Thursday, 30 August 2012

Watz Buzzing - 30 Aug 2012

On Foreigners, Xenophobia and The Straits Times

In this year’s National Day Rally (NDR), besides announcing new policies, such as the construction of more universities and increase in social security, Prime Minister Lee also brought up the issue of xenophobia and hostility towards foreigners as well as the need for foreigners to integrate. However, the big picture has been missed once again, by the PAP establishment. 

The Issue With Foreigners

The issue with foreigners, unfortunately for PM Lee is not a simplistic case of a few black sheep in society who are openly hostile and xenophobic.

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Xenophobia: Singapore trying to stay extraordinary

Link to Yahoo's article.

Xenophobia is a non-issue here. The government is over reacting because our exceptional reputation is at risk. Just imagine and I bet it has happened when foreign leaders meet with our leaders and query our recent anti-foreigner sentiments. Can you imagine visitors asking President Obama about rising high profile gun incidents in America? America is being America but Singapore is turning into something else and these visitors unthinkingly thought that we can have our cake and eat it. You can't.

This government forgets that its policies are causing us to become just like any other global city, albeit trying to the among the best. They forget that you cannot be uniquely Singapore as we have come to be known from how we got here when they execute strategies for us to wear it like London or New York for global citizens work and play here. You must choose.

As usual they want to have everything. It is all rhetoric because when life is lived you start trying to have everything but eventually are forced to choose when you have become so exhausted and stressed. There is work-life, lots of it but just ignore the balance and cut out the babies to get more life.

SDP responds to PM Lee's National Day Rally Speech

SDP Secretary-General Chee Soon Juan says that Singapore needs alternative democratic leadership to avert a disaster brought about by the PAP's immigration policy.

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PM Lee: I’m heartened that many of you liked my speech

Three days after giving his speech at the National Day Rally 2012 on Sunday, PM Lee wrote on this Facebook page yesterday night (29 Aug) that he is heartened by the “many Singaporeans who liked his speech”.

On his Facebook page, some indeed have indicated that they did like his speech.

Edwin Siew said, “Sunday’s speech was one of the best I’ve heard from you, Sir. Let’s continue to make Singapore a shining beacon of the East and a great home for all!”

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Online poll: 8 in 10 say NDR 2012 did not meet expectations

In an online poll on a Facebook page [Link], almost 80% of the respondents said the National Day Rally 2012 held on Sunday (26 Aug 2012) did not meet their expectations.
The question asked in the poll was “Did NDR2012 meet your expectations?“.
As at today (29 Aug) 12pm, 657 people have responded and the result is as follows:

Yes – 132 (20.1%)
No – 525 (79.9%)
A respondent, Delson Moo, said sarcastically, “Yes, I found NDR2012 meet my expectations. I expect them to bullshit their way and talk cock and blaming the citizens for the shit they created, and so far, they did!!!”

Lauschke Amy said, “One thing that came to my mind now: he said that he would ensure HDB flats to be affordable to Singaporeans. How? By allowing BTOs prices to be pegged to market resale flats’ prices? He has no solutions. Rhetorics. Talk is cheap.”

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Higher education participation rate to rise to 40% by 2020 – PM Lee

Question: The rise of 40%, is it for Singaporeans or foreigners?

University World News, 28 Aug 2012
Singapore’s Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong has announced that the proportion of young people attending higher education will rise to 40% by 2020 compared to 27% now, with two new publicly-backed universities slated for the city-state.

Education is “Singapore’s most important long-term investment in its people and it is a key response to the changing world”, Lee said during his annual National Day Rally policy speech, delivered at the Singapore Institute of Technology (SIT) on 26 August.

Lee said that SIT and the Singapore Institute of Management University (UniSIM) would be upgraded to become Singapore’s fifth and sixth universities offering applied as well as part time degrees. Full story

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More Universities More Hope or Despair?

Good with more universities! Depending on whether the graduates churned out are needed by industries or not though. If they get useless degrees like BSc Modernist Flower Arrangement for the local economy, then lots of unhappy unemployed grads around unless Singapore turns into a global decorative flower export hub. Even if there is abundance of jobs for grads in the market, these grads expect cushy high pays, to be advanced upwards fast, all hopefully with minimal and maximum office politics.

