Saturday, 26 June 2010

MBS to draw 150k daily & the Borned Losers

It was reported that MBS is targetting to draw 125,000 to 150,000 daily visitors to its new casino complex in Singapore.

This would suggest that the the casino operator will be collecting about S$2.5 million ~ S$3.0 million in daily entrance levies for the Government if it succeeds, assuming that only 20% of the daily visitors are citizens or permanent residents.

At present, the MBS is attracting about 75,000 visitors, hence the operator is collecting about S$1.5 million each day for the Govt. assuming 20% of the daily visitors are citizens or permanent residents.

The ongoing Court case between MBS and IPBA is a MOCKERY ... one side demanding $300K outstanding payment for the conference event and the other seeking unspecified damages (probably to be decided by a High Court judge) for aggravation during stay and hosting of conference, if it is to be fought out in Court.

Compare it to what would be the takings each day. It is a big wayang.

At present, say 20% of the 75,000 daily visitors estimated by MBS are citizens and PRs, it means 15,000 x S$100 each or $1.5 million will go into the Govt's pocket each day ... leaving aside MBS's taking.

That's how they "would rather make LOVE, not WAR".

That's why MBS would want to open early anyway and perhaps even turned the IPBA issue into a free publicity ...and made all the well known international Lawyers & Judges looked like stooges now, including the Chair. Are these the Borned Losers?

I am sure the real Borned Losers must be the construction workers who were had to rush and complete the project for the opening. See my earlier post "A Conference Too Soon".

Abtracted From
Jun 23, 2010

MBS to draw 150k daily

SINGAPORE - LAS Vegas Sands , the world's most valuable casino firm, expects between 125,000 to 150,000 daily visitors to its new casino complex in Singapore, CEO Sheldon Adelson said on Wednesday.

Other company officials said the casino itself had received 500,000 visitors this month, after a soft opening on April 27.

Mr Adelson was speaking at a news conference ahead of the formal opening of Singapore's Marina Bay Sands, which has been built at a cost of US$5.5 billion, (S$7.6 million) making it the world's second most expensive gambling complex after MGM Mirage's CityCenter in Las Vegas....

Abtracted From

SINGAPORE - We'd rather make love not war, said the man whose company fired the first salvo against the Inter-Pacific Bar Association (IPBA).

Marina Bay Sands (MBS) had sued IPBA over non-payment of $300,000 for using its convention facilities.

But Mr Sheldon Adelson, chairman of Las Vegas Sands, MBS' parent company, said yesterday he was ready to settle any time. Speaking at his US$5.7-billion ($7.9-billion) integrated resort's grand opening, Mr Adelson said: "Our policy is to make love, and not war.

"We want to resolve the matter amicably if we can. The whole thing will go away if everybody cools off and we'll work out a settlement that both parties can work with."

IPBA launched a countersuit against MBS, claiming unspecified damages for alleged misrepresentation of a "complete disaster" as a world-class venue. It claimed its delegates experienced jammed lifts, power failures, lost luggage, and malfunctioning hotel rooms during the four-day conference last month.

Defending MBS, Mr Adelson said IPBA's "expectations were somewhat high ... we gave virtually everything they wanted".

He told Bloomberg: "People should know that there will be little glitches in an opening of a new property. They couldn't stand even one glitch." ...


Wednesday, 23 June 2010

SMRT is responsible, says Shanmugam

Some letters to our MSM will never get published, such as this one to TODAY, which is one reason why I set up this blog.

Dear Editor

I refer to the above captioned report (Today, June 21).

As the Law Minister had slammed public listed companies over "security", he seemed to have clarified on two important issues :-

(a) Whether a "private sector organisation" like the SMRT is directly responsible for the security of the premises of a gazetted "Protected Place",

(b) Who should be paying for the security costs when the profits of a public listed transporter, such as SMRT, go to the shareholders ?

His answer to (a) is clearly SMRT has direct responsibility. The physical hardware for ensuring security protection, like the CCTVs; and its software for implementation of security measures such as the monitoring of security has to be the responsibility of the "private" company as well.

His answer to (b) above, which seemed to be aimed at appeasing public anger and concern over this security breach, is that costs should not be borne by the ordinary Singaporeans, but by the "public listed company" and its shareholders.

While the physical hardware and software for implementing security could be traced to that of SMRT, a basic question remains unanswerd, i.e., - Who should ensure the basic safety provided for the general public is adequate and what if there is a lapse of security provisions for a gazetted "Protected Place" by a "private" company? I am sure the current laws do not spelled these out clearly. However, the duty of care would certainly falls on the Government and the relevant Ministries.

This "safety and duty of care demanded" is not confined to the physical protection of the "Protected Place" itself as currently laid now in the Acts , but extended beyond to cover the general aspect of public safety which I am sure is still lacking in the Acts.
Why has the relevant Authorities not realised and communicated this vulnerability to the Government despite the setting up of a high level security "umbrella" with the appointment of high level Ministers at SM and DPM level to focus on coordinating and implementing national security measures since the 911 and Mas Selamat Escape events?

There seems to be a total lack of postive attention and actions at the top level. What we had heard is warning sounded for the public to be wary, but this act of public education alone does not solve problems of the nature well illustrated by this incident, if it had been a terrorist act. 

