Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Hello 2009, Goodbye "Honest Mistakes"!

Years ago, there was this diamond retailer who would take a full page ad on the Straits Times on National Day almost every year to show his gratitude of being a Singaporean. Not having followed ST regularly, I do not know if he's still at it.

I do not have tens of thousands of dollars to advertise on ST to tell all and sundry of how grateful I am but I'm thankful that I can pen my observation of what's unique in Singapore on this cheap blog.

As today is the last day of 2008, it's nice to write and rant about our unique Singapore. Only one of its kind in this whole wide world.

So just how remarkably unusual are we?

While first world countries like USA and UK are panicking over the financial breakdown, we in Singapore are celebrating our "golden period". We are the world and nothing hurts us!

And No Beggars & Buggers (legally)
Through Dr Vivian Balakrishnan's: "How much do you want? Do you want three meals in a hawker centre, food court or restaurant?", our government spent so much time and effort to find out if our old poor could afford a meal before we increased their monthly assistance from $260 to $330 per month. Did they think as much when they threw away our reserves to toxic banks, telcos and ABC Learning Centre?

Or is it $2,000 a month according to Dr Vivian Balakrishnan. "He pegged the total assistance a PA recipient gets at $2,000 - once the value of cash handouts and other help schemes are toted up.") No wonder there are no destitutes in Singapore!

We have a brave Ms Olsen who deserves more than her NMP allowance!. She asked the $16million Town Council question which woke up mayors, ministers and MP's and put some beloved leaders into silence of discomfort. Does that make the PAP MPs nothing more than carriers? Or will one of them ask whether Bernard Madoff has made off with some of our reserves too? I doubt the MP in my ward will.

THEY DUMB US DOWN . . . when we ask clever questions!
As usual, the response from the Mayor on Town Council/Lehman Bro debacle was even more detrimental than the damage done. The replies from Teo Ho Pin and Khaw Boon Wan on the issue left much to be desired. Silence would have been better than the standard non-reply and "you should be grateful" insult.

I thought we pay Town Council S&C charges to service and conserve our housing estates. Instead of conserving, they have arrogantly wasted away $16 million on toxic investment. Are we paying too much? Time for a reduction in S&C charges?

In his condescending talk-down, Minister Raymond Lim said that if we are willing to pay one-and-a-half percent more for GST we can get a totally free public transport system. With the last GST increase from 5% to 7% to help the poor, the PAP Government broke the Guinness Book of World Records and shocked the world (including George Bush) by using it to increase ministers' pay to millions! With 81/2%, Singaporeans can't wait for this new world-breaking record of free public transport. Way to go to for PAP to "stay together and moving ahead"!

In Singapore, you get SMC (Single Member Contituency) and GRC (Group Representative Constituency). In GRC, you can vote for up to 6 MPs instead of one. And if one of them dies, the PM decides if there should be a re-election. In the case of Bukit Batok, they run with minus-one after the passing of MP Ong Chit Chung.

Prior to every election, the electoral boundaries can change and some constituency can disappear into thin air. You may live in Braddell but you vote under Marine Parade GRC. Cheng San GRC disappeared in 2001 after the PAP almost lost to Workers' Party. Before each election, you do not know which constituency/electoral division you belong to until the Elections Dept (under the Prime Minister's Office) tells you so. They change the boundaries as they see fit.

Seller beware! It's against the law to buy and/or sell body organs in Singapore. However, if you are a rich buyer, the punishment for your crime will be lesser than the poor seller. Buying and/or selling organs is "morally wrong" but the law will be changed because if the government doesn't do the organ trading business, they will tell you that someone else will capitalise on it. Not unlike the Singapore Pools and the coming gambling dens propped as IR's.

Will we see the law for euthanasia enacted soon?
Rather than be an embarrassment to Lee Kuan Yew and Kishore Mahbubani ("we do not have homeless, destitute or starving in Singapore), the old poor and sick should not be seen as destitute collecting paper cartons and aluminium cans or as beggars. Maybe some figure that they should disappear (better off dead) rather than hurt the reputation some ivory-towered nose-in-the-sky, out-of-touch thinking leaders. Yes, medical euthanasia is less messy than jumping onto a moving MRT train or feeding oneself to white tigers! Economical Euthanasia anyone?

