Pete Murray - Opportunity

Posted: December 29, 2009 by fievel in Labels:
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Interesting remark from an ex-Singaporean

Posted: December 24, 2009 by fievel in Labels: , ,
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I was reading a blog post on "Diary of A Singaporean Mind" called "Humiliation of the poor", when I came across an interesting (though a bit lengthy) remark posted by an ex-Singaporean which I'll like to share here.

Testimony of an ex-Singaporean who has a special need child:


In Singapore, one can go bankrupt if there is a major illness in the family and need to be hospitalized.


As we ward our daughter,all hell broke loose. We did not have CPF medisafe bec. we were self-employed, then no insurance. I remember vividly standing at the registration counter of the SGH LIMITED.. since I did not have all the usual coverage, she asked for my credit card and got me to sign on the BLANK copy and told me they will charge me later. I was signing a "BLANK CHEQUE"! Can you imagine how heavy my heart was when I was walking back to admit my daughter!


Not long after we landed in Canada, we received a letter (I kept it till today so that I will show my great grandchildren later) from the University of Alberta Hospital. It gave us two full-days of schedule with all those professors and sepcialists...from heart, hearing, speech, ear etc..you name it we have it there...to check on my 3 year old Singapore-born daughter. Again (like the same scene in the SGH) on the day of the medical check-ups I went over to the registration desk. After the white receptionist helped me to fill up all the forms, I sheepishly asked her: "How much must I pay for all these professors and specialists check-up on my daughter?" Listen, listen listen to the answer, ready?: "Sir it is FREE. It is under Alberta Health Care."
What!!? I could not believe her...I have not even paid my first Alberta Health Care premium (that time we need to pay about Can $100 per month for a family) and not a single cent of tax and yet we got FREE real professional check-ups for my daughter! I almost cried! The receptionist did not ask for my credit card. It was/is FREE!!!!!


Same daughter, same illness but in a different country and heaven and hell difference. Lucky we mmigrated to Canada. Lucky. Pure luck.


At kindergrader her class had only 7 special needs kids but they were taken care of by a full-time teacher, an assistant and watch over by a nurse and a specialist for special needs kid!


Fast forward. On reaching 18, she is given a monthly inflation-indexed allowance of Sin $1,500 (C$1+S$1.3), free medical and drugs, free dentistry and glasses (Sin $ 400 every 2 yrs). She can enroll for all kinds of studies and even dance, swim or social dance ... all paid for..yea FREE. Monthly bus is half price at Sin$45 per month ...unlimted bus and train travel.


If she is out of job, the social service will immediately find her a suitable job. Now she works 1 to 2 days a week in the Dollar Shop to do stuffing and packing...earning about sin$400 per month...no tax and no crawl back as it too low an income. So total monthly allowance+income about Sin$2,000.


I always tell Singaporeans that it takes alot of courage to emigrate out of Singapore but it takes even more courage to live in Singapore!


Canada is not a perfect place but you know for sure that it is not Singapore where if you do not die in the hospital, you will die of shock by just looking at the hospital bill!


Open to the idea of emigrating out of Singapore. We are not taking about politics here, we are talking about happy laughter of our children and grandchildren playing in the snow. We are talking about focusing on how to have our children get well in the hospital without worrying over the hospital bills.


The name of the writer is kept confidential to protect the rights of the child. This is a true case as I know the writer personally.


By WingLeeCheong, at 24/12/09 07:54

Mistaking garbage for cheese

Posted: December 16, 2009 by fievel in Labels: , ,
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Writing about the housing situation in Singapore is like my temporary new addiction. I hate it, but I keep coming back to it. Why? Because there are many men-in-white whose lives are very sad and boring and hence so very often partake in the cruel sadistic sport of telling Singaporeans through their blogs..oops i meant newspapers...that signing up a 30yrs mortgage that takes up about 30% of your monthly combined income is entirely affordable.

Yet another bunch of new built-to-order flats have been released. A 85 square meter unit now comes served piping hot as a...(drumroll)... 4 room flat!...(drum roll builds up again..) at $440,000 on average!! If you are unable to associate 83 sq meter with real size, let's just say 83 sq meter used to be the size of 3 room flats. Yes yes, this unit is in Queenstown, i hear you, you YPAP kids (I say it in a disgusted tone). So how bout let's go live in Sembawang then...which is fine I guess, at $250,000 for a similar "4-room flat", if you don't feel a little ripped off not getting a discount for living so far away.



The next election is looking like housing costs will play a key role in swaying the votes. PAP must have decided a larger portion of the electorate will vote for them based on 1) fear that opposition politicians destroy their "asset wealth" and 2) hopes that their newly purchased properties will continue to rip through the roofs.

A fellow blogger has already written about the illusionary effect of wealth created by PAP regarding our rising housing costs. [Read here]

I think that despite good reasoning from pockets of Singaporeans on why the continued rising cost of housing is not good for us citizens, I am relying on logic that the men-in-white must have good statistics to lead them to believe that a perceived continued rise in property prices will be winning them more votes. (else they won't be playing the game this way by now)

Hence, I believe that a particular Bernard Leong is correct to tell fellow citizen blogger Alex Tan, "if you are so disenchanted, why not leave Singapore?". [read here]

PAP will win another election handsdown despite all the pockets of discontentment because too many years of the rat-race environment has altered the DNA of the majority of our fellow citizens. They are just like ratatouille's brother in the following clip...happy to just eat garbage.

"...it won't be so hard if you weren't so picky!" father rat's voice over (sounds terribly familiar eh?)
"If you can muscle your way through the gag-reflex...all kinds of possibilities open up." Brother rat

Newton Faulkner

Posted: by fievel in Labels:
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Another amazing guitarist...he's jaw droppingly good!



Matt Nathanson

Posted: December 11, 2009 by fievel in Labels:
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Matt Nathanson - Little Victories


Matt Nathanson - Car Crash

Mat Kearney - Where we gonna go from here

Posted: December 10, 2009 by fievel in Labels:
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Jose Gonzalez - Heartbeats

Posted: December 9, 2009 by fievel in Labels:
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One of the most charismatic musician around...sure gotta post more of his songs in future

Discussion on the Death Penalty in Singapore

Posted: December 8, 2009 by fievel in Labels: ,
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Quote on Freedom

Posted: December 5, 2009 by fievel in Labels: ,
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In Germany they first came for the Communists, and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a Communist. Then they came for the Jews, and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a Jew. Then they came for the trade unionists, and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a trade unionist. Then they came for the Catholics, and I didn't speak up because I was a protestant. Then they came for me, and by that time there was nobody left to speak up.

- Reverend Martin Niemoller, Germany, 1930's

Me too

Posted: December 3, 2009 by fievel in Labels: ,
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Seelan Palay has announced on his blog that he will not be observing the cooling-off period "proposal".
Just for the record, I'm not going to either. And I do so with full expectation that my "anonymity is an illusion", to quote our dear PAP Minister Vivian Balakrishnan.

"Anonymity in cyberspace is an illusion. You will remember in 2007, we prosecuted three persons under the Sedition Act because of the blogs they put up which denigrated the religion of one of our communities in Singapore. " - Vivian Balakrishnan

May many more bloggers raise their fingers of integrity in unison.

Cheers,
Fievel

Quote on press freedom

Posted: December 2, 2009 by fievel in Labels: ,
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If a nation expects to be ignorant and free, it expects what never was and never will be ... The People cannot be safe without information. When the press is free, and every man is able to read, all is safe.

- Thomas Jefferson

War on the cards?

Posted: December 1, 2009 by fievel in Labels:
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Iran is inviting war by declaring their intention to build 10 more nuclear reactors... It's sad but I think Obama's hands are forced here...I think he will announce on Wednesday's address they'll be doubling the troops in Afghanistan to "finish the job"  ...which in all likelihood is but a convenient excuse to start mobilizing troops to the Middle East...

