Saturday 25 June 2011

You have to accept the fact

Describing Presidential hopeful Tony Tan as an "eminently" suitable candidate, incumbent President S R Nathan urged Singaporeans to remember - when they vote for their Elected President - how the country arrived at where it is today. 

Speaking on the sidelines of a book launch yesterday, Mr Nathan reiterated that voters have to understand what is in the best interest of the Republic. 

Said Mr Nathan, who will decide within the next fortnight whether to seek another term: "One of the things you must remember is that with all these gripes that you hear, people forget how we have arrived to this stage in our country."

He added: "Could it have been done without the Government? That's my question. Much has been achieved. There are probably faults that have to be remedied, but we just can't distance ourselves from the Government."

Monday 20 June 2011

My two cents is that high ministerial salaries should stay

I was curious to read what CEOs had to say about the Ministerial Salary Review (Finding the right balance, Business Times – 30 May 11) but alas, much like feedback from the common man, not a single mention was made of the personal sacrifices the job demands.

Everyone assumes Ministers are missile grade androids who do not sleep and have no need for love and companionship.  With the newfound need to maintain an effective social media presence, has anyone spared a thought for their mental, emotional and physical health?  Top Bankers, Lawyers and Accountants can pick and choose while most of us are able to enjoy a five-day workweek. Ministers are no less human and deserve the high compensation in lieu of the precious lost family time.  I do wonder if PM Lee has truly had a day off with the family since he took office.

The salary review committee should follow the Ministers 24/7 to understand the daily demands and personal effort expended by them.  What time do they wake up? Are they checking emails/sms when they should have breakfast with the family?  Do they attend meetings every day or all day?  When do they meet constituents or reply to emails?  What time do they return home to eat with the family and do they still check emails late into the night?  Do they get quality time with their family and friends?

As it is, the present ministerial salaries is about 70 per cent of the benchmark – it has never reached 100 per cent, thus Ministers have never been fully compensated since the benchmark (two-thirds of median incomes) was introduced.

Friday 17 June 2011

72,289 Singaporeans will live and regret that George Yeo will not be President

So George, as expected, decided not to run for President this August, but maybe 5 Augusts from now, there could be redemption for the people who gave him that choice to make in the first place.

Monday 13 June 2011

Everybody wants a flat in a convenient location...

I was appalled to read Gladys Chung’s reflections on housing for first time couples looking for their first homes (We want a flat in a convenient location…The Sunday Times, 12 Jun -see article below). She lamented that she and her fiancĂ© were not able to secure a Build-to-Order (BTO) flat in a mature estate and would not try again unless it was in areas they favour.

She dismisses the higher chances of snarling a more affordable flat in an outlying estate as she sees little value in buying a home for a lower price but end up spending more on transport. The couple even contemplated moving overseas, do they realize the costs of housing in vibrant cities such as Hong Kong, Shanghai, London or New York, one would struggle just to pay the rent while buying property is out of the question for most people.

Her suggestion on allowing first-time home owners to rent out the whole flat without having to wait out the 5 years minimum occupation period (MOP) in order that her finance and herself can use the rental income to eventually buy another home near their parents is ridiculous and clearly contrary to the idea that HDB flats are for owner-occupation and not meant for speculation and profit. Too many first-time couples have this notion of buying a new HDB flat without ever wanting to make it their home, they invariably contribute to the current demand and potential housing glut.

While everybody wants a home in a convenient location, it is virtually impossible in land scarce Singapore and who is to say that ulu locations such as Sengkang or Punggol would not be bustling estates in future.

However, I do agree with her other suggestion on sacrificing some Government land parcels in mature estates for BTO flats instead of selling to private developers. The Government must learn to lose and give in sometimes instead of being kiasu and always going after the best deal.

Gladys, is sadly part of a generation that demands (not wants) instant gratification while showing little determination to succeed. If they don't get what they want, they threaten to leave Singapore instead, former Minister Mah Bow Tan can, at last, afford a smile after reading this self-serving article.

Sunday 12 June 2011

Words of Wisdom

Some people are only happy when they're complaining. Create a cure for cancer, and people will be barely be finished congratulating you before they're inquiring about one for the common cold. Everyone knows a parent who will look over their child's report, see nine A*s and just focus on the B in P.E. This is the 'Yeah, but ...' generation. Give the people what they want, and invariably they'll want more.
Jacob Steinberg,

Friday 10 June 2011

Why You Should Always Do Your Homework

OR have egg on your face.

Former senior minister S Jayakumar spoke to the media after the launch of his book "Diplomacy: A Singapore Experience", Prof Jayakumar said he was "surprised and disappointed at statements made by some potential candidates on what they would do if elected as the next president".

