who exploits its workers is not worth to work for. Remember, we work to live and not we live to work!

Rediculous and outrageous; why should we pay?

14th December 2012
Straits Times 

Lui Tuck Yew. We reject your proposal. "NO" is our answer. The government & transport company should pay. Why are we SG paying twice? We pay 7% GST is akin to money from the government (tax payers funds).

As a Minister you go for easy solutions, the easy way out. Its so simple for you to raise fares but you fail to think and take into consideration the unfortunate and poor of the poorest. Fares keep going up 8 times for the past 10 years and will never be adjusted downwards. Also stop telling us you are issuing transport vouchers or give out subsidies to cushion the increase. These are one off and short term measures. As a Minister you need to have compassion and empathy. Remember, you are a public servant, not public master that lord over others. Your million dollar salary comes from tax payers. 

Be prepared to be voted out in 2016 GE if you continue to be this arrogant. Shame on you Lui Tuck Yew.

WP Low TK's interview on ex-PAP MP's extramarital affair

14th December 2012

Listen to WP Low Thia Khiang speaks about issue of the PAP MP extramarital affair. He's the total opposite of the PAP Prime Minister, DPM. 
This is the type of government leaders we want elected. PAP shame on you. What did you do to the Workers Party when ex MP Yaw Shin Leong also had extramarital affair? You bombarded Mr Low and try to discredit him and the party. We the citizens also support the call for a by-election. SG & the world are watching you, and please stop quoting the CONSTITUTION.

We need a people's President not a puppet

13th December 2012

US President Obama and the First Lady will send you a congratulatory certificate from the White House when you tell him you are getting married. What about our "million dollar" President and PM? Will someone who is getting married, try sending him a note and see what's next? 
. . . maybe I guess he'll remind you to vote PAP or go pay your tax!

PM Lee received a rebuke from netizen

12th December 2012
PM Lee's facebook page

Must share with you this . . . screenshot from PM Lee's facebook page commenting the resignation of ex-MP and Speaker of the House, Michael Palmer.  A unhappy netizen ticked PM Lee off in the face. (see last comment). 

I guess she is really pissed off like many of us. Given the current unhappiness on the ground, PM Lee deserved to be rebuked.

WP, SPP urged PM to call for by-election as soon as possible

12th December 2012

The Workers' Party (WP) and the Singapore People's Party (SPP) have urged Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong to call a by-election as soon as possible for the vacated parliamentary seat of Punggol East.

The call came shortly after Mr Michael Palmer announced on Wednesday his resignation from the ruling People's Action Party (PAP) and as MP for Punggol East over improper relationship with a staff member of the People's Association.

The WP, which contested in the single-member constituency (SMC) in the 2011 General Election, said in a statement that it is ready to offer voters a choice again in a by-election.

Punggol East SMC 2011 election results:
MICHAEL PALMER (PAP) 16,994 votes, 54.54%
LEE LI LIAN (WP) 12,777 votes, 41.01%
LIM BAK CHUAN DESMOND (SDA) 1,387 votes, 4.45%

(results taken from Singapore Elections Department)

If there's a by-election and if there is no 3 corner fight, WP would be a clear winner by a slight margin. Good luck WP!

Read full article

Call for by-election from Workers Party

12th December 2012

Super Good news. The WP is acting on this! Support WP!

The Workers' Party has noted the announcement today that the Speaker of Parliament, Mr Michael Palmer, has resigned from the People's Action Party.
By virtue of Article 46 of the Constitution, Mr Palmer's Parliamentary seat for Punggol East Single Member Constituency (SMC) has become vacant.
In order that the residents of Punggol East SMC are properly represented, the Workers' Party urges the Prime Minister to call a by-election in the constituency as soon as possible. 
In the last General Election, the Workers' Party contested Punggol East SMC. The Workers' Party is ready to offer a choice to the voters of Punggol East SMC again in the by-election.

Full report

Big News

12th December 2012

Speaker of Parliament, Pasir Ris-Punggol GRC PAP MP Michael Palmer resigns due to 'improper conduct'. Good opportunity to call for a by-election and vote in more Workers Party members! Support WP !

Btw Straits Times aka Shitty Times, please be more specific and don't use words like "improper conduct" when it is an extramarital affair. 

Public interest must always come first: Workers’ Party

10th December 2012

Public interest must always come first: Workers’ Party

With Singapore facing a slowing economy coupled with persistently high inflation, a price hike will only add to the hardship faced by many middle and low income Singaporeans. We repeat our call for the Government to fund more generous public transport concessions for senior citizens and introduce fare concessions for people with disabilities. ~ THE WORKERS’ PARTY

Well commented Workers Party! Go and SLAP the slave driver!

Do you trust this man?

8th December 2012

You decide whether to believe and trust what Transport Minister Lui Tuck Yew said. Why? 

