Saturday, March 31, 2012

The Cleaner, the court...

The court's reaction is unexpected. Instead of announcing their ruling now and throwing it out, they want to delay now and then throw it out later. Why the cleaner bother also I don't know. Maybe because she didn't read the debate on the by-election and that the constitution did not cater for a expiry date on when a by-election should be held.

Why waste time go and apply for the court to force a by-election? She think with her court application, backed by her infamous lawyer Ravi, would make a difference? All the more with Ravi as her lawyer, the court is unlikely to budge. Tragic that Ravi, her lawyer, would not understand that nowhere in Article 49 of our Constitution, there is a provision of a time frame for a by-election.


"Whenever the seat of a Member, not being a non-constituency Member, has become vacant for any reason other than a dissolution of Parliament, the vacancy shall be filled by election in the manner provided by or under any law relating to Parliamentary elections for the time being in force."


Court reserves judgment on Hougang by-election hearing
By Amir/Claire Huang | Posted: 30 March 2012 2050 hrs

SINGAPORE: The High Court reserved judgement on an application by a Hougang resident for a by-election in the single-seat constituency, after lawyers presented their arguments in chambers on Friday.

Madam Vellama Marie Muthu, a 42-year-old part-time cleaner, filed an application on March 2 for the Prime Minister to call a by-election within three months.

Lawyers from the Attorney-General's Chambers argued that the application was "wholly misconceived" and "unarguable in law and fact".

They added that Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong had "stated unequivocally" in Parliament on March 9 that he intended to call a by-election but had not decided on the timing yet.

A judgement will be delivered at a later date.

The Hougang constituency was left without a Member of Parliament (MP) after Mr Yaw Shin Leong was expelled by his Workers' Party, following reports of his personal indiscretions.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Fine! and Free Rides!


 Screw you all! I'm out of here! Muahahahahahaha Quick quick quick let's go!

What recommendations from the COI I want to hear? Fine for SMRT! Free rides for commuters!

SMRT team has completed their findings on why their trains were so crap in December last year with its back-to-back 15 and 17 December train disruptions. So much for that December holiday month. SMRT staff didn't have holiday mood, and those who were stuck coz the SMRT trains suck also didn't have holiday mood. Butch Saw Phaik Hwa also didn't have holiday mood as the incidents derailed her SMRT CEO career.

The new transport minister, terrified that he would become jobless like Raymond Lim, quickly shook his head and made loud disappointing sighs at SMRT. So worried about keeping his job and making voters happy that in the recent SBS Transit MRT NEL disruption between Dhoby Ghaut and Harbour Front on 15 March, he actually went down to make his rounds and made sure the press took photo of him making his rounds and using his eye power! Whether push buttons or not is unimportant. What is important is to be seen to be pushing buttons. The former SAF general still remembers how to wayang from his military days.

In 2008, SMRT was fined close to $400,000 by LTA for a disruption for about 7 hours between Tanah Merah and Pasir Ris MRT stations. At that time as SMRT CEO was Phaik Hwa, SMRT was not worried as she could easily earn back the money from SMRT ad and shop rental businesses. Funny hor? SMRT a transport company was profitable not because of its transport operations but its retail offshoot. The December 2011 disruptions were worse than in 2008 and also the CEO who made SMRT profitable is no longer around. SMRT is screwed, and we commuters would be screwed next as the cost would be passed on to them in one way or another. You mean we won't?



SMRT completes inquiry into December service disruptions
Posted: 28 March 2012 1840 hrs

SINGAPORE: The SMRT Internal Investigation Team (IIT) has completed work on the December service disruptions and submitted its report to the Committee of Inquiry convened by the government.

The Board of Directors of SMRT Corporation Limited commissioned the IIT to review the causes and handling of train disruptions on the North-South Line on December 15 and 17.

SMRT said on Wednesday that the team reviewed the causes of the disruptions and the organisation's response to them.

It also made recommendations to prevent a recurrence and improve the organisation's response capabilities to mass disruption incidents.

The IIT submitted its report to the SMRT Board, which then submitted it to the COI.

SMRT said since the December 2011 incidents, it has been implementing its improvement plan to prevent a recurrence and enhance its capabilities to respond to train disruptions.

It said it appreciates the findings and recommendations provided by the IIT.

It added that it will carefully study and evaluate them, and consider further improvement measures that may be required.

SMRT said it will wait for the Committee of Inquiry's response and will implement further improvements as may be needed.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Got Primary One Registration Priority? Think Again!

On the surface, citizens can rejoice, pop champagne or a non-alcoholic drink and thank Ganesha, Allah, Jesus, Guanyin, Buddha or Monkey God that citizens finally, finally have a proper head start in education over foreigners. A few days ago, MOE announced that Singaporeans have a priority over PRs in primary one registration. Whenever there is balloting, which is confirmed 100% in popular or branded schools like Nanyang, ACS, Tao Nan and some elitist others, PRs would not stand a chance unless there is no ballot required.

Happy? KNS. YOU SHOULDN"T BE IF YOU ARE A 100% LOCAL. Why? This is because MOE just said that citizens should be given absolute priority in each phase. Not absolute priority in primary one registration. There is an important difference!

There are 3 main phases in the annual primary one registration.
  • Phase 1 - for a child who has a sibling in the primary school
  • Phase 2 -  2A1, for a child whose parent is a former student of the primary school and is an alumni member, 2A2, the same, but the parent is not an alumni member, 2B is when the parent is from the same clan or church related to the school or a parent volunteer, 2C is for the child who cannot qualify for Phase 1, 2A and 2B.
  • Phase 3 - for non-citizens and non-PR.

What MOE is telling you is that PR can still qualify for each phase as long as there is no balloting in that phase. So that means a Tiong or Pinoy PR can still qualify and be ahead of other Singaporeans in a later phase e.g. a PR who is a parent volunteer in branded school X (qualify for phase 2B) is still ahead of a local parent who stays near the branded school X but did not volunteer in the school (qualify for phase 2C) in the primary one registration.  Is this fair to Singaporeans? Not really if we value citizenship, the responsibility of NS etc. Volunteering in a school, alumni, church-clan ties in primary school registration are perfectly fine and is a useful checklist to distinguish locals from locals, and their desperation however misguided to put their kid in a branded school. However, as PRs do not wish to commit their stake in Singapore, why should they have the same access to branded schools as Singaporeans? Why should they have the same privileges as citizens?

PRs should be restricted to Phase 3 registration only, and not anything earlier. PRs can enrol their kids into a primary school only when all the citizens who want to put their son or daughter in that school have done so under Phase 1 or Phase 2. Any remaining seats can then be given to PRs. That is what priority is about. Simple as that. This recent MOE pledge to keep Singaporeans happy and give citizenship a premium is just hollow.


