Friday, 15 August 2014

A Look Back On The Past 10 Years

Writing the new Singapore story

The call by a former prime minister for ending one of Lee Kuan Yew’s cornerstone tenets for governing Singapore when he is still alive has got some questions flying.

Goh Chok Tong, who succeeded Lee in 1990, said Singapore needs to forge a new social compact between people and government to replace the old one to avoid a “mid-life crisis”.

In a constituency speech marking the island republic’s 48th National Day, Goh, long believed to be part of the ruling party’s softer faction, spoke of the need to write a new chapter of the Singapore Story. The reason, he said, is that both the external environment and Singaporeans at home have changed.

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The Other Singapore, the one rarely seen


This Post provides glimpses of another Singapore, the less desirable, the seedy, the weird.

To the various people who have sent me photos, captions, videos, etc., thanks! Keep them coming!

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No Such Thing As Poverty In Singapore? Wake Up And Think Again

One day, there was an article about Singaporeans queuing up and buying many masks at one go. When asked why they were buying so many, most said that they were buying them for their friends and family members, and that they did not know when the haze would end.

And, on another day, there was an article about a Singaporean who could not afford a mask, has to cycle to send her children to school every day and sell curry puff in the haze. She could not even afford to switch on the fan, for she wanted to save on the PUB bill.

And in case you're wondering, yes, both articles are in the same national newspaper, not some online news site. What is the first thought that comes to you?

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Strong message and ‘power’ photo from CPIB’s 60th anniversary

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong attending the 60th anniversary celebration of the Corrupt Practices Investigation Bureau with former Prime Ministers Lee Kuan Yew and Goh Chok Tong. (Photo / Kenji Soon, from Lee Hsien Loong Facebook page)

It is a photo that has been going around on Facebook, capturing three of Singapore’s Prime Ministers, past and present, striding along like three leads in the opening credits of a TV show on criminal justice.

Fittingly, they were attending the 60th anniversary celebration of the founding of the Corrupt Practices Investigation Bureau (CPIB) on Tuesday.

"Not so often that all three of us attend a ceremony together,” Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said on his Facebook page, and that probably sums up why the photo has been shared by online users.

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Singapore official jailed in pineapple, wine case

Singapore official jailed in pineapple, wine case: Two senior government officials were imprisoned on Thursday in separate corruption scandals that have dented Singapore’s reputation as one of the world’s least corrupt countries.

Lim Cheng Hoe, 61,  former Ministry of Foreign Affairs head of protocol, received a 15 months jail sentence for inflating expenses for pineapple tarts and wine he bought as gifts for dignitaries, said reports. Forty-year-old Edwin Yeo Seow Hiong an assistant director of the Corrupt Practices Investigation Bureau, received a ten year prison sentence for misappropriating Sg$1.76 million (US$1.4 million) worth of government funds.

Both men had pleaded guilty earlier, according to reports.

Third Security Breach At Woodlands Checkpoint

Driver nabbed in another checkpoint incident

A 33-year-old Malaysian man was arrested yesterday for trying to evade immigration clearance at Woodlands Checkpoint, slightly more than one week after a similar incident occurred. In a similar incident on April 13, Koh Chin Had, 42, tried to slip past immigration officers at the same checkpoint by tailgating the car in front. The two incidents followed two high-profile breaches earlier at Woodlands Checkpoint.

Last month, a Malaysian delivery driver managed to drive off in his Singapore-registered car while undergoing security checks, sparking a five-hour search before he was arrested. Tan Chu Seng, 64, allegedly drove over a cat-claw security barrier that was activated to stop him.

Less than two months earlier, in January, a Malaysian teacher gave immigration officers the slip by tailgating another car at the checkpoint. Nurul Rohana Ishak, 27, was arrested three days later when she entered the Ministry of Foreign Affairs compound.

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Terror Suspect Fled Prison Through Window, Singapore Says

A wanted poster of Mas Selamat bin Kastari, who escaped from prison in February. Singapore has issued a report on the escape

A terrorism suspect who escaped from prison in Singapore two months ago squeezed through an unsecured bathroom window as his guards stood waiting outside the door, the Singapore government said Monday in a long-awaited report.

