Wednesday, November 28, 2012

We Pay $1.1 Billion To Get A Bus Strike?

I was aghast when parliament approved the $1.1 billion (Bus Service Enhancement Programme) of taxpayers money to be given the bus companies to improve bus services.

We cannot help the poorest of the poor in Singapore by providing them with 3 meals in hawkers centre (No, not in food court , definitely not in hotel restaurant!); we cannot have minimum wage for the lowest paid; we cannot buy flats from HDB at affordable price (no, not subsidised but reasonable price at cost plus basis) BUT we can blow $1.1 billion to add comfort to the two public transport operators.

Now I am devastated!

Red vs Red
Men In Red
Vehicles in Red
Do the 'Ang Chia's (Special Operations Command vehicles) still intimidate? Or are they merely 'toys' to PRCs because PRCs did messed around with tanks in Tiananmen Square previously?

I know not the legality nor the justification for the strike by the drivers from PRC. I only know that in Singapore . . .

Times . . . . they are a' changin'!

In the good ole days, when civil servants were charged for corruption, they pleaded guilty and quietly walked into the sunset doing their best not to upset or embarrass the AG and/or the ruling party.

Today, when civil servants are charged for corruption, they take the AG on and show to the public that integrity is worth fighting for. They no longer take it sitting down. The case of former Central Narcotics Bureau (CNB) director Ng Boon Gay against te AG is a good example.

In the good ole good ole days, politicians encouraged workers of bus company to strike for fair wages, justice and equality -  and also to enhance their personal political power?  Ironically today, politicians condemned striking bus drivers for their fight for fair wages, justice and equality. Do they do it for the same reason - to enhance their political power? Or do they do it for the welfare  and well-being of the bus drivers?

Lately, SMRT has been in the limelight for all the wrong reasons. Apart from the MRT breakdowns that caused the resignation of Saw Phaik Hwa, and the current bus strike by PRCs, emotion also ran high amongst Singapore bus drivers over their pay and working condition (Link) which, I think, eventually led to the resignation of Ong Ye Kung, the Deputy Secretary General of NTUC. However, “That’s not really the reason for my decision,” he wrote in his facebook. Well, to each is own, conflict of interest is something not easy to live with and "to have the cake and it it too" happens to only the powerful few! Eg: selling an affordable apartment at subsidised price and still making a fat profit out of it! Or do they really sell under cost? 

Anyway, through Transport Minister Lui Tuck Yew, we pay $1.1 billion for a fooking strike!

So very funny . . . 


Saturday, November 24, 2012

NATCON Goes To China and PAP Becomes PTP

I started blogging way back then because, in my perception, a PAP Minister has insulted many male senior citizens of Singapore. [Link] In trying to defend the shifting of the goalposts of CPF (delaying as long as possible the payment due to CPF members), he has added insult to injury!

I understand that in an attempt to scare the shit out of bloggers recently, Ng Eng Hen has engaged the services of a lawyer to demand an apology and retraction of articles in a blog on matter pertaining to NS and disruption of services by NSMen. [Link]

So much has been said by PAP about building a more gracious society in Singapore. If graciousness as encouraged and promoted by none other than PM Lee Hsien Loong is for real, I'm simultaneously amazed and dismayed by the trigger-happy action of Ng Eng Hen.

Graciousness is not about arrogance, pomposity or abuse of wealth and power to extract a pound of flesh as in Shakespeare's Shylock. Being gracious is to be kind and to understand and empathise with the frustrations and possibly the inadequacy of others. Even to better one's ministerial image, I believe it is against commonsense to create fear, bully and make money at the expense of sense!

Does such trigger-happy self-enriching threat to maintain one's reputation and integrity enhance the value of graciousness in Singapore? Or does it demonstrate the depressingly ugly notion that the politically rich, powerful and well-connected can walk all over the less endowed Singaporeans?

With all the apologies (wiping of tears and all), talk on building a gracious society, the hype-up NATCON to listen to people and whathaveyou, this self-serving act to maintain one's integrity is equivalent to throwing a pie onto one's own face!

