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Tuesday, 27 July 2010

A Tale of Two Cities - Engineering Flood Controls

MM Lee attributed the recent floods in Singapore to "an act of God" and said that no amount of engineering can prevent flooding.

The Singapore Authorities claimed that the recent floods were not due to the Marina Barrage.

The Minister of Environment and Water Resources, Dr. Yaacoob Ibrahim, basically stuck to the explanation that the 16 June 2010 Great Orchard Road Flood was caused by 2 bursts of heavy downpour 30 minutes apart - 100mm of rainfall within 2 hours and clogged drains were the causes.


The Minister subsequently announced in Parliament that an inter-agency taskforce would review the design of the Stamford Canal, which runs through Orchard Road. Depending on their findings, the canal might be expanded.

Our box culverts draining into the Stamford Canal are meek when compared to the tributaries feeding the Yangtze River, where the resulting fierce torrents downstream were known to cause killer floods over the Yangtze plains.

Last Sunday, the 185 m high Three Gorges Dam again stood on firm foundation to demonstrate its  "engineering" might  when it tamed water which reached 16.8m from its maximum capacity of 175m. The biggest flood crest on the Yangtze River this year had passed through the Three Gorges Dam, and the middle and lower reaches of the Yangtze were again protected.

I do not agree that "no amount of engineering can prevent flooding", especially in the case of Singapore,  not forgetting that China experiences much more adverse and extreme weather conditions, where the "acts of God" are more unpredictable and much less merciful than in Singapore.

Mao Zedong pledged famously that under communism the Chinese would be able to bend nature to their will - and he, too, had a memorial beside the Yangtze.

China's modern governments, including the current one headed by President Hu Jintao, have been stacked with engineers eager to make Mao's words come true.

Mr Li Peng, who got his start supervising municipal waterworks, put the Three Gorges project into motion when he was premier in the late 1980s. Former president Jiang Zemin, who studied engineering in the Soviet Union, turned the first spadeful of earth in 1993.

Mr Hu, a hydraulic engineer who personally followed the progress of construction, was in charge when the dam was completed 2006.

MM had said in an exclusive interview with National Geographic Magazine that over time Singaporeans have become “less hard-driving and hard-striving.” He also said if native Singaporeans are falling behind because “the spurs are not stuck into the hide,” that is their problem.

Yes, precisely what the MM had said has happened to our Authorities, our political leaders, and himself, even though the "spurs" are stuck into their hide with "high salaries".

While Chairman Mao pledged that the Chinese would be able to bend nature to their will, our MM thinks that no amount of engineering can prevent flooding in Singapore as they are "acts of God". He soon forgotten what he had criticised about Singaporeans.

Lu Xun, one of the great thinkers of the democratic May 4th Movement in the first decades of the 20th century, made a famous attack on the then ruling elite for issuing telegrams that blamed God for the woes befalling China. Lu quipped, "God replied in dismay: 'But I wasn't even there!'”

In a Leviathan state, the answers must always come from a "God". And in a Leviathan, all ruling elites will certainly be left to "blame the God" because the lower rank and file of the Authorities will never want to answer for taking over the responsibilities.


Reference #1
By Channel NewsAsia, Updated: 21/07/2010


SINGAPORE : Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew has said no amount of engineering can prevent flooding.

He was speaking to reporters after touring the waterfront development at the Kallang and Kolam Ayer areas. ...................

Mr Lee was asked if he thought the response from the various agencies to the recent spate of floods in Singapore was sufficient.

He replied: "How can you say that the response is sufficient? At the same time, whatever we do when we get extraordinary rains like we had recently, no amount of engineering can prevent flooding.

"There’s a limited amount of space that’s been dug underground, limited amount of space you can run off for canals and if you have an extraordinary rainfall, well you got to prepare for it."

Singaporeans have reacted strongly to the last three incidents of floods in different parts of the country.

The Minister Mentor acknowledged that Singapore and Singaporeans expect everything to be perfect in the country and he said the leaders tried their best to do just that.

Mr Lee added: "Somethings are beyond (that); it’s an act of God unless you want to lose half the roads and have canals." ....................



  A Man-Made "Boxed" Canal in Singapore

Reference #2
Mypaper
MONDAY JULY 26, 2010
 
BEIJING
WATER levels crept lower from a record high in the reservoir behind the massive Three Gorges Dam yesterday amid fears of record killer floods, but the authorities warned that it was unclear if the drop will continue.

Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao has ordered officials to prepare for more serious floods and disasters while touring central Hubei province, where rising waters have put pressure on the dam. China has long promoted the dam as the best way to end centuries of flooding in the Yangtze basin.

Water levels in the Three Gorges Dam dropped 15cm overnight and were 16.8m from its maximum capacity of 175m, as of yesterday morning. No rain was expected in the region over the next three days. AP


FLOODs along the YANGTZE
Photo taken by Satellite

Water is discharged from the Three Gorges Dam to lower the level in its reservoir in Yichang, Hubei province

Monday, 26 July 2010

I am not going to be cowed: Alan Shadrake (Updated)


"I think the most important thing is for people to have an explanation and better understanding of what the situation is, as well as to know what plans ...  has in place to alleviate the situation," said Mr Lui.

ON FLOODS (ONLY)

~~~ Acting Minister in-charge of MICA (Including MDA) ~~~

Tuesday, 20 July 2010

Tan Kin Lian's Blog: The law and justice

Tan Kin Lian's Blog: The law and justice

A Tale of Two Cities - Celebrating Nelson Mandela International Day

Last Sunday was the first annual Nelson Mandela International Day and was celebrated across the world. Mandela is symbolic with "human rights". For the occasion, ordinary people in South Africa and abroad committed themselves to devoting 67 minutes of their time to community service, to mark the number of years Mr Mandela spent in politics, an initiative backed by global figures like former US president Jimmy Carter and Martti Ahtisaari of Finland.

Mr Alan Shadrake's arrest in Singapore on the same day was most unfortunate.

The Minister in-charge of MICA, who was just caught in a flash flood the day before, was busy instead speaking privately with the Environment Ministry and PUB about conducting on-the-ground dialogues to explain the floods.

Reference #1 :-
Straits Time Online
Jul 19, 2010


JOHANNESBURG - NELSON Mandela turned 92 on Sunday (18 July 2010) with US President Barack Obama and other world leaders hailing the anti-apartheid icon's contribution to global politics and human rights.

'We are grateful to continue to be blessed with his extraordinary vision, leadership, and spirit,' Mr Obama said in Washington as an increasingly frail Mandela celebrated quietly with extended family at his home in Johannesburg. 'We strive to build upon his example of tolerance, compassion and reconciliation,' he said

His birthday was in 2009 recognised by the United Nations as 'Nelson Mandela International Day' and will be celebrated across the world.

Sunday was also the first annual Nelson Mandela International Day, declared by the United Nations.

For the occasion, ordinary people in South Africa and abroad committed themselves to devoting 67 minutes of their time to community service, to mark the number of years Mr Mandela spent in politics, an initiative backed by global figures like former US president Jimmy Carter and Martti Ahtisaari of Finland.....


Reference #2
Straits Time Online
Jul 19, 2010
By Mavis Toh

Singapore - A BRITISH national who was in Singapore to launch his book which discusses the death penalty in this country was arrested on Sunday (18 July 2010) morning.

Mr Alan Shadrake's arrest comes just two days after a police report was lodged by the Media Development Authority.

In response to queries from The Straits Times on Sunday, a police spokesman said that amongst other things, Mr Shadrake is being investigated for alleged offences of criminal defamation.

The veteran freelance journalist has also been served with an order by the Attorney-General to attend court for contempt of court, based on the contents of the book.

The Straits Times understands that the alleged offences are related to the 75-year-old's latest book titled Once A Jolly Hangman: Singapore Justice In The Dock.



Reference #3:-
Abstracted from
Straits Times Online
Jul 19, 2010

PUB asked to explain floods
By Tessa Wong

A DAY after the latest flooding incident, Acting Minister of Information, Communication and the Arts Lui Tuck Yew is asking the Public Utilities Board (PUB) to explain itself to affected residents.

Mr Lui, who is the Member of Parliament for the Tanjong Pagar GRC, said that he would speak privately with the Environment Ministry about conducting on-the-ground dialogues....

'I think the most important thing is for people to have an explanation and better understanding of what the situation is, as well as to know what plans PUB has in place to alleviate the situation,' said Mr Lui.

Monday, 19 July 2010

A Tale of Two Cities - Police Heroic Acts

These two recent incidents must have been the greatest heroic acts by the respective police force of the two cities.

While the woman detective from GuangZhou had obviously rescued a young hostage even though her motive for firing subsequent shots was questionable, what is our very young police officer from Singapore trying to prove and please?

Singapore - Police Force
During Flash Flood on 17 July 2010 Saturday

Abstracted From :
Straits Times Online
Jul 19, 2010
By Mavis Toh

The 57-year-old veteran Lianhe Wanbao photojournalist was snapping shots of the flood in the Bukit Timah area when he was told by a policeman to move away. Minutes later, he was handcuffed.

