Friday, January 30, 2009

So where are the jobs for Singaporeans?

According to News article "Singapore's employment growth slows, jobless rate up at 2.6% in Q4" from

"Singapore’s unemployment rate in the last quarter of 2008 rose to a seasonally adjusted 2.6 per cent, up from 2.2 per cent in the third quarter on rising retrenchments with slowing employment growth and a weaker economy.

According to official data from the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) released Friday, about 73,100 Singapore residents were jobless in December, a steep 58 per cent jump year-on-year."

So what do we do now? Where can we go now?

And in the article, Acting Manpower Minister Gan Kim Yong said:

"Some of them may have skills that have to be changed. Some of them may need to look for opportunities in other industries and some may need to go through conversion courses. Our tripartite partners are working with the various companies in the manufacturing sector to preempt retrenchments."

Skills that have to be changed? Look for opportunities in other industries? Go through conversion courses?

Let's take a look at the range of jobs found in some of the popular job recruitment sites:
  • Full Time Sales Co-ordinators. Must have a hunger for good sales result and be able to work retail hours including weekends.

  • Sales Executive. To establish new clientele, project manage account & meet sales target. Self-motivated, aggressive & possesses initiative. Must possess class 3 driving license. 5-day week.

  • HR/Admin Assistant.Proficient in Microsoft Office, 1-2 yrs relevant working experience. Mature & independent Willingness to learn & work with challenging timelines. Able to communicate with Chinese speaking staff.

  • Telemarketer. Part time / freelance telemarketer position. Cold calling in the evenings and weekends. Ideal for working personnel wanting to supplement their regular income. No product selling or appointment fixing. Calling to survey and gather data.

  • Accounts / Admin Assistant. Able to read Chinese & English Documents. 'O' Levels. Min 1 Year Experience. Good w Computers. Team Player. Good Attitude. Good Communication Skills. 5.5 Days.

  • Spa Therapists. Full Time Nail Station Manager required. Duties include training of new staff, stock taking, planning of staff schedule and normal work routines like manicure & pedicure. No requirements required, training will be provided.

Imagine you have a degree, and were working as a manager drawing a monthly pay up to $4,000. Which one of the jobs above will you apply for? Admin assistant? Sales executive? Or telemarketer?

If you were a System Application Manager from Sony, are you ready to exchange your IT skill with Sales skill so that you could be a Sales Executive?

If you were a Production Engineer from Chartered Semiconductors, are you ready to attend a training course to become a Nail Station Manager?

If you were a Financial Manager from Citibank, are you ready to work as an Accounts Assistant in the Shipping industry?

So what should these degree holders who used to be from middle management do now?

"There are bound to be other jobs for professionals, senior executives and managers!" you may say...
  • Jobs in MNC? Caterpillar to slash 20,000 jobs. Electronics giant Philips and banking group ING said they were slashing 13,000 jobs worldwide. So which MNC shall we look at now?

  • Jobs in large local corporates? Remember how they were previously encouraged to contract out their IT/Finance to India/China to save cost? So you think at difficult times like this, they have turned patriotic and decided to employ Singaporeans who will cost them more?

  • Jobs in SMEs? If they are paying you peanuts during the good times, what are you expecting from them during the bad times?

  • Jobs in Statutory boards or GLCs? With their known preference for local degrees over degrees from reputable worldwide universities, even the best in UK, what are your chances in getting the job? With their known preference for scholars to lead the companies, how far can you go in the company if you are not one?

  • Whatever jobs that are left?On top of competing with the other Singaporeans, you have to fight with the foreign talents that our country has opened the big wide door to. So you think you can work longer hours than them and receive lower pay than them?

Alas, friends, Singaporeans, countrymen! If you are holding a degree and working as a professional/senior executive/manager, pray hard that your job is here to stay!



Wednesday, January 28, 2009

If 40 percent of museum visitors are tourists, then how many locals are visiting?


