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Wednesday, 27 April 2011

LOW: TOUGH DECISION, BUT THE TIME IS NOW

LOW: TOUGH DECISION, BUT THE TIME IS NOW [The Satay Club]

 
I am aware of the danger that we might end up with totally NO elected MPs in Parliament but ultimately it is not a choice of ‘playing it safe or taking a risk’. We are only being true to WP’s vision of “Power to the People”. The government must be transparent and account to the people.
To do this we need a breakthrough in the GRC system. We must entrench more WP voices with full voting rights in Parliament. We need a First World Parliament. WP and I have therefore made the important decision that I should lead a team to contest Aljunied GRC.

You are our secret weapon

GE 2011 - Quotable Quotes
Ms Sylvia Lim (WP)
 
"We are determined to make a breakthrough in Aljunied GRC. We believe your lives will improve if PAP faces a strong challenge in Parliament....We trust you. You are our secret weapon."



WP has field a strong team ... at Aljunied GRC.

A serious-looking Foreign Minister George Yeo addresses PAP supporters on Nomination Day:


'As expected, WP has field a strong team... But we will fight hard to win every heart and mind of voter. We have detailed plans to develop Aljunied in the next five years. This will be a crucial contest...Give us your full support."




PAP Candidate Drops Out on Nomination Day?

Civic Consciousness Starts Young …

This article is contributed to the Singapore General Election Portal (SGEP). The articles referred to are found in the SGEP.

Civic Consciousness Starts Young …

Minister Khaw Boon Wan wrote in this blog, "Civic Consciousness Starts Young" [19 Apr 2011 – Blogs].

"Woodlands MP Ellen Lee copied to me some recent photos showing her very young residents at work on the ground, cleaning up their favourite play ground dirtied by thoughtless graffiti. It was such a wonderful sight, showing our young generation taking ownership of their life and their community….. As Ellen Lee put it, “it shows that our understanding of kids may be too superficial as this has shown that they possess plenty of initiatives, and they know right from wrong".

That’s when children are playing on the playground. In the political arena, the depth of understanding about "civic consciousness" takes a twist with which party the Election candidate is representing and which A-Teams he/she belongs.

The positive picture painted by Minister Khaw seems to endorse only the entry of young inexperienced candidates like PAP’s Tin Pei Ling and NSP’s Nicole Seah.

"The social media went into overdrive on Wednesday moments after the National Solidarity Party (NSP) named Ms Nicole Seah as the youngest electoral candidate for the May 7 General Election", TODAY reported. [Netizens close in on another 20-something; 22 Apr 2011 – Local Media / TODAY].

"When asked about the face-off with Ms Tin, the NSP candidate refused to be drawn into comparison, saying she would choose to focus on pressing national issues rather than discuss trivia."

"Ms Seah said her interests lay in matters such as the rising cost of living, engaging young Singaporeans in politics, as well as women's issues."

Ms Seah was quick to assert her political convictions to represent the middle class. "The middle class has really borne the brunt of policies", she said with regard to rising house prices and the cost of living.

TODAY reported that PAP’s candidate, Ms Tin Pei Ling, 27; said "she welcomed the entry of the youngest candidate in the General Election (GE), Ms Nicole Seah, 24, from Opposition party, the NSP." [Tin Pei Ling no longer youngest GE candidate; 21 Apr 2011 – Local Media / TODAY]

"She told MediaCorp she was happy to see more young Singaporeans stepping forward to do good and to serve the country."

"Why many have chosen Nicole Seah over Tin Pei Ling" to be representative of the Gen Y? [23 Apr 2011 – Blogs].

The Kent Ridge Common said :-

"The heap of criticisms centered on Ms. Tin’s poor and seemingly trivial answers to television interviews, her lack of political nuance and also controversial political viewpoints such as her belief that the government had no responsibility to help the poor bridge the widening income gap.

The scrutiny even went personal — many questioned her motivations behind joining the ruling party, and placed her private life under an intense spotlight."

So Nicole Seah must have testified to Minister Khaw’s statement “Civic Consciousness Starts Young’. And "The young Ms. Seah had cultivated a strongly independent, critical and informed perspective of Singapore’s affairs ever since she was in the University" according to the The Kent Ridge Common.

A Letter to TODAY [Experience that counts, not looks; 23 Apr 2011 – Letters /TODAY] argued in support of Ms Tin :

"With Ms Tin's work and grassroots experience trumping that of Ms Seah, I feel it is not fair that Ms Tin gets so heavily criticised when she has proven her sincerity to serve the people by spending several years getting acquainted with the ground."

But is it because as we all know that it all started from her father’s coffee shop? In contrast, Ms Nicole Seah started from her youth while in school and university, a platform she is clearly standing on, and not disguised on great political ideology.

"Ms Tin has been flamed mercilessly for being ‘immature’ and ‘inexperienced’ for the past few weeks." - "Online poll: 95 percent of respondents will vote for Nicole Seah over Tin Pei Ling"; Nicole Seah – 21 Apr 2011 –Blogs]

Perhaps trivial matters and great political ideologies do not mix and certainly not if you were asked, “What is your greatest regret in life?”. Ms Tin’s political mentor (SM Goh) should have coached her, notwithstanding that the GRC ticket might be to her advantage and the PAP election machinery is overwhelming. The younger Ms Nicole Seah had understood and handled this well through her own PR drive so far. But Ms Tin had fallen behind miserably though a graduate in “Psychology”, despite PAP’s experienced PR armour; and certainly needed the desperate recovery actions through her supporters via the MSM’s Forum page.

