Thursday, April 30, 2009

Why we should still spend on 2009 N-Day celebrations despite downturn


Ah Tan knocked before he walked into Mr Teo's cubicle. CJ was already seated in front of Mr Teo's desk. In the midst of flipping through some papers, Mr Teo gestured Ah Tan to sit down.

MR TEO: Tan, take a look at this. CJ's suggestion on how we should celebrate NDP this year.

Mr Teo handed the papers to Ah Tan. Hastily, Ah speedread through the papers.

CJ (to Ah Tan): This year's theme is "Come Together, Reaching Out, Reaching Up". As such, performances will focus on coming together as "one united people" to reach out to all Singaporeans, regardless of race, language or religion.
MR TEO: I like this idea. With the economic crisis and now swine flu happening, we need something to unite the people and make them one!
CJ: Yes! Make them act in unity!
AH TAN (chuckles): Eat together, sleep together, shit together?
MR TEO (sternly): It means when the country tell them one thing, they don't do or even think another way!
CJ (nodding): Unquestioning obedience.

Ah Tan raised his left eyebrow cynically.

CJ: I think it's an important opportunity for us to rally our people - not so much from a perspective of just coming to watch the show, but it's a journey for us to sit back and ask ourselves as a nation, as a people, as we struggle with adversity both personal and at the national level, how do we respond.
MR TEO: Yes! It is the opportunity for those people to repent. To think about occasions when how wrongly they had diverged when they should have just listened to and believed in the country, and all the decisions we have made for them!
AH TAN: I agree. And they should have trusted us in the investments we made, no matter how much losses we appeared to have made. After all, we made it through the Citibank investments, didn't we?

Both Mr Teo and CJ nodded in agreement.

MR TEO: So CJ, how much do you need? Mind you, we've just spent 6 millions for the Singapore Day in London, so it is unacceptable to spend less right here at home!
CJ (chuckles): Hahaha... Mr Teo, how can it even be possible? To spend just 6 millions for a major event like this?

All three men laughed but stopped abruptly when Mr Teo suddenly frowned.

MR TEO: But CJ, we must be mindful of the economic downturn too, you know? We must not let the people think that we're spending too lavishly at a time like this!
CJ: Don't worry about it, Sir. The budget for this year's celebrations is prudent. We'll try to recycle as much as possible. We're looking at managing some of the props we are using - how we can minimise in a more measured manner, how to reuse, how to make some of the props. So there are a lot of little things that we can do.
MR TEO (nodding): Good. Just keep in mind that we must spend more than 6 millions but not too much.
CJ: Yes Sir!

Susan knocked on Mr Teo's cubicle. Mr Teo signalled her to come into the cubicle. Susan then put a piece of paper on the desk and left. Mr Teo picked up the paper and read through it.

MR TEO: Hmm... this doesn't look very good.
AH TAN: What is it, Mr Teo?
MR TEO: THE unemployment rate for Singaporeans and permanent residents hit a five-year high of 4.8 per cent last month.

Both Ah Tan and CJ stared warily at each other.

MR TEO: CJ, this is critical now. You must ensure that the NDP is a real success this year. We want the people to make merry and forget about their troubles. About being jobless, about not able to feed their families. We want them to throw all these troubles behind their minds and feel happy for a day.
CJ: Yes Sir!
AH TAN: Mr Teo, I've got an idea. We should grant the jobless ones the precious opportunity to perform at the NDP! They could perform some mass dance and show the people how happy they are even though they are jobless! At the same time, this could keep them occupied and prevent them from grumbling about how the country has not helped them!

Mr Teo slapped his right palm on the table in excitment.

MR TEO: Good idea, Tan! CJ, write that down!
CJ: Yes Sir!



Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Command and Conquer plan of AWARE

  • Click on diagram to enlarge

  • Read and memorize

  • Discard after information is diguested




One Cause For All Women

How true. Only one organisation with one cause is needed.
No hidden agenda, thank you.
Show your support.
Save this organisation so that more people can continue to be saved.



Friday, April 24, 2009

AWARE is in a state of civil war

Previously at AWARE...

The Galactic Empire had multiple Stormtroopers dispatched throughout the galaxy, some of which landed on AWARE. The 80 Stormtroopers outnumbered and wiped out the old Jedi knights, snatching 9 out of 12 of the executive committee memberships successfully.

Immediately, the Jedi formed the Rebel Alliance and prepared to launch a full-scale attack...

