Archives - 2004

Insensitive Singaporean on TV
PM Lee first state visit
Singapore's trinity-divinity remains intact.
Time for a reality check
Maids in Asia
The Kra Canal Project
High Tech charges
Rude shock at Johor Baru

You are weak
Re: Casino plan: Surprisin objection
Wear what you want
Re: Digital rage


Insensitive Singaporean on TV
Online letter on soc.culture.singapore
After watching the mandarin news on Channel U with regards to the earthquake in SE Asia, one interviewee has the audacity to say that the airline could not even compensate or allow him discounted rates to a diverted route to Bangkok when he can't proceed to Phuket.
Such insensitivity, a discounted air ticket is much required than lives lost or destroyed. Hmmm
Dec 26, 2004

PM Lee first state visit
Dear Sir,
PM Lee visited Brunei recently. It was for the Royal wedding not a state visit.
However, I am sure keen political watchers will be asking which country would he pay his first state visit and when.
Will that country be in ASEAN, in Asia or in the West?
Would the PM visit China last after the episode over his private visit to Taiwan before he took office?
Will the emphasis for the first state visit be economic or political ties?
PM Lee's political advisers must be working overtime to plan the trip and his entourage.
I do not have the resources to check out which country PM Goh visited when he took over from SM Lee.
As citizens we can only wait but we hope it will be a wise choice by the PM. It will be important to Singapore.
Some punters having nothing better to do could be working on the odds.
I am no political watcher or punter but someone who likes to put my 3-cents worth of thoughts in all kinds of issues. I have the feeling the trip will be soon.
Tan Kok Tim
Sep 19, 2004

Singapore's trinity-divinity remains intact.
Dear Sir,
As a keen observer of the political developments in the ASEAN region I am amused to see that although Singapore had just appointed its new Prime Minister recently, from the trinity and divinity perspectives,it continue to remain intact.
Firstly, there is the father, the son and the holy Goh.
They continue to be in the government probably true to what the new prime minister had claimed; not to create and sustain a political lineage of modern monarchy but in order to harness the energy of the young and to leverage on the wisdom of the ancient; to preserve the achievements of the past and to harness the dynamism and technology of the present.
The island state or probably by now an island kingdom, looks forward to continue retaining its position as the hub or the middle kingdom of the ASEAN region. I sincerely believe that it should be able to do so with the minimum of efforts.
This is subject to the proviso that apart from the above trinity, the divinity of the nation is also retained and continues to be feared and worshiped: the Goddess of mercy Kuan Yin and the God of no mercy Kuan Yew.
As regards Malaysia I am not too sure as to whether it would be able to recreate the records of its past success as Pak Lah is an entirely different personality from Dr Mahathir, the master builder of mega projects, national stature and icons. I am however willing to bet that Pak Lah should be able to contribute his own to Malaysia.
As regards Thailand, Indonesia and the Philippines I dare not speculate as to what would finally happen of them with the elections either still in the process or in the offing. Let us hope the best for them.
Teropong Negara (Malaysia)
Sep 9, 2004

Time for a reality check
I am disturbed by what I read in the July 19 issue of TODAY.
On page 5 is an article with the headline "Lag before upturn" in which Acting Manpower Minister Ng Eng Hen "acknowledged" the "reality" that "the optimism and effects of an economic recovery has yet to filter down to the ordinary Singaporean".
He was speaking at a Sembawang GRC dialogue session when a resident said that people "are not spending as much as before" and that "many Singaporeans are still unemployed".
He said: "Because of the five bad years (between 1997 and 2002), it will take a few more good years to soak up the unemployment."
Then on page 10 was a letter with the headline "A pattern that leads to inevitable hikes...".
The writer wrote: "The same symphonic pattern emerges.
"First, the prelude, with the local media heralding a slew of statistics announcing the arrival of better economic times.
"Then, a premature suggestion to restore the ministers' and top civil servants' pay cuts, which was greeted with unpopular feedback by many who felt that the economic upturn benefits have yet to filter down the masses.
"The main theme comes into play with miscellaneous school fees and town councils' services and conservancy charges going up....
"The crescendo builds up as everybody scrambles to raise charges, taking the cue and green light from the early birds who first up their fees....
"We are led to believe that this is the natural order of things....
"What is worse is every price increase is met with the rhetorical reassurance that nobody would be deprived of basic services despite the hikes and the social net is always there for those who really cannot afford the increment.
"The other tired argument to justify the hikes is that the charges have not been increased for so many years and therefore the increase is way overdue.
"So what is next?"
The letter has elicited no response from any government official. Perhaps it is hard to response to the awkward question posed by this letter writer.
So how can the common man on the street believe that there is empathy among our leaders, who have jumped the gun, so to speak, and have left him behind...again? What of his confidence in being able to share the good times? Can we blame him if he decides to opt out?
Still down
Jul 24, 2004

