Wednesday, 31 October 2007
Looking at the recent ERP increases, I vaguely remembered reading something sometime ago on some FTA that Singapore had signed with US. As such, Singapore had guaranteed all tariffs and duties raised from US products.
With that, I tried to search for this piece of information that I remembered I had read about.
This is a link on the quick facts about this agreement.
And this is a PDF file of the complete agreement. Seriously I have no idea about the validity of these findings that I had found. Anyway, its just for everyone's reading.
My question here is, is it because of such clause, hence our Government has to slowly reduce COE and this drop in income has to be replaced by something... and that is the ERP???
But if its true, its only applicable to US products. And we don't have much US cars in Singapore anyway, we see more Japanese cars isn't?
(Picture abstracted from www.ustr.gov)
Tuesday, 30 October 2007
Very soon, we will find a lot of people owning cars but the only place one get to see them is in the carpark. Reason being, it will be too expensive to drive.
Extracted from channelnewsasia.com
ERP rates going up again for third time this year
SINGAPORE : Electronic Road Pricing (ERP) rates are going up again for the third time this year.
There will also be new gantries erected.
The highest amount will be charged at the Pan Island Expressway (PIE). The gantry affected is the one at the slip road into the Central Expressway (CTE).
From November 5, motorists will pay $3.50 from 7:30am to 8:00am. The amount charged goes up to $5.00 between 8:30am and 9:00am. This is a $1.50 increase in the 8:30am to 9:00am period since February this year.
The latest hike comes just days after the opening of the Kallang-Payar Lebar Expressway (KPE) Tunnel.
The KPE is expected to ease congestion on the CTE when it opens fully late next year.
ERP rates will also go up by 50 cents at six other gantries.
The CTE gantry north of Braddell Road will cost $2.50 between 7:30am and 8:00am.
Three CTE gantries south of Braddell Road will cost $4.00 between 8:30am and 9:00am.
Those travelling along Bendemeer Road will have to pay $1.50 from 8:30am to 9:00am, instead of the current $1.
Drivers on Thomson Road will also have to pay $1.50 between 8:30am and 9:00am.
New ERP gantries will also start operating on November 5.
There will be one on the north-bound CTE just before the PIE exit, and two along the east-bound ECP before the Rochor Road exit and Ophir Road slip road.
There is also another one on the south-bound Bukit Timah Expressway after the Dairy Farm exit before it joins the PIE.
Sunday, 28 October 2007
A dinner which will be held at the Fortunate Restaurant at Toa Payoh on 3rd November will see the Party gaining its foothold into their 51st Anniversary. Press, media, friends, members of the party and many other invited guests will be present on that night. Members whom had served and contributed unrelentlessly to the party will be recognised too.
A commemorative book will be on sale. This book touches on WP's history, founder, Mr David Marshall, Mr. JBJ and his victorious Anson win, Mr. Low Thia Khiang's leadership and renewal. What is more interesting is the 5 pages of photo gallery that one will get to see at the back of the book. These pictures includes, photos taken from the 50s, 80s, 90s to the 20th century.
A group of us, headed by Jane, had come together to assist the publisher to help produce the book. Nights and nights of sleep were sacrificed. Proof-reading were done multiple times, selection of pictures were repeatedly done to ensure that the best pictures were chosen. Coming back to proof-reading, the chinese who were involved in this project started to be able to recognised the Tamil language :) Well, this was because we got to counter-check with either the English or Chinese ones to make sure that the pictures chosen were correct. But of course, fortunately we have got our Malay and Tamil members to proof read on those areas. This book which will be available for sale on 3rd November comes in both hard and soft cover.
Preparation of stage decoration, slide show, receptionists, ushers, book-sellers, door gifts, certificates and guest board were all part of the agenda for the dinner.
Talking about guest board, I was suppose to send it for printing into A1 size. Hence I browsed through the net and I found 'Isuccess Solutions' at Sunshine Plaza. The boss quoted me $16 (printing) + $9 (foam mounting), a total of $25 in all. I had emailed my file over to them at least 5 days in advance. Yesterday which was Saturday, I went down to collect the board. To my horror, the boss told me that it cannot be printed, he cannot print.
