Tuesday, November 27, 2012

SMRT bus drivers' strike

It's interesting how the SMRT bus drivers strike has evolved. When I first read ST's headline "SMRT bus drivers protest against pay", I was surprised that they didn't call it a strike. I went online and found out that other papers also didn't mention word of a strike. This puzzled me to the point I had to go to dictionary.com to check if my understanding of the word is still correct.
strike (noun) a concerted stopping of work or withdrawal of workers' services, as to compel an employer to accede to workers' demands or in protest against terms or conditions imposed by an employer.
By refusing to call a strike a strike, one really has to wonder what these newspapers are trying to do. Mr Brown also made fun of the choice of words.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Get over the anti-foreigner and xenophobic mentality

Within the community, though, Mr Lee said there are "troubling signs". He spoke of disputes among fellow Singaporeans, and something a little bit more difficult to manage -- relations between Singaporeans and new arrivals.

The prime minister said: "I think it's fair enough to express concern or disagree with our immigration trends or oppose our immigration policies. That's part of the democratic debate.

"But I am worried by some of the nasty views which are expressed -- especially online and especially anonymously. When a foreigner says or does something wrong, especially to a Singaporean, response is overwhelming.

"But bad Singaporean behaviour often goes uncriticised and a good deed by a foreigner often goes unnoticed."

Mr Lee said such incidents reflect badly on Singaporeans, damage Singapore's international reputation and give the impression that the country is anti-foreigner and xenophobic.

He called on both Singaporeans and new arrivals to show a generosity of spirit to one another. "New arrivals must also embrace our values, commit themselves to Singapore and integrate into our community," he added.

Source: http://www.channelnewsasia.com/stories/singaporelocalnews/view/1222260/1/.html

Get over the anti-foreigner and xenophobic mentality.

The situation has been with us for so many years already, and will continue to exist into the future. Looking at our fertility rate, it's not too far in the future for Singapore to reach a 1:1 ratio of Singaporeans vs Foreigners.

So prepare yourself for that likely scenario.

Most people are still harping on this issue when they should have moved on long time ago.

Better get used to the reality and future now.

A Cyclists Eye View of Singapore Roads

Cyclist killed in collision with lorry

Stephen Choy: My Friend is Dead

So some cyclist died and his friend wrote to the minister asking for a 1.5m bicycle lane.

If you watch the video above and think that drivers are driving badly, perhaps you've missed the point. They are driving normally, badly is the normally in Singapore.

Drivers do not give a damn about bicyclists on the roads. They don't care about other drivers. They even ignore basic stuff like signalling before changing lanes.

If a traffic accident happens, it's just a traffic accident. It's not a criminal offense. You break an arm or leg, or lose your life in a worst case scenario but the driver will only get a fine, maybe have their driving license suspended.

I will be surprised if the cyclist who posted the video don't die on the road if he/she continues riding like that. Not through his/her own fault, but you can never underestimate how callousness drivers can be.

How many more should die before action is taken?

As many as it takes to make it statistically significant.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

The true cause of Singaporeans not wanting babies

Everything's changed.

It sure has. Singapore today has higher cost of living, higher population density and a more stressful life as a result of those two.

Articles online have been popping up regarding the fertility rate.

Even LKY recently said, "If we go on like that, this place will fold up, because there'll be no original citizens left to form the majority, and we cannot have new citizens, new PRs to settle our social ethos, our social spirit, our social norms. So my message is a simple one. The answer is very difficult but the problems, if we don't find the answers, are enormous," said Mr Lee.

So what's the cause?

It's definitely not the stressful education system. Singaporean's don't think that long term. When you want to have a baby, it's unreasonable to predict what will happen in the future.

Is it the cost of living?

In the past, I thought it was not. People who want to have babies will have them anyway. But nowadays, I've changed my mind after looking at the inflation and home prices.

I went to PropertyGuru.com.sg and did a search for a 2 bedroom HDB flat. It's around $300,000. With a 30 year loan, you'll be paying $833 per month (not including interest). Is that good or bad? Depends on how much you're earning, and how much you want to pay for your flat.

But recently, I've changed my mind again. I wondered if there's a radical way to sell HDB flats at cost price. Would it affect the fertility rate? People will have more cash to get themselves a bigger place, a more conducive place to have kids. Or will people take the money and go for more holidays? It's the latter that made me change my mind.