What happened before the handcuffs were used is a matter of dispute: Mr Goh said he was asked to go only once and was about to leave when the police handcuffed him. The police, however, said that they had repeatedly asked Mr Goh to leave before they resorted to using force.

Speaking to The Straits Times on Sunday, Mr Goh said he was standing on a manhole trying to get a picture of some partially submerged cars when he was told by an officer to leave.

A police statement released on Sunday, however, said that officers had repeatedly asked Mr Goh to move to a safe place as he was taking photographs in a dangerous position. But the man refused to comply and continued walking along the road divider, snapping pictures.

A spokesman said: 'As he was causing obstruction to the police officer in the discharge of his duties and causing danger to himself and others, the officers decided to restrain him and move him to safe grounds, but the man resisted and put up a struggle.' The officers then had to handcuff him.


Left : Lianhe Wanbao photojournalist
Right : SPF Officer


GuangZhou (China) - Police Force
6 July 2010
Dramatic Shooting Incident to Release Girl Hostage

The incident started around 8 p.m. July 6, after a botched robbery by an assailant wielding a pair of scissors.

The drama was broadcast live on Chinese TV in GuangZhou. The dramatic video footage of the hostage situation in China's Guangzhou city  ended when a plain-clothed policewoman shot the assailant dead from close range. The suspect, armed with scissors, kept police away by taking the hostage after having committed a robbery. He can be seen in the video stabbing the hostage with the scissors and forcing her to test the bottles of water he made police repeatedly deliver to him. Watch the tense end to the crisis below.


One Netizen wrote :-

"Am I the only one with any inkling of sympathy for the man? Most criminals aren't the kind of people who do it for a living. They're everyday people that were pushed to commit crime to keep themselves/their families from starving. This man didn't seem like some sort of triad hit man. I mean just look at the weapon he used. A pair of scissors. Not a knife, not a gun, but an office supply.

Even the way he was dressed made me think he could have been someone who had been out of work for months and woke up tired everyday trying to find a job in this country of over 1 billion people. I felt bad for him and he seemed like someone who just desperately needed money maybe to cure an illness that he or someone in his family has or to feed his family for just one more day. He didn't seem like some sort of crazed junkie, he didn't seem like a hardened career criminal. He just seemed like a regular guy that was pushed into dire straights.

Now I'm not saying that I think he did the right thing in that situation, but at the same time he is someone who was normal but had just gone mad with desperation. I'm sure in his mind he felt horrible every time he stabbed the hostage and just wished that the police would let him go.

As for the police woman, she did the right thing I guess, but I feel like she could have used a stun gun or mace to subdue him. Heck I think any one of those other officers had that option available to them but refused to take it. Pretty sad news story this all."

Some are disturbed that the cop shot the hostage-taker four times, killing him, even though he appeared to have been taken out of action by the first shot and was armed only with a pair of scissors.

But others are celebrating her as a hero.

Making a Lucrative Living Out of the Leviathan

Now that lawyer Bachoo Mohan Singh had won his case, I am sure all tax-payers would be as curious as his sister, Mrs Ivy Singh-Lim, to want to know how much State funds had been spent on prosecuting the innocent lawyer.

It was reported that that his sister put up the $1 million needed for his case. Now that he has won, it would mean that the costs would be borne by the State. So how much was incurred which ultimately would be borne by the tax-payers?

Assuming that both party-and-party costs would have to be paid by the State to the winning party's lawyer and costs would also be incurred by the public prosecutor, could it be in the region of $2 million?

Has apathy, which the past Law Society president Mr Michael Hwang identified as "a Singaporean trait not confined to lawyers" (in his speech at the Edu Dine dinner on Aug 14), also hit our independent Judiciary?

Why is the a fair route to ensure finality in the administration of justice so tedious and costly?

I doubt the "finality principle" is being strictly applied to help our system achieve greater justice and fairness or contending parties in Court cases. This is certainly painful for many, such as those cases involving tortious responsibility to compensate accident victims.

As noted in my separate posting [ "Miscarriage of justice should not even happen at all...", Letter to TODAY Online ], perhaps, we had left our judicial system to work too much on a model of counter-checking and following others' precedence under the Common Law system and if not, to leave it for a higher Court by taking the easier route of an "interim" judgment. The converse is to exercise taking greater (and own) responsibility to ensure fairness and finality in the administration of justice, without leaving it to a possibility of unending contentious matter which will prolong the legal process and place substantial burden on those seeking justice financially.