Should a discerning Electorate be blamed for poor reception when candidates gave the wrong PR signals? Certainly not! That is part of life experience and not just “grassroots” experience. "Videos of Ms Nicole Seah speaking in interviews have been circulating on social media networks. Her intelligence, clarity and persuasion in these videos have been critical in convincing Singaporeans that Ms Seah is a credible candidate". [She has earned the support; 25 Apr 2011 – Letters /TODAY]

Things certainly took a different twist for older candidates such as WP’s Chen Show Mao and SDP’s Tan Jee Say. While “new citizens” are fielded amongst PAP new candidates, having past through the highly acclaimed ‘tea sessions” selection process of the PAP, their Ministers are casting aspersions and questioning the intention of these high-profiled opposition candidates for returning to contest in the coming GE. [Ng Eng Hen writes...; 19 Apr 2011 – Letters / ST Forum]. He was joined by other PAP supporters in the MSM. [Away for a generation and now back to contest; 23 Apr 2011 - Letters / ST Forum]. Is this arrogance shown by a capable and qualified candidate or is it just arrogance in rhetorical arguments by the opposing incumbent?

It’s “Not hard to understand why he returned”, a supporter wrote. [20 Apr 2011 - Letters / ST Forum] “Why would a successful corporate lawyer return to Singapore to join an opposition party?” when his credentials are these, when compared to PM Lee – [Comparing credentials; 20 Apr 2011 – Letter to SGEP]. So does being away for a generation of 30 years really counts and matters when a deserving son of Singapore, who had served his NS and fought it out in the global economy, returns to contest an Election and to contribute back home?

Dr Ng Eng Hen wrote personally in ST Forum, “In our search for candidates, the People's Action Party (PAP) has also considered people with good academic and work credentials who have been working overseas for many years.”

"We advise them to come back and re-establish their roots first - get a job, set up a home, bring back their children, volunteer on the ground, get to know the issues first, and only then talk about candidacy."

Perhaps, it is hard for those who climbed fast in the PAP-centric-only-one-party political system to understand the difficulty of establishing a career in the aggressive global business arena. It probably had taken WP’s Chen Show Mao at least 20 years to establish himself in the international legal fraternity considering prior time for his academic pursuits. This span in time is just equivalent to 4 terms of Parliament which PM Lee expects his future PAP ministers to serve.

Chen certainly had no luxury of time even in the shoes of his WP colleague, Watson Chong; [Watson Chong Cham Weng (WP); 25 April 2011 – Local Media / TODAY] and certainly not the youth of Tin Pei Ling or Nicole Seah.

Indeed, voters must think and vote wisely in this GE as advocated by PM Lee if it is for our true FUTURE.


Read SGEP for more interesting links to GE articles.

SPP's Chiam on responsibility and accountability

Speaking at a press conference, Mr Chiam See Tong (SPP) addresses the issue of voter responsibility and Government accountability.

"If the ruling party wants all the credit, they must take the fall also."

Read Nicole Seah's Take on the 377A Penal Code

Tuesday, 26 April 2011

Public Housing Matters - Milking the Cash Cow?



Why comments are not allowed on U-Tube?

Read Blog-buster of De Leviathan @ Sg here :-

An illegal raid on the reserves? Mr Mah Should Explain About Ballooning Land Costs

This is a watershed election for social media

GE 2011 - Quotable Quotes
Nicole Seah (NSP)

 
"This is a watershed election for social media, and how this will translate into votes is anybody's guess."

Seah is S'pore's 2nd most popular politician online

This election is not about me only. It's about us. It's about our future.

GE 2011 - Quotable Quotes
Chen Show Mao (WP)

"This election is not about me only. It's about us. It's about our future. It's about the direction in which we would like Singapore to go. And here I am, imperfect as I am, I offer myself to you so that you have a choice, you have a say in your future."
"The coming election is about your future. It's about into whose hands do you entrust that future? Do you give all of the power that affects your future to one party and hope for the best? Or do you keep that power for yourself and give yourself a choice, a choice of capable parties competing to give you a better future?"
"In order to have that choice tomorrow, you will need to support the opposition today. If we had a stronger opposition presence in Parliament, it would be good for all Singaporeans."

TODAYonline | Voices | Tilt PMET job opportunities in favour of locals

Monday, 25 April 2011

MAH BOW TAN UNDER THE SPOTLIGHT

MAH BOW TAN UNDER THE SPOTLIGHT - [ Nigel Tan, The Satay Club ]

In what was probably an attempt to diffuse some of the pressure that he is under, Mr Mah said on Sunday that public housing is not likely to be a “make or break” issue at the coming General Election. He told reporters that there were “many other issues” to address in the lead-up to the May 7 polls.

Read In This Blog :-

     
This article has displaced the old No.1 Hit  "The Property Bubble & Investment Trap" since the inception of this Blog.


This article has also beaten the old No.1 Hit "The Property Bubble & Investment Trap" to become the new No. 2.

Is that one lapse by a department fatal ?

GE 2011 - Quotable Quotes
Wong Kan Seng (PAP)

The former Home Affairs Minister said:

"I told Parliament the day of his escape that a mistake was made, there was a lapse in the security and I apologised for that and I said that we will do everything to find him." 
 
"Eventually it took us a while to locate him after he ran away and we gave the Malaysians information where he was hiding. Now, having done all that, I think people did understand that yes indeed, we have done what we could."
"Of course, the first mistake cannot be obliterated. It was there, I owned up to it, as the minister, I took responsibility for it. That's the right thing to do."
"And I think people will look at that and see on the whole, based on what I have done here for the last 27 years, is that one lapse by a department fatal to their decision on electing me or not. I think that, they will have to consider."


Logics behind "He asked only one question" ... but who is responsible?