Ah Tan walked into the meeting room with a few pieces of papers in his right hand. Three managers from the Tourism Board were already seated at the table, each of them as jittery as the one next to him. Ah Tan took the chairman seat and cleared his throat.

AH TAN: Gentlemen, I understand that you've just released a piece of interesting news to the press.
MANAGER A: Yes Sir! "Singapore Flyer gets 5,000 visitors on first full day of operations"! That was really one piece of good news!
AH TAN (pointing finger at the three managers): No! I'm not talking about that! And yes! About the Flyer! You people had better make sure that preposterous incident don't repeat itself! Everybody all over the world will be watching it now and waiting for the next stuck-in-flyer-for-6-freaking-hours to happen again!
MANAGER B: Yes Sir! We've formed a committee to stay alert watching the Flyer everyday during its operating hours!
AH TAN: You people had better know what you're doing. I'm sure you won't want to take the blame and leave as well right?
ALL MANAGERS (together): No Sir!

Ah Tan placed the few pieces of papers on the table.

AH TAN: What I'm talking about is this piece of news. "Tourists account for 40% of total museum visitors in 2008". Do you know what does this mean?
MANAGER A: Er... that tourists like to go to Singapore museums?
AH TAN: And?
MANAGER C: Er... and it means we should be able to raise the museum admission charges now?
AH TAN: So that the headline next year can be "40% drop in the number of tourists visiting museum in 2009"? No you idiot!

Manager C swallowed, took out a pack of tissue from his pocket and grabbed a piece to wipe the perspiration off his forehead.

AH TAN (sighing): This means only 60% of the total museum visitors are locals. Don't you see the problem here? With the economy getting that bad, less tourists will come to Singapore. Which means that if the locals don't go to museums, nobody will! Are you ready to close some of these museums?
ALL MANAGERS (together): Ohh...
AH TAN: You need to focus more on reaching out to the locals! Make them go to the museums!
MANAGER A: Er... Sir, the locals? They're just not there you know? Their educational and cultural level... our museums are not built to attract this group of people. Our museums are marketed towards the those rich ang mohs who are fasinated by Asian culture.
AH TAN: Well, then change your marketing strategy! You'll need to attract Singaporeans now, especially the heartlanders!
MANAGER B: But they're simply not interested!
AH TAN: Then get them interested! That idea to make use of what's-that-guy's-name to bring the locals around the National Museum was not a bad one. Do more of these!
MANAGER C: Oh! You mean Mark Lee! So we should get more Ah Bengs and Ah Lians to bring the locals to museums?

All stared at Manager C so hard it was as if the stares could set him on fire.

MANAGER B: Hmm... Ah! I know what! We should invite the casts from "The Little Nonya" to bring the locals around the Peranakan Museum!
MANAGER A: And to attract the youngsters, we should invite famous bloggers like Mr Brown and Xiaxue to promote the Asian Civilisations Museum!
MANAGER C: And Daphne Ang and Jake to promote the Singapore Art Museum!
AH TAN, MANAGER A, MANAGER B (together shouting): What?!!

Manager C grinned apologetically and grabbed another piece of tissue to wipe the perspiration off his forehead.

MANAGER A: Erm... Sir, do we need to lower the museum admission charges as well? Maybe if it's cheaper, more locals will go?
AH TAN: No! The locals will only be attracted if it's free, not cheaper! So don't bother about lowering the charges.
MANAGER B: But we can't make it free for locals! That'll badly affect our margin!
AH TAN: Make it free on selective days.
MANAGER B: Like on a weekday during working hours like 2 to 5pm?
AH TAN: That's an idea... but you'll have to throw in some public holidays or weekends once in a while, or else the locals will complain that we're not sincere.
MANAGER B: Oh... okay...

Manager A had a deep thought, frowned and folded his arms.

