Singapore workers continue working under very unhealthy air conditions

Singapore workers continue working even when the PSI level has reached hazardous on the night before and remains at very unhealthy at present. The Ministry of Manpower has apparently refused to issue any stop order. Profits over people at work.

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Lee Kuan Yew’s legacy compared to Nelson Mandela’s

Like South Africa’s first elected President, Nelson Mandela, who is 93 this year, Singapore’s first Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew is also attributed largely for leading his country out from a myriad of social problems. Unfortunately, Lee Kuan Yew can only be envious of Nelson Mandela when it comes to having a successful legacy. The latter has became a fashion icon and an inspiration to those who promote peace, equality and the fight against racism.  Young people wear shirts with printouts of Nelson Mandela, products with the Nelson Mandela’s branding and nearly everyone has only but good words for the elderly statesman.

Nelson M.For LKY, his legacy are somewhat artificial. Like Nelson Mandela too, there have been conferments and public institutions and scholarships building under his name. But unlike Nelson Mandela, wearing a LKY shirt or making money out of his name is totally out of the question. While the commercial viability of LKY’s name is questionable, it is also noted that LKY has a history of suing and winning defamation lawsuits that bankrupts his naysayers.  When it comes to the popularity of LKY, Singaporeans are mixed. While many are appreciative of his contributions, a significant percentage are also critical, especially of his authoritarian policies adopted during Singapore’s early days. One thing for sure, LKY is not the people’s man.

Gone are the days when LKY whispers and everyone listens. Today, his speeches are scrutinized and dissected, and even responded angrily with. Here are some excerpts of his most terrible comments that you would never hear from Nelson Mandela speaking the same about his own people:

“If native Singaporeans are falling behind because “the spurs are not stuck into the hide,” that is their problem”
~ Interview with National Geographic, 20 Oct 2009

“I would say, today, we can integrate all religions and races, except Islam.”
~ The Hard Truths, 27 Jan 2011

Particularly to the latter statement, there were numerous calls for apologies from the world’s oldest office holder. But the chapter was ambiguously closed when he said he stand corrected – but the offending statement remains in the book.

Nelson Mandela’s son did not become the President. Neither did his daughter-in-law became the CEO of South Africa’s sovereign wealth fund company. Nelson Mandela did not detain his political opponents without trail for 32 years [Source], nor did he sue his critics into bankruptcy, forcing them to flee the country [Source]. He withdrew from politics when he was 79 years even though Africa still needs his mentorship and trusted advice. Nelson Mandela deserved all the accolades and public tributes for building the foundations of the peaceful and flourishing emerging market.

I wouldn’t say likewise for Lee Kuan Yew.

By Anonymous

PAP MP put up “No Playing” sign at playground

skw playground signIn a case of an extraordinary lack of common sense, Sengkang West PAP MP Dr Lam Pin Min put up a “No Playing” sign at a playground in his constituency at Blk 323B Sengkang East Way. The PAP MP said the sign was put up because he received complaints from residents about the noises children made at the playground.

The esteemed doctor from KK Hospital also claimed that the sign was erected 6 years ago under the previous managing agent of the town council, however most of the residents in the area said they have only seen it recently put up just a few weeks ago. Apparently most of the residents in his constituency must be liars because a PAP MP cannot be wrong. The PAP government handpicks the best of its wide pool of government scholars and its selection process was claimed to be so stringent that the candidates could not be easily attracted into serving the nation without a million dollar package.

The sign has since been taken down after several independent online news site ridiculed the sign of its redundancy.

By The Real Singapore

IMG_20130618_113712

The Transitive Property and the Problem of Singapore Finances

The transitive property in the study of logic defines how truths relates to each other.  The simplest example is if A = B and B = C then by definition A must equal C.  Taking a simple example, let’s assume that my friend tells me all cars are blue and that he has a car.  By extension I can know that my friends car is blue because my friend has a car and all cars are blue.  The transitive property provides us a way to reconcile truths against other things we know to be true.