A new website was founded: SAVE AWARE - AWARE EGM Vote of No-Confidence

"We, concerned members of AWARE, are working with former AWARE Committee Members and Founder Members to petition for an EGM to consider a vote of no confidence in the New Exco."

Their grounds included:

  • Lack of Transparency
    The secrecy of the group is disturbing and gives rise to greater suspicion.

  • Lack of Experience
    8 of the 9 new members have been in AWARE for less than 5 months; none of them has served in AWARE committees nor participated in AWARE initiatives as volunteers.

  • Unjustified Termination and Disregard of Experienced Volunteers
    The new Exco has terminated all the current heads of the AWARE sub-committees.

  • Undermining of Fundamental Values
    The new Exco have not openly declared their intentions but there is strong evidence of religious ideology that goes against AWARE’s values, such as full equality in the home between wife and husband, the right of a woman to choose to have an abortion, and tolerance of homosexuality.

Their call to action:

"Join Us AT The EGM - If you support AWARE's stand on inclusiveness and want to see it continue its work on the empowerment of all women, please attend the EGM to pass a vote of no-confidence in the new Exco."

The Rebel Alliance attempted to find more allies to assist them in fighting against the Galactic Empire...

A petition was written: Save AWARE! Gender equality for all!

More were called upon by the Force and brave fighters flocked to the Millennium Falcon...

aware: to find one’s voice again
by Pat Law

Stop the AWARE Hijacking
by Popagandhi

More Aware Now
by Ovidia

But alas, little did the Rebel Alliance expect the Galactic Empire to capture their old base...

Showdown at AWARE office over lock change by new exco

SINGAPORE: It was a tense atmosphere at the AWARE office on Thursday evening as members of the old guard tried to prevent the new executive committee from changing the locks at the office.

The centre's manager, Schutz Lee, said she was not informed of the plans to change locks.

Ms Lee, who has been working there since February, was also fired without reason by the new executive committee at 8pm on Thursday.

Members of the old guard turned up hurriedly at the scene, anxious over the documents kept there.

Dana Lam, former AWARE president, said: "I walked in and there were three burly men sitting at the counter. It's not something we encounter at AWARE because it's a women's centre and we are giving counselling sessions to women who have been abused.

"The men have apparently been instructed by the president to change the lock in the centre. There is a vote of no-confidence going on here. By right, they have no right to make any changes. I am worried for my materials – 25 years of research material, including confidential material."

Will the Galactic Empire be successful in turning the Rebel Alliance's old base into a Death Star? Will the Rebel Alliance be strong enough to fight against the Galactic Empire and get back what was theirs?

We shall know by 2nd May 2009.

May the Force be with them.



Monday, April 13, 2009

He places us where he thinks we can be stretched but also allows us to shine!


Ah Lim and Ali were having coffee break at the six-seaters long table. Chatting, Ah Tan and Ah Teo entered the pantry. While Ah Tan waited for the coffee machine to dispense his coffee, Ah Teo walked over to the chairman seat, sat down and took out a packet of 3-in-1 coffee from his trousers pocket. He poured the powder into his mug of hot water. When Ah Tan finally sat down next to Ah Lim, he found both men staring at Ah Teo.

ALI: Er... brother, what are you drinking?
AH TEO: Oh... it's 3-in-1 coffee that I've bought from Japan previously. You know, I can't stand the kind of 3-in-1 coffee that sold here, they're horrendous! And the coffee from our machine, urgh...

Ah Tan, Ah Lim and Ali looked at their papercups silently. Ah Teo's mobile phone rang and he picked it up.

AH TEO (talking to the mobile phone): Yes Lew, the meeting with PTC? Oh... to review their last report on the buses? Hmm... yes, tomorrow will be fine. Ask Sam to attend on my behalf. Yes, and ask him to report the status to me after the meeting.

Ah Teo hang up and put his mobile phone back into his trousers pocket.

AH TEO: Sorry about that. Have to answer it or else they'll panic.
AH TAN: No worries! Oh yes, almost forgot to congratulate you on your new role!

Ah Tan stretched out his hand to shake with Ah Teo, and the other two men followed.

AH TEO: Thanks guys! Erm... but which role are you congratulating me on?
AH TAN, AH LIM, ALI (together): Huh?
AH TEO (chuckles): Hahaha... I've got a total of eight roles you know? And two of them are even the Senior Parliamentary Secretary at two different ministries, so you've got to be precise!
AH TAN: Erm... we're actually congratulating you on your latest mayor appointment.
AH TEO: Oh! That one! Yah silly me! I should have guessed because that's the latest one! Hahaha...

Ah Teo's laughter was interrupted by his mobile phone ringing.

