Wednesday, 23 May 2012

Watz Buzzing - 23 May 2012

PAP-ST slime campaign - small gains today for big loss tomorrow?

"Workers' Party faces allegations of dishonesty" screams today's headlines, prominently displayed on the Straits Times' front page. Welcome back to the dark days of what the PAP-ST team knows best - ie Slime Campaign. Doesn't it truly show that PAP really has nothing to offer such that it has to resort, or rather, revert to this style?

The PAP-ST collusion slime campaign was at its height during the JBJ era. That was deemed necessary because every PAP minister (old man included) was terrified with the very popular former WP chief.

The Straits Times then of course had a field day. Without the existence of the New Media to counter the slime during that period, JBJ was made to look inept, less than honest, and sometimes even stupid by the Mainstream Media. Today's headlines brings back the deja vu feeling of the JBJ era.

If at all, Png and WP should take this as a compliment. PAP and ST now see WP as threatening as what it once was during the JBJ period.

Workers' Party faces allegations of dishonesty

Pic taken from ST. Even the photo picked shows ST's intent to slime. Note how Png sits in between his two superiors with a sullen face, as if to make it look he lost control while the leaders try to control the damage.

The Workers' Party (WP) found itself in a spot on Tuesday as it sought to deflect questions of honesty over Mr Png Eng Huat's candidacy for a Non-Constituency MP (NCMP) post.

After a dramatic 24 hours sparked by a leaked memo showing he was in the running for the post contrary to earlier indications, Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean said the episode raised questions on whether the WP was being 'honest and upfront' with Hougang voters.
Party chief Low Thia Khiang refuted the allegations of dishonesty, and called the leak a 'weak attempt' to discredit the party

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Another election, another round of allegations

Remember what happened during GE2011? A resident of Hougang sued the town council for the accounts and the whole episode was played up by the mainstream media to cast doubts on the minds of voters by planting the notion that the WP accounts in Hougang was messy['Messy' accounts: Not an attack on Low, says Lim Hwee Hua].
So what happened to this issue? It was played up during the election as something severe and became a non-issue shortly after that. Today, most people have forgotten what has happened but during that time it might have swung some votes to the PAP.
Today's Straits Times headlines: "WP faces allegations of dishonesty".
This is highly irresponsible and lopsided. Before I go into the details of this particular incident. Let me show you a video from the past.

Singaporeans are now focussed on the Hougang by election given it is the biggest political event this year. Some are offering their views on how Hougang residents should vote. This is absolutely unnecessary. The people there know what democracy is all about. They have demonstrated this to other Singaporeans for the last 20 years.

Even when they were under threat of falling behind in various estate upgrading schemes, they did not yield. When the PAP dangle a hundred million worth from the upgrading pork barrel, they did not sway. What is Desmond Choo offering this by election? More upgrading more from the pork barrel - Hougang residents have reject this form of campaigning for the last 20 years.

Desmond Choo like his counterparts in parliament and in the ministry is still using old tired ideas, failed tactics and repeating the same old mistakes that lost so many elections at Hougang

Desmond Choo's rally speech shown here illustrates precisely what is wrong with PAP policies: He said he had to help many with medical care, financial and legal problems. But this type of piecemeal efforts without changing the underlying policies that cause these problems will not take us anywhere. In fact, the election of people like Desmond Choo will help only to perpetuate failed schemes and policies of the PAP.

Organising a 1 day free TCM session for the sick is not going to solve the problems of our healthcare care system. Helping residents temporarily with their finances by directing them to piecemeal aid and charities is not going to remove the root cause of their problems.

The more Desmond Choo goes along this approach, the more people will need help because the PAP will keep its policies intact without major change. Desmond Choo said he approached charities and individuals rather than appeal to the ministers in his party to make changes that will solve these problems in the long term.

The more Desmond Choos we have in parliament, the more the status quo will remain, more people will need help and the PAP MPs can proclaim they are very helpful, kind and caring people.

