Thursday, April 24, 2008

Just do it

Who are to blame? Well, now the whole of Singapore, and probably the world, knows how it was possible that Mas Selamat Kastari was able to escape from the Whitley Road Detention Centre (WRDC). I agree with Minister Wong - mistakes do happen from time to time. In this case, the consequence of the mistake was severe - it let loose a dangerous man, resulting in immediate economic losses at the Singapore-Johor Causeway without him raising a finger. From what was revealed in Parliament, I learnt that there are two things you shouldn't do:

First, never put up a CCTV camera unless you put it into immediate operation. This was a problem in WRDC and much earlier, in MRT stations. People think that they are being watched when they aren't, but the organisation that puts these in place are not too concerned that their CCTVs do not work. Some even install them as dummies to scare people - somewhat like a modern day scarecrow. Minister Wong said that those CCTVs in the WRDC were just being put in place and were not operational when MSK made his escape. In this case, nobody could be faulted, unless it is possible to put CCTVs into operation in one day. I don't know, I am not a technician. I don't sell CCTVs much less install one. But someone was caught with his pants down, and that's not MSK's.   

Second, the guards' runaround in alerting another guard who alerted a women who alert yet another man to check the toilet is so typical of government. The Committee of Inquiry (COI) and Minister Wong can't really blame these chaps, really. A colleague of mine who had just moved from the private sector to the public sector said that the difference between working in the private sector is you just do it and inform your superiors later about having done it. In the civil service, you have to go through several layers of reporting, deliberation, discussion, etc. to get approval before you can take action - exactly what happened in the WRDC that gave Mas Selamat a 11-minute lead time to make good his escape. Can you blame the guards' reaction? Can you blame the women Special Duty Operative, a junior ISD officer, for not knocking down the toilet door when the Gurkha Guards don't even think they should do so? No, this has to be referred to a superior for further consideration...Clearly it is the civil service's standard operating procedure which is at fault.

So should we axe Minister Wong? On this, I agree with the PM. While Minister Wong is ultimately responsible as the boss, he had no direct involvement in the whole incident. From what I read in the local papers, this seems to be the majority opinion of readers. So let's be glad that the government pulled no wool over the whole thing, but I may differ in my opinion on who really is at fault... 

Image source: Author: Pedrani David Cristian

Monday, April 21, 2008

Down the same road is back online, come back from the dead although it is a pale shadow of its former glory. At its height, it was a "Singapore’s top travel and mapping portal (as ranked by hitwise August 2006 & Hitwise July 07 Travel Report)". It still claims in the website that it drew "an estimated 30 million page views and over 600,000 unique visitors a month and constantly growing. The site is ranked as number 2691 in the world by".

Sad that these statistics are history, and all because the greedy people that ran - Virtual Maps - took so much fun in suing legit businesses left, right, centre and below that it has gone under itself - by the same medicine it dished out. Amazingly, it still trumpets it past achievements. In its latest reincarnation as an all-in-one portal, it has the gall to claim that "Locals swear by the Map Directory, Business Directory, Wine and Dine, Singapore Bus Guide & Singapore Properties". This liner is found at the bottom of its pages, where the fine prints are usually located. I don't know about you, but I would have thought that locals swear at them rather than by them. Has VM not learnt its lesson in dealing ethically with the public?


Sunday, April 20, 2008


What are the people who ran website doing anyway? Just last week, I had pointed to an article there that announced the millions of dollars set aside for biomedical research and development. When I checked back today, the page is gone. More than that, the entire site is gone too! According to Network Solutions (the hosting provider), " expired on 04/06/2008 and is pending renewal or deletion".

Are the people from biomed-singapore serious people at all? When you can't pay a couple of dollars to keep your site going, what is the use of promising to defray millions?  It may be that they are planning to move to a new site with a new URL. If so, they should have retained the old site with a redirection to the new site. They should at least keep the site live for 6 months, if not more. I am sure there are now many broken hyperlinks to that website.