Before proceeding to explain how this relates to Singaporean public finances, let me frame the transitive property in financial terms.  Let’s assume that my friend tells me on January 1st that he has $10,000 in an investment account.  I see my friend one year later and he tells me his investments made 10% last year.  I can safely assume that my friend has around $11,000 in his investment account.

There are two important points about the transitive property as it relates to finance.  First, if my friend tells me he starts off with $10,000 in an investment fund returns 10% in one year but then tells me he has $5,000 in his investment account, I know that my friend is leaving out important information.  Maybe my friend is only counting the gains on investments that did not lose money or maybe my friend went and bought a new car, but a 10% return on $10,000 with no other changes should leave $11,000 in the bank.  Second, while perfect information is always better, the transitive property allows us to work very logically with imperfect information.  For instance, if my friend tells me that he started the year with $10,000 in an investment fund and finished the year with $9,000, unless he spent money, I can safely assume his investments lost 10%.  I do not need perfect information to be able to figure out a lot about the finances of Singapore.

The Singapore government is trying its best to avoid the transitive property in defending its investment and public finance record.  Let me give you three examples of how we can use the transitive property to study Singaporean public finances.  First, Temasek claims that it has earned an annualized 17% since inception which gives us the ability to take the amount of money they currently have and calculate (estimate) backwards to how much they started with in 1974 or conversely calculate (estimate) how much they should have now based upon how much they claim to have started with.  We don’t need the government to provide us every piece of data and every number.

Second, we can estimate how Singapore is allocating investment funds between GIC and Temasek.  The reasoning is simple: if virtually any of the government surpluses and CPF funds after 1974 went to Temasek, it would have trillions of dollars given their claimed 17% return.  That would imply that either Singapore is sitting on trillions of undisclosed dollars or virtually all surpluses and CPF funds went to GIC.

Third, despite the popular belief that Singapore has not disclosed the size of their reserves, we can use the transitive property to calculate the size of GIC.  On the Singapore balance sheet published by the government they list their total assets.  We know how their total assets, Temasek assets, and government assets.  If the total amount of assets is the sum of the government , Temasek, and GIC, we can easily calculate the size of GIC.  Put another way if 50 = 10 + 20 + x, we can calculate the value of x.

Let’s put this into practice.  From 1974 through 2012, the sum of Singaporean debt and operational surpluses equaled $708 billion SGD.  According to their 2012 public balance sheet, the government of Singapore list $765 billion SGD in assets.  Please explain to me how Singapore saved and borrowed for investment purposes a total of $708 billion SGD between 1974 and 2012, claims to earn 17% and 7% over more than 30 years in Temasek and GIC, but only declares $765 billion SGD in assets.  Either investments are not earning what is claimed or money is being spent that is not being accurately reported.  There is noother explanation.

By definition Singapore cannot: a) invest $708 billion SGD b) claim a 17% and 7% return on investments over more than 30 years and c) only have $765 billion SGD.  One of these must be false. We can see clearly that only two of these three assertions can be true.

This is not a cultural problem, debt cost, currency loss, accounting issue, or government secrecy that is causing this discrepancy.  One of these claims has to be false.

If anyone wants to empirically point out where the error lies I will gladly listen.  However, I will not be intimidated by anyone.  Anyone.

By Christopher Baldings [Source]

Exposed: PAP Grassroots Leader caused the attack on AHPETC

The dispute between the AHPETC and NEA over the cleaning of Hawker Centres has been a huge exercise of political mud-slinging. Details which have just recently surfaced, however, indicate that the whole attack may have been initiated from the PAP side, at the grassroots level.

Workers’ Party claims that it is the victim of politicking (AHPETC: NEA Is Politically Motivated To Tarnish the Image of AHPETC), while NEA, backed by the Ministry of Environment and Water Resources, insist that WP is wrongly pushing the blame over the issue. (See NEA Blames WP for Not Paying Contractors to Clean Hawker Centres and Dr Balakrishnan: WP is Lying over the Hawker Centre Issue).