Alas, why can't political leaders in Singapore realise that dignity, reputation, honour and fame comes not from being demanding and commanding but from being honest, sincere, trustworthy, helpful and forgiving? If they can only
  • lead by example and not talk through their bottom hole; 
  • if they can walk the talk instead of walking the cock; 
  • if they can speak of the real truths instead of the "hard truths", 
then they would not be at a loss now -  embarrassingly flying all the way to China to hold a NATCON (national conversation) !
Isn't it waste of good money and time to send Sim Ann to China to put forth a wayang to show that the government is 'listening'? I fear the day when they start sending other ministers to all corners of Mother Earth to NAT CON! Then again, with PAP and "within the radius of 200 metre is not within the 200 metres" [Link], what else would PAP not do?

If the PAP government that has ruled us for more that 40 years still knows not the problems that we face
  • overcrowding due to the senseless import of immigrants
  • perception that immigrants are treated better than common locals 
  • "affordable" housing that sucks the retirement fund of common Singaporeans (ie. if they can afford to buy the flat in the first place); 
  • transportation woes; 
  • the great social and economic divide between the PAP Elites and the commoners 
then one wonders why we are paying PAP ministers the obscene millions!

There is no need for the people to TALK  (as in the NATional CONversation)

There is an urgent need for the PAP government to ACT! 

Has PAP become PTP?
Has the People's Action Party become the People's Talking Party?

With the current trend of rich and powerful PAP Ministers engaging lawyers to threaten bloggers to shut the fook up and say they are sorry, who knows who will be next? 

Meanwhile, I recommend that you read this article [Link] from another fogey who has a heart greater than mine. Yes, I have a damaged heart but he has a heart he's not born with . . . and a great writer he is!


UPDATE (25 Nov 2012) :
In the Sunday Times of 25 Nov 2012, the PM said, "And it is our responsibility to lead that discussion together with the people in order to persuade people to see things more in the way we do." 

He added, 'If PAP cannot win election, there is a risk that "politics would malfunction because it is not going to be easy to put together another group to make Singapore work". "In Singapore we must not let that happen. That means that PAP must stay strong, must stay vibrant with members who believe in their cause, who are prepared to serve and fight to win"

Seriously, will we be worse off than we are if PAP no longer rules Singapore? Such high-falutin' self-praise! Such sense of self-worth and pomposity is what make Singaporeans (not all though) ashamed of their arrogant leaders. 

Do we see what the National Conversation is all about now? 'Buying and fixing" did not work. The "carrot and the stick of no HDB Upgrading for opposition wards" did not work. Now the cat has come out of the bag of the "charm offensive" - The National Conversation is simply a prelude to the general election of 2016. 

The PAP members and grassroots were not in the know in 2011 and their feedback ended with an erosion of votes to the benefit of the opposition. So feedback must now come from all Singaporeans through NATCON? They 'fight to win!'  And PAP is starting the fight early!

Do you think that National Conversation is for the benefit of the people or a ploy by PAP to win more votes in GE2016? 

So brutha and sista, are we there yet? What do you think?


Sunday, November 18, 2012

Is HDB Apartment As Affordable As A $8 CAGB?

When I read that the Minister of National Develoment said, "BTO flats affordable for first-timers " and  "I think not enough credit is given to my ministry' with a smile, (ST Page A6 17 Nov 2012I thought, maybe just maybe, during his $8 Coronary Artery Graft Bypass operation, the surgeons might have accidentally removed Khaw Boon Wan's Buddhist heart! [Link]

"We take affordability fully into account when pricing BTO flats. New flats enjoy generous discounts off market prices" . .  . "Looking at it from the situation that we are facing today, I find these figures very reasonable."

"Resale price is beyond my control. That is set by buyer and seller. But for first-timers buying BTO flats, that is within my control and it is my job to ensure it will be affordable." (emphasis mine and italics appeared in ST). Maybe a BTO flat can be as affordable as a $8 CAGB? [Link]

So the rise in prices of new HDB flats (12% since 2009) is less than that of resale units (34% since 2009). With that Khaw Boon Wan "think not enough credit is given to my ministry". The way that ministers go about asking and claiming credit (more so in their facebook) is discomfortingly embarrassing! Worse, it feels like in kick in the testicles when they still want credit after messing us up by increasing the price of HDB flats!

For the life of me and the rest of common Singaporeans, I do not understand how on earth a HDB flat is "subsidised" when the cost of building it is less than the selling price. I also cannot bring myself to accept the logic of HDB benchmarking its BTO selling price to prices of open market resale flats! If it is within the control of Khaw Boon Wan, why is he still pricing BTO flats the way he does?