By letting the water run and hanging a pair of pants over a ledge above the door of a cubicle, the report said, the prisoner gave himself 11 minutes to make his way through the window, shinny down a drainpipe onto a cushion of rolls of toilet paper, climb a fence and disappear.

The report, by a government commission, said the escape on Feb. 27 was the result of “a confluence of factors.” No single person was responsible and there was no evidence that the prisoner had been given inside help, the report said.

Mas Selamat bin Kastari: Escape in February 2008

Wanted posters were visible everywhere in Singapore after his escape, such as this one at Somerset MRT Station

At 4:05 pm on Wednesday, 27 February 2008, the JI leader escaped from the Internal Security Department's Whitley Road Detention Centre where he was being detained. His family were visiting him at the time, and he was being led to a room to meet them when he asked to go to the toilet. He then fled, A massive manhunt comprising personnel from the Singapore Police Force, the Gurkha Contingent, the Police Tactical Unit and the Police National Service Key Installation Protection Unit were deployed in the vicinity of the area immediately after the escape. They were later aided by members of the Singapore Guards and the Singapore Armed Forces Military Police Command, before the operation was wound down over 17 hours later without success in locating the fugitive, who was believed to be unarmed.

Authorities said security was very tight at the detention centre and conducted an independent study to determine how the fugitive escaped. Deputy Prime Minister Wong Kan Seng acknowledged that a security lapse led to his escape, and that everything was being done to recapture Mas Selamat. The Onraet Road facility has armed guards, high wire fences and CCTV cameras. Reactions to the escape were filled with surprise and disbelief in what Western observers describe as a country where "security breaches are virtually unheard of". It brought serious embarrassment to the Singapore government. and many questions raised by the public and the press. Security around the schools in the area was also beefed up to assure worried parents. Indonesia and Malaysia announced that they stepped up their own border security in the wake of this incident. Government authorities received more than 1100 calls on sightings of Mas Selamat. The earliest sighting of him was in a back road near MacRitchie Reservoir leading to Toa Payoh Lorong 1 right behind Braddell View Estates.

An urgent worldwide security alert, or Orange Notice, was issued by INTERPOL to each of its 186 National Central Bureaus following a request from Singapore. The alert was later changed to red.

TV documentary to show Mas Selamat capture

Exclusive footage from Mas Selamat's capture will be shown on TV. (AFP file photo)

Never-before-seen footage of Mas Selamat Kastari's capture will be shown on a television documentary this month.

The 50-year-old Singaporean terrorist detainee, who was recaptured in an early morning raid at Kampung Tawakal in Skudai, Johor two years ago, is the subject of a documentary called "Mas Selamat: The Fugitive Terrorist".

The documentary, which will be aired on Crime & Investigation Network (StarHub Channel 403) on 30 June, traces the hunt for Singapore's head of Jemaah Islamiyah (JI), a regional terrorist group after his escape from detention in 2008. At the time, his escape from the Whitley Road Detention Centre triggered a nearly year-long nationwide hunt in Singapore.

Yaw Shin Leong VS Michael Palmer

Two elected MPs, Yaw Shin Leong and Michael Palmer learned their lesson the hard way in 2012.

One is from the white camp and the other from the blue camp. Yaw’s alleged affair surfaced at the beginning of the year while Palmer’s affair surfaced now at the end of the year.

Here’s a comparision between the two:

The Sheng Siong Kidnapping
Kidnappings were rampant in Singapore in the 1950s and 1960s, with rich towkays being the main targets

Many of the kidnappers were part of secret society gangs, and violent - they confronted the police with guns and grenades.

To put a stop to these threats, the Government amended kidnapping laws and raised the maximum penalty from 10 years to death or life imprisonment.

By the 1970s, the number of kidnaps dropped significantly. These were the five most famous kidnapping cases of the past:
  1. Kidnapping and murder of biscuit king Lee Gee Chong
  2. Kidnapping of Tangs' founder Tang Choon Keng
  3. Kidnapping and murder of shipping tycoon Tay Kie Thay
  4. Kidnapping of movie tycoon Shaw Vee Ming
  5. Kidnapping of rubber magnate Ng Quee Lam
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"Modesty" and "Outrage of Modesty"
817 people were arrested last year, an increase of 30% compared to 2011

More people were arrested for committing crimes on and involving public transport in the last three years.