MANAGER A: But Sir, this still doesn't solve the problem that lots of the locals are not educated and cultural enough to visit the museums.
AH TAN: Well... we can't bring down the standard of our museums just to accomodate these people. Don't forget that the ang mohs are still our main target.
MANAGER A (sighing): You're right...
AH TAN: Well gentlemen, you'll just have to work on it then. Go back and think about it, and bring me a proposal by next week.
ALL MANAGERS (together): Yes Sir!



Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Interesting Singaporen Causes on Facebook

Stand Up Against Ridiculous Clients Who Think They Rule The World
Alot of times we meet people who do not understand and take for granted the process behind the creation of beautiful visuals and the people who make campaigns effective for them. We need to stand up against their ridiculous demands, ridiculous budgets and ridiculous timelines!

Total members: 313

Say NO to Shark Fins
In the last fifteen years demand for shark fin soup has boomed in Asia. Hong Kong, Singapore and Taiwan are the main shark fin trading centres. Shark fin soup is served at Chinese weddings and banquets to symbolise wealth and prestige.

Asian consumers are unaware of the cruelty and unsustainability of the shark fin trade.

Increasingly on the high seas sharks are “finned” and the rest of their bodies, often still alive, are dumped at sea. Sharks (unlike most other fish) have only a few young at a time and so take a long time to recover from exploitation. Shark meat is often too low-value compared to the target species (e.g. tuna) so 95-99% of the shark is discarded to conserve hold space.

Shark populations around the world are in decline. Worldwide, 90% of large fish including sharks have been wiped out from our oceans since 1950, according to a 2003 study published in Nature.

Total members: 246

Stomp out STOMP for good!
We believe STOMP (Straits Times Online Media Print) has more potential for harm than good.

It is an unnecessary tool for surveillance, and has resulted in unnecessary intrusions into the private lives of Singaporeans.

It infantilises Singaporeans, discouraging them from thinking critically about social issues by encouraging vouyeuristic journalism.

STOMP should be shut down for good as it is a detriment toward the establishment of a Renaissance City.

Alternatively, it should be revamped so that it promotes critical thought about the social issues of our day.

Total members: 182

Stop Sentosa Integrated Resort Marine Life Park getting sharks & dolphins from the wild!
An integrated resort currently under construction in Singapore, Resorts World Sentosa is persisting in importing whalesharks and 18 bottlenose dolphins FROM THE WILD for its Marine Life Park in 2010.

This is despite protests from all the animal rights groups here who have explained the impact of the plan. These creatures have been caught from the wild for show, even though there are enough captive-bred ones around for 'use'.

These creatures need lots of space and will not thrive in captivity. They are listed as endangered animals. Current population in the wild is already small and will be depleted beyond sustainable levels.

Total members: 150

Ban SG Taxi Drivers who deliberately endanger motorists and pedestrians with their reckless driving
"I'm a taxi driver and i can stop anywhere i want" - Explained an anonymous Taxi Driver who almost collided with another motorist.

We would like to create awareness that taxi drivers should be conscientiously practicing road safety codes and not choosing to 1) change lanes abruptly without signaling, 2) sudden acceleration & braking, 3) come to a sudden stop without turning on the hazard light, 4) take up two lanes as and when they please, 5) squeeze cars and motorcycles out of their lanes by forcefully entering into their lanes, 6) make illegal U-turns just to pick up passengers on the other side of the road, 7) road hog the right most lane of expressways, 8) make turns that result in the oncoming vehicle to brake hard

There are still many incidents that are not mentioned. We are not saying that other motorists are angels. However, we believe the standard of Taxi Drivers in Singapore must be reviewed and adjusted. They are not just people making a living on the road, they hold our lives in their hands.

Total members: 89

And some other interesting Uniquely Singaporean causes:

  • Save Joo Chiat
    "Rid Joo Chiat of red-light elements. Promote Joo Chiat Heritage & Cultural life."
    Perhaps a "Save Jurong" and "Save Serangoon" from the invasion of foreign workers too? Or maybe "Save Chinatown" from how hilariously commercialised it has become?