The word affordable is so relative. In relation to a ministers's pay, the price of a BTO 4-room apartment at $310,000 is merely loose change in the pocket. However, to a commoner in Singapore, $310,000 (excluding interest) is one heck of a sum that needs maybe more than a life time to pay!!!

"We can't just measure our success by GDP growth, important as this is, but also by the growth of our values: compassion, empathy, altruism, love for our fellow citizens," said PM Lee Hsien Loong [Link]. If only they can do what they preach then NATO would not stand for "No Action, Talk Only!" What about "building a democratic society based on justice and equality" that our school kids and teachers read out loud every school day? Many concerned citizens and I are deafened by the silence from the Prime Minister on his PAP colleague Seah Kian Peng's intervention in a Traffic Warden's job [Link]. Does that mean MP Seah is more equal and has more justice than other Singaporeans? If silence from PM means consent, I guess we are done for!

To knock some senses into PAP and show that great ideas do not necessary come from the overpaid PAP ministers, I'm glad that SDP has worked on alternatives that the cheap NATCON (National Conversation) would do its utmost to avoid. As expected, they declined the invitation by SDP to a National Conversation that touches so many in Singapore!

Please read the exchanges below.


9 November 2012
Dear Mr Jufrie,
Thank you for sharing SDP’s housing plan with us.
MND has also received suggestions from other Singaporeans regularly. We welcome all feedback and suggestions, as they help us fine tune our policies.

Yours sincerely,
Tan Pei Shan (Ms)
Deputy Director / Housing
for Permanent Secretary
Ministry of National Development.

SDP then wrote back saying that what Singapore’s public housing needs is an overhaul rather than just “fine-tuning”.

SDP said, “When Singaporeans are retiring without CPF savings because they have sunk their funds into over-priced HDB flats, the situation calls for an overhaul, not fine-tuning.”

SDP’s reply:
15 November 2012
Khaw Boon Wan
Ministry of National Development

Dear Sir,
I thank you for your reply dated 9 November 2012 through your Permanent Secretary.
It is incomprehensible that you would consider the public housing in need of only “fine-tuning”. You seem not to understand the anger and frustration that Singaporeans have with the public housing system.

When the HDB markets a three-room flat for nearly $800,000 the situation calls for drastic action, not “fine-tuning”. When Singaporeans are retiring without CPF savings because they have sunk their funds into over-priced HDB flats the situation calls for an overhaul, not “fine-tuning”. When, our younger generation put off having children because they cannot afford buying their own homes the situation calls for reform, not “fine-tuning”.
I hope that you will be able to see that the problems Singaporeans face over housing are real and significant.

I invite you to give the housing situation in Singapore a full and public airing by debating the SDP so that Singaporeans can compare and contrast the PAP’s system with the SDP’s plan. This will allow the people to see which policy is better for them and choose accordingly at the next elections.

Thank you.

Jufrie Mahmood
Singapore Democratic Party

Monday, November 12, 2012

Just Who Is Entitled To Entitlement Mentality?

So how has the NATCON progress?

Poor sod, ST Editor reminds all that NATCON needs to focus attention on critical issues at hand. He has now set an agenda on what we should 'con' about. ST Nov 11, 2012 Think Page 45 

Sadly for him and PAP, the way things are, it's degenerated into a self-talk between PAP and mainstream media.

The lastest charm offensive was at the Singapore Children's Society where the Prime Minister said, "The government cannot, and should not do, try to do everything. It is too impersonal. It can be bureaucratic and help then becomes a matter of social administration, not of care and compassion. And eventually, this fosters an entitlement mentality, instead of a sense of mutual obligation of and of gratitude between the helpers and the helped." [Link]

Oops! To who does this entitlement mentality belong? Though it hurts, let's wise up to the fact that entitlement mentality of the less endowed is less harmful than entitlement mentality practised by the rich and powerful!. Here are some good examples:
  • PAP MPs who think they are entitled to and deserve to show off their faces and advertise themselves cheaply at every street corner at every festivity, be it Chinese New Year, Hari Raya, Christmas, Deepavali, Moon Cake Festival, etc. 

  • PAP Ministers who think that they are entitled to and deserve obscene salary
  • PAP MP who think that they are entitled to special privileges, rights and power in messing with rules, regulations and laws. Did you hear of PAP MP Seah Kian Peng instructing traffic warden not to issue summons for offenses committed? [Link].
  • Attorney General who was entitled to read and interpret English in a funny way when Lee Hsien Loong, Goh Chok Tong and Tony Tan were caught in a polling station in Cheng San GRC. "Plainly, a person inside a polling station cannot be said to be within a radius of 200 metres of a polling station" [Link]
I'm sure readers would have known of more incidents of 'entitlement mentality' practised by others. It'll be good to hear from you.