The first thing that came into my mind was, because its the Workers' Party thingy, therefore he refused to print? Before I could question further, he explained that....."Miss ah...you gave me wrong size, so cannot print...."
Oh my! What a relief, I thought to myself. Probably the boss saw my expression he went on to ask...."Why? You thought I am not printing for you because its for the Workers' Party?"
I laughed out loud and went..."Ya lor."
Hmm eventually after printing the board, guess how much the boss, Mr. Robert, charged me?
$12 for everything!
We are less than a week away from the dinner, hereby I would like to wish the party..."Towards a more democratic society, many more sweet savourings to come your way, enjoy your golden years!"
Pictures of the Party's membership card during David Marshall's era, provided by a member who had been with the party since 1959.
Friday, 26 October 2007
The Parliamentary debate on the law against gay sex will be remembered for its fiery, heart-felt spirit. But outside the House, passions — among both supporters and opponents of Section 377A — have, at times, degenerated into spite.
There were threatening, expletive-laced emails. One parliamentarian had his sexuality questioned. Another academic was flamed in blogs and had her phone number circulated.
And the employer of one gay professional was questioned about their hiring him.
The ugly turn of events, some may say, is only to be expected given the emotional nature of the subject matter — one that Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong had warned on Tuesday could polarise society.
But a bigger question being asked is: What do such instances say of Singaporeans' ability to debate issues maturely, and without hostility?
In Parliament on Monday, Nominated MP Thio Li-ann recounted how a colleague received threatening emails following the publication of an article in The Straits Times in May, after reforms to the Penal Code were mooted.
Assistant Professor Yvonne Lee had commented that it was wrong to decriminalise homosexual acts. For a month after, people, including young lawyers and students, wrote to the dean criticising her.
Her photo was posted on blogs and her phone number circulated. She received emails — "80 per cent of them abusive" — asking if she was a "fundamentalist" who would discriminate against homosexual students.
"It was a professional attack, intimidation and harassment," Asst Prof Lee told Today.
Professor Thio herself was "shell-shocked" and made a police report after receiving an abusive email in August from an unnamed stranger who threatened to defile her grave on the day Section 377A was repealed. "If it was just a rude letter, I'd let it slip. But this really overstepped things," the law lecturer told Today. In the opposing camp, fellow NMP Siew Kum Hong, who presented a public petition to scrap the law against gay sex, had his sexuality questioned.
"When you are a public figure taking a position on a public issue, you have to accept that some people will not be mature enough to refrain from such things," said Mr Siew, a lawyer.
"It bothers me but I just got past it and carried on. I don't want to dignify their comments."
The organisers of the Repeal377A.com campaign — who, in a statement yesterday, said they were "deeply disappointed" by the decision to keep the law — told Today that hate messages were posted on their website.
"That's what the gay community experiences as part of their lives — derogatory slurs," a spokesman said.
Indeed, one employee at a large government-linked company learnt, a few months ago, that an anonymous letter had been sent to senior management, asking why they employed a gay person.
"I was really shocked. I'm not a closet gay but I don't show off my sexuality at work. I'm there to work, not advocate gay rights; I'm a professional. Honestly, I felt very violated," he said. To him, the incident suggests there is "a lot of fear" that legalising consensual gay sex would cause societal disintegration. "When there is fear, it can lead to viciousness."
MP for Tanjong Pagar GRC Baey Yam Keng, however, said that while some were not pleased at his speaking up for homosexuals, no one had been outright abusive so far.
One email sender vowed not to vote for him in the next election. Another asked if he was "naive or blind".
Said Mr Baey: "For these kind of emotional issues, there will be skewed positions taken. But it's healthy to have these two opposing views — albeit some being extreme about it — rather than not talk about the issue."
He feels such debates raise awareness among the uninformed, which feeds into an even more robust discussion.
But Prof Thio asked: "Can we promise ourselves that we will not resort to deception or shouting at each other, but focus on facts and issue? Even if we disagreed, can we disagree in a civil fashion?"
On Sunday, Dr Balaji Sadasivan, Senior Minister of State (Foreign Affairs and Information, Communications and the Arts), had called for tolerance of differences on Section 377A. The challenge, he had warned, was in preventing diversity from descending into "divisive antagonism", as it has in the United States.