(Unless you are IBA!)
In Singapore, you cannot find kangaroos in the court and you can't find judges in the zoo!

Singapore jailed 3 activists for contempt of court for wearing funny kangaroo T-shirts that Attorney-General Walter Woon detests. It's funny that he did not do the same to the International Bar Association for their damaging report of human rights and independence of the judiciary of Singapore.

(Bernard Madoff should learn from Singapore)
Singapore makes me rich beyond my means! Currently, I have more than $30k in my CPF Medisave that I cannot fully utilise. Each visit to the hospital or clinic for my cardio follow-up due to my crippled heart almost always cause me another heart attack. Staff in the clinic and hospital keeps telling me that I cannot use my Medisave for my medicine and outpatient charges in full! I can only use part of it. I always have to tell them, "Please I need to use my Medisave now, not when I die, when I'm fed to the fish." They keep telling me, "Sorry uncle, it's the CPF law. They need to keep some for you when you get sicker." That's when my atherosclerotic plaque starts to clog again and I feel the pain of the elephant sitting on my chest. To kill me softly with their policy, they demand that I pay cash for Medisave co-payment and deductible, they then charge me an extra administrative fee for the use of my Medisave to pay the balance!

In uniquely Singapore, ministers rubbed each other's back glorifying each other to justify their obscene pay. Instead of asking for handout like ministers, I just want what's legally mine (my hard-earned CPF Medisave money) to take care of my health. Yes, it's the law. They make it the law. But please do not hoard my hard earned CPF saving to throw it at Citigroup, UBS, Merril Lynch, Shincorp and ABC among others.

The policy to make me pay extra administrative fee for using my own Medisave is sick. The cruel guy who came up with this policy is sicker than I am. In the first place, I did not ask them to keep my money in Medisave. They just did it. Now that I want my money back for my health, they tell me to follow the law and gratefully accept what they decide I should have. The other option they advised is for me to go fly a kite by giving up my citizenship. Only then will they pay me what's rightfully mine!

To every life a little rain must fall.

Much as I have my heartache with their self-serving policies, it looks like 2008 is a nightmare year for the 1st world Singapore million$$$ ministers. I guess it was a year of one "honest mistake" after another. They'd be so glad to "move on" from the following:
  • Mas Selamat Kasturi Jalan (Wong Kan Seng)
  • DBS, Lehman Brothers, Mini Bonds & High Notes ( What's MAS doing?)
  • Town Councils (non reply from Teo Ho Pin & Khaw Boon Wan)
  • Free Public Transport (Raymond Lim)
  • "Every month, when I receive my CPF statement, I feel so rich and thebest part is, I know the CPF money won't run away. CPF will still be around for a long, long time to come. Not only is it earning good interest, my capital is protected." (Lim Swee Say)
  • “That is the way the world is. I have explained this. I think I lost votes after I explained the awful truth. Nobody believed it, but slowly it dawned on them – especially the graduates – that yes, you marry a non-graduate, then you worry about whether or not your son or daughter is going to make it to the university!”(Lee Kuan Yew)
Yes, the son of the graduate couple made it to University of Cambridge and even Harvard but came up with bloopers like:
  1. "Right now we have Low Thia Khiang, Chiam See Tong, Steve Chia. We can deal with them. Suppose you had 10, 15, 20 opposition members in Parliament. Instead of spending my time thinking what is the right policy for Singapore, I'm going to spend all my time thinking what's the right way to fix them, to buy my supporters votes, how can I solve this week's problem and forget about next year's challenges?" (2006 Election Rally)

  2. "I give you an example: you put out a fun podcast, you talk about 'bak chor mee'; I will say "mee siam mai hum", then we compete."(Reply to Mr Brown)

  3. "GST hike is to help the poor." (Or to pay the ministers.)

  4. "I mean, we are different. This was a lapse, what to do, it's happened."(Defending Wong Kang Seng after Mas Selamat jalan)
He'll be glad to welcome 2009 and say Goodbye to "honest mistakes"!

I wish all readers a Happy New Year!
Good health, peace and joy in living!


Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Don't Shake Hands, Hold Fingers! Or Are We Not Paying Our Ministers Enough?