Fewer PR children in top schools after P1 rule change?
By Sharon See | Posted: 26 March 2012 2141 hrs
SINGAPORE: The more popular primary schools may have fewer Permanent Resident (PR) children from now on, said observers.

They said this is one possible outcome, following the government's move to tighten the Primary One (P1) registration exercise.

Under the change announced on Sunday, PRs will remain eligible for the same phases of the P1 registration exercise as citizens. However, when balloting is necessary in a specific phase of the registration exercise, citizens will be given absolute priority over PRs, even before home-to-school distance is considered.

The change will take place from the P1 registration exercise this July.

Last year, nearly half of all primary schools held ballots for the P1 registration exercise.

With the latest change, some popular schools told Channel NewsAsia they are expecting a much smaller intake of PR children.

Competition for the popular schools is already fierce, even among Singaporeans, and one MP said it would make sense for PRs to avoid "brand name schools" - where balloting will most likely take place.

Mr Lim Biow Chuan, chairman of Government Parliamentary Committee (GPC) for Education, said: "If they think that they want their child to go to a certain school, they have to consider whether that school would require balloting or not. If it does, quite honestly, they should put their efforts in volunteering in a school where balloting may not take place."

Property analysts also expect a slowdown in PRs going after HDB resale flats near popular schools.

Mr Eugene Lim, ERA Realty Network's key executive officer, said: "The premium that buyers have been known to pay for being located near good schools is as much as 10, sometimes even 15 per cent.

"So, if there are less buyers competing for these units near these good schools, technically the premium would go down. But it's still early days. It's very hard to say at this point if the prices will be affected, because for the gap that is vacated by the PRs, the locals will come in and fill it, as locals still have to compete for the 1km rule if there are more locals applying for the limited places available in each school."

Mr Lim added that buying a residential property with the intention of being near "good schools" is more prevalent among Singaporeans than PRs. He said HDB flats near "good schools" would likely be in greater demand than private properties.

According to Mr Lim, PRs currently make up about 20 percent of the HDB resale market and 13 percent of the private property resale market.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

What the Hell is a Heritage Centre

What the hell is a Heritage Centre? Oh! Museum. SMILE. What the hell is foreign subversion? Oh! Foreign-inspired criticism of the government. Oh! Like this case in China where a writer telling people about their rights was jailed for 10 years. SNEER.. Is the museum going to show how Mas Selamat escape and was caught? Oh! I would pay to see that. SMIRK. Why the hell is MOE in the picture in the pipeline? Oh! National education. SNIGGER.

There is a role for ISD in our society, caveat stated so please, please, please don't knock on my door in the middle of the night ok Mr ISD Man, and espionage and terrorism are invisible and silent scourges to Singapore. All countries have their own versions of the ISD for national security reasons and Singapore should not be any different in keeping watch on the real bad guys. Disbanding ISD is an awful idea. In contrast, redefining ISD's powers and scope is an awesome idea.

At the end of the day, it's a big bad brutal world out there with crazy turbaned terrorists holding AK47s and homemade bombs, and countries spying on each other to gain an upper hand in military, political and economic competition. With all the SAF fancy toys bought over the years, our neighbours are probably interested in how and whether they might be used. Their spies are surely here - maybe even the wanton mee man in the kopitiam bear Mindef is spying on them! With hotheads running around in Bali again and still shouting "kill infidels", it is also unsurprising that some of them might decide to come Singapore for a holiday and then make a one way trip to heaven with its 72 virgins, bombing out Orchard MRT!



Singapore 'attractive target for espionage, foreign subversion'
by Syed Amir Hussain 04:45 AM Mar 21, 2012

SINGAPORE - Even as the threat of terrorism persists post-911, the concurrent internal security "threats of espionage and foreign subversion are just as salient today as during the Cold War", said Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean yesterday.

Mr Teo, who is also Home Affairs Minister, noted that Singapore is situated "at the crossroads where the spheres of influence of major powers intersect" and also "an open society in a highly globalised world", which makes the country "an attractive target for espionage and foreign subversion", even by "friendly nations".

Speaking at the 10th anniversary of the Internal Security Department's (ISD) Heritage Centre, he noted that a Singaporean Embassy staff member in Moscow was compromised and worked for the Soviet Union against Singapore's interest during the height of the Cold War. During the 1990s, the ISD dealt with "several cases" of espionage involving friendly nations. "The adage that "there are no permanent friends, only permanent interests" rings true," said Mr Teo.

In highlighting other internal security threats such as the issue of self-radicalisation, as well as racial and religious extremism, Mr Teo noted that technology has been "a major game changer".

A few cyber espionage attacks have already been countered, and more are expected, he said. "Our vulnerability has increased because of our own inter-connectivity, the cache of classified information that can potentially be stolen through electronic media, and our heavy reliance on IT systems for essential services," he added.

While he noted that "the Jemaah Islamiyah (JI) and its affiliates continue to be a threat to Singapore" on the racial and religious extremism front, Mr Teo felt "the new variable in the racial and religious field is cyberspace".

He said the Internet allows irresponsible, offensive and at times seditious comments about other races and religions to be made anonymously.

Dangerous remarks on the Internet can go viral very quickly, "spiral out of control and rapidly damage inter-communal relations". "If transposed into action in the physical world, the consequences can be dire", added Mr Teo. He further noted that online and self-radicalisation also represent new forms of the terrorism threat.

Yesterday, the new Counter-Terrorism gallery at the ISD Heritage Centre, which showcases security operations and intelligence work undertaken by ISD officers, was officially launched.

The new gallery includes new cases and exhibits over the past 10 years since the disruption of the JI network here and features the inner mechanisms of the JI such as security tradecraft, recruitment efforts, physical and military training.

The Heritage Centre hosted over 10,000 visitors last year and has reached out to another 70,000 through mobile exhibitions in schools, tertiary institutions, community centres and shopping malls.

And as part of the ISD's outreach efforts, Mr Teo said the Heritage Centre will be working with the Ministry of Education to reach out to all national schools through mobile exhibitions that are "more student-centric" over the next two years.

Friday, March 16, 2012

One Event, Office Politics, Many Versions of Truth

Ok this interesting incident at NYC is not entirely related to Singapore politics, or is it?

An executive director at Goldman Sachs resigned on a bad note and shot out a stinker of a public explanation about how Goldman Sachs was an evil empire and the usual bad mouthing. Consequently, there was a Bloomberg editorial response, a funny cynical one, giving the hard truth impression that the Goldman Sachs quitter was just not cut out for the job. What we did not hear were the views from Goldman Sachs management on their reasons behind the bitter resignation. Were they being proper gentlemen not wanting to be drawn into the fight directly, or silence was guilt. Who is telling the truth? Everybody! Nobody! This thus leads me to talk about people who left their organisation after some years of loyal service, and then like suddenly spun around to ominously explain that they left because the organisation is not what it used to be.

