Shooting the messengers

Posted: November 30, 2009 by fievel in Labels: ,

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: ,

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:

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: ,

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: , ,

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 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: ,

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: ,

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:

...found this track off the 'Demonology' episode of Criminal Minds...

Our PRs are helluva rich bunch

Posted: November 13, 2009 by fievel in Labels: , ,

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 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:

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:

Taxi drivers - crystal balls for your future as a Singaporean?

Posted: November 10, 2009 by fievel in Labels: , ,

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. 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:

Obama's weekly address

Posted: November 3, 2009 by fievel in Labels: , ,

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: ,

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...