A total of 817 people were arrested for such crimes last year, an increase of 30 per cent compared to the 625 people arrested in 2011, according to data from the Public Transport Security Committee.

In 2012, 763 people were arrested.

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An Undercurrent Of Fear In Geylang?

Step into some parts of Geylang and you might think that you have just stepped into the set of a gangster movie. Many of its lorongs are a hotbed of vice and crime.

Streetwalkers openly parade in tight clothes despite the presence of surveillance cameras. Nearby, motorcyclists flash their bike lights, a signal that they are interested in buying contraband cigarettes.

Other vices that are part of the landscape of Geylang: Sale of illegal drugs such as codeine and sex pills, and gambling dens.

Myths And Misconceptions About CPF - 5 CPF myths busted
Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Finance Tharman Shanmugaratnam and Manpower Minister Tan Chuan-Jin tackled some common myths and misconceptions about the Central Provident Fund system during Tuesday's Parliament session. -- ST PHOTO: KUA CHEE SIONG

MYTH NO. 1 - Your Minimum Sum keeps going up. Once the Minimum Sum is set for a particular cohort, it does not change. Rather, it has been going up for each new cohort.

For example, someone who turns 55 between July 2014 and June 2015 will need to set aside $155,000. This is more than for the previous cohort, which had to set aside $148,000, but this older cohort's own Minimum Sum has not gone up.

Similarly, for someone who turned 55 five years ago, the Minimum Sum was $117,000 and has not changed. The Minimum Sum has been rising from cohort to cohort over the last decade in order to catch up with what a lower-middle income household would need in their retirement years, taking inflation into account.

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OMG, Another Riot In Singapore!

11 foreign workers charged with rioting at Choa Chu Kang construction site. In the second case to occur here in two weeks, 11 workers were charged on Tuesday with rioting, this time at a construction site in Choa Chu Kang.

According to local media, the workers – four Chinese and seven Bangladeshi nationals – are alleged to have been involved in a fight on Sunday afternoon at the construction site for Rainforest Condominium off Choa Chu Kang Avenue 3.

The Chinese men are between 25 and 46 years of age, while the Bangladeshis are aged between 20 and 28. Each of them were charged with being in an unlawful group in which one or more used violence by punching and kicking members of the other nationality.

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First riot in 40 years rocks peaceful Singapore

Twenty seven people have been arrested following the worst case of civil unrest that Singapore has seen in over four decades, local press reported.

A mob of approximately 400 foreign workers were involved in the riot late on Sunday evening, sparked by a fatal accident involving a 33-year old Indian national who was run over by a private bus in Little India, a Singaporean district that is home to large amounts of Indian and Bangladeshi foreign workers. Ten police officers and four civil defense officers were injured.

The crowd of foreign workers swarmed the bus, chasing the driver – a Singaporean national – and set police vehicles and an ambulance on fire.

Singapore Honours Defence Officials in Little India Riot

Singapore is honouring 10 Home Team frontline officers with commendation medals for their quick response and efforts to control the worst riots in Little India in 40 years involving South Asian workers in the city last year.

Sergeant Khyrul Noor Redhza of the Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF), who was nearly crushed when he went under the bus to pull away the body of an Indian national, was among the recipients of National Day awards.

Assistant Superintendent of Police Jonathan Tang, who rallied his officers to provide security cover for the SCDF officers as they extricated the body of the victim, is also an awardee, The Straits Times said today.

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Bus drivers in Singapore's first strike in 25 years
Foreign workers walk out of their dormitory in Singapore. Singapore Tuesday issued a warning to mainland Chinese bus drivers, who are staging the first strike in the city-state for more than 25 years, an act that could land them in prison
AFP News - Foreign workers walk out of their dormitory in Singapore. Singapore Tuesday issued a warning to mainland Chinese bus drivers, who are staging the first strike in the city-state for more than 25 years, an act that could land them in prison

Singapore Tuesday issued a warning to mainland Chinese bus drivers, who are staging the first strike in the city-state for more than 25 years, an act that could land them in prison.