'You know, the cure for all this talk is really a good dose of incompetent government. You get that alternative and you'll never put Singapore together again: Humpty Dumpty cannot be put together again...and your asset values will be in peril, your security will be at risk and our women will become maids in other people's countries, foreign workers.'
- MM Lee - Justifying pay hikes for Singapore ministers, The Straits Times, 5 April 2007.

Assets in all classes are in peril. Some already valueless and dead. Where security is concerned, Mas Selamat still jalan. Are we having a good dose of the medicine now?

I saw the above video and I realised we should not have reduced their bonus and should pay them more. It's a bloody mistake! If we do not want a good dose of incompetent government, we jolly well pay and pay!

Incompetence does creep in when they are under paid.

After Dr Teo Ho Pin telling me I should be grateful and the show & tell by Khaw Boon Wan on Town Councils' investment debacle, we are now witnessing
Minister Raymond Lim, Chairman of PAP Manifesto Committee at work.

When he finger-pointingly tells me that I have to pay 8.5% GST to get a completely free bus and MRT service, it seems interesting and threatening at the same time.

The way he tells me that I either have to pay more as a commuter or a tax payer to help the fat cats profiteer shows how stupid we can be. Yes! Either way, we pay! I wonder if transport companies are like town councils. Do they need to build a sinking fund to dabble in toxic investment too?

Another observation:
Was he shaking the hands of residents of MacPherson constituency or residents of MacPherson Aids/HIV Halfway House? The way he shook the hands of the residents speaks volume of how busy he is or how clean residents' hands are? Or is "finger touching" a new form of greeting in uniquely Singapore?

How can we "bersatu padu bergerak maju or stay together move ahead" from bottom up if we keep talking down and dumbing down the peasants? According to some culture, it's bloody rude to keep pointing your index finger down at people too.

I guess the millions we are paying our ministers now is not even enough to teach them the rudiments of good manners.

Maybe to them, we are morons, happy morons, after all!

I guess the old saying is still true. We pay peanuts, we get monkeys.

Obscene peanuts = obscene monkeys!

How can we stay together and move ahead when every time we "Quah tio zin, tio pai. Quah tio ter, tio tai"? Roughly translated: See god, pray. See pig, slaughter?

Let's be kind to animals!


Saturday, December 13, 2008

The Kangaroos and The Shoes

How often do we know a Singaporean who is not Kiasu, Kiasi or Kia Chenghu (Fear of Loss, Fear of Death and Fear of the Government)?

20-year-old Muhammad Shafi'ie Syahmi Bin Sariman and Isrizal Bin Mohamed Isa were sentenced to seven days' jail, while Tan Liang Joo John received 15 days imprisonment. They were each ordered to pay S$5,000 in costs.

Their crime: Contempt of court for wearing a funny T-shirt with a kangaroo on it.

I understand that Shafi'ie and Isrizal will be out of jail on Thursday at 9.30am, 18 Dec 2008.

From the comments I read in TOC, I'm saddened by some who denigrate and call Shafi'ie an irresponsible fool for what he did.

For putting his money, his time and and seven days of his life where his mouth is, I salute this young man for his courage and integrity, honour and steadfastness in not selling out.

Chia Thye Poh, Zaid Zahari, Lim Hock Siew, JB Jeyaratnam (God bless his soul), Francis Seow, Tang Liang Hong and Chee Soon Juan have all paid the price too.

Funny how our laws work.

We know that "bully kechil" is still alive and well when Shafi'ie and his 2 friends are incarcerated for contempt when the stink and sting on Singapore by the International Bar Association is quietly forgotten because it's tough to "bully besar"! Why use the knuckle dusters on local boys and not the big legal boys?

As to why Shafi'ie, Isrizal and John have to go to jail, please visit Singapore Rebel Martyn See's blog or Please listen or read the transcripts of the court proceedings, after which you can decide: Are there kangaroos in Singapore courts or are there judges in Singapore zoo?

Though what Shafi'ie did is not as soul-sole-searching as Muntazer al-Zaidi aka Muntadar al-Zaidi (link here), Shafi'ie has shown that the Singapore Pledge as in DEMOCRACY, JUSTICE and EQUALITY means more to him than simply reciting the Pledge in schools or parade squares in army camps!

Muntazer al-Zaidi tore off his shoes and flung them at Mr Bush as he stood beside Nouri al-Maliki, the Iraqi Prime Minister, during a press conference in Baghdad's Green Zone yesterday.