AH TEO (talking to the mobile phone): Yes Lew, the agency has completed the new TVC for Family? Oh great! Hmm... no, no, we have to review the TVC by today. Ask Alan to take a look and ask him to call me after he has done reviewing to tell me whether it's a Go. Okay.

Ah Teo hang up and put his mobile phone back into his trousers pocket again.

AH LIM (scoffs): Wah you very busy hor! One person holding eight appointments!
AH TEO (sighs): Yes it is really very tiring at times, having to handle so many things, having to make so many decisions. But luckily I'm really good at multi-tasking!
ALI: Yah, got so many things to do, still got time for tea-break!
AH TEO (clears throat): Well, it will take a delicate balancing act to make sure I devote enough time to each of my role. But it is a challenge I relish. I'm sure you know how Boss stretches us all, especially the younger ones like me. He places us where he thinks we can be stretched but also allows us to shine.
AH LIM (scoffs): But how come Boss gives you eight oppuntunities to shine, but people like us only got one? Because we're not as smart as you har?

Instead of answering Ah Lim, Ah Teo just chuckled and drank his coffee. Ah Tan elbowed Ah Lim slightly.

AH TAN: So how's the work progress for the Youth Olympic Games? Everything cool?
AH TEO: Of course! Of course! Hey, I'm the one running it! And let me tell you this, I'm planning to spend the least money to make it the best sports event ever!

Ah Teo paused and grinned widely at the three men. The three men stared back at him blankly. Ah Teo then cleared his throat.

AH TAN (gasped): Oh! Yes! So what is that great plan of yours? How to spend the least money to make it the best?
AH TEO (smiling): By citizens participation!
AH TAN, AH LIM, ALI (together): Huh?
AH TEO: We're asking for sponsorship from advertising agencies to sponsor all advertising, branding and promotion for the event. At the same time, we're also asking the local universities to provide free lodging for the participants. And most importantly, we're asking our youths to volunteer themselves as working parties for the event! See? Least cost spent! Hahaha...

Ah Teo's laughter was interrupted by his mobile phone ringing again.

AH TEO (talking to the mobile phone): Yes Lew, the party youth wing's quarterly meeting? Do you have their agenda? Hmm... okay. Ask them to send you the agenda then, and go through it. I'm sure there isn't any critical matters. Why don't you attend on my behalf? Yes, yes. Let me know then.

Ah Teo hang up and put his mobile phone back into his trousers pocket again.

AH LIM (raising left eyebrow): You sure those advertising agencies will do free labour for you?
AH TEO (sternly): Of course they will! It's the Youth Olympic Games! They should feel honoured to be the one advertising and promoting it! What more can they ask for? And they're doing this for the country!

The three men sipped their coffee silently.

AH TEO (sighing): Anyway, it's not easy, you know? To be so capable. Most of the time I've only got five hours of sleeping time! And I'm also sacrificing my personal time with my wife and two kids!
AH TAN: And you're still joining that Ironman event in China next month?
AH TEO (tapping his hand on Ah Tan's shoulder): Of course! I want to prove to myself that I can complete a full Ironman while in office! It's things like this that keep me energised and motivated! You must always have something to look forward to every day, you know?
AH LIM: Har? Run, swim and cycle will keep you energised in the office meh? I think I'll fall asleep only man!
AH TEO (chuckles): Hahaha... guess we're just different. To me, it's always to infinity and beyond!

Ah Teo's mobile phone rang again and he picked it up.

AH TEO (talking to the mobile phone): Yes Lew. What? Meet-the-people session at the GRC? When? Next week? Could you call Kwan to ... oh... you mean for this, I have to do it myself?



Sunday, April 12, 2009

BEWARE! Newcomers taking over AWARE in progress!

Unknowns knock out veterans at Aware polls

Unknowns knock out veterans at Aware polls: Caught off-guard by big turnout, longtime members lose to fresh faces

Singaopre's best-known women's group, the Association of Women for Action and Research (Aware), has seen a dramatic changing of the guard - which some members are describing as nothing short of a leadership grab.

When Aware held its annual general meeting on March 28, everyone expected the usual: No more than 30 or 40 members would turn up at its Dover Crescent centre, and a prepared slate of candidates would be voted into office easily.

Instead, more than 100 people came, the majority of whom had joined Aware only in recent months.

And when the election of office bearers began, almost every position was challenged by new faces, who won by wide majorities.

In the end, nine out of 12 executive committee spots went to the newcomers.