Penny-pinching? Oversight? Carelessness? Neglect? Broke? These are words you don't want associated with an organisation that purportedly dishes our millions for R&D!

biomed-singapore missing

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Who is driving?

Taking public transport this week has been particularly stressful. One morning, during rush hour (between 8 and 9), I had to wait about 35 minutes for the SBSTransit Bus service that I normally take to come by. And even then, I had to forego it because the bus was almost fully seated. With the horde that were trying to board (yeah, that's what 35 minutes of waiting results in), there wasn't a chance of my getting my foot into the bus, much less my leg. So I had to wait another 10 minutes before the next bus came by. I am a regular commuter on this service and I had thought that I had learnt all its idiosyncratic schedules there was to learn about it. For example, if it rained, or had rained an hour or so before, you can expect the wait to be much longer. This in spite of the fact that this bus service's terminus was only a mere 3 or 4 stops way. But SBSTransit would claim that the inbound service would be held up with slow moving vehicles or even encounter traffic jams. Thus the outbound service is inevitably affected. But that was a sunny morning. There was not a drop of water on the road. What went wrong? I am sure SBSTransit has an answer that would put the blame on others, like God, the road, or other vehicles - anything but itself. I wonder if LTA should not fine SBSTransit for such horrendous lapse of service?

Then, on another occasions, again in the morning rush-hour, a huge crowd had gathered in Outram MRT station on the East-West line. I was doubtful that I could get on the next train. I did get on the next train - I had to push my way in - why must I be penalised with a longer wait? But it was a real squeeze. Fortunately nobody screamed 'molest'. You can imagine that in such a packed train, quite a number of commuters would not have anything to hold onto to steady themselves. I thought what a disaster it would be if a train did stop abruptly, as it did during this ride. Many of us were thrown off balance though we recovered in time - no thanks to SMRT. I thought, we might not be so lucky next time. What if the train stops abruptly and it was packed to the brim the next time? I can imagine everyone thrown off their feet and on top of one another. If this is followed by panic, commotion and screams, I can imagine what a disaster it might turn out to be. We don't need a terrorist's bomb to cause a deadly mayhem. One can move only so much in a confined space, and if everyone wants to move at the same time, the stampede can be deadly. But people who whip out their calculators to prove that their trains have not reached capacity yet don't think of these things. And they likely don't take the train either. The 'not my problem' syndrome seems to prevail here.

The extra 700 trains that SMRT has promised cannot come too soon. Since SBSTransit never promised anything, there is nothing to look forward to except more squeezes.

With this kind of unreliable service, and the hack-care attitude of the operators, is it any wonder that anybody would want to give up his car in Singapore? Well, there is the premium service that SBSTransit is going to run this coming Monday at $3.50 a pop. That's a good alternative except - where have they been all these years? Of course, that was because the government put so much restrictions on bus operators because of the monopoly it granted SBSTransit that public transport services just simply became non-responsive to changing commuter means and demands. All of which goes to show that civil servants should be the last people you'd want to appoint to conduct the business of transport. Let the people, the long-suffering commuters, decide if they want to have alternatives and are willing to pay for them. Well, better late than never, except that SBSTransit is still very selective about running these services. I remember some months ago receiving a survey from a public transport operator about how I took public transport to work everyday and if I was willing to pay $100 - $150 a month or thereabouts (works out to $5.00 to $7.50 per trip) for a regular premium one-way service. Well, I haven't heard from them since, so I think the response was maybe not so enthusiastic, or people just didn't want to pay that kind of money, or the transport operator didn't find it worth their while. Whatever, I still think there is demand for this type of services. Maybe the private transport operators haven't woken up to the opportunities here.

Whatever it is, I cross my fingers when I take trains packed to capacity nowadays. For all our sakes, it had better be a smooth ride.

Image source: Author: Emlyn Addison

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Who am I

I have put off putting this blog entry online because it may contain 'objectionable' material a la Obama. Whatever Obama is, I am not a racist or bigot. So read on if you will.

