Friday, August 28, 2015


The PAP is not serious, is it? It is fielding a relatively lightweight team of mostly rookie candidates in the Aljunied GRC ward to battle the tried and tested WP team that includes its founder, Mr Low Thia Kiang and its Chairman, Ms Sylvia Lim. We can read it two ways:

1. Aljunied GRC is an almost surely a lost cause. The WP has become so entrenched that dislodging them will be a Herculean task. So no point sacrificing Ministers. Remember that George Yeo was a significant loss to the party and the government. This PAP team is expendable.

2. The PAP believes that the WP's reputation and competence has already been torn to shreds so that whoever (read PAP) contest the ward will surely win against the WP. It won't be a walkover, of course not, but the WP won't stand a chance and the steamroller comes to town.

Whichever, my sense is that the PAP does not think that its chance of winning back Aljunied GRC is very high. But then, you never know. The same way that George Yeo was defeated may come back to haunt the WP this time around.

Monday, August 24, 2015

Development economics - 101

For those of you who are wondering where the free book "UNDP and the making of the Singapore's Public Service" reported in the Straits Time might be available online, I found a copy here:

You do need to sign up to the Issuu site, but it is worth it for the sheer amount of popular publication such as quite current magazines, available for free on Issuu.

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Q for the money

It is said that Singaporeans like to queue. This is proof yet again. Long lines were seen outside of banks. Singaporeans were seen queueing on 20th August 2015 to exchange their money for newly designed notes that commemorates Singapore's Gold Jubilee. Although $20 million worth of the new notes will be printed, enough for all Singaporeans, people just love to queue. Yesterday morning, before the bank was opened, some people had already staked a position in a queue in front of the bank entrance. Hello...this is not an Apple launch of its latest gadget.

This is proof that Singaporeans are not as hardworking as they have been made out to be. They would rather stand (or sit) in a queue for hours on end than to do something more productive. The only way in which Singapore has any hope of increasing the productivity of its workforce is to replace these people with robots. No no no, the robot won't replace the person in the queue, they'll replace the person in the workplace.

Singaporeans like to queue, right? Its a distinctly Singapore thing, uniquely Singapore...sigh....

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Times and Seasons

Election fever is in the air in Singapore, as Defence Minister, Mr Ng Eng Hen announced. What better time to light up the fire of the election machinery of the PAP than in this Jubilee year? And what better year to hold a General Election? There is speculation that polling day will be 12 September 2015, the last day of the Ghost month. Some have even spoken about this date with certainty, as if they have the inside track on the PM's thoughts. But I'd say it isn't a bad bet.

As the days and weeks progress towards that date, the PAP has been revealing its slate of candidates, with many MPs either retiring or moving from their wards. On the other hand, the WP, being the only opposition party, has stated that its sitting MPs are staying put. The PAP can afford to play musical chairs because its proposition, its selling point, has never been about the MP, the candidate. It is about the Party. So it doesn't matter if the incumbent moves away. (Well, I am wrong here. It matters because if the incumbent stayed on to fight, he/she will lose, for sure). But the PAP's spin is that the replacement will be just as good - its a tag team, bro. That's why you sometime never knew that that person is an MP. Let me qualify that - a PAP MP.

While the WP seem to be holding together, and the other pretenders too. However the NSP imagines that it has invested too much into the constituency of Macpherson to back out now and are therefore reneging on its earlier promise. No wonder that its Sec-General resigned! How to gain the trust of the people when a party behaves so dishonourably even before elections are called? Better balek kampong lah.

Bread and milk

Breadtalk didn't really have to stop selling its "fresh" soya milk, really. It just has to learn to tell real 'fresh' milk from, err..not real 'fresh' milk, that's all. Short of having a cow (or soya milk making apparatus at the back of the kitchen), this is what fresh milk looks like:

It would have saved itself 50,000 pork floss buns, a red face and a lot of goodwill. While nobody is complaining about those freebies, for some, the damage is already done..

Sunday, August 09, 2015

50 years observed

There is something about the number 50. Maybe it is a nice round number that a 49 cannot match though the Chinese mark it as perfection (7x7=49).  In many cultures, 7 signifies perfection, does it not? Yet half a century appears more significant. Maybe it is a half-way mark to a century - and a century is a long time. Even with longer lifespans, only a select few can ever hope to live beyond. Perhaps that is why we celebrate 50 years with a vengeance because those of us who have lived the first 50 years will never see the next 50th year celebration, which our children will. What will it be called? A centenary jubilee? There isn't a word invented to mark the century mark in the same fashion. The longest is the Ruby jubilee, signifying and celebrating an occasion's 80th year of existence. But as has always been the case, Singapore will name a stone worthy of the occasion 50 years hence. It has so far defied conventional wisdom about small island nations, and prospered beyond all expectations. Nobody who has lived in Singapore over the last half century and seen the developments can deny that. Which brings us to the next hottest issue in town - will the sitting government, which has ruled for the last 50 years, continue to do so if it calls a General Election in this Golden Jubilee year?

