Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Wash your car at the Bukit Batok Water Festival!

Great news to car owners! Those people at Bukit Batok are organizing a Water Festival 2010, possibly as part of the $10-million dollar Make-the-foreigners-feel-welcomed-nevermind-the-locals Fund. Nevermind that water festivals in Thailand, Cambodia, Myanmar and Laos have nothing to do with us, and of course, nevermind that PUB has a target to lower Singapore’s per capita domestic water consumption to 140 litres by 2030.

What's important is that there will be plenty of water to spare! So much water that participants are urged to keep their wallet, handphone etc in water proof bags! So what are you waiting for? Put this down in your calendar:

Start: 18 Apr 2010 2:00 pm
End: 18 Apr 2010 6:00 pm

Drive your dirty car over to Bukit Batok for plenty of free water, instead of paying for the few pails of water at the washing bay! Those water are meant to be wasted anyway, so why not put them to good use? Spread the news, tell your friends, together let's wash our cars and motorbikes for free at the Bukit Batok Water Festival 2010!

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Lions lost because player were busy oversleeping and smoking?

No wonder Lions lost

ON THE day of what was arguably one of the most important matches in Singapore's football history, two players overslept and were late boarding the team bus.

Also, at half-time, with Singapore trailing 0-1 to Jordan in the Asian Cup qualifying decider, a couple of players were smoking in the dressing room.

After a 1-2 defeat that bundled them out of the competition - the Lions needed only a draw against Jordan to secure passage to the finals of the tournament for the first time - some of the players' attitude has been called into question. Their shocking behaviour was confirmed to The Straits Times by coach Raddy Avramovic, who will submit a report to the Football Association of Singapore (FAS).

The Lions should count themselves lucky that their boss is not Mr Ong Ah Heng (Nee Soon Central MP), else they could be swiftly replaced by foreign players who are more hardworking and not a burden to us.

In fact, it is surprising that there are still so many Singaporeans in the Lions team, when the local foreign table tennis team has proven a successful shortcut to the Olympics. Perhaps in order to get Singapore nearer to the World Cup, we could start handing out pink ICs to the Japanese in Albirex Niigata Singapore FC and French in Etoile FC? After all, these foreign players are already playing in the S.League.

Monday, March 8, 2010

When lack of news, call Jack

These are what Singaporeans are reading on today:

Top stories
Jack Neo will tell all 1:59 PM
Deposit cut for reserve sites 1:39 PM
Hurt Locker rules Oscars 1:20 PM

Singapore News
Witness fingers Ionescu 12:08 PM
Tried to break up 30 times 11:30 AM
We had sex in car 10:01 AM
Fans let down by Jack Neo 6:00 AM
6 SBS buses wrecked in fire 6:00 AM
Homes double as hostels 6:00 AM
Church services go online 6:00 AM
Bike crashes into bus 6:00 AM
Woman sued for bankruptcy 6:00 AM
New Pasir Ris tower opens 6:00 AM
CDAC seeks more volunteers 6:00 AM

Can't blame them really. Now that Budget 2010 is no longer news, Parliament is closed and all Ministers/MPs/NMPs back to their GRCs to rest and relax, and even the Great Pastor is not insulting anyone lately, there isn't much news in the country to go around.

As for Jack, with Alice in Wonderland (and in 3D!) and Percy Jackson & the Lightning Thief in the movies, he is just Being Human to leak out some scandals for the sake of publicity for his movie. Can't blame him too.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Great suggestions to make the country a better place... for the foreigners!


Ah Tan, Ah Lim, Ali and a few other senior executives were having lunch together at a long table.

AH LIM (chewing his chicken rice and shaking his head at the same time): Wah, that was one long meeting with Mr Teo man!
ALI (scooping a spoonful from his nasi lemak): Brudder, later still got round two sia!
AH TAN (cutting his chicken chop): But it's brainstorming session later right? Guess it shouldn't be too stressful. Khaw, I heard you're going to start the ball rolling?

While Khaw nodded, he put his spoon down on the plate of roasted duck rice and took a sip from his iced lemon tea.