What is our High Court, the Public Prosecutor and those in the legal profession trying to prove with this case - that the legal profession is noble one or a multi-million-dollar legal business exists? And is justice only available to those who can afford it, just like Mrs Ivy Singh-Lim, who probably would have mortgaged or sold her assets to support her brother to fight this case?

But the final outcome of this legal saga is that the tax-payers would have to food the million-dollar legal bill now. The actual gainers are those in the legal profession and the super-salaried public officers. Is this the way to make a lucrative living out of LEVIATHAN @ SG?


Reference :-
Straits Times Online
Jul 16, 2010
Singh-Lim relieved and angry

AFTER her elder brother was acquitted by the Court of Appeal, the biggest reaction came from Mrs Ivy Singh-Lim, who put up the $1 million needed for his case.

After the court was adjourned, she said loudly that she wanted to know how much State funds had been spent on prosecuting Mr Bachoo Mohan Singh.

She then made a number of phone calls announcing the court victory.

Outside the courtroom, a worked up Mrs Singh-Lim, arms pumping and in a raised voice, criticised the media for what she deemed inaccurate reporting. She also made references to unnamed people who had landed her brother in trouble, labelling them 'scum'.

Trailed by reporters as she left, she declared that she was going to kiss the ground, although she did not say why she wanted to do so.

The minute she walked out of the court building with her brother and his lawyer friend Charles Tan, Mrs Singh-Lim made good on her promise by lying prostrate on the ground and kissing the floor as passers-by looked on in bemusement....

...she wanted to know how much State funds had been spent on prosecuting ...

Read also : Cleared of wrongdoing  By Selina Lum & K.C. Vijayan

AFTER five years and spending about $1 million in legal fees, lawyer Bachoo Mohan Singh, who was initially convicted of helping a client make a false claim, walked out of court a free man.

In throwing out the conviction, the Court of Appeal gave a landmark ruling in a split decision.

Mr Singh, 61, made legal history as the first person charged in Singapore with making a false claim, an offence that has been in force for over a century; he is also the first lawyer in Commonwealth countries to be convicted of such an offence.....

Mr Singh's case arose from a 2003 property deal involving a flat buyer and seller who were in a purported cashhback scheme in which an inflated sale price is declared to the HDB.

PUB asked to explain floods

Does it takes for a Minister and his house to be personally affected before a reasonable explanation could be sought from and given by the PUB for the constant flash floods?

Reference:-
Abstracted from
Straits Times Online
Jul 19, 2010

PUB asked to explain floods
By Tessa Wong

A DAY after the latest flooding incident, Acting Minister of Information, Communication and the Arts Lui Tuck Yew is asking the Public Utilities Board (PUB) to explain itself to affected residents.

Mr Lui, who is the Member of Parliament for the Tanjong Pagar GRC, said that he would speak privately with the Environment Ministry about conducting on-the-ground dialogues.

'I think the most important thing is for people to have an explanation and better understanding of what the situation is, as well as to know what plans PUB has in place to alleviate the situation,' said Mr Lui, speaking at the sidelines of a community event on Sunday.....

He said that a few parts of his constituency, such as Cambridge Road and Dorset Road, were affected, 'worse than the two previous occasions in June'. Some who had parked in basement carparks had water up to their car doors. Mr Lui himself had difficulty leaving his Telok Kurau home with his wife on Saturday morning.

'I've got two ways out, one way to the left when we got out of the house, within 30m we could see a car stalled, so we quickly reversed and went the other way. We went along Lorong L, and halfway through we said the water is too high, we reversed and got out as well.'

Leviathan at Work at the Police Force - Saturday's Flash Flood

Last Saturday's flash floods as a result of the heavy morning downpour came as no surprise since a majority of Singaporeans has already considered such occurences as not mere "once-in-50years-events".

What was perhaps more shocking was the behaviour of a policeman as reported by Lianhe Wanbao.

Chinese daily Lianhe Wanbao reports that one of its photographers was arrested and detained by police for one hour for taking photos of Saturday morning’s flood.

Wanbao also included a police statement which said the photographer was detained for safety reasons because the policeman in question thought Mr Wu was in danger and would hurt himself while taking photos. Is this really the case?

In view of the recent frequency of floods which is causing adverse publicity for the Govt, is the policeman preventing the press photographers from doing his job? His action of having to handcuff the photographer and detaining him for questioning was suspicious of his actual intention while the police statement claimed it was for the "safety" of the photographer.