GE 2011 - Quotable Quotes
Wong Kan Seng (PAP)

'I spent one hour detailing what the committee of inquiry found and I spent the next two hours answering questions from all the MPs, for those interested in asking questions,'

He said that Mr Chiam See Tong had stood up to ask him a question on whether the police had considered using tracker dogs to find Mas Selamat.

'Now if he (Mr Chiam) says that is not enough, why didn't he stand up then and ask more questions?'

Like a phoenix from the flames

Like a phoenix from the flames - [ By Cheryl Chan - The Satay Club ]

Sunday, 24 April 2011

It would be your "greatest regret" in life if you miss this video.

Vote For Change II - S'pore GE 2011

The present Government had "lost its moral compass".

GE 2011 - Quotable Quotes
Tan Jee Say (SDP)

Mr Tan Jee Say said he had felt for some time,

the present Govt. had "lost its moral compass"

"If you are a Govt. with a moral purpose, set moral limits on what you want to do".

We need a strong system of government, not just a strong government.

GE 2011 - Quotable Quotes
Low Thia Khiang (WP)

Responding to Minister Ng Eng Hen's concerns that voting for the opposition may unintentionally weaken the government, Low said,

"I suppose it's typical PAP. They want some noises in parliament but they do not want representation from the people."
"We need a strong system of government, not just a strong government,"

added Low, referring to the need for an alternative government to take over should the current one fail.
 

How the system will evolve, that the voters will decide.

GE 2011 - Quotable Quotes
Low Thia Khiang (WP)

Speaking at the unveiling of WP's third batch of General Election candidates, Low said,

"People who talk about a two-party system, or even the PAP is asking whether the WP will form the next government. It is not for the PAP to decide, neither is it for the WP to decide."

On Friday, Education Minister Ng Eng Hen challenged the opposition to come together to form the next government to allow voters "a real choice".

"It is for the voters to decide," said Low, declining to speculate on whether the opposition can form an alternative government.


"How the system will evolve, that the voters will decide."

Tan Jee Say: Gratitude (to govt) is not servitude

GE 2011 - Quotable Quotes
Tan Jee Say (SDP)

When asked if he is ‘biting the hand’ which ‘fed’ him by standing against the PAP, Mr Tan replied:


"I have this deep sense of gratitude to the government, to the leaders who have sent me on the government scholarship, but gratitude is not servitude, it is not blind loyalty, it does not mean giving up the sense of what is right and what is wrong, what is good and what is bad. In fact, the best way to show gratitude is to build upon the source of gratitude or to put it back on the right path, if it loses its way."

He added that he is still friends with PAP ministers George Yeo, Mah Bow Tan and Lim Hng Kiang and do not want to stand against them in their respective constituencies.

Friday, 22 April 2011

Tan Jee Say: PAP’s economic policies will lead to ‘social disintegration’

Tan Jee Say: PAP’s economic policies will lead to ‘social disintegration’ - [Singapore Election 2011]

Former Principal Private Secretary to Senior Minister Goh Chok Tong Mr Tan Jee Say has launched a scathing criticism of the PAP’s economic policies in the last few years.

The 57 year old Mr Tan will be contesting in the coming general election as a candidate of the Singapore Democratic Party.....

Return of the SPP

Return of the SPP [Politics - Blog]

The Electoral Threat of the Workers' Party (WP)

TODAYonline | Voices | Governance, a serious business

TODAYonline Voices Governance, a serious business [TODAY - Letter from Eric Tin Keng Seng]


The onus is not only on the parties and their candidates to prove that they are deserving and trustworthy of the people's mandate.

The onus is also upon those of us who can vote, to presume nothing but exercise our own judgment and right of universal suffrage reasonably, rationally and responsibly in the best interests of this place we call our home.

TODAYonline | Voices | WP proposal reflects ground sentiment on costlier housing

Thursday, 21 April 2011

An illegal raid on the reserves? Mr Mah Should Explain About Ballooning Land Costs

Mr Mah said that :-

the Worker's Party's proposal to lower flat prices by paying less for the land is an illegal raid on the reserves.

Mr Mah had written a series of special articles for TODAY and compiled them into a handbook. But many are still astonished by the "ballooning" cost of land he used to price his HDB flats.

Perhaps, Mr Mah should explained to the Electorate how lands that were cheaply acquired  in the early 1970s for the HDB, and in the Govt's land bank; through the Compulsory Land Acquisition Acts, could balloon to its current market value "according to objective market conditions and established valuation principles".

Let me also take visitors of this Blog a step back into history of Singapore. Not history about Lanfang Republic or the Sultanate of Demak by PAP new candidate MG (Ret) Chan Chun Sing. They are extinct. Singaporean voters are alive. You can view a video of his "army-styled" speech (100 years and beyond for Singapore) here and a verbatim written copy here.

I managed to dig up some interesting old information and it is available here [the interested parties' names had been blanked out for confidentiality]. It shows the actual land cost the HDB / Govt had paid for a plot of land for the "Development of Clementi New Town" way back in June 1975.

Amount paid by HDB for the acquisition of Freehold Land : S$360,000.
Title : Freehold
True Area of the Land : 12 A 0 R 03.00 P [ 12 Acre, 0 Rood or Rod, 03.00 Perch ]

I was not conversant with the Imperial Land Area units and did a quick check here (See Reference #02 below). The true land area could be converted to square foot (sq ft) as follows :-

12 acres = 12 x 43,560 = 522,720 sq ft
0 rood = 0 sq ft.
03.00 perch = 3 x 272.25 sq ft = 816.75 sq ft.