One older member who won without a contest was Mrs Claire Nazar, a former corporate counsel nominated to be president by outgoing Aware chief Constance Singam.

But barely a week into her new term, and before making her first statement as president, Mrs Nazar quit suddenly this week.

She confirmed that she had resigned, but declined to say any more when reached by The Straits Times.

It is not known who will now become president.

Longtime members took two other positions: Chew I-Jin as assistant honorary treasurer and Caris Lim Chai Leng was elected a committee member.

The election results have left longtime Aware members in shock.

Former president Tan Joo Hymn, 38, told The Straits Times the big turnout at the AGM surprised her.

'I arrived at the meeting late and found out that I was No. 100 on the attendance list. I've been a member for 10 years, and never before has there been such a turnout,' said the former lawyer who is now a full-time mother.

Another former president, writer Dana Lam, 57, said: 'There were many faces I had not seen before, and I found that very strange.

'In previous years, even if there were new members, they would be known to one or more of the older members.'

The first indication that something was afoot came when Ms Chew, an Aware veteran, was challenged and defeated handsomely by new member Charlotte Wong Hock Soon for the post of vice-president.

Ms Chew was later elected unopposed as assistant honorary treasurer.

'It was alarming,' said Ms Lam. 'How could a new member who had just joined for a couple of months, and whom we knew nothing about, be picked over someone who has been with Aware for more than 15 years?'

Some of the older members immediately began checking the attendance list.

Ms Tan said: 'We found that about 80 of the 102 who turned up were new members who joined between January and March this year.'

Aware, a feminist group that has prided itself on being 'all inclusive', has never vetted the people who apply to be members.

Men can join too, as associate members.

As it dawned on them that a leadership grab was imminent, some older members at the AGM tried asking the newcomers who they were, what they stood for, and why they wanted to be in charge.

They got only the briefest answers, they said.

Ms Lam said she tried suggesting that new members serve a stint on Aware's various sub-committees before standing for election to leadership positions.

But such suggestions went unheeded as the election proceeded, with more newcomers winning executive committee positions by landslide margins.

Ironically, the old guard at Aware had been working towards changing their Constitution to make it a rule that only those who have been members for at least a year would be eligible to join the ex-co.

There is currently no rule to bar a brand new member from seeking office, and that was what happened at the AGM.

Ms Tan said: 'We were simply outnumbered. Technically, they got in legitimately.'

She added that the way the election proceeded was so unusual, it was hard to imagine that the takeover was not a planned effort.

'It could not be pure coincidence,' she said.

But little is known of Aware's new leaders, aside from the fact that they include women from the corporate sector, lawyers, company directors and academics.

Older members said the newcomers spoke well but would not elaborate on their plans for Aware.

'When asked if they believed in equality, they kept repeating they were there to support women and to make sure they got ahead and got all the opportunities given to them,' Ms Lam said.

Older members were keen to know if the newcomers shared Aware's vision and values, including equality for all regardless of race, religion or sexuality.

But one outspoken new member from the floor, who identified herself as Angela Thiang, said questions about the new office bearers' religion and their stand on homosexuality were not relevant.

Former Nominated Member of Parliament (NMP) Braema Mathi, a two-term president of Aware, told The Straits Times that she, like many other members, was concerned.

'If you are keen to serve, you don't challenge every position. We do not know who they are,' said the former journalist who is now in Bangkok doing consultancy work for international women's group Unifem.

'It is very troubling, more so because I've heard the new president has resigned.'

Almost a fortnight into their new roles, the new leaders of Aware were not entertaining calls from the media this week.

New honorary secretary Jenica Chua Chor Ping told The Straits Times a press release would be issued 'in a few days' and added that until then, the committee would not answer any questions.

A check showed that some of those at the AGM and on the new committee have appeared in The Straits Times Forum Page.

Ms Chua, Ms Thiang and Dr Alan Chin, a male member of Aware who attended the AGM and supported the newcomers, all wrote letters to this newspaper between August and October 2007.

In a letter on Oct 17 that year, Ms Chua said NMP Siew Kum Hong had overstepped his non-partisan role and advanced the homosexual cause by tabling a petition in Parliament to repeal Section 377A of the Penal Code which criminalises homosexual sex between consenting men.

In another letter on Oct 25, she took issue with a Straits Times report which said NMP Thio Li-Ann had been 'visibly distraught' when she opposed Mr Siew's petition vigorously.

Ms Chua said Ms Thio had dealt with several points succinctly, with humour and passion.

Dr Chin and Ms Thiang both wrote letters to caution against the risks of promoting the homosexual lifestyle.