  • Stop Scholars Whining
    "Scholars cannot stop complaining about their bond with the company. They cannot wait for the opportunity to change situation."
    And by donating to the cause you will help to defray the huge amount when scholars break their bond. You are donating to save our pitiful scholars so that they could break their bond with maybe a GLC or statboard, so that they could get another job with higher pay in a MNC? Even if it means they should not have taken up the bond in the first place and deprived others of their chances?

  • Boycott Singapore Taxi Hike!
    "Public Transport Fares should not be increased anyhow!
    Taxi companies should justify their fare increases
    Taxi companies should instead lower taxi rental for cabbies"
    But who is listening? Who is even reading this cause?

  • Cycle in Singapore!
    "Many European countries as well as China and India are already doing this. Why not Singapore?"
    Don't even get me started on the way the China Chinese and India Indians are cycling on our roads and pedestrian walkways!

  • Bring back chewing gum to Singapore
    "As a law abiding tax payer, I say bring back the Wrigleys!!!!"
    That is a truly Singaporean dream. But then again, with the Causeway around, who needs this cause?

  • Against the long waiting time between Singapore and Malaysia Causeway

  • PKL on MRT escalators

  • Stop Employee Cruelty!

  • Let Pedestrian Walkways be meant for that purpose

  • Whats the hurry, let us alight!



Friday, January 23, 2009

Singapore Budget 2009 Speech by Finance Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam


The Resilience Package of $20.5 billion for FY2009 will have five components:
  • First, jobs for Singaporeans. We will spend $5.1 billion to help preserve jobs.

  • Second, stimulating bank lending. We expect to extend $5.8 billion in government capital for a Special Risk-Sharing Initiative (SRI). Of this, a small fraction is likely to be eventually expended on provisions for loan losses.

  • Third, enhancing business cash-flow and competitiveness. We will implement tax measures and grants for businesses that will cost $2.6 billion.

  • Fourth, supporting families. We will spend $2.6 billion to support Singaporean households this year. This is on top of the benefits they will derive from the measures to preserve jobs.

  • Fifth, building a home for the future. We will spend $4.4 billion on developing first class infrastructure for the island and on expanded provisions for education and healthcare.


  • Jobs Credit
    To sustain jobs for Singaporeans, we will introduce a Jobs Credit which will encourage our businesses to preserve jobs as much as is possible in the downturn.

    The Jobs Credit that an employer receives will comprise 12% of the first $2,500 of the wages of each employee who is on the CPF payroll. It will be given in four quarterly payments, with each payment being based on the workers who are with the employer at the time. This will therefore provide incentive for employers to retain their local workers. For example, for a worker whose wage is $2,500, an employer will get $900 a quarter, or $300 a month

  • Re-skilling: SPUR for workers and professionals
    We have to step up training across all levels of the workforce, including our PMETs (professionals, managers, executives and technicians). To cater to the needs of PMETs, WDA aims to double the number of Professional Conversion Programmes over the coming year, from 23 currently.

    We will make two more enhancements to SPUR to help PMETs re-train. SPUR currently provides course fee subsidies of 80% for PMET-level courses. We will be increasing the subsidy rate for PMET courses that are eligible for SPUR to 90%, the same subsidy level as rank-and-file level courses. This includes all Specialist and Advanced Diplomas offered by our polytechnics. Further, WDA will bring under SPUR, selected tertiary courses at UniSIM and our three publicly funded universities.

  • WIS Special Payment to help with lower wages
    The WIS Special Payment will provide low-income workers with an additional 50% of the WIS payments that they will receive over the course of this year. As an illustration, a 50-year old employee who has been working throughout 2008 and 2009, earning $1,000 a month, will receive $600 in WIS Special Payment, fully in cash. This will be on top of the $1,200 in WIS that he will receive for this year’s work.