Total Area = 523,536.75 sq ft.
Cost paid by HDB for land acqusition = S$0.6876 per sq ft (psf) or nearly 70 cents per sq ft (psf).

So what HDB paid for a 523,536 sq ft Freehold piece of land in June 1975 @ S$360,000 can only buy you a 5 Rm HDB 99 year Leasehold flat today. And imagine HDB is building higher and higher, 30 to 40 storeys high, at gross plot ratio of "greater than 2.8". You can refer to the "Table: Revised GPR / Storey Height Typology" here. [This could have been raised further for a bigger population and density].

So if you allow only half of the above plot 523,536 sq ft for building HDB flats and half of it for open spaces, roads,  carparks, etc, - half  for actual building area = 261,768 sq ft X gross plot ratio 2.8 = GFA of at least 732,950 sq ft or equivalent to at least 619 nos. of 5-Rm flats @ 1,183 sq ft.

Hence, S$360,000 divide by 732,950 sq ft = S$0.49 psf GFA or $580 for a 5 Rm flat. If land cost had appreciated 25 times since 1975, then for a 5 Rm flat present value of land = $580 x 25 = $14,500. Not forgetting that HDB flat is just Leasehold and not Freehold.

As a trained pro QS I believe a construction cost of $150 psf GFA is fair and achievable for a high rise HDB block. Hence for a 5 Rm flat, construction cost is about $150 x 1,183 sq ft = $177,450.

Total Cost for 5 Rm unit = cost of land (@25 times 1975 purchase price) + construction cost = $14,500 + $177,450 = approx. S$191,950.

But the HDB is selling a 5 Rm HDB flat (BTO) to you at S$360,000 or a mark-up profit of about 46%.

So what does Mr Mah means by "current market value according to objective market conditions and established valuation principles". Does it mean current market condition is to earn a profit of about 46%.

Even if I allow land cost at 30 X 1975 prices and construction cost at $200 psf, the total cost of a 5 Rm unit is only 580 x 30 + 1,183 x 200 = S$254,000. At sale price of $360,000, the mark-up is 29%.

So what has HDB and the Govt subsidised you?

If the Worker's Party's proposal to lower flat prices by paying less for the land is an illegal raid on the reserves, then Mr Mah could have raided your pockets for the past decades or soon to raid. No wonder MG (Ret) Chan Chun Sing ended his speech to his PAP comrades, "100 years, here we come - united as one!"

MG (Ret) Chan Chun Sing  also said, "The shared perspectives/values must include what our forefathers have practice - that we put the interests of the country and the people before our own - always".

Yes, indeed. Our forefathers had ceded their land rights cheaply to the PAP Govt.

To quote our 4G-core Minister-to-be or even PM-to-be, MG Chan; again,


"I am not pessimistic or fatalistic."


"With gumption and creativity, we will stay together, stay alert, stay alive and overcome the odds of history".

Please overcome these odds of history - By not raiding our pockets and those of our future generations legally. Not forgetting the PAP's manifesto is "Securing Our Future Together".

Reference #01
Abstracted From :-
CNA 20 April 2011

..........~~~.........

Finally, Mr Mah explained that the Worker's Party's proposal to lower flat prices by paying less for the land is an illegal raid on the reserves.

Under the Constitution, after every general election, the new government is required to manage its expenditure based on its current revenue during its term in office. It cannot use assets which have been accumulated under previous governments, unless the Elected President agrees.

Mr Mah said: "These assets are reserves protected by the EP for future generations of Singaporeans. This system was put in to prevent a profligate government spending money which it had not accumulated. State land forms part of the reserves protected by EP.

"When the government takes state land from the reserves to use, for example for public housing, it has to pay the full value of the land back into the reserves, to replace the land which it has used. This land value is determined by the Chief Valuer, according to objective market conditions and established valuation principles.

"In this case, it is valued for public housing, which is already lower than for private housing. The govern­ment cannot arbitrarily price state land higher or lower as it pleases. Nor can it appoint a Chief Valuer to do its bidding, because the Chief Valuer's appointment is protected, and subject to the approval of the EP."

And paying less for land to build flats was not a casual matter of "left pocket to right pocket" but of raiding the reserves meant for future generations.

Reference #02
Imperial units - Land Area

Reference #03

Optimisation of land use through innovative legislation in Singapore

Reference #04
YPAP March 15, 2010
MND COS Debate on Affordability of HDB flats

Diary of A Singaporean Mind: GE 2011 : Time for change....

The Toxic Assets of Mah Bow Tan

A welcome wind of change

A welcome wind of change - (ST Forum - Letter by Lee Seck Kay )

Wednesday, 20 April 2011

Personal attacks on WP's Chen will 'backfire' .....


THE People's Action Party is unlikely to go 'full guns blazing' or step up personal attack on Workers' Party candidate Chen Show Mao, said two political analysts.....the MSM reported.

Will the PAP poison its own water?

We need more candidates with Chen Show Mao's "calibre" to help face the threats of globalisation from the external environment. At least, PMETs should endorse him for their own "future".

As a PMET, I could not see how PAP's manifesto and new "home-grown" candidates from Ms Tin Pei Ling to even MG Chan Chun Sing could help "Securing Our Future Together" .....

I wrote in this Blog on 29 Mar 2011 the piece " Sugar Coating of New PAP Candidates Part 2 " :-

THE People's Action Party (PAP) chairman Lim Boon Heng said at the unveiling of the party's third batch of candidates that a key issue the party will fight on in the coming election is "the kind of future" Singaporeans want for themselves and their children. He said,
"Given the environment surrounding Singapore and the competition it faces, what kind of future do we want?"
He sounded as if he was speaking as the Chairman of an Opposition Party.....