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Opinions on Hougang By-Election

As a 20 year old Hougang resident who cannot exercise his right to vote in the upcoming by-election (due to the voting age in Singapore not being in line with many developed countries as the government knows that allowing those between the age of 18-21 to vote is not advantageous to them), I thought the least I can do is to pen my thoughts.

Please help to share this if you know of Hougang voters in your friends list. One criticism of Singaporeans is that we whine so much about the government but ironically, we are the creators of our own unhappiness as we are the one who voted for the government we have. Well, at least 60.4% of us, but Hougang residents have been bucking this trend for the past 20 years.

The government has tried to frame this by-election as a 'local' election rather than a 'national' election. Residents in Opposition wards have been discriminated over the years. The PAP government has politicised supposedly 'neutral' organisations such as the PA and HDB. For those who don't know, losing PAP candidates stay on in Opposition wards as grassroots advisers.

Instead of our elected Opposition MPs, the grassroots advisers are the ones who announce lift upgrading in Opposition wards.

When a Hougang resident contacted HDB to repair a leaking toilet pipe, he was told to get the PAP grassroots adviser to request for a subsidy from HDB.

When Opposition MPs want to organise events in their own constituency, they have to get approval from the PA if the piece of land belongs to the PA.

When residents organise events and wish to invite their MPs, they are told they have to invite the grassroots advisers instead.

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Some Spring Cleaning Required

At a Hougang by-election rally, MP for Aljunied GRC Pritam Singh reminded the audience that the PAP have had its share of bad hats, namely Wee Toon Boon (corruption involving about $800,000 ), Phey Yew Kok (embezzlement of trade union funds), Teh Cheang Wan (bribes totalling $1 million), and Choo Wee Khiang (issuing false invoices). All clear examples of bad judgment in assessing human character.

"The problem is that the human being is unable yet to assess this thing called character," Lee Kuan Yew said to Han Fook Kwang et al in "LKY: The Man And His Ideas". He should know. This is how he once extolled the virtues of Teh Cheang Wan, his National Development Minister:
"If I am thinking of retirement, I am going to be his manager." -Hansard, March 22,1985, praising his allegedly high business acumen;

"Where are you going to get another Teh Cheang Wan? It is a serious problem." - ibid, on the difficulty of recruiting such a highly capable person.

And woe betide his trusted lieutenants when they embarrass him about his astute character calls. This was before "I stand corrected" was an acceptable escape clause. Some examples:
Tan Kia Gan, Minister for Home Affairs -
"I had to destroy him. I could not find enough evidence but it was quite clear, more than suspicion, that he wanted a percentage on aircraft to be bought by Malaysian Singapore Airlines." - Hansard, March 22, 1985
Wee Toon Boon -
"It was with great sorrow that we had to prosecute Mr Wee Toon Boon. I had no choice. He was my friend." - Hansard, February 23, 1977
Devan Nair -
"Devan Nair was an alcoholic. The cabinet discussed these developments at several meetings and decided that because of his alcoholism and his behavior which demeaned his office, either he had to resign before he was discharged from hospital and could resume his activities, or he had to be removed from office by Parliament." - Hansard, June 29, 1988.
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Hougang By-election: PAP Denise Phua at PAP Rally

At her rally speech for the Hougang by-election PAP rally on Sunday, PAP MP Denise Phua mentioned me as the "real check on the PAP", because, according to her, I have no allegiance to any political party and have a mind of my own (Facebook video link).

I am honoured. Does that mean I get to vote on bills and speak in Parliament from now on? I am free on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays for Parliament debates. Tuesdays I can't because it is my gaming night.

When I told the wife that MP Denise Phua said I'm a check on the PAP, my wife told me to check if the kids sleep already or not.
I think the wife believes the only thing I have the authority to check on is whether our children have finished their homework already or not. I think she is probably right.

Speaking of election rallies, I can imagine the Hougang By-election PAP Pre-rally Briefing:
Rule 1: Comrade speakers going onstage tonight, no matter what you say, do not mention the word "Repent".Rule 2: When in doubt, see Rule 1.
I can also imagine the Hougang By-election WP Pre-rally Briefing:
Rule 1: Don't start with Good Evening, Y'aw!