This responsibility expected is not that from the top management of the SMRT or its shareholders alone, which perhaps ultimately falls on financing. Does our Government and / or the relevant Authorities claimed it could "washed" its hand off in this matter with the Law Minsiter's slamming clarifications?

In fact, I note that the police patrols at MRT stations seemed to have slowed downed sometime before this incident. Quite obviously in the case of a MRT station, the issue of public alertness seems to be paramount since the SMRT had decently added on many security cameras during its recent upgrading. But in the case of the depots, they are totally out-of-bound to the public, except only authorised staff and contractors, and yet they posed the greatest risks to the public. 

Shouldn't there be a counter-check in security implementation if the Acts are insufficient to cover?

Abstracted From
by S Ramesh

SINGAPORE - The recent vandalism incident at SMRT's Changi depot has sparked debate over who should be responsible for security on premises like train depots.

Is it the Government's job, or should the responsibility fall on SMRT?

To Law Minister K Shanmugam, the answer was clear - the rail operator's security is its own responsibility and the cost of beefing up its defences should not be borne by ordinary Singaporeans.
Speaking to reporters at a community event yesterday, Mr Shanmugam, who is also Second Minister for Home Affairs, said it is impossible and unacceptable to require taxpayers to pay for the security of thousands of profit-making entitles in Singapore...


China's 'post '80s' workers stand up for their rights

This report taken from TODAY ( Jun 23, 2010 ) illustrates the evolving trend of the present economies, no matter what political system the country belongs to.

Even in Communist China, the more educated 'post 80s' labour force is posing a new challenge to both the top management of the FIRM and COUNTRY...and the economy as a whole.

It suggests an evolving CHANGE, a drift away from the "capitalistic" approach in managing human resources.

This CHANGE is also in contrast to democratic Singapore.

TODAY ( Jun 23, 2010 )
by AP

BEIJING - Younger workers now make up the majority of China's migrant labour force - and they are quicker to speak up than older workers when they feel their rights are being violated. This is according to a report by the country's official trade union, the All-China Federation of Trade Unions.

The report comes in the wake of recent high-profile strikes at plants run by foreign car makers including Toyota, and Honda. Although it did not mention the unrest, it did refer to worries about social instability.

The report said a study conducted in 10 cities from March to May showed young migrant workers between the ages of 16 and 30 now number about 100 million, making up nearly two-thirds of China's estimated 150 million migrant labourers, and nearly half of the country's 230 million workers overall.

The average younger migrant worker was aged 23, had finished middle school education, and 80 per cent were unmarried, it said.

It characterised the younger generation - known as the "post-'80s generation'' - as more willing to file complaints when their rights are violated and less fearful of retaliation compared to the older generation of workers.

Younger migrant workers are also "more aware of equality and rights", and have higher expectations of getting equal jobs, labour and social welfare, education, and other basic public services.

And it added that these workers show "a higher willingness" to defend their rights. According to the surveys taken by the national union, only 6.5 per cent of the younger workers said a fear of retaliation would prevent them from filing complaints compared to 13 per cent for their older counterparts.

Tactics and strategies for making complaints were also more sophisticated, the report said. Nearly half the younger migrant workers file joint complaints, while only 28 per cent of their older counterparts said they would.

The report added that the younger generation, who were more likely to have been raised in an urban setting, were less willing to endure hardship than traditional migrant workers.

And resolving the problems facing the new generation of migrant workers was important to avoid social unrest.

The report was posted on the federation's website on Monday and reported in the Chinese media yesterday.

Monday, 14 June 2010

Leviathan At Work at SMRT

After the seemingly "face-losing" act of not preventing and discovering the security breach by a Graffiti painter at its "restricted" Changi Depot premises, the SMRT seems to be trying to recover ground by projecting an "on-the-ball" image, through catching a granny feeding milk to a baby on a moving SMRT train to enforce the "no drinking and eating" rule.

Once again this exhibits the silly Leviathan mindset typical of Singaporean Authorities.

ST Forum
Jun 14, 2010
Letter By Michelle Joan Fernandez (Mrs) 

LAST Friday, at about 3pm, my mother, my aunt and my six-month-old child were travelling on the North-East Line from Outram to Serangoon.

My mother was feeding my baby milk from a feeding bottle during the journey when a staff member approached her and stopped her from doing so. He told her that the "no drinking and eating" rule applied to everyone, including babies.

When my mother explained to him that my baby was crying and needed to be fed, he told her that if she continued to feed the child, she would have to get off the train and seek permission from the station master. My mother was then forced to stop feeding my crying child.

Is the train operator so unreasonable as to forbid a baby from drinking milk? Would it also forbid a mother from breastfeeding her child?

I am shocked that this can happen in a society that is encouraging people to have more babies.

Michelle Joan Fernandez (Mrs)

SMRT Security - Whose Job and Who to Bear Costs?

Based on the following report in ST Online, the SMRT will be engaging a professional security consultant to carry out a thorough audit of its systems. MRT depots - including the ones operated by SMRT in Changi,Ulu Pandan, and Bishan and SBS Transit's facility in Sengkang - will be looked at first.