Former PAP MP turned presidential candidate Tan Cheng Bock is one example. Bringing back a past issue, what were the exact nature of his departure such that instead of quietly fading away like other PAP MPs, he beat his own drum and waved his own flag to challenge the PAP in some ways during the election?


Why I am leaving Goldman Sachs
The failure of belief in doing right by the client is the most serious threat to its survival
by Greg Smith
04:45 AM Mar 16, 2012
Today is my last day at Goldman Sachs.

After almost 12 years at the firm - first as a summer intern while at Stanford, then in New York for 10 years, and now in London - I believe I have worked here long enough to understand the trajectory of its culture, its people and its identity. And I can honestly say that the environment now is as toxic and destructive as I have ever seen it.

To put the problem in the simplest terms, the interests of the client continue to be sidelined in the way the firm operates and thinks about making money.

Goldman Sachs is one of the world's largest and most important investment banks and it is too integral to global finance to continue to act this way. The firm has veered so far from the place I joined right out of college that I can no longer in good conscience say that I identify with what it stands for.

It might sound surprising to a sceptical public, but culture was always a vital part of Goldman Sachs' success. It revolved around teamwork, integrity, a spirit of humility, and always doing right by our clients.

The culture was the secret sauce that made this place great and allowed us to earn our clients' trust for 143 years. It wasn't just about making money; this alone will not sustain a firm for so long. It had something to do with pride and belief in the organisation.

I am sad to say that I look around today and see virtually no trace of the culture that made me love working for this firm for many years. I no longer have the pride, or the belief.

DECLINE IN MORAL FIBRE

But this was not always the case. For more than a decade I recruited and mentored candidates through our gruelling interview process. I was selected as one of 10 people (out of a firm of more than 30,000) to appear on our recruiting video, which is played on every college campus we visit around the world.

In 2006 I managed the summer intern programme in sales and trading in New York for the 80 college students who made the cut, out of the thousands who applied.

I knew it was time to leave when I realized I could no longer look students in the eye and tell them what a great place this was to work.

When the history books are written about Goldman Sachs, they may reflect that the current chief executive officer, Mr Lloyd C Blankfein, and the president, Mr Gary D Cohn, lost hold of the firm's culture on their watch. I truly believe that this decline in the firm's moral fibre represents the single most serious threat to its long-run survival.

Over the course of my career I have had the privilege of advising two of the largest hedge funds on the planet, five of the largest asset managers in the United States, and three of the most prominent sovereign wealth funds in the Middle East and Asia.

My clients have a total asset base of more than a trillion dollars. I have always taken a lot of pride in advising my clients to do what I believe is right for them, even if it means less money for the firm.

This view is becoming increasingly unpopular at Goldman Sachs. Another sign that it was time to leave.

ALL ABOUT THE MONEY

How did we get here? The firm changed the way it thought about leadership.

Leadership used to be about ideas, setting an example and doing the right thing. Today, if you make enough money for the firm (and are not currently an ax murderer) you will be promoted into a position of influence.

What are three quick ways to become a leader?

(a) Execute on the firm's "axes", which is Goldman-speak for persuading your clients to invest in the stocks or other products that we are trying to get rid of because they are not seen as having a lot of potential profit.

(b) "Hunt Elephants." In English: Get your clients - some of whom are sophisticated, and some of whom aren't - to trade whatever will bring the biggest profit to Goldman. Call me old-fashioned, but I don't like selling my clients a product that is wrong for them.

(c) Find yourself sitting in a seat where your job is to trade any illiquid, opaque product with a three-letter acronym.

Today, many of these leaders display a Goldman Sachs culture quotient of exactly 0 per cent. I attend derivatives sales meetings where not one single minute is spent asking questions about how we can help clients. It's purely about how we can make the most possible money off of them.

If you were an alien from Mars and sat in on one of these meetings, you would believe that a client's success or progress was not part of the thought process at all.

It makes me ill how callously people talk about ripping their clients off. Over the last 12 months I have seen five different managing directors refer to their own clients as "muppets", sometimes over internal email.

Integrity? It is eroding. I don't know of any illegal behaviour, but will people push the envelope and pitch lucrative and complicated products to clients even if they are not the simplest investments or the ones most directly aligned with the client's goals? Absolutely. Every day, in fact.

It astounds me how little senior management gets a basic truth: If clients don't trust you they will eventually stop doing business with you. It doesn't matter how smart you are.

A WAKE-UP CALL

These days, the most common question I get from junior analysts about derivatives is: "How much money did we make off the client?" It bothers me every time I hear it, because it is a clear reflection of what they are observing from their leaders about the way they should behave.

Now project 10 years into the future: You don't have to be a rocket scientist to figure out that the junior analyst sitting quietly in the corner of the room hearing about "muppets", "ripping eyeballs out" and "getting paid" doesn't exactly turn into a model citizen.

When I was a first-year analyst I didn't know where the bathroom was, or how to tie my shoelaces. I was taught to be concerned with learning the ropes, finding out what a derivative was, understanding finance, getting to know our clients and what motivated them, learning how they defined success and what we could do to help them get there.

My proudest moments in life - getting a full scholarship to go from South Africa to Stanford University, being selected as a Rhodes Scholar national finalist, winning a bronze medal for table tennis at the Maccabiah Games in Israel, known as the Jewish Olympics - have all come through hard work, with no shortcuts.

Goldman Sachs today has become too much about shortcuts and not enough about achievement. It just doesn't feel right to me anymore.

I hope this can be a wake-up call to the board of directors. Make the client the focal point of your business again. Without clients you will not make money. In fact, you will not exist.

Weed out the morally bankrupt people, no matter how much money they make for the firm. And get the culture right again, so people want to work here for the right reasons.

People who care only about making money will not sustain this firm - or the trust of its clients - for very much longer.

Greg Smith resigned on Wednesday as a Goldman Sachs executive director and head of the firm's United States equity derivatives business in Europe, the Middle East and Africa.



Yes, Mr Smith, Goldman Sachs is about making money
by BLOOMBERG EDITORIAL
04:45 AM Mar 16, 2012

Apparently, when Mr Greg Smith arrived at Goldman Sachs almost 12 years ago, the legendary investment firm was something like the Make-A-Wish Foundation - existing only to bring light and peace and happiness to the world.

Mr Smith, who was executive director and head of the firm's United States equity derivatives business in Europe, the Middle East and Africa, does not go into details in his already notorious op-ed article in Wednesday's New York Times, Why I Am Leaving Goldman Sachs. But one imagines Goldman bankers spending their days delivering fresh flowers to elderly shut-ins and providing shelters for abandoned cats.