A total of 102 Chinese drivers working for state-linked transport firm SMRT began their wildcat strike over pay on Monday, refusing to board a shuttle bus from their dormitory to a nearby depot.

An agreement was hammered out to convince them to return to work, but SMRT said more than 60 drivers still did not turn up for duty on Tuesday.

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Good Luck In Misery City: Does Singapore deserve its 'miserable' tag?
Singapore's reputation as a wealthy, aspirational and hi-tech country ensures it attracts a great deal of foreign talent - so why is it labelled the world's least positive country?

One morning the nausea finally got the better of me just as I had stepped on to a packed train. Worried I was going to faint, I crouched to the floor, holding my head in my hands.

And so I remained, completely ignored, for the full 15 minutes it took to reach my station. Nobody offered me seat or asked me if I was OK.

For the first time Singapore had made me feel unhappy. I had been vulnerable - completely reliant on the kindness of strangers. Singaporeans, I felt, had let me down.

Recent Train Disruptions: Stalled train causes hour-long disruption on Circle Line

A Circle Line train stalled between Tai Seng and Bartley stations at 8.05am on Friday (Aug 8), causing major crowds at Bishan and Serangoon stations and affecting the service intervals between trains toward Harbourfront station for about an hour.

In a statement on its official Facebook page, SMRT said: "The stalled train was driven by a Station Staff to Bartley, where passengers were detrained. Our commuters resumed their journey on the next trains."

While full services along the Circle Line resumed at around 8.14am, the stalled train meant further delays to trains behind the vehicle. Normal headway between trains was restored at around 9.19am, the operator said.

Public Transport Council announces fare increase of whopping 3.2%!

The Public Transport Council (PTC) has approved a fare increase of 3.2 per cent on train and bus fares from April 6 this year. Adult card fares for buses and trains will go up by 4 to 6 cents per journey. Senior citizens will pay 2 to 3 cents more per journey, while students pay 2 cents more. -- ST FILE PHOTO: ALPHONSUS CHERN

The Public Transport Council (PTC) has approved a fare increase of 3.2 per cent on train and bus fares from April 6 this year.

Adult card fares for buses and trains will go up by 4 to 6 cents per journey. Senior citizens will pay 2 to 3 cents more per journey, while students pay 2 cents more.

Cash fares for train and adult bus rides will go up by 20 cents per trip, while senior citizen and student concessionary cash fares for bus rides will increase by 10 cents per trip.

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Housing Woes: HDB maisonette bucks price trend, selling for record $1.05m

An HDB maisonette in Bishan sold for a record-breaking $1.05million last month, despite declining resale prices overall.

The price for the property was $250,000 over its valuation, easily trumping the median cash- over-valuation (COV) across the island of just $5,000. The 150 sq m unit is on the 20th floor in a block near Bishan MRT. Its prime location and status as a rare maisonette contributed to its record price, said Dennis Wee Realty property agent Thomas Hee, who brokered the deal. The new owners, a "young professional couple", declined to be interviewed.

It was the fourth HDB property to sell for at least $1 million last year. The others were another Bishan Street 13 maisonette, which went for $1.01 million, a $1 million Toh Yi Drive maisonette, and a rare corner terrace house in Whampoa that fetched $1.02 million. The terrace house is one of just 285 "landed" public homes built by HDB's predecessor, the Singapore Improvement Trust.

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Hospitals Facing Severe Bed Crunch

Back to Third World from First in health care? Hardly! The Workers' Party secretary-general and Aljunied GRC MP, a veteran of Budget debates since 1992, aimed straight for the weak spot in the Ministry of Health: the shortage of public hospital beds and long waiting times at emergency wards.

He referred to a front-page report in this newspaper in January which recounted how one hospital put up an air-conditioned tent for patients waiting for a hospital bed, and said: "The hospital bed crunch, together with the public transport crunch and the riot in Little India is a star example of Third World problems in First World Singapore."