Is WP the victim of politicking or is WP just avoiding the blame for their mismanagement of cleaning costs?

In an attempt to provide clarification and ‘clear the air’, NEA released several documents related to the case (NEA Releases Doncuments in AHPETC Case) on June 9.

One of the documents released were ‘Petition letters submitted to the media on 3 June 2013 by the hawkers of Blocks 511 and 538 reflecting the consistent position taken by the hawkers throughout this incident.’

But how does this serve any proof? Why are there no names and signatures in both “petitions”? If you present such evidence in the Court of Law it will be thrown out right away!

The other interesting document was the quotation: It was seen that ATL, the maintenance contractor, had provided a quotation to the Market Association for both the scaffolding and cleaning of ceilings:

This quotation was used by the NEA to ‘prove’ that the AHPETC had charged the hawkers for the cleaning costs even though there was no proof that the towncouncil had ordered the quotation. Upon closer inspection, its seen that the quotation was addressed to a Mr Ng Kok Khim and indicated that Mr Ng had ordered the quotation.

This fact was also highlighted by AHPETC (AHPETC Refutes NEA Allegations): “NEA should know that ATL is an independent commercial company free to provide quotations to any party that requests it. It was the Market Association of Blk 538 Market that requested the quotation, as confirmed by ATL’s media release on 6 June 2013.”

“Attributing the quotation to AHPETC is misleading and politically motivated to tarnish the reputation of AHPETC.”

Despite WP clarifying the issue on many occasions, the quotation ordered by Mr Ng Kok Khim has continually been used by NEA to ‘prove’ that the towncouncil had attempted to charge the hawkers for the cleaning.

 

So who is this Mr Ng Kok Khim?

Some cyber CSI revealed that he is actually a PAP member and Grassroots Leader. He is a long-time PAP member who was commended in 2011 with a ‘Long Service Medal (Silver)’ [Link]:

Mr Ng Kok Khim is also a representative of the Market Association, which explains why he would be in a position to ask for a quotation from ATL. It is also odd that the address the quotation was sent to, Unit #01-651, is actually in the next block; Block 539. The unit is a shop called “B G Garment Department Store” which some of the local hawkers have indicated is linked to Mr Ng Kok Khim.

So why is the quotation ordered by Mr Ng, a PAP Grassroots member not associated in anyway with the WP towncouncil, being used to ‘prove’ that AHPETC was the one that had billed Hawkers for the cleaning process?

It is still unknown who exactly had told the Hawkers that they would have to pay for the cleaning services, but it is possible that Mr Ng may have used this quotation to mislead hawkers in an attempt to make them unsatisfied with the WP towncouncil. An attempt that clearly worked as evident from an e-mail TRS received from one of the Hawkers in the affected blocks a few weeks ago:

“I am angry and we will do petition tomorrow. I angry last time with everything going up and want to change MP but now have to pay more. All is the same, we citizen will suffer.”

It appears that political attacks can be mounted, successfully too, from the ground. This just goes to show how far reaching the PAP control really is. Even members of your community could be working indirectly for the PAP to ensure that support for the opposition is squashed.

By The Real Singapore

PAP Minister Tan Chuan Jin: Education subsidies is not a blank cheque

Speaking in the latest government PR exercise, the Singapore Conversation, Minister of Manpower Tan Chuan Jin audaciously stated that the PAP government is not able to financially support every option that furthers Singaporeans’ education. How did the PAP Minister came out with such a ridiculous claim when Education Expenditures as a percentage of GDP for Singapore in the world is a lowly 132 out of 173 countries.

According to the US’s CIA factbook [Source], Singapore spends only 3.3% of its GDP on Education. This miserable figure pales in comparison to Malaysia and South Korea at 5.1%. Millionaire Minister Tan Chuan Jin could be so shamelessly stating the opposite when his government has barely done enough for Singaporeans.