Serving clients was paramount. "It wasn't just about making money," Mr Smith writes. "It had something to do with pride and belief in the organisation."

It must have been a terrible shock when Mr Smith concluded that Goldman actually was primarily about making money. He spares us the sordid details, but apparently it took more than a decade for the scales to finally fall from his eyes.

He says that Goldman's culture has changed. "It revolved around teamwork, integrity, a spirit of humility, and always doing right by our clients."

And he warns: "Without clients you will not make money. In fact, you will not exist." It's tragic that Goldman is losing an employee who realizes that you need customers to stay in business.

We have some advice for Mr Smith, as well as the thousands of college students who apply to work at Goldman Sachs each year: If you want to dedicate your life to serving humanity, do not go to work for Goldman Sachs. That's not its function, and it never will be.

Go to work for Goldman Sachs if you wish to work hard and get paid more than you deserve even so. (Or if you want to make your living selling derivatives but don't know what a derivative is, as Smith concedes in passing that he didn't at first.)

Goldman and other investment banks do perform an important role in our economy, and Goldman bankers - most of them, at least - can hold their heads up high. But it is not charity work. Goldman's clients are mostly very well-off. Mr Smith's lament that the bank no longer serves their needs above and beyond its own does not tug at our heartstrings. BLOOMBERG

SERS - Tweaks or Not, Not Exactly One-for-One Swap

Constants in life - tax, death, change and can't please everybody. HDB unveiled what is supposed to be goodies for people affected by SERS. SERS basically means the government kicking you out of your old bigger home usually in a CCR or OCR, and then moving you to a nice new smaller home away, sometimes across the street, sometimes much further away. Not everybody likes that trade-off although SERS is more attractive now with the new rulings.

Now, those who are SERSed have more options in the flats they can pick. Previously they were just stuck with what HDB pointed them to. So for those staying at the HDB blocks at Rochor Centre, who were not exactly SERSed but treated in the same way as they were evicted for the North-South Expressway, can decline the Kallang flats.  They can instead choose and have a priority at a BTO or under a SBF. Sounds great!

There is a caveat to the priority though - 5% of  any BTO and SBF supply is for those on the priority list - WHICH IS COCK. HDB evicted someone, so out of goodwill by HDB if it had manners, that someone should pick wherever-whatever he wants and have a priority regardless of that silly 5% rule.

Still, big smile everyone for the SERS tweaks! Hey, why isn't the old uncle at the back not smiling? You know no need pay stamp duty when you get your replacement flat right? That's because the old uncle doesn't want to move. He has lived in block 69 in that D1-D8 HDB flat with that squat toilet and zinc toilet doors with a hook latch inside since when SBS buses had conductors punching tickets, and is happy where he is. He does not want to move out to live in a smaller unit, regardless if it is new. And he is afraid that once he moved out to another estate, the ghost of his dead wife cannot find him at his new home and keep him company anymore. Really? Really.

Alas, money can't solve everything but it can make difficult decisions easier. The main shaky foundation over the popularity of SERS despite the tweaking is the max $30,000 or 20% discount off the replacement flat. While the cost of HDB flats has soared since, this cap has not changed since SERS started in 1995!

BTW why isn't Khaw blogging about these changes to SERS? WTF





New changes 'more favourable' for SERS residents
by Esther Ng 04:45 AM Mar 15, 2012

SINGAPORE - Residents who have to relocate under the Selective En Bloc Redevelopment Scheme (SERS) will enjoy priority allocation for coming public flat sale exercises. They can also defer the entire resale levy till they sell their flat, or have it capped at S$30,000 with the remainder waived.

These were among the tweaks to the 17-year-old scheme - announced by the Housing and Development Board - to make it "more favourable" for affected residents.

According to the HDB, eligible SERS lessees will be given priority in a Build-to-Order or Sale of Balance Flat exercise launched from this month onwards, instead of being saddled with a flat at a pre-selected location.

SERS lessees may apply under the Resettlement/Relocation/Tenants' Priority Scheme in the application for BTO and SBF flats, where 5 per cent of flat supply from each exercise is set aside for priority applicants. "In the event that SERS applicants are not successful under the 5 per cent quota, they will still be included in a second round of computer ballot together with all other public applicants for the BTO/SBF flat supply," the HDB said.

"Previously, people had complained that the replacement flats were too far. This move gives residents more options," said property watcher Chris Koh.

PropNex chief executive Mohamed Ismail added: "Many of these SERS residents are seniors - their children have grown up and bought flats in towns farther away - so this measure allows them the chance to buy flats near their children and live nearer to them."

The HDB said it "regularly reviews its policies and processes to ensure they remain relevant and meet the needs of residents". The latest enhancements came after "taking into consideration feedback from our residents", it added.

Previously, SERS lessees who sold their first subsidised flat had to pay a resale levy for buying a second subsidised flat, or were liable to pay the resale levy for the SERS replacement flat.

Under the changes, they may defer the entire payment of the resale levy or premium without interest till they sell or transfer the replacement flat. Alternatively, they can choose to pay an amount capped at S$30,000 if they pay the levy or premium before they collect the keys to their replacement flat. The balance amount will be waived.

The HDB said it has also worked with the Central Provident Fund Board to relax guidelines on the use of refunded CPF money to purchase a replacement flat.

Those who are aged 55 and above will now be allowed to use a portion or all of the refunded CPF money in their Retirement Account to buy the replacement flat.

Last November, the Government announced that flats at Rochor Centre will make way for a new expressway. Apart from Rochor Centre residents, the new concessions will be extended to other SERS lessees whose grace period to apply for a flat has not expired yet.

These include residents from Blocks 321 to 323 Clementi Avenue 5; Blocks 1 to 3 East Coast Road; Blocks 1 to 3, 5 to 22 Redhill Close; and Blocks 167 to 172 Boon Lay Drive. HDB also announced it will grant a 10 per cent rental rebate to all shop tenants at Rochor Centre, in view of their petition and the coming tunnel boring works.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Lemon Lor? Lemon Law!

 We swear Zooropa is not a Lemon. Pop too!

Seller - Fuck you, you buy lemon lor!
Buyer - FUCK YOU, I Lemon Law you!

One of the best changes to the laws since blowjobs was made legal (as foreplay only, so if you CIM with your girlfriend or boyfriend it is still illegal fucking and fucking illegal), coming this September 2012, it is the LEMON LAW! Gone is the rule of "buyer beware", now it is "seller beware" as well. The Lemon Law to merchants is like the Women's Charter to husbands. Sure lose, regardless if your fault or not...