The actual works now fall on the shoulder of the security consultant who will be appointed. I do not know, at whose costs? Will it result in higher fares for the commuters in the next fare review by the PTC?

Why had  the SMRT not taken such initiative more proactively and earlier? I agree with Blogger Mr. Tan Kin Lian that SMRT's management was too focussed on making profits, i.e. perhaps aiming for super-normal profit, rather than just looking at normal profit which is more cost-centred, and not totally profit-eccentric in its management strategy. Such a managment strategy tends to look at cutting costs which could explained the neglect of depot's physical security by SMRT, despite earlier waking calls that our MRT stations are targetted by terrorists. This could be probably be due to the alignment and setting of personal KPIs for the top executives who command million-dollar salaries, just like Ministers.

Despite the appointment of high level Ministers at SM and DPM level to focus on coordinating national security, there seems to be a lack of postive attention and actions at the top level.. What we had heard is warning sounded for the public to be wary, but the attention alone does not solved problems of the nature well illustrated by this incident.

Such high level complacency displayed by the incident is quite typical of our Government bureaucracy and related Authorities which surprising are rated the world's "best bureaucracy" by the  HK-based PERC in a recent survey. I always advise readers to appreciate such survey results in greater depth, due to the objectives of persons in publishing such results and data, and the inherent limitations with the data collection methods and techniques used in posing the survey questionaire.

The public (actually a student) perhaps should be commended this time for discovering the security breach and is no more in complacency. However, the feedback was surprisingly first to YouTube and not to our "complacent" Authorities. What does this illustrates?

Strats Times Online Jun 12, 2010
MRT depots first to be looked at; SMRT to get thorough audit of systems
By Melissa Kok

IN THE wake of the break-in at SMRT's Changi train depot, a comprehensive security review of the entire public transport network will be conducted over the next six months.

MRT depots - including the ones operated by SMRT in Changi, Ulu Pandan, and Bishan and SBS Transit's facility in Sengkang - will be looked at first.

This was announced by the Public Transport Security Committee (PTSC) last night. Alongside this review, SMRT will be engaging a professional security consultant to carry out a thorough audit of its systems.

In a statement last night, PTSC chairman Lim Bok Ngam said the council 'takes a very serious view of the security of our public transport system and will improve and enhance security in a risk-based and practical manner'.

Mr Lim added that public transport operators have already taken immediate steps to enhance security at their train depots.

The PTSC has begun a joint security review of the Changi depot with SMRT and several measures have already been implemented.

Saturday, 12 June 2010

The curious case of the diners and the casino - Another letter writter's views.

This is the view of another letter writer to TODAY.

TODAY Online Only; Jun 10, 2010
Letter from Dudley Au

When diners had no intention to gamble

I refer to "The curious case of the diners and the casino" (June 10) which comprised three letters, and in particular to the one from Mr Tan Sin Liang, a compliance lawyer who wrote under the heading "Law should be clarified".

In it, Mr Tan said, based on the law, both the casino and the diners have technically breached Section 116 (5) of the Casino Act and the Schedule of The Casino Control (Entry Levy) Regulations 2010.

In theory, he said, the casino staff were right in asking the diners to pay the levy and, in continuity, from the action, infuriate the diners since the breakdown of the lifts. The alternate exit was impossible to access because of the lifts breakdown and the casino (another exit) had to be used through no fault of theirs.

The patrons of the restaurant were forced by circumstances beyond their control to use the casino exit. This in turn created the issue of the law not being specific in its provision of exceptions to its rule. Marina Bay Sands' administration should have used their common sense and not create this ridiculous issue which should never have occurred.

This is a reflection of the enigma of the fundamental law (Constitution) of the United States and the judges who enforce the law. Dworkin, Professor of Jurisprudence, Oxford and former Professor of Law at Yale, described this about the institution of judicial review of legislation as an institution as both the pride and the enigma of American jurisprudence.

He said, the puzzle lies in that everyone agrees that the Constitution forbids certain forms of legislation but neither the Supreme Court justices nor constitutional law experts, nor ordinary citizens can agree on what it does forbid because of the abstract language and absence of specific framing. Dworkin believed the dilemma could be bypassed by an apolitical programme for deciding constitutional cases.

Two ideas, he said, were prominent. One is the idea of constitutional intention, called the original intention of the "Framers" of the Constitution. The second relies not on the idea of an original intention but on a sharp distinction between matters of substance and matters of process. It involves not the reviewing of the fairness or justice of substantive decisions in the law but only of protecting the fairness of the process through which these statutes were made.

In any case, Dworkin asserts, judicial review only polices democracy, it does not seek to override political process as judicial review of substance does.

In the case of the predicament of the diners who had no choice but to leave the restaurant through the casino what was the intention of the framers of the law on the levy? If it was to gamble, there would be no justice in someone forced to leave through the gambling area (casino) through no fault of his.

It was the owner of the building's fault that the other avenue of exit was blocked (lifts not functioning). Judicial review of the circumstances in protecting the fairness or equity of the of the process should see the "intrusion"' of the diners into the casino was not of choice but of necessity.