Do the educated people today want more time for themselves or for babies?

Babies are important to Singapore. With a per capita of $49,270 (in 2012), third in the world, each baby is worth that much. And every baby essentially guarantees GDP growth because of consumption that comes from education, housing and the basic necessities of life. The baby is Singapore's most important GDP unit. People are.

More importantly, each baby will have a higher chance of staying in Singapore, thereby locking the money used to buy housing in Singapore. If there's going to be too many non-Singaporeans, chances of money flowing out the country is higher, and more significant. This happens when people don't want to retire in Singapore. And Singapore isn't a good place to retire in.

So up until now, we still don't really know the cause of the low fertility rate. Someone should interview people on the ground to find out the true cause. The answer is going to be very interesting.
The significant problems we have cannot be solved at the same level of thinking with which we created them. - Albert Einstein.

Thursday, August 2, 2012


And so it has began, making videos to help improve birthrate.

Here's a serious video.

And here's a not so serious video.

I don't sense that Singapore is that desperate yet. Yes, the birthrate numbers are incredibly bad. But until I see some policy changes, I can't say that Singapore is serious enough to tackle the problem.

For goodness sakes, start with making housing prices affordable. Sell them at a profit over cost, sure, but don't peg it to the market. If buyers want to resell their flats, have them sell back to HDB at the same price.

If you have more money to spend on a larger home, then it's more likely to have more children. Heck, you'll even have more time to spend on them too because you won't be so busy working for money to pay off your HDB debt. I just went to a friend's new home and it wasn't big considering the price. If it were me, I'll not have more than one children given the space. Never.

In the meantime, keep making videos and websites. I'm sure they will have a great return on investment.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Treat Singapore like a hotel and all the complaints go away

Even new citizens and expats think Singapore is having problems. Are you listening Sir?
Singapore must pause and reflect

If you treat Singapore like a hotel, there won't be so much complaints.

The issue is citizens do believe and wish that Singapore is their home.

Will 6 months of maternity leave for mums work?

From Straits Times, 22 Jul 2012

This is an incredible push for more babies. You can almost sense the desperation. But we're not that desperate yet. Not yet anyway.

It's quite incredulous to imagine that this would work.

If you're running a business, there will be a huge disincentive not to hire these women. Of course, you won't be able to predict in advance who would be pregnant but that's always going to be on your mind when you hire people.

For big companies, it might not be so much on the financial expense, but more on who would cover the work left behind by the mum-to-be? Would the boss pay double and hire another part-timer because the job important and can't be left unattended?

A company exists only to make money. It just doesn't make any business sense to pay someone who's not working.

I suppose if this is implement, then women in the civil service will benefit most from it since the government has to walk the talk.

A more flexible work-hour would be more helpful.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Lucky STOMP staff got sacked over SMRT train door photo

Reference: Stomp staff sacked over false 'MRT open door photo'

In a potential legal situation, you never ever say sorry or admit liability — e.g. in a traffic accident.

You know how bad it is when SPH apologizes. The lady is so lucky she's protected by Company Law and only got fired.

And this isn't technically citizen journalism as the lady is an employee.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Should we watch our students master the skills that are needed for the next 20 to 30 years

A call to relearn how we teach our children

Now the Education minister has come back to say that parents need new methods to teach their children.

So I was right in my previous article, parents are becoming more stupid.

In actual words of Education Minister Heng Swee Keat:
"The question for us really is: Do we want to stick to syllabus and teaching methods that we are used to as parents when we were students 20 to 30 years ago, or should we watch our students master the skills that are needed for the next 20 to 30 years of their life?"
What specifically are those skills that you are talking about?

Do you see people using advanced math in our daily life?

