Friday, 28 December 2012

Annoyances on the bus: Wrong to avoid it?


WARNING!! ANGRY RANTS AHEAD!! READ AT YOUR OWN RISK!!





As I boarded bus 334 at Jurong East Terminal today, a middle-aged uncle started shouting at everyone the moment he came on board. Unable to withstand this noisy, rude (and possibly crazy) bastard, I alighted at the next stop. I related this incident to my family members, and their reply? "Well, if you're reacting to his shouting, then there's something wrong with you as well." Oh, so now it's MY FAULT that I can't "tahan" this uncle's verbal abuse?

Why should I, anyway? He paid for his fare, so did I. Why should I be subjected to his abuse? I admit that commotions in public transport ticks me off more than the average person (especially childrens' loud ramblings). But none of them were as irritating as this uncle. I'm sure that everyone wants some peace and quiet after a long day, so why should we put up with this bulls***? If I can't make that uncle get off the bus, then it's only right for me to get off to protect my sanity, right? Which is more important, sanity or 73 cents?

And suddenly, it's become MY FAULT for being so "intolerant". Well, SORRY FOR BEING SUCH AN INTOLERANT PRICK! What, I can't voice out my grievances? So I should keep it all in until my lid breaks and I become the next "crazy ah-lian shouting on the bus"?

No wonder we Singaporeans are "daft". I get scolded for trying to protect myself!

And please, PAP, the one with everyone's money, PLEASE give more resources to social/counselling centers around the nation. Right now, they're seriously under-funded and under-staffed. And with social tension + mental/family/relationship etc. problems on the rise, i'm afraid that our social services will collapse under all this extra weight.

On a side note, I should probably seek psychiatric help. I have too many things I want to do to let this f***ing country and its atrocities fray my nerves.


P.S. That uncle kept shouting "Nin lao peh xi xiang?" (who's your father in Hokkien). That's what pissed me off.

Saturday, 9 June 2012

Reuben Wang Saga: SG imitating China?

By now, Most Singaporeans in the cyber community would have already heard about the news of a JC student f***ing DPM Teo. In case you didn't, you can read it here.

The use of profanities towards a DPM can be seen as extremely rude, but the student did nothing more than express his own views. And many in the cyber community uses much more colorful words when criticizing the government. So I don't understand why DPM Teo had to make it into such a serious matter by calling both the student's father and teacher into a 30-minute meeting.

In Singapore (and possibly any other country), when one's parent and teacher is required to meet an authority figure (e.g. police), it means that the child has done something seriously wrong (e.g. a crime). While nothing might have happened during the meeting, just the pressure from having your parent and teacher in the same room is enough for a student to succumb and apologize (sincerely or insincerely), out of fear that his parent and studies would be implicated. Is this the kind of apology that Teo wants?

In China, human rights are non-existent. Workers are exploited and squeezed dry by business owners, with the backing of corrupt government officials asking for kickbacks. Necessities are becoming too expensive for their low wages to keep up. When the workers finally band up and protest in the hopes of getting better wages and working conditions, they are met with cruel suppression by the riot police. State media are nothing more than mouthpieces for the ruling party, and human rights activists get heavily fined, jailed or simply "disappear" for their comments against the atrocities happening in their own country.

After thinking about it, I found out that Singapore is really similar to China in many ways. Singapore is an economic hub, with growth and GDP so high that it wowed even the western countries. But local workers are squeezed out of jobs, while foreign workers are exploited in their current job. Wages are suppressed to keep costs low, and necessities are becoming too expensive due to inflation and a spike in demand (esp. housing). The state media will stop at nothing to propagate the ruling party "greatness" while labeling alternative views as insane and utter rubbish. The only thing that's missing here is that there are no protests in Singapore (due to some laws and peoples' fear of them).

This begets the question: Do Singapore really want to become the next China? With its citizens suffering in their own country, while the leaders sit on top of their ivory tower pretending that all is well?

p.s. On a second note, why can't DPM Teo just treat the JC student as part of the "lunatic fringe" and move on? Shows a lot about his character, no?

