Tuesday, February 28, 2006

A ball of a discipline

PunishmentToday (28th Feb 2006) reported that the erstwhile missing Singapore footballer, Agu Casmir, has been fined $20,000, banned from playing for Singapore and had his pay from his new club, Woodlands Wellington, docked by $2,000 for 10 months while the club re-pays the US$20,000 (S$32,438) sign-on fee (which Agu has already spent) to the Indonesia football club, Persija. If this is punishment for going AWOL for a month, breaking your promises to a club you willingly signed for, spending their money and betraying your adopted country, I would be over the moon.

"These suckers. I'd just have to shed a few tears as icing and all will be forgotten", he'd say.

Consider the punishment:
  1. $20,000 fine - can easily be paid off with the salary he'd earn at his new club

  2. Banned from national soccer games - greatest loser: Singapore, for not being able to use his services (after giving him citizenship so easily). Greatest beneficiary: Woodlands Wellington, his new club, which will enjoy uninterrupted services from their new signing.

  3. US$20,000 debt re-paid for him - hey, somebody actually sponsored his delinquency

  4. Docked $2,000 for 10 months = $20,000 total - "Hey thanks, Woodlands Wellington, for subsidising my debt to Persijia. Too bad the US$ is only 1.62 to S$ now. Next time I sign on for another foreign club, I'd remember to ask for more sign on fee", I imagine he'd say.

Further, by limiting his contract period, Agu plans to get out of this mess EARLIER rather than later if he had signed on for 2 years.

"This is a great country for football. I'd get some of my buddies in my country to come over asap", I hear him snigger.

Something is wrong with the people who administer Singapore football.

Compare this to National Coach Avramovic's action: he kicks two good players off his team for breaking curfew one lousy night...

There is a smell of favouritism in the air...

Friday, February 24, 2006

Singapore Video Girl

Video CellphoneA Singapore Girl has gained some sort of international notoreity in the past few days and search engines have been working overtime on the phrase "Tammynyp" or "Tammy Nyp" or just simply "Tammy". No, this Singapore girl doesn't fly on planes though I suspect that right now, she just wants to 'fly away' and be forgotten. She probably isn't even past 20 years old, belongs to a local Polytechnic - Nanyang Polytechnic, to be exact, and her claim to fame is over a video she shot with her male partner showing them having sex. According to the word spreading around, its a full ten minute video, and contains both straight and crooked sex, if one can use these words.

The thing that takes the cake must be that the video was shot using a mobile/cellphone phone. So not only has the video been uploaded to the internet, where it has gained a worldwide interest (it is offered on eBay, although I don't know why as it is available FOC on the World Wide Web), it is also doing the rounds from cellphone to cellphone. I know this because some Singapore students have been caught with the said video on their cellphones, which were transmitted to them from another cellphone, and another cellphone...ad infinitum. In Singapore, these materials are considered pornographic and anyone in possession of pornography is violating the law. So if you are one of those in possession of this video in your cellphone or PC, erase it immediately before you are visited by the lawman in blue.

It used to be that porn was out of reach to the ordinary guy on the street as Playboy and Hustler are banned in Singapore. Heck, even their websites are restricted by the MDA. They still are, although its quite meaningless nowadays when you have locally produced first-hand porn 'drama'. What's more, its all free. Times - they are a'changin...(Dylan).

That said, there is raging debate whether to pity the girl or not (why not the guy at all, you wonder?). It looks like she was a willing party to the video shoot, so I can't see how anybody can sympathise with her. On the other hand, I feel that young and impressionable kids nowadays possess technology so sophisticated that, if used wrongly, will hurt them for a long time to come. So before any parent gives a top of the line cellphone to his/her child today, the parent must make sure to explain the consequences of its mis-use. Otherwise, the child will be sorry of the day they first received that cool gizmo called the cellphone - 3G no less.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

"We, the citizens of Singapore"

So begins Singapore's national pledge which all Singapore students from the Primary, Secondary to the Junior Colleges, without exception, make every school day. I said this pledge, like every student today, in my own time as a student, for 12 years. It is a pledge that is familiar and rings true to this day, if only because it is like a mantra - something you would perform because you have come to believe in it, which was exactly what its creator, Mr S Rajaratnam, originally intended.

S RajaratnamThe man who penned this pledge has died. Mr S Rajaratnam, who for more than 3 decades, was Singapore's face and voice to the outside world, died yesterday at about 3.15pm. I learnt of his death on the bus home from work, on a TV mobile ticker tape. He had been out of sight for a long time, so learning of his death didn't come as a shock, rather it was one of sadness and a sense that part of your life and experiences as a person growing up in Singapore is now past.

He was absent at the launch of a book on 40 years of the Singapore Foreign Service due to ill-health. Of all people, he should have been present, having created the Foreign Service when none existed. But we now know that he has been in ill-health for quite some time. Mr Lee Kuan Yew, erstwhile political boss and long-time friend, revealed that Rajaratnam did not recognise him as early as 1998, some 8 years ago. Dementia had already set in - a condition many old people suffer from, including my father.

