Wednesday, 10 April 2013

Grassroots members chase away foot court patrons to ‘chope’ seats for PAP MP

10th April 2013

According to a Stomp report, 2 netizens have expressed unhappiness at being chased away from food court tables in Bishan by grassroots members claiming to be reserving tables for an MP and other volunteers and grassroots members.

It was reported that the grassroots members “chope” the tables for as long as 2 hours.

The incident happened at the foot court in Block 511 of Bishan, between 9:30am to 11:20am on 7 Apr (Sun).

One netizen said, “This picture was taken showing volunteers (in red) ‘chasing’ people away from the smoking zone just because they said that MP will be coming.”

He added, “Though I don’t stay in the Bishan area, I find this rather ABSURD! Must they go to that extent?”

Another netizen wrote, “During these two hours residents are enjoying their breakfast and lunch, and it seems this is a long affair.”

“Can’t these people share with residents?”

A reader also wrote in to TR Emeritus (TRE) exclaiming, “My goodness!!! Such thing also happens in Singapore!!!! This is really absurd!”

The reader asked, “If this MP goes to a restaurant, is he going to chase away all the customers?!?? If this MP goes to shopping centre, is he going to chase all the people away from shopping centre?”

“What if he goes to cinema? Is he going to chase away people? What if he goes to a swimming pool?!??!”

“What if he goes to the zoo? All of us must get out!??!”

It’s not known who the MP was but one can hazard a guess that the person is likely to be one of the MPs from Bishan-Toa Payoh GRC. And looking at the Stomp picture, it appears to be a “she”. TRE will leave it to the intelligent readers here to make your own guess as to who he/she is :)

It certainly appears that PAP membership does have its privileges.

Source: TRE facebook

Gilbert Goh: Why I Organised the Labour Day Sequel Protest (1st May 2013)

10th April 2013

Dear Singaporeans,

By now, many of you would have known  of the labour day sequel protest – For a Better Singapore – organised about 2 1/2 months after the historic protest on 16 Feb.
Many people have also questioned whether the sequel  is organised  too soon whereas some have told me that it’s too late!

A sequel protest is  always hard to organise especially after a intensely successful event planned for the initial one.

The second labour day protest will once again feature on the 6.9 million population white paper and other matters that affect Singaporeans which include minimum wage, proper  labour legistration for both foreign and local workers, retirement planning among others.
However, I am heartened to know that to date, more than 460 people have indicated on our Facebook event page that they are attending the protest  sequel event – just after a week of our public announcement.

Another 150 have also indicated that they may be dropping by.

About  7000 facebook invitations have been sent out and the way it goes, we are confident that more than 10, 000 invitations will be sent out by the time the event commences on labour day.
We have forecasted a 10,000-size crowd and hopefully we can make it – can we count on you Singaporeans?

We urge the 4000 die-hard Singaporean warriors who braved the rain and mud on our first protest on  16 Feb  to come back again and if possible bring a friend along.

I have also heard from many friends who told me that many of their invited friends are afraid to turn up for the first protest but now they are coming for the sequel  as no one was arrested during the event and all of us went home in one piece!

I also want to reiterate again that speakers’ corner is a government-approved site for pprotest and demonstration though all speakers have to register themselves online with NParks for a speaking permit.

I have got my speaking permit and the permit number is

BOOKING ID: SP-12032013-1

I was surprised that many people do not know that we don’t need a protest permit at speakers’ corner at all and many people kept asking me for one – even those from the press!

Read this article from channelnewsasia dated 25 Aug 2008  to soothe your fear – Singapore can demonstrate at speakers’ corner from Sep 1

However, I must reiterate that its important  to maintain a united peaceful presence during the protest  and we hope to bring back the power of the people back to our country.

Don’t take me wrong – I am  not advocating for a illegal revolution here but clearly the people’s voices have been drowned out during five decades of fear-instigating repressive rule  – not unlike that of a autocratic dictator and we need to gather peacefully and legitimately to voice out our concern as one united people.