Anyway as the photographer was not an accused "CRIMINAL", was there any need for the policeman on duty to handcuff him for questioning as if he had committed an offence? His aggressive act did not suggest the good intention of ensuring "safety" of the photographer.

This incident clearly illustrates the "Leviathan" mindset of the police officer, which is typical of Singapore Authorities. Even if the police officer had meant good intention, the question remains - was he instructed to prevent the taking of "flood" photographs, first of all, and by whom? Is there any "standing order"?


Reference :-

By yahoosingapore – July 18th, 2010

Even as many Singaporeans and businesses come to grips with the aftermath of Saturday morning’s flash floods, another story is raising eyebrows online.

Chinese daily Lianhe Wanbao reports that one of its photographers was arrested and detained by police for one hour for taking photos of Saturday morning’s flood.

In its Saturday evening edition, the local newspaper put a photo of its photographer, with visible handcuff marks still on his wrist, and that of a policeman side by side on its front page, under a headline that said, “Photographer arrested because of taking photos”.

In a Page 5 report, the newspaper detailed how its photographer, Mr Wu Qing Shun, was detained by police for one hour before being allowed to leave.

His detention at about 7am on Saturday took place after a policeman saw him taking photos of snarling traffic and stranded vehicles along Upper Bukit Timah Road, one of the areas badly hit by Saturday morning’s floods.

After being spotted by an unidentified on-duty policeman who was mobilised to deal with the traffic situation, Mr Wu was asked to leave the scene.

However, he pleaded with the policeman to be allowed to take one more photograph.

Before he could finish talking, the policeman took out his handcuffs and placed them on his right hand. He was also told he would be brought down to a police station.

The photographer then asked, “I am not a criminal. Why are you handcuffing me?”

The policeman then brought him to the roadside and told him to wait for an investigator.

Mr Wu was only released after an hour.

Wanbao also included a police statement which said the photographer was detained for safety reasons because the policeman in question thought Mr Wu was in danger and would hurt himself while taking photos.

It was only after flood waters had subsided did he let the photographer go.

The news has sparked outrage online as many questioned why the police detained the photographer for essentially doing what was his job.......

Friday, 16 July 2010

Are Singaporeans really that "ignorant" but "reliable" as claimed by MM Lee?

MM Lee was reported in TODAY (14 July 2010) to have said the following during a dinner dialogue of the FutureChina Global Forum meeting, organised by Business China.

While fielding questions on a range of issues in English and Mandarin, MM Lee also touched on political succession in China.

"He pointed out that China's next leadership succession is already in place and that the country is not short of outstanding leaders.

But Mr Lee noted that corruption will be China's greatest problem.

Doing business in China requires connections, but Chinese officials understand that Singaporean businessmen are reliable and not corrupt.

He said: "The Taiwanese are ruthless, Hong Kongers are shameless and Singaporeans are ignorant. People who are ignorant are not corrupt and reliable."

Are Singaporeans really that "ignorant" as claimed by MM Lee, just as we note as reported in TODAY that Marina Bay Sands  had filed a fresh suit against Inter-Pacific Bar Association (IPBA) over a spat concerning unpaid fees for a conference held at his Singapore integrated resort and casino.

The IPBA consists of top lawyers practising worldwide. The organising committee for the recent conference comprised of top lawyers locally. Are our top lawyers really that "ignorant" too as suggested by MM Lee that they have to face the MBS top managers who are as "ruthless" as the Taiwanese, described by MM Lee to be such? Marina Bay Sands' head honcho Sheldon Adelson was reported to have said that "he would rather make love than war" with the IPBA?. Where? In our High Court, LOL, since the fresh suit is filed there?

A question remains, in that, is the IPBA "ignorant" to have book the MBS facilities with "eyes wide open" to hold the conference there soon after the opening of the casino? See my posting "A Conference Too Soon" in this BLOG and also my letter to TODAY here. (Link


From this and other recent freak events in Singapore, can we then imply that our Government and corporate leaders are not willing to take responsibility because Singaporeans are "ignorant", but according to MM Lee, we are actually "reliable" ? Or, are our leaders just as "ignorant", while they want to be "reliable"? Can we be "ignorant" and also "reliable" at the same time? Perhaps, we are only "reliable" by being "ignorant" to the elites in the Government and Authorities, and also the "ruthless" and "shameless" in business. If the logic is right and works out, is Singapore then unsustainable and doom hereon, and there would be no more Golden Era as was "forecasted"? Or is it a point then, that we need "elites" to rule? As "doing business in China requires connections" as noted by MM Lee, do we then only have "connections" with the elites who rule these lands, and will our destiny then only rest on them?


