Thursday, 26 July 2012

Watz Buzzing - 26 Jul 2012

Darinne Ko Wen Hui: the girl who dares to approach her teacher for better grades...and have sex with him. Allegedly.

In what some may consider a sign of conscience, Darinne Ko Wen Hui is said to hire top criminal lawyers. Yes, I'm referring to The New Paper, "Former student in sex-for-grades probe hires top criminal lawyers". The article did say that the lawyers stated, "Our client has not been charged and as it stands, our client will appear in Court to tell her side of the story when the time comes. Our client strenuously denies any corrupt wrongdoing." (The statement also said Ms Ko would appreciate if her privacy can be respected.)

Right. To have her privacy respected? What is she? An eighteen years old?

Even The New Paper rightly showed their disgust by posting online her photo: 

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Will Darinne Ko be protected by the law?

Darinne Ko, the law student who allegedly had sex with NUS Law lecturer Prof Tey Tsun Hang in exchange for better grades, had apparently confided in a friend over her relationship with Prof Tey. The matter subsequently came to the attention of CPIB.

Despite being investigated since April, NUS has not suspended Prof Tey and allowed him to continue roaming the campus.

Details have surfaced that Darinne Ko initiated contact with Prof Tey and seduced him in exchange for superior grades. Tey now faces six counts of corruption while Darinne is not known to face any charges. Although both Darinne and "Steph" had an active and critical role to play in their respective cases, women are often more protected by Singapore law. 

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Social media’s growing clout

Monday was a great day for social media. It was quoted profusely by the main media on all the saucy comments about Ravi’s dance performance in Hong Lim Park. It used to be the other way, when social media quotes main media for news and information.

The growing presence and relevance of social media is again proven by the suspension of an NPark officer and the investigation into the irregularities in purchasing $2,200 folding bikes for its officers. The case was brushed off quickly by officialdom when it first surfaced. It was through the tireless great investigative work of social media that revealed so many discrepancies and doubtful practices that this case can no longer be swept under the carpet. Many netizens are calling for an investigation by CPIB.

The main media was at a lost and one main media journalist was quoted to have sought assistance from a netizen journalist on how to go about conducting investigative journalism. This is about the best recognition social media reporters/journalists could ever hope to get from the professional and well paid and well trained main media journalists. 

Stewards of Public Resources

At the annual Public Service Commission's (PSC) scholarship ceremony Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean said, "Officers know that as stewards of public resources... they must guard against any behaviour that can erode the trust Singaporeans have in the public service." Integrity, service and excellence will remain core values of the Singapore public service, rattled on DPM Teo. Notably missing were transparency and accountability.

The Ministry of National Development (MND) has suspended the National Parks Board (NParks) officer in charge of procuring 26 units S$2,200 Brompton foldable bicycles in a shady deal that should have warranted the attention of the CPIB or CAD. The fact that National Development Minister Khaw Boon Wan earnestly defended the purchase of the pricey designer bikes as "valid" to enhance work productivity implicates him as accessory to "behaviour that can erode the trust Singaporeans have in the public service". Worse, MP Lee Bee Wah pointed out that the MND investigation was focused on the procurement process and not over the cost of the bicycles. That explains the Herman Miller chairs.

The NParks officer fingered for the transaction was not mentioned in the statement issued by by MND last night. Alternate media has narrowed it down to two possibilities, NParks Assistant Director (Bernard Lim) or Procurement Manager (Wesley Su). Since neither are under aged females, gag order should not apply. Strangely, Straits Times (but not TODAY) reported this morning Lim was named. Perhaps no willing scapegoat was prepared to take the fall, emulating the successful stratagem of the plastic surgeon. And guilty parties get to continue as "stewards of public resources". Khaw got himself out of the line of fire by initiating the MND Internal audit after the dirty laundry was aired on the internet, specifically the damning evidence about: 

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Khaw needs to conduct independent audit

The NParks' purchase of the expensive Brompton foldable bicycles has taken another unfortunate turn with the Ministry of National Development (MND) announcing yesterday that it is suspending the officer in charge of procuring the bicycles following an internal audit.

The stated reason for the MND's suspension of the officer is there was the "possibility of bias in the procurement."

The statement also stated that its audit of the procurement of the bicycles was to "ascertain its justification and to see if its procurement process could be improved." It added, however, that the reason to buy the expensive bicycles were valid. 

