Saturday, February 28, 2015

Singapore Scholar logic

So the Singapore govt wants to keep paying the men who defend Singapore from enemy attack - peanuts.

Its very funny coming from a Minister who is getting one of the highest government salaries in the world. She's paid millions of dollars a year.

Its puzzling isn't it? So let me offer an explanation.

1. They can do it. There is no serious opposition. Even if they decided to pay NS men literally peanuts - because Singaporeans by and large really don't protest - they just mumble and grumble - they can.

2. Why are they doing it? Let me offer a speculation based on Chinese history: Traditionally, Scholar time is more valuable than peasant time. This is just a historical way of thinking that goes back to ancient China. Scholars were more valued than peasants. So the Minister may feel she is entitled to the world's most exorbitant multi-million dollar salary because her time is more precious than the 18 year old ordinary soldier holding a rifle defending her - who gets paid - about $300 a month?

That sort of "brilliant logic" resulted in China being constantly invaded by foreign powers throughout its history and also to all manner of fubar policies because no one is allowed to question the scholars who know best. No counter balances - no way to stop a foolish government from carrying on.

You pay peanuts and you treat people like monkeys, meanwhile you pay yourself a fortune and what do you get? Look at China's history - a couple of people benefit while the rest of the people live a monkey's life. China could have colonized North America and Australia centuries before the British/ Europeans got there but they didn't. Thank you Confucian scholars.

In Singapore's case you pay multi-million dollar salaries and you get King Kong kind of thinking it seems.

I'm not suggesting that NS soldiers get paid million dollar salaries. How about shortening the service time to 1 year? How about making NS voluntary? And tying it with the right to purchase an own HDB flat?

To be fair NS should be made voluntary. But NS soldiers serving the 2 years should be granted the special right to own a small hdb apartment. Not for free of course - but at a special discounted rate commensurate with the terms of their service.

You've heard the argument given by our leaders for paying the Ministers and top civil servants multi-million dollar salaries. Why can't that logic be extended to the men and women who defend the nation?

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Singapore's education is really the best.... compared to South Pole

The worse years in my life was spent at school. Being beaten, intimidated, bashed and humiliated by teachers at that Barker Road school was really fucking awful.

I've managed to blot a lot of those unpleasant memories together with whatever they taught.

On ABC radio I overheard this remark - "being unable to cope and get along at school does not define your intelligence".

Some were meant to fly, some were meant to swim.

Baking Scones

g. Its quite enjoyable to mix flour, milk, some dried fruit you have in the fridge together - and after 10 mins in the oven - you come up with something 10 times better.

I found this easy to do scone recipe.

You need 3 cups Self-raising flour

1 and a quarter cup of milk

80g of butter

and a bowl of dried fruit - in this case, dates.

1. I cut up the dates and left them to soak in the milk because they were a little too dry.
2. Mix the Flour with the butter by rubbing them together.
3. Heat the oven to 200 C
4. Clear the Bench Top and sprinkle ordinary flour on it. Rub some of that on your hands to prevent the dough from sticking.
5. Mix the Buttered Flour with the Dates to form the dough - in the bowl.
6. Take it out and stretch or roll the dough out.
7. You can cut the scones out or I just tear them out and pat them to shape.
8. Put them on the baking tray and into the oven they go.
9. After 10 - 15 minutes they're done.
10. Don't leave them on the hot baking tray - place them on the serving plate.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Why the PAP will lose office one day

Imho I think the PAP will eventually lose office one day perhaps sooner rather than later.

I should qualify my remark by saying that this won't be a great benefit to Singaporeans. None of the Opposition parties - currently - are ready to govern Singapore as effectively as the Men in White. Decades of general good governance + political oppression - google "Chia Thye Poh", "Lim Hock Siew" have made most Singaporeans politically apathetic. Heck I think even in the PAP most of the people there were chosen because on the strength of their ability to follow not charisma or initiative. The fact that the PAP seem to like choosing ex-military officers to be politicians reflects a peculiar hierarchical mindset.

The story so far is this the PAP has been pushing Singapore citizens too hard. When you have a leader that says the people need to be treated likes horses - spurs not stuck harder on hinds... ie. backsides - that's some serious disdain there - the limpeh policy of "I know best so shut up and sit down and do as you're told" policy may have worked in the 1960s when most of the population lacked an education, but this is now the new millennium, no one takes that kind of shit lying down any more.

Take for example a minor incident  - when the police arrest some people in a religious procession - maybe in the past when everyone relied on newspapers for their news- such disturbing news could be hidden away - now people have smart phones that can record such fubar incidents and post it on youtube for the entire world to see. When was the last time you bought a newspaper?

But the problem is that the government's 2nd main overriding concern - is to increase Singapore GDP. That comes first and foremost - other factors like citizen welfare come much lower down. Singapore is in fact run pretty much like a corporation - in fact its leaders pay themselves and the top civil servants salaries which are similar to the top corporate world.

However for a government that touts itself as world class and pays itself the highest salaries in the entire universe - the PAP has been not managing the country as well as it should. And criticism is warranted - if you pay workers super high extraordinary salaries you should expect super high extraordinary performances. Of greatest concern should be the dramatic astronomical rise in property prices; even government housing can command million dollar price tags. It should have been curtailed ages ago - its not as if this is the first time its happened. Why is it so poorly handled?*

(*Sidenote - the govt claims that the high wages for top political leaders and civil servants is warranted to prevent corruption and to help attract top talent. But I'm puzzled why the same people are not banned from holding directorships in companies or even banned from property investment. Personally I think it creates a conflict of interest; how can a law maker who owns more than one property or hold financial interests in companies be expected to impartially decide on corporate reform, higher taxes or limitations for property investors/speculators. When you pay a worker so much you should expect him to be solely concerned about his job - not dabble in other businesses.)