Reference #1
TODAY  July 14, 2010
China needs to master English, says MM Lee

Singapore's bilingual experience a useful example
by Claire Huang

SINGAPORE - Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew says China needs to master English to grow economically.

Speaking at the inaugural FutureChina Global Forum Meeting, Mr Lee said mastering bilingualism is difficult but China has to create an English-speaking environment to master the language.

During the forum, Mr Lee also tackled a host of other issues, ranging from United States-China relations to political succession in China and bilingualism.

Organised by Business China, the theme of the forum was "Strategic Insights for riding China's next decade".

Responding to a question, Mr Lee said the role of the US as a world power will change in about two decades' time and it has to come to terms with China becoming a super power.

He said that the US knows that China's gross domestic product will be greater in 20 to 30 years' time.

And while ties between the two superpowers fluctuate, Singapore will not be affected said Mr Lee.

Singapore, Mr Lee said, keeps an equal distance between China and the US.

On the situation in East Asia, Mr Lee said regardless of political and other non-confluence interests, China, South Korea and Japan will not be able to form a centre of power.

He said the sheer proximity of South Korea and Japan to China will mean that the two countries will ride on China's growth.

However, Mr Lee said this does not mean Japan will align itself with China politically. He pointed out that Japan and South Korea will continue to have close ties with the US.

Mr Lee also touched on political succession in China.

He pointed out that China's next leadership succession is already in place and that the country is not short of outstanding leaders.

But Mr Lee noted that corruption will be China's greatest problem.

Doing business in China requires connections, but Chinese officials understand that Singaporean businessmen are reliable and not corrupt.

He said: "The Taiwanese are ruthless, Hong Kongers are shameless and Singaporeans are ignorant. People who are ignorant are not corrupt and reliable."


Reference #2

TODAY July 15, 2010

Legal conference dispute: Marina Bay Sands files fresh suit against IPBA

by Teo Xuanwei

SINGAPORE - He would "rather make love than war" with the Inter-Pacific Bar Association (IPBA) over a spat concerning unpaid fees for a conference held at his Singapore property in May, Marina Bay Sands' head honcho Sheldon Adelson had said last month.

But even before the courts have heard MBS' first suit against the lawyers' group, the integrated resort has filed a fresh suit against IPBA.

Mr S Suressh from Harry Elias Partnership, who is acting for MBS, said his client is seeking $641,236 - the outstanding sum from the $841,246 bill IPBA had incurred when it held its 20th annual conference at MBS days after the resort opened.

The sum includes the $300,000 MBS is seeking from IPBA in the first suit. MBS will deduct $300,000 from its latest claim if it successfully recovers the amount from the first suit.

The second lawsuit, which was filed with the High Court on June 28 but has yet to be served on IPBA. This follows settlement talks both parties had held last Thursday.

Mr Yap Wai Ming, chairman of IPBA's organising committee, declined to reveal the progress of the talks.

He added that a pre-trial conference for the first suit has been fixed for July 30.

The legal wrangle arose after IPBA withdrew two $300,000 cheques to MBS after its conference was marred by numerous complaints from delegates of power failures, unfinished rooms and lost luggage.

In its defence to the first suit, IPBA said it had offered to pay $500,000 for the conference but the IR turned it down. IPBA, which is represented by Drew and Napier, also counterclaimed on June 8 for damages, claiming that MBS had misrepresented a "complete disaster" as a world-class venue.

MBS has six months to serve the writ before the suit lapses. IPBA has to respond within eight days thereafter. In response to MediaCorp's queries, an MBS spokesperson said: "MBS is working with IPBA in order to resolve all matters amicably. It would be inappropriate to comment further at this time."

Thursday, 15 July 2010

English skills give edge

"THE ability to understand the world without translation is a skill Singapore can impart to China", said Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew.

But the MM failed to "forecast" that Singaporeans just could not manage the teaching and learning of the Chinese Language & Culture sufficiently to impart English into China. In Chinese, it is a "spear & shield" argument.

There is no need for the whole of China or a overwhelming majority of China nationals to know English very well in order do business.

The MM said :- "10~20% per cent of Chinese must become proficient in English before an English-speaking environment can develop" - This is right to facilitate the learning of the English and/or any other languages, but there is no need for a huge majority to do so in order to do business by reading reports in English ... perhaps just those in Government or top managers of business organisations would do ... or just employ an assistant who is proficient in English.