  • Government will hire more now
    In all, we expect a total of 18,000 public sector jobs to be made available over the next two years4. (This includes government-supported jobs outside of the Government in areas such as childcare, tertiary education, and restructured hospitals.)


  • The New Bridging Loan Programme
    First, we will introduce a new Bridging Loan Programme (BLP), that will be substantially enhanced from the scheme introduced in November. The new BLP will cater to loans of up to $5 million (up from $500,000 currently), which will meet the working capital needs of most mid-sized firms, and also some of the larger ones. We will also increase the Government’s share of risk on these loans from 50% to 80%. Further, the new BLP will enable banks to set their own interest rates. This will allow higher-risk borrowers to still gain access to credit, even if it is at a higher interest rate. However, with the Government taking the bulk of the risk, I am sure that the banks will be fair and price their loans reasonably.

  • Trade financing
    The current trade financing schemes are working well but face constraints because of the limited private insurance capacity and a reduced risk appetite in the industry. Mid-sized and large exporters have had difficulty obtaining loans on the scale they need. To address the situation, the Government will step in to share the risk for trade financing, including 75% for trade loans.


  • Easing business cash-flow
    I will provide a 40% property tax rebate for industrial and commercial properties for 2009.

  • Loss carry-back
    I will increase the cap on losses that can be claimed against past taxable income to $200,000 from $100,000 currently. I will also allow businesses to claim losses against their preceding three years of taxable income, instead of just the immediate preceding year under the current scheme. In addition, IRAS will allow provisional claims for the tax refund to be based on estimated losses (instead of waiting for the finalisation of their chargeable income and tax assessments). This will allow businesses to obtain their refunds much earlier - by six to 18 months in most cases.

  • Foreign-Sourced Income Exemption
    Over the years, many of our companies have internationalised their operations and earned a growing proportion of their income overseas. To help these companies, I will temporarily expand the scope of the Foreign-Sourced Income Exemption scheme which was introduced in 2003 to cover all foreign-sourced income. I will also temporarily lift the conditions that are currently required for foreign- sourced income to be exempted from tax when remitted to Singapore. With these temporary changes, they will be able to make the best use of all their sources of funds to meet business financing needs in Singapore at this time of credit tightness. All foreign incomes which have been earned before today will be exempted from tax when they are remitted, with immediate effect for one year.

  • Transport-related taxes
    First, a 30% road tax rebate for goods vehicles, buses and taxis for one year. The rebate will take effect on 1 July 2009 and will yield savings of about $40 million for businesses. In addition, I will waive the special (diesel) tax for un-hired taxis for one year which will yield savings of about $6 million. MOT will work with the taxi operators and the taxi operator associations to have the savings passed on to taxi drivers. Second, I will extend the special tax exemption for CNG (Compressed Natural Gas) vehicles for two years till 31 December 2011. However, from January 2012, a CNG unit duty will be introduced at $0.20 per kg. With this further two-year extension of tax exemption, CNG vehicle owners would have time to adjust to the changes. The CNG duty rate of $0.20 per kg will be significantly below the equivalent duty that we currently levy on petrol.

  • Further extension of the government fee freeze
    As a further short-term measure to help businesses, the Government will freeze government fees and charges with immediate effect, to the end of 2009. Like the fee freeze in 2008, it will be applied to all government-provided services (including all license fees).

  • CIT cut from 18% to 17% for YA2010
    We will take a further step to sharpen our competitiveness. I have decided this year to reduce the corporate income tax from 18% to 17% effective from YA2010. This will cost us $400 million to $500 million a year over the medium term.


  • Additional GST Credits
    I will therefore double the GST Credits that households will receive in 2009. Each household will get an additional payout of GST Credits, on top of the one that they will receive in July. To help households with their immediate needs, the additional GST Credits will be paid out on 1 March 2009.

    As before, more GST Credits will be given more to the low-income and the old. For example, a Singaporean retiree (aged 60 or above) living in a four-room HDB flat, will get an additional $400, or a total of $800 in GST Credits and Senior Citizens’ Bonuses in 2009.