“If the government did not inject more funds, the operators will have to increase bus fares by as much as fifteen cents to cover the operating costs.”
Mr Lui explained that the $1.1 billion dollars will be used to subsidize the commuters’ bus fares and not to ‘compensate’ the bus operators, adding that they will be forced to fold up and stop operations if the government did not do so. ~ April 16th 2012

Speaking at the launch of a new bus service today, Mr Lui noted that while fares have increased by 0.3 per cent, costs in fuel and wages for instance have gone up by 30 per cent, and that the fare review committee recognised this "significant mismatch".
Mr Lui said "Any fare adjustment will allow the two operators to have more resources, in time to come, to make further salary adjustments to their drivers. We recognise that the drivers need to be paid more." ~ December 6th 2012

Stop exploiting others

8th December 2012

SG, we ought to reflect deeper. Stop exploiting others.
Read below article by an anonymous writer.

The SMRT drivers have very little support in real life. Most of their support comes from disgruntled people typing in cyberspace.

You see, many of us Singaporeans hire maids. We make them work very long hours each day, and vast majority of us are openly against giving the maids one day off a week. And we expect the maids to accept a low wage of less than $500 even though the maids are providing an essential service.

We treat construction workers and toilet cleaners the same. We genuinely expect them to accept low wages, long working hours, poor work conditions, maybe even dangerous working conditions, in return for a low wage and non-existant benefits.

And even after this, we can still go to our church/temple/mosque with a clear conscience and ask our god to bless us with more money and better health.

Many of us do sleep well, enjoying the work hard of those who toil under poor conditions and low wages. And we have vested interests to keep things that way simply because we have gotten away for so long with such behaviour.

Before you curse me and disagree with me, ask yourself how much do you pay your own maid. Do you give your maid rest days? ~ Anonymous

Still got the cheek to increase fares?

8th December 2012

SMRT website
SMRT's earnings exceeds a hundred million a year profit after tax, intend to increase fares next year? This is outrageous. Its daylight robbery. 

If you don't agree with me, something is really wrong with you. period. Press for transport services to be nationalized.

Singapore is NOT for sale

8th December 2012

Agree with the writer. We must put an immediate stop to this for the sake of our future generations. SG is not for sale!

For People. For Nation. For Future.

8th December 2012

A Workers Party video presentation

Public housing should be affordable for all Singaporeans. HDB flats are for Singaporeans only. PRs are foreigners and why are they allowed to buy HDB flats even though its from the resale market? There are lots of private properties for sale and rent. 

HDB has lost its mission objectives. Traitors for the sake of making tons of money over the benefits of its citizens?

Support Workers Party event

7th December 2012

A Salute to Hougang & Aljunied. Support Workers Party! 

'Bricks in Blue' is a show like no other. WP is breaking new ground in their tribute to supporters in Hougang, Aljunied and all over Singapore. Come see WP MPs, members and volunteers unmask their artistic talents like you have never seen before!

So keep a date with us on 6 January 2013!

More protests to come?

6th December 2012

Another protest over wages. So . . . more protests to come? 

The two workers from China, who sat for hours on top of two cranes at a construction site in Jurong Port Road, have been escorted down by Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF) officers on Thursday. The first worker climbed down at about 2pm while the second man came down the 10-storey-high crane at about 3:30pm. They were led away by police. Both the workers are believed to be protesting over a wage dispute.
Police said they were alerted about the incident at about 6.35am at 31 Jurong Port Road. 
Officials from the Ministry of Manpower were also at the scene.

Read entire report

Strike free record broken by PRC workers

28th November 2012

Monday's strike by PRC bus drivers ended a long 26 year strike-free spell in SG. I am beginning to feel worried. Those who think it doesn't concern you, please think, it does.

Out of a total population of 5.3 million, 1.5 million are foreigners, working and residing here. Thanks to the PAP liberal labor policy, opening the floodgates with both eyes shut. MNCs & SMEs are also guilty, riding the opportunity to exploit them because they are cheaper in terms of hiring cost. 

SG is highly dependable on foreign workers in so many industries namely Healthcare, IT, Finance, Transport, Construction, Services ~ maids included, etc. Think . . . imagine, if these workers begin to hold strikes every now and then to air their unhappiness over salaries or work related issues, SG will be crippled and paralyzed. This is going to be WORLD HEADLINE NEWS. Now also imagine, will foreign investors have confidence to invest in SG? If these companies started to pull out of the country due to these frequent unrests, think again . . . . SG will loose their jobs. They and their families will suffer.

The PAP government is playing with FIRE. The PAP is starting the clock running on a time bomb. So SG, please WISE UP because it affects you and your family. This is also the reason why we the citizens are dead against this liberal foreign labor policy.

Pay workers fairly and justly

28th November 2012

Straits Times

Pay Singaporean workers fairly and justly in accordance to today's cost of living and not giving them fancy job titles but the pay is pathetic. 

It has been for decades that MNCs & SMEs have replaced locals with foreign workers who are willing to work for a fraction and longer hours. It has caused wage depression and stagnation. This must be stopped at all cost and we the citizens will keep on pressuring the PAP government to stop this exploitation and get employers to employ literate and skilled Singaporeans instead. Mid skilled foreign workers must be drastically tightened and those currently working here, to deny renewal of work passes. Singapore has more than enough mid skilled workers to sustain the economy.