KHAW: Yah, I'll be giving some suggestions to resolve the hospital bed crunch issue.
AH LIM (looked up from his chicken rice): Huh? Why? Our hospital beds not enough meh?
KHAW (nodding): Yah, especially last week during the end of the Chinese New Year. Those pantan ones who had avoided hospitalisation during the festive period suddenly made a beeline for the beds. Tan Tock Seng was overflowing, then other hospitals went to its aid and in the end that caused them to suffer a bed crunch as well.
AH TAN: Wow, that must be agonizing for the patients!
KHAW: Hmm... I won't put it that way though. Even though there wasn't enough beds, the quality of care is not compromised while patients wait for their assigned wards.
AH TAN: That's good to know. So what's your suggestion then?
KHAW (in a solemn tone): Tell the people to avoid getting sick on Mondays and Tuesday.

Suddenly, Ali chocked on his nasi lemak and everyone looked at him. As he shook his left hand to imply that he was fine, his right hand reached for his teh-C. Khaw cleared his throat and continued.

KHAW: After a few months of comprehensive and holistic analysis, my ministry has concluded that Mondays and Tuesdays are the days when bed occupancy rates are at their highest, when the number of people needing beds exceeds that available. So our suggestion is to prevent the people from getting sick on Mondays and Tuesday.
AH TAN (puzzled): And... how are you guys going to achieve that goal?
KHAW (smiling): We'll put up posters in all of our hospitals, urging people not to fall sick on these two days. We can have slogans like "Why fall sick on the busy Mondays and Tuesdays when there are five other days in the week to choose from!"
AH TAN: Erm... that's quite a mouthful for a slogan.
KHAW (chuckled): Hahaha... that's just one of those little ideas that just sprung from my head! Of course we'll outsource to a good professional design firm and leave the poster design to them!

All at the table nodded in agreement and continued with their lunch.

SEAH: We need to do more for new migrants.

All at the table looked up to find Seah suddenly talking. Seah slowly took out a piece of tissue to wipe his mouth before continuing.

SEAH: More needs to be done to help new immigrants work with the old team and feel a part of us.
AH LIM (looked up from his half-finished chicken rice): I thought we're already going to spend $10 million to integrate these people liao?
SEAH (staring at Ah Lim in dismay): What do you mean by 'these people'? They're our precious new immigrants! Heck, they shouldn't even be called new migrants! That's too rude! They should be called new Singaporeans!
AH LIM (sitting back): Hey, relax man!
SEAH: We must respect these new Singaporeans, my friend. They are definitely not new migrants - they are an old hand at migrating, and want a new life. They want to settle down and to make Singapore a new home. And we should be thankful to them for choosing Singapore!

Suddenly, Ali chocked on his nasi lemak again and everyone looked at him again. As he shook his left hand to imply that he was fine again, his right hand reached for his teh-C again. Seah frowned at Ali before continuing.

AH TAN: But Seah, we've already set aside $10 million to help them integrate, like teaching them English and organizing activities at the neighborhoods. I suppose we've already done enough.
SEAH (shaking his head): No, no, no... Did you guys even realize that no large scale survey has been done to find out what these new Singaporeans need? What they actually need? We have not done any large scale survey, we do not know their problems but we have already gone ahead and decided that the funds will go towards organizing activities. But songs, dances and performances are entertaining but do we perhaps need something more?
AH TAN (raising his left eye brow): And... what are you suggesting?
SEAH: If it is language skills, then we should subsidize language classes!
AH TAN: Like I said, we've already started quite a large number of affordable English lessons...
SEAH (ignoring Ah Tan and continuing): If it is educational information, or integration at schools, then we ought to target that! With 20,000 migrants becoming new citizens each year, we should reward such parents with some form of baby bonus when they have a new Singapore baby!
AH TAN: You mean the same kind of baby bonus that we're giving our real Singapore citizens? But that might blur the line between the citizens and these new immigrants... I mean, new Singaporeans.
SEAH (raising his voice): Hello? Didn't you hear me just now? I have made the argument for national integration with new Singaporeans on the basis that they are members of the same team. So since we're all in the same team, they should have all the privileges that the citizens have!
AH TAN: Hmm... I'm not so sure if that will please the citizens...
SEAH (scorned): Who cares about those citizens?

All at the table stared blankly at Seah for a second, then continued with their lunch.

ONG (cleared his throat): I've got a brilliant idea to move up our productivity level. I'll be suggesting that later.
AH TAN: You mean, besides all the trainings that we're going to force down the peoples' throats?

All at the table laughed.