I think the answer to the outgoing PAP Chairman's earlier question is not just "what kind of future do we want?". It is the counter view, "Who can bring about this CHANGE?". And I think Chen Show Mao's candidacy is WP's belated answer "in action" to him.

DPM Teo Chee Hean said Singaporeans have to consider whether opposition parties can deliver on the "laundry list of things" they have laid out in their manifestoes, as reported in MyPaper on 20 April 2011.

He said even if certain items in the opposition parties' "laundry list of things" are similar to those of PAP's, it is "the PAP has shown it can deliver with implementation and execution".

The PAP could not blame the opposition parties yet on "implementation and execution". It is the PAP that is incumbent and in power as the Govt. The PAP had even tilted "implementation and execution" in its own favour such as for HDB Lift Upgrading.

And don't forget what PM Lee had said before in reply to CNN International Asia-Pacific managing editor Ellana Lee's question on what he would have done anything differently on hindsight for the past decade during a dialogue session as part of CNN's 30th anniversary celebrations. PM Lee said :-

"I think if we had known how quickly the pace of change would accelerate and how much our people would be under pressure from globalisation, we would have prepared them for it earlier."

Two past PAP manifestoes had failed to address and solve the common Singaporeans' future for the last 10 years in the face of globalisation, do you expect to see any "difference" to come from new PAP candidates, in the like of Ms Tin Pei Ling to even MG Chan Chun Sing, who are groomed within the "closed" warm PAP "cocoon" and political culture; to initiate a change while under the tutelage of SM Goh and MM Lee?

An intelligent Electorate should be looking at "a new shopping list for a better detergent" and Chen Show Mao could be just that "detergent" Singaporeans are looking for.

"Legacy Of SM Goh"

"Legacy Of SM Goh" - Singapore Notes.

Senior Minister Goh Chok Tong was asked by China's CCTV if he had inherited his legacy from his predecessor Lee Kuan Yew, just as Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong inherited his. Goh Chok Tong said LKY never talked about his legacy and "I never talk about my legacy".

Monday, 18 April 2011

The Million Dollar Salary Syndrome - Why PAP Could Not Work Like "a Bolt of Lightning" Anymore?

Has the ruling PAP become a ridiculous party and political system? While it is capable of putting a "lightning rod" like Ms Tin Pei Ling to attract "a Bolt of Lightning" without an Election battle, its Ang Mo Kio "A- Team" is certainly not able to foresee and prevent the accident at AMK MRT Station in which a Thai girl lost both her legs.

Recent critics in ST Forum had commented on "Why an opposition 'A' team may not work?". This is very much a fictitious argument. An existing A-Team from the ruling PAP might not work effectively, so why be bothered to cast aspersions on an Opposition 'A' team which is not even given a chance yet?

In reality, what that affects the common people on the ground is not easily visible to so called A-Teams within the ruling PAP. Even if it is visible, it may be given a "blind" or "secondary" eye at the expense of general public interest due to "commercial" reasons. I cited the accident at the AMK MRT Station as an example because we have existing A-Teams overseeing it. - an A-Team each from the PAP AMK GRC, the Ministry of Transport and the SMRT. The AMK MRT Station is a very crowded station and these A-Teams could not use their "common sense" to see to the priority to get the barriers installed there first.

You may recall the current installation of safety barriers was initiated only after many complaints from the public. The top management of the SMRT was more concerned about upgrading shopping experience at the MRT stations to collect more revenue. It took a long time to deliberate on the decision to add on protective safety barriers due to additional cost issues. If accidents had not become too often to disrupt MRT traffic and caused greater economic losses, do you think the SMRT would emarked on the upgrading works? Would the Ministry of Transport have taken actions? Not for many years with these controlling A-Teams.

Conversely, upon the completion of safety glass barriers works, SMRT was very fast to reap advertising revenue. You see these double standards of the current controlling A-Teams? Not when it has to spend money to safeguard public safety at their own costs?


Photo : Singapore MRT - Safety Barrier for elevated station platform. Note : Advertisement put up immediately.
 
Photo : Singapore MRT - Undeground station platform at Bishan. Note : Advertisement on glass panel.

Despite what PMO Minister and Second Transport Minister Lim Hwee Hua said that 'commuters would be worse off with nationalised transport system', I had a pleasant experience travelling on the Nanjing Metro MRT while in China.

Although the Nanjing Metro was built later than our MRT lines, it was fast to put in safety barriers in the interest of public safety, although having design fault such as a wider gap between the platform and train. Singapore MRT had overcame this design fault but allow a greater "fault" at the expense of passenger safety and cost savings which ignored a potential "legal" issue in the laws of "equity" or "natural justice".

However, SMRT was so fast and efficient to reap "advertisment" revenue after putting in barriers.

Photo : Nanjing Metro - Glass safety barriers at Yuantong Expo Centre Underground Station.
Note : No advertisments

Photo : Nanjing Metro - Glass safety barriers at Andemen Interchange. Above Ground Station
Note : No advertisments / Train glass was reflecting nearby buildings.

Photo : Nanjing Metro - Train Internal View,  Note : No advertisments on wall and floor.

Photo : Nanjing Metro - Signage at Andemen Interchange. Note : No advertisement.
Photo : Nanjing Metro - Map at Yuantong Expo Centre Station.
Note : Jiang Xin Zhou is the island near the Olympic Station where
Singapore's GLC had purchased some land rights but had
faced clearance issues with local grape farm owners.