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Hougang: Why PAP’s sliming will widen its losing margin

(Or “Is TKL, GMS or KennethJ running the PAP’s Hougang campaign?”)

PM set the tone of the PAP’s campaign by saying in his prime ministerial statement* announcing the by-election: In January this year, news surfaced of personal indiscretions by Mr Yaw … The WP first kept totally silent, then supported Mr Yaw, and then three weeks later suddenly expelled him from the party. Until now the WP has not given Singa­poreans a full and proper account of what happened, or why it acted in this way. Mr Yaw … has said nothing, either to explain or to apologise for his behaviour, and has reportedly left the country. Both the WP and Mr Yaw have let down all those who voted for him.

He is factually correct but being factually correct will not convince any of the 65% of voters who voted WP in 2011 to vote PAP. It might even cause some of the 35% that voted PAP to vote WP. In the days before new media, with the constructive nation-building local media parroting the theme of WP “letting down” the voters, PM’s sliming would be effective.

But this is the age of Web 2.0 and anti-PAP netizens are reminding other netizens of the following points and netizens who are not PAP friendly (the vast majority) will likely use these as talking points when conversing with their less internet savvy parents and other relations, and friends:

– The PAP too has “black sheep” MPs who “let down” voters. These include ex-ministers Tan Kia Gan, Wee Toon Boon and Teh Cheang Wan. Then there is a Malay MP (whose name escapes me) and Desmond Choo’s uncle (and his “inspiration”)

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Filipinos: The numbers spurt

They now outnumber the 53,000 Eurasians in Singapore and rank as the city's fourth largest foreign group.

The chirpy sound of Tagalog echoes round Singapore with the arrival of 180,000 happy-go-lucky Filipinos.

FILIPINOS are starting to stamp their footprints on Singapore’s fast-changing demography.

Tens of thousands of them – known as among South-East Asia’s most happy-go-lucky people – have flocked here to work, making them the fourth largest migrant nationality.

Although they play second fiddle to Malaysia, China and India in numbers, the Filipinos – totalling 180,000 – are now playing catch-up.

Most came in recent years to work as professionals and domestic maids. This is by no means unique. Singapore is far from being a major recipient.

With 11 million of its people working overseas, the Philippines is the world’s third largest exporter of migrant workers.

Their remittances home are said to amount to 30% of the country’s Gross National Product (GNP).

Foreigners make up 36% of the 5.18 million people here but there is no official breakdown of their nationalities.

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Lower inflation forecast affirms prudent management: Philippine gov't

MANILA, May 20 (Xinhua) -- The Philippine government on Sunday welcomed the lower Philippine inflation forecast by Singapore- based DBS Bank Ltd., calling it an "affirmation of the prudent management" of the country's economy.

Presidential Spokesman Edwin Lacierda said in an interview with state-run radio station Radyo ng Bayan that inflation in the country has remained under control and within the government's target range even when oil prices were climbing, due to good fiscal management.

"During the past few months, oil prices went up but the prices of our basic commodities did not significantly rise because our inflation rate was managed well by our economic managers. So this is certainly good news for us and an affirmation of the prudent management of our economic managers and of the Aquino administration," Lacierda said.

The DBS bank revised down forecast of Philippine inflation to 3. 5 percent from 4 percent this year and 4.3 percent from 4.8 percent next year.

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Extracts from Yeoh Lam Keong's Recent Interview

Mr.Yeoh Lam Keong's interview by ST's Susan Long was published yesterday. You should read this "long" interview for yourself but if you don't have the time. Here are the extracts with some comments from me.

His interview together with a what a growing number of prominient members from the establishment have expressed shows a very clear shift away from the thinking and policy approaches laid out by the PAP. - the PAP is clinging on what will be or already is be the minority view. Mr. Yeoh was the chief economist at GIC.
"Singapore's social policies are not future-ready" - Mr. Yeoh

I think they are not even suitable for the present. Okay lets go on to see what Mr. Yeoh has to say.