Such polarisation was unlikely to happen in Singapore, said Dr Terence Chong, a fellow at the Institute of Southeast Asian Studies. Citizens by and large have shown that they are capable of civil and passionate debate – both in and outside of parliament – despite the actions of a few anonymous "black sheep" in cyberspace, he noted.
"The overall tone of the debate has been civil. It would be naïve for anyone to want passionate debate without any name-calling at all. And it would be very unfair to point to a small group of people who send hate mail and say we are not capable of a mature debate," said Dr Chong.
Thursday, 25 October 2007
Article below is from channelnewsasia.com
SINGAPORE: Regan Lee Da Wen, 26, was initially charged with causing the death of a salesperson while test-driving a Mazda MX-5 sports car. But he has since pleaded guilty to a lesser charge of committing a rash act.
Lee, on Wednesday, was disqualified from driving for 10 years and sentenced to seven months in jail.
The case had dragged on for more than two years amid public outcry over Lee's action.
According to court documents, Lee was driving at a speed of more than 90 kilometres on 29 October 2005 along Upper Paya Lebar Road – nearly twice the legal speed limit for that stretch of road.
It is believed that Lee had lost control of the car while negotiating a bend. Veering to the right, he crossed the centre divider, crashing head-on into an oncoming car.
The impact flipped the Mazda before hitting another vehicle, killing 22-year-old Mazda sales executive Angelia He Xueli. Lee escaped unhurt.
His case was supposed to have gone to trial with the original charge of causing Ms He's death, which carries a heavier penalty. However, the case never went to open court and was adjourned several times.
During that time, it is believed the prosecution and defence teams came to an agreement to an amended lesser charge.
Tuesday, 23 October 2007
"If you don't include your women graduates in your breeding pool and leave them on the shelf, you would end up a more stupid society...So what happens? There will be less bright people to support dumb people in the next generation. That's a problem."- MM Lee in 1983 (oh god....this was from LKY)
"If we want to be a world-class city, if we want to be a nation that has got very good standards of public hygiene and cleanliness, the best place to start with is the public toilet."- Amy Khor, PAP MP (Now you know where all the 1st world world class-ness all started)
"...I regret making the decision because, in the end, the baby continued to be in intensive care, and KKH now runs up a total bill of more than $300,000..."- Lim Hng Kiang, regretting the decision to save a baby's life because KKH ran up a $300 000 bill (Obviously won’t regret about helping a rich and sick Junta)
"Having enjoyed football as a national sport for decades, we in Singapore have set ourselves the target of reaching the final rounds of World Cup in 2010."- Ho Peng Kee (apparently its now call a vision but not a target nor goal)
"Only 5% are unemployed. We still have 95% who are employed."- Yeo Cheow Tong. Duh. (See, learn to look at the big picture only, the small one can be ignored or pretend to be non-existence)
"Singaporean workers have become more expensive than those in the USA and Australia."- Tony Tan (Especially the extraordinary and unique leaders pay)
“People support CPF cuts because there are no protest outside parliament."-PM Lee (See what happen to those who protest? Point to the Chees)
"THE National Kidney Foundation (NKF) spends more than 80 per cent of its funds on its beneficiaries."- Lim Hng Khiang (But now we know the truth)
"Save on one hairdo and use the money for breast screening."- Lim Hng Kiang (Now you know how they view the severity of your medical problem)
Continue reading more comments from: http://citizzena.blogspot.com/
Friday, 19 October 2007
A video clip which starred celebrities such as Kumar, Mark Richmond, Robin Goh, Selena Tan, Tan Kheng Hua, etc was produced to drive this petition.
And today I saw this from the channelnewsasia.com:
Group sets up site urging Singapore to keep gay sex ban
SINGAPORE: In an apparent counter move, a group calling itself "the Majority" has set up a website to collect signatures backing a call for the government to keep the law against gay sex.
The group, in an open letter to Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, asks the government to "do what is right and retain Section 377A for the future of our children and our nation".
Under Section 377A of the Penal Code, it is illegal for men to have sex with one another. While prosecution is rare, those convicted can be jailed up to two years.
