Saturday, 29 November 2008

One of us is dead in Mumbai

Singaporean held hostage at Mumbai's Oberoi Hotel killed

Believe it a not, Ms Lo, one of us, is dead in the terror attacks in Mumbai.

A promising, beautiful young lady had left her family and friends just like that.

I can understand the anxiety that her family went through when they knew about her captive and now her death must had been a huge blow to them.

The loss of any life is sad but the loss of a life through terrorist attacks is even more painful.

The nonsensical acts of terrorism is devastating and has to be dealt with!

My condolences to the family of the deceased.

Wednesday, 19 November 2008

Remember this? SM Goh told residents of Hougang to keep Mr. Low on his toes?

I was shell-shocked when I read this article.

This particular sentence really made me see red!

“They (residents) should thank the Town Council for working hard to come up with a diversified portfolio to generate income so that residents do not have to fork out more money.”

Never mind if the Town Council had made a mistake a not or whether the figures reported were right a not, but the fact that these money were made up from the $20, $30, $40, $50 or even $60 collected from per household per month, would an apology be better? If an apology is so difficult and have nothing nice to say, keep quiet. Be it whether it is a household that is poor or well to do, its still hard-earned money!

This has to be the silliest reply. This reply had made people who were not interested in who the government is as long as they have a job and can make ends meet, to sit up and get angry too!

I've got a few telephone calls and sms today from several friends expressing their views on this matter. They were terribly upset by that insensitive reply amidst difficult times. Colleagues at work were appalled by it too.

Remember the speech that SM Goh gave in Hougang during a National Day dinner? In case you had forgotten, here it is again. Mr. Low's reply to that speech can be found here.

Read point 3...ironic isn't? Who should we send to learn from Hougang Town Council, to keep PAP MPs on their toes?

We really should have a 2-political party system in Singapore.

Tuesday, 18 November 2008

The next to axe after DBS


Citigroup to axe less than 300 in S'pore

CITIGROUP may cut less than 300 jobs in Singapore, a sign Asia could see much smaller cuts than other regions as part of the US bank's global restructuring plan, sources told Reuters on Tuesday.

The job cuts, which will be implemented soon, are part of plans revealed by Citigroup on Monday to cut 52,000 staff globally by early next year in a dramatic move to restore the second-biggest US bank to health.

Citigroup employs about 9,000 people in Singapore and the layoffs account for about 3 percent of its staff, said a source who declined to be identified because the plans were not public.

'In Singapore, there will be modest headcount reductions,' a bank spokesman said. 'Our business in Singapore continues to register robust year-on-year growth and remains a regional centre for management and operations for Citi globally.'

Citi recently opened its 20th branch in the city-state, a growing centre for financial services and private banking.

It was unclear how many jobs would be cut in other parts of Asia. Citi employs 55,000 people in Asia including Japan.

Wealth management

A second source familiar with the plan told Reuters around 150 job would be cut at Citi's wealth management unit in Asia excluding Japan.

The source said more than 60 per cent of the cuts would be in Singapore and Hong Kong. Citi's Asian wealth management unit excluding Japan has 1,200 people.

A Citigroup spokesman in Hong Kong declined to comment on the numbers but said it expected a reduction in overall headcount in the region.

'We are repositioning our business to be more efficient and productive in the current difficult market conditions. As a result, some jobs will change and others may no longer be necessary,' the Citigroup spokesman said in a statement.

The job cuts in the wealth management business are a reversal of a trend seen until last year when rival banks were furiously poaching private bankers to expand their business in Asia, where wealth was growing at a double-digit pace.

The dramatic plunge of financial markets has prompted wealthy clients to sell stocks and shun higher-fee products for the comfort and safety of cash, private bankers and industry experts told the Reuters Wealth Management Summit last month.

Citi's wealth management unit in Asia including Japan managed US$288 billion (S$439.9 billion)worth of assets at the end of the third quarter of 2008, down 7 per cent from the same period a year ago.