  • S&CC and rental rebates
    I will also provide an additional one month of S&CC rebates for those in one to three-room HDB flats, who will therefore receive a total of 3 to 4.5 months for this year. Those in larger flats will receive a total of one to two months of rebates.

  • Tax assistance to households
    To help households which pay income tax, I will give a personal income tax rebate of 20% for tax residents for Year of Assessment 2009. This will provide immediate reduction in their tax payable for last year’s income. The rebate will be capped at $2,000.

    I will also provide a 40% property tax rebate for owner-occupied residential properties for 2009. Currently, those who own higher value homes or secondary residences have to pay income tax on the Net Annual Value of their residential property. I have decided to remove this tax on Net Annual Value with effect from Year of Assessment 2010.

More details of the speech on



    Thursday, January 22, 2009

    US President Barack Obama 2009 Inauguration Speech

    "...This is the journey we continue today. We remain the most prosperous, powerful nation on Earth. Our workers are no less productive than when this crisis began. Our minds are no less inventive, our goods and services no less needed than they were last week or last month or last year. Our capacity remains undiminished. But our time of standing pat, of protecting narrow interests and putting off unpleasant decisions - that time has surely passed. Starting today, we must pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off, and begin again the work of remaking America..."

    "...Nor is the question before us whether the market is a force for good or ill. Its power to generate wealth and expand freedom is unmatched, but this crisis has reminded us that without a watchful eye, the market can spin out of control - and that a nation cannot prosper long when it favors only the prosperous..."

    "...Recall that earlier generations faced down fascism and communism not just with missiles and tanks, but with sturdy alliances and enduring convictions. They understood that our power alone cannot protect us, nor does it entitle us to do as we please. Instead, they knew that our power grows through its prudent use; our security emanates from the justness of our cause, the force of our example, the tempering qualities of humility and restraint..."

    "...To the Muslim world, we seek a new way forward, based on mutual interest and mutual respect. To those leaders around the globe who seek to sow conflict, or blame their society’s ills on the West - know that your people will judge you on what you can build, not what you destroy. To those who cling to power through corruption and deceit and the silencing of dissent, know that you are on the wrong side of history; but that we will extend a hand if you are willing to unclench your fist..."



    Wednesday, January 21, 2009

    Start some association of bloggers to monitor those rebels


    Ah Tan sat on his bed, reading through some papers while his wife walked in, with a SK2 mask over her face. She sat down next to Ah Tan and noticed that he was staring blankly at his papers.

    AH TAN'S WIFE (putting her hand on Ah Tan's): Dear, are you okay? Still bothered by the pay cut?
    AH TAN: Huh? Oh... no lah... I'm trying to resolve this challenge that Mr Teo gave me last week. AH TAN'S WIFE: Which is?
    AH TAN: He wanted me to think of a way to control the Singapore blogging community. You know lah, ever since the other time when Malaysia's election was drastically affected by their bloggers, the Boss has been quite concerned about how our own bloggers are affecting the Singaporeans.
    AH TAN'S WIFE: Hmm... can't blame him for that.
    AH TAN: Yah... Do you have any great ideas?
    AH TAN'S WIFE (staring far): Like that ah... I think in the first place, what you should do is to gather all those Singaporean bloggers right? If not, how will you know who to monitor?
    AH TAN: Gather them? Oh! You mean like some kinda association or club?
    AH TAN'S WIFE: Yap!
    AH TAN: Hmm... but will any blogger join? I mean... why will those rebellious ones listen to us and register themselves with the association? It's like giving us a way to track them, who they are, what they write, out of their own free will! It's difficult lah...
    AH TAN'S WIFE: Haiyah! If you go out and announce it, of course only the pro-government bloggers will join! You should try to get to some of those famous and yet not that rebellious bloggers, and offer them this chance to start up this association. They should be the one starting it, not you!
    AH TAN: Ah! That's a brilliant idea! I can sell to them that this association is all theirs, and the government will not interfere with their operations at all!
    AH TAN'S WIFE: Yes, and it's very important to make them understand that the reason for this association is for the government to engage with the people and to care for them, not to monitor or track them.
    AH TAN: But we still need them to register with their real identities...
    AH TAN'S WIFE: Tell them it's for administrative purposes only.
    AH TAN (rubbing his chin): Sounds workable...