The online letter read: "Section 377A is a reflection of the sentiments of the majority of society. Most Singaporeans hold conservative family values and do not accept homosexuality as the norm.
"Repealing Section 377A is a vehicle to force homosexuality on a conservative population that is not ready for homosexuality."
Repealing the law, the letter said, could lead to the redefinition of same-sex marriage and the trend of adoption by same-sex parents.
The website, which went live yesterday at about 12.30pm, seems to be a response to an ongoing public online campaign calling for Section 377A to be repealed — even sporting a similar website design.
The pro-repeal website is urging people to sign two documents, one an open letter to the Prime Minister and the second a petition — which closes today — to be submitted to Parliament on Monday by Nominated Member of Parliament Siew Kum Hong.
In the latest Penal Code review, which was finished last month, the government decided to uphold the status quo on this issue. The Ministry of Home Affairs had said that Singapore was generally a conservative society and "we should let the situation evolve".
As of 10.45pm yesterday, the website in support of Section 377A had gathered 118 signatures, most of which were accompanied by comments. Wrote a petitioner who signed off as "Bo Bo": "We should never submit to what the rest of the world finds trendy and acceptable."
Wrote Sammy, another petitioner: "It is not right to alter the Section 377A which (sic) majority stands for traditional family values which built what Singapore is today."
Mr Martin Tan, 30, who organised this latest online show of support for Section 377A, told TODAY the website allowed the "silent majority" to have its say.
"What the gay community does in private is their private space," said Mr Tan, an executive director of a not-for-profit organisation. "We just do not want our country's legislation to change just for a small minority who are vocal."
The pro-Section 377A group, said Mr Tan, was started by a small group of four "concerned individuals" who forwarded the link to friends. The open letter, he added, will remain on the website and not be submitted to the government.
When contacted, organisers of the online letter and the petition against Section 377A declined to comment on the new website. But they did say the petition to Parliament had garnered 2,519 signatures so far.
Gay rights activist Alex Au saw the new website as Singaporeans exercising free speech. But as for the group calling itself "the Majority", he said the matter was not a "numbers game" but an issue of "fairness and equality".
Saying the latest website reflected "healthy" debate, Dr Gillian Koh, senior research fellow at the Institute of Policy Studies, said the scene should not be "monopolised" by those who want the law repealed.
For those who want it retained, she added, "it's a way to signal to other Singaporeans that a bunch of them care about this issue too".
However, Dr Koh also believed that despite several surveys showing that most Singaporeans feel homosexuality should not be made legal, most would choose to stay out of discussion — remaining as "spectators" only.
"What will happen is that people from the religious backgrounds, those with clear vested interests, will speak up," said Dr Koh.
This is the website: http://www.keep377a.com/
Thursday, 18 October 2007
SINGAPORE: The Financial Times (FT) has apologised to Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew and Temasek Holdings CEO, Ho Ching, over an article it published on 29 September entitled "Sovereign funds try to put on an acceptable face".
FT said it recognises that the article had given the impression that MM Lee was instrumental in securing the appointment of his son, Mr Lee Hsien Loong, as prime minister.
It also said the article had implied that the prime minister had helped his wife, Ho Ching, secure the top position at investment company Temasek Holdings, and that she, in turn, helped her brother-in-law Lee Hsien Yang replace former DBS Bank CEO, Jackson Tai.
In its published apology, the FT admitted and acknowledged that these allegations were false and completely without foundation.
It has unreservedly apologised to the prime minister, the minister mentor and Ms Ho for the distress and embarrassment caused by these allegations.
The paper also said it would not make any further allegations and would pay, by way of compensation, the costs incurred by them in connection with this matter.
The article has been taken out from the website.
Saturday, 13 October 2007
This came as a good news for many but ..... as per what people always say, its not easy to get the government money and true enough there is a catch to this 1%.
The first S$20,000 in our CPF Ordinary Account, and S$40,000 in our CPF Special Account and Medisave is 'untouchable'.
I felt that if this could be an option, something like our old Medishield, whereby you can opt-in or opt-out from, will be even better. This is especially so for the younger people. These are people who can and are most likely to be able to take risk. They may wish to invest it elsewhere rather than putting it into the CPF.