Many people have also told me that we can go to the ballot boxes once every five years but what happen to the period in between?

Many Singaporeans I know complaint and rant behind the moniker of their facebook page  or socio-political websites but is that enough?

We need to bring back the freedom of expression to our people abeit in a legal peaceful manner.

I have met many friends who told me that they felt frustrated whenever they saw how a policy was rammend down their thorat and they could not do anything about it.

The MPs they elected also were not very helpful especially if they belong to the ruling party and they have to vote according to the party’s whip.

Hopefully, speakers’ corner will provide that space for them to come out in one voice of peaceful defiance.

For too long, we have stayed fragmented, disunited and self-centred and the government has use this to their advantage.

When we used the word protest  for our first event, I faced strong objection from many of our volunteers – some tried to persuade me to use nicer sounding words like gathering, hang-out and even picnic!

I told them that the mass gathering was against an unpopular policy and protest was the right word. I was glad that we sticked with the word and everything was smooth after that.
I think that we may be too law-abiding  and compliant for our own good here.

Peaceful unifying civil disobedience gatherings that are  conducted peacefully and within the law is needed here so that our authorities could hear us loud and clear!

I believe the first protest has opened up the clear path for us to come up regularly in a peaceful unifying manner protesting as one united body against any policies that we  dislike.

A reporter from LianHe ZaoBao has asked me recently when she was gathering feedback on an article for her paper how often will we organise such mass protests.

I told her that so long the government does not listen to us and continue to pass down irresponsible policies that will harm the country – we will show up at Hong Lim Park to voice our displeasure.

Many ambiguous policies that are detrimental to the country were pushed through during the past few years as there is no unifying  voice from the people  and the camel’s straw breaker came when the government announced that they are going to bring in 6.9 million population to our country by the year 2030.

What particularly irked most Singaporeans is that there is no consultation whatsoever with the people and 77 men in white voted in a white paper that will have severe adverse repercussions for Singapore.

I have saw how accommodating the government has been since they lost the Punggol East by-election and hopefully our first mass protest has also caused them to relent.

Our recent budget has been the most worker-friendly I have seen in decades and hopefully the government will continue to listen to our voices.

Of course, we don’t want our government to back away from a policy whenever we protest but clearly we want them to be more consultative and open to discussion.

So Singaporeans, I am proud to say that your voice has been heard after the first massive protest turn-out and can we count on you to come out again for our second labour day protest?

Gilbert Goh
Sequel Protest organiser – For A Better Singapore

DPM Tharman refuses to answer WP’s questions in Parliament

10th April 2013

Mr Png Eng Huat, WP MP for Hougang SMC, posed a question to DPM Tharman, who is also the minister-in-charge of MAS, in Parliament yesterday (8 Apr).

Mr Png asked Mr Tharman in the past 10 years, how many times have Malaysia and Indonesia approached Singapore to provide information on their citizens who operate bank accounts out of Singapore, for tax or investigation purposes. He further asked whether any suspicious and irregular bank accounts were detected in the process.

Mr Tharman did not answer Mr Png’s questions directly. In fact, he refused to give any answers citing “international practices”.

Mr Tharman replied Mr Png using motherhood statements that Singapore cooperates readily with foreign jurisdictions to fight financial crime. [Ed. Wiktionary defines a "motherhood statement" as a "feel good" platitude, usually by a politician, about a worthy concept that few people would disagree with, without any specified plans for realisation. For example, "Our country must contribute to world peace."]

He said, “The channels of cooperation for tax and investigation purposes include Mutual Legal Assistance under the Mutual Assistance in Criminal Matters Act and Exchange of Information provided for under our bilateral tax agreements.”

With more motherhood statements, he added, “Our cooperation under each channel is guided by international standards and norms. Furthermore, under our anti-money laundering regime, financial institutions in Singapore are required to be vigilant against suspected illicit monies. They have to know their customers, and to report any suspicious transactions in customers’ accounts.”

He said that under the Mutual Assistance in Criminal Matters Act, Singapore stands ready to assist foreign authorities investigating possible criminal activity, including the exchange of bank account information.