Photo : Nanjing Metro - Use token instead of ticket at gantry. Note : Payment by cash : RMB 2~3,
Payment by Nanjing Citizen or IC Card : RBM 1.80.
Photo : The Nanjing Olympic Stadium MRT Exit at Hexi.
Do you see the difference in mindsets between our public and private sectors? Do you see the difference in mindset between our competitive system and the nationalised public transport system in China? Do you see any difference in efficiency? There seems to be a "Million Dollar Salary Syndrome or air" with the PAP Ministers and top public servants which make it easy for them to dismiss issues which they lack competency and interest. In politics, PAP believes in a "nationalised" system to favour PAP. But in transportation they don't believe in a "nationalised" system. Do you see the irony and double standards? 

This could explain why more well qualified scholars (including ex-public servants) are now joining the Opposition Parties and the PAP is finding it hard to recruit such high calibre candidates from the private sector.

PM Lee reminded his PAP audience these key points when he launched the ruling PAP manifesto during the Young PAP's 25th Anniversary Rally,

Never forget that we are servants of the people,
Always maintain a sense of humility and service,
Be as strict with ourselves as we are with others.

During Election time, the PAP is subservient to the interests of the people as "servants of the people" but when the Election is over, the PAP is subservient only to MONEY which put public interests at the mercy of the PAP policies.

A discerning Electorate should pick up arguments which are given as a matter of convenience by politicians simply to disparage ideas from the Opposition. I observed that letters published recently in the MSM had  echoed such  views by the PAP Ministers which treated the Electorate as if they are ignorant and ill-informed "servants", and the PAP Ministers and supporters as if they are "colonial masters".

I hope Nanjing is not taking a lesson from Singapore on how to budget for the next YOG in 2014.

[Note :- Nanjing’s population in Year 2000 Nov Census was almost 3.78 million. (Singapore 4.02 million then including non-residents, and comparable). I do not have the latest statistics as the population census was just completed last year end , but unofficial figures for Nanjing’s population for 2009 was 7.7 million, compared to 5.07 million for Singapore last year based on census. The land area of Nanjing is about 9.5 times Singapore’s area.]

Reference #01
ST Forum Apr 9, 2011
Thai teen's tragedy: Will SMRT help her?

I AM saddened by the photograph of Thai student Peneakchanasak Nitcharee yesterday ('I want to see my family').

The 14-year-old's hopes and dreams have been shattered by a horrific accident, which should not have happened had appropriate safety measures been taken swiftly on the Ang Mo Kio train station's open-deck platform.

Her parents, whom I gather from yesterday's report are from a low-income background, have stated that they are not in a financial position to pay for the hospitalisation costs.

While I have no doubt that kind Singaporeans will rally to assist them financially, as they have so often done, I am curious to know whether SMRT will do likewise - if not from a point of legal liability, which has never surfaced in all the past fatalities, at least because of a strong tug at the heartstrings in this case.

Ralph S. Lesslar

Reference #02
ST Forum Apr 15, 2011

IN LAST Friday's report, 'Why calls for two-party system won't go away', Ms Lydia Lim states that there are more qualified and credible opposition candidates this upcoming election and that the 'new candidate with the most impressive academic credentials' could belong to the opposition.

While I agree that this might be true, it does not address the fact that there could be insufficient talent to form two governments in Singapore. What she cited refers to the distribution of the talent pool among the different parties. In fact, we see the opposition having trouble fielding candidates to contest a few group representation constituencies, which is indicative of its ability to form an 'A' team for this election.

Her second argument for the opposition lies in having alternative viewpoints in Parliament 'to scrutinise and critique government policy'. However, if such critiques come from a minority party without veto power, it will not be able to make an impact on policies. Thus would the inclusion of opposition in Parliament really result in the checks and balances envisioned?

Finally, Ms Lim used Apple and its iPhone as an example of how world-beating innovations tend to come from 'the second party'. Can we be sure that the opposition parties we see today are the equivalent of Apple in the political scene? As the late founder of Ford Motor Company Henry Ford said: 'You can't build a reputation on what you are going to do.'

We need to consider whether the opposition parties have shown themselves capable of forming an 'A' team and providing checks and balances in Parliament.

Goh Ching Soon
Reference #03
TODAY Apr 16, 2011

SINGAPORE - The Government has considered the idea before but it did not think a nationalised public transport system was feasible, Second Transport Minister Lim Hwee Hua said on Friday.

And in rebuttal to the transport proposal in the Workers' Party manifesto, Mrs Lim said commuters would even be worse off.

"I presume the underlying motivation for nationalisation is because it's cheap. But nationalising in a lot of other countries has led to inefficiencies. Ultimately, you get cheap transport but it doesn't quite work out for the residents," she told reporters on the sidelines of a community event .....

Reference #04
AsiaOne Apr 16, 2011

A man has been arrested for attempting suicide at Sembawang MRT on Friday night.

The man, in his mid-30s, had fallen onto the train tracks at Sembawang MRT station. The Singapore Civil Defence Force and Singapore Police Force said they received a call at about 11.35pm.....


Monday, 11 April 2011

Election Watch Part XII - 3 ROUNDS OF TEARS TO IMPRESS "NO GROUP-THINK"

The PAP Chairman shed 3 rounds of tears when he introduced the 7th batch of PAP new candidates. It was not to bid farewell as he would not be seeking re-election as an MP and Minister Without Portfolio in the PMO. He had to impress the media with emotional "constructive engagement" instantly when a reporter asked the 3 new candidates for their counter arguments that Singaporeans feared there was "group-think" decision making amongst policy makers within the PAP Govt. Minister Lim shed tears on these 3 issues :-

(a) the "casino" issue,

(b) the impact of globalisation on the the working poor,

(c) subject of falling low income and wage stagnation - implementation of Workfare Income Supplement (WIS) Scheme.

