Wednesday, 15 August 2012

Watz buzzing - 15 Aug 2012

OPINION: Sex Scandals Signal an End to Singapore's Corruption-Free Image - Jessica Seah, 14 Aug 2012
Singapore has long prided -- and touted -- itself as a place where the type of corruption rampant elsewhere in Asia simply does not exist. The high salaries paid to Singapore officials -- junior cabinet ministers earn $750,000 and the prime minister gets $1.7 million -- are supposed to forestall financial temptation.

But a recent string of high-profile corruption scandals has highlighted Singapore officials' weakness to other forms of temptation as well.

The cases coincide with Singapore losing its crown as the world's least corrupt country, according to Transparency International's Corruption Perceptions Index. In December the city-state slid to the fifth position, behind New Zealand, Denmark, Finland and Sweden. Full story 

read more

Hurray for Sylvia!

When common Singaporeans ask questions of the state of affairs in Singapore, ministers tell us to just shut up and join a political party before we speak.

When Workers' Party MP Sylvia Lim questioned the Minister of Law how he viewed the disquiet over the non-custodial sentence for plastic surgeon, Shanmugum turned the table on her and asked  three times if she is insinuating that the AG Chamber is favouring Woffles Wu with non-custodial charges. [Link]. She was accused of being political.

What now? Commoners cannot, politicians also cannot. Nobody can ask questions, meh? 

read more

OPINION: Why Singaporeans are pissed with Mr Lee Kuan Yew’s comment on population growth, 13 Aug 2012
As Singapore is still in a celebrative mood on our 47th National Day, ex-Prime Minister Mr Lee Kuan Yew threw in a dampener last Saturday as he spoke to his constituents at Tg Pagar GRC NDP dinner celebration by declaring that if Singaporeans don’t reproduce sufficiently, we will be taken over by foreigners.

“Do we want to replace ourselves or do we want to shrink and get older and be replaced by migrants and work permit holders? That’s the simple question,” he said.

I must point out that the statesman is also the one who laid down the stop-at-two family campaign almost two decades ago, when he was prime minister, causing us to fall into the current population growth mayhew.

Moreover, he merely presented a problem without providing any viable solutions other than the usual method of bringing in hundreds of thousands of foreigners to resolve the issue – which probably is their only solution so far. Full story

Also read: Using low fertility rate as a justification for mass importing foreigners -

Singaporeans either reproduce more or be prepared to get replaced by migrants and work permit holders : Lee Kuan Yew -Yahoo! News Singapore
S'pore to lose majority to migrants if declining birth rates continue - The Malay Mail
Singapore's former minister mentor concerns about low birth rate - Xinhua
LKY warns S'poreans could become minority in own country - New Straits Times
Singapore On Verge Of Losing Majority To Migrants If Declining Birth Rates Continue -
Singapore’s Lee Kuan Yew urges marriage, making babies -
The New Social Ethos - Singapore Notes

LKY, make it easy for us to have babies

Lee Kuan Yew laments the fact that we are not replacing ourselves. As if he doesn't know that this is the problem of developed countries. In order to replace ourselves, we need to have 2.1 babies for every couple. Even the first world countries are not hitting that high a number. For the Year 2011, Singapore's rate is 1.11 (see position 163) Total Fertility Rate (Children Born Per Woman)2011

So what is it that is keeping people from having babies in Singapore. Here is a list.

Cost of Housing and/or difficulty in getting a HDB flat. To start a family, you need a home, right? But with today's cost of housing and the difficulty some couples face when they try to get a flat, how are they even going to settle down and get married, let alone have children? 

read more

LKY and the ‘folding up’ of Singapore 

Oh boy are we in trouble. According to the CIA Factbook, we are down in the doldrums in terms of total fertility rate at a miserable 0.78, which is way below the minimum number to replace ourselves. But what’s interesting about LKY’s exhortations to procreate is not what’s being said, but what’s NOT. For example, he did not say that educated women with pHDs should get boyfriends and settle down.

He also did not specifically urge the Chinese to pick up the slack. What can only be inferred, from how he social-engineered the Singapore population experiment over the years and from the number of PRCs working here, is that it’s the faltering Chinese Singaporeans that he’s really concerned about.

