Friday, 30 January 2009

'The Budget'; from an Ordinary Singaporean

As an ordinary Singaporean, my views and thoughts on the Budget:

1) Rebates have to be passed on,

For both Taxi operators as well as landlords. They will be receiving rebates from the government this year, the speech mentioned that these rebates will in turn be passed on to the taxi drivers as well as tenants.

Question is will they do so or to what extent? Its good to know that Comfort is doing so...

I personally felt that it would be better for the government to pass the rebates straight to them whereby they can then pass it on to the consumers, that is people like us who had got retrench, pay cut, no bonuses or force to take unpaid leave.

And I have no idea how rental rebates can be done if let's say I had signed an agreement in 2008 or 2007 for 3 years. That is to say I will have to pay that amount stated in the contract for 3 years. Hence even if the rebates had been passed on to the landlords, as tenants I don’t get to benefit from it.

2) HDB,

The increase in grant and income ceiling offers little or no help to home-seekers.

By increasing income ceiling, we could be encouraging people to purchase flats that they cannot afford. It would be better to review the cost of HDB flats.

3) GST credits,

It would be better to either reduce our current GST back to 5% for everything or for necessities.

This is particularly true for the squeezed middle income with an average of 4 people per household.

With probably 2 parents working and bigger flats, they are entitled to lesser GST credits. But that doesn’t means that their expenses are any lower.

Let's look at Eg: Point F.15

Such family will receive about $2200 in 2009 that is about $180/ month.

If a pay cut had taken place say about 5% of the higher income of the two that is 5% of $4500 = $225, $180 may not be sufficient and worse still if the 5% pay cut applies to the spouse too.

4) More can be done for PA,

The definition for most vulnerable has to be flexible that is case by case, in order for the assistance to be beneficial.

Make application for PA accessible especially if these are for people who are unable to work due to old age or illness. Currently there are only 5 places one can go to.

I think the increase is reasonable…given the fact that inflation stands at about 6%, $30 of $330 is about 9%.

5) Healthcare,

More details for F.22 please? Like how to make it affordable? Through the use of case-mix?

6) Jobs Credit,

I welcome the move as it decreases expenses for companies.

As per the budget, employer will receive 12% of the first $2500 of the wages of each employee who is on CPF payroll.

My question is what about those earning below $2500? Low income earners? Do we need to take a look at how we can make both WBS and WIS better so as to help the lower income during times as such?

If this applies to only $2500 and above , companies may have the tendency to employ foreigners whom they can pay lower and do without CPF. This group of people may eventually be phased out.

Eventually Jobs Credit may not necessarily save jobs, Chartered Semiconductor is cutting 600 jobs worldwide, unfortunately 540 of them will be in Singapore.

And lastly,

7) TV License,

Something is really wrong with our TV license. I cannot understand why we are paying $110? Could this be reduced?

Sunday, 25 January 2009

Prosperous New Year !

'Wishing everyone sparkling happiness, good fortune and great health, in the new year.... Let's charge with the OX!!!!'

Saturday, 24 January 2009

Mas Selamat VS WKS

Got the article below from:

More likely Mas Selamat has fled

ALMOST a year after he escaped from custody, where is terror fugitive Mas Selamat Kastari?

Home Affairs Minister Wong Kan Seng narrowed it to either of two scenarios: one, he is in Singapore and hidden by sympathisers unknown to the authorities, or, two, he has fled the country.

Asked which was the more likely, Mr Wong told The Straits Times: 'It's very hard to say. Both scenarios are plausible. Maybe the second one is more plausible.'
Superb answer from our Minister.

If its me I would have answered... '2 scenarios; one he is alive or two he is dead...' Which sounds errr stupid? No wonder I'm not paid a million :)

Thursday, 22 January 2009

What we can learn from the Japanese

After my trip from Tokyo, I have only praises for their social upbringing in the following areas which I thought we are still not 'first-world' as compared to them....