With China and Russia backing Iran, promising World War III responses should Israel be allowed to attack Iran's nuclear facilities...I wonder what will happen in the coming months, if not weeks...

Shooting the messengers

Posted: November 30, 2009 by fievel in Labels: ,
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I've just read the our "dear" President Nathan has just rejected the appeal for clemency on young Malaysian, Yong Vui Kong's death sentence.

If as a nation, Singapore's government can work with drug producing countries like Burma and infamous drug lords such as Lo Hsing Han and Steven Law, why is it that we cannot show just a bit of clemency for their lowly runners? Why shoot the messenger?

Singapore is as pretentious as a country gets.

For more info, read thisthis and this.

Another sign resale flat prices will continue to spike

Posted: by fievel in Labels: ,
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Below is the latest figures on the recently launched BTO flats in Punggol [taken from HDB's website], as of 30th Nov 2009, which is the last day of the application window period. While it still has 24 hours more to run, the final figures shouldn't differ from the below by too much.

Once again, the demand-supply ratio doesn't bode well for first time applicants with 5x and 8x oversubscription for 4 and 5 room flats respectively in what is very nondescript run-of-the-mill overpriced flats in Punggol estate which requires 4 years of time-to-completion (not the "water-front" variety announced with all that hoohaa). Going by this demand figure, despite the planned successive launches of BTO flats in 2010, resale flat price spike should have enough legs to run for another year by my humble estimation. Mah Bow Tan's recently declared statistics of 96% of first time applicants succeeding within 2 attempts (and 80% succeeding on the first attempt) somehow intuitively doesn't blend well with the numbers below.

As a side note, this housing inflation period timeline will most likely overlap into the impending 2010/2011 election and provide much fodder for opposition parties to deliberate upon. As such, I think that PAP will be exerting further internal pressure on Mah to solve this problem with more drastic measures albeit tempered with maxims such as "cool, not crash" aimed at a softer landing.

What will happen next in our bubbling public housing prices is going to be really anybody's guess. In a way, Adam Smith's invisible hand might soon be showing its mighty influence can seep over into political outcomes as well.



Greg Holden - Get inside out

Posted: November 25, 2009 by fievel in Labels:
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I never heard of bigger words in all my life,
But it's not true it wasn't you who cast the light,
I fell down off every wall I ever built
I gave way to every shadow shading guilt
And then I looked inside and told inside to get out
I never known or over thrown what someone had
I only saw what we all saw I never asked
I payed attention to the sutleties in space
I never mentioned all the miseries I faced
But then I looked inside and told inside to get out
How many ways are there to say that I forgot,
Figured out all the details and the things that I am not
I worked hard to break away from troubled time
I moved far in state to join the line
Because I looked inside and I told inside to get out
I never thought it would be easy to escape
But I was ready holding courage in my fate
I opened fire on all the things that scared me most
I never tired I didn't retreat from my post
I only looked inside and I told inside yes I only looked inside
And I told inside you should only look inside and tell inside to get out

GST is helping the poor (corporates)

Posted: by fievel in Labels: ,
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Strange isn't it? Most Singaporeans seem unaware of the reasoning behind the tax hike. Officially, the reasoning given was that it will help the poor and tax the affluent more. Apart from thinking that this reasoning is rubbish as it likely does the exact opposite (see link, link and link), I think it was also an insult to the intelligence of the Singaporeans who opposed the amendment for the government to throw some one-off GST sweeteners and then forget all about it thereafter. Life goes on yeah? Well from today's news and Minister Lim Hwee Hua, it seems now this GST monies is being used to reduce the corporate tax rates so as to make Singapore an even more business-friendly country.

I don't know about you but deep down I'm sure all of you can feel that something is wrong isn't it? Many don't see the effects of this as it works slowly, and in small ways - not dissimilar to a smoker slowly but surely killing himself. I think it wouldn't be too imaginative of me to think of thieves pretending to be Robin Hood, plundering the citizenry over and over again, everytime we spend on anything, everything in Singapore.

Straits Times
Offset for corporate tax fall

A PROJECTED fall in government revenue from a corporate tax cut here will be more than offset by steps taken in recent years to raise revenue from other sources, said Second Minister for Finance and Transport Lim Hwee Hua on Monday.
Her comments coincided with the passing of the Income Tax (Amendment) Bill on Monday, which gave effect to pro-business tax measures announced during the Budget speech in January.
Among other things, the new law exempts companies from paying tax on foreign-sourced income for one year, and allows businesses to claim losses against three previous years of income instead of just one.
It also cuts the corporate tax rate from 18 per cent to 17 per cent, bringing Singapore's rate closer to that of key rival economy Hong Kong, where the rate is 16.5 per cent.
Mrs Lim, who is also Minister in the Prime Minister's Office, said this reduction will cost the Government between $400 million and $500 million a year.
But she assured members of the House that earlier steps - including the raising of the goods and services tax (GST) from 5 per cent to 7 per cent in 2007 - will more than make up for this fall.

Last time police wore shorts

Posted: November 24, 2009 by fievel in Labels: , ,
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THE Housing Board (HDB) cannot meet all expectations of home buyers even though the standard of housing has increased over the years, said National Development Minister Mah Bow Tan.

For God's sake, Mah, please stop trying to make it sound like Singaporeans are becoming pickier. Even if it were us becoming pickier, it's because the bloody flat has become that much more expensive~! It's like paying a no-good minister an extra few million dollars a year and getting nothing more in return...so we complain, why? Because simple economics say we pay more for more utillity~ If he earned about the same as what someone of his equivalent intelligence and capability deserves, I will be here writing to protect his sorry behind instead of lambasting it with all my might.

Addressing Parliament on Monday, he said some buyers seemed to have unrealistic expectations.

Mr Mah, who is 61, recalled his childhood days living in Kim Keat Avenue. His then three-room HDB flat 'was like a palace' - even though there was just one toilet and bathroom in a flat with eight people.

Last time...Last time...(as the Singaporean saying goes)...Last time police wore shorts...

'It was basic but it was like a palace to us because I had just come from a one-room (flat) with 10 people in Chinatown. So I think that reflects our expectations at that time and how things have changed,' he said.

Ya boy, how things have changed. Last time Ministers like you don't earn over $2 million dollars a year.
"So I think that reflects our Ministers' sense of duty at that time and how things have changed."

Although HDB's new flats are 'going to be even nicer over time... certain expectations, we cannot meet', he said.

HDB cannot build flats only in mature estates, or flats that are only on high floors, he pointed out.

Nobody is asking Mah to only build flats on high floors. We just want him to keep public housing affordable for Singaporeans. A Singaporean who makes a statement about how he refuses to purchase a flat on low floors or in a far-flung location is simply implying that that he or she refuses to do so AT CURRENT PRICES. Everything has a price isn't it?

Mah has failed miserably in his job to keep housing affordable and yet he has never once admitted his failings, instead, he chooses to continue pointing fingers back at the people who voted him into power...oh wait a minute, my mistake, he "walk-overed" his way into parliament.

--photo from ZaoBao

Defamation suits by the Lees are becoming so redundant...

Posted: November 20, 2009 by fievel in Labels: ,
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By now many of you would have read about the recent out-of-court settlement by Far Eastern Economic Review (FEER) to the Lees...paying them a sum total of SGD 405,000 for allegedly defaming their reputations.

If you haven't, you can read about of it here, here and here.

Now, tell me what your subconscious mind registers the moment you read about this?
For me it went vaguely like...

Thought 1
"Oh, another one bites the dust...who dare challenge our great almighty Lees next?"

Thought 2
"Great, more people in the world will now see the way our psuedo-democratic system works in Singapore"
...

Many many more thoughts followed, but none that included "Lee" and "good reputation" in one sentence.
I think their so-called defamation suits are doing more harm than good to their reputation! So unless they really like having extra loose change of a couple of hundreds of thousand dollars in their brimming coffers, they really should just stop having journalists and publishing companies and oppositions for lunch now...