All signs point to a GE this year, what with the publication of the electoral boundaries, all of which has been redrawn in favour of the ruling PAP government. The government has already broken the bank account to make sure everybody gets a super-duper good time these few days. It can boast of a newly minted world heritage site that is the Singapore Botanic Gardens. As the PM has said, Singapore is a home owning country, and almost 950,000 of these home-owners, or heartlanders, will get $400 or more by the end of the year. There is certainly a feel-good factor in the air which any government will be foolish to ignore.

The biggest opposition party has already stated that they are not for regime change, and probably will not wish for it, not right now. So, overall, the PAP can expect a renewal of the mandate to govern. It'll add to the feel-good atmosphere of Singaporeans exercising their right to vote. It will validate whatever celebrations that has gone before this Golden Jubilee Year.

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Friday, March 27, 2015

Tribute to Mr Lee Kuan Yew

I have penned my tribute to Mr Lee Kuan Yew
3 times at 3 locations
One at my workplace
One where I live
One online

This is the 4th

Each tribute was different. 

I have never met him in person
Much less talked to him
He touched my life in so many different ways

Thank you, Mr Lee

Rest in Peace

Monday, March 23, 2015

Goodbye, LKY

I was awoken by incessant signals off my mobile phone. It was news of the passing of Singapore's former Prime Minister, Mr Lee Kuan Yew. I felt as if a member of the family had passed away, that same feeling when I heard of the passing of my own father more than a decade ago. Ink will be spilled in the days to follow, recounting the life of Mr Lee. To me, he was the head of government for all my growing up years, during which I witnessed the breakneck development of the place from an island to a nation. Just the other day, a colleague of mine who lives half way across the world in Brazil, visiting Singapore for the very first time, marveled that ours is an island, a city, a state, and a country all rolled into one. Indeed, Singapore remains Mr Lee's legacy and remains for us who are left to ensure that his legacy endures.

I mourn his passing, as will the nation.

Long live Singapore. Rest in peace, Mr Lee Kuan Yew.    

Monday, January 19, 2015

The Pope's Speech

Pope Francis famously made the point that he'd punch a person who insults his mother. This is a very human and natural reaction. But it is not clear that this is an equal response - one that fits the "crime". The Muslim terrorists who killed the 12 staff of Charlie Hebdo and shot two police officers - one, a fellow Muslim brother, at point blank, certainly did not do so because their mothers had been insulted, but their Prophet. It was a heinous assassination, one that, sadly, many Muslims around the world applaud, whether quietly, or quite publicly. And that's the problem. While certain Muslim leaders stand up to condemn the action, many unknown more raise their figurative glasses (guns if they had one) in utter approval and satisfaction that their Prophet's name and honour have been defended so emphatically.

Pope Francis was making the point that we must be careful what we say or otherwise face the consequence. Unfortunately, some will read that as justification for the assassinations, and can expect more in future. As some have observed, that was not Pope Francis' finest impromptu "speech". After all, wasn't it Jesus who taught to turn the other cheek, to forgive our enemies? The King James Bible puts this very eloquently::

But I (Jesus) say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you...

God can take care of his own honour.

A person once remarked that Islam is a vicious religion. Whether we agree with that or not is obviously our personal view. But I think, in the light of the Charlie Hebdo killings and the aftermath, that many are silently agreeing with this assessment. Silently because otherwise, these innocent people will be next on the target list. The terrorists will not allow their Prophet to be talked about negatively. But they cannot prevent people to think so silently.

Monday, January 12, 2015

Je suis Charlie

It happened almost half a world away, but on reflection, could have happened in my own backyard. The tentacles of Islamic extremism knows no bounds. It purportedly crusades in the name of Allah, but kills Allah's believers nevertheless. They may refer to this as collateral damage. How flippant. It has been more than 13 years since 911, two wars and countless terrorism acts, yet Islamist jihadists remain uncowed and unbeaten. This doesn't mean that its cause is right and sacred. It does mean that this world remains a dangerous place and Islam can never regain its glory days, not with so much hatred in its midst. Change can only come from within, but there has not been any action except the obligatory verbal condemnation. More needs to be done. Over to you.