“We can provide mutual legal assistance for investigations into money laundering as well as a wide range of serious crimes – including corruption, bribery and fraud. This is in line with the recommendations of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) and the United Nations Convention Against Corruption. Through our bilateral tax agreements, we also exchange information actively with Malaysia and Indonesia for tax investigations,” he said.
He then refused to divulge the numbers demanded by Mr Png, citing “international practices”.

Mr Tharman said, “It is generally not the international practice among authorities to reveal the number of legal assistance and information requests from specific countries.”

“However I can assure Members that we have helped fully on all requests from Malaysia and Indonesia in accordance with our current tax agreements. This includes information on details of transactions and companies.”

“Once our tax agreements with Malaysia and Indonesia are updated with the Standard… we can enhance tax cooperation further.”

In concluding his reply to Mr Png, Mr Tharman made the following cryptic remarks, “We have also offered to Malaysia and Indonesia to update our tax agreements with the internationally agreed Standard for exchange of information for tax purposes. The Standard provides for the exchange of bank information.”

“Once our tax agreements with Malaysia and Indonesia are updated with the Standard, just as for our tax agreements with other countries, we can build further on our good working relations with Malaysia and Indonesia and enhance tax cooperation further.”

Mr Tharman’s last remarks seem to indicate that something is currently stalling between Singapore and Malaysia/Indonesia on tax cooperation matters?

Mr Png’s questions came after a controversial video clip surfaced online last month, alleging that Sarawak Chief Minister Taib Mahmud, a senior leader of Malaysia’s ruling Barisan Nasional coalition, is involved in corruption. It was alleged that certain property transactions were done through Singapore to avoid paying Malaysia’s Real Property Gain Tax (RPGT).

In the video, Alvin Chong, a lawyer supposedly acting on behalf of Mr Taib’s family interests, said, “That’s why we choose Singapore. The Singapore Government has a China Wall… a firewall. They will not tell the Malaysian government, nothing… They [i.e the Malaysian government] ask them and they’ve been turned down… Sorry, it’s none of your business. They [i.e. Singapore] are the new Switzerland. Jurisdiction by choice for people like us.”

The video drew a strong response from the Monetary Authority of Singapore and Singapore’s Ministry of Finance (‘MAS & MOF: Allegation in video is simply false‘). The Singapore government countered, “The allegation is simply false. Contrary to what was claimed in the video, Singapore has to date provided fully the information requested by Malaysia for tax purposes.”

The government further said Singapore has designated a wide range of crimes as predicate offences to money laundering – including corruption, bribery and fraud. “Singapore therefore has been and remains able to provide mutual legal assistance to the fullest extent permitted under our laws where there are requests from Malaysia,” it said in a statement on 21 March 2013.

Source: TRE 

Singapore: Job application forms aid in discriminatory hiring

10th April 2013

There must be quite a few red faces at the government agencies when The Straits Times went to dig out tender advertisements these agencies had put up in recent months. The Ministry of the Environment and Water Resources, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore, a junior college and a primary school were all found to have breached anti-discrimination hiring guidelines by specifying age ceilings in requirements for security guards.

Amongst other excuses, both the ministries blamed it on an “oversight” from reusing old contract documents, meaning that it used to be standard practice. So it was a case of old hiring habits die hard, when clearly these old habits are no longer acceptable in a political environment that is casting a spotlight on employers for their recruitment practices.

Just last week, two firms had to apologise for job ads asking for specific nationalities.

Foreigners hiring their own kinds is a practice Singaporeans have plenty of anecdotal evidence on, and seems quite rampant in banks and other big corporations. So it’s good that the government has now openly acknowledged how widespread the problem is and is looking to tackle the issue at a national level.