Shocking revelations...but only to the non-digits amongst us

Posted: November 16, 2009 by fievel in Labels: ,
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I feel very saddened that Dr Lim lost 20 years of his life to a system that most of my family and friends still believe is a good one.

If one of your own loved ones or friends (or even yourself) ever become detained by PAP under this Internal Security Act, this "rule above law", due merely to some political views or statements he or she made, what will you do? What can you do? I think I'll sign a bloody letter of repentance and run off to a more democratic country where I cannot be held as a criminal just because of my political alignments. Singapore is an absurd country filled with politically apathetic citizens for this video not to have made it to the headlines of our newspapers....oh wait, is there another reason for that? (I bet Senior Lee never thought this day will come when technology can bring about such exposure of these evil acts to the surface to be heard and judged by all that has an internet connection...and a conscience.

Calling the ST to be state-controlled media is tiring old news, but the question is, did you feel anything after seeing this video? If your answer is no not really, then you have truly become "just another digit".

Hodges - My side of the Story

Posted: by fievel in Labels:
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...found this track off the 'Demonology' episode of Criminal Minds...

Our PRs are helluva rich bunch

Posted: November 13, 2009 by fievel in Labels: , ,
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Some helluva rich PR just paid $653,000 for a 4-room HDB flat...just imagine what its doing to the valuations of other flats (and condos) which are marked-to-market...
Well done Prime Minister Lee and Mah Bow Tan.

I'll be forwarding this piece of news to all my Singaporean friends who are currently overseas so as to warn them against coming home. I hope everyone does their part and forward their friends this news out of good will, lest they might be happily planning to return home, unaware of what they are walking back into.

This particular flat was bought for $262,000 4 years ago...now going for $653,000, before we are even out of the @#%^ worst recession. Has something gone terribly wrong with PAP's immigration and housing policies? Is this a joke? It must be right? Either I am crazy, or they are. This was a definite case of our cheese getting moved...again.


Nov 13, 2009
$653k for 4-room HDB flat
Industry players caution high price for unit in Queenstown is a one-off
By Jessica Cheam
A FOUR-ROOM Queenstown HDB flat has sold for $653,000, setting a new record for price per sq ft (psf), amid continuing red-hot demand for resale flats.

The buyers, a male Indonesian permanent resident and a Singaporean woman, could have bought a condominium unit in an outlying area for the price.

But they were won over by the location, just five minutes walk from Queenstown MRT station, and on the top, 40th floor of the block, with unblocked views of greenery from all windows.

The four-year-old 969sqft unit at Forfar Heights, Strathmore Avenue, sold for $68,000 above valuation - a level determined by an independent valuer.

This works out to $674 psf, smashing the previous record of $609 psf, achieved in January last year, by about 10 per cent.

This may be an unusually high price but resale prices have been moving up.

Read the full story in Friday's edition of The Straits Times.

Just a thought

Posted: November 12, 2009 by fievel in Labels:
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Life is exactly like trading;
It's full of ups and downs.
The only certainty is uncertainty.
You'll never know where you'll end up eventually.
You can do nothing and pray for the best.
Or you can do all that you can, not knowing if it will truly make a difference in the end.

Glen Hansard

Posted: November 11, 2009 by fievel in Labels:
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Taxi drivers - crystal balls for your future as a Singaporean?

Posted: November 10, 2009 by fievel in Labels: , ,
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I get a lot of opportunities to interact with taxi drivers because my company sponsors my cab rides due to the odd hours. I'm sure most Singapore-netizens are aware of the taxi driver blog by Dr Cai Ming Jie...well I am not as entertained by my encounters with cabbies as he is with passengers, but I'd just like to share a bit of an epiphany I had derived from my daily brief meetings with them.

While I find that the garden varieties of cabbies typically fall into the happy, angry or bo-chup categories, there are some stark commonalities that link them all.

First of which - they drive so damn aggressively. Why do you think they do so? Were they all ah-bengs who used to sport a souped-up mitsubishi lancer/honda civic in the 80s and now only get to express their fast-and-furious ambitions through their toyota crowns and hyundai sonatas? Nope. I think that it is because they, just like the Singaporean pedestrian whose walking speed is crowned world's number 1 [see link], are under a lot of pressure in the Singapore way of life. They are driving this crazy because life as a taxi driver in Singapore is getting harder and harder. According to them, the authorities have indiscriminately released too many cabs onto the market, scouring the roads for business at such cut-throat manners that they have to be absolutely the fastest and quickest to bring home enough bacon.

Second, their number 1 concern in life, aside from bashing the PAP government, is to find money...money...more money. I am not a complete idealist nor a pragmatist, but I think it's a sad depiction of life when everything that occupies one's mind 24/7 is money. Every so often, they'll ask, "Oh you work here as a so-and-so? I heard so-and-so can earn a lot of money? Good hor? How much bonus can you get?" It's just our culture, I hear some of you say. Yes and no. Yes we do have a culture whereby asking about the price tag of a recent holiday or a newly acquired car is the social norm, but we do have the general understanding that it is not so great to ask about one's salary. The question, however, often leaves the lips of the questioning party with the thought that if there is another job out there that he or she can have for this much more money, then "I also want!", to hell with social niceties. Such is the dire need for more money in Singapore that not many of us, cab drivers or not, can say money is only the second factor in our career choice. If you still don't buy my story, just observe the long lines we have at the TOTO and 4D lottery booths e-v-e-r-y-d-a-y. This is not the case in other developed nations. If you are brushing aside my case-in-point because you are thinking "of course money is the number 1 factor what!", then I'm afraid you have been so indoctrinated in the Singapore system that it might be tough to ever get you to see it from a perspective outside of the little red box.

Third and last, many of them had a higher-social-class job prior to becoming a taxi driver. Don't come after me with your steely knives just yet. It is the politically incorrect truth and I am but saying it out loud.
On occasions when I feel conversational enough, I'll speak with them enough to find out that they used to be engineers, engineering sales executives, production managers and so on, before something untoward inadvertently happpens to their careers and they were "too old" to turn things around, and with mortgage payments and a family to feed, they got ushered by our Singapore system into becoming a cab driver.

Could this be you in the future? Ask yourselves now. Don't hide behind your educational certificates or your current career status and think it will never happen to you. Trust me, due to our small geographical size, structural unemployment is a very strong likelihood in your next 20 - 30 years. Remember your spanking new 30 year mortgage? Do you have a kid to support? There you have it. The recipe for becoming a cab driver one fine day.

Could things be different in Singapore? Well, I honestly don't know. But if the past 20 years is any guide, this current brand of leadership thinking will never lead us down a better path. Never.

Ray LaMontagne - Hold you in my arms

Posted: November 4, 2009 by fievel in Labels:
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Obama's weekly address

Posted: November 3, 2009 by fievel in Labels: , ,
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I especially liked the efforts directed towards creating a New Energy economy in America. I also liked how President Obama acknowledges that GDP growth does not equate to job growth, or rising income. He gets in touch with the Americans via such videos on his blog on a weekly basis! I believe there will truly be a great American economic recovery because they have him, and more importantly, because if he goes away, their democratic system will allow the next true political maverick to emerge. Singapore does not have that.

Animal Farm - Chapter X

Posted: by fievel in Labels: ,
6

PAP takes fight online
[See Link]

I refer to the above linked news article.

I don't think PAP nor PM Lee understands the core issues that are going to decide which camp the electorate is going to be in come the next election. It's not about taking the "fight" to a new platform, nor is it about taking on any sort of fight...heck it is not even a fight between PAP and the opposition.

The current climate that I see and hear around me, of the middle and lower class citizens, does not concern itself with the quality of the opposition parties anymore. Singaporeans are tired of the empty promises, of the endless mirage of a better four years. We are, if my eyes and ears and heart serves me well, simply a bunch of new generation citizens awakening to the possibilities of change for the better for our nation, even if it means taking a leap of faith with a less proven political candidate.

