Saturday, 6 October 2012

Watz Buzzing - 6 Oct 2012

Town council: Upgrading votes not secret

The Aljunied-Hougang Town Council has confirmed that the recent upgrading poll conducted among residents of Eunos Spring was not a secret ballot.

In a statement released on Wednesday to address criticisms of a lucky draw organised for those who supported upgrading, the town council described the voting as a consensus gathering exercise.

It said: "The NRP (Neighbourhood Renewal Programme) voting is a consensus gathering exercise and not a secret ballot, a practice that is common to all town councils in Singapore. 

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Losing the Democratic Soul

When I first read about this saga of WP controlled Aljunied Town Council using the "carrot" of attractive Lucky Draw Prizes to get favourable HDB upgrading poll result, I was devastated.

This brings me back to a very emotional past of mine. It was the Generation Elections held in early 1997 (2 Jan 1997). I was one of the voters of the "Legendary" Cheng San GRC, hotly contested by the WP team led by the late JBJ and Tan Liang Hong. For those younger readers who are interested to know more about this GE, please refer to Wikipedia here. During the run up to polling day, the then Prime Minister Goh Chok Tong put his reputation at stake by declaring himself as the "special candidate" of that battle. He reportedly
told Cheng San voters that if they returned PAP candidates to power in the election, they would get a host of benefits. These included access to better transport facilities such as the MRT and LRT, new housing projects, such as Punggol 21, and opportunities to upgrade their HDB apartments and public housing estates. The PAP emphasised that constituencies that failed to return PAP candidates to power would not receive priority in government upgrading programmes and might end up becoming slums.
This single incident back then became the main critical factor that decided my fate into the opposition politics. After the WP team lost with 45% of the votes, I wrote a very emotional article posted on soc.culture.singapore. I was emotional because I know some of my family members have voted PAP for fear of the very threat that it has put up, the deprivation of HDB upgrading.
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Vote-Buying Rears Its Ugly Head

The decision by WP MP Pritam Singh to selective wave ‘carrots’ at supporters of his upgrading initiative for Aljunied GRC, truly puzzles me.

At best you could say his stumbling into the realm of unethical vote-buying was a result of his naivety. Perhaps they might argue that they followed the advice of a well-intending grassroot advisor, and failed to realise that they have inadvertently alienated residents for whom upgrading was possibly an economic or general inconvenience.

If the move was intended to reward WP supporters, the WP also probably failed to realise that perhaps some of the constituents might just not want the upgrading? Did you some how adopt the hubris attitude that you are either with us or against us? That if your voted no, you must be a die-hard PAP supporter? 

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Singapore's property still sizzling hot as Khaw's cooling measures flop

Asia Property Report, 3 Oct 2012
Singapore’s residential real estate sector is still sizzling hot despite government cooling measures, according to Savills’ Residential Sales Briefing for October.

According to the briefing, July saw 1,946 new homes sales, a rise of 42 percent month-on-month. That puts the total sales figure for the first eight months of 2012 at 15,300 new properties, close to the full-year total of 2011.

With the latest round of quantitive easing in the US, where the Federal Reserve intends to pump US$40 billion into their economy per month until more sustainable job growth is restored, Savills anticipates a return of foreign investors into the Singapore property market. Especially the high-end segment of the market is expected to benefit, after having witnessed a couple of slow months as a result of the additional buyers’ stamp duty. Full story

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Singapore: May Peace Be Upon You

It is disappointing that PM Lee had used a poor choice of words in his recent interview with The Australian.
The Australian had quoted Mr Lee as saying:

“People are not so poor. They think their government is not poor so they expect the government to do more for them. They’re not poor but they feel less well off relatively than others they can see in society. There is that relative sense that ‘I should get my entitlement.”

From a public relations angle, Mr Lee had made a blunder in brushing off Singaporeans as being “not poor” and seemingly want the “entitlement” that he might suggest that they should not be entitled to. He had over suggested that his government should ensure that they do not allow Singapore to go “overboard” with the allocation of their budget for welfare benefits, to end up like the countries which had. 

Swedish man evades arrest using a second passport

A Swedish national who allegedly punched a cab driver evaded arrest by leaving Singapore using his second valid passport.

On Mar 16 this year, the foreigner got on to a taxi driven by Mr Mohamed Nor at Orchard Towers in early morning hours past midnight.

The Swede was going to Block 302 in Tampines. Mr Mohamed Nor took the PIE and later turned into Tampines St 31. 

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Singapore’s Central Bank Caught Between a Rock and a Hard Place, 3 Oct 2012

Talk that Singapore’s monetary policy will be eased soon is growing louder as the economy teeters on the brink of recession. Yet, high inflation puts the country’s central bank in a bind and its next policy move is by no means a done deal, economists say.

The Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS), the country’s central bank, is expected to unveil its half-yearly policy statement next week, possibly coinciding with the release of data showing how the economy performed in the third quarter. Full story

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Foreign spouses not counted for foreign worker quota/levy?

I refer to the Ministry of Home Affairs reply “Help available for foreign spouses” (Today, Oct 3) to the letters "Make it easier for foreign spouses of citizens to sink roots" (Sept 26) and "Please make immigration policies more pro-family" (Oct 1, online). 

Not counted in foreign worker quota and no levy 
It states that “Foreign spouses on a Long-Term Visit Pass (LTVP) can apply for work passes if they wish and there are concessions to facilitate their employment.

They are not counted against the foreign worker quota of the company that employs them or subject to the foreign worker levy. 

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In praise of great Sinkie schemes

The last few days have seen many young Sinkies crying out loud and screaming for blood. They are unhappy about the rising property prices. On the other hand, 800,000 Sinkies with HDB flats and many more with private properties are quietly congratulating themselves of their new found fortunes. And many are secretly praising the great schemes that the govt have devised to make them all so rich.

What the young Sinkies did not know or could not understand is that this great scheme of paying forward will also reward them when their time comes. Their parents bought flats at $20k/$30k and are now worth $400k or more. Some bought at $200k and are worth $800k or so. So what is the problem for them to pay a million now when they could see their flats worth several millions later?

Just close the eyes and pay, and good things will happen. Don’t worry. No need to worry. We have the brightest and most talented with the best interest and intent to serve the people managing the schemes. It is all for the good of the people. Be thankful and grateful

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Extreme Ethics Needed 

Not everyone appreciates hearing the bad stuff. NKF volunteer Archie Ong (1997) and aero-modelling instructor Piragasam Singaravelu (1998) were hauled to court for letting it be known the CEO had "squandered monies" by flying First Class.

More recently, a blogger was nearly crucified for making mention of a letter of support an Archbishop had, on his own volition, transmitted to the organizers of a rally regarding the Internal Security Act (ISA). The head of the Catholic Church could have easily quelled the speculative fever by simply releasing the correspondence. If the message is wrong, surely he knows where the confession box is.

The rest of us heathens can only wonder what other flaws in the system lay hidden. 

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