Source : CNA

But life had gone on "as usual" for the commoners - "No casino? I’ll kill myself’"..... for this  51-year-old woman.
After a two-hour stand-off on the third day of last Chinese New Year, the children's 51-year-old mother got her way and went back to the casino.
When she returned 24 hours later, she had lost S$7,000.
It was then the children gave up trying to get their mother to quit gambling. She had already racked up debts of more than S$300,000.
Nobody shed tears for this family. Nobody shed tears when Ministers' salary was increased in 2007and this year when the "Budget gives more than required - Ministers' Pay?" but "Ministers look away as Sylvia Lim spoke on Ministerial salaries".

Reference #01
Yahoo News - FTP , 11 Apr 2011
No casino? I’ll kill myself

Election Watch Part XI - Has PAP Started to Contradict and Disagree in this Match?

This article was contributed to the Singapore General Election Portal, SGEP.

Has PAP Started to Contradict and Disagree in this Match?

PM Lee said at the annual Kent Ridge Ministerial Forum [PM: "A-team" leaders needed to ensure S'pore's future; 5 Apr 2011 – CNA] that the strongest possible A-Team is needed to assure Singapore’s future and this A-Team could only be from the PAP because having a two-party system of politics is not feasible.

On leadership renewal, PM Lee said his party (PAP) is putting together the next A-Team for Singapore as the new PAP candidates in this Election will form “key members of this team”. Among the new slate of candidates, several have been tipped to form the core of PAP’s 4th Generation leadership.

PM Lee’s speech had contradicted the words by his current A-Team Ministers.

PM Lee used “football” as an example to explain his dream A-Team which should have depth and resilience, with competent ministers and people with expertise from different ministries. This does not sound different from Opposition MP Low Tia Kiang’s publicised visionary concepts for team renewal within his WP to provide also depth and resilience.

That PM had used “football” as an analogy is nothing new, as he has inherited his current “football A-Team” from his “old captain” SM Goh, who first started the “football” team analogy when he took over from MM Lee. What are possibly new were contradictions he articulated against his Ministers despite the “depth” of his current A Team.

Firstly, PM Lee sticks to his old argument that the two-party system of politics is not feasible because there is not enough talent to form two 1st-Class teams. He re-visited that “the most effective way to get a two-party system is to split the PAP in two because the talent is there”. This contradicts what Finance Minister Tharman said in “A political form for Singapore’s future” [CNA Political Forum – “Quick thoughts on TV debate between political parties”; 3 Apr 2011 – Yawning Bread], that “a strong opposition is good for the PAP”.

PM Lee also contradicted what his Foreign Minister George Yeo had said after an event at Madrasah Aljunied. - “While having a credible opposition is important, the People's Action Party must stay nimble to deal with changes in Singapore and the world.” [PAP must stay nimble to deal with changes: George Yeo; 5 Apr 2011 – ST Online]

PM Lee does not believe in a two party system of politics and wants to keep spare players in his A-Team which is not “nimble”.

"The A-Team should also include younger members who will be learning the job, so that as the situation changes and the country has needs, we can always find the right person for the right job. And if one person doesn’t work out, I can do a replacement, change my team member and the game goes on. That’s how soccer is played."

We should also not forget the number of old players PM Lee is now keeping in the PMO.

In generic terms, this also contradicts what DPM Wong Kan Seng said during the 2nd introduction of new PAP candidates [Wong Kan Seng fires salvo at Opposition; 23 Mar 2011 – ST Online].

Referring the Hougang MP Low Tia Khiang, etc.; DPM Wong said - “He argued that the opposition was wanting to capture a GRC for the wrong reasons.”

"Some say they are doing it for party renewal, some want to be the first ones to do so, but what is the election about? Is it about the ambitions of a political party or individuals to make history?". He also said this GE is about “evolution” and not “revolution”. Isn’t PM Lee now also talking about party renewal in PAP by forming the new A Team as his own ambition for the coming GE?

The greatest disagreement between PM Lee and SM Goh must be on the number of terms future Ministers would served. SM Goh said future Ministers may only serve 2 terms (about 10 years) [Goh Chok Tong boo boo again, what a clown; 4 Apr 2011 – onesingaprean Blog]. PM Lee disagreed that it should be 4 terms (20 years). That would mean that PAP’s 4G core Minister-designate Heng Swee Keat would have to serve till 70 years old and not 60 years, despite having spent the major part of his “learning curve” at the MAS. To an intelligent Electorate, it could mean just only 1 term for these Ministers to prove because the pace of globalization and competition is so fast that there just isn’t time for them to allow a Minister any “extra time” to try for a 2nd term.

To all these PAP talks, Workers' Party chief Low Thia Khiang's rebuttal is - "I think buying insurance is the right thing to do. If PM thinks we shouldn't buy insurance, then why do we buy MediShield? Should we wait till we fall sick before we buy it?

"Now is the best time to buy insurance. Conditions are now good for us - economic growth is not bad, Government is stable - to slowly build up a healthier political system ... I think everyone knows how to prepare for a rainy day. I think (his) is a logic that doesn't make sense." [Singaporeans will decide political system, not PAP; 7 Apr 2011 – TODAY].

Mr Low added a more optimistic note: "I think our PM shouldn't be so pessimistic about our future. Compared to 20 years ago. Singapore has more talent than before and educational standards are higher ... And I remember we've said before we're a city of possibilities. So, we must work towards different possibilities for the future governance model."

WP chairman Sylvia Lim, added that political competition will "empower citizens to have bargaining power against the ruling party", with all the Opposition parties disagreeing with Mr Lee's argument that a two-party system is not workable here due to a shortage of talent.