As a good friend once so sharply remarked, there are really such an astonishing number of angry Singaporeans who are feeling shortchanged by the current batch of leaders that he doesn't understand how it is even remotely possible that anybody with the half-hearted, pre-medidated intention of promoting PAP online can stand to be counted. The tirade of disillusioned and disbelieving citizens will white wash any of such efforts, barring legal threats to spread fear among citizens of course.

As the next election draws nearer, we can see a flurry of political activities starting to emerge out of nowhere. But one observation I'll like to make here is this: much like in the world of marketing and advertising, the target audience can and will evolve to become less susceptible to the old tricks and gimmicks. One can only fall for the "New and Improved!" claim that many times, before deciding it's time to stop trusting a brand. The conundrum that faces our PAP government now is this; hard sell is probably going to backfire against a skeptical crowd, yet soft sell is not going to give them too much of a comfort of ensuring success with good confidence in such a short time.

Whatever it is, I just don't understand how the current batch of leaders can be seemingly so removed from the reality facing them in the coming election for them; how else can one explain their utter plain disregard for the electorate in their public policy decisions in the last few years? Overcrowding from loose immigration laws, housing inflation from supply choke peppered with Mah Bow Tan's continued claims of affordability, ostentatious pay hike for ministers, the Temasek and Ho Ching debacles, insensitive remarks about low income citizens' needs from MPs such as Vivian 3-meals-in-restaurant Balakrishnan, MM LKY's awesome claim that the widening income gap is 'inevitable'...the list goes on and on...As I go to bed puzzled with this question, the only word that comes to mind that will rationalize all these is... COMPLACENCY.

For those who are curious about the picture, you might want to read the short novel, THE ANIMAL FARM, by George Orwell, to understand how interesting the novel really is. Now if you don't have the time to, it is really fine for us to just read the Chapter X of the story...

Say no to the death penalty

Posted: October 29, 2009 by fievel in Labels: ,
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Always felt the death penalty should be limited to cold blooded murderers.
I'm not all that involved but just thought I could spread the msg on.



Tracy Chapman

Posted: by fievel in Labels:
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Goosebumps-level songs...






You got a fast car
I want a ticket to anywhere
Maybe we make a deal
Maybe together we can get somewhere

Any place is better
Starting from zero got nothing to lose
Maybe we'll make something
Me myself I got nothing to prove

You got a fast car
I got a plan to get us out of here
I've been working at the convenience store
Managed to save just a little bit of money
Won't have to drive too far
Just cross the border and into the city
You and I can both get jobs
And fin'lly see what it means to be living

See my old man's got a problem
He lives with the bottle that's the way it is
He says his bodys too old for working
I say his bodys too young to look like his
My mama went off and left him
She wanted more from life than he could give
I said somebodys got to take care of him
So I quit school and that's what I did

You got a fast car
Is it fast enough so we can fly away
We gotta make a decision
We leave tonight or live and die this way

I remember when we were driving driving in your car
Speed so fast I felt like I was drunk
City lights lay out before us
And your arm felt nice wrapped round my shoulder
And I had a feeling that I belonged
And I had a feeling I could be someone, be someone, be someone

You got a fast car
We go cruising to entertain ourselves
You still ain't got a job
And I work in the market as a checkout girl
I know things will get better
You'll find work and I'll get promoted
We'll move out of the shelter
Buy a bigger house and live in the suburbs

I remember we were driving driving in your car
Speed so fast I felt like I was drunk
City lights lay out before us
And your arm felt nice wrapped round my shoulder
And I had a feeling that I belonged
And I had a feeling I could be someone, be someone, be someone

You got a fast car
I got a job that pays all our bills
You stay out drinking late at the bar
See more of your friends than you do of your kids
I'd always hoped for better
Thought maybe together you and me'd find it
I got no plans I ain't going nowhere
So take your fast car and keep on driving

I remember when we were driving driving in your car
Speed so fast I felt like I was drunk
City lights lay out before us
And your arm felt nice wrapped round my shoulder
And I had a feeling that I belonged
And I had a feeling I could be someone, be someone, be someone

You got a fast car
But is it fast enough so you can fly away
You gotta make a decision
You leave tonight or live and die this way

Unfinished business

Posted: October 27, 2009 by fievel in Labels: ,
2

Just thought we should revisit old issues from time to time as the next election draws near. I hope Singaporeans will not allow this farce to continue after the next election.

Liverpool 2 - 0 Man Utd

Posted: October 26, 2009 by fievel in Labels:
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Sweet Victory =)

Radiohead

Posted: October 23, 2009 by fievel in Labels:
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Just 2 crazy good songs from Radiohead

True Love Waits


Street Spirit

Randy Pausch - Time Management

Posted: October 20, 2009 by fievel in Labels: ,
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This post is more of like a reminder for myself in the future...

Singapore needs better statisticians

Posted: October 16, 2009 by fievel in Labels: ,
0


I read with utter disbelief 3 days ago on the Straits Times that Singapore's inflation for 2009 is heading for a big fat zero. [See Link]

My disbelief stems from the fact that I have felt ever poorer by the day for the past 3 years, all due to housing inflation.

I have always been bewildered when yet another news article on Singapore's inflation pores over the prices of food, but neglects the costs of housing.

Let's face it. Singapore does have very cheap food. If you cannot afford food prices in the newly opened upmarket japanese or italian restaurant, why not hop over to the food court? And if you cannot afford the food court prices, why not hop over to the hawker centers? (Better heed this advice or else a certain Minister Vivian might tick you off ;)

A solid delicious piece of roti prata in its purest kosong form still costs less than 0.1% of your monthly salary (assuming you earn $2k a month, which is just for the sake of this discussion) . Let's inflate its price by 300%, it should now cost you $3 from the original $1. For convenience sake let's say you are a roti-prata-monster and you eat it 3 meals x 30 days. How much is that? 90 x $3 = $270 per month.

You used to spend $90, now you spend $270 per month on your pratas. That's an increase in spending per month of $180 in the ultra unthinkably horrible event of a 300% inflation in food prices

Now let's look at our reality's version of inflation - the one that does hit us. We all know HDB prices went up like its suddenly made of gold in the past months. How much did it inflate by? I'm sorry I do not have the accurate data to support an average dollar amount claims here. But I can safely drop a ballpark figure of $50,000 at the very least, for the normal HDB flats, not those in Tanjong Pagar or Boon Keng or Marine Parade.

Now how does this $50,000 increment hit us in comparison? Let's say you take out a 30yr loan at HDB's 2.6% rates, this increase of $50k translates to an increase of $220 in mortgage payments per month...for 30 years!. I don't need to illustrate that $220 is slightly greater than $180. What does that mean? This means that the dollar equivalent parallel universe of what has happened to us Singaporeans in the past few months, is as if our pratas suddenly shot up to $3 a piece, or our teh-O became $3 per cup, or our "mee-siam mai hum" *made famous by a leader of ours* became $9 a bowl !

You can downgrade from Lawry's to Food Republic western food to "downstairs' kopitiam", but you cannot downgrade from HDB! Because that one is already the "upstairs" of the downstairs' kopitiam.

Zero inflation? Singapore needs better statisticians.

Ray LaMontagne & Damien Rice - To love somebody

Posted: October 9, 2009 by fievel in Labels:
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Dear Prime Minister, is it ok if we have a new Minister for National Development cos this one sucks?

Posted: October 8, 2009 by fievel in Labels: , ,
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Just a fleeting thought...

Is it in the power of the people to have Mr Mah Bow Tan removed from his post of MND seeing as we are a democratic nation?

