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Archive for December, 2011

Happy New Year! Goodbye 2011 and Hello 2012

December 31, 2011 Leave a comment

I would like to wish everyone a very Happy New Year in advance and may the new year brings you lots of joy and happiness 🙂

Looking back 2011, it has been a pretty bad year for the government. Votes going down, loss of a GRC, loss of a popular minister in exchange for a clueless kate spade lover who hopefully stops giving clueless speech either in public or on Facebook, taxi fares raising thanks to monopolistic player ComfortDelgro, unhappiness over the issue of population and foreigners, worst breakdown in history for SMRT, hundreds of millions and possibly billions of losses by Temasek and GIC (and for some reason they are still giving out bonuses in GIC according to my sources), heavy rains that causes flooding that are supposed to happen every 50 years became every few months (the world coming to an end??), a new word called ‘ponding’, inflation persisted throughout the year, prices for public housing remains stubbornly high……

Then again, the government had it lucky the worst part of the events occurred after the General Election and the Presidential Election. Personally, I am happy to sense and see real social changes happening with increasingly importance played by social media and increasingly vocal Singaporeans.

Okok, that’s all for now since I can’t write much comfortably on my tiny phone. Stay safe people!

Categories: Impartial Views

Merry Christmas everybody!

December 24, 2011 Leave a comment

I just came back from holidays and was astonished at the kind of damage the PAP (or government-linked, however you wish to call it) has digged for themselves this christmas. Firstly, I would like to suggest to PAP/ pro-PAP members to stop more defensive moves that seems to create a larger hole. PUB’s classification of a flash flood as ‘ponding’ is uncalled for. A flood is a flood. Damage is done, shop owners are unhappy about monetary losses and public is unhappy to see their favorite shopping street ‘ponded’ again. Concrete actions are needed to solve the problem and they can stop playing with the English dictionary. And why are plans to widen the canals only be implemented next year? Where is the urgency since the flooding of Orchard Road SIX months ago??? Probably the top management at PUB are having fun clearing their leave after getting their fat bonuses.

MP Seng’s recent note to push the blame to TOC is also uncalled for. His own pathetic little speech with poor use of English (and yes, he was telling people that broken english is ok) language sparks a chain of youtube videos and complaints before TOC started publishing an article (sure, it’s bias, but what do you expect from a media that tends to be more bias against government controlled media? I also admit in my first post that my blog tend to be bias against the government for very obvious reasons). Such an article posted on Facebook (rather than coming on bravely on national TV) is not only cowardy but also speaks volume about his sincerity in apologizing for this episode. More importantly, it seems to insinuate utterly poor communication skills of the authorities.

So much for a ‘world class’ government.

Let’s welcome our rise to the the Swiss standard of living (cost component only)

December 6, 2011 2 comments

http://sg.news.yahoo.com/s%E2%80%99pore-sixth-most-costly-city-in-asia–survey.html

Let’s congratulate ourselves for surpassing Hong Kong, where transportation is actually cheaper. Even my Hong Kong colleagues were complaining that Singapore cost of living is getting out of hand. Meanwhile, my other non-local colleagues were commenting how crowded Singapore is compared to just a few years ago. Even the foreigners were feeling the heat.

In the meantime, a little illustration on the historical price trend of crude oil (which affects diesel, the all important factor Comfort gave in increasing the cab fares drastically) I mentioned in my last post:


We see a gradual increase in oil price but it’s nowhere near the range back in 2008 or even the first half of this year. And trying to act all altruistic, ComfortDelgro simply conveniently pass on the responsibility of increasing taxi drivers’ salary to the consumers while contributing no part of their own.