Racial composition is rarely mentioned these days, but it seems that the old man built this nation using his own golden ratio of how each ethnicity should make up the population, even if it meant staunching its growth at certain critical periods in Singapore’s history, and to see his formula for success fail in the face of ‘personal choice’ is like God stomping his feet because his creatures are not sucking on the sweet nectar of the fruits that he created for them.

Acting Minister MG Chan to find S’pore husband for Feng Tianwei from SAF

The search for a Singapore husband for Olympic bronze medalist Feng Tianwei has begun. This task has been fallen to Acting Minister for Community Development, Youth and Sports (MCYS), Major-General (NS) Chan Chun Sing.

Ms Feng, 25, who has helped Singapore win 2 bronze medals in the recent London Olympics – one for women’s table tennis individual and another for team event – is currently still single. 

Previously, she has said that due to her commitments to table tennis engagements, she didn’t think much looking for a life-long mate. Besides, she thought that with the many competitions which she needs to travel frequently to, it may be hard for her to enter into any relationship. 

It's His Fault!

"We must encourage those who earn less than $200 per month and cannot afford to nurture and educate many children never to have more than two... We will regret the time lost if we do not now take the first tentative steps towards correcting a trend which can leave our society with a large number of the physically, intellectually and culturally anaemic." (1967) - Lee Kuan Yew, Minister Mento 

I remember through force of fear and/or favour, Singaporean were punished for having more than two children and, fertile women were subjected to sterilization in the 70's.

We reap what Lee Kuan Yew sow. With his highfalutin' ideas and policies on eugenics, we now have Lee Kuan Yew to thank for a "physically, intellectually and culturally anaemic" population imported recently, mostly from mainland China and some from India and elsewhere!

read more

The new social ethos 

"If we go on like that, this place will fold up, because there’ll be no original citizens left to form the majority," former Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew harped on the low fertility rate at the Tanjong Pagar-Tiong Bahru National Day celebration dinner on Saturday, "... and we cannot have new citizens, new PRs to settle our social ethos, our social spirit, our social norms." That last bit has to be a red herring.

Let's ignore for a moment that he was the first to penalise Singaporeans for having more kids if they fall short of his graduate mother expectations. He may deny authorship for nipping the procreative drive, but he cannot evade responsibility for the alien invasion. They brought in the foreign elements, temporal sojourners who were supposed to leave town after the infrastructure was built, but chose to stay and started to crowd out the locals. No wonder original citizens are a dying breed.

The Saturday story of the Brit who's "active in grassroots and political work", is not exactly the best of shiny examples about the new citizens and their social ethos. Relocated here at age 18 when his father was hired by Singapore Polytechnic in 1985, he left to join the Royal Marines after 2 years of schooling at ACJC. A kneecap injury washed him out of the elite commando force and his ambition to bear arms for Her Majesty's Service.  He returned to Singapore to try his luck in theatre and television. If he had gone to Hongkong, he would have to bear with the acronym for Failed In London Try Hongkong.

The big disconnect, where got?

When ministers openly claimed that earning a few millions is barely enough to maintain their decent standard of living while some spoke with contempt about the poor wanting to eat in foodcourt, how to miss the disconnect?

When ministers expect to be paid in the millions for a life time pension but did not blink when deciding to hold back the people’s hard earned savings through all kinds of schemes, is there a connect?

When ministers made a case that $1000 pm is good enough to buy a HDB flat when they splurged several millions on several properties, could there be a connect?

The heavy price of being a citizen

Another NSman missing in Brunei. Coxswain Muhammad Fahrurrazi went missing during an exercise and a search party is out there looking for him. This is the heavy price paid by every male citizen and their families for the good of this island. Some still sneered at National Service as nothing to crow about. If Muhammed is not found, a family would have lost their beloved son for good, in the service of the country, paying the ultimate price even in peace.

All the hopes and aspirations of a family will turn into a just sad memory, plus a few consoling words, and to bear the pain alone for the rest of their lives.

How can the people and country compensate for this unquestioned loyalty and contribution to their well being and the welling being of all fellow citizens? Can anyone who has not done his NS claimed to have contributed more than an ordinary NSman? Can any PR or new citizen know and feel the pain and sacrifices of the NSmen and their families?

Inflation: Why the misleading picture, minister & media?