Meanwhile, news of Aware's AGM has spread among older members who did not attend the meeting, as well as civil society groups.

The most frequently-asked questions: Who are the new women in charge, why do they want the leadership, and what are their plans for Aware?

Ms Mathi said: 'The building of an institution takes many years; building its value system is even harder.

'Why can't they come in and be part of the process, and build it together and in a more evolutionary manner? That way, the comfort level will be high for everyone.'

Former newspaper editor and media consultant Peter Lim, a longtime associate member of Aware, said he was very surprised to learn what had taken place.

Asked why he thought a group of newcomers would want to take control, he said he did not know if it was an orchestrated effort.

But he thought Aware would be attractive to those seeking to be in charge of an established institution. Setting up a new outfit would take too much time and trouble.

'Aware has built up its credentials over the years and achieved more than a few things,' he said.

Three former Aware presidents - Ms Claire Chiang, Dr Kanwaljit Soin and Ms Mathi - have served as NMPs.

'Aware is a brand name and most people regard it as the leading voice of the feminists and modern women in Singapore,' said Mr Lim.

Who are these people?
Flash back below...

NMP overstepped role in championing gay cause
Straits Times Print Forum, 17 October 2007

I am writing in response to the article, 'NMP to submit Parliamentary Petition to repeal gay sex law' (ST, Oct 12).

As a Nominated MP, Mr Siew Kum Hong is supposed to be non-partisan and should not be affiliated with any particular political group.

However, he has chosen to be the sponsor of a parliamentary petition to present the homosexual agenda.

While he is free to present his personal views on any issue, Mr Siew has overstepped the boundary as an NMP when he chose to represent the homosexual interest group.

MPs in Parliament have to run for election, look after their constituents' interests and represent their views. As an NMP, Mr Siew bears no such burden.

He should not adulterate the NMP role further by becoming the proxy representative of the homosexual interest group.

This is especially so as the Government has already taken one year to review the Penal Code, with input from various consultation channels, and taken into consideration the views of the majority of Singaporeans who are for maintaining family values and preserving Section 377A of the Penal Code.

Jenica Chua Chor Ping (Ms)

Beware loose use of term 'sexual minorities'
Straits Times Print Forum, 10 August 2007

I refer to Mr Ho Chi Sam's letter, 'Why is gay forum against public interest?' (ST, Aug 8).

Apparently, this forum was not banned in its entirety, as Mr Ho claimed. Its organisers, a self-professed homosexual lobby group, reported on their website that 'the event will still go on. The topic may be altered slightly, but will still focus on the law and sexual orientation'.

Regretfully, the organisers had not posted the forum's programme on their website. However,, an Internet portal providing services aimed at homosexuals, posted an article attributed to the foreign speaker concerned, which presumably contains the gist of what he intended to convey.

This article argues for the repeal of criminal laws against unnatural sex by using foreign precedents and international law in certain ways, noting that decriminalisation paves the way for the next step in the agenda, i.e., to redefine marriage.

It presupposes that the repeal of such laws benefits our society, and, in so doing, sidesteps the very issue that we are trying to work out for ourselves, i.e., whether decriminalising homosexual conduct serves or undermines Singapore's interests and well-being.

Mr Ho introduced the expression 'sexual minorities', a term coined by political groups in countries like Canada and the United States to lobby for special (rather than equal) rights for self-professed homosexuals.

Attempts had been made to extend such special rights, to the point of banning religious texts like the Quran and Bible as 'hate literature' for 'incit(ing) hatred against sexual minorities' because these texts categorically reject homosexual behaviour.

An uncritical importation of such politically charged and legally loaded terminology not only confuses but also endangers the racial and religious harmony that Singapore has laboured to enjoy and keep.

While a group of people may be a numerical minority as a social fact, that cannot be the sole or conclusive criterion for conferring legal recognition as a minority at law, so as to merit the enjoyment of additional protection or privileges.

Under Singapore law, the only legally recognised minority groups are racial and religious groups. Sexual preferences do not qualify as a marker for special legal protection.

Lastly, I fail to see the relevance of Mr Ho's confession of being 'straight' in the context of a rational and informed debate in matters of public interest. What matters is the substance and veracity of what is being said, not the identity of the speaker.

Angela Thiang Pei Yun (Ms)

Beware the high-risk 'gay lifestyle'
Straits Times Print Forum, 8 August 2007

In the article, 'Most with Aids virus don't know they have it' (ST, July 18), Senior Minister of State Balaji Sadasivan announced that a study of 3,000 blood samples in government hospitals showed that 1 in 350 samples was positive for the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) which causes Aids. The male to female ratio of these cases was 15:1.