NParks officer responsible for $57,200 Brompton bikes purchase suspended

In a statement from the Ministry of National Development (MND) today (24 Jul), MND said the NParks’ officer responsible for the $57,200 Brompton bikes purchase has been suspended from duty.

MND said that its internal audit team found significant discrepancies in the purchase that warrant further investigation.

It said the audit established that the reasons for purchasing the foldable bikes to enhance work productivity of NParks field staff were valid. However, the audit had also uncovered some discrepancies which, although inconclusive by themselves, suggested the possibility of bias in the procurement process. Hence, further investigation is warranted 

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Does He Know?

Some guys have all the luck
Some guys have all the pain
Some guys get all the breaks
Some guys do nothing but complain 

Some get all the fooking luck and still complain that Singaporeans do not do enough!

Yes, some have the luck of a privileged childhood
To grow and be groomed to be the leeder of a country
To leed, to make decisions for the good of nation, Singapore
From an ivory tower, too high and far away from the peasants 

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ESM Goh Chok Tong: I am retired

A netizen by the name of Gwee Li Sui then asked Mr Goh on the Facebook page, “Hang on… did Mr Goh basically admit to having spent a working afternoon skiving?? ooorhh!”

Mr Goh then replied that he actually went at 8:30pm in the evening after his meeting with his Traffic Committee at Joo Chiat CC.

He then added, “Anyway, I am retired, so when I skive, it is out of my own time.”

Hence, Mr Goh now considered himself to be “retired” and so even when he “skives”, it is considered to be out of his own time, according to his statement on the Facebook page 

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Read the Road Signs Carefully 

In his letter to the ST Forum, (S'pore chose the right road, 21 July 2012) [link], Mr Bobby Jayaraman says that 'Citizen's quality of life and growth are strongly correlated and that our government should not be blamed for something entirely in our hands'

While it is generally understood that growth is measured by GDP in Singapore, Mr Jayaraman missed out a crucial element in his letter, the definition of quality of life. My rejoinder to Mr Jayaraman is to ask whether Singaporeans had a higher quality of life in the years 2001 to 2005 when economical growth was much slower than the recent years.

Our median household income in 2001 and 2011 was S$4,363 and S$6,307 respectively. It was encouraging to see that our median income has grown 44% in ten years. However while Singapore was making this possible by activity pursuing growth, we have to pay the price of undesirable growth in three areas. 

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Managing your finances in an artificially low interest rate environment 

UPDATE: Just out this afternoon S'pore's June CPI at 5.3%, FY2012 seen at upper half of 3.5-4.5% forecast. Such high inflation rates erode the fixed interest savings of Singaporeans making it harder for savers to retire. A commenter suggests that low interest rates are here to stay. While the prevailing economic conditions support a low interest rate, how long this lasts has to be considered relative to the housing loan tenures of 30-50 years. The global economy may just muddle along but the high stresses we see from the numbers tells us we are in a dynamic situation rather than a stabilized one.

I was writing this article half way when I heard that UOB has introduced the 50 years mortage[Link]. At the current low interest rate of 1.7% for housing loan, an outstanding loan of $1M can be serviced with just $2.4K a month for 50 years. 

"Homeowner Edward Ti, 28, said he would certainly take up a 50-year loan for an investment property. 'I would take a 50-year loan if interest rates are low. I would think that it is more efficient to use the money saved from the monthly mortgages to do something else.'" - Straits Times article.[Link] 

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The Uber Brilliant 50-year Housing Loan

If you have not heard, UOB is offering 50-year housing loan. Such long term housing loan schemes are uber brilliant. Don’t believe me? Let me count the ways.
  1. Have you also heard that there is a slight change to the wedding vows? It used to be “till death us do part”. Now, to be practical, and given the higher incidences of divorce, some are considering “till 50 years or when the housing loan is paid up, us do part”. See the brilliance of the plan? It will save marriages and families from early divorces. The financial implications otherwise may be too heavy to bear. We now have the bankers on the side of longevity of marriages!
  1. The second reason this scheme is brilliant – housing has immediately become affordable! Stands to reason, doesn’t it? Somewhere in the internet, someone did a calculation:
If a borrower takes out a 50-year loan for $1 million at an interest rate of 1.7 per cent, he would have to pay about $2,475 monthly for his mortgage, compared with $3,548 if the loan ran for 30 years. 