In Singapore, up to 20% of the locally subsidized universities are foreign students. Singaporean taxes are used to subsidies foreign students and for most of them on scholarships, with a monthly paycheck, free accommodation, free tuition fees and even guaranteed employment for the first 3 years after graduation. The PAP government has also always deliberately avoided giving a breakdown of the Ministry of Education’s Budget so Singaporeans will not know how many millions are given to foreign students each year.

Singaporean polytechnic and JC graduates have very low chances of getting into a government subsidized university because the PAP refuse to build more universities as they do not want more Singaporeans to be tertiary-educated. Huge investments have been made in ITEs and Polytechnics to contain Singaporeans’ education needs, but little or nothing has been spent on university education for Singaporeans.

Every year, only 10% of the polytechnic graduates and 70% of the JC graduates make it to a local university. The remaining ones pursuing a degree attend foreign universities based in Singapore. A private degree cost between $26,000 to $32,000, to which the PAP government gave ZERO subsidies to Singaporeans. Many Singaporean students landed themselves in hefty education debt as a result, and yet have to compete with foreigners with dubious degrees in the labor market.

By The Real Singapore

SAF leaders performing poorly as Ministers

1) BG Lee Hsien Loong

Under Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong’s watch, Singapore has the worst income gap, the lowest fertility rate, the most unhappy people and the highest cost of living. There are simply too many situations under his charge that pales Lee Hsien Loong as compared to his predecessor, Goh Chok Tong. And also as the People Action Party’s Secretary General, Lee Hsien Loong has led the party to its worst electoral performance ever with 2 consecutive losses in by-elections.

2) RADM Teo Chee Hean

The Deputy Prime Minister was caught sleeping in Parliament [Source] and even in front of a crowd during election rallies [Source]. His reputation tanked during the Punggol East By-election where he was busy politicking about Workers’ Party’s choice of candidate, Png Eng Huat, instead of focusing on key national issues.

3) RADM Lui Tuck Yew

The number of train breakdowns under Lui Tuck Yew’s leadership is simply astonishing. And we have not gone to the COE prices, $1.1 billion taxpayers’ monies to SBS and SMRT, sinkholes appearing on the roads and the overcrowding issue… Lui Tuck Yew has simply screwed up the Ministry of Transport.

4) MG Chan Chun Sing

Income gap widened further propelling Singapore to be the most unequal nation in the world, and yet the Minister of Community has not done anything to even alleviate the situation. Just recently a 31 year old single mother is believed to be driven by financial desperation to kill her 9 year old sickly son [Source]. Despite having raised up by a single mother in a low income family, Minister Chan Chun Sing seems to have no plans to improve upon the situation of the poor in Singapore.

5) BG Tan Chuan Jin

Under Minister of Manpower Tan Chuan Jin’s stewardship, productivity continues to fall and foreign employment population here remains as high as 40%. Singapore’s economy remains addicted to cheap foreign labor and salaries have continued to be depressed. What has the Minister of Manpower notably done so far? A lawyer’s letter of demand against Opposition member Vincent Wijeysingha for a compensation of $20,000 or face a defamation law suit [Source].

Below is a list of the positions other former paper generals and admirals are currently in:

Position Name Rank in SAF
Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong Brigadier General
Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean Rear Admiral
Minister of Transport Lui Tuck Yew Rear Admiral
Minister of MCYS Chan Chun Sing Major General
Minister of Manpower Tan Chuan Jin Brigadier General
SMRT CEO Desmond Kuek Bak Chye Lieutenant General
NEA CEO Ronnie Tay Yong Hee Rear Admiral
ASTAR Chairman Lim Chuan Poh Lieutenant General
Temasek Holdings MD Ng Yat Chung Lieutenant General
PUB CEO Chew Men Leong Rear Admiral
Education Perm Sect Neo Kian Hong Lieutenant General

The other organization taking up mostly MP seats and Ministerial positions is NTUC, the state-control workers’ union. We will cover that in another post.