Maids in Asia
I'm currently filing papers to take my foreign domestic worker with me from Singapore to Hong Kong and I'm struck by the difference in regulations concerning maids.
In Singapore, I'm free to pay my maid as little as I like - about US$175 per month is very common here but many maids (especially non-Filipinos) are paid less and to allow her time off only if I feel like it.
In Hong Kong, I will be obliged to give her every Sunday off and to pay her a minimum monthly wage of US$410.
Singapore's government claims to take the well-being of foreign domestic workers seriously but as long as maids are left at the mercy of their employers in these two basic areas, such statements sould hollow.
Josephine Bersee, Singapore
International Herald Tribune
Jun 29, 2004

The Kra Canal Project
The shortest part of the Isthmus of Kra is less than 50km, as I understand it to be.
With the latest concern over security in the Straits of Malacca with a longer coastline, would it not be easier to secure a mere 50km vis-a-vis thousands of km?
With the concern over the security of oil (apparently 50% of the world's oil supply pass through the Malaccan Straits, would the idea of the Kra Canal first mooted in 1677 be revived and brought to fruition? Regards,
Alex, Malaysia
Jun 22, 2004

High Tech charges
( Re: Trends - 'High tech' laggards)
Some of those "plumbers" are Johoreans who drive into Singapore and worked for local contrators. They carry their tools and parts in the car booth.
Our government should arrest such illegal workers.

Giam Sunny
Jun 21, 2004

Rude shock at Johor Baru
One day in early April, I drove home to Singapore after a shopping trip in Johor. The hospitality of the Johor was spoilt when I was suddenly stopped at random by a Malaysian traffic cop after the immigration checkpoint together with many other Singapore-registered cars.
I was asked to report to the small traffic operations room. I asked the traffic corporal what offence I had committed. He then asked me the registration number of my car.
After he punched in the number into the computer, he told me that I had committed a traffic offence in exceeding the Malaysian highway speed limit somewhere in June 2000.
In the first place why didn’t the Malaysian traffic police give me a summons there and then in 2000? It looks like the Malaysian traffic police are taking Singapore motorists for a ride.
The question I would like to ask is: is it proper for them to stop Singapore motorists at random at the causeway and slapped them with a fine for an offence purportedly committed?
For the information of Singapore motorists, please have with you at least RM150 on your way back to Singapore, otherwise you will be subjected to humiliation.
Cossacks, malaysiakini.com
May 3, 2004

You are weak
(Ref: I just bought a cell-phone)
Once again, another Singaporean gives in to the temptation of material purchases.
I, unlike you, have never had a HP in my life and I intend to keep it that way. And oh, I'm 27 this year, an age where it is supposedly easier and trendy to give in to consumerism.
You can save yourself by giving it up of course. Like you said, you don't need it. Why buy things you don't need?
Sng Chee Khiang
Apr 20, 2004