Wednesday, 2 May 2012

HDB Prices: Shocking!!

"HDB too expensive!!", "30-year loan!! Pay until die!!", "Can buy, but cannot keep!!"

These are the complaints I've been hearing recently. In fact, even my teacher talks about it. And DPM Tharman's "$1000 salary can buy HDB" theory didn't really help things either. To find out if this is true, I decided to do a bit of research.

I went to propertyguru.com.sg, and searched for a 3-room flat in Jurong West to compare against the flat that i'm living in now. A 3S flat in my block sold for $250,000 in December 2010. My mom bought her 3S flat for $80,000 19 years ago. See the difference? 

To show the difference more clearly, I did some basic calculations. Here's the math: 

Less 20% cash downpayment = $200,000
Gross monthly installment = $200,000/360 months(30 years) = $555.56 (rounded off to two decimal places). 
Add 1.08% interest, and the total monthly installment will be $561.55. 

With a $800 monthly salary (after deducting CPF), a family of four (2 adults + 2 kids) is left with only $238.45 to pay for utilities, food, education, transport etc. How to survive on that, when everything's so expensive nowadays?

Ok, suppose the employee decides to pay the loan with his CPF. Here's the maths:

20% employee contribution = $200 
16% employer contribution = $160
Total monthly contribution = $360

With the contribution rate as it is, the employee's CPF will be completely wiped out (if not negative) by the end of 30 years. With a $800 salary, I doubt the employee will have any savings after 30 years, when he retires. So what will he depend on when he retires? His children? Or collecting plates at hawker centers?


p.s. The calculations may be wrong, but i'm sure that monthly installments for 3-room flats are around this level. In fact, when I looked at a 4NG flat located in Pasir Ris One, propertyguru's mortgage calculator showed a monthly installment of $1,433!!

Wednesday, 18 April 2012

The Zheng Hui Ting Saga: What does it show?

"Singapore girl laughs at NSF who died during training: Singaporeans too weak? LOL". After reading this article, I felt that while the girl's comments are really insensitive, it is the comments that really pissed me off.

1st of all, I have an older brother who is serving NS. When he just finished his BMT, he was sent to the 3rd Guards Battalion even though he's the weakest guy in his company. I don't like my brother, but i'm still worried about his safety. I guess it's natural to worry about someone you know? And even if it's a complete stranger, you would still feel sad if you heard that a healthy young man suddenly died for no reason, right?

And now, on to the comments. In all these fury and chaos, it seems that some people have used the chance to hurl insults at Singaporean girls in general. One comment from Alex Wong said: "Fuck Singaporean Chinese Females". Another person, Fuck Them All, wrote: "Fuck all these small breasts, no ass, can't make sandwich materialistic Sinkie ugly SPG cunts. All they know is eat, shop and party, no different from prostitutes. What they deserve is to be fucked and chucked by Nigger drug dealers".

Now, maybe you had some terrible experience with Singaporean girls, that's why you feel that way. Fine, everyone's entitled to their own opinions. But by insulting the entire female population in Singapore, it only puts you in the same rank as the girl who started this entire saga in the 1st place. Don't forget, when you are insulting them, you are also insulting your own mother, sister, aunt, and wife (unless all of them are not Singaporeans).

All these insulting comments also made me think about our education system. What has it done to us? In the relentless pursuit of grades and paper qualifications, did we forget about the most basic form of respect for others? Have we degenerated into nothing but educated barbarians? Are we so lacking that we need cash awards in order for us to learn morals and develop good character?

1st things 1st, I am no saint. If you go by the books of law, I can't even be considered a good person, as I've broken the law before (mentioned in my previous posts). But I seriously feel that we need to keep our thoughts and language in check. Anger is good, as it shows that you care, but making use of the anger to hurl mindless and senseless insults at innocent people only makes you look like an idiot. And if you really need to post something on facebook that might cause controversy, there's always the "Only Me" option.


p.s. I changed the title as i felt that it would better reflect my thoughts on the entire saga. Sorry if I mislead you guys.