The unit, which includes the private bank as well as Smith Barney Australia and Citi Nikko Cordial in Japan, earned net income of US$59 million in the third quarter, down 58 percent from a year ago, according to Citi data.

UBS , HSBC and Citi are considered the top three players in Asia's private banking market. -- THOMSON REUTERS

Sunday, 16 November 2008

PM Lee says...

.... two-party political model cannot work in Singapore.

My reasons on why more than 1 political party is required to make it right for Singapore based on what PM Lee had said.

He said, "the country is much better off with one dominant party, as long as the PAP provides clean and good government, and the lives of Singaporeans improve."

As mentioned, the country will be in safe hands as long as the PAP is clean and good which I believe they still are. But who will then determine if its clean and good? Let's cite an example of a child who attends School. In School, Teachers make sure that they are good. At home, parents make sure that they are good. At work, employers make sure that employees are good. There must be someone to guard, look out, order for PAP to continue to be clean and good.

Next, Mr Lee said: "If the party doesn't work, if something goes wrong with the party, you can be sure new parties will come, new contests will come. People will spring up to take on the government in no time at all."

If PAP fails, Mr Lee expects a new party to jump out from nowhere to take over? Hence in the meanwhile, we don't need a system with 2 political party? I'm totally flabbergasted!!!

An alternative party has to be seen as an insurance. Do you know what that means?

An insurance means;

1) You can't plan your future in the future, you got to plan it now! Hence, no political party can just spring out from nowhere when the country needs them...the party has to be around now to win elections so as to plan, act and learn...

2) You can say 'you don't need it', but can you say 'your family won't need it'? The PAP can say they don't need 2 political party system but can they say Singaporeans won't need it?

3) No person ever dies at the right time, do they? It means if PAP doesn't work, it may happen at the worse of time, isn't? Therefore, we need an alternative party that is able to take over anytime. But such party cannot be formed overnight, it has to be around now.

4) Sometimes the biggest price that you pay in the world is doing nothing. A lot of people do nothing wrong. They just did nothing. That's what's wrong! Exactly! We should be learning, planning, acting now. We have to do something now and not do nothing.

5) You got to get it when you don't want it, so that you have it when you need it. The country needs more than one political party even if they don't need it now because when they need it they can't have it! Or will have to do with whichever party that will spring up from nowhere! Any political party that is formed hastily or with no experience may not be able to lead!

Lastly, he said,
"But it is not our job to build up the opposition or split the party into two, because it is hard enough to find one team to look after the country. How can we find two?"

We have lots of good, talented people in Singapore. Remember the report that says '
S'pore losing about 1,000 capable people every year'? Oops! I forgot, they gave up their citizenship :(

Thursday, 13 November 2008

Retrenchment - last resort

I read this article with a heavy heart, I felt sorry for those that will be facing retrenchment.

I fear for not only themselves but their families because almost 50% of them are Singaporeans. Our country's biggest bank in assets is retrenching despite having a decent profit of S$379 million!

Today, the affected personnel were handed layoff letters. Most of them were from the upper management.

I'm saddened by the fact that DBS, the bank that most Singaporeans had an account with, is the first to retrench. This is a bank that had acquired POSB in 1998. The POSB that we all know so well, the bank that grew up with a lot of us. Remember the squirrel in the advertisements that taught us to save for a rainy day? Remember the big key on your first passbook?

The implications that this retrenchment brought about is to me, going to be pretty bad. Being the largest and the first to retrench it gives the others the reason to do so.

"If DBS have to retrench, we as the no. 2, 3, or 4 player, will have to do so..."

Even if it may not be as bad, some companies may take the opportunity to. What's even worse is, this group of people will have great difficulty looking for other jobs because whether you like it a not, many companies are now working on 'contract' basis or foreign workers!

I know of a few off-shore/ foreign banks in Singapore,that had started to retrench approximately 10-20 staffs. I'm not surprise if the trend continues.

Why did DBS not use the MVC mechanism first to cope with the downturn in business?