(Or “Think short-term, not long-term says minister Lee or “MTI minister does not know econs?” or “Govt’s spin machine is stuck in the stone age”)

The Retail Price Watch Group (RPWG) last week emphasised that the slower pace of food inflation impacted positively on household expenditure as food expenses take up a considerable portion of each household’s monthly budget. This slower pace of food inflation is good for S’poreans is the message that the constructive, nation-building media is spreading, not challenging. Example of how inflation is reported . At the end of this piece are two links on the numbers on inflation, and what they mean.

Earlier this year, when inflation was hitting new highs, in addition to the sick jokes by Tharman and Hng Kiang on “no worries” if “you don’t rent private housing, or want or need to buy a car”*, S’poreans were told to look forward, not back. Inflation would “moderate”. It hasn’t has it? The rate of growth has slowed a tinny winny bit, taz it.

MOE: Singaporean parents could face jail time for faking addresses, 10 Aug 2012
The Straits Times reported that since primary school registrations started in July, many parents have complained online that some are using “fake addresses” to gain an advantage.

What these parents do is to rent an apartment near their school of choice and use the new address in their children’s application form. They do not live or move into these rented units and will terminate the rental once their children have been admitted into the school.

Yet, parents who are found to have done this may face jail time for the fraud, the paper reported, quoting a spokesperson from the Education Ministry. The children will have to transfer to another school even if they have been admitted. Full story

PRs' children competing for primary one places with Singaporeans - TR Emeritus

Tharman: We’re not satisfied with current state of procurement process

Speaking at the official opening of Singapore’s only Olympic-sized ice skating rink at JCube shopping mall in Jurong East today (12 Aug), DPM Tharman said that the government is not satisfied with the current state of procurement process and added that the government is looking at how the process can be improved.

Mr Tharman said, “It’s compliance with the rules (that is the issue). This is partly a matter of competence — we’ve got to build up the competence of procurement officers. That means not just the way we handle large-value tenders, where the checks are very stringent, but also the other smaller value quotations. The small transactions have to be on the radar screen as well.”

The government’s procurement process came under the spotlight after an internal audit found discrepancies in NParks’ purchase of the expensive foldable hand-made Brompton bicycles, each costing S$2,200. The Ministry of National Development (MND) then suspended the NParks’ officer, Bernard Lim, the Assistant Director of the Park Connector Network who was involved in the purchase and referred the matter to the Corrupt Practices Investigation Bureau (CPIB) for investigation

Why you should never take a politician’s online popularity as a real-world benchmark

t is damning to read about how almost 15% of Mitt Romney’s twitter followers are actually fictitious or fake accounts1 – and that got me thinking how in modern times, the media and ourselves have a tendency to take the number of Twitter followers or Facebook fans as a benchmark of real world popularity.

There are syndicates who churn out fake accounts on popular social networks and sell them to interested parties.
“Such services allow customers to buy followers for any Twitter account, he stressed, so it’s not clear if the fakes were purchased by Romney, his supporters, or his political foes.1
That got me to check out Lee Hsien Loong’s Twitter page2, and did an impromptu sampling of his first 50 Twitter followers3.

Freedom From The Press reviewed in TOC

One of the biggest challenges I set myself in writing Freedom From The Press was to ensure that an essentially academic monograph would also be accessible by the lay public. To get published by a university press requires a certain theoretical weight that the general audience often finds intolerable. NUS Press was satisfied that I had met its rigorous criteria for scholarship

But, would the book end up as yet another turgid text read only by researchers and reluctant graduate students? I’m happy to note TOC’s reviewer describing it as a “largely journalistic narrative”.

In fact, I may have disguised the academic stuffing too well. Vernon Chan, apparently one of those who believes that a scholarly book must shout its theoretical pretensions in polysyllabic prose, seems to feel cheated that it is not analytical enough. Fortunately for me, NUS Press – one of Asia’s top academic publishers – applied less lofty standards than Chan.

read more

Singapore is now the richest country in the world
Yahoo! News Singapore, 14 Aug 2012

Singapore topped the charts for highest GDP per capita in 2010 at close to SGD $70,000 (USD $56,532), according to a study. 
In the Wealth Report 2012 published by Knight Frank and Citi Private Bank, Singapore is also expected to continue to be the global leader in 2050. 
GDP per capita refers to the total output of a country divided by the population. 
Trailing closely behind Singapore is Norway at about SGD $63,000 (USD $51,226), then the U.S. at about SGD $56,200 (USD $25,511), followed by Hong Kong at almost SGD $56,000 (USD $45,301). Full story
read more