He could not resist another dig: "One certainly hopes that Singapore does not make history by going from Third World to First, and back to Third within one generation."

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Health Cost: Rising cost blamed for fee increases at public hospitals

In the past six months, other public hospitals and several specialist medical centres also increased their out-patient consultation fees, Lianhe Zaobao reported.

Khoo Teck Puat Hospital, National University Hospital and KK Women's and Children's Hospital increased their fees at the end of last year. Singapore General Hospital, the Institute of Mental Health, Alexandra Hospital and Changi General Hospital increased their fees earlier this year.

The Chinese language newspaper checked with the eight public hospitals and found that the increases were not uniform.

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Employment Woes: As long as you are an employee, be very afraid

Yes, you are an employee, in the private sector or in govt service, as long as you earn a living by working for an organisation, you must take note of the predicament you can be in. Even if you are a top civil servant or a CEO in the private sector, if you did not accumulate enough wealth for your children to live off the inheritance, think of what would happen to them when they cannot compete for a job with foreigners.

Think of what would happen to them when they can’t even get a decent job to live a decent life. This is the plight of Sinkies in the coming years when the island is filled with foreigners and foreigners turned citizens. They are not going to be kind to you or your children and grandchildren if you do not stop this trend of letting the foreigners to take over your country. Your generosity is idiotic. It is critical time and time is running out if we do not put a stop to the influx while we still can.

Increasing population is NOT the only way to growth and well being of a people. That is a sure way of self destruct. Everything just go up with the rise in demand. So the cleaners should be laughing and very happy that they are earning 4 figure salary. Of course you know that it is a delusion. The money is shrinking rapidly by this unsustainable formula of inflation, of inflating the price of everything with the influx of more and more people. There are other ways to provide a better life to the people than population growth.

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"Worst-case Scenario" Of A 6.9 Million Population: 8m population by 2030?

Earlier this year, Singaporeans balked at the idea of having 6.9 million people on our tiny island. But some experts, including Dr Parag Khanna, Senior Fellow at the Singapore Institute of International Affairs, has said that Singapore can fit 8 million or more by 2030.

That is, if urban planning plays its part in spreading out the load.

"There is a much more physically devolved Singapore in which the towns play a much stronger role, in which there's much more local economic activity and vibrancy, in which everyone is not cramping down into Orchard or CBD every single day. And that Singapore can most certainly accommodate a couple million more people."

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Integration Woes

You can take an immigrant out of his country, but can you take his country out of him?

Not by quite a long shot, it would seems

Just three more reasons below to remind the govt just why it has to really think through very carefully the implications and ramifications of its open door policy to the mass influx of immigrants:




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Expats in the news: Are you an offensive expat?
Justin Bieber raised fist police station arrest
Thousands of Americans want Canadian pop singer Justin Bieber - pictured here after getting arrested - deported from their country Photo: Joe Raedle/Getty Images

When moving to a new country, it's common sense not to bad-mouth it or behave like a yob. But there are many less obvious ways to get off on the wrong foot ... It seems expats have been causing offence all over the place lately.

More than 100,000 citizens of the United States signed a petition asking President Obama to deport pop star Justin Bieber back to Canadaafter his recent run-ins with the law, including allegations of drag racing, impaired driving and assault.

That came after a similar petition to get British television host Piers Morgan deported for criticising America’s gun laws. Meanwhile, wealthy British businessman in Singapore Anton Casey caused outrage after mocking poor people and calling a taxi driver a retard in posts on his Facebook page. Not only did that result in a petition – he also received death threats and ended up getting fired and leaving the country.

Our SG education: Singapore seems to be a "Workforce Oriented". What is the purpose of work?

It was a leading question posed by a journalist to Daw Aung San Suu Kyi in her first visit to Singapore: what aspects of the Lion City might “The Lady” like to recreate in Myanmar? The question seemed fairly innocuous, albeit arguably loaded. The Nobel Peace Prize laureate dodged the bullet and fired a salvo of her own.

“I don’t think ‘recreate’ is the word, ‘learn’ yes,” said Ms Suu Kyi.

Singapore’s “work-oriented” education system, for example, leaves something to be desired.