Shopkeepers at Sim Lim Square are probably trembling and plotting on what to do when the day of reckoning comes. However, I wouldn't be too worried if I were them. They won't be affected much as the Sim Lim practice is just change the shop name and receipts, while the staff and shop front can remain the same after selling you a lemon PSP, PC or iPat (sic). This is the true test of the power of the Lemon Law, against the notorious Sim Lim Square bandits. OK not all of them are crooks but you get the impression that some of them are the modern versions of the thieves market across at Sungei Road.

Back to the anticipated Lemon Law. Did you know that it applies to pets even as bizarre as it sounds? Yes.  What next? Mail-order brides from China some would pray. Buy a bride, try her, don't like, replace her with another or refund all within 6 months! Nobody knows the true extent of the Lemon Law, like whether it applies to HDB BTO flats. Would it apply to ministers too since we paid for them as taxpayers? Politicians would counter that they provide a service and therefore would not qualify as a lemon. So you know who benefits most from the Lemon Laws besides honest and dishonest consumers because of the legal mumbo jumbo? HONEST AND DISHONEST LAWYERS! It used to be corporate, IP or conveyance. Lemon Law litigation is the new frontier. Really? Really.

Seriously would it boost the retail industry and encourage consumerism? Yes, it would as people would be persuaded to buy as there is a solid refund and replace institution in place. However, consumers have to understand the trade-off. While there are honest consumers who honestly bought with the intention of keeping the item but then had to return it for their own reasons, there would be dishonest customers who bought the item with the intention of returning it after use I'm not talking about panties, but electronic items particularly as used items returned can be the next lemon. e.g. they need a solid sound system for a weekend party, thus buy before and return after. Retailers are now worried about consumers abusing the Lemom Law, especially the SMEs who don't have the deep pockets for an army of lawyers to bully back unscrupulous consumers.

Nevertheless, overall, the net effect is positive as not every consumer is a dishonest crook and the Lemon Law is finally here to protect consumers. CASE finally has bite, or at least a bigger bark.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Younger Singaporeans and Tax Burdens

Shanmugam is the law minister and also foreign affairs minister, and he is out of his depth outside of these areas. Recently, he is like me and most of us, he talked a lot of cock regarding income and tax. A $1,000 household income is enough to afford a BTO HDB flat after factoring housing grants. Of course one who knows his plebeian lot in life and is not fussy about a life-long mortgage can afford a 2-room BTO in some corner of Singapore with no MRT within walking distance, but not enough for food, transport, utilities for the family perhaps. Then a few days ago he said younger Singaporeans should not be burdened with taxes. Which is good in intention and I almost thumped my chest with my fist in affirmation to his ideals.

However, the law minister was talking specifically about Singapore's income tax, which is truly among the lowest in the world, and along with low corporate tax is part of the PAP's golden plan to bring in FDI and talents into Singapore. Nevertheless, Singaporeans young and old, are taxed in other ways. Tax by other names.

Consumption tax like the GST is one and it is especially hurting in its current form as there is only one level of tax for essential or luxury goods and services. True the current 7% GST is low compared to other developed nations e.g. the roughly 20% in Nordic countries, but GST is regressive taxation and the lower income are relatively taxed more than the higher income. Still the PAP assured that they would not raise taxes until at least 5 more years as part of an election vote-winner, so good thing there. BTW you know if we assume younger Singaporeans because they just entered the workforce and don't earn as much compared to those who worked longer, all things equal, GST means they are arguably taxed more even!

When the younger Singaporean buys a home. He is also taxed. The last I know stamp duty aka tax when one buys HDB or private property, is age-blind for first property owners. Stamp duty is progressive and can be hefty. As far as I know, there is no discount for "younger Singaporeans" who just bought their new home. Whether they should get a discount in stamp duty if they buy a BTO vs a resale HDB vs a private property is a different complex social-economic manipulation altogether. But the bottom line is, younger generation, lets say those below 30 or 35, are taxed as much as those who upgraded their property (excluding investment property owners where there are various market-cooling stamp duties). BTW it is the same with property tax. I didn't know there was relief for "younger Singaporeans".

Keeping an eye on the ball, younger Singaporeans are already burdened with tax, just the same, if not more, than older Singaporeans. And Shanmugam.defended that younger Singaporeans should not shoulder a bigger tax burden for the less privileged in Singapore. Of course not, They should't. The more well-off should shoulder that burden instead.


Younger S'poreans should not be burdened with taxes: K Shanmugam
By Dylan Loh | Posted: 11 March 2012 1827 hrs

SINGAPORE: Law and Foreign Affairs Minister K Shanmugam said that the government does not want younger Singaporeans to be saddled with tax burdens, even as the elderly are looked after.

He said it's important to balance the country's revenue and expenditure.

Mr Shanmugam was responding to the recently concluded Budget Debate in Parliament, at the sidelines of a community event at the Nee Soon Group Representation Constituency.

Mr Shanmugam said the government wants a society which looks after one another, especially those who can't help themselves.

"There's a lot of debate on whether you can survive in Singapore on S$1,000 or S$850. We don't want anyone to earn that amount, which is why we give opportunities for people to upgrade themselves. And education is made, literally free, for those who can't afford to pay for it," he said.

This year's doubling of health care spending and help for the low income as well as disabled, all point towards an inclusive approach.

But at the same time, the accounts do not go unchecked.

Mr Shanmugam said: "When I talk to my grassroots leaders, I just did a walkabout in my constituency, we also have to send another message, which is that, only about 50 per cent of Singaporeans pay taxes.

"And you look at all the other fees and everything else that's collected, in terms of what the government gets, and what it spends, it's all in the book.

"And today if you look at it in those terms, in terms of the revenue and expenditure, it is something the government has to be careful about."

Mr Shanmugam said currently a significant part of taxes are paid by foreigners who are easily mobile, and by the better-off.

But the government also ensures that tax rates in Singapore remain competitive.

And rather than increasing taxes, he noted that the government would rather people keep their money and support those in need, for a truly inclusive society.

He said: "We keep our tax rates competitive, 20 per cent at the top rate. Hong Kong is 15 per cent. If you go to UK, US, you know what their tax rates are?

"You're talking about 40 per cent, 50 per cent, people are talking about even higher. We don't want those kind of rates.

"We rather people keep their money and spend it as they like, buy insurance for their health and at the same time the government supports those who despite all the help, still need further help. So inclusive society."

TRE Trolls Are Not Safe - TRE Sells You Out!

 Poor Gary, lost his job, lost his hair, lost face and lost faith in TRE!