Besides tackling discriminatory job ads, we should also look at archaic job application forms that ask for unnecessary personal information. The Tripartite Alliance for Fair Employment Practices (TAFEP) gives the following guidelines on application forms:
Job application forms are used to obtain relevant information from job applicants to assess their suitability for the job. Thus, job application forms should request for information relevant to the requirements of the job, to enable hiring managers to shortlist the right applicants for interview. This ensures that the job applicants are assessed fairly and based on merit.
Additional personal data if required for administrative purposes can be collected after selection or shortlisting. If the additional personal data are asked in the application form, the form should state that the information is captured for administrative purposes only.

If The Straits Times wants to do more investigative journalism (don’t laugh) in this area, it can take a look at the online application forms from our three local banks DBS, UOB and OCBC.

All three forms require date of birth, gender and nationality as mandatory fields. Marital status is compulsory for both DBS and UOB, and DBS goes even further in demanding for your race/ethnic group. For some strange reason, both OCBC and UOB think it’s vital to know where is your place of birth.

Note that these are applications for normal desk-bound office jobs, so there is no reason why your age, gender, race or marital status should matter.

For nationality, instead of blatantly asking for it, most global banks will ask something along the lines of “Do you require a work permit / visa for the location you are applying”. DBS’s form already contains such a field under “Resident Status in Country of Hire”.

We see that even without explicit discriminatory requirements in job ads, companies can easily use these compulsory but irrelevant personal information in their application forms to sieve out applicants on criteria other than pure merit.

All three forms also require passport/NRIC numbers that should only be provided nearer final selection, not in an initial submission. After all, this is sensitive information that shouldn’t be given out so freely when the majority of applicants will end up being rejected.

Other quirks include DBS giving you the option to upload your photo — it was a common practice to attach photos onto paper forms before the days of the Internet but a big no-no in some countries these days — and the other two banks asking you about your religion in an almost breezy “oh, by the way, if you don’t mind telling us” manner.

These are just examples from three local banks, and there must be other government agencies, GLCs and SMEs that are guilty of similar practices. It is not unheard of that some forms ask you to fill out details of your family ancestry, even if the job scope is more double-shot espresso-toting office boy than double-O-seven secret agent.

Unfortunately, this is an area that Singapore companies lag far behind international standards, and the government or TAFEP should really put out clear guidelines on what should not be allowed in application forms unless there are job-specific reasons for doing so.

These banks could argue that these information are merely for administrative purposes, as the TAFEP guidelines provide for if clearly stated so on the forms — except that their forms never give any such disclaimer; or they could blame it on JobStreet and JobsDB who host their job portals. Or it could just be another bureaucratic “oversight”.

Whatever the excuse, it is really — to put a pun on it — very bad form indeed.

Source: Void Decker

* The writer is a born and bred Singaporean currently residing in London, England with his lovely wife. Despite the rather unfortunate solemn face and reserved disposition, he has much to say on sociopolitical issues that continue to plague his beloved homeland. 

Angry Singaporean sells house to finance daughter’s medical studies overseas

10th April 2013

Let me share with you my situation.

My daughter did fairly well in her ‘A’ level. She got 3As and 1B – B for Physics but scored As for the 2 most important subjects for medicine – Biology and Chemistry.

She applied to NUS and was rejected. Not even an interview. She has always wanted to be a doctor her whole life. Her studies in Biology and Chemistry were top-notched. She is very self-discipline and we never have problems telling her to do her homework or reminding her to study since young. When NUS rejected her, she cried day and night.

As parents, how can we see her cry like that? It really breaks our hearts. We then made a family decision and sold our 5-room flat to support her medicine study overseas. We moved back to my parents – imagine, both of us are now in the 50s and we have to live with my parents who are now close to 80s!

My daughter applied to the overseas universities and guess what, she was accepted by a few: Monash University, University of Western Australia, Imperial College. In the end, we chose University of Western Australia because it’s closer to Singapore and it’s also cheaper to study in Australia than in UK. Still, the tuition fee itself cost me at least A$200K+, not counting room and board. All in, it will be A$300K+. I’m glad to see her happily studying medicine in Australia now.