What conclusions can we draw?

The 15:1 ratio means that the HIV epidemic is still confined mainly to the high-risk groups (concentrated epidemic) and has not spread to the general population (generalised epidemic). If it were already in the general population, the ratio would be much closer to 1:1.

Therefore we still have time to do something before the situation gets worse.

Who constitutes these high-risk groups?

Data released by the Ministry of Health on HIV last year showed two groups of men were responsible for approximately 83 per cent of HIV cases.

53 per cent of the cases were men who contracted HIV via unprotected high-risk heterosexual sex. This group was infected overseas or by local unlicensed prostitutes; our licensed prostitutes are screened for HIV.

30 per cent of the cases comprised men having sex with men (MSM). Based on the prevalence of 2.8 per cent of men being homosexual or bisexual, there are about 67,000 men in Singapore who engage in MSM.

I highlight this second high-risk group as it is a matter of public interest and concern, given the ongoing debate on the review of the Penal Code relating to Section 377A.

Extrapolating from the infection rate of 1 in 350 and 15:1 ratio of males to females, the conclusion is that among men who indulge in MSM, about one in 20 has HIV and does not know it.

This means that someone who indulges in MSM and has 20 sexual partners would have exposed himself to HIV.

A survey conducted in the United States has shown that 75 per cent of homosexual men have more than 100 sexual partners and 28 per cent of them have more than 1,000 partners.

I feel that not enough has been done to warn our youth that leading a 'gay lifestyle' is not cool. On the contrary, it is very unhealthy. There is a very high risk of contracting not only HIV but also a slew of other sexually transmitted diseases.

Dr Alan Chin Yew Liang

Any idea what are their secret agenda for taking over now?
Yes, that's it. Can't be more obvious.



Thursday, April 9, 2009

Our transport operators have demonstrated their commitment to meet commuters' expectations so we will just penalise them a hundred dollars!


Ah Tan stepped into the office when the clock on the wall struck nine exactly. Most of the junior officers were already typing away on their desktops and some greeted him as he walked past them. While yawning, he slowly walked into his cubicle. There, he found Ah Looi sitting in front of his desk and talking on the mobile phone.

AH LOOI: Yes, Mr Goh, no kidding. You just have to pay a hundred dollars, that's all. Yes... yes, nice working with you too! Bye!

Ah Looi hang up the call and saw Ah Tan sitting down and switching on his desktop.

AH LOOI: Hey, sorry, didn't see you coming in!
AH TAN (smiling): No problem. You were pretty engrossed in that call.
AH LOOI: Yah, it was Mr Goh from the SMRT.
AH TAN: Oh... you guys received complaints about the train service again? Or somebody got knocked over by the train again?
AH LOOI (chuckling): Hahaha... if I have to call him each time we receive a complaint about the train service, I'll have to put him on my mobile's quick-dial! Nah, it is regarding the latest review that we did for public transport, to ensure that they meet the Quality of Service standards.
AH TAN: Oooh... that time of the year again? No wonder you were so busy recently! So how was it?
AH LOOI: We imposed financial penalties of $4,500 on SBS Transit and $100 on SMRT.

Ah Tan raised his left eyebrow, leant back on his chair and folded his arms.

AH TAN: $4,500 for one and $100 for another?
AH LOOI (nodding): Yap! That's because we found 19 SBS Transit buses not compliant but only one bus from SMRT was not compliant!
AH TAN (rubbing his chin): Only 19 from SBS Transit and just one bus from SMRT not compliant? Among the many buses running around the country? Just one?
AH LOOI: Well... according to the survey result...
AH TAN: And how was the survey conducted?
AH LOOI: Hmm... from what my officers reported to me, apparently they had some interns and part-timers to sit around some bus stops to take note of the buses frequencies and their capacity.
AH TAN: All over the country? Wow! That's some big project!
AH LOOI: Yah, and after the data was back, my officers had them put into some spreadsheets and did some kinda calculation and well... there you see the result!
AH TAN: Hmm... but I still find it hard to believe that only one bus from SMRT is overcrowded... Are you sure the survey results could be trusted? I mean, what if there were human errors? Like... what if these surveyors only started work after the morning peak hours and knocked off before the evening peak hours? Or what if the overcrowded buses arrived at the bus stops while they went for long breaks? That's how we lost Mas Selamat you know!
AH LOOI: Well... I guess I have to trust those surveyors right? I personally don't take buses, and almost all of my officers are driving! We won't know how is it like to take buses!
AH TAN (nodding): I suppose you're right... taking buses... I can't even remember when was the last time I took a bus! I'll imagine it's like...