TR and its latest rebranding, TRE, supposed champion of Singaporean voices, yawn, does not protect you and your privacy. You are an idiot if you believe that TRE truly protects your anonymity when you comment in their website! TR previously swore that they would not reveal IP addresses of its fans who praise its shitty articles and shitted on the PAP and its cronies. Well, ask poor Gary Yue Mun Yew what he thinks about that promise of anonymity. Mr Yue got sacked from his job, and fined, lucky did not get thrown into jail too.

TRE is full of shit and what drives it is publicity and the visits to its website, to earn ad revenue. The more controversy it attracts by its sensationalist rumours and crazy comments, the more clicks to its website. TRE encouraged idiots like Gary Yue to go amok in the comments as it is generally good for business. However if the police wants the IP address of such idiots, TRE knows it has a good business model going and does not want to spoil it, and therefore gives up personal information when they have to. Why be forced to close down when all they have to do is sacrifice some gullible idiots?

Furthermore, if any other gullible TRE trolls have not realised by now, TRE has faked its stories of being DDOS or attacked constantly. Boring. All part of the grand sympathy plan. and we are attacked because we are the true voice of Singaporeans scam. KNS. TOC or Publichouse never DDOS ever despite them being more true voice of Singaporeans than TRE!

 
Man fined S$8,500 for inciting violence online
Updated 03:30 PM Mar 12, 2012
SINGAPORE - An unemployed man has been fined S$8,500 for inciting violence online.

In what's believed to be the first trial of its kind in Singapore, the court heard that 36-year-old Gary Yue Mun Yew posted a video clip depicting the assassination of former Egyptian President Muhammad Anwar al-Sadat on the Facebook page of socio-political website Temasek Review on August 9, 2010 at about 3.00 pm.

Along with the video, Yue wrote the comment: "We should re-enact a live version of this on our own grand-stand during our national's (sic) parade!".

The former engineer at Singapore Technologies was also found guilty of using a photograph deemed to incite violence on his Facebook profile in late July or early August 2010.

The picture depicted Vietnamese General Nguyen Ngoc Loan executing a Viet cong prisoner.

The head of former Deputy Prime Minister and Home Affairs Minister, Wong Kan Seng, was superimposed on the image of the prisoner. The People's Action Party logo was also displayed on the prisoner's chest.

On each count, Yue could have faced up to five years' jail or a fine, or both.

In sentencing, District Judge Low Wee Ping made it clear that the charges were based on the acts of posting electronic documents that contained incitement of violence.

This, the judge stressed, was a big difference from the act of inciting violence itself.

Yue's lawyers had argued that he had no intent to incite violence through the posting and that the video clip was not effective in inciting violence.

But the judge said these are irrelevant.

Under Section 267 of the Penal Code, the charges Yue faced, were strictly liability offences.

The judge made it clear that the Youtube video and Yue's comment were "without doubt, an incitement to political assassination of persons on the grand-stand" on National Day.

And this was relevant in sentencing.

So he found Yue guilty on both charges and fined him S$6,000 for posting the video clip and another S$2,500 for posting the doctored photograph on his Facebook profile.

In his submissions, Deputy Public Prosecutor Sanjiv Vaswani had urged the court to impose a nine month jail term for Yue on the charge of posting the assassination video clip.

He said this was in line with the criminal intimidation sentencing benchmark.

But defence lawyers countered that the video did not have broad exposure, that it was only established three weeks after the incident that an individual had reported the posting to authorities.

As for criminal intimidation, the defence counsel pointed out that the essence of the offence is that harm is done, which was not the case here.

The defence counsel added that although the video posting was made on National Day, it had absolutely no chance of fruition.

He told the court that the act was "a grandiose statement, hyperbolic, surreal" and the exclamation marks at the end of the comment underlined those facts.

The defence counsel noted that this case is the first of its kind in Singapore, so it is easy for the court to make an example out of the accused.

But he urged the judge not to give a custodial sentence as Yue has already lost his job and has to take care of his elderly father who is unwell.

But DPP Sanjiv argued that it would be cheap to slap Yue with a fine, given the fact that self-radicalisation is a threat.

So, he said a custodial sentence is "imperative to set the sign that such acts will not be condoned".

The district judge said the sentence to be imposed has a wide spectrum and he found that Yue has more personal mitigating factors than aggravating ones, so a fine is liable.

Friday, March 9, 2012

What Holistic Education?

Singapore's education is arguably solid internationally according to PISA standards at least in primary school maths. Although it has no mercy for those who are slower if you hear the anecdotes on how students and parents are equally stressed about schoolwork. Tsk Tsk Tsk

MOE now wants to dabble in "holistic education", nice fancy wordplay for something to learn beyond maths, science and languages. However, MOE's quest for holistic education is going to flop even before it starts particularly if holistic education classes are outside of regular curriculum time. It's a fact that most parents don't give a shit about anything that is not graded.

They just want their kids to get A* in Math, Science, English and 2nd language and then go on to a "branded" rather than a "neighbourhood" school, and preferably one with an IP. We hear stories of parents sending their children to all sorts of enrichment and tuition classes just to give their Johns and Janes a headstart over the other kids in life. Except that the other parents and kids are also doing the same thing as it is the norm, which means nobody is really ahead of anybody. Not ahead of anybody except parents who don't care about the race, or don't have the money to keep up with the kiasu pack.


Minister outlines MOE's plans for holistic education
Posted: 08 March 2012 2350 hrs

SINGAPORE: Education Minister Heng Swee Keat has outlined his ministry's plans to create a holistic education system and one where no child is left behind.

Speaking in Parliament on Thursday, Mr Heng said that to prepare our students for the future, education must develop the whole person.

"It is less about content knowledge, as content will have to be re-learnt and even un-learnt during one's lifetime," he said.

"It is more about how to process information, discern truths from untruths, connect seemingly disparate dots, and create knowledge even as the context changes. It is about developing an enduring core of competencies, values and character to anchor our young and ensure they have the resilience to succeed."

"Developing the whole child must first begin with instilling the right character and values. We must adopt a student-centric, values-driven approach," added Mr Heng.

And to reflect the emphasis on a holistic, values-driven education, Mr Heng said that there will be a new Edusave Character Award to recognise students who exhibit exemplary values, such as resilience and tenacity, integrity, care and respect, as well as civic responsibility.

The minister said the Community Involvement Programme is an important part of character building as it builds a spirit of volunteerism.

It will therefore be enhanced and reframed as Values in Action to place a stronger emphasis across all schools on the inculcation of values through community involvement.

Under Values in Action, students will undertake personal and group reflections to discuss their experience and the role they can play in the community.

Students will be encouraged to choose community issues they are concerned about, understand them better and decide how they can make a difference.

Schools will also be encouraged to develop 4-year or 6-year development plans to move towards more sustainable learning through community involvement.