Sunday, May 20, 2012

DPM Teo on Workers' Party Hougang by-election

Workers' Party Hougang by-election rally 

DPM Teo questions if Hougang voters being taken for granted 

Just some comments on the lines from DPM Teo
Mr Teo said the Workers' Party has now put up another candidate, and its secretary-general Low Thia Khiang is acting as if "nothing has happened" and is "pulling on the emotions" of voters.
 Shouldn't we just move on? Isn't that what we did when Mas Selamat escaped?
"If he was their best man, why didn't they choose him?" Mr Teo asked.
 Because he isn't the best man then. That's why he wasn't chosen.
"Is it possible that they are pulling on your emotions, and really taking you for granted?" Mr Teo questioned.
Singaporeans are being taken for granted. Just look at basic necessities like public transport. How does it feel to squeeze into a crowded train every morning? How does it feel to miss 2 to 3 trains every morning because you can't get onto it?
These include building more new flats to stabilise property prices and schemes such as the Workfare Income Supplement to raise the wages of low wage workers.
Talking about wages, I just read an article that infuriates me:
SMRT raises bus drivers’ basic salaries by 35%
I thought bus drivers were earning at least $2000. It was actually $1375 before other additions. This is just ridiculous. Like there aren't enough customers, I mean passengers, using the buses to pay for their wages. So where does the money go? More pay should be going to people who are actually doing the work rather than management. 

And the priority should not be on stabilizing property prices. It should be on lowering them.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Education standards in Singapore unrealistic

Napier Road Centre, Singapore (26 September 2008) 
An ex-colleague of mine Ian Tan wrote an article for Today titled 'Standards are unrealistic' recently.

He said that the standards of Singapore education is too high. I agree.

Many parents who commented on that page also agree.

But MOE has the audacity to disagree, saying standards have remained the same. I guess that means Singapore parents are more stupid now.

There's no point in setting such standards so high that they become ridiculous. After all, most of the things you learn in primary and secondary school will be forgotten, except the languages.

The unrealistic standards create a stressful learning environment. It kills the passion to learn. The most important thing schools can impart to students is the passion to learn. When you force people to learn, it makes learning less attractive. You won't see a lot of people taking initiative to learn on their own. Or to take initiative, for that matter.

I want to make special mention on the point of problem solving as mentioned in the article. When you have kids that just follow stipulated route to finding answers, they won't be able to think creatively to solve problems in the future, in life.

Myopic Singaporeans

Girl with Spectacle

Just read an interesting article:
Why Are 90% of Asian Schoolchildren Nearsighted? From Doing What You’re Doing Now

Lots of young kids in Singapore are myopic. You can see them on the trains. They are everywhere.

It's easy to understand why it's so. Parents either don't have time to bring their kids out, or the kids would be too busy studying to go out.

Such is the life of a typical Singaporean kid.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

No point dissuading S'poreans already set on leaving

  I agree with one of the letter writers who wrote the title above.

There's no point dissuading Singaporeans who are set on leaving, or persuading them to come back. When they have reached that point, you've already lost them. It's not like they made the decision to leave overnight.

It's all the little push and pull factors that made them leave.

Look towards making the people we still have stay instead.

And yes, the $4 million dollar is wasted. No problem. Singapore is rich.

By the way, there's a good set of photos of Singapore Day 2012 on Flickr.

S’pore Day in New York a hit but will it bring home local talent?
New York to draw 4,000 on Singapore Day
No point dissuading S'poreans already set on leaving
Status Updates

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

From Old School to No School

Old School @ Mount Sophia
I was reading about the story of how Old School at Mount Sophia is being forced out of her home after spending more than a century being on the hill. The school has been there since 1887.

URA has decided not to extend the lease and now all the tenants have to move out by June 30, 2012.

All this is part of the URA's 2008 Master Plan. They have slated the site for residential development.

In other words, my words, the current Old School is unable to generate enough revenue in that prime piece of land to justify it being there. Selling property in that neighborhood is more profitable than having some group of people going about doing their art stuff.

It's like there's no where else in Singapore to develop property and this is the last place in Singapore.

In the distant future I imagine, Singapore will just be filled with housing blocks and shopping centres. The only places that will be preserved will depend on their ability to attract tourist.

Is that the Master Plan?

Old girls of MGS fight to save Old School on Mount Sophia 
No lease extension for arts enclave at Mt Sophia


Sunday, April 29, 2012

Online code of conduct is stupid

Dr Yaacob Ibrahim, Minister for Information, Communications and the Arts, has suggested an idea for an online code of conduct on 23 April 2012 at the Singapore Press Club.

Looks like the amount of online criticism has grown to an extent that we have to spend time to address this issue.

The idea is stupid.

Current laws are more than adequate enough to be applied online. The internet is just another communication medium. Technically speaking, there should be no difference if you slander someone online or offline.

All you have to do is to enforce the laws for those who break it. If there's no consequence to saying whatever you want online, then people will just continue. The act on enforcing will make people think more before they say something.

I hope no more manpower is wasted on discussing this non-problem.