Farewell, Mr S Rajaratnam. A nation mourns your passing.

Channel News Asia's Farewell to Mr S Rajaratnam

Monday, February 20, 2006

News Tease

A contradiction in terms is what Singapore's Mediacorp practices. I suppose there is no more interesting local event to report last evening that it has to resort to breaking old news on its Prime Time 9.30pm News Bulletin.

Source: http://www.scottybunny.com/Last evening, Mediacorp TV reported Mr Wong Kan Seng as saying that the General Election will be held sometime before the end of this year. Well, this is old news. Senior PAP people such as Mr Goh Chok Tong, Mr Lee Kuan Yew and Mr Lee Hsien Loong have said as much already, so what is new that Mr Wong has said that is even worth reporting? Or has Mediacorp jumped on the PAP bandwagon and is going around town practicing news tease?

Come now, Mediacorp, you have more dignity than that! Viewers expect greater integrity and objectivity from you. After all, after swallowing MediaWorks, you are the only broadcast station on this island.

Saturday, February 18, 2006

Santa Clause came to town - again

The Singapore government unveiled its annual budget yesterday. As expected, it is a generous budget with something for everyone - an important thing given that the government is expected to call a general election soon (I speculated earlier that this election will take place this March). This is not the first time that money has been re-distributed from Government revenue with such generosity, and the formula hasn't varied a lot from previous cases.

Source: http://www.kshs.org/teachers/classroom/graphics/santa.gifOutright cash is still distributed based not on income level, but on the type of house you own. The assumption, of course, is that the greater the value of the house you own and live in, the better off you are, and vice versa. So people like me get only $200 - the low end of the cash gift bracket (the highest is $800) - because I own and stay in a private apartment. Those who qualify for the $600 - $800 cash gift are those that stay in public housing of the 3 - 5 room types. People staying in executive type public apartments, which I used to own, only get $400. Needless to say, these assumptions tying wealth to type of housing are not always valid. Some wealthy businessmen who drive around in Mercedes-Benzes live in 4-room public housing (for one reason or another). So they get a bigger cash gift compared to many who earn considerably less, but stay in a executive type public housing. I have been on the wrong end of this ironic situation since day one, so I have become cynical over the entire cash gift exercise practiced every year by the powers that be.

All these make the government look either like Santa Claus, or the Lottery where everyone wins, some more so than others. Somehow, the second imagery is more in tune with the times, but I'd rather think that Santa is a, ahem, cleaner image.

Would I be less inclined to vote for the ruling party in the next election? Time will tell.

Friday, February 17, 2006

A crook(ed) Science

Once of the reasons why Malaysia wants to demolish the Causeway and build a suspension bridge in its place is so that their contractor, Gerbang Perdana, can proceed with the building of the Southern Integrated Gateway - a contract which is worth S$1.09 billion. This Gateway apparently calls for a suspension bridge that can be designed to fit into Johor's planned customs facilities. Now, it must be said that Johor Customs seems to be clearing travellers faster that the Singapore Customs, according to recent experience and press reports. With the Johor's new customs facilities, this is set to improve leaps and bounds. But coming back. So far, Singapore has not agreed to this new bridge and thus the concept of the crooked bridge was born.

Now, with political negotiations at a standstill, Malaysia is using another way to get the project to move forward. According to the Hydrologist employed by Gerbang Perdana, Dr Low Kwai Sim, the Johor Causeway is a source of pollution of the Straits of Johor. Therefore to improve the situation, the Causeway should be demolished to solve this problem. Of course, Singapore's own hydrologist disagreed and gave a robust defence.

It seems to me disingenuous that Malaysia should use an 'expert' who is contracted by Gerbang Perdana to provide the scientific basis (read rubber stamp) to their plans to do away with the Causeway. Would the opinion of the 'expert' be any other than in support of their cause?

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Symphonic handphones

CellphonesIn Singapore, handphones (or cellphones as they may be known outside of Singapore) are almost ubiquitous. The penetration rate last year was 96.2% and is expected to rise marginally to 97.2% this year (3G subscriber base seen doubling) By 2008, this will hit 103.8%!

Singaporean's change handphones often (sorry, I don't have the statistics). Of course, new models generally have better features and are smaller in size. But one of the features that is always a bane to some must be the myriad ringtones that users choose for their handphones. First, there were the single tones which then gave way to polyphonic ringtones. But of late, ringtones, if they may still be called that, have become passe on new phone models. These newer phones employ 'symphonic' tones, which is even more irritating.

The symphonic 'blast-tones' are actually pop songs, although I don't think they are those that have won any awards. Its so irritating to hear such songs blast themselves out of handphones to alert of an incoming call and being cut off almost abruptly the next second when the person responds to the call. I wonder, why have such blast-tones anyway if you are not interested in listening to these songlets? Perhaps people carrying such phones are either near deaf (that's why they need the blast of music) or they really want to irritate others.

Whichever it is, I am now genuinely irritated by them. And we may be in for the long haul on this as MP3 converge with cellphones - well, this has already happened.