What about other methods like freezing employment or cutting bonuses?

Why add to the rate of unemployment?

Retrenchment should be the last resort!

Friday, 7 November 2008

'Money No Enough Part 2' comes alive - Are you insured?


From too ill to move, to too big a bill
DESPERATE to save their mother, the five siblings did not want to take her off life support.

They were hoping for a miracle.

But it was not to be.

Madam H Wong, 78, who had an ailing heart and other medical conditions, died in July at Gleneagles Hospital after an almost seven-month stay.

After her death, the grieving family received a rude shock. Her hospitalisation bill and doctors' fees came to $700,000.

Mr Yang Ya Bo (top pic, with an sms from a bank employee concerning his loan), 46, and his siblings were stunned.

The family, who had earlier asked that she be transferred to a cheaper restructured hospital, had expected a bill of up to $400,000.

'But the final bill was almost twice as much,' said Mr Yang in an interview with The New Paper.

They still owe the hospital about $484,000.

A ParkwayHealth spokesman said that the hospital had kept the family informed of Madam Wong's medical condition and the bill amount regularly. (See report on facing page).


Now Mr Yang and his siblings are worried because they cannot afford to pay the bill.

Said Mr Yang: 'Despite our repeatedly telling the hospital that we could not afford the bills and that we wanted to transfer our mother to a restructured hospital, nothing was done.

'Doctors we approached for help told us that she was too fragile to be moved.'

This happened even though the ParkwayHealth spokesman noted that it was her doctors who suggested transferring Madam Wong to a restructured hospital to one of her sons.

During her stay in the hospital from 13 Dec to 4Jul, Mr Yang noted that his mother was well enough to be moved from the intensive care unit (ICU) to the general ward on some occasions.

'Why couldn't she have been moved to a government hospital then?' he said.

His elder brother, Mr C T Yang, 48, added: 'We asked for a transfer as early as January. No doctor ever asked us whether we wanted to transfer my mother to a restructured hospital.'

The younger Mr Yang said he had also called a government hospital to ask about the procedure and was told that there must be a doctor willing to take on his mother's case.

'The government hospital nurse messaged me to say that it would be difficult for a doctor to accept my mother as she is ill,' he said.

He showed the SMS to The New Paper, but declined to reveal the nurse's handphone number and name.

Madam Wong suffered from many health problems, including diabetes and an abnormal heartbeat. She also had a damaged valve in her heart which caused water to accumulate in her lungs.

'All these years, she had been looked after by a cardiologist in that hospital, so it was a matter of habit that we sent her there again this time,' said Mr Yang.

But once she was hospitalised, it seemed that there was nothing they could do to transfer her.

That was not the only matter that made the family upset.

They were also unhappy that the hospital did not keep them posted in stages of their mother's conditions as well as the ballooning hospital bills.

Mr Yang and his elder brother both claimed that the Gleneagles doctors encouraged them to remove the life support from their mother after she slipped into a coma.

'They were all telling us to give up as there was very little hope for her. But we could not,' said Mr Yang.

Mr Yang, who is divorced, had been working in Shanghai as a purchasing officer until early this year when he quit to come home to look after his mother. He is unemployed now.

Part of their financial problem was also due to his ex-wife borrowing money from the family, he claimed.

They had taken out a mortgage of $570,000 from the bank, using their mother's Sembawang house which is worth about $700,000.

'She has returned $200,000 so far,' said Mr Yang, who has a son,13.

If he sells his HDB flat in Hougang, he said he would get back less than $100,000.

'And I still need a place to stay. My siblings, three of whom live in my mother's old house, also need a place to stay,' he said.

This story was first published in The New Paper on Sept 1, 2008.

Wednesday, 5 November 2008

It's official, the new President of the United States - Barack Obama

(Presidential election results map. Red denotes states won by McCain/Palin, Blue denotes those won by Obama/Biden)

After 2 years of hard-fought campaigning, Barack Obama has been chosen to be the next person to lead the country,
the first black man to achieve the position.