Prof Jayakumar was involved in drafting the White Papers and constitutional amendments on the Elected Presidency when he was the law minister in the 1980s.

He said some candidates seem to imply that the president is a separate centre of power, distinct from the government and that he has certain executive powers. Prof Jayakumar said this is not the case.

He said: "The president does have some discretionary custodial powers in a few areas, mainly the protection of reserves and key appointments."

He also has some custodial powers over detentions under the Internal Security Act, Corrupt Practices Investigation Bureau (CPIB) investigations and the Maintenance of Religious Harmony restraining orders, said Prof Jayakumar.

He added: "But even in those few areas, the president has no power to initiate decisions or policy. He only has blocking powers. 

"Other than those specified areas, in all other areas, the president under the Constitution must act on the advice of the Cabinet. That is the clear legal position." 

Prof Jayakumar said it would be good if Singaporeans, especially candidates, are clear about the role of the president - what he can do and what he cannot do. "Otherwise, there may be wrong expectations about the role of the president, and we should avoid that," he added.

Prof Jayakumar’s comments on the role of the elected president also echoed the argument made by President SR Nathan.

Speaking at the end of his state visit in Mauritius on Tuesday, Mr Nathan reminded those who wish to see a more aggressive President as a check on the government that the role is one circumscribed by the Constitution.

When asked about the comparisons of his tenure with that of his predecessor, the late Mr Ong Teng Cheong who had disagreements with the PAP government over the presidential powers, he said, “I know the limitations of the Constitution and what you have to do. I am not there in a boxing match.”

72,289 minus 3 Singaporeans want George Yeo to be President

or is it just minus 1, read below article in The Straits Times today, 10 Jun 2011

Post on George Yeo 'a fake'
Ex-teacher says she's victim of impersonation

RETIRED teacher Joan Fong, daughter of the late finance minister Hon Sui Sen, believes she was a victim of cyberspace impersonation, with an Internet post in her name attacking her former student George Yeo.

Mrs Fong, 68, told The Straits Times yesterday she was not behind a post found on the socio-political website The Online Citizen (TOC), which questioned the former foreign minister’s sincerity in running for the elected presidency.

Mrs Fong said: ‘I am furious. George Yeo was my student. I remember him as a brilliant boy. Why would I say these things of him?

‘Maybe some people critical of George Yeo found out that I know him and wanted to use me to attack him and to sway the public with falsehoods about him.’

Mrs Fong said she taught general paper and physics during Mr Yeo’s pre-university years (1971-1972) at St Joseph’s Institution.

She later taught at Raffles Junior College until she retired in 2003.

Now a writer of school textbooks, Mrs Fong said she learnt about the alleged impersonation last weekend when a friend sent her an e-mail that referred to three Internet posts, penned under the names of Jenny Hu, Jane Ho and Joan Hon.

Joan Hon is Mrs Fong’s maiden name.

All were critical of Mr Yeo, 56, and questioned if he would be suitable as president.

The post penned in her name read: ‘I am a Christian, and I don’t believe George Yeo is sincere. If he is, then he would just pray but not (sic) telling the whole world about it.’

The post noted how Mr Yeo had said, a few days after being voted out of his Aljunied GRC seat during the May 7 polls, that he did not think he was ‘temperamentally suited’ for the presidency as he considered himself ‘a free spirit’.

On June 1, Mr Yeo said in a Facebook post that he was mulling over whether to run, after receiving numerous requests from people to reconsider, and was ‘thinking hard about it and praying for wisdom’.

His supporters collected application forms for an eligibility certificate for him on Monday, shortly before he flew off to Taiwan. Mr Yeo said in another Facebook post that day that he hoped to make a decision in two weeks.

He has declined all media interviews on this matter.

Wednesday 8 June 2011

President Nathan in Top Form

President S R Nathan says he has not decided if he will run for a third term in office, adding that age is a factor.

President Nathan, 87, was speaking to Singapore media at the end of his state visit to Mauritius on Tuesday.

Potential candidates have stepped up to the plate in the contest for the presidency.

But the President himself is in no hurry.

Mr Nathan said: "When I decide, I will tell you."

But age will be one factor for Mr Nathan, who will be 87 years old on July 3.

He said: "People say ’this old man, what the hell is he still there, wanting to do it?’ Some others think I’m doing nothing, so it’s a waste of time for them to think of me.

"But all this noise will always be there in the world. You have a sense of what you want to do and you just do it because if you listen to the world, your work will never be done."

I say what the hell are you waiting for, just run Sir!!

Which Village Did She Come From

This was not reported in local newspapers but was captured in a Channel News Asia report. Watching it on TV disturbed me but then again it's no surprise coming from the SDP.