I, for one is one of them. I invested my CPF money into both independent broker and insurance company. My unit trust made near to 40% in two years... that is 20% per year. My funds with an insurance company made 30% in 11 months.... I had just invested my entire SA too. Well, I don't have much in that account. However, I also don't know when can I take money out from that account and hence I decided to just 'hump tum' everything in to maximise it. Anyway I have nothing but time for this account which I cannot do anything with.
Initially, I thought I was just lucky to be able to have this fabulous returns.... the other day, on Wed, 10th Oct, a client called up to ask the Secretary on the performance of his funds? He invested $100, 000 (CPF-OA) in 2005 and the records shows that he has a whooping $400, 000 now!!!! He was so over-joyed that he came down to the office immediately and insisted on giving us a treat. Over lunch, I could not help but ask him this question," Mr. Y, may I know how young are you?"
He looked pretty young that was what triggered me to ask this question.
"53", he replied....followed by "any problem?"
I heaved a sigh of relief....."Wow, lucky you!" At least you can get to take out your money very soon. Hmm...as if those money were mine :)
Besides Mr. Y, a lot of other clients made money. The age range is between mid-thirties to late-fifties. Yes! Late-fifties.
However, clients must also understand that all investment comes with a risk. Hence, it will be better if the holding back of the CPF money can be made an option. For account holders to make their own choice, after all these are our money, isn't?
The very reason why I invested my CPF money in was to be able to hit the min. sum required when I retire in order to take my CPF money out. Because I know that the possibility of me hitting that sum which is as of now $120, 000 for my age (min. sum varies with age band), is quite low. I guess its gradually going up.
Because I will need to pay for housing loan, provide education for children, etc... I seriously have no idea if I can hit $120, 000 and so I invested, knowing that the previous CPF returns of 2.5% will definitely not get me there.
Friday's Straits Times, last page, shows a very positive graph of funds performance. The best performance was by Duetsche Bank, over 60% in returns.
I believe that funds, especially China and India funds will continue to do well, at least up to the 2008 Olympics. Therefore, being so Singaporean, my 'kiasuism' spirit came over me and I threw my entire SA into it :)
Friday, 12 October 2007
Are we waking up to the changes of climate fear?
As per warned by Al Gore, "Global warming will be the greatest environmental challenge in the 21st century."
What can one do to help?
I suppose most of us spend the bulk of our time in the office...hence I had picked up some useful information from the web on how to help reduce the effects of Global Warming at work:
1) Manage office equipment energy use better
Office equipment and electronics use energy even when idle or on stand-by. To save energy and reduce greenhouse gas emissions at work, always activate the power management features on your computer and monitor, unplug laptop power cords when not in use and turn off equipment and lights at the end of the day. Consider using a power strip that can be turned off when you're done using your computers, printers, wireless routers and other electronics.
2) Look for ENERGY STAR qualified products for the Office
When buying new products for your office at work or at home, get the features and performance you want and help reduce greenhouse gases and emissions of air pollutants. Look for ENERGY STAR qualified office equipment, such as computers, copiers, and printers, in addition to more than 50 product categories, including lighting, heating and cooling equipment and commercial appliances.
3) Ask your office building manager if your office building has earned the ENERGY STAR.
ENERGY STAR-labeled buildings provide safe, healthy, and productive environments that use about 35 percent less energy than average buildings. Their efficient use of energy also reduces the total operational cost of the building.
4) Use less energy for your commute
Switch to public transportation, carpooling, biking, telecommuting and other innovative ways to save energy and reduce greenhouse gas emissions on your way to and from work. Encourage your employer to offer commuter benefits that address limited or expensive parking, reduce traffic congestion, improve employee recruiting and retention and minimize the environmental impacts associated with drive-alone commuting. If you do drive, find out the fuel efficiency of your vehicle using EPA's and DOE's fuel economy Web site.
The last point was something taught during Primary School Science :) I'm sure everyone of us are familiar with it. The 3 Rs....