Reading this article (‘Doctor-to-population ratio improved through massive FT recruitment‘) even angers me further. Why are we taking in foreign doctors when we do not even want to give our own Singaporeans a chance? And to think that I’ve served NS, for what? Why is the government not taking care of our own people first??? The fact that my daughter was accepted by some of these good universities shows that she is absolutely qualified to study medicine. Furthermore, she is really passionate about it. Why is the government depriving her, our very own people, that opportunity? To add further insults, I’ve read here that these foreign doctors actually graduated from some of these dubious third world universities?

This is really a big screw up by our government. Instead of investing to train more Singaporeans to become doctors, we are recruiting more foreign doctors. This is totally unacceptable and I might add, a treacherous act by the government!

I’m actually quite apolitical but this incident of NUS rejecting my daughter to study medicine when other good universities are accepting her, has given me a new perspective. The fact that I have to sell away my house and move back with my parents who are close to 80s really hurts me a lot. At their age, I should be taking care of them and yet, they have to shelter my family! I have one more son, because of his sister’s influence, is more inclined to study biology and medicine. I really don’t know what to do if he decides to also study medicine and NUS rejects him too. I have no more houses to sell. The only left would be by then, I can take out my CPF and use it to finance his overseas study.

I really cursed this government!

One more thing I would like to add – Yes, I’ll be attending the May Day protest!

Angry father
* Comment first appeared in: Doctor-to-population ratio improved through massive FT recruitment

Friday, 5 April 2013

Singapore's government lost US$600 million . . . what now?

5th April 2013

What does a failed real estate deal in New York City have to do with an island nation 9579 miles away?

In 2006, Tishman Speyer Properties and BlackRock Realty bought housing projects in Stuyvesant Town and Peter Cooper Village (both in Lower Manhattan) for US$5.4 billion. Built in the 1940s, it was meant to provide affordable housing in a city where costs were constantly going up. Laws were enacted to stabilise and regulate the rent.

Pic: AP.

The two real estate companies thought that money could be made from buying the housing projects, getting the rent-regulated tenants out and moving new tenants in at market rates. But when they were blocked after the tenants association went to court, the whole deal fell apart.

(READ MORE: Asia’s super rich swept up in tax haven data leak)

In its report, the NPR interviews Charles Bagli, a journalist who covered the purchase and went on to write the book Other People’s Money:
“They pretty much went through it unscathed,” Bagli says, “but CalPERS [the California Public Employees' Retirement System], the largest pension fund in the country, lost $500 million. Poof — gone. … Another pension fund down in Florida lost $250 million. The government of Singapore, well, they lost the most — over $600 million. It all just went poof.”
Over $600 million. This was Singapore’s loss from a deal that collapsed in 2010. In fact, an article published in January 2010 in The New York Times said:
The Government of Singapore Investment Corporation, which made a $575 million secondary loan, and invested as much as $200 million in equity, stands to lose all of that.
This is not the only time Singapore’s sovereign wealth funds have lost money; plenty more have been written off through failed investments like in Wall Street banks.  In 2008, Temasek Holdings – the country’s other sovereign wealth fund – admitted to losing over US$46 billion in just eight months, from March to November. GIC is expected to have lost at least the same amount.

(READ MORE: Singapore and her millionaires – does it matter?)

Every time such a loss occurs, a small fuss – usually online – may or may not occur. Coverage in the local press will probably come in the form of a straight report without much more – after all, Singapore’s press doesn’t usually subscribe to the ‘Fourth Estate’ role. Then the whole thing will fade away and things will continue with little or no significant change.

It’s a situation that may work out very well for those who have escaped taking the rap for botched investments, but doesn’t help Singapore or Singaporeans in the long run. The lack of accountability makes it a dangerous game – large amounts of money have already been lost without anyone really being the wiser, making one wonder if we will ever hit that moment when too much money is lost. If that ever happens, it will be far too late for us to demand accountability.

All we’ll be able to do then will be to ask ourselves, “Why didn’t we pay attention sooner?”

Source: Asian Correspondent

Investors won't run away if there is a change of government. Why?

5th April 2013

Recently I had occasion to take a taxi. During the 10-minute ride, I had an interesting conversation in Mandarin with the driver, who looked about 60.