The public housing situation is really absurd. 6 times over-subscribed with another half of the balloting period to run. Best of all, as if to to scorn his claims that Singaporeans are too picky and not willing to live in new and ulu estates, there is currently; [SEE LINK]
1) 26 times oversubscription for Sengkang 4-room flats
2) 15 times oversubscription for Sengkang 5-room /executive flats
3) 8 times oversubscription for Punggol 4-room flats
4) 19 times oversubscription for Punggol 5-room flats
5) 16 times oversubscription for Sembawang 4-room flats
6) 22 times oversubscription for Sembawang 5-room/executive flats

Heck, even Woodlands 4 roomers are 29 times oversubscribed at this time of writing...and this kind of take up rate is happening despite about 11% inflation in the prices of the flats released AFTER A MERE 4 months from the last half-annual sale.

I nearly threw my shoes onto the PC screen when I saw Mah appear on RazorTV news saying there are enough flats again.

Adele

Posted: October 7, 2009 by fievel in Labels:
0



Damien Rice & Lisa Hannigan

Posted: October 6, 2009 by fievel in Labels:
2

Lead Guitarist: Damien Rice
Vocalist: Lisa Hannigan
Cellist: Vyvienne Long
Drums: Tom Osander (Tomo)
Bass: Shane Fitzsimons



Overseas Singaporeans - The Design Engineer

Posted: October 5, 2009 by fievel in Labels: , ,
3

My promised interview series of Overseas-Singaporeans has finally gotten off to a start. While he is more than willing to share with us his experiences, he has chosen to remain anonymous and I respect his decision. Please be assured on my good mousey name and faith, for what it's worth, that he is not a fictitious character. As a background, our friend here left Singapore because of educational opportunities, where he was, I guess, deemed not good enough to obtain his preferred choice to read Electrical Engineering in NTU. He has since gone on to complete a Bachelor's degree, followed by a Master's degree in an Ivy League university after leaving Singapore.



Name: The Design Engineer
Age: 34
Location: Arizona
Length of stay: 11 years
Occupation: Engineer


fievel: How and when did you end up here? Was it planned or did it just happen to you?

Quite a long story. It was definitely not planned. I was serving my NS back then, and my brother was already in the States for a few years. He kept encouraging me (and also advising my parents to let me) to go over. I don't think I have much opinion about it back then, probably just going with the flow and thinking that I have to get a degree. I ended up applying to NTU and a few other Universities in the States.

NTU then offered me a placement in Mechanical Engineering, when my first and only choice was Electrical Engineering. Since I hold a diploma in Mechatronic (mechanical-electrical) Engineering, I had hoped that I can pick the area that I am most interested in. Well, I (and my parents) was hoping to stay in Singapore, hence I asked the admission office if I can appeal the decision. Long story short, they said no without much explanation citing policy and what's not, I ended up considering the offers I had from US (I actually forgot if this is the main reason I started applying overseas or I just did it anyway because of my brother's influence). The irony is after I wrote to decline NTU's offer of admission, they actually called to ask me why and then proceed to tell me I can switch to EE if I wanted to.

So that's how it all started. Once I got used to the lifestyle, I really enjoyed my time here in the States. I decided to carry on for a Master's degree, and eventually, decided to find a job in the States. Hence, here I am still!


fievel: Has it been difficult for you to adapt to the new environment? Do you feel at home in this new place? What were the major difficulties you faced along the way?

It is definitely a challenge, going to a new place all by myself and not knowing anyone there. The biggest change really was going from living with your parents to being alone, having to take care of every aspect of your own life. The culture and system were certainly different, but I guess I went in with an open mind and never really has issue there. The public transport system is the hardest thing to get used to, I missed my bus couple times and had to walked home (~6 miles) because I missed the last one @ 6pm! Life is definitely a lot easier when I got my car a year later.

Once I got to know a few close friends, and they helped me figured out the system, the experience had been good. I did not feel at home at first, but the longer I stay in the States, the more I feel that this is my home. I figure that it would be even more so when I eventually "settle" and get a house. Sadly, I think I only view Singapore as a home because my parents and some of my very close friends are still there. Beyond that, I really don't miss anything.


fievel: Obviously, for some reasons, you've decided to stay on where you are up till now. What is it that makes you stay, and not return to Singapore? (Is it career, lifestyle, weather, or just the heck of it)

I think it is mostly for career and lifestyle. If I think farther, it is probably for the future too.

On the career side, I doubt I can find a similar job function and work environment in Singapore. I work as a design engineer, and from the feedback I get from friends and family back home, the prospect is not that great. In fact, most of my engineering friends had long switched to sales and banking sectors. I think I get a lot of freedom here, to do my job in the way I want, so long as the end result is achieved. It is my perception that this is hard to do in Singapore.

Moving on to lifestyle, I think mainly because I am not really a city person. It is really just personal preference. To me, it is easier to get to places for a short vacation in the States, the land is vast hence there is a lot you can do. The pace is slower and more relaxing, I can afford big ticket items like a house and a car easier. I feel like I can afford a easier life and yet still with more spending power than I would have if I were back in Singapore.

Lastly if I wanted to start a family, I think there is also more advantage for the kids to be an American Citizen. I always feel that in Singapore, you cannot afford to really pursue what you want since there is a preferred path to our education system. I am not sure what kind of streaming they have now, but you are branded early as success or failure. While it is important to be competitive, I always feel that if your skill set does not lie in the mainstream (demand), you are pretty much screwed in Singapore.


fievel:  This question is on career and education. Please tell us if you have exceeded your potential compared to what you would have thought possible in Singapore? Or, can you tell us a little bit about your career and how leaving Singapore made the difference?

I guess I touched a little with my reply above, but I will go into more details here. To be honest, I think I would never had achieved what I had if I stayed in Singapore. I never really liked the education in Singapore, I often felt uninspired and it's difficult to motivate myself. Obviously there are many who excel in the system, I don't want to blame the system entirely, but I just feel that the system is just not flexible enough to develop the potential based on different type of personalities. I went to JC for a year, and I did so badly that I had to be retained. After some soul-searching, I felt that I have good analytical skills and decided to enrol in an engineering course in Polytechnic. This should also mean less route-learning and some exposure to hands-on (industrial training, final year project etc.) which I should be interested in. Turned out that this the variation I needed, and I did reasonably well there. This is really a turning point in my life and I learned then that you really have to be doing things you are interested in to do well.

After coming over to the States, I also found that there are people who are very passionate about what they are doing, be it in engineering, marketing, social works, health care, music; they are truely pursuing their dreams and not driven by where the money is (Well I guess if you work in Wall St, you are driven by money :) ).


fievel: If you were to come back to Singapore, what changes would you like to see in Singapore?

This is a tough question, especially since I am not paid millions to solve the problem :)

Personally, I feel that with Singapore, we have a society first, and then we mold the people to fit into it, unless you are among the rich and powerful. I don't want to be molded hence I really cannot envision myself coming back. In my opinion, the Govt feels that Singapore has to function in a certain way for the nation to prosper and progress, and it is sometimes hard to do otherwise based on the size and limitation she is facing. I truly cannot see anything to change.

At the back of my mind, I am always worried about my parents since I am never around them. It is a tough choice for me too, but it really signifies how much I don't want to come back, plus I really think that I do not want to start a family in Singapore, going through what I had gone through again. If I have kids, I'd like to give them the freedom of choice.

To me, it is more likely that I have to change my expectations and mindset to be back. It is strange, but I am no longer comfortable living in the place that I grew up in.

fievel: What advice would you give to a fellow Singaporean in general, if he or she wants to venture out of the country?

Keep an open mind, I have seen many Asians here but was not open to changing their mindset and mentality. As a result, it is very difficult to enjoy their time overseas. There are always 2 sides to a coin, it should not stop us from enjoying the good things overseas while keeping our good Singapore values.


fievel: That's all the questions there is....thank you for your time!

Dave Matthews Band - crash into me

Posted: October 3, 2009 by fievel in Labels:
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Don McLean - Vincent

Posted: September 29, 2009 by fievel in Labels:
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Another jounalist to add to my "Don't-believe-list"

Posted: by fievel in Labels: , ,
2

Interestingly, Straits Times' choice of headlines in this article once again makes me wonder if they think we are collectively a stupid or dumb country. Why is the content of this article, "Former Reform Party member..." but the header "Reform Party man..." ??? It's slightly amusing actually.