Friday, 13 April 2012

Mayor's Programme: What for?

I refer to an article on The Temasek Times titled "NTU introduces new 'Mayors Programme' to train PRC officials".

Basically, it's a training programme for high-ranking PRC officials that focuses on economic restructuring, urban and social management, and it seems that most people are concerned whether taxpayers' money was used to fund the course. But what i'm more concerned about is the very purpose of this programme, whether it's even necessary in the 1st place.

According to the information on NTU's website, the lecturers include:

Dr Yeo Ning Hong (former Minister for Defence and Health)
Mr Yeo Cheow Tong (former Minister of Transport)
Mr Mah Bow Tan (former Minister for National Development)
Mr Yeo Guat Kwang (MP for Ang Mo Kio GRC)
Mr Chan Soo Sen (former Minister of State for Education)
Mr Ngiam Tong Dow (former Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Finance)
Dr Liew Thai Ker (former CEO of the Urban Renewal Authority)
Mr Pei Sai Fan (Director of MAS Academy)

Looking at the lecturer list, I can't help but wonder if they are really qualified to teach the officials. I'm not sure about the rest, but Mr Mah is quite disliked by public, and Mr Yeo Guat Kwang is rumored to have 64 other positions in various companies and committees (read here for more info). A quick search on Google also revealed that Mr Chan Soo Sen is widely criticized by netizens, be it in his capabilities or attitude.

Now, the officials that are going through this Mayor's programme are not just some junior staffs or office grunts. They are senior, high-ranking officials that are at Director-General level or above. What if they heard about all these? Sure, 64 positions sounds amazing, but if a person is holding so many posts, how would he have the time to teach them? Also, would you want to spend money to be taught by people who are not even deemed capable by his own people?

Lastly (this is just my personal opinion), China needs more than just economic classes. What it really needs is some lessons on morals. There's a Chinese saying "If the parents are crooked, so are the children". And with the recent mannerisms shown in normal Mainland citizens, I dare say that these officials play a part in it as well. So NTU, please open up another course called "Mayor's Morals Programme", if you can.


Source: http://news.ntu.edu.sg/pages/newsdetail.aspx?URL=http%3A%2F%2Fnews.ntu.edu.sg%2Fnews%2FPages%2FNR2012_Apr12.aspx&Guid=7d670892-53db-4056-abea-f16764d7226c&Category=News+Releases

Wednesday, 11 April 2012

Public Transport: Why so many problems?

"66 year old woman killed after being hit by SBS bus in Sengkang this morning""SMRT bus mowed down school boy at traffic junction in Woodlands". These are the headlines I've seen over the past week. Besides these incidents where innocent lives were injured or loss, there are also countless numbers of "train disruptions" where thousands of commuters were affected.

When SBS and SMRT increased their fares last year, it was due to "cost pressures" and they guaranteed that the increase will bring about "better service for the commuters". So is this the "better service" that they are talking about? Why are these problems only surfacing now, and not before the fare increase?

I searched throughout the internet, and found this article on asiaone.com regarding the training and working hours of bus drivers in SBS. Below is an extract:

"ALL our new bus captains go through a structured 29-day training programme which focuses on driving and safety skills as well as customer service skills.

Our bus captains from China go through an extra 21 days of training which familiarises them with local driving conditions and teaches them basic conversational English.

After the initial training programme, all new bus captains are paired with a mentor who is an experienced bus captain."

If so much is done for the drivers' training, then why are there so many incidents involving Mainland drivers? Maybe they should review their training course.

Now on to the MRT. According to SMRT, the recent train delays were caused by "falling or missing parts on the tracks", "ponding", "heavy traffic", "faulty signalling systems" etc. Explain all you want, but the truth is, the commuters do not care about the cause. What they want is a solution. And from the recent spate of events, I can only come to the conclusion that more problems are going to come while the tops guns are continuing to sleep on it.