ONG (chuckled): Hahaha... hey, my suggestion is more cost saving than those expensive trainings that might not even be useful!
AH TAN: And so your brilliant idea is?
ONG: First, create some kind of benchmark of productivity level to judge our local workers. Then the moment they fail, sack them!

Suddenly, Ali chocked on his last spoonful of nasi lemak and everyone turned to shout at him "Ali!". Ali lifted up his left hand and nodded with an apologetic smile.

AH TAN: Er... sack them?
ONG: Yah! Sack them! Let me tell you this... there was one family at my constituency who complained that the cleaners in their precinct were lazy and too old. Hey, they don’t want local workers who are old, they want young foreign workers! So to satisfy the demand, I made a quick decision and changed the local workers to foreign workers! Foreign workers are not a burden to us. Their presence here is not negative. Without foreign workers, things will be worse! If local workers cannot perform, we can't be soft and just close one eye and forgive them! So what if they're old? The foreign workers are cheaper and more hardworking! God, I'll say bring them all in!
AH LIM (swallowing his last spoonful of chicken rice): But... but I thought Boss said we're supposed to bring in less foreign workers, not more?

All at the table paused to stare at Ah Lim for a second then laughed.



Thursday, March 4, 2010

Raising foreign worker levy means depending less on foreign workers?


Chairing at the table was Mr Teo who was flipping through some papers in his hands. Ah Tan, Ah Lim, Ali and some other senior executives were seated at the table.

MR TEO: Ladies and gentlemen, today we're here to brainstorm on how to implement the foreign worker levy hike as a means to control their number. Boss has suggested implementing this levy increment carefully over the next three years. As you know, it is not logical to suddenly increase the levy by like a hundred dollars, thus we need to do it slow. Now we have to come up with a plan to implement it efficiently.
JESSICA: Sir, although the rise in levy is graduated over three years, there is concern expressed by some business leaders that this may impede the ability of companies to make more money as their capacity will be impacted. Currently they can sack their local workers and replace every one with three to four. With the levy, they may only be able to replace one with two.

Some others at the table nodded their heads in agreement.

MR TEO: Jessica, good point. But that is why Boss has not stressed enough on the importance of improving productivity!
JESSICA: But Sir, we can only teach the locals to be productive, and productivity improvements of local talent will not be immediate and it will take companies some time to implement longer working hours and money to buy more machines to innovate and achieve greater productivity.
MR TEO: How difficult can it be? All they need to do is to tell the locals that if they are not taking up more jobs, a foreign worker is always ready to replace them! That shall push the locals to work harder! As for the machines, just get second-hand ones!

Ah Lim put up his right hand. All looked towards his direction.

AH LIM: Er... so if we can make the locals work harder and increase their productivity levels, we don't need foreign workers anymore?
JESSICA (shaking her head): No, it doesn't work that way. Foreign workers can never be replaced by locals. It is especially difficult, in the short term at least, to change the mindset of Singaporeans to take up certain jobs in industries like construction which is seen as strenuous and dirty, and some services jobs that require long hours of standing like soliciting at Geylang.

Some men at the table nodded their heads in agreement. One of them appeared to have even whispered to the person next to him "And they're prettier too". Send put up his right hand. All looked towards his direction.

SENG: Jessica is right. We need these foreign workers. If we do not have enough manpower and other resources to take added new orders in the world markets, we may lose all our customers and business opportunities to our competitors very quickly. For example, everybody knows that a lot of those MNCs have shifted their operations to India. But if we can bring in the Indians from India, these MNCs will give us their business instead!
ALI: But I heard that those Indians are giving a lot of problems to those MNCs! They have long turn-around-time and make lots of mistake! They even openly refuse to work during the cricket season! They have low productivity! They're even more relax than us!
MR TEO (grunted): Ali, didn't you read the memo? We're only concerned with raising the productivity of the locals. Never the foreign workers! We all know how low their productivity is! Just take a look at the roadworks when you drive to work! Why are those simple roadworks taking such a long time to finish? Didn't you often see three to four workers looking at one worker working? So yes, we know they are damn slow, we know their productivity level is damn low, but they're cheap so it's okay!

Ali gave an "Oh!" apologetic look and scratched his head. A skinny man seated at the furthest corner slowly raised his right hand. Mr Teo frowned.