Reform Party man wanted by US
By Elena Chong
FORMER Reform Party committee member Balraj Naidu made a brief court appearance on Tuesday for an extradition hearing which was adjourned until next Monday.
The businessman was arrested at his home last week and brought to court on a warrant of arrest.
He is wanted by the US Government on two terrorism-related charges and brokering an arms deal with the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Ellam (LTTE) .
No charge has been laid against him.
The request for his extradition was made around the middle of the year.
Family members of Mr Naidu were in court with his lawyer, who declined comment.

Australians lead the way

Posted: by fievel in Labels: , ,
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Australian House Prices May Rise Too Fast, RBA Says


2009-09-29 04:18:26.445 GMT

By Jacob Greber

Sept. 29 (Bloomberg) -- Australian house prices may surge too fast, hurting low-income families seeking to buy or rent homes, said Anthony Richards, head of economic analysis at the Reserve Bank of Australia.

"Looking forward, the risk is that we might move toward undesirably strong growth in Australian housing prices," Richards said today at a housing conference in Sydney. "This raises a number of concerns, which seem to be widely shared in the community."

Australian house prices rose 4.2 percent in the second quarter from the previous three months, the first increase in five quarters, helped by the lowest borrowing costs in half a century and government grants to first-time buyers. Richards said it's "increasingly clear" Australia has avoided the large drops in property prices seen in other countries.

"This is a good thing, because of the macroeconomic difficulties that have accompanied those price falls in some countries," Richards said. Still, "when the price of housing rises, higher-income households tend to benefit at the expense of lower-income households," he said. "As a nation, we are not really any richer when the price of housing rises, but the more vulnerable tend to be hurt.

"We are in a situation where we would not want to see very strong growth in housing prices -- that would be unhelpful from a social perspective."

Interest Rates

Investors have an 84 percent expectation Governor Glenn Stevens will boost the overnight cash rate target in November by a quarter point to 3.25 percent, according to interbank futures on the Sydney Futures Exchange at 10:39 a.m. While the affordability of housing has improved this year, it will deteriorate when the central bank begins raising the overnight cash rate target from its 49-year low of 3 percent.

"As the bank has noted on a number of occasions, it is not reasonable to expect that interest rates will stay at the current low levels indefinitely," Richards said. "When they do rise toward more normal levels, discussions
on housing affordability will again focus more on the level of housing prices relative to income."

One way of ensuring affordability doesn't climb too fast is to boost supply of new homes.

"It is becoming well understood that supply side factors, in addition to the well-known demand side ones, have contributed to the relatively high level of housing prices in Australia," Richards said.

The challenge facing governments is to ensure more houses are built alongside slower growth in prices, "rather than vice versa," he said. Labor shortages may also emerge in the building industry as the economic recovery improves.


--Editors: John McCluskey, Michael Heath
To contact the reporter for this story:

Jacob Greber in Sydney at +61-2-9777-8635 or

To contact the editor responsible for this story:

Michael Dwyer at +65-6212-1130 or


HOPE, for A LIFE LESS ORDINARY

Posted: September 25, 2009 by fievel in Labels: ,
8


Recently I have stopped posting as frequently as I used to, partially because I got tired of my own rantings, and partially because I felt it wasn't doing much good going by the response I read on Straits Times.

I realized that bad social circumstances can never be truly or genuinely empathized with by people outside of a situation, and so I decided it was useless going on and on about issues as our Ministers will probably be unable to even begin to apprehend, even if they tried.

In any case, I've decided to shift my blog more towards the theme of HOPE. I have had the good fortune of seeing what life can be like outside of Singapore first hand. Although the world is smaller now and many of us have been around the globe on holidays and stuff, I believe that it takes a person to actually experience working and living abroad to know the good and bad and decide for themselves if this Singapore lifestyle of slogging your whole life away for a bare-minimum set of house, car and retirement savings is truly all the potential life has in store for him or herself.

As cliched as it may sound, I find many Singaporeans' stories to truly be the case of a frog dying, slowly but surely and unknowingly, in a pot of water slowly brought to boil.

I do not know if my intention will be achievable, or whether the stories will be inspiring or if it will be to the opposite, but I intend to document the stories of some ordinary Singaporeans who have managed to, as Senior Minister Goh Chok Tong once said, "quit" Singapore.

This series of interviews and stories will be under the label, "A Life Less Ordinary". So look out for it!

THE TRIBE HAS SPOKEN

Posted: by fievel in Labels: , ,
0



As you can see, after nearly a month, the online petition has succeeded in getting the targeted 1000 signatures. I highly doubt that this will change the tune within MND, HDB or that of Mr Mah Bow Tan; but let it be known to them and him, that out there in our tiny island country, while these decision and policy makers are sleeping soundly in their multi-million bungalows, there is an arising discontent with their irresponsible actions.

Aerosmith - Living on the Edge (dedicated to Singapore's leaders)

Posted: September 16, 2009 by fievel in Labels: , ,
0


There's somethin' wrong with the world today
I don't know what it is
Something's wrong with our eyes
We're seeing things in a different way
And God knows it ain't His
It sure ain't no surprise
We're livin' on the edge
We're livin' on the edge
We're livin' on the edge
We're livin' on the edge
There's somethin' wrong with the world today
The light bulb's gettin' dim
There's meltdown in the sky
If you can judge a wise man
By the color of his skin
Then mister you're a better man that I
We're livin' on the edge
You can't help yourself from fallin'
Livin' on the edge
You can't help yourself at all
Livin' on the edge
You can't stop yourself from fallin'
Livin' on the edge
Tell me what you think about your sit-u-a-tion
Complication - aggravation
Is getting to you
If chicken little tells you that the sky is fallin'
Even if it wasn't would you still come crawlin'
Back again?
I bet you would my friend
Again & again & again & again & again
Tell me what you think about your sit-u-a-tion
Complication - aggravation
Is getting to you
If chicken little tells you that the sky is fallin'
Even if it was would would you still come crawlin'
Back again?
I bet you would my friend
Again & again & again & again
There's something right with the world today
And everybody knows it's wrong
But we can tell 'em no or we could let it go
But I would rather be a hanging on
Livin' On the Edge
You can't help yourself from fallin'
Livin' On the Edge
You can't help yourself at all
Livin' On the Edge
You can't stop yourself from fallin'
Livin' On the Edge
Livin' On the Edge
Livin' On the Edge
Livin' On the Edge
Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah

A rather meaningful comment that says it all...

Posted: by fievel in Labels: , ,
8

Just saw a latest signature number 605 on the Online Petition for affordable housing for Singapore...here it is...

8:57 pm PDT, Sep 15, Singaporean Citizen, Singapore
The two biggest expenditure items for any Singaporean will always be housing and transportation. Most are working a lifetime to pay off debts and just making by each day. By putting citizens into debt, it makes them easier to "control". There are a few papers and books discussing this issue of debt as a new form of slavery. I also do not subscribe to the notion of "willing buyer - willing seller". There are cultural norms that are more or less imposed on us by parents and peers. Taking a middle class example of a male university graduate who graduated at the age of 25. He and his significant other have at or about 5 to 8 years to save up for housing and marriage. Upon commiting to marriage, cash and cpf sums are wiped out. They will stay wiped out for the next 10 years at least. With kids, it will take a much longer period to even see your savings account grow. Many buyers in the current HDB resale and new DBSS market are paying such prices because the only other alternative is to stay with parents. Staying with parents just opens a whole new can of worms. I want to put off buying a house for now. But we are not that young any more. Buying a BTO project and waiting 4/5 years is a option as a last resort. Buying resale requires large sums of cash for COV, which is something I do not have. This property appreciation business does not benefit the vast majority. How many people are able to sell their homes and realise the gains? I do not know what is the best course of action now, except to wait. My relationship is strained as me and my girlfriend are left in limbo and unable to properly start a new family nucleus. There are many counter arguments to the above points. But taking a step back, it can be acknowledged that the situation is far from acceptable. What steps is the government going to take? What actions are we, the citizens, going to take?