Mr Denis Distant in his letter "Diners hard done by" asked if a fire broke out in the restaurant will the patrons have to pay the levy to escape via the casino? This shows the incongruity of the administration in enforcing the statute on the levy. It appears the hotel administration has no dialectic in enforcing the law. To the administration - if the law says this but circumstances say that it is the law that prevails.

May I ask the administration if someone faints or collapses on the grass in a park, where the law says do not walk on the grass under penalty of a fine, do you leave that person lying there because it is unlawful to walk on the grass? If a non- swimmer falls into a reservoir where there is a sign saying no swimming under penalty of being charged in court, do you leave that person to drown because the law prohibits swimming?

As Justice Holmes, speaking on the right to the freedom of speech, said, the most stringent protection of free speech would not protect a man in falsely shouting fire in a theatre and causing a panic, in Schenck v. United states.

The most stringent law on a levy for gambling cannot be used to take money from the diners who did not gamble, had no intention to gamble and who were forced by circumstances beyond their control to leave by the casino entrance.

Reductio ad absurdum.

The curious case of the diners and the casino - Views of writer to TODAY

This is another view of a letter writer to TODAY.

TODAY Jun 10, 2010
Letter from Darius Lee

The spirit of the law

I REFER to the report "Group walked through casino without paying" (June 8). It is unhelpful to frame every single issue as a legal one, with loose talk of sanctions and penalties. The issue is first and foremost an administrative one, and only secondly, a legal one.

The problem in this case is primarily an administrative one. The lifts were not operational, and the only way out is through the casino. The problem seems to have been with the maintenance of the lifts, and the failure of the architects of the building to create an alternate exit out of the restaurant that does not pass through the casino.

The 15 diners were in a bona fide difficult situation. Surely $1,500 is an obscene and extravagant amount to be paying for lunch! In fact, they may have a legal cause of action in the tort of false imprisonment.

A reasonable solution would have been for the staff to escort the group through the casino as they made their exit; this would not fall afoul of the purpose of the statute when imposing the levy.

While the report was technically correct pertaining to the technical breach of the law, rather than simply highlighting the numerous operational difficulties that the integrated resorts are facing, it would be more constructive to at the same time highlight the economic and other benefits that the opening of the IRs have provided.

The curious case of the diners and the casino - A Lawyer's View

This is a lawyer's view re-posted from TODAY.

TODAY  Jun 10, 2010
Letter from Tan Sin Liang

I AM a compliance lawyer who recently acted for one of the casinos. This incident has raised an interesting issue: Is a lift breakdown a legal excuse not to pay the mandatory levy to enter the casino? Does the law provide exceptions to such incidents?

The people who are exempt from paying the $100 levy are specified in Section116 (5) of the Casino Act and the Schedule of The Casino Control (Entry Levy) Regulations 2010. In theory, the casino staff were right in asking the diners to pay the levy as matter of compliance with the law - but this rightly would infuriate the diners, since the breakdown was no fault of theirs.

There's no "exceptional circumstances" provided in both the Casino Act nor the Casino Regulations that excuses the diners, no matter the circumstances, from paying the levy in entering the casino.

Based on the law, in my opinion, both the casino and the diners have technically breached Section116. The casino was wrong in not collecting the levy. The diners were wrong in not paying (if they were Singapore residents).

A common-sense approach should be adopted by the authorities in deciding whether to prosecute such a technical violation.

A better solution is to amend and clarify the law so innocent visitors are not unnecessarily exposed to any form of legal sanctions.

Bubble Theory - Not for Stocks & Properties

Abstracted From
Straits Times Online
Jun 10, 2010

Bubble theory
PARIS - BUBBLE don't just disappear when they pop but deflate in a rapid cascade of ever-smaller 'daughter' bubbles, scientists reported on Wednesday.

The physics behind this bursting effect seems to hold true whether the liquid is as thin as water or as thick as heavy oil, suggesting that the researchers have found a universal theory of how bubbles behave when they break.

A host of practical applications could follow in areas ranging from health care to climate to glass manufacturing, according to the study published in the British journal Nature. It may also prove valuable for controlling industrial processes in which bubble formation can be detrimental....

The Great Sinkhole Mystery

It makes me think if our SWF's investment losses can also be like this?

Abstracted and Re-posted From
ST Online Jun 11, 2010

GUATEMALA CITY - A MASSIVE sinkhole that gulped down a clothing factory and an entire intersection in Guatemala's capital is mystifying geologists who have yet to figure out what caused it.

'It's the million-dollar question,' said David Monterroso, a geophysical engineer with the National Disaster Management Agency. Nearly 30m deep and 20m wide, the hole formed during a deadly tropical storm in late May.....

Wednesday, 9 June 2010

SECURITY of key installations - WHOSE job is it?

The case of the MRT Graffiti incident raised a serious issue on the lack of security on key installations in Singapore. I recall that I belonged to one such reservist military unit tasked to protect one sensitive "civilian" installation, often with make-believe training at one of the Marsiling hills (which is now flattened) as simulation of the installation.

Despite attention raised about MRT stations being possible targets for terrorists, the daily announcements on the crowded trains is just "lip-service".

The reply from the CEO of the SMRT, short of an apology from SMRT, paints a bad picture of "Board and committee culture" towards the task of ensuring "security" here for such installations in Singapore,  a picture worse than that signified by the graffiti itself. It pushed the responsibility for feedback on "security" back to the general public, when the incident took place at a highly "rectricted and protected" depot, fully under the control of the SMRT. 

