Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Make Community Service Compulsory For All Foreign Scholars

I refer to the article "NUS scholar fined S$3,000, gets 3 months community service" and applaud the disciplinary action taken by university provost Tan Eng Chye against the improper and insensitive behaviour of Sun Xu. In particular, I applaud the community service 'punishment' and would like to make a suggestion that all foreign scholars be required to complete compulsory community service as a prerequisite to graduation.

Compulsory community service ensures that these foreign students invest time and effort into the Singaporean community which spends millions of dollars to fund their education. It also ensures that they learn more about Singaporean culture and helps to integrate them into Singapore society.

Most importantly, it sends a clear moral message to students that academic achievement is meaningless if it is not accompanied by cultural sensitivity and a sense of social responsibility. It is time for us to require a substantial social return on our investment in foreign talent, rather than just contribution to GDP.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Good Job, Singapore Democratic Party

I have only just found the time to peruse the SDP's healthcare plan and while I do not necessarily agree with everything the SDP has to say, I must commend the SDP for gathering a team of experienced healthcare professionals, policy academics and other concerned Singaporeans to put together a credible proposal for the future of healthcare in Singapore.

It is indeed heartening to know that there are capable, qualified and experienced Singaporeans who are genuinely concerned about the future of this country and the direction in which it is headed. I am sure that in order to put together the proposal many hours of time and effort on the part of each of the SDP's healthcare panelists was required to put together this groundbreaking project.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Undergrad Girl Turned Stripper - A Case of Misguided Parenting

A sensational piece of news has been circulating on the internet about a 22 undergrad Singaporean girl who became an online stipper to satiate her appetite for attention.
S'porean girl becomes online stripper

inSing.com, 19 Mar 2012

...She had begun uploading ordinary photos of herself onto the Internet and to her surprise, garnered many praises for her good looks.

Netizens would leave messages for her, like, "You're so pretty, you must have a great figure too. Why not show it off?"

With the encouragement, she began to get bolder and started sharing sexy and revealing photos of herself.

Addicted to the praises and the attention, she took it a step further and began to strip and upload pornographic videos of herself on the internet.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

PAP Finally Comes to its Senses

After 15 years of madness, the PAP has finally come to its senses.

Ever since the 1997 National Day Rally speech when Goh Chok Tong announced the PAP shift in economic policy to open Singapore's doors to foreign talent, the PAP has gone on an ideological and public relations offensive to market and defend the foreign talent policy. At all levels, the policy was dogmatically defended - from the PAP parliamentary backbenchers, right up to the Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew himself.

The policy has literally wreaked havoc on this country.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Irrational Exuberance in the Singapore Property Market

Once upon a time in singapore, $800,000 would buy you a nice 1,200 sq ft condo in a decent location with full condo facilities. If you lived in one of these apartments, you would have been considered a relatively rich person and would have obtained one of the key achievements in the Singapore dream.

Fast forward to the present, however, and things are completely different. Today, the same $800,000 gets you only half the amount of space you would have gotten 10 years ago.
3-bedroom condo unit smaller than a squash court

Wednesday, Mar 21, 2012, Asia0ne

A new condominium in Bukit Batok is one of the smallest 3-bedroom unit to be built in singapore.

Measuring just 635 sq ft, the unit at Natura at Hillview Terrace is smaller than a squash court and slightly bigger than five HDB carpark spaces, reported The Straits Times.

A typical three-bedroom apartment is between 1,000 and 1,500 sq ft, said real estate consultants, and it is unheard of for a mass market project here to have three-bedroom units of such a compact size.

... Another company's projects, Treescape in Telok Kurau, also features micro three-bedders which start from 603 sq ft.

According to The straits Times, all 32 units have been sold since the project was launch, of which 25 units were sold last month at a median price of $1,401 per sq ft.

... Mr Tan Kok Keong from orangeTee's head of research and consultancy used Hong Kong as an example on whether such units will be well-received by the public.

He told The straits Times: "If you use Hong Kong as an example, yes it's liveable, but whether it's the kind of quality of life that people can get used to is something we actually won't know until the project is completed."

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Wage Hikes Across Asia...

Singapore's low-income wage earners have seen their wages stagnate since the late 1990s. Their counterparts in the region, however, are getting better news. Wall Street journal reports Tuesday [link] that minimum wages are getting a boost throughout many countries in Asia.
China's Wage Hikes Ripple Across Asia

Wall street Journal | By JAMES HOOKWAY in Kuala Lumpur, PATRICK BARTA in Bangkok and DANA MATTIOLI in New York

More Asian governments are pressing businesses to hike wages as a way to prevent outbreaks of labor unrest, raising the specter of higher manufacturing costs for global companies—and the products they sell world-wide.