1) Clean toilets,

The public toilets are remarkably clean, at least 85% of them. As compared to Singapore, we are a far cry from them. When I say clean, it means; the floor is dry, no stench, there is always toilet paper in every cubicle and all flush are automatic. In some places, you don't even have to lift a finger except to open the door to the cubicle, to finish your business. The cover to the toilet bowl will be lifted once you enter the cubicle. Next, the paper seat cover will automatically change too. After you are done, you only need to flash your palm over the sensor to get the toilet flush.

2) Clean streets,

Its so difficult to find dustbins along the streets and yet the streets are sparkling clean! I seriously have no idea where they throw their rubbish. I was so tempted to leave a plastic bottle on the benches but could not find the heart to dirty the place. The most amazing thing is, with literally no dustbins and clean streets, one can hardly find sweepers too! Even wet markets have clean floor too...

Of course they have got dustbins but its either in the toilets or train station. All rubbish bins in train stations are recycling bins :) good work!

The picture below was taken on New Year's Eve, biggest festive celebrations in Tokyo. This is the road leading to a temple. Look at how clean the place is... in Singapore, the streets leading to our temples during big festive season is normally filled with litter.

3) Queues,

The Japanese queue for almost everything. When I was in 'Disney Land', there were just so many things to take pictures with, but I will need to queue for it. And there is this one thing that we ought to learn from them that is to queue to get into the train.

4) Smokers,

Yes, Japanese smokers are very considerate. They are not allowed to smoke almost every where. There are designated areas along the streets for smokers. Hence, once in a while one can see at least 4 people smoking in a corner along the streets. You cannot find anyone that walk and smoke at the same time. If you see one, that's a foreigner :)

5) Trains,

Awesome manners! There are markings on the platform indicating the cabin no and the type of seats. Type of seats such as 'Priority seats for elderly, disabled individuals, pregnant women and young children' or cabins with warm heater or cooler. Commuters will then pick the cabin that they would like to be in and queue for their turn.

Once inside the train, usage of handphones is discouraged because you are disturbing others. In fact in the cabin for 'Priority seats', its forbidden. If a phone is to ring, the owner will feel so sorry about it. Food and drinks are allowed in the train.

Certain train lines in Japan even have got cabin just for women :) That is from the first train to 9.30am during weekdays, cabins with pink notices are meant for only women commuters. This is to protect the modesty of the weaker sex.

Wednesday, 21 January 2009

44th President of the United States of America

With humble beginnings, he rose to become the President of the United States of America. Obama gave the most ordinary person the courage to dream and believe.

Watch the inauguration of the World's Biggest Job :) here:

Tuesday, 20 January 2009

Obama's inauguration

20th Jan 2009 is the inauguration of the 44th President of the United States of America, Mr Barack Obama.

The whole world waits in anticipation as the first African American President of the United States takes office. Right here in Singapore, catch it live on Channel News Asia at 11pm.

Related links:

Washington Awakens with Inauguration Buzz

Obama inauguration Theme: "A new birth of freedom"

Obama inauguration tickets fetching 5 figures online

An unforgettable inauguration

World press on Obama's inauguration day

Saturday, 17 January 2009

Insure our country and our future!

This article was first published in 'Hammer' issue 09/ 01.

In the article “PM Lee says two-party political model cannot work in Singapore” , published on the Channel NewsAsia website, PM Lee Hsien Loong 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."

It is true, the country will be in good and safe hands as long as PAP provides a clean and good government. But having another political party in parliament would provide the much needed checks and balances for the PAP government. This alternative party will keep the government on their toes to make sure that the PAP remains clean and efficient. It is an insurance against failure. Without an opposition party, complacency will set in and it could be too late to turn back the clock.

Having an alternative political party is akin to investing your money for the future – for your retirement, for your kids, and your grand kids. When we plan to grow our money, for instance, we diversify our risks; we invest our money in various areas, such as fixed deposits, equities, and government bonds. This is done because we understand the meaning of, ‘Don’t put all your eggs into one basket’. Likewise when it comes to governing a country, we should not rely on only one political party.

