Saturday, 5 May 2012

Watz Buzzing - 5 May 2012

PM Lee rebuffed offer by netizen to share photos of elderly collecting rubbish and cardboards with him?

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong has rebuffed a sincere offer by a netizen to share his personal collection of photos of elderly Singaporeans collecting rubbish and cardboards with him.

In his latest post on Facebook, PM Lee shared a photo taken by a photographer Sam Kang Li of his neighbors in his HDB estate and urged Singaporeans to follow his example to promote community bonding:

“I hope other Singaporeans come up with similarly creative ideas, to build friendship and community among ourselves.”
One netizen replied immediately offering to share some photos he had taken with PM Lee:

“I have taken many photos of elderly still working as rubbish collectors, cardboard collectors, toilet cleaners, waiters, beggars, living off the street. Sir, I am wondering if you would be interested to take a look at the photos too?”

There was no response from PM Lee and the comment was deleted minutes later:

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IPS study proposes increasing percentage of foreigners to 33 percent of population

One week after the National Population and Talent Division under the Prime Minister’s Office released a White Paper recommending Singapore takes in 20,000 to 25,000 immigrants yearly, another government agency has published a report supporting the government’s move to increase the intake of foreigners.

The Institute of Policy Studies (IPS) under the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy proposes Singapore takes in 30,000 new citizens yearly with foreigners eventually making up 33 percent of the population.

The report states that a higher non-resident population will mean a larger total population, from the current 5 million now to 6.8 million in 2030, if the proportion of foreigners in the population is raised to 33 per cent.

Despite rising discontentment and disgruntlement among native Singaporeans at the relentless influx of foreigners, it appears that they will have to take the ‘bitter pill’ and continue to accept more newcomers to keep the economy growing.

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Why is it really so hard for Singaporeans to be nice to foreign workers?

Singaporeans are not stupid. Most already know globalization is here to stay along with foreign workers – after all, there is no Da Vinci code to it, this trend is really just another accreation of the whole idea of an increasingly borderless world, where goods, services and people are becoming more mobile. No one is suggesting for one moment, we should all turn our backs on globalization and return back to the happy days of the cottage industry.

But why is it so difficult for Singaporeans to welcome foreigners with open arms to our shores? Why is can’t we all seem to get along? Why is there so much friction? Are we perhaps parochial and insular in our outlook? Or are we just plain red neck xenophobic?

Well if you really want to know the root cause why most Singaporeans find foreign workers a bane rather than boon.

There are plenty of accounts floating in the internet. Some have highlighted one reason for the deteroirating relationship between native and foreign workers is the break neck pace at which the government is trying to ramp up the population by bringing more foreigners into this tiny rock – this can really only sharpen the sense of anxiety for most Singaporeans as the unmitigated pace of immigration has caused a host of intractable problems in our midst – from straining the infrastructure such as transport and housing, spiking the price of cars and houses along with narrowing the field of opportunities for most Singaporeans.

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Of Train and Bus: The Exploited Singapore Worker

"In Taiwan, bus drivers are paid around NT$60,000 (S$2,570) a month - more than twice what some fresh university graduates get." [Straits Times]

My interest in this topic came back when someone new contacted me by email. I'll leave his name out as I'm not sure if he is comfortable with me revealing it. His wife is currently working as a bus driver in Perth, fetching A$31 per hour for her effort. That is what I was told. By all means be skeptical but don't shoot the messenger.

With a simple check online I found some data and let me share it with you:

Note that these figures are in USD. Converting them to SGD, we would see S$54,000 and S$73,000 as the annual salary of the bus driver and train driver respectively. I will like to highlight 2 points from this. It is a bit lengthy but bear with me please.

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OPINION: Smaller Sizes, Bigger Lies

Singapore Notes, 4 May 2012
Retiree Chan, 76, remembered fondly that his previous home, a four-room HDB flat in the 1980s, boasted a size of 105 sq m, or 1,130 sq ft. Today, four-room flats built by HDB have shrunk to about 90 sq m, or 969 sq ft.
In Nov 2011, speaking at the HDB Professional Forum held at DB Hub Auditorium, HDB chief executive Cheong Koon Hean confirmed same, that it reduced flat sizes in the mid-1990s. What riled just about everybody was her perverse justification that household sizes in HDB flats had decreased from 4.6 people in the 1980s to 3.4, ergo the shrinking floor area.

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Who’s telling the truth about HDB flat sizes?

So, who is really telling the truth about HDB flat sizes?
On 26 November 2011, the Straits Times published an article, “Shrinking HDB flats due to need to maximise land and to adapt“. The article stated that according to HDB, the average HDB flat has shrunk over the years, due to the need to maximise Singapore’s limited land. HDB also said that architects have compensated by increasing the use of internal space through better flat layouts.

These remarks were made after a heated discussion that ensued when HDB chief executive Ms Cheong Koon Hean declared that smaller flats do not mean a lower quality of living.

An average four-room HDB flat built today has reportedly shrunk to around 90 sq metres, or 969 sq ft, compared to the average size 4-room flats built in the 1980s which were of 105 sq metres, or 1,130 sq ft.

However, National Development Minister Khaw Boon Wan was reported by the media just a few days ago as having asserted that HDB flat sizes have not shrunk in recent years!

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An Ominous Internet Omen

Since the advent of the internet, it can be said that it has been a bane to the PAP Government. The mainstream media (MSM) has been monopolised by the PAP as its propaganda organ and the social media becomes a valuable alternative source of information to the public to counter the inimical effect of one-sided MSM news dissemination.It is quite natural for the PAP wallahs to view this phenomenon as alarming and to rack their brains to try to find an acceptable excuse to regulate the intractable netizens. They have not forgotten their ignoble defeat in Aljunied GRC in the last general election in which the netizens played no small part.

It falls on Dr Yaacob Ibrahim, the Minister for Information, Communications and the Arts, the unenviable task of finding a solution to this hot potato. This is tricky problem involving the freedom of speech and the minister dealing with it must be one with exceptional ingenuity. So far Dr Yaacob has been sounding out through the MSM his idea of a code of conduct to be administered by the internet community itself. The public reaction was not very encouraging as the internet community is very much against any form of governmental control, much less a code of conduct for the internet.

Not to be discouraged by this minor setback, obviously at the direction of the minister, the Institute of Policy Studies (IPS) held a closed door conference on Thursday on the proposed code of conduct for the internet.The event was attended by officers from various ministries, MDA, academics, bloggers and observers from the media. As expected the bloggers were quite adamant in their stand and told the Government that they should grow a thick skin and leave the internet alone.Dr Yaacob was advised to give the suggestion for a code of conduct a rest.

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Insurance should cover everyone: Ambassador Tommy Koh

Insurance should cover every person who seeks coverage, whether or not they suffer from pre-existing medical conditions, chronic diseases or congenital health conditions, said Singapore’s ambassador-at-large Tommy Koh.

Speaking on Thursday at an Institute of Policy Studies (IPS) roundtable on Singapore’s population trends, Koh, who is also special adviser to the IPS, said the government should step in to ensure that insurance coverage is fair and accessible for all.

He identified insurance as one area where Singapore “didn’t get it right”, touching also on the nation-state’s failure to achieve inclusive growth — more specifically in terms of plugging the income gap.

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