Is there a need for 10~20% of China's population (approx 1.3 billion) to know English in order to do business? I doubt.

He is certainly "OLD" in his "LOGIC".

Reference
Abstracted From :-
ST Online
Jul 13, 2010

But creation of an English-speaking environment a challenge
By Rachel Chang

Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew said if the Chinese can master English, it will give them a very powerful weapon for economic growth. --

THE ability to understand the world without translation is a skill Singapore can impart to China, said Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew.

But for China to attain this skill will involve creating an English-speaking environment alongside their Chinese-speaking one - a difficult challenge he does not know how to overcome.

'If the Chinese can master English, it will give them a very powerful weapon for economic growth,' he said.

China is currently at a 'disadvantage' in a world where English is the lingua franca, he said. In finance, for instance, all bank annual reports are in English, regardless of their countries of origin.

Mr Lee was speaking to an audience of 300 at a dialogue during the FutureChina forum yesterday. A participant had asked what China could learn from Singapore and vice versa.

Mr Lee said that 10 to 20 per cent of Chinese must become proficient in English before an English-speaking environment can develop.

Wednesday, 14 July 2010

Revisiting this Topic - Two-party system cannot work in Singapore ?

My letter published in TODAY
Wednesday, November 19, 2008
Democracy a question of maturity?

I REFER to “Adversarial two-party system not for Singapore” (Nov 17).

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong was quoted to have commented on the United States presidential election: “The opposition party campaigns on the message of ‘change’: Change, change, change. Never mind change to what — just change ... The new government comes in on that message and then they start to think change to what.”

I believe political leaders should not assert that an adversarial two-party system will not work for nations big or small.

The very preaching in favour of a one-party system contradicts the basic principles and the real beauty of democracy — that such a decision should be left to a politically-mature electorate to decide.

The same applies to political change.

The more important issue is whether the electorate is politically educated, mature and motivated to decide on whether they would want a two-party system and other political change. If the electorate is not ready to decide on this, it undermines the democratic system the political leader governs.

The electorate should be educated to decide on whether they want a two-party system and other political change, and not to get rid of it for the sake of supporting a modified one-party system, even if the latter is sure to succeed.

In this lies the beauty of the system of democracy. I cannot be sure if our political system and electorate match the maturity of the US adversarial two-party system.

Piety and the taxman

I share the same view as the author of this letter to ST, Ms Jo Lim.

Campaign is one thing, when it comes to implementation, it is another for Singapore Government , especially if it concerns MONEY.

I still could not understand why IRAS only allows one child to claim for parent relief when the official policy is to encourage more babies and now filial piety...double standards when the Govt needs more money.

Don't tell me they are encouraging filial piety so that the Government could escape responsibility for taking care of the olds.

Certainly, the policies are out of alignment.

IT MAKES ME DOUBT THEIR SINCERITY DUE TO SUCH MINDSET AND ACTION.

Abstracted From :-

ST Forum
Jul 10, 2010

'Why encourage all children to contribute towards parent maintenance when only one is entitled to tax relief?'

MS JO LIM: 'Our tax policies do not seem to be in line with the Government's exhortation to practise filial piety. I recently received a letter from the taxman telling me that I cannot claim parent relief. My brother and I contribute to support our parents, who are retired. Their medical expenses are high. We are claiming only $3,000 in tax relief, while the amount we contribute to our parents is $12,000 each annually. Yet the taxman tells us that only one of us is entitled to claim parent relief. Why does the Government encourage all children to contribute towards parent maintenance when only one sibling is entitled to tax relief? Shouldn't some adjustment be made to this policy?'

Thursday, 8 July 2010

A Tale of Two Cities - A Cure For Corruption

This is A Tale of Two Cities in the fight against corruption.

Abstracted
From CNN News
Ex-Chinese official executed for corruption
By the CNN Wire Staff

July 8, 2010 -- Updated 0032 GMT (0832 HKT)

A petitioner outside the Chongqing, China, court in April shows photos of crimes allegedly committed by Wen Qiang.

Beijing, China (CNN) -- The highest-ranking official accused of collusion with gangs that terrorized the central city of Chongqing has been executed, China's official Xinhua news agency reported.