"This is a goodbye kiss from the Iraqi people, dog. This is from the widows, the orphans and those who were killed in Iraq," he shouted before being overpowered by security guards and bundled out of the room.

I hope the cluster bombs that created widows, orphans and innocent dead Iraqis did not come from Singapore factories.

Money crazed $ingapore with its dear leaders are always out to make and accumulate more money but do we have to kill and maim innocent Iraqis to make more?

No matter how blessed we are, we will reap what we sow.


Friday, December 12, 2008

'Tis The Season To Top Up?

Is CPF misrepresenting and misSelling with advertisement like this that appeared on Sunday Times.

"Save More! In today's market, CPF is the safe way to grow your money. Top-up* your and your loved ones' CPF accounts to earn up to 5% interest, risk-free.

*You can top up to the prevailing Minimum Sum of $106,000. Minimum Sum is updated annually in July. The top-up will go to the recipients' Special Account if they are below the age of 55 or their retirement account if they are 55 years or older.

Pardon my concern, but why is there no notice given that once topped up, recipients cannot withdraw their money like from a bank. Recipients can only withdraw their money in drips and draps by instalment only after age 62, 67 or 85, whatever age CPF thinks fit. CPF can change withdrawal age (shift the goalposts) anytime they like. When I was first forced to deposit in the 60's, they promised me that I could get it all at 55. When I reached 55, they told me a different story!

What I'm concern with is:
  1. This advertisement reminds me of misrepresentation and misselling which is such a hot number since the Lehman and DBS fiasco.
  2. Is the CPF so broke that it needs to advertise for more funds to be in its kitty?
  3. Has CPF gone down the slippery slope like GIC, Temasek and Town Councils in getting their hands burned with toxic investment?
  4. Is it wise of CPF to spend so much money (tens of thousand dollars) in a full page, full colour ad to attract depositors?
  5. What are the returns (ROI?) for such ads?
Is it just me being concerned about my fellow citizens being mis-sold by a "great leaders' idea" or have I touched on a "pappy knows best" unmentionable subject?

I don't know. All I know is money put in CPF is damned bloody difficult to get out. Even if I'm old, jobless and sick with major and chronic illnesses like heart attack, stroke, lipid disorder, hypertension, they only allow me to withdraw a maximum of of $300 per year for my medicines and doctors' consultation. Don't they understand that my Medisave is my hard earned money to take care of myself when I'm sick and not theirs to have and to hold or to lend it to elite borrowers to gamble away in toxic products!

Giving lucky draws to tempt aunties and uncles to top up Medisave (in previous Sunday Times) and advertisment such as above seems to show the desperation of CPF to fill their vaults with more money. For why, I'll never know.

Some may feel that CPF has the altruism of helping Singaporeans save for their retirement and old age. I don't know. If there's a kind heart, they would not charge me an additional administrative fee over and above what I need to pay for my outpatient charges and medicines. I guess they break your legs first, then they force you to walk. Since you can't walk, they charge you a fee to use their crutches. You've got no other choice.

I'm no financial or CPF expert. I'm writing based on my personal experience.


Wednesday, December 10, 2008

When dazzle starts to baffle . . .

I pay them good money to maintain the HDB estate I live in. They use my money to maintain mistresses all over the world with their gambling ways.

I asked them to account for the conservancy fees I pay, they tell me I should be grateful for their winning streak!


Please, I just want an efficient Town Council to keep my estate clean with bulbs that light up and lifts that move up and down without urine on the floor. Don't waste my money on fancy huge spot-lighted banners with gigantic ugly photos of MPs wishing me Happy New Year, Selamat Hari Raya Adil Fitri, Selamat Hari Raya Haji, Deepavali, Moon Cake Festival, Bak Chang Dumpling Festival and Merry Christmas!

Please be prudent and not waste my money on Happy Mother, Father and Grandfather's Day banners too! I'm also very sick and tired of your uncaring elite faces staring at me every time I hit a traffic junction or crossroad!

I'm a simple man and my Town Council does not need billions to be as rich as my Prime Minister or my President!

It's been reported by TOC that Dr Ahmad Magad of Pasir Ris-Punggol GRC was caught with his pants down when replying to a resident on the Town Council Investment Fiasco.