After all the ranting, here is my view on why all these s*** are happening now. As I mentioned in my earlier post (read it here), Temasek Holdings have 54% of SMRT's shares (54.3% as at 16 May 2011), and since SMRT gives out dividends to its shareholders, we can assume that Temasek Holdings is getting the lion's share. And if you look at the founders and CEO of Temasek Holdings, everything becomes clear.  I won't spell it out here, lest I get arrested for "causing public disorder by spreading false rumors".

My sources:
http://news.asiaone.com/News/Mailbox/Story/A1Story20120407-338232.html (On the drivers' training)
http://www.smrt.com.sg/investors/FAQs.asp (On the stake Temasek Holdings have in SMRT, scroll down to see it)

Monday, 9 April 2012

Change in Parliament: Will it help?

I have read a news article on Yahoo! News titled "MM Lee on losing power: That day will come" and I was particularly disturbed by one thing that MM Lee said. He said that "If we are voted out, the system is still working." and "The new government cannot frivolously change the top man with its own sycophants nor spend the country's past reserves without the President's consent. They need to govern within these rules".

Sounds good, but what this also means is that even if the Parliament were to fall into the hands of the opposition, the top guns will still be controlled by the PAP. When that happens, the entire Parliament will become a sub-version of Republicans VS Democrats. No proposals nor plans, good or bad, will get passed due to conflicting interests, and the entire nation will come to a standstill.

There's also more worries for the Opposition. A quick check on Temasek Holdings on Wikipedia revealed that it has major investments in the following: DBS Group Holdings (28%), MediaCorp (100%), Singtel (55%), Neptune Orient Lines(66%), SMRT (54%), CapitaLand (40%), Raffles Holdings (fully owned), SembCorp Industries (49%), Singapore Power(100%). There are much more, but these are the most prominent ones I could find.

The percentages reflect the shares Temasek Holdings has on these companies. The problem here is that these companies have a big impact on Singapore's economy in the Shipping, Banking, Power and Hospitality sector (and maybe much more). Some of these companies also impacts the lives of Singaporeans directly. And Temasek Holdings is their major shareholder, with Ho Ching as the CEO. What do you get? A PAP monopoly on Singapore, be it in the business landscape or in the lives of Singaporeans.

Of course, even if it wins the majority of seats in the next GE, the Opposition does not have to go on a "sweeping operation" right away. It should focus on improving the lives of citizens first before trying to loosen the firm grip PAP has on Singapore. But what i'm afraid is that PAP, in a bid to regain control, will start "fighting" with the Opposition in the background, ultimately causing us ordinary people to suffer.

So this is what I ask of myself and my readers: Are we willing to take this risk? I guess 60% aren't willing to do so yet. But if things remain as they are, this country will definitely decline. Therefore, come next GE, i'll be taking the big gamble. What about you?

Tuesday, 3 April 2012

Living in Singapore: The Good, The Bad and The Funny(?)

I came across a picture on Facebook which described the cons of living in Singapore. While I can't help but agree with it, it really made me laugh. It also gave me a sudden urge to write. So here I am, sharing the good, the bad, and the funny things about living in Singapore, based on a conversation I had with a Malaysian colleague (I worked for a month at a factory) .



The Good


Security - He told me that this is at the top of his "like" list. He felt safe here, and do not have to worry about going out at night. I told him about the recent incidents that happened, and he told me that while there's more occurrences now, Singapore's security is still better compared to other countries.

Convenience - While I continued chatting with him about living in Singapore, he told me another thing he liked here is convenience. Unlike other countries, travelling only takes around an hour or so (From Boon Lay to Pasir Ris via MRT). And Since most towns are well-developed (in terms of access to facilities like hawker centers and schools), most people do not have to travel far to settle their meals and other issues.