The other day, I was taking the bus/train home from where I worked, literally criss-crossing the island diagonally. I do this every work day, which mercifully does not include Saturdays anymore. I've been doing this for over 5 years, and I probably am qualified to note the changes in the bus/train services over this period of time. I have pointed out elsewhere my observation that the number of people on these public modes of transport has increased, spiking particularly after the latest taxi and road usage fare increases. I have also mentioned that many people who I share the train and bus with nowadays are no longer just fellow Singaporeans, but foreigners, whether they come from India, China, Vietnam, Korea and elsewhere.

Which got me to thinking why I spent 15 years of my life in Singapore's public schools and yet end up sharing the same bus and train space with people who probably never went to school, or if they did, never had to go through the rigorous regime of testing and assessments typical in the Singapore school system. Now, don't get me wrong. I am not a racist nor a bigot. I am not looking down on anybody. I am not, for one moment, implying that people who do not go through the rigorous school system in Singapore are less than intelligent and not deserving of any space in our public transport system. I was just wondering why I had to study those many years and suffer the pain and anxiety of exams, especially sitting alone in a cavernous hall with 400 other students equally alone with their thoughts and prayers during mass exams. Had it made any difference at all? Singaporean's who are driving are thinking of not driving anymore. That means taking the public transport with pretty much everyone else.

Somebody mentioned in this blog somewhere the irony of the fact that as the nation progresses, many of its people (the middle income folks, mostly) regress in terms of quality of life and material possessions. One would want to downgrade the house because one gets treated better at public hospitals in terms of subsidies. And I really don't understand how difficult it is to determine a family's per capita income that all the brains in the civil service cannot work out. Isn't it total income / total headcount in the immediate family? Isn't the computer available if we find that hard to work out? The Inland Revenue Authority probably already has these numbers already, and for quite some time now. But maybe the Health Ministry doesn't talk much to the Inland Revenue people, for whatever reason that is obviously beyond me. So I don't understand why means-testing for subsidised hospital services, or indeed any other government-subsidised services, cannot be implemented easily. A precedent has now been set that per capita household income is impossible to calculate and used to gauge the means of a person - in spite of the admission by the Health Minister in Parliament last month that per capita income is a fairer way of assessing 'deservability'. I think some people are lazy, that's all.

I am pretty dumb, I guess. I only know how to calculate simple Primary School level Math problems such as total income / total headcount. Is there any hope for me?

Why did I need to spend 15 years of my life in the Singapore school system, and why are we forcing our children to do the same, if not more?

Image source: Author: Kevin Rosseel, Washington, DC

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Sweat out the invention

I didn't know that inventions could be engineered. If it could, then Singapore should have thousands of inventions to its name, given that it produced that many engineers in the 80s and 90s, most of whom have become paper-pushing administrators today. Singapore does not hold that accolade. I believe the US does. Ironically, it is adopting Singapore-produced textbooks for some of its schools today. Singapore is now scrambling to produce R&D people, people who could come up with inventions or innovate new products through the greater emphasis and money going into its push for R&D. In typical Singapore fashion, we are going to engineer the inventions, as this signboard in an MRT train car would suggest. 

But of course, give Singapore more credit. It understands the process (if it exists) and it is doing its damnest to create the environment, if not the people, to go into R&D in larger numbers today. But as with all things that comes from the top in Singapore, it is a targeted push. With the amount of money that is being poured into this push, I am sure inspiration will come. However, as Edison would remind us, it takes a lot of sweat too.

Friday, April 11, 2008

The Thick and the Thin

The issue of transportation, public or private, is always a perennial talking point on Singapore island. The latest is about SMRT winning the inaugural Metro Awards in Denmark for "Best passenger experience", beating out finalists such as Copenhagen Metro, Hong Kong's MTR and The Warsaw Metro. Well, congratulations, except a number of Singaporeans seem to disagree. For example, Today reader, Lee Chui Hsia, wrote that SMRT's 'rapid' service wasn't rapid enough. And worse, nowadays, the train car is packed to the brim during rush hour. Aidil Omar hit the nail on the head when he wrote that it is the overwhelming "bodily scents" that was the problem.