Singapore is ‘World’s Costliest City To Live In’

Rising costs for expatriates mostly due to appreciation of Singapore dollar, says Asia Competitiveness Institute

Following a study earlier this month that ranked Singapore as the costliest city for expatriates to live in, the Asia Competitiveness Institute (ACI) is considering the creation of a new affordability index to better reflect the cost of living for average citizens.

This index will cover four areas which affect average citizens the most, such as healthcare, edcuation, housing and transport, said ACI Co-Director Tan Khee Giap, allowing the Government to monitor costs of living and plan subsidies in a sustainable way.

He was speaking to the press during a conference where the Institute showed research results indicating that Singapore is only 60th in the world in terms of cost of living for average residents.

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Coping with Inflation & Cost Of Living
The government will provide $360 million of additional support to help households especially lower-income groups and retirees cope with their cost of living

There will be a special GST Voucher - Cash: Seniors' Bonus for Singaporeans aged 55 and above - effectively doubling the amount usually received.

Finance Minister, Tharman Shanmugaratnam explains:." Older Singaporeans are broadly most affected by increase in cost of living, especially retirees with little or no incomes."

The amount they will receive range from $100 to $250 depending on an assessable income of up to $26,000.

Oops, The Economy Broke: Reasons for Singapore’s Inflation Scare

Did you have breakfast this morning? I sure as hell didn’t. Or rather I did, but then I read the news and upchucked four hot cakes from sheer shock. The consumer price index was at 5.2% in March, and may hit 6%. Our inflation’s growing faster than my waistline, and I’m Singapore’s most popular model…for the “Before” pictures in weight loss ads. But what’s causing our economy to bloat like Steven Segal after 40? Read on and find out:

How Bad Is Our Inflation?

The consumer price index (CPI) checks the price difference of a market basket of goods over time. So a CPI of 5.2% suggests, in a very simplified way, that most of what you buy will cost 5.2% more. Unless you’ve gotten a matching raise in your pay, it means you now have less money. And apart from everything costing more, the inflation eats into your bank savings. Your bank’s interest rate (even for fixed and structured deposits) are nowhere near the 5.2% inflation. So if you have a savings deposit, you may as well lock your money in a room with a lighter and an arsonist.

Singapore “Swiss” Standard of Living


While the report has some compelling arguments for the 6.9m population figure projected, we all know it is based mainly on economic considerations. Had we focused on things like building a cohesive nation with a strong national identity, the outcome would likely be very different.

I feel the time has come for us to find a better balance between economic growth and social cohesion and yes there will have to be tradeoffs of economic growth but I would rather trade some of these for a cohesive, united nation where people feel taken care of at home and are confident of their future. I am not saying we go for low or no growth. Instead I am willing to adjust my growth expectations for a more comfortable life for all Singaporeans. I am confident we will still be able to pursue respectable economic growth when companies and Singaporeans are faced with a situation of tightened labour availability by focusing on improving ourselves through productivity and higher value capabilities. Finland and other small nations have done, we can do it too. 

Our past decade of rapid population growth has already created too many problems which need to be solved first before we take the next step. I call on the government to take a breather for five years, solve all the problems created by the past policies of rapid economic and population growth. We can safely say that we have failed to achieve the goal set by the then Prime Minister Goh Chok Tong, of a Swiss standard of living for most Singaporeans, except for the higher income Singaporeans including foreigners who just recently decided to make Singapore their home. So I call for a breather in this quest of growing the population and focus on improving the lives of Singaporeans and achieve that promised Swiss Standard of living for most Singaporeans first before we plan our next growth trajectory.

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Support for the Needy and Elderly: 450,000 seniors eligible for Pioneer Generation Package: PM Lee
450,000 seniors eligible for Pioneer Generation Package: PM Lee
Mr Lee was speaking to about 1,500 Singaporeans who were invited to the Pioneer Generation Tribute Party at the Istana on Sunday morning

Mr Lee said the package will focus on healthcare benefits as the subject is at the top of the minds of older Singaporeans. He said the package will give extra financial support in three important areas.