The Bad


Pace - "Everyone and everything's moving too fast", he commented. "You go to the MRT stations and see. Gate open, and everyone's out in one second. It's really dangerous for the weak and elderly if they're caught in this rush."

I replied : "So if I want to film a documentary on Singaporeans taking the MRT, I would need to run my film on slow-motion, cos everything will be so fast, the audience can't see anything at normal speed!"


Level of Stress -  This is also on his "dislike" list. He said that too many Singaporeans are too tensed up, and that he is also feeling the pressure. "even though standard of living is poorer back at home, people at my hometown are much happier and relaxed."



The Funny(?)


After listing out his thoughts about Singapore, he proceeded to ask me: "so what do YOU like about Singapore?"

I was stumped. I searched through my brain for an answer, but no matter how hard I tried, I just couldn't find an answer. He probably saw the blank look on my face, because he didn't press on any further. How is it that a Malaysian can list out the pros and cons about Singapore, while a local Singaporean like me can't think of anything at all? Is it funny, or should I be sad at the fact that I've lost touch with my motherland?

Sunday, 1 April 2012

My Dilemma: Should the young enter politics?

There has been uproars over the MP's words recently, be it ministerial salary, public transport or even HDB upgrading. Their comments have sparked dissent and complaints in the cyber community, and it seems that with each topic discussed and each word spoken, things just gets more complicated.

I remembered some time back, before the 2011 GE, PAP said that they had difficulty in getting highly educated youths to serve the nation as MPs, because they can get a better pay in the private sector. But I personally felt that things are not that simple, and the reason is far more personal.

During the 2011 GE, I had thought of entering politics because I was appalled with the situation in Singapore, and I wanted to change it, even if it's impossible. I told my father about it, and the 1st thing that he said is: "Are you willing to lose your dignity and your family?"

I wasn't shocked at his words. You see, my history wasn't "clean". My grades were bad, I played truant countless times during secondary school, I stole money from my classmates, and I got a 15-month probation for shoplifting(I completed my probation successfully). My father was a gangster in his early days and had gone to prison 5-6 times. If I insist on entering politics, this is what would happen: I would definitely be rejected by PAP even if I wanted to join them, so my only option is to join the opposition or start my own party. But by doing so, I would become an enemy of PAP, and my "dirty linen" would be dug out and aired in public. I would be shamed along with my family.

If this is the price to pay for entering politics, then it's too big for me. I don't mind being shamed; I have endured it for a long time and a bit more won't kill me. But I can't possibly let my family go through the same torture when they haven't done anything wrong. I'm sure many people, not just youths, think that way. The emotional pressure is not something that a normal person can bear.

Another reason of concern is recognition. My classmate was a member of the Young PAP, but he left after a short while. I asked for the reason, and he said : " i'm just an ITE student. Do you think PAP will listen to my views when they only want Bachelors, Masters and PHDs with 1st class Honors?"

To sum it up, elitism, emotional pressure and a "Bochup" attitude are preventing youths from entering politics. I was once passionate about my country and wanted to make a change, but with all these walls in front of me, I do not have the strength nor the courage to go further. I became disillusioned. Now, I want nothing more than to get out of this country asap.

So here's my question to all: Is politics only reserved for the elite? Just because you are not academically inclined, or you have a bad record, you are barred from serving your country and improving the lives of your fellow comrades?

Saturday, 17 March 2012

Is it a ‘good time’ to buy Euro debts now?

I refer to an article written by The Temasek Times on 17/3/2012, titled "Lee Kwan Yew: It's a 'good' time to buy Euro debts now"

According to the article, Mr Lee Kwan Yew said that "Now is a good time to invest in distressed and undervalued European assets, euro debts and euro bonds". Pushing all his contradictions aside, what i'm more interested in is whether his words can be taken as true.