As everyone knows, taxi drivers are fonts of wisdom because they travel all over Singapore and “have seen everything”.

Soon into the ride, the conversation veered to politics. The driver said in Mandarin, “My friend is scared that if we change government (i.e. PAP loses power and an opposition party, presumably WP, or a coalition of opposition parties takes over), investors will pull out their money. I say nonsense!”

I agreed that investors would not pull out their money if PAP lost power for two reasons:

1) the infrastructure and money remain for the new government to govern Singapore as well as or better than the previous government, and
2) it is costly for foreign investors to withdraw suddenly because they would be making forced sales.

The taxi driver continued, “If a 6-month old child loses his entire family in a disaster, what happens to the child? Will he die?”

“No, he will carry on living. In fact, he will even prosper (成财 pronounced chen chye).”
“Will the head of army resign? No. Will the head of police resign? No. Will the head of HDB resign? No.”

“If they resign, promote the number 2. In fact, the number 2 will be grateful to you (i.e. the new government) for promoting him to number 1.”

PAP has always used scare tactics to get people to vote for them. It worked in the past because no one knew how to refute them. Wise and experienced Singaporeans such as our brother taxi driver could only be heard in coffee shops, and his excellent refutation was thus limited to a small audience.

But now there is such a thing called the internet, as a result, our brother taxi driver has a larger, indeed global, audience.

So the next time PAP employs their standard scare tactic i.e. foreign investors will all run away if PAP is not returned to power, we will all know how to answer them.


Source: TRE

The rise of xenophobia against Singaporeans in SG

5th April 2013

With the mass importing of foreigners into Singapore, there is a new trend or classification arising where you see xenophobia on the rise amongst foreigners. One clear example is in the workforce, where Singaporeans are not hired for jobs that they are fully capable of managing and delivering.

Instead what you see are pockets of foreigners who hire their own native people to protect and secure their own interests. Such practices are xenophobic and a subset of being Singaporean-phobic.

Just look at your work place. Do you not see the foreigners forming their own clusters, and refusing to blend in like the rest of us Singaporeans did in the old days?

The social fabric of being Singaporean is destroyed and the real root cause is the epic failure created by PAP single-handedly.

The impact of such failed policies produces many ill effects on Singaporeans, such as stress, low birth rate, high divorce rates, overcrowding.

As the foreign population grows, there will likely be an increase in xenophobic recruitment practices at our workplace, where it will likely be focused and targeted on being Singaporean-phobic,

Eventually Singaporeans will lose their edge in the working world and one thing will lead to another where bills pile up, stress goes up and you can fill in the blanks of where we are going with this kind of destructible policy.

We have been subsidizing PAP for its failed policies and the only way to change the course of our Singaporean destiny is to wake up and say “NO to 6.9 MILLION” at Hong Lim Park on 1st of May and also we need to retrench our MP’s who claim they represent our voice in parliament and voted against our wishes in parliament.

There are many PAP supporters who lost their jobs and suddenly woke up to this hellish living nightmare of not even having a decent paying job in your own country not because you are lazy or not because you are not talented, but because we have agreements with other countries to give them jobs in Singapore!

So turn up in strength at Hong Lim Park to show we care for our future and we want answers on accountability and transparency, from the AIM’s 2 dollar sage , Brompton bicycle, the actual cost of HDB costing , release our CPF at 55, free medical, free education.

PAP is not Singapore and Singapore is not PAP. We built this country and we put up with their failed policies long enough to see how it’s destroying our lives and children’s future.
See you there brothers and sisters and bring a friend along.

NS men, this is your true call of duty, our NATIONAL SERVICE!

What we do now, we echo in eternity!


Source: TRE


Wednesday, 3 April 2013

Singapore's PM Lee make bad taste jokes on China at dinner in Washington DC

3rd April 2013

Singapore is well-known for its efficiency and order, but on a visit to Washington the city state’s prime minister displayed a less advertised attribute — humour.
Singapore's Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong
In an after-dinner speech to U.S. businessmen, Lee Hsien Loong made a couple of jokes that could pass for stand-up comedy.