What should be in the works for courses in the universities? Easy to say have more unis but exactly what courses which the 6 universities each have their own niche and therefore customer-student base? NUS and NTU are increasingly so alike that they are just monkey see monkey do. If I'm a million $ salaried minister, I would say - technical and applied skills, those with logical degree extensions of current poly diplomas as an alternative of going to some bush university in Australia. Do you know that with the current AUD exchange rate, it might be cheaper to send your child to USA rather than Australia! Traditionally unglam skills like cooking, nursing, maritime and shipping, contracting and construction? Besides, 2 more universities in Singapore also not much use unless these unis are kept "affordable". SMU! With real estate like that, of course it is expensive!

Also, if 40% of each cohort is a grad, there would be more competition in the job market, like in Korea and China, and everyone wants to be a management associate or something equivalently glam sounding.

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Lee’s economic goals need adults, not your babies!

Whatever the incentives offered, I believe the Government is smart enough not to expect too many babies will be produced by the citizens. Over the decades, it has created an environment that is no longer conducive to producing babies and raising kids – high cost of living, low income, unstable job, a competitive and stressful society, global trend of falling birth rate among developed societies, and in Singapore at least a generation of population being indoctrinated (since young) about the negative aspect of marrying young and having more than two babies.

The Government knows all these problems – largely created by them.

What the Government is doing and it will soon intensify its effort on it, is to build a “strong case” to justify bringing in more non-citizens here – through pushing the blame to the citizens. To be honest, the Government has been quite successful so far : a complaint of too many foreign adults here has now gotten the population to talk in media or public about whether they could produce an additional or two more babies! An issue of too many foreign adults has now become an issue of how to encourage the citizens to give birth to more babies! Either the Government is too cunning or its citizens are too daft!

Singletons Also Have Rights

Even in traditionally conservative countries like the United Arab Emirates, 60 percent of women over 30 are unmarried. Half of American adults are unmarried, up from 22 percent in 1950. Nearly 15 percent live by themselves, up from 4 percent. The march of singledom is global. Research firm Euromonitor predicts that "singletons" will form the fastest growing household group in most parts of the world. It is anticipated 48 million new solo residents will be added by 2020, an increase of 20 percent.

In Singapore, most singletons are staying with their parents, primarily because their own housing needs have long been neglected. Only those above 35 are allowed to buy from the rip-off resale market. Like most policymakers worldwide, our planners also tend to ignore singletons, saving the best of tax incentives and housing grants for benefit of the married only.

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Raising Future Tax Revenue from Personal Income Tax not GST

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said last Sunday (26 August 2012) that as spending on social services increases, taxes would have to go up sooner or later within the next 20 years.

When Channel News Asia interviewed some tax practitioners, their response was that there was scope for the Goods and Services Tax rate to be increased or some other tax e.g., carbon tax to be introduced.

Ernst & Young partner Kang Choon Pin, for instance, cited the case of Japan, which despite political opposition recently passed legislation to increase its consumption tax rate from 5 per cent currently to 8 per cent and subsequently to 10 per cent (he did not mention that the increase was conditional upon economic conditions).  Singapore's 7 per cent GST rate would then probably be the lowest GST or equivalent consumption tax rate in the world.  Many countries in Europe have consumption tax rates in the high 20 per cent 

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Cheers to PM Lee and Khaw Boon Wan – for now » flats

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong’s announcement that singles may be allowed to buy HDB flats directly from the HDB is something which I am particularly happy about. And many other singles would too, I suspect. (I had brought up this issue with a minister several weeks ago and he had said yes, the MND is taking a look at it.)

For the longest time, we singles have felt marginalised, discriminated against – all because we do not conform to what the state deems fit to qualify for a flat. We felt like we were being treated no better than even permanent residents. (By the way, two PR siblings can also buy a resale HDB flat, I am told. But I can’t find any confirmation of this. If you know where I can find such stipulations, please let me know.)