    Ah Tan's wife got out of bed and went into the kitchen. When she was back, her SK2 mask had been removed. She got into bed and laid next to Ah Tan.

    AH TAN'S WIFE: I know there is this girl in my department who reads blogs regularly. Tomorrow I'll chat with her and try to find out who are the popular bloggers and I'll give you the names.
    AH TAN: That's great! Thank you so much, Dear! You know what, just now I was thinking, whoever this chairperson of this new association is going to be, I'm going to suggest to him or her that this association of bloggers should charge membership fees!
    AH TAN'S WIFE (shocked): Membership fees? Then who'll join?!!
    AH TAN: More bloggers will join! That's why we join country clubs what! And the more expensive the country club is, the more we want to join right? Ah wait... I know what! It should also be by invitation only! Just to sound more exclusive!
    AH TAN'S WIFE: Okay, okay... I guess that load is finally off your shoulder now, so let's get to sleep okay?
    AH TAN: Hahaha... okay, okay. I can't wait to tell Mr Teo my suggestion tomorrow!

    Thrilled, Ah Tan switched off the lights and bounced into bed.



    The 20 percent pay cut is necessary to please the lesser mortals


    Ah Tan knocked before he walked into Mr Teo's cubicle. Ah Chong was already seated in front of Mr Teo's desk. Mr Teo had a sad and excruciating look. He gestured Ah Tan to the seat next to Ah Chong.

    MR TEO: Tan, sit.
    AH TAN: Thank you, Sir. Susan said you were looking for me?
    MR TEO: Yes. I've just come back from a meeting with the Boss.
    AH TAN: Oh... some bad news?
    MR TEO: Yes, I'm afraid so...

    Ah Tan and Ah Chong looked at one another with edgy eyes.

    MR TEO (taking a deep breath): Gentlemen, the worst has finally happened. The Boss has decided on a tweleve to twenty percent pay cut. For MR4, it'll be twenty percent. For SR9, it'll be tweleve percent.
    AH TAN and AH CHONG (bellowing): What?!!
    MR TEO: Sigh... yah, I didn't expect a twenty as well...
    AH TAN (standing up and protesting): A twenty percent pay cut? And what does that leave me with? A mere $1.54 million annual income? That's harsh!
    AH CHONG (standing up and protesting): Yah! And why are the SR9s getting only a tweleve percent cut? That's not fair!
    MR TEO: Gentlemen! Calm down! I still need you to pass this piece of news to your men!

    Ah Tan and Ah Chong sat back on their seat quietly.

    AH CHONG: When will the cut start?
    MR TEO: I'm not told. I suppose it'll be soon.
    AH TAN: Why this sudden decision? Because of the economy?
    AH CHONG (muttering): Maybe our salary made lesser mortals envious and they thought maybe we shouldn't earn so much just because they are getting retrenched?
    MR TEO: Well, the Boss said that since our salaries are linked to economic performance, we have to make the adjustments, given the volatility of the economy.

    Ah Tan and Ah Chong let out an excruciating and loud sigh.

    MR TEO: Anyway, go tell your men about this piece of news and if there's any questions, let me know.
    AH TAN and AH CHONG: Yes Sir.


    Ah Lim sat uptight in front of Ah Tan's desk. Ah Tan laid back on his seat sluggishly, apathetic.