He drew laughs — and some groans — with his quips, including several about China’s environmental problems.

“Beijing residents joke that to get a free smoke all they have to do is open their windows!” Lee said.

He then alluded to thousands of pig carcasses recently fished from Chinese rivers.
“(In) Shanghai, if you want some pork soup, you just turn on the tap,” he said.

His audience appeared doubtful if that was in good taste, until he added: “That’s their joke, not mine!”

Lee, who met earlier in the day with President Barack Obama, had serious messages in his speech too.

He spoke about the challenges facing China as it emerges from its once-in-a-decade leadership transition, and on the need for the two global powers, the U.S. and China, to get along.

Singapore gets on well with both, and Lee said China, which remains cautious about political reform, looks at the prosperous city state to try to understand how to balance its economic and social goals as it develops.

With a little self-deprecation, Lee described Singapore as a “tiny Bonzai model” for China to learn from.

Lee is the son of Singapore’s founding prime minister, Lee Kwan Yew, who steered the Southeast Asian nation’s remarkable development for many years while keeping a firm grip on power.

The same party has ruled for the past 50 years, although the political opposition gained ground in national elections in 2011.

Source: The Vancouver Sun

Town councils’ new IT contract has ‘boundary change’ option?

3rd April 2013

I refer to the article “Japanese company wins PAP town councils’ IT contract” (Straits Times, Apr 3).
Leong Sze Hian

New contract has “boundary change” clause?
It says that the contract includes a clause for boundary changes. What exactly is this clause and what does it mean?

“Don’t care a hoot” about AIM review?
Given the public outcry on the termination of the software when the town council changed, and the fact that the review has yet to be completed, is it in a way, jumping the gun and ignoring perhaps a fundamental and controversial issue which the review is expected to address?

How much cost savings?
As to the new software giving cost savings in the maintenance of the town council, can we have more details as to how the savings are derived?
How much are the savings expected to be?

Opposition town council’s software cost?
In the interest of evaluating the prudential use of residents’ funds, how much did the opposition town councils pay for their software?

Difference between “software”?
Are there significant differences in the functionality of the different town councils’ software?

Software is “obsolete”?
When did the town councils realise that their existing software is obsolete and thus require a new software to be developed? Can we be given the timeline of the actions that were taken?

“$64,000″ question remains unanswered?
Finally, the “$64,000″ question that many people have been asking – how much was the cost of the existing software system – remain unanswered?
How can there be transparency and accountability when such a simple question in the public interest continues to be greeted with silence?

Source: Leong Sze Hian
Leong Sze Hian is the Past President of the Society of Financial Service Professionals

NEC wins PAP town councils’ IT contract

3rd April 2013

Dr Teo Ho Pin, coordinating chairman of PAP-run town councils, announced in a statement yesterday (2 Apr) that NEC Asia Pacific is the winner of the PAP town councils’ IT contract. NEC won with the lowest bid.

Teo Ho Pin

Three IT companies had bid for the 7-year contract:
  • NEC Asia Pacific – $16.8 million
  • HCL Singapore – offering 2 options: $21.1 million and $27.5 million
  • NCS, a wholly owned subsidiary of the SingTel Group – offering 2 options: $16.8 million and $31.5 million
PAP town councils put up a new tender earlier to develop and maintain their town council computer systems. The existing controversial contract between PAP-owned company AIM and PAP town councils will end on 30 Apr this month.

AIM did not participate in the new tender but helped the PAP town councils to prepare the new tender specifications.

Dr Teo said NEC won partly due to its lowest bid. He also added that NCS’ $16.8 million bid was incomplete as it was only for 3 years. He explained that it was Deloitte and Touche Enterprise Risk Services, the appointed evaluator of the tender, who recommended NEC.
Dr Teo said, “The town councils are confident that the new software is a cost-effective solution which will enable them to better serve their residents.”