Obama's victory speech can be found here:

I'm particularly very touched by the sources of funds; that is from the people of the United States. The $5, $10, etc...that had been donated via the Democrat's campaigning website brought millions of dollars. Jacky, who as at Texas a month ago, made a donation and also bought 3 after the result, he got this email:

From: Barack Obama []
Sent: Wednesday, 5 November, 2008 2:08 PM
To: Chee Koon Koh
Subject: How this happened

Chee Koon --

I'm about to head to Grant Park to talk to everyone gathered there, but I wanted to write to you first.

We just made history.

And I don't want you to forget how we did it.

You made history every single day during this campaign -- every day you knocked on doors, made a donation, or talked to your family, friends, and neighbors about why you believe it's time for change.

I want to thank all of you who gave your time, talent, and passion to this campaign.

We have a lot of work to do to get our country back on track, and I'll be in touch soon about what comes next.

But I want to be very clear about one thing...

All of this happened because of you.

Thank you,


Sunday, 2 November 2008

They are taking up jobs that Singaporeans want & can do too!

In this report: Law minister says Singaporeans should welcome foreign workers

Mr Shanmugam said....

"There are some jobs that Singaporeans won't do, and then there are some jobs that Singaporeans cannot do... We need to be welcoming our guest workers; we need to be welcoming our expatriates, all of that in pursuit of our national interest."

Is it true?

Is it true that foreigners are taking over jobs that Singaporeans won't do or cannot do?

A friend of mine was telling me about his experience in the new indoor swimming complex at Seng Kang. He saw a group of Chinese national swimming in the pool, hence he merely just went up to chat and was surprised that they were actually under-going training,; training to be life guards.

This same friend told me another experience he had. He hardly takes the public transport because he drives. So there was this one day whereby he sent his car for servicing, he then had to take public transport. He consulted the staff in the station control on some issues pertaining to his train ride. The lady inside the room, speaks proper English but that accent won't go wrong. She is not a Singaporean.

Bus drivers...yes, the bus drivers that drives our buses, those that transports us from one place to another. I see foreigners too.

I have yet to encounter one myself, there are foreigners as Taxi Drivers as well according to some of my colleagues.

Lastly, my own personal encounter with a Malay family. Husband who was working in a logistics firm was retrenched because of the drop in business volume. The company decided to use contract workers instead. The problem is these contract workers are foreigners not local, not Singaporeans.

Are these jobs that Singaporeans don't wish to do?

Are these jobs that Singaporeans cannot do? No right skills set to do?

I think its time for our Ministers to come out from their ivory tower and take a look at what is happening outside.........Singaporeans should come first.

Videos made and funded by 3rd party in the States (Issues that matter to women)

Saturday, 1 November 2008

Most compelling reason why Mc Cain & Palin wins, women lose

At least to me, this is the most compelling reason... Voting AGAINST 'Violence Against Women's Act'.

This piece of news is shocking to me.

Sarah Palin charges rape victims for "Rape Kits" - forensics evidence collected in rape cases. Her job is to protect women not traumatized these women more!

Apart from that, she also opposes abortion even in the case of rape and incest. Abortion should be made legal in cases as such! This is obviously a case of a woman here that is not loving women! Ridiculous!

Initially when Mc Cain introduced Palin as his running mate, I was pretty sure that this move was to attract women voters like the way Hillary did. But I was wrong! Sarah Palin does not love women!




Violence Against Women Act (VAWA)

  • Biden authors and sponsors the historic federal Violence Against Women Act. Provides Federal right of action for a woman to enter court against her abuser; provides funding for domestic violence shelters as well as police and judicial programs to reduce violence against women; establishes a national hotline for victims of violence. (1994)

Violence Against Women Act (VAWA)

  • McCain votes NO on Violence Against Women Act

State Legislation

  • State Senator Obama is chief sponsor of landmark state legislation: The Victims Economic Security and safety Act (VESSA). Provides employees who are victims of domestic violence or sexual violence with job security, financial independence necessary to leave abusive situations, and 12 work weeks of unpaid leave in any 12-month period.