Property prices rise is definitely going to impact upon all prices - increase in rent, increase in food prices, decrease in food quality, and wages have to be lowered to cope with the shortfall. Couples defer marriage because of rising property prices also impacts on population growth and the vicious cycle goes on.

This should be obvious to most people. But if you are an extraordinarily highly paid civil servant who can afford multi-properties and whose career has been planned since A-levels this might not be so obvious.

Singapore and perhaps its again not so obvious to some people -  is a really, really small country. Its like a tropical aquarium fish tank. There's not much space for the fish to move around.

Trying to compare ourselves with other countries like America, Australia, UK, Europe is problematic. Compared to us they enjoy an immense resource in land area - they have plenty of space to move around. In Singapore its practically impossible for most young 20 year old singles to afford a place of their own. Why can't the government build small HDB units for single young adults to live in - without having a parent in the next room?

Its funny yeah? The government complains that Singaporeans aren't giving birth to enough kids. Duh. How do they expect people to date and socialize when they're living with their parents at home? Or for that matter raise a large family in a small tiny flat?

But of course the government has the solution for this problem - importing foreign talent. That touted "6 million... maybe 10" figure will be a reality if the PAP keeps getting voted back into office.

Hey reminds me of this story of a bad parent who told his children - if you don't do well at school I'll kick you out and adopt new kids - and actually does it.

That's the PAP policy is in nutshell I think - if you don't like it - GET OUT - I'll find someone else to replace you. Then they complain about "quitters" without the least trace of irony.

Do that to a family and its a domestic crisis - do it to a nation and you're just inviting social upheaval.

The citizens who can get out - do - so how is left behind? A lot of disgruntled and unhappy citizens who are getting increasingly bitter. No points for guessing who they are eventually going to blame.

The problem with the government is that they are relying too heavily on the compliant good nature of Singaporeans. That multicultural society didn't just happen - 40 years ago we had racial riots - but the PAP back then solved that by providing affordable housing, hospitals, schools, transportation. (And of course jail for troublemakers or suspects) What's happened since then?

The problem with Singapore is the lack of a good strong effective Opposition to keep the Government in check. Even the most skilled soldier is going to be flabby if he doesn't train. The job of a good Opposition is to help the government think clearer - they can provide the independent critical attitude necessary to make government policy perfect.

Guess how a sword is made? Its forged in fire. Its hammered, beaten, reheated until all the dross has been burnt out.

Government policy is similar - without someone providing a critical look at it - all sorts of rubbish could be churned out. So in Singapore we had the "two is enough" policy, "Chinese people must speak Chinese" campaign, and created an educational system that is so harsh that students have to rely on tutors to survive... Meanwhile the govt brings in foreign workers - who didn't have to do NS, didn't have to bother with the problems of a 2nd language, and studied in a less harsh educational environment - to do their jobs. Seriously wtf?

Anyhow - back to why the PAP will probably lose the election if it carries on with the old paternalistic approach in government.

The way I see it - the Singapore citizen don't have much choice. Most of them are seeing

1. the government continuing to allow prices to go astronomically higher - esp for property and health care

2.- raising the age to withdraw the CPF which among other things prevents parents from helping their children purchase property of their own or to conduct further studies.

3. - allowing foreigners to purchase Singapore property - just great - someone has just thrown in a dozen  Oscar and piranha fish into that tropical fish tank metaphor.

4. - keeping wages low by importing foreigners - or not maintaining a sizable quota for Singapore citizens. Its a small fish tank lah that has guppies who the @#$% put in all those Oscar fish? And that 6 or 10 million population target... well everyone with half-a-brain knows what happens if the PAP keeps getting a majority.

5.  if Singaporeans are not qualified to do highly skilled job - then what is the Ministry of Education and Manpower been doing? What's the point in wasting the youth of entire generations only to produce people unfit for the modern work environment? Or why aren't they exerting more pressure on companies to help retrain workers? Oh wait, no Opposition to ask these sort of hard questions in Parliament. Never mind nothing to see here folks.

Singaporeans are being pressed against the wall by their own government. The danger as I see it is - if you don't give people any way out people get desperate. And desperate people tend to lash out.

What the government of Singapore needs now is for someone to seriously consider the problems that ordinary citizens face and deal with it effectively. Don't just walk over it. Usually a good Opposition would be keeping the government on its toes and preventing fubar policies from being enacted.

But the problem is that Singapore leaders are too cocooned from the problems of ordinary Singaporeans. I don't think there are any effective checks and balances in the Singapore Government. It just looks like one big entity to me. When MINDEF takes legal action against a Singapore inventor - who defends him inside the government? Isn't there an ombudsman or a watchman committee that could intervene? It just looks like the Singapore government vs the individual citizen. On a tangent theme - think of the number of NS men who died or terribly injured in the line of duty in the 1960s, 1970s, 1980s, 1990s... how much compensation did their families get from Mindef?
Why? Actually wtf didn't Singaporeans protest over that injustice?? For those people who support the PAP - think about if it happened to your son, your only boy.

When you're being paid multi-million dollar salaries and being advised by advisers who dare not dare rock the boat you're just as good as the Captain of the mighty Titanic sitting in his chair oblivious to the impending danger ahead. But don't worry! the Titanic is an unsinkable ship - the experts you hired said so - so it must be true. Full Steam ahead!!!