Thursday, 2 August 2012

Watz Buzzing - 2 Aug 2012

You Can Fool Some Of The People...

There was once this Cedric fool who suggested that the Individual Physical Proficiency Test (IPPT) be conducted in the air-con comfort of a SAFRA club house. Exercise is always accompanied by sweat, the natural way humans cool off body heat generated by vigorous physical activity. Every NSmen understands fitness requires strenuous effort, except perhaps for paper generals who make BG rank in 10 years, 6 of which were spent in lecture rooms at Cambridge and the like.

Then there was the fool-me-hah! character who irked everybody by boasting she was made citizen in record time, revealing that the ICA was boosting population numbers as if on steroids. To be fair, brick bats thrown her way involved stories about her husband's discharged bankruptcy status. And there is the new development about a sister-in-law who was thrown out of her house because she was born out of wedlock. Her husband should really clear the air about these unsubstantiated stories in the rumour mill. The last we want is MPs handing out Mont Blanc pens to advance their promotion prospects.

But Grace is no fool, she has just been promoted to full minister, presumably to replace the first female member of the cabinet kicked out in the Aljunied massacre of GE 2011. Or that someone took note of her great sacrifice for having "experienced a drop in my income" by joining politics. Doubtless, the extra loss of privacy, public scrutiny and loss of personal time will be more than compensated for by the elevation to a higher income bracket.

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A uniquely ST way of tweaking news

Two days later, the Straits Times runs the exact same article, with a different headline.

Why so shy ST? Can’t talk about how the overcrowding issue has been framed around a mainlander inundation of Singapore?

Note: Vitriol means Bitterly abusive feeling or expression wheras woe means Deep distress or misery, as from grief; wretchedness; Misfortune; calamity.

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Khaw Boon Wan explains himself over Brompton bike controversy
Yahoo! News Singapore, 1 Aug 2012
Minister of National Development Khaw Boon Wan on Wednesday explained the actions his ministry had taken amid the controversy over the purchase of branded foldable bikes by NParks.
Khaw wrote then, and again in his latest post, that the decision to buy foldable bikes was justified but noted that the procurement could have been better handled and NParks could have gotten a better deal.

He added that he had “no reason to question the integrity of the officer(s) involved” based on what he had read in the NParks report, but decided anyway to commission an internal audit team to work with NParks to verify if the procurement was conducted in a “fit and proper manner”. Full story

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"The public has the right to know." Really, Mr Khaw?
Minister for National Development (MND) Khaw Boon Wan's latest blog avoids the central question surrounding the Brompton-bike saga.

The SDP had raised the issue of the Minister saying that the bicycles were "value for money” even before the internal audit that he had commissioned completed its investigation.

Responding, Mr Khaw wrote in his blog today that he had wanted to share the interim findings because "the public have a right to know”. The Minister must save us the PAP-is-transparent routine.

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Value for Money
Last week, I read Lianhe Zaobao’s article on the National Parks Board’s (NParks) purchase of Brompton foldable bikes and wondered if it was the right decision.

As I am not familiar with foldable bikes, I asked NParks and a few regular users of such foldable bikes for their views.

First: why foldable bikes? NParks explained that the demand on its staff to do field inspections has gone up sharply. Our park connectors have lengthened: another 50 km were newly completed. Tree inspections have also been ramped in frequency to address the issue of tree falls due to adverse weather patterns. Rather than simply increasing manpower, NParks sought to find alternative methods that are cheaper and more sustainable in the long-term.

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Brompton Saga Rehashed

When The Washington Post first reported on discoveries that ended up as the Watergate affair, Editor Ben Bradlee noted that the protestations from the White House fell short of denial. On the basis of what he coined as "non-denial denials", he extended his support for Woodward and Bernstein's investigative reporting.
"Read my lips"

"Did I jump the gun? I don't think so," Khaw answers his own question in his first official comment on the Brompton bikes hullabaloo since the investigation was turned over to the CPIB. To assess whether it is indeed a sin of omission, or sin of commission, on the part of the Minister-in-charge, it is useful to review the chronology of events that unfolded per his story telling:

On Jun 22, Khaw discussed the Zaobao report on the purchase of 26 units $2,200 foldable bikes with his staff and wanted answers on: (a) why foldable bikes; (b) how the supplier was chosen. 

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NUS PRC PhD student gone missing in France

Cui Luchao, a National University of Singapore (NUS) PhD student has been missing and unreachable in France for two weeks.

His case brings to mind the somewhat similar missing case of Kouk Leong Jin, who's lost in Greece.

The latter was at one time believed to be alive, but nevertheless still has vanished without a trace. Kouk Leong Jin was also from NUS. And that's the similarity with Cui Luchao ends.

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Malaysian forum exposes more photos of Darinne Ko Wen Hui

The sensational sex-for-grade case involving a NUS Law prof and his former student Darinne Ko Wen Hui is not only the talking point in Singapore, but in neighboring Malaysia as well.

Malaysia’s largest online community ‘’ exposes more photos of Darinne Ko Wen Hui 

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GIC returns: half the story?

I refer to the article “GIC’s real rate of return over 20 years steady at 3.9%” (Straits Times, Jul 31).

In the past, the GIC used to give the returns in S$ terms as well, instead of just US$.

So, why is it that this year’s GIC annual report once again reports the returns in US$ only?

As the S$ has been appreciating against the US$, how much lower would the returns be in S$?