In the latest move, Malaysia's cabinet has approved the country's first-ever minimum wage to be imposed soon, according to people familiar with the matter. The decision follows similar moves elsewhere in the region, as officials from Thailand to Indonesia follow efforts by China over the past two years to boost pay after years of widening gaps between rich and poor.


Beijing raised its minimum monthly wage by 8.6% to 1,260 yuan ($199) starting in January, according to the state-run Xinhua news agency. The following month, the southern boomtown of Shenzhen raised its compulsory monthly wage by nearly 14% to 1,500 yuan. The northeastern port city of Tianjin will raise its minimum wage nearly 13% to 1,310 yuan starting in April, Xinhua said.

China's moves, in part, have helped spur other such changes in the region. Indonesian workers in some areas have secured minimum-wage increases of more than 20% in recent months.Thailand plans to introduce a higher minimum wage beginning in April that will push salaries up about 40% in many parts of the country. Labor advocates in Cambodia, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh also are calling for higher wages.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

The Staggering Gap between Singapore's Rich and Poor

Official statistics by the World Bank indicate that Singapore has the highest Gini coefficient in the developed world. The Gini coefficient is an abstract mathematical economic indicator that measures the extent of income inequality in a country. Yet one doesn't have to be an economics guru to understand the extent of inequality in Singapore. Simply by browsing the newspapers, Singaporeans have been exposed to a much more visceral and concrete demonstration of Singapore's staggering gap between the rich and the poor.

On Monday, the following article was published in my paper:
You can have this bungalow for $68m

This five-bedroom good-class bungalow in Ridout Road comes with its own pool and tennis court.

Reico Wong | Mon, Mar 12, 2012 | my paper

The record $39-million sale of a Sentosa Cove seafront bungalow to a buyer from India, which made headlines earlier this month, may have raised many eyebrows.

But it is far from being the most expensive prestige landed home on the Singapore property market - in terms of absolute price - at the moment.

Sources told my paper that one of the priciest residential landed properties up for grabs is a five- bedroom good-class bungalow (GCB) in Ridout Road, off Holland Road.

Its owner is asking for $68 million, or about $1,670 psf, for the property, which occupies about 40,000 sq ft of land. The large plot of land, on which two GCBs can be built, is sited on a slope and comes with its own swimming pool and tennis court.

Thursday, March 08, 2012

Lui Tuck Yew and the Private Sector Delusion (and why you need to buy more personal accident insurance, now!)

Even after experiencing the worst public transport disruption in Singapore's history, minister for transport Mr Lui Tuck Yew is adamant that the government's public transport model is sound and that train and bus operations should stay in the hands of the private sector. The retired rear admiral yesterday reiterated the age-old PAP dogma that the profit incentive delivers the best outcomes for the public.
Public transport should stay a private matter: Tuck Yew

Business Times, March 8, 2012. By JOYCE HOOI

(SINGAPORE) Transport Minister Lui Tuck Yew yesterday defended the country's model of privately run public transport operators in Parliament. 'Our current model leaves the operations of trains and buses to commercial entities as we believe the long term public interest is best served this way.

'The profit incentive drives the operators towards higher efficiency and productivity, which keeps costs as low as possible . . . Otherwise, if the system is inefficiently run, the public will ultimately pay for the higher operating costs, either through higher fares, or greater government subsidies.'
Instead of launching into an abstract ideological rant about the pros and cons of private sector involvement in public transport, let me just recount the Singaporean experience with the PAP's so-called world-class transport framework.

Wednesday, March 07, 2012

Tuition Obsession: A Singaporean Dysfunction

Singapore is in some ways, a deeply dysfunctional society. You know so when you read mind-blowing headlines like this:

Parent pays nearly $6,000 a month in tuition fees

Maureen Koh | The New Paper | Tue Mar 6 2012

Her son is a straight A student in a top boys' school here yet this mother spends $5,800 a month on his tuition.

Her son, who is in Secondary 3, attends classes for English and mathematics at a premier tuition centre in Thomson once a week - two hours per session.

He also takes a 2 1/2-hour weekly Chinese class in a popular language school.

And he gets one-on-one tuition - each for about two hours - for physics, chemistry and biology with a private tutor.

All these classes are on top of the regular supplementary lessons that his school gives.

...To top it off, she pays people to do her son's homework when he can't cope with the combination of school and tuition assignments.

She pays $200 per hour if they have to swing by before midnight and $250 an hour when its later.