Speaking at a Forum titled "What Youth Want" organised by the Institute of Policy Studies, the SDP's Michelle Lee reading cautiously from her supplied script said: "Singapore is at a place in history where it could establish for generations to come, its place as a cultural and social capital of Asia. If we get it wrong, we could end up regressing into a grim world."

Well, it can only get grimmer if they keep picking up these idiots!!

This post is not about Nicole Seah, but as expected, she wasn't all that convincing either at the forum.

Tuesday 7 June 2011

Points to Ponder for HDB

The aim as it has always been is to buy a first-time HDB flat at low prices (at low interest rate) and then sell after 5 years to make a profit regardless whether people need a flat or not (it's your entitlement!! as many will advise). These buyers form a significant part of the population fuelling the demand for new flats and the general unhappiness with housing matters.

Minister Khaw approximated about 15,000 first marriages a year with 70% of new couples getting their homes via HDB’s BTO flats. He has since tasked HDB to ramp up BTO development to 25,000 flats this year to quell the demand and clear backlog, however, should we keep building so many flats yearly and will Singapore eventually run out of space to build public flats? As more private condominiums are completed within the next three years, will there be more supply than demand and who do we expect to live in them?

Let's assume from the yearly 15,000 first marriages, we have 30,000 sets of parents from the married couples leaving the nest, let's also assume all come from two child families so eventually when all the children get married we will end up with thousands of new HDB flats and lots of elderly parents living alone in the old HDB flats. Thus, while building more flats solves the housing shortage now, it will eventually lead to another problem of old flats and neglected parents.

The following suggestions might be useful to MND.

a)  HDB may want to explore the possibility of combining the selective en-bloc with BTO in mature estates. This will surely be a boon to both old and new residents. For example there are many 10-12 storey flat estates which can be accommodated in 5 blocks out of 10 (30-40 storey flat) in an en-bloc exercise, that way the Government can maximize and re-plan urban space while offering older estates a mid-life upgrading and no doubt pleasing the lucky new flat owners (many will want to stay close to family). The old plot can similarly be reused for housing or to introduce new amenities to enhance the estate overall.

b)  Re-look urban planning in Singapore and through selective en-bloc exercises, remake old estates with integrated facilities such as schools, Polyclinics, transport, sports facilities, shopping malls, markets and office clusters to support a mini population. It will cost money but will be money well spent and appreciated by the people notwithstanding the continual boost to the construction sector.

c)  Offer a new variation of the Married Child Priority Scheme, instead of allotting double chances to new flats applications, the HDB should facilitate the sale and re-sale of an existing flat between parents and their married children. The parents will sell their flat at market valuation to the HDB and HDB in turn re-sells the flat to the married couple at the same price but with first time interest loan rate. This allows the aged parents to cash-out on their flat and allow them to still stay in the same flat (estate) while the newly weds get their instant home and carry out their filial duties.  Conditions such as a minimum 5-Year Occupation period will apply. To sweeten the deal, the married couple may be given a $40k cash-back (i.e. Family Grant –but not to CPF) which they can immediately use to renovate their (old to new) flat.

d)  The previous suggestion is also another variation to the Lease Buyback Scheme (LBS). The current LBS eligibility criteria does not apply to most middle income Singaporeans and I believe the scheme only appeals to people who have no family, charity or beloved pet to leave their fortune to.

e)  To boost the national fertility rate, the Government may consider introducing a “nanny bonus” given to every household with a newborn child living with a grandparent. The amount could be $400 a month given out till the child reaches age 7 (Primary One).

Finally MND should put an end to the debate on pricing of new HDB flats by providing a detailed breakdown of costs, including land, construction and miscellaneous fees. Without undermining the private developers, such disclosure will surely eliminate another hot election potato.

Thursday 2 June 2011

72,289 Singaporeans want George Yeo to be President

But if they really think that highly of George, shouldn't they have voted for him in the first place.

I would rather George join Google and be its Asia-Pacific Chief or be Singapore's Permanent Representative to the UN instead, that would really suit his temperament.


It has become commonplace for ambulances and emergency vehicles to be delayed by uncooperative drivers and while it is clearly an offence, I am disappointed that there could actually be divided views.

Most drivers will give way immediately or at the earliest opportunity, however, I am flabbergasted that some actually moan that ambulance drivers sometimes abuse their wailing sirens - while it wouldn't kill you, the person in the ambulance might get killed!

Some educated folks even devise different options to clear traffic, I say all drivers should just get out of the way as soon as practicable before Karma hits you!!

Wednesday 1 June 2011

The Key to Happiness can be found at 3.49....

minutes into this video.