Epiphany

Posted: by fievel in Labels:
0

The best ways to learn from our mistakes, is to carry them with us.

News Flash! Minister Mah has heard us!

Posted: September 14, 2009 by fievel in Labels: , ,
4

Talk about People Power! After a few weeks of citizens appealing to the government via the Straits Times and other alternative medias such as blogs and online petitions, Minister Mah has moved to curb property speculation in Singapore with immediate effect in today's parliamentary meeting. [ See Straits Times Report ]


While this is great news it will take time for the public housing sector to start showing a price decline due to correlation, if at all. If the HDB resale market does not cool down even with the curbing of speculation in the private housing market, then it is apparent that the supply-demand dynamics in the HDB market needs to be looked into and worked on directly. I wait with bated breath to see where this road leads us in the next few weeks or months...Below is the ST report for your reference...in the mean time, I thank Minister Mah for finally doing something that makes sense and not cents


THE Government has stepped in to temper exuberance in the property market and preempt speculative bubble from forming.

With immediate effect, it will make it tougher for home buyers to borrow by disallowing interest absorption scheme and interest-only loans to prevent excessive speculation, National Development Minister Mah Bow Tan announced in Parliament on Monday.


This means that banks and developers will not be allowed to offer housing loans whereby the borrower only pays the interest and defers repayment of the principal to a later date.


Mr Mah also announced that the Government will reinstate land sales through its confirmed list system and increase the supply of sites under the "reserve list". Sale of state land under the confirmed list was suspended for the first half 2009 Government Land Sales (GLS) Programme to help stave off oversupply risk as the property market here was then on a downtrend.
Instead, state land was only made available under the 'reserve' list system for the first half of the year.

Under the reserve list system, the government releases a site for sale only if an interested party submits an application with a minimum price that is deemed acceptable.

By contrast, land parcels under the confirmed list will be tendered according to scheduled dates - which could translate to more residential property launches.

Mr Mah said speculation was trickling back into the property market and the measures were taken to prevent the overheating.

New home sales in Singapore have shot through the roof recently. Resale prices of many popular projects have also risen from the lows early this year.

Petition featured in Singapore's Chinese papers, Lian He Zao Bao

Posted: by fievel in Labels: , ,
0


While the online petition for affordable housing in Singapore has only reached 200+ signatures after more than a week, it has been given a new lease of life this morning after getting featured in our Chinese newspaper, Lian He Zao Bao (联合早报).
(I was unable to locate an online version of the report but above is the scan of the actual report in the 14th Sept 2009 papers.)


The report mentions citizens' concerns with soaring HDB prices (about 35% increase over 2 years) and quoted a NUS Real Estate professor (程天富), who said that the HDB flats, if based on debt-to-income ratio, is still affordable. He then went on to state that one of the public's concerns, instead of affordability, is that of the high COV required these days in the market, meaning to say that instead of the willingness to pay over 30 yrs for the current HDB prices, it is the inability to fork out the upfront cash required that is worrying us. The report is also peppered with mentions of the public asking for the current $8k income ceiling to be raised, and for the government to scrap the COV system etc etc.

I have a point to make below but let me preface that with my views, which might run contrary to what some fellow petitioners have suggested, in that the COV system is a necessary evil, and that it should not be scrapped; and yes, the $8K income ceiling is an archaic benchmark level and the implementation of which is currently a blanket system that fails to take care of citizens in that it does not take into account the number of dependents in a family.

I think that the COV is important because it limits the financing power of buyers in a quickly rising market and provides a price floor for the owners against quickly dropping prices. It acts as a dampener to the price volatility of HDB prices and it gives buyers an idea how much over and above the recent market prices they are paying for. Once the COV system is scrapped, what we have in a supply crunch market like the current one, would be rampant outbidding by desperate buyers who are throwing their financial prudence to the wind since they are able to finance that irrational decision with a bank loan.

$8K income ceiling? Well that is a self-explanatory issue once I had read about the plight of a certain petitioner whose family had 2 kids and 2 non-working old folks (note I do not classify them as "retired") living together. I do not pity those whose family planning is careless and irresponsible, with 3 or more kids when their earning powers are obviously not sufficient for such a large family; but 2 kids? Is that too much? Is a combined income of $8k (stress: with both husband and wife working) sufficient for a couple who has 2 kids and aging parents in Singapore to purchase a condominium apartment large enough for their family of 6? Where is their government-mandated CPF retirement minimum sum (currently at $117,000) going to come from? Would it drop from the sky? Also note that even that sum will only afford a very modest lifestyle in retirement.

Finally, my point is this. I do not think our HDB flats are affordable even if you use debt-to-income ratio. The problem is that in Singapore, we have relatively fragile careers (apart from those plying their trades in the government sector) that can be reduced from hero to zero in one economic policy change or industry trend shift. (Just ask the manufacturing-plants PMETs how secure they feel about their future) The income-to-debt ratio does not take into account the long duration of our mortgages often necessary to keep it "affordable", nor does it take into account of the fact that our household income are dependent on both parents being locked in the workforce. In other countries, it is often a choice for the wife to be working or to be a home-maker.

Next, for the elephant in the room; nobody wants to admit it - apart from the new HDB apartments in the "immature" a.k.a "ultra-ulu" locations (such as Punggol and Sengkang) which are only available to us if we got lucky with the bi-annual ballot, most of the resale market apartments in mature estates are really such sh*tholes they are not worth the high absolute prices being asked for in the market today. Not to mention most of these "mature" flats come with shorter remaining lease of around 70 to 80 yrs lease balance, which lends weight to the rich-gets-richer-poor-gets-poorer situation in Singapore because of inheritance issues.

Many young Singaporeans wish to upgrade to something better eventually. But once locked-in and laden with such high mortgages (relative to absolute wage levels here), many of us are aware that the fight to move upward in Singapore in this lifetime is perhaps so critically threatened that we might as well forget about it once we sign our names on the HDB lease. Our next 10 years or so of our mortgage payments will be going primarily towards interest payment and very very little principal owed is actually paid off. Our "asset" wealth is not going to go up by virtue of our faithful monthly payments unless there is a significant appreciation in HDB prices going forward from this point on. HDB is over-looking the fact that their apartments are really not worth that much prices in the alternate reality had they been building sufficient supply to meet demand.

HDB mentioned that they are limiting the number of new flats supplied (to 2,500 new flats in 2006) because despite a figure of 25,000 new marriages last year, there was really only 15,000 applications for new flats or 1st timer housing grants in the resale market, explaining further that the discrepancy is due to foreigners getting married in Singapore.

This is a REALLY DUMB explanation because HDB is still not admitting that many Singaporeans are looking for new flats in locations they want and not PongKang (Ponggol+Sengkang), or are not willing to wait 3 to 4 years for a BTO flat and are hence lingering in the resale market, or are unwilling to pay the high prices for the market rates, hence ONLY 15,000 couples were "lucky" enough to get a good ballot number or decided they couldn't wait any longer and finally took the plunge into the resale market.

The 10,000 balance of the figure did not signify that they were not looking to purchase a flat!? It signified that many more are waiting, lurking in the market, hoping that their financial prudency will pay off finally, building up a pent-up demand. But alas, HDB will never see it that way. They will rather worry about their bottom line in the event that they have an over-supply of flats. I ask aloud if that is such a terrible thing? Has HDB forgotten its DNA? It is NOT a FOR-PROFIT organization.

Hear the people

Posted: September 12, 2009 by fievel in Labels: , ,
5

Confession: I have been checking Singapore's very own Online Petition for Affordable Housing almost a hundred times a day, waiting to see it hit the 1000 mark and finally proclaim to our millionaire ministers, "The people have spoken !". Eat this! But alas, the numbers for the petition has been rather disappointing up till now, although the poor turnout till now does not diminish the vindication I have for this issue and it is continually fired by the comments I read in the petition. Maybe you'd like to hear some of them...so here you go....