Both men sat back and closed their eyes for a moment. They frowned, then re-opened their eyes and sighed.

AH LOOI: Too difficult!
AH TAN: Yah... that's too much for me as well!

Both men took out their handkerchiefs to wipe their perspire.

AH TAN: Hey Looi, are you going to do the same review for the trains?
AH LOOI (gasped): Are you kidding me? Review the service quality of our trains? I'm not going to open a big can of worms!
AH TAN: Wow... relax man! Just a casual question! You mean our trains are that bad huh?
AH LOOI: Well, personally I won't know, since I don't take trains... but we've heard so much urban legends!
AH TAN: What kind of urban legends?
AH LOOI (eyes wide open): You mean... you haven't heard any of those urban legends? Like during peak hours, how the trains arriving at some interchanges are so overcrowded that people have to take the third or fourth train? Like the Jurong East station was so overcrowded on the weekday mornings that there was not enough space to stand on the platforms? Like the trains at Raffles Place station will sometimes arrive at an interval of as long as ten minutes?
AH TAN (gasped): Wow!
AH LOOI: Scary, isn't it? And sometime ago, there was this email circulating around the office showing a picture of the Jurong East station. It was horrendous! The whole platform was so overcrowded that you can't even see the ground! It was like looking at a Third World country's train station! Like India!
AH TAN (excited): Hey! Forward me that picture!
AH LOOI: Okay, will do. But my officers are saying that picture must have been photoshopped.
AH TAN: Possible! People these days have too much free time!
AH LOOI (nodding): Yes, people these days are really too free! Just look at the massive amount of trivial complaints that we receive almost everyday! "I waited more than twenty minutes for the bus", "The overcrowded bus won't stop at the bus stop", "I can't get onto the overcrowded train"... blah, blah, blah... these people just won't stop complaining!

Ah Looi paused to take a deep breath.

AH LOOI (sighing): You know, what I don't understand is that, if these people are really that unhappy taking the public transport, why don't they just buy a car?



Monday, April 6, 2009

So what if our own unemployment rate is rising? That shall not stop us from giving away jobs to our friends like the Philippine!

Again, we see the unemployment rate going up. And again, we are told that the only way to ensure that we stay employed is to enroll ourselves into yet more training, because training to have better skill is believed to be a better long term investment.

If you own a company which is losing so much money that the only way to keep yourself afloat is to cut cost, what kind of cost will you cut? Sell away some assets? That will take time and usually it does not make sense if selling away assets may mean cutting your revenue down even more, or worse, render it impossible to even continue with normal operation.

Almost definitely, cutting variable costs like operation cost is a better option. Operation cost like labour cost. And the best part of cutting labour cost is that, at a time of crisis like now, you could easily and safely take away a couple of headcounts and the ones left behind will still work their asses off to cover the work that were done by those that left. These days, for fear of losing their jobs, workers are willing to do anything and everything.

As for training? I suppose that will be the last thing on your mind.

Unemployment rate for Q1 likely to be higher than Q4 2008

SINGAPORE: With the first three months of 2009 just over, Singapore's Manpower Minister, Gan Kim Yong, said the unemployment rate for the first quarter of this year is likely to be higher than the last three months of 2008.

Speaking to reporters at a community event on Sunday, he said while his ministry is seeing more retrenchment notices being issued, schemes like the Skills Programme for Upgrading and Resilience (SPUR) is helping companies cut costs to save jobs.

Detailed statistics about the job market in the first quarter of this year will be released shortly, said the manpower minister.

But as the economy has yet to recover, the ministry's immediate focus is the unemployment situation and it will continue pressing on with the various schemes like SPUR and Jobs Credit Scheme to tackle the downturn.

Mr Gan said: "SPUR, Jobs Credit Scheme and the Workfare Income Supplement Scheme - so many programmes have been put in place, and we will continue to work hard with the tripartite partners to help our workers cope with the downturn.

"But we cannot just focus on the downturn. We still have to focus on the longer term fundamental issues, such as re-employment, employment of older workers and women. This is because when the economy recovers, the labour market will tighten again and so we must ensure we have this source of workers to support our economic growth in future."

Mr Gan believes SPUR has been very successful in the last four months. He said it has helped many companies reduce the number of workers who could have ended up being retrenched. With SPUR in place, some companies have decided to defer retrenchment and make a decision later.