She said "This incident also reaffirms the importance of the public's participation and support in reporting any suspicious sightings in our system, to assist us to handle them expeditiously.”It is indeed ironical that the incident had happened in a "restricted and protected" area but was discovered by a member of the public who is a student and much later. [Note "We have 82 MRT and LRT stations across Singapore, serving 1.5 million passengers daily and five train depots covering more than 82 hectares (equivalent of 106 football fields). With such an expansive system, it is necessary to involve the public through our engagement programmes to assist us in boosting vigilance by reporting suspicious persons or articles."]

The message added "Furthermore, any intruders who attempt to sabotage the trains run the risk of being electrocuted, as the power rails that run along the tracks in our depots are 'live' throughout the day...what about the night when all the trains and rails are totally off service?

Perhaps, a new head with relevant military training should be talent-hunted for the SMRT. As the incident illustrates, it is not enough to manage the SMRT as a commercial entity just by improving the shopping experience at its various existing stations. In particular, the depots were left vulnerable and "unprotected" whether by cameras or guards.

And what about the armed security patrols in grey berets which seemed to take place just to reassure public presence? In fact, I do not seem to notice them patroling that often on the trains these days. 

What if a bomb was planted during that night for the morning crowd the next morning? This scary question was raised by many commuters in their hearts that day. While the public maybe expected to feedback on suspicious looking items left here and there on the trains or stations, the depots are certainly out of reach to the ordinary commuters.

Whose job is it to protect the depots? Whose responsibility is it to ensure that the depots are protected as a "restricted and protected" installation in normal days? Look for the number of surveillance cameras installed and/or added at the exits to the MRT stations, you would be shocked to see so many of them. But then, why not at the depots?

Is it a job for the super-salaried Senior Minister and Co-ordinating Minister for National Security appointed just to care about security coordination or the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Home Affairs taking care of the HOMETEAM or is it the direct responsibility of the SMRT CEO who is equally well-spurred in terms of salary motivation ?

No budget for SMRT? - look at the profits declared, not forgetting the numbers of surveillance cameras installed at upgraded stations like Boon MRT, and others.
Or is it an issue with "whom to spend the money and how to recover costs" ... and if more security monitoring devices are required to be installed ... SMRT must recovered their costs from the commuters ?

Just like Mas Selamat's "Great Escape", this great "security" intrusion with "graffiti art" is not just another case of "complacency" anymore !  If the public had been complacent, the graffiti and the security breach would not have been discovred. Whom and how to fix the "spurs"?

Stop wrestling with the "Leviathan" mindset,  just do the basics which is practical !
TODAY 7 June, 2010
FIDS beats a hundred pairs of eyes
Letter from Paul Antony Fernandez 05:55 AM Jun 07, 2010
 SECURITY of key installations is vital and MRT depots are perfect targets for terrorists.

In the wake of the recent intrusion in which graffiti was sprayed on a train, I wonder - as a security professional - why a Fence Intrusion Detection System (FIDS) was not installed, especially when the depot covers a very large area.

SMRT said more security personnel will be deployed.

I am of the humble opinion that a hundred pairs of eyes may not detect an intrusion but a FIDS will be able to, as it activates upon detection of any kind of motion, day or night.

Tuesday, 8 June 2010

Supporting SAVING GAIA Everyday - World Environment Day June 5

"If we save our planet, we save ourselves."
~~~ Saving Gaia campaign on ~~~
~~~~~World Environment Day, June 5 ~~~~~

Leviathan at Work at MBS Casino

The article abstracted below from TODAY (June 8, 2010) illustrates how our LEVIATHAN state is affecting visitors to the MBS's resort for purpose other than gambling.

Although I do not support the habit of gambling at casinos, I also could not support this LEVIATHAN mindset at work.

The following comment, by a certain Daniel in YAHOO NEWS, is simply apt.

Daniel on June 8, 2010 at 2:47 am

Well, maybe MBS should start a fire and have all the fire exits behind the casino area [sealed] ! They’ll make a fortune! $100 per person.

Seriously, this is damn ISO thinking, totally rigid, totally follow procedure with no flexibility. Is it any surprise that we end up having a reputation for lack of creativity or thinking? If the government does charge either party, I’m definately going to write a complaint letter, probably titled “Overly rigid, lack of intelligence”, it’s not as if the patrons were there for the casino, you want them to wait until the lifts were fixed? How many hours will that take?

We know in Land Law, if a property is surrounded all around by other pieces of land, this land owner enjoys an "easement" over the surrounding pieces of land, and enjoys a free passage through them. This situation is pretty similar, and what right is there to deprive one of such natural justice even if there is the Casino Control Act?

However, the main issue is about the flexibility in exercising a waiver during an emergency and how people are empowered to act without the creation of more rules to support a Leviathan state, especially when the objective is to collect a hefty "LEVY".

Can the common people including the casino staff exercise a discretion under such extraordinary circumstances and during an emergency, without refering to an Authority, just like this incident warrants and illustrates?
Abstracted from TODAY June 8, 2010.