The Singapore Democratic Party called on the PAP to stop "belittling and patronising" the public.

Referring to the Prime Minister's revelation that the PAP had "seriously considered" splitting into two, the SDP said: "Singaporeans will decide the political system, not the PAP. There's no need for the PAP to do anything with itself but to ensure a free and fair election system and a free and pluralistic media."

Blogs and forums are now “Revisiting this Topic - Two-party system cannot work in Singapore”. Some were upset and confused by PM Lee. Is this what PM Lee was talking about? [PM Lee at NUS Ministerial Forum; "Dear Comrades" - 7 Apr 2011 – onesingaporean Blog].

As expected there will always be letters printed in the MSM to support and praise PAP’s stand [Single-party state works best for Singapore; 7 Apr 2011 - ST Online Forum Page]. One concludes as follows:-

"But what sets Singapore apart is that it has emerged relatively unscathed from the latest financial crisis. I believe it is because our single-party government steered the country in one direction. Bigger nations with a two-party or multi-party system can afford to falter and recover. For a small country like Singapore, there is no room for second chances."

It looks like a “standard” reply, otherwise to be written by a Minister’s press secretary, if there is not a coming GE. This writer might have forgotten about SARs and the economic crisis that followed. How Singaporeans were badly affected by Govt policies then could have resulted in their present unfavourable status quo today.

As a nation progressed beyond its initial attainment of “developed country” status, the same strategy of having a “single-party government to steer the country in one direction” may not work any more.

The fact that it works well in China as argued by the writer could well be due to the fact that China is still "developing". Although it has almost become the world’s biggest economic power in size but still needs that single “one direction” in making policies by studying our past economic success, certainly not our future stagnation. Hence, for a small developed economy like Singapore, a PAP without Opposition may well be the actual obstacle to our future development. Not forgetting PAP Chairman had said “PAP will fight for Singaporeans’ future”, and that may require giving up a one party system. [Sugar Coating of New PAP Candidates Part 2; 29 Mar 2011 – This Blog]. This is where we need alternative views to see through our policy weaknesses.

"Technocrat” politicians and writers can always find means to argue that a “single-party government” works more effectively during the Election campaign to avoid losing votes but in reality does it work? Hence, an argument supporting that “a single-party state will work best for Singapore forever” at best is just an academic exercise, if not only a thesis statement which has yet to be proven true. The increasingly wide "income divide" and accelerated pace of globalization and competition will testify to this.

Is PM Lee employing “time delaying” tactics before the final whistle is blown for his game of “football”, realizing well that “offside traps” and “obstructions” are now fouls in the eyes of the new media? Is it time for the Opposition to score the “equalizer”, if not the final goal; as the PAP may well be into “extra-time” by now? Anyway, an intelligent Electorate would know that you would need 2 teams to play “football” and compete.

If you want to know what colours the players should wear in their jerseys, you may watch this video.



Visit the SGEP for more interesting links on the GE.

The Property Bubble & Investment Trap - GE Update

Due to the current STUPOR of the property market following the last set of control measures, I have not been posting on this topic, but on the hotter GE issues.

I have received two emails asking for my personal views on Properties with the GE imminent. I take note that property agents are trying to push the market upwards. And there were some recent high land bids by large developers (even GLC ones) and expensive launches. After the GE, if the PAP wins by good margin; we can expect the new Govt to try to please the Developers more than the voters.

As a note of cautious, I thought it would be appropriate to re-post this letter from the ST Online here as we ponder on the effects due to the recent crisis in Japan, which may continue to drag the market sidewards for some more time as it awaits other external drivers to set the market direction.

Do remember that what our Govt or even agents could do is on the "push" factor, whereas what the market really need could be a stronger "pull" factor to get it out of the stupor. Any adverse external driver would force the market downwards.

Reference #001
Abstracted From :-
ST Forum  Apr 11, 2011

IT HAS been reported that property prices are moderating, with a reduced pace of price increases and drop in cash over valuation (COV) of HDB transactions ('Property cooling steps working: Mah'; April 3).

The reality is that prices are showing a net increase albeit at a slower pace. As HDB has been known to use market subsidy pricing pegged to open market transactions, current conditions mean higher absolute price levels for new flat buyers.

The downward trend in COV simply means out-of-pocket cash outlay has decreased. But if the average reduction in COV is $5,000, and average valuations have increased by tens of thousands, the absolute price point of HDB flats would have actually risen, requiring a larger debt quantum to be serviced, even though they may be arguably classified as affordable.

Economic cycles of late have shown there are few iron rice bowl careers now. When there is market exuberance, it is psychologically easy to join in the frenzy of acquiring homes simply based on affordability over the next few years. But loan terms span 20 to 30 years and the crunch comes during downward economic cycles when Central Provident Fund (CPF) rates are tweaked, salaries are frozen or reduced, and unemployment becomes prolonged. Many here tend to be asset-rich and cash-poor. This is partly because a large debt quantum translates to a larger loan interest payment, coupled with the opportunity cost of not getting the interest generated had the funds gone into CPF accounts.

This effectively diminishes the cash asset build-up for retirement. Should the home asset need to be realised for any reason, whether it would have sufficiently appreciated to cover all expenses incurred will depend on the luck of timing.

Some are benefiting from the market trend, especially those who downgrade, as they encash their assets, which have appreciated, and acquire lower-priced homes.

Many others are hopping on the bandwagon at entry points where home prices have escalated way beyond economic growth over the last few years. Hopefully, the 'soft landing' looked forward to in the property market balances the myriad factors in the property supply chain.

Otherwise, this may inadvertently contribute to the widening wealth gap.

Rafiq Hamjah