We end up killing the environment and stressing each other out. Perhaps as Lord Robert Skidelski, professor emeritus of political economy at Warwick University said, mass consumption capitalism has outlived its usefulness

Mr. Yeoh walks the talk. This ex-chief economist of GIC stays in HDB flat at Marine Terrace and like me, he uses public transport. He also avoids holiday resorts with air-conditioning.

His social awakening happened five years ago, when he was roped in to help analyse Minstry of Community Development, Youth and Sports data on poverty. As he examined the grim figures, he realised serious structural problems were creating a growing underbelly of poverty in Singapore

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It is better to be an animal in Singapore.

Pandas to get five-star treatment in Singapore. They will enjoy $8.5m enclosure and four types of specially grown bamboo.

The endangered pandas are the national treasures of China, and Singapore has every intention of treating them as such when two of them come here.

In the run-up to Kai Kai and Jia Jia's arrival - which, it is hoped, will take place by year-end - a lot of work has been put in to make their 10-year stay here a five-star experience.

Everything - from the types of bamboo that they need to be fed to the exact spots for installing lights - is being fine-tuned months before their much-anticipated arrival.

The $8.5 million panda enclosure in the upcoming River Safari obtained its Temporary Occupation Permit.

It is indeed better to be an animal in Singapore.

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A different perspective to population growth

We need population growth to generate economic growth to enjoy a better quality of life. This is the biggest bullshit to come out from any sensible person. Population growth is not the only factor that leads to growth and a better quality of life.

The sure things about population growth are inflation, congestion, higher demand for goods and services and many undesirable social and economic consequences that cannot justify the little benefits of growth.

Take a continent like Australia as an example. If with 50m, they can enjoy the whole continent, be productive enough to grow all the food and wine to make merry, why do they need to rush the population to 100m?

If without population growth, maintaining at 50m for perpetuity, and they can produce a bit more for each person to better their life, what is the point of producing 100 times more to feed 100m people but did not live better except for a few super rich?

Coming back to home, if with 2m people, the people can have all the space to live in bigger properties, and own cars with more roads to drive around, and they could produce more goods and services to raise the quality of life, why do they want to push the population to 5m or 10m to have lesser space to live, cannot own cars but only to work ever harder to feed a population of 5m or 10m?

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Welcome To Hotel Singapore

As Bloomberg reported: “Renouncing your citizenship well in advance of an IPO is ‘a very smart idea’ from a tax standpoint," quoting University of Michigan international tax law professor Reuven Avi-Yonah.

By moving to Singapore, co-founder of Facebook Eduardo Saverin will avoid paying at least US$67 million (S$85 million) in American taxes when Facebook launches its initial public offering. And how did Saverin make his first millions? Mark Zuckerberg described Saverin like this: “My friend who wants to sponsor [Facebook] is head of the investment society. Apparently insider trading isn’t illegal in Brazil so he’s rich lol.”

We don't know how Ma Chi, the PRC driver of the Ferrari 599 GTO that killed a taxi driver and his passenger, made his millions, only how he started making money at age 18. Instead of dwelling on how they will cope with losing a husband and a father, it was curious to read his surviving kin flaunting his material acquisitions on this earth: “Mr Ma’s wife, known only as Madam He, told Wanbao that her husband had bought a $3 million condominium in the East Coast and a $400,000 BMW.

The Ferrari was a $1.8 million limited edition car that he bought for his 30th birthday last year.” Would anyone really want that kind of an epitaph? Maybe the blame should be on Deng Xiaopeng, who did tell his people, "To be rich is glorious."

Ma was reported to be applying for his Singapore permanent residency. Saverin is a PR and has lived in Singapore since 2009. But his spokesman said that although he plans to live in Singapore "for an indefinite period of time", he is not applying for Singapore citizenship after giving up his United States passport. So what kind of citizens were the planners aiming for when they handed out the application forms?