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GIC and Temasek’s annualised returns revised

In the media today, GIC has confirmed that its 20 year annualized rate of return was only 3.9% and Temasek’s was 15%. Who is spreading the misinformation that their returns were 17% annualized? How did people got such a fantastic figure that no fund managers would dare to claim? 17% annualized! Unbelieveable, incredible, insanity!
Oh, I remember that Professor Balding was using this number to compute the missing $160b in the national reserves of the island. At 17%, where have the $160b gone, he asked? There is a big dark hole somewhere that is concealing this fat chunk of money.

Now the mystery is solved. With the declared official numbers of GIC at a meagre 3.9%, less than the payout for CPF’s Retirement Account, GIC may be incurring a loss if the money is borrowed from CPF. And CPF’s annualized returns over 20 years must be much more as the earlier returns were much higher. I think if any funds were to park their money with me, I could guarantee 4% return over 20 years too. And I am not a super talent and need no super talented salaries.

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50 Good Candidates

Photo credit:

9 Singaporeans have been appointed Nominated Members of Parliament (NMPs) by the government this year, and it turns out that the successful applicants are rather good quality representing a very balanced coverage of the different facets of society.

They are Faizah Haji Ahmad Jamal, Nicholas Fang, Janice Koh, Laurence Lien, Mary Liew, R Dhinakaran, Eugene Tan, Tan Su Shan and Teo Siong Seng.

There were a total of 50 proposal forms were received.

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What Wasted Talent! What Utter Lack Of Vision!

Apparently Dr Chee celebrated his 50th birthday recently, with the launch of a new book to pay for his ‘offer’ to settle his bankruptcy cases with our PAP leaders for $30,000 when they have been awarded more than $600,000.

Apparently he wishes to do this so he can lead the SDP in contesting elections in 2016, something he cannot do if he is still an undischarged bankrupt then.

Yet his leadership apparently is still all about speaking out’ against the Government.

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HDB launches new BTO standard 4-room flats priced at half-million dollars in Clementi, Telok Blangah & Depot Heights
From: Richard < >
Date: Tue, Jul 31, 2012 at 10:06 PM
Subject: Re:
To: “Tan Cheng Han (Law)”
Dear Mr Tan,
Thank you for informing TR Emeritus (TRE) the formation of the Media Literacy Council (MLC) and sharing this information with us.

I think the need to educate our young on cyber wellness is not in doubt. In this regard, MLC serving as a public education platform for the safe use of the Internet is admirable.

However, it won’t work if MLC, in reviewing approaches to create a more participatory and responsible cyberspace culture, tries to get websites and blogs to adopt its recommended approaches.

No two websites or blogs are managed the same way. In the case of TRE, in our pursuit to position TRE to be a credible platform for Singaporean netizens to participate in and to ensure TRE doesn’t run foul with Singapore laws, TRE has set up its own Terms of Service ( for readers to abide-by.

Prohibitions of hate speech, abusive or discriminatory language and making seditious, obscene, threatening or defamatory remarks are covered in our TOS.

Besides, most of the infringements on the Net in Singapore have already been covered by our Penal Code (Cap 224):
  • 267C. Whoever — (b) makes or communicates any electronic record, containing any incitement to violence or… likely to lead to any breach of the peace shall be punished with imprisonment for a term which may extend to 5 years, or with fine, or with both.
  • 298. Uttering words, etc., with deliberate intent to wound the religious or racial feelings of any person.
  • 503 – 510. Criminal intimidation, insult and annoyance
  • Etc.
We certainly respect the independence and choice of individual sites to formulate their own sets of rules and regulations to govern the use of their sites. This is the way the Net was started and has been the way the Net flourishes.

In any case, if there is anything TR Emeritus can help, do let us know.

Best regards
Richard Wan
TR Emeritus

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Bloggers frown on Media Literacy Council

The overall sentiment online is a lingering distrust of the intentions of the authorities, that there is more to just promoting "cyber wellness" than the authorities are leading on. "Yes, I do see this [MLC] as a Government attempt to stick a hand in where they previously have not had much success in controlling," Ms [Kirsten] Han says. "I don't know if there will be any direct curb on free speech but it seems like yet another case of the Government trying to be the 'leader' or 'agenda setter' instead of allowing things to develop organically."

"The MLC will not curb online speech or even achieve any of its aims," says Belmont Lay, editor with New Nation. "This is because the Internet community thrives on being 'uncivilised' and spontaneous. We shouldn't tamper with its best qualities."

The MLC's goals, as Tan [Cheng Han] says in the MLC's press release, are to "raise the media literacy level of Singaporeans so that everyone can benefit even more from the Internet, and traditional and new media."

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How media illiteracy is promoted

The Singapore government has just announced the formation of a Media Literacy Council. I will argue here that what the government has done over the last few decades is to promote media illiteracy. It serves their interests. Consequently, I am skeptical that they have found a new religion.

I will begin my argument by giving you a very specific example. It’s like this: On 25 July 2012, a story Foreign worker told: “If we kill you, there won’t be any witness was published on the website of Transient Workers Count Too (TWC2), an advocacy group and charity that seeks fair treatment for migrant workers. (Declaration of interest: I am on the executive committee of TWC2, and have direct oversight of the website. The article in question however was not written by me, but it was passed by me for publication.) In a nutshell, the story told of a worker from India who reported quite scandalous treatment by his employer. He was so aggrieved that it became unviable to continue in the job; he was even fearful for his life.

Through social media, readership of that article climbed exponentially. It was also highlighted by The Online Citizen on their Facebook page, on which were over 35 comments. Most expressed outrage at the treatment meted out to the worker, for example:

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