When compared to London or New York's subways, Singapore's is heavenly in terms of cleanliness and promptness, so says Mr Richard Gomez and Wang Hui Ling who, between them, have lived in Japan, London, New York, Germany, Switzerland and Holland. I have not lived in any of these cities, but I have used the subways in Shanghai, Beijing, Hong Kong, Korea and, of course, my own Singapore. Somehow dirty, dank and dark do not register in my impressions of these subways. Perhaps Asians are more careful about public property and take greater pride in them, compared to New Yorkers and Londoners. One must admit that Singapore's subways are much much cleaner compared to even those that I have experienced overseas.

I do not know which mass rapid systems were polled in the survey, but it would appear that Singapore's is the only one located in the tropics where it is particularly hot and humid. And that's the problem. While people can get packed in Japan, Hong Kong, Shanghai, and other cities comfortably (everyone seem to be wearing 10 layers of clothing, and the warmth of people's body against each other helps with the cold weather too), train passengers in Singapore would find it particularly uncomfortable from arm-pit odour and hair odour, amongst others. Also, given the paper thin clothes (besides the plunging necklines, raised boobs and hem-lines, all visible to the, ahem, naked eye) that many female commuters go about town nowadays, getting closely packed is getting too close for modesty. You know how we Asians are, our modesty, the paper thin blouses notwithstanding, is guarded fiercely, never mind that it is flaunted like nobody's business.

So that's why Singaporean's snigger when we learnt about SMRT's glorious award. It isn't that we, Singaporeans, do not want to feel pride. It is just that the award doesn't square with our experience. And that's what really matters. This calls to mind that we can't compare apples with oranges. We have a peculiar atmosphere - the weather and the humidity - that doesn't bear comparison. And we hope that the award doesn't go to the head of SMRT to lull them into complacency (there's that word), as the MM has warned not too long ago.

Image source: Author: Iain Harper

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Virtually gone

How the mighty are fallen and Virtual Map's own prophecy fulfilled, as spelt out in its own corporate tag-line. This big bad bully must feel awfully 'lost without it' (i.e. its website and business). Now that it is no more (what's that you say, they are trying to come back from the dead?), it appears that the public has become aware of alternatives. So even if it comes back, I don't think people would be as dependent on it as it used to anymore. Which may explain why the company is now hedging on selling flowers and wine.

If it can't sell directions, it may as well sell smells. Smells probably is the same business, I suppose, in helping one with directions (flowers) of the more romantic kind, or lose it (wine). I just hope they don't mislead, which may lead to another round of law suites.

Also, I hope it won't go back to its old habit of suing people, this time for copying their flowers and wines. Otherwise God, the original creator and absolute copyright holder, might not be too happy. Then it won't be facing a 100lb SLA gorilla, but hell, where, I heard, there is no return to life, at all.

Is this the end of Virtual Map? I wouldn't hold my breadth if I were you.

p.s. I hope they don't sue me for using their corporate logo in this blog. I will cease and desist if they send me a lawyer letter. I am serious.

Sunday, April 06, 2008

Money in your mouth

Money in your mouth Soccer fans are getting very raw deals in Singapore, it appears. If they want to catch the English Premier League (EPL) matches and the European Champions League and Uefa Cup matches, they will have to subscribe to both the Starhub Cable Service and Singtel's Mio TV. That's because the broadcast rights to these different soccer league matches are now held by these two broadcasters exclusively. Having to subscribe to both broadcasters has made the cost of watching soccer on TV an expensive affair indeed. I'll be honest, I am no great soccer fan, and this state of affairs doesn't bother me one bit. I get my fix of the EPL/Champions League on the daily papers, which is more than enough for me. So I am not here to voice for a better deal from these broadcasters, or to berate them for charging Singapore soccer fans so much money for their entertainment.