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Free legal clinic at Hougang is a political gimmick

Who is Subhas Anandan, President of Association of Criminal Lawyers of Singapore (ACLS) trying to kid? Why is he setting up a legal clinic now at Hougang? And he dares to say that it is not linked to the by election. This guy thinks Singaporeans are fools or what?
Free legal clinic not linked to by-election

THE Association of Criminal Lawyers of Singapore (ACLS) was approached by Mr Desmond Choo and a mutual friend a few weeks ago to hold pro bono legal clinics at Hougang Community Centre, to assist residents of Hougang who required legal advice.

It was subsequently decided that the ACLS will hold a free clinic at the community centre today. This decision was made before it was announced that there was going to be a by-election in Hougang on May 26.
The ACLS clinic will be held notwithstanding the by-election announcement as it has no connection whatsoever with the by-election.
For the avoidance of doubt, the ACLS will consider all requests for pro bono legal clinics from any organisation subject to our resources as we are a self-funding body.
If citizens think that our legal clinic in Hougang is political, the facts stated above should put their minds at rest.

The ACLS is not a political organisation and will not participate in any political activities.
Subhas Anandan
Association of Criminal Lawyers of Singapore

The argument that the decision to have the legal clinic was made before the announcement of the by election is hollow. Firstly, being the President of ACLS, he probably had privy info pertaining to the by election, just like so many key holders in influential NGOs. Note that Desmond Choo, the PAP candidate, who was the one who approached ACLS.

Secondly, that claim would have been more credible if the announcement to have that clinic was made BEFORE Yaw was ousted, because Subhas then wouldn't have known if there would be a by election in Hougang at that point of time. He only made that decision to have the clinic AFTER he knew there was to be a by election. Such hollow words.

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Just A Bad Trade

Just a few days ago, JP Morgan Chase & Co reported a trading loss of US$2 billion and the heads are already rolling. The losses came as a surprise to most people as JP Morgan was one of the few banks in America who came through the financial crisis with credit intact.

However they are now suffering heavy losses at a time when most companies listed in the U.S are beating expectations. So what gives?

The answer is simple; they made a bad trade with a trading strategy that was too complex. The bank took on complex derivative positions in a hedging strategy that prove unwise.

When they tried to unwind their positions, they discovered the positions they took were too big and too complex to unwind easily. In a low volume market, unwinding their positions caused further losses to their positions which is why even JP Morgan believe the losses would increase to US$3 billion.

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Help! My son is…
Help! My son is…
You got to thank Barak Obama and his open support for “same-sex” marriages. The topic of homosexuality is “hot news” again.

The United States president had said, in an American television programme: "I've always been adamant that gay and lesbian Americans should be treated fairly and equally.”

He explained his position thus:
"I have to tell you that over the course of several years as I have talked to friends and family and neighbors when I think about members of my own staff who are in incredibly committed monogamous relationships, same-sex relationships, who are raising kids together, when I think about those soldiers or airmen or Marines or sailors who are out there fighting on my behalf and yet feel constrained, even now that Don't Ask Don't Tell is gone, because they are not able to commit themselves in a marriage, at a certain point I’ve just concluded that for me personally it is important for me to go ahead and affirm that I think same sex couples should be able to get married.”

Obama’s comments have sparked a raging debate in the US and elsewhere. Singapore is no exception. One only has to look back at the 2007 parliamentary debate on Section 377a, that part of the Penal Code which makes gay sex a criminal offence.

You had the ‘conservative’ camp lead by the former Nominated Member of Parliament (NMP), Professor Thio Li-Ann, who argued that homosexuality is contrary to ‘traditional’ values and therefore wrong.

On the other side, you had people in the more “liberal” camp, such as Siew Kum Hong, himself also a former NMP, who argued that it was time to end discrimination against homosexuals.

Two-years later, you had the AWARE saga, which saw Professor Thio Su-Mien, Thio Li Ann’s mother, arguing that it was necessary to prevent a “gay” agenda taking over AWARE.

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