Monday, 23 July 2012

Watz Buzzing - 23 Jul 2012

Loving Singapore but what is happening to my country?

It is less than a month to our nation’s 47th birthday. Preparations are already underway for another stunning display of patriotism, even if it is only for a few superficial hours. On our television screens we’re inundated with the “national song”. The one this year is titled, “Love at first light”, perhaps an attempt at a dreamy tug at the heartstrings. (Thank goodness at least it is not the other one called, “A nation’s march”.)

And the theme for this year’s National Day Parade is, “Loving Singapore, Our Home.”

I think it is really great that a small nation-state like ours has so much to be thankful for, and to celebrate. At some level, the Government is right in saying – or trumpeting – what we have achieved. We all know the story, which has been drilled into our collective consciousness over the years by the Government-controlled media – a small nation of diverse ethnicities and without any natural resources making it to the "first world" league of nations.

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Elderly couple walks 1 km home after visiting polyclinic

An elderly couple, let's call them the Lims, had to walk all the way home because they were left without money after they paid the doctor's fees at the polyclinic in Toa Payoh.

Mdm Lim was bent over from the waist and could hardly walk. But she had to prop up her octogenarian husband who was even more frail and lead him because he is blind.

As the elderly couple shuffled their way home, they stumbled and nearly fell on a few occasions. They were both panting and had to sit down every 100 feet or so to rest.

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OPINION: Blatant disrespect to Singapore's National Day by occupants of this HDB flat

A flag of China hanging over the parapet of a flat in Hougang Avenue 3 caught the attention of STOMPer Patrick. Link

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Chan Chun Sing: Our job as leaders is not to provide the answers

And the mainstream media is already speculating that he may become Singapore's next Prime Minister. (Is Chan Chun Sing Singapore's next PM? - Asiaone)

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50-year home mortgage loan has just been launched

United Overseas Bank (UOB) has introduced a home loan that now allows the home owner to stretch his home mortgage to 50 years – that’s half a century.

UOB said they introduced this longer loan package as more customers have been asking for it.

The loan is currently applicable to private residential and HDB only. Also, there is a cut-off age but UOB declined to say what it is.

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PM's warning on cracks in our society

The link to the article:

And here are some of the comments that have garnered more "likes"

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OPINION: "PM Lee, why are you asking us now to solve your problem?" - Celia Lim

The Temasek Times, 22 Jul 2012

Mr. Prime Minister,

Racial harmony and national loyalty are two very different issues! It showed how inadequate your understanding of the people your government had brought into Singapore! Many New Citizens from PRC got upset when your news media reported negative news about China, its system and people.

When a PRC driver crashed his Ferrari into a taxi, killing a Singaporean driver and a Japanese tourist, a New Citizen from China told me, “At least the China driver did something good just before his death – he killed the taxi driver and his passenger, instead of crippled them. They should thank him!” Full story

PM Lee warns of new cracks between new citizens, Singaporeans - Yahoo! News Singapore

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PAP perpetuating imaginary racial tension and fear among our young

One of the oldest fear mongering the PAP wields against its citizens is the "racial disharmony" in our history, with special attention paid to the belief that it was the Malays who were the biggest instigators.

Below is an article from Channel News Asia, repeating the same old fear of religious and racial (dis)harmony.

Racial, religious issues can be sensitive: Education Minister

Mr Heng Swee Keat, Minister for Education

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OPINION: Who is ultimately responsible for protecting the rights and interests of Singaporean workers? - Seah Chiang Nee

Malaysia Star, 21 Jul 2012

The workforce has now exceeded three million, with a third being foreign workers, and this has caused a host of new conflicts that are not within easy solution.
Who is ultimately responsible for protecting the rights and interests of Singapore’s 2.5 million workers – the Manpower Ministry or the city’s only trade union body?

A cynical reply could be: No difference, since they are like different arms of the same government.

The National Trades Union Congress (NTUC), a network of 61 trade unions and one taxi association, with 700,000 members is affiliated to the ruling People’s Action Party. It is led by a cabinet minister attached to the Prime Minister’s office. Full story

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MediShield should take on more risks on behalf of Singaporeans

The Straits Times asked me for my views on the latest changes to MediShield. This is what I told them:

I welcome the prospect of MediShield coverage being extended to babies with congenital problems or prematurity-related complications. I had called for during the Committee of Supply debate in Parliament in March. I am also glad to note the planned increase in policy year and lifetime limits.

However I am concerned about the impact of the $500 increase in deductibles for all patients in Class C and B2 wards. This will amount to a 50% hike for Class C patients, which will adversely impact many lower income patients, who will have to fork out more in cash or Medisave payments. The increase in premiums will affect the elderly more than the young, as the elderly will see a bigger premium hike at a time when they are approaching, or have reached, retirement age.

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The thugs have another weapon

The thugs used to threaten people with lawsuits. They will engage the best lawyers to sue anyone who crossed their paths. This reminded me of a lawyer who spoke at a dinner telling the guests he was a gangster and threatened that anyone who crossed his path would be finished. I thought it was a dinner of a registered society but I kept feeling that I was in a triad meeting or a dinner for gangsters. Anyway, it just showed how powerful the legal fraternity can be in the wrong hands or in the hands of gangsters.

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Taiwan Vice Foreign Minister Vanessa Shih clarifies flag incident in Singapore
The China Post, 21 Jul 2012

TAIPEI--Taiwan's national flag was not displayed outdoors to celebrate the Republic of China (ROC) centennial in Singapore last year, Vice Foreign Minister Vanessa Shih said yesterday in defense of accusations that she offended the Singaporean government by doing so.

Citing an anonymous diplomatic source, the front page story in the Chinese language China Times Friday said that, at Singapore's request, Taiwan has long agreed not to hold official events at outdoor venues.

The source said Shih broke these rules and angered Singaporean officials by displaying Taiwan's national flag and singing the national anthem outdoors. Full story

Vice foreign minister not close to ex-Singapore PM's son: ministry - Focus Taiwan News Channel
Vanessa Shih denies rumors of a relationship - Taipei Times
Shih denies Singapore relationship rumor - The China Post

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Human Rights Watch – Singapore: Yale to Curtail Rights on New Campus

University Defends Agreement to Ban Protests and Political Party Groups

Yale University’s acceptance of Singaporean government restrictions on basic rights at the new Yale-National University of Singapore (NUS) joint campus shows a disturbing disregard for free speech, association, and assembly.

Yale-NUS President Pericles Lewis told the media in July that students at the new campus, expected to open in August 2013, can express their views but they will not be allowed to organize political protests on campus or form political party student groups.
The Singapore government has long severely restricted the rights to freedom of expression, association, and peaceful assembly, and has imposed harsh punishments on violators, Human Rights Watch said.