Allow me to illustrate why, by using the same analogy of investing for the future

1) You can’t plan your future in the future; you got to plan it now.

No one plans their future in the future because it’s impossible! Being the government of Singapore, it is the PAP’s duty to ensure that the future of Singapore is taken care of. Should the PAP fail, does PM Lee expect any political party to just spring up and take over the governance of Singapore? There will be NO time for any good alternative party to take over because one such party will need years to build up its credibility.

PM Lee had 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."

The truth is, if any party were to spring up from nowhere and start governing, Singapore will be in even great danger. In other words, you have to get it when you don't want it, so that you have it when you need it.

2) You can say “I don't need it”, but can you say “your family won't need it”?

PM Lee can say he doesn’t need a 2-political party system, but can he say the same thing for Singaporeans? During the General Elections in 2006, at least 33.4% of Singaporeans who were eligible and had the chance to vote, expressed in their votes that they NEED an alternative party.

3) No person ever dies at the “right time”

Should the PAP fail, it may happen at the worst time, for example, during a severe recession. Like death, it is almost uncertain to predict when it will happen. Therefore, we need an alternative party that is able to take over anytime. So it is not wise to say, “I want an alternative party in the government, but now is not the right time.” The truth is, there is no such thing as a “right time”, because we will never know when is that right time until it is too late.

4) Don’t leave it to chance

Are we, Singaporeans, going to leave it to chance? The chance of the PAP failing and to have any political party to spring up to take over our country? Shouldn’t we be having the alternative party NOW so that we can choose and decide which is the best one?

5) Doing nothing may be the worst thing to do

Sometimes the biggest price that you pay in the world is doing nothing. And that could be the worst thing that you do. If we want change or expect change for the better, then we have to do something. If there is any alternative party that aspires to bring about positive changes, that party will have to start doing the work now. That party has to start playing an alternative role in parliament now.


In conclusion, the government encourages all Singaporeans to plan for the future, to ensure that one has enough funds to tide us through our retirement until the day we die. In Singapore, the CPF scheme is itself a form of investment in our future; it ensures that we have enough funds on which to live after we retire. The new compulsory CPF Life scheme which will kick in by 2013, is another example.

Our government plans ahead. But when it comes to the need for an alternative party, the government does NOT plan ahead. Regardless of how formidable the PAP might be, it will still need another political party because even the Titanic which was supposed to be unsinkable, has life boats and life buoys on board.

Incidentally, the Titanic sank in 1912, killing more than 1,500 people.

Monday, 12 January 2009

First post for 2009

Had a great holiday and is back in Singapore feeling charged-up, hopefully :)

My first post for 2009 is the attack on MP Seng Han Thong.

Mr. Seng was poured some flammable liquid and seconds late set on fire. The result; 10-15% of his body burnt. This incident took place on Sunday during one of the community event in Yio Chu Kang.

The culprit is a 70 year old man who had lost both his head and temper because he was not being selected to receive the ang pao.

Regardless of how angry or how right he thought he was, the assailant should never had resort to violence. There are alternatives to express one's anger like voting your MP out? Unfortunately in our democratic country, most of us don't get to vote. Write in to the media? This old man could be illiterate and on top of that, the letter may not be publish. Protest at 'Speakers' Corner', I doubt that helps. Hmmm...looks like the old and illiterate Singaporeans do not have a channel to air their grievances if their MPs are not helping.

According to subsequent reports, the assailant is mentally unsound. If it is so, why attack only Seng Han Thong? Why take the trouble to pour kerosene and then light it up? He can just grab a knife from some hawker and go berserk.

On the other hand, this 70 year old man could have tried other means to express his sufferings but his pleas were not answered hence assaulting the MP was his last resort out of desperation.

This incident could be a wake-up call to our leaders that there are people out there that are driven to desperation and can resort to anything.

Oh before I forget, its the 2nd time MP Seng Han Thong was attacked. Wishing him a speedy recovery.
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