Of course, we could buy from the resale market – but only if you’re 35 and above. (See HDB rules for singles here.) In any case, with the mad escalation of resale prices in the last few years, purchasing from the open market is beyond us. So, we’re left to live with parents, or to rent a room which itself is costly.

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Renewing Perspectives on the MDP

Jointly organised by the National Solidarity Party and the Think Centre, the Public Consultation on Proposed Changes to the Mandatory Death Penalty drew a crowd of more than 100, packed into a tight room to hear from both the legal and human rights perspectives.

The event follows on the trail of the Singapore government’s announcement on 9 July 2012 to grant the courts discretion in considering specific mitigating factors when passing sentence on drug trafficking and homicide cases. Many saw this to be, effectively, the first step in the eradication of the MDP, although others were less optimistic and still see areas for improvement.

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The Prime Minister has just finished his National Day Rally speech for the year and everyone is busy chatting about his speech. The mainstream media published the uplifting bits of his speech, while the online chaps did their song and dance about being more 'liberal' in his approach to government.

One of the things that caught my eye was the fact that he spent a good portion of his speech telling Singaporeans how to behave better. This portion of the speech was devoted to dealing with ugly online behaviour towards our new arrivals from elsewhere and the thrust of his comments was that such bad behaviour ruined Singapore's international reputation.

For the record, I agree with what he said. Perhaps it's just me but the attitudes towards foreigners, particularly those who happen to be dark skinned and from other parts of Asia disgusts me. I feel like vomiting whenever I hear highly educated professional people in Singapore talk about the unfortunate darkies doing the 'dirty' jobs.

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PM calls on Singaporeans to draft the nation's future

The rising anti-foreigner sentiment in Singapore was a major theme in Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong's annual National Day Rally speech.

He gently chastised Singaporeans for using the internet anonymously to further the phobic sentiments against foreigners, saying that this can only hurt the city-state's global reputation.
But unlike the paternalistic leadership of the old, Mr Lee seems to be reaching out to the people.

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Heng Swee Kiat committee – behind closed doors and closed minds?

Another one? Education minister Heng Swee Keat will lead yet another committee that “should review what needs to change and where we should act more boldly”, said Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong in his National Day message.

“We will engage Singaporeans in this review, and build a broad consensus on the way forward.”

Rachel Chang of the Straits Times spoke to academics, political observers and ordinary Singaporeans, and reported in her blogpost that there were two main reactions: 

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Indian-origin judge named next chief justice of Singapore

The Times Of India, 28 Aug 2012
SINGAPORE: An Indian-origin judge has been named as the new chief justice of Singapore, making him the first from the community to head the courts.

Sundaresh Menon, presently Singapore's judge of appeal, will assume the office of the chief justice from November 6.

He would take over from Justice Chan Sek Keong, who retires at the age of 75, said a statement from the Prime Minister's office on the appointment announced by President Tony Tan. Full story

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Six proposals to turn Sinkies into baby making machines

4 women from the PAP Women’s Wing, including MPs Jessica Tan and Intan Azura Mokhtar, have came out with 6 recommendations to make Singaporeans to produce more babies. And the recommendations are sensible.

Are they smarter than those that are paid millions to come up with such good proposals? Or when can’t those who are paid in the millions come out with such good proposals?

The talents in the Women’s Wing cannot be more talented than the million dollar talents right? If they are, then the Women’s Wing talents should be paid the million dollars instead. 

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Japan, US conduct island defense drill near Diaoyu Islands
   US Moves in E. Asia

Japan, US to conduct joint drills near Diaoyu Islands

S. Korea, US launch joint military drill

Private deals between US, Japan concerning Diaoyu Islands "invalid": Chinese FM

US-Japanese strategies put region at risk

Japan’s tough Diaoyu position aimed at US

The reason was exactly the incident that happened in September. Japan and the US assumed that the waters near the Diaoyu Islands might be threatened by Chinese military forces, although in ordinary people's eyes a fishing boat barely represents a nation.

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Inventing the Chinese Threat

"Since the disappearance of the Soviet Union,” writes James Dobbins at RAND Corp., “China has become
America’s default adversary, the power against which the United States measures itself militarily, at least when there is no more proximate
enemy in sight.”

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