In terms of "Buy Low, Sell High", what Mr Lee said isn't wrong. A lot of rich Chinese are buying up European properties, and if they continue, the property market in there can see some hope. But a country's economy isn't decided by only its properties. And the problem here is that the euro zone is NOT a single country, it's an ENTIRE GROUP of countries, that's why it's called the EURO ZONE. Because they share the same currency, if one country screws up, another country's success will mean squat. That's what's happening now. Because of Greece's debts, the whole zone is in deep s*** right now.

Here's problem 2. The European Union won't (or can't, or both) bail out Greece. If you read the news (or listen to the radio), The big guns up there can't decide whether to continue bailing out Greece or not. From what I hear, Germany isn't willing to continue doing so. If they decide to stop helping, Greece will have to default on its debts. When that happens, other smaller countries with huge debts will follow suit (remember the PIIGS?), which will cause another wave of economic crisis, when the current one isn't fully solved yet.

Problem 3. Other countries are not willing/able to bail out Greece. USA is swamped with debt right now, and other countries do not have the capacities to bail out such a big economy. People are now looking to China, with it's huge economy and reserves and all, but they forgot that China is just an emerging country, and it's economy is rather new and unstable. China wouldn't want to risk it's economy to bail out something as huge and complicated as the euro zone. So what if its exports to Europe decline? It's better to lose an arm than to lose your entire life right?

And here's the biggest problem which will cause more problems in the future. The euro countries are fundamentally different right from the start. Some are big, some are small. Some are richer, some are poorer. An example I read from somewhere some time ago clearly illustrates this point.

Here's the example: Germany and Greece produce bicycles. Because of Germany's resources and capacities, it can produce and sell bicycles at $1000 each. On the other hand, Greece can only produce the same bicycles at $1500 each due to it's smaller size and resource limitations. Because of that, Greece's goods are unpopular. Greece wanted to devalue it's currency so as to attract more buyers, but because it shares the same currency with Germany, it can't do so. In the end, they decided to borrow a lot of money. When they can't pay, they borrowed even more.

It's an extremely simple example, but it clearly illustrates the differences between various euro countries. Unless they iron out this fundamental problem, the euro zone will only encounter more trouble, even if they manage to solve the current one.

p.s. In case you don't know what the PIIGS are, it represents the countries that have big debts and are most likely to default on it. They are Portugal, Italy, Ireland, Greece, and Spain.

Monday, 27 February 2012

Lease Buyback Scheme: worth it or not?

There has been a recent debate over the low take-up rate of the Lease Buyback Scheme, a Government initiative that supposedly give elderly homeowners a source of income by buying back part of their home lease, putting it in an annuity, and then pay out a certain sum of money on a monthly basis. But at the end of the day, people are asking: is it worth it or not?


From my understanding, the Buyback scheme is only available for elderly who are 65 years old and above. Assume that they bought a flat with full 99-year lease at 30 years old (standard age of marriage) and took up a 30-year loan, they should have more or less paid up their loan and still left with 64 years of lease when they hit 65. Then the Gov buys back part of the lease (34 years in this example) and leaves 30 years for the couple to live in the flat. So the couple will be 95 years old by the time the lease expires.

Sounds good, but it leaves me with a few questions. How is the lease’s value calculated? How much will the couple get monthly? What happens if the elderly dies before the annuity dries up? Or if the annuity will dry up before the elderly passes on?

Unless meaningful data is calculated from the households who signed up (e.g. lease value, amount left in annuity etc) and presented in an easy-to-understand table, people are just gonna keep second-guessing the Gov’s intent, be it good or bad.

Assuming that no hidden agendas are involved, let’s compare the Buyback scheme against simple downgrading. With the ridiculous COV right now, it might make better sense for elderly homeowners to sign up for the Buyback scheme if they need a source of income desperately. But things change. COV might come down in the near future, and it might make better sense to downgrade, and then put the money in a savings or investment plan when that time comes. 

So my final verdict is: No need to rush into things. For working adults who are still in their 40’s, there’s still 20+ more years before retirement. So plan for both ends, then look at the market situation when retirement comes. In conclusion, it all depends on your retirement plan and the level of autonomy you want over your money.