Saturday, August 02, 2014

The Problem with Dengue

Compassvale Road, in Sengkang, has been identified as a Dengue cluster. We have been told, through print, web and TV media, to do the mozzie wipeout, and exhorted to anything and everything to prevent mosquitos from breeding. Yet, we have this potential monster of a breeding ground just next to an identified cluster.

Picture taken on 20 July 2014, from the overhead bridge near Kopitiam Square
After (right now):
Picture taken on 2 August 2014. from the overhead bridge near Kopitiam Square

Picture taken on 2 August 2014. Kopitiam Square is at the back.

The tented event is over, everyone has gone home. Now the mosquitos can move in? Its really a waste of everyone's time and effort getting into the wipeout mode when the civil authorities (Pasir Ris-Punggol Town Council?) may be part of the problem in the first place. This place hosted a similar tented event earlier, the damage of which has not healed completely (left side of the picture). Shouldn't they have insisted on a complete restoration of the grounds before even allowing for another event to take place?

P.S. This field is located behind Compass Point, Sengkang, just next to the Compassvale dengue cluster:

Source: Retrieved 2 August 2014

Saturday, January 11, 2014

An own goal

Here are a few truisms (aphorisms): The armed forces of a country defends its country. Funding of the armed forces of a country is derived from taxes. Taxes originate from the country's tax-paying residents. Residents are protected by the country's armed forces.

So I was surprised and somewhat disturbed by a report online that revealed that 2 doctor-inventors, apparently citizens of Singapore, had given up their legal fight over intellectual property rights they claimed over an app (Mobile First Aid Post) with Singapore's Ministry of Defense (Mindef). According to one of these inventors, the reason for giving up was that they did not have enough money to continue the legal action. If this were true, it is disturbing fact indeed. It is claimed that Mindef had "three sets of lawyers" and that in a war of attrition, these inventors couldn't win, and perhaps even if they did win, it would be a pyrrhic one.

The thing I find disturbing is why would Mindef, a public institution that exists at the pleasure of the electorate, and funded entirely by tax payers, could find it necessary to engage an army of lawyers to defend itself? What is the justification for this? Yes, the case might involve IP issues across different countries, but is it that complex as to warrant the legal firepower employed? I am not siding with one or the other party in the case. I do not know enough beyond what has been reported about the case.

But I am concerned about why, as a taxpayer, so much of my money is being spent on this legal tussle, and against its own taxpayers - people who feed it, at that. Mind-boggling sometimes, the things that go on.

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Honk honk

Just what is wrong with some drivers in Singapore anyway? They act like they own the road, and if you give them a plane, they'd likely feel, and yes, act like they own the skies too. So what is the reason for this rant? After all, Singapore drivers, or at least enough of them, have been known to be an impatient lot. Well I got a taste of that today.

You see, I was crossing the path that leads into a carpark in a building. It was a small entrance, no barrier and good only for a car to enter at any one time. The width of the passage (I wouldn't even call it a road) was so narrow, about 4 strides wide, that one could be forgiven to miss it as a passageway for cars. As I was crossing it, a car honked at me. It was obviously attempting to drive into the pathway into the building. I was obviously annoyed, and would have thrown a rotten egg at it if I had one then. However under the circumstance, restraint is the better part of valor and I let it pass. But I got to wondering why the driver can't even overlook an obvious unintentional instance  of "trespass". No, let me correct that. I wasn't trespassing. I was just using a public facility. The road didn't belong to me, nor for that matter, to the driver of the car. So what right had he/she to honk his/her horn at me? Absolutely no right of way nor right of reason. In fact the driver can be accused of threatening a member of the public. What if I had not heeded that horn? If we follow the logic, he/she would have to get out of the car to take physical action - a threat if ever there was one. If you think I am exaggerating, then think again. What good would honking at me accomplish anyway? The only rational reason I can think of is the driver just takes pleasure in shocking and frightening me. Now why would anyone do that? I wasn't threatening the driver in any anyway, nor obstructing him/her, intentionally. In any case, it would take me at most 4 seconds to cross the path. Can't wait? Must fight? Easy to act thus when you are behind the wheel. Bloody coward.

Obviously courtesy, kindness, graciousness, consideration are not part of the driver's vocabulary, nor mental makeup. They say what goes around comes around. Let the driver beware that the same medicine will be doled out to him/her one day.