To ensure opportunities for all students, the Ministry of Education is significantly increasing its coverage of financial support for needy students.

More funds will also be given to financial assistance schemes.

The income limit for eligibility for the MOE Financial Assistance Scheme or FAS will be raised from S$1,500 to S$2,500.

Besides assessing applicants by household income, the ministry will assess them using a new Per Capita Income (PCI) criterion so that more students from larger families can qualify.

This means that students from households with a per capita income not exceeding S$625 per month will now be eligible.

For example, a family of six comprising two children, two parents and two grandparents living together, with a monthly income of S$3,600 (that is, per capita income of S$600) will now qualify.

Schools will also be given additional annual grants of up to S$15,000 per school every year, for the next three years.

This will allow schools to provide additional targeted support in specific ways or to students who might have just missed the FAS criteria but are deserving.

The ministry will also triple the annual funding allocated to the School Breakfast Programme, from S$4 million to S$12 million.

This is to ensure children do not start their day on an empty stomach.

However Education Minister Heng said: "But let me emphasise. It is not just about money, but an integrated approach, addressing financial, socio-emotional and learning support, in partnership with parents and the broader community.

"Ultimately, being inclusive is about giving each child the best opportunity to realise his or her potential, and in turn be able to fully participate in the workplace and in society thereafter."

The ministry will also grow the number of school-based student care centres over the next two years.

The ministry is looking to increase the number of student care centres located within schools from the current 57 to 70 by 2014.

The centres provide structured care for students, whether it's help with homework or with problems at home.

Constant interaction between the centre's staff and school teachers also means potential problems can be flagged quickly.

These centres are just one way in which the Education Ministry is lifting up students who fall behind.

The ministry also has learning support programmes in primary schools to pull up those weak in English and Maths.

Such early intervention programmes are also in place in preschools, where students from disadvantaged families are given help in English.

About 6,000 children have gone through the scheme, and another 2,200 will be included this year.

Besides helping the low-income, the ministry will also raise the level of resources to schools for them to offer more customised programmes for students.

Addressing the anxiety of parents over getting their child into a good school, Mr Heng outlined improvements made over the years, adding that his aim is to ensure that all schools are good schools.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Budget "Cutted" for Reservists!


Sure, sure, sure. NSF get more money. More money for them to spend on girls and drinks, or whatever is fun nowadays for horny, testosterone-filled guys. This Budget is actually quite pathetic if you are a reservist still stuck in your 10-year cycle, waiting for that gold watch and letter confirming your MR status!

Nobody has questioned - WTF do we reservists get? Those who voted for PAP, this is what you get. Just last year we were raving and bitching about foreigners here for a free ride, while most of us guys who have not sought a specialist yet for a downgrade in medical status, have to do ICT and IPPT.

This Budget, under a new defence minister, we didn't get more money if we pass our annual IPPT. I thought they wanted us to keep fit? Where's the incentive?

We also didn't get any one-off big income tax relief or better, an increase in the NSmen tax relief claimable from the current $1,500 and $3,000 for the non-ICT and ICT year respectively. WTF! We are not even asking for tax rebate, just a tax relief also don't have. KNS As citizens with responsibilities, I thought we were supposed to be more privileged than the PRs? Where's our reward for doing ICT?

There was nothing even for those who MRed. We complained before that the old soldiers should also be acknowledged when Mindef bragged 2 years ago that there would be CPF top-ups for those at the start, mid and end points of their ICT tour-of-duty. This is the 45th year of NS right? No CPF top-up or token tax relief either for those who unwillingly served till the end? Where's the appreciation?


by Amir Hussain
SINGAPORE - The monthly National Service (NS) rank allowance will be increased by S$60 across all ranks starting next month, as part of efforts to recognise the contributions of national servicemen, said Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen in Parliament yesterday.

The increase applies to full-time National Servicemen (NSFs) and Operationally Ready National Servicemen (NSmen) across the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF), Singapore Police Force and Singapore Civil Defence Force.

With the increase, a recruit will receive a monthly NS rank allowance of S$480, while a Lieutenant will get S$1,180. The last review of the NS allowance was in 2009, when it was increased by S$20.

Responding to questions from Members of Parliament as to whether the duration of NS could be reduced, Dr Ng stressed yesterday that "NSmen are not the second line of defence". "When needed, they are the first responders to protect Singapore when our survival is threatened. We need an adequate duration to train and prepare NSmen for their roles effectively," he added.

The reduction in NS duration in 2004 corresponded with the transformation of the 3rd Generation SAF, as well as a surge in NS intake between 2006 and 2015. But cohort size will fall from 2016, and Dr Ng said the effects of this transition has to be closely monitored. "Therefore, until further review, we should maintain the two years needed for full-time NS, and 10 years for Operationally Ready NS (ORNS), so as to bring our soldiers and units up to the level of operational readiness required to maintain a credible SAF," he added.

The Defence Ministry (MINDEF) is also looking at other ways to extend professional development opportunities to regular servicemen. For example, the SAF has joined hands with Nanyang Polytechnic to introduce a Certificate in Business Management programme for warrant Officers, specialists and military experts. The bridging programme provides these officers with a foundation in the study of business management and, upon successful completion, servicemen would qualify for direct entry into the Diploma in Business Management.

The SAF also plans to extend its online platform, LEARNet, progressively over the next five years to about 80 other units to allow servicemen access to learning resources through portable devices.

To commemorate 45 years of National Service, MINDEF will also engage Singaporeans to post their NS experiences on the NS45 website and through an online story competition, "My NS Story", which closes next month. Besides the online competition, MINDEF's mobile NS showcase will also tour the heartlands after May's Army Open House at the F1 Pit Building.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

WP Chen Show Mao Bruised and Battered, Not in Kansas Anymore

Mr Mao Mr Chen, You're Not in Kansas Anymore!


WP Chen Show Mao was the star catch in last year's GE rallies, almost like Sylvia Lim was the star in the 2006 GE. He swooped in from somewhere, rapidly built up a cult personality around himself with his astounding credentials that would fit jolly well among the candidates in white, except that his colours were blue. Chen Show Mao could do no wrong it seemed. His GE rally speeches were above-average but neither awesome nor awful, not that witty as Low Thia Khiang, not that scarily rousing like facist-seeming Pritam Singh.

Recently, his speeches and his credibility have suffered an even greater dip as he was accused of plagiarism. Sharp guys who probably agreed with the former Davis Polk & Wardwell  corporate raider, pointed out that Chen Show Mao's politicised ideas on government spending and economics were borrowed or stolen from this other guy, Donald Low, point by point, without attribution and credit given to the source. Those against the WP manned the guns and started firing at Mr Chen. WP defenders also jumped into their trenches and shelled back. Frankly, no big crap that Mr Chen copy/paste but some attribution was necessary since he is a big blue target for WP's critics. He should be street smart enough to avoid such ambushes. Maybe he is just not street smart as Low Thia Khiang, that's why.