Re: Casino plan: Surprisin objection
Hi Chiang Nee,
I refer to your article titled "Casino plan: Surprising objection" at
I'm 27, an atheist male Singaporean and a graduate of a university in Australia. I do not consider myself conservative, in fact, my politics are considered "Left of Centre" in the West.
However I'm one who object to the plans to set up a casino in Singapore. I think the cons in this case far outweigh the pros.
No doubt a casino would bring in lots of tourist revenue, and make Singapore a much more "vibrant" place. But is a casino the only means to this end? I don't think so.
On the flip side, the ills legalised gambling are well known. Money laundering and addiction are just the tip of the iceberg.
Having spent time in Australia, I was able to see how addiction gave rise to crime and broken families, with the most high profile case being the deaths of 2 toddlers who died in a car parked under the summer heat while the parents played jackpot machines.
And there are no lack of articles detailing how the Victoria State Government spends a great deal of its revenue running programs to help people shake their addiction to gambling.
As for BG Yeo's plan of keeping out Singaporeans below a certain "economic class" from the casino, the less said about it the better.
While our education ministry is finally waking from its slumber trying to shake a elitist mindset from our kids, the same government is
trying to instill it in another area. One step forward, two steps back.
Mike Yeo

(Seah Chiang Nee says: Nice to hear from you, Mike).

Wear what you want
A lot of this has to do with UPBRINGING, culture etc. The orang asli is happy semi-nude, the Papua New Guinea guys happy with their penis sheath.
Some people feel naked when they wear the swimsuit, some feel over-clothed so they put on the bikini.
Others prefer nudity. Some prefer fully clothed woolen cashmere, mink etc etc.
If you leave out the religious considerations we would all be wearing something light and cool in our weather - take the clue from orang asli.
But if you work in the office you want to wear a tie, and a bush-jacket
methinks you look like a clown, sweating under the Kuala Lumpur sun. Don't be Over-dressed, neither be under-dressed.
Just be APPROPRIATELY adorned.
(If you know what that is;
If not, wear what you wish;
For I am not bothered what you look like
It's what's inside that counts)
By NHGong, SangKanchil
Mar 14, 2004

I read your article 'Schools streaming: Shaping elitist mindset'.
Equally of concern is the grading of teachers in determining their bonus and annual increment. If grading is set by quota between the best and the lowest rung, there will be competition. It can be unproductive and unhealthy competition if taken to extreme to vie for position.
Wage management and morale in education are different from those in the offices of the administative services. It affects students when teachers are unhappy.
If the fixed and variable component in teachers' salaries are taken to the extreme, it could affect the morale of teachers due to back-stabbing and politicking, each teacher wanting to be the best at the expense of others. It can affect the commitment by teachers if there are friction among them. In the long run, the next generation of students will be affected. Hope you have the means to check this out too. regards,


Feb 24, 2004

Re: Digital rage
Chiang Nee:
I've long thought of the Internet and particularly chat and newsgroups, as almost miraculous places of learning what's going on in the rest of the world. More importantly, learning how people "over there" think. Sadly, we have not gotten there yet.
All these wonderful free places where folks (from anywhere) can express themselves have been taken over by poorly brought up juveniles who considerate it fun to abuse others without fear of appropriate physical punishment.
There too, there are the just plain sick adults, who, sadly, cannot see beyond the blinkers of their little worlds, and cannot understand a "different" point of view.
We have little choice but to "bear up" with stiff upper lip. Better times MUST be coming!
I believe we WILL get there. Little by little there will grow international agreements on how to deal with the irrational disruption.
Right now we are thrashing around, figuring how to deal with the murderous "radical Muslims" who are not "real" Muslims at all. Once we come to accept that they must be totally destroyed, the world will improve.
It all reminds me of the old "frontier days" in America's West. If you didn't like someone, you shot them...perhaps you got away with it...Perhaps the vigilantes hung you for it. "Law" was pretty much up to the individual. but little by little, we matured and developed a body of law that allowed us to become a society. We certainly have a long ways to go...but we keep trying.
And so it is on the Internet: Wild and woolly...anything goes. It is, mostly, not yet a place for serious, adult discussion, but I KNOW that someday it will be. I just hope to live that long.
Regards, your friend,
Nat Hooper
Oxford, Arkansas
Jan 8, 2004
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