Meanwhile, you may like to read this [Link] and watch the following to dig deeper into what entitlement mentality is all about.

From the way that PAP treats FTs so differently from the way it treats Singaporeans (what with one calling us "dogs"), this angry foreigner in the video above in his entitlement mentality may even think that he can get away with murder!


Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Chief Justice and Cheng San GRC

Apart from Law Minister Shanmugum and others who sing praises of the Chief Justice, PM Lee's letter appeared in todayonline below [Link]. 

I do not know what the celebration is about of a guy retiring but I'm shocked that of all the songs and dances of praise given to CSK, nothing was mentioned of a groundbreaking incident that happened in 1997 at Cheng San GRC Polling Station [Link - AG's Letter to Law Minister 1997]

To each his or her own perception and interpretation of English. To contend that being in a 200 metre radius is not within the 200 metres radius is a weird understanding and interpretation of the English Language. Reading deeper, could the implication mean that the golden rule is: He who has the gold rules!

Why the PM did not thank the outgoing CJ for his recommendation to the then Law Minister of 1997 is beyond me. If English was read differently and the AG then had taken a case against LHL, GCT and TT, would we have the President and Prime Minister that we have today?

What do you think???

PM Lee's letter to retiring Chief Justice Chan Sek Keong
Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong has written the following letter to retiring Chief Justice Chan Sek Keong:

Dear Chief Justice Chan,

As you complete your tenure as the third Chief Justice of Singapore, I write to thank you for your outstanding service to Singapore over the last 26 years.

In 1986, the Government persuaded you, after several attempts, to leave a highly successful commercial practice and enter public service as Singapore's first Judicial Commissioner. Two years later, you became a Judge of the Supreme Court and, in 1992, Attorney-General, a position you held for 14 years.

You served as Public Prosecutor with distinction, always acting in accordance with the highest standards of professionalism and integrity. This was especially critical in the cases of Flor Contemplacion and Michael Fay, which put Singapore under the international spotlight and significant pressure. The manner in which your office prosecuted these cases unequivocally demonstrated the objectivity, fairness and integrity of our legal system.

As Attorney-General, you also provided wise counsel on many complex legal issues. On your advice, the Government passed legislation in 1993 to discontinue the automatic reception of English law, thus finally cutting our legal system's colonial links to England. You headed three major policy reviews to ensure that we trained sufficient lawyers while avoiding an excess supply. You chaired the Legal Services Review Committee, which in 1999 recommended creating the Joint Law Venture and the Formal Law Alliance vehicles to attract offshore law practices to Singapore. These measures have significantly contributed to Singapore's economy, especially our international services hub

You strengthened the Attorney-General's Chambers by establishing the International Affairs Division and the Law Reform and Law Revision Division, and personally led efforts to build up a corps of professional and dedicated lawyers, imbued with the right values, in the Chambers.

Your appointment as Chief Justice in 2006 was received with widespread approbation, reflecting the high regard of the legal fraternity for your abilities and leadership.

As Chief Justice, you presided over the administration of justice with rectitude and dignity. You set up the Sentencing and Bail Review Panel to develop internal judicial guidelines on sentencing and bail. These guidelines ensured that our courts handed down sentences that were consistent and proportionate, and met society's expectations of what constituted just punishment.

You maintained the high standards of court efficiency attained by your predecessor, simplifying interlocutory procedures and installing the Integrated Electronic Litigation System. Yet you never allowed efficient court adminis-tration to compromise a fair and just decision in each case. Lawyers consider you a supremely knowledgeable judge who never denied anyone a fair hearing.

You constantly encouraged the legal profession to do more for the less fortunate. Under your guidance, the Subordinate Courts set up the HELP Centre, which guides litigants through the court process and improves their access to justice, for which the Courts won the United Nations Public Service Award.

Your decisions have enriched the corpus of Singapore jurisprudence. Your public law judgments constantly reaffirm the courts' constitutional function to ensure that the legislature and executive act within the law. Your writings and speeches reflect your steadfast commitment to upholding the law without fear or favour.