9:53 am PDT, Sep 11, Cyrus Yeo, Singapore
It's so expensive untill it amazed me... Lost faith totally. i see with my own eyes people around me Suffer big time...it's beyond description...all i can do is shut up...oh ya shut up... It's for the sake of buidling a family out of love i'm gonna SUFFER this expensive hdb unwillingly no choice. Bondage...this is madness! 5 years ago my friend bought a 4rm for $148k in punggol , 5 years later now i apply a 4rm for $320k. Who can understand this ? Who cares if 5 years later the selling prices are good or not..now and 2moro i need money to feed my family.


8:03 am PDT, Sep 11, Name not displayed, Singapore

We have been hunting for flats for nearly 2 years but till now had not found one. Main problem is that the flat valuations are already high and yet greedy sellers are still asking for sky high COVs.. We're only in middle class and with 2 young schooling children, coughing out $30K - $50K for COVs is something we definitely can't afford.


1:16 am PDT, Sep 11, Raymond Ang, Singapore

I feel that housing prices are truly beyond my reach. The system discriminates against singles... as if the only ciizens with rights are those who get married. I am a citizen but i feel marginalised. I feel and know that new citizens have greater priority than me. I am disheartened and disillusioned. I hate to admit it, but perhaps i can't afford to live her. Is the only way to live in the 21st century in singapore, is to have a 30 year mortgage and be in constant fear about losing my job? what then happens when i lose my job? I lose.... everything?


9:06 pm PDT, Sep 9, Ordinary Middle Class Singaporean, Singapore

I am living with my hubby, both my parents and two young kids in a small 5-rm HDB flat. There are a total 6 persons living in this small unit and we really wish to upgrade. However, our combined salary exceeds $8K and we are not entitled to new HDB flat nor excecutive condo. Both my parents are retired so we have to support 4 family members. Thus, our combined income of $8k plus is not a lot really. We treasure family ties and advocate 3-generation living together. Please consider family like us and be flexible in your income ceiling based on case-by-case situations. Thank you.


7:28 pm PDT, Sep 9, Name not displayed, Singapore

Dear Mr Mah Bow Tan, What is HDB's role in Singapore? If we look at the HDB's website we can find that HDB's role is to provide "Affordable, Quality Homes" It is an organisation run by our Government, to be exact Ministry of National Development. But looking at the recent HDB launches there is not enough supply to meet the Demand. Recently I applied for a 5 room flat at Punggol 21, there are only 154 units offered but 1666 people had applied for it. My Q number is 13XX and I had been trying since last year. For my last application for HDB's resale flat the Q number was an insane 99XX. I will not give up, I will try for the next project at Punggol spectra I told myself. But when I look at the application received for 4 room flat the number of applicants stands at 1712 for 556 units. It shows that there are not enough supply since 2008. We were urged to apply for BTO units, but the fact is that we cannot get a decent Q number to even select a flat. That makes me wonder what can be done about it? I shall not blame on the recent influx of immigrants as reported by many write ups. After all they did their part to contribute to our nation. Now we have a bigger population. Is it time to provide even more Affordable housing? We know that in order to keep our country attractive to investors, We need to keep wages low. And when we keep wages low, we have to make housing prices low. If not public housing will be a huge burden to our citizens. The recent prices already reflect that inbalance. We know that our government cares for us, it is the most basic fundamental of any elected government. I hope that the government will step in to stop the recent bubble. Wealth is pouring in, but how long will this sustain? When the new immigrants go out of job, our citizens in debt. Then we will see a crisis not seen before. I am not speculating, it is a fact that might happen few years down the road. It is like sweeping the dirt under the carpet, when you flip the carpet over the dirt will still be there. What we are doing now is just sweeping more dirt under the carpet. It is not a lasting solution, but a potential snowball effect in the making.


1:25 am PDT, Sep 9, Mingji Lim, Singapore

HDB should be making housing easier to get for Singaporeans, and not acting like a private real estate company by pushing the prices higher and profiteering~


12:32 am PDT, Sep 9, Lim Chee Keong, Singapore

Me and my financee has failed to clinch the new Punggol residence BTO again. This is the 4th time that we have failed at the ballot draw even we are 1st timer. We also cannot afford the 30k COV since we need to reserve the cash for our wedding and any unexpected circumstances. I sincerely urge Mr Mah Bow Tan to build more BTO flats as soon as possible. We are already 30+ yrs old and would like to have a house of our own before we can be ready for baby.


Sep 8, 2009, Paul Ananth Tambyah, Singapore

Everyone is hurt by inflationary property pricing - not just young couples starting out


Sep 8, 2009, Ordinary Sing A Pore An Slave, Singapore

Gahrment very funny... they are looking towards a living standard comparable to HK and Japan butfail to realise we the ordinary "slaves" are only drawing 3rd world salaries (by asking us to take pay cuts and companies to control costs)... how in the world can you maintain living in a 1st class environment on 3rd world salary??


Sep 8, 2009, Anonymous, Singapore

One word....The RICH gets richer and the POOR gets POORER. No wonder so many of us are disillusioned by these men in white.


Sep 8, 2009, Truly Singapore, Singapore

The government controls nearly all available land and therefore controls the price of housing by determining the supply of land to build housing.


Sep 7, 2009, J Sim, Singapore

I feel my dreams crumbling right before my eyes


Sep 7, 2009, J L, Singapore

Valuation is crazy! COV is insane! We are robbed of our every single cent and will retire in poverty. Govt provides no help in controlling the prices. Statistics are selectively presented for false front. Common people with average income cannot afford housing. Divorced families have the hell of a time when they have to separate and buy a house just to live in. Amongst the torture of the divorce case, they have to endure the ridiculous prices and government rules hanging over their heads as they are not so lovely dovey couples buying and waiting for a first-time house while living with their parents. They have incentives to give birth to a litter. For people like us, no grants, no incentives, no house, no life, no nothing!


Sep 6, 2009, Anonymous, Singapore

The policies by MND is meant to CREATE asset inflation. It pushes the overall property prices as HDB new flats, resale flats and private property prices are very closely inter-twined. The policy makers know this and yet continue to push up prices. This will allow the rich, elites and ruling class to get richer as they own private properties as well as multiple properties. It increases their wealth substantially as their property and land banks increase in value with every asset inflation exercise by the government. The HDB heart-landers only get paper gains and spend their whole lives paying for these unaffordable homes. They have to go on reverse mortgage and have nothing to leave behind for their children. So, the cycle repeats with their children and grand children. The people who benefit are the rich, elites and ruling class ... They continue to sell-stock up-sell ... and they accumulate profits from these and more properties to give to their next generations ... This is getting too ridiculous ...


Sep 6, 2009, Ong CY, Singapore

Let all foreigners have this island. I am leaving Singapore within the next 5 years. I grew up a proud citizen and proud of our ministers but now I am totally disappointed. If I stay, I'll go bankrupt or have my flat repossessed. And all my hard-earned savings will forever remain in CPF, and ends up in thin air with our sovereign funds losses. CPF and extremely expensive public housing are tools used by the government to force you to stay in this island and suffocate to death.


Sep 6, 2009, HDB Officer, Singapore

I am a civil servant working in HDB. Like most of my colleagues, I feel that HDB has lost its direction in providing affordable housing to Singapore Citizens. The thick bureaucracy within MND has stifled staff input on the policies that the ministry implements. Why are foreigners eligible for public housing? Why do we have to expend our effort serving foreigners when we can better dedicate ourselves to serving the citizens? We meet the public everyday and we know their plight. But there is not much we can do because you most often are the one directly approving all these policies, and you are simply out of touch with what's happening. Please be less concerned about face-saving and show some genuine care for the citizens.


Sep 5, 2009, Danny Lim, Singapore

This issue will determine the young voters votes in the next election