However, strangely, he also disclosed that “the published value of NEC’s bid of $17.6 million included an option that would be triggered if there were an electoral boundary change”. So, in other words, NEC had offered 2 options: $16.8 million (no electoral boundary change in the next 7 years) and $17.6 million (with electoral boundary change).

Presumably, say there are boundary changes in 2016 GE or by-elections (within the 7 year contract), NEC will then be charging the town councils more for shifting of residents’ data from 1 town council to another. However, Dr Teo is silent on what happened if any of the existing14 PAP town councils fall to oppositions later. Would we see a replay of AIM II?

PAP MP Charles Chong said that what is important in the change is that it benefits residents and the selection process is transparent and publicly defensible.

Meanwhile, the review of the controversial sale of town council management software to AIM has been extended to the end of Apr 2013 (‘MND’s review of TCs’ software sale to $2 AIM delayed‘). Under public pressure, PM Lee ordered MND to review the sale in Jan 2013, just a day before calling the Punggol East by-election which PAP eventually lost to WP. The public has criticised the sale of the software to PAP-owned company AIM as conflict of interest.

AIM chairman Chandra Das and Dr Teo declined to comment on the review.

Source: TRE

Tuesday, 2 April 2013

Social darwinism taking its toll on Singapore's workers

2nd April 2013

social darwinism

According to all surveys and research, Singaporean workers are among the most unhappy on this planet. Sometimes ago, Lumese reported that Singaporeans has the lowest employee loyalty among countries surveyed. And Singapore rank the 2nd worst, for job satisfaction. Even 3rd world country like China is far ahead of us. And PRC Chinese is well known for shrewdness. It seems that they are in better harmony.

Today, Yahoo reported 56% of Singaporean workers planning to quit within two years. Ranstad which did the survey stated the following that spurs workers to leave.

  • Dissatisfaction with pay 
  • Lack of work-life balance
  • Unpleasant work atmosphere

Two years back, research done by The Singapore Human Resource Institute highlight the following reasons for resignation.

  • Unsure of career progress
  • Lack of career opportunity
  • Achievement not recognised
  • Lack of learning opportunity, challenge in the job and expertise not valued
  • Dissatisfied with the boss

Extreme Social Darwinism in Singapore work place

PAP has actively encouraged and social engineered jungle culture in Singaporean work place. A good example is civil service. The bottom 10% are humiliated to the point that most of them leave on their own.

In Singapore, workers are manipulated. You will not get recognition even if you work hard or work smart. You need to make sure you are better than your buddies around you. In the end, workers in Singapore often back-stab one another.

Bosses in Singapore have tremendous power compared to many parts of the world. We are unhappy because we are under a dictatorial boss day in day out. The most important factor to survive in Singapore is not to excel in work, but to make your boss happy. You must stooge like the most shameless woman in harem. Even then, as there are too many sycophants in work place, bosses may not even appreciate your stooging. 

If a young man is too smart, the boss may hate him. Singaporean bosses are Machiavellian. Most ascend by playing politics, and despise hard work. They have a strong sense of jealousy against honest and intelligent workers. When they see a young and smart subordinate, they are guarded because bosses themselves may get replaced by smart subordinate, in retrenchment exercise.

The bosses are in charge of appraisal. Singaporean bosses usually have little moral values. They will rank someone low simply because he cannot get along with this particular subordinate, rather than base on actual output.

In Singapore, those who survive and prosper are often very dishonest and type A personalities. It is going to be worse and worse in the future until a point of time when the society breaks down.

Code word for Exploiting Workers

The below is the code code that bosses in Singapore often use for manipulations. Many workers take it at face value and eventually get distraughted.

You are not a team player

Boss want you to stooge even when someone bully you.

I will give you more responsibility

Euphemism for exploitation.

You must improve social skills

You hear that when your boss want you to stooge.

Need to increase productivity

Euphemism for exploitation.

I want to help you to improve in XXX area.

I am not happy in XXX area. I want to exploit you further.

Singaporeans need to be informed that there is no meritocracy in our society. We are a feudal state on the principle of exploitation and injustice.

Source: *Article first appeared on Veritas Lux