If what's written in TOC is true, the PaceMaker should be working overtime and heads should roll. However, with their ability to take care of their own (remember how WKS was protected over the Mas Selamat Jalan Fiasco), a wayang will follow and nothing will come out of this loss! Just another collateral damage to the peasants for the benefit and fun of the elites!

It has been their strength to ignore their political folly & embarrassment and pretend that it never happened and hope that soon it will be forgotten. They are so good at it that we may never hear another word of their "chow kng" aka Fiasco Of Unintentional Flash!

What irks most is that they pay themselves king's ransom but when confronted with accountability and responsibility, they start to "tolak". Ministry of National Development pushed the blame to Town Council. Town Council with its arse-covering practice mentioned that residents form part of the Committee. Finally it shall evolve that the complacency of the residents caused the Town Council to buy toxic structured products. Deja Vu! It's Mas Selamat Jalan again!

Yes, we are asking the questions but it is unbecoming of them to beat around the bush with their own meat. When integrity and credibility comes to play, wayang can only do so much. You cannot continue flogging a dead horse!

To date, all we hear from the PM, SM, and MM is a deafening silence. They may have wised up to the fact that they can no longer dazzle us with their brilliance. Instead of baffling us with bullshit, they may have decided that it's safer to *STFU!

If only they can be human enough to get off the high horses and ivory tower and admit to their arrogant folly and sincerely apologise . . . If only!

Meanwhile, let's be kind to animals!


*for the benefit of the truly innocent & non radicalised, STFU means "Shut The Fcuk Up"

Friday, December 5, 2008

Singaporeans, aren't we proud of being 1st world?

In his article in Straits Times of 5 Dec 2008, 'What will you defend in S'pore?', Goh Chin Lian wrote:
With Singapore marking 25 years of Total Defence next year, a new campaign has been launched to have people post online videos in response to this question:
"What will you defend? . . . . . .

Here, I'm thankful that the rainfall comes abundantly and the tress grow to a good height, with many providing much-needed shade .
. . . . .

I was in the high court on an assignment, listening to a case of 3 men who had been charged with being in contempt of court.

They were accused of scandalising the Singapore judiciary by wearing T-shirts with an image of a kangaroo dressed in a judge's robes.

The men spoke about freedom of expression and fair criticism to justify their actions, and declined to apologise when they were offered the opportunity to do so by the judge.

The case against them was presented by the Deputy Solicitor-General from the Attorney-General's Chambers.

The men were eventually sentenced to jail terms.

The youngest among them was a 19-year-old full-time national serviceman who was represented in court by a lawyer.

In the public gallery, among the friends and supporters of the trio, I noticed that there were several who appeared just as young as the national serviceman.

It made me wonder about just how they regarded the opposing arguments put forth by the trio and the Deputy Solicitor-General, and how that would shape their view of what they will defend here in the course of their lifetime.

On other occasions, I have also met foreigners from neighbouring countries and beyond who have worked or lived here for a number of years, as well as Singaporeans who have lived abroad for just as long.

One thing that most of them spoke about was the endemic corruption and unfairness of particular systems and processes in these various countries - from traffic policemen who will cream off motorists who flout traffic rules, to not being able to find job or a place in the university because of some in-built bias.

Such experiences again weigh on and affect not just their perceptions of those countries, but also how they see Singapore . . .

So perhaps, in thinking of what it is that makes Singapore worth defending, we should go beyond factors that are in our self interest.

Though Chin Lian did not state what he would defend, he wrote that "It would be a pity to lose such beauty and places of solace" referring to trees, parks and nature reserves that are in Singapore.

Honestly, its darn hard to defend what's beyond our self interest.

Yes, like Chin Lian, I would even protect living things like the trees, the parks the nature reserves. But I must admit that I do it for my self interest as I love the shade and the sense of peace they bring me.

I think every mother's son would do whatever it takes to defend his family, friends & relatives and would even take on the terror inflicted by freedom fighters to save his loved ones.

But to protect and defend my country as a whole? That's another ball game. It's inanimate.

What's my country and who am I?

The flag of my country consists of two equal horizontal sections, red above white. In the upper left section are a white crescent moon, and five white stars forming a circle. Each feature of the flag has its own distinctive meaning and significance. Red symbolises universal brotherhood and equality of man. White signifies pervading and everlasting purity and virtue. The crescent moon represents a young nation on the ascendant. The five stars stand for the nation's ideals of democracy, peace, progress, justice and equality.