Incident raises question: Should law on levy be tweaked?

Teo Xuanwei

SINGAPORE — The letter of the law is clear: No local residents — save for casino employees and authorities carrying out their duties — are exempt from paying the levy to enter the casinos.

Even Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong paid $100 when he and some grassroots leaders visited Resorts World Sentosa “to take a look” a few weeks after it opened.

"No choice, all Singaporeans must buy!" he had recounted in a speech last month.

Yet, there remains a question mark — one month after it happened — about the 15 diners who waltzed through Marina Bay Sands' (MBS) casino without paying the levy.

Under the Casino Control Act, such an action carries a fine of up to $1,000, plus the levy amount.

MBS, by failing to collect the levies, would have also flouted Section 116 of the Act — which makes it liable to disciplinary action, such as cancellation or suspension of its casino license, a letter of censure or being fined not more than $1 million ....................................................................

The diners had patronised one of MBS’restaurants, Imperial Treasure, on May 4. They were on level 2 of the restaurant, but when it was time to leave, they discovered that the two lifts — their only exits on that level — were out of order.

The only other exit was through the casino, but MBS staff told them they would then have to pay the levy.

The diners refused and after a 30-minute impasse — part of which one of them recorded and uploaded on YouTube — they decided to walk through the casino without paying.

Saturday, 5 June 2010

Election Watch

"Singapore's Elections Department is in the process of updating its system records of all premises that will be used as polling stations or counting centres for the next General Election and Presidential Election.

It has sent letters to schools to help update its records. A copy of the letter - dated yesterday - was obtained by MediaCorp. In the letter, the Elections Department wants the school to indicate the exact location of premises such as the canteen or hall, in an attached map. It also requested that the information be sent by June 8."

Abstracted from TODAY, June 5; 2010

Friday, 4 June 2010

Perc Survey Results - Singapore Is Best "Bureaucracy"

"Regional financial centres Singapore and Hong Kong have the most efficient bureaucracies in Asia, according to a survey of expatriate business executives by the Hong Kong-based Political and Economic Risk Consultancy (Perc).

The survey, released yesterday, cited India, Indonesia and the Philippines for having the most inefficient bureaucracies in the region.

It was the fourth time that Singapore topped the poll.

Singapore was also No 1 and Hong Kong was in third place globally, behind New Zealand, in a separate survey by the World Bank on the ease of doing business, which covered 183 economies."

In a separate survey on 125 countries by the World Economic Forum (WEF, a Geneva-based independent organisation ) released in Hanoi (TODAY Friday, June 04, 2010), Singapore is ranked No. 1 as the best place in the world to carry out business, based on the performance in four main areas: Market access, border administration, transport and communications infrastructure and general business environment.

Singapore is ranked No.1 in this PERC survey, but what does this ranking signifies and what is it suggesting?

A BUREAUCRACY is defined by the Cambridge Advanced Learner's Dictionarys as "a system for controlling or managing a country, company or organization that is operated by a large number of officials who are employed to follow rules carefully".

Red tape is known to occur only within a bureaucracy.

When we are described as a efficient "bureaucracy", is it necessarily a "compliment"?

  • Are we too good as a BUREAUCRACY with redundant rules and regulations ?

  • Are we then creating WASTE ?

  • Is this the "missing link" to explain our dropping PRODUCTIVITY ?
In a world of uncertainty and change, current achievements are no guarantee for future survival. Even if the initial chosen set of principles, policies and practices are good, static efficiency and governance would eventually lead to stagnation and decay. We need DYNAMIC GOVERNANCE.

But can government institutions be dynamic?

The typical government institution is not usually regarded as a dynamic, entrepreneurial organization, but a slow, stodgy bureaucracy that consistently and, sometimes, mindlessly enforces outdated rules and sticks to procedures without any care or concern for individuals or businesses.

Can institutions ever be dynamic?

Dynamism is characterized by new ideas, fresh perceptions, continual upgrading, quick actions, flexible adaptations and creative innovations. Dynamism implies continuous learning, fast and effective execution, and unending change.

And we require less and less rules and regulations. Rules and regulations should protect the individuals from the institutions and corporations, and not too much vice versa.

As critics also pointed out, "Singapore has the most pro-business policies in the whole world but the least protection for workers rights". While the neighbouring countries such as Malaysia, Philippines, Thailand, Sri Lanka and India might be ranked badly in these surveys, all are known to have have mandatory severance pay or retrenchment benefits, but in Singapore such compensation is not mandatory despite a highly acclaimed National Trade Union Congress which is headed by a Minister in the Prime Minister's Office.

As an example, in order to improve the investment climate for foreign corporations, Parliament barred unions from negotiating promotion, transfers, firings, and working conditions after 1968.
Reference #1
India, Indonesia worst for red tape in Asia
TODAY Jun 03, 2010
Perc Survey Results
Countries were ranked on a scale from one to 10, with 10 as the worst possible score.
1. Singapore 2.53
2. Hong Kong 3.49
3. Thailand 5.53
4. South Korea 6.13
5. Japan 6.57
6. Taiwan 6.60
7. Malaysia 6.97
8. China 7.93
9. Vietnam 8.13
10. Philippines 8.37
11. Indonesia 8.59
12. India 9.41
Source: Political and Economic Risk Consultancy
Reference #2
S'pore still the best place for business
TODAY Jun 04, 2010
WEF Survey Results
Enabling Trade Index based on performance in four main areas :-
Market access,
Border administration,
Ttransport and communications infrastructure, and
General business environment.
Singapore 1
Hong Kong 2
Japan 25
South Korea 27
Taiwan, China 28
Source: WEF

Garish Graffiti & Security Breach By A Swiss National - Next Michael Fay?