VAWA Reauthorization

  • Biden is chief sponsor of the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act which provides additional funds to programs to reduce violence against women and to increase size of hotline. Obama co-sponsors VAWA. (2005)

VAWA Reauthorization

  • McCain fails to co-sponsor VAWA reauthorization although many Republicans and Conservative Senators do so.

Funding for Office of Violence Against Women

  • Biden votes yes

  • Among coalition of 75 bipartisan Senators

  • Obama - not voting [campaigning - vote not needed to pass]

Funding for Office of Violence Against Women

  • McCain Votes No

NCMP's Letter to ST forum and reply from MS Lee Bee Khim

Consider tiered charge in electricity tariff

I REFER to Monday's letter by Mr Paul Chan, 'Electricity prices: 82% higher here than in Hong Kong'.

Mr Chan's query about the price of electricity in Hong Kong and Singapore is partly answered by the fact that Hong Kong produces electricity largely from coal, and hence the impact of volatile fuel prices is not as amplified as it is here.

However, the unanswered part which the Singapore authorities should seriously consider is that Hong Kong has a system of tiered charging for electricity based on consumption.

Thus, for the first 150 units of electricity consumed, the rate is about $18. Progressively as consumption increases, the tariff rate goes up, so those who consume more electricity pay for additional units at a higher rate.

Such a tiered charging system has several benefits:

  • It ensures there is a humane rate for baseline consumption, while those who can afford it can consume more;

  • At the same time, it is green - encouraging everyone to save electricity so as not to cross to the next tier and be charged at a higher rate.

    Indeed, tiered charging is already in place in Singapore for water.

    At the parliamentary sitting on Oct 21, I raised this suggestion which the Ministry of Trade and Industry seemed reluctant to pursue.

    The other issue alluded to by Mr Chan is the lack of transparency surrounding the tariff formula.

    At the same sitting, I asked whether the electricity tariff formula was a state secret and if the full details of the formula would be published. The answer was that the Energy Market Authority would be happy to oblige, subject to considerations of commercial confidentiality.

    Electricity prices have risen more than 50 per cent since January last year and have doubled since January 2004. We await the ministry's response.

    Sylvia Lim (Ms)
    Non-Constituency Member of Parliament

  • -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Electricity prices: Why HK is cheaper

    IN HER letter on Thursday ('Consider tiered charge in electricity tariff'), Non-Constituency MP Sylvia Lim suggested adopting a tiered tariff system to make electricity more affordable, like Hong Kong.

    Ms Lim acknowledged that electricity prices are lower in Hong Kong partly because it produces electricity from coal, whereas Singapore produces most of our electricity from natural gas. In fact, this is the main reason, rather than Hong Kong's tiered tariff system.

    Singapore's approach is to charge everyone the full cost of electricity, and give targeted assistance, through U-Save rebates, to households that need it most. After taking U-Save into account, a three-room HDB household effectively pays an average of $50 a month for its electricity bill, comparable to what is payable in Hong Kong for the same amount of electricity consumed.

    Charging below full cost in a tiered system would reduce the incentive for households to save electricity and lead to wasteful consumption. It is also not an efficient way to help the poor because well-off households would also enjoy the lower tariff rate in the first tier. If we need to do more to help the poor, it is better to increase the U-Save amount, as the Government has done.

    Ms Lim pointed out that Singapore does have a tiered system of tariffs for water. However, water is a strategic resource for Singapore, and the water tariff is set so the first tier recovers the full cost of water production, and the next tier is set higher to encourage water conservation. Applying this principle to electricity tariffs would therefore raise prices for Singaporeans.

    Ms Lim also asked for the details of the electricity tariff formula to be published. The Energy Market Authority has done so on its website.

    Lim Bee Khim (Ms)
    Director/Corporate Communications
    For Permanent Secretary
    Ministry of Trade and Industry

    Thank you for visiting