As the ex-officio Chairman of the Legal Service Commission, you oversaw an expansion of the Legal Service from 290 officers in 2006 to almost 500 today. The Legal Service's human resources framework was reviewed and revitalised to build a more vibrant and robust Service.

Your tenure as Chief Justice has raised the standing of our legal system at home and abroad, and attracted many foreign delegations to study our courts. Your contributions have been widely recognised, including by the

National University of Singapore which conferred upon you an honorary Doctor of Laws, and Lincoln's Inn which elected you an honorary bencher.

Under your able leadership, the International Court of Justice affirmed our sovereign rights to Pedra Branca. For this signal service to Singapore, you were conferred the Order of Temasek (Second Class).

You also served on the Presidential Council of Minority Rights for 20 years, six of them as Chairman. At Council meetings, you conscientiously studied the provisions and context of each piece of legislation which came up for scrutiny, to satisfy yourself that they did not discriminate against any racial or religious group. In so doing, you operated an important constitutional safeguard that assured our minority communities of their place and rights in Singapore.

Singapore is grateful for your outstanding contributions. You have strengthened the foundations of our legal system, and will continue to inspire many in the future. I thank you for your many years of dedicated service to Singapore.

Yours sincerely,

Lee Hsien Loong

Again, I'm surprised that PM Lee did not thank Chan Sek Keong for the 1997 polling station incident at Cheng San. If the ex-AG read English in a way that is read by most readers, Lee Hsien Loong together with Goh Chok Tong and our current President Tony Tan may not be where they are today!


Saturday, November 3, 2012

"Don't talk much, just do what you can"

K Shanmugum in Straits Times:
One whole page (Straits Times Page A35 of 2 Nov 2012) was dedicated to Law and Foreign Minister K Shanmugum, headlined "Tempering the law with compassion". 

At the end of the piece, Shanmugum was quoted, "Don't talk much, just do what you can". I find it amusing that one who "doesn't talk much but let the work speaks for himself" would allow himself to be interviewed and take up a whole page in Straits Times.

Would listening to what he said here help us understand what law, compassion and the AG office in Singapore is all about?

George Yeo in Straits Times:
According to ST again, George Yeo is a businessman? I thought he's employed by the Kerry Group in Hong Kong. Or has he bought much shares with his past minister's salary and pension to be part-boss of the company? When George spoke of being "in the flow", was he referring to "sacrificing integrity, beliefs, friends and supporters to enhance one's personal well-being without a thought or care about the core value of trust and loyalty"? To be "in the flow" is to be in a "in the zone" which is to be "in a positive state". It is a shame that George has belittled a good phrase. I would not like to be in his flow! Neither would his supporters in Eunos GRC. In my book, if one is "in the flow", one would not have given up so easily and forsake one's followers and supporters!

Seah Kian Peng (this is not news in Straits Times):
If you have not read or heard about Seah Kian Peng's intervention in a traffic warden's job, it is probably due to the fact that ST does not think that it is newsworthy ... or ... they'd better be "in the flow" like George Yeo. PAP MP Seah Kian Peng of Marine Parade instructed a traffic warden not to issue summons to cars that were parked illegally at Jalan Riang [Please don't ask me how Jalan Riang in Serangoon ends up as part of Marine Parade GRC. Go ask PM Lee Hsien Loong as the Election Department comes under his jurisdiction]. 

In this so-claimed First World Singapore, do we have mini warlords telling enforcers of traffic rules to close one eye and neglect their duty? I cringe every time Singaporeans talk bad about our neighbours up north for their lack of integrity and their corrupt practices. Eg. How their traffic wardens or policemen can be bought by as little as 20 ringgit to close an eye on our speeding and other offenses. Or how their VIP politicians walk all over their citizens, milking and taking advantage of Malaysians without any respect for rule and order for the politician's personal benefit?

With the action of Sean Kian Peng are we, Singaporeans, any different? If a PAP MP can instruct a traffic warden to bend the rules, can a PAP Minister ask AG and judges to bend as well? I hope not. The thought is too scary to contemplate! What with the sex-for-contracts-blow-but-never-come-out episode that is causing much taxpayers' money and time in court!

When PAP MPs and Ministers are ballooned and pumped up, especially by our ex-MM to be creme-de-la-creme, beyond corruption and anything less desired, it's good to stick a pin into the balloon to wake up the humility in all of us! Can we stop this aksi borak first world crap and live humbly like real decent human beings?