Will this Swiss national, who is 2 years younger than Micahel Fay now,  face the same fate as 18-year-old  Michael Fay in 1994 ? And he had also committed a serious security breach in a restricted area.

Or is this an advertising stunt from SMRT, following SINGPOST ?

The HR Department of the SMRT does not believe in "human guard" security. They believe in having "cameras" security. Look at the number of cameras SMRT has installed at each exit.

What if the culprit was a terrorist and had planted a time-bomb in that MRT train for the morning "sardined" crowd?

They would think that it was HOMETEAM's job to ensure security. This is a big issue about interfacing responsibilities between our Government departments.

Or is that a job for the super-salaried Senior Minister and Co-ordinating Minister for National Security DPM ?

Straints Time Online Jun 4, 2010
MRT train vandalised
Man arrested; incident raises security concerns at restricted areas
By Teh Joo Lin
A screen grab taken off YouTube showing the graffiti-painted train in service. A commuter had shot video footage of the train pulling out of Kembangan MRT station and posted it on the video-sharing website. The train plied its route for an unknown period of time, in full view of commuters. -- PHOTO: YOUTUBE

AN MRT train parked in a depot was hit with garish graffiti in what amounted to a serious security breach in a restricted area here.

The vandal apparently sneaked into the sprawling depot at Changi, despite an array of barriers, including fences topped with barbed wire.

Once inside, he spray-painted elaborate graffiti on one side of a train, across one carriage. The Straits Times understands that the vandal, a 33-year-old Swiss national, cut through the fence of the depot along Xilin Avenue, in what is believed to be the first such case of vandalism here.

Thursday, 3 June 2010

A conference too soon - A Reader's Response in Chinese

The following is a reader's response (in Chinese) to my letter published in TODAY on the MBS conference woes.

Abstracted From
随笔南洋网 2010-5-22 23:49
By 斜桥的个人空间

小标题是“There's no way MBS would have been ready for bar meet - and the IPBA should've known better”(金沙不可能为律师年会完全准备完毕,而且那些在全世界开业的名律师们(top lawyers practising worldwide)应该知道这一点)。原来,错都错在顾客,你们明明知道会有断电,会有冷气不足(空调故障),会有行李迟送到客房,会有电梯失灵,会有厕所无法冲洗……这些顾客怎么这样傻,奋不顾身地来开会,过后却抱怨连连!

大标题更是妙:A conference too soon!(一个来得太早的会议!)好莱坞有一部二战名片《A Bridge Too Far》,叙述二战后期盟军制定了战史上最大规模的空降行动,计划一举夺得莱茵河上的几座大桥,攻入德国鲁尔工业区,从而结束战争。但因为计划仓促,忽略了重要情报,最终惨败而归。虽然战后始终没有追究惨败的原因,但战役的策划者用“A Bridge Too Far”间接地承认了错误。而今天,“A conference too soon”倒是暗喻律师协会做了错误的决定。难道这个金沙主办的第一个会议是那些在全世界开业的名律师们强烈争取来的?

Wednesday, 2 June 2010

Fresh woes hit both Singapore IRs

"Shouldn't ample time have been given for the premises to be ready for its opening? That would have been fairer to the thousands of construction workers who had to work non-stop to ensure the building was ready for the opening ceremony." ... as I asked in my earlier letter to TODAY!

And now we have more woes. I am glad that both operators are now doing the right things - delaying events rather than compromise the safety or spoiling the mood of the "RESORT" visitors.

In fact, I had advised my fellow colleagues (also from the construction industry) against riding the Battlestar Galactica ride too early after its launching, and this was even before its closing due to a technical gitch.

Reference # 1
Fresh woes hit both Singapore IRs

Yahoo News – June 2nd, 2010

Marina Bay Sands has been hit by fresh delays.
Fresh reports says one of the star attractions of the integrated resort, The Lion King Show, will not make its roaring debut in September because its theatre facilities will not be ready in time.

The Straits Times understands that the award-winning Broadway musical by Disney could debut only next year.

Nearly 200 applicants who were interviewed for stage, lighting and sound positions have now been told their names will be kept on file, but no date has been set.

The delay comes after a wave of negative publicity for MBS.

The IR was set to open last December but had to push back its soft launch to April. Then, last month, at the first major event it hosted, the Pacific Bar Association’s 20th Conference, delegates complained of power failures and lack of air-conditioning in their hotel rooms.

Both sides are now locked in legal battle over payment.

In related news, the centrepiece of Resort World Sentosa’s Universal Studios, the Battlestar Galactica ride, is still closed – more than two months after it was shut down due to a “technical glitch”.

A Universal Studios spokesman declined comment on when the ride will re-open.