First, it isn't Singtel or Starhub's fault that the charges are so high. I think they are honest when they say that the broadcast rights to these league games are very expensive. And one doesn't have to look far to see why this is so. How much is each soccer player in the EPL paid? It's no secret that each soccer player gets paid something like $50,000 a week and upwards. Some of us don't even get paid that much in a year, let alone a week. So who do you think is paying them these exorbitant sums for kicking a ball around week in and week out? Certainly not Alex Ferguson. Its the FANs, stupid. When these fans support their clubs, they do so in one fundamental way - pay the salaries of the football players. The last I heard, these fans can be very vociferous about their clubs. Some would even put down career and family to fly to Britain to shout their voices hoarse in the thick of the action, never mind that you only get a small part of a bench to rest your bum for all the expenses you need to shell out. So what is $65 a month to watch these same matches in the comfort and company of family and friends, possibly in air-con comfort and a beer or two to go with the occasion? We are fans, aren't we? We support our teams in the league, don't we? You mean supporting by just buying a T-shirt here and jumping around there to celebrate a goal is enough? You want to be a fan and be proud of it? Then pay what your idols demand.

Second, these leagues are outright businesses. People invest millions of dollars in these teams and expect no less a return. Otherwise the Americans, the Russians (Lenin, rest in peace) and Emirateans wouldn't be interested at all in Liverpool, Chelsea and Arsenal FCs. Why did Thaksin Shinawatra buy Manchester City if he doesn't think that it is a good business investment for his billions?

Third, Singapore's market is relatively small, unlike, say, India or even Malaysia, where the broadcasters can more easily recoup the money they paid for those exclusive rights. Look at the S-League attendances and you will understand what I mean. Who said that the S-League was a success? He must be living in dreamland. When the S-League is treated like a training ground for third-rate teams from China, Korea and Japan, you know where it stands. Even Fandi Ahmad doesn't want to be part of the S-League. Go figure. But I digress.

If you can't stomach all these additional costs, then forget about those overpaid buggers - and I am not referring to the Starhub and Singtel executives. As consumers, you have the choice. If you think the charges are exorbitant, then walk away, otherwise support, and I mean, really $upport your teams.

Image source: Author: badrobot

Friday, April 04, 2008

Rise of the Hoards

Are we hoarding rice when we buy more than the usual quantity from the supermarket or provision shop? Some may be doing so, fearing that we would run out of rice because our usual suppliers from Thailand and Vietnam, amongst others, are imposing export restrictions on their rice stocks. So it is not irrational for people to buy more rice than usual in anticipation of the possibility, however remote that the government would have us believe, that we might run out of rice. Yes, some are just blindly following what others are doing, buying up rice by the sacks for reasons beyond them, not unlike buying 4-D. But I think the greater reason why people are stocking up on rice is not because they fear shortages. I think people are being economically rational when they buy rice today because there is a likelihood that tomorrow, the price of rice will rise further.

So I am not ashamed to say that last week, I walked into a supermarket and bought up 10 kg of rice (two bags of 5 kg) for my small family of 3. Did I think that there would not be any rice to buy soon? No. Did I anticipate that the price of rice for the same quantity may rise tomorrow? You bet. Am I being rational? Cannot be more. Am I hoarding? Never felt a need to, actually. Potatoes are just as good. So while the government can reassure people about the continued supply of this basic food commodity, it cannot and will not (since it does not believe in subsidizing these things) guarantee that prices will not rise tomorrow. So at the end of the day, the government is actually barking up the wrong tree. Woof woof.

On another note, that there is a stockpile of three months' supply of rice - I am not reassured. Three months seems awfully short on a necessity. That's barely enough time for me to sell the house, serve my notice period, say my goodbyes, buy the plane tickets, put in all the paperwork to migrate, and find a house over there, wherever I am going to migrate to. That's what you do when we've got nothing to eat right? I mean, I don't have a backyard to plant potatoes, sweet or otherwise, to keep the family fed, right? 