Since 1965, as a nation, we have scored only 2 out of 5. We have relative peace and progress. Where democracy, justice and equality are concerned, we have nothing to shout about. The red symbol of universal brotherhood and equality of man depends on which side of the divide you are in. Elite or peasant?

Having been born and bred in Singapore for more than half a century, I have been a Brit subject, a Malaysian and since '65, a Singaporean. The citizenship doesn't mean squat. You simply live with it.

Being a Singaporean is a very humbling experience. Every time Singapore leaders (or journalists) open their mouths to spew forth another self-glorifying achievement or to belittle our neighbouring countries to prove a point, I feel the cringe on my skin and try not to identify my citizenship when I visit my neighbours.

I do not know what the young ones will defend when they grow up. All I know is the following may be what would I defend - in areas where my self interest is not involved:
  1. I would defend the rights of my ministers to raise the GST so that they can pay themselves obscenely well.
  2. I would defend the rights of Town Council to charge me exorbitant conservancy charges so that they can gamble some on minibonds, high notes and what have you.
  3. I would also defend the rights of the goverment to withold upgrading of HDB flats in Hougang and Potong Pasir because majority of the voters there did not vote for PAP.
  4. I would also defend the rights of homophobes to do whatever they want with gays and lesbians.
  5. I would defend the rights of GIC and Temasek to do whatever they like with Singaporeans' money, including throwing them into losers like ShinCorp, Citigroup, Merrill Lynch, UBS, ABC Learning, etc.,
  6. I would defend the rights of CPF to mess around with Singaporeans' hard-earned savings by delaying payment when due with silly excuses like Medisave, Minimum Sum and members' sure-lose annuity - Longevity Insurance.
  7. I would defend the rights of men-in-white who believe that wearing white on National Day makes you virtuous, pure and above scrutiny.
  8. I would defend the rights of Elites to call peasants "stupid crackpot", belonging to "the sadder class" and tell them to "get out of my elite uncaring face.
  9. I would defend the rights of the Government to allow Singapore to be gambling dens (IR's?) and whorehouses for the sake of its 1st world econnmy.
  10. Last but not least, as the video above shows, I would defend the rights of pimps to do their business in First World Singapore even the human rights of the victims of forced prostitution are marginalized and fed to the dogs!
If you do not read this as a satire, I shall soon be fed to the dogs too.


Why So Much Contempt?

The Singapore government rebuts WSJ editorial on ruling.

"We do not fear or stifle criticism of our policies. But we will not allow our judiciary to be denigrated under the pretence of free speech", said Singapore's Ambassador to the United States, Professor Chan Heng Chee, reported Straits Times of 5 Dec 2008.

After reading the article by Zakir Hussain, I think those clever people in Wall Street Journal and Dr Chee Soon Juan and company just don't get it. Even those learned lawyers of International Bar Association who wrote "Prosperity versus individual rights? Human rights, democracy and the rule of law in Singapore in their Human Rights Institute Report of July 2008".

They simply don't get it!

I mean, hey, Singapore is unique. Which other country does or has the following?
  • We ban chewing gum
  • We are so proud of our one-party system, we make a song and dance of it
  • By not stifling criticisms, we sue the pants off politicians and make them financially bankrupt. Funny, though bankrupted, Mr JB Jeyaratnam (God bless his soul) held his head high morally. Dr Chee Soon Juan, though called many names, is still fighting for civil rights in Singapore with much support from those who dare.
  • By not stifling critisms, we throw 3 wearers of funny kangaroo T-shirt to jail
  • We have so much money and reserves in so many departments and statutory boards that our Town Councils can throw some at toxic minibonds and high notes of do-re-mi or 1-2-3 and say that we should be grateful that they are doing us a favour
  • We get a good "bargain" when we pay ministers millions so that our womenfolk do not have to work as maids in other countries
  • We have COE; ECP; LTA; HDB; CPF; etc and, of course, PAP!
  • We have unique "inside & outside" law like this interesting one that baffles me till this day
So who's denigrating who?

Who's contemptible?

I'm not sure if we have kangaroos in our zoo but we sure have judges in our courts!