But how quickly the Singapore economy recovers depends much on external factors like the global economy's performance.

Mr Gan said: "We must prepare ourselves for another few quarters of downturn. What is more important now is to focus on managing the downturn and managing costs so that we can save more jobs.

"Sometimes during a downturn, restructuring is inevitable and some retrenchments are unavoidable. If employees are retrenched, we want to reach out to them to help them to upgrade themselves and increase their employability so that they can find jobs faster."

Mr Gan added that there are several sectors in Singapore which have job openings and his message to job seekers is to be flexible and consider sectors they may not have worked in before.

Interesting that Mr Gan has proudly mentioned and reminded us of the Job Credit Scheme. Accordingly, this is how the Job Credit Scheme works: "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."

Again, as the owner of a company, will the Job Credit Scheme convince you to retain local workers? According to an example quoted, for a worker whose wage is $2,500, an employer will get $900 a quarter, or $300 a month. But what if you were to retrench this local worker and replace him with a foreign worker? Do you think it is going to be difficult to search for a foreign worker who is willing to work for $2,200 a month? Hell, it is likely that you could even get one to work for you for less than $2,000 a month! Now which route really and seriously saves you more cost?

Finally we could place ourselves in the shoes of companies that do not hesitate to retrench, even local companies like Flextronics and Chartered Semiconductors. We could understand now why we are still losing our jobs and we could even emphasize with them. And now we could start to ponder upon whether the Job Credit Scheme really works. Starting from this report of retrenchments happening after the Job Credit Scheme was announced: JobCentral Retrenchment Watch

Oh... and look! To make our unemployment rate even more impressive next quarter, our country is giving away jobs for free to other countries! A really kind gesture from us as a friendly neighbour. Singa will be so proud.

5,000 jobs available in Singapore
Source: Manila Standard Today

President Arroyo said some 5,000 new jobs will be available for Filipinos in Singapore with the expansion of the Resort World at Sentosa Island.

Mrs. Arroyo said the country has sent a delegation to Singapore last month to explore possible job opportunities for migrant Filipino workers in the face of a global economic crisis.

Administrator Jennifer Manalili of the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration said she went to Singapore last month with Labor Secretary Marianito Roque to discuss available slots for Filipino workers with Resorts World chief executive Tan Hee Teck.

“They are expanding and there will be openings for workers for hotels, casinos and performers,” Manalili said.

“Universal Studios will also have a theme park so they told us they want to hire Filipino talents and performers. They noted that Filipinos are good in music and in dance so they might come here to conduct auditions either next month or in June,” she added.

Manalili said the government will send a team again in early May to “finalize discussions and requirements for Filipino workers.”

Resorts World plans to open four of its six hotels by the first quarter of 2010 and expects to fill up some 10,000 job vacancies.

Of these available positions, 3,000 will be for the casino, 3,000 for theme park operations and about 4,000 for hotel and other entertainment facilities.

About 46,000 Filipinos working in the country have been adversely affected by the global crisis while some 5,700 migrant workers were laid off.

Earlier, Roque said more than 100,000 jobs are also available in Qatar while other emirates within the United Arab Emirates are also prepared to absorb Filipino construction workers who were laid off in Dubai.

The public and private sectors are also prepared to provide close to one million domestic jobs, of which about 700,000 will come from the government and 120,000 from the business process outsourcing sector.



Thursday, April 2, 2009

Do we really need to guess who is the highest paid politician in the whole wide world?

The 10 highest paid politicians in the world
Source: Money Central - Times Online

1. Lee Hsien Loong - Singapore
Salary in dollars - $2.47 million
Salary in local currency - S$3.76 million

2. Donald Tsang Yum-Kuen - Hong Kong
Salary in dollars - $516,000
Salary in local currency - HK$4 million

3. Barack Obama - United States
Salary in dollars - $400,000

4. Brian Cowen - Ireland
Salary in dollars - $341,000
Salary in local currency - €257,000

5. Nicolas Sarkozy - France
Salary in dollars - $318,000
Salary in local currency - €240,000

6. Angela Merkel - Germany
Salary in dollars - $303,000
Salary in local currency - €228,000

7. Gordon Brown - UK
Salary in dollars - $279,000
Salary in local currency - £194,250

8. Stephen Harper - Canada
Salary in dollars - $246,000
Salary in local currency - C$311,000

9. Taro Aso - Japan
Salary in dollars - $243,000
Salary in local currency - Y24 million

10. Kevin Rudd - Australia
Salary in dollars - $229,000
Salary in local currency - A$330,000

You mean you didn't know?