The premiums for MediShield Life will be lower than that of MediShield for the pioneer generation, and the sums are being worked out. For outpatient treatment, they will enjoy extra subsidies at polyclinics, specialist outpatient clinics and general practitioners (GPs) under the Community Health Assist Scheme. They will also get annual top-ups to their Medisave accounts, which can help pay for MediShield Life premiums.

These benefits will be provided for life, and those who are older will get more.

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Callings for a Poverty Line: We don't need poverty line to help the poor
Singapore is past the point where a poverty line is useful, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong indicated yesterday, as its groups of needy now take shifting and multi-faceted form

Hence, the Government's "kueh lapis" approach to social assistance, he said, summoning a metaphor that Minister of Social and Family Development Chan Chun Sing used to describe the multi-layered help it provides to those in need.

Speaking to reporters after a Commonwealth summit in Sri Lanka, Mr Lee weighed in for the first time on recent calls to establish a poverty line in Singapore, after Hong Kong did so in September.

He said that a poverty line like the World Bank's measure of $1.50 a day was irrelevant in Singapore as there are no "dead poor" here, by which he means those who are starving and unsheltered.

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A minimum wage for Singapore?: Prof Koh continues to voice his support for minimum wage

Speaking to reporters at his book launch at the end of last month (30 Oct), Singapore’s ambassador-at-large Professor Tommy Koh continued to voice his support for a minimum wage or other strengthened measures to help Singapore’s poorest

Poverty in Singapore should not be ignored, Prof Koh felt.

“We all feel that it is not good for Singapore to have such a huge gap between the rich and the poor,” he said, referring to public intellectuals who speak on the topic collectively.

“It will eventually threaten our unity and cohesion, and it is certainly a source of concern to our moral conscience because we all aspire to Singapore being a good nation – and a good nation is one that doesn’t tolerate such a high degree of disparity.”

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Fighting the Haze: Only rain can help Singapore now

Fire hazard: An aerial photo shows forest fires in Riau on Thursday. The US National Ocean and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) satellite has detected 148 fires throughout the province (Antara/Virna Puspa Setyorini)

As haze from forest fires in Sumatra wreaked havoc on the prosperous city-state of Singapore, Indonesian government has suggested an imminent downpour as the only way to bring an end to the crisis.

Forestry Ministry general secretary Hadi Daryanto said on Thursday that Indonesia could not guarantee that necessary measures taken to combat the fires would be effective without a miracle in the form of a heavy downpour.

Hadi quoted a forecast from the Meteorology, Climatology and Geophysics Agency (BMKG), which predicted a downpour on June 28.

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Heavy flash floods hit Singapore again

A picture posted on Facebook shows cars being stranded along the Ayer Rajah Expressway during one of the recent flash-floods

For many people, the sight of all four city-bound lanes of the Ayer Rajah Expressway submerged just over a week ago would have triggered a thought along the lines of: "Isn't this sort of thing only supposed to happen once every 50 years?"

This half-century time-frame entered the national consciousness in 2009, when then minister for the environment and water resources Yaacob Ibrahim said the flooding in Orchard Road that year was a "freak event" that happened once every 50 years.

Dr Yaacob was referring specifically amount of rainfall that caused the flood although his quote that is now dredged up every time there is a flood (and there have been several) as proof of how badly the authorities misjudged the flood risk here.

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Immodest Anti-Social Behaviours: Lady caught defecating @ Holland V MRT station
It showed a half-naked lady, squatting and defecating in public, at a MRT station, said to be the Holland Village station on Circle Line. A check showed that the photo has already been circulating widely on the Net

Finding this to be too incredible to believe that it’s happening here in modern-day Singapore in this age, TRE sent a volunteer correspondent down to Holland Village to investigate.

The correspondent confirmed that the said photo was, indeed, taken at Holland Village MRT station. There is a money changer, Bena Traders (on ground floor of Holland Road Shopping Centre), situated just directly opposite where the incident occurred.

Our correspondent asked the money changer if he saw anything unusual yesterday (13 Aug). He told TRE that in fact, something did happen yesterday during lunchtime at the said spot. He said that apparently someone was “shitting” there during lunchtime. Unfortunately, he was out for lunch and didn’t see the incident himself.