Wen Qiang, 55, former director of the Chongqing Justice Bureau, had been convicted of corruption charges involving organized crime, Xinhua said. He was sentenced to death by a lower court April 14 for accepting bribes, shielding criminal gangs, rape and failing to account for his cash and assets, the news agency said.

Wen lost an appeal May 21. He was executed in Chongqing on Wednesday.

The Chongqing No. 5 Intermediate People's Court ruled that Wen took bribes totaling more than 12 million yuan (more than $1.7 million U.S.) personally or through his wife from 1996 to 2009. In return, Wen offered posts for officials and helped companies and businesses obtain illegal profits, Xinhua said.

Wen also was convicted of shielding five major organized crime gangs in Chongqing after accepting bribes worth 756,500 yuan (more than $110,000 U.S.).

In addition, the court ruled that Wen raped a university student after getting her drunk in August 2007, Xinhua said.

Wen failed to account for the sources of more than 10 million yuan (nearly $1.48 million U.S.) in personal assets, Xinhua reported, and all of his personal property was seized ....................................................


To fight against corruption, is the following the solution?

It is reported that Raila Odinga, Kenya's prime minister, rejected the pay increase he was awarded by the country's parliament.

Abstracted
From The Economist
Politicians' salaries


How much a country's leader is paid compared to GDP per person

Jul 5th 2010

ON MONDAY July 5th Raila Odinga, Kenya's prime minister, rejected the pay increase he was awarded by the country's parliament last week. MPs had granted Mr Odinga a rise to nearly $430,000 a year, while giving themselves a 25% increase to $161,000. This boost would place Mr Odinga among the highest-paid political leaders in the world. More worryingly, his salary would be some 240 times greater than the country's GDP per person (measured on a purchasing-power parity basis). Lee Hsien Loong, the prime minister of Singapore, tops our list of selected leaders' salaries. He is paid more than 40 times the city-state’s GDP per person. At the other end of the scale, Manmohan Singh, the prime minister of India, reaffirms his reputation for saintliness by taking a modest sum from Indian taxpayers.

Correction: We originally understated the salary of the prime minister of Canada. This was revised on July 6th 2010.




Singapore's Minister Mentor said the following to defend the high salaries of Ministers :-

Abstracted From
Channelnewasia.com News
S'pore cannot afford "revolving door" style of govt: MM Lee
The Minister Mentor warned that the Singapore economy would be in jeopardy if it does not pay top dollar for top people.


By Asha Popatlal, Channel NewsAsia
Posted: 04 April 2007 1918 hrs

SYDNEY: Singapore cannot afford to have a "revolving door" style of government where top leaders change every five years.
Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew said the country needs good, competent people who will stay.

And this is why they must be paid market rates.

Mr Lee was speaking to reporters in Sydney at the end of his visit to Australia and New Zealand.

............


He said if this S$46 million was cut to maybe S$36 million or S$26 million, the country would save S$20 million but in the process, would jeopardise an economy of S$210 billion.

"So for the average family earning S$1,500-S$3,000, we are talking of astronomical figures but for people like me in government, to deal with the money which we have accumulated by the sweat of our brow over the last 40 years, you have to pay the market rate or the man will up stakes and join Morgan Stanley, Lehman Brothers or Goldman Sachs and you would have an incompetent man and you would have lost money by the billions," said Mr Lee.

While other countries may have leaders who are paid less, Mr Lee said rewarding Singapore leaders well is a system that has worked and is above board.

He said: "If you are going to quarrel about S$46 million – up or down another S$10 to S$20 million – I say you don't have a sense of proportion."

And when it comes to benchmarking, Mr Lee said his own annual income, which is S$2.7 million, is a fraction of what the top managers in the Government of Singapore Investment Corporation (GIC) earns.

He said: "The cure for all this talk is really a good dose of incompetent government... your asset values will disappear, your apartments will be worth a fraction of what it is, your jobs will be in peril, your security will be at risk and our women will become maids in other persons' countries - foreign workers."

When asked to comment on the perception that political leaders should not be in it for the money, and instead, be ready to make that extra sacrifice for the good of the people, the Minister Mentor said it is an admirable sentiment ........................................................


And that was in April 2007, the Singapore Government is expected to announce another round of pay increase from those published by the The Economist above...and will PM Lee and his Ministers reject them just like the PM of Kenya...or will the tax-payers have to bear the additional financial burden?

There seems to be a thin line between corruption and accountability as higlighted by this Tale of the Two Cities.