Jump to another topic: while I have no comments on the largely ‘behind-the-scenes’ ex-president, this article makes me laugh:

http://sg.news.yahoo.com/i-don%E2%80%99t-want-to-defend-myself–s-r-nathan.html

I never realize one needs to be a genius to be ‘educated to understand the role of a president in Singapore’.  The funniest sentence reads, “…Nathan said that the role of Singapore’s president cannot be defined easily or clearly, and it would “take another generation at least” to educate Singaporeans about it.”

and,

“A lot of people think the president can do what he likes,” he said. “How to educate them? I don’t think you can.”

Wow. I was flabbergasted. What kind of job is it that cannot be defined easily or clearly? The role of a president cannot be educated to the general public within a generation! At the same time, Nathan is insinuating that he is just a puppet incapable of doing anything politically.

And the next joke is, paradoxically, the article continues to read:

The former president said it is knowledgeable people, rather than Singaporeans in the heartlands, who are questioning his previous role.

“The people in the heartlands, even though many are not very well educated, they see it as a symbol that is distinct from the government. But knowledgeable people seem to think you can do what you like,” he noted.

So basically ‘knowledgeable people’ cannot be ‘educated’ about the role of a president in Singapore. What a total oxymoron. What Nathan actually wanted to say is uneducated people is easier to be brainwashed and controlled compared to a more educated and liberal population. I believe this largely reflects the general view of the ruling party (you don’t need a genius to guess why).

The PAP will change say Lee Hsien Loong? I give them a million years to even start acting on it.

Price up, up, up

December 5, 2011 4 comments

Is there any reason why nobody is feeling they have gained anything from the so called economic growth?

Just today, ComfortDelgro announced a ridiculous increase in taxi fares to ‘cater to higher demand’, just weeks after a price revision by SMRT and a report stating that transportation and accommodation are the two main drivers of inflation in Singapore. While I am not against price increase, the magnitude of increase this time round is jaw dropping.

As a summary, most prices (per unit, whether in minutes or meters) increased from almost 4% to 22%. Current booking of Limousine increased from $8 to $10 while advanced booking of limousine increased from $16 to $18.

While peak hour surcharge decreased from 35% to 25%, the hours extended from 7am-9am from Mon-Fri and 5pm-8pm from Mon-Sat to a ridiculous 6am-9am (excluding public holidays) and 6pm to MIDNIGHT Mon-Sun including public holidays. How on earth is 6am considered peak period baffles me. On the other hand, we have ministers asking the citizens to travel to work earlier (and gave some cents off your transport cost). If 6am is considered peak, I don’t know what is non-peak. It’s totally ridiculous.

Do you know what that means? It means you’ll forever be paying ‘premium prices’ from 6pm to 9am the following day. From 6pm to midnight, you have to pay 25% more. From midnight to 5:59am, you have to pay midnight surcharge of 50%. From 6am to 9am, you have to pay 25% more again. So according to ComfortDelgro, peak hours (including midnight demand) forms 15 hours a day.

The removal of holiday surcharge of the pathetic $1 is a joke.

The ComfortDelgro group is taking advantage of their monopolistic position to push prices up, and given their close connection to the government, we have the ‘National Taxi Association’ URGING other taxi companies to follow suit. Well, given that the big boy is taking the lead, other smaller taxi companies would just have to follow suit. The last thing I want to know is ComfortDelgro is increasing their rent to the taxi drivers (and probably quote the increasingly expensive COE and oil price (like when is oil price not a reason right?) as a reason).

The often used excuse is diesel oil price is increasing and the taxi group is ‘doing their part’ to ‘help’ the taxi drivers cope with the rising cost. While it’s true that diesel oil price is increasing, crude oil (the main factor affecting diesel) is no where near the price levels back in 2007 (the so called last price adjustment). The economic outlook is pretty dim given all the US and Europe financial problems. And the company has strategically opted to increase prices before you feel your wallet shrinking. If the company is sincere in helping the taxi drivers, why don’t they lower their obscene rental rates?