But seriously, I understand why it may not be practical to put in a bigger buffer as rice, if kept too long will attract weevils, which will destroy it. Is 3 months an optimal buffer stock? I don't know. Will it cost suppliers a lot of money to maintain these stock? Definitely! When you have money tied up in stock, it is always a losing proposition. But at least the government is bearing the cost of storing the rice.

So people will still continue to stock up, not because they think we will run out of rice, but because of the fear of inflation. Simple as that.

Image source: Author: Daniel Bayona

My rights

Incoming Singapore Law Society President, Mr Michael Hwang is right. One should never take the word of a civil servant, or even a senior civil servant to be the last word on anything. Singaporeans are all too docile and often 'kow-tow' when the government says that something is not allowed, or something cannot be done because of 'the rules'. Well, one must ask, what are these rules and who set those rules in the first place? What is the basis for those rules and, more importantly, are they fair? Are those rules set down to make the work of the government department more convenient or are these rules made after due consideration to the people's general welfare? One must understand that many rules made by government departments are not laws duly considered in and approved by, Parliament. Thus they do not carry the full weight of the law. Often, Singaporeans confuse the law and the rules and think of them as one and the same, for after all, isn't the government the law? Well, not really...

Some years ago, I took possession of my spanking new HDB apartment. I was upset when HDB told me that I was not allowed to hang my air-con compressor unit outside bedroom window. It said that since my apartment came with a utility yard, the compressor had to be installed there. Further, if the wall did not come with a wooden casement expressly designed for the installation of air-con compressors, then installing one was forbidden. All this according to the HDB rule books. Of course, I wasn't happy. Putting that gigantic compressor in my small utility yard only took away space, for example, to hang my clothes indoors, particularly on rainy days. So I took a walk around the neighbourhood and noticed some apartments came with the wooden casement whereas mine did not. Was this omission intentional or did the builders forget about the casement in the first place? If it were the latter, then HDB had done me an injustice by removing that choice from me.

So I went up to the HDB branch office and spoke to the civil servants there. Of course, they explained the rule to me, but I countered with my observation and told them flat out that their rules were unevenly applied and thus unfair. I made a fair bit of 'noise' and submitted the mandatory written appeal, and to their credit, they finally relented and allowed me to hang my air-con compressor outside my bedroom window instead of in the yard, which was some way away and would have cost me extra, according to my air-con contractor. What was gratifying in the whole episode was that I noticed other apartments also started to install their air-con compressors outside their windows which had no wooden casements, similar to mine. I would like to have thought that my effort paved the way for them. And all this was achieved without involving any lawyer. So yes, Michael Hwang is correct. We should question the rules and determine if right is on our side. And if it is, why are we not claiming our rights?

Image source: Author: Ettore

Thursday, April 03, 2008

Rocket Food

If there is one constant nowadays, it is that food prices are constantly on the up and up. We have seen prices at Foodcourts rise by at least 10 cents - 50 cents is the norm. And uncooked food from the neighbourhood provision shops to even discount supermarket retailer NTUC Fairprice, have risen over the last couple of weeks. What next? The public bus and train companies? Very likely, given that the price of oil has hovered around US$100 / barrel for some time now. I see no reason why our public transportation providers would not ask the PTC for an increase, and why the PTC would say no.

We are uneasy probably because we have not experienced significant inflation on this scale and at this extent for some time now. Many may not have been around in 1973, but I remembered my parents tightening the household expenditure belt and my mother started working part time to supplement the household income. Of course, at that time, OPEC's decision to raise oil prices was a significant factor contributing to the inflation. It was totally unnecessary. It was politics. But we weathered that storm.