    AH LIM (fuming): What the hell? Twenty percent cut?
    AH TAN: Sigh... what to do? The Boss want to please the lesser mortals what...
    AH LIM: Walau eh! Do you know that I've just placed an order for the 750Li?
    AH TAN: Wow! The BMW 7 series ah? I heard that it's good, how much are you paying for it?
    AH LIM (frowning): S$428,800.
    AH TAN: Okay lah, you can afford this what!
    AH LIM: But still!
    AH TAN: The most sell away your 650i loh! Anyway I don't really see you driving it.
    AH LIM: Friend, that's a cabriolet leh, how to drive to work? Yah... maybe I should sell it away, anyway it's getting two years old.
    AH TAN: Well, guess this bad economy is affecting us after all.
    AH LIM (letting out a loud sigh): Yah...



    Tuesday, January 20, 2009

    For the holidays, let's just spend S$46,500 to learn cooking at Le Cordon Bleu


    Ah Tan dragged his feet sluggishly over to the coffee machine to get his caffeine dose of the day. There, he found Ah Lim and Ali already started their coffee break at one of the tables. He walked over and sat down together with the two men.

    AH TAN: Ooi! Go tea break bo jio!
    ALI: Ah doi! I saw you typing an email so seriously at your desk, didn't want to disturb you what.
    AH TAN: Aiyah, nothing serious lah, just another work progress report. Hey Ah Lim, where are you planning to go for the December holidays?
    AH LIM: Sigh... still troubling over it. Like I was telling Ali, I went Hokkaido last year, and New York the year before, and I've already seen most of Europe! Where else can I bring my family to this year?
    ALI: I know! You've never been to Cameron Highlands right?
    AH TAN and AH LIM (both staring at Ali): Har? Where is it?
    ALI: Alamak, you all never heard of Cameron Highlands?
    AH TAN: That place sounds familiar... Is it somewhere in Ireland?
    AH LIM: Or Scotland?
    ALI: Alamak! Malaysia lah! Malaysia!
    AH TAN: Hey! Is that supposed to be a joke? You know I don't go to Malaysia!
    ALI: Hahaha... okay okay, just kidding lah! Relac lah!
    AH LIM: Yah, that was rude! How can you suggest that we squash ourselves into one of those little tour coaches to go across the causeway for holidays, together with the other poor Singaporeans? Geez...
    ALI: Sorry man, sorry!
    AH TAN: Hey guys, you know what, maybe I should bring my family to the Le Cordon Bleu Paris for some culinary course. I heard that it's really one hell of an experience.
    AH LIM: Le Cordon Bleu? In Paris? Hmm... sounds interesting... how much will that cost?
    AH TAN: I heard it's about S$15,500 per head, so with my wife and kid, it should be about S$46,500.
    AH LIM: Oh... S$46,500... well, that's not so bad! I was expecting it to be more expensive. Idea sia!
    ALI: Yah, I think that's a good idea! Hey... maybe I should bring my boy to Southern California Aquatic SCAQ Master Swim Club to learn some professional swimming! Then maybe he can swim like Michael Phelps one day!
    AH TAN: Sounds good! But you'll have to fly over to California, pretty far right?
    ALI: Yah it's pretty far, luckily we're taking Business class, not like the rest of those poor Singaporeans who have to squeeze into those pathetic Economy class seats!
    AH LIM: Wah you guys are fast! Maybe you should help me think of some holiday ideas around here too!
    ALI: You're the only one without kids here, it should be easier to think of something romantic for you and your wife right?
    AH TAN: Hmm... hey! Your wife is into dancing right? Why don't you just bring her to Spain to learn some Flamenco or Salsa dancing?
    ALI: Yah! Good idea! Give her a surprise!

    Susan walked into the pantry hastily, looked around and found Ah Tan at the table.

    SUSAN: Mr Tan, Mr Teo is looking for you.
    AH TAN (finishing his last sip of coffee): Okay, I'll go over right away.

    Susan walked out of the pantry.

    Ah Tan placed his mug into the sink for the coffee lady to wash, and walked hastily out of the pantry.