Who are the losers? Consumers of course. With local transportation fully monopolized by government linked companies, consumers don’t have much of a choice. What is made even worse is the sub-par trains and bus services we have that is overwhelmed by the increasing population. While SBS and SMRT loves to self-praise themselves as world class, they are not comparable to Hong Kong, Taiwan and Japan. Even the taxi drivers might end up losing as the higher price will kill off more demand which might leads to lower pick up rates.

Every price is going up, up, up in Singapore. Officials say inflation is 5%. Do you feel it’s 5%? Property tax just went up because housing valuation is increasing. What causes housing valuation to shoot over the roof? Poor housing policy handling by the PAP government, and opening the flood gates to foreigners into the country and allowing them to enter the HDB market; subsidized housing originally planned for Singaporeans. So now Singaporeans are paying the price for such failed policy (admitted by the PAP themselves that they have failed in this area) while paying the ministers such high salaries?

While the government claims that a higher population will make Singapore better off, what we see is an entirely different picture. We see tonnes of problems caused mainly by increased demand for goods and increased land demand thanks to the liberal population policy. We only see increased cost of living especially in housing and transportation, deteriorating infrastructure as the increasing population continues to overwhelm, marginal increase in salary that ends up mostly eaten away by inflation, decreased quality of life due to alarmingly shrinking flats (while some lame academic high post officer from HDB claims that personal space is larger due to smaller household size, it doesn’t make any sense since a larger household can simply buy 5-rooms flats instead of 4-rooms. Personal space and utility of a larger living space is not correlated), suppressed salary for the unskilled and uneducated due to cheaper labor from poorer countries made worse by the lack of minimum wage laws and uncontrolled population policy, distortion of the social fabric…..I can go on and on.

What one obvious benefit of a liberal population policy is: more tax money being collected by the government. However, I have yet to see any being used significantly in pressing problems such as the poor, disabled and elderly. All these, while hearing billions of losses from Temasek and GIC.

To the authorities if you ever read this post, are you ever ashamed of yourselves? How the heck did you manage to sleep soundly at night? Oh, I forgot, you are too busy counting your money in the bank to take notice. And when is the Salary Review Committee announcing the ministers’ salary review again? The last time I heard the committee’s second meeting is scheduled in year 2016.

Xenophobia & Racism

December 4, 2011 2 comments

I have been too busy to post although I do have some thoughts to post about, especially on the housing issue. Any how, I saw this video posted on Facebook and thought to myself: Will Singapore ever got to this stage?

My Tram Experience

It is always easy to criticize that the ‘racist white women’ is, well, racist. And as I’d mentioned before in my blog, racism and xenophobia are dirty words. Words that imply intolerance made even more unforgivable in this modern society. The modern times is, supposedly, perceived to be globalized, highly tolerant and racial blind.  The hard truth is, racism is here to stay ever since Darwin coined the term ‘race’. Even Ivy Leagues in the United States could not escape from this controversial topic.

Before we jump into history and start blaming the British that they tasted their own medicine from colonial days, let us look deeper. The question we should be asking is: Why did this British women, presumably educated and aware that ‘racism is wrong’, would do such a preposterous act in public?

Going by her statement on ‘…look! look the whole f****** tram is…black people…” My guess is, she does not feel that her home is home anymore. Does that sounds familiar? No one likes to feel being discriminated. But at the same time, how many of you can really say you are not racist at any one point in time? I admit I do have my racist moments. Such feelings erupt whenever you felt overwhelmed by a body of unfamiliar faces and accents and behaviors that does not fit into your familiar circle of social conduct. It’s a defensive act towards unfamiliarity, to protect the social construct you are comfortable with.

Politicians sweep it off as globalization and harp on that they can do nothing about it. While they cannot reverse the trend of globalization, every government has the choice of softening the impact. The way I see it, I do not wish for the time of heightened xenophobia and racism among Singaporeans to come. And the authorities can, and should do something that can significantly lessen the social distortion that the sharp jump in foreigners bring to Singapore.

Categories: Signs