5) Reduce, Reuse, Recycle
Recycle office paper, newspapers, beverage containers, electronic equipment and batteries. Reducing, reusing, and recycling in your office helps conserve energy, and reduces pollution and greenhouse gas emissions from resource extraction, manufacturing, and disposal. You can reduce, reuse and recycle at the office by using two-sided printing and copying; buying supplies made with recycled content; and recycling used printer cartridges. For your old electronics, investigate leasing programs to ensure reuse and recycling or donate used equipment to schools or other organizations.
I know its easier said than done....
I'm sure we all don't want to see this happening.... AHhhhhhhh...scary!
Monday, 8 October 2007
SINGAPORE: Transport grievances were one of the main issues dominating a dialogue session held after Transport Minister Raymond Lim's community visit to the Thomson Division.
"We don't mind, as vehicle owners, to pay increased ERP (fees). But we are frustrated when we pay the ERP (fees), we don't see any ease of traffic flow on the CTE," complained a resident.
The answer? It may be frustrating, however there is no one magic solution but a range of measures adjusted over time as the situation changes.
Mr Lim explained: "As a first step, we will do what we call traffic engineering solutions. So if you look at the Central Expressway, we have widened it through the years and only recently we did it again.
"What's the problem here? Let's say we widen the road. When we first widened the road, the traffic might improve. When it improves, what happens? People who previously didn't drive on that road, the Central Expressway, will now drive on it.
"So, some say, 'build more roads'. Yes, build more roads, that will help. Some say, 'better public transport'. Yes, better public transport will also help. But at the end of the day, you also still need this traffic management, which involves not just the ERP, but as you know in our system, we also have COE."
But it wasn't just about the ERP. A whole range of transport issues came up during the dialogue session.
There were suggestions ranging from having premium bus services to 24-hour senior citizen concession passes.
There was also a suggestion to have the Public Transport Council (PTC) review public transport fares only every four years, just before the elections.
But, Mr Lim said: "If we freeze the whole thing for four years - no fare increase - the pressure will say, 'why not extend another four years?' The experience of other countries is that the minute you allow the fare increase to be politicised, that over time, the service of your bus standards goes down. If they can't get these returns to renew the bus fleet, the bus fleet will start to shrink and as the bus fleet starts to shrink because they don't replace it, there will be more and more overcrowding. So the situation gets worse and people will complain."
Friday, 5 October 2007
This is the article on 2nd oct:
Rid Orchard Road of beggars and hawkers
One cannot help but notice an increasing number of people begging for money and selling tissue paper along Orchard Road.
Also on the rise are illegal hawkers at places such as outside Orchard and Somerset MRT stations, selling anything from mobile-phone covers to roasted chestnuts.
I urge the authorities to take action against this group of people, as they are giving a bad image to spanking clean Orchard Road.
This is especially so as Orchard Road is a major tourist attraction and we wouldn't want tourists and foreigners alike to bring home an image of Orchard Road riddled with sidewalk beggars and illegal hawkers.
Nuryusman Mohamed Ibrahim
Well Mr Nuryusman M.I, you may have to jolly well do that too when your time comes! When you have not enough money for retirement and cannot take your CPF money out. Empathise!
And I hope that the government will not take action on this issue because that will mean; snatching away the livelihood of these people.
Wednesday, 3 October 2007
The Workers’ Party wholly condemns the use of violence by the Myanmar military regime against unarmed civilians. Such acts amount to nothing but crimes of murder and mayhem.
Whatever the ‘peace’ that will be achieved by the present crackdown, the yearnings of the people to be free from more than four decades of military rule will not go away.
The Workers’ Party urges the international community including the Singapore government to use all influence and means at its disposal to stop the continued repression of the Myanmar people and to free all political detainees.
The Workers’ Party further urges the pursuit of peaceful and due political process to determine the collective will of the Myanmar people in their choice of government and the determination of their future.
Monday, 1 October 2007
Women above the age of 40 are strongly encourage to undergo Mammogram. What exactly are Mammograms?
Mammography is the x-ray of the breasts. It is an effective way to detect any small lumps which are not palpable (felt by hands). Early detection of breast cancer in its early stages can save breasts and lives.
Frequency of Mammogram:
Women aged between 40 to 49 years old = once every year
Women aged above 50 years old = once every two years
Find out more about the Breast cancer foundation and what they do here: http://bcf.org.sg/index.asp?id=home