LOW: Sir, I'm just thinking... after we've raised the foreign worker levy, won't the businesses be inclined pass the additional cost to their customers? The F&B businesses could increase the prices of the food and drinks; the transportation businesses could increase the prices of public transport; the construction businesses could increase the cost of building our flats, and in turn to cover this cost, HDB could increase the price of our flats, making them even more unaffordable! We might be just adding this cost burden to the people!
MR TEO (raising his voice): Low, we are living in a world class city and so a high cost of living is expected! Just like we have a world class transportation, so our public transport is expensive! We are world class leaders, so our salaries are expensive! If the locals want to have lower cost of living, they can go to those filthy third world countries like Indonesia! Hey, they are the ones who complained about the influx of foreign workers, so we're now raising the foreign worker levy to slow it down!
LOW: But Sir, instead of raising the levy which still might not work, based on the reasons that I have just stated, why don't we just cut down on the number and forget about the levy? Just put up a policy that businesses must have a higher local to foreigner employment ratio, like ten to one?
JOSEPHINE (interrupting): And so how does Mr Low propose that we allocate the foreign workers quota efficiently to businesses without a levy mechanism? Would it be right for civil servants to pretend to know all about market demand and supply? Removing a levy is turning a blind eye to the social disparities they create!
LOW (frowned): What are you talking about? We are selected by the people, and our salaries are paid by their taxes to work for them! Why must we pretend to know? How can we pretend that we've done our job? If we don't know about market demand and supply, we just have to get out of our cubicles and do some homework! I'm sure a couple of meetings with the right people should do the work! I believe that we can control the foreign workers quota without a levy mechanism! Why must anything and everything in the country be controlled by levies and fines?
JOSEPHINE (snapped): Why must we impose the levy? Do you know how much we're making from these foreign worker levies? It's just like the COE and ERPs that our LTA colleagues implement! Frankly, we don't care what is the local to foreign worker ratio! I don't care whether the waitress serving my salad is a local or from China, as long as she gets my order right! The primary aim of this foreign worker levy is not to slow down the influx, but to make more money for our country! For all you know, this foreign worker levy hike might just be enough to cover our losses from GIC and Temasek!

Mr Teo slammed his right palm on the table and pointed his finger at Josephine furiously. He was in such a wrath that his finger was shaking. Josephine was stunned and stopped talking abruptly.

MR TEO (thundering): Josephine! How many times must I remind you that nobody in this office should talk about the GIC or Temasek investments?

A small stream of perspire trickled down Josephine's cheek.



Wednesday, March 3, 2010

After the Romanian, now a Saudi Arabian attack

Alleged attack by envoy

POLICE have been directed to investigate an alleged assault by a Saudi Arabian Embassy official on a condominium resident.

Mr A. Jaafar, 37, a senior executive, alleged that the Third Secretary of the Saudi Arabian Embassy here, Mr Bader I.F. Al-Balawi, attacked him when he told him not to park at a space reserved for the handicapped at Glendale Park condominium in Hillview Avenue.

He filed a Magistrate's Complaint against the embassy official, and yesterday, a magistrate ruled that the complaint was serious enough to warrant an investigation by the police.

Claudius once said in Hamlet that "When sorrows come, they come not single spies, but in battalions". I suppose this too applies neatly to crimes committed by foreign embassy officials in Singapore. Especially when the other embassies see that Dr Ionescu could hit-and-fly with a diplomatic immunity.

However, before Singaporeans get all worked up and start to cancel tour packages to Jordan/Oman/Qatar/Dubai that they grabbed at the last NATAS fair, they should remember this useful advise from our leader: "we should never do anything that is not in keeping with due legal process, nor descend into trial by media. Otherwise, we will weaken our own case". Yap, Singaporeans should just stay calm and watch the police do their job.

Yes, it is still fresh on all Singaporans' mind that recently two men attacked an ambulance driver and got away on the basis of non-seizable offence, but this might be a different case. For a start, Mr A. Jaafar is not just a little ambulance driver. He is a senior executive, maybe in some big MNC or GLC, or even the statboard. And this incident happened at Glendale Park condominium, not some public HDB car park at Bukit Batok. So we should definitely be looking at two totally different cases here.

So Singaporeans should just sit down and shut up. Oh, and cross our fingers that Mr Bader I.F. Al-Balawi is still in Singapore.