I am ashamed to hang the Singapore Flag this National Day

Come August 9 this National Day, what do you celebrate? While the SAF showed off their latest firepower they shopped with a $12.28 billion Budget at the expense of healthcare and welfare, what do you celebrate? While you watch the montage of how the PAP government claiming every credits to your fellow true blue Singaporean’s hard work, what do you celebrate? Or tell me simply, when you hang your flag outside your unaffordable home, what do you celebrate?

We have come to a time where the feeling of resentment against the system has never been so justified, and where such resultant act could be so bitter-sweet. For we love the country and we want to make the best of it, but the balance today has now been so heavily tilted in their favor, that only the growth of extremes could right the pivot. Rising anti-foreigners sentiments, or specifically anti-PAP sentiments, is the right clenched fist on the chest in practise.

Only Singaporeans who have the Singapore Pledge ingrained in them understand why resistance to anti-Singaporean policies must be upheld and kept strong. We must not allow the PAP and their dogs [Link] to taint our National Day. Singapore did not become independent because of dog-mentality like theirs, and neither should Singaporeans today allow our country to continue to be flooded by foreigners at the expenses of our people.

McDonald's: Hate More. Eat Less. I'm vomitin' it.

Hey, after all it's obviously healthier to eat less--much less--of fast food, in particular this McDonald's. Read this article, "Anti-obesity proposal fails again at McDonald's" published on May 27, 2012? I'm lovin' it? Yeah. If you love to be as obese like this clown below...

Many of us will rather be vomitin' it, huh? (Especialy with how the rationing of free nugget sauces it will give and how much it will charge after certain amount. Tsk, tsk...)

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From the Courtesy Campaign to Integration Woes

I remember many years back our leaders feel that Singaporeans' manners were not too good and courtesy campaigns were organised to get Singaporeans to be more courteous to one another. It seemed that our less than perfect manners were a problem for our leaders who viewed our sometimes uncouth behavior as undesirable.

This scene of a conflict between a Singaporean and (newly arrived?) foreigners is hardly new for anyone - I saw such an incident myself a few days ago. I won't venture to guess who is right and wrong in this case but such incidents can happen due to cultural and behavior differences. Also, a video may not show the full story and finding fault with foreigners is not the point of this posting.

ALL Ministers learn from Bromptongate!

Yesterday when news broke that the NParks Officer responsible for the purchase was Brompton Bikes was suspended, I almost popped a champagne to celebrate! It was a moral victory against the authoritarian PAP government. But, nothing concrete yet. Remember no one has been charged yet!!

First of all, I think we have to thank a lot of netizens for relentlessly attacking this news when it broke. Come on, when virtually all the governments around the world are on austerity drives, here we are spending $2,200 for a fricking bike!! Jealousy can be a nasty bitch! The rest of the governments are already pissed that how come a virtually communist regime can boasts of a democratic society? I mean come on, 40 percent of its voters said NO to them, yet they occupy more than 90% of the seats in the Parliament?!

Trust me, they are not jealous of the bike our government can ANYHOW buy! They are jealous how come they cannot CON their own voters that way!! Come one day, when Singapore becomes another Syria, who do you think the other governments will back? Definitely it’s oppressed people!!

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Worth Applauding 

In the past year, several civil servants have been in court on various charges of cheating and misappropriation of funds. Arguably the most infamous of who was Liew Chee Meng. A clerical officer at the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA), he faced 455 charges of cheating the government up to $600,000.

Now it seems there’s another case coming up.

Media reports said that the Ministry of National Development (MND) has suspended a National Parks (NParks) officer responsible for purchasing 26 foldable Brompton bicycles worth a total of $57,200. Bought to enhance work productivity of NParks officers, the bikes were worth $2,200 each and ever since the purchase came to light, the Singapore public has been questioning the need for bicycles worth over $2,000 each.

Are our civil servants overly paid compared to the private sector?

I joined Mindef immediately after my ROD in 1982 – my starting pay was $720 then and it meant  the world to me.

I later found out that many of my peers who joined  the private sector started at least a hundred dollars lesser than me.

Not many people want to join the civil service then as the pay was considered low and the work monotonous. so the government  has  to jack up the starting pay to attract people.