The hypocrisy of those blindly propping Chen Show Mao up is laughable and predictable. Sometimes you wonder where the anti-PAP or anti-WP idiots come from. So much for our education system. If it was Vikram Nair that borrowed or stole ideas from Donald Low, you bet these same fellows defending the WP MP would hammer Nair senseless. Donald Low might do an 180 turn and instead of saying it is ok now, might insinuate ("insinuate" because if say outright he would get sued by PAP until no pants even) intellectual property piracy, the anti-PAP rabble would accuse the Sembawang PAP MP of zero originality at best and a thief at worst. Such is life!

It is not one year since the 2011 GE and already the internet rabble is excited that they can take shots at WP as well as the PAP. Mon-Tue-Wed-Thu, scream at PAP. Fri-Sat, shout at WP. Sun-rabble sabbath and rest day.

Politics is becoming more fascinating as people are beginning to realise that all parties in parliament are fair game. The fun and responsibilities of a cynical populace. The burden of the enlightened electorate! The PAP would get most of the slime since they control most of the seats in parliament, but some shit is also proportionately reserved just for WP as they are not the small underdogs that they used to be anymore. The bigger they grow, the more shit they would get. Justly so.

Update
Pritam Singh also accused of plagiarism since his parliament speech was based on a blogger's article and there was no attribution. Facepalm.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Don't Make Fun of Religion, Lots of Hypersensitive Zealots

Be cool bros!

Sure, there are assholes who are rude and bigoted, and have white bedsheets hood and gown in their drawers. However, there are also thin-skinned monotheists who get all worked up. There is something about religion, especially monotheistic ones, being uptight that their religion being insulted. I'm not talking about the usual bearded AK-47 totting Taliban or Afghan running amok after stacks of the Quran were burnt by the US unbelievers-invaders in Afghanistan, I'm talking about uptight local Christians. Ask former NMP Siew Kum Hong and and he has a rough idea of being hounded by Christians when he recently uploaded something in his Facebook that got some hypersensitive Christians all constipated. He had to apologise. In the latest thin-skinned incident, the sexist FHM had to pull off its magazines from the shelves as Christians were supposedly mocked in an article. The FHM editor also had to apologise.

What exactly was the insult I really don't know, but I sure want to know now in both the Siew Kum Hong and FHM cases. Controversy fires up publicity. Maybe it was a cartoon of Jesus or Moses, or a film re-review of The Last Temptation of Christ. What it did was give FHM publicity and that article an underground status. People who have a relevant copy might scan the article and upload it in the Internet soon. Just wait for it to appear in a Facebook Wall or in your email soon for you to laugh, get upset or just feel indifferent.

The Christians if they wanted to be taken seriously have to get lawyered up and sue FHM. Or if they want to get really taken seriously, have to be more vocal like how Muslims were upset about Prophet Mohammad cartoons. I seriously don't think they should do that though.


FHM pulled off shelves, editor apologises

04:46 AM Mar 03, 2012SINGAPORE - The National Council of Churches of Singapore (NCCS) has sharply criticised two articles published in the latest edition of FHM Singapore, describing them as "highly objectionable and deplorable". The criticism prompted an immediate apology from the senior editor of the men's magazine and the removal of the publication from newsstands islandwide.

In a statement yesterday, the council, which represents more than 150 churches across denominations, said the articles "make fun of the Lord Jesus Christ". The statement, signed by NCCS president Bishop Dr Robert Solomon and its three vice-presidents, added: "These articles appear during the holy season of Lent when Christians remember the sufferings and sacrifice of Jesus on the cross, and they cause serious offence and hurt the sensitivities of the Christian community."

The NCCS also urged the authorities to "look into the matter and ensure the material in question is removed", adding that "such offensive articles threaten the religious harmony that we work so hard to build and maintain".

Noting that it has become "fashionable" to depict religions in the media in ways that are offensive to religious communities, the council urged that "society must be on guard against such trends". FHM Singapore is a title produced by MediaCorp Publishing. The articles in question were entitled "Which of These Celebs Might Secretly be Jesus?" and "Jesus 2.0: What can we expect?".

When contacted, FHM Singapore senior editor David Fuhrmann-Lim said: "We would like to apologise for any offence caused ... We are always sensitive to people's religions and beliefs, and while the article was written with a tongue-in-cheek humour, we do realise now it was not done in the best taste or judgment. We will certainly be more mindful of such sensitive issues in the future."

"Furthermore, we will immediately remove all copies on sale in the newsstands; this process should be completed in the next two days," he added.

When contacted, a spokesperson for the industry regulator Media Development Authority said: "We are investigating this complaint for a possible breach of our content guidelines for publications."

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Want Better Healthcare? Higher Tax!

That is what Tharman said in parliament during the budget debate. If people want better healthcare, medicine and trained medical staff don't fall from the sky, and there would be higher tax!

Wow such a scary ultimatum man. Did it occur to the dear minister that we don't mind paying more tax if there is better healthcare? Wait! Mr IRAS, don't come knocking at my door! I insert caveat now. Although, depends on how much tax more also as I don't want to pay a health tax that is twice half my income tax, just to subsidise for another Mr fat diabetic always-eat-sleep-never-exercise citizen's healthcare bills.

With the population getting older and apprehension of inflation and rising health costs, the Budget promised  medifund and medisave top-ups. Clap. There is more subsidies for patients in community hospitals of 20-50%. Clap clap.They would push out more hospital beds - 1,900 in the general (acute) hospitals and ,1800 beds in the community hospitals. Clap clap clap. To give a rough idea of the scale of the beds being pushed into the wards, Singapore General Hospital has about 1,500 beds. The new Khoo Teck Puat hospital has about 550 beds in comparison. So not a small number of beds, assuming that there is enough healthcare professionals like doctors, nurses, technicians to service the beds. Hand about to clap but stop. More beds so what, if there is not enough attentive doctors and pretty nurses. Nursing isn't something glam for locals as a career and Pinoys and PRC workers would continue to be around in the wards.

However, why didn't the Budget assure for me in healthcare despite the enhanced instruments? The simple fact was that Tharman promised healthcare spending may reach 3.5% of GDP in 2030. 2030, not 2020, not 2015. Also, I despair to think that the foreigners here might stress our healthcare infrastructure just like they stressed housing and transport. Yet, there was no populist gesture of a citizens-first healthcare. Maybe like the more subsidised B and C wards only for citizens? The PAP government just does not seem serious or sincere enough about assuring us in our growing healthcare worry.