However, a report on Genting Singapore issued last week by Bank of America Merrill Lynch said it expects the ride to re-commence only next year.

Reference # 2
A conference too soon
There's no way MBS would have been ready for bar meet - and the IPBA should've known better
My Letter to TODAY; May 22, 2010

IT HAS been reported that Marina Bay Sands had slapped the organisers of the Inter-Pacific Bar Association (IPBA) conference with a writ of summons to claim payment of $300,000 ("MBS serves writ on conference organiser", May 20). Last week, the organisers asked MBS how it would compensate them for the "aggravation and embarrassment" encountered during the four-day event.

This incident highlights the unique way the construction industry operates as compared to other business sectors.

In the construction industry, new buildings are often issued a TOP (Temporary Occupation Permit) after a series of checks by the Building Control Authority, certifying "substantial completion".

The common Standard Forms of Contract adopted locally, including the Public Sector Standard Conditions of Contract for Construction Works, allow for construction defects to be rectified within the Defects Liability Period - usually at least 12 months after substantial completion.

The is an entrenched practice, one which I believe is not alien to the organisers of the IPBA conference, which consists of top lawyers practising worldwide.

There could be no way of ensuring the conference would proceed without fault unless the premises had first been meticulously put through a thorough testing and commissioning regime.

You could compare it to the situation at the Singapore Flyer soon after its launch, when a power failure saw dozens of visitors trapped for hours.

As such, the IPBA was walking in with "eyes wide open" in opting to be the first to host a conference at the integrated resort.

Shouldn't ample time have been given for the premises to be ready for its opening? That would have been fairer to the thousands of construction workers who had to work non-stop to ensure the building was ready for the opening ceremony.

General Elections Getting Nearer


With the appointment of Mr Yam Ah Mee as the new Returning Officer for Elections announced today, the General Elections D-Day draws nearer. (TODAY, Wednesday Jun 02, 2010)

Support The Anti-Gambling Cause

The Singapore Government approved and supported the timely opening of the two IR projects, including their star attractions - the 2 casinos.

The primary "economic" objectives must have been met, with promising data announced so far on the amount of CASINO entry levy collected by the two casino operators for the Government, which amounted to about $70 million as of May 10. This must have been "easy" revenue for the Government.

As I worked in the construction industry, without surprise; I had been approached by HR hunters to work at during the construtcion phase of these 2 iconic construction projects which offered good salaries, though on a contract basis. However, I had all given them a miss in order to see through my previous project (a Polytechnic project); and most importantly, I do not believe in supporting the gambling cause, despite its economic justification by our Government.

Casino gambling is certainly different from making small bets on 4D, TOTO or Sports bets on the World Cup matches, as the attached report from Yahoo News "Teen chalks up S$3.4 million losses" unfolds.

Reference # 1
Yahoo News
Teen chalks up S$3.4 million losses
By Ion Danker – May 29th, 2010

A millionaire’s son in Malaysia who started gambling at the age of 16 accumulated losses of up to S$3.4 million by the time he was 19.

In a news report on the star online, the boy’s father was a compulsive gambler who lost millions in foreign football bets over the internet before his son picked up the habit.

According to Klang Barisan Nasional chairman Datuk Teh Kim Poo, who was unable to coax the teenager to come forward to relate his gambling spree, the teen grew up watching his father gamble and at the age of 16, gambling agents gave him a credit line of S$42,000.

Said Teh, “His father bailed him out each time he went into debt. He would lie to his father that he needed money for his college fees but used it to pay gambling agents.”

The final straw came when the losses hit S$3.4 million. The father, in his 50s, barred him from gambling and stopped his son from attending college. He is said to be working for his father now.

What makes people, especially teens, start gambling? Is it ‘hereditary’?

The incident will certainly raise some concern in Singapore.

With the opening of the two Integrated Resorts, the gambling bug has hit Singaporeans despite the S$100 casino levy imposed.

A Straits Times report on 19 May indicated that the two casino operators, Resorts World Sentosa and Marina Bay Sands, have collected about S$70 million in entry levies as of 10 May since they opened.

What makes people, especially teens, start gambling? Are they lured by the temptation of taking a shortcut to making it big?

Or does nurture play a role? The incident in Malaysia seems to indicate so.

Parents play an important role in their children’s lives and should set a good example for their kids to follow.

A father-son relationship is all about a boy emulating his father. In order for this to be an effective relationship, a father must be a good role model to his son. As the old saying goes, like father, like son.

Reference # 2
Wed, May 19, 2010

CASINO entry levy collected by the two casino operators in Singapore have amounted to about $70 million as of May 10, said Minister for Community Development, Youth and Sports (MCYS) Dr Vivian Balakrishnan.

Nominated MP Mr Terry Lee asked the Minister during a parliament session this week on the breakdown of the total amount of casino levy collected and how this collection will benefit Singaporeans.

In a written response, Dr Balakrishnan answered that all casino entry levies are paid to the Singapore Totalisator Board and are used to fund projects which benefit the community.

He also said that "it would be premature to draw conclusions on casino patronage and its attendant social impact from the entry levy data as it is still early days".

MCYS will continue to ensure that sufficient resources are dedicated to tackle the issue of problem gambling, said the Minister.