This time around, it is food production, or lack of it, that is causing the supply problem, or so we are led to believe. It is said that China and India are mopping up raw materials and food products so that growers can't grow enough. This in turn has led speculators to bid up the price of raw materials, including food. So the reason why we are paying more for wheat, or corn or rice, for example, are due to speculative activity. Of course, the other reason cited is that more crops are being grown not for eating but to produce biofuels because fossil fuels have become so much more expensive. I am not sure that environmental concerns are significant considerations in the production of biofuels, though it has garnered a higher awareness globally.

Whatever the case or reason may be for the inflation in price of raw materials and food, if we had been prudent in our spending, saving for that rainy day (and this is a figurative rainy day), then we shouldn't be in too much of a fix. In such times, we shouldn't be too choosy about the rice that we eat, whether it is too sticky or not. Its rice, for heaven's sake. It isn't poison. Surely, if we want to be choosey, we cannot but complain. Well, tell that to the God of Crops. But actually, we don't have to look to the Gods. If the current inflation is due to speculative activity, then prices will fall eventually. Some experts predict that these stratospheric prices will collapse within one year as it is foolish to bid up the prices of food (on the commodities market) and hold it there for the long term.

It is the poorer amongst us who will feel the pinch more, but I fail to see how Fairprice's setting up of a proposed rock-bottom-priced discount supermarket would help. I thought Fairprice was set up for the poor among us anyway? You mean Fairprice has gone up-market already, so much so that the very people for which it was set up cannot afford its prices anymore? If this is the case, then we should re-look Fairprice and not go off to set up a LowPrice store. Everybody likes low prices (except those who have more selective taste-buds). If LowPrice were set up, how would it ensure that only the most needy - its target customers - can buy from it? There really is no way, short of getting people to be checked either through their latest payslip or latest income tax assessment or bank account - all of which are not fool-proof anyway. At the end of the day, LowPrice would probably cannibalise Fairprice's market, leading to shortages in LowPrice and forcing it either to raise prices, increase supplies at the expense of Fairprice, or close down. So I don't see why anyone should waste time bothering to study the viability of setting up a lower-priced retail outlet. This simple thought experiment should already suffice. The idea is dead before arrival. Instead, Fairprice should ask itself why its prices are not low enough for the poorer amongst us, if it is serious about the poor and affordability. Or has it lost its way with the segmenting of its market upwards with Fairprice Finest, Fairprice Xtra and (earlier) Liberty Market?

Image source: Author: Iván Melenchón Serrano

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Mas Selamat Caught!


Re-Captured! Mas Selamat Kastari found in the toilet of the Whitley Road Detention Centre (WRDC) on the morning of 1 April 2008.

Mas Selamat Kastari was found in the toilet from which he allegedly made his escape on 27 February 2008. He look sated and happy, although he had grown a long beard like that of Iran's former chief priest, the Ayatollah Khomeini's. Apparently, after being on the run for more than a month and surviving on MacRitchie Reservoir's forested food for the same period, he decided to return to captivity as he was getting sick of MacRitichie's forest food, leftovers from picnickers, and food meant for the monkeys. The more Mas Selamat fought over the food left behind for the MacRitchie Reservoir monkeys, the more he felt like an ape. He finally figured he deserved better food, which had been provided to him free of charge and free of fight at the WRDC.

Mas Selamat made it a point to visit the WRDC loo upon return because he was stinking all over and need to dump his sh*t, which he had accumulated for one month (eeirr...agh). Prison authorities estimate that they will need a whole bottle of shampoo to clean him up, but he will not be provided with 'Dove' brand shampoo, but the Dettol brand, which was more effective in detoxing and disinfecting the man. It was feared that Mas Selamat may have been infected with some monkey disease during the time of his abode and refuge in MacRitchie Reservoir forest.

The nation can now breath a sigh of relief that he has been found and re-incarcerated. Hey, Mack, go get the barber, quick!

P.S. Takeway lesson - don't leave food for the monkeys. You never know who you might end up feeding.